16 Step Puja Worship in Hinduism

puja worship

A Hindu brahmin priest performing puja on a bronze Nataraja in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

There are numerous forms of worship among Hindus, of which Puja is one of the more popular. The most widely accepted and followed system of Puja is the Shodasa – Upachara Puja, or 16 – Service worship.

The main purpose of this type of Puja is two-fold. Primarily it is to uplift the five senses of the worshiper, and by doing so elevate him to a higher level of consciousness that will promote good thoughts and actions. Secondarily it draws upon the Indian traditions of honoring a guest, wherein each upachara is a service to the deity who takes presence in the sculpture for the duration of the Puja.

  1. DhyaanaMeditating on the deity that is being invoked.
  2. AavaahanaInviting the deity into the altar.
  3. AasanaGiving the deity a seat.
  4. Paadya Washing the deity’s feet with clean water.
  5. ArghyaOffering the deity water to rinse hands and mouth.
  6. AachamanaOffering the deity water to drink.
  7. SnaanaBathing the deity with various auspicious items.
  8. VasthraDressing the deity with clean clothes.
  9. YagnopaveethaOffering the deity a clean sacred thread.
  10. GandhaSpreading fresh sandalwood paste on the deity.
  11. Pushpa Offering fresh flowers while chanting the deity’s names.
  12. DhoopaSpreading incense smoke throughout the altar.
  13. DeepaWaving a lamp to illuminate the freshly decorated deity.
  14. NaivedyaOffering the deity food.
  15. Taambula ­– Offering the deity a refreshing mix of betel nut and leaves.
  16. Pradakshina & NamaskaraCircumambulating the altar and bidding farewell to the deity.

Among these sixteen services, five hold more importance than the rest. Together these five services are referred to as the pancha – upacharas, and include gandha, pushpa, dhoopa, deepa, and naivedya. Collectively, these five services engage the five senses.

  • Gandha – Touch
  • Sandalwood paste cools the skin and is a natural insect repellant.
  • Pushpa – Hearing
  • The recitation of the deity’s names that accompanies each flower engages the ears.
  • Dhoopa – Smell
  • Incense envelops the entire temple with a refreshing fragrance for the nose.
  • Deepa – Sight
  • The lamp illuminates the deity and brings out the beauty of the icon to the eyes.
  • Naivedya – Taste
  • Food that has been offered to the deity is eaten and entices the taste buds.
ganesh, puja ceremony

Bronze Ganesh in opening eye ceremony at the Cleveland Museum of Art

15 Mantras for Appeasing Goddess Saraswati

The Hindu Goddess Saraswati is known as the mother of Vedas and the synonym of knowledge, music, craft, wisdom, arts and auspiciousness. It is believed that appeasing Goddess Saraswati will remove all the obstacles that one will encounter during his or her career or education. Saraswati is known by different names, such as Vak Devi, the goddess of speech and Sakala Kaladhistatri, goddess bestowing all the arts.

Here, are lists of mantras that are widely used by students to score high in exams. It is believed that students, who after working hard failed to succeed in exams and these mantras, have helped them to attain their goal.

1. Bija Mantra of Saraswati

Aum

Aing Saraswathye Namah

Aum

Meaning: Salutations to Goddess Saraswati

2. Vidya Mantra for students: This sloka is found to improve memory, power and concentration in studies.

Saraswati Namasthubhyam

Varade Kamarupini

Vidhyarambam Karishyami

Siddhir Bavathume Sadha

3. Saraswati Vandana

Yaa Kundendu tushaara haaradhavalaa,

Yaa shubhravastraavritha|

Yaa veenavara dandamanditakara,

aa shwetha padmaasana||

Yaa brahmaachyutha shankara

prabhritibhir Devaisadaa Vanditha|

Saa Maam Paatu Saraswatee

Bhagavatee Nihshesha jaadyaapahaa|

Meaning: May the Goddess Saraswati protect me. She is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops. She is adorned in radiant white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus. She is surrounded and respected by the Gods. Please remove my weariness, sluggishness and ignorance.

