- Namita Purohit
- Life Stages
In most endeavors we have a goal, process and culture. For example, an athlete wants to win gold in the Olympics; this is the goal. They subsequently commence a rigorous training regime to exercise the body; this is the process. Simultaneously, they make strict lifestyle choices in diet, sleep patterns and abstinence from intoxication; this is culture. Regardless of how the athlete trains, if they neglect to follow the proper lifestyle their sporting efforts will be unsuccessful. In the same way, devotees of Krishna embrace a culture to support their goals and practices.
The scriptures provide ample guidance on good lifestyle and effective habits that cultivate powerful spiritual values, a deep internal mood and good character. Some recommendations are: appearance and dress should be clean, simple and modest; diet should promote one’s health, purify the mind and aid bodily vitality; speech should be truthful, pleasing and beneficial and environment should be clean, fresh and uncluttered.
These principles are then translated into a detailed culture. For example, some specific aspects of dress and appearance include:
• Tulasi Beads – worn around the neck, these sacred beads invoke auspiciousness. Just by the physical touch of Tulasi, karmic reactions are minimized and piety develops.
• Tilak – sometimes called the ornamentation of the soul, this spiritual decoration is made by applying a wet clay mixture to the body. The devotee marks his body in twelve places for sanctification and protection.
• Dress – traditionally, men wear a dhoti and women wear a sari. Both are simple pieces of cloth that do not require any tailoring. Such cloth demonstrates elegance and simplicity, and promotes cleanliness and modesty.
Our spiritual journey goes beyond the externals of appearance, yet we should bear in mind that such things can aid and support us. By incorporating cultural elements into our daily lives we solidify our spiritual identity and remind ourselves of the goals we are pursuing. However, according to one’s particular life situation it may not be practical or possible to follow all these elements of culture. Making adjustments to the details is understandable as long as we remain steadfast to the principles behind them.