Manasa Puja and Dhyana

by JTCd   30th January 2002

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What is Manasa puja?

Simply manasa puja means to worship in the mind. A devotee recently asked the following question on the Deity worship forum:

>How is the manasa-puja being conducted? If, for example, the sixteen
>upacaras are to be offered during manasa-puja, do we then offer each item in
>the mind by showing it to the deity (e.g. putting a full plate of bogha
>bevor the deity). Or do we have to do the whole precedure like in "reality"
>(e.g. if bogha is to be offered: idam asanam, etad padyam.....idam
>naivdeyam.............idam acamaniam......)?

There are certainly two ways of doing manasa puja. One either meditates that s/he is worshipping the deity in the mind in which case all services are performed exactly like one would do in the external temple. Offerings are done with all procedures and mantras that would be done externally. The other method of manasa puja is more for raganuga bhaktas. They meditate on serving the Supreme Lord and his companions directly or with the help of others. In this case also puja is performed with all the procedures however the persons being offered the puja are not deities but the Lord and His entourage in Vaikuntha/Goloka, etc.

>What is the standard for manasa-puja?

I don't think that there is any standard for manasa puja in ISKCON.

ys  Gaura Keshava das    ( X-Com-Textno: PAMHO5318004 )

another devotee also responded with another nice reply, as follows:

X-Com-Textno: PAMHO5330488

According to Sanatana Gosvami manasa puja should accompany the regular daily external worship.

There are different ways to offer manasa puja. One way is to meditate on offering all the items, much like a slide show. Just visualize each of the sixteen items and their appropriate circumstances, one after another. You may also use an acamana cup and spoon and offer the items along with mantra. This serves as an external device to assist in the meditation. It is important that the manasa puja should not be interrupted.

> When I use manasa puja (for example, if I'm on a very long plane journey
> and have to worship my Govardhana sila but have no facility or
> cleanliness..) I make a great endeavor to do every single step as if in
> reality. I also endeavor to do so mentally as if "seeing through my own
> eyes" rather than "seeing myself" as if a "movie."

As far as possible you should be clean when you do manasa puja. Please see the description of the brahmana and the sweet rice in Nectar Of Devotion.

Your servant,
Nrsimha Kavaca dasa

If one does not know any formal pUja prayog, or for one reason or another due to travelling, one can do a manasa pUja. It can be done anywhere, at any time, you dont have to spend a paisa on pUja materials either. manasa pUja is simply worshipping in mind. You imagine the entire sequence of the worship. It is not inferior to actual worship. In fact it is considered in some schools as being superior, as it is easy, and engages the mind without distraction. The usual is to prepare oneself through various pratiprokshanas such as bhut suddhi, pranayama, nyasa, dhyana, achaman (even sotariya achaman) etc. These will help one to focus the mind properly, and that is the essense of manasa puja. In actual physical pUja while situated in front of the Deity you may be sitting and the mind goes here and there thinking about your bank account, this and that. Therefore preparing the mind is essential to successfuly performing the pUja to the Lord. We have seen and experienced personally that without focusing the mind, by merely engaging the external senses in pUja one may do the function, even get some recognition for dresing the Archa-vighraha nicely, but the yoga that one should attain through such Ijya (worship) was not achieved. It can be easy to train anyone to follow a system and go through the motions of "worshipping the Lord" but in mAnasa pUja it is not so possible. Thus, free from lesser or possible "distracted seva" manasa's fixed or focused attention makes it higher seva.

In the process of worshiping the Deity it is sometimes enjoined that one worship the Deity within the mind. In the Padma Puräëa, Uttara-khaëòa, it is said, “All persons can generally worship within the mind.” The Gautaméya Tantra states, “For a sannyäsé who has no home, worship of the Deity within the mind is recommended.” In the Närada-païcarätra it is stated by Lord Näräyaëa that worship of the Deity within the mind is called mänasa-püjä, One can become free from the four miseries by this method. Sometimes worship from the mind can be independently executed. According to the instruction of Avirhotra Muni, one of the nava-yogendras, as mentioned in Çrémad-Bhägavatam, one may worship the Deity by chanting all the mantras. Eight kinds of Deities are mentioned in the çästra, and the mental Deity is one of them. In this regard, the following description is given in the Brahma-vaivarta Puräëa.
        In the city of Pratiñöhäna-pura, long ago, there resided a brähmaëa who was poverty-stricken but innocent and not dissatisfied. One day he heard a discourse in an assembly of brähmaëas concerning how to worship the Deity in the temple. In that meeting, he also heard that the Deity may be worshiped within the mind. After this incident, the brähmaëa, having bathed in the Godävaré River, began mentally worshiping the Deity. He would wash the temple within his mind, and then in his imagination he would bring water from all the sacred rivers in golden and silver waterpots. He collected all kinds of valuable paraphernalia for worship, and he worshiped the Deity very gorgeously, beginning from bathing the Deity and ending with offering ärati. Thus he felt great happiness. After many years had passed in this way, one day within his mind he cooked nice sweet rice with ghee to worship the Deity. He placed the sweet rice on a golden dish and offered it to Lord Kåñëa, but he felt that the sweet rice was very hot, and therefore he touched it with his finger. He immediately felt that his finger had been burned by the hot sweet rice, and thus he began to lament. While the brähmaëa was in pain, Lord Viñëu in Vaikuëöha began smiling, and the goddess of fortune inquired from the Lord why He was smiling. Lord Viñëu then ordered His associates to bring the brähmaëa to Vaikuëöha. Thus the brähmaëa attained the liberation of sämépya, the facility of living near the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Srimad Bhagavatam 7:5:23-24. purport excerpt.)

