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Tuesday, 3 February 2015
NIRGUNA MANAS PUJA ( Also Called PARA PUJA ) :
NIRGUNA MANAS PUJA ( Also Called PARA PUJA ) :
============= The Highest Form Of Worship =============
Nirguna Manasa Puja, also called ' Para Puja' is the highsest form of worship. Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada has composed a wonderful stotram describing this worship. There is another stotram called 'Para Puja' which is almost same as the first part of this Nirguna Manasa Stotram. But the ' Para Puja ' stotram does not describe the worship while this celebrated hymn gives a clear explanation.
‘ Para Puja ’ in its literal sense means “ Beyond Puja “. The word Puja as used in this stotra signifies Bajhya Puja, i.e. external worship.
✿ Words of Swami Sivananda ✿ :-
Puja is worship of the Lord. This is one of the nine modes of Bhakti. This is also called Archana. The Lord is worshipped either in His Nirguana or Saguna aspect. Even this worship is done either with external materials or merely mentally in the case of advanced devotees.
The Bhakta does Puja to his Ishta-Devata. The Puja is Vedic, Tantric or mixed as is suitable to the devotee. One may choose any method according to his liking.
❁ MANASIKA PUJA ❁ :-
“ Manasika Puja is doing worship of the Lord without any external materials. All materials necessary for Puja are imagined in the mind and you feel that you are offering all of them to the Lord as in formal worship. This is more powerful than external worship. For, concentration is more in Manasika Puja than in Bahya Puja. Mentally feel all that you do in external worship. Enthrone the Lord in your heart. Do Puja, offer Arati, Arghya etc. mentally. Do Shodasopachara-Puja mentally. This is only a feeling of what is otherwise done actually with hands. Feeling is more effective than action. “
❁ PARA PUJA ❁ :-
“ Para Puja is the highest kind of worship. This is the worship of the Jnanis. This is the effect of Realisation of the Self. The devotee feels that he can do nothing but only experience God. He says: O Lord! How can I worship Thee who is without parts, who is Existence itself? How can I pray to Thee when Thou art my very being itself? How can I offer Arghya, Padya etc. to Thee when Thou art ever pure? How can I offer anything to Thee when Thou art ever an Apta-Kama? Can I wave a candle to the Sun and can I bathe the ocean with a glass of water? How can I offer Bhog to Thee when Thou art self-contented? And in this way the devotee feels the Infinite Nature of God. Para Puja is thus an illustration of impossibility of formal worship to God in consideration of His infinite and Eternal Nature full of Knowledge and Bliss. Para Bhakti and Para Puja belong to the same stage. At this stage the devotee becomes one with God and loses his individuality. “
“ You can worship Devi either through Vaidika or Tantrika methods. She is worshipped even without rituals, through Para Puja or Pure meditation alone. Indeed, this is the highest kind of worship, where the Divine Mother is considered as his or her own by the spiritual child. “
Swami Ramkrishnananda says,
“ To see God everywhere is the Highest worship; meditation is the next best ; prayer and repetition of divine names are lower than that; external worship is the lowest. “
Vaidhi Bhakti culminates into Para Bhakti, the supreme devotion where Ishta and Bhakta become one. External worship should graduate into Manasic Puja and Para Puja and so on. The difference between Manasik Puja and Para Puja is nothing but the innermost attitude. In order to know that this attitude is present, you must be ever watchful of yourself. That is constant meditation.
☛ Misguiding Propaganda :
Some cult followers who do not even understand / accept Shankara’s philosophy claim that Para Puja hymn denounces image worship in order to defend their own cults.
☛ Reply :-
अखण्डे सच्चिदानन्दे निर्विकल्पैकरूपिणि ।
स्थितेऽद्वितीयभावेऽस्मिन् कथं पूजा विधीयते ॥१॥
........ श्रीमच्छंकरभगवत्पादविरचितम् परापूजा स्तोत्रं
" In the indivisible Sat-Chit-Ananda whose nature is only unconditioned, and which is also the non-dual state, how is worship prescribed ? "
एवमेव परापूजा सर्वावस्थासु सर्वदा
एकबुद्ध्या तु देवेशे विधेया ब्रह्मवित्तमैः ॥९॥
........ श्रीमच्छंकरभगवत्पादविरचितम् परापूजा स्तोत्रं
" Those who know the Brahman, should with single mindedness worship the lord of the Devas (Devesha, i.e. Brahman), using this Parāpūjā, always and in all situations. "
☛ The hymn Nriguna Manas Puja and Para Puja are composed with the spirit of “ अहं ब्रह्मास्मि ”, i.e., Self - Realisation.The hymn is to show the superiority of Brahma - Gyaan over Vaidhi Bhakti. When one thing is said to be superior to another, it does not mean the latter is wrong.
