How many pradakshinas (circumambulations) should be performed around a Deity ?

Many of us go to the Devalay (Temple) to have darshan (viewing) of the Deity. In order to take maximum benefit of the darshan, one must do pradakshina of the Deity. To commence the pradakshina one can start moving at a medium pace from the left side of the garbha-gruha (Sanctum santorum) with hands folded in the Namaskar-mudra (Both the hands joined and held at the level of the Anahat-chakra [The fourth centre in the spiritual energy flow system, located in the region of the heart in the subtle-bod], but a little away from the body), while chanting the Deity’s name. After the pradakshina, pay obeisance to the Deity and only then commence the next pradakshina.

 

1. Reason for different number of
pradakshinas to be performed around a deity

The general rule is that for male Deities, the number of pradakshinas should be in ‘even’ numbers (0, 2, 4, 6) and for female Deities, it should be in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7). The reason is as follows. ‘Zero’ denotes Brahman, meaning, Supreme God who is the Creator of the universe. From ‘zero’, the number ‘one’, that is Maya (The Great illusion), meaning, the universe has originated. Maya is feminine, the number ‘one’ is ‘odd’; hence, pradakshina around the female Deities should be done in ‘odd’ numbers. ‘Even’ numbers are associated with ‘zero’ and hence pradakshina around the male Deities should be done in ‘even’ numbers.

A. A subtle experiment, which proves the mentioned reason

First, chant a number associated with zero (0, 2, 4, 6 etc., that is, even numbers) for two minutes. Then, chant a number associated with one (1, 3, 5, 7 etc., that is, odd numbers) for two minutes. Only then read the following part of the experiment. The chanting of an even number gives spiritual experience of Anand or Shanti (Serenity), while chanting of an odd number gives spiritual experience of Shakti (Divine Energy). Male Deities are mostly associated with Anand or Shanti, while the female Deities are mostly associated with Shakti. From the experiment here, we can experience, that numbers associated with zero are associated with male Deities, while those associated with number one are associated with female Deities. Hence, pradakshina around male Deities should be performed in even numbers and around female Deities in odd numbers.

 

2. Specific number of pradakshinas
associated with the Saptadevtas (The seven
Deities – Shri Ganesh, Shiva, Shriram, Hanuman,
Datta, Shri Durga and Shrikrushna) and the underlying reason

According to different schools of thought, the number of times a pradakshina to be performed around a Deity is different. Some examples given here support this statement. The number of pradakshinas change according to sagun (Materialised)-nirgun(Non-materialised) or tarak (Saviour)-marak(Destroyer) form of the Deity or as per the intention of the person performing pradakshina. As per the science of numerology too, the numbers associated with different Names of Deities are different. ‘There are as many Paths to God-realisation as the number of individuals and their respective temperaments’ – this is an important doctrine of Hindu Dharma. According to this doctrine, the number of pradakshinas are not fixed, they vary as per the situation.

The number of pradakshinas mentioned against a Deity’s Name in the table ahead denotes the minimum number required for the respective Deities. Should a larger number be intended, then it should be in the multiples of the minimum number specified.

A. Method 1 – Subordinate forms of the Deities

Saptadevtas

Number of pradakshinas

Reason underlying the number

Deity Shiva

0 (Note 1)

Deity symbolic of dormant and unmanifest nirgun energy

Goddess Durga

1

Deity representing the state of sagun manifest energy in dvait

Srikrushna

3

Purnavtars working equally at three levels of Iccha-shakti, Kriya-shakti and Dnyan-shakti

Sriram

4

The king who is an ideal follower of all the four ashrams, that is, Brahmacharyashram, Gruhastashram, Vanaprasthashram and Sanyasashram

Deity Maruti

5

One who has mastery over Pancha-tattvas

Deity Datta

7

One who brings about spiritual progress of the jiva by purifying the seven chakras present in the body

Srī Ganapati

8

Master of all the eight directions

The rule mentioned here applies to the subordinate forms of these Deities. – A Scholar (Through the medium of Mrs. Anjali Gadgil, 17th January, 2005, 7.54 p.m.)

Note 1 – Pradakshina of the Shivapindi (Deity Shiva’s sacred symbol)

The method of performing the pradakshina of the Shivapindi is ‘Somasutri’, meaning in a crescent shape. The ‘sutra’ (A channel) that passes from the shalunka (Base of the linga [Deity Shiva’s sacred symbol], also known as lingavedi) (for the water of the Abhishek [Consecration by ritualistic bathing with water, milk etc.]) towards the North side, that is, towards the boundary of the Devalay is called ‘Somasutra’. We begin the pradakshina from the left side and go till the outward projecting channel of the shalunka; then, without crossing it, turn back and come unto the channel from the other side and thus complete one pradakshina.

The flow of a shalunka is not crossed, as it is the flow of energy. When crossing it, the legs are spread. As a result, formation of semen and the five vayus (Internal vital air energies) are adversely affected. There is an obstruction in the flow of Devdatta and Dhananjay vital air energies too. However, these ill effects do not occur if while crossing it, the body is contracted, that is the nadis (Energy channel) are contracted. Rationalists feel that the channel of the linga is not crossed because while doing so, the dirt on our feet contaminates the water there. If devotees partake this water as Tirth , it could result in illness! This law is applicable to man-made Shivalinga; however, this is not applicable to a Swayambhu (Self-originated) linga or to the Shivalinga in the Devalay at home. The way a pradakshina is done in a complete circle in case of other Deities, so is not the case with the Shivapindi. Hence, the number of pradakshinas advised in case of Deity Shiva is zero.

