Yoga Sadhana - How to Worship Lord Shiva in Various Ways?
Lord Shiva is worshipped in His Saguna aspect in the form of Shivalingam. Generally
Shivabhaktas do Panchayatana Puja. In this Puja, Lord Shiva, Ganesa, Parvati, Suryanarayana
and Saligram are duly worshipped.
Get the Panchayatana Murtis on an auspicious day. Install them with great faith
in your own house. Conduct special prayers, Archana, Puja, Abhisheka, and feeding
of Brahmins, Mahatmas and the poor on a grand scale. Install the deity in a separate
room. Worship the Lord daily with all sincerity and faith. You will have all wealth,
peace of mind, attainment of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha also. You will lead
a prosperous life and enter the Immortal abode of Shiva-Sayujya, on death.
Collect plenty of Bael or Bilva leaves for Lord Shiva’s worship. Get ready Dhupa,
Dipa, camphor, sandal-sticks, fresh water, plenty of flowers, food offerings to
the Lord, a seat to sit upon, a bell, conch and other things required for the Puja
before you begin the worship. Get up in the early morning before sunrise. Wash your
face. Take bath. Wear silk dress separately kept for Puja purposes. Decorate the
Puja room nicely. Enter the room chanting Lord’s names, glorifying Him, repeating
Hymns in His praise and prostrating before the Lord. Wash your feet before entering
the room. Sit in a comfortable posture and commence your worship. You have to first
of all do Sankalpa for beginning the Puja in the prescribed method. You should then
do Kalasa (water vessel), Sankha (conch), Atma (self) and Pitha (Lord’s seat) Puja
in their order. You should then offer Shodasopachara Puja to the Lord and then repeat
Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, Rudrapatha, Purushasukta, Gayatri, and do Abhisheka with
pure water, milk, sugarcane juice, ghee and other articles according to your capacity
or with pure water alone. Rudrabhisheka is highly beneficial. If you do Rudra Japa
and Abhisheka, all your worries and agonies will disappear and you will attain the
highest beatitude of human existence by the grace of Lord Visvanath. Rudra is a
great purifier. There is invisible hidden power in Rudra and Purushasukta. There
is a wonderful inspiration in the recitation of Rudra. Start the worship and realise
its glory and splendour for yourself.
After Abhisheka, decorate the Lord nicely with sandal paste and flowers. Then do
Archana repeating His names, ‘Om Shivaya Namah’, ‘Om Mahesvaraya Namah’, etc. Do
daily 108 or 1008 Archanas if possible. After Archana, do Arati with different kinds
of lights—single Arati, Triple Arati, Pancha Arati and Karpura Arati. Ring bells,
cymbals, conch, etc., during Arati. Offer sacred Prasad or Naivedya to the Lord.
After Arati is over, sing the praises of the Lord like Mahimna Stotra, Panchakshara
Stotra, etc., waving the Chamara. In the end repeat the prayers ‘Kayena vachah’,
‘Atma tvam Girija matih’, and ‘Kara-charana-kritam’. Offer everything to the Lord.
Feel that you are a mere instrument in His hands. Do everything for obtaining the
divine grace only. Develop Nimitta Bhava. Serve the Bhaktas. The Lord is much pleased
with the service of His devotees. Distribute the Prasad among the Bhaktas in the
end. Take the Prasad with great faith. The glory of Bhagavan’s Prasad is indescribable.
Vibhuti is taken as Prasad and applied to the forehead.
When you advance in Saguna worship with external objects of worship, you can begin
Manasa Puja. You will have Darsana of the Lord and final emancipation.
Have special Pujas on Mondays and Pradosha (thirteenth day of every fortnight—Trayodasi)
days. These days and Shivaratri (in the month of February-March) are very sacred
for Lord Shiva. Celebrate the Shivaratri on a grand scale. Fast the whole day. Have
Trikala Puja, special Abhisheka, Ekadasa-rudra-japa, Sahasrarchana, vigil in the
night, study of hymns of Lord Shiva, Shivapurana, hearing discourses on the Lilas
of Lord Shiva. After Puja on the next day, break your fast with Abhisheka water.
