By Swami Harshananda
Pratinidhi literally means ‘one who represents another’.
In general, the word means a person who can act on behalf of someone else or as a substitute in the rite. The Purvamīmānsā system, while dealing with Vedic sacrifices, is very definite that a pratinidhi or substitute is not allowed with regard to the devatā, the five Vedic fires, the particular mantra to be chanted on a particular occasion, certain specially prescribed rites as also the svāmin.
The Atrismrti permits a person to perform Gaṅgāsnāna vicariously by requesting another who is actually going on a pilgrimage, in case he himself is unable to do so due to old-age, disease or any other valid reason. This second person has to do it by immersing a doll made of kuśa grass in the river with appropriate mantras. This doll then becomes a ‘pratinidhi’ of the first person who is unable to perform the pilgrimage.
- Devatā means the deity.
- Svāmin is the sacrificer.
- Atrismrti verses 50 and 51
- Gaṅgāsnāna means bath in the river Gaṅgā.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore