In many traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, Pūjā is the ritual of worship, it is the offerings to the divine. There are various ways of celebrating Pūjā and every tradition has developed its own rituals varying significantly between regions, temples and occasions.
In Hinduism we could synthesize 16 basic steps (ṣoḍaśa upacāra) common to all varieties of pūjā:
Avahana – Invocation. Also called Dhyana.
Asana – Offering of place. Also called Swagat – welcoming of the GOD
Upavīda o Mangalsutra – Offering of the Sacred Thread (Janeu o Yajñopavītam ) .
Anulepana o Gandha. Offering of oils and perfumes, sandal paste, kumkum. ( Raktachandana, Sindoor, Abir-Glulal, Sughandit Dravya with Akshata)
Pushpa – Offering of flowers.
Dhupa – Offering of incense.
Dipa o Aarti – Offering of fire.
Naivedya ,Achamana and Dakshina– Offering of food & water and donations in form of currency.
Namaskara o Pranama – Offering of salutations and Prayers.
Parikrama – Ritual turning around the deity.
Pushpanjali, Shastanga Pranama with Kshama Prathana – Offering of flowers, Full body Pranam (done with eight limbs) alongwith seeking pardon from God from unknown mistakes made during the Puja .
ॐ आवाहनं समर्पयामि
oṁ āvāhanaṁ samarpayāmi
ॐ आसनं समर्पयामि
oṁ āsanaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of place
ॐ पाद्यं समर्पयामि
oṁ pādyaṁ samarpayāmi
Symbolic washing of the feet
ॐ अर्घ्यं समर्पयामि
oṁ arghyaṁ samarpayāmi
Symbolic washing of the head and body
ॐ आचमनीयं समर्पयामि
oṁ ācamanīyaṁ samarpayāmi
Symbolic washing of the mouth
ॐ स्नानम् समर्पयामि
oṁ snānam samarpayāmi
ॐ वस्त्रं समर्पयामि
oṁ vastraṁ samarpayāmi
ॐ यज्ञोपवीतं समर्पयामि
oṁ yajñopavītaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of the Sacred Thread
ॐ चंदनं समर्पयामि
oṁ caṁdanaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of sandal paste
ॐ परिमल द्रव्यं समर्पयामि
oṁ parimala dravyaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of kumkum
ॐ पुष्ह्पणि समर्पयामि
oṁ puṣhpaṇi samarpayāmi
Offering of flowers
ॐ धूपं समर्पयामि
oṁ dhūpaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of incense
ॐ दीपं समर्पयामि
oṁ dīpaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of fire
ॐ नैवेद्यं समर्पयामि
oṁ naivedyaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of food
ॐ दक्ष्हिणाम् समर्पयामि
oṁ dakṣhiṇām samarpayāmi
Offering of coins
ॐ आर्तिक्यं समर्पयामि
oṁ ārtikyaṁ samarpayāmi
Waving of lights
ॐ मन्त्रपुष्पं समर्पयामि
oṁ mantrapuṣpaṁ samarpayāmi
Offering of flowers
ॐ प्रदक्षिणान् नमस्कारान् समर्पयामि
oṁ pradakṣiṇān namaskārān samarpayāmi
Offering of salutations
Ganesh, Lord Ganapati, is invoked before commencing any work, any Pūjā. He is the creator (Vighna Karta) and also destroyer (Vighna Harta) of obstacles.
He represents the earth element residing in the Muladhara Chakra at the base of spine.
By praying to Lord Ganapati, this chakra is activated. Our thinking patterns change, unwanted desires are removed bringing in mental peace and restoring health in individuals. The thought that ” I and the world is same and we are not separate from each other” is established, one pointed focus is achieved and any work undertaken becomes successful (Karya Siddhi) bringing in happiness in our lives.
Lord Ganapati when pleased grants us longevity (long life / Ayur), health (Aarogya), prosperity (wealth / Aishwarya), strength (Balam) and fame (Mahat / greatness).
Use of Kalash in Pūjā
Kalash (water vessel) is a symbol of good auspice of Hindu culture. It was created during the Samudramanthan or the great churning of the ocean. All deities can reside in the Kalash. Therefore, it has an important place in the puja ritual.
The worship of Kalash is widespread in Hindu ceremonies such as Griha Pravesha (Pūjā for the new house), to give the name to the child, in marriage, in the Havan, in the Vāstu Dosha (to give harmony and peace to the house), in the festivities and in the daily worship.
Kalash and the 5 elements:
The base of the metal vase represents the element Pṛthvī (Earth);
the center – Āp (water);
neck of the vase – Agni (fire);
the opening of the mouth – Vāyu (air);
the mango leaves – Ākāśa (ether).
In the context of the chakras, Śira (head) – the upper part of the coconut symbolizes the Sahasrara chakra and the Mūla (base) – the base of Kalash – Muladhara chakra.
Mudra (Sanskrit: मुद्रा) literally means “seal”, “brand” or “gesture”, it is a symbolic gesture used in Tantric rituals of both Hindu and Buddhist tradition. The mudras can be performed with the whole body but most are performed with the hands. Mudras are part of a system that uses the body to express and emphasize the intentions of the mind. Are often used in yoga practice in association with breathing (pranayama), in meditation and for healing purposes. Stimulate different parts of the body and affect the flow of prana, the vital energy. It is also said that the mudras are the language of the Devas.
We can note how in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist iconography every god or goddess adopt a particular mudra, which along with the weapons or objects held by the deity, symbolize a particular energy or quality.
