Namo Namah — by Saguna Goss

This morning I was reminded of “namo namah” — again and again I bow — which we chant in the last part of “OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah”.  The Temple arati (flame ceremony) comes after Bhagavan has been woken up, bathed, dressed in the finest silks, adorned with pearls and rudraksha beads and decorated with gratitude by many bright beautiful flower garlands offered by those in attendance. Then comes a long pause, 30 minutes or more, so we can soak it all in before the arati begins.

ringing India temple bellThe arati starts with the Brahmin priest waving a tray with 7 flames with so much love and grace to Bhagavan. In the back of the temple, a huge kettle drum is played that vibrates your whole body and a large bell is rung so loud that you can’t hear anything else. The priest then honors Bhagavan’s padukas (sandals) with the flames. The priest sets down the tray. Bhagavan has been honored… but it does not end there.

Bhagavan is honored again, this time with 9 flames on the tray. The priest takes the same time and care to honor Bhagavan and his padukas this second time. He sets down the tray. Again and again — Bhagavan and his padukas have been honored, not with just 7 flames but also 9 flames. And of course, it does not end there.

Now he picks up an arati tray with 11 flames, then later a tray with multiple layers of flames. Each time, taking so much care and love to honor Bhagavan. The arati ends with a final tray with offerings of flames, flowers, money, rice and spices while the temple-full of devotees and disciples chant along with Nityananda’s Arati. Now Bhagavan has been honored again and again, and again, and again and again.

This beautiful, graceful, repetitive honoring of Bhagavan Nityananda in the arati reminds me of “namo namah” – again and again I bow. Again and again I honor Bhagavan. I am grateful for the multiplicity of forms that Shiva has taken on so that there can appear to be two, a Guru and a disciple, so that the disciple can honor the Guru. It also reminds me of the practice that we are doing:  again and again remembering the knowing of our own true Self. This practice of remembering is filled with joy and love for me. Again and again I can repeat mantra and know my own true Self – what a blessing and what a beautiful play!

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