In Search of a Guru

ASK BVKS | June 8, 2011 |

English;

Question:

I am a Grahastha with 2 children. I am regularly chanting Hare Krishna last 2 years and doing service to Vaishnawas. I am most falled sourl and I am not able to identify who my Guru is and lead me to Krishna. I find every sadhu and saintly people as highly elevated people and I feel I am not qualified to make decision to choose my Guru. I kindly need your suggestion to how to go about this.

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Question:

As far as cooking prasada for the deities, the standard as I know is to be second initiated. Does this apply to cooking for the devotees and offering it to a picture? In Krishna house they have devotees cooking who chant 8 rounds and its questionable if they are following the regulated principles. Would this affect one's consciousness and can this be considered a fit offering to the Lord?

Answer by H.H. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:

Well, the proper term in our terminology is to prepare bhoga for the Deities. It is offered, the Lord accepts it, and then we take His prasādam.
Yes, but that’s the strict rule that in the temple where Deities are worshipped, all cooking and Deity worship should be done by brāhmaṇ initiated devotees.
That doesn’t mean that if you are not brāhmaṇicaly initiated you should not eat, or just only eat raw food or something like that. Even that, you are supposed to offer to Kṛṣṇa.
There is laxity for some devotees who are not initiated in that way. But in the temples with installed Deities (of course Deity means installed) there bhoga should be offered and cooked by persons who are formally initiated brāhmaṇically or pañcarātrically.
If they are not chanting 16 rounds and following the principles, then they shouldn’t be cooking for Deities and they will affect our consciousness.

viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa

“When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one’s mind becomes contaminated, and when the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Kṛṣṇa properly.“ (CC Antya 6.278)

Then we may say they are devotees, not materialists. They are not devotees to the level who should be cooking for distribution to others. They won’t benefit others. I’ve spoken on this many times. You can see on the website, there must be.
It affects one’s consciousness certainly because the consciousness of the cook is transmitted through the cooking.

Once, in Australia, Śrīla Prabhupāda was given some prasādam, nicely puffed up purīs. Afterward he asked: Who is the cook? The cook was Kūrma dāsa Prabhu, one of the most famous cooks in the history of ISKCON.
There are some famous cooks: Yamunā devi (who is probably the most famous), Kūrma Prabhu, Apūrva is very well known in America, Vibhu-Caitanya was there in Vṛndāvan. There are so many good cooks, but some in particular.
So Kūrma Prabhu came and Śrīla Prabhupāda said to him: Thank you very much for so nicely following the regulative principles!
We may say what’s that got to do with cooking, but Śrīla Prabhupāda could understand that his cooking is so nice because he is so seriously practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Rādhārāṇī is manifesting through him. It’s understood that cooking for Kṛṣṇa is the service of Rādhārāṇī.

rādhikāra pakka anna vividha byañjana
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“In great ecstasy and joy Kṛṣṇa eats the rice, curried vegetables, sweets, and pastries cooked by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.” (Bhoga-arati / Bhaja Bhakata Vatsala, verse 8)

As Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says She cooks for Kṛṣṇa rice and various vegetables, and so many different preparations.

And in South India they don’t know so much about Rādhā yet. So, they will say that Lakṣmī is cooking actually. Cooking for Viṣṇu means that the cook has to take blessing from Lakṣmī. It’s Her service, so the cook can only assist.

So, when one is in good consciousness then Kṛṣṇa is very pleased to accept the offering, and His mercy comes through fully.

If we are in materialistic consciousness, if we are not following the principles properly, if we are not up to the level of chanting 16 rounds, well, whatever good consciousness we have it will come through, and whatever bad consciousness we have it will come through also.
So, that’s the one in brief.

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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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