Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 11: Chapter 27: Verses 1-15
Uddhava submitted : (Pray,) explain (to me) the course of discipline consisting of formal worship intended to propitiate You, O Lord, (and) also what type of devotees worship You in what manner and from what motive, 0 Protector of devotees ! Sages such as Narada, the divine Vyasa and Brhaspati (Angira's son), the preceptor (of the gods) repeatedly declare this (course) as conducive to the highest good of men. It emanated (for the first time) from Your lotus-like lips; and (receiving it from You) the divine Brahma taught it to his sons, the foremost of whom is Bhrgu, and Lord Siva (the Source of the universe) imparted it to his divine Spouse (Goddess Parvati). It is higly commendable for all the (higher) grades of society and stages of life and I consider it to be the best of all the courses of discipline conducive to blessedness even for womenfolk and Sudras, 0 Bestower of honour ! Explain this course, untying (as it does) once for all the bonds of Karma, 0 lotus-eyed Lord, to me, who stand devoted and attached to You, 0 suzerain Lord (even) of the Rulers of the universe (Brahma, Siva and so on). The glorious Lord began again : Since there is no end to the branch of the Vedas dealing with ritual acts, which is unlimited in scope and infinite in volume, 0 Uddhava! I shall (accordingly) discuss this topic (of Kriyayoga) in a nutshell in order of sequence in its true perspective. The procedure of My worship is threefold, viz.,Vedic, Thntika and mixed (consisting of both elements). Of the three, one should duly worship Me according to that procedure alone which is liked by him. Hear from Me the way in which, having (first) attained the status of the twice-born (by getting himself invested with the sacred thread) as enjoined by (the part of) the Veda prescribing his duties- when the worshipper happens to be a member of the twice-born classes-a man should worship Me with devotion and reverence. Full of Devotion he should worship Me, his teacher and father, with the requisite material (flowers etc.), with sincerity (lit., guilelessness in the shape of entertaining no hope for its reward) in (through the medium of) an image, a raised ground (levelled, squared and prepared for a sacrifice) or the sacred fire, the sun, water, (the cavity of) the heart or a Brahmana . Having cleansed his teeth (with the end of a small green twig crushed with the teeth and converted into a brush), he should first (of all) perform his ablutions for the purification of his body. The bath should be repeated with (the utterance of) both types of Mantras (Vedic as well as Tantric) after (first) daubing the (whole) body with clay (as well as with fresh cowdung, sacrificial ashes and so on) and going through other preliminaries (such as invoking the presence of the Ganga and other sacred waters, offering Arghya to them and seeking their permission for a bath). Undertaking a noble vow (of propitiating Myself), he should perform My worship, which wipes out (all) Karmas, side by side with (not neglecting) duties (of a binding nature) such as saying the Sandhya prayers, (that have been) enjoined by the Veda. An image has been declared to be of eight kinds according as it is carved out of (a block of) stone or wood, made of (molten) metal (such as brass or bronze), clay or sandal-paste etc., painted (on a wall etc.),made of sand or carved out of a precious stone or conceived by the mind. An image, which is a temple of the Lord, is (again) of two varieties, movable and immovable. (The ceremonies of) invoking the presence of or bidding farewell to a deity are not necessary in worship done through the medium of an immovable one, 0 Uddhava ! There is option in the matter of invocation etc., in the case of a movable image (other than a Salagrama stone, where no invocation etc., is needed); while both must be done in the worship through the medium of a raised ground (or through an image of sand). Only an image other than a painted one or that made of clay or sandal-paste etc., should be (invariably) bathed; in (all) other cases (mere) sprinkling all round with water is enough. My worship through images etc., should be done with excellent articles. In the case, however, of a devotee (who is) free from wiles (in the shape of a selfish motive) it may be conducted with articles that are (easily) available. In (the cavity of) the heart, of course, worship is offered with love alone.