Thursday, August 1, 2013

MANTRAS AND HYMNS FOR TEMPLE AND HOME WORSHIP OF HINDU DEITIES


MANTRAS AND HYMNS FOR TEMPLE AND HOME WORSHIP  OF HINDU DEITIES
 August 2013

(I-DISCOURSE BY N.R.SRINIVASAN, BRENTWOOD, TN, USA)


This discourse contains some additional  Vedic Mantras and Hymns periodically or occasionally used by Hindu Temple  priests drawn from different Agama and Taantric schools  besides  those mentioned in the discourse “Sixteen-steps Worship of the Deity at Vishnu Temples and at Home” in the Hindu Reflections. In addition it contains mantras and hymns that could be used for effective Brahmoepaasana (Meditation on Brahman) within the saastric (scriptural) injunction, being from Vedas. The earlier discourse details standard pattern followed in sixteen steps worship in Hindu Temples, resorting to    invoking Vishwaksena and Purushasooktam used customarily during Abhishekam in all Vishnu Temples.   The only difference in worship in other temples is that in Saivite temples  Rudram and Chamakam are employed in place of Purushasooktam while in   Devi Temples Sreesooktam or Durgaa Saptasatee are employed while  doing  Abhishekam (sacred bathing ceremony).  They also invoke  Ganesha instead of Vishwaksena.  It may be of interest to note that Aachamana (purification of lips by water) mantra is common to all worships though the names chanted are Achyutaaya Namah,  Anantaaya Namah, Goevinddaaya Namah,  all being popular names of Vishnu; similarly Gaayatree mantra  is addressed  to Savitar, Lord Soorya a Vyaahriti (aggregate) of Brahman. Worship in Hindu Temples largely   depends on the   family back-ground and the training the priest has received .  An attempt has been made in this discourse to collect   some of these variations found in practice to the extent possible, while including some Mantras and Slokas directed to Supreme Principle which will not contradict Saastric procedures and practices currently in vogue; on the other hand they contribute further taking the devotee to greater spiritual heights. Hindu Temples are so numerous, spread all over the country and traditions are so varied it is impossible to collect all such information all at one time. What remains intriguing is the same sacred mantras are used on human spiritual visionaries of modern days ( Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhava, Raghavendra, Saibaba, Swami Narayan, Aandal etc.) for whom temples are springing up every day and to the deities  of imagination of political visionaries, like Bharatmata  in Hrishikesh! How Saastric injunction apply here is for religious authorities to tell? Soon there may be temples for Ravidas, Amritaamayi, Kariunaamayi and others too! Could we be wiser turning inwards and be thinking of Spiritual evolution concentrating on the One Supreme Principle (Tadekam)? All Vedic mantras and Geeta Preaching   lead us towards the same ultimately!

Mantra chanted during Abhishekam with Milk:
Apyaayasva sametute viswatas-soma vrishniyam bhavaa vaajasya sangathe |
Oh l Lord Soma! May you prosper!  Make us prosperous by all means! May your mercy be upon us! Please provide us food!

Mantra chanted during Abhishekam with Curds:
Dadhikraa vannoe akaarisham jishnoerasvasya vajinah | surabhinoe mukhaa karat prana aayoo(gam) shi taarishat ||

I pray to the Supreme Principle who is prosperous, omnipresent, deeply interested in taking care of his devotees with his presence all over the universe.

Dadhi-krā is the name of a divine horse, personification of the morning Sun, addressed in the Rigveda, hymns RV 4.38-40, RV 7.44, RV 3.20, RV 10.101. He is invoked in the morning along with Agni, Ushas and the Asvins. Although the etymological origin is not certain, it has been suggested that the name is derived from dadhi meaning thickened milk and kri meaning to scatter. This could alluded to the effect of the morning sun on dew or hoar frost.

[It is customary to pour yogurt as oblation to fire. Therefore Agni (Fire God) is known as dadhikrava. So Agni, an aggregate (vyaahriti) of Brahman the invisible source of all visible lights, is symbolically worshiped.]



Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with Melted Butter (ghee):
Sukramaci jyotiraci tejoeci devoevas-savitoet-punaatu acchidrena pavitrena vasoes sooryasya rasmibhih|

May the Lord pure, brilliant, ever-glowing purify us with his sun’s rays and Vasu deities!

Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with Honey:
Madhuvaataa ritaayate madhuksharanti sindhavah | maadhveernah santva oshadheeh | madhunakta mutoeshaci madhumat paarthiva(ga)m rajah  | madhu dyaurastu nah pitaa | madhmaannoe vanaspatir-madhumaa(ga)m astu sooryah | madhveergaavoe bhavantu nah||
(Trisuparna mantra)
May (breeze) seasons be pleasant to us! May rivers flow with honey! May plants and herbs be sweet towards us! May nights and mornings be pleasant! May dust from the Earth be soothing! May the heaven that is my father, plant kingdom and the Sun be sweet like honey towards us! May the cow be sweet like honery  to us (yield plentiful of   sweet milk)!


Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with Sugar:

Swaaduh pavasya divyaaya janmane | svaadurindraaya suhaveetu naamne | svaadurmitraaya varunaaya | vaayave brihaspataye madhu maam adaabhyah ||

Oh Lord Soma! May you flow for the divines! May you flow sweet for Lord Indra who is our most favored guest! May you who are so sweet and so harmless free-flow for deities Mitra, Varuna, Vaayu and Brihaspati!

Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with tender Coconut-water
Yah phalineeryaa aaphalaa aapushpaa yaascha-pushtineeh | brihaspati prasootaastaanoe munchatva(ga)mhasah ||

That which is born from Brihaspati, that which is endowed with fruits or without fruits, that which is with flowers or without flowers may all those remove all our sins!

Mantras chanted during Abhishekam while applying sandal paste:


Gandhadwaaraam duraadharshaam nitya pushtaam kareeshineem | eesvaree(ga)m sarva-bhootaanaam tvaam-ihoepahvaye Sriyaam ||

I invoke Mahaalakshmi who is the cause and sustainer of everything in this world—She who is formidable and whom no one can oppose: she who is full of nourishment all the time; she who is responsible for all things (like compost manure of cow dung)   needed for the plant-kingdom; she who is responsible for the bestowal of cattle wealth, and who is the abode for essential oil materials.

[This mantra which actually glorifies Mother Earth as the Mother of all mothers is suitably adapted as applicable to the consort of Vishnu, Mahaalakshmi.  Gandhadvaaram means one who is recognized by her natural smell of soil mixed with natural manure of cow dung. Due to excessive use of chemicals for rising crops quickly, agricultural lands now-a-days smell of nauseating chemicals.]

Mantra chanted during Abhishekam while waving the smoke arising out of incenses:
Dhooraci dhoorva, dhoorvam tam dhoorvatam | yoe asmaan dhoorvati tandoorvayam vayam dhoorvaama stvam devaanaamaaci

Oh God of Fire! You are the destroyer (of our sins). Annihilate those devil elements that stand in our way   of offering oblations to the Supreme! Let us also eliminate them.

MANTRAS CHANTED WHILE OFFERING FOOD TO THE LORD CALLED NAIVEDYAM: PRAANAAHUTI-MANTRAAH: BHUKTAANNA-ABHIMANTRANA-MANTRAAH (MEALTIME PRAYERS, CONCLUDING PRAYERS/PRAYERS FOR OFFERING FOOD TO DEITIES)

Veda’s glorify the Supreme Principle as “Soegrabhuk” meaning Lord is the first consumer of food. Since God is treated as honored guest during Shoedasa Upachara (16 ways of entertaining) he is also offered food with vedic mantras.  The food after offering to God thus ceremoniously is then consumed by the devotees as Prasaadam or the food graced by the Lord.

"Nivedana" does not men making the Lord really eat what is offered. He does not have to eat. Worship (Poojaa) is meant to make us inwardly pure and the Lord does not have to gain anything from it. "Nivedyaami"  means "I am making it known to you (informing you)" and does not mean "I am feeding you". You must speak thus to  Isvara: "Oh Lord, in your compassion you have given us this food". Then you must consume  the food thus offered, thinking of him.

The following Mantra is chanted while sipping water before taking food. Vishnupurana says liquid substance should be taken at the beginning and at the end of taking food and solid food should be taken in between.

Food is offered to the Lord inviting him to the dining seat (plank on which to sit) Bhojyaasaanam Samarpayaami

Mrishtamedya sthiraannaani bakshya bhoejyaannanekasah | sampannani Jagannatha Bhojyaasanamupaasraya”

Let me invite you Oh Lord of the Universe to the dining seat and offer you a variety of nutritious  and delicious food. Pleas yourself gracing the occasion! The food is sprinkled with water chanting Gayatree Manta Om bhoorbhuvassuvah. Then ringing the bell the following mantras are repeated.

