What is bhakti? Love? Sacrifice? Or something esotericthat is beyond description?

In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna reveals his love for Arjuna thanks to latter’s bhakti for the Lord.  Bhakti is love or devotion to the lord. But it must be unselfish love as a means of ‘devotional service.’ This is what Saranagati is all about. Either you surrender completely or you do not.

No wonder the best example for “Love for God” was personified byMirabai who when given a cup of poisonby her husband Rana drank it as nectar. The miracle worked thanks to Mira’s bhakti to Lord Krishna who turned into “prasad.” Mira had no desire for the throne, power or pelf. Her desire was solely to merge with super soul and bhakti became the easiest and the only medium.

Like Mira there were innumerable saints whose love and bhakti to the Supreme Lordis unparalleled. True bhakti seeks no reward or awards except merging with Him, the Almighty. It is the overwhelming love of individual soul that takes hold of the consciousness.Life then is in tune with God. In Gita Lord himself explains it:

Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekamsharaṇaṁ vraja

Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyami mashuchaḥ (Gita 18:66)

(Abandon all types of dharmas and simply surrender unto Me. I shall liberate you from all sinful reactions; do not fear). Indeed,true bhakti is total surrender.

God realisation is not possible with worldly attachment to material wealth. ‘I’ and ‘Mine’hamper the spiritual aspirant seeking ultimate truthacting as a veil. It is like seeing the Sun with dust in the eyes.

Sum and substance of life as we experience is in understanding that nothing exists without the Lord’s grace and bhakti personifies that axiomatic truth. Gopis longing for union with the Lordwere successful through sheer love for god and it worked wonders while many rishis could not attain godhood even if they had excelled in their severity of their penance. True bhakti overrides worldly considerations and that is when a soul rises beyond the ambit of karma bondage to merge with Paramatma.

Unfortunately, we humans misplace our love on material objects.Physical love overrides bhakti.  It is so hollow that it turns into mere carnal love which is selfish and leads nowhere. This is what happened to Saint Tulsidas when he misjudged his love for his wife Ratnawali. Deeply attached to her he felt he could not live without her even for a minute.

Once Ratnawali was away to her mother’s house without letting Tulsidas know. When he came back home finding her missingimmediately rushed out at nighteven though it was raining to his in-laws house. Ratnawali was shocked to see her husbandat the unearthly hour driven by mad attachment to her body. She rebuked him saying:

“If you had shown even half the love you have for my body to Lord Rama you would have achieved divinity and redemption (free from cycle of life and death).”

These words found their mark and disturbed Tulsidas greatly. Without a second thought he walked out of the houseto the holy city of Prayag where he became a sadhu. His love for Lord Rama became one of tidal proportion leading him to write Ramcharitramanas, a magnum opus.


Tulsidas is an apt example of pure bhakti. As a selfish man his love was limited to his wife and the moment devotion and bhakti lying buried in him was kindled all his love for his wife turned into bhakti for the lord. It was this divine ecstasy which led him to be in communion with the Lord.


Yajna is a Vedic ritual that tends to create a relationship with Cosmic forces of which the earth and the individual are integrally connected. As Rigveda starts with a hymn to Lord Agni the yajna basically symbolises the whole cosmic process that comprises light and heat, or Creation itself.

IndeedYajna is a creative activity as the law that governs the cosmic operation is called Rita, or the central propelling forcethat brings cosmic and social order. Devatas (divine forces) adhering to Rita participate in the cosmic sacrifice as mentioned in Vedic hymns. The Yajurveda conceives the divine forces as active agents in the cosmic functioning akin to sacrificial rites performed by humans. Yajnika or Vedic rituals are described in the hymns of the Rigveda and other Samhitas (collection of verses) of gods participating in yajna.

Yajna can be said as fusion of the individual soul to the collective whole or the Universe which comprises divine cosmic forces beyond the ken of understanding of we humans. It is the link between the macrocosm to the microcosm symbolising every aspect of life. Even a tree is symbolic of life and can be said to be part of Yajna.

