Sraddha (1) Faith in the scriptures’ meaning, developed by hearing the scriptures from the sadhus.
Sadhu-sanga (2) Taking shelter at the feet of Sri Guru to learn the practice of bhajan.
Bhajana-kriya (3) Practising hearing, chanting, and other forms of service according to Sri Guru and the sadhus’ instructions.
Anartha-nivrtti (4) Removing sins, misconceptions, sorrows, and so forth, which are opposed to the ultimate goal of life.
Nistha (5) Constant, undeviating service.
Ruchi (6) Insightful desire for the Lord and His service.
Asakti (7) Natural attraction to the Lord and His service.
Bhava (8) That which melts the heart with divine attraction to the Lord and His service; the rays from the sun of prema.
Prema (9) Intense bhava that completely melts the heart and fills one with intense affectionate attachment.
The Sixty-Four Practices of Devotion
(Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s Amrta-pravaha-bhasya on Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta)
(1) Taking shelter at Sri Guru’s feet.
(2) Accepting initiation
(3) Serving Sri Guru
(4) Asking and learning about true religion
(5) Following the sadhus’ path
(6) Sacrificing one’s own enjoyment out of love for Krishna
(7) Residing in Krishna’s abode
(8) Accepting only what is required to maintain one’s life
(9) Observing Ekadasi
(10) Honouring myrobalan trees, banyan trees, cows, brahmans, and Vaisnavas
(11) Avoiding offences to the Name and the Deity
(12) Giving up non-devotees’ association
(13) Not making many disciples
(14) Not studying partially and commenting upon numerous texts
(15) Being indifferent about loss and gain
(16) Not becoming subdued by lamentation
(17) Not disrespecting other Deities or scriptures
(18) Not listening to blasphemy of the Lord or His devotees
(19) Not listening to village talk (any talk that pertains to sense gratification)
(20) Not disturbing others with one’s mind or words
(21) Hearing about the Lord
(22) Chanting about Lord
(23) Remembering the Lord
(24) Worshipping the Lord
(25) Praying to the Lord
(26) Serving the Lord
(27) Having the mood of the Lord’s servant
(28) Having the mood of the Lord’s friend
(29) Surrendering oneself to the Lord
(30) Dancing before the Deity
(31) Singing for the Deity
(32) Expressing one’s heart to the Deity
(33) Offering obeisance to the Deity
(34) Standing up out of respect when the Deity or a devotee arrives
(35) Following the Deity or a devotee in the procession
(36) Visiting holy places and Temples of the Lord’s Deities
(37) Circumambulating the Deity
(38) Reciting hymns
(39) Chanting japa
(40) Chanting in congregation
(41) Honouring incense, garlands, and so on, that have been offered to the Deity
(42) Honouring maha-prasadam
(43) Participating in aratis and festivals
(44) Visiting the Deity
(45) Offering what is dear to oneself to the Deity
(47) Serving Tulasi
(48) Serving devotees
(49) Serving the Lord’s abode
(50) Relishing Bhagavatam
(51) Endeavouring solely for Krishna’s sake
(52) Looking for the Lord’s mercy
(53) Celebrating festivals with devotees honouring the Lord’s Pastimes
(54) Surrendering in all respects
(55) Observing Kartik and other rites
(56) Marking the body with devotional symbols
(57) Marking the body with the Lord’s Names
(58) Adorning the body with offerings of flowers made to the Deity
(59) Drinking the Deity’s charanamrta
(60) Associating with sadhus
(61) Chanting the Name
(62) Hearing Srimad Bhagavatam
(63) Residing in Mathura
(64) Faithfully serving the Deity.
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei pancha anga
krsna-prema janmaya ei panchera alpa sanga
The last five practices are the best of all the practices of devotion. Even slight connection with these five practices causes divine love for Krishna to arise.
The Symptoms of Unsteadiness in Devotional Practice
(Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur’s Sri Madhurya-kadambini)
(1) Sudden enthusiasm (utsahamayi).
(2) Wavering endeavour (ghana-tarala, lit. thick-thin) .
(3) Indecision (vyudha-vikalpa)
(4) Struggle with the mundane, senses (visaya-sangara).
(5) Inability to follow guidelines (niyamaksama).
(6) Attachment to the by-products of devotional practice—wealth, enjoyment, adoration, and so on (taranga-rangini, lit. dabbling in the waves of the ocean of bhakti).
The Five Obstacles in Devotional Practice
(Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur’s Sri Madhurya-kadambini)
(1) Lethargy: becoming drowsy while engaged in hearing, chanting, remembering, and other devotional practices.
(2) Distraction: discussing or remembering ordinary matters while engaged in devotional practices.
(3) Indifference: feeling that one is unable to engage in devotional practice.
(4) Sin: being captivated by anger, greed, pride, and so on, while engaged in devotional practice.
(5) Taste for the mundane: not being consciously immersed while engaged in devotional practice because of one’s attachment to material enjoyment.
