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3 Important Things to Know About Shiva Murtis

3 important things to know about Shiva Murtis

 

Om Namah Shivaya! Shiva is the most popular of all Hindu deities & is worshiped throughout the Indian subcontinent and greater southeast Asia. He is revered as the lord who is responsible for maintaining the cycle of existence; including its beginning and conclusion. Being the patron deity of yoga & meditation, he is considered to be ultimately formless, omnipresent, and the Atman(eternal soul) of the universe itself. In his less abstract depictions, he is depicted as Bholenath, an ascetic yogi who lives in the Himalayas. It is said that lord Shiva grants his followers Moksha(liberation from reincarnation), & eternal happiness and bliss.

  • Where to place Shiva’s murti in the home

According to Vastu Shastra(traditional vedic architecture) there are specific places that one should seat the murti in order to reinforce & strengthen the vibrations & energies they give off. It is most ideal to place lord Shiva &|or his Lingam in the northeastern most part of the mandir or whatever space chosen; as is tradition with most murtis. Another reason for this is that it is said lord Shiva & goddess Parvati reside on mount Kailash and that the symbolic placing of Shiva, Ganesh, & Parvati murtis in northeastern corners is done in homage to this myth.

  • To Shiva Lingam, or not to Shiva Lingam? That is the question.

To answer that question simply: yes. Definitely yes. It’s not exactly a shrine to Shiva without his most sacred symbol. The Lingam stone is an abstract representation of the deva and is considered as a literal manifestation of Shiva’s omnipresence & formlessness. There are many myths about the do’s & don’ts of placing lord Shiva in the mandir, and the biggest myth is that you should only keep a single image of Shiva as multiple murtis cause a disruption in the mandir’s vibrations. This is not exactly so. Though Lingas are generally kept somewhat secluded in the mandir, it is not uncommon to have a second murti of Shiva-ji meditating or in his Nataraja(cosmic dance) posture raised on a platform & placed immediately behind the Lingam or adjacent to it.

  • General upkeep

The general upkeep of Shiva murtis in the home mandir is incredibly important! Thankfully, Shiva isn’t a very difficult deva to appease. Simply make sure the mandir is always clean, offer puja at least once a week, and make sure to meditate in front of the murti daily; once just after waking & again just before bed. The only offerings that are necessary for Shiv puja are water, uncooked rice, flowers, incense, and vibhuti(holy ash). One should also always try to keep a small candle or diya(brass oil lamp) lit next to the Shiva murti|Shiv Lingam; however, this is not absolutely necessary as sometimes it can be a fire hazard. It’s mainly a traditional thing.

3 most important things to know about Ganesh Murtis

Ganesh, also known as Shri Ganapati, is one of if not the most popular of all Hindu deities. He’s worshiped and honoured regardless of hindu denomination. So much so, his reverence spreads to even Buddhist and Jains alike. Being the patron of arts & science, remover of obstacles, keeper of wisdom, and lord of beginnings, it’s hard to not like him!  Ganesha can be found in just about every Hindu shrine due to these attributes, so here are the most important things to keep in mind when placing your Ganapati murti!

 

  • Where to place the Murti in home

Most are not aware, but there are specific places one may place the Ganapati Murti in order to strengthen the vibrations of bliss and success. It is ideal to seat the Murti in the northeastern most part of the home. If any other murtis are present, it is most proper for Ganesh to be seated to the right hand side of these murtis if he is not to be the center of the mandir. According to the Vastu Shastra(traditional vedic architecture), this positioning aids with the flow of chakra in the temple. It is also extremely common to have a small picture or idol of Ganesh next to or above the entryway of the home &|or puja room as it is said this acts as a blessing for those coming and going.

  • Posture of the Murti

Ganesha murtis come in many postures, & each gives off an entirely different vibration for a completely different purpose. The most common type is the sitting or meditating position. This posture is called the lalitasana. Sometimes rather than having both legs folded, one leg will be on the ground while the other rests upon his vahana(his mouse). This denotes that he is concerned with earthly affairs & is here to aid his followers and remove obstacles while his meditating pose where both legs are folded creates an atmosphere of calm and determination. His dancing or standing  posture is for those seeking a creative, energetic, & artistic atmosphere. His sitting postures are best for the home while his standing postures are best for work environments.

