This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
First I want to agree with Héctor Rosario that the letter from Prabhupada is ONLY about seeing the feet not touching the feet which is a completely different matter. Touching of deities feet or any other part of the deity is in most parts of India ONLY done by a pujari. The exceptions to this as noted by Hari Pārṣada Dās are in some temples in Maharastra and Orissa (Vittala and Puri Jagannatha) where visiting devotees can perform Sparshan (touching) of the deity as well as the normal Darshan (seeing and being seen by the deity). Concerning this tradition in some places of touching of deities by those who are not pujaris. The idea seems to be that the deity is pure and by touching the deity one also becomes pure. However normally the idea is that one (even a pujari) is not pure and should become pure first before touching the deity. In either case the idea is that contamination and purity is spread by touch. In our Vaisnava sampradayas mostly it is explained that one must first be purified by the pancaratric samskara of diksha before being allowed to touch the body of the deity (and also for other things that require one to be sanctified). Secondly even after diksha one should be physically pure by taking proper ritual bath, wearing proper ritual attire, tilaka, etc. before going and approaching the deity. Even after this a system of proper mental attitude by mentally destroying the impure physical body of the devotee and creating a completely pure spiritual body called Bhuta Suddhi is gone through before the pujari touches the deity. Thereafter the pujari will respectfully take permission from his guru parampara to approach and serve the deity directly. All these steps are normally gone through before one can approach the deity. The idea that female deity's feet should not be touched by a male pujari is not correct. There was no restriction like this spoken of by Prabhupada. In fact Prabhupada mentioned that the pujari should/must touch the feet of the deity. No exception for female deities was ever mentioned by him. Every person who actually has experience with worshiping the deity knows that when waking the deity the system is to enter the deity room, light or adjust the lamps or turn on the (electric) lights, then wake the small utsava/festival deities who are laying in bed by ringing a bell in the left hand and touching their feet with his right hand while chanting the specific prayer for waking that deity. This includes female deities. Of course there are some groups/sampradayas where the mere clapping of the hands three times are considered enough to wake the deities or at least announce the pujaris coming into the deity's bed chamber. So again regarding the worship of female deities by males and male deities by females normally this is not a factor because the pujari does not worship the deities in his or her physical body but in a pure spiritual body appropriate for doing that personal worship created by the process of Bhuta Suddhi in Vaidhi bhakti and in his Siddhadeha or spiritual form in Raganuga bhakti. We should also note that the pujari is to meditate on himself or herself as being a pure servant of the deities and not simply as a material male or female. Spiritually the individual souls are all considered as "female" in the sense that we are all
In South India in contrast this . Many deities of Lord Krishna in the tribanga (standing three fold bending) pose will have His right foot elevated so only the toes are flat on the base. Even men in South India sometimes wear a vesti/lunghi very low in order to cover even their feet. So we can see that the feet are not only seen as dirty but also the place where one must go to surrender and attain the mercy of the person.dependent and meant to serve the deities. Using others shoes is considered as not acceptable and dirty also. Surrender to a person in India is symbolized by falling at their feet. This is part of Indian culture. (This standard is followed even when making of deities of purva/previous acharyas in South India. For example a deity of baby Krishna lying on His back on a banyan leaf sucking His toe (Vattapatrasayi Krishna). The lines on the hand are defined by one's karma therefore no deity can have lines on his hand like ordinary jivatmans. In South India and in most temples in North female deities are dressed quite conservatively. Many deity makers do mark the bottom of this (right) foot. In fact it is possible to see some markings on the soles (bottoms) of deities feet if their feet are not completely flat and connected to their pitham or base. the idea being that these acharyas having attained moksha no longer can be shown with signs of karmas on their hands). In North India we see female deities with their saris covering their heads which is the custom since the Muslim invasions of around 1000 ce. Similarly they also mark the Lord's chest with a footprint called Brighu pada or the footprint of Brighu Muni who kicked Lord Visnu in the chest. Padya is a special washing service offered to the deities for washing their feet. This is because the deity has no karma. Holy persons as well as deities who visit are welcomed with their feet being washed and the holy water is then sprinkled and in some cases drunk by the hosts. sometimes by touching their feet with one's hand or head. It is also common that markings are shown on the hands of deities. thus we often hear of people washing their feet when entering certain places like homes or temples. The feet in India have some cultural significances. First since they are touching the ground they are considered as dirty. The Lord's bathing water is in fact called caranamrta which literally means "the nectar from the feet" even though it contains not only water (Padya) used for washing His feet but also the rest of His body as well. Despite this females are supposed to be dressed conservatively not showing the feet. Actually although some deities in North India have lines on their hand the sastra mandates only auspicious symbols and sometimes lotus like diagrams in the center of their palms. Since the feet are considered as dirty one should not sit in such a way as to point one's feet to anyone or any deity. Back to the main topic of showing of feet. Whereas in the west we never really consider washing the feet separately from bathing the whole body (except on rare occasions of stepping in something dirty). The feet of female deities is never shown for this reason. Srivatsa markings are also normal on the right side of any Visnu tattva deities chest as are Kaustubha markings on the left side or center. Iconography 101: Regarding the point about markings on the feet of deities. Indeed some temples have tanks and other apparatus for pilgrims to at least wash their feet before entering.