Vedic hymns are wonderful poetry with a limitless and timeless appeal in its scope and meaning. It has the underlying truths regarding the inner nature of the universe as well as human life as exemplified by various components of the rituals.

Vedic hymns relate to as much to the cosmological as to the individual who is integral to a society and what a state is all about. On macrocosmic level moon, sun, wind, fire, sky, space, earth, stars are all part of the ritual process as cosmic energyemanate from it.

Oblation to Fire is Agnihotra. Interestingly all the divine forces are within man himself. Fire in stomach to digest food,wind the vital breathwhich transforms as speech, Sun in the eye, Moon in the mind, the directions in the ears, water in the semen and so on. Oblation to fire in broader sense includes every element of the cosmos which are holistically related. The ritual of the oblation to fire is only a replica of the oblation to fire constantly seen in the cosmos at various levels. Kathaka Samhita (6:7) says: The creation is verily the oblation to fire. On the microcosmic level the vital energy is oblation to fire.

Our body temperature has to be steady or we turn cold and will be declared dead. We therefore invoke fire at every moment of our life. Fire is the physical and mental energy. It is what constitutes the human persona or the “Will.” This energy as manifest is seen in the entire cosmos. Rituals may be symbolic,but they have to be understood beyond their symbolic meanings.

Yajna or Sacrifice is derived from the root Yajor divine worship. The sacrifice is symbolic,yet the different rituals have eternal value with its universal appeal even among gods.

O Fire, you are called upon to come to this peaceful ritual for illuminating everything. Come with the stormy forces. (Rigveda, 1.19.1)This is the universal truth when different forces in Cosmos combine to create life as we know.In the end cosmic energy merges into the Supreme Soul. Similarly, at the microcosmic level Vedicsacrifice symbolises merger of the individual self with the Supreme Soul.Rituals have deeper significance.


Are Vedas important in this modern world or the scientific world we live in? The question may sound silly or irrelevant. But, it is not. What we call knowledge today are in fact originated from Vedas that helped in the evolution of Man. Veda in Sanskrit means knowledge and constitute largest body of knowledge ever known to mankind.

Vedas embody the entire range of knowledge spanning the sacred and the secular. It represents eternal truths and thoughts. Truths have no origin as they are eternal having existed since time immemorial. However, thanks to our rishis of yore who sensed these truths we today can lay claim to this priceless heritage. And again thanks to our rishis truth was interpreted and given to mankind.

Vedas in fact are primordial as they are associated withsound. Verily it is the Omkara or Pranava that echoes in all the corners of Universe. Hence Vedic recitations are sensitive to vibrations and when uttered properly bring desired results. Veda mantras can beefficacious only when spiritual discipline and proper intonation are meticulously followed.

Vedic rituals have immense significance when offerings are made to the celestial beings like Indira and Agni. In fact,Lord Agni or fire had been venerated as a symbol of spirit throughout Man’s history and the very first sloka in the Rig Veda (oldest of all Vedas) is on Agni:

Om Agnim-IillePurohitamYajnyasyaDevam-RtvijamHotaaramRatna-Dhaatamam(I offer my humble prayer to Agni, who is the Absolute Divine, the awakener of the inner energy and the giver of prosperity).

Vedas not only gave worldly knowledge it also helped the rishis onto the path of Self Realisation or Liberation.


Mantras have scientific basis as they create positive vibrations and dispel negative ones.

In daily life we face so many irritations and either we are angry at someone or someone is angry at us. This creates negative vibrations affecting our health and mind leading to physiological and psychological reactions and offshoot of these can be BP, diabetes etc. If carelessly handled these issues turn chronic.

When one recites mantra or hears it recited, namely the chanting part of it, it generates lot of positive energy all around that has soothing effect even on the surroundings since people and other life matter live all around us.

Mantras cannot be taken for granted. It needs to be handled properly as what counts most is the intonation. Every syllable must be properly intoned. If that is done properly then the mantra becomes a kavach or an armour to ward offharmful effects of negative vibrations thereby protecting our health in turn leading to improved productivity.

