Category Archives: Discover Spirituality

Why do Hindus worship idols/Deities? | Gaudiya Vaishnavism

#1 Does deity worship degrade and confine the Supreme Lord to a small material form? In that case is it not a sin to worship an idol (But-Parasti) of the Supreme Lord ?

In Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism), ‘deity worship’ is the practice of worshiping the eternal, completely spiritual, and fully conscious form of Bhagavan (Supreme Lord). Therefore deity worship of the Supreme Lord, as practiced in Sanatan Dharma, is not a kind of material idol worship. Furthermore, the worship also depends upon the intensity of faith and devotion of the worshiper. The more one is aloof from material contamination, the purer and more transcendental his deity worship shall become. The worshiper’s fondness towards material sense enjoyment reflects in his/her standards of worship and meditation. Hence only those qualified people who have won over the illusory influence of matter, are transcendentally situated, and are capable of conceptualizing the pure spiritual form of the Lord should engage in deity worship. Sanatan Dharma upholds the worship of pure and transcendental deity form of the Supreme Lord.

worship idol deity

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6 facts on Parabrahman (Para-Brahman) -The Absolute Truth

“That Brahman is in front and in back, in the north, south, east, and west, and also overhead and below. In other words, that supreme Brahman (Parabrahman or Para brahman) effulgence spreads throughout both the material and spiritual skies.”
(Mundaka Upanishad 2.1.1)

para brahman

God, who is the personification of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, is perceived in three of His aspects-  Brahman (residing everywhere), Antaryami (residing within as the Supersoul), and Bhagavan (the Supreme Person who lives beyond this material world and possesses six kinds of opulence in full – strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty and renunciation). Just as sunshine is non-different from the sun, similarly, the effulgence of the Supreme Lord constitutes the all-pervading Para Brahman and is non-different from Him. The first aphorism of Vedanta-sutra states ‘Athato brahma jijnasa’ – ‘Now one should inquire about Brahman – The absolute truth, the transcendental, spiritual nature’. Let us recognize and glorify the Supreme qualities of the all-pervading Parabrahman. “Brahman shines as an ever existing, all knowing, all blissful, Infinite being”.

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Discover Lord Nityananda’s Date of Birth | Nityananda Trayodashi special

nitai gaura nityananda trayodashi

In this article, we intend to ascertain the exact year of Lord Nityananda’s birth. Lord Nityananda was none other than Lord Balarama who had appeared to assist Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (who was Krishna Himself) in manifesting His magnanimous sankirtana pastimes. Though it has been well established that Lord Nityananda had appeared in the village of Ekachakra situated in the Birbhum district of West Bengal and that He was born on a trayodashi (thirteenth day of the Lunar fortnight), yet the exact date or even the year of His birth remains unconfirmed till this day. After examining the subject in detail, we have narrowed it down to two possible outcomes based upon the information contained in bonafide texts. If one goes by the valuable information presented in Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata and Bhakti Ratnakara, Lord Nityananda’s year of birth is ascertained to be 1478 AD (or the year 1399 of Saka era). On the other hand, the information provided in ancient texts like Advaita Prakash and books by some other authors infers that Lord Nityananda was born in 1474 AD ( year 1395 of the Saka era). We shall address both of these scenarios below in detail.

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5 facts about devi Durga (Mahamaya) | Gaudiya Vaishnavism

maa durga mahamaya

#1 Do Vaishnavas worship goddess Durga ?

Many people believe that Vaishnavas do not worship or acknowledge Maa Durga (Mahamaya shakti), but this is a completely mistaken notion. It is true however that how the dry philosophers and the impersonalists worship Mahamaya devi is contrary to how the Vaishnavas do the same. The Vaishnavas hold that devi Durga is a devotee of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. It is recorded in scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam, Vishnu Purana, etc how on being instructed by the Supreme Lord, she appeared from the womb of mother Yashoda who was imprisoned by Kamsa and apprised Kamsa of his imminent death at the hands of Gokulananda Krishna. Kali, Durga, Chandi, Annapurna, Katyayani, etc are different names by which Mahamaya devi is often called upon. She is responsible for executing the will of the Supreme Lord and is deemed worshipable by the Vaishnavas.

mayadhyaksena prakritih
suyate sa-characaram
hetunanena kaunteya
jagad viparivartate
(Bhagavad Gita 9.10)

O son of Kunti, this material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My command thereby producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule, this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.

