So the... Smaraṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ vandanam. Vandanam means offering prayer. And arcanam means... That is... Of course, you have no experience. But India there is arcanā of the Deity, installing Deity in the temples and worship from morning, half past four, till night, eleven. There are different kinds of worship. So either this worship or this prayer, they are called temple worship. Temple worship. Vandanam, offering prayer, is another sort of temple worship. So that is recommended. That was recommended in the Dvāpara-yuga.
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SB Canto 7
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura gives the following explanation in his Tathya. The word śravaṇa refers to giving aural reception to the holy name and descriptions of the Lord's form, qualities, entourage and pastimes as explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and similar authorized scriptures. After aurally receiving such messages, one should memorize these vibrations and repeat them (kīrtanam). Smaraṇam means trying to understand more and more about the Supreme Lord, and pāda-sevanam means engaging oneself in serving the lotus feet of the Lord according to the time and circumstances. Arcanam means worshiping Lord Viṣṇu as one does in the temple, and vandanam means offering respectful obeisances. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (BG 18.65). Vandanam means namaskuru—offering obeisances or offering prayers. Thinking oneself to be nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa, everlastingly a servant of Kṛṣṇa, is called dāsyam, and sakhyam means being a well-wisher of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa wants everyone to surrender unto Him because everyone is constitutionally His servant. Therefore, as a sincere friend of Kṛṣṇa, one should preach this philosophy, requesting everyone to surrender unto Kṛṣṇa. Ātma-nivedanam means offering Kṛṣṇa everything, including one's body, mind, intelligence and whatever one may possess.
Arcanam means worshiping Lord Viṣṇu as one does in the temple, and vandanam means offering respectful obeisances. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (BG 18.65). Vandanam means namaskuru—offering obeisances or offering prayers. Thinking oneself to be nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa, everlastingly a servant of Kṛṣṇa, is called dāsyam, and sakhyam means being a well-wisher of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa wants everyone to surrender unto Him because everyone is constitutionally His servant. Therefore, as a sincere friend of Kṛṣṇa, one should preach this philosophy, requesting everyone to surrender unto Kṛṣṇa. Ātma-nivedanam means offering Kṛṣṇa everything, including one's body, mind, intelligence and whatever one may possess.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
For fifty thousand people, there are five thousand temples, in one small city. And out of that, there are about dozen very big temples. Very... Just like fort. Very big temples. So temple worship is very popular in India. Similarly, you have got your churches here.
That is vandanam. Vandanam. Vandanam means offering prayers. You also offer prayer to the Supreme Lord. So that is also accepted as devotional service. Muslims also, they go to the Mosque and offer prayers to Allah. So practically... And in Buddhism... Lord Buddha is accepted as incarnation of Kṛṣṇa in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So we also, Hindus, we worship Lord Buddha as incarnation of God. There is a very nice verse recited by one great poet, Vaiṣṇava poet. You'll be glad to hear. I'll recite it.
You see? These are the process, very nice, susukham. There is no trouble. Decorate with flower, with dress, with ornaments and see and hear and eat very... You offer very nice foodstuff to Kṛṣṇa and then partake it. Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanam (SB 7.5.23). Vandanam means prayer. Of course, if you do not like, if you think, "This is Hindu system. We won't accept. We are Christian," all right, you go to church, sing there. You have got also songs of Bible. You can sing very nicely.
You'll be transferred to the spiritual kingdom. So we do not say that "This religion is good," "This religion is bad." In every religion there is some form of worship out of these nine. Just like in Christian church there is offering of prayers. We also offer prayer, and that is also recommended in the list: vandanam. Vandanam means offering prayers. Muslim also, they offer prayers in the mosque.
Therefore we have to take shelter of the Supreme, under whose lotus feet this mahat-tattva is also resting. Mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ. Puṇya-yaśaḥ. If you glorify Kṛṣṇa, then we become pious. Therefore there are so many prayers to be offered to Kṛṣṇa. That is bhakti. Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam, vandanam (SB 7.5.23). Vandanam means offering prayer. This is also bhakti-mārga.