Om Praanaaya Swaahaa| Apaanayaswaahaa | Vyaanaaya swaahaa | Udaanaya swaahaa| Samaanaaya  swaahaa Ii Brahmani maa amritatvaayaa ||

These are my offerings to the Five Vital forces of Life on behalf of the Lord--Praana,   Apaamna, Vyaana,  Udaana and Samaana.

Here it is also customary to repeat the mantra; “Madhuvaataa ritaayate……..bhavntu nah” as chanted while doing Abhishekam with Honey described above.

This is the concluding Prayer as the Lord has finished his meals;
Amritoepastaranamaci  |  (Hay amrita! Tvam upastaranamaci!)

Thou art the sheet spread out (upastarana) for the food (amrita) to be consumed.

[This mantra is addressed to the food. One who consumes the food addresses to food as Nectar (amrita), that is the water taken in his hand and then sips the water after chanting the mantra. This mantra is also called aaposana mantra since water is consumed first. At first this mantra should be chanted before taking food by all. Anna is identified with Brahman symbolically]

Amritoe-pidhaanamci |--You are the cover of the form of nectar. (Please wrap around the food consumed with nectar. [This is the concluding mantra Uttaraaposana. This is also concluded by sipping water.]

AARATI (WAVING OF THE LAMP) MANTRAS

Na tatra sooryoe bhaati na Chandra taarakam nemaa  vidyutoe bhaanti kutoeyamagnih |
Tameva bhaantamanubhaati sarvam tasya bhaasaa sarvamidam vibhaati ||

There the Sun does not shine; neither the moon nor the stars; nor do flashes of lightening shine. How (then) can this little fire? All these shine after Him only, who is ever shining. With His light all these shine.

Uddeepyasva jaatavedoe apaghnan nirritim mama | pasoo(ga)mscha mahyamaavaha jeevanamscha disoe dasaa||

Oh Omniscient Lord! Destroying my sins shine brilliantly! Bring me cattle that are useful for your worship. Bring to me from all the ten directions food and others essential for my livelihood.


Maanoe hi(ga)mseej-jaatavedo gaamasvam purusham jagat |abibhradagna aagahi sriyaa maa paripaataya ||

Lord, the Omniscient! Pray do not slay the world of cattle, horse and men that belong to us! Without bearing the terrible form, Oh Fire God (Agni), Come to us! Associate us with wealth!


SARVAATMAKA BRAHMOEPAASANA (UNIVERSAL PRAYER TO BRAHMAN)

Om antscharati bhooteshu guhaayaam viswamoortishu | tvam yajnastvam vishnustvam vashatkaarastva(ga)m rudrastvam brahmaa tvam prajaapatih  ||

Thou who art called by the name Om, move within the spiritual heart of all living beings as their inner controller.  Thou art the Yajna (sacrifice), Vasshatkara (mantras used in sacrifice), Rudra, Brahma and Prajaapati.

Om tad brahma |Om tad vaayuh | Om tadaatma |Om tat satyam | Om tat sarvam | Om tat puroernamh || 

Om is that Brahman. Om is Vaayu. Om is Self. Om is Truth. Om is all that. Om is that primeval cause that existed before creation. So is our obeisance to that Pranava (Om).

Yad vedaadau svara proektoe vedaante cha pratishthitah | tasya prakritileenasya yah parassa mahesvarah ||

The Pranava (AUM) is ordained to be recited at the beginning of the Vedas and also at the end of it.  He is the Supreme Being who transcends the syllable AUM.  He that is denoted by A of this AUM is the Great Lord.




MRITUNJAYA MANTRA (PRAYER TO CONQUER DEATH)

Traymbakam yajaamahe suganndhim pushtivardhanam | urvaarukamiva mrityoer moekshyeeya mamrutaat ||

We sing Thy (Supreme Principle) praise, thou art being the cause and sustainer of Creation, Preservation and Destruction (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) and as Primordial Energies in the form of Knowledge, Wealth and Happiness (Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Gowri). We are praying for the life rejuvenating nectar to get out of death inflicting diseases as well as the cycle of rebirth and death as the melon gets released from the creeper when mature.  [This interpretation of the Mantra is universal in appeal to Supreme Principle while the conventional meaning addresses to personal deity of Siva glorified in Puraanas.]

