Vrata is performed for purification of the mind. It is a part of Naimittika or voluntary Karma. It is a form of Self-restraint.
Hindus observe various kinds of Vratas such as Ekadasi Vrata, on the eleventh day of each fortnight. Satya Narayana Vrata in honour of Lord Narayana, Varalakshmi Vrata in honour of Goddess Mother Lakshmi, Ananta-padmanabha Vrata, Savitri Vrata, Janmashtami Vrata, Ghandrayana Vrata, Krischara Vrata, Pradosha Vrata. Some fast on Ekadasi, or Pradosha days, to propitiate Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva, respectively. Some fast on Sundays to propitiate the Sun. Some fast on Mondays to propitiate Lord Siva. On Nirjal Ekadasi they do not take even a drop of water. On Satyanarayana Vrata day they fast and do Pooja and worship of Lord Vishnu. The priest reads Satya-narayana Katha. In Sivarathri Vrata in honour of Lord Siva, they fast, keep vigil and do worship of Lord Siva. On Sri Krishna Janmashtami Vrata, the devotees fast on the birthday of Lord Krishna. All Vratas aim at purifying the heart, controlling the senses and cultivating devotion to the Lord. The worldly people are always busy in earning money and doing various kinds of work. At least during these days of Vrata, they have opportunities to introspect, to worship, to do Japa and intense meditation, to study holy scriptures and to practise self-analysis. Ghandrayana Vrata and Krischara Vrata are observed for expiation of sins and to purify the heart.
Each Vrata has its peculiarities. Certain features are common to Vrata of different kinds. The aspirant observes Brahmacharya or sexual continence, fasts or takes milk and fruits or light diet. No fish or meat is taken.
Siddhi is perfection. Siddha is one who has attained perfection or Self-realisation. Siddhi is attained by Sadhana. Siddhi literally means success, achievement, attainment and fruition of all kinds.
One may attain Siddhi in speech, Siddhi in Mantra, Siddhi in Yoga etc.
The eight major Siddhis are Anima (the power of becoming small), Mahima (the power of becoming great), Laghima (the power of becoming light), Garima (the power of becoming heavy), Prapti (the power of reaching anywhere, the power to approach distant things even to moon, to reach it with tip of finger), Prakamya (the power of having all desires realised), Ishitva (lordship), Vashitva (the power to command all or the perfect control over elements).
The minor Siddhis are Doora Darshan (clairvoyance), Doora Sravan (clairaudience), Kama rupa (assuming any form you like), Parakaya Pravesh (entering into another body, or animating a dead body and entering into it by transforming his soul), Iccha Mrityu (Death at his will), Trikala Jnana (knowledge of past, present and future), Kaya Vyuha (taking as many bodies as the Yogi likes to exhaust all his Karmas in one life). He gets the knowledge ofhis past life. He gets knowledge of the cluster of stars and planets. , ,Vayu Siddhi : The Yogi rises in the air and leaves the ground..
• The greatest of all Siddhis is liberation or Moksha, freedom from the cycle ofbirths and deaths and union with Para Brahma or Supreme Being.•> •
The aspirant should not run after Siddhis as he will get a downfall. • He may'misuse the powers. He should ignore • them as they are obstacles in the spiritual path, and teach the goaL directly. •
rules for the worship of para-sakti
spiritual students who have become Jivanmuktas—who have entered the portals of Immortality, but still subsist in their bodily state as mortal men. Pasyanti is that form of this inchoate Mantric sound perceived by Yogis only in the parts around the naval in the human body. When the same Matric sound is heard in the heart, it is called Madhyama. The fourth or final stage of the Mantric sound becomes audible as it enters the neck and comes out ofthe throat and lips. Then it is called Vaikhari. It is now in its gross form and can be heard by others too, besides the producer of the sound. If the Mantra is uttered in its superfine state in the Para and Pasyanti stages, Mantric worship is said to be ofthe superfine type. If it is uttered in its Madhyama form the worship is said to be of the fine type ; and in its audible form, the worship is said to be ofthe gross form.
A person who is fit to do mental worship, should abandon external worship, and should not waste his time and energies in performing the latter.
The internal worship of Devi too, is further classified into two forms :—one located or fixed in some part of the internal constitution ; and another not so fixed or located. The latter is the superior mode of worship.
The localised internal worship of Sakti may be in any one of the centres, from Muladhara to Ajna and the unrealised internal worship is established purely in one's consciousness, in the Samvit part ofthe human system. In the former the Sadhaka worships Devi or the Divine Mother in a special form indicated by the Matrika Mantra or seed-letters while in the latter, he loses himself in the conception of the Devi and becomes one with Her. The worship should be performed with intense devotion and in consonance with the instructions of the preceptor.
" Samvit " means Para-Sakti, and in fact not anything else. Therefore, Oh Great Munis of Naimisha, Para-Sakti should be always worshipped. (In this case Puja or worship really means Atmic Bliss of self-identity with Para-Sakti.)
Whatever appears different from pure consciousness is considered to be ' Samsara ' in which souls are entangled.
RULES FOR THE WORSHIP OF PARA-SAKTI
I shall tell you the rules for the worship of Para-Sakti.. which will give you both wisdom and salvation. Hear with attention.
The worship of Para-Sakti is said to be of two kinds : external worship and mental worship. Of these, again, external worship is further sub-divided into Vaidika and Tantrika worship. The former is meant for the followers of the Vedas and the latter for the Tantrikas.
In this way the worship for all the Devatas is formally prescribed. Those who do not follow the prescribed ways ofDevata-worship, will rush to ruin.
For Sakti Puja the same procedure is adopted, in many respects, as in the case of Sivalinga worship. Here also we have Asana (seating ofthe Deity), invocation, Arghya, Padya, Achamana, bathing, dressing, ornamentation, offering scents, flowers, illumination, offering sweets, fruits and other articles of food, drinks, garlands, sandal-pastes, prostrations, etc. Here also the deity is invoked and revoked after the Puja in one's heart. Of the Mantras in worship, the Matrika Mantra which is the mother of all Mantras should be pronounced. Without the Matrika the Mantras do not exist.
And, the Matrika Mantra uttered by the worshipper, is ofthree kinds. It varies according to the degree ofspiritual evolution of the worshipper, and is divided into gross, fine and superfine. And this Matrika Mantra should be learnt from a Satguru, after initiation. It can never be learnt merely from Sastras or scriptures.
Every Mantra has four important places in the human •constitution—Para, Pasyanthi, Madhyama and Vaikari. Of these Para is the Matra in its extra-superfine sound-origin in the Muladhara centre of the human system. The form, of this inchoate sound is discernible only to advanced-
RULES FOR THE WORSHIP OF PARA-SAKTI
Therefore, in order to destroy the ignorance caused by Samsara, one must worship Para-Sakti as the universal Witness, the Soul of all things, and quite free from all kinds of attributes of form and name, other limiting conditions and qualities belonging to the universe.
The wise one should therefore first worship with great faith the blessed Para-Sakti of the nature of pure of unconditioned consciousness by the Matrika Mantra (' Hreem ') signifying that consciousness.
He must avoid all forms and details recommended in the earlier part of this discourse, must identify himself with the One Supreme Sublime perfect consciousness of Para-Sakti by constant meditation. Then he must destroy the duality too, as between him, the worshipper and Para-Sakti, the Divine Mother worshipped by him.
That kind of Puja of Para-Sakti wherein the Sadhaka by his own identification with the all-embracing divine consciousness, devoutly worships and perceives Maheswar by direct Self-experience will surely gain him the supreme end of life.
Thus the method of the Pooja of Para-Sakti as directed in the Veda has been told you by me. Therefore you all proceed forthwith to worship Her in the manner described with the greatest joy.
Divine worship is of three kinds : Siva-Pooja, Devi-Pooja, and the worship ofthe Bhaktas. Each of these three is subdivided into Vedic worship and Tantric worship. Vedic worship is divided into three types : the gross form, the subtle form and the Absolute form. That is to say external ..worship of God through images, mental worship of God,, and finally identification of oneself with God or Goddess.
Bhuta Suddhi is an important Tantrik rite. It means-purification of five elements of which the body is composed.
The Sadhaka dissolves the sinful body and makes a new Deva body. He infuses into the body the life ofthe Devi.
The Sadhaka imagines that Kundalini is aroused and. that one element is absorbed into the other and so on, until all are absorbed in Brahman.
Nyasa is a very important and powerful Tantrik rite. It is placing of the tips of the fingers of the right hand on various parts of the body, accompanied by Mantra.
The one Brahman is here invoked by different name in order to protect different parts of the body. Parabrahman is thought of as in the Sahasrara Padma in the head. The Supreme Lord is the object of meditation in the heart. Protector of the world, Vishnu is invoked to protect the throat, so that the aspirant may utter the Mantras of his Ishta Devata.
May the Supreme Brahman protect the head, May the Supreme Lord protect the heart, May Vishnu protect the throat, May the Lord protect the face, May the Lord protect my hands. May He protect my feet,
May He protect my body in all its parts always.
