Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Lord's Shepard

Habemus papum

"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.

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