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RESERVATIONS Uddhava Gita 
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  1. Krishna's Instructions on the Process of Deity Worship
  2. Jnana-yoga

27. Krishna's Instructions on the Process of Deity Worship

Uddhava said: Dear Lord, master of the devotees, please explain to me the prescribed method of worshiping you in your Deity form. What are the qualifications of those devotees who worship the Deity, on what basis is such worship established, and what is the specific method of worship? [27.1]

All the great sages repeatedly declare that such worship brings the greatest benefit possible in human life. This is the opinion of Narada Muni, the great Vyasadeva and my own spiritual master, Brihaspati. [27.2]

Most magnanimous Lord, the instructions on this process of Deity worship first emanated from your lotus mouth. Then they were spoken by the great Brahma to his sons, headed by Bhrigu, and by Shiva to his wife, Parvati. This process is accepted by and appropriate for all the occupational and spiritual orders of society. Therefore I consider worship of you in your Deity form to be the most beneficial of all spiritual practices, even for women and sudras. [27.3-4]

Lotus-eyed one, Supreme Lord of all lords of the universe, please explain to your devoted servant this means of liberation from the bondage of work. [27.5]

The Lord said: Dear Uddhava, there is no end to the innumerable Vedic prescriptions for executing Deity worship; so I shall explain this topic to you briefly, one step at a time. [27.6]

One should carefully worship me by selecting one of the three methods by which I receive sacrifice: Vedic, tantric or mixed. [27.7]

Now please listen faithfully as I explain exactly how a person who has achieved twice-born status through the relevant Vedic prescriptions should worship me with devotion. [27.8]

A twice-born person should worship me, his worshipable Lord, without duplicity, offering appropriate paraphernalia in loving devotion to my Deity form or to a form of me appearing on the ground, in fire, in the sun, in water or within the worshiper's own heart. [27.9]

One should first purify his body by cleansing his teeth and bathing. Then one should perform a second cleansing by smearing the body with earth and chanting both Vedic and tantric mantras. [27.10]

Fixing the mind on me, one should worship me by his various prescribed duties, such as chanting the Gayatri mantra at the three junctures of the day. Such performances are enjoined by the Vedas and purify the worshiper of reactions to fruitive activities. [27.11]

The Deity form of the Lord is said to appear in eight varieties — stone, wood, metal, earth, paint, sand, the mind or jewels. [27.12]

The Deity form of the Lord, who is the shelter of all living entities, can be established in two ways: temporarily or permanently. But a permanent Deity, having been called, can never be sent away, dear Uddhava. [27.13]

The Deity that is temporarily established can optionally be called forth and sent away, but these two rituals should always be performed when the Deity is traced on the ground. Bathing should be done with water except if the Deity is made of clay, paint or wood, in which cases a thorough cleansing without water is enjoined. [27.14]

One should worship me in my Deity forms by offering the most excellent paraphernalia. But a devotee completely freed from material desire may worship me with whatever he is able to obtain, and may even worship me within his heart with mental paraphernalia. [27.15]

In worshiping the temple Deity, dear Uddhava, bathing and decoration are the most pleasing offerings. For the Deity traced on sacred ground, the process of tattva-vinyasa is most dear. Oblations of sesame and barley soaked in ghee are the preferred offering to the sacrificial fire, whereas worship consisting of upasthana and arghya is preferred for the sun. One should worship me in the form of water by offering water itself. Actually, whatever is offered to me with faith by my devotee — even if only a little water — is most dear to me. [27.16-17]

Even very opulent presentations do not satisfy me if they are offered by nondevotees. But I am pleased by any insignificant offering made by my loving devotees, and I am certainly most pleased when nice presentations of fragrant oil, incense, flowers and palatable foods are offered with love. [27.18]

After cleansing himself and collecting all the paraphernalia, the worshiper should arrange his own seat with blades of kusa grass whose tips point eastward. He should then sit facing either east or north, or else, if the Deity is fixed in one place, he should sit directly facing the Deity. [27.19]

The devotee should sanctify the various parts of his body by touching them and chanting mantras. He should do the same for my Deity forms and then with his hands he should clean the Deity of old flowers and the remnants of previous offerings. He should properly prepare the sacred pot and the vessel containing water for sprinkling. [27.20]

Then, with the water of that proksaniya vessel he should sprinkle the area where the Deity is being worshiped, the offerings that are going to be presented, and his own body. Next he should decorate with various auspicious substances three vessels filled with water. [27.21]

