Darsan, Murti, Puja, and Prasad
1. Darsan: auspicious seeing
a. Visual India
b. The prominent role of the eyes in apprehending the sacred
1. Very large, prominent and detailed eyes in images
c. Giving and taking darsan
1. Seeing and being seen by the deity is vital in order to receive blessing
2. Darsan can be received/taken from gurus, temples, sacred places such as Himalayas, photos of the images and films.
d. Iconic and aniconic images
1. Iconic images are images that resemble the deity, have a likeness about them
1. Examples: Nataraja or Dancing Shiva
2. Aniconic images are images that represent the deity through symbolism
Linga and Shiva or the Cross in Christianity
2. Murti: iconic images of the gods-important distinction
a. Divine descent
b. Embodiment or manifestation of the deity
1. Process of divine going from formlessness to form
2. Image is simply a place for the divine to inhabit for worship
3. The image itself/alone is not divine
c. Uses of Murti’s:
1. Point of concentration
3. Quote from Eck pg. 45
1. “Without a form, how can God be meditated upon? If (He is) without any form, where will the mind fix itself? When there is nothing for the mind to attach itself to, it will slip away from meditation or will glide into a state of slumber. Therefore the wise will meditate on some form, remembering, however, that the form is a superimposition and not a reality” (Eck, p. 45).
d. Before the deity will inhabit the murti a worshipper must purify the image with pure substances such as honey and ghee
e. Next the deity is invited in and the deity is treated as if it is a guest in your home. The image is clothed, entertained and offered flowers, food etc.
f. The presence of the divine in the murti is indicative of the love the divine has for the worshippers
g. The divine descends from the celestial realm to the earthly realm out of love and compassion for human beings.
3. Puja: rites of devotional worship and honor
a. Divine-human reciprocity
b. One uses all the senses in Puja
1. See the deity and receive darsan
2. Touches the image and then touches one’s own body to establish the presence of the deity
3. Hears the mantras, ringing bells
4. Tastes consecrated food
4. Prasad: offerings of food
a. Physical transaction
b. There is a transaction taking place here-the worshipper makes an offering and then receives back what the deity does not eat
c. The food returned has now been blessed, purified, you take in god.