  • Position of the Trunk

This is a key aspect of Ganesh murtis that is often overlooked but should never be! When purchasing a Ganapati murti, be very very choosy. The trunk is the most important aspect of this specific murti. There are three main styles: Vamamukhi, Dakshinmukhi murti, and Shushumna. Vamamukhi trunks hang to the left & are the easiest to please and are associated with calmness, success, & happiness. They are also sometimes called Vastu Ganesh because he is perfect for solving vastu related issues. Whereas, Dakshinmukhi murti trunks hang to the right. It is believed that the sun’s energy flows through this murti’s trunk & because of this, owning one is not recommended as they require special care as per vedic tradition. If one worships this murti properly, it is said to grant immediate results & moksha(liberation from reincarnation); however, if one doesn’t follow the proper tradition then it is said that all the good results gained from the worship are burned away by the sun’s energy. The final kind is called Shushumna. With trunks hanging down straight, these statues are rather rare and considered extremely auspicious. 

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8 Guidelines for Setting up a Home Mandir for your Murtis

In every Hindu home you will find a small home altar or mandir for the proper worship of the homes murtis. A murti is an embodiment of a Hindu god in any form which is usually a statue of the god or goddesses. The number one rule to remember when constructing dir in the home is that there are no rules, only guidelines. That being said, let’s get to the guidelines!

Bronze Vishnu Home Mandir
  1. Where does a Mandir go in your home?
    One should devote an entire room to construct the mandir; however, if this is not available you can simply choose a quiet corner of a room somewhere in the house. According to the Vastu Shastra (traditional hindu architecture), the home altar room should always be the northeastern most room in the home & the shrine itself should be in the northeastern most corner of that room chosen as this aids with the flow of proper energy or chakra.

  2. Which Gods Should be in the Home Altar?
    The main devas or Gods found in any home are, and by no means limited to: Ganesha, Parvati, Shiva, Vishnu, & Krishna. Sometimes households only care for one deity while others prefer to have an entire pantheon. Regardless of how many deities reside in the shrine, there is always one Ishta Deva (personal favorite). This deity’s area on the shrine is the center most seat & is always the most elaborate & the best kept.

  3. Three words. Ganesha, Ganesha, & Ganesha!
    It is extremely important to note that Ganesha-ji should always have a place in every mandir. It just wouldn’t be a temple without him! Since he is the lord of beginnings, as a rule of thumb he is always placed in the mandir before any other deity.

    There is a small Ganesh statue on the right of this mandir to Lord Rama

    Shop for Ganesha Statues>> 

  4. What should the Mandir be made from?
    A ready made mandir is ideal to house murtis; however, not everyone has a temple lying about. A small table with a saffron colored cloth draped over it will do perfectly in its absence. You will also need an incense burner, a diya(oil lamp), a bell, & a small box or jar to hold dakshina (offering of money).

  5. Cabinet for Supplies
    It might not be too bad of an idea to keep a small cabinet or something nearby the mandir to hold all the supplies & things needed to perform pūjā (worship), aarti (lighting of ghee candles), & general upkeep of the mandir.

  6. Placement of Murtis
    The murtis should be placed on this table or in the ready made mandir facing towards you. Ideally the murtis should be placed on a smaller platform on top of the table or within the mandir; though, this is not absolutely necessary.

  7. Clothing
    Murtis
    should also be given some form of clothing, flowers, incense, & other offerings regularly as the murtis are quite literally seen as physical manifestations of god(s).

  8. Care and Love
    It’s imperative to remember to always take care of the mandir, make regular offerings of food, incense and flowers, and to meditate in front of the mandir in order to ensure the mandir’s general upkeep.

    Shop for Bronze Hindu Murtis>> 

Home Mandir to Pantheon of Hindu Gods from our customer Graziano in Rome, Italy

Hymn to Please Shiva, Shivarathri Hymn, Shiva Worship

Maha Shivarathri is the most auspicious of festivals dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is believed that on this day Lord Shiva appeared to the world in the form of a pillar of light, or Jyotirlinga. Lord Shiva, the primordial teacher, is believed to be easily pleased; thus, any worship offered to him – regardless of its simplicity or grandeur – is thought to bring about great merit. All across India, and in many Hindu communities around the world, nightlong vigils are observed in honor of Lord Shiva. Devotees offer abhisheka, or a ritual bath, to bronze and stone sculptures of Lord Shiva in his many forms. Among the most popular of the forms that receive worship on this day are the Shiva Linga, Lord Dakshinamurthy, Lord Bhairava, and Lord Somaskanda.

