The Arati in the Liturgy – Indian or Hindu?

APRIL 2015

The Arati in the Liturgy – Indian or Hindu?

My inclusions and comments are, as always, in green colour font.


The Bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) had, with the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) according to several Catholic sources, “fraudulently” obtained permission from Rome for the
“TWELVE POINTS OF ADAPTATION” of the “Indian Rite” Mass (see pages 13, 15ff.) including the use of the Hindu religious ritual, the
arati in April 1969. We shall examine that all-important issue later.


Point no. 12 of the

In the Offertory rite, and at the conclusion of the Anaphora the Indian form of worship may be integrated, that is, double or triple “arati of flowers, and/or incense and/or light.
(Emphasis CBCI’s)


So what is the arati?

Aarti also spelled aratiarathiaarthi (from the Sanskrit word aratrika with the same meaning) is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Source:
(Plenty of evidence that the arati is Hindu follows)


The inclusion of the arati in the Indian Rite Mass is described in the TWELVE POINTS as “the Indian form of worship” whereas
it is exclusive to Hindu temples and rituals, and is not used in the rituals of other Indian religions such as Buddhism. It is a daily feature in the syncretized liturgies of the Catholic ashrams movement.

It is as much an actual act of veneration of the deity as it is a superstitious propitiation or appeasement of the object to which arati is offered or a ritual to ward off the “evil eye”, like much else in the Hindu religion.

It is not “inculturation” or “Indianisation” as some of our Bishops have had us — and Rome — believe because the use of arati is not indulged in by Indian Protestants, Indian Muslims, Parsis or Sikhs. Its performance is conducted only by those who worship idols and “graven images” as in the sanatana dharma of Hinduism.

Amritsari Sikhs in particular and Sikhs in general are forbidden to perform the arati. See pages 61-63.

It was originally not used by Jains, but as Jainism became increasingly indistinguishable from Hinduism with the adoption of Hindu rituals, it is now practiced by Jains who also worship the pantheon of Hindu deities.


Is that the future of Catholicism in India too in the name of “inculturation”?

That is a moot question because the clergy already appear to be obsessed with Ganesha, a Hindu deity. See

JULY 2011


22 FEBRUARY 2014




The laity of the Catholic Church in India, and even Her religious and priests, as in the case of the 2008 St. Pauls New Community Bible with its heretical and syncretized commentaries and line-drawings (later pulled for revision after an incensed faithful including this ministry protested), WAS NOT CONSULTED AT ALL on the formulation of these “Twelve Points”! It was the handiwork of a coterie of Bishops who very hurriedly pushed through a move (page 13) in which several Bishops did not participate or dissented, Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass of the CBCI’s NBCLC in Bangalore and his Rome-based brother Cardinal (then Archbishop) D. Lourduswamy!!

When it was first introduced in the Anaphora, the Arati
adopted from Hinduism
was the proverbial camel’s nose in the tent of the Catholic Church in India. It did not take long for the entire camel to ease its way in.

Today it’s not just the NBCLC and the Ashrams; Hinduisation of the Mass is rampant in the entire Church.



A brief history of the background:

The Future of Christian Mission in India
EXTRACT Pages 202, 203 (Emphasis mine)

By Fr. Augustine Kanjamala SVD, former Executive Secretary of the CBCI’s Commission for Proclamation and Communication

Liturgical inculturation

With the promulgation of the Conciliar Document “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”, liturgical adaptation was considered urgent because it seriously touches the identity of the Church both in terms of her mystery as well as in terms of the world in which it lives and works. (Sacramentum Concilium #7) The first General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in Delhi, in October 1966, provided broad guidelines for inculturation.

“All liturgical adaptations must be based on the norms of the Constitution of Sacred Liturgy (SC #37-40)”.

The same meeting appointed late Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadass (1932-1990) as the founder-director of National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre, Bangalore, of which he took charge in February 1967. In the following decade he, together with many dynamic collaborators, played a very crucial role in liturgical inculturation in India.

The second All India Liturgical Meeting, Bangalore, on January 27-31, 1969, prepared a long-term plan for liturgical inculturation consisting of four phases.

1. Creating an Indian atmosphere through music, postures, decorations, objects, and other elements of worship

2. Translation of liturgical rites into vernaculars and original composition of new texts

3. Use of scriptures of other religions

4. Compose a new Indian anaphora

The first step towards inculturation was the introduction of twelve external elements for creating an Indian atmosphere of worship. With the recommendation of the Indian Bishops, fifty one Bishops out of seventy one in March 1969, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship gave the approval on April 25, 1969, with the provision that it was left to the discretion of the Regional Council of Bishops and the local ordinaries to implement them. (30% of the Bishops did not approve it.)

The twelve items are squatting posture instead of standing; anjali hasta and panchanga pranam as forms of reverence; arati as form of welcome to the main celebrant; use of a shawl instead of the traditional liturgical vestments; tray to keep the offering; oil lamps instead of candles; a simple incense bowl; touching objects to one’s forehead instead of kissing them; anjali hasta to share peace; spontaneous prayer of the faithful and maha arati at the doxology.


An Order for Mass in India: An Indian Anaphora

Spurred by the post-Vatican enthusiasm for inculturation in the context of the three ritual churches in India, creation of “a basically common liturgy of the Church in India” using Indian cultural and religious traditions and elements was recommended. In 1968, the Congregation for Sacred Liturgy published three new Anaphoras in addition to the existing Roman Canon. “The second All India Liturgical Meeting in January 1969 constituted a committee to compose a new Indian Anaphora, a basically common liturgy of the Church in India.” “The All India Seminar” (1969), in the light of liturgical renewal recommenced by SC exhorted to live an Indian way of life, spirituality and liturgy.

The preparation for an Indian Anaphora was initiated in 1968. Passing through different stages of modifications, it was finally approved by the CBCI meeting in Madras in April 1972 receiving sixty votes out of eighty bishops present. (Again, 25% of the Bishops did not vote in favour of the Indian Rite Mass.)

The Indian Anaphora is characterized by copious use of Indian objects and symbols in addition to the use of vernacular language as well as Sanskrit.

The third All India Liturgical Meeting in Bangalore on 28th November to 4th December 1971, taking note of difficulties and differences of three different rites, discussed how to respect and preserve their identity…


30 years after its Indian approval in 1972 and 10 years from the submission of the proposed Indian Anaphora to the Vatican, we see that it has NOT been approved but the Indian Bishops still demand that Rome clear it.

Bishops regret Vatican disallowing inculturation in liturgical texts

Also see

November 1, 2002

Catholic bishops in India’s Hindi speaking region say the reluctance of some Vatican officials to incorporate local cultural ethos in liturgical texts could hamper inculturation.

Liturgical books in Hindi “cannot and should not mean dry literal translations of Latin versions,” Archbishop Benedict John Osta of Patna said at a recent meeting that involved 29 bishops from India´s northern region.

During their Oct. 20-21 meeting, the bishops discussed obstacles they face in having the Vatican approve Hindi translations of liturgical texts, including the Roman Missal, which contains Mass texts, and the Indian Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer).

The Indian Anaphora was submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 1992. The Hindi translation of the Roman Missal was sent in 2000. The next year, however, the congregation issued “Liturgiam Authenticam” (“The Authentic Liturgy”), an instruction on liturgical translations. The document insists on almost-literal translations and close adherence to the style and structure of the original Latin.




Jesuit Archbishop Osta told fellow bishops that liturgy in Hindi was meant to generate greater participation of the faithful, but that would be impossible unless the translation “is in tune with the broader cultural canvas and creativity of the faithful.” Several other bishops at the triennial gathering in Patna, the capital of Bihar state, some 1,015 kilometers east of Delhi, agreed that the reluctance of Vatican officials to reflect local culture in the liturgy would impede the inculturation process.

Belgian Jesuit Father Jos De Cuyper, 82, who convened a committee set up for the translations, told the meeting his group completed most of the work, including a translation of the Roman Missal “as per the directive of the Second Vatican Council,” which encourages local cultural creativity in the liturgy. “But we abandoned publishing,” he said, because the congregation “directed” translators to “skip local cultural creativity and meticulously revise the texts in accordance with their authentic Latin versions.”

Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi said the Vatican had also specified that the directive for inclusion of local cultural aspects in liturgy was not official. “This could greatly hamper the pace of inculturation that not only the Second Vatican Council emphasized, but all the popes have been repeatedly stressing,” Archbishop Concessao said.

Archbishop Osta, a Sanskrit and Hindi scholar who pioneered the translation, said he had personally discussed the issue with leaders of the congregation, “but they did not respond very positively.” Instead, he said, they “parried” by “saying they would deliberate over it in their plenary and then only would they be able to say something concrete.”

The congregation, he added, insisted that the literal rendering of the Latin texts “is an attempt at safeguarding the ‘unity of the Roman Rite’.” But “we simply cannot accept such logic, and we must make concerted and collective efforts to remove such restrictions,” Archbishop Osta asserted.

Jesuit Bishop John Baptist Thakur of Muzaffarpur used the words “beyond comprehension” to describe the Vatican position. “Actually, it is not a question of translation,” he observed. “It is a question of the mentality of the people in Rome” who want to control “from above” even the expression of devotion of culturally different people.

“We should not accept such dictates that could potentially hamper our mission of inculturation, which is indispensable for the Indian Church,” Bishop Thakur continued. If cultural aspects are not given expression in faith life, he said, Christianity “would remain an alien faith, a foreign culture.” That, he concluded, would only help Hindu groups to propagate their theory that Christians are foreigners and should be opposed.

Retired Jesuit Bishop J. Rodericks of Jamshedpur said the new statutes of the national conference of Latin-rite bishops authorize local bishops “to okay changes in the liturgy and then seek confirmation from Rome.”

“Are Roman congregations authorized to restrict in a very substantial manner a decision taken by the Vatican council that allowed local cultural ethos to be incorporated in the liturgy?” Bishop Rodericks asked.

He said the region’s bishops could take up the matter with Pope John Paul II when they go for their next ad limina or five-yearly visit to Rome later this year. Accurate literal translation of the Latin versions of the liturgy is “not possible theologically and culturally,” the retired bishop added.

Archbishop Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi said the Vatican congregation lately has “mellowed down a bit and is willing listen to our problems.” The archbishop, who is president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (Latin Rite), said the conference’s next biennial meeting in January 2003 will discuss the matter to prepare a paper for presentation to the pope.

We must tell everyone firmly that the march of inculturation that followed Vatican Council II cannot be reversed,” Archbishop Toppo said. “Any attempt to do so would only hurt the sentiments of our people. I am sure the Roman Curia would appreciate our views and needs.” He also said the need of the region compels the Church to prepare a liturgy comprehensible to “even children and illiterates.”

It was “impossible” to return liturgy to the “cultural background of the 7th-8th centuries in Rome when liturgical texts were composed in the language of Pope Leo the Great,” he asserted. “We live in the present, and the local people yearn to live their faith within the indigenous cultural ambience.”


I emphasize this:
the so called ‘Indian Rite Mass’ and the ‘Indian Anaphora’ have never been approved.

Yet, numerous rituals that are intrinsically Hindu have wormed their way into the Liturgy of the Holy Mass that is offered in our churches Sunday after Sunday. Bishops, Cardinals, Apostolic Nuncios and even Vatican officials concelebrate at such “Indian Rite” Masses without so much as batting an eyelid.

That the CBCI’s NBCLC and the Catholic Ashrams circuit are having a field day innovating and extrapolating the “Twelve Points” is no secret, and certainly no surprise. In my October 2005 report CATHOLIC ASHRAMS, I had stated that the swami-theologians of the Catholic Ashrams movement are advocating an autonomous Indian Church. And there are Bishops who stand by them.

Formation in our seminaries is heavily compromised because these theologians exercise control over the philosophates and theologates (and most Bishops too) and there is little if any place for the few conservatives and orthodox among them. I know this because of my personal contacts with seminarians and theologians. Apart from that, I will provide enough documentation in this report to reinforce my claims.


There is this interesting 1969 exchange of letters between one Dr. Eric M. de Saventhem and Monsignor (later Cardinal) Simon Pimenta (then Episcopal Vicar of Bombay) that I came across:

Mgr. Simon Pimenta writes:

Sir, I was quite amused by the letter of Dr. Eric M. de Saventhem in your issue of 12 July, entitled “Sanskrit and Latin”.




He makes two points out of his reading of the report that appeared in your issue of 21 June, page 629, which states that Mgr. (sic—he is not yet one!) Bugnini, secretary of the “Consilium”, had “welcomed another proposal by the Indian bishops, namely the composition of a new Indian anaphora, probably in Sanskrit”.

Dr. de Saventhem’s first point is that an anaphora in Sanskrit would lend powerful support to those who, for the Western Church, uphold the pastoral and apostolic value of liturgical Latin. I do not blame the doctor. I blame your reporting. I do not know from where your reporter gathered the information that the new Indian anaphora might probably be in Sanskrit. At no time have the Indian bishops asked for an Indian anaphora in Sanskrit. And they have not done so for the very pastoral and practical reason that practically no one speaks Sanskrit and it is unintelligible to almost all. The people would certainly not want an anaphora in Sanskrit. What the bishops have asked for is simply to have a “new Indian anaphora “; and Fr. Bugnini’s words in his letter of approval are: “The proposal to compose a new Indian anaphora in collaboration with experts in different fields is most welcome.” The whole argument of Dr. de Saventhem, therefore, has no ground to stand on.

Dr. de Saventhem also feels that a new anaphora would compromise the necessary degree of uniformity in other parts of the Mass as well. I think by now we should be agreed that what has to be preserved is unity, not uniformity. And a new anaphora, as the introduction of a new vernacular in the Mass, new gestures and postures in keeping with the cultures of different peoples, provided this is done with the approval of competent authority, will not and should not compromise our unity. Have not the Oriental Catholic Churches had several Anaphoras for the last so many years? The Oriental Catholic rites in India have more than one anaphora. I believe that if we in India do ultimately have a new Indian anaphora, we shall not be the first to do so. Perhaps we have already lost any claim to be the first.


Dr. de Saventhem writes:

Obviously, with Mgr. Pimenta’s authoritative denial of any intention on the part of the Indian bishops to have a new anaphora in Sanskrit, all argument related to this part of your news item has become meaningless. What a pity, though – it would have been marvelously appropriate for the bishops of a people steeped in a culture so much older than ours to have risen, in their own contribution to liturgical reform, above the shallow motive of “intelligibility”.

As to the second part of Mgr. Pimenta’s letter, it surely reinforces what I have said. Liturgical fragmentation is round the corner, if not already an established fact. Nor should we be lulled into a false sense of security by the bland assurance that such pluriformity will not compromise our unity. Mgr. Pimenta would probably agree that one cannot have “pluriformity” in the tenets of the Creed (nor, since tenets do not exist in the abstract, in the formulae used for expressing them) without compromising the unity of the Catholic faith. How then can we face with equanimity a fast-growing crop of formulae used for expressing (nay: for enacting) the central mystery of that faith, on which the Creed itself is silent so that there is no safeguard for the one-ness of our belief except in the essential one-ness of our Anaphoras? The multiplicity of Canons in the oriental Churches is a different matter altogether: they are a legacy from the “age of faith” which it was decided to respect rather than suppress when these Churches re-joined Rome—just as the Indian bishops recently decided to respect (and, indeed, promote) rather than suppress the as yet un-reformed Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites still in use among a third of their people.

Ours is decidedly not an age “of faith” but of the crisis of the faith, and the feverish wave of liturgical productivity is one of its major symptoms. “Approval by the competent authority” is but a negative guarantee and not a very reliable one at that, since authority will be driven to condone what, in its present enfeeblement, it cannot effectively forbid. No, sir—or rather, monsignor: if we are really agreed that what has to be preserved is unity, we shall have to return to that degree of uniformity which is its natural expression, and its guarantee.

Re-discovering it in the Mass of St. Pius V, the next generation will be our judges. Merciful ones, let us hope.



Name Withheld
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 8:38 PM Subject: Info. As per your request

I’m forwarding the ‘Times of India’ item “Church walks it to Mandir” sent by Martin Rebeiro & also an extract of my reply to him. It is self-explanatory & may be of some help to you.

The day I received your email I was watching NDTV (26th, 10.30 pm) and the ‘Mumbai Live’ programme came on – an Interview – Srinivasan Jain interviewing Rev. Fr. Anthony Charanghat, Rev. Fr. Dominic (?) and Swami Agnivesh

It was about the deliberations taking place at the Papal Seminary, Pune and the Catholic Church wanting to introduce rituals in the Mass – Inculturation! The Catholic Priests were most favourable to the proposal but Swami Agnivesh stunned me! All the more because he was dressed from head to toe in saffron and looked so cold and indifferent! This is what he said (paraphrased) What the Catholic Church wants to do is meaningless as the rituals they want to introduce (the arati, etc) are a degenerate form of Hinduism. And then added “True Religion aims at inner and social transformation”. Bravo!! And this coming from a staunch Hindu! Well said, I thought, as this is exactly what Jesus was trying to convey to the Pharisees of his day – for whom religion consisted of observing laws & rituals!! 

Swami Agnivesh, a leading Hindu spokesperson, rejects the arati that the Indian priests and Bishops have introduced in the Eucharistic liturgy of the Church.

On the following pages, there are images of the performance of arati by individuals on Hindu deities as well as on individuals themselves.














Congress party President Sonia Gandhi performing arati for the Hindu deity Ganesh or Ganapati at Pune


Sonia Gandhi performs Puja at Shirdi temple

June 18, 2008

Sonia Gandhi’s current visits to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have suddenly taken on a heavy dose of faith at a time of political uncertainty and impending elections.

In Shirdi, the Congress president stepped into the Sai Baba temple on her way to a political rally at Loni. Tomorrow at Ujjain, where she has another meeting, Sonia will drop in at the Mahakal temple.

Sonia arrived in Shirdi at noon and performed aarti*. During her 20-minute visit, the Shirdi Sai Sansthan, which runs the temple, presented her a statute of the Sai Baba and a book on his life. *to the long dead Shirdi Sai Baba


Congress party president Sonia Gandhi at the Centenary Celebrations of the Shri Gokarnanatheshwara Kudroli Temple, Mangalore. Rajya Sabha Catholic Member of Parliament Oscar Fernandes and his wife Blossom
were present.
Source: October 18, 2012


The performance of arati by individuals for Hindu deities (left and centre) and for godwoman Mata Amritanandamayi (right)











arati ceremony being performed non-liturgically as a welcome to Church dignitaries


Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
at a Jain
ceremony in the UK, June 14, 2013



Representatives of the Brisbane, Australia, Indian community in traditional dress present gifts to Archbishop Mark Coleridge during the offertory procession at Mass in St Stephen’s Cathedral on the feast of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara. The Mass included traditional Indian flair including a special religious ritual
arati, January 19, 2015



being performed non-liturgically at St. Gonsalo Garcia Church, Vasai, Maharashtra, February 10, 2009, for
Bishop Thomas Dabre



being performed at Mass at the
National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre, Bangalore, Maundy Thursday, April 2007



Pope John Paul II visited India February 1-10, 1986.

I attended the Papal Mass for dignitaries and special invitees at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, as well as the open-to-all celebrations at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on February 5.

Pope John Paul II once again visited New Delhi, India, 5-8 November, 1999.


February 2 or 5, 1986, Bombay, Delhi or Madras: The forehead of
Pope John Paul II
being marked with a

Traditionalist groups put out this photograph with the comment that the Pope had had his foreheadanointed by a Hindu ‘priestess of Shiva’.*



From the Internet, a Traditionalist YouTube video
11:45 with audio taken from Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin’s podcast:

During his visit to India in 1986, John Paul II participated in many practices of the Hindu religion. These went beyond simple inculturation and into heretical syncretism, if not worse. One of these instances happened on February 2nd when he received the Mark of Shiva at Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi. A certain catholic apologist (Jimmy Akin) first denies John Paul II received this mark. He then further states if John Paul II did receive this mark, so what it doesn’t make him a heretic! What does the Catholic Church have to say about behavior like this?
goes even further to say, “
This is a photo of the pope receiving the mark of a prayer “aarti” to the Hindu female goddess Durga by a professing Christian Hindu woman.


So what was it, an application of the ‘bindi‘ or ‘tilak mark‘ on the forehead of the Pope or an ‘arati‘ ceremony?

We will return to that issue on pages 11-13.

Meanwhile, you may want to see




In recent years, the use of the tilak or bindi has emerged in Catholic liturgies across India, riding piggy-back on the arati, the waving of a flame around a person or object during a religious ritual.

Sacrosanctum Concilium and Inculturation of Liturgy in the Post-Conciliar Indian Catholic Church

By Jon Douglas Anderson

“Theology and Inculturation in India” Directed Study, Summer-Autumn 2009, with Dr. Michael Sirilla [Associate Professor of Theology], Franciscan University of Steubenville

Fr. Amalorpavadass‘ introduction of arati into his ‘Order of Mass for India’ included
not only the waving of fire, but also of flowers and incense. He noted that all three may be used separately, but are used simultaneously or in conjunction only when worship is thus being offered to God alone. In one passage of his commentary, he described various forms, contexts and uses of the practice of arati:

Arati of flowers (garlanding, placing flowers around, showering petals and waving a tray of flowers with incense stick or oil lamp in the centre).

Arati of incense (in an Indian bowl meant for it).

Arati of fire/flame (with oil or camphor).

[Performing] all three together is called Maharati and is done to God alone. It is done by waving the above from left to right three times before the person/object to whom/which homage is done keeping the person/object always on one’s right hand side.


There are four signs of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist:

a) The gathered community;

b) The president of the liturgical assembly;

c) The Word of God (the lectern and lectionary);

d) The Eucharistic Species (the altar);

To all these Arati is done and homage paid at different moments during the Eucharistic celebration.


Although he makes no reference to it herein, Amalorpavadass’ assertion of Christ’s fourfold presence in the Eucharistic liturgy echoes Sacrosanctum Concilium article 7, which likewise renders explicit this important liturgical truth:

[Christ] is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the eucharistic species…He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20) (SC 7) (emphases added).

As Christ is present during the Eucharistic liturgy in all of these forms, it is particularly appropriate, given the underlying logic of the ‘Order of Mass for India,’ that some form of arati should be offered to each of them, and that the most reverential form—the Maharati—should be reserved for the Eucharist itself.

We learn from the commentary of Amalorpavadass that this is precisely the case. He explains that there are, in fact, just such ritualized gestures offered to each (during the Indian Rite of the Mass- Michael):

To the Celebrant-President … Pushparati with a tray of flowers (with a burning wick or incense stick place in it) is offered to the priest as he reaches the sanctuary after the bhajan singing (prior to arati he may be given the tilak with sandal paste and kumkum)…


Addressing himself first to the sitting posture prescribed for observance of the Indian rite Mass, Amalorpavadass articulated several reasons for the desirability of following this prototypical Indian custom, appealing not only to its cultural resonance and historical foundations, but moreover to its most favorable psychological and spiritual effects:

The squatting posture facilitates a greater contact with ‘Mother Earth’ through which man can enter into communion with the whole universe (cosmos) which is permeated by God’s presence*

*D. S. Amalorpavadass, “The 12 Points of Adaptation in the Liturgy and Their Commentaries.” (Bangalore: National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre, 1981).

So that‘s the New Age basis for Amalorpavadass’ conjuring up the squatting Indian Rite Mass!?!


In another context Jon Anderson elaborates on a 1978 survey on “liturgical innovations” “(nearly a decade after the introduction of ‘the twelve points,’) and stored in the records of the NBCLC in Bangalore“:

58% accept them with enthusiasm. They consider that the 12 points enable them to worship God in keeping with the spirit and genius of India. They are conducive for a deeper experience of the Mystery and helpful for maintaining a prayerful spirit throughout. The use of symbols, the chants and bhajans sustain involvement and a contemplative spirit…

89% felt that such elements have contributed to a deeper prayer and worship. They appreciate the Indian atmosphere. They reported in particular that the chants, bhajans and some symbols and gestures helped them to pray better.

Finally, among the remaining respondents, Theckanath reports a mixture of qualified, detailed endorsements and specific criticisms, as well as a minority who expressed outright opposition to liturgical inculturation:


…Some oppose inculturation (17%). They feel that it creates confusion. Distinctiveness of Christian worship may be watered down. Some 8% have reservations on the “passive” posture of sitting on the floor throughout the Mass, and others on panchanga pranam, arati, etc. Some others mention that the postures at Mass should [only] be those adopted for daily life. 12 % feel that all of this amounts to Hinduization.
They say that the Christian identity will be lost if inculturation is pursued.

He adds, “The common denominator I discovered in the course of my own field research was simply that everyone I asked, from prominent bishops and theologians to the humblest parish priest and lay parishioner had some opinion of ‘inculturation,’ whether good, bad, or (rarely) indifferent…
although one may rightly wonder about the accuracy of statistics and the debatable representative nature of the survey’s sample—whether it might not be skewed toward a relatively more ‘elite’ clientele which has been exposed to seminars at the NBCLC.

My comment:

I would be more interested in the “12 % (that) feel that all of this amounts to Hinduization (that) say that the Christian identity will be lost if inculturation is pursued”. God bless that 12%. May their tribe increase. -Michael  


Jon Anderson continues:

Use of ‘Arati’ in the Mass:

The traditional practice of ‘arati, another “Indian* form of homage,” is most typically performed by the waving of an open flame before individuals, objects and images worthy of reverence, respect, and/or worship. Because of its prominent and ubiquitous use in inculturated Catholic liturgies, Amalorpavadass took particular care to highlight the multivalent symbolic significance of fire and its uses in worship:

After the community is reconciled/purified it becomes aware of the presence of the Lord. This presence of the Lord is symbolically expressed by the lighting of the lamp. Through the rite, the community is made aware of the illuminating presence of God in their midst. Lamp/flame, though a created object, is a sign of God. In Biblical tradition too, Light/fire is a special sign of God. *’Hindu’ is the right word.


Describing the oil lamp—a symbol truly ubiquitous in Indian spiritual life, from Hindu temples to the family household, as well as one used for centuries in very many Indian churches—and the touching of the flame (something borrowed directly from Hindu ritual practice
and adapted for use in inculturated Indian Catholic liturgies), Amalorpavadass again was at pains to describe their symbolic efficacy and fittingness:

[The oil lamp] is an auspicious symbol of the presence of God and as such it is always used for all social and religious functions…Great care should be taken to see that the flame does not go off due to wind or lack of oil. The lighting of the lamp is done by going round the lamp keeping it always on one’s right.

As the celebrant touches the flame, the community from the place where they are seated (for the sake of convenience) extend their hands towards the lamp and bring their palms towards the eyes or forehead as a sign of acceptance of Jesus Christ as their light. It is not worship of the lamp of Flame/Fire but worship of God symbolized, signified by it. In the Incarnational economy one cannot have communion with God except through signs, and the signs are many.

In my personal experience at several Catholic ashrams, the flame was, in fact, brought to each individual worshiper so as facilitate his or her actual touching of the flame. In any case, Amalorpavadass here does well to highlight the Incarnational (and thus necessarily physical) nature of Catholic worship, which not only lends itself naturally, but actually demands the engagement of the senses with material symbols of the power, presence, and activity of God.

Once again, however, despite the insistence of Amalorpavadass that Catholics most certainly do not worship the fire, Victor Kulanday ( sees no redeeming quality in such a practice, accusing those promoting it of inappropriately introducing foreign rituals and illegitimate pagan deities into Catholic liturgy:

Fire Worship: This is done also as a part of the Mass. A temple lamp is lighted wick after wick, offering it flowers etc. and the priest worships the fire in the Hindu way: touching the flame with the tips of his fingers and then brings his fingers to his eyes! [The] congregation is also asked to worship in the same manner. Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Muslims,
NONE worship the fire EXCEPT the Hindus to whom Fire (Agni) is a god. And now the misled Catholics of India also do.

Aarathi: This is a superstitious practice to wave lighted camphor along with flowers etc. at a person to ward off evil or the effects of evil eyes. Aarathi is a Hindu goddess* and the invocation is to her. In the Indian mass the celebrant is welcomed with a ceremony based on goddess Aarathi.

*I don’t believe that there is any truth in this claim that Arati is a Hindu goddess -Michael


Clearly, Amalorpavadass held in high regard objects such as the oil lamp traditionally used in Hindu temples and elsewhere, gestures such as the anjali hasta and ritual practices such as arati, “studying them with sympathy” and finding in them an opportunity to “respect and foster the genius and talents” of the Indian people in the spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium article 37,
whereas Victor Kulanday regarded these same elements of worship as being “indissolubly bound up with superstition and error,”

appealing to the self-same article of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.


Surely, the juxtaposition of these passages within the same article, to which appeals have been made on one hand by advocates and on the other hand by opponents of liturgical adaptations, underscores both the widely divergent uses to which they have been put and the overriding importance of their proper interpretation and implementation. It also highlights again the absolute need for a “competent territorial ecclesiastical authority” to adjudicate such disputes.


Kulanday’s objections notwithstanding, Amalorpavadass’ introduction of arati into his ‘Order of Mass for India’ included not only the waving of fire, but also of flowers and incense. He noted that all three may be used separately, but are used simultaneously or in conjunction only when worship is thus being offered to God alone. In one passage of his commentary, he described various forms, contexts and uses of the practice of arati:

Arati of flowers (garlanding, placing flowers around, showering petals and waving a tray of flowers with incense stick or oil lamp in the centre).

Arati of incense (in an Indian bowl meant for it).

Arati of fire/flame (with oil or camphor).

[Performing] all three together is called Maharati and is done to God alone. It is done by waving the above from left to right three times before the person/object to whom/which homage is done keeping the person/object always on one’s right hand side.


There are four signs of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist:

a) The gathered community;

b) The president of the liturgical assembly;

c) The Word of God (the lectern and lectionary);

d) The Eucharistic Species (the altar);

To all these Arati is done and homage paid at different moments during the Eucharistic celebration.


Although he makes no reference to it herein, Amalorpavadass’ assertion of Christ’s fourfold presence in the Eucharistic liturgy echoes Sacrosanctum Concilium article 7, which likewise renders explicit this important liturgical truth:

[Christ] is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the eucharistic species…He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20) (SC 7) (emphases added).

As Christ is present during the Eucharistic liturgy in all of these forms, it is particularly appropriate, given the underlying logic of the ‘Order of Mass for India,’ that some form of arati should be offered to each of them, and that the most reverential form — the Maharati — should be reserved for the Eucharist itself. We learn from the commentary of Amalorpavadass that this is precisely the case. He explains that there are, in fact, just such ritualized gestures offered to each:

To the Celebrant-President…Pushparati with a tray of flowers (with a burning wick or incense stick place in it) is offered to the priest as he reaches the sanctuary after the bhajan singing (prior to arati he may be given the tilak* with sandal paste and kumkum); [later] the celebrant receives the tray of flowers and does arati to the community, another sign of Jesus Christ; [during the Liturgy of the Word there is] double homage to the Bible…[which] as a container of God’s Word is now given homage with flowers (garlanding) and with incense. Incensing is done by waving it three times in the form of a circle around the Bible. Garlanding a person as a sign of respect and welcome is a typically Indian gesture; [finally, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist] the Maharati or the triple arati of flowers, incense, and fire is done to the Eucharist as the whole tray is lifted up by the celebrant. At the end of the doxology, the community does Panchanga Pranam as a sign of identification with Jesus Christ in his total self-oblation to his Father and his brothers and sisters. The celebrant himself prostrates (Sashtanga Pranam) which is the greatest form of self-surrender and oblation.



Evaluation of and Reflection on Postures, “Actions, Gestures and Bodily Attitudes”:

The use by Indian Christians of traditional customs such as the removal of footwear and rites such as arati may reflect what Rev. Dr. Paul M. Collins, an Anglican priest and Reader in Theology at the University of Chichester, has called “unintentional inculturation.” His discussion of this factor …in relation to worship is inevitably set against the background of a shared cultural and ritual heritage. An instance of such shared heritage in India is manifested in the tradition of greeting visitors or people of particular significance on a given occasion…the use of garlands and flowers to welcome and honour visitors or particular individuals, and also the use of a sacred flame waved in front of such persons, the rite known as aarti.

One of the issues facing the practice of contextualization/inculturation in India is the attribution of some rites to high caste praxis or to those who favour political or religious ‘saffronization.’ Undoubtedly an evaluation of rituals in relation to social standing and power-play is crucial. However…it is an over-simplification to attribute aarti to Brahminical practice. The reception and interpretation of rites and ceremonies from any shared heritage is an intricate and complex undertaking, which may require the discernment of local usage in relation to local or wider power dynamics or other external influences.



There is, without doubt, a wide variety of and significant variance across India in the use of such rites of welcome.

What is important is to recognize that the adoption and/or adaptation of arati by some Catholics is more cultural than religious (though it is certainly appropriate for use in religious contexts) and that, due to its nearly ubiquitous use by Indians across the social spectrum, the rite cannot be ascribed either a high-caste, Brahminical status or attributed to a religio-political agenda of “saffronization”, “Hinduization,” or “Paganization,” Kulanday’s pejoratives notwithstanding.

Whatever objections may be raised against Amalorpavadass’ form of the ‘Order of Mass for India’ (and have been raised by detractors such as Kulanday), one cannot but admire the genuine reverence which such sustained ritualized gestures convincingly convey, even to non-participant observers, let alone the profound meaning they must surely hold for faithful participants and, perhaps above all, for the celebrant himself. Regardless of the Hindu or otherwise non-Christian origins of some ritualized practices adopted and adapted for use in such inculturated liturgies, the ‘language’ of Indian postures, “actions, gestures and bodily attitudes” speaks clearly: Christ is present in the Mass (in multiple ways); Christ is lovingly, adoringly and reverently worshipped because truly, Christ is God. Whereas some post-Vatican II liturgies in the west have devolved into overly-active ‘festivals,’ wherein there is often too little emphasis on solemnity, too little “real [or] actual participation,” and too few opportunities for reverent silence, the spiritual contemplation and proper interiorization promoted by the inculturated Indian Mass developed and disseminated by Amalorpavadass has avoided these pitfalls. On the contrary, the very postures, “actions, gestures and bodily attitudes” thus utilized promote at once a physical relaxation and attentiveness, together with a certain psychological and spiritual quietude and receptivity to the mysteries conveyed in the Mass.

Read Jon Anderson’s paper and my response to it at



The arati and the application of the bindi or tilak go hand-in-hand:

At the
Holy Cross Church, Juhu, in the Archdiocese of Bombay on the occasion of the birthday of parish priest Fr. Lawrence Fernandes, 5th August 2014.



Sedevacantist, Traditionalist as well as Catholic media reported the 1986 incident both with and without the photograph some dating it as February 2, Bombay, others as February 5, Madras. Still others place it at Delhi.


See my report from which I cite certain passages below


(is an example)
(is another)


*There was a discussion in the April 1996 issue of “This Rock” (this answers the question on page 7):

Q: Someone in the schismatic group the Society of St. Pius X told me that when the pope was in India he had his forehead anointed by a Hindu “priestess of Shiva” and that there is a photo to prove it. Is this true?

A: There is a photo of the Pope having his forehead anointed by an Indian woman, but she was a Catholic, not a Hindu priestess! She was giving the Pope a traditional Indian form of greeting known as “Aarti,” which has no more religious significance than a handshake does in Western culture.
A letter dated November 22, 1994, from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications explains the custom and its role in Indian society:
“Indian Catholics . . . use ‘Aarti’ when a child returns home after receiving First Holy Communion and when a newly married couple are received by their respective families. Nowadays, ‘Aarti’ is often performed to greet the principal celebrant at an important liturgical event, as it was on the occasion shown in the photograph. On such occasions, ‘Aarti’ is usually offered by a Catholic married lady and certainly not by a ‘priestess of Shiva’ as has been alleged.”
The letter, by Archbishop John P. Foley*, went on to note:


Use of the ‘Aarti’ ceremonial by Indian Catholics is no more the worship of a heathen deity than is the decoration of a Christmas tree by American Christians a return to the pagan rituals of Northern Europe.”
Your friend in the Society of St. Pius X should check his facts before spreading such malicious gossip about the Holy Father (cf. Acts 23:1-5). He was simply about to say Mass and received the traditional Indian form of greeting for the celebrant. *The original report of Archbishop Foley’s defense is not to be found

(see article immediately below),

(more information):

In the photos produced as “evidence” for the allegation, there is no way of actually SEEING what the mark was. All that can be seen is a woman putting her hand up to the Pope’s forehead. How can this be “evidence” that what was produced at the time was “the mark of Shiva” or anything else at all? Anyway, this event (whatever it was) in no way impinges on the dogma of Papal Infallibility, which means that the Pope is incapable of teaching heresy as dogmatic truth, not that he is incapable of sin, of scandal, or of exercising bad judgement. Furthermore, the burden of proof of any allegation rests on the party making the allegation – not upon the defender of the Pope.


Preparatory to the PASTORAL VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO NEW DELHI on 5-8 November 1999, and LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS celebrated by His Holiness POPE JOHN PAUL II, a document was prepared by Piero Marini, Titular Bishop of Martirano, Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. The document was dated 23 October 1999. The following is a small extract:

“…The Votive Mass of Christ the Light of the World is being celebrated precisely because the whole of India celebrates the Festival of Lights on 7 November. It is a happy coincidence.