Offer sacred food offerings and partake of the Divine Prasad. You will have great
mental peace, and spiritual advancement. Never miss this opportunity. Daily worship
is a sure remedy for all ills. You will never suffer from poverty. Take my word
and begin the Puja right from this day onwards.
Shiva Manasa Puja
Manasa Puja is mental worship. Manasa Puja is more powerful and effective than the
external worship with flowers, sandals, etc. You will have more concentration when
you do Manasa Puja.
Mentally enthrone the Lord on a Simhasana, set with diamonds, pearls, emeralds,
etc. Offer Him a seat. Offer Arghya, Madhuparka and various sorts of flowers, clothes,
etc. Apply sandal paste to His forehead and body. Burn incense and Agarbatti (scented
sticks). Wave lights. Burn camphor and do Arati. Offer various kinds of fruits,
sweetmeats, Payasa, cocoanut and Mahanaivedyam. Do Shodasa-upachara or the sixteen
kinds of offerings in worship.
Panchakshara Mantra Writing
Write down in a fine note book ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ for half an hour or more. You will
have more concentration by taking recourse to this Sadhana. Write the Mantra in
ink clearly. When you write the Mantra observe Mouna. You may write the Mantra in
any language. Give up looking hither and thither. Repeat the Mantra mentally also
when you write the Mantra. Write the whole Mantra at once. When the Mantra notebook
is completed, keep it in a box in your meditation room. Be regular in your practice.
Keep a small notebook in your pocket and write Mantra when you get leisure in the
office. Have three things in your pocket, viz., the Gita, Mantra notebook and a
Japa Mala or rosary. You will be immensely benefited.
Japa and meditation of the sacred names of Lord Shiva will free you from all sins
and lead you to the attainment of Shiva Jnanam or eternal bliss and immortality.
Shiva-nama is the very soul of all Mantras.
Lord Shiva has manifested in the world in sixty different aspects. Vrishabharudha,
Hari-hara, Nataraja, Bhairava, Dakshinamurti, Ardhanarisvara, Bhikshatana, Somasekharamurti,
Urdhvanatana, Kalasamhara, Jalandhara, Surasamhara, Lingodbhava are His forms.
Shiva means that which is eternally happy or auspicious, Parama-mangala. Om and Shiva
are one. Mandukya Upanishad says: ‘Santam Shivam Advaitam’. Even an outcaste can
meditate on the name of Lord Shiva.
Shiva manifests in the Gayatri Mantra, Agni and in the Sun. When you repeat Gayatri
and when you worship the Agni and the Sun, you should meditate on Lord Shiva.
Japa of Panchakshara and meditation of Lord Shiva should be particularly done in
the Pradosha Kala or just before the sunset. The Pradosha on the thirteenth Tithi
after a full moon or a new moon day, is known as the Mahapradosha. The Devas visit
Shiva temples for the worship of the Lord at this period. You can worship the Devas
also if you visit temples during Mahapradosha. Devotees of Lord Shiva observe full
fast on Mahapradosha days.
A devotee of Lord Shiva should apply Vibhuti to his forehead and body. He should
wear a Rudrakshamala. He should worship the Shivalinga with leaves of the Bilva tree.
He should do Japa and meditation of the Panchakshara ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. Lord Shiva
is propitiated by everyone of these actions. Vibhuti or Bhasma is very sacred. It
is worn by Lord Shiva Himself. The bead of a Rudrakshamala represents the third eye
on the forehead of Lord Shiva. Bilva leaves are regarded to be one of the five abodes
of Lakshmi or the Goddess of wealth.
It is Shiva only who causes bondage and Mukti for the Jivas. It is Shiva who makes
the Jivas realise their essential Divine Nature. Shiva made Maya as the body, senses
and the Universe and thrust the Jivas into the Maya. He created the idea of egoism,
‘I’-ness in them. He bound them in Karma and made them experience pleasure and pain
according to the nature of their Karmas, virtuous actions or vicious deeds. This
is the stage of bondage of the Jivas.
