Most Hindus are not aware of the difference between Puja and Upasana. In this post, we will try to understand the differences between Puja and Upasana. The distortion of the meaning of Upasana and Puja has created much confusion among the Hindu masses.
Popular Practice (Fiction)
Puja is the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. An essential part of puja for many Hindus is making offerings, which show reverence through the act of self-sacrifice. The offerings can take many different forms, including flowers, food, and water.
In the case of a living devata, Puja means revering and giving things for their benefit e.g. father and mother are living devatas. So they should be taken care of well, we should respect them, etc. That will be the puja for them. But in the case of non-living devata, puja means taking the maximum benefit and keeping them in their intact and pure form as much as you can e.g. Bhumi (Earth) is a non-living devata, so we should take care of nature around us and should not pollute it.
If you are like most of the people who are confused between God and Devata, please read our post on the Concept of God in Hinduism where we differentiate between the two.
Meaning of Puja (Pooja) in Scriptures
जिन कुल और घरों में अपूजित अर्थात् सत्कार को न प्राप्त होकर स्त्रीलोग जिन गृहस्थों को शाप देती हैं वे कुल तथा गृहस्थ जैसे विष देकर बहुतों को एक बार नाश कर देवें वैसे चारों ओर से नष्ट – भ्रष्ट हो जाते हैं ।
इस कारण ऐश्वर्य की इच्छा करने वाले पुरूषों को योग्य है कि इन स्त्रियों को सत्कार के अवसरों और उत्सवों में भूषण, वस्त्र, खान – पान आदि से सदा पूजा अर्थात् सत्कारयुक्त प्रसन्न रखें ।
As evident from the above given translations Pooja or Puja means Satkar (सत्कार) i.e. giving respect to someone. So wherever it is written in Hindu scriptures, it means giving respect to someone and fulfilling their requirements.
Now if you know the true nature of God as a concept as well as a reality, then giving respect and fulfilling God’s requirements is meaningless because God does not have any requirements.
How puja is conducted?
After understanding the meaning of Pooja, now we can discuss how it is conducted. Pooja is to fulfill the requirements of the one. In Indian civilization, it is usually said
i.e. Atithi is Deva. I am sure most of the people reading this have heard this saying. But most of them will translate it to Visitor is like a God. But this is not correct. Atithi in Sanskrit doesn’t mean visitor instead it means a Sannyasi (a Saynnyasi is the one who doesn’t live in one place, travels everywhere, shares their experiences with others, and spreads the knowledge of Vedas)
Popular Practice (Fiction)
Upasana is a Sanskrit word that means “worship, devotion.” It is often used to refer to a type of Hindu devotional meditation that involves focusing on a particular deity or aspect of the divine. The goal of Upasana is to develop a deep, personal relationship with the deity and to experience the divine presence in one’s own life.
Upasana means sitting closer to the supreme consciousness so that we can be more like the supreme consciousness.
Yagya: Vedic ritualism and sacrificial ceremonies
Yagya is not a Pooja or Upasana in itself. It is a completely different ritual that is meant for purifying the environment (Devas) around us. Please read the post that we have written about the difference between Devas and the Concept of God in Hinduism if you are not aware of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between puja and Upasana?
Puja is ritualistic worship of a deity, while Upasana is a devotional practice directed towards self-realization.
What are the benefits of each?
Puja and Upasana offer many benefits to the devotee. They help to purify the mind and body and to cultivate positive qualities such as patience, compassion, and wisdom. Additionally, puja and Upasana can help to connect the devotee with the divine and to create a sense of peace and well-being.
Which is more effective in achieving salvation?
Puja can not and does not help in achieving salvation.