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Discussions specifically related with the various aspects of practice of bhakti-sadhana in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

The Beginner's Practice - What should the beginner's practice be?

Nilamadhava dasa - Tue, 29 Jan 2002 06:41:35 +0530
I offer my prostated obeisances to all of the assembled Vaisnavas.

What should be the practice of one who is not yet initiated,  but desires such shelter?  I know that one must hear and chant, but what about other rules that can be helpful? In what way should one act so that her/his chanting and hearing will be most effective?

Also, is there a basic Vaisnava sadaacara (rules of cleanliness) that should be followed by the beginner?

I apologize to ask so many questions at once. I pray that by the mercy of the Vaisnavas I will be able to understand these topics and progress on the path of Bhakti.

aspiring devotee,
Nilamadhava dasa
Raga - Sun, 03 Feb 2002 00:45:11 +0530
Thank you for the question -- it is a question of mine as well. I think we're just about to get an answer, as soon as Advaitadas makes his way through the blocks and fences of -- I think soon enough. He's been working on it for a while...
theman - Sun, 03 Feb 2002 12:08:57 +0530
the 5 most potent activities for advancing in bhakti are given in brs.  look it up   [-iI-] [I]
Advaitadas - Tue, 05 Feb 2002 06:47:21 +0530
Dear Nilamadhava, Jay Radhe.

Before taking diksa one should follow the regulative principles of sadacara. sad = good and acara = behaviour. This is physically, mentally and verbally. Physically means one abstains from contaminating activities such as unnecessary sexual activities, consumption of alcohol, drugs, non-vegetarian food and food which is not offered to Radha-Krishna.

There is an elaborate system of physical cleanliness also, including not wearing cotton clothes while passing stool, not worshipping the deity while menstruating etc. This is a large subject matter. It is very hard to learn this without being in the holy places of Gaudiya Vaishnava religion such as Radhakunda Vrindavana or Navadvipa.

It is best learned from experienced persons there on the spot. One must also inquire about suitable and qualified Acharyas who are willing and able to give diksa and one must choose the suitable person from amongst them. Suitable in the sense that he must practise a mode of worship or upasana that the candidate is attracted to.

nitai - Wed, 06 Feb 2002 04:43:21 +0530
Let me add my two cents to those of Advaita Das on this question.  Sadacara is a very important part of the smarana process.  It is important for other forms of worship as well.  The ultimate authority on sadacara is of course the Hari-bhakti-vilasa and it can be a complicated process.  Advaitadas is right that one of the best ways of learning it is to go and live among the baba.  That route will also make you humble, because you will always be doing something wrong.  I can't tell you how many times I was hollered at when I was living with Baba about something I did, usually unknowingly, but sometimes unthinkingly.  Still, I eventually learned and having learned I realized that there is really a very simple principle operating behind sadacara.  It is the principle of maintaining ritual purity at all times.  When one sits down to recite one's mantras or visualize the lila one should be ritually pure.  This means bathing after doing anything that is ritually impure, like passing stool or coming into contact with anything impure.  Even the clothes one wears are polluted when worn in the bathroom, except for wool and silk.  Those are considered perpetually pure.  Most of what is known as sadacara can be observed be simply living according to good hygiene.  Bath daily after passing stool, put on clean clothes everyday, wash your hands before and after eating, eat with only your right hand, eat only pure foods,  don't bring food remnants into contact with things that are pure, etc. etc.  Most of it is common sense. For the fews things that aren't consult the Hbv.  

Hope this helps.
Mina - Fri, 01 Mar 2002 08:00:50 +0530
Westerners tend to put their hands in their mouths or bite their nails without giving it a second thought.  Not only is that bad for public health because its spreads viral and microbial illnesses, but it also makes one ritually impure.   Simply wash your hands after doing so (if you bite your nails, you need to break that habit).  Keep your hands clean in he kitchen and wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.  If you cut a piece of fruit, you can easily transfer bacteria or pesticides with the knife to the inside from the rind.  Some strict Vaishnavas even wash the fruit after cutting it up.
anuraag - Sat, 02 Mar 2002 07:33:12 +0530
Jaya Sri Radhey!
Namaste all.

Sri Roopa Goswami says -

"yena tena prakAreNa
manaH kRSNe nivezayat
sarve vidhi niSedhAsyur
ye tayoreva kimkaraH "

Whatever way helps the devotee to absorb his mind and heart in spontaneous Divne Love of Lord Krishna, the devotee should follow.

All the VAIDHI bhakti rules and regulations are otherwise, only SERVANTS of Raganuga Bhakti.

The servants of 'rules and regulations' just provide trivial assistance to the loving devotees if at all the need should arise.

"yadA yamanu gRhNAti
bhagavAnAtma bhAvitaH
sa jahAti matiM
loke vede ca pariniSThitAM."

(Bhagavatam 4.29.46)

Sri Narada muni says-

"When, contemplated upon with in the Loving Heart,

Jaya Sri Radhey!
theman - Sat, 02 Mar 2002 08:02:16 +0530
In addition to external cleanliness  [:_] , internal cleanliness  has to be followed.

Watching tv and movies, surfing the net, reading books, socializing, and dating should be kept to an absolute minimum.  
You'll get the picture.
Raga - Sun, 03 Mar 2002 00:01:24 +0530
Watching tv and movies, surfing the net, reading books, socializing, and dating should be kept to an absolute minimum.  You'll get the picture.

Of course (vide BRS)...

anyabhilasita sunyam jnana-karmady anavrtam |
anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama|| the ultimate, everything besides favorable endeavors of serving Sri Yugala Kishora should be kept to minimum, or rather sunyam -- zero -- but as I understood, this was not all that much a question of understanding bhakti-tattva as it was a question of external codes of conduct etc.

