The What, Why and How of it
Why of Puja?
All of us have a very important and fundamental relationship whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we like it or not, and that relationship is with Iśvara, the Lord. In this relationship, one may be an agnostic, an atheist, a believer or a devotee, but related, one is.
Puja is one of the most beautiful ways to invoke the devotee in oneself and establish a relationship with Iśvara, the Lord. Puja is called Kāyikam karma, an action involving one’s limbs. It also includes speech and mental action in the form of chanting and thinking of the Lord.
How does Puja help?
In a physical form of worship, such as a puja, there is a greater field of expression of one’s devotion than is possible in purely oral or mental forms of worship. The body, mind and speech are all involved in a puja. The forms, colours, fragrances and sounds of the various items of worship arrest one’s mind and aid in evoking devotion in oneself.
Being a karma, an action it offers peace of mind and clarity.
Performing a puja offers much insight, a gladness of heart and a cheerfulness born of relating to the one who protects, nurtures you moment to moment.
Doing a puja also brings puṇya, credit for meritorious actions which help to neutralise the effects of pāpa (experienced as suffering) in one’s life.
Thousands of people across generations have experienced the power and impact of puja done with devotion, in their lives.
Thousands of people across generations expressed their fervent wishes and intentions to Iśvara which were largely fulfilled.
People do puja because puja works! You and your devotion make it work!
A puja is also performed in order to express one’s gratitude to Iśvara for all one has been given in one’s life. The very creation in which one is born is considered to be a gift of the Lord.
The body-mind-sense complex is made up of five basic elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth which also constitute the creation. Objects symbolising these very five elements are offered in a puja.
How of puja?
Whether the puja is performed at home or in a temple, the essential steps are the same.
The basic puja is called the pañcopacāra puja, in which one makes a fivefold offering. There is also a more elaborate puja called the śodaṣopcāra puja, a sixteen step puja.
While you can offer anything with devotion, it is important to learn the methods of doing the puja in the right manner with the necessary chants.
To learn about the materials required for a puja and the steps involved, you can enrol in a five hour online course with Rashmi Kaikini.
Details of the course:
Although the chanting of the puja is in Sanskrit, knowledge of Sanskrit is not a prerequisite to learn the puja. Doing puja can be easily picked up by anyone with proper guidance.
-An initial introduction to Sanskrit syllables and sounds would be done so as to get familiarised with the language.
-Classes would be online and would be scheduled as per convenience.
– The total number of classes will depend on the fluency of the students. A person who knows Sanskrit may take 5 classes.
-Each session would be of an hour.
-Sessions will be held once in a week.
-Days and timings of the class would be decided based on the convenience of the students and the teacher.
-PDF of the Puja Vidhanam would be provided in both Sanskrit with an English transliteration.
-Recordings of the chants done in a session would be provided post each session.
-The number of sessions required to complete learning puja would depend on the ability of the students.
-The charges would be INR 1000/- for 5 sessions (INR 200/- per session) for the students residing in India and USD 40 for 5 sessions (USD 8/- per session) for the students residing outside India. Please account for additional 4% charges that Paypal charges the receiver.
-Payment for 5 sessions would have to be done in advance. Sessions would begin only post the payment is received.
-Sessions would be held over Whatsapp video calling, which can be accessed on the computer or even on the mobile phone.
– It is preferred that those interested in learning the Puja Vidhanam follow a vegetarian diet (unless for medical reasons).
For more details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact on whatsapp no. +91 9869538090
Feedback about the course:
Daniel Roth, Germany
Rashmi guided me through the 5 week Puja Course. The instructions she explained to me consisted of preparatory steps and a traditional 16 step Puja. She competently and patiently cleared all my doubts. We spend a lot of time getting the pronunciation right. In the last two lessons she demonstrated to me the actual performance of the Puja and then I showed it to her. This way we made sure that I do all the steps correctly.
Rashmi explained to me that there are many different ways how to do a Puja and that she would show me the way it is performed in most Indian households, which is strongly oriented on the Karma Kanda, the ritualistic portion of the Veda.
