Create a Sacred Space

Well, there’s no place like home, especially if you make it into a temple. In Sanskrit, a temple is known as a mandir – a place which helps the mind become steady and peaceful. Most of us cannot live in actual temples and often find it difficult to even visit regularly. Therefore, it is essenti al that we transform our homes into a sanctuary where we can reflect, refocus and rejuvenate.

Being at home should aid our remembrance of Krishna. Keeping the home clean, tidy and uncluttered always helps the mind become peaceful. We can also set up a special altar dedicated to Krishna which becomes the central hub of our spiritual activity. This sacred space can inspire our devoti on, especially if we beautify it with pictures, incense, candles and flowers. On rising in the morning one can visit the altar and offer respect. Food offerings to Krishna can be placed on the altar. The family can come together for chanting, reading and discussion in front of the altar. The time we spend here helps prepare us for the world, and it’s the place where we return for shelter and reflection.

We can certainly put pictures of Krishna on the altar, but devotees also try to develop a sweet and personal relationship with Him by inviting the Deity into their homes. Vedic scriptures explain that God can reside in marble, metal or wood, if He is invited and worshipped according to authorised prescriptions. Some people doubt that God can appear in this way. To them it seems limiting, imaginary and childish – to treat God like a doll by dressing Him and feeding Him. Anyone, however, who enters this kind of transcendental exchange, can personally experience a deep and direct reciprocation. The Deity is not simply a representati on or an icon, but an actual manifestation of the divine personality.

Setting up an altar

Setting up an altar at home means receiving the Lord and His pure devotees as your most honoured guests. In the Padma Purana Lord Krishna says, “I am not in Vaikuntha [the spiritual world], nor in the hearts of the yogis. I stay where My devotees glorify My activities.” This means we all have the opportunity to welcome Krishna into our homes. What was possible five thousand years ago is possible even now.

Where should you set up the altar?

The ideal place would be clean, well lit, and free from household disturbances. If possible, you could setup your altar in a room specially dedicated to Krishna. If not, a wall shelf, mantle-piece, corner table, or book case can be suitable places for an altar.

What do you need to set up your altar?

Here are the essentials:
1.  A picture of Srila Prabhupada.
2. A picture of Lord Chaitanya and His associates.
3. A picture of Radha and Krishna.

The first person we worship on the altar is the spiritual master. The spiritual master is not God, but because he is Krishna’s dear most servant and representative, he deserves the same respect as that given to God. We own an immense debt of gratitude to Srila Prabhupada. His books, lectures and life teachings, bring us closer to Krishna. As the founder and spiritual guide of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, he is the instructing guru of us all.
The second picture on your altar should be of the Pancha-Tattva; Lord Chaitanya and His four principal associates. Lord Chaitanya is the incarnation of God in this age. He is Krishna Himself, descended in the form of a devotee to teach us how to surrender to God. Lord Chaitanya s the most merciful incarnation, for He makes it easy for anyone to attain love of God through the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.

And of course, your altar should have a picture of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, with His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani. Srimati Radharani is Krishna’s spiritual potency. She is Krishna’s most beloved devotee, and anyone who takes shelter of Her can learn how to serve Krishna best.

You can arrange the pictures in a triangle, with the picture of Srila Prabhupada on the left , and the picture of Lord Chaitanya and His associates on the right. The picture of Radha and Krishna should be slightly larger and higher than the others, and placed in the centre. You can perform daily worship at the altar by off ering such items as
incense, water, fruits, and cooked food. You can perform your daily spiritual activities (chanting, reading, singing etc.) in front of the altar.

Inviting the Deity

As we become established in our bhakti -yoga practices, we can invite Krishna into our homes through the medium of His Deity form. By acquiring and worshiping a stone, metal, or wooden Deity, we create more opportunities for service, and can deepen our personal connection with Krishna. However, we should worship this form with caution. Srila Prabhupada wrote to one disciple, “Never think of the Deity as made of stone or wood. Every worshiper must remember that Krishna is personally present. He is simply kindly presenting Himself before us in a way so that we can handle Him. That is His mercy; otherwise, He is unapproachable.”


Published onMonday, May 31st, 2021

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