I believe the influence of our cultural surrounding is greater on the latter than on the former in our initial stages of acquainting ourselves with the culture of devotion. I'm sure we all recognize having been in a situation where our heart blossoms with enthusiasm to surrender and to serve, but we don't quite know how to express it in the practical world out there.
anuraag - Sun, 03 Mar 2002 00:50:23 +0530
Jaya Sri Radhey!
More beautiful verses from Srimad Bhagavatam on Raganuga Sadhana Bhakti:

"gRheSva va sthito rAjan kriyAh kurvan gRhocitAH
vAsudevArpaNaM sAkSA dupAsIta mahAmuni"

"zRNvan bhagavato 'bhIkSNamavatArakatham
zradda dhAno yathAkAlam upazAnta janAvRtaH"

"satsaGgAcchanakaiH saGgamAtmajAyAtmajAdiSu
vimucyen mucyamAneSu svayaM svapnavad utthitaH"

"yAvadarthamupAsIno dehe gehe ca paNDitaH
virakto raktavat tatra nRloke naratAM nyaset"

(Srimad Bhagavatam. 7.14.2-5)


Sri Narada Muni declares, "A householder, who performs his or her daily duties as an offering to His pleasure only with his (her) mind engrossed in Lord Vasudeva, engaging in the service of His devoted Saints, though living in a household, is separate from it, and attains Divine Association."

"Surrounded by liberated Saints who are tranquil by nature and reverently hearing again and again according to his leisure the nectar-like stories of the Lord's descents, he should gradually give up through the fellowship of Saints attachment to his body, wife, progeny etc., who are themselves going to be severed from him, even as he who has woke up from a dream gives up attachment to the objects seen in a dream."

"Serving his body and household ONLY to the extent it is absolutely NECESSARY to do so and OUTWARDLY APPEARING like one attached to them though INWARDLY DISGUSTED with them, a WISE man should EXHIBIT his humanity behave like ORDINARY men in the midst of men."

The greatest ideal in this regard is established by the Gopis.

"ya dohane 'vahanane mathanopa lepa
prekheMkha nArbha ruditokSaNa mArjanAdau
gAyanti caina manurakta dhiyozru kaNTyo
dhanyA vraja striya urukrama citta yAnAH"

(Srimad Bhagavatam. 10.44.15)


The Gopis performed every household chores like, milking the cows, cooking, cleaning, taking care of house and children, while singing the glories of Their Beloved Krishna, with their eyes full of tears, with voices choked, and hearts filled with divine love.

Their supreme selfless devotion, made Lord Krishna Himself, their eternal Debtor.

"AsAmahO carana renu jushamahaM zyAM
vRndAvane kimapi gulma latauSadhI nAM
yA dustyajaM svajana mArya pathaMca hitvA
bhejur mukunda padavIM zRti bhirvi mRgyAM"

(Bhagavatam 10.47.61)


The great Jnani  devotee Uddhava, dedicated friend of Sri Krishna prayed-

"O Sri Krishna!
How fortunate I would be, to become a grove, a creeper, or a plant in the forest of VrindAvana, in order to be blessed with the "foot-dust" of the Gopis, who have cut off all bonds of worldly attachments and attained the Highest state of Transcendental Bliss of Divine love, which is being searched in Vedas, from time immemorial (but invain)!

Jaya Sri Radhey!
Mina - Tue, 05 Mar 2002 06:45:23 +0530
My only question about theman's recommendation about minimizing various mundane activities is whether that is something for the beginner or someone advanced on the path.  How realistic is it for one in the early stages of sadhana to be a pure vairagi?  Also, is that not more under the heading of vaidhi marga rather than raga marga?  In the case of raga marga, it would seem that setting vairagya as a goal and a priority is missing the point, since that is something that is merely a byproduct of cultivation of spontaneous bhakti.  The more practical approach it would seem is for the candidate to make sacrifices that are achievable in the short term, whether that means cutting down from a pack of cigarettes a day to half a dozen or switching to a vegetarian diet or to kicking an alcohol or drug habit.  Clearly something like eschewing violent criminal activity is a no-brainer, but deciding which books to read is another matter.  Avoiding comic books in favor of Shakespeare would cultivate sattva-guna no doubt, but would not necessarily advance one on the path of raga marga.  Certainly with a little practice one achieves a level of advancement whereby activities centered around bhakti become more attractive than others.  That is just a natural progression.  Nama-aparadha, vaisnava-aparadha and other types of offenses are going to throw obstacles in one's way, unless one is vigilant in one's practice.  If a beginner can somehow eliminate all frivolous activities in favor of sadhana, the more power to him/her, but that should not be a pre-requisite to following the path in a productive and fruitful manner.
anuraag - Wed, 06 Mar 2002 08:35:15 +0530
Jaya Sri Radhey!

I take the liberty of sharing a message posted by a sweet Premi member of the yahoo group 'Divine Lovers' with other Raga-margiyas (Divine Lovers) -

Sri Priyaji wrote:

Subject: Divine Lovers Time Management

Don't you read and write,
Don't you sweat and exercise
Don't you chew and bite
Don't you cook and talk
Don't you drive and laugh
Don't you look and walk
Don't you laugh and drive
Don't you dance and sing
Don't you spend and thrive

There are so many things you do two at a time
Not all of them for reason and rhyme
Wherever we are can't we be like the love annointed girls
Who gave their minds to him and bodies to the world
"Divine lovers are two timers!"
Secret being for one there is a time limitation
The other is a blessed timeless occupation


Jaya Sri Radhey!