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Devotional Guru Puja

From: "Omprakash.Rai" To: Subject: Devotional Guru Puja Date: 11 Apr 2009 22:02:11 +0530 Baba PS Intro: This below song is deeply devotional and can only be understood by those who have been blessed with the gift of devotion. Without that this song cannot be understood. "Ei hrdayer ma'la'kha'ni toma'r tare genthe ra'kha'..." (PS 1616) Purport: Baba, I love You so much. With all the tenderness and sweetness of my heart I have threaded this garland especially for You. By Your grace I am offering [1] it at Your lotus feet, O' my Dearmost. Baba, my only desire is to please You. So if You do not like this garland which I have prepared for You, then please do not accept it. And if You are not satisfied with this garland then I request You not to look towards it. Baba, my sole desire is that You should be pleased. Baba, this mala (garland) is saturated with my heartfelt longing for You and it is soaked with the showering of my tears of devotion. It is drenched with my love. Baba, I am meagre; I am just a small unit being. But by Your grace I carry the great and distant hope of getting You. Because I am meagre and You are vast, my hope of getting You is nothing but an unrealistic plan and a far off dream. It is just a fantasy. Baba, if You do not want me then why have You pulled me so close to You with Your loving bond. Baba, please grace me and accept my garland. Here I am offering it at Your lotus feet... NOTE FOR PRABHAT SAMGIITA #1616: [1] Arghya': Here are some of the specifics about the term arghya', or offering. Baba says, "When any non-edible item is offered to gods and goddesses or great personalities then that is called arghya'. Those offered partially or completely full [non-edible] items which are returned back ]to the unit being] from those gods and goddesses or great personalities are called nirmalya. If any edible item is offered to gods or goddesses or great personalities then that is called naevedya. And that very naevedya when it is partially or fully returned from those gods and goddesses or great personalities then that is called prasad." (Laghu Nirukta, p.9) Thus when devotees offer delicacies and sweets to Parama Purusa that is called naevadya and when those sweets are partially or fully returned back to devotees with His special blessing then that is called prasad. So when devotees bring sweets etc to our AM kiirtan programs and place them under the puja table then those sweets are not prasad, they are naevadya. Only when the kiirtan program is over do they become prasad according to Baba's above guideline. So at our AM functions it should become our regular practice use the proper vocabulary. Secondly, those things offered in Guru Puja are known as arghya. That is why Guru Puja is called: varn (mental colour) + arghya (arrangements being offered) + dan (act of offering), varnarghyadan.
Namaskar, As we all know our practice of Guru Puja comes within the realm of pratyhara yoga. And by our consistent and sincere practice of Guru Puja the mind becomes lighter, more free, pristine, and colourless. This is the great outcome of our practice of Guru Puja. This we have all experienced. Baba says, "In Ananda Marga sadhana, the method of withdrawing the mind from degrading tendencies, and absorbing oneself in the colour of the Great, is called Pratya'ha'ra Yoga (the yoga of withdrawal) or Varn'a'rghyada'na (the offering of colours). All people have a particular attraction for one or another object or activity and as soon as they become attracted to an object, then their minds become coloured with the colour of that object. You can withdraw your mind from the colour of that object and dye yourself in His colour by offering Him the captivating colour of the object that has attracted you: this is the real Pratya'ha'ra Yoga." (SS-3, 'Vibration, Form, & Colour') So Guru Puja is one of the unique and special practices in our Ananda Marga sadhana system.
As Ananda Margiis, we invariably do our three rounds of Guru Puja after each & every session of meditation-- whether done individually or collectively, Guru Puja is therefore a central aspect of our spiritual practice. Naturally then, every so often it is important for us all to take a step back and evaluate the best way for us to perform this highly devotional and integral practice of Guru Puja. Here is a short discussion about this; all are encouraged to write in with suggestions and comments.
In the presence of Baba, Guru Puja was regularly performed with one person leading the chant and with everyone else chanting afterwards. So at the time of DMC, one assigned person-- acarya or family margii-- would begin the chant:
Akhan'd'a man'd'ala'ka'ram' vya'ptam' yena cara'caram'
And thereafter the entire Marga collective would repeat that same line: "Akhan'd'a man'd'ala..." Then the designated leader would recite the next line:
Tadpadam' darshitam' yena tasmae Shrii Gurave namah.
And accordingly everyone would repeat that line "Tadpadam' darshitam'..." So this 'call and response' style was the standard way Guru Puja was performed those days. Anyone who attended DMC surely remembers how beautiful and devotional Guru Puja was on those occasions. By Baba's grace Guru Puja was totally soul-stirring and wholly transformational. One could tangibly feel the effect and sweet vibration. And still today when performed correctly, collective Guru Puja brings that same sweetness and love.