Mahamudra, Nabhomudra, Uddiyanamudra, Jalandharamudra Muhlabandhamudra, Mahabandhamudra, Mahavedhamudra, and Khecharimudra Viparitakaranimudra, Yonimudra, Vajrolimudra, Shaktichalani, Tadagimudra, Mandukimudra, Shambhavimudra, the five Dharana, Ashvinimudra, Pashinimudra, Kakimudra, Matangimudra and Bhujanginimudra: these 25 mudras grant to yogis success in this world.
Here are listed the most popular and well-known mudras:
Gesture of Conscience
Join the tip of the thumb and the forefinger as to form a circle, the other fingers are joined and extended outwards, with the middle finger near the unfolded part of the forefinger. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
It represents the Union between man and the divine.
Gesture of Knowledge
Like Chin Mudra but with the palms facing downward.
It represents the Union between man and the divine.
Gesture of Fearlessness
The right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers together in a vertical position.
It represents security, benevolence, peace and victory over fear. Abhaya Mudra is the gesture of peace world-wide common to many cultures.
With your palms facing down, place your thumb inside the palm of the hand touching the base of the little finger. Close the four fingers on the thumb to create a fist. The respiration must be long and deep.
Adi means first and Adi Mudra is the first position adopted by the newborn.
Gesture of Meditation
To be executed while sitting in a comfortable position (in the yoga in Sukhāsana or in Siddhāsana) with both hands resting on the legs, the right hand over the left. The palms are facing upwards and fingers remain extended.
This mudra is one of the most well-known, is present in many of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain iconography. It represents the illumination above the illusion.
Gesture of the vital air Apana (also called Mudra of Digestion)
Join the tip of the thumb with the tip of the middle and ring fingers, while keeping the other fingers straight. To be executed with both hands.
Apana, literally means “air that runs”, is one of the five vital airs (prana), is associated with the lower part of the abdomen, moves downwards and outwards and governs all forms of elimination and reproduction. Energizing Mudra.
Gesture of Deer
The same as in Apana Mudra. Join the tip of the thumb with the tip of the middle and ring fingers, while keeping the other fingers straight.
Used in Pooja and Sadhana.
Gesture of Offering
Join the tip of the thumb with the tip of the ring fingers, while keeping the other fingers straight.
Used in Pooja and Sadhana.
Apana Vayu Mudra
Gesture of the Heart
Join the tip of the thumb, ring and middle finger, while the forefinger touches the base of the thumb, keeping the little finger straight. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
It is called Mudra of the Heart for its influence upon the heart and blood pressure. It reduces the gas content in body.
Gesture of the Vital Air
To be executed while sitting in a comfortable position (in the yoga in Sukhāsana or in Siddhāsana), focusing on the breath. The tips of the little finger and ring finger touch the tip of the thumb, keeping the other fingers straight. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
It symbolizes the life force. Prana is the vital air that flows in our body. There are 5 vital airs: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana.
Gesture of Ganesh
To be executed while sitting in a comfortable position, focusing on the breath. Hang up your hands to the heart. The left outside, the right in front of the heart.
It symbolizes Ganesh, the elephant-headed God, known as the remover of obstacles. It stimulates the fourth chakra, Anahata.
Gesture of Kalesvara
To be executed while sitting in a comfortable position, focusing on the breath. The tip of the middle and thumbs touching, the other fingers are joined folded inside. Place your thumbs to the heart.
It symbolizes Kalesvara, God of Time. It calms the mind.
Gesture of the Goddess Matangi
Join the hands at stomach height, palms are towards each other with fingers facing upwards. The fingers of the right hand are entwined with those of the left, with the exception of the middle fingers that remain straight and joined.
It symbolizes the relationship with Mother Earth.
Join hands in front of the stomach with palms facing your tummy, thumbs joined up and forefingers joined down to form a triangle.
Yoni, meaning vagina, uterus, symbolizes the origin of life, the feminine energy, the creative power, Shakti. This mudra insulates the practitioner from the outside world as a fetus in the womb of the mother.
Fold the hands, under the right than the left. Grab with the index fingers the ring fingers. Then stretch out the middle fingers, the little fingers and thumbs.
Yoni, meaning vagina, uterus, symbolizes the origin of life, the feminine energy, the creative power, Shakti. This mudra symbolizes the yonis of the three Mothers.
Cross fingers of both hands. Keep the left thumb straight surrounded by the right thumb and forefinger.
Linga is the symbol of Shiva, represents the universe. This mudra produces heat in the body.
To be executed while sitting in a comfortable position (in the yoga in Sukhāsana, Vajrāsana or in Siddhāsana), focusing on the breath. Form two overlapping fists, extend the left index and grab it with the right fist on it. Cover the tip of the index with your thumb. Hold the Mudra on Muladhara.
It symbolizes the union of individual soul with the cosmic soul.
To be executed while sitting in a comfortable position (in the yoga in Sukhāsana, Vajrāsana or in Siddhāsana), focusing on the breath. Combine the tip of the thumb, index and ring fingers. Medium and little fingers straight but relaxed. It is performed with both hands, palms facing up.
Symbolizes Rudra, the terrific aspect of Shiva. Very powerful mudra with different beneficial effects on the body.
To be executed while sitting in a comfortable position (in the yoga in Sukhāsana, Vajrāsana or in Siddhāsana), focusing on the breath. With the palms facing upwards and located at the level of the navel, place your thumb inside the Palm of the hand touching the base of the little finger. Close the four fingers on the thumb to create a fist. Join the knuckles of the hands like in the picture alongside.
It symbolizes Brahma, the creator aspect of the divine.
Gesture of the Goad
Folded index, medium straight.
It symbolizes Ganesh goad. Also used to encourage the deities to move from the spiritual world to the material. Or even to encourage the soul towards the ultimate goal.
Gesture of the Fish
Right palm below, left Palm over. Thumbs move as if they were the fins of fish. (this mode is mainly Tantric, other schools put right above)
Symbolizes the Fish. It symbolizes also swimming across the ocean of worldliness without fear.
Gesture of the Cow
Fold the hands, under the right than the left. The right index finger touches the left middle. The left index finger touches the right middle. The right little finger touches the left ring finger. The left little finger touches the right ring. Thumbs inside.
It symbolizes the muzzle of a cow, the one who always nourishes with love.
Gesture of the Turtle
Under the left hand: thumb, index and little finger raised. The other fingers touch the palm. Above the right hand: thumb, index and little finger down. The other fingers touch the palm. Join the two hands, the right index finger on the left thumb, right little finger on the left index, right thumb on the left palm, right little finger on the left palm. Bring Mudra to the heart.
It symbolizes a throne shaped like a turtle. Used in Pooja and Sadhana.
Gesture of the Conch
Hold the left thumb with the four fingers of the right hand. The left middle touches the right thumb. Bring Mudra to the heart. Do it singing the mantra AUM.
Symbolizes the Ritual Conch. Used in Pooja and Sadhana.
Agni Mudra (also called Surya Mudra)
Gesture of the Fire
Bend the ring finger to the base of the thumb and press with your thumb on the second phalanx, keeping the other fingers straight. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
Mantra: RAṂ It symbolizes the inner fire. Prevents and cures digestive disorders.
Gesture of the Air
Bend the forefinger at the base of the thumb and press with your thumb on the second phalanx, keeping the other fingers straight. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
Mantra: YAṂ This Mudra helps in balancing the air element within the body.
Gesture of the Space
Join the tip of the thumb and the middle finger as to form a circle, keeping the other fingers straight. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
Mantra: HAṂ This Mudra helps in balancing the space element and to achieve the energies inside the body.
Gesture of the Earth
Join the tip of the thumb and the ring finger as to form a circle, keeping the other fingers straight. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
Mantra: LAṂ This Mudra helps in balancing the Earth element within the body.
Gesture of the Water
Join the tip of the thumb and little finger as to form a circle, keeping the other fingers straight. To be executed with both hands, palms facing upward.
Mantra: VAṂ This Mudra helps in balancing the water element within the body.
Other mudras performed with the body:
Gesture of the Bee
Sitting comfortably with your back straight and your head not moving, imagine that a bee turns in a circle before you, first in one direction and then another. Fold the neck back and repeat the exercise. It is important to move only the eyes, the head remains stationary. To be performed only once a day. Relaxes and invigorates the eyes.
Surya Chandra Mudra (or Brahma Mudra)
Gesture of the Sun and the Moon (or Brahma Gesture)
Sitting in the simple position inhale. Exhale and bring the head forward. Inhaling turn right up to the shoulder. Exhale and rotate the head back. While inhaling turn left. Exhale and return to the initial position. Repeat on the contrary. Contraindicated for arthritis extended to all cervical vertebrae. Prevents cervical, eliminates headaches, strengthens the view, relaxing.
Gesture of the Fish
Inflate the cheeks without curling the lips. Perform a dozen times. It purifies the blood, increases blood pressure, tones the facial muscles preventing wrinkles.
Gesture of the Serpent (or Cobra)
“Drink” the air by opening and expanding a little the mouth, strengthens the abdomen and the digestive tract.
Gesture of the Lion
Exhale from the mouth: tongue out, eyes looking at the nose and open hands. Is good for the liver, bile and sight. Eliminates bad breath.
Gesture of the Craw
The Gheranda Samhitadescribes it thus: Contract the lips, like the beak of a crow, and drink the air slowly and slowly.
Gesture of the movement in Space (Kechari = moving in Space)
After performing the cleansing of the tongue, inhaling, place the tongue above the palate to close the nasal cavity. Rhythmically massaging the soft palate. It should then produce a sweet liquid, but if it produces a bitter or metallic taste liquid you must spit. The Hatha Yoga Pradipikadescribes the Kechari Mudra thus: Kapālakuhare jihvā pravishtā viparītaghā Bhruvorantarghatā drshtirmudrā bhavati khecharī – The Khechari mudra is accomplished by thrusting the tongue into the gullet, by turning it over itself, and keeping the eyesight in the middle of the eyebrows.
In Sanskrit jalan means net, dhara means to hold, then the meaning of jalandhara bandha is the physical lock that controls the network of nadis (energy channels) in the neck. Inhaling fold the chin close to the chest. With the chin in this position, push the tongue to the palate. Exhaling slowly relax. Repeat several times. It stimulates the higher chakras (Vishuddha,Ajña andSahasrara). Strengthens the neck and directly stimulates the pituitary, pineal, thyroid, parathyroid, and thymus glands.
Inhale deeply and exhale all the air. Holding the breath contract the abdomen inside the rib cage. Hold the position for a while ‘and then slowly relax the abdomen. Repeat several times. Stimulates the chakras medians (Manipura and Anahata). Prevents and treats disorders of the digestive system.
Low Contraction (Mula = root, Bandha = close – fix)
While inhaling contract the sphincter. Exhaling slowly relax it. Repeat several times. Stimulates the first two chakras (Muladhara and Swadhishthana). Prevents and cures hemorrhoids.
Perform in the order Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jalandhar Bandha releasing them in the same order.
Sit back, relax every muscle in your body. Visualize the chakras using the image on your monitor, or close your eyes and visualize internally.
Let us now concentrate on the Muladhara Chakra, located at the base of the spine, and imagine a closed flower that slowly opens. The center is yellow and has four red petals. Now focused on the open flower within us repeat the mantra LAM. Visualize now the flower slowly closes.
