12 मई 2010
Puja for self-evolution
The Sanskrit word puja comes from the root puj, meaning to adore, worship, exalt. Puja, or worship of the divine, has been the basic spiritual practice in India for thousands of years and is one of the techniques of bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion.
Performing puja contributes to a state of mind and heart by helping us surrender to the Divine Light within. Puja is a sacred communion between the heart of the practitioner and the heart of the universal spirit.
It is a powerful method of invoking prana, or life force, into our body-mind and can aid toward self-evolution in Hatha yoga practice. Puja is a broad term for many different ritual practices that can be laid out along a spectrum of awareness from the dark/dense on the right to the light on the left.
Benefits of puja
1. Helps increase the production of serotonin; a vital neurotransmitter linked to a healthy outlook and increased vitality by optimizing the flow of life force in the sun and moon channels.
2. Decreases epinephrine, which wears down the components of the body, and prevents liver and adrenal exhaustion by stimulating a healthy response to life’s stressors.
3. Energizes and balances the elements in the chakras, thereby strengthening one’s energetic immune system.
4. Maximizes empathy, allowing the practitioner to connect with Nature’s life-force network for a strong, fulfilled life.
5. Concentrates and directs one’s intent to positive life goals, thus giving the practitioner a strong purpose in life.
6. Increases compassion in all aspects of life such that the practitioner has life goals tied to giving and service, increasing a sense of purpose.
7. Improves the practitioner’s ability to live optimally, with an improved sense of nutrition, exercise and social responsibility.
8. Increases depth and intensity in personal relationships.
9. Develops subtle inner feminine moon centers.
All these benefits are possible because puja helps us surrender to the light within ourselves.
Why is puja so effective?
Puja, or ritualized prayer, is powerfully effective because of its unique ability to penetrate our energetic karmic crust through specific chants and prayers. These prayers connect us to our inner centers of divine power. When a puja is correctly done, its energy will align specifically with the chakras of the supplicant.
The “correctness” of the individual elements of a puja is on two levels: On the first level called the divine level (daivikam), the chants, mudras (finger and body gestures) and offerings are specific to the deity invoked. On the second level, called life-specific level (jivaka), the chants and other aspects of the ritual target the practitioner’s energy centers and fine-tunes them for their specific needs.
This specificity of the ritual worship helps the practitioner activate power centers and energize and unleash powerful, life-affirming currents. By increasing the surge of prana in certain channels within us, puja enhances our ability to sense these subtle energetic centers, maintain a strong mystic shield and block intrusive forces from outside. With the benevolent infusion of these life currents, our lives transform into a field of infinite possibilities.
Requirements for performing puja
It is important to know that, as in any spiritual practice, puja has its indications and limitations and can aggravate certain karmic, physical, mental and emotional conditions. To perform puja as self-practice requires much less rigor than performing puja for others.
Correctly performing puja for others requires rigorous training in Sanskrit chanting; knowledge of the power of seed mantras, ayurveda and jyotish (Vedic astrology); rigorous self-discipline; active energetic linkage to a lineage of gurus; and proficiency in opening and closing the “mystic shields.”
For one’s own practice, however, puja can be the simple chanting of a chosen divine name with offering of water, grain, light and scent from essential oil. It requires only that the practitioner know his or her own day-to-day energetic condition and is mindful of leaving enough time after the puja for the mystic shield to close before re-immersion in worldly activity.
Contraindications for puja
Puja can be very simple, or it can be a complex orchestration of mantras, mudras, finger/body gestures or specific spells invoking energies in materials and elements. As the complexity increases, however, there is potential to make energetic mistakes with subsequent impairments to the mind and energy system.
In certain individuals, and during certain periods in every person’s life, some types of puja can aggravate underlying psychological and emotional imbalances. In such cases, puja can tip these individuals into severe psychoses. Sometimes people will enter into a karmically sensitive period such that puja of the wrong sort can disrupt the legitimate flow of prana through certain channels. This can cause disruption of the mystic shield.
The common cause of disruption of the energy shield as well as dismemberment of the ego-personality is from mispronunciation and the invocation of uninvited energies; incorrect intonation; careless combination of mudras and mantras; and basic unpreparedness, as in requirements of cleanliness, protection and other factors. The most common cause of energetic impairment from performing a puja is inability to close one’s mystic shield after the puja. This will be like a door jammed open in a house.
Puja can release an enormous amount of prana into us. Prana is the most vital ingredient for all living things. It is much sought after by all beings. Consider prana like money. Would you walk around a busy market place with huge wads of cash plainly visible in your hands? Why not? Isn’t there goodness in all beings? Yes. But money can also invoke the worst in each being. The greed for prana is even greater, and it applies to all beings embodied and disembodied. Prana is the currency at the physical, psychic and trans-psychic levels. Prana is sought after by all classes of creatures. Puja done correctly will invoke enormous prana. Therefore preliminary protection sequences specific to the puja are vital.
Timing and preparations for puja
For a simple puja, the optimal times are either dawn or dusk. Physical cleanliness helps garner maximum benefits. After a shower, wear a clean, loose-fitting outfit. A light asana practice followed by some pranayama optimizes the body-mind to enter this vital phase of puja.
How to perform a simple, safe puja
Puja has a few simple steps. Consider that you, the practitioner, have just completed your asana and pranayama practice. Sit down with a few simple items before you: a candle, a bowl of raw rice, a platter to put the rice on, and a bowl of water with a drop of lavender oil in it.
Close your eyes focus on the heart and call upon the light within, the supreme guru. Chant “Om shri guru-bhyo namaha” (My salutations to Guru). Open your eyes and light the candle. Dip your right index and middle fingers into the bowl of water and chant the following as you swirl the water, “Om amritam kuru swaaha” (May this water be filled with prana). Sprinkle yourself with the water and chant, “Om pavitram kuru swaaha” (May my body-mind and spirit be sanctified).
Bring the bowl of rice and the platter close to you. Keep your eyes closed, and take a pinch of rice from the bowl. Bring the pinch of rice up the line of chakras from your belly button to the third eye, chanting “Om Gam Ganapataye namaha.”
Then drop the rice into the bowl gently. Repeat this several times. Then stop and slip into a meditation.
At the end of the meditation, you may put the candle out. You can reuse the bowl of rice for the next puja. However, replace the water each time. Pour the used water into a pot with a plant or under a bush or tree.
The number of times the mantra is chanted is not counted. A mala is not used to maintain the usual 108 count. This is in order to keep the logical mind quiet and activate the subtle higher mind along with the subtle senses. Anything that helps maintain a sense of deep, devotional surrender is recommended.
As you include this puja in your daily yoga practice, you will experience wholesomeness of life from the integration of all pranic centers inside.
jai guru maharaj ki jai