Well here it is, nearly a fortnight later and the itching of my healing brands give a constant reminder of what happened.
HH Swamiji said many profound things that day, one could only expect in such a momentous occasion. The one that sticks out for me was what he said in the very beginning. I do not speak telugu, but an older lady receiving the panchasamskarams with us motioned towards me and said something to Swamiji. Given the tone and the fact he said my name a couple of times I imagined that she asked why I was there. She didn't seem to be protesting, but you could tell the was concerned. After speaking with her Swamiji continued and addressed us all in English and said (I'm paraphrasing): That all of us, no matter what colour, caste, or origin of birth are all gods children and viewed equally by God as such. And he will accept anyone who comes to him.
He also spoke on "Hinduism". He explained, as we all know that Hinduism is a made up word with no real definition, and in the sense that it covers a group of people and area, this area is so small compared to the rest of the world. He said that today we are not Hindu's, but those who surrender to the feet of Vishnu and thus Sri Vaishnavas. So from now on, I will never refer to myself as a "Hindu" as I am not, I AM A SRI VAISHNAVA! The colour of my skin, my name and where I am from HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY JIVA as HH Swamiji states. When the body dies so does colour, nationality and name.
This leads me to my last reflection. During the naming section of the ceremony, I was thinking I was going to get some kick arse Vedic name attached to my Ramanuja Dasa form. Instead Swamiji said Jason is a good name, no need for us to change our names, the name we have came with the body, our parents named us this and there is no need for us to change it. So as you see, there is no reason for us westerners to only take as much of Indian culture than is necessary to uphold our sadhana.
Anyway, I'm now getting settled in to my new place and spiritual path and the last two weeks has been wonderful.
Lastly, I must thank my two Vadakalai friends who have sent me reading materials via email and given me the best support possible. Haresh especially has been my pillar and the person whom I can only thank so much for directing me towards the Sri Sampradaya. I also have a couple of light articles by him I will be reproducing here on my blog to help give more educational information and history as I progress.
Adiyen Ramanuja Dasa