Significance of Pradakshina
Every Hindu temple is strategically designed and is built where positive energy is available in abundance. The place where the idol of the deity is enthroned is known as the “Garbhagriha” or “Moolasthanam”. The Garbhagriha is located in the center of the temple where maximum magnetic waves of the earth are present. The Deity Idols are placed in the center of the temple. One of the most significant rituals of Hindu religion is Circumambulation popularly known as Pradakshina.
A circle cannot be drawn without a center point. Similarly, we wouldn’t have existed in absence of the Supreme. Therefore, in order to honor, acknowledge and show gratitude to the Supreme, we perform the pradakshina. This involves, taking a walk around the Garbha griha, which is the innermost chamber of the temple, where the deity idol is placed. According to the Rig Veda verses Rig: 2.42.3 and 2.43.1 –” Pra as an adjective means very much. Pra is a prefix to verbs which means onward or forward. Dakshina literally means south. The Veda suggests that one’s right side must face the deity while taking the in the clockwise direction also known as Dakshinacharam or auspicious. The pradakshina is also carried out around Tulsi plant, Holy Fire, Peepal tree and also around the outer area of the temple. Pradakshina is done in a meditative form after the ritual of puja is over.
The Origin of Pradakshina:
According to a legend, Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati were given a divine fruit by the Gods. This fruit was said to be so divine that, the one consuming it was sure to gain supreme knowledge and immortality. Both, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya wanted to eat that fruit and started arguing over the same. In order to end the argument between the brothers, Lord Shiva asked them to do a task. The task was to circle the world three times. The one who circles the world three times and comes back first would get to consume the divine fruit. Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesh agreed to this task. Being a God of war, Lord Kartikeya immediately started off the journey without wasting anytime. Lord Ganesh knew that he won’t be able to compete with the mighty Lord Kartikeya and hence he applied his wit and started circling his parents. Lord Shiva asked Lord Ganesh, “what are you doing?” to which Lord Ganesh said “You both are my parents and within you lays the whole world”. Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati got impressed by Lord Ganesh and declared him the winner. Thus, the ritual of pradakshina came into existence.
Half Pradakshina of Shiva Linga
In Shiva temple, the devotees begin the Pradakshina by walking clockwise till they reach the gomukhi. Gomukhi is the outlet where the water, milk, ghee or ashes used for abhisheka are drained out. Once the worshipper reaches the Gomukhi, he/she has to stop and start walking in anti-clockwise direction till he/she reaches the other side of the gomukhi. In this way, one Pradakshina is completed.
Significance of half Pradakshina of Shiva Linga
According to Shastras and Shivpurana, only half-parikrama must be carried out by the devotees around the Shiva Linga. This practice is justified by explaining that, Shiva is both ‘Aadi’ & ‘Anant’. Aadi meaning first or beginning and Anant means everlasting. Thus, the divine and endless energy (Shakti) flowing from him is represented in the form of Nirmili which is the narrow outlet from where the milk and water flows. It is a sacred part of the Shivling and should never be over-stepped. According to an old legend, there was a king named Gandharva who was a devotee of Shiva. Once, after performing the ‘abhishek’ on Shiva Linga, he started doing Pradakshina and by mistake over-stepped the Nirmili and in no time the king lost all his powers, might and intelligence. Because of overstepping the Nirmili, the king had to face the wrath of Lord Shiva. Hence, the ancient scriptures mention about the procedure of half Pradakshina for Lord Shiva.
In the ancient times, the Nirmili of the Shiv Linga was built in such a way that no one could see it as it was dug deep inside the earth surface. Therefore, there was no fear of over stepping it. But, in present times, the Nirmili is built above the earth’s surface. Hence it is advised, that one should only perform half Pradakshina of Shiva Linga.