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I know the panchopchar(पञ्चोपचार​) puja which is offering gandh, pushp, dhoop, deep and naivadya(गंध, पुष्प, धूप, दीप, नैवेद्य​) to God.

I have heard many times about ashtopachar(अष्टोपचार) and shodashopachar(षोडशोपचार) pujan. But don't know how to do it.

Could somebody explain

  • What is ashtopachar(अष्टोपचार) pujan? And how to do it.
  • What is shodashopachar(षोडशोपचार) pujan? And how to do it?
  • How many types of puja are there?
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  • 1
    There is no such thing as ashotapachara.
    – user1195
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 10:38
  • @moonstar2001 i know how to do panchopchar but i don't have any info on shodopchar pujan. and Ashtopchar pujan is mentioned in Shir Sai Sat Charitra. in chapter no 40. Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 10:41
  • 1
    small correction - i think it is shodashopachar (16), not shodopachar
    – ram
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 10:44
  • You can check my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/18408/4732
    – Rickross
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 10:50
  • @SwiftPushkar But that answer does not even talk about upacharas .
    – Rickross
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 11:07

2 Answers 2

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Shodashopachar (षोडशोपचार) is described in BrahmaVaivarta Purana (ब्रह्मवैवर्त पुराण) 4.8.10. i.e

Khanda - 4 (Sri Krishna Janma Khanda)
Adhyaya - 8 (Sri Janmastami-vrata-pujopavasa-nirupana Vows Worship and Fasting on Sri Janmastami)
Sloka 10 onwards.

You can go through Sanskrit text with appropriate translation.

Here is sample of Sankshipt Brahma Vaivarta Purana Hindi interpretation by Gitapress:

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I'm here quoting text from here:

Text 10

puja-dravyani caruni sopacarani sodasa phalany astau ca mistani dravyany eva hi narada

puja-dravyani - things for worship; caruni - beautiful; sopacarani - with worship; sodasa - sixteen; phalany - fruits; astau - eight; ca - and; mistani - sweet; dravyany - things; eva - indeed; hi - indeed; narada - O narada.

place there O Narada sixteen articles for worshiping the Lord eight fruits and candies .

Text 11

jati-phalam ca kakkolam dadimbam sriphalam tatha narikelam ca jambiram kusmandam ca manoharam jatiphalam - jatiphala; ca - and; kakkolam - kakkola; dadimbam - pomegranate; sriphalam - Sriphala; tatha - so; narikelam - coconut; ca

  • and; jambiram - jambira; kusmandam - kusmanda; ca - and; manoharam - beautiful.

the eight fruits and candies being jatiphala kakkola pomegranate sriphala coconut jambira kusmanda and manohara.

Texts 12 and 13

asanam vasanam padyam madhuparkam tathaiva ca arghyam acamaniyam ca snaniyam sayanam tatha gandha-puspam ca naivedyam tambulam anulepanam dhupa-dipau bhusanam cai- vopcarani sodasa

asanam - a seat; vasanam - garments; padyam - padya; madhuparkam - madhuparka; tatha - so; eva - indeed; ca - and; arghyam - arghya; acamaniyam - acamana water; ca - and; snaniyam - water for bathing; sayanam - a bed; tatha - so; gandha-puspam - fragrances and flowers; ca - and; naivedyam - offering of food; tambulam - betelnust; anulepanam - ointments; dhupa - incense; dipau - lamps; bhusanam - oprnaments; ca - and; upcarani - articles; sodasa - sixteen.

and the sixteen articles for worship being a sitting place garments padya madhuparka arghya water for acamana water for bathing a bed fragrances flowers food-offerings betelnuts ointments incense lamps and ornaments .

Next mantras provides the method for worshiping, quoting only English translation for further text:

wash his feet put on clean clothes perform acamana say the word svasti" sit on the seat .

place a pot there worship the five deities invite Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead to appear there .

invite Vasudeva Devaki Yasoda, Nanda Rohini Balarama Goddess Sasthi Goddess Vasundhara .

Rohini Brahma Asthami the Sthana-devata Asvatthama Bali Hanuman Vibhisana .

Krpacarya Parasurama Vyasadeva and Markandeya and then meditate on Lord Krsna.

Then a wise person should place a flower to his head and meditate on the description of the Lord spoken in the Sama Veda O Narada please listen and I will tell you that description which Lord Brahma‘ told the Kumaras in ancient times.

