Lord Vishnu

Best day for all auspicious works-Deva Utthana Ekadashi

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Introduction

Deva utthana ekadashi or Deva uthani or Deva prabodhani ekadashi or deva uthan gyaras are the names of the Deva Prabodhini Ekadashi or the ekadashi that falls 11 days after Dipawali. This is the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the most auspicious month of Kartik

This is one of the very important ekadashis of the year and has  great importance within itself. On this very day, Lord Vishnu wakes up from his divine sleep after a sleeping period of 4 months of Chaturmasya.

Story behind it

For these four months, he acts as a gatekeeper for his dear devotee Bali maharaja at Sutalaloka who gave up everything even himself in charity when Lord Krishna took the Vamana incarnation despite being warned by his spiritual preceptor Shukracharya.

When he won Lord’s heart, the lord asked him for a benediction to which he refused. In return to his devotee’s selfless devotion, the lord awarded himself to him.

Rituals observed on this day

The people who desire liberation from this material entanglement and wish to develop devotion to Lord Hari keep ekadashi.

  1. One must rise up early in the morning and must take a full bath in fresh water.
  2. One must put on clean clothes and put a tilak on his forehead.
  3. One must worship Lord Krishna by chanting his holy names.
  4. One must not eat grains the whole day and must try to fast completely even without water till noon.
  5. One must not sleep too much and try to engage himself in remembering the lord and his pastimes
  6. One must break his fast the next morning after 1 hour of sunrise.
  7. In the evening, one must gather the relatives and must decorate the house with a mixture of geru and multani mitti by drawing forms of Lord Narayan.
  8. One must light a ghee lamp before Narayana and offer him Singhada (Water chestnut), Sugarcane and other eatables.
  9. One must sing his glories keeping awake throughout the night.

Food restriction on Ekadashi

  • Restricted foods on Ekadasi:
  • Tomatoes, eggplants, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, beets, bitter melon (karela), loki, parmal, toroi, kunli, drumsticks, bindi (ladies’ fingers) and banana flowers
  • Peas, chickpeas and all types of beans, including products made from beans (e.g., papadams, tofu, tempeh)
  • All leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, salads, cabbages) and leafy herbs like parsley, coriander leaves, celery and curry leaves
  • Grains (e.g., millet, barley, farina, pasta, rice, corn) and all types of flour made from grains and beans (e.g., rice flour, chickpea flour, urad dahl flour)
  • Starches from corn or grains, and products made from or mixed with these starches like baking soda, baking powder, certain soft drinks with corn syrup, custard, certain yoghurts and puddings, certain varieties of cream and cottage cheese, certain sweets and candies, and tapioca balls
  • Oils made from grains (e.g., corn oil, mustard oil, sesame oil) and products fried in these oils (e.g., fried nuts, potato chips and other fried snack foods)
  • Honey, and sweets made with starches
  • Spices not used on Ekadasi: hing (asafetida), sesame seeds, cumin, fenugreek, mustard, tamarind, fennel, cardamom and nutmeg
  • Foods that can be taken on Ekadasi 
  • All fruits (fresh and dried), all nuts and all oils made from nuts
  • Potatoes, pumpkin, cucumber, radish, squash, lemon, avocado, olives, coconut, buckwheat, all sugars
  • Black pepper, fresh ginger, pure salt and fresh turmeric, all taken from a new and clean package
  • All pure milk products

Deva Prabodhini Ekadashi Katha

Lord Brahma said to Narada Muni, “Dear son, O best of the sages, I shall narrate to you the glories of Haribodhini Ekadasi, which eradicates all kinds of sins and bestows great merit, and ultimately liberation, upon the wise persons who surrender unto the Supreme Lord.
“O best of the brahmanas, the merits acquired by bathing in the Ganges remain significant only as long as Haribodhini Ekadasi does not come.
This Ekadasi, which occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Kartika, is much more purifying than a bath in the ocean, at a place of pilgrimage, or in a lake.
This sacred Ekadasi is more powerful in nullifying sin than one thousand Asvamedha sacrifices and one hundred Rajasuya sacrifices.”

Narada Muni inquired, “O father, please describe the relative merits of fasting completely on Ekadasi, eating supper (without grains or beans), or eating once at midday (without grains or beans).”
Lord Brahma replied, “If a person eats once at midday on Ekadasi, the sins of his previous birth are erased, if he eats supper, the sins acquired during his previous two births are removed, and if he fasts completely, the sins accumulated during his pervious seven births are eradicated.
“O son, whatever is only rarely achieved within the three worlds is obtained by him who strictly observes Haribodhini Ekadasi.
A person whose sins equal Mount Sumeru in volume sees them all reduced to nothing if he simply fasts on Papaharini Ekadasi (another name for Haribodhini Ekadasi).
The sins a person has accumulated over a thousand previous births are burned to ashes if he not only fasts but also remains awake throughout Ekadasi night, just as a mountain of cotton can be burned to ashes if one lights a small fire in it.