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10 essential Teachings, Summary and Slokas from Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita appears as an episode of Mahabharata, the great Sanskrit epic portraying the history of the ancient world. Bhagavad Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to Arjuna about 5000 years ago at the onset of the great war of Kurukshetra and their discussion is considered to be one of the most celebrated philosophical and religious dialogues known to man. The following article presents the summary and the ten essential teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Relevant Slokas from the Bhagavad Gita have been cited below to help explain each of these ten principles.

bhagavad gita teachings slokas summary

#1 Proof that Krishna is the Supreme Lord | Determining one’s own duty

pitaham asya jagato
mata dhata pitamahah
vedyam pavitram omkara
rk sama yajur eva ca
(Bhagavad Gita 9.17)

I (Krishna) am the father of this world, the mother, the support, and the grandfather. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier, and the syllable om. I am also the Rig, Sama, and the Yajur Vedas.

 

tasmac chastram pramanam te
karyakarya-vyavasthitau
jnatva sastra-vidhanoktam
karma kartum iharhasi
(Bhagavad Gita 16.24)

One should know what is duty and what is not duty from the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated.

#2 Krishna Tattva – The truth about Krishna

mattah parataram nanyat
kinchid asti dhananjaya
mayi sarvam idam protam
sutre mani gana iva
(Bhagavad Gita 7.7)

O conqueror of wealth (Arjuna), there is no Truth superior to Me (Krishna). Everything rests on Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.

bhagavad gita teachings slokas summary

#3 Krishna Shakti – Krishna’s opulence and His various energies

bhumir apo ‘nalo vayuh
kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankar itiyam me
bhhinna prakritir astadha
(Bhagavad Gita 7.4)

Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego – together these eight comprise My separate material energies.

 

apareyam itas tv anyam
prakritim viddhi me param
jiva bhutam mahabaho
yayedam dharyate jagat
(Bhagavad Gita – 7.5)

O mighty-armed Arjuna, besides these there is a superior energy of Mine, which encompasses all living entities (jiva) that are exploiting the resources of the inferior material nature.

etad-yonini bhutani
sarvanity upadharaya
aham kritsnasya jagatah
prabhavah pralayas tatha
(Bhagavad Gita 7.6)

Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its source and dissolution.

#4 Non-devotees and the Impersonalists are deluded by Krishna

avyaktam vyaktim apannam
manyante mam abuddhayah
param bhavaam ajananto
mamavyayam anuttamam
(Bhagavad Gita 7.24)

Unintelligent men, who do not understand Me perfectly, believe that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Krishna), was formless before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know of My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme.

 

avajananti mam mudha
manusim tanum ashritam
param bhavam ajananto
mama bhuta maheshvaram
(Bhagavad Gita 9.11)

Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature, and My supreme Lordship over all that be.

bhagavad gita teachings slokas summary

#5 Jivas – The living entities

Mamai vamso jiva-loke
jiva-bhutah sanatanah
Manah sasthhanindriyani
Prakirti sthani karsati
(Bhagavad Gita 15.7)

The living entities in this material world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to their conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, including the mind.

#6 Baddha jiva – The conditioned souls

shariram yad avapnoti
yac capy utkramatiswarah
grihitvaitani samyati
vayur gandhan ivasayat
(Bhagavad Gita 15.8)

The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to the other, as the air carries aromas. Thus he accepts one kind of body and again quits it to take another.

