Garlands of Devotion-Introduction


patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
asnami prayatatmanah

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf
a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. BG 9.26

Within a few months of starting to attend puja, I found myself drawn to the music and the malas! It was not long before I began to pick up the needle to begin stitching and the notes to begin singing. There are many ways to express devotion to the limitless Self and I tend to be simple in my approach to it. I would much rather make a mala than analyze the nature of reality!!! And I would much rather sing the mantra than write a manuscript interpreting it. To me, everything is Brahman and I have little interest in deciding what level of Brahman it is…I embrace it all as such and leave it to the Grace of the Lord to direct my footsteps.

The videos on making malas or garlands in the links posted at the end of this article are a deviation from my usual music videos.  Still, they are grounded in devotion and my effort to share what I have learned over the last six years making malas for Rudrabishekam and other holidays.  I have also taken to making them at home and that is what led me to share.  I have been asked by others at Temple how to make garlands, and there never is enough time during puja to share this.  Plus, one does not talk while Panditji is chanting the puja.  So, I decided that I could make a home video of making malas at home.

When you make a mala, you need to take the time to assess the flowers you have to work with. And you need to asses the amount of time you have to make the mala. Sometimes I have help…sometimes there are not enough flowers to allow too many for the malas, as you need to reserve some of the flowers for the puja.  Summer is good, when gardens are flowing, including the ones on the Temple grounds which are slowly becoming more and more lush with perennials.  But the real challenge is when there are limited flowers to work with. 

One afternoon on Mahashivarati, when there were plenty of flowers, I spent well over an hour making two malas, using both intact flowers and petals to provide interest, contrast, and to connect the flowers and hide the green buds that day.    You can see it on Lord Shiva below and on the linga beneath Him. 


 Copy of 246069009503_0_ALB 

 Most of the time, I have to make three in less than an hour. So, I have to quickly assess the flowers coming in and include them as I can.  Sometimes, I make a mala with multicolored flowers, staggered throughout the malas in a cascade of colors.  Sometimes, I will choose only a few colors (sometimes I only have a few colors) and use them as my pattern. 

Variation in size of the flowers also provides for interest and beauty, as in the mala below.  It has spring flowers from my garden in it…violets, vinca, bluebells, a daffodil, and the really small purple sections which almost look like beads came from grape hyacinths.  I do not even know what all of the flowers are as the orange ones come from some bush which was already on the property and the yellow ones, I just don’t remember what they are called. 

Spring 002

 Then the azaleas came into bloom, and the one below shows what you can do with that.
These flowers are stitched from the side, except for the pendant, which are stitched from
the bottom through the top of the flowers to form a tassel.     mala 011

 The photographs of Lord Shiva were taken by Bharatji, our unofficial temple photographer.  You can see that I included the azaleas as well as roses someone brought in that evening.  the azaleas are stitched sideways and the roses are stitched upright.  This provides a beauty in variation of the direction of the flowers. I only made the mala shown on Lord Shiva’s chest.  Someone else helped with malas that night and made the one crowning His head. mala 024

 To view the videos on how to make the garland (mala)  and the pendant…

Garlands of Devotion-Part 1                                                                        



Garlands of Devotion-Part 2


To view photographs with brief commentary excerpted from the videos,
on making the mala and pendant…


God Contact! by Swami Sadasivananda


There must be implicit faith and trust in God in all that He guides us through. When we are sensitive and perceptive, through meditation, experiences that come to us seemingly from the realm of the Higher Mind – from the sixth ‘sense’ that we use to hear the whispers from Eternity – are in fact direct contact with God!

    In truth, when we experience that heartfelt Presence, it is not at all a “feeling” but a direct advent, a gift, from God to us. God teaches, God guides, God draws us unto Himself 24/7. This is His business, and His shop never closes. During our early morning meditations especially, everything is on sale at huge discounts. In fact the rules of the sale are: “What you can carry away in your cart (heart), is free for the taking!

    So what actually happens when we are taken up to heights of bliss that smother us within the embrace indescribable Love and Compassion? Just this, a revelation unfolds from within when the mind is rendered still and pure through the transforming power of meditation, especially on God’s Name. God manifests from the core of our being! The joy and the completeness felt is a gift that comes to us through the use of the Name of God, which in fact, in reality, caused inner vision. The Name invoked the Named! God was not wowing us, God was teaching us the way home.

