What is Aarti ?
The Hindu ritual of aarti accrues from the ancient Vedic concept of fire ceremony or the ‘homa’. Generally, one or more wicks made of cotton, or thin cloth strip, is soaked in ghee or camphor, lighted and offered to the deity. The term ‘aarti’ may also refer to the traditional Hindu devotional songs that are sung while the fire ritual is being performed.
Though arti may be sung differently in different parts of the Indian subcontinent, the core intention never varies. All aarti songs signify the highest form of love for God. As per Indian beliefs and tradition, worshiping God through ‘bhava’ or emotion is the highest form of worship. And in arti, both the singing of the traditional hymn, or the devotional song, and the fire serve to prevent the deflection of the worshipper’s concentration from the act.
In Sanskrit, the term aarti can be broken up into two words – “aa’ meaning towards and “rati” meaning the highest love for God. Traditionally, aarati is done two or three times a day, at the conclusion of a puja, bhajan or havan. It is a mandatory ritual performed on all auspicious occasions of Hindus. The aarti thali, which contains diya, flowers, incense and akshata, is circulated in front of the deity and arti song is sung by all members present there. When arti is performed before God, it is believed that the plate and the light get blessed by the deity.
The pandit, or the priest, passes on the arti plate from one person to another, present there, who cup the flickering fire lightly with their down-turned hands. Then, they put their hands over the flame and then touch their forehead, as a gesture of seeking holy blessings. The plate on which the aarati is performed is usually made of silver, bronze or copper. Aarti is also performed in front of a person, either as a welcome gesture or to ward off bad influences from him. Infact, the whole purpose of arti is to ward off the evil spirits and bad omens.
How to Offer an Arti
Various Saints and evolved devotees have composed devotional Artis (hymns in praise of the Lord) . They are thereby making available a beautiful and easy medium to light the lamp of devotion in the hearts of worshippers and enable them to invoke and imbibe the grace and blessings of a Deity by offering Arti. Singing an Arti conceived with the resolve of Saints accomplishes these objectives, when it is sung from the heart and as per the science of Spirituality.
An act is done with the heart only when its importance is genuinely understood. Explaining the science or principles in such things helps in early imprinting of its importance on the mind. With this objective, the science of Spirituality explains the various acts to be performed while offering Arti. In worship it is very important to perform each act as per the science of Spirituality. Many are not aware of various facts; for example, while offering Arti to God, one can move the platter in a clock-wise circle from the anahat chakra (at the heart area) to the adnya chakra (mid-brow region) of the Deity or that one must perform circumambulation after Arti. If these facts are not known they will not be performed or will be performed incorrectly. In this special issue on Arti, one will understand how to perform all the actions pertaining to Arti as per the science of Spirituality. If every one tries to perform the Arti with intense yearning and as per the science of Spirituality, then it will lead to an increase in collective spiritual emotion which will further activate the Deity’s principle and everyone will benefit from it. Similarly, the atmosphere will get purified and become Sattva predominant.
Why Arti platter should be waved in a full circle?
Q. On waving the Arti platter in front of a Deity Why should an Arti platter be waved in a full circle in front of the Deity?
A. When offering Arti, using a lamp with five wicks (also called pancharti), the platter containing this lit lamp should be waved in a full circle in front of the Deity. This results in a speedy circular movement of sattva frequencies emitted by the flame of the lamp. These sattva frequencies then get converted gradually into raja frequencies. They appear like ripples in the water. A suraksha kavach (protective armour) of these frequencies is formed around the embodied soul of the worshipper offering the Arti and is known as a ‘tarang kavach’ (lit. ‘ripple armour’). The more the spiritual emotion of the worshipper offering the Arti, longer this armour lasts. As his sattva component is enhanced, he is able to absorb more Divine frequencies from the Universe. This increases his spiritual emotion and he perceives the reflection of his soul in the form of a blue spot of light (also known as Atmabindu) in front of him and a ripple of raja frequencies emanating from this Atmabindu.
Q. Why should the Arti platter be waved in a clockwise direction in front of the Deity?
A. As the earth moves in the clockwise direction, the frequencies in the environment do not offer any resistance to the movement of the lit lamp.
Q. Why should the Arti platter not be waved above the head of the Deity?
A. The Arti platter should not be waved above the head of the Deity, but should be moved from the Anahat to the Adnya Chakra of the Deity. Due to the influence of the raja frequencies emanating from the Arti, friction develops with the sattva particles in the serene frequencies related to the unmanifest Divine principle (emitted from the head of the Deity). As a result, they can disintegrate before being transmitted. That is why the Arti platter should not be waved above the head of the Deity. Thus, the high-speed frequencies emitted from the Adnya chakra and which are related to the attributes of the Deity get complemented by the raja frequencies emanating from the lamp of the Arti. This enables them to be transmitted effectively in the environment forming a protective armour around the worshippers and destroying the raja-tama in the environment.
Should we clap during an Arti?
Singing the Arti should be accompanied by clapping. For seekers in the primary stage clapping should be done softly to maintain a rhythm. For those in the advanced stage, instead of clapping, one should attempt to look inward and become introverted. When singing the Arti, in addition to the clapping, musical instruments should be played.
It is incorrect to clap on occasions other than during the singing of Artis, as it brings about a stance that does not enhance the purity element within. Nowadays people clap during a discourse of Saints, at spiritual meetings or at religious functions; this is prevalent, but incorrect. Bliss should never be expressed by clapping; because due to the mudra (posture) created by this, the Surya-nadi (Sun Channel) in the human body is activated. The Surya-nadi in the body is known as ‘tamogun-vardhini’ (one which increases the Tamogun in us). The Moon channel in the body is known as ‘rajogun-vardhini’ as activation of this channel increases the influence of raja component in the body. The Sushumnanadi (central channel) is known as ‘sattvagun-vardhini’, as activation of this channel increases the influence of sattva component in the body. That is why the Sushumnanadi is beneficial for the practice of Spirituality. The mudra created while clapping causes the activation of the Surya-nadi in the body and there is an increase in the tama component in the body, thus reducing the proportion of sattva component.
one can express spiritual feelings by saying ” Sadho” or “Name of ishta devi or devta with Jai ” like “Jai Siya Ram ji” or Omkar Dhwani “AUM”
this helps the praana to enter the Sushmna .
Even though clapping increases the tama component, how it is useful in aiding the Arti is explained ahead.
Why should a seeker in the primary stage clap while singing an Arti?
During singing of an Arti one should clap gently to maintain a rhythm. According to the science of Spirituality the reason for this is as follows: We appeal to the Deity via the medium of the Arti. The frequencies of sound generated by singing the Arti have the capacity to appease the Deity. When we restrict the sound of the Arti to a taal (rhythm) by clapping, the frequencies of sound created by the Arti become melodious. Thus we can activate the Deity and Its principle then begins to function. As the bhav of the devotee is awakened during the Arti, the sattva component in his body is already high. As his Sushumnanadi is activated at that time, the clapping does not have much effect on his body.
When singing an Arti, besides clapping, musical instruments should be played, as it will help in awakening bhav in a seeker in the primary stage of spiritual practice. At this stage the seeker’s attitude is extroverted. But, as the goal of a seeker is to achieve introversion, to attain the next stage in his progress he should concentrate on becoming introverted rather than clapping or playing musical instruments during the Arti. Once introversion occurs, the seeker does not need to even utter the gross words in the Arti, as the Bliss he experiences is beyond words and is superior.
Why is Arti performed twice a day?
Arti is meant to be performed at sunrise and sunset. At sunrise the raja-tama predominant atmosphere present throughout the night is destroyed and the absolute fire element frequencies of Deities arrive in the universe. Hence, Arti is to be offered at sunrise to welcome them. The ‘tarak Chaitanya’ (saviour form of Chaitanya) transmitted during the arrival of the frequencies of Deities at sunrise is to be welcomed by the worshipper through the medium of the Arti, whereas at sunset, the Arti is performed to destroy the raja-tama frequencies and to invoke the Deities’ ‘marak Chaitanya’ (destroyer form of Chaitanya). That is why Arti should be performed twice – at sunrise and at sunset.
What is the science in performing Arti at sunset?
At sunset the proportion of the absolute fire element in the Sun’s rays starts reducing and the predominance of the raja-tama particles in the atmosphere increases. The generation of raja-tama frequencies also increases. Taking advantage of this situation, the negative energies increase their movement in the environ-ment. To prevent distress from such a predominately raja-tama environment, it is essential to evoke the Deities through the frequencies of sound emitted through the Arti and bring these frequencies into the orbit of the universe. As a result the proportion of the frequencies of Deities enriched within the environment increases and the proportion of distressing vibrations decreases. This creates protective armour around the devotee’s body.