(30 May '01)
Generally as a religion matures, its rituals become fixed and unvarying. This preserves something fine from the early times; it also tends to breed mechanical repetition and to block the heart’s natural tendency to respond with newness and freshness. Ritual can be the death or the life of religious practices. We are blessed to live early in the story of Amma’s participation in our world, and to have Her showing us how vibrant and spontaneous ritual can be. Consider what She does with lotuses during Brahmasthanam pratisthas.
In Mumbai (Nerul), seated in the inner sanctum, Mother took a completely closed lotus bud and gently, slowly, petal by petal, opened it – made of it a fully bloomed flower. This She placed purposefully on the base which soon would support the murthi (the image; in Mother’s temple, a four-sided stone image signifying that though there are many faces or concepts of God, the Divine is One).
In Mananthavadi last February, a brahmachari opened each bud and gave Mother what appeared to be full-blossomed flowers. She placed one on each corner of the base that She was preparing for the murthi, and then added others halfway between the corners; the last one She held close to Her heart, meditating long.
In Coimbatore three months later, She continued Her variations on the theme of lotuses. This time, She again received them all already opened. But instead of placing them immediately on the murthi base, with both Hands She held them near Her bosom, gazing intently at the profusion of pink softness. Decisively and gently She raised them and buried Her Face – mouth, nose and eyes – in their tender darkness. How long did She stay that way? It was not a quick sniff, nor a sudden magical breathing into them of Her life energy… it was a lasting communion. Finally She lowered them till She could press them firmly and softly to Her Heart; a small and mysterious smile rested on Her lips while Her closed eyes maintained Her secret world.
Something very precious was occurring, but only Mother understood what.