This blog is about giving human society the opportunity for a life of happiness, good health, peace of mind and all good qualities through God consciousness. It insists Vedic values in today's youth and thereby develop the exalted character of a true Indian with examples and life philosophy drawn from the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam
Sri Vakreshvara Pandit was Lord Caitanya’s very dear servant and is considered to be the fifth branch of the Lord Caitanya’s tree,
In the Gaura-ganoddesa-Dipika(71) it is stated that Vakreshvara Pandita was an incarnation of Aniruddha, one of the quadruple expansions of Vishnu (Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Aniruddha, and Pradyumna). While some others like Vakreshvara Pandit’s initiated disciple Gopala Guru Gosvami and many others in Orissa, including Dhyan Chandra, a disciple of Gopala Guru Gosvami, says in his books that Vakreshvara Pandit is an incarnation of Tungavidya-Sakhi, an expert singer, and dancer serving as one of Srimati Radharani’s ashta-sakhis.
Vakreshvara Pandit was born in the village of Guptipara near Triveni.
He could dance wonderfully for seventy-two continuous hours. When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu played in dramatic performances in the house of Srivasa Pandita, Vakreshvara Pandita was one of the chief dancers, and he danced continuously for that length of time.
Vakreshvara Pandit was present with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu during His pastimes in Navadwipa and after His acceptance of Sannyasa, he accompanied Him to Jagannath Puri. During the time of the Lord’s residence in Puri, he continued to live with Him.
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began His pastimes of congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Sri Hari in Navadwipa, Sri Vakreshvara Pandit was an important singer and dancer in that assembly. It was by his mercy that a Vaishnava, Devananda Pandit was delivered from the wrath of Mahaprabhu. He was also present during the Lord’s journey to Ramakeli.
Deliverance of Devananda Pandit
Devananda Pandit was, at one time, known as the foremost lecturer on the Bhagavat. One day Srivasa Pandit went to hear his discourse and being moved in ecstatic love by hearing the Bhagavatam, he began to cry. A few of the ignorant students of Devananda Pandit, thinking that this was creating a disturbance, removed Srivasa Pandit from the assembly and left him outside. Though this was done in front of Devananda he didn’t restrain his students from this act of disregard to the devotee-Bhagavata.
The Two Types of Bhagavatas
There are two types of Bhagavatas – the book bhagavata and the devotee bhagavata. For this reason, Devananda Pandit became implicated in an offense to a great devotee (maha-bhagavata). When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard how his dear devotee, Srivasa Pandit, had been disrespected, He gave many instructions concerning the Bhagavata. He told that those who read the book-Bhagavata but don’t offer respects to the devotee-Bhagavata are simply offenders, though they may read the Bhagavata for eons, they will never attain love of Godhead. The devotee-Bhagavata and the book- Bhagavata are non-different. In order to understand the book-Bhagavata, one must first sincerely serve the devotee-Bhagavata. Therefore Mahaprabhu neglected Devananda and did not bestow His mercy on him.
One evening Vakreshvara Pandit came to perform dancing and chanting of the Holy Name at the house of one devotee from Kulia, across the bank of the Ganga from Nadia. Receiving this auspicious news Devananda proceeded there, and upon seeing the appearance of the symptoms of divine love in the person of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit he became charmed. Gradually a great crowd gathered at that place, and Devananda Pandit, taking a cane in his hand, kept the crowd in order so as not to obstruct the ecstatic dancing of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit.
In this way, Vakreshvara Pandit performed chanting and dancing for two praharas (six hours), on into the night. When he finished dancing and sat down, Devananda came and offered dandavats at the lotus feet of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit, who became pleased with this service and blessed Devananda to attain devotion to Lord Sri Krsna. From that day devotion was awakened in the heart of Devananda by the mercy of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit.
Thereafter when Mahaprabhu came to Nadia to have darshan of his mother and Mother Ganges, He forgave all his previous offenses and blessed him and told Devananda “Since you have served Vakreshvara Pandit so well, I am able to see you here today. Vakreshvara is a manifestation and embodiment of Krishna’s transcendental potency; therefore, whosoever serves him well, immediately attains the lotus feet of Krsna. Sri Krishna’s favorite residence is the heart of Vakreshvara Pandit. Where and when Vakreshvara dances, Krishna Himself is induced to dance at that place. Thus, the presence of Sri Vakreshvara converts anywhere into all the places of pilgrimage, the spiritual abode of Sri Krishna, Vaikuntha.”
Sri Vakreshvara Pandit’s disciple was Gopal Guru Goswami and Gopal Guru Goswami’s disciple was Sri Dhyanchandra Goswami. In his Dhyan Chandra Paddhati – Dhyan Chandra Goswami has written – “the person who was previously very expert in the arts of singing and dancing, the gopi, Tungavidya, is presently renowned in the world as Vakreshvara Pandit. He has appeared on the fifth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashadha (Ashadha -June-July – Vaman masa) and he closed his pastimes in this world on the sixth day of the bright fortnight of the month Ashadha. While Vakreshvara danced, Mahaprabhu Himself would sing and Vakreshvara would catch hold of His lotus feet, saying; “O moon-faced one, give me 10,000 Gandharvas, and let them sing while I dance. Then I will be happy.” Mahaprabhu answered, “You are one of my wings. If I had another (like you) I could fly in the sky.”
– Chaitanya Charitamrta, Adi 10.17.
Sri Sri Radha Kanta, The Deities Worshiped by Sri Vakreshvara Pandit
Sri Vakreshvara Pandit’s worshipable deity is Sri Sri Radha Kanta, whom he worshiped in Kashi Misra’s house in Jagganath Puri, which was also the residence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (Gambhira). These Deities are still being worshiped there to this day. Sri Vakreshvara Pandit’s samadhi is in the 64 Samadhis area in Vrindavan.
Srila Prabhupada’s visit to Moscow was a historic milestone in establishing the triumph of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction:
prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama
“In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.”
By setting foot in Moscow, Srila Prabhupada blessed the whole country with his divine presence. In his short stay there, he also planted the seed of devotion in the heart of a sincere, young Muscovite named Ivan.
