Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 7: “The Science of God”
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Chapter Five



sa esa atma sva-parety abuddhibhir

duratyayanukramano nirupyate

muhyanti yad-vartmani veda-vadino

brahmadayo hy esa bhinatti me matim


sah—He; esah—this; atma—Supersoul situated in everyone’s heart; sva-para—this is my own business, and that is someone else’s; iti—thus; abuddhibhih—by those who have such bad intelligence; duratyaya—very difficult to follow; anukramanah—whose devotional service; nirupyate—is ascertained (by scriptures or the instructions of the spiritual master); muhyanti—are bewildered; yat—of whom; vartmani—on the path; veda-vadinah—the followers of Vedic instructions; brahma-adayah—the demigods, beginning from Lord Brahma; hi—indeed; esah—this one; bhinatti—changes; me—my; matim—intelligence.


Persons who always think in terms of “enemy” and “friend” are unable to ascertain the Supersoul within themselves. Not to speak of them, even such exalted persons as Lord Brahma, who are fully conversant with the Vedic literature, are sometimes bewildered in following the principles of devotional service. The same Supreme Personality of Godhead who has created this situation has certainly given me the intelligence to take the side of your so-called enemy.


Prahlada Maharaja admitted frankly, “My dear teachers, you wrongly think that Lord Visnu is your enemy, but because He is favorable toward me, I understand that He is the friend of everyone. You may think that I have taken the side of your enemy, but factually He has bestowed a great favor upon me.”



yatha bhramyaty ayo brahman

svayam akarsa-sannidhau

tatha me bhidyate cetas

cakra-paner yadrcchaya


yatha—just as; bhramyati—moves; ayah—iron; brahman—O brahmanas; svayam—itself; akarsa—of a magnet; sannidhau—in the proximity; tatha—similarly; me—my; bhidyate—is changed; cetah—consciousness; cakra-paneh—of Lord Visnu, who has a disc in His hand; yadrcchaya—simply by the will.


O brahmanas [teachers], as iron attracted by a magnetic stone moves automatically toward the magnet, my consciousness, having been changed by His will, is attracted by Lord Visnu, who carries a disc in His hand. Thus I have no independence.


For iron to be attracted by a magnet is natural. Similarly, for all living entities to be attracted toward Krsna is natural, and therefore the Lord’s real name is Krsna, meaning He who attracts everyone and everything. The typical examples of such attraction are found in Vrndavana, where everything and everyone is attracted by Krsna. The elderly persons like Nanda Maharaja and Yasodadevi, the friends like Sridama, Sudama and the other cowherd boys, the gopis like Srimati Radharani and Her associates, and even the birds, beasts, cows and calves are attracted. The flowers and fruits in the gardens are attracted, the waves of the Yamuna are attracted, and the land, sky, trees, plants, animals and all other living beings are attracted by Krsna. This is the natural situation of everything in Vrndavana.

Just contrary to the affairs of Vrndavana is the material world, where no one is attracted by Krsna and everyone is attracted by maya. This is the difference between the spiritual and material worlds. Hiranyakasipu, who was in the material world, was attracted by women and money, whereas Prahlada Maharaja, being in his natural position, was attracted by Krsna. In replying to Hiranyakasipu’s question about why Prahlada Maharaja had a deviant view, Prahlada said that his view was not deviant, for the natural position of everyone is to be attracted by Krsna. Hiranyakasipu found this view deviant, Prahlada said, because of being unnaturally unattracted by Krsna. Hiranyakasipu therefore needed purification.

As soon as one is purified of material contamination, he is again attracted by Krsna (sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]). In the material world, everyone is contaminated by the dirt of sense gratification and is acting according to different designations, sometimes as a human being, sometimes a beast, sometimes a demigod or tree, and so on. One must be cleansed of all these designations. Then one will be naturally attracted to Krsna. The bhakti process purifies the living entity of all unnatural attractions. When one is purified he is attracted by Krsna and begins to serve Krsna instead of serving maya. This is his natural position. A devotee is attracted by Krsna, whereas a nondevotee, being contaminated by the dirt of material enjoyment, is not. This is confirmed by the Lord in Bhagavad-gita (7.28):

yesam tv anta-gatam papam
jananam punya-karmanam
te dvandva-moha-nirmukta
bhajante mam drdha-vratah

“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” One must be freed from all the sinful dirt of material existence. Everyone in this material world is contaminated by material desire. Unless one is free from all material desire (anyabhilasita-sunyam [Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11]), one cannot be attracted by Krsna.



sri-narada uvaca

etavad brahmanayoktva

virarama maha-matih

tam sannibhartsya kupitah

sudino raja-sevakah


sri-naradah uvaca—Narada Muni said; etavat—this much; brahmanaya—unto the brahmanas, the sons of Sukracarya; uktva—speaking; virarama—became silent; maha-matih—Prahlada Maharaja, who possessed great intelligence; tam—him (Prahlada Maharaja); sannibhartsya—chastising very harshly; kupitah—being angry; su-dinah—poor in thought, or very much aggrieved; raja-sevakah—the servants of King Hiranyakasipu.


The great saint Narada Muni continued: The great soul Prahlada Maharaja became silent after saying this to his teachers, Sanda and Amarka, the seminal sons of Sukracarya. These so-called brahmanas then became angry at him. Because they were servants of Hiranyakasipu, they were very sorry, and to chastise Prahlada Maharaja they spoke as follows.