PANCHA-BRAHMA MANTRAS

[Many of the Mantras contained in Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad  (MNU) are chanted by Vaishanvites, Saivites and Sakta followers while worshipping their favorite deities.  It looks as though later some of these Mantras have been adopted by Saivites and glorified as being exclusive to Lord Siva or Lord of Paarvati even though they are found in this Upanishad which is devoted to Lord Narayana, who is Paramatman as per Ramanuja drawing support from Svetaavataroepanishad. Some of these are Sivoepaasana Mantras, Tvarita Rudram, Panchabrahma Upaasanam and Durgasooktam.]
   
The following five Mantras are interpreted by commentators as belonging to Lord Rudra. The five epithets Sadyojata, Vaamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Easaana  dierect  us to the five faces (Panchaanana) of Lord Siva as well as five faces of Lord Narasimha of Puranas. These prayer sare introduce after Medhaasooktam in MNU, as Medha (Jnaana or Intellect) is to be obtained from Rudra. Selective use of these Mantras for Siva is a later development when fight started between Vaishnavites and Saivites.

These five mantras are called by the name Panchabrahma and so it is appropriate to relate them with Brahman. Sadyoejaata (instant born) is also appropriate to Lord Narasimha who came out of the pillar when Prahlaada prayed. We all know the birth of Lingodbhava Moorti. It is also interesting to note Lord Narasimha is also worshipped in five forms of elements (Pancha Mahaabhootas) as Siva in five famous temples in South India about which we have talked about many a times. These are: Prithvee Narasimha (Earth); Vaayu Narasimha (Air); Aaakaasa Narasimha(Sky), Jwaalaa Narasimha(Agni); and Amrita Narasimha ( Amrita symbolizes liquid Water). Like Isvara is glorified as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, Narasimha is also glorified as Brhama Narasimha, Vishnu Narasimha and Rudra Narasimha. He is also worshipped as Ghora Narasimha (Siva is also meditated upon as Ghora, Aghora and Ghoraa-ghora. In Bhuvanesvar in Orissa in India there are sanctums for Siva and Narasimha side by side and worship is carried out for Salagrama and Linga together.  In Puri worship is carried out to Soorya and Narasimha along with Jagannath.  There is sanctum for Narasimha there also. It is believed that Vaishnavites replaced Siva with Narasimha later. Thus one school of thought believes Narasimha and Siva are the same both being Vyaahritis of Parabrahman)

Sadyoejaatam prapadyaami sadyoejaataaya vai namah |
Bhavebhave naatibhave bhajasva maam bhavoed-bhavaaya namah ||

I surrender unto the Lord who was born at the very moment of His will. Obeisance to that lord who was born at his will instantaneously. May I not have repeated births, Please bless me!  My obeisance are to him, from whom all effects emerge (for He is the cause).

Vaamadevaaya namoe jyeshthaaya namoe rudraaya namah |
Kaalaaya namah kala-vikaranaaya namoe bala-vikaranaaya namoe
bala-pramathanaaya namas-sarvabhoota-damanaaya namoe manoenmanaaya namah ||

Obeisance to Vaamadeva, the auspicious One; obeisance to the eldest; obeisance to Rudra, who drives away the disease of Samsaara (worldly miseries); obeisance to the destroyer; obeisance to One who is the cause of Time (divisions of moment, good and bad times); obeisance to the One who subdues all living beings; obeisance to One who is the agitator of the mind.

[All the attributes here refer to the Supreme Brahman. They equally apply to Siva and Narasimha the manifested forms of Brahman. Supreme Brahman is the overlord of this universe and is the ruler of all. He punishes the wicked ruthlessly. He saves his devotees from repeated births. None is equal to Him. Both Vishnu and Siva were instantly born in terrific forms as man-lion and column of fire. Rudra means one who protects you from crying (rutaat traayate)]

Aghoerebhyoe-atha ghoerebhyoe ghoera-ghoeratarebhyas-sarvatas-sarva sarvebhyoe namaste astu rudra-roopebhyah ||

Oh Paramaatman! Obeisance unto the auspicious forms of yours, that are not terrible, or terrible or terribly terrible. Obeisance to you who has numerous forms that bestows good. (The Lord    embodies all characteristics—good and terrible.)

