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108 glories
Akasa records
Benediction and Curse
Miseries of Material Life
Corporal punishment
Cows are sacred
Sacrificed animals
Shape-shifting ability
Meaning of Srila
The meaning of Srivatsa on Visnu
On Tilak: Urdhva Pundra Vidhi
The Glories of Gopi-chandana Tilaka
Varuna Pasa
Prahlada Maharaja - birth
Fathers, mothers, sons
Fire sacrifice
Garbha (belly) dance
Gayatri reference and initiation
Guru Nanak
Om (AUM)
Panca Sakhas
Satya-narayana (katha/puja)
Seven limbs of a kingdom
Vaikuntha - eternal or not?
Vasana (karma-janya)
Vedic curiosities
Visnu's crown

108 glories

Q: What does it mean '108 glories'? (in the translation from Temple Bhajana Book published by L.A. BBT)

A: (Ekanath Das) Instead of saying "jaya jaya jaya jaya," etc. up to 108 times, you say "108 glories." Or as it actually appears, "... astottara-sata sri srimad ...", which could be understood as "108 times venerable". It is just a way to express extraordinary greatness or purity. Prabhupada commented in SB 4.3.23, purport:

"Srila Jiva Gosvami has very nicely described this vasudeva, or suddha-sattva, in his Bhagavat-sandarbha. He explains that astottara-sata (108) is added to the name of the spiritual master to indicate one who is situated in suddha-sattva, or in the transcendental state of vasudeva."

Akasa records (chronicle)

Ekanath Das:

As far as I know this term was first used by the Theosophical Society. The idea was to explain how persons can receive knowledge from unseen or unembodied sources. The Vedic rsis also got their knowledge from somewhere. So the idea was that there are these akashic records, a large reservoir of knowledge like an intercosmic hard disc to which you get access by austerities, blessings, siddhis etc. Knowledge about facts, history, processes and other things is thought to be recorded somewhere in such a way that certain qualified persons can gain access to it independently of the limitations of time and space. I do not know about any Sanskrit word that has 'akasa' in it and would convey this idea. However, in SB 11.21.38 it is stated, akasad ghosavan prano manasa sparsa-rupina, "...Thus the Lord, from the ethereal sky of His heart, creates the great and limitless Vedic sound by the agency of His mind, which conceives of variegated sounds such as the sparsas. The Vedic sound branches out in thousands of directions, adorned with the different letters expanded from the syllable om:..." So I would say here you have the essence of the whole idea. This is also explained in some Upanisads. The akashic records are actually the Vedic sound. Members of the Theosophical Society and others who thought they tapped the akashic records often just had some contact with some local ghost or whatever type of frivolous 'channel', but not with the original Vedic sound which the rsis had access to.

Sadhusangananda Das:

The general definition of akasha chronicle (a term primarily used by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, to scientifically explain prophecies) is that there is a kind of world memory in which events of the past, presence and future are stored. According to Steiner, the mediators of this knowledge are some spirits from the antariksa region (outer border of the atmosphere of the earth).

SB 11.15.19:

mayy akasatmani prane
manasa ghosam udvahan
tatropalabdha bhutanam
hamso vacah srnoty asau

That purified living entity who fixes his mind on the extraordinary sound vibrations occurring within Me as the personified sky and total life air is then able to perceive within the sky the speaking of all living entities.


- four aspects: 1. manas (indecisive state), 2. buddhi (state of decision), 3. ahankara (state with some reference to self), 4. citta (state of remembering)

- between physical and psychic, level of images

- after reaching the perceived object by means of indriya(s), it assumes its form

Ekanath Das:

According to Sridhara Svami's commentary on SB 2.1.35, this is the ahankara. The verse says that Rudra is the personification. Mentioned also in SB 3.28.41, 4.17.34, 4.24.62, 6.9.36, CC Madhya 19.165, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 2.1.103 (quoted in CC Antya 3.62), Lalita-madhava 5.2 (quoted in Narada-bhakti-sutra 8),

Monier-Williams Dictionary: the internal organ, the seat of thought and feeling, the mind, the thinking faculty, the heart, the conscience, the soul.


Aside the well-known definition from Padma Purana (viSNu bhakta smRto daiva Asuras tad viparyayaH), quoted in CC 1.3.91, Srila Madhvacarya has defined asura as follows: asUsu ratiH iti asuraH - "Asura is one who is addicted to the movement of the asu (prana, life force)." In the IsaVasya Upanisad bhasya Adi Sankara similarly says: "asUsu ramate iti asura". The movement of life force through various psycho-physical endeavors produces ecstasy or exhilaration of different kinds. Those who chase this as a thing in itself, or who compulsively engage in such false-egoistic passionate behavior, are asuras. ("...RAISING THE SO-CALLED WITCHPOWER, VRIL, CHI. THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF SATANISM." Instead of their real identity as jiva, asuras are focused on upadhi, externals in the form of subtle and physical body. Prana is a part of linga sarira, subtle body, and serves as interface with the physical body. (SB 4.29.71) At death it leaves to another physical body. (Vedantasutra 2.4.13, SB 4.28.24)

eSo anur AtmA cetasA veditavya yasmin prANah paJcadhA samviveSa
prANais cittam sattvam otam prajAnAm yasmin viSuddhe vibhavaty eSa AtmA

"The atomic soul can be perceived by perfect intelligence as floating in the five kinds of life airs (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana). When the consciousness (that pervades from the soul through the entire body) is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material airs, its spiritual influence is exhibited." (Mundaka Upanisad 3.1.9)

Benediction and Curse

Ekanath Das

Not just anybody can utter a curse. There is a popular saying in India, "The vultures are cursing the cow to die." This means that the vultures would certainly like to have a dead cow to feast on, but their cursing is not effective. The power to curse comes from austerities. If it is used it also diminishes one's overall purity or pious credits that have been accumulated by austerities. That is so because a curse is the result of anger. Anger is in ignorance and passion. But the ability to pronounce a curse rests on austerities and purity. Like a person who never speaks a lie, can cause things to happen simply by stating, "such and such thing will happen", due to his vak sakti (power of speech). This would just be a prediction, but if it was uttered in anger, it becomes a curse. It is like a yogic siddhi and it works on the level of subtle material energies.

Benedictions are different. By giving benedictions one's pious credits do not diminish. One's benedictions might not be effective though. This depends on who one is. There are different types of benedictions. You can bless somebody, just as Visvamitra blessed Trisanku to go to heaven. In this case Visvamitra had to do quite a lot to enforce his blessing. This certainly depleted some of his strength.

But there are other types of blessings, where the giver is not attached and also not entangled by the fact that he gave it. A person who worships a particular demigod for example, becomes dear to that demigod. If he gives a blessing, then the demigod will make sure it happens. What to speak of a devotee of Krsna, he can give all sorts of blessings. So there are spiritual and material blessings.

One could also think about spiritual curses, such as Narada's cursing Nalakuvara and Manigriva, or Agastya Rsi's cursing of Indradyumna Maharaja. Therefore it is said that the curse of a saintly person is really a blessing. Again, we are talking about elevated beings. Otherwise we just get more or less ignorant exchanges between tantrics of all types.


A general definition of Bhagavata-saptaha: a seven-day series of lectures on Srimad-Bhagavatam given by professional reciters to a paying audience.

The book "The Glories of Srimad Bhagavatam" translated by Satyanarayana Dasa in Vrndavan includes this note From the Publisher:

"Srila Prabhupada instructed us never to speak the Srimad Bhagavatam for the purpose of making a living and vehemently criticized professional reciters. This is certainly in line with the statements made by the Kumaras in chapter six: "He (the reciter of the Srimad Bhagavatam) should be a renounced brahmana, a devotee of the Lord, and free from material desires. Those who are cheaters, attached to women, and who do not know the essence of religion, should not be invited to speak on Srimad Bhagavatam. In the olden days, the seven-day recitation of Srimad Bhagavatam was considered a great religious festival but in recent times it has become perverse. Nevertheless, these recitations are traditional and attract large crowds. Understanding the preaching opportunities these gatherings offer, the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness has authorized its members to conduct such recitations, which are certainly beneficial if the purpose is not mundane."

In room conversation (London, August 10, 1971) Srila Prabhupada approved of Bhagavata-saptaha organized by devotees:

Syamasundara: Well, I'm not so sure. They used to be when I was here, and I think if you have a Bhagavata-saptaha, if the weather stays, and the weather's any good... I don't know.

Prabhupada: But the Bhagavata-saptaha, if they are willing to cooperate with _our_ Bhagavata-saptaha.

Syamasundara: Yeah, that's what I mean.


They are extremely long-lived persons (ciran - long, jiva - life). Monier-Williams dictionary, entry "cira jIvin" gives as reference MBh. iii,11262 and 13231 (it should be 3.32.10-11: mArkaNDeyo aprameyAtmA dharmeNa cira jIvitAm vyAso vasiSTho maitreyo nArado lomazaH zukaH), R. ii (=RAmAyana), VarBr2S. (=BRhad-saMhitA of VarAha Mihira) lists eight. Remembering their names daily gives life of 100 years, free of disease:

azvatthAmA balir vyAso hanumANs ca bibhISanaH
kRpaH parazurAmaz ca saptaite ciraJjIvinaH
(Tithya1d., =TithyAditya)
saptaitAn saMsmaren nityaM mArkaNDeyam athASTamam
jIved varSa zataM so pi sarva vyAdhi vivarjita

Asvatthama, Vyasa, Krpa, Parasurama are future saptarsis (SB 8.13.15-16), Bali is next Indra (SB 8.13.12,17, Garuda Purana 1.87.36), Hanuman was blessed by Brahma to live as long as him (Ramayana, Brhad-bhagavatamrta 1.4.41 - he is always free from old age and death), Bibhisana was blessed by Rama to live for one kalpa (SB 9.10.32).

