When one is in complete connection with the inner self, one is able to fill the void in his heart and realise the true meaning of god, says Manoranjan Bhattacharya
The highest and ideal goal of the human life is the realisation of god, the one who is ever-existent, ever-conscious and ever-blissful. The primary requirements for this could be purification of the mind and its orientation inwards. Worshipping god, in any form, as cherished by an individual, is a standard and common process, which serves this purpose and finally enables the aspirant to realise the ultimate reality of life.
Worshipping processes in the Hindu mythology consist of a series of steps and each step is spiritually significant in advancing the purpose of purifying the mind and making it turn inwards, which finally result in the attainment of supreme spiritual enlightenment of the aspirant.
From the Puranas, we find that when the gods and the demons churned the ‘Kshirode’ sea nectar, which immortalises one who drinks it, had evolved from the deep sea. The gods were in search of a fitting vessel which could hold this immortalising Amrit. Lord Biswakarma, the chief engineer of the gods, was called and urged for an immediate solution of the problem. He thought seriously over the matter and then built an extremely powerful pot by taking a part of energy from each god. This sacred powerful container was given the name Kalasa, as it was built by taking Kala or part, energy from the gods. This is, possibly, some feasible background for the pitcher (ghat) to be considered as a sacred vessel. Generally, a pitcher is made of earth. In many cases, however, it is also made of metals such as brass, copper, etc.
The gods and goddesses are first welcomed to take their places inside the sacred powerful pitcher. When an idol is made to worship the designated god, the question arises — why should a pitcher be installed to welcome the deity? It is required because only the designated god can be welcomed as the idol.
From the spiritual point of view, the pitcher represents the cavity of our heart which is believed to be the abode of gods and goddesses. It is also believed that consciousness originates from deep inside our hearts. When the sacred mantras or hymns are being chanted with great devotion to welcome the gods, they respond to the mantras by welcoming them.
For the installation of the sacred pitcher inside the heart, many items such as water, fruits, generally a green coconut, stems and leaves of sacred trees, mainly mango tree, etc., and some other items are required.
When the worshiper chants the hymns, embracing the depth of his heart and completely realises the meaning of their lyrics, a kind of heavenly emotion is developed in him/her. And the water in the pitcher represents this heavenly emotion. In this celestial zone, the worshipper might feel that the gods have taken cherished forms.
Usually, a fruit is placed at the top of the pitcher, which symbolises knowledge and wisdom. When a truth seeker unravels the mystery in his matter of search and gets to the bottom of the truth, s/he experiences ethereal emotions of joy. Spiritually, when, through knowledge, wisdom and true devotion, the worshipper reveals herself/himself to the god, celestial emotions develop in the worshipper. Only then is the worshipper regarded ideal or fit to worship. Head is the centre of all knowledge. Generally, a green coconut, with a part of the stem attached to it, is the fruit which is placed on the top of the pitcher. It has the shape of the head and the stem attached as if representing the flame of knowledge (Shiksha).
Fresh leaves with stems of five different sacred trees are placed on the mouth of the pitcher. These are symbolic of the five organs of action — the organ of speech, hands, feet, evacuation and procreation. In the water, five different gems are placed, which symbolise the five organs of perception — ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose. Also, below the pitcher, five different grains are placed which are symbolic of the five subtle elements (Panchatanmatra) — akash (the vast space), vaayu (air), tejas (fire), op (water) and prithvi (earth) in their rudimentary, uncompounded state. The subtle body (Sookshm sharir) of a man is composed of these five subtle elements. The subtle body covers the source of consciousness or soul (Atma), which, as per the Hindu Vedanta philosophy, lies deep inside the heart. According to the Vedanta philosophy, when a man dies, his soul exits the body.
When the hymns associated with Ghatasthapan are chanted with complete concentration, where one fully realises the meaning of her/his existence, the worshipper experiences the appearance of the gods.
Thus, for true worship, the worshipper must be in a state of complete awareness of his subtle body. With this serenity in the background and a sense of peace with the inner self, when the worshipper offers flowers and other offerings to the gods in the pitcher, he feels, as if, he is placing those in the void of his own heart, which is believed to be the abode of all gods and goddesses. This is what we call worshipping the god in the ideal sense.
(This article is based on the book Poojatattava by Brahmarshi Shree Shree Satyadev.)
Writer: Manoranjan Bhattacharya
Courtesy: The Pioneer