4. Mahasaraswati Mantra

Om

Aing Mahasaraswatyai Namah

Meaning: Salutations to Goddess Maha Saraswati

5. Saraswati Mantra

Shuklaam Brahmvichaar

Saar Paramaadyaam Jagadvyaapineem Veennaa Pushtak

Dhaarinneebhamay Daam

Jaad Yaapandhkaaraapahaam

Haste Sfatik Maalikaam Vidhateem

Paramaasane Sansthitaam Vande Taam

Parameshwareem Bhagwateem Buddhi Pradaam Shaaradaam.

Meaning: I plead to Goddess Saraswati who is fair in color, the first and foremost divine energy, who is present in the world in the form of knowledge, who wields a Veena, Vedas, Sfatik rosary in her hands and one of whose hands is raised in blessing. She is the one who is capable of eliminating ignorance and bestow intelligence.

6. Maha Saraswati Mantra: This simple mantra is mainly used by students to make learning easy.

Om Aim  Hrim

Kleem Maha Saraswati Devaya

Namaha

7. Saraswati Mantra to recite before study

Saraswathi Namasthubhyam,

Varadey Kaamarupinee

Vidhyarambham Karishyami,

Sidhir bhavathu mey sada

Meaning: O, Goddess Saraswati, my humble prostrations unto Thee. She is capable of fulfilling all my wishes. I request you to bestow thy blessings on me, before I start my studies.

8. Saraswati Mantra for Success in Education and Career

Om

Vageeshwaryae Vidmahe Vagwadeenyae

Dhimahe Tannah Saraswati Prachodayat

This mantra is also known as Gayathri of Saraswati

9. Saraswati Mantra

Saraswati Mahabhage

Vidye Kamalalochane

Vishwaroope Vishaalaakshi

Vidyam dehi namosthuthe

Meaning: Oh great Goddess Saraswati, the lotus-eyed personified knowledge. Oh, I request you to shower me with all the powers and glories of all knowledge that exist. She has large-eyes, taking the form of the whole universe.

10. Saraswati Mantra for Acquiring Knowledge

Vad Vad Vaagwaadinee Swaha

11. Saraswati Mantra for Enhancing Intelligence

Om

Aing Hreeng Shreeng

Vaagdevyai Saraswatyai Namah

12. Saraswati Mantra for Wealth and Knowledge

Om

Arham Mukha Kamal Vaasinee

Paapaatma Kshayam Kaari

Vad Vad Vaagwaadinee Saraswati

Aing Hreeng Namah Swaaha

 

13. Saraswati Ashtakshara Mantra: This mantra comprises of the 12 names of Goddess Saraswati and it is advised that all knowledge seekers should practice it, to gain high and pure knowledge.

Pratham Bharti naam l

Dwitaya tu Saraswati l

Trutiya Sharda Devi l

Chaturth Hansavahini l

Pancham Jagatikhayata l

Shasth Maheshwari tatha l

Saptham tu Kaumari l

Astham Bhramacharini l

Navam Vidhyadhatrini l Dasham Vardayini l

Ekadasham Rudraghanta l

Dwadasham Bhuneshwari l

Atani Dwadsho Naamami l

Y Patcchrnuyaadpi l

Nach Vidhna Bhav Taysa Mantra Siddhiker Tatha l

14. Mantra for Knowledge: Reciting this mantra will increase the mental capability and will considerably increase the knowledge gain.

Om

Namo Bhagwati Saraswati Parmeshwari

Vaagvaadini Mam Vidhya Dehi Bhagwati

Bhans Vaahini Hans Samarudha Buddhi

Dehi Dehi Pragya Dehi Dehi

Vidhya Parmeshwari Saraswati Swaha

15. Mantra for illumination: This mantra is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati to illuminate the minds of knowledge seekers.

