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Thread: Beginning Krishna worship

  1. #1

    Beginning Krishna worship

    Hello all,

    I would like to include Krishna in my daily worship, I am currently studying the Bhagavad Gita and wish to chant the Maha mantra. I don't really feel as though I am drawn to ISKCON as when it comes to religion I prefer solitude to get in touch with the divine. Of course I am happy to go out into the world and assist others and do my duty but when it comes to chanting and puja I just feel better doing it by myself for now as well as attending a local temple which has a murti of Krishna and Radha which isn't an ISKCON temple.

    I suppose I want to know if this is OK, I suspect there are many people who worship Krishna who aren't members of ISKCON and in India it is probably more common then here in the west where the vast majority of Krishna worshipers are to be found in ISKCON.

    I won't receive initiation into the Maha mantra will it still be effective?

    I suppose I am looking for some general advice on where best to start, currently I worship Shiva but I feel drawn to Krishna and wish to see where it goes, perhaps I will worship both together or perhaps one or the other, it's all part of my personal journey of discovery I suppose.

    My thanks,
    Namaste

  2. #2

    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    Namaste SeekingPeaceOfMind

    Since no one has replied, I shall only share information, or what I do or would do. This is not to say this is the only way.

    You may worship KRshNa with love, using either
    a) shoDashopchAr - 16 offerings (shoDash = 16 + upachAr = rites/offerings/gestures) OR
    b) panchopchAr - 5 offerings
    c) OR any of the items in a,b OR just one item you offer with love will make Him happy.

    KRshNa says in the Bhagavad Gita
    BG 9.26 If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.
    He says "with love" - that is the key. Just a leaf (tulasi leaf) or just some water! He is that simple.

    Before going into the steps for puja (including choosing mUrti, image, picture), what about the mantra?
    Since in this age of Kali, HarinAma - Holy names of Hari (KRshNa) are recommended.
    Mahamantra is good. Another alternative mantra is the dvAdashAkshari (12 syllable) mantra : om namo bhagavate vAsudevAya
    However, a Guru would give you the mantra. Till then you can chant, sing bhajans, or repeat in kirtan.
    Also, it is said that the dvadashakshari mantra takes lesser offenses. It addresses OM (the praNava), bhagavate (BhagavAn, and some say Bhagavati, Devi), and vAsudev i.e. the all=pervading Supreme Lord KRshNa.

    The 4 regulations prescribed for VaishNavs who chant the Holy Names of Hari (VishNu, KRshNa) is
    1. no meat (no eggs or foods with eggs)
    2. no intoxicants
    3. no illicit sex
    4. no gambling

    continued...
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  3. #3

    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    Deity: Have an image of KRshNa that you are attracted to:
    - It is recommended to begin with a picture (rather than mUrti) - of your favorite stage
    -- Bala KRshNa (Laddoo GopAL, crawling baby KRshNa)
    -- DAmodar (butter theif)
    -- Murlidhar (Flute-playing)
    -- Radha-KRshNa
    -- Yogeshwar KRshNa (World teacher, no flute)
    -- Vitthal Rukmini
    -- Lakshmi-NArAyaN

    Alternatively, you can bring home a mUrti. However, mUrti means more commitment. Daily abhishek (if made of metal - panchadhAtu, but not if made of clay/porcelin), dress, decoration (called shringAr), flowers, garland, naivedya(food/fruit) etc.

    Technically, the Guru would initiate you into mUrti-puja, therefore, from all angles, picture works for beginners. This is not to discourage. If you feel committed enough for mUrti, that is fine, but then to offer food, one has to be careful with kitchen cleanliness, keeping things vegetarian (away from meat). Other alternative is to offer only milk and fruits.

    We shall start with puja steps in the next post.

    om namo bhagavate vAsudevAya ~
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  4. #4

    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    Namaste

    Utensils: You may have a puja kit if not, collect brass and copper items over time. Brass is the most recommended - least oxidizing.
    The items come typically in the metal mentioned in brackets. You may use functional new substitutes as long as they are not used for other purposes - such as drinking cups.

