Is it compulsory that one must undertake austerity for going to Sabarimalai ? I have gone twice to sabarimala but i wore the maala only 3 days before..
In your previous postings you have repeated that Vratham is mandatory..
Can you explain the procedure for these ?
Thanks for raising this question .... This is a right occasion so that not only the regular readers, but also everyone who is accompanying us during the July Sabarimalai yatra will also be benefited.
Vetren Guruswamys have explained the rules very clearly and it was and it is followed very strictly even today...without even a small doubt like "whether is it applicable in todays context?" etc etc..
I dont know how and when it started corrupting. May be because when junior Guruswamys started leading - they started with something called "COMPROMISE"
Pilgrims those who wish to climb the holy sabari hills and have the Lord's Dharshan must undertake the strict Vrutham for a minimum period of 41 days and then carry the Irumudi and climb the hills as well as the sacred “Pathinettam padi”.
This vrutham preceding the yatra with a discipline routine like prayer, control over food, not wearing footweras, meditation and celibacy - helps the pilgrim to withdraw his mind from worldly objects and turn it towards God. The sole purpose of Ayyappa avatharam is to establish the doctrine of oneness of all beings ie the identification of self.
This maala reminds the pilgrim of this supreme truth - so one cannot ignore this just like that. When the vrutham is properly observed - the pilgrim himself can experience a change in his mental attitude and mental maturity.
Why Maala ?
Sabarimala yatra is not like visiting any other temple; its a place where one can enter only when the Lord "invites" him. When a person decides to start his vrutham - he obtains blessing from his parents, elders and Guru and then wear the maala.
The first step to mark the beginning of his divine journey - is to wear a maala of tulasi or rudraksha beads.
So one must wear Maala on an auspicious day anywhere before 41 days from the date of journey.
When maaladhaaranam is done with Mudra Maala - Shiva ganams and Shakthi Ganams manifest in the maala and it takes care of the pilgrim. (When proper rituals doing Avahanam to the maalai - the maala becomes Mudra Maala.)
[This procedure and puja I may explain sometime later]
When a person is wearing maala during Karthikai 1st (Vruschika Masam 1st ie Nov 16-17th) then he need not check with any auspicious time or muhurtham nakshatram etc to wear the maala.
One has to wear the maala only through the Guruswamy ie the Guruswamy who is going to take you to the Yatra. An alternate practice is wearing the maala from one's mother's hand in the presence or with the permission of Guruswamy.
It is not a must that one must wear maala only at a temple.. He can wear it even at the Puja room of his house or Gurus's house.
Number of Maalas, Dollar etc
Nowadays it has become a practice that one must wear more number of maalas during Sabari yatra - may be to show his supremacy.
But Mudra Maala during maaladharanam is only one. Some people have the practice of wearing a second maala named "Thunai Maalai".
When the Mudra Maala is safely guarded there no necessity for a second maala.
Ofcourse, there is nothing wrong in wearing one more - but there is nothing special in doing so.
Similarly wearing a dollar along with with the image of Lord is just to remind us the Lord's form and that doesn't gives any special status.
An ordinary maala (with or without dollar) when worshiped, sanctified and adorned from the hands of Gurunatha - only after this it becomes Mudra Maala. For this one need mantropadesham. So dollar is only for beautification.
( Ive not heard any of these concepts like Thunai Maalai, Dollar etc etc from any senior Guruswamys who are undertaking the Yatra for more than 50-60 years. Nothing wrong in all these - but please understand there is nothing special too)
Wearing Maala on a later date
Only during Aapath Kaalam one can adopt certain exemptions. But exemptions cannot become rule. So only for those who have unavoidable circumstances - can start the Vrutham - but wear maala on a later date.
For example Doctors cannot expect shuddi - because they need to handle all type of patients and even corpse- because of the nature of the Job.
Here relaxation is given only for wearing the maala - but not for Vrutham.
Many may have a doubt - whether one can perform Pithru Karma while wearing maala.