“The festival is so called because of the illuminations that form its main attraction. The month of Karttika (the lunar month coming between October and November is the twelfth of the year), the most favourable time and atmosphere in the whole cosmos for a great celebration encompassing God, neighbour and nature in harmony.

“This month marks the end of rains and the beginning of new life; people of all walks of life begin afresh. People have time to build up their divine and human relationship under the benign gaze of nature. In the backdrop of this holistic atmosphere the ancestors of India started the non-sectarian feast of lights to celebrate life and thank God for all his blessings and the righteousness of his dealings with human beings.

“The Christian relevance of this festival of lights may be conceived thus: Jesus, who is the light of the world (John 8:12), by his death-resurrection-ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, transferred us from the grip and Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light (1 Peter 2:9) and made us ‘Children of the light’. Paul says: ‘Live as children of the light’ (Ephesians 5:8).

“The Gospel imperative is therefore: Let your light shine so that all people may glorify God. Jesus says: ‘you are the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14). Christians celebrate this feast to thank God for this wonderful gift

“Adaptations for India:

“The Mass at the Stadium will have three Indian dances. Two will be at the entrance. The first will be a tribal dance leading the priests and bishops to the podium before the arrival of the Holy Father.

“The second will be a prayer dance leading the Cardinals after the arrival of the Pope into the Stadium.

“The third will be an offertory dance leading the persons with the offertory gifts to the altar.

“At the Doxology when the Holy Father takes the chalice and paten with the host, the Aarati, which is a sign of veneration, will be performed by a group of young ladies. The Aarati will consist of the following: Pushpa arati, waving a tray of flowers with deepak (light) in the center and the showering of flower petals; Dhupa Aarati-the homage of incense; Deepa Aarati-the homage of light, waving of camphor fire and the ringing of the bell…”



1. Apparently, the Pope had been misguided by Indian Church leaders about the significance of the application of tilak on one’s forehead inasmuch the same way as Rome had been earlier misguided by them* about the meaning of rituals like the arati as well as other symbols and practices that were eventually permitted in or have found their way into the Indian rite of Mass.

Apparently, the arati was imposed on the faithful of the Indian Church by means of a well-orchestrated fraud.

*A brief extract (From “The Golden Sheaf”, “The Second Publication in the Cardinal Gracias Memorial series – A Collection of articles from The Laity monthly dealing with current ecclesiastical aberrations and written by Indian and international writers of repute” edited by
Dr. A. Deva, published by Elsie Mathias for the [Cardinal Valerian] Gracias Memorial publications of the All India Laity Congress [AILC], released at the Inauguration of the Fifth Annual Convention of the A.I.L.C., May 14, 1980 at Tiruchirapalli):



Notorious 12 Points

By Fr. Peter Lobo

The sad story of the notorious
12 points of inculturation
is too well-known to deserve repetition. Yet I shall summarize it from the letter of
Bishop Gopu of Visakhapatnam
in the New Leader 9-7-78:

The 71 members of CBCI were consulted by post at the introduction of those 12 points into the Liturgy, but only 34 Bishops approved them. Despite the need of having two thirds majority for major decisions like this one, an application was forwarded to Rome on the 15th April 1969 and within 10 days Rome’s approval was obtained, and the 12 points were imposed on the country, says the Bishop; and he adds:

This approval was based on a misunderstanding, even at this late hour this mistake can be corrected.

I would rather say: It must be corrected. The CBCI must acknowledge its mistake and assuage the hurt feelings of millions of the silent Catholics of India by withdrawing altogether the 12 points so craftily introduced.

For details, see and


2. It appears that Catholic Answers/This Rock have committed a colossal blunder.

The “anointing of the forehead” that they refer to is not the welcoming with “Aarti” which they go on to explain, but the application of the tilak or bindi!


3. Furthermore, they and Archbishop Foley are incorrect in their statements that the arati or aratihas no more religious significance than a handshake does in Western culture” and is akin to “the decoration of a Christmas tree” or is areligious. One does not go around performing arati in the manner that Westerners — and Indians too — offer handshakes! Arati is reserved for solemn Hindu religious events!


*But initially it was Rome, on the “recommendation “of a few of the Indian Bishops (others had strongly objected to the proposals) under the leadership of Cardinal (then Archbishop) D. Lourduswamy and his brother Fr. D. Amalorpavadass of the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC), that gave the go ahead to and then encouraged the Indian Church to have the arati included in the liturgy:



5-8 November 1999

IV. The Eucharistic Celebration at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

During this celebration the Holy Father will present to the Catholic Church in Asia the Apostolic Exhortation crowning the work of the Synod of Bishops for Asia. The presence of a number of Cardinals, Bishops and priests concelebrating with the Holy Father will signify the participation of all the particular Churches of the continent. Taking part in the celebration will also be a great number of consecrated persons and lay faithful. […]

Adaptations for India:

The Mass at the Stadium will have three Indian dances. Two win be at the entrance. The first will be a tribal dance leading the priests and bishops to the podium before the arrival of the Holy Father.

The second will be a prayer dance leading the Cardinals after the arrival of the Pope into the Stadium.

The third will be an offertory dance leading the persons with the offertory gifts to the altar.

At the Doxology when the Holy Father takes the chalice and paten with the host, the Aarati, which is a sign of veneration, will be performed by a group of young ladies.

The Aarati will consist of the following: Pushpa arati, waving a tray of flowers with deepak (light) in the center and the showering of flower petals; Dhupa Aarati—the homage of incense; Deepa Aarati—the homage of light, waving of camphor fire and the ringing of the bell.

The two Holy Masses concelebrated by the Synod Fathers at St. Peter’s Basilica were the most significant moments of the Synod.

These Masses were enriched in the spirit of the liturgical reform of Vatican II by the various languages and ritual expressions of Asia. In these celebrations the Particular Churches of Asia expressed their faith, history and tradition through prayer, song, dance, ritual gestures and at the same time they demonstrated their solidarity with the Universal Church, which is manifested by the presence of the Holy Father.






Experiences of renewal in certain Papal Liturgical Celebrations

#3.5 More recently, for the Eucharistic celebration for the beatification of three great missionaries on 5 October 2003, the following cultural elements were inserted: members of the faithful from different parts of the world accompanied the Book of the Gospels with flowers and incense; as a sign of veneration for the Gospel a ceremonial umbrella was used, typical of the culture of various Asian countries and some regions of Africa; following the proclamation of the Gospel groups of the faithful representing different regions of the world venerated the Book of the Gospels in a way typical of their particular culture; at the presentation of the gifts, the offerings for the sacrifice were carried to the Holy Father in the traditional African fashion; and lastly, the sung Amen following the doxology at the end of the Eucharistic prayer was accompanied by a liturgical rite, the “Arati”, which is part of Indian culture. (We shall shortly see that arati is not ‘Indian’ but ‘Hindu’ –Michael)

February 2, 2004

Titular Archbishop of Martirano
Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations


Church Revolution in Pictures



New Delhi, India – November 7, 1999 – Visit of Pope John Paul II
At a Mass celebrated at Nehru Stadium, Indian young women bringing the Offertory gifts perform a dance before a large audience.


Indian music and dance mark Papal Mass in Delhi

November 8, 1999

Songs and dances reflecting India’s rich cultural heritage provided a backdrop to the Mass which Pope John Paul II celebrated with 60,000 people on the third day of his visit to India.

Before the Mass a group of 60 young women danced to a Sadri-tribal-language song as they led 180 bishops, about 800 priests and altar servers to the specially designed dais at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Nov. 7.

The dancers, dressed in cream-colored saris with red borders and red blouses, and wearing white beads around their necks, swayed their hands to the rhythm of drums and singing of the choir.

Cheers from the crowd greeted the pope when he arrived at 9 a.m., while the choir sang the papal anthem.

The pope circled the stadium in the “pope mobile” for about 15 minutes, occasionally raising his hand and waving to the crowd.

Forty young women performing a semi-classical dance then led cardinals of the papal delegation, archbishops and more altar servers to the dais.

The dancers, who wore rose, crimson and blue saris with silver-gray blouses, continued to perform as the pope made his way up to the altar using a special elevator behind the dais.

Once seated the pope held a candle from which five women lighted their candles and then lit a five-wicked Indian brass lamp in front of the altar.

The Scripture readings were in Hindi and English. Three nuns offered garlands and flowers to honor the Book of Scriptures and the lectern before a deacon read the Gospel.


The pope then began his 20-minute homily by referring to Diwali (the festival of lights), declaring that “we too exult in the light and bear witness to the one who is the true light that enlightens every man.”

He said that the next millennium will “witness a great harvest of faith in this vast continent.” He described the apostolic exhortation “Church in Asia” (Ecclesia in Asia) as “a guide for their spiritual and pastoral life.”

The pope, who was visibly tired, held the text of his talk with shaking hands, and read slowly.

Men and women in their national dress then read the prayers of the faithful in seven Asian languages — Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese.

During the offertory which followed, six Bharatanatyam classical Indian dancers led 10 people from different parts of Asia for the offering of gifts.

During the doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, seven white-clad young nuns performed “arati,” a sign of veneration with light, camphor, flowers and incense, to the accompaniment of a Tamil spiritual song.

After the concluding prayer, the pope led the Angelus and a prayer to Mary. Then he greeted the people in Hindi: “Bharat ko ashirbad, Shanti” (blessings to India, peace).

Finally, he handed over the text of “Ecclesia in Asia” to 32 representatives of local Asian Churches. The representatives showed the documents to the congregation, who signaled acceptance of the post-synodal exhortation with a sung acclamation and applause.

The pope concluded the ceremony by blessing the congregation. A planned second circuit of the stadium in the pope mobile was canceled.

See the Traditionalist report with picture above. It incorrectly says, “women bringing the Offertory gifts perform a dance” but the picture shows the arati being performed. The “Bharatanatyam classical Indian dancers” may have led the Offertory procession and not performed during the Holy Mass proper. The other dancers performed tribal dances preceding and outside of the liturgy itself.


‘Bharat ko ashirwad aur shanti’

November 7, 1999

Interview given by Fr. Pravin Fernandes, coordinator, Catholic Communications Centre of the Archdiocese of Bombay on the Pope’s visit: “Another symbolic gesture of worship to Jesus Christ present in the form of bread and wine is the Indian aarti. We have a tray decorated with flowers, incense sticks and lamps raised in a circular motion in praise.


V. Venkatesan, in The Hindu newspaper group’s “Frontline” magazine, November 13, 1999, reported, “A huge Indian brass lamp stood in the foreground, while bright diyas (earthen lamps) painted on the rising stage decorated the terraced sanctuary. A group of tribal men and women from Ranchi danced to folk tunes as they ushered in the procession of priests and bishops. Bishops of the Oriental rites lent a special colour to the solemn ranks of the clergy.

Other Indian characteristics included the singing of a Tamil devotional song and an Aarti ceremony.

Source: The Pope in India


Whenever the Church mentions arati, they must say “Indian
arati” or “part of Indian culture“. It is NOT. It is very much Hindu as we shall see from Hindu sources.


The arati has indeed been permitted by the Vatican directive Prot. N. 802/69 of April 25, 1969 (as one of The Twelve Points of Adaptation) in the Indian Rite Mass, that permission having been fraudulently extracted from Rome by a coterie of Indian bishops as is well recorded by lay men, priests and Bishops of the time.


CBCI Commission for Social Communication

Rowena Maria Satur, Chennai

Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 9:01 PM Subject: Info you wanted
(All emphases theirs):

1. The posture during Mass, both for the priests and the faithful, may be adapted to the local usage, that is, sitting on the floor, standing and the like; footwear may be removed also.

2. Genuflections may be replaced by the profound bow with the anjali hasta.

3. A panchanga pranam by both priests and faithful can take place before the liturgy of the Word, as part of the penitential rite, and at the conclusion of the anaphora.

4. Kissing of objects may be adapted to local custom, that is, touching the object with one’s fingers or palm of one’s hands and bringing the hands to one’s eyes or forehead.

5. The kiss of peace could be given by the exchange of the anjali hasta and/or the placing of the hands of the giver between the hands of the recipient.

6. Incense could be made more use of in liturgical services. The receptacle could be the simple incense bowl with handle.

7. The vestments could be simplified. A single tunic-type chasuble with a stole (angavastra) could replace the traditional vestments of the Roman rite. Samples of this change are to be forwarded to the “Consilium”.




8. The corporal could be replaced by a tray (thali or thamboola thattu) of fitting material.

9. Oil lamps could be used instead of candles.

The preparatory rite of the Mass may include:

the presentation of gifts; the welcome of the celebrant in an Indian way, e.g. with a single arati, washing of hands, etc.; the lighting of the lamp; the greetings of peace among the faithful in sign of mutual reconciliation.

11. In the “Oratio fidelium” some spontaneity may be permitted both with regard to its structure and the formulation of the intentions. The universal aspect of the Church, however, should not be left in oblivion.

12. In the Offertory rite, and at the conclusion of the Anaphora the Indian form of worship may be integrated, that is, double or triple arati
of flowers, and/or incense and/or light.


EXTRACTS from the book “The Paganized Catholic Church in India” by Victor J.F. Kulanday, 1985:


The National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre arranged a course on the New Code of Canon Law with reference to Christian life from 30th May to 9th June, 1984. There were 65 participants: 11 priests, 2 clerics, 39 sisters, 13 lay people.

His Grace Archbishop Arockiasamy of Bangalore was present at the inaugural session. In his address he stressed the need of the Law to build up a more human Christian community.

There were a number of speakers among who were Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadass, Fr. Paul Puthanangady S.D.B., and Fr. George Lobo, S.J.

I am a young priest in my early thirties, returned recently from Rome after my training and my Ordination. This was my first course which I attended at the NBCLC about which I had heard so much- I went there with an open mind. If I were to sum up my impressions, I would just put them in one word- shock. And the readers would judge from what I am going to report whether my ‘SHOCK’ is justified or not. I will first give a number of practices which I witnessed and then many of the views I heard.


Holy Mass –
Four times we had what is known as the Indian Mass. When asked to show the permission for that the Director showed us the well-known approval of the 12 points. But what we were actually treated to was much more than that. The Mass was said sitting on the floor throughout, whereas the official interpretation appended to the 12 points in Notitiae and later on confirmed in a reply to a query from the Archbishop of Madurai says that the sitting posture is permitted only for the liturgy of the Word -all the more so since in non-Christian religions in India the sacrifice is offered always standing.

At times the first reading was taken from the ‘Vedas’. Besides being against the strict prohibition issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Divine Worship in the famous letter of Cardinal Knox to the CBCI in 1974, this goes against the clear condemnation by the Instruction of 1970 and Inaestimabile Donum of 1980.

To refresh our memory, I quote from both Documents:-

1. Instruction 1970: “Sacred Scripture above all the texts used in the liturgical assembly, enjoys a special dignity: in the reading God speaks to his people, and Christ present in his Word, announces the Good News of the Gospel. Therefore:

(a) The Liturgy of the Word should be conducted with the greatest reverence. Other readings, from past or present Sacred or profane authors’ may never be substituted for the Word of God”.

2. Inaestimabile Donum: “It would be A SERIOUS ABUSE to replace the Word of God with the word of man’ no matter who the author may be”

During the Elevation always the female sex would come forward near the altar to swing the arati. Whatever be its legality by reason of the 12 points, it is highly regrettable. It is performed at the Most Solemn moment of the Sacrifice of the Mass (Consecration) and thus distracts the participants from the ‘Mystery Of The Faith’ to the swings of the women ‘aratiwalas’
hiding in this manner the view of the consecrated Host and Chalice – the purpose of the Elevation’.

Communion – As we know, Eucharistic self-service is not permitted in India and nowhere in the world. Yet at the Indian Mass a tray with particles and the Chalice are passed round to all the participants who help themselves to Communion. ‘Om‘ and the ‘Sanskrit’ hymns are used. The theological objections raised against ‘OM’ by the Sacred Congregation of the Oriental Churches apparently cut no ice with the theologians of the NBCLC.

Sun Worship

We were asked to participate in what is known as Surya Namasakara (Sun Worship). All were asked to sit on the floor. Fr. Paul Puthanangady was the commentator, telling us: ‘Jesus is coming, He is filling the world’ and we were asked to bow our heads in the direction of the sun. I was so shocked, that I could not stand it anymore, as I recollected that sun worship is a pagan practice-whatever may be the Christian interpretation put on it by NBCLC. So I walked out from the sunrise meditation. I cannot say what followed, since I was not present for the rest.

Divine Office – During the Divine Office the short reading was either from the Holy Bible or from the ‘Vedas’, against the express prohibition from Rome (Cf. Breviary, General Instructio, m.m. 140,162).


On the TWELVE POINTS OF ADAPTATION, Victor Kulanday wrote:

Point Ten bristles with problems.

a) Presentation of gifts. This is purely an innovation, either Roman or Indian. It does not specify what gifts are to be presented and by whom.


b) Welcome to the celebrant in an Indian way with a single arati, washing of hands. Here we have arati a purely Hindu ceremony introduced.

Walker’s Hindu World Volume II (London 1968) informs us that object of the arati rite is to please the goddess with bright lights and colours and also to counter act the evil eye, (p. 609).

Dubois-Beauchamp, in their famous Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, Volume l, Oxford 1897, state that arati is one of the commonest religious practices of the Hindus. It is performed by married women and courtesans; the object is to counteract the influence of the evil eye and any ill-effects arising from the jealous and spiteful looks of ill-intentioned persons.

The use of this Hindu ceremony at the beginning of Mass will give the impression that a pagan puja (religious ritual) is to commence. To introduce such a patently Hindu rite in Catholic liturgy and worship is clearly a deliberate move to Hinduise the Church. No one can claim or prove that arati is a cultural ritual because ONLY Hindus (no other religious group in India) resort to this ceremony. Archbishop Bugnini accepts this as one of the 12 Points totally ignorant of what it signifies but fully trusting Archbishop Lourduswamy who presented the 12 Points to him for approval.

c) The lighting of the lamp.

Here a typical Hindu temple lamp is used and the wicks are not only lighted but the priest walks round the lamp and then worships the burning wicks. Yet another Hindu ritual based on fire worship. Agni, fire, is a God, and this pantheistic idea is through C of the point no.10 of the approved 12 Points accepted by the Catholic Church. This also has nothing to do with Indian culture but is purely a Hindu religious rite.

d) Greeting of peace among the faithful is a sign of mutual reconciliation. No type of greeting is specified and in practice anjali hasta is normally used.


Point 12: The final point reemphasizes that at offertory and at the conclusion of the Anaphora “(the Indian form of worship” with arati may be integrated.

Archbishop Lourduswamy and his accomplices deliberately use the word “Indian” where “Hindu should be used in truth and honesty. But to hoodwink Vatican the word “Indian” is used as the use of the word “Hindu” would certainly have raised even Bugnini’s freemason eye-brows. As already pointed out arati is NOT an Indian cultural ceremony but is purely a Hindu ritual.

Recently a new Archbishop was consecrated for the Archdiocese of Madurai in South India. After the dignified consecration ceremonies were over, a woman performed arati for the new Archbishop to the surprise of many and the amusement of the Hindus. TV coverage of the event gave added publicity to the incorporation of Hindu rituals in a solemn Catholic religious ceremony. The excuse of the Hinduisers is to erase the so-called western image of the Church. In Hinduism women are never allowed inside the sacred precincts of the altar. By allowing women entry into the sacred area, the Hinduisation or Indianisation is totally lost and the orthodox Indian only sees western influences in the act.
So, the purpose of giving a Hindu touch is negatived because Hindu women do not perform arati to the Brahmin pujari (priest) inside the sanctum sanctorum. As already pointed out, Hinduisation of the Church liturgy not only causes confusion to the Catholics but provides material for the Hindus to laugh at our aping their ceremonies and that in a wrong manner. Like a frog in a well the Catholic Hinduiser is not aware of it or pretends not to so long as his final goal of Hinduising the Church can be achieved and a church of India duly established.

The official explanations given on the Twelve Points presented by the chairman of the Liturgy Commission of the Bishops Conference of ‘India to the Holy See and our comments on them can help the readers to realise that these Points cannot in any way enhance the beauty and the spiritual intensity of the liturgy. Far from it. Their use in liturgy does give the Mass the look of a pagan ceremony. They add confusion to an already confused and scandalised congregation. They do not in any way Indianise the church but very effectively help to paganise – Hinduise her.


It should be very clear from the above analysis that the Twelve Points

1) Did not get a two third majority support from the bishops of India;

2) The unconventional system of consultation by mail on a matter of vital importance to the liturgy of the liturgy of the church reveals the haste with which the whole opinion poll was rushed through. The bishops were asked to return the ballot papers within two days!

Further, the detailed explanations on the various points given by us should convince anyone with an open mind that the liturgy was not undergoing inculturation’ or Indianisation but was being very effectively Hinduised. No one with even an elementary knowledge of Indian culture and Hinduism can deny that anjali hasta is NOT the salutation to God Almighty. Also the lighting of the temple lamp and venerating the burning wicks are not a part of the country’s culture but an integral part of Hindu worship of the fire God, Agni.

The late Bishop Ignatius Gopu of Visakhapatnam in the columns of The New Leader, a Catholic weekly, tried to prick the conscience of the Bishops of India on June 22, 1978, and wrote: For any major decision, a two-thirds majority of the house is needed. In this case, this was clearly lacking. Yet an approval was obtained from Rome and the 12 points were imposed on the country. This approval was based on a misunderstanding and it continues to be implemented. Even at this late hour this mistake may be corrected.

Please note that the ballot on such a major liturgical resolution was participated only by 50 bishops, 20 refrained from sending back the papers. This is tantamount to 2o bishops boycotting the poll for various reasons. Against this background the Bishops conference of India permitting Archbishop Lourduswamy to present the Twelve points to Rome for approval only proves the determination of the inner cabal to get going with the Hinduisation of the liturgy come hell or high water.



It must be said to the credit of the laity that there were bold and dedicated Catholics who were shocked at the Hinduisation of the liturgy. It has to be recorded that the Catholic Association of Bengal, Calcutta wrote protest letters to Rome.

In a reply to Mr. L.G. Stuart, Honorary Secretary of the Catholic Association of Bengal, Calcutta the Sacred Congregation of Rites (Prot. No. 256/70, dated July 30, 1970) confirmed the validity of the procedure and of the decision stating:

“The resolution of the Catholic Association of Bengal regarding the adaptations of the Mass in India have been carefully considered by this Congregation. At the same time the results of recent meetings of the Episcopal Conference of India in this regard have also been studied. In the view of the Indian Hierarchy these adaptations represent reasonable “Indianisation” and not “Hinduisation”. The adaptations in question, having been considered and reconsidered, were approved by a large majority of the Hierarchy of India. This Sacred Congregation, having followed the matter closely, accepted this judgement of the Indian Episcopal Conference”.

Not satisfied with this answer Mr. L.G. Stuart and Mrs. T. Williams of the same Catholic Association of Bengal wrote again raising further objections and requesting afresh re-consideration. To this the Sacred Congregation of Rites replied on the 16th October, 1970 (Prot. No. 3397/70), dated 17th November 1970).

“This congregation, after due enquiry, has found no cause to cast doubts upon the legality and wisdom of the CBCI in presenting for our approval the facultative adaptations promulgated in the Epistole “Consilii and excequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia” (Prot. No. 802/69). We are satisfied that the introduction of this adaptation together with the dispositions of the episcopal conference in this matter, will not endanger the correct understanding of the liturgy or threaten the tenets of Catholic faith”.

Rome has to trust the Bishops. If the Bishops do not present the correct picture or give wrong information, Rome cannot be held responsible. Rome’s action was based on the reports and opinion of the Bishops Conference of India. Therefore Rome accepted the Twelve Points as reasonable “Indianisation” and not “Hinduisation”. The onus of thus misguiding Rome and initiating the Hinduisation of the liturgy clearly falls on the shoulders of the Bishops Conference which gave the green signal and support to Archbishop Lourduswamy to manipulate and succeed with their plan of Hinduisation of the Church.

I must confess that as a journalist living and working in India’s capital New Delhi, for over four decades I have had the opportunity to come in close contact with top political leaders, party whips and policy makers. I have also watched political activities within charmed circles when certain national crises took place – how politicians changed positions, how they to acquire strength, lied, cheated and fought and won their ultimate goals. When compared with all the hurly – burly of politics and the techniques used by the politician. I am ashamed to state that the dubious methods, the strategy, the machinations so cleverly resorted to by the Bishops Cabal equals that of the professional politicians. Why should men of God with mitre and crosier resort to mundane tactics in ecclesiastical and spiritual matters is very hard to say. But when one hears of communists and Freemasons operating at very high levels, one has to face the cruelty of life’s paradoxes.

Only the good Lord can save us from Satan’s smoke destroying the vision of ecclesiastical leaders who misguide the faithful.

With the Twelve Points fully approved by the Holy See, the Hinduisation process was effectively launched in India. The next obvious step was to extend the process to all the crucial areas of spiritual life. A comprehensive plan was needed to get the desired result – the total Hinduisation of the Church.


Chapter II


…These Twelve Points were explained in an “Official Commentary” by the National Centre of the Bishops Conference of India (CBCI). It is note-worthy that these Points which completely change the spirit and content of the Holy Mass are termed only as
“the first step towards adaptation” and is described as “modest”. The notes warn that “the faithful must be shown that we are by no means bringing Hinduism into our Churches, but only adapting the Indian peoples own way of expressing reverence and worship to God the Father and to Our Lord Jesus Christ”. The very explanation that they are not Hinduising is the act of a guilty conscience…


Chapter IV


Totally Pagan Melodrama

The Twelve Points which received Rome’s approval were for implementation in the Holy Mass. A completely new type of mass was fabricated which the Hinduisers thought gives the sacrifice an Indian look though it is at the cost of throwing, overboard all that is sacred to the Faith… This is the Mass which Archbishop Lourduswamy performed in Rome to impress Vatican VIPs that by squatting on the floor and chanting in Sanskrit the Mass is Indianised… Below, following the official Text of the Hinduised Mass and the official commentary on it, I shall step by step, explain the meaning and implication of the mantras (magic words) verses, rites, and rituals…

After the commentary the celebrant who is termed as a “sign of Jesus” is now given a welcome by two members of the congregation with the purely Hindu ritual of arati. For us believers the priest acts in persona Christi; he is “another Christ”, alter Christus. But in the Hinduised Mass he is ONLY a “sign of Jesus”.

The celebrant then takes the tray from the two and performs arati to the congregation. This is cent per cent anti-Indian as no pujari (priest) ever offers arati to the congregation. This is contrary to the custom of the land and its culture. This act of the celebrant is purely an innovation of the paganisers and is contrary to Indian cultural or religious customs…





All the rituals introduced in the Indian Mass are by themselves meaningless from the Catholic point of view. Water is blessed with a pagan gesture. NOWHERE in this mass is the sign of the Cross ever used…

With OM, arati, anjali hasta, abhayamandra, various mantras, plus Sanskrit it is obvious that the Mass is saturated with Hindu language, rites, rituals and superstitions which have NEVER been used in the Church in India until the Bishops Conference founded the National Center in Bangalore and organized a Church in India Seminar to plan the paganisation of the Church.


Appendix – VI

THE “INDIAN MASS” – An Example of Interreligious Syncretism

By Prof. Dr. Fr. J.P.M. van der Ploeg O. P. Nijmegen University, Holland

In the “commentary” the celebrant is called “a sign” of Christ. No! If he is a Catholic priest, he acts in the person of Christ (a doctrine denied by Protestantism), which is more than being only a sign. The celebrant is greeted with arati (the waving of a lightened lamp before his face). Walker’s Hindu World, Vol. II (London 1968) informs, us that “the object of the arati rite is to please the deity with bright lights and colours and also to counteract the evil eye” (p. 609). Dubois-Beauchamp, in their famous Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, Vol. 1, Oxford 1897, state that arati is one of the commonest religious practices of the Hindu’s. It is performed by married women and courtesans; the object is to counteract the influence of the evil eye and any ill-effects arising from the jealous and spiteful looks of ill-intentioned persons. With this intention, it is performed over persons of high rank or distinguished persons, over elephants, horses, domestic animals, idols, Therefore, arati, used at the beginning of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is apt to create the impression that a pagan ceremony is to follow. This impression is strengthened by what follows immediately…


An EXTRACT from “The Golden Sheaf”, “The Second Publication in the Cardinal Gracias Memorial series – A Collection of articles from The Laity monthly dealing with current ecclesiastical aberrations and written by Indian and international writers of repute” edited by
Dr. A. Deva, published by Elsie Mathias for the [Cardinal Valerian] Gracias Memorial publications of the ALL INDIA LAITY CONGRESS [AILC], released at the Inauguration of the Fifth Annual Convention of the A.I.L.C., May 14, 1980 at Tiruchirapalli.

Liturgy and Liturgical Aberrations

By Prof. Dr. Fr. J. P. M. van der Ploeg, O. P. Nijmegen University, Holland

Fr. Amalorpavadass and others advocate also the taking over of Hindu religious ritual, language, expressions, ideas, objects, so the “Indian Mass” begins with the ceremony of arati, a Hindu ritual formerly performed by married women and courtesans to counter-act the influence of the evil-eye and the looks of ill-intentioned persons.

“Indianising yes, Hinduising no” was rightly written in this journal (The Laity). Taking over ceremonies from a non-Christian religion is certainly blame-worthy if the reason is to minimise existing religious differences. This would not be honest nor would it be fair to the votaries of other religions to which these ceremonies etc. lawfully belong and in which they have their full meaning.

Indifferentism (“all religions amount to the same”) cannot be suggested and promoted without endangering the faith or making it disappear.

For those who are already true and convinced Christians and Catholics, there is no need at all to “Hinduise” the liturgy, to say the least. Will Hindus be attracted by it, so that conversions are facilitated? It is really difficult to see that those who clearly perceive the profound and essential difference between Christianity and Hindu religion will more easily become Christians because of some minor concessions. I do not feel competent to say more. One must always keep in mind that Christianity is not and can never be a national religion; it is not even international but supra-national.


An EXTRACT from literature of the Shantivanam, Saccidananda Ashram, a lynch pin of the heretical Catholic Ashrams movement (see

The community meets for common prayer thrice a day, in the morning after meditation when the prayer is followed by celebration of the Holy Eucharist, at midday and in the evening. At our prayer we have readings from the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita
as well as from Tamil classics and other Scriptures together with psalms and readings from the Bible, and we make use of Sanskrit and Tamil songs (bhajans) accompanied by drums and cymbals.

We also make use of arati’ waving of lights and other Indian customs which are now generally accepted in the Church in India. In this way we hope to assist in the growth of an Indian liturgy according to the mind of the church today. The ashram seeks to be a place of meeting for Hindus and Christians and people of all religions or none, who are genuinely seeking God.


The following collated information on the arati is arranged in chronological order till page 51:

Ecumenical Ashram helps rediscover India’s spiritual heritage

Bombay, India, October 22, 1990




Among India’s many Christian ashrams, the Christa Prema Seva Ashram (CPS ashram) in Pune, western India, stands out as an experiment in ecumenism. Most Indian ashrams (residential religious communities) are associated with Hindu religious traditions, where a guru (religious teacher) gathers around himself a community for prayer and asceticism.”

Prayer sessions at the ashram include chanting of verses from the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita (popular Hindu Scriptures), meditation on verses from the Bible and the singing of “bhajans” (devotional songs) in Sanskrit and other Indian languages.

The ashramites squat on the floor for prayers, meals and meetings and the ashram diet is vegetarian. “The ashram aims to rediscover the original wisdom experienced by saints and mystics of all religions and clarify them to seekers of the present times,” CPS ashram directress Sacred Heart Sister
Sara Grant told UCA News. “We also want to develop a purely indigenous life that is specific to Indian culture,” she said, adding that the ashram functions as a center for meditation, prayer, and study of the traditions of major religions in the light of Christian heritage. “Christ is not one who comes to destroy other faiths … but to fulfil our inner spiritual quest,” asserted Sister Grant, an Indologist, who specializes in the Advaitic philosophy of Shankaracharya, the Indian philosopher-saint. A day in the ashram begins with silent meditation and morning praises with “arati” (an Indian ritual of worship with lamps and flowers) followed by Mass.

At noon too there is meditation and “arati” and, in the evening, singing of songs and hymns from the poet-saints of Maharashtra, the ashram’s home state. Night prayer includes short scripture reading and intercessory prayers.

Though CPS ashram has no rigid rules and norms, “healthy conventions set the basic norms that make a community alive,” Sister Grant said. Each resident contributes to the daily chores of the ashram “according to each one’s talent and energy,” she added. People from different faiths now meet at CPS ashram to share experiences. The ashram also holds regular courses on yoga and other Indian methods of meditation and prayer.


Interfaith ashram eases Indian Christians’ alienation

Pune, India, November 24, 1992

An ecumenical center founded 65 years ago by an Anglican priest friend of Mahatma Gandhi is now an interfaith ashram that strives to lessen Christians’ socio-cultural alienation in India. Hindus join Catholics and Protestants in shared prayer and reflection aimed at overcoming what the “Christa Prema Seva Ashram” (CPSA, ashram for Christ’s loving service) sees as the continuing challenge of religious alienation in India. This alienation began when Catholic and Protestant missioners led converts to reject cultural and family ties and adopt Western ways of eating, dressing and worship to preserve Indian Christians in their new faith.

Such policies led to Christians being seen by other citizens as not fully Indian. Saddened by this, Anglican priest Father Jack Winslow, a friend of Gandhi, opened a Christian ashram in the western Indian city of Pune in 1927. Believing that the Gospel must be lived out in the local culture and that the Holy Spirit is at work in all religious traditions, the Anglican priest invited English and Indian believers of all faiths to live an Indian lifestyle. The community drew on non-Christian Scriptures for inspiration and for a life of worship and prayer congenial to India’s “religious genius.” Often visited by Gandhi, the ashram supported the Indian independence struggle through prayer, sympathy and direct action.

The original community was closed in the 1960s, but reopened in 1972 when ashram trustees invited two Pune-based women’s religious groups — the Saint Mary the Virgin of Wantage congregation and the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus — to re-establish it as an ecumenical venture.

This ecumenical venture adopted Father Winslow’s charter, but added teachings from the Second Vatican Council and contemporary theological reflections. They also followed guidelines set by French Benedictine monk
Henri Le Saux (Swami Abhishiktananda) who, with a Hindu scholar, joined the ashram 1972.

The ashram’s multireligious character gives community members a unique opportunity for deep sharing with 20 to 30 persons of other faiths, including some Hindus who are long-term members.

Ashramites have contact with Hindu ashrams throughout India, and are recognized as members of the ashram fraternity.

Christa Prema Seva Ashram is also involved with Church and non-Christian religious groups elsewhere in the world, especially in Asia. A poster at the CPSA ashram entrance reads: “The Guru of this ashram is the risen Christ, present among us by his Spirit and by Word and Sacrament.” The ashram seeks better understanding of Christ’s relation to the self-communication of God in and through the world’s great spiritual traditions.

The ashramites spend the day in Eucharist, meditation, “arati” (floral offerings) and “satsang” (group singing of devotional songs). A Hindu who sat with ashramites at prayer said: “I love to sit with you here — one is conscious of a great presence binding you all powerfully together.”

Zen meditators sitting in chapel found “the vibes” there “terrific.”

A Hindu ascetic, up at 4:00 a.m. daily, sat motionless for more than two hours in the presence of the Lord. After one day he admitted experiencing “a tremendous presence — an immense sanctity” in the chapel, which he said did not occur elsewhere.

Some more traditional Christians find the ashram an anomaly, and have threatened ashramites with “hell fire” for diluting the Gospel. Seeing a print of the “Ardhnari” (the Hindu destroyer god Siva as half-man half-woman), a visitor predicted that ashramites are “going straight to hell.” Two theology students refused tea from the ashram, because it emanated from a den of idolaters.
But ashramites believe that Indian Christians can find salvation only in their own culture and through genuine attempts to grow together to break walls of misunderstanding.




Yoga-A Path to God?

By Louis Hughes, OP, Mercier Press, 1997 (This Dominican priest is a promoter of Hindu yoga)


In general the Siddha Yoga ashrams (of Swami Muktananda*) are busy centres of spirituality with exceptionally well organised programmes of worship. During a typical service, as the congregation take their places, the stage is set by some gently chanted mantras led by a small choir backed up by an Indian music ensemble. During the singing of the opening hymn (the Hindi words of which are displayed on a large screen), a woman wearing a sari processes up the aisle with a tray containing flowers, a lighted flame and smoking incense sticks. She moves the tray slowly in a circular motion in front of the throne. This gesture of worship is termed arati and is universal in Hindu temple worship.



The ashram’s chapel is intended to remind one of a Hindu temple. Its cave-like sanctuary opens out into a forest of stone pillars that seem to merge into the nearby trees. At the times of prayer saffron-clad monks and other worshippers sit cross-legged on the floor. Here the daily Indian-rite Eucharist is celebrated with Sanskrit chants to the accompaniment of Indian musical instruments such as sitar and tabla. Extracts from the Vedas, Upanishads, Sufi and Buddhist mystics, as well as Biblical readings, are incorporated into the Church’s Morning and Evening liturgies. All the Services are rich in symbolism whose origins are Hindu rather than Christian:
(the slow circular movement of lighted camphor) before the Blessed Sacrament, chanting of the sacred syllable Om
and the placing of tilak, coloured powder or paste on the worshippers’ foreheads as a sign of welcome. There are two one-hour meditation periods daily, coinciding with dawn and sunset.



