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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Deity Worship > Elaborate Deity Worship

Païcarätra-Pradépa -

Pancharatra Pradipa

Compiled by the

GBC Deity Worship Research Group

@ All Right Reserved

Founder-Acarya: His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Deity Worship Minister: Nrisingha Kavacha dasa prabhu
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 **  Dedication

 **  Guru-parampara Pranama

    Shri Guru pranama

    Shri Rupa pranama


    Shrila Prabhupada pranama

    Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati pranama

    Shri Gaurakishora pranama

    Shri Bhaktivinoda pranama

    Shri Jagannatha pranama

    Shri Vaishnava pranama

    Shri Panca-tattva pranam

    Shri Gauranga pranama

    Shri Baladeva pranama

    Shri Krishna pranama

    Sambandhadhideva pranama

    Abhidheyadhideva pranama

    Prayojanadhideva pranama

    Shri Radha pranama

    Panca-tattva Maha-mantra

    Hare Krishna Maha-mantra



 **  Preface

 **  Acknowledgements

 **  Introduction

 **  Why Perform Deity Worship?

 **  The Lord is Present in His Deity Form

 **  Definition and Goal of Arcana

 **  Pancaratrika-vidhi and Bhagavata-vidhi

 **  Qualifications for Arcana

   Only Through the Spiritual Master Can We Approach Krishna

   Variations in Arcana Procedures and Standards of Worship

   The Five Aspects of Worship

   A Note About Using This Book

 **  Preparing for Worship Abhigamana and Upadana

 **  Morning Duties and Remembrance of the Supreme Lord

 **  Waking Up and Remembering the Lord

 **  The Time of Rising from Bed

 **  Waking and Chanting

 **  Offering Obeisances to the Spiritual Master

 **  Evacuating and Cleaning Before Bathing

 **  Tuft of Hair

 **  Taking a Bath

 **  Benefits of an Early-Morning Bath

 **  Types of Bath

 **  Mental Bath

 **  Water Bath

   Source of Bathing Water

   Rules for Bathing

   Alternative Bathing Procedures

   Frequency of Bathing

   Other Occasions for Varuna-snana

   Forbidden Times for Bathing


 **  Vaishnava Dress

 **  Unclean and Improper Cloth

 **  Color of Cloth

 **  Identifying Oneself as a Vaishnava

 **  Marking The Body with Vishnu-Tilaka

   Material for Tilaka



 **  Marking the Body with Vishnu's Symbols and Names

 **  Tulasi Neck Beads

 **  Sipping Water for Purification

 **  Chanting the Gayatri Mantra

 **  Brahmana Thread

 **  Cleaning and Decorating the Temple

 **  Gathering Items for Worship

 **  Utensils for Worship






 **  Ingredients for Worship







   Bathing Ingredients

   Soft Towels for Drying

   Dress for the Lord

   Tulasi Leaves and Bud


   Sandalwood Paste




   Food Offerings

   Forbidden foods

   Offerable foods

   Size of the Lord's Offering

   Kitchen Standards


 **  Kitchen Rules

   Kitchen Dress

   Personal Cleanliness

   Food Purity

   Kitchen and Utensil Cleanliness

   Maintaining Proper Consciousness



 **  Kitchen Utensils

 **  The Sixty-four Items of Worship

 **  The Sixteen Basic Upacaras

 **  The Sixty-four Upacaras

 **  [1] Waking the Lord

 **  [2] Chanting "jaya" on seeing the Deity

 **  [3] Offering obeisances

 **  Ashtanga-pranama and Pancanga-pranama

 **  [4] Offering mangala-arati

 **  Preliminary Activities of Purification

   Consecrating Water for Purification

   Establishing a Seat

   Arranging Utensils and Articles of Worship

   Requesting the Spiritual Master's and Previous Acaryas' Blessings

   Purifying Hands, Flowers, and Materials

   Purification of the Elements of the Material Body


 **  Preliminary Worship

   Worship of the Spiritual Master

   Worship of Lord Chaitanya


   Internal Worship


 **  The Main Worship

 **  Receiving the Lord

   [5] Inviting the Lord by offering Him a seat and making Him comfortable

   [6] Offering a twig for brushing the teeth

   [7] Washing the Lord's feet

   [8] Offering arghya as a sign of welcome and respect

   [9] Offering water for sipping

   [10] Offering madhuparka, then water for sipping


 **  Bathing the Lord

   [11] Offering the Lord shoes so He may come to the bathing place

   [12] Cleaning the Lord's body

   [13] Rubbing the Lord's body with fragrant oils

   [14] Removing oil from the Lord's body

   [15] Bathing the Lord in flower water



 **  Pancamrita-snana

   [16] Bathing the Lord in milk

   [17] Bathing the Lord in yogurt

   [18] Bathing the Lord in ghee

   [19] Bathing the Lord in honey

   [20] Bathing the Lord in sugar



 **  Bathing the Lord with Water

   [21] Bathing the Lord in water consecrated with mantras

   [22] Wiping the Lord's body with a soft, dry cloth


 **  Dressing and Worshiping the Lord

   [23] Dressing the Lord

   [24] Offering a Gayatri thread

   [25] Offering acamana again after dressing

   [26] Applying gandha to the Lord's feet with a tulasi leaf

   [26a] Tulasi Leaves and Buds

   [27] Decorating the Lord with jewelery

   [28] Offering flowers to the Lord

   [29] Offering incense

   [30] Offering lamp

   [31] Counteracting inauspicious influences caused by the glances of evil persons

   [32] Offering food



 **  Food preparation

 **  Method of offering

 **  Duration of offering

   [33] Offering spices

   [34] Offering betel

   [35] Offering the Lord a resting place

   [36] Arranging the Lord's hair

   [37] Offering variously colored clothing, belts, turbans, capes, and so on

   [38] Offering the Lord a crown

   [39] Offering gandha again and decorating the Lord's body with tilaka designs

   [40] Offering Kaustubha and other wonderful jewels

   [41] Offering varieties of flowers and garlands



 **  Concluding Activities

   [42] Offering arati

   [43] Offering a mirror

   [44] Taking the Deity to a special mandapa

   [45] Bringing the Lord back to His throne

   [46] Worshiping the Lord again with padya and so on

   [47] Offering the Lord incense and other items, then offering another meal


 **  Altar arrangement

 **  Additional notes on altar arrangement

   [48] Offering betel, then performing maha-arati

   [49] Offering camara, fan and umbrella

   [50] Singing

   [51] Playing instruments

   [52] Dancing

   [53] Circumambulation of the Deity

   [54] Offering Obeisances

   [55] Recitation of verses

   [56] Touching the Lord's lotus feet

   [57] Taking caranamrita and flower prasada on one's head

   [58] Accepting the food remnants of the Lord



 **  Midday, Afternoon, and Evening Worship

 **  Night Services

   [59] Sitting at the feet of the Lord in readiness for service

   [60] Preparing the Lord's Bed

   [61] Offering the Lord one's hand, along with His shoes, before bringing Him to His bed

   [62] Receiving the Lord at His bed with great festivity

   [63] Washing and then drying the Lord's feet, and offering gandha, flowers, betel, condensed milk, and a fan

   [64] Laying the Lord down on His bed and massaging His lotus feet


 **  Simplified Procedures for Deity Worship

 **  Deity Worship at Home

 **  Some Preliminary Considerations Before Beginning Deity Worship at Home

   The Guru-Gauranga Altar and Tulasi-seva: Worship Simple and Sublime

   Householders Should Perform Arcana

   The Difference between Temple Worship and Home Worship

   Minimum Standards for Home Deity Worship

   Cleanliness and Regulation

   Children and Deity Worship

   Travel and Deity Worship



 **  Procedures for Deity Worship at Home

 **  Waking the Deities

   Bhoga Offering



 **  Daily Service

 **  Morning Worship (Bathing and Dressing)

 **  Services in the Course of the Day

 **  Putting the Deities to Rest at Night

 **  Procedures for Simplified Worship of the Lord in the Temple

 **  Early-Morning Services

 **  Entering the Deity Room

   Required Paraphernalia

   Before Entering the Deity Room

   Entering the Deity Room

   Waking the Spiritual Master and the Deities


 **  Offering Food

   Required Paraphernalia

   Preliminary Activities

   Purifying the Bhoga

   Inviting the Lord to take His meal

   Offering the Bhoga

   After the Lord's Meal

   Offering Prasada to the Lord's Associates

   Arati Ceremony


 **  The Main Worship with Sixteen Items

 **  Preparation for Worship

   Required Paraphernalia

   Arranging the Paraphernalia for Worship

   Requesting the Spiritual Master's and Previous Acaryas' Blessings

   Purifying Hands, Paraphernalia and Oneself

   Purifying the Bodily Elements by Identifying Oneself as the Eternal Servant of the Servant of Lord Krishna



 **  Preliminary Worship

 **  Worshiping the Spiritual Master

 **  Worshiping Lord Chaitanya

 **  Worshiping Lord Jagannatha

   Worship in the Mind



 **  Worship With Articles

   1. Asana

   2. Svagata

   3. Padya

   4. Arghya

   5. Acamana

   6. Madhuparka

   7. Punar-acamana

   8. Snana

   9. Vastra

   10. Abharana

   11. Gandha

   12. Pushpa

   13. Dhupa

   14. Dipa

   15. Naivedya

   16. Pranama




 **  The Murti of Shrila Prabhupada

 **  Standard Procedures for Deity Worship Arcana-Paddhati

 **  Preparing for Worship and Waking the Lord

 **  Waking and Remembering the Lord

 **  Bathing and Dressing

 **  Applying Urdhva-pundra-tilaka

 **  Sipping Water for Purification

 **  Establishing General Arghya Water

 **  Chanting Gayatri

 **  Early-Morning Services

 **  Entering the Deity Room

   Required Paraphernalia

   Before Entering the Deity Room

   Entering the Deity Room



 **  Waking the Spiritual Master and the Deities

 **  Offering Early-Morning Paraphernalia

 **  Offering Food

   Required Paraphernalia

   Preliminary Activities

   Purifying the Bhoga

   Inviting the Lord to Take His Meal

   Offering the Bhoga

   After the Lord's Meal

   Offering Prasada to the Lord's Associates



 **  Arati Ceremony

   Required Paraphernalia

   Preliminary Activities for Arati

   Requesting the Lord to Accept the Arati

   Purifying the Upacaras

   Offering Procedure

   How to Offer Each Item

   Upacara-mantras for Arati

   Completing the Arati


 **  The Main Worship With Sixteen Items

 **  Preparation for Worship

   Required Paraphernalia

   Establishing a Place for Worship

   Arranging the Paraphernalia for Worship

   Requesting the Spiritual Master's and Previous Acaryas' Blessings

   Purifying the Hands

   Purifying the Flowers

   Purifying the Lord's Paraphernalia

   Purifying Oneself by Sprinkling Water

   Purifying the Bodily Elements by Identifying Oneself as the Eternal Servant of the Servant of Lord Krishna



 **  Preliminary Worship

   Worshiping the Lord's Bell

   Worshiping the Lord's Bathing Conch


 **  Worshiping the Spiritual Master

   Meditation on the form of the Spiritual Master

   Worship of the Spiritual Master in the Mind

   Worship of the Spiritual Master with Articles





 **  Worshiping Lord Chaitanya

   Meditation on Navadvipa-dhama

   Meditation on the Form of Lord Chaitanya

   Mental Worship of Lord Chaitanya

   Worship of Lord Chaitanya with Articles


 **  Worship of the Main Deities

 **  Meditation and Worship of Radha-Krishna in the Mind

   Meditation on Vrindavana-dhama



 **  Meditation on the Form of Radha-Krishna

   Mental Worship of Radha-Krishna



 **  Establishing Vishesha-arghya

   Worshiping the Deity in the vishesha-arghya



 **  Worship of the Lord's Seat

 **  Worship of Radha-Krishna with Articles

   1. Asana

   2. Svagata

   3. Padya

   4. Arghya

   5. Acamana

   6. Madhuparka

   7. Punar-acamana

   8. Snana

   9. Vastra

   10. Abharana

   11. Gandha

   12. Pushpa

   13. Dhupa

   14. Dipa

   15. Naivedya

   16. Pranama


 **  Silent Chanting of Mantras

 **  Worshiping the Lord's Personal Paraphernalia

 **  Worshiping Radha-Krishna's Associates

 **  Offering Maha-prasada

 **  Offering Additional Paraphernalia

 **  Prayers to Radha-Krishna




 **  Offering One's Activities to the Lord

 **  Offering Oneself to the Lord

 **  Begging Forgiveness for Offenses

 **  Darshana-arati

 **  Circumambulation

 **  Obeisances

 **  Accepting the Lord's Remnants

 **  Putting the Lord to Rest

 **  Mula Mantras

 **  Upacara Names

 **  Cultivation of Devotional Service

 **  Serving the Holy Name

 **  Chanting Hare Krishna on Beads

   Counting Japa

   Posture, Place, and Time

   Attention while Chanting



 **  The Ten Offenses to the Holy Name

 **  The Worship of Tulasi-devi

 **  The Glories of Tulasi

 **  Tulasi Worship

 **  Additional Tulasi-puja

 **  Service to Scriptures

 **  Definition and Necessity of Following Shastra

 **  Worshiping Shastra

 **  Studying Shastra

 **  Hearing Shastra

 **  Reciting Shastra

 **  Preaching the Message of Shastra

 **  Serving and Honoring Prasada

 **  Serving Prasada

   The Order in which Foods Are Served



 **  Honoring Prasada

   Offering Respects to Prasada


   Rules for Eating and for Drinking Water

   Food Quantity

   After the Meal

   Uncontaminated and Contaminated Leftovers


 **  Serving the Vaishnavas

 **  Necessity of Associating with Devotees

   Consequences of Avoiding Devotee Association

   Vaishnava Character Is Cultivated Through Deity Worship

   Two Categories of Vaishnavas

   Three Categories of Transcendentally Situated Vaishnavas


 **  Three Kinds of Vaishnava Association

   Association for Neophyte Devotees

   Association of Intermediate Devotees

   Association of Advanced Devotees



 **  Service to Vaishnavas

   Offering Respect to Vaishnavas



 **  Procedure for Reception of Vaishnavas

 **  Reception of Guests

 **  Offering Respect to Guests

 **  Proper Behavior as a Guest

 **  Service to the Holy Dhama

 **  Types of Service to the Dhama

 **  Rules for Dhama-seva

 **  Circumambulation of the Holy Dhama

 **  Offering Obeisances to the Holy Dhama

 **  Offenses to Avoid in the Holy Dhama

 **  Vaishnava Songs which are Daily Sung in the Temple

 **  Shri Shri Gurv-ashtaka

 **  Shri Nrisimha Pranama

 **  Shri Tulasi-puja-kirtana

 **  Shri Guru-vandana

 **  Jaya Radha-Madhava

 **  Bhoga-arati

 **  Gaura-arati

 **  Shri Nama-kirtana

 **  Prema-dhvani Prayers

 **  Suplement 1: The Process of Deity Worship

 **  Results of Worshiping the Deity



   Developing Love of Krishna

   Peace and Enthusiasm

   Preaching Krishna Consciousness

   Proof of Sincere Service

   Living in Vaikuntha

   Thinking of Krishna Automatically

   Maintaining Purity in Health, Mind, and Intelligence

   Subduing Lust

   Beautifying the Heart and Feeling Transcendental Bliss

   Bringing Yavanas and Mlecchas to Spiritual Life

   Getting Direct Inspiration

   Studying All the Vedas

   Freedom from Poverty

   Liberation Without Separate Endeavor

   Imperceptible Liberation: Impersonalists Become Devotees

   Touching the Deity, One Gets a Spiritual Body

   Selecting Items for Worship: Raghava Pandita's Pure Devotional Service

   Krishna-dhyana: Meditation on Krishna's Transcendental Form

   Purification, Spiritualization, Invocation, and Worship

   Seva Aparadha-Offenses to Avoid

   Offenses Due to Lack of Purity in the Body and Mind

   Offenses Due to Lack of Respect

   Offenses Due to Lack of Endeavor

   Offenses Due to Lack of Faith

   Counteracting Offenses in Deity Worship



 **  Supplement 2: Elaborate Deity Worship

 **  Worship of Shalagrama-shila

 **  Characteristics of Shalagrama-shilas

 **  Procedures For Elaborate Worship of the Lord

 **  Preparation for Worship

   Required Paraphernalia

   Offering Obeisances

   Sipping Water for Purification and Establishing Samanya-arghya

   Entering the Deity Room

   Dispelling Inauspicious Influences

   Establishing a Place for Worship

   Arranging the Paraphernalia for Worship

   Requesting the Spiritual Master's and Previous Acaryas' Blessings

   Purifying the Hands

   Purifying the Flowers

   Purifying the Lord's Paraphernalia



 **  Purifying Oneself by Sprinkling Water

   Protecting Oneself from Subtle Influences

   Protecting Oneself by a Wall of Fire

   Purifying the Bodily Elements by Identifying Oneself as the Eternal Servant of the Servant of Lord Krishna



 **  Preliminary Worship

   Worshiping the Lord's Bell

   Worshiping the Lord's Bathing Conch


 **  Worshiping the Spiritual Master

 **  Worshiping Lord Chaitanya

 **  Worshiping Shalagrama-shila

 **  Meditation on the Lord's Form

 **  Worshiping the Lord in the Mind

  Spiritualizing the Senses by Nyasa




 **  Establishing Vishesha-arghya

   Defining the Place for the Conch

   Purifying and Establishing the Conch Stand and Conch

   Worshiping the Fire, Sun, and Moon Mandalas, Situated Within the Stand, Conch, and Water

   Invoking the Lord into the Vishesha-arghya

   Placing the Syllables of the Mula-mantra on the Limbs of the Deity Within the Water

   Worshiping the Lord in the Vishesha-arghya

   Worship of the Lord's Place with His Associates



 **  Worship of the Shalagrama-shila with Articles

   1. Asana

   2. Svagata

   3. Padya

   4. Arghya

   5. Acamana

   6. Madhuparka

   7. Punar-acamana

   8. Snana


 **  Cleaning the Deity Before His Bath

 **  Cleaning the Lord's Teeth

 **  Bathing and Drying the Lord

   9. Vastra

   10. Abharana

   11. Gandha

   12. Pushpa

   13. Dhup

   14. Dipa

   15. Naivedya



 **  Purifying the bhoga (some fruit and/or sweets and water)

 **  Parisheshana-offering to the pranas

 **  Offering the Bhoga

 **  After the Meal

   16. Pranama-Concluding Activities



 **  Mantra-japa

 **  Homa

 **  Worshiping the Lord's Personal Paraphernalia and Associates

 **  Offering Prasada to the Lord's Associates

 **  Karma-samarpana

 **  Viloma-arghya

 **  Atma-samarpana

 **  Pranama

 **  Aparadha-shodhana

 **  Supplement 3: Additional Verses

 **  Shri Brahma-Samhita

 **  Miscellaneous Additional Verses

 **  Vishnu-smarana

 **  Mangala-shanti

 **  Additional Verses for Worshiping the Spiritual Master

 **  Atma-samarpana

 **  Guru-pranama

 **  Vaishnava-pranama

 **  Additional Verses for Worshiping Lord Chaitanya

 **  Navadvipa-dhyana

 **  Gauranga-stuti

 **  Panca-tattva-pranama

 **  Nityananda-pranama

 **  Gaura-Nitai-pranama

 **  Additional Verses for Worshiping Radha-Krishna

 **  Radha-Krishna-dhyana

 **  Krishna-pranama

 **  Radha-pranama




 **  Caranamrita-grahana-mantras

 **  Upacara-mantras

   • Shankha

   • Ghanta

   • Asana

   • Asana

   • Svagata

   • Padya

   • Arghya

   • Acamana

   • Madhuparka

   • Punar-acamana

   • Snana

   • Vastra

   • Uttariya-vastra

   • Upavita

   • Abharanani

   • Gandha

   • Tulasi and Pushpa

   • Dhupa

   • Dipa

   • Naivedya

   • Tambula



 **  Pancamrita-mantras





   Sugar water



 **  Additional Verses for Worshiping Specific Deities

 **  Sita-Rama-pranama

 **  Lalita-Vishakha-pranama

 **  Nityananda-dhyana

 **  Krishna-Balarama-dhyana

 **  Ugra-Nrisimha-dhyana

 **  Nrisimha Stuti

 **  Jagannathashtaka

 **  Prayers to the Holy Dhama

 **  Navadvipa-pranama

 **  Vrindavana-pranama

 **  Yamuna-snana-mantra

 **  Ganga-pranama

 **  Verses for Requesting Forgiveness for One's Offenses

 **  Supplement 4: Additional Notes

 **  Puja-Krama - Morning Worship Procedures at a Glance




   1. Asana

   2. Svagata

   3. Padya

   4. Arghya

   5. Acamana

   6. Madhuparka

   7. Punar-Acamana

   8. Snana




   9. Vastra

   10. Abharana

   11. Gandha

   12. Pushpa

   13. Dhupa

   14. Dipa

   15. Naivedya

   16. Pranama-Concluding Activities



 **  Suggested Menus for Scheduled Deity Bhoga Offerings

 **  A Typical Daily Schedule of Deity Services

 **  An Elaborate Gujarati Raja-bhoga Menu

   Arranging the plates and the tables

   Serving the plate


 **  Notes on Ekadashi

   Offering Grains to the Spiritual Master and Lord Chaitanya


   What Constitutes "Grains" on Ekadashi?

   Mahaprasada on Ekadashi


 **  GBC Laws Related to Deity Worship

 **  References on Deity Worship


   Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita


 **  Worshiping Govardhana-shila

 **  Qualifications of a Bona Fide Disciple

 **  Mudras

  Purification and Protection mudras

  Invocation mudras





 **  The Six Divisions of Purity

   1. Purity of Place

   2. Purity of Articles

   3. Purity of Body

   4. Purity of Mind

   5. Purity of Mantra

   6. Purity of the Deity


  Consideration of Purity and Impurity

   Impurities of the Self

   Purifying the Body

   Purification of Consciousness

   Pure items

   Purification of Articles



 **  A Brief Glimpse at Mantras

  Mantras Given by the Spiritual Master

  Bija Syllables and Mula Mantras

  Mula Mantras and Upacara Names

  Gayatri Mantras

 **  Preparation for a Day of Devotional Service

  Taking Proper Rest in Preparation for Service

  Counteracting Bad Dreams

  Evacuating and Cleansing Before Bathing

   Rules for Evacuating

   Forbidden places for evacuating

   Cleansing after Evacuating



  Brushing the Teeth

   Procedure for Brushing the Teeth



 **  Mantra Bath

 **  Some General Principles of Menu Planning



   Evening and Night



"Illumination of Pancaratra"

Volume 1
Daily Service

aaaMethod of Deity Worship
for the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Founder-Acärya: His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda

Compiled by the
GBC Deity Worship Research Group

PP: Dedication


This series is dedicated to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda, who, by taking the order of his spiritual master as his life and soul, has so nicely presented throughout the world the teachings of the six Gosvämis, including those on the process of arcana by Shrila Sanätana Gosvämi and Shrila Gopäla Bhatta Gosvämi.

When a devotee with all his heart and soul serves Krishna, dresses Him in nice garments and gives Him a flower, Krishna smiles. If you can get Krishna to smile upon you just once, your life's goal is fulfilled.

(Shrila Prabhupäda lecture on Bhäg. 3.25.12, 12 November 1974)

nnnnPP: Guru-paramparä Praëäma

nnnGuru-paramparä Praëäma

Shri Guru praëäma

om ajnäna-timirändhasya jnänänjana-shaläkayä
cakshur unmilitam yena tasmai shri-gurave namah

I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance, with the torchlight of knowledge.

Shri Rupa praëäma

shri-chaitanya-mano 'bhishtam sthäpitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kadä mahyam dadäti sva-padäntikam

When will Shrila Rupa Gosvämi Prabhupäda, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Chaitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet.


vande 'ham shri-guroh shri-yuta-pada-kamalam shri-gurun vaishëavämsh ca
shri-rupam sägrajätam saha-gaëa-raghunäthänvitam tam sa jivam
sädvaitam sävadhutam parijana-sahitam krishëa-chaitanya-devam
shri-rädhä-krishëa-pädän saha-gaëa-lalitä- shri-vishäkhänvitämsh ca

I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master and of all the other preceptors on the path of devotional service. I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaishëavas and unto the six Gosvämis, including Shrila Rupa Gosvämi, Shrila Sanätana Gosvämi, Raghunätha däsa Gosvämi, Jiva Gosvämi, and their associates. I offer my respectful obeisances unto Advaita Acärya Prabhu, Shri Nityänanda Prabhu, Shri Chaitanya Mahäprabhu, and all His devotees, headed by Shriväsa Thäkura. I then offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Lord Krishëa, Shrimati Rädhäräni, and all the gopis, headed by Lalitä and Vishäkhä.

Shrila Prabhupäda praëäma

nama om vishëu-pädäya krishëa-preshthäya bhu-tale
shrimate bhaktivedanta-svämin iti nämine

namas te särasvate deve gaura-väëi-pracäriëe

I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda, who is very dear to Lord Krishëa, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.

Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Gosvämi. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.

Shrila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati praëäma

nama om vishëu-pädäya krishëa-preshthäya bhu-tale
shrimate bhaktisiddhänta-sarasvatiti nämine

shri-värshabhänavi-devi-dayitäya kripäbdhaye
krishëa-sambandha-vijnäna-däyine prabhave namah

shri-gaura-karuëä-shakti-vigrahäya namo 'stu te

namas te gaura-väëi-shri-murtaye dina-täriëe

I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati, who is very dear to Lord Krishëa, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.

I offer my respectful obeisances to Shri Värshabhänavi-devi-dayita däsa [another name of Shrila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati], who is favored by Shrimati Rädhäräëi and who is the ocean of transcendental mercy and the deliverer of the science of Krishëa.

I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, the personified energy of Shri Chaitanya's mercy, who deliver devotional service which is enriched with conjugal love of Rädhä and Krishëa, coming exactly in the line of revelation of Shrila Rupa Gosvämi.

I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, who are the personified teachings of Lord Chaitanya. You are the deliverer of the fallen souls. You do not tolerate any statement which is against the teachings of devotional service enunciated by Shrila Rupa Gosvämi.

Shri Gaurakishora praëäma

namo gaura-kishoräya säkshäd-vairägya-murtaye
vipralambha-rasämbhode pädämbujäya te namah

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Gaura-kishora däsa Bäbäji Mahäräja [the spiritual master of Shrila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati], who is renunciation personified. He is always merged in a feeling of separation and intense love of Krishëa.

Shri Bhaktivinoda praëäma

namo bhaktivinodäya sac-cid-änanda-nämine
gaura-shakti-svarupäya rupänuga-varäya te

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Saccidänanda Bhaktivinoda, who is transcendental energy of Chaitanya Mahäprabhu. He is a strict follower of the Gosvämis, headed by Shrila Rupa.

Shri Jagannätha praëäma

gaurävirbhäva-bhumes tvam nirdeshtä saj-jana-priyah
vaishëava-särvabhaumah shri-jagannäthäya te namah

I offer my respectful obeisances to Jagannätha däsa Bäbäji, who is respected by the entire Vaishëava community and who discovered the place where Lord Chaitanya appeared.

Shri Vaishëava praëäma

vänchä-kalpatarubhyash ca kripä-sindhubhya eva ca
patitänäm pävanebhyo vaishëavebhyo namo namah

I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaishëava devotees of the Lord. They are just like desire trees who can fulfill the desires of everyone, and they are full of compassion for the fallen conditioned souls.

Shri Panca-tattva praëäma

panca-tattvätmakam krishëam bhakta-rupa-svarupakam
bhaktävatäram bhaktäkhyam namämi bhakta-shaktikam

I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Krishëa, who is nondifferent from His features as a devotee, devotional incarnation, devotional manifestation, pure devotee, and devotional energy.

Shri Gauränga praëäma

namo mahä-vadänyäya krishëa-prema-pradäya te
krishëäya krishëa-chaitanya-nämne gaura-tvishe namah

O most munificent incarnation! You are Krishëa Himself appearing as Shri Krishëa Chaitanya Mahäprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Shrimati Rädhäräëi, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishëa. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.

Shri Baladeva praëäma

namas te halägraha namas te mushaläyudha
namas te revati-känta namas te bhakta-vatsala

namas te dharaëi-dhara namas te balanäm shreshtha
pralambäre namas te 'stu ehi mam krishëa-purvaja

Obeisances to You, O holder of the plow. Obeisances to You, O wielder of the mace. Obeisances to You, O darling of Revati. Obeisances to You, O kind benefactor of Your devotees. Obeisances to You, O upholder of the earth. Obeisances to You, O best of the strong. Obeisances to You, O enemy of Pralamba. Please come to me, older brother of Krishëa.

Shri Krishëa praëäma

he krishëa karuëä-sindho dina-bandho jagat-pate
gopesha gopikä-känta rädhä-känta namo 'stu te

O my dear Krishëa, ocean of mercy, You are the friend of the distressed and the source of creation. You are the master of the cowherdmen and the lover of the gopis, especially Rädhäräëi. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.

Sambandhädhideva praëäma

jayatäm suratau pangor mama manda-mater gati
mat-sarvasva-padämbhojau rädhä-madana-mohanau

Glory to the all-merciful Rädhä and Madana-mohana! I am lame and ill advised, yet They are my directors, and Their lotus feet are everything to me.

Abhidheyädhideva praëäma

preshthälibhih sevyamänau smarämi

In a temple of jewels in Vrindävana, underneath a desire tree, Shri Shri Rädhä-Govinda, served by Their most confidential associates, sit upon an effulgent throne. I offer my most humble obeisances unto Them.

Prayojanädhideva praëäma

shrimän räsa-rasärambhi vamshi-vata-tata-sthitah
karshan veëu-svanair gopir gopinäthah shriye 'stu nah

Shri Shrila Gopinätha, who originated the transcendental mellow of the räsa dance, stands on the shore in Vamshivata and attracts the attention of the cowherd damsels with the sound of His celebrated flute. May they all confer upon us their benediction.

Shri Radha pranama

tapta-käncana-gaurängi rädhe vrindävaneshvari
vrishabhänu-sute devi praëamämi hari-priye

I offer my respects to Rädhäräëi, whose bodily complexion is like molten gold and who is the Queen of Vrindävana. You are the daughter of King Vrishabhänu, and You are very dear to Lord Krishëa.

Panca-tattva Mahä-mantra

 (jaya) shri-krishëa-chaitanya prabhu nityänanda
shri-advaita gadädhara shriväsädi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda

Hare Krishëa Mahä-mantra

Hare Krishëa, Hare Krishëa, Krishëa Krishëa, Hare Hare
Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare

PP: Preface


Soon after beginning the Krishëa consciousness movement, Shrila Prabhupäda established the process of Deity worship as an integral aspect of his fledgling society. Just as he delivered the message of Lord Krishëa intact, he also presented the process of Deity worship intact, seeing it as a practical means of applying the basic principle of Krishëa consciousness-offering everything to Krishëa.

Shrila Prabhupäda wanted the Deity worship in ISKCON to follow certain standards:

Also very soon I shall send you one complete set of instructions on worshiping the Deity, and you can print in English and distribute. This book shall be named Method of Worship. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 13 March 1971]

What's more, Shrila Prabhupäda wanted the level of worship in ISKCON temples to be very high, unlike that at so many temples in India, where standards were being lowered. Shrila Prabhupäda wrote:

Regarding Deity worship, the standard of Deity worship must be kept very high in all our ISKCON centers. There should be no question of decrease, only how to increase in the quality and opulence of our arcana offerings. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 18 November 1971]

Thus the devotees were to worship the Deity not whimsically, but according to the instructions of the spiritual master. Only in this way would Krishëa be pleased and the Krishëa consciousness movement flourish. Otherwise, havoc would result:

The greatest danger to our movement will come when we manufacture and create our own process for worshiping the Deities. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 4 January 1973]

The Deity worship should be done just in the way it was carried out in my presence. You should see that such a high standard is maintained and that there are no irregularities. Irregularity means breaking the schedule. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 13 November 1970]

For the most part, however, it seems Shrila Prabhupäda was satisfied that his devotees were following his instructions faithfully. Thus Krishëa gave them the intelligence to serve Him properly.

I have invited Krishna and He may not be insulted by disrespectful behavior. I have introduced this system of Deity worship amongst the non-believers, the atheists, the mlecchas, the yavanas and I pray to Krishna that I am inviting You to come, so please, because You are seated in their hearts, please give them the intelligence how to serve You so that You may not be inconvenienced. I have introduced this system to the mlecchas, the yavanas and the lowest and the fallen, but still it is successful. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 10 November 1975]

Lord Chaitanya and the six Gosvämis recommended the system of Deity worship Shrila Prabhupäda introduced into ISKCON. It is known as the pancarätrika system of Deity worship. He has demonstrated that the principles of Pancarätra are applicable for all Vaishëavas, regardless of background.

The pancarätrika system has the most authorized codes for transcendental devotional service. The pancarätrika system is both practical and suitable for this age of quarrel. The Pancarätra is more important than the Vedänta for this modern age. [Shrimad-Bhägavatam 1.5.38, purport]

Vaishëavas accept 108 Pancarätra texts as authoritative regarding initiation, daily duties, Deity worship, conduct, character of devotees, installation of Deities, and temple construction. Shrila Sanätana Gosvämi and Shrila Gopäla Bhatta Gosvämi, on Shri Chaitanya Mahäprabhu's order, compiled a book of Vaishëava standards called Hari-bhakti-viläsa, based on the Pancarätra and numerous other texts. All bona fide followers of Lord Chaitanya accept the Hari-bhakti-viläsa as authoritative concerning arcana, or Deity worship.

Devotees who actually engage in devotional service with faith and love are inspired by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vaishëavas are never concerned with ritualistic smärta-brähmaëas. Shrila Sanätana Gosvämi has therefore compiled Hari-bhakti-viläsa to guide the Vaishëavas who never follow the smärta-vidhi. [Bhäg. 8.20.14, purport]

Shrila Prabhupäda established Deity worship all over the world as an essential part of the Krishëa Consciousness Movement. As this movement continues to expand by the grace of Lord Chaitanya, this planet may one day be transformed into Vaikuëtha-a spiritual abode where, in every town and village, devotees worship Krishëa's Deity form and chant His holy names.

This book, assigned and approved by the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is the first in a series of manuals called Pancarätra Pradipa ('Illumination of Pancarätra') for the members of the Society. A second volume will deal with naimittika-sevä, or occasional worship, including festivals, Deity installation, and other related subjects.

This book is published by the ISKCON GBC PRESS, which prints books, manuals, and pamphlets authorized by, and on behalf of, the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

PP: Acknowledgements


The members of the GBC Deity Worship Research Group wish to thank the numerous devotees who have given thoughtful and learned advice for the compilation of this book, and wishes to especially thank the following devotees for their kind assistance in bringing it to completion:

English editing: Drävida Däsa; Krishëa-rupä Däsi
Sanskrit editing: Gopipäranadhana Däsa, Ajä Däsa;
Advising: Suhotra Swami; Bhakta-rupa Däsa
Artwork: Pada-sevanam Däsa (cover design);

     Gaura-präëa Däsa; Gopavrindapäla Däsa;
     Nara-Krishëa Däsa; Marudapa Däsa; Bhakta Gary Snyder;
     Bhaktin Anamarija, Bhakta Vadim; Bhaktin Zana;

Computer assistance: Govinda Däsa; Dharmaräja Däsa
Repro:  Mahänidhi Däsa
Layout: Navanitikä Däsi
Proofreading: Krishëa-rupä Däsi; Pururavä Däsa
Indexing: Grahila Däsa

We are grateful to the entire ISKCON community for its encouragement and patience in seeing this volume to completion. Thanks are also due to the Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula Village and the Bhaktivedanta Research Institute in Mäyäpur which provided us with the facility where we compiled this book, to the North European BBT for financing the production and for their extensive assistance, and to the Australian BBT for financing the printing.

The GBC Deity Worship Research Group consists of the following members:

H. H. Jayapatäka Swami
H. H. Bhänu Swami
H. H. Bhaktividyä-purëa Swami
H. G. Jananiväsa Däsa
H. G. Atma-tattva Däsa
H. G. Ashtaratha Däsa
H. G. Krishëa-kshetra Däsa (Coordinator)

The members of the Deity Worship Research Group welcome any suggestions for improvement of a future edition of this volume, as well as any questions you may have regarding the subject of this book. Please write to the Group Coordinator, Krishëa-Kshetra Däsa, at this address:

Zielberg 20,
D-94118 Jandelsbrunn

PP: Introduction


PP: Why Perform Deity Worship?

Why Perform Deity Worship?

Shrila Rupa Gosvämi has enumerated sixty-four activities by which a devotee in the beginning stage of devotional service (vaidhi-sädhana-bhakti) can engage all his senses in the service of the Lord. Among these he has selected five as principal:

1. Hearing Shrimad-Bhägavatam.
2. Association with advanced devotees.
3. Living in a sacred place, such as Mathurä.
4. Chanting the holy name of the Lord.
5. Serving the Deity form of the Lord with great faith.

Practicing these items assures rapid advancement in devotional service, culminating in pure love for Krishëa.

'The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to reconcile. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can experience dormant love of Krishëa simply by being a little connected with them.' [Chaitanya-caritämrita, Madhya-lilä 22.133, quoting Bhakti-rasämrita-sindhu]

At least thirty-five of the remaining fifty-nine items are directly related to the worship of the Lord in His Deity form (arcä-vigraha). Therefore the last of the five items (Deity worship) is especially significant, since it includes a wide range of activities devotees perform daily. In fact, this single item, arcana, is itself expanded into sixty-four activities, many of which, in turn, find their counterparts among the sixty-four angas (limbs) of devotional service.

PP: The Lord is Present in His Deity Form

The Lord is Present in His Deity Form

Shrila Rupa Gosvämi specifically enjoins devotees to worship the Deity with "full faith:"

shraddhä visheshatah pritih  shri-murter anghri-sevane

'One should have full faith and love in worshiping the lotus feet of the Deity.' [C.c., Madhya 22.130, quoting Bhakti-rasämrita-sindhu]

This faith and love depend on a proper understanding of the Deity's identity:

pratimä naha tumi,-säkshät vrajendra-nandana

My dear Lord, You are not a statue; You are directly the son of Mahäräja Nanda. [C.c., Madhya 5.96]

Out of His causeless mercy, the Lord appears in His arcä-vigraha form so the conditioned souls can see Him and worship Him. By worshiping the arcä-vigraha, the conditioned souls can engage all of their senses in devotional service. By enthusiastically performing sädhana-bhakti and observing all the regulations of arcana, devotees cultivate the understanding that Krishëa is directly present in His Deity form.

As Shrila Prabhupäda says in the Shrimad-Bhägavatam 4.12.17, purport:

Worship of the arcä-vigraha is not idol worship. The arcä-vigraha is an incarnation of the Lord in a form appreciable by a devotee. Therefore devotees engage in the temple in the service of the Lord as arcä-vigraha, a form made of sthula (material) objects such as stone, metal, wood, jewels or paint. All of these are called sthula, or physical representations. Since the devotees follow the regulative principles of worship, even though the Lord is there in His physical form, He is nondifferent from His original, spiritual form. Thus the devotee gets the benefit of achieving the ultimate goal of life, that is to say, becoming always absorbed in thought of the Lord.

