Shelter from the Harshness of This World

August 26, 2012 |

English; San Diego, California, USA

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Question: As per ISKCON, Ekadasi fasting means not to eat any food grains at all. But, in the very famous Guruvayoor temple of Kerala, on Ekadasi cooked broken wheat is offered to Lord Guruvayoorappan, who is none other than Sakshath MahaVishnu. This is offered as "Prasadam" to devotees. Iskcon follows vedic scriptures, but why there is a difference… Expand>

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As per ISKCON, Ekadasi fasting means not to eat any food grains at all. But, in the very famous Guruvayoor temple of Kerala, on Ekadasi cooked broken wheat is offered to Lord Guruvayoorappan, who is none other than Sakshath MahaVishnu. This is offered as "Prasadam" to devotees. Iskcon follows vedic scriptures, but why there is a difference in sampradaya?

This question has been answered by His Grace Gokula Candra Prabhu, a senior disciple of His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj upon Maharaj's request.

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I am writing to Your Holiness to ask a question about a discussion that I had with a person who knows both ISKCON and eastern paths of philosophy and metaphysics. He was making comparison and criticism. He said for instance that ISKCON temples are a mess, dirty, noisy with lots of fighting amongst devotees and budhist, taoist temples are very clean, organized, quiet, peaceful, sattvic. He said that many ISKCON devotees don’t have basic manners, culture, education, etiquette whereas budhist, taoist, astanga yoga practioners are educated, well mannered people. He also said that these people seems to have much more sense control than the devotees. He said that ISKCON doesn’t have organization, planning, structure, stability whereas these groups are very well organized, structured with years, decades, centuries or more of work and tradition. His point is that you judge something or someone by the results and symptoms, so if the devotees are the topmost transcendentalists and if ISKCON and the Sankirtana movement is the most elevated spiritual movement than there should be example, results and symptoms of such superior position. His reasoning is that these eastern paths and their followers seems to be more advanced,self controlled etc. than the devotees. I know his thinking comes from a neophyte understanding but I want to know what I could say to him. Could Your Holiness, tell me what I can say to him?

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Sandesh Sweet – Dress for Nrsimhadeva

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Question: My question is regarding deity outfits. On Nrsimha Caturdasi, at an ISKCON temple in Germany, the deity of lord Nrsimhadev was dressed/pasted with different flavours/colours of sandesh milk sweet dough instead of any sort of cloth outfit. Maharaja, my question is that is the above performed act, proper and in line with the scriptural rules of deity… Expand>

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My question is regarding deity outfits. On Nrsimha Caturdasi, at an ISKCON temple in Germany, the deity of lord Nrsimhadev was dressed/pasted with different flavours/colours of sandesh milk sweet dough instead of any sort of cloth outfit. 

Maharaja, my question is that is the above performed act, proper and in line with the scriptural rules of deity worship, just as during chandan yatra the deities are pasted with sandalwood paste or just as there are flower outfits for the deities in many temples? Or is it not to be accepted. I mean something similar to the previous incident of the deities dressed in Santa Claus outfits?

ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikāśa Swami: 

I’m not aware of any scriptural rule that says to dress the Deities in a dress made of milk sweets. It’s the first time I ever heard about it. There are various aspects of Vaiṣṇava culture which may not be directly described in śāstra, but they may be performed in some places as a tradition. So, may be that in some traditional temple in India that there is a tradition on certain days dressing the Deities like that; although, at least in India, if you were to do so, then quite likely the Deity would be covered with ants very quickly. So, that may not be a very good idea to do that. Ants and flies would come. Probably not so much in Germany because there are not so many little living entities as there are in India. But there are some very desirable elements of Vaishnava culture which could, according to the discrimination of the devotees – that may be questionable also (the level of discrimination as to what should be accepted and what should not be accepted). But there are various items of Vaiṣṇava culture which can be adopted, but if something is not in śāstra, is not in tradition… I’d be very cautious about making innovations, especially in Deity worship. So, you probably have to ask the devotees in Germany where they got this idea from. One consideration is that it’s fairly common in India to see Deities of Hanuman covered with butter. That’s quite a common practice. I don’t know if the Deities get attacked by ants, or whatever. Flies come. I’ve seen that. It’s quite often done.

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