Nitya karma refers to the daily obligatory duties performed by the Hindus. Naimittika karmas on the other hand are the occasional rites that are performed with a reason (nimitta). Similarly, we have Kamya karmas which are done to obtain some specific goals. These acts are not obligatory.

Here is a relevant sloka from the Shiva Samhita, a Yoga treatise.

enter image description here

For example, one who has received initiation of the Gayatri through upanayana must perform Sandhya rites each day without fail. So, this is one of the nitya karma for him.

Now, let's take the example of a non-initiate. One who is neither invested with the sacred thread nor had any kind of mantra upadesam (Deeksha) from Guru.

Suppose, such a person daily worships Shiva or any other deity of his choice.

Question 1- Will this act be his nitya karma or naimittika karma or kamya karma?

This is important to know because naimittika & kamya karmas are said to be fruitless if done without wearing the ring (anguriya) whereas in nitya karmas anguriya is not needed (wearing it does not harm in nitya karmas too but its not compulsory).

Question 2- Except bathing what are all the nitya karmas for a non-initiate?

  • what do u mean by non-initiate and anguriya? do you mean non-brahmins and upaveetam (poonol) ? According to vaidika dharma, 3 varnas (and only the 3) - brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya - must wear sacred thread (this is a pre-requisite for gayatri mantra upadesam) and perform sandhyavandana ..but nowadays, only brahmins do.
    – ram
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:17
  • @ram I don't know what is poonal and no, i am not talking about upavita. During naimittika karmas its compusory to wear a ring (gold, or otherwise) on the right hand ring finger. In absence of metal rings, anguriya or ring made of Kusha is usually worn. And, just like we have the Vedic Samskara (Upanayana ) we also have the Tantric Deeksha Samskara or simply Deeksha or Guru Deeksha or Upadesam. A non initiate mean anyone who does not have either of them. Which Karmas are obligatory for him except bathing of course.
    – Rickross
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:47
  • poonol is same as upavita (sacred thread). Any person in Bharat would be in one of the 4 varnas. Unless they're complete atheist or chandalas or mlecchas. So the duties prescribed for the 4 varnas determines their nitya and naimittika karmas. Manu smriti and many of dharma shastras - bodhayana / apasthmba has duties of each. You can google these books. Btw, when worshipping lord at home, even during daily neivedyam (aradhana), the pavitra (kusha ring) or gold is required on ring finger.
    – ram
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:51
  • @ram In Nitya karmas ring can be avoided.
    – Rickross
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:56
  • No, it is necessary. For amavasya tarpana, a 3 kusha ring is worn. For daily bhagavad aradhan, a 2 kusha ring is worn. Both of these fall under nitya karma (at least for brahmins)
    – ram
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


The very thing Nitya karma is related to the specific branch or sects to which an individual belongs. If he does not belong to any sect (without initiation) the right thing for him is to get initiated soon.

Because every text to be followed for nitya karma is linked to a particular sect and is done after initiation only.

If one is not initiated he can continue to lead a righteous life by following injunctions of smritis and dharma shastras. However, vedas ask people to get initiated and start worship and continue until the death.

For example, verses of Vedas ask everyone irrespective of gender and caste to worship the agni.

“uthishtatha maaswapta agni michadhvam bharataaha” (YV)

meaning: “O people of Bharath! awake, don’t be asleep, yearn for Agni”.

Another place, vedas ask the followers to spread the message to others too.

यथेमां वाचं कल्याणीमावदानि जनेयः। ब्रह्म राजन्यायां शूद्राय, चार्याय च स्वाय चारणायच।। – यजुः अ. 26-2

Just as I am speaking these blessed words to people (without distinction), in the same way you also spread these words among all men and women – the Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas, Shudras and all others, whether they be our own people or aliens(foreigners).

Hence those desirous of nitya karma should find a proper path and get initiated and continue the nitya anushthana.

Even non initiates are engaged in some kind of regular worship but it cant be strictly called as nitya karma because the set of rituals are self decided and may not be in a specific sequence as described in the shastras.


The Vedantasara of Sadananda, which is one of the best books on Advaita Vedanta due to its clarity, organised structure and brevity, gives a definition of Nitya Karma. The text discusses who is the right person to follow Advaita Vedanta (Adhikari). In that context, it puts forward the following definition.

नित्यानि—अकरणे प्रत्यवायसाधनानि सन्ध्यावन्दनादीनि ॥९॥
9. Daily rites, such as Sandhyāvandanā etc., the non-performance of which causes harm, are called Nitya Karma.

Kamya Karma is defined as the following.

काम्यानि—स्वर्गादीष्टसाधनानि ज्योतिष्टोमादीनि ॥७॥
7. The sacrifices such as Jyotiṣṭoma etc., which enable their performers to get the desired fruits such as living in heaven etc., are known as Kāmya Karma.

Naimittika Karma is defined as

नैमित्तिकानि—पुत्रजन्माद्यनुबन्धीनि जातेष्ट्यादीनि ॥१०॥
10. Jāteṣṭi sacrifices (which are performed subsequent to the birth of a son) etc. are called the Naimittika Karma or rites to be observed on special occasions.

Now, you are asking about daily Siva Puja. This does not fall under any of the above-mentioned Karmas as you can see from the definitions. Daily Siva Puja or any kind of daily Puja is known as Nitya Puja. There are two types of Pujas. Nitya Puja and Naimittika Puja. Daily Pujas are Nitya Puja and puja performed on special occasions is known as Naimittika Puja. For example, if you perform Siva Puja on Mahasivaratri once a year that is Naimittika Puja. In general, Naimittika Pujas are more elaborate. In Nitya Pujas, many steps are omitted (for example, different nyasas), and many steps are performed briefly. Before performing Puja one should perform his Nitya Karma.


  1. Vedantasara of Sadananda translated by Swami Nikhilananda
  • 1
    Thanks for your answer
    – Rickross
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 9:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .