What is the reason to put tilakam? And why devotees in ISKCON put it so long till the nose? I am working in office so how can I apply it?
Tilak is a traditional mark to identify devotees of Krishna. It is made with a sacred clay from a holy place in India. It is worn to remind the wearer and everyone else that, the body is a temple and within the body resides the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, Krishna.
The ‘U’ represents the Lotus feet of lord Krishna. The mark below represents Tulasi leaf. This is the beautiful ancient Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition and an ornament of a devotee. If one cannot put a tilak due to circumstances one can use water and chant the mantra. This should do.
Why can we not eat grains on Ekadashi? Krishna never mentioned this in Bhagavad Gita.
Ekadashi is a special day, which appears twice a month – once on the waxing moon and the next on the waning moon. And according to the Puranas, fasting from grains and beans is mandatory on this day. It is cleansing, both materially and spiritually. Fasting from grains and beans on Ekadashi has pragmatic explanations as well. According to Ayurveda, the ancient Vedic science of medicine, and according to complex astrological calculations, this is an auspicious time for such fasting.
Lord Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita that someone offers a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water with love and devotion, He accepts them. All these items can be offered on Ekadashi days. He has not specifically mentioned about what food items can be consumed on Ekadashi day, since He did not have sufficient time to give all details at that time. When Lord Krishna came as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu five hundred years ago He asked His mother for one boon out of the many things He could have asked her and that was to follow the Ekadashi brata (the vow of Ekadashi).
Extra chanting of God’s names is recommended on this day. One should use this time for spiritual pursuits. Fasting is good for the body, and, when properly directed, it is good for the soul. It is recommended in all of the world’s religions. And so the particular day, in one sense, is not as important as the principle although, in another sense, the days that are recommended are important as well. They have special meaning. One of our predecessor teachers, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, has said that if one even accidentally follows Ekadashi, he makes great spiritual advancement.
If Krishna is self-sufficient then why did He create us? Is it to serve Him?
Yes, Krishna is self-sufficient, however we are not self-sufficient. He is perfect, however we are not. He is self-satisfied, however we are not. He is completely independent, however we depend on Him. It was our desire to be separate from the Lord, therefore He has created this material world. He never created us. Both the Supreme Lord and the living entities eternally exist. Only thing is that we forget, however He never forgets us. He wants us to come back to Him as quickly as possible. He doesn’t like His children to be suffering in this material world in forgetfulness of Him.
Just like father feels happy when the child offers him a flower or a small gift on his birthday. Similarly, Supreme Lord feels happy, when someone makes a small gesture of service toward Him. We have not realized how much pleasure is there in serving Him. We are trying to serve family, nation, community and many others, however we are not satisfied at all by serving them. Because all of them are like leaves of the tree. A tree can not be nourished by pouring water on the different branches, fruits or leaves of the tree. However, when someone waters at the root of the tree, all the leaves, branches and fruits are properly nourished. Supreme Lord Krishna is the root cause of everything. Many devotees in the past have served Lord Krishna and achieved perfection of their lives. Therefore, it is better and safer to serve Krishna than to serve material agents and prolong our existence in this material world.
It is mentioned in a book by ISKCON that red hibiscus flower is not offered to Krishna. When He has created this beautiful flower then why not offer it to Him?
Krishna is Bhava Grahi Janardhana. He has even accepted a banana peel from Vidura’s wife. Without the basic principle of bhakti or devotion, nothing can induce the Lord to agree to accept anything from anyone. Make sure you offer everything to the Lord with love and devotion. Usually these general rules are mentioned in the scriptures to guide us. We hope this is all right with you.
Can we eat oats on Ekadashi? Is it a grain?
Yes oats is grain. We cannot eat grains on Ekadasi. Follow the traditional Ekadasi diet.
Previous Acharyas have already written many commentaries on Bhagavad Gita. Then why did Srila Prabhupada write another commentary?
The Bhaktivedanta purports as Srila Prabhupada‘s commentary popularly called are based on the commentaries of the previous acaryas.
