It’s an ignorant act to do an unconscious walk around an idol, chanting randomly. But when we truly delve deep into the meaning of Pradakshina, it truly surprises us! When we visit the temples built by our ancients, not the recent ones, you’ll know the essence of pradakshina. For instance, the temple of Konark has exuberant carvings and embedded knowledge that no one can ignore. So while doing the circumambience around the temple, which actually meant to behold and contemplate all the knowledge and affirm it thrice.
But in recent times, many dogmatic religious leaders are making it a fashion statement that they kept on increasing the number of pradakshinas as high as 108 and more. So people are ending up counting the number of circles they’re making (Hoping when they’ll reach the target), instead of focusing on the real motto. Nothing happens to them but they only get tired! But what about a focussed Pradakshina? Pradakshina = Para + Dakshina which means ‘turn inward!’
The recent studies of neuroscience that a focussed walk can cause the hippocampus in the brain to produce new neurons and new neural connections. So, our ancients were so advanced that they wanted to use these focused moments of the walking beholders to fill them up with knowledge. Everyone is divine, whether they know it or not. So, when people can be focused, their mode of learning turns on. So they embedded great knowledge in the form of affirmations while doing pradakshina or looking at knowledgeable carvings with intent. In other words, it doesn’t matter how many circles they do greater than three, what matters is that they’re aware during the pradakshina or not!
-Viswanath Venkat Dasari