Pālki at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān

photos of Ramnath and Kamakshi in Palki at Ramnathi Devasthan by Arun Shanbhag
Hindus believe that all things animate and in-animate (manifest or unmanifest) are part of the universal divine consciousness. We generally refer to this divine consciousness as “That”, because any attribute you give it is limiting (see Sant Tulsidas’ beautiful verse describing “That” divine consciousness; also this post on Dwija). In common parlance, we refer to “That” as Paramātmā or eternal soul (1). It thus follows that all humans are part of this eternal soul or Paramātmā. The corollary then is that Paramātmā too includes human qualities, strengths and frailties, and expresses human emotions. Purān and itihās (history) are filled with their anthropomorphed lore. In our temples, we adore our divine just like we would our valued guests. In the common Hindu puja, we pamper our divine guest with 16 services (shodasho upchār) like if she was a valued friend, like cleaning her feet, helping her brush, bathe, providing new clothes, jewelry, sumptuous feasts, etc.

Completing this anthropomorphization our temple bound deities like to go out on the town and have fun. Wouldn’t you if you were couped up in a tiny garbha-griha? Thus in many communities, devotees take their temple deities out for a ride in a specially designed pālki (palanquin) (2).

Every Monday evening at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān, Rāmnāth Dev sits in a pālki and is carried around the grounds. It’s a festive occasion with a small band playing and devotees chanting bhajans. Following tradition, the pālki has designated stops where aarti is performed and verses of the Mangalāshtak are chanted. Pālki is followed by a sumptuous prasād (yaay).

On special occasions, Rāmnāth Dev is accompanied by Kāmākshi Devi on his jaunt around the temple grounds. These pictures are from the recent Mahā Shivrātri when Rāmnāth and Kāmākshi went around the temple in their respective pālki (3) . While Rāmnāth sits in his simple pālki, Kāmākshi, verily the Goddess of Desire and Sensuality, tours in style, high on an elephant pālki. How cool is she?


Notes:
1. The word God doesn’t exist in Hindu vocabulary and is a Western construct.
2. In Mumbai you commonly see Muslims take their sacred deity out on the town; recently in Kumta, I noticed the local christians in a procession with their deity in a pālki.
3. Plural of pālki remains pālki and not the anglicized pālkis.

Amma coming to Boston, July 2012

Mata Amritanandamayi Amma Devi Bhava Arun Shanbhag
Amma in Devi Bhava during her Boston visit in 2011.

Dates for Amma‘s (Mata Amritanandamayi) Boston tour have been announced and Registration is now open for the Retreat. Here, you can read about my fabulous, life-altering experience with Amma. Hope to see some of you there.
Continue reading “Amma coming to Boston, July 2012”

Break at a Marathi Village

Father and Daughter eating a banana behind the Devi Temple, pics by Arun Shanbhag

During our AstaVinayak (Eight Sacred Ganapati Temples) tour, we stopped at a roadside eatery in rural Maharashtra. After a simple meal (roti & sabzi for us; curd (yogurt) and rice for Meera), I sauntered over to a village square. Continue reading “Break at a Marathi Village”

Dussehra: Glory to Durga Devi 2011

Durga Devi preparation, Mumbai 2011 by Arun Shanbhag

Shristhī-sthīthī-laya kārinī
Cause of this creation, sustenance & dissolution

Wishing you all a Wonderful Dassara.
M&M & A

Continue reading “Dussehra: Glory to Durga Devi 2011”

Meeting Amma in Boston

Mata Amritanandamayi Amma

Prema rasāmrta varshini mātā amrtānandamayi |
Prema bhakti sandāyani mātā amrtānandamayi ||

Showers us with immortal nectar of love, O mother;
Grant us the capacity for love & bhakti (selfless devotion), O mother Amritanandamayi ||

Two weeks ago, I got the opportunity to experience darshan of Mata Amritanandamay, better known as Amma. What started as a casual email invite, turned into a life fulfilling experience. Below, I have used my tweets to supplement my notes. Continue reading “Meeting Amma in Boston”

Diwali: Madurai Meenakshi Temple

photos of Lighting Oil Lamps at the Meenakshi Temple Madurai by Arun Shanbhag
Lighting Oil Lamps at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai

On this joyous Diwali,
Wishing you and all your loved ones
God’s amazing grace.

Coz, with it comes
Peace, Good Health and Success!

Happy Diwali
Meera, M & A


Continue reading “Diwali: Madurai Meenakshi Temple”

Bookseller in Goa

shyamsundar desai bookseller mardol goa Arun Shanbhag
With M & m in Mumbai, I stay at work longer, workout harder and run further. With friends, I laze around more; that means less blogging. But I want to share this beautiful pic of a bookseller I met in Goa.

We were on our way back to the Ramnathi Devasthan after visiting some Konkani temples. On the rural stretch, the driver pulled over to a roadside bookstall for a newspaper. I followed, wondering if here in the heart of Konkani Goa, I could find some of our Hindu scriptures. For long I wanted a “loose-leaf” version of the Devi Mahatmyam – the popular scripture detailing the genesis of the mother goddess, Devi. The kind used by priests for parayaN (chanting) in temples.

Here, a priest at the Ramnathi Devasthan recites the Devi Mahatmyam from a loose-leaf manuscript. Continue reading “Bookseller in Goa”

Diwali: Tribute to Lakshmi

picture of Devi Lakshmi Mahalakshmi Diwali by Arun Shanbhag

On this Wonderful Diwali,
May the Grace of Lakshmi bring you and your loved ones
Peace, Health and Prosperity!

Happy Diwali!
Meera, M & A


Notes are excerpted from my book, Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms;
© Arun Shanbhag

Mahalakshmi

As Goddess of Good Fortune and Wealth, Lakshmi embodies abundance and prosperity. She is eternally benevolent and adored as the shakti or power of Vishnu.
Continue reading “Diwali: Tribute to Lakshmi”

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