Let us now concentrate on Swadhisthana Chakra, above the genitals, here we imagine a closed flower that slowly opens. The center has the color of the water and has six petals of red vermilion. Now focused on the open flower within us repeat the mantra VAM. Visualize now the flower slowly closes.
Let us now concentrate on Manipura chakra, the base of the stomach, here we imagine a closed flower that slowly opens. The center is red and has ten blue petals. Now focused on the open flower within us repeat the mantra RAM. Visualize now the flower slowly closes.
Let us now concentrate on Anahata Chakra, the heart, imagine a closed flower that slowly opens. The center is gray smoke and has twelve red petals. Concentrate on the open flower within us repeat the mantra YAM. Visualize now the flower slowly closes.
Let us now concentrate on Vishuddha Chakra, throat, again imagine a closed flower that slowly opens. The center of the flower is blue and has sixteen petals blue. Concentrate on the open flower within us repeat the mantra HAM. Visualize now the flower slowly closes.
Let us now concentrate on Ajña chakra between the eyebrows, and here we imagine a closed flower that slowly opens. A flower that has only two petals, the center and the petals are white. The more the flower opens and the more becomes shiny. When the flower is fully open will look like a light- flower. Concentrate on the open flower within us repeat the mantra OM. Visualize now the flower slowly closes.
Let us now concentrate on the Sahasrara Chakra, on top of the head, imagine a closed flower that slowly opens. is a multi-colored flower that has a thousand petals. Concentrate on the open flower hear the sound of our breathing. Visualize now the flower slowly closes.
MEDITATION: Chakras and Elements
Sit comfortably in your usual a meditative pose. Start from the root chakra, Muladhara and visualize the Earth element. See it dissolving in the element of the sacral chakra, the Water. Visualize the water consumed by the fire of the solar plexus chakra, Manipura. The fire is extinguished in air, the element of the heart chakra, Anahata. The air becomes ether in the throat chakra, Vishuddha. The ether is absorbed into the third eye chakra and is transmuted into Light. Finally, the light dissolves into Universal Mind or Infinite Consciousness of Sahasrara Chakra.
Visualize the path of the vital breath within one’s own body, imagining that from the navel of Sadashiva three rays are born, on which we will find the three Goddesses: Parā, who is on Bhairava Sadbhāva; Parāparā standing on Ratishekhara Bhairava; Aparā standing on Navātma Bhairava. The three Goddesses are also associated with the succession of gurus (Parampara).
Breathing exercises and Pranayama
EXERCISE OF BREATH Inhale and gently press your thumb and forefinger on the eyes, the pressure lasts throughout inspiration. Exhale deeply slowly decrease the pressure. It slows the heart rate, decreases anxiety.
EXERCISE OF BREATH Focus on dimple of the neck, inhaling, holding the breath to push the chin toward the neck. Exhale and release the pressure. You have the same effects of exercise above. These two exercises are excellent for crisis tachycardia.
BREATHING OF THE BEE (BHRAMARI PRANAYAMA) Breathe deeply focusing on the throat. Both inhaling and exhaling make a buzz between the nose and throat like that of a bee.
CONTRARY BREATHING (VILOMA PRANAYAMA) Exhale completely through the nostrils. Inhaling and retain the air for a few seconds. Inhale and hold … ..and so on up to completely fill the lungs. Hold breath as much as possible. Exhale slowly and deeply uttering the sound “ooh”. Repeat several times.
BREATHING OF THE SUN (SURYA PRANAYAMA)
Close the left nostril, using your hand, inhale with the other nostril.
BREATHING OF THE MOON (CHANDRA PRANAYAMA)
Close the right nostril and inhale.
BREATHING OF THE SUN AND THE MOON (SURYA CHANDRA PRANAYAMA)
Close the left nostril, inhale. Close the right nostril, exhale and inhale. Close the left nostril, exhale and inhale … and so on. Repeat for 5 minutes.
DRUM BREATHING (MRIDANGA PRANAYAMA)
Breathe deeply beating the chest with the fingers. Purifies the bronchi and lungs, good for smokers. Stimulates Anahata Chakra.
INTERRUPTED BREATHING (VILOMA PRANAYAMA)
Interrupt breathing as when you cry. Start inhaling with 7 pauses and then exhaling with 7 pauses (but you can also start with 5 or more pauses), then decreased: 6/6 – 5/5 – 4/4 – 3/3 – 2/2, end up with a slow, deep breathing. Repeat several times.
MEDITATION ON LISTENING TO THE OWN BREATH
Simply listen to your own breath. It may adopt abdominal breathing.
COMPLETE YOGIC BREATHING
Perform abdominal, thoracic and clavicular (throat) breathings, bringing your hands on the abdomen, chest and throat.
Abdominal breathing: inhaling inflates the abdomen, exhaling relaxes Chest breathing: inhaling inflates the chest, exhaling relaxes. Clavicular breathing: high breathing, of gluttony, as you inhale chest and belly do not swell.
BREATHING OF THE LIGHT OF THE SKULL (KAPALABHATI)
Inhale slowly. Exhale suddenly. Perform for a few minutes. Finished the exercise perform a slow, deep complete yogic breathing.
IRREGULAR BREATHING (VILOMA PRANAYAMA)
Inhale from the mouth uttering the sound hoo. Exhale little air and hold your breath for a second. Continue exhaling always emitting little air and holding the breath for a second. Go on until complete emptying of the lungs. Repeat several times. Decreases the pressure.
BREATHINGS ON CHAKRAS
Starting from Muladhara Chakra, inhale deeply concentrating on the chakra, exhale uttering the mantra of the chakra in question. 5 breaths and then switch to the higher chakras.
BREATHING EXERCISE ON KUNDALINI
Imagine Kundalini as a heat, a fire that goes through all the chakras. Breathing in goes up, breathing out goes down.