The word sukra means “semen.” The sons of Sukracarya were brahmanas by birthright, but an actual brahmana is one who possesses the brahminical qualities. The brahmanas Sanda and Amarka, being seminal sons of Sukracarya, did not actually possess real brahminical qualifications, for they engaged as servants of Hiranyakasipu. An actual brahmana is very much satisfied to see anyone, not to speak of his disciple, become a devotee of Lord Krsna. Such brahmanas are meant to satisfy the supreme master. A brahmana is strictly prohibited from becoming a servant of anyone else, for that is the business of dogs and sudras. A dog must satisfy his master, but a brahmana does not have to satisfy anyone; he is simply meant to satisfy Krsna (anukulyena krsnanusilanam). That is the real qualification of a brahmana. Because Sanda and Amarka were seminal brahmanas and had become servants of such a master as Hiranyakasipu, they unnecessarily wanted to chastise Prahlada Maharaja.



aniyatam are vetram

asmakam ayasaskarah

kulangarasya durbuddhes

caturtho ’syodito damah


aniyatam—let it be brought; are—oh; vetram—the stick; asmakam—of us; ayasaskarah—who is bringing defamation; kula-angarasya—of he who is like a cinder in the dynasty; durbuddheh—having bad intelligence; caturthah—the fourth; asya—for him; uditah—declared; damah—punishment (the stick, argumentum ad baculum).


Oh, please bring me a stick! This Prahlada is damaging our name and fame. Because of his bad intelligence, he has become like a cinder in the dynasty of the demons. Now he needs to be treated by the fourth of the four kinds of political diplomacy.


In political affairs, when a person disobediently agitates against the government, four principles are used to suppress him—legal orders, pacification, the offer of a post, or, finally, weapons. When there are no other arguments, he is punished. In logic, this is called argumentum ad baculum. When the two seminal brahmanas Sanda and Amarka failed to extract from Prahlada Maharaja the cause for his having opinions different from those of his father, they called for a stick with which to chastise him to satisfy their master, Hiranyakasipu. Because Prahlada had become a devotee, they considered him to be contaminated by bad intelligence and to be the worst descendant in the family of demons. As it is said, where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise. In a society or family in which everyone is a demon, for someone to become a Vaisnava is certainly folly. Thus Prahlada Maharaja was charged with bad intelligence because he was among demons, including his teachers, who were supposedly brahmanas.

The members of our Krsna consciousness movement are in a position similar to that of Prahlada Maharaja. All over the world, ninety-nine percent of the people are godless demons, and therefore our preaching of Krsna consciousness, following in the footsteps of Prahlada Maharaja, is always hampered by many impediments. Because of their fault of being devotees, the American boys who have sacrificed everything for preaching Krsna consciousness are charged with being members of the CIA. Moreover, the seminal brahmanas in India, who say that one can become a brahmana only if born in a brahmana family, charge us with ruining the Hindu system of religion. Of course, the fact is that one becomes a brahmana by qualification. Because we are training Europeans and Americans to become qualified and are awarding them brahminical status, we are being charged with destroying the Hindu religion. Nonetheless, confronting all kinds of difficulties, we must spread the Krsna consciousness movement with great determination, like that of Prahlada Maharaja. In spite of being the son of the demon Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada never feared the chastisements of the seminal brahmana sons of a demoniac father.




jato ’yam kantaka-drumah


visnor nalayito ’rbhakah


daiteya—of the demoniac family; candana-vane—in the sandalwood forest; jatah—born; ayam—this; kantaka-drumah—thorn tree; yat—of which; mula—of the roots; unmula—in the cutting; parasoh—who is like an axe; visnoh—of Lord Visnu; nalayitah—the handle; arbhakah—boy.


This rascal Prahlada has appeared like a thorn tree in a forest of sandalwood. To cut down sandalwood trees, an axe is needed, and the wood of the thorn tree is very suitable for the handle of such an axe. Lord Visnu is the axe for cutting down the sandalwood forest of the family of demons, and this Prahlada is the handle for that axe.


Thorn trees generally grow in deserted places, not in sandalwood forests, but the seminal brahmanas Sanda and Amarka compared the dynasty of the Daitya Hiranyakasipu to a sandalwood forest and compared Prahlada Maharaja to a hard, strong thorn tree that could provide the handle of an axe. They compared Lord Visnu to the axe itself. An axe alone cannot cut a thorn tree; it needs a handle, which may be made of the wood of a thorn tree. Thus the thorn tree of demoniac civilization can be cut to pieces by the axe of visnu-bhakti, devotional service to Lord Krsna. Some of the members of the demoniac civilization, like Prahlada Maharaja, may become the handle for the axe, to assist Lord Visnu, and thus the entire forest of demoniac civilization can be cut to pieces.



iti tam vividhopayair

bhisayams tarjanadibhih

prahradam grahayam asa



iti—in this way; tam—him (Prahlada Maharaja); vividha-upayaih—by various means; bhisayan—threatening; tarjana-adibhih—by chastisement, threats, etc.; prahradam—unto Prahlada Maharaja; grahayam asa—taught; tri-vargasya—the three goals of life (the paths of religion, economic development and sense gratification); upapadanam—scripture that presents.


Sanda and Amarka, the teachers of Prahlada Maharaja, chastised and threatened their disciple in various ways and began teaching him about the paths of religion, economic development and sense gratification. This is the way they educated him.


