What is Pran Prathishta
Prana Pratishta means ceremony or rite which is done before inviting the deity. It is a Hindu Vedic religious ritual, which is compulsory before installing any Deity idol, Yantras, wearing Rudraksha, sacred Malas and using or wearing Gemstones. This ancient and elaborate ritual is performed at temples before installing Deity idols, be it of stone, metal or wood. The Pran Prathishta is a process by which the Prana shakti or life force is instilled in a Deity idol or any of the sacred objects and consecrating the idol with the Divine deity’s energy. In Sanskrit the term ‘Prana’ means breath. So, it can be said that Pran Prathishta is like giving the object of worship the breath of life and making it come alive. This holy ceremony is performed to invoke the Deity and invite to reside in the idol or in the other sacred objects.
The ceremony of Pran Prathishta is done by Pundits (Hindu priests) who are qualified to do it, that means not every Pandit can do this ritual. The ritual includes a detailed purification process of the idol, Yantra, Rudraksha, gemstone etc., followed by specific Vedic Mantras in Sanskrit which are recited, along with the meticulous steps of puja rituals. In some Indian temples, the Pran Prathishta ceremony is also celebrated in an elaborate manner, with devotees being served Bhog or Prasadam, special devotional songs in praise of the Deity. It is only after the Pran Prathishta is done that the Deity idol is allowed to worship.
When Deity idols are installed at the pooja altar at home or workspace, the Pran Prathishta rituals are done. Similarly, Yantras and Gemstones worn for Astrological remedy, have a particular Deity for which it is meant, so the purification and activation through Mantra chanting are done as Pran Prathishta.
Why Pran Prathishta is Important
The rituals written in the Vedas or Puranas have scientific and logical meaning to them contradictory to what many may think. An idiom says “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. It is known that temples or anywhere that Deity idols or sacred objects are installed are kept neat and clean because that is what God likes. The thorough cleaning rituals involved in the Pran Prathishta puja ceremony is to energetically clean the sacred items. When the idol is made the energy of the artisan is infused in it, many other people also handle it at various stages, the place it is crafted in, also has its own energy. Similarly Rudraksha beads, Gemstones pass through many hands before reaching the buyer.
It is an important ritual as by the process we are requesting the energy of the Deity to make a home in the idol, Yantra, Rudraksha etc. The elaborate cleansing process of idols with various sacred purifiers like water (Gangajal), Kusha, Ghee, milk, grains etc, especially of temple idols, are done to clean the Deity idol of the energies that have gathered in it due to people touching it. After the cleaning process, the Deity idol is dressed and adorned with ornaments, the Pran Prathishta puja is done with Mantras, offerings of flowers, food, incense and various other things as per specification. Post the Pran Prathishta puja the idol is ready to be worshipped, meditated on and a Rudraksha/Gemstone is ready to be worn. By conducting Pran Prathishta, we are praying to the Deity to manifest Himself/Herself in that idol, Rudraksha, Yantra etc. Without Pran Prathishta the idol is just a piece of stone, metal/wood, the Rudraksha is just a seed, the Yantra is a metal piece with the diagram, the gemstone is just a piece of ordinary stone.
Pran Prathishta Puja
The Vedic rituals of Pran Prathishta puja for different Deity idols vary as per specifications in the Holy texts, though there are common steps too. Rudrakshas have a different procedure, where the Sankalpa is done for the person who is going to wear the Rudraksha bead. Similarly, as Gemstones are worn for Astrological reason, their Pran Prathishta Puja is different and so are Yantras and Malas. The Beej Mantra of the particular Deity is chanted for a certain number of times (mostly in thousands) for the main activation of Prana Shakti.
A brief idea about Pran Prathishta Puja steps:
Temple idols in the different parts of India, follow the Vedic rituals, however, there may be slight differences in procedure from place to place. A suitable Pandit who is qualified to do Pran Prathishta puja should conduct it. A lot of emphasis has been laid on the pronunciation of the Deity Mantras in this puja as that is what activates the Deity and makes it alive. For Rudraksha, Yantras, Gemstones the Pran Prathishta puja is different. Pran Prathishta puja steps for home Deity idols:
- An auspicious day should be selected and the time or Muhurat of the Pran Prathishta puja should be other than Rahu Kaal.
- Welcome of Deity into the house by Mantra chanting
- Bathing the Deity idol in Panchamrit, which is a mixture of Milk(un-boiled), Ghee, Honey, Sugar and Curd. With a soft dry cloth, the deity idol is wiped dry.
- ‘Aabaran’ or adorning the Deity idol with clothes and ornaments.
- The idol is then installed on the altar facing the East.
- Nyasa, which is touching the various sense organs of the Deity idol, along with specific Mantras, which invoke the presence of the different Gods.
- The ‘Chaksu͡unmilan’ ritual is performed. This is a very significant step in the Pran Prathishta puja as Chaksuunmilan is opening of the Deity’s eyes. Incense is sprayed, flowers are offered and Pran Prathishta Mantra is chanted. It depicts that the Deity will be setting eyes on the devotees for the first time. The auspicious Conch is blown, Bells ring to mark this momentous occasion. Other Pran Prathishta puja vidhi is then complete.
- Naivedyam (food, fruit) is offered to the Deity.
- The members of the house can now pay their oblation by bowing down and praying the Deity Whose energy is now alive in the idol to reside there.
Worshipping and meditating on the Deity idol daily will build a strong relationship of the devotee with the Deity.