Vipassana is a traditional and ancient Buddhist meditation really interesting, where there’s plenty to do… just to sit quietly, doing nothing and watch the breath. Vipassana meditation aims to develop full awareness of all sensory and mental stimuli, in order to capture their real nature. It is traditionally defined as a meditation of “inner perception” in the sense that simply slowing each activity and by sitting in meditation we create a space in which we can have intuitions about who we are, and where we can get to know us more deeply, more intimately. The body and mind are the field in which it is possible to find out, with a careful vision, the truth.
Contemplation of the body
Awareness of body positions
Awareness of the actions of the body
Awareness of body parts
Awareness of the elements
Contemplation of feelings
Contemplation of the mind
Contemplation of mental objects
Put a candle or a small flame in front of you.
First stage: 15 minutes
Seated in an easy position with eyes closed and lips together. inhale slowly, stop for a moment and then exhaling the sound MMM. Take a longer break before inspiration. The internal vibration that will be created will shake our subtlest energies.
Second stage: 15 minutes
Sit down with narrowed eyes and observe the flame set before. Continue with regular and slow breathing. This will center our energies awakened.
Third stage: 15 minutes
Lie on your back, close your eyes and relax with a slow and regular breathing. Relax every muscle and every part of the body, starting from the feet to get to the head.
Then visualize the breath as a heat source that starts from the center of the root and get to the top of the head. View its warm colors. Gradually see the breath becomes an increasingly hot and bright light. When the light reaches the top of the head visualize this light expanding beyond the body.
Awakening of the heart – give and receive
If we do not love, life has no meaning; When you really love, the ego disappears. When the ego disappears we open our being to the All, the One. For this reason, the path of the heart is a prime way that can lead us directly to higher states of consciousness.
This simple meditation joins the breath to the gestures of giving and receiving so awakening the heart and accepting with simplicity and love what happens.
Inspiring bring your hands to the heart.
Exhaling extend your arms outward.
Many cultures have traditions of meditative movements or sacred dance: from shamanism to Tantra, from Sufi to Gurdjieff, from Qigong to the techniques developed in Buddhism, etc. Through active meditations we become mindful of our experience while acting. The mind can be detached automatically from the incessant flow of thoughts because it is concentrated in the observation of bodily sensations that are perceived at that exact moment. Managing to maintain this awareness, you can even go beyond the observer, reaching the state of non-duality.
Any action can become a meditation.
Osho Active Meditations
First stage: 10 minutes Breathe chaotically through the nose, concentrating always on exhalation. The body will take care of the inhalation. Do this as fast and as hard as you can more and more – until you literally become the breathing. Use your entire body to push the air out, as if you were a bellows.
Second stage: 10 minutes Explode! Express everything that needs to be thrown out. Become totally crazy. Shout, cry, jump, shake, dance, sing, laugh. Hold nothing back; keep the whole body in motion. A little acting often helps to start. Do not allow your mind to interfere with what is happening. Be total, be whole hearted; be careful, aware of what is happening to you.
Third stage: 10 minutes With raised arms, jump up and down shouting the mantra Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! as deeply as possible, allowing the sound to come from the bottom of the belly. Landing from the jump with the entire sole of the foot and let the sound deeply affects your sexual center. Give all you have; go dead.
Fourth stage: 15 minutes Stop! Stop wherever you are, at any location you are. Do not move the body for any reason. A cough, a movement – anything will dissipate the energy flow and the effort will be in vain. Remain completely still, being a witness to everything that happens.
Fifth Stage: 15 minutes Celebrate with dance, expressing your gratitude towards existence. Bring this happiness with you all day.
This meditation, “sister” of the Dynamic, finds its best if done at sunset or late afternoon. Totally immerse yourself in the shaking and dancing during the first two stages helps loosen one’s being hard as rocks, at any point in the flow of energy has been suppressed and blocked. Then that energy can flow, dance and be transformed into joy and bliss. The last two stages allow all of this energy to slide vertically, to move upwards in the silence. An extremely effective way to be loose and to relax, letting yourself go at the end of the day.
First Stage: 15 minutes
Be loose and let the whole body shake. Look up the energy from the feet upwards. Let go of every single part and become the shaking. The eyes can be open or closed.
Second Stage: 15 minutes
Dance – just as you like, and let the whole body move as it wishes. The eyes can be open or closed.
Third Stage: 15 minutes
Close your eyes and be still, sitting or standing, observe like a witness whatever’s going on inside and outside of you.
Fourth Stage: 15 minutes
Keeping your eyes closed, lie down and be still.
This is another powerful technique that creates a circle of energy, resulting in a natural centering. There are four stages of 15 minutes each.
First Stage: 15 minutes
With open eyes run on the spot, starting slowly and gradually, getting faster and faster. Bring your knees up as high as possible. Breathing deeply and evenly will move the energy within. Forget the mind and forget the body. Keep going.
Second Stage: 15 minutes
Sit with your eyes closed and mouth open and loose. Gently rotate your body from the belly, like a reed blowing in the wind. Feel the wind blowing you from side to side, back and forth, around and around. This will bring your awakened energies to the navel center.
Third Stage: 15 minutes
Lie on your back, open your eyes and with the head still, rotate them in a clockwise direction. Sweep them fully around in the sockets as if you are following the second hand of a vast clock, but as fast as possible. It is important that the mouth remains open and the jaw relaxed, with the breath soft and even. This will bring centering energies to the third eye.
Sadhana means spiritual path, that is the set of all the practices, rituals and austerities that are performed with regularity and concentration, with the aim of obtaining Moksha (liberation). It is an act of purification and expansion of the mind, which leads to the state of Self-Realization.
