Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why are puja articles arranged in specific five layers?

Namaskar! We heartily welcome you all for this Satsang (spiritual meet)! Before we commence this Satsang let us pay obeisance at the Holy feet of Sadguru (spiritual master) so that by His grace the very objective of this Satsang is fulfilled. Please pay mental obeisance to your personal icon of faith and recite as follows:

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्‍णु गुरुर्देवो महेश्‍वर: ।
गुरु साक्षात्‌ परब्रह्म तस्‍मै श्री गुरवे नम: ।।

In last few satsangs we have seen the important role played by articles such as kalash, lamp, shankh, bell ( ghanta) and other ingredients in the ritual of deity’s puja. We have also learnt their spiritual significance. For example the articles in use for many years are more beneficial from the spiritual view point. Since these articles are constantly exposed to Deity their sattvikta or purity increases and hence the divinity.

However nowadays we see that the articles used in puja ritual are not kept clean or are kept anywhere. Can then divinity develop in such articles? The answer is ‘no’. One feels cheerful if the articles used in puja ritual are clean. We also feel peaceful and feel close to them. The use of such articles awakens our spiritual emotion or bhav. The bhav in simple term means faith in some object or individual. The faith developed in our mind towards these articles and their constant use helps to enhance our spiritual emotion towards God.

If the arrangement of these articles during the puja ritual is also appropriate then it is spiritually more beneficial. According to spiritual science every article of puja has to be kept in a particular place during a puja ritual as that place has its own spiritual significance. Therefore when we keep all these articles in a particular way and in a praticular place then the spiritual benefits ofpuja ritual are enhanced. In this satsang we are going to see the arrangement of the puja articles and their spiritual significance. To begin with let us learn about the arrangement of puja articles.

1. Arrangement of puja articles

We have seen before that the spiritual benefit of clean articles is beneficial for awakening of spiritual emotion. In the same fashion the proper arrangement of them also gives us spiritual benefit. Nowadays we see that these pujaarticles are kept anywhere on the right or left side according to our convenience. But this not correct according to spiritual science. The expected spiritual benefit will not accrue if we keep articles as per our wish.

arrangement of puja articles

There are five layers of arrangement of the puja articles. What are this layers and what is the desired place for each article is shown in this diagram. If we look from the top then the arrangement of articles would appear in five layers like this. The first layer consists of plate for offerings (naivedya) and another for puja. The second layer consists ofKaalash (water pot), Jalpaatra (a cylindrical pot for water) and Aachmani (a spoon meant for performing aachman - siping of water).

According to the drawing we just saw, the worshipper should keep the copper platter in the front and kalash to the left of it and jalpatra and aachmani to the right of it. These articles are all related to the water element and hence water from these articles is used for various sub-rituals of puja. Now we let us see the third layer of arrangement of these articles.

As shown in this diagram arti plate containing camphor and oil-lamp should be kept on the left side of worshipper and incense sticks and niranjan (a type of lamp) to his right. A coconut is kept in the center right in front of Deity image. Fourth layer has conch (shankh) on the left side of worshipper and a bell on the right side. In the fifth layer keep two long lamps of equal height on both sides of temple room. These lamps are generally of metal brass.

Now the question arises as to why such an arrangement of five layers? The arrangement of the puja articles is based on five cosmic absolute elements namely absolute earth, absolute water, absolute fire, absolute air and absolute ether. Now the next question comes to mind is why it is based on these elements? Therefore now it will be useful to understand some things about relationship between this arrangement and the five great cosmic elements. Akashmeans space. From Akashtattva (absolute ether), vayutattva (absolute air) was formed. Vayutattva created Tejtattva(absolute fire). Tejtattva gave birth to Aaptatva (absolute water) and Aaptattva created Pruthvitattva (absolute earth). In short all the last four elements are formed out of Akash or absolute ether or space. While we do spiritual practice we get spiritual experience of earth element first followed by Aaptattva and so on till we get spiritual experience ofAkashtattva. Beyond the experience of Akashtattva we get the spiritual experience of God principle.

From this it must have been clear now that the arrangement of the puja articles is representative of the five great elements active in the universe. It also represents the sojourn of the individual from absolute earth element to absolute ether element during his spiritual practice.

2. First layer of arrangement of puja articles

2.1 Plate for offering sacrament

First part of first layer is a vessel or plate meant for offering sacrament and the second part is plate for puja. This layer of puja articles is representative of combined earth and water element. To offer a sacrament is a sub-ritual ofpuja. The worshipper is totally surrendered at the feet of deity at this time. Therefore the vessel or plate of naivedya is given a place in downward direction. Offering sacrament to a deity pleases Superior deities, deity of premise and deity of a place faster. Whenever possible It is always beneficial to use banana leaf instead of metal vessel while offering naivedya to a deity because it is more sattvik ( spiritually pure).