Gradually it is Shiva only who releases them from the fetters of egoism, Karma and
Maya and makes them shine as Shiva. This is the state of Moksha or freedom. It is
only through the grace of Lord Shiva, they attain the state of final emancipation.
The Jivas have no independence, when they are under the influence of the three impurities,
i.e., Anava, Karma and Maya. They are endowed with a little knowledge (Alpajnana).
The Jiva must first know his nature and his relationship with Lord Shiva in order
to attain His grace. Life or Prana is in the body. Lord Shiva is within the Prana.
He is the Prana of Pranas, and yet He is distinct from the Pranas and body. If there
is no Prana in the body, the body becomes a corpse. It cannot perform any action.
Shiva is the support for this body, Prana and Jiva. The Jiva cannot do any action
without Shiva. It is Shiva who illumines the intellect. Just as the eye cannot see
without the light of the sun, although it is endowed with the power to see, so also
the intellect cannot function without the light of Lord Shiva.
The four Sadhanas, viz., Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Jnana are the four steps to attain
Salvation. They are like the bud, flower, unripe fruit and ripe fruit.
Lord Shiva gradually frees the individual souls from egoism, Karma and Maya. The
Jivas gradually become disgusted with the sensual pleasures. They become balanced
in pleasure and pain. Through the grace of the Lord they understand that Karma is
the cause for births and deaths. They begin to do actions for the Lord, serve the
devotees of the Lord and attain purity of mind. They understand that the soul or
Shiva is distinct from the body, senses and mind and is beyond the reach of mind
and speech. They get initiation into the significance of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, the
Panchakshara Mantra and meditate on Shiva.
They practise Shiva Yoga. Their hearts melt. Seer, sight and seen vanish. All the
activities of senses, mind and intellect cease. They bathe Lord Shiva with the stream
of Divine Love that is generated in their heart and offer their heart as flower
unto the Lord.
They hear the sound ‘Chilambosai’ and march forward through the path of the sound
and behold the vision of Nataraja in the Chidakasa and are immersed in the ocean
of Shivananda. They become one with the Lord, just as camphor melts in the fire.
Worship of Shiva Linga
The popular belief is that the Shiva Lingam represents the phallus or the virile
organ, the emblem of the generative power or principle in nature. This is not only
a serious mistake, but also a grave blunder. In the post-Vedic period, the Linga
became symbolical of the generative power of the Lord Shiva. Linga is the differentiating
mark. It is certainly not the sex-mark. You will find in the Linga Purana: Pradhanam
prakritir yadahur-lingamuttamam; Gandhavarnarasairhinam sabda-sparsadi-varjitam—The
foremost Linga which is primary and is devoid of smell, colour, taste, hearing,
touch, etc., is spoken of as Prakriti (Nature).
Linga means ‘mark’, in Sanskrit. It is a symbol which points to an inference. When
you see a big flood in a river, you infer that there had been heavy rains the previous
day. When you see smoke, you infer that there is fire. This vast world of countless
forms is a Linga of the Omnipotent Lord. The Shiva Linga is a symbol of Lord Shiva.
When you look at the Linga, your mind is at once elevated and you begin to think
of the Lord.
Lord Shiva is really formless. He has no form of his own and yet all forms are His
forms. All forms are pervaded by Lord Shiva. Every form is the form or Linga of Lord
There is a mysterious power or indescribable Sakti in the Linga, to induce concentration
of the mind. Just as the mind is focussed easily in crystal-gazing, so also the
mind attains one-pointedness, when it looks at the Linga. That is the reason why
the ancient Rishis and the seers of India have prescribed Linga for being installed
in the temples of Lord Shiva.
Shiva Linga speaks to you in the unmistakable language of silence: “I am one without
a second, I am formless”. Pure, pious souls only can understand this language. A
curious passionate, impure foreigner of little understanding or intelligence says
sarcastically: “Oh, the Hindus worship the phallus or sex organ. They are ignorant
people. They have no philosophy”. When a foreigner tries to learn Tamil or Hindustani
language, he first tries to pick up some vulgar words. This is his curiosity nature.