B. Method 2 – As per the Sattva, Raja and
Tama(see glossary) component and nirgun tattva (Principle)

Deity Emitted component / tattva (Principle) Colour of the subtle-waves Number of pradakshinas Effect of pradakshinas on the jiva
1.Sriram Pure Sattva(Tarak) Bluish white 1 (One who adheres to a single vow) A.
Awakening of sattvikbhav
B. Experiencing Shanti
2.Srikrushna Sattva and Sattva- Raja Sattva- predominant waves are yellow in colour, while Sattva-Raja are reddish yellow 1 or 2 (Either in advait nirgun form or in dvait, that is, functioning in sagun form) A.
Awakening of bhav, love and kshatrabhav
B. Experiencing Anand
3.Deity Datta Predominantly nirgun-tattva and to some extent Sattva component of the sagun-tattva White, golden yellow and sometimes faint blue 3 (Combined form of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) Nirgun-tattva is not generated by performing pradakshina just once. For that, one has to perform pradakshina thrice. This increases the sāttvikbhāv of a seeker
4.Deity Maruti Sattva-Raja, 50% Sriram’s Principle and marak-shakti Saffron and dark blue 2, 5, 7, 11, 13, 21, 77, 99 and 101 A.
Reduction in the distress caused due to negative energies
B. Increase in enthusiasm (Awakening of kshatrabhav)
5.Srī Ganapati Sattva and Sattva- Raja, depending upon the mission Red and reddish yellow 2, 5 and 21 Increase in prana-shakti and enthusiasm
6.Deity Shiva 70% Sattva, 30% Raja-Tama and 20% nirgun-tattva White Half a pradakshina and if the type of worship is Tantrik in nature, then 1, 2 or 3 pradakshinas A. Increase in nirgun-tattva
B. Mind becomes peacefulC. Mind becomes thoughtless
D. One experiences meditative state E. Marakbhav awakensF. If one performs pradakshina thrice then vairagyabhav is awakened and one experiences Shant
7.Goddess Lakshmi and other Goddess’ having more of tarak-tattva, for example Goddess Saraswati Sattva Yellow and blue Even number (Tarak form)  

A. Awakening of sattvikbhav B. Experiencing Anand

8. Goddess Durga and other Goddess’ having more of marak-tattva, for example Goddess Kali Sattva-Raja Red, saffron, yellow and white Odd numbers (Marak form) A. Increase in marak-tattva

B. Kshatrabhav awakens
C. Experiencing Shakti

C. Method 3 – As per the Energy and function of the Deity

एकं देव्यां रवौ सप्त त्रीणि कुर्याद्विनायके ।

चत्वारि केशवे कुर्यात् शिवे चार्धप्रदक्षिणम् ।। कर्मलोचन


Meaning :
One pradakshina should be performed around the Goddess, seven around Sun Devalay, three around Shri Ganapati’s Devalay, four around Shrivishnu and a half around Shiva Devalay.

Spiritual Science:

1. Shrivishnu: Four pradakshinas have been prescribed for Shrivishnu, because Vishnu Principle contains the Divine energies of four actions of invocation, recitation, songs of praise and protection.

2. Deity Shiva: The Shiva Principle is the symbol of that half part of ‘Om’ which signifies the function of Dissolution. Hence, only half a pradakshina has been prescribed. Half part is the part called ‘Aas’, which remains after utterance of ‘Om’ for its functions. (‘Aas’ are the subtle sound waves that remain after an object is struck on another object. For example, the subtle sound waves which remain in the environment when the bell in a Devalay is sounded. These subtle sound waves are called ‘Aas’. – Compiler)

3. Goddess : ‘Full stop’ means the point where the ‘Aas’ gets dissolved immediately after it manifests. In other words, it is the line which denotes the function of the ‘full stop’. Hence, only one pradakshina of the Devalay of the Goddess has been prescribed.

4. The Sun : When the Tejdharana (Energy of the radiance of the Sun) comes in the orbit of the Earth from the Sun, it intercepts seven levels and transforms at the sagun level through the medium of Vayu (Absolute Air)-Tej (Absolute Fire), Tej-Vayu, Tej, Tej-Apa (Absolute Water), Apa-Tej, Tej-Pruthvi (Absolute Earth) and Pruthvi- Tej Principles. As a symbol of this, 7 pradakshinas are performed.

5. Shri Ganapati : Shri Ganapati is the symbol of Ichha-shakti (Energy of will). The waves of Ichha-shakti are attracted to a triangular figure in a shorter time. As a symbol of the union of the three flows, three pradakshinas of Shri Ganapati are performed.’ – A Scholar (Through the medium of Mrs. Anjali Gadgil, 9th June 2007, 12.08 p.m.)

D. Method 4 – Performing pradakshinas of the Deities
according to Sankhyashastra (Science of numerology)

Deity Shiva – 3, Shrikrushna – 8, Shriram – 9 and Shri Ganapati – 3.

 

3. How many pradakshinas should
be performed around a Swayambhu Devalay

Since the activated energy in a Swayambhu Devalay cannot be imbibed by a common man, only one pradakshina is sufficient. An individual with over 50% spiritual level can make as many pradakshinas as he wants as per his bhav (Spiritual emotion). There is no limit to the number of pradakshinas for him. – A Scholar (Through the medium of Mrs. Anjali Gadgil, 22nd October 2006, 2.36 p.m.)

Reference : Sanatan’s Holy text ‘How should one have Darshan in a Temple ?’

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