Satyanarayan Puja

  • By Jnana Prabodhini
  • September 2001


When there are auspicious occasions in the life of a Hindu, or when one comes out safe from adverse circumstances or a calamity, he performs Shri Satya Narayan Pooja – worship. Also it is a custom to perform this pooja with a particular desire in mind, with the faith that God may fulfil it. Human mind many times needs to have such a faith.

God is called by many names. Satya Narayana is one such name. The formless omnipresent, omniscient Brahman is beyond the grasp of the mind of the layperson. So he resorts to the worship of some form. This is image-worship. Our saints say that the form and the formless are one. However, for the love of devotion, saints also seek to worship the deities like Ganapati, Shiva, Durga, Vitthala, and so on.

Satya Narayana is supposed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the middle one in the trio of Gods of Hindus viz. Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the controller) and Mahesh or Shiva (the destroyer). He is worshipped with his family, which comprises of Varuna, the god of water, the sun, the eight planets and the eight Ashtadikpalas or Lokapalas i.e. guards of the eight directions and benefactors of mankind.

Some people perform Satya Ganapati, Satya Durga or Satya Jnaneshwar pooja. In place of Narayana, they worship their beloved and revered deities or saints or god men. Since divinity manifests itself in various such forms, one can choose any of these forms and worship it. Freedom allowed to devotees of Sanathan Dharam to worship any God, follow a particular school of thought is one its important characteristics. In today’s world, however, it has become a weakness. Rigidity and one God in Christianity and Islam has become a great unifying factor, help its followers sink their differences. On the other hand freedom to think has allowed Bharat to produce outstanding saints propagating different schools of thought with a common Central Idea, which unfortunately is not visible to the common man, invariably, a Convent educated product.

In the customary Satya Narayana pooja, the Shaligram (symbol 0f Vishnu) of Balakrishna from the house-chapel is worshipped.

It is a custom to take one and a quarter unit of ground wheat, ghee, sugar, banana and milk and make a pudding (Halua) of these ingredients. This is offered as prasad. However, there are no strict regulations about the prasad. Available things are to be offered to God. The devotion with which the Pooja is offered is important; other things are secondary. For example, the worshipper usually wears a silk garment because silk is supposed to be pure. However, even simple, clean-washed clothes are equally pure. Really it is the pure mind and pure body that are necessary for performing the pooja. The same is true about the materials for worship.

This pooja is usually performed in the evening. However, it can be performed at any suitable time, and on any suitable day, except a new-moon day and a day of eclipse.

Any gentlemen or a lady of good character, of any caste, creed or religion can conduct this pooja.

After the pooja, it is customary to hear the stories of Satya Narayana from the priest. The stories are given in brief at the end of this script. If some other deities than Satya Narayana, or other saints, great men or women are worshipped, their respective stories can be told after the pooja.

The purpose of the worship is to fill the worshipper’s mind with optimism, with a will to exert himself for higher aspirations, and to create a feeling of modesty and gratitude for what has been given by God. We hope that this script will be useful to those who are not familiar with the scripts in Indian languages.

Requirements for the Pooja

1. Wooden seats – 3
2. Kumkum
3. Haladi – Turmeric powder
4. Rangoli / Megulu
5. Incense
6. Betel leaves – 40
7. Betel Nuts – 20
8. Coconut
9. Tulasi leaves ( if available )
10.  Mango or Ashok leaves
11. Urns ( Kalashas ) – 2
12. Metal plates 3, Spoons 3
13. Mixture of milk, yogurt, ghee, sugar, honey (Panchamrit)
14. Sandalwood paste
15. Akshata : Rice grains mixed with slight Kumkum
16. Rice grains : 1/ 2 kilo
17. Warm water
18. The Holy Bell
19. The Holy coonch
20. A small piece of new cloth – handkerchief size
21. Oil Lamp stand ( Samai )
22. Oil lamp ( Neeranjan )
23. Sacred thread
24. A pudding of ground wheat, milk, ghee, banana, and sugar ( each 1.25 unit )

The arrangement of the Chapel :

( In Hindu tradition, betel nuts represent the deities. The worshipper provides seats of rice grains to these deities and installs them on the seats. The following should be the arrangement made on a raised wooden seat. Betel nuts representing deities are kept on betel leaves.)

Satya Narayana – Shaligram or Balakrishna is installed in the centre on a metal plate filled with rice grains. Five to six mango or Ashok leaves should be half immersed in the Kalasha, and spaced around its mouth, their tips outside the Kalasha. The metal plate is kept on an urn ( Kalasha ) filled with water. The inner circle of 8 betel nuts represents eight planets. The sun and Varuna are installed on the plate with Satya Narayana. The outer circle represents 8 benefactors guarding eight directions. Ganapati is installed in front of the Satya Narayana.

The worshipper sits facing the east and the priest sits facing the north. All the present participate in the pooja by chanting the mantras.

The worshipper touches the feet of his parents, elders and the priest, and then takes his seat for worship.

Here commences the pooja

Priest : Let us commence this Satya Narayana pooja by a purifying gesture. Sip water from your right palm each time you take the name of god.

