Monday, April 13, 2009

Still "not a religion:" Video of puja, the religious ritual central to TM initiation

A video of a group performance of the puja, a central part of TM initiation, is now available as a Google Video. This video, recorded from the TM movement's Maharishi Channel, shows Maharishi Mahesh Yogi leading the ritual in January 2006, with a group of "rajas" of the organization's "Global Government." Each of these "rajas" had generally paid one million dollars each to dress in white robes, wear golden crowns, and at the time this video was recorded, were occasionally physically present with the movement's founder during the last years of his life.

What you'll see in this video differs from TM initiation in that initiations are done in private, with the prospective meditator standing with the initiator performing the ritual. The initiate would have contributed to this ritual by bringing fresh fruit, flowers and a hankerchief beforehand; they would, of course, need to be present for this ritual, and would be encouraged to kneel at the end (which occurs in the video at about 9:40 when all participants bow while seated).

Other elements that can be seen in this video are the same as what an initiate can expect to see before being instructed in the practice of Transcendental Meditation, particularly the puja set and picture seen in front of each participant, the use of incense, flame, water and flowers, the motions of offering various items "to the lotus feet of Shri Guru Dev," and of course the "Holy Tradition," sung in Sanskrit.

The puja and its translation have long been freely available online. To follow along, visit the "TM 'Holy Tradition'" page at Trancenet. For a discussion of the religious meaning of the puja, alternate translations, and an exploration of its source in commonly available scraps of Sanskrit poetry, see "Whose puja is it, anyway?" also at Trancenet. Also check out TMFB contributor Laurie's four part series here, Revisiting TM Initiation.

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