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Worship of God as Divine Mother  7, 8, and 9


Worship of the Divine Mother 


God is not only inside us. He is both inside and outside. The Divine Mother showed me in the Kali temple that everything is Chinmaya, the Embodiment of Spirit', that it is She who has become all this, the image, myself, the utensils of worship, the door-sill, the marble floor. Everything is indeed Chinmaya. The aim of prayer, of spiritual discipline, of chanting the name and glories of God, is to realize just that. For that alone a devotee loves God.”


The goal of spiritual practice is to realise God. This should be done by the cultivation of moral and spiritual virtues leading to purity of mind. As the Bhagavad Gita declares, ‘He who sees his own Divine Self in all beings and sees all beings in God, he is the best of all devotees’.


Worship done rightly helps us become a true devotee of God. Puja or ritualistic worship, forms a part of the process called Upasana. The literal meaning of the word ‘upasana’ is to sit near. It is the process of practising the presence of God till one merges in Him. Puja is of enormous help in this respect.

Every devotee of God believes that God :


Listens and answers every sincere prayer.
Can be invoked in an image.
Through the act of devout worship helps the worshipper becomes divinised.
Accepts the loving service and blesses him.
Helps him in totally surrendering to Him.
Accepts the offering of devotees given with love, devotion and faith.

(Sri Krishna says in the Gita: 'Whatever a pure-hearted devotee offers with devotion – a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I accept that loving offering.')


Four varieties of worship

The worship of God can be done in four different ways: ritualistic, vocal, mental and manual.

The repetition of a mantras (japa), the chanting of hymns (stotras) and singing of devotional songs (bhajans) fall under Vocal worship.

Meditation, and all the external rituals done mentally falls under mental worship (Manasika Puja).
Any service done with devotion to God (popularly known as kainkarya) is also Puja. In the Gita, Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to do all work as worship


’'O son of Kunti, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation, whatever you give in charity, whatever austerity you practise – do all that as an offering to Me.'


If one has to derive the full benefit of the formal worship with rituals, one must have Shraddha, deep faith and Nishta, steady practice. Puja done with faith and understanding produces a state of mind in which the presence of the Divine is felt by the worshipper. Regular and devout worship of the Divine helps one abide in the presence of God. In addition if we know the meaning of the mantras and other ritualistic actions involved at different stages of worship it helps us even more.


Before we go into the details of the actual puja it would be good to bear these points in mind.

The main objectives of any puja are :


To feel the presence of God more and more and ultimately to realize Him.
To achieve concentration of mind.
To bring about gradual transformation in our character and consciousness.


Puja also helps us :
Establish a closer and deeper relationship with God; Reduce selfishness and egotism.
Lessen our attachment to the world.
Shift our dependence from the world to God.
Feel our inner divinity and finally
Surrender totally to God.
In every Puja there are 7 important stages. These are:
1. Purification 2. Divinization 3. Consecration 4. Invocation of the Lord 5. Mental worship, 6. External worship 7. Self-surrender

The worship of the Deity can done with five, ten, sixteen, or more articles like water, flowers, leaves, incense, light, food, clothes etc. Ritual worship may be performed to an earthen, wooden or metal image of a deity, to a picture, symbol or an idol, representing some aspect of Godhead.


Before the worship begins some preparations must be made. The worshipper must take bath and put on clean dress. Where possible he must observe fasting until the worship is over. He should enter the shrine room with a prayerful attitude and must take care not to cherish worldly thoughts. He must enter the room with mental poise and equanimity, and sit erect as the Gita exhorts, with the trunk, neck and head erect on the designed seat.

Before the commencement of actual Puja he has to pass through, a series of preliminary preparations for the sanctification of one’s own body, place, Mantra, materials (Pujadravya) and the Devata. The aim of such preparatory practices is to realise the worshipper’s identity with the deity and then adore Him ; for as the Upanishad says, one must transform oneself into God before one can worship God.


Before the worship begins all the objects connected with worship must be washed and made clean. The place, the seat, the utensils etc., are washed and wiped clean; the alter is decorated with beautiful flowers, the deity is to be garlanded whenever possible.


All the articles of worship like water, sandal paste, flowers, offering etc., are to be kept ready near the worshipper who sits on a cushion facing east or north.





Swami Dayatmananda

from Vedanta Magazine Nov - Dec 2016


Worship of God as Divine Mother 8


We mentioned in our last editorial that before the actual worship is begun certain preparations must be made. The place of worship must be washed thoroughly and kept clean. Then all the utensils needed must be arranged in a prescribed order including a lighted lamp. Incense may also be used. The various articles of worship like water, sandal paste, flowers, etc., are kept ready for use near the worshipper who sits facing the deity.



