Meditations on Pure Bhakti #15

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Procedure for Worshipping Sri Sri Gaura Nitai


Waking the Deities

After bathing, dressing, applying tilaka, and performing acamana, offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master.

While ringing a bell, call out "Jaya Sri-Sri-Gaura-Nitai!" and turn on the altar lights.

Ringing a bell, touch the lotus feet of the Spiritual Master (picture or murti) and ask him to rise from bed; then touch the lotus feet of Gaura-Nitai and ask Them to rise from bed. (If the Deities are not put physically in beds, visualize that They have rested in bed and are now rising from it.)

Offer, or meditate on offering, water for Their Lordships to sip (acamana). If possible, offer them sweets.

Bhoga Offering

On a plate reserved for the Lord's use, nicely arrange the bhoja preparations. Perform acamana and offer obeisances to your initiating guru. Set the offering plate in front of the Deities, either directly on the altar or on a table before the altar. Arrange for the Lord to eat in private, perhaps by putting up a curtain before the altar.

With your with hand purify the bhoga by sprinkling it lightly with water from a pancha-patra while chanting the mahamantra. Sitting on an asana before the altar and ringing a bell, recite three times the pranama prayers to your Spiritual Master, begging permission to assist him in his service to the Lord:

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate sankarsana-dasadhikarin iti namine

namo prabhupadanuga prema-murti krpatmane

Then chant Srila Prabhupada's Pranama Mantras three times:

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate Bhaktivedanta Swamin iti namine

namas te sarasvate-deve gaura-vani-pracarine

"I offer my respectful obeisances unto Srila Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krsna, having taken shelter of His Lotus feet."

Chant the following prayer to Lord Caitanya three times, requesting His mercy:

namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah

"O most munificent incarnation! You are Krsna Himself appearing as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krsna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You."

Chant the following prayer three times, offering respect to Lord Krsna:

namo brahmanya-devaya-go-brahmana-hitaya ca
jagad-dhitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah

"I offer my obeisances again and again to Lord Krsna, who is always worshipped by qualified brahmanas and is very dear to them. He is always concerned with the welfare of the cows, the brahmanas, and the whole universe, and He gives pleasure to the cows, land and senses."

Leave the room for ten minutes, allowing the Lord and His associates (including the Spiritual Master and the previous Acaryas) to eat. During this time, if initiated, chant the Gayatri mantras for the Spiritual Master and for Lord Caitanya (the third and fifth guru-given mantras); then chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra and other Vaisnava songs.

Re-enter the room, clapping your hands three times. Remove the plate, praying that you have served the Lord and His associates to Their full satisfaction.

While it is not expected that home worship be strictly punctual, as in the temple, it is best to especially keep mangala-arati regularly at 4:30 am every day. Whatever food one prepares for oneself and others must be offered to the Deities, so the number of offerings may vary; however, one should have a set number of offerings in the day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for example) to which the family cooking schedule is oriented.

Daily Service

You should worship the Deities with arati and kirtana at least once a day, and preferably twice, in the morning and evening. If possible, also offer dhupa-arati after the midday bhoga offering.

Morning Worship (Bathing and Dressing)

One of the simplest ways to worship the Lord is to offer each item mentally while presenting a spoonful of water from a panca-patra and then discard the water into a throw-out pot. You may do this without mantras, simply by requesting the Lord to accept each item. Perform this worship in the morning.

As far as possible bathe and dress the deities every day putting them into a day outfit in the morning and a night outfit every evening. Metal deties must be polished regularly to keep them bright and shiny.

The basic procedures for Gaura-Nitai worship are as follows:

Gather all the required paraphernalia and arrange it neatly and conveniently for performing the worship. Make sure you have everything you need so you won't have to interrupt the worship to get missing items.

Sit on an asana and perform acamana; then lightly sprinkle yourself, the area, and the paraphernalia with water from the panca-patra, chanting the Hare Krsna mahamantra.

Offer worship to the Spiritual Master as follows: ringing a bell with your left hand, offering flowers dipped in sandalwood paste at his lotus feet. Beg for his blessings to perform the worship of Gaura-Nitai. Then chant the Gayatri mantras silently.

Offer worship to Gaura-Nitai as follows:

Invite Their Lordships to the bathing receptacle with a gesture of the hands, remove Their clothing, clean Them with a damp cloth, and cover Them with gamchas. If the Deities are metal, polish Them at this time, using a cloth to apply almond paste or powdered gopi-candana mixed with a little lemon juice. Avoid the eyes and painted areas. Clean off the gopi-candana or paste with a soft, damp cloth.

Ringing a bell in your left hand, pour water over Their Lordships from a conch held in your right hand. Fill the conch at least three times. Chant the Brahma-samhita prayers while bathing Them:

cintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa-
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor who is tending the cows, yielding all desire, in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of purpose trees, always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of thousands of laksmis or gopis.

venum kvanantam aravinda-dalayataksam-
barhavatamsam asitambuda-sundarangam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept in playing on His flute, with blooming eyes like lotus petals with head decked with peacock's feather, with the figure of beauty tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and His unique loveliness charming millions of Cupids.

Dry the Deities with towels, dress Them, and offer ornaments and garlands. Ringing a bell, offer flowers and Tulasi leaves (if available) with candana to Their Lordships lotus feet; then offer incense and a ghee or camphor lamp. Ringing a bell and chanting the prayers for offering bhoga, offer some fruit and/or sweets and drinking water.

Offer obeisances and beg forgiveness for any offenses you may have committed in the worship.

Finally, clear away the paraphernalia used in the worship. At this time you may offer a simple darsana-arati with incense, flowers, and camara (or simply with camara) while singing or playing a recording of the Govindam song.

Services in the Course of the Day

You may offer breakfast, lunch, and the evening meal in the same manner as described above. After lunch (followed by a dhupa-arati if possible), the Deities should be put to rest, at least by meditation, and They should be closed from view in the afternoon. As in all cases, if Deities are in a public living space, make sure they are curtained when not being attended, and offered proper respect when the curtain is open.

Putting the Deities to Rest at Night

Offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master and perform acamana. Change the Deities' dress to nightclothes, or at least remove Their ornaments and garlands.

Arrange the Deities' beds and invite Their Lordships to take rest. Lay Them down in Their beds and visualize that you are massaging Their legs.

Finally, offer obeisances and turn off the lights.