We shall continue from previous summary on Vedic God where we had briefly described benefits of worship of Ishwar as follows:
Q: Should we worship Ishwar or not? Why? After all He never forgives!
A: Ishwar should be worshipped and He alone should be worshipped.
It is true that by worship of Ishwar, you will not receive any shortcut pass certificate when you have actually failed. Only lazy and cheaters desire such unscrupulous means to success.
The benefits of worship of Ishwar are different:
a. By worship of Ishwar one is able to understand Ishwar and His creation better.
b. By worship, one is able to better understand His properties and adopt those in his own life. This enhances one’s personality, annihilates the source of future sins, encourages virtues of truth and compassion and comes closer to truth and bliss.
c. By worship, one is able to hear ‘inner voice’ better and get constant clearer guidance from Him.
d. By worship, one eradicates ignorance, gains strength and is able to withstand toughest challenges in life with confidence and aplomb.
e. Ultimately, one is able to remove ignorance completely and achieve Moksha or salvation with ultimate bliss.
I would like to add one more reason for worship.
– Ishwar has done so much for us and continues to do so endlessly. And hence it is natural for us to thank Him in same manner as we thank our mortal parents for their blessings. Only an unfortunate selfish person would not demonstrate his gratitude and lose opportunity to purify his or her heart.
Please note that worship does not mean some mechanical recitations or blankness of mind. It is a proactive approach to imbibe wisdom through actions, knowledge and contemplation.
Q: How should we worship Ishwar?
A: Basically worship of Ishwar lies in each act that we perform in our life. True worship implies following the ‘inner voice’ on a continuous basis. This is called living life of Yajna – selfless acts dedicated only to noble purposes.
This is called worship through actions. However to ensure that one conducts his life purely in a noble manner without deviations, one has to practice on two more aspects:
a. Seeking knowledge
b. Contemplation on the knowledge to imbibe the same as part of our sanskaars.
The trio of Knowledge-Contemplation-Actions go hand in hand and are fruitless in isolation.
For this lesson, we shall focus on specific aspects of ‘Contemplation’. But please note that this assumes that the rest of the two components – Knowledge and Actions are also being utilized in sync. Henceforth, when we refer to worship in this lesson, we would imply only the component of ‘contemplation’ for ease of communication.
Q: What are the key components of Worship?
A: There are three major components:
– Stuti or Glorification
– Prarthana or Prayer
– Upasana or Yogic Practice
In this article, we shall mainly focus on Stuti and Prarthna. We shall also cover Upasana in brief. However this science would demand greater exposition.
Please note that these are not exclusive of each other however.
Q: Explain Stuti in more detail.
A: ‘Stuti’ or Glorification means stating the correct attributes/properties of any entity in most truthful manner. Hence ‘false buttering (makhanbaazi)’ of anything as well as ‘unreasonable condemnation’ are both not Stuti.
The purpose of Stuti of Ishwar is to understand the properties of Ishwar and attempt to model our own nature and actions in sync with Him. For example just as Ishwar is just and kind, we should also be just and kind. Ishwar never gives up, and hence we should also not give up.
One who merely sings the virtues of Ishwar like a drama artist but does not put effort in changing his or her own character is simply wasting time. Because Ishwar is not a narcissist dictator who enjoys being praised. Whatever Stuti we do is solely for our own benefit by improving our own self.
There are two types of Stuti:
Glorification by remembering and understanding those attributes of Ishwar that are present in Him. For example, He is eternal and pure.
Glorification by remembering and understanding those attributes that are NOT present in Ishwar. For example, He has no form and He is never born.
The difference is merely of semantics and not the fundamentals.
Q: Can you present some mantras from Vedas having Stuti of ishwar?
A: Ishwar is the main subject of Vedas. Hence a large number of mantras having Stuti of Ishwar are part of Vedas. For example:
He is present in everything, fastest and most powerful, pure, omniscient, knows everything, master of all, eternal, self-sufficient and guides us all with knowledge of Vedas. (This is Saguna Stuti)
He is without body, never takes birth, has no nerves or gaps, does not conduct sin, is separate from pain and miseries. (This is Nirguna Stuti)
Atharvaveda 10.8.1 and 10.7.32-34
He knows what has happened in past, what is happening currently and what can happen in future in most perfect manner. He manages the entire world through this knowledge and is master of us all. He is bliss Himself and completely away from sorrow! He is the greatest and we bow to Him!
He created the earth where we dwell and the universe as well as all those bodies which give us light. He is the greatest and we bow to Him!
He creates the sun and the moon in every cycle of creation. He also creates the fire for our benefit. He is the greatest and we bow to Him!
He creates the air we breathe in and the air we breathe out. He creates the light through which we see. He has created and managed everything in all the ten directions in a marvelous integrated fashion so that we are benefited utmost. He is the greatest and we bow to Him!
He provides the power of knowledge to our souls. He provides us all true wisdom and bliss. All scholars worship Him and Him alone. The intelligent ones follow His directions as provided in Vedas to obtain continuous bliss and achieve salvation. Surrender to Him alone is freedom from miseries and deviating away from Him by indulging in misdeeds alone is reason for being trapped in cycles of death again and again. Hence we should worship Him and Him alone who is the very definition of Bliss and Happiness!
Q: What do you mean by Prarthana or Prayer?
A: To request for support from Ishwar after we have put our best efforts for a noble purpose is called Prayer. Neither is it a prayer when we request help for a sinful purpose nor it is a prayer when we request so without having put the best we can. Prayer is neither for the wicked nor for the lazy ones.
1. Whatever we pray from Ishwar, we should adopt the same in our lives as well. For example, if we pray for knowledge, we should also put the best efforts to seek knowledge. Prayers make sense ONLY AFTER due effort has been put. Expecting free lunch is mark of beggars, not worshippers of God who Himself never lazes even for a while. Hence, make the due payment and then request your lunch.
2. Wicked prayers bring opposite results because they pollute one’s mind and cause him to invite even more miseries. For example, Ishwar rejects prayers like –
“O Ishwar, destroy my enemy and make me the most powerful and glorious.” Because if both the enemies would pray for the same, should Ishwar destroy them both?
If someone argues that one who prays more sincerely out of two should be heard by Ishwar, then by this logic, one who prays slightly less sincerely should cause at least some damage, though lesser, to his enemy! This is utter foolishness.
3. Similarly if one prays like “O Ishwar, make Chapati for us, please clean my house, wash my clothes, harvest my crops etc”, he is simply a fool.
In Yajurveda 40.2, Ishwar orders us: “Live for 100 years and even more only by putting best efforts and never ever be lazy.” Those who ignore this order of Ishwar can never achieve happiness, how so much noble they may be in other qualities.
Hard-work or Purusharth is the MOST IMPORTANT characteristic to imbibe in life. All the rest of noble qualities assume that Purusharth is already in place.
In other words, fortune favors the brave.
4. We give job only to those who work, not to lazy ones. Only one who has eyes and wants to see can be shown something. Taste of sugar is obtained only by obtaining sugar and eating it, not by merely saying “Sugar is sweet”. Similarly, only one who puts best efforts in noble activities eventually achieves the Sugar sooner or later.
Q: Can you provide some mantras from Vedas on prayer of Ishwar?
A: In fact many! Read them carefully and enjoy the most blissful activity in life – Prayer to Ishwar. But make sure, you are doing your homework by putting best continuous relentless enthused efforts.
O Agni (Enlightening Ishwar), Bless us with same intellect through which Yogis and Scholars worship you. And provide us that intellect right now! We promise to surrender our everything to you without any selfishness. After all you are the source of everything that we possess! (Refer Power of Now for detailed explanation of this mantra)
You are brilliant, provide us with brilliance as well.
You are infinitely brave and courageous, provide us with same courage and bravery.
You are all-powerful, make us also strong and powerful in mind and body.
You are fully capable, make us also capable.
You show wrath over crimes and criminals. Make us also cultivate the habit of showing same anger over crimes and criminals.
You tolerate all praise or criticism. Make us also strong enough to ignore praise or criticism and focus only on our goal.
In other words, help us steer away from evil towards goodness.
Yajurveda 34.1-6 (Shiva Sankalpa Mantras)
O most lovable Ishwar! With your blessings, my mind goes far away in all forms of knowledge while awake. Even during sleep, it performs similarly. May my powerful mind gifted by you stays away from all sins and have only pure thoughts always. May I always think for welfare of everyone and never ever do I desire harm for anyone.
O knower of all, this mind propels patient scholars and noble people to continuously do noble deeds and fight evil. This mind has tremendous potential and can stay immersed in welfare of all living beings. May such a noble mind always steer away from sins and desire only virtuous thoughts.
This mind provides all great knowledge. It illuminates one and all and helps us make right decisions. Not even a single task can be accomplished without its support. May such a great mind always remain immersed in noble thoughts and away from evil desires.
The yogis know the past, present and future through this mind. This mind helps us unite with Ishwar and seek ultimate knowledge. This mind works together with 5 senses, soul and intellect to conduct virtuous deeds. May such a noble mind always remain pure and for welfare of all.
The knowledge of 4 Vedas – Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda – lay embedded in the mind in same manner as spokes are attached to center of a wheel. This mind is testimony of existence of Ishwar who is always within it and around it. May such a mind remain always dedicated to noble deeds so that I am able to discover the knowledge of Vedas that lies within me, by eradicating all ignorance.
The mind controls the acts of humans like the charioteer controls the horses with strings. It is extremely fast and stays with me always. May such a mind always seek welfare and noble thoughts for all and never ever dwell into sins.
O provider of bliss, self-illuminating, omniscient Ishwar, May you provide us with right intellect. May you steer us away from sinful activities. We pray again and again to you to purify our thoughts, words and actions.
O Rudra (One who causes evil people to cry and face miseries)! Please guide us all so that none of us harm our younger ones, our elders, our parents, creatures in wombs, our loved ones and all innocent harmless living beings. Guide us away from the path that would cause us to face your punishments.
Shatpath Brahman 188.8.131.52
May we reject the path of falsehood and progress towards truth. May we reject the path of darkness and progress towards enlightenment. May we reject the path of death and seek eternal immortality in form of salvation. O Ishwar! Please be our guide!
O affluent Ishwar! Kindly stabilize me into a healthy body, healthy sense organs and a very noble mind with good habits. Please help us make our country stronger, powerful and prosperous. May our noble wishes always become true and we seek only conduct of noble deeds. May we establish a powerful Chakravarti sovereign nation and establish the rule of justice. May we be able to fight away all the forces of corruption, fraud, treachery that plague my country.
May we be strong always. May our weapons – guns, cannons, ammunitions etc – be always ready and top notch. May our weapons and strength be able to defeat all the evil forces desiring to harm innocent people and stop the might of their armies. May our indisputable power, valor and courage help us establish a sovereign, powerful, prosperous and just nation so that all forces of corruption, treachery, fraud and crimes keep getting defeated by us. But this prayer of ours is only for us when we are on path of truth, compassion, justice and nobility. Those who desire so but are fraud, treacherous, unjust and criminals would always suffer mightiest defeats by Ishwar’s grace. Hence we should only indulge in noble deeds.
May we only desire doing noble deeds. May our body be always strong and powerful through good healthy food. May we be relentlessly making efforts. May we be able to understand Vedas and apply that knowledge for our benefit. May we have Brahmins (scholars) who provide us good knowledge. May we have brave Kshatriyas (warriors) so that we establish a power nation and destroy fraud forces within and outside our country. May we have experts who help enhance Science and Technology and develop planes, vehicles, useful gadgets, machines etc. May we always remain on path of justice alone. May we harbor no enmity with any living being. May we have powerful nation, tremendous prosperity and noble virtues.
May we surrender our everything to the Ishwar who is our mother, father, friend and guru – our entire life, our life force, our sense organs, our efforts, our happiness, our soul, our enlightenment and knowledge, results of our actions, our sacrifices, our glorifications, our emotions, greatest of our achievements – everything. Because Ishwar is source of everything we possess. In other words, achieving Ishwar be the sole purpose of whatever we think or do in life. This ultimate surrender or Samarpan be the mantra of our lives!
May we consider only Him as our ruler and refuse to accept any other dynasty, person or party as our ruler. May we follow only the laws made by Him and not follow human-made norms if they go against orders of Ishwar. May we unite together to thwart those forces that force us to accept them as our rulers instead of Ishwar. In other words, may we all unite together, never fight against each other and follow only truth in thoughts, words and actions.
Let we be guided by te Supreme and not whims of any one individual or set of incompetents.
Q: What do you mean by Upasana?
A: Upasana means to come closer to Ishwar. In other words, Upasana implies the efforts we make to understand Ishwar better so that we may think, act and speak as per His directions. Thus all those activities that we need to conduct to come closer to Ishwar and realize Him by direct evidence comes under ‘Upasana’.
The one who has destroyed all seeds of ignorance and has come closer to Ishwar through Upasana he or she derives a level of happiness and bliss that cannot be expressed in words but can only be felt within.
Q: How do we do Upasana?
A: This is a long subject and forms the basis of Yoga Darshan. We shall provide very brief details here and take this topic in further details sometime later.
But as Step 1 of Upasana:
following needs to be done. Note that this is a must and rest of the methods of Upasana make sense ONLY when the student is putting his best efforts on this first step. It has two components:
Ahimsa (Non-Violence)- No hatred or enmity against anyone. Only feeling of compassion.