O Narada, a person who strictly observes this fast achieves the results I have mentioned.
Even if one does a small amount of pious activity on this day, following the rules and regulations, one will earn merit to Mount Sumeru in volume; however a person who does not follow the rules and regulations given in the Scriptures may perform pious activity equal to Mount Sumeru in volume, but he will not earn even a small amount of merit.
One who does not chant the Gayatri mantra three times a day, who disregards fast days, who does not believe in God, who criticises the Vedic Scriptures, who thinks the Vedas bring only ruination to one who follows their injunctions, who enjoys another’s wife, who is utterly foolish and wicked, who does not appreciate any service that has been rendered to him, or who cheats others – such a sinful person can never perform any religious activity effectively.
Be he a brahmana or a shudra, whoever tries to enjoy another man’s wife, particularly the wife of a twice-born person, is said to be no better than a dog-eater.

“O best of the sages, any brahmana who enjoys sex with a widow or a brahmana lady married to another man brings ruin to himself and his family.
Any brahmana who enjoys illicit sex will have no children in his next life, and any past merit he may have earned is ruined.
Indeed, if such a person displays any arrogance toward a twice-born brahmana or a spiritual master, he loses all his spiritual advancement immediately, as well as his wealth and children.

“These three kinds of men ruin their acquired merits: he whose character is immoral, he who has sex with the wife of a dog-eater, and he who appreciates the association of rogues.
Whoever associates with sinful people and visits their homes without a spiritual purpose will go directly to the abode of Lord Yamaraj, the superintendent of death.
And if someone eats in such a home, his acquired merit is destroyed, along with his fame, duration of life, children, and happiness.

“Any sinful rascal who insults a saintly person soon loses his religiosity, economic development, and sense gratification, and he at last burns in the fire of hell.
Anyone who likes to offend saintly persons, or who does not interrupt someone who is insulting saintly persons, is considered no better than an ass.
Such a wicked man sees his dynasty destroyed before his very eyes.

“A person whose character is unclean, who is a rogue or a swindler, or who always finds fault with others does not achieve a higher destination after death, even if he gives charity generously or performs other pious deed.
Therefore one should refrain from performing inauspicious acts and perform only pious ones, by which one will acquire merit and avoid suffering.
“However, the sins of one who, after due consideration, decides to fast of Haribodhini Ekadasi are erased from one hundred previous lives, and whoever fasts and remains awake overnight on this Ekadasi achieves unlimited merit and after death goes to the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu, and then thousand of his ancestors, relatives, and descendants also reach that abode.
Even if one’s forefathers were implicated in many sins and are suffering in hell, they still attain beautifully ornamented spiritual bodies and happily go to Vishnu’s abode.

O Narada, even one who has committed the heinous sin of killing a brahmana is freed of all stains on his character by faster on Haribodhini Ekadasi and remaining awake that night.
The merit that cannot by won by bathing in all the places of pilgrimage, performing a horse sacrifice, or giving cows, gold, or fertile land in charity can easily be achieved by fasting on this holy day and remaining awake throughout the night.

“Anyone who observes Haribodhini Ekadasi is celebrated as highly qualified and makes his dynasty famous.
As Death is certain, so losing one’s wealth is also certain.
Knowing this, O best of sages, one should observe a fast on this day so dear to Hari – Sri Haribodhini Ekadasi.

“All places of pilgrimage in the three worlds at once come to reside in the house of a person who fasts on this Ekadasi.
Therefore, to please the Lord, who holds a disc in His hand, one should give up all engagements, surrender, and observe this Ekadasi fast.
One who fasts on this Haribodhini day is acknowledged as a wise man, a true yogi, an ascetic, and one whose senses are truly under control.
He alone enjoys this world properly, and he will certainly achieve liberation.
This Ekadasi is very dear to Lord Vishnu, and thus it is the very essence of religiosity.
Even one observance of it bestows the topmost reward in all the three worlds.

“O Naradaji, whoever fasts on this Ekadasi will definitely not enter a womb again, and thus faithful devotees of the Supreme Godhead give up all varieties of religion and simply surrender to fasting on this Ekadasi.
For that great soul who honours this Ekadasi by fasting and remaining awake throughout the night, the Supreme Lord, Sri Govinda, personally terminates the sinful reactions that soul has acquired by the actions of his mind, body, and words.
“O son, for anyone who bathes in a place of pilgrimage, gives charity, chants the holy names of the Supreme Lord, undergoes austerities, and performs sacrifices for God on Haribodhini Ekadasi, the merit thus earned all becomes imperishable.
A devotee who worships Lord Madhava on this day with first-class paraphernalia becomes free from the great sins of a hundred lifetimes.
A person who observes this fast and worships Lord Vishnu properly is freed from great danger.

