Punyanumodana

Definition - What does Punyanumodana mean?

Punyanumodana is a Sanskrit term that means “rejoicing in merit.” It is one of the spiritual exercises that comprise anuttara puja , also known as “supreme worship” or “seven-fold worship.” Anuttara puja is a method of devotion developed by the seventh-century Indian master, Shantideva. It consists of seven spiritual exercises and is typically practiced in the Buddhist tradition.

Punyanumodana comes from the Sanskrit, punya, which is generally translated as “virtue” or “favorable” and refers to actions that elevate a person and have positive outcomes; and anumodana, which translates as “assent” or “acceptance.” Punyanumodana, therefore, is the spiritual exercise that honors one's own and others' positive qualities.

Yogapedia explains Punyanumodana

In punyanumodana, the rejoicing is not focused on worldly success or deeds, but in spiritual attainments. It is an uplifting of the devotee, particularly as it follows the spiritual exercise of papadesana, or confession. The goal of anuttara puja is bodhicitta, a mind dedicated to others and to attaining enlightenment. It is similar to the ultimate goal of yoga – enlightenment and unification with the yogi's highest nature.

The spiritual exercises of anuttara puja, in order, include:

  • Vandana (obeisance, bowing down) and puja (worship) – paying homage to the Buddha.
  • Sarana-gamana (going for refuge) – committing to the path to enlightenment by seeking “refuge” in the Buddha, dharma or spiritual community.
  • Papadesana (confession of sins) – appraisal of one's shortcomings and a resolve to overcome them.
  • Punyanumodana (rejoicing in merit) – honoring one's own and others' positive qualities.
  • Adhyesana (prayer, entreaty) and yacana (supplication) – requesting the assistance of those who are more enlightened.
  • Atmabhavadi-parityagah (surrender) – the declaration of altruism and self-denial.

While some sources separate yacana and adhyesana, others separate vandana and puja as distinct steps, in each case creating a seven-fold path of worship.

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