Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"The Beauty and Science of Temple Culture" Significance of Parikrama

Why do we do Parikrama?

Parikrama, also known as Pradakshina or circumambulation is a regular religious activity for the one who daily visits the temple. When we are blessed with Darshan, special Pooja or other different religious ceremonies, we walk circumambulating the idol, reciting verses silently or singing loudly the glories of God. This is known as Parikrama. 

Parikrama is not just a ritual but it also has a deep devotional sentiment and significance!

We cannot draw a circle without a center point. God is the center of our entire existence. Parikrama reminds us this very very important point of devotional life! When we get out of the temple and get engaged in the daily chores, we should keep the God in our center. We should always remember that what we do is the God's energy and inspiration which empower us. We are just an instrument. It is only His pure Grace that we can do whatever we do, whatever we gain, whatever we achieve.

Wherever we go in this world which is so wide and full of varieties, our center should be God. We should live the life which moves around God, the center.

Parikrama also reminds us the principle of a circle. Every point in the circle is equidistant from the center. This indicates that when God is the center of the whole existence, we all are equidistant from Him. We all are equally close to God. Whoever, wherever and whatever we are, God's grace flows to everyone at the same pace, time, quantity, and quality. God showers His Grace without any partiality!

The idols of God are situated in the middle of the temple. They continuously spread divine vibrations in the entire ambiance of the temple. Maximum vibrations stay accumulated in this area. By circumambulating the idols, devotees absorb maximum devotional vibrations.

yaani kaani cha papani
janmantar krutaani cha
taani taani vinashyanti
pradakshina pade pade

"All the sins committed by an individual from innumerable past births are destroyed by each step taken whilst doing Pradakshina."
This verse also explains the importance of Parikrama.

Sing with great while circumambulation:
"Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare!
 Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare!!"


"The Beauty and Science of Temple Culture' Significance of Arati

After every spiritual discourse, kirtans, religious ritual or any other ceremony, we unfailingly end up with an Arati. Even when welcoming the God or a saint we first offer them Arati. By offering Arati, we honor them and their arrival. Thus Arati is an inseparable part of spiritual ceremonies!

Why do we offer Arati?
For Arati we lit one or more lamps with ghee or oil and put them in a well- decorated plate. Then we rotate the Arati clockwise, circling the full form of our beloved deities. The beautiful forms illuminate with Arati in front of us and that adds to the beauty and emotions in our hearts. At the end of the Arati, we place our palms on the lamp and then take the same palms and put on our eyes, forehead and on the top of the head. We are all familiar with this process of Arati since the time of our childhood. We do it ritually every time we are in the temple, but how many of us know the reason behind this spiritual activity?

When we offer the Arati to the Lord, in circling movement, and the light illuminates the idols in a divine manner, our eyes, mind, and heart automatically get focused on to the idols and these Darshans are done with the deep concentration. Thus it becomes a meditation with open eyes!! It also facilitated Roop Dhyan process because of the visual memory we create of our idols.

At the end of Arati, when we put our palms on the top of it and then take the palms to our eyes and forehead, we are praying that "May the light that illumined the Lord, lights up my vision, may my vision be divine and my thoughts noble and beautiful."

The only rule of Bhakti is to develop devotional and spiritual sentiments towards God. The singing of Arati should also be done believing that the God Himself is standing in front of us. And that we are calling out for Him by singing this Arati. The more intense the sentiment one has while doing Arati, the faster the prayers reach to God.

Arati is mostly accompanied by singing, clapping, ringing the bells, blowing a conch and playing many other musical instruments like drums etc. When the Aarti is done by a group of people with all other musical instruments then a more powerful divine atmosphere is created. This is a beautiful way to add joy and cheer to the devotional practices. This deeply purifies every person present there, along with the place of Aarti.

The only intention here in singing the melodies of devotion accompanied with musical instruments is to PLEASE GOD! Once the intent is pure and the sentiments are high, the purpose is automatically achieved.

Keeping all these significant aspects of Arati, sing this divinely melodious Arati of Shree Radha Krishna!