PP: Definition and Goal of Arcana

Definition and Goal of Arcana

The regulated worship of the arcä-vigraha is one of the nine processes of devotional service Prahläda Mahäräja lists in Shrimad-Bhägavatam. Rupa Gosvämi gives a specific definition of arcana in Bhakti-rasämrita-sindhu (1.37.137):

arcanam tupacäräëäm syän mantreëopapädanam

Arcana is defined as offering of articles of worship (upacäras)  with mantra after having performed preliminary purificatory activities (purvänga-karmas) such as bhuta-shuddhi and nyäsas.

According to Shrila Rupa Gosvämi's definition of arcana, Deity worship includes a variety of activities, some of which may appear rather technical or even "ritualistic." But if one keeps the goal of Deity worship clearly in mind, then the different aspects of arcana, with its various technical rules and regulations, will be found to serve their purpose, which is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we understand the meaning of arcana-namely formal and regulated offering of respect and service to the Lord-then we may undertake the process of arcana with full faith, enthusiastically performing the prescribed procedures of purification, establishing different articles of worship, and offering worship. Then we will attain the goal of worship-love of Godhead.

Following in the footsteps of Shrila Rupa Gosvämi, Shrila Prabhupäda has given complete instructions on the principles of arcana in both his writings and his personal teachings to disciples. He has also given many details of Deity worship that he intended the devotees to follow. These detailed regulations are all meant to help the devotees become firmly fixed in the primary regulation of devotional service, as the Padma Puräëa states:

smärtavyah satatam vishëur vismärtavyo na jätucit
sarve vidhi-nishedhäh syur etayor eva kinkaräh

Lord Vishëu [or Krishëa] should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the shästras should be the servants of these two principles.

PP: Païcarätrika-vidhi and Bhägavata-vidhi

nnnPaïcarätrika-vidhi and Bhägavata-vidhi

Lord Chaitanya has taught that the primary means of God realization in the Age of Kali is to hear and chant the holy names of the Lord. Therefore hari-näma-kirtana is the essence of all practices by which one can attain constant remembrance of Krishëa. Still, though devotees can come to perfection simply by taking shelter of the holy name, authorities have advised us to engage in Deity worship as an auxiliary sädhana to kirtana, for arcana helps reduce material contamination and nondevotional tendencies. It also brings steadiness to the materially agitated mind, for it impells us to engage many of our senses in directly serving the Lord's all-attractive form. Shrila Prabhupäda writes:

Sometimes neophyte devotees think that they can continue the shravaëa-kirtana process without worshiping the Deity, but the execution of shravaëa-kirtana is meant for highly developed devotees like Haridäsa Thäkura, who engaged in the shravaëa-kirtana process without worshiping the Deity. However, one should not falsely imitate Haridäsa Thäkura and abandon Deity worship just to try to engage in shravaëa-kirtana. [C.c. Madhya 19.152, purport]

Deity worship should be continued along with hearing and chanting. In all the mantras there are specific potencies, of which the grihastha devotees must take advantage ... But if one chants the holy name of the Lord he receives the result of chanting namah [i.e. Deity mantras] many times. By chanting the holy name of the Lord one can reach the platform of love of Godhead ... One might therefore ask what then is the necessity of being initiated [by which one receives Deity mantras]. The answer is that even though the chanting of the holy name is sufficient to enable one to progress in spiritual life to the standard of love of Godhead, one is nonetheless susceptible to contamination because of possessing a material body. Consequently, special stress is given to the arcana-vidhi. One should therefore regularly take advantage of both the bhägavata process and païcarätriki process. [Bhäg. 7.5.23-24, purport]

Temple worship strongly emphasises the aspect of vaidhi-bhakti involving strict regulations, which form the basis of païcarätrika-vidhi. Païcärätrika-vidhi runs parallel to bhägavata-vidhi, in which preaching the Lord's glories and chanting His holy name predominate. When the devotee's natural attraction to the Lord's service and the holy name develops, his understanding of the regulations of païcarätrika-vidhi matures. Then, although he may be on a platform of rägänuga-bhakti, he will follow the rules of païcarätrika-vidhi in public temple worship, where the Lord is worshiped as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Shrila Prabhupäda explains the relationship between païcarätrika- and bhägavata-vidhi in his Shrimad-Bhägavatam purports:

Lord Näräyaëa is worshipable by the païcarätrika-vidhi or regulative principles, whereas  Lord Krishëa is worshipable by the  bhägavata-vidhi ... No one can worship the Lord in the bhägavata-vidhi without going through the regulations of the païcarätrika-vidhi. Although there may be a Rädhä Krishëa vigraha, the worship of the neophyte devotees is acceptable as Lakshmi-Näräyaëa worship. Worship according to the païcarätrika-vidhi is called vidhi-märga, and worship according to the bhägavata-vidhi is called räga-märga ... If we do not follow the regulative principles on the vidhi-märga platform and keep our eyes trained to spot offenses, we will not make progress. [Bhäg. 4.24.45-46, purport]

So, on one side we are cautioned to not neglect arcana on the plea of engaging solely in shravaëa and kirtana, and on the other side we are reminded by Rupa Gosvämi that shravaëa and kirtana are the principal means of sädhana. One cannot neglect the regular practice of chanting the holy name and still expect to make progress in arcana. No limb, or aspect, of bhakti is complete without the chanting of the Lord's name, just as no limb of the body can function without the presence of the soul. Näma-kirtana is the very life of all forms of devotional service. For this reason anyone who wants to worship the Deity must strictly chant a fixed number of rounds daily, as instructed by his spiritual master. Anyone who is lax in his sädhana of chanting will also be lax in his attention to worshiping the Deity. As Shrila Prabhupäda said in a lecture:

But if we are not interested in hearing and speaking, then it will be the same thing-simply formula, that's all, and gradually it will be stopped. Unless there is life of shravaëam kirtanam these big big buildings-temples-will become burden. So if we want to create burden for the future then we might give up this hearing and chanting and sleep very nicely! It will be burden: gala-graha. Not shri-vigraha, but gala-graha. Shri-vigraha means worshipable Deity, so if we give up this shravaëam kirtanam vishëoh, then it will be thought that our Guru Mahäräja has given a burden around the neck: gala-graha. This is the danger. So we must be very much alert in this shravaëam kirtanam, otherwise all this labor will be futile. This building will only be a nest for the doves and the pigeons. This is the danger. [Shrila Prabhupäda lecture, Mäyäpur 10 January 74]

If one is attentive in his service to the holy name, his chanting of the various mantras during arcana will become an effective part of the shravaëa-kirtana process, since the mantras contain the names of the Lord and His associates as well as glorification of His qualities, pastimes, and paraphernalia. Shrila Prabhupäda sums up the relationship between chanting and arcana in a letter:

I am so glad to learn that you are taking very much interest in the Deity worship, and such activities must be accompanied with chanting of the Holy Name regularly. Actually chanting of the Holy Name regularly is our life and soul, and on the basis of such activities all other devotional services will sustain. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 10 February 70]

Since the subject of this book is Deity worship, naturally there is an emphasis on païcarätrika- over bhägavata-vidhi. One should not mistake this emphasis for minimization of bhägavata-vidhi, which is certainly the main thrust of Lord Chaitanya's teachings.

PP: Qualifications for Arcana

Qualifications for Arcana

The Païcarätra-shästra clearly defines the preliminary qualifications a person must have to perform arcana. Family origins and social position are not considerations; all that is required is strong faith in Vishëu, or Krishëa. By the authority of the Païcarätra scriptures, when the spiritual master judges his disciple qualified with sincere faith, he gives the disciple Vaishëava dikshä, also known as païca-samskara, which consists of taking a Vaishëava name, wearing Vaishëava tilaka, wearing Vaishëava symbols, receiving Vaishëava mantras (secret mantras concerning Vishëu or Krishëa), and learning the spiritual master's method of worshiping the Deity. The disciple is then qualified to perform arcana.

Of course, the devotee who is initiated by païcarätrika-mantras is expected to make steady progress in his devotional life, and a significant impetus for such progress is the privilege to perform Deity worship. As a personal servant of the Lord in the temple, one has great responsibility- not only to the Deities but also to all the temple devotees and to the guests who visit the temple. If pujäris are negligent in their services, there can be havoc in the temple owing to the dissatisfaction of the Lord. On the other hand, if the pujäris are Krishëa conscious and dutiful, the Deity worship becomes a most potent form of preaching Krishëa consciousness. As Shrila Prabhupäda wrote in a letter:

So many people are coming to the New Delhi Temple because of the nice Deity worship. This is very good. Keep the standard of Deity worship very nicely.  [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 11 July 76]

When Krishëa is properly served in the temple, the devotees engaged in hari-näma, book distribution, and other forms of preaching become inspired to attract the conditioned souls to visit the temple and receive the Lord's darshana. And when guests come, it is the servants of the Deities who receive them and introduce them to the Lord; hence the pujäris' personal habits and etiquette should be exemplary. Shri Kapiladeva warns us not to allow temple worship to become the basis for maintaining a neophyte mentality:

One who worships the Deity of Godhead in the temples but does not know that the Supreme Lord, as Paramätmä, is situated in every living entity's heart, must be in ignorance and is compared to one who offers oblations into ashes.... My dear mother, even if he worships with proper rituals and paraphernalia, a person who is ignorant of My presence in all living entities never pleases Me by the worship of My Deities in the temple. [Bhäg. 3.29.22-24]

PP: Only Through the Spiritual Master Can We Approach Kåñëa

shrishrishriOnly Through the Spiritual Master Can We Approach Kåñëa

To rise above the neophyte stage, we must cultivate humility. This means that, when serving the Deity, we should be fully aware of our position as humble assistants to our spiritual master. In other words, it is the spiritual master who is performing the worship of the Deity, and by his grace we are allowed to assist. Whatever functions we may perform- whether dressing the Deities or cooking or performing ärati -we are doing them on behalf of our spiritual master. And it is he who is inspiring us and giving us knowledge of how to perform our services properly for the Lord's satisfaction. This idea is clearly expressed by Shrila Vishvanätha Cakravarti Thäkura in his Gurv-añtaka:

The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Shri Shri Rädhä and Kåñëa. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master. [Gurv-añtaka 3]

PP: Variations in Arcana Procedures and Standards of Worship

Variations in Arcana Procedures and Standards of Worship

In the Shrimad-Bhägavatam, Shrila Prabhupäda writes about the flexibility of worship procedures:

Om namo bhagavate väsudeväya. This is the twelve-syllable mantra for worshiping Lord Kåñëa. One should install the physical forms of the Lord, and with the chanting of the mantra one should offer flowers and fruits and other varieties of foodstuffs exactly according to the rules and regulations prescribed by authorities. But this should be done in consideration of place, time, and attendant conveniences and inconveniences.

Purport: The method of worship-chanting the mantra and preparing the forms of the Lord-is not stereotyped, nor is it exactly the same everywhere. It is specifically mentioned in this verse that one should take consideration of the time, place, and available conveniences. [Bhäg. 4.8.54 and purport]

The spiritual master teaches the disciple by example and precept, observing and correcting him in the course of his service. As the servant becomes purified, manifesting Vaiñëava qualities and becoming free of anarthas, the spiritual master entrusts him with increasing responsibility to make decisions, according to circumstances, how best to serve the Lord.

A devotee should see to the right discharge of devotional service under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master and should not stick only to the formalities. Under the direction of the bona fide spiritual should see how much service is being executed, and not simply in the matter of rituals. [Bhäg. 2.8.21, purport]

Variations in the arcana procedures and standards may occur due to varying circumstances of the worshiper. For instance, the standards of one who worships a form of the Lord at home will be different from those of a person who worships a temple Deity. The scriptures describe daily worship by the householder, but this worship, though generally similar to temple worship, is simpler in regard to the number of articles offered, the quality of the articles, the number of services per day, the number of assistants, and the allotment of time. The householder worships according to his means, alone or  assisted by his family members, with whatever articles he can procure, in whatever time he can afford. Temple worship is more strict regarding time and quality of articles, with a high standard of opulence to please the Lord and to attract the minds of the public.

Standards may also vary from temple to temple, depending on manpower, money, and other factors. A general standard, however, is set as a guideline:

From four in the morning until ten at night (from mangala-ärätrika to shayana-ärätrika) there must be at least five or six brähmaëas to take care of the Deity. Six ärätrikas are performed in the temple and food is frequently offered to the Deity and the prasäda distributed. This is the method of worshiping the Deity according to the rules and regulations set by predecessors. [C.c., Madhya 4.87, purport]

Regarding the complexity of worship procedures, Shrila Prabhupäda several times directed his disciples to keep the worship simple: The essential process of self-realization and approaching the Supreme Personality of Godhead is to chant the holy name of the Lord, not to become absorbed in elaborate rituals of Deity worship and become distracted from the mission of spreading Kåñëa consciousness. However, on occasion he also instructed devotees to take direction on Deity worship from certain temples, especially the Rädhä-ramaëa temple in Våndävana, where elaborate worship is performed. When the time comes in our Society that more devotees take up Deity worship as a full-time service for which they receive systematic training, some temples may find it appropriate to establish more elaborate procedures of worship. It should be noted, however, that increasing the complexity of worship procedures does not necessarily increase the standard of worship; it can even be a decrease if not performed in the proper devotional mood. Once standards of cleanliness, regularity, opulence, and elaborateness of worship for a given temple Deity have been set, they should never be whimsically changed or decreased. For example, it would be a very serious offense to reduce the number of daily bhoga offerings after a certain standard is established. Therefore temple authorities should very carefully set standards of worship, following the guidelines of this manual, preferably before installing the Deity. These standards should be set in consultation with devotees expert in the process of arcana. They should be kept in writing as well, so that changes of temple management and pujäris will not affect them.*

ununununPP: The Five Aspects of Worship (païcäìga-püjä)

nununuThe Five Aspects of Worship (païcäìga-püjä)

The Païcarätra scriptures divide Deity worship into five categories (aìgas) of activity. These categories are interrelated and interdependent, making an all-emcompassing program of service. Although the fourth item, ijyä, refers specifically to the direct worship of the Lord, the worship is not complete without the remaining four activities. Here is a brief description of païcäìga-püjä:

1. Abhigamana (approaching the temple). This includes such preliminary functions as bathing, donning fresh cloth, ornamenting the body with tilaka and tulasi beads, cleaning the temple, removing used articles and cleaning them, and decorating the temple. Generally all activities performed up to and including the early-morning maìgala-ärati are considered abhigamana.

2. Upädäna (gathering articles for worship). This includes gathering flowers, suitable foodstuffs, and tulasi leaves, preparing cooked foods, and selecting the proper utensils for the worship. More broadly it refers to collecting funds to worship the Deity or to help maintain the Lord's temple.

3. Yoga (establishing and becoming fixed in one's spiritual identity). This includes cleansing the body of the material conception and assuming a spiritual body fit for service to the Lord, chanting mantras, bhüta-shuddhi (identifying oneself as the servant of the servant of Kåñëa), and other processes. The worshiper further prepares his consciousness by worshiping the spiritual master and Lord Chaitanya before performing the main worship of Kåñëa. Dhyäna (meditation on the form of the Lord) and mänasa-püjä (worship of the Lord within the mind) may also be considered part of yoga. These purificatory procedures, performed just before the main worship of the Deity, are also called pürväìga-karma.

4. Ijyä (worship of the Lord). This refers to the offering of sixty-four items of worship, or upacäras, such as äsana, padya, and snäna.

5. Svädhyäya (cultivation of devotional service). Svädhyäya specifically refers to studying shästra, revealed scriptures, but it can be best understood within the whole context of spiritual cultivation (sädhana), including hearing and chanting the names and glories of the Lord, serving the Vaiñëavas, respecting prasäda, receiving guests, serving tulasi, and serving the holy dhäma. Thus studying the shästra becomes complete when one follows the instructions of shästra and performs these activities.

From this analysis one can understand that arcana consists of much more than simply offering external articles to the Deity of the Lord; rather, it involves various preparatory and supplementary activities, all of which are necessary to ensure devotional purity and concentration, without which external worship simply becomes a dry ritual. One can avoid offensiveness in Deity worship by cultivating purity through attentive observance of the rules of abhigamana and yoga. By practicing svädhyäya, a devotee develops and maintains the proper service attitude. Similarly, by conscientiously applying the details of upädäna to Deity worship, he remains enthusiastic to please the Lord in the best possible way. Together with the worship of the Deity (ijyä), anyone engaged in arcana on the platform of vaidhi-sädhana-bhakti must practice these four aìgas every day.

This manual is intended to help devotees understand the process of Deity worship and to guide them in establishing standards of worship in ISKCON temples. Our main sources of reference have been the instructions of Shrila Prabhupäda, the Founder-äcärya of ISKCON, along with supporting references from the Hari-bhakti-viläsa. Since both Shrila Prabhupäda and the Hari-bhakti-viläsa give general principles rather than details for certain elements of the worship, other païcarätrika and ägama texts have been consulted for details. Furthermore, in the case of activities not explicitly described in shästra or where shästra gives alternative methods, as far as possible we have chosen  Gaudya Vaiñëava traditions and methods.

PP: A Note About Using This Book

A Note About Using This Book

Just as we cannot learn the process of devotional service simply by reading books, we cannot learn the process of arcana simply by following this manual. We must learn arcana under the personal guidance of a bona fide spiritual master or one of his authorized representatives experienced in the process of arcana. This book is meant merely to assist devotees engaged in arcana, but its application-especially the exact application of procedures according to situation-must be learned from a proper guide. In other words, this book is not intended to be a "do-it-yourself" manual. Those who are new to the process of arcana should especially note this, and they should obtain experienced personal instruction in the art of serving the Lord in His arcä-vigraha.

For experienced püjäris, we hope this book will serve as a reference that will broaden their understanding of Deity worship, and act as an aid in teaching it to others. Although this book is meant primarily for devotees who are doing regular Deity worship, all devotees in the Kåñëa consciousness movement may find it helpful as a supplement to The Nectar of Devotion, the "lawbook of ISKCON" as Shrila Prabhupäda called it. This manual (including subsequent volumes) is in fact simply meant to help devotees apply the instructions found in The Nectar of Devotion, particularly in the chapters dealing with vaidhi-sädhana-bhakti.

This book-Volume One of Païcarätra Pradipa-gives general information for daily worship and includes püjä procedures to be followed in most ISKCON temples as well as for home worship. Volume One also has a Supplement (appearing as a seperate book), which includes more detailed and specialized information as well as a more elaborate püjä procedure which could be used in worship of shälagräma-shilä or possibly in worship of other Deities in some ISKCON temples with sufficient facility. While Volume One is essentially complete in itself and may be considered as a reference for Deity worship standards to be followed in ISKCON, the Supplement to Volume One may generally be considered as optional in its application.

Devotional service is by nature dynamic-it brings ever greater opportunities to surrender to the will of the Lord-and thus one who serves Kåñëa in His Deity form will not lack challenges in one's performance of arcana, as outlined in this manual. We hope that by properly implementing these guidelines, the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and the Society as a whole, will greatly benefit, and Shrila Prabhupäda's desire to permanently establish a high standard of Deity worship throughout the world will be fulfilled.

