Monday, December 27, 2010

पुष्पम् (puShpam)...

Before I move on to more Slokas, I feel that the earlier post about the Ganesha shata nAmAvaLi is not complete without a discussion about पुष्पम् (puShpam), फलम् (phalam) and नैवेद्यम् (naivedyam). No pUja is complete without the offering of food to the deities. The Gods neither wear the flowers we offer them nor eat the fruits and other food items we present to them. Not withstanding, such offerings are an integral part of our Hindu rituals. They are meant to give us the satisfaction of having first offered to God the food that we consume. As with all Vedantic rituals, it turns out that there is a deeper philosophical meaning to these symbolic offering of flowers, fruits and food items as well. In fact, puShpam and naivedyam are just two of 16 different upacArAs or acts of hospitality towards God. In an even more expansive ritual, there are 32 upacArAs. Any pUja that includes these 16 upacArAs is called a षोडष उपचार पूजा (ShoDaSa upacAra pUja) and the entire list of these upacArAs together with their significance can be found here (I have transliterated the document to be consistent with the notation found in the posts. This is the link to the original document). A summary of the 16 upacArAs is the following. The logical flow in these upacArAs is very obvious.

1. आवाहनम् (AvAhanam)welcoming the deity
2. आसनम् (Asanam)offering seat
3. पाद्यम् (pAdyam)washing feet
4. अर्घ्यम् (arghyam)washing hands
5. आचमनम् (Acamanam)offering water to drink/wash mouth
6. स्नानम् (snAnam)bathing
7. वस्त्रम् (vastram)offering clothes
8. यज्ञोपवीतम् (yagyopavItam)offering sacred thread
9. आभरणम् (Abharanam)offering jewels
10. गन्धम् (gandham)offering sandalwood paste
11. पुष्पम् (puShpam)offering flowers during pUja
12. धूपम् (dhUpam)offering incense
13. दीपम् (dIpam)offering lighted lamp
14. नैवेद्यम् (naivedyam)offering food (fruits and/or cooked items)
15. ताम्बूलम् (tAmbUlam)offering Betel leaves with Caustic and Betel nut
16. प्रदक्षिण नमस्कारम् (pradakshiNa namaskAram)circumambulation + salutation

In this post and the next, I will focus only on upacArAs 11, 14 and 15 that are related to offering flowers, fruits, Betel leaves and other food items.

पुष्पम् (puShpam) is the 11th upacArA among the 16 upacArAs and refers to the offering of flowers to God. To paraphrase the above mentioned document, this upacArA  is mentioned in सूत्रा (sutrA) 38 of the भावनोपनिशत् (bhAvanopanishat) as follows:

अहिंसा प्रथम पुष्पम्, पुष्पमिन्द्रियाणिग्रह दयक्षमज्ञानपुष्पम्, पंचपुष्पम् ततःपर​
ahimsA prathama puShpam, puShpamindriyaNigraha dayakshamagyAnapuShpam, pancapuShpam tatahpara

ahimsA or non violence, indriyaNigraha or control over the senses, dayA or kindness, kshamA or forgiveness and gyAna or knowledge are called the panca puShpAs or five flowers with which we can control our ahamkAra or ego and surrender to God. Hence worshipping the Deity with flowers is symbolic of controlling these and surrendering to God.

I will now present Sanskrit names for some of the commonly used flowers in this post, followed by fruits and naivedyam food items in the next post. Since my childhood days, I have been observing my dad perform pUja - the ones he performs every day of the week as well as the special ones he performs on festive days like Ganesha caturthi etc. My mom and grandma would diligently prepare naivedyam for every one of these pUjas. No matter what items were placed before him, my dad would very easily come up with Sanskrit names for all the fruits and cooked delicacies to complete the naivedyam procedure. He would similarly name all the flowers that he used during the arcanA also. So, to make things easy for myself, I requested my dad to compile a list for my blog. The list is the following (I have included some Tamil names in italics to make identification easy):


कमलम् (kamalam)

मल्लिका (mallikA)

Blue Lotus
राजीव पुष्पम् (rAjIva puShpam)

Coral Jasmine (pavazha malli)
पारिजातम् (pArijAtam)

सूर्यकमलम् (sUryakamalam)

जवा (javA)

Water Lily
कुमुदम् (kumudam)

Calatropis (erukkam poo)
अर्क पुष्पम् (arka puShpam)

Sevanthi poo
सेवन्तीका (sevantIkA)

Screwpine flower (thaazham poo)
केतकी पुष्पम् (ketakI puShpam)

Oleander (arali poo)
करवीर पुष्पम् (karavIra puShpam)

Thumba poo
द्रोण पुष्पम् (droNa puShpam)

Mandaara poo
मन्दार पुष्पम् (mandAra puShpam)

Michelia champak (shenbagha poo)
चम्पक पुष्पम् (campaka puShpam)

Trumpet flower
पाटली पुष्पम् (pATalI puShpam)

mullai poo (a kind of Jasmine)
जाती पुष्पम् (jAtI puShpam)

स्थूल पुष्पम् (sthUla puShpam)

Oomatham poo
दुर्धूर पुष्पम् (durdhUra puShpam)

Pomegranate flower
दाडिमी पुष्पम् (dADimI puShpam)

मरुवक पुष्पम् (maruvakapuShpam)

Many times, along with the offering of flowers, the leaves of these plants are also included as part of the arcanA procedure. For most plants, the corresponding leaf name can be obtained by simply replacing the word पुष्पम्  (puShpam) with पत्रम् (patram). However, with certain plants, only the leaves are used during arcanA while the flowers are not. Some of them I can think of are the following.


Bel leaf (vilva ilai)
बिल्व पत्रम् (bilva patram)

Mango leaf (maavilai)
चूत पत्रम्  (cUta patram)

Indian Gooseberry (nellikkai)
आमलकी पत्रम् (AmalakI patram)

Vishnukranthi ilai
विष्णुक्रान्त पत्रम् (viShNukrAnta patram)

Berry (ilanthai ilai)
बदरी पत्रम् (badarI patram)

Bermuda grass (arugampul)
दूर्व पत्रम् (dUrva patram)

I will keep adding to the list if I can think of any names I have left out. I will complete this discussion with a list of neivedyam names in the next post.

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