In the tantra it is stated that Shiva , in his infinite grace, full of compassion for suffering beings in this dark age, proclaimed tantric sadhana by means of spiritual emancipation. Tantrism is not a simple theory or philosophy, but above all it prescribes a systematic sadhana , a regular discipline, according to the practitioner’s temperament, ability and evolutionary degree. A terrific opportunity to experiment with extraordinary techniques for spiritual evolution, introducing yourself to the world of yantra, mantra and tantra .
Yantra , mantra and tantrasymbolically represent the three paths of Hinduism. The yantra is the path of knowledge (Jñanamarg), themantra is the path of devotion (Bhaktimarg), theTantra is the path of action (Karmasanyasmarg).
Main types of Sadhana
Repetition of the Name
Namasmarana / Japa Mala (repetition of formulas or mantras)
Abstention / austerity
Silence (abstention from speech)
Fasting (whole wheat, or limited to certain types of food)
Jai Jagannath Mahaprabhu – The Lord of the Universe
This is a narration about Lord Jagannath’s Ratha Yatra , its significance and its relation to the Journey of Life
On this day the Lord of the Universe – Lord Jagannath himself comes out of his palace among all his followers to a journey …… a journey of life …. i.e. a journey from his working place (Karma Bhumi) to his birth place (Janma Bhumi) and then back. The Lord himself takes the journey along with his elder brother Lord Balabadhra and his Sister Devi Subadhra along with thousands and thousands of his followers and devotees .
This journey of life by Lord Jagannath has a meaning and significance. This journey by the lord is taken on wooden chariots called ‘Rath’. All the three deities have their own individual chariots . Lord Balabadhra chariot is called Taladwadja, Devi Subdhra’s chariot is called Tarpadalana and Lord Jagannath’s chariot is called Nandighosh.
The Story of Rath Yatra: Why Hindus celebrate Lord Jagannath Festival?
Once upon a time while Lord Jagannath was away, His dearest devotees shed tears in His absence. When Lord Jagannath heard these accounts of immense love in separation, His eyes opened wide and filled with tears, His hair began to stand on end, and His arms and legs shrank as He went into the state of pure spiritual bliss.
Seeing Lord Jagannath in this condition, Balabhadra (his elder brother) and Subhadra (his younger sister) both displayed similar features and went into the state of spiritual bliss. Thus today the deities of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra, and Balabhadra represent this time on Jagannath Rath Yatra.
The festival of Rath Yatra represents Lord Jagannath’s yearning to rejoin with His devotees in Gundicha Temple (which was his birthplace – Janama Bhumi) and Mausi Maa Temple (which was his aunt’s home).
As per Hindu tradition, the Lord gets lovesick once a year during the month of Ashadha. To make the Lord happy – the devotees take Him, His elder brother, and younger sister – out of the Jagannath Temple on a lavish procession in a chariot to get together with His devotees in Gundicha Temple which is located 2 miles away to the North. The deities stay there for complete seven days, followed by a visit to their aunt’s home (Mausi Maa Temple) on their return journey back to Jagannath Temple.
Five hundred years ago, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Lord Krishna, requested His devotees to observe Ratha Yatra with great delight and enthusiasm. On this day, Lord Chaitanya used to go down on his knees and scrub the Gundicha sanctuary where Lord Jagannath would stay.
Ratha Yatra is a Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha, India. It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World, whose descriptions can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.
Ratha Jatra, the Festival of Chariot: Chariots of Shri Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Odisha, on the second (dwitiya) day of shukla pakhya (waxing cycle of moon) of Ashadha Maasa (3rd month in Lunar Calendar). The presiding deities of the Jagannath Temple, Puri’s main temple, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel (Sudarshana Chakra/ସୁଦର୍ଶନ ଚକ୍ର ) are removed from the temple in a ceremonial procession to their chariots. The huge, colorfully decorated chariots are drawn by multitude of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha Temple (Gundicha – King Indradyumna’s Queen), two miles away to the North. On the way the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, Nandighosa (ନନ୍ଦିଘୋଷ) waits near the crematorium of Bhakta Salabega (ଭକ୍ତ ସାଲବେଗ) a Muslim devout to pay him tribute.
On their way back from the Gundicha Temple, the three deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple (Aunt’s abode) and have an offering of the Poda Pitha, which is a special type of pancake supposed to be the Lord’s favorite. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode. The return journey of Puri Jagannath Ratha Jatra is known as Bahuda Jatra.
This is the only time of the year when devotees who are not allowed in the temple premises, such as non-Hindus and foreigners, can get their glimpse of the deities. During the festival, devotees from all over the world go to Puri with an earnest desire to help pulling the Lords’ chariots with the help of other priests pulling the chariots with ropes. They consider this auspicious deed. The huge processions accompanying the chariots play devotional songs with drums, tambourines, trumpets etc. Children line the streets through which the chariot will pass and add to the mass chorus.
The Ratha carts themselves are approximately 45 feet (14 m) high and are pulled by the thousands of pilgrims who turn up for the event; the chariots are built anew each year only from a particular type of tree. Millions of devotees congregate at Puri for this annual event from all over the country and abroad.
Chandana Jatra(ଚନ୍ଦନ ଯାତ୍ରା)
The construction of the chariots starts on Akshaya Trutiya, the third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha, with ritual fire worship. This takes place in front of the palace of the King of Puri and opposite the main office of the Puri temple. On this day, the new agricultural season starts and farmers start plowing their fields. This day also marks the beginning of the summer festival of the deities, also known as the sandalwood festival or Chandan Yatra, which lasts for three weeks.