The worshiper should then purify those three vessels. He should sanctify the vessel holding water for washing the Lord's feet by chanting hrdayaya namah, the vessel containing water for arghya by chanting sirase svaha, and the vessel containing water for washing the Lord's mouth by chanting sikhayai vasat. Also, the Gayatri mantra should be chanted for all three vessels. [27.22]

The worshiper should meditate on my subtle form — which is situated within the worshiper's own body, now purified by air and fire — as the source of all living entities. This form of the Lord is experienced by self-realized sages in the last part of the vibration of the sacred syllable om. [27.23]

The devotee conceives of the Supersoul, whose presence surcharges the devotee's body, in the form corresponding to his realization. Thus the devotee worships the Lord to his full capacity and becomes fully absorbed in him. By touching the various limbs of the Deity and chanting appropriate mantras, the devotee should invite the Supersoul to join the Deity's form, and then the devotee should worship me. [27.24]

The worshiper should first imagine my seat as decorated with the personified deities of religion, knowledge, renunciation and opulence and with my nine spiritual energies. He should think of the Lord's sitting place as an eight-petaled lotus, effulgent on account of the saffron filaments within its whorl. Then, following the regulations of both the Vedas and the tantras, he should offer me water for washing the feet, water for washing the mouth, arghya and other items of worship. By this process he achieves both material enjoyment and liberation. [27.25-26]

One should worship, in order, the Lord's Sudarsana disc, his Pancajanya conchshell, his club, sword, bow, arrows and plow, his musala weapon, his Kaustubha gem, his flower garland and the Srivatsa curl of hair on his chest. [27.27]

One should worship the Lord's associates Nanda and Sunanda, Garuda, Pracanda and Canda, Mahabala and Bala, and Kumuda and Kumudeksana. [27.28]

With offerings such as proksana one should worship Durga, Vinayaka, Vyasa, Visvaksena, the spiritual masters and the various gods. All these personalities should be in their proper places facing the Deity of the Lord. [27.29]

The worshiper should bathe the Deity every day, as opulently as his assets permit, using waters scented with sandalwood, usira root, camphor, kunkuma and aguru. He should also chant various Vedic hymns, such as the anuvaka known as Svarna-gharma, the Mahapurusa-vidya, the Purusa- sukta and various songs of the Sama Veda, such as the Rajana and the Rohinya. [27.30-31]

My devotee should then lovingly decorate me with clothing, a Brahmin thread, various ornaments, marks of tilaka and garlands, and he should anoint my body with fragrant oils, all in the prescribed manner. [27.32]

The worshiper should faithfully present me with water for washing my feet and mouth, fragrant oils, flowers and unbroken grains, along with incense, lamps and other offerings. [27.33]

Within his means, the devotee should arrange to offer me sugar candy, sweet rice, ghee, saskuli [rice-flour cakes], apupa [various sweet cakes], modaka [steamed rice-flour dumplings filled with sweet coconut and sugar], samyava [wheat cakes made with ghee and milk and covered with sugar and spices], yogurt, vegetable soups and other palatable foods. [27.34]

On special occasions, and daily if possible, the Deity should be massaged with ointment, shown a mirror, offered a eucalyptus stick for brushing his teeth, bathed with the five kinds of nectar, offered all kinds of opulent foods, and entertained with singing and dancing. [27.35]

In an arena constructed according to scriptural injunctions, the devotee should perform a fire sacrifice, utilizing the sacred belt, the sacrificial pit and the altar mound. When igniting the sacrificial fire, the devotee should bring it to a blaze with wood piled up by his own hands. [27.36]

After spreading kusa grass on the ground and sprinkling it with water, one should perform the anvadhana ritual according to the prescribed rules. Then one should arrange the items to be offered as oblations and should sanctify them with water from the sprinkling vessel. The worshiper should next meditate on me within the fire. [27.37]

The intelligent devotee should meditate on that form of the Lord whose color is like molten gold, whose four arms are resplendent with the conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower, and who is always peaceful and dressed in a garment colored like the filaments within a lotus flower. His helmet, bracelets, belt and fine arm ornaments shine brilliantly. The symbol of Srivatsa is on his chest, along with the glowing Kaustubha gem and a garland of forest flowers. The devotee should then worship that Lord by taking pieces of firewood soaked in the sacrificial ghee and throwing them into the fire. He should perform the ritual of aghara, presenting into the fire the various items of oblation drenched in ghee. He should then offer to sixteen gods, beginning with Yamaraja, the oblation called svisti-krt, reciting the basic mantras of each deity and the sixteen-line Purusa-sukta hymn. Pouring one oblation after each line of the Purusa-sukta, he should utter the particular mantra naming each deity. [27.38-41]