In his 1973 book Godmen of India, Peter Brent says of tantric yogi Muktananda‘s ashram: The weird behaviour of many at the chanting and the arati
made me feel that here it was psychic rather than spiritual powers that were at work. Many would claim however that it was the Kundalini working; for it is believed that merely by the grace of the guru (guru kripa) and without any sadhana or spiritual discipline, it is possible to awaken the kundalini shakti or serpent power.


What’s in a word?

By Eddie Russell FMI, September 23, 1998

The John Main/Laurence Freeman World Community for Christian Meditation are closely associated with Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB and his spiritual adultery and recommend his works to their members. Not only that, both Griffiths and Freeman are real pals with the Dalai Lama
who is doing a marvelous job of Buddhising the world and, through these priests and their nuns – the Catholic Church. Do not underestimate the impact of all this as these pictures show. 


Fr. Bede Griffiths offers
at a celebration honoring ashram founders Fr. Le Saux and Fr. Jules Monchanin


Looking for Christ through the Vedas.

Bishop Thomas Dabre (the then Bishop of Vasai diocese, and Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI) tells Ashley D’Mello how the study of the Vedas helped his understanding of Christianity

The New Leader, February 1-15, 2003

Q. The inculturation movement was strong in India a decade ago. Has it received a setback in recent years?

A. In India, Thomas Stephen, Robert de Nobili, Britto, Kalicharan Banerjee, Rev. N.V. Tilak, Pandita Ramabhai and others spearheaded the movement for Inculturation. Many sections of the Church were perhaps not informed and not prepared enough to appreciate the significance of their work and so they remained admired but unimitated heroes. However the history of the church indicates that attempts have always been made sometimes successful, sometimes not so successful, to promote inculturation. The Vatican Council II (1962-1965) again committed itself to underline the need for inculturation. Thirty seven years later it is felt that not sufficient work has been done in the area of inculturation.




However in India, Indian values like simplicity, renunciation, silence, respect for elders, family values, as well as indigenous literature, customs and traditions are being increasingly adopted by the Church. Is it not a matter of patriotic pride for us that prayer and worship is offered in the current spoken languages of the faithful across the country? So I could say that the church in India has realised the urgent need for inculturation.

Q. What has been the contribution of Vasai to inculturation?

A. Vasai has a Christian population of 120,000 …This community has preserved the local Marathi language as the means of prayer and communication… Jesus is depicted in Indian mudras in pictures and poses. Also, the arati, the use of the Indian shawl, deepa prajwalan, bhajans, and Indian musical instruments are used in community worship. Vasai has 10,000 tribal Catholics. We are promoting their art, their traditions and their customs too. Of course, we too have had to deal with a lot of reluctance on the part of people who identify inculturation with Hinduisation* and feel that it’s a compromise with orthodoxy. Those of us who are active promoters of inculturation have to carry on a patient dialogue with them.



The bold type in the first question/answer refers to indigenisation of CULTURE, in the second question it refers to elements of WORSHIP! The line between the two is so thin that one is unaware when one makes the transition from Indian culture to Hindu worship. And a Bishop of the Doctrinal Commission has to learn about Christ through the Vedas! Poor us!!


Seminarians, nuns, seek spirituality at Hindu centers
By Arulanandam Elango, December 4, 1998

Rishikesh, India – Some Catholic theology students in India have found exposure to Hindu spirituality helpful in their search for God and efforts to serve humanity. 
Visiting Hindu pilgrimage centers has “helped me live asceticism and understand Hindu spiritual heritage,” said
Gilbert Barla, a Jesuit seminarian of Delhi’s Vidyajyoti (light of knowledge) theologate.  
He was among 29 first-year theology students who toured Rishikesh (abode of sages) and Haridwar (door of the gods), Hindu centers in northern India, as part of a course on modern Hinduism.
In evaluating their tour the students said that the Hindu pilgrimage centers have “a lot to contribute and complement the Christian faith.” Jesuit Father T.K. John, who guided them, said such visits help his students gain “first-hand knowledge of ashram (hermit) life.” 
Agreeing, Father George Gispert-Sauch, another Indologist at Vidyajyoti, said such visits enhance the students’ “desire to know God and serve the community and also foster an inner urge for liberation.”
Charity of Jesus and Mary Sister Joseph Rose, another student, said the Oct.31-Nov. 1 tour taught the students “the meaning of renunciation, inner peace and freedom, meditation and Indian spirituality.”
Joji Linga Reddy, a Jesuit seminarian, said the pilgrimage helped him understand differences between Hindu and Christian worship. “Hindus give importance to individual worship while Catholics stress common worship such as Mass and community prayers,” he said.
What impressed St. Anne Luzern Sister Gladys
was the “maha arati” (grand floral and lamp offering) at Haridwar. Some 10,000 people attended the 6 p.m. ritual on the Ganges riverbank Nov. 1 during the students’ visit.
After the 15-minute ceremony people floated wicker baskets containing tiny oil lamps surrounded with flowers on Hinduism’s holiest river as a symbol of their union with water, an element in nature.
Providence Sister Anastasia Lakra said the ceremony helped her feel united with others “irrespective of caste, color and faith.” 
Sacred Heart Sister Vandana Mataji, who has lived 27 years at Rishikesh, said many Christians from the West visit Hindu centers seeking solace since
they are “fed up” with the Church and its Sacraments. Christians from the West are seeking spirituality, not religion, and they find it in India, she said. A saffron sari-clad Hindu Brahmin high-caste convert to Catholicism, who lives with another nun and some disciples in a house near the Ganges, she said that people attain spirituality “only through inner silence and peace, and not by mere reading and reflection.” She expressed happiness that Catholic seminarians had found the tour meaningful, but she wondered what they could learn in three days.
She was also happy with seminarians of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), an indigenous congregation of the Syro-Malabar Church, who spent three months in Rishikesh.
CMI Father K. Peter said the stay helps his theology students become better Religious. “They live with gurus, listen and watch their life, (and) the experience brings attitudinal and behavioral changes among them,” he said.
CMI Father Augusthy Keemattam said students learn “mauna” (silence), fasting, “dhyana” (meditation) and “svadhyaya” (reflection) from Hindu sages in Rishikesh. “From early times, sages from India and abroad have come here to use the forests of Rishikesh for prayer, meditation and austere practices,” Sister Vandana explained.

Rishikesh and Haridwar are both in Uttar Pradesh state. Both centers are within Bijnor Syro-Malabar diocese. Rishikesh has only two Catholic families, but many Christians visit the place as pilgrims. Father Peter sees no scope for evangelization here. He said a rightwing Hindu group has warned the Church not to engage in education or health programs.
There are 72 temples at Rishikesh and Haridwar. The two places have some 3,000 “sanyasis” (ascetics) and some 70 ashrams, according to Sacred Heart Sister Ishvapriya, who lives at Rishikesh with Sister Vandana.





From the above article (which is now 17 years old), one can see that the Hinduisation of our priests is a firmly established thing and commences during their seminary formation. It is no surprise then that these priests go on to Hinduise their institutions, parishes, and the Liturgy. “Nuns” like Vandana Mataji, an ashram founder herself, welcome western and other Christians who are “fed up with the Church and its Sacraments” and assist them in their pursuit of Hinduism instead of providing them with the Catholic alternative. Worse still, our theology students go to such people and places in their “search for God” (this refrain is more common than one may imagine), thus insinuating that He has not already fully revealed Himself through the Bible, the Magisterium and the Sacraments.

Catholic priests and seminarians participating in the maha arati on the Ganga, Hindu India’s “sacred” river, is a regular feature (see also page 39) and Vandana Mataji chose to live, meditate, chant OM and practiced yoga and Hindu spirituality on its banks for four decades until she passed away recently, when her loss was deeply mourned by the hierarchy of the Indian Church.


The New Leader, December 1-31, 2000

In a full page article on New Age priest and ashram leader Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB in its ‘Saints for Today’ column:

Bede experimented with yoga, meditation and other Indian spiritual disciplines.

In our prayer we make use of various symbols drawn from Hindu tradition in order to adapt our Christian prayer and worship to Indian traditions and customs according to the mind of the church today, ashram literature states.

In the morning prayer we use sandal paste. Sandalwood is considered the most precious of all woods and is therefore seen as a symbol of divinity. As it also has a sweet fragrance, it is seen as a symbol of divine grace. We place it on the head and hands as a way of consecrating the body and its members to God. It is also a symbol of the unconditional love of God as it gives its fragrance even to the axe that cuts it. We are called to radiate the unconditional love of God in our daily living.

At the midday prayer, we use the purple powder known as kumkumum. This is placed on the spot between the eyebrows and is a symbol of the ‘third eye’. The third eye is the eye of wisdom. Whereas the two eyes are the eyes of duality which see the outer world and the outer self, the third eye is the inner eye which sees the inner light according to the Gospel “if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light*… In India, the red colour is said to be feminine, the mark of the mother goddess. We consider that it symbolizes the feminine wisdom… and apply it to Our Lady of Wisdom…. Midday prayer is a wisdom prayer consisting of wisdom Psalm (118) and a reading from one of the books of Wisdom.

*The above verse from Matthew 6:22 is one of the
most abused by New Agers. All accepted Bible translations say, “If your eye is sound/whole/good…”, but I have not seen a version that uses the word “single”, which is the favourite for those who need it to justify from the Bible the existence of the psychic ‘third eye’. I requested ashram priest Fr. Paul OSB to show me where “according to the Gospel” they find the quoted verse. He said that he did not know. After a futile look into the Bible, he admitted to me that had believed that the verse was correctly quoted and interpreted. –Michael

At the evening prayer, we use ashes [vibhuti]. The symbol here is not merely that of Ash Wednesday, ‘dust thou art and into dust thou shall return’ but has a deeper meaning. Ash is matter from which impurities have been burnt away. Placing the ashes on the forehead signifies that our sins and impurities have been burnt away and the ashes represent the purified self.

At each of the prayers we offer arati’
before the Blessed Sacrament. Arati
consists in the waving of lights and incense as a sign of honour and worship. It may be done before any sacred thing or person. The root meaning of arati
before the central shrine in a temple seems to be this. The inner sanctuary of a temple is always kept dark to signify that God dwells in the cave of the heart. When lights are waved before the shrine, it, as it were, reveals the hidden God. We wave lights before the Blessed Sacrament to manifest, as it were, the hidden Christ, and then we take the light of Christ to our eyes by placing the hand over the flame which is passed round to all…

At the offertory of the Mass, we make an offering of the four elements – water, earth, air and fire. Every Hindu puja consists in the offering of the elements to God as a sign of the offering of the creation to God. In the offertory therefore, we offer the four elements as a sign that the whole creation is being offered to God through Christ as a cosmic sacrifice. We first sprinkle water round the altar. Then we sprinkle water on the people to purify the people. The priest then takes a sip of water to purify himself within. We then offer the fruits of the earth as the prayer of the offertory says, the bread and wine, and then eight flowers which are placed around the ‘tali’ on which the gifts are offered. The eight flowers which are offered with Sanskrit chants represent the eight directions of space and signify that the Mass is offered in the ‘centre’ of the universe… We then do arati
with incense representing the air, and with camphor representing fire. Thus the Mass is seen to be a cosmic sacrifice in which the whole creation together with all humanity is offered through Christ to the Father.

See also


Indigenous Worship in North India – The Hindi Krista-Bhajan

By Chris Hale, 12/2/2003




The Roman Catholic Church has been more successful in promoting indigenous expression, although it had a late start in this area. Efforts to indigenize the Mass only began in the 1960’s after the Second Vatican Council. The mandate from Rome was strong enough to bring about actual changes in the worship services. Now, only twenty years later, many churches, especially in the North, have adopted Indian forms. A highly publicized Mass conducted by Pope John Paul in New Delhi in 1999 with 70,000 worshipers in attendance illustrates this fact. The newspapers in Mumbai reported that the Mass incorporated Indian forms of worship in ritual, in dress, in song, and in dance. Only the prominent churches in the metropolitan cities remain largely Western in their worship style.
The Roman Catholics have also founded communication centers in Mumbai, Indore, Bhopal, Pune, Ranchi, and Benaras in the North, and many of these have employed Indian music and dance instructors.
They also have incorporated Indian music programs into many of their seminary curriculums…

The Catholic Church claims that it is Indian because it has chosen Indian forms to worship Christ, though they are borrowed mostly from Hindu practices. But fundamentalist Hindus argue that Catholic exclusive worship and preaching of a “foreign god” is enough to reject their claims to being Indian. For them indigenization is only a cover-up for the age-old Christian and Western goal of world conquest (Shourie, 2000, pp. 1-2)…

Vatican II gave theological sanction to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (C.B.C.I.) to oversee the implementation of the directives of the Fathers of the Council (Duncan, 1999, p. 8). The Mass, once translated into vernacular languages such as Hindi, could then be put to music that was also Indian. Likewise, other forms of Indian worship were studied and some were deemed acceptable for Christian worship. One of these is the lighting of the lamp, called Aarti, which Catholic churches practice all over the country.
The Catholic position since Vatican II considers these practices to be Indian and therefore neutral, and usable in Christian worship
(loc. cit.). The traditional view of Protestants, however, has been to call these practices not Indian, but Hindu.
Far from being neutral, they are believed to be deeply intertwined with idol worship, and therefore have demonic origins. Therefore they are unacceptable for worshiping Jesus Christ.
This view, that most of what is Indian is Hindu and unusable, has been ingrained in the minds of Protestant Christians for two centuries.

Though many missionaries in the last 150 years have attempted to correct this view, they have not succeeded.


Pope Beatifies Mother Teresa in Front of 300,000 – Founder of Missionaries of Charity Honored

Vatican City, October 19, 2003

A visibly moved John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “whom I have always felt close to me,” before a crowd of 300,000 overflowing St. Peter’s Square.

More than 100 cardinals and numerous bishops accompanied the Pope as he beatified the world-famous servant of the poorest of the poor. The beatification of the founder of the Missionaries of Charity came on World Mission Sunday.
Some 500 Missionaries of Charity in their white-and-blue saris attended the ceremony, where the front rows were reserved for 3,500 poor. Also present were representatives of the Orthodox Church and two Muslim communities from Albania. Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was born to an ethnic Albanian family.
Next to Sister Nirmala Joshi, Mother Teresa’s successor and superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, were the heads of other institutes founded by the new blessed. Also present was Monika Besra, the Indian woman inexplicably cured of an abdominal tumor through Mother Teresa’s intercession.
“Brothers, sisters: Today also, God raises new models of sanctity, such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” the Pope said.
Archbishop Lucas Sirkar of Calcutta implored the Holy Father: “We pray that he will raise to the register of blessed the servant of God, Teresa of Calcutta.” The archbishop gave way to the reading of biographical data on the religious.
John Paul II then pronounced the formula of beatification — “We allow that the venerable servant of God Teresa of Calcutta henceforth be called blessed.” The faithful broke the silence with great applause as a tapestry was unveiled depicting a smiling Mother Teresa.
With her beatification, the number of blessed proclaimed during this 25-year pontificate rises to 1,321.
Then, amid Indian dances and songs, and a sense of prayer, a group of young Indian women dressed in white saris carried a relic of Mother Teresa in procession to the altar.
Following in Jesus’ footsteps, Mother Teresa became an “image of the Good Samaritan,” undertaking a “journey of love and service which goes against all human logic,” the Pope said in his homily, integrally read by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for general affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State, and by Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay.
Added to today’s eucharistic liturgy was the “Arati” Indian ritual of adoration and reverence and intimacy with God, used in solemn Masses. During the rite, several Indian women dressed in colorful saris danced and offered incense and the light of flames among flowers, which they raised before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Lawrence D’Souza, Gregory Noronha, Anthony Alphonso and Anthony Rodrigues were seminarians at the Pius X major seminary in Goregaon in the Archdiocese of Mumbai. They left the Church and joined the Lefebvre movement’s Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and were pursuing studies in the Society’s Australian seminary since 2003. An EXTRACT from the Newsletter of the District of Asia, July-Dec 2003, Scandalous Ecumenism with Hinduism, and Hinduism at a Glance, author Lawrence D’Souza who returned later to the Mumbai seminary:;

Lawrence D’Souza says that one of the decisions taken at the
Catholic Priests Conference of India (CPCI)
was to

Open Archdiocesan
Ashrams (a Hindu-styled hermitage) to participate in Indian forms of prayer, liturgical worship and community, thereby to have a “God-experience” in Indian setting.

This revolution of Inculturation or Hinduisation was begun intensely in the 1970’s by a Fr. Amalorpavadass, the younger brother of Cardinal Lourduswamy
of the Vatican Congregation for Promotion of Inter-Religious Dialogue
. He built a centre for Inculturation known as NBCLC
(National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre) at Bangalore, modeled in the form of a
temple with symbols of all religions engraved on the door of the temple. It is here that lay people even today are taken, even sponsored by dioceses and parishes, to be “brainwashed” into paganisation by drinking the poison of the “Indian Rite Mass” fabricated by Fr. Amalorpavadass… who himself died a most cruel death being crushed under a truck that left him “faceless” in his death… Fr. Amalorpavadass is the first to construct the ‘Indian Rite’ incorporating in it all the Brahminical rituals of Hinduism with the chanting of Vedic and Upanishadic mantras. It includes readings taken from the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita. The words of consecration keep evolving and changing as per the “creativity” of the celebrant. The mass is said squatting on the ground, on a little table surrounded by small lamps. The priestly vestments were completely cast away, the celebrant being in his civil clothes wears a saffron shawl with the character OM in its centre. All the mantras and prayers in this abominable mass begin with
OM. ‘Tilak’ is applied on the foreheads of priests and people. Arati (an act of worship performed by moving in a circular fashion a plate with incense-sticks) is done with a bronze pot, leaves and coconut (it symbolises the 3 deities Shiva, Ganesh and Parvati — the fertility cult of the Hindus). The reason given is that it is a sign of welcome. The Mantras invoking Vishnu and Shiva are attributed, of course falsely to Our Lord Jesus Christ. The ‘Indian Rite’ yet stands unapproved by Rome and yet is widely practiced in all seminaries, convents and gradually in many parishes… Seminarians are sent to Hindu Christian Ashrams where they live-in, imbibing in themselves the elements of Indian worship and meditations…” The Hindu syllable OM
… is the abode of the 33 crores (330 million) of deities that are contained in the infinite cosmic sound OM. The Hindu Puranas (Epics) demonstrate that OM is the sexual sigh of Shiva while engrossed in mystical union of generation with his consort Parvati. One of us, Anthony Rodrigues has witnessed Fr. Rufus Pereira exorcising a woman possessed with the spirit ofOM‘.”


Mother Teresa “beatified” with idolatrous rites

Catholic Family News, January 2004

It was a triumphant day for paganism. Simon Cardinal Lourduswamy had reached the zenith of his career of Hinduizing the Catholic Church, whilst his opponent, the late Indian Resistance leader Victor Kulanday, was resoundingly defeated. It was October 19th, 2003, and in front of an audience of millions (courtesy of television), Mother Teresa of Calcutta was allegedly beatified in a Hinduized papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

The seeds of this false worship were sown back in 1969 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the chairman of its Liturgy Commission, Archbishop Lourduswamy of Bangalore. Their subversion of the Faith in India is exposed in Kulanday’s book, The Paganization of the Church in India

Equating Christ with this idolatry in which business account books are worshipped and cows receive special adoration as incarnations of the goddess Lakshmi is blasphemy and pantheism, the heresy condemned by Blessed Pius IX, that teaches God is one with the universe, falsehood with truth, evil with good. It is disingenuous for Abp. Marini to allege that the Hindu Diwali is a “non-sectarian feast of lights to celebrate life and thank God [which one?] for all his blessings and the righteousness of his dealings with human beings.”

Now, during the Canon of the Mass, at the Doxology, with the Holy Father holding aloft the Sacred Species — i.e., with Jesus present on the altar — a triple arati
ritual was performed by young ladies (Marini) or seven nuns (The Tribune). This involved a pushpa arati, the waving of a tray of flowers with a burning light in the centre, and the showering of flower petals; dhupa arati, the homage of incense; and deepa arati, the homage of light, waving of camphor fire, and the ringing of bells, accompanied by a Hindu Tamil hymn.

Camphor symbolizes the purifying cycle of reincarnations needed until one becomes divine. Hindus believe the ringing of the bell produces the “auspicious sound” OM, “the universal name of the Lord.” OM is also the supreme Hindu god Krishna and it has sexual and black magic meanings. In 1980, Wladislaw Cardinal Rubin, Lourduswamy’s predecessor as Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, forbade the use of OM in Christian worship because it is “an essential, integral part of Hindu worship.”( So OM was slid into the papal Mass, disguised as bells!

The lamp lighting and arati
rituals were also done at the beatification Mass of Mother Teresa
. (The meaning of arati
will be explained shortly.) Cardinal Lourduswamy, chief architect of Hinduizing the Church in India, was a co-celebrant with Pope John Paul at the Hinduized Mass of Beatification. Although taking place in Rome, not India, it was inculturated following another rule of Abp. Marini…

After the Kyrie of the Mass and the beatification, a Hindu puja (worship) ceremony commenced. Puja has varying steps, but always includes the welcoming of the deity and offerings of gifts of flowers, incense and lighted lamps to it, accompanied by prostrations and bows.




Worship with these gifts is demanded by the gods, for their gratification and the prosperity of the offerer, in the classical Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata. The temple lamp is lit wick after wick, following the placement of flowers at the foot of the idol. As explained above, lamp lighting denotes the worship of light and the beginning of a Hindu ceremony; it is also fire worship, fire being a god. The type, colour and scent of the flowers chosen are particular to each deity. To appease angry deities, especially females, gifts include the blood and flesh of sacrificed animals. The puja is also part of the worship of a guru, saint or honored guest, “as representative of the deity.” The ceremony ends with an arati.

The beatification’s puja followed this pattern! There was a procession of “gifts” of flowers, candles in clay lamps, lit glass lamps, and a large framed heart icon and ampoule containing the blood of Mother Teresa. This reliquary was placed on a small table near the altar. (Monsignor Wren “believed” the blood “was extracted at the exhumation of the body.” This was either sloppy reporting or deliberate disinformation as it was well known that the body was not exhumed.) With deep bows, sari-clad women did a deepa arati
with the clay lamps to the altar area, crowd and reliquary, accompanied by Indian chanting and drumming. Young girls laid blue and white flowers (signifying the colours of Mother’s habit?) at the foot of the icon on the table, and other people placed the glass lamps, one by one, on the lamp stand in front of it. A Hindu might be forgiven for thinking Mother Teresa — or her blood — was worshipped, perhaps in solidarity with those Hindus who consider her a goddess, and even equivalent to the bloodthirsty goddess Kali, who also embodies compassion.

Monsignor Wren found what he termed the “gifts ceremony” “extremely moving,” and the chants “a very, very special treat for all of us.” He did not name the recipient of the gifts or explain why they were needed. The gifts ceremony is Point 10 of Lourduswamy’s Twelve Points for Hinduizing the Mass.

Now, in the most solemn part of the Mass, the Canon, the faithful contemplate Jesus crucified. In the Tridentine Mass, the prayers are recited silently by the priest in memory of the awful hours during which Jesus hung on the cross, bearing in silence the scoffs and blasphemies of the Jews. But, as in Delhi, just before the Our Father in the Beatification Mass, Jesus had to endure a blasphemous Hindu ritual.

Whilst two clerics held aloft the consecrated Host and Wine (i.e., Jesus Himself), after the Great Amen, a troupe of middle-aged-to-elderly women, dressed in saris the colours of the Indian flag, sashayed along the foot of the altar to the beat of a hokey tune. They held metal trays covered with flowers. Some trays had flames in the middle, others had incense sticks. Monsignor Wren (or Arroyo?) announced a “special liturgical rite, arati, according to the Indian cultural custom.” (Zenit News later reported that arati
is an “Indian rite of adoration and reverence and intimacy with God, used in solemn Masses.”)

Suddenly one was jolted by the abrasive discordant wails of a Tamil chant and Indian instruments as the women went to work. The trays with flames were held aloft and circled around clockwise, flowers and petals were strewn (deepa and pushpa arati), and the incense sticks were offered up (dhupa arati). Viewers were told the chant was, “Lord, we adore you with light, we adore you with incense, we adore you with flowers.” Enthusiastic clapping and cheering greeted this “entertainment” that disguised a Hindu ritual.

As explained above, adoration with flowers, incense and light is demanded by the Hindu gods. Arati
is defined as a temple ritual in which a fire on a plate is waved in front of a deity in a clockwise direction. We have already seen that light is worshipped as the Supreme Lord of inner consciousness. The one who burns the arati
becomes divine and escapes the purifying cycle of reincarnation. The clockwise direction symbolizes one’s divinity, worshipped in the exterior idol.

Now, an early-nineteenth century French Missionary, Abbé Dubois, who spent thirty years in south India, wrote a highly-acclaimed book, Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies. Like Saints Thomas and Francis Xavier, he discovered no seeds of the Word (i.e., Christ) hidden in Hinduism; rather, he found that Hindus “appear to have surpassed all the other nations … in the unconscionable depravity with which so many of their religious rites are impregnated.” Regarding Hindu music, he said, “Every note of the Hindu scale has a mark characteristic of some divinity, and includes several hidden meanings….”

Arati, he reported, is performed only by married women (which might explain the mature age of the women during the Canon) and courtesans (dancing girls and prostitutes of the temples).
is the most important Hindu ritual, performed during almost all ceremonies… The ritual is done “to please the deity with bright lights and colours and also to counteract the evil eye.” It is thus also performed in public or private on idols, important people, children, new property, crops, animals and anything valuable, to prevent harm from the evil eye. The plate takes on the power of the deity and itself becomes an idol.

Does Jesus Christ, True God, need protection from the evil eye? Or did the arati
symbolize that Jesus is not the true living God, but a mythological idol on par with Hindu deities? Or was the ceremony done to protect the Pope and his concelebrants? In the Hinduized Mass in India, the celebrant is greeted with arati
(Point 10). But in Hinduism itself, women never perform the arati
on a priest inside the sanctum sanctorum. It is considered an abomination. Women are not allowed near the sacred precincts of the temple altar.

The triple arati
is Point 12 of the Twelve Points
. Therefore, it is misleading to claim that arati
is an Indian way of worship. Indian Catholics never did arati
or puja. These ceremonies were imposed on them in 1969. Now, 34 years later, the world is conned into believing arati
is a solemn rite they have always used on special occasions.


Professor Fr. J. P. M. van der Ploeg, OP, Doctor of Sacred Theology and Sacred Scripture, said the Hinduized Mass is a “syncretistic liturgical blend” that “will break the Church’s unity.
In this way, a new sect will be born: a Hindu-Christian one, and it remains to be seen whether this will be predominantly Christian or Hindu.” Catholicism mixed with Hinduism is pantheism, not Catholicism. Therefore, was the syncretic ceremony a valid beatification?





Our first parents also worshipped the light of forbidden “inner” knowledge in order to become divine. All idolatry is worship of Satan. Jesus died on the Cross to redeem mankind from the damnation deserved by such an abominable sin. In Delhi and in Rome, whilst hanging on the Cross, He was once again subjected to man’s worshipping the light of knowledge, proclaiming his divinity. Could the worship of Lucifer blended into a papal Mass constitute the “abomination unto desolation” of the last days?

The late Valerian Cardinal Gracias of Bombay stated that Hindu pujas and mantras are “alien” to Catholic ceremonies. “In adopting forms of expression alien to our Liturgy,” he asked, “have they made sure of the specific Hindu ideology underlining those forms?” Another Indian bishop bluntly declared, “People who Indianize … are out to destroy the Catholic Church.”

In 1988 Victor Kulanday warned:

“Unless the present mad craze to paganise [sic] the Faith is … given up, the 21st century will only see a hybrid form of Christianity, hardly alive but suffocated and perishing. God forbid that such a catastrophe should happen. But happen it will unless the Holy See realises [sic] the danger and acts firmly and quickly.”

Mercifully, he did not live to see a Hinduized Papal Mass of Beatification, which gave a papal imprimatur to the abomination that will surely spread worldwide. As Archbishop Marini notes, “The liturgy of the pope has always been imitated…. the papal liturgy has always been a point of reference for the entire church.”


Looking to the Global South for orthodoxy

By Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, SVD,
February 4, 2004

The Western church could also look to the Third Church for the way it has adapted liturgies for different cultures… Indians have been particularly adept at cultural adaptation, adopting aarti (honoring God or the priest with flowers, an oil lamp and incense sticks arranged on a steel plate) and singing bhajans (continuous recitation of the name of Jesus or the Trinity). Such cultural adaptations make the liturgy rich and meaningful for participants, lessons from which the West could learn.


Photo Report of Hindu Ritual at Fatima

Catholic Family News Special Report: Pictures of a Desecration. (Traditionalist)

By John Vennari, May 5, 2004

Catholic Family News has obtained a video copy of the SIC television broadcast of the Hindu ritual performed at Fatima. As reported last month, the sacrilege took place on May 5 with the blessing of Fatima Shrine Rector Guerra, and the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, D. Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva.

SIC, a national television station in Portugal, reported on the Hindu ritual at Fatima the same day it took place. The announcer called it an “uncommon ecumenical experience.”

The broadcast shows morning prayer at the Radha Krishna temple in Lisbon. “Light and water, energy and nature, mark the rhythm of the Arati, the morning prayer,” the announcer says. “Hinduism is the oldest of the great religions. It is characterized by multiple deities, worshiped through a triple dimension of life and sacredness: the creator god, the preserver god, and the god who has the power to destroy.”


Shantivanam in a Chalet: An American Experience

By Sr. Pascaline Coff, OSB, Bulletin 72,
May 2004

Fr. Bede Griffiths, one of the twentieth-century great leaders in interreligious dialogue, died on May 13, 1993. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of his death, we are publishing this and the following article, both written by former members of the MID board. The articles first appeared in the May 2003 issue of The Golden String, the bulletin of the Bede Griffiths Trust, and are here reprinted with the kind permission of that bulletin’s editor, Fr. Bruno Barnhart, OSB Cam. Sr. Pascaline, a former editor of our own bulletin, resides at Osage Monastery in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

My year (1976/7) with Fr. Bede Griffiths at his Shantivanam Ashram in South India was one of the highlights of my life. … Wayne Teasdale, Russill and Asha Paul (New Agers all), Fr. Bede, and I were here in semi-community, praying together, cooking and doing dishes. Father even sat on a chair near the sink in order to help dry dishes, while sharing some of his English humor with us all. We took turns at preparation for the liturgy, lighting the oil lamps, incense, and the camphor for the sacred arati—the Fire Blessing. We sang bhajans, read portions of the Scriptures from the East and West, and listened to Fr. Bede share some of his favorite Tamil poetry…

Russill brought to the chalet his music synthesizer and his Indian musical instruments, often used at Shantivanam during the sacred liturgies there. After setting everything in place he suggested that we create a music tape entitled “An Experience of Shantivanam.” Wayne coordinated the sequence and format and had Fr. Bede and each of us take turns reading a text in English or translating one of the Sanskrit chants we had all just sung. Even the bells for the sacred arati
could be heard resounding. Fr. Bede’s voice was weak but firm as he read some of his favorite passages from the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. This was probably one of the last recordings made of the beautiful Shantivanam liturgies with Fr. Bede’s own voice.




God cannot be ‘imported,’ God must be ‘incarnated’

By Janina Gomes, May 6, 2004

Mumbai, India – The Second Vatican Council initiated a revolution 40 years ago. Its document Sacrosanctum Concilium recognized that the church had become a world-church characterized by pluralism. The liturgy was opened to different languages and adaptations for different cultures of the world.

Ten years later the term inculturation was applied to this process. According to Fr. Michael Amaladoss (see also pages 31, 46), a leading Indian theologian and an expert on inculturation, though the official church in the name of liturgical reform has cleared away accretions that accumulated over history, substantial creativity has not been encouraged apart from some local external decorative elements permitted in India and the Congo.

A 12-point plan for adapting the liturgy with certain elements of Indian worship was put together by experts and the Indian bishops issued guidelines. The points suggested using certain postures during liturgy, such as squatting, anjali hasta (hands folded in prayer) and panchanga pranam (a full prostration with forehead touching the ground), arati as a form of welcome or worship; incorporating different objects, such as shawls, trays, oil lamps, and a simple incense bowl with handles; as well as different gestures, such as touching objects to one’s forehead instead of kissing them.

When these Indian adaptations began to be used, reactions ranged from enthusiastic welcome to strong criticism, according to Jesuit Fr. Julian Saldanha, a professor of theology at St. Pius X seminary in Mumbai.

Saldanha said: “There was wider acceptance in the northern dioceses than in the southern ones. The 12 points were more welcome in villages than in urban areas. They were better accepted in institutions or certain groups, e.g., religious houses, than in parishes. It was found that youth take to them more easily than adults. The opposition was greater to those adaptations which more strongly remind the people of non-Christian worship.” These included, for example, saffron shawls, squatting during liturgy, and using a samai (oil lamp) instead of candles, according to Saldanha.

Terence Fonn from the Ministry of Gospel Sharing for Small Christian Communities in the Mumbai archdiocese says westernized Catholics fixed in their ways of thinking opposed the changes. “For them the liturgy is often simply a ritual. If they are to change, they need to be re-educated.”

Fonn quoted a writer who said that God cannot be “imported”; God must be “incarnated.” “We have just imported westernized forms of Christianity,” he said. “If Christ had been born in India, maybe he would have called himself “Gopal” or protector of cows [an epithet of Krishna] rather than the Good Shepherd. Real inculturation means transforming a culture with the values of the Gospel,” he said.

Joaquim Reis, a lawyer for the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court, organizes the Deepen Your Faith Theology courses for the laity in Mumbai. He also emphasizes the importance of re-education. “If the signs and symbols used are Indian and part of our cultural heritage and if they are not opposed to any of our Christian beliefs, if they bring a person closer to God and their faith, we should encourage their use,” he said. But he adds that for some Indian Christians already infused with western culture “it is necessary to educate them in the need for inculturation.”

He also cautions that the journey to truth must be made with the correct methodology, so that the signs and symbols through which we encounter God fits with the Christian understanding of God. The way Hindus and Muslims understand God may be different, he said.

Inculturation is sometimes identified with mere adaptations to the liturgy, says Thomas Dabre, the bishop of Vasai and chairperson of the inculturation committee of the western regional council of bishops. He calls for a deeper interpretation of inculturation.

Dabre wrote in the Mumbai archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner, “Some have reduced inculturation to some cultural practices like arati, dance, squatting … While these things have their symbolic significance, authentic and comprehensive inculturation is as wide as the life of the people around us.”

Amaladoss makes a case for a church presence in public festivals and for a more conscious exploration of the possibility of using scriptures and symbols of other religions and interpreting them in the Christian/Catholic faith context. Amaladoss says: “For me, Hinduism is not another religion. It is part of my own heritage. It is the religion of my ancestors. God has reached out to my ancestors through it. So I do not look at its scriptures, symbols and methods as something foreign to me. I have the right and the liberty to integrate them as part of my spiritual tradition.”

Divine Word Fr. Sebastian Michael, professor of anthropology at the University in Mumbai and a member on the western bishops’ committee for inculturation says: “The intellectual articulation of Christian faith in theology must be expressed emotionally in the Indian culture through well thought out and theologically sound popular devotions, pilgrimages, observances of fasts, processions, parish feasts, bhajan singing [Indian popular devotional songs] and passion plays.”

“Christians could also articulate rites of passage without alienation from the Indian context since the most important events in a culture are the rites of passage,” he says.

He also argues that in
India inculturation should not be Hinduization or Sanskritization of Christian life. The pluralistic culture of India should be the basis of inculturation. The Indian church must recognize, appreciate and empower the regional cultures and symbolic cultural creativity of tribals, dalits, sudras (lower castes), and other minorities as well as upper castes.

While many Catholics, especially in the old centers of Christianity, remain opposed to any changes in the liturgy in the Roman form, many clergy and groups are experimenting with adaptations to the liturgy in more private services.



The term inculturation is also better understood today than before. In a multicultural and pluralistic society like India, clinging to Roman forms of expression in insubstantials makes less sense to a growing number of Catholics.

Those who are opposed to any form of change do feel threatened by inculturation. Many who welcome change, on the other hand, would suggest going beyond the 12-point plan and finding a more Indian way of expressing themselves in Christian worship and in life.

Janina Gomes is a liberal writing in the liberal National Catholic Reporter. She contributes regularly to the “Speaking Tree”, a column of philosophy and religion in the national daily, The Times of India.

All of the individuals that Gomes has cited are of the same mould. Terence Fonn was a pioneer in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal who drifted into New Age (Enneagrams, Centering Prayer, the WCCM’s Christian Meditation, etc.)


Paganisation of the Liturgy in India


By C.B. Andrade Ph. D.

EXTRACT from: Einsicht – Römisch Katholische Zeitschrift –Credo ut intelligam, München, 34. Jahrgang, Nummer 8, Oktober 2004 and Nummer 10, Dezember 2004.

Arati is a Hindu ritual performed by married women and courtesans to counteract the influence of the evil eye and the looks of ill-intentioned persons. It is, therefore, rank superstition and has no place in Catholic ritual and worship.

