On Vaishnava Culture and Customs

On Vaishnava Culture and Customs

By Satyanarayana Dasa, primitively published at the Jiva Institute .
Question: previously, was there any distinction of dress between Gaudiya Vaishnavas and the regular population in India, and for the different varna ? What did people generally wear ? There seems to be no mention of grihastha dress in shastra, lone sannyasa attire .
Answer: There is no such thing as Vaishnava dress specifically. It is indian preen with Vaishnava identification-marks : a specific tilak and Tulasi kanthimala. Men besides wore shika, but it was not specific only for Vaishnavas, but basically for every male extremity of Hindu society. It was shaved only when one took Advaitavada sannyasa .
previously, before India had reach with the West or Western dress, there was no early dress code besides the normal dhoti for males, and sari and different types of skirts for females. largely, men did not have an upper berth dress except for a chador, besides called an uttariya or anga-vastra. fat people and royal people wore unlike type of shirts called angarakha ( or angaraksaka in Sanskrit, illuminated. defender of limbs, something like the bagal-bandi from the Vrindavan area ). Muslims introduced the kurta. Men wore diverse types of turbans. The style of dhoti, sari, skirts and turbans varied from region to region and besides from varna to varna. Most of these dresses did not need tailoring, and could be used by people of different sizes. They were easy to wash. In fact, the parole dhoti implies a fabric that is washed after wearing it once. These dresses were specially suitable for warmly climates.

therefore there is about no specific mention in Smriti shastra, such as Manu Smriti, about a dress code for grihasthas. One thing it does mention is not to have two kacchas, ( kaccha is the contribution of the dhoti or sari tucked in the back ). This implies that grihasthas wore dhoti with a kaccha, and not lungistyle, as is the character with sannyasi and babajis. It is besides prevent to worship the deity without a kaccha. Thus you will see that sannyasi do not do worship in South indian temples. The pujaris are grihasthas .
about all dress code is only specified for non-grihasthas, i.e., brahmachari, vanaprashtha and sannyasi .
Question: Sometimes the wonder is raised, “ Why do we have to follow indian Culture. God is not pendent on any acculturation, why do we have to put on tilaka, a dhoti and shave our heads ? ”
Answer: If you want to worship Paramatma, this is true. He does not care for any particular culture. But if you want to follow a specific shape of God, such as Krsna, Rama or Nrsimhadeva then you have to follow what they like. If you want to be with them then you have to do what they like. If you want to be a fan of the universal God, then you can be universal but if you want to be a fan of a specific form then you have to follow their principles. “ God ” may not have a culture, but Bhagavan has. You have to understand the dispute between God ( Paramatma ) and Bhagavan ( for which there is no english translation ). Don ’ thyroxine confuse these two. Don ’ triiodothyronine apply the principles of Paramatma to Bhagavan. Paramatma is universal and has no preferences. Bhagavan does have preferences .
“ God ” means Paramatma. Bhagavan is beyond God. Paramatma is a general expression of the Absolute Reality, and Bhagavan is very particular. Therefore Bhagavan has a specific culture which is related to his life and activities .
In his prayers to Krsna, Brahma said that Krsna was please with Putana because she was dressed as a gopī. She did not have the bhava of gopī, she was merely dressed as a gopī ( SB 10.14.35 ). We shouldn ’ thymine misconstrue that simply wearing a specific dress constitutes the sādhana to attain Bhagavan, but this does show that Bhagavān has preferences .
Putana incidentally dressed in a direction that pleased Bhagavan. Pleasing him was not her intention. Therefore his mercifulness on her is astonishing, and she is an exceeding exercise. The common thing is to intentionally try to please Bhagavan. That is bhakti sadhana. When bhakti is there, then one naturally does what is pleasing to Bhagavan. ( anukulyena krsna anu shilanam BRS 1.1.11 )
We may think of Bhagavan ’ second acculturation as “ indian culture, ” particularly those who are not amerind may think this way, but actually, Krsna appeared on a separate of the worldly concern that was not called “ India ” at the time. now we have divided the earth into then many countries. evening in holocene history India alone has been divided. About 65 years ago, Pakistan was part of India and about 45 years ago, Bangladesh was separate of Pakistan, but nowadays the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh do not think that Krsna was born in their nation, and they consider indian acculturation alien. Their forefathers did not .
similarly, once upon a meter, the whole earth was one unit, as can be seen from the determine of different continents. According to the Puranas besides, the whole worldly concern was known as Bharata Varsha, which is the official name of India. At that fourth dimension, if person lived on earth he was separate of the whole populace. There was alone one culture. belated on, it got bifurcated into sol many parts and now we consider the polish of one area “ foreign. ” Thus we think that the culture in which Krsna is born is “ indian culture, ” but in truth, there was a world culture at that time. There was no such thing as “ India. ”
And there were no other major religions at that time – neither Christianity, Islam nor Buddhism. And even in these religions, their traditional dress very much resembles traditional indian dress. All the cultures of the populace had like elementary dresses, basically cloth wrapped around the body, whether in Greece, Egypt or Israel .
furthermore, Vaishnavas accept that Krsna-lilaas everlastingly unfolding in many unlike universes. That means the preen Krsna wear and the culture he lived in is not “ indian ” – it is his. It is not that in our population he happened to appear near Delhi so he wore dhoti, but in another universe, He wears jeans or something else. Like the Sun, which looks the same no matter what area you see it from, Krsna appears in different universes and different diachronic periods, but He always wears the same snip. So it is not indian dress, it is His own ageless dress. It is not amerind culture, but His own culture.

