Please receive my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
“Rupa Gosvami has stated that five kinds of devotional activities-namely,
– residing in Mathura,
– worshiping the Deity of the Lord,
– reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam,
– serving a devotee, and
– chanting the Hare Krishna mantra-
are so potent that a small attachment for any one of these five aspects can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte.”
“… If someone becomes attached to the Śrī Mūrti, or Deity of Kṛṣṇa, by worshiping at home, then he will forget his relationships of so-called friendship, love, and society. Thus, it is the duty of every householder to install Deities of the Lord at home and to begin the process of worshiping along with all of his family members. This will save everyone from unwanted activities such as going to clubs, cinemas, dancing parties, smoking, drinking, etc. All such nonsense will be forgotten if one stresses the worship of the Deities at home.”
(Srila Prabhupada in Nectar of Devotion.)
So, Deity worship is exceptionally important, and I am very happy that you’ve always shown attraction to it.
I saw the picture of your altar and everything looks very nice, clean, well-organized, and devotional. Very good!
I noticed two details that maybe you can correct.
The first one is that every altar must have its main Deity. Your altar has many divine personalities, but there is no main Srimurti. So, if possible, you should have a picture of Gaura Nitai bigger than the others.
The other detail I noticed prompted me to ask you a question: Who do you offer your bhoga, arati, etc. to? Since you are initiated, you should make offerings to your spiritual master, and I didn’t see his picture.
If possible, when there are not devotees around, the altar should be behind a curtain. In the morning you open it, pay obeisances reciting Guru Pranama Mantra giving your left side to the Deities. Then, you clean the altar very nicely, (cleanliness is the main quality of a brahmana) and after that, you do your arati.
There are many nice videos on the Internet on how to perform arati. Some of them contain some differences from our standards, but for the time being, we can overlook them and gradually correct them.
How to perform Arati:
The arati depends on what you can do. If you can’t do all of that, tell me what you can do and I’ll tell you how to do it differently. If the Deities are not installed, the minimum standard is determined by the devotee himself with a sankalpa, or vote. You promise to do that and so you are not obliged to do more.
You could also go to the temple, watch how they do it, write it down, and then do the same. Send me your notes so I can correct some of the most common mistakes I observed, like for instance, offering bhoga standing up, while it should be done sitting down.
Offering bhoga so that it becomes prasadam:
Sitting down and ringing a bell, you first perform acamana, and then you recite the following mantras:
1. Your Guru Pranama-mantra,
2. Srila Prabhupada Pranama Mantra,
3. namo maha-vadanyaya
namne gaura-tvishe namah
4. namo brahmanya-devaya
govindaya namo namah
Each one of these mantras should be repeated three times before continuing to the next one.
There are so many things, but you can keep it simple
Maybe next time I come to the Dominican Republic I can show you how to do it.
Don’t hesitate to send me specific questions on Deity worship.
Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)
This is a section of the book “A Sidelong Glance”.
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