Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Sri Krishna concludes His teaching on dhyana-yoga, which means, “divine communion through self-control and meditation”, by saying that the bhakti-yogi or Krishna bhakta is the yuktatamo yogi, the greatest yogi. (Bhagavat Gita 6.47)
Before reaching this conclusion, however, Krishna gives important instructions on yoga that apply to all classes of transcendentalists. Of course, as Krishna bhaktas our dhyana yoga is mainly chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra along with meditation upon its meaning, and the divine forms and pastimes of Radha and Krishna fully present within the mantra.
To improve our understanding and practices of devotion, we will examine Krishna’s universal teachings on yoga presented in chapter six of Bhagavad Gita.
Verse 37:
Why does a devotee fall down? Sri Krishna answers, “A devotee falls down from the path of bhakti-yoga because of being negligent in his practices, calita manash yogat.”
Srila Prabhupada explains, “Despite constant endeavor [in sadhana bhakti], one may fail for many reasons. First of all, one may not be following the process [rules of vaidhi-sadhana]. Or due to the attraction of Maya, one may deviate from the true path [of bhakti yoga].”
The message is clear here: Insincerity in bhakti bhajana, and succumbing to the allurements of illusion will certainly deviate one’s mind from the path of pure bhakti, calita manasah.
So how to keep from falling down? Earlier in verse 35, Sri Krishna answers, “You can prevent mental and practical deviation by controlling the mind through abhyasa and vairagya, constant practice and renunciation or austerities.”
Verse 40:
Here Sri Krishna describes the destination of the fallen devotee. “One who walks the path of virtue is never overcome by evil.” The word never is an absolute adverb which means never at any time now or in the future will a Krishna bhakta become degraded, durgatim gacchati.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: “Krishna is saying here that the devotee, treading the path leading to eternal good, can never be subject to an evil future.”
Srila Prabhupada: “In this verse, Sri Krishna is telling that the unsuccessful transcendentalist need not worry, because the auspicious practices of Krishna consciousness (kalyana-krt) are never forgotten. And one will continue to practice devotional service even if he is lowborn in the next life.”
Here Sri Krishna is speaking like a fatherly guru to all of us, His devotee sons and daughters. By using the word tata, meaning “son”, the all-benevolent, Supreme Father Sri Krishna is showing His love for us. Krishna is assuring us that the future will always be bright—full of the light and hope of good fortune, kalyana.
Verses 41 -42:
In verses 41-42, Sri Krishna assures that in his future births the unsuccessful devotee will attain material happiness and eventually liberation in Krishna prema.
Verse 41:
What happens to a devotee who falls down after a short time of practicing Krishna consciousness? Krishna answers, “He will enjoy happiness in heaven, and then take birth in a religious or wealthy family, shucinam shrimatam gehe, yoga brashta abhijayate.
Srila Prabhupada: “Devotees who do not achieve the highest perfection of Krishna consciousness due to material allurements are allowed, by the grace of Lord Sri Krishna, to make full utilization of their material propensities. And after that, they are given opportunities to live prosperous lives, so that they may take advantage of the facilities and elevate themselves to full Krishna consciousness.”
Srila Prabhupada mentioned this exact point in a letter he wrote to a disciple named Jayananda Dasa just after he left his body. “I hope at the time of your death you were remembering Krishna and as such, you have been promoted to the eternal association of Krishna. If not, if you had any tinge of material desire, you have gone to the celestial kingdom to live with the demigods for many thousands of years and enjoy the most opulent life of material existence.
“From there you can promote yourself to the spiritual world. But even if one fails to promote himself to the spiritual world, at that time he comes down again on the surface of this globe and takes birth in a big family like a yogis, brahmanas, or an aristocratic family, where there is again chance of reviving Krishna Consciousness.” (May 5, 1977)
Destiny or divine will sometimes manifests desires to enjoy within a devotee. Krishna says he will get that in his next life in heaven. Eventually exhausting his enjoying propensity, he will be reborn in a favorable situation to continue the practice of Krishna consciousness.
Verse 42:
Here Krishna describes the destiny of a devotee who does not attain perfection, even after practicing for a long time. “He will take birth in a family of wise transcendentalists, kule bhavati dhimatam.” Srila Prabhupada says, “By taking birth in a family of wise men, the devotee will receive spiritual impetus from the very beginning of his life.”
Thus the advanced devotee, who fails to attain Krishna prema in this life, will not stopover in heaven. He will be reborn directly in an intelligent, faithful family practicing bhakti yoga or Krishna consciousness. O how merciful is Shyama!
Verse 43:
Srila Prabhupada comments, “By the grace of Lord Sri Krishna the devotee gets repeated opportunities to perfect his Krishna consciousness.”
Verse 45:
Here, Srila Prabhupada very nicely summarizes the whole discussion about the destiny of the unsuccessful bhakta yogi, the devotee of Sri Krishna:
“A person born in a particularly righteous, aristocratic or sacred family becomes conscious of his favorable condition for executing [bhakti] yoga practice. With determination, therefore, he begins his unfinished task, and thus he completely cleanses himself of all material contaminations. When he is finally free from all contaminations, he attains the supreme perfection—Krishna consciousness.”
The path of devotion to perfection in prema is indeed difficult, yet blissful at the same time. Perseverance in practice, strict following of Guru’s guidance, and a humble heart softened by compassion for others will surely move us quickly down the road to Krishna.
Anything and everything is possible by the mercy of Sri Krishna and Sri Guru. Yes, in this very life we can attain Krishna prema, and live forever in Vrindavana lovingly serving Radha-Govinda in the bowers of Vraja. But even if we don’t make it in this one, the merciful Lord Sri Krishna guarantees in these verses that success is sure in a future life or two.
Sri Krishna krpa ki jai ho!!
Krishna bhakti yogi ki jai! Pure devotional service ki jai!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

