Sadhana Samput – The Treasure of Bhakti in Practice – is an essential handbook of Bhakti Yoga. It derives from the ancient wisdom tradition of the Vedic culture which teaches us universal spiritual knowledge about the soul and its eternal loving relationship with the Supersoul, Sri Krishna. Thus it transcends all mundane religions and philosophies.
It guides us through the basic daily practices of sadhana bhakti – the practice of loving devotional service aimed at attaining pure spiritual love. One who sincerely follows the guidelines of Sadhana Samput will realize that these ancient practice are not merely some obscure rules of conduct from another tradition but a gateway, a portal through which we can enter the spiritual realm and relish the sweetness of transcendental reality.
This precious and confidential compilation was inspired by Srila Prabhupada Premgopal Goswami, a pure and saintly devotees as well as lay people who feel some attraction to the sacred path of Bhakti.
The Necessity for Sadacara
The word sadacara is a combination of two words: at and acara. Sat means 'good', 'truthful', 'proper' acara means 'behaviour, conduct'. In other words, it means 'proper conduct' or 'truthful behaviour'. Sodacara is also called maryada - etiquette. Below are some quotes from sastra regarding the need to practice sadacaro.
1. No action is endowed with success unless performed with proper etiquette. Therefore, every action requires etiquette.
2. The heart of a saintly person is completely pure and his activities are called Vaisnava etiquette.
3. Vaisnava etiquette generates opulence, increases fame and longevity and destroys inauspiciousness like poverty and untimely death, etc.
My dear Sanatana, although you are the deliverer of the entire universe and although even the demigods and great saints are purified by touching you, it is characteristic of devotees like you to observe and protect the Vaisnava etiquette. Maintaining the Vaisnava etiquette is the ornament of a devotee.
If one transgresses the laws of etiquette, he becomes the laughing stock for everyone, and thus he is vanquished both in this world and the next.
Mahaprabhu told Sanatan Goswami, In affairs of spiritual advancement and even in ordinary dealings, you are on the level of Jagadananda's spiritual master. Yet not knowing his own value, he dares to instruct you. My dear Sanatana, you are on the level of My advisor, for you are a senior and learned devotee. But Jaga wants to advise you. This is but the audacious behaviour of a boy.... My dear Sanatan, please do not think that Jagadananda is more dear to Me than you. Rather, I cannot tolerate transgressions of the standard etiquette.
The elevated consciousness of Vaisnavas is reflected in their actions and behaviour. The depth of their realizations naturally manifests in their dealings and activities. A devotee who properly follows Sadacara (Vaisnava etiquette) becomes pure in mind and heart, clean, sober, gentle, devoid of false ego and pride, respectful to everyone, kind hearted and compassionate. His or her inner mood of loving devotion manifests in their external attitude of affectionate and loving mood towards others. Srila Narottam Das Thakura says in Prarthana, Those who are devoid of love and affection for their fellow devotees are very unfortunate. In Sri Caitanya- caritamrita one associate of Mahaprabhu had asked Him, So many devotees are rendering You so many different kinds of service. Which one is the best service? Mahaprabhu said, Those who have love and affection for My devotees, are performing the best devotional service.
The rules and regulations of bhakti are like signposts on the motorway. They protect us from accidents. If we fail to follow them we risk an accidental fall down from the path of bhakti. Therefore it is beneficial to follow them properly. We should neither neglect the rules, nor follow them blindly or mechanically. Thus Srila Rupa Gosvami advises us in Sri upadesamrta (2):
Niyamagrahah - Practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of attaining love, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and acting independently or whimsically is unfavourable and should be avoided.
How strict should one follow sadacara? If we had to follow everything in the book with our disadvantaged Western background, we may despair and give up bhakti altogether. The Vedic scriptures (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.10 & 1.4.25) states that the people of Kali yuga are so fallen and their consciousness is so covered that it is practically impossible for them to properly follow the intricate rituals and procedures of the Vedas. We don't have the eligibility and the proper spiritual impressions (samskars) to be able to strictly follow the original Vedic teachings. Lacking the proper samskars, most of us don't have the purity and the spiritual strength to properly follow sadacara or to have a firm grasp of the highly complex and sophisticated spiritual philosophy of the Vedic tradition.
However, Krishna is very merciful and he says in the Bhagavad Gita, api cet su-duracaro bhajate mam ananya-bhak, sadhur eva sa mantavyah [Bg. 9.30]. Even if one is short of proper conduct, even if one cannot properly follow the sadacara but has taken to Krishna consciousness and is practicing it sincerely, he is to be considered a sadhu. Therefore, Krishna has made it very easy for us to follow the path of bhakti in this Kali-yuga. Mahaprabhu has gifted us with the simple process of chanting the holy names as the only way to attain perfection in this age:
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.