Tatpurushaaya vidmahe Mahaadevaaya dheemahi tannoe rudrah prachoedayaat ||

We meditate upon that Purusha who is Naraayana. For that we meditate on Mahadeva (g Great Lord). May the Lord Rudra fulfill by invigorating us! [In Mahaanaarayana Upanishad Purusha is referred to as Naaraayana or Supreme Brahman or Paramaatman]

Easaanas-sarva-vidyaanaam-eesvaras-sarva-bhootaanam-brahma-adhipatir-brahmanoe-adhipati-brahmaa sivoe may astu sadaasivom ||

The Lord of all branches of knowledge, the Lord of all animate beings, the Supreme master of the Vedas, the Lord of Brahma the four-faced, the one who has Brahma as his body, the one who is ever free from anything defiling, the one whose name is Pranava, OM, may that Lord be one who bestows all good things on me! [Sadaasiva means ever auspicious]

Charanam pavitram vitatam puraanam yena pootas-tarati dushkritaani | tena pavitrena suddhena pootaa ati paapmaanam-araaati tarema ||

He who is rendered holy by the ancient, widespread, sanctifying feet (of Trivikrama glorified in Vedas) crosses over evil deeds and their effects. Having been rendered holy by those naturally pure, as well as purifying feet of the Lord may we overcome our enemies, the sins!  [Worshiping symbolically Lord’s feet (Paada pooja) is very important in Srivaishnava worship, of Lord Vishnu. If you closely observe 16-steps worship (shoedasa upachaara Pooja) starts with touching the feet  of the Lord and asking for his pardon for any omission or commission in the act of worship of the Lord to start with. Srivaishnavas think that in the act of worship by 16 steps, they unknowingly commit as many as twice the sins, that are 32 sins, hence plead for the pardon in the beginning].

NARAYANOEPANISHAD
Om-ityagre vyaaharet | nama iti paschaat | naraayana ityuparishtaat | omityekaaksharam | nama iti dwe akshare | Narayanaayeti panchaaksharaani | etadwai naaraayanasya-ashtaaksharam padam | yoe ha vai  naaraayanasya-ashtaaksharam
padamadhyeti | anapabruvassarvamaayureti vindate praajaapatyam raayaspoesham gaupatyamn tatoeamritatvam asnute tatoe amritatvamasnuta iti | ya evam veda | ityupanishat ||

One should utter OM (Pranava) first and then should utter the term Namah (obeisance). Later he should pronounce the holy word Naaraayana. Pranava is one letter. Namah has two letters. Naaraayana is the five lettered word. This is verily the Ashtaaksharee Mantra—the eight lettered word signifying Naaraayana.  He who meditates upon the holy Ashtaakshara of Naaraayana will enjoy full life without any hindrance. He will attain progeny and plenty of wealth and lordship over cattle and in the end he attains Immortality.  He certainly attains afterwards Immortality! This is the declaration of Veda! This is the assertion of Upanishads!

SHAANTI PAATHAAS
Priests employ Shaanti Mantras of their choice from Upanishads in Lord’s worship. The most popular Shaanti  Mantra  from Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad (asatoe maa sadgamaya) is used in the main body of 16-steps Pooja Vidhaanam (worship procedure) detailed in the previous discourse.  For other Shanti mantras please refer to the discourse on “Upanishads and Shaanti Paathas” from Hindu Reflections on the blog-site.

Dyauh saantih antariksham saantih prithavee saantih aapah saantih |vanaspatayah saantih visvedevaah saantih brahma saantih sarvam saantih saantireva saantih saa maa saantiredhi

There is peace in the heavenly region; there is peace in the atmosphere; peace reigns on the earth; there is coolness in the water; the medicinal herbs are effective healing; the plants are contributing to peace (environmental balance and peace); there is harmony in the celestial objects and perfection in eternal knowledge; everything in the universe is peaceful; peace pervades everywhere. May that peace come to me! May there be peace from cosmic disturbances! May there be peace from environmental disturbances! May there be peace from inner disturbances!

MANTRAS RECITED AT THE CONCLUSION OF WORSHIP
Swasti prajaabhyaah paripaaalayantam | nyaayena maargena mahim maheeshaaha | pasu-sujanebhyah subhamastu nityam | loekah samasthaah sukhinoe bhavantu ||

May there be wholeness and happiness for all beings! May rulers of all countries rule with justice! May there be welfare of animals and good cultured all the time!   May all living beings be happy and contentment!

