The spiritual practice of ritual worship
Abhishekam is an ancient ritual in which various ingredients are poured over a deity whilst mantras are chanted. The basic principle is that by cleaning the statue we purify and clean our own minds.
“Is there any greater puja than that done by Meerabai? Is there any greater puja than that done by Aandal or Karaikkal Ammaiyer?* Their ritual worship led them to God. They were truly feeling and performing puja with unqualified devotion. God accepted their supreme love and spoke directly to them. Abhishekam (“sprinkling of water” on the divine form) and decorating the deity – there are many pujas like this.
In all these pujas, it is essential to forget ourselves and wholeheartedly dedicate our minds to the deity. Chant the sacred names, decorate the Divine with a garland and offer flowers. If you chant the names of the Divine (astotra) and forget yourself you will get goose bumps! When you forget yourself, your mind will become truly immersed in God. When you forget the worldly attachments, the divine power, shakti, will emmanate from the statue. Like a magnet, that statue will draw you closer to the Divine. It will cling to you.
To come to that state, you need to change your lifestyle and devote more time to puja. We are revelling in this worldly life and say that we cannot take time off from maya (the worldly illusion). When you set aside time and do this puja, you are practising yoga and devotion at the same time (bhakti yoga). When you perform puja regularly, you will discover that there are many works to be done for it. Then we become very busy as if we were doing asanas, and our body, mind and entire being are fully involved in it. The mind becomes one-pointed. When we engross the mind and thoughts in the action of puja, we forget ourselves and that great divine power, grace and wisdom becomes merged with our hearts. If you practise puja steadily it also takes you to a higher level.
Many people have attained wisdom or liberation through ritual worship. It is indeed a great gift that we have in this worldly life to perform abhishekam. You have gained this great opportunity to worship and constantly remember the Divine with a steady mind. Don’t miss it!”
Swami Premananda*Three great lady saints of India. Meerabai intensely worshipped Sri Krishna, Aandal dedicated herself to Lord Vishnu and Karaikkal Ammaiyer surrendered body and mind to Lord Shiva