Early History of The Vaishnava Faith and Movement in Bengal.
Sushil Kumar De.

Excerpt from: page 465 to page 471

Hari Bhakti Vilasa

Vilasa V

In this Vilasa Gopala Bhatta proposes to describe mainly the Tantric method (prayasa tantriko vidhih) of daily morning worship of Gopala-deve, as given in the Karmadi-pika by means of the Mantra of eighteen syllables (mentioned above) pertaining to the deity. We are informed that this method is followed even by Brahmans; for in the Kali-yuga worship is possible, according to the Visnu-yamala, only through the way of the Agama, and not by the Srauta or Vedic method.

The chapter begins with the worship of the Attendants (Parsadas/Parishadas) of Krsna, namely, Garuda, Dvara-laksmi, Chanda Prabala, Dhatr and Vidhatr, Jaya and Vijaya, Bala and Prabala, Vaastu-purusha, Ganga and Yamuna, Sankhanidhi and Padmanidhi, Ganapati, Durga, Sarasvati, and Kshetrapalas at the door and at different parts of the temple. The worshipper should then enter by putting his right foot forward, and without touching the threshold with his feet. He should then worship Brahma and the Vaastu-purusa, as well as the special Parsadas of Krsna inside the room. He should throw some rice and flower with appropriate Tantric Mantra before the image, and take his seat in the Padmasana or Svastikasana posture after greeting (Amantrana) and worshipping (Archana) the deity with proper formulas. If there is an image he must sit facing it; otherwise, he should turn his face towards the east in the daytime and towards the north in the evening. The seat (Asana) may be made of various materials, e.g., bamboo, stone, wood, earth, Kusha-grass, leaves etc., of which the skin of antelopes and tigers, woolen blankets, or mats of Kusha grass are preferable. Thus seated, he should place the requisites of worship, such as conch-shell, the plates and pots for Arghya, Padya, Achamaniya and Madhuparka, the basin for Tulasi leaves, sandal and flowers, the pitcher filled with water, ghee, oil, lamps etc. in their respective places. The utensils may be made of gold, silver, earth and bell-metal, but copper is the most desirable material. In this connection Gopala Bhatta refers to the view of some people who prefer other metals to copper for holding the Madhuparka, on the ground that copper wares are spoiled by the products of cows milk. Some like to use the conch-shell as the receptacle.

The auspicious pitcher (Mangala-ghata) properly filled with water and accompanied by a piece of stone, camphor and fruits, is to be placed before the deity. Directions are also given for placing sandal, flower, rice, Kusha grass, honey, milk, water etc. in the different utensils for the offering of Arghya, Padya, Achamaniya and Madhuparka. Each of these utensils should be protected by muttering the Mula-mantra eight times and performing the Chakra-mudra on them. After reciting the Mangala-santi Mantra and the Astra-Mantra (astraya phat) for averting evils and accidents, clapping the palms of ones hands thrice and doing obeisance to the Guru and the different Gods and other preliminary ceremonies, the devotee should perform the Bhuta-suddhi (purification of the five elements) in the Tantric manner, practice control of breath (Pranayama) and engage himself in the contemplation of Krsna. Next comes the repetition of the Mula-mantra; but unaccompanied by the Nyasas, the repetition is fruitless. The process of performing such Nyasa as Matrka-nyasa, Kesavadi-nyasa, Tattva-nyasa, Pitha-nyasa, Anga-nyasa, Aksara-nyasa, Pada-nyasa and Rsyadi-nyasa, as well as the description of the forms, Saktis and Dhyanas, are then given in some detail. For instance, in the Matrka-nyasa all letters of the alphabet from a to ks are to be placed on the petals of the six lotuses on ones body, as well as on the different limbs. In the Kesavadi-nyasa, the letters are to be placed on the fifty-one forms of Krsna and his Saktis. Regarding the use of the different parts of the body in the different Nyasas, Gopala Bhatta does not find any objection in placing them on such forbidden parts as the feet or anus, because they all get sanctified by the process of Bhutta-suddhi. Then the devotee proceeds to perform the five kinds of Mudra dear to the Lord (namely, Venu, Vanamala, Srivatsa, Kaustubha and Bilva) and meditate on Krsna with the Mudra, called Kara-kachchapika, by placing the hand with the palm upward on his lap. This meditation or mental worship (Antar-yaga or Manasa-puja) consists of various operations; and the various articles of worship, which are employed in the external worship, may also be utilised in the internal.

The objects of outward worship are the image of the deity and the Salagrama stone. The image (Murti) may be of various kinds according to the material out of which it is constructed, namely, stone, wood, metal, sand, jewels, paint and drawing material, besides being purely mental (Manomayi). The special characteristics, which confer upon an image the names of Vasudeva, Kesava, Narayana etc., are the enumerated; and twelve principles varieties are distinguished, some authorities like Siddhartha-samhita giving as many as twenty-four varieties of the image of the Deity.

The special kinds of dark-coloured stone found in the region round the banks of the Gandaki are termed Salagrama. They are distinguished according to their size, colour and other characteristics, but the merits and demerits are spoken of only in connection with Sakama worship meant for the attainment of some mundane object; for, however defective a Salagrama stone may be, it possesses in itself sanctity and merit. They are also termed Vasudeva, Keshava, Narayana etc.  in accordance with the special signs or characteristics they possess. These signs are enumerated in detail, and the list of names include most of the well known names of Krsna, his Associates and Avataras. The smaller the stone is in size, the more auspicious it is. The worship of one Salagrama is said to be more efficacious than that of thousands of Siva-linga. The purchase and sale of Salagrama are strictly forbidden. Its worship is compulsory (nitya); an even women and Sudras and entitled to worship, the prohibition being applicable only to those who are non-Vaishnavas. Greater merit may be attained by worshipping the Salagrama along with the symbolic stone known as Dvaraka-sila. The latter is characterized by the thirteen names of Krsna and his Associates, such as Sudarsana, Laksmi-narayana, Trivikrama, Janardana, Vasudeva, Pradyumna, Baladeva, and Purushottama. Nava-vyuha, Dasa-murti, Aniruddha, Dvadasatmaka and Ananta, according as the stones possess increasing number of circular lines or Chakras from one to thirteen or more. The merit of their worship may vary with variation in their size and colour.

Vilasa V1
This chapter deals with the operations relating to the daily morning worship of the image of the deity and its bathing and washing. Though the Salagrama worship is declared to be superior to image-worship, yet the latter has its importance, because it attracts the mind easily by its form and beauty. The images are self-revealed (svayam-vyakta) or established by some pious devotee (sthapita), of which the former is rare.

The process in its stages is then described in detail. First comes the Samskara of the image. This is done by washing it with water, if it is not of a kind other than Lepya or Lekhya (i.e., meant to be besmeared or painted); and the Mula-mantra is to be repeated during the act eight times. This is called Murti-suddhi or purification of the image; but the purification may also involve (I) self purification (Atma-suddhi), which follows as a direct result, (ii) purification of the place of worship (Sthana-suddhi), (iii) purification of articles employed in worship (Dravya-suddhi), (iv) purification of the formula of incantation (Mantra-suddhi) and (v) purification of the mind (Chitta-suddhi) by the relinquishment of every other thought. These six forms of Suddhi are permissible as auspicious, and they are to be performed according to the custom of ones own sect. After this, comes the Pitha-puja or consecration of the seat of the image. In a square drawn on the seat, which is made of copper, should be painted a lotus of eight petals. On the left hand side of the divine seat, the devotee should perform Tantric Nyasas, and worship the Purva-gurus and their footwears, as well as Narada and the great Vaishnava, Durga, Janet, Sarasvati, the Adhara-saktis and the Mandalas of Sun, Moon and Fire. The worshipper should then place an image on the seat with the citation of the Mula-mantra and offer of flowers. Then mentally identify the image of the particular deity he adores (Ista-devata), offering flower three times and placing his foot on the ground, he should perform the eight operations, called Avahana (invocation), Sthapana (establishment), Samnidhapana (showing complete surrender by the words I am Yours), Samnirodhana (restraining the deity till the end of the worship), Sakalikarana (displaying all limbs of the deity), Avagunthana (display of great joy), Amrtikarana (restraint by all the limbs) and Paramikarana (accomplishment of the desired object), with their respective Mudras (called Avahani, Sthapani etc.) According to the custom of his sect, he can also, with his fingers besmeared with sandal, show seventeen other Mudras, named after the weapons, ornaments and appendages of the Deity, namely, Sankha, Chakra, Gada, Padma, Srivatsa, Kaustubha, Venu, Abhaya, Vara, Vanamala and Bilva, which are elaborately explained in the commentary.

After throwing three handfuls of flowers, the Asana or seat should be formally offered with appropriate words and Mudras. Then the deity should be offered the Padya, Arghya, Achamaniya, Madhuparka and Purna-achamaniya; but, according to others, the sixteen Upacharas are Avahana, Asana, Padya, Arghya, Achamaniya, Snana with Achamana, Vesture with Achamana, Abharana, Upavita with Achamana, Gandha, Pushpa, Dhupa, Dipa, Naivedya, Vandana and Purna-Achamaniya. The different methods of offer of these are then described with the details of each of these ceremonies, their merits, and the articles necessary for their performance.

The bathing of the image (Snana) is then dealt with. After soliciting permission and offering a pair of footwear, the worshipper should take the image to the bathing place, and exhibit the Amrtikarana-Mudra after placing Asana, Padya, Achamaniya etc. the image is then placed on a copper plate (for the purpose of collecting the sacred water after washing), or on the leaf of a lotus, banyan or plantain, besmeared with unctuous substances (Abhyanga-dravya) and bathed with five nectars (Panchamrta), namely, milk, curd, ghee, honey and candied sugar (Sarkara). During the bath of the deity, incense is to be burnt. After removal of oil and dirt by means of powdered wheat, barley, Kurcha (bundle of Kusha grass) or other cleaning substances, the image is to be bathed with the citation of proper formulas, first in warm and the in cold water, purified by Tulasi, camphor and various herbs and scented with Aguru (the fragrant Aloe), sandal and perfumes. A bath with the holy water from a conch-shell is said to be very desirable. Those who bathe the deity in the above manner becomes free from all sins and earn the merit of heavenly bliss. Incense is then to be burnt, and bells, conch-shells and musical instruments are to be sounded with the pronouncing of appropriate Mantras. Singing and dancing should also accompany the performance. The thousand blessed names of the deity and famous hymns should be recited;  and the Bhagavad-Gita and the Vaishnava Puranas should be read. Then, with the exhibition of the Snana-Mudra, the body of the image should be dried by means of a piece of fresh fine cloth. With the Vaastrarpana-Mudra, it should then be dressed for special images or occasions, and invested with the sacred thread. Blue garment is forbidden. After offering ornaments and besmearing the image with sandal and other scented pastes (the forbidden pastes being Padmaka, Rakta-chandana and Usira), the image should be fanned with Chamara (chowry) or with a fan made of palm leaf. The merit accruing from all these acts is also described elaborately.

From: page 465 to page 471

Early History of The Vaishnava Faith and Movement in Bengal.
Sushil Kumar De.-1961: Firma KLM Private Limited, 257/B, Behari Ganguly Street, Calcutta 700 012.