All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
All Glories to Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Question of the Week:
Why is Mangal Arati Beneficial for Spiritual Life?
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram, Soquel, California
February 16, 2005
By Vaidehi Dasi
The black cool morning wraps a blanket of silence
around the Soquel Seva Ashram, including the trees, the animals,
and the devotees. I
run down the hill in the dark and find the pujari picking flowers
in the hills. The flashlight on his headband is my hope. Once I
see it, I know that I am not late for mangal arati because he is
still outside. As the sun rises, dewdrops begin to sparkle and glide
off honeysuckle leaves. The birds awaken, thirsty for nectar. A
blue bird flies to the green grass in search of a drink. An owl
resting high above in a eucalyptus tree hoots its last hoot before
day breaks. Soon other birds begin to call out their morning songs.
Outside the temple building one hears the sounds of wildlife. Within
the temple room a sweet melody emanates as Lord Krishna and His
associates are worshipped by the devotees. They chant:
Udilo aruna puraba bhage dwija mani gora amani jage
"Just before sunrise, as the eastern sky turned crimson, the
jewel of the twice born, Sri Gaurahari awoke. Taking His devotees
with Him, He began the kirttan, wandering through the countryside
towns and villages."
At 6a.m., just after mangal arati, I walk up the ramp to Srila Gurudevs
house and quietly go inside to offer my dandavats to His Divine
Gurudev sits in His veranda. Sometimes he is silent; sometimes he
appears to be in a very talkative mood. Today he is talking about
a verse. He had been trying to remember it for a day and a half,
yet it would not come to his mind. Even in his dreams he tried to
remember the verse but still, the last part he could not remember.
When he awoke one morning he turned to a random page of the Chaitanya
Charitamrita in which Ramananda Raya describes the beauty of Krishna
to Mahaprabhu. He had found the sloka!
He spoke about the beauty of the sloka: When Govinda looks in the
mirror His mind becomes so overwhelmed that He wants to embrace
Himself and realizes it is His own reflection. Srila Gurudev speaks
elaborately on the subject and mentions that only a few other people
have understood the meaning of this verse: Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupad, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and
Srila Bhakti Siddhantha Saraswati Thakur.
Then Sripad Goswami Maharaj comes out of his room to say a few words,
discussing the sloka with Srila Gurudev. Afterwards, Gowsami Maharaj
kindly directed me to that sloka: Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita: Madhya
Lila, chapter 8, verse one.
Inspired by the devotees that regularly wake up early to worship
the Lord, I have become extremely attracted to mangal arati, yet
I do not understand why. Maybe it's the light glowing from Gurudev's
room that tells me He is awake. The light that says, "I am
here! I am your Gurudev. Come and let me shine my glance upon you!"
Maybe it's the beauty of the ashram and the blossoming consciousness
of all of the living entities on the property. I feel revived, energetic,
but I still want to know more about this early morning ceremony.
This is what led me to the next question of the week:
Why is mangal arati beneficial for spiritual
"Our life is focused upon the Lord and the Lord is waking up
in the morning. We
want to receive Him and we want Him to feel welcomed so when He
is there, He isn't showing Himself to an empty temple. Our life
is for serving Him. We want to be there and say, "Oh, my Lord,
you are appearing and this is so wonderful." We want to be
able to receive the Lord like we do the spiritual master. When the
spiritual master is coming out of his room, all of the devotees
want to be there to offer their obeiscences. The word "mangal"
means auspicious. It is very auspicious for us to be there when
the Lord awakes. Why should the curtains open and the Lord manifest
Himself to an empty room while everybody is sleeping? Who could
possibly do that? If Radha, Krishna, and Mahaprabhu suddenly walked
into the room, would everyone be sleeping or would they be with
--Sripad Janardan Maharaj
"All the aratis and any chance to glorify and sing about the
Holy Name of the Lord are good for your spiritual life. The
Scriptures say we should do it all the time. We should glorify the
Holy Name all day long and all night long but since we can't, we
have to have some regulated times. Mangal arati is important because
it is first thing in the morning. The moment we get up we are fresh;
our minds are clear and we have a lot of physical energy. The Scriptures
talk of the "Brahma muhurta" hour. It means one hour and
a half before the sun comes up. This time is very auspicious because
the sun is pushing all of the energies of the Earth from a sleeping
stage to an awakened stage. Similarly it is pushing the mind, the
intelligence, and the bodies of all the living entities from a sleeping
stage to a higher stage of awakening. Just like when they talk about
solar energy. There are certain times of the day that you get more
electricity from the sun than your cells will take at other times.
With our body and our mind, there is a time that we get more beneficial
effects from the sun, and that is an hour and a half before it rises.
Therefore, mangal arati is calculated to be at that time, and if
we give our attention and energy towards glorifying the Lord, it
is very beneficial and auspicious to begin the day hearing and chanting
about the glories of the Lord."
--Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj
"It's beneficial just as hatha yoga is beneficial for your
body. It's good for your spiritual life to wake up for mangal arati
everyday. We all know the benefits of helping the body by doing
yoga, eating right, and exercising. Mangal arati is all of those
combined into one for your spiritual life."
"Mangal arati fixes your consciousness for the rest of the
"The first thing I can think of is the paraphrase
of the ninth verse of Sri Gurvvastaka:
One who, during the Brahma-muhurta (four dandas or ninty-six minutes
before sunrise) with meticulous regularity wholeheartedly sings
these eight prayers to the Divine Master, attains, upon leaving
the body in his spiritual perfection, the qualification to engage
in the direct service of the Lord of Vrindavan." (Kirtan Guide:
"The morning hours are appropriate for practicing spiritual
life. If you wake up early, you can have strength in your meditation
throughout the rest of the day. There is no other way to wake up
in the morning other than to take the darshan of the Deities."
"The different aspects of the Lord are manifested from the
very beginning of the day until the end. Mangal arati is the beginning,
for which I rise to start the day with a good step. Before Mangal
arati it's good to chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, take a bath,
and put tilak on different parts of the body. This will help all
of the practicing devotees go to the most auspicious program: mangal
arati, the gift of the Lord. "
--Adi Keshava Prabhu
Adi Keshava Prabhu
Kamala Krishna Prabhu
Nowla Kishor Prabhu
"Mangal Arati makes me think of the part
in Sri Guru and His Grace where Srila Guru Maharaj talks about the
bees in the honey jar. I like to wake up and think about trying
to be the hungry bee, get right up, and go to mangal arati to get
the mercy. It is said in various places that mangal arati is the
most auspicious program, and I just need the mercy."
--Kamal Krishna Prabhu
"Mangal arati is beneficial for spiritual life because we get
to engage our senses in service: we can chant the Holy Name, we
can dance, and we can take darshan of the Deities through our eyes.
These are the higher parts of devotional service: to sing, dance
--Nowla Kishor Das
Quote of the week, spoken by Sripad
Siddhanti Maharaj in class one morning:
"Your growth is the ritualistic performance of the morning,
the Bhagavatam says. What is ritual? Ritual is getting up and coming
to mangal arati. You must do that ritual because what will that
do for you? That will help you grow. Why does it help you grow?
Because the sun is coming up and pushing everything up. It's pushing
a little child to become a big child. It's pushing our internal
energy to become strong, not weak. If all the forces of nature are
coming up or growing and we're just slumbering away, we are going
in the opposite direction of the forces of the world."