Similarly there's a story about a great devotee of Lord Shiva who practiced manasa puja: In thamizhnADu there is place called thiruninRavUr. In that place there lived a brahmana called pUsalar who is well trained in veda-s and agama-s. This brahmana had a burning desire. In that village there was no temple for Lord shiva and pUsalar wanted to construct a temple. Eventhough he had the desire, he did not have the material resources to support it. But pUsalar had the knowledge of building a temple for Lord shiva according to Agama vidhiH. After a long contemplation on his inability to build a temple, pUsalAr got an idea to accomplish what he desired.

pUsalAr thought even though he cannot build a temple outside, he can indeed build one in his mind. From that day onwards he started building the temple. Even though it was built in mind, he went through every step as if it built normally. Every single detail, like amout of material needed and labor required was planned carefully and executed. Finally the construction was completed. It took pUsalAr the same amount of time it will require to build the actual temple. After the completion, pUsalAr fixed an auspicious time and date for kumbAbhishekam and invited the Lord to be present and sanctify the ceremony.

It so happened that the pallava king wanted to perform kumbAbhishekam to the temple he constructed on the same date and began making aranngements for it. Lord who is present everywhere, to show the greatness of his poor devotee, appeared in the dream of the king and commanded him to change the date. Lord shiva told the king that HE is going to enter the magnificient temple built by the devotee pUsalAr in thiruninRavUr and will be not available for the king. Next day, astonished pallava king with his ministers started out to thiruninRavUr in search of pUsalAr and
the temple. After reaching thiruninRavUr, he could not find the temple or any details about it from the local people. Finally, he and his ministers, managed to locate pUsalar's house and asked him the details (after informing about the dream).

pUsalar was stunned and was overcome by waves of emotion. Tears veiled his eyes thinking about his Lord's love and grace. Finally after overcoming his emotions, when he narrated the details of his temple. The whole assembly was overcome with joy and emotion. King paid his respects to the great pUsalar and returned back to his capital. thiru pUsalAr (in tamizh thiru = shrI), as planned did the kumbabhishekam in all grandeur and daily at all six times did pUjA to Lord shiva according to the rules laid down by agAma-s.

Sometimes there's a misunderstanding that we have to artificially put ourselves into some siddha-pranali state and thus whilst still situated in a material form (this stoola sarira - linga sarira) try to rise above it's demands extraniously. The fact of the matter is that to attain constant absorbtion one starts with absorbtion. The process is stated that by some faith (sradha) we engage in associating with like minded devotees (sadhu sanga) by such sat sanga naturally devotional activities take place (bhajana kriya - sravanam kritanam vishnu smaranam using all the paraphernalia of any of them in the Lord's service), to do that requires that we avoid items or behaviour that is not condusive to the progression and maintainance of the Lord's service (anartha nirvritti - removing unwanted things from our association/hearts). By so following this naturaly organic process one will become fixed (nistha) that steadiness in constant absorbtion will allow a taste (ruchi) to develop. As the flower of ruci blossoms into 100% fixation on service to Krishna and 100% negation of anything that brings one to material consciousness asakti or trascendentalism is born. This is real Krishna Consciousness, this is the state we aspire for. It cannot be attained cheaply.