In this verse the words prahradam grahayam asa are important. The words grahayam asa literally mean that they tried to induce Prahlada Maharaja to accept the paths of dharma, artha and kama (religion, economic development and sense gratification). People are generally preoccupied with these three concerns, without interest in the path of liberation. Hiranyakasipu, the father of Prahlada Maharaja, was simply interested in gold and sense enjoyment. The word hiranya means “gold,” and kasipu refers to soft cushions and bedding on which people enjoy sense gratification. The word prahlada, however, refers to one who is always joyful in understanding Brahman (brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]). Prahlada means prasannatma, always joyful. Prahlada was always joyful in worshiping the Lord, but in accordance with the instructions of Hiranyakasipu, the teachers were interested in teaching him about material things. Materialistic persons think that the path of religion is meant for improving their material conditions. The materialist goes to a temple to worship many varieties of demigods just to receive some benediction to improve his material life. He goes to a sadhu or so-called svami to take advantage of an easy method for achieving material opulence. In the name of religion, the so-called sadhus try to satisfy the senses of the materialists by showing them shortcuts to material opulence. Sometimes they give some talisman or blessing. Sometimes they attract materialistic persons by producing gold. Then they declare themselves God, and foolish materialists are attracted to them for economic development. As a result of this process of cheating, others are reluctant to accept a religious process, and instead they advise people in general to work for material advancement. This is going on all over the world. Not only now but since time immemorial, no one is interested in moksa, liberation. There are four principles—dharma (religion), artha (economic development), kama (sense gratification) and moksa (liberation). People accept religion to become materially opulent. And why should one be materially opulent? For sense gratification. Thus people prefer these three margas, the three paths of materialistic life. No one is interested in liberation, and bhagavad-bhakti, devotional service to the Lord, is above even liberation. Therefore the process of devotional service, Krsna consciousness, is extremely difficult to understand. This will be explained later by Prahlada Maharaja. The teachers Sanda and Amarka tried to induce Prahlada Maharaja to accept the materialistic way of life, but actually their attempt was a failure.



tata enam gurur jnatva


daityendram darsayam asa

matr-mrstam alankrtam


tatah—thereafter; enam—him (Prahlada Maharaja); guruh—his teachers; jnatva—knowing; jnata—known; jneya—which are to be known; catustayam—the four diplomatic principles (sama, the process of pacifying; dana, the process of giving money in charity; bheda, the principle of dividing; and danda, the principle of punishment); daitya-indram—unto Hiranyakasipu, the King of the Daityas; darsayam asa—presented; matr-mrstam—being bathed by his mother; alankrtam—decorated with ornaments.


After some time, the teachers Sanda and Amarka thought that Prahlada Maharaja was sufficiently educated in the diplomatic affairs of pacifying public leaders, appeasing them by giving them lucrative posts, dividing and ruling over them, and punishing them in cases of disobedience. Then, one day, after Prahlada’s mother had personally washed the boy and dressed him nicely with sufficient ornaments, they presented him before his father.


It is essential for a student who is going to be a ruler or king to learn the four diplomatic principles. There is always rivalry between a king and his citizens. Therefore, when a citizen agitates the public against the king, the duty of the king is to call him and try to pacify him with sweet words, saying, “You are very important in the state. Why should you disturb the public with some new cause for agitation?” If the citizen is not pacified, the king should then offer him some lucrative post as a governor or minister—any post that draws a high salary—so that he may be agreeable. If the enemy still goes on agitating the public, the king should try to create dissension in the enemy’s camp, but if he still continues, the king should employ argumentum ad baculum—severe punishment—by putting him in jail or placing him before a firing squad. The teachers appointed by Hiranyakasipu taught Prahlada Maharaja how to be a diplomat so that he could rule over the citizens very nicely.



padayoh patitam balam


parisvajya ciram dorbhyam

paramam apa nirvrtim


padayoh—at the feet; patitam—fallen; balam—the boy (Prahlada Maharaja); pratinandya—encouraging; asisa—with blessings (“My dear child, may you live long and be happy” and so on); asurah—the demon Hiranyakasipu; parisvajya—embracing; ciram—for a long time due to affection; dorbhyam—with his two arms; paramam—great; apa—obtained; nirvrtim—jubilation.


When Hiranyakasipu saw that his child had fallen at his feet and was offering obeisances, as an affectionate father he immediately began showering blessings upon the child and embraced him with both arms. A father naturally feels happy to embrace his son, and Hiranyakasipu became very happy in this way.



aropyankam avaghraya

murdhany asru-kalambubhih

asincan vikasad-vaktram

idam aha yudhisthira


aropya—placing; ankam—on the lap; avaghraya murdhani—smelling his head; asru—of tears; kala-ambubhih—with water from drops; asincan—moistening; vikasat-vaktram—his smiling face; idam—this; aha—said; yudhisthira—O Maharaja Yudhisthira.


Narada Muni continued: My dear King Yudhisthira, Hiranyakasipu seated Prahlada Maharaja on his lap and began smelling his head. With affectionate tears gliding down from his eyes and moistening the child’s smiling face, he spoke to his son as follows.


If a child or disciple falls at the feet of the father or spiritual master, the superior responds by smelling the head of the subordinate.



hiranyakasipur uvaca

prahradanucyatam tata

svadhitam kincid uttamam


yad asiksad guror bhavan


hiranyakasipuh uvaca—King Hiranyakasipu said; prahrada—my dear Prahlada; anucyatam—let it be told; tata—my dear son; svadhitam—well learned; kincit—something; uttamam—very nice; kalena etavata—for so much time; ayusman—O long-lived one; yat—which; asiksat—has learned; guroh—from your teachers; bhavan—yourself.


Hiranyakasipu said: My dear Prahlada, my dear son, O long-lived one, for so much time you have heard many things from your teachers. Now please repeat to me whatever you think is the best of that knowledge.


In this verse, Hiranyakasipu inquires from his son what he has learned from his guru. Prahlada Maharaja’s gurus were of two kinds—Sanda and Amarka, the sons of Sukracarya in the seminal disciplic succession, were the gurus appointed by his father, but his other guru was the exalted Narada Muni, who had instructed Prahlada when Prahlada was within the womb of his mother. Prahlada Maharaja responded to the inquiry of his father with the instructions he had received from his spiritual master, Narada. Thus there was again a difference of opinion because Prahlada Maharaja wanted to relate the best thing he had learned from his spiritual master, whereas Hiranyakasipu expected to hear about the politics and diplomacy Prahlada had learned from Sanda and Amarka. Now the dissension between the father and son became increasingly intense as Prahlada Maharaja began to say what he had learned from his guru Narada Muni.