[American Hindus are struggling hard in translating original version of Gobrahamnebhyah=cow and Brahmins in the above sloka to avoid criticism.  This has been translated as animals and men of wisdom. “Pasu” meaning animal is a better word as “Go” is   a feminine word in Sanskrit means cow. This is not a Vedic Mantra and therefore can be suitably substituted by the compound word Pasusujanebhyah=good animals and good citizens.  This will not unnecessarily expose the class ridden Hindu society and those cow (as Gomaataa) worshipers to criticism   which often comes from other cultures. It is also pleasing to all animal lovers though  majority are meat lovers too who  do not mind reckless merci-killing  of animals for food!]

Kaale varshatu parjanyah prithavee saasya-saalinee | Desoeyam kshoebha-rahitah | braahmanaah santu nirbhayah ||

May the rains come at right times (monsoons be regular)!  May the crop bearing land be fertile! |May the country where I live, be free from famine! May the thinkers of Brahman (Vedic scholars) pursue their path undisturbed and without fear!

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah |sarve santu niramayaah | sarve bhadraani pasyantu |maa kaschit dukhinah bhavet ||

May all beings be happy! May all beings be free of disease! May all people learn to see good things in life and in others as well! May none suffer!

Viswaani deva savitar-duritaani paraasuva | yad bhadram tanma aasuva ||

Oh! Resplendent Lord Sivitar! Thou art the cause of this universe! Do destroy all our sins! Grant us that which is ultimately good for us (for we do not know what is really good for us)!

Vidhataaram havaamahe vasoeh kuvidvaanaati nah | savitaaram nrichkshasam ||

We hail the Creator of the universe who sustains the creation in many ways and who witnesses the thought and deeds of human beings! May the Creator grant us plenty of excellent wealth!

Mayi medhaam mayi prajaam mayyagnih tejoe dadhaatu |
Mayi medhaam mayi prjaam mayeendra indriyam dadhaatu |
Mayi medhaam mayi prajaam mayi sooryoe bhraajoe dadhaatu ||

May Agni render me intelligence, continuity of progeny and splendor born of Vedic study!  May Indra render in me intelligence, continuity of progeny and virility! May  Soorya render in me intelligence, continuity of progeny and prowess that strikes fear in the hearts of enemies!

[Here Agni, Indra and Soorya are vyahritis (aggrgates of Brahman. We rarely come across the word Brahman in Rigveda. Supreme pe rinciple is addressed as Indra, Varuna, Sooerya, Agni etc. often.   This prayer is from Taittareeya samhita. Brahman is entreated here for intelligence, progeny, virility and prowess.}



SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR HINDU  AMERICANS LIVING WITH OTHER CULTURES

Indian priest Rajan Zed opened the US Senate on July 12, 2007 with a Sanskrit prayer. Vedic hymns in Sanskrit were chanted at the kick-start of Commonwealth Games 2010 on 30 October 2009, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth.  On 6th September 2003, President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, addressing the Durban University students, said, “Sangachhdwam, Samvadadwam…,’ which calls upon humanity to be united to have a common speech and a common mind.

The complete verse is:  
Om sam gachchadhvam sam vadadhvam samvo manaamsi janatam  | Deva bhaagam yathaa  purve samjanaana upaasate ||

Om sam gachchadhvam sam vadadhvam - Let us come together, talk together
Sam vo manaamsi janatam - Let our minds be in harmony
Deva bhagam yatha purve - Let our prayer be Common
Samjanaana upaasate - Common be our end (Rigveda 10.191)

May we assemble and communicate with each other from the purity of our heart for the common welfare of society!  May our thoughts be integrated in pursuit of higher ideals!  May we become duty oriented like our wise ancestors and enjoy our assigned share of fortune.

Om Samano mantrah samitih samani samanam manah saha chittamesham | Samanam mantram  abhi mantraye vah samanena vo havishaa jishome || (Rigveda 10.192)

May our prayers be universal for love and peace around the Globe! May our thoughts and intentions move in accord and may we work in unison for the common ideals and goals! May  our devotional worship be alike, and may our offerings be one and the same!

Om Samani va akutih samana hridayaani vah Samanamastu vo mano yathaa vah susahasati

May our aspirations be in perfect harmony with each other! May our thinking be peaceful and synchronous and may we all prosper while keeping in mind the universal welfare and fraternity! May there be oneness in your resolutions, hearts and minds; May  the strength to live with mutual co-operation be firm in you all. (Rig Veda 10 - 194)  





SEEKING PARDON FOR ANY COMMISSION OR OMISSION

Kaayena vaachaa manasendriyairvaa buddhyaatmanaa vaa prakriteh svabhaavaat |karomi yaddyat sakalm parasmai naaraayaanaayeti samarpayaami ||

Whatever I have done physically, orally, mentally, prompted by my sense and physical organs or by the force of my habits I surrender all of them at the feet of the Lord Naaraayana seeking his pardon!