Question:  Srimad Bhagavatam says ( 11.14.3 ) : “ Those who give up the effort for attaining perfection on the path of jnana ( brahman realization ) and barely bow down to you with their take care body and address by hearing your pastimes described in the scriptures, though remaining in their social position ( sthane sthita ), they conquer you, O Krsna, who are unconquerable by anyone in the three worlds. ”
What do you think about this sthane-sthita principle ? And what would you recommend for Vaishnavas to wear ?
Answer: I agree with the sthane sthita principle. I consider Osho as the most rebellious and irregular guru. Yet, even he had a dress code for his sannyasi. So sannyasi should always follow the dress code. Grihasthas can dress in whatever is commodious for them to function in the society. however, I will recommend that while doing puja in the temple one should put on the traditional amerind dress. And if meter and circumstances permit, one should wear traditional amerind attire to worship one ’ s personal deity in one ’ south own dwelling. It has some merit in it. While going out one can change into the dress accepted in the local company .
Question: When in the 10th Canto it says that Krsna liberated Putana because she came in the dress of a gopi, does that imply that lone Krishna ’ s devotees dressed like gopis and that there were no other women in Krishna ’ s times not devoted to him who wore this kind of dress ?
Answer: No. Putana ’ s dress reminded Krishna of the gopis. Any non-devotee gopi would have reminded Him of the gopis. So dress besides has some function to play and this must be recognized. By this, I am not saying that western devotees should go around in dhoti, but they should know its rate and wear it whenever they can. There is no need to rebel against it, as seems to be the shell sometimes .
Question: Is Hari Bhakti Vilasa a book for Gaudiya Vaishnavas or is it more for outsiders ? I am asking because it is full of varnashrama dharmic rules, while real bhakti is supposed to be beyond those rules. In effect, Hari Bhakti Vilasa seems to be aropa siddha bhakti .
Answer : Hari Bhakti Vilasa gives principles for Vaishnavas in general. It is a Vaisnava smriti not limited to Gaudiya Vaishnavism. It is not talking about aropa siddha bhakti. It gives principles for people who want to practice pure bhakti. however, it is assumes that one has varnashramabackground and therefore it may appear that it is speaking about varnashrama or aropa siddha bhakti. It should be noted that not everything it prescribes is applicable to Gaudiya Vaishnvas. It is a casebook. As with any casebook, one has to learn from one ’ s own teacher or school which principles are applicable and which are not, and to which extent. It is a book for practical principles which may need to be adjusted according to the circumstances of the practitioner .

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