Puja, or initiation ceremony, over the Web.
Well, it's high time the other shoe dropped.
Most TMers, even TM teachers, believe that the Puja was written by the Maharishi himself. Or perhaps it is a secret ceremony passed down for generations by the "Holy Tradition" that the Maharishi claims to represent.
Many, if not most, TM initiators had some trouble with the Puja translation the Maharishi gave us on Teacher Training. "Hey, this is supposed to be a Science -- not a Religion! " But we made our rationalizations and carried on. Fact is, all our hand-wringing was for nought. The deck was stacked. We never had a chance to make an informed choice.
The translation we were handed was thoroughly sanitized.
Even when we thought we were being told the esoteric truth, we were being lied to!
But the real shocker is that it appears the Maharishi cobbled together scraps of Sanskrit poetry to create a "Hindoo ceremony" to wow the Western crowd. He took selected verses of
If there's one thing the Maharishi's Puja isn't, it's secret. All the verses are readily available to anyone growing up in India's rich spiritual culture. An Indian student might very well learn them as part of public school education.
So why were TM teachers sworn to lifetimes of secrecy?
Perhaps the Maharishi concocted the entire Puja -- and he didn't want to share his embarrassment with the world. After all, since he was not born a Brahman and therefore could never become a swami, the Maharishi was never a member of the "Holy Tradition" himself. Most likely he was never privy to whatever secret rites Swami Brahmananda Saraswati taught. According to the very Vedic Law he touts, he commits sacrilege by teaching bija mantras -- a sin he compounds by charging money for his teachings. (See below for information on Guru Dev's successor, the current Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, his revered place in the "Holy Tradition," and his dark revelations about the Maharishi.)
Or perhaps it was a marketing move. If only he was the source of "secret" knowledge, he was guaranteed a virtual lock on mantra meditation in the West.
Most likely of all, the Maharishi always had the religious agenda he announced in Beacon Light of the Himalayas, back in 1956: To bring as many souls as he could to his Lord. But having discovered that Westerners were somewhat skittish about converting to Hinduism, he attempted to hide the Puja's purpose in order to gain converts through this magical ceremony.
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Old SRM teachers were instructed in the secret reasons why TM students are required to bring fruit, flowers, and handkerchiefs to the Hindu initiation ceremony -- which is what the TM Puja is.
The white cloth stands for the offering of the soul of the initiate, the flower for the blossoming of the Lord's presence in the initiate's heart, and the fruit for the offering of all the fruits of future actions -- literally all material wealth, success, happiness, and so forth.
The Puja -- as practiced in the TM movement -- is a religious ceremony meant to tie the soul of the initiate with Guru Dev, the Maharishi's long-dead teacher Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, and ultimately to Mahashiva as the true teacher/guru.
How did we ever believe the student was not involved in the ceremony? They are required to supply the major offerings -- the fruit, flowers, and handkerchief, they are required to hold a flower, they are required to be present, and they are asked to kneel at the end.
If you were to stand in front of a Catholic altar, were required by the priest to bring sacrificial offerings, required to hold a palm frond while he recites prayers, and finally were asked forcefully to kneel down to a picture of Jesus -- wouldn't you be a participant?
For the full text of the TM Puja see http://www.trancenet.net/secrets/index.shtml#ht.
To see former MIU professor Anthony Denaro's report that the Maharishi understands TM initiates to have become Hindus, see http://www.trancenet.net/personal/index.shtml#denaro.
A good discussion of what it means to be a Hindu: http://www2.eu.spiritweb.org/Spirit/Veda/nine-questions.html. The short version: "You are a Hindu if you believe in karma, reincarnation, the existence of God everywhere in all things, and the existence of beings that are on a greater evolutionary path than ourselves." By this definition, formulated by Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami of Hinduism Today, most of what the Maharishi taught us was Hinduism. (See "Soma and the Gods" for some of his more idiosyncratic beliefs.)
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Freely adapted from an extraordinary site at http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~vidya/advaita/advaita.html, compare this to the opening verses of the Maharishi's Puja. Bold verses are included, nonbold were snipped out.
nArAyaNam. padmabuvam. vasishTham. Saktim. ca tatputra parASaram. ca
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The toTakaashhTakamArchived at ftp://jaguar.cs.utah.edu/private/sanskrit/totaka8.itx
Here from the traditional toTakaashhTakam, are verses composed in honor of Adi Shankaraachaarya. Compare to the Maharishi's "secret" version.
sha.nkaraM sha.nkaraachaaryaM keshavaM baadaraayaNam.h |
I offer obeisances again and again to shrii Veda Vyaasa, the author of the Brahma suutras, who is none other than Lord VishNu, and shrii Shankaraachaarya, the commentator on those suutras, who is none other than Lord Shiva.
