Putting On TilakTilaka refers to the markings which Vaisnava devotees apply to their bodies, to remind themselves and others that we are all eternal servants of Lord Krsna. The U-shaped mark represents the heel of Lord Visnu, and the oval part represents the Tulasi leaf. Tilaka is applied to twelve parts of the body, and the twelve names of the Lord are recited with each application. To apply tilaka, start with a little Ganges or Yamuna water (if you don’t have any, get some water, and stirring it with your right middle finger, chant:

ganga cha yamune chaiva
godavari saravati
narmade sindho kaveri
jale ‘smin sannidhim kuru
“O Ganges, O Yamuna, O Godavari, O Saravati, O Narmada, O Sindhu, O Kaveri, please become present in this water.”Put the water in your left hand, and rub the hard tilak into the water, creating a wet paste out of the clay. Begin by putting your ring finger of the right hand into the clay, and starting between the eyebrows, bring the finger straight up to the hairline, making two straight lines. It should look like a long, narrow U-shape. Then use some more tilak to make the Tulasi leaf on your nose, it should extend about 3/4 of the way down your nose. As you apply the tilak to your body, chant the following mantras:



 forehead om keshavaya namaha
 belly om narayanaya namaha
 chest om madhavaya namaha
 neck om govindaya namaha
 right belly om vishnave namaha
 right arm om madhusudhanaya namaha
 right shoulder om trivikramaya namaha
left belly om vamanaya namaha
left arm om shridharaya namaha
left shoulder om hrishikeshaya namaha
upperback om padmanabhaya namaha
lower back om damodaraya namaha

Take the remaining tilak, and wipe it on the back of the head, in the area of the sikha, and chant om vasudevaya namaha.

Lord Shiva says to Parvati that in the middle of the tilak marking there is a space, and in that space reside Lakshmi and Narayana. Therefore the body that is decorated with tilaka should be considered a temple of Lord Vishnu.



Everywhere You Look, All You See is Krishna

krishna arjunaKrishna is Everything.

Krishna: But now I will tell you the most intimate secrets, which only my friends can truly understand. Learn this, and you will be liberated from all misfortune. It is the supreme science, the monarch of mysteries, the purest purifier. It is very enjoyable, self-evident and everlasting.

Arjuna: If it is so enjoyable and tangibly beneficial, why is it so secret?

Krishna: Because common men have little interest in it. They are not interested in attaining me. Instead they want some temporary paradisiac from which they soon return to the cycle of mortality.

Arjuna: Please tell me these most confidential secrets.

Krishna: I am spread throughout this entire universe, in an imperceptible form. Everything is in me, but I am not contained within anything. And so, everything is not me.

Arjuna: This is almost incomprehensible.

Krishna: That is the nature of my mystic power.

Arjuna: Can you explain it more clearly?

Krishna: I am the original entity from which everything comes into being. Thus, I support everyone and everything, but I am not contained within anyone or anything.

Arjuna: It is still very difficult to understand. Can you give an analogy?

Krishna: The atmosphere is contained within space, and space is within the atmosphere. But the atmosphere does not contain space.

Arjuna: Ah! Like everything is within space, so everything exists within you. And you are within everything, just like everything has space within it. But just as nothing contains the whole of space, similarly nothing is completely you, except you yourself. I am beginning to understand.

I have a different question. You said everything that exists is within you. What about things that no longer exist, things that have been destroyed?

Krishna: When a thousand ages end, Arjuna, everything is destroyed and becomes energy, my energy. When a new cycle of a thousand ages begins again, I recreate everything.

Arjuna: How do you recreate everything from energy?

Krishna: Again and again, I create by placing living beings into my energy, which then automatically takes different forms in conformity to their will.

Arjuna: So you are not directly responsible for the things that arise in the universe?

Krishna: Right. I am a neutral party in all this, never implicated in the causality of their selfish deeds.

Arjuna: What role does a “neutral party” play in the universe?

Krishna: I keep my glance upon it and thereby grant it the power to reproduce all its mobile and immobile forms.

Arjuna: But here you are standing in front of me. How can you be the source of everything in the universe?

Krishna: Fools think that I am limited within the shelter of a human body. You are not such a fool, Arjuna.

