The goal of Devi Mandir is to teach people how to attain peace for themselves. The methods taught are Hindu rituals that purify our minds and bodies, inspire us toward awareness and ultimately bring us to conscious realization. Devi Mandir is a family of householders as well as individual renunciates. Shree Maa and Swamiji, […]
You will find answers about relationships, living in the world, the guru-disciple relationship, as well as answers regarding specific practices, scriptures, mantras, and deities.
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In the video “Om Namah Shivaya”, I noticed that Maa uses the thumb and index fingers to move the mala. I have heard that index fingers are not to touch the mala. Can Swamiji please comment.
That is the method that Shree Maa uses to worship Shiva. But the important thing is not which finger you use, but that you do the japa. So many people waste so much time debating which finger to use, that they do not perform the practices.
Could Rudraksha beads be used for Narasimha mantras, and Ganesha/Lakshmi mantras?
Yes. More traditional would be a tulasi mala, but followers of Shiva and Shakti can definitely use rudraksha.
Is it forbidden to eat meat when using Rudraksha?
Is the question, “At the same time,” or “While wearing?”
Generally, there are vegetarians and non-vegetarians. There is nothing “Forbidden.” It is just a question of the practices one observes.
Vaishnavas forbid. Shaivites and Shaktis request us to use our discrimination.
I would like to know what we can do at home for Navaratri, especially if there are offerings we can make to Shree Maa.
The following link gives the special offerings to the Goddess –
http://shreemaa.org/drupal/node/300 . You can offer all that you do to Shree Maa. Especially the food that you cook with mantra, offer with mantra. The other functions you perform can be accompanied by mantra. Picture her image in your mind, and conceive that you are doing for her.
Does the link http://shreemaa.org/drupal/node/300 mean that we make 3 offerings – one for the month, one of the lunar day and one for the day of the week ?
Yes, this does mean 3 separate offerings.
I’m about halfway through performing the 16-week Santoshi Mata fast,and now am starting to get a little worried about how I will be able to get the udyapan performed to conclude the fast. I am supposed to feed eight boys with kheer and gram curry and be sure that none of them eats any sour food for the entire day.
I don’t personally have any boys to invite/feed, and have no one among my family or friends who would understand or partake of this kind of thing. Does Swamiji have any suggestion on how to perform this udyapan? Is it possible to have this done at a temple in the US or India, or is there an alternative ceremony that I could do that doesn’t involve feeding Brahmin boys (since I don’t know any)?
Yes, you can perform this udyapan at a local temple. Call the priest and ask how he or she can help you organize the puja and what would be appropriate in their tradition.
If you choose, we could help organize the puja here.
I have a question about Santoshi Maa. Im confused as to whether she is a Devi conceived by the popular bollywood movie of the same title, or if there are historical references to Santoshi Maa before the movie. From what I had read, I had understood that the former was the correct assertion.
Santoshi Maa was a Goddess long before there were movies. The movie is a depiction of some of the main stories of her katha.
I was watching a program on Santoshi Maa and it was mentioned if one kept a fast for 8 continuous Saturdays, Santoshi Maa has never failed to give her devotees the desires of her heart. Could you please give me more information.
That is written in Her Katha, the story of Santoshi Maa. However, I don’t think that it would be enforceable in a court of law. The devotee requires the right motivation, the right concentration, the right planning and execution. But it is written.
When is Navaratri celebrated ? Could you please let me know if there are six Navaratris and are they Varsha, Sharad, Shishir, Hemant, Vasant, Grishma?
Navaratri can be celebrated at any time. Most often it is observed from Pratipad to Navami or from Shashti to Purnima or Amavashya. There are four Navaratris which are special: Magh, Chaitra, Ashadh, and Ashvin. These correspond to winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Can you please suggest any guidelines for people wishing to observe the Navaratri fast in the same way that you do. (24 hours X 9 days. No water, no food)
Start off small and be content with small steps. Observe 24 hours with only water, then drink. Actually you will probably want salt more than water. Then try three days. And eat only fruits and water one time a day for the remainder of the nine days. Slowly you will extend it.
It is my understanding that no grains, or salty food is to be eaten during Navaratri. It is a symbolic giving up for the goddess. Are fruit and vegetables ok? To fast completely is for a greater tapas, and austerity. Is this correct?
The fasting gives forth a number of benefits. We suggest that everyone observe the vow according to their own capacity: the needs of the body, the activities in which the body must engage during the vow, etc. Some will give up grains and pulses, some will only take fruit and dairy, some will only take water: each according to his or her own capacity.
