64 REGULATIVE PRINCIPLES FOR VAISHNAVAS FROM HARI BHAKTA VILASA!
Srila Rupa Gosvami states that his elder brother (Sanatana Gosvami) has given 64 Regulative Principles for vaishnavas in Hari Bhakta Vilasa.
He mentions the basic principles as follows:
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These ten items are preliminary necessities for beginning the discharge of devotional service in regulative principles. In the beginning, if a neophyte devotee observes the above-mentioned ten principles, surely he will quickly make good advancement in Krsna consciousness.
(1) accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master,
(2) becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him,
(3) obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion,
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(4) following in the footsteps of great acaryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master,
(5) inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Krsna consciousness,
(6) being prepared to give up anything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna (this means that when we are engaged in the devotional service of Krsna, we must be prepared to give up something which we may not like to give up, and also we have to accept something which we may not like to accept),
(7) residing in a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dvaraka or Vrndavana,
(8) accepting only what is necessary, or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary,
(9) observing the fasting day on Ekadasi and
(10) worshiping sacred trees like the banyan tree.
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THE NEXT SET OF INSTRUCTIONS
(1) One should rigidly give up the company of non-devotees.
(2) One should not instruct a person who is not desirous of accepting devotional service.
(3) One should not be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples or monasteries.
(4) One should not try to read too many books, nor should one develop the idea of earning his livelihood by lecturing on or professionally reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita.
(5) One should not be neglectful in ordinary dealings.
(6) One should not be under the spell of lamentation in loss or jubilation in gain.
(7) One should not disrespect the demigods.
(8) One should not give unnecessary trouble to any living entity.
(9) One should carefully avoid the various offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the Deity in the temple.
(10) One should be very intolerant toward the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, or His devotees.
Without following the above-mentioned ten principles, one cannot properly elevate himself to the platform of sadhana-bhakti, or devotional service in practice.
Altogether, Srila Rupa Gosvami mentions twenty items, and all of them are very important. Out of the twenty, the first three–namely accepting the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, taking initiation from him and serving him with respect and reverence–are the most important.
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THE NEXT IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES
(1) One should decorate the body with tilaka, which is the sign of the Vaisnavas.
(2) In marking such tilaka, sometimes one may write Hare Krsna on the body.
(3) One should accept flowers and garlands that have been offered to the Deity and the spiritual master and put them on one’s body.
(4) One should learn to dance before the Deity.
(5) One should learn to bow down immediately upon seeing the Deity or the spiritual master.
(6) As soon as one visits a temple of Lord Krsna, one must stand up.
(7) When the Deity is being borne for a stroll in the street, a devotee should immediately follow the procession.
(8) A devotee must visit a Visnu temple at least once or twice every day, morning and evening.
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(9) One must circumambulate the temple building at least three times.
(10) One must worship the Deity in the temple according to the regulative principles. (Offering arati and prasada, decorating the Deity, etc.–these things must be observed regularly.)
(11) One must render personal service to the Deities.
(12) One must sing.
(13) One must perform sankirtana.
(14) One must chant.
(15) One must offer prayers.
(16) One must recite notable prayers.
(17) One must taste maha-prasada (food from the very plate offered before the Deities).
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(18) One must drink caranamrta (water from the bathing of the Deities, which is offered to guests).
(19) One must smell the incense and flowers offered to the Deity.
(20) One must touch the lotus feet of the Deity.
(21) One must see the Deity with great devotion.
(22) One must offer arati (aratrika) at different times.
(23) One must hear about the Lord and His pastimes from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and similar books.
(24) One must pray to the Deity for His mercy.
(25) One should remember the Deity.
(26) One should meditate upon the Deity.
(27) One should render some voluntary service.
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(28) One should think of the Lord as one’s friend.
(29) One should offer everything to the Lord.
(30) One should offer a favorite article (such as food or a garment).
(31) One should take all kinds of risks and perform all endeavors for Krsna’s benefit.
(32) In every condition, one should be a surrendered soul.
(33) One should pour water on the tulasi tree.
(34) One should regularly hear Srimad-Bhagavatam and similar literature.
(35) One should live in a sacred place like Mathura, Vrndavana or Dvaraka.
(36) One should offer service to Vaisnavas (devotees).
(37) One should arrange one’s devotional service according to one’s means.
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(38) In the month of Karttika (October and November), one should make arrangements for special services.
(39) During Janmastami (the time of Krsna’s appearance in this world) one should observe a special service.
(40) One should do whatever is done with great care and devotion for the Deity.
(41) One should relish the pleasure of Bhagavatam reading among devotees and not among outsiders.
(42) One should associate with devotees who are considered more advanced.
(43) One should chant the holy name of the Lord.
(44) One should live in the jurisdiction of Mathura.
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Out of these 64 Regulative Principles for vaishnavas in Hari Bhakta Vilasa, five items–namely worshiping the Deity, hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, associating among the devotees, sankirtana, and living in Mathura–are very important.
(MY NOTE: If living in Mathura is not possible, make visits to Mathura whenever possible. And, the working devotees or some exceptional case of devotees may follow as much regulative principles as possible from these 64 Regulative Principles for vaishnavas, if you find it difficult to follow everything. If possible, follow all the sixty four.)
The 64 Regulative Principles for vaishnavas in Hari Bhakta Vilasa should include all of our activities of body, mind and speech (that enjoins that all of our senses must be employed in the service of the Lord).
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