Bhakti Yoga by Deity Worship

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.03.49 - Bhakti Yoga by Deity Worship (download mp3)
by Radhika Vallabha Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

 SB 11.3.49
sucih sammukham asinah
pindam visodhya sannyasa-
 krta-rakso ’rcayed dharim

After cleansing oneself, purifying the body by pranayama, bhuta-suddhi and other processes, and marking the body with sacred tilaka for protection, one should sit in front of the Deity and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Pranayama is the authorized Vedic process for controlling the air within the body. Similarly, bhuta-suddhi is a process for purifying the body. The word sucih means that one should be internally and externally clean. Sucih means that one should perform activities only for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If somehow or other one can remember the Supreme Lord constantly by chanting and hearing His holy name, one will come to the pure stage of life, as described in this Vedic mantra:

om apavitrah pavitro va
 sarvavastham gato ’pi va
yah smaret pundarikaksam
 sa bahyabhyantara-sucih

(Garuda Purana)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has pointed out that although one may mark the body with sacred tilaka, perform mudras and chant mantras, if one is thinking within his mind of material sense gratification his worship of Lord Sri Hari is bogus. Therefore the word sucih here indicates that one should worship the Lord in a favorable frame of mind, considering the Lord to be sacred and one’s self to be an insignificant servant of the Lord. Those who are not favorably inclined toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead do not like to worship the Deity in the temple, and they discourage people from going to the temple of the Lord by saying that since the Lord is omnipresent there is no need to do so. Such envious persons prefer the gymnastic exercises of hatha-yoga or the raja-yoga system. But statements by the Lord Himself, such as vasudevah sarvam iti and mam ekam saranam vraja, indicate that in mature transcendental realization one understands that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the source of everything and therefore the only worshipable object. Thus the devotees who worship the Deity of the Lord according to the paƱcaratra system are not attracted by any yoga process except bhakti-yoga.

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