     Let’s analyze what actually happens. We are pulled away from our repetitions of the Name of God, or purely Om, and given a glimpse and a taste of what lies beyond the sensual mind. We temporarily lose our lower form of individuality to worship and adore God! We possess, even for a moment, that which is our birthright. And God knows, we have struggled nearly a whole lifetime to see and taste That, which though ours by right, is daily assaulted by sorrow, doubt and unbelief.

    Where is the teaching in all this? Just this! We should begin experiencing this very thing outside of meditation – to invoke and dwell in loving union (yoga) with the Lord through the practice of the Presence of God. His Presence is the purest manifestation of love. Love itself is the actual form of God!

    “When we are busied, as well as while meditating on spiritual things, even in our time of set devotion, whilst our voice is rising in prayer, we ought to cease for one brief moment, as often as we can, to worship God in the depths of our being, to taste Him though it be in passing, to touch Him though as it were by stealth. Since you cannot but know that God is with you in all you undertake, that He is at the very depth and center of your soul, why should you not thus pause an instant from time to time in your outward business, and even in the act of prayer, to worship Him with your soul, to praise Him, to entreat His aid, to offer Him the service of your heart, and give Him thanks for all His loving-kindness and tender-mercies?

    “What offering is there more acceptable to God than thus throughout the day to quit the things of outward sense, and to withdraw to worship Him within the secret places of the soul? Besides, by doing so we destroy the love of self, which can subsist only among the things of sense, and of which these times of quiet retirement with God rids us well-nigh unconsciously.

    “In very truth we can render to God no greater or more single proofs of out trust and faithfulness, than by thus turning from things created to find our joy, though for a single moment, in the Creator. Yet, think not that I counsel you to disregard completely and forever the outward things that are around us. That is impossible. Prudence, the mother of all virtues, must be your guide. Yet, I am confident, it is a common error among religious persons, to neglect this practice of ceasing for a time that, which they are engaged upon, to worship and love God in the depth of their soul, and to enjoy the peace of brief communion with Him.” *



“Just as the ankola fruit falling from the tree rejoins it, or a piece of iron is drawn to magnet, so also thoughts, after rising up, lose themselves in their original source. This is bhakti (Love of God). The original source of thoughts is the feet of the Lord, Isvara. Love of His Feet forms bhakti.”  (1)

“Know that the wondrous jnana vichara is only for those who have attained purity of mind by softening and melting within. Without this softening and melting away of the mind, brought about by thinking of the feet of the Lord, the attachment to the “I” that adheres to the body will not cease to be.”  (2)

“One must bring one’s thoughts to bear on God. By long practice the mind is controlled and made steady.”  (3)

“Love itself is the actual form of God.”  (4)

“In Thy Presence is fullness of Joy.

Good when he gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies.
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise.
Believe me, count as lost each day
you have not used in loving God.” *

                                                                    –    Brother Lawrence

* All sections in quotes within the body of the text are excerpts from a rare publication of the “Spiritual Maxims of Brother Lawrence” on the Practice of the Presence of God.
(1) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, recorded by Sri Munagala Venkataramiah, Sri Ramanashramam 2006, Talk 428.
(2) Padamalai, Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Recorded by Muruganar, Avadhuta Foundation 2004, p. 186. (Reference is to Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, vol. 7, verse 340).
(3) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, recorded by Sri Munagala Venkataramiah, Sri Ramanashramam 2006, Talk 91.
(4) Letters from Sri  Ramanashramam, Suri Nagamma, Sri Ramanashramam 2006, Letter #179.

Posted by Swami Sadasivananda at

Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

You are the Self

Sri Ramana used to say that just like an elephant wakes up upon seeing a lion in the dream, in the same way the devotee wakes up to his own True Reality, upon seeing the Guru in this world dream.

Once someone asked Sri Ramana how could one’s own True Guru be found. The Sage replied, “By intense meditation”. Another time Sri Ramana said that the disciple is more important than the Guru. If the disciple has faith, even a stone can serve as the Guru.

This morning, I am being visited by Dr. Lakshyan Schanzer, a well known Master Yoga Teacher and a Psychologist. Lakshyan has studied with a number of famous Gurus over the last 30 years including Swami Satchitananda, who found the community of Yogaville near Charlottesville, VA, here in the U.S. Lakshyan lived in that community for a while and also visited India to study with other teachers as well.

