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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!

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
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