Daily Routine of a Devout Hindu
In addition to the normal activities associated with one's profession
(varna dharma) and stage in life („shrama dharma), the daily
routine of a devout Hindu is to perform paŮcha mah„ yagŮas (five daily
duties) and paŮcha nitya karmas (five constant duties). These are the
minimal practices which guide a person in everyday life and ensure peace,
material and spiritual prosperity.
PaŮcha Mah„ YagŮas (Five Daily Duties)
- Worship God (Deva YagŮa) in the form of a family deity (Ishta
Devat„) in the home shrine through prayers and meditations. This
practice helps one to become God-conscious in all daily activities.
Additionally, this practice arouses a sense of togetherness in the family,
since the family members worship together and participate in the rituals,
chants, singing, and study of scriptures. Tradition says that "a family
that prays together stays together."
- Study Vedas and other scriptures (Brahma YagŮa). This practice
refreshes one's mind with sacred knowledge and also helps to preserve and
enrich such knowledge.
- Contemplate on the teachings of the sages, saints, holy men and women, and
one's forefathers (Pitri YagŮa). This practice is intended to serve
as a reminder to preserve, enrich and continue one's cultural heritage and
- Provide food for those who are in need (Bhuta YagŮa). This
practice is intended to create the spirit of sharing with others.
- Serve guests with love, respect, and reverence (Nara YagŮa). This
practice is the basis for the traditional hospitality of Hindu households.
PaŮcha Nitya Karmas (Five Constant Duties)
- Dharma (Righteousness): Live a virtuous life in accordance
with the teachings of the scriptures. Cultivate virtues of purity,
self-control, detachment, thinking of others first, truth and ahims„. Be
respectful of parents, teachers, and elders.
Dharma also means performing all duties associated with one's normal
profession, and individual and social obligations. Work must be performed purely
for its own sake. This means that all actions must be performed for excellence
and not merely for reward (nishkama karma). "Fix thy heart upon thy
work, but not on its reward. Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy
work." (Bhagavad GÓt„ 2.47)
- Tirthay„tr„ (Pilgrimage): Regularly visit regularly holy
persons, temples, and sacred pilgrimage sites. Such journeys provide freedom
from routine life and thereby freshen the mind. Pilgrimages also help to
create a sense of togetherness in the family, since all members undertake
the pilgrimages together.
- Utsava (Holy Days): Participate in festivals and holy days
in the home and temple. Observe fasts on holy days. This practice inculcates
God-consciousness, refreshes the mind and creates a sense of togetherness in
the family and the community. Hindu sages tell us that occasional fasting
prevents bodily diseases, restores the body's healing power, and heals the
mind by removing lust, anger, hatred, pride, and jealousy.
- Samsk„ras (Sacraments): Perform various Samsk„ras
in accordance with the scriptures. Samsk„ras are the religious
ceremonies which mark and sanctify an individual's passage through life.
They purify the mind by inculcating truthfulness in the mind, and purity and
generosity in the heart.
- Sarva Brahm„ (God is in all): God lives in the hearts of
all beings. Practice this truth, realize it and be free.