“Krishna used to put a vaijayanti garland around His neck. This vaijayanti garland is made of at least five differently colored flowers. The length of such a garland was always touching Krishna's knees or feet. Besides this garland of flowers, there were other kinds of flower garlands too - sometimes decorating His head, sometimes hanging around His neck and chest. Artistic painting with sandalwood pulp and colored sandalwood were also to be found on the body of Krishna.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 26)Download this episode (right click and save)
Vishno-smaranam is one of nine processes mentioned by Prahlada Maharaja in his wonderful definition of bhakti-yoga. The Sanskrit terms commonly translate to “devotional service.” Devotional refers to God, or the Almighty. Service refers to doing something to give pleasure, to increase the happiness of the object of service. As these concepts can be rather vague, any further clarity on the matter is extremely helpful.
Vishno refers to Vishnu, or God the person. The Supreme Lord is both nirguna and saguna. He is without material qualities in the sense that none of the body parts are limiting to Him. He is saguna in the sense that He has features which distinguish Him from other objects and living things. Vishnu is specifically the Supreme Personality of Godhead, a distinct entity to whom service can be offered.
Vishnu is a manifestation of God, and there are other forms which though having a different visual appearance are identical to Vishnu. One of those forms is Krishna, and so another common translation for bhakti-yoga is “Krishna consciousness.” To put it simply, vishno-smaranam is remembering Krishna, or God. Find a way to always remember Him, no matter what you are doing, no matter where you are going, and no matter what is otherwise occupying your time throughout the day.
Remembering Krishna is easier said than done. Imagine this situation. You have just bought your first home. It’s a rather large property, so there is plenty to do right after making the purchase. It seems like the work will never end. The house itself isn’t that spacious, but the large area on which it sits requires constant attention. Despite what appears to be a major distraction to bhakti-yoga, there are still ways to remain incredibly Krishna conscious while living on such a large piece of land.
1. This hill reminds me of Govardhana
In one section of the backyard I see a small hill. It has different rocks on it. There is grass as well. Every time I see this hill, I am reminded of Govardhana. This is the sacred hill in the spiritual land of Vrindavana that Shri Krishna lifted one time. Of course the hill in my backyard isn’t nearly as large. Govardhana takes many hours to circumambulate by foot.
By looking at this small hill, I am reminded of that much larger one and how Shri Krishna held it aloft for seven consecutive days. The sacred Govardhana rested on His pinky finger the entire time, and Krishna never grew tired. Every time I come to this section of my property, I am reminded of how powerful Krishna is and how He will do anything to protect His devotees.
2. This pond reminds me of Radha-kunda
My property is so large that there is even a small pond tucked away in the back. There is not much I can do with this body of water, but every time I see it I am reminded of Radha-kunda. Shri Krishna is always tied to Shrimati Radharani. The two are actually one; the union of the male and female aspects of the Divine.
One time Krishna saved the people of Vrindavana from a wicked demon in the guise of a bull. Krishna was proud of His accomplishment, and so Radharani looked to bring Him down a notch. She said that He was impure since He had killed a bull. Krishna complained that the bull was actually a demon, but Radha and her friends would not listen. They said He would only become purified if He took a dip in the sacred rivers.
Krishna then took advantage of a hole in the ground by bringing the sacred rivers to the spot. Their waters then filled the hole, creating a pond known as Shyama-kunda. Krishna then took a dip to become purified. Radharani would not enter Shyama-kunda, so she and her friends decided to make their own pond, digging the adjacent area using their bangles. Again the sacred waters filled the spot, and thus Radha-kunda was born. Radha-kunda immediately became so dear to Krishna. I am so thankful to have this pond in my backyard so I can always remember that great pastime.
3. The luscious grass reminds me of Gopala
The property is so large that I had to purchase one of those riding lawnmowers. The grass is really green, though. That makes me happy. Whenever I see the green grass, I’m reminded of Gopala, who goes out daily to the fields with the calves. He and His friends in Vrindavana have fun all the time. This is the special distinction with Krishna. He is indeed God because He has nothing to do. When someone asks what is Krishna doing in the spiritual world, the answer is always the same: enjoying. The grass is so fortunate there since it gets to feel the soft soles of the feet of the Supreme Lord.
4. These bees remind me of Krishna’s flower garland
There are many bushes around the property, and where there are flowers naturally there are bees as well. When I see these bees buzzing about, I’m reminded of Shri Krishna’s flower garland. It is an aspect of His transcendental ensemble that can easily be overlooked. After all, there is the famous peacock feather in His hair. There is the flute in His hand and the beautiful earrings. Krishna is so naturally attractive that the ornaments actually become more beautiful when placed on Him instead of the other way around. The flower garland that hangs around His neck attracts the bees of Vrindavana. Hence there is always this pleasing buzzing sound near Krishna’s body, as He moves to and fro.
5. This land reminds me of Vrindavana
Despite being such a large property with so much attention required throughout the year, I feel as if I am in Vrindavana. Wherever I go, I am reminded of Krishna. This is just on the outside, and inside the home I invite my friends and family to come and congregationally chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” I am so thankful that in the place I call home I can still stay connected to the spiritual world.
After home on large property bought,
New responsibilities daily brought.
How in devotional consciousness to stay,
When mind sent this and that other way?
Reminding of Radha-kunda this pond,
Sacred waters, of it Krishna very fond.
Grass and rocks just like Govardhana hill,
Whole area thoughts of Vrindavana to instill.