Arathi – A Ritual in Light – Children Of Light

arathi09jul02SaiKulwantArathi -Prashanti Nilayam

Om Jaya Jagadheesa Harey
Swami Sathya Sai Harey
Bhaktha Jana Samrakshaka
Bhaktha Jana Samrakshaka
Parthi Maheshwara
Om Jaya Jagadheesa Harey

Victory to The Lord of the Universe, To The Lord, Who destroys grief, evil, and miseries of life and Who guards and protects us. Victory to Lord of Lords.

The prayer-song Arathi is often (but does not have to be) sung at the close of a devotional singing (bhajan) session.The word refers both to the song-prayer and the waving of a camphor flame to a Deity. Arathi is sung and performed to develop highest love for God and to express devotion. In Hindu temples, one may find Arathi being sung and performed to various aspects of God, such as Ganesha, Durga, and even the Ganges river. Correspondingly, there are different versions of the Arathi song.Arathi is sung and performed at the end of each darshan in Prasanthi Nilayam, while a camphor flame is waved in a slow circle, facing Bhagavan.

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aartisArathi – Hindu Temple

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Arathi

During my journeys through India, I am often amazed by the puja and Arathi worship performed by people of the Hindu faith, from the high caste Brahmin down to the lowly beggar merchant at some curb side altar. Even before work can begin, Puja (worship) is performed to the chosen deities, such as Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Sarawati, goddess of wisdom, or Krishna, Shiva or others. Sometimes, puja has even been done to objects in daily use, to computers and stoves, to cars, washers, and dryers – in acknowledgement of the supreme Intelligence and to honour the power that makes them work. So what is Arathi? It’s a ritual in light which completes the puja worship ceremony.

Puja consists of offering flowers, such as tiny, delicate petals of heavy scented jasmine, often accompanied by fresh fruits to the chosen deity. Joss sticks are then lit and clouds of incense fill the air with aromatic fragrance. Often bells or gongs, conches, and cymbals are sounded as the sacred flame is lit. And with tremendous devotion and intense concentration, the light ritual is then performed. In a graceful, slow clockwise motion, the light is waved in front of the deity three times, and then offered to the worshippers. They in turn, offer their outstretched hands to the flame, which they consider to be the blessings of the deity. The Arathi tray is then placed before the altar where the worshippers can pass their hands over the flames. Often at the side of the Arathi tray, – beside the flame, are objects such as turmeric, representing wealth, Kumkum, which signifies auspiciousness; rice, for abundance; and sometimes gold. Frankincense, myrrh and dhoop – a kind of incense made of medicinal herbs are lit to purify the environment

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. The Arathi is an esoteric ritual, but its purpose is really very simple. One of the meanings of the word Arathi is “to take delight in the object of worship.” Another, is that the light cleanses the soul and awakens our inner spiritual energy, which in turn helps with daily meditation. To merge with the Light is representative of our small selves giving way or melting into the larger Self, and is the real purpose of worship. The Guru or Master, tells us time and again, the significance of Arathi is the symbol of  becoming one with the light, and being purified by it and while doing so, to let it scatter light and love to all around, leaving us as nothing; no more to be born into a worldly life of pleasure and pain’. This brings us to the quintessential expression of the Arathi ritual which is the prayer,  “Jyota se Jyota,”  in which the Guru’s grace is invoked to awaken our inner awareness.

Arathi is a discipline and an art, it brings harmony, inspires devotion and sanctifies the worshippers. Arathi contains the sublime mystery of worship, in which we use forms to experience that which is beyond all forms. For God is both form and formless,  “Saguna and Nirguna.”

At home, I have nothing as splendid as a puja room, or even an Arathi lamp, and the custom of offering flowers, fruits etc. seems so out of place in my  living room, especially during the bleak Winter months when the garden has few flowers. I make do with a simple candle which I light early in the morning and sit down before, for just a few moments in quiet meditation, then offer a few wishes God-ward, for peace in our time.


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You tube with the Arathi ritual with Arathi chant. Please folks who do not understand the Hindu faith, a wee word. God  in Hinduism is both the formless and  God in form. The Gods and Goddesses are only aspects of the One Formless God.. Thank you.

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Arathi on the Ganges river - the Ghats,Varanasi
Arathi on the Ganges river – the Ghats,Varanasi

Swami’s Halo – 1994 – Sathya Sai Memories

“Dissolve the self in the supreme Self as the pot-space is dissolved in infinite space; then, as the Infinite be silent for ever, O sage!”

– Adhyatma Upanishad

 

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One summer’s afternoon in 1994, I was sitting in the front of block two in the Sai Ramash Hall in Whitefield, listening to one of Swami’s discourses. It was one of those days when everything had gone amiss and I felt a strong sense of being let down. In this negative state of mind, I sat with arms folded in an effect to prevent further pain.

At the end of the afternoon’s discourse, Swami began to sing his favourite Rama bhajan, then instantaneously He beckoned us to join in the singing. The cheerful crowd began to clap and sing with enthusiasm – in fact the entire hall seemed to come alive and move with the music. But I stubbornly remained motionless – still hugging myself.

Swami, who was not far away, looked down with concern as I sat there still and silent. Then all of a sudden, the hall turned a misty brilliant white. I gasped and looked around me but within a few seconds the assembled crowd, myself included, were engulfed in the gathering mist. I rubbed my eyes and blinked but the luminescence continued to gather. As I sat there watching, the mist seemed to take on a life of its own. It began to thicken and intensify in a manner that seemed to reflect the joyfulness of the singing. When the bhajan came to its climax, I could no longer see anything as the mist had completly enfolded me.

At the end of the bhajan, I glanced up at Swami. He, too, was encircled by the mist, but to add to my surprise, a powerful light shone around Him. Not entirely convinced I was seeing correctly I thought to myself, ‘someone must be shining a very strong spotlight on Him.’ I peered around the hall for signs of extra lighting but there were none. When Swami turned slowly around to preform Arathi, I clearly saw at the back of His head, and unattached, a milky white shiny disc. When He moved, so the disc moved with Him, never wavering from its position.  It quivered with some unearthly luminescence.

After the Arathi, Swami began to walk away and the disc became more apparent. I can only describe it as a halo, but unlike those seen on pictures of Christian saints. Swami’s halo had a radiance that I felt was somehow charged by His divine essence. When Swami reached the door, both the mist and the halo disappeared.

The memory of that long ago afternoon is as fresh today as it had been then. Swami had given me a wondrous insight to encourage me during a time when I felt like giving up and it was – ‘LIKE THAT HE TAUGHT ME’.