Top Feature

This is a widgeted area which is called Top Feature. To get started, log into your WordPress dashboard, and then go to the Appearance > Widgets screen. There you can drag widgets into the Top Feature widget area on the right hand side. Find Out More

Do’s & Don’t

Hindu Rituals and Routines
Why do we follow them?
Hind
u Ritual
s and R
o
uti
n
es
Why d
o
we f
o
llow th
em?
Contents
Introduction
I
n
t
r
o
d
u
c
t
i
o
n
3
Why do we
…….
1.
Why do
we
light a lamp?
4
2.
Why do
we
hav
e
a p
r
ay
er ro
o
m
?
4
3.
Why
do we do
Nam
a
ste
?
5
4.
Why do
we
prostrate before paren
t
s and
eld
e
rs?
5
5.
Why
do we wea
r
marks
(tila
k
,
pottu
a
n
d the li
ke) on the forehead?
6
6.
Why do
we
not touch pa
pers, b
ooks a
n
d people with the feet?
7
7.
To touch a
n
other
with
the feet is
considered
an
act of misdemeanor.
Why is this
so?
7
8.
Why
do we apply
the holy
ash?
7
9.
Why do offer food to the
Lord
before ea
ting it?
8
10.
Why
do we fast?
9
11.
Why
do we do
pradakshina (circumambulate)?
9
12.
Why is pradakshina done on
ly
in a clockwise manner?
9
13.
Why do
we
rega
rd t
r
ee
s and
plant
s
as s
a
cre
d
?
10
14.
Why do
we
ring the
bel
l
in a te
mpl
e
?
10
15.
Why
do we worship
th
e
kalash
a
?
1
1
16.
Why do
we
consider the lotus as s
p
ecial?
11
17.
Why
do we worship
tula
si
?
1
2
18.
Why do
we
blow t
h
e co
nch?
13
19.
Why
do we say
sh
aan
ti
thrice?
13
20.
Why do
we
offer a coconut?
14
21.
Why
do we chant
O
m
?
15
22.
Why
do we do
aa
rati
?
1
5
– 2 –
Hindu Rituals and Routines
Why do we follow them?
– 3 –
Introduction
Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life.
Unlike other religions, Hindu dharma has many
specialties. This is not known as a religion,
it is known as the dharma; Sanaathana Dharma.
Sanaathana means, according to Bhagavath
Geetha, which cannot be destroyed by fire,
weapons, water, air, and which is present in a
ll living and non living being. Dharma means,
the way of life which is the ‘total of all
aachaaraas
or customs and rituals’.
Sanaathana Dharma
has its foundation on scientific spir
ituality. In the entire ancient Hindu
literature we can see that science and spirituali
ty are integrated. It is mentioned in the 40th
chapter of the
Yajurveda
known as
Eesaavaasya
Upanishad
that use scientific knowledge
for solving problems in our life and use the
spiritual knowledge for attaining immortality
through philosophical outlook.
Remember that in each and every
aachaaraa
there will be a component
of spirituality in it.
Without spirituality, nothing exists in Sanaatha
na dharma. Generally everyone bear a wrong
impression that this spirituality is religion.
Spirituality is different in Hindu dharma. Here
the question of religion does
not exist at all, because Hindu
dharma was not created by an
individual, prophet or an incarnation. Spiritua
lity is a part of every Hindu custom in the
normal life of a Hindu.
Aachaaraas
are to be followed based on their merits available from the self experience; you
need not blindly follow a teacher or someone wh
o gives advice without reasoning. All these
aachaaraas are mentioned for the prosperity of
the human beings and it should be the prime
focus for practicing the Hindu aachaaraas.
Achaaryaath paadam aadatthe
paadam sishya swamedhayaa
paadam sa brahmachaaribhya
sesham kaala kramena cha
This is an important advice given in
smruthies
. It means a person can get only one quarter
of knowledge from
Achaarya
– the teacher, another quarter by analyzing self, one quarter by
discussing with others and the last quarter during the process of living by method addition,
deletion, correction, and modification of
already known aachaaraas or new aachaaraas.