Further more when we are doing such puja it is not that we try to try and visualize ourselves/myself rendering service to Krishna artificially; rather through our understanding of dhyana we just visualize the bona fide lila descriptions of the Divine pastimes of the Lord. We cannot forcibly enter into those pastimes in our present state, it is not possible. But through manasa pUja one can and does experience the very same activities that the Deity has done by engaging the mind in such processes as mentioned abouve. As for actual seva pUja seva we have in reading and discussion heard that rather than seeing oneself in the picture, of what I'm doing with Krishna or what I'm offering to Krishna, or any of those that focus us in the centre, we have been told that the process is, and have experienced such that to only "visualize my delicate hands" when performing service, and otherwise be an observer of the bona fide revealed and established Lilas. For the Lord resides in His approved Deity forms in His eternal lilas, He makes Himself available to us to render service to through the system of service in practice, vaidhi bhakti. Anything else would be artificial whilst in the present jada prakrita-bhakta condition, without knowing my/our eternal Sthayi-bhava awareness of our identity, being outside of "Nitya-lila".

As stated in Bhagavad Gita:

karmendriyani samyamya
ya aste manasa smaran
indriyarthan vimudhatma
mithyacarah sa ucyate

One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender. (BG 3:6.)

yas tv indriyani manasa
niyamyarabhate 'rjuna
karmendriyaih karma-yogam
asaktah sa visisyate

On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma-yoga [in Krishna consciousness] without attachment, he is by far superior. (BG 3:7.)

Similar process is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam 3:28:5-7:

maunam sad-asana jayah
sthairyam prana jayah sanaih
pratyaharas cendriyanam
visayan manasa hrdi

One must observe silence, acquire steadiness by practicing different yogic postures, control the breathing of the vital air, withdraw the senses from sense objects and thus concentrate the mind on the heart.

sva-dhisnyanam eka-dese
manasa prana-dharanam
samadhanam tathatmanah

Fixing the vital air and the mind in one of the six circles of vital air circulation within the body, thus concentrating one's mind on the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is called samadhi, or samadhana, of the mind.

etair anyais ca pathibhir
mano dustam asat-patham
buddhya yunjita sanakair
jita-prano hy atandritah

By these processes, or any other true process, one must control the contaminated, unbridled mind, which is always attracted by material enjoyment, and thus fix himself in thought of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

So, and in great humility knowing my great lacking in understanding and realisation in this topic, I try to pass on something of what I have been told regarding such focused and singleminded pUjas, "...try now before death so that your understanding of Nitya-lila and serving without a material body will have already become attractive to your heart and you will simply enter at death a state of consciousness which you are already familiar with and even attracted too."



mânasa deha, geha, jo kichu mor (A III G A III A M7 I Bm I A I)

arpilû tuwâ pade, nanda-kisor! (Fm I Bm I E D M7 E A ) (h)


sampade vipade, jîvane-marane (E I Fm I D A 7 I BmA) (h)

dây mama gelâ, towâ o-pada barane (A G I A I Bm D A) (h)


mârobi râkhobi - jo icchâ tohârâ (A III G A III A M7 I Bm I A I)

nitya-dâsa prati tuwâ adhikârâ(Fm I Bm I E D M7 E A ) (h)


janmâobi moe icchâ jadi tor (E I Fm I D A 7 I BmA) (h)

bhakta-grhe jani janma hau mor (A G I A I Bm D A) (h)


kîta janma hau jathâ tuwâ dâs (A III G A III A M7 I Bm I A I)

bahir mukha brahma-janme nâhi âs (Fm I Bm I E D M7 E A ) (h)


bhukti-mukti-sprhâ vihîna je bhaktah (E I Fm I D A 7 I BmA) (h)

labhaite tâko sanga anurakta (A G I A I Bm D A) (h)


janaka, jananî, dayata, tanay (A III G A IIIA M7 I Bm I A I)

prabhu, guru, pati - tuhû sarva-moy (Fm I Bm I E D M7 E A ) (h)


bhakativinoda kohe, suno kâna! (E I Fm I D A 7 I BmA) (h)

râdhâ-nâtha! tuhû hâmâra parâna (A G I A I Bm D A) (h)

  (chords harmonium)


Mind, Body and Family


Mind, body, and family, whatever may be mine, I have surrendered atYour lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda!


In good fortune or in bad, in life or at death, all my difficulties have disappeared by choosing those feet of Yours as my only shelter.


Slay me or protect me as You wish, for You are the master of Your eternal servant.


If it is Your will that I be born again, then may it be in the home of Your devotee.


May I be born again even as a worm, so long as I may remain Your devotee. I have no desire to be born as a Brahma averse to You.


I yearn for the company of that devotee who is completely devoid of all desire for worldly enjoyment or liberation.


Father, mother, lover, son, Lord, preceptor, and husband; You are everything to me.


Thakura Bhaktivinoda says, "O Kana, please hear me! O Lord of Radha, You are my life and soul!"