-Bhänu Swami

PP 1: Preparing for Worship
Abhigamana and Upädäna


Preparing for Worship
Abhigamana and Upädäna

As we mentioned in the Introduction, Deity worship involves more than simply offering various items or upacäras to the Lord in a particular order. It also includes procedures that help the body and mind assist, rather than obstruct, one's natural flow of devotion to the Lord when offering the upacäras. Shrila Prabhupäda writes:

Deity worship means to be very, very clean. You should try to bathe twice daily. The Deities should never be approached without having bathed first and changed to clean clothes after passing stool, etc. Keep teeth brushed after each meal, fingernails clean and trim. Be sure that your hands are clean before touching anything on the altar or the Deities. And cleanse the Deity room, altar, and floor daily thoroughly. Shine the various arati paraphernalia after arati ... The idea is summit cleanliness-that will satisfy Kåñëa. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 20 March 1970]

This chapter first describes the methods to purify body and mind so that one can be successful in satisfying the Lord by offering the upacäras. The latter part of the chapter describes the selection and preparation of upacäras for offering.

hhhhPP 1.1: Morning Duties and Remembrance of the Supreme Lord (prätaù-småti-kåtya or abhigamana)

hhhMorning Duties and Remembrance
of the Supreme Lord
(prätaù-småti-kåtya or abhigamana)

Lord Chaitanya instructed Sanätana Gosvämi to explain the various activities one should perform before waking the Lord:

In the morning the devotee should regularly brush his teeth, take his bath, offer prayers to the Lord, and offer obeisances to the spiritual master. He should render service to the spiritual master and paint his body in twelve places with urdhva-puëdra (tilaka). He should stamp the holy names of the Lord on his body, or he should stamp the symbols of the Lord, such as disc and club. After this, you should describe how the devotee should decorate his body with gopi-candana, wear neck beads, collect tulasi leaves from the tulasi tree, cleanse his cloth and the altar, cleanse his own house or apartment, and go the temple and ring the bell just to draw the attention of Lord Kåñëa. [Cc. Madhya 24.332-3]

The goal of the following procedures or rules for waking, cleaning the mouth and body, tying the shikhä, bathing, dressing and decorating the body, is to minimize the tamasic influence of sleep which, though necessary for proper health, brings both physical and mental impurity. These are not rituals or rules for rules' sake (smarta in the negative sense), but are functional for all human beings.

PP 1.2: Waking Up and Remembering the Lord

Waking Up and Remembering the Lord

Lord Kåñëa Himself set the example for waking up and performing early-morning regulated activities, called nitya-kriya:

Lord Kåñëa would immediately get up from bed exactly on the appearance of brähma-muhürta.... After rising from bed, Lord Kåñëa would wash His mouth, hands, and feet and would immediately sit down and meditate on Himself. This does not mean, however, that we should also sit down and meditate on ourselves. We have to meditate upon Kåñëa, Rädhä-Kåñëa. That is real meditation.... After His meditation, the Lord would regularly bathe early in the morning with clear, sanctified water. Then He would change into fresh clothing, cover Himself with a wrapper, and then engage Himself in His daily religious functions. Out of His many religious duties, the first was to offer oblations into the sacrificial fire and silently chant the Gäyatri mantra. Lord Kåñëa, as the ideal householder, executed all the religious functions of a householder without deviation. When the sunrise became visible, the Lord would offer specific prayers to the sun-god. [Kåñëa book, "Lord Kåñëa's Daily Activities"]

To rise early and immediately cleanse both body and mind is important for health and regulation. After slowing down and restoring itself for six hours, the human body naturally activates itself before sunrise. Then, just as we must immediately bathe to get rid of impurities accumulated in and expelled from the gross body during sleep, we must also free ourselves from the subtle impurities exuded as negative thought patterns-lusty desires, fears, and attachments-in the form of dreams, by remembering the Lord and chanting His glories.

The Time of Rising from Bed

Shrila Prabhupäda writes:

The time early in the morning, one and a half hours before sunrise, is called brähma-muhürta. During this brähma-muhürta, spiritual activities are recommended. Spiritual activities performed early in the morning have a greater effect than in any other part of the day.* [Bhäg. 3.20.46, purport]

Waking and Chanting

Shrila Prabhupäda writes:

In the early morning hours (known as brähma-muhürta) one should get up and immediately chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra, or at least 'Kåñëa, Kåñëa, Kåñëa.' In this way, one should remember Kåñëa. Some shlokas or prayers should also be chanted. By chanting, one immediately becomes auspicious and transcendental to the infection of material qualities. Actually one has to chant and remember Lord Kåñëa twenty-four hours daily, or as much as possible. [Cc. Madhya 24.331, purport]

Särvabhauma Bhattäcärya gave the example for chanting upon awakening:

As Särvabhauma Bhattäcärya arose from bed, he distinctly chanted 'Kåñëa, Kåñëa.' Lord Chaitanya was very pleased to hear him chant the holy name of Kåñëa. [Cc. Madhya 6.220]

PP 1.3: Offering Obeisances to the Spiritual Master (guru praëäma)

Offering Obeisances to the Spiritual Master
(guru praëäma)

After waking up and chanting the Lord's name, honor your spiritual master and the Lord by offering praëämas, or obeisances, accompanied by prayers.

By offering obeisances upon awakening, we focus on the goal of surrendering our life to the order of the spiritual master and the service of Kåñëa. Focusing on the positive goal drives away any lingering negative thoughts.

PP 1.4: Evacuating and Cleaning Before Bathing (mala-mütra-tyäga and çauca) and Brushing the Teeth (danta-dhävana)

shshshEvacuating and Cleaning Before Bathing (mala-mütra-tyäga and çauca) and Brushing the Teeth (danta-dhävana)

Shrila Prabhupäda writes:

Prätaù-kåtya means that a devotee should evacuate regularly and then cleanse himself by taking a bath. One has to gargle äcamana and brush his teeth (danta-dhävana). He should do this either with twigs or a toothbrush-whatever is available. This will purify the mouth. Then the devotee should take his bath. [Cc. Madhya 24.331, purport]

For detailed rules regarding these procedures, see the Supplement, pages 180-184.

PP 1.5: Tuft of Hair (çikhä)

Tuft of Hair (çikhä)

According to the Vedic culture, when a person undergoes the cüda-karaëa-samskära (hair-cutting ceremony) and upanayana (Vedic initiation), he must shave his head, leaving a tuft of hair called a çikhä. One must have a çikhä to perform any kind of yajïa. Therefore in Indian tradition all the brähmaëas, Vaiñëava or otherwise, keep a çikhä.

Although there seem to be no çästric injunctions regarding the size of the çikhä, Gaudiya Vaiñëavas traditionally keep the çikhä about the size of a calf's hoofprint, approximately 1.5 inches (5 - 6 cm.) in diameter. Shrila Prabhupäda mentioned this in a conversation with some of his disciples in Hawaii: "Gaudiya Vaiñëava çikhä is an inch and a half across-no bigger. Bigger çikhä means another sampradäya.... And they have to be knotted." (May 6, 1972, Hawaii; Shrila Prabhupäda Lilämåta V, page 93)

The çikhä may be any length, but it should be kept tightly knotted and only untied when you are washing,* cleaning, or oiling it. Also, when going to sleep, attending funeral rites, or observing a period of mourning, you should keep the çikhä untied. Since an untied çikhä is a sign of a death in the family, it is inauspicious to go about one's daily duties with an untied çikhä. It is also said that if one keeps the çikhä untied, the body may become weak.

While tying your çikhä after bathing, chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra, or, if initiated with Gäyatri mantras, silently chant the Brahma-gäyatri (first line of Gäyatri). The çikhä should not be braided (traditionally only women braid their hair), nor should it be kept long and disheveled.*

PP 1.6: Taking a Bath (snäna)

Taking a Bath (snäna)

After waking, evacuating, and appropriate cleansing, you should brush your teeth and then take bath. In describing the daily bath, the Hari-bhakti-viläsa quotes from Kätyäyana-småti, Dakña-småti, Käçi-khaëda, Mahäbhärata, Padma Puräëa, Viñëu Puräëa, Närada Païcarätra, and Gautamiya-tantra.

The Kürma Puräëa says that without taking the prätaù-snäna (bath before sunrise) one remains impure and cannot perform any of the daily activities a civilized person must perform, such as japa, homa, and Deity worship. If a person eats without having bathed, he is said to be eating only filth, for everything he touches becomes as impure as he is. The Padma Puräëa declares that one who does not bathe in the morning is a sinner fit to suffer in hell. Prätaù-snäna is compulsory for all, except those who are ill. In Vedic culture bathing is considered a sacred act to be accompanied by meditation on the Lord and recitation of prayers.

Benefits of an Early-Morning Bath

The scriptures describe the benefits of taking a cold bath early in the morning. Such a bath can purify even a sinner, for it has the power to wash away all external and internal contaminations. Whereas a warm water bath cleanses physically, cold water revitalizes the subtle body, removing the influence of sleep and dreams as well as of evil-minded persons. The cold bath also gives strength, sensitivity, longevity, effulgence, and purity. Taking an early-morning cold bath increases one's knowledge and determination and affords peace of mind. It removes unhappiness, lamentation, degradation, and bad thoughts. In short, it counteracts all the ill effects of sin.

At night the nine holes of the body become filled with waste products, which are continuously produced. The early-morning bath most effectively removes all of this dirt so that the body can begin its daily activities in a fresh state. In this way the early-morning bath has positive physical, mental, and spiritual effects, and is therefore highly glorified in the scriptures.

Types of Bath

There are seven types of bath: pärthiva-snäna (using earth); varuëa-snäna (using water); ägneya-snäna (using ashes from a sacrificial fire); väyavya-snäna (contacting air filled with dust raised by cows); divya-snäna (taking an ethereal bath in the rain that falls while the sun is shining); mantra-snäna (chanting appropriate verses while sprinkling oneself with water); and mänasika-snäna (meditating on Viñëu). Using different elements, all these types of bath purify the body of contamination. However, the daily bath is usually the väruëa-snäna.

Mental Bath (mänasika-snäna)

The mänasika-snäna consists of remembrance of Lord Viñëu. Manu states that the best of baths is the mänasika-snäna. Remembrance of Viñëu is the most powerful means of eradicating all types of sin, as the Hari-bhakti-viläsa states:

(om) apavitraù pavitro vä sarvävasthäm gato 'pi vä
yaù smaret puëdarikäkñam sa bähyäbhyantarah çuciù

Whether pure or impure, or having passed through all conditions of material life, if one can remember the lotus-eyed Kåñëa, he becomes externally and internally clean. [Hari-bhakti-viläsa 3.47; quoted from the Garuda Puräëa]

Therefore, along with all types of bath one must take the mental bath to gain the internal purity that complements external purity. The substance of internal purity is remembrance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Water Bath (väruëa-snäna)

The early-morning bath should normally be a water bath. This is the usual bath for purification.

Source of Bathing Water

Different sources of water have different powers to cleanse. Thus there is a grading of water according to source. In order of preference, beginning with the best, one should bathe in the Yamunä or Gaìgä; in another holy river; at a tirtha (such as the ocean at Jagannätha Püri); a river that runs directly into the sea, (that is, not a tributary); in any river; canal; pond; lake; waterfall; or water drawn from a well, or any other clean water. Traditionally, houses were conveniently located near bathing ghätas on a river or lake, or they had their own private pond for bathing, since bathing was an important part of daily life. But nowadays we generally take a bath where there is a convenient source of clean water.

Rules for Bathing

• Do not bathe naked. Wear a kaupina or a cloth with a tail tucked in at the back (kaccha). This shows respect to the personality of the water and shows that one recognizes bathing to be a sacred act. One should be particularly careful to observe this injunction when bathing in a river or other public place.

Gåhasthas should bathe wearing two cloths. (Besides a kaupina, they wear a second cloth, usually tied around the waist.) Brahmacäris and sannyäsis should wear at least a kaupina when bathing.

• Do not take unnecessary baths. Three times a day plus after any occasion of impurity is sufficient.

• Do not bathe in impure water.

• If you must evacuate, do so before bathing. Otherwise you will be like the elephant who completes his bath by throwing dust on his body.*

• After bathing, do not shake your hair to dry it and do not shake water from your cloth or legs.

• Do not rub oil on your body after bathing. (Oil on the body is considered impure, and thus if you require it you should apply it before taking a water bath.)

• Wring out your bathing cloth and then dry your body with a separate, dry cloth; wiping yourself with your bathing cloth will contaminate you again. However, if you wash and wring out your bathing cloth before drying yourself off with it, you will not become impure.

• After bathing, dry your body with a clean cloth; do not wipe your body with your hands, a dirty cloth, or the edge of the damp cloth you are wearing. The cloth used for drying should be washed after every use.

Alternative Bathing Procedures

The following are alternatives to a cold-water bath:

• If a cold-water bath (väruëa-snäna) is difficult because of ill health, you may take a warm bath. Though a warm-water morning bath is also physically purifying, it does not have the same value as a cool-water morning bath when one is performing a vrata. In this regard, one should refrain from bathing in warm water on the birthday of a son, on a saìkränti (the day a zodiac sign changes from one to another), or during an eclipse of the sun or the moon.

• If even a warm bath is impossible, take a bath without wetting your head, or simply rub the body with a clean, damp cloth. If this is not possible, at least take a mantra bath and a mental bath.

• In the case of women, during your daily bath you need not submerge your head in water and wet your hair. However, you must take a full bath after the monthly contamination period.

Frequency of Bathing

Shrila Prabhupäda writes:

Actually, householders and vänaprasthas should bathe two times a day (prätar-madhyaùnayoù snänam vänaprastha-gåhasthayoù). A sannyäsi should bathe three times daily, and a brahmacäri may take only one bath a day. Whenever a person is not able to bathe in water, he can bathe by chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra. [Cc. Madhya 24.331, purport]

If you are unable to bathe two or three times a day, you should at least bathe once, in the early morning. Thus the early-morning water bath is obligatory for all.

Other Occasions for Väruëa-snäna

Besides taking a water bath in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, one must take such a bath after the following: brushing the teeth; shaving; cutting the fingernails or toenails; having sex; going to the crematorium; touching a woman who is in her period of contamination or who has just borne a child; or touching a naked person, a bearer of a dead body, or a sinful person. Apart from the obvious sanitary effects of bathing after these events, bathing restores the equilibrium to subtle functions of the body which suffer disruption by them.

Forbidden Times for Bathing

During the middle six hours of the night (if one will become unnecessarily chilled) or after a meal, as the digestion will become impeded, bathing is prohibited.

Generally one need not bathe directly after püjä, yajïas, festivals, visits to a tirtha, or other auspicious events, or after meeting with friends. (For example, even if a person touches a caëdäla during a wedding, a festival, or a yajïa, or while near a temple, he does not have to bathe.)

PP 1.7: Vaiñëava Dress (vastra-paridhäna)

Vaiñëava Dress (vastra-paridhäna)

The first rule of dress is that one should never be naked! Shrila Prabhupäda writes:

To cover the lower part of the body is a principle of human civilization, and when a man or woman forgets this principle, he or she becomes degraded. [Kåñëa book, "Deliverance of Nalaküvera and Maëigriva"]

A male devotee should wear a kaupina and an upper and lower cloth; wearing only a lower cloth is improper. The right arm should be uncovered when one performs püjä; so the chädar should be worn either hanging down on both sides of the neck, wrapped underneath the right arm and over the left shoulder, or wrapped around the waist. A hari-näma chädar may be worn only if it does not hang below the waist; otherwise one is likely to offend the holy name by sitting on it.*

There is even an injunction against men wearing an upper cloth of any kind when coming before the Lord in the temple. Shrila Prabhupäda quotes from the tantras as follows:

Any [man] who offers respects and obeisances to the Deity while wearing garments on the upper portion of his body is condemned to be a leper for seven births. [Cc. Antya 12.37, purport]

This rule is still observed in South India. At the Padmanäbha temple in Trivandrum men are not allowed to come before the Deity without first taking off their shirts. Püjäris wear the upper cloth around the waist. This rule does not seem to be strictly followed in North India, however. Although this regulation may not be followed by all (male) devotees, the male püjäris may observe it when offering obeisances before they enter the Deity room to start their service, briefly removing the chädar to offer obeisances.

It is a general standard for men to wear only unsewn cloth on the altar. Again, even this standard is not strictly kept in many temples in North India, where one often sees püjäris wearing kurtas or even T-shirts in cold weather. To avoid wearing sewn cloth (and to avoid getting sick in cold weather) men püjäris may wear more than one chädar, made of raw silk or fine wool.

When worshiping Deities and when cooking, women should be dressed in a säri, with their heads covered. They should not use perfume and should part their hair in the middle and braid it or tie it in a bun.

Unclean and Improper Cloth

A devotee should not wear dirty cloth, especially when cooking or worshiping the Deity. Used cloth that has not been washed and dried again is considered unclean. Cloth worn while sleeping, passing urine or stool, or having sex is unclean. Cloth that touches anything impure, such as wine, meat, blood, a dead body, or a woman in her menstrual period, is also contaminated. Cloth washed by a public laundry service and cloth that, though washed, has become stale are also unclean and therefore unfit to wear during Deity worship.

While worshiping the Deity, you should not wear the following types of cloth: brightly-colored cloth (for men), damp cloth, cloth that is too long or too short to be worn properly, stitched or sewn cloth (for men), torn cloth, oil- or dirt-stained cloth, soiled cloth, burnt cloth, or cloth chewed by animals or insects. However, you may wear silk many times before washing it, provided it has not contacted anything impure or been worn in impure places.

Unbleached, raw matkä (ahimsa) silk is the best for püjä. Sheep's wool is said to be always pure, but still, you should not wear ordinary woolen cloth when worshiping the Deity, because wool particles may fall on the Deity's paraphernalia. However, you may wear wool cloth if it is very fine, "nonshedding" wool, in which case you should reserve these items only for püjä. Synthetic cloth should not be worn when worshiping the Deity.

Color of Cloth

In the Gaudiya Vaiñëava tradition, brahmacäris and sannyäsis, as well as vänaprasthas not living with their wives wear saffron-colored cloth. Gåhasthas and vänaprasthas living with their wives wear either white or yellow cloth. Also, it is common for uninitiated brahmacäris and unmarried "bachelors" to wear white, as the saffron color is reserved for renunciants. On festival days püjäris may wear bright dhotis and chädars of special colors.

One should not wear socks or stockings in the Deity room. (When it's cold, some straw matting or cloth may be spread on the floor during püjä.)

After dressing, one should perform simple äcamana

PP 1.8: Identifying Oneself as a Vaiñëava (vaiñëava-cihnä)

Identifying Oneself as a Vaiñëava (vaiñëava-cihnä)

The Chaitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 24.333) states:

After this, you should describe how one should decorate his body with gopi-candana, wear neck beads...

And in The Nectar of Devotion we find this passage:

Persons who put tulasi beads on the neck, who mark twelve places of their bodies as Viñëu temples with Viñëu's symbolic representations [the four items held in the four hands of Lord Viñëu-conch, mace, disc, and lotus], and who have viñëu-tilaka on their foreheads are to be understood as the devotees of Lord Viñëu in this world. Their presence makes the world purified, and anywhere they remain, they make that place as good as Vaikuëtha. [The Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 9; quoted from the Padma Puräëa]

ddddPP 1.9: Marking The Body with Viñëu-Tilaka (ürdhva-puëòra)

dddMarking The Body with Viñëu-Tilaka (ürdhva-puëòra)

Shrila Prabhupäda glorifies tilaka in the following Shrimad-Bhägavatam purport:

In Kali-yuga one can hardly acquire gold or jeweled ornaments, but the twelve tilaka marks on the body are sufficient as auspicious decorations to purify the body. [Bhäg. 4.12.28, purport]

In the following letters, Shrila Prabhupäda elaborates:

So far as your dress is concerned, that is immaterial. But as a soldier you know that every soldier has got a uniform dress according to the army etiquette of regulation. Therefore, the army of Kåñëa consciousness must have at least the tilaka on the forehead in all conditions. For your business you can wear your naval service uniform; similarly, if you have tilaka on your forehead as a soldier of Kåñëa consciousness, you may not have so much objection, because it is essential. [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 3 August 1969]

All of you except a sannyasi may dress yourself just like a fine up-to-date American gentleman, but one must have the tilak, etc., as I have  mentioned.* [letter from Shrila Prabhupäda, 11 October 1967]

After putting on clean cloth, sit on a purified äsana (preferably a kuça-grass mat) and apply ürdhva-puëòra, or viñëu-tilaka, on twelve parts of the body. You should not apply tilaka in the bathroom.

