--> Skip to main content

Abhisheka In Hinduism – Religious Significance Of Abhishekam In Hindu Religion

Meaning of Abhisheka in Hinduism is sprinkling, ablution or anointing. Abhishekam is the ritual bathing of a holy image with sacred water (brought from sacred rivers, wells, lake, confluence of rivers or the sea), curd, oil,or a mixture of cow dung, cow urine, milk, ghee (clarified butter) etc.

The term is also used in the context of the inauguration of a religious function, the coronation of a king, installation of a deity, the taking of a vow of renunciation and so on.

In Tantra, abhisheka has a special meaning, namely, that of the initiation of a student into the path of esoteric practices, especially of the Shakta school.

It marks the progressive stages on the path of inner experience in the worship of the Goddess Shakti. In all, there are eight such abhishekas mentioned in Tantra rahasya. The first among them, called Shakabhisheka, marks the initiation of the student into the elaborate discipline of the Shakta tradition.

To begin with, the student recites the mantra received from the guru (teacher).

The number of such repetitions of the recital may run into millions. It is called purascharana. Austerities and observances like fasting, controlled diet, concentration of mind, study of spiritual literature, etc, are practiced. With rigorous discipline rigorous discipline the mind becomes progressively calm and peaceful. With one’s progress on the path, seven further abhishekas are performed at appropriate times indicating different degrees of attainment of excellence. These are:
  1. Purna abhisheka
  2. Kramadika abhisheka
  3. Samrajya abhisheka
  4. Mahasamrajya abhisheka
  5. Yogadiksha abhisheka
  6. Purnadiksha abhisheka
  7. Virajagraha abhisheka

The last stage signifies freedom from passion and desire. One who achieves the state of liberation from the bonds of ignorance and sorrow and the limitations of the body, is called a paramahamsa or a liberated man.

Abhisheka was an important ceremony in the life of the king in ancient times. It used to be of two types, aindra mahabhisheka and purnadiksha abhisheka, both of which find mention in Aitareya Brahmana and other texts.

The former was part of the rajasuya (royal consecration) ceremony; the latter was performed when a lost kingdom was recovered, and hence it was called “the second coronation.” The abhisheka ceremony has also been employed by common people for ceremonial purification or for investing themselves with special powers.