Pujasthana is a compound noun. Since high school when I studied and nearly mastered the German language, I have LOVED compound nouns. I find them to be artistic, efficient and keeps a language from having a ridiculously large vocabulary like English does. The nouns that make up the word pujasthana are puja and sthana. For anyone unfamilar with any Indian languages or any Hindu religious words, puja means a worship ritual and can be as elaborate or simple as a person is inclined. Sthana means place. We see sthana used as a suffix in many names of middle eastern counrties. A curious one I find to be a little funny and a little sad is Pakistan. When that name is broken down, it literally means “place of the fools.”

Probably around two years ago I went the local Patel Brothers Indian Grocery store and perused their selection of mandirs for my puja room. They had only less than ten, and the cheapest one was still more than $300. Usually when I’m shopping for something like this, I only even go shopping when I know I have more than enough money for anything I might encounter. In things like this, if I were to see something I wanted – but not be able to get it right then – it would lead to much frustration. So, typically I only go looking for things I want when I know I can afford them no matter the cost.

So I found myself in Patel Brothers, with the Best, and looking at mandirs. For such a small selection, they did well at providing an assortment. Of course things like that drag out my decision process: Do I want taller more than wide? Color or strictly metallic? How finished do I need the inside to me? Storage drawer or none? Ornate or simplistic?

So many things do consider when choosing your ishtadevata’s dwelling place!

I eventually settled on a design that unique among the selection. It’s colorful and full of detail and design. It has a shelf and drawer that open to the front just below where the doors are. The images on the outside are of Ganesha, Om, Lakshmi, Surya, Hanuman and Krishna. It has a free-standing “steeple” that rests easily on top. There are screened windows on both sides and on the doors. The inside comes with a riser and both the riser and inside walls are covered in red felt-like material. Roughly, it’s about a foot deep, about 1.5ft wide and maybe around 3ft tall.

Since that time, it’s served as a great residence for the murti of my ishtadevata, Ganesha. But I’m getting an itch. This is the last year I’ll be able to get so much back in taxes (thank you, student credit!), and I plan to get Ganesha a new home. This means the current one has to go.

Here’s the deal: I’m giving it away. Anyone who wants it, can have it. The only catch is that if you’re not local to me, you’ll need to reimburse me the cost of shipping. I ran through the USPS website and did a very rough estimate on shipping (~33lbs to an Alaska zip code) and it was around $100. (Note: This is very approximate. I weighed it with everything inside and entered general dimensions, plus I doubt anyone even as far as Alaska will show interest, so the actual cost of shipping would vary, but should be somewhat close to the $100.) I paid around $325 for it before tax, so even worst case scenario with shipping is still two-thirds off the original amount paid for it.

If you’ve read this far you already know its description. Photos are below. This post is going to Facebook for further advertising. Feel free to contact me here, on Facebook, or privately if you have that info. If there are no takers between now and the eighth of March, I’ll donate it to anyone who wants it at my local temple when I’m there on the tenth.

Om Shanti!








Hanuman Bahuk

Hanuman Bhauk is an important prayer dedicated to Hanuman and was written by Goswami Tulsidas. It is believed that Tulsidasji wrote to prayer to cure  his shoulder pain. Once, Tulsidas had an excruciating pain in one of his shoulders. He then composed a poem extolling the glory and greatness of Hanuman. He also asked Hanumanji to cure his body ailments. Miraculously Tulsidas had relief from the pain.

It is believed that chanting Hanuman Bahuk helps in curing various body pains, diseases, psychological problems, fear of ghosts etc. It is also chanted by those people who believe that their enemies are doing black magic against them. A person can chant Hanuman Bahuk daily as part of his normal prayers. Another method of chanting Hanuman Bahuk is by doing certain austerities for 40 days. On all forty days, Hanuman Bahuk is chanted in the morning. The person only eats vegetarian food. No smoking and drinking during the period. No gossips and no unnecessary talks. Chanting the Stotra is also believed to help in wish fulfillment.

