Shambhavi riffs about the different kinds of prostrations, their importance for practitioners and about Anandamayi Ma’s instructions for doing pranam. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi.
FIRST WORDS FROM THE PODCAST
Prostrations are what are called pranam in the tradition. A prostration can be anything from just doing this [bowing], to kneeling to full body prostrations where you lie flat on the ground with your head face down. This is done to a teacher or a statue sometimes. In India and Tibet, prostrations are done as tapas. Tapas means burning heat and it’s specifically the heat of burning karma.
Sometimes you’ll be on the road in India near some pilgrimage site, and you’ll see somebody with rags wrapped around their knees and elbows actually pranaming up a road, or around a site.
The most famous prostration site probably in all of Tibet and India is Mount Kailash. Mount Kailash is in eastern Tibet and there’s a pilgrimage route that goes around the base of the mountain. The Buddhists go in one direction and the Hindus go in the other, apparently. I don’t know which direction is which. I’ve never been there. A lot of people just walk around the base of the mountain but the real traditional thing to do is just pranam all the way around the base of the mountain, and it takes days to do this. It’s really quite a practice.
There was a yogini that I knew who was Tibetan, but she was a refugee, and she was living in Oregon. She had prostrated around Mount Kailash a hundred and something times. Not in one go, but… that’s pretty hard core.