Towards Enlightenment !In India it is Diwali today . It is a festival of diyas ( lights ). This is to spread the dominion of soul (enlightened individual conscience ) over that of body ( human greed). The festival reminds us of India’s age-old yearning for the victory of light over darkness.I wonder when humanity would attain the goal sublime ! There is still so much of darkness in the forms of poverty, squalor, illiteracy and violence around the world . We often brag ours is an era of democracy. But the world is still dominated by the few even in some parts of our planet that is supposed to be genuinely democratic. In a greater part of the world we still have dictators, kings and sultans. There is little difference in the life of the masses in the greater part of the world. They continue to remain more of less where they were --- suffering from the same old pains and hardships in their day-to day life. In India we have a great Constitution . It has ideals of justice, liberty, fraternity and equality . But we have still miles to go to translate these ideals into reality . Generally, the operators of the system have little respect for the values of democracy. Apparently , they call themselves people’s representatives ( servants ) . But they continue to remain monarchical-feudal in their temperament in practice. There are elements among them whose lifestyles would make even the worst of monarchs and princes in our history jealous of them. Ruling elites, including those in the opposition waiting in the wings, and their bureaucratic- intellectual accomplices are often united in cornering all kinds of worldly benefits for themselves . The benefits of development are still to reach the masses . One of the most important reasons for this predicament is ignorance . Because of this state of our mind too many crooks and allies in every field of our national life—political, bureaucratic, intellectual--- have thrived in our system over the years . It is because of this ignorance that such thugs often succeed in polarizing the society along the lines of castes and creeds and capturing political power to our detriment. Must not we take a solemn pledge today to move forward in the direction of dispelling this ignorance ? The other day I was at Gaya in Bihar. I went to the Great Banyan Tree, under which Lord Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment. Way back I got hold of a book on Buddhism . This book contains the legendary Indian statesman B. R. Ambedkar’s elaboration of the Lord’s famous gospel , “Atta deepo Bhav” ( Be Light unto oneself ). The statesman says something like this : “Our struggle for development is long and difficult . We must continue to fight for our own emancipation.” What a great , sure path !