☛ As Shankara writes in his Ishopanishad Bhashya (mantra 9),
“ … akaikanushthana ninda samucchichishaya, na nindaparaiva, akaikasya prthak-pahalashravanat “
“ Either of such knowledge and Karma separately pursued is here denounced, not really to condemn but in view to the desirability of their combination ; for distinct fruits are said to result from either individually “
☛ Similarly, meditation on the Non-dual Atman is stressed in the ‘Para Puja’ stotram and not to denounce anything.
When the Supreme Brahman has been realized, what is the need of doing षोडश उपाचार पूजा anymore ? But a Jnani must not give up meditating on the Supreme Truth … is the essence of the Para Puja and Nirguna Manasa Puja stotram.
From the viewpoint of Self-Realization, He says in Nirvana Shatakam,
न मृत्युर्न शङ्का न मे जातिभेदः
पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्मः ।
न बन्धुर्न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्यं
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम्
“ Neither am I bound by fear of Death, nor by the rules of distinctions of Caste, Neither do I have Father and Mother, nor do I have Birth, Neither do I have Relations nor Friends, neither Guru nor Disciple, “
☛ Now does He say these with the actual motive of denying Samsara?
No. Had it been so then Shankaracharya would not brought back the Vedic Varnashram Pratha in society. He even went back to His mother at her death-bed to fulfill His promise though he was a Sannyasi. Therefore, His works can be understood properly by knowing the essence and spirit behind such compositions.
☛ ☛☛ In his great work “ मठाम्नाय महानुशासनम् “, the Acharya has mentioned the presiding Deities of his four Mathas :
Adi Varaha – Kamakshi (Sarada), Siddheswar – Bhadra Kali, Jagannatha – Vimala, Narayana – Purnaa Giri.
☛ This is one single evidence is sufficient to prove that Acharya Shankar believed in Saakar Upasana and also propagated idol worship. Since the foundation of these Mathas, these deities have been worshipped till now according to the prescribed rituals.
☛ Those who have studied Acharya’s life and work as documented in “ माधवीय शंकर दिग्विजयम् “ know very well that He travelled as a Parivrajaka and renovated many Hindu temples. Kedarnath, Vadrinath, Puri, Varanasi, Aumkareswar, Dwarka, Kashmir, Kamroop-Kamakhya etc. had been visited by Him. Shankara single handedly revived Hinduism, established worship of Hindu Deities according to scriptures against the tyranny of Buddhists and other non-Vedic faiths.
☛ Post Shankara Advaitin Acharyas such as Sri Vidyaranya, Sri Madhusudan Sarswati and all of the modern Shankaracharyas and many great Vedantic saints have supported image worship. In famous works like “ Panchadasi “ we find image worship has been sanctioned.
☛ Shankaracharya’s commentary on Sri Vishnu Sahasra Naam is a wonderful work for the devotees of Lord Vishnu.
☛ Undoubtedly the Ultimate Reality is beyond name and form and of the nature of pure indivisible consciousness. Shankara stated that the direct method of realization of Brahman is not through worship, but the path of knowledge, which consists in hearing the instruction of a teacher, reflecting on its meaning, and lastly, meditating on Truth with single-minded devotion. Yet He was aware that few aspirants are strong enough to climb this steep path. The majority require a tangible symbol of Truth, anthromorphic or otherwise, and also a human relationship with a Personal God. For them prayer and supplication form an indispensable part of worship. Out of compassion for these seekers, Shankara composed many hymns in praise of Vishnu, Shiva and the Divine Mother.
☛ Hence contrary to the above propaganda, Shankaracharya did not denounce Saakar Upasana or image worship but rather encouraged these practice for suitable aspirants.
═══════ ✿ NIRGUNA MANAS PUJA STOTRAM ✿ ═══════
(Translated by Swami Yogananda Saraswati)
Devnagari Script here :
The disciple said :
1. In the indivisible Satchidananda whose nature is only unconditioned, and which is also the non-dual state, how is worship prescribed?
2. Where is the invocation (avahana) of the Fullness, and the seat (asana) of the All-supporting ? How is there washing of the feet (padya), offering of water (arghya) and sipping (achamana) for the limpid and Pure One?
3. How is there bathing (snana) for the Immaculate, and clothing (vasa) for the womb of the universe? How is there a sacred thread (upavita) for Him who is without lineage and caste?
4. How is there sandal paste (gandha) for the Unattached, and flowers (pushpa) for the Odorless? What is the jewel (bhusha) of the Undifferentiated? What ornament (alamkara) for the Formless?
5. What use of incense (dhupa) for the Spotless, or of lamps (dipa) for the Witness of everything? What is here the food-offering (naivedyam) for Him who is satiated only with His own bliss?
