“My dear sir, Krishna's form was most wonderful when He appeared on this planet and exhibited the potency of His internal energy. His wonderfully attractive form was present during His pastimes on this planet, and by His internal potency He exhibited His opulences, which are striking to everyone. His personal beauty was so great that there was no necessity for His wearing ornaments on His body. In fact, instead of the ornaments' beautifying Krishna, Krishna's beauty enhanced the ornaments.” (Uddhava speaking to Vidura, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.2.12)
For followers of the bhakti school, the secret to success is to incorporate God into every activity. More than just simple renunciation or the acquisition of knowledge, bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, involves dovetailing all of one’s activities with service to Krishna, or God. In this way, a person can continue to go about performing their normal activities, but since they are involving the Supreme Lord, everything becomes beautified. Normally, we use ornaments and decorations to add a beautifying effect to the object we are trying to make look more appealing, but in Krishna’s case, the order of precedent is reversed. His splendor is so powerful that it immediately radiates anything it touches.
Some people are born with natural beauty. They look terrific even when they roll out of bed in the morning. Yet with even the most beautiful people, there is a desire to look better, the need to feel more attractive. When a person feels more attractive, they will act more confidently in front of others. For example, if we spill something on our shirt during lunchtime and then have to walk around all day with the stain still visible, it is likely that we will not be as confident. The mind will be focused on the blemish on our shirt, so naturally we’ll think that others will be focusing on the same area. Since no one likes to go about their day feeling this way, people take the necessary steps to ensure that they look as good as they possibly can. This is especially the case with women.
The famous talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, once did a humorous bit on his show, where he was discussing the issue of traffic accidents. He stated that one of the easiest ways to reduce traffic accidents was to ban women from farding in their cars. Now this was discussed on a radio show, so not surprisingly many people mistook the word “farding” to be “farting”, which is the slang term for the expulsion of gas. This was actually the intended effect. Angry women called the show and demanded to know how Rush could tell that women were doing this while driving. Keeping the bit going, Rush reiterated the fact that many women certainly do fard in their cars and that everyone could see them do it. Rush eventually revealed the punch line: farding refers to the French term “fard”, which means to apply makeup.
Cosmetics is certainly a profitable industry. Almost every adult aged woman uses some type of makeup product. Again, this is done to enhance one’s beauty. There are also other techniques which are used by both men and women. Designer shirts, pants, accessories, sunglasses, etc., are all things used to enhance one’s beauty. It is undoubtedly true that such decorations do succeed in enhancing one’s appearance. This principle is in full effect during marriage ceremonies. In Western style marriages, the bride usually wears a nice white dress, which is so stunning that it makes the groom’s jaw drop. In love-marriages, the groom has already voluntarily agreed to marry the wife, so it’s safe to assume that he already finds her to be quite beautiful. Yet on the wedding day, the bride takes on added beauty due to her makeup and the dress she wears.
In Vedic style marriages, the beauty is enhanced even more. Anyone who has ever attended an Indian-style wedding knows just how much preparation goes into dressing up the bride. A typical Indian bride wears so many ornaments that she has to walk very carefully as she approaches the groom for the beginning of the marriage ceremony. She wears a nice sari, bangles, a nose ring, and exquisite makeup. The sari is about as ancient a dress as you’ll find, yet it is arguably the most beautiful. All the great women of the Vedic tradition, such as Sita Devi, Shrimati Radharani, and Kunti Devi, used to regularly wear saris. According to several estimations, Sita Devi appeared on this earth millions of years ago, so that alone tells us how long saris have been around.
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
The Vedas tell us that there is only one God for every single person, and that His original form is that of Lord Shri Krishna. How do we know what Krishna looks like? Aside from the countless descriptions given in Vedic literature, the Lord kindly appeared on earth in His personal form some five thousand years ago. Krishna Himself states in the Bhagavad-gita that He comes to earth from time to time to annihilate miscreants and reestablish the true principles of religion. While this is the outward cause, the exalted devotees know the real story behind His appearances. Killing demons and reestablishing religious principles can actually be done by any person, provided they are authorized and abiding by the original instructions of the Vedas passed down by Krishna Himself. The real purpose for the Lord’s appearances on earth is to satisfy the devotees, those who sacrifice heart and soul for Krishna.
In many Vedic texts, Lord Krishna is counted as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This is certainly true because Vishnu and Krishna are the same; the only difference is in appearance. Krishna has two hands and Vishnu has four. Even in the Ramayana, Lord Rama, who is one of God’s most famous incarnations, on one occasion refers to the future event of Narayana coming to earth in the form of Govinda, or Krishna. So is Lord Rama wrong? Technically He is not, for Krishna and Vishnu are the same. However, from the statements of the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Brahma-samhita, we understand that Krishna is even the source of Narayana. Therefore, when Krishna appears on earth, it is actually in His original form and not necessarily that of an incarnation.
Lord Krishna performed many wonderful pastimes during His one hundred plus years on earth, but for the devotees, the most pleasurable pastimes took place during the Lord’s youth in Vrindavana. The story of the Lord’s advent is somewhat lengthy so we’ll give a brief summary here: There was a king named Kamsa who had locked up his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. A prophecy had warned Kamsa that Devaki’s eighth son would kill him, so he had her imprisoned. When she gave birth to a child, Kamsa would take it and throw it against a stone wall, killing it. When Krishna appeared, Vasudeva was afraid that Kamsa would kill Him also. Therefore, in the dead of night, Vasudeva took Krishna from Mathura to Vrindavana, where the young child would be raised by His foster parents, Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yashoda.
In the Vedic tradition, children are always elaborately decorated. Parents derive so much pleasure from their young children, so they like to see them always dressed nicely. Of all the children to ever grace this earth, no one was dressed more nicely than Krishna. Detailed descriptions of His ornaments and clothing are given in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and other Vedic texts. The paintings that we see of Krishna today are all based off these descriptions. In a typical painting, Krishna is seen holding His flue, wearing a peacock feather on His head, rings on His fingers, nice earrings, a beautiful necklace, and a flower garland around His neck. Anyone who saw Krishna dressed like this immediately became enamored. Krishna’s childhood associates were all eternally liberated souls who had performed lifetimes’ worth of penances and austerities to get the chance to see Krishna in His original form.
Though Krishna was so exquisitely dressed, He required none of these ornaments. Being God Himself, He naturally possessed the highest beauty. One of the meanings for the word Krishna is “all-attractive”, and this is most certainly the case with the Lord. The wise devotees could understand that Krishna was so beautiful that He actually enhanced the beauty of His ornaments, and not the other way around. Can we imagine such a thing? We see a nice shirt or a beautiful ring and think that it will make us look beautiful. But do we know anyone who is beautiful enough to enhance the beauty of something that is already considered beautiful? The only person who can do this is Krishna.
How does this information help us? Krishna can be thought of as a touchstone. His beautifying powers are not limited to clothing and ornaments. Anything Krishna touches immediately turns to gold. This means that if we incorporate Krishna into our words, our speeches and songs immediately become transcendental. Therefore devotees make the chanting of the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, their main occupation. As they get more advanced, devotees install beautiful deities of the Lord, or one of His personal expansions, in their homes to look at and worship. If Krishna makes His ornaments beautiful, imagine what He can do for our homes.
The Vedic tradition, also commonly referred to as Hinduism, is known for its high philosophy and its focus on knowledge and renunciation. Yoga, something which originated from the Vedas, is commonly taken to be the face of Hinduism. Even the famous Bhagavad-gita, spoken by Krishna Himself, touches on topics of renunciation, wisdom, sacrifice, charity, and self-control in relation to the body, mind, and speech. A person who initially glances over these topics may then assume that the Vedic tradition is mostly about renunciation and the elimination of all bad things from life.
“Whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.5)
While self-control, equanimity, peacefulness, and forgiveness are all certainly nice traits to possess, they are secondary. The ultimate purpose in life is to think of God at the time of death. This consciousness allows a person to return to Krishna’s spiritual realm in the afterlife. Once a person reaches a stage of pure Krishna consciousness, they automatically acquire all good qualities. Armed with this knowledge, devotees take to devotional service right away instead of remaining stuck on other inferior forms of yoga.
The key ingredient in bhakti-yoga is Krishna. Everything in direct association with Krishna becomes purified. Therefore, our food should be prepared and offered to Him first, for the remnants then turn into maha-prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy. Our flowers should be first offered to Him, our cars should be used to drive to His temples, our computers used to read books about Him, etc. Let the Lord’s natural beauty rub off on everyone.