The ceremony which is used before someone learns TM is a chant in Sanskrit.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called this Puja or Ceremony (was his English translation).
It is designed on 2 levels. It works on both levels – successfully.
1. It helps both the teacher and the student acknowledge they are going into a different “space” away from ordinary daily life – away from cars, tablets, televisions, family life, meals etc. This is intended as a special, happy space for the individual to be instructed accurately how to use the mantra they will be given.
2. It is an action of respect for by the teacher to the tradition of masters (teachers) who have handed down this tradition which allows this special human experience of transcendence.
The first half of the Sanskrit chant acknowledges the tradition of Masters by remembering the names of significant teachers throughout time – in reality back to time immemorial.
The second half is a celebration of the value of real Gurus or spiritual teachers throughout the passage of time and space. There is a strong case to state that each and every culture does this to those venerated as the great spiritual leaders of that country – whether that is Britain or India or wherever.
Due to cultural and historical reality this particular ceremony or Puja would be most familiar to Indians just as when we sing or hear “When The Saints Go Marching In” this would be more familiar to us in Britain or the English speaking West.
(image courtesy of Manish – a great man of India)
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his teacher before him Guru Dev were and are acknowledged teachers or Gurus in the World. They were Indians – Indian Holy men. Essentially without this oral tradition passed from teacher to student through times immemorial there would be no TM available for us to teach now.
To learn TM does not make either the TM teacher or the student a Hindu. Completely not – to learn TM is to learn how to transcend; absolutely no beliefs or values are given to the student.
Whilst I have the utmost respect for World religions and their traditions I personally am spectacularly non religious in any conventional sense. Simply because a technique has been held by Holy men/ monasteries over centuries and millenia does not mean it is not usable & highly beneficial for ordinary householders.
Kung Fu has been held by Shaolin Monks for generations – does that means it is a religious activity to learn or practice it? The answer is no. Likewise TM.
My understanding is that the term Puja can be translated from Hindi as either an act of worship or respect. In this context it is very definitely an act of respect.
TM was once held by Indian Yogis in the Himalayas; passed from master to student through each generation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi very specifically made the transition from this tradition being location specific to India and the Himalayas to in fact a tradition that belongs to every man, woman or child wherever they are.
It is a factual reality that TM teachers come and have come from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicity, religious upbringings etc. There are engineers, musicians, doctors etc. who have become TM teachers. It is now a tradition that belongs to the World. It is no longer location specific to India and the Himalayas.
This is the real reason for the Puja. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (“in his infinite wisdom” – to quote David Essel) wanted humanity, as it goes forward with a meditation culture embedded into all the different cultures around the World, not to forget the source from where this has come. The tradition from where it has come. I, as a teacher, am only too happy to acknowledge Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and all who came before him in this respect.
Without Puja the individual will not learn TM in its full and proper context. Therefore I teach with the Puja. It creates the right space to learn TM.