religions teach that prayers rituals are very important to get
devotion to God. The religions or lands may vary but this belief
of importance of prayers is stressed in all faiths. Our ancestors
have given us the gift of the rules of community worship in a
Temple for the welfare of the people of the community as a whole
and the prosperity of the world. They have given us the rules
of prayers at home as essential for the welfare of the individuals
and their family. The basic and essential principle behind the
prayer is the total surrender to God who fills the universe by
His glory and is present everywhere and that without His command
even an atom will not move.
rules of prayer services in a Hindu Temple are given in the three
Agamas and Upa-agamas. There are 28 Siva Agamas and several upa-agamas.
Vaishnava Agamas are 5, including Pancharathram and Vaikanasam
and have 108 Paththadhis. We do not need to study these Agamas
to perform prayer [Pooja] at home. It is enough to accept the
fact in a pure heart and mind, as given to us by our ancestors
that God is present everywhere in every form and He will accept
every kind of our prayers. Our Puranas explain in many stories
that God accepts and blesses everyone who prays not only humans
but also animals and birds.
an example, there is a story in Mahabharatha. Arjuna was performing
regularly pooja for Athma lingam, but his brother were not doing
the same. He felt very proud of his devotional worship to God.
As Sri Krishna wanted to control his ego, took him to Mount Kailash,
the abode of Shiva. The Arjuna saw large number of baskets of
flowers being carried by the Boothaganas. When Arjuna asked Sri
Krishna about it, He asked Arjuna to check himself with those
carrying the flowers. He stopped one of them asked about it. He
got the reply that one of the Pancha Pandavas named Bheema who
has been offering these flowers in a pure heart to the lord which
they are carrying.
asked Sri Krishna that if the pure heart flowers of Bheema who
does not ever sit down to worship is this much, how much will
it be for his own Athmalinga pooja which is performed every day.
Sri Krishna asked the Bhoothagana to show Arjuna his portion of
the flowers offered. They showed a small mound of flowers lying
in one corner. Arjuna asked Sri Krishna to explain this disparity.
Sri Krishna explained that, Bheema is thinking of God at all times
and whenever he sees a flower garden, he mentally offers all the
flowers to Siva as his offering and so it reaches Siva the very
next moment. Thus, Sri Krishna explains the Inner self pooja called
is not necessary to learn all the rules and sasthras of an eloborate
pooja before performing one. As an example, an illiterate hunter,
Sri Kannappa Nayanar saw the Divine after three days of prayer.
A young boy Nambiyandar Nambi, while his priest father had gone
out of town performed pooja in his place at the Temple and had
the Darsan of God on the same day. By understanding these puranas,
we should always allot few minutes of time to perform pooja without
any fear that God may punish us if we do the pooja improperly.
it is always good to learn proper methods to perform the pooja,
even a simple and short one, just like any science or art. Puranas
say that in Kali Yuga, Prabaththi path is the important way. In
Samskrit, prabaththi is explained as Pooja. We have puranas which
explain how an elephant prayer "Aathimoolam" -- with
a flower was saved and the hunter who was saved from a tiger on
Sivarathri day by reaching a Bilva tree. These tell us that pooja
and prayer to God is essential.
pooja everyday at least for a few minutes leads one to develop
inner purity and peace. One can perform this pooja in a short
way or in an elaborate way. This is called "Anmaartha Pooja"
in the Vedas. One method is to get religious order [Samayadheeksha]
from a learned Guru to perform pooja for Sivalinga or Salagrama
elaborately according to Sasthras. Another simpler method is to
perform pooja for a Moorthy as a picture or to a Deepa as lamp.
Both the above method are of equal value.