Installation of the Hanuman Statue
Saturday 27th April was the start of the two day festival to install the Hanuman statue in the meditation Temple at the bottom of the Ashram garden.
It was a gorgeous morning as dozens of people helped to carry all the various required items down the steep slope to the event. At ten O'clock Shri Babaji, the Spiritual Head of the Dehra Dun Ashram, arrived and conducted a beautiful puja (offering) to His beloved Master Shri Shivabalyogi Swamiji, then the Divine Shivalingham, chanting the Mrityunjai mantra. After this He conducted puja to Shri Rama, Shri MaaSita, Shri Lakshmana and Shri Hanumanji. It was a wonderful sight to watch Babaji doing puja with His total surrender and bhakti to the form of the Divine all-pervading.
Soon many people were there in the room where the Shivalingham is already installed and began the propitious day with chanting the Sunder Kand which is the fifth chapter of the Ramacharitramanas, written by Shri Tulsidas the great poet saint of the sixteenth century. The Sunder Kand chapter is considered one of the most auspicious chapters to recite before beginning any special task and is chanted in honor of Hanuman, telling the tale of how Hanuman overcame obstacles to find Rama's consort, Sita, held captive in Ravana's Lanka. It is particularly auspicious since it is claimed to have been written by Tulsidas in the actual presence of Hanuman, who blessed it with the power to remove worldly worries from devotees who chant it.
Shri Babaji led the chanting as the crowd of people inside and the many more outside felt the ocean of devotion pouring over them. There then followed the start of the recitation of the beautiful Hanuman Chalisa, which is forty verses in praise of Hanumana written by Tulsidas. There is a small story about the Hanuman Chalisa. It is said when he composed these verses he was imprisoned in Fatehpur Sikri by the Moghul Emperor Akbar. The poet chanted these verses for forty days at the end of which a vast army of monkeys gathered around Fatehpur Sikri and began to destroy everything in and about. Akbar realized his folly and let Tulsidas go with honor. The monkeys left as soon as Tulsidas was released.
The Chalisa (Chalisa means forty) chanting was performed in rotation with groups of devotees taking their turn to have the opportunity to take part in this blessed activity. This again led by Babaji and His awe-inspiring presence. People were excited and happy chanting hundreds of times along with Babaji as the Temple reverberated with devotion and love in their chanting.During the day both lunch and an evening meal were provided as a mass feeding in the Ashram garden outside the meditation building.
The next day, Sunday 28th April started earlier with breakfast mass feeding and then bhajans to awaken the event followed by more rounds of the Hanuman Chalisa. Later in the early afternoon the handsome Red stone carved Hanuman Statue was ceremonially bathed, while priests chanted mantras and everyone present had the chance to take part in bathing the statue. Then the statue of Hanumana was decorated with saffron color ghee paste. Hanuman is always covered with saffron paste as it is the color of Brahmacharya (celibacy), the color of renunciation. The one who wears this color aspires to control the senses and overpower the ego to gain Enlightenment of the Divinity. Hanuman is the perfect form who respects women only as a mother and never seeks fame or fortune, He does not seek to gratify the flesh or indulge in sensory pleasures. He wears a loin cloth (kaupina) which is the symbol of His chastity and the garment of a Yogi. The statue was then dressed and installed in the room adjacent to the Shivalingham by the auspicious hands of His Holiness Shri Shiva Rudra Balayogi Babaji, the direct disciple of Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj, Swamiji. Meanwhile other devotees were simultaneously singing the Hanuman Chalisa in the adjacent room and the homa (fire sacrifice) was also conducted outside the Hanuman Temple.
The last ceremony was the offering of prasad, 108 different types of fruit, grains, sweets, milk, yoghurt, coconut water and many more types was offered and distributed among devotees. The cooked food prasad was also offered and the mass feeding completed the day. After this Baba gave a beautiful message from one of the verses of Ramcharitramanas. "O Divine, let me meditate on Hanuman, Rama's eternal servant. The embodiment of devotion whose body is as strong as thunder, whose mind is as sharp as lightening who holds in His arm a mountain of herbs and a mace, who crushes malefic demons under His feet, who solves problems, takes away worries, inspires wisdom, gives strength, hope and confidence and who helps the devotee make their journey to the ultimate Divine (Rama)." When Baba was telling these words we could see the reflection of Hanumana in Him.
The Hanuman statue is worshipped every day and every Tuesday, being the auspicious day for Hanuman, we will conduct kirtan and special offering at the Temple. Devotees have decided that every second Saturday of the month the Sunder Kand will be recited in the Temple. Slowly the Temple is becoming famous in the area, people already starting to come to offer their pujas.
The significance of Hanuman and why He is so highly regarded by many is that, although He became Self Realized He never gave up being the devotee of His Guru, Rama. Hanuman said in Advaita (non-duality) only Rama exists as one single Self, I do not exist. In Dvaita (duality) Rama is God and I am His servant like the ocean and its droplet.
Below are a selection of photos from the events. Please click on the images to view them in full size.