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Karpoor Aarati-Common Questions-Basis of Rituals Part 1


Many of us follow rituals but do not understand the significance of the rituals. Often this lack of knowledge and blind adherence to rituals leads to distortion of the rituals where the letter of the scripture rather than the spirit of the scripture is followed . This lack of understanding also leads to outburts such as

” Does God need a temple to be present ,Is he not present everywhere and hence I will no longer visit a temple ”

” Does God specifically have a form and does he need to be worshipped in Idol form ”

The second question has been dealt with in detail in many debates over the centuries between the proponents of the Nirguna marga ( Formless god ) and Saguna marga ( God with form ) and is too huge to cover in one post. Also one will needs to understand a lot of underlying material before attempting that.  The first question is something that can be dealt with in parts.

Satellite transmission is present everywhere but dont you need an Antenna to enjoy your cable subscription.

Water flows everywhere but only after passing through the pipe does it reach your house.

Energy is present everywhere but only after underoing a thermal/fission/hydro electric conversion that you finally tap into that energy.

The day you reach Buddhahood and are capable of seeing god everywhere (Mind you …You should no longer show any difference between your own and others. Even in your enemy’s face you should be able to see the face of God. ) When you reach that exalted state you can visualize god as formless. This is why the Rishis formulated a system of scientific worship of the divine energy by collecting it in Ancient temples . This knowledge was well preserved for many centuries but now is being slowly lost.

This post is an attempt to explain the basis behind the rituals. Many a time blind reasons are invented as knee jerk reactions to repeated questioning. The reasoning also has to make sense when thought with a scientific mind.

In this series with the first post we look at  ” Why do we perform a Karpoor Aarati at the end of worship “.

Karpoor is Camphor better known as

Botanical name: Cinnamomum camphora
Family: Lauraceae
English name: Camphor tree
Hindi name: Kapur, Karpura

Camphor is derived from the leaves and stems of Cinnamonum Camphora tree where the oil is deposited as a thick waxy oily subtance . The leaves and stems of the plants are distilled and the extract forms Karpoor.The tree itself is evergeen by nature and survives in any season . Camphor has many healing properties and this article from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology studied the many uses of Camphor in Anti oxidative properties.

Uses of Camphor

Stimulates the circulatory and nervous system, Bitter and aromatic herb that combats inflammation and eases spasms and pain. Camphor is reported to enhance digestion and to kill internal parasites.

It has definite antiseptic, spasmolytic (in bronchial tubes), anti-irritant, carminative, circulatory, as well as analeptic properties. Although the smell stimulates the cold receptors in the mucus membranes, it does not have a direct decongestive effect.

If  you notice the various uses of Camphor it deals with clearing the respiratory tract and also skin and lung complaints.

Reasons why we do a Karpoor Arati at the end of the Ritual.

1.You would have noticed the various beneficial effects of Camphor by reading the above paragraph.So it helps clear the atmosphere around the Idol and does bring health benefits.

2.The health benefits are only a bonus. Notice the flame of Camphor and the way it burns. Camphor burns without leaving residue . In yoga we represent various faculties of the human body and mind with various substances. For example the Coconut is a representative of the human head and ego.By breaking the Coconut we symbolize our giving up of ego.

3.Same way the Camphor represents the various desires or tendencies of a human being.By burning the smokeless and residueless Camphor we are praying to the Divine lord to burn away these tendencies and lead us to the true light.

4.The garba griha or Sanctum Sanctorum where the Idol was placed usually used to be dark in ancient times. There would be the flickering of lamps of course nearby . The Karpoor arati if you notice is a movement of the plate containing the camphor around the deity. If this is done in a rythmic manner it would start with the feet and reach the head of the deity and never above the head. As the light of the Arati falls on the deity each limb of the deity would be illuminated.

In fact the proper way of Worship means worshipping the limbs of the deity as well.If you remember the long pujas done for any deity, there will be a sequence where the limbs are worshipped.

‘Netram Pujayami -I worship the eyes ”

“Padam Pujayami-I worship the feet”

And so on the sequence goes.

5.The arati is the culminating sequence in Puja and utilizes Agni the great purifier to symbolize the purification of our tendencies and surrender to god.

6. Agni is a great carrier of energy and there are three representative Agni’s in the human body. Agni always helps digest things .

Jathara Agni-Digestive fire symbolized by the digestive enzymes in the body-Helps digest food.

Jnana Agni-Present in the brain symbolized by the neurons-Helps digest things or learn things.

Netra Agni- Present as vision in both the eyes-Helps digest the visual input from the world.

Gita Chapter 15 Verse 14

aham vaisvanaro bhutva
praninam deham asritah
pacamy annam catur-vidham


aham–I; vaisvanarah–by My plenary portion as the digesting fire; bhutva–becoming; praninam–of all living entities; deham–body; asritah–situated; prana–outgoing air; apana–down-going air; samayuktah–keep balance; pacami–digest; annam–foodstuff; catuh-vidham–four kinds of.


I am the fire of digestion in every living body, and I am the air of life, outgoing and incoming, by which I digest the four kinds of foodstuff.

By the act of holding our hands to the Arati we are transferring the energy of the Idol through the medium of fire into the fire of our eyes. We cannot directly transfer the fire to either Jathara agni or Jnana agni.The next time you behold an arati being performed hopefully you will be reminded of the meaning behind this ritual.

True yoga is in making every step of our life a part of the divine.

May the Light of that Sat-Chid-Ananda -Brahma shine on all of us.

Cinnamonum Camphora-Karpoor

Agni the divine carrier of energy.Many salutations to you

Ganga Arati-Arati to goddess Ganga done everyday in Haridwar

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