Tilaka refers to marks placed on the body using various substances. Urdhva-puëòra refers to the two vertical marks placed on the forehead and other parts of the body to indicate surrender to Lord Viñëu. The Padma Puräëa and Yajur Veda state that ürdhva-puëòra symbolizes the lotus foot of Viñëu. The twelve parts of the body on which we place the ürdhva-puëòra marks are not arbitrary points. They are sensitive points that easily absorb the spiritual energy generated by reciting the names of Viñëu and mentally placing the Lord in those positions.

The Padma Puräëa also states that wearing ürdhva-puëòra is a mandatory prerequisite for performing yajïa, charity, austerity, Vedic study, sandhyä rites (such as chanting Gäyatri japa), or indeed any spiritual activity. A person without ürdhva-puëòra is no better than a dead man, and one who wears horizontal marks-in this way breaking the Viñëu temple in the form of the vertical lines of ürdhva-puëòra-goes to hell. The Padma Puräëa recommends that whoever sees such a person should perform some kind of purification, such as looking at the sun or even bathing in a river or pond with his clothes on.

By contrast, to see someone wearing Vaiñëava tilaka is very auspicious. In the Padma Puräëa Lord Shiva says to Pärvati that one who sees a Vaiñëava brähmaëa wearing tilaka is freed from all sin, and if he remembers the name of that Vaiñëava with devotion he obtains the result of giving everything he owns in charity. In the Brahmäëòa Puräëa the Lord says, "Even if born a caëòäla, or dog-eater, whoever wears viñëu-tilaka at the time of death, regardless of where he dies, mounts a Vaikuëtha airplane and ascends to My abode. If a man invites a Vaiñëava wearing tilaka into his home and feeds him, I liberate twenty generations of that man's family from hell."

If a devotee applies the marks of the Lord and chants His name, the Lord becomes pleased and resides with him. In this way the material body becomes a sanctified temple of the Lord. The Brahmäëòa Puräëa states that a devotee who applies his tilaka with great care while looking in a mirror or looking at his reflection in water goes to the Lord's supreme abode.

The tilaka is applied to twelve parts of the body-that is, on the forehead, navel, heart, throat, sides of the abdomen, arms, shoulders, nape of the neck, and lower back. Applying tilaka on these places and reciting Viñëu's names sanctifies and dedicates the body to the Lord's service.

The Hari-bhakti-viläsa mentions that the ürdhva-puëòra may vary in shape, color, and material according to a devotee's sampradäya, but other features are shared. It should not be crooked, uneven, uncentered, dirty, or bad-smelling. On the forehead, the center portion between the two lines should be open from the eyebrows to the hair line, but should be joined at the bottom. The solid portion may extend three quarters of the way down the nose. Lord Viñëu is said to reside in the central portion, while Brahmä resides on the left and Shiva on the right.

Material for Tilaka

Ash, being in the mode of ignorance, and red candana (sandalwood), being in the mode of passion, should not be used for tilaka. Earth, being in the mode of goodness, may be used. The scriptures especially glorify gopi-candana, a special earth from Dvärakä. It is so pure that a cow-killer or any similarly sinful person can become free of sin simply by touching it. The Skanda Puräëa declares that the person who has tulasi, conch, çälagräma-çilä, dvärakä-cakra, and gopi-candana in his house need not fear going to hell. The Garuòa Puräëa assures us that even if a person performs his rites without the proper mantras or fails to perform çräddha rites, if he wears gopi-candana* he still receives the permanent benefits of those activities. The Padma Puräëa quotes Yamaräja as saying that gopi-candana and earth from the base of a tulasi plant are the best materials for making tilaka. If neither of these is available, says the Padma Puräëa, one may use the earth from the top of a mountain, the bank of a river, a pond, the foot of a bilva tree, the seashore, an ant hill, or especially holy places of pilgrimage such as Shri Raìgam, Veìkata-giri, Kürma-kñetra, Varäha-kñetra, Narasimha-tirtha, Dvärakä, or Prayäga. Following in the footsteps of Lord Chaitanya, one may also use mud from Rädhä-kuëòa in Våndävana to make tilaka.

Candana that has been offered to the Deity may also be used as tilaka. If none of the above are available, one may apply tilaka using caraëämåta water from the Deity; if caraëämåta is unavailable, plain water may be used.

Marking the Body with Viñëu's Symbols and Names

Mudrä means symbol. Mudrä-dharaëa refers to wearing marks on the body representing various symbols of the Lord, such as the conch or disc. Some sampradäyas apply mudräs permanently or periodically by pressing hot metal stamps on various parts of the body, either at the time of initiation or on the dvädaçi-tithi at the beginning of cäturmäsya-vräta. Gauòiya Vaiñëavas, however, apply the symbols using gopi-candana. The names of the Lord may also be stamped or written on the body (forehead and chest) with gopi-candana. This is common among Gauòiya Vaiñëavas.

ttTulasé Neck Beads (tulasé-kaëöhé-mälä)

tiiiLike ürdhva-puëòra, beads worn around the neck indicate a devotee's surrender to the Lord, and therefore a person wearing tulasé beads around his neck is dear to the Lord. However, a person is an offender if he wears tulasé neck-beads simply to imitate a Vaiñëava but is not seriously trying to surrender to the Lord. Some devotees also wear other kinds of auspicious mäläs-either made of tulasé beads, lotus seeds, rope from Jagannätha's ratha, or silk pavitras-while performing püjä, japa, or other sacred functions; these should be removed when bathing or leaving the temple or house. The kaëöhé-mälä is worn permanently, for the beads protect one from bad dreams, accidents, attack by weapons, and the servants of Yamaräja. Upon seeing tulasé-mälä, the Yamadütas flee like leaves scattered by the wind.

PP 1.10: Sipping Water for Purification (äcamana)

Sipping Water for Purification (äcamana)

In Shrémad-Bhägavatam we find this statement:

The gopés first executed the process of äcamana, drinking a sip of water from the right hand. They purified their bodies and hands with the nyäsa-mantra and then applied the same mantra upon the body of the child. [Bhäg. 10.6.21]

Acamana, or sipping water, is a means of purification. As immersing the body in water brings about physical and subtle cleansing, so taking water infused with mantras into the body by sipping performs a similar function. Thus where purification is required but it is inconvenient to bathe, äcamana is prescribed.

The general process of äcamana is as follows: While looking into water cupped in your right hand, chant a mantra directed into that water and then sip the water. Then, as you recite more mantras, purify your senses by touching different parts of the upper body. The basic procedure is the same in all types of äcamana. The difference lies in the mantras that are chanted while sipping the water. Thus there are Vaidic, Pauräëic, Shaivite, Tantric, and Vaiñëava äcamanas, which are used in corresponding ceremonies.

In giving the rules for Vaiñëava äcamana, the Hari-bhakti-viläsa quotes from the Käçi-khaëòa, the Yäjñavälkya-småti, the Bharadväja-småti, the Kürma Puräëa, and the Viñëu Puräëa. These rules are summarized as follows:

A devotee should perform äcamana to achieve physical and mental purity before performing spiritual activities such as applying tilaka, chanting Gäyatré and japa, performing püjä and homa, observing a vrata, taking prasäda, reading or reciting çästra or mantras, and meditating.* It is also recommended to perform äcamana after rising from bed, bathing, dressing, touching the lips, eating, going to an impure place, spitting or coughing,  speaking improper words, touching something impure, and returning from a journey. One should perform äcamana twice before performing a homa, chanting Gäyatré, worshiping, eating and giving in charity, as well as after going to cremation grounds, touching the lips, and talking to a caëòäla.

The place where a devotee performs äcamana should be pure-i.e., free from hair, bones, ash, or any other impure item.

The water should be cool, fresh, without bubbles or foul odor or taste, and untouched by fingernails, hair, or any impure item. Rain water, being in the mode of passion, should not be used.

Out of respect for a spiritual activity, you  should not perform äcamana with your head or throat covered; without wearing the sacred thread (for men); with your çikhä untied; without having your kaupéna or cloth tucked in at the back; without first cleaning your hands and feet; with shoes on; while standing; or while sitting on shoes or sitting with your knees or feet showing.

See for äcamana procedures.

PP 1.11: Chanting the Gäyatré Mantra (Gäyatré japa)

Chanting the Gäyatré Mantra (Gäyatré japa)

In the Shrémad-Bhägavatam (11.27.11), Lord Kåñëa instructs Uddhava:

Fixing the mind on Me, the devotee should worship Me by his various prescribed duties, such as chanting the Gäyatré mantra at the three junctures of the day. Such performances are enjoined by the Vedas and purify the worshiper of reactions to fruitive activities.

Brähmaëa-initiated devotees daily chant the Gäyatré mantras-Brahma-Gäyatré and Païcarätrika-Gäyatré mantras-at the three junctions (sandhyäs) of the day, namely sunrise, noon, and sunset. (Brahma-Gäyatré, also known as Sürya-Gäyatré, is the first Gäyatré mantra in the series of mantras chanted by brähmaëa-initiated devotees.) While Lord Chaitanya has emphasized hearing and chanting the holy name as the principal sädhana, He also showed by His own example that those who are interested in spiritual progress must take Vaiñëava (païcarätrika) initiation. Through païcarätrika initiation a devotee receives mantras that further his purification by helping to tame the restless mind and mantras that are used in Deity worship. Thus both chanting the holy name and receiving païcarätrika-mantras from a bona fide guru are fundamental to Lord Chaitanya's movement. Vedic initiation (upanayana-samskära), in which a devotee receives the Brahma-Gäyatré mantra, has not been given a crucial role in the Gauòéya-sampradäya for several reasons. However, Shréla Bhakti-siddhänta Sarasvaté Thäkura practiced this Vedic dékña-samskära in accordance with the païcarätrika philosophy that an initiated Vaiñëava is even more qualified than a brähmaëa. Thus when he gave Vaiñëava païcarätrika initiation he also gave the Vedic mantra (Brahma-Gäyatré). In this way he gave his disciples Vedic initiation. Shréla Prabhupäda, following in his spiritual master's footsteps, has also combined the Vedic and païcarätrika initiations. All Vaiñëavas who take this initiation (mantra-dékña) are duty-bound to chant the Gäyatré mantras received from the spiritual master thrice daily for the rest of their lives.

Chanting the Gäyatré mantras is a spiritual practice that will continue daily for one's entire life, so one should strive to chant them purely, without offense. Before chanting the mantras, you may prepare yourself by performing äcamana,* prokñaëa,* and bhüta-çuddhi *. These will aid concentration.

One who does not chant the Gäyatré mantras at the proper time is considered to have offended Gäyatré-devé, the personification of the sandhyäs.* However, exact punctuality according to local dawn and sunset is not critical, especially in extreme northern and southern countries. Püjärés should chant Gäyatré in the morning before beginning any services related to Deity worship; others may chant morning Gäyatré some time before darçana-äraté. If you neglect to chant the Gäyatré mantra in the morning, you should chant two sets of mantras at noon. One should chant noon Gäyatré between the time the Deities take Their noon offering and the time They are put to rest in the afternoon. If you neglect both morning and noon Gäyatrés, you should chant three sets of mantras during the evening sandhyä. Evening Gäyatré should be chanted no later than the time the Deities take rest. If unusual circumstances make concentrated chanting of Gäyatré either difficult or impossible, you should use your discretion to temporarily adjust your normal schedule for performing Gäyatré japa.

Gäyatré should be chanted in a clean, peaceful place, ideally in front of the Deities. (Of course, this will not be possible in the early morning before the Deity is awakened, but at noon and in the evening it is possible.) Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

It is essential for a devotee to worship the form of the Lord and not only meditate upon the form of the Lord within his mind with the chanting of the mantra given by the spiritual master. [Bhäg. 4.8.56, purport]

The çästra recommends facing east during the morning and noon sandhyäs, and north in the evening. This applies especially if one is outdoors, or where there is no temple or Deity in sight. But if one is in the presence of the Deity or a picture of one's spiritual master, naturally facing the Deity or spiritual master would take precedence over facing the compass directions. (For ceremonial purposes the direction of the Deity is often considered to be east).

You may also chant Gäyatré mantra while standing knee-deep or waist-deep in a river, or while sitting or standing on the bank of a river. Avoid chanting in a moving vehicle, since distraction is likely; nor should you chant while sitting on a bed, since it is inherently contaminated. Out of respect, you should not chant with your back to a temple, a body of water, fire, or a pippal tree. You should be properly bathed and dressed, with Vaiñëava tilaka and tied çikhä. Your hands should be covered with your upper cloth while chanting, and you should chant the mantras silently. Although wearing or holding the upavéta thread is not integral to chanting Gäyatré mantras, while chanting the mantras Gauòéya Vaiñëavas traditionally wrap the upavéta thread two and a half times around the right thumb. Shréla Prabhupäda followed this practice.

You should know the meaning of the mantras you are chanting. You should concentrate on the mantras and not engage in other activities simultaneously, such as talking, looking here and there, or pacing back and forth. Avoid yawning, dozing, scratching yourself, or cleaning your nose while chanting. If an important person such as a senior Vaiñëava comes while you are chanting Gäyatré, you should interrupt your Gäyatré japa, give a proper reception, and then with the senior Vaiñëava's permission resume your activities.

Brähmaëa Thread (yajïopavéta or upavéta)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

The sacred thread is a sign of those who are competent to study the Vedas from the äcärya, or the bona fide spiritual master... The spiritual master accepts only the sincere inquirer as his disciple and gives him the sacred thread. [Bhäg. 1.2.3, purport]

The upavéta is given to a qualified person who receives Vedic Gäyatré mantra. It signifies that he has accepted a spiritual master and is qualified to study the Vedas. The upavéta also represents the upper cloth in case of an emergency when a devotee must perform a ceremony but has no upper cloth. According to tradition, women do not wear the upavéta. Rather, the husband wears an additional three strands of thread in his upavéta on behalf of his wife.

Keep your upavéta thread clean by washing it daily during your bath; do this not by removing it from your body but by rubbing it with soap and scrubbing it between your hands. While evacuating, keep the thread wrapped around your right ear. (Since all the holy térthas reside in the right ear, the thread remains pure in that position even as the rest of the body becomes impure.) After çauca is completed, the thread may be restored to its normal position. One should not be without the upavéta at any time.*

PP 1.12: Cleaning and Decorating the Temple

Cleaning and Decorating the Temple

Lord Kåñëa gives detailed instructions to Uddhava on mandira-märjana in the Eleventh Canto of Shrémad-Bhägavatam:

One should consider oneself to be My humble servant, without duplicity, and thus should help to clean the temple, which is My home. First one should sweep and dust thoroughly, and then one should further cleanse with water and cow dung. Having dried the temple, one should sprinkle scented water and decorate the temple with maëòalas. One should thus act just like My servant. [Bhäg. 11.11.39]

The temple area (kértana hall) should be cleansed at least once daily with plain water or water mixed with a little cow dung. Ideally it should be cleansed before the maìgala-äraté.

Especially on festival days the temple should be decorated with flowers and leaves, and if possible with rice-flour designs on the floor. In South India it is still customary for the women to draw these designs daily in the morning, both in temples and in front of private houses and huts. Such designs are not merely decorative; they are also functional, for the geometric designs drive away the malefic vibrations of evil persons and attract auspiciousness.

PP 1.13: Gathering Items for Worship (upädäna)

Gathering Items for Worship (upädäna)

Before starting the worship, gather all the required utensils and paraphernalia. The following section contains some considerations regarding utensils and the ingredients for the upacäras, as well as the means of purifying various items.

Utensils for Worship (dravya)

Conch (çaìkha)

The çaìkha embodies the qualities of power, purity, and beauty, and it also represents mokña. Being a constant companion of the Lord, the conch is worshipable. All térthas in the world reside in the water within the conch. Just seeing or touching the çaìkha destroys one's sins. The Lord is generally bathed with water from a conch; you may also use the conch for offering pädya, arghya, and äcamana. The conch is always placed on a three-legged stand.

Bell (ghaëöä)

The sound of a bell embodies all music. If a devotee lacks instruments and kértana he should simply ring a bell, for that sound in itself is dear to the Lord. Thus one should worship the püjä bell before worshiping the Lord, as an item of His paraphernalia that is very dear to Him. Many functions of worship require that one ring a bell with a handle.*

The çästra states that one who, while worshiping the Lord, rings a bell with a symbol of Garuòa or the Lord's cakra on it attains liberation from birth and death.

Vessels (päträëi)

Containers for items such as äcamana and padya as well as pätras for gandha, flowers and tulasé leaves may be made of various substances and have various colors and shapes (a lotus, for example). One may use vessels made of copper, gold, silver, bell-metal, stainless steel, clay, stone, wood (such as coconut shells), or brass. The Varäha Puräëa states that the best of all vessels are those made of copper: "[They] are the purest of the pure, the embodiment of all auspiciousness." While vessels of gold and silver are certainly pure, a container made of copper is not only pure but also purifies the water it contains. As the Lord states in the Varäha Puräëa (quoted in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa):

I am more pleased by containers made of copper than by those made of gold, silver, or bell-metal.

However, sour substances such as yogurt and lemon should not be kept in copper containers. Therefore madhuparka* is best kept in a silver cup.

Pätras for padya, arghya and äcamana should each have a spoon. If you are offering pure water alone for all these items, including madhuparka, you may use one receptacle for all of these combined. Usually a vessel called a païca-pätra is used for this purpose.

The snäna-pätra (receptacle for bathing the Deity) should be copper, brass, or bell-metal. One may place the Lord on açvattha leaves, banana leaves, or lotus leaves for the bathing ceremony. The best type of snäna-pätra (also called snäna-vedi) has an opening on one side with a long lip, allowing the caraëämåta to drain off into a seperate receptacle. If the snäna-pätra has no such drain, you can empty the bathing receptacle into the caraëämåta receptacle after bathing and drying the Deity.

To supply bath water and meet any other water requirements, fill a large, covered pot (kälasa or loöä), preferably made of copper, and keep it nearby throughout the worship. Another empty container, open at the top, may be used as a throw-out pot (visarjanéya-pätra) for all items that have been offered. You may keep yet another small water pot with a spout or simply a cup with a spoon (hasta-prakñälana-pätra) within reach for washing your hands during the püjä.

As for other pätras, holders for dhüpa and dépa (incense and lamps) can be of brass, bell-metal, silver, copper, or clay.

The naivedya-pätra, the plate upon which bhoga is offered, may be made of gold, silver, copper, bell-metal, earthenware, paläça wood, or a lotus leaf. Although çästra does not mention it, stainless steel may also be used. Avoid using aluminum if at all possible. Shästra specifies three standard sizes for the plate: the smallest is twelve fingers in diameter (nine to ten inches, or about twenty-two cm.), twenty-four fingers is medium sized, and thirty-six fingers in diameter is best.

Ingredients for Worship


Padya, water for washing the Lord's lotus feet, traditionally contains four items: lotus petals, tulasé leaves, darbha grass, and çyäma-dhänya (grain). Alternatively, you may simply add rose-water or rose-petals to fresh water.


