What is the importance of the asana we sit upon when praying?
Amongst Hindus it is customary to sit cross-legged on the floor during a prayer or ceremony. People use an asana to sit upon. An asana can be a small square piece of mat or carpet, or even the skin of a deer, leopard or tiger. Kusha grass is considered particularly sacred and an asana made of this grass is often used. Those living in huts, as in the vast rural areas, are advised to keep the place of prayer clean by coating it with wet cow dung.
The use of animal skins was permissible when seers and sages lived in forests, and these skins were available. In modem times, the possession and use of such animal skins is prohibited under the Wildlife Protection Act. With more people becoming aware of the need for prayer, but unable to sit on the ground, they use a variety of things to sit comfortably during prayer.
Religious texts say there is great significance in sitting on an appropriate asana when offering prayers or performing a religious ceremony. The Brahmandpurana Tantrasaar says that when performing religious rituals, -sitting on the ground invites unhappiness, sitting on stone invites sickness, sitting on leaves promotes mental doubt, sitting on wood invites misfortune, sitting on grass invites unpopularity, sitting on cloth invites loss and sitting on bamboo invites laziness.
It is significant that without using an appropriate asana when performing a religious ceremony one does not achieve complete success. Religious texts emphasize this. It is believed that the use of black deerskin as' an asana helps gain knowledge successfully. By sitting on an asana made of kusha grass one benefits from chanting a variety of mantras. By sitting on a seat