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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava Part 2 and 3 > Vol 2 Abhidheya > The Nine Types of Devotional

52-The Nine Types of Devotional Service


1. How many ways are there to cultivate hearing?


There are three ways to cultivate hearing: to hear about scripture, to hear about the holy names and topics of the Lord, and to hear devotion-filled discourses. Considering the science of the Absolute Truth, describing the Lord's pastimes from Srlmad-Bhagavatam, discussing the characteristics of Vaisnavas, and hearing the ancient histories of Vaisnava families are considered "hearing the scripture." This is to be understood by hearing conclusive statements based on Vedanta written by great personalities after carefully rejecting inconclusive, non-Vaisnava statements. (Caitanya-siksamrta 3/2)


2. What happens if one hears topics of and conclusions about Hari?


By hearing about the topics and science of Hari, one automatically cultivates "hearing the scripture." (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 8)


3.By hearing the topics of Hari, does one worship the Lord and become detached from material enjoyment?


By hearing the topics of Hari, both the cultivation of spiritual science and detachment from material enjoyment are accomplished. {Tattva-sutra 34)


4. What are the different stages of hearing?


There are two stages of hearing. The first stage is hearing about the qualities of Krsna from the mouths of saintly persons before one's faith develops. By such hearing one certainly develops faith. When one's faith is awakened one develops a strong desire to hear about the names, forms, qualities, and pastimes of Krsna. The second stage is hearing Krsna's holy names, etc., from the mouths of the spiritual master and the Vaisnavas. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


5. What are the gradual platforms beginning from sravana-dasd to sampatti-dasa ?


Hearing about the Absolute Truth from the spiritual master is called sravana-dasd. When a practitioner accepts those instructions as truth, it is called varana-dasd. When he cultivates that mood with blissful remembrance, it is called smarana-dasa. When he is able to properly invoke that mood within himself, it is called apana- or prapti-dasa. When one separates himself from his temporary material existence and obtains his desired constitutional form, it is called sampatti-dasd." (Harinama-cintamani)


6. How many ways are there to cultivate chanting?


To cultivate klrtana or chanting is extremely sublime. Reciting the scripture, glorifying the Lord's names and qualities, offering prayers, making humble appeals, and chanting the holy names softly are the five ways to cultivate chanting. Through discourses, explanations, and songs, one can glorify the Lord's holy names and qualities. "Appeal" is of three kinds: prayer, humility, and hankering. {Caitanya-siksamrta 3/2)


7. Among all the limbs of devotional service, which is the best?


It has been described that klrtana is the best among all the limbs of devotional service. {Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


8. Why is kirtana the best?    .


Among the three limbs of devotional service—namely, hearing, chanting, and remembering—chanting is the best of all because it includes hearing and remembering. {Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


9. Why is kirtana beneficial to all?


The principle of klrtana invites, as the future church of the world, all classes of men without distinction of caste or clan to the highest cultivation of the spirit. This church, it appears, will extend all over the world and take the place of all sectarian churches, which exclude outsiders from the precincts of the mosque, church, or temple. {Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His Life and Precepts)


10. How should one practice remembrance {smarana) of the Lord?


Remembering Lord Krsna's names, forms, qualities, and pastimes is called smarana. Smarana is of five types. A little thinking or searching is called smarana; abstracting the mind from the previous subject matter and engaging it in preliminary remembrance is called dhdrand; thinking particularly about the Lord's forms, etc., is called dhydna; constant and uninterrupted dhydna is called dhruvdnusmrti; and the manifestation of the object of dhyana is called samadhi. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


11. What is the best type of atonement?


There is no superior atonement in this world than remembering Lord Visnu. (Harindma-cintdmani)


12. What is the difference between smarana and dhyana?


The difference between smarana and dhyana is that in smarana the holy names, mantras, forms, qualities, and pastimes manifest to some extent. In dhyana the forms, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord are properly remembered. Prolonging the duration of dhyana is called dharana. When dhyana is mature it is called nididhdsana. Therefore dharana and nididhdsana are included in dhyana. (Caitanya-siksdmrta 3/2)


13. How many kinds of smrti (remembrance) are there and what are their names?


There are two kinds of smrti, remembrance of the holy name and remembrance of the mantras. Chanting a prescribed number of holy names on tulasi beads is called remembrance, and remembrance of the mantras while keeping track of them on one's fingers is called remembrance of the mantras. {Caitanya-siksdmrta 3/2)


14. How can one revive astakdla service to the Supreme Lord?


One should remember Siksastakam and practice smarana and kirtana accordingly. Gradually, astakdla service will awaken in the heart. At that time, all unwanted contaminations, including religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation will appear insignificant, and one will achieve the treasure of love. (Bhajana-rahasya, Chapter 1)


15. What is pada-sevana and what limbs of devotional service does it include?


Serving the lotus feet of the Lord is the fourth limb of devotional service. One should serve the Lord's lotus feet along with practicing sravana, kirtana, and smarana. In the course of serving the Lord's lotus feet, it is extremely necessary for one to consider himself a beggar and unqualified. One should also realize that his worshipable Lord is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. Looking at the Lord's face, touching the Lord, circumambulating the Lord's abode, visiting holy places, temples, the Ganges, Jagannatha Purl, Dvaraka, and Navadvlpa, as well as following the Lord's processions are included in pada-sevana. While describing the sixty-four limbs of devotional service Sri Rupa GosvamI has clearly elaborated on these points. Serving Tulasi-devI and the devotees is also included in this limb. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


