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Arati Bhargava, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 18, 2012
The peak of spiritual achievement is to feel one with God. One does not necessarily have to peruse scriptures and religious texts to realise this. The concept exists even in the simple daily prayers in most religions. Among the Hindus, often a part of their daily prayer is the Aarti performed before a deity. The word Aarti comes from the Rig Veda and has more than one meaning. .

Aartis are hymns and stanzas in praise of God, at times seeking His guidance. And, most importantly, the performers surrender themselves to the deity before them.

The Aartis are simple and yet can be profoundly meaningful. An instance being the popular nine stanza Aarti for Lord Vishnu — Om Jaye Jagdish Hare. The last stanza, addressed to lord Vishnu, states : Tan man dhan sab hai tera, tera tujhko arpan, kya lage mera (the body, mind or soul and wealth are all yours. What is yours I offer to you, nothing is mine).

Aartis are performed by the doer with cotton wick immersed in oil or ghee (clarified butter ) in a deepak placed on a metal plate. The devotee sings or recites the Aarti while rotating this Aarti plate in clockwise direction before the deity. It is believed that the deity’s cosmic energy is transferred to the ‘Deepak’s’ flame. That is why when the Aarti ends the devotee and others present sweep their palms over the flame and then their forehead so that they too get a part of the divine cosmic energy.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “The meaning of Aarti is complete happiness. Only when our life’s radiance is around God do we get complete happiness. We should dive into the meaning of all rituals and then we will be happy and make others happy”.

Even in other religions, simple prayers reflect the deepest and heartfelt surrender to God. The devotees who realise this and pray experience the bliss and joy of being one with God.