Prabhupada’s eagerness to preach in Moscow
In May 1971, Srila Prabhupada prepared for extensive world travel. Although his itinerary was indefinite, his general plan was to travel widely for a few months, then tour the U.S., visit London, and then return to India. He had sent disciples to Australia and Malaysia, and he wanted to visit them. He also wanted to go to Moscow and was awaiting a letter of permission from the Soviet government. As he had spread his movement in America, visiting major cities and preaching and then stationing a few faithful disciples there to carry on, he now expanded his field to include the whole world.
Srila Prabhupada’s traveling was in the mood of Narada Muni, the eternally wandering devotee. In the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada had translated Narada Muni’s words:
I travelled all over the earth fully satisfied and without being proud or envious… I do travel everywhere, by the Grace of the Almighty Vishnu either in the transcendental world or in the three divisions of the material world without any restriction because I am fixed up unbroken in the devotional service of the Lord. I do travel as abovementioned by constantly singing the glories of the Lord in transcendental message by vibrating this instrument of Vina charged with transcendental sound and given to me by Lord Krishna.
Having preached a year in the Eastern Hemisphere, Prabhupada was eager to return to the West, and he planned to fly to Moscow and on to Europe.
For months Prabhupada had been planning to visit Moscow with a desire to preach to the Russian people. He had already been corresponding with a Russian Indologist Prof. Kotovsky. His disciple Krsna dasa in West Germany, with the help of a Dr. Berndhardt of the University of Hamburg, had obtained the names of other Russian scholars of Indology. Srila Prabhupada had coached Krsna dasa on how to best cultivate the Russian Indologists.
For Prabhupada and his traveling companions, Syamasundara and Aravinda, getting tourist visas for Russia was simple. They would take a five-day, government-controlled tour, with every activity planned by the Soviet Tourist Bureau and everything paid for in advance.
Prabhupada, his secretary, and his servant cleared Soviet customs and immigration quickly and smoothly, and a government tourist guide escorted them by limousine to the Hotel National. The hotel, near Red Square, Lenin’s Tomb, and the Kremlin, was expensive but plain. Prabhupada found his room dingy and cramped, with barely space for a bed and two chairs. The room for Syamasundara and Aravinda was far away, and Prabhupada decided that Aravinda should share the room with him instead, crowding Prabhupada’s room all the more.
Aravinda told the hotel manager that they would not eat the hotel fare, but would have to cook their own meals. The manager refused at first, but finally allowed them use of the maid’s kitchen.
That problem solved, the next was getting food. Prabhupada sent Syamasundara out. Across the street, Syamasundara found a milk and yogurt store, but he returned to Prabhupada’s room without any fruit, vegetables, or rice. Prabhupada sent him out again, and this time Syamasundara was gone practically all day, returning with only a couple of cabbages. Prabhupada sent him out the next day for rice. When Syamasundara returned with rice after several hours, Prabhupada saw that it was a poor North Korean variety, very hard. Prabhupada asked for fruit, but Syamasundara had to hike for miles through the city to find anything fresh-a few red cherries.
Prabhupada remained peaceful and regulated, keeping to his daily schedule. He would rise early and translate, and in the cool of early morning he would go out for a walk through the all-but-deserted streets. Prabhupada, wearing a saffron cadar, strode quickly, Syamasundara sometimes running ahead to photograph him.
As they would pass Lenin’s Mausoleum a queue would already be forming. “Just see,” Prabhupada commented one morning, “that is their God. The people don’t understand the difference between the body and the spirit. They accept the body as the real person.”
Prabhupada appreciated the sparseness of the traffic-some trolleys and bicycles, but mostly pedestrians. As he walked among the old, ornate buildings, he saw elderly women hosing the wide streets-a good practice, he said. The Russian people appeared to live structured, regulated lives, much more so than the Americans. These simple, austere people, unspoiled by the rampant hedonism so common in America, were fertile for Krsna consciousness. But devoid of spiritual sustenance, they appeared morose.
Prabhupada meets Professor Kotovsky
For months Prabhupada had been planning to visit Moscow. Aside from his desire to preach to the Russian people, he had a specific meeting in mind with a Russian Indology Professor, G. G. Kotovsky. Professor Kotovsky headed the department of Indian and South Asian studies at Moscow’s U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, and Prabhupada had been corresponding with him for a year.
Prabhupada had Syamasundara arrange a meeting with Professor Kotovsky and invite Captain Lal, the pilot of the flight to Moscow, to come along. The tourist bureau provided a car and guide, and Prabhupada and his party rode outside the city to Professor Kotovsky’s office in an old white brick building at the Academy of Sciences.
When Prabhupada arrived, the middle-aged Russian professor, dressed in a gray suit, got up from his cluttered desk and welcomed Prabhupada into his small office. Professor Kotovsky appeared a bit hesitant, however, more cautious than in his letters. When Syamasundara mentioned Prabhupada’s eagerness to lecture before interested scholars at the Academy, Professor Kotovsky flatly refused-it would never be allowed. Prabhupada was disappointed.
The next moment, however, Prabhupada seemed unaffected and began speaking in his humble, genteel manner, sitting in a straight-backed office chair beside Professor Kotovsky, who sat at his desk. Syamasundara turned on the tape recorder, which the professor eyed cautiously but didn’t object to.
Professor Kotovsky listened intently and politely as his foreign visitor explained about Krishna culture and philosophy.
Main subjects discussed by Srila Prabhupada with Prof Kotovsky
Prabhupada wanted to address interested scholars at the Academy on three subjects, but the Government wouldn’t allow such lecturing.
Sri Raghunath Dasa Goswami is one of the six primary disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was the only son of a wealthy land owner. The wealth and opulence enjoyed by his family is compared to that of king Indra. Yet, RaghunathaDasa showed detatchment to worldly life right from an early age.
