Prasada (to sit inclined toward someone) means “grace.” It derives theologically from VAISHNAVISM but is used in other contexts as well. In theistic Hinduism the grace of God can free one from the bonds of KARMA, the cycle of birth and rebirth. Also, grace can give one blessings in life.
   Grace can be conferred by visible means in a number of ways. Most commonly food or flow-ers will be offered to the divinity in a temple or shrine; once the deity has partaken of and blessed the offering, it is distributed to devotees and called prasada. Another very common way of receiving grace is from the arati lamp or PUJA lamp that is waved before the divinity. One can put one’s hands over the flame and then touch one’s head and/or face to receive the blessing of the divinity. Things given to a person by a guru or other religious per-sonage also can confer grace. In fact, any object placed before an icon in order to be blessed may be given prasada, or grace.
   Further reading: R. N. Dandekar, “God in Hindu Thought,” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 48–49 (1968), 433–625; Klaus Klostermaier, A Survey of Hinduism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994); Richard Lannoy, The Speaking Tree: A Study of Indian Culture and Society (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1971).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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