(We have been receiving several letters asking us to explain certain things mentioned in our magazine. We are publishing the questions and our replies to the same. )
Mr. Gordon Westerlund writes from Portland, Oregon: Trust you will continue to send me your literature (Matrusri monthly journal). Thanks.
This may seem like a foolish question but why does AMMA ware ornaments (rings on toes and hands, nose etc,)? Is not there some spiritual meaning for it! Some Christians in America are against it.
Also, if it is not asking too much, I would like to learn the meanings of words “Yonimudra (Matrusri Nov. ’67 P. 25 and Matrusri P. 24) “Anasuya,” “Aadhara” (P. 11). “Theertham”. (P. 9) and “Amanaska” (Vol 1. No. 10. P. 39)
Is there any dictionary available or obtainable that has mainly spiritual or religious terms (words) in it?
The questions you raised are very relavent and I will endea vour to answer them to the best of my ability.
First, the question of ornaments that Mother wears. This question must be treated in three parts. (a) The significance of ornaments in themselves; (b) The mystical significance of Marriage; (c) Why Mother wears the ornaments.
(a) All worship has for its goal, the realisation of the oneness of the self of the devotee with the Supreme Lord-the realisation that the kingdom of heaven is within’. The Supreme Conscious ness ie.. God, in its manifestation in man’s being, has certain ‘key places in the body called ‘centres’ where the awareness of the inner divinity is more keenly felt with a little effort. These places are therefore held in respect. So they are marked out through the appropriate use of the ornaments so that a little of curious inquiry about ornaments might reveal the secret. The tradition of wearing them keeps the secret alive. Such are earrings, the nose drop, kumkum, ornamental anklets, rings to the fingers of the hand; to the second toes of the feet, necklace: golden girdle; bangles. In the mystic way of Mantras, there are what are called Anganyaasa and karanyaasa; i.e.. the visualisation or (or recognition) of the supreme deity with all Her or His powers in the organs of one’s own body and in the hands. The ornaments of the rest of the body are a clue to Anganyaasa. The rings of the hand suggest the Karanyaasa. They also signify the vow of right action. Similarly the virtues of watching breath are suggested by the nose drop and so on. The common use of gold in most of the Indian ornaments is mainly owing to the very benifical psyshic effects the metal has on ore’s personality. Further the presence of the ornament focusses the attention to that part of the body and so induces constant mindful ness of the key places in the body. For, unbroken awareness is the thing needed. The idols we worship are an expression of such ideas as ‘God made man in his own image’: Man is the microcosm and the Universe is the Macrocosm. Both are built on the same model and they differ only in size. The idol is at once one’s own image, an image of the Universe, and a symbol of the Lord of the Universe whose body this universe is (Iswara). Various schools of mystical practice centre round this principle of the discovery of the universal in the individual. Golden ornaments are thus used as aids and as sacraments.
(b) The whole of the Hindu tradition is God-oriented. What turns the mind away from God is considered as sin; what keeps one constantly God-minded is praised as the highest Dharma (Law). Marriage is based on this principle of making use of every aspect of the common man’s life to turn him God- ward, with all the strength and force of his habits, passions and desires, supplemented to the strength of one’s idealism. Marriage is differnt from licensed pro stitution’ only by its mystical significance. The loyalty of the life partners in marriage as an imperative issues from the idea of steadfastness, single-mindedness in Faith; family is the first arena for the exercise of self-discipline which is the back-bone of spiritual pro gress. The personal love and regard which the physical and human side of marriage imply, only supplement one’s idealism. This idea is confirmed by the fact that in a Hindu marriage, there is a peculiar rite or ritual in which the bridegroom vows to go to Banaras for study and renunciation: then is he begged to marry his sister by the brother of the bride. This points out the right attitude to life of a man who will be benifitted spiritually by marriage. The couple represent the aspect of God as the giver of “this our daily bread” for one another, and serve the same purpose for one another as the idol, the cross, or the niche in the musjid serves-i,e., to concentrate the mindwith all its attention, faith and reverence. So marriage ceremony is practically a ritual of mutual worship by the bride and the bridegroom. The silver rings worn by the Indian women on the toes of their feet symbolise the vow of disciplined conduct. They are made of silver, a precious metal, to signify the nobility of the idea behind them. Yet gold is scrupulously avoided in making the rings for the toes of the feet owing to its very high market value, and its use violates the sanctity attached to old. That would precisely jeopardise all the aims of the sacred rite of marriage. Hence golden ornaments are used to adorn only the feet of Gods and Goddesses in the temples. For, God is above all such tempta tions and is indifferent to its monetary value. Hence the popular belief is that those who wear golden ornaments on their feet come to penury and fall.
Once visitors asked Mother about this popular sentiment. Mother, in her characteristic way, told them that everything rests on the mind of the wearer, and it has nothing to do with the material called gold. Then the visitors asked Mother in a half-challenging and half-curious tone, if she dared to wear such ornaments on her feet. Mother answered them in the positive. So they got the first pair of golden rings for her feet. In course of time, those who look upon her as their Goddes: added their own offerings to them. So, today, Mother is found to be wearing golden rings on all the toes of her feet, golden anklets, bangles, rings. necklaces, ear-rings, nose-drop etc. On the rings of her feet, the figures of various gods and goddesses are engraved to convey the belief of the devotees that Mother is the Supreme Spirit of the Universe whose partial manifestation all other deities are. Inspite of wearing them for long, there is the least concern for them on Mother’s part Often various pieces of her ornaments are lost by her indiffe rence. She is found to be presenting them to some of the visitors as a token of her blessing, whenever she pleased. When anyone offers her a new ornament, she accepts it only on the condition that the giver does not mind her giving it away to whom-soever she pleased. It must be understood, above all, that golden ornaments are not looked upon by most of the Indians as ornaments or as beauty aids. They are sacramental. That is why only house wives wear them and widows do not. One of Mother’s definitions of marriage as ‘the authority to wear all the ornaments’ expresses this sentiment.