Snapanamu is an important service offered to God. It appears as if we are trying to clean the deity through this service. While it might be that the physical element of the deity is being cleaned during snapanamu, we need to remember that the God himself is the personification of purity. So, what is the intent of snapanmu?
The skin of our body needs a mechanism to maintain cleanliness. However, our indriyas cannot be cleaned with the same mechanism as that of the skin. Similarly, the athma (self) can be cleaned from impurities by another mechanism. This mechanism is what is being taught by Vedic scholars through events such as snapanamu, archana, etc. When we offer water, milk, flowers, kunkuma, tulasi etc. to Lord and then take them as prasadam, the impurities within us begin to take a backward turn. Anything that is offered to God and then reaches us has the power to clean impurities within us that we lack the strength to clean ourselves. Why can’t we clean them ourselves? Over the innumerable lives, we acquired a sense of ego and attachment forgetting the goal and true source of life. Thus, it is very difficult to even know that we are at fault, forget about ability to clean or remove the impurities!
It is for our benefit that we offer snapanamu to Lord and take the remnants as theerthamu. The theertham gives us the strength to clean ourselves of ego and bondage and realise the true nature of the self.
– From the discourses of Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami,
– 21st Oct, Thirunakshatra Mahotsavam, 2nd Day – Laksha Thulasi Pu:ja