Even so, the curious foreigner tries to find out some defects in the worship of
symbol. Linga is only the outward symbol of the formless being, Lord Shiva, who is
the indivisible, all-pervading, eternal, auspicious, ever-pure, immortal essence
of this vast universe, who is the undying Soul seated in the chambers of your heart,
who is your Indweller, innermost Self or Atman, and who is identical with the Supreme
A Shiva Linga consists of three parts, the lowest of which is the Brahma-Pitha, the
middle one, the Vishnu-Pitha and the uppermost one, the Shiva-Pitha.
Some are Svayambhu-lingas, some are Narmadesvaras. There are twelve Jyotirlingas
and five Pancha Bhuta Lingas in India. The twelve Jyotir-lingas are: Kedarnath,
Kasi Visvanath, Somanath, Baijnath, Ramesvar, Ghrusnesvar, Bhimasankar, Mahakala,
Mallikarjuna, Amalesvar, Nagesvar and Tryambakesvar. The five Pancha Bhuta Lingas
are: Kalahastisvar, Jambukesvar, Arunachalesvar, Ekambaresvar of Kanjivaram and
Nataraja of Chidambaram. The temple of Lord Mahalinga at Tiruvidaimarudur known
also as Madhyarjuna is regarded as the great Shiva temple of South India.
Spatikalinga is also a symbol of Lord Shiva. This is prescribed for Aradhana or worship
of Lord Shiva. It is made up of quartz. It has no colour of its own, but takes on
the colour of the substances which come in contact with it. It represents the Nirguna
Brahman or the attributeless Supreme Self or formless and attributeless Shiva.
For a sincere devotee, the Linga is not a block of stone. It is all radiant Tejas
or Chaitanya. The Linga talks to him, makes him shed profuse tears, produces horripilation
and melting of heart, raises him above body-consciousness and helps to commune with
the Lord and attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Lord Rama worshipped the Shiva Linga at Ramesvar.
Ravana, the learned scholar, worshipped the golden Linga. What a lot of mystic Sakti
there should be in the Linga!
May you all attain the formless Shiva through the worship of the Linga, the symbol
of Lord Shiva which helps concentration of mind and which serves as a prop for the
mind to lean upon in the beginning for the neophytes!
Shiva Linga is Chinmaya
The light of consciousness manifesting out of SadaShiva is, in reality, the Shivalinga.
From Him all the moving and unmoving creations take their origin. He is the Linga
or cause of everything. In Him, the whole world merges itself finally. The Shiva
Purana says: “Pitham Ambamayam Sarvam Shivalingascha Chinmayam.” The support or Pitham
of all is Prakriti or Parvati, and Linga is Chinmaya Purusha, the effulgent light
which is self-luminous. Union of Prakriti or Parvati, and Purusha or Shivalinga is
the cause of the world. In Sanatkumara-samhita of the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva says:
“O Parvati, daughter of mountain, there is none dearer to Me than the man who worships
Me in the Linga, knowing that Linga is the root-cause of everything and knowing
the world to be Linga-maya or Chaitanya-maya.”
The Linga is like an egg. It represents the Brahmanda (cosmic egg). Whatever that
is contained in the Brahmanda is in the Linga. The whole world is the form of Lord
Shiva. The world is a Linga. Linga also is the form of Lord Shiva.
Linga signifies that the creation is effected by the union of Prakriti and Purusha.
It means Laya, Jnana, Vyapya, Prakasa, Arathaprakasa, Samarthya and the symbol which
denotes the above meaning. Linga means the place of dissolution for the world and
all beings. It signifies also Satya, Jnana and Ananta—Truth, knowledge and Infinity.
It indicates that Lord Shiva is endowed with all-pervading and self-luminous nature.
