Worshipping Nagareshwara (SHIVA)

Makar Sankranti, or Sankranti is a popular Indian festival. It is celebrated in many parts of the country and also in some other parts of the world with great zeal and enthusiasm. It is a harvest festival which is basically celebrated in the Hindu communities.

ARTICLES NECESSARY FOR NAGARESWARA POOJA. 1. Picture of Shiva 2. Table, bench or box 3. Two stainless steel or silver vessels 4. Uddharane or metal spoon 5. Pieces of clean cloth to put on the altar 6. A piece of clean string (symbolic yagnopaveetha) 7. Kokum, halide and cups to hold them 8. Vibhoti 9. Akshata (uncooked yellow rice) in a cup 10.Sandal paste 11.Agarbathis, camphor 12.Fresh flowers, fruits, coconut, leaves, fruit juice 13.Lamps with wicks soaking in oil or ghee 14.Aarathi plate with oil soaked wicks 15.MAHAPRASADAM FOR NEVIDYA. 16.Naivedyam (Prasaad).

Worshipping Nagareswara is a very old Arya Vysya tradition. This ought to be a personal experience. All majority of towns in south India we have Nagareswara Gudi and all vysyas attend all festivals and pooja ceremonies together in these temples. At the philosophical level, the object of worship is worship itself. Nothing is sought as the end result. However, in order to reach that advanced level, we need to begin and practice praying systematically so that our faith in the Supreme Being is gradually strengthened.

To start with, the object of our prayer may be that the Almighty grant us the wisdom to enhance our faith in Him so that we may make a deeper commitment as bhakthas (devotees). Faith is the critical element without which any ritual or religious practice is meaningless.

And, further, it is of no value either here or hereafter We cannot sufficiently emphasize the powerful suggestion that is so easily and so often ignored. Krishna’s warning is that we should never engage in a puja ceremony or any other ritual if our heart and mind are not singularly devoted to it. It should not be performed merely because it is the family tradition or it is the "right thing" to do or to satisfy someone else. Do not do for the sake of satisfying some one. We have to do with great devotion and to satisfy Lord Shiva. I request the devotees to maintain silence and carefully try to understand the pooja vidhana and if some one to ask questions please reserve this to ask at the end of the pooja as the time available is very short and we have to go as per the schedule to complete all the programmes. All Vysya couples can do in their own home by practice and guidance and I will certainly help every one who needs help in this matter.

The best reason is the most direct and simple reason and that is to surrender to God to seek His protection and pray for inner peace from the eternal conflicts that afflict humanity. Let us simply resolve to pray to Him to grant us the wisdom to have faith in Him and with that faith seek His infinite grace so that we can live a Dharmic life full of joy and freedom as we serve Him and the society at large.

With faith as foundation, we can begin to develop the practice of worshipping a God/Goddess of our choice. However we need to understand and follow a systematic procedure. Further we need to create an environment in order to immerse ourselves in bhakhti. This is precisely the logic in having puja rooms in Hindu households. In the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada and in Australia, a new generation of Arya Vysyas is growing up and they need some assistance in learning the methods appropriate to their own framework so that they can perform poojas in the privacy of their homes or apartments. I also request the Arthur who is performing pooja has to have Yajnopaveetha. If for some reason if he do not have one or fallen down and not replaced due to busy work schedule please inform the priest earlier and he will make sure you will be given Yajnopaveetha with Gayithri manthra before starting the pooja. As Arya Vysya's are dwijas and has Gayithri manthra upadesha when they had their Upanayana every one should have this all the time.

These Puja details are generally applicable to all the pujas we do in our usual festivals. I request our Vysya members to try to do all these festivals either in their house or in the group of few families as we do in India in western countries. So that our new generation will cherish with our culture and traditions. Our Vysya major festivals are--- worships to the Sun God Soorya (Makarasankranti), Shiva (Shivaratri), Rama (Sri Ramanavami), Krishna (Janmashtami), Ganapati (Ganesha Chaturthi), Dasara (Vijayadashami), Saraswati pooja (Vasanth Panchami and Navaratri), and Mahalakshmi (DEEPAVALI).

