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Parikrama : A Hindu Ritual Of Circumambulating Around A Sacred Object

Parikrama : Also Known as Pradakshina is a Hindu ritual of circumambulating around a deity or a sacred object. It is a way of showing reverence and devotion to the divine. Hindus believe that by performing Pradakshina, they can receive blessings and spiritual benefits.

There are various methods of performing Pradakshina , depending on the context and the purpose. One common method is to start the circumambulation from the Dwajastambham (flagpole) in the temple and complete the circle by reaching the deity and offering obeisance.

In some Shiva temples, there is a specific type of Pradakshina called Chandi Pradakshina, which is performed around the temple complex.

It is important to note that Atma Pradakshina, which is the act of circumambulating oneself, should be performed as part of personal worship at home and not in the temple. The deity in the temple represents the center of the universe, and the temple itself symbolizes the infinite universe.

Pradakshina is seen as a way to counteract the effects of negative karma and to seek liberation from the cycle of birth and death. By going around the Lord in the form of Pradakshina, Hindus believe that they can mitigate the consequences of their past actions. The ultimate goal of Pradakshina is to align one’s body, mind, and soul with the divine.

Parikrama & Legendary Story

There is a legendary story associated with Pradakshina, where Kumaraswamy and Ganapathi undertake a race to circumambulate the entire universe. While Kumaraswamy sets off on a peacock vehicle to complete the task quickly, Ganapathi cleverly circles around Parvathi-Parameshwaras, leaving traces of his presence wherever he goes. Eventually, Kumaraswamy acknowledges Ganapathi’s wisdom, and both receive the Ganadhi Patham, the reward for circumambulating the entire universe.

Different types of Pradakshina include Aswattha Pradakshina (circumambulating a sacred fig tree), Bhupradakshina (circumambulating the earth), and Kulashaila Pradakshina (circumambulating a sacred mountain). Each type of Pradakshina is believed to yield specific benefits.

The time and manner of performing Pradakshina can vary. It is considered auspicious to perform Pradakshina of the sun during sunrise and sunset. Sri Ramana Maharishi, a renowned sage, analyzed the word Pradakshina, where “Pra” signifies the annihilation of sins, “Kshi” represents the decay of future births, and “Na” denotes freedom from ignorance.

The Puranas also mention stories related to Pradakshina. For example, the Go Pradakshina Purana narrates the tale of Gautama, who performed three rounds around a cow during his daily worship. As a result, when Indra wanted to marry Ahalya, Narada revealed that Gautama had already circled the cow before Indra’s attempt, making him worthy of Ahalya’s hand in marriage.

There are different types of Pradakshina based on the method or context of the circumambulation. Here are the types:

  1. Atma Pradakshina: This refers to self-circumambulation. It is a practice where an individual walks around oneself, symbolizing self-realization and introspection.
  2. Pada Pradakshina: This type of Pradakshina involves walking on foot while circumambulating around a sacred object, deity, or pilgrimage site.
  3. Giri Pradakshina: It is the circumambulation of a hill or a sacred mountain where a deity is worshipped. Many Hindu temples are situated on hills, and devotees perform Giri Pradakshina by walking around the hill as a form of reverence and seeking blessings.
  4. Anga Pradakshina: In this type, the devotee performs Pradakshina by rolling on the ground, making their entire body touch the ground at each point of the circumambulation. It is considered an act of deep surrender and humility.
  5. Danda Pradakshina: This form of Pradakshina involves doing Danda Pranams, which are full prostrations while moving around the sacred object or deity. The devotee offers their obeisance by fully lying down with arms stretched forward, symbolizing complete surrender and devotion.

These different types of Pradakshina provide devotees with various ways to express their reverence, surrender, and seek blessings according to their preferences and the specific practices associated with different sacred places or contexts.

Overall, Pradakshina is a sacred practice in Hinduism, symbolizing devotion, surrender, and the seeking of spiritual benefits. It is believed to bring purification, blessings, and liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

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