TEXTS 23–24

sri-prahrada uvaca

sravanam kirtanam visnoh

smaranam pada-sevanam

arcanam vandanam dasyam

sakhyam atma-nivedanam

iti pumsarpita visnau

bhaktis cen nava-laksana

kriyeta bhagavaty addha

tan manye ’dhitam uttamam


sri-prahradah uvaca—Prahlada Maharaja said; sravanam—hearing; kirtanam—chanting; visnoh—of Lord Visnu (not anyone else); smaranam—remembering; pada-sevanam—serving the feet; arcanam—offering worship (with sodasopacara, the sixteen kinds of paraphernalia); vandanam—offering prayers; dasyam—becoming the servant; sakhyam—becoming the best friend; atma-nivedanam—surrendering everything, whatever one has; iti—thus; pumsa arpita—offered by the devotee; visnau—unto Lord Visnu (not to anyone else); bhaktih—devotional service; cet—if; nava-laksana—possessing nine different processes; kriyeta—one should perform; bhagavati—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; addha—directly or completely; tat—that; manye—I consider; adhitam—learning; uttamam—topmost.


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 Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.


When Prahlada Maharaja was asked by his father to say something from whatever he had learned, he considered that what he had learned from his spiritual master was the best of all teachings whereas what he had learned about diplomacy from his material teachers, Sanda and Amarka, was useless. Bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra ca (Bhag. 11.2.42). This is the symptom of pure devotional service. A pure devotee is interested only in devotional service, not in material affairs. To execute devotional service, one should always engage in hearing and chanting about Krsna, or Lord Visnu. The process of temple worship is called arcana. How to perform arcana will be explained herein. One should have complete faith in the words of Krsna, who says that He is the great well-wishing friend of everyone (suhrdam sarva-bhutanam). A devotee considers Krsna the only friend. This is called sakhyam. Pumsarpita visnau. The word pumsa means “by all living entities.” There are no distinctions permitting only a man or only a brahmana to offer devotional service to the Lord. Everyone can do so. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (9.32), striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te ’pi yanti param gatim: although women, vaisyas and sudras are considered less intelligent, they also can become devotees and return home, back to Godhead.

After performing sacrifices, sometimes a person engaged in fruitive activity customarily offers the results to Visnu. But here it is said, bhagavaty addha: one must directly offer everything to Visnu. This is called sannyasa (not merely nyasa). A tridandi-sannyasi carries three dandas, signifying kaya-mano-vakya—body, mind and words. All of these should be offered to Visnu, and then one can begin devotional service. Fruitive workers first perform some pious activities and then formally or officially offer the results to Visnu. The real devotee, however, first offers his surrender to Krsna with his body, mind and words and then uses his body, mind and words for the service of Krsna as Krsna desires.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gives the following explanation in his Tathya. The word sravana refers to giving aural reception to the holy name and descriptions of the Lord’s form, qualities, entourage and pastimes as explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and similar authorized scriptures. After aurally receiving such messages, one should memorize these vibrations and repeat them (kirtanam). Smaranam means trying to understand more and more about the Supreme Lord, and pada-sevanam means engaging oneself in serving the lotus feet of the Lord according to the time and circumstances. Arcanam means worshiping Lord Visnu as one does in the temple, and vandanam means offering respectful obeisances. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. Vandanam means namaskuru—offering obeisances or offering prayers. Thinking oneself to be nitya-krsna-dasa, everlastingly a servant of Krsna, is called dasyam, and sakhyam means being a well-wisher of Krsna. Krsna wants everyone to surrender unto Him because everyone is constitutionally His servant. Therefore, as a sincere friend of Krsna, one should preach this philosophy, requesting everyone to surrender unto Krsna. Atma-nivedanam means offering Krsna everything, including one’s body, mind, intelligence and whatever one may possess.

One’s sincere endeavor to perform these nine processes of devotional service is technically called bhakti. The word addha means “directly” One should not be like the karmis, who perform pious activities and then formally offer the results to Krsna. That is karma-kanda. One should not aspire for the results of his pious activities, but should dedicate oneself fully and then act piously. In other words, one should act for the satisfaction of Lord Visnu, not for the satisfaction of his own senses. That is the meaning of the word addha, “directly.”

anukulyena krsnanu-
silanam bhaktir uttama

[Madhya 19.167]

“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Krsna favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.” One should simply satisfy Krsna, without being influenced by fruitive knowledge or fruitive activity.

The Gopala-tapani Upanisad says that the word bhakti means engagement in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, not of anyone else. This Upanisad describes that bhakti is the offering of devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To perform devotional service, one should be relieved of the bodily conception of life and aspirations to be happy through elevation to the higher planetary systems. In other words, work performed simply for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, without any desire for material benefits, is called bhakti. Bhakti is also called niskarma, or freedom from the results of fruitive activity. Bhakti and niskarma are on the same platform, although devotional service and fruitive activity appear almost the same.

The nine different processes enunciated by Prahlada Maharaja, who learned them from Narada Muni, may not all be required for the execution of devotional service; if a devotee performs only one of these nine without deviation, he can attain the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sometimes it is found that when one performs one of the processes, other processes are mixed with it. That is not improper for a devotee. When a devotee executes any one of the nine processes (nava-laksana), this is sufficient; the other eight processes are included. Now let us discuss these nine different processes.

