His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
by Makhancora dasa
The Lord ´s name is Adhoksaja - imperceptible to the senses of a conditioned soul covered by matter, but still, out of His causeless mercy He appears in the realm governed by His external energy, maya, just to facilitate service of His devotes, those who have understood, accepted and realized their posistion as eternal spirit souls, who´s dharma - eternal occupation is to serve the Lord in transcendental love. Thus one of the nine items of devotional service is arcana - Deity worship. The Deity of the Lord IS the Lord present in a form seemingly made of material elements a.k.a. earth, water, fire, air, ether and even in the mind. Because God, Krsna, is absolute, there is no difference between His form, His name, His paraphernalia etc. and Himself. In this way the conditioned souls have an opportunity to serve the Lord even in their present status in which they are unable to see Krsna in His original spiritual form, just as they are unable to see anyone else including themselves as spiritual sparks, parts and parcels of Krsna.
In this age the yuga-dharma is nama-sankirtan, chanting or congregational chanting of the Holy Name of God. Deity worship was a process meant for previous yuga. There are two systems, paths or vidhis - bhagavata and pancaratrika. Hearing, chanting and remembering Krsna is under the bhagavata-vidhi and Deity worship is part of pancaratrika-vidhi. Today it is not really possible to worship the Deity in a proper manner, just as it is not possible in this kali-yuga to offer vedic sacrifices or to meditate properly. Still, on the strength of the authorities, our Spiritual Master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gave us both the procesess, to engage us fully in the service of Krsna:
“According to pancaratrika system, Narada-pancaratra, this worship of the Deity is there. And bhagavata-marga, the path of Srimad-Bhagavatam, is simply sravanam kirtanam. Out of the nine processes recommended, sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam [SB 7.5.23], so up to sravanam kirtanam smaranam, that is Bhagavata-marga. That is the best. And pada-sevanam arcanam vandanam dasyam, that is pancaratriki-vidhi.
So both the viddhis, both the systems have been introduced. One will help the other. That is the way. Simply Bhagavata-marga... Just like in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, in the beginning, is simply sravanam-param satyam dhimahi; janmady asya [SB 1.1.1] -- smaranam, simply remembering, memorizing the Supreme Truth. But, of course, the pancaratrika-vidhi is recommended in the Second Canto. That, another pancaratrika-vidhi, is worshiping the gigantic form of the Lord. These things are there. But both, combined together, it is very much helpful. Bhagavata-marga. Bhagavata-marga will help the pancaratrika-marga, or process, and the pancaratrika process will help Bhagavata process. Both together is helpful. Therefore my Guru Maharaja introduced... You have seen the, what is called? That signia? One side, pancaratriki-vidhi, one side bhagavata-viddhi. That is... I have seen that Gaudiya Math emblem. Yes. And, so actually, Bhagavata-marga is very strong. That is sufficient. But without pancaratrika-vidhi this polluted body, polluted mind of the devotee, cannot be purified. Therefore both the process should be adopted in preaching Krsna consciousness movement.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.24-25 lecture -- Gorakhpur, February 13, 1971)
“To chant the holy name of the Lord, one need not depend upon other paraphernalia, for one can immediately get all the desired results of connecting or linking with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It may therefore be questioned why there is a necessity for initiation or further spiritual activities in devotional service for one who engages in the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. The answer is that although it is correct that one who fully engages in chanting the holy name need not depend upon the process of initiation, generally a devotee is addicted to many abominable material habits due to material contamination from his previous life. In order to get quick relief from all these contaminations, it is required that one engage in the worship of the Lord in the temple. The worship of the Deity in the temple is essential to reduce one's restlessness due to the contaminations of conditioned life. Thus Narada, in his pancaratriki-vidhi, and other great sages have sometimes stressed that since every conditioned soul has a bodily concept of life aimed at sense enjoyment, to restrict this sense enjoyment the rules and regulations for worshiping the Deity in the temple are essential. Srila Rupa Gosvami has described that the holy name of the Lord can be chanted by liberated souls, but almost all the souls we have to initiate are conditioned. It is advised that one chant the holy name of the Lord without offenses and according to the regulative principles, yet due to their past bad habits they violate these rules and regulations. Thus the regulative principles for worship of the Deity are also simultaneously essential.”
(Cc Adi 7.76)
“How to think of Krishna that I have given, following the devotional practices and chanting 16 rounds minimum. We have also established worship of the Deity in our temple so that all day long one will automatically think of Krishna, He is so kind.”