The Four Obstacles to Devotion (Anarthas)
(Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s Bhajana-rahasya)
1) Misconception of the Truth.
(a) Misconception of one’s true self.
(b) Misconception of the Supreme.
(c) Misconception of the goal of life and the means to attain it.
(d) Misconception of that which is antithetical.
2) Desire for illusory ends.
a) Bhukti: enjoyment.
—Worldly enjoyment in the form of family, wealth, luxury, and so on.
—Heavenly enjoyment in the form of a birth in a heavenly paradise after death.
(b) Siddhi: supernatural powers.
—Becoming smaller than the smallest;
—Becoming greater than the greatest;
—Becoming lighter than the lightest;
—Acquiring whatever one desires;
—Experiencing any enjoyable object, either in this world or the next;
—Capacity to manipulate Maya’s sub-potencies;
—Becoming unimpeded by the three modes of material nature;
—The ability to acquire anything from anywhere, to the highest possible limit.
(c) Mukti: liberation from birth and death.
3) Offences (aparadha).
(a) Nama-aparadha: offences against the Holy Name.
(b) Seva-aparadha: offences made during service and worship.
(c) Vaisnava-aparadha: offences against Vaisnavas.
(d) Dhama-aparadha: offences against the Holy Dham.
(e) Jiva-aparadha: offences against other souls.
4) Weakness of the heart.
(a) Attachment to things unrelated to Krishna and His service (tuchchha-asakti).
(b) Duplicity (kutinati).
(c) Envy; coveting the good fortune of others (matsarya).
(d) Desire for name and fame (pratistha).
The Threefold Miseries of Material Existence
(Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s Anubhasya on Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta)
1) Adhyatmika: miseries caused by the self.
(a) Bodily misery: fever, cold, and all other illnesses.
(b) Mental misery: separation from one’s companions and all other forms of anxiety.
2) Adhibhautika: miseries caused by other living beings.
(a) Miseries caused by living entities born from wombs.
(b) Miseries caused by living entities born from eggs.
(c) Miseries caused by living entities born from moisture.
(d) Miseries caused by living entities born from vegetation.
3) Adhidaivika: miseries caused by the forces of nature.
(a) Miseries caused by the demigods, such as Indra, Surya, and so on, such as severe cold, lightning, and so forth.
(b) Miseries caused by evil spirits, such as the Yaksas and Pisachas, such as danger, inauspiciousness, distress, and so on.
The Five Diseases
(1) Ignorance of one’s true identity as an eternal soul and servant of Krishna (avidya).
(2) Identification with the material body and possessiveness about one’s transitory body, wife, sons, and so on (asmita).
(3) Obsession with facilities for the body (raga).
(4) Revulsion to anything opposed to one’s enjoyment (dves).
(5) Absorption in things favourable to oneself and incapacity to sacrifice them (abhinives).
The Four Defects of the Conditioned Soul
(1) Misunderstanding: mistaking one thing for another, such as a rope for a snake.
(2) Inattentiveness: carelessness, to understand, hear, or say things in a wrong way.
(3) Deceit: the desire to cheat.
(4) Sensory deficiency: being unable to see a long distance or a small object, being unable to hear something situated far away, or mistaking one colour for another.
The Ten Offences to The Holy Name
(1) Criticising sadhus.
(2) Considering any of the gods to be lords independent of Krishna.
(3) Disobeying Sri Guru.
(4) Criticising the scriptures.
(5) Considering the Holy Name’s glory exaggerated praise.
(6) Considering the Holy Name imaginary.
(7) Considering that one can sin (and be absolved) because one chants the Holy Name.
(8) Considering chanting the Holy Name equivalent to pious worldly works.
(9) Giving the Holy Name to faithless persons on account of material attachment.
(10) Remaining devoid of love for the Holy Name and filled with egotism and possessiveness even after hearing the Holy Name’s glories.
The Four Forms of Criticising Sadhus (sadhu-ninda)
(Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s Hari-nama-chintamani)
(1) To criticise a sadhu for a fault in the circumstances of his birth.
(2) To criticise a sadhu for an accidental, unintentional, or unknowing fault.
(3) To criticise a sadhu for faults that are almost rectified.
(4) To criticise a sadhu for faults that occurred prior to his surrendering.
The Thirty-Two Types of Seva-Aparadha
(1) Entering the Lord’s Temple in a vehicle or while wearing shoes.
(2) Not celebrating the Lord’s birthday and other Pastimes.
(3) Not offering obeisance when coming before the Deity.
(4) Worshipping the Deity with an unclean body or while in an impure state.
(5) Offering obeisance with one hand.
(6) Strolling or pacing before the Deity.
(7) Spreading one’s legs before the Deity.
(8) Sitting before the Deity while holding up one’s knees with one’s forearms.
(9) Lying down before the Deity.
(10) Eating before the Deity.
(11) Telling lies before the Deity.
