If nirguna brahman is just consciousness, form less etc then why do we need to worship nirguna brahman?

Note: This post is just to better understand nirguna brahman but nothing else.

Till now I believed that if we worship lord shiva or vishnu then they will give boons to us, but if Lord shiva or vishnu are just saguna brahmans and nirguna brahman is on top which is of just consciousness, form less etc then how nirguna brahman is going to give boons to devotees. I am just understanding what is nigruna brahman and what we do with nirguna brahman. How nigruna brahman is going to help us from bad people?

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    Where it is stated that we need to worship nirguna brahman? If it's nirguna means we can't worship.
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 5:02
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    you cannot worship Nirguna Brahman. you can only worship Saguna Brahman. The two terms refer to the same Reality. There is only 1 Brahman - one Reality. Saguna Brahman 'IS' Nirguna Brahman 'seen' or perceived through the lens of maya; from the point of view of those in Maya, Brahman is Saguna Brahman. It depends upon the perceiver. In Nirguna Brahman, the only perceiver is Nirguna Brahman; in Maya, you and I are perceivers and we perceive Brahman as Saguna, with attributes, as we cannot conceive of Brahman without attributes. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:13
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    See Sankara's commentary to verse 1.1.11 in Brahma Sutras here - wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras/d/doc62753.html Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:13
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    1) Nirguna Brahman can't be worship in regular way. Proper way to worship nirguna is keep attentive to Atman in you, and Brahman in everything, which means to keep trying to perceive Atma and God (which are same) 2) If you work for your father, at work he is your boss, but at home he is simply your father. Same Nirguna Brahma is Saguna Brahman, and it is not 2 diferents Gods. When you pay attention to God and His qualities, forms, aspects, definitions..., that "definable God" we call it saguna, but that part of same God which is beyond our understanding and definition, we call it nirguna
    – Indra
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 13:30

3 Answers 3


Why We Need To Worship Nirguna Brahman?

Saguna Brahma and the Nirguna Brahman are actually two levels of worship for two kinds of people. Simply terms, the saguNa worship means worshipping a divine form with Guna's or attributes like name, shape, the special powers .And worshiping Nirguna brahman is meditating on our self or atman and knowing that Atman is brahman i.e. remaining in Non-Dual state.

In a work attributed to Adi-Shankaracharya called Nirguna Manasa Puja he is talking about Nirguna Brahma Upasana. We find the answer there .According to shankara meditating on Atman (Nirguna) Brahman is real Bhajan ,kirtan ,Shravan Samadhi etc.

Here he is saying that knowing that our self or Atman is Brahman is the real worship of Brahman. And the person should know that its him (Atma) is the one whch is to be worshiped /meditated

विश्ववन्द्योऽहमेवास्मि नास्तिवन्द्यो मदन्यतः।
इत्यालोचनमेवात्र स्वात्मलिङ्गस्य वन्दनम्॥19॥

vishvavandyo.ahamevAsmi nAstivandyo madanyataH
ityAlochanamevAtra swAtmali~ngasya vandanam..

I am the one who has to be revered in the universe, and none else. Such an idea is the real salutation for the Atman.

In next shloka its said that that being meditating on Atman which is beyond any attributes is real Nama-Sankirtana ,Bhajana etc.

आत्मनः सत्क्रिया प्रोक्ता कर्तव्याभावभावना ।
नामरूपव्यतीतात्मचिन्तनं नामकीर्तनम् ॥20||

AtmanaH satkriyA proktA kartavyAbhAvabhAvanA.
nAmarUpavyatItAtmachintanaM nAmakIrtanam..
Staying in the idea of non-existence of duty is the real honour, and meditating on the Atman which is beyond name and form is the real singing of names.

श्रवणम् तस्य देवस्य श्रोतव्याभावचिन्तनम्।
मननं त्वात्मलिङ्गस्य मन्तव्याभावचिन्तनम् ॥21||

shravaNam tasya devasya shrotavyAbhAvachintanam.
mananaM twAtmali~ngasya mantavyAbhAvachintanam..

Realization that there is nothing else to be known (apart from the Atman) is the true shravaNam (understanding of the text), and realization that there is nothing else to be contemplated upon is mananam (contemplation) in the true sense.