Raghunatha’s detachment from worldly life and attachment to Lord Chaitanya
Blessed by Namacharya, Haridasa Thakura and Lord Chaitanya, the young Raghunatha became very eager to join Sri Mahaprabhu in Puri and serve Him. He felt intense separation from the Lord. He tried to run away to Puri several times. This alarmed his family who placed a guard around him. To bind Raghunatha further to family life, his parents got him married to a very beautiful girl. However, these measures failed to check Raghunatha’s spiritual ardor and he resumed making attempts to flee the family and go to Puri. His mother told her husband to again put a guard on him. His father responded with deep understanding. “Raghunātha dāsa, our son, has opulences like Indra, the heavenly King and his wife is as beautiful as an angel. Yet all this could not tie down his mind. How then could we keep this boy home by binding him with ropes? It is not possible even for one’s father to nullify the reactions of one’s past activities. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has fully bestowed His mercy on him. Who can keep home such a madman of Caitanyacandra?”
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had gone to Santipura on His way to Vrindavana, Raghunatha met Him and offered to dedicate his life at the Lord’s lotus feet. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked him not to do so and assured that Krishna would deliver him soon from the clutches of maya.
Raghunatha seeks Lord Nityananda’s blessings at Panihati
A couple of years later, Nityananda Prabhu came to Panihati (a village on the banks of Ganges near Kolkata) and stayed there. Raghunatha met Lord Nityananda to seek His blessings. Raghunatha dasa was hesitant to approach the Lord and paid obeisances from a distance. But some of the devotees noticed him and informed Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu called Raghunatha dasa and said “Raghunatha dasa! You are hiding like a thief. Now I have caught hold of you. Come here, I shall punish you today.’’ Then Lord Nityananda forcibly caught him and put His lotus feet on Raghunatha’s head. Ordered by the Lord, he then served vast numbers of the Lord’s followers preparations made with chipped rice with yogurt and chipped rice with condensed milk.
Even Lord Chaitanya came there mystically to enjoy the feast. Placing His feet on Raghunatha’s head, Lord Nityananda blessed him, “Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Gaurahari, came here personally to deliver you. Now rest assured that all the impediments meant for your bondage are gone. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu will accept you and place you under the charge of His secretary, Svarūpa Dāmodara. You will thus become one of the most confidential internal servants and will attain the shelter of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.”
The Chida-dahi Mahotsava is celebrated every year in commemoration of this wonderful pastime. This festival is also known as Danda Mahotsava (the Festival of Punishment).
Significance of the pastime
When Raghunatha tried to approach Chaitanya Mahaprabhu directly, he was not accepted by the Lord. After taking blessings of Lord Nityananda at Panihati, Raghunatha again approached Mahaprabhu and was accepted. This reveals an important spiritual principle – that one cannot approach the Supreme Lord Krishna (incarnated as Mahaprabhu) directly. One has to first take shelter of the spiritual master (represented by Lord Nityananda, an incarnation of Sri Balaram). Surrender to the guru is an essential prerequisite for approaching the Lord.
Raghunatha exhibited a very high degree of renunciation. While serving Lord Chaitanya at Puri, he would collect the leftovers of Prasadam thrown by vendors at the end of the day which would not be even touched by the stray cows. He would wash the rice till he reached the hard uncooked part and then mix it with salt and that was his daily meal. It is practically unthinkable for a person from an opulent background to live a life of such utter penury.
Narration from the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana
Jyeshtha Shukla Ekadasi
Ekadasi is an important day in the lives of devotees of Lord Krishna. It’s a day of austerities and intensified devotional practices. These recommended days of fasting are meant for learning to transcend the bodily needs, especially food, and fix one’s consciousness on one’s constitutional position as a loving servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.
Of all Ekadasis, the Jyestha Shukla Ekadasi, which falls in the hottest time of the year called Grishma ritu, is hardest for observing austerities. The summer is at its peak in the northern hemisphere and water is essential. On this Ekadasi one is supposed to fast not only without food but also without water. The glory of this Ekadasi is described in the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana in a conversation between Veda Vyasa and Bhimasena.
Story of Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi
Once Bhimasena, asked the Srila Vyasadeva, the grandfather of the Pandavas, whether it was possible to return to the spiritual world without having observed fasting for Ekadasis.
Bhimasena said to Vyasadeva, “O learned grandfather, my brothers Yudhisthira, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, my dear mother Kunti as well as my beloved wife Draupadi, all fast on each Ekadasi, strictly following all the regulative injunctions of that sacred day. They tell me to fast as well. But, learned grandfather, it is impossible for me to live without eating, because being the son of Vayudeva, I am unable to bear hunger. I can give charity and worship Lord Keshava with all kinds of upacharas (items) but I cannot fast on Ekadasi. Please tell me how I may obtain the merits of observing Ekadasis without fasting.”
Vyasadeva said, “If you want to ascend to the spiritual world, you must observe Ekadasi on both the dark and the light fortnights.” Bhima protested, “Learned grandsire, I cannot live if I eat just once a day, then how can I fast? Within my stomach burns the agni (fire) called Vrika – the fire of digestion. Only when I eat heartily at every meal, is this Vrika agni satisfied. O great sage! I would be able to fast only once in a year so I beg you to please tell me about that Ekadasi fasting on which my obligation for fasting on all other Ekadasis is fulfilled. I shall faithfully observe that Ekadasi and become eligible for liberation.”
Vyasadeva replied, “You should fast without drinking even water on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June) at the time of Mithuna Sankranti when the sun travels from the sign of Vrishabha (Taurus ) to Mithuna (Gemini). One must certainly not eat anything, for if he does so he breaks his fast. This rigid fast is in effect from sunrise on the Ekadasi day to sunrise on the Dwadasi day. If a person endeavours to observe this great fast very strictly, he easily achieves the result of observing all twenty-four other Ekadasi fasts throughout the entire year.
“O Vrikodara (voracious eater), whoever fasts on this Ekadasi in one instance receives the merits of bathing in all the places of pilgrimage, giving profuse charities to worthy persons, and fasting on all the dark and light Ekadasis throughout the year. Yamadutas will not approach him at death. Rather, the Vishnu-dutas will take him to the supreme abode of Vishnu.”