In this festival, the representative images of the presiding deities are taken out in colorful processions and given a ceremonial boat ride in the Narendra pokhari/tank (ନରେନ୍ଦ୍ର ପୋଖରୀ) every day. In an interesting demonstration of the assimilative character of the Jagannatha cult, Madanmohana (ମଦନମୋହନ) and Rama Krushna, representing Jagannatha & Balarama partake in the festival with the representatives’ images of the presiding deities of five main Shiva temples of Puri. These are curiously known as Pancha Pandava (ପାଞ୍ଚ ପାଣ୍ଡବ), the five brothers of the Mahabharata story. Later the deities have a ritual bath in a small temple in the middle of the tank, in stone tubs filled with water, sandalwood paste, scents, and flowers.
This sandalwood festival culminates in the Snana Yatra (ସ୍ନାନ ଯାତ୍ରା ), the Bathing Festival on the full moon day of the month of Jestha. On this day, the presiding deities descend from their seats on an elevated platform in the sanctum sanctorum, the bejeweled throne. They are bathed in 108 pots of water brought from the suna kua, the golden well and assume the elephant form on the special bathing platform, close to the Eastern boundary wall of the temple.
From that day the deities remain in symbolic and ritual convalescence for about two weeks. They are barred from the view of the ordinary devotees. Only three special patta chitras, traditional Oriya paintings of natural colors on cloth stiffened with starch, known as Anasara Pattis, are strung on a bamboo screen hiding the deities from public view, can be seen by the public. During this period, the deities are given only roots, leaves, berries and fruits to cure them of their indisposition. This ritual is a reminder of the strong tribal elements in the genesis and evolution of the Jagannatha cult. The progeny of Lalita, daughter of the original tribal worshipper Biswabasu, chieftain of hunters, and the Brahmin priest Vidyapati, are known as daitapatis or daitas. They have the almost exclusive privilege of serving the Lord during the convalescence and through the entire period of Ratha Jatra or the Festival of Chariots.
The most significant ritual associated with the Ratha-Yatra is the chhera pahara. During the festival, the Gajapati King wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots in the Chera Pahara (sweeping with water) ritual. The Gajapati King cleanses the road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion. As per the custom, although the Gajapati King has been considered the most exalted person in the Kalingan kingdom, he still renders the menial service to Jagannath. This ritual signified that under the lordship of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King and the most humble devotee.
Chera pahara is held on two days, on the first day of the Ratha Yatra, when the deities are taken to garden house at Mausi Maa Temple and again on the last day of the festival, when the deities are ceremoniously brought back to the Shri Mandir.
As per another ritual, when the deities are taken out from the Shri Mandir to the Chariots in Pahandi Vijay.
The three chariots of Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannatha are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees like phassi, dhausa, etc. They are customarily brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla by a specialist team of carpenters who have hereditary rights and privileges for the same. The logs are traditionally set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi. These are collected near Puri and then transported by road.
The three chariots are decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue. Covered with bright canopies made of stripes of red cloth and combined with those of black, yellow and green colours, the huge chariots are lined across the wide avenue in front of the majestic temple close to its eastern entrance, which is also known as the Sinhadwara or the Lion’s Gate.
Around each of the chariots are nine Parsva devatas, painted wooden images representing different deities on the chariots’ sides. Each of the chariots is attached to four horses. These are of different colours – dark ones for Balarama, white ones for Jagannatha, and red ones for Subhadra. Each chariot has a charioteer called Sarathi. The three charioteers attached to the chariots of Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra respectively are Daruka, Matali and Arjuna.
The Chariot of Balabhadra named as Taladhwaja or Langaladhwaja. The Lord is accompanied by Ramakrishna.
The chariot of Lord Balarama, called the Taladhwaja, is the one with the Palm Tree on its flag. It has fourteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter and is covered with red and green cloth. Its height is forty-four feet.
Tala – means rhythm, pace, beat. Dhwadja – signifies the propaganda
Taladhwadja – to propagate life in a rhythmic manner.
The chariot of Subhadra named as Darpadalana or Devadalana or Padmadhwaja(ପଦ୍ମଧ୍ଵଜ). The Goddess is accompanied by Sudarshana(ସୁଦର୍ଶନ). (ମନୋଜ)
The chariot of Subhadra, known as Dwarpadalana, literally “trampler of pride,” is forty-three feet high with twelve wheels, each of seven-foot diameter. This chariot is decked with a covering of red and black cloth – black being traditionally associated with Shakti and the Mother Goddess.
Darpadalana – Dapra Means Ego/pride, Dalana means to diminish/trample
Darpadalana means to root out/crush all evil in our lifes— kama, krodha, moha, lobha, mada , marchyja i.e lust, anger, selfishness, greed, arrogance and ego/pride.
The chariot of Lord Jagannath is named as Nandighosha or Garudadhwaja or Kapiladhwaja. The Lord is accompanied by Madanmohan.
Lord Jagannatha’s chariot is called Nandighosa. It is forty-five feet high and forty-five feet square at the wheel level. It has sixteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter, and is decked with a cover made of red and yellow cloth. Lord Jagannatha is identified with Krushna, who is also known as Pitambara, the one attired in golden yellow robes and hence the distinguishing yellow stripes on the canopy of this chariot.
Nandighosh – the journey of life to become blissful and happy – life
full of Ananda and happiness .
The lord tells us by taking this Yatra that to first adapt and propagate our lifestyle in a rhythm (Tala) that is to be followed daily i.e. wake , eat, work, sleep, exercise, etc at the particular time every day. Every day should have the same rhythm. Once life propagates in a rhythmic manner we should trample and crush all the evil qualities within us (dapradalana) which will make our life’s journey blissful and anandmaya (nandighosha). The journey is taken on the Bada danda or which signifies the span of life and the life of evolution as lord travels to his birthpace i.e. life toggles from our birth to death.