“This Ekadasi fast pleases Lord Janardana so much that He takes the person who observes it back to His abode, and while going there the devotee illuminates then ten universal directions.
Whoever desires beauty and happiness should try to honour Haribodhini Ekadasi, especially if it falls on Dvadasi.
The sins of one’s past hundred births – the sins committed during childhood, youth and old age in al those lifetimes, whether those sins are dry or wet – are nullified by the Supreme Lord Govinda if one fasts on Haribodhini Ekadasi with devotion.
Haribodhini Ekadasi is the best Ekadasi.
Nothing is unobtainable or rare in this world for one who fasts on this day, for it gives food grains, great wealth, and high merit, as well as eradication of all sin, the terrible obstacle to liberation.
Fasting on this Ekadasi is a thousand times better than giving charity on the day of the solar or lunar eclipse.
Again I say to you, O Naradaji, whatever merit is earned by one who bathes in a place of pilgrimage, performs sacrifices, and studies the Vedas is only one then-millionth the merit earned by the person who fasts but one on Haribodhini Ekadasi.
Whatever merit one has acquired in his life by some pious activities becomes completely fruitless if one does not observe the Ekadasi fast and worship Lord Vishnu in the month of Kartika.
Therefore, you should always worship the Supreme Lord, Janardana, and render service to Him.
Thus you will attain the desired goal, the highest perfection.

“On Haribodhini Ekadasi, a devotee of the Lord should not eat in another’s house or eat food cooked by a non devotee.
If he does so, he achieves only the merit of fasting on a full moon day.
Philosophical discussion of Scriptures in the month of Kartika pleases Sri Vishnu more than if one gives elephants and horses in charity or performs a costly sacrifice.
Whoever chants or hears descriptions of Lord Vishnu’s qualities and pastimes, even if but a half or even a fourth of a verse, attains the wonderful merit derived from giving away a hundred cows to a brahmana.
O Narada, during the month of Kartika one should give up all kinds or ordinary duties and devote one’s full time and energy especially while fasting, to discussing the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord.
Such glorification of Sri Hari on the day so dear to the Lord, Ekadasi, liberates a hundred previous generations. One who spends his time enjoying such discussions, especially in the month of Kartika, achieves the results of performing ten thousand fire sacrifices and burns all his sins to ashes.

“He who hears the wonderful narrations concerning Lord Vishnu, particularly during the month of Kartika, automatically earns the same merit as that bestowed upon someone who donates a hundred cows in charity.
O great sage, a person who chants the glories of Lord Hari on Ekadasi achieves the merit earned by donating seven islands.”

Narada Muni asked his glorious father, “O universal sire, I best of all demigods, please tell me how to observe this most sacred Ekadasi.
What kind of merit does it bestow upon the faithful?”

Lord Brahma replied, “O son, a person who wants to observe this Ekadasi should rise early on Ekadasi morning, during the brahma-muhurta hour (an hour and a half before sunrise until fifty minutes before sunrise).
He should then clean his teeth and bathe in a lake, river, pond, or well, or in his own home, as the situation warrants.
After worshipping Lord Sri Keshava, he should listen carefully to the sacred descriptions of the Lord.
He should pray to the Lord thus: ‘O Lord Keshava, I shall fast on this day, which is so dear to You, and tomorrow I shall honour Your sacred prasadam.
O lotus-eyed Lord, O infallible one, You are my only shelter. Kindly protect me.’

“Having spoken this solemn prayer before the Lord with great love and devotion, one should fast cheerfully.
O Narada, whoever remains awake all night on this Ekadasi, singing beautiful songs glorifying the Lord, dancing in ecstasy, playing delightful instrumental music for His transcendental pleasure, and reciting the pastimes of Lord Krishna as records in bona-fide Vedic literature – such a person will most assuredly reside far beyond the three worlds, in the eternal, spiritual realm of God.

“On Haribodhini Ekadasi one should worship Sri Krishna with camphor, fruits, and aromatic flowers, especially the yellow agaru flower.
One should not absorb oneself in making money on this important day.
In other words, greed should be exchanged for charity.
This is the process for turning loss into unlimited merit.
One should offer many kinds of fruits to the Lord and bathe Him with water from a conchshell.
Each of these devotional practices, when performed on Haribodhini Ekadasi, is ten million times more beneficial than bathing in all the places of pilgrimage and giving all forms of charity.

“Even Lord Indra joins his palm and offers his obeisances to a devotee who worships Lord Janardana with first-class agastya flowers of this day.
The supreme Lord Hari is very pleased when he is decorated with nice agastya flowers.
O Narada, I give liberation to one who devotedly worships Lord Krishna on this Ekadasi in the month of Kartika with leaves of the bel tree.
And for one who worships Lord Janardana with fresh tulasi leaves and fragrant flowers during this month, O son, I personally burn to ashes all the sins he has committed for then thousand births.