Thus Arya Vysya youngsters may be able to plan a whole year of festivities, perform the pujas and build their own tradition in maintaining our Arya Vysya Dharma where ever they live in any part of the world.

The scriptures tells us that in this modern age, the easiest path to the Godhead is through Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion.
I would say that the most valuable thing of all is to develop intense love for God. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa called this "Raga Bhakhti" or passionate attachment to God. With this kind of bhav you will be able to achieve success in life.

Let us cultivate that raga bhakti through kirtan, japa, puja, and all our spiritual practices. Do whatever is necessary to gain that bhakhti,and if you can irrigate the garden of your heart with the waters of bhakti, then there will be no real effort required to develop dispassion. Vasavi Sathsanga is one of its kind in conducting the Bhajan programme among all our Vysya community and I request this tradition has to spread all over.

You will be simply transformed by your sincere devotion and communion with God that all the worldly desires, attachments, vasanas, and ambitions will just fall right away. What good comes of dwelling on one’s own faults and flaws? How difficult it may be to overcome through sheer will power some problem or some attachment.

Shiva is one of the Hindu trinity that comprises the creator Brahma, the protector Maha Vishnu, and the Godhead Shiva whose primary responsibility is maintaining the life cycle. Shiva is the only Godhead who is forever in deep meditation, totally absorbed in contemplation in His abode, Kailaasa mountain in the great Himaalaya.

It is possible to arrange a tour or trip to Manasa Sarovar and Mount Kailaasa to conduct Rudra homa there and this is the abode of Shiva can be visited . Very strange thing is that all the visitors to Manasa Sarovar and Mount Kailaasa has to take Chinese Visa as it is acquired by China now. This is our tragedy to loose the Abode of Shiva to China.

Shiva is an ascetic and several religious stories and dramas portray that all attempts to distract Him from that principal pursuit through temptations always ended up with disaster for those initiating such an effort. Thus Kaama, the Lord of Desires, who tried such a distraction was burnt alive through the fire when Shiva opened His third eye.

Shiva’s image appears to provoke the fundamental question: "What is this life all about?" and forces us to demand an answer such as sacrifice, worship and service as the potential elements towards salvation.

Shiva is worshipped as a Linga to help us contemplate the need to think of Him as the most basic and essentially formless one. Shiva is commonly portrayed as an ascetic with a serpent around His neck, vibhooti (sacred ash) adorning His face and His essentially bare body, a trishul (trident) in one of His hands and a kamandalu (container of water for use in religious practices) in another hand, and a damaruga (small drum) in yet another hand. Hindus believe that out of the cosmic dance by which Shiva is portrayed as Nataraaja (Lord of Dance), the very first sounds emerging from His damaruga led to Sanskrit sounds, and thus the origin of the language of the Devaas.

Even now dancers trained in Indian dance forms perform Shiva Taandava Naatya (Shiva’s Cosmic Dance) as a preferred item in their repertoire. Millions of devotees around the world worship Shiva and on a certain night in February each year, the whole night becomes a time to worship Parameshwara, the Mahaadeva: to celebrate Shivaraatri. In Shivarathri the poojas done for Lord Shiva in every step of 3 to hours called jama pooja. Devotees share the duration of all night indiiferent jama pooja. In India they are all ready doing the last jama poja while in England the first jama pooja done and in USA shiva temple midnight has not taken place yet.

First and foremost begin with cleansing, i.e. clean the area where the altar is to be set up. This should face the eastern direction if possible. You and others who will participate in the performance of the Puja should bathe, and wear clean and comfortable clothes. Men wear dhoti/uttareeyam combination. In kannada we say kache panche. No shirts or jubba or baneen is permitted. Arya Vysya men wear Silk makuta with silk shalya.

A small bench or a wooden table or a chair covering an area no larger than 36" x 24" and about 15" to 24" height is adequate. The size can vary if you wish to arrange more or fewer pictures and/or statues on the surface. Remember that you should be able to see the items on the altar and have easy access to make offerings during the worship.