Linga is a symbol which makes us understand the various kinds of Artha which are
indicated above. There are six Lingas, viz., Anda Linga, Pinda Linga, SadaShiva Linga,
Atma Linga, Jnana Linga and Shiva Linga. These Lingas are taken to mean the characteristics
by which the Anda (the Universe), Pinda (the body), SadaShiva, etc., are to be recognised
The union of Linga with Yoni is a representation of the Eternal Union between the
static and the dynamic aspects of the Absolute Reality. This represents the Eternal
Spiritual Communion of the paternal and the maternal principles from which all the
phenomenal diversities have originated. This is an eternal communion of the Changeless
Being and the Dynamic Power or Sakti from which all changes flow.
Further, the lower sexual propensities in the aspirants are eradicated by this sublime
conception. The spiritualisation and divinisation of Linga and Yoni, helps the aspirants
to free themselves from sexual thoughts. All base thoughts gradually vanish by entertaining
this lofty idea. All sexual relations in this world are spiritualised as the manifestations
of the ultimate Creative Principle, of the eternal Self-enjoyment and Self-multiplication
of Lord Shiva in and through His Power or Sakti.
The union of Linga with Yoni symbolises the creation of this universe by Lord Shiva
in conjunction with His Sakti or Power.
The so-called educated men of the modern age have no spiritual insight and philosophical
penetration. Hence, they criticise the union of Linga with Yoni as immoral and obscene,
owing to their extreme ignorance and lack of enquiry, deep thinking and Satsanga
or association with sages. This is highly deplorable and lamentable indeed! May
Lord grant wisdom to these poor ignorant souls!
Way to Attain Lord Shiva
Tirumular’s Tirumantram is a poetical work, said to be composed in the course of
three thousand years. It deals with the practical and theoretical aspects of Saiva
religion and philosophy. The treatment of Pati (Lord Shiva), Pasu (the individual
soul) and Pasa (attachment) in the old method, is found in this book. The following
is Tirumular’s exposition in his Tirumantram.
God alone is the Guru or the spiritual teacher. He shows Shiva or Sat. Sat-Guru is
Ambalam or Chidakasa Shiva. You will have to search the Guru in your own heart. Knowledge,
devotion, purity and Siddhis are obtained through the grace of the Guru. The grace
descends in virtuous aspirants who have purity, dispassion, etc.
The thirsting aspirant should get help from Guru Param. Guru Param imparts spiritual
instructions to the aspirant. Then Suddha Guru confers upon him Divine Grace. When
the aspirant obtains the Divine Grace, he gets several powers, purity, the power
to know the Mantras, higher Siddhis, etc. Then the Sat-Guru reveals himself in the
Chidakasa, breaks the three bonds, viz., Anava (egoism), Karma (action) and Maya
(illusion) and helps him to enter the illimitable domain of Moksha or supreme abode
of eternal bliss. Shiva Guru presents himself later on and manifests Sat, Asat and
Sadasat. When the Jiva attains this final knowledge, he becomes Shiva himself. The
Guru who presents himself in the earlier and later stages, is Shiva himself.
The devotee attains the grace of the Lord when he meditates on Him in the chambers
of his heart, in the space between the two eyebrows and in the head. The holy feet
of the Lord are highly eulogised. Tirumular says: “The holy feet of my Lord are
Mantra, beauty and truth.”
Jneya or that which is to be known, is Shiva Ananda which is a product of Shiva and
His grace, Sakti. The Jnata (knower) is the individual soul or Jiva. He knows Shiva
by abiding in Shiva Ananda and obtains Jnana or knowledge.
Moksha is the attainment of Shiva Ananda. He who attains Moksha will attain supreme
knowledge of Shiva. He who gets established in Shiva Ananda will attain knowledge
and Moksha (the final emancipation). The Jiva who knows Shiva Ananda dwells for ever
in it. He attains Shiva and Sakti in Shiva Ananda. He is endowed with true knowledge
which is really union of Shiva and Sakti. Lord Shiva shows the path which leads on
to Moksha, to the aspirant who is endowed with dispassion, non-attachment, renunciation,
who praises Him always and performs regular worship.
