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Pradakshina (Sanskrit), meaning circumambulation, consists of walking around in a 'circle' as a form of worship in Hindu ceremonies in India. The devotees walk around the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost chamber of the shrine housing the temple deity. It is done around sacred fire (Agni), trees and plants as well. Thus Pradakshina is done around Tulsi plant and Peepal tree. Pradakshina or Parikrama is done in pilgrimage centres also. Parikrama around the Govardhana mount near Mathura (UP) is very famous. This parikrama involves a walk of 26 miles around Govardhana hillock which is related to Shri Krishna's life as a child.
The circumambulation is done usually in a clockwise direction except in the Shiva temples. The clockwise direction is followed since the devotees should have their rightside towards the object of worship. For this, the devotees will have to walk towards their lefthand side from the front of the object of worship. Pradakshina literally means: to the right (Dakshina means right). The Bali stones should be included in the Pradakshina purview. So in Pradakshina, one goes to the left hand direction to keep the deity as also the Bali Stones around the Sanctum Sanctorum on one's right side.
Pradakshina is one of the customary aspects of going to a temple. Typically, Pradakshina is done after the completion of traditional worship (pooja) and after paying homage to the deity. Pradakshina is supposed to be done with a meditative mood.
- The pathway made of granite stone around the shrine is called the Pradakshina path.
- Pradakshina around the sacred fire is a part of the Hindu marriage ceremony.
Speciality of Pradakshina in SHIVA Temples
In Shiva temples, the devotees start the Pradakshina as usual from the front and go clockwise till they reach the gomukhi (the outlet for abhisheka water) from the Sanctum Sanctorum. As usual the clockwise perambulation is maintained outside of the Bali stones. The drainage outlet for the ritual ablution offered on the Shiva Linga with water, milk, curd, coconut water, ghee, ashes (bhasma)etc. is not to be crossed. So the worshippers have to return in anti-clockwise direction till they reach the other side of the drainage outlet to complete the circle. During this anti-clockwise perambulation, the devotee should tread a path inside of the Bali stones. The Bali stones are always to be kept the right side of the devotees. After reaching the drainage oulet, they have to return to the front in the clockwise direction keeping the path outside the Bali stones. Thus one Pradakshina is completed.
Shayana Pradakshinam is done in a lying posture. It starts with a Sashtanga Namaskara in front of the sanctum sanctorum. In Sashtanga Namaskara, the devotees have eight parts of their bodies touching the ground. Thus forehead, chest, shoulders, hands and knees touch the ground. The folded hands will be directed always towards the deity. In this pose, the devotees circumambulate on the Pradakshina path. The relatives and friends of the devotees help them to roll around. This is a tedious ritual.
Number of Pradakshinas
For each deity, the minimum number of Pradakshinas to be done are specified.
- Ganesha: 1
- Shiva: 2
- Vishnu: 3
- Ayyappa: 4
- Subrahmanya (Karthikeya): 5
- Durga: 6
- Peepal Tree: 7
The Swayambhu Agama says that doing Pradakshina 21 times to any deity is sanctified.
Significance of doing Pradakshina
We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. We acknowledge this by performing Pradakshina. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. This is the significance of Pradakshina.
Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the centre. This means that wherever we may be or whoever we may be, we are equally close to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality.
According to Adi Sankaracharya, real Pradakshina is the meditation that thousands of universes are revolving around the Great Lord, the unmoving centre of all forms.
There is a popular legend about the significance of Pradakshina. Once Lord Shiva wanted his two sons, Ganesha and Subrahmanya, to get "worldly experience" and asked them take a "tour of the universe". While Subrahmanya spent decades traveling the world on his peacock, Ganesha just walked a full circle around his mother and father and is believed to have explained "since the world is contained within you, I have already encircled the world"!
- ↑ "Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent - glossary". indoarch.org. http://www.indoarch.org/arch_glossary.php. Retrieved 2007-01-10.
- ↑ "Some reflections on fire in Hindu and other wedding ceremonies, and on Agni Pradakshina, circling the fire". http://www.weddingdialogues.com/July_and_August_Custom.html. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
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