Monday, June 18, 2012

' Nine Forms of Worship ' - Illustrated

Saturday, June 16, 2012

' Nine Forms of Worship ' - Illustrated

Today (16 June,2012) being a ' Sanipradosham day ',  prompts me to start writing this article. It is believed that all the Devas & Gods are assembled in Shiva temples during Pradosham time which is same as ' Sandhya Kala '. Further the first pradosham (Krishnapaksha Trayodasi - when Shiva performed the cosmic dance after swallowing the Halahala - poison was on a Saturday, hence ' Sanipradosham '  is considered even more auspicious.

This article deals about Nine forms of worship with illustrations. They are (1) Sravana, (2) Keerthana, (3) Smarana, (4) Padasevana, (5) Archana, (6) Vandana, (7)  Dasya , (8) Sakhya, (9) Atmanivedana.

(1) Sravana :- Parikshith Maharaja who was cursed by a Rishi Kumara called Sringi that he would meet his death within seven days by a snake bite, heard 'Srimad Bhagavatham' during those (last) seven days and reached the God's feet. Another well-known illustration for the significance of worship by 'Sravana' is in Bhaktha Prahalada who when he was in the womb itself  heard (sravana) the name of 'Narayana' and obtained God's Grace as a child.

(2) Keerthana:- Narada stands as a classic example for singing the praise of Narayana wherever he went. His lips was always uttering 'Narayana, Narayana..nama.' when his Veena, in his hand, was in tune with his song (Keerthana).

(3) Smarana:- Smarana refers to concentrating the form of God's image in the mind and describing the form in the mind itself in line with known slokas or stotras. Poosalar Nayanar is one of the famous 63 Siva Saints who wished to build a temple for Shiva. He was very poor and sought donations from the public but it went without any response. Poosalar Nayanar decided to build the Shiva Temple in his mind itself. He first made the foundation in his mind and went on to the next stages one by one. Ultimately he was able to complete the temple in a good shape in his mind itself (Smarana). He also decided to perform the consecration of his newly built temple in the mind and  was determined to invite Lord Shiva to perform the ceremony.

During the same period, the Pallava King also constructed a Shiva temple with pomp and style and invited Lord Shiva for consecration. The Lord appeared in the King's dream and advised him to postpone the date as he had already agreed to go to the temple built by Poosalar Nayana on the same day. The King went in search of Poosalar and to his surprise did not find any temple. Poosalar Nayanar explained that the temple existed within his heart. Lord Shiva appeared in effulgence and took Poosalar Nayanar to his abode.

(4) Padasevana:- Manikkavachakar who belonged to the 16th century and was a native of Madurai, worshipped Lord Shiva very earnestly. He set his foot once in Lord Nataraja's temple in Chidambaram. His heart poured out songs in adoration on witnessing the cosmic dance of  Lord Nataraja. The Lord was so pleased that he decided to bring them to light to the world of other devotees.

He came in disguise of an old Brahmin and pleaded Manikkavachakar to sing those songs as he could not hear them completely when he sang before Lord Nataraja in the temple. Manikkavachakar  sang the mellifluous numbers with dripping devotion. He surrendered  totally at the Brahmin's feet when the latter who had been noting down the recitals  most attentively vanished in silence.


Next day morning when the temple priest opened the sanctum sanctorum noticed a palm leaf book at the feet (Pada) of the Lord. He, in curiosity, opened the book and found it was titled as 'THIRUCHITRAMBALAM'  (Chidambaram is known by this name) with an explanation that the book took its shape as directed by Manikkavachakar. The description bore the stamp of LORD NATARAJA TO TESTIFY ITS AUTHENTICITY. This fact is engraved in the walls of the temple. Manikkavachakar was swarmed by the priests to know the genesis of the hymns. He replied  that the Lord alone knows the answer. So saying he merged with the Lord.(Padasevanam) at his feet.

(5) Archana:- This saint called ' SAKKIA NAYANAR ' was a Vellala born in Tirucchangamangai. He was totally disgusted with worldly
life and wanted to attain Liberation. He became a Buddhist, but  was not  satisfied.. He was immediately attracted to Saivism.. He adored Lord Siva. One day, as he was sitting in an open Siva temple and meditating upon, he got completely absorbed in the divine bliss and forgetfully threw a stone at the Lingam. On the next day, he went to the temple again and recollected the previous day's action. He felt that it was the Lord's Will, to reveal the profound truth that He would accept anything offered by His Bhakta in devotion. He threw a stone that day too. That became his daily way of worship, without which he would not take his food! One day, when he was about to take his meal, he remembered that he had not done his usual Puja. He forgot his hunger and rushed to the temple and performed Archana by throwing a stone. Shiva was pleased with his true devotion and took him to Kailasa. (Shiva's Abode)

(6) Vandana:- Vandanam is the basic trait of worship and need no specific illustration.
( Vandana means folding the hands respectfully to show one's regards)

(7) Daasya:- We hear a name like "Ramadas". Dasa in Sanskrit means ' to serve with utmost affection'. The best example for this form of worship is Hanuman. He carried Sri Rama on his shoulder physically. It would be most appropriate to say that Hanuman carried Sri Ramachandra Murthy in his heart. He flew thousands of miles to fetch the  ' Sanjeevi Parvatha ' to save Rama's life. He went to Sri Lanka as an emissary of Rama and found Sita in Asokavana. In short, wherever ' Rama Nama ' is uttered, Hanuman can be seen with folded hands with his eyes brimming with tears of joy.

(8) Sakhya:- Sakhya Bhava refers to the attitude of a friend towards Bhagavan. . Sundaramurthy Nayanar's devotion to Lord Thyagaraja stands as an illustration for this form of worship.

Sundaramurthy Nayanar visited many shrines before reaching Thiruvarur. The Lord appeared and asked the Brahmin Community to accord a warm welcome to Sundarar as he is a great friend to Shiva. Sundarar accepted it in humility. Sundarar, then began his worship in the temple,when  he heard a heavenly voice "Sundara, I have made you as my friend. For this reason, I once prevented you from getting married. Hereafter you will appear ever as a bridegroom and sport on earth ". Sundarar became a handsome bridegroom immediately. People called him "Thambirar Thozhar", meaning friend of God. Thereafter it was the Lord  who ordained his marriage with Paravayar and as a friend happily  performed it in style.

It was the Lord who sang the first line of the famous poem 'Thiruthonda Thogai' and Sundarar completed the song. The idol of Sundaramurthy Nayanar is always installed separately and  next to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity in Shiva Temples.

(9) Atmanivedana:- 'To give oneself to God' is same as referred in the doctrine of 'Saranagathi ' or total surrender to the God - this form of worship is known as 'Atmanivedana '. The classic illustration for atmanivedana is the worship of Arjuna to Krishna. In Kurukshetra war.  Arjuna was perplexed and worried 
as to how to fight with his Guru and close relatives and surrendered totally at the Lord's feet for what he should do. Lord Krishna was pleased with his devotion and utter faith and preached the universally well known  'Bhagavad Gita'.  Arjuna became totally relieved in his mind when Krishna preached :-

"Karmaye Va Adhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana" - In a nut shell this explains what is 'Karma Yoga' is all about. Our only concern should be about doing our duty to the best of our ability  and not worrying  about the results for those outside  our control.



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