6-7. How does one prepare betal (tambula) for the Rejoicer of the universe? He whose nature is self-luminous consciousness, that Illuminator of the sun and other stars, who is sung by `shrutis’, how is there for Him the light- waving ceremony (nirajana) What circumambulation (pradakshina) for the Infinite? What prostration (pranama) for the non-dual Reality?
8. For Him who is unknowable by the words of the Vedas, what praise (stotra) is prescribed? How is there the ceremony of dismissal (udavasana) for Him who is established inside and outside?
The Guru said :
9. I worship the symbol of the Self (atmalinga) shining like a jewel and situated in the heart-lotus within the city of illusion, with the ablutions (abhisheka) of the unsullied mind from the river of faith, always, with the flowers of samadhi, for the sake of non-rebirth.
10. `I am the One, the Ultimate’. Thus one should invoke (avahayet) Lord Siva. Then one should prepare the seat (asana) , that is thinking of the self-established Self.
11. `I have no contact with the dust of virtue and sin.’ Thus should the wise one offer washing of the feet (padya), that is such knowledge destroying all sins.
12. One should pour forth the handful of water which is the primal- ignorance (mula ajnana) held from time without beginning. This is verily the water- offering (arghya) of the symbol of the Self.
13. `Indra and other beings drink only the tiny fraction of a drop from the waves of the bliss ocean of Brahman.’ That meditation is considered as the sipping (achamana).
14. `All the worlds are bathed verily by the water of Brahma’s bliss which is indivisible.’ That meditation is the ablution (abhishechana) of the Self.
15. `I am the light of Consciousness without any veil’. This thinking is the holy cloth (sad vastram) of the symbol of the Self. Thus should think the wise one.
16. `I am the thread of the garland of all the worlds which are in the nature of the three gunas’. This conviction is verily considered here as the highest sacred thread (upavita).
17. `This manifold world mingled with numerous impressions is supported by me, and by no other’. This meditation is the sandal paste (chandana) of the Self.
18. With the sesamum-flowers in the form of renunciation of the activity of sattva, rajas, and tamas, one should always worship (yajet) the symbol of the Self, for attaining liberation while living.
19. With the non-dual Bel leaves devoid of the triple distinction between the Lord, the guru, and the Self, one should worship (yajet) Lord Siva that is symbol of the Self.
20. One should think of His incense (dhupa) as the giving up of all impressions. The wise one should show the lamp (dipa) that is the realization of the luminous Self.
21. The food-offering (naivedyam) of the symbol of the Self is the big rice pudding known as the egg-universe of Brahma. Do drink the sweet nectar of bliss that is the delightful beverage (upasechana) of Mrityu or Lord Siva.
22. One should remember that cleansing the remnants of ignorance with the water of knowledge, is the washing of hands (hasta prakshalana) of the pure symbol of the Self.
23. Giving up the use of the objects of passion, this is the chewing of betal (tambula) of Lord Siva, the supreme Self who is devoid of the attributes beginning with passion.
24. Knowledge on one’s own nature of Brahman, most shining, and burning to destruction the darkness of ignorance, that is here the waving of lights (nirajana) of the Self.
25. The vision of the manifold Brahman is the ornament (alamkritam) with garlands. Then one should remember the vision of the all- blissful nature of the Self, as the handful of flowers. (pushpanjali).
26. `Thousands of Brahmandas revolve in me, the Lord, whose nature is immovable and steady like a heap.’ This meditation is the circumambulation (pradakshina).
27. `I am verily worthy of a universal salutation. Apart from my true Self, none is so worthy of salutation.’ This reflection is verily here the salutation (vandana) of the symbol of one’s own Self.
28. The idea of the unreality of duties is termed as the saintly act (sat kriya) of the Self. Thinking of the Self as being beyond names and forms, this is the praise of his name (nama kirtana).
29. The hearing (shravana) of that God is the thought of the unreality of things to be heard of. The reflection (manana) of the symbol of the Self is the thought of the unreality of things to be reflected on.
30-31. Knowledge of the unreality of things to be contemplated upon, is the deep meditation (nididhyasana) of the Self. Devotedness to the Self by the absence of all delusion and distraction, is named the perfect steadiness (samadhi) of the Self; and not delusion of one whose mind rests on something else. This is called the eternal repose of the mind (chitta vishranti) in Brahman itself.
32-33. Thus performing till death or even for a moment this worship of the symbols of one’s own Self, which is expounded according to Vedanta, one who is well concentrated should give up the illusion of all bad impressions, as dust from the feet. Having shaken off the mass of ignorance and pain, one attains the bliss of liberation.
" Om Shanti Shanti Shanti "