Puja Meaning in English

The Sanskrit word for “offering” is “puja” meaning “to please.” A puja is a traditional ritual of healing and purification.

More specifically, a fire puja is a Buddhist ceremony cleanses the environment and beings, grants blessings, and stimulates world peace. It generates immense merits of wisdom and merits of compassion. The overall intention of the offering is to dissolve obstacles to enlightenment by eliminating imperfections left by harmful actions — specifically broken vows, precepts, pledges, and promises. It supports the prevention of all negative conditions. For the deceased, it is an ideal means to purify negative karma and receive a higher rebirth.

Fire Puja Ceremony

Fire puja ceremonies are ritual offerings of smoke (sang), smell (sur) and flaming (jinsek) offered to four guests:

  1. To all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout the ten directions and the three times (past, present and future), as well as to the Tantric deities.
  2. To the Dharma protectors and the wisdom Dakinis.
  3. To all conscious beings, including local worldly deities and significant elemental worldly spirits.
  4. To hungry ghosts and to beings with whom one is karmically obligated.

In the sang – one is offering the smoke, in the sur one offers the smell or scent. In the jinsek one offers fire itself, flame itself, and burning itself. If one is making the sang and sur offerings, regularity is vital, as the guests for whom the offerings are made come to anticipate in ceremony. 

However, if one is unable to perform the practice daily or even weekly, one should not be discouraged from making the offering as frequently as one is capable. Furthermore, one can make donations to the lamas at the monasteries or temples, to complete the practices on behalf of oneself or others.

Smoke offerings (Sang) 

“Sang” is largely devoted to elemental spirits that include the deities of the mountain sky, river, and the gods of all aspects – and local deities. In addition to these guests, we also offer to the above-mentioned guests.

Smell or scent offering (Sur)

“Sur” is primarily dedicated to the invisible beings and spirits that include the hungry ghosts that one is karmically indebted to.

Fire offering (Jinsek)

Fire offering is a ritual of offering into the fire to complete a conscious action quickly and effectively. The secret Vajrayana teachings include the practice of jinsek.

Jinseks

There are four jinseks of fire pujas and each jinsek is performed by a different lama and corresponds with specific colors, directions, times of day and energies.

  1. Pacifying (Zhiway Jinsek in the morning)
  2. Wrathful (Drakpo Jinsek in the evening)
  3. Magnetizing (Wang-gi Jinsek in the afternoon)
  4. Enriching (Gyaybay Jinsek in the morning)

Puja Offerings

There are numerous substances offered during fire pujas, and each offering has a precise intention.

Below they are explained in the sequence in which they are offered:

  • Melted butter to expand lifespan, merit, and prosperity.
  • Kusha and couch grass to strengthen the radiance of Medicine Buddha.
  • Sticks (in pairs) to dissolve obstacles to one’s welfare and high prestige.
  • Sesame seeds to eliminate non-virtues.
  • Couch grass to lengthen lifespan.
  • Rice to extend merit.
  • Rice with curd to increase happiness.
  • Kusha grass for shielding from impurities.
  • Mustard seeds to remove obstructions.
  • Coarse un-husked barley to develop wealth.
  • Barley to accomplish rapidly.
  • Lentils to build strength.
  • Wheat to resolve illness.
  • The various mixed or distinct substances develop wisdom.

Typically, the burning pujas are offered at the end of a retreat, at three-year retreats, or short retreats of the enlightened being deities.