Prana Pratishta

Vithal_Pandurang

The life of a Hindu temple comes from its presiding deities. A special ceremony called prana pratishta (or murti sthapana) is held to infuse life into the deity without which they are mere stone idols. Prana is often translated as breath, but it encompasses much more than just physical breath. Swami Vivekananda defined prana as ‘the primordial force of which all the forces that we see in nature are manifestations.’ Prathistha means to secure, to stabilize, or to establish firmly.

Prana pratishta is therefore, the establishment of primordial force into the deity.

The actual details of this ceremony are secret and can take many days to complete. The prana of the deities comes from the very people involved in the ceremony. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that only accomplished sadhaks who have achieved great mental purity perform this ceremony.

The following extract from Aghora II by Robert Svoboda gives an intriguing glimpse into this secret ritual.

“A temple will only be useful to you if its Prana Pratistha has been properly performed. Prana Pratishta is the rite by which life-force is infused into the image, making it live. Every temple has had a Prana Pratishta done for the image which is worshipped therein, but if the Prana Pratishta is not done properly the image will not come to life. You can test this at the very end of the Prana Pratishta ceremony when a mirror is offered to the the image, so that the deity which has been invoked into the image can see itself. If the job has been properly done, the mirror will shatter. Only then can you say the image has any power, not before.”

Some useful links:

1. Prana Pratishta of Isha Dhyanalinga.

2. Prana Pratishta at Bangalore Brahmasthanam.

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