Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.
Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita that if one offers him with devotion a leaf, fruit, flower or water with love and devotion He will accept it. This verse encourages everyone to take to the path of devotional service highlighting the simplicity of devotional service. Devotees all over the world offer these four items by keeping them in front of the Lord's picture/deity form and chanting the offering prayers. However, offering these four items to the Lord does not end with this alone. By performing sincere devotional service, we can offer these four items to the Lord always in our lives. This is explained by great acharyas as follows.
Patraṁ (Leaf):- Offering of leaf is not limited to offering Tulasi leaves, Cooked spinach leaves alone. In the verse 15.1 of the Gita, the Lord compares the material manifestation to a tree and the Vedas to the leaves of the tree. (chandāṁsi yasya parṇāni). So, reading and teaching of the Vedas to other is equivalent to offering of leaf to the Lord. And in Kali yuga, we don't have the time and intelligence to go through all the Vedic shakas and understand them. In Kali Yuga the essence of the Vedas is available in the form of Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita and Sri Isopanishad and Srila Prabhupada has made them very simple by his wonderful commentaries. Whenever we read, understand and explain these scriptures (which are compared to leaves) to others (considering ourselves as humble servants of our acharya), the Lord accepts this service as offering of leaf to Him.
puṣpaṁ (Flower):- While we can offer different kinds of flowers like Rose, Jasmine and lotus flowers to the Lord and decorate His deity/picture manifestation, the scriptures give us the list of eight metaphorical flowers which are very dear to Lord Vishnu and cause great delight to Him. In the Pancaratra text it is mentioned:
ahiṁsā prathamaṁ puṣpaṁ puṣpaṁ indriya nigrahaḥ
sarva bhūta dayā puṣpaṁ kṣamā puṣpaṁ viśeṣataḥ
jnānam puṣpaṁ tapaḥ puṣpaṁdhyānaṁ puṣpaṁ tathaiva
ca satyam aṣtavidham puṣpaṁ viṣṇo prītikaram bhavet
The flower of non-violence is the first and foremost (prathamam); The second is the flower of sense control; The third is the flower of showing compassion to all living beings; The fourth is the flower of tolerance/patience which is very special; The fifth flower is transcendental knowledge; The sixth is the flower of austerity; The seventh is the flower of contemplative meditation on the Lord; The eighth is the flower of truth (speaking according to scriptures); these eight kinds of flowers delight Lord Vishnu and are very dear to Him.
In our spiritual lives, whenever we endeavor to develop one/more of these qualities to the best of our capacity and according to our situation, the Lord accepts this endeavor as offering of most delightful flowers to Him.
Phalaṁ (Fruit):- While offering of fruits means offering Apple, Orange, Bananas etc., it is not limited to offering of these fruits alone. The Lord states that one should offer the fruits of his activities to Him. There are different activities such as activities for bodily maintenance such as job, and taking care of the family, religious activities etc.
When we do these activities immaculately well as offering to Him, without attachment to the fruits, the Lord accepts these activities as offering of fruits to Him. Also, when we seriously study Srimad Bhagavatam which is the ripened fruit of Vedic Literatures and explain to others, the Lord accepts this service as offering of fruit to Him. Making contribution in any form to spiritual cause also is accepted as offering of fruits by the Lord.
Toyaṁ (Water):- While offering of water includes offering water, milk, fruit juices to the Lord, it is not limited to these items alone. The Lord wants everyone to purify the heart completely so that we'll shed tears on hearing His holy name, fame, qualities etc. The Lord happily accepts these tears as offering of water to Him. We cannot imitate this act of shedding tears till we are completely purified. However, in conditional life, due to envious nature, we shed tears (internally and sometimes externally also) by seeing other's prosperity and well-being. It is unbearable to us. When we stop/reduce these tears, the Lord accepts this improvement as offering of water to Him.
Thus, the process of devotional service is so wonderfully designed by the Lord and the great acharyas that when we execute the different activities of devotional service sincerely, we'll attain the stage where our entire life becomes an offering to the Supreme Lord. The pure devotees and the spiritual master are living examples for a life of such offering.
Though I am spiritually weak and insincere in following any of the devotional principles mentioned above, I pray at the lotus feet of our all merciful Guru Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada and all devotees to shower their mercy so that I can become a bit sincere in devotional service.
Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna das
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