28th February 2001, Mananthavady, North Kerala
The preparatory ceremonies purifying the place, the temple structure and the stone image were performed in advance by Amma’s disciples five days prior to the idol installation. The stone image which weighs about 250 kg, was thoroughly purified by many selected herbal preparations. It was then immersed in holy water for a full day. This will help the stone to get rid of its negative impressions of millions of years. Special poojas and homa were also conducted to complete the process.
During the selected auspicious moment Amma entered the sanctum sanctorum and completed the purifying process on the shaktipeetha (supporting base). The nine gems, five precious metals, treasure and a copper foil were placed inside shaktipeetha. The copper foil carries the astrological data of the auspicious moment , the moola mantra (root mantra) of the temple, the configuration of the murti (idol) and name of the Mahatma who installed the murti.
The stone image was ceremonially carried in to the temple. After the maha sankalpa and the installation, Amma performed the Pranapratishta (imparting vital energy to the idol). Forty nine kalasas(pots), which contained different ingredients, charged with special mantra were poured by Amma on the murti and arati was performed which completed the installation process.
Thousands of people were present to witness this historical moment.
Early in the morning-dawn had barely come-to the sound of bells and a conch, again flanked by swaminis and swamijis, Mother walked from her second-storey room to the ground level, where She was greeted and garlanded by pujaris who led Her into the heart of the new Brahmasthanam temple. It was, till then, a rather hollow place-a small square space with only a black square hollow at its center. Through the open doors (one on each of the four sides) could be seen-nothing. Yet. For the murthi, a stone image having four faces, was still outside. Mother designed this unique murthi for Her temples. It is a graphic representation of one of Her primary teachings: that God may have many different faces, but underneath is truly only One. This one piece of black stone is the substratum for its four different sides-one showing Devi, the Divine Mother; one depicting elephant-faced Ganesh, remover of obstacles; another symbolizing Lord Siva; and the last showing a cobra’s raised hood for Rahu, astrologically the planet that brings negative effects in the lifes of most of us.
But when Mother entered, the space was just that-a space. It no longer felt empty once She came in, however; her presence was palpable. First, just as She had done on the roof two days before, She greeted the people gathered outside
She went to each of the four doors and looked out, seeming to say, “Come, be here with me.” Then She took Her seat on the floor, facing the hollow base. In Her Hands She held a glittering copper leaf on which astrological datas of the auspicious moment were recorded. She studied it for some time, then gently rolled it up, anointed it, and then held it to Her Forehead for some time. Gently then She leaned forward and deposited it in the hollow of the base. Taking pink lotuses, one by one She placed them on the four corners of the square base, and also midway along the sides. The last lotus, fully opened, She clasped to Her Heart, and for a long time in silence She meditated.
But suddenly there was a stir-the temple musicians’ horns blared and drums beat louder and stronger; bells were ringing, a conch was being blown-and struggling to carry a heavy load there emerged into the courtyard a group of brahmacharis bearing the new stone murthi. They circled the temple to enter the front (east) door, the same one through which Mother had passed in the beginning. Labouring, backs bent, arms stretched down with the immense weight, they carried the image up the steps and into the inner sanctum, where they laid it on a small bench near the hollow base. They left, the doors closed, and the waiting began.
“Om Siva Shaktyaika Rupinyai Namaha” the crowd chanted, on and on, and the musicians played on, and the bells were ringing, when suddenly the temple doors opened and there stood Mother-She came to each door, again engaging the devotees in what She was about to do.
The doors closed again, and the chanting went on, and the bells and the conches and the music-this time for much longer. What was going on inside the people could see only in their hearts, but most knew that at this stage Mother was doing something most remarkable: She was transferring Her vital force or Divine Energy to this piece of carved rock, somehow subtly changing it from a mere stone to a true murthi, a representation and somehow real presence of the Divine. A temple thus installed by a mahatma will retain this blessed state forever, becoming a truly holy place for all who come seeking God.
At last, at 8:21 a.m., the temple doors opened, and this time one did not see emptiness: no, not at all. There, on its base, stood the black murthi, draped in white garlands. Waving an arati lamp as She circled the murthi, Amma was clad in her usual simple white sari, but this time She wore also a brilliant yellow drape pulled around and tied at the neck.
On this yellow background were the bright red Sanskrit letters for the mantra Om Namah Sivayah. This mantra was particularly fitting for this moment, for here, as at all Her pratishtas, Amma had tied Her Hair up on top of Her Head, in the manner of the ascetic meditator, Siva.
Her arati finished, Mother stood still and strong at the west side of the murthi. As on the rooftop, here too She performed abhishekham.
Pot after pot of sanctified and sanctifying waters She raised above Her Head, holding each there, still, while, eyes closed, She meditated; and then each She gracefully lowered to the top of the waist-high murthi, where She let the waters flow and splash and run down to the floor, whence they were led out an opening to a spout outside where eager devotees could reach and take some.
When this ceremonial bathing of the image was finished, the swamis who stood in the inner sanctum with Mother performed arati simulatneously, one on each side of the murthi. By how some of them waved the flames and by how at the end they placed petals flowers at the foot of the image and at Mother’s Feet, they showed their reverence for Mother as One Who not only breathed life into this piece of stone but Whose very life itself is the Presence of God.
The arati was finished, and Mother once more meditated, standing somewhat back in the temple, a bit in the corner, as if to say: “Now focus your attention on the murthi and what it is meant to remind you of; my energy is there.”
To once more acknowledge, engage and bless Her thousands of children who were gathered outside the temple, Mother proceeded again to each of the four doors, this time showering flower petals out towards the devotees. This offering of petals is done to God, and images of God; when Mother does it in this way, She is recognizing the Divinity in all beings.
Mother left the temple. She walked, then, between rows of eager devotees, but for once not reaching out to them, not stopping to kiss any babies: She was in a withdrawn mood, barely in this ordinary world we inhabit. Her Face was soft and quiet, the eyes neither really open nor really closed; two brahmacharinis guided Her up the steps and to Her room, and the pratishta was finished.
But that is not accurate at all. The pratishta was not finished. In fact, all that ceremony, all the activities of the 26th and 28th of February, were not the real pratishtha. Mother revealed this in Her satsang a few hours after She had emerged from the temple. “Pratishta means consecrating-not consecrating an idol in a temple, but seeing what is covering the divinity within us. The real pratishta of our deity must take place within our heart.”
Mother’s message before, during, and after any pratishta ceremony is always the same: “Divinity is a palpable reality for us to discover, and not within the four walls of a temple.”