I. Tattva / Identity

Sources: Padma Purana and Hari Bhakti Vilasa, 14th vilasa (verses in brackets)

If one does not take Magha snana, his life is meaningless. Magha snana pleases Krishna more than observing vows, austerities and charity. This is the best month to do pious activities. (160) One should observe Magha vrata every year.

(76) It is the duty of every human being to bathe in a holy place during Magha masa to please  Krishna. (127) Water is pure and destroys unlimited amount of sins during Magha masa because the devatas place all their individual potencies in water. (163)

Dattatreya explains, “The human body is useless without Magha snana.” (P.P. Vol. 46, Pg. 2763). These five acts are very pleasing to Sri Krishna: (i) observe Magha vrata; (ii) observe Karttika vrata; (iii) chant twelve–syllable mantra “Om -Namo -Bhagavate –Vasudevaya”; (iv) worship Sri Visnu daily with sixteen articles; and (v) maintain a Tulasi grove. There is also a triad of vows which is very dear to Sri Visnu ─ Magha vrata, Karttika vrata, Ekadasi vrata.

II. Magha Vrata Summary

It is best to bathe before or at sunrise in a holy place. One should give gifts esp. sesame seeds and gur to brahmanas. Worship Suryadeva and keep the ghee lamps lit in the home or temple.

III. Date to Start and Finish the Vow

Start on pausa Purnima and end on Magha Purnima. (67) On Magha Purnima, feed brahmanas, give charity and break your fast.

IV. The Daily Bath

1. Time:  Best before sunrise (90, 138) or pratah kala (6:00 – 8:30 a.m.).

2. Place: Outside in a pond, lake, kunda or river. Ganga bath awards 1,000 times the benefit. By bathing in Triveni, one gets 1,00,000 times the benefit. Every step one takes to go outside for bathing burns the reactions of sins that have not yet fructified and pleases Yama. (93) It is a sastric injunction to bathe in a holy place only to give pleasure to Sri Krishna. One must bathe outside the home at least 3,5 or 7 times in the month. Even bathing in a mud puddle awards mukti.

House Bath: Set a bucket outside in the open air overnight, bring it inside the next morning and bathe. This equals bathing in a holy place. Such a bath bestows all desirable objects. (Add a drop of Ganga, Yamuna or Radha Kunda water).

3. Sankalpa Mantra Vow: Upon waking in the morning, one should recite this: “O Supreme Sri Madhava! I will bathe every morning without fail during Magha masa.”

maghamasam -imam –purnam, snasye’ham -deva -madhava

4.  Mantra Before Bathing: “O Acyuta, O Govinda, O Madhava! I bathe in the month of Magha when the sun travels to the Makara rasi. O Bhagavan, kindly bestow upon me the appropriate fruit of this vow.”

makaraste -ravau –magha, govinda -acyuta -madhava
snanen-anena -me –deva, yathokta -phalado -bhava

5. Benefits of Magha Snana in a Holy Place: Grave sins committed knowingly or unknowingly are destroyed. (79) Sri Brahma says, “All sins committed with the mind, speech or action are destroyed by bathing in a holy place. Any pious acts (e.g., chanting mantras or yagyas) performed for the pleasure of Sri Krishna give unlimited benefits.” (81) If one person from a family bathes in a holy place, all the past and future relatives get liberated by Sri Krishna. (83) All sins are vanquished. (141, 145).

Just by bathing in a holy place for three days, one gets wealth and long life. One becomes free from all distress and sins and goes to Svarga. (60) One goes to Vaikuntha with 21 generations. (78, 154, 164) Nothing is more effective in destroying sinful reactions than bathing in a holy place. Magha snana in a holy place is the best remedy for conditioned souls because it instantly destroys all sinful reactions. It is more beneficial than all vows. It awards all types of boons. (115)

Gives good health, beauty, good qualities, wealth and long life. (118) Daily Magha snana destroys all sins and calamities, pleases Sri Visnu, and gives liberation. Magha snana fulfills all one’s desires. If one takes Magha snana anywhere outside of home, he will experience no sorrows in this or next life. Magha snana at Prayaga is equal to worshiping Sri Visnu at a 100 crore of other places. The fruit of fasting for ten years is equal to three days Magha snana at Prayaga.

