Fivefold Worship of Deities - Shiv Purana
Shiva Purana deliberates on ways and means to purify body, mind and wealth. Shiva Purana in simple language highlights the advantages of five-fold procedure of worship of deities - Yajna (fire-sacrifice), Daan (charitable gifts), japa, Tapas (austerities) and Puja. (Chapters 13 - 16, Vidhyeshwara Samhita)
At the beginning of the first creation, Bhagwan Mahadeva, the omniscient, merciful created the different week days for the entire world. First week day is his own day of Shiv ji, the global physician, the bestower of good health. Next, he created the day of Maya, the bestower of prosperity. The day after that created for the sake of surmounting mishaps and idleness. With the desire to bless the world and for their nature and protection he created next day dedicated to Sri Vishnu, the protector of world. The next day created for the sake of longevity of the world dedicated to the creator of the three worlds, Brahma. The last two days of the week created are for Indra and Yama. In the beginning when Bhagwan created Punya and Papa (virtue and sin) for the three worlds to flourish, these deities preside over them were assigned these two days. The last two days are bestower of worldly enjoyment and remover of premature death respectively.
Different days have their own master (swami) in the planetary system, created by Shiv ji. (Sunday – Sun, Shiv Ji, Monday – Moon, Laxmi, Tuesday – Mars, Kali, Hanuman ji, Wednesday – Mercury, Vishnu, Thursday – Jupiter, Friday – Venus and Saturday – Saturn, Rudra). Their worship on respective days accords the respective benefits viz. health, riches, removal of sickness, nourishment, longevity, enjoyment of pleasures and prevention of death respectively. The five-fold procedure to propitiate the deities is:
Dharma is twofold: one through the sacrificial offering (Yajna) and the other through the body by performing ceremonial ablution in a sacred river etc. One can earn wealth through virtues, Penance makes it divine. A person free from desire gains inner purity and by inner purity rises wisdom. In satya yuga, Dwaper and Treta, penance was recommended for Dharma; in Kaliyuga, is through worship of idols. The fruits are according to deeds. Dharma increases happiness and evils (adharma) increases misry. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita Chapter 13, shlokas 52-57)
Deities’ Yajna, rites, charitable gifts etc. done in the pure house, accord normal benefit, done in cowshed accord ten times of normal benefit, done at bank of tank accord hundred times of normal benefit, done near Tulsi plant or of Belva or Pipal trees accord a thousand times of normal benefit, done in temple accord two thousand times of normal benefit, done at the bank of seven holy rivers (Ganges, Godavari, Kaveri, Tamraparnika, Sindhu, Saryau and Narmada) accord twenty thousand times of normal benefit, done at the shore of Sea accord two lakh times of normal benefit and done on the summit of the mountain is twenty lakh times of normal benefit. But the place where the mind absorbs maximum is the excellent of all places. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 1-5)
The benefits of yajna, charity etc. accrue in full in Satya yuga, three-fourth in Treta, half in Dwaper and one-fourth in Kali yuga. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 6-7)
The benefits of yajna, charity etc. done by a pure souled person, accrue normal gain on a holy day, ten times during the period of transmigration of sun from one zodiac to another (day of Sankranti), hundred times during the period of equinox (when day & night are equal – 21st March & 22nd September), a thousand times on the day of commencement of Dakshin Ayana i.e., transit to Capricornus (kark Sankranti), ten thousand times on the day of commencement of Uttara Ayana (Makar Sankranti) and a hundred thousand times on the day of lunar eclipse. The period of solar eclipse is still more beneficial. The days of birth star and concluding day of holy rites are equally good. But the efficacy of the period of association of holy people (Satsang) is crore of times beneficial than that of solar eclipse. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 8-12)
The two – practice of austerities and making charitable gifts – must be carried out always. Charitable gifts given for the satisfaction of deities is conducive to worldly enjoyment. Such a devotee shall always attain noble birth and enjoyment here and thereafter. If he performs the sacred rites with dedication to God, he shall attain salvation. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 59-60)
In the daily or special sacrifices of the deities, ceremonial ablutions, charitable gifts, repeated reciting of mantras, sacrifices, propitiation of different deities in view of special dates or special conjunctions of planets or different days of the week, it is omnipresent supreme Brahman who bestows health and other benefits by assuming different forms. He bestows the same according to the time, place, rightfulness, materials, faith and region. Indigent person should worship deities with austerities and rich person by spending money. Again and again, they shall do virtuous actions with sufficient faith. When virtues become ripe, he shall achieve perfect knowledge.