When the other Pandavas heard about the benefits of following Jyeshtha-Shukla Ekadasi, they resolved to observe it as well. On this Ekadasi, they would refrain from eating or drinking anything, and thus it came to be known as ‘Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi.’
Srila Vyasadeva instructed Bhima to engage in japa (chanting of the Lord’s holy names) on this Ekadasi day and on the next give charity to brahmanas and serve them prasadam. Bhima could then break his fast, taking prasadam with a brahmana. Vyasadeva extolled this perfomance of Ekadasi saying by observing it as recommended hundred previous generation would be liberated even if they may have been very sinful.
Srila Vyasadeva concluded, “I strongly urge you to fast on this auspicious, purifying, sin-devouring Ekadasi in just the way I have outlined. Thus you will be completely freed of all sins and reach the supreme abode.” He assured Bhima that the performance of this Ekadasi would be very pleasing to the supreme Lord, Keshava.
Please accept the blessings of Sri Sri Radha-Vrindavanchandra upon you!
Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir (VCM), Vrindavan has been propagating the highest spiritual and Indian cultural values and teachings to society at large through all its programs. Cultural Education Services (CES) division of VCM, is trying to disseminate amongst children, knowledge and awareness of the timeless culture and glorious heritage of India.
Armed with the understanding that nothing can bring transformation like personal and practical experience, our vision is to imbibe in school children respect for our ancient rich heritage by training them in recreational activities relating to Indian culture and offering them an opportunity to participate in a plethora of professionally designed cultural programs, culture centric workshops, intra & inter-school cultural competitions, fests and educational temple tours that are exclusively centered on Vedic culture and heritage art forms.
The Culture Camp program, is one such cultural initiative of VCM for fostering spiritual interest in children. Culture Camp is a wonderful opportunity for students to enjoy a pleasant summer vacation, while being enriched by various cultural and value-based experiences. It provides a unique and much awaited break for children. They eagerly look forward to showcase their newly acquired skills on the stage during Talents Day, held at the end of the 10-day camp. Unique programs centered on training children in recreational activities related to our rich cultural heritage will provide them a platform to display and engage their faculties in creative and spiritual pursuits at the school and inter-school level. The Camp will also encourage them in imbibing the spirit of enthusiastic participation, team work and healthy competition.
Key features of Culture Camp:
Animation video shows.
Mantra meditation for improving concentration and disciplining the mind.
Learn Vedic hymns and prayers
Learn Bhagavad-gita sloka chanting with lucid explanations.
Imbibe values and ethics through Vedic stories
Get trained in any one cultural module of your choice.
The modules are:-
Creative Fine arts: This module is carefully crafted to enrich the inherent creativity in the child through several mediums under professional mentoring. The creations will be exhibited on the ‘Talents Day’ in-front of all the parents and children.
Fireless cooking: Helping children become less dependent on their parents for small little snacking and developing values of caring, helping & sharing responsibilities with friends or folks. Mind you, it’s all going to be without the risk of fire!
Group Vocal Music: Lets the child learn Indian Classical Vocal Music with a tinge of love and devotion which can penetrate the hearts and touch the soul.
Dance (Folk or Indian Classical): Brings out the best of expressions using all the faculties of the child’s person. The grand finale will be worth awaiting. Helps in confidence building.
English Theatre: Based on glorious tales, this module brings out the actor in the child. They internalize, they express and they perform.
Ekadasi is a powerful opportunity for us, the souls trapped in material existence, to perform recommended austerities and make our way back to our original home in the spiritual sky. The spiritual atmosphere is infused with selfless devotional feelings of the pure souls for Lord Krishna and His devotees. Enlightened humans should make best use of the opportunity to invigorate in themselves, this pure Vaikuntha consciousness transcendental to the debilitating impurities of the material atmosphere.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has given some simple principles for observing all Ekadasis
“One should observe fasting on Ekadasi day, the eleventh day after the full moon and the eleventh day after the new moon, when no grains, cereals or beans are eaten. Simple vegetables and milk are taken in moderate amounts, and chanting of Hare Krishna, reading Scripture, etc. is increased.”
Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Teachings of Lord Chaitanya.” Part I, Chapter 12
“In the Bhakti-sandarbha, by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, there is a quotation from the Skanda Purāṇa admonishing that a person who eats grains on Ekādaśī becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuṇṭha planet, he falls down. On Ekādaśī, everything is cooked for Viṣṇu, including regular grains and dal, but it is enjoined that a Vaiṣṇava should not even take viṣṇu-prasāda on Ekādaśī. It is said that a Vaiṣṇava does not accept anything eatable that is not offered to Lord Viṣṇu, but on Ekādaśī a Vaiṣṇava should not touch even mahā-prasāda offered to Viṣṇu, although such prasāda may be kept for being eaten the next day. It is strictly forbidden for one to accept any kind of grain on Ekādaśī, even if it is offered to Lord Viṣṇu.”
Excerpt From: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition” Adi 15.9 Purport
Apara Ekadasi is considered very powerful in eliminating sinful reactions. This article describes the benefits of following this Ekadasi as narrated by Lord Krishna to King Yudhishthira in the Brahmanda Purana.
The following narration of Apara Ekadasi is found in the Brahmanda Purana. King Yudhisthira inquired from Lord Krishna about this most auspicious of Ekadasis. Yudhishthira Maharaj said, “O Janardana, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight (krishna paksha) of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June)? I wish to hear from You the glories of this sacred day of Hari. Please narrate them to me.”
Lord Sri Krishna appreciating the query said, “O king, your question is wonderful because the answer will benefit the entire human society.” He then began to relate the glory of Apara Ekadasi, “This Ekadasi is so sublime and meritorious that even the greatest sins can be effaced by observing it. O great saintly king, the name of this unlimitedly commendable Ekadasi is Apara Ekadasi.
“One who fasts on this holy day gains universal fame. Even such sins as killing a brahmana, a cow, or an embryo; blasphemy; or having sex with another’s wife are completely counteracted by observing Apara Ekadasi.” These are all extremely abominable acts in human society, but by fasting for Apara Ekadasi the reactions can be eliminated. When Apara Ekadasi is observed in the right spirit of devotion to Krishna, it burns away sinful reactions. That is the power of devotion to Krishna.