The devotee of Lord Shiva gets strength to resist the temptations of the world and
of Indra, through his Tapas or austerity. He does not care at all for the celestial
pleasures offered by Indra. He is quite contented with the supreme bliss attained
through union with Lord Shiva.
When the Sadhaka does rigorous austerities and practises concentration, he attains
several powers. Indra and other Devas get terribly afraid that they will lose their
position. Hence, they put several obstacles on his path and tempt him in a variety
of ways by offering celestial car, damsels and various sorts of celestial pleasures.
But the firm Sadhaka stands adamant. He never yields and marches direct to the goal,
viz., Shiva-Pada or the Immortal seat of eternal Bliss. He who yields gets a downfall.
Visvamitra had a downfall.
Sage Tirumular says: “Abandon pride of learning. Introspect. Look within. You will
be firmly established in Shiva. Nothing will shake you. You will be freed from the
trammels of births and deaths.”
Saiva Siddhanta teaches Advaita only. It is Shiva Advaita.
Greatness of the Prasad
Prasad is that which gives peace. During Kirtan, worship, Puja, Havan and Arati,
Badam, Kismis, milk, sweets, fruits are offered to the Lord. Puja is done by Bael
leaves, flowers, Tulsi, Vibhuti, and these are given as Prasad, from the Lord. They
are charged with mysterious powers by the chanting of Mantras during Puja and Havan.
Prasad is a great purifier. Prasad is a panacea. Prasad is a spiritual elixir. Prasad
is the Grace of the Lord. Prasad is an embodiment of Sakti. Prasad is divinity in
manifestation. Many sincere aspirants get wonderful experiences from Prasad alone.
Many incurable diseases are cured. Prasad energises, vivifies, invigorates and infuses
devotion. It should be taken with great faith.
Live for a week in Brindavan, Pandharpur or Banares. You will realise the glory
and miraculous effects of Prasad. Prasad bestows good health, long life, peace and
prosperity on all. Glory to Prasad, the bestower of peace and bliss. Glory to the
Lord of the Prasad. Giver of immortality and undying happiness.
Vibhuti is the Prasad of Lord Shiva, to be applied on the forehead. A small portion
can be taken in.
Kumkum is the Prasad of Sri Devi or Sakti, to be applied at the space between the
eyebrows (Ajna or Bhrumadhya).
Tulsi is the Prasad of Lord Vishnu, Rama or Krishna, not to be taken in. Badam,
Kismis, sweets, fruits, etc., are to be taken in.
All these Prasads are given on all important religious functions.
Benefit of Pilgrimage
You will find a description of Oertel’s treatment in books on medicine, for certain
cardiac affections (heart-troubles). The patient is asked to climb up hills slowly.
So, the Kailasa trip, besides the spiritual benefit, removes many kinds of minor
heart-troubles. The heart is invigorated and strengthened. The whole cardiac-vascular,
nervous, pulmonary, alimentary, integumentary systems are thoroughly overhauled
and purified. There is no necessity for Kuhne’s steam bath. You perspire profusely
during the march. The whole body is filled with fresh, oxygenated blood. The gentle
breeze blowing from the tall pine trees all over, surcharged with natural oil of
pine, disinfects the lungs and a consumptive is cured of phthisis when he returns.
The excessive fat is reduced. A Kailas trip is the best treatment for reduction
of obesity in corpulent persons. Many kinds of stomach troubles, uric acid troubles
and various sorts of skin diseases are cured. You will not get any disease for a
period of 12 years, as you are charged with new electrons, new atoms, new cells,
new molecules and new nuclei with renovated protoplasm. This is no Arthavada (glorification).
You get two birds by throwing one stone. The Kailas trip brings spiritual blessings
and good health. Hail! Hail to Sambhu, the Lord Shiva who dwells in Kailas with His
Sakti, Parvati, who gives Mukti to His devotees and who is known by the different
names, Hara, SadaShiva, Mahadeva, Nataraja, Sankara, etc.