As we all may know, some key points for making this collective approach of Guru Puja successful are making sure that the assigned leader proceeds at an even and slow pace-- with full devotional ideation. This is highly important. If the leader chants too quickly at rocket speed then it will ruin the whole thing. Similarly if the leader begins to chant without taking proper ideation, then also the recitation will be lusterless-- just a waste of time. So the leader has a big role to play. They must ensure that the chant is done at a proper tempo and rhythm and it must be done with full heart-felt, devotional feeling. In addition, the leader should not recite too much at one time. The standard way is to divide each of the three stanzas in half. By that way there will be six components of the entire Guru Puja mantra and each component will be the equivalent of one full line or thought expression. Of course if Guru Puja is being done with many new people, then it can be broken down into smaller pieces to make it easier for everyone. That option is also available. But again the standard way is to recite one full line at a time. The whole point of having a leader though is that it ensures that the shloka or mantra will be recited in a proper manner. A distinct tempo is put forth and everyone will follow in harmonious fashion. That makes the whole affair neat and clean and gives the maximum opportunity to involve devotionally in the process of Guru Puja.
Often it is seen that when collective Guru Puja is done without a chosen leader, then various problems arise. Please note that leader means when one person chants a full line all alone and then everyone else follows by reciting that same line. It is not that just one "leader" says that first syllable and then everyone else quickly jumps in-- that is now what is meant here. To continue, the problem when there is no designated leader then everyone is just chanting at various speeds-- without any pre-determined tempo. Some may be doing it quite fast and some more slowly-- and still others may be going very, very fast like a racehorse. This type of thing commonly happens at dharmacakra. We have all seen it and experienced it. And the result is that Guru Puja ends up being a tug-o-war between the faster people and the slower sadhakas. In that way-- in that battle-- all devotional ideation is lost and Guru Puja is ruined. Thus the best way to resolve this matter is to have an appointed leader who is aware how to properly recite Guru Puja (proper speed and correct pronunciation), and then everyone else will follow accordingly. This will resolve the problem of Guru Puja becoming a tug-o-war contest. And instead it will be a deeply devotional experience for one and all. So this type of call & response style is generally agreed upon to be the best way to do collective Guru Puja. And this is the way it was done during Baba's time at DMC.
The question may arise in the mind as to why some wish to repeat Guru Puja very fast whereas others prefer to proceed at a slower pace. In a nutshell, Baba's guideline is that each and every human mind moves according to its own psychic pabulum. If the mind is more rajasik then it will rush from one pabulum to the next. People who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) have this terrible problem. In contrast, if the mind is sentient and calm, then it will stay fixed on a particular point without straying off the subject. So how does this all relate to there being varying speeds for reciting Guru Puja at dharmacakra? Basically, those whose minds are jumpy such that they could not do proper sadhana then they end up rushing through Guru Puja also. This is the way the human mind works. In contrast, those whose minds are tranquil then naturally they did proper sadhana and so their tendency is to recite Guru Puja more slowly-- so as to immerse the mind in the mantra and ideation and involve devotionally in this practice. Thus the reason so go speedy and some go more slowly is all due to their quality of mind-- nothing more.
Hence those who hurry through Guru Puja as if they are just interested in eating food, such persons expose themselves. Because by their behaviour, everyone can easily see that such individuals could not do proper sadhana during dharmacakra. That is why their mind is restless and anxious and rushing through Guru Puja. But again this whole issue can be alleviated if not solved entirely by having Guru Puja led by one designated individual during dharmacakra, and then everyone else present will recite thereafter, line by line. This is something we should all try at our various collective spiritual functions like: Paincajanya, Avarta Kiirtan, Dharmacakra, etc.
In our individual life, we also do Guru Puja-- at minimum two times per day. The question then is what is the most effective way to maximize the benefits of this sacred practice. Because after all this is the time when by Baba's grace a sadhaka can clear their mind by offering everything at His lotus feet. So it is a unique and special practice whereby one can become rid of their entire load of samskaras. This is the great gift of Guru Puja. So we should also think about the best way of doing Guru Puja in our personal sadhana practice.
Basically in our individual lives, there are two ways to do Guru Puja: silently or out loud. Without going into too much detail, when doing silently there is the tendency to go more quickly-- even to skip over entire lines and verses. This can happen to any sadhaka. Thus to ensure this does not happen, one way is to chant Guru Puja out loud-- even when doing it individually. By this way, by chanting it out loud one will be sure to pronounce each and every word at a proper pace. And not only that, by chanting out loud one other special benefit happens.
