There is no question of an auspicious or inauspicious time for chanting the holy names. The holy names are invested with all potencies as described in the Siksastaka (2):
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah (1)
My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as Krsna and Govinda, by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard and fast rules for remembering them. My dear Lord, although You bestow such mercy upon the fallen, conditioned souls by liberally teaching Your holy names, I am so unfortunate that I commit offenses while chanting the holy name, and therefore I do not achieve attachment for chanting. Because people vary in their desires, You have mercifully distributed various holy names. Regardless of time or place, one who chants the holy name, even while eating or sleeping, attains all perfection. You have invested Your full potencies in each individual holy name, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attachment for chanting Your holy names.
The following prayer for attaining attachment for the holy name is given in the Namastaka (5):
kamalanayana gopicandra vrndavanendrah
pranata-karuna-krsnav ity aneka-svarupe
tvayi mama ratir-uccair-vardhatam namadheya (2)
O killer of the demon Agha! O son of Yasoda! O son of Nanda! O lotus-eyed one! O moon of the gopis! O lord of Vrndavana! O merciful to the submissive! O Krsna! You have mercifully manifested in various forms. May my attachment for You be greatly increased.
Krsna has invested full potencies in His holy names. According to Skanda Purana:
dana-vrata-tapas-tirtha-yatradinam ca yah sthitah
saktayo devamahatam sarva-papa-harah subhah
akrsya harina sarvah sthapitah svesu namasu (3)
Whatever potency to award auspiciousness and destroy sin may be found in the performance of charity, penances, austerities, visiting holy tirthas, worshiping demigods, performing Rajasuya or Asvamedha sacrifices, or the attainment of knowledge related to the soul, that potency has been invested in the holy name of Sri Hari.
The Vaisvanara Samhita confirms that there are no hard and fast rules regarding time or purity while chanting the holy names:
na desa-kala-niyamo na saucasauca-nirnayah
param sankirtanad eva rama rameti mucyate (4)
There is no restriction regarding place or time, nor is there consideration of purity or impurity; simply by the performance of sankirtana chanting Rama Rama, or the Hare Krsna mantra one can achieve the highest liberation.
The symptoms of misfortune are described in the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.9.7) as follows:
daivena te hata-dhiyo bhavatah prasangat
sarvasubhopasamanad vimukhendriya ye
kurvanti kama-sukha-lesa-lavaya dina
lobhabhibhuta-manaso 'kusalani sasvat (5)
O my Lord, persons who are bereft of the all-auspicious performance of chanting and hearing about Your transcendental activities are certainly unfortunate and are also bereft of good sense. They engage in inauspicious activities, enjoying sense gratification for a very little while. Being distressed because of their inability to get even a bit of happiness from sense gratification, and overwhelmed by greed, they engage in inauspicious activities. Such people make no effort to engage in chanting and hearing Your glories.
The Srimad Bhagavatam (1.7.4-6) further says:
bhakti-yogena manasi samyak pranihite 'male
apasyat purusam purnam mayam ca tad-apasrayam
yaya sammohito jiva atmanam tri-gunatmakam
paro 'pi manute 'nartham tat-krtam cabhipadyate
anarthopasamam saksad bhakti-yogam adhoksaje (6)
Thus he fixed his mind, perfectly engaging it by linking it in devotional service (bhakti-yoga) without any tinge of materialism, and thus he saw the Absolute Personality of Godhead along with His external energy, which was under His full control. Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries. The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. Krsna, the potency of Krsna, and the living entity, together constitute the Absolute Truth. Illusioned by maya, the living entity is bound by her. This is known as anartha. When the minute conscious living entity performs bhakti-yoga, all anarthas are destroyed and he attains krsna-prema. This truth has been realized by Vyasadeva by his full absorption in the Lord's name etc. He thereafter revealed the process of bhakti-yoga in the Srimad Bhagavatam.
In the …mnaya-sutra, four types of misfortune or anarthas are described:
mayamugdhasya jivasya jneyo 'narthas catur vidhah
hrddaurbbalyam caparadho 'sat-trsna tattva-vibhramah (7)
The living entity attracted by maya is attributed with four types of anarthas: hrdaya-daurbalya (weakness of the heart), aparadha (all kinds of offenses), asat-trsna (material desires), and tattva-vibhrama (illusion about spiritual knowledge). These anarthas lead to material bondage, which leads to miseries.
Illusion about spiritual knowledge is of four types:
sva-tattve para-tattve ca sadhya-sadhana-tattvayoh
virodhi-visaye caiva tattva-bhramas catur-vidhah (8)
Sva-tattva bhrama (illusion about one's own identity), paratattva-bhrama (illusion about the Supreme Personality of Godhead), sadhya-sadhana-bhrama (illusion about the processes of sadhana andprema-bhakti), and virodhi-visaya-bhrama (illusion regarding subjectsunfavorable to Krsna consciousness) are the four kinds of illusion found inconditioned souls.