Arjuna: How do you know I am not?

Krishna: Because you are not like them.

Arjuna: What are they like?

Krishna: Those fools take shelter of the material world. Intoxicated by it they become ungodly, wild and mindless. They develop useless ambitions, useless endeavors and useless understandings.

Arjuna: I’m not like that?

Krishna: No, you are like the great souls.

Arjuna: What are they like?

Krishna: Great souls take shelter of the spiritual world, and adore me without ulterior motive, because they understand that I am the inexhaustible origin of everything.

Arjuna: You’ve described their heart, what about their deeds?

Krishna: Great souls always strive with determined commitment to constantly perform kirtana: glorifying me and constantly offering me affectionate respect and worship.

Arjuna: Are there other ways to worship you?

Krishna: Yes. The not-so-great souls worship me indirectly in many different ways. They worship me as the effort to gain knowledge, as the oneness uniting plurality and as the personification of the universe itself.

Arjuna: Why are these less wonderful than kirtana?

Krishna: Because these people downplay the essence and focus on other things.

Arjuna: What is the essence?

Krishna: I am.

I am the ritual. I am the sacrifice. I am the ancestor’s offering. I am the sacred herb. I am the mantra. I am the oil, the fire and the offering. I am father, mother, provider and grandfather. I am the objective of “OM” which purifies the Rig, Sama and Yajur Vedas. I am the goal, the husband, the lord, the witness, the home, the shelter and the sweetheart. I am creation, destruction and existence. I am the original seed. I am warmth. I withhold and send forth the rains. I am immortality and death. I am the real and unreal.

Arjuna: What becomes of those who worship you in these distracted ways?

Krishna: Knowing the ways of rituals, they perform sacrifice as a prayer to me, expressing the desire to enter paradise. Drinking the ritual soma, they become purified and enter the pure realm of the king of gods, where there they enjoy the gods’ delights.

Arjuna: That sounds good.

Krishna: Yes, but by enjoying the vast heavenly realm they exhaust their piety and must return to the world of mortals. So, birth and death is the end result of worship done for selfish rewards.

Arjuna: What becomes of those who worship you with pure selfless love, not distracted by selfish ulterior motives?

Krishna: Those who have no selfish ulterior motives really perform true worship. I personally take care of them.

Arjuna: How?

Krishna: I protect them from whatever mistakes they make. And I uphold whatever they do correctly.

Arjuna: You just said that you are everything. So if I worship anything, I worship you?

Krishna: Yes, but that is generally unbeknownst to those who worship many gods. Although they have faith and devotion in such gods, and although the truth is that they are actually worshipping me, this is not the recommended path.

Arjuna: What is the recommended path?

Krishna: To be aware that I am every sacrifice, every god,  every master and therefore to directly worship me without distraction. People who are not truly aware of this reality become distracted by gods and rituals. They remain in the mortal realm.

Arjuna: What if one worships the gods knowing that they are actually you?

Krishna: Worshippers of the gods attain the gods. Worshippers of ancestors attain the ancestors. Worshippers of spirits attain those spirits. But only those who directly worship me can attain me.

Arjuna: How should I directly worship you?

Krishna: It is simple, easy and joyful: with love.

Arjuna: How should I express that love?

Krishna: Out of love, offer me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or some water. When these are offered to me lovingly by a devoted soul, I hungrily accept them.

Arjuna: What if I cannot be so simple and pure?

Krishna: My friend, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever sacrifices you make, whatever gifts you give, whatever difficulties you undertake, do them for my sake, not your own. This discipline of renunciation will purify you completely from the positive and negative partiality of selfish deeds. Then you will be able to simply love me.

Arjuna: Why are you so partial towards your devotee and indifferent towards those who are distracted from loving you?

Krishna: I am not partial to anyone. I am equal to everyone. I neither favor nor disfavor anyone. But anyone who shows me true devotion is in my heart, just as I am in theirs.

I am open to everyone and anyone. Even if someone has been a very foul person, if they somehow develop love for me without ulterior motive I consider them a saint, and very righteous.

Arjuna: How can a very foul person have pure love for you?