ध्यातव्याभावविज्ञानं निदिध्यासनमात्मनः ।
समस्तभ्रान्तिविक्षेपराहित्येनात्मनिष्ठता ॥22||
समाधिरात्मनो नाम नान्यच्चित्तस्य विभ्रमः ।
तत्रैव ब्रह्मणि सदा चित्तविश्रान्तिरिष्यते ॥23||

dhyAtavyAbhAvavij~nAnaM nididhyAsanamAtmanaH.
samAdhirAtmano nAma nAnyachchittasya vibhramaH.
tatraiva brahmaNi sadA chittavishrAntiriShyate..

The awareness that there is nothing else to be contemplated upon is the true assimilation of knowledge, and staying in one self by total absence of delusion and divergence is Samadhi. It is a state of constant absorption of mind in the brahman (the first and second sloka-s are to be read together).

And why we need to worship Nirguna Brahman is answered in this verse. Its said that meditating on Atman (self as Nirguna Brahman ) as described in vedanta the results of good or bad effects of karmas will not bind a person and his avidya (ignorance ) will disappear and thus his miseries ,and he will attain the bliss of Moksha.

एवम् वेदान्तकल्पोक्तस्वात्मलिङ्गप्रपूजनम्।
कुर्वन्नामरणं वाऽपि क्षणं वा सुसमाहितः॥24||
सर्वदुर्वासनाजालं पदपांसुमिव त्यजेत् ।
विधूयाज्ञानदुःखौघं मोक्षानन्दं समश्नुते ॥25||

evam vedAntakalpoktaswAtmali~ngaprapUjanam.
kurvannAmaraNaM vA.api kShaNaM vA susamAhitaH..
sarvadurvAsanAjAlaM padapAMsumiva tyajet.
vidhUyAj~nAnaduHkhaughaM mokShAnandaM samashnute..

In this manner, a person with equanimity, by worshiping the Self as visualized in the vedAnta shAstra, either for a moment or till his death, will shake off the accumulated results of good and bad deeds like the dust on the feet, and likewise will throw off the multitude of miseries caused by ignorance and thus attain the Bliss of Self-realization.

So according to Shankara Advaita knowing Self is Brahman and meditating on Nirguna Brahman is real form of worship ,bhakti etc. one can attain Moksha through this kind of meditation. All his ignorance will disappear and he will experience pure bliss. And this is why we need to worship Nirguna Brahman.

We can read full NirguNa-MAnasa-PUjA Of Sri Adi Shankaracharya here with english translation.

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    Nicely outlined. Btw, Gita suggests that worship of Nirguna is difficult/painful due to we being Saguna.
    – iammilind
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 8:00
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    @iammilind Yes ,Thanks. And yes , i know that quote from Shrimad Bhagvad Gita. And i do agree with that also. But the above text and other similar works are designed for worshipers who are at intermediate level. Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 8:04
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    @iammilind So one should start from Sauna worship only.In Bhagavatam Shree Krishna is also telling us about both forms of worship. Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 8:06

It is virtually impossible to worship Nirguna Brahman because we ourselves are all Saguna. So, we can not really perceive anything which is without attributes, impersonal, formless etc.

During worship, we connect with the deities, but if we are Saguna and the deity which is being worshipped is Nirguna, no such connections can be made. So, that's why it is not possible.

See the following passage from Devi Bhagavatam 3.7 (Book 3, Chapter 7):

  1. O Child! This whole universe, moving and non-moving, comes out of Ahamkâra (egoism). How can one ascertain the above difference even if he tries for one hundred kalpas, unless one frees oneself from Ahamkâra. 18. The Jîvas are Saguna (with qualities), how can the Sagunas see the Nirguna One with their physical eyes? Therefore O Intelligent one! try to see the Saguna (Brahmâ) only within your heart (until you free yourself from the material qualities and thus be fit to realise the Nirguna Brahmâ).

And, that is why for the benefit of the devotees the Nriguna has been assigned a Saguna form in the scriptures as said by Lord Shiva in the following verse:

ChinmayasyAprameyasya nirgunasyA sharirinah |
SAdhakAnAm hithArthAya brahmano rupakalpanA ||

For the benefit of the spiritual aspirants, the conscious (chinmaya), immeasurable (aprameya), impersonal (nirguna) and bodiless (ashariri) Brahman has been assigned a form.

