by Christopher Greenwood
Day 65 Lesson – Respect Cont.
When you’re travelling with Mohanji, it certainly requires an element of flexibility and the ability to adapt to the pace because the schedule is very busy. And there’s little time to prepare between one event and the next. To give you an idea of this, we finished the Nila Aarti on Thursday around 9 pm. After food and travel, we reached Guruvayur, our next location, by 11:30 pm, so we settled in the room by maybe 12 am.
Ananth, Madhu, and I still have other work to do, so the only times that we get to do it is when we’re not travelling. We get up early, by 4 am, to finish emails or anything else that we need to tie up.
Yesterday was the darshan of Lord Krishna. So, we left the hotel early to visit the temple. Like this, the days are packed, so there’s little or no room to sit idle.
Yesterday, I spoke about respect, the key lesson I took from Mohanji’s attendance and speech at the River Ceremony because that was all about respecting the Nila River. Mohanji had said that respecting the water bodies and all the other elements brings harmony and peace within. That culture of respect is something integral to the Tradition.
Today I continue this lesson because we visited Mohanji’s parental home yesterday, where all the temples for his family deities are kept. But leading up until that, I can share some of the morning’s events, too.
In the morning, we left the hotel room for the darshan of Lord Krishna in Guruvayur temple. This was a new temple for me; I had never heard of it before. The form, the idol in the temple, is an eight-year-old form of Krishna. It’s believed that it’s the idol that Krishna’s parents, Vasudeva and Devaki, actually worshipped. Mohanji really likes that temple. He said that he once stood for four hours in line waiting for the darshan there.
Being a Westerner, it wasn’t possible for me to enter, but I joined with them and walked around the temple grounds. It’s a very large setting, and the atmosphere is serene. Inside the larger temple complex is a smaller, original temple with beautiful paintings on the outside. Our allotted time was around 7:30 am, but they hadn’t opened yet when we arrived, which meant we quickly changed plans. We visited someone’s local Sai Baba temple there. It was a family home. When we entered, we went straight for Aarti. I thought what a blessing it was for this family for Mohanji to come as it was only because the temple was late to open that this opportunity emerged. But was it a coincidence? Probably not; he’s always meant to go where he’s meant to go.
We came back to the temple after Mohanji had finished darshan at the home of one of the devotees and then went back to the hotel room. And again, on this tight time schedule, we had 10-15 minutes to pack before leaving for Mohanji’s family home. This is a place that Mohanji visits each year to give offerings and prayers to the family deities out of respect. I inquired about this, and he explained that a family would often have a family deity or a patron saint. This was something new for me, but I’m sure it’s a fairly common thing for some people.
I wanted to know more about its significance. Mohanji explained it in this way: when you have invited a deity into your family, through worship, it’s like you’ve brought that guest into your home, and it becomes a family member, too. So, if you stop offering to them or respecting them, it’s almost as if you brought somebody to the house and to your table to have food, and then when you start eating, you don’t offer them anything. That type of disrespect can be created, and since deities are frequencies, it also connects with that aspect inside us.
On this trip, Mohanji made a point that he needed to visit his family temples to make offerings, so we took oil and incense. It was lovely to see the old home and the property. Mohanji shared that some generations back, this was part of a much larger, grander estate. Then we went to where they had the small temples to the main deities – Narasimha, and Lord Ayyappa, which his cousin takes care of.
I saw the continuation of respect by observing how Mohanji fulfils all his responsibilities with complete dedication, offering to the family deities being one of them. He does this every year. He does what he must do, and there’s no compromise.
Once we took refreshments there, we left for the next location. Like this, event after event, visit after visit, we’re moving. Tomorrow is the book launch of Mohanji’s father, Achan’s book. He translated Sripada Sri Vallabha. That is going to be quite a grand event. Now we’re about to travel there to prepare for the event and ensure we’re ready for a good program tomorrow.