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Puja (Sanskrit: पूजा pūjā f.) Adoration, adoration, distinction, a Hindu worship ritual. The puja is one of the most common worship rituals in Hinduism. The ceremony, in which elements of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga flow together, is already described in the Vedas and the Puranas.

A puja can address an aspect of the divine, such as a Krishna, Ganesha or Durga puja, or to a spiritual teacher (guru puja). The focus of the ceremony is usually a statue of the deity addressed (Murti), but sometimes an emblem or a plant as a symbol of the divine.

In many Hindu traditions, puja is part of daily religious practice. But it is also a frequently used ceremony at religious festivals and other special occasions. The rituals serve the concentration of the mind, the opening of the heart and the unity with the divine power, in that the mind is first fixed on an external object and then turned inward at rest. They also have purifying power and can attract healing energies.

Structure, logic and components of a puja

- A lecture by Sukadev Bretz 2020 -

  • What is puja
  • What are the parts of a puja?
  • What are they for?

I want to talk about that today.

Puja is the worship ritual par excellence in India, one could say: components of puja ultimately make up arati, puja is slightly modified to homa, even a satsang has components of a puja somewhere. Puja means: worship, worship ritual. And of course, India is a big country, India has a history going back thousands of years and there are many different traditions. Today I would like to discuss the components of the puja that we use in Yoga Vidya in the tradition that Swami Vishnu-devananda taught me and that you can also find in the Sivananda Ashram Rishikesh, for example.

Twelve components of a puja

A puja in our tradition has twelve components:

1. Om, the cosmic sound.
2. Achamana, the inner purification and the purification of the place.
3. Tilaka, applying the three sacred powders to the opening of the third eye.
4. Avahana, the invocation of the divine presence.
5. Sankalpa,
6. Meditation, or a wish where you say the puja for certain people, or for a certain concern.
7. Abhishekam, that is, the ritual pouring of water or rice milk over the murtis.
8. Alankara - adorn.
9. Archana, offering of flowers and rice along with devotional mantras that typically end with namah.
10. Samapana, offering of incense, light and food. Mangala Charana means: blessings for all beings everywhere.
11. Arati - light ceremony.
12. Vandana - bow down.


You start a puja with OM - OM is the cosmic sound, you repeat Om 3 times, the body, mind and soul are completely present. If you want, you can also ring the bell during this time, or blow a conch shell to be completely there now.


Achamana means: You take three sips of water and sprinkle the water in the different directions in order to purify yourself, ultimately to make yourself an instrument. You want to make yourself and the place completely pure, so that the blessing can be experienced. Because puja is ultimately not just what we do externally, puja is above all the experience of divine presence and then it is important to make yourself completely pure.


Tilaka: You put the three holy powders on your forehead and that symbolizes the opening of the third eye. What makes puja really special can be experienced when our heart is open and especially when our third eye is open, then we learn that what puja is for, what we do puja for.


Avahana is the invocation of the divine presence through mantras and also with inner reverence. God is everywhere, the divine is everywhere, with Avahana we invoke this divine presence, especially for the Murtis whom we will worship.

Sankalpa and Dhyana

Sankalpa can also simply be Dhyana, that is, meditation, going into silence, feeling the divine presence, or one can say a prayer, make a resolution and ask God that the power of this puja goes to the cause that we are Offer up to God at this moment.


Abhishekam symbolizes the overflowing of our hearts, may our hearts overflow with love and may we bathe God with this love, everywhere. May we experience this love of God in our hearts and make it tangible. And for this we do this ritual pouring over the murtis with water or rice milk.


Alankara is the decoration of the murtis, the three holy powders are applied there again - now the murtis, you can offer flowers, malas, flower garlands and as a symbol - we want to offer everything beautiful to the murtis so that God can offer it.


Then we worship the divine with Archana. One could repeat here the 108 names of the respective aspect of God or one repeat a mantra that typically ends with Namah a few times: 9x, 27x, 54x, 108x, taking a few flowers, giving them to the heart and offering them. Namah, namah - symbol for it - may we do everything we do with all our hearts and may we then offer it to God.


Samapana means offering, or connection with offering. And here we offer incense, together with a mantra, we bring a candle or an oil lamp together with a mantra, we offer food, prasad together with a mantra.

Then one can repeat mantras for benevolence for everyone. For example “Lokah Samastah” or the “Om Tryambakam” or “Sarva Mangala Mangalye”. And so ask: May the puja bring a vibration of peace and benevolence to the whole world. May all beings be well.


Then you do an arati, that is, a light ceremony


and bows - Vandana and also offers certain mantras where we offer everything to God.

Yes, there are twelve parts of a puja and of course there can be more. There are very unusual pujas that last several hours, where mudras are repeated and the body is purified in different ways, there are those where certain Chama mantras are recited and many others. You can also shorten the puja, you can also leave out individual components in order to shorten the ritual. One can recite very long mantras, even to invoke the divine presence Achamana, one can repeat shorter or longer texts for Abhishekam. During the so-called great Yoga Vidya Puja, as is customary in the Sivananda Ashram, the so-called Suktas are recited - hymns from the Vedas. Afterwards in Archana one can repeat 108 names or 1008 names of a certain aspect of God. The (for) Arati can be shorter or longer text and Mangala Charana can also be done after the Arati and also for a relatively long time and afterwards you can bow with many different mantras and offer everything.

Regardless of whether you want to make puja shorter or longer, puja serves to experience the divine presence, to open the heart, to generate a strong vibration, to charge the room with spiritual vibration, to have healing for everyone present and also to have your own energy very much becomes strong. That you experience light energy through this puja.

  • So puja is a very powerful ritual, puja is powerful for yourself because it encourages your devotion,
  • Puja is powerful for yourself because through the power of the mantras - the ancient ritual - your own vibration is raised and connects with the cosmic vibration,
  • Puja is powerful because it is powerful for the whole room and the vibration of the room increases very much
  • and puja is powerful for all those present who consciously or unconsciously also experience a strong vibration.
  • And puja is powerful for the whole area because the vibration of puja radiates far.

And so I can only recommend you to celebrate Puja. When you go to the Yoga Vidya Ashrams there is a puja celebrated every day, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter pujas and on all major holidays, of course, puja is the central worship ritual. You can also go to our internet channel (go, there) to find Pujas, Krishna Pujas, Shiva Puja, Durga Puja and others. All you have to do is go to the Yoga Vidya website and then enter puja in the search field and you will get teaching videos of puja and you will also find recordings of pujas during major holidays. Or recordings of pujas that you can take part directly. I wish you good puja and a lot of joy in opening your heart.

Video - structure, logic and components of a puja


A Homa ceremony at Yoga Vidya Westerwald. You can find more about Homa under the following keyword: Homa

A puja can be held in the temple or at home in front of a specially built altar. The home puja is at the same time regarded as an invitation to the deity and is accordingly held with all due Indian hospitality. In addition to the deity represented in the symbol (as a statue, emblem or substance), elements of worship, blessing and purification belong to a classical puja. With consecrated water, light and ornaments, the divine power is humbly washed, honored and adorned. Offerings such as flowers, rice, milk (or rice milk) and sacred foods (prasad) are part of every puja as a sign of gratitude and reverence. They are offered to the deity during the ritual.


The course of a puja is strictly regulated. This is described in various texts as described in the Samhitas. However, it can be varied in length and design depending on the occasion and tradition.

An integral part of every traditional puja is the chanting of bhajans (spiritual songs) and kirtans (invocations of different aspects of God) at the beginning of the ritual and the repetition of consciously chosen mantras during the ceremony.

After marking the attunement, the chakra points on the forehead of the puja participants are marked with sandalwood colors in order to open the awareness of the presence and power of the deity or the guru. Mantras of praise and bowing serve to awaken and invoke the deity (Avahana), the following respect and honors are entirely in the Indian tradition of hospitality towards high visitors. This includes the symbolic washing of the feet, the welcome greeting and the ritual bath, in the puja mostly in the form of pouring purified water over them. The offerings are an integral part of every puja. Flowers, camphor, milk, rice and consecrated foods (prasad) are offered to the deity; framed by more mantras of praise and gratitude.

The puja usually ends with a prayer, often a traditional light ceremony (arati) and a respectful bowing as a sign of devotion. The prasad, energetically charged during the ceremony, is distributed after the ritual is over.

Para puja

Image from a Yoga Vasishtha manuscript from 1602

Article from Stories from Yoga Vasishtha by Swami Sivananda. The Divine Life Society Publication, 9th Edition, Uttarakhand, 2009, pp. XX-XXII.

1. How can the Supreme Being be worshiped that is without parts, that is absolute existence - knowledge - bliss and that is immutable (Vikalpa) and without duality?

2. Where can we invite it, because it is already perfect everywhere? What place should we offer him, the one who supports everything? How can we offer him arghya, padya, and achamana (worshiping purification kriyas performed with water) to someone who has always been pure?

3. It is unnecessary to bathe someone who is purity itself. What would he need clothes for when the world itself exists within him? Why should one who is devoid of faith and family need a sacred thread?

4. What are incenses and flowers good for someone who is always content and does not long for pleasure? How can one dress the one who is shapeless? What should decoration serve for someone who is without qualities?

5. What would dhop (incense that smells like sweat) serve for someone who is spotless? And how should one offer lights to someone who is himself the light of lights? Why should one offer Naivedya to one who is always content and imbued with his own bliss?

6. How can one offer tambula (betel nut) to someone who gives bliss to all beings, who is consciousness and shines himself and who transmits light to the sun and other objects?

7. How can one orbit the one who is endless? How can one prostrate oneself to the one who is one, free from duality? One cannot praise one whom even the Vedas cannot adequately describe.

8. How can one perform neeranjanam (waving camphor, etc.) for one who is self-luminous? And how can one put him on his original throne (Udwasan), which is perfect and all pervasive.

9. This Para Puja should be performed by all who strive for Brahman always and at all times, with a devoted and one-pointed mind.

Note: Avahana, Asana, Padya, Arghya, etc. are the different acts of worship of a personal god according to the rules of Upasana or ritual worship. The content of this stotra is that these are not possible for the one, non-dual Brahman. The Supreme Self should be understood by all those who aspire to Brahman in the light of the Upper Stotra.


Pujas can be celebrated for the following occasions:

  • on feast days and days of honor of deities such as Shivaratri, Krishna Jayanti, Guru Purnima or Navaratri
  • for the inauguration and cleaning of rooms, apartments, houses and yoga centers
  • for curing diseases
  • as a blessing for newborns, newlyweds and the deceased (rituals such as baptism or wedding, leading other priests elsewhere).

Swami Sivananda on puja

Excerpt from the book "Bhakti and Sankirtan" by Swami Sivananda (Ed .: The Divine Life Society, 2007), p. 42

Puja is a common term for ritual worship - a term that has numerous synonyms such as archana, vandana, bhajana, etc. Some of these terms emphasize certain aspects of puja. The object of worship is the Ishta Devata, the personal deity of the worshiper, such as Vishnu himself or one of his incarnations - for example Rama and Krishna - with the Vaishnavas, like Shiva in his eight manifestations with the Shaivas or Devi with the Shaktas.

The puja is directed outwards. An image (pratima) or an emblem, the saligram for Vishnu or the linga for Shiva, are venerated. Materials and actions during puja are called upachara.

Upachara consists of sixteen steps (Shodasopachara):

Hindu, Buddhist and other pujas (selection)

Instructions for small puja

The described simple Krishna puja is celebrated daily in the Yoga VidyaAshramsBad Meinberg and Westerwald in the Krishna room.

Note: This is an example puja for Krishna. Similarly, you can do a puja for Shiva, Lakshmi, Rama, Durga, etc., simply by replacing, for example, the mantra “Om Shri Durgayai Namaha”, “Om AIM HRIM KLIM ...” with the relevant mantra.

Necessary utensils:

  • 1-3 candles or oil lamps
  • Statue (or picture, stone, symbol) as a representation of God.
  • 1 glass with water and a spoon (to clean the lokas)
  • 1 bowl with water and spoon (for abhishekam)
  • Holy Powder (Bhashma (Ash), Chandan (Sandalwood Paste), Kumkum (Red Powder)
  • 1 towel (to dry)
  • Mala, necklace, jewelry, etc.
  • Flowers, petals or rice (for Archanam)
  • Fruit (as prasad)
  • Incense sticks
  • possibly bell
  • Plate
  • altar


Prepare sandalwood paste. Place statue / symbol on plate. Light a candle, light incense sticks.

The actions (in italics) are to be performed at about the same time as the mantras written over them.

Om Om Om

Achamana (purification)

Recite the purification mantras and take three sips of water as a symbol of inner purification:

oṃ keśavāya namaḥ (Give 1 sip of water in the right hand and drink)
oṃ acyutāya namaḥ (Give 1 sip of water in the right hand and drink)
oṃ anantāya namaḥ (Give 1 sip of water in your right hand and drink, then wipe over the Sahasrara Chakra)

Symbolic external cleaning:

oṃ govindāya namaḥ (Pour water into right hand, then up and down)
oṃ nārāyaṇāya namaḥ (Give water in the right hand, then in all 4 directions)
om gaṅge ca yamune caiva 'godāvari sarasvati
narmade sindhu kāveri 'namas tubhyaṃ namo namaḥ //

(Put water in your right hand, circle over your head, then snap your fingers)

Tilaka - application of St. Powder, third eye opening

: om aiṃ tripurā-devyai ca vidmahe: klīṃ kāmeśvaryai ca dhīmahi: sauṃ tan naḥ klinne pracodayāt

Apply ash with middle three fingers over the forehead from left to right, apply sandalwood paste (sandalwood powder mixed with water) with ring finger on point between the eyebrows, kumkum with ring finger on point between the eyebrows.

