15 RULES FOR OFFERING OBEISANCES INSIDE THE TEMPLES
We go to the temples of Krishna/ Narayana / Vishnu. We perform worship in a particular manner and come back.
Have we ever thought whether we are offering our obeisances in the temple as per the recommended rules?
Mostly no. But, Everyone must know the rules of offering obeisances.
Here are the rules to be followed inside the temples:
(1) The general expectation by the visitors will be offering obeisances straight facing the deity. But, we do obeisances facing the left side to the deity.
In the “Sri Vaishnava” temples, Garuda Bhagawan will be standing opposite to the deity of Vishnu.
In ISKCON temples, Srila Prabhupada’s full murthy will be sitting facing the deity of Krishna-Balarama (or) Gaur Nitai (or) Radha-Krishna.
So, if we offer obeisances facing the deity of Lord, our feet will direct Garuda or Srila Prabhupada that may be a disrespect for such great devotees of Lord. So, we offer obeisances from the side of the deity.
(2) Girls/ women/ aged men need not do full obeisances. They can bend and touch the floor with their head. That is enough.
(3) We can offer obesiances directly/even from left side of ours, ie, towards deity’s right side.
Srila Prabhupada says-
Such full obeisances (called dandavat, “like a stick”) are described as follows:
dorbhya padäbhya janubhyam urasa cirasa dasa
manasa vacasa ceti pranamo stanga irita
“The obeisances offered with eight limbs are made with the two arms, the two legs, the two knees, the chest, the head, the eyes, the mind and the power of speech.”
(4) Another reason for offering the obeisances is that since our heart is to our left, we offer obeisances in that way. Though this 4th point has no confirmation, I have given just for knowledge.
What are the procedures of offering obeisances inside a temple?
(5) Upon entering the temple, one should first offer obeisances (panchanga pranama) to the assembled Vaisnavas and utter the prayer:
vancha-kalpatarubhyaç ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanaa pavanebhyo vaisnavebhyo namo namah
MEANING: I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord. They are just like desire trees who can fulfill the desires of everyone and they are full of compassion for fallen conditioned souls.
(6) Then one should offer obeisances (full dandavats for men) to Srila Prabhupada, keeping him on one’s left, and chant his Pranati Mantra.
One should then move towards the deities and offer full prostrated obeisances, keeping the deities on our left side and chant their respective pranama mantras.
(7) It may be noted that one should not offer obeisances on one hand. Both hands should support the body while bowing down and both hands should be outstretched.
(8) After offering obeisances to the deities one should take darshana with great devotion and beg for Their mercy.
(9) One should not, however, immediately look upon the deities full in the face.
(10) The proper manner in which one should take the darshan of the Lord is described in Srimad Bhagvatam 2.2.13:
“The process of meditation should begin from lotus feet of the Lord and progress to His smiling face. The meditation should be concentrated upon the lotus feet then the calves, then the thighs and in this way higher and higher. The more the mind becomes fixed on diferent parts of the limbs one after another, the more the intelligence becomes purified.”
Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport that such meditation will help us get detached from sense gratification. The mood of the devotee taking darshan is “Sir, I am your seternal servant. Please let me know how can I serve You?”. The functions of the big deities in the temple are for giving darshan and usually are the istadevas of the sampradaya. So it is quite natural and respectful to see Them first.
(11) There are also other considerations. If there are three altars Like the Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan or Sri Sri Radha Rasbihari Mandir at Juhu then Srila Prabhupada would pay obeisances first at Gaur Nitai`s Altar then go to Krishna Balaram’s Altar and then to Sri Sri Radha Syamsunder.
(12) We usually try to push others and go near the deities in temples. But, as per rules, One should worship the deities in temples FROM AS FAR AS POSSIBLE. Why these conditions in going near the deities?
Whole idea of not going very near to the deity is to save ourself from committing some offences because at the neophyte stage we will simply try to find out some mistakes.
(13) One should not offer obeisances to the other devotees inside the temple BY FALLING DOWN. SUCH A FULL DANDAVATS TOUCHING THE GROUND SHOULD BE OFFERED TO THE DEITIES, ACHARYA. HOWEVER, you can offer obeisances COMMONLY to all the devotees present there, NOT INDIVIDUALLY.
(14) For individual devotees, you may offer obeisances in a standing posture with the folded hands. It is enough.
(15) One should avoid General unclean habits such as disturbing unclean parts of body (ex: nose, teeth, private parts, etc), combing the hairs, sleeping in the temple hall, etc.
Srila Prabhupada writes in one purport (Caitanya Caritamruta – Madhya (12-212):
“Lord Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu usually saw Lord Jagannätha from a distance, standing behind the column of Garuda. But because he had not seen Lord Jagannätha for fifteen days, Caitanya Mahäprabhu felt great separation from Him. In great eagerness, Caitanya Mahäprabhu crossed the meeting hall and entered the room where food was offered, just to see the face of Lord Jagannatha. In verse 210, this action is called maryada-laighana, a violation of the regulative principles. This indicates that one should not come very near a superior. Both the Lord’s Deity form and the spiritual master should be seen from a distant place. This is called maryada. Otherwise, as it is said, familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes coming too near the Deity or the spiritual master degrades the neophyte devotee. Personal servants of the Deity and the spiritual master should therefore always be very careful, for negligence may overcome them in their duty.”
If we follow these rules in a temple, it will be nice for our devotion.