Aarti Is Integral to Sanatana Dharma

Aarti Is Integral to Sanatana Dharma

Aarti, Arti

The term Aarti is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Aratrika,’ which means something that removes ‘Ratri,’ darkness. Hence, Aarti is a symbolic ritual that signifies removing darkness with the light of knowledge or wisdom.

The Aarti (or Arti) is an integral part of Hindu worship and is deeply significant in Sanatana Dharma, also known as Hinduism. A ritual of light, Aarti is performed at the climax of a puja (worship ritual) or bhajan session. It is performed during almost all Hindu ceremonies and occasions and serves multiple symbolic purposes.

The key aspect of an Aarti is offering light, usually from a lamp (deepa) or candle, to the deity. This light represents the cosmos’ illuminating energy, signifying the removal of spiritual darkness and ignorance.

The ProcessĀ of Aarti

The Morning Aarti is often done at sunrise, the start of the day. This time is considered very auspicious and is also known as the “Brahma Muhurta” in Hinduism. Performing Aarti at this time is said to help start the day positively and bring blessings for the day ahead.

The evening Aarti is usually performed at sunset. This is when daylight fades, and darkness sets in, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness.

In many temples, it is performed multiple times throughout the day. For instance, it is performed five times a day in famous temples like those in Vrindavan and Varanasi.

The Aarti plate or lamp is circulated around the deity clockwise, symbolizing the sun’s and moon’s rotation around the earth, highlighting the cosmic order. It is a reminder of the interdependence of the macrocosm (the universe) and the microcosm (the self). Performing Aarti is believed to invite the divine cosmic energy into the worshippers’ aura, and the light from the flames, when circled around the deity, draws in the deity’s blessings.

The Benefits

The fire’s light is said to purify the surroundings and the souls of those present. The rising smoke symbolizes elevating the devotee’s prayers to the divine. An Aarti is often a joyful ceremony accompanied by songs, music, and ringing bells. It represents a space where devotees express their love, adoration, and gratitude toward the deity.

The Aarti engages all the senses with the deity’s sight, the sound of the bells and chants, the fragrance of incense and flowers, the warmth of the flame, and the final act of partaking the flame as a blessing. This sensory activation aids in the immersion of the devotee into the worship, increasing focus and devotion.

The concept of worshipping fire, one of the five essential elements (Pancha Bhoota) of existence in Hindu philosophy, dates back to Vedic times. Among the oldest known Hindu scriptures, the Vedic texts contain many hymns dedicated to Agni (the fire god), indicating that fire was worshipped for its purity, warmth, and transformative power.

The epic Ramayana describes that Aarti was performed for Lord Rama when he returned to Ayodhya after defeating the demon king Ravana. This may be one of the earliest references to the practice of Aarti as a part of Hindu worship in literature.

The act of waving lights in front of the deity was later included in temple rituals, and it became a significant part of worship in both domestic and temple environments over time. Today, Aarti is performed not only in temples but also in homes during morning and evening prayers.