Importance of ANGARA and AKSHATA
– By Sri Raghavendra Acharya Rachuri
Any religious practice, to be valid, should be backed by a valid scripture or an authentic sampradAya. For, what is enjoined in the scriptures or adhered to by the sampradAya becomes important and relevant. Apart from this, in these modern times, we also feel a need for some scientific explanation or background for all our religious practices, for everyone to practice them with conviction.
Today, we find reference to some of our practices in our scriptures such as gopichandana UrdhvapunDra dhAraNa, mudrA dhAraNa, angAra dhAraNa etc. But, for some practices such as akshata, there is no specific scriptural evidence available so far. But we learn that this is as authentic as gopichandana and angAra dhAraNa as it was practiced by great stalwarts of Madhva philosophy.
All these practices may or may not have an explanation in terms of modern science. But there must be scientific explanation for everything and these practices must also have some traditional scientific reason. But, our scriptures, for some reason, don’t reveal the traditional scientific reasons for such practices. Therefore, these basic questions though they look simple, become very difficult to answer with authority.
Presented below is what little the author knows about the practices of angAra and akshata.
Importance and relevance of angAra
There is a quote available from padma purANa which says
na bhayam vidyate tasya divi bhaumAntarikshajam
viShNordhUpasya sheSheNa yasyAngam ca vilepitam
There will be no fear on earth, sky or antariksha who has applied the dhUpa sheSha of viShNu (angAra) on his body.
bhavanti sampadastasya nApadastasya dehinaH
harerdattAvasheSheNa dhUpena parimArjati
One who applies the angAra after offering it to Shri Hari, will be blessed with wealth and will be free from adversities.
pishAchato bhayam nAsti na chorAdi bhayam kvachit
shechayitvA harerdhUpam nirmAlyam pAdayorjalam
deepam neerAjanam kRutvA devadevasya chakriNaH
varShakoTi shatam sAgram viShNorloke maheeyate
There will be no fear of devils and thieves to one who offers deepa and neerAjana, applies angAra and wears the nirmAlya of Shri Hari.
Preparation of angAra
AngAra, basically is a burning charcoal, which is red hot. First, dhUpa should be offered to viShNu by sprinkling dashAngam etc. on the red hot charcoal during pooja. Later it is cooled by putting it in water. It should be kept aside for applying after the completion of pooja.
Where to apply
It is applied at all places where gopichandana is applied.
When to apply and when not to
Should be applied everyday without fail even on ekadashi’s and even during ashaucha.
As mentioned earlier, there is no specific reference to this practice in the scriptures available to us today. But our rich sampradaya stands as a proof to this practice.
Importance and relevance of Akshata
As we have no scriptural evidence available today for this practice we cannot give specific details on its importance or relevance.
The basic ingredients of akshata are
- turmeric root
- powder ash of burnt plantain flower
The steps to prepare akshata are as follows
- The covering of the plantain flower (baaLe hoovina sippe) should be dried and burnt and the ash collected.
- A turmeric root should be ground on a stone slab (shaaNe kallu) adding small quantities of water to make a soft paste
- Mix sufficient quantity of the ash from step 1
- The paste will turn maroon in color.
- Offer it to viShNu during pooja and to other deities. Keep it aside for applying after the completion of the pooja
When to use and when not to?
According to the sampradaya, akshata is not applied during ekadashis and ashaucha (due to death of some near relative)
Where to apply
On the forehead at the root of angAra