(This was taken directly from Hindu Blog.)


In the last post I scratched the surface on a three-part series I’m planning to write about my understanding of the nature of the Hindu conception of God, and also where I personally have encountered the highest concentration of This in my own life. Before continuing in this post, you’ll want to have read the one before this. Inform yourself here. As mentioned in the post before this, Ganesha deva holds a particular place in my swadharma. In this post I’d like to attempt to explain how trying my hand at devotion (Ganesha = my ishtadevata) brought me to a higher knowledge regarding Truth. Right now, I’m not terribly confident that my thought processes or use of words will serve as I hope, but if you care to continue reading, you’ll have my best effort.

Bhakti, or devotion, was the first component at play in my being transfixed on the Ideal that is Ganesha. I came to know of Him almost the very instant I came to know anything at all about Hinduism. Perhaps love/devotion at first sight? LOL No, but really -probably the first two things I knew regarding Ganesha is that He’s the Remover of Obstacles, and that He’s the son of Shiva, the God of Destruction (among other things and whose name is synonymous with auspiciousness and consciousness. I’ve been meaning to make a post just about Shiva.). With attributes like that instantly my heart was hooked.

As I mentioned in the last post, I find the highest quantity and concentration of divine attributes to be applicable to Ganesha. If Brahman is essentially attributeless, and It is (Neti, Neti, remember?), then it reasons that devotion to anything with attributes best serves as a launch pad for experiencing/merging with something virtually impossible to conceptualize. You have to essentially master the phenomenal world before transcending it and realizing the Foundation of all that is phenomenal. Otherwise you’re trying to go from zero to sixty without really even knowing how to operate the vehicle. Some vehicles come with power windows, but no power seats. Some don’t have power windows, but have power seats, and so on. I want a vehicle with as many bells and whistles as I can find so that operating my vehicle happens as optimally as possible, making that zero-to-sixty acceleration not only more likely, but smoother in the process. And so, as it happens, I found Ganesha.

In my opinion, of all the prominent gods within the Hindu pantheon, Ganesha is the most striking. For me personally, gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Kartikeya/Murugan, Shiva, and just about all forms of Shakti/The Mother are too anthropomorphic. I don’t think this lessens their value in any way, but it makes them less appealing to me. Even one such as Hanuman, who has a human-like form of a monkey, is too human-like to represent something as indescribable as Brahman in my experience. In contrast, Ganesha refuses to fit most moulds. Possessing the head of an elephant, a typically obese thorax and abdomen, and rarely seen with fewer than four arms … the whole mess of which is perched upon a miniscule maushika (mouse) vahana. His form, while full of meaning that I’ll pick apart later, doesn’t fit in. Maybe this pulls more at my own heart strings because of growing up as I did: short, scrawny, unathletic, non-farmer gay kid in the middle of Indiana’s corn fields. Like Ganesha’s misfit head and whacked beginning, I didn’t fit many moulds hoped for me either. On some level, I feel affinity for His image and all it’s various traits may represent.

I think, too, much of what Ganesha is said to symbolize/represent/govern are things I hold dear. This list is actually super big, and I’ll get to that in the next post. I suppose it’s selfish, but finding not only what I hold dear, but much else otherwise kind of makes Ganesha the ultimate in one-stop spiritual shopping for me.

Shortly after learning of Ganesha I purchased my very first murti. At that time, I was already more inclined toward the Shiva side of things, but a murti of Ganesha is what I encountered first and it was almost like I was imprinted instantly. I’ve included a photo of it above. My first “mandir” was nothing other than the top of a cheap dresser and consisted of hardly more than a cloth covering the dresser’s top, a candle, and the Ganesha above. I’m tempted to say that it was during this time that my bhakti was newest and strongest. I certainly didn’t yet possess much spiritual knowledge, but I knew I loved God and I knew that for me, Ganesha was my preferred image of God. At this time, too, I was familiarizing myself with Yogananda and his autobiography, and with the Bhagavad Gita. Because of the lack of knowledge, including knowledge of the concept of Karma Yoga, bhakti was literally my entire religion. I had known devotion before with earlier religious experiences, but during this time in my life it was quite literally just myself and what I understood to be my god -the connection was palpable and real and it’s from this time of my life that I retain spiritual memories that not only are kept tucked away for my remembrance only, but sealed my relationship with Brahman as Ganesha.

Since those days, I’m become more familiar with the other faces of Brahman. I don’t suppose I could ever fully exclude any one of Hinduism’s god. However, I’ve also become increasingly close to the Ideal of Ganesha and have learned so much about Him -and have learned and experienced so much as a result of learning about Him. This brings me to the next post which I intend to deal with the meaning encapsulated in Ganesha’s form as well as jnana yoga. For now, let it be clear that Ganesha is the source of my devotion and its object, and this has brought me to new landscapes of internal wisdom.

Om Shanti

Ganesham Bhajema

Although not everything about my religious/spiritual journey in this life has been pleasant, I’m immensely grateful for every step. After being forced to part ways with Christianity, and wandering for a brief year or two, I came to discover what might be modernly recognized as the principal deities of Hinduism, namely Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. It was in learning about the Trimurti that I learned about other manifestations of the divine such as Vayu, Indra, Surya, Agni, Lakshmi, Hanuman, Ganesha, Saraswati, and many others. Initially there seemed to be a profound yet finite hierarchy within this pantheon; some gods being the husbands/wives/fathers/mothers/sons/daughters of others. For a time, most of my learning centered around acquainting myself with these relationships and their histories.

As the depth of my knowledge increased, I gained the realization that these gods were variously known to be faces of the One Supreme Reality, as well as actually worshipped by their respective devotees as That One. I found this to be an interesting facet of Sanatana Dharma that is missing from religions of the West. I also found this to be one of the single most important things a dharmi could come to know. In fact, this is literally foundational to the faith: Ekam sat vipraha bahudh’ vadanti, Truth is one, though the wise recognize it variously. It’s because of this foundation of the Hindu belief system that I’ve always wondered why a Hindu is able to genuinely believe that any such “face” the One might happen to wear, is actually the “complete” manifestation of Brahman.

Having said that, I’ll say two other things.

  1. I feel that each of the Hindu gods (it’s been said that there are over 330 million) does absolutely represent Brahman, although incompletely -if that even makes any sense. Truly, only Brahman is That, and That is impossible to fully describe from the perspective of human language and conception – which might account for why there are a bajillion deities recognized within Hindu panentheism, and which is also a testament to the vastness of Hindu religion and the fruit of its ancient and on-going efforts to paint an ever clearer picture of what Reality is. In no other religion known to humans on Earth is the picture of God provided in such an encompassing way. No joke. But each god, while worshipable as a representation of The All, at best can only point to some of That All.
  2. I’ve spent more than one-third of my current life learning about and actively living Hindu Dharma. A lot of this time, and certainly especially in my earlier Hindu years, has been spent (as I already mentioned) continually educating myself. Some of this self education has been very basic: “This is such-and-such god, and this is what he/she governs/represents.” It didn’t take long before I noticed overlapping from one god to the next. A basic example is that of goddesses Kali and Durga. Both are distinct in their own ways, yet both are known as fierce, protecting Mothers and are understood to be magnificent but volatile faces for the Shakti that animates everything. I think it’s because of encountering this that I’m not likely to ever say that one god is actually supreme over the rest. Not in all cases, but in enough, an attribute of one god is equally as applicable to another. With that in mind, why would it be logical to say that Kali is supreme, when Durga has any number of things in common with Her? And what of the attributes typically ascribed to Durga that don’t apply to Mother Kali? Do those render Durga superior to Kali? This can be carried over and applied to a huge number of Hindu deities.

