Revolutionizing Pujas


Pujas: Invoking the Divine within

Many of the traditional practises of ages past were designed to impart peace of mind to those who engaged in them, but with the passage of time, this aim was lost sight of and traditions degenerated into mechanical rituals which were performed without understanding and only out of a sense of duty. Seeing the sufferings of her children in this so-called progressive era in which peace of mind seems like an utopian ideal, Amma, from the fathomless depths of her Universal Heart, reintroduced to us certain ancient forms.

Amma did this very subtly, without much fanfare, but now when we look around, we see large numbers of people ardently engaged in these practices. The changes wrought in their lives, in the form of increasing peace of mind, provide living proof of the efficacy of these methods of spiritual endeavour.

Some of the practices which Amma has popularised include chanting of mantras, chanting of the Lalita Sahasranama, Manasa Puja and Sarvaiswarya Puja. When, with a heart full of loving trust, we sincerely and regularly do these practices, we start feeling the presence of the Divine within our hearts. The culmination of these practices is the attainment of a state of mind in which we experience perfect and unbroken peace of mind.

Anyone who is interested participate and do the puja with traditional steps with the chanting of Lalita Sahasranama  is called Sarvaishwarya Puja. It is conducted in larger groups of thousands in the Ashram centers and Temples. With the concentration and the mental attitude of the thousands are in the same wave length, the benefit of such mass pujas are immense.

Amma leading a mass puja

Manasa Puja

Through the Manasa Puja (mental worship), Amma has made another revolution. She declared that God doesn’t need our lamp, incense stick, flowers and food offerings. He is only interested in our innocent heart. Amma told the devotees to sit with closed eyes, wherever they are, and visualise the Divine within – fully alive, loving, smiling and showering blessings. All that was in Malayalam. Lately, Amma started leading the Manasa puja, instructing in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi and in English.

(Amma’s instructions for mental worship of one’s Beloved Deity during meditation.)
Sit in a comfortable asana (posture) and try to feel a deep peace filling your being. Breathe slowly, deeply, consciously for 2-3 minutes.
Chant Aum three times with eyes closed. While chanting, imagine taking Aum from the navel upwards to the Sahasrara; also imagine the bad mental dispositions and bad thoughts within us flowing out.

Then while praying “Amma, Amma” with devotion, love, and tearful longing, imagine that the Divine Mother is standing before you, smiling and looking at you compassionately. For a minute enjoy Mother’s exquisite beauty, visualizing every part of Her divine form. Prostrate at Mother’s Lotus Feet, feeling the touch of your forehead on Her Holy Feet. Pray to Her, “O Mother, I take refuge in You. You are the only lasting Truth and support for me. You alone can give me real peace and joy. Never forsake me, never leave me!”

Then visualize the resplendent form of Devi on the inside of your palms. Rays of compassion from Devi’s eyes envelop you. Rub your face and from face to downwards with the palms. Feel that divine energy is permeating you, and feel all misfortunes, all inauspiciousness being driven away.
Throughout this puja, continuously repeat with your lips, but without making any sound, “Amma, Amma, Amma, leave me not, forsake me not”.

Imagine now that you are bathing Mother. As you pour water on Mother’s head, watch the water flow down over each part of Her form until it reaches Her Lotus Feet. Then do ablutions with milk, ghee, honey, sandal paste, rose water, etc. With each item enjoy the beauty of Her form. Through offering these materials, you are offering your own purified mind to Mother.

Next, do ablutions with vibhuti (sacred ash). Watch how it slowly reaches Mother’s Feet. Then shower flowers on Mother’s head. Take a nice towel and wipe her face and body. Adorn Her with a beautiful sari, as if you are dressing up your own child. Pray to Her, “O Mother, come sit in my heart. Only if You sit in my heart, can I tread the right path.”