Having thus worshiped the Lord in the sacrificial fire, the devotee should offer his obeisances to the Lord's personal associates by bowing down and should then present offerings to them. He should then chant quietly the mula-mantra of the Deity of the Lord, remembering the Absolute Truth as the Supreme Personality, Narayana. [27.42]

Once again he should offer the Deity water for washing his mouth, and he should give the remnants of the Lord's food to Visvaksena. Then he should present the Deity with fragrant perfume for the mouth and prepared betel nut. [27.43]

Singing along with others, chanting loudly and dancing, acting out my transcendental pastimes, and hearing and telling stories about me, the devotee should for some time absorb himself in such festivity. [27.44]

The devotee should offer homage to the Lord with all kinds of hymns and prayers, both from the Puranas and from other ancient scriptures, and also from ordinary traditions. Praying, "Lord, please be merciful to me! "he should fall down flat like a rod to offer his obeisances. [27.45]

Placing his head at the feet of the Deity, he should then stand with folded hands before the Lord and pray, "Lord, please protect me, who am surrendered unto you. I am most fearful of this ocean of material existence, standing as I am in the mouth of death." [27.46]

Praying in this way, the devotee should respectfully place on his head the remnants I offer to him. And if the particular Deity is meant to be sent away at the end of the worship, then this should be performed, the devotee once again placing the light of the Deity's presence inside the light of the lotus within his own heart. [27.47]

Whenever one develops faith in me — in my form as the Deity or in other bona fide manifestations — one should worship me in that form. I certainly exist both within all created beings and also separately in my original form, since I am the Supreme Soul of all. [27.48]

By worshiping me through the various methods prescribed in the Vedas and tantras, one will gain from me his desired perfection in both this life and the next. [27.49]

The devotee should more fully establish my Deity by solidly constructing a temple, along with beautiful gardens. These gardens should be set aside to provide flowers for the regular daily worship, special Deity processions and holiday observances. [27.50]

One who offers the Deity gifts of land, markets, cities and villages so that the regular daily worship and special festivals of the Deity may go on continually will achieve opulence equal to my own. [27.51]

By installing the Deity of the Lord one becomes king of the entire earth, by building a temple for the Lord one becomes ruler of the three worlds, by worshiping and serving the Deity one goes to the planet of Brahma, and by performing all three of these activities one achieves a transcendental form like my own. [27.52]

But one who simply engages in devotional service with no consideration of fruitive results attains me. Thus whoever worships me according to the process I have described will ultimately attain pure devotional service unto me. [27.53]

Anyone who steals the property of the gods or the Brahmins, whether originally given to them by himself or someone else, must live as a worm in stool for one hundred million years. [27.54]

Not only the performer of the theft but also anyone who assists him, instigates the crime, or simply approves of it must also share the reaction in the next life. According to their degree of participation, they each must suffer a proportionate consequence. [27.55]

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28. Jnana-yoga

The Lord said: One should neither praise nor criticize the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth. [28.1]

Whoever indulges in praising or criticizing the qualities and behaviour of others will quickly become deviated from his own best interest by his entanglement in illusory dualities. [28.2]

Just as the embodied spirit soul loses external consciousness when his senses are overcome by the illusion of dreaming or the deathlike state of deep sleep, so a person experiencing material duality must encounter illusion and death. [28.3]

That which is expressed by material words or meditated on by the material mind is not ultimate truth. What, therefore, is actually good or bad within this insubstantial world of duality, and how can the extent of such good and bad be measured? [28.4]

Although shadows, echoes and mirages are only illusory reflections of real things, such reflections do cause a semblance of meaningful or comprehensible perception. In the same way, although the identification of the conditioned soul with the material body, mind and ego is illusory, this identification generates fear within him even up to the moment of death. [28.5]