Place the table or a wodden platform against a wall, cover it with a clean cloth, preferably white, and secure the same by tucking it under so that it won't slip off easily. Tape it if necessary such that the tape is not visible. Now arrange a picture of the God/Goddess to be worshipped, preferably at least an 9"x 12" size such that it makes about 10 to 15 degrees to the vertical and leans against the wall.

Similarly pictures/statues of the family Godhead and Guru must also be arranged on the altar. Prepare one or two lamps with cotton wicks soaking in melted ghee. Place the lamp/s about 6" in front of the picture if it is one lamp, or about 12" apart if two lamps. Do not light these until you are ready to begin the Puja. Prepare a worship plate (stainless steel, silver or any other metal, 12" to 24" diameter) by placing on it small vessels (cup-like, preferably metallic) of kumkum, turmeric, one packet of camphor, sandal paste, a dozen agarbatti sticks (incense sticks), and a match box Prepare another silver plate, 12" or 24" diameter and put a variety of fruits (bananas, apples, oranges, etc.) and a couple of varieties of leaves pathras and flowers. You will need an aarati plate. This can be a small plate with a few vertical wicks soaking in oil or ghee or an aarati receptacle with a few wicks soaking in oil or ghee. You will also need a small cup of akshata. There are arathees Ekarthi, thriyarthi and pancharthi and another one with 16 wicks mahamangalarthi.

Covered dishes of your favourite prasaadam or sweets may be placed in front of the altar on the cloth covered ground. A metallic vessel some prefer copper and most of Vysyas have silver kalasha large enough to contain a couple of mugs of water should be filled with water and placed in front of the altar. You will need a smaller vessel, preferably a metallic straight-walled tumbler into which water will be poured during the service. A dispenser (called uddharana or a simple metallic spoon) to dispense water from the tumbler will be needed. You will need a piece of cloth, white for a male deity and colourful cloth for a Goddess.

Now you are ready to begin. Light the lamps and a couple of agarbattis. Keep them safely in the vicinity such that they present no hazard. Direct the agarbatti smoke towards the altar such that the smoke does not cause discomfort with chanting by the assembled. You must realize that in a few moments you will be invoking and receiving a Godhead and therefore the principal mood should be one of joy and bhakti, but the mind should be relaxed. Make sure nothing starts until you are certain that a pleasant, sincere, reverential, relaxed environment is created to fill yourselves with joy as you begin to surrender to Godhead through worship Before starting the puja proper, it is essential to contemplate Mahaganapati to assure ourselves that no obstacles interfere with a smooth performance of the puja rituals. Thus, with folded hands chant the following:

video credit : Adithya Devotional

Karishyamaanasya karmanaha nirvigghnena Parisamaaptyarttham
Aadhou mahaaganapati smaranam karishye
So that the ceremonies we are about to undertake proceed to completion without any obstacles we contemplate on Mahaganapati Similarly the gruhadevata, i.e. the family Godhead, needs to be invoked as He/She is ever present bestowing protection to the family at all times. Chant as follows:
In order to assure ourselves that any and all evil tendencies are removed from the worship room, we start with a prayer to Shiva whose very invocation is believed to clear out any troubling vibrations.

Om namah pranavaarththaaya
shuddha jnaanaika moorthaye
nirmalaaya prashaanthaaya
dakshinaa moorthaye namaha
I salute the Lord of the Southern direction who is the very embodiment of the sacred symbol Om and of pure knowledge and eternal peace.
At this point I request all the Vysya devotees to join in the group singing of that powerful prayer
Naagendra haaraaya thriloochanaaya bhasmaangadhaaraaya maheshwaraaya
Nityaaya shudhdhaaya digambaraaya tasmai nakaaraaya namahshivaaya
Salutations to Shiva who wears a serpent as garland, who is three-eyed, whose bare body is covered with ashes, who is forever pure and the very embodiment of sacrifice
Now we are ready to invoke Shiva and offer Upachaaraas (reception with reverence). With folded hands, focus on the picture of the deity as you chant the following:

Om Sri Parameshwaraaya namaha Om I salute Shiva Parameshwara
Now offer a few grains of akshata with your right hand such that the grains fall on the picture gently as you chant.
Om Sri Parameshwaraaya namaha aavaahanam samarpayaami
I offer an invocation to you Offer akshata as before such that the grains fall on the altar as you chant
Om Sri Parameshwaraaya namaha aasanam samarpayaami
I offer a seat for you.

