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Pranam Satsang

Golden Mt. Kailash
Episode No. 109

Shambhavi describes the practice of pranama, or prostrations. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

First Words from Podcast

Prostrations are what are called pranams in this tradition. A pranam could be anything from just holding your palms together at the center of your chest, to kneeling and touching your head to the floor, to doing a full body prostration where you’re lying flat on the ground with your forehead on the floor. This is done to a teacher or even sometimes to a statue.

In India and Tibet, prostrations are done as what’s called tapas. Tapas means heat, and it’s specifically the heat of burning karma. Sometimes when you’re on the road in India near a pilgrimage site, you’ll see somebody with rags wrapped around their knees and elbows actually pranaming up a road or around a pilgrimage site.

Probably the most famous prostration site in all of Tibet and India is Mt. Kailash. Mt. Kailash is in Eastern Tibet, and there’s a pilgrimage route built around the base of the mountain. A lot of people just walk around the base of the mountain. The really traditional thing to do, though, is to pranam all the way around the base of the mountain. It takes days to do this, so it’s really quite a practice. I knew a Tibetan yogini who was living in Oregon, and she had prostrated around the Mt. Kailash a hundred and some times. That’s pretty hard core.

Anyway, Ma had a lot to say about pranaming. I’m bringing this up because it speaks to the heart of what we’re doing when we’re offering that kind of surrender, or gesture of surrender, to our teachers or just to wisdom itself. Sometimes I’ll look at somebody, and then they’ll look down. The truth of the matter is, if you look down when your teacher looks at you, you’re going to try to make someone else look down when you feel you’re better than them. The only way that you can really look at your teacher is recognizing that your teacher and you have equality.