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Switch to Forum Live View What Is On Your Altar?
6 years ago  ::  Aug 28, 2008 - 11:35PM #91
Sakhaiva
Posts: 942
Hi radhe-govinda

It sounds like you are all set for puja - wonderful!     Welcome :)
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 29, 2008 - 12:17AM #92
radhe-govinda
Posts: 52
Namaste Chiyo and Sakhaiva :D

thank you for such a wonderful welcome.  After reading through a lot of the posts it looks like there is a great mix here.  I am looking forward to learning lots.

[QUOTE=Chiyo;722716]Welcome, Radhe! Or do you prefer Govinda?... Anyway, welcome and Namaste.

I know only the very basics of Hinduism. So, I'm going to ask you to enlighten me, please? What is the sandlewood paste for? And what is the kumkum powder for? And also, if you have a candle, why a lamp also? For "arati", what does that mean?

Please, make yourself comfortable here and keep coming back, I'm sure you will enjoy the company! [/QUOTE]

i am by no means an expert in any of this so i can only offer my own understanding.  to answer your questions though, Sakhaiva is right, all the stuff is used for home puja which is a vedic ritual done to establish a connection with God and the good energy of the universe.  there are many other informal practices done too at the alter like singing, chanting, and meditation but the accessories are for puja.  the sandlewood paste and kumkum are used for drawing tilak both on the murti (image of God) and one's self.  it's a mark that goes in the middle of the forehead  in between the eyes.  when drawn on God it is an offering and drawn on us it is an outward sign of our connection with God. for Vaishnava devotees it is usually drawn as a vertical line (depending on the sect there are additions to this line) it is Vishnu's foot print on us. 

as for the candle.  i like candles :) but it's not necessary.  the lamp itself is supposed to be a ghee lamp but because of my current living circumstances i can't burn oil right now so there is a tea light in it (not quite vedic and probably not as good but i think God will understand :))  anyway arati is sometimes translated as waving lights.  i do it at the end of puja.  the light is waved clockwise around the deity, bells are rung, and hymns sung.  it is another form of worship and through the offering the light becomes infused with blessings.  we will then touch the just above the flame then the bring our hands to the head.  it's a way of internalizing the power.  everything given to God in puja and arati is given back to use by God.  so after we each the prasad (food and drink that were offered) we receive the blessings from the arati lamp, wear the tilak, and the flowers can be given away.  all the items are sanctified through the process of puja so it's a very material blessing. 

Is it safe to assume from you sig that you are a Zen practitioner? 
[QUOTE=sakhaiva;722813]Hi radhe-govinda

It sounds like you are all set for puja - wonderful!     Welcome [/QUOTE]

:D  you got my number. 

thank you again both of you for the great welcome

hari om!

radhe
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 29, 2008 - 8:40AM #93
Chiyo
Posts: 5,799


Radhe;
thank you for such a wonderful welcome. After reading through a lot of the posts it looks like there is a great mix here. I am looking forward to learning lots.



We really do have a wonderful group here, I'm so very pleased.


Radhe;
it's a mark that goes in the middle of the forehead in between the eyes. when drawn on God it is an offering and drawn on us it is an outward sign of our connection with God. for Vaishnava devotees it is usually drawn as a vertical line (depending on the sect there are additions to this line) it is Vishnu's foot print on us.



Hey, that's neat. Sounds like the tilak almost corresponds with the Catholic Communion. As to the vertical line, I would imagine most Americans might have trouble understanding that, after all, we don't like to be "walked on"... But that's not what it means at all, I would imagine. Footprint = evidence that the unseen Deity was here. Right?

Then too, the Asatru (Aryans) say that the footprint is a sign for Freyr and Freya, if I'm not mistaken? And, with Njord as well. Surely, there's a an "ancestral" connection of somekind there... That would be interesting to dig up.



as for the candle. i like candles but it's not necessary. the lamp itself is supposed to be a ghee lamp but because of my current living circumstances i can't burn oil right now so there is a tea light in it (not quite vedic and probably not as good but i think God will understand :))



Just a note; on the interfaith and multifaith Boards, it's best to be specific as to which "God" your're referring to. Plain "God" is usually understood to be the Christian YHWH. Even the Jews around here refer to "Hashem", to distinguish themselves a bit. And while it may seem silly, the fact is that because Christians and Jews interpret the Old Testament so very differently, I personally don't see "Hashem" and YHWH as being the same Deity at all!.. And I don't even want to begin to guess which of the one of the myriad Hindu Deities you were referring to! :p

But yes, you're absolutely right, I'm quite sure that God understands you're situation and will happily overlook the lack of ghee.


Radhe;
anyway arati is sometimes translated as waving lights. i do it at the end of puja. the light is waved clockwise around the deity, bells are rung, and hymns sung. it is another form of worship and through the offering the light becomes infused with blessings. we will then touch the just above the flame then the bring our hands to the head. it's a way of internalizing the power.



That is just fascinating and cool. :D
I believe I saw that in the movie; "Baraka". Now I know why.


[COLOR=black]Radhe;
Is it safe to assume from you sig that you are a Zen practitioner?



Yes, yes I am. In the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Gassho!



[/COLOR]

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 29, 2008 - 3:29PM #94
radhe-govinda
Posts: 52
Namaste :)

[QUOTE=Chiyo;723298]We really do have a wonderful group here, I'm so very pleased.



Hey, that's neat. Sounds like the tilak almost corresponds with the Catholic Communion. As to the vertical line, I would imagine most Americans might have trouble understanding that, after all, we don't like to be "walked on"... But that's not what it means at all, I would imagine. Footprint = evidence that the unseen Deity was here. Right?

Then too, the Asatru (Aryans) say that the footprint is a sign for Freyr and Freya, if I'm not mistaken? And, with Njord as well. Surely, there's a an "ancestral" connection of somekind there... That would be interesting to dig up. [/QUOTE]

the tilak a little different than Communion (this is probably a bit closer to prasad, the food offered then consumed)  when worn by devotees it has multiple meanings (as in most things it can get really complicated- i am actually an american convert so i often find myself in a state of confusion lol)  but the tilak on one level is an identifying mark as to which tradition you belong too- shiva, vishnu, or devi worshipers.  next it is worn by many as a means of spiritual protection.  in this case it isn't just worn on the forehead there are a number of places on the body where it is worn and it is applied while reciting mantras.  then it is also worn as a sacramental (what i described before)  you receive it from a priest or apply it yourself when you go to pujas, celebrations or holy places. 



in this image the girl on the top left is a Vishnu devotee and her tilak shows that she is a worshiper of krishna in particular. its made from either sandlewood or sacred clay. kumkum may or may not be added depending on the particular lineage. Also some Vishnu tilaks are actually a U or V shape. the guy on the top right is a follower of Shiva as denoted by the three horizontal white lines.  these lines are made with vibhuti which is sacred ash.  the extra gold line and dot probably show which particular tradition of Shiva worship he follows. the guy on the bottom left is a Shakti or goddess worshiper.  their tilak is often a simple red dot between the eye brows make of kumkum.  and the fourth guy...i'm not quite sure why he's in the image but he appears to be a sunyasi (monk)

the foot print idea is something unique to followers of Vishnu in his various forms.  this is mainly a bhakti (devotion) tradition.  and it's not just devotion like saying a rosary or going to holiday celebrations once or twice a year, it is ecstatic devotion, a type of surrendering to Vishnu.  Having his foot print on a devotee is a sign of surrender, it also shows the intimate relationship between the person and the divine.  to have Vishnu's foot print on one's head is a sign that they belong to him and are always close to him. 

that is very cool too about the Asatru.  i am not all that familiar with the tradition but i wonder if there is a connection.  if i remember correctly too, one of the earliest icons used for the Buddha was foot print.  it would very interesting to do a cross cultural study of the significance of the foot print. 


[QUOTE] Just a note; on the interfaith and multifaith Boards, it's best to be specific as to which "God" your're referring to. Plain "God" is usually understood to be the Christian YHWH. Even the Jews around here refer to "Hashem", to distinguish themselves a bit. And while it may seem silly, the fact is that because Christians and Jews interpret the Old Testament so very differently, I personally don't see "Hashem" and YHWH as being the same Deity at all!.. And I don't even want to begin to guess which of the one of the myriad Hindu Deities you were referring to! {/QUOTE]

i hope i didn't offend anyone.  i was using God as a more general term.  i will be specify from here on out though.  thanks for the heads up and again i'm sorry if i offended or confused anyone.  just to put my post then into context, i am specifically a follower of Vishnu (vaishnava sect)


[QUOTE]Yes, yes I am. In the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. ]/QUOTE]

Very cool!!! Thay is a wonderful teacher.  I remember reading some of his books as a teen, truly an inspiring person.  Have you spent time at Plum Village or met him?
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2008 - 12:32AM #95
Rosie-Toes
Posts: 675
My altar is a simple little wooden trunk. I keep what I need inside it (books, candles, herbs, incense, etc). this way, it can be moved easily (I travel a lot).
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2008 - 12:49AM #96
Chiyo
Posts: 5,799
RADHE!

Here you are! I knew this post existed, but it "disappeared' before I could answer it. I've been looking for it... Thanks to Rosie for bumping it to the top, where I could find it again. ;)


[QUOTE]
Radhe; Namaste :)
the tilak a little different than Communion (this is probably a bit closer to prasad, the food offered then consumed)
[/QUOTE]

I can understand that.

[QUOTE]when worn by devotees it has multiple meanings (as in most things it can get really complicated- i am actually an american convert so i often find myself in a state of confusion lol) but the tilak on one level is an identifying mark as to which tradition you belong too- shiva, vishnu, or devi worshipers. next it is worn by many as a means of spiritual protection. in this case it isn't just worn on the forehead there are a number of places on the body where it is worn and it is applied while reciting mantras. then it is also worn as a sacramental (what i described before) you receive it from a priest or apply it yourself when you go to pujas, celebrations or holy places. [/QUOTE]

Radhe's post has been edited for brevity...

Thank you so very much, for you detailed and very well-thought-out reply!... I really do love to learn about other people's sacramentals and rituals - how they get in touch with the Divine. :D

[QUOTE]Radhe; that is very cool too about the Asatru. i am not all that familiar with the tradition but i wonder if there is a connection. if i remember correctly too, one of the earliest icons used for the Buddha was foot print. it would very interesting to do a cross cultural study of the significance of the foot print. [/QUOTE]

I have no doubt, none whatsoever, that Asatru has some ancient and cultural connections with early Hinduism. I can't display my slender proofs here, because I no longer have my texts and because it would take too long -- but I've seen some interesting links between the two in the past... Even the woman who had written The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism, made a link or two between the Norse Gods (Thor was specifically mentioned) and their Hindu predecessors. She also made a few links with Hindu words and Nordic words, etymologically.

Originally quoted by Chiyo; Just a note; on the interfaith and multifaith Boards, it's best to be specific as to which "God" your're referring to. Plain "God" is usually understood to be the Christian YHWH. Even the Jews around here refer to "Hashem", to distinguish themselves a bit. And while it may seem silly, the fact is that because Christians and Jews interpret the Old Testament so very differently, I personally don't see "Hashem" and YHWH as being the same Deity at all!.. And I don't even want to begin to guess which of the one of the myriad Hindu Deities you were referring to! {/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]Radhe; i hope i didn't offend anyone. i was using God as a more general term. i will be specify from here on out though. thanks for the heads up and again i'm sorry if i offended or confused anyone. just to put my post then into context, i am specifically a follower of Vishnu (vaishnava sect) [/QUOTE]

No, no, no. You didn't offend anyone. Knowing you, you're not likely too. It's just a matter of clarity - we like to know who and what you're talking about. :)

Yes, yes I am. In the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. ]/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]
Very cool!!! Thay is a wonderful teacher. I remember reading some of his books as a teen, truly an inspiring person. Have you spent time at Plum Village or met him?
[/QUOTE]

No, I'm sorry to say, I've not had the pleasure or the privilege to spend any time at Plum Village or to meet Thay. And as he is now extremely elderly, somehow, I doubt that I will. But that's okay, really, he's written so many books and made so many videos (Youtube!), he's given us his teachings in so many ways. It's not the same as learning from him in person, but these materials have taught me the most valuable things in my practice.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2008 - 12:53AM #97
Chiyo
Posts: 5,799

Rosie-Toes wrote:

My altar is a simple little wooden trunk. I keep what I need inside it (books, candles, herbs, incense, etc). this way, it can be moved easily (I travel a lot).



Nothing at all wrong with simplicity!... Some people keep portable altars that are so small that they can be fit into a large pocket. In fact, you can look them up on Ebay, under "pocket shrine" or "portable shrine". :)

May I be nosy and ask; why do you travel a lot?

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2008 - 1:27PM #98
Genocon
Posts: 404

Chiyo wrote:


I have no doubt, none whatsoever, that Asatru has some ancient and cultural connections with early Hinduism. I can't display my slender proofs here, because I no longer have my texts and because it would take too long -- but I've seen some interesting links between the two in the past... Even the woman who had written The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism, made a link or two between the Norse Gods (Thor was specifically mentioned) and their Hindu predecessors. She also made a few links with Hindu words and Nordic words, etymologically.



I know Wikipedia gets a bum rap sometimes, but it's article on the theoretical proto-Indo-European religion is pretty interesting, especially all the linguistic connections between the names of the various "father" deities throughout Europe (Zeus, Jupiter, Tyr) to Vedic deities (dyaus pitar, or "sky father,"very similar to the Latin deus pater). There's also someone trying to construct such a religion.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2008 - 2:38PM #99
Chiyo
Posts: 5,799

Genocon wrote:

I know Wikipedia gets a bum rap sometimes, but it's article on the theoretical proto-Indo-European religion is pretty interesting, especially all the linguistic connections between the names of the various "father" deities throughout Europe (Zeus, Jupiter, Tyr) to Vedic deities (dyaus pitar, or "sky father,"very similar to the Latin deus pater). There's also someone trying to construct such a religion.



Everything has its place in the universe. Even Wikipedia. :)
I often use it as a starting point, then, it will often point me to more reliable resources.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2008 - 2:50PM #100
ZenYen
Posts: 447
Chiyo: I went to a bunch of yard sales with my wife the other day (I usually detest yard sales, but she loves them and I wanted to spend time with her, so ... anyway).  At one home I found a small white glass statue of Hotei — in a free box, no less!

I placed it on my desk at work. Not really an altar so much, but a miniature reminder to me to be mindful and to work on those aspects of my personality that really could use some work.
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