The goal of life is God-realisation which only can free us from the miseries of
Samsara, the wheel of birth and death. The performance of the daily obligatory rites,
Nitya-Naimittika Karmas, Yatras, etc., unselfishly, leads to the acquisition of
virtue. This leads to the destruction of sin, which in turn results in the purification
of the mind. This purification of the mind leads to the comprehension of the true
nature of Samsara or relative existence, its false and worthless nature. From this
results Vairagya (renunciation), which arouses a desire for liberation. From this
desire results a vigilant search for its means. From it comes the renunciation of
all actions. Thence, the practice of Yoga, which leads to a habitual tendency of
the mind to settle in the Atman or Brahman. This results in the knowledge of the
meaning of such Sruti passages as ‘Tat Tvam Asi’, which destroys the Avidya (ignorance),
thus leading to the establishment in one’s own self. Thus you see that Yatra like
Kailas trip is a Parampara Sadhana for God-realisation, as it causes Chitta Suddhi
and Nididhyasana. Dhyana is a direct Sadhana. Householders who are shut up in the
world amidst various sorts of cares and anxieties, find a great relief in a Yatra.
Their minds get quite refreshed by a Yatra. Further, during the travel they come
across Sadhus and Sannyasins. They can have good Satsanga. They can clear their
doubts. They can get various sorts of help from them in spiritual Sadhana. That
is the main object of Yatra.
Let me bring to your memory, once more, the last word of the Vedas, Upanishads—‘Tat
Tvam Asi’, my dear readers. Om Tat Sat, Om Santi, Peace be unto all beings.
Benefits of Parikrama
Parikrama is the devout perambulation or Pradakshina around a sacred and holy spot.
This is either a mountain peak, a sacred Tirtha, a place of pilgrimage or an entire
area regarded as holy and sanctified by tradition. This practice of making a circuit
is ordinarily done at any time, and especially undertaken by devotees en masse at
particular periods during the year.
When done on a smaller scale within a small ambit as round a Murti installed in
a shrine, round the sacred Tulsi plant or Pipal tree, the perambulation is in common
parlance termed ‘Pradakshina.’ A Parikrama also doubtless constitutes Pradakshina,
but by convention, it is come to refer mainly to big circuit.
More difficult forms of Parikrama are in vogue. Additional measures involving greater
physical exertion and strain are combined with Parikrama. Some lay themselves fully
stretched upon the ground and roll along over the entire route. Some others proceed
slowly prostrating full length at every three or ten steps; still others walk step
by step, placing one foot in close proximity to the other and cover the whole distance
of Parikrama; and others do the circuit themselves gyrating in a continuous Atma-Pradakshina.
All these difficult features are adopted by devotees at times as special penance,
or in accordance with some vow previously made, or as spontaneous expression of
their zeal or fervour. Your mental attitude and motive will bestow on you the highest,
maximum spiritual good.
Undaunted Yatris in the icy Himalayas do the difficult Parikrama of Mount Kailas
and even longer circuit of Lake Manasasarovar. Other Yatris complete a round of
entire Uttarakhand, in doing the Kedar-Badri-Yatra by going via one route and returning
via another, after circling the Chardham.
Far off in the South, pious devotees make Pradakshina of the holy Arunachala at
Tiruvannamalai. Rama Bhaktas and Krishna Premis go round Chitrakuta Parvata, Ayodhya,
Brij, Brindavan, Govardhana and Badrinath.
The deep significance of Parikrama lies in the fact that the devotee considers not
the physical aspect of the place, hill or Tirtha, but the spiritual power it symbolises
and the Divine Presence that is manifested and felt through it. Through the Lord’s
revelation in the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, you will understand how much
special places are saturated with the Divine Presence. By the fervent attitude of
faith and veneration, you make yourself fully receptive to the inflow of the spiritual
vibrations of the holy place. These powerful spiritual currents enter and purify
all the sheaths, gross and subtle, destroying bad Vasanas and Samskaras. Tamas and
Rajas are reduced. The concentrated influence of Sattva awakens the dormant spiritual
tendencies. By Parikrama, the devotee drinks deep the Divine atmosphere pervading
the place and comes out of this spiritual path steeped in Sattvic vibrations. This
is the inner working and significance of doing Parikrama.