Lord Krishna continued, “O king, those who bear false witness are most sinful. A person who falsely or sarcastically glorifies another; one who cheats in weighing on a scale; one who fails to observe the principles of his Varna or Ashrama; one who fabricates scriptures; a charlatan astrologer, a cheating accountant, or a false doctor- all these are surely destined for hellish punishments. But simply by observing Apara Ekadasi, all such sinners are freed of their sinful reactions.” Integrity is a very important aspect of human dealings. Lord Krishna emphasises this in this passage. Observing Apara Ekadasi transforms the consciousness of even the most sinful people to become Krishna’s devotees. Then their sinful reactions are dispelled.
It is a Vedic principle for a kshatriya (person from the military class) to never run away from the battlefield (yuddhe capyapalayanam). Lord Krishna said, “Warriors who flee the battlefield are sent to a ferocious hell. But, O Yudhishthira, even such a fallen Kshatriya freed of that great sinful reaction goes to heaven if he fasts on Apara Ekadasi. A disciple who after receiving transcendental knowledge from the Guru, turns around and blasphemes him, is the greatest sinner. Such a so-called disciple is given unlimited suffering. But even such a rascal can attain the spiritual world by merely observing Apara Ekadasi.” The laws of nature governing warriors and students are very strict. Warriors have to be chivalrous and students extremely respectful towards their spiritual master. The power of observing Apara Ekadasi is the power of devotion that underlies its observance.
Lord Krishna continued, “Listen, to further glories of this amazing Ekadasi. The merit attained by observing Apara Ekadasi is equal to the merit of performing the following activities:
Bathing at the Holy Lake of Pushkara
Offerings to forefathers at Gaya, India
Bathing three times daily in Pushkara-kshetra during Kartika (October-November); bathing at Prayag in the month of Magha (January-February) when the sun is in the zodiac of Capricorn; serving Lord Shiva at Varanasi (Benares) during Shivaratri; offering oblations to one’s forefathers at Gaya; bathing in the sacred Gautami River when Jupiter transits Leo (Simha); having darshan of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath; seeing Lord Badrinath when the Sun transits the
sign of Aquarius (Kumbha); bathing in Kurukshetra at the time of a solar eclipse and giving cows, elephants, and gold in charity. A person who observes Apara Ekadasi gains the merit of performing all these pious acts. One who fasts on this day also attains the merit of donating a pregnant cow, along with gold and fertile land.” Holy places and astrological calculations are very important in performing Vedic pious activities. The Lord enumerates many pious activities, which are still followed by millions in India. But, the devotional activity of observing Apara Ekadasi bestows all the benefits provided by these pious activities.
The Lord using evocative imagery said, “Apara Ekadasi is an axe that cuts down the forest full of trees of mature sinful deeds, it is a forest fire that burns away trees of sins, it is the glowing sun that removes the darkness of one’s misdeeds, and it is a lion that stalks the meek deer of impiety.” The Lord said in summary, “Therefore, O Yudhishthira, whoever truly fears his past and present sins must observe Apara Ekadasi very strictly.” The Lord mentioned the result of not observing this Ekadasi, “One who does not observe this fast must be born again in the material world, like a bubble among millions in a vast water body, or like a small ant among other species.” The Lord concluded, “Therefore one must faithfully observe the sacred Apara Ekadasi and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Trivikrama. One who does so is freed of all his sins and promoted to the abode of Lord Vishnu. O Bharata, I have thus described to you this the importance of the holy Apara Ekadasi for the benefit of all humanity. Anyone who hears or reads this description is certainly freed from all kinds of sins, oh best of saintly kings, Yudhishthira.”
It is on Apara Ekadasi that Lord Trivikrama (Vamana) took away the whole universe from Bali
Maharaja with His gigantic steps.
Observing Apara Ekadasi
As any other Ekadasi, devotees can observe this Ekadasi by increasing devotional activities like chanting & reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. Since the pastime of Lord Vamana expanding into a gigantic form and covering the whole universe by His two steps happened on this day, devotees may read about it in Srimad-Bhagavatam. (SB 8.20). On this day, one should consciously practice avoiding criticizing others and lying. One should avoid eating all grains, pulses and beans. One may eat fruits, simple vegetable curry, milk, and non-grain foods. Apara Ekadasi can be a day of blissful spiritual austerity and by observing it strictly one can receive immense spiritual benefits.
The glories of Mohini Ekadasi are narrated in the Kurma Purana in a conversation between Maharaja Yudhishthira and Lord Krishna.
Yudhisthira Maharaja enquired from Lord Krishna. He said, “O Janardana! What is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the bright fortnight (sukla paksha) of the month of Vaisakha (April-May)? What is the process for observing it? Kindly narrate to me.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna replied, “Oh blessed son of Dharma, I shall now describe to you what Vasishtha Muni once told Lord Ramachandra. Please hear attentively.
“Lord Ramachandra asked Vasishtha Muni, ‘O great sage, I would like to hear about the best of all fasting days, that day which destroys all sins and sorrows. I have suffered long in separation from My dear Sita, and I wish to learn from you how My suffering may end.’
“Sage Vasishtha replied, ‘O Lord Rama! O One of keen intelligence! Merely by remembering Your Name one can cross the ocean of material miseries! You have only questioned me to benefit all humanity and for fulfilling everyone’s desires. Let me describe that day of fasting which purifies the whole world. That auspicious day O Rama is known as Vaisakha-Shukla Ekadasi, which falls on a Dvadasi. This sin eliminating Ekadasi is famous as Mohini Ekadasi.
‘Truly, O Lord, this Ekadasi frees the fortunate soul who observes it, from the network of material illusion. Therefore, if You wish to dispel Your sufferings, observe this auspicious Ekadasi perfectly, for it removes all obstacles from one’s path and allays great miseries.
Kindly listen as I describe its glories, for merely hearing about this auspicious Ekadasi, neutralizes reactions to the greatest sins.