(1) Sravanam. Hearing of the holy name of the Lord (sravanam) is the beginning of devotional service. Although any one of the nine processes is sufficient, in chronological order the hearing of the holy name of the Lord is the beginning. Indeed, it is essential. As enunciated by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, ceto-darpana-marjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one is cleansed of the material conception of life, which is due to the dirty modes of material nature. When the dirt is cleansed from the core of one’s heart, one can realize the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah [Bs. 5.1]. Thus by hearing the holy name of the Lord, one comes to the platform of understanding the personal form of the Lord. After realizing the Lord’s form, one can realize the transcendental qualities of the Lord, and when one can understand His transcendental qualities one can understand the Lord’s associates. In this way a devotee advances further and further toward complete understanding of the Lord as he awakens in realization of the Lord’s holy name, transcendental form and qualities, His paraphernalia, and everything pertaining to Him. Therefore the chronological process is sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23]. This same process of chronological understanding holds true in chanting and remembering. When the chanting of the holy name, form, qualities and paraphernalia is heard from the mouth of a pure devotee, his hearing and chanting are very pleasing. Srila Sanatana Gosvami has forbidden us to hear the chanting of an artificial devotee or nondevotee.

Hearing from the text of Srimad-Bhagavatam is considered the most important process of hearing. Srimad-Bhagavatam is full of transcendental chanting of the holy name, and therefore the chanting and hearing of Srimad-Bhagavatam are transcendentally full of mellows. The transcendental holy name of the Lord may be heard and chanted accordingly to the attraction of the devotee. One may chant the holy name of Lord Krsna, or one may chant the holy name of Lord Rama or Nrsimhadeva (ramadi-murtisu kala-niyamena tisthan [Bs. 5.39]). The Lord has innumerable forms and names, and devotees may meditate upon a particular form and chant the holy name according to his attraction. The best course is to hear of the holy name, form and so on from a pure devotee of the same standard as oneself. In other words, one who is attached to Krsna should chant and hear from other pure devotees who are also attached to Lord Krsna. The same principle applies for devotees attracted by Lord Rama, Lord Nrsimha and other forms of the Lord. Because Krsna is the ultimate form of the Lord (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam), it is best to hear about Lord Krsna’s name, form and pastimes from a realized devotee who is particularly attracted by the form of Lord Krsna. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, great devotees like Sukadeva Gosvami have specifically described Lord Krsna’s holy name, form and qualities. Unless one hears about the holy name, form and qualities of the Lord, one cannot clearly understand the other processes of devotional service. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommends that one chant the holy name of Krsna. param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam. If one is fortunate enough to hear from the mouth of realized devotees, he is very easily successful on the path of devotional service. Therefore hearing of the holy name, form and qualities of the Lord is essential.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.11) there is this verse:

tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo
yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso-’nkitani yat
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

“Verses describing the name, form and qualities of Anantadeva, the unlimited Supreme Lord, are able to vanquish all the sinful reactions of the entire world. Therefore even if such verses are improperly composed, devotees hear them, describe them and accept them as bona fide and authorized.” In this connection, Sridhara Svami has remarked that a pure devotee takes advantage of another pure devotee by trying to hear from him about the holy name, form and qualities of the Lord. If there is no such opportunity, he alone chants and hears the Lord’s holy name.

(2) Kirtanam. The hearing of the holy name has been described above. Now let us try to understand the chanting of the holy name, which is the second item in the consecutive order. It is recommended that such chanting be performed very loudly. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Narada Muni says that without shame he began traveling all over the world, chanting the holy name of the Lord. Similarly, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has advised:

trnad api sunicena
taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada harih

[Cc. adi 17.31]

A devotee can very peacefully chant the holy name of the Lord by behaving more humbly than the grass, being tolerant like a tree and offering respects to everyone, without expecting honor from anyone else. Such qualifications make it easier to chant the holy name of the Lord. The process of transcendental chanting can be easily performed by anyone. Even if one is physically unfit, classified lower than others, devoid of material qualifications or not at all elevated in terms of pious activities, the chanting of the holy name is beneficial. An aristocratic birth, an advanced education, beautiful bodily features, wealth and similar results of pious activities are all unnecessary for advancement in spiritual life, for one can very easily advance simply by chanting the holy name. It is understood from the authoritative source of Vedic literature that especially in this age, Kali-yuga, people are generally short-living, extremely bad in their habits, and inclined to accept methods of devotional service that are not bona fide. Moreover, they are always disturbed by material conditions, and they are mostly unfortunate. Under the circumstances, the performance of other processes, such as yajna, dana, tapah and kriya—sacrifices, charity and so on—are not at all possible. Therefore it is recommended:

harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha

[Adi 17.21]

“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one advances perfectly in spiritual life. This is the best process for success in life. In other ages, the chanting of the holy name is equally powerful, but especially in this age, Kali-yuga, it is most powerful. Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet: simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna, one is liberated and returns home, back to Godhead. Therefore, even if one is able to perform other processes of devotional service, one must adopt the chanting of the holy name as the principal method of advancing in spiritual life. Yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah: [SB 11.5.32] those who are very sharp in their intelligence should adopt this process of chanting the holy names of the Lord. One should not, however, manufacture different types of chanting. One should adhere seriously to the chanting of the holy name as recommended in the scriptures: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

While chanting the holy name of the Lord, one should be careful to avoid ten offenses. From Sanat-kumara it is understood that even if a person is a severe offender in many ways, he is freed from offensive life if he takes shelter of the Lord’s holy name. Indeed, even if a human being is no better than a two-legged animal, he will be liberated if he takes shelter of the holy name of the Lord. One should therefore be very careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of the Lord’s holy name. The offenses are described as follows: (a) to blaspheme a devotee, especially a devotee engaged in broadcasting the glories of the holy name, (b) to consider the name of Lord Siva or any other demigod to be equally as powerful as the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (no one is equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor is anyone superior to Him), (c) to disobey the instructions of the spiritual master, (d) to blaspheme the Vedic literatures and literatures compiled in pursuance of the Vedic literatures, (e) to comment that the glories of the holy name of the Lord are exaggerated, (f) to interpret the holy name in a deviant way, (g) to commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name, (h) to compare the chanting of the holy name to pious activities, (i) to instruct the glories of the holy name to a person who has no understanding of the chanting of the holy name, (j) not to awaken in transcendental attachment for the chanting of the holy name, even after hearing all these scriptural injunctions.