It would serve no useful purpose to deal seriatim with the remaining points of Hinduisation, for the introduction of even one pagan ritual into our All-Holy Mass is profanation enough…

What do articles 37-40 (quoted by the bishops) of the Sacred Constitution on the Liturgy (S.C.L) say? Here are the relevant parts:


“37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not involve the faith or the good of the whole community. Rather, she respects and fosters the spiritual adornments and gifts of the various races and peoples. Anything in their way of life that is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself as long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit”,

“38. Provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is maintained the revision of liturgical books should allow for legitimate variations and adaptions to different groups, regions and people, especially in mission land…”

“39. This number is not particularly relevant to the purpose of this article.

“40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaption of the liturgy is needed and entails greater difficulties. Therefore:

– The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in article 22, H 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and genius of individual people might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should then be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced”.


It is true, therefore, that the S.C.L. does say that the Liturgy can be adapted to the local culture BUT:

– What is meant by local culture? It is nothing but the culture of the worshipping community (i.e. the Christian community). Even if it were taken for granted that local culture means national culture, surely Indian culture cannot be identified only with Hindu culture? Indian culture is a very complex phenomenon and a multitude of influences – Dravidian, Vedic, Greek, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, British, Portuguese, French, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian influences have gone into its making.

Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying: “Indian culture is neither Hindu nor Islamic nor any other wholly. It is a fusion of all”. By what right, then can, – say genuflection, – be considered un-Indian?

Catholics in India have been doing it for hundreds of years and it can, therefore, be considered as Indian as the Muslim posture for prayer can be considered Indian.

– And, why do the Indian bishops stop at articles 37-40 of the S.C.L. in support of the adaptions?


Here are some other extracts from the S.C.L. which the bishops have neglected, (deliberately?) To quote:

a) “Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them (…).”

b) “In the restoration and promotion of the Sacred Liturgy, the full and active participation of all the people is the aim to be considered before all else.”

c) “In order that the Christian people may more securely derive an abundance of grace from the Sacred Liturgy, Holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the Liturgy itself.

d) “The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, can be more clearly manifested and that devout and active participation by the faithful can be more easily accomplished.”





It is quite clear from these conciliar statements that the essential criteria for change were the genuine and certain good of the Church, and meaningfulness to, and better participation of, the faithful. If the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required it; if the introduction of Hindu gestures and symbols could lead to a better understanding of the Mass and to a greater participation in it, then such changes could be introduced, but not otherwise. Have these essential criteria been satisfied by the introduction of the 12 points? Did the good of the Church genuinely and certainly require them?


Has the Mass become more meaningful and the Indian Catholic a more devout participant in it because of the anjali hasta, arati
etc.? The answer is to be had in the massive and persistent opposition over the years all over the country to these changes. Besides, many devout Catholics have left the Church and many more have stopped receiving the sacraments – or what is left of them after Vatican II. And, if the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required these changes – and it is now some 13 years since they were forcibly introduced – surely by now there should have been a spate of conversions to Catholicism and large numbers of Indian Catholics should have developed haloes around their heads.


Has the “good of the whole (catholic) community” not been ‘involved’ (S.C.L., article 37) and jeopardized by these Hindu innovations? The widespread, violent and sustained reactions against them give the answer to this question. Can the bishops of India honestly and in all conscience maintain that none of the 12 points is “indissolubly bound up with superstition and error”? (Article 37, S.C.L.) Two Hindu converts to Christianity, one of them (Mr. Parmanand) a quondam Hindu priest, categorically state the contrary. Such gestures as the anjali hasta (an obeisance made by Hindu devotees to their minor gods and goddesses, e.g. Lakshmi, Hanuman, Kali, Ganesh etc.) and the arati (a superstitions ritual for driving away evil spirits) are definitely not bereft of overtones of false belief, nor of the specific Hindu ideology underlying these beliefs…


No. 2: In the ‘Commentary’ (The Twelve Points were explained in an “Official Commentary” by the NBCLC of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India) the celebrant is called ‘a sign’ of Christ. Certainly not! If he is a Catholic priest, he acts in the person of Christ
(a doctrine denied by Protestantism) which is much more than being only ‘a sign’. The celebrant is greeted with arati
(the waving of a lighted lamp before his face). Walker’s “Hindu world” Vol.11, London 1968, says that the “object of the arati
rite is to please the deity with bright lights and colours and also to counteract the evil eye” (P. 609). Dubois-Beauchamp, in their famous “Hindu manners, customs and ceremonies” Vol.1, Oxford 1897, tell us that arati
is one of the commonest religious practices of the Hindus. It is performed by married women and courtesans; the object is to counteract the influence of the evil eye and any ill-effects arising from the jealous and spiteful looks of ill-intentioned persons. It is performed over distinguished persons or those of high rank, elephants, horses, domestic animals, idols etc. Therefore, arati
used at the beginning of the celebration of the Mass is apt to create the impression that a pagan ceremony is about to follow. This impression is fortified by what follows immediately. […]


An EXTRACT from the “Catholic” Ashrams movement’s Ashram Aikya newsletter 46 of September 2005:

Swami Narendranand’s Hindu Sadhana: Failure or Error?

(Fr. Andrew Thottunkal SJ, 1915–1995)

By Shilanand Hemraj, 70/1 Robertson Road, Frazer Town, Bangalore –560 005

Tel: 080-25485694

Shilanandji, originally from Belgium, has lived a number of years in Bihar and UP. I have translated (in brackets) some of Swamiji’s and Shilanandji’s Sanskrit terms. — Ed.

Fr. Andrew was a solid follower of the French phenomenologist Marechal. His restless search took him away for 5 years to Kurisumala Ashram but he did not join them. In 1964 he returned, this time to the Ranchi Province. For another few years he worked at several mission stations. By now his superiors recognised his ministry, gave him full freedom to pursue it and even financial assistance. He took the name Narendranand…

Inspired by his guru, Swami Sampadanand of the Trikutachal Ashram, Santhal Parganas, he donned the garb of a sannyasi… He diffused his peculiar approach to God while adhering strictly to
Sanatan Dharm (traditional Hindu way of life)*. Occasionally he conducted satsanghs without drawing great numbers. He opened his Divya Jyoti Ashram in 1973 near Itki Chowk, Hehal, Ranchi. It attracted a few steady followers. As one of his admirers, I too visited him there in the early days. He kept in touch with St. Albert’s Seminary. He was encouraged by Fr. Quirijnen who himself had tried the life of a sannyasi earlier at Hazaribagh... There was a routine of daily morning and evening Puja, during which the (eucharistic) Bali-Bhoj with Mahaprasad was quietly performed. One of the students had been initiated into Guru-diksha by receiving the (baptismal) Mahashirvad.
The Maharati
(waving of lights at the conclusion of worship) was loud and prolonged with blowing of conch-shell and beating of gong

He gladly went when invited by families to rituals of karn-bhed (piercing of ears), yagyopavit (investing with sacred thread) or panigrahan (marriage).

Swamiji envisaged some kind of separate Indian Church-Community, with its own Hindu Rite

Swamiji made a radical option, deciding that personal faith in his Ishta Dev Yeshu should not prevent him from being a spiritual acharya within the Hindu fold. When problems about his identity started arising, he even obtained an affidavit, stating that he was not a non-Hindu

Together with Arya-Samajis we had gone to the basti (colony) of safaikarmcharis (sweepers – i.e., outcastes). An open-air agnihotra (Vedic fire-sacrifice) was conducted and the sacred thread was distributed to all to symbolise universal humanity.




An EXTRACT from the “Catholic” Ashrams movement’s Ashram Aikya newsletter 47 of Pentecost 2006:

14th National Satsangh of Ashram Aikya, Sameeksha, Kalady, 27th to 31st October 2005

The Satsangh was preceded by an optional six-day Sadhana based on the Upanishads
given by Fr. Sebastian Painadath SJ, the Acharya
of Sameeksha. Of the 30 who participated, 20 were AA members. Early morning on the 27th a group of them left to visit the Ashram of Amritanandamayi near Kollam and another group Kurisumala in Vagamon founded by the late Francis Acharya.

The Satsangh proper began on the 27th night.
The hall where we assembled had a mystical ambiance created by the paintings of the artist at Sameeksha, Fr. Roy Thottathil SJ. Sadhvi Sradhanjali, Secretary of the Kerala Region welcomed us with an aratiWe were also able to taste powerful vibrations when sitting all together at the Eucharist and at the midday Sandhyas (meditations).



We have just read two extracts from two newsletters of the heretical Catholic Ashrams movement (see While Rome approved the use of the arati at particular places during the Mass to give honour to God, one can see that it is used whenever and wherever it is thought fit including, as above and as observed in some other places (photographs provided) outside the liturgy.

One can also see that wherever the arati is used by Catholics, other elements of Hinduism abound. More:



This is the title of a documentary film, released September 2005, a DVD produced by Canada-based non-Christians (Hindus) but with the fullest cooperation of leading Indian priests (an Archbishop has denied his involvement in it), that records the forms of “inculturation” and inter-faith dialogue in which the Catholic Church in India is engaged. The transcription of the contents of the DVD is available at LOTUS AND THE CROSS-THE HINDUISATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA EXTRACTS:

Fr. Noel Sheth, President, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV)/Papal Seminary, Pune: The officials in the Church are interested in what we call inculturation. That is the religion has to be in a particular culture, in a particular soil. Otherwise it is going to be something artificial. The people of the place should experience God through their culture…

The process of inculturation involves adoption of a particular culture, but not necessarily everything. But then certain other things may have to be adapted. So the first point is adopting, the second is adapting. You make certain changes because of the situation in which you are as a Christian. In the Indian tradition there is something called arati. This arati was originally the waving of lights, but nowadays we wave not only lights but also incense and flowers. The Christian Mass itself has gone through various phases, adopting and adapting different things in the different religious cultures and traditions that it went to. So it’s not something new in India.

Unfortunately what happened for many centuries really it got crystallized and fixed or ossified.

For example if a person comes and celebrates Mass in India with all those vestments- some of them are very thick- they will not really fit the climate. Now it is alright for a country that is cold, but why impose it on everyone?

Cut to footage of
Fr. Noel Sheth
during one of his Indian Rite Masses chanting


Fr. Seby Mascarenhas, the Pilar Fathers. Goa

The initial visuals are of the Pilar Fathers’ social activities while Fr. Seby tells us about the mission school which has produced 2 doctors, 2 engineers, 40-45 teachers, and 4 priests.

Fr. Seby: The percentage of Christians would be 3 or 4 or 5%, not more, hardly anybody has become a Christian. Maybe in their hearts they became Christians, that would be nice [laughing].

This is followed by an adivasi dance performed by Pilar-trained girls for an ordination ceremony at the commencement of a Mass.

Narrator: The Indian Rite Mass, still in its infancy, is celebrated once a week and forms the leading edge of change.

Visuals of the performing of
arati, the application of
on the foreheads of the concelebrating priests, and the
chanting of the OM mantra
follow that announcement.

(All this, Indian musical instruments, bhajans, agarbatti incense sticks, shawl-draped priests, and yet the concelebrants, including the main celebrant use CHAIRS for sitting on during the Pilar Mass.)

Rangoli, the intricate Hindu art form, is demonstrated by Hindu girls for their Christmas decoration.

Fr. Seby: Elements of Indian culture are taken in, like the arati, the kumkum for greeting, the purification rites which are very important in Christianity because Christianity is an oriental religion, not a western religion.


The Eucharist and the Christian Community,

By Michael Amaladoss, S.J., (see also pages 28 and 46) East Asian Pastoral Review 2005 » Volume 42 (2005) Number 3



(Among other things, Amaladoss mentions here that “The first Indian Eucharistic prayer was never officially forwarded to Rome by the bishops” and that the “second Indian Eucharistic prayer which was sent by the bishops to Rome has not elicited any response so far.” Even as he slights Rome’s position that “the unity of the Latin Rite (be recognized) as a paramount principle of inculturation” he admits that the “12 points were proposed experimentally” and “have not since been reviewed after many years of experimentation.”

Austine Crasta, owner, Konkani Catholics yahoo groups list.)

The phase of preparation for the next ordinary Synod for the Bishops in October 2005 has started. Its theme will be the Eucharist and will be preceded by a year dedicated to the theme. The Synod is supposed to treat pastoral questions concerning the Eucharist. Its freedom of discussion will inevitably be conditioned by two recent documents: Ecclesia de Eucharistia,* the encyclical of John Paul II and Redemptoris Sacramentum** the disciplinary document of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The Lineamenta, published by the Synod secretariat, is an introduction to the questions that follow it. Though no one will discuss the Lineamenta itself, it does lay down a theological outlook which, together with the other two documents, will guide the discussions at the Synod. In the following pages I shall try to focus on some pastoral issues that bishops in India and Asia could keep in mind before and at the Synod. I have no intention of entering into a theological discussion with any of the Roman documents. But even pastoral suggestions will be oriented by a particular theological outlook. I shall outline this very briefly in the beginning before going on to make my pastoral suggestions. In making these I shall feel free, knowing well that some of these will not be allowed to be taken up at the Synod, even if one or other bishop ventures to raise them during the first week. We have been asked to reflect and we must make our honest proposals, hoping that some of these suggestions may be taken up later by people younger than I at a more propitious time. But it is worth laying them on the table now. However, while the Eucharist may be understood theologically—as primarily a sacrifice followed by a meal or a sacrificial meal or a sacrament of Christ’s bodily presence which becomes food and drink for the community—there is no doubt that its basic symbolic action is a shared community meal taken in memory of Christ celebrating his paschal mystery. This symbolic action may be interpreted differently according to different theological perspectives. It cannot, however, be simply reduced to a common meal. Its mystical or sacramental dimension of meaning is based on this symbolic action. The more meaningful the symbolic action, the deeper the mystical experience. The agent of this symbolic action is the community headed by the priest which becomes and acts as the Body of Christ with its head, namely Jesus Christ. The priest prays and acts in the name of the community. The community is part of the action. It is not outside it, only drawing benefit from it. It is not a meal that follows a sacrifice. It is not a meal that replaces the sacrifice. The memorial meal itself is sacrificial. The meal consists of shared food and drink. This means that it is the high point of the life of a community that expresses its love for each other by sharing its goods. It strengthens such ongoing solidarity.


Eucharist and Community

All the documents insist on the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Christian community. The Second Vatican Council describes the Eucharist as “the source and summit of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). John Paul II insists again on this in his recent encyclical: “The church draws her life from the Eucharist” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1). But how seriously do we take account of this, if more and more communities today are deprived of their regular Eucharist because of the absence of a priest? We know very well that today in many parts of the world, either because of far-flung parishes which the priest cannot cover every Sunday or because of the paucity of priests who cannot cater to the parishes in their charge every Sunday, most Christian communities go without a weekly Eucharist. At a recent meeting a friend from Brazil said that 70% of communities in his country do not have a priest to celebrate the weekly Eucharist for them. Another from Portugal spoke of priest friends who are each responsible for 8 to 12 parishes. To wait and pray that God will somehow raise vocations to the priesthood in countries where the birth rate is going down, refusing to make any viable alternate arrangement seems unreasonable, when what is involved is not a matter of faith, but of ecclesiastical discipline. To make matters worse, the lay people who generously cater to these communities celebrating the Liturgy of the Word are working under all sorts of restrictions. The aim of ecclesiastical discipline seems to be to protect the “sacred” identity and power of the priest and to set him apart from the community rather than to worry about its Eucharistic need. The image of the priest need not be a monolith. The Oriental Churches distinguish between the priests who lead the community Eucharist and the monks who are its intellectual and spiritual animators. However, we need not spend more time on this issue since I suspect that it will not be allowed to be discussed at this Synod.

Another point that will not probably be discussed at the Synod is the role of women in Eucharistic celebrations. Even if we do not think of women as priests, there are so many other roles that women can play and actually do play in many communities where there are no priests. In some parts of the world (Europe and Latin America) women, religious, and lay administer parishes, doing everything except celebrating the Eucharist. They prepare the young and the old for the sacraments. They conduct services of the Word and of prayer. They counsel people. They minister to the sick in the hospitals and homes. They organize and run community events. They facilitate community sharing. Their generosity and commitment deserves formal recognition and encouragement by the Christian community. In a recent letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to all the Bishops on The Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World (31 May 2004) there is not a word about what women are actually doing to animate the Eucharistic celebrations of many communities across the world. There is a section (IV) on the importance of Feminine values in the life of the Church. It speaks about how women are called to be unique examples and witnesses for all Christians of how the Bride is to respond in love to the love of the Bridegroom (16). Following Mary’s example, they can only receive the Word. It is significant that in this context reference is made to the reservation of priestly ordination solely to men (16). What the women are actually doing, even within the limits imposed on them, to animate the Eucharistic communities will not disappear because we choose to close our eyes to them.



Discussions concerning contemporary Eucharistic practice takes for granted the celebration of Sunday as the Lord’s Day and the community as primarily a territorial unit. These two could be rethought today. For many years now, in many places, the Saturday Eucharist is offered as a replacement for the Sunday Eucharist. The effect of this is that the link between Sunday and the weekly Eucharist is broken. Even earlier, in ‘mission’ lands, many communities living far away from the parish center used to celebrate the Eucharist whenever the priest happened to come by, whatever the day be. The priest came, rang the bell of the church and the people gathered for the celebration. In some places a catechist may have preceded the priest by a day. We hear from pastors that people who take part in a small community celebration during the week, whether Eucharistic or not, do not seem to feel the Sunday “obligation.” Basic Christian Communities (BCC) of all types may have an occasional Eucharist even when they are meeting on a weekday. The people may also find these smaller community celebrations more meaningful than the Sunday parish celebration. In some countries Sunday may be a working day. It is worth reflecting, therefore, without detriment to the symbolic importance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, whether we can focus more on the importance of occasional meaningful celebrations of the Eucharist in community.

Territorial parishes have always been large in “mission” lands. Today this is becoming true also in post-Christian countries. Besides, in many urban situations territorial parishes may be culturally pluralistic. We can think of creative ways of catering to such cultural pluralism. Even today in many parishes we can see that, during the Liturgy of the Word, the children go to another room with their catechist to have the Word of God explained to them in a different way. Could we think of more such groups in a parish community: the youth, people belonging to a particular association, the old people, etc.? We can think also of inter-territorial groups that focus on a particular culture or other element that naturally brings people together. We should take care of course that the larger community also experiences and celebrates its multi-cultural nature occasionally. But this need not be done every week. We can imagine a pluralistic pattern of celebrations in a given area. The ministers too may have different charisms and may be differently, though appropriately, qualified and prepared.


Inculturating the Eucharist

The Second Vatican Council inaugurated a period of inculturation in the liturgy. It laid down as a guiding principle the promotion of full, conscious, and active participation by the people. It affirmed the right of the Church to change whatever has not been “divinely instituted.” Though it suggested the preservation of the unity of the Latin Rite, it went on to evoke the emergence even of new ritual families and authorized bishops’ conferences to take initiatives in the matter. The Church in India responded to this invitation positively and got twelve points of adaptation approved by the Roman authorities. The first Indian Eucharistic prayer was never officially forwarded to Rome by the bishops.1 A second Indian Eucharistic prayer which was sent by the bishops to Rome has not elicited any response so far. In the meantime Rome has maintained the unity of the Latin Rite as a paramount principle of inculturation. While inculturation is now officially allowed, the conditions laid down are such that nothing is likely to happen. I do not wish however to go into the details of this painful history. However, on the occasion of reflecting about the reinvigoration of Eucharistic practice I cannot but evoke the prospects of inculturation, at least in some areas. I shall limit myself to four points.

First of all, this could be an occasion for the many bishops’ conferences across the world to reassert their right given to them by the Council to inculturate the liturgy, and the Eucharistic celebration as part of it, even leading to the emergence of new Ritual families in order to promote the full, active, and conscious participation by the community which is the agent of the celebration. We are told by the central authorities in the Church that the period of experimentation in the liturgy is over, while it has not been allowed even to start in a serious way. If various groups were doing various “experiments” because nothing was being allowed to happen, that is a reason to start real experimentation. Here the initiative belongs to the bishops’ conferences. I think that it is time that they asserted their responsibility and freedom in this matter.

Active participation demands that the people recognize the symbols spontaneously and do not need an elaborate introductory explanation. The symbols have a double meaning structure. The washing with or immersion in water at Baptism symbolizes purification and rebirth. The Hindus too wash themselves in the Ganges for the forgiveness of their sins. But in the context of the Christian faith, Baptism means, at a second level, dying and rising with Christ, becoming a child of God and becoming a member of the Christian community.

The first level of meaning of religious and sacramental symbols should be natural and self-evident. Only the second level needs to be explained. The symbols that Jesus and/or the early Church chose for the sacraments are natural, human, and social symbols like washing with water, anointing with oil, imposition of hands, and eating and drinking together. These are found in all cultures and can be understood at a first level by everyone. Only the second level of meaning will have to be explained in the light of the Christian faith.

Secondly, the “12 points” were proposed experimentally.
They have not since been reviewed after many years of experimentation. On the one hand, some groups in the Christian community, have suggested that these points were “Brahminical” in origin and other groups in the Christian community do not feel at home. As a matter of fact, if we remove the accompanying Sanskrit chants, I do not see what is “Brahminical” about the rites. The aarathis
are done by most cultural groups in India. I have seen Dalit and Adivasi groups doing it. However, it is true that the aarathis can be simplified and more focused.



I had suggested a review of the “12 points” many years ago. But my suggestions have fallen on deaf ears. I do not wish to go into the details here. Our bishops can do this on their own without taking this issue to the Synod. But a reference to these “12 points” at the Synod may inspire other local churches to do similar things on their own to make the Eucharist more meaningful for the people.2 For the Church in India the “12 points” were a first effort. They need to be further developed, perhaps with more sensitivity to local and cultural requirements.

The “12 points” seem to make the liturgy more prayerful. While it seems ideal for an ashram, it may be less suitable to a youth group. So I think the bishops’ conferences should have the freedom to develop different liturgies to suit different groups in the Church. Some liturgies could be more contemplative, while others could be more active.

My third point refers to the texts of the prayers in the Roman missal. The reform undertaken by the central authority in the Church has led to a new selection of prayers. The Church has gone back to its resources of early centuries. New prayers have been composed only for recently instituted feasts. The churches in other cultures are only allowed to translate these prayers for their own use. My questions are simple. Why should there be only a Roman missal? Why not an Indian or Chinese or African missal? After all, there are Byzantine, Coptic, Armenian, Syrian, and Maronite missals in the Church. Why should this freedom be denied to people who became Christians during the colonial period? Why should the people across the world not have the liberty to pray to God using the images and languages of their own cultures? Why should I put on a Latin mask when I enter the church? How many people understand or identify with the Latin turns of phrase and oratorical structure? I think the freedom given by the Council for the use of other languages in the Liturgy has been very narrowly interpreted.

It is often been repeated in the lex orandi (the law of prayers), lex credendi (the law of belief): that the prayer expresses the faith of the Church. The faith does not change. But the understanding of the faith and its theological explanation do change. If our doctrine and our theological understanding of the faith have changed over 20 centuries, it stands to reason that prayers written in the early centuries of Christianity may not reflect the contemporary understanding of the faith. There is a dichotomous contrast between this world and the next and an insistence on punishment and expiation for sin in the Latin prayers that a modern Indian Christian feels uncomfortable with.

If it is legitimate to have an Indian Christianity and an Indian theology, it is also legitimate to have prayers written in an Indian language, keeping in mind Indian cultural and religious sensibilities. If priests and ministers are tempted to improvise prayers, it is simply because either they do not feel at home with the prayers in the book or because the prayers do not meet the need of the moment. Anyone who has been present in charismatic prayer groups can testify that one of the attractions of such prayer groups is the freedom that people—non-priests—have to pray in their own way in their own language. This is also the secret of the success of popular devotions. It is in this context that the Indian bishops prepared an Indian Eucharistic prayer. If they are consistent, they should also demand an Indian missal composed by them with suitable assistance. The missal does not have the same status as the Bible in Christian awareness. It is a collection of prayers and need not be sacralized.

Finally, if the basic symbol of the Eucharist is a shared common meal, it must be experienced by the community as a meal, whatever the second level meaning that this symbol acquires in the context of the Christian faith. An important element in the meal is what we eat. Jesus understandably took the food and drink that was on the table during the paschal meal. He would expect that each community would share what it normally eats. Wheat is commonly available in India. There are regions in the world in which wheat will have to be imported. Unlike 20 years ago we have wine produced in India today. We do not have to import it any more from Italy or Australia. But there are countries in the world where wine is not produced. Even in India, wine is not the normal drink of the people, even on festive occasions. The question whether other materials besides bread made of wheat and wine made from grapes can be used in the Eucharist has been raised by theologians in different parts of the world. I would like to place this issue on the table for discussion, perhaps for future generations. It would not probably be taken up at this Synod.


The Liturgy of the Word

I shall now focus on some sections of the Eucharistic celebration. The first is the Liturgy of the Word. It is customary to speak of the Eucharist as consisting of two tables: the table of the Word and the table of the Bread. This part of the Eucharistic liturgy acquires greater importance today because many communities can celebrate only this part regularly. This is also the part that helps the people to look at their lives in the light of the Word of God and hear God’s call to conversion and God’s challenges to transform the world. The people are also helped to renew their vision of the Kingdom of God towards which they are moving. The homily by the priest can help to make the Word of God relevant to today’s situation.

But other ministers too can play the same role, though this is frowned upon by the central authority which seeks to protect the role of the priest in the community. The liturgy of the Word can be developed and enriched in various ways. The texts can be discussed by various groups at various times and places. I have known priests who prepare their homily with the help of a group of people who reflect on the Word of God with him during the week. The Basic Christian Communities and other similar groups can be encouraged to focus on the liturgical readings during the week. Leaders of these groups can be prepared at the level of the parish to facilitate discussions in such groups. Even on a Sunday the community can be divided in different ways according to their needs to read and reflect over the texts separately. I referred above to what is done for the children in some parishes. That method can be extended to other groups. At special times of the liturgical year and on festive occasions other media can be used: images, street plays, stories, PowerPoint presentations, short films, and corporal expressions like dance, music, and drama can be used both to communicate the Word and its challenges and to facilitate the response of the people. We often use the media for publicity. We do not use it in a provocative manner to inspire and challenge.



A creative celebration of the liturgy of the Word needs time. It is a question whether anything creative could be done within the one-hour limit that most Sunday liturgies seem to have, especially in modern, urban areas. If the Sunday liturgy cannot be prolonged, it is worth exploring whether the liturgy of the Word can be shifted to other times in the week in other groups, integrating all of these groups on a Sunday or another day in a common celebration around the table of the Bread.

May I mention in passing that nearly 30 years ago the Indian theologians evoked the possibility of using the Scriptures of other religions, of course in the context of the Christian Scriptures, in the liturgy. I shall not discuss this here except to say that I have seen some creative ways in which this can be done.


The Prayer of the Faithful and the Offertory

The prayer of the faithful and the offertory are the two occasions when the usually passive congregation becomes somewhat active. It may be good to encourage the people to come forward with their needs and propose them for prayer by the community in a way intelligible to everyone. This can be an excellent way of getting to know each other and of showing mutual concern. I do not think that this is exploited sufficiently in the liturgy.

People should, however, be helped to avoid making this occasion a press conference of their activities and concerns. One way of doing this is for a minister to collect written prayers. As they are read out to the community, the individual(s) concerned could be asked to stand up and be seen and recognized by everyone.

The offertory is seen today mostly as bringing gifts to the celebrant, especially if he is a special one like a bishop. In the early Church people brought bread and wine in abundance. A part of them that was used for the liturgy of the Eucharist, the rest was distributed to the poor after the celebration. Today of course the gifts can take other forms like money and the distribution to the poor too can be done in other ways. But it will be helpful if there is a public accounting of what is being received and distributed. We see this already happening in some churches. The offertory can also be made, on special occasions, the moment to express the integration of the whole universe in the self-offering of the community. Workers may bring their implements and products on Labor Day. Farmers can offer their produce on the feast of the harvest. Water, flowers, light, incense, and food can symbolize the five elements of the universe as the aarathis
do in the Indian celebration of the liturgy. This may be an occasion to highlight and develop the cosmic context of the Eucharistic celebration and to explore the ecological implications of offering the fruits of the earth and the work of human hands.


Eucharist and Sharing

In the Gospel of John, the Eucharist is set in an interesting context. Jesus gives the new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is loving God in the other as he shows in the mystical image: “That they may all be one….” He demonstrates the implication of such love and communion in a threefold way. First of all, he washes the feet of the disciples, giving them an example of humble service. Then he shares food and drink to indicate not only sharing, but also communion in life. Finally he offers his own life as a sign of his love unto death. This is explained well by Cardinal Ratzinger:

In truth, Jesus is killed; he is nailed to a cross and dies amid torment. His blood is poured out, first in the Garden of Olives due to his interior suffering for his mission, then in the flagellation, the crowning with thorns, the crucifixion, and after his death in the piercing of his Heart. What occurs is above all an act of violence, of hatred, torture and destruction. At this point we run into a second, more profound level of transformation: he transforms, from within, the act of violent men against him into an act of giving on behalf of these men—into an act of love. This is dramatically recognizable in the scene of the Garden of Olives. What he teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, he now does: he does not offer violence against violence, as he might have done, but puts an end to violence by transforming it into love. The act of killing, of death, is changed into an act of love; violence is defeated by love. This is the fundamental transformation upon which all the rest is based. It is the true transformation which the world needs and which alone can redeem the world. Since Christ in an act of love has transformed and defeated violence from within, death itself is transformed: love is stronger than death. It remains forever.3
The early Church sought to realize this communion. They sold all that they had, sharing everything in common and taking each one according to his/her need. It is in that context that they prayed and broke bread together. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul takes them to task for celebrating the Lord’s Supper unworthily, with some people feasting while others went hungry.

The message is clear. The Christian community cannot celebrate the Eucharist meaningfully if it does not share its goods. The sharing of food and drink is a symbol of sharing of life and all that life demands. In this context it is difficult to imagine a Christian community where some people are not able to meet their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, while others have plenty. The kind of communion that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles may be ideal. The early community itself was not able to maintain it since the apostles were obliged to appoint deacons to meet the complaints of the groups that felt neglected. But a community that does nothing to share its goods with the poor has no right to celebrate the Eucharist. Its Eucharist will have no meaning.

Today, Christians in rich countries are helping the poor in other countries. I would like, however, to make two remarks. Most of the richer countries in the world today became rich by exploiting others during the colonial period. Most of them remain rich or grow more rich by continuing to exploit others in open and hidden ways through unjust economic, commercial, and political structures. In such situations it is not enough that Christians share what they have. They also have to get involved in movements that seek to promote more just economic, commercial, and political structures. In today’s world individualistic liberal capitalism seems to be the dominant system. No one speaks of socialism anymore. Yet, I do not think that without a sense of community and solidarity we can move towards a more just world. The Eucharist must give Christians this sense of community and solidarity.




On the other hand, I am afraid that Christians in former colonial and mission countries like India are still keen to receive, but not fully ready yet to give and to share with the poor. Most parishes have social projects. It will be interesting to find out how much of the money comes from the parish itself. What structures have we set up to encourage the well-to-do Christians to help the poor?


Eucharist and Community

St. Paul affirms more than once that to share the new life of the risen Jesus is to recognize equality in the community. In the risen Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor master, male nor female. The gospel of Jesus should have been a message of liberation to the Dalits of India, oppressed as they are socially, economically, and politically. At a first stage, Roberto de Nobili affirmed that one could be Christian and Indian, not Portuguese. At his time and even today to be Indian is to belong to a caste. But it was a pity that nothing was done to abolish the system even within the Church. The Church took more than 300 years to declare that the caste system is sinful and unchristian. If this is true, then someone who practices the caste system insofar as it justifies social inequality has no right to celebrate the Eucharist, which is a symbol of equality and community. And yet, the hierarchical caste system has been and still is, in some places, an integral element of the celebration of the Eucharist. This is simply unchristian and unacceptable. It would be interesting and welcome if the Indian bishops came out with a statement on the occasion of the Synod saying that people who are still practicing caste discrimination cannot and should not celebrate the Eucharist. The problem is that the Eucharist has become simply an act of devotion and of union with God in and through Christ. Its social dimension is ignored, if not forgotten. It is time that we rediscovered it.

Similarly, the Eucharist has always been associated with reconciliation. It is in itself a sacrament of reconciliation as a celebration of community. Still villages and communities, divided by caste and other communal conflicts, will happily celebrate the Eucharist together, without realizing the meaninglessness of the gesture. Our theologians would not declare these Eucharists invalid because they focus only on the priest and what he does. With reference to inter-communion between Catholics and Protestants, it is often discussed whether the Eucharist is a means or a celebration of unity. I think that we could raise a similar question with regard to communities that are deeply divided.

Such an attention to the community dimension of the Eucharist should not, however, lead us to make use of it as an instrument to make people whom we consider “erring individuals” fall in line. We have heard of cases recently in the United States of America that some bishops were refusing communion, not only to political leaders based on their political policies, but also to people who voted for them in the elections. The community celebration should not become a political tool. The Synod could say something about such a practical matter.

Some bishops in Europe (especially in Germany) have raised other questions like inter-communion between Protestants and Catholics, at least in mixed marriages, on special occasions, and communion to Catholics who have been divorced and remarried. Theologians in Asia have raised questions regarding communion to members of other religions who manifest belief in Christ. I need not go into them since they are not likely to be discussed at the Synod.

Could the Synod be the occasion to bury the system of “mass stipends” once and for all? The people should certainly be encouraged to contribute to the maintenance of priests and of the Church. But any impression that they are paying for masses must be avoided. The kind of theology that suggests more masses = more merit = more grace should not only be discouraged, but forbidden. The ghost of indulgences refuse to disappear from the Church. If the mystical body of Christ is celebrating the Eucharist, certainly the living and the dead are involved in it. It is good for people to experience their fellowship with the dead in the context of the Eucharistic celebration. They can feel certain solidarity in prayer with the living and the dead. But, simply paying for masses to be said for the dead in which one is not present is certainly an abuse. A few months ago the newspapers in India reported that masses for the American dead were being celebrated in Kerala, South India. The papers, understandably, set it in the context of the phenomenon of “outsourcing” in industry!



The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not a problem for the Indian Church in general. So it does not merit discussion. But what may merit discussion is the various real presences of Christ of which the Council speaks.

The Christians in India may attend too exclusively to the presence of Christ in the sacrament and ignore the other real presences.

The point I would like to stress in conclusion is that the Eucharist is not primarily a celebration of Christ and of the priest who acts in Christ’s name (in persona Christi), in which the people are present and participate, but a celebration of the community, led by the priest and united to Christ as his body. The people are not merely called to participate, but to celebrate. The Eucharist should not be isolated as an act of devotion, but must be seen as the center of Christian life. As a symbolic celebration it supposes a life in conformity to what people celebrate. If the life of the people does not correspond to what the people celebrate, then the celebration becomes meaningless and ineffective. Therefore the priest and the people must pay more attention to how people live than to how they celebrate. God may make up for some deficiencies in the celebration. But even God cannot make up for the failure of people to live in love in the community in which they celebrate.






*Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 17 April 2003. English edition in L’Osservatore Romano, 23 April 2003.

**Redemptoris Sacramentum (On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist), 23 April 2003, Rome.

1. Here I am speaking with reference only to the Latin Church in India.

2. The “Congolese version of the Roman Rite for the Eucharist” is a similar example.

3. In a talk he gave to the Bishops of Campania, Italy, 2 June 2002.

Michael Amaladoss, S.J. is Professor of Theology at Vidyajyoti College of Theology in Delhi, and Director, Institute for Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Chennai, India. A well-known international speaker and prolific writer, he has written extensively on issues of mission, multiculturalism, inter-religious cooperation, and liberation theology. He is also a regular lecturer at the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI), Manila, Philippines


Towards a wholly Indian Church with aarti and bhajan

October 27, 2005
It may be a while yet to see a Christian priest attired in saffron or women performing aarti in the church, but the process of inculturation and Indianisation of the church is irreversible, say church leaders.

These and other issues will be discussed during the upcoming golden jubilee celebrations of the Papal Seminary here.

Father Kuruvilla Pandikattu… told UNI that… among the issues taken up for discussion would be reforms in the Indian Church… This is part of the Catholic Church’s efforts at inculturation (the incarnation of the Gospel in native cultures and introduction of these cultures into the life of the Church) besides reducing the use of the cassock (traditional robes of Christian priests), he said. “The Indian Church has already come a long way and aartis
are already being performed in a few institutions like the Papal Seminary here and the National Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre (NBCLC), Bangalore, where we provide training to priests to be truly Indian and genuinely Christian,” he added… Christians are interested in Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Christian Mission is grounded in Indian tradition, [he said].

Pune-based Catholic leaders like
Kurien Kunnumpuram, Francis X D’Sa and Joseph Neuner have been stressing on opening up the Church with lesser control from the Vatican and imparting training to be Indian.


