Why do disciples observing Vyasa-puja for a living spiritual master offer a feast to his picture?

The spiritual master is the disciple's link to Krishna and their guide in spiritual life. On Vyasa-puja - the spiritual master's appearance day, or "birthday" as we call it in the West - the physical body of the spiritual master can only be in one place, yet the disciples may be in many places. In order to create an intimacy with the spiritual master and keep them foremost in the mind of the disciple during the celebration, a picture is used.

Generally, the offering of food is offered to both Srila Prabhupada and the spiritual master, and then that offering is distributed...or it is assumed that whatever is offered to the spiritual master, he will offer to Srila Prabhupada and the remnants of that offering are accepted as prasadam ("mercy of God" – spiritualized food) and honored by the devotees.

Srila Prabhupada told us, as early as 1968, that when we wanted to evoke his presence we should put his picture on the vyasasana (sitting place) and chant to it. Since he was always chanting, we would then be "packed up tight together" through our mutual chanting. So, having the guru's picture present enhances the sense of connection and intimacy with the guru.

Hope this is helpful.
Your servant,
Laxmimoni dasi

When does a devotee become qualified to wear Tulasi neck beads?

All devotees can wear kanthi mala (Tulasi neck beads) at any time, but only one strand. Initiated devotees wear three strands. But to indicate that you are beginning to worship Krishna you may wear one strand of beads.

Hope this is helpful,
Laxmimoni dasi

How to properly follow Ekadasi?

Full question: I was always told Ekadasi starts to be observed by midnight (00.00) of the day of Ekadasi, completely abstaining from grains, beans & all foods containing these ingredients. Recently I read somewhere that there are certain fruits/veggies that are forbidden (like tomatoes, spinach) and it should start to be observed the evening before Ekadasi. HUH?? Please set me straight, eh? Thank you! HARI

Hare Krishna! thanks for your question. Actually Srila Prabhupada didn't get too detailed about following Ekadasi according to tiny details. He told us that Ekadasi is foremost a day for increasing hearing and chanting. In order to do this we try to take less time for bodily maintenance, such as eating, sleeping, shaving, etc. It's best to just minimize bodily stuff on that day and spend as much time hearing and chanting about Krishna as possible. It's not an auspicious day for heavy material business of any kind. That's the primary principle.

As far as eating on Ekadasi is concerned, Srila Prabhupada told us to avoid beans and grains on this day. Eat simply, just to keep body and soul together. He never gave us hours to start or end; this information has come from other places, of varying degrees of validity. But the principle is wake up, avoid grains and beans, go to sleep, and the next day, when you eat breakfast, break your fast. It's not good to fast on the day after Ekadasi.

If you miss Ekadasi for some reason, wait until the next day to do it again. If you just eat simple fruits and veggies, you'll be fine. No need to worry about various veggies or spices or fruits...Srila Prabhupada never gave us any warnings about these things and he himself ate just as he asked us to. Sometimes it's nice to fast, or just fast until noon, but this is to allow more time for spiritual things, not just to be spaced out and as you can and still maintain your Krishna consciousness.

Our austerity is really fixing our mind on Krishna! Always remember Him, and never forget Him; these are the two main principles of Krishna consciousness. Everything else is secondary.

I hope this is helpful.
Laxmimoni dasi

Is having a son required for achieving moksha (liberation)?

There are two things to address. Moksha means liberation from the material world. We want something higher than that. We want loving service to Krishna in the spiritual world. To achieve that, we need to develop love for Krishna. We do this by serving Him, remembering Him, and offering everything we do to Him. There is no mention of having a son.

There are certain desirable things in the material sphere, and having a son may be one of them. However, there are no material requirements for attaining love of God and going back to Him. The only requirement is loving service to His lotus feet.

I would suggest that you read the story of King Chitraketu from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 6th canto chapters 14-16. You will find it very enlightening.

Hare Krishna
Laxmimoni dasi

What should I do if I accidentally break Ekadasi?

Srila Prabhupada recommended that if we inadvertently eat some grain on an Ekadasi, we should observe the Ekadasi fast for the rest of that day and also on the next day, Dvadasi. If even that is not possible, we should simply go on with our activities in Krishna consciousness and pray for forgiveness.

Some fast completely on Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi to atone for breaking Ekadasi during the previous year. Certainly there are benefits for observing a total fast, but none of our information supports fasting on Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi to make up for breaking other Ekadasis. For more detailed information on this, you may wish to visit the Diary of Bhakti Chaitanya Swami.