(127) PUJA WITH FLOWERS
30th June, 1947
Recently a rich lady residing in Ramana Nagar was getting a basket of jasmine flowers from her garden everyday and giving them to all the married ladies in the hall. Bhagavan observed this for four or five days but said nothing. She did not discontinue that practice. One day she put the flower basket on the stool, bowed before Bhagavan and got up.
Bhagavan looking at someone nearby said, “Look! She has brought something. They are flowers perhaps. What for?” With some fear she said that they were not for Bhagavan but for the married ladies and began distributing them. “Oh! If that is so, they could as well be distributed at their houses.
Why here? If someone gives flowers thus, all others begin doing the same thing. Seeing that, people who come newly will think that flowers must be distributed and will buy and bring them. Then the trouble starts. I never touch flowers.
In some places, it is usual to present flower garlands. Hence, many people bring flowers. I have not allowed people to do puja to the feet or to the head. Why do we require such practices?” said Bhagavan.
With fear and trepidation she said, “No. I will not bring them any more.” Bhagavan said, “All right. That is good,” and looking at those still near him, went on as follows: “You know what happened at one of the Jayanthi celebrations? A devotee got a book by name Pushpanjali printed and said he would read it. When I said ‘Yes’, he stood a little behind and began reading. He appears to have had some flowers hidden in his lap. As the reading came to a close, bunches of flowers fell on my legs. On enquiry, it was found that it was his doing.
He did it thus because he knew I would not agree if he told me beforehand. What to do? Perhaps in his view it is no puja unless it is done like that.”
During the early days of my stay here, on a Varalakshmi Puja Day, one or two married ladies placed some flowers on Bhagavan’s feet, bowed before him and went away after seeking his permission for puja. Next year, all began doing the same thing. Bhagavan looked at them angrily and said, “There it is — one after another, all have started. Why this? This is a result of my keeping quiet instead of stopping it in the very beginning. Enough of this.”
Not only in regard to himself but even in regard to puja to the deities Bhagavan mildly rebukes devotees about using leaves and flowers. I have already written to you in one of my previous letters about the laksha patri puja (puja with one lakh of leaves) of Echamma.
There is another instance. During the days when Bhagavan used to go round the hill with devotees in stages, they camped one morning at Gowtama Ashram. After the men and women had cooked, eaten and rested, and were getting ready to go so as to reach the Ashram before sunset, a lady devotee by name Lakshmamma, who was born in Tiruchuli and was a childhood friend of Bhagavan and who used to talk to him familiarly, was plucking and putting in a basket the jasmine and tangedu flowers that had grown luxuriantly on the trees in and around the cremation ground there. Bhagavan noticed it and asked smilingly, “Lakshmamma, what are you doing?” She said, “I am plucking flowers.” “I see. Is that your job? It is all right but why so many flowers?” asked Bhagavan. “For puja,” she said. “Oh! It won’t be a puja unless you worship with so many flowers, is that it?” said Bhagavan. “I don’t know. These trees have abundance of flowers. So I am plucking them,” she said.
“I see. As in your opinion it will not be nice if there is a luxuriant growth of flowers, you are making them naked. You have seen the beauty of that growth and you do not like others to see it.
You have watered them and helped them in their growth, haven’t you? So you can take the liberty of plucking all the flowers and making them naked so that no one else can see that beauty. It is only then that you will get the full benefit of your puja, is it?” said Bhagavan.