Sri Ganesh is (kind of) an exception. Or at least to my current personal sensibilities, He’s the closest thing to an exception that I’ve found. I say He’s kind of an exception, because I believe you are either an exception or you’re not, and technically speaking He’s not. Why then, even bring Him up? If for no other reason, because the greatest amount of the aforementioned deity-deity overlapping occurs with Him, AKA from my perspective it seems as though the greatest number of Brahman’s attributes apply to Ganesha. I don’t think this alone makes Him an exception, but it does make Him stand out to me.

Dear Reader, allow me to provide a slight disclaimer at this point: I’m not professing to be any sort of expert. I’m also not in any way intending to invalidate anyone else’s beliefs or ishtadevata or marg or …anything. What I’m saying in this post, and in the next few to come, applies strictly to my experience. If it happens to also apply to your own, by all means let me know, and we’ll relate our commonality. If your experience has been different, and seemingly conflicting to what I’ve posted here and am about to post, you are also welcome to let me know this, provided you respect our difference as it’s been expressed in my writing. I’ll ask just one favor of you before you express your differing viewpoint. Read at least the final paragraph of this.

Om Shanti

Star: One/Seven

The first Star of Hinduism mentioned in the booklet is Brahman.

The overview offered of Brahman includes the following: Universal Consciousness/Life Force, Free of attributes or form(aka Nirguna/Nirakar), Sat-Chit-Anand, Many call It, God. As well the overview includes “Ishwara” : Manifestations of Brahman for our need/convenience.

“According to Hinduism there is only one Supreme Consciousness which is referred to as Brahman, which is all pervading, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. This consciousness may be called God. Thus the belief is in only one God.”

The author suggests that Brahman can be imagined somewhat what similar to pure energy: having no form or shape, yet able to manifest itself in many forms or shapes. He claims It’s technically something unable to be perceived by our senses. It’s harder to comprehend and even harder to visualize or worship. Interestingly, It’s can sometimes only be described in negatives. Not matter. Not mind. Not intellect. Not the elements.

The only way to describe Brahman is to say, “Neti, Neti” which translates to something like, “Not this, not this.” The idea behind this application of describing Ultimate Divinity in negatives is that any attribute which might be applied will eventually fall short of being an adequate description. Additionally, it might be mentioned that attirbutes are in some cases risky. Being humans, posessing egos and minds, we’re suspect to worshiping the attribute instead of what it describes.

Thatte points out that Brahman does not reward or punish individuals. This is noteworthy to say the least. Any conception of God that either rewards or punishes is nothing if not petty and small.

In speaking of the Ishwara aspect of Brahman, it’s said that this is natural and temporary. Ishwara is a personal God. If Brahman is dilluted enough to be preceived by the senses, what you get is Ishwara. Ishwara is God-with-qualities. Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Shiva, Krsna, Hanuman, etc… Something non-Hindus struggle with is understanding that all of these devas/devis are representations of the Brahman. It’s conceivable that a woman might wear a certain makeup when she’s at work, a different face when she’s at church and yet a different face when she’s on a nice evening out with her husband. The ishtadevatas are simple Brahman wearing different makeup according to the immanent need and inclination of the worshipper. To illustrate this, a Sanskrit couplet is offered,

Akaashat Patitum Toyam, Yatha Gacchati Sagaram-Sarvadev Namaskaram, Keshavam Pratigacchati.” (Just as all the water which falls from the sky, ultimately flows into the ocean, prayers offered to any deity ultimately go to the Supreme God(referred to here as Keshava or Brahman))

Practical Takeaway: There is only one God. Regardless of how and to whom one prays, ultimately the prayers go to the same God. This concept promotes acceptance of all religions as they are just different means of reaching the same God.

I think this is actually a really good “Star #1” for a few reasons. It helps clear up a huge misconception about Hinduism, namely that it’s a polytheistic religion. At its core, it isn’t. Also, this approach to explaining some of what Brahman is, allows the author to touch on another very unique and importrant trait of Hinduism: acceptance of other dharmas as equally valid.

Om Tat Sat Om!