Sri Sathya Sai Vratha Kalpam
Worship of Sri Sathya Sai)
SRI SATHYA SAI VRATHA KALPAM
Vratham is a Sanskrit word meaning
a holy ritual of worship (pooja) of the Lord. Kalpam, also a Sanskrit word,
means a prescribed procedure, a step-by-step order which the devotee follows
while performing the Vratham.
Why do devotees go through this
Vratham and what exactly is its significance?
Simply stated, worship (pooja) is :
rendering obeisance to that Supreme Being, the Eternal Ultimate Reality that
pervades everywhere and transcends everything. To reach and to merge with
that Supreme Being is the spiritual goal of every aspiring soul.
For achieving that goal, great
sages of yore devised several spiritual disciplines and austerities. For the
benefit of those who are not in a position to undergo those rigours, several
holy rituals are also available. One of them is Vratham.
All over India, Sri Sathya Narayana
Vratham is performed. The presiding deity, Sri Sathya Narayana, is
celebrated for his readiness to grant every boon and fulfil every desire
seeking which a devotee performs the Vratham.
Sri Sathya Sai Vratha Kalpam is
patterned on the same lines. As is well known, Sri Sathya Sai, as a baby,
was named Sathya Narayana; and like that deity he is well known for
fulfilling every desire of his devotees. He Himself proclaimed that he would
ever protect and grant every wish of his devotees at all times.
2. Guidelines to Devotees
The spot selected for the pooja
should be properly cleaned for the event. In the four corners and in the
centre, lotus designs should be made with powdered rice. If a mandapam (readymade
base, wooden framework) is available, it may be put up. At the four corners
of the base four banana plants should be positioned. A wooden plank (peetham)
of appropriate size should be washed clean with water, wiped dry and then
placed in the pooja spot in the midst of the four banana plants. A new piece
of cloth should be folded and arranged on the wooden peetham. Over the cloth,
five 'paavs'* of cleaned rice grains should be evenly spread. In the centre
thereof, in the rice grains, Pranavam, i.e. OM, should be written with the
finger. At the back of the pooja mandapam a picture of Sri Sai Bhagavan,
duly decorated with a bindi and flower garlands, should be placed. A
round-bellied vessel (or a large-sized tumbler) made of metal should be
cleaned properly. Turmeric paste should be applied to its outer surface and
vermilion (kumkum bindi) spots should be applied. It should be half-filled
with clean, potable water in which five pieces each of dates (khajoor),
grapes (draaksha or kismis), almonds (badaam), cashews (kaaju) and
crystallised sugar (misri) are to be dropped. A pinch each of turmeric,
vermilion, sandalwood paste and a few akshathas should also be dropped into
the vessel. Then, small twigs of five kinds of plants should be arranged in
the vessel. Each twig should contain five leaves, which are known as pancha
pallavas; these can be of mango, banyan, peepul, cotton or bhel varieties.
They should be so arranged that they are visible outside the mouth of the
vessel. A new blouse piece folded into the form of hollow cone should be
placed among the twigs. The point of the cone should be inside the vessel.
The hollow base should be upwards. A garland of flowers should be placed
around the conically folded blouse piece. A dehusked coconut, after its
fibre is removed leaving a small tuft, should be covered with turmeric
paste. A dot of vermilion should be applied to look like a bindi. Around the
tuft of fibre should be placed a flower garland and another garland should
be placed around the neck of the vessel. The coconut so decorated should be
placed within the open hollow base of the conically folded blouse piece.
After all these decorations are done, the vessel would look like the body of
the deity, the coconut the head, the blouse piece the body's upper garment
and the bindi, turmeric and garlands constituting the overall make-up. This
is called the Kalasam. This fully made up Kalasam should now be placed on
the peetham in front of the picture of Sri Sai. Over the letters OM written
on the rice spread, a large-sized paan leaf should be placed, over which a
small metal figure or idol of Sri Sai should be positioned. In front of that,
another paan leaf should be placed, on which a small representation of
Ganapathi, made of moistened turmeric powder, should be installed. While
performing the Vratham, this Ganapathi should be worshipped first and
foremost. Only thereafter should the metal idol, the Kalasam and the picture
of Sri Sai should be worshipped.
MATERIALS FOR POOJA
Coconuts (8), bananas (8), all
varieties of flowers, green leaves (like bhel, thulasi, banyan, peepul,
mango), turmeric powder, vermilion powder, sandalwood powder, akshathas (rice
grains coloured with moistened turmeric), jannivu (sacred thread, made by
twisting a cotton sliver with fingers moistened with wet vibhuthi), vasthram
(piece of new cloth; or cotton pressed by fingers with the help of moistened
turmeric powder to look like small, thin, flat pieces of cloth), camphor,
joss-sticks or incense, a lamp with provision for five wicks, spare wicks,
paan leaves, betel nuts, panchaamruthams (viz., milk, curd, ghee, honey and
sugar or jaggery). A small bronze bell is also required to be rung at the
commencement of pooja.
These articles are all essential for
If as many as eight coconuts as listed
above are not available two will do; one coconut may be used at the
beginning and the other at the end. In between, instead of a coconut, a
fruit may be offered. At the end of the pooja, prasadam should be offered.
Decorations may be made according to the capacity and taste of the
individual devotee; they may be either simple or elaborate. What is of
primary importance in performing this Vratham is the depth of faith,
dedication and devotion.
COMPONENTS OF PRASADAM
Granulated wheat (sooji or daliya) (five
paavs); sugar; raisins (kismis); almonds (badam); cashew (kaaju); ghee (clarified
butter). (Sooji is known as cream of wheat; Daliya is broken whole wheat.)
THITHIS (DAYS) SUITABLE FOR VRATHAM
Poornima or Ekaadasi, as convenient.
TIME OF THE DAY FOR VRATHAM
In the afternoon at the time of
Pradosham; in the morning at the Brahma Muhoortham.
PLACE OF VRATHAM
The Vratham may be performed in a
temple, or any sacred place, or on the bank of a river, or in front of a
Thulasi plant, or within the devotee's residence.
Every person is entitled to perform
this Vratham. Husband and wife together, widowers, widows, old persons,
unmarried boys and girls may all perform it and receive the Lord's blessings
and obtain salvation.