[Advaita-l] Nitya Puja Vidhi

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Jun 9 05:46:14 CDT 2004

[Note to advaita-l readers:  Shridhar is not actually a list member.  I
forwarded his question to the list but neglected to mention it sorry.
Please Cc him on any replies.]

On Sat, 5 Jun 2004, Sridhar Srikantiah wrote:

> Friends,
> While this is not necessarily related to Advaita,

True.  However Advaita Vedanta definitely has a unique approach to puja.
It is wrong to suggest as some sloppy modern interpreters do that Advaita
Vedanta is against "ritualism" but it is also wrong to think that anything
goes.  The rituals which are worth performing are those done without ego
purely out of duty and without expectations just as a sacrifice to
Bhagavan.  When this attitude is taken even a flower or some water is
gladly accepted by the Lord as He famously says in Bhagavadgita.

> I would like to know
> of authentic resources (including internet resources) that describe,
> preferably with English translation, how one should conduct simple daily
> puja:

If you just learn it from a book, then it is by definition not authentic
even if the book is written by Shankaracharya Himself.  Our shastras are
not "scriptures" in the sense that the Bible or the Quran are.  They
derive their "authenticity" from their constant _use_ from generation to
generation.  What has happened in recent times is that people have become
estranged from their traditions.  They turn to books but they should be
turning to the living libraries of our ancient heritage who though perhaps
fewer are still to be found.

Now based as you are in India, do you mean to tell me you can't find any
such person?  I'm not necessarily talking about some profound Sanskrit
scholar either.  Sometimes observation of simple people, who though
uneducated have full faith in God, reveals much more than 1000 printed

> the mantras to use and their sequence,

Mantras are not magic.  Their power is due to the state of mind of the
speaker.  If a Brahmana sits down to recite Vedic suktas with the thought
that "I am carrying on the duty charged to my ancestors" it will have an
effect.  But if some dacoit says "mara mara mara" because he believes it
will please the Lord then it too will have the same effect. (Maharshi
Valmiki was told to say "Rama Rama Rama" but he was so dumb he got it
backwards.  But due to his total faith in the "mantra" he got Gods grace
to write the Ramayana.)

Conversely if the Brahmana says "I'll give up this difficult chore and
start saying mara, mara, mara instead." or the dacoit says "I will copy
that fellow over there" then it will not have an effect.

> and how one without a clear
> family tradition of daily puja can decide what method is best for
> oneself.

"Best for oneself" is a relative thing.  If you were to ask my daughter
which foods were best for oneself then she would answer "chocolate" every
time.  But parents know a diet of only chocolate is not the best thing.
So in order to make an informed choice you need to get educated not just
about the mechanics but the spirit and the experience of puja.  By all
means join this list and ask questions.  Read books and search the
internet.  But don't neglect real life connections to those who have made
Dharma a way of life.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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