Hope is imagination.
Hope is faith in humanity.
Hope is potential visualized.
Hope is innovation.
Hope is bravery.
Hope is dreaming big.
Hope is faith in a more superb future.
If there’s one Hindu goddess that could embody hope itself, it would be Ushas, the Vedic goddess of the dawn.
She’s described in the Rg Veda as a young woman riding in a golden chariot drawn by one hundred horses throughout the sky.
She is the cosmic energy that immediately precedes the start of each earthly day, and she drives away the darkness and chases away evil demons.
My teacher likens the imminence of the dawn to the strike of a match – that moment just before the light bursts above the horizon, setting all things in motion, rousing life with the promise of a new day.
Usha’s light is the light of consciousness and triumph (“jyoti agat”) which she sends out to everyone sleeping, along with happiness, riches, and all good things.
Being a baby day, she naturally invites possibility, fresh opportunity, and the fact that anything can happen.
Ushas falls in love with the sun, her consort, Surya. She gently steals into the atmosphere of the earth just before he suffuses the skies with golden-orange luminosity. He dissolves her to be renewed each day, just as we must go to sleep each night to be renewed.
Ratri, her younger sister, is the cosmic energy of the night. Ratri’s darkness engulfs our consciousness in sleep which heals and revives us through a temporary hibernation of the mind and senses. When Ushas rises, the night is dark and deep, and the sky begins to adorn her with its colors.
Ushas follows Ratri as surely as spring follows winter, in an unfailing rhythm called ‘Rta’ in Sanskrit. In this rhythm, the sisters give way to each other in a mutual passage, where they each get what they want (the stirring of night and day), but never collide.
What can we learn from Ushas?
- The gift of longevity – To offer yourself to the dawn is to offer yourself to longevity, because when you’re alive long enough, you will see her again and again with each new day. Commit to your wellbeing as you age, and commit to seeing yet another day.
- Hopes are like the dawn – They are supposed to have short but profound windows. Will you step into hope? Will you carry forward and seize the moment, the day?
- When you wake in the morning, you can either get up with the weight of the world on your shoulders or the light of the dawn. As my teacher’s teacher would say, “Make the first thought or thing you do when you wake be auspicious.” The alternative is to wake up and say “oh shit!” and start the day in a state of doom.
In a world of unending heartbreak, Ushas reminds us that if we lean in collectively, united in the hopes of making positive change, anything is possible.