SOME ASPECTS OF THE PROTOCOL OF THE PICTURE OF SHRI MATAJI
When I was staying in the first ashram of the UK in Finchley, at some point, I took down some pictures of Shri Mataji that were posted on the walls. Someone complained to Her and, as I visited Her in Her flat at Ashley Gardens, opposite Westminster cathedral, She asked me what had happened. I responded that Her pictures were put on revolving doors and on the side of a narrow corridor, there were too many of them, so we could not properly put our attention on them. Her pictures are not a decoration. She approved.
We need to remind ourselves that the pictures of Shri Mataji are a gateway through which the wind of the Holy Spirit can bless human beings. This reality is energizing, it is sacred. The depth of this understanding is not reflected when we put pictures of Shri Mataji on key holders, letterhead, distribution leaflets and other material that is bound to be thrown away. While she said we should not bother if ill intentioned people desecrate Her public posters with graffiti, it is their problem, not ours … ours is still the responsibility to handle Her image with the due sense of protocol.
Her image, with myriads of subtle variations and moods, is manifesting this Saundarya Lahari, this Ocean of Beauty celebrated by Adi Shankaracharya. The protocol of Her image is the expression of our deep understanding, gratitude and respect. Most yogis know how to handle the picture of their guru with love and respect so I will not elaborate on this. Yes, She loved flowers so much, so decorating the altar with fresh flowers is a simple but sure way to please Her. However I recently received queries on the following point.
If we have been given pictures of Shri Mataji that are on material to be disposed of, or damaged, or the picture is blurred, or any other reason we do not wish to keep it, please let us not put it in the waste bin and definitely let us not burn them! If the support material is biodegradable we can put it in the living water, such as a river, lake etc… where the vibrations will be absorbed. For instance if we have a large quantity we can chose to put it in a bag loaded with a stone, so that the material will sink. If the support of the photo is plastic and the picture cannot be removed from its support, better to bury it in the earth.
The choice of the picture is also important. Of course all pictures of Shri Mataji are of Shri Mataji but… She mentioned several times that one should not take indiscriminate pictures of Her and also that … sometimes, the not so good vibrations of the photographer, affect the result. For instance, some pictures have been taken towards the last part of the life of our Mother when She was visibly unwell.
Our Mother was unwell, I reckon, because She took upon Herself the tremendous tapasya that resulted also from accepting in Her spiritual Viratangana Body, a number of us, disciples of considerable spiritual mediocrity. But would She wish us to document this? I am simply not sure that circulating such pictures has been an expression of the discrimination She wished us to have. It is easy to check which picture to use because, this is the case when the right choice is directly certified: we feel the vibrations.