Material desires are of four types:
aihikesvaisana para- trikesu caisana 'subha
bhuti-vancha mumuksa ca hy asat-trsnas catur-vidhah (9)
Desire for material objects, desire for heavenly comforts, desire for mystic powers, and desire for liberation are the four types of material desires.
Offenses are of four types:
krsna-nama-svarupesu tadiya-cit-kanesu ca
jneya budha-ganair nityam aparadhas catur-vidhah (10)
Offenses towards the name, offenses toward the form of the Lord, offenses towards the devotees, and offenses towards other living entities are the four kinds of offenses.
Weakness of the heart is of four types:
tucchasaktih kutinati mat saryam sva-pratisthata
hrd-daurbalyam budhaih sasvaj jneyam kila catur-vidham (11)
Intelligent persons know the four kinds of weakness of the heart as follows: attachment to objects not related to Krsna, deceitfulness or fault-finding, enviousness, and desire for fame.
These anarthas give birth to six enemies kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, and matsarya that is, lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride, and envy. These anarthas also beget six waves soka, moha, ksut, pipasa, jara, and mrtyu that is, distress, illusion, hunger, thirst, old age, and death. The creeper of devotion can never grow as long as one cannot give up these anarthas. All anarthas, however, go far away by the performance of nama-sankirtana. As stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam (1.1.14):
apannah samsrtim ghoram yan-nama vivaso grnan
tatah sadyo vimucyeta yad bibheti svayam bhayam (12)
Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krsna, which is feared by fear personified.
The Srimad Bhagavatam (11.2.37) further states:
bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syad isad apetasya viparyayo
tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam bhaktyaikayesam guru-devatatma (13)
When the living entity is attracted by the material energy, which is separate from Krsna, he is overpowered by fear. Because he is separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the material energy, his conception of life is reversed. In other words, instead of being the eternal servant of Krsna, he becomes Krsna's competitor. This is called viparyayah asmrtih.
To nullify this mistake, one who is actually learned and advanced worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead as his spiritual master, worshipful Deity, and source of life. He thus worships the Lord by the process of unalloyed devotional service. One who desires to achieve Krsna's mercy should take shelter of a bona fide guru. When he engages in undivided devotional service under the guru's direction, he ultimately attains Krsna.
The characteristics of bhakti-yoga are described in the Srimad Bhagavatam (1.2.12 and 1.2.7) as follows:
tac chraddadhana munayo jnana-vairagya-yuktaya
pasyanty atmani catmanam bhaktya sruta-grhitaya
vasudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogah prayojitah
janayaty asu vairagyam jnanam ca yad ahaitukam (14)
The seriously inquisitive student or sage, well equipped with knowledge and detachment, realizes the Absolute Truth by rendering devotional service in terms of what he has heard from the Vedanta-sruti. By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world. After receiving the mercy of the sadhu, as one chants the holy name with faith, he becomes averse to material conceptions and realizes his eternal constitutional position. This is known as the highest platform of bhakti-yoga. As one gradually advances through the different stages of bhakti, one achieves this stage of perfection.
The circumstances favorable for bhakti are described in the Srimad Bhagavatam (2.9.36):
etavad eva jijnasyam tattva-jijnasunatmanah
anvaya-vyatirekabhyam yat syat sarvatra sarvada (15)
A person who is searching after the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, must certainly search for it up to this, in all circumstances, in all space and time, and both directly and indirectly. There are two ways for becoming free of anarthas directly, by following the rules, and indirectly, by following the restrictions.
The means of getting freed from the three anarthas material desires, weakness of the heart, and offenses are described beginning with the following verses from the Upadesamrta. The six urges which are unfavorable in bhakti are listed in the first verse:
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam jihva-vegam udaropastha-vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat (16)
A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind's demands, the actions of anger, and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.
The above mentioned urges disrupt one's bhajana. Therefore, one must make repeated efforts to control these urges. After controlling these urges one should worship Radha-Krsna in a secluded place.
The six obstacles to advancement in bhakti are given in the second verse:
atyaharah prayasas ca prajalpo niyamagrahah
jana-sangas ca laulyam ca sadbhir bhaktir vinasyati (17)
One's devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required, (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain, (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters, (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically, (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Krsna consciousness, and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.
