Friday, May 23, 2014

Chandan enhances the beauty of the beautiful Lord

When we like and love a person then we are ready to do anything to please him/her. No difficulties ever deter us or decrease our desire to serve him. For e.g. a mother is ready to do everything to please her child. She tirelessly takes care of her baby without any complaint. She enjoys every moment she spends with her child and shudder at the thought of separation. A devotee is similarly eager to serve God. A devotee is a mortal being who gives his life and heart completely to God. He thinks nothing but only about Lord, he does nothing which does not please Lord and he does everything to make sure that God is always happy, has all the comforts.

Devotees also keep on exploring opportunities to serve Lord. And the month of May/June (Vaisakha/Jyestha) provide one such opportunity. The period of the year is hottest in India. As the temperature reaches to its peak, the heat becomes unbearable. Devotees become very concerned about the Lord’s comfort. So, they decide to apply chandan (sandalwood paste) to Lord. Sandalwood paste has a cooling effect and it also smells nice. The paste is continuously applied to the Lord for 21 days and it is celebrated as Chandan Yatra. Chandan is applied very artistically and not clumsily. It enhances the beauty of the beautiful Lord. Chandan is applied on the entire body including face, hands, legs and torso of Lord Krishna, Lord Jagannath and Lord Baladeva. The creamy paste is also put on Srimati RadhaRani and Subhdra Devi’s face especially on forehead.

Many devotees – resident brahmacharis & householders – participate in preparing sandalwood paste for the Lord. Batan (Sil – Batta) is used to prepare the paste. The sandalwood is rubbed against the batan with some water.  The batan is kept in the temple hall and anyone irrespective of caste, creed, race, sex, colour, nationality can participate in this service of preparing sandalwood paste. The beauty of devotional life is that every individual tries to serve the Lord and simultaneously also want to engage others in serving the Lord. The only requirement is that one should have love for Krishna.

With Chandan on his face, Lord Krishna & Lord Jagannath looks stunning. During Chandan Yatra every lover of Krishna compulsorily comes to see the Lord. They also enthusiastically participate in preparing sandalwood paste with their own hands; the paste is later applied to the Lord.  
For more pictures, please visit ISKCON KOLKATA [Official] Facebook page.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Krishna is ready to send a flying chariot for us!

In spite of many challenging circumstances, Saint Tukaram never lost hope and continued practicing devotional life with full enthusiasm. He always had tremendous faith in the mercy of the Lord and spent each and every moment of his life in chanting the holy names of the Lord and in glorifying His innumerable transcendental qualities. He never nurtured any material desire and never got attracted to name, fame and money. When Shivaji, the great Maratha king, tried to entice him by sending gold, emeralds, diamonds and many other valuable gifts then Tukaram flatly refused. Since his heart was attracted to the lotus feet of the beautiful Lord so the beautiful things of this material world which attracts the lesser mortals like us appeared ugly to him. Shivaji understood the purity of this great saint and bowed at his feet. It is said that we are where our mind is. Tukaram’s mind was always preoccupied with the name of Krishna; he always meditated on the attractive form and unforgettable pastimes of the Lord. Although he lived in this world but he was not of this world.

He was so dear to the Lord that Lord personally took the responsibility of bringing him back to the spiritual abode. A gorgeous chariot directly descended from the Vaikunta to take him back. Tukaram was ready for it but while going back to his original home, he also asked his wife to accompany him. But sadly she refused to the utter shock of all. He requested her again and again but she felt that she will be happier in this world with her children, in her home and in this material world. She forgot that everything in this world is temporary and one day she will be forced to leave all. She had a great opportunity to reunite with her spiritual family but she let it go. Tukaram being a pure devotee of the Lord knew that all the material attachments which bind a person in this world are useless. An intelligent person willingly renounces everything and takes shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord which is the only source of permanent happiness.

Tukaram happily boarded the chariot and bid good bye to all. He waved to all, thanked all and singing the holy names of the Lord returned to the spiritual world. Krishna is very eager to take us back and is ever ready to send a chariot for us too.  But are we ready to go back to the Lord’s abode?  

Monday, May 19, 2014

When his factory caught fire.....

Nothing happens by chance. In whatever situation we are in currently can be attributed to our past karmas or it can also be Krishna’s special arrangement to bring us closer to him. We don’t know the fact. However one thing which every serious and sincere student of Bhakti yoga should do is to utilize all the available opportunity to purify one’s consciousness and take steady steps towards Krishna.

