Creating a Home Altar
A simple home altar can be set up horizontally or vertically. It does not have to be elaborate. It is good to start with nicely framed pictures, and it should be easy to clean.
The pictures can be set up in a line on top of a dresser, shelf, buffet, or other piece of furniture. Or, they can be set up vertically on a book shelf.
For a horizontal alignment, starting on the left, we would have-
Śrīla Prabhupāda and disciplic succession. Left to right, from viewer perspective- Our Śrīla Prabhupāda, his spiritual master Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, his spiritual master Śrīla Gaurakishora dāsa Bābājī, Śrīla Bhaktivinode Ṭhākura, the birth father of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and then, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī, the spiritual master of Śrīla Bhaktivinode Ṭhākura and the great personality who revealed the birth site of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and other holy places in Navadvīpa-dhāma. It is easy to find these pictures online, and can be purchased already lined up and framed, often in clear plexiglass or plastic.
It is not within Vaiṣṇava etiquette to give spiritual initiation to one’s own offspring, so even though Śrīla Bhaktivinode Ṭhākura was spiritually qualified to offer initiation to his son, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, he requested his son to beg dīkṣā, or initiation, from the greatly qualified and renounced devotional personality, Śrīla Gaurakishora dāsa Bābājī.
To their right, according to our vision, the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana. Some of the greatest of the Lord’s personal associates from the spiritual realm came to this world to introduce, lead, and support the nectarean preaching mission of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and the Six Gosvāmīs are topmost representatives of this class of devotee. Their pastimes with the Lord are transcendentally uplifting to the highest degree.
To their right, by viewer perspective, The Pañca-Tattva, or the Five Truths. They are pictured together, with Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the center, Lord Nityānanda Rāma to His right, or viewer left, Śrī Advaita Ācārya to the right of Lord Nityānanda, or far left from viewer perspective, Śrī Gadādhara to the immediate left of Lord Caitanya, or viewer right, and then Śrī Śrīvas, far right from the viewer perspective. The Pañca -Tattva must be properly worshiped in order to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They accept no offenses, and thus enable us to make spiritual progress in spite of our own frailties. There is another section in the Purify My Life series dedicated solely to the Pañca-Tattva, and much more wondrous and relishable information is available about Them, and about the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, in the set of literatures called Caitanya Caritāmṛta that is available from PurelyPrabhupada.com.
It is also very auspicious to invite the presence, protection, and blessings of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva is the unique incarnation of the Lord in the form of half man, half lion. He is the protector of the devotees. He can be pictured in both an angry form, destroying the great demon Hiraṇyakaśipu, or in a peaceful form, being praised and appeased by His dear devotee, Prahlāda Mahārāj. The story of His appearance is related in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, seventh canto. He would be placed to viewer right of the Pañca-Tattva, or even far right on the altar.
There can also be other pictures of Viṣṇu-Tattva forms. We would recommend Śrī-Śrī Gaura-Nitai, Lord Jagannātha, Balarāma, and Lady Subhadrā, and/or the Divine Couple, Śrī-Śrī Rādhā and Krishna. These can be bonafide art work or even photos of deities from a temple.
For a vertical altar set-up, Śrīla Prabhupāda, the disciplic succession, and the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana would be on the lower shelf. On the shelf just above them, or to their right, from viewer perspective, would be the Pañca-Tattva, depending on the space you have. On the top level would be Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva and the other Viṣṇu -Tattva personalities to Whom you are attracted.
Can offer water, (get little cups), incense, foodstuffs, flowers, flower vases
When you start to offer some things to the Lord, be very simple, as it is nice to make a commitment that is within reason and that can be maintained on a regular basis.