(Letter to: Vajresvari - Mayapur 7 October, 1974)
The senses of embodied living entity have to be spiritually revived and purified by becoming engaged in devotional service and because our present senses are unable to perceive anything beyond gross matter, worshipping the Lord in His form of a Deity is a very congenial and scientific process of sense-purification and spiritual sense enjoyment. Senses are always after pleasure, which means that they always want to contact their desirable objects. Thus by engaging the senses with their objects in devotional service, which means giving pleasure to the senses of the Lord, our senses become purified. The eyes behold the beautiful forms of the Lord, the ears hear the kirtan and prayrs offered to the Lord, they hear the Bhagavatam and the Gita, the nostrills smell the sweet aroma of incense and flowers offered to the Lord, the hands engage in cleaning the temple and manipulating paraphernalia used in the worship of the Lord, the tongue vibrates the Holy Names and sacred mantras and tastes prasadam - food offered with love and devotion to Krsna and the mind carries all these impressions wherever the devotee goes.
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam
Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.
The process of going back home, back to Godhead is delineated in the Bhagavad-gita by Krsna, God Himself. He says one need only to think of Him constantly, bow down to Him and worship Him thus coming to the point of complete absorbtion in the thought of the Lord. Of course, this is to be done under the able guidance of a bona-fide spiritual master. In Deity worship all these aspects are present simultaneously and no extraneous effort is necessary for a devotee to practice this path of remembering Krsna always and thus going back to the spiritual world.
For neophyte devotees who have no higher taste for hearing and chanting, regulated Deity worship is an essential item which will help them to become steady, situate them in the mode of goodnes and gradually develop taste for devotional service. As Srila Prabhupada mentioned in his class above - hearing and chanting assists Deity worship and Deity worship assists hearing and chanting. Thus the process of purification of our consciousness given to us is by his causeless mercy is easy, simple, pleasurable and complete.
“This is very important business, Deity worship. The more the Deity is decorated, the more your heart will be decorated with Krsna consciousness. This is the way for the neophyte devotee how to absorb his mind in Krsna consciousness.”
(Letter to: Jayatirtha, Manjuali -- Bombay 10 November, 1975)
“Now this sadhana-bhakti, or practice of devotional service, can also be divided into two parts. The first part is called regulative principles: one has to follow these different regulative principles by the order of the spiritual master, or on the strength of authoritative scriptures, and there can be no question of refusal. That is called vaidhi, or regulated. One has to do it without any argument. Another part of sadhana-bhakti is called raganuga. Raganuga refers to the point at which, by following the regulative principles, one becomes a little more attached to Krsna, and executes devotional service out of natural love. For example, a person engaged in devotional service may be ordered to rise early in the morning and offer aratrika, which is a form of Deity worship. In the beginning, by the order of his spiritual master, one rises early in the morning and offers aratrika, but then he develops real attachment. When he gets this attachment, he automatically tries to decorate the Deity and prepare different kinds of dresses and thinks of different plans to execute his devotional service nicely. Although it is within the category of practice, this offering of loving service is spontaneous. So the practice of devotional service, sadhana-bhakti, can be divided into two parts-namely, regulative and spontaneous.”
(NoD 2-1970: The First Stages of Devotion)
“Prabhupada: Spontaneous. This service should be spontaneous, not forced. Just like a father loves his son spontaneously. A young man likes to love a young girl spontaneously. So bhakti should be like that. As soon as one hears the name of Krsna, immediately, spontaneously, he should be ready to serve Him. That is pure devotion. Not that forced. In the beginning, we have to force, that "You rise early in the morning. There is mangala aratrika. You have to perform it." But when this function will be done spontaneously, "Oh, this is the time to offer mangala aratrika to my Lord..." That is wanted. That is wanted. Not that "Oh, it is a heavy burden to rise early in the morning and to offer mangala aratrika." That is not spontaneous. But one has to act under the direction of spiritual master and sastra, which is called vidhi-bhakti, regulative devotional service, he comes to the platform of spontaneous service.”
(The Nectar of Devotion class-- Vrndavana, October 28, 1972)
The Deity of Krsna may assume different forms made of different elements, but ultimately there is no difference between them:
“The Deity form of the Lord is said to appear in eight varieties -- stone, wood, metal, earth, paint, sand, the mind or jewels.