There is no way to atone for any of these offenses. It is therefore recommended that an offender at the feet of the holy name continue to chant the holy name twenty-four hours a day. Constant chanting of the holy name will make one free of offenses, and then he will gradually be elevated to the transcendental platform on which he can chant the pure holy name and thus become a lover of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It is recommended that even if one commits offenses, one should continue chanting the holy name. In other words, the chanting of the holy name makes one offenseless. In the book Nama-kaumudi it is recommended that if one is an offender at the lotus feet of a Vaisnava, he should submit to that Vaisnava and be excused; similarly, if one is an offender in chanting the holy name, he should submit to the holy name and thus be freed from his offenses. In this connection there is the following statement, spoken by Daksa to Lord Siva: “I did not know the glories of your personality, and therefore I committed an offense at your lotus feet in the open assembly. You are so kind, however, that you did not accept my offense. Instead, when I was falling down because of accusing you, you saved me by your merciful glance. You are most great. Kindly excuse me and be satisfied with your own exalted qualities.”

One should be very humble and meek to offer one’s desires and chant prayers composed in glorification of the holy name, such as ayi mukta-kulair upasya manam and nivrtta-tarsair upagiyamanad [SB 10.1.4]. One should chant such prayers to become free from offenses at the lotus feet of the holy name.

(3) Smaranam. After one regularly performs the processes of hearing and chanting and after the core of one’s heart is cleansed, smaranam, remembering, is recommended. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.1.11) Sukadeva Gosvami tells King Pariksit:

etan nirvidyamananam
icchatam akuto-bhayam
yoginam nrpa nirnitam
harer namanukirtanam

“O King, for great yogis who have completely renounced all material connections, for those who desire all material enjoyment and for those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord is recommended.” According to different relationships with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there are varieties of namanukirtanam, chanting of the holy name, and thus according to different relationships and mellows there are five kinds of remembering. These are as follows: (a) conducting research into the worship of a particular form of the Lord, (b) concentrating the mind on one subject and withdrawing the mind’s activities of thinking, feeling and willing from all other subjects, (c) concentrating upon a particular form of the Lord (this is called meditation), (d) concentrating one’s mind continuously on the form of the Lord (this is called dhruvanusmrti, or perfect meditation), and (e) awakening a likening for concentration upon a particular form (this is called samadhi, or trance). Mental concentration upon particular pastimes of the Lord in particular circumstances is also called remembrance. Therefore samadhi, trance, can be possible in five different ways in terms of one’s relationship. Specifically, the trance of devotees on the stage of neutrality is called mental concentration.

(4) pada-sevanam. According to one’s taste and strength, hearing, chanting and remembrance may be followed by pada-sevanam. One obtains the perfection of remembering when one constantly thinks of the lotus feet of the Lord. Being intensely attached to thinking of the Lord’s lotus feet is called pada-sevanam. When one is particularly adherent to the process of pada-sevanam, this process gradually includes other processes, such as seeing the form of the Lord, touching the form of the Lord, circumambulating the form or temple of the Lord, visiting such places as Jagannatha Puri, Dvaraka and Mathura to see the Lord’s form, and bathing in the Ganges or Yamuna. Bathing in the Ganges and serving a pure Vaisnava are also known as tadiya-upasanam. This is also pada-sevanam. The word tadiya means “in relationship with the Lord.” Service to the Vaisnava, Tulasi, Ganges and Yamuna are included in pada-sevanam. All these processes of pada-sevanam help one advance in spiritual life very quickly.

(5) Arcanam. After pada-sevanam comes the process of arcanam, worship of the Deity. If one is interested in the process of arcanam, one must positively take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and learn the process from him. There are many books for arcana, especially Narada-pancaratra. In this age, the pancaratra system is particularly recommended for arcana, Deity worship. There are two systems of arcana—the bhagavata system and pancaratriki system. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam there is no recommendation of pancaratriki worship because in this Kali-yuga, even without Deity worship, everything can be perfectly performed simply through hearing, chanting, remembering and worship of the lotus feet of the Lord. Rupa Gosvami states:

sri-visnoh sravane pariksid abhavad vaiyasakih kirtane
prahladah smarane tad-anghri-bhajane laksmih prthuh pujane
akruras tv abhivandane kapi-patir dasye ’tha sakhye ’rjunah
sarvasvatma-nivedane balir abhut krsnaptir esam param

“Pariksit Maharaja attained salvation simply by hearing, and Sukadeva Gosvami attained salvation simply by chanting. Prahlada Maharaja attained salvation by remembering the Lord. The goddess of fortune, Laksmidevi, attained perfection by worshiping the Lord’s lotus feet. Prthu Maharaja attained salvation by worshiping the Deity of the Lord. Akrura attained salvation by offering prayers, Hanuman by rendering service, Arjuna by establishing friendship with the Lord, and Bali Maharaja by offering everything to the service of the Lord.” All these great devotees served the Lord according to a particular process, but every one of them attained salvation and became eligible to return home, back to Godhead. This is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam.