6. Bath rules: You don’t have to follow any other vow. Nothing else is required except bathing in a holy place. If you bathe in a holy place, you don’t have to do anything else. (88) One should bathe in silence. (31, 85) Put clay on your head before bath (tilak). While bathing, offer oblations to Suryadeva. Brahmanas should remember the names of Hari, Madhava, Vasudeva and Visnu.

V. Magha Vrata

1. Rules: (i) One should control the mind and senses, observe celibacy, sleep on floor and follow proper behavior; (ii) no oil on body; (iii) don’t eat food cooked or given by others; (iv) eat once a day; (v) give up receiving gifts; (vi) renounce your favorite object. (106)

2. Deity Puja: Worship the Supreme Sri with special care and attention, offering lamps, food, incense and sandalwood paste. By worshiping the supreme Sri with care and attention, one attains spiritual world. (69) One should worship a brahmana couple with food, sandalwood paste, blanket, cloth, jewels. (46)

Light an akhanda-dipa from sunset to sunrise near Deity, offer lots of tulasi leaves and manjaris to the deity. Offer fragrant rice. If you offer lotus or campaka flower, you’ll go to Vaikuntha. Bathe the Deity daily in water and milk. Offer sesame seed preparations to the Deity, khichri with dry fruits, kheer and ghee fried items.

4. Charity: Give charity according to your capacity throughout the month. Blankets, warm clothes, shoes, wood, waterpot, umbrella, ghee, oil, cotton wicks are preferred items. Giving food items with sesame seeds and gur destroys your sins, especially on Sankranti. Magha masa is a special month to give gifts to brahmanas.

It destroys sins, awards happiness and residence in heaven. Austerities and penances performed without giving gifts don’t shine like sky without sun. Whatever gifts one gives to brahmanas, one gets inexhaustible results. One should also offer food to ancestors.

Sri Krishna says: “On Sankranti, Amavasya or Purnima in Magha, Vaisakha, Asadha and Karttika, if you give charity to a brahmana, you will receive a house, happiness, other enjoyable things and liberation.” It especially pleases Krishna if we give blankets, quilts, warm clothes, shoes, rice, ghee, oil, wood, ghee lamps and kumkuma. (47)

VI. Special Puja Days

Everyone should observe Vasanta Pancami, Bhaimi Ekadasi and Varaha Dvadasi. (166)

Krishna Paksa: 1. Makara Sankranti: offer fragrant rice to thakuraji. Offer lotus or campaka flower ─ go to Vaikuntha. One should definitely take Magha snana in a holy place. One must distribute gur and sesame gajjak to brahmanas in public.

2. Amavasya (Mauni Amavasya): One must take a bath in a holy place. Observe complete silence from sunrise to sunset and constantly chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

Sukla Paksa: 3. Tritiya (Manvantari): Any gifts given on this day bestow inexhaustible results.

4. Pancami (Vasanta):  It is a very important bathing day. Bathe the Deity with milk and coconut water. Offer lots of fruits. Decorate the temple with mango leaves. Dress them in new, fine clothes. Illuminate the house with lamps. Offer whole coconut, grapes, sugarcane juice, green vegetables and yellow food items like saffron rice.

Worship Surydeva, Ganga and Mother Earth. Worship Saraswati, and also worship Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita, Guru-Parampara, and articles which are worshiped as dwelling places of Saraswati like notebooks, pens, papers, musical instruments e.g., karatals, mrdangas etc.

Keep everything on the altar and cover the picture of Saraswati with yellow cloth. Serve vaisnavas, sing and dance. (167) Play musical instruments in Vasanta raga. If you worship Sri Krishna on Vasanta Pancami, you will become very dear to Supreme Sri. (170)

5. Saptami: It is a special day to worship Surya Bhagavan (Sun–God). If you fast on this day, you get liberation and attain the punya equal to observing a solar eclipse.

Recite this prayer: “This seventh day of Magha sukla should destroy the sins of my seven lives, and destroy my diseases and miseries. This saptami day is the mother of all Saptamis! Belonging to the Sun, you have appeared on the seventh day. I offer my respects to you, O devi, living on the Sun planet.”

On Sapatmi, donate grains and red cloth out of love for the sun. Worship Surya Narayana. Offer an arka leaf, a fragrant red flower, badri fruit, rice, sacred thread coated with kumkuma, all inside a copper pot. Offer saffron water. Offer grains and red cloth. Also wear red clothes.

6. Bhisma Astami: For five days, beginning on astami, when bathing stand in water facing North and hang one’s brahmana thread like a flower mala. Offer water to Bhisma with this mantra: “Let me offer this oblation of water to the great devotee Bhisma, who belongs to the Vaiyaghra pada (Lion), who is enriched with spiritual understanding and who had no son. (173)

vaiyaghra -padya –gotraya, sankrti -pravaraya -ca
aputraya -dadyam -ye –tat, salilam -bhisma -varmmane

VII. Breaking the Magha Vrata

On Magha Purnima, feed brahmanas and give them gifts. At the end of Purnima tithi, break the fast.  End with this prayer: “O Govinda, Acyuta, Madhava! Please give me the fruit of Magha vrata and eternal service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani in the groves of Vrndavana as Her eternal maidservant palyadasi.”

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!