What is the principle behind Puja?

The law of karma says that the sorrows of life are the results of our own sins, committed in the past, in this life or in previous lives. There are certain periods in life when we have to suffer from the results of our sins, when, whatever we do, we may not meet with success. We may face unexpected problems, death of dear and near ones, diseases and accidents.

The aura — the luminous sheath covering our body where the effects of all our deeds, physical and mental, are recorded as on a video tape — will be dark during these periods, and the vibrations emanating from us are out of tune with others, arousing aversion in their subconscious mind. We are like a person groping his way in darkness.

The more egocentric, wicked and selfish we become, the darker and darker our aura becomes. The periods when the results of our past actions, favourable or unfavourable, come to fruition are indicated by planetary positions at the time of our birth.

A great deal about the events and influences of life can be predicted through the science of Jyotish. The malefic effects due to befall us can be averted, or their effects reduced a great deal, by the grace of a Guru, our sincere prayers, selfless service and performance of specific pujas. The happiness we create in the lives of other people and Nature as a whole, results in brightening of our aura. The body, mind and spirit are purified and harmonised by the concentration, devotion, prayers, mantra and japa performed during the pujas.

Q: If our fate is decided by our own karma, what is the role of the Guru, God and the planets in deciding our destiny?

The SatGuru is the visible form of God, our own Supreme Self, who out of infinite compassion creates opportunities for us to learn new lessons from karma at every step, and help us on our way to final liberation from the bondage of karma and rebirths.

The planetary positions are indicative of events in store for us. The deities of planets are different facets of God Himself. If our mother is a school teacher, she has to be treated differently at school and at home. Likewise, God comes to our lives in many forms, including that of a punishing school master at times under the guise of planetary deities like Mars, Saturn and Rahu, to make us learn our lessons the hard way.

At such times the next best thing to having pure devotion and love for God (or Guru) is to propitiate Him in proven ways specified in the scriptures or visualised by Realised Masters. For an earnest spiritual seeker or true devotee, such ritualistic pujas may be of less importance if he takes every event, good or bad, as gifts of God, and is happy and contented with them.

– Brahmachari Shivamrita Chaitanya