Approaching the Supreme Personality of Godhead
BY: SUN STAFF
ISKCON San Diego
Aug 2, CANADA (SUN)
Touching the Deity
Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9
In the Visnu-dharmottara there is a statement about touching the lotus feet of the Lord. It is said, "Only a person who is initiated as a Vaisnava and is executing devotional service in Krsna consciousness has the right to touch the body of the Deity."
In India there was agitation during Gandhi's political movement because the lowborn classes of men like street-sweepers and candalas are prohibited, according to the Vedic system, from entering the temple. Due to their unclean habits they are prohibited, but at the same time they are given other facilities so they may be elevated to the highest grade of devotional service by association with pure devotees. A man born in any family is not barred, but he must be cleansed. That cleansing process must be adopted. Gandhi wanted to make them clean simply by stamping them with a fictitious name, harijana ("children of God"), and so there was a great tug-of-war between the temple owners and Gandhi's followers.
But anyway, the present law is the law of all scripture--that if anyone is purified he can enter into the temple. Actually, that is the position. Only one who is properly initiated, who is properly following the rules and regulations, can enter, and touch the Deity--not all. And one who touches the body of the Deity, following such regulative principles, is immediately delivered from the contamination of material sins, and all of his desires become fulfilled without delay.
Seeing the Deity
In the Varaha Purana there is a statement praising the seeing of the Deity of Sri Krsna in the temple. A devotee says there, "My dear Vasundhara, any person who goes to Vrndavana and sees the Deity of Govindadeva is free from the courthouse of Yamaraja and is allowed to enter into the highest planetary system, in which reside the demigods." This means that even an ordinary person who goes to Vrndavana out of inquisitiveness and by chance sees the temple, especially that of Govindadeva, even if he is not elevated to the spiritual kingdom, is still assured promotion to the higher planetary systems. This means that simply by visiting the Deity of Govinda in Vrndavana one becomes highly elevated in pious life.
Observing Arati and Celebrations of the Lord
In the Skanda Purana there is the following description of the result of seeing arati (worship) of the Deity: "If someone sees the face of the Lord while arati is going on, he can be relieved of all sinful reactions coming from many, many thousands and millions of years past. He is even excused from the killing of a brahmana or similar prohibited activities.
As we have already explained, there are different ceremonies to be observed, such as the birthday of Krsna, the birthday of Lord Ramacandra, the birthday of some prominent Vaisnavas, the ceremony of Jhulana-yatra with the Lord sitting on a swing, and Dola-yatra (the Lord's activities in the month of March). In all festivals the Lord is seated on a car, and the car moves through different streets of the city so that people may take advantage of visiting the Lord. In the Bhavisya Purana it is said, "In such a ceremony, if even a candala [dog-eater], simply out of curiosity, sees the Lord on the cart, he becomes counted as one of the associates of Visnu."
In the Agni Purana it is stated, "Any person who in gladness sees the worship of the Deity in the temple will obtain the results of kriya-yoga which are described in the Pancaratra scripture." Kriya-yoga is a system of practice much like practical devotional service, but it is especially meant for the mystic yogis. In other words, by this gradual process the mystic yogis are eventually elevated to the devotional service of the Lord.
The Form of Krsna is the Most Beautiful
In Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24.45-46 is a super-excellent description of the glories of the Supreme Personality
"The Lord's beauty resembles a dark cloud during the rainy season. As the rainfall glistens, His bodily features also glisten. Indeed, He is the sum total of all beauty. The Lord has four arms and an exquisitely beautiful face with eyes like lotus petals, a beautiful highly raised nose, a mind-attracting smile, a beautiful forehead and equally beautiful and fully decorated ears."
Purport by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
"After the scorching heat of the summer season, it is very pleasing to see dark clouds in the sky. As confirmed in Brahma-samhita: barhavatamsam asitambuda-sundarangam. The Lord wears a peacock feather in His hair, and His bodily complexion is just like a blackish cloud. The word sundara, or snigdha, means "very pleasing." Kandarpa-koti-kamaniya. Krsna's beauty is so pleasing that not even millions upon millions of Cupids can compare to it. The Lord's form as Visnu is decorated in all opulence; therefore Lord Siva is trying to see that most opulent form of Narayana, or Visnu. Generally the worship of the Lord begins with the worship of Narayana, or Visnu, whereas the worship of Lord Krsna and Radha is most confidential. Lord Narayana is worshipable by the pancaratrika-vidhi, or regulative principles, whereas Lord Krsna is worshipable by the bhagavata-vidhi. No one can worship the Lord in the bhagavata-vidhi without going through the regulations of the pancaratrika-vidhi. Actually, neophyte devotees worship the Lord according to the pancaratrika-vidhi, or the regulative principles enjoined in the Narada-pancaratra. Radha-Krsna cannot be approached by the neophyte devotees; therefore temple worship according to regulative principles is offered to Laksmi-Narayana. Although there may be a Radha-Krsna vigraha, or form, the worship of the neophyte devotees is acceptable as Laksmi-Narayana worship. Worship according to the pancaratrika-vidhi is called vidhi-marga, and worship according to the bhagavata-vidhi principles is called raga-marga. The principles of raga-marga are especially meant for devotees who are elevated to the Vrndavana platform.