Maho

Arnah Saraswati Pracheyati Ketuna,

Dhiyo Vishwa Virajati

Life of the Buddha – The Light of Asia

The Buddha brought the world a philosophy in which to navigate the world of suffering.  Here is a brief account into the life he led and the experiences that showed him the middle way to the cessation of suffering and samasara.

Birth

Siddhartha Gautama, known as Buddha, the “Awakened,” was the son of Suddhodana, ruler of the Sakhyas, a region lying to the northeast of Oude, in northern India and now this place is inside the border of the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal. It is believed that Queen Maya, wife of the King Suddhodana, had a dream that a shiny light appeared in the sky, gradually approached her, and melted into her body. The queen filled with joy described the dream to her husband and both of them met a wise man to know the meaning of the dream. The wise man’s words made the king very happy as the man explained that the king is going to have an heir to the throne. The prophecy came true and the queen gave birth to a beautiful son in the Lumbini gardens. All the people experienced great happiness and peace of mind. The joyous parents named the cute little Prince “Siddhartha”, which means “the one who has brought about all good.”

The words of hermit Asita

Asita was a Holy teacher and he came to visit the newborn. He saw many good signs in the child and told the king that if the child chooses to stay with the king, then he will be one of the greatest rulers in the history, who will rein a large kingdom and keep the people happy. However, if the child chooses to leave the palace, seeking a way to end all suffering of humanity, then he will attain the greatest knowledge and will become the greatest spiritual leader ever.

Childhood

The queen Maya could not stay long with Siddhartha and she asked her sister to take care of the little prince. The Prince grew up to be a handsome and kindhearted young man. He always loved to remain alone in the garden, when other children of his age group were busy with harsh games. He spent his childhood in Kapilavastu and its vicinity, and was very passionate to all the living beings; even the wild animals were friendly with him. Many instances that took place during his childhood describe the passion, love, and kindheartedness of the prince. The prince was very bright and intelligent in studies, but never liked to learn how to rule a kingdom.

Marriage

The king was so happy to know about the intelligence of his son, while sad that the prince was very gentle. Therefore, he along with minister made a plan and found the perfect match for the Prince. Siddhartha was married to Princess Yasodhara at the age of sixteen.

Path of renunciation

Prince Siddhartha was happy with his wife and they were blessed with a son, named Rahula. At the age of twenty-nine, the prince wanted to know more about his people and world outside his palace gardens.  He managed to get out of the palace and roam in the streets, with his servant Channa. The sight of a decrepit old man, a sick man, and a corpse changed the life of the prince and turned him to the path of renunciation. These sights made him leave the palace, wealth, power, father, wife, and the his only child to find a way to renounce the world of miseries and sorrows.

Enlightenment

The prince reached Magadha, and met the saints Arada and Udraka and learned from them. He was not satisfied with their teachings and moved to Nairangana River, near the holy town of Gaya. He then began to practice yoga, severe austerities, and Pranayama for several years. He finally tried to attain supreme peace by practicing self-mortification. He sat below the sacred Pipal tree or fig tree at Bodhi Gaya, abstained from all temptations, his mind became calm and relaxed, and by midnight, he attained nirvana. He woke up very happily with a calm and peaceful smile, and his face shone with divine splendor and effulgence. He became the Buddha, meaning the Awakened One. He was also known as Sakhya-Muni.

His Teaching or Dharma

Buddha travelled to different villages and farms of Banaras and wanted to spread the knowledge to all people and relieve all from the sufferings of this worldly life. His teachings were so powerful that regardless of the conditions, caste, creed, or types of men and women, people began to listen to his teaching and found that self-realization is the only way to get supreme peace of mind and happiness. Buddha treated all people as one, without any discrimination for the rich or poor, simple or intelligent, of noble birth or low. His first teaching, known as “Turning the Wheel of the Dharma,” given to five monks, who pleaded for knowledge to Buddha in the Deer Park, at Sarnath around 527 BC. He also revealed the four noble truths of life. People were attracted to him and he used different ways of teaching, which included interesting stories that will appease the children.

