Eighteen Days - Sri Panca Tattva's Mayapur Lila

Eightrcn Days - Sri Pd[(d-t.rtlva's Md.r'.ipur-lila

Matter to Spirit The Anatomy of a Deity Installation

B,y -Sri Prahlada Dclsa and Braja Scvdhi Dcvi DasI

As the festivities and flormalities unfolded in the temple, thousands were drawn into the whirl of color and sound emanating from the main altar as Sri Panca- tattva were unveiled flor the first time. Amongst the activities, one stoocl out in its beauty and intensity-the yajna, or fire sacrifice, being carried out centre-stage . Huge llames licked the 40ft ceiling, urged on by great wooden spoonfiuls of ghee (clarified butter), accornpanied by a chorus of strong voices chanting Vedic ,nanlras and prayers. This is tattva-homa. one o[ the six rites o[ the deity installa- tion process-a rr-ragical, spiritual, esoteric journey for the senses, mind and spirit And a mystery to rnost... The Vedic scriptlrres teach that the Lorcl's name, [onn, qualities and pastirnes are non-different from Hirn. Thus the deity, as the Lorcl's form, and the Lord Hirrrself are non-different. Then why the need for an installation? Essentially, the installa- tion process formalizes the Lord's manifestation. It is a conscious acknowledg- rnelrt, a 'contract,' so to speak, between the devotee and the Lord who is requestecl to be lormally present and reciprc'rcate with a certain standard of worshil;. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-4\fi, ye yatha mafi prapadyarrtr: "As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly." A picture o[ Krsna also represent.s the Lord's florm and is as worshipable as the deity form. In contrast however, the deity offers rnore oppor- tunity for personal service in the way o[ bathing, dressing and decorating. Just as tlre chanting oI the ntaha-ntantral-fl21s Krsna, Hare Krsna, K5gr1a KfSna, Harc Hare /Hare RAma. Hare Rama, Rdma Rdma, Hare Hare-destroys the false ego and gradually awakens the spiritual iclentity of the c]ranter, so the six rites of the installation process symbolize a twofolcl theme o[ purifying the material elernenls the deity was carved frorn, and'recreatil'rg' the cleity from spiritual ingrcdients. [n


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