    1. a flat dish (tAmhaN) with some height to hold liquid, for abhishek - mUrti only, another to hold the ghee lamp (brass, copper, silver)
    2. a small metal cup for Achaman - sipping, and a little laddle (that priests use to give you charaNAmRt, teertha) (copper, brass, silver)
    3. a diyA - ghee lamp. To hold ghee and a wick. (brass or silver)
    4. A small bell (brass, silver)
    5. a receptacle dish to hold nirmAlya (flowers/tulasi from yesterday OR discarded water)
    6. ashTagandha powder, chandan power, chandan stick or Gopi-chandan stick - to make frangrant paste called gandha.
    7. Red kumkum - vermillion. [Optionally you may add turmeric (haldi) and a few raw rice grains later, but no need to right now].

    * How to clean the utensils, and the mUrti will be addressed later. (Use gopi-chandan or chandan or shikekai on a cotton ball. A stronger treatment would be lemon juice or tamrind extract mixed with the gopi-chandan - but don't use this stronger paste for the mUrti, it will burn and itch on Him).

    For puja of the picture,

    1. Make gandha (fragrant paste) - see step 5 (ashTagandha powder, chandan powder or chandan paste made from chandan stick or gopi-chandan stick). Either make thick paste with powder or rub stick on a flat
    stone with some water. Powder works for beginners.

    2. Ring the bell and mentally welcome/invite the Deity for accepting pUjA

    3. Remove flowers, garland from yesterday and place in a dish, to be worn or smelled, and then discarded in soil around plants - not in trash.

    4. Wipe picture with a clean damp cloth that is exclusively reserved for this (may use rose-water or add drops of attar - scent)

    5. apply gandha-tilak that was kept ready. Apply a neat U-shaped tilak on KRshNa's forehead. For Radha or Lakshmi, apply a small dot of red kumkum mixed with a drop of water. The U-shaped tilak is called UrdhvapUndra tilak, represents VishNu's Yoga - union like two rivers meeting. When devotees apply it, it is the Lord's Lotus Foot. Shows surrender.

    6. Optionally apply gandha on each Lotus Foot.

    7. Place flower(s) on the picture frame at the Deity's head, and on the altar/table at His Lotus feet. If more flowers available, make a nice symmetric garland with a contrasting coloured or bigger flower in the
    center. The thread can be tied to the clips at the back of the picture frame, or inserted into the frame metal, to keep the haar (garland) in place. You need not do any gymnastics to acheive this. Just flower(s) is/are enough.

    8. Light the ghee lamp. (Use ready cotton wicks to begin with, soaked in ghee. Later you may make your own).

    9. Optionally light incense sticks. Ringing the bell with left hand, wave the sticks around the picture in clockwise motion using right hand. (Watch temple puja or videos - for those new to this)

    10. Wet your right ring finger with water and draw a square or swastik on the altar, on the right. Place fruit, sugared milk, or pure vegetarian freshly cooked food offering. This is naivedya. Place a washed tulasi leaf on the naivedya if available. (Plant Tulasi).
    Using the laddle, sprinkle water from the Achaman cup around this naivedya.

    11. Offer naivedya to te Lord with love and reverance saying a shloka or mantra:
    namo bramhaNya devAya go brAmhaN hitAya cha
    jagaddhitAya kRshNAya govindAya namo namah (post-Vishnusahasranama)
    (Salutations to that highest Deva, God Who is Bramhan, Who is always inclined towards the well-being of cows / human senses, and the brAmhaNas - brAmhins, who know Bramhan and serve Bramhan, study scriptures
    and impart it to others; To KRshNa, Govinda who is inclined towards well-being of the entire world/universe, and who gives pleasure and protection to the cows and senses.)