The arghya mixture may contain flowers, white rice, barley, sesame, darbha grass, kuça tips, white mustard seeds, and gandha (sandalwood paste)-all mixed with water-or it may consist of yogurt, milk, white rice, kuça tips, barley, sesame, and white mustard seeds-all mixed with water. Alternatively, you may simply add sandalwood paste to fresh water. The water for the arghya upacära may be either the samänya-arghya* water or the viçeña-arghya* water


Acamana, water for sipping, may contain ground nutmeg, ground clove, and kakkola-berry scent, which make it refreshing for the mouth.


  Madhuparka, composed of the auspicious elements of cow milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, and sugar, is a high-class refreshment given to a respected person. Alternatively, you may offer a mixture of yogurt, honey, and ghee. If honey is unavailable you may use guòa (raw sugar); if ghee is unavailable you may use puffed rice, and if yogurt is unavailable you may use milk. According to some authorities, madhuparka should have four parts honey and one part of each of the remaining ingredients.

Oils (taila)

In some temples the püjärés offer different oils according to the season. For example, in Våndävana püjärés commonly offer rüh khuç during summer, kadamba and rose during the rainy season, jasmine during autumn, and hinä (myrtle) during winter. Avoid offering synthetic oils, which contain impure chemicals such as alcohol.

Bathing Ingredients

The principal element of the bath is pure water, with certain restrictions. Do not collect the water at night, nor touch it with your fingernails. In descending order of quality, the best water for bathing the Deity is Gaìgä or Yamunä water, then water from any tértha, water from a river that flows directly to the ocean, water from a tributary river, water from a natural spring, lake, pond, or man-made reservoir, water from a well, and finally water from a pot. Bring the water to a pleasant temperature for bathing, depending on the weather-cooler in warm weather and warmer in cool weather.

By adding various ingredients, one may prepare many kinds of water for bathing the Deity. Thus, especially in elaborate worship, one may bathe the Lord in flower water, scented water, mantra water, kuça water, tértha water, tulasé water, jewel water, gold water, sarvauñadhi water (containing murä, jatämämsé, vacä, kuñöha, çailaja (bitumen), turmeric, däru-haridrä, çaöhé, campaka, and mustä), coconut water, camphor water, or banana water. One may also bathe the Lord in various kinds of fruit juice. (We provide a complete description of an abhiñeka in this manual, Naimittika-sevä.)

Soft Towels for Drying (aìga-vastra)

 The towels for drying the Lord, as well as the cloth offered in äraté, should be pure cotton or pure silk. For towels, cotton is better than silk because it is absorbent and can be washed repeatedly.

Dress for the Lord (vastra)

The Lord should be dressed in upper and lower cloth that is durable, soft (not scratchy), clean, untorn, never worn by others, scented, and of variegated colors. The scriptures allow for various local styles in dressing the Lord, but traditional dressing, like traditional cooking, is very dear to Him.

The scriptures say little concerning what colors of clothing to use on different days, but temples use their own traditional colors according to day and season (the Jagannätha temple in Puré, for instance). Many temples in Våndävana dress the Deity in the color corresponding to the planetary gem of the ruling planet of the day of the week: gold (for the metal gold) or red (for ruby) on Sunday, white or silver (for pearl) on Monday, red or pink (for coral) on Tuesday, green (for emerald) on Wednesday, yellow or orange (for yellow sapphire) on Thursday, white, silver, gold, multicolor, or any color (for diamond) on Friday, and purple, blue, or black (for blue sapphire) on Saturday.*

While this color scheme can be followed, it is not essential. As Shréla Prabhupäda writes, "All colors may be utilized just suitable to your scheme." (letter from Shréla Prabhupäda 16 January 1970)

Synthetic fabric is allowable for Deity dresses, although natural fabrics such as silk and cotton are best.

The Deities should be dressed in clothing suitable to the season-warm clothing in the cold season, light in the hot season. Dressing Deities according to season is prominent in traditional temples in Våndävana.

Shréla Prabhupäda was displeased when devotees failed to dress the Deities in clothing suitable to the weather:

It is not at all good that the Deities do not have warm clothing for the cold weather. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 7 November 1975]

Tulasé Leaves and Buds

If fresh tulasé leaves are unavailable, you may use dry tulasé leaves for offering bhoga and for placing on the Lord's lotus feet. If no tulasé leaves are available, during püjä you may touch tulasé wood to the Lord's body as an offering of tulasé, and before offering the Lord's meal you may sprinkle the offering lightly with water containing ground tulasé wood. If even tulasé wood is unavailable, you should chant the name of Tulasé-devé and perform the worship meditating on her presence.

(See instructions on worshiping tulasé and plucking her leaves.)


Since precious metals and precious stones attract thieves, Shréla Prabhupäda instructed devotees to decorate Deities with synthetic jewelery. However, semi-precious stones and silver generally may be used, with due consideration for protection of the Deities and Their paraphernalia.

Sandalwood Paste

Gandha may consist of sandalwood pulp with a pinch of aguru (aloes) and camphor, or two parts musk, four parts sandalwood, three parts kuìkuma, and one part camphor. Finely ground tulasé wood may also be added.*


The Hari-bhakti-viläsa dedicates an entire chapter to the subject of flowers. Flowers are a very important item in Deity worship, and thus we should take great care to offer the best flowers possible. Ideally the Deity should have His own flower garden so that He has a plentiful supply of flowers, at least seasonally. (See a list of offerable & unofferable flowers.)

If flowers are unavailable, you may offer leaves (especially tulasé, jambu, mango, ämalaké, çamé, and tamäla leaves) or newly grown grass shoots. If neither leaves nor grass are available, you may substitute pure water.

 Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

There is no question of using paper [or] plastic fruits and flowers for worshiping the deities. If no fresh fruits or flowers are available, then you can decorate with some fresh leaves. You have seen our temples; nowhere do we use such things.... We are not after decoration; we are after devotional service for pleasing Krishna's senses. Decoration must be there, of course, to make the temple as opulent as possible for pleasing Krishna. Outside the temple, you can use the plastic ornaments. But not for worship. For daily worship there must be fresh fruit, flowers, and leaves. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 26 December 1971]
Kåñëa belongs to the village atmosphere of Våndävana, and He is very fond of flowers.  As far as possible try to increase the quantity of flowers. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 13 June 1970]

Incense (dhupa)

Incense may be of many varieties. It is popular nowadays to offer incense sticks (agarbaööé), since they are convenient to light and offer. Strictly speaking, one can be reasonably sure that all purchased incense sticks contain impure substances-chemicals and possibly even animal products. Even "pure sandalwood" incense is likely to be synthetic. These impurities do not make such products unofferable, any more than synthetic jewelery is unofferable. Nonetheless, a higher standard would be to offer only completely pure, non-chemical incense. Ideally, you could make your own combinations of scents that you can make into sticks or burn on charcoals made for this purpose which are available in the market. Such ingredients as the following can be combined in various proportions: frankincense (also rarely available in pure form), camphor, jaggery, honey, sandalwood powder, cowdung; and spices like fenugreek, coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. You can form small, rough balls by using dry-roasted rice flour or barley flour as a base, mixing in ingredients from the above list, and binding the compound with ghee; these balls are then dried. You can then dip the balls in mustard oil before offering them on a burning coal or piece of dried burning cowdung.

Lamps (dépa)

Ghee lamps offered in äraté vary widely in shape and size. Traditionally, a ghee lamp must have an odd number of wicks, and more than three. The standard number of wicks for a full äraté is five (païca-dépa); on special occasions one may offer lamps with more wicks or offer five separate lamps in sequence (this is another meaning of païca-dépa). One may also use a flat metal plate as a lamp by placing ghee wicks along the edge of one side, or by placing camphor in the center. Certain types of lamp use long, thin ghee wicks made of cotton wrapped around a kuça-grass stalk. Lamps are usually made of silver, bell-metal, brass, copper, and sometimes clay.

The technique for making ghee wicks that burn properly-with just the right amount of ghee, and tapered to a fine point-must be learned from an expert.

Food Offerings (naivedya)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

As far as the eatables are concerned, all items should be first-class preparations. There should be first-class rice, däl, fruit, sweet rice, vegetables, and a variety of foods to be sucked, drunk, and chewed. All the eatables offered to the Deities should be extraordinarily excellent. [Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport]

Forbidden foods

Common forbidden foods include meat, fish, eggs, onions, mushrooms, garlic, masür-däl (red lentils), burned rice, white eggplant, hemp (marijuana), citron,* saps from trees (if not boiled first), buffalo- and goat-milk products, and milk with salt in it.* Also, one should not offer canned or frozen foods to the Deity, and it is best to avoid offering foods containing unhealthy substances such as yeast and white sugar.

Shréla Prabhupäda comments:

Frozen means nasty. I never take frozen.... All rotten, rather the same vegetable, as we have got in India practice, we dry it and keep it. That is tasteful. [conversation with Shréla Prabhupäda, Våndävana, 3 November 1976]

So far the cucumber pickles: As far as possible we should not offer to the Deity things which are prepared by nondevotees. We can accept from them raw fruits, grains, or similar raw things. So far cooking and preparing, that should be strictly limited to the initiated devotees. And aside from this, vinegar is not good; it is tamasic, in the darkness, nasty food. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 24 March 1969]

Concerning the use of sour cream in the temple, it should be stopped immediately. Nothing should be offered to the Deities which is purchased in the stores. Things produced by the karmis should not be offered to Radha-Krishna. Icecream, if you can prepare, is O.K., but not otherwise. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 6 April 1976]

Unpolished rice which looks like brown can be used... We do not mind polished or unpolished, but doubly-boiled* [siddha rice] mustn't be used. Doubly-boiled rice is considered impure. Sunbaked rice (atapa) is all right. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 17 October 1967]

Soya beans and lentils are unofferable. [personal instruction by Shréla Prabhupäda to Hådayänanda däsa Gosvämé]

Regarding purchasing things in the market, these items are considered as purified when we pay the price for them. That is the general instruction. But when we know something is adulterated, we should avoid it. But unknowingly if something is purchased, that is not our fault. Things which are suspicious, however, should be avoided. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 21 October 1968]

Since it is offensive to offer anything to Kåñëa that He will not accept, one should be extremely cautious not to offer (or eat) anything questionable.

Offerable foods

The Hari-bhakti-viläsa lists some of the foods that may be offered: bilva, ämalaké,  dates, coconut, jackfruit, grapes, täla fruit, lotus root, leafy vegetables, cowmilk products, and items made from grains, ghee, and sugar.

Grains, especially rice, should always be offered with ghee. Rice without ghee is considered asuric. The Lord is pleased when offered items made with ghee, sugar, yogurt, guòa (jaggery), and honey; chickpea preparations, däls, soups (wet sabjés), varieties of cakes, and other items that can be licked, chewed, sucked, or drunk are all pleasing as well.

One may also offer drinks such as sugarcane juice, yogurt drinks, sweetened lemon water, water flavored with cinnamon, camphor, or cardamom, and fruit drinks of various scents and colors.

Many passages in the Chaitanya-caritämåta describe preparations that please Kåñëa. Here is a sample, from Antya-lélä, describing what Lord Chaitanya's associates would prepare for Him:

They offered [Him] pungent preparations made with black pepper, sweet-and-sour preparations, ginger, salty preparations, limes, milk, yogurt, cheese, two or four kinds of spinach, soup made with bitter melon [çukta], eggplant mixed with nimba flowers, and fried paöola.   [Cc. Antya 10.135-136]

In a letter Shréla Prabhupäda described foods in the mode of goodness and how to present them to the Lord:

Foodstuffs in the modes of goodness are wheat, rice, pulse (beans, peas), sugar, honey, butter, and all milk preparations, vegetables, flowers, fruits, grains. So these foods can be offered in any shape, but prepared in various ways by the intelligence of the devotees. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 13 November 1968]

In his Chaitanya-caritämåta, Shréla Prabhupäda describes the best type of rice for Deity offerings:

In India çukla-cäval (white rice) is also called ätapa-cäval, or rice that has not been boiled before being threshed. Another kind of rice, called siddha-cäval (brown rice), is boiled before being threshed. Generally, first-class fine white rice is required for offerings to the Deity. [Cc. Antya 2.103, purport]

A devotee may offer bona fide foods considered delicacies by the local people or preferred by him or his family.* In commenting on a çloka stating that one may offer his own or local favorites, Sanätana Gosvämé writes that this means that even though people in general may not like a certain food, if a person prefers it he may offer it. But this refers to foods the scriptures approves, not those they forbid. Thus if one is fond of a forbidden food, one cannot offer it to the Lord. And thus one cannot eat it. Also, one should not offer even permissible foods that are tasteless, unpalatable, inedible, impure for any reason, or eaten by insects, animals, or people.

If nothing else offerable is available, one may offer fruit alone. If even fruit is unavailable, one may offer edible herbs. And if herbs are not available, one may offer pure water while meditating on offering elaborate preparations. If even water is unavailable, one should at least mentally make an offering of bhoga.

Size of the Lord's Offering

Shréla Prabhupäda writes in his Chaitanya-caritämåta:

[Kåñëa] does not become hungry like an ordinary human being; nonetheless, He presents Himself as being hungry, and as such, He can eat everything and anything, regardless of quantity. The philosophy underlying Kåñëa's eating is understandable by our transcendental senses. [Cc. Madhya 4.77, purport]

And in a letter Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

Regarding prasädam offering to the Deities, you will take from the cooked foodstuffs in a plate just sufficient for one man's eating, and this prasädam should be offered to the Deity, not the whole quantity. The rest of the foodstuffs may remain in the oven to keep it hot until the devotees accept and honor it.* [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 14 February 1969]

In Australia Shréla Prabhupäda instructed devotees to offer bhoga portions to Kåñëa as one would for a very hungry sixteen-year-old boy. There he also specified a certain number of purés to be offered with the last evening bhoga offering: Either six large, eight medium, or sixteen small purés should be on Kåñëa's plate.

Kitchen Standards

Just as we must select pure, excellent foods to offer to Kåñëa, so we must also prepare them purely. To prepare food for the Lord, one must meticulously observe the rules for cleanliness and take the utmost care to prepare the food properly, maintaining the correct consciousness so that the Lord will accept the offering.

Because the consciousness of those who prepare food enters into the food-especially where cooking is involved-cooking for the Deities is restricted to devotees with brähmaëa initiation. If a devotee shows brahminical qualities of cleanliness, purity and steadiness-and thus appears qualified to cook for the Deities-it may be appropriate for him to approach his spiritual master to request brahminical initiation.

Shréla Prabhupäda stressed that only brähmaëas should cook for the Lord. He writes:

Regarding the cooking, a non-brahmin may assist but he cannot cook. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 24 November 1974]

You should see that the Deity is tended for and cooked for only by the duly second initiated brahmins. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 19 December 1974]

As far as possible non-initiated devotees may not enter the kitchen or Deity area. They can help from outside. Just take care of them so that they may become pure devotees. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 4 April 1971]

Unless one is initiated, he cannot cook. One must be regular disciple; then he can do Deity worship. There is no question of the outsiders cooking in the New Delhi temple. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 11 July 1976]

The Hari-bhakti-viläsa underscores this point:

Food (especially grains) which is cooked by non-Vaiñëavas or by sinful people, or which has not been offered to Viñëu, is the same as dog meat.

One should clearly understand the principles of cleanliness-how a person or object becomes contaminated, how contamination is transferred, and how things are purified.

The consciousness of the cook enters into the food he prepares, and therefore he should strive to be Kåñëa conscious while in the kitchen. The kitchen, where the Lord's food is prepared, is an extension of the Deity room, where He eats. So the same high standard of cleanliness should be maintained in both places.

Shréla Prabhupäda emphasized that devotees should always maintain the strictest standards of cleanliness. He writes:

The main thing is that whenever prasädam is offered to the Lord, everything should be very respectfully and cleanly presented and prepared. In Jagannath Puri, the Lord eats fifty-six times. So the Lord can eat as many times as you can offer. But the only thing is, whatever is offered must be with respect and devotion.... food which has been offered should never be put back into the refrigerator with the unoffered foods, or brought back into the kitchen... Refrigerator should always be very clean and pure... If there is any food extra, that should be kept separately; and if there is a separate refrigerator, not within the kitchen and not having in it any unoffered foods, then you may have such special refrigerator for leftover prasädam... One should never eat within the kitchen; there is ample place to eat, so why should one eat in the kitchen? Kitchen should be considered as good as the Lord's room, and nobody should wear shoes in the kitchen. Smelling and tasting of foods being prepared for the Lord should never be done. Talking within the kitchen should be only what is necessary for preparing the prasädam or about the Lord, and dirty dishes (those taken from the kitchen and eaten from) should not be brought back into the kitchen (but if there is no other place to wash them, then they should be put into the sink and washed immediately), hands should always be washed when preparing prasädam, and in this way everything shall be prepared very cleanly and purely. What is the difficulty of enforcing these rules? They are rules, and they are simple rules, and must be followed. One must be prepared to follow the rules for Krishna. Otherwise where is the proof that he loves Krishna. And they are not very difficult to follow. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 16 June 1968]

It is very offensive to the Deity to allow stored foods to go rotten before using them for offerings. Cooks should know which items are available and use them while they are fresh. Shréla Prabhupäda wrote:

In the kitchen you should please see that nothing is wasted. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 10 November 1975]

If, in the cooking process, food falls on the floor, if it is raw and can be washed nicely, then it can be offered. But if it is prepared and cannot be washed, then it is not to be offered, but can be eaten rather than be wasted. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 15 February 1968]

Kitchen Rules

Kitchen Dress

• Cover your hair so as to avoid any hair falling into a preparation. If there is even a single hair in the food being offered to the Lord, it is a great offense.

• Do not wear wool in the kitchen.

• All clothing must be clean-that is, it must not have been worn in the bathroom, when eating or sleeping, or outside the temple grounds.

Personal Cleanliness

• You should be freshly showered and wearing tilaka and neckbeads.

• Wash your hands when first entering the kitchen, and wash them again if you touch your face, mouth, or hair, or if you sneeze or cough (having-hopefully-covered your mouth).

Food Purity

• After assembling the ingredients for cooking, wash all vegetables and fruits and anything else that can be washed.

• If something washable falls on the floor or in a sink, wash it off; if it is unwashable, reject it. Discard anything that falls on your feet, whether it is washable or not.

• The cook should cover all preparations as soon as they are cooked. If an animal sees a preparation before it is offered, it must be rejected. No one except the cook and the püjäré should see the unoffered food.

• The kitchen staff should cover the ghee used for frying when it is not in use. Old ghee should be replaced regularly with fresh ghee.

• See to it that all ingredients are properly stored in closed containers.

Kitchen and Utensil Cleanliness

• Devotees who serve in the kitchen should thoroughly clean it regularly, including inside the stoves, ovens, and refrigerators. (Regular cleaning with cowdung is advisable.)

• The cleaners should scrub the pots after they are used (the sooner they are cleaned after use, the easier they are to clean).

• No one should eat or drink in the kitchen; nor should anyone use the sink for spitting into or drinking from.

• Remove all garbage from the kitchen at least once a day.

• Do not store or "stash" prasäda in the kitchen. As soon as possible after the offering, and after the offering plates have been washed, remove all the prasäda from the kitchen.

Maintaining Proper Consciousness

• Allow yourself enough time to prepare the offering in good consciousness. "Haste makes waste."

• Conversation should be restricted to kåñëa-kathä.

• Do not play recordings of popular-style music in the kitchen. Traditional bhajana and kértana recordings are appropriate.

• The simultaneous presence of men and women in the kitchen should be avoided as far as possible.

Usually only Vaiñëavas should be allowed in the kitchen, since only trained devotees can properly understand and follow all these rules.

