Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari,
The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through,
How peerless is the light that in Him shines!
How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form!
How dear is He to all His devotees…
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna Vol I Page 119
We started our evening walk and continued our talk from where we left the other day.
He: Yes I have an understanding of the principles of advaitha and duvaitha. But how to use Duvaitha in our daily life. Aren’t they abstract?
Me: They aren’t abstract. You think so because you consider it be some where far away and one doesn’t need to bother about it. We have to try implementing these in our lives. There are very clear paths laid down by various Rishis which are very practical. One can choose any of them suiting his/her mental architecture.
He: How do you say it is practical?
Me: Yes I will tell you. Do you remember that the mind has these characteristics?
a) It is habit forming
b) Thinking is a Linear process
c) Mind is pleasure seeking
d) Mind is the instrument of ‘Feeling’
e) And it is always restless
Me: So we have to train the mind. It is de-conditioning and reconditioning. The intellect plays a great role in it. It has to discern the right from the wrong and tell the mind to do accordingly. Have you seen the elephant along with its mahout?
Me: The elephant’s trunk is always restless. It tries to put its trunk here and there. It may even try to pull at the plantain tree in the other compound. The mahout gives a strike, immediately it shrinks its’ trunk back. The discerning person is like the mahout’s rod. When the mind wanders it is brought back by the discerning capacity.
He: A nice example.
Me: The mind can be brought into focus on God only if there is a fervid longing for God. This is possible if only all the activities of life, from everyday activities to short term and long term planning should have God as its central theme. All our activities should be webbed around God.
He: How can that be done?
Me: A simple way is doing prayers at all “sandhis”.
He: What are these Sandhis?
Me: Sandhis are the meeting points of day and night. There are two sandhis the dusk and dawn. The noon can also be taken as one more one. And I also like to clarify that by prayer I don’t mean keep on asking or begging God this or that material aspects of our earthly existence. It is “poojas”. Poojas are not prayers.
He: What are poojas?
Me: It is the devotional service to our deities. It includes
a) Decorating the deities
b) Lighting oil lamps
c) Food offerings –prasadams
d) Chanting slokas and mantras
e) Singing the attributes of the deity
There are formal procedures for different types of Poojas.
He: Tell me about one pooja.
Me: Basically all the poojas are done at sandhis as I told you earlier. The morning pooja is ideal to start at Brahama Muhurtham, that is 4.30 am. In the evening it should be at sun set which can be got from almanac. Your body and mind should be clean and hygienic. Before pooja it is good to take a bath. This depends upon the climatic conditions you live in. The mind should be calm and focusing on the deity you are going to do pooja. The mind should be in the Bhava which you have adopted towards your deity.
The deity a photo or Statue should be in a place with good aeration and ventilation. There should be no disturbances of any sort.
The deity could be decorated with dressings and fresh garland of flowers . One or more oil lamps could be lighted. Loose flower should be used to do archana.
The pooja begins with invoking the blessings of Lord Vigneshwara. Vigneshwara removes all obstacles both mental and physical to our pooja. Then the next step is salutation to the Guru Parambara. Then the slokas on our presiding deity should be chanted. “Namavazhi” or chanting the different names of the deity should be done. After that Prasadh has to presented followed by aarathi. Then singing on the deity will add flavor to your pooja. Prasadham should be distributed to all present. This is a very broad outline.
But it should be remembered that the mind should be always focused on the deity and peaceful.
He: Now I get a glimpse of Bakthi. Yet I have to go a long way.
Me: That is for today. We shall discuss pooja and the form of deities in our next week. Bye..