(12) Speaking loudly before the Deity.
(13) Conversing privately before the Deity.
(14) Crying before the Deity.
(15) Quarrelling before the Deity.
(16) Chastising someone before the Deity.
(17) Being charitable to someone before the Deity.
(18) Behaving or speaking cruelly towards common people.
(19) Serving the Deity while covered with a wool, fur or down blanket.
(20) Criticising others before the Deity.
(21) Praising others before the Deity.
(22) Using foul language before the Deity.
(23) Passing air before the Deity.
(24) Financial fraud: organising a festival or offering worship at a lower cost or with fewer ingredients than one is able to provide.
(25) Taking items that have not been offered to the Deity for oneself.
(26) Not offering fruits and grains to the Deity when they are fresh, or in season.
(27) Giving the best part of collected ingredients to others and offering the remains to the Deity.
(28) Sitting with one’s back to the Deity.
(29) Offering obeisances to others before the Deity.
(30) Remaining quiet and not offering praise, obeisance, and so on before Sri Gurudev.
(31) Praising oneself before Sri Gurudev.
(32) Criticising the demigods.
The Ten Offences to the Holy Dham
(1) Disrespecting Sri Guru and the sadhus, who are the revealers of the Dham.
(2) Considering the Dham temporary.
(3) Harming the residents and visitors of the Dham, or judging them by their birth.
(4) Residing in the Dham and engaging in mundane activities.
(5) Making money or a business of Deity worship on the pretext of serving the Dham.
(6) Considering the Dham equal to places of demigods or material land.
(7) Considering that one can sin (and be absolved) because one resides in the Dham.
(8) Considering Nabadwip different from Vrindavan.
(9) Criticising the scriptures that glorify the Dham.
(10) Considering the glory of the Dham exaggerated praise or imaginary.
The Four Pillars of Dharma
The Four Pillars of Irreligion
(3) Selfish desire.
(4) Violence (envy).
The Five Places of Kali
(1) Dyuta: dice, cards, chess, horse racing, the lottery, and other sorts of gaming or gambling. Its basis is falsehood, and it destroys the virtue of truthfulness. (Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur notes that Kali is always creating newer and newer forms of games to lead people away from dharma.)
(2) Pana: alcohol, wine, ganja, tobacco, opium, and any other intoxicant. Its basis is pride, and it destroys the virtue of mercy.
(3) Stri: illicit association with the opposite sex, attachment to one’s spouse, and association with those who engage in illicit association. Its basis is lust, and it destroys the virtue of purity.
(4) Suna: taking the life of an animal for the sake of one’s own body. Its basis is violence, and it destroys all virtues (truthfulness, mercy, cleanliness, and austerity). Anyone who kills an animal, as well as anyone who prepares, cooks, transports, sells, serves, or eats it, is implicated in such sin.
(5) Jata: gold, silver, money, and other forms of wealth. Within these, falsehood, pride, lust, violence, and enmity are all present.
Unfavourable for Devotion Urges
(1) The urge to speak: using words in a way that disturbs others.
(2) The urges of the mind: various types of desires.
(3) The urge of anger: using harsh language, and so on.
(4) The urge of the tongue: desire for the six tastes (sweet, sour, pungent, salty, astringent, and bitter).
(5) The urge of the belly: excessive eating.
(6) The urge of the genitals: the desire for sex.
Obstacles to Devotion
(1) Atyahara: Excessive eating or accumulation.
(2) Prayasa: Materialistic endeavours or activities that are opposed to devotion.
(3) Prajalpa: Unnecessary talk of village matters to pass the time.
(4) Niyamagraha: Attachment to regulations meant for persons in a lower stage or indifference to regulations that nourish devotion.
(5) Janasanga: Association with persons other than pure devotees and their followers.
(6) Laulya: Being fickle-minded in the company of followers of other conceptions and being attracted to insignificant matters.
Favourable for Devotion Qualities
(1) Engaging in devotional practices with enthusiasm and adoration (utsaha).
(2) Firm faith (nischay).
(3) Not slackening one’s practice when seeing that a long time is needed to reach the goal (dhairya).
(4) Activities nourishing to devotion: hearing, chanting, making a sacrifice of one’s happiness for Krishna’s sake, and so on (bhakti-posaka karma).
(5) Avoiding bad association, that is, the association of the irreligious, those who associate inappropriately with the opposite sex, those who are excessively attached to their spouse, and non-devotees, namely materialists, illusionists, atheists, and religious hypocrites (sanga-tyaga).
(6) Following the disciplines and professions by which the sadhus practise and maintain their lives (sad-vrtti).
Nourishing for Devotion Association
(1) Affectionately giving a devotee useful materials.
(2) Accepting materials given by devotees.
(3) Discussing confidential subjects with devotees.
(4) Asking devotees about confidential subjects.
(5) Eating rice and other foods given by devotees.
(6) Affectionately feeding devotees.