Srila Prabhupada would work from a Bengali translation of the Bhagavatam, with commentaries by twelve acaryas, such as Vishvanatha Cakravarti, Jiva Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Sridhara Svami, Bir Raghava Gosvami, Madhvacarya, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The Bhagavad-gita is dedicated to and follows the commentary of Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana; the Caitanya-caritamrita purports are summarized from those written by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Even if we consider that Prabhupada’s purports are partly translations of previous commentaries, this does not diminish our gratitude for his preaching and giving us access to the thoughts and devotion of the disciplic succession. Once, the devotees were commenting on how quickly Prabhupada was writing. Prabhupada said “O, I can finish very quickly, but I have to present it for your understanding. It requires deep thought, very carefully to present”. (Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita)
And neither were his purports just static translations of other commentaries, but he struggled to apply the words of the previous acaryas to the present-day mentality of the westerners. We can imagine how difficult this must have been trying to present the principles of Vedic government, or the position of women in Vedic culture, or even the necessity to avoid sinful life to persons who were addicted to sense gratification and who had no idea what was wrong with it. He saturated his purports with Krishna, and built the groundwork to supply his readers with the cultural language to enable them to enter into the pages of the Bhagavatam.
Arjuna was also a pure devotee, but he never chanted neither did Krishna asked him to do so. So why do you stress so much on the same?
Chanting the name of Krishna means to constantly remember Him. Although it may appear that Arjuna was not chanting like we chant on the beads, he was calling Him in great eagerness by different names like ‘O Yadava, O Keshava, O Madhava’. This is certainly a sign of great advancement. He was put in such an awkward situation by the will of Krishna that he had no other choice but to call out in great desperation.
The dealings between Arjuna and Krishna were under Krishna’s internal energy, however we are affected by Krishna’s external energy. In the beginning we do not have taste for the Holy Name, therefore we are asked to chant in a prescribed way. Therefore we stress on chanting so that we come to higher level, wherein we are able to chant in great eagerness.
When we chant the Mahamantra we are taking the names of Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. Then why are we disturbed by Mayadevi?
The transcendental sound vibration ‘Hare Krishna’ is non-different than Krishna Himself. When we are chanting, Krishna is personally present on the tongue, however because we do not have taste for the Holy Name, we are not able to relish it. Also because of inability to focus on the Holy Name it wanders from one sense object to another. It is said that the Holy Name Krishna is like the sun and forgetfulness of Krishna is like darkness. As soon as we remember Krishna we are in bright sunlight and as soon as we forget Krishna, we are in darkness. Being disturbed by Mayadevi means we are simply forgetting Krishna. Therefore it is said that ‘Always remember Krishna’ and ‘Never forget Krishna’. Therefore in the conditioned state it is natural to forget Krishna and disturbed by Mayadevi, however when one is liberated by constantly chanting Hare Krishna, one shall be able to experience transcendental happiness at every step.
I am new in ISKCON. I want to know about deity left to Lord Krishna (Gaur Nimai), so that I can worship Them sincerely.
It is very nice to hear from you that you are interested to know about Them. I would to like to make few corrections.
Deities right to Krishna are Sri Sri Gaur Nitai and not Gaur Nimai. Gaur means Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Nimai is another name for Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Also usually They are kept to the right to Krishna and not to left.
Gaura Nitai are merciful incarnations for the age of Kali. They appeared almost 500 years before in the district of Nadia, in West Bengal. They may appear similar. Amongst Them, toward our left is Lord Nityananda, who is none other than Sri Balaramji. And on the right is Lord Chaitanya, who is none other than Lord Krishna. Please read ‘Teachings of Lord Chaitanya’ to know more about Them.
Since They are very merciful, Their worship is also very simple and purifying. Best way of worshiping Them is to chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra in a prescribed manner and participate in the congregational chanting with all the devotees.
Chanting is recommended in every religion. Why do devotees in ISKCON hide their beads while chanting?
Chanting beads are very sacred and their sanctity should be preserved. While chanting, beads should not be touching ground or our feet. If they are kept open, they are likely to become more dirty. To avoid these circumstances we use bead bag.