Priest and the participants :

  ( Achaman )

Priest : Now when you utter the fourth name, let the water pass from your right palm to the metal plate you have in front of you.

Priest and the participants :

   ( Udak )

Priest and the participants :

Priest : A person may be impure, pure or in whatever state, if he remembers god he is pure inside out.

Let us now purify the place of worship.

Priest and the participants :

Priest : May the evil spirits residing in this place and the powers that obstruct the auspicious undertaking vacate this place by the command of Lord Shiva. May all the evil powers vanish from this place. With the blessings of all benefactory powers. I commence the worship of Shri Satya Narayana.

It is a custom to recite Gayatri Mantra in the beginning of this pooja. In Gayatri Mantra we pray the earth, the space, the sun, millions of suns, our galaxy, millions of glalxies and the Supreme that presides over this expansion of the universe. We pray him for inspiring our intellect.

Priest and the participants :

  Harihi Om
  O Earth
  O Space
  O Sun
  O Millions of suns
  O Galaxy
  O Infinite galaxies
  O Truth

We contemplate the divine luster of that Truth. May he inspire our intellect?

Priest : Lord Ganapati is also worshipped in the beginning of all auspicious ceremonies as he removes the obstacles in the accomplishment of the pooja.

Priest and the participants :

Priest : We venerate the great Ganapati May he bless the worship and let it be accomplished.

Priest and the participants :

On this earth, on……continent, in the country called…….., in the city/town/village called ……., in the month of…., in the……, half of the lunar month, on……(date), on…….day, under the star constellation called……., with the available material for worship, according to the best of my knowledge, I worship Shri Satya Narayana for the health, prosperity, well-being of my family and for the fulfillment of all our desires. As a part of this worship, I pray the urn, the holy conch, the holy bell and the lamp.

Priest : Let us imagine that the pious water of the seven holy rivers in India is in this urn, and now let us worship the urn.

Priest and the participants :

Priest : O holy Ganga, Jamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri, may your holy waters enter this urn.

Offer sandal-wood paste, Akshata and flowers to the urn.

Now we worship the holy coonch.

Priest and the participants :

Priest : O Panchajanya, you are the superior among conches. You were born in the ocean. Shri Vishnu holds you in his hand. All gods bow before you. I too bow before you.

Offer sandal-wood paste, flowers and Akshata to the holy conch.

Now we worship the holy bell.

Priest and the participants :

Priest : To beckon the gods and to drive away the evil spirits, I ring this holy bell. I offer sandal-wood paste flowers and Akshata to the holy bell. Before it.

We now worship the oil lamp, which symbolizes light energy.

Priest and the participants :

Priest : O lamp, you are the Energy. You are the master of all luminous things. Please bring me health, and fulfill my desire for progeny and wealth. I offer sandal-wood paste, Akshata and flowers to the lamp. After this worship of the urn, the conch the bell and the lamp, we come to the principal deity of worship, Satya Narayana, and the deities that accompany him Varun – god of water, and the sun are also installed near Satya Narayana.

We beckon the eight guards of eight directions, eight planets of our solar system, and the sun and Varuna to reside in the betel nuts kept in their places and request them to accept our offerings.

Priest and the Participants :

I invite Varuna – the god of water – and offer him sandalwood paste, Akshata and flowers.

Priest and the participants :

I beckon the eight guards of the eight directions and offer sandalwood paste, Akshata and flowers to them.

I invite the sun and the eight planets of our solar system and offer sandalwood paste, Akshata and flowers to them.

Priest and the participants :

Priest : I contemplate Shri Satya Narayana. He is the ultimate Truth. He is beyond the three basic dispositions viz. Sattva, Rajas, and tamas. Still he assimilates these in his manifest forms. He reigns the three worlds He is adorned by the scintillating jewel called Kaustubha. His complexion is blue he wear a golden garment. On his heart is the footprint of the sage Shrivatsa. He is the joy of Gokul where he was brought up. He is worshipped by all gods like Brahma and others. I, too contemplate upon his glory.

Priest and the participants :

I venerate Shri Satya Narayana, and offer him Akshata for a seat.

I bow before Shri Satya Narayana and wash his feet.

I revere Shri Satya Narayana and offer scented water to wash his hands.

I venerate Shri Satyanarayana, and give him water to sip ( Offer a spoonful of water.)

I revere Shri Satya Narayana, and offer him warm water for bath.

I venerate Shri Satya Narayana, and offer him the bath of Panchamrit i.e. milk, yogurt, honey, sugar and ghee.

I bow before Shri Satya Narayana and bathe him with pure water.

I worship Shri Satya Narayana, and offer him sandalwood paste, Akshata, Tulasi leaves, Haladi, Kumkum and new cloth.

I revere Shri Satya Narayana and offer him incense, waive the lamp and consecrate this Panchamrit and other sacrificial food ( coconut, pudding etc.) to him.

Priest and the participants :

I revere Shri Satya Narayana and offer him prayer.

