The purpose of this write up is to find out what makes a Hindu to "pour" milk over "stone".
The procedure is called Abhisheka equivalent in meaning to bathing. To understand its relevance , it is first necessary to understand how Hindus worship their godS ( not god, godS - S with a capital, not one God, but many many gods - this is very very important ).
Hindus treat their gods and goddesses like kings and queens. They live in palaces. A synonym for devalaya in Sanskrit is praasada which means palace.Coronation ceremony for a king in sanskrit is called rajayabhisheka.
भूतो भूतेषु इति सूक्तेन राज्याभिषेके शान्त्युदकजलेन पुरोहितः अभिषेकं कुर्यात् । ( कौ.गृ.सू )
The king is bathed with the suktam starting bhuto bhuteshu and that is how royalty is infused into him. That is what makes him a king. That much is the power of mantras and abhisheka.
At the time of consecration of temples , the idol is bathed with eighty one pots of different dravyas. Some of them are - Milk, ghee, curd,honey, gomutra, decoctions of herbs, water from holy rivers, sandal etc.
There are specific mantras associated with each dravya. The particular substance acts as a carrier medium for the particular mantra.
For example , abhisheka with gandhodaka ( sandal mixed water ) is done with the mantra "gandhadwaram...."
Now, don't come around and ask me to scientifically establish that these materials can act as carriers. If a plastic disk coated with something can be used to record sound and carry it around, this should also work.
Now, once the king is established as king in his throne , there are daily ceremonies practiced . They reflect his power and authority. Strict protocols are established. The days of even the present day heads of states are marked by such spectacles.
In a temple, the god is woken up in the morning, taken through the daily routine through the day and put to sleep in the night like a king. The ceremonial bath is an important part of this routine. This entire procedure is often sequenced as follows.
- Providing water for washing of feet
- Providing drink
- Cleansing ritual
- Ceremonious drink
- Ceremonious bath
- Providing royal robes
- Providing yajnopaveeta and ornaments
- Anointment such as sandal, kumkuma
- Offering garlands, worship with flowers
- Offering scented dhupa
- Worship with lamp
- Offering royal naivedya ( food )
- Offering tamboola
- Worship with lamps,camphor
- Offering royal umbrella, fans, dance, music etc
The abhishkea is the royal bathing ceremony. Materials known for their purity and divine qualities are used here, milk being one of the foremost among them.
Veda says -
ऊर्जं हि पयः संभरन्ति
- Milk is a storehouse of energy.
It is the dravya used in agnihotra - the daily yajna.
This abhisheka serves the twofold purpose of cleansing and revitalizing the divine presence in the idol by means of the materials used for it acting as carriers for the appropriate mantras from the priest to the idol.
Some innocent questions :
- Is feeding the poor the ultimate aim in life ? Hinduism obviously is one religion , where charity is of utmost importance. It does not mean exclusion of every other aspect of multifaceted human existence and development.
- Is this a clandestine effort to turn man away from religion and channelize the society's resources to dubious charitable institutions ?
- Places of worship where milk is NOT "poured" over "stone" - Does the devotee who goes there , buy milk and give to a poor man at least once in his lifetime ?
- Do we practice this in our own lives ? - while travelling in business class, while eating at five star restaurants, bathing at royal spas, while living in bungalows, moving around in the most expensive cars ? Do we think of those poor man who can be bought milk with all that money ?
- Isn't it better that we leave all this socio economic planning to Economists ?