Srila Jiva Gosvami explains that certain Deity forms, such as those made of sand, are manifested for a brief time to fulfill a personal desire of the worshiper. Those, however, who desire to attain pure love of God should worship the permanent form of the Deity (made, for instance, of marble, gold or brass), and they should maintain continual worship. In Krsna consciousness there is no scope for neglecting the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
“Prabhupada: There are eight kinds of Deity. Picture is also Deity. Even the thinking of Krsna within the mind, that is also Deity. But we are not so expert that within the mind we can worship the Deity.”
(Room Conversation -- September 19, 1973, Bombay)
There are different standards for the worship of different forms of the Lord. Worshiping Radha-Krsna Deities and worshiping Panca-tattva picture requires different qualification, paraphernalia and procedure. Still, the aim is one - to receive the Lord and His associates as persons to which we want to show our loving affection and thus confirm our understanding of being spirit souls, parts and parcels of God, Krsna.
In this age of Kali the most merciful and munificient incarnation of the Lord is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accompanied by His expansions, energies and devotees, the Panca-tattva. Worship of the Lord in the form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the simplest and most congenial way of Deity worship which doesn´t include any risk of offending the Lord for a sincere devotee. There may be many flaws in our attempts to satisfy the Lord by worshiping Him in His Deity, but Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is so merciful, that He doesn ´t take any offence commited by us out of ignorance.
“But you should not take Radha-Krsna travelling, better you take Gaura-Nitai. For serving Gaura-Nitai there is no offense, but if Radha-Krsna is there and there is some discrepancy, then there is great offense and this should be avoided.”
(Letter to: Sudama -- Hyderabad 23 March, 1973)
“Worship of Radha-Krishna Deities is the ultimate pinnacle of Deity worship, and it must be done with the utmost caution and attention to every detail of giving opulent service. I am not recommending more temples to install Radha-Krishna Deities until I have become more convinced that they can properly manage. At least five to ten persons must be engaged full time to worship Radha-Krishna properly, and for any small temple especially that is a detrimental factor to maintaining the highest standard in other temple activities besides, because there are not enough men. You may worship Lord Jagannatha, or if you like to install Gaura-Gauranga, Gaura-Nitai, or simply Gaura Deity, He is also very liberal and will forgive and tolerate any service offered to Him even by Jagai and Madhai.”
(Letter to: Gunagrahi: -- New York 3 July, 1972)
In our B.L.I.S.S. centres we focus on worshiping Guru-Gauranga, that is a picture of Sri Panca-tattva and the spiritual master by offering mangala-arati in the morning, performing guru-puja before noon and sandhya-arati in the evening. Thus the day starts and ends with the soothing arati ceremony for the Lord in His form of Lord Caitanya. Between these two aratis we perform our daily duties of hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, cleaning, cooking, street chanting and book distribution and whatever else is necessary to run a centre.
The ceremony by which the Deity is worshiped is called “arati, aratik or aratrika”. In this ceremony the Deity is worshiped by offering different pleasurable items like incense, a ghi lamp, water, a handkerchief, a flower and by fanning the Deity with peacock feathers and camara whisk, all commenced and concluded by blowing of a conchshell.
Before the actual arati ceremony there should be some offering of bhoga to the Lord. May be even a simple fruit or a little sweet, something should be offered. After removing the offering and cleaning the altar, arati can begin. The altar should be covered so the Deity is not seen all the time, but only during the darsan, that He mercifuly gives us. The Lord is a person and just as we invite our good friend or a beloved person to be in our place and we give him all our attention and care and do not neglect him, similarly, when we invite the Lord to stay in the place where we stay, we should pay all our attention and care in the same way. That is personalism. Otherwise, if we think of the Lord or the spiritual master, in whatever form they appear before us, as “only a picture” or “only a statue” or “only a song” - we will become contaminated by impersonalist mentality and ultimately become mayavadis by comitting offences. A mayavadi can never understand devotional service.
Arati ceremony is performed as follows. One should stand on a small carpet or a thin cushion, not on bare floor. The aratik tray with the paraphernalia to be offered should be placed comfortably, so the devotee can reach the items conveniently one after another. It is also helpful to have the items arranged in order they are offered with the acmana cup (which contains water for purification and a spoon) in the middle.
