Bhakti (devotion) in Sanatan Dharma is an essential element. There are 9 stages of Bhakti. Bhakti is a way to practice dualism to eventually realize non-dualism. Devotion to a God, to a deity, to an idol, to a picture is a way to concentrate. That’s dualism – “I” am concentrating on “you”. I believe in you, therefore I am. But that is a stage. One can’t get to that stage without practicing. It takes dedicated practice. This dedicated practice, these stages are the 9 stages of Bhakti.
But even before you start, it is important to cleanse the organs and the senses with which you will practice. Just like utensils must be clean before making the food, tools of our body must be clean before practicing Bhakti. What are these tools – our fingers that perform different rituals, our senses of touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste). That procedure of cleansing is called Nyas. According to Oxford Sanskrit-English dictionary, it means “to place, to set on or in, to use, to touch.” "It also connotes mental consecration or allocation of various bodily parts to “guardian spirits.”"
Way to perform Nyas is to touch each organ, explicitly think of how it is useful to performing duties and remind us that it must be pure to perform those duties in a proper way – the way they were intended to be. Nyas are embedded at the beginning of actual prayers. It is a prescribed procedure that one performs before starting to worship. For example, at the beginning of Bhagvad Gita, Nyas associates each organ with another mantra (verse) that is part of Chapter 2 in Gita. In Siddhi Lakshmi Stotra, Nyas at the beginning associates with different names of the Goddess.
Here are the organs along with the reasons why they must be pure –
Karanyas (Nyas of Kar (hand)...of each finger)
- Individual Fingers: used for activities ranging from washing the idols, to performing yagna, to picking up a book to read
Anganyas (Nyas of Ang (body parts))
- Mouth: used for eating, drinking, speech; goal is to eat, drink and speak good and positive things
- Nose: used for smelling – goal is to smell and inhale only that which is good for body and exhale negativity
- Eyes: used for seeing or reading – goal is to watch and read only those things that are good for mind
- Shoulders: represent strength and ability – goal is to use strength for the wellbeing of self and others through seva
- Knees: represent willpower to walk on the path of good behavior
- Entire body: to stay healthy and in good behavior
- When all of these organs come together to perform good duties for the wellbeing of oneself and of the community, that is the true form of Sameedh.
- Bashyam S, Srinivasan T M, Nagendra HR. Nyasa – A scientific study. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Jan 24];47:15-21. Available from: https://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2015/47/1/15/195456
- Teachings at Gayatri Chetna Center
- Preface of several Hindu scriptures