Yajna (Fire Sacrifice):
The offering made into the fire is called as fire-sacrifice (Agni Yajna). In fire sacrifice, for brahmacharya staying in Ashram, samidhas (wooden logs) are sacrificed; for householders, rice etc. The offering made in evening for the fire god is bestower of prosperity. The offering made in morning for the sun god brings longevity. Offering made to sun is also Agni yajna.
All persons who are eagerly engaged Brahmyajna, worship of deities, worship of fire, reverence to preceptors and gratification of brahmins deserve to attain heaven. The study of Vedas after daily morning tasks till evening is Brahm yajna. The fire sacrifices made for the propitiation of Indra and other gods are called as Dev Yajna.
On each day, repeated recitation of mantras, feeding the Brahmins favourite dishes & goods of respective deities (Monday – cooked rice soaked in ghee; Tuesday – urad, moong, arhar; Wednesday - curd rice; Thursday - Kheer with added ghee, clothes; Friday – six flavoured foods: pungent, sweet, sour, salt, bitter & astringent; Saturday – gingelly seed (Till).
Daan (Charitable gifts):
According to the Vedas, the person attains the region of that deity to whom he makes charitable gifts. Everyone should set apart a third of his wealth for Dharma, another third for vriddhi (flourishing) and rest for his bhoga (enjoyment).
Charity of cooked food has ancillary ten limbs viz. Honouring, inviting, providing oil bath, washing & serving the feet, bestowing cloth, scents, delicious food, all six flavours, betel leaves, monetary gift and namaskar. The person who renders ten sorts of ancillary services to ten holy Brahmins, he secures good health if done on Monday and other benefits on other days, for ten years in this or next life. If given to hundred Brahmins, he secures Shiva loka for a thousand years; if given to thousand Brahmins, he secures benefits for ten thousand years; if given to a thousand holy Brahmins, he attains Satya loka; if given to ten thousand persons, he secures Vishnuloka; if given to one lakh persons, he secures benefits in Rudra loka. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 27-35)
There are twelve things to be given in the twelve months beginning from month Chaitra or all together on auspicious occasion for flourishing of what is cherished – cow, plot of land, gingelly seeds, gold, ghee, cloth, food grains, jaggery, silver, salt, ash ground and a virgin. Cow dung (in form of manure etc.) ward off sins accruing from wealth & grain while sins connected with water, oil etc. are ward off by cow’s urine. The three kind of sins – physical, verbal and mental are warded off by milk, curd and ghee. Gift of plot of land is conducive to stability. Gift of gold increases gastric fire and is conducive to virility. Gift of ghee is nourishing and that of cloth is conducive to long life. Gift of food grains is conducive to increase the food production. Gift of jaggery yield sweet food. Gift of silver is conducive to increase in the quantity of semen. Gift of salt is conducive to the happy admixture of six tastes. The gift of pumpkin gourd is conducive to nourishment. All kinds of gifts increase everything and secure all kinds of enjoyment. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 42- 50)
Charitable gifts out of wealth earned by lawful means increase wisdom. By wisdom and grace of guru, moksha (salvation) is achieved. Salvation is realisation of one’s own self and perfect bliss. All these things are attained, if the person cultivate association of good people (Satsang).
Householder should make charity of grains, wealth, etc. water should be given to thirsty, food to hungry and sick. Gift of food is of types – field, unhusked grain, uncooked food and cooked food. A giver of food receives half the merits of the receiver which he accumulates till the time food is digested.
A hungry person deserves charitable gifts and cooked food. If charitable gifts are given after requests, it yields half the benefits. Monetary gifts to servants accord only one-fourth of benefit. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 18-22)
The person devoid of wealth shall endeavour to accumulate penance and austerities. Everlasting happiness is achieved by pilgrimage to holy centres and penances.
Japa (Recitation of Mantras repeatedly):
From Mahat Tattva (cosmic principle from which body and mind is formed), there are a thousand of extraneous bodies each of which is passed by each mantra slowly and Jiva must be unified with the supreme. This is the principle on which the Japa is based. Repetition of a smaller number of times may guard soul to some extent. And bring about the rebirth in the family of Brahmin.
Our body has six chakras – Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajna. Sahasrara, the crown of head is not considered as Chakra and is identical as Brahman. One shall continue the japa on each chakra meditating on respective deities stationed there as well as stationed outside the body as well.