King Bimbisara was a disciple of Buddha and always visited Vulture’s Peak, where Buddha and his disciples lived. Buddha returned to his kingdom and by his great teaching converted his father, wife, son, and all his dear ones to his disciples.

Final Journey

At the age of eighty, Buddha felt that it is time to return to the palace where he grew up.  He summoned his faithful Ananda, and started to Kapilavasthu. On the way, Buddha and his disciples passed through the village of Kushinagar. Buddha told Ananda that this is the place where he shall pass away.

Buddha, “the enlightened one,” traveled preaching the Dharma and was successful in saving many people from sacrificing the life of innocent animals, as a part of their religious customs. Buddha is the founder of Buddhism and his teaching are known to fill with excessive intellectualism and agnosticism. The great historian Edward Arnold referred the great legend Buddha as the “Light of Asia.”

25 Quotes from Lord Buddha

View all our Buddha Statues

View all our Buddha Statues

For the world, Buddha means “Awakened One” or “the enlightened one.”
He, through his teachings, tried to relieve people from the mental obstructions.
The teachings of this great man is known as The Four Noble Truths or the Noble Eight-fold Path and here are some of the quotes that will inspire you, make you think and reflect the deeper truth of reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspirational Buddha Quotes

1. The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.

2. All wrong doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong doing remain?

3. Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

4. Embrace nothing:

If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.

If you meet your father, kill your father.

Only live your life as it is,

Not bound to anything

5. In the end

These things matter most:

How well did you love?

How fully did you live?

How deeply did you let go?

6. Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

7. However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?

8. There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.

9. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

10. Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.

11. Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

12. In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true

 

Calming Buddha Quotes

 

1. To understand everything is to forgive everything.

2. The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows

3. Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.

4. The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows

5. Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others

6. The following lines are taken from Dhammapada:

Mind is the forerunner of (all evil) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, suffering follows one, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox.

Mind is the forerunner of (all good) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with pure mind, AFFECTION follows one, even as one’s shadow that never leaves.

7. If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.

8. An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.

9. The tongue like a sharp knife… Kills without drawing blood.

10. To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

11. To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.

12. When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear.

13. Every human being is the author of his own health or disease

The Third Eye in Hinduism & Buddhism

 

As the traditions change, the meaning of the third eye also changes. Here, are some of the common old and new concepts about the third eye in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Lord Shiva’s third eye

Lord Shiva, the destroyer and the restorer, is one of the most complex Hindu gods. The various symbols surrounding Him details about the qualities and powers of the deity. The Lord is also known as Tryambaka Deva, as He is often depicted as having three eyes. The devotees consider His right eye as the Sun and the left eye as Moon. The third eye is the eye of spiritual wisdom and knowledge. It is believed that He uses the third eye to see beyond the apparent and protect the good ones from the evildoers. All the evil and the ignorance vanish as the third eye opens.
Hindus believe that the physical world will be destroyed if Shiva opens His third eye.

Buddhism and third eye

In Buddhism, the third eye refers to Eye of Consciousness, which asks followers to see the world beyond their physical eyes. It advises people to see the world with their mind.

Modern concepts about third eye in Hinduism and Buddhism

As per the modern spirituality, the third eye is a symbol of enlightenment. It is often referred to as “gyananakashu”, (the eye of knowledge). In Indian and East Asian iconography, the third eye is the “Ajna chakra” or the sixth chakra. It is also known as brow chakra or brow center. The third eye, or “Eye of Wisdom”, or, in Buddhism, the urna, is denoted by a dot, or mark on the forehead in the deities of Shiva or Buddha.

In certain Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, the third eye is the gate that leads the followers within to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In the new concept, the third eye symbolizes a state of enlightenment.