How do we count Navratri? Sundown to Sundown? Sunrise to Sunrise? Or Sunrise to Sundown?
We use a Panchanga, an almanac timed according to the phases of the moon.
Does one fast for 9 days during Navraatri without food, only water?
Some will fast on only water.
I would like to know is it possible to do homa of 108 names of Durga Ma from the Chandi Path for Navaratri?
How do you observe Navaratri at the Mandir?
Mahalaya is the new moon before the Navaratri begins. We will perform the Cosmic Puja, complete Shraddha and Tarpana, and complete Chandi. The day after Mahalaya is the first day of Navaratri. Every day we will perform the Cosmic Puja, and complete Chandi. We will break the fast on the 8th night (ashtami).
What is the system that You and Shree Maa follow for prayers during Navratri?
We recite the entire Cosmic Puja and Chandi Path every day.
When during Navaratri do we worship Durga, when Lakshmi, and when Saraswati? What prayers are done during this period? Can Lalita Stotram also be recited?
We perform the entire Cosmic Puja every day. That includes Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasarasvati.
Lalita can also be recited, but Chandi Path is not to be neglected.
Topics covered in this Question and Answer session with Swamiji:
- Definition of homa
- Auspicious days for homa
- Homa viddhi
- Fire pits
- Fire sacrifice out open or in shade
- Homa in the day or the night
- Homa purnahuti
- Wood and masala for homa
- Using modern appliances for homa
- Blowing into fire
- Fire hazards
Topics covered in this Question and Answer session with Swamiji:
- Attributes of spiritual seekers
- Goals and surrender
- Spiritual goal
- Dealing with our faults
- How to speak
- Efficiency in karma
- How not to be exploited
- How to respond when people get physical
- Desire to remain aloof
- How to make friends with God
- When the world comes knocking
- Surrender and correct attitude
- Making more time for God
- Unable to say “No”
- Negative emotions
- Challenges of family
- Fear of death
- Stress and confusion
- Detachment in the middle of suffering
- Choosing an Ishta Devata
- Combining relationship and spiritual life
- Does God love me?
- When our friends fall
- Understanding death
- Serving the world
Benefits of Cosmic Puja
What are the benefits of the Cosmic Puja? What are the qualities that are developed, the wisdoms gained, etc.? When is this the appropriate primary puja?
These are from a few slides from our new class on the meaning and performance of the Cosmic Puja. I hope they will answer the question.
The Cosmic Puja is a Universal Prayer for Peace for all the beings of existence. It is a guided meditation, which teaches us to perceive events in life without attachment, to free ourselves from the bonds of karma, and cease to react to every stimulus. Through wisdom and discrimination, we design the circumstances we desire in life, and in this way we act with the greatest efficiency. All actions become perfect actions, and no longer are we required to return again and again to finish our incomplete work. This is the path of liberation. This is the purpose of the Cosmic Puja.
We meditate to surrender Too Much and Too Little, cut down Self Conceit and Self Deprecation, and surrender the Great Ego itself at the feet of the Divine Mother Goddess. Then we will be able to see that all of Existence is Being, Becoming, and Rest; desire, activity and wisdom. All of existence is in constant transformation caused by the Three Divine Couples: Brahma and Saraswati Creating, Vishnu and Laksmi Protecting, Shiva and Durga Transforming.
This is the Cosmic Puja, the worship of the Energies of the Eternal Existence and the Consciousness which perceives them; the three qualities in Constant Motion: coming into manifestation, having a time of play in the circumstances of life, and transforming again into something else. Without Too Much or Too Little, without Self Conceit or Self Deprecation, in the absence of the Great Ego, we can perceive without attachment the Dance of Nature and intuit the presence of God.
I pray primarily to Durga as the Kuladevata, However I also pray to Hanuman, Shiva, Vishnu and the rest of the family. I sometimes feel confused. How can I see them as a whole, please give me guidance?
Please read the Cosmic Puja. All the Gods and Goddesses are members of the one family of divinity. Be free. There is no conflict.
How does the worship of many forms of deity relate to the notion of having a chosen deity, or Ishta Devata? There seems to be two directions along which your altar can evolve. One is toward a cosmic altar that has many forms of deity. The other direction is toward an altar that has only one, chosen deity, one’s ishta devata.