 

na mam duskritino mudhah
prapadyante naradhamah
mayayapahrta-jnana
asuram bhavam asritah
(Bhagavad Gita 7.15)

Those miscreants who are exceedingly foolish, who are lowest among humankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.

#7 Mukta Jiva – The Liberated souls

mam upetya punaar janma
duhkhalayam asasvatam
napnuvanti mahatmanah
samsiddhhim paramam gatah
(Bhagavad Gita 8.15)

After attaining Me, the exalted souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary mortal world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the greatest perfection.

daivi hy esa gunamayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
(Bhagavad Gita 7.14)

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature (maya), is difficult to surmount. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

bhagavad gita teachings slokas summary

#8 The relationship between Jiva (living entity), Krishna (Isvara), and Maya (illusory potency of the Lord)

maya tatam idaam sarvam
jagad avyakta murtina
matsthani sarva bhutani
na caham tesv avasthitah
(Bhagavad Gita 9.4)

By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire cosmic manifestation is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.

na ca matsthani bhutani
pasya me yogam aishvaram
bhuta-bhrn na ca bhutastho
mamatma bhuta-bhavanah
(Bhagavad Gita 9.5)

And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My inconceivable mystic power! Although I am the sustainer of all living entities, and although I am everywhere, yet I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation, for Myself is the very source of creation.

#9 Abhidheya – Process of attaining the Supreme Lord

mahatmanas tu mam partha
daivim prakritim asritah
bhajanty ananya-manaso
jnatva bhutadim avyayam
(Bhagavad Gita 9.13)

O son of Prtha, those exalted souls, who are not deluded, are under the protection of My divine nature. They are whole-heartedly engaged in My devotional service knowing Me to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.

satatam kirtayanto mam
yatantas ca dridha-vratah
namasyantas ca mam bhaktya
nitya-yukta upasate
(Bhagavad Gita 9.14)

Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, offering obeisances unto Me, these great souls are perpetually engaged in My devotion.

nitai gaura

#10 Prayojana – Attaining the ultimate fruit of ecstatic love of God

ananyas chintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
Yoga ksemam vahamy aham
(Bhagavad Gita 9.22)

But those who are exclusively engaged in My devotional service, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.

 

samo ‘ham sarva-bhutesu
na me dvesyo ‘sti na priyah
ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya
mayi te tesu capy aham
(Bhagavad Gita 9.29)

I am hateful to no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equally disposed to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.


Unknown truths of Sanatan Dharma – Who is a Sanatani?

devotee of krishna association chaitanya sanatan dharma

Dharma is often interpreted as “duty,” “religion” or “religious duty” and yet its definition is more profound, defying the concise English translation. The word ‘Dharma’ originates from the Sanskrit root “dhri,” which means “to sustain.” Another correlated meaning of ‘Dharma’ is ‘that which is indispensable and fundamental to something’. The word ‘Sanatan’ translates to ‘eternal’ and the phrase ‘Sanatan Dharma’ alludes to that which is eternally integral to a living entity. That which is ‘Sanatan’ does not have either a beginning or an end. Likewise, ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is timeless, non-sectarian and not limited by any boundaries. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith of a person may change. But ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is that which cannot be changed. For instance liquidity cannot be taken away from water, nor can heat be taken away from fire.

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Worshiping the Pancha Tattva – Chaitanya, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa

Pancha Tattva – The Absolute truth (Supreme Lord) in five features :

pancha tattva

Pancha Tattvatmakam Krishnam
Bhakta rupa svarupakam
Bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam
Namami bhakta saktikam

I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, who is non-different from His features as a devotee (Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu), devotional manifestation (Sri Nityananda Prabhu), devotional incarnation (Sri Advaita Acarya), devotional energy (Sri Gadadhara Pandita) and pure devotee (Sri Srivasa Pandita).