    After reciting this shloka, say "naivedyam samarapayAmi" (I offer this naivedya to that Lord I just saluted).

    12. Optionally, as you go deeper over time, read-recite any combination of
    -- simple basic prayer(s) - see end of post.
    -- 108 names of KRshNa (on special occasions like Janmashtami, may offer a flower or tulasi leaf for each
    name),
    -- VishNusahasranAma - thousand names of VishNu (booklets are available, study meaning earlier)
    -- Selected verses of Bhagavad Gita

    *This need not be picked up overnight, but whenever you do, this would be the time to do so. Another beautiful hymn you may learn later is selected shlokas from Shri Shri Bramha-saMhItA.

    13. Optionally meditate, chant 2 rounds of japa, stay with Him, this is time between you and KrshNa
    14. Optionaly sing a bhajan

    15. (Watch aarati at the temple - highly recommended.)
    Pick up the ghee-lamp in the right hand, or the dish that holds the lamp, and wave it clockwise in front of the Deity while ringing the bell with the left hand. Sing a nice simple aarati you just learned yesterday OR sing the Hare KRshNa mahamantra in tune.

    16. Put the aarati lamp back (make sure it does not go out during puja, add a little ghee if needed). Cup yr hands on top of the flame and draw this transcendental auspicious energy and warmth over your head as
    KRshNa's blessing. It burns unwanted anartha, karma, pApa (sins).

    17. Offer obeissances on the floor, to(in front of) the Deity with a sentiment of reverence and surrender. This is danDavat praNAm for men and panchAnga praNAm for women. Ref - please learn this at the Temple.

    Do these things, not as mechanical motions or "rituals", but with a meditative, reverential, loving spirit. Giving full attention to Shri KRshNa. He has come here just for you, so you would not treat Him like a "picture frame"

    Darshan - meditatively from Lotus Feet, slowly up to the face, eyes, crown, taking in each detail.

    Shall post shoDashopchAr MUrti Puja later. There are posts here (by Yajvan ji and Sahasranama on puja details and meanings).

    Hare KRshNa ~
    Last edited by smaranam; 22 September 2013 at 10:49 AM. Reason: ghee; clockwise!
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  5. #5

    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    1. Sorry Seeking...
    I wrote anti-clockwise by mistake, but really meant to say clockwise.
    Corrected that in the post above, but just letting you know.
    It is clockwise, always.

    2. I understand, and can relate to your bhajan in solitude, but that can also go hand in hand with [detached] association of the devotees or at least attend the temple aaratis, kirtans, and see for yourself. Including ISKCON for that matter, although it is not primarily an organization of solitary seekers, but of goshTyAnandis - congregational sankirtan - chanters and preachers.
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  6. #6

    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post
    Place fruit, sugared milk, or pure vegetarian freshly cooked food offering. This is naivedya. Place a washed tulasi leaf on the naivedya if available.
    Regarding the prepared food, it is naivedya that we offer to KRshNa and becomes prasAda when He gives it to us (He makes it transcendental, auspicious, pure. Now it is ready to be eaten.)

    * No one eats the prepared food before offering it to KRshNa.

    * It is as much in the mode of goodness as possible. Sattvic. Therefore, it should be devoid of
    -- onion, garlic, mushrooms, (rAjasic and tAmasic respectively)
    -- tea, coffee, coke, sodA, chocolate (caffeine, stimuants and intoxicants )
    -- should abide by Shri KRshNa's guideline in the Bhagavad Gita for food in the mode of goodness (sAttvic) :

    Bg 17.8Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.

    Bg 17.9Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.
    Bg 17.10Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness.