Arati shouldn´t be offered too slowly or too fast. It should be done graciously and with full concentration, in a meditative mood. We are receiving the Lord and His pure devotees in “our” homes, in our hearts and lives. We should be clean outwardly (by putting clean dress) and inwardly in consciousness (Krsna consciousness). Punctuality is also important factor, the arati and preceding offering of bhoga should be done in scheduled times and regularly. That will help us significantly in our spiritual life and in reestablishing our personal relationship with Krsna, the Supreme Lord. Krsna is a person, His devotees are persons, the spiritual master is a person and we treat Them like that - personally.
“One thing though, the deity worship must be completely pure in terms of cleanliness and punctuality, otherwise there will be some offense.”
(Letter to: Sri Govinda -- Calcutta 31 January, 1973)
We start the arati by purifying the hands. Take the spoon with water from the acmana cup into the left hand and throw the water inside the very hand. Then take another spoonful of water and purify the right hand. Take the spoon in the right hand and purify the conchshell and a bell. Blow the conchshell three times and calling “Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai ki Jaya! Srila Prabhupada ki Jaya! (if you have other Deities, call Their names). Open the altar. The simplest altar consists of the picture of Panca-tattva and Srila Prabhupada. If we have more space we may place the pictures of our acaryas and Lord Narasimhadeva as well. That is the setup in our centres also.
After opening the altar bow down (men should pay full dandavats) and recite loudly Srila Prabhupada pranam mantra (nama om visnu-padaya...). After standing up (on the carpet) again purify the hands, first left then right. Then with the left hand put three drops of water into the right palm saying “om keshavaya namah”, sip the water from your palm. Repeat the same with “om narayanaya namah” and “om madhavaya namah”. Then purify the right hand again by putting water in it and throwing it away.
First item to be offerd is the incense. Light it up, purify with water (3 drops) and, while ringing the bell, which was purified in the same manner, offer the incense by circling it 7 times clockwise around the personalities on the altar, beginning with Srila Prabhupada, through the parampara (if on the altar) to the Panca-tattva in following order: Srivas Thakur, Gadadhara Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Caitanya. After the incense is offered in this way, turn to the persons present at the arati and offer prasadam to them by circling around them 3 times. Next is the ghi lamp. Purify your hands. Light the ghi lamp up, purify it, purify the bell, offer it while ringing. Prasadam (flame of the lamp after being offered) is distributed to persons present at the aratik - everyone takes the heat of the flame into his right palm and touches his forehead. Next is the water. Purify your hands. Pour water into the small conch, purify the conch, purify the bell and offer the water while ringing. After offering it to each personality on the altar always pour a little bit of water out of the conch back into the cup. Though, after offering the remaining water to Lord Caitanya pour it into your right palm and throw it on the persons present - prasadam distribution ki Jaya! Next is handkerchief - purify your hands, purify the handkerchief, purify the bell, offer. Next is the flower. After being offered everyone present gets to smell it. Next is the peacock fan (only in warm weather). After fanning everyone on the altar 7 times, fan the persons present at the arati (3 times). Then the camara, same procedure - purification, offering, prasadam distribution. Finally purify your hands, purify the blowing conchshell and blow 3 times nicely to conclude the ceremony. Wipe the water on the floor with ready cloth and pay your obeisances with Srila Prabhupada pranam mantra. Take prasadam (flame and flower). Chant Hare Krsna and dance in extasy!
Here are few more quotes regarding the arati ceremony. It is simple and delightful. In our lives we always worship someone or something. Let us, therefore, worship the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna. There is no loss, but the gain is impossible to estimate. By performing the arati ceremony everything in life becomes auspicious.
“Prabhupada: Arati means the arati, reception. Koren, doing. Brahma, Lord Brahma. Adi, headed by. Deva-gane, all the demigods. that means "To offer arati reception to Lord Caitanya, all the demigods have come down, headed by Lord Brahma." Arati koren brahma-adi deva-gane.”
(Srila Prabhupada spelling of Arati Song -- Los Angeles, December 31, 1968)
“As far as temples are concerned, in each and every royal palace or rich man's house, inevitably there is a nice temple, and the members of the household rise early in the morning and go to the temple to see the mangalaratrika ceremony. The mangalaratrika ceremony is the first worship of the morning. In the aratrika ceremony a light is offered in circles before the Deities, as are a conchshell and flowers and a fan. The Lord is supposed to rise early in the morning and take some light refreshment and give audience to the devotees. The devotees then go back to the house or sing the glories of the Lord in the temple.”
(SB 3.22.33 purp.)
