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Anandamayi Ma's view of Puja


'Question: What is the purpose or the fruit of Puja?


Mataji:  Suppose when giving initiation the Guru instructs the disciple to practise the formal worship of say, Krsna or the divine Mother, and to regard himself as the servant, and the Deity as his Master. By regularly engaging in worship and service of this kind, the following development may take place:


First of all one feels that the room in which the worship is being performed has to be consecrated to the Deity, and He has to be worshipped with lights, incense, etc.  As one continues day after day to carry out these acts of worship, one begins to question: "Is my Lord as small as this little image? Does He dwell only in my shrine-room and nowhere else?" By performing His service one gradually comes to feel that all is His. This feeling grips one and spreads like an infectious disease. Single-minded devotion engenders deep thought, which expresses itself in action. The Lord's Light descends on the devotee, His Power awakens in him and, as a result, profound inner inquiry blossoms forth.


Then follows a stage where it happens that one may have a vision of the Beloved - for instance, while scrubbing the vessels used for puja, or one may lie asleep and see Him standing near one's bed. Look, at first one believed the Lord to be present in one's prayer-room, but by and by one is able to perceive Him here and there. At a further stage, not anymore in particular places, but wherever one turns one's eyes: He is seen sitting in trees, standing in water; He is perceived within animals and birds. However, even here one's vision of Him is not uninterrupted. Next he comes to realise: "All other deities are contained in my Beloved." He sees that every-one's Lord, in fact all things, are contained in his own Ideal, and that his Ideal also dwells in all deities, as indeed, in everything. The sadhaka comes to feel: "As my Lord resides within me, so He, who is present within everyone else, is truly the same Lord. In water and on land, in trees, shrubs and creepers - everywhere in the whole universe abides my Beloved. Further, all the various forms and modes of being that we behold, are they not expressions of my Beloved? For there is none save Him. He is smaller than the smallest, and greater than the greatest."


Then comes a time when the Beloved does not leave one anymore: wherever one may go, He is ever by one's side and His Presence constantly felt.

What, now, is the next stage like? The form, variety, appearance of the tree - all is the Lord. At an earlier stage one perceived Him within all objects; but now He is not seen within the objects anymore, for there is nothing but He alone. Trees, flowers, the water and the land - everything is the Beloved, and only He. Every form, every mode of being, every expression - whatever exists is He, there is nothing else. It may occur that a sadhaka continues in this state for the rest of his life.

After this has been accomplished, one can again do puja and service, for the relationship between Master and servant persists. One experiences wholeness as well as the status of the Lord's servant.  At first this was the path to one's Goal. After Realisation it is He, the One, who serves. This is real service - call it Mukti, call it Parabhakti, call it what you will.'