After Lakshyan and I talk this morning, we will go to an Indian Restaurant called “Rasoi” in Providence, RI for an “all you can eat” vegetarian lunch Buffet. I skipped breakfast in preparation for that anticipated big meal.

I should mention that Lakshyan has studied not only with the traditional Gurus but also spent time with Nisargadatta Maharaj. His account of the visit to Maharaj is on the following url.

Of course, I respect all Gurus and traditions. But my mind has naturally been inclined to Sri Ramana since I was very young. It just does not go in any other direction at all. Ammachi used to come here and many people lined up on their knees to get a hug from her. I respected these devotees but for me such things have absolutely no meaning. I accept that for others, it may be a lifetime experience. No matter how well known or famous or charismatic a Guru, I never feel any attraction other than for the person as a human being.

Sri Ramana is truly like the bright afternoon Sun at the height of the summer for the devotees. When the Sun itself is shining, one does not need candle lights to see the way.

Well, no words can be adequate. Sri Ramana’s devotees from the early 1900s to 1950 were some of the greatest saints and yogis of the day. But they were content to stay in Bhagavan’s shadow. Having found the Heart, one remains in the Heart as the Heart. No other place to go or be except where one already is and what one already is.

Namaste and love to all

Around Arunachala: By Richard Clarke

In so many ways Arunachala is the focus of our life here in Tiruvannamalai. I want to show some of the views that we live with, since many are interested in this holy mountain.

Views of Arunachala

Classic pictures

Ramana’s drawing

Arunachala drawn bySri Ramana

Arunachaleswara Temple

Arunachaleswara Temple  and Arunachala

Arunachala from around the hill

People climbing Hill for Deepam

Up the hill

Arunachala Views


From Inner Path

HPIM2338 HPIM3872 HPIM3950 HPIM2359 IMG_0149 HPIM2407

Arunachala from ‘yenga veedu’ (our house)

Arunachala from Brindavanam Arunachala Sunrise after Mahasivaratri night arunachala moonrise Arunachala in early morning light Full moonrise Arunachala behind the  cloud

Altar for Mahasivaratri

Mahasivaratri altar

Richard and Carol

Richard and Carol on Richard 64th Birthday

Photos walking around the hill

Sri Ramanasramam

Sri Ramanasramam entrance Inside  Ramanasramam

monkeys grooming each other

Inner Pradakshina Path

pradakshina trail Trail to Pradakshina Path

Papaji’s Cave

Carol medidtating at Papaji's cave Looking down from Papaji's cave

Sadhu’s and Sadhu tank

Sadhu meditating Sadhu at tank Sadhus washing at Sadhu tank Carol by outside altar

Pool at Reforestration Project

Water lily pondWater lilles

Backside of the Hill

Start of path on backsideFrog tank, on backside

Adi Anamalai Temple entrance

Adi Anamalai

Nearing the end of the Path

Old reforestration Om on the path, nearing the end

Last Temple before Tiruvannamalai is re-entered, Panchamukha Shrine

Temple through the trees orses and elephant ready to ride

Gods and demons

Where Did the Ten Pounds of Flesh Go? By Antoine Carre


About seven years ago, I went to bed one night after an ordinary day, only to wake up two hours later with ten pounds less on my body. This represented 5.4% of my initial weight. I did not urinate, defecate or vomit during that two hour sleep period. Perspiration was normal. So where did the ten pounds of flesh go?

Science has no explanation for it. In some extreme cases, the flesh-eating bacteria may cause such a loss in such a small period of time. The flesh-eating bacteria simply transform the flesh into scrap. But I didn’t have these bacteria; there was no scrap, my body was intact. I simply lost ten pounds of weight, while sleeping, in less than two hours. Where did it vanish? Go wonder…

The next day, just to play it safe, I went for a medical exam, knowing my life was not in danger (at that point in the morning). Except for the ten missing pounds, and this look of death I had on my face, all was OK, according the generalist doctor.

From a more subjective point of view, here is a bit more of what led up the ten pounds weight loss. During that period I was exploring, and pushing, for fun, the programming done in deep sleep, mostly in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) states. In those two hours of sleep, the elephant of my waking consciousness was going to walk on the so-subtle world of the ants. My waking consciousness was going to try to have a dialogue with the unconscious life of my individual cells. (Still laughing at myself here.)