‘On the banks of the River Sarasvati, there was once a beautiful city named Bhadravati ruled by King Dyutiman. O Rama! That steadfast, truthful, and highly intelligent king was born in the dynasty of the Moon (Chandra-vamsa).
‘In his kingdom was a merchant named Dhanapala, who possessed a great deal of wealth and food grains. He was also very pious. Dhanapala arranged for lakes to be dug, sacrificial arenas to be erected, and beautiful gardens to be cultivated for the benefit of all the citizens of Bhadravati. He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.He had five sons: Sumana, Dyutiman, Medhavi, Sukriti, and Dhrishthabuddhi.
The Sinful Son
‘Unfortunately, Dhrishthabuddhi was very sinful. He slept with
prostitutes and associated with degraded persons.He disrespected demigods (devas), Brahmins, forefathers, community elders, as well as family guests. The evil Dhrishthabuddhi spent his father’s wealth indiscriminately, feasting on untouchable foods and alcohol.
‘One day, Dhanapala saw him walking on the road arm-in-arm with a known prostitute and evicted him from the house. All of Dhrishthabuddhi’s relatives severely criticized him and distanced themselves from him. He sold all his inherited ornaments and become destitute. Even the prostitute insulted him for his poverty and abandoned him.
‘Hungry and gripped with anxiety, he wondered what he would do, where he would go and how he would maintain himself. Eventually, he became a thief. The king’s constables arrested him many times, but on learning that his father was the famous Dhanapala, released him.
‘At last, sick of his arrogance and disrespect for others and their property, the ill-mannered Dhrishthabuddhi was apprehended, handcuffed, and beaten. After having whipped him, the king’s marshals gravely declared, “O Evil minded one! There is no place for you in this kingdom.”
Dhrishthabuddhi Subsists in the Forest
‘However, Dhrishthabuddhi was freed from his tribulation by his father and immediately afterward entered a dense forest. He wandered here and there, hungry and thirsty and suffering greatly. Eventually, he began killing the jungle animals – lions, deer, wild boars, and even wolves for food.
‘Always ready with his bow and a quiver full of arrows, he killed numerous birds, such as chakoras, peacocks, kankas, doves and pigeons without hesitation. Sinful results accumulated each day. Adding to his previous sinful reactions, he was now immersed in an ocean of sin so vast that he could apparently never escape.
Good Fortune Strikes Dhrishthabuddhi
‘Dhrishthabuddhi was always miserable and anxious, but one day, during the month of Vaisakha, by good fortune, he chanced upon the sacred hermitage of Kaundinya Muni. The great sage had just finished bathing in the Ganges River, and water was still dripping from him. By good fortune, Dhrishthabuddhi touched some of those droplets of water falling from the sage’s wet clothing. Dhrishthabuddhi was instantly freed from his ignorance, and his sinful reactions mitigated.
Offering his humble obeisances unto Kaundinya Muni, Dhrishthabuddhi prayed to him with folded hands, “O great Brahmana! I have committed many sins in my life and now I am very poor. Please prescribe me atonement that I may perform without difficulty.” The great rishi replied, “O son! Listen with attention, for by hearing me you will be free of all your remaining sins and your life will change. In the bright fortnight of this very month, Vaisakha (April-May) there occurs the sacred Mohini Ekadasi, which has the power to nullify sins as great and heavy as Mount Sumeru. If you follow my advice and faithfully observe a fast on this Ekadasi, which is so dear to Lord Hari, you will be freed from all the sinful reactions of many, many births.”
‘Hearing these words with great joy, Dhrishthabuddhi promised to observe a fast on Mohini Ekadasi according to the sage’s instructions. O best of kings! O Ramachandra Bhagavan! By fasting completely on Mohini Ekadasi, the once sinful Dhrishthabuddhi, the prodigal son of the merchant Dhanapala, became sinless. Thereafter he achieved a beautiful transcendental form and, free of all obstacles, rode upon the carrier of Lord Vishnu, Garuda, to the eternal abode of the Supreme Lord.
‘O Ramachandra! Fasting on Mohini Ekadasi removes the darkest illusory attachments to material existence. There is thus no better fast day in all the three worlds than this.'”
Lord Sri Krishna concluded, “O Yudhishthira! there is no place of pilgrimage, no sacrifice, and no charity that can bestow merit comparable to even one sixteenth the merit a faithful devotee of Mine obtains by observing Mohini Ekadasi. He who hears and studies the glories of Mohini Ekadasi achieves the merit of giving one thousand cows in charity.
Thus ends the Kurma Purana narration of Mohini Ekadashi.
Observing Mohini Ekadasi
This year Mohini Ekadasi falls on 15th of May 2019. We can observe Mohini Ekadashi by fasting from grains and chanting the mantra
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
at least 108 times which is one round of the mantra. The more rounds we chant the better it will be. In addition, we can allocate some time for reading ‘Bhagavad-Gita As It Is’ or any other book by Srila Prabhupada.
This Mohini Ekadashi we encourage you to fast from grains, chant Hare
Krishna and read Srila Prabhupada’s books. You will feel purified, enlightened and elevated.
May Sri Sri Radha Vrindavanchandra and Srila Prabhupada bless you! Hare Krishna!
Mother Sita was the daughter of Maharaja Janaka and the wife of Lord Rama. She was born on Vaishakha shukla paksha navami. Her appearance day this year falls on 13 May 2019. She was known for her beauty, noble qualities, good behavior and intelligence. Mother Sita was a chaste, devoted wife who insisted on accompanying her husband to the forest for fourteen years. She was a princess and it was not expected of her to make such a sacrifice but mother Sita loved her husband so much that she could not stay a moment without Him. She felt without Lord Rama, Ayodhya would be like a jungle and the forest where He stayed would be like a kingdom. Lord Rama tried to dissuade her by graphically describing the challenges of living in the forest but mother Sita insisted it was her duty to accompany Him.