The Pancha Tattva (Pancha means ‘five’ and tattva means ‘truth’), as mentioned above, incarnate along with Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord, and in this way, He manifests His sankirtana movement with great pleasure. Spiritually there are no differences between these five truths, for on the transcendental platform everything is absolute. Yet at the same time, there are also varieties in the spiritual world and it is important to differentiate between them to taste these spiritual varieties. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, who are together known as the Pancha Tattva, had distributed the holy name of Lord Krishna to invoke the love of Godhead throughout the universe.

The three predominators – Lord Chaitanya, Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Acharya are worshipable by all living entities. The fourth principle, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, is to be understood as their worshiper. There are innumerable pure unalloyed devotees of the Lord headed by Srivasa Pandita. The associates of the Lord in His various pastimes are all His confidential eternal devotees. Only with them does the Lord appear to propound the sankirtana movement. It is only with their help that the Lord relishes the mellows of conjugal love and then distributes this love of God to the general populace.

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27 facts of Life | Gaudiya Vaishnavism

meaning facts life vaishnavism

Life as we know it is a wonderful opportunity to recognize our true potentials and utilize them to help us and others perfect their existence. Being accustomed to the bondage of material existence, it is almost impossible for one to decipher the meaning of life on his own. Tired of suffering the pangs of material miseries, or being very inquisitive to reach the ultimate truth, a few fortunate souls might become the recipient of divine mercy. Life grows beautiful and the facts of life are interpreted very differently, once the seeds of devotion are rooted in one’s heart. The following article is an interpretation of the colorful panorama of life from the viewpoint of the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

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Shiva Ashtakam : Prayers to Lord Shiva – by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

shiva ashtakam prayers

‘Sri Krishna Chaitanya Carita Maha Kavya’ written by Murari Gupta cites the below captivating Shiva Ashtakam (prayers offered unto Lord Shiva) composed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and recited at a place called Ekamraka (situated near Bhubaneswar). Murari Gupta describes that Lord Gauranga walking like a ferocious lion eventually reached the village of Ekamraka. Gaura’s heart ran wild to meet with Shiva (the great Vaishnava). Great longings filled His heart. He became wild with ecstatic loving emotions. Seeing the flag fluttering on top of the temple, Lord Gaurahari offered His obeisances. He got up and continued walking until he was able to enter the temple of Shiva. Being overwhelmed with ecstasy, Mahaprabhu recited the below prayers again and again.

(1)
namo namas te tri-dasesvaraya
bhutadi nathaya mrdaya nityam

ganga tarangotthita bala chandra
cudaya gauri nayanotsavaya

(2)
su-tapta camikara chandra nila padma
pravalambuda kanti vastraih

su-ntya rangeta vara pradaya
kaivalya nathaya va dhvajaya

(3)
sudhasu suryagni vilocanena
tamo bhide te jagatah sivaya

sahasra subhrasu sahasra rasmi
sahasra sanjittvara tejase ‘stu

(4)
nagesa ratnojjvala vigrahaya
sarddula carmasukha divya tejase

sahasra patropari samsthitaya
varangadamukta bhuja dvayaya

(5)
su nupuraranjita pada padma
karat sudha bhtya sukha pradaya

vicitra ratnaugha vibhuitaya
premanam evadya harau vidhehi

(6)
sri rama govinda mukunda saure
sri krsna narayana vasudeva

ity adi namamta pana matta
bhngadhipayakhila duhkha hantre

(7)
sri naradadyaih satata sugopya
jijnasitayasu vara pradaya

tebhyo harer bhakti sukha pradaya
sivaya sarvva gurave namah

(8)
sri gauri-netrotsava mangalaya
tat prana nathaya rasa pradaya

sada samutkantha govinda lila
gana pravinaya namo stu tubhyam

Translation

(1)
I forever offer my obesisances unto you, the controller of the thirty primal demigods; unto you, who is the original father of created beings and who is gracious, and from whose head, which is crested by the sickle moon, arises the waves of Ganga. I offer my obeisances unto you, who is a festival for the eyes of Gauri, the fair goddess.

