I offer this pūjā to each of my many teachers who have illuminated some small part of the Truth to which I have dedicated my life. Their collective light reveals the spiritual path down which I wander. I bow to Veda Vyāsa, Patañjali, Rāmānujācārya, Ādi Śankarācārya, and all the great jagadgurus who have influenced every part of my life; to Śrī Śiva Mahādeva, who is ādiguru, the first guru of every lineage and the guru of all gurus; and to śrī śrī sadguru, whose compassion and grace is the only hope any of us have.
oṃ śrī gurave namaḥ
I bow to my guru, Paramahaṃsa Yogānanda.
oṃ paramagurave namaḥ
I bow to the gurus of my guru, Svāmī Śrīyukteśvara and Lahirī Mahāśaya.
oṃ parātparagurave namaḥ
I bow to the founding guru of my lineage, Mahāvatāra Bābājī.
oṃ parameṣṭhigurave namaḥ
I bow to Śiva, the divine guru principle, the guru of all gurus.
Preparing for Pūjā
This is a very basic introduction to the practice of pūjā, or ritualized worship. Pūjā can consist of extremely complex ceremonies lasting several days and including elaborate offerings and tricky mantras, but it can also be very simple, taking only a few minutes and utilizing very simple mantras.
The pūjā outlined herein is a very simple ceremony designed to be easily performed by a beginner. The mantras used are adopted from the tantrāḥ (specifically the śākta and the vaiṣṇava tantrāḥ — systems for worshipping Śakti and Viṣṇu), as opposed to the far more complex (and strict) Vedic tradition.
Before you begin your pūjā, it is customary to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. You should regard the pūjā ceremony as having a direct audience with, and paying your respects to, the Divine. If you were meeting a president, monarch, or some other great figure, would you not wash your body and wear clean, fresh garments? It should be no different with your pūjā. Shower, brush your teeth, evacuate your bladder, and dress yourself in clean clothing that is comfortable for sitting. This is more for your benefit than for that of the deity being worshipped. Spirit will not be offended if you perform a pūjā without having brushed your teeth. However, this practice of cleaning the body before entering a sacred space serves to reinforce your own reverential attitude toward the sādhana (spiritual practice) you perform in that space, thereby intensifying your devotion. Thus, the spiritual merit of the sādhana performed is increased.
Prepare the space where you are going to perform your pūjā. If possible, you should keep a room dedicated solely to your sādhana. The great Svāmī Śivānanda of Rishikesh goes so far as to recommend keeping this room under lock and key, ensuring that it is used for no other purpose than sādhana. If this is not possible, then dedicate a corner, a closet, or any small space that you can, but keep that space sacred and do not use it for any other purpose.
Your altar can be arranged in any way you like, but for the purposes of this pūjā, you should have an image of your guru, such as a photo or a mūrti (consecrated statue), in a central position on the altar.
Also, regular practice of meditation as instructed by your guru, either before or after the pūjā (preferably directly after), is highly recommended. The pūjā is simply a method for increasing your bhakti, but if that bhakti is not directed inward during deep meditation, then it will never reach its full potential: direct communion with God.
What You’ll Need
For this simplified pūjā, you will need a few simple items:
- mālā (rosary)
- Usually consisting of either 54 or 108 beads — used in the practice of japa, or mantra repetition.
- dīpaḥ (ghee lamp)
- If a ghee lamp is unavailable, you can use a tea light or a candle.
- dhūpaḥ (incense)
- In many traditions, the custom is to use an odd number of incense sticks, with a minimum of three. However, for the purposes of this simplified pūjā, three sticks might create too much smoke. If you prefer, one stick will be sufficient.
- karpūraḥ (camphor)
- Camphor is a volatile plant resin that burns completely away, leaving no trace of itself behind.
- ghaṇṭāḥ (bell)
- Any bell will do. The bell is rung while the dīpaḥ, dhūpaḥ, and karpūraḥ are offered.
- puṣpāḥ (flowers)
- You may use flower petals, but keep at least one whole flower. Scented flowers are preferable. Do not sniff the flowers prior to offering them. Familiarize yourself with the ceremony to get a sense of how many flowers you will need.
Any mantras that appear in a shaded box like this one can be considered optional. These mantras are a bit more difficult. When you are first learning the pūjā, it might be easier to skip the optional portions. As you get more comfortable with the basic mantras and the procedures of the pūjā, you can start including these sections.
श्री देवता प्रणाम
Śrī Devatā Praṇāma
Salutations to the Gods
We honor these expressions of the Supreme Spirit so our pūjā will gain their blessing.
oṃ śrīmanmahāgaṇādhipataye namaḥ
I bow with respect to Gaṇapati, the great lord of wisdom and remover of all obstacles.
oṃ lakṣmīnārāyaṇābhyāṃ namaḥ
I bow with respect to Lakṣmī Devī, the personification of divine abundance and prosperity, and to Nārāyaṇa, the refuge of all mankind.
oṃ umāmaheśvarābhyāṃ namaḥ
I bow with respect to Umā, the Divine Mother, and to Maheśvara, the Lord of the Universe.
oṃ vāṇīhiraṇyagarbhābhyāṃ namaḥ
I bow with respect to Vāṇī (Sarasvatī Devī), the personification of knowledge and wisdom, and to Hiraṇyagarbha (Brahmā), the creator of all that exists.
oṃ śacīpurandarābhyāṃ namaḥ
I bow with respect to Śaci and Purandara (Indra and his consort), rulers of all that is divine.
oṃ mātāpitṛbhyāṃ namaḥ
I bow with respect to my mother and father.
oṃ iṣṭadevatāyai namaḥ
I bow with respect to my chosen deity.
oṃ kuladevatāyai namaḥ
I bow with respect to my family deity.
oṃ grāmadevatāyai namaḥ
I bow with respect to the deity of my village.
oṃ vāstudevatāyai namaḥ
I bow with respect to the deity of the household.
oṃ sthānadevatābhyo namaḥ
I bow with respect to all the deities established on the altar.
oṃ sarvebhyo gurubhyo namaḥ
I bow with respect to all enlightened teachers.
oṃ sarvebhyo devebhyo namaḥ
I bow with respect to all the masculine expressions of Divinity.
oṃ sarvābhyo devībhyo namaḥ
I bow with respect to all the feminine expressions of Divinity.
oṃ sarvebhyo brāhmaṇebhyo namaḥ
I bow with respect to all knowers of brahman, the Supreme Spirit.
oṃ vakratuṇḍa mahākāya
nirvighnaṃ kuru me deva
O Lord with a curved trunk and powerful body, who shines with the splendor of a million suns, please remove all hinderances from any actions I perform, now and always1.
oṃ agnirdevatā vāto devatā
sūryo devatā candramā devatā
vasavo devatā rudro devatā-
dityā devatā maruto devatā
viśve devā devatā
The fire is Spirit, the wind is Spirit, the sun is Spirit, the moon is Spirit, the vasus are Spirit, the rudras are Spirit, the ādityas are Spirit, the marutas are Spirit, all the deities of the Vedas are Spirit, bṛhaspati (the guru of the gods) is Spirit, the ruler of the deities is Spirit, the waters are Spirit2.
श्री गायत्री मन्त्रः
Śrī Gāyatrī Mantraḥ
Gāyatrī is one of the holiest mantras (second only to pure oṃ) and is used in nearly all ceremonies in Vedic culture. It is named for Gāyatrī Devī3, the goddess who first revealed the mantra to the great sage Viśvāmitra. The mantra is usually preceded by the so called mahāvyāhṛti (great declaration)4.
oṃ bhūrbhuvaḥ svaḥ
oṃ tat savitur vareṇyam
bhargo devasya dhīmahi
dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt
Savitṛ5, the rising sun, the light of wisdom radiant in all divine beings, we meditate upon you. Grant us the highest inspiration in our meditation.
oṃ bhūḥ oṃ bhuvaḥ oṃ svaḥ oṃ mahaḥ
oṃ janaḥ oṃ tapaḥ oṃ satyaṃ
oṃ tat savitur vareṇyam
bhargo devasya dhīmahi
dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt
Savitṛ, the rising sun, the light of wisdom radiant in all divine beings, we meditate upon you. Grant us the highest inspiration in our meditation._
oṃ āpo jyotīrasomṛtaṃ brahma bhūrbhuvassvarom
May the sacred water (āpo), the divine light (jyoti), the life force (asu), and the divine nectar of immortality (amṛta) flow from the Supreme Spirit (brahman) to my physical body (bhūḥ), my astral body (bhuvaḥ) and my causal body (svaḥ)._
Offering of Scented Flowers
In the following section, you will be offering scented flowers to various aspects of Spirit. You can use either whole flowers or flower petals. It is important not to smell the flowers prior to offering them, as their scent is symbolic of your devotion, and should be kept intact. Try to avoid using flowers that have not fully bloomed, as well as flowers that are wilted, bruised, or eaten by insects. The ideal flower is one that you have grown yourself. If you tend a flower garden, and have raised them with care, they are a perfect offering for your pūjā ceremony. Jasmine is one of the most favored flowers for use in pūjā, as it is considered to have the auspicious qualities of sattva guṇa.
This mantra is used to purify the flowers before they are offered:
oṃ puṣpe puṣpe mahāpuṣpe
puṣpe cayāvakīrṇe ca
huṃ phaṭ svāhā
Flowers, flowers, great flowers, excellent flowers, flowers producing more flowers, flowers strewn in heaps all around. Be purified! The Supreme Spirit and I are one!
Place a flower (or a small number of petals) on the altar with each of the following mantras.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ gaṃ gaṇapataye namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Gaṇapati (Gaṇeśa).
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ ādityādinavagrahebhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Āditya, the sun, and the rest of nine planets.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ śivādipañcadevatābhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Śiva and the rest of the five principle aspects of Spirit (Śiva, Śakti, Viṣṇu, Gaṇapati, and Sūrya).
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ indrādidaśadikpālebhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Indra, ruler of all that is divine, and to the guardians of the ten directions.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ matsyādidaśāvatārebhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Matsya, and all ten incarnations of Viṣṇu.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ prajāpataye namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Prajāpati, the lord of all created beings (literally, “lord of all that is born”).
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ namo nārāyaṇāya
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Nārāyaṇa, the refuge of all humankind.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ saṃ sarasvatyai namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Sarasvatī Devī, the personification and source of knowledge and wisdom.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ śrīṃ lakṣmyai namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Lakṣmī Devī, the personification and source of spiritual and material prosperity.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ krīṃ kālyai namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Kālī Devī, the destroyer of our inner demons.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ bauṃ brahmaṇe namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Brahmā, the creator of all that exists.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ klīṃ viṣṇave namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Viṣṇu, the sustainer of all that exists.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ namaḥ śivāya
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to Śiva, who dissolves all that exists, returning it to Spirit.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ sarvebhyo devebhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to all masculine expressions of Spirit.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ sarvābhyo devībhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to all feminine expressions of Spirit.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ sarvebhyo gurubhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to all enlightened teachers.
ete gandhapuṣpe oṃ sarvebhyo brāhmaṇebhyo namaḥ
With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to all knowers of the Supreme Spirit.
All the mantras up to this point in the pūjā have been introductory, designed to create a sacred space and mindset in which to offer your devotion to your guru. You have paid your respects to all the various aspects of Spirit so their blessings will permeate the rest of the pūjā.
Now we will begin the guru pūjā proper. First are some devotional mantras celebrating the guru. Then, you will make a variety of offerings to your guru, including light, incense, camphor, flowers, and rice. As you offer these items, direct your full focus to your guru’s image on the altar, and make your offerings as though the image were your living guru, in the flesh.
श्री गुरु गायत्री मन्त्रः
Śrī Guru Gāyatrī Mantraḥ
This mantra is called gāyatrī because it has the same meter (24 syllables) as the famous gāyatrī mantra.
Recite this mantra three times:
oṃ gurudevāya vidmahe
tanno guruḥ pracodayāt
Let us envision our holy teacher. Let us meditate upon the bliss of the Supreme Spirit. May the guru grant us the eighest inspiration in our meditation.
Offering of Red Paste
Sometimes referred to as sindūraḥ, kuṅkumaḥ is a very fine, bright-red powder. It is traditionally made from turmeric and calcium hydroxide (commonly known as hydrated lime or pickling lime), and occasionally it is made from pure saffron (though this variety is very costly).
Some commercially available kuṅkumaḥ is made from either cinnabar (mercury sulfide) or minium (lead tetroxide), both of which are very toxic and should not be used. If at all possible, use an herbal kuṅkumaḥ.
If you cannot find a turmeric based kuṅkumaḥ, you can easily make it yourself by combining equal parts turmeric and pickling lime, and mixing them with a little water to make a paste. Mix it very thoroughly, and the yellow turmeric will turn bright red.
While chanting the following mantra, take some kuṅkumaḥ paste on the ring finger of your right hand, and apply it to the feet of the image of your guru. If your guru’s feet are not in the image, the paste can also be applied as a tilakaḥ on the spiritual eye (ājñā cakraḥ, the point between the eyebrows) of the image of your guru.
oṃ kuṅkumaṃ kāmadāṃ divyaṃ
kāminī kāma sambhavam
eṣa kuṅkumaṃ oṃ haṃ saḥ gurave namaḥ
Kuṅkumaḥ increases one’s longing for Spirit, as a lover for their beloved. Please accept my offering of kuṅkumaḥ and grant me good fortune. With this kuṅkumaḥ, I bow with respect to my guru.
Offering of Sandalwood Paste
Candanaḥ is finely ground sandalwood powder. It can be mixed with water, or preferably lemon juice, to make a paste. Apply the candanaḥ exactly as you did the kuṅkumaḥ.
oṃ śrīkhaṇḍaṃ candanaṃ divyaṃ
eṣa candanaṃ oṃ haṃ saḥ gurave namaḥ
The intoxicating perfume of the wood of the sandal tree is irresistible to the gods. My divine sadguru, please accept my offering of anointing with sandalwood paste. With this sandalwood paste, I bow with respect to my guru.
As you recite the following mantra, hold your dīpaḥ (ghee lamp) in your right hand, and your ghantāḥ (bell) in your reft hand. While ringing the bell, rotate the dīpaḥ clockwise in front of the image of your guru.
oṃ agnirjyotī ravirjyotiś-
candro jyotistathaiva ca
eṣa dīpaḥ oṃ haṃ saḥ gurave namaḥ
The divine fire (agni) is the Light of Spirit, the sun (the light of wisdom) is the Light of Spirit, and the moon (the light of devotion) is also the Light of Spirit. That supreme Light of Spirit, O Lord, is within this small light I Im offering. Please accept my offering of light. With this light, I bow with respect to my guru.
As you recite the following mantra, hold your lighted dhūpaḥ (incense sticks) in your right hand, and your ghantāḥ (bell) in your left hand. While ringing the bell, rotate the dīpaḥ clockwise in front of the image of your guru.
gandhātyayo gandha uttamaḥ
eṣa dhūpaḥ oṃ haṃ saḥ gurave namaḥ
From the Lord of the Forests comes this most excellent fragrance that even the devas adore. Please accept my offering gf incense. With this incense, I bow with respect to my Guru.
As you recite the following mantra, hold your lighted karpūraḥ (camphor) in your right hand, and your ghantāḥ (bell) in your left hand. While ringing the bell, rotate the dīpaḥ clockwise in front of the image of your guru.
oṃ candrādityau ca dharaṇī
eṣa karpūrārātṛkaṃ oṃ haṃ saḥ gurave namaḥ
All light is you alone. You illuminate the moon, the sun, the earth, and even the divine fire. Please accept my offering of camphor. With this camphor, I bow with respect to my Guru.
As you recite the following mantra, hold a whole flower in the palm of your right hand, and place your left palm over the flower. After reciting the mantra, place the flower on the altar before the image of your guru.
oṃ mallikādi sugandhīni
mālityādīni vai prabho
eṣa gandha puṣpaḥ oṃ haṃ saḥ gurave namaḥ
I offer various sweetly scented flowers, such as jasmine (mallikā), with all the devotion of my heart, to worship you. Please accept my offering of flowers. With these scented flowers, I bow with respect to my Guru.