Apply perfume on Devi. Adorn Her with ornaments: earrings, necklace, belt, anklets, etc. Apply kumkum on Her forehead. Place a crown bedecked with jewels on her head. Garland Mother. Enjoy watching Mother’s peerless beauty, and let your glance pass from Her head down to her feet and from Her feet to Her head again.
Like a child, talk to Mother about all kinds of things. Pray to Her, “O Mother, You are pure love. I am too impure to deserve Your Grace. I know that my egoism and selfishness must be repelling to You. Still, bear with me. Mother, please be with me. You are the holiest river. I am a stagnant, filthy pond. You flow to me and purify me, overlooking my shortcomings and forgiving my mistakes.”

With sandal paste, write “Om” on Mother’s feet. Offer flowers three times.

Now, after reciting the ‘Dhyana sloka’ in a meditative mood, begin to chant the Sahasranamavali, beginning with the ‘Om Sri Matre Namah’ (if chanting in a group, respond to each chant with ‘Om Parashaktyai namah’). As you chant each Name, imagine that you are picking a flower from your heart, and mentally offer the flower at Mother’s Lotus Feet. (The flower represents your own pure thoughts.) When the thousand Names have been chanted, sit erect silently for a few minutes, imagining that divine vibrations are spreading throughout your being.

Now, offer sweet porridge as naivedya (sacred food offering) for the Mother with your own hands and imagine that She relishes it. The real naivedya is your pure love for the Mother.

If you can sing, sing then a song offering to the Mother. Imagine that hearing the song, the Mother is dancing. Dance along with Her. Suddenly in the midst of the dance, She leaves you and runs away. Run after Her until you catch hold of Her. Cry out to Her: “O Mother, why are You forsaking me? Why do You allow me to perish in this forest of samsara? I am being burnt in the fire of worldliness. Come, lift me up and save me.”

Mother now stops running and She calls you, holding out Her arms towards you. Run to Her and embrace Her. Sit on Mother’s lap. Take complete freedom with Mother, as a child would with its own mother, caressing Her body and Lotus Feet, plaiting Her hair, etc. Ask Mother to never tease you like this again. Tell Her all your grievances and your anxieties. Tell Mother that you will never again allow Her to leave you.

Pray to Her: “O Mother, I am offering myself at Your Lotus Feet. Make me an ideal instrument of Yours. I do not want anything of this world. My only desire is to behold Your Divine form and to be in Your company. Give me eyes that see nothing but Your beauty. Give me a mind that revels in nothing but You. Let Your will be my will, let Your thoughts be my thoughts, Your words my words. Whatever I do, even eating and sleeping, let all my actions have only one aim—that of merging in You. Let me become as selfless and loving as You.” Constantly talking and praying like this, fix your mind on the Divine Mother’s form.
Wave lighted camphor before Mother, who stands before you smiling, Her eyes full of compassion. Imagine that you are offering all your good and your bad qualities, and the whole of yourself to Her.

Do pradakshina (circumambulation) and prostrate at Mother’s Lotus Feet with the prayer in your heart: “O Mother of the Universe, You are my only refuge. I surrender to You.”
Chant the peace invocations:

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om asatomā sadgamaya
tamasomā jyotirgamaya
mṛityormā amṛtamgamaya
om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Om, lead us from untruth to Truth,
from darkness to light,
from death to immortality.
Om peace, peace, peace

Pray for everyone in this world

lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantū
lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantū
lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantū
om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
Om, may all the beings in all the worlds be happy!
Om peace, peace, peace

After seeing Her there, while feeling peace and fullness of heart, bow to Her and to the place where you sat. Conclude the puja. If possible, meditate on Her form for some more time.

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते ।
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidam
pūrṇāt pūrṇamudacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya
om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
Om, That is the whole, this is the whole,
from the whole the whole becomes manifest
taking away the whole from the whole,
the whole alone remains.
Om peace, peace, peace.

ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः
Om śrī gurubhyo namaḥ; harī om
Om, reverence to the auspicious gurus, Hari Om