The various Vaisnava practices are more than signposts on the way. They provide us with a way of elevating our consciousness to the mode of goodness and transforming our hearts. They are like a portal through which one can enter a different realm of reality. We can only transcend from the mode of goodness; we cannot jump into spiritual reality from the modes of ignorance and passion. Sadacar helps us to elevate our consciousness to the mode of goodness.
There is great benefit in following the traditional, ancestral way of practicing spiritual life. The undiluted, pure teachings of a particular tradition, ensures the purity and potency of that tradition, which comes down through the line of spiritual teachers - guru parampara - and its spiritual teachings. When changes are introduced and the original teachings are watered down, the tradition gradually loses its potency.
Therefore, it is necessary to present the original teachings in order to set the ideal standard and maintain the purity and potency of the pure bhakti tradition, its teachings and practices. The speciality of this book of sadhana is that it shows the way sadhana has been practiced in the traditional Nityananda line (Nityananda vamsha).
We hope the English readers of Sadhana Samput treat this book as a source of inspiration for their sadhana and bhajan and not merely as a collection of too many obscure rules and procedures that may seem alien to our Western mind. Srila Premgopal Goswami Prabhupada advises us to follow it as much as is reasonably and practically possible for everyone of us, but to not force it or try to do more than is real for us. If we try to do too much or more than is practically possible for us, we may become resentful and this is counterproductive. It may reinforce our Judeo-Christian guilt trip of feeling bad about ourselves, which may result in despairing and giving up bhakti altogether. Forcing oneself does not work in spiritual life. It is not favourable for our spiritual evolution and our bhakti. In the 9th chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, This process of bhakti is to be joyfully performed and in the 3rd chapter He says, What can repression accomplish?
Srila Premgopal Goswami has been teaching us that it is a misconception to think that we can attain divine love, Krishna prema, by forcing it to manifest or by artificially or mechanically following the process of bhakti. Bhakti and bhava depend on mercy, the mercy of Sri Guru, Sri Nityananda and Sri Gauranga. But when we please them by seva, by humility and by faithfully following their instructions, we make it more likely for the floodgates of mercy to open.
He says further, Do little, but do it with love. Whatever and however much we do, if it is done without love and devotion, Krishna will not accept it.
Our gurus in the Nityananda line are concerned to revive and maintain the original, pure, traditional way of practicing bhakti and sadacara (etiquette). Therefore, to please them and fulfil their desire, we are presenting this interim English edition of Sadhana Samput part one. Part two (Sri Kirtanamritam) will consist of songs, kirtans and prayers (astakams and stava-stutis). Part three will consist of mantras and procedures for puja - worshiping the Deities (aracana dipika) and other aspects of bhakti.
In consultation with Srila Premgopal Goswami, we have simplified this edition, provided additional explanations where necessary, and adjusted the original content in order to make it user-friendly. Our main consideration has been to make it clear, simple, consistent and easy-to-digest for our Western devotees. We hope this interim edition will be helpful and pleasing to our readers. We beg forgiveness for any faults, omissions and shortcomings. And finally, we humbly pray for the blessings of all Vaisnavas.
Sri Prabhupada Premgopal Goswami
Why should we follow Sadacara? What will happen if we follow this?
We are all the eternal servants of Sri Radha Govinda and Sri Nitai Gaura. We have the duty to serve Them. It is our good fortune that THEY allow us, the fallen people of Kali Yuga, to do THEIR service, but how can we serve THEM, the Divine Couple with this contaminated body? For this reason, we should learn to be pure and clean from the inside and outside. If we see that the workers in our house are not clean, would we allow them to serve us? In the same way if Sri Radhe Govinda and Sri Goura Nitai look at us and see that we are not clean both from the inside and the outside, do you think that THEY will allow us to serve Them? Yes, THEY are very merciful to us, may be THEY will forgive us this fault, but as a servant, we have to be as pure and clean as possible, otherwise we will be known as an irresponsible servant, who is not careful about his work and who doesn't do it in a clean way. We are so fortunate that we got the blessings to perform this Seva with this material body. Shri Radhe Govinda, Shri Nitay Goura, allow us to chant their name, to do puja, to offer naivedyas, to touch their eternal bodies, which is softer then butter, with this material body of us which is always full of stool, urine, cough, phlegm and so many diseases. We should not misuse these blessings and so we should not allow ourselves to do all these activities without proper cleanliness. They will not curse us if we don't maintain this, because they are so merciful, but it is our duty to serve them in a pure and clean way, for this reason we have to maintain this Sadacara. When we are clean from the outside in a good and shastric way, then we will get our inside clean and pure as well. In the beginning it may be difficult for a neophyte, who is just starting to practice Sadacara, to fallow exactly point to point these rules, sometimes you will make some faults, but after continuing for a couple of weeks, it will become very easy for you, it will become natural, and then you will feel more relaxed, comfortable and pure in your mind, you will feel more energy for doing your Seva for your Ishta. It helps to open the devotees' heart to his Ishta. Maybe there are some points that for a newcomer may be difficult to understand, why I should follow this? But you will never get an answer by speculating; if you just follow exactly what the Shastra says, then you will realize in your heart the deep truth of this practice.