The inhabitants of Vrndavana--the gopis, mother Yasoda, Nanda Maharaja, the cowherd boys, the cows and everyone else--are actually on the raga-marga or bhagavata-marga platform. They participate in five basic rasas--dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, madhurya and santa. But although these five rasas are found in the bhagavata-marga, the bhagavata-marga is especially meant for vatsalya and madhurya, or paternal and conjugal relationships. Yet there is the vipralambha-sakhya, the higher fraternal worship of the Lord especially enjoyed by the cowherd boys. Although there is friendship between Krsna and the cowherd boys, this friendship is different from the aisvarya friendship between Krsna and Arjuna. When Arjuna saw the visva-rupa, the gigantic universal form of the Lord, he was afraid for having treated Krsna as an ordinary friend; therefore he begged Krsna's pardon. However, the cowherd boys who are friends of Krsna in Vrndavana sometimes ride on the shoulders of Krsna. They treat Krsna equally, just as they treat one another, and they are never afraid of Him, nor do they ever beg His pardon. Thus the raga-marga, or bhagavata-marga, friendship exists on a higher platform with Krsna, namely the platform of vipralambha friendship. Paternal friendship, paternal service and conjugal service are visible in the Vrndavana raga-marga relationships.
Without serving Krsna according to the vidhi-marga regulative principles of the pancaratrika-vidhi, unscrupulous persons want to jump immediately to the raga-marga principles. Such persons are called sahajiya. There are also demons who enjoy depicting Krsna and His pastimes with the gopis, taking advantage of Krsna by their licentious character. These demons who print books and write lyrics on the raga-marga principles are surely on the way to hell. Unfortunately, they lead others down with them. Devotees in Krsna consciousness should be very careful to avoid such demons. One should strictly follow the vidhi-marga regulative principles in the worship of Laksmi-Narayana, although the Lord is present in the temple as Radha-Krsna. Radha-Krsna includes Laksmi-Narayana; therefore when one worships the Lord according to the regulative principles, the Lord accepts the service in the role of Laksmi-Narayana. In The Nectar of Devotion full instructions are given about the vidhi-marga worship of Radha-Krsna, or Laksmi-Narayana. Although there are sixty-four kinds of offenses one can commit in vidhi-marga worship, in raga-marga worship there is no consideration of such offenses because the devotees on that platform are very much elevated, and there is no question of offense. But if we do not follow the regulative principles on the vidhi-marga platform and keep our eyes trained to spot offenses, we will not make progress.
In his description of Krsna's beauty, Lord Siva uses the words carvayata-catur-bahu sujata-rucirananam, indicating the beautiful four-armed form of Narayana, or Visnu. Those who worship Lord Krsna describe Him as sujata-rucirananam. In the visnu-tattva there are hundreds and thousands and millions of forms of the Supreme Lord, but of all these forms, the form of Krsna is the most beautiful. Thus for those who worship Krsna, the word sujata-rucirananam is used.
The four arms of Lord Visnu have different purposes. The hands holding a lotus flower and conchshell are meant for the devotees, whereas the other two hands, holding a disc and mace, or club, are meant for the demons. Actually all of the Lord's arms are auspicious, whether they are holding conchshells and flowers or clubs and discs. The demons killed by Lord Visnu's cakra disc and club are elevated to the spiritual world, just like the devotees who are protected by the hands holding the lotus flower and conchshell. However, the demons who are elevated to the spiritual world are situated in the impersonal Brahman effulgence, whereas the devotees are allowed to enter into the Vaikuntha planets. Those who are devotees of Lord Krsna are immediately elevated to the Goloka Vrndavana planet.
The Lord's beauty is compared to rainfall because when the rain falls in the rainy season, it becomes more and more pleasing to the people. After the scorching heat of the summer season, the people enjoy the rainy season very much. Indeed, they even come out of their doors in the villages and enjoy the rainfall directly. Thus the Lord's bodily features are compared to the clouds of the rainy season. The devotees enjoy the Lord's beauty because it is a collection of all kinds of beauties. Therefore the word sarva-saundarya-sangraham is used. No one can say that the body of the Lord is wanting in beautiful parts. It is completely purnam. Everything is complete: God's creation, God's beauty and God's bodily features. All these are so complete that all one's desires can become fully satisfied when one sees the beauty of the Lord. The word sarva-saundarya indicates that there are different types of beauties in the material and spiritual worlds and that the Lord contains all of them. Both materialists and spiritualists can enjoy the beauty of the Lord. Because the Supreme Lord attracts everyone, including demons and devotees, materialists and spiritualists, He is called Krsna. Similarly, His devotees also attract everyone. As mentioned in the Sad-gosvami-stotra: dhiradhira-jana-priyau--the Gosvamis are equally dear to the dhira (devotees) and adhira (demons). Lord Krsna was not very pleasing to the demons when He was present in Vrndavana, but the six Gosvamis were pleasing to the demons when they were present in Vrndavana. That is the beauty of the Lord's dealings with His devotees; sometimes the Lord gives more credit to His devotees than He takes for Himself. For instance, on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Lord Krsna fought simply by giving directions. Yet it was Arjuna who took the credit for fighting. Nimitta-matram bhava savyasacin: "You, O Savyasaci [Arjuna], can be but an instrument in the fight." (Bg. 11.33) Everything was arranged by the Lord, but the credit of victory was given to Arjuna. Similarly, in the Krsna consciousness movement, everything is happening according to the predictions of Lord Caitanya, but the credit goes to Lord Caitanya's sincere servants. Thus the Lord is described herein as sarva-saundarya-sangraham."
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.