On Wednesday, March 29, 2000 my friendand I attended the Morning Prayer service at the Hare Krishna Farm. The worship began at 7:15 A.M and lasted until 8:45 A.M. Breakfast then followed.
At the Hare Krishna Farm wemet Indulekha Devi dasi who explained to us many aspects of their worship. The temple room itself was very impressive. On one side of the temple was a statue of Srila Prabhubada, the spiritual master who brought the Hare Krishna movement to the West. On the opposite side, there was a very big altar with the Deities. The temple room was filled with pictures representing different incarnations of God.
Before entering the temple room, a person has to take off his or her shoes. As soon as they enter the temple room, I noticed that all of the devotees (that is how Hare Krishna members call themselves) bow down. Indulekha explained to us that they are offering obeisance to God and the spiritual master. Some of the devotees knock on the entrance door or ring the bells above the entrance door, letting the Deities in the temple know that they are entering. Women were standing on one side of the room and the men on the other side.
Service started at 7:15 with Deity Greeting. The priest blew the conches and the curtains on the altar have opened. The two big statues or Deities have been in the center of the altar. The recorded music was playing. Indulekha explained to us that the same song has played all over the world in Hare Krishna temples at 7:15 am. It was a prayer to God. Music was very melodic and pleasant to the ears. The altar itself seemed to be very opulent. Beautiful flower arrangements were surrounding the Deities. Deities itself were actually wearing a clothes.
During the greeting, a ceremony called arati is preformed. The head priest or pujari offered incense, the fire lamp, flower, water and a fan in the circular motions. That has lasted for 10 minutes and at the end of the ceremony pujari has blown conchell again announcing the end of the greeting. The fire lamp has been carried around to each person to touch it. Indulekha told us that that is for purification.
After the Deity Greeting devotees have turned towards the statue of Srila Prabhupada. Spiritual master worship service was beginning. Indulekha was telling us that spiritual master has a big importance in Hare Krishna religion. He teaches devotees the Holy Scriptures and in that way brings them closer to God. Therefore each morning they have Guru Puja or worship of Guru. One of the man devotees has started singing a prayer for a spiritual master. He would sing one line and the rest would follow. The similar ceremony that has been preformed for Deity greeting has been preformed for Spiritual Master Worship. Flower, water, incense, lamp and fan have been offered. During the ceremony devotees started dancing. As the ceremony was going on the rhythm has been faster and faster and dancing was lively and lively. Each person would go towards the statue and take a flower petals and circle around the Srila Prabhupada in that way offering their obeisance and gratefulness. As the guru worship ended, all devotees (without stopping singing) turned towards the Deities and started singing Hare Krishna mantra. Indulkeha told us that that is the most important mantra. Followers of the Hare Krishna chant that mantra every day. During the meditation hours they repeat it many times: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. After a dancing and singing has been finished, everyone bowed down and prayers were said. The lecture followed.
Lecture has been give by local member of Hare Krishna. He would read a verse from the book called Srimad Bhagavatam. Worse was read in Sanskrit, then translation and purport. Then lecture started. The lecture was about detachment from material body. It is said that material body does not represent us. Material body is just like a dress that we wear, and on the end of the life we leave it. When we take a birth again we choose another dress. As Indulekha told us, morning prayers is usually only for members of Hare Krishna but everyone is welcome. But for people like us they recommend Sunday gathering because philosophy is explained on the more basic level. During the morning prayers, it is more for devotees and therefore for us it may be hard to follow.
It is very difficult for me to describe a Hare Krishna service. So many things are happening and one would need pages and pages to present everything accurately.
Some of the members were dressed “normally” but mostly they were wearing traditional Indian clothes. Women were wearing colorful saris and men were wearing cloth wrapped around their body called dhoti and shirt called kurta. Men that were in white were married, and in orange were in celibate order. They could get married but once they take sannyas (recognized by a stick or sannyas cloth that they wear) they can not get married. Women could not take sannays. It was only for the men. Women that were wearing completely white saris were either widowed or women that are not planning to get married. Usually that is reserved for older women. It is their symbol for renunciation.
Hare Krishna experience has been very refreshing. There were many young people there. Their way of worship is full with little details, it is very joyful, lively and one could say entertaining. Members of Hare Krishna were very helpful and very cheerful. It has been a wonderful, early morning.