If fact we keep sending out vibes both good and bad which permeate the surrounding. As per a theory called “the law of attraction,” a philosophical movement dating back to 1901,the energy we put into the universe will dictate the world around us.You cannot expect others to be happy at you if you tend to be unhappy and makes others unhappy too. If we think positively we send out positive vibes out into the universe which makes life better. This is the basic concept of mantra. Conscious effort must be made to bring out positive aspect. If not,negative vibes take over making people around us seem repulsive. Mantras indeed neutralise negative, repulsive vibrations thereby generating positive ones that attracts others to us. This is the advantage of mantra chanting and we need trained Vedic experts and when done on large scale lighting the sacrificial fire or yajna brings about far-reaching benefits as it clears the air.

Even simple act of chanting simple mantras like ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, ’Om Namo Narayana’, ‘Sri Rama Jai Rama Jai Rama’ with proper intonation can bring internal peace. Many have found it efficacious when faced with danger.

Every human being has the right to chant mantras provided he gets proper guidance. Mantras are a way of being one with nature. It means channelizing energy. Which leads to physical health benefits by improving immunity of the body as chanting certain mantras generate vibration which in turn stimulates hypothalamusgland responsible for secreting hormones that enhances immunity.

Mantras have many benefits. Like the turbulent sea calming down mantras too quickly calm the mind. A calm mind fights diseases and depression better. Healthy body means healthy heart which leads to concentration and learning. There are instances when regular chanting of mantras helped cure asthma to a large extent.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, believes in boosting his brainpower by reciting mantras which he learns through online course. Mantras are Sanskrit verses and Sanskrit is the language of gods. Let the bounty of Vedas bring peace and happiness to the world.

GrihaPravesh Puja

Lord Ganesha in Hindu dharma has a unique place in the pantheon of Gods. He is the protector of mankind and no wonder Griha Pravesh Puja (or Vaastu puja) is performed invoking His blessings. Besides being a protector, he bestows good fortune and riches. Griha Pravesh Puja involves certain rituals like lighting the sacrificial fire (homam); breaking coconut, sprinkling holy water with mango leaves in all corners of the building and boiling milk to overflow as a sign of prosperity.

A specific date must be decided for Griha Pravesh Puja.

Hindus before entering a new home thank the almighty and their ancestors for helping to build a house or buy one. Invoke blessings of gods and ancestors is an important ritual before starting new life in new surrounding and the Griha Pravesh Puja becomes an important ritual to keep away evil eye, spirits or negative energies.

Like the wedding ceremony graha pravesh puja has lot of significance. No doubt a house is a precious possession for an individual. Invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha is the first step and a sacred step. The puja requires several items and each of one has a special significance. A homam or sacrificial fire lit and the mantras chanted purify the surrounding. Coconuts are broken and holy water is sprinkled around the house in all corners. Conch shells are blown and camphor lamps lit to ward off evil spirits and purify the environment within and outside the house. There is the possibility that in time gone by someone was murdered or buried below. This puja wards off evil spirits.

Ancient scriptures insist on Griha Pravesh Puja. If ignored bad luck could befall and harm the inmates. Once the puja is completed the family should reside there for at least 3 days and keep the house well-lit with a wick lamp lighted with sesame oil to ensure evil vibration does not exist.

Graha Pravesh puja comprises Vaastu Shanti and Vaastu puja which all mean the same as the exercise is of harmonizing the environment. Homam is the most important aspect of it which is prayer to Fire God though all the remaining four elements of nature too are included. Sky, air, water, and earth. Each element needs to be balanced to produce a conducive environment.

Graha Pravesh ceremony is always followed by grand feast for family, friends, and relatives. Special guests too sometimes make their appearance.

Bhoomi Puja

Bhoomi or Earth is considered Mother of all. Without her support none can dare to exist, even be it microscopic life. We live and grow thanks to her gravitation support that keeps us moored while she carries us on her back without a murmur. Imagine Mother Earth getting a bit angry and wobbles left or right for a few minutes. Won’t we be thrown off her back into the space and fall to death?