Aachaaraath labhathe hi ayu:
aachaaraath dhanamakshayam
aachaaraath labhathe suprajaa:
aachaaro ahanthya lakshanam
Aachaaraas are followed for the psychological
and physiological health and long life;
Aachaaraas are followed for prosperity and weal
th; Aachaaraas are followed for strong family
and social bondage and following the Aachaaraas give a fine personality, dharmic outlook and
vision, says our dharmasaastra.
In India everyone followed Aachaaraas for the
above mentioned psycholo
gical, physiological,
family relation, social benefits and national integration based benefits. It is your right and
duty to understand scientifically, rationally
and logically the meaning of each and every
Aachaaraas and follow the same in your life systematically.
Hindu Rituals and Routines
Why do we follow them?
– 4 –
1.
Why do we light a lamp?
In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily be
fore the altar of the Lord. In some houses it
is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and in a few it is maintained
continuously – Akhanda Deepa. All auspicious
functions commence with the lighting of the
lamp, which is often maintained
right through the occasion.
Light symbolizes knowledge, and
darkness – ignorance. The Lord
is the “Knowledge Principle”
(Chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener an
d the illuminator of all knowledge. Hence
light is worshiped as the Lord himself.
Knowledge removes ignorance just as light remo
ves darkness. Also knowledge is a lasting
inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. Hence we light the lamp
to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth.
Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too
would remove darkness. But the traditional oil
lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp symbolizes our
vaasanas
or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego.
When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas
get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns
upwards. Similarly we should ac
quire such knowledge as to take
us towards higher ideals.
Whilst lighting the lamp we thus pray:
Deepajyothi parabrahma
Deepa sarva tamopahaha
Deepena saadhyate saram
Sandhyaa deepo namostute
I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose ligh
t is the Knowledge Principle (the Supreme
Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance an
d by which all can be achieved in life.
2.
Why do we have a prayer room?
Most Indian homes have a prayer room or altar.
A lamp is lit and th
e Lord worshipped each
day. Other spiritual practices like
japa
– repetition of the Lord’s name, meditation,
paaraayana
– reading of the scriptures
, prayers, and devotional singing etc are also done
here. Special worship is done on auspicious o
ccasions like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals
and the like. Each member of the family – young or old – communes with and worships the
Divine here.
The Lord is the entire creation. He is therefor
e the true owner of the house we live in too.
The prayer room is the Master room of the
house. We are the earthly occupants of His
property. This notion
rids us of false pride and possessiveness.
The ideal attitude to take is to regard the Lord as the true owner of our homes and us as
caretakers of His home. But if that is rather
difficult, we could at least think of Him as a
very welcome guest. Just as we would house an important guest in the best comfort, so too
we felicitate the Lord’s presence in our homes by
having a prayer room or altar, which is, at
all times, kept clean and well-decorated.
Also the Lord is all pervading. To remind us that He resides in our homes with us, we have
prayer rooms. Without the grace of the Lord, no task can be successfully or easily
accomplished. We invoke His grace by communing with Him in the prayer room each day and
on special occasions.
Hindu Rituals and Routines
Why do we follow them?
– 10 –
Indian scriptures enjoin –
matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo
bhava, acharyadevo bhava
. May
you consider your parents and teachers as you wo
uld the Lord. With this in mind we also do
pradakshina around our parents and divine personages.
After the completion of traditional worship (p
ooja), we customarily do pradakshina around
ourselves. In this way we recognize and reme
mber the supreme divinity within us, which
alone is idolized in the form of the Lord that we worship outside.
13.
Why do we regard tree
s and plants as sacred?
The Lord, the life in us, pervades all living bein
gs, be they plants or animals. Hence, they are
all regarded as sacred. Human life on earth de
pends on plants and trees. They give us the
vital factors that make life possible on earth:
food, oxygen, clothing, shelter, medicines etc.
Hence, in India, we are taught to regard trees and plants as sacred. Indians scriptures tell us
to plant ten trees if, for any reas
on, we have to cut one. We ar
e advised to use parts of trees
and plants only as much as is needed for f
ood, fuel, shelter etc.
we are also urged to
apologies to a plant or tree before cutting it
to avoid incurring a specific sin named soona.
