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Sri Maharudram - An Exquisite Divine Experience

Ganesh Davluri


The 3-days long grand Sri Maharudram ( http://www.maharudram.org), a rare and unique Hindu Vedic ritual that was organized at the national level, for the welfare of all devotees, their families and friends, all humanity and for global peace & prosperity concluded at the beautiful Swaminarayan ISSO temple in Lowell, MA on Sunday, 23rd September 2007 .

 Organized by the Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation (KKSF), Washington, DC Chapter, the 3-day event offered a once-in-a-lifetime soulful treat complete with spiritual ecstasy and divinely meditative spirit for an estimated 3000 devotees, 17 priests, 90 Rithviks and about 50 volunteers, who were blessed with the opportunity to participate in the happenings and partake the divine complimentary prasadam offered twice a day to everyone who thronged to the event from the Greater Boston area and places as far as Chicago, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, New York and Wisconsin.

This 2nd annual event by KKSF graced Boston this year, with the Blessings of the Kanchi Acharyas Their Holiness Shri Jayendra Saraswati and Shri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswati, to mark the completion of the centenary year of Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati's ascension as the 68th Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam in 1907, after a highly successful inaugural event last year in Virginia.

The Vedic hymn Sri Rudram is the oldest listing of various names of Lord Shiva. Through the chanting of Sri Rudram, Lord Shiva's various attributes and aspects are invoked and worshipped. Chanting the Rudram and listening to the chanting are considered to be of great benefit to devotees. When the Rudram Japam (chanting) is accompanied with the Vedic fire ritual and a 10 th of the number of repetitions of Rudram performed in the Rudra Japam, it is called Rudra Homam or the Rudra Yegnam. Eleven recitations of the Sri Rudram each followed by a recitation of one anuvaka of the Chamakam is called Ekadasa Rudram. Eleven Ekadasa Rudram recitations, followed by a 10 th of that number in Homam, make one Laghu Rudram. Eleven Laghu Rudrams make a Maharudram.

"The vibrations of the Manthrãs of the Vedhãs recited at the Swaminarayan Temple during the Sri MahaRudram Yegnam were extremely divine. There are not enough words to describe the emotional experience that it was.", said Venkat Gopalan, one of the Directors of KKSF.

While preparations have been going on for weeks before the event, the spiritual proceedings of the event started early on Friday morning with the traditional Ganapathy Homam, Acharya Paduka Pooja, a pooja to the Kanchi Acharya actual padukas flown in specially for this event, and Abhishekam. The event picked up a great speed and attendance in the evening with the Devi Vilakku Pooja and Lalitha Sahasranama Parayana attended by an estimated 400 devotees including 150 women who offered the Pooja to Goddess Kamakshi while the main priest offered prayers to a specially decorated Deepam. Friday night's proceedings concluded with the distribution of deeksha vastrams and pancha patrams (holy dress and accessories) to the priests and Rithviks in strict accordance with the Shastras.

 Saturday's morning program started bright and early at 7AM with the Mahanyasam followed by Go Puja (worship to a cow) and Ekadasa Rudram with 77 Kalashas distributed equally among 7 ghanams (groups) of the priests and rithviks who participated in an elaborate ritual involving the chanting of Rudram for 11 times each, in the yagashala tastefully decorated in traditional Indian style.

The early afternoon attendees were treated to an enlightening discourse on the significance of Rudram and Rudradhyaya by the erudite scholar, Swami Tattvavidananda, who has flewn in from the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania . "For Sanyasins the essence of all the Vedas culminates in just the Omkara. But, Rudram is the only hymn that continues to be as auspicious even to the Sanyasins (hermits) as it is to the householders.", commented the revered Swamiji, who is a true Pandita in both the modern and classic sense, being endowed with deep rooted traditional Vedic and Vedantic scholastic knowledge, along with a Ph. D. in modern Chemistry.

The evening was lit up with an elaborate Rudra Krama Archana followed by a grand rendition of various Vedas in the resonantly mesmerizing Ghana Patham. The Ghana Parayanam was followed by Slokam, Strotram, Nrityam and Geetham (music and dance) based Avadharikas by local students.

"The entire place was transformed into Kailasam for three days, with the divine chants Rudram resounding in all directions. It was transcendental.", remarked Vishwanathan Krishnamoorthy (Viswam) who was instrumental in bringing the Maharudram to Boston along with Balaji Rajamani, Chandramouleeswaran Ganapathy (Mouli) and Sundar Ramaswamy who collectively attended the inaugural Maharudram in Virginia and got so enamored by it that they resolved to get the great event to Boston this year and followed up with a great amount of hard work and persistence to make it a reality.

Sunday's program started even earlier at about 6:30 AM and continued with a similar sequence as on Saturday morning with Mahanyasam, Ekadasa Rudram, eventually adding up to more than the 1331 times stipulated for a Maharudram, followed by the Dhampati Puja, Vatuka Puja, Kanya puja, Suhasini/Sumangali puja concluding with the Dasamsa Rudra Homam, Vasordhara, an Upachara and a grand finale of Purnahuti and Acharya Sanmanam (honoring of the learned Vedic scholars and priests).

The Rudra Homam was performed by 11 priests presided over by the main priest as Brahma. The high point of the events was the Homam that was done with utmost care and adherence to tradition, without omitting any important aspect. Fire Worship is the earliest form of Worship for the Hindus; offering to Fire God the best that we have was( and is) considered to be the real offerings to our Gods.

Annadanam to devotees, and Dasa Dhanams, Pancha Dhanams in form of cash and appropriate substances, and pankti bhojanams to priests and rithiviks were offered on all 3 days in keeping with the principles of a Yagnam. A huge number of highly dedicated volunteers helped in ensuring a smooth coordination of event day logistics including kitchen management, front desk management, and in a lot of other behind the scenes activities.

Various spiritual and cultural organizations including the Swaminarayan temple ISSO, the Sri Lakshmi temple, the Saraswati Mandiram in Epping, NH, Chinmaya Maruthi Mission of Boston and the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam that cooperated in various logistics to make this event a grand success were honored along with the learned Acharyas (Vedic Pundits).

A core committee consisting of volunteers from all over the USA worked for months in planning for the event.

The Srimukham sent by the Acharyas in Kanchi for the occasion, their blessings and Prasadams assured at the outset that the event would be a huge all round success and it indeed turned out so

"It was the first time for me to attend a Vedic ceremony on this grand a scale, this steeped in Vedic authenticity and this fulfilling in spirituality. After this, I know this won't be the last for me. I'll cherish the memories from the event for a lifetime. I'm already looking forward for the next of more of such events in Boston in the future", said a visibly excited and satiated Lalitha Davuluri, one of the 3000 devotees who attended the event over three days. "Tathastu! (So be it)", chimed in Jennifer Bradford, one of the American devotees spotted worshipping the Lord Rudra with other devotees.

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