Now let us see how naivedya is to be served on a plate or banana leaf. At the center of the leaf from below upwards- spicy rice, ordinary rice to be eaten with dal, sweet rice and at the top rice wth curds. On the left part of leaf from above downwards- piece of lemon, chutney, raita (a type of salad), papad, pakoras and roti. On the right part of leaf from above downwards - Mattha (a typeof spicy buttermilk), kheer, dal and vegetables. This is the way the naivedyaleaf is to be arranged. It is to be remembered that always keep the tip of the leaf towards you while serving naivedyafor the deity and never serve salt in the naivedya. The salt is related to earth and water elements and therefore has the capacity to attract more raja-tama frequencies. Hence the salt should not be served in the plate or leaf meant fornaivedya.

Thus we understood the arrangement of leaf meant for naivedya. You must be thinking that since the sub-ritual of offering naivedya follows the actual ritual of puja, why it is considered here in the beginning? The explanation is that at the end of puja ritual the worshipper is in a state of total surrender and the naivedya is symbolic of it. Therefore please do not arrange the leaf for naivedya in the beginning of puja ritual. It has to be arranged in the end.

2.2 Plate for puja

In the plate meant for puja, on the right hand side of worshipper turmeric powder (haldi) and vermillion (kumkum) are kept and on to the left Bukka (a black coloured powder prepared from tale (a metal), gulal and sindoor. In the front portion of the plate a bottle of attar (a fragrant essence of flowers), a small plate of sandalwood paste, flowers anddurva (a type of fragrant grass) and other leaves. We are aware that attar, sandalwood and flowers have fragrance. The subtle particles of the fragrance are known as gandhkan. Similarly there are subtle particles of colour in leaves and durvas. The frequencies of deity principle are activated through the medium of these subtle particles of fragrance from attar, sandalwood paste and flowers and subtle particles of colour present in leaves and durvas. In the lower portion of the plate keep pan-supari (betel leaf and betel nut) and some coins as dakshina (offerings of money). We can keep a coconut in place of betel nut. Two leaves of betelleaf, betel nut or coconut and dakshina are kept together. Betel leaf, betel nut and coconut have the highest capacity to emit subtle frequencies of deities. The two leaves of betel leaf are representative of God and its activated energy that is Shiv and Shakti. They are invoked to work on a manifest (sagun) level. In the center of the puja plate unbroken rice grains are arranged in small heap.

2.3 Why are unbroken rice grains used as akshatas?

Now we shall learn about why the rice grains used as akshatas have to be unbroken. akshatas are all encompassing. They attract the subtle frequencies of five principal deity namely Shiv, Shakti, Shri Ram, Shri Krushna and Shri Ganesh. akshata is the central point of puja plate. akshtas also perform the action of transmitting the deity frequencies to other ingredients kept in the plate. If the rice grains used for preparing Akshatas are broken then their capacity to attract the principles of higher deities is automatically reduced. This deprives the worshipper of higher deity principles. As a consequence the grace bestowed on the worshipper is also reduced. That is why the rice grains should be intact because the broken grains are indicative of dissolution (laya). When the akshtas are offered to a deity the energy of the deity is transferred in it and favourable vibrations are generated in akshatas. (When any object is broken or cut, its capacity to attract distressing frequencies in the universe is enhanced and thus it gets charged with raja-tama particles. The emitted frequencies from such an object increases the chances of the individual to get susceptible for the attacks of negative energies or even get possessed. That is the reason Hindu religion gives so much importance to any object being intact. Breaking of any object is indicative of tama attitude. Such an attitude is prohibited in ritualstic worship. When any one of the two strings of a musical instrument having equal frequencies is stretched then the vibrations generated in it induce exactly similar vibrations in the other. In the same fashion when the Akshatas are charged with divine frequencies then similar vibrations are generated in the store of rice grains in the house. Thus the rice which is charged with divine energy can be consumed throughout the year as holy sacrament (prasad).

3. Second layer of arrangement of puja articles

This layer is related to aaptattva or absolute water principle. The articles used in this layer are kalash, a small cylindrical pot for water and a spoon for performing aachman. The water is clean and pure and hence is able to receive maximum amount of frequencies of deities. Therefore the kalash, cylindrical pot and the spoon are kept in the center of temple room. The water kept in the kalash maintains the correct balance of the five great elements. Generally a copper plate is kept in the centre and kalash is placed to its right while the cylindrical pot and spoon are kept to the left.

4. Third layer of arrangement of puja articles

This layer contains the articles related to absolute fire element or tejtattva. Here the niranjan and incence sticks are kept to the right of worshipper and oil or ghee lamp and arti plate with camphor on to the left. The incense stick orUdbatti is kept to the right of worshipper. The deities consist of five elements. Out of these elements pruthvitattva or earth element emits fragrance. This fragrance being very subtle cannot be received by ordinary individual. The udbattior incense stick has the capacity to absorb the subtle fragrance emitted by the deities. Thus when an udbatti is lighted the subtle fragrance of deities is emitted along with its own fragrance. For example when an udbatti having its own fragrance of sandalwood is burnt the subtle fragrance of sandalwood emitted from deities is also absorbed in it and the emitted in the surrounding atmosphere.

