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Eight Time Worship In A Day – Ashtayama

Ashtayama is a schedule of worship performed eight times a day by some Vaishnavite sects in their temples. In the Vallabha sect kirtanas are sung at different parts of the day when Bhagavan is woken up (at dawn), decorated, fed, re-awakened after rest at noon, worshiped at dusk and so on.

The Radhavallabha, Nimaraka, Haridasi and Gaudiya sects have also their own prescriptive rituals for the eight time-divisions of the day and, accordingly, many padas or songs, written by the poets of these sects, especially of the Radhavallabha and Nimbarka sects, are sung. Among the important composers are – Dhurvadasa, Nehi Nagariadasa, Ananya Ali and Caca Vrindavanadasa. Their songs deal with the daily routine of young Bhagavan Sri Krishna as he wakes up, goes to herd the cows, rests and sleeps.

There is an interesting description of the rituals connected with Rama-worship (Ramastayama), written by Nabhadasa (first published, Venkateshwar Press, 1944) in Brajabhasha. The morning rituals of getting up, bathing and dressing are mentioned in detail. Among the sakhis, Subhaga, Sahaja, Sarayu, Tulasi, Kamala, Vimala and Chandralekha are mentioned. Rama meets his entourage and then goes for the ritual bath. Rama also performs yajnas. This is followed by an elaborate feast. After resting, the princes all go out to meet the city-dwellers and Rama inspects the stables of the gardens set up by the brothers. Then they all ride on elephants on the banks of Sarayu River. There, they play the game of caugan. When half the day remains, Rama returns to visit the queen mothers and later enjoys diversion like kite-flying with his friends. Rama and Sita go back to the golden room where the female attendants entertain them with music and dance. At midnight there is a mock wedding, after which the curtains are drawn on the royal couple to allow them to retire.