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How Does One Perform Bhagavad-Bhajana? What Are the Different Types of Sadhana, and How Are They Performed?
Hari-bhajana means bhakti. There are three stages of bhakti: the stage of practice (sadhana); the first dawning of divine love (bhava); and the mature state of divine love (prema).
Sri Rupa Gosvami has described this subject very elaborately in his book Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. In brief, there are nine types of sadhana: The nine primary limbs of devotion are
- Serving Him.
- Worshiping Him with various types of paraphernalia.
- Offering prayers.
- Serving Him in the mood of an exclusive servant.
- Serving Him in the mood of an intimate friend.
- Offering one’s very self-unto Him.
These nine types of sadhana-bhakti, are described in Srimad- Bhagavatam (7.5.23).
“Prahlada Maharaja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with
sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him(in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words)—these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.”.
Sri Rupa Gosvami has analyzed these nine in terms of their various parts and subdivisions, and has given an elaborate description of sixty-four types of sadhana-bhakti.
There is one special characteristic—sadhana-bhakti is of two types: vaidhi, sadhana impelled by the rules and regulations of scripture, and raganuga, sadhana impelled by spontaneous love. These nine types of bhakti refer to vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti.
Raganuga-sadhana-bhakti consists of internal service to Krishna in the mood of the eternal residents of Vraja, and adhering exclusively to their guidance. The sadhaka should practice the type of sadhana-bhakti for which he is eligible.