Why Hindus do Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) around the Deity?

Hinduism is the oldest Civilization & only one which is based on Science. In Hinduism whatever is practiced is not only based on beliefs but there are scientific reasons behind each & every tradition. All of us visit temple & has done Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) around the Deity & temple. Walking around the innermost chamber of the shrine of the temple is called Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा). Not only around the Deity or the temple, Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) is also done around fire, trees & plants. But do you really know why Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) is done? What is the scientific reason behind that? The below explained facts might help to understand this concept clearly.
     The world is always rotating around itself on its own axis as well as around the sun. All the planets also rotate on their own axis. This is called rotation & their rotation on their orbits is called revolution. Just like in solar system, the sun is at the center around which the planets rotate, our Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) should be done with the Deity at the center. The Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) should be done slowly & never in a hurry, our thoughts & actions must dwell into the Deity.
The word प्रदक्षिणा is the Sanskrit word where, ‘ प्र ‘ is used as a prefix to verb & take on the meaning of onward or forward. Onward to दक्षिण means right thus, the whole word प्रदक्षिणा means moving forward to the right.
     The Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) is done in a clockwise direction in an odd number of times. But usually it is done three times. It is done slowly with folded hands & visualizing the Deity in mind all the time. There are shlokas for Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा), which many utters while doing Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा). The shlokas are;

यानि कानि च पापानि जन्मान्तरकृतानि च ।
तानि सर्वाणि नश्यन्ति प्रदक्षिणां पदे पदे ॥
Meaning: Whichever Sins have been committed by me in various births, all those gets destroyed with every step of the Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा). O Lord, please accept my Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा).

पदे पदे या परिपूजकेभ्यः सद्योऽश्वमेधादिफलं ददाति ।
तां सर्वपापक्षयहेतुभूतां प्रदक्षिणां ते परितः करोमि ॥
Meaning: One who at every step of the Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) performed every day, offers worship to the Deity, that act gives the Fruits of the Horse-sacrifice ( अश्वमेध यज्ञ ) etc. & that becomes the cause of the destruction of all the sins, I do the Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) all around You (with the same attitude).
     The legend related to the Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) is :- once Lord Kartikeya & Lord Ganesha had fight regarding who is the best & so to solve the fight Lord Shiva says that the one who takes the Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) of the universe (विश्व प्रदक्षिणा) 7 times & comes back first is the best. Lord Kartikeya starts doing Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) of the universe on his peacock as he felt that he has peacock & Lord Ganesha have rat so Lord Ganesha will not be able to win this. But, Lord Ganesha was very clever & for him, parents are his universe. So, he started Circumambulating (प्रदक्षिणा) around his parents (Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati) & justified his action by stating that the universe is contained within the figure of the parents & thus he wins. This legend justifies the importance of the Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) & thus Hindus are attached to the practice of Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा), & it also shows the importance of parenthood in Hinduism.
     Circumambulating (प्रदक्षिणा) in the clockwise rotation is associated as a straightforward, honest, impartial, amiable, compliant, submissive & auspicious gesture in praying the Deity. We assume that the Deity is on our right side, He being righteous in all ways. Typically, Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) is done after the completion of traditional worship (puja ritual),  after paying homage to the Deity & after the sight of the Deity (दर्शनम्). It is supposed to be done with a meditative mood.

     There is the same way of Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) around all the Deities & around the plants, trees & the fire. But, there is a difference in doing Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) at Lord Shiva’s temples. The circumambulation around the Shiva Lingam is done half which in Sanskrit known as शिवस्य अर्धप्रदक्षिणा. The worshipers should start the Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) as usual from the front & go clockwise keeping the right hand towards the Shiva Lingam till one reach the outlet (गौमुखम्) for ablution water (i.e.bathed water) (अभिषेकः) of the Sanctum. The outlet for the ritual ablution (i.e.bathed water) (अभिषेकः) offered on the Shiva Lingam with water, milk, curd, coconut water, ghee, ashes (भस्मः) etc. is not to be crossed because, that ablution water (i.e.bathed water) (अभिषेकः) is Sacred & in Hinduism the Sacred water (i.e.bathed water) is believed to be very auspicious & thus, one should not cross that outlet (गौमुखम्) for ablution water (i.e.bathed water) (अभिषेकः) of the Sanctum. So, the worshipers have to return in anti-clockwise direction till they reach the other side of the outlet (गौमुखम्) to complete the circle. After reaching the outlet (गौमुखम्), they have to return to the front in the clockwise direction. Thus, one Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) is completed.

The difference between प्रदक्षिणा & परिक्रमा –
You must have noticed that there are two different names of circumambulation in Sanskrit- प्रदक्षिणा & परिक्रमा. Now lets see the meaning & difference between these two different words. The literal meaning of the word प्रदक्षिणा is – moving to the right or a reverential salutation made by walking round from left to right i.e. clockwise direction. The literal meaning of परिक्रमा is – going to or moving about. Now lets see the difference between प्रदक्षिणा & परिक्रमा; moving around one & same object or place is called प्रदक्षिणा & going or moving from one place to another is called परिक्रमा. प्रदक्षिणा is done around the Deities, the temples, the trees (e.g. peepal tree), the plants (e.g. tulsi plant) & the fire (during marriage ritual). While the परिक्रमा is done around the Sacred Rivers (e.g. Narmada parikrama) & the Sacred Mountains (e.g. Govardhan hill, Girnar,etc.).

Significance of doing Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) –
1. As the temple area is covered with the trees & plants, while circumambulating around the Deity one is surrounded by the trees, thus getting oxygen & inhaling fresh air.
2. While doing circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) one can improve the blood circulation.
3. It also helps in improving the mood.
4. Doing circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा), one can unburden stress, ego, worries, negative thoughts & negative energies.
5. While doing circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) one absorbs positive energy activated inside the temple.
6. It helps getting mentally calm & peaceful.
7. It helps to get spiritually connected to the Deity.
8. Circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) also signifies that the Deity is the center of our existence. As the center point is always fixed & remains the same. So this reminds that the eternal truth i.e. the Deity is the center of our life.
9. It helps destroying the sins done through thoughts, speech & body.
10. It also represents the respect & total surrender towards the Deity.
11. While doing circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) we do it with bare foot, this helps improving the balance & sleep.
12. Circumambulating (प्रदक्षिणा) with bare foot regulates the nervous system.

There is also the significance & a belief of the 03 circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा). The first circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) is to shed & unwind yourself from your worldly possessions & materialism. The second circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा) signifies disconnecting yourself from the attachments. In the third & the final circumambulation you should unwind & disconnect from your own ego & sense of self. Thus, you disconnect yourself from materialism, attachments & ego. When you have successfully disconnected from all these three barriers in your thoughts, then you can easily connect yourself with the Deity. It is also believed that, the sins committed by the body are destroyed in the first round of circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा), the sins committed by speech are destroyed in the second round & the sins committed by the mind in the third round.
      So, now you have become aware of why we do circumambulation (प्रदक्षिणा). I hope you will do it with full devotion whenever you visit the temple.


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