Pusyasnana

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Puṣyasnāna literally means ‘bath during the presence of the nakṣatra Puṣya’.

If there are evil forces in nature maneuvered by goblins and ghosts to disturb the peace of man, there are also supernatural remedies, good enough to neutralize them or even frighten them away. This was the discovery of the ancient ṛṣis or the sages. The remedies they have prescribed go by the general name ‘śānti’. Out of several such śāntis prescribed by them, the Puṣyasnāna or puṣyābhiṣeka is also the one.

Origin of Puṣyasnāna

Bṛhaspati, the guru for the teacher of the gods, is said to have performed this śānti rite for Indra, the king of gods. Hence it is also known as ‘bārhaspatya-snāna’. This rite is reserved for the kings, whose well-being is of primary importance for the welfare of the whole country ruled by them. Though it may be performed on any day that is associated with the Puṣya nakṣatra, the purṇimā or the full-moon day is the best.

Ritual of Puṣyasnāna

The Bṛhatsamhitā[1] of Varāhamihira[2] and the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa[3] gives a fairly detailed description of this rite. Some of the more important steps of this rite may now be listed as follows:

  • Choosing a proper date
  • Selecting a suitable spot for the performance of this rite which should be full of trees and plants with fragrant flowers and also ponds inhabited by swans
  • Drawing a maṇḍala[4] to keep the various articles needed for the rite
  • Ceremonially establishing the fire for offering oblations with appropriate mantras
  • Homa proper
  • Seating the king on a golden throne at a suitable place in the site of the ritual
  • Sprinkling clarified butter and holy water from the kalaśas[5] on him with mantras to purify him
  • King taking a ceremonial bath and then wearing two special cotton garments for the occasion
  • Special oblations

References

  1. Bṛhatsamhitā 47.1-87
  2. He lived in 6th century A. D.
  3. Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa 2.103
  4. Maṇḍala means the geometrical diagram of mystical significance.
  5. Kalaśas means the sacred pots.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore