“Lord Chaitanya has recommended that since Krishna is worshipable, so His land, Vrindavana and Govardhana Hill, are also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Krishna said that Govardhana Puja is as good as worship of Him.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 24)Download this episode (right click and save)
“We should worship God. We should be devoted to Him in thought, word and deed. We should engage in devotional service, which is the English translation to the term ‘bhakti-yoga.’ We should not be devoted to the material energy, which features only sense gratification. Following this path will release us from the cycle of birth and death. No more reincarnation or everything that happens in between.”
Theoretically, this makes sense, but what is the practical application? If I want to seriously engage in devotion, how do I tell that my work is any different from before? If I wake up on a summer morning, that is no different than waking up on a winter morning. Just the weather has changed. In the same way, if I was conscious before, how do I tell that I am now Krishna conscious?
Bhakti-yoga is synonymous with the science of self-realization. It is the superior path since side by side with knowledge of the self is knowledge of the Superself. In simpler terms, you understand God as much as you can, and in the process you learn about your true identity as well. This is opposed to straight Vedanta philosophy, which first teaches the individual of their identity as Brahman. The supreme is spoken of only in vague terms, with His position described in relation to the individual soul, the spark of Brahman.
To know how to worship God, we can look to the different things about Him that are worshipable. He is known as Krishna since He is all-attractive. To be attractive means to have some aspect to you that is viewed favorably by others. To be all-attractive means that every aspect is and must be favorable to anyone that looks upon it. In reviewing the different aspects to Krishna, we see how this is true.
1. His form.
When we speak of Krishna, we refer to a person. This person obviously has a form. If I know that someone is in the room, it means that there is something physical that identifies their presence. Though for the individual there is a difference between matter and spirit, in Krishna it is not the case. Referencing Krishna is referencing Krishna the person, who has a transcendental body. That body has hands, ears, legs, arms and a face, but these parts can do amazing things. The body of Krishna is not ordinary.
The deity is also the form of Krishna. Though it is crafted by hands belonging to a fallible human being, in fact no work can occur without the sanction of the Supersoul, who is Krishna. He exists as the overseer and the permitter, as described in the Bhagavad-gita.
bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ
paramātmeti cāpy ukto
dehe 'smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ
“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)
The deity is the result of the Supersoul’s sanctioning of the making of a transcendental form that depicts His all-attractive features. It is His mercy upon the fallen, allowing them to worship in a way that they can see Him. The deity is specifically empowered to be worshiped.
2. His name.
This one is a little more difficult to realize. When you say the word “Krishna” you actually have “Krishna.” The name is identical to Him. Again, this is the Lord’s mercy upon the fallen. They insist on seeing God, but they don’t know that hearing Him is just as good. The equivalence in the holy name is what empowers the chanting of the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Every bona fide bhakti tradition stresses the chanting of the holy names. Some lineages take the name of Rama to be superior, while others prefer Vishnu. Others describe Krishna to be the most potent name. The idea is that any authorized name for God is sufficient for chanting and worshiping the Supreme Lord. The more one chants purely, that is without motives for personal gain, the more they come in contact with the Lord.
3. His land.
Didn’t God create everything? Doesn’t this mean that the entire universe is His? This is a good way of viewing things, but it is a very difficult platform of understanding to reach. In His continued drive to help the fallen understand Him and gain rescue, the Supreme Lord descends to this earth in His personal form from time to time.
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“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)
Those places where He appears and enacts pastimes thus become pilgrimage spots. Lands such as Vrindavana, Mathura, Dvaraka, Ayodhya, Chitrakuta, and Jagannatha Puri are sacred because of their direct association with Krishna and His avataras. The famous Govardhana Hill is considered identical to Him, and therefore any rock gotten from there is worshiped in the home.
4. His food.
As we honor the Supreme Lord’s form, name, and land, we also honor food that has been offered to Him. The process is purifying, as it eliminates karma. From every action we do for sense gratification, we become implicated in reactions. Sometimes the consequence is favorable in the short term and sometimes not. Either way, there is karma, which means rebirth in the material ocean.
Offering food to Krishna is for satisfying His senses. He is so kind that He returns remnants to be honored and enjoyed by the devotees. This sacred food is known as prasadam, which means “the Lord’s mercy.” Just as the sound of the holy name can deliver even the most atheistic person, just by honoring prasadam a person can make spiritual advancement.
5. His people.
If you understand the potency of prasadam, then this one is pretty obvious. If food dedicated and offered to Krishna is worshipable, then certainly the same is true for people who dedicate their lives to glorifying Him. Those fooled by the degraded caste system will never understand this, as they are blinded by bodily distinctions. But countless examples in history have shown that devotees of Krishna can be found in any type of body, in any region.
“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the streets in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)
Krishna is endless and unlimited. His incarnations are too many to fathom. This means that His deeds are the same way. There is no way to count all the points of reference that can serve as objects of worship. Bandwidth from the high speed internet provider is capped based on price, but the throughput in service to Krishna is limited only by the desire within the individual. If a person really wants to connect with Him, they will never run out of opportunities to serve.
From Lord Chaitanya understand,
That worshipable too is Krishna’s land.
Identity with Him the same,
Like with potency of holy name.
Also with food to Him offering,
Prasadam and devotees honoring.
Ways to connect so many there are,
No reason for Divine life to be far.