Pradakshina Namaskara


We looked at Shodasha Upachara Puja in the past.
Two of the upacharas are Pradakshina and Namaskara.
Here are some notes on Pradakshina and Namaskara.

Pradakshina is going around in clockwise direction.
When doing Pradakshina our hand is always at the
right of whom we are going around.

Many of us do Pradakshina in a temple. We might
do Pradakshina of the garbha griham (central deity).

One could imagine extending ones right hand
to the devata and holding Her while one does Pradakshina.

A question arises -
why right hand, why not the left hand.

About 90% of the world population is right handed.[+]
So, could choosing the hand that would cover the
natural hand of most of the population
be the reason ?

Why Pradakshina ?
The earth revolves around its axis counter-clockwise.
Same with earth going around the sun. The moon also
goes around the earth in a counter-clockwise direction.

All these are manifestations of the Creator.
Through them, the Creator's direction is counter-clockwise.
To meet the Creator, one goes clockwise.[^]

Namaskara
Namaskara is the act of falling flat on the ground.
Like Pradakshina, Namaskara is an act of worship.

In South India, it is common to do Namaskara
in temples, at home shrines and to elders.

One might have heard of Saashtaanga Namaskara.
Sa-Ashta-Anga Namaskara - namaskara with eight parts.
One view of the eight parts are :[#]
  1. Shoulders
  2. Feet
  3. Knees
  4. Chest
  5. Head
  6. Eyes
  7. Mind
  8. Speech
The last two imply being totally immersed in the act.
"Giving 100%" to the physical action.

The other six are body parts meant to touch the floor while
doing Namaskara.

There are variations to the above list. Some include hands.

There is also Panchanga Namaskara - the five part namaskara.
The Chest, Feet and Eyes from the list above is removed to make it
Panchanga Namaskara.

Males do Ashtanga Namaskara.
Females do Panchanga Namaskara.

[+] % population right handed. Statistically that is odd.
     Going by probability, it should have been only around 50%
[^] A paraphrase of what I heard from my Guru (10 years back)
[#] Attributed to Vyasa as quoted in
     Aanhika Kaandam of Smriti Mukta Phalam of Vaidyanatha Dikshita pg 193

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