Other famous ciranjivas

Jambavan: Rksaraja, or the king of rksas (bears/monkeys). (SB 8.21.8, Ramayana) Born from Brahma. With his army of rksas aided Rama in His invasion of Lanka and later fought with Krsna over the Syamantaka gem. (SB 10.56). He is listed with the seven above in Brahma vaivarta Purana 4.96.35-36 (jamadagnez sutaH pazya ramaH taH cira-jIvinam hanumantaH baliH vyAsam azvatthAmanaH eva ca, vibhISanaH kRpaH vipram jambavantaH ca bhallukam hari-bhavanjaya caite suddhaz su-cira-jIvinah).

Devapi: Elder brother of Santanu who retired to the forest and thus Santanu became a king. He took to the path of mystic yoga, lives in Kalapa-grama and will revive the Soma (Candra) dynasty in the next Satya-yuga. (SB 9.22.16-19)

Maru: A king of the Iksvaku dynasty, the father of Prasusruta and son of Sighra. He had become "ciranjivi" (immortal) by his yogic power. He will revive the ksatriya race of Surya vamsa in the next Satya-yuga. In the meantime he lives in Kalapa-grama (SB 9.12.6). (According to Nrsimha Purana 29.12 Ksemaka, the last descendant of Arjuna, took shelter in Kalapa-grama when mlecchas conquered the world: sa ca rAjyasthaH prajAH paripAlya mlecchAbhibhUte jagati jJAnabalAt kalApagrAmam AzritaH)

Seven sages (saptarsis) are also very long-living - they must live for at least one manvantara during which they hold their posts. Current are Kasyapa, Atri, Vasistha, Visvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, and Bharadvaja. (SB 8.13.5, 9.16.24p.) Future (in 8th manvantara) will be Galava, Diptiman, Parasurama, Asvatthama, Krpa, Rsyasrnga, Vyasadeva. (SB 8.13.15, similar to Garuda Purana 1.87.34)

Galava is a son or disciple of Visvamitra. Identity of Diptiman is not clear as there are more persons with this name in sastras. Parasurama lives on Mahendra Parvata. (SB 9.16.26)

Ekanath Das:

I found this verse quoted in the Vacaspatyam Sanskrit-Sanskrit dictionary under the entry "cirajivin". The reference there is a little unclear, because it says "markandeye" and then proceeds to quote that verse and then refers to a scripture of the name Tithy-adi-tantra. The confusing thing here is that "markandeye" would mean "in the Markandeya Purana". It could also be that the Tithyaditantra is quoting the Markandeya P. Unfortunately I cannot identify the verse in my Markandeya P., because my copy is lacking the first couple of pages in its sloka index. However, in the Sabdakalpadruma, the entry "ciranjivi", gives a list of eight names, the first of which is Markandeya, and then refers to the Tithyaditantra. Boehtlingk (St. Petersburg dictionary), also gives eight names and refers to both Sabdakalpadruma and Tithyaditantra. Tithyaditantra would therefore be the safest reference and it also means that the verse is not from the Mahabharata, because that would have been known to the compilers of those dictionaries.

Puranic Encyclopedia:

Ciranjiv (One who has no death). When the Pandavas were in exile in the forests sage Markandeya tells many stories to Dharmaputra to console him in his sad plight. The Pandavas asked Markandeya whether he knew of anybody living before him. Then the sage said, "In times of old Indradyumna, an ascetic king (rajarsi), fell down from heaven when he fell short of his accumulated 'punya'. Sorrowfully he came to me and asked me whether I knew him. I replied in the negative adding that perhaps Pravirakarna, an owl living on the top of the Himalayas, might know him since he was older than me. At once Indradyumna became a horse and taking me on its back approached the owl living in the Himalayas. The owl also could not remember Indradyumna but directed him to a stork named Nadijamgha who was older than the owl. The ascetic king took me then to the Indradyumna lake where the stork lived. The stork also could not find the identity of Indradyumna. Perhaps, he said, that a tortoise of name Akupara living in that same lake might know him. We then approached the tortoise and inquired whether he knew Indradyumna. The tortoise sat in meditation for some time and then weeping profusely and shaking like a leaf stood bowing respectfully and said, "How can I remain without knowing him? There are several monuments of the useful work done by him here. This very lake is of his making. This came into existence by the march of the cows he gave away to the people". The moment the tortoise finished speaking, a chariot appeared from heaven to take the king away. The king after leaving me and the owl in their proper places ascended to heaven in the chariot.

Ciranjivi. The name of a crow, a character in the 'Pancatantra'. (See under Meghavarna).

Meghavarna is a crow, character in a story of Pancatantra.

Bhusunda (-i). A dispassionate and large- hearted crow. The residence of this crow was a kalpavrksa standing on a beautiful peak surrounded by luxuriant vegetation in the north-eastern corner of Mahameru. There were numerous bird-nests on the southern branch of that kalpavrksa. In one of them lived this centuries-old bird. She spoke with sage Vasistha about history. (Jnana Vasistha, Bhusundopakhyana)


ganga-sri-visnu-puja ca danani dvijasattama
brahmananam tatha bhaktir bhaktir ekadasi-vrate
dhatri-tulasyor bhaktis ca tatha catithi-pujanam
kriya-yogangabhutani proktaniti samasatah

Kriya-yoga consists of worship of: Ganga, Sri (Laksmi), Visnu, generosity, devotion to brahmanas, observance of the Ekadasi-vrata, devotion to the Dhatri tree and the Tulasi plant, and hospitality to guests. (Padma Purana, Kriya-yogasara 3.4-5, Vyasa speaking to Jaimini)


Hindu Dictionary (Manurishi Foundation):
Loka-palas-Supporters or guardians of the world. The guardian deities who preside over the eight points of the compass, ie., the four cardinal and four intermediate points of the compass: 1) Indra, east; 2) Agni, south-east; 3) Yama, south; 4) Surya, south-west; 5) Varuna, west; 6) Vayu, north-west; 7) Kuvera, north; 8) Soma, north-east. Nirriti is by some substituted for No. 4, and Prithivi or Shiva, especially in his form Ishana, for No. 8. Each of these guardian deities has an elephant who takes part in the defence and protection of the quarter, and these eight elephants are themselves called Loka-palas: 1) Indra's elephant at the east is Airavata. He is also called Abhra-matanga, "elephant of the clouds"; Arkasodara, "brother of the sun"; Naga-malla, "the fighting elephant"; Sada-dana, "always in rut"; Madambara, "covered with ichor". His wife's name is Abhramu. 2) Agni's elephant at the south-east is Pundarika and his female Kapila. 3) Yama's at the south is Vamana and his female Pingala. 4) Surya's at the south-west is Kumuda and his female is Anupama. 5) Varuna's at the west is Anjana, whose female is Anjanavati.6) Vayu's at the north-west is Pushpa-danta, whose female is Shubha-danti. 7) Kuvera's at the north is Sarva-bhauma; and 8) Soma's elephant at the north-east is Su-pratika. The two other females are Anjana and Tamra-karni, whose spouses are doubtful. Anjanavati is sometimes assigned to Su-pratika. In the Ramayana 1) Indra's eastern elephant is called Virupaksha; 2) Varuna's elephant at the west, Saumanasa; 3) Yama's at the south is Maha-padma, and 4) Kuvera's at the north is Hima-pandara.

...Best of sons, [the garland of Tripura called] Hastini gives birth to the elephants of the quarters. (Radha tantra 3.19)

north: Kuvera
north-east: Candra; Siva (Narada Pancaratra 2.2.55); Kuvera (Brhad Bhagavatamrta 1.2.94 p.)
east: Indra
south-east: Agni
south: Yama
south-west: Surya; Nirrti (Narada Pancaratra 2.2.55)
west: Varuna
north-west: Vayu
higher lokas: Brahma
talas: Ananta

Govinda lilamrta 9.95-97: This girl Visakha is actually the incarnation of Lord Siva, the regent of the Northeast. This Lalita is the incarnation of Lord Indra, the regent of the eastern direction. Sudevi is the incarnation of Agni, the regent of the Southeast. Tungavidya is the incarnation of Yamaraja, the regent of the southern direction. Citra is the incarnation of Nairrtya, the regent of the southwest. Rangadevi is the incarnation of Varuna, the regent of the western direction. Indulekha is the incarnation of Vayu, the regent of the northwest. Campakalata is the incarnation of Kuvera, the regent of the north. Sri Rupa-manjari who is expert at making arrangements for the nectar of transcendental mellows, is the incarnation of Lord Brahma, the regent of the upper worlds. Expert Ananga-manjari is the incarnation of the Lord Anantadeva, the regent of the nether worlds.

Miseries of Material Life

(Bhaktivinod Thakur, Kalyana-kalpataru, 2nd branch - Upalabdhi, song 5 - according to Patanjali's Yoga-sutra, Sadhana-pada, 3rd sutra)

1. avidya, ignorance (leads to the forgetfulness of one's nature as the soul)
2. asmita, distraction (the egoistic pride leads to neglecting the essence of life)
3. abhinivesa, misconcetration (leads to the absorption in trivial pursuits)
4. raga, misdirected love (and attachment to the things averse to pure bhakti)
5. dvesa, impurity (soul becomes polluted by nasty qualities)


at the same time in many universes, unfolding gradually, and more or less the same in all kalpas

SB 1.9.39, 3.2.7, 3.4.8, CCM 20.379-397p., lectures 730103BS.BOM, 731210SB.LA, 740410MW.BOM, 760608MW.LA

Path of Perfection, chapter Eight: Failure and Success in Yoga:

Through bhakti, pure devotion to Krsna, we can leave the association of Maya and be promoted to the eternal association of Krsna. Some of the gopas, Krsna's friends, are eternal associates, and others are promoted to that eternal position. If only the eternal associates of Krsna can play with Him and others cannot, then what is the meaning of becoming Krsna conscious? We can also become eternal associates of Krsna through pious deeds executed in many, many lives. Actually, in the Vrndavana manifest in this material world, the associates of Krsna are mainly conditioned living entities who have been promoted to the perfect stage of Krsna consciousness. Thus promoted, they are first of all allowed to see Krsna on the planet where Krsna's pastimes are being enacted. After this, they are promoted to the transcendental Goloka Vrndavana in the spiritual sky. Therefore it is stated in the Bhagavata (10.12.11), krta-punya-punjah.

in Goloka, divya-Vrndavana: (Brhad-bhagavatamrta 2.6.352-359)

352 O friend, after some time, as if he had never come before Akrura came again and took his chariot to Vraja.

353 Again he took away the life of Vraja. The people there attained the same condition as before.

354 Again Krsna went to Mathura city, killed Kamsa, and returned to Vraja as before. In this way He enjoyed pastimes.

355 Again and again He goes to Mathura city and, as before, again and again He returns and enjoys pastimes in Vraja.

356 Again and again He subdues Kaliya. Again and again He lifts Govardhana Hill. Again and again the Lord enjoys many wonderful pastimes that enchant the devotees' hearts.

357 Poisoned by great love for Sri Krsna, the people of Vraja think these events never happened before.

358 Separated from Him, and meeting Him again, their love for Krsna grows very great.

359 For the eternal residents of Vraja the news of these pastimes is far away. Even newcomers like myself cannot remember them.

Note: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that by the Lord's mercy the eternal residents of Vraja forget these pastimes.

Pancagavya-ghrta ("five products of the cow")

Milk, yogurt (Garuda Purana 1.105.60: curd), urine, dung, ghee (predominantly) mixed with some herbs, heated over a slow fire till there is no water moisture left and strained through a cloth. Person with mantra-siddhi chants Garuda- pancaksari mantra over it. If made by a qualified person, it counteracts any poison, even the bite of a cobra.

Garuda Purana 1.222.63-66 "The constituents of Pancagavya are as follows: Milk taken from a gold colored cow, the cow dung of a white cow, urine of a copper colored cow, clarified butter of the milk of a blue cow and the curd of the milk of a black cow. Water added should be consecrated by Kusa grass. Eight Masas of cow's urine, four Masas of dung, twelve Masas of milk, ten Masas of curd and five Masas of ghee form the correct proportion. This Pancagavya removes all impurities.

Pancamrta: milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar water


Ability to be present at several places at the same time is in case of the Lord called vaibhava-prakasa. It is also sometimes manifested by His devotees. SB 7.4.34p., 7.12.15p., 10.86.26p., KB ch. 86, CCM 20.171, Brhad-bhagavatamrta 2.5.170-171.

"Karma-mimamsa philosophers say it is impossible for the devas to be embodied beings because their presence is invoked at many sacrifices simultaneously. The mimamsakas are wrong, because the devas are empowered to receive sacrifice by the grace of the Supreme Lord dwelling in their hearts. Thus may the devas manifest many forms simultaneously." (Vedanta-sutra 1.3.27)

Corporal punishment

Corporal punishment is described in dharma sastras for specific sins. It can't be inflicted on brahmanas.


Let him, when angry, not raise a stick against another man, nor strike (anybody) except a son or a pupil; those two he may beat in order to correct them. (Manu samhita 4.164)

A wife, a son, a slave, a pupil [Jan: dAsa - a (male) servant, preSya - a servant, specifically a messenger], and a (younger) brother of the full blood, who have committed faults, may be beaten with a rope or a split bamboo,
But on the back part of the body (only), never on a noble part; he who strikes them otherwise will incur the same guilt as a thief. (Manu samhita 8.299-300)

See Manu samhita overview for more.

Cows are sacred

(from the Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Sections LXXXIII - LXXVII - LXXVI)

Bhisma said:

No sacrifice can be performed without the aid of curds and ghee (clarified butter). The very character of sacrifice which sacrifices have, depends upon ghee. Hence ghee (or, the cow from which it is produced) is regarded as the very root of sacrifice.

Cows have been said to be the limbs of sacrifice. They represent sacrifice itself. Without them, there can be no sacrifice. With their milk and the Havi produced therefrom, they uphold all creatures by diverse acts. Cows are guileless in their behavior. From them flow sacrifices and Havya and Kavya and milk and curds and ghee. Hence cows are sacred.

Afflicted by hunger and thirst, they bear diverse burdens. Cows support the Munis (sages).

Among all objects mobile and immobile, the mobile are superior. Among mobile creatures Brahmanas are superior. The sacrifices are all established upon them. It is by sacrifice that Soma (nectar) is got. Sacrifice has been established upon cows. (For without ghee or clarified butter, which is produced from milk, there can be no sacrifice). The gods become gratified through sacrifices. It is from the cows that the means have flowed of the sustenance of all the worlds. They yield Soma (nectar) in the form of milk. Cows are auspicious and sacred and grantors of every wish and givers of life.

They who make gifts of cows and who subsist upon the remnants of things offered as libations on the sacred fire are regarded as always performing sacrifices of every kind.

Of all kinds of gifts, the gift of cows is applauded as the highest. Cows are the foremost of all things. Themselves sacred, they are the best of cleansers and sanctifiers. People should cherish cows for obtaining prosperity and even peace. Cows are said to represent the highest energy both in this world and the world that is above. There is nothing that is more sacred or sanctifying than cows.

One should never feel any repugnance for the urine and the dung of the cow.


The Risis (ascetic seers) discovered that the magnetism of the cow is something that is possessed of extraordinary virtues. Give the same kind of food to a cow and to a horse. The horse-dung emits an unhealthy stench, while the cow-dung is an efficacious disinfectant. There can be little doubt that the urine and dung of the cow possess untold virtues.

Vyasa said:

Cows are sacred. They are embodiments of merit. They are high and most efficacious cleansers of all.

One should for three days drink the hot urine of the cow. For the next three days one should drink the hot milk of the cow. Having thus drunk for three days hot milk, one should next drink hot ghee for three days. Having in this way drunk hot ghee for three days, one should subsist for the next three days on air only.

Vasistha said:

By bathing in water mixed with cow-dung, people shall become sanctified. The deities and men shall use cow-dung for the purpose of purifying all creatures mobile and immobile. One can sit on dried cow dung. One should never eat the flesh of cows.

One should never show any disregard for cows in any way. If evil dreams are seen, men should take the names of cows. One should never obstruct cows in any way. Cows are the mothers of both the Past and the Future. Cows have become the refuge of the world. It is for this that cows are said to be highly blessed, sacred and the foremost of all things. It is for this that cows are said to stay at the very head of all creatures. Every morning people should bow with reverence unto cows.

Cows are the best Havi for the deities. The mantras called Svaha and Vasat are forever established in cows. Sacrifices are established in the cows. Cows constitute the fruit of sacrifices. Cows are the future and the past and sacrifices rest on them. Morning and evening cows yield unto the Risis Havi for use in Homa (sacred fire ceremony).

Cows are always fragrant. The perfume emanated by the exudation of the Amytis agallochum issues out of their bodies. Cows are the great refuge of all creatures. Cows constitute the great source of blessing unto all. (Svastayana is a ceremony of propitiation, productive of blessing and destructive of misery of every kind). Cows are the source of eternal growth.

Cows are sacred. They are the foremost of all things in the world. They are verily the refuge of the universe. They are the mothers of the very deities. They are verily incomparable. Cows are the mothers of the universe. There is no gift more sacred than the gift of cows. There is no gift that produces more blessed merit.

Vyasa said:

Cows constitute the stay of all creatures. Cows are the refuge of all creatures. Cows are the embodiment of merit. Cows are sacred and blessed and are sanctifiers of all. One should never, in even one's heart, do an injury to cows. One should, indeed, always confer happiness on them. Living in a pure state, in the midst of cows, one should mentally recite those sacred mantras that are known by the name of Gomati, after touching pure water. By doing this one becomes purified and cleansed. Brahmanas of righteous deeds, who have been cleansed by the knowledge, study of the Vedas and observance of vows should only in the midst of sacred fires or cows or assemblies of Brahmanas impart unto their disciples a knowledge of the Gomati mantras which are every way like unto a sacrifice (for the merit they produce). One should observe a fast for three nights for receiving the boon constituted by a knowledge of the import of the Gomati mantras.

The man who is desirous of obtaining a son may obtain one by adoring these mantras. He who desires the possession of wealth may have his desire gratified by adoring these mantras. The girl desirous of having a good husband may have her wish fulfilled by the same means. In fact, one may acquire the fruition of every wish one may cherish by adoring these sacred mantras. When cows are gratified with the service one renders them, they are without doubt capable of granting the fruition of every wish. Even so, cows are highly blessed. They are the essential requisites of sacrifices. They are grantors of every wish. Know that there is nothing superior to cows.

