A Short Explanation Of Pujas

Understanding the Workings of Pujas

A Short Explanation Of Pujas

In Sanskrit, the word for offering is puja, which means to please. Pujas directed to certain Deities, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas create a connection with them. In some pujas, extensive and elaborate offerings are made to propitiate the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, not because they are pleased to receive gifts, but because they rejoice in the virtue of the givers.

Through them being pleased, then the sponsor accumulates great merits, which will automatically fulfill their wishes and purify their negative karma, which is the ultimate cause for their particular problem.

Through making pujas one accumulates merit. Accumulation of merit is an indispensable factor in clearing the locality or person of obstacles and renders peacefulness. It helps to free a locality from disease and increase the lifespan, happiness and wealth of its inhabitants.

It also has a positive influence on the spread of the Dharma and increases conducive conditions for a meditator’s development towards the paths to liberation and enlightenment.


Looking into Karma Through Divination

By looking into someone’s future, the diviner or medium can assess the particular situation or cause and recommend how to respond or deal with it. Remedial action, in the form of pujas, evokes positive forces and can result in a change in the person’s fortune.

Pujas will not change a person’s karma, and those requesting and performing a divination should be aware of this. However, pujas can be employed to manipulate the karma in an individual’s continuum. They can induce latent positive potential to take precedence over that which is perceived as the cause of an impending misfortune.

Each individual’s karma may be divided into 2 types: non-specific and particular. Non-specific does not mean that it will not come to fruition, but simply that the time and mode of its fruition are not definite. Every action, whether pleasant or painful, does not necessarily give rise to a specific result. Beings have, as it were, a pool of potential for pleasure and pain, which may bear fruit whenever they encounter the proper conditions.

For example, if we have the karma to have a car accident and we do certain pujas and rituals well, we can avert it by purifying some of the negative karmas so that we may have an accident but not die; maybe we get some scratches or a few injured bones. The karma is there but it can be lightened or lessened.

Similarly, a large snow mountain which melts into a torrential river, if it is allowed to burst down and continue to the bottom of the village, the village will be wiped out completely and destroyed. We cannot make the river return to the mountains or dry the water up, but we can make many tributaries and waterways in many directions to break up the force of the water as it descends to the village, thereby bypassing the village and saving it.

We do not burn the water up, nor make the water return to the mountain, nor destroy the water, nor dry up the water, but we manipulate the water. The village is like us; the water is like our karma.

If our karma is dealt with in sufficient time before it ripens, like the river, we can lessen the effects of the karma or the torrential river to be. We can manipulate karma; play with karma. It can eventually be purified – similar to that of the river; when we have enough room, we dig more and more waterways, the water will become less and less and eventually when it reaches the village, it will evaporate.

Likewise, if someone’s relative is ill, or his business is deteriorating, one may request a qualified practitioner’s divination to discover what puja or ritual would be most helpful in setting conditions right. The success of the puja depends on the strength of one’s own karma.

In performing a puja, deities and the power of truth in the Buddha’s speech are invoked to bring to fruition latent positive predispositions present in a person’s continuum, in order to overcome the negative predispositions that are giving rise to disease, etc. However, if the karma or predisposition to be ill is stronger than the latent positive potential in the sick person’s continuum, the effects of the disease will not be overcome and the puja will remain unsuccessful, but still plant powerful imprints and collect merit for its avoidance in the future.

Also the pujas should be done with the highest motivation on the part of the sponsor. Even if there is no effect immediately, the results will eventually come – any action in relation to the Three Jewels is never wasted.


How is Puja Performed?

Pujas are performed in order to avert obstacles of patrons. Ritualists invoke peaceful or wrathful deities or invoke on the power of truth and make offerings to them. Next, they summon all obstructive forces and through the peaceful means of offering them a ritual cake and the wrathful means of reciting mantras they dismiss them.

If these forces continue to remain, they are driven away by reciting wrathful mantras, scattering sesame seeds, burning special incense and with the contemplation on the truth of emptiness motivated by compassion. They visualise all the wrathful deities chasing the destructive forces far away.

The efficacy of a puja involves the patron making offerings of food and money to the monks and adepts performing it. The merit acquired from this gift is used to trigger the forces of latent positive potential in oneself or others. Thus, one is not transferring merit and stepping outside the laws of cause and effect, but merely using merit to awaken the forces of one’s own or other’s good karma.


Tsem Rinpoche
Spiritual Advisor
Kechara House & KWPC Retreat Centre