Avahana - Invocation of the Divine Presence

oṃ gaṃ gaṇa-pataye namaḥ
oṃ śara-vaṇa-bhavāya namaḥ
om aiṃ sarasvatyai namaḥ
oṃ guṃ gurubhyo namaḥ
oṃ namo bhagavate śivānandāya
oṃ namo bhagavate viṣṇu-devānandāya
om ādi-śaktyai namaḥ


9 x oṃ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya

Ring.Then bow

Sankalpa, Dhyanam

1-2 minutes of silent meditation and / or prayer

Abhisheka (ritual bath)

oṃ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya


kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa mahāyogin 'bhaktānām abhayaṅkara /
govinda paramānanda 'sarvaṃ me vaśamānaya //

(9, 27 or 108 times)

Bathe Murti (statue, symbol, stone) with water using a spoon. Then collect water, dry the murtis with a cloth, while singing kirtan, e.g. Mahamantra Hare Rama Hare Krishna.

Alankara (adorn)

Applying the ashes:

oṃ tatpuruṣāya vidmahe
mahādevāya dhīmahi
tanno rudraḥ pracodayāt

Applying sandalwood paste:

gandha-dvārāṃ durādharṣāṃ 'nitya-puṣṭāṃ karīṣiṇīm /
īśvarīṃ sarva-bhūtānāṃ 'tām ihopahvaye śriyam //
gandhān dhārayāmi

Applying Kumkum:

om aiṃ hrīṃ klīṃ cāmuṇḍāyai vicce namaḥ

Decorate the murti with flowers and / or mala and / or chain

hare rām (a) hare rām (a) rām (a) rām (a) hare hare /
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare //

Archana - offering flowers or rice

om śrī kṛṣṇāya namaḥ (9, 27 or 108 times)

With each mantra, sacrifice a grain of rice or a flower or petal by adding a grain of rice or a blossom. Bring your right hand to the heart and then give it to the Murti.

Samarpaṇa: Dhūpa / Dīpa / Naivedya - offering incense sticks, light, prasad

dhūpam samarpayāmi

Light incense sticks, swirl clockwise and offer. Ring.

dīpam samarpayāmi

Swivel the candle or oil lamp clockwise and offer it. Ring.

Take the Prasad bowl in your hand and place it in front of the altar

oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
did savitur vareṇyam
bhargo devasya dhīmahi /
dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt // (3x)

Use a spoon to pour water into your right hand, spread over the Prasad in a clockwise direction (3x).

Sacrifice Prasad, place 1 or more pieces on the altar.

Mangala (blessings)

lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu (3x)

Arati (light ceremony)

jaya jaya āratī vighna-vināyaka
vighna-vināyaka śrī-gaṇeśa // 1 //
jaya jaya āratī veṇu-gopāla
veṇu-gopāla veṇu-lola
pāpa-vidūra navanīta-cora // 3 //
jaya jaya āratī sad-guru-nātha
sad-guru-nātha śivānanda // 11 //
jaya jaya āratī v veṇu-gopāla 11c //

Swing the candle or oil lamp. Maybe ring the doorbell.

Closing prayers

tvam eva mātā ca pitā tvam eva 'tvam eva bandhuś ca sakhā tvam eva
tvam eva vidyā draviṇaṃ tvam eva 'tvam eva sarvaṃ mama deva-deva // 1 //
kāyena vācā manasendriyair vā 'buddhyātmanā vā prakṛteḥ svabhāvāt
karomi yad yat sakalaṃ parasmai 'nārāyaṇāyeti samarpayāmi // 2 //
sarva-dharmān pari-tyajya 'mām ekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja /
ahaṃ tvā sarva-pāpebhyo 'mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ // 3 //

Bow down; Distribute prasad; silent meditation.

Different spellings for puja

Sanskrit words are written in Devanagari in India. In order for Europeans to be able to read this, Devanagari is transcribed into Roman script. There are several conventions on how Devanagari can be transcribed into Roman script. Puja in Devanagari is written "पूजा", in IAST scientific transcription with diacritical marks "pūjā", in the Harvard-Kyoto transcription "pUjA", in the Velthuis transcription "puujaa", in the modern Internet Itrans transcription "pUjA".

See also


Web links


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