Worship of Shiva Linga
Worship of Shiva Linga

Since Shiva is easily pleased, offering milk, water, leaves, flowers, clothes, fruits, or even an oil lamp is commendable. Simply meditating upon the form of Shiva with a pure mind and utmost devotion is considered the highest form of worship. The sage Adi Shankara wrote Shiva Manasa Puja as an affirmation of this notion. In this beautifully composed hymn, Shankara performs the Puja of Lord Shiva with vivid and devout imagination. Reciting this hymn on the night of Maha Shivarathri is the best way to begin or end the night’s festivities!

ratnaiḥ kalpitamāsanaṃ himajalaiḥ snānaṃ ca divyāmbaraṃ

nānāratna vibhūṣitaṃ mṛgamadā modāṅkitaṃ candanam

jātī campaka bilvapatra racitaṃ puṣpaṃ ca dhūpaṃ tathā

dīpaṃ deva dayānidhe paśupate hṛtkalpitaṃ gṛhyatām

Oh ocean of compassion!

Oh lord of those bound by the noose!

I imagine a throne made of precious gemstones to seat you,

cool water trickling from the Himalayas to bathe you,

divine clothes embroidered with various jewels to adorn you,

sandalwood with the intoxicating fragrance of musk to anoint you,

flowers composed of jasmine, champak, and Bilva leaves,

divine incense,

and a bright oil lamp.

Oh Lord, please accept these offerings which I imagine in my heart for you!

 

sauvarṇe navaratnakhaṇḍa racite pātre ghṛtaṃ pāyasaṃ

bhakṣyaṃ pañcavidhaṃ payodadhiyutaṃ rambhāphalaṃ pānakam

śākānāmayutaṃ jalaṃ rucikaraṃ karpūra khaṇḍojjcalaṃ

tāmbūlaṃ manasā mayā viracitaṃ bhaktyā prabho svīkuru

Rice pudding and ghee in a golden bowl studded with the nine precious gems,

five dishes prepared with milk and curd,

plantains,

juice,

tasty water infused with herbs,

a piece of flaming camphor,

and the aromatic betal leaf,

These I have prepared in my mind with utmost devotion.

Please accept them oh Lord!

 

chatraṃ cāmarayoryugaṃ vyajanakaṃ cādarśakaṃ nirmalaṃ

vīṇā bheri mṛdaṅga kāhalakalā gītaṃ ca nṛtyaṃ tathā

sāṣṭāṅgaṃ praṇatiḥ stuti-rbahuvidhā-hyetat-samastaṃ mayā

saṅkalpena samarpitaṃ tava vibho pūjāṃ gṛhāṇa prabho

I offer a splendid umbrella to shade you,

fly whisks and a fan to cool you,

a spotless mirror to see you,

music from the vīṇā, bheri, and mṛdaṅga to please you,

sweet songs and dances to entertain you,

a full prostration to respect you,

and abundant forms of hymns to praise you.

Conceiving these in my heart, I offer them unto you.

Please accept my puja oh Lord!

 

ātmā tvaṃ girijā matiḥ sahacarāḥ prāṇāḥ śarīraṃ gṛhaṃ

pūjā te viṣayopabhoga-racanā nidrā samādhisthitiḥ

sañcāraḥ padayoḥ pradakṣiṇavidhiḥ stotrāṇi sarvā giro

yadyatkarma karomi tattadakhilaṃ śambho tavārādhanam

You are my soul,

Parvathi is my intellect,

your attendants are my five vital breaths,

my body is your abode.

My involvement in the world is nothing but worship unto you,

my sleep is a deep state of meditation upon you.

My roaming feet are constantly in the divine act of walking around you,

all my speech is in praise to you.

All the work I do is a form of worship to you, oh Lord!

