Why Should You Question 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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