Do you know the significance of Kalash (कुंभ) in Hindu Rituals?
In Hinduism, Puja means (Sanskrit) Pu means Puto Ja means Jayate so it implies the method of purification. As such, Puja is a ritualistic procedure to prepare the body for divinization.
According to the Puja Vidhana, Puja is of three types such as Para Puja, Apara Puja and Parapara Puja.
Para Puja is the highest form of Divine Consciousness in which worship is performed in the mental state through imagination.
And the Puja materials are the abstract objects of the inner body which are offered in the subtle form to the presiding deity inside one’s body. The Hindus regard it as Atma Peetha Pujan.
Apara Puja is the worship of the gross forms known as Saguna Upasana in which gross Puja materials are offered to the deities. But Parapara Puja is the combination of both assimilating both gross and subtle forms.
Sthula Upasana or Apara Puja is important to purify the five gross elements of the body while Para Puja is essential for the purification of the inner bodily parts for the union of the Jivatma, individual Soul with Paramatma, Supreme Soul.
Through these practices such a stage of contemplation happens when Sadhaka realizes,
आत्मा त्वं गिरिजा मतिः सहचराः प्राणाः शरीरं गृहं
पूजा ते विषयोपभोगरचना निद्रा समाधिस्थितिः।
संचारःपदयोःप्रदक्षिणविधिः स्तोत्राणि सर्वा गिरो
यद्यत्कर्म करोमि तत्तदखिलं शंभो तवाराधनम् ।।
According to Agama Shastra there are four places for worship known as catuṣ-sthana.
(a) Kumbha or Kalasha
(b) Maṇḍala - geometric design filled in with colour.
(c) Bimba/ Murti - an icon or image.
(d) Agni - fire
The kumbha is the indispensible accessory to all Tantric worship where invocation is performed. This jar is also known as kalaśa and comprises of a metal or clay jar decorated with a string of three colours red, white and black;
it is filled with water and then spices (parimala dravya) are added along with precious stones (or a coin), herbs, and a betel leaf & nut.
The mouth of the kumbha is covered with five / Seven leaves from the five sacred trees or just five leaves from one of the sacred trees.
A coconut coloured yellow with turmeric is placed over the mouth of the jar. There are four dots (bindus) placed at each of the cardinal points on the outside of the kumbha, a kurca [bunch] of 24 darbha blades is placed in the jar
and another kurcha of five blades tied with a special knot (brahma-granthi) is placed over the top of the whole kumbha. This decorated kumbha is then placed on a bed of raw rice on a lotus design.
Square at the bottom = earth, circle = water, triangle pointed up = fire, crescent = air and sunya atop ,
कलशस्य मुखे विष्णु कंठे रुद्र समाश्रिता: मूलेतस्य स्थितो ब्रह्मा मध्ये मात्र गणा स्मृता:।
A gopuram is a monumental entrance tower, usually ornate, with odd number (3, 5, 7, and 9) of kalasa on top, at the entrance of a Hindu temples, in the states of Southern India.
Kalasa is Panchaloha-metal called Pancha-patra vase filled with water, covered with 5-mango-leaves (grabha-patra) with Nava-dhanyas, and a coconut atop in Hindu ritual symbolizes God: invite all the holy rivers of Ganga, yamuna, godavari, saraswati,
narmada, sindhu, kaveri into this water and all the gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Ganesh). The oceans as well are seated in various locations on the pot, so are all the vedas (Rigveda, yajurveda, samaveda). Pray to Gayatri for bringing peace.
This jar represents the axis mundi the Holy Mount Meru which is the axis of the universe. A miniature model of the entire cosmos. The water represents the oceans and the all-pervading Supreme Consciousness.
It symbolises the primordial ocean of cosmic unity from which creation arises. The kalaśa contains within it all vegetable matter represented by the tulasi leaf, all mineral matter represented by the precious stones (or coin). And all herbs symbolised by the spices.
The triple-coloured thread (white, red & black) represent the three qualities (guṇas) sattva, rajas and tamas centripetal force, centrifugal force and the revolving force.
The five leaves symbolise the five primordial elements or the five states of matter fire, water, earth, air & ether gaseous, liquid, solid, energy & space.
The coconut symbolises the human entity which is the highest form of being in the creation.
The Self is encased according to the Yoga Shastra in three sheaths;
1. Physical body (sthula-śarira) symbolised by the external husk of the coconut.
2. Astral body (sukṣma-sarira) symbolised by the white kernal.
3. Causal body (karaṇa-sarira) or the “body” of Karma, vasanas and saṁskara, symbolised by the coconut milk.
A kurca; bunch of five blades of darbha grass tied with a special knot called the brahma granthi in placed over the top.
This symbolises the five primary functions of the Godhead projection of the universe, sustentation, withdrawl, administering the law of Karma and granting liberation (mokṣa).
When complete, the Kumbha is placed upon a bed of raw rice representing food i.e. consumption and reproducion which is the basis of all life forms from Brahma to an amoeba.
And the lotus diagram upon which the whole apparatus rests, represents the lotus of the spiritually awakened mind.
According to Akhand Sutra; The main idea of keeping Kalash in Puja; vessels are constructed to represent the divinity being invoked into..
