Click here to load whole tree
NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava Part 2 and 3 > Vol 2 Abhidheya > Activities Favorable to

85  -Activities Favorable to Devotional Service 


1. What is the devotee's resolve regarding items favorable to his devotional service?


I will surely execute with utmost care those activities favorable to Your pure devotional service. I will feel fondness for those things in this world that are conducive to devotional service, and  with my senses, I will engage them in Your service. (Saranagati)


2. What is most favorable for devotional service?

Dust from the lotus feet of pure devotees is conducive to devotional service, while service to the Vaisnavas is itself the supreme perfection and the root of the tender creeper of divine love.



3. What do exalted devotees conceptualize when they think of things that are favorable for devotional service?


Goloka Vrndavana appears in my home whenever I see the worship and service of Lord Hari going on there. Upon seeing the Ganges, a river of nectar emanating from the lotus feet of the Lord, my happiness knows no bounds. (Saranagati) 


4. What is considered a favorable or unfavorable dsrarna for worshiping the Supreme Lord?


There is no hard and fast rule for a devotee who has taken complete shelter of the holy names. He may live either at home or in the forest. If his house is more favorable for his cultivation of the holy names, it is better that he remain there than in the renounced order. Moreover, it is the Vaisnava's duty to renounce his home if it is unfavorable for the cultivation of his chanting the holy names. (Harinama-cintamani)


5. What conceptions, those engaged in chanting the holy names, have regarding items favorable and unfavorable to devotional service?


Persons who are engaged in chanting the holy names should not do anything but what is favorable for devotional service. They should give up all ndmdparddha, which means giving up everything that is unfavorable for devotional service. They should also maintain without deviation that Lord Krsna alone is their protector and sustainer.

(Sajjana Tosanl 11/6)


6. Why is honoring tulasi leaves, sandalwood pulp, and other items that have been offered to the Lord favorable to devotional service?


Smelling items like tulasi leaves destroys the urge to smell strong, agitating scents. Attachment for aromatic substances leads one into many dangers in this world. By smearing their bodies with perfume, foolish people invite anarthas like debauchery and laziness to visit them. To control this urge, if one first offers the sweet-smelling tulasi leaves and sandalwood paste to the Lord, then honors them, he can simultaneously control his senses and cultivate spiritual consciousness.

(Tattva-sutra 35)


7. Are the objects of material enjoyment favorable to devotional service?


It is not a fact that all objects of material enjoyment are hostile to the living entities. Only the attachment for or detachment from those objects are great enemies. Therefore, one should control one's attachment and detachment even while accepting the objects themselves. Then despite one's accepting those objects, one will not become entangled.

(Commentary on Bhagavad-glta. 3.34)


8. Why is discussing the Absolute Truth favorable for strengthening one's devotional service? What is the definition of persons indifferent to discussing the Absolute Truth?


Just as it is essential for devotees to renounce dry knowledge, false renunciation, and useless argument, so they should engage in discussing the Absolute Truth and attribute pure attachment to spiritual objects. It is to be understood that those who disregard such discussions due to excessive attachment are either extremely liberated or extremely conditioned.

(Tattva-siitra 4)


9. What kind of family life is favorable for a householder's devotional service? Is offering oblations to the forefathers according to the rules and regulations of the smdrthas favorable for devotional service?


When it is time to offer the srdddha ceremony to the forefathers, a householder devotee should first offer foodstuffs to Krsna, then offer Krsna's remnants to his forefathers, the brdhmanas, and the Vaisnavas. In this way, a householder can make his family life favorable for devotional service. If devotional service is mixed with the performance of smdrtha rituals, then the karmic reactions that accompany those rituals will be nullified. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 7) 


10. Does a surrendered devotee perform the sraddha ceremony according to karma-kdndal What prescription is favorable for his devotional service?


There is nothing that recommends that the surrendered devotees perform the sraddha ceremony according to the rules of karma-kanda in order to repay the debt to their forefathers. Rather, it is recommended that devotees first worship the Supreme Lord, then offer the Lord's remnants to their forefathers. After that, they and their family members should honor the Lord's remnants themselves. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 10)


11. Is marrying a girl of another caste and giving up the principles of the four varnas favorable for a Vaisnava householder's devotional service?


If a Vaisnava householder is an Aryan, or if he follows the principles of the four varnas, then his marriage should be arranged with a girl from the same caste. Even though the principles of varnasrama are temporary, they are nevertheless beneficial. It is not a fact that by rejecting the principles of the four varnas that one can become a Vaisnava. A Vaisnava should only do that which is favorable for his devotional service. {Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 6)


12. What is the proper profession for renunciants and householders?


For the renunciants, begging alms door to door is a proper profession; for householders, professions that are approved by the rules and regulation of their respective varnas and asramas are proper professions. (Commentary on Upadesdmrta, Verse 3)


13. Is becoming vegetarian favorable for devotional service to Hari? What is the spiritual result of becoming a vegetarian?


By eating foodstuffs that are in the mode of goodness, one's existence becomes purified. The word existence refers to the body and mind. If one's existence is purified but his behavior is not in the mode of goodness, however, his purified existence will gradually degrade. The word behavior refers to all activities other than eating. The renunciation of inhumanity, practicing truthfulness, simplicity, nonviolence, and sense and mind control are all included in what is understood as "behavior." Even though a human being's eating and behavior are in the mode of goodness, unless he regularly cultivates Krsna consciousness, how can his human nature be improved? If anyone wants to personally see the results of eating in the mode of goodness, he should try eating sattvic food and engage in sattvic behavior and cultivation. One will certainly achieve results. (However, if there is any discrepancy in his endeavor, it will certainly affect those results.) In order to become qualified to behave in the mode of goodness one must first learn to eat in the mode of goodness.

(Sajjana Tosani 2/8)


14. How do activities based on the principles of varnasrama become favorable for devotional service?


A devotee who desires to properly pass his life still accepts the duties prescribed by varndsrama-dharma, because those duties are favorable to devotional service and counted as part of his practice. Such activities are no longer called karma. Rather, through these activities the svanistha devotees, devotees addicted to their own line of devotion, bring karma and its results into the realm of devotional service. The parinisthitd devotees, devotees fully addicted to devotional service, perform pious activities that are not contrary to devotional principles simply to attract others to devotional service.  The devotees who are nirapeksa, neutral, accept activities favorable for devotional service without caring for popular approval.

(Sajjana Tosani 10/9)


15. What kind of karma does the Bhagavad-gita recommend we practice?


Karma refers to maintaining one's livelihood. InBhagavad-gitd, Lord Krsna has instructed the transcendentahsts to engage only in those activities that are favorable to devotional service and to give up those activities that are unfavorable. (Caitanya-siksamrta 2/2)


16. What is the difference between the activities of devotees and karmis ?


Make as much advancement as you can in the fields of science, art, industry, and worldly morality. We do not object, because such pursuits will help the cultivation of devotional service in many ways. We are not renunciants but devoted. We only say that all activities should be performed in the Krsna conscious spirit. May we never engage in activities induced by our own self-interest. Let all activities be performed with the aim of making advancement on the path of devotional service to the Lord. As far as the activities themselves are concerned, there is no difference between your life and mine. The only difference is that you engage in the activities as a matter of duty and I engage in them in the mood of serving the Supreme Lord. May my endeavor for karma be destroyed at some point by my own dissatisfaction with that path. You too will retire from karmic activities at some point. But you will retire uselessly, whereas I will retire only to be engaged in devotional service to the Supreme Lord. For you this material world is a field of activity; for me it is a field in which to cultivate Krsna consciousness. I consider all your activities hostile because you engage in them for their own sake. You do not act for the Lord's pleasure. You are a karml, but I am a devotee. (Conclusion of Caitanya-siksamrta)


17. Why is to forgive so glorious?


Forgiveness is glorious because it is favorable to devotional service.

(Sri Bhdgavatdrka Maricimdld 15/91)


18. What kind of faith is favorable for devotional service?


A Vaisnava must maintain the firm faith that the Supreme Lord is his only protector. (Sri Bhdgavatdrka Maricimdld 15/93)


19. Why is poverty helpful for a devotee's execution of devotional service? How does poverty help us renounce bad association?


One should not consider poverty a distress. The Supreme Lord has said He shows His favor to those from whom He gradually takes all their wealth. At that time, all the impoverished's artificial friends will consider him distressed and reject him. Thus his bad association will automatically be removed. (Sri Bhdgavatdrka Maricimdld 15/99)


20. What is the benefit of observing devotional vows?


By observing vows like Janmastami, EkadasI, and Karttika, one's devotional service is increased. (Sri Bhdgavatdrka Maricimdld 15/74)


21. What is enthusiasm?


Enthusiasm is to cultivate Krsna consciousness with utmost care. (Commentary on Upadesdmrta, Verse 3) 


22. Why is enthusiasm favorable for devotional service?


If one has enthusiasm in the beginning stage of devotional service, and that enthusiasm does not become cold, then one will never become apathetic, lazy, or distracted while chanting the holy name. Enthusiasm is thus the only support for all types of devotional service. By enthusiastically performing devotional service, one can quickly give up anisthitd service and attain nistha. (Sajjana Tosani 11/1)


23. Is enthusiasm without faith effective?


The word sraddhd certainly means faith, but enthusiasm is the life of sraddhd. Faith without enthusiasm is meaningless. Many people think they have faith in God, but because they have no enthusiasm, their faith has no meaning. (Sajjana Tosani 11/1)


24. How does the conditioned soul advance in spiritual life?


By attaining the piety that helps one in his devotional service by the mercy of the devotees, the mahdjanas, and Lord Krsna, the conditioned soul attains auspiciousness.

(Sajjana Tosani 11/4)


25. Can useless talk be favorable to devotional service?


The practitioners of devotional service should not speak unnecessarily. Better to keep quiet. Aside from topics about Krsna, all other topics are unnecessary. But to speak about the subjects favorable to devotional service is not unnecessary. (Sajjana Tosani 11/5)


26. What is patience? Can the six urges be made favorable to devotional service?


To subdue the six urges is called dhairya. As long as one has a material body, these propensities cannot be totally uprooted, but by engaging them properly in their appropriate subjects, they no longer remain faulty. (Sajjana Tosani 11/5)


27. What kind of patience is favorable for devotional service to Hari?


Being impatient because their sddhana is prolonged, some people fall from the path leading to the ultimate goal. Therefore, a practicing devotee who desires to achieve his goal attains that result only when he becomes patient. "Krsna must be merciful to me either today, after one hundred years, or during some other birth. I will take shelter of His lotus feet with determination and never leave Him." This type of patience is most desirable for the practitioners of devotional service. (Sajjana Tosani 11/5)


28. What kind of foods are favorable for those practicing devotional service?


One should fill his belly with whatever is easily available. By offering Krsna foods in the mode of goodness and then honoring them asprasdda, the tongue is satisfied and one cultivates service to Krsna. (Sajjana Tosani 11/5)


29. Can both ordinary and spiritual dealings become favorable for devotional service?


It is certainly auspicious to dovetail all our ordinary and spiritual endeavors in the Lord's service. (Sajjana Tosani 11/6)


30. Why is accepting only enough sense gratification to keep body and soul together favorable for devotional service?


At every stage of life one should accept only as much wealth as one needs to practice devotional service. If we desire more than is needed, bhakti will disappear. If we do not accept wealth according to our need, however, our devotional practices will also be hampered. (Sajjana Tosani 11/6) 


31. What kind of family life is favorable to devotional service? What is Krsna conscious family life?


One marries to establish Krsna's family, produces children to increase the number of Krsna's servants, offers oblations to the forefathers in order to satisfy Krsna's servants, and feasts to gratify Krsna's living entities. All these activities should be dovetailed to become favorable service offered to Krsna. Then one will not fall into the grip of unfavorable fruitive activities. The body, house, and everything else belongs to Krsna. Thinking in this way, one should protect the body, house, and community. This is called Krsna conscious family life.

(Sajjana Tosanl 11/6)


32. Why is it necessary to observe Vaisnava vows and associate with devotees?


It is extremely necessary to associate with sadhus if we wish to renounce attachment to our prejudices. We must follow all Vaisnava vows in order to give up attachment for material objects. We should not be negligent in such practices. Rather, we should follow these instructions with care and respect. If we do not follow them carefully, then we will become duplicitous and cheat, rendering our whole endeavor useless. For those who do not respect Vaisnava vows, attaining devotion to Sri Hari becomes rare, even after hearing for many births.

(Sajjana Tosanl 11/11)


33. Why is observing the Caturmasya vow favorable to devotional service?


By first practicing vows for three days, then for one month, then for four months (during Caturmasya), one should gradually and completely uproot attachment for the sense objects and leave them behind forever. (Sajjana Tosanl 11/11)


34. How should one decide whether to stay at home or to leave?


If the home is favorable for a devotee's service, he should not leave it. It is his duty to remain a grhastha and live with detachment. But when the home becomes unfavorable for service, a grhastha becomes eligible to leave it. At that time the detachment he develops toward his house through his devotional service is accepted. For this reason, Srivasa Pandita did not leave home, and for the same reason, Svarupa Damodara tooksannydsa. All genuine devotees have remained either at home or in the forest based on this consideration. Whoever has left home based on this consideration is a genuine renunciant. (Sajjana Tosanl 11/12)


35. How should a Vaisnava householder earn his livelihood?


According to his own occupation a Vaisnava householder should earn wealth to maintain his family. He should not accumulate wealth through unfair means.

(Sajjana Tosanl 11/12)


36.What is a proper occupation?