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It might be considered a cross between the "Lord's Prayer," the "Pledge of Allegiance," and "See Dick and Jane."
KARPURA-GAURAM KARUNA-VATARAM SAMSARA-SARAM BHUJAGENDRA HARAMCurrently the Movement translates it thusly:
White as camphor, kindness incarnate, the essence of creation garlanded with BRAHMAN, ever dwelling in the lotus of my heart, the creative impulse of cosmic life, to That, in the form of GURU DEV, I bow down.But a more accurate translation is:
White as camphor, the avatar of Karuna, god of Compassion, adorned with the garland of the Serpent King, ever dwelling in the lotus of my heart, to the Lord and Lady, Shiva and Shakti together, to them I bow down.This translation is based on the Movement's own vocabulary sheets, supplied to TM teachers in training on TTC. Note that Guru Dev, the Maharishi's teacher, isn't mentioned at all.
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The gurustotraThe final piece of the Maharishi's Puja puzzle, is the gurustotra, archived at ftp://jaguar.cs.utah.edu/private/sanskrit/guru_1.itx. It's memorized by nearly every Indian who follows a guru. Any guru. Again the Maharishi appears to have simply edited out verses likening the guru to God, promising him control over the student's worldly possessions, and the like.
akhaNDamaNDalaakaaraM vyaaptaM yena charaacharam.h .
Saluatations are to that guru who showed me the abode-- the one who is to be known--whose form is the entire universe and by whom all the movables (animals) and immovables are pervaded. (l)
aGYaanatimiraandhasya GYaanaaJNjanashalaakayaa .
Salutations to that guru who opened the eyes of the one blind due to the darkness (cover) of ignorance with the needle (coated) with the ointment of knowledge. (2)
gururbrahmaa gururvishhNuH gururdevo maheshvaraH .
Salutations to that guru, who is the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer and who indeed is the limitless Brahman. (3)
sthaavaraM jaN^gamaM vyaaptaM yatkiJNchitsacharaacharam.h .
Salutations to that teacher who showed me the one to be known, who permeates whatever that is movable and immovable, sentient and insentient. (4)
chinmayaM vyaapi yatsarvaM trailokyaM sacharaacharam.h .
Salutations to that teacher who showed me (by teaching) the pervader of all three worlds comprising the sentient and insentient. (5)
chaitanyashshaashvatashshaantaH vyomaatiito niraJNjanaH .
Salutations to that guru who is Awareness, changeless (beyond time), who is peace, beyond space, pure (free from raaga and dveshha) and who is beyond the manifest and unmanifest (Naada, Bindu, etc.) (7)
GYaanashaktisamaaruuDhaH tattvamaalaavibhuushhitaH .
Salutations to that guru who is rooted in knowledge that is power, adorned with the garland of Truth and who is the bestower of the joy of liberation. (8)
Salutations to that guru who by bestowing the knowledge of the Self burns up the bondage created by accumulated actions of innumerable births. (9)
shoshhaNaM bhavasindhoshcha GYaapanaM saarasampadaH .
Salutations to that guru; the perennial flow of wisdom from the one rooted in the vision of the Shhruti dries up totally the ocean of transmigration (saMsaara) and reveals (teaches) the essence of all wealth (the fullness, freedom from want). (10)
na guroradhikaM tattvaM na guroradhikaM tapaH .
There is nothing superior to knowledge of truth; no truth higher than the truth, and there is no purifying austerity better than the truth; salutations to that guru. (11)
mannaathaH shriijagannaathaH madguruH shriijagadguruH .
Prostrations to that guru who is my Lord and who is the Lord of the Universe, my teacher who is the teacher of the Universe, who is the Self in me, and the Self in all beings. (12)
gururaadiranaadishcha guruH paramadaivatam.h .
Salutations to that guru who is the beginning and the beginningless, who is the highest Deity and to whom there is none superior. (13)
tvameva maataa cha pitaa tvameva . tvameva bandhushcha sakhaa tvameva
Oh God of all Gods! You alone are my mother, father, kinsman, friend, the knowledge, and wealth. You are to me everything. (14)
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