The prayer :

Meaning : I do not know how to invite you and venerate you. O God, forgive me for that. I lack devotion, the knowledge of rites and do not know the mantras. Yet, O Satya Narayana, I worship you. May this pooja be accomplished To the one who has easily created this world; I offer my reverences again and again. O God, give me pleasant appearance, victory and success. Give me progeny and wealth. Keep my enemies away and fulfill all my desires. I bow before the infallible that is Achyuta. Recalling and uttering his name, make devotional rites become flawless.

Priest and participants :

May, by this worship, god Satya Narayana be pleased.

( After this, all stand up for Aarati.)

Meaning : O God Shri Satya Narayana, we offer our services to thee and sing thy glory We listen to the stories of your greatness. We get rid of the worries of our life by praying you and receiving the sacrificial food.

Those who worship you single-mindedly get peace and happiness. You wave off their anxieties. Please fulfill the desires of your devotees for progeny and wealth, and give them shelter at your feet.

Even gods like Brahma cannot describe your grandeur, nor the four Vedas. Truth, Piety and Beauty are your real nature.

O God, please accept this little service (prayer) of poet Swananda.

After Aarati – prayer – the priest starts telling the stories of Shri Satya Narayana,

Stories of Shri Satya Narayana

(These stories appear in the chapter called Revakhanda of the Skanda Purana, an old mythological script.)

Chapter one gives the backdrop of the stories. The sages staying in a forest called Naimisha ask the great sage Soot, ‘What kind of penance or observance fulfills the desires of human beings ?’ Soot answers, ‘O sages the same question was asked by Narada to Shri Vishnu. Shri Vishnu told Narada the Vrata (a religious observance) of Shri Satya Narayana. He said, ‘This Vrata drives away pain and sorrow, and brings happiness, wealth and progeny to the worshipper. Usually this worship is to be offered after sunset. A pudding (Halua) of ground wheat, milk, ghee, sugar and bananas is offered to Shri Satya Narayana. He is worshipped with Haldi, Kumkum, Sandalwood paste and other available material. Such a worship passifies all yearnings in the heart and fulfills the wishes of the worshipper.

In the second chapter Shri Satya Narayana takes the guise of an old Brahmin and explains the Vrata to a poor Brahmin. The poor Brahmin observes the Vrata and attains wealth and spiritual felicity. A wood-cutter learns the Vrata from the Brahmin and he, too by performing it, becomes prosperous.

In the third chapter, Sadhu, a merchant, learns the Vrata from a king named Ulkamukha. He and his wife Leelavati observed the Vrata and obtained riches. They gave birth to a daughter called Kalavati. When Kalavati reached the age of marriage, he married her to a worthy young man. He had vowed to perform Shri Satya Narayana pooja at the time of his daughter’s marriage, but he forgot everything about it after marriage.

When he went on a tour for trading with his son-in-law, the king’s men accused him of theft. Both, Sadhu and his son-in-law put to jail. But when Kalavati came to know about this, she worshipped Shri Satya Narayana and, as a result, her father and her husband were freed from the jail.

In the fourth chapter, Sadhu and his son-in-law start for their hometown carrying gold and other things by sea on ship. Shri Satya Narayana takes the form of a hermit and asks Sadhu, ‘What do you have on your ship?’ Sadhu says jocularly, ‘We have only creepers and leaves on it !’

All of a sudden , the ship starts floating lightly on the water. The valuables on the ship are turned into creepers and leaves. Ten Sadhu, the merchant offers apologies to Shri Satya Narayana, worships him and Shri Satya Narayana turns the creepers and leaves into valuable things again.

When Sadhu and his son-in-law reached the shore of their native place, Kalavati was worshipping Shri Satya Narayana. When she heard that her father and her husband had come back, she hastened to see them without eating the sacrificial food offered to Shri Satya Narayana.

But then, she could not find her husband and the ship. She was taken over by great sorrow. Then the divine voice of Shri Satya Narayana is heard saying ‘Kalavati, you rushed to the shore without having Prasad – the sacrificial food’ Kalavati realized her mistake and went back home, had Prasada and returned to the shore. To her great delight, she found her husband there.

The fifth chapter tells us the story of the kind Angadhwaja who rejected the Prasada of Shri Satya Narayana and, as a result, lost his sons along with riches and fortunes. When he started worshipping Satya Narayana regularly, everything that was lost was restored to him.

Comments : What is the gist and the lesson of these stories ? The author seems to suggest that one should not boast of his wealth and achievements, and forget the Supreme power that gives us these things. One should be grateful to the Supreme in pleasure and happiness, and never forget him. Absence of humility, devotion and gratitude lead to all kinds of peril and pain.

Thus the Satya Narayana stories depict god as a purvey or of rewards and punishments.

Some may feel that these stories encourage fatalism. But what is important is the moral of the story. In place of the story of Sadhu – the merchant, any other story of gods, saints, or god men can tell on this occasion. Even stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata can be told. The purpose is to remember God and be grateful to him. Whichever way that impresses this moral is welcome.

May the Ultimate Truth, worshipped as Shri Satya Narayana, bring enlightenment to those who worship him.

(After the stories, Prasad is distributed and the ceremony ends.)

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