Ravisankar S. Mayavaram msr at ISC.TAMU.EDU
Thu Jul 2 16:42:32 CDT 1998

On Thu, 2 Jul 1998, Vaidya N. Sundaram wrote:
>  At our elementary level, the prayaschittam goes like: mantra hiinam
> kriyaa hiinam bhakti hiinam hudhAsana | etc etc.
>  hiinam is a misdoing, mistake. This mistake is accepted, and one
> surrenders to Him to forgive it.

In the case of experts, despite the care one takes there will be errors.
Hence it is necessary do prayashchittam. In the case of novices like me
there will few correct steps here and there, and the rest is just filled
with errore ;-).  If the worship is done with the humility. "O Divine
Mother, I am your child, I desire to express my love by worshipping you, I
do not know anything. Please forgive all the mistakes I make and accept my
love", SHE will understand it. SHE is more compassionate and sweeter than
mothers of this world. Even Lord Shiva who is feared for his anger, is
expressed as a compassionate lord by shaivite saints (thAyinum iniyan : He
is sweeter than mother, chEyinum nallan: even if you estrange yourself he
will be kind to you).

There is a detailed description of pUjA for different deities at
It will take two hours to do as described in the page (atleast to start

> bhakti), but just because one or more is lacking, do not neglect it. In
> fact, worship by a specific puja is considered as waking up the sleeping
> tiger. Once you accept the responsibility to do the puja, say for example,
> the panchayatana puja, forsaking it even for a day is neglecting it. It is
> more important to keep the discipline up than give it up because of
> concerns of not being able to do it right. If every body started thinking
> that they will do it once they know it WELL, then there will be no
> yajnyams at all!!

One has to start somewhere. The major problem with many these days is , we
have estranged ourself from our tradition and our teachers. We learn many
things from printed texts. This is I think is the source of many problems.
But despite all our mistakes, SHE is very compassionate. If you take one
step towards HER, SHE takes 100 steps towards you. HER grace is the only

But you really scare me :-) with the tiger example!! I was asking guidance
from a person for doing a particular pUjA correctly. During our
correspondence he told me that worshipping God is very attractive and more
joyful, as day goes by you will hate to miss it even for a day. I getting
a glimpse of the truth behind his statement.

May shrImAta guide us all to do the right thing we should do.

With respects,

>From  Thu Jul  2 20:12:31 1998
Message-Id: <THU.2.JUL.1998.201231.0400.>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 20:12:31 -0400
Reply-To: ramakris at erols.com
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <ramakris at EROLS.COM>
Subject: Re: pUja
Comments: To: Advaita-L <advaita-l at tamu.edu>
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Ravisankar S. Mayavaram wrote:

> 1) If one desires to do pUjA, but does not know the rules how to do the
> pUjA exactly. Is is better not to do the pUja at all instead of doing it?

One can do mAnasika pUjA in that case. No rules need be followed, except
bhakti for the devata.

> 2) If one knows how to do the pUjA correctly but due to limitations, makes
> approximations to it. Is is better not to do the pUjA at all instead of
> doing it with approximations?

Depends on the pUjA. In some pUjA-s the niyama-s are not so strict. That
doesn't mean one should be careless. I'll state an example from
mantra-s. The gAyatrI mantra japam does not require so much niyama as,
say the pa.nchadashAxarI. It's better not to do the latter if one cannot
strictly follow the rules. But such is not the case with gAyatrI. We are
advised to even do its japa, even if some of the niyama-s cannot be
followed. The non-performance of the japa is worse in this case.

> 3) I agree the form is very important. But is not intention to do more
> important?

No. Intention is subjective, but the rules are based on smR^iti-s. My
"good intention" may be "bad" to you and we can argue endlessly based on
that. smR^iti is not subjective. Sometimes two smR^iti-s may contradict
each other, in which case the opinion of good teachers, say in any of
the sha.nkara maTha-s, can be consulted.

A child puts its hands in fire to learn what it is. Its intentions are
quite honorable, that of a curiousity to learn. Does it not get burnt?

In _some_ cases good intentions may override everything, but these are
exceptions, eg, kaNNappa nAyanAr, sAkkiya nAyanAr etc. AruNagiri nAtar
lead a promiscuous life and then after contracting diseases jumped in
frustration from the kiLi gopuram, thinking of skanda. Legend has it
that he saved him and also cured his disease, after which he has sung
the monumental tiruppugaz (very vedAntic BTW). Does it mean all of us
start leading promiscuous lives and then line up near the kiLi gOpuram
to commit suicide (with the good intention of getting darshan of
skanda)? We'll probably end up breaking our bones and nothing else.  No,
the lesson to be learnt is bhakti towards skanda. In some exceptional
cases, behaviour deviating from accepted norms may be followed by
realization, etc. But it should not be used as a reason for indulging in
such behavior by ordinary people. We should take it that the prArabdha
of those GYAni-s was such that it led them to such behavior.

Good intentions should be followed by an effort to learn the details,
otherwise it's not of much use to ordinary people. I'd in fact say that
otherwise the intentions were not good enough.

> I am asking this for my better understanding. I very often fall under the
> category #1. Of course, one should make the best attempt to learn it. At
> present I do the best way I can, which I fear is not anything close to
> formal.

As I said, mAnasa pUjA can be done with practically no rules. As for
hints on how to do this, look up sha.nkarAcAryas stotrams, shiva mAnasa
pUjA, mR^ityu.njaya mAnasa pUja and the nirguNa mAnasa pUjA. The shiva
mAnasa pUjA is very easy to understand and I have used the outlines
there myself very often. I think it's available in the jaguar site. It
should be a breeze to modify it for whatever other devata you wish.


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