“One who merely sees Tulsi Maharani, touches her, mediates on her, narrates her history, offers obeisances to her, prays to her for her grace, plants her, worships her, or waters her lives in the abode of Lord Hari eternally.
O Narada, one who serves Tulsi-devi in these nine ways achieves happiness in the higher world for as many thousands of yugas as there are roots and subroots growing from a mature tulasi plant.
When a full grown tulasi plant produces seeds, many plants grow from those seeds and spread their branches, twigs, and flowers, and these flowers also produce numerous seeds.
For as many thousands of kalpas as there are seeds produced in this way, the forefathers of one who serves tulasi in these nine ways will live in the abode of Lord Hari.

“Those who worship Lord Keshava with kadamba flowers, which are very pleasing to Him, get is mercy and do not see the abode of Yamaraj, death personified.
What is the use of worshipping someone else if all desires can be fulfilled by pleasing Lord Hari?
For example, a devotee who offers Him bakula, ashoka, and patali flowers is freed from misery and distress for as long as the sun and moon exist in this universe, and at last he achieves liberation. O best of the brahmanas, an offering of kannera flowers to Lord Jagannatha brings as much mercy upon the devotee as that earned by worshipping Lord Keshava for four yugas.
One who offers tulasi flowers (manjaris) to Sri Krishna during the month of Kartika receives more merit than can be obtained by donating ten million cows.
Even a devotional offering of newly grown sprouts of grass brings with it a hundred times the benefit obtained by ordinary ritualistic worship of the Supreme Lord.

“One who worships Lord Vishnu with the leaves of the samika tree is freed from the clutches of Yamaraja, the lord of death.
One who worships Vishnu during the rainy season with champaka or jasmine flowers never returns to the planet earth again.
One who worships the Lord with but a single kumbhi flower achieves the boon of donating a pala of gold (two hundred grams).
If a devotee offers a single yellow flower of the ketaki, or wood-apple, tree to Lord Vishnu, who rides on Garuda, he is freed from the sins of ten million births.
Furthermore, one who offers Lord Jagannatha flowers and also a hundred leaves anointed with red and yellow sandalwood paste will certainly come to reside in Svetadvipa, far beyond the coverings of this material creation.

“O greatest of brahmanas, Sri Narada, after thus worshipping Lord Keshava, the bestower of all material and spiritual happiness, on Haribodhini Ekadasi, one should rise early the next day, bathe in a rive, chant japa of Krishna’s holy names, and render loving devotional service to the Lord at home to the nest of one’s ability.
To break the fast, the devotee should first offer some prasadam to brahmanas and only then, with their permission, eat some grains.
Thereafter, to please the Supreme Lord, the devotee should worship his spiritual master, the purest of the Lord’s devotees, and offer him sumptuous food, nice cloth, gold, and cows, according to the devotee’s means.
This will certainly please the Supreme Lord, the holder of the disc.

“Next the devotee should donate a cow to a brahmana, and if the devotee has neglected some rules and regulation of spiritual life, he should confess them before brahmana devotees of the Lord.
Then the devotee should offer them some dakshina (money).
O king, those who have eaten supper on Ekadasi should feed a brahmana the next day.
That is very pleasing to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“O son, if a man has fasted without asking the permission of his priest, or if a woman has fasted without asking her husband’s permission, he or she should donate a bull to a brahmana.
Honey and yoghurt are also proper gifts for a brahmana.
Someone who has fasted from ghee should donate milk, one who has fasted from grains should donate rice, one who has slept on the floor should donate a bedstead with a quilt, one who has eaten on a leaf plate should donate a pot of ghee, one who as remained silent should donate a bell, and one who has fasted from sesame should give gold in charity and feed a brahmana couple with sumptuous food.
A man who wants to prevent baldness should donate a mirror to a brahmana, one who has second-hand shoes should donate shoes, and one who has fasted from salt should donate some sugar to a brahmana.
During this month everyone should regularly offer a ghee lamp to Lord Vishnu or to Srimati Tulsidevi in a temple.

“An Ekadasi fast is complete when one offers a qualified brahmana a gold or copper pot filled with ghee and ghee wicks, along with eight waterpots containing some gold and covered by cloths.
One who cannot afford these gifts should at least offer a brahmana some sweet words.
One who does so will surely attain the full benefit of fasting on Ekadasi.

“After offering his obeisances and begging permission, the devotee should eat his meal.
On this Ekadasi, Chaturmasya ends, so whatever one gave up during Chaturmasya should now be donated to brahmanas.
One who follows this process of Chaturmasya receives unlimited merit, O king of kings, and goes to the abode of Lord Vasudeva after death.
O king, anyone who observes the complete Chaturmasya without a break attains eternal happiness and does not receive another birth.
But if someone breaks the fast, he becomes either a blind man or a leper.

“Thus I have narrated to you the complete process for observing Haribodhini Ekadasi.
Someone who reads or hears about this achieves the merit earned by donating cows to a qualified brahmana.”

Thus ends the narration of the glories of Karttika-sukla Ekadasi – also known as Haribodhini Ekadasi or Devotthaani Ekadasi – from the Skanda Purana.

Sri Vamana Dev

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Vamana dev or the dwarf is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. He is one of the leela avatars and popularly known as one of the Dashavatars, the ten prominent incarnations of Godhead.

He appeared in this world on the twelfth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada i.e. Shukla paksha dwadashi of Bhadrapada.

Lord Vamanadeva appeared in this world from the womb of Aditi completely equipped with conchshell, disc, club and lotus. His bodily hue was blackish, and He was dressed in yellow garments. Lord Vishnu appeared at an auspicious moment on Sravana-dvadasi when the Abhijit star had arisen. At that time, in all the three worlds (including the higher planetary system, outer space and this earth), all the demigods, the cows, the brahmanas and even the seasons were happy because of God’s appearance. Therefore this auspicious day is called Vijaya. When the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has a sac-cid-ananda body, appeared as the son of Kasyapa and Aditi, both of His parents were very astonished. After His appearance, the Lord assumed the form of a dwarf (Vamana). All the great sages expressed their jubilation, and with Kasyapa Muni before them they performed the birthday ceremony of Lord Vamana. At the time of Lord Vamanadeva’s sacred thread ceremony, He was honored by the sun-god, Brihaspati, the goddess presiding over the planet earth, the deity of the heavenly planets, His mother, Lord Brahma, Kuvera, the seven rishis and others. Lord Vamanadeva then visited the sacrificial arena on the northern side of the Narmada River, at the field known as Bhrigukaccha, where brahmanas of the Bhrigu dynasty were performing yajnas.

Wearing a belt made of munja straw, an upper garment of deerskin and a sacred thread and carrying in His hands a danda, an umbrella and a waterpot (kamandalu), Lord Vamanadeva appeared in the sacrificial arena of Maharaja Bali. Because of His transcendentally effulgent presence, all the priests were diminished in their prowess, and thus they all stood from their seats and offered prayers to Lord Vamanadeva. Even Lord Siva accepts on his head the Ganges water generated from the toe of Lord Vamanadeva. Therefore, after washing the Lord’s feet, Bali Maharaja immediately accepted the water from the Lord’s feet on his head and felt that he and his predecessors had certainly been glorified. Then Bali Maharaja inquired of Lord Vamanadeva’s welfare and requested the Lord to ask him for money, jewels or anything He might desire.

When Bali Maharaja, thinking Vamanadeva to be the son of a brahmana, told Him to ask for anything He liked, Lord Vamanadeva praised Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksha for their heroic activities, and after thus praising the family in which Bali Maharaja had been born, He begged the King for three paces of land. Bali Maharaja agreed to give this land in charity, since this was very insignificant, but Sukracarya, who could understand that Vamanadeva was Vishnu, the friend of the demigods, forbade Bali Maharaja to give this land. Sukracarya advised Bali Maharaja to withdraw his promise. He explained that in subduing others, in joking, in responding to danger, in acting for the welfare of others, and so on, one could refuse to fulfill one’s promise, and there would be no fault. By this philosophy, Sukracarya tried to dissuade Bali Maharaja from giving land to Lord Vamanadeva.

After hearing the instructive advice of Sukracarya, Bali Maharaja became contemplative. Because it is the duty of a householder to maintain the principles of religion, economic development and sense gratification, Bali Maharaja thought it improper to withdraw his promise to the brahmacari. To lie or fail to honor a promise given to a brahmacari is never proper, for lying is the most sinful activity. Everyone should be afraid of the sinful reactions to lying, for mother earth cannot even bear the weight of a sinful liar. The spreading of a kingdom or empire is temporary; if there is no benefit for the general public, such expansion has no value. Previously, all the great kings and emperors expanded their kingdoms with a regard for the welfare of the people in general. Indeed, while engaged in such activities for the benefit of the general public, eminent men sometimes even sacrificed their lives. It is said that one who is glorious in his activities is always living and never dies. Therefore, fame should be the aim of life, and even if one becomes poverty-stricken for the sake of a good reputation, that is not a loss. Bali Maharaja thought that even if this brahmacari, Vamanadeva, were Lord Vishnu, if the Lord accepted his charity and then again arrested him, Bali Maharaja would not envy Him. Considering all these points, Bali Maharaja finally gave in charity everything he possessed.
Lord Vamanadeva then immediately extended Himself into a universal body. By the mercy of Lord Vamanadeva, Bali Maharaja could see that the Lord is all-pervading and that everything rests in His body. Bali Maharaja could see Lord Vamanadeva as the supreme Vishnu, wearing a helmet, yellow garments, the mark of Srivatsa, the Kaustubha jewel, a flower garland, and ornaments decorating His entire body. The Lord gradually covered the entire surface of the world, and by extending His body He covered the entire sky. With His hands He covered all directions, and with His second footstep He covered the entire upper planetary system. Therefore there was no vacant place where He could take His third footstep.

 

Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami

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Gopala-Bhatta-Goswami

Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami is one of the six goswamis of Vrindavan, who are the direct disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Godhead who inundated the whole world with the ecstasy of the chanting of holy names of Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Gopal Bhatta Goswami appeared in this material world on the Amavasya of the Pausha Masa in the year 1503 in a south Indian family. His father was Vyenkata Bhatta, a devout devotee of Sri Lakshmi Narayan, being initiated in the Sri Sampradaya. Their family members were all followers of Sripada Ramanujacharya, one of the authorities of the four schools of devotional service.

When Mahaprabhu came to Sri Rangam, he performed ecstatic kirtan there whose sound roared in the whole temple premises, shunning the usual chanting of the Vedic hymns. On seeing the deity of Sri Ranganatha, he fell unconscious in the moods of ecstasy.

When Vyenkata saw him, he offered him obeisances and took the dust of his lotus feet and then asked him to come home. At his home, he served him to the best of his capacity and Mahaprabhu stayed there for the four months of Chatumasa. His son Gopal was very much attracted by Mahaprabhu and he used to render service to him. Mahaprabhu, being affectionate towards him, gave him his remnants.

When Mahaprabhu began to leave, Gopal fell at his lotus feet and prayed not to go. Seeing his intense love and attachment, Mahaprabhu initiated him and asked him to go to Vrindavan when his parents leave this material world. He asked him to do his bhajan there and write literature about Krishna.

Very soon, he started to master all the systems of studies including Grammar, Rhetoric, Nyaya etc.and his uncle Sripada Prabodhanand Saraswati, a tridandi sanyasi taught him about the secrets of devotional service . When his parents retired, he went to Vrindavan and met the two other disciples of Mahaprabhu, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan Goswami. They took care of him as a brother.

He had 12 Shaligram shilas and one day, a rich person in order to render some service to him, gave him paraphernalia to decorate the deity. When he received them, he was unhappy since he could decorate the shaligram with that material. He prayed out of selfless love to the lord, “Oh my Lord, you are very merciful and always fulfill the desires of your Devotees. I wish to serve you in your form, having arms and legs and blissful smiling face, with lotus eyes. If I had a Deity then I would be able to decorate Him so nicely with these clothes and ornaments.”

The next day, when he came after taking a bath, he uncovered the shilas to worship them and to his surprise, one of the shilas i.e. damodar shila had manifested into a beautiful deity of Radha Raman. He began to cry and offer prayers and hymns in praise of the lord. Soon all the other goswamis came and they literally bathed the deity in their transcendental tears.

This deity is still there in Vrindavan in its original form, since most of the deities of Vrindavan were transported to Jaipur. This deity has the highest standard of Vedic worship in Vrindavan.

Every year, there is a great procession on the appearance day of Sri Radha Raman Jiu, the deity of Gopala Bhatta Goswami.

He wrote many books including: Sat-sandarbha karika, Shri Krishna-vallabha (Krishna karnamrtatika), Sat kriya sara dipika (a brilliant work on Vaishnava samkara viddhi), and Laghu Hari-bhakti vilasa with Dig darshini tika. From this work, Sri Sanatana Goswami compiled the Hari-bhakti-vilasa now followed by all Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

It is said, “Out of affection for Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami, Srila Sanatana Goswami compiled the famous Vaishnava smriti titled Hari Bhakti Vilas, and published it under Gopala Bhatta Goswami’s name.

Sripad Ramanujacharya

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Ramanuja_embracing_Lord_Varadaraj

Sripad Ramanujacharya

As per the authority of Padma Puran, there are four bonafide sampradayas or the schools of devotional service, adopting any one of them and under the guidance of a completely perfect devotee of Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can become a perfected individual in the science of God consciousness.

Out of the four, Sri Sampradaya is the sampraday which originates from the eternal consort of Narayan, Srimati Lakshmi Devi. The main Acharya or the central guide of this school of devotional service is Sripad Ramanujacharya.

Sripad Ramanujacharya is the founder Acharya of Sri Sampradaya. He appeared in this material world in the year 1017 A.D. in Shriperumbudur. His parents were Asuri Keshava and Kantimati. He appeared in this material world on Panchami tithi of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra, four days prior to Rama Navami, the festival of appearance day of Lord Sri Ramachandra. At the small age of 16, he was married.