Krishna: This love immediately makes them pure and righteous, and grants them spiritual peace. My dear cousin, you should declare that one who loves me can never fail to be righteous.

Arjuna: So anyone and everyone can become your devotee?

Krishna: Yes, even those born into foul circumstances, or those who are not educated in spiritual matters. Everyone can attain this supreme destination by pure love for me.

Arjuna: What about those born into good circumstances?

Krishna: Of course. It is even easier for philosophical intellectuals and the devoted, philosopher-kings like yourself. However you may have come into this temporary and unhappy situation, you can always take up my pure devotional service.

Arjuna: What is the essence of “pure devotional service”?

Krishna: Become devoted to me by keeping me in your mind, working for my sake and being respectful to me. With your soul thus dedicated to me, certainly you will attain me.

“Jai Jai Shri Radhe”

Death of Narakasura – the origins of Diwali

narkasur vadh by krishnaHiranyaksha was a very bad demon. He terrorized all the people in earth and heavens alike. Unable to tolerate him anymore, the people went to Lord Vishnu to protect him from Hiranyaksha. Lord Vishnu promised to help them.
When Hiranyaksha came to know of this, he got about thinking…To protect the earth and its people, Lord Vishnu has to first find the earth…I am going to hide the earth itself so that Lord Vishnu would not be able to find it…Thinking thus, Hiranyaksha using his powers and might pushed the earth itself off its axis!
When Hiranyaksha touched the earth to push her, an asura was created out of the contact between Bhumadevi, the Mother Earth and Hiranyaksha….
The earth plummeted deep inside space. Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boar and held the earth in its horns and pushed her back in her axis. Lord Vishnu fought Hiranyaksha and defeated and killed him.
After he had won against Hirayaksha, Bhumadevi told Lord Vishnu about the asura who was created. Lord Vishnu got about thinking. He told Bhumadevi, ‘He is your son, Bhumadevi! He will be very powerful and strong just like Hiranyaksha.’
Bhumadevi looked at Lord Vishnu and said apprehensively, ‘Would he also be a terrible demon like Hiranyaksha?’
Lord Vishnu sadly nodded his head, ‘There is every chance that he may be like Hiranyaksha….In fact he may be even more powerful than Hiranyaksha. I think you may be the only person who may be able to defeat him…’
Bhumadevi looked at Lord Vishnu without understanding…Lord Vishnu shook his head. ‘Let us not bother about it now. We will worry about it when the time comes.’ Still not satisfied Bhumadevi reluctantly nodded her head, as Lord Vishnu returned to Vaikunta.
Meanwhile the asura who was created, grew up to be strong and powerful. The asura was named Narakasura. Banasura who was a powerful asura saw Narakasura’s strength and decided to use him. Banasura spoke to Naraksura, ‘Naraka! You are already very strong. I think if you meditate on Lord Brahma, he will make you more powerful and then, you can rule the three worlds…not just the earth.’
Narakasura thought that through and decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and driven by the power of his penance, Lord Brahma appeared before him.
Lord Brahma spoke, ‘Narakasura! Your powers of meditation are great! For that you can ask me any boon…’ Lord Brahma was not very optimistic about granting Narakasura any boon. He knew that Narakasura was becoming evil and any boon he asked might result on great havoc on the earth…But still Lord Brahma could not turn away from any person who had performed such rigorous penance. He had to grant whatever it is that Narakasura asked for…
Narakasura bowed before Lord Brahma and said, ‘My Lord! I will not ask the boon of immortality, I know you do not grant that boon to anybody…’ Lord Brahma nodded as Narakasura continued, ‘My Lord! I have come to know that Mother Earth – Bhumadevi herself is my mother. So this is my wish. If I have to die it has to be in the hands of my mother and no one else….’
Lord Brahma smiled inwardly. But he looked at Narakasura and spoke, ‘So be it! And try to use your powers for good!’ Lord Brahma vanished from there.
Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. Lord Brahma was a fool…No mother would kill her own son…no matter who it is…He had granted me the boon of immortality…Why should he try to use his powers for good…He could literally rule the worlds…People everywhere would bow to him and pray to him…He would make sure of that…
Meanwhile in Gokul, a beautiful, black child grew up among the cowherds there as the son of their chief – Nanda and Yashoda…The child was Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Narakasura returned to his kingdom – Pragjyotishyapur and made preparations for war. Armed with the boon, Narakasura attacked all the kingdoms on earth. He was so ferocious in his strength and power that the other kings did not even have a chance. All of them went under the rule of Narakasura. Soon Narakasura was the ruler of all the kingdoms on earth.
Narakasura soon eyed the heavens. Indra, the Lord of the Devas was no match for Narakasura. Narakasura fell upon the heavens and Indra and the other Devas crumbled and fled from there. Narakasura became more and more wicked. He became arrogant….He captured 16,000 women in the heavens and imprisoned them in his palace.
Narakasura was so arrogant that he did not even let Aditi, the mother of the Devas alone. Aditi, had some heavenly earrings made for her. The earrings were so precious that they even glowed in the dark. Narakasura without a moment’s hesitation tore the earrings from Aditi, not giving a care in the world….
Narakasura ruled like a despot and people everywhere were afraid of him. They were afraid to stand up against him, because he punished people who stood up against him, very severely…They began to pray for someone to come and protect them from the Asura.
Meanwhile Krishna as he grew up among the cowherds, realized about his own self. He came to know that he was the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Devaki was the sister of Kamsa, the wicked ruler of Mathura. After Devaki and Vasudeva had got married, there was a heavenly voice, which proclaimed that the eighth child of Devaki would kill Kamsa.
Terrified Kamsa imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva. Despite all his measures and protections, Krishna was born as the eighth child of Vasudeva and Devaki. Krishna was smuggled to Gokul where he grew up among the cowherds there.
When Krishna came to know about Kamsa and what he had done to his parents, Krishna was furious. He along with his elder brother Balarama killed Kamsa, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. Krishna crowned his grandfather Ugrasena as the king of Mathura and himself ruled Dwaraka. 

