Phalguni refers to the fruit of life. We have known this for thousands of years in this culture, but today, studies have found that there is a certain movement of water in the soil during the full moon. Particularly during the Phalguni moon, the sun rises with full intensity in the northern hemisphere. Together, they make the water naturally rise. That means every tree and plant finds more nourishment around this time than any other time of the year. That is why they are full of flowers and fruits. Life bursts in every way. Holi means recognising that life is an exuberant process. On this day, all over India, people apply colours to each other. They are covered from head to toe in all kinds of colours to symbolise that the essence of life is exuberance.
Burning the past
The reason why life has become so serious for people is because of their inexperience in dealing with their cerebral capabilities — the two most fundamental faculties of memory and imagination. People remember everything that they should not and forget everything that they should remember. They imagine things that they should not, but they cannot imagine something that will make their life beautiful.
Most of human life goes in mulching on one’s memories. A handful of people are experiencing life right now. People are taking pictures and selfies of everything everywhere because they will go home and mulch on those pictures. They are only capable of enjoying their memories; they are not capable of enjoying their life. This is a serious problem. Our vivid sense of memory is one of the greatest faculties we have, but unfortunately, most human beings use this as a way of suffering. They can sit here and suffer what happened even five to 10 years ago like it is happening to them now. Essentially, they are suffering something that does not exist.
Between life and memory, memory is information; life is a phenomenon. If the phenomenon of life has to happen to you, you must know how to keep a little distance between you and your memories. But the moment you put a negative label on situations that happened in the past, they are the ones that stick to you.
Holi is the day to burn them so that you can look at life as an experiential phenomenon once again rather than as information that you have from the past. You can go far in life only when you can leave your past. This is like a snake shedding its skin. One moment it is a part of the body, the next moment it is shed and the snake goes on without turning back. If every moment, one is like a snake leaving the skin behind, only then there is growth.
Allowing life to blossom
Holi means burning all the unnecessary things in our life. On the streets across the country, people burn Holika — an embodiment of all sorts of negativity. In southern India, generally, people bring out old clothes and other things that they do not need, pile them up on the streets and burn them. This is not about burning old clothes, this is about burning the memories of the past one year so that today you can be like a fresh life, exuberant and on.
This is also the day when we burn everything that does not allow us to reach our fullness — our anger, our negativity, our hatred, our jealousy, our pettiness, our fears, anxieties, and various other things which crunch a human being into a small creature. When you have these kinds of emotions and thoughts, you are just like any other creature. They do not allow you to blossom.
So, burning up all those things which impede the possibility of your fullness is what Phalguni Purnima and Holi are about.
(Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the ‘Padma Vibhushan’, India’s highest annual civilian award, by the Government of India in 2017, for exceptional and distinguished service.)