Cows are endued with the elements of strength and energetic exertion. Cows have in them the elements of wisdom. They are the source of that immortality which sacrifice achieves. They are the refuge of all energy. They are the steps by which earthly prosperity is won. They constitute the eternal course of the universe. They lead to the extension of one's race.

Bhisma said:

One should not by imparting a knowledge of this ritual benefit a person that is not one's disciple or that is not observant of vows or that is bereft of faith or that is possessed of a crooked understanding. Verily, this religion is a mystery, unknown to most people. One that knows it should not speak of it at every place. There are, in the world, many men that are bereft of faith. There are among men many persons that are mean and that resemble Raksasas. This religion, if imparted unto them, would lead to evil. It would be productive of equal evil if imparted to such sinful men as have taken shelter in atheism.

Sacrificed animals - destination

BG 2.31p. - human life BG 18.3p. - sometimes animal, sometimes human body; sages differ SB 4.25.24, 5.8.5 - new life, young body CCM 17.161-163 - rejuvenated Manu 5.40-42 - higher existences

Shape-shifting ability (kama-rupa)

Superhuman species can often change their form as they wish. It is a result of magic (SB 3.2.30, 10.4.44, 10.55.3 - Kamsa's wizards), yogic powers (11.15.6-7,22, 12.6.12 - Taksaka Naga) or is inborn (8.15.32 - demigods).

Meaning of Srila

Nayana-ranjana Das

"Sri" is basically a noun and is also used as an adjective.

According to Sanskrit dictionary, "Sri" as a noun, means Srimati Radharani, Laksmidevi, wealth, opulence, beauty, fame, knowledge, strength, any virtue or excellence, etc.

Also "Sri" as an adjective means splendid, radiant, adorning (decorated) etc.

So when "Sri" is used for Visnu-tattva, it can be taken both as a noun and an adjective.

But whenever it is used for the jiva-tattva, it is used as an adjective.

"Srila" is an adjective of the noun "sri."

"Sri-la" means one who possesses wealth (i.e rich), opulence, beauty, etc. "Sri" also means the three Vedas. So "srila" means learned personality who knows the three Vedas.

As "sri" means Srimati Radharani, "srila" means one who possesses the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani is his heart.

As "sri" is the name of one of the six ragas or musical modes (masculine), "srila" means expertise in music, especially in the "Sri" raga.

The meaning of Srivatsa on Visnu

Ekanath Das

What exactly is the mark of Srivatsa on Lord Visnu's or Krsna's chest? There are a number of passages in our books that seem to offer different explanations, and many devotees do wonder what this mark actually is.

The Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana, an exhaustive Bengali Vaisnava encyclopedia, which was published in Navadvipa in the year 1956, lists five different meanings under the entry 'Sri-vatsa':

1. A lock of hair on the right side of Sri Visnu's chest. 2. The mark of Laksmi on the chest of Visnu. 3. The Kaustubha gem. 4. The mark of Bhrgu's foot. 5. Laksmi in the form of a golden line.

Point one seems to be the most commonly accepted meaning. It is also described that this lock of hair is white and that it is more or less shaped like a cross. It is sometimes, on paintings or Deities, symbolized by a flower.

Srila Prabhupada writes:

"Srivatsa is a curl of white hair on the chest of the Lord which is a special sign of His being the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Vaikunthaloka or in Goloka Vrndavana, the inhabitants are exactly of the same form as the Personality of Godhead, but by this Srivatsa mark on the chest of the Lord He is distinguished from all others." (SB 3.19.15)

"The Srivatsa mark is described by the Vaisnava-tosani as being a curl of fine yellow hair on the upper portion of the right side of Lord Visnu's chest. This mark is not for ordinary devotees. It is a special mark of Visnu or Krsna." (SB 10.13.48)

Point number two is also often offered as the meaning, namely that the mark of Srivatsa indicates the place of Laksmi, that is where she rests on the Lord's chest. This second meaning has also been used by Srila Prabhupada as follows:

"The Lord is further described as having the mark of Srivatsa, or the sitting place of the goddess of fortune, and His bodily hue is deep bluish. The Lord is a person, He wears a garland of flowers, and He is eternally manifest with four hands, which hold [beginning from the lower left hand] a conchshell, wheel, club and lotus flower." (SB 4.8.47)

The third meaning, namely that Srivatsa can also be the Kaustubha jewel, is less known. Both Srivatsa and Kaustubha are generally listed together in the same line, often in the same word even, in the verses of the Bhagavatam. But then such a compound word always has a dual ending, indicating that these are two things. Haridasa dasa, the compiler of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana, supports the third meaning with a reference to a book of the name "Bhakti-candrika-patala". This book was compiled by Lokananda Acarya and it contains the direct instructions of Narahari Sarakara, an associate of Lord Caitanya.

Point four was also confirmed by Srila Prabhupada in his letter to Yamuna devi:

"...Regarding the footprint on Krishna's chest which you say is Radharani's, that is not correct. That footprint is of Bhrgu Muni." (Los Angeles 69-08-12)

The story of Bhrgu Muni and how it came that he placed his foot on Lord Visnu's chest, is explained in the Krsna Book, Chapter 89. It's described in detail in Padma Purana.

Point five is explained as follows in the end of the purport to SB 10.15.8:

"The goddess of fortune, who lives in Vaikuntha on the chest of Lord Narayana, once desired to be embraced on the chest of Sri Krsna, and thus she performed severe austerities to achieve this blessing. Sri Krsna informed her that her actual place was in Vaikuntha and that it was not possible for her to dwell upon His chest in Vrndavana. Therefore she begged Krsna to allow her to remain on His chest in the form of a golden line, and He granted her this benediction. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura recounts this incident from the Puranas."

The meaning of the word Srivatsa, may be given as, "The darling of Sri". The idea is, that He who is the darling of Sri, the goddess of fortune, is distinguished from others by a special sign on His chest. Thus Srivatsa and Srivatsa-vaksah (He who has the mark of Srivatsa on His chest) are names of Lord Visnu. And because Laksmi is kept on the Lord's chest exactly at this spot, this spot came to be known under the same name. The origin of that spot is explained differently by different Puranas and other works.

There is a further meaning listed in the Mahabharata: A symbol on Lord Narayana's chest, originally made by the mark of Lord Siva's lance.

On Tilak: Urdhva Pundra Vidhi

1. Atharvana Upanisad

Anyone who marks his body with the tilak which resembles the lotus feet of Lord Hari becomes dear to the Paramatma. He becomes fortunate and attains liberation.

2. Maha Upanisad

One gets released of all the bondage of samsara when one marks his body with the tilak markings and knows Narayana who is known by karma, jnana and bhakti yogas. Ultimately, he attains Lord Visnu.

3. Agni Purana

A brahmana should not wear the three lined tilak across (tiryak pundra) even for as a joke or play. One should mark his body with the vertical tilak only according to the prescribed rules.

4. Brahmanda Purana

A brahmana should wear urdhva pundra; a ksatriya ardha candrakara (half-moon) pundra; vaisya round shaped pundra; and a sudra tri pundra (horizontal tiryak pundra). A brahmana should never wear the horizontal tilak. He is to be considered a sudra if he wears it.

5. Brahmaratra

One should meditate on Me by chanting Om and should mark his body with vertical tilak daily. Anyone who marks thus attains sayujya liberation.

6. Vasistha Smrti

One should mark the tilak on his forehead as follows: he should start from the nose tip and go till his kesa (hair). The width should be one angula (circa 1 inch). This is urdhva pundra laksana.

7. Sanat Kumara Samhita

Urdhva pundra should be worn with clay and should be worn with a gap inbetween and nicely. In between the two lines, one should mark Sri or Laksmi in the form of Haridhra curna. One should not mark anything else inbetween. Anyone who marks like this is freed from all sinful reactions. Anyone who marks the tilak without any gap is condemned.

8. Padma Purana

Those devotees on whose neck tulasi kanti mala and lotus seed kanti malas are hanging and on whose shoulders there are the markings of conch and cakra and on whose body there are 12 tilak markings, they purify the entire universe immediately.

9. Isvara samhita

Anyone who marks his body with the clay which has touched Lord Visnu's body attains the benefit of an asvamedha sacrifice and is glorified in Visnu's abode. One should mark inbetween the vertical lines mother Laksmi with the help of yellow curna or powder.

Jahnava Nitai das:

The tilak is an external symbol of our surrender to Krishna, or to our object of worship. The shape and material used may differ according to the particular process of surrender the sampradaya follows.

In the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya the tilak is made out of the white mud found in anthills. The scriptures tell us that the mud from the base of a Tulasi plant and the white mud from within the ant hill are both pure and best for making tilak. The Sri Vaishnavas will draw two lines representing the feet of Sri Narayana, and in the middle they will put a red line to represent Lakshmi Devi. The red line was originally made from a red stone found within the ant hill. The ants would usually make their ant hill on top of these red stones. When you rub the stone in water, a red color paint is formed. The category of Shakti is generally represented with the color red in all lines, both Vedic and Tantrik. Because the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya begins with Sri Lakshmi Devi, and because they approach Narayana only through Lakshmi, their tilak reflects this process of surrender. The tilaks of each sampradaya actually depict the siddhanta of the sampradaya.

In the Vallabha sampradaya the tilak worn is generally a single vertical red line. This line represents Sri Yamuna Devi. The form of Krishna worshiped in the Vallabha line is Sri Nathji or Govardhana. The consort of the Govardhana hill is the river Yamuna. Their process of surrender goes through Sri Yamuna Devi.

In the Madhva sampradaya the tilak is made out of Gopichandana mud from Dwaraka. Two vertical lines are made out of Gopichandana to represent the feet of Lord Krishna. This gopichandana tilak is nearly identical to that used in the Gaudiya sampradaya. In between a vertical black line is made from the daily coal of the yajna-kunda. In their sampradaya, the process of worship involved nitya-homa, or daily fire sacrifices to the Lord. The remnant coal of the puja was taken each day to mark the forehead. Underneath the black line, a yellow or red dot was put to indicate Lakshmi or Radha. Those who did not perform daily fire sacrifice would only put the simple gopichandana tilak.

In the Gaudiya sampradaya the tilak is usually made out of the Gopichandana mud. Some lineages prefer to use the mud from Vrindavana. The main tilak is basically identical to the Madhva tilak. The slight difference arises due to the emphasis on nama-sankirtana, or the chanting of the Lord's names. In Sri Chaitanya's line, nama-sankirtana is the yajna to be performed in kali yuga, and not the daily fire sacrifice performed in the Madhva sampradaya. As such, the black line made from the ash of the fire sacrifice is not applied in the Gaudiya sampradaya. The second difference arises due to Sri Chaitanya's process of approaching the Lord. In the Gaudiya line one does not approach Srimati Radharani directly, but always indirectly through the servant. To indicate this, the red dot representing Radha is replaced with a tulasi leaf offered at the base of the Lord's feet. Only with the mercy of Tulasi Devi can we develop pure devotion to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

In the scriptures there are very general descriptions of the procedure for applying tilak. For example it is mentioned that the tilak should be urdhva-pundra, or vertical lines; the body should be marked in twelve locations, etc. But these instructions are very general and leave a lot of the details to the acharyas. Even in a simple point, such as the location of the tilak, one person may interpret the 'shoulder' to start from the arm, where as another may interpret it to start higher up near the neck. This is actually the case in the two branches of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya.

The actual design of the tilak will manifest either through divine revelation or through scientific study. An example of divine revelation is the Gaudiya lineage of Sri Shyamananda. Radharani revealed a portion of her broken bangle to Sri Shyamananda, which he used in applying tilak to his forehead. As a result, his followers apply a unique design of tilak from other branches of the Gaudiya sampradaya.

In other cases, an acharya may scientifically analyze the sampradaya siddhanta and compare its compatibility with the tilak they wear. The external purpose of the tilak is to differentiate the followers of a sampradaya from other classes of philosophers, just as one branch of the armed forces wears a uniform to differentiate itself from the other branches. In such a case, the tilak may change when there occurs a shift or branching of the sampradaya due to philosophical views. The newly formed branch may re-analyze the tilak in connection with its siddhanta and make changes that fully reflect their process of surrender. Such is the case among the two branches of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. Due to a difference of opinion in regards to the process of surrender, two distinct tilaks emerged.

In any case, the ultimate purpose of tilak is to sanctify oneself and mark the body as the temple of the Lord. The scriptures do not specify in detail the manner that this should be done, and as such it is the acharyas who crystalize the procedures while adhering to the general prescriptions given in the scriptures.

Satyaraja das: "Om Shalom", p. 122:

urdhvapundra (Vaisnava) symbolism:

1. U = foot of Visnu and Tulasi leaf on His foot, in "U" place between leave empty (it is meant for Visnu) 2. two lines = Brahma and Siva

tripundra (Saiva): three horizontal lines (Padma Purana)

Padma Purana on urdhvapundra tilak
Vaisnava tilakas (mirror)
The Holy Shroud of Turin: Did Jesus wear a Vaisnava tilaka?

The Glories of Gopi-chandana Tilaka

From Sri Garga Samhita, Canto Six, Chapter Fifteen
Translation by Kusakratha Das

Text 15

yasya sravana-matrena
karma-bandhat pramucyate
gopinam yatra vaso 'bhut
tena gopi-bhuvah smrtah

Simply by hearing about Gopi-bhumi, which is so named because the gopis resided there, one become free from the bondage of karma.

Text 16

gopi-candanam uttamam
ganga-snana-phalam labhet

In Gopi-bhumi gopi-candana was manifested from the gopis' cosmetics. A person who marks his limbs with gopi-candana tilaka attains the result of bathing in the Ganga.

Text 17

maha-nadinam snanasya
punyam tasya dine dine
mudrito yah sada bhavet

A person who daily wears gopi-candana tilaka attains the pious result of daily bathing in all sacred rivers.

Text 18

rajasuya-satani ca
sarvani tirtha-danani
vratani ca tathaiva ca
krtani tena nityam vai
sa krtartho na samsayah

A person who daily wears gopi-candana tilaka attains the result of performing a thousand asvamedha-yajnas and a hundred rajasuya-yajnas. He attains the result of giving charity and following vows at all holy places. He attains the goal of life. Of this there is no doubt.

Text 19

ganga-mrd-dvi-gunam punyam
citrakuta-rajah smrtam
tasmad dasa-gunam punyam
rajah pancavati-bhavam

Twice as sacred as the mud of the Ganga is the dust of Citrakuta. Ten times more sacred than that is the dust of Pancavati-tirtha.

Text 20

tasmac chata-gunam punyam
gopi-candanakam rajah
gopi-candanakam viddhi

A hundred times more sacred is the dust of gopi-candana. Please know that gopi-candana is equal to the dust of Vrndavana.

Text 21

yadi papa-satair yutam
tam netum na yamah sakto
yama-dutah kutah punah

Even if in the past he has committed hundreds of sins, if a person wears gopi-candana tilaka, then Yamaraja cannot take him away. How, then, can Yamaraja's messengers touch him?

Text 22

nityam karoti yah papi
sa prayati harer dhama
golokam prakrteh param

A sinner who daily wears gopi-candana tilaka goes to Lord Krsna supreme abode, Goloka, which is beyond the world of matter.

Text 23

sindhu-desasya rajabhud
dirghabahur iti srutah
anyaya-varti dustatma
vesya-sanga-ratah sada

In Sindhu-desa there was a king named Dirghabahu. He was cruel and sinful and he was addicted to visiting prostitutes.

Text 24

tena vai bharate varse
brahma-hatya-satam krtam
dasa garbhavati-hatyah
krtas tena duratmana

While he was on the earth this cruel sinner murdered a hundred brahmanas and ten pregnant women.

Text 25

mrgayayam tu banaughaih
kapila-go-vadhah krtah
saindhavam hayam aruhya
mrgayarthi gato 'bhavat

One day he mounted a sindhu horse and went hunting. With a flood of arrows he accidentally killed a brown cow in that hunt.

Text 26

ekada rajya-lobhena
mantri kruddho maha-khalam
jaghanaranya-dese tam
tiksna-dharena casina

One day, greedy to get his kingdom, with a sharp sword his angry minister killed him in the forest.

Text 27

bhu-tale patitam mrtyu-
gatam viksya yamanugah
baddhva yama-purim ninyur
harsayantah parasparam

Seeing him fallen to the ground and dead, the Yamadutas came, bound him, and, joking as they went, took him to the city of Yamaraja.

Text 28

sammukhe 'vasthitam viksya
papinam yama-rad bali
citraguptam praha turnam
ka yogya yanatasya vai

Seeing this sinner brought before him, powerful Yamaraja said to his scribe Citragupta, "What is the proper punishment for him?"

Text 29

sri-citragupta uvaca

narakesu nipatyatam
nihsandeham maha-raja
yavac candra-divakarau

Sri Citragupta said: O great king, he should be thrown into eight million four hundred thousand hells for as long as the sun and the moon shine in the sky.

Text 30

anena bharate varse
ksanam na su-krtam krtam
kapila-go-vadhah krtah

On the earth he did not perform a single pious deed. He killed ten pregnant women. He killed a brown cow.

Text 31

tatha vana-mrganam ca
krtva hatyah sahasrasah
tasmad ayam maha-papi

He killed thousands of deer in the forest. He offended the demigods and the brahmanas. He is a great sinner.

Texts 32 and 33

sri-narada uvaca

tada yamajnaya duta
nitva tam papa-rupinam
tapta-taile maha-khale

sphurad aty-ucchalat-phene
kumbhipake nyapatayan
pralayagni-samo vahnih
sadyah sitalatam gatah

Sri Narada said: Then, by Yamaraja's order, the Yamadutas took that sinner and threw him into a terrible, eight-thousand mile wide cauldron of bubbling boiling oil in the hell of Kumbhipaka. The moment that sinner came to it, the boiling oil, which was as hot as the great fires at the time of cosmic devastation, suddenly became cool.

Text 34

vaideha tan-nipatanat
prahlada-ksepanad yatha
tadaiva citram acakhyur
yama-duta mahatmane

O king of Videha, as Prahlada was unhurt in the same situation, that sinner was not hurt by the boiling oil. Then the Yamadutas described that great wonder to noble-hearted Yamaraja.

Text 35

anena su-krtam bhumau
ksanavan na krtam kvacit
citraguptena satatam
dharma-rajo vyacintayat

Yamaraja and Citragupta carefully reviewed the sinner's case and concluded that while he was on the earth the sinner had not for a moment performed even a single pious deed.

Text 36

sabhayam agatam vyasam
sampujya vidhivan nrpa
natva papraccha dharmatma
dharma-rajo maha-matih

Then Vyasadeva arrived in that assembly. Bowing down before Him, and carefully worshiping Him, saintly and noble-hearted Yamaraja asked Vyasadeva the following question.