“Prabhupada: So, as they are mentioned, the first principle is that every devotee must try to rise early in the morning. That is first business. This practice should be done first. No one should sleep more than six hours. Or, if you want to, sleep more... But you must rise in early in the morning. At four o'clock, attend the aratrika, mangala-aratrika. Mangala-aratrika means auspicious beginning of your day. If you stand before mangala-aratrika... In Vrndavana you see now, every temple, as soon as there is four o'clock, the ding-dong bell immediately begins. People can rise early in the morning, take bath in the Yamuna and visit the Deities in the temple. There is no necessity of passing M.A. examination, taking B.A. degree for devotional service. Simply you have to follow the regulative principles. Then automatically you'll become spiritualized. Very simple method.”
(Nectar of Devotion lecture -- Vrndavana, November 13, 1972)
“The eyes which do not look at the symbolic representations of the Personality of Godhead Visnu [His forms, name, quality, etc.] are like those printed on the plumes of the peacock, and the legs which do not move to the holy places [where the Lord is remembered] are considered to be like tree trunks.
Especially for the householder devotees, the path of Deity worship is strongly recommended. As far as possible, every householder, by the direction of the spiritual master, must install the Deity of Visnu, forms like Radha-Krsna, Laksmi-Narayana or Sita-Rama especially, or any other form of the Lord, like Nrsimha, Varaha, Gaura-Nitai, Matsya, Kurma, salagrama-sila and many other forms of Visnu, like Trivikrama, Kesava, Acyuta, Vasudeva, Narayana and Damodara, as recommended in the Vaisnava-tantras or Puranas, and one's family should worship strictly following the directions and regulations of arcana-vidhi. Any member of the family who is above twelve years of age should be initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, and all the members of the household should be engaged in the daily service of the Lord, beginning from morning (4 a.m.) till night (10 p.m.) by performing mangala-aratrika, niranjana, arcana, puja, kirtana, srngara, bhoga-vaikali, sandhya-aratrika, patha, bhoga (at night), sayana-aratrika, etc. Engagement in such worship of the Deity, under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, will greatly help the householders to purify their very existence and make rapid progress in spiritual knowledge. Simple theoretical book knowledge is not sufficient for a neophyte devotee. Book knowledge is theoretical, whereas the arcana process is practical. Spiritual knowledge must be developed by a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge, and that is the guaranteed way for attainment of spiritual perfection.
“Is it very difficult task? No, it is not at all. Krsna gives the formula how He'll be satisfied. He says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. These four things: "Always think of Me..." Everyone can think of Krsna. He is thinking of so many nonsense things. Why not Krsna? Here is Krsna. If you simply think of Krsna and Radha-Madhava, then where... Is very difficult thing? Therefore temple is there so that you see Krsna always or at some interval, during aratrika, during mangala-aratrika, during bhoga. So the impression is always within your heart, and you think of. Where is the difficulty? Where is the difficulty? No difficulty.”
(Srila Prabhupada class, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.42 -- Mayapura, October 22, 1974)
“The Bhagavata has recommended hearing, chanting, thinking... Hearing, chanting, thinking and worshiping, the process which we just now introduced on the advent of Jagannatha Svami. Now this temple is now completely fixed. So the worshiping process, this is the worshiping process. By light... This is called aratrika. So at the end of kirtana this aratrika will go, and the worshiping process is to take the heat of the light, and whatever your condition is, pay something for the worship. So, this simple process, if you follow, you just see how you realize the Absolute Truth. Another, I request you, all the devotees, when you come to the temple, you bring one fruit and one flower. If you can bring more fruit, more flower, it is very good. If not, it is not very expensive. One fruit and one flower. And offer to the Deity.”
(Jagannatha Deities Installation Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.13-14 -- San Francisco, March 23, 1967
“In the Skanda Purana there is the following description of the result of seeing aratrika (worship) of the Deity: "If someone sees the face of the Lord while aratrika is going on, he can be relieved of all sinful reactions coming from many, many thousands and millions of years past. He is even excused from the killing of a brahmana or similar prohibited activities.”
