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Holaka Krida(होलाका क्रीड़ा) : Annual Deva Yajna(देव यज्ञ) for Masses

ग्राफिक्स चित्र संदर्भ:
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 Holaka
From the references of Sabara and Jaimini bhashya on Purvamimasa-sutra, it appears that the original word is होलाका. [1]

होलाका is a festival of unmixed gaiety and frolics throughout India. Although, all parts of India don’t celebrate it same way, but one element is common across India i.e. element of fire. In fact, all colors represent one or another state of fire. (What we perceive using eyes, very much relies upon the healthy state of आलोचक पित्त and आलोचक पित्त works works in tandem with all other four pitta sub-dosha-s that govern our body: पाचक पित्त  in the stomach, रंजक पित्त  in the liver, साधक पित्त  in the heart, and भ्राजक पित्त in the skin.).

Further, होलाका is considered as one of the 20 public/community Krida(s) found and observed in different regions of the Bharata. These 20 क्रीड़ा(s) are mentioned in Vatsayayan’s Kama-sutra (1.4.12) [2]

समूह क्रीड़ा होलाका is explained by Kama-sutra commentator Jayamangala as comprising the sprinkling of colored water on each other on Phalgun full moon. (Please note: Sprinkling of water or colored powder. It will help to connect the dots later in the reading.)

होलाका – क्रीड़ा of Sprinkling of Water.

Why समूह क्रीड़ा on certain day? Why समूह क्रीड़ा during Vasant?

To answer above questions, we must understand word क्रीड़ा and to understand word क्रीड़ा, we must start from the word यज्ञ. So, how many types of यज्ञ one is prescribed to perform by Dharma Śāstra?

If one is living life (or trying to live) as per वैदिक धर्म, following verse is well known about यज्ञ.
अध्यापनं ब्रह्म यज्ञः पित्र यज्ञस्तु तर्पणं। 
होमोदैवो बलिर्भौतो न्रयज्ञो अतिथि पूजनं॥
(मनु स्मृति 3.70)
There are many types of यज्ञ but one must perform at least पंच महायज्ञ as prescribed by मनु स्मृति and शतपथ ब्राह्मण of यजुर्वेद.

What consists of पंच महायज्ञ?
(1) ब्रह्मयज्ञ – Intellectual nourishment of self by reading and deciphering Nature/God with the help of Vedas.
(2) देवयज्ञ – To nourish Dev-s by the Dev-s work for us
(3) पितृयज्ञ – Selfless work to protect कुल/परंपरा since परंपरा are blueprints for living in certain environmental conditions based on geography of the land.
(4) भूतयज्ञ – Selfless love and nourishment towards rest of the living world(animals, trees, plants, birds). Unlike those who consider COW as mother just because she is economically helpful.
(5) मनुष्ययज्ञ – Selfless love and nourishment of fellow human beings. Nurture their humanity. Ignite their humanity by your selfless यज्ञ in which you give आहुति of their ignorance. Help others to realize their divine potential!

Here, our focus is होलाका, so let us understand देवयज्ञ in details.

देवयज्ञ means selfless nourishment of देव within so that they can work with their full efficiency and देवत्व can reflect as culmination effect. If you don’t take care of देव(s) within, they will not work effectively and hence you remain in shoddy human state, full of despair, anger and pain, wasting precious life time.

To understand meaning of any Sanskrit word, it is necessary to understand context in which word is used and different synonyms to strengthen the meaning of the word.Let us see some references to understand meaning of word देव.

देव is derived form of दिवु धातु. So देव’s characteristics are tapped in meanings of दिवु dhatu. As per Panini’s grammar, दिवु is क्रीड़ाविजिगीषाव्यवहारद्युतिस्तुतिमोदमदस्वप्नकान्तिगतिषु

(1) क्रीड़ा – The one who consider life as a play is DEVA
(2) विजिगीषा – The one who has winning attitude is DEVA
(3) व्यवहार – The one who is excelled in communication, conducts, commerce, customs, civility is DEVA
(4) द्युति – The one whose life is bright is DEVA
(5) स्तुति – The one who can praise others(humans, animals, nature) genuinely is DEVA (Genuine praise is very vital part of positive psychology! Those who have studied HR subjects, must be knowing this)
(6) मोद – The one who is constantly working for establishing delight in society/ecosystem
(7) मद – The one who is able to take pride of self and at the same time can sacrifice it.
(8) स्वप्न – The one who has dream/a lofty selfless goal to be meditated on for betterment of mankind
(9) कान्ति – The one from whose life, spiritual splendor is constantly radiating.
(10) गति – The one who is constantly changing, गमनशील.

So, क्रीड़ा is important aspect of vedic life. Life must feel like play and play must be played like यज्ञ, selflessly. To prepare our intellect for selfless living, rigorous physical क्रीड़ा under active team sport is very essential. Krishna was not fool who inspired Gokul youth to play Hockey on the banks of Yamuna. He created army to fight against mighty कंस, out of simple cowherds’ youth of Gokul, on playground, by playing Hockey – a simulation of sacrifice and war.

क्रीड़ा is code of life. Inevitable necessity.

What sport can fit best as क्रीड़ा?
– The one which instill विजिगीषाव्यवहारद्युतिस्तुतिमोदमदस्वप्नकान्तिगति in player
– The one which nourishes Dev-s inside in totality (Elements, Energy and Catalysts who created our body and maintaining it since birth)
– The one which inspire selfless living
– The one which is efficient in terms of Time spent vs nourishment gained.
– The one which won’t promote one directional growth
– Most important, क्रीड़ा should best simulate Dev-s working in our body
i.e. as electrifying as signals propagates between two neurons, as energetic as digestive fire, as vigilant as retina

क्रीड़ा is emulation of universe within. To realize it, one must perform क्रीड़ा daily. क्रीड़ा is one mandatory way of self-realization. Without it, one cannot attain self-realization.

Now, go back to Holaka. Understand and realize entire ritual and festivity in terms of Krida. Connect it with the elemental fire.

अग्नि – देव – यज्ञ – क्रीड़ा – फाल्गुन – पूर्णिमा

सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः।
अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्टकामधुक्॥3.10॥ 
The Creator, having in the beginning (of creation) created mankind together with sacrifice, said, “By this shall ye propagate; let this be the milch cow of your desires (the cow which yields all the desired objects).

I interpret this verse as: Mankind was created along with sacrifices or mankind was created by sacrifice. यज्ञ word has depth but for the simple understanding, in chapter 3 context, it means selfless work for others (fellow travelers on earth) wellbeing. Only way to fulfill all desires/wishes is to perform यज्ञ and let यज्ञ be our ista-kama-dhuk i.e. The way of living.

In next verse, Krishna prescribes:
देवान्भावयतानेन ते देवा भावयन्तु वः।
परस्परं भावयन्तः श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ॥3.11॥ 
With this (यज्ञ) you must gratify the Dev-s and let the Dev-s gratify you; thus gratifying one another, you shall attain the highest good.

I understand: यज्ञ or selfless living is the way to nourish Dev-s in our body. Who are Dev-s in our body? For me, they are primary elements (8 वसु), energy forces (11 रूद्र), and catalysts (12 आदित्य) as mentioned in Ved-s and Brāhman-s who made and maintained different organs and senses for me so far. Since all Dev-s in our body perform selfless work for our existence, it is our duty to nourish them, take care of them without fail, of course for better living.

Why nourish Dev-s in the body?
इष्टान्भोगान्हि वो देवा दास्यन्ते यज्ञभाविताः।
तैर्दत्तानप्रदायैभ्यो यो भुङक्ते स्तेन एव सः॥3.12॥
The Dev-s, gratified with necessary action will grant you the things sacrificed. Hence, whosoever enjoys their gifts without offering them to these Dev-s, he is surely a thief. 

If you don’t take care of your body, you are THIEF. We don’t want to be a thief. Hence, Holaka celebration. Let the gaiety of phalgun and full moon, be experienced by Dev-s! Participate in देव यज्ञ!

Oh, btw, did you understand the motive behind water/color sprinkling on each other? No spoon feeding. Experience first :). Realize it as a part of स्व-अध्ययन.


References:
[1] History of Dharma Śāstra by P V Kane Vol V – Part I
[2] History of Dharma Śāstra by P V Kane Vol V – Part I


Article by:
Nisarg Joshi

A computer engineer, farmer, Gaupālak, teacher and student,
Vadodara, Gujarat