These are called arcanam. Vandanam. If you cannot do this, then offer prayers. Just like in Christian church they offers prayers. That is also bhakti, devotional service. The Muslims, they offer prayers. Any way. Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam, arcanaṁ vandanam. Vandanam means offering prayer. Dāsyam. Dāsyam means to work as menial servant of the Lord. Dāsyam. Sakhyam, to make friendship with the Lord, just like Arjuna did. He treated Kṛṣṇa as his friend, and by making friendship with Kṛṣṇa he became liberated. Sakhyam. And ātma-nivedanam. Ātma-nivedanam means giving everything to the Lord, even his body, wealth, and everything, just like Bali Mahārāja did.
So this spiritual platform, to reach, requires gradually process of cultivation, and there is no difficulty to reach the spiritual platform. But first of all, the training of the mind is practiced by the yoga system. Yoga means to control the mind. Our mind at the present moment, being too much attached to this body, it is busy in bodily comforts. Therefore the real yoga system is to divert the mind towards God, to control the mind from material engagement and divert it to spiritual engagement, or bhakti-yoga. The bhakti-yoga practice are in different nine spheres, that,
- śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
- smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
- arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
- sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
- (SB 7.5.23)
This means that first of all we have to hear about God from authorized persons. Then kīrtanam. Kīrtanam means glorifying the activities of God. Then there are other. These two items are very important, and there are other items also. Smaraṇam-smaraṇam means meditation. Vandanam means offering prayer. So smaraṇaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyam arcanam. Arcanam, Deity worship. There are other items also. In this way there are nine items. So if one is interested to understand God, then he must take all these items or some of them or at least one of them.
So the most important item is śravaṇam, or hearing. If you do not do anything else, if you simply sincerely hear about God, then gradually you will be God conscious. That is also true in the material science. The students go to the school, college, and hear from the professor, and gradually he becomes learned in that subject matter. Especially in this age, śravaṇam, or hearing, is very, very important. We are therefore opening different centers in different parts of the world, and they are being given the chance of this bhakti-yoga system, śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam (SB 7.5.23), like that. So all these devotees present here, they are not Indians. I have not brought them from India; neither I have bribed them here. But by hearing only, they are now coming to God consciousness and devotees. Therefore this śravaṇam item, or hearing item, is very, very important. So if you all, ladies and gentlemen present here, take advantage of hearing about God from this institution, you will also become God conscious. We have got many sense organs, out of which the aural sense, or the hearing sense, is very important. Therefore, for spiritual understanding, we have to use this ear. So therefore the Vedic literature is called śruti. Śruti means to receive the knowledge by hearing. So our process, or the Vedic process, is that... Satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ (SB 3.25.25). If one lends his aural reception of spiritual knowledge through the authorized person, devotee, then he relishes taste in spiritual life. And when you cultivate that stage, then, gradually, he becomes a devotee, he understands what is God.
Another place, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Brahmā recommends,
- jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
- (jīvanti) san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
- sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir
- ye prāyaśo 'jita jito 'py asi tais tri-lokyām
- (SB 10.14.3)
The fact is God is called Ajita—nobody can conquer Him. But any person who gives up this process of mental speculation—that means "God may be like this. Perhaps God is like this. Perhaps this, perhaps this..." This is called mental speculation. We have to give up this mental speculation. Jñāne prayāsam means endeavor in mental speculation should be given up. One should submissively approach the spiritual master. Jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva. Namanta eva means submissively offering respect, obeisances. And after that, if you hear from the self-realized soul, jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva san-mukharitām. San-mukharitām means self-realized soul. From his mouth one has to hear. Bhavadīya-vārtām. In this way, although God is never conquered by anyone else, still, this man, who has adopted this process, he will conquer God someday. And who can conquer God? Only the devotees. Just like in Vṛndāvana, the gopīs, the cowherd boys, Mother Yaśodā, father Nanda and all of them, even the cows and calves, they conquered God, Kṛṣṇa. So this is the science of God, and we have got all these books translated into English, and other things are being translated in other languages. So we shall request you to understand, to hear about God. Then some day will come—you will understand what is God, what is your relationship with Him, and you will act accordingly. Then your life will be successful.