Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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This Diwali, Be With The Real Essence Of Puja

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Puja is the act of honoring the divine, and honor is a sign of divine love. In a Puja we emulate nature in the way that it provides us with material prosperity and peace. We adore the divine through worship like nature adores us.

Puja is that which is born from the fullness of your heart. During puja, flowers are offered. Flowers represent love. Through a variety of people and relationships, including mother, father, wife, spouse, kids, and friends, the Divine has reached out to you in love. To elevate you in divine love, which is also your own nature, the divine love manifests in your life in the form of the Master. We offer flowers in recognition of this blossoming of love in all facets of life.

Puja involves the use of all five senses and is carried out with great devotion. It is like a play, just as children do. We express to God, through puja that "Oh divine, whatever you provide to me, I give back to you symbolically." Puja represents gratitude and honor. Performing a yagna bestows multiple benefits. It brings yasha (good name), pragya (heightened consciousness), vidya (education), buddhi (knowledge), balam (strength), veeryam (valour), ayush (long life), aishwaryam (wealth), and a host of others.

With knowledge comes true happiness. As a sign of gratitude to Mother Divine for the protection and blessings we experienced in the past year, we worship Goddess Lakshmi. We pray to reestablish our relationship with the divine. Anyone who has a connection to the divine does not lack anything. Although it may seem dormant, divinity is present everywhere. Pooja (prayer) is the process to awaken it.

The Sri Suktam, from the Rig Veda, one of the oldest prayers known to mankind, is chanted by the Pandits on this auspicious day. Lord Ganapati is invoked to remove all the impediments. During the Kalash Pooja, all the celestial brings (Devi and Devta) invoked into a pot of water and prayed to, for blessing us all with a good mind, a good heart, a good intellect, and knowledge. This is done during the Kalasha pooja ritual.

There is Mahakali, (symbolizes power), Mahalaxmi, who represents material wealth, and Mahasaraswati (symbolizing wisdom) that we worship during this time of the year. There is so much more than what we can see; it is merely the tip of the iceberg. The subtle energy controls the various facets of life, and pooja is a way to connect with the subtle realm. How do we do that? Simply sit in deep meditation while listening to the mantras; this practice is known as Mantra Snanam in India and has recently gained popularity in the west as sound bathing. The vibrations produced through these ancient chants enliven the soul and our entire selves.

(Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a globally revered spiritual and humanitarian leader)

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