The Supersoul alone is the ultimate controller and creator of this world, and thus he alone is also the created. Similarly, the Soul of all existence Himself both maintains and is maintained, withdraws and is withdrawn. No other entity can be properly ascertained as separate from him, the Supreme Soul, who nonetheless is distinct from everything and everyone else. The appearance of the threefold material nature, which is perceived within him, has no actual basis. Rather, you should understand that this material nature, composed of the three modes, is simply the product of his illusory potency. [28.6-7]

One who has properly understood the process of becoming firmly fixed in theoretical and realized knowledge, as described herein by me, does not indulge in material criticism or praise. Like the sun, he wanders freely throughout this world. [28.8]

By direct perception, logical deduction, scriptural testimony and personal realization, one should know that this world has a beginning and an end and so is not the ultimate reality. Thus one should live in this world without attachment. [28.9]

Uddhava said: Dear Lord, it is not possible for this material existence to be the experience of either the soul, who is the seer, or of the body, which is the seen object. On the one hand, the spirit soul is innately endowed with perfect knowledge, and on the other hand, the material body is not a conscious, living entity. To whom, then, does this experience of material existence pertain? [28.10]

The spirit soul is inexhaustible, transcendental, pure, self-luminous and never covered by anything material. It is like fire. But the nonliving material body, like firewood, is dull and unaware. So in this world, who is it that actually undergoes the experience of material life? [28.11]

The Lord said: As long as the foolish spirit soul remains attracted to the material body, senses and vital force, his material existence continues to flourish, although it is ultimately meaningless. [28.12]

Actually, the living entity is transcendental to material existence. But because of his mentality of lording it over material nature, his material existential condition does not cease, and, just as in a dream, he is affected by all sorts of disadvantages. [28.13]

Although while dreaming a person experiences many undesirable things, on awakening he is no longer confused by the dream experiences. [28.14]

Lamentation, elation, fear, anger, greed, confusion and hankering, as well as birth and death, are experiences of the false ego and not of the pure soul. [28.15]

The living entity who falsely identifies with his body, senses, life air and mind, and who dwells within these coverings, assumes the form of his own materially conditioned qualities and work. He is designated variously in relation to the total material energy, and thus, under the strict control of supreme time, he is forced to run here and there within material existence. [28.16]

Although the false ego has no factual basis, it is perceived in many forms — as the functions of the mind, speech, life air and bodily faculties. But with the sword of transcendental knowledge, sharpened by worship of a bona fide spiritual master, a sober sage will cut off this false identification and live in this world free from all material attachment. [28.17]

Real spiritual knowledge is based on the discrimination of spirit from matter, and it is cultivated by scriptural evidence, austerity, direct perception, reception of the Puranas' historical narrations, and logical inference. The Absolute Truth, which alone was present before the creation of the universe and which alone will remain after its destruction, is also the time factor and the ultimate cause. Even in the middle stage of this creation's existence, the Absolute Truth alone is the actual reality. [28.18]

Gold alone is present before its manufacture into gold products, the gold alone remains after the products' destruction, and the gold alone is the essential reality while it is being utilized under various designations. Similarly, I alone exist before the creation of this universe, after its destruction and during its maintenance. [28.19]

The material mind manifests in three phases of consciousness — wakefulness, sleep and deep sleep — which are products of the three modes of nature. The mind further appears in three different roles — the perceiver, the perceived and the regulator of perception. Thus the mind is manifested variously throughout these threefold designations. But it is the fourth factor, existing separately from all this, that alone constitutes the Absolute Truth. [28.20]

That which did not exist in the past and will not exist in the future also has no existence of its own for the period of its duration, but is only a superficial designation. In my opinion, whatever is created and revealed by something else is ultimately only that other thing. [28.21]

Although thus not existing in reality, this manifestation of transformations created from the mode of passion appears real because the self-manifested, self-luminous Absolute Truth exhibits Himself in the form of the material variety of the senses, the sense objects, the mind and the elements of physical nature. [28.22]

Thus clearly understanding by discriminating logic the unique position of the Absolute Truth, one should expertly refute one's misidentification with matter and cut to pieces all doubts about the identity of the self. Becoming satisfied in the soul's natural ecstasy, one should desist from all lusty engagements of the material senses. [28.23]

The material body made of earth is not the true self; nor are the senses, their presiding gods or the air of life; nor is the external air, water or fire or one's mind. All these are simply matter. Similarly, neither one's intelligence, material consciousness nor ego, nor the elements of ether or earth, nor the objects of sense perception, nor even the primeval state of material equilibrium can be considered the actual identity of the soul. [28.24]

