Mandala Pooja for A. Ramana

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The ceremonies after death for a saint in India are different than for others. In addition the the rites on the day of ‘Mahasamadhi’ and a Shradha, about ten days after the passing, there is a special ‘Mandala Pooja’ performed 48 days after the passing of the body. V. Ganesan, the grandnephew of Sri Ramana Maharshi, sent me this email, explaining the tradition:

‘*Mandala*’ (in Sanskrit) literally means = Region, Sphere or Plane, e.g.,
Suryamandala* = the Solar Region (*Surya* = Sun). In religious rites, it
means 48 days [4+8=12=1+2=”3″. “3” is a mystical number in Hindu
numerology] You undertake a ‘vow’ and complete it in 48 days, like staying
in silence within a temple with or without food; or, going round Arunachala
Hill for 48 days – one a day, without a break.

For Sri Ramana Baba, they have been lighting lamps and meditating sitting in
or around the hut, for 48 days, just in silent prayers, by his disciples —
thanking him in gratitude for the spiritual fulfillment he has achieved for
himself and helped others obtain it. On the completion of the 48th day, the
same simple ritual is conducted with full consciousness without getting
involved in any other activities or thoughts. This is truly a “completion
process”. Both, Jan and Vivian have been doing it with full dedication. I
admire them, joyfully !

True and full completion of what one has undertaken – ‘vow’, ‘dedication’,
surrender – it takes 48 days. Our ancient sages have arrived at this
mystical number. There may be greater and deeper meanings for the word : “*
Mandala *”; but, this simple explanation is enough for us spiritual
aspirants.

To see the previous posts in this series, click on the Mahasamadhi or Shradha link.

I arrived a bit before 9:30 am. No one was as the Samadhi. Pooja items were set on it.

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Chairs were set out for guests.

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We sat and meditated and chatted for a bit.

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Meanwhile, the poojaris and assistants were busy getting all the pooja items ready.

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A Ramana’s lingam still wore its clothes from early in the day.

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People start to gather near the Samadhi.

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V Ganesan seats himself nearby.

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The thatched roof is gaily decorated with strings of yellow, pink and white flowers, and holy leaves. The photo of A Ramana sports a flower mala.

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The lingam is undressed in preparation for the pooja.

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Last minute preparation. Here a sadhu is juicing lemons.

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Another is draining the milk out of a green coconut. Both these will be used in the pooja today.

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Big buckets of water are put in place. The pooja will use much water. These two buckets will not be enough.

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Jan steps onto the samadhi. She will be the primary poojari today. Before it started she seemed a bit unsure of her role, but she received assurances from the other poojaris that they will help, so she will know what to do at all times. 

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First is anointing in oil. She will pour oil on the lingam, Nandi, and the Balipeeta. (The Balipeeta is a lotus shaped pedestal for offerings. The best offering to give is your ego.) Each of them will receive all the offerings from today’s pooja.

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She then rubs the oil in.

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After a wash, next is anointing with a paste of sandalwood, chandan.

It stands collectively for the desires (vasanas) and the desires we have for various things in life, which we are supposed to offer to the deity in order to become free from the cycle of births and deaths. (From www.hinduwebstie.com)

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Pouring of water.

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Next is a mixture of fruit. This will be collected, and offered to all who attended today at the end of the pooja.

This is Naivedyam: It is our ignorance (avidya) which we offer to the deity. The food symbolically stands for the earth element and in human beings for the gross body. So it can also means the body and the mind (which stand for the ignorant consciousness in us) which we place in front of the deity for transformation. When it is blessed by the deity it becomes the bestower of knowledge. (From www.hinduwebstie.com)

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After each offering, flowers (pink roses) are placed atop each of the three idols. Before the next bath, these are removed and given to woman standing nearby.

              

Each pooja cycle ends with the waiving of the flame, Deepam

It is the light in us, the very soul that exists in us which we offer to the deity as acknowledgement of our surrender and devotion. On the elemental side it stands for the element of ether that exists in us as Atman. (From www.hinduwebstie.com)

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Then the bath to prepare for the next offering.

Honey is the next offering. Honey is representative of perfect knowledge.

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Then the flowers.

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Deepam.

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These pooja acts are watched closely by those who attend. In yellow, in the center, is Ramana, a (yellow wearing) sadhu, who is the priest at a nearby shrine. He seems to be a very respected fellow, though still a young man.

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Then the bath.

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Next is milk, offered to Nandi.

