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Sisty Three Nayanar Saints

Sisty Three Nayanar Saints

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Published by: Catarina Moreira on Mar 26, 2011
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Puja is the common term for ritual worship, of which there are numerous synonyms such as

Archana, Vandana, Bhajana, etc., though some of these stress certain aspects of it. The object of

worship is the Ishta Devata or the guardian deity or the particular form of the Deity whom the

devotee worships.

Whilst all things may be the objects of worship, choice is naturally made of those objects

which, by reason of their effect on the mind, are more fitted for it. An image or one of the useful

emblems is likely to raise in the mind of the worshipper the thought of God.

In Puja, an image or picture representing some divine form is used as the object of worship.

Theimageisadored.ALingamrepresentsSiva.Allformsareone.AllareadoringthesameIswara.

The differences are only differences of names due to difference in the temperament of the

worshippers, but not in the object of adoration. It is only out of ignorance that different religionists

and different sects fight and quarrel amongst themselves.

Regular worship, Puja or other modes of demonstrating our inner feeling of recognition of

Divinity in the idol unveil the Divinity latent in it. This is truly a wonder and a miracle. The picture

comes to life. The idol speaks. It will answer your questions and solve your problems. The God in

you has the power to awaken the latent Divinity in the idol. It is like a powerful lens that focusses

the sun’s rays on to a bundle of cotton. The lens is not fire and the cotton is not fire either, nor can

the sun’s rays, by themselves, burn cotton. When the three are brought together in a particular

manner, fire is generated and the cotton is burnt. Similar is the case with the idol, the power of the

devotee’s concentration and faith makes the idol shine with resplendence. God is then enshrined in

the idol. From here, He will protect you in a special manner. The idol will perform miracles. The

place where it is installed is at once transformed into a temple, nay, a Vaikuntha (abode of Lord

Vishnu) or Kailasa (abode of Lord Siva). Those who live in such a place are freed from miseries,

from diseases, from failures and from Samsara itself. The awakened Divinity in the idol acts as a

guardian angel, blessing all, conferring the highest good on the devotees.

All the Nayanars attained God-realisation through the worship of the Lingam, the image of

Lord Siva. A pseudo-Vedantin feels ashamed to bow down or prostrate before an idol. Appar,

Sundarar, Sambandar etc., had the highest Adwaitic realisation. They saw Lord Siva everywhere

and yet they visited all temples of Siva, prostrated before the idol and sang hymns which are on

record now. The Nayanar saints practised Chariyai and Kriyai only and attained God-realisation.

They swept the floor of the temple, collected flowers, made garlands for the Lord, and put on lights

in the temple. They were illiterate, but attained the highest realisation. They were practical Yogis

and their hearts were saturated with pure devotion. They were embodiments of Karma Yoga. All of

thempractisedtheYogaofSynthesis.TheidolinthetemplewasamassofConsciousnessforthem.

Lord Krishna gives a description of worship to Uddhava in the eleventh chapter of Srimad

Bhagavatam:

‘The sun, fire, earth, or clay, water, a Brahmin, any image of Mine in the concrete, clearly

thought of as seated in the heart, may be worshipped in My Name sincerely with such articles as

74

NAYANAR SAINTS

couldbeobtainedbyhim.Theworshipshouldbesincereandwhole-heartedandthedevoteeshould

imagineMeashispreceptor.ThedevoteeshouldbeginMyworshipforobtainingMygraceandnot

for any other desire. In ordinary images I should be invoked at every time of worship. I can be

pictured in the mind. The worship of My image in the heart should be with accessories pictured in

the mind.

‘The image should be washed or bathed, cleaned and adorned with ornaments and marks.

Thedevoteeshouldnotriseinthemidstofworshiptogetsomearticles.Onceseated,hemustfinish

itbeforeherisesforanything.HeshouldbeseatedonDarbhagrassorothercleanseat.Hemustput

My image facing north or east or must himself sit facing north or east. He must sit facing Me or

sideways. He should repeat the mantras for purifying himself. He should clean his body by control

of breath. He should sit quiet and meditate on Me for some time.