Place Lord Shiva Linga in the abhisheka plate and start RUDRABHISHEKA Puja. I am going to chant the rudra and chame Couple doing Puja (kirthru) has to commence pouring the milk slowly on Shiva Linga until the manthra chanting is completed. If I could not come there you can borrow the cassette of Rudra and chame. I request during Rudrabhisheka the devotees to maintain silence and hear the manthra and get Lord Shiva's blessings. Here after the Rudrabhisheka Pooja all the milk has to be collected and given to devotees as Shiva padodaka thirtha at the end of the puja Now we have to conduct the Panchamrutha abhisheka to Lord Shiva. We have to get ready with the following:-1st milk, 2nd yogurt, 3rd ghee, 4th honey 5 banana pieces and nuts.After the panchamruth pooja Clean the shiva Linga and place on the altar and during this time all the devotees can join together and sing LINGASTAKAM puma Puja to be conducted with akshatha and flowers with Shivastothara pooja.

(auspicious to read on Monday's)
Bramhamurarri surarjita lingam
Nirmala bashita shobita lingam
Janmaja duka vinasaka lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lingam

Devamuni pravarajita lingam
Kamadahana karunakara lingam
Ravanadarpa vinashaka lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lingam
Sarvasuganda sulepitha lingam
Budivivardhana karana lingam
Sidha surasura vanditha lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lingam
Kanakamahamani bushitha lingam
Banipathi vashitha shobitha lingam
Dakshasu yagna vinasaka lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lingam
Kunkuma chandana lepitha lingam
Pankajahara shushobitha lingam
Kanchitha papa vinashaka lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lingam
Devaganarchitha sevitha lingam
Bavarbakthibi varchita lingam
Dinakarakoti prabhakara lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lilngam
Ashthadaloparivetitha lingam
Sara samudbhava karana lingam
Ashta daridra vinasaka lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lingam
Suru guru sura vara poojitha lingam
Suravana pushpa sadarphitha lingam
Parama padam paramathaka lingam
Tatpranamami sadashiva lingam
Lingashtakam edam punyam pathichitha shivasanidhoou
Shivaloka mavaplotha shivana sahamoodatha.
puna Puja to be conducted with akshatha and flowers with Shivastothara pooja.

Now stand up and do a pradakshina (circumambulation) turning three times in a circle to your right. i.e clock wise direction slowly. Om Sri Parameshwaraaya namaha

yaanikaanicha paapaani janmaanthara krithaani cha thaani thaani vinashyanthi pradakshinam pade pade Whatever sins I have committed in all my lives. May all of them be absolved as I circumambulate in thy worship. Now the Puja can be completed with an aarati.

Here at this time I suggest devotees who can chant Manthra puspa should join together and chant manthrapuspa or a cassette can be played while couple doing arathi and all devotees to stand and worship in their mind.

After the Mahamangalaarati is complete, take the Aarathi around so that all devotees can receive the blessing by reverentially cupping their hands downwards and receiving the warmth of the flame and touching their eyes with the cupped hands inwards.

We conclude the puja ceremony by chanting the following two shlokas.

Tvameva maatacha pitaa tvameva
Tvameva bandhuscha sakhaa tvameva
Tvameva vidyaa dravinam tvameva
Tvameva sarvam mama deva deva
PRAYER is the path that takes us to God. The prayer makes you to cultivate the good

Pooja Program structured by

Dr M D Ramakrishna Gupta
Mrs Sharada Ramakrishna Gupta