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And to the lingam.

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At the end of the milk offering, milk is collected to offer those in attendance.

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Waving of Incense.

This is Dhupam: It is the smoke or the clouded consciousness (the very mind with all its thoughts and ignorance) that exists in us which is also an obstacle on our path to self realization. As long as this cloud is there, we cannot see the light or illumination in our consciousness. Dhupam also stands for the illusion which keeps us chained to this world. When we offer dhupam to God, we offer symbolically our illusions and our fickle mindedness. On the elemental side, it stands for the element of air or the breath body in us. It stands for prana which we offer to the deity with a sense of sacrifice. (From www.hinduwebstie.com)

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V Ganesan is singing, chanting the refrain, ‘Arunachala Siva.’

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Deepam.

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And the bath.

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Pooja items line the samadhi. This is the poojari’s workspace.

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Now curd is offered. I am not sure if this is just yogurt, or Panchamitra with 5 ingredients of milk, curd, ghee (clarified butter), sugar & Honey.

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The placement of flowers.

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And the bath.

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Vivian looks on, sitting peacefully nearby.

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Now ghee (clarified butter) is poured.

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Flowers added.

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Deepam.

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And the bath.

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Sandal wood paste is offered again, chandan.

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Deepam.

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Chanting ‘Arunachala Siva.’

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Now turmeric paste is offered. I love the colors of this.

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Flowers.

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Deepam.

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Vibhuti is offered now.

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Lots of vibhuti is added.

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Deepam.

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Now the vibhuti is collected. It will be offered at the lingam in the future days.

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The bath.

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More turmeric paste.

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Deepam.

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Rosewater is being readied by Ramana.

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Jewelry is collected from those in attendance and placed on the lingam.

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Rosewater is poured over the lingam and the jewelry. the jewelry items are given back to their owners, now consecrated by the pooja.

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This old woman has been at all the ceremonies for A Ramana. She lives nearby, and is a strong devotee. She holds a rose that was on the lingam.

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Deepam. 

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Now offered to A Ramana.

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Then to Arunachala.

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Now it is cleanup time. The altar and idols are carefully cleaned.

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And new clothes are put on the lingam.

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Vibhuti stripes are added.

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Turmeric balls are placed on the lingam and flattened.

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Red kum kum completes the process.

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A coin was added to the top of the lingam, If you look closely you can see the edges of the coin. More turmeric and kum kum are added to the top of the coin.

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Now the lingam is ready.

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A Ramana gets the treatment as well.

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Clothes are added to Nandi and the Balipeeta.

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More dress for the lingam.

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Now flowers are added, Pushpam: It stands for the good in us. We offer the deity the good that has blossomed in us. On the side of the elements it
stands for the element of water because the flowers (especially the lotus) grow out of water. (From www.hinduwebstie.com)

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An edging or roses is placed around the altar.

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And around the lingam.

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Food is offered, and the bananas and broken coconut. The coconut symbolizes the ego, which must be broken for spiritual progress.

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A lamp is lit.

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Arati offered to A Ramana.

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Then to all attending. The lighted camphor is taken to all the persons assembled as a reminder of the eternal light of spirit shedding its glory within each one of them.

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People walk around the samadhi and pranam to A Ramana.

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The fruit mixture is given as prasad.

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The crowd breaks up, and people start walking to where lunch will be service.

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One last look at the Samadhi of A Ramana.

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Then a South Indian lunch on banana leaf plates.

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The next ceremony to A Ramana will be on the first anniversary of Mahasamadhi.

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5 Responses to “Mandala Pooja for A. Ramana”

  1. New Aeon Magick | Hot Daily Gossip Says:

    […] Mandala Pooja for A. Ramana « Living in the Embrace of Arunachala […]

  2. donnananda Says:

    There is such tremendous gratitude for sharing of the these pujas for our Beloved Arunachala Ramana. His Grace in this life is beyond descriptions and the Grace that brings this gift through you, Richard is of the same Supreme Essence. Thanks so much-D

  3. What Is The Philosophy Of Yoga? Says:

    […] Mandala Pooja for A. Ramana « Living in the Embrace of Arunachala […]

  4. sriraml Says:

    What a beautiful ceremony and post!

    Even to see this over the internet makes one feel a sense of peace and joy, what to say about those who were physically present there..

  5. prasanthjvrs Says:

    Nice Mandala Pooja for A.Arunachala garu.

    Thanks for updates Richard Garu.

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