Can Devotees Worship Ganesa?

ASK BVKS | August 30, 2016 |

English with Český Translation; Brno, Czech Republic

Question:

I saw a murti of Ganesh on the altar next to Nrsimhadeva at a neighbours' place. There was an argument between devotees. Some say that in Srila Prabhupada's Nectar of Devotion it is said in Chapter 8, One should begin the worship of the demigod Ganapati, who drives away all impediments in the execution of devotional service. In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that Ganapati worships the lotus feet of Lord Nrsimha-deva and in that way has become auspicious for the devotees in clearing out all impediments. Therefore, all devotees should worship Ganapati. Thus my neighbours placed Ganesha next to Nrsimhadeva on the altar. Other devotees cite Srila Prabhupada letters in which he says that there's no need to worship Ganesha. So what is the proper understanding?

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Question: 1. Why does Krishna say here that one cannot repay his debt to his parents even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years when in S.B 11.5.4 Narada muni says to Vasudeva–“One who has taken shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet, is not indebted to demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away.” So how are we to understand this statement and how should we take this comment in SB 10.45.5?… Expand>

Question:

sarvārtha-sambhavodeho

janitaḥpoṣitoyataḥ

natayoryātinirveśaṁ

pitrormartyaḥśatāyuṣā

Translation: With one’s body one can acquire all goals of life, and it is one’s parents who give the body birth and sustenance. Therefore no mortal man can repay his debt to his parents, even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years. (S.B.10.45.5).

Questions:

1. Why does Krishna say here that one cannot repay his debt to his parents even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years when in S.B 11.5.4 Narada muni says to Vasudeva–“One who has taken shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet, is not indebted to demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away.” So how are we to understand this statement and how should we take this comment in SB 10.45.5?

2. Is this comment applicable to only a Krishna conscious father and mother or a materialistic father & mother also?

 

ANSWER BY HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:

"All right. Karttik Kumar form Bangalore is quoting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.45.5, spoken by Kṛṣṇa.

sarvārtha-sambhavo deho
janitaḥ poṣito yataḥ
na tayor yāti nirveśaṁ
pitror martyaḥ śatāyuṣā

Translation: With one’s body one can acquire all goals of life, and it is one’s parents who give the body birth and sustenance. Therefore no mortal man can repay his debt to his parents, even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years.

So there’s that verse which Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes three times, I believe, in Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Because Arjuna’s whole proposition was not to go against the family.

devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam

O King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, who offers shelter to all, is not indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one's forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord's service has no need to serve such persons separately. (SB 11.5.41.)

So this appears to be contradictory because Kṛṣṇa says you can’t repay your debt to your parents, even if you serve them for a full lifetime of a hundred years. But then Kṛṣṇa says: “If you take shelter of Me, then you are not indebted.”

Well, one statement is qualified by another. This is common – that (there is a) general truth, (and) there are exceptions. Sri Lankans are good people. OK, we can accept that as a general proposition. Well, this one is not good - some of them are not good. So it’s a general case, but it’s qualified.

Actually, one can repay the debts. One repays the debts to the parents by having children. That’s the understanding. So the children, they will offer pinda to the Pitris.

DEBT TO THE PARENTS
What is the debt to the parent? - That you were given a body by them. So you can’t exactly repay, but you create more bodies. So there is a way to repay, but the mood of this is that what you were given is so valuable that we feel we can’t repay. We shouldn’t think: “OK, I repaid them, and then leave them alone, forget them.” That’s the idea. Gratefulness should be there.

sarvārtha-sambhavo deho
Everything we want to do, that can be done through the body. If you don’t have a body, you can’t do anything. If you are a ghost, for instance. If you are born in a subhuman body, then one cannot achieve the goal of life. So therefore, the human form of life is very valuable. But, if we fully dedicate to Kṛṣṇa, then we become free from the ordinary method of repaying the debt to the parents because we actually benefit not only the parents but even previous generation and even forthcoming generations. Kṛṣṇa delivers them all.

So therefore, one is not a debtor if he takes full shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa takes care of all, the parents and everyone else. So the general case is that one cannot repay the debt to the parents. And of course, that’s very much part of Indian culture, especially in North India very well-known this story… What’s his name? Kumara Sampat, Sampat Kumar; what is it? Śravan Kumar. Very common picture to see him carrying, on his shoulder, the father and mother.

MATERIALISTIC PARENTS
So, question number two. In one sense it is more applicable to materialistic father and mother. Inasmuch as, by Kṛṣṇa consciousness you repay the debt. Of course, you shouldn’t think that: “Well, (it) doesn’t matter about my parents.” A child in Kṛṣṇa consciousness shouldn’t be neglectful of parents. But, (one) may also, if one is fully engaged in preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then (he) may not marry and look after the parents in old age. But it should be seen that someone looks after them - some arrangement is made - something is done. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness we shouldn’t take it as an excuse to neglect our parents."

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Question:

How can one have pure Ekadasi? Also why parana time on next day is important?

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:

I’m not sure what this question means. I presume that by pure ekādaśī is meant śuddha ekādaśī.

Śuddha ekādaśī is a term that is seen in our Vaiṣṇava calendar. Śuddha means pure. 
Here pure means that it’s not mixed with the proceeding tithi or lunar, solar day. The proceeding day is called daśamī, and is not mixed with the following tithi ekādaśī. And therefore it is suitable for fasting. 

If ekādaśī is mixed, in other words, if the time of daśamī overlaps with that of ekādaśī, or if the time of dvādaśī is overlapsed by ekādaśī, then the ekādaśī is not suitable for fasting, and then the fasting should be observed on the next day, dvādaśī.

That ekādaśī which is unmixed is called śuddha or pure. Pure in the sense that it is not mixed with other days.
Now, exactly the meaning of all this is quite complex because these days are tithis or days which are not calculated as the solar day is, by the rising of the Sun and the setting of the Sun, but by the movements of the Moon, which are much more irregular.

And then, another question connected with this is: Why is parāyaṇa on the next day important?

Actually parāyaṇa means something else. Parāyaṇa means attached to, as in Nārāyaṇa-parāyaṇa, a person who is attached to Nārāyaṇa.

Or another meaning is non stop recitation of a text from the beginning until the end, such as a Bhagavad-gītā parāyaṇa.

The actual word is pāraṇā, and this reffers to the time in which one should break the fast. That comes on dvādaśī.

Or one is to fast on Mahā-dvādaśī because the previous ekādaśī is not śuddha, then one is to break fast on trayodaśī.

The only information I could find about this is in Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, in which is stated that one should honor the dvādaśī by breaking the fast in the right time.

So, just as the ekādaśī should be honored by fasting, so dvādaśī should be honored by breaking the fast in the proper time.

Traditionally Vaiṣṇavas would stay up all night, fasting and hearing, and chanting about Viṣṇu, and would break the fast next day.

We find in Bhagavad-gītā that Kṛṣṇa recommends not too much austerity. One should have a balanced approach.

nāty-aśnatas tu yogo ’sti
na caikāntam anaśnataḥ
na cāti-svapna-śīlasya
jāgrato naiva cārjuna

There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogī, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. (Bg 6.16)

yuktāhāra-vihārasya
yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya
yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā

He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. (Bg 6.17)

So, that may be a reason why the time is given. That austerity is particularly meant for ekādaśī, and is not to be extended further. One honors Kṛṣṇa prasādam the next morning at the prescribed time.

Hare Kṛṣṇa!

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