The idea of a Puja Room is a powerful one.
Spirituality is more about ‘experience’ than ‘understanding’. Ancient Indians have invented many instruments to help us experience the divineness in us. One such instrument is the Puja Room.
The first whiff of a divine experience can brush us only when we go beyond the materialistic mundanity of daily life. A Puja Room can do wonders to reduce the incessant flow of mundane thoughts into our minds through the five gates called senses. It does not exactly shut out all senses from the mind but presents the mind with a relaxing ambience by engaging each sense with a not-so-mundane thing.
The eyes are the most abused of all sense organs. In a Puja Room, all the eyes see are pictures of Gods, and the offerings to the Gods in forms like flowers, lamps and incense smoke that calm down the mind by reducing the visual data it needs to chew on. A dark room or the eyelids may not be sufficient for this purpose because they offer great scope for visual imagination that demands processing, that is equally stressful as real signals.
Sounds that produce every perceivable emotion and more are routinely generated in our society that make it hard work for the ears. Silence can be good, but the omni directional ability of the ears to grab noise is quite a challenge. Chanting mantras is often the first things spiritual that a child is taught to do in Indian homes. It relaxes the mind by making the ears stick to what the tongue produces, not realizing that the producer and consumer are one. That the knowledge and the knower are one is a more serious subject though.
The nose is happy with the incense and the flowers. These are sufficient to block the aromas from the kitchen that it excessively relishes. The tongue is anyway busy with keeping the ears busy. Wonderful-tasting Prasadam in small quantities does help though. The skin often plays to the tunes of the other senses. The others being quite calm, all it needs to keep it relaxed is a set of loose comfortable clothes and a sitting mat.
A Puja Room does not give instant self-realization, but does create a wonderful ambiance for those who seek a spiritual journey without going to the forest.