"The Lord who bought his shepard home, has sent the Holy Spirit to show the next shepard"
And as last night unfolded, my entire family - orthodox Hindu in tradition - gathered around the television to witness the White smoke, followed by the proclamation by the senior cardinal & the subsequent introduction of Pope Benedict XVI.
It was also a time of reflection, of what god-men bring to lifes. Dad mentioned that he had to face a 150,000 strong crowd to have a glimpse of Pope John Paul II during his visit to India in the 1980s. Even the few interactions that i have had with saints & sages, hindu or otherwise are quite cherised.
During the telecast, the discussion moved to establishing a mattam peethadipathi (Head of a Monastry). The following is the procedure that my parents explained:
- The elected person should obtain the permission of his mother; as the bond of mother - son is the most pious in Hindu dharma. Also, the mother & son are not to meet each other ever again; the mother's desire to see her son take this path - needs to be verified by the electing authorities
- After the prayers, the elected person is made a sanyasi (Man detached from materialistic world) and has to take a dip in the temple tank
- During the holy dip, his upanayam (sacred thread) is cut off - indicating the release from earthly bondage. As he raises from the dip, Kashayam (Sacred orange clothes) are draped around the holy one, indicating to disciples - that the lord has raisen.
- After the dip, when the holy seer comes out of water - the immediate family - father, brother etc along with the temple authorities seek his blessings, by prostating to him (but not touching him/his feet)
- However, as said earlier - the mother is not allowed to come in front of the seer. But, she is allowed to look at him from one a distance and then she is taken away; never to see her son.
Interesting to see, a lot of commonality between the cow herd & the shepard.