Maaladharanam is done to mark our conviction to begin the yatra and worship the Lord. Pithru Karma is our duty. One has to give primary importance to perform his duty. Some people may wear mala as usual and perform the Pitru Karma. An alternate practice (suggested by elders) is starting the Vrutham before 41 days - and wearing the maala after completing the Pithru karma.
Again I repeat - relaxation is given only for wearing the maala - but not for Vrutham.
Removing Maala in between
During the time of Theettu like death of Karmic relations - when one is affected by Theettu, he cannot wear the maala during this time.
After the theettu is over one has to consult his Guruswamy... He must take bath twice and chant Sahasra Gayatri or Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa - 1008 times and then wear the maala again from Guru's hands.
When a person wear the maala, devata shakti manifest in the maala and they are along with the pilgrim. So the person must be very careful that no ashuddi affects him - because this will affect the sanctity of the maala. It is a practice that whenever a person comes out, he must always carry few Tulasi leaves along with him so that the negative forces donot affect.
Even then whenver he has a doubt of Ashuddi - he must immediately come home - drink Panchakavyam and keep some Gomaya (Cow Dung) in his head and have bath and pray to the Lord seeking Samasthaaparaadham.
Another important question raised was - can one fulfill his prarthanas with other temples while wearing the maala. This he can definitely do.. or rather he must do because it is your promise and you are keeping up your words.
But no prarthana can be executed after taking the irumudi - because after taking the irumudi one's target should be only Sannidhanam and nothing else. Till climbing the 18 steps and having Darshanam everything else have only second priority.
'Maaladharanam' is aimed at inner refinement of the devotee. It is for concentrating the mind on Sastha, the symbol of virtue and purity. Thats why each devotee is called 'Swami' as he is considered pure and dedicated.
Before wearing the maala, one has to pray to his Kula devata, thereby taking Her/His permission to commence the vrutham.
Before starting the vrutham, the devotee shall cleanly shave, clip his nails, trim his hair and make himself physically clean. The maala should be cleaned and smeared with Vbhuti and sandal paste and placed before the Lord.
In case of a person with yagnopaveedham - one may change his upaveedham and then wear maala.
The devotee shall withdraw from all social activities and spend his time by taking part in prayers, poojas, bajans, visiting temples, helping the needy and attending religious discourses.
He must always contemplate the form of his Guru - by whose grace he has seen the Lord and is going to see the Lord.
He shall take only vegetarian food and refrain 100% from taking meat, intoxicating drinks / drugs, chewing betel leaves and from smoking. He shall not attend any social functions and shall not take food from anyone's home unless he is sure about their shuddi.
Under any circumstances one must not refuse to accept the prasadam of the Lord
He shall bathe twice, and perform pooja to the Lord. [I shall post the simple puja vidhi soon. So that every devotee can do the basic puja to the Lord daily.] He shall continuously chant Saranam Ayyappa in mind, both at work and at home.
Those with Gayatri - must defenitley do their Sandhya vandhanam and Gayatri Japam - without this the vrutham is futile.
He shall not hurt anybody verbally or physically - understanding that all beings are Lord Ayyappan himself.
He shall not feel proud of the respect and privileges he gets when he is wearing the maala. When others prostrate themselves on his feet he shall not feel proud but dedicate the same to Lord Ayyappan.
He shall not cause inconvenience to his family members on account on observing the vrutham.
He shall strictly follow brahmacharya (celibacy) in word, deed and thought. And treat all women with motherly feeling.
During the whole period of Vrutham, the Devotee has to practice Satyam, Ahimsa and simple life.
He shall not sleep on bed but on floor, he shall not use footwear but walk with bare feet.
One must remember - the 41 days Vrutham is prescribed by the Lord himself and we dont have any rights to reduce it to x number of days. When one follow what is instructed by the Lord strictly and totally surrender himself to the Lord - iam sure that Lord Ayyappan will 200% shower his blessings.
Another important thing :
The procedures and practices may vary from group to group so when you go with a group, you must listen to their rules and must follow the Guruswamy who is leading you. "Guru Vaakyam Pramanam" is the golden rule.