part of Hindu Religious practice among the common people consists
of ritualistic form of worship for God in the various forms of
Deities of Saguna Brahman, called Avathara. It follows prayers
offered to God in the devotional path as a worship to a Pratika
[picture], Prathima or Vigraha [statue], Yanthra [a geometric
drawing] or a Linga, following the rules and traditions established
in the Agamas and Sasthras.
Ãdhi Sankara, in addition to the Advaitha Philosophy
explaining that the Self as part of the Divine Nirguna Brahman,
established a school for prayers to the Saguna Brahman is His
six Forms called the Shanmatha Sthapanam. He established the rules
for the six types of prayers to God at home as 1. Ganesha, 2.
Kumara [Karthikeya], 3. Surya [Sun], 4. Siva, 5. Vishnu, 6. Sakthi.
main tenets of the practice is by prayers to "Ishta Devatha."
The methods of learning and doing the various types of prayers
to the Ishta Devatha are governed by the rules of "Doctrine
of Adhikara." By this doctrine, the religious teachings and
methods of worship that is taught varies from person to person,
according to the various schools they follow.
prayer rituals are usually taught and given specially to persons
following certain tradition as a form of initiation to that form
of worship practice. This is very much like specialty training
and certification in modern day professions. One is not authorized
to perform rituals of their choice unless trained and initiated
in the same by a properly qualified teacher [Guru]. Accordingly,
there are special rules and restrictions for pooja for Sri Siva,
Sri Sakthi and Sri Vishnu in their various forms.
a person who has received the religious teaching from a Sivacharya
Guru shall perform pooja for Sivalinga. Similarly, only a guru
who has understood the manthra of "Sri Viddhai" can
teach the pooja methods of Sri Chakram to his Devotees. In the
past, mostly men have been learning and performing these types
of poojas. Very few women took these types of ritualistic worship.
Most people performed prayers at home just by lighting a lamp
for a collection of pictures and images of various Avatharas of
God in their prayer room and recited some songs for prayer.