Sage Valmiki’s Ramayana states that mother Sita was at Panchavati with Lord Rama and His younger brother, Lakshmana when Ravana, the king of Rakshasas, diverted Rama and Lakshmana by guile and cunning and abducted her to his kingdom, Lanka. Lord Rama along with Lakshmana, Hanuman and the Vanara Sena (monkey army) defeated Ravana and vanquished his entire dynasty with the help of Sugriva and Vibhishana. After the battle, Lord Rama enthroned Vibhishana as the king of Lanka. In the Yuddha Khanda of the Ramayana, we find the narration of the agni pariksha (trial by fire) of Srimati Sitadevi.
Lord Ramachandra, in order to set the ideal standard for the monarch, performed a pastime in which He put Mother Sita’s chastity to the test. Although Mother Sita is the Goddess of Fortune herself and without a tinge of impurity, It was the Supreme Lord’s wish to teach humanity a valuable lesson.
The End of Sita’s Ordeal
Hanuman delivered the news to mother Sita that Lord Rama had killed Ravana and very soon she would be freed from captivity. Jubilant, she eagerly awaited reunion with her beloved husband. There was a big procession organized by king Vibhishana, who was sent to escort mother Sita. As Mother Sita was carried in a palanquin in a grand parade, the residents of Lanka excitedly lined up on the main streets to catch a glimpse of her.
Seeing Lord Rama after the prolonged separation, her eyes welled up with tears of joy. Lord Rama was also very happy to see His beloved Sita. He had traveled far on an arduous journey and warred with the powerful Ravana because he had committed the offense of abducting her.
Lord Rama Speaks
It was an august gathering with the royalty of Lanka and the noble warriors who had fought the battle. There were also the citizens of Lanka. In that noble assembly, Lord Rama addressed Sita, “I have killed Ravana to establish the standard of proper human conduct. By kidnapping you Ravana brought disgrace to the great dynasty of Ikshavaku. Ravana’s death avenges the insult to that dynasty. Being a kshatriya I had the sworn duty to kill Ravana. I have done all this to set the ideal standard of human conduct and behavior. A ruler should be extremely sensitive to public criticism. His acts are expected to be above the highest standard of morality and conduct.”
A Heart Rending Pronouncement
Then Lord Rama then made a profound declaration devastating to Sita, “I have fought this battle, not for you but to establish dharma. By those very standards of dharma, I have decided that since you have lived under the shelter of another man for a long time, as a king of the dynasty of Raghu, of the dynasty of Ikshavaku, it would be improper for me to accept you as my wife again.”
Sita Wishes to Enter Fire
Mother Sita was shattered to hear these words from Lord Rama. Her tears of joy quickly turned to tears of sorrow. She prayed and begged Lord Rama saying that her chastity and character were unquestionable. Lord Rama was unrelenting. He made this proclamation publicly and he was not going to change His mind. Mother Sita begged Lakshmana saying that if Rama was not going to accept her, what was the use of living. She begged him to prepare a pyre and she wished to enter the fire. All the people assembled there were shocked by mother Sita’s wish. Women started crying and begging mother Sita to change her mind. Lakshmana was also angry at Lord Rama. He said mother Sita did not deserve this. Devatas assembled and pleaded with Rama. Brahma said that this was not right. But Lord Rama did not change his decision. He said, “I’ve appeared as a human being and I’m here to set the highest standard of human conduct”.
Lord Rama gave his consent to Lakshmana to build the pyre and set fire to it. Mother Sita paid her respects to Lord Rama circumambulating Him thrice, and then she offered respects to the assembled sages and devatas. She then circumambulated the fire. The people witnessing this scene were going mad with agony. Then mother Sita entered the fire. As the flames consumed her beautiful form, the people wept at the heart-wrenching act of Lord Rama.
Acharyas Explain Agni Pariksha
This is the most controversial part of Ramayana. People often ask, “Why did mother Sita have to go through this ordeal to prove herself?” In order to answer this question, one has to understand the scriptures with the help of Acharyas. We can comprehend mother Sita’s agni pariksha based on the purports of the Acharya.
Lord Chaitanya’s Meeting with Sri Ramadasa Vipra
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India
To shed light on this incident in Ramayana, we need to know about an incident in the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. During his extensive travels to preach the love of God, He went to Madurai, South India. There He met a brahmana called, Ramadasa Vipra, who was a great devotee of Lord Rama. Ramdasa Vipra was always reading the Ramayana and chanting Lord Rama’s name. When he used to read the Ramayana he would cry loudly.
Once Ramdasa Vipra had invited Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for ‘Bhiksha’ (taking prasadam) at his house. He welcomed Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and washed His feet but while engaged in his usual deep meditation on Lord Rama he had forgotten to cook. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu realizing that food had not been prepared asked Ramdasa Vipra about lunch. Ramdasa Vipra engrossed in the pastimes of Lord Rama said, “Lakshmana has gone to the forest and not returned bringing the fruits, vegetables, and roots required for preparation of the meal, so mother Sita has not cooked anything for lunch.” Ramdasa Vipra was so absorbed in ecstasy that he was almost deranged. Suddenly, Ramadasa Vipra awoke from his trance and realizing the situation quickly prepared lunch for Lord Chaitanya.
Lord Chaitanya Accepts Prasdam
Lord Chaitanya Pacifies Ramadasa Vipra
Lord Chaitanya saw that Ramadasa Vipra was always morose. After serving Him, Ramadasa Vipra continued to fast in a state of melancholy. When the Lord asked him the reason for his sadness, Ramdasa Vipra replied, “Ravana, the vile demon, has touched mother Sita. I cannot tolerate this. My body is burning with that pain and I cannot eat! I wish I would die.” He fasted feeling agonized by what had happened to mother Sita. At this point, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explained to him that Ravana could not as much as touch mother Sita for her form was pure spirit. He only kidnapped her maya-form that she had sent to him. This pacified Ramdasa Vipra and he finally took lunch.
