Sentiments Before Dawn (Part 1): Preparing the Consciousness

It's an early rise for the monastic community at Bhaktivedanta Manor. By 4.30am the residents, and a few early risers from outside, are assembled in the temple room for the pre-dawn acts of worship. When entering the temple room, first one pays respects to the Srila Prabhupada, the founding guru/teacher, and then to Krishna/God in His deity forms. As the worship begins the Guruvastakam prayers are sung in sanskrit, before the names of God are chanted. One sings while gazing upon the ceremony of worship taking place on the altar. Bells ring and the conch shell is blown marking the conclusion of the ceremony. After a series of honours are proclaimed the prayers to the avatara (a descending form of God), Nrsimha are chanted. The morning rituals are them complete with the ritual of Tulasi worship, which is a sacred plant. As God in the bhakti tradition is famously known as bhava-grahi or he who responds to the devotional sentiments of his followers, it is considered all important what the devotees feel within themselves during these early hours. The songs and rituals chosen and prescribed for the adherents do serve a purpose in relation to one's inner cultivation.By reflecting on the sentiments the songs and acts aim to provoke, says a lot about the inner substance that is important and meaningful to God.
In my next few blogs I would like to openly reflect on the meaning of these pre-dawn rituals and songs, and what they want of me in terms of my inner sentiments. So we begin with entering the temple room.

Bow Down Mister

Bowing on entering the temple and then before the guru and God, preserves the sanctity of the space and the approach of the disciple. In this respect, reverence and personally humility are essential. The routine and movements are no more than just that, unless there is a conscious participation. The immediate respect of the sacred space (the temple room), where beneficial acts are to take place, acts that deserve importance, priority, and my keen attention. The preserve of this space is progressive spirituality, the attentiveness and reverence provoked by bowing on entrance ensures that engagements opposed to or indifferent to devotion, will not easily manifests themselves here or within my mind. The worshipper is somewhat more attentive and on guard due to this initial bowing down.

The respect felt and expressed by bowing is also a sign to the guru and God, one which will draw their attention and benevolence towards us. As God is known by the teachings of the guru, the guru or gurus,receive the first respect. In this way the ritual order prevents one from independently or haphazardly approaching God, perhaps in a speculative or uneducated manner; one which might detriment the disciple or offend God. Even the accomplished devotee, will not lack gratitude for their teachers because of the repetitive demands of this ritual. The teachers are therefore never minimalised, and their role is reinforced by the example set in paying respects by those who are accomplished.

As God exists beyond the grasp and comprehension of our minds and senses, being absolutely independent, known only to those whom he chooses to be known by; what can we place before him other than a humble appeal. There is no currency of value in this desire for relations other than a petition which does not ignore our absolute dependency. The sentiment expressing our need and lack, is humility. Without humility there is nothing else that will suffice or stand as a fair payment for what we want in exchange,we can only appeal with humility. I understand that I want, but I have nothing, nothing to give in return nor eligibility to have, therefore I speak with absolute dependency. This is humility. It is the starting point, the admission of poverty,and from here we enter. So before all other acts of worship take place, one bows down on entering the temple room. By doing so one cultivates the immediate and essential sentiment before acts of worship begin, acts which will be no more than a fruitless routine unless they contain the substance of personal humility.

Meditation: I bow down in need and without eligibility,with humility, and pray entrance to your temple.

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