KulArnava Tantram 6.73

Verses having the same meaning are found in various other scriptures as well.

For example, the Garura PurAna says if God is without a definite form, he can not be the subject of contemplation/meditation:

amurtashchet sthiro na syAt tato murti vichintayet ||

Meditating on the formless is not possible. [Thus always] imagine a form and meditate upon it.

Similarly, the Brihad NAradiya PurAna says:

bhaktAnAm mokshadAnAya bhavoto murtikalpanA ||

For the sake of providing the devotees liberation, the specific idols and forms are imagined.

Similarly, in a YAmala Tantram's verse quoted in ShAktAnada Tarangini, Lord Shiva states that among Sukshma DhyAnam (meditating on the subtle or the formless) and Sthula DhyAnam (meditating on a form), only the later is beneficial and the other is impossible to achieve.

Sukshma dhyAnam maheshAni kadAchinna hi jAyate |
Sthula dhyAnam maheshAni kritvA mokshamvApnuyAt ||

Sukshma DhynAm, O Consort of Mahesha, is never successful. By performing Sthula DhyAnam, however, one can achieve liberation.


The standard path for nirguna Brahman is via negativa or neti neti. Nirguna Brahman cannot be worshipped since worship is a mental activity and Nirguna Brahman is beyond the mind.

A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, has God forms or has He none?"

MASTER : "No one can say with finality that God is only 'this' and nothing else. He is formless, and again He has forms. For the bhakta He assumes forms. But He is formless for the jnani, that is, for him who looks on the world as a mere dream. The bhakta feels that he is one entity and the world another. Therefore God, reveals Himself to him as a Person. But the jnani — the Vedantist, for instance — always reasons, applying the process of 'Not this, not this'. Through this discrimination he realizes, by his inner perception, that the ego and the universe are both illusory, like a dream. Then the jnani realizes Brahman in his own consciousness. He cannot describe what Brahman is.

"Do you know what I mean? Think of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge- Bliss Absolute, as a shoreless ocean. Through the cooling influence, as it were, of the bhakta's love, the water has frozen at places into blocks of ice. In other words, God now and then assumes various forms for His lovers and reveals Himself to them as a Person. But with the rising of the sun of Knowledge, the blocks of ice melt. Then one doesn't feel any more that God is a Person, nor does one see God's forms. What He is cannot be described. Who will describe Him? He who would do so disappears. He cannot find his 'I' any more.

"If one analyses oneself, one doesn't find any such thing as 'I'. Take an onion, for instance. First of all you peel off the red outer skin; then you find thick white skins. Peel these off one after the other, and you won't find anything inside.

"In that state a man no longer finds the existence of his ego. And who is there left to seek it? Who can describe how he feels in that state — in his own Pure Consciousness — about the real nature of Brahman? Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean. No sooner was it in the water than it melted. Now who was to tell the depth?

"There is a sign of Perfect Knowledge. Man becomes silent when It is attained. Then the 'I', which may be likened to the salt doll, melts in the Ocean of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and becomes one with It. Not the slightest trace of distinction is left.

"As long as his self-analysis is not complete, man argues with much ado. But he becomes silent when he completes it. When the empty pitcher has been filled with water, when the water inside the pitcher becomes one with the water of the lake outside, no more sound is heard. Sound comes from the pitcher as long as the pitcher is not filled with water.

"People used to say in olden days that no boat returns after having once entered the black waters' of the ocean.

"All trouble and botheration come to an end when the 'I' dies. You may indulge in thousands of reasonings, but still the 'I' doesn't disappear. For people like you and me, it is good to have the feeling, 'I am a lover of God.'

"The Saguna Brahman is meant for the bhaktas. In other words, a bhakta believes that God has attributes and reveals Himself to men as a Person, assuming forms. It is He who listens to our prayers. The prayers that you utter are directed to Him alone. You are bhaktas, not jnanis or Vedantists. It doesn't matter whether you accept God with form or not. It is enough to feel that God is a Person who listens to our prayers, who creates, preserves, and destroys the universe, and who is endowed with infinite power.

"It is easier to attain God by following the path of devotion."

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Chapter 6, The Master with the Brahmo Devotees. October 28, 1882

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    Personally I think its the best answer.
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 13:28

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