    Hare KRshNa
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  7. #7
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    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    Namaste
    Quote Originally Posted by SeekingPeaceOfMind View Post
    I suppose I want to know if this is OK, I suspect there are many people who worship Krishna who aren't members of ISKCON and in India it is probably more common then here in the west where the vast majority of Krishna worshipers are to be found in ISKCON.
    ...
    I suppose I am looking for some general advice on where best to start, currently I worship Shiva but I feel drawn to Krishna and wish to see where it goes, perhaps I will worship both together or perhaps one or the other, it's all part of my personal journey of discovery I suppose.
    Why it would not be OK?
    Explore what you're attracted to. Turn to God and see where it will take you.
    Take refuge in Him, think of Him, offer obeisances to Him, be devoted to Him (http://vedabase.net/bg/9/34/en) :

    "Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me." (Bhagavad-gītā 9.34)

    Then if you want to gain knowledge about all this, see which tradition responds to your questions in a way that you find to be most acceptable. Devotion to God is a great science. It is The Science of God. You can learn a lot about that Science of God.
    Now, at the beginning it may seem difficult to choose the tradition you will learn from. There are different traditions (sampradayas) that have differently understood and explained Vedic knowledge.
    Sooner or later you'll realize what appeals to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by SeekingPeaceOfMind View Post
    I won't receive initiation into the Maha mantra will it still be effective?
    If this "Maha mantra" is Hare Krishna maha mantra, I can tell you that its effectiveness does not depend on initiation. However it will be effective only if you properly understand what it stands for, if you properly understand the real position and nature of Lord Krishna, and if you avoid offenses in chanting the mantra.

    regards

  8. #8
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    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    I too am a Krishna devotee who prefers solitary worship. Although I tend to "wear my religion on my sleeve" and talk about it to anyone who will listen, I'm very private when it comes to worship. I don't even like to pray where others can hear or see me.
    I chant the maha-mantra whenever I am alone, wherever I am, and I do puja from a small shrine set up on a table, also when I am alone. I read the Gita and other scriptures whenever I am able to, which is several times a day at least.
    There is no reason you cannot do it alone. If you feel called to include Lord Krishna in your worship, then go ahead.
    Jeff (a.k.a. Govinda Das)

    Hindu Quaker.
    Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord of all beings, yet I manifest Myself by controlling material Nature, using My own divine potential energy, the Divine Light
    (Bhagavad Gita 4:6

  9. #9

    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    Namaste SeekingPeaceOfMind

    My posts here were specifically addressing this:
    Quote Originally Posted by SeekingPeaceOfMind View Post
    I suppose I am looking for some general advice on where best to start
    So, with the basic puja elements in, would you really be interested in the mUrti pUjA (Deity Worship), or are you comfortable starting with what we talked about? Since you posted this in the beginning of September, not sure where you are now, what your decision is.
    Shall continue only after hearing from you.

    Hare KRshNa
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  10. #10

    Re: Beginning Krishna worship

    Apologies for my absence, I am very happy to see some responses on this thread! Thank you to all of you who have replied from the bottom of my heart.

    As of right now I have an image of Krishna which sits on a table in my room, I usually light a candle and chant the maha mantra for around 15-20 minutes mornings and evenings. I plan to chant more as I progress.

    In response to Smaranam (thank you to the very detailed replies), I think puja of the picture would be good but I don't feel confident enough to do that on my own just yet, but in time definitely.

    I also need to cut out eggs from my diet which is difficult, as is onion, these foods are so common. My parents are adjusting to me not eating any meat at the moment, I want to take it slow and let my family adjust to the changes I am making.

    It is nice to hear from someone who also appreciates solitary worship Govind_Das.

    Brahma Jijnasa, you mention it will only be effective if you understand what it stands for. To my knowledge it is a cry to Krishna asking for him to accept you as a devotee, to initiate you into his service. Hare is the energy of God, Krishna and Rama the Holy names of God, so by chanting these you become 'one' with the energy of God as the name and God are the same. I suppose that's a basic overview of what I've gathered, I've read 'Chant and be happy', so I know some of the benefits but then I also know one shouldn't chant for the benefits but for Krishna, as a form of worship. Is that about right?

    Thanks to everyone again
    Seeking.

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