Deep-frying should be done in pure ghee, if possible. Ghee used for frying should be regularly replaced. (Ideally, ghee and other oils should be used only once, since each reheating reduces their digestibility. An expert Deity cook will use a minimum amount of ghee for deep-frying and use the remainder for making halava or mixing into rice.) If ghee is not available or cannot be made, you may use vegetable oil, such as coconut, mustard, sunflower, or peanut oil.

Kitchen Utensils

As far as possible, cooks should avoid using plastic utensils or containers. Spices are best stored in porcelain or clay containers, or may be stored in brass or stainless steel containers.

The best cooking pots are made of stone. Clay pots (used only once) are ideal for cooking rice. Bell-metal and copper pots, unless tinned on the inside, should not be used for any sour preparation (those containing tomatoes or yogurt), but are very good for all other preparations. Cast iron, if not rusted, may be used for frying but never for boiling; stainless steel, although not considered very high class, may also be used. Cooks should avoid using aluminum pots (they are rather poisonous) or those made of enameled steel, which can chip and contaminate the offering.

PP 2: The Sixty-four Items of Worship


The Sixty-four Items of Worship

The Hari-bhakti-viläsa lists sixty-four upacäras for daily Deity worship. Upacäras are the various articles or services offered to the Lord during worship. In this chapter we will present the sixty-four upacäras, listing them sequentially according to the daily schedule of service.* Wherever appropriate, we will explain briefly the function of the various upacäras and mention any general regulations governing the offering of the items. You will find specific procedures for offering the upacäras in Chapters 3, 4, and in the Supplement.

Within the sixty-four upacäras one will find the sixteen basic items (ñoòaçopacära) offered during the morning püjä. Most of these sixteen basic items are offered several times throughout the day in various ways, and some of these articles have corrollary ones that may be offered with the basic items. In this way the list of upacäras expands from sixteen to sixty-four. Shréla Sanätana Gosvämé points out that one may offer even more items not specifically mentioned in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa, especially on festival days. Thus the worship of the Deity is not limited to sixty-four items. It is not expected that in every temple one will offer all sixty-four items every day, but most of the items can be offered in temples with at least one full-time püjäré. As Shréla Prabhupäda writes, "Sometimes it is impossible to get all sixty-four items; therefore we recommend that at least on the first day of installation all sixty-four items should be available. When the [Deity of the] Lord is established, worship with all sixty-four items should continue as far as possible" (Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport).

PP 2.1: The Sixteen Basic Upacäras (ñoòaçopacära-püjä)

The Sixteen Basic Upacäras (Shoòaçopacära-püjä)

In the morning püjä, one should offer the principal Deities at least the sixteen basic upacäras, especially if the Deities are in a public temple. Other Deities (either additional Deities in the temple or personal Deities at home) may be offered twelve, ten, or five upacäras during the morning worship, depending on one's means and time.* Püjärés commonly offer only two or three upacäras in various types of preliminary worship, such as worship of Deity-room doorkeepers, worship of paraphernalia such as the bell, or worship of the Lord's abode (péöha-püjä).


The Sixteen Basic Upacaras






16 items

12 items

10 items

5 items

3 items

2 items







1. äsana






2. svägata




3. padya




4. arghya




5. äcamana




6. madhuparka




7. punar-äcamana




Bathing and Dressing






8. snäna






9. vastra


10. alaëkara








11. gandha






12. puspa






13. dhüpa






14. dépa





15. naivedya





Concluding Activities






16. praëäma







The single upacära that must be offered, with or without the other upacäras, is bhakti.

PP 2.2: The Sixty-four Upacäras

The Sixty-four Upacäras

The list of sixty-four upacäras begins with early-morning services to the Deity, including waking Him, offering obeisances, and offering maìgala-äraté. These activities are called jägaraëa-sevä. What follows is a list of the sixty-four items of worship, with appropriate explanations.

[1] Waking the Lord (jägaraëa-sevä)

[1] Waking the Lord by chanting of the Vedas, stutis, and other verses accompanied by musical instruments, thus offering oneself submissively to the Lord before entering the Deity room for püjä (veda-ghoñanä-vénädi-vädyair vandé-stavair prabodhanam)

Traditionally, in large temples devotees chant Vedic verses to awaken the Lord in the temple. In the Veìkaöeçvara temple in South India, devotees chant the Veìkaöeçvara-suprabhatä, a hymn specifically meant for waking the Lord. The worshiper should at least ring a bell to draw the Lord's attention and indicate that he would like to offer service.

In the Chaitanya-caritämåta Shréla Prabhupäda stresses the importance of having a bell also in the temple room for the visitors to ring as they enter the Lord's house, enabling them to offer the first item of worship as well:

There must be a big bell hanging in front of the temple room so that whoever comes in the room can ring the bell. This item is called prabodhana, or offering oneself submissively to the Lord. This is the first item [in Deity worship]. [Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport]

[2] Chanting "jaya" on seeing the Deity (jaya-çabda)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

The visitor must chant jaya Shré Rädhä-Govinda or jaya Shré Rädhä-Mädhava when he rings the bell. In either case, the word jaya must be uttered. One should immediately offer obeisances to the Lord, falling down like a stick. [Chaitanya-cäritämåta, Madhya 4.334, purport]

[3] Offering obeisances (namaskara)

In the early morning you should offer obeisances specifically to the Deities only after waking Them, because it is enjoined in çästra that one should not disturb the Lord by offering obeisances when He is resting or bathing. (Nor, strictly speaking, should one circumambulate the Lord at these times.) Also, offer obeisances just outside the Deity room, never inside, since it is enjoined to offer obeisances from a respectful distance.  Within the Deity room, offer praëämas with joined palms (praëäma-mudrä), by mantra and with the mind.

Añöaìga-praëäma and Païcäìga-praëäma

Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

The word daëòa means rod or pole. A rod or pole falls straight; similarly, when a devotee offers obeisances to his superior with all eight aìgas (parts) of the body, he performs what is called daëòavat. Sometimes we only speak of daëòavats but actually do not fall down. In any case, daëòavat means falling down like a rod before one's superior. [Cc. Madhya 1.67, purport]

The Hari-bhakti-viläsa tells how to offer daëòavat-praëäma: Offer obeisances with eight aìgas-your feet, knees, chest, hands, head, sight, mind, and words. With your two feet, knees, chest, hands and head touching the ground, and with your eyes downcast and half open, recite a suitable prayer while meditating that your head is under the Lord's lotus feet.

To make païcäìga-praëäma, offer obeisances with five aìgas-knees, arms, head, intellect, and words. (The chest does not touch the ground.) It is an offense to offer obeisances with only one hand-that is, with one hand extended in front of the head while the other holds a beadbag or other sacred item off the floor. Before offering obeisances, set down anything you are holding.

Men may perform either type of praëäma, but women traditionally perform only païcäìga-praëäma, since their breasts should not touch the earth. The Hari-bhakti-viläsa, emphasizing the importance of praëäma, states that whenever offering praëäma, one should prostrate at least four times.

Specific injunctions regarding the direction to face when offering praëäma in varying circumstances are minimal. The general rule is to point your head in the direction of the person you are respecting. In the temple, where it is understood that Garuòa stands opposite the Deity, çästra enjoins offering praëäma with your left side facing the Deity so that your feet are not in the direction of Garuòa (or, in the case of many ISKCON temples, Shréla Prabhupäda). While offering obeisances, first recite your own spiritual master's praëäma-mantra, then Shréla Prabhupäda's (if it is different), and then the praëäma mantras for the Deities present on the altar.

Shästra states that one should enter the Deity room in a humble mood, slightly crouching and stepping inside with the right foot first. Whenever entering the Deity room to begin services, make some sound-either knocking, clapping the hands, or ringing a bell. It is not necessary to make a sound each and every time you enter in the course of service, but in the beginning this should be done.

[4] Offering maìgala-äraté* (ärätrika)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

There must be regular maìgala-äraté in the temple during the early morning, an hour and a half before the sun rises.* [Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport]

Shréla Prabhupäda further emphasizes in his Nectar of Devotion (a summary study of the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu) the benefit of seeing the äraté performed. He writes:

In the Skanda Puräëa there is the following description of the result of seeing äraté (worship) of the Deity: 'If someone sees the face of the Lord while äraté 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 brähmaëa or similar prohibited activities.' [The Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 9]

Araté is also called néräjana or dåñöi, which means waving auspicious items before a person in order to dispel inauspicious influences or elements, as a means of protection. The various items offered, all representative of the material elements in pure form and the corresponding sense objects (i.e. sound, form, touch, etc.) are auspicious and purifying. Thus all äraté ceremonies offered to the Lord are auspicious (maìgala), but the first äraté of the day, in the early morning, is considered particularly auspicious for all who participate.

The maìgala-äraté (the first äraté of the day) should be a full äraté, with incense, lamp, water, cloth, flowers, and cämara. In warm weather, you may also offer the fan at this time.

One should make an offering of milk sweets before maìgala-äraté. For more details on preparing and offering food, see the first naivedya upacära.

See the description of how to offer äraté. Regarding offering aromatic oil to the Deities after maìgala-äraté, *.

Preliminary Activities of Purification (pürväìga-karma)

Before performing the main worship of the main Deity with the sixteen basic upacäras, one should perform certain preliminary activities of purification and preliminary worship. After describing these we shall continue with number 5 of the sixty-four upacäras, (which corresponds to number 1 of the sixteen basic upacäras).

Consecrating Water for Purification (samänya-arghya and viçeña-arghya)

Water is an important element in worship. Not only does it physically purify many items, but when consecrated by Deity mantra, which is nondifferent from the Deity, it gains spiritual potency. The water thus consecrated will be used for prokñaëa (sprinkling for purification) on the place, the articles, and oneself. This process is common to all types of püjä, and the various püjä manuals give similar methods for making the samänya-arghya, or pure water prepared in a simple way for general use. One will usually establish samänya-arghya at the start of the worship for use at that time. See description for this procedure.

Before full worship of the main Deity begins, you may establish another arghya, called viçeña-arghya (special arghya). Viçeña-arghya, into which the Deity is invoked and worshiped, is used for the final spiritualization of place, articles, and self. This arghya is also placed into a separate vessel that may contain various other auspicious ingredients and offered to the Lord as the arghya upacära. The viçeña-arghya is generally established in a conch shell, so the process of establishing it is often called çaìkha-sthäpana. In simple worship one may use the samänya-arghya as both samänya- and viçeña-arghya. See description for this procedure.

Establishing a Seat (äsana-sthäpana)

Asana means "sitting posture," as well as "a seat." For performing püjä (other than äraté) you must sit, for in that attitude you can concentrate. The recommended sitting postures are padma-äsana and svastikä-asana, with the feet and legs covered by cloth. *  Whenever you perform püjä, you should sit on an äsana. To sit on the bare floor while performing püjä is a sevä-aparädha, an offense in Deity worship. Shästra notes that äsanas made of wood, stone, earth, bamboo, and grasses other than kuça may cause sickness, poverty, and sorrow. Kuça grass, silk, or wool äsanas are the most suitable for Vaiñëava arcana.

Arranging Utensils and Articles of Worship (pätra-sthäpana)

Arrange the articles to be offered and the various containers and other items so that you need not move from your äsana and thus disturb your meditation and interrupt the worship. Also take care that offered items will not touch unoffered ones. If they do, the unoffered items become unfit to offer to the Lord.

Requesting the Spiritual Master's and Previous Acäryas' Blessings (guru-paìkti-namaskära)

Before beginning worship, we must always invoke the blessings of our spiritual master and the sampradäya; we should always remember that we are simply assisting our spiritual master and the disciplic succession in worshiping the Lord. Therefore before proceeding, with joined palms (praëäma-mudrä) mentally prostrate before your guru and the guru-paramparä, chanting praëäma-mantras.

Purifying Hands, Flowers, and Materials (kara-çuddhi, puñpa-çuddhi, and dravya-çuddhi)

Once seated on your äsana with all the paraphernalia assembled, you should purify your hands. If one performs sacred acts with impure hands, everything will become impure. You may purify your hands by rinsing them with water or by rubbing candana on them. When your hands are purified, you may purify other items.

Flowers are purified by prokñaëa (sprinkling with samänya-arghya), mudräs,* and mantra.

Articles are spiritualized by chanting the Deity müla-mantra over them, by prokñaëa with samänya-arghya (which is also infused with the Deity mantra), and by mudräs.

Purification of the Elements of the Material Body (bhüta-çuddhi)

Bhüta-çuddhi means "purification of the bodily elements (bhütas)." The material body is filled with sinful desire. Indeed, the very origin of the material body is sinful desire. A person cannot worship the Lord or even approach the Lord in such a condition. As it is said in the çästra, nädevo devam arcayet: "Without being on the level of a deva [i.e., pure], one cannot worship the Lord."

The procedure that purifies us of material consciousness and awakens us to awareness of our spiritual body, is called bhüta-çuddhi. As the Hari-bhakti-viläsa states:

The process of purifying one's body made up of the bhütas [earth, water, fire, air, and ether] through association with the transcendental Lord is called bhüta-çuddhi.

Bhüta-çuddhi is a necessary step mentioned in all püjä manuals. Utilized in all types of püjä, japa, and meditation, it is performed by devotees on all levels of advancement.

Bhüta-çuddhi is accomplished in one of two ways: the first is the elaborate, systematic method of purging the gross material elements from the body and reconstituting the body with new, revitalized elements, ultimately arriving at purified consciousness; the second method, which devotees of Kåñëa favor, entails remembering that one is an eternal servant of Kåñëa and thus completely spiritual and pure. If one is established in such consciousness, the elements of the body automatically become purified.

In the Bhagavad-gétä (18.54), Lord Kåñëa sums up the characteristics of one who is situated in spiritual (brahma-bhüta) consciousness:

brahma-bhütaù prasannätmä na çocati na käìkñati
samaù sarveñu bhüteñu mad-bhaktim labhate paräm

One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me. [Bg. 18.54]

Preliminary Worship

Worship of the Spiritual Master (guru-püjä)

One must begin each session of worship by worshiping the spiritual master. By this worship the devotee gains the mercy (kåpa-çäkti) of the spiritual master which is the first and most essential step in approaching the Lord. Only by pleasing the spiritual master and gaining his mercy, and only by approaching him as the via medium, can one offer anything to the Lord. Païcarätrika scripture strongly emphasizes this:

He who first worships the spiritual master and then worships Me [Bhagavän] attains perfection. Otherwise one's worship is fruitless. [Hari-bhakti-viläsa 4.344]

He who worships someone else before worshiping the guru attains simply misfortune. His worship is useless. [Hari-bhakti-viläsa 4.345]

One should first come before one's spiritual master, pay obeisances to him, present him with some offering, and worship him with devotion. Having gained his grace, one should then worship the Supreme Lord. [Hari-bhakti-viläsa]

You may worship the spiritual master in a picture, a mürti, a yantra (a diagram with inscribed mantras), a ghaöa (installed waterpot), or you may worship the spiritual master's shoes, which are considered nondifferent from him. Generally worship of the spiritual master is done to his picture or mürti. The picture of the spiritual master should include his complete form.

Shréla Bhaktivinoda Thäkura recommends worshiping the spiritual master with sixteen upacäras, but if this is not practical one may worship him with twelve, ten, or five upacäras, depending on ability and circumstances. If possible you should perform the worship with the actual articles; if not, you may offer flowers with candana or pure water as substitutes for the articles while saying the appropriate mantras (see descriptions regarding upacära substitution). If this is not possible, then you should at least worship the spiritual master by mänasa-püjä (worship in the mind).* Conclude the worship with praëäma and a request to the spiritual master to permit you to serve the Lord. For guru-püjä procedures, see description.

Worship of Lord Chaitanya (gauräìga-püjä)

Before worshiping Rädhä and Kåñëa, the followers of Lord Chaitanya first worship Lord Chaitanya, for only through Him can we hope to approach the service of Rädhä-Kåñëa.* You may perform püjä with sixteen, twelve, ten, or five items (as in guru-püjä), or with as many items as possible plus substitute items, see description. You should conclude the worship of Lord Chaitanya with praëäma, begging His mercy to perform Rädhä-Kåñëa worship.

Shréla Prabhupäda writes of the importance of worshiping Gaura-Nitai:

By serving Gaura-Nityänanda one is freed from the entanglements of material existence and thus becomes qualified to worship the Rädhä-Kåñëa Deity. [Cc. Adi 8.31, purport]

Meditation (dhyäna)

In the Shrémad-Bhägavatam (3.28.18) Lord Kapiladeva instructs His mother on meditation:

One should therefore meditate upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead and upon His devotees. One should meditate on the eternal form of the Lord until the mind becomes fixed.

Dhyäna means concentration of the mind on the Lord and His associates, paraphernalia, pastimes, and abode. In Deity worship the object of meditation is the Deity being worshiped. The mind is purified through bhüta-çuddhi and becomes spiritualized by concentrating on the Lord's form and pastimes. The form of the Lord in the mind is considered a mürti (Deity) of the Lord, nondifferent from the Lord Himself, and the worshiper's mind is a péöha, or sacred altar for the Lord.

The form of the Lord one meditates on should correspond to authorized descriptions from bona fide çästra. Some püjä manuals contain verses describing the Deity being worshiped, and one may recite these at this time. The important element, however, is not the recitation of the Sanskrit verses but the form of the Lord that the description evokes in the mind. Thus if you find that reciting a translation of the original Sanskrit verses in your mother language is more conducive to visualization of the Lord's form in the mind, you should follow this practice.

Internal Worship (mänasa-püjä)

After meditating on the form of the Lord, you should engage your mind in worshiping that form. Dhyäna is the preparation for mänasa-püjä; whereas dhyäna is passive, mänasa-püjä is active. Whatever items you offer externally you should first offer internally with full devotion and attention.* Also, whereas the items offered in external worship may be simple due to modest means, in the course of mänasa-püjä one may perform very opulent worship of the Lord. See for the story of the brähmaëa devotee who burned his finger on mänasa-püjä sweet rice*. Mänasa-püjä is the culmination of dhyäna. The çästra points out that for one performing sädhana-bhakti, the püjä with paraphernalia is ineffective without mänasa-püjä. Püjä performed with paraphernalia but without mänasa-püjä may be the cause of offense for the neophyte, for he will tend to see the Deity as a material object. Thus mänasa-püjä, or antar-yoga, is essential in all types of Deity worship. Elevated souls (especially sannyäsés, who are always traveling) often perform only this type of worship, as exemplified in the following passage from the Chaitanya-caritämåta:

When Shré Nåsimhänanda Brahmacäré heard that Lord Chaitanya Mahäprabhu would go to Våndävana, he became very pleased and mentally began decorating the way there. First he contemplated a broad road starting from the city of Kuliyä. He bedecked the road with jewels, upon which he then laid a bed of stemless flowers. He mentally decorated both sides of the road with bakula flower trees, and at intervals on both sides he placed lakes of a transcendental nature. These lakes had bathing places constructed with jewels, and they were filled with blossoming lotus flowers. There were various birds chirping, and the water was exactly like nectar. The entire road was surcharged with many cool breezes, which carried the fragrances from various flowers. He carried the construction of this road as far as Känäi Näöaçälä. Within the mind of Nåsimhänanda Brahmacäré the road could not be constructed beyond Känäi Näöaçälä. He could not understand why the road's construction could not be completed, and thus he was astonished. With great assurance he then told the devotees that Lord Chaitanya would not go to Våndävana at that time. [Cc., Madhya 1.155-161]

Both dhyäna and mänasa-püjä are performed not only for the main Deity, but also for the spiritual master and Lord Chaitanya in preliminary worship.