It is called Ekadista or Vyasti as compared with Samasti. Both are ways of worshipping and of setting up the altar. Both are correct. In both ways we still worship all the other forms of divinity, but they are worshipped in the presence of flowers rather than murtis.
In the Bahya Matrikaa Nyasa. I am not sure what you mean when you say base, for example:
Om am namah R.1.4 base top of head,
Om pam namah L.1.4 base L.side,
Om bam Namah R.1.4 base belly, etc.
Could you please explain?
On each finger there are three spaces divided by the joints. The base refers to first space on each finger next to the palm of the hand.
I would like to know whether you actually do a homa in the section on Agni Prajvalitam?
No, visualize a circle of fire surrounding yourself and the deity. No other vibration can enter the circle. Then make the walls of the fire continually higher.
Where does Krishna fit in the cosmic family? And Ram?
They are both incarnations of Vishnu, and included in the Vishnu mantras.
Brahma is referred to as the Supreme Divinity and also as the Creative Capacity. Sometimes in transliteration the first is written Brahman, but apparently not always. How do I distinguish the two?
From the context.
In the Bhuta Suddhi, the bijas for the chakras are lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, and om. My question is are there also deities for the respective chakras? If so, what are they?
Please look at the table on page 97 of Cosmic Puja.
Do you offer puja materials on the Chandi Yantra as well as the idol of the deity?
In our tradition we do not break our asana from the time we take the sankalpa. Therefore, all offerings are made on the main flower situated on the yantra so we have no need to stand up.
In the Bhutasparana section, we call upon friendly spirits to get rid of the bad ones, then we tell the bad ones to go away, then we tell those that have chosen to remain that Lord Narasinha will deal with them. Should we make material offerings to the good spirits to persuade them to help us, to the bad spirits to get rid off them? What of the really demonic powerful ones? Does Narasinha take care of them, or/and should Hanuman be invoked for protection? Does one do this everyday, or once a week, or only at the start of a retreat or major event like a yagya?
Traditionally we offer rice to the good spirits in the four directions. I personally find it too difficult to clean up so I offer flower petals on the altar. For the bad spirits, traditionally we offer black sesame for the bad spirits. Again I offer flower petals for these mantras too. For the demonic ones, invoke Hanuman or Devi (Chandi, Chapter 12). I perform the Bhutasparana every day as part of the Cosmic Puja.
I would like to know the internal significance of Prana Pratistha and Nyasa. Since one could just as easily invite the deity into our hearts and meditiate on her there, and feel her there, without necessarily going through all the pratisht and nyas mantras, I would like to know what exactly these mantras do, as they are considered vital to all tantric pujas. Do they have the overall effect of enhancing the potency of the Japa Mantra that follows? In other words, one could just do the Japa without Nyasa, but with Nyasa the Japa would be more powerful.
The easiest and most effective puja is to sit silently in contemplation of the Supreme Divinity within ourselves with only one mantra. But the mind is restless. It won’t sit still that easily. It wants to roam from the past to the future, and rarely observes the truth of the present. The rishis designed the pujas to guide the mind into that stillness. The Pratistha and nyasa viddhis allow the establishment of all the vibrations of existence into our being, and then the establishment of the DIvine Mother as the embodiment of all that energy.
Can I do Prana Pratistha myself, as no brahmin is around to perform it. And how would I proceed for murtis of Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna, and Lakshmi? What are the mantras and so on?
Use the mantras from the Prana Pratistha in the Cosmic Puja, and then add the bija mantras for each deity.
How do the different mantras of the Pratistha or Nyasa correspond to the different chakras and nadis(chakra petals)?
I stand by the explanation already published in our books. The correspondence begins at the Muladhara to the Ajna chakra.
Just as receiving initiation into a mantra makes it more potent for the sadhak, does one need therefore initiation into the pratishtha and nyasa mantras as well to enhance their effect?
Everything works better when we have an oral transmission of knowledge, and even better when we can do our sadhana in the presence of a pure example of someone who is practicing that sadhana. There are so many nuances in every action that cannot be explained in an email or even a book. But we must do the best that we can. When circumstances allow, we will come into that relationship which inspires us to actually adjust our life styles so that we can receive the teachings first hand. Until then we must follow the teachings to the best of our abilities, and maintain the sincerity to continue to progress.
Could you also please tell me whether in cosmic puja pran pratishta is mentioned twice is deliberate or should just be done once?
We make prana pratishtha many times during the puja:
On the deity
On the pot.
On the worshipper
On the yantra.
On the fire.
