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Sixty Four Items of Devotional Service

As described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.115-28), and in Srila Rupa Gosvami's Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. The sixty-four items of devotional service should include all of our activities of body, mind and speech. The regulative principle of devotional service enjoins that all of our senses must be employed in the service of the Lord. Exactly how they can be thus employed is described herin.

The first ten principles are preliminary necessities for beginning the discharge of regulated devotional service:

(1) Accept a bona fide spiritual master;
(2) Become initiated by the spiritual master;
(3) Engage oneself in the service of the spiritual master;
(4) Receive instructions from the spiritual master and inquire about advancing on the path of devotional service;
(5) Follow in the footsteps of previous acaryas and follow the directions given by the spiritual master;
(6) Give up anything for the satisfaction of Krsna, and to accept anything for the satisfaction of Krsna;
(7) Live in a place where Krsna is present; a city like Vrndavana, Mathura , or a Krsna temple;
(8) Be satisfied by whatever is sent by Krsna for the maintenance of the body and hanker for no more;
(9) Observe fasting days, such as Ekadasi;
(10) Show respect for cows, vaisnavas, and sacred trees like the banyan.

Additional principles are as follows:

(11) One should avoid committing offences against the holy name, the Deity, etc;
(12) One should avoid associating with non-devotees;
(13) One should not aspire to have many disciples;
(14) One should not unnecessarily divert his attention by partially studying many books so as to appear very learned;
(15) One should not be disturbed in either loss or gain;
(16) One should not allow oneself to be overwhelmed by lamentation for any reason;
(17) One should not disrespect the demigods and other scriptures, although one should not worship or follow them;
(18) One should not tolerate blasphemy of the Supreme Lord or His devotees;
(19) One should not indulge in idle talks, such as those about relationships between men and women;
(20) One should not unnecessarily disturb any living being, whatever he may be.

The next important items are as follows:

(21) Hear about the Lord and His pastimes;
(22) Chant His glories;
(23) Remember Him;
(24) Serve and meditate upon the lotus feet of the Lord and His devotees;
(25) Worship Him;
(26) Pray to Him;
(27) Think of oneself as the Lord's eternal servant;
(28) Become the Lord's friend;
(29) Offer everything to the Lord;
(30) Dance before the Deity;
(31) Sing before the Deity;
(32) Inform the Lord of everything about one's life;
(33) Bow down to the Lord;
(34) Offer respect to the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord by standing up at the appropriate time;
(35) Follow the spiritual master or the Supreme Lord in procession;
(36) Visit places of pilgrimage and temples of the Supreme Lord;
(37) Circumambulate the temple at least three times;
(38) Recite prayers;
(39) Chant the Lord's name softly to oneself;
(40) Chant the Lord's name loudly in congregation;
(41) Smell incense and flowers offered to the Deity;
(42) Eat the remnants of food offered to the Deity;
(43) Regularly (once or twice daily) attend the arati offered to the Deity, as well as special festivals;
(44) Regularly look upon the Deity;
(45) Offer one's dear most possessions to the Supreme Lord;
(46) Meditate on the Lord's name, form, pastimes, etc;
(47) Water the tulasi plant;
(48) Serve the Lord's devotees;
(49) Try to live in Vrndavana or Mathura;
(50) Relish the topics of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and similar literature;
(51) Take all kinds of risks for Krsna;
(52) Always expect the mercy of Krsna;
(53) Observe ceremonies like Janmasthami (the appearance day of Lord Krsna) with devotees;
(54) Fully surrender to Krsna;
(55) Observe special regulations like those followed during the month of Kartika (Oct.-Nov.);
(56) Mark the body with Vaisnava tilaka (clay markings);
(57) Mark the body with the holy names of God;
(58) Accept the remnants of garlands that have been offered to the Supreme Lord and the spiritual master;
(59) Drink caranamrta, the water that has washed the lotus feet of the Deity;
(60) Touch the lotus feet of the Deity;
(61) Offer arati at different times;
(62) Arrange one's devotional service according to one's means;
(63) Act with great care and devotion for the Deity;
(64) Associate with devotees who are considered more advanced.

Devotees of Krsna, following in the foot steps of Sri Caitanya believe that a living entity is constitutionally part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, eternal; full of knowledge and blissful. The two coverings in the form of gross and subtle bodies are attributed to the living entities by the external energy of the lord, hence unwanted. Since the gross and subtle bodies are born from the external energy of the lord, He is naturally the enjoyer and proprietor of those bodies. In other words, the soul; the mind and the body of a living entity belong to Krishna. Therefore it is the only duty of the soul, mind and body to fully engage in His service. By worshiping lord Hari one's own and the benefit of others is accomplished. Execution of pure devotional service is the only means of attaining eternal peace. In order to please the Supreme Lord devotees cultivate principles of pure devotional service such as observing the vow of Ekadasi. They know that the principle purpose of all these activities is to achieve love of God. They also know that these actions of devotional service are not prescribed for material sense gratification or for protecting the self interest of the gross and subtle bodies.

 


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