Satya (Truth)- Seeking to accept truth and reject falsehood to best of one’s knowledge.
Asteya (Non-Theft) – To reject whatever is not rightfully yours.
Brahmacharya (Morality) – To cultivate self-control, not be lecherous, keep sense and work organs under control.
Aprigraha (Humility) – To be humble and without any false ego.
Shauch (Purity) – Purity of mind and good hygiene practices.
Santosh (Satisfaction) – Putting best efforts towards conduct of noble deeds regardless of failures, successes, glory or insult without being lazy with full happiness and enthusiasm.
Tapa (Efforts) – To ignore pleasure and pain in path of Ishwar and keep putting efforts.
Swadhyaya (Contemplation) – Constant efforts to increase knowledge, seek good company and understanding Ishwar and meaning of Om etc.
Ishwar Pranidhan (Complete surrender to Ishwar) – Simply submitting the will to path of Ishwar.
After these basics have been understood, we actually become eligible to enter into the academy of Yoga.
Note that it does not mean that only after you have mastered these is that next step can begin. Because these steps themselves contain essence of entire Upasana process. But to take next steps, you should at least understand these and keep working on these genuinely. You may fail but should always rise up again even more resolved to master these Yama and Niyama.
We shall discuss the next steps in detail later.
Q: How do we conduct an Upasana session?
A: Whenever one desires to do Upasana, he or she should
– Seek a relatively isolated place
– Sit in a stable position
– Practice some pranayams (breathing methods to control the mind)
(Not the Anulom Vilom and Kapalbhati popular these days. They are merely physical exercises having nothing to do with Yoga as wrongly asserted. For correct Pranayams refer Chapter 2 of Satyarth Prakash.)
– Focus on any body part of body center line like solar plexus, throat, center of eyes, back, head, center of rib cage etc to bring the mind away from world around into singular focus.
– Start contemplating on Ishwar and our relation with Him. Gradually move towards an emotional connect with Ishwar and immerse into His bliss. Let go of rest of the world. Even if wandering thoughts come, simply ignore in same manner as you ignore mosquitoes when enjoying beautiful music.
– Resolve to remove weaknesses and sinful thoughts and resolve to make yourself pure RIGHT NOW!
Q: What are the benefits of Upasana?
A: We have listed out some benefits in beginning of the lesson. Here are some more:
– One who practices Upasana very rapidly increases the purity of his or her mind and makes it truth-oriented. Since truth=bliss, this makes him enjoy the life significantly more than rest of his peers.
– Gradually this truth=bliss leads him to ultimate bliss of salvation where no misery remains further. There is no state better than this to be achieved.
– One who remains committed to Ishwar 24x7x365 always, continues progressing towards more and more happiness and pleasures in life. He becomes much much more capable, alert, enthused and successful person among his peers who do not do Upasana.
– In summary Upasana makes one most successful both materially and spiritually. After all Ishwar alone is source of all material and spiritual happiness!
– Just as a shivering person in chilling winter feels comfort only when he gets closer to fire, similarly, by getting closer to Ishwar, all the sins of soul get destroyed, his nature, actions and tendencies become in sync with Ishwar and hence he achieves ultimate purity and happiness.
– Upasana of Ishwar will make one’s will-power so strong that he or she would be able to withstand such great challenges in life that may seem impossible for others. When faced with toughest situations in life, such a person would still be able to keep his calm and come out of it successfully. What can be greater wonder to be achieved in human life!
– Further one who does not worship Ishwar is foolish as well as shamelessly thankless. Because none else could ignores the One who gave us such tremendous happiness by creating entire world and is continuously supporting us.
Just think of what treatment we rightfully accord to such ungrateful, selfish and foolish people who disown their own parents!
This in summary is the essence of Vedic concept of Ishwar!
May we all earth-dwellers worship the blessing Ishwar constantly with unanimity in our hearts and togetherness among us all.
Yajurveda 30.3: O Ishwar! You provide us with enlightenment and bliss. You create and manage the entire world! We request you to keep us away from sorrow as well as the evil desires that is the cause of all sorrows. And please lead us to whatever is virtuous, noble, truthful and beneficial for all. May we have only purity within us and ward off all evil thoughts and obtain material bliss like powerful just nation, healthy body as well as spiritual bliss of salvation through our efforts guided by you!
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih!
Let us now enjoy a daily Vedic prayer!
This article is also available in Gujarati at http://agniveer.com/vedic-worship-hinduism-gu/