When we chant Guru Puja out loud then more of our organs (indriyas) are involved and that enables the mind to take in the sweet vibration in multiple ways-- more fully. Here Baba explores this science of speaking out loud and using multiple indriyas by using the example of academic life. Baba says, "How can you become more attentive? Usually you acquire academic knowledge by studying with the help of the eyes. To aid the process of memorization, however, you may also use your tongue. That is, while reading loudly, two sense organs are used, the eyes and the tongue, and thus you will derive a double benefit. Moreover, if you read aloud, your ears will also hear those sounds, and thus this method of reading is more beneficial for students." (AFPS-7, 'Faculty of Knowledge-5') In His above teaching Baba says reading is more beneficial if the mind receives the message through multiple organs: eyes, mouth, ears etc. By this way the information gets more deeply set in the mind. In the same way, if we do or Guru Puja mantra out loud, then that gives the mind the maximum opportunity to become deeply ensconced in the practice of Guru Puja. Because that devotional vibration touches the mind in multiple ways through multiple organs. This is Baba's teaching. So in our private lives, in our individual lives, we should all try the practice of reciting Guru Puja out loud. And if we find the experience fruitful, then we can incorporate it into our regular practice.
Although many things were discussed up above, two major points were given. #1: In collective functions, the 'Call and Response' type of Guru Puja should be done where one designated individual is leading the reciting of the mantra, and thereafter everyone else will repeat it-- line by line. #2: In our individual life we should sing Guru Puja out loud so as to be sure to recite each and every word correctly and so that the mind receives the message through multiple organs. By these two above approaches, we can best heighten the devotional quality and sweetness of our Guru Puja practice.
Here below is another of Baba's divine teachings about the special practice of Guru Puja. Here He clearly shows us how-- if one correctly-- Guru Puja helps us to become one with Him. Baba says, "'By surrendering all the colours of my mind to You, I want to become colourless.' This surrender to the Supreme Consciousness propels human beings towards Him. So this colour festival is not merely an outward play; it is purely a psycho-spiritual phenomenon. This very psycho-spiritual phenomenon is operating behind the process of varn'a'rghyada'na [offering of colours]: 'O Lord, make me colourless so that I may move towards You without any hesitation'." (NH-LOI, 'Inner Asset') Namaskar, Omprakash
Here Baba further explains why Guru Puja should be done out loud in our individual lives. Using the example of kiirtan, Baba shows us how having multiple indriyas involved brings great benefits to the sadhaka. Baba says, "When kiirtana was first invented, the psycho-philosophy behind it was this: at the time of kiirtana, the vocal cord sings, the ears hear, and the hands and feet dance, and thus all the organs are kept preoccupied with the divine. They are not allowed to move wherever they want but are kept engaged. There is a popular Indian superstition that when ghosts are not kept busy they break the necks of their prey. Similarly, if the sensory and motor organs are not kept engaged in the attainment of the divine, they may lead one astray. Kiirtana is therefore most beneficial as it keeps all the organs fully engaged in a spiritual pursuit." (AV-8, 'Sadhana, Abhidhyana and Kiirtana') So the same science which Baba describes above about the benefits of chanting kiirtan applies to our practice of Guru Puja as well. By chanting out loud more indriyas (organs) are involved and that helps them mind to further involve in the practice, thus bringing success.
Those who rush through Guru Puja and drag the whole dharmacakra gathering into their hasty flow are the very same persons who start gossiping loudly immediately after dharmacakra concludes. By their behaviour it is apparent such persons could not engage in any spiritual flow during dharmacakra. Their fickle minds could not derive any benefit at all. And not only that by rushing through Guru Puja and talking loudly afterwards about mundane things, such persons ruin dharmacakra for everyone else also. Those who are proper sadhakas easily recognise the crudity of such persons-- they can tell who is who. Indeed the whole room is aware about what just transpired. But in the spirit of common courtesy they may not say anything then and there. But everyone is aware that those who rushed through Guru Puja could not do an ounce of meditation. Once again to avert such instances, best is to have one person lead the Guru Puja chant at a proper pace with sweet devotional flow and have everyone else follow in that same rhythm.
As we all know, Baba has bestowed upon us this below mantra to conclude Guru Puja. The sweetness of this mantra resonates in the heart and mind of every Ananda Margii.
Tava dravyam' Jagatguro Tubhyameva samarpaye.
"Everything of mine, along with my mind, is offered at Your altar. Please oblige and accept it." (AV-3)

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