Education

How Hindus worship at home and how you can get started

By May 11, 2020 One Comment

It’s natural in difficult times to turn to religion and places of worship as a source of comfort and community. Hindu-Americans are no different: mandirs are designed to calm and refocus worshippers. However, amidst the coronavirus pandemic communal services can also be vectors for spreading illness. As a result, puja at home has likely taken on added significance in your life. Without the guidance of a pundit, though, it may be hard to know the what and why of private worship.

There’s no one right way to begin. But you can begin with the below primer.

How does worship at home fit into Hinduism?

Along with jnana yoga (the “path of knowledge”) and karma yoga (“path of action”), bhakti yoga (“path of love”) forms a crucial focus of Hindu faith. Puja is central to this by encouraging reverence and devotion to the divine.

Importantly, Hinduism does not set any form or strong rules for its practice. From a simple prayer to a full ceremony, any devotional act is a reinforcement of faith.

Worship doesn’t have to be a traditional mantra either. Service to one’s community forms a part of bhakti yoga too, as it reinforces devotion to something valuable outside yourself.

Resources for getting started

It can be daunting to begin. However, you’ll find some links below that can help you get started with some guided poojas. There’s many options out there so feel free to look around until you find the right fit.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar/Art of Living Foundation

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a well-known guru who offers an accessible introduction to Hinduism through his website. The Art of Living Foundation focuses more on the meditative side of Hinduism, with multiple meditation course offerings. These unfortunately are usually paywalled, but you’ll also find free answers to common questions and livestreams.

Om Swami

For the visually inclined, the Australian guru Om Swami has a wealth of video resources on commonly asked questions. With both Hindi and English-language content, he offers a wonderfully accessible start to Hinduism with the short videos on his YouTube channel. His blog also contains many other resources and helpful posts.

American Institute of Vedic Studies/David Frawley

Finally, the American Institute of Vedic Studies is a great place to start for those looking for a more academic experience. While Hinduism doesn’t mandate a set canon of texts, the Vedas are as close as it gets. However, they can be lengthy and intimidating for the first-time reader. The Institute’s director, Dr. David Frawley, does a great job shedding light on the more arcane aspects of Hinduism. His website can be helpful for both self-directed learners and those interested in courses.

There’s many more resources out there. Let us know your favorites and others we should include in this list! The practice of pooja at home can be difficult to start. But with the wealth of digital resources available, you can find the right (virtual) home. 

One Comment

  • Nagendra S Rao says:

    The picture of puja padartha is entrancing and the topic most laudable.

    Broad brush the perspective on Hindu Dharma is correct. But the article on the whole is inadequate and rather superficial. It really does not say anything of substance or value. It seems to have been dashed off in a hurry, with a lot of URLs. Little better than a self Google search.

    In fact, the Wikipedia article URL below on Hindu Worship does a much tighter, technically correct and professional presentation.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worship_in_Hinduism

    However the article needs substantial tightening and correction of a few errors to bring it to professional standards.

    //Service to one’s community forms a part of bhakti yoga too, as it reinforces devotion to something valuable outside yourself.// This is NOT bhakti yoga, it is karma yoga

    There are four broad streams of spiritual practice in Hinduism – Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga in steadily descending order of intellectusl and spiritual fitness requirements.

    Raja Yoga is not mentioned at all in thd write up which is a serious omission IMHO. It leads one to question the comprehensiveness of education in matters Hindu on the part of the writer, without questioning the undoubted earnestness and sincerity of effort on the writer’s spot.

    Shambhave Namah

    Nagendra S Rao

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