The title of this book, Arcana-dipika, means "the lamp that illuminates arcana." The term arcana signifies honor or worship. It is one of the nine processes of devotional service, and refers to worshiping the Deity form of the Lord. Arcana- dipika teaches us exactly how this service is performed and how to please the Lord through this process of worship. By the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Six Gosvamis and other contemporary followers of Sriman Mahaprabhu, and more recently, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, the process of Deity worship, which is the authentic method of approaching Sri Bhagavan, has been successfully introduced to the entire world. Arcana-dipika was originally presented in Bengali by Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja and then translated into Hindi by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. Those versions were written for a readership already familiar with some of the methods and procedures of arcana. In this translation, the English edition, we have included supplementary explanations for the understanding of those who are unfamiliar with the Vedic culture and the traditional methodology used in the process of arcana. Additionally, because the Vedic system is orthodox and may appear extremely rigid from the perspective of people of other backgrounds, as far as possible we have tried to organize and simplify the procedures while preserving the original method.
Here, we must include a word of caution. Although Arcana- dipika teaches the process of worshiping the Deity, arcana cannot be practiced by merely following this book. In order to practice arcana in its pure form, in such a way that it awakens bhakti, one needs to be initiated by a bona fide spiritual master. It is by the grace of such a pure devotee that a person in the conditioned state is able to obtain the qualification to worship the Deity of the Lord.
It is a privilege to be admitted into the circle of those who have established a relationship with Sri Bhagavan and who daily offer their worship to Him. This process of arcana is a prescribed method to easily develop prema-bhakti, the innate propensity of the jiva to love God. By engaging in this process under the inspiration and guidance of sri-guru, there is a gradual awakening of affection in the heart for one's worshipable object, and the blossoming of hope to attain suddha-bhakti, unalloyed devotion to Krsna.
Those new to the process of Deity worship may find this book somewhat challenging. There are many details to the worship and new words that could be intimidating at first glance. We recommend that you read the book through once and get an overview of the entire system. To make the book more user friendly, we have added our footnotes for further clarity, and there is a glossary to help you learn the different terms. We have also included separate, laminated reference cards in the back of the book. These cards will help by giving you step-by-step procedures for different aspects of the worship without having to constantly refer to the book. As you begin to perform the worship regularly, most of the procedures will quickly become second nature to you. We pray that this edition of Arcana-dipika meets the standard of worship shown in the original Hindi edition and is accessible for the English speaking devotees who use it.
It is enjoined in the sastras, "sampradaya-Vihina ye mantras te viphala matah - Mantras which are not received from a guru- parampara, or bona fide disciplic succession, yield no result." The chanting of such inauthentic mantras does not lead to perfection. Therefore, Sri Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the embodiment of all auspiciousness, has displayed unlimited compassion towards the jivas of Kali-yuga by introducing the topmost process of sadhana-bhajana. In this age of Kali, our sole object of consideration for the benefit of the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava community in the line of Madhvacarya is the process of worship, especially the rules and regulations recommended by the original Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the saviour of the fallen souls. These teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu have been presented to us in the form of authorized sastras through the medium of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami ,Gopala- bhatta Gosvami and other Vaisnava acaryas.
Sri Bhagavan Himself is the only worshipable object of the Vaisnavas. Only those who are initiated into the Visnu-mantras, in other words, who have received visnu-diksa, and who engage in the worship of Visnu are Vaisnavas. Therefore, the acceptance of Visnu-diksa; and the consequent engagement in the worship of Visnu is the primary symptom of Vaisnavism. It is imperative for an initiated person to embrace and relish the prescribed conduct and obligatory duties of the Vaisnavas, which have been presented upon the merciful order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by the Vaisnava acaryas in the form of fresh butter churned from the sastra-ocean. It is mentioned in various sastras that all people from the four varnas and asramas have the right to become Vaisnavas by accepting the Visnu-mantras and then engaging in the worship of Visnu. All the fruitive endeavors of an uninitiated person are meaningless.
Due to not having received Visnu-diksa, such a person has not established a relationship with Sri Bhagavan and therefore cannot be acknowledged as a bona fide Vaisnava. Only when sambandha-jnana, or knowledge of one's relationship with the Lord, awakens after undergoing the regulative principle of initiation (diksa-samskara) and receiving the Visnu-mantras in accordance with the sastric injunctions is one genuinely established as a true Vaisnava. The chanting of the maha-mantra does not depend upon any rule or regulation related to the formal acceptance of initiation. If we can attain perfection simply by chanting the names of Sri Bhagavan, what, then, is the need of accepting formal initiation? Many people have the misconception that there is no need.
The process of diksa awakens in the heart of the jiva as a particular relationship with Sri Bhagavan. By the influence of that relationship, ignorance of one's constitutional identity (avidya) and other unwanted habits and thoughts (anarthas) vanish in sequence. Without undergoing upanayana, the purificatory procedure (samskara) of receiving a sacred thread, the son of a brahmana does not possess the eligibility to study the Vedas. It is only after receiving this reformatory process of accepting diksa initiation (upanayana) that he obtains the necessary eligibility. Similarly, an uninitiated person does not possess the necessary qualification to perform the worship of Sri Bhagavan. Only after accepting diksa does he obtain the eligibility. Transcendental knowledge awakens in one's heart by the effect of receiving diksa and he truly becomes a human being. Diksa-samskara enlightens one in transcendental knowledge (divya-jnanam) and destroys one's accumulation of unlimited sins (papa-sanksa). Therefore, those who know the truth call this process diksa.' As a chemical reaction turns bronze into gold, by receiving diksa a person attains the status of being twice-born. Hence, it is imperative to accept initiation and thus establish a particular relationship with Sri Bhagavan. By destroying the sins and sufferings of a weak-hearted jiva and by purifying and enlightening him, the process of diksa first elevates him to the material mode of goodness (sattva-guna) and ultimately establishes him in the stage of transcendence.
Guru- padasrayas tasmat Krsna-diksadi siksanam- it is one's foremost duty to take shelter of the lotus feet of a sad–guru, who is thoroughly established in a bona fide disciplic succession, and then accept initiation from him. The guru is non-different from a manifestation of Sri Hari. Bhagavan Sri Hari Himself is the guru of all jivas. If the guru is pleased with someone, Sri Bhagavan will; also be pleased with that person. If Bhagvan is displeased with someone, he can still be protected by a sad-guru, but if the guru displeased with someone, then even Sri Bhagavan cannot protect him. Guru-krpa, or the mercy of the guru, is the exclusive hope for a person who has taken shelter of him. Gurus can be classified into three categories: sravana-guru, diksa-guru, and sikas-guru. Sri guru, the worshipable Deity (Bhagavan) ,and the mantra serve the same purpose . One who considers them to be separate will not attain perfection. Hence, by understanding guru-tattva in truth and thus accepting shelter of the guru's lotus feet as recommended in the sastra, one is sure to be liberated from the bondage of material existence. By taking shelter of the lotus feet of a sad-guru, a jiva can achieve the topmost goal (parama-purusartha).
Brahma Sutras (79)
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