Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vellore Iskcon Daily Schedule

Iskcon-Vellore Temple Daily Schedule
Daily Schedule
Early Morning Program
The early morning program, starting at 5:00h, is specifically recommended for serious spiritual seekers. According to the Vedic system this morning period, one and a half hours before sunrise, is called brahma-muhurta and spiritual activities performed at this time have a greater effect than at any other time of the day. It is at 5:00h that the Lord gives His first darsana (audience) of the day.
Following this darsana is Tulasi puja, or worship of Tulasi-devi, a most dear devotee of Krishna who has taken the form of the Tulasi plant. (In fact, it is an injunction of the Vedic scriptures that leaves of the Tulasi plant must be placed on each dish offered to the Deities of Sri Krishna, or His expantions.) The devotees chant special prayers while walking in circles around Tulasi-devi, and then end by singing the Hare Krishna maha-mantra for a few minutes more.
Next is Japa, or chanting rounds. The devotees use a string of beads called japa-mala, chanting one entire maha-mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare on each of the 108 beads on the string. These 108 beads are called one round and the initiated devotees within the Hare Krishna movement chant a minimum of sixteen rounds every day.
The most important aspect of japa is being attentive to the sound vibration. The audible chanting of the maha-mantra in the assembly of devotees is recommended for all genuine spiritual enthusiasts and this program will help you to chant effectively. This japa period is known to make one strong in spiritual life and joyous throughout the day.
Mid-Morning Program
At 7:00h the Deities give Their audience, for the second time of the day, in fresh attire, decorated with beautiful, fresh scented flowers and jewelry. The assembled devotees sing verses from the Brahma-samhita glorifying the Lord. These beautiful prayers, originally written by Lord Brahma, were recorded by George Harrison of the Beatles and His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada liked this recording so much that he asked for it to be played each morning during this darsana.
After paying obeisances to the Deities the devotees turn their attention to the murti (form) of Srila Prabhupada and offer their prayers and obeisances. This is called guru-puja (worship of the spiritual master). Following guru-puja is an ecstatic kirtan where all the devotees join in to congregationally chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and dance, joyously, in front of the Deities.
The last section of the morning program is class. At this time a distinguished speaker from the temple community recites verses from the ancient Vedic text, Srimad-Bhagavatam, discussing the intricate meaning of the text and its relevance to our day-to-day life. On the weekends, and for special occasions, other important texts may also be recited and discussed.
Following class is breakfast, which is served in the temple room and always ecstatic. If you weren´t able to make it for class, or before, then a small donation will be requested for having breakfast.
Lunch Program
The lunch program starts at 12:30h with darsana of the Deities and congregational singing. This is one of the more popular times for guests who are able to visit during their lunch breaks from work. After kirtana (the congregational chanting of the Lords names) there is an introductory class explaining the philosophy and culture of the Hare Krishna movement; this usually finishes with a questions and answers session. (Any of the temple devotees will be happy to answer your questions at any time, or lead you to someone who can, should you not want to ask during this session.)
After the introductory class lunch is served for all those who have attended; if you couldn´t make it earlier, to participate in the class, then a small donation will be requested for taking lunch at this time.
Evening Program
The evening program is yet another chance to immerse yourself in the bliss of Krishna consciousness. This begins at 18:00h with a class on the Bhagavad-gita. The teachings of Bhagavad-gita are considered to be the abcs of spiritual life. Being conversant with this text, therefore, is a must for the serious practitioner. This class often finishes with a questions and answers session taking us up to 19:00h when there is another opportunity for having darsana of the Deities.
This is another favorite of our guests who come to hear Bhagavad-gita and then dance in exctasy. This kirtana, sung in front of the Deities, is called Gaura-arati. It is a seven-verse prayer written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and is sung with a special melody meant for this particular time of the evening. Gaura-arati is a prayer glorifying Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the most merciful incarnation of the Lord, who began this sankirtana movement (the Hare Krishna movement) five hundred years ago in West Bengal, India.
After Gaura-arati many devotees like to prepare for taking rest. It can be a hard schedule, even for those who have been doing this for many years, but the reward cant be measured. The treasure of following this daily routine can be profoundly felt by all those who follow it. Protecting this schedule by taking rest early can be an important part of maintaining ones spiritual life.
You are welcome to come and experience any part of our daily program. By taking part and benefiting from the ecstatic mood and wonderful association you are guaranteed to gain something very special.
Sunday Love Feast
The Sunday program is an integral part of every temple, as it´s on this day that the entire Hare Krishna community tend to come to the temple to serve the Lord, chant His holy names, dance in ecstasy and feast on the delicious prasadam (food prepared and offered to the Lord).
Sundays morning program is the same as the rest of the week. From then on, though, it´s particular to Sundays. The normal lunch program doesn´t happen on Sundays, but instead, what has been called the ‘Sunday Love Feast’, takes place.
It starts at 15:30h with temple resident devotees sing bhajans (sweet devotional songs) in the temple room. These always create a very deep and spiritual atmosphere, setting the mood for the rest of the program. At 16:30h there is Dhoop-arati (singing and service to Their Lordships), followed by a lecture, usually given by a distinguished guest-speaker and always by a senior devotee with a deep understanding of Krishna consciousness.
After the lecture comes the part of the program everyone is eagerly waiting for: the prasadam feast. This is served in the temple room and restaurant by temple residents and guest volunteers.
Following the feast, from 18:00 to 19:00h, is a question and answers session in the temple library; usually hosted by the speaker from the lecture. Then Gaura-arati at 19:00h as described above. (If one is quick enough, they can catch the flower garlands worn by Their Lordship´s at the end of this arati.)
You are welcome to come and experience any part of our daily program. By taking part and benefiting from the ecstatic mood and wonderful association you are guaranteed to gain something very special.
Finally, there is reading from Krishna Book in the temple room until 21:00h, when the final arati starts. This is the final darsana of the day with Their Lordships dressed in Their night dress. The lights are dimmed and the atmosphere is always very special.

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