Assignment 14

Babhru Das - June 10, 2006 7:10 pm

Exploring the Ocean of The Nectar of Devotion

Assignment 14


Read Chapter 12 of The Nectar of Devotion, “Further Aspects of Transcendental Service.” The chapter covers verses 207-237of the second wave of Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu’s Eastern Division. This chapter gives scriptural evidence for items 54-64 of the 64 angas of bhakti, five of which are considered to be most potent forms of devotional service. Since the last five items are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 13, we will focus mostly on the other items in this assignment.


We may notice that there seems to be some repetition among the items of sadhana bhakti mentioned in these chapters. The repetition of living in the holy dhama, such as Mathura or Vrindavana emphasizes its importance in devotional service. Item 10 (“worshiping sacred trees like the banyan tree”) and item 53 (“one should pour water on the Tulasi tree”) are distinct in that item 10 refers to being respectful of these entities and item 53 refers to physical acts of service we may perform for them. Item 32 (“one must sing”, item 33 (“one must perform sankirtan”), item 34 (“one must chant”), and item 63 (“one must chant the Hare Krishna mantra”) can be distinguished by considering that 32 refers to singing songs written to glorify the Lord, 33 to congregational chanting, 34 to japa, and 63 highlights the paramount importance of congregationally chanting the Lord’s holy name.

With regard to service to vaishnavas, here are a couple of the verses cited which may be somewhat familiar:

aradhananam sarvesham vishnor aradhanam param

tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarcanam

“O Devi, the most exalted system of worship is the worship of Lord Vishnu. Greater than that is the worship of tadiya, or anything belonging to Vishnu.”


ye me bhakta-janah partha na me bhaktas ca te janah

mad-bhaktanam ca ye bhaktaste me bhakta-tama matah

[Lord Krishna told Arjuna:] “Those who are My direct devotees are actually not My devotees, but those who are the devotees of My servant are factually My devotees.”



Think and write about your experiences of the benefits of service to vaishnavas and to Tulasi, as well as of observing (or even better, organizing) festivals for the Lord’s pleasure, and residing in (or even visiting) holy places such as Mathura and Vrindavana. How have such activities actually helped in developing our devotional service?

Shyam Gopal Das - June 20, 2006 7:51 pm

When reading your last question, I was reminded of my visit of Vrindavana almost two years ago. This visit made me practically aware of what it means to put Krishna in the center, to serve him. To know that every blade of grass or stone you step on has its place in Krishna lila.

The sound of temple bells ringing, the people shouting radhe radhe to each other. If such a place does not remind one of Krishna...

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - June 26, 2006 4:24 pm

I was thinking what to write about this chapter, and the only thing which came to my mind was Tulasi Devi. I know from personal experience that daily worship of Tulasi is very important and helpful to me, because it’s tadiya-sevana. I’m always meditating on Tulasi in her gopi-rupa -- Vrinda Devi, having a beautiful complexion like molten gold, a shimmering golden effulgence, and an enchanting pearl on her nose. A gentle smile decorates her lips. She wears blue garments and is decorated with pearls and flowers. Her right hand is raised in blessing the devotees, and on her left hand she holds her yellow parrot, Daksa. Caring for a Tulasi in Her plant form might make you think that She is dependent on you, to provide Her with water, sun, etc. but actually you should always remember that She came to you out of Her indefinite mercy to let you to render some seva.


Another thing is attending festivals at Audarya Dhama. It covers observing festivals/rendering service/associating with advanced devotees/etc sections and needless to say very important and recharging my devotional batteries every time I go there. I would like to thank residents for making it possible and tolerating our disruptive invasions. And for everybody who never came -- shame on you!

Babhru Das - June 26, 2006 10:31 pm

I was also going to write about Tulasi seva. When I moved into the Honolulu temple just before Gaura-purnima in 1970, I had been spending time with the devotees for a couple of months, and had been chanting and sort of hanging around the devotees since the spring of '69. Just after I moved in, Govinda dasi planted the first Tulasi seeds anywhere in ISKCON that actually grew, and as soon as they had their first set of real leaves, she and Goursundar put me in charge of taking care of Tulasi. That was probably because I had some experience growing other "sacred" plants after I got out of the Navy. Somehow, in ways I was unable to understand, spending several hours each day taking care of Tulasi-devi, along with several hours of street sankirtan (which is now referred to as harinama sankirtan), very quickly brought out an attachment for Mahaprabhu's movement. The lady I married a few years later was a very successful book distributor and pujari, but she was also in charge of taking care of Tulasi-devi at the San Diego ISKCON center. And those Tulasis were bigger and stronger than anywhere else in ISKCON, as far as I knew, except for in Hawaii. (Many years later, my older daughter was given charge of Tulasi in San Diego by Badrinarayan, himself an early Tulasi sevait.)


When Srila Prabhupada finally gave me initiation, he wrote that my service to Tulasi was a sign that I was "surely" a "great devotee" and assured me that I would make rapid progress in my spiritual life by Tulasidevi's grace. Even when things got weird for me in ISKCON, I was never able to slacken in my chanting and following the pirnciples. It was always hard for me to live somewhere Tulasi didn't thrive. And I still feel that Tualis-devi's grace is an important element of my spiritual life. Recently I had a conversation with a lady here who mentioned something about "culling" Tulasi. I shuddered and responded, "You mean killing. We cull kale and bush beans, but we serve Tulasi."


I'd also like to mention festivals. When we lived here on the Big Island in the mid-70s, we had festivals at our home for Gaura-purnima, Janmastami/Vyasa-puja, and Govardhan-puja. Immersing ourselves in making those festivals happen, hosting so many devotees and guests (we usually had 60-80 folks come to the festivals at our funky little house) was so enlivening.


And visiting the Dham? I only visited Mayapur once (1980), Puri once ('80), and Vrindavan twice (for a couple of weeks in '80, and for Karttik in '82). But those few visits left such an impression on my heart that I cannot but remember them when I chant or read about Krishna or Mahaprabhu. Recently my wife brought up the possiblity of visiting the dhams over her Christmas break (she has never been to India), and my heart raced at the thought. (I have other motives as well for taking her to the dhams.) And I look forward to visiting Audarya some time soon. (Yes, Nanda Tanuja--I feel the shame.) Srila Prabhupada told us at the farm we used to have here that wherever there are cows, crops, and Krishna, that is Vrindavan.


Tulasi-seva ki jaya! Vaishnava-seva ki jaya! Go-seva ki jaya!

Babhru Das - June 27, 2006 7:10 pm

No one else? Really? C'mon--why not share your experiences in service. We're family here, so it should be okay.

Shyam Gopal Das - June 29, 2006 5:16 pm

When I get back from Finland, my godbrothers/sisters and me will surely be able to add more to this discussion. :)

Babhru Das - June 29, 2006 6:50 pm

Yes, please do! In the meantime, any reflections on the benefits of hosting previous festivals would, no doubt, enliven the rest of us.

Babhru Das - July 4, 2006 6:37 am

This assignment will remain open, as always, but I'm going to go ahead and post the next assignment so we can keep moving. After the Finnish retreat, we can look forward (I hope!) to some nectar from those fortunate enough to participate.