10 November 2011/day 5 of Panauti somayajña.
“O thou who seest all things, Sovran as thou art and passing strong, thy rays encompass all abodes.
Pervading with thy natural powers thou flowest on, and as the whole world’s Lord, O Soma, thou art King.
The beams of Pavāmana, sent from earth and heaven, his ensigns who is ever steadfast, travel round.”
This morning, I am stepping on the earth more carefully than before; I take the Nepali tilaka with a careful hand, moving slowly to impress every moment with significance. It’s the last full day of rituals here, and I do not know if I will be blessed to witness this rite again.
I pull off my heavy sandals and duck inside, hoping to slip into the shelter’s peace unnoticed. A few children run past me, skipping a circle on the mats and then looking back at me giggling. People have already started to gather, and a lady makes a circling gesture, her and her companions’ faces asking an untranslated question. I nod. Today will be more parikrama indeed, to offer devotions into this living temple while it still stands.
I realise that I have not visited Indreshwar temple, and may not, because I don’t want to leave these potent fires to step on cold, ancient stone.
A few volunteers sweep yesterday’s dust from the carpets and mats as I set down my bag and jacket and prepare to walk. Two-and-a-half sides of the rectangular ground are covered; the remaining one-and-a-half sides are bare dirt with pebbles, sharp rocks, hay blades. My feet are already sore and torn. But I take heart; there is no need to rush on this calm, cool early morning, and I recall Śrī Ramana Mahaṛṣi’s instruction on parikrama:
“One should go round either in mouna (silence) or dhyana (meditation) or japa (repetition of Lord’s name) or sankeertana (bhajan) and thereby think of God all the time. One should walk slowly like a woman who is in the ninth month of pregnancy.”
Silent japa seems to echo and vibrate within the body, and I am already restless; walking slowly does not come naturally to me. But I move, my heart attentive to the centre fires, and a dreamy peace descends.