Just 4 months had passed after his marriage, his father departed from this mortal world, leaving him alone with responsibilities of the family. He moved to the holy city of Kanchi afterwards and lived a simple living in the city of temples and saints.

There, he enrolled himself in the school of Yadava Prakash, a devout follower of Sripad Shankaracharya, the propounder of advaita philosophy, deriving the conclusion that the soul is indifferent from the supreme lord.

This philosophy of advaita was propounded in order to rescue the Vedic literature which was being discarded in huge numbers due to the advent and preaching of atheistic philosophy by Lord Buddha, who specifically came to mislead the people and asking them to reject Vedic literatures. Since people became engaged in sacrificing the animals in Kaliyuga, which is forbidden, Lord Buddha preached the message of so called Jiva daya and asked them to reject Vedic literature.

Since it became a mass movement as Lord Buddha was an incarnation of the supreme lord himself, the Vedic literatures came to a stage of extinction. To preserve them, the lord ordered his devotee Lord Shiva to go on the earth, protect the Vedas and misinterpret them and preach the nonsense philosophy of Advaita. Since then, the philosophy was accepted by masses and after the passing away of Sripad Shankaracharya, his disciples followed his so called footsteps, despite his last instruction, “Bhaja Govindam! Bhaja Govindam! Bhaja Govindam Mudha Mate!” It translates to “O rascals! Worship Lord Govinda! Worship Lord Govinda! Worship Lord Govinda!”

Sripada Ramanujacharya admitted himself to the school and soon became a very sincere student and hence, got special space in the heart of his teacher. One day, after the class, he was giving massage to his teacher, when one of his disciples asked him a question from the Chandogya Upanishad. The teacher gave the explanation that the eyes of the lord resemble butts of a monkey. Hearing this nonsense explanation, hot tears emanated from the eyes of Sri Ramanuja and fell on the thigh of his teacher. When he felt the heat, he asked Ramanuja about the problem to which he humble pleaded that his teacher had given a senseless explanation. Enraged by his wisdom, he asked ramanuja to explain and he very humbly explained, “The two eyes of the Supreme are as lovely as two lotuses that are blossomed by the rays of the sun”.

His teacher scolded him for being impudent and disrespectful towards Shankara’s philosophy and asked him to correct himself. Being extremely humble, he didn’t say anything. Similar events again happened when he refuted the nonsense commentaries of Shankaracharya.

Being completely enraged, his teacher asked him to leave his class and start a school of his own. He very soon did the same and soon, many people became his followers.

Being envious, his teacher made a plan to kill him by taking him on a pilgrimage, which he somehow escaped and came back to Kanchi.

When they came back and saw him living, they became afraid and stopped further plans. One day, a saint visited his temple for alms. He was Sripad Alabandaru Yamunacharya. Sripad Ramanuja, in the course of his discussion, asked him to accept him as his servant. Yamunacharya agreed and blessed him.

Afterwards, he started preaching in a stronger manner and soon turned all the people into cult of Vaishnavism. Even his teacher Yadav became his follower.

He lived at Shri Rangam, serving the Deity of Narayana and imparting enlightenment to whoever came to him until he was 120 years old. One day while worshipping the Deity, he prayed, “dear God, whatever I could do to preserve the essence of the Vedas, to uplift the fallen souls, and to establish the shelter of your lotus feet as the supreme goal in life, I have done. Now my body has grown tired after many years in this world. Kindly allow me to depart from this mortal world and enter your supreme abode.”

   With this prayer Ramanuja returned to the assembly of his disciples and announced his desire to depart from this world. Thrown into an ocean of grief, the disciples clasped the feet of their guru and petitioned him to remain with them. It is unbearable for us to conceive of the disappearance of your divine form, which is the supreme purifier, the abode of all that is good, the destroyer of all afflictions, and the fountain of unlimited joy. Out of pity for your children, please stay with us for some time longer.”

   Ramanuja remained on Earth for three more days. To appease their afflicted hearts. Ramanuja spoke his last instructions to those who were most near and dear to him: “Always remain in the company of and serve those souls devoted to Godhead just as you would serve your own spiritual preceptor. Have faith in the teachings of the Vedas and in the words of the great saints. Never become the slave of your senses: always strive to conquer the three great enemies of self-realization: lust, anger, and greed. Worship Narayana and take pleasure in uttering the Holy Names of God as your only refuge. Sincerely serve the Devotees of Godhead: by service to the great Devotees, the highest service is done and one quickly gains the supreme mercy. Remembering these things you should live happily in this world for the attainment of the next.” With these departing words, Ramanuja, keeping his head on the lap of Govinda and his mind fixed in spiritual trance, relinquished his mortal body and entered the realm of Vaikuntha.

