Many millennia before recorded history in the Eolithic, Paleolithic and the Neolithic eras-Man like the other species lived in caves and forest. He wandered about hunting and, when no game was killed he ate such wild fruits and roots as were available to satisfy his hunger. He seldom could venture out after sunset. Darkness was to him a demon and the Sun, the giver of light a deity. With the passage of time he made another discovery, fire. He found was like giving and life-sustaining. Born of Aranees i.e. igniting sticks, this God banishes darkness, frightens the demon and invokes the light. He is the supreme counselor, ancient but eternally young.
Among the light of fire, the light of the sun, the light of the moon, this lamp is the best of lights -Skandapurana
A Kinnari Lamp from South India
With the deepa, the lamp begins a new chapter in civilization that which may be called the Deepa-yuga. As the symbol of Surya and Agni, the light has always been deemed auspicious. It was dutifully and religiously offered to him who bestowed it upon mankind. The lamp was indispensable for prayer. It was a stick with token of devotion, supplication and benediction. The Gods were believed to dwell by the light of the holy lamp. Its very existence helped man to shed the fear of the dark. To man, light was knowledge.
The lamp was sacred; and once its August function was gratefully accepted by man, it was but natural that he should try to adorn it with beauty and grace cover that he should make Sundara what was Shiva. The body of the lamp, to begin with, was of stone or shell. Later the innovation of Terracotta lamp and then metal lamps. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two great epics, make extensive reference to lamps of Gold and of precious stones. Because of tips uncontested place lamp should have found mention in the ancient scriptures and secular writing.
Thongavillaku or the eternal lamp found in Chola inscriptions of South India.
Mythology has made a powerful and continuous impact on the evolution of the lamp. The ten incarnations of the God Vishnu have been an unfailing source of inspiration for the lamp- maker. The lamp has a two-fold function. It is the veera of light for common use; and it also has a votive use at the time of domestic rites and festivals. There are many types of votive lamps; lamps with large pedestals which shed a steady light over spacious halls, little lights used for daily domestic worship, lamps for offering-archana-deepa; prayer lamps-aarti-deepa; and the nandadeepa, the eternal lamp which illumines the inner sanctuary of the temple. Also used to adorn the sanctuary are Deep-lakshmi , shaped in the form of graceful females, these are anything from 7 inches 7 feet in height, and are of brass or carved stone. This represents the divine history of lamps in India.