To understand this one should examine the behavior of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's followers. (Sajjana Tosanl 11/12)


37. How does one's material bondage becomes exhausted?


If one accepts only those items favorable for devotional service to Krsna, he will automatically cultivate Krsna consciousness and his material bondage will become exhausted.

(Sajjana Tosanl 4/9) 


38. How can one engage his eyes in spiritual cultivation?


If one wants to make his eyes favorable to devotional service, he must see the Deities of the Supreme Lord, the Vaisnavas, the beauty of those places where the Supreme Lord performed His pastimes, and the dioramas depicting those pastimes. The main point is that one should see the Lord's relationship to the object of one's vision. (Sajjana Tosanl 4/9)


39. How does one cultivate devotional service with one's ears?


In order to make one's ears favorable to devotional service, one must take a vow to hear only the topics of Hari, of the devotees, and of subject matters related to Hari.

(Sajjana Tosanl 4/9)


40. What is the process for making the nose favorable to devotional service?


To make one's nose favorable to devotional service, one must take a vow to smell only tulasl leaves, flowers, sandalwood pulp, and other fragrant objects that have already been offered to Krsna. Everything one smells should be connected to Krsna. {Sajjana Tosanl 4/9)


41.How can one make his tongue favorable to devotional service?


Honoring the remnants of Krsna and His devotees is the only process to make the tongue favorable to devotional service. One should not honor the Lord's remnants with a spirit of enjoyment. Rather, one should remember the pleasure of his beloved Lord Sri Krsna. If one takes prasdda with a spirit of enjoyment, one will miss feeling the Lord's grace.

(Sajjana Tosanl 4/9)


42. How should one make his body favorable for devotional service?


To make one's body favorable to devotional service one should utilize his entire body in the service of the Supreme Lord and the Vaisnavas. (Sajjana Tosanl 4/9)


43. Is accepting spiritual names and titles favorable to devotional service?


We find that during Sriman Mahaprabhu's time, devotees were awarded spiritual names and titles like Ratnabahu, Kavikarnapura, and Premanidhi. Devotees have continued to accept names and titles such as Bhagavatbhusana, Gltabhusana, and so on. (Sajjana Tosanl 4/1)


44. How does an exalted personality regard those things that are favorable and unfavorable to devotional service?


The mental state of a great personality regarding things that are favorable for devotional service is as soft as a flower. As soon as a great personality sees any item, paraphernalia, time, candidate, or place that is favorable to devotional service, his heart melts. When a great personality sees any item, paraphernalia, time, candidate, or place that is unfavorable to devotional service, his heart becomes as hard as a thunderbolt. He never accepts such things. (Sajjana Tosanl 4/11)


45. How can conversation, song, or poetry be favorable to devotional service?


If one can relate ordinary talk, song, or poetry to Krsna, then one will become perfect in making them favorable to devotional service.

(Sajjana Tosanl 4/9) 


46. Is talking about others while instructing others about Krsna consciousness unfavorable for devotional service?


When a guru enlightens his disciple on some topic, unless he occasionally talks about others, his instructions may not be clear. When previous mahdjanas talked about others in that way, there was merit in such talk, not fault. (Sajjana Tosanl 10/10)


47. Is the kind of prajalpa that is favorable to devotional service harmful?


All the mahdjanas have respected the kind of prajalpa that enhances one's devotional service to Hari. {Sajjana Tosanl 10/10)


48. When is discussing others not a fault?


Discussingother's faults with a good purpose has not been condemned in the scripture. There are three good reasons to do so. If by talking about someone's sinful activity the person is benefited, then such a discussion is auspicious. If such a discussion amounts to benefiting the world, then it is counted among pious activities. And if such a discussion gives one benefit, then it is also auspicious, not faulty. {Sajjana Tosanl 5/5)


49. How can one transform his ordinary activities into devotional service?


Since it is impossible to maintain one's life without action, one must work. If such work is done with an enjoying spirit, then one's qualification as a human being is lost and he becomes like an animal. But if one can transform all his bodily activities into activities favorable to devotional service, then they become bhakti-yoga.

{Sajjana Tosanl 10/9)


50. Does accepting sense objects amount to atydhara, too much eating?


The purport is that if one accepts sense objects in the spirit of enjoyment, it is atydhara. If, however, sense objects are accepted as the Lord's mercy and only as far as required in a mood favorable to devotional service, then accepting them is not atydhara. {Sajjana Tosanl 10/9)


51. How should a person who is fully surrendered to Krsna spend his life?


I will perform all my bodily activities out of habit, just to keep body and soul together. I will become attached to all those activities that are favorable for Krsna's worship.

{Kalydna Kalpataru Song 4)