..them for the specified purpose or occasion. There is not only one correct way to do this, but scriptures give many avenues to achieve success of blessings. A brass, mud or copper pot (Kumbh/kalash) is filled with water.
The vessel itself symbolizes the body. Mango leaves are placed in the mouth of the pot and a coconut is placed over it as it is said Devtas reside on parts of these leaves making them auspicious.
For vessels being used to invoke Shakti, neemb can be added. In some instances 5 liquids are used instead of water. Any liquid used symbolizes the composition matter of a body a red or white thread is tied around its neck or sometimes all around it in a intricate..
..diamond-shaped pattern. This symbolizes the veins and arteries. The pot may be decorated wit designs. Such a pot is known as a kalasha.
When the pot is filled with water or rice, it is known as purnakumbha representing the inert body (Ghata) which when filled with the divine life force gains the power to do all the wonderful things that makes life what it is.
Purnakumbha literally means a "full Pot" (Purna = full, Kumbha = Pot). The Purnakumbha is a Pot full of water, with fresh leaves of the mango tree and a coconut (Sriphala) placed on the top. Dry coconuts are traditionally used without having the 3 eyes exposed.
The use of green coconuts symbolizes the ability to cleanse a space from negative energies for a new beginning and or retaining peaceful and positive energy. This is much like symbolizing the womb of the Devi in that this is where creation of all new prosperous things come from.
The Purna-Kalasha is considered a symbol of abundance & "source of life" in the Vedas. Purna-Kumbha is preeminently a Vedic motif, known from the time of Rigveda. It is called Soma-Kalasha, Chandra-Kalasha, Indra-Kumbha,Purnaghata, Purna-Virakamsya,Bhadra ghata or Mangala ghata.
It is referred to as "overflowing full vase" (purno-asya Kalasha) in the Vedas. The Purna-Kalasha is believed to be a symbol of auspiciousness embodying either Ganapati / Shakti Amman.
Kalasa was generated during the Samudramanthan or great churning of ocean. Lord Vishnu held Kalash filled with nectar during Samudramanthan. All deities reside in the kalash. Therefore it has an important place in puja ritual.
The water in the kalasha symbolizes the primordial water from which the entire creation emerged. It is the giver of life to all and has the potential of creating innumerable names and forms, the inert objects and the sentient beings and all
that is auspicious in the world from the energy behind the universe. The leaves and coconut represent creation. The thread represents the love that “binds” all in creation. The kalasha is therefore considered auspicious and worshipped.
The waters from all the holy rivers, the knowledge of all the Vedas and the blessings of all the deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for all the rituals, including the abhisheka.
The consecration (kumbhaabhisheka) of a temple is done in a grand manner with elaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple.
This then easily helps in retaining the sattvikta of water for along time.
Five precious stones like pearl, diamond, emerald, blue sapphire, ruby and gold are also added to the water of kalash. The five precious stones and gold have capacity to attract and emit the principles of five superior deities.
This benefits the worshipper. But with changing times the use of five preious stones and copper is reduced and replaced by alloys which are spiritually of less benefit.
When the asuras and devas churned the milky ocean,the God Dhanvantari appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life.
Thus the kalasha also symbolizes immortality. Men of wisdom r full & complete as they identify with the infinite Truth (poornatvam).
They brim with joy and love and respect all that is auspicious. We greet them with a purnakumbha ("full pot") acknowledging their greatness and as a sign of respectful and reverential welcome, with a "full heart".
The kalash is used for creating seat for invoked deities during the puja ritual. First it is filled with water and then leaves of mango tree or that of betel vine are kept in it. These leaves are known as leaves of deity’s seat.
The deity principle gets maximaly attracted to these leaves of seat. The water inside the kalash keeps this seat pure till the ritual of Pranapratishta (invoking deity into an image, idol, coconut or betelnut). Thus the invoked deity principle stays for a long period.
In this kalash betel nut or some coins are then put. Thereafter a coconut is set up on the mouth of the kalash. The tuft of coconut attracts the deity principle from the atmosphere and it is then transmitted to the water in the kalash through the body of cococnut.
The neck of the pot is tied with a white, yellow or red colored thread or cloth. The water is pure and clean to the highest extent. That is the reason it is able to attract the sattvik particles of frequencies of deities.
Putting a coin is symbolic of sacrifice. Through this medium there is sacrifice of wealth and jiva (embodied soul)’s attachment is reduced. This qualifies the worshipper to benefit more from the sattvikta of puja ritual.
A copper coin is put in the kalash. The copper has more capacity to project sattvik frequencies. It helps in emanation of sattvik frequencies present in the water into the atmosphere.
Also a betel nut is kept in the kalash meant for puja ritual. Betelnut enhances sattva and raja components in the water of the kalash. This increases the capacity of the water to emit manifest principle of deity.
The betel nut contains particles related to absolute earth element which are useful in binding of sattva particles related to sattva component.
This then easily helps in retaining the sattvikta of water for along time. Five precious stones like pearl, diamond, emerald, blue sapphire, ruby and gold are also added to the water of kalash.
The five precious stones and gold have capacity to attract and emit the principles of five superior deities.This benefits the worshipper.But with changing times the use of five preious stones & copper is reduced and replaced by alloys which are spiritually of less benefit.
Courtesy: Spiritual Bharat