Indian Church Divided on Inculturation Strategy to Entice Hindu Converts
By Mario Rodrigues, The Statesman, November 2, 2005

A conclave of priests and bishops at the Papal Seminary in Pune last week called for the renewed “Indianisation” of the Catholic Church and the adoption of
Hindu rituals, including
aarti during Mass

studying Sanskrit and the Vedas, experiencing ashram life
and so on. The conclave discussed this and other issues besieging the Church and the laity in the new millennium.
According to one report in the media, a seminary spokesman said: “The Catholic Church plans to adopt a number of Indian traditions and practices which will give us a feel of being an Indian.”
The issue, however, is not as simple as reports made it out to be. In the first place, the question of what “Indianisation” is and the limits to which it can be encouraged are a moot point.
For a vast number of Indian Catholics, “Indianisation” does not mean “Hinduisation” of the Brahminical variety, which is what reports seemed to suggest
Putting the issue in perspective, Fr Tony Charanghat, editor of the influential Church weekly, The Examiner, clarified that this was not a call for performing Hindu puja during Mass.
“We’re only for the use of rituals, myth and culture as the best means of communicating the message of Christianity in the Indian context,” he told The Statesman. He added that this process of inculturation was important because through it “we will be able to understand our own experience and our own culture better”.
European missionaries like Roberto de Nobili (the “Roman Brahmin”) and John de Britto, who came with the early Portuguese colonisers, were the earliest “Indianisers” who practised what they preached. Their message was kept alive by their disciples down the centuries but overall, the practices of Indian Christianity were decidedly Western till Independence.
But realisation dawned that the Church must become less Europeanised and more Indian to relate meaningfully to the social milieu in which it existed.
This process was fast forwarded by the epochal Vatican Council II (1962-65) when Rome shed its triumphal bearing and embraced ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue, inculturation and religious liberty.
This allowed the use of local languages (in place of Latin) and customs in Church services all over the world. It also gave a licence for a creative and radical reinterpretation of the Gospels, which in turn was responsible for the genesis of liberation theology in Latin America.
Christians form less than three per cent of the overall population of India and this includes Catholics (who subscribe to five rites), mainline Protestant denominations, other evangelical sects and the Orthodox churches of Kerala, both Catholic and otherwise.
Kerala churches have been proactive in their Indianisation tendencies and
activists of the Syro-Malabar liturgy once tried to forcefully put this on the agenda when the late Pope John Paul II visited India a few years ago.



In recent times, the process has acquired urgency because of the spate of attacks on Christians and Church institutions by the loony Hindu fundamentalist brigade that peaked during the “saffron raj” of the NDA at the Centre.
Today, Indianisation of the Church has come a long way. How far down the road of Indianisation the post-Conciliar Church here has travelled can be deduced from the fact that new-age churches are modelled after temples, the “Indian rite mass” (conceived by
Cardinal Parecattil of the Syro-Malabar Church
and the
Dr. Amalorpavadas of the Latin Church, “masterminds” behind the inculturation movement in India)
incorporates (Brahminical) Hindu rituals such as the chanting of Vedic and Upanishadic mantras.
Prayers begin with “OM”, readings are taken from the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagvad Gita, tilak is applied to foreheads of priests and people, priests wear a saffron shawl instead of a cassock and sit on the ground at a table surrounded by small lamps rather than stand at the traditional altar.
In addition, Indian music is played at Church services, the entrance procession for the Mass has girls dancing the

kirtans and bhajans are sung at Communion.

Priests and nuns are encouraged to adopt Indian religious values and customs in their religious practices and participate actively in Hindu festivals such as Ganesh-visarjan (immersion) and Raas Lila.
Many priests and nuns have anyway renounced their Western names and taken on Indian ones and many Church institutions now bear Indian names such as Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune (Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion), Sadhana meditation centre, Lonavla, Satchitananda Ashram, Trichy and so on.

Priests and nuns are besides encouraged to live in ashrams and experience divinity through the practice of disciplines such as yoga, vipassana, transcendental meditation, reiki, pranic healing and so on.

Diehard conservatives in the clergy have been appalled by the changes and one searing critic has described this process as a “scandalous ecumenism with Hinduism”.
Such attempts have also not gone down well with sections of the laity. “The leadership wants to inculturate and have been contextualising theology to suit the Indian milieu but lay people are not willing to change,” Fr Allwyn D’Silva, director, Documentation, Research & Training Centre at the St Pius College, Mumbai, said. He felt this was the “main block” faced by the Church in several regions, especially in a city like Mumbai where the population is cosmopolitan.
But this is not the only problem.

Another stumbling road block is the question of what is Indian and whether Brahminical Hinduisation should be the dominant theological and liturgical trend in the Church.
There has, in fact, been stiff opposition to the advance of “Hinduisation” from radical Dalit theologians such as the late
Rev. Arvind Nirmal, the Rev. M. Azariah and the Rev. James Massey, who have accused the high caste-dominated Church leadership of “Brahminising” Christianity in the name of “Indianising” the church
“The current or traditional Indian Christian theology, which is based upon the Brahmanic (sic) traditions of Hindu religions did not/does not address itself to or reflect the issues which the majority of Christians faced either before or after they became Christians. It is because this expression of theology is based upon the religious traditions of the minority even among the Hindus, because Brahmins (priestly caste) represent 5.22 only of the total population of India,” Rev. Massey has argued.
These Dalit theologians have made a stinging critique of the Church’s internal power structures and its alliances with the ruling elite and vested interests, leading to sections of the clergy and laity challenging these oppressive structures both in Church and society and demanding empowerment.
This is one reason for the recent attacks on Christians orchestrated by upper caste-led leaders of the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. Dalits, who form about 70 per cent of the total Indian Christian population, are still discriminated against even in the Church, and their ideologues and leaders would surely oppose such Brahminical trends being imposed from above.
Not that the Church is not aware of these problems. “Christianity does not mean uniformity and has taken into account cultural diversity,” concedes Fr. Charanghat, while acknowledging the existence and importance of several little cultures and liturgies such as tribal liturgy and subaltern liturgy which have to contend with the “greater culture” (Brahminism).
“For them (Dalits), adopting these things would be anathema since they are fighting against hierarchy,” he avers.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India, with a view to accommodating contrasting tendencies, has left it to regional bishops to decide what appropriate Indianisation is, informs Fr. Charanghat. “It is a struggle and a challenge for us how to Indianise,” he says. Indeed, it is. The recent expression of resolve at Pune amply demonstrates that the battle continues.


Aartis and bhajans for Christ- are you ready for it?

By Nishitha Nair, Mumbai, November 2, 2005

There are few things that we all associate with the church mass — the priest giving sermons and parishioners reciting hymns. But if the Papal Seminary is to be believed, the mass is in for an Indian makeover. At the three-day celebration, starting Oct 25, organised in Pune to celebrate the 50th anniversary if the Papal Seminary, priests from across India decided to
seriously adopt Inculturation.

Father Andrew Sequeira, parish priest of
St Anthony’s Church, Malvani
, who attended the function, explains, “Inculturation means adopting Indian rituals in the mass so that locals can identify with it.




In our parish, we have already started this by doing aarti on special occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day, etc. We also do the Sashtang Namaskar before mass.” Father Sequeira adds that European ideas have no meaning in India and they even perform Christian marriages with saat pheras*. “The difference is that instead of taking them around the holy pyre, we perform them around Jesus, who we consider the centre of any relation. However, taking these pheras is a matter of choice,” he says, adding, “Ten years ago a Catholic couple requested for the pheras. It was a beautiful ceremony.”

*The seven vows, also known as saptadi, of a Hindu wedding

Here’s what other priests in the area have to say about the idea:
Father Salvador Rodrigues, Parish priest, Orlem Church, Malad:
Q Will parishioners accept this change?
A Any new concept will be taken negatively. We will first have to educate people about the changes before introducing them.
Q Have you introduced any changes?
As part of the Inculturation programme we plan to make Hindi the mass language as more people understand this.

If you attend a prayer service in a village outside Mumbai, you will realise that they are extremely local. Vasai is a beautiful example of this and we also want to adopt this change. We are trying to encourage people to gain a deeper understanding of their own language. We could all celebrate Christmas, Diwali, Eid, Pongal and Onam together.
Father Clarence Fonseca, Parish priest, Assumption Church, Kandivli (W):
Will parishioners accept this change?
A They may not accept it easily. But once they understand the rituals and their importance over time, they will be
more open.
Q Have you introduced any changes?
A We have already introduced certain Indian practices like performing aarti on special occasions. We sing hymns in Hindi. In our church, I would like to first introduce enculturation by adopting the local language as it is a good expression of any culture. We should first try to bring various cultures together then change rituals.
Father Franklyn Mathias, Parish priest, IC Colony Church, Borivli:
Will parishioners accept this change?
A They may not be open to the idea yet. We will need to educate them thoroughly before implementing it. People should first understand the value and beauty of Inculturation.
Q Have you introduced any changes?
A I believe language is the first step towards enculturation. People will be able to recognise the values of a culture through its language. We have set the foundation with our Thanksgiving celebration, where people from different cultures like Mangaloreans, Goans, and Keralites have set up stalls so that people can learn how each one celebrates the same festival in a different way.


Lay Catholics’ responses:
‘We will accept change but it shouldn’t be daily’. -Brenda Carneiro, IC Colony, Borivli (W)
“We already do the aarti on special occasions. However, if enculturation lengthens the service, I would have a problem because we are all hard pressed for time. I would not want it to be a daily feature. It should be reserved for special occasions.” -Tony Goveas,
IC Colony, Borivli (W)
“I would definitely accept this change. I have seen masses outside Mumbai, where the entire service is conducted in the local language and even the music has a local influence.” -Wilma D’Souza, Charkop, Kandivli (W)
“I will definitely accept this. I am an Indian and am proud to be one. We have already adopted the Indian style of dressing so why not the other practices.” -Veena D’Souza,
Mahavir Nagar, Kandivli (W)
“We used to have aarti and used Ashoka leaves during service a few years ago, So I am definitely in favour of this idea. However, I would like an Indian influence and
not a Hindu
one in the services.” -Llewellyn Quadros,
Malvani, Malad (W)
“I might accept these changes if they are occasional. I think once or twice a week will be fine but definitely not daily.”
-Roshan D’Souza, Malvani Village, Malad (W)
“I am not very sure if I will accept the change. I am a little sceptical right now. I will decide after I attend one such mass.”

[Name deleted by mistake]



Dear Michael, Today I was disturbed when I read a local metro paper (it’s a part of Midday).

It has an article “Aartis and bhajans for Christ- are you ready for it?”

This article interviewed four parish priests from Malad, Kandivali and Borivali. Fr. Sequeira from Malad, St Anthony’s Church, Malvani says his parish has already started performing aarti on some occasions!!!
Please check the link
Indian Christianity: In Search of the Christ within, by Suma Varughese, December 1999.

It says: Fr Michael Gonsalves
goes a step further:
“We must substitute the Old Testament of the Bible with Indian history, scriptures and arts. For us, the Holy Land should be India; the sacred river the Ganges; the sacred mountain the Himalayas, the heroes of the past not Moses, or David, but Sri Ram or Krishna.”

Are there really priests like this around?



Hindu “Mass” Sparks Violent Altercation in Toronto Churchyard
(Traditionalist) See also page 43

By Cornelia R. Ferreira, Catholic Family News, August 2006

George’s eyes were glazing over. The “Indian Rite of Mass” was in full swing at St. Ann’s Church in Toronto on Sunday, July 2, 2006, and he felt he was being hypnotized by the endless monotonous chants and the flowing hand movements of the Indian dancing girls. Feeling nauseated, he left the front of the church and walked to the back to clear his mind. Along the way he noticed people frozen in the pews as though in a trance.

George and some friends had learnt of this event at St. Ann’s through flyers that announced a “Roman Rite Liturgy of the Eucharist with religious cultural adaptations of India, approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India“.

The Presider would be a certain Father Thomas D’Sa, Director of the National Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) of the Indian Bishops’ Conference in Bangalore, India. The flyer pictured a “Jesus” dressed like a Hinduized Catholic priest, squatting in front of a large plate on which rested a huge “host” the size of an Indian unleavened bread called chappati.

George, unaware that the NBCLC was actually founded by the Indian bishops forty years ago in order to Hinduize the Church in India, [1] was scandalized by the idea of pagan rituals at a Catholic Mass. Complying with his Confirmation grace to defend the Faith, he and his friends went to St. Ann’s to educate and warn attendees that the service advertised in the flyer as the “Indian Order of Eucharistic Celebration” would be Hindu, not Indian. They intended to peacefully demonstrate beforehand with placards proclaiming sentiments such as “Hinduism is not part of Catholicism,” and “Inculturation is the work of the devil”. They also wished to distribute copies of this writer’s article on the Hindu rituals used during Mother Teresa’s beatification Mass, [2] telling people to read it to understand what they would encounter. They did not have the opportunity, however, to carry out their plan until after the service, with unexpected results. But more on that later.

It should be noted that the event was advertised on the Archdiocese of Toronto website although there is no “Indian Rite” or “Ordo” that has official Vatican approval. Also, there is no exclusively “Indian” religion or culture, as many religions co-exist in that country. The “Mass” concocted in 1969 by the Indian bishops has always been a Hindu-Catholic syncretic hybrid, the version at St. Ann’s being an obvious adaptation for Western audiences. [3]

As for dance during Mass, which has always been forbidden, even the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, in 1975, said dance “desacralizes” the liturgy, “introducing an atmosphere of profanity”.[4]


The Voice of Dance

The service was a consciousness-raising workshop, with Fr. D’Sa explaining the significance of each dance and ritual. Though cloaked in Catholic terminology, the explanations made it clear that he would be conducting Hindu worship or puja, with the barest essentials of the Mass grafted onto it. (Indeed, as it turned out, missing would be the Creed, Lamb of God and Final Blessing.) In any case, Hinduized Catholics do not use the words “Lord,” “Jesus,” or “God” in the Catholic sense. Hinduized priests admit that people at a puja-Mass “are not praying to some Christian Deity, but to the Deity who is understood and experienced in different ways in different religious cultures and traditions,”[5] i.e., they pray to the pantheistic, universal, impersonal Absolute, the Hindu god.

It was announced that Fr. D’Sa and his dance troupe were on a workshop tour. They had been in Europe and their next stop was the University of Winnipeg (“Celebrating Spirituality and Dance,” as advertised on Winnipeg’s Archdiocesan website).

A little background on the troupe is in order. Named “Nrityavani,” which means “the voice of dance,” it is an official organ of the Indian Bishops’ Conference. It was devised “to inculturate Catholicism through dance” [6] — in other words, to Hinduize Catholic liturgy and belief worldwide, through its adaptations of Indian classical dance, which is an expression of Hinduism. Directed by Fr. D’Sa, Nrityavani features Catholic dancers as young as nine, and at least one dancing priest. [7]

Now, in February 2006, the occult humanitarian Art of Living Foundation, a United Nations non-governmental association, founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (not the sitarist), held an interfaith Jubilee celebration. It drew 2.5 million people to the “first ever ‘spiritual Olympics’,” who meditated together as a “One-World Family”. Dignitaries included the Archbishop of Bangalore and over 1,000 spiritual leaders, as well as World Bank executives, NASA engineers, movie stars, heads of government and Nobel Laureates. Former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers was also present; he is a partner of Mikhail Gorbachev in promoting the Earth Charter, and also Hans Küng’s associate for the anti-Christian Global Ethic. In line with Shankar’s philosophy, Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam suggested using music “as a binding force” for the world’s religions to promote an enlightened society and world harmony. Shankar also believes that “even inside the devil there is divinity, but it is sleeping. When it wakes up, the devil simply disappears“. [8]

On April 2, 2006, the Indian bishops honored Shankar’s Jubilee with a function at the NBCLC. The Indian website commented: [9] “As the word ‘Catholic’ stands for a universal outlook encompassing everyone, NBCLC respects every religion”. The celebration theme was “Pilgrimage towards inner harmony” and “Living with people of other faiths”. Following NBCLC Director Father D’Sa’s welcome speech and Hindu devotional songs, Nrityavani dances depicted that “Wisdom is divine and the divine gifts are to be distributed freely”.


Homage to the Gods: OM, ARATI and BINDI

Let us now return to the Hindu Ordo Mass at the century-old St. Ann’s Church in Toronto. Site of a Native Peoples’ Parish for two decades, it had already been desecrated by Canadian Indian rituals.

Before the Mass, Father D’Sa announced he would be explaining the dance gestures and postures as used in “the Indian culture.” He said the Entrance Procession would be preceded by an opening dance honoring the Blessed Trinity.



The three barefooted Nrityavani dancing girls positioned in front of the altar were introduced respectively as representing, by their gestures, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity Dance featured the chanting of the magic (occult) mantra OM as each “Person” of the Trinity came “on stage”. Hinduism teaches that we need to develop the inner consciousness of our divinity and our oneness with the Absolute. Mantra vibrations induce a trance (recall George’s unease) in which we can feel ourselves one with the Supreme Divinity. OM is the supreme vibration as it means “I Am” (appropriating the name by which the true God revealed Himself!). It began creation and initiates awareness. For this reason, and because “Divinity alone can worship Divinity,” every puja must start with OM, to help us recognize our “I Am”-ness and oneness. Mantras and hand gestures also allegedly purify and divinize the body. [10]

OM also is the Hindu god Krishna, himself a reincarnation of the god Vishnu, who is the personification of the Absolute. It also has sexual and black magic meanings. Further, the trunk of the elephant-head god Ganesha or Ganapati also represents OM, so Ganesha is usually the first god worshiped in a traditional puja.

In 1980, Wladislaw Cardinal Rubin, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, forbade the use of OM because it is “an essential, integral part of Hindu worship”.

Since the actual sound of OM represents the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, [12] and since the whole ceremony was profane, we are led to believe that the Holy Trinity Dance at St. Ann’s honored the Hindu, not the Christian Trinity.

After the Blessed Trinity Dance and [13] Entrance Procession, the priests were greeted with an arati of lights, after which Father D’Sa performed the same arati towards the people. He had earlier told them, “We shall also welcome you with an Indian gesture called arati, with flowers and with a lamp”. As a dancer demonstrated how the arati plate is waved in three circles, Father D’Sa explained that the first circle stands for God who created us and the universe, the second circle for the universe, and the third for our fellow human beings. “In this way,” he said, “we are united with God, the universe, and with our fellow human beings in this one gesture called arati“. This statement clearly denoted the Hindu nature of the proceedings, as Hindus believe all men are united with the universal Absolute. Hinduism’s other deities are manifestations of the divine One.

Father D’Sa was disingenuous in describing arati as a mere “welcoming gesture” instead of as the most important ritual in Hindu worship. Arati is defined as a temple ritual in which a fire or light on a plate is waved in a clockwise direction in front of a deity, an important person, or anything valuable. Light is worshiped as the Supreme Lord of inner consciousness. The clockwise direction symbolizes one’s divinity, revealed by the “flame” or light of knowledge. Fire and light themselves are worshiped. Indeed, the puja-Mass was advertised in the flyer as “Divya Yagam,” a term meaning “worship of the Light”… Further, the Hindu gods demand adoration with flowers, incense and light. It just so happens that the puja-Mass features a triple arati of fire, flowers and incense sticks later in the proceedings.

Father D’Sa was the main celebrant, and the pastor of St. Ann’s the concelebrant. Both priests sported a white dot between the eyebrows. There are several varieties and meanings for this dot, the first being that the wearer proclaims he is a Hindu. The location between the eyebrows is supposed to be a center of spiritual energy and a focus of meditation. The dot in that position represents the “third eye” of divine inner sight — i.e., of occult knowledge and abilities — and awareness of unity with the universe, which Hindus seek to awaken. Focusing on the god within, the dot is a symbol of the worship of the intellect. [14]

Before the washing of the hands, Father D’Sa performed a superstitious ritual, offering blue and red flowers to the “eight directions of the world”. He said the flowers symbolized those present who were from different cultures and traditions, hoping for unity. However, in the regular Hindu ritual, flowers are offered to the gods of the eight directions, honoring the eight aspects of the god Shiva. The ritual is also done to obtain the protection of the god who rules a particular eighth section of the universe. Another reason for this puja is that one doesn’t know from which direction the Absolute Lord will come.[15] A different god, seemingly chosen according to need, is invoked for each direction. Father D’Sa himself chanted eight names as he touched the flowers to his forehead, nose and chest, then carefully arranged them on the altar at the compass points surrounding the host and chalices.

After the Great Amen, the dancing girls performed a triple arati of flowers, fire and incense to the accompaniment of more pagan chants whilst the celebrants held aloft the consecrated Sacred Species. Father D’Sa announced that this blasphemy was “the climactic part of our Eucharistic Prayer”.

At the Kiss of Peace, the congregation was told to fold their hands and do the Indian greeting of namaste to their neighbors. Namaste means “the god in me honors the god in you”. It awakens the third eye of the greeter to worship the god in the greeted. [16]

Another abomination took place at the Our Father. Instead of reciting the prayer together as a congregation, the people were asked to sit down while the girls launched into another interpretive dance number. Most gestures were completely unfathomable, with the exception of receiving bread and forgiving trespasses (a shove, hurt feelings, forgiveness, hugs all around). The musical accompaniment was a Hare Krishna chant! Father D’Sa intoned the words “Our Father” four times. The response each time was the mantra “Hare Krishna”; towards the end of the prayer, the mantra was repeated over and over. Krishna, the reincarnation of Vishnu, who represents the Absolute Lord, is said to have seduced 16,000 women, and a whole occult, erotic literature has been developed around this aspect of Krishna. [17]

The words “Hare Krishna” mean “O energy of the Lord (Hare), O Lord (Krishna), please engage me in your service!”

This energy is actually the goddess Radha, Krishna’s chief consort, who “helps the devotee achieve the grace of the supreme Father,” Krishna, who reveals himself to the sincere devotee. The mantra “Hare Krishna” is thus supposed to awaken spiritual consciousness. [18]


Replacing the Final Blessing, the Dance of the Last Supper was performed to illustrate the “social dimension” that should result from celebrating the Eucharist. The portrayal of “what we must do when we go out into the world” included the washing of the feet and another depiction of forgiveness. Finally came the mutual gestures of appreciation between the two priests. The pastor announced a second collection to defray the touring expenses of the troupe. In gratitude for his hosting of the “Indian Order of the Eucharist,” the pastor was presented with a garland of flowers and a large picture of “Jesus as an Indian [i.e., Hindu] guru, Jesus in contemplation”.

The only applause came at the end of this presentation, and it seemed “led” and rather restrained. The absence of clapping by a liberal congregation was most unusual. Did the rituals engender a trance state, as intended, and as George had observed? Not everyone was hypnotized, however.

Some people walked out during the service and others did not receive Communion.


All Hell Breaks Loose

Throughout the blasphemous puja-Mass, George’s friends Joan and Rose sat at the back, praying Rosaries, Litanies and other prayers. They spoke audibly, but quietly, “so that people would know something was wrong.” Right after the service, they started passing out copies of the Mother Teresa article to people inside the church. A Sister of St. Joseph (in plainclothes) testily enquired, “Did you get Father’s permission?”

“We don’t need Father’s permission,” they replied. The three kept handing out copies, urging people, “Read this. It explains everything that took place just now in this church.”

Standing on the front steps, they continued, “The church has been desecrated. The Body and Blood of Our Lord have been desecrated. Don’t go to this church anymore!” At times they added, “The two priests are going to hell because of this!” Some people accepted the articles, others didn’t. One woman asked for a bunch and started distributing them herself.

The nun tried frantically to stop the demonstrators. “Get off the property! Get off the property!” she yelled. She ordered people not to take the article. “They don’t have Father’s permission. They are invading our church. They are strangers come to cause trouble.” She even snatched articles from parishioners’ hands and ripped them up.

People started hustling Rose and George down the steps. Suddenly, alerted by the furious nun, the pastor, still in his vestments (and garland), emerged and rushed wildly towards them. “Keep off the church property!” he shouted, trying to choke Rose.

“I saw the devil in his eyes,” she recalled.

George rushed to her defense, putting himself between the two. “Get your hands off her!” he shouted. “What do you think you’re doing, Father? Why are you picking on a woman? Pick on someone your own size!” (Rose is a diminutive 110 pounds, whilst both men are sturdily built, around 200 pounds.)

The priest knocked him aside and tried again to throttle Rose, so George intervened again. The priest was seen to punch and kick him, and George had to shove him away in self-defense. At some point the pastor was also seen ripping up Mother Teresa articles. Then he grabbed the bag of rolled-up placards Rose was holding and started shredding them to pieces. George retrieved the bag. Several times the trio accused the priest of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

About 50 church attendees were milling around, some seemingly stunned by the sight of their pastor attacking a woman and initiating a brawl. Several by-standers, however, entered the fray on the side of the priest, including one elderly woman who used her motorized wheelchair as a weapon. She ran over Rose’s foot, injuring it, and tried the same with George.

Many demanded to know who they were and from which organization they had come. “We are Roman Catholics just like you. We’re not from any organization,” they replied.

One man accused them of not following Vatican II.

Finally, indicating with a contemptuous hand movement that the trio were crazy, the pastor returned to the church. Ironically, he seemed to have forgotten the message of universal love and harmony pervading the Hinduized service.

For her own part, Rose thought only of the sacrileges, desecrations, and blindness of those involved. “It’s sad,” she said, reacting to the day’s events. “It’s very, very sad.”



1. This is well documented in Victor J.F. Kulanday, The Paganization of the Church in India, 2d rev. ed. (San Thome, Madras: 1988).

2. Cornelia R. Ferreira, “Mother Teresa ‘Beatified’ with Idolatrous Rites,” Catholic Family News, January 2004 on the web at (also available as a reprint #902 for $2.50US).

3. The original version is described in Kulanday’s book.

4. Ferreira, ibid.

India: The Lotus and the Cross, television documentary produced by Vishnu and Rita Mathur, SilverTouch Productions [Toronto], 2004.

6. Father Aidan Turner, “Man of Vision Bring [sic] Indian Dancers to Mass,” in “Diocesan News,” The Voice,, August 2005.

7. Ibid.; (click on News, “Recent Events, “Nrityavani, June 1, 2005). The website lauds the troupe for spreading the Gospels “via Asian Dance,” thus disguising its Hindu-evangelizing nature even further.

8. “Silver Jubilee 2006,”

9. Jessie Rodrigues, “Bangalore: NBCLC Honours Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar”.



10. Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati and Brahmachari Parameshwara, The Art of Seeing God,” homepage.asp (click on “library”); Ashok Basargekar, “Perceiving the True Identity of the Absolute,” pooja.txt; “Om: Symbol of the Absolute,” library/weekly/ aa022200.htm.

11. Ferreira, ibid.; “Attributes of Ganesha,” whoisganesha.htm.

12. John B. Noss, Man’s Religions, 3d ed. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1963), p. 279; Kulanday, pp. 82-83, 151.

13. Ferreira, ibid.

14. Articles on the dot can be found at; _9/msg00176.html; uk/HinduCulture.html; and

15. “Upachara: Offerings,” in “Shri Shri Shiva Mahadeva,”; Jayaram V., “Ashtadikpalas: The Eight Vedic Gods,” hinduwebsite. com/hinduism/dikpalas.asp; “Perceiving the True Identity”.

16. See namaste.

17. Noss, pp. 287, 289-90.

18. “Maha-mantra,” main.php?id=620; A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, “Chanting Hare Krishna,” bhakta/chapter7.html; “Hare Krishna …,” 2003/04/009.html; Noss, pp. 289-290. Note: The mantra chanted at the Our Father was not the version popularized by the Hare Krishna Movement.



Hindu “Mass” Sparks Violent Altercation in Toronto Churchyard
(Traditionalist) See also page 40 EXTRACT

By Cornelia R. Ferreira, August 2006, updated

(The article from which I am citing here seems to have been further updated in March 2010 and is also different from the article on the preceding three pages. Since I only preserved an extract of the older updated article, the reader may click on the above link so as to read the newly-updated one. –Michael)

The flyer below reads: Roman Rite Liturgy of the Eucharist with religious cultural adaptations of India approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. DIVYA YAGAM Indian Order of Eucharistic celebration St. Ann Church (corner De Grassi St. and Gerard St. East) Presider: Fr. Thomas D’Sa Director of the
National Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre (CBCI)
Bangalore, India

The “Indian Rite of Mass” was in full swing at St. Ann’s Church in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday, July 2, 2006…

It should be noted that the event was advertised on the Archdiocese of Toronto website although there is no “Indian Rite” or “Ordo” that has official Vatican approval. Also, there is no exclusively “Indian” religion or culture, as many religions co-exist in that country.
The “Mass” concocted in 1969 by the Indian bishops has always been a Hindu-Catholic syncretic hybrid, the version at St. Ann’s being an obvious adaptation for Western audiences.[3] As for dance during Mass, which has always been forbidden, even the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, in 1975, said dance “desacralizes” the liturgy, “introducing an atmosphere of profanity.”[4]







Fr. Thomas D’Sa performing arati TO the congregation. Even if Rome has been tricked into permitting the arati in the Twelve Points of Adaptation of the Indian Rite Mass, this action is definitely NOT envisaged. Indian priests continue to do whatever they please during the Eucharistic Sacrifice.


The service (photographed and video-taped by the intrepid band of traditionalist protesters) was a consciousness-raising workshop, with Fr. D’Sa explaining the significance of each dance and ritual. Though cloaked in Catholic terminology, the explanations made it clear that he would be conducting Hindu worship or puja, with the barest essentials of the Mass grafted onto it…

It was announced that Fr. D’Sa and his dance troupe were on a workshop tour. They had been in Europe and their next stop was the University of Winnipeg (“Celebrating Spirituality and Dance,” as advertised on Winnipeg’s Archdiocesan website).

A little background on the troupe is in order. Named “Nrityavani,” which means “the voice of dance,” it is an official organ of the Indian Bishops’ Conference. It was devised “to inculturate Catholicism through dance”[6] – in other words, to Hinduize Catholic liturgy and belief worldwide, through its adaptations of Indian classical dance, which is an expression of Hinduism.

Directed by Fr. D’Sa, Nrityavani features Catholic dancers as young as nine, and at least one dancing priest. [7]

On April 1, 2006, the Indian bishops honoured Sri Sri Ravi Shankar‘s* Jubilee with a function at the NBCLC… Following NBCLC Director Father D’Sa’s welcome speech and Hindu devotional songs, Nrityavani dances depicted that “Wisdom is divine and the divine gifts are to be distributed freely.” […]



Let us now return to the Hindu Ordo Mass at the century-old St. Ann’s Church in Toronto. Site of a Native Peoples’ Parish for two decades, it had already been desecrated by Canadian Indian rituals. Before the Mass, Father D’Sa announced he would be explaining the dance gestures and postures as used in “the Indian culture.” He said the Entrance Procession would be preceded by an opening dance honouring the Blessed Trinity. The three barefooted Nrityavani dancing girls positioned in front of the altar were introduced respectively as representing, by their gestures, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Another abomination took place at the Our Father. Instead of reciting the prayer together as a congregation, the people were asked to sit down while the girls launched into another interpretive dance number. Most gestures were completely unfathomable, with the exception of receiving bread and forgiving trespasses (a shove, hurt feelings, forgiveness, hugs all around). The musical accompaniment was a
Hare Krishna
Father D’Sa intoned the words “Our Father” four times. The response each time was the mantra “Hare Krishna”; towards the end of the prayer, the mantra was repeated over and over. Krishna, the reincarnation of Vishnu, who represents the Absolute Lord, is said to have seduced 16,000 women, and a whole occult, erotic literature has been developed around this aspect of Krishna. [17]

The Blessed Trinity Dance featured the chanting of the magic (occult) mantra OM as each “Person” of the Trinity came “on stage.” […] Father D’Sa was the main celebrant, and the pastor of St. Ann’s the concelebrant… After the Great Amen, the dancing girls performed a triple arati of flowers, fire and incense to the accompaniment of more pagan chants whilst the celebrants held aloft the consecrated Sacred Species.

Some pictures taken from

Also at and



3. Victor J. F. Kulanday, The Paganization of the Church in India, 2d rev. ed. (San Thome, Madras: 1988).

4. Cornelia R. Ferreira, Catholic Family News, January 2004.

6. Father Aidan Turner, “Man of Vision Bring [sic] Indian Dancers to Mass,” in “Diocesan News,” The Voice,, August 2005.

7. Ibid.; (click on News, “Recent Events,” Nrityavani, June 1, 2005). The website lauds the troupe for spreading the Gospels “via Asian Dance,” thus disguising its Hindu-evangelizing nature even further.

17. John B. Noss, Man’s Religions, 3d ed. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1963), pp. 287, 289-90. Kulanday, pp. 82-83, 151.



CCBI Liturgy Commission Releases
a Book on Arathi

October 2006

The Liturgy Commission of the CCBI has brought out a book on Arathi and the syllable Om based on the research on these two ritual symbols of India, which are adopted here and there in Christian worship in the spirit of inculturation and dialogue. The newly appointed Deputy General Secretary of the CCBI, Fr. Udumala Bala said that he was happy for the release of a new book from the Liturgy Commission of CCBI as relevant and most modern studies in the Spirit of Vatican Council should take place in India.  He affirmed that Liturgy includes every aspect of Christian life. When we can rightly adapt having good understanding of the social symbols of the nation in the Indian culture made by qualified people according to the directives of the Catholic Church it will help us to integrate the message of Christianity in the national and social life of the people in a meaningful way.  

Speaking to SAR News the liturgist, Fr. Jesudhasan Michael, the Executive Secretary of the Liturgy Commission of the CCBI said that his book, ‘Worship in the Agamic Tradition of Hinduism’ speaks mainly of his studies on the method of adopting Arati in India and the meaning of the Syllable OM in Indian tradition

The book handles objectively with the help of the existing Hindu Literature, the more sensitive and controversial issues in liturgical inculturation in India regarding the use of Arathi and the syllable OM. 

Fr. Jesudhasan who has a doctorate in Liturgical studies claims that the information on the Agamic Tradition of Hinduism and the description of Hindu Worship, given in this book though not exhaustive is the result of his one man team study of the ancient literature, and his encounter with the experts of Hindu religion. Explaining the reasons for writing the book the priest said that the Vatican document, Sacrosanctum Concilium urged the active participation of the people in the liturgy and the need of adapting the liturgy to the culture and the tradition of the people.

The very nature of the liturgy calls for a full, conscious and active participation on the part of the people in liturgical celebration because it is their right and duty by reason of their baptism, it said. 

To promote the active participation the Council speaks of adaptation of the cultural elements in the liturgy.  

Acknowledging that the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in the liturgy it affirms the Church’s principle of pluralism, even in the liturgy in matters not affecting the unity of the faith or the good of the whole community. 




It was this aspect of adaptation that encouraged the Church in India to introduce certain cultural elements and religious symbols into Christian liturgy, the author said. 

One of the 12 points of Adaptation approved by Rome for the Church in India was the rite of Arati during the Eucharistic celebration and subsequently this rite was added in the Roman missal for use in India.  

Taking the cue from this development, there were attempts here and there to adopt the Hindu religious symbol of the syllable OM too in our liturgy.


‘Worship in the Agamic Tradition of Hinduism – Adopting arati and the syllable OM in Christian Worship’


This booklet tries to look into these two elements from the point of view of Hindu religious worship, as
these are two important elements in any Hindu temple worship, said the author.

The book does not claim to be exhaustive it is the result of a personal study on the problem of Arati and OM in Christian Worship based on literature and available documents. The booklet also will help to understand the real problems that persist in India in the process of inculturation, said the Executive Secretary of the Commission for Liturgy, the scholar said.    



We will examine some of the contents of this book on pages 65 through 75 of the present report.

Fr. Michael Jesudhasan is also the author of:

-Preparation of the gifts in an order of the mass for India (Latin rite): a historico-theological study in the perspective of the liturgical renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council, 2001

-Liturgical renewal in India before and after the second Vatican Council, 2004


The Indian Rite of the Eucharist

By Fr. Michael Amaladoss, 2007

(MISSIO is an international church organization that provides network for encounter, dialogue, and solidarity between religions and amongst cultures.)

Immediately after the Second Vatican Council there were many efforts to adapt the Liturgy to Indian culture. The Church in India got approval to make some external adaptations in the way that the Eucharist could be celebrated in India. According to these adaptations the celebrant and people could sit cross legged on the floor. Every one entered the Church on bare foot. The celebrant wore a shawl over the alb or cassock. Oil lamps were used instead of wax candles. There was a special purification rite purifying the place, the altar and the participants. This was followed by reconciliation and the exchange of peace. The oil lamp (a big, commanding one) was ceremoniously lit to welcome Jesus in the symbol of light after the ceremony of reconciliation. Gestures waving the light, flowers and incense are signs of honour in Indian social practice. They were used to welcome the celebrant and the community, to honour the Word of God before the readings, during the offertory and the doxology after the Eucharistic prayer. Full or partial prostration was suggested after the doxology. Indian music and instruments were used. Indian forms of music like bhajans, which are repetitions of simple invocations, were also used to promote prayerful concentration. Meditative moments of silence were introduced after the readings and after communion. On festive occasions dances during the entry and offertory processions could also be integrated, especially in tribal areas. Indian artistic decorations could further enhance the Indian atmosphere.

An Indian Eucharistic prayer and a suggestion that a reading from other religious scriptures could be included in the Liturgy of the Word were not approved.

One can see that the basic ritual structure of the Roman rite of the Eucharist was not touched. The prayers were not changed; they were translations of Latin originals. But the rite made to look Indian by many decorative elements.