Naturally when we raise a building there is digging of the earth to lay the foundation or when farmers begin tilling the land for the first time. We ought to feel a sense of indebtedness which expressed as gratitude in the form of seeking her blessings and forgiveness for disturbing her equilibrium.

Vaastu Shastra, the science of architecture and construction, makes it obligatory to perform Bhoomi or Vaastu puja in the form of chanting Vedic mantras to neutralize bad effects arising out of tampering earth’s equilibrium and in a metaphorical sense we could be asking Mother Earth to refrain from being angry.

Bhoomi Puja is done at auspicious time and preferably in the morning and at Northeast of the plot. There are dos and don’ts and this puja should be avoided if the woman of the household is menstruating or in advanced stage of pregnancy.

First part of bhoomi puja is shilanyas or the foundation-laying ceremony.  It is done before digging the earth and in days gone by man not modern enough he would start the construction by digging a well and perform the first puja. Then foundation-laying would follow with stone laid in Southwest corner. The groundbreaking ceremony would be done mostly during Uttarayan from June 21 through December 20 but today on the advice of the pandits timings or the day varies. Uttarayan was preferred earlier because days were longer with more daylight available for construction activity to move at rapid pace.

Today modern living and computers have changed our lives dramatically.  Once Vaastu puja meant digging of well and foundation stone laying ceremony or Shilanyas.

Today wells are out of vogue. The present generation might have barely seen a well. Even not all villages need a well today as there is water connectivity from panchayats. Mostly the puja we see today are the stone-laying ceremony that goes with the Vedic chanting of mantras. If it is a newly built flat it is the Graha Pravesh puja that is performed seeking protection of Lord Ganesha for peace and prosperity. This puja is also an important ritual to keep evil spirits or negative energies away.


Chanting refers to chanting of mantras. Mantras bring out positive energy within. But chanting for chanting’s sake has no meaning. Tradition has it that mantra’s efficacy depends on proper pronunciation—vowel uttered like vowels. Mantras in Sanskrit means “completely formed; hallowed.” Each letter of Sanskrit alphabet is a bija, or seed mantra.

Mantras are Vedic in origin. Vedic chants or hymns of seers or rishis reflect the Cosmic Mind. Vedas are eternal and every mantra in the Vedas, Upanishads and various religious traditions begin with Om – the primordial sound, the sound heard for the first time when cosmos created.

While chanting a mantra care has to be taken for its proper pronunciationor else desired result will be missing harming the aspirant both physically and mentally. Mantras require utmostdevotion, faith and constant repetition.

Take the simple yet powerful Omand chanting it is said to harmonizephysical, emotional and intellectual forcesof the Universe giving a feeling of mentaland physical bliss. But the aspirant has to struggle to perfect this art of chanting even though it looks simple. Lot of patience and unfailing faithis required to get full results.

Hindu faith is linked to recitation of mantras. Faith and strong will can achieve one’s spiritual goals through mantras.Mantra basically is sound and reverberations of energy creating different levels of vibrations. Each vibration leads to a particular sound. Mantra therefore is a complex amalgamation of sounds and if used correctly brings a new experience of life within.

When sounds differ, it gives rise to different mantras. Every mantra activates a unique kind of energy in a particular part of the body. To understand this complex phenomenon awareness is needed and not mere repetition by rote that can lead to discouragement and a feeling of misery.Mantras have efficacy only when attempted with proper awareness of what it really is. For instance,Gayatri mantra is a well-known mantra which bestows splendid health, beauty, strength, vigour, vitality and magnetic aura in the face (Brahmic effulgence). Yet people have suffered damage to themselves by improperly reciting it.

What is Puja?

Any spiritual person with a set of organised beliefs will prayto God or the Almighty. If Hindus call it puja, Christians prayers, Muslims namaz.

Hindu form of worship is based on rites and rituals that occur throughout the year. Though different individuals based on their sect or caste may perform rituals differently all of them do agree in one God.

