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July 28, 1999   VNN4389  Comment on this storyNext StoriesAbout the AuthorNext StoriesOther Stories by this Author

Q&A: 'Bhagavatam, Murti Pratistha'


EDITORIAL, Jul 28 (VNN) — (from Sanga wfd@efn. org)

"When you cultivate love for a particular form of the Lord in your heart, he will appear before you, and you will appear before him in a particular form suited for his service. Otherwise, there is no such thing as his appearance, for it is he alone who exists everywhere at all times. "

Our readers write. Replies by Swami B. V. Tripurari.

Q u e s t i o n: We see from scripture that 'jaha bhagavat parho vaishnaber sthane' which states that we have to hear Srimad Bhagavatam from 'shuddha bhakta' (pure devotee). Once our listening is proper the pure devotee can permit me to open Srimad Bhagavatam (specifically the Spiritual Master). Can somebody go through Srimad Bhagavatam who is not initiated or even is not having 'ahara shuddhi' (which means not 'krita samkalpa' in taking Sri Krsna's parsadam)?

I remember that I heard from a shuddha bhakta that we are allowed to go through Sri Caitanya Bhagavata (CB). to be strict on this matter it was also said that one who has read Sri CB for hundred times, can go through Sri Caitanya Caritamrta (CC). And one will be allowed to study Srimad Bhagavatam after he reads Sri CC for hundred times. Your comments? - Nitai

A n s w e r: Anyone can go through the Bhagavata, but it will only be bhakti if he or she does it under the guidance of or on the order of a Vaisnava. The principle behind the advice you were given must be understood. Statements such as 'one must first read CB 100 times, then CC 100 times, ' etc. are made in order to stress a principle. The principle is that these books contain successive levels of instruction and understanding of the theology. CB represents Nityananda prabhu. One must go through Nitai if he is to approach Mahaprabhu, who is represented in CC. One must got through Mahaprabhu in order to understand Radha Krishna, who are the subject of the Bhagavatam.

Many gurus do not allow their followers to read the Bhagavata before they are initiated. The purpose of this is to stress that one must learn the Bhagavata from a Vaisnava, and that taking shelter of and receiving initiation from guru is essential if one is to understand the Bhagavatam. Some gurus may allow persons to read the Bhagavata before initiation, such as my guru Maharaja. Indeed, he desired that his edition of the Bhagavata be distributed widely, and he ordered his disciples to see to this. However, during his manifest presence it was abundantly clear that anyone who desired to understand the Bhagavata must do so by way of accepting initiation from a qaulified guru, he himself being the obvious choice.

Preaching involves the risk that some people may offend the Bhagavata, etc., but those who take that risk have the power to digest any reprecussions that may come. My spiritual master demonstrated this kind of power, 'krsna sakti vina nahi tar pravartana'. Anyone who cannot understand this, does not understand what spontaneous devotion is all about, however well versed they may be in its theory. Such persons are not 'vaisnaver sthane'.

Q u e s t i o n: I am a student at IIT, Kanpur. I am in the association of a group of devotees here. The problem is that no one is initiated. We have not overcome bad qualities like lust, greed, envy, etc. We are bound to take food in the cafeteria (other than Krishna prasada). This is our present status. In such a state can we open books like Srimad Bhagavatam? I mean, are we allowed to open at least the first canto? - Prasad

A n s w e r: Conquering lust, etc. is most easily accomplished by studying Srimad Bhagavatam. However, it should be studied under the direction of a sadhu. When this is in place everything else follows naturally. Until you find someone who captures your heart for Krishna, study Srimad Bhagavatam on my advice. Read my Guru Maharaja's edition and ask questions throught this medium. I will try to help you as much as possible.

Q u e s t i o n: Can you kindly explain about the 'Murti Pratistha' installation of the deity of Sri Sri Radha Krishna And Sri Sri Gour Nitai. - Vrajaraj

A n s w e r: The procedure for Murti Pratistha is detailed in Sanatana Goswami's Hari Bhakti Vilasa. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura adapted his procedure from this smriti sastra of the Gaudiya lineage. In his mission, Pujyapada Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami was most active in attending to the installation of the Deities in the 64 Maths of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta under his direction. He is still with us today at 104 years of age.

My Guru Maharaja abbreviated the system established by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. However, he also instructed us to learn more about Deity worship from Gaudiya Math. He also recommend the standard and tutelage in this regard of the Radha Raman Goswamis in Vrindavana. Of all of the Goswami temples, their standard of Deity worship is the highest, and it most closely follows Hari Bhakti Vilasa.

Other than the details of the procedure of installing the Deity, the spirit that calls the Deity to manifest is all important. Krishna appears by the force of love. He shares his love with the servants of the Vaisnavas by making them Vaisnavas, infusing them with bhava, 'suddha sattva visesatma prema suryamsu samyabhak'. When the jiva is infused thus with hladidni and samvit sakti, he is fit to interact with Krishna. Such a devotee's love causes Krishna to appear.

In Srimad Bhagavatam this is described thus: 'In whichever form your devotees meditate upon you, out of your mercy you appear to them in that very same form. '

Let me relate my own personal experience. Many years ago I asked Prabhupada if I could worship the Deity of Gaura Nitai, my own personal Deity. I suggested this because I was constantly traveling from temple to temple and each temple had its own pujaris, making it difficult for me to engage in any puja personally. In those days no one thought of worshiping a Deity without Prabhupada's express permission. He granted this permission to me, suggesting that I worship small Gaura Nitai Deities. He told me to keep them in a chest, take them out in the morning for worship, and put them back in the chest when I traveled.

I asked one of the devotees serving with me who was then in India to bring me back a small Deity of Gaura Nitai. We fell out of communication and my attention shifted to other services. Some months later this Godbrother called me from New York to tell me that he had brought the Deity. I hesitated for a moment, until he said that the devotees in New York would be eager to take care of them if I was too busy. When I heard this, I told him to please bring them to me in Chicago. There I kept the 'uninstalled' Deities on my desk and chanted japa before them in the morning.

Gradually I gathered some pieces of cloth and started to wrap them. Suddenly one morning they spoke to me. I then made all arrangements to 'install' them while traveling, culminating in a procedure on Radhastami in Laguna Beach. My Godbrother, Visnujana Maharaja was with me and remarked, regarding installation, that merely by the sanction of the acarya they were already installed, and the bathing procedure, etc. was also very nice. These Deities are on our altar here at Audarya Ashram.

So try to catch the spirit. When you cultivate love for a particular form of the Lord in your heart, he will appear before you, and you will appear before him in a particular form suited for his service. Otherwise there is no such thing as his appearance, for it is he alone who exists everywhere at all times.

Coming soon on CD, selected discourses by Swami B. V. Tripurari. For information, titles and cost, contact "Sanga" wfd@efn. org

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