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 Brahman, called Avathara. It follows prayers offered to
God in the devotional path as 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.
Adhi Sankara, in addition to the Advaitha Philosophy explaining that
the Self as part of the Divine Nirguna Brahman, established a school
for prayers to the Saguna Brahman 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.
main tenets of the practice are by prayers to "Ishta Devatha."
The methods of learning and doing the various types of prayers to
the Ishta Devatha are governed by the rules of "Doctrine of
Adhikara." By this doctrine, the religious teachings and
methods of worship that is taught vary from person to person, according
to the various schools they follow.
prayers are performed following two major principles of Hindu Dharma
that are the pillars of the Hindu faith and practice - namely Ishta
Devatha and Adhikara. Special prayer rituals are usually taught and
given specially to persons following certain tradition as a form of
initiation to that form of worship practice. 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.
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.