IIAum Sri Ramakrishna SharanamII
IIAum Namo NarayanayaII
The dust rose, like in the aftermath of a hundred galloping horses, as everybody busied themselves with the final preparation for the Maha Kumbha Abishegam of the Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple. This 100 year old institution prides itself in being relevant and responsive to the needs of the community. With the increasing number of devotees over the years, it was decided on the eve of the Centenary Celebrations to construct a larger Temple according to Indian architecture. This was to be a monument to the pioneering fathers but more importantly to ensure devotees leave inspired after every visit. Elaborately detailed and inscribed artwork depicting various scenes from the puranas flank the walls and speak to the important themes of curbing desires, good over evil and light over darkness.
|Temple Domes of the "new" Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple|
It finally made sense as to why construction of Temples and Maha Kumbha Abishegams were mainly undertaken by royalty. The accumulative costs from construction to consecration run into the millions. Thankfully by His grace alone many selfless devotees and well-wishers have come forward and donated generously in the name of the festivities. Seven highly experienced and trained Priests were commissioned to turn a stunning structure into a shrine. Sri Girish Hebbar, the Head Priest of the Balaji Temple in Botswana arrived a day before to lead the proceedings. I had met him a few years earlier when I accompanied Swami Vimokshananda to Botswana on a spiritual tour. Beautiful energy and vibrations were created by the chanting of vedic mantras and the ritualistic worship of thekumbhas (brass pots) which were aplenty as they are normally proportional in number according to the deities being installed.
|Priests performing the Maha Kumbha Abishegam|
To a little extent, it seemed like an anti-climax… with so much of preparations and efforts for a few days of chanting and bathing of the deities with the water thereafter. Was this going to give life to themurthis (deities)? As these questions entertained my mind, I remembered that Swami Vimokshananda once explained to us the spiritual triangle where the two sides consist of the rituals and mythology with the philosophy as the base. Yes, Yes!!! I rejoiced like having just broken thepinaka dhanush (bow broken by Lord Rama). There must be a philosophy behind this elaborate ceremony that will connect me closer to my divine consciousness. After much contemplation two ideas came to mind. One from recent times and another from way back in time.
Emoto was born in Yokohama, Japan and graduated from Yokohama Municipal University after taking courses in International Relations. In the mid 1990’s, he began studying water in more detail. Emoto believed that water was a "blueprint for our reality" and that emotional "energies" and "vibrations" could change the physical structure of water. Emoto's water crystal experiments consisted of exposing water in glasses to different words, pictures or music, and then freezing and examining the aesthetic properties of the resulting crystals with microscopic photography. Emoto made the claim that water exposed to positive speech and thoughts would result in visually pleasing crystals being formed when that water was frozen, and that negative intention would yield "ugly" frozen crystal formations.
Our gem amongst puranas, the Srimad Bhagavatam tells of a little boy Prahalad, who although being born in an asura family became one of the greatest devotees of Sri Hari. When Hiranyakasipu left his kingdom and went to the mountain known as Mandaracala to execute severe austerities, all the demons scattered. Hiranyakasipu's wife Kayadhu was pregnant at that time, and the devas, mistakenly thinking that she carried another demon in her womb, arrested her. Their plan was that as soon as the child took birth they would kill him. While they were taking Kayadhu to the heavenly planets, they met Narada Muni, who stopped them from taking her away and took her to his ashramauntil Hiranyakasipu's return. In Narada Muni's ashrama, Kayadhu prayed for the protection of the baby in her womb and Narada Muni reassured her and gave her instructions on spiritual knowledge.
The vibrations of the Sage’s voice seeped through the amniotic fluid and left an indelible impression on the infant’s consciousness. As he grew up even in the midst of the most adharmic forces, he was only able to call on his Lord Narayana.
From the above we gather that water is able to transmit and sustain vibrations. The idea of placing the water in a copper kumbha is scientific as copper being a metal is a good conductor of vibrations. Therefore, the primary component of any Kumbha Abishegam is a group of Priests chanting mantras in unison around kumbhas filled with water. The mantras selected from the Vedas are composed to a specific metre and are chanted with much emphasis and force to create the needed vibrations.
After the water is used to bath the deities we term them vigrahas and thus start to offer devotion and praise to them. I believe that the kumbhas filled with water essentially represents our intellect. Our mind is the deities. When the intellect is charged with dharmic and positive ideas it empowers and guides the mind on how to interact with the world in a divine and dharmic manner. Sage Narada had programmed and configured Prahalad’s intellect to dharma, hence even in the midst of the harshest persuasion from his father, his mind could not waver or veer away from the path of righteousness.
As the Priests say the Kumbha Abishegam is a process of giving life to the deities and over a period of time the infant energy grows and becomes more powerful… it is symbolic in our personal development as well. At all times we must try to fortify our intellects with divine and positive ideas and constantly bathe the mind with these inspiring thoughts which then becomes an algorithm against which all stimuli received will be acted upon.
Temple worship is a valuable path to God realisation and should not be denounced as inferior. A great example of its success comes in the life of Sri Ramakrishna who conducted regular pooja to the divine Mother Kali. Through sincere and devout worship, Master was able to translate and internalise His worship to achieve superior results, to the point of becoming a Paramhamsa.
Let us all perform the ritual of turning our body into Bhagwan by regular abishegam of our mind with our charged intellect, is my sincere prayer.
With love and prayers always,