These gestures could highlight or accentuate one or other attitude during the liturgy. It was carefully explained that the gestures like the aarathi (waving of light, etc.) were really cultural. Though they were used in Hindu worship, they were also used on secular occasions to welcome honoured guests. Sitting cross legged is a posture of worship and meditation in India. It helps repose and concentration. It is also the posture used while eating in Indian homes. ]

People who participate in this rite say that it is very prayerful and contemplative. This is the positive aspect of the adaptations. The Eucharist has been interpreted as a sacrificial ritual. The focus is on worship. The elaborate rite of purification already sets the tone by carving a sacred space for the celebration. The lighting of the lamp dramatizes the presence of Christ. The prostrations and the aarathis (wavings) highlight the vertical dimension of worship. The repetitive chant of the bhajans and the periods of silence can promote a contemplative atmosphere. The use of the materials in the aarathis during the offertory can be interpreted as symbolizing cosmic integration. Already the accompanying prayer in the Roman rite speaks the ‘fruits of the earth’. The flowers, the light and the incense, together with the bread and wine can be interpreted as symbolizing the five elements of the cosmos: the earth (bread), the waters (wine), the air (incense), the fire (light) and the ether (flower). If we also include the people who are offering, the whole cosmos is offered to the Father.

Among the various ritual traditions in Hinduism, the adaptations have been inspired by the puja (honouring) of the bhakti (love and devotion) tradition. The bhakti tradition believes that God is not merely transcendent, but comes down to the earth in various manifestations or avatars. Worship then takes the form of welcoming and honoring the divine presence in its current manifestation. The aarathis are designed for this. In the liturgy of the Eucharist, God is present in two ways: as the Father who receives our offering and as Jesus who is the one who offers and also God’s gift to us as food. The divine presence is further strengthened by the symbol of light (the lamp). These manifestations are honoured by the aarathis, prostrations and bhajans. God’s presence is further interiorized in a meditative atmosphere. We can say that as an action of contemplative worship the Indian rite is a success. A number of critical comments however can be made.

People have criticized it as representing the culture of the elite Hindus, not taking into account the popular cultures of the tribals and the Dalits (the oppressed caste). It may not also cater to the ‘modern’ culture of the young people. I think that this remark is correct. It only means that we should have many ritual forms to cater to the many cultural groups in a big country like India. It has done well in integrating one particular – the dominant – Indian culture. After celebrating it nearly for thirty years, it may be time to look at it again. I think that it needs simplification. Since the community is a group of the baptized people, the elaborate purification rite focused, not only on human sinfulness and unworthiness, but also on the general impurity of the place and the material objects is exaggerated. The number of aarathis also could be simplified and readjusted with their meanings clarified. I can see a meaning is the various aarathis symbolizing a cosmic integration. But the aarathis are actually focused on the gifts of bread and wine. The prayer accompanying them are also addressed to Jesus Christ, whereas the offering is made to the Father. Similarly, during the doxology after the Eucharistic prayer, the aarathis are visibly made to the body and blood of Jesus which the priest is holding up, while the prayer of the priest is addressed to the Father: “Through him, etc.” While the prayer could be changed at the offertory, the gesture could be changed during the doxology. One way of doing it during the doxology is for the priest to wave the body and blood of Jesus, together with the flower, incense and light, as an offering to the Father, to whom the prayer is addressed.

A second, more serious, criticism is that it highlights the vertical aspect of worship in the liturgy and ignores the horizontal dimension of its being a community action. The Eucharist is primarily a common meal in which the community shares bread and wine in memory of Jesus, who becomes bodily present in the bread and wine, uniting the community as his (mystical) body. As a community action it must symbolize sharing and fellowship among the members of the community. But the Indian rite is so verticalized as contemplative worship that the social dimension seem little present. Of course, there are no abuses that Paul points to in his letter to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 11:17-34) I think that the dimension of sharing, both the Word and the Bread, should be much more highlighted. Attention also should be paid to the gathered community. Since the caste system is still very prevalent in India, it is more important that there are no overt caste discriminations in the gathered community than whether there are more or less aarathis.

Finally we should not forget that this is the very first step in the inculturation of the Liturgy. Technically, we cannot call it the ‘Indian rite’, but the ‘Indian order of the Roman rite’. The Council was open to the emergence of local rites (Indian, African, Chinese). But this is being blocked. I have no space to go into it here. But, one serious issue we should consider is the material used for the Eucharist, namely bread and wine. If the symbolic action in the Eucharist is a common meal then the material used must be what the people usually eat and drink. Otherwise the material becomes mysterious and sacralized. The focus shifts from the symbolic action of the community to the materials used.

Michael Amaladoss, S.J., Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Chennai, India.



Dissatisfied with the already Hinduised Novus Ordo Mass, Jesuit Fr. Michael Amaladoss (see also pages 28, 31) is hell-bent on “horizontalizing” its worship, forgetting that the Holy Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of Himself offered by Jesus Christ to His Father. He apparently advocates the use of chappati (“what the people usually eat”) instead of unleavened bread. I wonder what he has in mind for “drink” instead of wine.


The Beatification of Mother Josepha Stenmanns

By Sr. Michaela Leifgen SSpS and others, June 29, 2008

Another highlight of the Holy Eucharist was the Indian Dance “Arati” during the Doxology.




Leaving the arati aside, a dance during the Doxology (or the Offertory, see page 15) is a liturgical abuse!

At least three Bishops and the Provincial and Superior General of the SVD congregation were present.

The arati took place because of the presence of SSpS nuns from India at the ceremonies and the Mass.





The above illustration is from page 2263 of the 2008 edition of the St. Pauls’ New Community Bible (NCB). The woman wearing the Hindu mark, the bindi, is performing arati with flowers, a coconut and a flame on a thali.

Along with dozens of commentary passages and another syncretistic line drawing, the line-drawing has been removed from the Revised Edition 2011 following protests from this ministry and letters to Rome.


Eddie Russell of Flame Ministries International, Australia, has this to say about the NCB:

As with the totally compromised Philippine Community Bible, the Indian bishops have also jumped to inculturate the authentic Bible translations, supposedly to make it more acceptable to Indians of all religions.
No doubt that the criteria for this compromise and accommodation has been spurred on by the
12 Points of the Indian Rite Mass, a Mass that allows certain Hindu practices and rituals to be included. According to the Vatican correspondent, Victor J.F. Kulanday’s book, “The Paganisation of the Church in India”, this Rite was slipped through the process to gain its approval*. Now, the recent approval of the New Indian Bible seems to be a progression of the paganisation of the Church in India.

Source: The New Hinduised Catholic Bible – A concern for the fate of truth,

Eddie Russell was referring to the arati in the above passage!

Eddie Russell also describes the NCB as a “Heretical Indianised Catholic Bible” and affirms, “I cannot accept it, and will always oppose it“.



Query on Indian Marital Symbols

November 16, 2008

Posted by: “Austine Crasta” [Moderator]

The liturgy is primarily the work of God, not of man. And what the Church celebrates in the liturgy is what she herself believes. Hence the ancient Latin dictum ‘Lex orandi, lex credendi’ (the law of prayer is the law of belief.)



Therefore the prayers said in the liturgy, the hymns sung, the signs and symbols used; all these must be in accordance with the mind and faith of the Church. That is also the reason why no one (unless explicitly permitted by law and within those fixed limits), not even if he is a priest, may on his own initiative add, remove or change anything in the liturgy.
For e.g., in recent times, it has become a kind of fashion here for the wedding couple (or one of them) to go pull out the microphone and sing a sort of a ‘love song’ in the thanksgiving moment after communion. Even the priests are helpless when that happens because the couple thinks it is ‘our day’. THAT SORT OF A PERSONAL INITIATIVE HAS NO PLACE IN THE LITURGY.
The Church has clearly set out the guidelines of what may and may not be done in the liturgy.
So far as India is concerned the Church has NEVER explicitly ‘okayed’ the use of ‘Aum’/’Om’ in the liturgy.

Nor has the so called ‘Indian Rite Mass’ or even the ‘Indian Anaphora’ ever been approved.
The ‘arati’ however has been approved by the Vatican in 1969 and may be used in the liturgy – a single arati to welcome the celebrant and/or a double or triple ‘arati’ of flowers and/or incense, and/or light at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer (in the Roman Rite this is known as the ‘Canon’ and in the Eastern Rites as the ‘Anaphora’).
It must be noted that the approval of the above places no obligation on either the celebrant of the community to incorporate it into worship. It simply means that it CAN be legitimately done in the liturgy.
However prudence demands that such adaptations should be introduced only where necessary/useful and should be preceded by a period of proper catechesis. All in all, the worship in the local church should not become so overly inculturated that one no longer feels part of the universal church or that an outsider is not able to participate in that worship.


New Church Dedicated to St Gonsalo Garcia Inaugurated in Vasai
Mumbai, February 10, 2009

A new church dedicated to the native saint Gonsalo Garcia was inaugurated by Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Vasai on February 8 at 5pm. The church is located near the Bishop’s House in Vasai which is also known as New Barampur area. This new parish has a large number of Konkani-speaking people.
“The entire Vasai Diocese is for the people of all languages,” declared the Bishop while inaugurating the church. “We have worked very hard, hand-in-hand to build this church and the land of agriculture has become the land of God today,” he said.
Vasai, a suburb of Mumbai, is known for Catholics of different ethnicity and for the churches. Historically Vasai has a significant status. Christianity is flourishing here since the last 2000 years. It is said that St Bartholomew, one of the disciples of Jesus, had brought Christianity here.
Before the inauguration, there was a procession from the Bishop’s House to the newly-built church, accompanied by a brass band. A beautiful dance was presented by the children while entering the gates of the church. The Bishop was then welcomed with the Aarthi
and a Bindi


Catholic Psychologists meet in Varanasi


Catholic Psychologists and Counsellors had been meeting every year for three days since 2000. Two years ago they officially formed a Conference, with Dr. Jose Parappully, a Salesian Priest from the Province of New Delhi, as its first President. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Children with Special Needs”. The meeting was commenced with a Eucharist presided over by Fr. Subhash, the General of the Indian Missionary Society (IMS) who have their headquarters and motherhouse at Varanasi…
The inaugural session was presided over by Most Rev. Patrick D’Souza, Bishop Emeritus of Varanasi. The session began with a beautifully rendered prayer dance and welcome song by the students of Nav Sadhana College of Music and Dance. Fr. Jose Parappully SDB, the CCPI president welcomed the guests and participants…
There were moments of relaxation too. On the first night participants were treated to a cultural programme by the students of Nav Sadhana College of Music and Dance. On the second day participants went on a “Varanasi Darshan,” the highlight of which was participation in the “Maha Arati” on the banks of the river Ganges. (See also page 23)
The Ganges or Ganga is India’s “sacred” river. Find out who Fr. Jose Parappully SDB is and know what goes on in the name of “Catholic Psychology and Counseling” in my report SANGAM INTEGRAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY CENTRE, GOA-NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGY, ETC. -a whole lot of New Age.


Bangalore: NBCLC Celebrates St. Cleophas Feast

News & Pics: Jessie Rodrigues, September 28, 2009 EXTRACT

It was a joyous moment for the religious, staff of NBCLC and faithful to join in the celebration of St Cleophas feast, the birthday of the director of NBCLC, the first celebration in the centre here recently.



Fr. Antony Kalliath, assistant director of NBCLC in his welcome address appreciated Fr. Cleo (the Director) for his friendly approach with everyone in the centre.

The programme began with the Holy mass with Fr. Cleo as main celebrant and Fr. Antony along with Fr. Vijay Shanthraj as co-celebrants. This was followed by a cultural programme to felicitate Fr. Cleo.

Note: All the performers are adorned with bindis


October 6, 2012

Secular Satiricus lives and learns. Not that he did not already know that Indian secularism is perpetually in danger and constantly needs to be saved from the deadly virus of Hinduism. But he had thought this meant saving the Islamic essence of our secularism. He was wrong. He now realises that Indian secularism does not have only an Islamic essence, it also has a Christian core, which needs some serious saving from the viral infection of Hinduisation. Take this big picture that appeared in the papers the other day, showing three leading lights of the Indian Church being given a horridly Hindu welcome. The caption said: His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennachio, Apostolic Nuncio to India, with his Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Pune Bishop Rev. Thomas Dabre at the foundation stone laying ceremony of St. Antony’s shrine in Pune. What severely shocked Satiricus’s secular sensibilities was the unpardonably anti-secular way in which the picture showed these Christian eminences being welcomed by two Christian ladies. One of them had an arati thali in her hands, while the other held a mangal kalash, complete with a coconut, the age-old shriphal of the Hindus.
Satiricus, of course, was aghast. How could any Indian worth his secular salt stand such unholy Hinduisation of a Christian welcome? So Satiricus demands that the secular government of India run by a Roman Catholic put an immediate stop to such Hindu pollution of Christian purity. At the same time, he is aware of the fell fact that Indian Christianity, the second pillar of Indian secularism, is falling prey to this pernicious process for quite some time. For instance, in 2008 an ‘Indianised’ edition of the Bible was published somewhere in the south, in which Vedic verses were quoted to explain the teachings of Jesus Christ. The phrase “treasures of heaven” occurring in Matthew’s gospel (6:19, 21) was actually explained as meaning the same as Nishkama-Karma-Yoga expounded in the Gita. Could there be anything more abominably anti-secular than crassly claiming that what the Gospel preached 2000 years ago was the same that the Gita preached 5000 years ago? …

Some churches now allow Christian ladies to apply bindi, although it has been discovered to be the “devil’s dot”. Then there is a Christian mission somewhere that is called an Ashram. Somewhere else a church had lit lamps on Diwali although a Christian television channel in the US of A had described it as a damnable day of darkness.


The Archbishop MOST REV ANTONY PAPPUSAMY D.D, S.T.D., took possession of the Metropolitan See on 24th August 2014 at the Installation Mass presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio at St. Britto School Grounds, Gnanaolivupuram, Madurai.


The Installation ceremony of the Archbishop Elect, Most Rev. Antony Pappusamy took place at 5:30 p.m. at St. Britto School ground of Gnanaolivupuram parish on 25th August 2014. MOST REV. SALVATORE PENNACCHIO, THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIO TO INDIA presided over and conducted the Installation ceremony. The Archbishop Elect was led in chariot procession toward the ground where the Nuncio and the Archbishop Emeritus, Most Rev. Peter Fernando were waiting. The procession of the mass began exactly at 5 pm with the entrance hymn. More than 350 priests came in procession and the following bishops were present for the Holy Eucharist: Most. Rev. George Anthonysamy, the Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, Most Rev. Anandarayar, the Archbishop of Kadalure-pondicherry, Most Rev. Peter Fernando, the Archbishop Emeritus of Madurai, Most Rev. Jude Paulraj, Bishop of Palayamkottai, Most Rev. Susaimanickam, Bishop of Sivagangai, Most Rev. F. Antony Samy, Bishop of Kumbakonam, Most Rev. Peter Remigius, Bishop of Kottar, Most Rev. Kuttinadar, Bishop of Ramanathapuram, Most Rev. Singarayan, Bishop of Salem, Most Rev. Neethinathan, Bishop of Chengalpattu, Most Rev. Most Rev. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop of Coimbatore, Most Rev. Lawrence Pius, Bishop of Dharmapuri, Most Rev. Antony Devotta, Bishop of Trichy were present. They all came in procession to the altar bringing in center the Archbishop Elect and the

Nuncio, Most Rev. Salvatore Pennacchio. During the procession the bio data of the New Archbishop was read out.
When the ecclesiastical dignitaries reached the stadium, a welcome ceremony, Mangala Aarathi, was performed by 15 women which is a cultural welcome offered to honourable dignitaries on auspicious occasions. Later, the Nuncio after incensing the altar took his seat and began the Holy Eucharist. At each part of the ceremony a short commentary was read out indicating to the faithful what was going on. When the Archbishop Elect came to the altar he was led to a special seat and pews which were kept in front of the altar.


A Malabar Rite Eucharistic Pooja

By Robert Foss
This liturgy is derived from the Bharatiya Pooja, which is a Eucharistic liturgy of the monks of Kurisumala Ashram, a monastery located near the town of Vagamon, in the Malabar region of southern India.
While the monks are Trappists (Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance), their praxis, their dharma if you will, attempts to integrate Catholic worship with the Hindu-Indian culture in which it is practiced. The Bharatiya Pooja is the liturgy they use on days other than Sundays or major feasts, when the Syro-Malankara rite is used. It is the liturgy of their daily lives, and is most dear to their hearts.
The Bharatiya Pooja was developed by and under the direction of the ashram’s previous abbot, Father Francis Mahieu, the Acharya, who died in January 2002. He and Dom Bede Griffiths, of blessed memory, co-founded the ashram. They are luminary figures, so the liturgy was probably quite safe so long as Father Francis lived. There was concern, however, that with Father Francis’ passing the Bharatiya Pooja might fall into disuse, or even be formally suppressed, because it lacked the support of the Church’s hierarchy.
We edited the Bharatiya Pooja for North American use, renaming it A Malabar Rite Eucharistic Pooja. We are making it available, in part, because we wish to see the spirit of the Bharatiya Pooja preserved, protected, and used, even if only by a limited readership…

PRASANNA POWA (Oblation and Elevation)

Priest: Father-Mother God, we worship You and we thank You for having made us to come near the body and blood of
Your Divine Son through Your Holy Spirit.
Raising the talam with both hands: Triple arati, or Trivitharati with light, incense and flowers.


The liturgy is liberally sprinkled with “Om“s, the Trinity is called “Sachidananda” which is NOT by any means its equivalent, the Confiteor is a “spiritual cleansing… to contemplate errors made“, everyone prays to God to “forgive our errors“, the priest entreats God “to free you from the burdens of your wrongdoings” (did you expect to hear the word “sin”?), and forbidden inclusive language is used (“Father-Mother God“, “you are our Father and Mother“). At one time, the priest prays, “Because humankind disobeyed you, who are goodness itself, we lost eternal life and the dharma declined, ignorance surrounded us with spiritual darkness.

Again Hindu, because ignorance may be dispelled by enlightenment which may be achieved through yoga.

When the priests raises the bread and wine, he says, “An offering of life on the tray of Golgotha/Here on this altar, the hill of Golgotha and the wooden Cross/The land of Tyaga and the place of Yoga/The cup of the blood, The cup of the blood…


On Mangalorean Catholics, a question concerning the arati:

From: Lúcio Mascarenhas <> October 19, 2005



Although I am a Goan, I have had many Mangalorean friends…

I had posted a query for Mangalorean Konkani Christians, first on (which has still not been approved as of now), and now I take the opportunity of asking it here:
Hi! As a Goan, I know that Goan Christians do not practice Aarti ever. However, because it is alleged on the internet that “Indian Christians” do practice Aarti, I am trying to verify whether any “Indian Christian” community ever historically practised Aarti without opposition from the Church from the time of St. Thomas Apostle until Pope Pius XII (October 2, 1958).
What do Mangaloreans have to say on this issue concerning themselves? And do anyone of you have information on the other “Indian Christian” communities, such as Tamil, Malabarese, Andhra, etc. Catholics?
Please do inform me.
By “Aarti” I mean not principally the “prayer” but the physical action, which usually is done by rotating a “thali” bearing a lamp, some flowers, sometimes some fruits, etc., in a clockwise direction in front of a person, idol or statue, instruments, the tulsi plant in the “aangan”, working tools and vehicles, etc., as an act of worshipping these persons or things as god.
Until a few years ago, I was aware that only the pagans, i.e. Hindus, Jains, etc. performed Aarti. Since about 2000, however, I have become aware that it has been adopted by Christians and that both priests and laymen perform it. I consider it Idolatry and incompatible with Christianity, which is why I am researching on this subject. See for example this page from Daijiworld, where it is apparent that the Gokarn Madhavacharya is being worshipped (2nd photo from top) by means of the Aarti:

Please consider this matter as being important. I humbly request you to read my query and post carefully and then answer. I will be collating the replies I receive.


Dear Bab Lucio Mascarenhas,
In fact I am a Mangalorean. I have seen Aarti during Mass during number of Solemn Masses, Feast Masses, Ordination, Wedding and other special occasion masses in and around Mangalore. In fact in Karkal Attur (St. Lawrence) which is a famous pilgrimage place for Mangaloreans there are lots of Hindu customs are practiced. Namely tying a thread on the hands (We call it Minjirk in Konkani), Holy Kunkum, Holy Oil, offering things in terms of silver & gold for any prayers heard (We call it Angovnn, and it is called as Parake by Hindus in Mangalore who all speak in Tulu language). But when I visited Vailankanni to my surprise I found almost all rituals practiced by Hindus are practiced by Christians. Aarti is only one part of it.
By the way are you aware of the Hindu style masses?
The priest dresses like a Bhat-Mam and the whole mass goes on exactly like temple worship. I have attended some of the masses. I am sure number of our members may come forward to contribute more on these things.

Dev Borem Korum, Salu Soz (He is Ancy D’Souza, the liberal owner of the Mangalorean Catholics yahoo group)


From: Lucio Mascarenhas

Dear Salu-bab,
Thanks for your reply. I am aware of the happenings in Vailankanni. I was not aware of the “Hindu Mass”, “Indian Mass” or “Indian anaphora” being used, because I was informed that,
after sustained protests, especially by Catholics and Hindus in Bangalore, also involving court cases, injunctions, etc., and especially against Cardinal Lourduswamy and his brother, the leaders of this movement, the Vatican had banned it until further orders.
The ban does not cover the Aarti, which remains approved.

It is the Hindu-style mass, called the “Indian anaphora”, that is (or was) banned. A friend who is in touch with French missionary priests in Kanyakumari district, belonging to the SSPX ( told me that one of the SSPX priests had, on a visit to the Vailankanni Church, found the tabernacle flanked with a shivalingam on each side, in the Sanctum. I have requested for photographs of this, if possible. I am still awaiting it.
What I am angling at, is, was any of this permitted under the “old rules” that obtained till October 1958, and continued in an increasingly modified form till 1970? Lucio


What is “Aarti”? EXTRACT

By Lúcio Mascarenhas 

“Aarti”, also written as “arti” and “arati” (which latter is the closest to the original) is a Hindu religious rite or ceremony, which is an act of worship of the recipient or object as deity or as a deity.

The word “Arati” means a primæval, gut-felt cry out to the deity by the supplicant.

The theological underpinnings of the ritual of “Aarti” is the Hindu belief that all souls and living beings, and even the spirits or souls attributed to inanimate things such as stones, rocks, mountains, rivers, etc., are deities, as part of the pantheistic concept of Brahman.

Brahman is conceptualized as an impersonal Supreme Deity above the three SuperGods, the Gods (“Devas”), and other classes of spiritual beings.



Every spirit, including of the three SuperGods and the Devas, the souls of men, animals, plants and things, are fragments or emanations of this Supreme Deity or Supreme Godhead, “Brahman” (also called the “Brahma-Atma”, “Cosmos-Soul” or “Param-Atma”, the “Supreme-Soul”), which have been separated and are in a state of unknowing (“Maya”).

As such, each of these spirits is a part of this Supreme Godhead, and therefore participates in the common Godhead and are therefore deities in themselves.

Therefore, as deity, each of these spirits or souls can be worshipped with divine worship: what the Catholics call “Latria”.

Catholicism affirms that souls and spirits are not a part of the Godhead, and therefore not divine, and that they may not be offered the quality of worship that is reserved to God alone, that is, “Latria”.

Therefore, it follows that Catholics may not knowingly either perform the “Aarti” ceremony, or permit it to be performed upon oneself, and those that persist in doing so, are considered to have committed a grave sin against God, and to have apostatized…


The usual utensils for “Aarti” are a small earthen or metal container in which oil or butter is burnt with a wick, called a “diya” or “deepak” (both meaning lamp), placed in a round flat plate with a rim, called a “thali”, in which are also placed some flowers, color powders, etc. This is the basic type. Others are more developed or complicate affairs, consisting of tiered galleries in which the “diyas” are fitted, if they are not made an integral part of the utensil. 

When a person is marked with a Tilak, he has obtained that mark by either of two actions — he has been worshipped by the rite of “Aarti” as a god, at the end of which ceremony, his forehead is marked; alternatively, when a congregation worships an idol, the celebrant performs the “Aarti” upon the idol, at the end of which, members of the congregation bow or slightly stoop before the celebrant who marks them with the color-powder from the “thali” as a mark that they had participated in the worship of that idol, and where receiving the mark is considered a kind of communion with it. 


A secular explanation of arati which says that the arati is a Hindu religious ritual


Aarti also spelled aratiarathiaarthi (from the Sanskrit word aratrika with the same meaning) is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities.

Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when lamps are being offered.

When performed by Hindus, Aarti is conducted before a murti (sacred icon) or divine element (such as the Ganges River).

It is also part of Sikh Worship and carried out at Hazur Sahib, Patna Sahib and various Nihang’s Gurdwaras.

When performed by Sikhs, Aarti is performed in front of the Guru Granth Sahib.


Aarti is derived from the Sanskrit word Aratrika, which means something that removes Ratri, darkness (or light waved in darkness before an icon).[1][2][3] 

Another word from which Arati is thought to be derived is the Sanskrit word Aaraartikyam (Sanskrit: आरार्तिक्यं).

Aarti is said to have descended from the Vedic concept of fire rituals, or homa.

In the traditional aarti ceremony, the flower represents the earth (solidity), the water and accompanying handkerchief correspond with the water element (liquidity), the lamp or candle represents the fire component (heat), the peacock fan conveys the precious quality of air (movement), and the yak-tail fan represents the subtle form of ether (space). The incense represents a purified state of mind, and one’s “intelligence” is offered through the adherence to rules of timing and order of offerings. Thus, one’s entire existence and all facets of material creation are symbolically offered to the Lord via the aarti ceremony. 

The word may also refer to the traditional Hindu devotional song that is sung during the ritual.


Aarti is generally performed one to five times daily, and usually at the end of a puja (in South India) or bhajan session (in North India). It is performed during almost all Hindu ceremonies and occasions. It involves the circulating of an ‘Aarti plate’ or ‘Aarti lamp’ around a person or deity and is generally accompanied by the singing of songs in praise of that deva or person (many versions exist). In doing so, the plate or lamp is supposed to acquire the power of the deity. The priest circulates the plate or lamp to all those present. They cup their down-turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to their forehead – the purificatory blessing, passed from the deva’s image to the flame, has now been passed to the devotee.


The aarti plate is generally made of metal, usually silver, bronze or copper. On it must repose a lamp made of kneaded flour, mud or metal, filled with oil or ghee. One or more cotton wicks (always an odd number) are put into the oil and then lighted, or camphor is burnt instead. The plate may also contain flowers, incense and akshata (rice). In some temples, a plate is not used and the priest holds the ghee lamp in his hand when offering it to the Deities.


The purpose of performing aarti is the waving of lighted wicks before the deities in a spirit of humility and gratitude, wherein faithful followers become immersed in God’s divine form. It symbolises the five elements:

1. Space (akash)

2. Wind (vayu)

3. Fire (agni)

4. Water (jal)

5. Earth (pruthvi)


Communal Aarti is performed in the mandir; however, devotees also perform it in their homes.

When aarti is performed, the performer faces the deity of God (or divine element, e.g. Ganges river) and concentrates on the form of God by looking into the eyes of the deity (it is said that eyes are the windows to the soul) to get immersed. The flame of the aarti illuminates the various parts of the deity so that the performer and onlookers may better see and concentrate on the form. Aarti is waved in circular fashion, in clockwise manner around the deity. After every circle (or second or third circle), when Aarti has reached the bottom (6–8 o’clock position), the performer waves it backwards while remaining in the bottom (4–6 o’clock position) and then continues waving it in clockwise fashion. The idea here is that aarti represents our daily activities, which revolves around God, a center of our life. Looking at God while performing aarti reminds the performer (and the attendees of the aarti) to keep God at the center of all activities and reinforces the understanding that routine worldly activities are secondary in importance. This understanding would give the believers strength to withstand the unexpected grief and keeps them humble and remindful of God during happy moments. Apart from worldly activities aarti also represents one’s self – thus, aarti signifies that one is peripheral to Godhead or divinity. This would keep one’s ego down and help one remain humble in spite of high social and economic rank. A third commonly held understanding of the ritual is that aarti serves as a reminder to stay vigilant so that the forces of material pleasures and desires cannot overcome the individual. Just as the lighted wick provides light and chases away darkness, the vigilance of an individual can keep away the influence of the material world.


Aarti is not only limited to God. Aarti can performed not only to all forms of life, but also inanimate objects which help in progress of the culture. This is exemplified by performer of the aarti waving aarti to all the devotees as the aarti comes to the end – signifying that everyone has a part of God within that the performer respects and bows down to. It is also a common practice to perform aarti to inanimate objects like vehicles, electronics etc. at least when a Hindu starts using it, just as a gesture of showing respect and praying that this object would help one excel in the work one would use it for. It is similar to the ritual of doing auspicious red mark(s) using kanku (kumkum) and rice.


Hinduism has a long tradition of aarti songs, simply referred to as ‘Aarti’, sung as an accompaniment to the ritual of aarti. It primarily eulogizes to the deity the ritual is being offered to, and several sects have their own version of the common aarti songs that are often sung on chorus at various temples, during evening and morning aartis. Sometimes they also contain snippets of information on the life of the gods.

The most commonly sung aarti is that which is dedicated to all deities is Om Jai Jagdish Hare, known as “The Universal Aarti” and is another common aarti song. Its variation are used for other deities as well such as Om Jai Shiv omkara, Om Jai Lakshmi mata, Om Jai Ambe gauri, Om Jai Adya Shakti. In Ganesha worship, the aarti Sukhakarta Dukhaharta is popular.

In Swaminarayan Mandirs, Jai Sadguru Swami is the aarti that is sung. In most temples in India, aarti is performed at least twice a day, after the ceremonial puja, which is the time when the largest number of devotees congregates.


Aarti performed at South Indian temples consists of offering a camphor lamp (or oil lamp) to the Deities and then distributing it to the devotees, who line up. They hover their hands over the flame and touch their hands to their eyes, this may be done once or three times. It is the last ritual performed in puja. Aarti is also referred to as Deepa Aaradhanai in TamilDeepaaradhanay in KannadaDeepaaradhanamu or “Haarati” in TeluguDeepaaradhana in Malayalam.

In Gaudiya Vaishnavism, aarti refers to the whole puja ritual, of which offering the lamp is only one part. A shankha (conch) is blown to start the aarti, then an odd number of incense sticks are offered to the deity. The lamp is offered next, and then circulated among the devotees. A conch is then filled with water, and offered; the water is then poured into a sprinkler and sprinkled over the devotees. A cloth and flowers are then offered, and the flowers are circulated to the devotees, who sniff them. The deity is then fanned with a camara whisk, and a peacock fan in hot countries.


Aarti in Sikhism

Amritsari Sikhs resist performing Aarti as Hindus perform, but a few Sikh Gurdwaras perform Aarti in similar manner. It includes two TakhatsHazur Sahib and Patna Sahib. A few Nihang Sikhs also carry out Aarti in same manner. According to them, difference in their Aarti is that Sikhs do Aarti of divine wisdom, which is in form of Guru Granth Sahib, where Hindus perform the same before stone idols. The concept is similar to bowing before Guru Granth Sahib on knees, the practice which is common in Hindus while bowing before Idols.



Aarti (also spelled Arati, Arthi, Aarthi, Aarthy, Arti or Artee) is also a name for Indian women.


1. आरात्रिक Sanskrit English Dictionary, Germany

2. James Lochtefeld, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, page 51

3. Monier Williams Sanskrit Dictionary; Quote: ArAtrika n. the light (or the vessel containing it) which is waved at night before an icon; N. of this ceremony.


Hindu explanations of arati, all of which say that the arati is a Hindu religious ritual


Aarti: Invocation ceremony or a welcoming ceremony. Normally involves waving a lamp gently in front of the deity.

Aarti (waving a lamp in front of the deity) ceremony may be carried out to invoke and welcome the deity… 
We may observe the ‘aarti’ ceremony (a lamp is gently waved in front of the deity in a clockwise direction). The lamp is passed around and everyone cups their hands over the lamp to receive blessings. 


(Shree Swaminarayan sect)

Aarti has a very important role in the daily worship/ puja schedule. Normally Aarti is offered at various times of day, but the most generic schedule looks like follow:

Mangala Aarti — this is offered in the morning after waking up The Lord. This has to be offered definitely before sunrise, possibly by 4:30 am.

Shreengar Aarti — this is offered after the deities are dressed up for the day. Normally a mirror is placed before the deities for Themselves to observe Their sringar (dress-up).

Rajbhoga Aarti — offered before the noon bhoga offering.

Sandhya Aarti — offered during the twilight hour.

Shayan Aarti — offered before deities are put to rest for the day.

According to the different religious practices, different numbers of Aarti offering are done.

One should first take the mental permission of his guru before performing the Aarti, and then concentrate fully on the deities to whom he is offering the Aarti. Generally, Aarti is offered by circling the Lotus Feet of the deities three times, then the middle portion of the deity’s body (buttonhole) two times, the Lotus face one time and then circling the whole deity seven times. This is the standard method, though some different practices are also found in shastras.


Actor Vikas Bhalla performs arati for idol of Ganesha (DNA, Mumbai, September 11, 2005)


Actor Jeetendra performs arati for idol of Ganesha (DNA, Mumbai, September 13, 2005)



Arati for the deity (L), for the individual (R)


Thali (prayer plate) for arati


3. Why do we perform arati?

How to perform Aarti?

Aarti belongs to one of the sixteen steps (shodash upachaar) of the Hindu puja ritual. It is referred to as an auspicious light, illumining pure spiritual effulgence (mangal niraajanam). Holding the lighted lamp in the right hand, we wave the flame in a clockwise circling movement to light the entire form of the Lord.

As the light is waved we either do mental or loud chanting of prayers or simply behold the beautiful form of the Lord, illumined by the lamp. We experience an added intensity in our prayers and the Lord’s image seems to manifest a special beauty at that time. At the end of the Aarti, we place our hands over the flame and then gently touch our eyes and the top of the head.


Importance of performing Aarti

In the Era of Strife or Kaliyug, man doubts the very existence of God. In such a spiritual climate, offering Aarti has been designed as an easy means for man to be able to realize God. Offering Aarti means calling out to God with intense yearning. If a human being calls out to a deity through the medium of the Aarti then he is granted a vision of God either in the form of light or in any other pious form.  


Deity is appeased

The hymns in an Aarti which are chanted in praise of the Deities entail an earnest prayer made unto God to win His grace. The Deities and God, who bestow grace, are thus pleased with the praises and worship of the one who offers Aarti.


Composers of the Aarti

Most of the Aartis have been composed by great saints and evolved devotees. An Aarti contains both the resolve and blessings of the spiritually evolved. Thus, the seekers benefit at the material and spiritual level due to the benefit accrued through their ‘Energy of Resolve’.


Activation of spiritual emotion

The rule of Bhakti or Path of Devotion signifies that it is very essential for a follower to develop devotion and spiritual emotion towards God since an early stage of his life.

But, in the primary stages of one’s life, it is difficult to develop spiritual emotion unto the formless, that is the unmanifest principle of God. However, a seeker feels close to God with a form which has human attributes. He is able to develop spiritual emotion unto Him faster. Aarti is an easy medium of worship to the manifest form of God. The subtle form of the words sung in the Aarti softly touch the idol or the picture of the Deity placed in front and return to those listening to or singing to it. This affects the worshippers’ subtle bodies.

The words in the Aarti transmit the component accompanying them to the subtle bodies of the worshippers. Consequently, one who sings the Aarti feels illumined and blessed. The spiritual emotion of the worshippers is awakened due to the activation of the central channel (sushumna nadi) by the words in the Aarti.


Strengthening of faith

As the seeker’s spiritual emotion for the Deity he worships is awakened during Aarti, he gains a spiritual experience. This helps in further strengthening his faith in the Deity he worships.


Deity’s principle is more active during Aarti

As the principle of the Deity is more functional during Aarti, a seeker derives more benefit from the energy and Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) of the Deity. That is why our presence in the temple during the offering of Aarti is more beneficial than our presence there at any other time.


Why is Aarti performed twice a day?

Aarti is meant to be performed at sunrise and sunset. At sunrise, the raja-tama predominant atmosphere present throughout the night is destroyed and the absolute fire element frequencies of Deities arrive in the universe. Hence, Aarti is to be offered at sunrise to welcome them.

The ‘tarak Chaitanya’ (savior form of Chaitanya) transmitted during the arrival of the frequencies of Deities at sunrise is to be welcomed by the worshipper through the medium of the Aarti, whereas at sunset, the Aarti is performed to destroy the raja-tama frequencies and to invoke the Deities’ ‘marak Chaitanya’ (destroyer form of Chaitanya). Hence, Aarti should be performed twice – at sunrise and at sunset.


What is the science of performing Aarti at sunset?

At sunset, the proportion of the absolute fire element in the Sun’s rays starts reducing and the predominance of the raja-tama particles in the atmosphere increases. The generation of raja-tama frequencies also increases. Taking advantage of this situation, the negative energies increase their movement in the environment.

To prevent distress from such a predominately raja-tama environment, it is essential to evoke the Deities through the frequencies of sound emitted through the Aarti and bring these frequencies into the orbit of the universe. As a result, the proportion of the frequencies of Deities enriched within the environment increases and the proportion of distressing vibrations decreases. This creates a protective armor around the devotee’s body.  


Why should an Aarti platter be waved in a full circle, in front of the Deity?

