The Daily Routine of the Asram Shrines
The day’s pooja begins with palliunarthal i.e., awakening of the deities, with the blowing of the Conch and the ringing of bells. This is performed by a Brahmachari during Brahmamuhurtha, at 3 a.m.. Then onwards till the doors of the shrine are closed for the day, devotees and seekers who come there spend blissful moments. Aaradhana (worship) is performed twice daily. Bhajans, reading of cd .. cd the whole text of the Holy Epic, the Ramayana, feeding the poor and the guests, Gurudarsanam are other daily features. On special days there will be Laksharchana, Sree Rama Pattabhishekam, Homam, Akhandanama Japam etc.
This is an important part of the unique method of worship followed in the Ashram. It is performed early in the morning and at night. Gurupadar is worshipped first, followed by poojas at Sakti Ganapathi and Sree Rama – Sita – Anjaneya shrines. Usually a Brahmachari performs the pooja. On important days Swamiji himself performs the Aaradhana. Union of the worshipper and the worshipped is the principle behind the methods followed in the Ashram. SANKALPA (the mental intention and suggestion) is given more importance than ritualism.
The aaradhana at night takes place between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. in a pattern adopted usually in Hindu temples. When offerings comprising flowers is over, Swamiji comes out of the shrine holding on his bare palm the brass plate on which camphor is lit. He goes round and round which is symbolic of the rotation of the earth and viewing the whole world as one unit. Needless to say that the red-hot camphor does neither harm Swamiji nor the devotees near him. He blesses each and every devotee, irrespective of cast and creed , on the basis of the principle of universality of the human soul by putting a mark on his/her forehead with the holy ash. Devotional songs are recited during the time of worship
Uninterrupted Recital of Adhyatma Ramayana
For nearly eight decades uninterrupted reading of the Ramayana is carried on in the Ashram. The whole text is covered during the day time. On special days reading continues late into the night and ends with Abhishekam at 3 a.m. There is no other place in the world where the whole text is read daily. ADHYATMA RAMAYANAM KILIPPATTU by Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan is used for daily Parayana. The holy ritual started by Gurupadar is still carried on as a yagna. The sequence observed in the course of worship is closely related to the sequence of events mentioned in the Ramayana.
Sree Rama Pattabhishekam
The esoteric significance of Pattabhisheka is beyond explanation. The Abhishekam (bathing with holy water) is performed at 3 O’ Clock in the morning. Swamiji sits cross legged inside the shrine in front of the idol leaning on it. He then performs Abhisheka on his chest being in oneness with the universal being. He is here closely following the practice of his Guru. Each movement made by Swamiji synchronises perfectly with the narration of events in the holy text. Those who listen to the lines attentively, can easily understand the significance of the rituals.
Swamiji enters the Mandapam when the portion which narrate the arrival of Sree Rama at Nandigrama is being recited. Sree Rama then goes to Alakapuri to pay obeisance to Sage Vasishta. This coincides with Swamiji’s pooja at Gurupadar’s shrine. Sage Vasishta asks Sree Rama to be seated. Swamy also enters the Samadhi and sits before the picture of his Guru. He then emerges from the shrine with a smile on his face. He listens to the request made by the relatives and others to Lord Rama to protect Ayodhya. This coincides with his coming to the Shrine of Rama. He performs Atmapradakshina and sits on the steps. He synchronises his movements with the events described in the Ramayana. The mudras and gestures reveal the sequence of events. The devotees visualise Sree Rama as getting ready for the coronation – taking the ritual bath, putting on robes specially made for the occasion etc. Swamiji enters the Shrine when the recital reaches the portion of Sree Rama’s journey to Ayodhya in the chariot brought by Sumanthrar. He then sits cross-legged on the flower bed on ankle of his folded leg. The devotees hear the lines that describe the arrival of holy water from all sacred rivers. He then puts the specially prepared ‘Haaram’ – garland of white Jasmine flowers around his neck. The devotees who follow the gestures and mudras then install in their hearts SITA RAM when they hear the relevant portions of the Ramayana. When the Pattabhisheka is recited, Swamiji performs Abhisheka on himself. Swamiji’s appearance undergoes a great transformation. He is no longer the ochre robed sanyasin whom one has seen a few hours ago. What one sees is the royal splendour and dignity of Lord Rama. It is then that a great truth dawns on the onlookers, here is one who has attained union with the Supreme. They get a glimpse of the real Swamiji who has inspired them, joked with them and consoled them in their moments of grief. It is one of the rarest of rare moments, the imperishable, invaluable and most auspicious moment of Abhisheka.
After Abhisheka Swamiji takes the Camphor lamp in his left palm. He showers flowers on himself when the lines describing Pushpavrishti by the celestial beings are recited. It is now the devotees’ turn to worship Swamiji with flowers. When he sits still for some time in deep meditation, one realises that he is none other than Atmarama. He then comes down the steps, still in a mood of complete absorption. After the Pradakshina he listens intensely. The reader has now come to the portion of Sita Devi offering Sree Hanuman the priceless necklace that adored her divine self. A sudden change of expression comes over Swamiji. We now see before us Lord Anjaneya himself. The devotees visualise Hanuman bidding farewell to the Lord to go to the Himalayas to perform Tapas. Thus the Abhisheka is complete. With Karpoora deepam in the left hand, he then goes to every devotee and gives him/her Vibhooti – puts Vibhooti on every forehead. He comes back, sits on the steps and then distributes payasam (sweetened rice). The garlands which adorned the picture of Gurupadar are taken out and distributed among the devotees. The distribution of Prasadam symbolises the distribution of presents by Sree Rama after Pattabhisheka.
Ahoratra(round-the-clock) Mahasudarshana Homam is performed uninterrupted for months on end from time to time. Offerings are made in the sacred fire to Lord Vishnu to mitigate sufferings and shield oneself from the evil thoughts and deeds of others. The sacred ash thus obtained is used for curing all form of ailments including luekemia.