Adhyesana

Definition - What does Adhyesana mean?

Adhyesana is a Sanskrit term that means “solicitation” or “request.” 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.

Adhyesana is a plea or a prayer to someone of higher status seeking instruction. In the context of Buddhism, adhyesana indicates that the petitioner is receptive to the teachings of the Buddha. Adhyesana is sometimes considered synonymous with yacana (supplication), although some sources list them as separate exercises in the supreme worship.

Yogapedia explains Adhyesana

In adhyesana, the devotee requests the assistance of those who are more enlightened. When paired with yacana, it is the penultimate step of the anuttara puja. The goal 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 include:

  • Vandana (obeisance, bowing down) and puja (worship) – paying homage to the Buddha. Some sources list these as separate steps.
  • 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).
  • 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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