The six kinds of association which nourish bhakti are described in the fourth verse:
dadati pratigrhnati guhyam akhyati prcchati
bhunkte bhojayate caiva sad-vidham priti-laksanam (18)
Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one's mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting food, and offering food are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another. These six kinds of association, when exchanged between devotees, increase one's devotion. But, if this association is shared with nondevotees, one's devotion diminishes.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has prohibited one from even seeing a materialistic sense enjoyer or a woman with the mood of enjoyment in the following words from Sri Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka:
param param jigamisor bhava-sagarasya
sandarsanam visayinam atha yositam ca
ha hanta hanta visa-bhaksanato 'py asadhu (19)
Alas, for a person who is seriously desiring to cross the material ocean and engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord without material motives, seeing a materialist engaged in sense gratification or seeing a woman who is similarly interested is more abominable than willingly drinking poison. Offending sadhus is prohibited. It is offensive to see a Vaisnava according to material conceptions. In the Upadesamrta (6) it is said:
drstaih svabhava-janitair vapusas ca dosair
na prakrtatvam iha bhakta-janasya pasyet
gangambhasam na khalu budbuda-phena-pankair
brahma-dravatvam apagacchati nira-dharmaih (20)
Being situated in his original Krsna conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee's having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam, and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water. The devotees situated in transcendence do not commit sinful activities. Even if some sins remain within the devotee, they will soon vanish.
According to the Manah-siksa (7), one should give up one's mischievous mentality in the form of desire for fame and deceitful fault-finding:
pratisthasa dhrsta svapacaramani me hrdi natet
katham sadhu-prema sprsati sucir-etan-nanu manah
sada tvam sevasva prabhu-dayita-samanta-matulam
yatha tam niskasya tvaritam iha tam vesayati sah (21)
O mind, a shameless, low-born prostitute who eats dog meat is flagrantly dancing in my heart in the form of desire for fame. How then can pure love of Krsna ever find a place in my heart? Just serve the devotees of Krsna, who are His dear unparalleled commanders, so they can drive out this prostitute and enthrone pure love within my heart.
The Manah-siksa (6) further says:
areh cetah prodyat kapata kutinati bhara-khara-
ksaran-mutre snatva dahasi katham atmanam api mam
sada tvam gandharva giridhara-pada-prema-vilasat
sudhambhodhau snatva svam api nitarat manca sukhaya (22)
O mind, why are you scorching us both by bathing in the prominent defects of deceit and fault-finding? These arise out of duality and are like the oozing urine of a donkey. You should always bathe in the nectarine ocean of prema-bhakti arising from the lotus feet of of Sri Sri Gandarvika Giridhari, and thus give us both endless pleasure.
One should endeavor to give up duplicity and the desire for fame. Only then can one get strong attachment for chanting the holy name. The ten offenses in chanting the holy name must be given up. They are described in the Padma Purana, Svarga-khanda:
satam ninda namnah paramam aparadham vitanute
yatah khyatim yatam katham u sahate tad-vigarham
To blaspheme the great saintly persons who are engaged in preaching the glories of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is the worst offense at the lotus feet of the holy name. One should not criticize a preacher of the glories of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. If one does so, he is an offender. The Nama-prabhu, who is identical with Krsna, will never tolerate such blasphemous activities, even from one who passes as a great devotee.
The second namaparadha is described as follows:
sivasya sri-visnor ya iha guna-namadi-sakalam
dhiya bhinnam pasyet sa khalu hari-namahita-karah
In this material world, the holy name of Visnu is all-auspicious. Visnu's name, form, qualities, and pastimes are all transcendental absolute knowledge. Therefore, if one tries to separate the Absolute Personality of Godhead from His holy name or His transcendental form, qualities, and pastimes, thinking them to be material, that is offensive. Similarly, to think the names of demigods such as Lord Siva to be as good as the name of Lord Visnu or, in other words, to think Lord Siva and the other demigods to be other forms of God and therefore equal to Visnu is also blasphemous. This is the second offense at the lotus feet of the Lord.
guror avajna sruti-sastra-nindanam tathartha-vadah hari-namni kalpanam
The third offense at the lotus feet of the holy name is to consider the spiritual master to be material and therefore envy his exalted position.
The fourth offense is to blaspheme Vedic literatures, such as the four Vedas and the Puranas. The fifth offense is to consider the glories of the holy name to be exaggerations. Similarly, the sixth offense is to considerthe holy name of the Lord to be imaginary.
The seventh offense is described as follows:
namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhir na vidyate tasya yamair hi suddhih
To think that since the Hare Krsna mantra can counteract all sinful reactions one may therefore go on with his sinful activities and at the same time chant the Hare Krsna mantra to neutralize them is the greatest offense at the lotus feet of hari-nama.
The eighth offense is stated thus:
dharma-vrata-tyaga-hutadi-sarva- subha-kriya-samyam api pramadah.