The Mantra is written on birch-bark and encased in a golden ball and worn round the neck, or on the right arm. The wearer gets protection and attains all kinds ofpowers.
Mudra is ritual of manual gestures. Mudra gives pleasure to the Devatas. There are 108 mudras. In welcoming (Avahana) the Devata an appropriate gesture is made. In making offering (Arghya) Matsya Mudra is made. The right hand is placed on the back of the left and the two thumbs are extended finlike on each side o' the hands. Similarly there are Mudras for the various act; done during the Puja.
the pancha tattwa
The Sadhaka thinks that he has got a Deva body. This is Bhuta Suddhi. Various Nyasas are performed. Mental worship is performed of the Devi who is thought of as being in red raiment seated on a red lotus. Her dark body is like rain-cloud. Her forehead is shining with the light of the crescent moon. Japa of Mantra is then done. Thereupon there is external worship.
Sexual intercourse by a man with a woman who is not lawful to him is a sin. The Vaidik Dharma is very strict on this point. It borbids not merely actual Maithuna but Ashtanga or eightfold Maithuna namely Smaranam (thinking upon it), Kirtanam (talking of it), Keli (play with women), Prekshanam (making eyes at women), Guhy a-bhashanam (talking in private with women), Sankalpa (wish or resolve for sexual union), Adhyavasaya (determination towards it), Kriyanishpatti (actual accomplishment ofthe sexual act).
A Tantrik can have copulation -with his wife. He calls his wife his Sakti. Wife is a house-Goddess, Griha Lakshmi or Graha-devata united to her husband by the sacramental Sanskara of marriage. She should not be regarded as an object of enjoyment. She is his partner in life (Ardhangani). The union of man and wife is a veritable sacred scriptural » rite.
THE PANCHA TATTWA
The Pancha Tattwa is essential for the worship of Sakti. The Pancha Tattwas are wine (Madya), meat (Mamsa), fish (Matsya), parched cereal (Mudra) and sexual union (Maithuna). As they all commence with the letter M, they are vulgarly called Pancha-ma-kara or five M's. The Pancha Tattwas stand for drinking, eating and propagation. The Pancha Tattwa, the five elements of worship destroy great sins, Maha-pataka-nasanam.
The Pancha Tattwas have not always their literal meaning. The meaning differs according as they refer to the Tamasic (Pasu), Rajasic (Vira) or Sattvic (Divya) Sadhanas respectively.
Wine may be wine ;oritmaybecocoanutwateroritmay mean God-intoxication or the intoxicating knowledge of Brahman or the Absolute. Wine is a symbol to denote the Supreme, eternal Bliss of Yoga knowledge, or knowledge of Atma (Atma Gnana).
The union of Siva and Sakti in the upper brain centre known as Sahasrara or thousand-petalled lotus is Maithuna.
Mamsa (meat) is the act by which the aspirant consecrates all his actions to the Lord.
Matsya (fish) is that Sattvic knowledge by which the Sadhaka sympathises with the pleasure and pain ofall beings.
Mudra is the act of abandoning all associations with evil which leads to bondage.
Wine is fire ; flesh is air ; fish is water ; cereal is arth ;. sexual union is ether.
Milk, ghee, honey are all substitutes for wine. Salt, ginger-, sesamum, white beans, garhc are substitutes for meat. White brinjal, red radish, masur (a kind of grain), and red sesamum are substitutes for fish. Paddy, rice, wheat and grain are Mudra. Offering of flowers with the hands
'•- 1 with a particular Mudra is Maithuna.
CHAPTER XII UPACHARA
The materials used or acts done in Puja are called Upa-chara. Theyare sixteen in number.
1. Asana (seating of the image).
2. Svagata (welcoming of the Devata).
3. Padya (water for washing the feet).
4. Arghya [offering — S amanya (general) and
Yantra takes the place of the image. It is an object of worship. It subdues lust, anger and other sufferings cfJiva. Hence it is called Yantra.
The Yantra is a diagram, drawn on paper. It is engraved on a metal also. A Yantra is appropriated to a specific Devata only. Various Yantras are peculiar to each Devata.11 They are of various designs according to the object of worship. Yantra is the body ofthe Devata.
All Yantras have a common edging called Bhupura. They have a quadrangular figure with four doors which encloses and separates the Yantra from the external world.
The Sadhaka first meditates upon the Devata or Deity and then arouses the Devata in himself. He then communicates the Divine presence thus aroused to the Yantra. When the Devi has been invoked into the Yantra by the appropriate Manna, the vital airs (Prana) of the Devata are infused therein by the Pranapratishtha ceremony. The Devata is thereby installed in the Yantra.
Vishesh (special)]. 5. Achamana (water for sipping and cleansing the
Madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk and
Snana (water for bath).
Naivedya (food) ; Tambulam (betel-nu
Vandana orNamak Kriya (prostration,
The worshippers sit in a circle (chakra) men and women alternately. The Sakti (Bhairavi) sits on the left of the Sadhak, Bhairava. The Lord of the Chakra, (Chakra-swamin or Chakreswar) sits with his Sakti in the centre.
_ All eat, drink and worshipping together. There is no distinction of caste.
There are various kinds of Chakras such as the Vira, Raja, Deva and Maha. Each Chakra bestows various fruits on the worshippers therein.
MAN ASIC POOJA
Manasic Pooja is more powerful than external Pooja with flowers, etc. Arjuna thought that Bhima was not doing any kind ofworship. He was proud of his external worship to Lord Siva. He offered J5e/-leaves. But Bhima offered to Lord Siva mentally the 5e/-leaves of all the Bel-trees of the whole world. He was doing Manasic Pooja of Lord Siva. The attendants of Lord Siva were not able to remove the Bel-leaves offered by Bhima from the head of Lord Siva. Arjuna once saw a large band of people carrying baskets of i?e/-leaves. He thought within himself that these leaves should be those offered by him to Lord Siva and questioned them thus, " Brothers, wherefrom do you carry these Bel-leaves ? " They replied, " О Arjuna, these leaves were offered to our Lord Siva by Bhima through his Manasic Pooja." Arjuna was struck with wonder. He came to know that Manasic Pooja was more powerful than the external worship and that Bhima was a better devotee than him. His pride was destroyed. He became very humble.
Manasic Pooja can be done by advanced students. Beginners should certainly do worship with flowers, sandal paste, incense etc. You wjll have more concentration when you do Manasic Pooja. Mentally enthrone the Devata in Singhasana set with diamonds, pearls, emeralds, etc. Offer Him a seat. Apply sandal paste to His forehead and body. Offer Arghyam, Maduparka and various sorts of flowers, clothes. Offer various kinds offruits, sweetmeats and Maha Naivedyam. Offer to the Lord the fruits ofthe, whole world. Do not be miserly even in Manasic Pooja. In Manasic Pooja one man offered only one stale plantain fruit and a handful of gram. A miserable miserly man ! Even in Manasic Pooja he could not be generous and liberal. In the end mentally repeat: — " Whatever action I do with the body, by speech, by. the mind, by the senses, by the intellect or by my own nature, I offer all of them to the Supreme Lord." This will purify your heart and remove the taint of expectation of reward.
BHAVA IN WORSHIP
Bhava is mental attitude. Spiritual mental attitude is divine Bhava. It is Bhava that counts much in meditation and worship.
There is delay in the vision of God because you do not have the Bhilini-bhav or the Bhav of Dhanna Bhagat. Bhilini offered only the fruits which she tasted before she offered them to Lord Rama. Lord Rama was very much pleased. Dhanna Bhagat of Punjab gave only a little cooked vegetable to the Lord. The Lord was highly delighted. God does not want golden temples and rich presents. He wants only your devoted heart. He is immensely pleased with a little flower, or fruit or a little water, if it is offered with intense devotion, faith and love.
You will have to cultivate the divine Bhav again and again through love, faith, devotion, Japa, prayer, meditation and service to the Lord. Cultivate the nine modes of devotion and you will be rich with divine Bhav.
There are four kinds of Bhav in worship. They are Brahma-bhav, dhyana-bhav, the bhav that is generated during Japa, singing hymns and prayer, and puja-bhav.
The realisation that everything is Brahman, " I am Brahman," that the individual soul and Supreme Soul are one, and that nothing but Brahman exists is Brahma-Bhav or the highest state. Sri Dattatreya, Sri Sankara, Sri Yagnavalkya had this Supreme Bhava. For such a realised sage there is neither worshipper nor worshipped, neither Yoga nor Puja, nor Dharana, Dhyana, Japa, Stava or Vrata.
Constant meditation by the Yoga-process upon the --Devata in the heart is the Dhyana Bhav. Japa, hymns and prayer is still lower. Puja Bhav is the lowest of all Bhavas. Puja Bhava is generated oht of the dualistic notions ofworshipper and worshipped, the servant and the Lord.