16. Is it necessary to worship the Deity?


Although chanting the Lord's holy names awards all perfection, in order to lead a devotional life, Deity worship is required. (Bhajana-rahasya)


17. What should one do if he has developed special faith in the worship of the Deity?


There are many considerations regarding Deity worship. After engaging in hearing, chanting, and remembering, if one still possesses attachment for the Lord's Deity form, he should take shelter of the lotus feet of a spiritual master, take initiation from him, and then worship the Deity. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19) 


18. What is the harm if one does not take initiation before engaging in Deity worship? What other considerations are found on the path of worship?


Since the hearts of the conditioned souls are polluted by sinful activities, Deity worship is necessary to purify such hearts. Worship of the Deities should be executed using proper mantras, and these mantras have been prescribed in the sdstra. Taking initiation is necessary for materialistic persons. In chanting the krsna mantra, there is no consideration of qualification. Taking initiation into the krsna mantra is most auspicious for the living entities. Among all mantras in this world, the krsna mantra is the best and most powerful. As soon as a qualified person accepts initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, he attains spiritual strength. The spiritual master instructs his inquisitive disciples in Deity worship. In brief, it is to be understood that Sri Krsna Janmastami, performing Karttika vows, observing Ekadasi, and bathing in the month of January are included in the arcana process. It is important to note, regarding the worship of Krsna, that it is extremely important to worship the devotees of Krsna along with worshiping Krsna Himself. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


19. How many types of arcana are there, and which worshiper did Srlman Mahaprabhu respect more?


Sri-murti worshipers are divided into two classes, the ideal and the physical. Those of the physical school are entitled from their life circumstances and mental state to establish temple institutions. Those who are by circumstances and position entitled to worship sri-murti in the mind have, with due deference to the temple institutions, a tendency to usually worship by practicing Sravana and kirtana. Their church is universal, independent of caste and color. Mahaprabhu prefers this latter class, and displays their worship in His Siksastakam.

(Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His Life and Precepts)


20. What is the duty of a worshiper who knows his relationship with the Lord?


If one wants to worship the Deity form of the Lord with full knowledge of his relationship with the Lord, then he should simultaneously worship Lord Krsna and His devotees.

(Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 8)


21. What is the gradual process of worship?


First, one should worship one's spiritual master by offering him an asana, pddya (water for washing his feet), argya (particular ingredients), sndniya (water for bathing), vastra (clothes), and dbharana (decorations). Thereafter, one should take his permission to engage in the worship of Sri Radha and Krsna. After worshiping Sri Radha-Krsna, one should first offer Their remnants to the spiritual master, then to other Vaisnavas and the demigods. One should also offer the Lord's remnants to one's forefathers. (Harinama-cintamani)


22. Is it necessary to worship the demigods separately from Lord Visnu?


By worshiping Lord Visnu all the demigods are automatically worshiped; therefore there is no need to worship the demigods separately.



23. What propensity is prominent among unalloyed devotees?


There are two propensities in the cultivation of devotional service, the propensity to worship and the propensity to hear, chant, and remember Krsna. Even though both are reasonable, the propensity to hear, chant, and remember is prominent among unalloyed devotees. Many great personalities perform remembrance to some extent while chanting the holy names, and most to some extent chant the holy names loudly. The  special benefit of loud klrtana is that the processes of hearing, chanting, and remembering are all simultaneously carried out. (Harinama-cintdmani)


24. What is vandana, offering prayers to the Lord, and how many kinds of vandana are there?


Vandana is the sixth limb of devotional service. Although vandana is included within pdda-sevana and klrtana, it has been described as a separate limb of devotional service. Offering obeisances is also vandana. This offering of obeisances is of two kinds: offering obeisances with one part of the body, and offering obeisances with eight parts of the body. Offering obeisances with one hand, offering obeisances with one's body fully covered, offering obeisances to the Lord from the front, back, or left side of the Lord, as well as offering obeisances to the Lord inside the Deity room are considered offenses. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


25. What are the principles of dasya ?


I am an eternal servant of Krsna—this conviction is called ddsya. Worship in the ddsya mood is best. Offering obeisances, offering prayers, offering all one's activities, performing worship, and remembering and hearing the topics of the Lord are all included within dasya. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


26. How many kinds of sakhya are there?


The symptom of friendship with a desire to benefit Krsna is called sakhya. There are two kinds of sakhya: vaidhi-sakhya and rdga-sakhya. At this juncture we have to accept only vaidhi-sakhya. The friendship found in the worship of the Lord's Deity form is called vaidhi-sakhya. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)


27. What are the symptoms of dtma-nivedanal


To surrender everything to Krsna is called atma-nivedana. The symptoms of atma-nivedana are to become free from all selfish endeavor and to dovetail all endeavors for Krsna's pleasure, just as a purchased cow does not endeavor for her own maintenance. One should also remain subordinate to Krsna's will and surrender one's independence to Him.

(Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 19)