Text 37

sri-yama uvaca

anena papina purvam
na krtam su-krtam kvacit
kumbhipake maha-khale

asya ksepanato vahnih
sadyah sitalatam gatah
iti sandehatas cetah
khidyate me na samsayah

Sri Yamaraja said: When a certain sinner, who had never performed even a single pious deed, was thrown into the terrible boiling oil of Kumbhipaka, the oil suddenly became cool. Because of this my mind is now tortured with doubts.

Text 39

sri-vyasa uvaca

suksma gatir maha-raja
vidita papa-punyayoh
tatha brahma-gatih prajnaih
sarva-sastra-vidam varaih

Sri Vyasadeva said: O great king, the intelligent sages, who have studied all the scriptures, know that the ways of piety, sin, and spiritual progress are very subtle and difficult to understand.

Text 40

daiva-yogad asya punyam
praptam vai svayam arthavat
yena punyena suddho 'sau
tac chrnu tvam maha-mate

Somehow or other, by destiny, this sinner did perform a pious deed, and by that deed he became purified. O noble-hearted one, please hear the story of this.

Text 41

kasyapi hastato yatra
patita dvaraka-mrdah
tatraivayam mrtah papi
suddho 'bhut tat-prabhavatah

That sinner died in a place where from someone's hand some gopi-candana from Dvaraka had accidentally fallen. Dying in gopi-candana, that sinner became purified.

Text 42

naro narayano bhavet
etasya darsanat sadyo
brahma-hatya pramucyate

A person who wears gopi-candana tilaka attains a spiritual form like that of Lord Narayana. Simply by seeing him one becomes free of the sin of killing a brahmana.

Texts 43 and 44

sri-narada uvaca

iti srutva dharma-rajas
tam aniya visesatah
vimane kama-ge sthapya
vaikuntham prakrteh param

presayam asa sahasa
evam te kathitam rajan
gopi-candanakam yasah

Sri Narada said: Hearing this, Yamaraja, who understands the glories of gopi-candana, took the sinner, placed him on an airplane that goes anywhere one wishes, and sent him to Vaikuntha, which is above the worlds of matter. O king, thus I have described to you the glories of gopi-candana.

Text 45

yah srnoti narottamah
sa yati paramam dhama
sri-krsnasya mahatmanah

One who hears this account of gopi-candana's glories becomes exalted. He goes to the supreme abode of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


Govinda Devi Dasi

If Srila Prabhupada walked into this temple today, devotees would be tripping over one another in an effort to serve him in every way. The basis of our philosophy is to serve the pure devotee and the greatest elephant offense to be avoided that can pull up our devotion creeper by the roots is to offend a pure devotee of the Lord.

Pure devotees are rare and when we get the opportunity to serve one we jump at it. It is for this reason that Tulasi devi moves all over the world, to give us the benediction of her seva and her association. The Sanskrit root word Tulam means similarity and the word Tulasi means one that does not permit similarity. One who is incomparable. Nobody can compare with her greatness. Tulasi has no equal. In Padma Purana it is said, "Wherever the aroma of the Tulasi is carried by the wind, it purifies the atmosphere and frees men and animals from baser tendencies." Just as the Ganga is described as pure, and has been proven so by scientific studies, so also scientific studies have supported scriptural statements about Tulasi.

For example, a study at Sri Venkatesvar University at Tirupati established that the Tulasi plant exhales ozone, the molecules of which contain 3 atoms of oxygen, in place of ordinary atmospheric oxygen which only has 2 atoms of oxygen in each molecule.

Interestingly the British during the occupation of India named Tulasi the mosquito plant. During the British period George Birdwall wrote an article in the Times which described that cultivation of Tulasi plants prevented malarial infections in Calcutta. The antimalarial properties, as well as other miraculous healing properties, were attributed to the Tulasi plant by the non-Hindu.

Ayurveda extols the glories of Tulasi for maintaining health simply by daily eating four or five offered Tulasi leaves from the Lord's prasadam. Sri Arybhishah, an ayurvedic text, describes that a certain gas emanates from the Tulasi plant and purifies the surrounding air and promotes health and it is for this reason that Tulasi is grown in every Vedic household. Tulasi is sattvik and possessing spiritually uplifting qualities. Thus we wear Tulasi beads and chant on Tulasi japa.

Yet, in spite of all the wonderful things we hear about Tulasi, she has become so familiar and easily obtainable that devotees tend to take her for granted. There is a saying in Sanskrit that even a thing of great importance and a person of great merit appears common and ordinary to persons overly familiar with them. Srila Prabhupada used to say "Familiarity breeds contempt and although contempt hasn't developed, certainly Tulasi's importance has at times been eclipsed by our lack of understanding. Perhaps Srila Prabhupada could see this, thus he described Tulasi’s glories so emphatically in S.B. in order to protect us and the future generations of devotees from offense to their ignorance and lack of spiritual vision.

So even from a mundane point of view Tulasi is here benedicting everyone with her presence and from a spiritual point of view we all know the importance Srila Prabhupada places on Tulasi devi. In Padma Purana it is said: "Of all plants Tulasi is most dear to me, of all months Karttika, of all places of pilgrimage Dvarka, of all days Ekadasi is most dear." Garuda Purana says: "There are five boats for those who are drowning in the ocean of worldly existence. Lord Visnu, Bhagavad-gita, Srimati Tulasi devi, the cow, and Ekadasi." Just see how importance that the Lord ranks Her as important as Himself!

A well-known Dr. Nalini Nath wrote an article in a magazine Chikita Prakash. One of his friends went to the residence of the chief engineer of Calcutta City, a Britisher. He was astonished to see Tulasi's growing everywhere at his bungalow. It was a shock to see an Englishman decorating his house and grounds with Tulasi instead of flowers and ornamentals. So he questioned the engineer on this. The Englishman said: "That you are surprised at seeing Tulasi plants at my bungalow surprises me even more. Though you are a Hindu, you are not aware of the great importance of Tulasi? Extensive literature has been published in my country on Tulasi. Is there no book dealing with Tulasi in India? The fact is no other plant contains as much electrical energy as Tulasi. All the air within a distance of 600 ft. from a Tulasi plant is influenced. As a result the microorganisms causing malaria, plague, T.B., and other illnesses are destroyed."

jaimine tulasi patram yastur jighrati vaisnavah
tasya dehantarastham hi sarva papam vinasyati

O Jaimini, anybody who smells the Tulasi leaf which has emanated from Lord Sri Visnu, whatever sins he has in his body are all destroyed. (Padma Purana, Kriya Yogasara 11.135)

yo yuktas tulasi patraih papi pranan vimuncati
visnor niketanam yati satyam etan mayoditam

If a sinful person leaving his body has a Tulasi leaf in his mouth, he goes to the abode of Lord Sri Visnu. I say this is truth. (Padma Purana, Brahma Khanda 22.7)

tulasi kastha malam tu kantha stham vahate tu yah
apy asoco'py anacaro bhaktya yati harer grham

Anybody who has a Tulasi wood necklace around his neck, even if he is unclean or performs many bad activities, he is taken with full respect to the abode of Lord Sri Hari. (Padma Purana, Brahma Khanda 22.10)

nivedye kesave malam tulasi kastha sambhavam
vahate yo naro bhaktya tasya vai nasti patakam

After offering a Tulasi necklace to Lord Sri Kesava, if someone wears it with devotion, for that person there are no more sins. (Padma Purana, Brahma Khanda 22.17)

yo'snati tulasi patram sarva papa haram subham
tat sarirantara sthayi papam nasyati tat ksanat
tulasi kastha sambhutam malam vahati yo narah
tad dehe patakam nasti satyam etat maya ucyate

Anybody who eats a Tulasi leaf, all of his sins are removed and he becomes meritorious. All sins within his body are removed at once. Anyone who wears a Tulasi wood necklace, no sins can reside in his body. This is exactly true, I say to you. (Padma Purana, Kriya Yogasara 24.26,27)

Tulasi (Tulsi) mantras and bhajans, link to e-book by bh. Patrick Roth

Varuna Pasa (aka Naga Pasa, Pula kanga or Visvajit)

Q: Could someone explain what is the "naga-pasa"?

("Banasura knew various arts of fighting, and by the grace of Lord Siva he knew how to arrest his enemy by the use of a naga-pasa, snake-noose, and thus he seized Aniruddha as he came out of the palace.")

A: (Ekanath Das)

I haven't found a technical description of "naga-pasa" or "varuna-pasa" anywhere. They have been variously translated as snake-ropes, snake-cords, serpent ropes, mystical noose, a mystical weapon, the weapon of Varuna, etc. It is not clear whether this is a rope weapon, like the lasso or bola, or whether it was in fact in the form of serpents that would wind around a victim. There is a picture in Canto Eight, showing Bali Maharaja wrapped in a snake, with reference to SB 8.21.26, a verse wherein "Varuna Pasa" is mentioned. Maybe one should try and be consistent with such pictures? I have not seen any explanations that mention that the Naga Pasa is similar to a rope used in catching snakes. The "Naga" is probably hinting at the "Nagas", themselves mystical half-man half-snake creatures, who might have originally fashioned this weapon.

Dravida Das: I think we should take our cue from the illustration in the Eighth Canto. These paintings were all vetted with Srila Prabhupada, so it's a good bet he took the Varuna Pasa to be a "rope" made of snakes.