I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is an infant boy who is splendid as a dark monsoon cloud who is very handsome whose lotus face is smiling whom Brahma Siva Sesa and Yama glorified for hou many days? whom the kings of sages cannot approach in their meditations whom the munis siddhas and sons of Manu cannot attain whom the kings of the yogis cannot imagine in their thoughts who is the greatest who is without peer who is all-seeing witness.

The follower of this vou should thus meditate on the Lord Then reciting mantras he should offer the flower and all the other articles to the Lord Please hear these mantras.

Here are the mantras O Lord Krsna please accept this all- beautiful jewel throne wonderfully decorated with graceful and colorful pictures and designs.

  • O Lord Krsna please accept these wonderful and colorful garments pure as fire and made by Visvakarma‘ from threads of pure gold
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this golden pot filled with water to wash Your feet Please accept this pure padya water and this beautiful flower.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept these gold pots of honey ghee yogurt milk and sugar.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this durva‘ grass whole rice white flower clear water sandal aguru and musk.
  • O Supreme Lord please accept this clear pure sweet scented acamana water.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this scented Visnu-oil amalaki paste and bath water.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this beautiful bed made of the best of jewels and covered with exquisite cloth.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this scented paste made of musk the powdered tree-roots.
  • O Supreme Lord please accept this fragrant flower so dear to all the demigods and grown from a blossoming tree.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this offering of ripe fruits sugar-candy svastika‘ candy and other candies.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this laddu modaka ghee milk molasses honey fresh yogurt and buttermilk.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept these betelnuts mixed with camphor and other things which I offer to You with devotion.
  • O Supreme Lord please accept this beautiful avira powder made with sandal aguru musk and kunkuma.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this incense made by cooking the nectars of many trees incense very dear to all the demigods.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this splendid and auspicious lamp that destroys the terrible blinding darkness.
  • O Lord Krsna please accept this pure drinking-water scented with camphor and other fragrances water that is the life of all living entities.
  • O Lord Krsna as an ornament for Your transcendental body please accept this garland of many flowers on a fine thread
  • O Supreme Lord please accept these fruits which are the seeds of trees and which make one's dynasty prosper.

In this way at that place one should offer many appropriate things to Lord Krsna.

In brief, Shodash Upachara includes:

  1. Asan
  2. Vasan
  3. Padya
  4. Madhuparka (Panchamrit)
  5. Arghya
  6. Aachmaniya
  7. Snaniya
  8. Shayya
  9. Pushpa
  10. Gandha
  11. Naivaidya
  12. Tambool
  13. Anulepan
  14. Dhoop Dip
  15. Jalapan
  16. Aabhusan
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All Pujas are Agamic practices. Vaishnavas follow Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa Agamas for Puja. Saivas follow Saivaagamas. Shaktas follow Shakta Tantras for Puja. Here I am quoting from Shakta literature Mahanirvana Tantra. This is one of the 64 principal Shakta Tantras according to the list given in Sarvollasa Tantra, which is a famous Tantric Nivandha from Bengal.

Different Upacharas are described in Chapter 13 of Mahanirvana Tantra. There is no such thing as Ashtopochara. There are only three types or combinations of Upacharas: Shodoshapochara, Dashopochara and Panchopochara.

A seat, welcome, water to wash the feet, offerings, water for rinsing the mouth, Madhuparka, water for sipping, bathing water, clothes and jewels, scents and flowers, lights and incense-sticks, edibles and words of praise, are the sixteen offerings requisite in the worship of the Devas (Mahanirvana Tantra 13.203-204).

Padya, Arghya, Achamanya, Madhuparka, Punarachamanya, Gandha, Pushpa, Dhupa, Dipa, Naivedya – these are known as Dashopachara (ten requisite offerings) (Mahanirvana Tantra 13.205).

Gandha, Pushpa, Dhupa, Dipa, and Naivedya, are spoken of as the Panchopachara (five offerings) in the worship of a Deva (Mahanirvana Tantra 13.206).

Mantras and processes of offering each Upachara

Now, the detailed procedure of Puja is described in Chapters 5 and 6 of Mahanirvana Tantra. However, the detailed procedure of offering Upacharas along with the respective Mantras is mentioned in Chapter 13. Here I am quoting from Chapter 13. [Sixteen Mantras are added under sixteen headings. The very next verse after the heading is the Mantra. If other verses are present under the same heading that describes the procedure for the next Upachara.]

The articles should be sprinkled with water taken from the offering with the Weapon Mantra, and be worshipped with scents and flowers, the names of separate articles being mentioned. (207)

Mentally repeating the Mantra that is about to be said, as also the Mula Mantra, and the name of the Deva in the dative case, the words of gift should be repeated (208).