For one who has properly realized my personal identity as the Supreme Godhead, what credit is there if his senses — mere products of the material modes — are perfectly concentrated in meditation? And on the other hand, what blame is incurred if his senses happen to become agitated? Indeed, what does it mean to the sun if the clouds come and go? [28.25]

The sky may display the various qualities of the air, fire, water and earth that pass through it, as well as such qualities as heat and cold, which continually come and go with the seasons. Yet the sky is never entangled with any of these qualities. Similarly, the Supreme Absolute Truth is never entangled with the contaminations of goodness, passion and ignorance, which cause the material transformations of the false ego. [28.26]

Nevertheless, until by firmly practicing devotional service to me one has completely eliminated from his mind all contamination of material passion, one must very carefully avoid associating with the material modes, which are produced by my illusory energy. [28.27]

Just as an improperly treated disease recurs and gives repeated distress to the patient, the mind that is not completely purified of its perverted tendencies will remain attached to material things and repeatedly torment the imperfect yogi. [28.28]

Sometimes the progress of imperfect transcendentalists is checked by attachment to family members, disciples or others, who are sent by envious gods for that purpose. But on the strength of their accumulated advancement, such imperfect transcendentalists will resume their practice of yoga in the next life. They will never again be trapped in the network of fruitive work. [28.29]

An ordinary living entity performs material work and is transformed by the reaction to such work. Thus he is driven by various desires to continue working fruitively up to the very moment of his death. A wise person, however, having experienced his own constitutional bliss, gives up all material desires and does not engage in fruitive work. [28.30]

The wise man, whose consciousness is fixed in the self, does not even notice his own bodily activities. While standing, sitting, walking, lying down, urinating, eating or performing other bodily functions, he understands that the body is acting according to its own nature. [28.31]

Although a self-realized soul may sometimes see an impure object or activity, he does not accept it as real. By logically understanding impure sense objects to be based on illusory material duality, the intelligent person sees them to be contrary to and distinct from reality, in the same way that a man awakening from sleep views his fading dream. [28.32]

Material nescience, which expands into many varieties by the activities of the modes of nature, is wrongly accepted by the conditioned soul to be identical with the self. But through the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, dear Uddhava, this same nescience fades away at the time of liberation. The eternal self, on the other hand, is never assumed and never abandoned. [28.33]

When the sun rises it destroys the darkness covering men's eyes, but it does not create the objects they then see before them, which in fact were existing all along. Similarly, potent and factual realization of me will destroy the darkness covering a person's true consciousness. [28.34]

The Supreme Lord is self-luminous, unborn and immeasurable. He is pure transcendental consciousness and perceives everything. One without a second, he is realized only after ordinary words cease. By him the power of speech and the life airs are set into motion. [28.35]

Whatever apparent duality is perceived in the self is simply the confusion of the mind. Indeed, such supposed duality has no basis to rest on apart from one's own soul. [28.36]

The duality of the five material elements is perceived only in terms of names and forms. Those who say this duality is real are pseudoscholars vainly proposing fanciful theories without basis in fact. [28.37]

The physical body of the endeavouring yogi who is not yet mature in his practice may sometimes be overcome by various disturbances. Therefore the following process is recommended. [28.38]

Some of these obstructions may be counteracted by yogic meditation or by sitting postures, practiced together with concentration on controlled breathing, and others may be counteracted by special austerities, mantras or medicinal herbs. [28.39]

These inauspicious disturbances can be gradually removed by constant remembrance of me, by congregational hearing and chanting of my holy names, or by following in the footsteps of the great masters of yoga. [28.40]

By various methods, some yogis free the body from disease and old age and keep it perpetually youthful. Thus they engage in yoga for the purpose of achieving material mystic perfections. [28.41]

This mystic bodily perfection is not valued very highly by those expert in transcendental knowledge. Indeed, they consider endeavour for such perfection useless, since the soul, like a tree, is permanent, but the body, like a tree's fruit, is subject to destruction. [28.42]

Although the physical body may be improved by various processes of yoga, an intelligent person who has dedicated his life to me does not place his faith in the prospect of perfecting his physical body through yoga, and in fact he gives up such procedures. [28.43]

The yogi who has taken shelter of me remains free from hankering because he experiences the happiness of the soul within. Thus while executing this process of yoga, he is never defeated by obstacles. [28.44]

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