The story of Narakasura ends with Krishna and his third wife – Satyabama. 

As Satyabama was alone in the royal palace gardens, thinking of Krishna she was visited by Aditi, the mother of the Devas. She broke down in tears on seeing Satyabama. Satyabama looked at Aditi and calmed her down, ‘What has happened? What is wrong?…’
Aditi burst out into tears and showed Satyabama her ears which were dripping blood. Satyabama gasped as Aditi continued, ‘Narakasura… He came to the palace…he defeated my son and imprisoned….imprisoned all the women there and he grabbed the earrings from my ears….I…’
Satyabama calmed down Aditi, ‘Don’t worry! Please…please don’t cry…’ Satyabama looked at Aditi and was angrily thinking of Narakasura, ‘That man is becoming a menace…I will deal with it myself…’
Satyabama made sure Aditi was comfortable in her palace and ran to see Krishna. ‘Krishna!’ She called as Krishna appeared before her. Krishna looked at her and did not say anything. It was very rare for Satyabama to come to him yelling in the palace. Obviously something very bad had happened. He looked at her waiting for her to continue.
Satyabama spoke with barely concealed fury, ‘Krishna! Aditi has come here…’
Krishna looked at her and asked, ‘Aditi! The mother of the Devas…What does she want…’
Satyabama continued angrily, ‘Narakasura! That asura…look what he has done…’ Satyabama told him everything that Aditi had told him. Krishna became more and more serious as Satyabama continued speaking. He finally held up his hands, ‘Satyabama! I am going to fight with the Narakasura…He has crossed his limits…It is high time he is taught a lesson…’
Satyabama spoke up ‘Krishna! I want to come with you…’ Krishna looked surprised as Satyabama continued, ‘I am going to definitely help you defeat that evil demon…’ She said angrily looking at Krishna. Krishna nodded his head and looked at her. ‘Get your weapons ready! We are going to war! We will go on Garuda! He can take us to Narakasura’s capital in no time…’ Garuda was the vehicle of Lord Krishna and could fly very fast…
Satyabama nodded her head and got ready for battle.
Both of them sat on Garuda. Garuda flew into the kingdom of Pragjyotishyapur. Looking at Garuda approaching his kingdom, Narakasura’s heart missed a beat…The Dark Lord had come for him…But then he slowly shook his head…He had a boon that he could be killed only by his mother…Even Krishna himself could not do anything to him. Narakasura then ordered the division of his army to attack Garuda and Krishna.
The battle between the army of Narakasura and Krishna was ridiculously short. Krishna and Garuda helped with Satyabama destroyed the army in no time at all. Narakasura saw all this from inside his palace and was furious. He called his general Mura. ‘Mura! Take your battalion…Destroy that man…’
Mura attacked the dark Lord with his huge army. But he was also destroyed the same way as the others…[As Lord Krishna had defeated Mura, Krishna is sometimes called as ‘Murari’]
When Narakasura saw Mura die in the battlefield, he yelled and ran out and threw his sataghini [a thunderbolt] at Krishna. Garuda dived and the weapon missed Krishna altogether.
Krishna hurled many of his weapons at Narakasura but he was surprised. Narakasura was easily able to neutralize the weapons which Krishna threw at him! Satyabama on seeing Narakasura, twanged her bow and let the arrows fly fast and furiously.
