Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
INITIATION is something that stands out among all the events and action at a Kumbh Mela. In fact, if I were to be a bit reductionist, I would say the Kumbh is a womb, and the Mela, the meeting, is a process of procreation - in which a spiritual/intellectual gene is passed down. What results is new spiritual/intellectual life. And to those who have already been passed the gene, this is the time for the sacraments that accompany that gene, at various stages of life, so that the initiation bears fruit.
There are several initiations that take place, but 2 major ones are performed in Juna Akhara during the Kumbh Mela: the 5 Guru Sanskar in which the disciple is connected with his guru and his guru's family/lineage, connected with Guru Dattatreya as the source of the lineage, and with 4 other gurus in the Akhara; and the "Sacrament of Knowledge," as the 24 hour initiation into Sannyas is called, taking place in the compound of Maya Devi, The Goddess of Illusion, within the Akhara, in front of the shrine of Guru Dattatreya, where a havan (a fire sacrifice) is performed, and on the banks of the Ganga, where several baths and other rites are also performed. All the ties with caste and social obligations in the ordinary world are severed, a ritual cremation, as it were, marks this passing away from the Ordinary World into a bardo-like state, from which the disciple enters the Extraordinary World in the family of his or her guru.