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.

Aśṭa Vināyak – Pilgrimage to Eight Gaṇeśa Temples – A Photo Essay

Pics from AstaVinayak Tirth Yatra Maharashtra by Arun Shanbhag In the Indian state of Maharashtra, a tīrth yātra (pilgrimage) to visit eight ancient temples to Gaṇeśa (Aśṭa Vināyak) is mentioned in the puranas and considered very sacred. These eight temples, each with exquisitely beautiful Gaṇeśa murtīs, are in tiny villages, scattered around the mountainous terrain between Mumbai and Pune. After much procrastination, last February we were called on this short, beautiful and spiritually uplifting tīrth yātrā. Continue reading “Aśṭa Vināyak – Pilgrimage to Eight Gaṇeśa Temples – A Photo Essay”

Hanuman Mandir Picket Rd Mumbai

Hanuman Jayanti Maruti at the Picket Rd Hanuman Temple pics by Arun Shanbhag



Shree guru charan saroj raj, nija manu mukuru sudhari |
Baranau raghubar bimal jasu, jo dayak phal chaari ||

With the mirror of the mind, cleansed by the dust of the lotus feet of my Guru;
(listen) to the unblemished glory of Hanuman, exalted one of the Raghu dynasty, who can bestow the four fruits (dharma, artha, kaama and moksha)

Wishing you all a wonderful Hanuman Jayanti!

Continue reading “Hanuman Mandir Picket Rd Mumbai”

Break at a Marathi Village

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, yogurt and rice for Meera), I ambled over to the 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”

Ganapati at the GSB Muth, Wadala

Ganapati at GSB Wadala by Arun Shanbhag

The GSB Wadala Muth Ganapati holds some of my fondest memories of sarvajanik (public) Ganapati. At 8 ft, it is not the largest of the Ganapatis, but certainly one of the most artistically excuted and ‘constant.’ Even though the artisans craft a new murthy from clay each year, this murthy has not changed one bit over the last three decades. The size is limited by the doorway to the hall where this Ganapati sits. The GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati contrarily, is built on and sits on a trolley which is covered under a huge outdoor tent. On visarjan day, the stage is dismantled and the trolley with the Ganapati is pulled out. The Wadala Ganapati is wheeled/carried out of the hall, placed on a trailer and taken to Shivaji Park for immersion.
Continue reading “Ganapati at the GSB Muth, Wadala”

Ganapati at GSB Seva Mandal

pictures of GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati 2011 2012 by Arun Shanbhag

The GSB Seva Mandal is one of the largest Sarvajanik (public) Ganapati celebrations in Mumbai. The murthy is 14 ft tall and all pujas ( devotional services) are performed in Sanskrit following traditions prescribed in ancient scriptures. See pics from our 2009 visit here.
Continue reading “Ganapati at GSB Seva Mandal”

Chinmaya Maruti; New Year Greetings 2011

Picture of Hanuman Maruti by Arun Shanbhag


Jai Hanuman Gyan Guna Sagar
Jai Kapis Tihun Lok Ujaagar

Glory to Hanuman
Limitless ocean of wisdom and virtue,
Glory to leader of primates
Whose fame lights the three worlds

In the New Year!
May the gracious Hanuman guide you
To overcome weakness, and
Use your strength to serve the Divine!

Meera, M & A

Continue reading “Chinmaya Maruti; New Year Greetings 2011”

Ganapati and Gauri Puja

Aarti of Ganapati Mumbai Arun Shanbhag

Na tatra suryo bhaati na chandra tarakam
nema vidhyuto bhanti kutoyamagnihi |
tameva bhantam anubhati sarvam
tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati ||

Sun cannot illumine him, nor the moon, nor the stars
Lightning cannot, much less this little flame I wave |
Verily, when he shines everything is illuminated
By his light alone all of us shine ||

~ Kathopanishad II v 15


Continue reading “Ganapati and Gauri Puja”

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