Lord Chaitanya Finds Scriptural Evidence
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu continued his travel in South India and reached Rameshvara where He went to the Rameshvara Temple. At the temple, He saw brahmanas reading the Kurma Purana. They were discussing the verses from this text that described the kidnapping of mother Sita. In the Kurma Purana, it is said that mother Sita, was Adi Lakshmi, pleasure potency of the Lord, the Antaranga, Hladini Shakti of the Lord. She was not an ordinary human being. When she was about to be abducted by Ravana, she offered prayers to Agnidev, who immediately took her away and placed a ‘Chaya-Sita’ (illusionary Sita or duplicate maya-Sita) in her place. Ravana did not know this. He hastily captured the illusionary Sita. Ravana was not qualified to even touch mother Sita. He only kept illusionary Sita at his Ashoka Vana.
Explanation of the Kurma Purana
Actually, when Ravana came to kidnap mother Sita, she took shelter of the fire-god, Agni. The fire-god covered mother Sita’s body and protected her from the hands of Ravana. Agni took away the real Sita and brought her to his own abode. An illusionary form of mother Sita was then delivered to Ravana, and in this way, Ravana was cheated.
When mother Sita entered the pyre for agni-pariksha, her body was extremely effulgent. People were wonder struck. Their wailing stopped. From the agni, Agnideva personally took the illusionary Sita and returned the real Sita to Lord Rama. This is the truth about mother Sita.
The Transcendental Position of Sita & Rama
Sita Rama Alankara, ISKCON Bangalore
It was not possible for Ravana to even touch the lotus feet of mother Sita. Sita is the mother of the universe and the supreme goddess of fortune. Nobody can touch mother Sita. In fact, a person with material senses cannot even see her. When Ravana kidnapped her, he took only her material illusionary form.
Lord Rama is the Supreme Personality and He knew everything. He was just playing the role of a human. After the agni-pariksha, He accepted the real mother Sita. He took her back to Ayodhya, where He was coronated, King. Lord Rama set very high standards for human conduct and behavior with His exemplary qualities.
Hence we see how the Acharya’s purports to Shastra help us gain a deeper understanding of the scriptures. It is evident that mother Sita was not an ordinary human being. She was the pleasure potency of Lord Rama, who appeared on the earth to protect his devotees and establish dharma.
Akshaya means ‘that which does not diminish or perish’. Every year, Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated on the 3rd day of bright half of lunar month of Vaishakha. This year it is falling on 07 May 2019.
Akshaya Tritiya, according to the Vedic calendar, is a day considered to be conducive to success in any significant endeavour. Those aware of Akshaya tritiya’s benefits schedule major life events like marriages, initiations, business ventures, establishing a new place of residence on this day. It is a day bereft of all inauspiciousness. So even checking muhurthas is considered unnecessary.
It is auspicious because Akshaya Tritiya day is the birthday of 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Parashurama. According to description in Puranas, performing Shri Maha Vishnu Pooja on Akshaya Tritiya removes sin and helps in attaining salvation.
It would be interesting to note that several historical events occurred on this day. It was on Akshaya-tritiya that
Sudama, a poor brahmana, went to Dwaraka and met His childhood friend, Lord Krishna.
Mother Ganga descended to Earth
Lord Parashurama (an incarnation of Lord Krishna) appeared on Earth as did the sacred grain Barley.
Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas also received the gift of Akshaya Patra on this day from Vivasvan, the Sun God.
The great sage Srila Vyasadeva began composing the Mahabharata.
Devotees consider this day as a reminder to surrender whatever they have in the service of the Krishna. Somethings that devotees can particularly do on this day are to:
Offer Prasadam (Annadan) to family, friends or the people in general
Recite from spiritual scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavat Purana)
Bathing in a holy river
One should perform sraddha ceremony on the Akshaya-trtiya day. (Srimad Bhagavatam 7.14.21)
Begin a higher commitment to practice spiritual life by adding Japa, Kirtan and worship of the Lord to your daily life.
Visiting the temple to present an offering to Lord Krishna with devotion.
Akshaya-tritiya is an important day in Vedic culture as any donation performed for the right cause is declared to yield inexhaustible results.
Whatever services are offered to the Supreme Lord Krishna or His devotees on this day receives manifold eternal benefits. You can also take advantage of this festival and contribute to the historic project of Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir by clicking on this link http://www.vcm.org.in/join-hands-in-this-historic-endeavour
In this link you can choose any sevas that are most appealing to you like temple construction, Gauseva, or Annadan to Sadhus of Braj or general Public.
This day also marks the beginning of 21 day Chandana-yatra festival wherein the deities are covered with a sandalwood paste to cool their bodies in the hot summer season.
In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas lived in disguise in the palace of King Virata during their Ajnatavasa. After Bhima killed Kichaka, King Virata realised that the Pandavas were living in his palace. The king felt proud of them and made strong bonds of friendship with them. Once, the king expressed his desire to have a darshan of Lord Krishna with the Pandavas. Yudhisthira then advised the king to organise a boat journey in a lake for the amusement of Lord Krishna in summer months.
The king also organised to embalm the body of the Lord with sandalwood paste in fragrant water to comfort Him from summer heat. Satisfied with the devotion of King Virata, Lord Krishna arrived with his elder brother Balarama. The two Lords and the Pancha Pandavas enjoyed the Snana-yatra and rowing festival. Thus with the close association of Lord Krishna, the pious king fulfilled his devotional desire. To commemorate this incident, Lord Jagannatha (Krishna) enjoys Chandan Yatra with Pancha Pandava at the Narendra Sarovar. This festival is known as Chandan Mahotsava.
Lord Jagannatha gave direct instructions to King Indradyumna to perform this festival at this time.
Sandalwood paste is applied all over the body of Jagannatha leaving only his two eyes visible. The utsava murtis (functional Deities – Vijay utsav) are taken on procession and are placed in a boat in the temple pond. To commemorate this festival, Lord Caitanya also carried out water sports with his devotees.
On the day of Aksaya Tritiya in Vrindavan, all large Goswami Temple Deities are covered with chandan Paste. The festival is also celebrated in ISKCON Vrindavan temple. At Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir only the kautuka(small) Deities of Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha Vrindavanchandra are smeared completely with chandan(sandalwood paste), on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. All devotees, including children and pilgrims, are offered a chance to grind chandana for the pleasure of the Deities.