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The Minimum Standards of Worship

The Minimum Standards of Worship

In the Bhagavad-gītā (9.26) Lord Kṛṣṇa is explaining in a very specific way how He can be easily pleased. The emphasis in this verse is on what is the active ingredient. What is the active ingredient in worship? It is bhakti.“If it is offered with bhakti then I will accept that offering.”

Sometimes or even quite often we hear the question, “What is the minimum standard of worship of the Deities?” I like the answer of Gaura Keśava Prabhu to this question, it is very nice:

Śāstra gives different standards. The general standard is to offer sixteen upacāras (items or services). There is a list of these sixteen items which is a kind of a basic standard. However, there are also options because of circumstances or because one is worshiping a supportive Deity or worshiping the guru preliminary to the main worship. One might offer twelve items or ten or five or two or one item. So, then that one item must be the minimum?

Well, yes. But what is that one item? That one item is bhakti. And if there is bhakti, if there really is bhakti, then one would certainly not be asking the question, “What is the minimum standard?” If there is genuine devotion one would not think, “What is the least that I can do for Kṛṣṇa?” In other words, there is no minimum standard because minimum is bhakti, and where there is bhakti there is a natural desire to do something more, to have the feeling, “I have not done enough. What more can I do for Kṛṣṇa?”

—From an online Deity Worship Workshop for Bhaktivedanta Research Centre by Krishna Kshetra Swami, March 2, 2021.


Underneath Govardhana Hill

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam we find narrative descriptions of worship, and the most important one I would like to call attention to is Govardhana-līlā. What is interesting here is that it is initiated by Lord Kṛṣṇa himself as a way of subverting the Vedic worship of Lord Indra that had been going on.

We all know the story. Kṛṣṇa persuades his father and senior gopas to set aside that traditional worship of Indra, to divert the materials of worship to the worship of Govardhana, the hill. And then Kṛṣṇa Himself becomes the exemplary worshiper of Govardhana and He manifests Himself as a giant form of Govardhana to receive that worship.

And when the trouble begins with Indra’s overreaction, sending the sāṁvartaka clouds and rain, Lord Kṛṣṇa responds to the pleas of the devotees to protect them. He lifts Govardhana Hill with the greatest of ease on His left baby finger and holds it aloft for seven days and seven nights, and by doing this He becomes an object of worship, He becomes like a Deity, unmoving, practically speaking, accept for smiling and glancing and perhaps speaking with the gopas and the gopīs. But He is fixed in one place receiving the meditative worship of all the residents of Vraja for all of that time, non-stop.

This is a very special darśana of Kṛṣṇa, because the Vraja-vāsīs had been lamenting, “Whenever Kṛṣṇa goes to the forest we cannot see Him, when He is sleeping we cannot see Him, when He is going here or there we cannot see Him.” All of that longing is fulfilled in the temple which Kṛṣṇa created in the space underneath Govardhana Hill.

—From an online Deity Worship Workshop for Bhaktivedanta Research Centre by Krishna Kshetra Swami, March 2, 2021.


Completeness of Worship

If you see your Deity as an extension of the temple Deity where the worship is going on fully, with several offerings and āratis every day, then your worship becomes a small addition to that worship which is going on in the temple. Simultaneously in the course of your day with whatever duties you have to do you at any moment can be meditating, thinking of how the Lord is being worshiped in the temple right now, and in that way, you can be making a kind of connection which is a sort of completeness of the practice.

—From an online Deity Worship Workshop for Bhaktivedanta Research Centre by Krishna Kshetra Swami, March 2, 2021.