Being a great purifier, it is enjoined on all devotees as a method of penance or
Tapascharya by wise tradition and convention. It is an act of great spiritual benefit
and religious merit too. The devotee takes bath, wears clean clothes, smears Tilak
or sacred ash and wears Tulsi or Rudraksha Mala and starts with God’s name on his
lips. On the Parikrama route, you gain valuable Satsanga by meeting Sadhus and Sannyasins
living there. Your sins are destroyed by taking bath in sacred rivers (on big Parikramas)
or ponds and Kunds. You are elevated and blessed by Darsana of many holy shrines
situated on the way. You develop patience and endurance putting up with various
discomforts in the sun or rain or cold. Difficult Parikramas mean giving up many
dear articles to which the mind is attached. You have your mind freed from all thoughts
and you are absorbed in the one idea of the Divine presence. A devoutly conducted
Parikrama constitutes in one single act a triple Sadhana elevating your body, mind
and spirit. The spiritual vibrations of the holy places of pilgrimage and shrines
purify your base Asuric Vrittis and fill you with Sattva and purity. You need not
go in for Satsanga. Mahapurushas come to you of their own accord. They are always
in search of real and sincere Sadhakas. Therefore, they also remain in holy places
like Badri, Kedar, Kailas, Hardwar, Brindavan, Mathura, etc.
Blessed indeed are those who take part in Parikrama, because they will soon attain
peace, bliss and immortality! Glory to Lord Rama, the Lord of Ayodhya! Glory to
Krishna the Indweller of all hearts, whose special seat is Brindavan! Glory to Bhaktas!
May their blessings be upon you all!
Real Flower and Arati
The tower of a temple represents Brahmarandhra. Balipitha represents the navel or
Manipura Chakra. Nandi represents Ajna Chakra. Dhvajastambha represents Sushumna
Nadi which runs from Muladhara to Brahmarandhra.
Dig-devata dwells in the ears, Vayu in the skin, Sun in the eyes, Varuna in the
tongue, Asvins in the nose, Vishnu in the feet, Indra in the hands, Agni in the
speech, Prajapati in the generative organ, Yama in the anus, Sutratman in the Prana,
Hiranyagarbha in Antahkarana, Chandra in mind, Brahma in the intellect, Rudra in
egoism, Shiva in Chitta, Sarasvati in the end of the tongue, Parvati in Anahata Chakra,
Lakshmi in Manipura Chakra, Ganesa in Muladhara and Satchidananda Brahman in Brahmarandhra
at the crown of the head.
Satya, Ahimsa, Tapas, mercy, love, self-restraint, contentment, forgiveness, Jnana,
equal vision, peace are the real flowers of Puja. All the Nadas are the waters for
Abhisheka. The virtuous actions are the offering of incense. Vedanta is Pitambar.
Jnana and Yoga are the Kundalas. Tapas and meditation are the lights. Japa is Chamara.
Anahata is the music. Kirtan is umbrella. Pranayama is the fan.
Tattvas are the attendants of the Lord. nana-Sakti is the Devi. Agama is the commander.
The eight Siddhis are the door-keepers of the Lord. Turiya is the Bhasma. Veda is
the bull or Nandi. Kalyana Gunas represent the Trident in the hand. Panchakshara
is the holy thread. Suddha Jiva is the ornament. The Vrittis are the Pujopakaranas.
The Panchabhutas and the five Tanmatras are the Rudrakshamalas of Lord Shiva. Tiger
skin represents Ahankara.
Kriya-Sakti and virtuous actions are Dhupa or incense for the Lord. Chit-Sakti which
produces knowledge is also Dhupa. Offering of the ego and the mind at the lotus-feet
of the Lord is real Naivedya. Just as camphor melts and becomes one with the fire,
so also the mind of a sage melts and the individual soul gets merged in the Supreme
Soul. This is real Karpura Arati.
Source: Reproduced, with the general permission, from Lord Siva and His Worship,
WWW edition 2000, By Sri Swami Sivananda © The Divine Life Trust Society