“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.”
Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.35 Purport:
“The Lord, however, out of His causeless mercy, because He is more merciful to the suffering living beings than they can expect, appears before them and renovates the principles of devotional service comprised of hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping, praying, cooperating and surrendering unto Him. Adoption of all the above-mentioned items, or any one of them, can help a conditioned soul get out of the tangle of nescience and thus become liberated from all material sufferings created by the living being illusioned by the external energy. This particular type of mercy is bestowed upon the living being by the Lord in the form of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has elaborated on the Nine Angas of Bhakti In Jaiva-dharma Chapter 19 Prameya-Abhidheya-Tattva:
One should perform bhajana of the nine processes of vaidhibhakti, namely, hearing, chanting, remembering, offering prayers, worshiping, serving Krishna’s lotus feet, acting as Krishna’s servant, becoming Krishna’s friend, and surrendering oneself fully to Sri Krishna.
One who with faith daily practices bhajana in this way certainly achieves pure Krishnarati.
Sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, vandanam, pada-sevanam, arcanam, dasyam, sakhyam and atma-nivedanam: those who daily practice these nine limbs of vaidhi-bhakti with faith attain pure love of Sri Krishna. Hearing (sravana) takes place when the descriptions of Krishna’s transcendental holy name, form, qualities and pastimes come in contact with the ears.
There are two stages of sravana. The first stage is hearing descriptions of Krishna’s qualities in the association of suddha-bhaktas before developing sraddha (faith).
This type of sravana creates faith so that one develops a keen desire to hear sri-krishna-nama and His qualities. After one has developed such faith, one hears Krishna’s transcendental names and qualities with great eagerness from Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas, and that is the second kind of sravana.
Sravana is one of the limbs of suddha-bhakti, and sravana in the perfected stage is manifested as a result of hearing from guru and Vaisnavas in the stage of spiritual practice. Sravana is the first anga of bhakti.
Kirtana takes place when sri–hari–nama and the descriptions of His form, qualities and pastimes come in contact with the tongue. There are many different varieties of kirtana, such as discussions of Sri Krishna’s pastimes, describing sri–Krishna–nama, reading from scripture to others, attracting others to Krishna by singing about Him, uttering entreaties, (To make an earnest request of; to ask for earnestly; petition for), to invoke His mercy, proclaiming His glories to others, chanting bhajanas in praise of the Deity, offering prayers, and so on. Kirtana has been described as superior to all the other nine angas of bhakti, and this is especially true in Kali-yuga, when kirtana alone can bestow auspiciousness upon everyone. This is stated in all scriptures:
Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda (72.25)
“Whatever is achieved in Satya-yuga by meditation, in Treta yuga by the performance of yajna, and in Dvapara-yuga by worshiping Krishna’s lotus feet is also obtained in the age of Kali simply by chanting and glorifying Sri Kesava.”
No other method purifies the heart as effectively as hari-kirtana. When many devotees perform kirtana together, it is called sankirtana.
Remembering Krishna’s name, form, qualities and pastimes is called smaranam, of which there are five kinds. Smaranam means to contemplate some subject that has previously been heard of, or experienced.
Dhyanam means to fix the mind on a particular subject, withdrawing it from other objects.
Dhyanam means to meditate on a specific form. When dhyanam is unbroken like the continuous flow of a stream of precious oil, it is called dhruvanusmrti, and samadhi is the state in which one is oblivious to outside reality, and only aware of the objects of meditation in one’s heart.
Sravanam, kirtana and smaranam are the three primary angas of bhakti, for all the other angas are included within them, and of these three angas, kirtana is the best and most important, because sravanam and smaranam can be included within it.
(Continued in Next Segment)