(2)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who resembles a moon of molten gold hue, who is dressed in garments glowing like fresh blue lotuses or like radiant rainclouds; (I offer my obeisances) unto you who bestows the most desirable boons upon your devotees through your delightful dancing; (I offer my obeisances) unto you who are the Lord of the impersonalists and whose flag bears the image of the bull.

(3)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who dispels darkness with your three eyes – the moon, the sun, and the fire; (I offer my obeisances) unto you, who generates auspiciousness for all the living entities of the universe and you, whose potency easily defeats that of thousands of moons and suns.

chaitanya mahaprabhu Lakshmipriya vishnupriya shiva

(4)
I offer my obeisances unto you, whose form is brilliantly illuminated by the jewels of Ananta Deva, the king of snakes. I offer my obeisances unto you, who possesses divine potencies and are clothed in a tiger skin, who sits upon a lotus of thousand petals, and whose two arms are adorned by radiant bangles.

(5)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who carries happiness unto your servitors as you pour on them the liquid nectar flowing from your reddish lotus-feet, that rings with charming ankle bells. Obeisances unto you, who are embellished with an abundance of gems. Please endow me today with pure love for Sri Hari!

(6)
O, Sri Rama! O, Govinda! O Mukunda! O Sauri! O, Sri Krishna! O Narayana! O Vasudeva! I offer my obeisances unto you, Sri Shiva, who is the monarch of intoxicated bee-like devotees, who are mad to drink the nectar of these and other innumerable Holy Names of Lord Hari. Obeisances unto you, who destroys all grief.

(7)
I offer my respectful obeisances again and again unto you, who are forever inquired confidentially by Sri Narada and other sages. You also grant favors upon them very quickly. (I offer my respectful obeisances) unto you, who bestows the happiness of Hari bhakti (devotion unto Lord Hari) unto those who seek boons from you and thereby creating auspiciousness. You are thus the Guru (spiritual master) of everyone.

(8)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who is a festival of auspiciousness for the eyes of goddess Gauri (Durga). You are the monarch of her life-air. (I offer my obeisances) unto you who bestows rasa and are expert in eagerly singing songs praising the pastimes of Govinda.

Benefits of hearing this Shiva Ashtakam prayers with love and rapt attention :

etat sivasyatakam adbhuta mahat
srnvan hari-prema labheta sighram
jnanam ca vijnanam apurva vaibhavam
yo bhava purnah paramam samadaram

A person who lovingly hears with rapt attention to these eight-fold prayers to Shiva can quickly gain devotion unto Lord Hari as well as transcendental knowledge, the realization of that knowledge, and unprecedented devotional potency.


Teachings of Vaishnava Acharyas – Vishnuswami, Nimbarka ,Ramanuja, Madhva and Sri Chaitanya

Shuddhadvaita-vada : Philosophy of one of the great Vaishnava acharyas – Sri Vishnu Swami (Rudra Sampradaya) :

Rudradvipa, which is one of the nine islands of Nabadwip, is the residence of all the eleven Rudras. Headed by Nila-lohita Shiva, the Rudras eternally chant over here the glories of Lord Gauranga and dance in ecstasy. Witnessing their ecstatic pastimes, the demigods shower flowers upon them from the heavens.
In ‘Nabadwip Dham Mahatmya’ it is described that Sri Vishnuswami, one of the great Vaishnava Acharyas , had once come to this island of Rudradvipa and stayed here along with his followers. Being pleased with his intense devotion unto Lord Krishna, Nila-Lohita shiva mercifully bestowed his auspicious darsana unto him. On being asked for a boon, Sri Vishnuswami humbly begged for a sampradaya (spiritual lineage) that would propagate the science of pure devotion unto Lord Krishna. Nila Lohita Shiva consented and named the sampradaya after himself. This is how the ‘Rudra Sampradaya’, which is one of the four bonafide Vaishnava sampradayas, came into being.

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