Publishers' Note to the Third Edition
As time passes, contexts change and the relevance of a book written many years ago gains new significance. So it is with The Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals.
In this 21st century as people have fully merged into consumerism, the intention and drive behind celebrating festivals has completely been erased making them yet another occasion for celebration in the secular sense, an occasion to indulge in more clothes, more food, more adornments, filling the moment which was intended for spiritual ascent with noise and material – both antithetical to the original intention.
This book is intended for anyone who wants to go deeper into why festivals came to be, their historical origin and critically their spiritual significance. Those who are already on the path spiritual will find terrific acceleration to their endeavors, enhanced meaning to their understanding thus far and a new spirit to their pace. Others will find a clarification for why they need to alter their approach to 'celebrating' these moments in history that repeat year after year. It is very striking, even if obvious, that these events repeat year after year as if God Himself is giving us yet another chance to renew our relationship with life.
This book is a compilation of the lectures on religious festivals, delivered by Swami Krishnananda on different occasions. Swamiji has only briefly hinted at the 'story' behind the festival while his effort has been entirely to stress the significance of the rituals of a festival with the spiritual ascension of man. As the Publisher's Note to the second edition rightly observed, "There is a meaning behind every act, or ritual in the religious field, even as there is a hidden purpose behind the implementation of any project or the doing of any work. Rarely are religions seen to awaken themselves to the spirit that they are expected to convey, the living flame which they enshrine and without which they remain forms without content."
Since these were lectures in their original form, the transcription seeks to retain the spoken word form more to transport the enriching, divine flavour of Swamiji's words and feelings to the reader. This is experienced distinctively in the lectures in the Appendix, which carry with them extra fire and intensity, especially since the subject matter itself was such.
We are pleased to release this third edition of Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals on the auspicious occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Mahasamadhi of Revered Sri Swami Krishnanandaji. May his blessings and grace fill us even as we soak in the words of his messages.
23rd November 2006.
—THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY