• What is Prana Pratishta and its purpose. How is Murti purification done?

Brahman is all-pervading, eternal, and hence infinite.

Taittiriya Upanishad 2.6, says,बहु स्यां प्रजायेयेति” - “May I become many, and have offspring.” 

Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3 says,स वै नैव रेमे तस्मादेकाकी न रमते स द्वितीयमैच्छत्” - He (being alone) did not enjoy (i.e. he was bored). He desired a second (individual separate from himself).” 

In principle, every form is His form. In Sanatan Dharma, trees, stones, rivers, mountains, flowers, animals are worshipped, not due to superstition but out of understanding, since He is everywhere and everything is Him only.


Automatically a question arises in mind that when God exists everywhere, why do we need a temple? So, if Divine is everywhere, our actions towards everyone should be as if Divine is in all. However, we don’t have that wisdom. Temples are required to invoke Bhakti or devotion to see His presence everywhere.


When a temple is built and a vigraha is installed, it is initially just a murti made of stone or metal. After proper rituals, temple and vigraha is sanctified so that devotees recognize that it is symbolic of Ishwara.


In Prana Pratishta, the all-pervading Ishwara is invoked to come into the vigraha. After prana pratishta, the deity is treated as Bhagwan. Hence, daily puja and offerings have to be done following Shastras. In South India, just before the function, the sculptor opens the eyes of Ishwara in the figure. After the function, the sculptor does not touch it since the Lord is there.


That is why in festivals like Durga Puja, Ganesha Puja, a priest invokes the presence of the deity in supari through rituals. After the puja is over, the priest requests the Divine Ishwara to leave and this ritual is called, visarjana. After that, the vigraha is sent off through the route of water.


Temples are permanent residences of the deities where Bhagwan blesses humanity. ‘Prana Pratistha’ means giving life to deities. ‘Prana’ means Life. Invocation is done following Agama Shastras. It is called Kumbhabhishekam in the South. Kumbhabhishekam is the pinnacle of temple consecration. It is done with specific rituals prescribed by the Agama Shastras for the purification and consecration of a sacred space. This life-giving ceremony establishes the life-force of Bhagwan in the image and transforms a mere stone (called bimba in Sanskrit) to a sacred icon. These consecrated images are called murtis or vigrahas in Sanskrit. Once these rituals of Prana Pratistha have been performed, regular puja offerings must be made daily in accordance with the scriptures.


Pran Pratishtha is a grand event that requires the participation of several well-trained Vedic Purohits (priests). The ceremonies involve many elaborate offerings which are expensive to procure and laborious to prepare. It is definitely a community effort. Everything must be planned according to the scriptures and timed carefully by a competent astrologer. Special rituals are required to purify and bring life to the image, turning the stone (bimba) into the living, and breathing manifestation of bhagwan (Vigraha). Prana is Bhagwan, Bhagwan is Prana and all things exist by His grace.


In Pran Pratishtha, Bhagwan is invoked into the image and Divine prana is established for the benefit of society.


Agamas are main texts which deal with details of Temple construction, consecration, and worship. ‘Kumbha’ means a water pot. ‘Abhishekam’ means empowering, anointing, bathing, consecrating, or coronation. It is the ritual of pouring consecrated water over deities to purify and energize them. After several days, water is blessed through multiple fire ceremonies and other rituals. This Holy water, which has been blessed, is poured from water pots on the sacred images in the Temple and over the inverted kumbhas atop the Temple towers. Through these rituals Mandir is purified of all negative energies and Mandir is energized. This process establishes the flow of spiritual energies of Devi and devatas to bless people.


Channels are opened into the inner realms so that blessings can pour forth into the physical realm.  The Vigraha is not Bhagwan because Bhagwan is Transcendent; it is a point of focus for worship by devotees. The vigraha is instilled with sacred Shakti and is treated with great reverence. 


For ‘bimba shudhi,’ Murtis are cleaned with mud from the Ganges and other Holy rivers, cow dung, crushed bananas, ashes, and tamarind 32 times in a ritual called ‘murti samskara’. Coconuts, ash gourds and limes are broken to remove ‘drishti dosha’ (negative energy through glance). The PanchaGavya (five sacred substances from the cow- milk, ghee, yogurt, dung, and urine) are consecrated with mantras and blessed in a homa called Brahma Kurcha, where the Panchagavyas are offered with a bundle of durba grass with particular Vedic mantras. These Panchagavyas are then used to bathe the murti, which is then washed again with rice flour and warm water. These rituals help to remove dirt and dust, and they remove the negative energies.

We go to the temple to see Bhagwan alive. For that temple is needed for most of us.  

In Shri Ramcharitmanas Sundar Kand Pada 44, Sri Rama says, ‘sanamukha hoi jīva mohi jabahīṅ, janma koṭi agha nāsahiṅ tabahīṅ’. “The moment the soul surrenders to Me, its account of sinful deeds in endless past lifetimes is destroyed.” 

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Also read

1. Prana Prathistha

2. What is Consecration

3. The Science of Consecration by Sadhguru

4. BAPS Murti Prathistha

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