Niyama 5 - Ishvarapujana, Worship

Bodhinatha speaks on the niyama of Ishvarapujana, worship of the Gods. Cultivate devotion by having a home shrine so that God and the Gods live with you all day long. Worship is a sophisticated form of communication. A puja done in the home each morning uplifts you for the entire day. It can be ever so simple or complex, and it can be performed by anyone. The only exception Gurudeva made was not to perform puja or japa for 31 days following a strong outburst of anger. Worship is performed in the early morning before the day begins.

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Questions? Bodhinatha is the successor of "Gurudeva," Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. If you have questions on subjects about spiritual life you will find answers in Gurudeva's books and teachings. Learn about ways to study these teachings by visiting The Master Course site or writing to mastercourse@hindu.org.

Unedited Transcript:

We are working on a series of talks on 'Good Conduct', specifically lessons on the 'Ten Yamas' and the 'Ten Niyamas', the restraints and observances of Hinduism. The lessons are going abroad. The material is being used at the Hindu Center in Singapore, the material is used in classes there. As well as, a number of members in Malaysia are using the material for their classes there.

Today's lesson on 'Good Conduct' is on the fifth Niyama of Isvarapujana, which is to cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation. Set aside one room of your home as God's shrine. Offer fruit, flowers or food daily. Learn a simple puja and the chants. Meditate after each puja. Visit your shrine before and after leaving the house. Worship in heartfelt devotion, clearing the inner channels to God, Gods and Guru, so their grace flows toward you and loved ones.

Let's look at some examples, illustrating the practice of this Niyama.

First example: Hindus in Bali have an interesting custom. On first seeing one another in the morning, instead of saying, "Good morning!", they ask a question, "Have you worshipped?", which of course is reminding everyone of the importance of the morning worship at the home shrine.

Second example: A Hindu family moved from a two to a three bedroom apartment. The main reason for the move was to be able to set aside an entire room for their home shrine, rather than just having the shrine in a corner of the living room.

Third example: A young man learned a very simple puja from a Hindu elder, who lived nearby. He now peforms the puja every morning before breakfast and finds it puts him in a more religious mood for facing the day.

Fourth example: A Hindu family involves all members of the family in the morning worship. The children gather flowers from the home's garden. Mom cooks a special rice dish to be offered, which is eaten by all during breakfast. Dad conducts the puja, after which they all sit together for a few minutes of silent meditation.

All of the Niyamas focus on expressing the refined soul qualities within each of us. In the case of Isvarapujana, worship of the Lord, the divine quality we are expressing is becoming closer to God, Gods and Guru through performing ceremonial worship at our home shrine.

Gurudeva defined worship in a very insightful way as communicating on a very high level. A truly sophisticated form of "channeling," as New Age people might say. A clairvoyant or clairaudient experience, as mystics would describe it. Or, heart-felt love interchanged between Deity and devotee, as the ordinary Hindu would describe it.

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