PP 2.3: The Main Worship

The Main Worship

Receiving the Lord

[5] Inviting the Lord by offering Him a seat (äsana) and making Him comfortable (svägata)

Asana means the situation or setting in which the Lord is being offered a certain type of worship. The Lord is surrounded by His associates, who offer Him various services, and among these associates is one's own spiritual master. Since it is through him that the disciple gains admittance into the Lord's service, the disciple should understand one äsana to be the seat or position where the spiritual master performs his services to the Lord, as Shréla Prabhupäda explains in Chaitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 24.334, purport):

There must be an äsana, a sitting place before the altar. This äsana is for the spiritual master. The disciple brings everything before the spiritual master, and the spiritual master offers everything to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

As part of ñoòaçopacära-püjä you should also offer an äsana to the Lord; a common way is to place flowers or flower petals where He will stand to receive padya, arghya, etc., before the bath.

Svägata* means "welcome" and "comfort." You should ask the Lord if He is comfortable, and then with affection meditate on welcoming Him and satisfying Him nicely. Shréla Prabhupäda explains:

Våndävana means everyone is engaged how to keep Kåñëa in comfort. This is Våndävana. Not for personal comfort. The whole Våndävana is engaged, beginning with Mother Yäñodä, Nända Mähäräja, the young gopés, and the young cowherd boys; that is Våndävana. Kåñëa is the center. So the more we become engaged with the view to giving Kåñëa the comfortable position, that is our aim of life. Then we can be liberated. [A Transcendental Diary, by Hari-çauri Däsa]

After offering the Lord a seat and welcoming Him, remove His nightclothes and then wrap the Lord in a gämchä. Ideally, the gämchä should remain on the Deity throughout the cleaning, polishing (if the Deity is metal), and bathing, and should be removed when the Lord is being dried. At that time offer Him a dry gämchä. (The towel for drying and the dry gämchä are both called aìga-vastra, the twenty-second upacära.)

[6] Offering a twig for brushing the teeth (danta-käñöhä or danta-dhävana)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

After maìgala-äraté, the Deity is supposed to wash His teeth by using a twig; therefore a twig must be offered.* [Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport]

The same type of twig you use for brushing your own teeth you may offer to the Lord*. You may also offer a tongue scraper at this time.

[7] Washing the Lord's feet (padya)

Offering padya, arghya, äcamana, and madhuparka are all traditional Vedic ways of welcoming a king or other distinguished guest. Pure water is often offered in place of any or all these items. One may put flowers or tulasé leaves into water and offer it, thinking of the absent items.

You may offer padya before and after the Lord eats, as a reception after äsana, after waking the Lord, and before putting Him to rest.

[8] Offering arghya as a sign of welcome and respect (arghya)

Arghya is a mixture of auspicious items offered above or touched to the head of an honored guest as part of reception. To literally offer a person arghya entails either sprinkling it on his head or offering it into his hands so he can sprinkle it over his own head. Therefore it is said an offering of arghya is made "to the hands." Either way is acceptable, although offering to the hands is better because it is considered more respectful. You should ring a bell in your left hand while offering arghya.

[9] Offering water for sipping (äcamana)

Acamana may be offered before and after offering food, after bathing or dressing the Lord, and after putting on the Lord's upavéta.

[10] Offering madhuparka, then water for sipping (madhuparka and punar-äcamana)

Some sources indicate that madhuparka should be offered in a cup to the right hand of the Lord for Him to accept.

After madhuparka, again offer äcamana. (In the standard list of sixteen upacäras, äcamana offered after madhuparka is counted as a separate upacära.)

Bathing the Lord (snäna)

[11] Offering the Lord shoes so He may come to the bathing place (pädukä or pädukärpaëa)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes:

One should place wooden slippers before the Lord. [Chaitanya-cäritämåta, Madhya 24.334, purport]

Shoes may be offered whenever the Lord moves from one position to another by showing them briefly prior to moving the Deity. After the reception (consisting of items 5 through 10) the Lord is invited to a special bathing area.

Cleaning the Lord's body (aìga-märjana)

Clean away all the old flowers, candana, and so on before cleaning the Lord's body with water and a soft cloth. Metal Deities may now be polished with a paste made of ground gopé-candana and fresh lemon juice* or water, and then wiped off with a damp cloth prior to bathing. (If the Deity is not waterproof, simply wipe the Lord with a dry cloth.)

Rubbing the Lord's body with fragrant oils (abhyäìga)

Fragrant oils may be rubbed on the Lord's body before His bath.* This is an especially auspicious offering on Ekädaçé.

Sanätana Gosvämé mentions that one should especially rub the Lord's head with oil.

Prasäda scents that have been offered on a cotton swab can be distributed after the greeting of the Deity.

[14] Removing oil from the Lord's body (udvartana)

In his Chaitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 24.334, purport) Shréla Prabhupäda mentions using a wet sponge to wipe the excess oil off the Deity. It may be preferable to use a soft cotton towel for this purpose, since real sponge is a sea animal and synthetic sponge is plastic. The oil massage prior to bathing acts cosmetically, purifying the pores of a person's skin. After massage, before the bath, the excess oil is removed.

[15] Bathing the Lord in flower water (snäna)

As stated in the Chaitanya-caritämåta:

One should bathe the Lord with water in which nicely scented flowers have been soaking for some time. [Chaitanya-cäritämåta, Madhya 24.33, purport]


Païcämåta-snäna is generally not offered daily to the Deity, but should be offered daily to the çalagräma-çilä, at least in the temple. It is best to pour each item of païcämåta from a conch over the Deity. The liquids should be neither too cold nor too hot. The following five items (16 to 20) comprise païcämåta-snäna.

[16] Bathing the Lord in milk (kñéra-snäna)

Heat the milk slightly if the weather is cool.

[17] Bathing the Lord in yogurt (dadhi-snäna)

Whip the yogurt so that it will flow smoothly.

[18] Bathing the Lord in ghee (ghåta-snäna)

Heat the ghee so that it is fluid but not too hot.

[19] Bathing the Lord in honey (madhu-snäna)

The honey may be diluted with water to make it more fluid.

[20] Bathing the Lord in sugar (sitä-snäna)

Dissolve sugar or guòa in water and then pour the sweetened water over the Deity.

After bathing the Lord in païcämåta, you can remove the ghee by rubbing the Lord's body with powdered barley or wheat flour and then washing Him with warm water. A brush made from the hairs of a cow's tail or from coconut husks may be used to remove dirt from hard-to-reach parts of the Deity's body. After bathing the Deity in warm water, bathe Him in cool water (weather permitting).

Bathing the Lord with Water (jäla-snäna)

[21] Bathing the Lord in water consecrated with mantras (mantra-puta-jala)

Technically, water into which one has chanted certain Vedic hymns and Deity béja-mantras is what is meant by 'water consecrated with mantras.' One can also chant mantras during the bathing. Shréla Prabhupäda writes in his Chaitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 24.334, purport):

Wash the Deity with water and chant this mantra:

cintämaëi-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-våkña-
lakñävåteñu surabhér abhipälayantam
govindam ädi-puruñam tam aham bhajämi

While bathing the Deity, you should chant verses from the Brahma-samhitä; additionally you may chant verses from Shrémad-Bhägavatam, Bhagavad-gétä, Viñëu-sahasra-näma, Puruña-sükta, or other appropriate scriptures. It is appropriate at this time, especially in elaborate worship, for assisting devotees to play musical instruments, perform kértana, ring bells, blow conch shells, or play appropriate recorded music or mantra chanting.

[22] Wiping the Lord's body with a soft, dry cloth (aìga-vastra)

As stated in the Chaitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 24.334, purport), "One should dry the entire body [of the Deity] with a towel."

All cloths used for drying and offering in äraté should be washed after each use and dried in a clean place, away from any possible contamination.

Dressing and Worshiping the Lord

[23] Dressing the Lord (vastra)

In his description of Mädhavendra Puré's installation of the Gopäla Deity, Shréla Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja writes, "After the body of the Deity was cleansed, He was dressed very nicely with new garments. Then sandalwood pulp, tulasé garlands, and other fragrant flower garlands were placed upon the body of the Deity" (Cc. Madhya 4.63).

Shréla Prabhupäda has given many guidelines for Deity worship and temple decoration. The following are some of them:

[The] peacock feather must be there on Krishna.* [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 8 June 1975]

The decoration should be so attractive that people when seeing Jagannath will forget all attractiveness of Maya. This is the process of decorating Jagannath. Our eyes are attracted by the beauty of Maya, but if our eyes are attracted by the beauty of Krishna, the Jagannatha, then there is no more chance of our being attracted by Maya. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 7 June 1968]

Krishna as He is appearing in our Temples is in the kaishore age, and the dress which I have introduced is His dress of kaishore age. In our Temples the Deities Radha and Krishna are worshiped as Lakshmi Narayana, with all the opulence of Their Majestic Lordship in Dwarka. The worship of Radha-Krishna as They appear in Vrindavan is a very advanced stage. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 16 January 1970]

The proper method of dressing Jagannath is as a Ksatriya King, and there is no limit to the opulence you can give him. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 19 February 1973]

All [the members of the Panca-tattva] should wear tulasi kanthi beads, not less than two strands, three, four strands or, my Guru Maharaj had five strands.... Only Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda wear crowns and nosepins. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 20 November 1971]

Shall Shrémati Radharani's feet be showing? The answer is no, they should never be seen. Krishna's feet, however, should be showing. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 4 January 1975]

Devotees commonly use pins to fix the Lord's clothing in place. But this must be done carefully, so as not to cause the Lord pain.* Thin thread is often used to suspend the clothing outward from the Deity; such thread should be used as sparingly as possible: the Lord should not look like a puppet on strings. Also, loose threads hanging from the simhäsana should not show.

[24] Offering a Gäyatré thread (upavéta)

Obviously, you should offer the Lord His sacred thread before putting on His upper garments. The thread should consist of nine strands of white or yellow cotton or silk. Alternatively it may contain three strands of cotton or silk, three of silver, and three of gold. Now you may decorate the Lord's forehead with vertical ürdhva-puëòra tilaka.* You may also mark the Deity's arms, sides, and throat with ürdhva-puëòra tilaka. In addition, you may now apply decorative tilaka designs to the Lord's forehead, cheeks, arms, hands, and feet. The tilaka may be mixed with natural coloring agents such as turmeric or kuìkuma as well as plain water colors, and applied with a blunt gold or silver stick, or with a twig from a tulasé plant.

[25] Offering äcamana again after dressing (punar-äcamana)

In Vedic culture, one performs äcamana after dressing as a means of purification.

[26] Applying gandha to the Lord's feet with a tulasé leaf (anulepana)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes, "Nicely scented oils like liquid sandalwood pulp should be smeared all over the body [of the Deity]." (Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport)

Gandha refers to sandalwood paste, which may be mixed with other ingredients. You may apply it to the Lord's whole body or to His feet, heart, and forehead. After applying gandha, you may fan the Lord to increase the cooling effect. Gandha may be applied with the middle and ring fingers or with the thumb and little finger joined.

Do not smear sandalwood, camphor, or any other cooling item when the weather is cool on the Lord's forehead, although you may draw designs with sandalwood paste and use it to apply tulasé leaves to His lotus feet.

[26a] Tulasé Leaves and Buds

Now you should offer tulasé leaves to the Lord's lotus feet.

Among all the articles offered to the Lord, tulasé is the most highly praised. Indeed, a devotee may worship the Lord perfectly simply by offering Him pure water and tulasé leaves.

You may offer tulasé leaves only to viñëu-tattva Deities, but you may place tulasé leaves in the spiritual master's and Shrématé Rädhäräëé's right hands so they may offer them to the Lord. You may also place them on food offerings on the spiritual master's and Shrématé Rädhäräëé's plates, with the understanding that they will offer the food to Kåñëa before taking it themselves.

Both the Garuòa Puräëa and the Båhan-näradéya Puräëa state that tulasé leaves must always be placed on the naivedya, the food being offered: "Without tulasé, anything done in the way of püjä, bathing, and offering of food and drink to the Lord cannot be considered real püjä, bathing, or offering. The Lord does not accept any worship or eat or drink anything that is without tulasé."

If tulasé leaves are abundant, you may offer the Lord a tulasé garland. Alternatively, tulasé leaves or maïjarés (buds) may be woven into the Lord's flower garlands.

[27] Decorating the Lord with jewelery (alaìkära)

The Chaitanya-caritämåta states, "All kinds of ornaments and crowns should be placed on the body." (Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport)

Take care, whenever performing äraté, to first check to see that the Deities' ornaments are properly in place-especially crowns and ear ornaments-before opening the curtain.

Also, take care, when removing any ornaments which are held with adhesive material such as putty or beeswax to also remove all of the adhesive from the Deity.

[28] Offering flowers to the Lord (vicitra-divya-puñpa)

One should offer flowers face up when offering them singly, but this rule does not apply when offering many flowers. Whenever the Deity moves from one position to another, first offer Him His shoes and then, as an act of submission, offer puñpäïjali (flowers offered between joined palms). Puñpäïjali may be offered to the Deity's head, heart, navel, lotus feet, and entire body.

You can offer garlands either now or during dressing and ornamenting-whichever is convenient. Fresh flower garlands are very pleasing to the Lord.

Shréla Prabhupäda writes in his Nectar of Devotion:

Kåñëa used to put a vaijayanté garland around His neck. This vaijayanté garland is made of flowers of at least five different colors. Such a garland was always long enough to touch Kåñëa's knees or feet. Besides this garland of flowers, there were other kinds of flower garlands too-sometimes decorating His head, sometimes hanging around His neck and chest ... Kåñëa is sometimes called vana-mälé. Vana means 'forest,' and mälé means 'gardener,' so vana-mälé refers to one who extensively uses flowers and garlands on different parts of His body. Kåñëa was dressed like this not only in Våndävana but also on the Battlefield of Kurukñetra. [The Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 26]

[29] Offering incense (dhüpa)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes in his Nectar of Devotion:

'When the devotees smell the good fragrance 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 Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 9, quoted from the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya]

In addition to the scheduled äratés, incense can be offered at any time of the day. However, do not light incense when offering bhoga: since the aroma of food is an important element in its enjoyment, it should not be cancelled by the incense aroma. After the Lord has taken His meal you may offer incense (especially as part of the äraté). You may offer varied types of incense at different times of the day.

[30] Offering lamps (dépa)

Offering lamps to the Deity is highly auspicious both for the one who offers and for those observing. The lamp is considered the main offering of the äraté ceremony.

A camphor lamp may be offered as a single dépa before the ghee lamp, especially at the noon äraté. Generally, synthetic camphor is used, since natural camphor is very expensive.

[31] Counteracting inauspicious influences caused by the glances of evil persons (dåñöi-apasaraëa)

Shréla Prabhupäda writes in the Chaitanya-caritämåta:

Precautions should always be taken so that demons and atheists cannot harm the body of the Lord. [Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport]

To dispel inauspicious influences, the Hari-bhakti-viläsa recommends waving the conch three times above the head of the Deity. Alternatively (especially in special ceremonies such as abhiñeka) you may wave a small dish containing mustard seeds, salt and ném leaves before the Deity.

More generally, as Shréla Prabhupäda mentions, we should undertake all kinds of precautions to protect the Deities. In particular, metal gates should be installed to protect Them from harm during times when They are unattended. Also, a fire extinguisher or fire blanket should be present in the Deity room within easy reach of püjärés.

[32] Offering food (naivedya)

Food Preparation

Preparing food for the Lord and partaking of the prasäda are very important aspects of Kåñëa consciousness, as the following quotations indicate:

Shré Chaitanya Mahäprabhu was pleased because He saw how nicely so many varieties of food were prepared for Kåñëa. Actually, all kinds of prasäda are prepared for Kåñëa, not for the people, but the devotees partake of the prasäda with great pleasure. [Cc. Madhya 3.64, purport]

Shré Chaitanya Mahäprabhu approved of all the methods employed in cooking and offering food to Kåñëa. Indeed, He was so pleased that He said, 'Frankly, I will personally take the lotus feet of anyone who can offer Kåñëa such nice food and place those lotus feet on My head birth after birth.' [Cc. Madhya 3.65]

From the excellence of the arrangements, Mädhavendra Puré understood by deduction that only the best food was offered. [Cc. Madhya 4.114]

Devotees should become expert cooks so that only first-class preparations are offered to the Deity. "If in doubt, don't offer." The simple test is to ask yourself, "Would I offer this to my spiritual master if he were personally present?" If you know a preparation is unofferable due to being burned or over-salted, for example, you should not offer it to the Deities or the spiritual master.

Method of Offering

The following excerpt from Chaitanya-caritämåta describes an arrangement for a feast for the Lord:

All the prepared foods were divided into three equal parts. One part was arranged on a metal plate for offering to Lord Kåñëa. Of the three divisions, one was arranged on a metal plate, and the other two were arranged on plantain leaves. These leaves were not bifurcated, and they were taken from a banana tree that held at least thirty-two bunches of bananas. The two plates were filled very nicely with the kinds of food described below. [Cc. Madhya 3.42-43]

Shréla Prabhupäda further writes:

It is advisable that food being offered to the Deity be covered when taken from the kitchen to the Deity room. In that way, others may not see it. Those who are not accustomed to following the advanced regulative devotional principles may desire to eat the food, and that is an offense. Therefore no one should be given a chance to even see it. However, when it is brought before the Deity, it must be uncovered.* [Cc. Madhya 4.124, purport]

The essential position of the spiritual master in the Deity offering is illustrated by the following quotes:

For offering prasädam simply prayers to the Spiritual Master is sufficient. The process is that everything is offered to the Spiritual Master, and the Spiritual Master is supposed to offer the same foodstuff to the Lord. When a thing is offered to the Spiritual Master, he immediately offers to the Lord. That is the system, and as we come by parampara system, it is our duty to go through the right channel-namely, first the Spiritual Master, then Lord Chaitanya, and then Krishna. So when we chant prayers, we do this, Bande ham Shré Guru ... and gradually to the Goswamis, then to Lord Chaitanya, and then to Radha Krishna. That is the praying system. But offering the prasädam to present everything before the Spiritual Master whose picture is also in the altar, means that the Spiritual Master will take care of offering the foodstuff to the Lord. Therefore simply by chanting the prayer to the Spiritual Master, everything will be complete. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 28 May 1968]

Yes, you may say the prayer to the spiritual master 3 times, and also the Namo Brahmanya...  prayer 3 times. Also, you may, after offering to spiritual master, offer to Lord Chaitanya by saying the prayer "namo maha-vadanyaya etc." 3 times, and then offer to Kåñëa thrice [namo brahmanya-devaya]. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 22 March 1968]

Whatever is offered to the Deity actually goes through the Spiritual Master. The Spiritual Master offers to Lord Chaitanya, and Lord Chaitanya offers it to Krishna. Then Radha Krishna eats or Jagannath eats, then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu eats, then the Spiritual Master eats, and it becomes Mahaprasädam. So when you offer something, you think like that and chant the Gayatri Mantra, and then everything is complete. At last, ring the bell, take out the plate, and wipe the place where the plate was kept. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 16 June 1969]

In these letters Shréla Prabhupäda describes the essential activities in offering food. In more elaborate worship, you may reinforce your awareness of being the spiritual master's servant by offering the Lord additional services. For example, since impurities may arise due to subtle entities in the atmosphere or faults in the preparation, you may follow certain procedures to purify, spiritualize, and protect the food before offering it to the Lord. This is accomplished by prokñaëa (sprinkling with water), mantra, mudrä, and meditation. It is also customary to call the Lord from His throne to His eating place and offer Him a seat and water for washing His feet, hands, and mouth. You may then present the naivedya to the Lord while chanting His müla-mantra. After the meal, you may again offer water for the Lord to wash His feet, hands, and mouth.

Duration of Offering

Shréla Prabhupäda instructs us in detail on how to please the Lord. He writes:

Leave Krishna's plate for 15-20 minutes or more, not more than half an hour. [letter from Shréla Prabhupäda, 25 January 1968]