Patanjali defines yama as five elements - ahimsa (nonviolence - no meat etc.), satya (truthfulness - SB 7.11.24 for sudra!; buddhist reg), asteya (non-stealing - ditto; buddhist reg), brahmacarya (continence - no illicit sex and no intoxication; both buddhist regs), aparigraha (non-possesiveness - buddhist reg). Niyamas - sauca (cleanliness), santosa (self-satisfaction)/or satya, tapa (austerity, not self-torture!), svadhyaya (study of scriptures or mastery of mantras), isvara-pranidhana (surrender to God)/indriya-nigraha (sense control)

Pranayama: (Garuda Purana 1.49.34-36) puraka (inhaling), kumbhaka (retention), recaka (exhaling); laghu (simplest) 12 sec, higher one 24 sec, the best 36 sec.


SB 11.15.19:

mayy akasatmani prane
manasa ghosam udvahan
tatropalabdha bhutanam
hamso vacah srnoty asau

That purified living entity who fixes his mind on the extraordinary sound vibrations occurring within Me as the personified sky and total life air is then able to perceive within the sky the speaking of all living entities.

Prahlada Maharaja - birth

Q: In SB 7.3.19 Hiranyakasipu is said to spend "divya-samah satam", hundred celestial years, in meditation near the Mandara mountain. Before leaving he begot Prahlada. Narada then saved Hiranyakasipu's pregnant wife Kayadhu from the demigods and took her to his asrama. When Prahlada was five years old Hiranyakasipu was already back and tried to kill him. Was she pregnant for all that time?

A: (Ekanath das) Prahlada did not take birth during the absence of Hiranyakasipu. SB 7.7.14: "My mother, being pregnant, desired the safety of her embryo and desired to give birth after her husband's arrival. Thus she stayed at Narada Muni's asrama, where she rendered service unto Narada Muni with great devotion."

Fathers, mothers, sons

Fathers - 3 kinds (Mahabharata Adi Parva 66):

1. one who conceives the child, 2. saves his life, 3. maintains him.

sa pitA jJAna-dAtA yo jJAnaM tat kRSNa-bhaktidam
sA bhaktiH paramA zuddhA kRSNa-dAsya-pradA ca yA

He is termed father who gives knowledge and that is the true knowledge by which devotion [to] the lotus feet of ZrI KRSNa is obtained and that is the pure and holy love by which one becomes a servant of ZrI KRSNa.

Mothers - 7 kinds: (Sternbach's antology Mahasubhasita sangraha 4764)

Atma (or adau) mAtA guroH patnI
brAhmaNI rAja-patnikA
dhenur dhAtrI tathA pRthvI
saptaita mAtaraH smRtaH

These mothers are the original mother, the wife of the teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a brahmana, the king's wife, the cow, the nurse and the earth.

Sons - 6 kinds: (Mahabharata Adi Parva 69) 1. received as a gift, 2. bought, 3. brought up, 4. adopted, 5. conceived with other women. Plus one's own.

sa putraH kRSNa-bhakto yo bhArate suyazas-karaH
punAti puMsAM zatakaM janma-mAtreNa lIlayA

He is the true son who is devoted to KRSNa and he acquires good fame in Bharata and sanctifies hundred generations no sooner he is born. (NArada PaJcarAtra 1.18,25, Parimal)

Fire sacrifice

Symbolizes different changes of the jiva's body (ahuti), how it enjoys its senses (priests) in different worlds (of fire etc.).

Garbha (belly) dance

Originally performed by virgins in month of Karttika to please Katyayani (Durga) to obtain a good husband.

Gayatri reference and initiation

Brahma Gayatri is found in: Rgveda 3.62.10, Sukla Yajurveda 3.35, 22.9 , 30.2, 36.3, Krsna Yajur Veda (Taittiriya Samhita),, Samaveda

SB 4.25.51 - right ear, Pitrhu (fruitive acts), left ear, Devahu (spiritual acts, Gayatri initiation)

Suhotra Prabhu: In Panjikas there are two possible positions of guru and disciple - side by side -> left ear, facing each other -> right ear.

Guru Nanak

- founder of Sikhism

- meeting with Lord Caitanya and devotees: Ishwar das, "Chaitanya Bhagavat, Adhyaya 61-64; others: Ganda Singh, "Guru Nanak at Puri with Sri Chaitanya and His followers", The Punjab Past and Present, Vol III., Parts 1 and 2, Patiala, Punjabi University Press, 1969, p.334-339; Trilochan Singh, "Guru Nanak: Founder of Sikhism", Delhi, Gurdwara Parbhandhak Comittee, 1969, p.232-242; Journal of Sikh Studies, Vol III., No. 2., Amritsar, Guru Nanak Dev University, August, 1976, p. 158-172.


"Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods, presented the art of attaining the eight perfectional stages of material opulence." (KB 50)

SB 10.50.55: "The treasurer of the demigods, Kuvera, gave his eight mystic treasures, and the rulers of various planets each presented their own opulences.

Purport: Srila Sridhara Svami comments as follows on this verse: "The master of the treasury is Kuvera, and the eight treasures are his nidhis. These are described as follows:

padmas caiva mahapadmo
matsya-kurmau tathaudakah
nilo mukundah sankhas ca
nidhayo 'stau prakirtitah

The eight mystic treasures are called Padma, Mahapadma, Matsya, Kurma, Audaka, Nila, Mukunda and Sankha.'"

Ekanath Das: I haven't seen them explained. They can be taken as personal names. Most of these words describe things that have to do with the ocean or with water: padma means lotus, mahapadma the larger variety thereof; matsya is a fish; kurma is a tortoise; audaka is a well or a pond, or refers to a very large number; nila may be a saphire; mukunda is simply the name of one of these mysterious treasures (kettle drum?); sankha is a conchshell.

These nidhis became part of Caitanya-lila in the form of nine sannyasi associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. CB Adi 9.161, 170p.

Monier-Williams dictionary: a store, hoard , treasure (Rig Veda) (in later language esp. the divine treasures belonging to Kubera, nine of which are enumerated, viz. Padma, Mahapadma, Sankha, Makara, Kacchapa, Mukunda, Nanda, Nila and Kharva, they are also personified as attendants either of Kubera or of Lakshmi.

Nidhis: The eight treasures or nidhis of Kuvera of whom is said that he also has only eight teeth.

Monier-Williams dictionary: Padma (purity, lotus), Mahapadma (great lotus, refuge), Makara (Matsya, fish, related to the crest-jewel or shark-shaped earrings of Krishna), Kacchapa (also Kurma, support or tortoise), Mukunda (giver of liberation), Nanda (happiness, or a flute), Nila (a residence) and Karva (love, or a mouse). They are also personified with the eight attendants of Kuvera or Laxmi.


Treasure; that which is considered as precious. Nine Nidhis in the safe custody of Kubera (q.v.) are Mahapadma (Divine lotus), Padma (Lotus), Shankha (Conch-shell), Makara (Crocodile), Kachhapa (Tortoise), Mukund (Quick silver), Kund (jasmine), Neelam (Blue sapphire), and Kharva (a Dwarf). Each of these has a guardian spirit and is worshiped by the Tantriks.

NIDHI "A treasure." Nine treasures belonging to the god Kuvera. Each of them is personified or has a guardian spirit, which is an object of worship among the Tantrikas. The nature of these Nidhis is not clearly understood. See a note by Wilson on verse 534 of the Megha-duta, collected works, iv. 372. Their names are Kachchhapa, Mukunda, Nanda (or Kunda), Kharba, Makara, Nila, Sankha, Padma, and Maha-padma. The Nidhis are called also Nidhana, Nikara, and Sevadhi.

The eight Nidhis are also called by eight different names with characteristics peculiar to each. The Nidhi called Padma is said to be presided over by Lakshmi and people attaining this Nidhi secure prowess and skill in warfare and also command the wealth of all mortals. The Nidhi going by the name Mahapadma secures the command over all precious gems in the universe. It is meant for one having yogic tendencies in him. The Nidhi named Makara shapes the character of the individual and secures for him success in military operations and royal favour. The Nidhi called Kachapa brings success in all business undertakings and makes the individual the beloved of one and all. While the Nidhi Mukunda develops fine aesthetic instincts in the individual, and the one called Nanda secures for him good harvest and immunity from wants. The Nidhi called Nila is said to lead to all sorts of enjoyments and the one named Sanka ensures self-realization and eternal bliss. The two Nidhis Sanka and Padma confer mundane enjoyments and heavenly bliss on individuals. The wealth secured by Padma Nidhi makes worldly enjoyments possible and the yogic powers conferred by Sanka Nidhi result in bliss arising from self-realization. As these two Nidhis control the other Nidhis, sculptural representations of only these two Nidhis are placed at the sides of temple entrances in southern India.

Om (AUM)

(TLC study guide:) Impersonal sound representation of Krsna. Hari Nama is the personal sound representation. Om establishes the Lord's absoluteness, in that it is all-inclusive. Krishna says in Gita, "I am OM", but He also says that one must chant OM thinking of Him in order to attain Him personally. Because Om is identified with the Supreme Brahman, Sankaracarya had to undermine it by separating the qualities ascribed to Om, the Mahavakya. Otherwise the logical conclusion that Om and its qualities are ultimately personal would be too obvious. So he proposed other vakyas to be on the same footing as Om. These other vakyas actually stipulate subordinate qualities of Om (tattvamasi, satyam jnanam anantam brahma). (A - Krsna, U - Srimati Radharani, M - jivas).

Panca Sakhas

(Steven Rosen: "Panca-tattva", 1.39, p. 24:) "A group of Oriyan Mahaprabhu's followers: Acyutananda Mohanty (, Ananta Dasa ( - "Sisu Ananta"), Balarama Dasa (, Jagannatha Dasa, Yasovanta/Yasobanta Dasa ( They advocated a form of devotion centered on 'Lord Jagannatha's activities in the Void (sunyata)', a doctrine that orthodox Vaisnavas view with disdain."

Satya-narayana (katha/puja)

In 690110IN.LA Srila Prabhupada speaks about Satya-narayana katha "as a material ceremony for mat. profit".

Ekanath das:

The lecture which you indicated has only this reference to Satyanarayana-puja. There is another room conversation, 730711r2.lon, where Satya-narayana-katha is mentioned, but there are no further details. It appears that it is some popular type of worship in India, sometimes known as 'puja', sometimes as 'katha'. There is a section in the Revata Khanda of the Skanda Purana known as satya-narayana-katha, chapter three and four. It is a naration which appears in a dialogue between a merchant and a sadhu. They speak about moksa. It is also said that this passage is not found in all editions of the book and that it may be found in some editions of the Bhavisya Purana. This popular story is also sometimes known as Satya-narayana-vrata-katha, which indicates that one takes some sort of vow, at least for the duration of that puja. Satya-narayana is one of the murtis of Narayana. The puja is also described in detail in the Sabda-kalpa-druma Sanskrit-Sanskrit dictionary, along with the entire entry from the Skanda Purana. I didn't have the nerve to read it all. Seems like Srila Prabhupada knew that in India many people would do this puja, just like they do so many other pujas, with the idea to get some material benefits.


Srila Prabhupada once made a comment on Bhakti Caru Swami when a devotee asked about his position since he joined the movement relatively later. Srila Prabhupada said, 'He was born more qualified.' From this statement, we can understand that those who take a good birth are born with superior qualities. Those who are born in Vaisnava families, and who accept the opportunity of such a birth (and are not destroyed by others with demoniac qualities) are certainly to be respected. We consider seniority primarily according to one's wisdom and spiritual qualities. Wherever you see such a manifestation, you should understand that there is seniority.

About seniority & remembrance of Krishna (by Dharmapada das: "The fallacy of hotch-potch astrology")

So who was Parashara in the first place? There is a nice narration in the Hari Bhakti Sudhodaya (a section of the Naradiya Purana) which illustrates how exalted Parashara was. Apparently, Markandeya came upon a meeting of sages in a forest clearing somewhere. They were sitting in a circle and among them was Parashara, who was just a boy of seven at the time. He was seated on the lap of Vasistha Muni, who was the family priest of Shree Ramachandra, a plenary Vishnu avatara.

To be seated on the lap of Vasistha is in itself a great honor. But to get on with the story, Markandeya fell at the feet of Vasistha and offered his respects. Parashara, in turn, bowed down to Markandeya. Markandeya disapproved of this and instructed the boy that elders should receive respect and not humble themselves to those of lesser age. Parashara showed surprise and stated that, since he was only seven, he was not an elder. Markandeya, however, cited the sages as defining age as time which is spent in remembrance of Vishnu. Markandeya went on to say that Parashara's devotion was unalloyed and that the boy was in constant contact with the Supersoul.

Therefore, Markandeya said that, although only a boy, all of Parashara's seven years counted whereas if the time that all others present there had remembered Vishnu were added together it would not exceed even five years. That is why Markandeya considered Parashara to be the eldest person in the assembly.

Seven limbs of a kingdom

Manu 9.294: The king and his minister, his capital, his realm, his treasury, his army, and his ally are the seven constituent parts (of a kingdom); (hence) a kingdom is said to have seven limbs (anga).

or: king, ministers, treasury, army, allies, brahmanas & sacrifices, needs of the subjects.


su - auspiciousness; asti, or astu - let there be; ka - noun-generating word

- general utterance for invoking auspiciousness

- symbol of sun god (more in MW)

Swastika - book by Thomas Wilson
Svastika v keltské kultuře (photos)


Suhotra Prabhu: 2 kinds - material (BG 7.20) - surrender to demigods, spiritual (BG 12.2) - surrender to Krsna

Vaikuntha - eternal or not?

Q: There are stories in various Puranas describing how persons went to Vaikuntha and later returned to this material world. Sometimes their phala srutis say that by listening to a particular story one can remain in Vaikuntha for a specific time. How is that possible if Vaikuntha is an eternal abode?

A: (Madhavananda P. GGS, Gopal Jiu Publications): It is stated in many places that there is no question of coming back from the spiritual world. However, one may return to this material world from another realm, known as "prapancika" Vaikuntha, or the Vaikuntha planet within this universe. This place is described by Srila Prabhupada in his translation and purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 8.5.5:

TRANSLATION: "Just to please the goddess of fortune, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vaikuntha, at her request, created another Vaikuntha planet, which is worshiped by everyone."
"Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura remarks here that this Vaikuntha planet, like Srimad Bhagavatam, appears and is said to be born or created, but both Srimad Bhagavatam and Vaikuntha eternally exist beyond the material universes, which are enveloped by eight kinds of coverings. As described in the Second Canto, Lord Brahma saw Vaikuntha before the creation of the universe. Viraraghava Acarya mentions that this Vaikuntha is within the universe. It is situated above the mountain known as Lokaloka. This planet is worshiped by everyone."

From this Vaikuntha planet within this material universe, it is clear that one may fall. The story in Bindu 87 makes it clear that the Vishnuloka being referred to is not the eternal realm of Vaikuntha. The Narada Purana states that not only did Sumali return to the material world, but it also states that Sumali's brother Yajnamali, who had lived a pious life on Earth, left that Vishnuloka and attained the supreme eternal abode. The phrase "param moksam" used is significant. Although the devotee Yajnamali was associating with Vishnu in this Vaikuntha planet, when he left there he achieved "param moksa", the highest liberation.

The point is emphasized again later in the same story. After Sumali left that Vaikuntha planet and returned to this world, he became devoted to Krishna and was always chanting His names. Text 56 and 57 describe that at the end of that next life, Sumali took bath in the Ganga, had darsan of Lord Visvesvara, and then left his body. Contrasting with his earlier promotion to the prapancika Vaikuntha, it describes that this time Sumali achieved, param-sthanam, "the topmost abode", which is yoginam-api-durlabham, "very rarely achieved even by the greatest yogis".

There are many similar stories in various Puranas describing how persons went to this prapancika Vaikuntha. These souls subsequently returned to this material world, perfected themselves, and then the next time they left their body they attained the topmost abode of the Lord, the Vaikuntha in the spiritual sky.


Satyaraja das: "Om Shalom", p. 80:

"vi" = Absolute Truth, "ragya" -> raga - passion, love. Right detachment leads to the love of Godhead.

Passion: from Latin "patior" (pleasure that passes); "passio" = to suffer. Passion leads to suffering.

Vasana (karma-janya)

Impressions left on the mind by all kinds of deeds; readable by some persons.


(A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, John Dawson, publ. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., London 1968, page 342:)

Presiding deity of the site. Acc to Matsya P. Lord Siva assumed a ferocious form to kill the demon Andhaka. Drops of perspiration fell from Siva's forehead and therefrom a fierce ghost came out. He was given a boon by Siva. Thereafter he fell down covering the entire earth. Then he came to be worshiped. Vastospati is the protector of the houses. (Rg Veda 7.54.1)

Vedic curiosities

- big lizards (dinos?): SB 8.10.10-12
- elephants of directions (SB 5.20.39, 7.8.32, 8.8.5)
- four-tusked elephants: Ramayana 5.4.27, 5.9.5, 5.27.12,33, Srimad Bhagavatam 8.8.5 (Airavata), 10.59.37 (Airavata's descendants) see quotes and examples of 10 000+ years ago extinct elephant species - Gomphotherium, Gomphotheres, Mastodon, Palaeomastodon, Stegotetrabelodon)
- tigers with tusks (vyAghrAH daMSTriNaH, Ramayana 2.25.19), tiger and lion with tusks growing (Ramayana 6.40.19) - sabertooth?
- dogs like tigers, with tusks (Ramayana 2.70.23)
- monkeys with four tusks like lions (Ramayana 6.27.40)
- syena mega eagles (SB 5.23.3)
- timingila mega whales (SB 8.7.18, 8.10.10-12, 10.1.5-7)
- 'zombies' (SB 8.10.40)
- flying mountains (SB 2.7.1, 6.12.26, 8.11.34)

Visnu's crown

Q: What is the significance of the gopuram-like thing one is blessed with at a Vishnu temple?

A: This gopuram-like thing is Lord's crown and on its top are His sandals. Its touch is purifying, like touch of any tadiya (item related to the Lord).

M Raghavan: The gopuram-like-thing is actually a crown on top of which is the Lord - or in some cases the acarya's - padukas, or sandals.

The crown itself is called sathakopa, or satari, as it is said to remove the "satam", our first breath on this earth that affords the appropriate amount of ignorance based on the karmas that we have built up in previous lives. But, more importantly, this is also the other name of Nammalvar, or Our Alwar, one of 12 mystics of South India whose mystical outpourings in Tamil form the basis for Vaishnava devotional experience, particularly that found in the Ramanuja, or Sri lineage.

The Lord's padukas represent the Supreme Being's Unconditional Grace being there for all souls, just as the crown is touched upon the head of all who enter the temple without condition. Just as the crown is placed on us whether or not we know its inner meaning is likened to how His Grace is there with us whether we believe in Him or not. But, the joy is found when we become aware of Him and become non-resistant to His Love, just as the true joy of receiving the satari is experienced when we understand its meaning and accept it with reverence.

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