The Rishi, Avirhotraji instructs King Nimi in the Bhagwat “He who wishes for the soonest possible union with the Lord, he who longs to cut asunder this illusive knot of ‘me and mine’ should worship the Lord by the Vaidic and (ritualistic) means. First the student should serve a Guru well till the Guru agrees to teach him. The learned student should then worship, that form of the Lord which he loves.” The Rishi gives very detailed instructions on the format of worship! “First in the order of preparation for worship is purification, one should cleanse the body inside out by bathing and cleansing the inner mind (antahkarana) with contentment, thus cleansed, one should sit before the image of the Lord’ and perform (Nandi-shuddhi and Bhoot-shodhan) cleansing the elemental channels of the body i.e. the various systems of the body. This is done by ‘pranayam’ (specifically designed breathing exercises). Thereafter he should systematically, through mantras, invoke and establish the devatas to guard his whole body while he worships. Flowers for worship should have no insects in them. The place of worship must be swept and wiped clean, the flowers etc. of the previous day’s worship should be removed, then he should purify the seat (Asana) of worship by sprinkling of water, before seating himself.” (The sprinkling of water is just symbolic of purification). “After this one should keep clean water for washing the feet of the Lord and offerings to the Lord.”
It is of great importance that the Rishi instructs the devotee to sit for worship with “an unagitated mind”. Then contemplate on the Lord and try to ‘perceive him in his heart’ and ‘deeply meditate on’ the idol of the Lord. “Try to establish Him in your heart, head and top of the head (Shikha).”
Prarthna Saran, President, Chinmaya Mission, Delhi.