Study of Hindu Religion
Pooja & Prayers to Ishta Devatha
of Prayers and Pooja at Home
Raja Rathnam Bhattar
Emeritus, Sri Meenakshi Temple, Pearland, Texas, USA
religions teach that prayers rituals are very important to get devotion to God.
The religions or lands may vary but this belief of importance of prayers is stressed
in all faiths. Our ancestors have given us the gift of the rules of community
worship in a Temple for the welfare of the people of the community as a whole
and the prosperity of the world. They have given us the rules of prayers at home
as essential for the welfare of the individuals and their family. The basic and
essential principle behind the prayer is the total surrender to God who fills
the universe by His glory and is present everywhere and that without His command
even an atom will not move.
rules of prayer services in a Hindu Temple is given in the three Agamas and Upa-agamas.
There are 28 Siva Agamas and several upa-agamas. Vaishnava Agamas are 5, including
Pancharathram and Vaikanasam and have 108 Paththadhis. We do not need to study
these Agamas to perform prayer [Pooja] at home. It is enough to accept the fact
in a pure heart and mind, as given to us by our ancestors that God is present
everywhere in every form and He will accept every kind of our prayers. Our Puranas
explain in many stories that God accepts and blesses everyone who prays, not only
humans but also animals and birds.
an example, there is a story in Mahabharatha. Arjuna was performing regularly
pooja for Athma lingam, but his brother were not doing the same. He felt very
proud of his devotional worship to God. As Sri Krishna wanted to control his ego,
took him to Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva. The Arjuna saw large number of
baskets of flowers being carried by the Boothaganas. When Arjuna asked Sri Krishna
about it, He asked Arjuna to check himself with those carrying the flowers. He
stopped one of them asked about it. He got the reply that one of the Pancha Pandavas
named Bheema who has been offering these flowers in a pure heart to the lord which
they are carrying. Arjuna asked Sri Krishna that if the pure heart flowers of
Bheema who does not ever sit down to worship is this much, how much will it be
for his own Athmalinga pooja which is performed every day. Sri Krishna asked the
Bhoothagana to show Arjuna his portion of the flowers offered. They showed a small
mound of flowers lying in one corner. Arjuna asked Sri Krishna to explain this
disparity. Sri Krishna explained that, Bheema is thinking of God at all times
and whenever he sees a flower garden, he mentally offers all the flowers to Siva
as his offering and so it reaches Siva the very next moment. Thus, Sri Krishna
explains the Inner self pooja called antharyagam.
is not necessary to learn all the rules and sasthras of an eloborate pooja before
performing one. As an example, an illiterate hunter, Sri Kannappa Nayanar saw
the Divine after three days of prayer. A young boy Nambiyandar Nambi, while his
priest father had gone out of town performed pooja in his place at the Temple
and had the Darsan of God on the same day. By understanding these puranas, we
should always allot few minutes of time to perform pooja without any fear that
God may punish us if we do the pooja improperly. However, it is always good to
learn proper methods to perform the pooja, even a simple and short one, just like
any science or art.
say that in Kali Yuga, Prabaththi path is the important way. In Samskrit, prabaththi
is explained as Pooja. We have puranas which explain how an elephant prayer "Aathimoolam"
-- with a flower was saved and the hunter who was saved from a tiger on Sivarathri
day by reaching a Bilva tree. These tell us that pooja and prayer to God is essential.
pooja everyday at least for a few minutes leads one to develop inner purity and
peace. One can perform this pooja in a short way or in an elaborate way. This
is called "Anmaartha Pooja" in the Vedas. One method is to get religious order
[Samayadheeksha] from a learned Guru to perform pooja for Sivalinga or Salagrama
elaborately according to Sasthras. Another simpler method is to perform pooja
for a Moorthy as a picture or to a Deepa as lamp. Both the above method are of
let us see the explanations of proper pooja
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following three are the style of Pooja performed in a Temple.
Upachara Pooja -- [has 16 upacharas];
Pooja -- [ has 10 upachara];
Pooja -- [has 5 upachara].
a pooja performed after receiving the religious deeksha and special deeksha from
a Guru. Persons who receives this deeksha should perform the pooja every day without
fail. It does not mean that God will punish the one who fails to perform properly.