When offering Aarti, using a lamp with five wicks (also called pancharti), the platter containing this lit lamp should be waved in a full circle in front of the Deity. This results in a speedy circular movement of sattva frequencies emitted by the flame of the lamp. These sattva frequencies then get converted gradually into raja frequencies. They appear like ripples in the water.

A suraksha kavach (protective armor) of these frequencies is formed around the embodied soul of the worshipper offering the Aarti and is known as a ‘tarang kavach’ (ripple armor). The more the spiritual emotion of the worshipper offering the Arti, longer this armor lasts. As his sattva component is enhanced, he is able to absorb more Divine frequencies from the universe. This increases his spiritual emotion and he perceives the reflection of his soul in the form of a blue spot of light (also known as Atmabindu) in front of him and a ripple of raja frequencies emanating from this Atmabindu.


The importance of Spiritual Emotions in Aarti

The Aarti should be sung with the bhav that ‘God Himself is standing in front and I am calling out to Him earnestly’.

The more the bhav one has while singing the Aarti for God, the more enriched with bhav and sattva predominant the Aarti will become. Such an Aarti will reach the Lord faster. Individuals singing an Aarti in this manner benefit as follows: The greater the collective bhav of the group singing the Arti, greater is the extent and period of preservation of the frequencies of Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) of Deities in the environment. This leads to a reduction in the distress from negative energies and gaining the benefit of Chaitanya. Every embodied soul should make an effort to perform the Aarti with bhav. Also, as a covering is formed on the ground by these sattva predominant vibrations (which stops the transmission of distressing frequencies from the Negative subtle regions), the worshipper’s embodied soul benefits most from the Chaitanya. Thus during the Aarti the worshipper’s gross and subtle bodies get purified and results in his faster spiritual evolution.

All of us do not necessarily have a good level of bhav. To enable even those having low bhav to perform Aarti with increased bhav, Sanatan Sanstha has produced an audio cassette and CD in Marathi called ‘Collection of Aartis and Omkar sadhana’. The collection includes regular Aartis of Lord Ganapati, Lord Shiva, Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Datta, Maruti and Goddess Durga. The Aartis are enriched with bhav, sattvikta and Chaitanya. According to the spiritual principle that ‘word, touch, form, taste, odour and the energy related to them, all coexist’, if worshippers sing the Aartis in the manner sung by these seekers with bhav, then it will help awaken bhav in them too at a faster pace.


Use of Camphor

Aarti is often performed with camphor as this holds a special spiritual significance. Camphor represents our inherent tendencies (vaasanas). Camphor when lit burns itself completely without leaving a trace of it, symbolically blows out all the vaasanas i.e. materialistic desires from the humans beings.

When lit by the fire of knowledge – which illumines the Lord (Truth) – our vaasanas thereafter burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of the ego which creates in us a sense of individuality and keeps us separate from the Lord. Also, while camphor burns to reveal the glory of the Lord, it emits a pleasant perfume even while it sacrifices itself. In our spiritual progress, even as we serve the guru and society, we should willingly sacrifice ourselves, spreading the ‘perfume’ of love amongst all. 


How it connects to our soul?

We often wait a long while to see the illumined Lord but, when the Aarti is performed, our eyes close automatically to look within. This is to signify that each of us is a temple of the Lord and we hold the divinity within.

The way the priest (pujari) reveals the form of the Lord clearly with the Aarti flame, so too the guru clearly reveals to us the divinity within each one of us with the help of the ‘flame’ of spiritual knowledge.

At the end of the Aarti, we place our hands over the flame and then touch our eyes and the top of the head. It means – May the light that illumined the Lord light up my vision; May my vision be divine and my thoughts noble and beautiful.


Philosophical significance

The philosophical meaning of Aarti extends further. The sun, moon, stars, lighting and fire are the natural sources of light. The Lord is the source of all these wondrous phenomena of the universe. It is due to Him alone that all else exists and shines. As we light up the Lord with the flame of the Aarti, we turn our attention to the very source of all light which symbolizes knowledge and life.

Also the sun is the presiding deity of the intellect; the moon, that of the mind; and fire, that of speech. The Lord is the Supreme Consciousness who illumines all of them. Without Him the intellect cannot think, nor can the mind feel nor the tongue speak. The Lord is beyond the mind, intellect and speech. How can this finite medium illumine the infinite Lord? Therefore as we perform the Aarti we chant:

“Na tatra suryo bhaati na Chandra taarakam
Nemaa vidyto bhaanti kutoyamagnih
Tameva bhaantam anubhaati sarvam
Tasya bhaasa sarvam idam vibhaati”

He is there where the sun does not shine,
Nor the moon, stars and lighting.
Then what to talk of this small flame (in my hand)!

Everything (in the universe) shines
Only after the Lord,
And by His light alone are we all illumined.

The preceding explanation of arati clearly brings out the esoteric and superstitious philosophies and beliefs that undergird its practice.


4. Heart of Hinduism –The Arti ceremony

Arti is the most popular ceremony within Hinduism, often performed in temples six or seven times per day. It is a greeting ceremony offered to the murti and also gurus, holy people, and other representations of the divine. Arti is often called “the ceremony of lights” but usually involves offering more than just a lamp.

The priest or worshipper offers various auspicious articles by moving them in clockwise circles before the deity. At the same time he or she rings a small hand bell, while meditating on the forms of the deity.

During the entire ceremony, which normally lasts from five to thirty minutes, the worshipper offers incense, a flower, water, a five-wick lamp, a lamp with camphor and other items. The ceremony is often announced and concluded by the blowing of a conch-shell.

During the ceremony the offered lamp is passed around the congregation; members pass their fingers over the flame and reverently touch them to their foreheads. The offered flowers are also passed around worshippers and the water is sprinkled over their heads.

Arti is usually accompanied by singing (bhajan/kirtan) and out of respect worshippers usually stand for the entire ceremony.


5. Why do we do aarati?

From “In Indian Culture, Why Do We…” by Swamini Vimalananda Radhika Krishnakumar.
Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Chinmaya Mission UK,

Towards the end of every ritualistic worship (pooja or bhajan) of the Lord or to welcome an honored guest or saint, we perform the aarati. This is always accompanied by the ringing of the bell and sometimes by singing, playing of musical instruments and clapping.

It is one of the sixteen steps (shodasha upachaara) of the pooja ritual. It is referred to as the auspicious light (mangla niraajanam). Holding the lighted lamp in the right hand, we wave in a clockwise circling movement to light the entire form of the Lord.

Each part is revealed individually and also the entire form of the Lord. As the light is waved we either do mental or loud chanting of prayers or simply behold the beautiful form of the Lord, illumined by the lamp. At the end of the aarati we place our hands over the flame and then gently touch our eyes and the top of the head.

We have seen and participated in this ritual from our childhood. Let us find out why we do the aarati?

Having worshipped the Lord with love – performing abhisheka, decorating the image and offering fruits and delicacies, we see the beauty of the Lord in all His glory. Our minds are focused on each limb of the Lord as the lamp lights it up. It is akin to silent open-eyed meditation on His beauty. The singing, clapping, ringing of the bell etc. denote the joy and auspiciousness, which accompanies the vision of the Lord.



Aarati is often performed with camphor. This holds a telling spiritual significance. Camphor when lit, burns itself out completely without leaving a trace of it. It represents our inherent tendencies (vaasanas). When lit by the fire of knowledge which illumines the Lord (Truth), our vaasanas thereafter burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of ego which creates in us a sense of individuality that keeps us separate from the Lord.

Also while camphor burns to reveal the glory of Lord, it emits a pleasant perfume even while it sacrifices itself. In our spiritual progress, even as we serve the guru and society, we should willingly sacrifice ourselves and all we have, to spread the “perfume” of love to all. We often wait a long while to see the illumined Lord but when the aarati is actually performed, our eyes close automatically as if to look within. This is to signify that each of us is a temple of the Lord.

Just as the priest reveals the form of the Lord clearly with the aarati flame, so too the guru reveals to us the divinity within each of us with the help of the “flame” of knowledge (or the light of spiritual knowledge). At the end of the aarati, we place our hands over the flame and then touch our eyes and the top of the head. It means – May the light that illuminated the Lord light up my vision; May my vision be divine and my thoughts noble and beautiful.

The philosophical meaning of aarati extends further. The sun, moon, stars, lightning and fire are the natural sources of light. The Lord is the source of this wondrous phenomenon of the universe. It is due to Him alone that all else exist and shine. As we light up the Lord with the flame of the aarati, we turn our attention to the very source of all light, which symbolizes knowledge and life.

Also the sun is the presiding deity of the intellect, the moon, that of the mind, and fire, that of speech. The Lord is the supreme consciousness that illuminates all of them. Without Him, the intellect cannot think, nor can the mind feel, nor the tongue speak. The Lord is beyond the mind, intellect and speech. How can this finite equipment illuminate the Lord? Therefore, as we perform the aarati we chant;

“Na tatra suryo bhaati na Chandra taarakam
Nemaa vidyto bhaanti kutoyamagnih
Tameva bhaantam anubhaati sarvam
Tasya bhaasa sarvam idam vibhaati”

He is there where the sun does not shine,
Nor the moon, stars and lightning.
Then what to talk of this small flame (in my hand),
Everything (in the universe) shines only after the Lord,
And by His light alone are we all illumined.

Swami Chinmayananda


6. Arti: The Hindu ceremony of light

The arti (pronounced ‘aarti’) is one of the most important and popular ceremonies of the Hindu faith. It is a prayerful ceremony performed in extolled greeting and thanksgiving of the Deities where devotees are reminded of God’s glorious presence and providence.


The arti ceremony is said to have descended from the ancient Vedic concept of fire rituals, or homa.

Others attribute it to the practice many centuries ago of illuminating a murti set deep inside the dark recess of a mandir’s cave-like inner sanctum. To allow devotees darshan of the sacred image, the priest would wave an oil lamp from the Deity’s head to toe while chanting Vedic mantras or singing a prayer. Gradually, the practice developed into the arti.

The arti sung within the Swaminarayan tradition was composed by Muktanand Swami, one of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s most senior and learned sadhus, when Bhagwan Swaminarayan was only 21. Learn more about it here.


In Sanskrit, the word ‘arti’ – written as ‘aarati’ – is composed of the prefix ‘aa’, meaning complete, and ‘rati’, meaning love. The arti is thus an expression of one’s complete and unflinching love towards God. It is sung and performed with a deep sense of reverence, adoration, and meditative awareness.


Often called the ‘ceremony of light’, the arti involves waving lighted wicks before the sacred images to infuse the flames with the Deities’ love, energy and blessings. It is performed by sadhus (Hindu monks) and pujaris (attendants to the Deities).

Along with – or sometimes instead of – flames from ghee-soaked wicks, the light from camphor is also used. Other auspicious articles offered during the ceremony include incense, water, and flowers. Some artis also involve the waving of a chamar (wisp) or white cloth. These together represent the five elements of the world – 1) space (white cloth), 2) air (wisp), 3) light (flames), 4) water, and 5) earth (flowers) – and symbolise the offering of the whole of creation to the Deity during the arti ceremony.

The term ‘arti’ also refers to the prayer sung in praise of the Deity while the wicks are waved. This prayer is joyously sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments, including drums, bells, gongs, and a conch-shell. In fact, the ceremony is often announced and concluded by the blowing of a conch-shell. The pujari also rings a small hand-bell while waving the wicks and singing the prayer.

After the short prayer, the lighted wicks are passed around the congregation to allow members to receive the blessings infused within the flames. Members hover their down-turned hands over the flame and then reverently touch them to their eyes and head. The purificatory blessing, conveyed from the Deities to the flame, has now been passed on to the devotee.



The arti is usually performed five times during the day at shikharbaddha (large, spired) mandirs with each arti relating to a specific part of the Deities’ routine.

The five most common artis are:




Approx. Time

Mangala Arti 


When the Deities offer the first darshan of the day, signifying the auspicious beginning of the day for devotees


Shangar Arti 


When the Deities are dressed and adorned 

Early Morning 

Rajbhog Arti 

‘royal offering’ 

After the Deities have been offered their midday meal 


Sandhya Arti


When the Deities offer their special evening audience 


Shayan Arti 


When the Deities are about to retire for the night 

Late Evening 


At smaller mandirs and in shrines at devotees’ homes, the arti is performed twice daily, in the morning and the evening.

The arti also features as a component of other, more elaborate rituals within Hindu worship, and is often the concluding prayer in religious assemblies and festivals.


Like other Hindu rituals, the arti has profound spiritual sentiments underlying it.

Just as the wicks burn in the service of the Deities, devotees pray that they, too, can selflessly offer themselves in the service of God.

And as the wicks eventually burn themselves out, devotees pray their ego can similarly be eradicated through such service and humble worship.

Furthermore, just as the wicks provide light and dispel darkness, only the true knowledge of God and the guru can dispel ignorance and false understanding.


7. What is puja and aarti?

Traditionally the ‘Aarti’ is performed during the morning and evening in a Hindu household.

The Aarti consists of a small flame which burns on a wick, placed on a plate, which is rotated round the Deity.

The Ritual of the Aarti makes the light of the flame dispel darkness, the incense that is burnt gives out fragrance, a bell is rung, hands are clapped while one sings the Aarti.

The ‘Aarti’ reminds us of the greatness of the Lord, because the flame that we rotate is symbolic of the Cosmos (Sun, Moon, Stars) revolving around the Almighty paying obeisance to Him


8. 7 Reasons to do Avatar Aarti

April 17, 2014

Aarti is a fundamental practice in the Vedic tradition.

Aarti is believed to have its origins in the Vedas and the Vedic fire rituals practiced by the original Rishis to meet all demands of life. It’s a way to show deep appreciation, love and devotion to the Divine. Babaji reminds us that the simple act of lighting a lamp invokes the immediate presence of God.
In Vedic temples all over the world, you’ll see aarti done first thing in the morning to wake deities up, repeated all throughout the day during puja (ritual), and done again at night to put them to bed. The practice has parallels in other religious traditions, an obvious example is the lighting of candles before altars of the Virgin Mary in Catholic churches.

Avatar Aarti is a catch-all, comprehensive practice.

There are no limits to what you can create when you ignite the Divine Light within you. All aspects of life can be improved. If you want health, wealth, relationships or spiritual enlightenment, Avatar Aarti is the one practice you can do to improve everything. The energy of God is wish-fulfillment in its purest form. Sometimes we don’t even know what it is that we truly want or our superficial needs might cloud the deepest desires of our soul. The Light of God is not judgmental, it is totally creative. If you truly desire something no matter what it is, elevating your consciousness to a Divine frequency will make it a reality.

Avatar Aarti utilizes Babaji’s Mula Mantra.

This is the miracle mantra for the Golden Age. With this one chant, you invoke all the powers of the gods, the Cosmic Sun and all galaxies. All of creation within and without. Also invoked is the Grace of the Ultimate Guru and the Divine being who removes all traces of sin. Babaji has revealed so many mantras and it can be daunting to choose one that resonates with you. Or maybe you are interested in augmenting many different aspects of your life. You can spend the whole day chanting, switching up mantras every hour (that’s not necessarily a bad thing!). Or you could do Avatar Aarti and supercharge the Mula Mantra. This chant does it all.



Avatar Aarti is a core Light Body technique.

The practice was first revealed to advanced students of Babaji’s Light Body programs. The practice includes a strong visualization element whereby you invite Babaji’s luminous form to descend into yours and illuminate you from the inside out. Regularly doing Avatar Aarti is an open invitation for Babaji to enter and actively make the transformation happen. If you want the Light Body, practice Avatar Aarti.

Avatar Aarti can accelerate the Golden Age.

If you’re close to Babaji then you’re already experiencing the Golden Age. The world however isn’t necessarily caught up. We are co-creators of this Reality and with our collective power and intention we can manifest change for the benefit of the whole planet. Help make the Golden Age a reality for all beings, everywhere. Join the Avatar Aarti Call for Compassion every week and experience the boost that comes when you unite your energy and intention with people across the globe.

Avatar Aarti is the most powerful technique to date.

This teaching came direct from Babaji to his closest students and devotees. Mohini herself has plenty of experience, 23 years sharing so many of his tools with the world. She’s the number one champion of Avatar Aarti and has gone on record saying no technique to date is more powerful and effective to bring in miracles. The results were so immediate and so pronounced that devotees appealed to Babaji to share it freely and publicly. Out of his compassion he said yes! This is the ultimate free gift from Babaji to us all.

Avatar Aarti is short and simple.

If no other reason compels you to begin an Avatar Aarti practice, this might. The whole thing can be done in under five minutes. You can sit for longer if you like but the core practice requires very few materials and can be easily integrated into your busy schedule. All you need is a light source (a ghee lamp is preferred but not necessary), your favorite image of Babaji, and just a few minutes of your time. You can do it once a day or all day every day.


9. A Hindu site in a bimonthly published by the Saiva Siddhanta Church with headquarters in Hawaii, U.S.A.
reporting on the “Catholic” Shantivanam ashram in the Diocese of Trichy:

An EXTRACT from Catholic Ashrams: Adopting and adapting Hindu dharma,

December 1986

Catholic adoption and adaptation of those things that Hindus regard as their sacred heritage and spirituality, a policy the Catholics have named “inculturation.” It is a complex issue involving doctrine, cultural camouflage, allegedly deceptive conversion tactics and more.

The Shantivanam ashram looks like a rishi’s home transported from Vedic times to the banks of the sacred Cauvery River at a forested place near Trichy in South India. A pilgrim’s first impressions are strong, and very Hindu: the elaborately colorful Hindu shrine; the bearded, saffron-robed “swami” seated cross-legged on a straw mat; devotees practicing yogic meditations, even chanting Hindu scriptures.

The Shantivanam ashram looks like a rishi’s home transported from Vedic times to the banks of the sacred Cauvery River at a forested place near Trichy in South India. A pilgrim’s first impressions are strong, and very Hindu: the elaborately colorful Hindu shrine; the bearded, saffron-robed “swami” seated cross-legged on a straw mat; devotees practicing yogic meditations, even chanting Hindu scriptures.
But these impressions gradually prove false. First, the eye detects that the courtyard shrine is for Saint Paul and that “puja” is actually a daily Mass, complete with incense, arati lamps, flower offerings and prasadam. Finally, one meets the “swami”, learning he is Father Bede “Dayananda” Griffiths, a Christian
“sannyasin” of impeccable British background.
This is a Christian ashram, one of more than 50 in India, which are variously described as “experiments in cross-cultural communication,” “contemplative hermitages that revolve around both Christian and Hindu ideas,” or (less charitably) “institutions to brainwash and convert India’s unwary masses.”
Also at


10. Hinduism under threat

32. Strategies: Fool the gullible with Hindu religious practices, customs. Missionaries wear Sadhu dresses, perform arati, and burn incense, to give impression that very little has changed. A prayer hall in Kerala has meditating Jesus in Padmasana posture!

33. Strategies: Adoption of Hindu arts and culture for their own ends (Acculturation). Recently Vatican was given Bharata Natyam performance of Christ birth! Christian Yoga where names of asanas are changed and no trace of Hinduism kept.



What is the Sikh view on Aarti?,

March 31, 2011 and March 3, 2011

In the Sikh system, which totally rejects image-worship, there is no permission for this form of worship.




(The above article is adapted and re-presented by Lúcio Mascarenhas below)

Why the Sikhs reject the Rite of Aarti as Idolatrous…

Aarti: From Sanskrit Aratrika, meaning the light or the vessel containing it which is waved before an idol, generally in the clockwise direction, accompanied by the chanting of mantras (magic secrets). This is also the name given the ceremony, which for the Hindus is a mode of ritual worship to propitiate the deity.

In the Sikh system, which totally rejects image-worship, there is no sanction for this form of worship. An incident in this regard is often cited from the Janama-Sakhis, traditional accounts of Guru Nanak Dev’s life.

Sikhism is a five-hundred year old religion. The name originates from the word Sikh, for “student”.

Sikhism originated in the Bhakti Movement, a reform and eclectic movement in Hinduism as a result of the Islamic impact. Nanak built upon the work of previous Bhakti teachers — mainly Kabir.)

During his travels across Eastern India, Guru Nanak Dev accompanied by the minstrel, Mardana, stopped near the temple of Jagannath, which name means “The Lord of the Earth”, which is a title of the god Vishnu, second god of the Hindu Triad. Guru Nanak Dev and Mardana stopped near the shrine upon which sat centuries of history mute and immobilized. The notes from Mardana’s rebeck touched the devotees’ hearts with fresh fervor. Several of them came to hear the Guru’s word. The temple priests felt angry and held Nanak guilty for not making adoration to the deity within the sacred enclosure.

The local chief whose name has been described as Krishanlal one day visited the Guru and invited him to join the aarti, the evening service of lights, in the temple. The Guru readily agreed to go with him.

As dusk fell, the priests lit the lamps and commenced the sumptuous ritual for which the devotees had been waiting. Twinkling lights fed by ghee were placed on a jewel studded salver, amid flowers and incense, and worshipfully swung from side to side by the priest in front of the enshrined image to the accompaniment of the chanting of hymns, blowing of conches and the ringing of bells.

The priests had a complaint as they concluded. The Guru had remained seated in his place and not participated in the ceremony. The Guru burst into a song:

The sky is the salver

And the sun and the moon the lamps.

The luminous stars on the heavens are the pearls.

Scented air from the sandal-clad hills is the incense,

The winds make the fan for Thee,

And the vast forests wreath of flowers.

The unstruck music of creation is the trumpet.

Thus goes on the Aarti (adoration) for Thee,

O! Thou dispeller of doubt and fear!

Guru Nanak Dev taught the listeners, how Nature’s tribute to the Creator was superior to any ritualistic oblation offered before images.

Inspite of such deprecation of the ritual, Aarti was performed in some of the Sikh temples during the long period that they were administered by Hindus, mainly Brahmin priests until they were expelled as a result of the Sikh Reform Movement.

But in the Sikh case the Aarti was performed in front of the Guru Granth Sahib.

(Govind Singh, the ninth and last Guru, eight descendant of Nanak, declared that henceforth the Sikh scripture alone would be their Guru. Granth means “book.” Sahib is an honorific, originating from Persian for “friend”, it acquired the meaning of a great man, one’s superior.)

Wherever the word Aarti occurred in the Guru Granth Sahib, the hymn was pressed into service. For instance, there was a chain of sabdas (“words”) culled from the compositions of Ravidas, Sain, Kabir and Dhanna.

Ravidas’ hymn begins with the line, “Lord, Thy Name to me is the Aarti and holy ablutions. All else is false show” (GG: 694).

Says Sain, “May I be a sacrifice unto the Lord: that for me is the Aarti performed with lamps, ghee and incense” (GG: 695).

Kabir’s hymn is in the same vein. It says, “Brothers! That is how the Immaculate Lord’s Aarti is made…. Let Divine essence be the oil, the Lord’s Name the wick, and enlightened self the lamp. Lighting this lamp we invoke the Lord” (GG: 1350).

Dhanna’s hymn is simply a prayer for the common needs of life (GG: 695).

It is clear that these hymns reject the Aarti ritual and lay down loving devotion shorn of all formal practices as the path of true worship.

The reformists of the Singh Sabha (Assembly of Lions) party as well as those of the more strident Akali party discarded the ritual waving of the lighted lamps placed in a tray before the Guru Granth Sahib.

There could, however, be no objection to the singing of the Aarti hymns occurring in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The Sikh Rahit Maryada or religious code of the Sikhs issued under the authority of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, a statutorily elected body representative of the entire Sikh community, lays down that Aarti with incense and lighted lamps and ringing of bells is not permissible.

Although the Aarti ritual is prohibited and no longer practised in Sikh places of worship, the continuous singing of the five Scriptural Aarti hymns, often supplemented by some verses from the Dasam Granth (“Tenth Book”), by the holy choir or by the entire sangat (“congregation”) in unison, is still practised at places as part of the concluding ceremonies for an akhand path (“complete way”), an end-to-end unbroken reading of the Sikh Holy Book, or at the close of the evening service at a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple, literally “The Guru’s Door”).




Some concepts of the Sikh culture

By Harjinder Singh Dilgeer

Aarti: The word Aarti literally means: “that which can be done even if it is not night i.e. lighting of earthen (or any other) lamp. It is a form of Hindu worship. The Hindus place small earthen lamps in a platter and place it before some idol or deity and then take the platter around that idol/deity in the mornings and even in the evenings. It is, in fact, worship of mythical Hindu god of fire. Sikhism strictly prohibits such worship (of god of fire or the otherwise).

Some Sikhs, who are not fully conversant with the Sikh philosophy, under the impact of Hinduism, though they don’t burn lamps but they still sing Guru Nanak Sahib’s hymn called Aarti by believing it as an Aarti. Guru Nanak Sahib’s hymn is a rejection of Aarti ritual and of the idol worship and those Sikhs who consider it as a Sikh-Aarti, in fact, practice blasphemy. Guru Nanak Sahib, in the hymn about Aarti, rejected all types of Aarti rituals and said that the real Aarti is the meditation of the Name of the Almighty and an effort to live a “truthful life”. Guru Nanak Sahib’s Aarti says, “The whole of the Nature is worshipping the Almighty. The sky is the platter (of Aarti); the sun and moon are the lamps; the whole sphere of the stars are the diamonds and the pearls (for decoration); the fragrance of the sandalwood trees of Mallay region (known for its sweet fragrance) is the incense; and the waving breeze is the Chaur and the whole of the vegetation is offering flowers (for the worship of the Almighty). This could be the worship of the Almighty”. Meaning thereby that the real worship of God is not done with the earthen lamps or alike meaningless rituals. The ‘show’ of worship by lighting lamps in a platter before a deity is mere hypocrisy. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 13 etc.



Priest, Name Withheld, France
Sent: Sunday, April 16, 2006 10:28 PM

I beg your forgiveness for having not yet replied to your preceding mails. I have no excuse but my scarcity of time that prevents me to read through fully the interesting literature you wrote about Indian rite and the entire new trend regarding inculturation.

I read through all the pamphlets and was interested, but I wanted to read carefully taking time and reflecting over it. That is why I didn’t reply at once and then I delayed. I am sorry! THANK YOU so much for the trouble you took to send me your precious material, fruit of long hours of hard work and reflections.

I appreciate your combat for a sound theology and a dignified liturgy that glorify God, far from any syncretical, New Age approach or even compromise with Hinduism. Many of the modern liturgist don’t know what they are promoting. They want just to make a new cooking for everything. Because when it is new and a bit strange, then it is obviously better.

But to refute all the novelties introduced in the liturgy we have to be well trained and that is what is missing to me. I hate the Indian Mass, because respect is not there, the sacrificial dimension of the Mass is washed out. It seems to be a kitchen mass. I am going to Rome on the 25th of April (I will be staying there until the 2nd of May) and I will go the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship. I will try to meet Archbishop Malcom Ranjith, the new appointed Secretary of the Congregation. I want to discuss some matters with him: the Bharatanatyam dancing, the red pothu on the forehead, the arati, the usage of OM in the liturgy, etc.

Do you allow me to use your literature and even to hand it over to him?

I want to wish you a Blessed and Happy Easter and I apologize once again for my late acknowledgment.

I hope one day we can meet in Madras or Bangalore, or elsewhere!

God bless you and your wife Angela!


Name Withheld To:
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 11:47 AM and12:09 PM

Dear brother Michael, It’s a trend now in parish churches to copy the Hindu architecture blindly. They are building the altar in the shape of a Hindu temple, erecting flag post like the ones in Hindu temples and this is taken to other extremes by some. Whatever justifications given by the priests or the parish committee members, people ask one question, “What was wrong with our good, old, distinct culture and faith?” Who will answer that? Some say it is to attract people of other religions. But we should remember that our good old missionaries and saints didn’t attract people by doing these. Also the copying of Hindu rituals like arati and all during mass and feasts are really upsetting a lot of people. I had talked to many and their views were very much the same as those preached in Emperor Emmanuel cult. If these people get to know about Emperor Emmanuel, you know what would happen. They will leave our Church and join EE. I think we should not attract the people of other religions to our faith at the expense of our own people losing the Catholic faith.


Alphonse Surendar
Michael Prabhu
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:15 AM


Congratulations dear Mike, on the 10th successful and glorious year of your Internet ministry. Hats off to you for your charism for publishing sensitive issues prevailing in the Church. Sometimes I doze off reading some of your long articles and then wake up and continue reading till I come to the end.

Regarding brass Hindu flag posts, I have noticed them in practically in every Catholic parish. It has become a trend here in Tamilnadu. And I always wondered why our separated brethren do not sport them in their places of worship. The sight of such flag posts psychologically and spiritually alienates me from entering those churches. Do you think it is some sort of an “Indianisation” gimmick of the Catholic Church to mimic Hinduism? I am confused.




So also, the Bharatanatyam, arati, the anjali (deepa, dupa, pushpa anjali) at the Elevation during the Holy Mass is abominable. I just hate all this tamasha which dilutes the sacredness of the Eucharistic celebrations. Even our new Archbishop had witnessed all these during his inaugural Eucharistic Episcopal Mass. I do not think he minds all these tamashas. I am totally uncomfortable when I participate in the Holy Mass with such innovations.

Well, yours seems to be the “voice of one crying in the wilderness”!

With best regards and love to Angie from Nirmala and self.

Alphonse Surendar, Chennai (Alphonse is an ex-Salesian seminarian –Michael)


Arati, inculturation, etc.

October 20, 2005

Dear Salu Soz,

This is regarding the recent discussions in the group about the practice of Arati, and other inculturation in Catholic worship, and the ‘Indian Rite’ Mass. If you will recall, I sent you my report on “CATHOLIC ASHRAMS” on the 8th of this month. It is about these very issues, and I wrote it after visiting some of these Ashrams.

Most of their practices are definitely not approved by the Indian Bishops, or by Rome.

Of course, while doing so, the concerned priests refer to Vatican documents and encyclicals. But they either reveal part of the statements and obscure the rest, or misinterpret them to their own advantage.

I have been writing on these issues since 1999, and my letters, reports and exposes are sent both by email as well as by post, to about 15 dicasteries of the Holy See, around 160 of our Bishops, and to priests, seminarians, nuns, major retreat centres and lay persons in Catholic ministry all over the world.

The responses which I have received, from some Cardinals and many Bishops, are very encouraging. My reports are under examination by the Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

I firmly believe that we MUST inculturate our religion/faith into our culture. 

But certain WORSHIP forms that are intrinsically unchristian CANNOT be inculturated.

For instance, a non-Christian living in Europe cannot ‘inculturate’ by using the Cross [crucifix] a symbol that is inherently Christian, in his or her worship. The same can be said of certain non-Christian WORSHIP symbols in the reverse. We have to differentiate between this and CULTURE.

As I wrote in an earlier letter recently on the dispute about religion, I write from the standpoint of genuine Catholic teaching, and my views are meant for those Catholic Christians who are faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium. They are not intended to hurt the sentiments of non-Catholic or non-Christian brothers and sisters. 

I look forward to any enquiries from your readers. They will be replied to on a personal basis, and not through discussions in the group, though your readers may certainly express their opinions publicly if they wish to do so. I also look forward to information from your readers that will assist my research. I am presently preparing for a future report on symbols and worship forms which include some of the issues like the arati, kumkum, etc. that have recently come up in the group. And others like the use of prasad, bharatanatyam dance, mantra chanting etc.

For my reports and exposes, I rely strictly on DOCUMENTARY evidence, meaning that I use printed and published matter, audio and video recordings, photographs etc. But I could also learn from Catholics about their practical and personal experiences in their parishes and dioceses, and this will help me to give a complete picture. I respect the privacy of people who send me information, and I do not disclose their identities in my reports (unless permitted), which however DO carry the names of priests and other Church leaders whose public teachings are contrary to those of the Church and who continue to guide Catholics wrongly.

Thanking you,




First, with regards to pagan religions, here is what Saint Francis Xavier wrote:

“All the invocations of the pagans are hateful to God because all their gods are devils”Fr. John Echert, February 7, 2004















Worship in the Agamic Tradition of Hinduism – Adopting arati and the syllable OM in Christian Worship

By Fr. Jesudhasan Michael, 2006 (see pages 45, 46) EXTRACTS (All emphases mine)


One of the
12 Points of Adaptation
approved by Rome for the Church in India was
the rite of Arati during the Eucharistic celebration and subsequently this rite was added in the Roman Missal for use in India.
Taking the cue from this development, there were attempts here and there to adopt the Hindu religious symbol/ syllable OM in our Liturgy. This booklet tries to look into these two elements from the point of view of Hindu religious worship, as these are two important elements in any Hindu temple worship.


The first chapter, while introducing the agamic tradition and its worship, presents two important ancient agamic literatures that speak of Vishnu worship. This introduction in necessary because the Hindu temple worship is based on this particular tradition and those two elements, namely Arati and OM are the integral part of the worship.


Does the introduction of Arati and the attempt to use the syllable OM in Christian worship take into consideration of all the aspects of the norm proposed by the Council1 on the adaptation of the liturgy according to the culture of the people without compromising the nature, essence and the theology of the Christian worship? Will this, in any way lead to religious syncretism? These and similar questions will be asked in the final chapter on Arati and OM in Christian worship.

1The liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council constituted the single most concrete and dynamic change within modern Roman Catholicism. The greatest sign of this reform is the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, promulgated on December 4, 1963.


Ritual is essential in all Hindu worship and generally two kinds of rituals are recognised: Vedic ritual based on the Vedas and Agamic ritual, concerned with the image worship. There are different agamas for different parts of India, giving details about the construction of temples, the installation of idols, the modes of devotions, etc. The worship in the Hindu temple follows the Agamic tradition. The word Agama is referred to as “an ancient tradition, dealing with worship and the philosophical and psychological, ritualistic and behavioural aspects thereof, which has come down to us by word of mouth as well as through written texts.” The Agamas deal with different types of worship such as worship in temple, at home, in communities, in private, etc. They form the basis for the temple culture. The Agamas are believed to have originated from God at the time of creation itself. The word Agama is generally used with reference to Saiva and Vaisnava traditions.”

One of the salient features of the Agamas is that it recommends the worship of God with image. And in order to attain salvation one should have this worship with rituals and word-symbols, called mantra.


There are five main elements in the daily ritual performed in the temple. The first is inviting the divinity to partake in the ritual and the second is invoking the “life-force” of the divinity so that the image worshipped is for the time being the divinity itself. The third important element is getting the deity in proper communion with the worshipper. The worship or puja is the fourth element. The final aspect of the worship is formal bidding farewell to the deity, which marks the completion of the ritual.


The Gayatri mantra is attributed to Gayatri, the second wife Brahma, whose legendary marriage symbolised the growing alliance between the Aryan immigrants and the non-Arian inhabitants of ancient India. Originally a simple invocation to the sun to shed its blessings on the earth, it came to be regarded as a mystic formula of universal power, constituting the most sacred verse in the Hindu scriptures. It is the duty of every Brahmin to repeat it mentally every morning and evening and also on certain other occasions2.

2WALKER B., Hindu World: An encyclopaedic survey of Hinduism, vol. I, George Allen & Unwin Let., London, 1968, pp. 384-385


The Baudhayana-grhya-Parisesasutra describes the puja for Vishnu as follows: The one who wants to perform the worship must cleanse himself first by taking a bath. Then he must clean a “pure and even spot’, with cow-dung and there draw the image of Vishnu. First of all he must invoke Vishnu to come down by offering water and flower accompanied by different mantras (prayers). After these preliminary rites starts the upacaras. The performer of the puja should clean a vessel with water reciting the Gayatri mantra, pass kusa grass across the water poured therein, recite the Gayatri mantra for the second time, turn the vessel -containing water towards the sun reciting the syllable OM “till he desires or till he is tired.” He offers the same water to the deity to wash his feet and hands and then for sipping. The deity then is given a bath accompanied with different mantras (prayers). Then the performer of the puja should satiate the deity with water sprinkled round the deity keeping the right hand toward it. When he offers dress to the deity, he recites the syllable OM.


Definition of arati

Various definitions have been given to Arati by different authors. The Hindi-English dictionary defines Arati as “the ceremony performed in the worship of the gods by waving a lighted lamp circularly around the idol.” 3



3Quoted in EELEM F., “Arati“, Indian Ecclesiastical studies XI (1972), p. 202


Another dictionary defines it as the “ritual of the adoration of the deity in a temple consisted of religious chants and of the offering of fire.”4

4FREDERIC L., Dictionnaire de la Civilisation Indienne, Editions Robert Laffont, S.A., 1987, p. 89.


