Prana Pratishtha

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Prana pratistha refers to the rite or ceremony by which a murti (image of a god) is consecrated in a Hindu temple, wherein hymns and mantra are recited to invite the deity to be resident guest, and the idol's eye is opened for the first time.[1] This ritual is practiced in the temples of Hinduism and Jainism. The ritual is considered by these Indian religions to have infused life into the temple, and brought numinous presence of divinity and spirituality to the temple.[1][2]

According to Gavin Flood, "A ritual of consecration in which the consciousness or power of the deity is brought into the image awakens the icon in a temple."[3] The ceremony, states Heather Elgood, marks the recognition of the image of god to represent "a particle of the divine whole, the divine perceived not in man's image as a separate entity but as a formless, indescribable omnipresent whole", with the divine presence a reminder of its transcendence and to be beheld in one's inner thoughts during darśana in the temple.[1]

In Hinduism[edit]

The Sanskrit word pratiṣṭhā, which in general usage means "resting" or "position", used in connection with a murti is translated by Apte as "the consecration of an idol or image".[4] The corresponding adjective pratiṣṭha means "installed" or "consecrated".[5] Prana means "life force, breath". The phrase Prana Pratishtha is a ritual that means, state Bhame and Krusche, "bringing life to the temple".[2] It is also referred to as Murti Sthapana (image placement inside the temple), or the composite word Pranapratishtha. Traditionally, this was the step when the eye of the murti was sculpted open,[2] inside the garbhagriya (Purusha space of the temple) of a Hindu temple.

The ritual typically involves a Puja, chanting of Sanskrit mantras as the deity is moved from outside into the center place, inviting the deity as resident guest of the temple, bathing and cleansing the deity whose feet may be washed just like a revered guest arriving after a long journey, dressing and seating in a place of comfort, placing the image's face towards east (marking sunrise), followed by Nyasa with hymns (act of touching different parts of the deity murti signifying the presence of various gods as sensory organs – Indra as hand, Brahma as heart, Surya as eyes, and so on), spraying of scented water and flowers, with the Chaksunmilan (Sanskrit: चक्षन् मिलन, meeting the eye opening) ceremony marking the high point of the ritual.[6] The image is then considered as consecrated. In large and ceremonial public temples, the murti may be retired at sunset just like a guest retiring to bed, and then woken up at sunrise with pleasantries, washing, offering of fresh clothes, food and interaction with the devotees.[6][7][8] Some temples may include elaborate procession, as community events such as traditional singing and dancing events to mark the celebration.[6]

A special type of consecration is used for festival icons (Sanskrit: utsava vigraha) for the purpose of parading the deity for the community to receive the vision (Sanskrit: darśaṇa) of the deity.[9]

In Jainism[edit]

Another term used for consecration in the Jain tradition is añjana śalākā, the "eye-opening" rite by which a qualified practitioner "enlivens" a murti for worship.[10]

Digambara Jains consecrate the statue of a Jina by the ritual of Abhisheka, where the statue is awakened by pouring of auspicious liquids such as water, clarified butter, coconut milk, yellow sandalwood water, cow milk and other liquids successively.[11] The temple is considered active only when the main Jina image has been consecrated. The ritual of consecrating an image to bring "life to temple" is attested in medieval Jain documents.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Heather Elgood (2000), Hinduism and the Religious Arts, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-0304707393, pages 14-15, 32-36
  2. ^ a b c V Bharne and K Krusche (2012), Rediscovering the Hindu Temple, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN 978-1443841375, page 53
  3. ^ For quotation on the effect of consecration see: Flood (2003), p. 7.
  4. ^ For "the consecration of an idol or image" for pratiṣṭhā see: Apte, p. 653, column 1, meaning 13.
  5. ^ For the meaning of pratiṣṭha as installed or consecrated see: Apte, p. 653, column 2, meaning 4.
  6. ^ a b c Heather Elgood (2000), Hinduism and the Religious Arts, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-0304707393, pages 32-36
  7. ^ C Fuller (2004), The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691120485, pages 67-68
  8. ^ Hillary Rodrigues (2003), Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess, McGill Studies in the History of Religions, State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-791453995, Chapter 3
  9. ^ For technical term utsava vigraha for consecration of festival icons, and role in providing darśaṇa see: Flood (2003), p. 7.
  10. ^ For añjana śalākā, the "eye-opening" rite, see: Cort, John E. "Overview of the Jain Purāṇas", in: Doniger, p. 197.
  11. ^ a b Lisa Owen (2012), Carving Devotion in the Jain Caves at Ellora, BRILL, ISBN 978-9004206298, pages 44, 146-147, 184-186

Cited sources[edit]

  • Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965). The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 81-208-0567-4.  (Fourth revised and enlarged edition).
  • Doniger, Wendy (editor) (1993). Purāṇa Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts. Albany, New York: State University of New York. ISBN 0-7914-1382-9. 
  • Flood, Gavin (Editor) (2003). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-4051-3251-5.