During puja the pujari, the devotion and worship of the devotees and the auspiciousness of the day combine to help the Deity manifest and bless everyone. The prana we give to the Deity during devotion comes back to us, purifying our aura, during arati.
Master Course, Merging with Siva, Lesson 147 and Lesson 140
[Bodhinatha reads from Merging with Siva, but the actual audio only begins at the end of his reading and excerpt from Merging with Siva, Lesson 140]
[Text that Bodhinatha read aloud:
From Lesson 147 from Merging with Siva. Unconditional Surrender. What do we mean by internalizing worship? In external worship we are trying to see God and communicate with God with our two eyes and our physical nerve system. We enjoy His darshan and feel His shakti. In deep meditation, the external worship is deliberately internalized, and we are trying to see God with our third eye and feel God's all-pervasiveness through our psychic nerve system. Externalizing bhakti is really much easier than internalizing it. But once the externalized bhakti is perfected, it will be easy and natural to internalize bhakti right along. When this is accomplished, the most rigorous hurdles and time-consuming practices of yoga, which often lead the person onto anava marga, will have been side-stepped.
To internalize worship, after the puja is over, sit before the Deity and draw into yourself all the pranas you feel around your body. Then draw those energies up the spine into the head. This is done with the mind and with the breath. It is very easy to do. It is especially easy when one is at the end of a major karmic cycle. The bhakti of uncompromising surrender, prapatti, to the God during a temple puja awakens the amrita. The amrita is the sweet essence from the sahasrara chakra. It is the binding yoke to the Divine. Bind yourself in the lotus posture after temple worship and simply internalize all the feeling that you had for the God during the worship. That's all there is to it. The yogi yoked within enjoys the amrita that flows from the cranium throughout his body. Devotees who want to awaken the higher chakras and sustain that awakening on the safe path will throw themselves into becoming uncompromising bhaktars. Then all the Gods of all three worlds will open their hearts and shower their blessings upon them.
What is my advice for those who find such uncompromising surrender hard to imagine but realize it is their next step on the path? Go on a pilgrimage once a year, read scriptures daily, perform puja daily, go to the temple at least once a week, if not more often--fulfill these disciplines, known as the pancha nitya karmas. This is the basic Saiva Siddhanta sadhana.
But on another level, one will not be able to fulfill the pancha nitya karmas if he or she is not fulfilling the yamas and the niyamas, for these are the character-builders. We must possess a good character to be successful in bhakti yoga. Therefore, begin at the beginning. Right thought produces right speech, which produces right action. Right thought is produced through the knowledge of dharma, karma, samsara and the all pervasiveness of God. This knowledge correctly understood disallows the devotee from having wrong thoughts. He simply has right thought, and of course, right speech and action follow naturally.
And a related passage on this subject is in Lesson 140 from Merging with Siva, Grace of The Gods
When you worship the God in the temple, through puja and ceremony, you are bringing that Divinity out of the microcosm and into this macrocosm. You supply the energy through your worship and your devotion, through your thought forms, and even your physical aura. The pujari purifies and magnetizes the stone image for this to take place. The Gods and the devas are also magnetizing the stone image with their energy, and finally the moment is ready and they can come out of the microcosm into this macrocosm and bless the people. You observe that they stayed only for an instant, but to them it was a longer time. The time sense in the inner worlds is different.]
[audio begins] "...sense in the inner worlds is different."
One of the ways I explain that point is by saying there's three variables when the puja is done. One is the pujari himself, what he, how much he's putting into it. How elaborate the puja is, how concentrated it is, how devotional he is. But, if the pujari is there and there's no devotees there or there's a hundred devotees there who are filled with devotion, it's going to make a big difference. Other words, the pujari is just one aspect.
Also, the devotees are another aspect.And as Gurudeva says: "The energy they give."
How do they give energy? Through worship and devotion. So the energy you give through your worship and devotion is an important contributor to what we end up getting back.
And then the third variable is the sacredness of the day. The auspiciousness of the day. You can't do, have the same intensity. If we were to do an Ardra puja on another day it wouldn't have the same intensity. And the yearly one in particular. You know, the auspiciousness of the day is crucial.
So we have those three combining together: What the pujari is doing, the devotion and worship of the devotees present and the auspiciousness of the day all combine to manifest, help the Deity manifest with certain power and bless everyone.
There's a related idea that I've, developing, it's a note on one of my keynotes to develop it. I'll just read it as it is:
"An aspect of puja in the temple that is not widely understood is how it relates to the flow of prana. Except for the times arati is being offered, puja is a process of giving prana to the Deity. This is done through offering cut fruit, cooked food, water, fragrant flowers and milk. Then, during the times of arati, the Deity and his helpers or devas reflect back this prana into the aura of each devotee purifying it of subconscious congestions. The devotee, so blessed, leaves the temple feeling uplifted and relieved of mental conditions he had been burdened by."
So you can see the prana's going one direction or the other. Generally, we're giving prana through all the offerings and as Gurudeva said: Even through the devotees worship and devotion is giving prana or giving energy to the Deity and then it's comes back at us during the times of arati. Always goes one direction or the other. Usually it's going in and just during the arati times comes back.
So that's a useful description of puja. And I think, you know, eventually I'll combine these two ideas together and get a fuller description. You don't see it described this way except in Gurudeva's writings. The idea of prana, giving prana, giving devotion. Not only the pujari but all the devotees present have to give; and then the Deity uses all of that to bless.
The other aspect is apparent, haven't thought of another way of explaining it, but, without making reference to a movie: Ghost. Everybody seen Ghost, the movie Ghost? So he starts out, when he gets in the inner worlds and he passes through everything, right? He tries to move something and he passes right through it. And then eventually he realizes that he has to move things with his mind. That his astral body can't impact something that's physical.
So it's that idea that the beings in the inner world have a different body, are functioning in a different way. Therefore, they can bless us but for it to be effective at the level we need which is purification of our aura, they need something in the middle. And in this case it's the prana that we offer. They take the prana and it gives them a substance which they can put their energy into and then that comes back and actually impacts us in the astral. Purifies us. But without that prana, you know they're blessing us but it's not impacting us in the astral sense. It's impacting us in a higher sense.
So, that's one reason the offerings are so important.
Have a great day.