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.
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.
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.
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)
This is a conversation by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja about the Sri Damodarastakam that is especially celebrate in the month of Kartika (Oct/Nov) by the Devotees of Krishna, every morning and evening, in the temples and in every house.
Satyavrata Muni had prayed in verse 7:
“You were bound by of Mother Yasoda, and at that time You delivered Manigriva and Nalakuvera from maya and awarded them prema-bhakti. I don’t want the benediction of impersonal liberation. It is prema-bhakti that I want, but not ordinary prema-bhakti. I want the liberation of prema-bhakti that You awarded to Manigriva and Nalakuvera.”
Srila Sanatana Gosvami was practicing bhajana near the Yamuna River at Kaliya-hrada, the former abode of the very poisonous snake named Kaliya. Kaliya-hrada was close to the Yamuna, and therefore its surrounding area was full of sand. Srila Sanatana Gosvami wore only a loincloth. He used to go begging door-to-door for a small amount of prasada (Krsna’s food remnants), and would take as his meal only one dry chapatti (flat bread), with no salt.
The brahmana arrived at his cottage and told him, “I went to Sankara Mahadeva, Lord Siva, and he told me to meet you. He said you will give me some wealth for my daughter’s marriage.” Sanatana Gosvami replied, “I have no possessions. You can see that I have nothing but a loincloth.” Then he thought, “Oh, Siva cannot tell a lie. He is my bosom friend.” Thinking of Lord Siva and contemplating further, he remembered a touchstone he had once disgarded and then forgotten. Now he told the brahmana, “Go to the Yamuna and remove some of the sand, and there you will find a touchstone. It is somewhere in the sand, though I don’t remember where.”
In the vedic scriptures you can find answers that are good to know. Where do we come from? Clear statement we can find also in the purports of the mantras 16. and 17. of the Śrī Īśopaniṣad given bei A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. That is a standard book and all Vaishnavas and truth-seeker should have read it and accept the philosophical points.
(from mantra 16.)
The all-pervading feature of the Lord – which exists in all circumstances of waking and sleeping as well as in potential states and from which the jīva-śakti (living force) is generated as both conditioned and liberated souls – is known as Brahman.