Now I can do a daily Puja on my own. It brings a lot of grace. Sometimes when I come home from work, my apartment feels like a temple. I was looking for a long time for a way to learn the performance of an authentic Puja, since it is difficult to find a competent teacher in Germany where I live. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity and would recommend Rashmi to anyone who is interested in learning this ancient ritual.
Philip Gatt, Perth, Australia
Puja is something one does and anything one does voluntarily one has to learn. Just like riding a bike, playing tennis or a guitar. Most of us need a teacher – try tying your shoe laces, learning maths or Sanskrit or making dosas without a competent teacher…. You know the results! Puja is such a thing to be learnt. Puja is a way of beginning and cultivating a relationship. With what I hear you ask? You choose is my reply!
Wholeness in my understanding means fullness meaning that nothing – no thing stands apart. Therefore, what thing can be taken to represent this fullness?
That’s right ANYTHING! What kind of relationship are we cultivating with the wholeness (of which I am inseparable part? That’s right….
Rashmi is the most amazing teacher. Why? She is supremely competent – she does this everyday like millions of women in India and beyond. She is precise! Her pronunciation of English is impeccable! I should know I am from the UK and used to teach English as a Foriegn language.
She is patient! Some of the sounds in Sanskrit are just not made in English but have no fear – Rashmi has all the resources to help overcome this. Really it is asana for your tongue!
She is so kind and compassionate – making mistakes can trigger that inner voice of self non-acceptance and that sometimes came out in me. She always encouraged and praised and lovingly corrected.
She is available – I learnt on skype from my living room in Perth, Western Australia, whilst she was in hers in Mumbai India.
She’s quick – I only had 7 lessons (I think) and now I am flying solo so to speak.
So if there’s an interest in another aspect of Vedic culture beyond the usual offering and you wish to learn an ancient and paradoxically fresh practice I recommend learning Puja with Rashmi.
Archana Agarwal, Mumbai
Learning to perform the Pooja as per the scriptures was a long standing wish of mine. It was indeed my good fortune to learn this beautiful ceremony from Rashmi. She is a very patient teacher and teaches with complete dedication and reverence. Her style of explaining is very simple and easy to understand. She took me through all the 16 steps explaining in detail the significance of every offering, every chant and action performed during the Pooja. She puts extra effort to make sure every pronunciation is perfect. After I learnt the chanting She demonstrated the Pooja herself , a week later she asked me to perform the Pooja and guided me when I made any mistakes very gently and lovingly. It has been a very beautiful learning experience to perform the Pooja. It has brought peace and contentment in my life.
Varsha Shankar, Bengaluru, India
Even though I grew up in a house where my grandfather would do puja twice a day, his emotion and the action were somehow not accessible to me. I remained an outsider to the process. As I grew older, this stiffness continued. After having learnt puja now from Rashmi, I feel I have found an effective way to connect with Ishvara. Rashmi’s kind, step by step, detailed approach made all the aspects very clear. No question or doubt was too silly – she patiently went over all my queries. Recently when I participated in a puja with elders at home, I found that it had a renewed meaning for me. Thank you Rashmi for your guidance, support and care. I know that what I have learnt from you will be invaluable as my sense of connection with Ishvara grows.
Sangeetha and Balaji, London, UK
My husband and I attended the Daily Prayers online course run by Rashmiji. We found her to be very patient and understanding and took us through each prayer and the correct pronunciation. The WhatsApp sessions, the practice audio files and ensuring practice of each of the steps correct, were very useful. We would highly recommend this course to everyone to get the basics of daily prayers right. Since completion of the course, we have managed regular daily prayers and the energy of the house has changed.
Jyoti Kudalkar, Mumbai, India
First of all let me thank you for sharing your knowledge and your patience.
It was a wonderful learning experience and the entire course was extremely systematic.
1) Basics of “Barakhadi” was completely forgotten. Thanks for getting it revised through practice.
2) Concept of pooja is very well explained in the handout. I can refer to it again and again
3) Pronunciation and essence of every shlokas was explained in the best manner that I’ve ever experienced.
4) Visual description of pooja performed by Rashmi and the practice given to me helped in overall thorough understanding of the vidhis.
5) Both 5 steps and 16 steps are useful for day to day and special poojas.
I think it’s nothing but Gurukrupa that has lead to this learning. I look forward to more insights on Vendanta