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Sri Sri Radha-Krsna

"If one regularly sees the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the temple, one will gradually be disinfected of all material desires simply by visiting the temple and seeing the Deity. When one is freed from all the results of sinful activities, one will be purified, and with a healthy mind, completely cleansed, he will increasingly make progress in Krsna consciousness."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 6:16 Purport

"In the Naradiya Purana there is a statement about bowing down and offering respect to the Deity. It is said there, "A person who has performed a great ritualistic sacrifice and a person who has simply offered his respectful obeisances by bowing down before the Lord cannot be held as equals." The person who has executed many great sacrifices will attain the result of his pious activities, but when such results are finished, he has to take birth again on the earthly planet; however, the person who has once offered respects, bowing down before the Deity, will not come back to this world, because he will go directly to the abode of Krsna."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9

From the time the Deity's curtains are closed at the end of Mangala-arati until the conch is blown and the curtains open for Sringara-arati (or Darsana-arati), the pujari is engaged in offering elaborate worship to the Deities in private. During the sringara (dressing and decoration) period, Their Lordships are bathed and dressed in new outfits and jewelry for the day. They are offered fresh garlands and a mirror so they may view themselves.

Depending on the number of Deity personalities in residence at the temple, there may be two or more pujaris engaged in Deity worship. Before opening the curtains, the pujari clears away paraphernalia, sweeps the floor around the altar, and lights ghee lamps.

When the curtain opens, the Deities very kindly give darsana (audience) to the assembled devotees. Sringara-arati is an incomprehensible opportunity given by the Deities to the congregation, who may offer worship, prayers, and gifts that are presented by the pujari.

"Any devotee coming into the temple should always offer something to the Deity--fruit, flowers, incense, etc. If one cannot offer anything in cash, something else must be offered. In India the system is that all the ladies and gentlemen who come in the morning to visit the temple bring so many things. Even one morsel of rice or one morsel of flour can be offered. It is a regulative principle that one should not go to see a saintly person or the Deity in the temple without any offering. The offering may be very humble, or it may be priceless. Even a flower, a little fruit, a little water--whatever is possible--must be offered. So when a devotee comes to offer something to the Deity in the morning, he is sure to smell the good flavor of the incense, and then at once he will become cleansed of the poisonous effect of material existence."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9

The pujari will offer dhupa (incense) arati to the Deities with incense, flowers camara and fan (in warm weather). A camphor lamp may also be offered. While the Deities give their audience, it is traditional in ISKCON temples to play a recording of the Govindam prayers from Brahma-samhita in place of the Sri Gurv-astam. One notable version is that sung by Yamuna devi. Srila Prabhupada enjoyed her singing very much, and asked to have this version played in the temples. (See link below)

During the Govindam prayers, the devotees pay their full prostrated obeisances before the Deities. In the larger temples, the devotees move as a group from one altar to another to pay obeisances, typically moving from left to right around the temple. A senior devotee leads, moving from altar to altar. In front of each alter, he takes darsana of the Deities then pays obeisances. The other devotees follow, forming a straight line and one by one, pay their obeisances. In the case of a main altar in the front of the temple, the person leading stands closest to the altar, with the devotees behind. He pays his obeisaances, and in a 'wave', all the devotees follow with their obeisances.

"In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya there is a statement about the incense which is offered in the temple: "When the devotees smell the good flavor of the incense which is offered to the Deity, they thus become cured of the poisonous effects of material contamination, as much as one becomes cured of a snakebite by smelling the prescribed medicinal herbs." The explanation of this verse is that there is an herb found in the jungles which expert persons know how to use to revive the consciousness of one who is bitten by a snake. Simply by smelling that herb one becomes immediately relieved of the poisonous effects of the snakebite. The same example is applicable: when a person comes to visit the temple and smells the incense offered to the Deity, he is cured at that time from all his material contamination."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9

When the Govindam song is over, kirtana begins. The same kirtana songs are sung as for Mangala-arati, but Sri Gurv-astakam is replaced with Sri Nama-kirtana (yasomati-nandana). If possible, the devotees should circumambulate the Deities three times along with the kirtana. Otherwise, kirtana is performed enthusiastically before the Deities. Traditionally, during kirtana the devotees would leave a path open so as not to block Srila Prabhupada's view of the Deities. Generally the women were to one side and the men on the other side. This very nice arrangement allows the devotees to move sideways, glancing back and forth between the Deities and Srila Prabhupada. Unfortunately, this practice has been changed in many temples, who now have the men in front and the women in back while Srila Prabhupada's view of the Deities is obstructed.

"In the Dvaraka-mahatmya the importance of dancing before the Deity is stated by Lord Krsna as follows: "A person who is in a jubilant spirit, who feels profound devotional ecstasy while dancing before Me, and who manifests different features of bodily expression can burn away all the accumulated sinful reactions he has stocked up for many, many thousands of years." In the same book there is a statement by Narada wherein he asserts, "From the body of any person who claps and dances before the Deity, showing manifestations of ecstasy, all the birds of sinful activities fly away upward." Just as by clapping the hands one can cause many birds to fly away, similarly the birds of all sinful activities which are sitting on the body can be made to fly away simply by dancing and clapping before the Deity of Krsna."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9

After the arati, the pujari or an assistant should distribute caranamrta to the devotees. The following verse may be chanted while drinking and placing the caranamrta on one's head:

sri-radha-krsna-padodakam prema-bhakti-dam muda
bhakti-bharena vai pitva sirasa dharayamy aham

"The water from the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna bestows pure loving devotion to Them. Having drunk that water with great joy and devotion, I hold that water upon my head."

"Caranamrta is obtained in the morning while the Lord is being washed before dressing. Scented with perfumes and flowers, the water comes gliding down through His lotus feet and is collected and mixed with yogurt. In this way this caranamrta not only becomes very tastefully flavored, but also has tremendous spiritual value. As described in the Padma Purana, even a person who has never been able to give in charity, who has never been able to perform a great sacrifice, who has never been able to study the Vedas, who has never been able to worship the Lord--or, in other words, even one who has never done any pious activities--will become eligible to enter into the kingdom of God if he simply drinks the caranamrta which is kept in the temple. In the temple it is the custom that the caranamrta be kept in a big pot. The devotees who come to visit and offer respects to the Deity take three drops of caranamrta very submissively and feel themselves happy in transcendental bliss."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9

Prasadam should be distributed to everyone who comes to see the Deities. The pujari may also distribute prasada garlands, flowers, candana and scents. In many temples, maha-prasadam (often breakfast sweets) is placed on a tray to the right of the altar (as you're facing it). Before taking carnamrta and prasada, purify your hand three times with water spooned from the pancha-patra.

The Deities will remain open for the morning, closing just before Raj-bhoga-arati.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Govindam Prayer

Sri Nama-kirtana