The Best Austerity

Inestimable Blessings of Advaita Puja

Babaji performing aratiOctober is the auspicious time of Divine Mother worship.  It ensures that spiritual aspirants around the world can avail themselves of the privilege of adoring Her, and acquire the boon of blessings that proceed, abundantly, from such utter dedication.  The ceremonies, over nine days (Navaratri), are not just rituals; they are expressions of God worshipping God — not just in the usual everyday modes of life and living which are sweet and beautiful enough — but in conscious awareness of the presence of Divine Reality existing in and through everything.

According to Sri Krishna, puja — not asana, not fasting, nor exercises such as biking and hiking — is the best austerity for the body.  One gathers the best from nature and places it together with the best that one can offer from the human heart and the purified mind.  And in fact, bowing low before the divine images places the head below the heart, which is a rare occurrence in human life and activity.  Make that your asana, then, and prostrate a hundred times or more before Her when no one is around; that can be your daily exercise.  Fast not from basic food, which gives you the energy to worship Her, but vow to fast from mundane habits and superficial pleasures that otherwise occupy daily life.  These will never please Her anyway.

Further, your puja does not just begin with said preparation; it is constantly being enacted.  Sri Ramakrishna stated that “Everywhere and at all times, a great puja is going on.”  His was advaita puja, not pleasing puja.  Ramprasad sang his pertinent song about proper worship of Her, exposing not only the hollowness of pomp and pretense, but the delusion of people who think that they can secure Her boons and affections by mere acts and objects:

pushpaThose who worship the Goddess with splendor and  ceremony become imbued with subtle pride.
Much better is the inward path of secret devotion, invisible to the curious stare of the world.
Why bother to construct static images of the Mother from metal, stone, or clay?
Allow the mind to compose Her Form from Pure Consciousness alone,
and place this living image in the heart lotus.
Why trouble to gather rice and ripe plantains to present with ritual gestures at Her Feet?
She delights only in the nectar of selfless Love, and this can be offered directly and abundantly.
Why worship with such profusion of candles and lamps.
Unveil the self-radiant diamond of your essence O mind,
and allow it to illuminate the heart’s shrine day and night.
What sense is there to sacrifice animals in the worship of Goddess Kali,
when She desires only the sacrifice of egocentric desire?
Cut through these dreams of separation with Her Sword of Wisdom, chanting:
Victory to Kali! Victory to Durga!

The puja is best done in nondual fashion, then, knowing the motions and the meanings, and manifesting the signs and symbols here on the physical plane of existence.  This is how Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother performed puja, demonstrating to the world both the boon and the need of propitiating the Wisdom Goddess, the Divine Mother of the Universe!

Devout worship of Goddess Durga will commence, as scheduled in advance, at our ashramas in San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon, in October, over Navaratri.  Mother Kali will be worshipped around Her holy day at our new ashram location in Hawaii, upon my return there.  Please, everyone join in and receive the inestimable blessings of participating in this rare occasion and occupation.

                                               Peace x 3,

                                               Babaji Bob Kindler
                                               Spiritual Director
                                               SRV Associations of the West