‘He should fancy Me as in a lotus with eight petals, overflowing with fragrance and radiant

with light. Sandal-wood, saffron, camphor, Kumkum and fragrance should be used. Purusha Sukta

(aVedicprayer)andothersacredliteratureshouldberecited.MydevoteemayadornMewithcloth,

gems,sacredthread,sandal,flowers,saffron,andointments,etc.Thedevoteeshouldofferwaterfor

washing the Feet, Achamanam (for sipping), sandal, words of greeting, invitation, and hospitality.

Heshouldalsowaveincense,lightandcamphoratMyaltar.HecansingaloudhymnsinMypraise.

He can sing songs and dance in My altar reciting My various deeds and achievements. He should

seek My grace, prostrating himself duly before Me. Putting his head on My Feet, he should ask for

My grace to protect him and save him from the wheel of births and deaths.

‘He should adorn himself with the flowers and sandal used in such worship. The devotee

mayworshipMeinanyforminallobjectsorinhimselfinthemannerthatappealsmosttohismind,

and inclinations, as I am immanent in all things. My devotee, worshipping Me thus with rituals,

Mantras or both, attains not only bliss and Self-realisation, but also all things he desires. By

building temples, altars, etc. devotees attain power over all the worlds. By worship of Me they

attain Brahma Loka. By all the acts, they attain My power and immanence.’

Bells are rung in the temples, and while doing Puja, to shut out the external sounds and to

make the mind inward and concentrated.

LightsarewavedbeforetheDeity.ThisdenotesthattheLordissupremeLight.Thedevotee

says: ‘Oh Lord, Thou art self-effulgent, Light of the universe. Thou art the light in the sun, moon,

and fire. Remove the darkness in me by bestowing your divine Light on me. May my intellect be

illumined.’ This is the significance of waving lights.

Incense is burnt before the Deity. The smoke spreads through the whole room. It acts as a

disinfectant. It denotes that the Lord is all-pervading and fills the whole universe by His living

presence. The devotee prays: ‘Oh Lord, let the Vasanas and Samskaras dormant in me vanish like

the smoke of this incense and become ashes. Let me become stainless.’

Burning of camphor denotes that the individual ego melts like the camphor and the Jiva

becomes one with the Supreme Light of lights.

75

PUJA AND ISHTA DEVATA

The pasting of sandal reminds the devotee that he should, in his difficulties, be as patient as

thesandal.Sandalemanatessweetodourwhenitisground.Soalso,thedevoteeshouldnotmurmur

when difficulties arise, but, on the other hand, remain cheerful and happy and emanate sweetness

and gentleness like the sandal. He should not hate even his enemy. This is another precept we learn

fromthis.Thoughthesandalwoodiscrushedandground,itsilentlywearsitselfout,emanatingonly

very sweet odour. One should return good for evil.

It is the understanding of this inner meaning of Puja that brings in the higher form of

devotion.

Bhakti is of two kinds, viz., higher Bhakti or Para Bhakti, and lower Bhakti or ritualistic

Bhakti. Ritualistic Bhakti is formal Bhakti. The mind becomes purer and purer. The aspirant

gradually develops love for God through ritualistic worship.

Hinduism leads the aspirants gradually from material images to mental images, and from

the diverse mental images to the one Personal God, and from the Personal God to the Impersonal

Absolute.

Do Japa of the Panchakshara—Om Namah Sivaya. You can even sing the Panchakshara

nicely:

Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namah Sivaya,

Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namah Sivaya.

People used to dance, during my tours, whenever I sang the Siva Tandava Kirtan:

Agad Bhum, Agad Bhum Baje Damaru,

Nache Sadasiva Jajad Guru

Nache Brahma, Nache Vishnu, Nache Mahadev

Kappar Lekey Kali Nache Nache Adidev.

Do Puja regularly with faith and devotion. Always and at the end of your prayers, Puja,

meditation or Japa, repeat the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra—

Om Tryambakam Yajaamahe Sugandhim

Pushtivardhanam, Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaan-

Mrityor Muksheeya Maamritaat.

for the health, long life, peace and happiness of all. This great Mantra in praise of Lord Siva

workswonders,avertsaccidents,healsdiseasesandbestowslonglife.Itwillalsoliberateyoufrom

Samsara.

76

NAYANAR SAINTS

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