[Advaita-l] worship

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Sat Jun 24 00:41:49 CDT 2006

Is this phrase correct in sanskrit ?  If yes, how would you translate it in
English ?
" devobhutva devam yajeta "


It is correct. The meaning is that one should worship a deity only after
becoming (i.e. looking upon oneself as) that deity. This is a general rule
applicable to all pUjAs. SrI Sankara says in his bhAshya on VishNu
sahasranAma: One should look upon oneself as vishNu while offering praise,
prostration, etc. to vishNu. He quotes a verse from the MahAbhArata which
says: One who is not vishNu should not sing about vishNu,  one who is not
vishNu should not do pUjA to vishNu, one who is not vishNu should not
meditate on vishNu, one who is not vishNu cannot attain vishNu. The reason
is that the jiva and God are in essence the same Brahman, though as jiva and
God they are different because of the different limiting adjuncts, which
are, however, not real from the pAramArthika standpoint. This ultimate truth
has to be borne in mind by the worshipper. At the beginning of every pUja
there is what is called 'bhUtaSuddhi'. In this the worshipper is asked to
look upon his limited human body as burnt off and consider himself as having
got a divine body. It is only with this divine body that he becomes entitled
to worship the deity.

Another important item at the beginning of every pUjA is nyAsa. In this the
bIjamantra of the particular deity is chanted while touching various parts
of the body including the fingers. By this the identification of the
worshipper with the deity is brought about.

Then the worshipper transmits the divinity within him to the image or
picture worshipped. It is only by this that the image or picture gets
divinity. Thus what is actually worshipped is the divinity within the
worshipper, which is the same as the supreme Brahman. The image or picture
is only a symbol for the worshipper to fix his mind on. Not knowing this,
some people say that Hindus are idol-worshippers. The idol is only a symbol
for the supreme Being who is the indwelling self in every living being and
who is the actual object of worship. At the end of the pUja the divinity
transmitted to the image or picture is withdrawn. If the idol itself was
treated as the deity it would not be thrown into the sea afterwards as is
done with the idols of GaNapati and DurgA after the pUiAs.


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