Each day at Ramanasramam there are a standard daily set of activities, chanting, pujas, meals, and reciting of sacred texts. This schedule has been followed for years. It is on flyers handed out, on their web site, and painted on a sign in front of the New Hall.
This series of posts will show the activities of a day at Ramanasramam. Many photos are included, so to make page load times more reasonable, I will break this into several parts, each with about 40 to 50 pictures. Although I show “A day at Ramanasramam,” photos were taken over several days.
Morning at Ramanasramam
Morning is a time where the ashram is usually quiet and serene. Some people like mornings best of all. Mornings start with chanting and the milk offering, and end with lunch. Most of the photos in this post are taken with available light (no flash). With the reduced light conditions and lack of a tripod, many of the photos are not as clear as they could be. For this I apologize. Even with this, I thought this post would be worthwhile.
Entering the grounds about 6 AM, everything is quiet. Few people are here.
The peacocks are out and active, though, with displays and shrieking calls sounding through the ashram. .
Inside the Mother’s Temple, they have just gone through with an offering of smoke from burning charcoal.
The Nine Planets have fresh flowers and are dressed for the day.
As do Nataraja and Parvati.
Walking around the Mother’s Shrine, we see the usual gods in a Siva Temple.
These start with Ganesh, always.
Then Dakshinamurti, sitting under a banyan tree facing south, his four disciples at his feet, and his foot resting on the demon of forgetfulness. .
On the back wall, here is Ganesh (again).
On the west wall is the Lingodbhava, showing the story that is the basis for the reverence of Arunachala.
Skanda (or Murugan) on the back wall, with his two wives, Valli and Devayani.
And Durga on the north wall.
I had been wondering about Durga recently. We see Durga again and again in Saivite temples, and I know that there must be a deep nondual meaning. In an email, I asked Nome about this. Here is what Nome said about Durga:
Durga, of course, means “difficult ” or “inaccessible.” The interpretations will vary according to the view, such as Saiva, Sakta, etc. Lengthy verses describing Her, that lend themselves to a variety of views, appear in the Devi-mahatmya, which is part of the Markandeya Purana. Therein, She is described in terms of the eternal and also as maha-maya (great illusion) and as with numerous arms holding implements belonging to Braham, Visnu, and Siva.
As part of a Siva temple, Durga may be understood as the divine in manifestation, which, though difficult or inaccessible to the comprehension of the ego, shines and blesses, while destroying the ignorance that deludedly turns to that which is worldly and causes suffering.
She may also be identified with the mysterious woman who appears to the gods and the elements who could not know Brahman, as described in Kena Upanishad (3:12 and 4:1). By her utterance “It was Brahman,” she reveals Bliss and Existence, and the destruction of delusion. Sankara says Knowledge of Brahman made Her appearance as a woman, and that Knowledge (identified as Uma) is the most fascinating. Therefore, she is the manifestation not only of maya but of Knowledge and ever in association with the omniscient Supreme, which is the Self, which is Brahman.
Nome recently published a book, providing details and nondual explanations of some of the gods we see in these temples. These explanations keep with Advaita Vedanta teachings. The new book is Advaita-Devatam, which has just been printed. When they are available, you will be able to find then at the SAT bookstore.
This was Durga on Thursday, July 16th.
Here is Durga on Friday, July 17th! Now she has on a silver suit.
Ramana’s Samadhi Hall is almost empty, just a few devotees sitting and walking pradakshina around the samadni.
The priest dresses Nandi at Bhagavan’s samadhi. Each murti will get new clothes each day.
Another priest is out at the well, drawing the many buckets of water that will be needed for all the baths that will be given to the lingams and altars today.
More people have gathered in the hall.
Now there are priests chanting the Forty Verses In Praise of Bhagavan.
On one side are younger priests-in-training. They live at the Veda Patasala (school) at Ramanasramam.
On the other side are older priests.
During most of the morning in the Samadhi Hall, you will hear chanting. Wonderful.
More people are gathered. They are here for the milk offering, soon to be available for all as a blessing.
A priest is waving fire at the lingam atop Ramana’s samadhi.
The plate is brought into the group.
The camphor flame will be wafted over one’s head or face, and then vibhuti and kumkum applied to one’s forehead.
And a spoon of milk is given to each person. One is to drink a bit, and drop a bit on his or her head.
Next is breakfast. Breakfast is at 7 AM.
Ramana sits in the old dining hall, just where he used to in the old days.
Breakfast is usually served in the old dining hall. Not too many take breakfast at the ashram.
Outside the dining hall are the samadhis for Lakshmi and the other animals.
After breakfast, at about 8 AM, even younger priests-in-training come into the hall for the Veda chanting. Again the youngest to the right.
And a group of older students on the other side.
After the chanting, they pranam Ramana’s samadhi and leave.
Now is time for the work to prepare for the puja at both shrines.
Nandi, in front of Mother’s shrine, get new flowers.
Malas being tied together in the Mother’s Shrine.
Ramana’s samadhi is being washed.
A few ceremonial items are being brought out from Mother’s shrine.
Most important is the silver five-headed cobra (Naga) that will be used on Bhagavan’s samadhi today.
These are brought out and set up on the altar area around Ramana’s samadhi.
Now we are ready to go.
Part two will show the rest of the decorations, the morning pujas, the poor feeding, and lunch at Ramanasramam.