Certain trees and plants like tulasi, peepal etc., which have tremendous beneficial qualities,
are worshipped till today. It is
believed that divine beings ma
nifest as trees and plants, and
many people worship them to fulfill
their desires or to please the Lord.
14.
Why do we ring the bell in a temple?
Is it to wake up the Lord? But the Lord never sleeps. Is it to let the Lord know we have come?
He does not need to be told, as
He is all knowing. Is it a form
of seeking permission to enter
His precinct? It is a homecoming and ther
efore entry needs no permission. The Lord
welcomes us at all times. Th
en why do we ring the bell?
The ringing of the bell produces what is regard
ed as an auspicious sound. It produces the
sound
Om
, the universal name of the Lord. Ther
e should be auspiciousness within and
without, to gain the vision of th
e Lord who is all-auspiciousness.
Even while doing the ritualistic
aarati
, we ring the bell. It is
sometimes accompanied by the
auspicious sounds of the conch and other musi
cal instruments. An added significance of
ringing the bell, conch and other instruments is
that they help drowned any inauspicious or
irrelevant noises and comments that might disturb or distract the worshippers in their
devotional ardour, concentration and inner peace.
As we start the daily ritualistic worship (
pooja
) we ring the bell, chanting:
Aagamaarthamtu devaanaam
gamanaarthamtu rakshasaam
Kurve ghantaaravam tatra
devataahvaahna lakshanam
I ring this bell indicating
the invocation of divinity,
So that virtuous and noble forces
enter (my home and heart);
and the demonic and evil forces
from within and without, depart.
Hindu Rituals and Routines
Why do we follow them?
– 16 –
Aarati is often performed with camphor. This
holds a telling spiritual significance. Camphor
when lit, burns itself out completely without l
eaving a trace of it. It represents our inherent
tendencies (
vaasanas
). When lit by the fire of knowledg
e which illumines the Lord (Truth),
our
vaasanas
thereafter burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of ego which
creates in us a sense of individuality
that keeps us separate from the Lord.
Also while camphor burns to reveal the glory of Lord, it emits a pleasant perfume even while
it sacrifices itself. In our spiritual progress, ev
en as we serve the guru
and society, we should
willingly sacrifice ourselves and all we have, to
spread the “perfume” of love to all. We often
wait a long while to see the illumined Lord bu
t when the aarati is actually performed, our
eyes close automatically as if to
look within. This is to signify that each of us is a temple of
the Lord.
Just as the priest reveals the fo
rm of the Lord clearly with the
aarati
flame, so too the guru
reveals to us the divinity within each of us wi
th the help of the “flame” of knowledge (or the
light of spiritual knowledge). At the end of the
aarati
, we place our hands over the flame and
then touch our eyes and the top of the head.
It means – may the light that illuminated the
Lord light up my vision; may my vision be
divine and my thoughts noble and beautiful.
The philosophical meaning of
aarati
extends further. The sun, m
oon, stars, lightning and fire
are the natural sources of light. The Lord is th
e source of this wonderous phenomenon of the
universe. It is due to Him alone that all else ex
ist and shine. As we ligh
t up the Lord with the
flame of the
aarati
, we turn our attention to the very so
urce of all light, which symbolizes
knowledge and life.
Also the sun is the presiding deity of the intelle
ct, the moon, that of the mind, and fire, that
of speech. The Lord is the supreme consciousne
ss that illuminates all of them. Without Him,
the intellect cannot think, nor can the mind feel
nor the tongue speaks. The Lord is beyond
the mind, intellect and speech. How can this finite equipment illuminate the Lord?
Therefore, as we perform the aarati we
chant
;
Na tatra suryo bhaati na chandra taarakam
Nemaa vidyuto bhaanti kutoyamagnib
Tameva bhaantam anubhaati sarvam
Tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhaati
He is there where the sun does not shine
,
Nor the moon, stars and lightning.
then what to talk of this small flame (in my hand),
Everything (in the universe) shines only after the Lord,
And by His light alone are we all illumined.