The Guru who offered the deeksha tells the disciple that the pooja should be performed
without fail and from that day, the disciple also can teach and offer this any
one asking for it. Since the disciple accepts this as promise it should be performed
to pass on this tradition.
is the pooja offered to a Moorthy in the form of a figurine or a picture
this, one does not need the special deeksha. This can be performed in a simple
short way. First, one should understand the proper rules and methods to perform
the pooja. Let us first see which way we should keep the figurine or the picture
and which way the person should sit to perform the pooja.
the picture of figurine is kept facing East, the person should sit on the
right side facing North. If it faces North, they should sit facing
East. They should not sit in front of the image facing it directly. If
these two directions are not possible, then we can set the image facing West
and sit in front of the Image facing East and perform pooja. One should
not sit on the right side facing South to perform pooja. One should not
sit on the left side of the Image. The Image should not be set facing South.
The person should not sit facing South.It is not proper according to sasthra
to eat food prior to performing the pooja. When it is possible, one should always
learn from a Guru about the proper sasthras and rules and receive deeksha before
performing pooja at home.
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steps of performing pooja at home:
Persons performing the pooja should cleanse themselves for manthra.
Manthrasuddhi: They should cleanse their mind to recite the manthra.
Dhiraviyasuddhi: They should clean all articles used in the pooja.
Lingasuddhi: They should clean the Image or picture used in the pooja.
Andharyaagam: For the Divine who is in our thoughts all the time, to pray
through our thoughts. [concentration]
perform the prayer service with rituals for the vigraha (outside us).
pray and invite the Divine in our heart to come out to reside in the Image being
light a lamp, offer argyam, paathyam, achamaneeyam and do an abhishekam.
decorate the image with cloth and flowers.
pray with offering of flowers.
we can light a lamp, agarbhatti or burning incense or camphor to perform the pooja
Japa Samarpanam: Through the Manthras of the Deity, recite the prayers manthras
108 or 54 or 27 times in the mind and offer flowers.
Prarthana: Recite Devotional prayer songs in any languge of choice, like Thevaram,
Thiruvachagam or any other devotional songs.
Yathasthanam, Padhyam, Achamaniyam, and Argyam are offered to the Image and
praying with thanks to the Divine force whch came from our heart to get in back
Performing a pooja to Dvanichandar - the Upa-Devatha of the main Deity like Sri
Chandikeswarar for Siva - offering the flowers and Prasadam that was offered to
the Divine and praying to bless us with the effects of the service to us.
At the conclusion of pooja, the prasadam are distributed and taken by everyone.
above are the rules of athmartha pooja rules according to Agamas and sasthras.
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let us see the steps for a simple and short Pooja. || |
of one of the Simple and short method to perform Pooja.
will perform: Dhyanam, Avahanam, Archana, Doopam, Deepam and Prarthana.
Perform the simple Pooja for Sri Ganesha [Sri Vinayaka] we need:
of the Deity Sri Ganesha.
or Akshada [dry rice with turmeric]
like fruits, Sweets or Milk, Camphor, Agarbathi,
[cup], Uttharani [spoon], Argyapathram [a small vessel or plate
is a short form to perform the Daily Pooja.
- Dhyanam: [Meditation] -- to pray that the deity who resides in our heart
is invited to come into the picture that we are going to do the Pooja.
- Avaahanam: -- to pray that the Divine powers should remain in that site
until we complete our Pooja.
- Archana: - to recite the great names of the Deity several times and offer
flowers or akshada as we perform the Pooja.
- Doopam: - To pray through the perfumed incense smoke and light.
- Deepam: - To use a Ghee lamp light and pray to God in the form of the Flame.
- Nivedhanam: [Prasadam] - to offer food items like fruits,or sweet or milk.
- Uttharaneerañjanam: - Deepa offerings with lighted Camphor.
- Prarthana: - to sing or say the praise of thr Lord anf pray.
- Then we pray thanking the Lord and receive Him back into our heart.