pa.nchAyatana pUjA (was Re: A Question???)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Thu Apr 10 12:45:01 CDT 1997

Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:

>and knowledge of history and tradition to make a guess.  Another example
>is all over India Smartas believe Shankaracharya has set up the Panchayata
>puja in which Shiva Bhagavan, Vishnu Bhagavan, Ganesh Bhagavan, Surya
>Bhagavan, and Mataji are worshipped together.  But in the South it is
>believed that Kartik bhagavan should be added as a sixth which is unheard
>of to me. Who's right, who's wrong?

Actually, AFAIK no one claims that Lord kArtikeya should be added as a sixth in
Tamil Nadu. I don't know why many people think so. Adding him as a sixth would
change the very name! pa.chAyatana would have to be changed to shhashhTAyana or
some thing like that :-).

In Tamil Nadu Lord kArtikeya is given special attention. Indeed he is
considered to be partial to thamiz and legend has it that he presided over one
of the thamiz sangams (group of poets). The pa.nchAyatana pUjA itself has the
five devata-s only, even in TN. These are represented traditionally by
shapeless stones:

Unlike other types of worship all the mUrti-s are represented by stones, of no
particular shape. This symbolizes that brahman is essentially formless and a
form is given only to finally lead the worshiper to a higher form of worship.
shiva is represented by the bANa li.nga, which is black in color. gaNesha is
represented by shoNabhadra, a red stone. ambikA is represented by svarNamukhI,
a steel-gray colored  quartz. sUrya is represented by the sphaTika li.nga, a
transparent stone. vishhNu is represented by the shAlagrAma, a black stone.

However a point is that shiva is invoked as somAskanda parameshvara. Thus Lord
kArtikeya is included in the worship of shiva. This is true in even temples,
where shiva is always worshiped as somAskanda. In my house Lord kArtikeya is
also worshiped separately, but he is in the form of a idol. Clearly he does not
have a separate position in the pa.nchAyatana. If he did, he'd have to be
represented by a stone and not a carved idol.

Since my father's maternal grandfather did not have any male offsprings, his
pa.nchAyatana set is also in our house and in fact the image of Lord kArtikeya
is from his maternal grandfather. Even though our kula devata is Lord kArtikeya
at pazani, my father's side never worshiped Lord kArtikeya separately in the
pa.nchAyatana pUjA! I have noticed the same thing in my maternal
grand-father's house where Lord kArtikeya is not worshiped separately in the
pa.nchAyatana pUjA.


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