The small building is situated in an alleyway. We climb a few steps and enter a world of deities and ritual. What a contrast between the noises on the streets of Ganeshpuri and the cool interior of the small temple where we held the pujas (rituals), officiated by Prasad, the charismatic Brahmin priest who arrives on his motorcycle and greets us with a warm, friendly smile. We feel immediately at ease. The small room of the temple comes alive with the bustling of a young man who is helping Prasad set up the three separate pujas — to Ganesha, to Shiva and to the Guru.
We watch as Prasad bathes each deity, and we offer fruit, grains of rice, ground up spice and, of course, the flame of a candle, waved in circles —the light of consciousness in us bowing to the eternal light that makes up this universe and beyond.
Each puja takes about 30 minutes — the power of one builds upon the next one, and by the time we get to the Guru puja, to a small murti (statue) of Bhagavan Nityananda, the energy in the room has built to a crescendo.
I am waving a candle flame to Nityananda and we are singing, “Jaya, jaya ariti, Nityananda.” I can no longer restrain the upwelling emotions of love and devotion that are overflowing in my heart, tears flowing down my face. There is nothing but Bhagavan Nityananda. In this village, in this room, Nityananda’s Presence is so palpable, so powerful, so overwhelming that the room is abuzz with a transcendent current of energy. I feel so “full”, so vibrant, so expanded.
The Brahmin serves as the ears and the mouth of Nityananda — through Prasad’s words, the Guru speaks to me and encourages me to stay on the path, to be devoted to Him and the path I am on.
Deep knowing and deep love arise from within. I am blessed and in bliss to share this moment with my daughter. We are both in awe of what we just experienced and witnessed, as we open to the inner realms of our being, allowing the beautiful ceremonial offering to open us from the inside, blossoming and overflowing with universal love.
This is the wonder and the beauty of a puja. The power of the ritual ceremony performed on the outside propels us into the innermost depths of our being, leaving no place untouched. It is about clearing and purifying this vessel, the container that is my individual body, mind and soul so that I know that I am That and so that nothing can shake the innate knowing of my own Divinity.
A complete surrender to the Self, to the Guru — that is what I experience during the puja to Nityananda. There is no separation between me and the Self; duality dissolves into the eternality that is Nityananda. The ecstatic, blissful state of that experience is transformative at multiple levels of my being.
The memory of this state is a cherished dharana (contemplation) that instantly propels me into the infinite vastness of the Self. The vastness merges into me and I merge into it.
All I do is abide in That.
I am That.