It is offensive to consider chanting the Hare Krsna mantra to be a religious ritualistic ceremony. Performing religious ceremonies, following vows, practicing renunciation and sacrifice are all materialistic auspicious activities. The chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra must not be compared to such materialistic religiosity. This is an offense at the lotus feet of the Lord.
The ninth offense is described as follows:
asraddadhane vimukhe 'py asrnvati yas copadesah siva-namaparadhah
It is an offense to preach the glories of the holy name among persons who have no faith in the subject matter. Such people should be given the chance to hear the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, but in the beginning they should not be instructed about the glories of the holy name. By constant hearing of the holy name, their hearts will be purified, and then they will be able to understand the transcendental glories of the holy name.
The tenth offense is as follows:
srute 'pi nama-mahatmye yah priti-rahito narah
aham-mamadi-paramo namni so 'py aparadha-krt (23)
If one has heard the glories of the transcendental holy name of the Lord but nevertheless continues in a materialistic concept of life, thinking, I am this body and everything belonging to this body is mine (aham mameti), and does not show respect and love for the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, that is an offense. O brother, sincerely try to give up these offenses and chant the holy name with intelligence.
One is prohibited from false renunciation. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu it is stated:
prapancikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate (24)
When persons eager to achieve liberation renounce things related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, thinking them to be material, their renunciation is called phalgu, or incomplete.
One who has attained the qualification for chanting the holy name gives up all fruitive activities. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.41) it is said:
devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pit½nam na kinkaro nayam
rni ca rajan
sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam gato mukundam parihrtya kartam (25)
One who has given up all material duties and taken full shelter at the lotus feet of Mukunda, who gives shelter to all, is not indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind, or even one's departed forefathers.
According to the Padma Purana, one should give up niyamagrahah and yet follow the essence of niyama.
smartavyah satatam visnur vismartavyo na jatucit
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah (26)
Visnu, or Krsna, should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the sastras should be servants to these two principles.
One should refrain from atonement in relation to karma and jnana. The Padma Purana gives the following statement:
harer apy aparadhan yah kuryad dvi-pada-pam salah
namasrayah kadacit syat taraty eva sa namatah
namno 'pi sarva-suhrdo hy aparadhat pataty adhah
namaparadha-yuktanam namany eva haranty-agham
avisranta prayuktani tany evarthakarani ca (27)
The lowest of human beings who commit offenses at the lotus feet of Sri Hari will certainly cross the material ocean if they somehow take shelter of the holy name. However, those who commit offenses against the holy name, the well-wisher of all, certainly fall down. They are freed from their offense only by continually chanting the holy name. Indeed, one can attain all types of perfection by continuous chanting.
One should try to achieve knowledge of both Krsna and oneself. One first attains knowledge of Krsna's form, then attributes, and then pastimes as stated in Catuh-sloki Bhagavatam begining with (2.9.33):
aham evasam evagre nanyad yat sad-asat param
pascad aham yad etac ca yo 'vasisyeta so 'smy aham (28)
Brahma, it is I, the Personality of Godhead, who existed before the creation, when there was nothing but Myself. Nor was there the material nature, the cause of this creation. That which you see now is also I, the Personality of Godhead, and after annihilation what remains will also be I, the Personality of Godhead.
The personification of transcendental truth, Sri Krsna, is eternal and ever-existing. All other manifestations, spiritual and material, are the result of His various potencies. Lord Krsna, who is like the transcendental sun, remains as the eternal truth after the universal destruction. This is the basis of the philosophy of acintya bhedabheda tattva.
Knowledge of the form of maya-sakti and jiva-sakti is found in the Srimad Bhagavatam (2.9.34):
rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta na pratiyeta catmani
tad vidyad atmano mayam yathabhaso yatha tamah (29)
O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy, that reflection which appears to be in darkness.
The energy of Krsna known as maya-sakti is simultaneously one with and different from Krsna. Maya-sakti arises from, but is different from, the internal energy (cit-sakti). Maya-sakti, the shadow of the internal energy, acts through the three modes of nature, which are the cause of this material world. In the material world the ignorant living entities are bound by temporary activities.
Even though the spirit soul and this material world are simultaneously one with and different from Krsna, still, Krsna in His eternal form exists separately. The Srimad Bhagavatam (2.9.35) states:
yatha mahanti bhutani bhutesuccavacesv anu
pravistany apravistani tatha tesu na tesv aham (30)
O Brahma, please know that the universal elements enter into the cosmos and at the same time do not enter into the cosmos; similarly, I Myself also exist within everything created, and at the same time I am outside of everything.
Knowledge of the form of Krsna's name is given in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu:
nama cintamanih krsnas caitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah suddho nitya-mukto 'bhinnatvan nama-naminoh (31)
The holy name of Krsna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krsna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krsna's name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krsna Himself. