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satay
05 July 2006, 12:48 PM
“Worshipping the formless reality by unthought thought is the best kind of worship. But when one is not fit for such formless worship of God, worship of form alone is suitable. Formless worship is possible only for people who are devoid of the ego-form. Know that all the worship done by people who possess the ego-form is only worship of form.”
-Sri Ramana Maharshi

Murti: (Sanskrit) “Form; manifestation, embodiment, personification.” An image or icon of God used during worship.

Bhagwan says (chapter 12 shloka 5),
“kleso 'dhikataras tesam
avyaktasakta-cetasam
avyakta hi gatir duhkham
dehavadbhir avapyate”

Advancement (or self realization) is difficult for those who fix their mind on the impersonal, unmanifest, eternal being; because, comprehension of the unmanifest by embodied being is attained by difficulty.

Since most of us cannot concentrate the mind on the abstract form of God, we need a ‘murti’ to focus our mind and offer our worship to the Supreme Being.

Prana Pratistha

Murtis installed in a temple are not just dead material. They are made according to instructions of silpasastra and then installed by a Brahmin. During the installation, a ceremony called ‘prana pratisthaa’ is performed. Prana Pratishta is the ceremony of installation of life force in the mruthi. The murti remains a dead material and unfit object of worship until it is infused with ‘life’ using the ceremony.

After the prana pratishtha has been performed, the murti becomes alive with spiritual energy and fit for giving out ‘vardana’ (boons) and granting material wishes of the worshipper.

To such a living form of a Deity is the worship offered, in which not only the mind and heart but the whole body of the worshipper participates. Traditionally this worship has sixteen stages:
1. Asana (seating of the image)
2. Svaagat (welcome of the Deity)
3. Paadya - water to cleanse the feet
4. Arghya -offerings
5. Aachman - water for sipping and cleaning the lips
6. Aachman offered again
7. Madhuparka - honey, ghee, milk and curds
8. Snaan - water to bathe the Deity
9. Vastra - garments
10. Aabharana ( ornaments)
11. Gandha - sandal paste or perfume
12. Pushpa - flowers
13. Dhupa - incense
14. Dipa – light

Some people will say that since God is everywhere I can show my disrespect by extending my feet towards the murti or by gossiping in the puja room. This is sheer nonsense and such people should be thrown out of the puja room.

A murti installed in a temple is the embodiment of the supreme and is ‘alive’ for those who want to connect to the spiritual energy of the supreme. Those who choose to show disrespect and those who silently accept the behaviour or worse yet make alibi to support the disrespecting behaviour, are only collecting negative karma.

sources: Wikipedia and other sites

satay
05 July 2006, 02:38 PM
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule of asana in the puja room. For example, I have seen many old women and men sitting on a chair along with a wall towards the back of the puja room. For those who have a medical problem or due to old age can not sit in a nice asana with crossed legs there are chairs available.

This exception however does not imply that those fit or unfit to sit in a nice asana can show the underside of their feet to the murti!! For older people there are chairs to sit on. and for those with broken legs who must stretch them out and keep them straight that way should strech them away from the murti!

My original observation in the temple was of a 'young' person who seemed to have all his faculties and with both legs fully working. First I thought he is born here in the west so he may not know this rule but when I requested him to sit nicely and stop talking during the puja; he and his parents reacted like idiots. Surprised to see that some people subscribe to this behvaiour and even support it! :doh:

I would like to ask the people who support this idea of insulting the live spirit of God in the murti; please stop supporting such nonsense!

Enough said!

Sudarshan
06 July 2006, 06:05 AM
Some people will say that since God is everywhere I can show my disrespect by extending my feet towards the murti or by gossiping in the puja room. This is sheer nonsense and such people should be thrown out of the puja room.

A murti installed in a temple is the embodiment of the supreme and is ‘alive’ for those who want to connect to the spiritual energy of the supreme. Those who choose to show disrespect and those who silently accept the behaviour or worse yet make alibi to support the disrespecting behaviour, are only collecting negative karma.


Dont get too emotional.;)

This is all mitya. Why bother with Brahman disrespecting Brahman? ;)

satay
06 July 2006, 10:27 AM
Dont get too emotional.;)

This is all mitya. Why bother with Brahman disrespecting Brahman? ;)

(There is no need to be sarcastic. This is not a discussion on advaita and dvaita for me. Neither you are advaitin nor am I but I will answer it...)

So with that type of thinking we should not care when a missionary puts our lord's picture on the toilet seat.

why bother establishing or defending dharma (as your signature suggests)?

If everyone is a 'dog' or 'god' then why not allow other 'dogs' to come in and let them establish their 'dharma' right in our house...

and while we are at it...let's all start wearing chooris and start wearing a sari! :eek:

TruthSeeker
07 July 2006, 05:12 AM
That would be a good idea. Advaita should not become pseudo-Advaita.

kimtadbrahma
07 July 2006, 08:07 AM
Namaste Satay. In our sangh we have had a very honest debate of this issue. There were different views but no one would advocate disrespect of the murti. There is a (true I think) story of Swami Vivekananda who was talking with a king who was adamantly opposed to murti puja. Swamiji asked the king's minister to spit at the king's picture and of course the man refused saying that he saw the picture as in some way representing the actual king. Swami Vivekananda then explained that this is why respect should always be shown to the murti.

From our discussions two broad opinions emerged. Some believed that the murti was just a symbol that we need to create because we cannot conceptualise the nirguna Brahman. God is no more present in the murti than he is in any rock or tree, but as a symbol it helps us to focus the mind. Others disagreed and referred to the prana pratishtha rituals, which transform the image from ordinary stone into an embodiment of the divine. Just as Sri Krishna is a descent of Narayan so the murti is a manifestation of God in this world, appearing out of his mercy to allow us to worship his real, manifest presence. The former view regards the murti as a man-made symbol, an educational tool, the latter view regards the murti as an actual form of God.

Both views, I think, form a part of the diversity of Hindu belief and practice and in either case deep respect is certainly a requirement.