“Practice makes perfect.” Śrīla Āchārya Mahārāj encourages devotees to understand the path properly.

Stages on the Path

“Practice makes perfect.” Śrīla Āchārya Mahārāj encourages devotees to understand the path properly.

This post is the third and final post, following Understanding Anarthaand Fundamental Principles, in which the content from the appendix to this year’s edition of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh’s almanac has been translated from the original Bengali texts.

The Steps on the Path of Pure Devotion

(Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu’s Śrī Bhakti-rasāmta-sindhu)

(1) Śraddhā: Faith in the scriptures’ meaning, developed by hearing the scriptures from the sādhus.

(2) Sādhu-saṅga: Taking shelter at the feet of Śrī Guru to learn the practice of bhajan.

(3) Bhajana-kriyā: Practicing hearing, chanting, and other forms of service according to Śrī Guru and the sādhus’ instructions.

(4) Anartha-nivṛtti: Removing sins, misconceptions, sorrows, and so forth, which are opposed to the ultimate goal of life.

(5) Niṣṭhā: Constant, undeviating service.

(6) Ruchi: Insightful desire for the Lord and His service.

(7) Āsakti: Natural attraction to the Lord and His service.

(8) Bhāva: That which melts the heart with divine attraction to the Lord and His service; the rays from the sun of prema.

(9) Prema: Intense bhāva that completely melts the heart and fills one with intense affectionate attachment.

The Symptoms of Unsteadiness in Devotional Practice (Bhajana-kriyā)

(Śrīla Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur’s Śrī Mādhurya-kādambinī)

(1) Utsāhamayī: sudden enthusiasm.

(2) Ghana-taralā: (lit. thick-thin) wavering endeavour.

(3) Vyūḍha-vikalpā: indecision.

(4) Viṣaya-saṅgarā: struggle with the mundane.

(5) Niyamākṣamā: inability to follow guidelines.

(6) Taraṅga-raṅgiṇī: Attachment to the by-products of devotional practice—wealth, enjoyment, adoration, and so on (lit. dabbling in the waves of the ocean of bhakti).

The Five Obstacles in Devotional Practice (Bhajana-kriyā)

(Śrīla Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur’s Śrī Mādhurya-kādambinī)

(1) Laya: lethargy; becoming drowsy while engaged in hearing, chanting, remembering, and other devotional practices.

(2) Vikṣepa: distraction; discussing or remembering ordinary matters while engaged in devotional practices.

(3) Apratipatti: indifference; feeling that one is unable to engage in devotional practice.

(4) Kaṣāya: sin; being captivated by anger, greed, pride, and so on, while engaged in devotional practice.

(5) Rasāsvāda: Taste for the mundane; not being consciously immersed while engaged in devotional practice because of one’s attachment to material enjoyment.

The Sixty-Four Practices of Devotion

(Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur’s Amta-pravāha-bhāya on Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmta.)

(1) Taking shelter at Śrī Guru’s feet.

(2) Accepting initiation.

(3) Serving Śrī Guru.

(4) Asking and learning about true religion.

(5) Following the sādhus’ path.

(6) Sacrificing one’s own enjoyment out of love for Kṛṣṇa.

(7) Residing in Kṛṣṇa’s abode.

(8) Accepting only what is required to maintain one’s life.

(9) Observing Ekādaśī.

(10) Honouring myrobalan trees, banyan trees, cows, brāhmaṇs, and Vaiṣṇavas.

(11) Avoiding offences to the Name and the Deity.

(12) Giving up non-devotees’ association.

(13) Not making many disciples.

(14) Not partially studying and commenting upon numerous texts.

(15) Being equipoised towards 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 attitude of being the Lord’s servant.

(28) Having the attitude of being 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 arrive.

(35) Following the Deity or a devotee in 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 mahāprasādam.

(43) Participating in āratis and festivals.

(44) Visiting the Deity.

(45) Offering what is dear to oneself to the Deity.

(46) Meditating.

(47) Serving Tulasī.

(48) Serving devotees.

(49) Serving the Lord’s abode.

(50) Relishing the Bhāgavatam.

(51) Endeavouring solely for Kṛṣṇa’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 Kārtik 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 charaṇāmṛta.

(60) Associating with sādhus.

(61) Chanting the Name.

(62) Hearing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

(63) Residing in Mathurā.

(64) Faithfully serving the Deity.

sakala-sādhana-śreṣṭha ei pañcha aṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janmāya ei pā̐chera alpa saṅga
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 22.125)

The last five practices are the best of all the practices of devotion. Even slight connection with these five practices causes divine love for Kṛṣṇa to arise.

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