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Mr Prasad solemnly paid obeisance to the spiritual master in faith of his humble temple.

A kalaish, a plate and bowl of copper, a lamp and a spoon.

I had seen many bright – even garish electric bulbs at temples, and wondered why the ghee lamp had never been modernized. In other homes I had seen wicks ghee ball bases, here the wicks were straight.

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“Electric too much tamas he explained. “Blinding … turns mind outside. Ghee lamp is flame of the soul – look inward.”

“Ghee only?”

Agni Puran say only oil or Ghee for puja fire. Ghee better, more sattvik.”

“Of course a poor person can use sesame oil” he added quickly.

My eyes betrayed the question why?

“Lamp leads to light and peace. We pray: “O Deity of lamp, you are of the form of Bramhan (the absolute truth). You are full of radiance. You never wither. Please bestow me health and good progeny and please fulfill my wishes.”

I had assumed that since India loves all things bovine, motivated by adoration of Krisna the divine cowherd, dairy would be preferred.

“Ghee diya enhance Raja particles four hours – oil only ½ an hour” he continued. “Ghee make subtle armour around person’s body superior quality.”

“Oil lamp imparts power to raja particles in the Pranamaya kosha  makes you restless. Ghee burns quicker but strengthens the sattva particles in both Pranamaya kosha and Manomaya Kosha. Persons jiva is happy, peaceful.”


He pointed to the centre of the flame. “The blue colour besides a ghee flame is bhav.


“Spiritual emotion. Ble sprit energy from ghee wick project chaianya as Tej tattva form.”

“ and Manomay, Pranmaya …..?”

“Manomaya Kosha is mental sheath, Pranmaya air, Vidnyanmaya Kosha is intellect sheath. You see your body – Annamaya Kosha food sheath. Energy comes in five vital airs in paranayama kosha. Anandamaya Kosha is bliss, place where soul exist.”

Mr Prasad seemed to grasp my sense of overwhelm explaining.

‘You know kundalini yog? The seven chakras, yes? …Oil lamp purify Uladhar and Swadhishthan Chakra only. Ghee purifies Manipur and Anahat chakras very much.”

“You know meditation calm mind, yes? Ghee makes soul energy but oil activates manashakti or mind energy.

Oil lamp is earth and water element. Ghee gives spiritual experience of Tej tattva or fire element and Vayu tattva  or air. Cow Ghee maximum satvik frequencies, gives luminous figures from fire element to clean atmosphere.

I explained I heard many Indians talk about the  spiritual experience of subtle energy.

“What do they mean? Festivals are very beautiful and colourful. Do you mean feelings?”

“Aahhh good question. We see world through senses. You know senses .. .see, touch …” I nodded. “when we experience something without seses that is spiritual experience – anubhuti.”

We feel touch but nothing touches us from air element. There is no flower but we experience gandha, a subtle enrgy from Prthvi tattva. Or maybe we experience sweet taste dwell in our mouth from Aap tattva.”

“Spiritual experience is without sense objects.”

I was immediately reminded of Tibetan Buddhist psychologies careful distinction of sense and non sense experiences. Of cognizers and sense cognizers.

Preparing for a Puja

“I have seen ball wicks in most homes , these are flat. Why?”

According to Mr Prasad, priests, while accommodating his hosts wishes, prefer a straight wick. The relatively new puffed base of the fulwat  spreads a reddish yellow flame of earth frequencies. Like oil, they generated an armour of Pruthvi, the absolute earth element and Aap tattva, or absolute water element, which he assured me caused heaviness to the physical body.

I remembered that kappha, the dosha of round fattish body type, is said to be of earth and water.

A straight wick, he assured me, the yellow flame attracted sattvik energies of slower frequencies giving the believer the more powerful armour of Tej tatva or fire.

Straight wicks, he said, bring detachment and cheerfulness to the mind.

He advised me to wash my hands if I accidently touch the lamp. Our raja reduces the lamps purity. Other worshippers I had formerly seen had shown no similar strictness.

I decided to politely observe from a distance.