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Monday, February 13, 2017

pradakṣiṇa


I had some interesting realization about the word pradakṣiṇa -

This is the dictionary meaning -

The prefix ‘pra’ means: forward, in front, on, forth, motion, or prakṛṣṭa, excellence, and 'dakṣiṇa' means: to the right.

प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. circumambulation from left to right of a person or object as a kind of worship
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. standing or placed on the right
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. turning the right side towards
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. to the right side
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. respectful
प्रदक्षिण pradakSiNa adj. auspicious
प्रदक्षिन pradakSina n. circumambulation  [ in clockwise direction ]
प्रदक्षिणम् pradakSiNam ind. so that the reverential side is turned towards a person or object

In the story of the lifting of mount Govardhana, in chapter 24 of the 10th canto of the Bhāgavata, the supreme pradakṣiṇa, or Girirāja parikramā, was introduced -

10.24.29 pradakṣiṇaṁ ca kuruta go-viprānala-parvatān

Kṛṣṇa said - "Keep the cows, brahmins, fire and the mountain [Girirāja Govardhana] on your right as you go round them."

10.24.33 go-dhanāni puraskṛtya giriṁ cakruḥ pradakṣiṇam

“The Vrajavāsīs kept Girirāja Govardhana to their right during their parikramā."

As also after the completion of the Uddhava Gīta at the end of the 11th Canto:

11.29.45  sa evam ukto hari-medhasoddhavaḥ  pradakṣiṇaṁ taṁ parisṛtya pādayoḥ

“Uddhava went round the Lord, keeping Him always to his right.”

In Vedic culture the superior is on the right and the subordinate on the left.

śrīdāma subalau vāme puro'sya madhumangalaḥ
dakṣiṇe śrī balascānye paritaḥ samupāviśan

(Govinda Līlāmṛta 4.22)

"(During Kṛṣṇa's breakfast) Śrīdāma and Subala sat on Kṛṣṇa's left, Madhumangala faced Him and Balarāma sat on His right........”

Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa's superior, sits on the right, and Śrīdāma and Subala, His subordinates, on the left.

dakṣiṇe'syāgrajau vāme'nujau putrau puraḥ sthitau; 
subhadrādyā harer vāme baṭavo bala dakṣiṇe

(Govinda Līlāmṛta 20.44)

(During supper) "Nanda's older brothers (Upananda and Abhinanda) sat on his right, his younger brothers (Sananda and Nandana) on his left and Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma faced him. Subhadra and others sat on Kṛṣṇa's left and the brāhmaṇas sat on Balarāma's right."

I first learned the principle of junior to the left and senior to the right during my initiation from Sādhu Bābā in Vṛndāvana in 1982. I was asked to sit to Sādhu Bābā's left during the private ceremony.

The most famous verse mentioning pradakṣiṇa is: yāni kāni ca pāpāni brahma hatyādikāni ca tāni tāni pranaśyanti pradakṣiṇa pade pade (Which I cannot find in Haribhakti Vilāsa)

There is also a pradakṣiṇa māhātmya (glorification of pradakṣiṇa) in the 8th vilāsa of the Haribhakti Vilāsa.

10 comments:

  1. Dandavat pranams,

    How come we keep the deities to our left when we offer obeisances in the temple?

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  2. Syamsunder, I'm not sure if there IS such a rule in shastra. Good question. I often face the deities when I pay obeisances.

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  3. Yes, it seems that facing the deity is accepted everywhere, but I've heard of devotees getting scorned for bowing down with their right to the deity. Never heard any explanation though.

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  4. namaskāre’py aparādhāś caite parihartavyāḥ viṣṇu-smṛty-ādi-dṛṣṭyā | ye khalu eka-hasta-kṛtatva-vastrāvṛta-dehatva-bhagavad-agra-pṛṣṭha-vāma-bhāgātyanta-nikaṭa-garbha-mandira-gatatvādi-mayāḥ [Bhakti-sandarbha 303] It's an offence to offer obeisances to the deity behind Him, facing Him or keeping Him on the left side.

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  5. I cannot provide the sanskrit, and I'm not sure who translated this edition. If I understand it right, this is Sanatana Goswami's tika to text 362 of the first Vilasa of Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa:

    "Garuda stands facing the Lord, so if Garuda is at one's right, then the Lord is at one's left. One should not bow down keeping the Lord at one's right. One also should not bow down directly facing the Lord. As one is forbidden to circumambulate only once, so also one is forbidden to bow down only once. One should bow down three times. If one is able, he should bow down many times: six times, eight times, or 108 times. The more times the better."

    So, should we stop offering obeisances altogether?

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  6. I'm looking at Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji's edition of Bhakti Sandarbha from 2006. His translation of the section you posted is different from the translation you provided. There it says:

    "to the left of the Lord"

    So that would be from the deity's perspective.

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  7. Please provide the whole sentence by SND - what's the difference between 'keeping Him on the left side' and "to the left of the Lord"?

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  8. "In offering obeisance one should avoid the following offenses, as described in the Visnu-smrti: To bow down with one hand, to offer prostrated obeisances while the body is fully clothed, to offer obeisance directly facing the Lord, with one's back turned towards the Lord, to the left side of the Lord, or too close to or inside the sanctum sanctorum are all offenses."

    I understand this to mean that one should approach the altar from the same direction where the pujari stands while offering arati. That is to the deity's right, from the deity's own perspective. From there one should bow down with one's left side towards the deity.

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  9. Yes that is what I see the devotees in Vraja do too - opposite of pradakṣiṇa or parikramā.

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  10. « When bowing down before the Deity, keep your left side to Him. Do not prostrate yourself directly facing the Deity, behind the Deity, with your right side toward the Deity, nor too close to the Deity (i.e., inside the pūjārī area). » (Sādhanā Guide, 2016)

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