 

The Sacred Tulsi!

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The sacred plant of Tulsi or Ocimum Basilicum is considered as a must have plant in almost all the Indian homes. From holding medicinal to divine values, tulsi is known for its magical traits. Even our holy scriptures gives a special mention to this plant. Significance of Tulsi is as follows:

  • It is firmly believed that Vishnu propitiation is incomplete without offering him the sacred Tulsi leaves. During the ritual of ‘Tulsi vivaah’ in kartik month, Tulsi is married to Lord Vishnu.
  • The Vedic scriptures say, “Krishna gives Himself to a devotee who offers Him merely a Tulsi leaf and a palm full of water.”
  • Tulsi is known for the self-purification value and therefore widely used in holy puja ceremonies. It is also reused in puja without creating any impurity.
  • The Tulsi plant is extremely sensitive and aware, and quickly able to register the vibrations around her. Therefore Tulsi fades away in negative or unhygienic surroundings.
  • Tulsi is known as the Mother of Ayurveda and is widely used in fever, insomnia, mental tension, skin problems, and the treatment of cancer and diabetes.
  • The antibiotic and anti-allergic properties of Tulsi help to cure coughs and colds, sore throats, whooping cough in children etc.
  • Tulsi plant releases oxygen all the time i.e. both day and night, which makes it unique from the other plants.
  • The dried wood, stem and branches of Tulsi are used to make japa malas, which are considered calm and serene in nature.
  • Tulsi is widely worshipped for happiness and prosperity. It is also adored by unmarried girls in virtue of good husbands.
  • Keeping Tulsi plant at home prevents insects and mosquitoes from entering the house. It is said that snakes do not dare to go near a Tulsi plant.

 

 

Vivah Panchami: Marriage Anniversary of Lord Rama & Mata Sita

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The epitome of love and an idol for married couple are Lord Rama and Mata Sita. Their marriage is a live example of love, trust, care, misunderstandings and forgiveness; which are experienced by all the married people. In spite of fights or arguments, the couples celebrate their day of love. Similarly Vivah Panchami is the birth anniversary of this holy couple. It is celebrated on the Shukala Paksha Panchami of the Margashirsha month, as per the Hindu calendar.

The auspicious day is widely cherished by people from India and Nepal. Being the birthplace, as Mata Sita was born in Janakpur (present day on border of Nepal) and Lord Rama in Ayodhya. This day is a sign of remembrance of the holy couple of the Treta yug.

The magnificent event known as Ram Vivah Utsav is celebrated by processions, cultural programmes, devotional songs and other rituals. In Janakpur, the wedding ceremony is also performed and people decorate the idols of Ram and Sita as groom and bride. Devotees also take a holy dip at the famous lakes of Mithilanchal like Gangasagar, Dhanushsagar and Argaza pond to perform the Vivah Panchami rituals.

This year Vivah Panchami is on 16th December, 2015 and we hope all the devotees seek the supreme blessings From Lord Ram and Mata Sita.

Govardhan Puja

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The fourth day of the five day long festivals, followed by Diwali is Govardhan Puja. This festival is another day of celebration holding special tribute to Lord Krishna by his devotees. There is a tradition of building cow dung hillocks, which symbolize the Mount Govardhan, the mountain which was once lifted by Lord Krishna. After making such hillocks people decorate them with flowers and then worship them. They move in a circle around the cow dung hillocks and offer prayers to Lord Govardhan.

Anna-Koot:

This day is also observed as Anna-Koot, which literally means ‘mountain of food’. On this auspicious day the people prepare fifty-six or one hundred and eight different varieties of delicious dishes to offer Lord Krishna as ‘Bhog’. In the temples the deities are given milk bath, dressed in new shining attires and decorated with ornaments. Then they are worshipped, offered prayers and bhajans and also offered delicious sweets, fruits and eatables that are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the idols.

Legend of the festival:

This festival signifies the victory of humility and nobleness of Lord Krishna over the ego of Lord Indra. Due to the strong pride of Lord Indra, he felt insulted when the devotees of Mathura adored Govardhan hill and the cows and bulls. He expressed his rage through heavy and violent rains. Soon lord Krishna came to rescue and he protected the villagers as well as the animals by lifting up the hill on his little finger. The love and faith of the people for Lord Krishna, made lord Indra realize his worth and he had to surrender his ego in the feet of Supreme God.

Significance:

This festival is a celebration of the love between the being and his supreme creation. Human beings express their gratitude by performing different rituals and also pray for their safety and blessings. It also express our love for the natural habitat and inspires the being to value and conserve the natural resources.

This day is also celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padva. It is celebrated in regards of the victory of Vamana (incarnation of the Lord Vishnu) over demon King Bali. It also marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya as ‘Vikaram-Samvat’ was started from this Padwa day.