“Puja” comes from Sanskrit root, ‘P’, for ‘paap’ or sin, and ‘J’, for ‘janma’ or birth.  It also means reverence, homage, and worship. Hindu worship usually involves visiting temples. But most basic religious rites and rituals occur at home. Rituals vary in the day or evening. Sandhyavandanam is one such ritual where praying to Sun God is three times a day – sunrise, noon and sun setwhen last prayers are offered.

Usually in orthodox family’s women wake up before dawn, take bath and using rice flour put Rangoli at the doorstep for good luck and divine grace for the family. Thesedaily rituals end in prayers for both men and women. Prayers cannot be in abstract form and therefore when God(s) is worshipped the idol(s)have to be installed accordingly, called prathista. Puja is a ritual involving lighting of lamps, taking aarti with camphor, offering prasadam, reciting prayers and singing bhajans.

In South traditional Hindus priest at dawn recite Veda mantras at temples while for the householder it is the Gayatri Mantra offered as prayers thrice daily to the Sun – dawn, noon and dusk as mentioned earlier. In rural areas usually going to temples is more important where singing community bhajans or satsang is a ritual. Prayers does not mean interaction with God. It can also be to pitrus or deceased ancestors and is called tarpanam done every new moon day (Amavasya) and once a year as shraddh. It is anelaborate affair with homam (lighting the sacred fire) offering water and pindam(rice balls) to ancestors who supposedly bless and protect the householder and his family.

There can no prayer without devotion. Bhakti is fundamental to prayer and is basic tenet of Hinduism. Whichever God a Hindu chooses to worship it becomes his ishta devata (beloved God). Of course, there is no bar worshipping other gods and a Hindu is a polytheistby nature as he believes in more than one deity.

Puja for a layman is ritual offerings to god accompanied with prayers. It has puja vidhi (dos and don’ts according to one’s religion itself). Though a prayer is worship of a deity it can also mean disciplining the five physical senses that wanderaway from spiritual pursuit.

When prayers assume importance, priest come to help. Elaborate ceremonies like marriage or sacred thread ceremony need competent prieststo carry out the detailed procedures. The priests are treated at par with God and given offerings and gifts at the end of the ritual. Those attending the rituals are offered food.

Apart from daily pujas there are innumerable other pujas meant for different occasions viz.,a lady in seventh months of pregnancy, birth of a baby, thread ceremony, marriage, death, funeral and finally, the 13th day after death, a final farewell to the deceased. Later come the annual ritual of shraddh performed for peace and happiness of the departed soul.

Puja is a universal religious medium for all and an option of prayer for everyone.

Navagraha puja

Since ancient times Navagraha Puja has been a Vedic ritual for bestowing health, wealth, education, domestic peace and prosperity. Worshipping the nine planets viz.,Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketuis a form of collective worship of the nine planets as per Vedic tenets.

These nine planets have lot to bearon what one achieves or fails to achieve and the fruits arising thereof from karmic activities. Natal chart of a person can show how these nine planets are disposed of. Indeed,planets being part of the solar systemaffect our lives. Though this sounds like a metaphysical argument, there is also the scientific reason with about planets influencing uswith their gravity and electromagnetismwhich can impact over long distances.

Every human life is therefore influenced and certain good or bad happenings result and affect various aspects of life such as love, marriage, career, finance, health. When planets work negatively in the horoscope they combine to form good &bad yogas. Bad yogas are ‘doshas’. Collectively they are called “Navagraha doshas.”

Planets leave their tell-tale effects and yet malefic doshas can be minimized by Navagraha Puja as it generates tremendous positive energy. All that is required is puja be done with devotion and sincerity of purpose adhering to rituals as specified. This brings peace and success in life.

Navagraha Puja has to be done on a special day (muhurat) taking the horoscope of the nativeinto account. In Navagraha homam mantras are chanted for all the nine planets for Graha Shanti(propitiation of planets) thereby bringing happiness, prosperity, winning over enemies, wealth and many more such benefits.

Benefits of Navagraha puja

  1. Subduing negative impact of planets
  2. Improving personal and professional life
  3. Protection from mental tension &physical ailments
  4. Avoiding sudden misfortunes
  5. Improving business prospects
  6. Promotionsand career prospects
  7. Attaining salvation