What happens once a child is gifted with a doll? The child begins to play with the doll. If we take a closer look at how the play happens and what is involved in the play, we will be able to notice something beautiful.
At first the doll would mean nothing to the child, but as days pass by the doll would begin to mean so much for the child. In its absence, the child would cry and in its presence the child would smile. Some kind of a relationship develops between the doll and the child.
As the child engages with the doll, he/she would attribute many qualities to the doll. Beautiful, Cute, Good, Strong, Courageous, Stylish, Neat, Strict, Magical and so on. One would also notice that the child would create stories around the doll and play with the doll in an imaginative way. Essentially the child is personifying the doll. Sometimes the child takes part in the dolls world, sometimes the doll gets a role in the childs world. Over time a certain relationship develops between the child and the doll. They become very close to each other. Child would not eat without the doll. Child would not sleep without the doll. The relationship becomes intimate and they experience wonderful moments together.
If only we knew the language of our rituals, the language in which we perform all the rituals and offer worship, the language in which much of our culture, history and knowledge is recorded, we would appreciate and experience our traditions with far greater joy, pride and understanding.
Early next month is the festival of Lord Ganesha. Many would be bringing home the idol of Lord Ganesha. He would be offered a wonderful and well decorated place in our homes. Even before we realise, we would have fallen in love with his cute form. Big belly, a small & cute rat, those big ears, curving trunk, one long tusk and other one broken, his gem studden crown, all of these attract us a lot. As we get started with the pooja, we would be chanting the namavalis (108 names of Ganesh, 21 names of Ganesha, 1008 names of Ganesha). This is nothing but attributing qualities and personifying the idol of Ganesh. It is no longer an inanimate idol. It become the living Ganesha in our lives. We give him bath, we clothe him, we decorate him, we offer him food, sweet and fruits, all of this is part of the pooja sequence.
Over the next few days, as we spend more time with Ganesha, we begin to develop a certain relationship with him. At the end of every pooja session, we sing songs, we chant auspicious vedic mantras, we read his story, we begin to know more about his life and he begins to know more of our lives. Morning and evening, as we spend time with him thus, our relationship becomes intimate and beautiful. We begin to share our sorrows, asks, wants, happy news, and almost everything with him. As we read about him and get to know him more, we begin to understand him slowly. There will be some moments of truth wherein we get insights about his true nature, his complete form, his grandeur and his majesty. We realize that his idol was just a representation of his real nature. We begin to love his true nature and his real form. And then, we willingly, knowingly and with complete ease, dissolve his idol into sacred waters of a lake or river. This is the enlightenment we experience. Ganesh is no longer limited to the idol. And so we let go of the idol so that we may grasp and hold on to his expansive form, true formm his omnipresence.
What do you notice in the story of the child with the doll and the story of us worshipping Ganesha. There is so much similarity. The content of our rituals is so beautiful, intuitive, thorough and deep with insights and revelations.
Attribution (Namavalis), Personification (Welcome-Arghyam, Bath-Abhishekam, Clothing-Vastradharanam, Make up-Alankaaram, Spending time together-Archanam), Relationship (Getting to know each other – Katha Shravanam, stories from the Puranas), Intimacy (Spending time together singing, dancing, acting, pretend play, imaginative play – Shodashopachaara), Moments of Truth (Discussion, Meditation, Reflection, Introspection – Satsang, Parayanam) and finally Enlightenment (Letting go of the representative form and embracing the real Ganesha – Visarjanam)
A-Attribution P-Personification R-Relationship I-Intimacy M-Moments E-Enlightenment
A PRIME journey.