Pratah Jagaran (Waking up in the morning)
After waking up, you should first change your clothes before doing japa, anik or any practice. It is very good that you take a shower in the morning after you wake up. Your night dress has to be washed too, because the clothes you use for sleeping at night become contaminated and for this reason you have to clean them. Then you should put on clean clothes to do your puja, ahnik etc. It would be very good if you have special separate clothes for your bhajan activities (Puja, ahnik, offering bhoga, etc.) and that they are made of silk, wool or jute (patta vastra), not cotton.
1. You should use wool clothes (loma vastra) when you go to the toilet.
2. After you urinate, you should use water to clean your genitals, wipe your feet with your wet hands and finally wash your hands.
3. Big toilet. After passing stools you should properly clean your backside with water, then use water to wash your private parts, and then wash your hand with earth and soap and finally your feet with water. It is not good to use cotton clothes when you go to the toilet. Better to wear a woollen chaddar or cloth. If you use cotton clothes, then you have to wash them, you are not allowed to touch or do anything wearing cotton clothes if they have been to the toilet.
Bhojana (Honouring Prasadam)
1. You should only use the right hand for taking prasadam (the left hand is used for cleaning one's private parts in the toilet and should not be used for taking prasadam) nor should you touch the plate or any offered food with your left hand. If you use both hands you have to wash both after eating and before touching anything else.
2. Before you eat, you should prepare everything for your eating. For example, if you put butter or jam or anything on your bread, you should spread it on all the slices you are going to eat before putting them to your mouth, otherwise you will contaminate all the food on the table. If this happens, be careful not to mix this contaminated food with the uncontaminated food.
3. It is good that you drink your water with your right hand, if you want to use your left hand for drinking water, be careful not to touch the water container with your lips when you drink. Drink it without touching the cup or bottle with your lips. If you touch it with your lips, you have to wash your hand and the glass.
4. Serving food in used (contaminated) dishes or plates. It is important to be careful not to touch the plate or dish which has already been eaten from with the serving spoon. If you do so, you have to wash the serving spoon and your hand before you serve another person. Puja and Arcanam (Worshiping and Serving the Deities)
1. It is a good habit to keep special, separate clothes, used only for your puja and ahnik. It is better if they are made of silk or wool, not cotton.
2. Before your puja, you should be careful that all the items to do your puja are pure and not contaminated (washed after being used. Once used, they become prasadi and cannot be used again unless washed).
3. Don't mix offered and non offered items. If you mix them you cannot offer any of the items, because they all become prasadi.
4. If you touch any prasadi (offered) items, you have to wash your hands before you touch any unoffered items. If you touch unoffered items without washing your hands, these items become prasadi remnants and cannot be offered. (Editorial note: For instance, the japa mala is prasadi so we should always touch water before touching it and after touching it. The water purifies and acts like a boundary separating clean from unclean, pure from contaminated, prasadi from bhoga (foodstuffs to be cooked and offered to the Lord), amaniya (that which has been cooked and prepared for Thakurji but not yet offered) from prasadi (that which has been offered), and prasadam which has been touched by the mouth and is now yuta (also pronounced Juta, meaning unclean or contaminated) from suci (pure).
General Rules for Sadacar
1. Whenever you touch your lips or your mouth (as well as your nostrils or eyes), you should immediately wash your hands.
2. After taking food you have to carefully wash and rinse your mouth and hands before touching anything else (otherwise you contaminate whatever you touch).
3. Women are not allowed to continue their bhajan and sadhana, to do Puja, serve the deities, cook or do Ahnik, neither should they touch any item that is to be offered or used to do Puja from the first to the fourth day of their monthly period even if the blood flow stops before these four days, if it continues after these four days, they should wait until the flow stops. They can, however, do their Harinam Japa during this period. From the fifth day on or after the blood flow stops and after taking shower and washing their Japa Mala and bead bag they can resume everything.
4. After touching the feet it is not allowed to touch your bead bag, chanting beads or anything sacred or to be offered. It is a good practice to wash hands before touching any of these. Keeping a little spray bottle with you at all times is a practical way to maintain this standard.
5. Devotees should not eat during their Harinam Japa. Before eating they should put their bead bag away in a proper place.
6. It is a good practice to wash hands and feet and to put on your Puja clothes before doing any service for your Deities.
Keep your Sadacar to get a taste from your Seva and Bhajan.
|Preface - The Necessity of Sadacara||7|
|Introduction - Sadacara by Srila Premgopal Goswami||13|
|Daily Sadacara (Basic Practices)|
|2||Serving one's body||22|
|4||Preparation for Chanting||25|
|5||Acaman Pot Installation||26|
|9||Further Considerations Regarding Tilak||37|
|10||The Diksa Mantras||44|
|11||The Hare Krishna maha-mantra||51|
|12||Other Mantras for Daily Practice||56|