 

kara caraṇa kṛtaṃ vākkāyajaṃ karmajaṃ vā

śravaṇa nayanajaṃ vā mānasaṃ vāparādham

vihitamavihitaṃ vā sarvametat-kṣamasva

jaya jaya karuṇābdhe śrī mahādeva śambho

Whatever may be the sins I have committed with my hands and feet,

those sins born of my speech and body,

or the sins arising from my work.

Whatever may be the sins born of my ears and eyes,

or of my mind,

or those sins arising from my doing of what has been prescribed and not prescribed.

Please forgive all of these sins, oh Lord.

Victory unto you, oh ocean of compassion, the greatest and most auspicious of gods!

Madurai’s Meenakshi – Sundaresvara Temple, The Gem of Indian Temples

The temple town of Madurai is most famous for the Meenakshi – Sundaresvara temple. This temple dates back to the early centuries of the first millennium, but the intricate and magnificent temple complex that exists today was built between 1623 and 1655 CE. The vast temple complex is home to fourteen monumental towers, or gopurams, as well as some 40,000 individual sculptures chronicling scenes from Hindu mythology. Entering through the east gopura, visitors are greeted by the eight forms of the goddess in the Ashta Sakti mandapa. Passing the the intricately carved pillars donning the goddess in eight beautiful forms, you arrive at the Muthupillai mandapa named after its donor. This is a wide and dark hall filled with sculptures of Shiva in his various forms. The small rays of light that seep through openings in the granite ceiling make for an enchanting and ethereal experience. Exiting this hall, you are immediately greeted by the bright sunlight and the open courtyard containing the Golden Lotus Pond.

Murals surrounding the temple pond
Murals surrounding the temple pond

In the middle of this quaint tank, there is a beautiful hundred petal lotus covered in gold. Along the portico, on the way to the main shrine, are beautifully painted murals narrating 64 glorious exploits of Shiva as referenced in the Tamil magnum opus Tiruvilayadal (divine game). The most famous of these is one depicting the celestial marriage of Meenakshi, a form of Parvathi, with the beautiful Siva, or Sundaresvara. The next stop is the Killikoondu mandapa, or the corridor of bird cages. Up until a few decades ago, this hall was filled with hundreds of parrots, considered very dear to the goddess. North of this corridor is the altar of Ganesha. Just beyond this altar resides Goddess Meenakshi in all her regal splendor.

The famous stone carving of the divine marriage
The famous stone carving of the divine marriage

The entire corridor around her sanctum sanctorum is richly decorated with intricate stone carvings and beautiful gold relief work. Inside the Garbha Gruha, literally the womb-house, stands the Goddess Meenakshi, carved from a single large emerald stone. Her left hand hangs gracefully by her side, while her right hand holds a golden lotus upon which a gold parrot stands. North of her chamber resides her consort Sundaresvara, surrounded by a hall containing gargantuan pillars embellished with carvings of his various forms. The most famous of these is the depiction of the marriage of Meenakshi-Sundaresvara, facilitated by Meenakshi’s brother, Lord Vishnu. Just before exiting the temple, you meet the thousand pillared hall, boasting a beautiful statue of Nataraja and his consort Sivakamasundari, as well as numerous carved pillars depicting the Hindu epics like the Mahabharata.

The famous scene of the sacred marriage is described in the Saiva Karanagama as follows: The Lord Shiva shines beautifully like bright saffron. He has three eyes, and fours hands. He is adorned with fresh flower garlands and exquisite gold ornaments. His entire body is draped with fine silk garments.

Amazing wood carving made by our artists from mango wood that came from Madurai, and received special worship in the Meenakshi temple
Amazing wood carving in mango wood that came from Madurai, and received special worship in the Meenakshi temple

His hands are decorated by jeweled bangles and gold lotuses. He holds the hand of Parvathi with one hand and the axe and deer in his other two. The Lord gleams with the effulgence of a thousand bright suns. He has matted dreadlocks and a diamond studded crown, embellished by the moon. The Goddess stands next to Shiva, holding his hand. She is decked with the most elegant red silk. Her chest bends slightly due to the weight of her many pearl, gold, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and diamond necklaces. She is adorned with champa and jasmine flowers in her dark hair. She gleams like the dawn. Her brother, Lord Vishnu, pours the holy water on their joined hands to consecrate the divine matrimony. The three stand beautifully under the golden kadamba tree, in the forest of kadamba (Madurai).

-Svasti-

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