Since the goal of worship is to realise one’s nature everything connected with worship must be purified ritually. The very first ritual in any worship is called Achamana, a purificatory ceremony. Here the worshipper sips water thrice uttering the name of the Deity imagining that his gross, subtle and casual bodies are being purified.


Our lips are rendered impure by unholy words, eyes by unholy sight and ears by unholy sounds; hence they must be washed clean before we speak, see or hear holy things.


Then a vedic prayer is uttered: The Sages always behold the Supreme Lord everywhere; through the power of this worship (like the sages) may I also be able to behold Him always.


This Achamana ceremony is very important. In sipping water one repeats the name of Vishnu or God. This is to remind one, of the presence of God everywhere, especially in water. God, according to Hindu mythology, is supposed to reside in the water as Narayana.


Water is considered as symbolic of the all-pervading Brahman and when the water is sipped it is supposed to purify the heart and make one conscious of the presence of God, in the worshipper’s own heart as well as in all objects of nature. When a man, therefore, does Achamana, knowing its full significance, he is reminded of God everywhere as constituting the very essence of the universe. When this act is done many times, in the course of various practices, the worshipper comes to feel the presence of God everywhere. Water also represents in the symbolic language of the Vedas ‘Shraddha’. Therefore sipping the water is supposed to produce shraddha (deep faith) which alone makes the ritual spiritually effective.

Every ceremony should begin after offering salutations to the Lord. The prayer goes thus: Pure or impure, whatever one may be, one who remembers the holy name of the lord becomes holy both within and without.


The next important step is called Sankalpa. Through this the worshipper is making a sacramental intention. This is a declaration of the purpose of the worship. This intention connects the will to the act of worship. It is the promise and resolution of the worshipper to himself that from now on he will try to focus his mind only on God; it is also a promise to God that he will curb all his impulses and try his best to remember Him. By the merit of the Sankalpa the attention and will of the worshipper are focused and raised up to a higher level.


The Sankalpa generally contains two parts – the negative and the positive. The negative side refers to freedom from sin or all obstructions to realisation and the latter to the grace of God and a desire for devotion. Uttering of this Sankalpa at the very beginning of Puja makes the worshipper conscious of the purpose of Puja.

Similarly at the end of every Puja there is a final dedication of the whole ritual and its fruits to God. Here also the worshipper reminds himself that he has performed the Puja only for the sake of securing God’s grace and not for any selfish purpose, and that the whole purpose of the ritual is only for the realisation of God. Thus both the negative and positive aspects of the mental attitude of the worshipper are emphasised both at the beginning and at the end.


Samanya Arghya
The next step is the consecration of the water to be used in worship by invoking in it the presence of the seven holy rivers of India. This consecrated water, called samanya arghya, is used for all the remaining rituals.

We mentioned earlier that water symbolises ‘shraddha’, because the best offering common to all worship is shraddha. The special vessel (called Kosa) which is used in this step represents the heart and filling of the vessel with water represents filling the heart with faith and devotion to God. The offering of water along with every other offering in the course of the Puja represents the accompaniment of shraddha which is necessary for all the worship to be spiritually effective.


This special vessel is placed on triangular lines representing the heart which is more or less of the shape of a triangle. The apex of the triangle is made to turn upwards to represent symbolically (like the Gothic tower of a church) the direction of the heart towards God. It is surrounded by a square and a circle which represent the gross body and causal body. A spiritual aspirant must develop this shraddha and must dedicate his life for the worship of God. The triangle may also represent control over thought, speech and action, and may indicate the dedication of all these to the worship of God.

The holy word Om is uttered while pouring the water into the vessel to purify it with the thought of God. After this only, other steps follow.




Swami Dayatmananda 


from Vedanta Magazine Jan - Feb 2016


Worship of God as Divine Mother 9


In our last issue we dwelt briefly on Samanyarghya sthapana.


Before we proceed further we need to keep a few points in mind.

1. Worshipping any God or Goddess in Hinduism follows the same exact pattern differing only in the Mantras uttered according to the names of differing deities; the meditations also differ accordingly.

2. According to Hinduism the world is nothing but Brahman, Pure Consciousness, appearing with name and form. In other words Brahman perceived with name and form is the world; and the world without name and form is Brahman.

3. It is not that Brahman has become the world but appears as the world because of our ignorance. Once the ignorance is removed there remains only Brahman.

4. The purpose of Puja or worship is to remove this ignorance.

5. Hence Hinduism advises all the spiritual aspirants to deify every
object as God or Brahman. This act of visualising everything as sacred is not hypnotising ourselves but perceiving everything as it really is i.e., as Brahman through the removal of ignorance. Puja’s function is to help us remove this ignorance through the act of sacralising everything in this world as God.

6. For the worshipper every religious ritual is a sacrament. A sacrament is the act of transforming or perceiving every object as God or Brahman.

