Archive for the 'Birthdays' Category

22 July 2009

July 22 2009

Here’s a bit of feedback I received over my previous posting about devotee’s celebrating birthdays. Its from Gita Vadhwana-Gandhari dasi:

“I  was  very  happy  that you asked  such  an  important question  listed on as  well as  on your  blog.  Having  come  from Vedic background  I  can  share  some insights  for your  pleasure  and  the pleasure  of  other devotees and  Vaisnavas.

I  came across an  article  on  one of the  Hinduism  websites. This  is  how  it  was  explained,  that  on one’s  birthday,  we are  supposed  to  plant  seedlings of  trees starting  from five trees on first  birthday


and  increasing  by  five  every  five  years  or  so. Because  it  was  mentioned  that  it is  more  sinful  to cut  a  tree than kill a  human being  because  a  tree  supports  millions  of  living entities  so  it  is  more  valuable.

Also  one  should  distribute  prasada,  feed  brahmanas, give  in  charity,  pay  respects  to  elders  and  get  their  blessings  on  birthdays.  The reasons  for  this  is  that  it is understood in Vedic culture, that  as  soon as  one  is  born,  he  is  indebted to  Devas, Rsi, Nars, Pitris  and  all living  entities.  Therefore  performing  charity, sacrifice  and austerities  is recommended,  especially on  special days.

There  were  specific details  how  one  should  observe 50th  and  80th birthdays.  I  think, it  was  something  like  younger  people   should  get blessings  from  these  elders  because  they  have  lots  of  wisdom.

Another  explanation  which  was  quite  interesting  is  that  in Vedic Culture  one  gives  lights (or deepas, candles) in charity  or  place lights  up  the pathways,  which  signifies  knowledge  or  gift of knowledge.  E.g.  in Nectar of Devotion  it is  written  that  one  should  construct  sitting places,  dig wells  and  give  lamps or  create  street lights  for charity  as pious activities.

But  in the Western Culture,  they  blow off  the  candles on the cake, which is completely opposite to  the Vedic Culture of  lighting  the  lamps  in celebrations  e.g. Diwali and other festivals.  So  it  makes  sense,  to  give lamps and  candles  in charity  instead of   blowing  the  candles out on  the birthday.

So in conclusion,  one should give gifts  to brahmanas instead of  receiving gifts on  birthdays,  and feed  the  brahmanas and  Vaisnavas and   elders  to get  their  blessings.  Moreover  in Vedic Culture  on  special  occasions one  always  gives  gifts  first to  the  girls  and  women  of  the  house then  to  others  e.g. brahmanas, guru and  Vaisnavas.

Hope  this  helps. Aspiring Sevak, Mother Gandharidasi (Wife of Svayambhuva Manudas)

Thanks to Gandhari for these insights. Does anyone else have any comment or further information on celebrating birthdays and special days?

Your humble servant,

Hari-sauri dasa

Q&As Birthdays
25 May 2009

May 25 2009

Here’s a question about observing birthdays from someone who prefers to be anonymous:

“During Prabhupada’s time, was there anything special done on devotee’s birthdays — particularly temple/ashram brahmacharis/devotees. Anything like a festival/program/feast or glorification for that devotee on that particular day. What was Prabhupada’s mood regarding this. Did he offer any special mercy to you on your birthday? What is our standard today?”


There was no special observation of regular devotees’ birthdays. We were always taught that the only birthdays that should be observed were that of the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord.

Sometimes Srila Prabhupada followed traditional culture and offered some bangles or ornaments to small children on their birthdays. When his son Brindaban Candra had a baby girl, Srila Prabhupada gave him one of his gold rings as a gift for the child.

In Folio also you can find a letter addressed to Sally Agarwal where Srila Prabhupada gives his blessings to her baby girl on her third birthday and says:

New York
19 November, 1965

My dear daughter Sally,
I beg to thank you for your kind letter of the 16th instant and I have noted the contents carefully. I am glad to learn that you had been to your parents house for a few days and now you have returned home. I am still more glad to learn that you are going to observe the third birthday of Miss Kamala Agarwal on Saturday next. On this occasion I should have presented her some ornaments but as I am a Sannyasi I can simply offer my blessing for her long life and good prosperity. She cannot now read otherwise at least I should have presented a set of my books. But you set aside one set of my books for her future reading when she will grow up a beautiful and educated girls with full god consciousness. …”

I know a lot of devotees like to observe the birthday of other devotees with a cake or some other observation. Personally I don’t have any enthusiasm for observing birthdays and I have been known to completely forget my own.


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