1. Mantra for Asana (Seat)

(O Deva!) Thou who residest within all beings! who art the innermost of all beings! I am offering this seat for Thee to sit. I bow to Thee again and again (212).

O Deveshi! after giving the excellent asana in this way, the giver of the asana sbould with folded arms bid him welcome as follows (213):

2. Mantra for Swagata (Welcome)

(O Deva!) Thou art He whom even the Devas seek for the accomplishment of their objects, yet for me Thy auspicious visit has easily been obtained. I bow to Thee, O Supreme Lord! (214).

My life’s aim is accomplished to-day; all my efforts are crowned with success; I have obtained the fruits of my tapas – all this by Thy auspicious coming (215).

Ambika! the Deva should thus be invited, prayed to, and questioned as to His auspicious coming, and then, taking padya, the following Mantra should be repeated (216):

3. Mantra for Padya (Water to Wash the feet)

By the mere touch of the washings of Thy feet the three worlds are purified; I am offering Thee padya for washing Thy lotus feet (217).

4. Mantra for Arghya (Offerings)

He by whose grace is attained all manner of supreme bliss, to Him who is the Soul of all beings I offer this Anandarghya (218).

Then pure water which has been scented with nutmeg, cloves, and kakkola, should be poured out, and taken and offered with the following (219):

5. Mantra for Achmaniya (Water for rinsing the mouth)

(O Lord!) By the mere touch of that which Thou hast touched the whole of this impure world is purified; for washing that lotus mouth I offer thee this achamaniya (220).

Then, taking madhuparka, offer it with devotion and with the following (221):

6. Mantra for Madhuparka

For the destruction of the three afflictions, for the attainment of uninterrupted bliss, I give Thee to-day, O Parameshvara! this madhuparka; be Thou propitious (222).

7. Mantra for Punarachmaniya (Water for sipping)

By the mere touch of anything which has touched Thy mouth things impure become pure: this punarachama-niyam is for the lotus mouth of Thine (223).

Taking water for the bath, and pouring it and consecrating it as before, it should be placed before the Deva, and the following Mantra should be repeated (224):

8. Mantra for Snaniya (Bath)

To Thee whose splendour envelops the world, from whom the world was born, who is the support of the world, do I offer this water for Thy bath (225).

When offering bathing water, clothes, and edibles, achamaniya should be given as each is offered, and, after offering other articles, water should be given only once (226).

Bringing the cloth consecrated as aforementioned, holding it up with both hands, the wise man should repeat the following (227):

9. Mantra for Vastra (Cloth)

Without any raiments as Thou art, Thou hast kept Thy splendour or glory concealed by Thy maya. To Thee I offer these two pieces of cloth. I bow to Thee (228).

Taking different kinds of ornaments made of gold and silver and other materials, and sprinkling and consecrating them, he should offer them to the Deva, uttering the following (229):

10. Mantra for Bhushana (Ornaments)

To Thee who art the ornament of the Universe, who art the one cause of the beauty of the universe, I offer these jewels for the adornment of Thy illusion-image (230).

11. Mantra for Gandha (Scent)

To Thee who by the subtle element of smell hast created the earth which possesses all scents, to Thee, the Supreme Soul, I offer this excellent scent (231).

12. Mantra for Pushpa (Flowers)

By me have been dedicated with devotion beautiful flowers, and charming and sweet scents prepared by Devas: do Thou accept this fiower (232).

13. Mantra for Dhupa (incense-stick)

This incense-stick is the sap of the trees; it is Divine, and possesses a delicious scent, and is charming, and is fit to be inhaled by all beings. I give it to Thee to smell (233).

14. Mantra for Deepa (light)

Do Thou accept this light which illumines and has a strong flame, which removes all darkness, and which is brightness itself, and makes bright that which is around it (234).

15. Mantra for Naivedya (Edibles)

This offering of food is of delicious taste, and consists of various kinds of edibles. I offer it to Thee in a devout spirit; do Thou partake of it (235).

16. Mantra for Namaskara (Salutation)

O Deva! this clear drinking-water, perfumed with camphor and other scents which satisfies all, I offer to Thee – Salutation to Thee (236).

The worshipper should then offer pan made with camphor, catechu, cloves, cardamums, and, after offering achamaniya, bow to Him (237).

If the offerings are presented along with the vessels in which they are contained, then the names and description of the offerings may jointly be repeated when making the present, or the names (or description) of the vessels may separately be said and the same given (238).


Reference-

  1. Mahanirvana Tantra translated by Arthur Avalon

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