Yesterday, I started by writing about the various reasons students have been given by various teachers for rolling to the right after Savasana.
(For the readers who don’t practice yoga, if there are any of you, Savasana is when we lie down at the end of class and pretend to be dead. It's all totally normal and not weird at all. Consider yourself up to speed.)
So, I started with rolling to the right but it was a leaping off point. It was a segue into an argument that the meanings of things are not absolute, and that the creation of meaning is a participatory experience. Apparently I was making an argument against teleology. Who knew?
Rolling to the right was a perfect introduction, and I'd meant to circle back, all sneaky like, and tie a pretty bow around the whole post by ending up back where I'd started, and explaining what rolling to the right means to me.
I ran out of time. I've got people to see, places to go, and facebook statuses to update, etc. Anyway, it's none of your business.
So, when you asked me for my opinion on it, you sort of busted me but, nonetheless, thanks for your interest. I'm tickled pink and flattery will get you everywhere. Pardon me for a moment while I preen and try to restrain myself from making use of further cliches.
Okay, I'm back now. I can't make any guarantees about the cliches, though.
I don't actually have all that much more to say about pradakshina qua pradakshina. I can tell you this much: dakshina means south, or right. Pradakshina is right facing, or to the right. Basically, it's a protocol to follow in a temple, where one form of worship is to walk in a circle around the temple's sanctum, which is called circumambulation. If you were standing in front of the deity, you would walk to your left, which means you'd be going in a clockwise direction. That keeps the deity in the sanctum on your right hand side.
I'm going out on a limb here, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that if we were to trace the tradition back far enough it can probably be explained in some way by the movement of some heavenly body or other across the sky, probably the sun. Then again, what do I know? I'm a mere forty watt bulb.
(Oh, DOUG-las, with your brilliance like ten thousand suns, we know that YOU know all about it. Should you happen to read this, illuminate us, won't you? Pretty please with sugar on top?)
Then there’s this: in India, the right hand is used for eating, and drinking, and handling money and for almost everything else you do. The left hand is reserved for, um, other purposes. It's entirely taboo to use your left hand for anything other than washing your suitcase, and yes, by suitcase I mean ass.
It sort of makes sense that in this culture you would keep the deity on your right hand side, right?
When I was in India for the first time, like a complete ignoramus I accidentally tossed a few rupees down onto the priest's donation plate with my left hand. Too late, I saw him watching my hand but, in that slow motion red-wine-spilling-on-the-white-carpet kind of way, by the time I realized what I'd done the money was already down on the plate.
It wasn't just any temple, either. It was Cidambaram. Ugh.
I was so horrified that I gasped, and then stood there, frozen, undoubtedly looking as miserable as I felt. Fortunately, the priest just laughed with his eyes, bobbled his head from side to side, and moved on. I was ashamed enough to want to cry. Okay, I might have cried just a little. It may sound silly but it was the very last place on earth I wanted to be disrespectful, and I can be far more surprisingly and disgustingly earnest than you might imagine. Don't tell anyone.
Anyway, pradakshina is the reason I give when students ask why they’re supposed to roll to the right. It’s the reason I was given myself, and I guess you could say it’s the official party line but it doesn’t entirely explain why I roll to the right myself, almost every time without fail, although if I'm extra recalcitrant I may roll to the left for the sheer rebellious fuck of it. (It's the little things.) There’s more to it than merely pradakshina for me but I’m afraid I’ve run out of time again, so it will have to keep until next time.
To be continued.