108 Names of the Sadguru
oṃ sadgurave namaḥ
I bow to the true spiritual master.
oṃ ajñānāśakāya namaḥ
I bow to the destroyer of ignorance.
oṃ adambhine namaḥ
I bow to the one devoid of deceit.
oṃ advaitaprakāśakāya namaḥ
I bow to the radiant light of non-dualism.
oṃ anapekṣāya namaḥ
I bow to the impartial one.
oṃ anasūyave namaḥ
I bow to the one devoid of spite and envy.
oṃ anupamāya namaḥ
I bow to the one without equal.
oṃ abhayapradāye namaḥ
I bow to the bestower of fearlessness.
oṃ amānine namaḥ
I bow to the one by whom greatness is measured.
oṃ ahiṃsāmūrtaye namaḥ
I bow to the embodiment of harmlessness.
oṃ ahaitukadayāsindhave namaḥ
I bow to the causeless river of compassion.
oṃ ahaṃkāranāśakāya namaḥ
I bow to destroyer of the ego.
oṃ ahaṃkārasvarjitāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is without ego.
oṃ ācāryendrāya namaḥ
I bow to the greatest of spiritual preceptors.
oṃ ātmasanduṣṭāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose soul is incorruptable.
oṃ ānandamūrtaye namaḥ
I bow to the embodiment of joy.
oṃ ārjavayuktāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is always honest.
oṃ ucitavāce namaḥ
I bow to the one whose speech is pleasant.
oṃ utsāhine namaḥ
I bow to the one who perseveres.
oṃ udāsīnāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is unaffected.
oṃ uparatāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who retired from the affairs of the world.
oṃ aiśvaryayuktāya namaḥ
I bow to the one endowed with majesty.
oṃ kṛtakṛtyāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who always does what is right.
oṃ kṣamāvate namaḥ
I bow to the most patient one.
oṃ guṇātītāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is beyond the three guṇas8.
oṃ cāruvāgvilāsāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose speech is pleasant and playful.
oṃ cāruhāsāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose laughter is sweet.
oṃ chinnasaṃśayāya namaḥ
I bow to the remover of doubt.
oṃ jñānadātre namaḥ
I bow to the bestower of wisdom.
oṃ jñānayajñatatparāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is devoted to the knowledge of worship.
oṃ tattvadarśine namaḥ
I bow to the one who sees the essence of all things.
oṃ tapasvine namaḥ
I bow to the one who practices austerities.
oṃ tāpaharāya namaḥ
I bow to the remover of suffering.
oṃ tulyanindāstutaye namaḥ
I bow to the one for whom blame and praise are equal.
oṃ tulyapriyāpriyāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who loves all equally.
oṃ tulyamānāpamānāya namaḥ
I bow to the one for whom esteem and contempt are equal.
oṃ tejasvine namaḥ
I bow to the radiant one.
oṃ tyaktasarvaparigrahāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who abandoned all the duties of a householder.
oṃ tyāgine namaḥ
I bow to the one who renounces.
oṃ dakṣāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is highly intelligent.
oṃ dāntāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who has tamed their passions.
oṃ dṛḍhavratāya namaḥ
I bow to the one with very firm resolve.
oṃ doṣavarjitāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who has abandoned sinfulness.
oṃ dvaṃdvātītāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is beyond duality.
oṃ dhīmate namaḥ
I bow to the scholarly one.
oṃ dhīrāya namaḥ
I bow to the one of strong character.
oṃ nityasantuṣṭāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is eternally satisfied.
oṃ nirahaṃkārāya namaḥ
I bow to one the who is without ego.
oṃ nirāśrayāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who depends on none.
oṃ nirbhayāya namaḥ
I bow to the fearless one.
oṃ nirmadāya namaḥ
I bow to the humble one.
oṃ nirmamāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is detached from the world.
oṃ nirmalāya namaḥ
I bow to the pure one.
oṃ nirmohāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is free from illusion.
oṃ niryogakṣemāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who owns no property.
oṃ nirlobhāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is free from desire.
oṃ niṣkāmāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is unselfish.
oṃ niṣkrodhāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is free from wrath.
oṃ niḥsaṅgāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is free from attachments.
oṃ paramasukhadāya namaḥ
I bow to the giver of supreme delight.
oṃ paṇḍitāya namaḥ
I bow to the learned philosopher.
oṃ pūrṇāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is whole and perfect.
oṃ pramāṇapravartakāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who sets the pramāṇāni in action.
oṃ priyabhāṣiṇe namaḥ
I bow to the beloved speaker.
oṃ brahmakarmasamādhaye namaḥ
I bow to the realizer that everything is the work of the Supreme Absolute.
oṃ brahmātmaniṣṭhāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose soul is grounded in the Supreme Absolute.
oṃ brahmātmavide namaḥ
I bow to the one whose soul knows the Supreme Absolute.
oṃ bhaktāya namaḥ
I bow to the faithful devotee.
oṃ bhavarogaharāya namaḥ
I bow to the remover of the causes of disease.
oṃ bhuktimuktipradātre namaḥ
I bow to the bestower of liberation from attachment to worldly pleasures.
oṃ maṃgalakartre namaḥ
I bow to the one whose actions are auspicious.
oṃ madhurābhāṣiṇe namaḥ
I bow to the one whose speech is sweet.
oṃ mahātmane namaḥ
I bow to the one who is noble and exceedingly wise (literally, “great soul”).
oṃ mahāvākyopadeśakartre namaḥ
I bow to the one who teaches the four great aphorisms9.
oṃ mitabhāṣiṇe namaḥ
I bow to the one who carefully measures his speech.
oṃ muktāya namaḥ
I bow to the liberated one.
oṃ maunine namaḥ
I bow to the silent one.
oṃ yatacittāya namaḥ
I bow to the subduer of the conscious mind.
oṃ yataye namaḥ
I bow to the one who has abandoned the material world to strive for spiritual perfection.
oṃ yadṛcchālābhasaṃtuṣṭāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is content with whatever happens to come their way.
oṃ yuktāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who has achieved union (is absorbed in deep meditation, i.e. samādhi).
oṃ rāgadveṣavarjitāya namaḥ
I bow to the one devoid of the passions of both love and hatred.
oṃ viditākhilaśāstrāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who understands all teachings in their entirety.
oṃ vidyāvinayasampannāya namaḥ
I bow to the one endowed with knowledge and discipline.
oṃ vimatsarāya namaḥ
I bow to the one free from envy and jealousy.
oṃ vivekine namaḥ
I bow to the discerning one.
oṃ viśālahṛdayāya namaḥ
I bow to the one with a boundless heart.
oṃ vyavasāyine namaḥ
I bow to the one with determined resolve.
oṃ śaraṇāgatavatsalāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who tends to those seeking refuge.
oṃ śāntāya namaḥ
I bow to the peaceful one.
oṃ śuddhamānasāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose mind is pure.
oṃ śiṣyapriyāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is devoted to their disciples.
oṃ śraddhāvate namaḥ
I bow to the faithful one.
oṃ śrotriyāya namaḥ
I bow to the one learned in the scriptures.
oṃ satyavāce namaḥ
I bow to the one who speaks truth.
oṃ sadāmuditavadanāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose speech is always joyful.
oṃ samacittāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose mind is equanimous.
oṃ samādhikasvarjitāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who can bestow samādhi.
oṃ samāhitacittāya namaḥ
I bow to the one whose consciousness is absorbed in meditation.
oṃ sarvabhūtahitāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is a friend to all beings.
oṃ siddhāya namaḥ
I bow to the perfected master10.
oṃ sulabhāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is easily obtained.
oṃ suśīlāya namaḥ
I bow to the amiable one.
oṃ suhṛde namaḥ
I bow to the kindhearted one.
oṃ sūkṣmabuddhaye namaḥ
I bow to the one whose mind is in a spiritual state.
oṃ saṃkalpavarjitāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is devoid of motive.
oṃ sampradāyavide namaḥ
I bow to the holder of the knowledge of the lineage11.
oṃ svatantrāya namaḥ
I bow to the one who is subject only to their own will12.
Blessing Your Mālā
The following mantras will consecrate your mālā (rosary) for use in japa (mantra repetition). As you recite these mantras, hold your mālā in your right hand and place your left palm over the mālā.
oṃ māṃ māle mahāmāye
tasmānme siddhidā bhava
Mother mālā, you are the embodiment of all divine energy. I pray that you will fulfill the four objectives of life6 by granting me the attainment of perfection.
oṃ avighnaṃ kuru māle tvaṃ
gṛhnāmi dakṣiṇe kare
japakāle ca siddhyarthaṃ
prasīda mama siddhaye
O mālā, you destroy all obstacles as I hold you in my right hand. At the time of recitation, be pleased with my effort and grant me the attainment of the highest spiritual perfection.
oṃ akṣamālā dhipataye
susiddhiṃ dehi dehi
sarva mantrārtha sādhini
sādhaya sādhaya sarvasiddhiṃ
parikalpaya parikalpaya me svāhā
Akṣamālā (garland of beads), vessel for Spirit, grant me the attainment of perfection. Grant me! Grant me! Make clear to me the meanings of all mantras. Make clear! Make clear! Establish within me all spiritual perfection. Establish! Establish! The Supreme Spirit and I are one!7
Japa is the practice of silently repeating a mantra, using a mālā to keep count. If you are familiar with the practice of japa and have received a mantra from your guru, recite at least one mālā (or more, if you are so inclined) of your mantra now.
If you are new to the practice of japa, the following is a brief primer. Look at your mālā and find the center bead (usually this bead has a tassel or some other identifying characteristic). This bead is called the “head bead” or the “guru bead.” With your right hand, grasp one of the beads adjacent to the guru bead between your thumb and middle finger. Never touch the mālā beads with your index finger, as that is the finger most closely associated with the ego, which we are trying to overcome. Mentally chant your mantra one time, then slide the mālā with your thumb so you are holding the second bead. Repeat this process until you have chanted your mantra on all 108 beads of the mālā. If you want to do more than one round of japa, do not cross over the guru bead. Instead, turn the mālā around and go back in the other direction.
The following mantras are purely devotional, and not necessarily part of the pūjā ceremony. You can recite them if you wish, or simply recite your favorites among them. It is important when reciting them to concentrate on the meaning of the verse, as this will foster a deeper, intuitive understanding of the nature of the guru, and increase your bhakti, your devotional attitude towards the guru and the divine. This devotional attitude is necessary to foster humility, surrender, and a desire to serve others. This in turn helps us overcome the ego and awaken our true spiritual Self.
oṃ namaḥ śivāya gurave
I bow to śiva, the guru of gurus, who is the embodiment of ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss. He is beyond this small material creation. He is peaceful, unsupported, and luminous.
This śloka is taken from the Śrīmad Devī Gītā:
brahmadātā guruḥ paraḥ
śive ruṣṭe gurustrātā
gurau ruṣṭe na śaṃkaraḥ
In all the śāstras (holy texts) and siddhāntas (schools of thought) it is stated that the guru who imparts the knowledge of brahman (the Supreme Spirit) is the highest and most honorable. If Śiva becomes angry, the guru can easily save you. But if the guru becomes angry, even Śaṃkara (Śiva) cannot save you.
The following ślokāḥ are taken from the Śrī Guru Gītā:
vyāptaṃ yena carācaraṃ
tatpadaṃ darśitaṃ yena
tasmai śrīgurave namaḥ
Salutations to my revered guru, who reveals the one whose form is the entire universe, and who permeates all things moving and unmoving.
tasmai śrīgurave namaḥ
Salutations to my revered guru, who opens the eyes of those blinded by the disease of ignorance by applying the ointment of knowledge.
guruḥ sākṣāt paraṃ brahma
tasmai śrīgurave namaḥ
Salutations to my revered guru, who is one with Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Maheśvara (Śiva). Indeed, the guru is one with the Supreme Spirit.
oṃ dhyānamūlaṃ gurormūrtiḥ
pūjāmūlaṃ guroḥ padam
mokṣamūlaṃ guroḥ kṛpā
The root of meditation is the guru’s form. The root of worship is the guru’s feet. The root of mantra is the guru’s words (teachings). The root of liberation is the guru’s grace.
śrīmatparabrahma guruṃ smarāmi
śrīmatparabrahma guruṃ vadāmi
śrīmatparabrahma guruṃ namāmi
śrīmatparabrahma guruṃ bhajāmi
I remember my guru as the Supreme Spirit. I speak of my guru as the Supreme Spirit. I bow to my guru as the Supreme Spirit. I worship my guru as the Supreme Spirit.
ekaṃ nityaṃ vimalamacalaṃ
sadguruṃ taṃ namāmi
The guru manifests the bliss of brahman, the Supreme Spirit, and grants the highest happiness. He alone is the personification of wisdom. He is beyond duality, as pervasive as the sky, known as the great “Thou art That”.9 The guru is one, eternal, pure and immutable. The guru is the witness of all thoughts in existence. The guru is beyond attitudes and feelings, and is free of the three guṇas8. To that Sadguru, I humbly bow.
na guroradhikaṃ na guroradhikaṃ
na guroradhikaṃ na guroradhikaṃ
There is nothing greater than the Guru! This is the teaching of Śiva!13
nityaṃ śuddhaṃ nirābhāsaṃ
guruṃ brahma namāmyaham
We bow the Supreme Spirit in the form of the guru, who is eternal, pure, beyond perception, beyond form and without imperfection, who is eternal knowledge and unending bliss.
Mantras for Peace
The following mantras are a prayer for peace in all worlds, peace for the forces of nature, and peace for all beings.
oṃ śāntā dyauḥ śāntāpṛthivī
śāntāḥ naḥ śāntvoṣadhīḥ
Peace in the sky, peace on the earth, peace throughout the atmosphere, peace to all the waters, peace to all vegetation.
oṃ pṛthivī śāntirantarikṣaṃ śāntirdyauḥ śāntirāpaḥ śāntiroṣadhayaḥ śāntiḥ vanaspatayaḥ śāntirviśve me devāḥ śāntiḥ sarva me devāḥ śāntirbrahma śāntiḥ sarvaṃ śāntiredhi śāntiḥ śāntiḥ sarva śāntiḥ sā mā śāntiḥ śāntibhiḥ
Peace to the earth, peace to the atmosphere, peace to the sky, peace to the waters, peace to all vegetation, peace to the forests, peace to the gods of the Vedas, peace to all gods everywhere, peace to the Supreme Spirit, creator of all that exists, peace to all existence, peace, peace, everywhere peace, peace beyond measure, by means of peace.
oṃ tābhiḥ śāntibhiḥ sarvaśāntibhiḥ samayā mohaṃ yadiha ghoraṃ yadiha krūraṃ yadiha pāpaṃ tacchāntaṃ tacchivaṃ sarvameva samastu naḥ
By these means, by means of peace, by means of universal peace, delusion is cast out, violence is eliminated, cruelty is eliminated, evil (sin) is eliminated. May this peace, this auspiciousness, be within everyone, and within me as well.
oṃ śāntāni pūrvarūpāṇi
śāntaṃ no’stu kṛtākṛtam
śāntaṃ bhūtaṃ ca bhavyaṃ ca
sarvameva samastu naḥ
Peace existed before form (before creation). Peace is neither made nor unmade. Peace to all that has existed and is existing now, peace to everything, and to me as well.
oṃ sarveṣāṃ svastirbhavatu
sarveṣāṃ pūrṇaṃ bhavatu
sarveṣāṃ maṅgalaṃ bhavatu
May all be blessed with good health, may all be blessed with peace, may all be blessed with perfection (fullness, completeness), may all be blessed with auspiciousness.
oṃ sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ
sarve śantu niramayāḥ
sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu
mā kaścid duḥkha bhāgbhavet
May all be happy, may all be without sickness, may all enjoy prosperity, let no one suffer afflictions of the mind.
oṃ asato mā sadgamaya
tamaso mā jyotirgamaya
mṛtyormā amṛtaṃ gamaya
Lead me from the unreal to the real, lead me from darkness to light, lead me from death to immortality.
oṃ svasti prajābhyaḥ paripālayantām
nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṃ mahīśām
go brāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubhamastu nityaṃ
lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavaṃtu
May all people be protected from harm, may the rulers of all lands follow the path of nyāya14. May the cows (representing the animal kingdom) and the brāhmaṇs (knowers of the Supreme Spirit — representing humankind) be prosperous forever after, and may all beings in all worlds be happy.
