aṅganyāsa

(‘placing on the limbs’)

Hindu ritualistic worship has evolved into a well-developed science. Before starting the worship of the deity, all articles used in the process are to be purified, not only physically but also ceremonially. Nyāsa is such an act in this process, and means the ‘placing’ of gods or holy words or letters on certain parts of the body. Aṅganyāsa is an aspect of this nyāsa. Also called ‘Ṣaḍaṅganyāsa’ (ṣaṭ = six, aṅga = limb), it involves the ceremonial purification and protection of hṛdaya (heart), śiras (head), śikhā (tuft), kavaca (armour, indicated by touching the shoulders with the hands crossed), netratraya (three eyes, including the middle of the eyebrows) and karatala (palm of the hand). The process is sometimes extended to more parts of the body like the feet, navel and so on.

See also KARANYĀSA and NYĀSA.