The flame

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A flame ignites our imagination. I have always wondered what does “fire” consist of. I have not found an answer as yet. I was a student of chemistry but still could not understand it. One thing I have understood is that fire generates light and heat.

A flame could mean different things for different people and in different contexts. Lets start with a teenager or an young adult. A flame could mean a person of the opposite sex, who ignites the passion in this person.

A villager may look at a flame as a source of fuel to cook food or keep himself warm during winters. It could also be significant from a religious perspective too. The flame in the forest could mean loss of life or livelihood.

The flame is a symbol of religious significance for a Hindu. A flame is burnt every day by the Hindus at homes and in temples to worship God. It is also used in religious ceremonies to offer our salutations to God. A flame is God in shapeless form.

When a building or a factory is in flames it is destructive. It can lead to loss of lives, property and livelihood. But a spark neglected may light the flame. This could be a good lesson in life. Are we neglecting sparks in our lives, which may lead to flames and ultimately destroy our lives and livelihood.

A flame is also a symbol of God in churches and other religious institutions. This symbolises that all religions lead us to the same destination. In my view, various religions are different paths leading us to the same God. We may call God by different names but the end is the same.

One of the interesting aspects of the flame is that it has no bias. It provides light to everyone with equal measure. If you tamper with it, it may burn you without any discrimination. It does not discriminate between the haves and have nots. One lesson the flame teaches us is to be unbiased in all our dealings in life.

Another interesting dimension of a flame is that it gives heat and light without expecting anything in return. This is a good quality to imbibe. It may be worthwhile to attempt giving to others without expecting anything in return. It is like the saying that the left hand should not know what the right hand is giving.

In the darkness of night, a flame can be the only source of light when electric power may also fail. It is interesting that man made sources of power and light are not always dependable but flame is. This shows that nature is beyond human imagination and we need to protect and preserve nature.

There is also a flame within us. We may call it our spirit or our soul. It keeps us ignited and always on our toes. It helps us to distinguish between the right and the wrong provided we are willing to listen to this internal flame.

Let the flame be lighted within us always.

S Ramesh Shankar

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