When we visit a temple, after offering prayers, we circumambulate the sanctum sanctorum with folded hands often chanting prayers. This is called pradakshina प्रदक्षिणा.
Why do we do pradakshina?
We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. This is the significance of pradakshina.
Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the center. This means that wherever or whoever we may be, we are equally close to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality.
Why is pradakshina done only in a clockwise manner?
As we do pradakshina, the Lord is always on our right. In India the right side symbolizes auspiciousness. It is a telling fact that even in the English language it is called the ‘right’ side and not the wrong one! So as we circumambulate the mam/m random”; we remind ourselves to lead an auspicious life of righteousness, with the Lord who is the indispensable source of help and strength, as our guide ~the ‘right hand’ -the diagram aspect -of our lives. We thereby overcome our wrong tendencies and avoid repeating the sins of the past.
Indian scriptures enjoin – matru devo bhavo, pitru devo bhavo, acharya devo bhavo – ‘May you consider your mother, father and teachers as you would the Lord’. With this in mind we also do preemies/aim around our parents and divine personages. The story of Lord Ganesha beating his brother Lord Kartikeya in a race to circumambulate the world by going around his parents is a well-known one. Sacred mountains (giri pradakshina of Tiruvenamalai) and holy rivers (Narmada parikema) are also circumambulated.
After the completion of traditional worship (pooja), we customarily do pradakshina with folded hands around ourselves. In this way we recognize and remember the Supreme divinity within us, which alone is idolized in the form of the Lord that we worship outside.
As we circumambulate, We chant:
यानि कानि पापानि जन्मान्तरकृतानि च !
तानि तानि विनश्यन्ति प्रदक्षिणपदे पदे !!
Yaani kaani cha paap aani janmaantara kritaani cha,
Taani taani vinashyanti pradakshina pade pade.
All the sins committed by an individual from innumerable past births are destroyed by each step taken whilst doing pradakshina.
Swami Vimalananda, Radhika Krishnakumar: Chinamya Mission