Monday 8 August 2022

Method To Give Life To A Deity in Shaiva Agama Tantra

In my previous article, I wrote about the method to invoke a deity as per Shaiva Agamas. Read it here

As Per Shaiva Agamas, invocation of a deity ( be it for a simple avahanam or an elaborate Prana Pratishtha ) involves three components:

(1) Asanam: Here, a seat is prepared for the cosmic consciousness to land as a deity. It is the reference point for the deity to manifest and sit

(2) Murti: This refers to the form which will sit on the asana. We provide the form which serves as a framework for the deity which we call

(3) Mulam: Mulam refers to the root. By using the Mula mantra and specific kriyas, we breathe life to the form invoked, thus bringing life to the deity.

In this article, we will be focusing on the 3rd component - mulam. 

In Shaiva Tantra, there is a prescribed manner followed by the Acharya to breathe life into the deity by the means of a mantra.

After forming and worshiping the asana ( seat ) of the deity, we establish the form of the deity. We do Nyasam ( the process of touching and energising a body to turn it divine ) for the deity ( in the form of a kalasha, linga, or idol ).

The Elaborate Process In A Nutshell

The Mula Mantra is the life of the deity. We visualise the Mula Mantra as being in the dvadashanta (2 inches above the crown centre) blazing hot equivalent to crores of suns. Then, we bring it down to the forehead slowly, like a kite to the forehead. On the forehead. we visualize the Mula mantra to be as cool as an equivalent to crores of moons. Then, we bring it further down and ultimately exhale it through the nostril into a flower. We then offer the flower onto the head of the body of the deity, whilst visualising the Mula mantra to be entering the head of the deity.

 Turning Yourself Into Shiva Before Breathing

Before a ritual, there are many elaborate procedures which the acharya has to perform. It includes various Nyasams and Bhuta Shuddhi. Here, the acharya brings himself beyond the concept purity and impurity and the cosmic tattvas ( principles). Importantly, he physically energises every part of his body into that of Lord Shiva. 

Lord Shiva's body is a mantra-maya sharira. It is a Vidya Deha ( body of knowledge ) made up of mantras ( vibrations ).

The acharya infuses the same mantras which make up Lord Shiva's body and brings himself to a state of complete oneness, of complete Advaita, and sits as Lord Shiva.

Only then does he use the Mula mantra to breathe life into the deity.

This is why a deity is dependent on the acharya who does the Prana Pratistha or avahana. A qualified Shivacharya has to observe a very rigid lifestyle without swaying away from his Shaiva anushthana.

Significance of The Described Visualization

The Dvadashanta is the 'absolute void', or the space of pure consciousness, the aspect of God beyond form. It is the state mentioned in the Nasadiya Sukta of Rig Veda as that which 'was' before creation happened. 

nāsadāsīn no sadāsīt tadānīṃ nāsīd rajo no vyomāparo yat

( Rig Veda 10.129 )

This verse speaks about the state of God before the initiation of the observable universe. It speaks about the state of absolute consciousness which was neither existing nor non-existing. It is beyond 'existence' and 'non-existence'.

The Purusha Sukta which comes in all branches of the 4 Vedas elaborates on how the absolute consciousness, as a cosmic being, expanded Himself to form the Universe.

Moon, Mind and Head

The mind is influenced by the moon. The Vedas affirm the truth that the mind is linked with the moon.

''candrama manaso jātaḥ'', so says Purusha Suktam ( a hymn found in all branches of the 4 Vedas ), which describes the creation of the Universe through the expansion of the cosmic being. As per this verse, the moon is born from the mind of the cosmic being. 

The moon influences the waves of the ocean. The mind, which has a wavy nature is also influenced by the moon. This is why people undergo various mental states according to the waxing and waning of the moon.

This is why the Mula mantra is brought down to the head with the expression of being as cool as a crore moon. 

Then we descend the Mula mantra and exhale it through the nostril into a flower which we offer to the deity. The prana ( life-force ) is associated with the breath. The Purusha Sukta again affirms in the verse 'prāṇād vāyurajāyata'. As per the Vedas, Vayu ( air element ) is born from the Prana of the cosmic person.

Your very being is a miniature of the cosmos. An acharya who has done the necessary Nyasa has turned his very being into Shiva - the cosmic being. Therefore, he manifests the Mula mantra, the very deity in a vibrational form, condensed from the void of dvadashanta, and then further condenses it into his mind to finally exhale it as a life breath, encapsule it within a flower which enters and brings the deity to life once offered.

The flower has a deep significance, as expounded by the Vedas, in Mantrapushpam of the Taittiriya Aranyakam of Yajur Veda: 

yo'pam puṣpam veda

puṣpavān prajavān paśumān bhavati

candrama vā apam puṣpam

puṣpavān prajavān paśuman bhavati

ya evam veda

yo'pām ayatanam veda

ayatanavan bhavati

He who understands the flowers of water, He becomes the possessor of flowers, progeny and cattle. Moon is the flower of the water, He who knows it to be so, He becomes the possessor of flowers, progeny and cattle. He who knows the source of water, Becomes established in his Self.

Water here represents consciousness. One who realises God / consciousness, becomes the lord to the mind ( moon ), his genetical makeup ( progeny ) and wealth. He becomes the master of his life rather than being a slave to these aspects.

This is how the magnanimity of the cosmos is condensed into consecration during a Prana Pratishtha.

You Are Shiva

The key principle in every Prana Pratishtha is to establish yourself as Shiva, as the cosmic being. You breathe the state of godhood which is within you, externally into a deity. Let us all cultivate the state of oneness and realise our true nature as Shiva - Shivoham!

Video: My Whatsapp Veda Class student Kum. Shravanthi and I, reciting the entire Purusha Sukta as per Yajur Veda.

Video: Smt. Kavita and I reciting Purusha Sukta, Yajur Veda, with meanings in attached


(1) Elaborate Detail on Asana Puja - Panchasana Concept in Shaivism

(2) Method of Invoking Any Deity as Per Shaiva Tantra







  1. Thank you for the well written article and videos! Helpful and excellent.

  2. The article is very good. I would like to know a shaiva agama procedure of daily homam. The whole homam may be completed in 30 minutes or so.