FROM THE AGAMAS
On Personal and Public Worship
Exploring the outer and inner ritual in reverence to the Sivalinga
The following is a lucid translation of passages from the Kamika Agama, chapter 4, verses 1 to 16 and 178 to 182. In the former, Siva discusses both personal and public worship and the qualities of the sincere Adisaiva, while expounding the benefits and prominence of Siva puja performed in temples adhering to the Saiva Agamas. In the latter, He explains how He is to be invoked by the pujari during public worship.
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NOW I WILL EXPLAIN THE SYSTEMATIC PROCESS OF SIVA WORSHIP, which is efficacious in yielding worldly enjoyments as well as final liberation. Siva worship is of two kinds—atmartha (personal worship) and parartha (public worship).
Athmartha puja is personal worship being done for the Linga, graciously given to the disciple by the guru at the completion of the qualifying initiation, or for the Linga made of earth and other substances. Since it grants its fruits to the disciple as desired by him, it qualifies as personal worship.
The parartha puja is performed for the longevity, health, victory and abundance of wealth for the ruler, and for the many-faceted growth of the village and other settlements. Parartha puja [in the Siva temple built and run according to Agamas] should be performed daily by the Adisaiva priests. Adisaiva is supreme among the twice-borns. He is virtuous, being always inclined to obey the directions given by Lord Siva. Such an Adisaiva should perform the daily temple worship. Performance of public worship in the Agama-based Siva Temples by the persons other than the Adisaivas would result in hardships for human society.
An Adisaiva is one who is well learned and has been given the supreme Siva diksha, blessed and empowered by means of ceremonial ablution. Such a person is always under Siva’s command. If parartha puja is performed by such an Adisaiva, there will be no defect in that worship.
Invocation of Siva Within
With regard to the process of invoking the Lord, Isvara, the pujari should design an inner shrine within his heart. Then he should arrange for a suitable seat in a manner that is explained here. He should invoke the Lord and worship him mentally, offering sandalwood paste and other substances. In the fire-pit which has appeared, self-installed in his navel, he should offer oblations of supreme nectarean drops. Through the regulated flow of inbreath, he should kindle the fire-pit in the navel. Elevating himself to the midpoint between the eyebrows, he should meditate on the magnificent Sivalinga which has the resplendence of pure crystal.
Contemplating the perfect state of oneness with that Linga and meditating on Lord Siva who is present within that Linga, he should breath in through the left channel (ida nadi). Such actions are considered to be the worship of Siva. Then he should offer the oblations of the nectar of consciousness through the outbreath of the right channel (pingala nadi). Having inhaled the prana and causing it to enter the muladhara chakra, he should raise his self upwards through the outbreath, cutting asunder the inner knots and their roots. Once again, he should inhale the prana through the ida nadi and raise his self to the midpoint between the eyebrows. There he should meditate constantly on Lord Siva.
Public puja: An Adisaiva priest performs worship of the Sivalinga for the benefit of the community and the ruler
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The Importance of Siva Worship
Maintaining the sacrificial fire in one’s own house, systematic study of the Vedas, performing sacrifices involving many kinds of offerings in great measure—all these activities do not equal even one part out of a million parts of the greatness of worshiping the Sivalinga. By failing to worship Lord Siva, a person becomes malicious to his own self, roaming through this worldly life in a great ocean of misery for a very long time. Not having worshiped Lord Siva, one should not take his daily meals. It is more meritorious to give up one’s breath or cut one’s own head than failing to worship Lord Siva. Having known this truth, one must worship Him, taking all efforts.
DR. S. P. SABHARATHNAM SIVACHARIYAR, of the Adisaiva priest lineage, is an expert in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit, specializing in the Vedas, Agamas and Shilpa Shastras. This excerpt is from his recent translation of the Kamika Agama.