Chapter 27. Course of discipline for the formal worship of the Supreme Lord – kriya yoga.

In the 27th chapter the Lord explains to Uddhava, (responding to his question about the same), the course of discipline consisting of formal worship of the Lord, called Kriya Yoga, intended to propitiate the Lord, in all its detail. Uddhava recalls that this course of discipline was originally imparted by the Lord, first to Brahma and thence to his sons Bhrigu and Lord Siva, and thence to Parvati and so on.

This discipline unties the bonds of karma once and for all. The Lord says that the branch of Vedas dealing with ritual acts is unlimited in scope and that He will discuss the topic therefore in a nutshell. The procedure for worshipping the Lord is threefold, viz, Vedic, tantric and mixed (consisting of both elements); the worshipper choosing the particular method as per his liking.

One should worship the Lord with devotion, reverence and sincerity, and without expectation of reward (Other than the pleasure of the Lord.) with requisite materials through the medium of an image, a raised ground or the sacred fire, the sun, water, the cavity of one’s heart, or a brahmin. External purity (through ablutions and bathing) as well as internal purity is a necessary pre-requisite. Eight kinds of images are described. An image could be movable or immovable.

The paraphernalia for worship depends on facilities and resources available to the worshipper, but offering with reverence and devotion is of utmost importance. In case of people inadequately endowed, even water offered with reverence is most pleasing to the Lord. The preparation and specifications for the seat of the worshipper, consecration of the worshipper as well as the articles of worship are described. The body (of the worshipper), having been thoroughly sublimated through air and fire, the worshipper should meditate on the Supreme and subtle form of the Lord, residing in the lotus of his heart.,the form, which is contemplated by accomplished souls and of which the jeeva is a reflection. On his body being permeated by that subtle form and contemplating on the Lord as being the supreme sovereign, he should invoke the Lord’s presence in the image etc. and having installed the Lord there, proceed to worship the Lord through sacred syllables. The significance for the high seat for the Lord (as explained in detail) should be contemplated on.

During ceremonial bathing of the image (where applicable) sacred texts for chanting include Vishnu Sukta, Purusha Sukta, Pavamana Sukta, etc. Offering of raiments, sacred thread, jewels, wreaths of tulsi, sandal paste etc. should be made followed by water to wash the feet and rinse the mouth of the Lord; flowers, grains of unbroken rice, incense, light and articles of food (of four different kinds) are offered thereafter. Worship through offering oblations through fire is also described.

This is followed by celebrating, praising, recounting, acting out and hearing from others the Lord’s exploits so that such exploits are made known to all, at all moments. Glorifying the Lord through long or short hymns found in Puranas or Vedas or through those composed by devotees, one should seek the mercy of the Lord and fall at his feet like a log, asking for His protection in this fearful samsara.

Worshipping the Lord as aforesaid, a man secures success of the kind coveted by him, both here and here after. One who can afford to do so, should cause to be built, enduring house of worship or temple installing the Lords image in it and also lay out beautiful flower gardens and make a grant for its maintenance, daily worship, occasional congregation and festivals. Through installation of an image, one bids fair to acquire sovereignty of the entire globe; by erecting a temple he is sure to attain dominion of all the three worlds, through worship etc.; one can hope to reach the realm of Brahma and through all these combined, one can attain to the Lord’s attribute of freedom from sorrow. He who takes away (usurps) the endowment made either by himself or others in favor of a deity or a brahmin continues for ten crores of years to be born as a creature living in ordure. Such a destiny (good or bad as the case may be) awaits the agent as well as his assistant, prompter and supporter too. Thus ends the twenty seventh chapter.

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