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Vaidhi Sadhana

64 Practices of Vaidhi Sadhana Essence of the Ambrosial Ocean of Devotion - Part 7

By Victor D. DiCara (Vraja Kishor das)

Ten Preliminary "Do's"
Ten Preliminary "Dont's"
The Main Practices of Vaidhi Sadhana
The Five Most Potent Practices

There are potentially infinite ways to cultivate love of Godhead by emulating its expression, but Rupa Goswami gives a list of 64 "tried and true" methods. The first twenty of these practices are "preliminary" ("prarambha-rupata"), as they open a door to the main practices of vaidhi-sadhana and enable one to obtain their maximum effect. Of these, the first ten are "do's" and the second ten are "don'ts."

Ten Preliminary "Do's"

1) Take Shelter of Guru

When one becomes dissatisfied with material pleasure and begins to desire spiritual satisfaction, one should find a person who is learned in the spiritual subjects of scripture Sri Krsna, and who is equipoised and thus not attracted to or repulsed by material things.

2) Receive initiation and instruction about Krsna

The spiritual master(s) performs three sacred duties: (1) Diksa - prepare the disciple for enlightenment. (2) Siksa - instruct the disciple about how to please God. This also includes, (3) sravana - tell the disciple all about the personality and nature of the Supreme Godhead.

3) Happily Serve Guru

One should serve one's guru in a happy, un-begrudging mood. This begins to instill selflessness and love in one's vaidhi-sadhana.

These three items are the foundation ("pradhan") upon which vaidhi-sadhana is built. To obtain steady inspiration for Bhakti from the scripture, one should seek a person who is deeply learned and realized in them, learn from and happily serve that person.

4) Follow the saint's path.

The guru's instructions, and the disciple's application of them should be congruous to the instructions and application of persons who were previously successful on the path of vaidhi-sadhana.

5) Inquire about eternal religious principles.

One should eagerly inquire about sad-dharma from guru and from saintly people. "Sad-dharma" means the nature of the soul and God, their relationship, and the activities of that relationship.

6) Accept hardship if required in pleasing Krsna

Unless one is ready to often sacrifice one's personal agenda to please one's beloved, the relationship will not blossom.

7) Reside in a sacred place like Dvaraka and the Ganges

8) Satisfy ones personal needs in moderation Acquiring too much will disturb vaidhi-sadhana, as will not acquiring enough. One should obtain wealth and comfort in moderation, as reasonably required for the peaceful existence of one's mind and body. 9) Respect the holy days of Hari

10) Respect beings associated with Hari

Including the Pipal, Banyan, and Tulasi plants, the cows, teachers, and the saintly.

Ten Preliminary "Dont's"

11) Don't keep company with persons adverse to God

As will be stated in #18, one should not be unkind to any entity, but one naturally shys away from people with unkind opinions about one's beloved.

12) Don't be attached to having students and disciples

Accepting students or disciples may seem important, but it is dangerous because it draws out desires for gain, honor, and position.

13) Don't start huge projects

According to Visvanath Cakravarti, this especially refers to building temples. Again, this seems favorable, but it is dangerous because it tends to bring out desires to expand one's influence and properties. Further, it draws one's energies away from the primary practices of hearing, chanting, and remembering. One must therefore be cautious regarding such projects.

14) Don't study or teach with mundane motives

Cultivating knowledge also seems harmless or even favorable, but it is dangerous because it too can exacerbate material desires similar to the previous two practices. One should not study to impress others with one's understanding and thus gain wealth and respect.

15) Don't be unkind, even if you are dissatisfied

16) Don't be overwhelmed by strong emotions like lamentation

In the midst of dissatisfaction or loss one should placate the mind by remembering the benevolent Sri Krsna, rather than becoming harsh or morose.

17) Don't disobey other gods

18) Don't harm any being in any way

Krsna is everyone's father and mother. Like any parent, he is very pleased with a person who is kind to his child, and very angry towards a person who is unkind to any one of them. One should also obey one's older brothers and sisters, the demigods, who look after the house on behalf of their parents.

19) Carefully avoid offenses in worship and meditation on God's name

Jiva Goswami lists 64 offenses in worship and 10 offenses towards Krsna's name.

20) Don't tolerate malice or insult to Krsna or his devotee

The Main Practices of Vaidhi Sadhana

Having listed the 20 preliminary items, Rupa Goswami begins listing the main practices of sadhana. I will organize them according to the nine main categories of bhakti.

Pada-Sevanam - Service for/by the feet, legs, and body

21) Mark the body with Vishnu's symbols.

22) Mark the body with the name of Hari.

23) Wear things like garlands, perfumes, and clothes that have been offered to the Deity

24) Dance enthusiastically in front of Krsna.

25) Bow to Krsna.

26) Stand up to greet Krsna.

27) Follow Krsna as he goes along.

28) Travels to Hari's place - a holy place or temple.

29) Circumambulate Krsna.

Arcanam - Worship

30) Worship ("arcana") - Offer specific things to the Deity in the proper way, accompanied by mantra, after one has purified oneself.

31) Ancillary services ("paricarya") - The many services to do in connection with worship, like cleaning the altar and the articles used in worship, etc.

For fear of making his book too huge, Rupa Goswami does not mention all the possible practices of vaidhi-sadhana associated with these two.

Kirtanam - Glorification

32) Sing songs about Krsna

33) Loudly glorify Krsna's names, activities, and qualities ("sankirtan")

34) Lightly repeat a Krsna-mantra ("japa")

Vandanam - Prayer

35) Express yourself to Krsna in your own words - by making requests and confessions, and by stating your devotional desires

36) Recite prayers from scripture Pada-Sevanam (2)

37) Taste the sanctified food offered to the Deity

38) Taste the water that washed the Deities feet

39) Smell the sweet incense, flowers, and other things offered to the Deity

40) Touch the Deity

41) See the Deity

42) See the Deity's arati, festivals etc.

Sravanam - Hearing

43) Krsna's names, activities and qualities

44) Specifically hear about Krsna's mercy, and expectantly look for it in one's own life

Smaranam - Remembering

45) Remember Krsna in any way

46) Meditate deeply on Krsna's beauty, activities, qualities, and service

Dasyam - Servitude

Servitude ("dasyam"), the 47th practice of vaidhi-sadhana, is to do what Krsna asks, as if one were his personal assistant. It also includes offering one's own daily activities to Krsna, by executing them with the mood that a servant has when taking care of his own needs.

Sakhyam - Friendship

One can practice friendship ("sakhyam"), the 48th practice of vaidhi-sadhana, by cultivating a deep trust in Krsna's protection, or by cultivating a natural, peer-to-peer friendly relationship with Krsna.

Atma-Nivedanam - Offering Oneself

Offering oneself ("atma-nivedanam") the 49th practice of vaidhi-sadhana, involves giving one's "self" - one's body, mind, and/or identity - to Krsna, to become his property. This also includes:

50) Give Krsna things that are dear to you

51) Perform all endeavors for Krsna's sake

52) Take shelter of Krsna for protection

Pada-Sevanam (3)

One should serve those associated with Krsna, like:

53) Tulasi

54) Scripture

55) Mathura

56) Devotees, etc.

One should also:

57) Hold great celebrations in the company of sadhus

58) Observe the month of Karttika

59) Specially respect the advent day of Krsna

The Five Most Potent Practices

60) Serve the feet of the Deity with love

61) Savor the objective of Srimad Bhagavatam

62) Keep company with devotees who are compatible and affectionate

63) Loudly glorify Krsna's name

64) Reside in Mathura

Suhotra Prabhu: All initiated members of ISKCON follow raganuga-bhakti, although now they still follow vaidhi-sadhana (CC 2.22.156-157). There are two kinds of raganuga-bhaktas: jata-ruci (who developed taste to serve), ajata-ruci (whose taste is not yet developed). Rasa is attained after development of taste - on liberated platform. In the meantime the service attitude is cultivated through following the religious principles.

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