You cannot have the Brahma Bhav all at once. You will have to slowly ascend the ladder of Bhava—from Puja Bhava to Dhyana Bhava and from Dhyana Bhava to Brahma Bhava. The heart must be purified thoroughly through Japa, hymns, prayer and meditation.
Mantra Yoga is an exact science. Mananat trayate iti mantraha : by the Manan or constant thinking or recollection of which one is released from the round of births and deaths is Mantra.
Mantra is Divinity. Mantra and its presiding Devata are one. Mantra is divine power. The repetition of the Mantra removes the dirt of the mind such as lust, anger, greed, etc.
The rhythmical vibrations of its sounds regulates the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of the aspirant, and transforms him into divinity. Mantra Siddhi is the ability to make a Mantra efficaceous and to obtain its fruit.
When the Mantra Sakti is awakened by Sadhana, the presiding Devata appears ; when perfect Mantra Siddhi is attained, the Devata is revealed.
Sabdha or sound is the Guna of Akash or earth. It is not produced by Akasa, but manifests in it.
A Mantra is composed of certain letters arranged in definite sequence of sound of which the letters are the representative signs. Mantra must be intoned in the proper way according to Svara (rhythm) and Varna (sound). Sabdha is the manifestation of the Chit-Sakti itself.
Every Mantra has a Rishi who gave it to the world, a Matra, a Devata, the Bija or seed which gives it a special power, the Sakti and the Kilakam or pillar.
Constant repetition of the Mantra with faith, devotion arid purity augments the Sakti or power of the Sadhaka, purifies and awakens the Mantra Chaitanya latent in the Mantra and bestows Mantra Siddhi on the Sadhaka ; illumi-'nation, freedom, peace, eternal bliss and Immortality follow.
The Mantra is awakened from its sleep through the. Sadhana Sakti of the aspirant. The Mantra* is a mass of
radiant Tejas or energy. Mantra awakens Supernatural powers. Mantra produces harmony. It has the power of releasing the cosmic and the super-cosmic consciousness.
Japa of Mantra
Repeat the Mantra verbally for some time, in a whisper for some time, and mentally for some time. The mind wants variety. It gets disgusted with any monotonous practice. The mental repetition is very powerful. It is termed Mana-sika Japa. The verbal repetition, is called Vaikhari Japa. Repetition in a whisper or humming is termed Upamshu Japa. Even mechanical repetition of Japa without any Bhava has a great purifying effect on the heart or the mind. The feeling will come later on when the process of mental purification goes on.
The loud Japa shuts out all worldly sounds. There is no break of Japa here. This is one advantage in loud Japa. Manasika Japa is difficult for ordinary people, and break may come in the mind after a while. Whenever sleep tries to overpower you when doing Japa at night, take the Mala in your hand and roll the beads. This will put a check to sleep. This is another advantage in loud Japa. Repeat the Mantra loudly. Give up Manasika Japa at this time. The Mala will remind you of tin- stoppage of Japa. When sleep comes in, stand up and do the Japa.
Sandilya says in Sandilya Upanishad : " The Vaikhari Japa (loud pronunciation) gives the reward as stated in the Vedas, while the Upamshu Japa, whispering or humming, which connot be heard by anyone, gives a reward a thousand times more than the Vaikhari ; the Manasika Japa (mental Japa) gives a reward a crore times more than the Vaikhari Japa.
Do Japa in the throat or Kantha, for one year. This is verbal Japa or Vaikhari Japa in a loud tone. Do it in the heart or Hridaya for two years. This is mental or Manasika Japa. Do it in the Nabhi or navel for one year. This kind ofJapa is< associated with the breath.
When you advance in practice, every pore in the skin, every hair on the body, will repeat the Mantra forcibly.
The whole system will be charged with the powerful vibration of the Mantra. You will be ever in the Prema or Love of the Devata. You will experience muscular twitchings and will shed profuse tears of Ananda. You will be in an exalted Divine mood. You will get inspiration, revelation, ecstasy, insight, intuition and Parama-Ananda. You will compose inspiring poems. You will have various Siddhis, Divine Aishwarya, treasures of Heaven.
Repeat the Name constantly. This will lead quite easily to control ofmind. Do it with absolute Sraddha (faith). Do it with Antarika-Prema (love from the bottom of your heart) and Anuraga (intense affection). You must intensely feel for the long, painful separation from the Lord. Tears must flow profusely from your eyes. This is Viraha-Agni. When you repeat the Name remember that the Devata is dwelling in the chambers of your heart, in the Anahata Chakra, in the midst of a blazing light.