Teenage Years

Puja is important in everyone’s life, especially a teenager’s. The years of teenage play a key role in what kind of personality traits the teenager will develop in the future part of their life. Puja helps the teenager acquire sattvic traits. Puja instills faith in a teenager; it also provides a sense of order in his/her life. Puja is done in a very specific and precise manner. Every sacrifice, every offering, and every chant has a meaning in puja. The meaning of puja has to be realized in order to get the benefits, punya (good luck), and the sattvic qualities. That is why it is essential for teenagers to learn the meaning of puja while they are doing puja. The doing of puja is of no avail if the teenager does not comprehend the meaning behind it.

The teenager’s mind is a composition of hyperactivity, rajasic thoughts, tamasic thoughts, and sattvic thoughts. Puja helps the teenager’s mind focus on the good sattvic thoughts. The more the teenager focuses on sattvic thoughts, the better he/she becomes. The mind is the reins that control the five senses which are the horses, which are in turn controlled by the charioteer who is the intellect. The jeeva is the chariot, which is safely controlled by the intellect. Yamadharmaraja in the Katho Upanishad tells this to Nachiketa. The teenagers are like the chariots, which are safely controlled by the intellect. If the teenagers do not let the intellect control the chariot, the whole chariot will go hayw! ire. When teenagers think bad thoughts, they let the five senses (horses) take among them. In puja, all the five senses in mind are used to worship God. We use the sense of touch to bow our head on God’s feet, we use it to clean the God’s idols, and last but not least, we use our sense of touch to wave the incense sticks around God. We use our sense of smell to smell the sweet aroma of the incense sticks. We use our sense of taste to eat the godly prasad, which has been offered to God. We use our sense of sight to see God’s control, which make the chariot in turn not go to the desired place. Teenage is the time where most of the beliefs are rooted inside the head. Because of this, teenagers have to build a strong foundation for good thoughts so that they will not be affected later on in their life by bad things. In conclusion, puja helps the life of a teenager in many ways.

In theory, it is easy to say to keep the five senses in control is very easy, but practically keeping the five senses in control is very hard. That is why our great sages and saints devised different methods to control the senses. One use his/her mouth to sing praises on the lord and one uses their hand to wave the incense sticks and aarati around the God. An individual uses their nose to smell the sweet incense. One can use his tremendous sense of sight to see the all-loving, all-forgiving, and all-sweet face. Not only does puja keep the five senses in control, it maintains good hygiene for the person, too. Every day, doing puja at a certain point of time promotes discipline in the individual’s life. That is why it is im! portant for us for us teenagers to do puja, because it provides order, discipline, and faith in our lives.

By doing worship, our instinctive forces can be tamed to become more humble. Today, teenagers are submitting more to their materialistic tendencies rather than their spiritual and ethical values. Religious education must not be left only to temples, schools, etc. It must be undertaken by the family, which exerts a more powerful influence in the life of the individual. It is now in the hands of our generation, to keep the worship alive, and pass this on to the next generation. It is not an easy task in our multi-cultural, multi-ethical, and multi-religious society. But, if the elders keep the religious values open, and more understandable, listening honestly to teenagers problems and doubts regarding the different kinds of worship (puja) and then are willing to try out explaining solutions, maybe teenagers today will experience the real joys of puja in their own life while growing up and maturing. It is always good to make puja the way of life, rather than part of life.