Akshay teej in Vrindavan, 16 May 2010

Anisha
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In Vrindavan, the form of worship or seva is Raga seva, Bhog seva and Sringar seva.

Akshay Teej is to be celebrated on 16th May 2010. Vrindavan has a special tradition for this day.

Sri Banke Bihari’s charan darshan is availabale only once a year on the day of Akshay Teej, Akshay Tritiya or Akha teej.

Singing and dancing at 6 am at Sri Banke Bihari temple, Vrindavan

Singing and dancing at 6 am at sri Banke Bihari temple, Vrindavan

Phool Bangla is also made on Akshay Teej at Sri Banke Bihari temple. And the deity is dressed in flowers only. That is to say, his clothes are made entirely of jasmine and oleander buds and roses. The jewellery and crown too are made of these buds woven into beautiful, intricate patterns.

Phool Bangla at Sri Radha Vallabh temple, Vrindavan

Phool Bangla at Sri Radha Vallabh temple, Vrindavan

Sri Radha Shyam Sundar at Iskcon temple in Vrindavan gives ample opportunity to devotees to participate in preparations for Akshay Teej celebration. The temple courtyard is full of devotees weeks in advance, who sit and make sandalwood and camphor paste. This paste is used for the deity’s abhishek. It is smeared in a thick layer on the deities, and floral embellishments are added. The idea is to comfort the Lord at the advent of summer. Summer is scorching here, therefore flowers, water fountains, sandalwood and camphor paste, cooling drinks and food preparations are served to the Lord.

How is Krishna worshipped in Vrindavan?

In Vrindavan, the form of worship or seva is Raga seva, Bhog seva and Sringar seva.

What is Raga seva?

Singing to the Lord is Raga seva. Sri Haridas (guru of emperor Akbar’s court musician Tansen) performed Raga seva at Nidhivan, and Sri Radha Krishna appeared before him, and later appeared as the deity Sri Banke Bihari in Nidhivan.

Raga seva is still seen in its pristine form at Sri Radha Raman temple and Sri Radha Vallabh temple in Vrindavan. Dhrupad Dhamaar, the older form of Hindustani music is popular at these temples. The contemporary version of Raga seva is found in bhajans sung by visiting devotees and resident Brajwasis. For instance, the good night arti or shayan arti at Sri Banke Bihari is observed by singing arti and verses (sawaiya and dohe) from the period when the deity had appeared. Click here to see some of the verses.

Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya, who discovered Sri Govardhan Nath ji at Govardhan hill also propogated Raga seva. He appointed 8 singers who came to be known as Asht-chhap sakhas, 8 of Krishna’s friends/sakhas. The blind poet and singer, Surdas was one of them. Kumbhan Das, Parmanand Das, Krishna Adhikari…

Meera Bai, a disciple of Saint Ravidas was completely absorbed in Raga seva. Her guru, was a shoemaker by birth and belonged to a low caste. The tradition of saints in India is way beyond the caste system. A saint from any caste or religion receives respect from one and all.

Why sing bhajans?

In singing to the Lord, devotees hold conversations with the divine. This uplifts their consciousness. God becomes a living, personal friend, instead of an all powerful entity hidden from human existence. The Lord’s proximity is felt through Raga seva form of worship.

What is Bhog seva?

Bhog seva is an offering of food to the divine. Later the food is distributed as prasad or sacred food. Bog seva also arouses the divine’s presence in the consciousness. Click to see Vaishnav cuisine, Bhog recipes.

What is Sringar seva?

Sringar seva means worshipping the Lord by offering clothing, jewellery and decorating the temple premises. Akarshati iti Krishna, goes a Sanskrit saying. This means: One who is all-attractive.

The soul’s search for the divine is emphasised through Sringar seva.

What is the purpose of worship?

God is known to be an omnipresent entity according to scriptures of all religions. The Vedas say through the Purush sukta: Om Sahastra-sheersha purushah. Salutations to the Lord who has manifested through all forms of the universe.

Bhakti yoga is present in all approach roads to God.

Such a powerful being that smiles through every face, sees through all eyes, speaks through all mouths, etc. is a truth no doubt. Such a manifestation of God succeeds in arousing awe and bliss in a wise man.

God came as Krishna to love and be loved by devotees. Love is the closest road to God. By worship and rituals of treating the deity as an honoured entity in one’s life, a devotee grows in love for the divine. The same divine who is omnipresent and omnipotent agrees to be loved in a particular form for the sake of experiencing the devotee’s love. This is one reason why worship or Bhakti yoga is present in all approach roads to God.




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