custom of covering the head by females is not common amongst the people in general so similarly isn't done when dressing female deities either. The difference in this taste or rasa is determined by the attitude of the worshiper. Krishna is described as having a bamboo flute. . Of course during Prabhupada's time we did not do this because he specifically ordered us to worship Radha Krishna in the mood of Laksmi Narayana. Thus sometimes we see in temples like Radha Raman the deity wears shorts or even only kaupina (underwear) on hot summer days. Now I would perhaps make an exception for the temple in Vrndavan itself where the other traditional major temples are perhaps doing some dressing in different moods on specific occasions only. The mood of Vrndavan is very simple rural mood. He also instructed us not to show female deities hair. Now some devotees may personally be advanced enough to manifest that attitude of sweet simple rural style worship which accompanies the worship of the Lord in Raganuga bhakti. And I would remind them to think of what Prabhupada himself would say if we dressed Radha as a cowboy in LA? I am not against displays of raganuga worship only that it should be in ISKCON limited to personal deities and not transferred to the worship standard of the ISKCON temple which was clearly defined by Prabhupada. Prabhupada had certainly made reference to covering of the head of female deities in accordance with North Indian custom. Thus the modern western tradition of untied hair is not to be used when dressing female deities. But the worship in awe and reverence or opulence of Laksmi Narayana in Vaikuntha does not allows such intimate displays. Still even if we disregard this and make some exceptions to this prohibition on occasions like Radhastami or Gopastami still this must be understood to be an exception to the rule not to be emulated in each and very place in the ISKCON world. But Prabhupada wanted that only the mood of aishvarya or opulence and awe and reverence be displayed in the public temples of ISKCON. Indeed even the Gopa dressing of Radha shown by Visuddha-sattva Das in another posting shows her with a gold flute. So while I have no problem which such intimate displays being made by advanced raganuga bhaktas in their personal home worship. So one rasa or taste is the opulent taste of aishvarya with awe and reverence and the other is the sweet simple taste of rural cowherd community. Otherwise known as rasabhasa. This is mixture of rasas. The next point I want to stress is that Prabhupada always told us that our worship of Radha Krishna in ISKCON was to be done in the mood of Laksmi Narayana. Womens hair (even men's hair) in India is normally tied up in a braid (male's sikhas are tied by not in a braid). The ISKCON temple worship of Radha Krishna is supposed always to be done according to the principles and rasa/taste of Vaidhi bhakti. One can perhaps justify dressing Radha as a cowboy in Vrndavan but how can it be justified in LA? Of course I expect many may disagree with me. Yet ISKCON deities are dressed in the finest of silks with many jewels and golden or silver flutes. Radha Krishna live in a rural area where they would have been adorned with simple village garb and forest flowers.
