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Our Hindu Heritage

Nataraja at SAT Tempe

In Sanskrit, Puja means reverence, adoration, or worship

Puja is a fundamental form of worship in Hinduism, and it varies widely from region to region and for different sects. Pujas are performed daily in Hindu temples and in Hindu homes. Pujas are performed in reverence to God, signified by the lingam or other deity according to the sect. Pujas are also performed on a variety of special occasions or included during ceremonies, which are considered “rites” or “passageways” to important events in life such as at weddings, sacred thread initiations, etc. Pujas are performed by a pujari. A pujari is a surname which means priest. Pujas are performed by offering many different items to the chosen deity. Items vary from 5 to 64.

Here, at SAT, during puja, we worship Siva, the Sivalingam being the form worshipped. Because our orientation is that of Self-Knowledge, we offer some of those items representative of such.

  • Offering incense symbolizes renunciation of vasanas;
  • Offering water symbolizes the pouring out or emptying out of ignorance;
  • Offering rose water symbolizes the essence of the mind dissolved in pure Consciousness;
  • Offering milk symbolizes all wishes and the fulfillment of those wishes being offered to the Absolute (alt. meaning: all individual souls ((i.e., the herd)), all the good of all the individuals are offered to the Lord);
  • Offering essential oil symbolizes the essence of Knowledge distilled by discrimination and devotion that pours itself continuously into the Truth;
  • Offering light (oil lamp) symbolizes the conviction that one is the Supreme Siva, without qualities and Self-illumined;
  • Scattering of flowers symbolizes the contemplation that “I am the perfectly full, blissful Self”;
  • Offering camphor (aarti) symbolizes destruction of ignorance by purifying the mind. When one takes the light to one’s forehead he is receiving illumination, which is Knowledge.

So, as each item is lovingly offered to the Sivalingam, absorption in deep meditation ensues, the mind rids itself of delusions and one attains the great Bliss of Liberation, which is Siva.

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