(NoD 9 Observing Aratrika and Celebrations of the Lord)
“Varnasrama-dharma, therefore, is essential, for it can bring people to sattva-guna. Tada rajas-tamo-bhavah kama-lobhadayas ca ye (SB 1.2.19). Tamo-guna and rajo-guna increase lust and greed, which implicate a living entity in such a way that he must exist in this material world in many, many forms. That is very dangerous. One should therefore be brought to sattva-guna by the establishment of varnasrama-dharma and should develop the brahminical qualifications of being very neat and clean, rising early in the morning and seeing mangala-aratrika, and so on. In this way, one should stay in sattva-guna, and then one cannot be influenced by tamo-guna and rajo-guna.
"After one is established in devotional service, the positive actions are (1) hearing, (2) chanting, (3) remembering, (4) worshiping, (5) praying, (6) serving, (7) accepting servitorship, (8) becoming a friend and (9) surrendering fully.
"One should also (10) dance before the Deity, (11) sing before the Deity, (12) open one's mind to the Deity, (13) offer obeisances to the Deity, (14) stand up before the Deity and the spiritual master just to show them respect, (15) follow the Deity or the spiritual master and (16) visit different places of pilgrimage or go see the Deity in the temple.
“One should (17) circumambulate the temple, (18) recite various prayers, (19) chant softly, (20) chant congregationally, (21) smell the incense and flower garlands offered to the Deity, and (22) eat the remnants of food offered to the Deity.
"One should (23) attend arati and festivals, (24) see the Deity, (25) present what is very dear to oneself to the Deity, (26) meditate on the Deity, and (27–30) serve those related to the Lord.
(Cc Madhya 22.121-124)
“You should endeavor directly going back to home, back to Godhead, Krsna. That should be your endeavor. Yes. Mad-yajino 'pi yanti mam [Bg. 9.25].
And the process is very simple. Yajinah, just worshiping Krsna as we have introduced. This mangala-aratrika, this offering food, worshiping. Mad-yajinah. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru [Bg. 18.65], yaji. Yajana means worship. So what is the difficulty? If, by this simple process, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti [Bg. 4.9], you can go back to Krsna, why we shall try for going to the heavenly planet, moon planet, this planet, where again we have to come from. Ksine punye martya-lokam. This is intelligence. Thank you very much.”
(Bhagavad-gita 2.23-24 -- London, August 27, 1973)
“Therefore, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that this is the incarnation of God in this age. And who worships Him? The process is very simple. Just keep a picture of Lord Caitanya with His associates. Lord Caitanya is in the middle, accompanied by His principal associates -- Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, and Srivasa. One simply has to keep this picture. One can keep it anywhere. It is not that one has to come to us to see this picture. Anyone can have this picture in his home, chant this Hare Krsna mantra, and thus worship Lord Caitanya. That is the simple method. But who will capture this simple method? Those who have good brains. Without much bother, if one simply keeps a picture of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at home and chants Hare Krsna, then one will realize God. Anyone can adopt this simple method. There is no expenditure, there is no tax, nor is there any need to build a very big church or temple. Anyone, anywhere, can sit down on the road or beneath a tree and chant the Hare Krsna mantra and worship God. Therefore it is a great opportunity.
(SSR 5b: The Appearance of Lord Caitanya)
“Yes, you can set up a Guru-Gauranga altar and if you can offer full arati ceremony, that is nice. Panca-tattva are most merciful.”
(Letter to: Krsna Devi -- Gorakhpur 16 February, 1971)
“All glories, all glories to the beautiful arati ceremony of Lord Caitanya. This Gaura-arati is taking place in a grove on the banks of the Jahnavi [Ganges] and is attracting the minds of all living entities in the universe.
On Lord Caitanya's right side is Lord Nityananda, and on His left is Sri Gadadhara. Nearby stands Sri Advaita, and Srivasa Thakura is holding an umbrella over Lord Caitanya's head.
Lord Caitanya has sat down on a jeweled throne, and the demigods, headed by Lord Brahma, perform the arati ceremony.
Narahari Sarakara and other associates of Lord Caitanya fan Him with camaras, and devotees headed by Sanjaya Pandita, Mukunda Datta, and Vasu Ghosa sing sweet kirtana.
Conchshells, bells, and karatalas resound, and the mrdangas play very sweetly. This kirtana music is supremely sweet and relishable to hear.
The brilliance of Lord Caitanya's face conquers millions upon millions of moons, and the garland of forest flowers around His neck shines.
Lord Siva, Sukadeva Gosvami, and Narada Muni are all there, and their voices are choked with the ecstasy of transcendental love. Thus Thakura Bhaktivinoda envisions the glory of Lord Sri Caitanya.
(Gaura-arati by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)