Vedantic Wednesday : The fire of knowledge

As I was talking to someone about symbolism in our spiritual practice, he put to me a very simple question. Why does fire signify knoweldge in vedic practices? While I could come up with answers ranging from it dispels darkness, it burns our ignorance, I knew I was lacking originality that is so characteristic of our ancient sages. Then he gave the answer which sounded so simple, so obvious yet so elusive.  Amongst all things man knows, sees and observe, fire is the element that rises up instead of falling down. The way fire rises up, knowledge is supposed to elevate a man, helping him to understand his true nature.

He also added this is the reason why a student was required to offer to his guru ‘Samit’ or sacrificial faggots.  During the ancient vedic times, ashramas or residential schools run by vedic teachers used to conduct regular fire rituals.  The student when approaching a teacher does so with a samit on his head. He offers the samit to the teacher or Guru and this is saying that ‘I submit to you. I am yours. Please give me the knowledge and remove my ignorance.’ This samit would be used to feed the fire, around which knowledge would also be transferred from the guru to his students.


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