It is therefore recommended that initiated devotees follow the principles of Narada-pancaratra by worshiping the Deity in the temple. Especially for householder devotees who are opulent in material possessions, the path of Deity worship is strongly recommended. An opulent householder devotee who does not engage his hard-earned money in the service of the Lord is called a miser. One should not engage paid brahmanas to worship the Deity. If one does not personally worship the Deity but engages paid servants instead, he is considered lazy, and his worship of the Deity is called artificial. An opulent householder can collect luxurious paraphernalia for Deity worship, and consequently for householder devotees the worship of the Deity is compulsory. In our Krsna consciousness movement there are brahmacaris, grhasthas, vanaprasthas and sannyasis, but the Deity worship in the temple should be performed especially by the householders. The brahmacaris can go with the sannyasis to preach, and the vanaprasthas should prepare themselves for the next status of renounced life, sannyasa. Grhastha devotees, however, are generally engaged in material activities, and therefore if they do not take to Deity worship, their falling down is positively assured. Deity worship means following the rules and regulations precisely. That will keep one steady in devotional service. Generally householders have children, and then the wives of the householders should be engaged in caring for the children, just as women acting as teachers care for the children in a nursery school.

Grhastha devotees must adopt the arcana-vidhi, or Deity worship according to the suitable arrangements and directions given by the spiritual master. Regarding those unable to take to the Deity worship in the temple, there is the following statement in the Agni Purana. Any householder devotee circumstantially unable to worship the Deity must at least see the Deity worship, and in this way he may achieve success also. The special purpose of Deity worship is to keep oneself always pure and clean. Grhastha devotees should be actual examples of cleanliness.

Deity worship should be continued along with hearing and chanting. Therefore every mantra is preceded by the word namah. In all the mantras there are specific potencies, of which the grhastha devotees must take advantage. There are many mantras preceded by the word namah, but if one chants the holy name of the Lord, he receives the result of chanting namah many times. By chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can reach the platform of love of Godhead. One might ask, then what is the necessity of being initiated? The answer is that even though the chanting of the holy name is sufficient to enable one to progress in spiritual life to the standard of love of Godhead, one is nonetheless susceptible to contamination because of possessing a material body. Consequently, special stress is given to the arcana-vidhi. One should therefore regularly take advantage of both the bhagavata process and pancaratriki process.

Deity worship has two divisions, namely pure and mixed with fruitive activities. For one who is steady, Deity worship is compulsory. Observing the various types of festivals, such as Sri Janmastami, Rama-navami and Nrsimha-caturdasi, is also included in the process of Deity worship. In other words, it is compulsory for householder devotees to observe these festivals.

Now let us discuss the offenses in Deity worship. The following are offenses: (a) to enter the temple with shoes or being carried on a palanquin, (b) not to observe the prescribed festivals, (c) to avoid offering obeisances in front of the Deity, (d) to offer prayers in an unclean state, not having washed one’s hands after eating, (e) to offer obeisances with one hand, (f) to circumambulate directly in front of the Deity, (g) to spread one’s legs before the Deity, (h) to sit before the Deity while holding one’s ankles with one’s hands, (i) to lie down before the Deity, (j) to eat before the Deity, (k) to speak lies before the Deity, (l) to address someone loudly before the Deity, (m) to talk nonsense before the Deity, (n) to cry before the Deity, (o) to argue before the Deity, (p) to chastise someone before the Deity, (q) to show someone favor before the Deity, (r) to use harsh words before the Deity, (s) to wear a woolen blanket before the Deity, (t) to blaspheme someone before the Deity, (u) to worship someone else before the Deity, (v) to use vulgar language before the Deity, (w) to pass air before the Deity, (x) to avoid very opulent worship of the Deity, even though one is able to perform it, (y) to eat something not offered to the Deity, (z) to avoid offering fresh fruits to the Deity according to the season, (aa) to offer food to the Deity which has already been used or from which has first been given to others (in other words, food should not be distributed to anyone else until it has been offered to the Deity), (bb) to sit with one’s back toward the Deity, (cc) to offer obeisances to someone else in front of the Deity, (dd) not to chant proper prayers when offering obeisances to the spiritual master, (ee) to praise oneself before the Deity, and (ff) to blaspheme the demigods. In the worship of the Deity, these thirty-two offenses should be avoided.

In the Varaha Purana the following offenses are mentioned: (a) to eat in the house of a rich man, (b) to enter the Deity’s room in the dark, (c) to worship the Deity without following the regulative principles, (d) to enter the temple without vibrating any sound, (e) to collect food that has been seen by a dog, (f) to break silence while offering worship to the Deity, (g) to go to the toilet during the time of worshiping the Deity, (h) to offer incense without offering flowers, (i) to worship the Deity with forbidden flowers, (j) to begin worship without having washed one’s teeth, (k) to begin worship after sex, (l) to touch a lamp, dead body or a woman during her menstrual period, or to put on red or bluish clothing, unwashed clothing, the clothing of others or soiled clothing. Other offenses are to worship the Deity after seeing a dead body, to pass air before the Deity, to show anger before the Deity, and to worship the Deity just after returning from a crematorium. After eating, one should not worship the Deity until one has digested his food, nor should one touch the Deity or engage in any Deity worship after eating safflower oil or hing. These are also offenses.

In other places, the following offenses are listed: (a) to be against the scriptural injunctions of the Vedic literature or to disrespect within one’s heart the Srimad-Bhagavatam while externally falsely accepting its principles, (b) to introduce differing sastras, (c) to chew pan and betel before the Deity, (d) to keep flowers for worship on the leaf of a castor oil plant, (e) to worship the Deity in the afternoon, (f) to sit on the altar or to sit on the floor to worship the Deity (without a seat), (g) to touch the Deity with the left hand while bathing the Deity, (h) to worship the Deity with a stale or used flower, (i) to spit while worshiping the Deity, (j) to advertise one’s glory while worshiping the Deity, (k) to apply tilaka to one’s forehead in a curved way, (l) to enter the temple without having washed one’s feet, (m) to offer the Deity food cooked by an uninitiated person, (n) to worship the Deity and offer bhoga to the Deity within the vision of an uninitiated person or non-Vaisnava, (o) to offer worship to the Deity without worshiping Vaikuntha deities like Ganesa, (p) to worship the Deity while perspiring, (q) to refuse flowers offered to the Deity, (r) to take a vow or oath in the holy name of the Lord.

