Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nish Dhruba (The Role of a Hindu Priest And Why I Am One)

My name is Nish Dhruba and I am a Hindu priest, better known as a pujaris or a Brahmin priest. I was originally born in Delhi, India and before I was twelve years old my family relocated to Kanpur to care for an unfortunate family member. My father was a purjaris, and his father before him also, our family is part of the Brahmin caste and members of this caste are typically expected to become priest, philosophers, or specialist in matters of spirituality. My family has kept genealogy records for over 1400 years and most of the men have been priest.

As a Brahman priest I have undergone extensive study and training. I am a fluent expert in Sanskrit text and I’ve studied the ancient scriptures known as the Vedas since I was a child. The Vedic writings are the foundation which all Hindus need to stand on. In these writing we find the proper ways to worship, perform rituals, and achieve higher spiritual levels.  Our extensive studying allows us to act as counselors during our religious practices.
My duties as a priest (pujaris) consist of assisting devoted worshipers in puja (worship), hence the title pujaris. By assisting I lead worshipers in proper recitation of prayer and hymns, conduct intense ritual ceremonies. During some worship ceremonies the god or gods are represented by an object and made tangible through a devotional ceremony that employs all the physical senses, this allows us to be in the physical presence of the gods and offers worshipers visual contact of them for a small period of time. This practice is usually reserved for festivals and holy days and many devotees take part in the ritual.  Another of my primary responsibilities is tending to the Chieft Murti, which is a symbolic image of our god, located in our madir, or temple.

I also specialize in a special branch known as the Brahmin pandits. As a pandit I also conduct fire ceremonies based on ancient Vedic traditions. Fire ceremonies are sacred rituals used to offer sacrifices to the gods. During these ceremonies I will leads fellow Hindu’s in burning sacrifices such as food, grains, fragrances, herbs, and ghee (clarified butter) to the gods along with ceremonial chanting. These sacrifices are offered as a celebration to some gods but also with the hopes that a particular god’s may grand the worshiper with good health or fortune. Pandits also assist in death ceremonies since the bodies of Hindu’s are cremated shortly after death.
Now a personal testimony as to why I became a Hindu priest. When I was younger I never had much of a desire to follow my father into the life of a priest, although I was born into a Brahmin family I did not necessarily have to become a priest. As a Brahmin I am fortunate to be born into a family that is considerably wealthy and accepting if I had chosen another path, as long as it was relative to our status. When I was growing up before we moved to Kanpur I wanted to be a learn business that deal in the trade of fine cloth and linen from all over India but when we moved to help the my father’s uncle Raaj. He had a terrible accident while climbing a steep mountain while on a pilgrimage to a lingam to worship Siva (the supreme deity as he had worshiped Him). In this accident my Raaj had broken both his legs, and due to the injuries were both amputated.

For the next ten years until Raaj’s had passed we lived with him in Kanpur and cared for him. During this time I had gotten to know uncle Raaj and came to understand my role as a priest. From his pilgrimage story I learned about the importance of leading a good life and how karma works, I seen in his life how one should strive to achieve moksha (the release from karma) and I witnessed how his live reflect the lessons I’ve learned from my father and the Vedas. By helping to care for him I learned how one life can impact another and by helping him I am living a good life moving closer to moksha. So during my time with Raaj I realized why I was born a Brahmin and by following the path set for me I would not only reach higher spirituality personally but I could also help other move to higher levels creating a cycle of goodness that honored the gods and benefited humanity.

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