Thursday, November 18, 2010


Pradakshina (Sanskrit), meaning circumambulation, consists of walking around in a 'circle' as a form of worship in Hindu ceremonies in India. The devotees walk around the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost chamber of the shrine housing the temple deity. It is done around sacred fire (Agni), trees and plants as well. Thus Pradakshina is done around Tulsi plant and Peepal tree. Pradakshina or Parikrama is done in pilgrimage centres also. Parikrama around the Govardhana mount near Mathura (UP) is very famous. This parikrama involves a walk of 26 miles around Govardhana hillock which is related to Shri Krishna's life as a child.

The circumambulation is done usually in a clockwise direction except in the Shiva temples. The clockwise direction is followed since the devotees should have their rightside towards the object of worship. For this, the devotees will have to walk towards their left hand side from the front of the object of worship. Pradakshina literally means: to the right (Dakshina means right). The Bali stones should be included in the Pradakshina purview. So in Pradakshina, one goes to the left hand direction to keep the deity as also the Bali Stones around the Sanctum Sanctorum on one's right side.

Pradakshina is one of the customary aspects of going to a temple. Typically, Pradakshina is done after the completion of traditional worship (puja) and after paying homage to the deity. Pradakshina is supposed to be done with a meditative mood.

The pathway made of granite stone around the shrine is called the Pradakshina path.
Pradakshina around the sacred fire is a part of the Hindu marriage ceremony.

Speciality of Pradakshina in SHIVA Temples
In Shiva temples, the devotees start the Pradakshina as usual from the front and go clockwise till they reach the gomukhi (the outlet for abhisheka water) from the Sanctum Sanctorum. As usual the clockwise perambulation is maintained outside of the Bali stones. The drainage outlet for the ritual ablution offered on the Shiva Linga with water, milk, curd, coconut water, ghee, ashes (bhasma)etc. is not to be crossed. So the worshippers have to return in anti-clockwise direction till they reach the other side of the drainage outlet to complete the circle. During this anti-clockwise perambulation, the devotee should tread a path inside of the Bali stones. The Bali stones are always to be kept the right side of the devotees. After reaching the drainage oulet, they have to return to the front in the clockwise direction keeping the path outside the Bali stones. Thus one Pradakshina is completed.

Shayana Pradakshinam
Shayana Pradakshinam is done in a lying posture. It starts with a Sashtanga Namaskara in front of the sanctum sanctorum. In Sashtanga Namaskara, the devotees have eight parts of their bodies touching the ground. Thus forehead, chest, shoulders, hands and knees touch the ground. The folded hands will be directed always towards the deity. In this pose, the devotees circumambulate on the Pradakshina path. The relatives and friends of the devotees help them to roll around. This is a tedious ritual.

Number of Pradakshinas
For each deity, the minimum number of Pradakshinas to be done are specified.

Ganesha: 1
Shiva: 2
Vishnu: 3
Ayyappa: 4
Subrahmanya (Karthikeya): 5
Durga: 6
Peepal Tree: 7

The Swayambhu Agama says that doing Pradakshina 21 times to any deity is sanctified.

Significance of doing Pradakshina
We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. We acknowledge this by performing Pradakshina. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. This is the significance of Pradakshina.

Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the centre. This means that wherever we may be or whoever we may be, we are equally close to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality.

According to Adi Sankaracharya, real Pradakshina is the meditation that thousands of universes are revolving around the Great Lord, the unmoving centre of all forms.

There is a popular legend about the significance of Pradakshina. Once Lord Shiva wanted his two sons, Ganesha and Subrahmanya, to get "worldly experience" and asked them take a "tour of the universe". While Subrahmanya spent decades traveling the world on his peacock, Ganesha just walked a full circle around his mother and father and is believed to have explained "since the world is contained within you, I have already encircled the world"!


sql dba said...

Hi, Umasankar Thank you for sharing lost information. But u forget some surnames like 1) Gandrapu 2) Rebbaprgada 3) Atlapragada 4) Vadarevu 5) Gannavarapu Etc...... Pls update them ASAP

Thank you

Madhurima said...

I really appreciate your work. Just wanted to bring some of the things to your notice - I have been hearing since my childhood from the other sects of Brahmins esp the priests that Niyogis are not pure Brahmins,they are the outcome of reunion of a Brahmin Man & Kshatriya Woman or vice-versa . And these Kshatriyas are the worshippers of Fire i.e Agni one example given is King Bhatruhari and also Satavahanas.According to somebody on internet the origin of this sect is Kazakhsthan (pre-muslim era) and migrated through uzbekistan, afaganisthan crossed Hindu-kush mountains and entered India .Another strong reason for this argument is having Kshatriya surnames in this sect. First settlements in Kashmir then migrated to Rajasthan, MadhyaPradesh etc . Is this true ? Any body did research on this ? Anyhow please add our surname KOPALLE to this list. Thanks

Vinodh said...

HI Umashankar,

This agama you mentioned is a mula agama or a upa agama ?

Thanks..Nice blog though.

Umasankar Vadrevu said...


Since you have asked about the Agama's I presume you will be having sufficient knowledge on the Agama's. However please find below some points to clarify your doubts.

The Agamas (Sanskrit: आगम) are a collection of scriptures of several Hindu devotional schools. The term literally means tradition or "that which has come down", and the Agama texts describe cosmology, epistemology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, mantras, temple construction, deity worship and ways to attain six fold desires. These canonical texts are in Sanskrit.

The three main branches of Agama texts are those of Shaivism (Shiva) Vaishnavism (Vishnu), and Shaktism (Devi). The Agamic traditions are sometimes called Tantrism, although the term "Tantra" is usually used specifically to refer to Shakta Agamas. The Agama literature is voluminous, and includes 28 Saiva Agamas, 77 Shakta Agamas (also called Tantras), and 108 Vaishnava Agamas (also called Pancharatra Samhitas), and numerous Upa-Agamas.

Now when I have written about Swayambhu Agama this basically falls under the 28 Saiva Agamas.

The Saiva Agama traces its origins from Shiva as,

Shivena devya datham, Devya dathamthu Nandhine, Nandhina Brahmana Datham, Brahmana Rishi Dhathakam, Rishinaam Maanusha Datham, Athyethe agamodhbavam.

From Shiva to Devi, From Devi to Nandi, From Nandi to Brahma, From Brahma to Rishi, From Rishi to human beings

— Saiva Agama,

The Saiva Agamas are found in four main schools - Kapala, Kalamukha, Pashupata and Shaiva —and number 28 in total as follows:

1. Kamikam
2. Yogajam
3. Chintyam
4. Karanam
5. Ajitham
6. Deeptham
7. Sukskmam
8. Sahasram
9. Ashuman
10. Suprabedham
11. Vijayam
12. Nishwasam
13. Swayambhuvam
14. Analam
15. Veeram
16. Rouravam
17. Makutam
18. Vimalam
19. Chandragnanam
20. Bimbam
21. Prodgeetham
22. Lalitham
23. Sidham
24. Santhanam
25. Sarvoktham
26. Parameshwaram
27. Kiranam
28. Vathulam

Hope it is clearer to you now.