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Thread: Restrictions on Images in Home Worship

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    Restrictions on Images in Home Worship

    Namaste,


    I've read that some ancient treatises contain restrictions for mūrtis (images) in pūjā (ritual worship, including offerings) in the home. One limit is said to be that the image in the home may be no greater than 14 finger breadths or 10 inches (in American terms) in height, if it is to be involved in pūjā. Some say the limit works out to 22 centimeters, which is a bit smaller. It is also said that the image must be made of metal, such as bronze, for example. Others say stone images are acceptable. One may have a taller statue of a deity in the home, perhaps for prayer, but not for pūjā, it is said. One exception to the rules is the śālagrāma, a sacred stone from the Gaṇḍakī River that is a mūrti or arcāvatāra (incarnation as an image or object to be worshiped) of śrī viṣṇu. The liṅga of śrī śiva seems to be another exception.


    Is this true for everyone? Are these restrictions universal or just part of a specific sampradāya (tradition) or group of traditions? I'm interested in hearing from everyone who is experienced in traditional Hindu home worship in any tradition or familiar with the relevant texts. My impression is that some traditions do not observe these limits, because Ram Dass does not appear to be concerned with them in his description of pūjā and a detailed pūjā guide from a particular guru doesn't seem to be concerned with them either.


    Also, which restrictions, if any, do you observe in the placement and size of your ghar mandir (home temple for the images)?


    Thank you in advance to the kind person with the answers.


    praṇām
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: Restrictions on Images in Home Worship

    Namaste,


    I would like to rephrase my questions to encourage more of a response. I have a beautiful image of lakṣmī nārāyaṇa, traditional in appearance, made of resin, that I would like to be the focus of my pūjā. If you measure it from the bottom of the lotus, not counting the wooden base, to the top of the middle head of ādi śeṣa, it comes to about 10.75 inches or 27.3 centimeters. If a "fingerbreadth" (aṅgula or mānāṅgula) means 1.763 centimeters, as some authorities say, then it is 15.48 fingerbreadths tall. If the unit means 1.905 cm instead, as others have argued, then it is 14.33 fingerbreadths in height. If it means the width of the middle bone of my own middle finger, as others say, then the image is 13.65 fingerbreadths high. Do you think it is suitable for pūjā? Would it be wrong to involve it in pūjā?


    One (or more) of the vāstu śāstra treatises, which deal with architecture, or śilpa śāstra manuals, dealing with arts such as sculpture or painting, says that a mūrti or sacred image in the home should not exceed 14 aṅgulas in height. However, there is disagreement over what this means in terms of modern units of measurement and these treatises preserve diverse regional traditions, according to the regions in which they were written. Therefore, the advice in one such text often differs from that in another. Moreover, some traditions these days do not seem to be as concerned with the height of images in the home as others. Some modern authorities don't mention height at all. I haven't yet committed to a specific tradition, so perhaps this gives me greater freedom of choice. What do you think?


    What would you do?


    I would be grateful for any sincere and knowledgeable input from the members here.


    praṇām



    Last edited by anucarh; 27 November 2015 at 11:58 PM. Reason: correction of punctuation
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: Restrictions on Images in Home Worship

    Vannakkam anucarh: I know very little but I can tell you the guidelines and suggestions in my sampradaya. We believe large murthies can 'take over' a house, and the place will become more a House of God (temple) than what it's intended for. But there is no real definition in terms of measurement, and it was more of a feeling. The other thing was always that stone or metal worked best. The way to decide, for us, is the intuitive feeling upon entering the shrine room. We are taught to trust that.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Restrictions on Images in Home Worship

    Namaste,

    My opinion is based on my tradition, Advaita VedAnta :

    It is all in your mind. You must feel comfortable with the measure of the deity ... that is all ! Hindu Dharma have many scriptures saying a lot of varying things. It is better to stick to what Vedas/VedAnta, Bhagwad Gita and similar authoritative scriptures say in case of such confusion. Image of God is just a means to connect to God which is Infinite and everywhere. God has no form and yet all forms are His. But it all depends upon what you want to believe in. There is no absolute right or wrong here.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  5. #5

    Re: Restrictions on Images in Home Worship

    Namaste Anucarh ji

    I have also heard that the mUrti you bring home for pUjA should be
    a) made of metal as prescribed in shastra -- ideally pancha-dhAtu (5 metals) if not, brass
    b) should not be more that 6 inches tall
    c) Abhishek mUrtis should ideally be 3 inches tall (quite disappointing , I know)

    Who would not want to get a large tall KAnhA home?

    A few things that may be possible reasons for such instructions

    1. A tall mUrti will be heavier and handling i,e. lifting and placing in the tAmhaN (reseptacle dish) for abhishek snAna can accidentally make the devatA slip from your hand, topple due to more weight and smaller base
    2. Metal or pancha-dhAtU because stone can chip off and break, resin can wear off of crack, glass and fiber can break, crack...
    3. Wood can crack and it cannot have liquids poured on it i.e. no abhishek, no wet gandha , chandan , tilak, wet kumkum, wet cloth, nothing. (Jagannath will be an exception to this -- special pUja on painted mUrti)

    4. Overall a smaller mUrti is easier to handle and lesser prone to aparAdh (offenses to the Deity) by accidental toppling due to the pujAri's hand trying to reach for some item (I know this is not convincing but remember in India the entire country has Hindu households all over that will have a pUja - ghar where pUja is performed daily, and these families do this alongside their daily life work, duties, regime, school, social life, whatever lifestyle)

    5. Somehow the 3-inch pUjA mUrtis you find in a typical home puja-ghar do not have any restrictions of prANa-prathishThA i.e.
    installation by nvoking paramAtmA/Deity in the mUrti, and "inauguration"
    A simple casual homely "AvAhan" in daily puja is enough.
    Whereas, for a really large mUrtI (Let us say our dream-mUrtI is 4 , 5, 6 feet tall!) will require a much much higher level of commitment on the part of the pujAri -- therefore, has to be properly "installed" with prAN-pratishThA vidhi from a knowledgable Temple priest.
    What EM ji said above makes full sense -- that such a mUrtI -- beautiful as it may be --- will take over the house -- ironically while this is what we want and dream of doing all day --- is not possible for someone who goes out and works in the world.

    The entire household in that case has to be dedicated and devoted to the Lord in the house and the house then becomes open to other devotees for darshan -- they live for others.

    There are people who have a big home mandir room with a really large mUrtI -- but typically there exists an alternate smaller (6 inch) replica in metal for the daily abhishek and the large one is sometimes not even dressed-up daily -- perhaps weekly. This is typically the case in many Temples as well, that are open to public.



    Last edited by smaranam; 29 November 2015 at 07:32 PM. Reason: added meanings - pran pratishtha, abhishek; spelling/typo;
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

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    Re: Restrictions on Images in Home Worship

    Namaste,


    Thank you all very much for your help, EM ji, devotee ji, and smaranam ji. I appreciate all of your comments and thoughts. I was having difficulty deciding what to do, but now I know how I will proceed.


    praṇām
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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