Kane calls it as a ceremony “performed with several lights or pieces of camphor placed in a broad vessel which is held in both hands and waved around an image and over its head.”5

5KANE P.V., History of Dharmasastra, vol. 1, coll. Government Oriental Series Class B. no.6, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, 1930, vol. II, part II, p.733


Arati is also defined as “waving”, i.e. “the ceremony of waving a lighted lamp before the image, generally in a clockwise direction, accompanied by the chanting of mantras.”6

6WALKER B., vol. II, p. 609


Assayag defines it as an instrument used for puja: Arati is “a lamp on a tray with incense and camphor.”7

7ASSAYAG J., La colire de la ddesse dicapitde: traditions, cultes et pouvoir dans le sud de l’lnde, CNRS editions, Paris, 1992, p. 387


It is also defined as “a ceremonial waving of lighted camphor”8
in simply as “the offering” of the five elements to God.9 Arati is also understood as the “greeting of the deity with a lamp, a conch-shell filled with water, a clearly washed piece of cloth, auspicious flowers, incense and lighted camphor. Arati is performed by rotating each of the items clockwise in the following order: four times at the feet of the deity, twice at the navel region, three times around the face, and seven times around the whole image”10

8KRISHNAMURTHY Y., Hinduism for the Next Generation, Wiley Eastern limited, New Delhi, 1992, p. 15

9SWAMI BHASKARANANDA, The Essentials of Hinduism: A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, 1998, p. 140

10CHAKRAVARTI S. S., Hinduism: A Way of Life, Motilal Banarsidass Publication Private Limited, Delhi, 1991, p. 41


Objective of arati

Abbé Dubois (1770-1848)11 in his famous work12 gives some information with regard to the objective of Arati.13

He says that Arati was performed not only for the Hindu gods but also for the persons of high rank: “The Arati is one of the commonest of their (Hindus) religious practices, and is observed in public and private. It is performed daily and often several times a day over persons of high rank, such as rajahs (kings), governors of provinces generals and other distinguished members of the society. Whenever people in their positions have been obliged to show themselves in public, or to speak to strangers, they invariably call for the courtesans or dancing girls from the temple to perform this ceremony over them, and to avert any unpleasant consequences that might rise from the baleful glances to which they have been exposed. Kings and princes often have dancing girls in their employ who do nothing else but perform this ceremony. Arati is also performed for idols. After the dancing girls have finished all their duties in the temple, they never fail to perform this ceremony twice daily over the image of the gods to whom their services are dedicated’ It is performed with even more solemnity when these idols have been carried in procession through the streets, so as to turn aside malignant influences, to which the gods are as susceptible as any ordinary mortals.”14

11Abbé Dubois, a member of the society of the Missions Etrangeres de Paris (French Foreign Missionaries, commonly known as MEP Fathers), lived for 31 years (1792-1823) in the province of Mysore, as a missionary

12DUBOIS J. H., Hindu manners, customs and ceremonies, translated from the author’s latest French Ms. and edited with notes, corrections and bibliography by BEAUCHAMP H. K., third edition, Oxford, 1906

13It should be remembered that Abbe Dubois wrote about the practices in his time in South India and relates what he had learned from personal observations and from information then available to him

14DUBOIS J. H., pp. 148-149


Dubois is very categorical about the objective of this ceremony. He says that Arati, whether performed over a person or over an image of god, is “to counter act the influence of the evil eye and any ill-effects which, according to Hindu belief, may rise from the jealous and spiteful looks of ill-intentioned persons.”15 In other place Abbé Dubois says, “The Hindus invented the Arati to avert and counteract the drishti-dosha or the influence of the eye.”16

Arati was also performed over elephants, horses and other domestic animals for the same purpose, i.e. to ward off evil eye.17 But even here’ there is no common understanding on the object of this rite’ If for Walker it is “to please the deity with bright light and colours and also to counteract the evil eye18 for Swamy Bhaskarananda the ceremony of Arati is the symbol of offering “the entire universe to God.”19 For some others it is “a form of meditation on the deity.”20





15Ibid. p. 148

16Ibid. p. 149.See also QUEGUINER M., Introduction a L’Hindouisme, editions de L’Orante, Paris, 1958, p. 69

17Ibid. p. 149. QUEGUINER M., p. 64

18WALKER B., vol. II., p. 609


20CHAKRAVARTI S. S., p. 41


Modality of arati

We can find some more information with regard to the modality of performing this ceremony and about the person eligible to perform this ceremony. According to Abbé Dubois, Arati was performed only by married women and widows were not allowed under any circumstances to do this ceremony: “Widows are not allowed to take part in any of the domestic ceremonies of the Hindus. There presence alone would be thought to bring misfortune and if they dare to appear they would be ruddily treated and sent away.”21

Further he describes: “A lamp made of kneaded rice-flour is placed on a metal dish or plate. It is then filled with oil or liquefied butter and lighted. The women take hold of the plates in turn and raise it to the level of the person’s head for whom the ceremony is being performed, describing a special number of circles with it.”22

21DUBOIS J.H., p. 148, note 1; see also QUEGUINER M., p.63

22Ibid. p. 148.


Place of arati in the celebration of samskaras

The Arati ceremony has also an important place in the celebration of Hindu Samskaras. Arati is performed on the birth of a child Qata-karman) “to avert the evil eye”.22 It is also done at the name-giving ceremony (namakarana). First the father of the child calls the name of the child in the child’s right ear. After the blessings of those present for the function, the mother of the child calls the name of the child loudly and then Aratis performed over the child”23 Another important Samskara is the feeding of the child with solid food for the first time (annaprasana), that consists in making offerings to the fire and to the nine planets with different mantras. The ceremony ends with Arati to counter act the influence of the evil eye”24. Even at the end of- the tonsure ceremony (chaudakarana), Arati is performed.25

Arati plays a very important role during the celebration of the two most important Samskaras, viz. “Sacred Thread Ceremony” (Upanayana) and marriage (vivaha). Abbe Dubois gives in details of the celebration of these two Samskaras as found in the ritual of the Purohitas,26 und this ritual book is called “Nittya karma.” 27

22BALFOUR E., The Encyclopaedia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia, Vol. I., p. 131, 3rd edition, Graz, Austria, 1968

23QUEGUINER M., p. 71

24ZACHARIAS, Studies on Hinduism Book II. Brahmanism, Alwaye, 1946 p. 132, note 1

25 DUBOIS J. A., p. 158-159

26In Hindu religion, there are different categories of “priests” to perform different functions. Those who perform the rituals in the temple are called pujaris and the priests who officiate at public and private ceremonies such as the Samskaras are called Purohitas

27DUBOIS J. A., pp. 160-169


The celebration of the “Sacred Thread Ceremony” lasts for live days and each day’s celebration ends with Arati. On the first day the Purohita performs some preliminary pujas to the divinity. After the bath of the candidate, the parents seat themselves by the side of their son on the dais and at that time the women perform Arati. The second day is the actual day of the investiture of the “Sacred Thread” that ends with Arati. On the third day, most of the ceremony is repeated and the day ends with Arati. On the fourth day of the celebration, at particular moment, there is a puja destined to all gods and finally there is the ceremony of Arati. On the final day, all the guests, both men and women before their departure accompany the young Brahmin on a solemn procession through the streets. On their return, the women tell him in song of all the prayers that they have offered by them for his future happiness. And they wind up the feast by Arati. As we could very well see, the only purpose for which these Aratis the performed is nothing but for the drishti-dosha, to avert the influence of the evil eye.


Arati in Hindu temple worship

Just as Arati is so important in the celebration of the Hindu Samskaras in life of a Hindu as we have pointed out, it is also important in Hindu worship. Due to the lack of common understanding among the different authors on the signification of Arati in the Hindu temple worship and also of the lack of authentic documents on this subject, we decided to ask the priests who perform puja every day in the temple on this subject. We spoke to three priests from three famous Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu. First we interviewed the senior most priest in the Vadapalani Murugan temple at Chennai” It is one of the famous Hindu temples in the South. Already 150 years ago there is believed to have been puja at the place where this temple is built. The construction work of this temple started about 125 years ago.





Then we interviewed a priest from Kumari Amman temple at Kanyakumari. There is a belief that the goddess Kumari Amman was venerated already 3000 years ago. It is one of the most ancient temples in India and it is not clear about the exact year in which this temple was constructed. From the inscriptions engraved on the temple stones, it is clear that this temple was constructed by the kings of three different kingdoms in South India, viz. Cheras, Cholas and Pandias.

And finally a priest from Thanumalai temple at Suchindram near Kanyakumari, the only temple where the three gods of Hindu pantheon are venerated together. This temple was constructed in the 7tn century A. D. We must say that all these three agreed on most of the points even though there was some difference of opinion on the real objective of this ceremony during the puja in the Hindu temple. We give below what had been gathered through these interviews on the understanding of Arati in the Hindu temple worship.


—Arati is one of the rituals in the puja and that there could be no puja without Arati. Arati is much more important than flowers or incense. Puja can be performed without flower or incense, but not without Arati. Arati is performed always with fire and is never done with flower or incense.

—Even though Arati is performed only for God during the puja, there is an exception to it. It is performed to the newly married couple as they come home “to ward off the bad omen” and also to wish them all happiness. It is not to welcome them. And for that matter Arati is never done to welcome anyone whatever be his rank or grade.

—With regard to the purpose of the Arati in the worship there is difference of opinion. This understanding differs even among the Hindu priests who perform this rite every day and it shows us how it is difficult to have a real authentic meaning of Arati in the Hindu temple worship. According to one priest, “the devotee sees God in the form of fire” at the moment of performing Arati. In other words, Arati is performed to enable the devotee to see God. The same idea was shared by another priest and said, “As we take Arati, we look at God as light”. But he gave the reason for using camphor for Arati. He said, “We take Arati with camphor because camphor has a good smell and when we perform Arati with camphor, the good smell of the camphor goes to God. Is Arati to please God by sending the good smell of the camphor to God? Maybe. But for the priest of the Kanyakumari Temple, the purpose of performing Arati is completely different from what the other two priests have said. Arati is done “to remove any evil eye or bad omen” ‘from the “Ammbal” that might have been caused by the look of the thousands of devotees”‘


The answer given by these priests corresponds to the information given by Abbé Dubois 175 years ago. As the Arati was performed to ward off the evil spirit either from the gods or from the high ranking authorities at the time of Dubois, the same signification remains intact even today as we hear from this Hindu Priest.

One of the reasons for these different interpretations can be attributed to the lack of clear indication in the ancient Indian literatures with regard to the real meaning of this rite in the worship. At the same time these interpretations of the Hindu priests have to be taken with some value because this is the message they have received from generation to generation and it is this message that they transmit to the people who come to worship their gods in the temple.



The Sacred Congregation on Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments brought out an important document on Inculturation called Fourth Instruction on the Implementation of the Liturgical Constitution.28 Adaptation is the term used by the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy in the articles 37 -40. We also see another word used the same document “accomodatio”, which could be translated as “to accommodate”, something accepted or made temporary.29
But this is the first liturgical document that uses the term “inculturation” “to define more precisely the incarnation of the Gospel in autonomous cultures and at the same time the introduction of these cultures into the life of the Church.30 The Fourth Instruction defines the word “inculturation” as “an intimate transformation of the authentic cultural values by their integration into Christianity and the implantation of Christianity into different human cultures.”31


Since the term “adaptation” could lead one to think of a “simple modification of a somewhat transitory and external nature,” the Fourth Instruction acknowledges the term “inculturation” as “a better expression to designate a double movement: By inculturation, the Church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community.32 Based on this definition, we can speak of “liturgical inculturation” as the process whereby the texts and rites used in worship by the local Church are so inserted in the framework of culture, that they absorb its thoughts, language and ritual pattern. “Liturgical inculturation” is basically the assimilation by the liturgy of the local cultural pattern, that is to say, liturgy and culture share the same pattern of thinking, speaking, and expressing themselves through rites, symbols and artistic forms. In this process, the liturgy is inserted into the culture, history and tradition of the people among whom the Church dwells.33

What are the basic requirements needed before attempting the process of inculturation? First of all one must keep in mind the nature of the liturgy.34
What is the nature of Christian liturgy? The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy clearly speaks on this:

The liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy, by means of signs perceptible to the senses, human sanctification is signified and brought about in ways proper to each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and members.35




Because it is in the liturgy that nature of the Church is intimately linked with, the nature of the Church36 should be manifested in the Liturgy. Therefore, any attempt to make use of the different signs, symbols or phrases from the culture or from any other existing religious practice or worship, should make sure that these attempts do not overshadow the nature of the liturgy and of the Church.

The Fourth Instruction clearly outlines the preliminary conditions for inculturation of the Liturgy. First of all it deals on the problems faced in the Church in different countries on liturgical inculturation and enumerates some of the Conditions required for inculturation of the Liturgy. One of the problems enumerated in this document brings out clearly the situation in India:

The different situations in which the church finds itself are an important factor in judging the degree of liturgical inculturation that is necessary. The situation of countries that were evangelized centuries ago and where the Christian faith continues to influence the culture is different from countries which were evangelized more recently or where the Gospel has not penetrated deeply into cultural values’ Different again is the situation of a church where Christians are a minority of the population. A more complex situation is found when the population has different languages and cultures. A precise evaluation of the situation is necessary in order to achieve satisfactory solutions.37


To prepare an inculturation of the liturgy, episcopal conferences should call upon people who are competent both in liturgical tradition of the Roman rite and in the appreciation of local cultural values. Preliminary studies of a historical, anthropological, exegetical and theological character are necessary. But these need to be examined in the light of the pastoral experience of the local clergy, especially those born in the country” The advice of “wise people” of the country whose human wisdom is_ enriched by the light of the Gospel, would also be valuable.38 It is the Episcopal Conference that should determine “whether the introduction into the liturgy of elements borrowed from the social and religious rites of a people” will help them to understand better the liturgical celebrations “without producing negative effects on their faith and piety” and they are asked to “be careful to avoid the danger of introducing elements that might appear to the faithful as the return to the period before evangelization.39


Another important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is the primary objective of inculturation.40 The objective is already laid down by the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy: “Both texts and rites should be so drawn up that they express more clearly the holy things they signify and that the Christian people, as far as possible, are able to understand them with ease and to take-part in the rites fully, actively and as befits a community.”41

On the use of language and phraseology the Fourth Instruction gives some suggestions:

“Careful consideration therefore needs to be given to determine which elements in the language of the people can properly be introduced into liturgical celebrations, and in particular whether it is suitable or not to use expressions form non-Christian religious.”42 There are two important articles that need to be considered very carefully. “Innovations should only be made when the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”43


And finally to avoid religious syncretism the Fourth Instruction suggests the following:

“The liturgy is the expression of faith and Christian life, and so it is necessary to ensure that liturgical inculturation is not marked, even in appearance, by religious syncretism. This would be the case if the places of worship, the liturgical objects and vestments, gestures and postures let it appear as if rites had the same significance of Christian celebrations as they did before evangelization The syncretism will be still worse if biblical readings and cants or the prayers were replaced by texts from other religious, even if these contain an undeniable religious and moral value.”44

28Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) DIVINE WORSHIP AND DISCPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS, Fourth Instruction on the Correct Implementation of the Liturgical Constitution (Ad Const. Art. 3740), 29th March 1994, Notitiae XXX (1994), pp. 80-115.Hereafter this document will be quoted as 4th Instruction.

29Cf. SC 90,120,128

304th Instruction 4



33CHUPUNGCO A. J., Liturgical Inculturation: Sacramentals, Religiosity, and Catechesis, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1992, p. 30. See also CHUPUNGCO A. J., Liturgies of the Future: The Process and Methods of Inculturation, Paulist Press, New York, 1989, p.29.

344th Instruction 21

35SC 7. DOL 1, p.6

36Cf. SC 2. DOL 1, p.2

374th Instruction. 29

38Ibid. 30

39Ibid. 32

40Cf. Ibid.35

41SC 21. DOL 1, p.9




424th Instruction 39





Problem of Arati in Liturgical Celebration

Earlier, we have given many definitions from different authors on the Arati and explained in details the meaning and the objective of the Arati in the temple worship and at the celebration of the different Samskaras in the life of an orthodox Hindu. We also pointed out how this ceremony was performed for the persons of high rank and even for the animals. The interview of the three Hindu temple priests also helped us to understand more on the purpose of the Arati in the Hindu worship.

From all these definitions and explanations given, it seems to us that the main aim of this ceremony was “to counter act the influence of the evil eye” as expressed by Abbé Dubois and others. We have also pointed out how in the two most important Samskaras, viz. the sacred thread ceremony and marriage, each time the candidates come back to the place of ceremony after a brief exit, Arati was performed over them to ward off the evil eye. We also saw that Arati in both the Hindu temple worship and in the celebration of Samskaras is neither performed with flower nor with incense.

We need to acknowledge the fact that the information available to us on Arati is limited. One could base his reflections and analysis only on the basis of the information available to him. As such, we ask ourselves this important question: What is the purpose and the objective of Arati in our Liturgical celebration?


One of the Twelve Points of Adaptation approved for the Church in India by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 25 April 1969 is on Arati. The approval letter states, “In the offertory rite, and at the conclusion of the anaphora the Indian form of worship may be integrated, that is, double or triple “arati” of flowers, and/or incense, and/or light.” When the text of the Twelve Points of Adaptation was sent for the approval, A Commentary on Short Term Adaptation in the Liturgy45 was also prepared based on the recommendation by the participants of the Second All India Liturgical Meeting held in Bangalore from 27 -31 January 1969.46

The commentary on the Arati indicates, “This is one of the traditional and most impressive forms of paying homage to someone, men or God, and we should be happy that this is permitted. Arati can be done in three ways: with three elements: first the homage of flowers: pushparati; secondly the homage of incense: dhuparati; and thirdly the homage of light: deeparati. The number of aratis depends upon the degree of solemnity or respect that one wants to give. We could propose the following so that there is a grading for the various parts of the Mass. At the beginning of the Mass the altar may be venerated with a single arati (incensation) likewise at the Gospel (incensation); at the offertory double arati: flowers and incense; at the doxology after the consecration, triple arati: flowers, incense and light.”47

Based on the approval from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Arati, was integrated in the Roman Missal with the note “Adaptation for India.” At the Introductory Rites, it is mentioned, “The priest is welcomed in an Indian way, i.e. with a single arati (pushpa arati: waving with a tray of flowers and a Deepak in the middle). The priest receives the tray and makes the same arati to the congregation.”48
During the Preparation of the Gifts, it is given, “A double arati is now done over the gifts – pushpa arati.(homage of flowers) and dhupa arati (homage of incense).49 And finally at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer during the doxology: the priest sings or says the doxology “while a triple arati is done by members of the assembly: pushpa arati (waving a tray of flowers with Deepak in the centre or showering of flower petals); dhupa arati (homage of incense); deepa arati (homage of light, waving of camphor fire).”50

In the Indian tradition, homage to a man or God is not normally done in the form of pushparati. Homage to a man is done by garlanding and not by Arati with flower and even if homage to God in the context of Hindu worship is done by flower, it is not done in the form of arati but by either throwing the flower on the deity or laying it at the feet of the deity.51

This can be said also of the dhuparati. All the authors who we have quoted above said that Arati is performed by waving of the light, done only with fire (light) and it is has also been said that Arati is reserved to God alone.

Leaving aside the problem of the Arati with flowers or with incense, in normal circumstance, the priest incenses the gifts and the altar during the “preparation of the gifts”. Would not Arati with incense mislead the signification of the incensing at this particular moment?52

When the National Liturgical Commission made a survey on the evaluation of the liturgical renewal in India since Vatican II, 53
one of the points for which the people made greater reservation was Arati, because they considered Arati not as an element of Indian culture, but taken from the Hindu religion54. Even today a vast majority of the Catholic population in India are not very comfortable when they see Arati being performed during the Eucharistic celebration.

There was also confusion in many parishes of different dioceses in India where some of the Twelve Points of Adaptation approved by the Holy See, including Arati were introduced. The people were saying that these were from Hindu Worship and accusing the Church authorities that they were introducing the Hindu Puja in the Catholic worship.



We need to explain to the people about the real objective of Arati during the Eucharistic celebration. We have not come across any ancient Indian literature that refers the Arati as a sign of welcoming someone. If the people wants to welcome the priest at the beginning of the Mass, will it not be apt to garland him than taking Arati?

45Word & Worship II (1969), pp. 570-580

46AMALORPAVADASS D.S., edit. The Second All India Liturgical Meeting, January 1969, NBCLC Bangalore, 1969.

47Word & Worship II, p. 579.

48The Roman Missal, p. 357.

49Ibid. p. 374.

50Ibid. p. 469,475,480,487.

51Cf. page 22.

52For the meaning of incensation see JUNGMANN J. A., The Mass of the Roman Rite ….., vol. II, pp. 70-76.

53THECKANATH J., “Liturgical Inculturation – A Review” in Report of the seventh Plenary Assembly of the CCBI, Calcutta Jan. 5-7, CCBI Secretariat New Delhi, 1965, pp. 120-132.

54A Study Report of Facts, Procedures and Survey on Liturgical Renewal in India since the Second Vatican Council (1963 – 4th December – 1978) NBCLC, Bangalore, pp. 146-147.


OM in Hindu Tradition

The syllable OM is considered in the Hindu tradition to be the most sacred and “articulated syllable par excellence.”55

It is a sign representing Hinduism.56 To all orthodox Hindus, OM is “the most sacred of all symbols, the Hindu doxology, a formula of praise and adoration of triune God and consequently use it as a means for their own spiritual enrichment, their sanctification and salvation.”57 It is also a sacred symbol that signifies the Supreme Being. It also would mean, “Yes, God exists” and symbolise Brahma in his three aspect of existence, the past, the present and the future. This syllable is used at the beginning and the end of invocations, affirmation, blessings, salutations, meditations, etc.”58


OM is the contraction of three sounds A U M, interpreted to signify Brahma, the Supreme Being under his three great attributes of the creator, the preserver and the destroyer, the letters standing in succession for the attributes as they are described and thus “A” stands for creation, “U” stands for preservation and ‘M’ stands for destruction.59 OM represents three Vedas, viz. Rig, Yajur and Sama,”60 the three chief deities of Hinduism, viz. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and the three worlds, viz. heaven, atmosphere and earth.”61 It is important that a Brahmin beginning or ending a lecture of the Vedas must always pronounce to himself this syllable OM.62


OM is defined as “the primary sound symbol of an Indian tradition maintained continuously from the age of the Vedas into modern times, the syllable OM stands charged with unquestionable religious energy. Its use as a mantra for profound meditation reflects the Vedic teaching that the devotee is one with the sacred sound and all it represents. Through the constant repetition in recitations, prayers, and even recently composed texts, it acts as a, pitch that turns the worshipper to the heart of the prayer.”63


OM in Upanishads

The Upanishads are the first recorded attempt of the Hindus at systematic philosophising. Upa-ni-sad simply means “to be seated at the feet of the master and to receive his instruction.” However, the instruction received at the master’s feet is not just any kind of instruction, but the instruction that is secret, hidden. The Upanishads do not offer an organised body of doctrines. It contains intuitive “awakening” which “passed down in succession from Guru to initiate.”

The Upanishads are spread out over several centuries, roughly from ninth to the sixth century BC. The Upanishads are divided into earlier and later. In the earlier Upanishads, the main trend of thought is non-dualism, with its various forms, all denying the distinction between the individual self and the Absolute (Brahman or Atman). In the later Upanishads, the Absolute is the spiritual, imperishable, pure, infinite and transcendent Being which is the foundation of all the realities and which remains unaffectedly by the changes of things.”64


From sixth century B.C, the Upanishads make direct mention of OM. One of the earliest Upanishads, the Chandogya Upanishad discusses the syllable OM at length. It states that OM is immortal65 and by sounding OM, one intones the Udgita, the essential canto of the Vedic sacrifice.66 The Taittiriya Upanishad from the same group of the earlier Upanishads indicates that OM is both Brahman and the cosmos: “OM is Brahma, OM is the whole world.”67

In Katha Upanishad OM is defined as the goal propounded by the Vedas and that anyone who mediates on this syllable can attain Brahman:

The Word, which all the Vedas rehearse,

And which all austerities proclaim,

(…) That is OM

That syllable, truly, indeed, is Brahma!



That syllable indeed is the supreme!

Knowing that syllable, truly, indeed,

Whatever one desires is his!”68


The Mandukya Upanishad, one of the later Upanishads devotes its very first chapter to the syllable OM. This syllable is divided into four phonetic components, representing four states of mind, or consciousness. “A” is related to the awakened state, “U”, to the dream state and “M” to dreamless sleep and the syllable as whole to the fourth state, turiya which is beyond words and is itself the One, the ultimate, the Brahman.”69
The Maitri Upanishad refers to OM as the “primary sound,”70
and the devotee is enjoyed to meditate on the self as OM.”71
Finally the Mundaka Upanishad indicates how the articulation of OM was integrated into the practice of meditation according to Indian thought. It says that OM is the bow, the soul is the arrow and the Brahman is the target, and one must bow before the target without any distraction:

Taking as a bow the great weapon of Upanishad,

One should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation.

Stretching it with a thought directed to tree essence of That,

Penetrate that Imperishable as the mark, my friend.

The mystic syllable OM is the bow. The arrow is the soul (atman).

Brahma is said to be the mark.

By the undistracted men is It to be penetrated.

One must come to be in It, as the arrow.72


OM in Bhagavad Gita

This literature73 forms part of the Mahabharata, one of the two well-known epics of India. It appears that the royal family of Hastinapura was divided into two branches: one called the Kauravas, and the other Pandavas. The former wish to keep the latter out of the share of the kingdom claimed by them; and so; after many attempts at an amicable arrangement had proved fruitless, it was determined to decide the difference between the two parties by the means of the war. Both parties with their army met at the battle field of Kurukshetra. At that moment, Krishna, a relative of both parties and who was endowed with more than human powers, presents himself before Dhritarashta, the father of the Kauravas, who is stated to be blind. So Krishna deputes one Sangaya to relate to Dhritarashta all events of the battle, giving to Sangaya, by means of his own super human powers, all necessary aides for performing the duty. The battle begins and on the tenth day, Bishma, the great general of Kauravas falls. At this point, Sangaya comes to Dhritarashta and announces the sad news. Then the king makes numerous enquiries regarding the course of the battle and among the earliest answers of Sangaya is the account of the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, the eldest of the Pandavas at the commencement of the battle, which constitutes the Bhagavad Gita.

Max Muller fixes the period of the composition as earlier than the third century B.C. “although it is altogether impossible to say at present how much earlier”. The aim of Bhagaved Gita is to harmonise the doctrine of Yoga, Sankhya and Vedanta and to exalt the duties of cast (sic) above all other obligations. At the same time it is to show that the practice of these duties is compatible with the self-mortification and concentration of thought enjoyed by the Yoga as well as the deepest devotion to the Supreme Being with whom Krishna claims to be identified.

In Bhagavad Gita the syllable OM is used to express the primacy of God: “It is I who is the father of this world of living, his mother, his founder, his grandfather, the project of the sacred science, the purifier, the syllable OM.”74
OM is considered as the symbol of infinite perfection of God. To express the omniscience of God, Krishna says, “I am the radiance in the moon and the sun, the syllable OM in all the Vedas.75
OM is the best syllable to remind man of God at the end of his life and so the one who dies by pronouncing this syllable is sure of salvation.”76

55ESNOUL A. M., “OM” in ELIADE M., ed. The Encyclopaedia of Religion, vol. II, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1987, pp.68-69


57PRABHAKAR M”, “The religious symbol OM“, Indian Ecclesiastical Statistics VII (1968), pp. 188-189

58WALKER B., vol. II, p. 104; ESNOUL A. M., p. 69

59BALFOUR E., vol. III, p. 21; SWAMI BHASKARANANDA, p. 147

60The Vedas are understood to comprise four collections of hymns and sacrificial formulas. The many texts, varied in form and content that makes up the Vedas were composed over several centuries, in different localities, and by many generations of poets, priests and philosophers. Tradition, however will not admit the use of the word “compose” in this context, for the Vedas are believed to “not produced by human agency”. It is eternal. Its so-called authors have merely “seen” or discovered it. The literary history of the Vedas is usually divided into four periods (2000-1100 BC; 1100-800 BC; 800-500 BC; and 500 BC onward). In particular, four collections of texts from the first period are commonly referred to as the four Vedas. These are Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. The Rigveda, composed sometime between 1500 BC and 900 BC (some scholars date it much earlier as between 2000 and 1500), consists of 1028 hymns. The bulk of the Rigveda consists of mythology and the panegyrics and prayers that are either dependent on or independent of that mythology. The Yajurveda (700- 300 BC) is compiled mainly from Rigvedic hymns, but showing considerable deviation from the original.




It is a priestly handbook, arranged in liturgical from the original: performance of sacrifices. In fact, the Yajurveda can be regarded as the first regular text book on the Vedic ritual as a whole. It deals mainly within the duties of the priest responsible for the actual performance of the various sacrificial rites. The Samaveda is the collection of mantras, to be chanted at various “soma sacrifice” by the priest and/or his assistants. It has 1549 mantras. The Atharvaveda has 730 hymns. Its contents are to counteract diseases and possession by evil spirits; prayer for health and longevity and for happiness and prosperity. It also spells out formulas for sorcery and imprecation and for exorcism and counter-exorcism. DANDEKAR R. V., “Veda”, in ELIADE M., ed.., The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 15, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1987, pp. 214-217; WALKER B., vol. I, pp. 94-96; Ibid., vol. II, pp. 294-296, 343, 556-558,613-614

61WALKER B., vol. II, p. ‘104; SWAMI BHASKARANANDA, pp. 147-148

62BALFOUR E., vol. III, p”21

63ESNOUL A. M., p. 69

64ABHISHIKTANANDA, The Further Shore: Sannyasa and the Upanishads-an Introduction, ISPCK, Delhi, 1975; MAXUOT-IBR F., ed. Sacred Books of the East, vol. l, The Upanishads, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1965; ARANJANIYIL A., The Absolute of the Upanishads, Dharmaram Publications, Bangalore, 1975; HUME R. E., The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, translated from the Sanskrit, Oxford University Press, London, 1965; WALKER B., vol. II, pp.530-535. MAHONY W. K., “Upanishads” in ELIADE M., ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. l-5, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 7987, pp. 147-152.

65Chandogya Up. 1.4.4., HUME R. E., p.182

66Ibid., 1.I.5., HUME R. E., p. 177

67Taittiriya Up. 1.8., HUME R. E., p.279

68Katha Up.2.15-16., HUME R. E., pp.348-349

69Mandukya Up. Ch. l.L-12. HUME R. E., pp. 391-393

70Maitri Up. 6.22. HUME R. E., pp. 437-438

71Ibid., 6.3. HUME R.E., p. 425

72Mundaka Up.2.2.3-4. HUME R. E., p.372

73MAX MULLER F., ed., Sacred Books of the East: The Bhagavad Gita, volume VIII, trans. TELANG K. T., Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1965: The religious and moral teaching of the Bhagavad Gita examined: an appeal to educated Hindus, the Christian Literature Society of India, Madras, 19021’ZAEHNER R. C., The Bhagavad Gita: with commentary based on the original sources, Oxford University Press, 1972 (First published in 1969).

74Bhagavad Gita 9, 17

75Bhagavad Gita 7, 9-9

76Cf. BG 7, 13

“OM” in Christian Worship

Earlier, we gave some definitions on the syllable OM from different authors and from some of the Indian literatures to show how important is this syllable in Hinduism and also for a Hindu. We have not asked ourselves whether it is correct or not to adopt this syllable in the liturgy. To know about the consequence of this adaptation, we need to know more about the real meaning that Hinduism gives to this syllable.

Since OM represents the three chief gods of Hinduism and also serves as a formula of praise and adoration of these three gods, there is a tendency among some of the Indian Christian writers to give it a Christian interpretation. Some authors right away conclude that OM is “a representative symbol of the most holy Trinity.”77 Fr. Griffiths considered OM as the Word of God that “corresponds very closely to the logos of St. John.”78 Again they want to adopt OM as the symbol of the God of the Old Testament who said “I Am who Am” and of the New Testament as “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”79

Of course this symbol represents the three important gods of the Hinduism. Can this representation be a valid reason to adopt this symbol in Christianity to represent the Most Holy Trinity or for that matter in our Liturgy? Is the concept of God in Hinduism same as that of Christianity? Hinduism represents these gods as the creator, preserver and destroyer. Do we have the same concept of the Creation or of the Redemption? Can we adopt a symbol of another religion to our liturgy without taking into consideration that which it signifies? To answer these and similar questions, first of all we need to know the concept of God in Hinduism. We would like to make it clear that we do not have the intention of going into detail of all the philosophical concepts of God. We intend to give only the main line of thought in Hinduism as presented mainly by the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

77VINEETH F., “Theology of Adisabda an OM“, in AMALORPAVADASS D. S., ed., Indian Christian Spirituality, NBCLC, Bangalore, 1982, p. 123; see also PRABHAKAR M., p. 190.

78GRIFFITHS B. OM as the Word of God: The meaning and significance of the syllable OM, Inculturation Pamphlet Series no. 1., NBCLC, Bangalore (no year), p. 1.

79PRABHAKAR M., “The religious symbol OM“, Indian Ecclesiastical Studies VII (1968), p. 189.


The Concept of God in the Upanishads […]


The Concept of God in the Bhagavad Gita […]




From what have been said about God and creation in Hinduism, there is no need for us to explain how different are these concepts and teachings in Christianity. When we presented the procedures of the devapuja as prescribed in Baudhayana-grhya-Parisesasutra, we said that towards the end of the puja the worshipper offers flowers to the image of the deity repeating the twelve names of Vishnu.”80 This ritual is one of the upakaras called namaskara, obeisance-making or the formal salutation to the deity. 81 The namaskara can be either astanga82 or panchanga.83 Astanga is done as the person “prostrates himself on the ground in front of the image in such a way that the palms of his hands, his feet, his knees, his chest and forehead touch the ground and his mind, speech and eye are fixed on the image” and Panchanga is done as a person “prostrates himself with his hand, feet and head.” In modern times, the namaskara to the Sun god is done differently. The worshipper repeats the twelve names of the Sun, namely Mitra, Ravi, Surya, Bhanu, Khaga, Pusan, Hiranyagarbha, Merici, Aditya, Savitr, Arka and Bhaskara in the dative case, preceded by the syllable OM and followed by the word “namah.”84 Let us formulate the phrase with the name Mitra. OM + Mitra in dative, viz. Mitraya + Namah. And the phrase would be OM Mitraya namah. In the same manner the Sun god will be invoked with twelve names. There is also another method of doing namaskara. “After OM certain mystic syllables and their combinations in twos and fours together with certain mantras are repeated with the twelve names.”85

Every morning an orthodox Hindu goes either at the bank of a river or at a sea shore or any other convenient place, looks at the rising sun and adores it saying “Om Mitraya namah (OM adoration to Mitra). In like manner he utters all the twelve names. In the worship of Vishnu, after having done all the offerings (upacaras) the worshipper finally offers flowers to Vishnu repeating the twelve names of Vishnu. Our Eucharist is the celebration of the memorial of the death, resurrection and the ascension of our Lord in which we offer His Body and Blood to the heavenly Father. The signification of their offering different things to the deity (upacaras) is not the same as our offering of the Body and Blood of Christ to the Father. Nor can the whole meaning of the Eucharist be explained in the context of the Hindu worship.

Liturgical inculturation is not a mere adoption of the elements and formulas of other religious worship. The concluding declaration of the 1985 Synod of bishops expressed clearly this difference: “Since the church is a communion, which is present throughout the world and joins diversity and unity, it takes up whatever it finds positive in all cultures. Inculturation however, is different from a mere external adaptation, as it signifies an interior transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration into Christianity and the rooting of Christianity in various human cultures.”86 It is “an intimate transformation of the authentic cultural values by their integration into to Christianity and the implantation of Christianity into different human values”.87 It is “the process whereby the texts and rites used in worship by the local church are so inserted in the framework of culture, that they absorb its thought, language, and ritual patterns.”88 This process however should be “in harmony with the true and authentic spirit of the liturgy,”89 taking into account ‘not only the doctrine of faith but also the requirements of the Christian liturgy”.90

At this moment one can ask a fundamental question together with Spinks: “Whether in the process of inculturation, the Christian doctrine of God and his relationship to the creation has been qualified by the rather different emphasis found in Hindu mythology and philosophy?”91 In the process of inculturation, one must make a distinction “between inculturation, which uses language and thought forms to express Christian concepts and one which adopts different religious concepts and formulas.”92 We do not think that the syllable OM is the thought form that expresses the Christian concept of God and of creation, but Hindu religious concept that is entirely different from that of Christianity.

In every religion and in religious worship there are symbols. These symbols express the uniqueness of that particular religion. So, can a particular symbol, used by a particular religion, be adopted in a religious worship of another religion without damaging the principal doctrine of that religion? The cross is the symbol of Christianity. Each time a Christian looks at a cross, he is reminded of the saving event of our God made man. OM is the specific symbol of Hinduism. Each time an orthodox Hindu utters this syllable, he believes that he meditates on the three deities of Hinduism or on the three worlds. He also believes that by sounding OM, he intones the song of the Vedic sacrifice.93 He also believes that by uttering this syllable, he will attain Brahman.”94 As cross cannot be put on the top of a Hindu temple, so too OM cannot be put on the top of a church. Therefore can the syllable OM be integrated into the Christian worship?

80See page 28.

81WALKER B., vol. II. p. 608

82KANE P. V., vol. II. part II, p. 735



85Ibid. pp., 735-736.

86Quoted in CHUPUNGCO A. J., Liturgical Inculturation… p. 29

874th Instruction 4.

88CHUPUNGCO A. J., Liturgies of the Future: The Process and Methods of Inculturation, Paulist Press, New York’ 1989, p’ 29′

89SC 37. DOL 1, p. 12

90CHUPUNGCO A. J., Liturgies of the Future… p. 30

91SPINKS B. D., “The Anaphora for India: Some Theological Objections to an Attempt to Inculturation“, Ephemerides Liturgicae 95 (1981), p. 535




92Ibid. p. 539

93Ch. UP. 1.4.5. HUME R. E., p. 177

94Katha Up. 2.15-t6. HUME R. E., pp. 348-349


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Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India

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