If one commits any of the above offenses, one must read at least one chapter of Bhagavad-gita. This is confirmed in the Skanda-Purana, Avanti-khanda. Similarly, there is another injunction, stating that one who reads the thousand names of Visnu can be released from all offenses. In the same Skanda-Purana, Reva-khanda, it is said that one who recites prayers to tulasi or sows a tulasi seed is also freed from all offenses. Similarly, one who worships the salagrama-sila can also be relieved of offenses. In the Brahma-nda Purana it is said that one who worships Lord Visnu, whose four hands bear a conchshell, disc, lotus flower and club, can be relieved from the above offenses. In the Adi-varaha Purana it is said that a worshiper who has committed offenses may fast for one day at the holy place known as Saukarava and then bathe in the Ganges.

In the process of worshiping the Deity it is sometimes enjoined that one worship the Deity within the mind. In the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, it is said, “All persons can generally worship within the mind.” The Gautamiya Tantra states, “For a sannyasi who has no home, worship of the Deity within the mind is recommended.” In the Narada-pancaratra it is stated by Lord Narayana that worship of the Deity within the mind is called manasa-puja, One can become free from the four miseries by this method. Sometimes worship from the mind can be independently executed. According to the instruction of Avirhotra Muni, one of the nava-yogendras, as mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam, one may worship the Deity by chanting all the mantras. Eight kinds of Deities are mentioned in the sastra, and the mental Deity is one of them. In this regard, the following description is given in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.

In the city of Pratisthana-pura, long ago, there resided a brahmana who was poverty-stricken but innocent and not dissatisfied. One day he heard a discourse in an assembly of brahmanas concerning how to worship the Deity in the temple. In that meeting, he also heard that the Deity may be worshiped within the mind. After this incident, the brahmana, having bathed in the Godavari River, began mentally worshiping the Deity. He would wash the temple within his mind, and then in his imagination he would bring water from all the sacred rivers in golden and silver waterpots. He collected all kinds of valuable paraphernalia for worship, and he worshiped the Deity very gorgeously, beginning from bathing the Deity and ending with offering arati. Thus he felt great happiness. After many years had passed in this way, one day within his mind he cooked nice sweet rice with ghee to worship the Deity. He placed the sweet rice on a golden dish and offered it to Lord Krsna, but he felt that the sweet rice was very hot, and therefore he touched it with his finger. He immediately felt that his finger had been burned by the hot sweet rice, and thus he began to lament. While the brahmana was in pain, Lord Visnu in Vaikuntha began smiling, and the goddess of fortune inquired from the Lord why He was smiling. Lord Visnu then ordered His associates to bring the brahmana to Vaikuntha. Thus the brahmana attained the liberation of samipya, the facility of living near the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

(6) Vandanam. Although prayers are a part of Deity worship, they may be considered separately like the other items, such as hearing and chanting, and therefore separate statements are given herewith. The Lord has unlimited transcendental qualities and opulences, and one who feels influenced by the Lord’s qualities in various activities offers prayers to the Lord. In this way he becomes successful. In this connection, the following are some of the offenses to be avoided: (a) to offer obeisances on one hand, (b) to offer obeisances with one’s body covered, (c) to show one’s back to the Deity, (d) to offer obeisances on the left side of the Deity, (e) to offer obeisances very near the Deity.

(7) Dasyam. There is the following statement in regard to assisting the Lord as a servant. After many, many thousands of births, when one comes to understand that he is an eternal servant of Krsna, one can deliver others from this universe. If one simply continues to think that he is an eternal servant of Krsna, even without performing any other process of devotional service, he can attain full success, for simply by this feeling one can perform all nine processes of devotional service.

(8) Sakhyam. In regard to worshiping the Lord as a friend, the Agastya-samhita states that a devotee engaged in performing devotional service by sravanam and kirtanam sometimes wants to see the Lord personally, and for this purpose he resides in the temple. Elsewhere there is this statement: “O my Lord, Supreme Personality and eternal friend, although You are full of bliss and knowledge, You have become the friend of the residents of Vrndavana. How fortunate are these devotees!” In this statement the word “friend” is specifically used to indicate intense love. Friendship, therefore, is better than servitude. In the stage above dasya-rasa, the devotee accepts the Supreme Personality of Godhead as a friend. This is not at all astonishing, for when a devotee is pure in heart the opulence of his worship of the Deity diminishes as spontaneous love for the Personality of Godhead is manifested. In this regard, Sridhara Svami mentions Sridama Vipra, who expressed to himself his feelings of obligation, thinking, “Life after life, may I be connected with Krsna in this friendly attitude.”

(9) Atma-nivedanam. The word Atma-nivedanam refers to the stage at which one who has no motive other than to serve the Lord surrenders everything to the Lord and performs his activities only to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a devotee is like a cow that is cared for by its master. When cared for by its master, a cow is not in anxiety over its maintenance. Such a cow is always devoted to its master, and it never acts independently, but only for the master’s benefit. Some devotees, therefore, consider dedication of the body to the Lord to be atma-nivedanam, and as stated in the book known as Bhakti-viveka, sometimes dedication of the soul to the Lord is called atma-nivedanam. The best examples of atma-nivedanam are found in Bali Maharaja and Ambarisa Maharaja. Atma-nivedanam is also sometimes found in the behavior of Rukminidevi at Dvaraka.

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