Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai
Following is a detailed description of the procedure for home worship of Gaura-Nitai Deities. This process may also be followed in offering worship to other Deity forms, or to the Pancha Tattva picture.
Waking the Deities
- After bathing, dressing, applying tilaka, and performing acamana, offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master.
- While ringing a bell, call out jaya sri-sri-gaura-nitai! and turn on the altar lights.
- Ringing a bell, touch the lotus feet of the Spiritual Master (picture or murti) and ask him to rise from bed; then touch the lotus feet of Gaura-Nitai and ask Them to rise from bed. (If the Deities are not put physically in beds, visualize that They have rested in bed and are now rising from it.)
- Offer, or meditate on offering, water for Their Lordships to sip (acamana). If possible, offer them sweets.
- On a plate reserved for the Lord's use, nicely arrange the bhoja preparations. Perform acamana and offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master (Srila Prabhupada or your initiating guru). Set the offering plate in front of the Deities, either directly on the altar or on a table before the altar. Arrange for the Lord to eat in private, perhaps by putting up a curtain before the altar.
- With your with hand purify the bhoga by sprinkling it lightly with water from a pancha-patra while chanting the maha-mantra.
- Sitting on an asana before the altar and ringing a bell, recite three times the pranama prayers to the Spiritual Master, begging permission to assist him in his service to the Lord:
nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate Bhaktivedanta Swami iti namine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Srila Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krsna, having taken shelter of His Lotus feet.
Chant the following prayer to Lord Caitanya three times, requesting His mercy:
namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
Chant the following prayer three times, offering respect to Lord Krsna:
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah
O most munificent incarnation! You are Krsna Himself appearing as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krsna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.
namo brahmanya-devaya-go-brahmana-hitaya ca
jagad-dhitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah
I offer my obeisances again and again to Lord Krsna, who is always worshipped by qualified brahmanas and is very dear to them. He is always concerned with the welfare of the cows, the brahmanas, and the whole universe, and He gives pleasure to the cows, land and senses.
- Leave the room for ten minutes, allowing the Lord and his associates (including the Spiritual Master and the previous Acaryas) to eat. During this time, if initiated, chant the Gayatri mantras for the Spiritual Master and for Lord Caitanya (the third and fifth guru-given mantras); then chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and other Vaisnava songs.
- Re-enter the room, clapping your hands three times. Remove the plate, praying that you have served the Lord and His associates to Their full satisfaction.
While it is not expected that home worship be strictly punctual, as in the temple, it is best to keep as regular a schedule as possible. Whatever food one prepares for oneself and others must be offered to the Deities, so the number of offerings may vary; however, one should have a set number of offerings in the day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for example) to which the family cooking schedule is oriented.
You should worship the Deities with arati and kirtana at least once a day, and preferably twice, in the morning and evening. If possible, also offer dhupa-arati after the midday bhoga offering.
Morning Worship (Bathing and Dressing)
One of the simplest ways to worship the Lord is to offer each item mentally while presenting a spoonful of water from a panca-patra and then discard the water into a throw-out pot. You may do this without mantras, simply by requesting the Lord to accept each item. Perform this worship in the morning.
If you cannot physically bathe the Deities every day, you should do so regularly, at least once every two weeks (perhaps on Ekadasi), especially if they are metal Deities who need to be polished. At that time it is best to worship Them using actual paraphernalia, to dress Them and to offer Them flowers, etc.
The basic procedures for Gaura-Nitai worship is as follows:
- Gather all the required paraphernalia and arrange it neatly and conveniently for performing the worship. Make sure you have everything you need so you won't have to interrupt the worship to get missing items.
- Sit on an asana and perform acamana; then lightly sprinkle yourself, the area, and the paraphernalia with water from the panca-patra, chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
- Offer worship to the Spiritual Master as follows: ringing a bell with your left hand, offering flowers dipped in sandalwood paste at his lotus feet. Beg for his blessings to perform the worship of Gaura-Nitai. Then chant the Gayatri mantras silently.
- Offer worship to Gaura-Nitai as follows:
Services in the Course of the Day
You may offer breakfast, lunch, and the evening meal in the same manner as described above. After lunch (followed by a dhupa-arati if possible), the Deities should be put to rest, at least by meditation, and They should be closed from view in the afternoon. As in all cases, if Deities are in a public living space, make sure they are curtained when not being attended, and offered proper respect when the curtain is open.
Putting the Deities to Rest at Night
- Offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master and perform acamana.
- change the Deities' dress to nightclothes, or at least remove Their ornaments and garlands.
- Arrange the Deities' beds and invite Their Lordships to take rest. Lay Them down in Their beds and visualize that you are massaging Their legs.
- Finally, offer obeisances and turn off the lights.
Adapted from Pancaratra Pradipa, Volume 1
ISKCON GBC Press.