Top five limbs of devotional service

Hare Krishna

17th Jan, 2015, Gurgaon.

lord-chaitanyas-instruction-to-srila-sanatana-goswami

More than a year back, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came to ISKCON Gurgaon centre and spoke a verse from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta which somehow slowly, yet firmly, got settled inside my heart. Maharaj instructed everyone to memorise this wonderful verse. The verse was

sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana

“One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. (cc.madhya.22.128)

In this powerful verse from madhya lila Mahāprabhu describes the process of devotional service to Sri Sanatana Goswami. In the beginning He describes the truth about the living entity and the super excellence of devotional service. He then describes the uselessness of mental speculation and mystic yoga. In all circumstances the living entity is recommended to accept the path of devotional service as personally explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The speculative method of the so-called jñānīs is considered a waste of time, and that is proved in this chapter. An intelligent person should abandon the processes of karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and mystic yoga. There are sixty-four items listed in regulative devotional service, and out of these sixty-four the last five are considered very important.

CC Madhya 22.129: “These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupada writes the below verse from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in his purport

aṅgānāṁ pañcakasyāsya pūrva-vilikhitasya ca
nikhila-śraiṣṭhya-bodhāya punar apy atra śaṁsanam

The glorification of these five items [association with devotees, chanting the holy name and so on] is to make known the complete superiority of these five practices of devotional service.”

CC Madhya 22.130: “‘With love and full faith one should worship the lotus feet of the Deity.

CC Madhya 22.131: “‘One should taste the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord.

CC Madhya 22.132: ‘One should congregationally chant the holy name of the Lord and reside in Vṛndāvana.’

CC Madhya 22.133: ‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Kṛṣṇa simply by being a little connected with them.’

CC Madhya 22.134: “When one is firmly fixed in devotional service, whether he executes one or many processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will awaken.

CC Madhya 22.135: “There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa execute all nine items, and they also get ultimate success.

What is most amazing is if we analyse how Srila Prabhupada made the structure of ISKCON.

In one of his lectures HH Bhakti Charu Swami says ‘Prabhupada actually designed ISKCON in such a way that anyone who is engaged in Krishna consciousness in ISKCON is automatically performing these five activities. The first aspect is sadhu sangha, anyone who is in ISKCON is getting the association of the sadhus. Similarly anyone who is in ISKCON must attend the Bhagavatam class and at least read for some time every day, so this is how one is reading scriptures. Anyone who is in ISKCON worships the deity, although not all of us worship the deity directly but by attending mangala-arati and the morning program we automatically do that. Then comes residing in the holy dhama, all temples of Krishna are non-different from Goloka Vrindavana. Therefore, those who are living in the temple, or those whose consciousness is in the temple, are actually residing in Mathura. In this way Prabhupada has given us the simple process for Krishna consciousness.’

Now I realise why so many senior devotees always stress that we have to remain in ISKCON, serve the local temple, do our sadhna bhakti and we will surely make progress in our spiritual life.

vande śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-devaṁ taṁ karuṇārṇavam
kalāv apy ati-gūḍheyaṁ bhaktir yena prakāśitā

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is an ocean of transcendental mercy, and although the subject matter of bhakti-yoga is very confidential, He has nonetheless manifested it so nicely, even in this Age of Kali, the age of quarrel.
(CC Madhya 22.1)

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

How to improve our Bhakti ?

Hare Krishna.

31st July, 2014. Gurgaon.

Quotes-by-Bhakti-Charu-Swami-on-Getting-Krishna

Q: How to improve my Bhakti ? (This is a question from Jitendra Prasad Prabhuji, Fiji)

Ans:

There could be many answers to this question. Prabhuji shared with me that he is already chanting 16 rounds and following four regulative principles hence I am sharing the verses I read today morning in Chaitanaya Charitramrita.

These verses are spoken by Mahāprabhu in his teachings to Sri Sanatana Goswami and explain 64 important items in devotional service after one is fixed in his sadhana bhakti.

CC Madhya 22.121: “After one is established in devotional service, the positive actions are (1) hearing, (2) chanting, (3) remembering, (4) worshiping, (5) praying, (6) serving, (7) accepting servitorship, (8) becoming a friend and (9) surrendering fully.

CC Madhya 22.122: “One should also (10) dance before the Deity, (11) sing before the Deity, (12) open one’s mind to the Deity, (13) offer obeisances to the Deity, (14) stand up before the Deity and the spiritual master just to show them respect, (15) follow the Deity or the spiritual master and (16) visit different places of pilgrimage or go see the Deity in the temple.

CC Madhya 22.123: “One should (17) circumambulate the temple, (18) recite various prayers, (19) chant softly, (20) chant congregationally, (21) smell the incense and flower garlands offered to the Deity, and (22) eat the remnants of food offered to the Deity.

CC Madhya 22.124: “One should (23) attend ārati and festivals, (24) see the Deity, (25) present what is very dear to oneself to the Deity, (26) meditate on the Deity, and (27-30) serve those related to the Lord.

CC Madhya 22.125: “Tadīya means the tulasī leaves, the devotees of Kṛṣṇa, the birthplace of Kṛṣṇa (Mathurā), and the Vedic literature Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Kṛṣṇa is very eager to see His devotee serve tulasī, Vaiṣṇavas, Mathurā and Bhāgavatam.

CC Madhya 22.126: “(31) One should perform all endeavors for Kṛṣṇa. (32) One should look forward to His mercy. (33) One should partake of various ceremonies with devotees — ceremonies like Lord Kṛṣṇa’s birthday or Rāmacandra’s birthday.

CC Madhya 22.127: “(34) One should surrender to Kṛṣṇa in all respects. (35) One should observe particular vows like kārtika-vrata. These are some of the sixty-four important items of devotional service.

Q: A question may arise if there any main limbs from the above instructions ? And secondly do we need to follow all of them to achieve perfection in our devotional service ?

Ans: Mahāprabhu clears this in next few verses

CC Madhya 22.128: “One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration.

CC Madhya 22.129: “These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.

CC Madhya 22.130: “‘With love and full faith one should worship the lotus feet of the Deity.

CC Madhya 22.131: “‘One should taste the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord.

CC Madhya 22.132: “‘One should congregationally chant the holy name of the Lord and reside in Vṛndāvana.’

Srila Prabhupada quotes Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura in his purport to the above verse

śrī gauḍa-maṇḍala-bhūmi, yeba jāne cintāmaṇi,
tāra haya vrajabhūmi vāsa

“One who understands the transcendental nature of Navadvīpa and its surrounding area, where Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu enacted His pastimes, resides always in Vṛndāvana.”

CC Madhya 22.133: “‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Kṛṣṇa simply by being a little connected with them.’

CC Madhya 22.134: “When one is firmly fixed in devotional service, whether he executes one or many processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will awaken.

CC Madhya 22.135: “There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa execute all nine items, and they also get ultimate success.

I would like to thank Jitendra Prabhuji for asking such a nice question as I leaned a lot just by thinking about what to reply to him ! Then today morning out of sheer luck or causeless mercy I read these verses and I thought that these verses would be relevant to all the devotees as they are spoken by Lord Himself. I hope the above answer satisfies Jitendra Prabhuji.

I have opened a separate page Q&A on the website and a separate page to post your questions. I will post questions asked by readers on the Q&A page only. I will try to share only those answers on the main blog post which do not have contamination of my own intelligence and speculation.

All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.