Yadksharpadabrhashtam maatraaheenantun cha yadbhavet |tatsarvam kshamyataam deva Naaraayana namostu te ||

Oh Lord Naraayana my obeisance unto you! Please forgive for any missing letters, or misuse of words including comma and period while offering my prayers to you!

Visarga bindu maatraani pada paadaaksharaani cha nyoonaani atiriktaani kshamasva purushoettama ||

Oh the Greatest of Great of the Manifest! Please forgive for any missing colon or dot symbol (visarga and bindu in Sanskrit), missing words or poetic steps (prosody) or letters,  inadvertent use of anything uncalled for and anything extravagant in my prayers unto you!

Ajnaanaadathavaa jnaanaat asubham yanmayaa kritam|
Kshantumarhaci tatsarvam dyaasyenacha grihaanamaam ||
Jnaanatoe ajnaanatoe vaapi vihitam yanmayaa subham |
tatsarvam poornamevaastu preetoebhava Janardhana ||
Om achyuta jagannaatha mantramoorte janaardhana |
Raksha maam pundareekaakshaa kshamasva purushoettama ||

Oh Lord! Whatever inauspicious things I have done with or without my knowledge please forgive them and accept me as your humble servant! Whatever good thathave happened with or without my knowledge please take them all to completion with your grace! Oh Achyuta, Jagannaatha, Embodiment of all mantras and Janaardhana, protect me; Oh lotus eyed Supreme forgive me for all my failures!


TEERTHAM/SATAARI/ PRASAADAM

It is customary to receive the sacred water used in the bathing ceremony, tulasi leaves and flowers used for the  worship of the Lord, Shataari (the crown with two foot prints) and Prasaadam blessed  food (token food offered to the Lord such as resins and nuts) before leaving the worship hall in Srivaishnava tradition. Usually in Siva temples devotees leave the hall after receiving Vibhooti (burnt ash of cow-dung) applied to the Lord. It is only then a strict religious Vaishnavite would eat his food. Shataari is a secular South Indian tradition not familiar to many.  This custom started from Srirangam Temple in South India closely associated with the famous Vaishnava Saint Raamaanuja.  Shataari is worn on the head to receive the blessings of Nammazhwar a Non-Brahmin saint who was Guru of orthodox Brahmin saint Raamaanuja. Raamaanuja is said to be the foot-rest of Nammaazhwar. Shatari according to some comes from Shat (six) ari  (enemies) which are kaama (passion), krodhaa (anger), moha (lust), lobha (miserliness), mada (vanity), maatsarya (jealousy).  Nammaazhwaar was nick named Shataari; probably he had bad temper before becoming a saint. We all know the story of Vaalmeeki and his previous life as a butcher.  One has to overcome these by surrendering them at the feet of the Lord. Shataari is a sacred crown in the shape of temple tower with two feet etched on it. As per Geetaa Lord is worshipped with water, fruit, leaf and flower. The devotee shares them after use on the Lord as his blessings.

It is a common sight in all Vishnu Temples to see sacred water is being distributed to devotees which they receive with reverence and consume chanting sacred hymns glorifying the Lord. The   priest offers the same to devotees chanting the customary hymns which they receive with reverence.  The hymns vary with the priests. Few customary hymns are given below quoted from Hindu scriptures. It is said in scriptures that the sacred water should be consumed three times first for purification of the body, the second for eradication of sins and the third for attaining Moksha (Liberation). Priests in their hurry offer this only once to devotees, probably thinking that it is too far away for them to realize the other two objectives. However they are careful as to not to wound the sentiments of very pious and religious people recognized by their dress and bear chest  bearing sacred mark of Vishnu called  Naamam! They offer them sacred water thrice chanting the following mantras;

Sareere jarjareebhoote, vyaadhigraste kalebare | Oushadhee Jahnavee toyam vaidyoe naraaayanoe Harih ||

[When the body gets week due to aging and diseases sacred water of Ganges alone is the only medicine and Lord Naaraayana is the lone doctor. (It is necessary to invoke Ganges into the waters by a set of mantras and rituals before employing it in the worship.)