Looking at the double attack Narakasura furiously pulled out ‘Shakti’ a powerful weapon and hurled it at Krishna.
Satyabama watched in horror as the weapon hit Krishna in the chest. The Dark Lord swooned and fell down!
Satyabama furiously pulled out a powerful weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura. Her shock at seeing her Krishna fall gave her the strength to hurl the weapon exactly at Narakasura’s chest, with a speed which was unmatched. Narakasura blinked for a full minute when he saw a weapon in his chest…How could he be defeated…he….He saw Satyabama go towards Krishna, not even bothering to see whether her weapon had hit Narakasura or not…
Narakasura swayed on the spot and looked as the Dark Lord woke up without a single scratch on his body! Satyabama also looked surprised. Krishna smiled as they both got down from Garuda and came towards Narakasura.
Narakasura looked at the two of them. What they had for each other was love…Krishna had so many wives…he loved each one of them fully and respected each one of them…Satyabama loved her husband and was willing to stand up against anybody for him…Narakasura realized suddenly that this was what was missing in his life…He had been powerful…very powerful…but he had never loved anybody…ever…that is what had made him empty…purposeless…Narakasura felt waves of guilt wash over him…He had been so powerful…he could have used the power for good…but he used it for bad purposes…and now …he could not even properly apologize to the people he had wronged…
He lay on the battlefield and looked at the Dark Lord and held his hands together bowing his head, ‘My Lord!’ He breathed sadly, ‘I am sorry…I truly am…It is today that I have seen light…I have lived a life of ignorance…a life of hate…and darkness…I have spread nothing but fear among people…People who go on to terrify others would come to this end only…I have seen the error in my ways…’
Krishna smiled, ‘Narakasura! I am glad you have repented for your actions..’
Narakasura looked around as he saw the body of Dark Lord and Satyabama glowing in the evening light. ‘I have seen light today, my Lord…I wish that people would celebrate this day as the day of victory of light over darkness…’
Satyabama came forward and touched Narakasura. She nodded her head as she looked at his pain filled eyes.
Krishna said. ‘Narakasura! This is Satyabama…She is actually an incarnation of Bhumadevi…’ Both Satyabama and Narakasura looked at Krishna with surprise as Krishna continued, ‘She incarnated with the special purpose of defeating you…I could never have defeated you…Only Satyabama could…so I pretended to fall unconscious and the rest was done by her…’ Krishna said looking at Satyabama with pride.
Satyabama felt a deep understanding within herself. She realized the truth in Krishna’s words. She took Narakasura’s head in her lap and cried out, ‘My son! Why? Why did you have to follow such a dark path…Why did you…’
Narakasura stopped Satyabama, ‘No mother! You are not responsible for my choices…I chose wrongly and you fought me for what you believed as right…You have done the right thing…I am glad to call you my mother…’ Narakasura breathed his last….
Even to this day, Narakasura’s death is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness…It comes on the second day of Diwali as ‘Naraka chaturdasi’. Diwali which is a festival of lights actually celebrates the triumph of right over the wrong…
Satyabama took Aditi’s earrings and handed them over to Aditi…

-From the Bhagawat Purana