| || || |
Study of Hindu Religion.
Heritage Study Program
Rituals and Prayers
| || |
| || |
simple and complicated rotinue of rituals to condition the thoughts
Vibhoothim Yogam Cha; Mama Yo Ve'tthi Thatthvathah: |
Yogena Yujyate' Naathra Samsayah ||
Bhagavat Gita - Chapter X - 7.
who knows about this manifestation of My divine majesties and My power unites
Me in steady and unfaltering communion. About this there is no doubt.
and Pooja at Homes and at the Temples
"Poojas" at home and at the Temples follow the traditions and rules established
in the Agamas and in Bhakthi form of the religion. The Temples are established
as the Palace of the God as manifested in the earth for a form of the Incarnation
that is represented at the Temple. Most Temples will have Sanctum for several
forms of God, though it may have one form as the Main Deity. The temple worship
has evolved over the years as a service to God as the King or the leader of the
land. Here, an image of a likeness of a manifestation of God is consecrated after
several days of Holy Rituals. Without these rituals for consecration, the Image
does not get the Divine powers more than the respect for a statue in a museum.
Once so sanctified, all rituals are performed as done to a live King or leader
of the land. The Deity is woken up every morning with a morning service with ceremonial
bath with water, milk and other perfumed substances, dressing up with cloths and
Jewelry. The services are repeated four to six times or more every day, with offering
of food as "prasadam" and singing prayers and songs in praise of the Deity and
reading of the Scriptures. After this "Aarthi" of lighted camphor is performed
for every one to see the Deity -"Dharshan." The service concludes with the offering
of Prasadams of fruits, flowers and food to the devotees attending the congregation
and services. Often the services are individual and for the families rather than
to a mass of congregation.
| || |
spirit of sacrifice and offering of ones belonging is stressed in these services.
The devotees take what is given back to them as "Prasadams", let it be holy water,
ashes, kumkum, a flower, a fruit or a full meal. The prayer services at home are
also very similar in practice. Often there is a prayer room. Sometimes, a special
area is arranged to perform the home prayer services. Here, prayer services are
offered to a Picture, small Vigraha or a lamp which is sanctified by rituals for
the occasion. The Divine powers of the form of God offered prayer on that occasion
is represented in this. The rituals are simple, first invites God as a guest to
the house. Then, a ritualistic bathing and offering of cloths. Then, there will
be prayers and singing of songs and offering of food which is then offered to
members of the family and friends.
| || || |
| || || |
Devatha and Adhikara for Pooja
and Meaning of the Practice of Prayers.
part of Hindu Religious practice among the common people consists of ritualistic
form of worship for God in the various forms of Deities of Saguna Brahmam, called
Avathara. It follows prayers offered to God in the devotional path as a worship
to a Pratika [picture], Prathima or Vigraha [statue],
Yanthra [a geometric drawing] or a Linga, following the rules
and traditions established in the Agamas and Sasthras. Sri Adhi Sankara, in addition
to the Advaitha Philosophy explaining that the Self as part of the Divine Nirguna
Brahmam, established a school for prayers to the Saguna Brahmam is His six Forms
called the Shanmatha Sthapanam. He established the rules for the six types of
prayers to God at home as 1. Ganesha, 2. Kumara [Karthikeya], 3. Surya [Sun],
4. Siva, 5. Vishnu, 6. Sakthi. The main tenets of the practice is by prayers
to "Ishta Devatha." The methods of learning and doing the various types
of prayers to the Ishta Devatha is governed by the rules of "Doctorine of Adhikara."
By this doctorine, the religious teachings and methods of worship that is taught
or imparted varies from person to person, according to the various schools they
prayer rituals are usually taught and given specially to persons follwing certain
tradition as a form of initiation to that form of worship practice. This is very
much like specialty training and certification in modern day professions. One
is not authorized to perform rituals of their choice unless trained and initiated
in the same by a properly qualified teacher [Guru]. Accordingly, there
are special rules and restrictions for pooja for Sri Siva, Sri Sakthi and Sri
Vishnu in their various forms. Only a person who has received the religious teaching
from a Sivacharya Guru shall perform pooja for Sivalinga. Similarly, only a guru
who has understood the manthra of "Sri Viddhai" can teach the pooja
methods of Sri Chakram to his Devotees. In the past, mostly men have been learning
and performing these types of poojas. Very few women took these types of ritualistic
worship. Most people performed prayers at home just by lighting a lamp for a collection
of pictures and images of various Avatharas of God in their prayer room and recited
some songs for prayer.
and Meaning of Deepa Pooja
special form of prayer for the uninitiated Devotees
One of the important
form of worship is prayer to a lamp, to the flame or Jyothi, instead of a Vigraha
or a picture, worshipping it as a form of the Deity of their choice [Ishta Devatha].
As we believe, God as Nirguna Brahmam, comes to take the forms of various Avatharas
as Saguna Brahmam and also manifests Himself in the phenomenal Universe as its
five elements -"Pancha Bootham." Vedas say that God exists in the five
elements. Aagama Sasthra and Bhootha Suddhi Manthra say that God manifests in
Sky [Space] as Sound, in Air as Sound and Sense of Touch,
in Fire as Sound, Sense and Shape of things, in Water as
Sound, Sense, Shape and Taste of objects, in Earth as Sound,
Sense, Shape, Taste and Smell. "Thvam, Bhoomi, Aapo, Anilo, Analo Napaha"
a verse from Ganapathy Adharva Sheerisha Upanishad, which means
that God is in Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky. Hence, people worship the Lord
as the various elements and receive the Divine blessings. As light or fire, the
Deepa Jyothi represent one of the five elements as a manifestation of God.
Many people perform
prayer rituals to the lamp, "Deepa Jyothi" as an alternative to the traditional
Vigraha worship of the devotional path. There is a practice of offering prayers
to Sri Ganesha, Durga, Devi, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Ayyappan and many other forms
of Deities in the form of Jyothi in a Deepa pooja. Most often Deepa Pooja is performed
by Devotees not initiated in proper Vigraha Pooja, either alone or in groups at
home or in a temple. Traditionally, women do not take up or get initiated into
the pooja for Siva Linga or Sakthi Yanthra and Deepa Pooja is the most important
alternative for them. Most men also have not had proper training in prayer methods
or received the proper initiation of offering the necessary prayers to their Ishta
Devatha according to the rules of Agama. Many of them are very religious and want
to get the benefits for prayers. It is widely believed that God accepts the prayers
through this Deepa Pooja very easily and very soon. There are no major restrictions
or rules of the doctorine of Adhikara for this deepa pooja. The Deepa Pooja can
be performed every evening. Those women who are unable to perform pooja with lamps
every evening, may try to do it once a week, preferably on Friday evenings.
of Nithya Karma and Prayer Services
Sanskaras, Sandhya and Family Rituals
in addition to referring to our duty and activity for living, also refer to Vedic
Karma or our spiritual duties. Thus study of the scriptures and performances of
the vedic ritual are as important as the performance of one's Dharma or duty to
the community according to one's birth and profession and stage of life. Every
one has to perform all their daily duties according to their Varna-Ashrama Dharma
and their education and vocational training. They need to do the Sandhya rituals
and Sanskaras and the Yagnas to people, animals, ancestors, celestial bodies and
to God. All these have an important effect on our family, our future births and
ultimate liberation from the Samsara or cycle of rebirth. The daily Vedic rituals
performed are called Nithya Karma like the Sandhya rituals, various Yagnas and
Sanskaras. Rituals of Sandhya and Sanskara are prayers offered to the gods through
water, fire and Sun. Contrary to popular belief, a Karma Yogi also has duties
of offering his prayers to the Divine through Nithya Karma. He also performs his
work as a service to God, as he sees God in every one.
are the most important rituals that a Hindu is expected to perform in the house
every day, three times a day. These are rituals performed at dawn, noon and at
dusk to God, to the Sun and to ancestors. Yajna rituals are offered to Vedic Gods
such as Prajapathi, Indra, Varuna, Purusha, Rudra and the Deities of the nine
planets. The Vedic gods are the custodians of our social well being and only from
our sacrificial oblations in Yagnas, they draw their sustenance. The Pancha-Maha
Yajnas which are important include Brahma Yajna or sacrifices to Brahmam, to Vedas
and to sages, Deva Yajna to celestials, Pitri Yajna for ancestors, Bhutha Yajna
to all creatures and Manushya Yajna to fellow men. There are fifty-two Sanskaras
which are listed as rituals performed at home, of which ten are important. These
Sanskara rituals like Simanthonnayana, Namakarana, Annaprasana, Chudakarana, Upanayana,
Samvarthana and Vivaha, are for family events.
There are also funerary rituals which are performed after death of a person and
srardha ceremonies which are rituals to ancestors performed by family members.