These Hindu guests certainly do not see Gaja (Elephant) dress as simply a lila of Krishna and Balarama but instead instantly identify the deity on the altar with the elephant head as Ganesha. Here's something to ponder over. neither in Vaidhi nor Raganuga forms of worship. Thus their idea that Krishna and Ganesha are equal become reinforced.org/wiki/Sambandar Similarly there are certain weapons and other things held in the hands of deities and poses of the hands (mudras) that indicate what the name of the deity is. We do not need to argue this point here. Krishna's face and His name are non-different from Him. Nimai Charan Das-Neeraj Wadehra Normally we see only auspicious symbols on the feet of different personalities. However when people have tried to argue this . As such this custom finds no place in Vaisnava worship whatsoever. The Gaudiya concept (and indeed the concept of the main three Vaisnava sampradayas of North India. It was first performed to appease a great mayavadi devotee of Ganapati (Ganesha). Melbourne. As I stated above this is Iconography 101. This is hardly the preaching that we in ISKCON want to present to the world. There are many other changes in deity worship that could be discussed but let us suffice it to say that it seems that the leadership of ISKCON has not taken seriously these changes that have crept in or endeavored to discuss and examine whether or not they are beneficial to ISKCON's peaching mission or even bonafide from a perspective of Vaisnava siddhanta. Whereas the older forms of Vaisnavism followed in South India i. see http://en.There are other customs that have been adopted into ISKCON temple worship that do not even conform to Vaisnava practice at all. If they are depicted on anyone's feet even Sri Radhas would that person not be walking on the Lord's face and name? Is that not offensive? For this reason I doubt very much that such representations are bonafide. We should look in sastra (silpa and agama) that describes deities for the symbols and signs on different personalities bodies. For example there is a Tamil Saivite Saint called Tiru Jnana Sambandar who looks exactly like Lord Krishna dancing but Iconographically one can tell the difference between a dancing child Krishna deity and a deity of this Saiva Saint ONLY by which leg is raised in the air. Vallabha and Nimbarka) is that Lord Krishna is the avatari or source of all incarnations. This is a custom adopted from the temple in Puri where the deity worship is not purely Vaisnava.wikipedia. Ramanuja and Madhva sampradayas concept as well as the general understanding of most Hindus is that Krishna is an avatar of Visnu. Gaudiya.e. The one that comes to mind is the dressing of Jagannath and Balarama as Ganesha after the Snana Yatra ritual. etc) and see it. Secondly even if it is attempted to be explained away by some persons as only dressing as elephants for some lila (a form of Raganuga worship) still it completely misleads members of the Indian community when they come to ISKCON temples around the world (like London. One might see a deity and think that it is one personality and not notice that it has not got the defining markings or accessories and is actually another personality.
question with me I make some observations. Iconographically all Visnu tattva deities have the marking of Srivatsa or Laksmi on the right side of their chest. Why do we speak of Visnu tattva as a category of deity? Should not the deity category be Krishna tattva and Visnu belong to it and not the other way around that Krishna belongs to the Visnu tattva category? 3. Why did Krishna appear in Mathura and manifest four arms a Visnu trait before becoming transforming into a small child form? If the original form is the teenage Krishna form then surely He would have manifest that teenage Krishna form first to show Devaki and Vasudeva who He was before changing into a baby form. Only in the avataras do we see that the Lord first appears in a young form which then manifests the appearance of growth as the lila of the avatara unfolds. 7. 6. If Krishna is the paradigm or avatari then should not the Srivatsa be called the Radha-vatsa? And should not all Rama and Visnu deities have a Radha-vatsa? 5. 1. This is the mark of Sri or Laksmi not Radha. Does this also not show that Krishna who appeared as a child and manifest the appearance of growth at least to the teenage youthful age is an avatar and not the avatari . Visnu always appears as a fully mature form. the word avatar means literally one who descends) and yet no appearance day of Visnu or day when he descended? 2. These markings are even seen on Krishna deities made in Vrndavan. It is to be noted that there is no baby form of Visnu. 4. But if Visnu is the paradign or avatari then it makes sense that even followers and worshipers of Rama and Krishna are called Vaisnavas. The lila is that Brghu kicked Visnu in the chest. If Visnu is an avatar and Krishna is the original then why is there an appearance day when Krishna appeared (descended. Yet the mark was made on the chest of Visnu? Therefore the deities made in Vrndavan that correctly show this marking on the chest of Krishna because it is mandated by agama and silpa sastra are showing us that Krishna is a form of Visnu and not the other way around. Why do we call ourselves as Vaisnavas and not Krishnavas? Surely if Krishna is the original (paradigm) then all those who follow Him are Krishnavas even those who worship His avatars Rama and Visnu. There is also a marking of the footprint of Brghu Muni called the Brghu pada on all deities of Visnu.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.