Posted by: gdevi | January 10, 2015

The Thousand Names of Siva

This evening, I went to the Sivan temple and to my Subramanian’s temple to pray. I left around 5:30 to go to the Sivan temple; the idol looked so beautiful. I did a neeranjanam for everyone. It was so beautiful and peaceful to be there. Then from there I went to my Subramanian’s temple in the other direction. I have a special bond with Subramanian. Hindus have a concept called “ishta devata” — basically it refers to how we conceptualize and “see” God in our mind, since God has many forms — Subramanian is my ishta devata. I was just in time for the deeparadhana – worship with many many lamps — for Subramanian. It was so beautiful. I prayed for you, honey, and I prayed for everyone.

Both at the Siva temple and at Subramanian’s temple, I had gone to the devaswam office and given all the names for the archana, for the offerings. The way you do the archana is to give the name of the person and their star; Hindus always correctly identify and allocate the star that is the ascendent at the exact time of your birth. So birth time is very important for Hindus. It was funny at the Subramanian’s temple — I gave all the names and the stars for everyone, one after the other, and then I came to my nephew Shambhu’s name — so I said “Pinaki” and his star “Visakham.” The young man printing out the offering slip on the computer looked up at me and said doubtfully, “Pinaki”? “Pinaki” with a P? “Pinaki”? He asked me doubtfully three times. He had never heard the name Pinaki before, obviously. So I said, “Yes, Pinaki, with a P. It is another name for Siva. “Pinaka hastaya sanatanaya” – I told him the phrase from the hymn to Siva. He stared at me blankly. “Pinakam is the sacred bow held by Siva–thus Siva is known as Pinaki — he who holds Pinakam” — he stared at me even more blankly. Suddenly, an old man, another staff at the devaswam office walked over to the window and patted the young man on his shoulder, smiled and looked up at me and said, “these people don’t know the other names of Siva. They don’t know the thousand names of Siva.” Then that old man went to another old man working at a back table and told him as well, “He didn’t know Pinaki was the name of Siva.”  The two old men smiled at me empathetically. The young man clearly got embarrassed at this point; it must be another job for him to work at the temple office.

I always feel so good after I visit my Subramanian’s temple. I prayed at Subramanian’s shrine, then Ganapati, then Dharma Sastha, then Naga. It was all so beautifully decorated. I will miss you, my dear temple.

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