Ud’ is basic root in Sanskrut. ‘ud’ also means manifestation. The frequncies of fragrance of udbatti move in a upward direction and are active in that direction. The main manifest source of these frequencies is called as ‘udi’. The wordudbatti is derived from the distortion of the word ‘udi’.

4.1 Why is arti plate of camphor kept to the right of deity?

Now let us understand the spiritual science underlying keeping of arti plate of camphor to the right of deity. The right side is the seat of Sun channel or Surya naadi. The activation of Surya naadi awakens the divine energy or Shakti. The right hand direction of a deity contains the marak or destroyer principle of the deity. Destroyer means the one which destroys unwanted, tama predominant things. The performance of camphor arti emits destroyer type frequencies of fragrance. The atmosphere laden with frequencies of fragrance attracts frequencies of Shiv principle present in the universe. These Shiv frequencies then destroy the unwanted and impure frequencies in the atmosphere which gets purified thus. The atmosphere at the place of worship becomes full of chaitanya or divine consciousness. This explains why the arti plate of camphor should be to the right of deity or to the left of worshipper. Also the strong fragrance emitted while the camphor is burnt has greater capacity to attract the Shivganas (servant deities of Lord Shiva). The presence of Shivganas helps us to obtain the blessings of deity of place (sthandevta) and deity of premise (vastudevta) The fragrance of camphor when inhaled leads to decrease in the severity of respiratory diseases. The Shiv tattva enters the wind pipe through the medium of breath because of the fragrance of camphor.

4.2 Why is coconut is called as the most holy fruit?

The coconut is kept near and right on front of deity and centrally placed. The tift of coconut should be directed upwards. When a puja ritual is correctly performed the frequencies of five principal deities present in the universe namely Shiv, Durga, Shri Ram, Shri Krushna and Shri Ganapati are activated and get attracted towards the tuft of coconut. The same frequencies are then emitted back into atmosphere as per the need. These frequencies are emitted in the form of fountain and help in purification of atmosphere. Therefore the coconut is called as the most Holy fruit or Shri Phal that is it bestows maximum purity or sattvikta. This can be better understood with the help of a subtle drawing.

Subtle drawing of coconut

5. Fourth layer of arrangement of puja articles

This layer is related to absolute air principle or Vayutattva. The two articles here are Shankh (conch) and bell (ghanta). Shankh activates destroyer form of energy of a deity and it is kept to the right hand side of a deity or to the left of worshipper. The bell activates the saviour or tarak form of energy of a deity and is therefore kept to the right of worshipper that is to the left hand side of the deity. The left side is a seat of Moon channel or Chandra naadi. The activation of Chandra naadi imparts coolness. The bell is clapped during the time of arti for its pleasant sound. We have already learnt enough about bell in the previous satsang. Now let us see the last or the fifth layer of arrangement of puja articles.

6. Fifth layer of arrangement of puja articles

This layer is related to akshtattva or absolute ether principle. It includes two long lamps of equal height kept on both sides of temple room. When two long lamps of equal height are kept continuously lit with sesame oil on both sides of temple room, the energy of action of that particular deity is activated due to raja predominant sesame oil. These two lamps are representatives of Sun and Moon channels. Since the deities are more related to the tejtattva or absolute fire element the two lamps are also symbolic of that.

Thus we have seen that the arrangement of the puja articles is symbolic of five cosmic absolute elements namely absolute earth, absolute water, absolute fire, absolute air and absolute ether. From akashtattva (absolute ether),vayutattva (absolute air) was formed. Vayutattva created tejtattva (absolute fire). tejtattva gave birth to aaptatva(absolute water) and aaptattva created pruthvitattva (absolute earth). In short all the last four elements are formed out of akash or absolute ether or space. Thus akashtattva is all encompassing and assimilates all the principles. The pointed upper portion of the temple room is related to akashtattva and the frequencies emitted from this part of temple room manifest with the help of five elements as per the need of individual and work for him.

7. Benefits of arranging puja articles according to layers of five cosmic elements

Thus up till now we have seen the arrangement of puja articles. Once we have arranged the articles in this fashion it is easier to begin puja by shifting the plate of puja to the left of cylindrical copper pot and spoon. Now let us see the benefits derived by arrangement of the ingredients and articles of puja according to layers of five cosmic elements. There are main five benefits:

  • This type of arrangement leads to correct balance of all the five cosmic elements which helps the worshipper in receiving the chaitanya emitted from the deity to the maximum extent.

  • When the worshipper invokes the deities in the beginning of puja it becomes easier for them to arrive at the place of puja in the form of frequencies with the help of five cosmic elements.

  • These divine frequencies then charge every ingredient used in puja and the surrounding atmosphere also becomes purified.

  • The forth important benefit is such arrangement does have an positive effect on the worshipper and increases his sattvikta.

  • Such an arrangement creates sattvikta in both the worshipper and the articles of puja thereby tremendously benefitting the worshipper through the puja ritual.

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