Around the beginning of June 2015 my local temple was fortunate enough to hold a very auspicious event. It began on the full moon and lasted for 5 days and was the inauguration and consecration of our “new” 10-million dollar construction. The work is not yet quite complete, but the timing was right and the work was complete enough that the event was held. If I ever find the time, then I do plan to publish something here detailing my experience, as I was one of the only people to be there each day all day- who wasn’t a full-time volunteer or a priest.
Different people joined me on different days and on one day, for a few hours, my sister and another girl, Danielle, who I’ve known since she was born came and visited with me. My sister arrived first and we had fun together. One thing I always enjoy when bringing “unfamiliar” people to the temple is “dotting” them. You wouldn’t think such a small gesture would weird people out but it sure does.
They arrive, then I might show them around just briefly – or not – before we find our way before God and the gods. We (I) quickly prostrate and pranam to the murtis and then I walk them up with me to place a small dot, either of vibhuti or kum kum or both, on their forehead in the area of the ajna chakra.
This is something most recognize as a Hindu thing. Here in America, if the word “Indian” comes up in conversation it’s not uncommon for the speaker or the listener to specify or request clarification (as if context isn’t enough) on what kind of Indian is being mentioned, usually by asking or stating, “Feather, not dot” or vice versa, depending on what the case may be. “Feather” indicates a Native American Indian person and “dot” indicates an Asian Indian. (YES – Indians are Asians!)
My sister was dotted and, as any young person would today, within minutes had snapped a selfie or two. She snap-chatted one such pic to her current boyfriend… I think a pic of just me with my “dot,” though. His response was that it appeared as though I have a “Here I am” dot on my forehead, like might be seen on a map or GPS. We both giggled at his remark.
Later, as I continued to think about that it struck me as a little profound. To be clear that wasn’t his intention. But still….
The ajna chakra is an important center within the body. Lots of people just call it the “third eye.” In Sahaj Marg, our focus is primarily the anahata (heart) chakra (maybe I can write a post about that some other time), but they are all connected. Many sources say the ajna chakra isn’t the highest center in the body and indicate that there is / are another center or two above it… sometimes you’ll find mention of even more than two centers being above the third eye. Other sources indicate that the ajna is the highest chakra in our system.
During my time at the temple that week my parents were able to come up for a few hours. While they were with me, a man came around with a tray holding two “bowls” with vibhuti in one and kum kum in the other. My parents were hesitant to engage, but he persisted and even offered a bit of explanation to them: He said that putting a dot in the area of the third eye will direct others’ attention to that area of your body and their gaze essentially sends energy (psychic energy?) to that chakra and helps to awaken it or something. So, depending on who you talk to or what you read you’ll hear different things about this center in the body.
To return to something from earlier, the comment made by my sister’s boyfriend, I think it’s a little bit great that it was referenced as a mapping system’s “Here I am” dot. This area of the human body is known to be a very important center for our current existence – surely, one of the reasons so many people come to view their body as a “temple.” This is a prominent “throne” in the temple of the body where God is known to sit / reside. In Hindu belief, the sound or resonance associated with this center is none other than Aum, which is synonymous with Ganesha who interestingly is formally associated with the lowest chakra in the human body – This relationship and association makes me smile because Ganesha is my ishtadevata and seeing what is essentially the same association “in the beginning” as we do at the end reinforces my bhakti. Anyone who meditates frequently enough will likely have a fancy experience involving this area of the body.
At any rate, we are not really our bodies. Right? We’re the “stuff” that is nameless, formless, essence-less, and which is ultimately impossible to describe. If the ajna chakra is in anyway the (or at least “a”) seat of the soul, then surely my sister’s boyfriend wasn’t too far off in joking that our foreheads were indicating “here I am.”
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti