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  Special Articles on Hindu Dharma ~ Level - 3 ~  
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HR 311.05 - 05
How did we get the Several forms of Rituals and Prayers in Practice
~ Level - 3 ~
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Lesson:
5- 05: Nithya Karma, Sanskãra and Temple prayers
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Various Traditions for Prayers as Individuals and in Groups
 
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The Vedic traditions of Hindu Dharma prescribes an elaborate set of daily and periodic rituals to be performed for God, Its manifestations, Celestial forces, nine planets, angels and also the departed souls of our ancestors. Here, in our traditions, the direction of East where the Sun raises is the direction for God, North is for the Celestial forces and angels and South is for our Ancestors. The study of the scriptures and performances of the Vedic ritual are as important as the performance of one's Dharma or duty.

The Vedic rituals performed are called nithya karma like the sandhya rituals, various Yajñas and Sanskaras. All these Karma have an important effect on our family, our future births and ultimate liberation from the Samsara or cycle of rebirth. Rituals of sandhya and sanskara are prayers offered to the gods through water, fire and Sun. Sandhya are the most important Vedic rituals that a Hindu is expected to perform in the house every day, three times a day, at dawn, noon and at dusk.

Yajna are rituals offered to Vedic Gods. 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, as prayers to the Supreme and other Celestial Gods; Deva Yajna as study of Texts and teaching others of the Divine messages, Pitri Yajna for ancestors and Sages, Bhutha Yajna as service to all plants and animals and Manushya Yajna to fellow men. There are fifty-two Sanskãras which are listed as rituals performed at home, of which ten are important. There are also funerary rituals and srardha ceremonies which are rituals to ancestors performed by family members.

In Hindu Temples, an Icon or Moorthy in the likeness of a manifestation of God is ceremonially installed for our daily prayers following the rules established in Ãgama Texts. The powers of the Divine force reside in the Moorthy at all times after installation and daily prayers are to be offered by ordained priests. The Hindu Temple is considered like the palace of the Gods who reside there permanently with all the Divine powers. In home prayer services, the prayers are offered to Ishta Devathas in a prayer room or a temporary altar with one or many pictures or small vigrahas representing the manifestation of God. Here Sasthra rules are followed.

Every time the prayer service is offered, an initial sankalpam is performed. The Divine powers residing inside our heart or the self is brought forth and requested to temporarily reside in the Prathima for the benefit of prayer. At the end of the rituals It is taken back. Devotees, who do not have the knowledge or the Adhikãra to perform such rituals, perform some simple Bhakthi prayer services. Most others, without the full knowledge or the Adhikãra, also follow the rules of Deepa Puja to a lamp, or prayer service in other forms.

 

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Chapter - 5: Principles behind the Practice of Temple Rituals ~Lesson - 5- 05~
 
Lessons :~: 5- 01 :~: 5- 02 :~: 5- 03 :~: 5- 04 :~: 5- 05 :~: 5- 06 :~: 5- 07 :~: 5- 08 :~: 5- 09 :~: 5- 10 :~:
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