These days we see a lot more of articles and videos on our ancient culture. This ancient culture was the Vedic culture in India also known by other words like Sanatana Dharma, Hindutva and Hinduism. Some people say that the culture was centred more on tapasya, religious austerities, meditation and seeking and not puja. Many priests and pandits are upset to see ‘puja’ not getting the importance it holds. Not only uninformed, social and political leaders are diminishing the role of puja but also some modern gurus to cater to their highly secularised audiences.
The Vedic tradition involves both Homa which became Pooja in the modern world, and tapasya which involves meditation and other preparatory exercises as well. Although they appear different, both are necessary in a spiritual seeker’s life. In elaborate poojas and homa, there is an aspect of meditation in the puja itself. Similarly, if you look at tapasya or meditation it includes maanasa puja, and mental worship.
So, it is not Tapasya vs Puja. Both are necessary in a human being ‘s life. Some people may need to focus more on one, some more on the other. We need to ask - What is the need for your spiritual growth and psychological growth? Accordingly, one may have to focus more on one or the other. How does one know that? It's very difficult to know on our own. Some amount of spiritual learning and a high level of self-awareness is required. Most of us are on a spiritual journey whether we realise it or not. One needs to have a guru or a teacher to guide us along the spiritual journey. In ancient India, every family always had a kula guru, a family guru who always guided the family the individuals on the path. So, if you really want to undertake some serious spiritual seeking, then with this basic understanding necessary, find a guru and let Him guide you on what is to be focused on.
The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at email@example.com
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