SHOEDASA UPACHAARA POOJAA VIDHAANAM—16 STEPS HINDU WORSHIP (REVISED)
(DISCOURSE BY N.R. SRINIVASAN, AUGUST 2013)
The word Pooja (Poo+Jaa meaning worship) signifies the fulfillment of the prescribed rituals (Poo stands for poorayate sarva karmaani) and getting the knowledge of the divine (Jaa stands for jaayatay jnaanam aatmani). The several rituals that constitute the worship are called "upachaaras" or services. Pooja rituals are generally performed by an individual at home or conducted by an ordained priest at the temple on behalf of the devotees. Whether the pooja is performed at home or in a temple, the essential steps are the same. The basic pooja is called the Panchoepachaara Pooja, in which one makes a five fold offerings. A more elaborate pooja is called the Shoedasoepachaara pooja, a sixteen step pooja in which one additionally offers clothes, ornaments and similar other items we all enjoy. The most elaborate pooja is a sixty-four step pooja, where the offerings include music, dance, chariots, elephant and other similar items. Whatever one enjoys in life is offered to the Lord as an expression of love and gratitude. Shoedasoepachaara pooja is fashioned after the details of the customary reverence shown to an honored guest.
With a minor modification like introducing Srirudram or Chamakam (for Saivites) or Sreesooktam and Durgaasooktam (for Devi worship) in place of Purushsooktam thePoojaa vidhaanam (Worship ritual) can be adapted to suit the worship of other deities in the Panchayatana worship recommended by Sankaracharya who established for the first time six traditions (Shanmataa)--Visnhnu, Siva, Ganesha, Kumaara, Soorya and Devi. Surprisingly many mantras like Sankalpam, Aachamanam, Gayatree etc. are the same for all the deities. Aachamana mantras pay obeisance to Achyuta, Anantha and Govinda, all epithets of Vishnu but used by all six traditions, with different interpretations.
As a first step we should understand our current practices based on Aagamas and Tantras, understand the meanings of the mantras and hymns as used in worship, explore their deeper meanings and the spiritual message contained therein and then make suitable changes within the scope of Veda to suit our needs. The needs of Hindu Americans and their problems are different from those of Hindus in India who are in a majority but also claim secular as a Nation. We should keep to the discipline code of "Vedaah akhilam dharmama-moolam" meaning Vedas are the very foundation of Dharma and Bhagavadgeeta's discipline code "tasmaat Saastram pramaanam te"--Srutis (Vedas) are our guide when in doubt, for any such change called for. Fortunately those who live in USA are blessed to lead a life with religious freedom to worship the way they want, guaranteed by the constitution unlike in Arab countries where they have migrated; they are also not worried by problems such as interference from the government as in India which controls temple administration through so called autonomous bodies set up through its directive called Hindu Endowment Board for Religious Institutions. Temple management is also very sectarian in its approach in India. All Hindus have a necessary spiritual and moral obligation to practice Dharma to the benefit of all and to guide the country wherever they are settled spiritually, as responsible citizens with their rich heritage, culture and Wisdom of Vedas in the larger interest of promoting Spiritual Evolution, Universal Oneness and Peace on Earth. "Krinvantoe viswamaaryam" --Let us ennoble the whole world is the Vedic advice to all human beings. In addition to the steps already taken, with further thoughts and efforts we should be able to develop a common platform of worship for all traditions and also attract people from other faiths willingly. All religions aim at Universal Oneness in theory but employ coercive authoritative methods unlike Eternal Tradition (Sanatana Dharma) which is logical and based soundly on Upanishads. It should be at the same time remembered that Lord Krishna stresses on deep Bhakti alone and not on grandeur of mode of worship. He will be pleased with one leaf, one flower, one fruit and little water--Patram pushpam phalam toeyam yoe may bhaktyaa prayachchati.... Many say they do not find time for all these things. Worship need not be elaborate if you do not find time on your working days. Performing Abhishekam (bathing ceremony) with water chanting Ashtaaksharee Mantra for Saalagraama and Panchaaksharee Mantra for Linga is adequate enough if you are keen to follow the religious tradition, followed by offering food first to Lord with Praanaahuti Mantra. Food should be always consumed as Prasaadam, food blessed by the Lord. This will hardly take five to ten minutes. But sincere thought and true devotion behind it is important.
A supplementary discourse titled: "Mantras and Hymns for Temple and Home Worship" is prepared as supplementary to this discourse to include broader spectrum of Vedic Mantras and hymns with meanings, not generally in vogue but suitable for all traditions and appealing to self-converted Hindu neo-Swamijis (like that of Hare Krishna and other overseas temples) as well for consideration by priests in our temple worship overseas, but within the Saastric injunctions of Aaagama and Taantric Codes of Practice.
The sixteen services (upachaaras) rendered during the most common Shoedasoepachaara ritual are:
1. Seating (aasana); 2. Welcome (svaagata); 3. Offering to the deity water to wash the feet (paadya); 4. Offering to the deity water to wash the hands (arghya); 5. Offering water to sip and rinse the mouth (aachamana) 6. Providing a bath (snaana); 7. Offering to the deity fresh clothes and decorations (vaasana bhooshana); 8. Offering to the deity fresh sacred thread (yajnoepaveeta); 9. Offering to the deity sandal paste (gandha); 10. Offering to the deity flowers (pushpa); 11. Burning the incense (dhoopa); 12. Waving the light (deepa);13. Offer four kinds of food (naivedya); 14. Offering taamboola (betal leaves, areca nut, sweet camphor and spices; 15. obeisance (namaskara) along with circumambulations (pradakshina); 16. Send off (visarjana).
Before starting the pooja the following mantras are chanted:
Om Sri Visvakshenaaya namaha
Om Sri Gurubhyoe namaha
Om Sri Sarasawatyai namaha
Om Sri Kuladevataayai namaha
Om Sri Matrupitrubhyam namaha
In order to perform pooja without any obstacle, Lord Visvakshena is invoked and offered salutations (Saivites invoke Ganesha instead of Vishwaksena). Then the salutations go to Guru who is responsible for the knowledge imparted. In order to be free from defective pronunciation salutations are offered to goddess of learning, Saraswathi. Then pooja is started with a pure heart offering salutations to rishis, elders in the lineage.
Aachamyaha-Aachamana (sipping water) ritual:
Devotee should sip water with his right hand after pouring the water with the help of a spoon (uddharani) with his left hand from the copper vessel filled with water. After drinking water with your right hand touch the lips and then touch the head. This is repeated thrice. Each time before sipping the water the following mantras are chanted.
We are chanting the sacred names of the Lord who brings to us all good things in life. One who meditates on Him is indeed protected by Him. Therefore during aachamana ritual, we are thinking of the noble qualities of the Supreme as well as the good that it will bring to merge ourselves with the Supreme Principle of the World. During aachmana the water that we sip in, cleanses our inner self. We touch the lips. It means we are revitalizing the spot that is meant for the chanting. Then we are touching our head. It means we are energizing the body for meditation. Thus we are getting charged magnetically our whole system even before the commencement of pooja and awaken ourselves.
"Om Kesavaaya svaaha"—(sipping water with due reverence to Kesava).
The first salutation goes to Kesava, one who has brilliant hairs—“Hiranyagarbhaha kah proktha eesaha sankara eva cha; srishtyaadinaa vartayiti thou yataha Kesavoe bhavaan”. "Prasastaaha kesaaha santyasteti Kesavaha"- he is the instigator and governor of Brahma and Rudra, he is called Kesava. Hairs are on the head. Resolutions that are made come from the head. From Vedanta point of view erected hairs open up the good resolutions. Lord is the embodiment of auspicious and good resolutions. We should be therefore filled with good feelings and good actions while offering prayers to Kesava. We have to abandon all the bad feelings and actions at the feet of the Lord whom we are worshipping. It is only with this objective we offer the hair to the Lord at holy places like Tirupathi. So, the first among the mantras, Kesava mantra fills us with Bhakti.
The next mantra is “Om Naaraayanaaya svaaha”—(sipping water with due reverence to Naaraayana).
After cleansing the mouth, with lofty mind one has to seek refuge in Naaaayana. He is well known to protect his devotees who seek refuge in Him.
“Aapoe naaraa iti proektaaha aapoe vai narasoonavaha
Ayanam tasyataaha poorvam tena naaraayanaha smritaha”—
Lord Vishnu is called Nara. As he is without annihilation, water created by him is called Nara. Lord Vishnu who sleeps on the water of dissolution is called Naarayana.
Through Kesava we got body protection. Through Naaraayana we realize entry to his protection. Even though we see the entrance, it is not easy to enter into it. That is possible only with worship. That can be realized by chanting the name of Madhava.
"Om Maadhavaaya Namah"—(sipping the water with due reverence to Maadhava)
“Mounaat dhyaanat cha yogaat cha
Viddhi Bhaarata Maadhavam”
The one who can be attained by meditation, prayer and yoga is Maadhava, says Mahabharata. Therefore reciting the name of Maadhava we get the purification.
After having sipped water three times thus reciting three names, mantras can be recited with ease like flowing water.
Om Goevindaaya namah: Obeisance to Goevinda.
Goe means mother earth. Lord has been addressed as Goevinda because of his protecting the earth by eliminating all Raakshasas (demons) and He is the giver of deliverance. Through the name of Maadhava we heightened the purification. The name of Goevinda removes all obstacles and mishaps.
Om Vishnave namah:--Obeisance to Vishnu
Obeisance to Lord Vishnu, He is addressed so because of his all pervading nature. He is omnipresent. All impediments are removed by chanting the name of Goevinda. Essential inspiration is collected by chanting the name of Vishnu. The essentials are gathered together for pooja at various centers—body, sense organs and mind-intellect.
Om Madhusoodanaaya namah:--obeisance to Madhusoodana:
The Supreme became famous as Madhusoodana by killing the demon Madhu and as he bestows happiness on good people. My obeisance is to him who is so famous. The sweetest thing appealing to man is the arrogance. Madhusoodana is the one who can help in destroying that arrogance in man. With the help of Vishnu mantra one can attain the power for concentration of mind during pooja. Madhusoodana mantra eliminates any such ego during the time of worship.
Om Trivikramaaya Namah:--obeisance to Lord Trivikrama
Vedaan Kaalaan gunaan lokaan devaan maanusha daanavaan
Chetanaachetanaan misraan treenipaada vichakrame
Supreme is called “Trivikrama” as he pervades the three Vedas; three times (kaalaas); past, present and future; trigunaas (satva, rajas and tamas); trilokas, three kinds of living beings, and three kinds of substances. We had the seedling of Bhakti by three worlds, three kinds of living beings and three kinds of substances by uttering the name of Trivikrama. Madhsoodans mantra got rid of our ego. Trivkrama mantra purifies our three kinds of characteristics as he is the conqueror of three worlds.
Om Vaamanaaya Namah: --obeisance to Vaamana:
Lord Vaamana is depicted small in stature. So far, we purified our mind and got ready for pooja. But pooja needs Bhakti (devotion). In the beginning our devotion is only small, being the beginner student. With the development of inner consciousness, the spark of Bhakti, will assume gigantic proportions and turns into ‘jnaana’ supreme consciousness. Thus the Vaamana mantra gets the seed of Bhakti planted in our hearts.
Om Sreedharaaya namah: --obeisance to Sreedhara
The Supreme is addressed as “Sreedhara” as he adorns “Sri” in his heart. Sri signifies Goddess Lakshmi meaning the wealth of knowledge. He fulfills the desires of the devotees and throws the demons, which are enemies of deliverance, into the dark. We had the seedling of Bhakti through Vaamana mantra. Sreedhara mantra fixes Bhakti firmly in our heart.
Om Hrisheekesaaya namah:--obeisance to Hrisheekesa:
‘Hrisheekesas’ are sense organs. Lord is the governor of all senses and he grants bliss to Brahma, Rudra, Ramaa and others. The vessel may contain pure milk. But the dust from outside pollutes the milk. Similarly, pure Bhakti has been planted in our heart vessel by Sreedhara mantra. But this Bhakti can be agitated by influence from wandering sense organs. Hrissheekesa mantra protects us from such negative tendencies.
Om Padmanaabhaaya Namah:--obeisance to Padmanaabha:
The Supreme is called Padmanaabha because padma (lotus) is springing from his navel. Padma signifies intellect. The dangers created by sense organs are eliminated by Hrisheekesa mantra. Even though sense organs may not influence us standing in front, the past inner negative tendencies may influence any one of us. Even under these adverse situations, if noble thoughts descent on us, we may be freed from internal agitations. Padmanaabha mantra blesses us in all such situations by giving us inward intelligence.
Om Daamoedaraaya namah: --Obeisance to Daamodara:
Padmanaabha mantra develops in us inward glow and knowledge. One in whom inward light glows, everything is clear inwards. Such inward glow is given by Daamoedara mantra.
“Daamaani loekanaamani taani yasyoedaraantare”-- The Supreme is addressed as Daamoedara because he retains the entire world in his stomach; he has the rope around his belly tied by Yashodaa, he plays with the sages who have control over their senses; he gives happiness to generous people; he causes sorrow to demons and he plays with people who have compassion.
Om Sankarshanaaya namah:--obeisance to to Sankarshana:
Daamoedara mantra gives us inward light. Sankarshana mantra focuses the mind to look always inwards. Just as sun withdraws all its rays to himself, the Supreme during deluge takes all beings into himself and so he is called Sankarshana, the protector. He pulls the mind of his devotees from worldly things and gives them thought for renunciation. Sankarshana mantra is helpful in diverting all our actions inwards leading to Aatman.
Om Vaasudevaaya namah:--Obeisance to Vaasudeva:
“Vaasanaad vaasudevoesi vaasitam te jagatrayam
Sarvabhootani vaasosi vaasudeva namoestu te”
The Supreme is called Vaasudeva as he is the dwelling place of the three worlds, as he is omnipresent, omnipotent, oldest of all, fulfiller of all desires, giver of deliverance to worthy beings and as he is the son of Vaasudeva. “Vaasavat sarva bhootani”—the jeeva in all beings is Vaasudeva, says Mahaabhaarata. Therefore Vaasudeva mantra blesses us to see the Light of Aatman.
Om Pradyumnaaya namah:--obeisance to Pradyumna:
Pradyumna means one who is fabulously rich. The Supreme is called so because he has unequalled luster and fame. Vaasudeva mantra created in us the feeling of Aatman. This is active energy. Pradyumna mantra is the wealth of knowledge. Therefore this wealth of knowledge makes the active energy more evident to visualize the Self within us.
Om Aniruddhaaya namah:--obeisance to Aniruddha.
The Supreme is called Aniruddha being unconquerable by enemies. He is called so as He is unobstructable, omnipotent with all gunas, as he cannot be known by the ordinary mind as he can be tied only in the minds of enlightened by meditation and as he destroys them who behave contrary to the Vedas. Therefore, one who has no fear of enemies is not far from peace; he is far away from miseries. This is the beauty of Aaatman. Vaasudeva mantra presents the sentient with form, Pradyumna mantra presents the sentient without form and Aniruddha mantra presents the bliss and all the three together present Sat-Chit-Aananda, the Everlasting Truthful Bliss form of the Supreme, Sachchidaananda.
Sankarshana, Vaasudeva, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are known as Vyuhaavataaraas and should be recognized as such.
The four vyuhas (emanations) are primordial forms of Vishnu: 1. Gnosis (Jnaana) 2.Lordship (Aiswarya); 3. Potency (Sakti); 4. Valor (Veerya); 5. Energy (Bala); 6. Splendor (Tejas). All the six are in Vasudeva. Knowledge and energy are in Sankarshana (Jnaana and Bala). Lordship and valor are in Pradyumna (aisvarya and veerya). Potency and splendor are in Aniruddha (Sakti and tejas).
Om Purushoettamaaya Namah:--obeisance to Purushoettama:
Kshetra is decaying and is Kshara. Kshetrajna is undecaying and he is known as Akshara.
“Yasmaat ksharamateetoeham aksharaadapichoettamah
Athosmi loeke vede cha prathitaha purushoettamah”
All living beings with mortal bodies are ‘Ksharapurushas’. Beings like Mahaalakshmi, with immortal bodies are “Aksharapurushas”. As He is superior to these two categories, He is called Purushoettama. He is the one who brightens up both, Kshara and Akshara and Sat-Chit-Aaananda. Vaasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha mantra, each leads to Purushoettama, the Supreme. This mantra enables to attain advaitic state of Godhood. “Purushaannaparam kinchit”—there is nothing beyond Purushoettama say the Vedas and therefore the name of Purushoettama leads to advaita goal.
Om, Adhoekshajaaya namah:--obeisance to Adhoekshaja.
While Purushoettama mantra leads one to advaita (peerless) heights, Adhoekshaja mantra gives the steadfast intelligence that would hold on to the elevated heights without causing the downfall. “Adhoe naksheeyate jaanaamitvaam suroettamam”—Udyoegaparva of Mahaabhaarata describes the adhoekshajaa status as sthitaprajnya, steadfast intelligence (not declining). The Supreme is called Adhoekshaja as he is born to Vaasudeva, who has control on the senses, as he is the embodiment of knowledge, and as he is known by Hanuman who has killed Akshayakumara. That is why this mantra gives one steadfast intellectual ideal.
Om Naarasimhaaya Namah:--obeisance to Narsimha:
Narasimha mantra indicates all pervasiveness like Narasimha avataara with the perception of the Vedic saying “ayam aatma Brahma”—I am aatma, the Brahman”. The Supreme is called Narasimha as he is with the form of a man and lion, the strongest among living things.
Om, Achyutaaya namah:--obeisance to Achyuta.
The status bestowed by Narasimha mantra is nectarine—so reveals the Achyuta mantra. It reveals both ageless and eternal character of the soul. “Saasvatagam Sivamachyutam”. Naaraayanoepanishad declares Atman is eternal, auspicious and imperishable. This is the state of Paramaatman. The Supreme is called Achyuta as he is the manifestation of perfect knowledge and bliss, as he is full of perfect qualities and as he is of True Will.
Om Janaardhanaaya namah:--obeisance to Janaardhana.
The verb (aardhayati has two meanings in samskrit--1.To give happiness and 2) to give misery. He is called Janaardhana as he destroys the demons like Madhu, Kaitabha, Hayagreeva etc., who dwell in the ocean and cause trouble to gods, as he frees the souls from re-birth and gives liberation, as he is without birth, as he removes the worldly sufferings and as he can be attained by the virtuous beings. Achyuta mantra signifies the nature of Aatman. One who has realized aatman is blessed with happiness and one who has not realized is cursed with misery. The Supreme who is bestowing these upon us is addressed as Janaardhana. This leads us towards prosperity after one realizes the difference between prosperity and misery.
Om, Upendraaya namah:--obeisance to Upendra.
Indra is the lord of sense organs. Upa means nearness. Upendra therefore means one who is close to sense organs and responsible for their proper functioning. Sensual pleasures and senseless intelligence both destroy prosperity. Upendra mantra is very effective in these areas to eradicate such adverse tendencies. In puranas Vaamana is called Upendra as he has Indra as his brother.
Om, Sri Haraye namah:-- obeisance to Sri Hari.
Upendra mantra restores spiritual prosperity to the devotees that leads to salvation. The miseries of family entanglements are destroyed. This is the effect of Hari mantra. “Sa hetukam samsaaram harateti Harih”. Hari mantra is addressed to the Supreme as he is the one who eradicates completely miseries arising from worldly miseries arising from worldly pleasures and pains. When one is free from worldly miseries, he attains eternal bliss. The next mantra reveals that this is very essential and needed for happy living.
Om, Krishnaaya namah: obeisance to Lord Krishna.
‘Krish’ means that which will remain always. ‘na’ means happiness. That means Eternal Bliss. Therefore, the sacred Krishna mantra is the one that brings ever lasting happiness in our daily life. It is the great mantra that brings inward knowledge. The permanent nature of Krishna mantra is essential for the elevation of aatman.
Thus finishing the Aachamana while chanting the various names of the Supreme and cleansing lip with water, Praanaayaama, breath control should be followed, chanting Gaayatri mantra.
Gayatri Sara Sangraha identifies 24 letters of Gayatri with 24 deities presiding over the letters:
No. Gayatri Letter Abhimaana devata Name of Vishnu
1. Ta Agni Kesava
2. tsa Prajapati Narayana
3. vi Soma Maadh\
4. tu Eesaana Govinda
5. rva savitr Vishnu
6. re Brihaspati Madhsoodana
7. ni Paitr-deva Trivikrama
8. yam Bhaga Vaamana
9. bha Aaryama Sredhara
10. rgoe Savitr Hrisheekesa
11. day Tvashtr Padmanaabha
12. va Pushan Daamoedara
13. sya Indra Sankarshana
14. dhee Agni Vaasudeva
15. ma Vaayu Pradyumna
16. hi mitra-varuna Aniruddha
17. dhi Bhavatri deva Purushoettama
18. yoe Vasudeva Narasimha
19. yoe Vishnu Adhoekshaja
20. naha Vaasava Achyuta
21. pra Tushtaba Janaardhana
22. choe Kubera Upendra
23. da Dasra Hari
24. yat Brahma Sri Krishna
Gayatri Tantra insists that each letter must be contemplated upon (thought and meditated for emancipation); "Varnaanaam chintanam dhyaanam samyak paapapraasanam"
Praanaayaama (Gaayatri Mantra Meditation Procedure):
Praanaayaama consists of pooraka, kumbhaka and rechaka. Pooraka is the process by which air is inhaled. Holding the breath within is called ‘antahkumbhakam’. Holding the air without inhaling is called ‘bahihi kumbhakam’. Releasing the air outwardly is called Rechakam.
Close the left hole of the nose with the help of your right little finger and ring finger and exhale the inner breath through your right nostril hole; then with your thumb close your right nostril and inhale air through left nostril, then close both nostrils for sometime closing your eyes, chanting the mantra three times; then through the right nostril release the air from within slowly and then touch your right ear with your hand. This is the Praanaayaama technique.
When you are breathing in, you should have the feeling that "the whole world is manifestation of the Lord and that power is entering to the Self". This is called inhalation. When you hold the air within, without any movement, it is called, “antaha kumbhakam”. You should then have the feeling in you at that time that the divine power that has been drawn in is pervading all body organs, mind and intellect. When the air that has been drawn is released outwards, you should imbibe the feeling that all airs of ego are driven out of your body, cleansing you within. You should not immediately start breathing, in order to avoid the impure air that has been thrown out. You should be still, for sometime without breathing. This action is called “baahya kumbha”. You should get the feeling that the air that has gone out from you is not reentering into yourself. Once the Praanaayaama is complete then the following “sankalpa” (religious resolution) should be undertaken.
“Om Pranavasya parabrahmaa rishhi paramaatmaa devataa daivee gaayatree chandaha saptaanaaam vyaahriteenaam Viswaamitra Jaamadagni Bhaaradwaaja Gautama Atri Vasishta Kasyapa sapta rishayaaha Agni Vaayur Aaaditya Brihaspati Varuna Indra Viswadeva devataaha Gaayatryaa Gaayatree chandoe Visvaamitra rishihi savitaa devatoe siroe mantrasya parabrahma rishihi paramaatma devataa anushtup chandaha praanaayaame viniyoegaha”
Om Parabrahma is the seer for Om which is pranava embodiment. Paramaatma is the presiding deity, Chandas is Gaayatri. Viswaamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaaja, Gautama, Atri, Vasishta, Kasyapa are the seers who are sages for seven vyahritis. Agni, Vaayu, Soorya, Brihaspati, Varuna, Indra, Vaiswa deva are the presiding deities. Gayatri herself is the chandas (meter). Viswaamitra is responsible for the mantra. Soorya is the divine element. We are doing this praanaayaama which is recited in the Anushtup metre:
“Om Bhooh Om bhuvaha Om Suvaha Om Mahaha Om Janaha Om Tapaha Om Satyam Om Tat Savitur varenyam bhargoe devasya dheemahi dheeyoeyonaha prachoedayaat; Om aapoe jyoti rasoe amritum Brahma Bhoor Bhuva Suvar Om”.
Om=Parabrahma as asyllable; Om Bhuh=the eternal Parabrahma in the form of Pranava; Om Bhuvaha=Parabrahman the creator; Om Suvaha=independent energy form; Om Mahaha=worshipful great being; Om Janaha=beginningless prime person; Om Tapaha=Supreme radiant being; Om Satyam= embodiment of truth; Om tat= the manifest Brahman; Savituhu=the Supreme in the Sun-orbit; Varenyam=one who is worshipped by all devas; bhargoe=one who is brilliant; devasya= that deva; dheemahi=we are praying; dheeyoe=our intelligence; yoenaha=is being run by him; prachoedayaat=being conducted by his inspiration; Om aapoe=who protect us from water; jyotihi=you are embodiment of light; rasaha=you are full of juice; amrutam=you are the embodiment of nectar; Brahma=such paramatma; Bhur Bhuvaha Swaha=you are pervading earth, space and Swarga.), may that flame of pranava bless us!
We are meditating upon the Eternal; Independent; the One who has no beginning; the Ever –glowing; the Truth; Authoritative Parabrahma; One who is pervading the solar-orbit; Naaraayana; God of divines; the All-glowing; the word-form Supreme. Because of Him only our intelligence prevails. May that glowing embodiment, the all juicy, the nectarine who is all pervading the earth, space and heaven, the blissful Pranava bless us!
After chanting the above Gayatree mantra, getting ready for the Pooja, we should make the Sankalpa (religious resolution) with a focused mind on the Almighty.
Sankalpa (religious solemn resolution)
Sankalpa is a statement of the purpose of the pooja by way of religious resolution:
Om Sri Govinda Govinda Vishnoe Vishnuhu Vishnoeraajnyayaa pravartamaanasya aadyabrahmanaha dwiteeya paraardhay sweta varaaha kalpay vaivasvata manvantaray kaliyugay prathamapaaday jamboodveepay Bhaaratavarshay Bharatakhande Mahaameroehu dakshina digbhaage ………..tate asmin vartamaana vyavahaarika chaandramaanena ………naama samvatsare ………naayane ……..maase…..myam ……. vaasarayuktaayam subha nakshatra, subhayoga subhakarana evam guna viseshana visishtaayam asyam subha tithou mama sakala duritoepasamana sarvaapa shaantipoorvakam putrapoutra dhana dhaanya sampadabhivriddhyartham sarvaabheesshta siddhyartham yathaa sampaadita saamagryaa Ganesha Gowri Vaani Lakshmi Brahma Vishnu Rudra Sooryaadi navagraha devata Indradrushtyalokapaalaka devataanaam dhyaana aavaahanaadi shodasoepachaara poojaa puraskaram Sri Venkatesha swami poojaam karishye: [The dots are to be appropriately filled in suiting the day and time]
The gist of this resolution is: “With the blessings of Sri Narayana, in the first quarter of Kaliyuga, second half of Svetavaraahakalpa of Vaivasvata manvantara in Jamboodweepa of Bharata varsha in Bharata khanda on the southern side of mount Meru at the location of…… (the person performing the pooja should indicate the location the exact year, season, month, tithi, nakshatra etc) with due reverence to all the divines, seeking deliverance from all accumulated sins, praying for sons, grandsons, wealth and crops, I start the sixteen step poooja ritual for the fulfillment of all my requests”.
Thus the devotee starts the pooja with this Sankalpa. This Sankalpa leads him to Bhaktimarga without any obstacle. We give expression to our hidden Bhakti by this Sankalpa.
Worshipping the lamp
The lamp is lighted and offered flowers chanting:
"Deepajyoti parabrahma deepajyoti Janaardhanaha
Deepoe may haratu paapam deepajyotir namoestu te"
I salute the Lord, the sustainer of the creation, who is in the form of this light. I pay my obeisance to this light (the Lord). May he destroy any affliction resulting from any omissions and commissions!
Kalasa Pooja(worship of the holy waters in the pot)
Offer flowers to the small pot which has been filled with water and decorated with sandal paste and red vermillion (kumkum). Cover the pot with the right palm and chant:
"Gangaa cha Yamunaa chaiva Goedaavari Saraswati
Narmade Sindhu Kaaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru"
O rivers Gangaa, Yamunaa, Goedaavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu, Kaveri may all you be present in the water.
"Kalasasya mukhe Vishnuhu khante Rudra samaasritaaha
Moole tatra sthitoe Brahmaa madhye Matruganaaha sthitaaha"
At the mouth of the Kalasa Lord Vishnu is worshipped; at the neck portion Rudra is worshipped; at the base Lord Brahma is worshipped; at the middle portion Mother of the Universe with all her attendants. We are filling the pot with water through its mouth and filling it completely. The pot is now occupied with water fully, just as Lord Vishnu pervades all. We are worshipping Lord Rudra at the neck portion. We pray to Lord Rudra in order that the mantras emulating from the mouth go down and rest in the cavity of the heart. Siva became blue-necked (Neelakantha) by holding poison at his neck. We should also be able to stop all negative tendencies at the neck itself without going further. Rudra is responsible for destruction. We can also realize Truth when we destroy all negative tendencies. This is the meaning of worshipping Siva at the neck portion. At the base we worship Lord Brahma. By worshipping the creator, we are able to perform pooja with full devotion and novelty. By doing pooja this way our heart is filled with spiritual power. Only to realize this power we worship the middle portion of the Kalasa invoking Mother of the Universe.
Now the pot is filled with water from the confluence of all the holy rivers. The person who attains inward spiritual heights will not feel anything different outwardly also. We thus invoke all the sacred rivers into the pot.
Sprinkle the water from the Kalasa pot on all pooja materials, on self and all the devotees gathered to perform pooja.
Sankha or conch occupies an important place in pooja rituals of Sanaatana Dharma. The sound coming from conch when blown is the word Om, Pranava. Hearing the sound of the conch is also known as Naadoepaasana or the worship through the medium of sound. That is why the Lord is always seen with the conch.
Lord Siva obtained his trident from Vishnu to eliminate demons and destroyed them all. They were reduced to ashes with their chariots. All these ashes got mixed in the ocean and in due course turned to conches of different shapes and colors says Vaivaswata puraana. They were fortunate to be reduced to ashes by the trident of Mahaa Vishnu which he carries always with him in his hand. Therefore the conch is very sacred. The sound emanating from conch is auspicious.
“Sankhasabdoe bhaved yatra tatra Lakshmeescha susthira
Sa snaataha sarva teertheshu yaha snaataha sankhavaarini
Sankhe Harer radhishtaanam yataha sankhoe tatoe Harihi
Tatraiva satatam Lakshmee dooribhootaa mangalam”
Where the sound of conch is heard there prosperity reigns for ever. If one takes bath with the water from the conch he will reap the benefit of having bathed in all the waters from sacred rivers.. Conch resides with Hari. Conch is always in the company of discus (chakra). There Lakshmi will always be present who drives away all inauspiciousness. Sakuna saastra (science of omens) also gives importance to conch. If you hear the sound of conch when you begin a job then that job will be completed without any hindrance. Samudreeka Sastra (palmistry) talks about the benefits of conch signs. Lines resembling a conch on one’s palm or sole makes one exalted and rich like a king. In pooja rituals also the conch occupies a prominent position.
"Kapilaksheeramaadaaya Sankhe snaatwaa Janaardhanam
Yajna-aayutasya sahasrasya snaapayitwaa labhedphalam
Kshiptwa Gangoedakam sankhe yah snaapayati Maadhavam
Namoh Naaraayanetyuktwa muchyate yonisankatat
Darsanenaapi sankhasya kimu tasyaarchanenacha
Vilayam yaanti paapaani himaa sooryodaye yadaa"
He, who bathes Lord Janaardhana with the milk of a black cow from a conch, enjoys the fruit of performing a million Yagnas. One who bathes Maadhava with Ganges water from a conch, uttering “Om Namoh Naaraayanaaya”will escape all further births. While the mere sight of a conch dispels all the sins as the Sun dispels the fog, why talk of its worship?”
Ayurveda also deals with the therapeutic properties of conch. Medicines stored in conch for sometime cure long illnesses.
Now pouring the water from the copper vessel on the conch, the bell should be rung. Ringing the bell the following mantra should be chanted:
"Tvam puraa saagaroetpannoe Vishnunaa vidhrishtaha karay
Namitaha sarva deveyscha Paanchajanyam namostu te"
Om! The divine conch! Paanchajanya! You emerged out of the ocean. You then decided to live in the hands of the Ksheerasaagara Lord. You are being worshipped by all devas (gods). My obeisance is being offered to you.
"Dakshinaavarata sankhasya toeyena yoe archayet Harim
Sapta Janma krutam paapam tatkshanaadeva naasayet"
Bathing Lord Hari with water poured from a dakshinaavarta (right twist) conch one’s sins accumulated over seven lives would at once be wiped out. It further bestows on the performer long life, fame and wealth says Skanda Puraana.
The conch is adorned with red vermillion (kumkum), offering few grains of sacred rice (akshata) saying: “Dhyaanaavaahanaadi shoedasoepachaara poojaartham Tulaseedalam samarpayaami”—so saying few Tulasi leaves are placed on the conch in the process of starting the sixteen steps Pooja. Flower petals can also be offered.
Aatma Pooja (worship of the Self)
Hold your palms together with fingers pointing upwards and chant:
"Deho devaalayaha proktaha jeevo devassanaatanaha
Tyajedaanada nirmalyam soeham bhaavena poojayet"
The body is temple. The Jeeva is the deity of this temple since the beginningless time. May the wilted flowers be removed that are ignorance and worship the Lord with an understanding that He is non separate from individual Self. (Please also see, under visarjana, p. 21).
Ghanta Pooja (worship of the Bell)
"Aagamaartantu devaanam gamanaartantu raakshasaam
Kuru ghantaaravam tatra devataahvaana lanchanam"
For the arrival of deities and for the departure of devils, I ring the bell, marking the invocation of the deity. The bell is rung symbolically to drive away our evil tendencies and hold within the divine qualities.
Aasana Pooja (worshipping the seat—Earth)
"Prithivee tvayaa dhrita loekaa Devi tvam vishnuna dhritaa
Tvam cha dhaaraya maam devi pavitram kuruchaasanam "
Oh Mother Earth! You are the consort of Vishnu. You support and protect everybody. You bless us where we are praying to you while seated. May your protection be bestowed on all beings!
One should stand up while chanting this prayer. Offering the sacred Akshata one should bow with reverence (obeisance) to the mother Earth. After chanting one offers flowers and sacred rice to the seat before commencing the prayer.
"Yagnaisachyuta Govinda Madhavaananta Kesava
Krishna Vishnoe Hrisheekesa Vaasudeva namostu te"
With these divine chanting of the names of the Lord, the main ritual of sixteen steps is started for the deity to be worshipped:
“Shoedasoepachaara Vidhaanena Sri Venkateswaraswami poojaam karishye”
ABHISHEKAM (BATHING CEREMONY)
“Prapanna paarijaataaya totravetraika praanaye
Gnaanamudraaya Krishnaaya Geetaamruta duhe namah”
Obeisance to Lord Krishna,who is the pinnacle of intellect, who milks the nectar of Geeta, who shines in paarijaata flowers and ornaments.
Vinaa vankatesam na naatho na naathah
Sadaa Venkatesam smaraami smaraami
Hare Venkatesa praseedaa praseeda
Priyam Venkatesa pryachcha prayachcha
There is no Lord for me other than Venkatesa; I think Venkatesa all the time; May Venkatesa be happy with my prayers! May Venksatesa be pleased to bless me for ever!
Om Namoe Bhagavate Vaasudevaaya—Dhyaanam samarpayaami
Obeisance to Vaasudeva--I offer with reverence my prayers. I Invoke the Lord with these prayers.
“Harihi Om! Sahasra seershaa Purushaha; Sahasraaksha Sahasrapaat; Sa bhoomim viswatoe vritvaa; Atyatishtad dasaangulam”—He, the cosmic Lord, the Purusha, with thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand legs, pervading the Universe, still stands ten inches beyond”
Aagachcha. Yaavat poojaam karishyeham taavat tvam sannidhou bhava iti aavaahayaami—O Lord! Welcome! Welcome! Surrendering to you I am urging! Please come. Please grant your audience during the period of the entire pooja rituals. This is the first mantra welcoming the Lord.
Aasanam (offering the seat)
After inviting the Lord, the devotee should offer seat to Him.
“Purusha ye vedagam sarvam; yadbhootam yachchabhavyam; utaamri tatva syesaanaha; yadanne naati roehati”—whatever is born now and whatever is yet to be born in the future, all that is He alone, not only this, even for the divines, He is the controller; and hence He transcends (atirohati) the mortal state (annena). “Ratnaihi naanavidhair yuktam Swrnapeetha viraajitam; Aasanam Devadevesa pratigrihyataam”—Aasanam samarpayaami—Oh Lord! A golden seat embedded with different kinds of gems and pearls is waiting for you. Please take your seat on such a bedecked seat and receive our offerings. Indeed God enters only the heart embedded with gems of good deeds.
Paadyam (washing the feet)
“Yetaavaan-asya mahimaa; athoe–jaayaagam-cha-Purushaha; paadoe-asya Viswaa Bhootani; Tripaadasya –amrutam divihi”—this much is His glory only. And Purusha is much more than all these. The entire Universe of happenings and creatures constitute but a quarter (Paada) of Him. The remaining three quarters (tripaad) of His glory consists of the immutable Consciousness.
“Naaraayana namasteshu narakaarnava Taaraka; Grihaanaa paadyam Devesa mama saukhya vivardhana”—paadyam samarpayaami. Oh Lord! Take us away from the ocean of sins and save us. We are washing your feet with the fond hope to live happily. Please save us! With this prayer the feet of the Lord is washed. By washing with clean water, the devotee is bound to tread on holy grounds.
Arghyam (washing the hands)
“Tripaadoordhva udait Purushaha; paadoe syehat bhavat punaha tatoe viswaang vyakraamat; sa-asanaana asane abhi”—Three quarters of the Purusha extends beyond the changing Universe. The one quarter of Him again and again comes to play as the Universe. Thereafter, He pervades all beings that eat and that never eat. Oh Lord! With your manifested and not manifested forms, you are the lord of all senses, (indriyas-- Jnaana and Karma). We are offering pure water to you for washing the hands. Our actions are not only associated externally but also associated internally. With such thoughts the devotee tries to purify his hands hoping purification not only externally but internally, in the act of washing the hands of the divine. The devotee looks forward to the divine hand of the protecting posture (abhaya hasta) to bless him and grant him everlasting peace.
Aachamanam ( the act of sipping water)
“Tasmat viraat ajaayata; viraajo adhi poorushaha; sa jaatoe atyarichyata; paschad Bhoomi-mathoe puraha”—From the Purusha was born viraat, the Universe-in-seed (Brahmaandam) and identifying with viraat, the universe-in-seed condition the viraat purusha was born. That new born one became manifest into the plurality. Then He created the earth and the bodies.
“Mandaakinyaastu yadvaari sarva paapaharam shubham; tadidam kalpitam Deva samyagaachamya taam tvayaa”—Oh Lord! We are offering the waters of the Ganges for your bath. Chanting this aachamana is done. Ganges water is holy. That purifies us. The knowledge to purify physical organs, and sense organs is here indicated symbolically as the Ganges water. After this aachamana, with this water of divine intelligence, the bathing ceremony of the Lord begins.
Snaanam (bathing ceremony)
God is bathed with the Ganges water poured gently with the help of a dakshinaavarta sankha (right hand twist conch).
“yat purushena havisha; devaa yagna matanvata; vasantoe-asya-asee-daajyam; greeshma-idmah sarad-havihi”—when the divines invoked Purusha (in the beginning) they considered Him as their very oblation, the spring season as ghee (aajyam=melted butter), the summer season as fuel and the rainy season as grains needed for the offering.
“Madhuparkam grihaanedam dadhimadhvaajya samyutam; bhaktyaa dadaami Devesa sachchidaananda vigrha—madhuparkam samarpayaami”—Oh Lord! Honey is being offered to you. Please consider this as existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit aananda) and bless us. Suddhoedaka snaanam karishye! Bathing with sacred Ganges water is followed by panchaamrita (five nectars) bathing. Milk, yogurt, melted butter honey and brown sugar constitute the five nectars. After this the deity is bathed in water containing sandal paste chanting the following mantra; “Gandha dwaaraam duraadarshaam; nitya pushtaam kareeshineem; Easvareegam sarvabhootaanaam; taami hopaahvaye sriyam”—Oh Lord! We pray to Goddess Lakshmi for the glorification of our homes. She is the benefactor of the whole world. She is the giver of happiness. Her blessings make our lives fragrant like the sandal paste.
Then the bath is given with water containing flowers, chanting the mantra:
“Pushpaavateeha prasoovateeha phalaaneerya phalaavapat”; pushpoedaka snaanam samarpayaami” Sweet smelling flowers, when offered to the Lord give us the feeling that we are receiving nectarine blessings. Then keeping the fruits in the water, bathing ceremony is performed:
“Phaloedaka snaanam samarpayaami”-we are bathing you with the water containing fruits!
“Ksheeram dadhi ghritam chaiva; madhu sarkara yaanvitam; panchaamritam grihaaneedam Jagannatha namostu te”—Oh Lord! We are offering you milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar etc. Please accept this with obeisance.
“Aavaahita Sri Venkatesha devatabhyoe namah —we salute our invited guest Lord Venkateswara.
Panchaamrita snaanam samarpayaami—I am offering five nectarine baths with reverence.
Then the rest of the Purushasookta is chanted during course of the rest of the ritual.
Sapta-asya-asan paridhayaha; trih-saptaha-samidhahakritaaha; deva-yad-yagyam-tanwaanaaha; abhadhnan Purusham pasum—for this yajna they appointed seven vedies (paridhayaha) and created twenty-one kinds of fuel in all. The very Lord whom devas desired to invoke with their yajna, that very Prajaapati was tied to the sacrificial post as the animal offering.
“Tam yajnam barhishi prokshan; Purusham jaata magrataha; tena devaa ayajanta; sadhya rishyascha ye"—the first born Purusha was offered as an oblation to the sacred fire and by this divine act of gods, celestial, rishis and all became victorious.
After reciting the above, the deity is offered clothes. That will protect us like armory. “vedasookta samaayukta; yajnasaama samanvite; sarva varnayute Deva vasasi prati grihyatam; vastram samarpayaami”—Oh Lord! We are offering the clothes sanctified by the vedic mantras. All the threads in the cloth are mantras. Please wear these clothes and bless us. We give up our body-atma concept in us by offering the clothes to the Lord. It is only by praying to God constantly through the medium of our body we can give up our attachment to the body. The threads are the mantras which is the inner meaning of this.
“Tasmaad yajnaat sarva hutaha; sambhritam prishadaajyam; pasoom-staagam-s-chakrae; vaayavyaan; Aaranyaan graamyascha ye”—From the sarvahuta sacrifice, curd and ghee were obtained, insects born of air, animals roaming in forests and the domestic cattle were created. So chanting, the Lord is offered the holy thread (yajnoepaveeta): “Brahma Vishnu Mahesaischa nirmitam brahmasootrakam; yajnoepaveeta naanena preeyataam Kamalaaptihi—Yajnoepaveetam samarpayaami”—Oh Lord! The three stranded holy thread which has all the powers of Trinity is being offered to you. Please wear this and bless us, Oh Lord of Kamala, please oblige us. By offering the holy thread, we receive the blessings of the yajna. The three strands represent the three kinds of nature in us—purity, restlessness and dullness (satva, rajas and tamas).
“Tasmaad yajnaat sarvahutaha; richa saamaani jagniray; chchandaagamsi jagniray tasmaat; yajus tasmad ajaayata”—from the sarvahuta sacrifice the sacred declarations, Rig and Sama were born. From it again were born meter (chchandas). From it came the mantras of the Yajurveda.
Now the deity should be decorated with the sandal paste. “Sree gandham chandanam divyam gandhaadyaam manoeharam; vilepanam surashreshtha; chandanam pratigrihyataam”—we are smearing your body with attractive sweet smelling sandal paste. With this sandal paste accept our salutations also and release us from all sorts of entanglements.
Then Lord Venkatesvara is worshipped offering Tulasi leaves while chanting his different names 108 times. In 24 hours we breathe 21,600 times. 12 hours are spent in the daily routines. That leaves us 12 hours for devotion of God. This means that each day 10,800 times breathing should be utilized for devotion to God. However, since this is not practical, the two zeroes have been removed. Therefore, breathing 108 times is appropriate during prayers. The rosary used in prayers also has 108 beads. 27 constellations with 4 quarters each make 108. There are also other explanations for the significance of 108. Praanaayaama and gaayatri are also done 108 times normally. Then akshata (the sacred grains of rice) are offered reciting the following:
“saaleeyaan akshataan swetaan; chandrabhaan vimalaan shubhaan; grihaana satya Devesa ; Puraana Purushoettama”—Oh the Eternal! The great soul! We are offering the pure and auspicious holy rice grains. Bless us with all good things.
“Tasmaadaswaa ajaayanta; ye ke cha ubeyaadataha; gaavoeha yajnirae tasmaat; tasmaat jaata ajaavayaha”—from that sacrifice came horses and all creatures with two rows of teeth. Born were also cows, sheep and goat.
“Yat purusham vyadadhuhu; katidhaa vyakalpayan; mukaham kim-asya kow baahoo; kaa ooroo paada uchyete”—when the Gods meditated upon the Virat-purusha in what way they conceived Him to be? What came out of his divine face? What came out of his hands? What came from his sacred thighs? These are being described further.
After chanting this, the incenses are offered (dhoopa), chanting the following:
Offering incenses (dhoopam)
“Vanaspati rasoe bhoote gandhaadyoe gandha uttamaha; aghreyaha sarvadevaanaam dhoopeyam pratigrihyatam; Dhoopa maaghraapayaami"—this incense is made from fine scented powder, and valuable herbs. Please take this and give light to our lives. We are offering our noble values that we obtained through penance and devotion to the Supreme. The sacred powders are gathered from scriptures and the herbs are obtained by discipline. This is the meaning of offering incense.
Deepam, Aarati (light)
“Braahmanoe asya mukahm aaseeth; bahoo raajanyaha kritaha; ooroo tadasya yat vaisyaha; paadabhyaa(ga)m soodroe ajaayata”—From the face of the Purusha were born Brahmins (thinkers); from his arms the Kshatriyas (kings); from his thighs, the vaisyaas (traders); and from his feet, the soodras (service class).
“Saajyam trivarti samyuktam vahninaa yojitam mayaa; deepena grihaanaa Devesa trailokya timiraapaha”. The aarati or light is offered to the Lord with three stranded lighted thread dipped in ghee or oil. May this light offered to you remove the darkness from all the three worlds.
Naivedyam (offering food)
“Chandramaa mansoe jaataha; chakshoeho sooryoe ajaayata; mukhaad-indrasch-aagnischa; Praanaad vaayur ajaayata”—from the Virat purusha’s mind the Moon came out; from his eyes, the Sun; from his mouth Indra; and from his breath came the very atmospheric air. “Naanaavidham cha naivedyam, He Swamihi pratigrihyatam”—O Lord! We are offering you a variety of food to please you. Please accept the same and bless us. Parishachana naivedyam: Gayatri mantra—Om bhur-bhuvas-suvah, tat-savitur varenyam, bhargoe devasya dheemahi, dheeyoe yoe naha, prachoedayaat. (Oh lord! Giver of life; Remover of sorrow; Benefactor of happiness and Creator of the Universe! Thou art most luminous and adorable. We meditate on Thee! May Thou inspire and guide our Intellect in the right direction.) After chanting the Gaayatri mantra water with tulasi leaves in the right hand is shown to the deity five times (symbolic of food being accepted by the deity). Then the following mantras are recited: “Satvam tvartvena parishinchaami; Amritoepa-staranamaci”—Oh immortal Lord! Thou art the sheet spread for the food (you are my Protector). “Om Praanaaya swaaha; Om Apaanaaya swaaha; Om Vyaanaaya swaaha; Om Udaanaaya swaaha; Om Samaanaaya swaaha; Om Brahmanay swaaha”—food is being offered to Brahman and the five vital forces of life controlled by Him. “Amritaa Piddhaanamasi”—Oh Lord! You are the cover of the form of nectar (You are my shelter. May I live under your protection)!
[Naivedyam means that which is offered by Nivedanam. Nivedana does not mean making the Lord eat what is offered. Nivedyami means I am making it known to you or informing you and does not mean I am feeding you. What is implied here is an appeal to Lord:"O Lord, in your compassion you have given us this food. We have been thus blessed by you!" Then we must eat the food thus offered thinking of him].
After the above, the following types of water should be offered. “Hasta prakshaalanam samarpayaami”—water is being offered to the Lord for washing the hands after the meals. “Mukha prakshaalanam samarpayaaami”—water is offered to the Lord for washing the mouth. “Aachamanam samarpayaami”—water for drinking is offered to the Lord.
Then the Lord is smeared with chandan (sandal paste) on the forehead and the following mantra is recited:
\“Lavanga karpoorayutam taamboolam surapoojitam; preetyaa griheena Devesa mama saukhyam vivardhaya; poogeephala taamboolam samarpayaami”—Oh Lord! For your health and happiness we are offering the betel leaves and nuts with sweet spices.
Dakshinaa Samarpanam (Cash offered to the Lord)
Om Hiranya garbha garbhastam; heymabeejam vibhaavasoho; ananta punya phaladaam; atha saantim prayachcha may—suvarna pushpa dakshinaam samarpayaami”—O Lord! These little changes are being offered to you. You are blessing us with good intentions. These are in attendance to serve you always as a token. Please accept these golden flowers. In Padmapuraana the flowers are described as follows: non-violence; control over the senses; compassion; forgiveness; peace; control of mind; meditation and, truth. “Pushkalaartha pradanaartham pushpamityabhideeyate” They are called flowers because they promote purity. All our working is due to God’s blessings only. Obtaining His grace and using this money for the divine cause is the sole object of dakshina offering.
Phala samarpanam (offering fruits)
Five types of fruits are being offered with the following mantra: “Om idam phalam mayaa Deva; sthaapitam puratastava; tena may saphalapraaptihi bhavet janmani janmani; samasta phalaani samarpayaami”—O Lord! Please bless us with all good events. May this fruitfulness serve us life after life till Moksha (liberation) is attained—with these words fruits are offered to the Lord! Doing your duty and leaving the fruits of action to the Lord is the essence of this act of offering fruits. All the fruits reached with five sense organs are but the blessings of the Lord. It is for this reason five fruits are offered.
Mangala Aarati (concluding auspicious waving of the lamp)
“Ghritavarti samaayukta deepenacha supoojitaaha; neeraajanena santushtoe bhavatyeva Jagatpatihi; mangala neeraajanam samarpayaami”—O Lord of the Universe! This lamp is being waved to you filled with melted butter to please you. O Lord, please grace us. This is the auspicious light. This offering of light with solidified butter grease is symbolic of getting rid of our negative tendencies.
“Na tatra sooryoe bhaati na chandra-taarakam | nemaa vidyutoe bhaanti kutoyamagnih | tameva bhaantam-anubhaati sarvam | tasya bhaasaa sarvamidam vibhaati ||
The Sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars. There lightnings do not shine. Wherefrom can Agni do so? All these shine after the Ever Shining. All these shine out on account of His effulgence.
Karpoora aarati (camphor light offering)
“Karpoora deepam sumanoeharam prabho; dadaami te Devavara praseeda bho; paapaandhakaaram tvaritam nivaaraya; prajnaana deepam manasi pradaaya; Karpooraaraatikam samrpayaami”—O Lord! This yellow camphor lamp is offered to you. May this remove the darkness of our ignorance and brighten our intelligence.
“Sreeyah kaantaaya kalyaana nidhaye nidhayertinaam; Sree venkatanivaasaaya Sreenivaasaaya mangalm”—May auspiciousness be to Srinivasa, who is the Lord of Lakshmi, who is an abode of auspiciousness, (who is) a treasure-trove of supplicants and (who) dwells on the venkataachala.
Now one spoonful of water is offered chanting “anantaram aachamaneeyam samarpayaami”—this pure water is offered for drinking.
This camphor light is the offering of self. In our prayer all egos and selfishness vanish and the divine light within us is kindled and glows.
“Naabhyaa aasee dantariksham; seershoe dyauhu samavartata; padbhyaam bhoomirdisaha srotraat; tathaa lokaagam akalpayan”--from the navel of the Lord the inner space and from the head outer space emerged. From his feet the Earth and from his ears the four quarters manifested. Thus the World came into being.
“Yaani kaanicha paapaani; jnaanamantra kritaanicha; Taanitaani vinasyanti; Pradakshina paday paday;--Pradakshinam samarpayaami” –O Lord! We are going round you three times. This is to burn off our sins accumulated in many births. This is the circumambulation. Praarabhda (past inherited) karma, future karmas and the currently accumulated karmas are three karmas that need to be destroyed--it is this that is the significance of three circumambulations
(Note: Saashtaanga pranaamam, prostration with eight parts touching the floor and panchaanga pranaamam, prostration with five parts of the body touching the floor is not done before the sanctum and sanctorum. It is done only at the entrance at the flag-post, dwajasthamba).
POST ABHISHEKAM RITUALS
Now offering water, rest of the Purushasookta is completed:
“Vedaahametam Purusham mahaantam; aaditya varunam tamasastu pare; sarvaani roopaani vichitya dheeraha; naamaani kritva abhivaadan yadaaste”—I have realized that First person resplendent like the Sun, ever shining, beyond all darkness, who, having created all forms and names, exists as though functioning through them all. “Dhaataa Purastaad yamudaajahaara; sukraha pravidwaan pradisas chatasraha; tamevam vidwaan iha bhavati; naanyaha panthaa ayanaaya vidyate”—Him who Prajaapati proclaimed as the Viraat-purusha, Him whom Indra propagated in the four quarters of the Universe, He is the one by realizing whom the realized masters become immortal, even in this life; there is no other Way of liberation.
“Yajnena yajna mayajanta devaaha; taani dharmaani prathamaa-nyaasan; teha naakam mahimaanaha sachante; yatra poorve saadhyaaha santi Devaaha”—The Devas worshipped the Lord of all yajnas (sacrifices). Therefore yajna dharmas (dedicated sacrifices) became the noblest of things in the World. The heaven, where earlier performers of this yajna live there will enter and live (those who perform it). Yajna is cooperative endeavors undertaken by the community in a spirit of devotion, desiring nothing more than the total welfare of the entire generation.
“Adbhyas sambhootaha prithivyai rasachcha; viswakarmananas samavartataadhi; tasya tvashtaa vidadahad roopameti; tatpurusasya visvamaajaanamagre” The Viratpurusha manifested himself from out of the all pervading water as also the essence of the element of earth. This Viratpurusha was actually born out of the greatness of Parmapurusha, the Creator. The Paramapurusha known as Tvashtaa engaged himself in the act of creating the fourteen worlds, which forms the expanded figure of the Viraatpurusha. Thus the entire creation related to the Viraatpurusha came into existence in the very beginning of creation.
“Vedaahametam purusham mahaantam; Aaditya varnaha tamasaha parastaat; Tamevam vidwaanamrita iha bhavati; Naanyaha panthaa vidyate ayanaaya”—I have known that great Purusha who is brilliant like the Sun and who is beyond darkness. One who knows him thus becomes immortal even here. There is no other path for liberation than this.
“Prajapatisharati garbhe antah; ajaayamano bahudhaa vijaayate; tasya deeraaha parijaananti yonim; mareecheenam padmicchanti Vedhasaha”—Prajapati (the lord of all beings) moves inside the cosmic womb. (Though) unborn he takes birth in a variety of ways. The wise ones know his (real nature) as the origin (of the universe). The (secondary) creators desire to attain the position of Mareechi and others.
“Yoe devebhya aatapati; yo devaanam purohitaha; Poorvo yoe devebhyoe jaataha; namo ruchaaya braahmaye”—Obeisance to him, the self luminous Brahman, who shines for the gods, who is the leader of the rituals of the gods and who was born even before the gods.
“Rucham brahmam janayantaha; devaa agre tadabruvan; yastvaivam braahmanoe vidyaat; tasya devaa asan vasay”—in the beginning of creation, the gods, manifesting the light of Brahman, addressed Brahman thus: ‘That Braahmana who realizes (you) thus, all the gods will come under his control!’
“Hreescha te lakshmeescha patnyau; ahoeraatre parsvay; nakshatraani roopam; aswinau vyaattam; ishtam manisaana; amum manisaana; sarvam manisaana; Om saantihi, saantihi, saantihi”—O Purusha! The goddesses Hree (modesty) and Sree (wealth) are your consorts. Day and night are your lateral limbs. The stars are your form. The Asvins are your widely opened (Mouth). O Purusha!
Fulfill our desire for the enjoyments of this world (like longevity, cows and horses). Give us all that we need! May there be Peace; Peace; Peace!
(Note: It is also customary to recite Naaraayana sooktam on special occasions.)
Mantra Pushpam (Floral mantras in praise of the Lord)
Having flowers and akshata in the hands mantra pushpa mantras are recited
“Yoepaam pushpam veda pushpavaan pasumaan bhavati; chandramaavaa apaam pushpam pushpavaan prajaavan pasumaan bhavati; ya evam veda yoepaam aayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati”—He who knows the flower of water, he is the possessor of flowers. The Moon is the flower for the water. When one knows this, he is blessed with flowers, progeny and the cattle. He who knows the support of water will get the protection (of the Lord).
“Agnirvaa apaa maayatanam aayatanabvaan bhavati”—He who knows the supporter of water, gets the protection. Fire is the supporter of water. He will get the protection.
“Yoe agneraayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; aapoe vaa agneraayatanam aayatanavaan bhavati”—He who knows the supporter fire, he will be protected. Water is the supporter of fire. He who knows this will have the protection.
“Yoepaa maayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; Vaayurvaa apaa maayatanam aayatanavan bhavati”—He who knows the support for water, will get the protection. Water is the supporter of Air. He who knows this will get the protection.
“Yoe vayoeraayatanam veda aayatanavan bhavati; aapoevai vaayoeraayatanam aayatanavan bhavati; ya evam veda”—he who seeks the supporter of air, will get the protection. Water is the supporter of Air. He who knows this will get the protection.
“Yoepaa maayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; aapoevai tapannapaamaayatanam aayatanavan bhavati”—Whosoever approaches the source of support for water, he will have the protection. Sun is the supporter of water. He who knows this will have the protection.
“Yoe mushya tapata aayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; aapoevaa amushya tapata aayatanam aayatanavaan bhavati; ya evam Veda”—He who knows the source of support for the Sun, he will have the protection. Water is the supporter of the Sun. So knowing he will have the protection.
“Yoepaa maayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; chandramaavaa apaamaayatanam aayatanavan bhavati”—He who knows the source of support for water, will have the support. Moon is the source of support for water. He who knows this will have the protection.
“Yaschandamasa aayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; aapoevai chandramasa aayatanam aayatanavaan bhavati”—He who knows the source of support for the Moon, he will have the protection. Water is the source of support for moon. He who knows this will have the protection.
“Yoepaamaayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; nakshatraanivaa apaa maayatanam aayatanavan bhavati” Who approaches the source of support for water, he will be protected. Stars are the source of support for water. So knowing, he will have protection.
“Yoe nakshatraanaa maayatanam veda aayatanavan bhavati; aapoevai nakshatraanaam ayatanam aayatanavan bhavati”—Whoever reaches the support for the stars, he will be ensured protection. Water is the source of support for the stars. He who knows so will have the protection.
“Yoepaa maayatanam veda aayatanavan bhavati; parjanyoevaa apaamaayatanam aayatanavan bhavati”—He who knows the source of support for water will have the protection. Clouds are the source of support for water. Knowing this he will have the protection.
“Yah parjanyasyaayatanam veda aayatanavan bhavati; aapoevai parjanyasyaayatanam aayatanavaan bhavati”—one who approaches the source of support for clouds he will be ensured protection. Water is the source of support for clouds. He who knows this has the protection.
“”Yoepaa maayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; samvatsaroeva apaamaayatanam aayatanavaan bhavati”—He who approaches the source of support for water he will be protected. Year (season) is the source of support for water. He who knows this will be protected.
“Yah samvatsarasyaayatanam veda aayatanavaan bhavati; aapoevai samvatsarasyaayatanam aayatanvaanm bhavati”—He who approaches the source of support for the year will obtain protection. Water is the source of support for the year. One who has this information will be protected.
