No material object can support one’s attainment of the transcendental goal. The only thing that facilitates this is the awakening of the inclination towards Iswara (God). This inclination is inherent within the Jivatma (living entity), and is gradually strengthened and converted into Bhakti when one utters the name of God, recites His pastimes, and receives inspiration from beholding the Deity (Sri Vigraha).
In the book Jaiva-Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur a interesting discussion takes place between Advaita Das and Digambara, who where friends from early childhood but now meet after a long time. Digambara became a follower of the Goddess Durga and tries to explain his superior status.
Advaita Das asked a question: “Please explain one idea to me. What is civilization, and what is material science?”
Digambara: Civilization means to speak courteously in a cultured society, to dress oneself in a respectable and pleasing manner, and to eat and to conduct oneself in a way that is not repugnant to others. You do none of these things.
Advaita: Why do you say that?
Digambara: You are distinctly unsociable, for you do not mingle with others. The Vaishnavas have never learned what it means to please others with sweet words. As soon as they lay eyes on anyone, they command him to chant HariNama. Why, is there no other civilized discussion?
Anyone who sees your dress will not be in clined to let you sit in an assembly. You wear a loincloth, a peculiar tuft of hair on the top of your head, and a garland of beads around your neck. What kind of an outfit is this? And you eat only potatoes and roots. You are not at all civilized.
Tulsi – that can be used in the service of Radha and Krishna (like deity worship) is commonly found in two varieties – the green coloured Lakshmi Tulsi (or Radha Tulsi) and the purple hued Krishna Tulsi (also Shyam Tulsi, Vishnu Tulsi or Vishnu Priya Tulsi). Ayurveda also uses names like White Tulsi (Shweta Tulsi) and Black Tulsi (Krushna Tulsi) respectively.
The Shastra (vedic scriptures) were manifested from this merciful consideration of Sri Bhagavan (GOD). Issuing forth by His mercy, the sun of the Shastra arose in the sky of the hearts of the ancient Aryans, and illuminated all the injunctions and rules to be followed by the populace.
In the beginning was the Veda-Shastra. One part of the Veda-Shastra teaches pious activities directed toward the attainment of material fruits (Karma); one part teaches knowledge directed toward liberation (Jnana), and another part teaches devotion with love and affection for Bhagavan (Bhakti). The Jivas (living enteritis) who are infatuated with Maya (illusion) are found in many different conditions. Some are completely stupefied, some have a little knowledge, and some are knowledgeable in many subjects. The Shastra provides different types of instructions that are consistent with the different mentalities of the Jivas. This differentiation is known as Adhikara, eligibility.
Vrindavan (forest of Vrinda) has an ancient past, associated with Hindu history, and is an important Hindu pilgrimage site. One of its oldest surviving temples is the Govinda Deva temple, built in 1590. The essence of Vrindavan was lost over time until the 16th century, when it was rediscovered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the year 1515, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana, with the purpose of locating the lost holy places associated with Lord Sri Krishna’s transcendent pastimes.
About Kamika Ekadasi and the relation to Srimati Tulsi Devi
Oh Naradji, Lord Shri Hari Himself once said about this Ekadasi:
One who fasts on Kamika Ekadasi attains much more merit than one who studies all the spiritual literatures.
Anyone who fasts on this particular day remains awake throughout the night will never experience the anger of Yamaraja, the king of death personified.
It has been seen that whoever observes Kamika Ekadasi will not have to suffer future births, and in the past too, many Yogis of devotion who fasted on this day went to the spiritual world. One should therefore follow in their auspicious footsteps and strictly observe a fast on this most auspicious of Ekadasis.
There a many reservations from other religions about the worship of deity’s (form’s of God’s and Goddesses in the temple) in Hinduism. Its called idolatry and is not recommended in Christianity, Islam and perhaps other beliefs.
The ‘Jaiva Dharma’ book – compiled by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has a chapter (Nitya-Dharma & Idolatry) where a Islamic Mullah ask questions and brings arguments like this:
Isn’t meditating on a form of the Lord within one’s mind superior to imagining a form with the help of the material elements?
In our Koran it is written that the Supreme Entity has a divine all-conscious form, so we are compelled to accept this fact. However, any image of that spiritual form is material; that is what we call but. The worship of but is not the worship of the Supreme Being.
Matter is distinct from God. I think that it is better not to worship material objects, because it is said that Satan introduced the worship of matter to keep the living entities bound in the material world.
Than the Vaishnava Pandit Goracandra Das Babaji of Mayapur gave some points and views on this topic: (its shortened here to bring some interesting points only)
Surya, the Sun, gives life potency to the living entities. Because of its connection with Surya, Makhara-sankranti is very auspicious. On that day, almost everyone with any connection to Vedic or Indian culture takes bath, either in the Godavari, Jamuna, Ganges, or in any other river, or in the ocean. This takes place especially in India, but it also goes on to some extent around the world. On this day it is auspicious to give donations to others.
purodhasāḿ ca mukhyaḿ māḿ
viddhi pārtha bṛhaspatim
senānīnām ahaḿ skandaḥ
sarasām asmi sāgaraḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 10.24
Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Brihaspati. Of generals I am Kartikeya, and of bodies of water I am the ocean.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Indra is the chief demigod of the heavenly planets and is known as the king of the heavens. The planet on which he reigns is called Indraloka. Brihaspati is Indra’s priest, and since Indra is the chief of all kings, Brihaspati is the chief of all priests. And as Indra is the chief of all kings, similarly Skanda, or Kartikeya, the son of Parvati and Lord Shiva, is the chief of all military commanders. And of all bodies of water, the ocean is the greatest. These representations of Krishna only give hints of His greatness.
Why you should not eat meat is also described in the oldest holy, religiose and philosophical scriptures that can be found on planet earth, like the vedic Manu-samhita and Mahabharata.
The self-created Manu has said that the man who does not eat meat, or who does not kill living creatures, or who does not cause them to be killed, is a friend of all creatures.
Manu-Samhita: Manu Smriti @ Wikipedia
“Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to the attainment of heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun the use of meat. Having well considered the disgusting origin of flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from eating flesh.”(Manu-samhita 5.48-49)