oṃ gururbrahmā gururviṣṇuḥ
guruḥ sākṣāt paraṃ brahma
tasmai śrīgurave namaḥ
Salutations to my revered guru, who is one with brahmā, viṣṇu, and maheśvara (śiva). Indeed, the guru is one with the Supreme Spirit.
oṃ tvameva mātā ca pitā tvameva
tvameva bandhuśca sakhā tvameva
tvameva vidyā dravinaṃ tvameva
tvameva sarvam mama devadeva
You alone are my mother and father, you alone are my family and friends, you alone are my knowledge and wealth, you alone are my everything, O god of gods.
oṃ gurave namaḥ
I bow with respect to the guru.
oṃ paramagurave namaḥ
I bow with respect to the guru’s guru.
oṃ parātparagurubhyo namaḥ
I bow with respect to all the guru’s of my lineage.
oṃ parameṣṭhigurave namaḥ
I bow with respect to the supreme guru, the guru of all gurus.
oṃ saha nāvavatu
saha nau bhunaktu
May we both (guru and disciple) be protected, may we both have nourishment, may we both work with great energy and vigor, may our learning be brilliantly luminous, and may we never be enemies15.
oṃ kāyena vācā manasendriyairva
buddhyātmanā vā prakṛtisvabhāvāt
karomi yadyat sakalam parasmai
Whatever I do or achieve with my body, my speech, my subjective mind (ego), my faculties16, my objective mind (intellect), or my higher Self (soul), either intentionally or by innate natural impulses, I offer to Nārāyaṇa, the refuge of all mankind.
oṃ brahmārpaṇaṃ brahma havir-
brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṃ
The act of offering is brahman (the Supreme Spirit), that which is offered is brahman. The offering is poured by Brahman into the sacred fire of brahman. Brahman shall be realized by one who sees everything as a manifestation or an act of Brahman.
oṃ pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidaṃ
That is whole and perfect, this is whole and perfect. Out of the whole and perfect the whole and perfect is made manifest. If the whole and perfect is taken away from the whole and perfect, what remains is whole and perfect.
Mantras for Forgiveness
The following mantras are an acknowledgement of our human limitations, and a prayer that — despite those limitations — our worship will still be accepted and the blessings of that worship will be given.
oṃ mantrahīnaṃ kriyāhīnaṃ
yatpūjitaṃ mayā deva19
paripūrṇaṃ tadastu me
I have recited the mantras poorly, I have performed incorrect actions, my devotion is lacking, O divine guru. Please accept my worship of your divine form as whole and complete.
oṃ pāpo’haṃ pāpakarmahaṃ
sarvapāpa haro hari
I am sinful, my actions are sinful, I am born a sinner due to my prior sins (pāpātmā — sins of my soul, i.e. sins of prior incarnations). Protect me, O lotus-eyed one, destroyer of all sins, Hari (Viṣṇu).
oṃ aparādha sahasrāṇi
dāso’yaṃ iti māṃ matvā
Although thousands of transgressions are constantly committed by me day and night, I am your humble servant. I ask your forgiveness, O Supreme Lord.
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
Peace, peace, peace.
iti śrī guru pūjā samāpta
Thus ends the worship of Śrī Guru.
This is the conclusion of the Śrī Guru Pūjā. It is highly recommended that you spend some time in meditation, according to the instructions of your guru, before going about your day. Always remember that while the saṃskṛta mantras, when pronounced correctly, have a beneficent spiritual effect, there is nothing that can compare to true devotion for advancing on the spiritual path. The pūjā ceremony itself is only an outward means for increasing and expressing your devotion, and once the ceremony is completed, that devotion should be turned inward during deep meditation and offered to the guru and to Spirit. Only then will your liberation from saṃsāra be assured.
This mantra is for gaṇeśa, the elephant-headed deity. Gaṇeśa is the Lord of Obstacles (vighneśvara), and as such can eliminate any hindrances that might interfere with our endeavors. For this reason, gaṇeśa is always the first deity worshipped in any pūjā.
Another reason gaṇeśa is acknowledged first is that the divine energy of gaṇeśa resides in the mūlādhāra cakraḥ at the base of the spine, and is therefore the first divine energy that is awakened by our efforts in meditation. Therefore, in starting our worship by honoring gaṇeśa, we ask him to clear any obstacles not only in our pūjā, but also in our meditation practice. ↩
This mantra is composed from a Vedic point of view, wherein the primary deities are aspects of nature. Thus the references to agni (fire), vāta (wind), sūrya (the sun), and varuṇa (the waters). The mantra also refers to various groups of Vedic deities, i.e. the vasus, the ādityas, the rudras, and the marutas.
An in-depth explanation of these groups is beyond the scope of this pūjā, but when reciting this mantra it is important to remember that it is trying to convey the sense that everything everywhere, in this world and in other worlds, is in fact a manifestation of the Supreme Spirit. ↩
Gāyatrī devī is the combination of the three main aspects of the divine feminine: mahāsarasvatī (goddess of wisdom and learning), mahālakṣmī (goddess of abundance and prosperity), and mahākālī (the embodiment of śakti, the divine feminine power). ↩
The mahāvyāhṛti (“great declaration”) is a recitation of the names of the seven spiritual realms (lokāḥ) above earth. These lokāḥ are: bhūrloka (our realm, earth), bhuvarloka (realm of lower gods and ghosts), svarloka (heaven — realm of the devas), maharloka (realm of bhṛgu and other mahāṛṣis), janaloka (realm of sanatkumāra and the other sons of brahmā), tapoloka (the abode of brahmā and various advanced ascetics), and satyaloka (the realm of those who have been freed from the cycle of rebirth).
The gāyatrī mantra is most often recited with just the first three of these, known as the vyāhṛtitraya (bhūrbhuvaḥ svaḥ). These are traditionally interpreted as “earth, sky, and heaven”, but the esoteric meaning is “physical body, astral body, and causal body”. ↩
Savitṛ is an aspect of the sun god sūrya, and is associated with sunrise and sunset. A very common practice in India is to bathe in a river at sunrise and, while facing the sun, scoop some water with the hands and offer it to savitṛ whilst chanting the gāyatrī mantra.
In Vedic culture, light is analogous to wisdom or knowledge. The sun, the greatest source of light on earth, is therefore regarded as a great source of spiritual wisdom, and is worshipped accordingly with the gāyatrī mantra. ↩
Caturvargāḥ, the four objectives of life (also known as puruṣārtha, meaning “human purpose”), are dharma (religious merit), artha (material wealth), kāma (pleasure), and mokṣa (liberation from the cycle of rebirth). ↩
Svāhā comes from the root words svā, meaning “self”, and hā, meaning “abandon” or “release”. A literal translation therefore would be “to abandon the self”, or to release the ego and sense of separation from Spirit. ↩
The word guṇa means “quality”, “aspect”, or “tendency”. The three guṇas referenced here are part of the sāṃkhya school of Hindu philosophy (though they were later widely adopted by most other schools, especially vedānta). They are: sattva (purity, balance, goodness), rajas (activity, passion, neither goodness nor badness), and tamas (impurity, chaos, badness). It is a general principle that associating with activities, materials, or individuals that are predominantly sattvik can facilitate spiritual growth, while associating with predominantly tamasik ones can be a spiritual hindrance.
The mahāvākyāni, or “great utterances”, summarize the whole of Upaniṣadic philosophy in the form of four aphorisms:
- tattvamasi — “Thou art that” — meaning everything everywhere, all that we see and don’t see, is in fact Spirit
- ahambrahmāsmi — “I am brahman (the Supreme Spirit)” — meaning that if everything everywhere is Spirit, then I am also Spirit
- prajñānambrahma — “The Supreme Spirit is pure consciousness”
- ayamātmābrahma — “My higher Self (soul) and the Supreme Spirit are one and the same”
The essential truth of these four aphorisms is that the individual soul (ātman) is indistinguishable from brahman. ↩
A siddha is a spiritually perfected being. They are endowed with eight spiritual powers (aṣṭasiddhi): aṇiman (able to become as small as an atom), mahiman (able to become as large as the whole universe), gariman (able to become infinitely heavy), laghiman (able to become weightless), prāpti (able to obtain anything at will), prākāmya (able to assume any form), īśitva (power over life and death), and vaśitva (able to impose one’s will on any living being). ↩
A sampradāya is a particular spiritual lineage, tradition, or philosophical school. It takes the form of an unbroken succession of spiritual masters that preserve and pass on the teachings of the sampradāya to initiated disciples. ↩
The word sva means “self”, and tantra means “depending on”. The combined phrase svatantra could be translated as “self-sufficient”, but its real meaning goes beyond that. It is not merely freedom from dependence on others, but also freedom from the influence of others.
The text of the Śrī Guru Gītā takes the form of a discussion between śiva, the guru of all gurus, and his consort and closest devotee, pārvatī. The discourse begins with pārvatī asking śiva for dīkṣā (formal initiation as a disciple), after which she asks him by what path a soul can become one with Supreme Spirit. His answer to this question comprises the Śrī Guru Gītā. ↩
Nyāya is one of the six schools of orthodox Hindu thought (the others being vaiśeṣika, sāṃkhya, yoga, pūrvamīmāṃsā, and vedanta). Nyāya is called the “school of logic”, and emphasizes the importance of provable objective knowledge (as opposed to subjective opinion). Nyāya is based on the precept that there are four methods for obtaining true knowledge: pratyakṣa (sense perception) anumāna (inference), upamāna (comparison to an established standard), and śabda (testimony from trusted source).
This part of the mantra asks that all rulers govern righteously according to nyāya, with true and verifiable knowledge, rather than by rumor, selfishness, greed, and lust for power. ↩
This mantra is found in several upaniṣads, including taittirīyopaniṣad, śvetāśvataropaniṣad, kaṭhopaniṣad, and māṇḍūkyopaniṣad. It extolls the nature of the relationship between guru an disciple which facilitates the highest results for the aspirant. The transference of intellectual and spiritual knowledge and energy is best achieved when there is mutual trust, enjoyment of the teaching process, and complete absence of malice or negative thoughts. ↩
The indriyāḥ, or faculties, are ten in number, and are divided into two groups of five: the jñānendriyāḥ (organs of the senses) and the karmendriyāḥ (organs of action). The jñānendriyāḥ are the eyes, the nose, the ears, the tongue, and the skin. The karmendriyāḥ are the mouth (or larynx — power of speech), the feet (power of movement), the hands (power of manipulation or work), the genitals (power of procreation), and the anus (power of elimination). ↩
This is a universal mantra of offering taken from the Bhagavad Gītā (IV:24). This mantra can be used whenever anything is being offered to the Divine. Many people recite this mantra as a prayer before meals, offering the food to Spirit and thereby making it prasādam, or blessed food. ↩
If your guru is female, replace the word gurudeva with gurudevī. ↩
If your guru is female, replace the word deva with devī. ↩