During that same period, I had been exploring ways to merge with others on the body level from a distance–mostly with my beloved of that period, with whom the “tuning” was deeper than our consciousness was aware. And there was the remaining influence felt from Wing Chun Kung Fu, which worked deeply with the power of attention and the body on many levels.

So that night I went to bed, allowing, as I had been doing for a year then, for all the cells of my body to resonate with those of another person, living on the other side of the continent. I got more and more attuned to that person, knowing when she was sad, happy, healthy, or less healthy, etc. Not just knowing—literally feeling.

The problem, that night, was that the person with whom I got attuned had gone into a focused meditation with someone else. I did not know this would happen so I did not retract my attention from merging with someone else, before going to sleep.

My body was not as well-attuned on a cell level to that of the third person involved. It’s then that what happened, happened. I woke up in a dream inside the REM state, my body completely paralyzed. And from that state of consciousness, I could watch the conflict occur on the DNA vibration level, meeting another one with which I was not in tune. I lost ten pounds–pfffff!—it simply vanished into thin air. Not in a few hours, but in a few seconds. The act of my day-to-day consciousness looking at the DNA vibration of the cells brought this on almost instantly. On the objective side, I know I weighed ten pounds more before going to sleep than when I woke up. My scales were there to testify to it. But on the subjective level, I am sure they were lost just in the few seconds of waking up.

With a great inner struggle, I was able to come out of the paralyzed state in Rapid Eye Movement, which stopped the process of ‘disintegration’ (I never could think of a Name for that experience). To give an image, I felt as if I was caught in a completely sealed room, with the energy inside equivalent to a nuclear reaction. Each cell of the body felt as if it wanted to burst open, liberating all its energy.

Waking up, I had to go deep within to stop this process of disintegration. I had to find a deep calm within, behind the cells, behind the atomic structure, behind my body-mind, to show it the peace of a night sky, with no super nova in it.

Maybe this process of body ‘disintegration’ is tied to the process used in the story of Jesus or Milarepa after their death, when they dissolve their body in thin air. I don’t really know. And I don’t seek to understand it, really. Maybe it’s tied to Shri Aurobindo saying someplace, something like, “the ego of humankind is opening faster and faster, but gradually and integrally. Yet just open the ego of a cell and it will explode.”

It took me two months to regain my normal weight. Since then, I stopped merging with others over distance. I learned to respect the ego-body of each. I also learned, from experimenting with it, that the body is just a projection of the mind. A nice one, I might say, a divine temple, but a projection nonetheless.



Text edited by Jill Eggers.

Mazie Lane responds…Hey, Where’d I Go?


Dearest Antoine,

This strange and unbelievable phenomenon happened to me and my body, too, back in the mid-eighties. I was at a get-together of the Self-Realization Fellowship devotees, disciples and students of Paramahansa Yogananda, my Gurudeva.

I was about twenty or more pounds over-weight at the time, that being about 142 pounds. The day was normal-I ate normally, acted normally; in other words, nothing un-normal happened that would lead me to suspect something like this was about to happen.

Of course, there were the deep meditations, the kirtans and the lectures, and the also the films preserved of Yoganandaji in them, but that was not unusual for me.

I went to bed that night in the hotel room, a room I shared with a friend from France, Enid Moine who lived at the time in Poitiers. When I awoke, something “felt” different, I felt, well, lighter. I could not believe my eyes nor my hands touching and exploring and saying, “Hey, where’d I go?”

Where I did go was to the floor with the gym and I weighed in. What astonishment, even after realizing that something was entirely different… seeing by the numbers right before my eyeballs bugging out – I had lost overnight while sleeping, over twenty pounds. I am seriously telling you that this is exactly what happened.

Thanks, Antoine, for bringing this up and recalling back to my mind, the same kind of weird and wonderful experience with body/mind bringing out the stops and somehow, wow, just dissolving it.



Antoine Carre has been a member of HarshaSatsangh for many years. He lives in Canada. You can find his website at

“All spiritual teachings are only meant to make us retrace our steps to our Original Source.” From The Essential teachings of Ramana Maharshi, A visual Journey.

Click here for Mazie Lane’s Photography and bio.