Why Should You Question Hindu Rituals?


Many readers used to send me letters with lot of queries related to Hindu rituals.

Yesterday, I received a call from Anantha Krishnan: “Udayji, I am a regular reader of your website. A famous astrologer advised me to conduct a “Maha Mrityunjaya Homam” to protect my father from the unfortunate event of death. I am in USA now. The priest, who was recommended by the astrologer, said that he can do the homam in his house and send prasadam (religious offering) to my father. He said the total cost would be around $1500 (above one lakh). This has to be done with immediate effect or my father…..Is this right? What’s your advice? I appreciate your rational perspective and logical explanation. I don’t have anybody else to consult. Please advise.”

“Anantha, I am not an expert in achars(rituals and customs). All I can do is sharing my limited understanding of achars in Hinduism,” I said.

“Yes, that’s what I need. I wanted an un-biased opinion,” he said.

Broadly, we have three types of rituals and traditions.

First one is Vaidikam – Vaidik karma (Vedic customs and traditions) is purely based on Vedas and hence do not change. All rituals (homam, havanam, yagam, jagna, yajnaetc) through the medium of fire (Agni) is Vaidikam. We offer ‘Homa Dravyas’ or Havan Samagri (materials for sacred offering) to fire. Here, we use Veda mantras (sacred hymns) and the swaram (note in the octave) of hymns is most important here. There is no idol worship in Vaidika karma, and hence, rituals are not related to temples.

Second one is Pauranikam – it is based on Puranas. All rituals using the medium as an Idol or a Lamp can be termed as Pauranikam. Here we use keerthanam (singing the glories) of the favourite gods and also some Veda mantras. However, instead of Swaram, the thrust is given to raaga (melodic modes used in Indian classical music). “Shodasa Upachara pooja” (complete process of performing the rituals of pooja, the worship) – which constitute of Dhyanam (prayer), Avahana invocation, Aaasana (offering seating), Paadya (washing of feet), Arghya (washing of hands), Aachamana (Offering water to drink) etc – is the integral part of this…

(Excerpts from my book: MANTRAS and RITUALS: THE LOGIC OF HINDU SCIENCE. For further reading: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B093Z2M52M ) You may visit Amazon site of your respective country and search “B093Z2M52M”

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By
Udaylal Pai
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4 Responses

  1. Surendranath Vellore says:

    Sir ji, I have read your article on ” Why should you question Hindu Rituals” and I request one clarification. In the last para it was mentioned that WOMEN can perform rituals. In that case, Why women are not allowed inside the sabarimala temple stepping on 18 holy steps between 10 to 50 ages (may be they undergo “period” age). I believe several saints and sadhus would have also echoed similar concept. This is not a question on beliefs. Please give us clarity to a layman knowledge.

  2. Navneet says:

    You said that people born in current Brahmin families have “traditional knowledge and DNA advantage”, could you please explain the DNA part? I was of the opinion that all Hindus were of the same DNA and the Arya-Dravida divide was mischief created by the west. Is that what you are referring to when you refer to a DNa advantage?

    Thank you for any response, in advance. I have just started reading your blog and have read 12 articles in the last hour.

  3. Vishwas says:

    A very good topic with explanation. We must not believe anything blindly. As mentioned in upanishads, “yadeva vidyaya karoti shraddhayopanishada tadeva viryavattaram bhavatiti” means that know about it then believe in it and then follow it. Now Indians have become the manasaputras of the english because firstly most of the Indians are unaware of Sanskrit & all the epics have been translated version in English

  4. Margo says:

    Who said, you do not know homam. Probably I can say, you know more than a mugged up professional Brahman how himself does not have a logic or thrust to know the reason behind the same.

    Till now, I have read you two post. One is the above and other is on Artificial Food Consumption and both are having good logics.

    Probably you like of people are very less in india and india is loosing this wealth of old knowledgable people, who also try to see on practical sense in current situation sorrounding us.

    New young generation do not have any botheration on this at all. They are just happy with pizza, pasta, other italian, chinese, thei food and so on so their thoughts are. Infact they are trying to move towards more innovation of mix culture of italian, chinese such as Cheese Spring Roll.

    Probably I need to seek your help, If I need to know more about our culture. I am happy, I found you. Now going to subscribe you after reading your two worth reading articles.

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