When we are confronted with adversity then we should not just over endeavour to better our material life. Instead we should think differently especially spiritually. When Srila Prabhupada’s factory caught fire and got burned then he seriously contemplated behind the reason for such a disaster. Being a pure devotee of the Lord, he clearly understood that it is Krishna’s calling. Krishna wants him to completely dedicate his life to him. He then took a bold and strong decision to renounce the material world and got totally involved into practicing and preaching Krishna Consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada has set an exemplary example for all of us. We need to look at any material problem with a spiritual prism. In this world there is no end to material sufferings and if we continue being caught up in this vicious cycle then we would remain bereft of spiritual pleasure. Life is very precious so we need to be extremely cautious about the decision which we take. Our actions and endeavours will either confine us to this material world or it will take us back to the spiritual world. Choice is ours!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Material attachment will prolong our suffering

Gradually we need to give up attraction for this material world and get attracted to the spiritual world. Then only there would be any possibility of returning back to the spiritual world, our original home.  In this age of Kaliyuga, the present age in which we are living, the process to go back to Godhead has been simplified. Chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra with sincerity and following the four regulative principles of no meat eating, no gambling, no intoxication and no illicit sex will qualify us to again gain the citizenship of Krishna’s abode.

But this would fructify only if we also nurture intense longing to go back there. Many a times our desire is to improve our material life through devotional activities. Our chanting becomes mechanical and we start expecting Krishna to help us in fulfilling our material desires.  We again get caught up in the vicious cycle of name, fame and money.  Material attachment keeps us back in this material world and our suffering prolongs.

So while practicing devotion we need to be very cautious and careful. We should regularly monitor ourselves especially our desires.  We should analyze if our desires are material or spiritual. The moment we find that our yearning is not for Krishna but something else then we should immediately take corrective measures and should steer ourselves again towards the path which will take us towards Krishna.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Chanting in the morning hours

The cool rays of the sun, the excitement of the birds and the playful wind makes morning hours very soothing, comforting and relaxing.  Scriptures explain that morning is in the mode of goodness, afternoon is in the mode of passion and evening is in the mode of ignorance.  And the scriptures further say that morning is the best time to practice devotional life. During this time there are very less external distractions and the mind is calm and relaxed. So, one can peacefully and attentively chant the holy names of the Lord. It is true that one can chant the holy name of the Lord at any time in the day and if done with sincerity it would always have the same benefit.  But since almost all of us are sadhana bhaktas (practitioners) and not siddha bhaktas (realized souls) so we are required to practice our devotional life in a way wherein we can completely focus our mind on chanting. And the serene atmosphere of the morning hours helps in being more focussed during chanting which then effectively purifies our minds and senses of all impurities and takes us towards Krishna.  This is why Srila Prabhupada made morning devotional programs compulsory in all the Iskcon temples of the world.

So let us plan our life, our day in a way so that we have sufficient time to chant the Hare Krishna mantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare - early in the morning. Glories of chanting are expounded in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila 8.28), “As a result of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, one makes such great advancement in spiritual life that simultaneously his material existence terminates and he receives love of Godhead. The holy name of Krishna is so powerful that by chanting even one name, one very easily achieves these transcendental riches.”

Friday, May 9, 2014

A genuine devotee always works for Krishna

A genuine devotee of Krishna is always active and never lethargic. He understands the value of life and the importance of time. He makes sure that even a single moment of his life is not wasted. Just see the life of Arjuna, he fought wholeheartedly with the Kauravas to establish religiosity. Hanuman and the monkey warriors enthusiastically worked to construct the Ram – Setu bridge. They were constantly and continuously assisting Lord Rama in his war against the demon Ravana. Devotional life doesn’t mean inaction; it actually means doing things as per Krishna’s instructions.

Krishna explicitly advises in Gita that a devotee needs to be hard working. In Gita 6.1 Krishna says that a person who does his prescribed duties as required is actually in the renounced order of life and not the one who doesn’t do any work. And our work should not be whimsical. We should perform only those activities which satisfy the Lord because Krishna has said that work done as sacrifice to Vishnu should only be performed (Bhagavad Gita 3.9). So, a devotee of Krishna always tries his best to be productive at each and every moment of his life and he works in such a way which pleases Krishna and brings him closer to Krishna.

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.” B.G. 6.1