“Yoepsu naavam pratishtitaam veda pratyeva tishtati”--Whoever knows the One who dwells permanently in water (Naaraayana), he will have a firm footing. Water is the universal support, says this mantra.
[Note: “Tiruppallandu” from “Thiruvoymozhi” (Tamil Veda) is also invariably recited in all the 108 Divya Kshetras (holy Vaishnava shrines in South India including the one in Naimisaaranya in U.P.) which have been graced or ordained by Ramanuja, as well as in other Vaishnava Temples in addition to Mantra Pushpam, called “Sattumarai” in Tamil.]
“Raajaadhiraajaaya prasahya saahine; namoe vayam vaisravanaaya kurmahe; sa may kaamaankaama kaamaaya mahyam; kaameswaroe vaisravanoe dadaatu; kuberaaya vaisravanaaya mahaaraajaaya namah”—We offer our obeisance to Kubera, who is the king of kings, who commands every one’s possessions by his power. May that Kubera, the Lord of desires fulfill my desires! I offer my obeisance to Kubera, the son of Vaisravus and king of kings.
“Om tad Brahama Om tad vayuhu Om tadaatma Om tat satyam Om Tat puroennamha antascharati bhooteshu guhaayam viswamoortishu”—That is Brahman, that is air, that is Jeevaatma, that is truth, that is everything, obeisance to that which is the cause of the Universe--the Lord of the Universe dwells in the cave of the heart of all beings—obeisance to that Brahman.
“Tam yajnaastvam vashatkaarastvam indrastvam rudrastvam vishnustvam brahmatvam prajaapatihi tvam tadaapaha”—You are the sacrifice, you are the expression vashatkaara (used in sacrifice), You are Indra, you are Rudra, you are Vishnu you are Brahma, you are the three worlds –bhuh, bhuvaha and suvaha; you are the Pranava, Om.
“Eeesaanaha sarva vidyaanaam eeswaraha sarvabhootaanam brahmaadhipatihi brahmanoedhipatihi brahma shivome astu sadaasivam-- You are the lord of all kinds of education; you are the lord of all kinds of beings; you are the protector of the Vedas; you are the lord of Brahma; May that Brahman bring auspiciousness to me! Sadaasiva!
“Tadvishnoeh paramam padam sadaa pasyanti soorayaha; diveeva chakshuraatatam tad vipraasoe, vipanyavoe; jagrivaagam sasyamindhatae tad vishnoeryat paramam padam”
The learned are looking at the abode of Vishnu (paramapadam) just like looking at the Sun that pervades the sky. The learned sages reach the abode of Vishnu cautiously without much difficulty.
“Ritagam satyam parabrahma purusham Krishna pingalam; oordhvaretam viroopaaksham visvaroopaaya vai namoh namah”—obeisance to visvarooopa (cosmic form) who is Truth embodiment; who is Purusha; who is dark-blue in complexion (difficult to perceive), who is reddish-brown in hue, absolutely chaste and possessing unique eyes.
“Naaraayanaaya vidmahe Vaasudevaaya dheemahi; tannoe Vishnuhu prachoedayaat”—Let us know that Naaraayana; let us meditate on that Naaraayana; so that Lord Vishnu leads us through the path of meditation.
“Tvameva maataa cha pita tvameva; tvameva bandhuscha sakha tvameva; tvameva vidya dravinam tvameva; tvameva sarvam mama deva deva”—Oh Lord! You alone are my mother and father; you alone are the relative and the friend; you alone are my knowledge and the wealth; you are everything to me, oh Lord!
“Om asatoe maa sadgamaya; tamasoe maa jyotirgamaya; mrityor maa amritam gamaya; Om shaantihi, shaantihi shaantihi! ” Lead me from the unreal to the real; lead me from darkness to light, lead me from death to immortality! In the name of the eternal Om, may there be peace, alround!
“Yaa mayaa bhaktiyuktena patram pushpam phalam jalam; niveditam cha naivedyam tad grihnaanu kampaya; mantraheenam kriyaaheenam bhaktiheenam Janaardhana; yat poojitam mayaa deva paripoornam tadastu te”—Oh lord I offered you with reverence leaves, flowers, fruits and water. During the process of clear recitation of the mantras, process of pooja rituals and in my attitude towards devotion there might have been lapses here and there which please forgive, Oh Lord of the Universe! Your mercy alone can grant the desired level of perfection to this pooja ritual. I offer my humble prayers and obeisance.
Obeisance to four Vedas
“Harih Om! Agnimieelae puroehitam yajnasyadeva mritvijam | hoetaara(g)m ratnadhaatamam | Harih Om!”
Hail! & Glory! To Agni Deva! He, the Lord of the Yajnyas in Whom all our karmas culminate; He who is to be worshipped without fail at the junction of each seasonal time cycle of the year; He who has been present from time immemorial before the commencement of life of every Jeeva (Aatman); He who is helpful to every one for no reason; He who delivers the food offered in the sacrificial fires to the respective gods; He who grants the sublime knowledge and divine happiness that are like precious gems in life; He who stays at the tip of life and draws and attracts the devotees to Himself, I pray to that great Paramaatma who is in the form of Agni and I sing in praise to His endless and eternal glories.
“Harih Om! Ishetvoerjetwaa vaayavasthoe paayavastha devoevassavitaa prarpayatu sreshthatamaaya karmana apyaayadvam-agni yaa devabhaagam oorjasvateeh payasvateeh prajaavateer-anameevaa ayakshmaa maava stena-eesatamaaghasa(ga)msoe rudrasyahetih parivoevrinaktu dhruvaa asmin goepatausyaata barheer yajamaanasya pasoon paahi | Harih Om”
Hay Bhagavan! I pray to you to grant me the necessary cooked rice and food that are needed and worthy of being offered to You; Give me the strength to lead this life.
Oh! People of the land who have all come from Him, be prepared to reach Him again; May you all lead a noble life worthy of conducting Vedic rituals. The body that you possess is meant for performing Vedic Sacrifices. May it flourish!; May you all lead a life full of noble qualities with good health and strength and enjoy life blessed with noble sons and grand- children; let there be no sickness nor fear from thieves; May you not be provoked to do evil deeds; May you be protected by the weapon of Rudra; have unflinching faith in the Paramaatma that resides in you; May the Lord guard your senses (indriyas) and make them worthy of participating in the Yajnyas conducted by the yajamaana (performer).
“Harih Om! Agna aayaahiveetayae ghrinaanoe havyadaatayae nihoetaa satsi barhishi Harih Om! ”
Oh! Agnideva! You who is intent on leading us forward, please come to us for uniting the earth and the celestial sky; please respond to our prayers and accept the Havis (fagots offered as food) offered by us in the sacrificial fires
“Harih Om! Shanno deveer-abhishtaya aapoe-bhavantu-peetayae sam yoer-abhisravantu nah | Harih Om!”
Oh! Gods of the Waters! Be beneficial to us with regard to our requirements for quenching our thirsts. Grant us the boon to be always happy devoid of sorrow; pray, make available to us milk and curds in plenty always.
Visarjana ( Farewell; sending away)
When the formal worship is completed the deity is dismissed or sent away (visarjana). The ritual signifying this involves a “taking back the divine presence (temporarily lodged in the icon) into the worshipper’s own heart (which is its permanent residence). The worshipper recites the mantra which means “come into my heart-lotus”—(Ehe chi pratima sthitaa Purushoettama, mama hritkamalay; Reside in my heart, Oh Lord of the World, along with your glory (Hridaye kuru samavaasam sriyaa saha Jagatpatay).
The placement of divine power in the human constitution is necessary ritual sequence before the services (upachaaras). Before an idol or image is worshipped, a process of divinizing is gone through. This is known as Praana pratishtaa. The following prayer is uttered before Praana Pratishtaa:
“Svaatmasamasttham ajam suddham tvaamadya paramesvara; Aranyaamiva havyaasam moortau aavaahayaamyaham”
Oh Lord of the Worlds, You are unborn and pure. You are in my heart. I invoke you in this moorti (icon). Make yourself visible to me in my concentration even as the fire in arani comes out by friction. Thereupon it becomes instinct with divinity and becomes fit for worship. Whenever such aavaahana is done it is followed by the above visarjana.
In temple rituals, this step is omitted, where the image is a permanent repository of divine power. For administering the services (upachaaras), however, a smaller replica of the main image is used in temples. And, this image needs to be infused with life at the time of services. But, here, the priest draws the power from the main image itself and not from his heart and returns back the power to the main deity, which is in its consecrated form, fully charged.
“Agnir devoe dwijaateenaam muneenaam hridi deivataam; Pratimaa svalpabuddheenaam sarvatra viditaatmanaam”
Those who indulge in rituals have their Gods in the fire; but the wise folks find Him in their own hearts. It is the dull-witted one that seeks God in an icon. Those who have higher understanding see God in everything.
Sahasraseersham devam viswaaksham viswasambhuvam | viswam naaraayanam devam aksharam paramam padam ||
Narayana is all that constitutes this universe--who has thousand heads, who has his eyes everywhere and who works out the good of all the worlds, who is the immutable supreme Lord and who is the bestower of the fruits of all our deeds.
Viswataha paramaannityam viswam Naaraayanagum Harim; viswamevedam purushaha tad-viswa-mupajeevati
He is the most supreme and the eternal because of his being in everything. This universe is Narayana, Hari. This universe is Purusha alone. This universe exists on account of that Purusha.
Patim viswasyat-mesvaragum saasvatagum sivamachyutam; Naaraayana mahaagneyam viswaatmaanam paraayanam
Narayana is the Lord of the universe. This master is the ruler of himself. He is the eternally auspicious one and he is constant and unchanging. This Narayana is the highest thing to be known. He is the inner-psyche of all. He is the supreme object and the highest goal of attainment.
Naaraayana param Brahma tatvam naaraayanaha paraha; Naaraayana paroe jyotihi aatmaa Naaaraayanaha paraha; naaraayana paroe dhyaata dhyaaanam Naaraayanaha parah
Narayana is the supreme Brahman. Narayana is the supreme Reality. Narayana is the supreme Light. Narayana is the supreme Self. Narayana is the most excellent meditator and meditation.
Yaccha kinchit jagatyasmin drisyate srooyate-pi vaa; antar bahischa tat sarvam vyaapya Naaraayanaha sthitah
Whatever object is seen because of his proximity or heard through report because of its distance in this world, Narayana resides pervading all these objects within and without.
Anantamavyayam kavigum samudrentam viswasambhuvam; padmakoesa-prateekaasagum hridayaanchaap-yadhoemukham
We should meditate upon the Supreme, the Infinite, the Immutable, the Omniscient, the one whose abode is the ocean, the one who is dwelling in the sea of one’s own heart as the goal of all struggles. The location of his meditation is the space in the heart which is comparable to an inverted lotus bud.
Adhoe nishtyaa vitasyaam tu naabhyaam upari tishtati; jwaalamaalaakulaa bhaatee viswasyaayatanam mahat
The heart, which is located just at the distance of a fingr span below the Adam’s apple and above the navel, shines as if wreathed in fire, is the great abode of the universe.
Santatagum siraabhistu lambatyaa koesa sannibham; Tasyaante sushiragum sookshmam tasmin sarvam pratishtitam
The heart is like a slightly closed bud, hangs down being well covered by veins. At the end of that is a subtle hole called sushumna. The Supreme Brahman, the Self of all is located there.
Tasya madhye mahaanagnir viswaarchir viswatoe mukhaha; soegrabhug vibhajantishtan aahaara-majaraha kavihi
In the midst of that heart is a blazing fire spreading in all directions with huge flames surging in all directions. He, the ever awake, the ever roaring stands there, classifying the food and he himself consumes the food first.
Tiryagoordhva madhaha saayee rasmayas tasva santataa; santaapayati svam dehamaapaada-tala-mastakaha
The fire remains assimilating the food consumed, the rays of which spread scattering themselves vertically and horizontally and which warms the body from bottom of its foot to the crown of the head.
Neelatoe-yada-madhyasthaa vidyullekheva bhaasvaraa; neevaara sookavattanvee peetaa bhaasvat yanoopamaa
In the midst of that there is a flame of fire which is subtle and rising above, which is shining like a streak of lighning in the midst of a blue cloud, which is very subtle like the tip of grain, which is self-luminous and which is ioncomparable.
Tasyaaha sikhaayaa madhye Paramaatmaa vyavashtitaha; sa Brahmaa sa Sivaha sendraha soeksharaha parmaha svaraat
The Supreme self is established in the midst of that flame. He is Brahma, Siva, Indra, the material and efficient cause of the universe, the supreme self luminous pure Consciousness, the most liberated master of Karma.
Ritagum satyam param Brahma Purusham krishnapingalam; Oordhvaretam viroopaaksham viswaroopaaya vai namaha
Obeisance to the Supreme Brahma, the Lord of the cosmic form, who is all-pervading, immutable, the one who has an auspicious form of a blac-tawny color, who has eyes that are uncommon in nature.
Om Naaraayanaaya vidmahay Vaasudevaaya dheemahi tannoe Vishnuhu prachodayaat
Vishnu Gayatri—we meditate upon Narayana. For that we devote ourselves on Vaasudeva. May that Lord Vishnu invigorate and impel us!
Om sahanaa vavatu saha nau bhunaktu saha veeryam karavaavahai tejasvi naavadheetamastu maa vidvishaavahai Om saantihi saantihi saantihi
May Brahma protect us both together! May He nourish us both together! May we not quarrel with each other! May we both work together with great energy! May our studies be vigorous and be effective
SOME ADDITIONAL MANTRAS IN VOGUE AS PRACTICED BY DIFFERENT PRIESTS
Mantra chanted during abhisheka with Milk:
Apyayasva 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 Abhisheka with Curds
Dadhikraa vannoe akaarisham jishnoerasvasya vajinah \ surabhinoe mukhaa karat praana aaoo(gam)ci 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.
Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with Melted Butter (ghee):
Sukramaci jyotiraci tejoeci devoevas-savitoe punaatu acchidrena pavitrena vasoes sooryasya rasmibhih ||
May the Lord pure, brilliant, ever-glowing purify us with his sun’rays and vasu deities!
Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with Honey:
Madhuvaataa ritaayate madhuksharanti sindhavah | maadhveernah santyaushadheeh | madhnakta mutoeshaci madhumatpaarthi va(gam)rajah \ madhu dyaurastu nah pitaa | madhmaannoe vanaspatirmadhu ma(ga)m astu sooryah | madhveergaavoe bhavantu nah||
May (breeze) seasons be pleasant to us! May rivers flow with honey! May plants be healthy! May nights and mornings be pleasant! May dust from the Earth be soothing! May the heavens like our fathers, plant kingdom and the Sun be pleasnt to us! May the cows yield plentiful of sweet milk!
Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with Sugar:
Swaaduh pavasya divyaaya janmane | svaadurindraaya suhaveetu naamne | svaadurmitraaya varunaaya | vaayave brihaspataye madhu mam 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 flow for deities Mitra, Varuna, Vaayu and Brihaaspati!
Mantra chanted during Abhisheka with tender Coconut-water
Yah phalaneeryaa 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 to eradicate all of our sins.
Agama – Temple worship
The worship of deities in public or at home might be the immediate cause for emergence of Agama traditions. The Agamas in the present day find their full expression in temple- worship. They form the basis for worship practices at temples, as it exists today. They prescribe the structure and architecture of various kinds of temples, the customs to be followed, the rituals to be performed and the festivals to be celebrated. They in fact cover the entire gamut of activities associated with temples, its activities and its purpose.
The Agamas deal with all types of worship practices followed either in temples or at home; either in communities or in private; either through image or formless fire or otherwise. The worship in a temple has to satisfy the needs of individuals as also of the community. Agamas accommodate collective worship along with individual worship that is characteristically private when performed at home. The worships that take place in the sanctum and within the temple premises are important; so are the festivals and occasional processions that involve direct participation of the entire community. They complement each other. While the worship of the deity in the sanctum might be an individual’s spiritual or religious need; the festivals are the expression of a community’s joy, exuberance, devotion, pride and are also an idiom of a community’s cohesiveness.
The temple worship ritual has two other distinct aspects; the symbolic and the actual which is secondary. The former is the inner worship (manasa puja or antar yajna) of the antaryamin (the inner being) residing in one’s heart; and the latter is external worship characterized by splendor, spectacle and an overflow of religious fervor. The inner worship involving Tantric rituals that takes place in the privacy of the sanctum is more significant than the external worship. These are in a sequence such as shuddhi (purification of elements), mudras (assumption of appropriate and effective gestures), pranayama (regulation of breath to enable contemplation of the divinity), dhyana (contemplation), sohambhava (identity of the worshipper with the worshipped), mantra (words to help realize the deity in worshipper’s heart) and mandala (diagrams representing aspects of divinity). In manasa puja, God is the worshipper’s innermost spirit. The worshipper visualizes and contemplates on the resplendent form of the deity as abiding in his own heart. As regards the external worship it involves several kinds of service sequences (Shodasha Upachara) submitted, in full view of the worshipping devotees, to the personified god who is revered as the most venerated guest and as the Lord of Lords who presides over the universe (lokadyaksha). The services are rendered with gratitude, love and devotion to the accompaniment of chanting of passages and mantras taken from Vedas. The worship routine is rendered more colorful and attractive by presentations of music, dance, drama and other performing arts. These also ensure larger participation of the enthusiastic devotees. Thus, at the temple, both the Agama worship-sequences and the symbolic Tantric rituals take place; but each in its sphere.
The worship practices that are followed in the temples are truly an amalgam of dissimilar streams of ideologies and practices. The rituals here are a combination of concepts, procedures and symbolism. Each of these finds its relevance in its own context, without conflict or contradiction. The temple and iconic worship may appear like tantric. However, in practice the worship at temples involves both homa and archa rituals. The Agama mode of worship invariably borrows the mantras from the Vedic traditions along with ritualistic details from Tantric traditions. Vedic mantras are chanted in traditional manner while performing services such as ceremonial bath, adoring the deity with flowers, or waving lights. Apart from that, the Agama practices combine in themselves the elements from yoga, purana and Janapada the popular celebrations where all segments of the community joyously participate with great enthusiasm and devotion. The Janapada includes periodic Utsavas, processions, singing, dancing, playacting, colorful lighting, spectacular fire-works , offerings of various kinds etc.; as also various forms of physical austerities accompanied by sincere prayers.41.5. You find that temple worship is judicious mix (misra) of: the Vedic mantras and its vision of the divine; the tantric rituals with their elaborate symbolisms; the Agamic worship practices, attitudes and devotion; the discipline of Yoga and its symbolic purification gestures; and, the exuberance and gaiety of folk festivals, processions and celebrations in which the entire community participates with great enthusiasm. All these elements combine harmoniously in the service of the deity and create an integrated Temple –culture.
These are the compilations of series of lectures delivered to the Vedanta Class at Sri Ganesha Temple in the past by N.R. Srinivasan from the following sources:
1) Writings from Pandits in Telugu (Pooja Vidhanamu), Tamil, Kannada and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam publication (TTD) on the subject.
2) Swami Chinmayananda, The Universal Person, Central Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai 400072
3) Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Symbolism in Hinduism, Central Chimaya Mission Trust, Mumbai 400072
4) S.K. Ramachandra Rao, Indian Temple Tradition & Vishnu Kosha, Kalpataru Research Academy, Sringeri Sarada Peetham, Bangalore 560004
5) Sunita & Sundar Ramasamy, Vedic Heritage Teaching Manual, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Saylosburg, Pa, USA.
[This series of lectures serve as a guide for understanding the various steps in Shoedas Upachaara Pooja, though voluminous. Essentialy these also serve as a guide to all the five deities mentioned in the Panchaayatana pooja—Vishnu, Siva, Ganesha, Subhramanya and Devi as well as their contingents. It is customary to chant Rudram and Chamakam for Siva, Ganesha and Subhramanya and Sreesooktam for Devis replacing Purushasooktam. Only names of Vishnu are chanted during Aaacahmanam for all the deities.]
This can be conveniently downloaded and kept as a guide for constant use. It is not a substitute to Aaagama Pooja Manuals from Vedic scholars followed by priests in the ritual.