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What is Pooja, why should one perform it?

Source: Article “Worshipping the divine”, Rishimukh Aug 2004

God is worshipping us every day! Imitating all that god is dong to us is pooja. An action born out of a blossomed mind is pooja. Honouring from the heart which is full is pooja. Gurudev throws new light on the meaning of the word pooja.



Understand the word ‘pooja’. ‘Poo’ means ‘poornatha’, fullness. ‘Ja’ means ‘born out of’. That which is born out of fullness is pooja. When your consciousness becomes so full and in that state when you do an action that is known as pooja. When heart is full and you are overwhelmed, when an action is done out of that overwhelming state and gratitude is expressed, that is known as pooja.

The Voice of Consciousness

What is pooja? Imitating all that god is doing to us is pooja. God has given you crops and grains, so you offer rice. God has given you water and you offer water. Perfumes have been given and you offer perfumes. Fruits have been put on trees for you and you offer fruits. He is doing arati to you by (taking) sun and moon everyday and going around you, so you light a lamp and imitate that arati. God is worshipping you everyday! We imitate that. God wishes that you be happy.

“We have created so many varieties for you. There is so much diversity in the creation for you. Even then why do you remain sad? Only one type of vegetable was no created. Creation of flowers was not stopped at one variety. Varieties of flowers, vegetables, people, colours! When such a diverse creation has been created, by looking at something so beautiful, waves of beauty should arise in you everyday! You should live in love and celebration. Instead you are sad, bothering about small little things. Awake.” This voice is heard form the consciousness everyday. When one can have this message of the Creation, one is filled with so much of gratitude and that which arises out of the gratitude knows as pooja.

Honouring from the heart which is full is known as pooja. It is very difficult to expresses the emotions. How can they be expressed? However you express an emotion, you will still feel that the expression has fallen short of the emotion felt inside and the expression is never complete. Worship, feeling joyful inside.

The meaning of Aarti

First important ritual in a pooja is to establish god in your body parts. Divine is seen in every part of the body. It is said that you have to become God in everyway to worship god. The end of the pooja ritual is known as aarti. What does aarti mean? It means complete happiness. “Rati” means joy. ‘Aarti’ means complete joy, which does not have sadness as its tail. Behind every joy there is a tail of sadness. The tail of every sadness is joy. Even in misery, there is some flow of joy. Even if no joy is present in sadness, then at least the satisfaction of having got pity for the sadness exists. When people express pity for the sadness suffering, people tend to enjoy the pity. That happiness which does not have sadness as its tail and that happiness which is complete in it is known as aarti. How is aarti done? A lamp is list and taken round God in all the four directions.

What does this lamp signify? It signifies that, life is a light. In whatever manner you tilt the fire its direction is always upward. Similarly life’s direction too should always be upward. And where should it move around? It should always move around the Divine. This is known as aarti.

When the mind blossoms

Next is ‘mantra pushp’. Purification of the mind is done by the mantra and the mind blossomed like a flower. And that blossomed mind is offered to the divine. By performing aarti mind blossoms and becomes like a flower. Such a mind is offered… by this act of offering, ego in you is vanquished.

What is ego? The feeling that ‘I am something, I am separate from the creation’. ‘there exist mountains, trees and rivers on this earth and so I too exist’ – this knowledge is absent. ‘I am different from this creation. I am special’ this feeling is ego. Moving from I am something’ to ‘ I am…’ Everything exists, I too exist; mountains exist and so do I. I am not separate’. Surrender helps you move towards this oneness from separate. In reality, surrender is an illusion. What is there to offer and to whom? When everything belongs to him, then what is there to surrender and to whom to surrender? Till you become aware that everything belongs to Him, not just on the physical level, but also on an experiential level, the act of surrender becomes essential. In surrender there happens a balance between bhakti [devotion] and advaita [the knowledge of non-duality]. You realise that dvaita [duality] and advaita [non duality] are one and the same.

You recite God’s name not to make God happy. By reciting God’s name your consciousness become pleasant. Therefore you recite God’s name. God never desires that you recite His name. What differences can that make to Him? It is better that you do not call Him. He can sleep in peace, you repeatedly call Him and trouble Him. By reciting a name, the qualities present in that name blossom in your consciousness. What happens if you sit and think about your enemy? There is such a sense of discomfort happening in your nervous systems then you are filled with restlessness and an intolerable feeling arises in you and you feel suffocated. If you keep thinking of your enemy for 15 to 20 days constantly, all your nervous system becomes like your enemy.  

Similarly, if you keep thinking of a nice person, one who is always happy, your consciousness too becomes happy. Whatever feeling you contain, your body shapes up accordingly. A person in too much worry expresses his worry through his face. Blood pressure rises in such a person’s body and it is full of restlessness – the vibration around such a person changes. The vibrations around a sad person are so heavy. If a person is happy, you feel the vibrations of happiness around such a person. Therefore, God’s name is recited not to make God happy. God does not desire that you recite His names. Therefore you have been given a desire to recite or not to recite the names of God. If it was God’s desire that you recite His name, then you would not have had any choice, you should have recited His name.

Ancient and yet new

Surrender, sharangati or namaha is the same. What is namaha? Where mid does not exist. Mind means consciousness is outward bound. Mind views the scene through the eyes. It is the mind which sees. Even if the eyes are open and mind is else where, then is it possible for you to see? Even if the waves of sound are dashing against the eardrum and your mind is elsewhere, then can you hear? You cannot listen. It is the mind, which communicates with the external world via the eyes, ears, nose and skin. The same mind, which is already, in touch with the intellect, vies the impressions and thought is the dream. It is the same and one consciousness which is outwardly bound through the sense in the form of the mind, If you reverse the word ‘man’ it becomes namaha. Mamaha becomes namaha. That mind which is inward bound is namah.

What is the need to utter the age old mantras? But whenever you recite it, it is new. Mind too is ancient. Your mind is then, twenty thousand years old.

The body is new every moment. In the same way, mind is ancient, but at the same time it is new. It is like the river Ganges which is flowing from thousands of years, but the water in it is fresh. In the same way, mind is very ancient, but at the same time it is new. The body too is, similarly. You assume that your body is old, forty, fifty years old… in spite of the age it is still new. In spite of having your body from fifty years, this body of yours is fresh. You have just eaten bread and vegetables in the morning and the energy obtained out of it is new. It is ancient and yet new.

Where does God reside?

There is a sholka in Sanskrit:
Manushyanam apsu devata. Manishimam divi devata. Balanam toshta rashteshu. Gnanino atmani devata.

For humans, God is in the water. For any pooja, a kalash is placed (a pot filled with water). Water means two things – one is water and the other is love.
Manishinam divi devata. - Divi means brightness intelligence , knowledge. For any ordinary humans being love is God. For an intelligent person God is in intelligence. Therefore, a very intelligent person is known as a devata, there is god in brilliance.
Balanam toshta rashteshu. Balanam – innocent, ignorant and not with much intelligence.
For them toshta rashteshu – God is in idols, stones and wood.
Gnanino atmani devata for the enlightened one all the gods reside in the enlightened one’s soul. Gods are not some where external.

-*-Jai Gurudev-*-