7. Mantras are not human inventions. These are revealed to the Rishies in the depths of meditation.
(These points must always be kept in mind)


Says Swami Vivekananda:
“The idea that the goal is far off, far beyond nature, attracting us all towards it, has to be brought nearer and nearer, without degrading or degenerating it.

“The God of heaven becomes the God in nature, and the God in nature becomes the God who is nature, and the God who is nature becomes the God within this temple of the body, and the God dwelling in the temple of the body at last becomes the temple itself, becomes the soul and man — and there it reaches the last words it can teach.
“He whom the sages have been seeking in all these places is in our own hearts.”


Continuing with Samanyarghya

After establishing water in a cone shaped vessel the worshipper invokes all the seven sacred rivers of India. For Hindus every object in this world –living as well as non-living is sacred. Hence Hindus deify all the rivers, mountains, plants etc., as gods and goddesses. This is not to be confused with polytheism; It is an attempt to perceive reality as it is.

Worship of the deities presiding over the doors (Dwara devata puja)

Dwara means a door. It is easy and pleasant to enter a house through the doors. Hindus believe that the doors leading to the sanctum sanctorum of any temple is guarded by powerful forces. Unless one is pure and pleases the deities, these forces would prevent a devotee from entering. Hence they must be appeased.

Dwara also means a sense-organ. (The body is compared to a house with nine doors) The idea is that all the sense organs must be purified and controlled so that they can lead an aspirant to God. Uncontrolled senses can and do create obstructions leading to the disturbance of the mind. But if one pleases God who is the creator and controller of the world, through His grace the path to spiritual progress becomes clear. The very senses which so long have been drowning the mind in worldliness, the same purified senses now help an aspirant approach God. This is possible only through the grace of God.

The worshipper prays to God, who is the controller of both the senses and the sense objects, to save him from the distractions caused by these so that his mind may be pure and revel only in God. This is the symbolism of worshipping the presiding deities of the doors.


Removal of obstacles (Vighnapasaranam)

There are many malevolent spirits in this world ready to harm and put obstacles in the path of aspirants. This is a mantra to remove all such obstacles.


Control of the Five Elements (Bhutapasarpanam)

According to Hindu cosmology the entire world that we experience is made up of five basic elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. In turn these five elements are the manifestations of the Brahman, Pure Consciousness.

Bhutapasarpana means ‘driving away all ideas of material nature’. It simply means looking at the world with a spiritual eye.


Purification of the seat (Asana shuddhi)

This act is meant to remind us of the substratum of all the universe, which is God Himself. The worshipper reminds himself that God is the only and final support of the world. The mantra directs our attention to God.


Purification of the flowers (Pushpa shuddhi)

The flowers and all other articles of worship are themselves honoured as the abode of God and are purified with the waters of Faith (Sraddha).
The flowers also symbolize the various virtues one need to acquire. Imagining a wall of fire (Vahni prakara chinta)


Now one should sprinkle water all around with the mantra ‘rang’, and all the ten directions are to be thought of as encircled by a wall of fire and that everything is made of Chinmaya Jyoti, (the light of consciousness).

Here it is worth noting the experiences of Sri Ramakrishna when he was worshipping the Divine Mother. Sri Ramakrishna said that at the time of performing Anganyasa, Karanyasa, etc., he actually saw the letters of the Mantras in bright colours set in his body. He also saw the Coiled Power (Kundalini) going up in the form of a snake through the Sushumna to the Sahasrara. He felt that the parts of his body left behind by that power, at once became still and insensitive and dead to all appearance.


Again, when according to the prescribed method of worship, he uttered the Mantra “Rang”, sprinkled water all round himself and imagined a wall of fire existing around the place of worship, he actually saw an impassable wall of fire with hundreds of tongues spread out, protecting the place of worship from all obstacles.


Hriday said that other Brahmins, seeing his mind quite absorbed and body shining all over with a resplendent lustre, said to one another, “It is as if Vishnu Himself has assumed a human body and sat down to worship.”

Salutations to the lineage of Gurus (Guru Pranam)


Next is Guru-puja. A Guru is considered as the human representative of God on earth; he is to be meditated upon as God Himself seated in the thousand petalled lotus (Sahasrara).

This is followed by saluting one’s Guru and his Guru etc., till we trace the lineage to God. This salutation is both an act of reverence and gratefulness as well as a reminder that we are not lowly creatures but belong to the spiritual lineage coming from God Himself.


This is also an act of total surrender. Surrender signifies true dedication of body and mind at the feet of the Guru. It indicates that our goal is the realization of God and we will never deviate from the path shown to us by our Guru.





With kind permission of Swami Dayatmananda Vedanta Centre UK
Vedanta Magazine  March - April 2017