Forms of Hindu Worship

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We categorise worship or religious practice into following five categories

1>Preta or Ghost worship - this is worshipping low level spirits and ghosts. this type of worship has always been practiced amon certain section of the human population. Ojhas in India are famous in India. Ghost worship is most prevelant among the muslims in India. Ghost worship is also a form of worship, but certainly the lowest form of worship ~ but it is still a worship as spirits are an aspect of nature's power.

2>Pitri or Ancestor worship - Hindu's do this through tarpanam during a normal puja. This can also be called devta or god worship where god refers to higher beings or demi gods. The sceince is more difficult to explain here, but roughly pitri loka is the place where souls of our anscestors who are not trapped in lower spirit stage. Thus this corresponds to higher stages of awareness and "gods" rule here. In hinduism pitri loka is often refered as heaven and all post death rites are meant to help a soul to pass into this heaven. By doing tarpanam we seek the blessings of our heavenly ancestors and the gods.

3>Avatar worship - worshipping the avatars of God. Thus worship of lord rama or lord krishna or buddha (perhaves christ too) will fall into this category. Avatar worship really means trying to follow the character and teachings of these avatars in our life. Avatars generally represent some particular aspects of godhead. Krishna is regarded as the complete aspect of Godhead. Avatars are God but they are human too. Analysisng more will get complex

4>Saguna Brahma Upasana/worship - brahma is the impersonal ultimate reality for Hindu's. Brahma is beyond creation, yet it is the creation. saguna brahma is the aspect of brahma in creation. It is the active aspect of Godhead. Various Gods and Goddess are but personalised visions of a aspect of active brahman or godhead. 5 principle deities form the saguna brahma - Ganesh, Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti. They are called the pancha devta and worshiped before worshipping any particular God/Goddess. This is to makes us unsderstand that we are begining to worship a particular aspect of godhead represented collectively by the 5- deities. All higher hindu rituals are saguna brahma worship. There are a few fools who think this as idol worship (they themselves stuck with ghost worship) ... but it is actually the highest possible worship.

5>Nirguna Brahma worship - Nirguna brahma or passive brahma cannot be an object of worship since it cannot be cognized by human mind. It is beyond any knowing. Only higest jnanis or karmis can rest in it in their final samadhi. Yet brahma is also included as a stage of worship~for ordinary mortals nirguna brahma worship means jnana yoga of instrospection and philosophising. Actual nirguna brahma is not an object of worship but final experience.

Namaste Prachanda,

Thanks for the post.

I was wondering where you see the vedic fire rituals (yajnas) fitting into the above catagorization. Would you catagorize vedic yajnas under the Saguna Brahma worship?

Also, as you know, there are forms of veneration of other beings (be they worldly such as serpents, or supernatural such as tree-spirits) practiced in certain Hindu communities. Many times, these practices coexist in Hindu communities alongside the so-called higher forms of worship. Interestingly, people who practice both find little to no contradiction between the two.


PrachandaChandikA said:
We categorise worship or religious practice into following five categories
Namaste Agni,

Commenting on vedic fire sacrifices will be crossing my line. Only a knowledgable vedic scholar can comment~from the outside sacrifices karma kanda looks like offerings to heavenly gods and has similarity to pitri-upasana. But this is just an ignorant guess.

I have found that above classification (expounded by one great saint) easily fits into any post-vedic rituals we see today in hinduism and even elsewhere outside hinduism.

There is no contradiction between pret or ghost worship and the highest worship. In many hindu rituals one starts off in the begining by offering to ghosts so that there is no disturbance. Pure ghost worship can perhaves only be for occult and material purposes, but no contradiction as such with highest upasana.

Conradiction if any, arises when someone is insisting only on one form of upasana for all.