Akaala mrityu haraanam sarvavyaadhi vinaasanam | vishnoeh paadoeedakam teertham sirasaa dhaarayaamy-aham ||

[I bear on my head the sacred washed water from the feet of Lord Vishnu to avoid premature death and to get relief from all diseases.]

Prathamam deha susddhim cha dwiteeyam paapanaasanam triteeyam moeksha siddhim cha vishnun paadoedakam subham||
 [The first sip of the sacred wash water of the feet of Lord Vishnu is for purification of the body, the second for washing off all sins and the third for attaining Moeksha (liberation)]

In Srivaishnava Tradition worship of Lord Vishnu’s feet takes priority over all others. One never misses to pray at the sanctum of Vishnupaada located in all Vishnu Temples. The Temple at Gaya of Vishnupaada is quite famous and considered most sacred.  This has also been explained in detail in other discourses.

Saranaagati, surrendering at the feet of the Lord is the final goal of every Srivaishnava to attain Libreration. The three goals for salvation are Kshamaapana (atonement for sins committed), Dhyaana (meditation on the Supreme) and Nyaasa, surrender at his feet, in that order in Vishishtaadvaita Philosophy.

Geeta says:

Sarvadharmaan parityajya maamekam saranam vraja|
Aham tvaam sarva paapebhyoe moechyishyaami maa suchah ||
Setting aside all acts of Dharma just completely surrender to my will with firm conviction and loving contemplation. I shall liberate you from all sins bound in Karma Karma.

GAYATREE MANTRAS

Gayatree mantra has an outstanding part to play in the worship of a particular deity with which it is connected. It is a holy formula cast into the mold of the first and foremost Gayatree  Mantra “Bhargo devasya dheemahi” which every religious Hindu knows. The word Gayatree denotes the stanza with 24 letters occurring in a particular pattern called Cchandas in Sanskrit Grammar.  The Supreme Reality, Paramaatman or Parabrahman to whom all our worships are directed through any deity is invoked through a Gayatree. A name and characteristic description of the object of worship, a longing on the part of the worshiper to comprehend that object of worship in contemplation, and a prayer to the deity worshiped for goading, guiding and holding one’s instrument of understanding so that one might attain the highest and best fruit of life constitutes the essence of worship called Bhaktimaarga. Every Gaayatree mantra presents them in the most luminous and concise manner with divine intonation.  Every Gaayatree has A Rishi or sage as its author, a meter or prosody and a deity to focus one’s attention for contemplation. Therefore Gayatree mantra of a deity forms part and parcel of worship. Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad contains some important Gayatree Mantras on popular deities. These can be found in the discourse “Gaayatree Mantras for Meditation on Chosen Deities (Ishthadevatas)” on the Blog Hindu Reflections: <nrsrini.blogspot.com>.

 MANTRAS AND DHYAANA SLOKAS

There also what are called   Beejaakshara mantras or seed letter Mantras for each deity found in scriptures modeled after the Ashtaaksharee for Naaraayana, Panchaksharee for Siva and Dwaadasaaksharee for Vasudeva etc. These are effectively used in 16-steps worship if a Gayatrree can’t be found for the chosen   deity.

In the absence of both, Dhyaanasloka (a hymn for Meditation) of a deity is resorted to in all worships.  These are also found in scriptures or Puraanas for the chosen deity.  

The mantras Om namoe Naaraayanaay (ashtaaksharee) is considered most sacred by Vaishnavites coming from Vedas and sacred scriptures. This is often initiated by a Guru (Aacharya) for effective meditation in special ceremonies like Prapatti. Similarly Saivites are inducted to the sacred mantra Namah Sivaaya (panchaaksharee) though they do not undergo Prapatti.



indu Rituals nad woe

REFERENCES:

1) Ananta Rangacharya N.S., Principle and Selections from Upanishads, Bengaluru, India.

2) Varadaraja Tirumale, Vedamaarga, Sri Lakshmi Hayagreeva Sevaa Trust, Bengaluru.

3) Anna, Vishnu Stotras, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.

4) Girish C Khosla, Agnihotram Havan Mantras, Arya Samaj, Michigan, USA.

5) Parthasarathy A, The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals, Vedanta Life Institute, Mumbai.

6) Ramananda Prasad, The Bhagavad Geeta, American Gita Society, Fremont, CA, USA.

7) Srinivasan N.R., Shoedasa Upachaara Poojaa Vidhaanam—Sixteen Steps Hindu Worship

    (Revised)