“Moving Forward”

A Treatise; Making a “Case” for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada’s “Mission”

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Segment 78

The 9 Angas (Arms) of Bhakti, Part 2.

According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23):

“Hearing and chanting about Sri Visnu’s transcendental name, form, qualities and so on; remembering them; serving His lotus feet; worshiping Him with sixteen types of paraphernalia; offering prayers to Him; becoming His servant; adopting a friendly mood towards Him; and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) – these nine are accepted as suddha-bhakti.”

The fourth anga of bhakti is performing service (pada-seva or paricarya).  Pada-seva must also be performed together with sravanam, kirtana and smaranam.  One should perform pada-seva with a humble attitude, understanding that one is unqualified for the service.  It is also essential to realize the object of service as sac-cid-ananda, the embodiment of eternity, knowledge and bliss.  Pada-seva includes seeing the face of Sri Krishna’s Deity form, touching Him, circumambulating Him, following Him, and visiting holy places such as Sri Bhagavan’s temple, the Ganga, Jagannatha Puri, Dvaraka-Mathura, Navadvipa and so forth.  Srila Rupa Gosvami has presented these in a very clear and vivid way in his description of the sixty-four angas of bhakti.  Service to Sri Tulasi and suddhabhaktas is also included within this anga.

The fifth anga is worship (arcana).  There are many considerations regarding qualification and methods of worship.  If one is attracted to the path of arcana, even after being engaged in sravanam, kirtana and smaranam, then one should perform arcana after properly accepting diksa-mantra from Sri Gurudeva. 

What is the difference between nama and mantra? 

Sri Hari’s name is the life and soul of mantra.  The rsis have added words such as namah (‘obeisances’) to sri-hari-nama, and disclosed its specific power.  Sri-hari-nama by nature has nothing to do with this material world, whereas the jiva, because of various bodily designations provided by maya, is entrapped by objects consisting of dead matter.  Consequently, in order to detach the jiva’s mind from sense objects, different principles of arcana have been established on the path of regulated devotional service (maryada-marga).  It is essential for materialistic people to accept diksa.  When one chants the Krishna mantra, siddha-sadhya-susiddhaari are not considered. 

Initiation into the exclusive chanting of the Krishna mantra is extremely beneficial for the jiva, for of all the different mantras in the world, the Krishna-mantra is the most powerful.  A bona fide disciple receives strength from Krishna immediately when a bona fide spiritual master initiates him into this mantra.  After initiation, Gurudeva educates the inquiring disciple concerning the performance of arcana.  Briefly, arcana-marga includes the observance of Sri Krishna’s Appearance Day, fasting in Karttika month, observing Ekadasi, taking bath in the month of Magha, and other such activities.  One should also understand that one must certainly worship Krishna’s bhaktas as well as Krishna Himself on the path of arcana.

The sixth anga of vaidhi-bhakti is offering prayers and obeisances (vandanam).  This is included as part of pada-seva and kirtana, but it is still considered a separate anga of bhakti.  Namaskara itself is also called vandanam.  Ekanga-namaskara and paying obeisances with eight parts of the body touching the ground (astanganamaskara) are two types of namaskara.  It is considered offensive to offer obeisances with only one hand touching the ground; to offer obeisances when the body is covered with cloth, to offer obeisances behind the Deity; to offer prostrated obeisances with the body pointing directly towards the Deity, or with the right side towards the Deity and to offer obeisances in the garbha-mandira (Deity room).

Performing service (dasyam) is the seventh anga of bhakti.  “I am Krishna’s servant” – this ego or conception of the self is dasyam, and bhajana performed with the sentiment of a servant is the topmost bhajana.  Dasyam includes offering obeisances, reciting prayers, offering all of one’s activities, serving, keeping proper conduct, remembering and obeying orders (katha-sravanam).

The eighth anga of bhakti is serving as a friend (sakhyam), which includes the mood of kinship towards Krishna with the endeavors for His well-being.  There are two kinds of sakhyam: friendship in vaidhi-bhakti and friendship in raganuga-bhakti, but Sri Prahlada’s verse refers to vaidhanga-sakhyam; for example, the feeling of sakhyam while serving the Deity is vaidha-sakhyam. 

The ninth anga is known as atma-nivedanam, which means offering the whole self – body, mind and pure atma – to Sri Krishna.  The characteristics of atma-nivedanam are exclusive endeavor for Krishna, and lack of activity for one’s own self-interest.  It is also characteristic of atma-nivedanam that one lives to serve the desire of Krishna, and keeps one’s own desire subordinate to Krishna’s desire, just as a cow that has been purchased does not care for its own maintenance.

Atma-nivedanam in vaidhi-bhakti is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.18–20): as follows:

Ambarisa Maharaja engaged his mind in serving the lotus feet of Sri Krishna, his words in describing the qualities of Sri Bhagavan, his hands in cleaning Sri Hari’s temple, and his ears in hearing Acyuta’s blissful pastimes.

He engaged his eyes in seeing the Deity of Mukunda, different temples, and the holy places; all his bodily limbs in touching the bodies of Krishna’s bhaktas; his nostrils in smelling the divine smell of tulasi offered to Krishna’s lotus feet; and his tongue in tasting the prasada offered to Bhagavan.

His feet were always engaged in walking to Bhagavan’s holy places, and he would pay obeisances to Sri Krishna’s lotus feet.  Ambarisa Maharaja would offer garlands, sandal, bhoga and similar paraphernalia in Bhagavan’s service, not with the desire to enjoy himself, but to receive the love for Sri Krishna that is present only in His suddha-bhaktas.”

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