“Krishna, the reservoir of pleasure, blowing His flute, accompanied by His elder brother Balarama and other cowherd boys and cows, entered the beautiful forest of Vrindavana to enjoy the atmosphere. They walked into the midst of newly grown leaves of trees whose flowers resembled peacock feathers. They were garlanded by those flowers and decorated with saffron chalk.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 18)
One aspect to the image of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the two-handed manifestation of Shri Krishna is the flower garland. The same is seen on most forms of the original God, such as with Shri Rama in Ayodhya and Vishnu in the Vaikuntha planets.
The image is neither imagined nor solely symbolic; it is based on the authority which is beyond the defect of the imperfect senses. Since He is the most important person wherever He goes, and since devotees are always close by, Krishna wears this beautiful decoration.
1. Natural beauty
The offering of flowers is simple and yet elegant. The lotus flower perfectly illustrates nature’s beauty. No human intervention needed. Forego hiring a talented artist or taking bids among those with different interpretations of beauty or expressive ability.
To take a flower and to offer it to Krishna is to also pay homage to His ability. He is the original creator, after all. Though Lord Brahma uses the three modes of nature [gunas] for crafting body types and environments in the universe, he is only capable of doing so after being empowered by the Supreme Lord. The potential is there to begin with, and someone has to be behind that potential.
पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं
यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति
तद् अहं भक्त्य्-उपहृतम्
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
Krishna gives confirmation that a flower offering will be accepted by Him. The mood of the offering is what matters. Why wouldn’t He accept a flower delivered to Him with a smile, for the sole purpose of His satisfaction? It is not like the devotee becomes poorer in the process. It is not a debit to their bank account, as the flower is often times returned to be shared with others. This is known as prasadam, and it is amazingly potent in the way of purifying consciousness.
2. It takes some effort to create
While the flower is typically not in scarcity and easy to retrieve once sighted, to make the garland requires effort. This is a benefit. Any reward worth achieving requires some work. While Bhagavan is accessible to each person through the close proximity of the expansion known as Supersoul [Paramatma], to actually move towards Him with sincere purpose is rare.
बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
The time spent making the garland is equivalent to association with Krishna. This is the meaning of Absolute. Typing translations of Vedic texts glorifying Bhagavan is identical to chanting His holy names on a set of japa beads: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
3. It looks nice
The garland looks nice on Him. It further underscores the importance of the personal form. Many schools of spirituality, some even linked to Vedic culture, vehemently oppose the concept of God having a form. Either out of ignorance or sheer denial of the realization that man cannot be God, they will not approach the Supreme Lord in person.
The tendency towards individuality and personal association will remain, however. Therefore, it is better to take the authorized approach and learn what exactly the Divine looks like. His form is not in duality like ours, and He is not limited to a single manifestation. The important thing is that God lives and we can live with Him, as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says.
4. His wife’s name is Padmini
The lotus flower is one of the symbols representing Lakshmi Devi, the goddess of fortune. One of her names is Padmini, as she is always around such flowers. Lakshmi is the wife of Narayana, which is another form of Krishna. This means that the flower garland automatically has association to the person most dear to Shri Krishna.
5. He is always victorious
This kind of flower garland is sometimes known as a jaimala. It is the garland of victory. Vishnu received this one time when a beautiful princess chose Him over Narada Muni. Shri Rama received it directly from Lakshmi Devi’s incarnation of Sita after winning the contest of the bow in Janakpur.
Bhagavan is Achyuta and Ajita. He never falls down and He is never conquered. Thus it is proper for the garland of victory to always be around His neck. The same properties descend to devotion. Bhakti is ever-glorious and one indication of its presence is the offering of beautiful items to Krishna and those devoted to Him.
Glorious the process known,
By pure devotion shown.
That Krishna garland to wear,
In Gokula and Vaikuntha there.
Some effort making required,
But rewarded when inspired.
Since in victory position’s commanding,
With transcendental features understanding.
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