Manas Puja - mental worship of the Lord

Worship of the Lord can be done in many ways. At an early age, we see our elders offer simple worship at home in the puja room or at the altar. We learn how to worship the Lord by mimicking our elders. We are also taken to temples and places of worship where we see elaborate modes of worship. The rituals performed in the temples are beautiful, artistic and as per the rules given in the sacred scriptures. Many of us also perform elaborate puja at our homes. As we walk the spiritual path, we move on from external puja at homes, altars and temples to inner worship. Manasa puja should accompany the regular daily external worship.

Manas Puja is the mental worship of God in our hearts. We sit still, go within us and perform the pooja of our choice to the Lord within us. No physical offerings are made in this puja. The devotee worships the Lord as he pleases within himself. It can be an elaborate puja with the sixteen upcharas – the 16 steps in the ritual Hindu Puja. The Lord is experienced as a live being and not a stone in a temple and systematic worship is offered to Him with mantras.

The devotee pours out his love and honors the Lord by the 16 upcharas or offering. In this systematic puja, we start with : Avahana - Welcome/installation of the Lord, Asana - Giving seat, Padya - Washing the feet, Arghya - Washing the hands, Achaman - Water to drink, Madhuparka - Sweet (honey) mixture to eat, Snana – Bathe, Vastra – Clothe, UpavIta - Offering holy thread, Gandha – Offering perfume, Pushpa – Flower offerings, Dhupa - Incense smoke, Deep – oil or ghee lamps, Nivedana - Offering food, Karpura - Camphor light, Pradakshina, Namaskara - circumambulation and salutation. Manas puja can also be simple. We can chant the SitaRam Mantra or any other mantra and offer the Lord within us flowers with each mantra. We can offer Him Nivedana (food offering) of our choice.

Manas puja needs mental preparation and physical preparation. We should be bathed and clean. We need to sit still in one place when we do this pooja. When we follow the procedures given in the sacred scriputures, Manas puja is very rewarding. We must prepare ourselves through bhuta shuddi (cleansing of the elements of body through mantras), pranayam and dhyan. This helps the mind to focus properly. When these preparations are not done, even while doing physical puja, it is not successful. Our mind wanders and we think of the dinner menu, laundry, office schedules and other problems. We go through the motions of puja without actually linking ourselves to the Lord we are worshiping.

Manas Puja gives wonderful results when done with bhakti and shraddha – love and devotion for God. The scriptures give an example of brahmin who was very poor but a content man. One day he heard a discourse at a temple about Manas Puja. He decided to practice it. He bathed in the Godavari river and offered mental worship. He would wash the temple within his mind and bring water from all sacred rivers and oceans in gold pots for worship. He collected the best jewellery, flowers , fruits and clothes for the Lord. He worshipped his Lord in great style – beginning from bathing and ending with aarti or the waving of lights. He was very blissful after the worship. So he continued this way for many years.

One day, after completing the puja, he picked up the sweet rice to offer the Lord. As he touched the plate, it felt very hot. So he touched it with a finger to test the heat. His finger was burnt by the heat and he winced in pain. Lord Vishnu smiled seeing this and Goddess Mahalaxmi enquired why. Lord Vishu explained and ordered that the brahmin be brought to Vaikunta – the abode of the Lord. He received these blessings through his Manas Puja.

Manas Puja is the highest form of puja and can be done sitting at home without involving costs or causing hindrance to anyone. Let us meditate and use the SitaRam mantra for doing the Manas Puja and sanctify our inner selves and our lives.

By Neela Iyer


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