Only one who has purified oneself by means of Gayatri Japa can be called as pure Brahmin. He alone deserves the position of presiding over all rites, dana, japa, puja etc. He can the save others.
Gayatri Mantra is a three footed sacred mantra of Rigveda. It is addressed to sun (Savitar) and is therefore called Sivitri. Tatsaviturvranyam………Prachodayat means we meditate on that excellent light of the sun. may he illuminate our minds. It is one of purificatory rites. In this, boy is invested with the sacred thread (Janau) and thus endowed with spiritual birth and qualified to learn the Vedas by heart. A brahmin is initiated in the eighth year, kshatriya in the eleventh year, Vaishya in twelfth year; but term could be delayed.
In morning, after Sandhya upasana of Gayatri mantra, Arghya shall be offered thrice to the sun towards east. In midday, Arghya once is given. The offering of Arghya in the morning is by lifting both the hands high up; that in midday by letting off the water through the fingers and that in the evening by letting the water over ground facing the west. The circumambulation of oneself is performed and Achamana (without mantra) is performed. In midday the sun is viewed through the fingers reciting the mantra prescribed for that. Sandhya prayer before the prescribed time is ineffective. Sandhya should be done at the prescribed time.
One should firmly sit with mind in concentration and perform Gayatri japa after due obeisance to all gods. He should omit the Pranav mantra.
While practicing Gayatri mantra he shall realise fully the identity of the individual soul (Jiva) with the supreme Brahman. The full implication of Gayatri should be borne in mind when Japa is performed. We pray to Brahma, the creator of three worlds, to Achyuta the sustainer and Rudra the annihilator. We meditate on the self-luminary that prompts us in the activities of virtue and wisdom bestowing enjoyment and salvation. An excellent brahmin recites Pranav mantra a thousand times in morning every day, in midday hundred times and in evening twenty-eight times. Others can repeat the mantra as many times as possible. (Gayatri Sandhya: Vidhyeshwara Samhita Chapter 13, shlokas 26-46)
Persons of unflinching devotion to austerities and perfect knowledge, yogis, ascetics and brahmin who has repeated 24 lakh Gayatri Mantra, deserve holy worship since they quell others’ sins. (Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 15 shlokas 13-14)
Puja (Propitiation on the altar, idol, fire or an imagining deity in the brahmin by worshiping through sixteen forms):
One should perform the three rites of virtues viz. Nitya (daily prayers etc.), Naimittika (casual act of pity) and kamya (specific rites for fulfilling the desires).
In order to derive full benefit of worship, the sixteen forms of service shall be observed. The sprinkling of water over the idols shall be performed with flowers. The pouring of water shall be performed with mantras. The food offering should consist of Kheer. Abhishek of deities is conducive to the purity of soul, scent increases virtue, offering eatables to deities is conducive to increase of age & satisfaction, incense increases wealth, lighting of lamp is conducive to perfect knowledge and betel leaves are conducive to enjoyment. Hence in all worship these six items are scrupulously observed. Obeisance to the deity and repeated recitation of mantras accord all cherished desires. By worship of deities, the devotee attains different regions.
The sixteen types of puja services are – invocation (Avahana), offering the seat (Asana), water of offering (Arghya), washing of feet (Padya), water for rinsing the mouth as a mystical rite (Achmana), oil bath (Abhyanga snana), offering of cloth (Vastra), Scents (Gandha), flowers (pushpa), incense (dhupa), lamps (deepa), food offering (Nivedana), waiving of light (Nirajana), beetal leaves (Tambula), obeisance (Namaskara), and mystical discharge and conclusion (Visargana).
Or the devotee need perform the rites from water offering to food offering alone duly.
Or the devotee shall daily, as he can, ablution (purification process - Abhisheka, bathing in river),
food offering (Naivedya), and obeisance (Namaskara) and propitiation (Tarpana), - all these in order. It shall accord in the region of Shiva. Or he shall perform all the sixteen rites in the phallic emblem of human, saintly or godly origin, or in naturally risen up (Svayambhu) or in one of the extra ordinary natures installed duly. By circumambulation and obeisance, he will attain Shiva’s region gradually.
Reference: Shiva Purana, Vidhyeshwara Samhita Chapter 13, shlokas 26 – 85; Chapter 14, Shlokas 2-46; Chapter 15, Shlokas 1 – 60, Chapter 16)