Why do we perform certain number of pradakshinas in temples?

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Each time we go to a temple, we take a complete darshan of the deity in the temple. We offer our prayers, close our eyes and chant some mantras near the deity. To get full benefit of our visit, we go for pradakshinas. We move from the left side of the mandap with our hands folded in the form of a namaskara while chanting the Deity’s name. After the pradakshina, pay obeisance to the Deity and only then commence the next pradakshina.

The general rule is that for male Deities, the number of pradakshinas should be in ‘even’ numbers (0, 2, 4, 6) and for female Deities, it should be in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7). The reason is as follows. ‘Zero’ denotes Brahman, meaning, Supreme God who is the Creator of the universe. From ‘zero’, the number ‘one’, that is Maya (The Great illusion), meaning, the universe has originated. Maya is feminine, the number ‘one’ is ‘odd’; hence, pradakshina around the female Deities should be done in ‘odd’ numbers. ‘Even’ numbers are associated with ‘zero’ and hence pradakshina around the male Deities should be done in ‘even’ numbers.

Another school gives different numbers from different deities based on the forms of these deities.

SAPTADEVTAS NUMBER OF PRADAKSHINAS REASON UNDERLYING THE NUMBER
Deity Shiva 0 (Note 1) Deity symbolic of dormant and unmanifest nirgun energy
Goddess Durga 1 Deity representing the state of sagun manifest energy in dvait
Srikrushna 3 Purnavtars working equally at three levels of Iccha-shakti, Kriya-shakti and Dnyan-shakti
Sriram 4 The king who is an ideal follower of all the four ashrams, that is, Brahmacharyashram, Gruhastashram, Vanaprasthashram and Sanyasashram
Deity Maruti 5 One who has mastery over Pancha-tattvas
Deity Datta 7 One who brings about spiritual progress of the jiva by purifying the seven chakras present in the body
Srī Ganapati 8 Master of all the eight directions

 

Another study gives numbers based on energy flow.

  1. Shri Vishnu: Four pradakshinas have been prescribed for Shrivishnu, because Vishnu Principle contains the Divine energies of four actions of invocation, recitation, songs of praise and protection.
  2. Lord Shiva: The Shiva Principle is the symbol of that half part of ‘Om’ which signifies the function of Dissolution. Hence, only half a pradakshina has been prescribed.
  3. Goddesses: 1 pradakshina
  4. The Sun : When the Tejdharana (Energy of the radiance of the Sun) comes in the orbit of the Earth from the Sun, it intercepts seven levels and transforms at the sagun level through the medium of Vayu (Absolute Air)-Tej (Absolute Fire), Tej-Vayu, Tej, Tej-Apa (Absolute Water), Apa-Tej, Tej-Pruthvi (Absolute Earth) and Pruthvi- Tej Principles. As a symbol of this, 7 pradakshinas are performed.
  5. Shri Ganapati : Shri Ganapati is the symbol of Ichha-shakti (Energy of will). The waves of Ichha-shakti are attracted to a triangular figure in a shorter time. As a symbol of the union of the three flows, three pradakshinas of Shri Ganapati are performed.
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