On the one hand, when you were talking about the pot and you said that there is energy outside and energy inside, seems like there is only one energy. And then you said each manifestation is a different energy. Could you explain this?
In the Cosmic Puja, puja naivedhya is initially addressed to the Goddess. At the end, the text shifts to addressing God. Is there any significance in this shift?
The Introduction (to the Cosmic Puja) talks about three levels in the altar. It also says that as we move up the altar the way we perceive the world changes. Could you give us some examples from your life about how this happened?
I am mesmerised by the idol of Durga (Chandi) Maa, the one on the front page of the cosmic puja book riding on the lion slaying Mahisasur. Is there an actual murti like that somewhere in a temple in India because I have this strange feeling that I have seen it somewhere.
She, this murti is prepared in different parts of Bengal every year. She is worshipped for the Navaratri and then dissolved again in the Ganga.
The Cosmic Altar has been described in the Vaikritikam Rahasyam (from the Chandi Path) as the best way to worship Her. Does this mean that we should position the deities in our homes in the manner described in the Rahasyam? Would you advise us to model our altars at home based on the Cosmic Altar?
It is an extremely sophisticated form of worship. Certainly we want to move in that direction, but don’t move so fast as to make our worship a burden.
All Gods and Goddesses are one Family
Many deities and one chosen deity
Bahya Matrika Nyasa
Brahma and Brahman
Where to make offerings
Prana Pratistha and Nyasas
Energy inside and putside the pot
Three levels in the altar
Cosmic Puja cover – Puja and Altar (Murtis)
Topics covered in this Question and Answer session with Swamiji:
- Mudras for meditation
- Discussing meditation
- Disturbances during meditation
- Meditation without mantra
- How to meditate
- Where to focus in meditation
- Holy rivers inside the body
Topics covered in this Question and Answer session with Swamiji:
- Puja to Saints and Masters
- Puja Experiences
- Prana Pratishtha
- Consumption of Prasad
- Altar Vastu and Altar Direction
- Disposing of Old Articles of Worship
- Worship Restrictions for Women
- Short Puja to Deity
- Puja for Welfare of Humanity
- Expanding Our Puja
- Order of Worship
- Rearranging Altar
- Duration of Sankalpa
In this article, Swamiji stresses the need to do make worship of all the daily influences everyday and the beneficial effects of worshipping the nine planets.
Question: Swamiji, what is the attitude that one should have when facing adversity? In India, the priests suggest pujas (worship) to Shani (Saturn) to make things normal again. What do you think?
Swamiji: I think that we should make puja (worship) everyday, and not just for Shani but for everybody, everyone that’s Divine, and all the Divine influences in our lives. Now, what happens in India is that, generally, priests know that householders are so busy with their worldly tasks that they’re not making puja, and their neglect of the pujas is what causes confusion.
So most of the priests in India who suggest that you worship Shani are really saying, “Get on a spiritual path.” For anyone who’s really on a spiritual path, you have no need for a priest who says to do a puja for Shani. You’re doing puja everyday yourself. What need have you for a pujari who says, “It’s Shani dosha (affliction) that’s causing your problem”?
Shani has many benevolent effects in our astrological ecology. Shani is the Lord of discipline. Shani is a very great benefactor to anyone who creates a discipline. He is the strength of that discipline, and the focus of that discipline, and the commitment to that discipline. And now we are seeking freedom through action – not freedom from action. The moksha that we are seeking is freedom in action, not being inactive. The verses in the Bhagavad Gita say, “No one can be free from action. Even I who am the Lord of the three worlds, I must continue to act.” Therefore, do your action with the spirit of the rishis (sages). Do your action as the servant of Ram, do your action as an instrument in the hands of God.
So I appreciate the priests of India who recommend that we do Shani puja or the like, because they’re really saying, “Do something spiritual.” But I appreciate even more those great sadhus who are doing it themselves, not because some priests in India told them to, but because they are really in love with God. And they are following this path just as an inspiration so that they lead a pure life, a focused life, and a disciplined life which brings them to their ultimate objectives.
Graha shanti (peace) is to put to all your planets in harmony. Now look, the Sun is the light of wisdom, the Moon is the warmth of devotion, Mars has strength and fortitude and focus, Mercury is the communicator, Jupiter is the great guru and teacher, Venus fills us with love and pure attachment, Saturn will take us to discipline, Rahu and Ketu polarize obstacles and help us to reconcile the opposites. Look at the beneficent aspect of the planets and then they’ll all be in shanti. That’s the puja.