The yatra is for 9 days which also signifies the Navdwars of our body that is 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nosestrills, 1 mouth, maladwara and mutradwara.
Suna Besha(ସୁନା ବେଶ)
The Suna Besha of Lord Jagannath
After the chariots of the deities return to the main temple from the Gundicha temple, the deities are attired in gold ornaments and worshiped on the chariots. This celebration is known as Suna Besha. Tradition maintains that this event was first started by King Kapilendra Deb in 1460, when after returning victorious from war he donated gold to Lord Jagannath. The deities are adorned with gold jewelry weighing nearly 208 kg.
The Meaning of Terms
Jagannath: Lord Jagannath is a reincarnation of lords Vishnu and Krishna. It is the name of the deity worshiped in Hinduism and Buddhism. The term is a compound word, consisting of “Jagan” meaning Lord and “Nath” meaning universe. It literally means “Lord of the Universe”.
Rath: It is a Sanskrit word, meaning chariot or carriage.
Yatra: It is a Sanskrit word, meaning journey or pilgrimage.
Narrations By: Sri Yogananda
Jagannath Swami Nayan-Path-Gami Bhavatu Me ||
From Poem Sri Jagannath Astakam by Sri Adi Sankaracharya
In temples, one must have surely observed bell at the entrance of the temple and in special places. The bell is also an important part of the temple. But do you know what is the religious and scientific importance of putting and ringing the bell? Ever wondered why this is done for what reason and why do we play it?
The temple bell is not just ordinary metal but a scientific bell. It is made of various metals including cadmium, copper, nickel, chromium and Manganese. In which ratio each metal is mixed, this is the most important thing and the real science behind a bell. Every bell is created to produce such a distinctive sound that it synchronizes your left and right brain. When the person rings the bell, then the high sound produced from it lasts for at least seven consecutive seconds, touching the seven chakras of the human body.
It is believed that when you ring the bell, then your mind becomes empty from thoughts. And you enter in the state where you are more receptive and aware. Even it is considered that this is the only way to awaken your mind and thoughts, before you enter the temple. It is also believed that when the bell is played then there is a vibration in the atmosphere, which goes far enough due to the atmosphere. The advantage of this vibration is that all the bacteria, viruses and micro-organisms that are coming in its area are destroyed so that the surrounding environment becomes purified. Therefore, the atmosphere where the bell is rung, the environment always remains pure and sacred. It removes negative forces and opens doors to prosperity.
Even while performing rituals like Aarti, we ring the bell and the auspicious sound of the conch and other musical instruments are also played along with it. It has special significance too, that it removes the attention of the human from any other sounds.
On the first day, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past.
For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.”
The dog said, “That’s a long time to be barking.
How about only ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten?”
And God saw it was good.
On the second day, God created the monkey and said,
“Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh.
For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.”
The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for twenty years?
That’s a pretty long time to perform.
How about I give you back ten like the dog did?”
And God, again saw it was good.
On the third day, God created the cow and said,
“You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer’s family.
For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.”
The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I’ll give back the other forty?”
And God agreed it was good.
On the fourth day, God created humans and said,
“Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you twenty years.”
But the human said, “Only twenty years?
Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back,
the ten the monkey gave back,
and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?”
“Okay,” said God, “You asked for it.”
So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone. Life has now been explained to you
You start dying slowly If you do not travel, If you do not read, If you do not listen to the sounds of life, If you do not appreciate yourself.
You start dying slowly When you kill your self-esteem; When you do not let others help you.
You start dying slowly If you become a slave of your habits, Walking everyday on the same paths… If you do not change your routine, If you do not wear different colors Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.
You start dying slowly If you avoid to feel passion And their turbulent emotions; Those which make your eyes glisten And your heart beat fast.
You start dying slowly If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love, If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain, If you do not go after a dream, If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…
By Pablo Nerula,
( Spanish Poet ) Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971
Very very true. Every word. Thank you Sir.
There would be more happiness and less discontent in the world if people listened to the advice in the poem. Being grateful for what we have, stopping to take pleasure in nature’s beauty around us, and creating loving relationships with family and friends is what it’s all about. Hug at least one person every day. Admire the colors of the sunset, the different shades of green in the spring, and enjoy all the flowers that represent the basis of life beginning all over again. Hold a new baby whenever you can.
There’s a poem going around the internet, often shared on Facebook/whatsapp called “You Start Dying Slowly.” Its words seeped through my soul. It touched the bits of me that don’t feel quite alive and vibrant right now.
So on this lovely day, I leave you with this poem to ponder on. Take some time to find what in you is dying slowly and how the zombie in you can return to the land of the living. Whether it is a job you have long wanted to resign from, or your desire to migrate to a place where you feel like you truly belong, or even for once wear something instead of black, or to order samosa or paratha instead of your favorite spaghetti. We’re all in a rut somehow. I know I am. And it’s time to get out of our comfort zones and to finally live fully!
I know I will be reading this poem over again and again, and reflecting on. It is a great reminder to live LARGE every single minute of every day!
Once an unhappy young man came to an old master and told he had a very sad life and asked for a solution. The old Master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. “How does it taste?” – the Master asked.
“Terrible.” – spat the apprentice. The Master chuckled and then asked the young man to take another handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and when the apprentice swirled his handful of salt into the lake. The old man said, “Now drink from the lake.” As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the Master asked, “How does it taste?”
“Good!” – remarked the apprentice. “Do you taste the salt?” – asked the Master. “No.” – said the young man. The Master sat beside this troubled young man, took his hands, and said, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount we taste the ‘pain’ depends on the container we put it into. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”