Hindu Mommy

June 8, 2006

Hindu Rituals and Prayers – Part IV

Filed under: Hinduism,Kids,Slokas — hindumommy @ 11:49 pm

Why do we worship the kalasha?

Why do we consider the lotus as special?

Why do we worship tulasi

 

Why do we worship the kalasha? 

First of all what is a kalasha? A brass, mud or copper pot is filled with water. Mango leaves are placed in the mouth of the pot and a coconut is placed over it. A red or white thread is tied around its neck or sometimes all around it in a intricate diamond shaped pattern. The pot may be decorated with designs. Such a pot is known as a kalasha. When the pot is filled with water or rice, it is known as purnakumbha representing the inert body which when filled with the divine life force gains the power to do all the wonderful things that makes life what it is.A kalasha is placed with due rituals on all-important occasions like the traditional house warming (grihapravesa), wedding, daily worship etc. It is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used in a traditional manner while receiving holy personages.

Why do we worship the kalasha? Before the creation came into being, Lord Vishnu was reclining on His snake-bed in the milky ocean. From His navel emerged a lotus from which appeared Lord Brahma, the creator, who thereafter created this world. The water in the kalasha symbolizes the primordial water from which the entire creation emerged. It is the giver of life to all and has the potential of creating innumerable names and forms, the inert objects and the sentient beings and all that is auspicious in the world from the energy behind the universe. The leaves and coconut represent creation. The thread represents the love that “binds” all in creation. The kalasha is therefore considered auspicious and worshipped. The waters from all the holy rivers, the knowledge of all the Vedas and the blessings of all the deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for all the rituals, including the abhisheka. The consecration (kumbhaabhisheka) of a temple is done in a grand manner withelaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple. When the asuras and devas churned the milky ocean, the Lord  bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life.Thus the kalasha also symbolizes immortality. Men of wisdom are full and complete as they identify with the infinite Truth (poornatvam). They brim with joy and love and respect all that is auspicious. We greet them with a purnakumbha (“full pot”) acknowledging their greatness and as a sign of respectful and reverential welcome, with a “full heart”. 

Why do we consider the lotus as special? 

The lotus is the symbol of truth, auspiciousness and beauty (satyam, shivam,sundaram). The Lord is also that nature and therefore, His various aspects are compared to a lotus (i.e. lotus-eyes, lotus feet, lotus hands, the lotus of the heart etc.).The lotus blooms with the rising sun and close at night. Similarly, our minds open up and expand with the light of knowledge. The lotus grows even in slushy areas. It remains beautiful and untainted despite its surroundings, reminding us that we too canand should strive to remain pure and beautiful within, under all circumstances. The lotus leaf never gets wet even though it is always in water. It symbolizes the man of wisdom (gyaani) who remains ever joyous, unaffected by the world of sorrowand change. This is revealed in a shloka from the Bhagwad-Geeta:

Brahmanyaadhaaya karmaani

Sangam tyaktvaa karoti

yahaLipyate na sa paapena

Padma patram ivaambhasaa

He who does actions, offering them to Brahman (the Supreme), abandoning attachment, is not tainted by sin, just as a lotus leaf remains unaffected by the water on it.

From this, we learn that what is natural to the man of wisdom becomes a discipline to be practiced by all saadhakas or spiritual seekers and devotees. Our bodies have certain energy centers described in the Yoga Shaastras as chakras. Each one is associated with lotus that has a certain number of petals. For example, a lotus with a thousand petals represents the Sahasra chakra at the top of the head, which opens when the yogi attains Godhood or Realisation. Also, the lotus posture (padmaasana) is recommended when one sits for meditation. A lotus emerged from the navel of Lord Vishnu. Lord Brahma originated from it to create the world. Hence, the lotus symbolizes the link between the creator and the supreme Cause.It also symbolizes Brahmaloka, the abode of Lord Brahma. The auspicious sign of the swastika is said to have evolved from the lotus.  

Why do we worship tulasi 

In Sanskrit, tulanaa naasti athaiva tulasi – that which is incomparable (in its qualities) is the tulasi. For Indians it is one of the most sacred plants. In fact it is known to be the only thing used in worship, which, once used, can be washed and reused in pooja – as it is regarded so self-purifying. As one story goes, Tulasi was the devoted wife of Shankhachuda, a celestialbeing. She believed that Lord Krishna tricked her into sinning. So she cursed Him to become a stone (shaaligraama). Seeing her devotion and adhered to righteousness, the Lord blessed her saying that she would become the worshipped plant, tulasi that would adorn His head. Also that all offerings would be incomplete without the tulasi leaf – hence the worship of tulasi.She also symbolises Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulasi. Tulasi is married to the Lord with all pomp and show as in any wedding. This is because according to another legend, the Lord blessed her to be His consort. Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary wealth. The scales did not balance till a single tulasi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion. Thus the tulasi played the vital role of demonstrating to the world that even a small object offered with devotion means more to the Lord than all the wealth in the world. The tulasi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various ailments, including the common cold. 

Yanmule sarvatirhaani

Yannagre sarvadevataa

Yanmadhye sarvavedaascha

Tulasi taam namaamyaham

I bow down to the tulasi, At whose base are all the holy places, At whose top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the Vedas.  

To read the rest of the articles in this series,

 click – Hindu Rituals and Prayers – Part III

Hindu Rituals and Prayers – Part II

Hindu Rituals and Prayers – Part I 

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1 Comment »

  1. Santi Matram

    Note: “:” indicates elongation in pronunciataion
    1.
    o:m pu:r namidham pu:rnmadahah pu:r n:tpu:rnmidachyate |
    pu:r n asya pu:r n ma:da:yap u:r n me:va:yashisyate:||

    2.
    o:m i:sa:vasya midagam sarvam yat kinca jatya:m jagat|
    te:na tyakte:na bhnji:dhah ma:grudhah kasyasviddhanam ||
    3.
    a:gne:naya supadha:ra:ye:asma:n visva:ni de:va! Vayunani vidva:n|
    yuyo:dhyasmat juhura: nI me:nah bhu:yista:nte: namauktim vidhe:ma||

    I can send them in devanagari script to make full justice, if desired.

    These are three important slokas.
    These have profound meaning, try to understand them, we will understand God.
    The slokas are from I:Sa:va:syo:panishat

    Comment by swaralu — October 22, 2006 @ 10:46 am | Reply


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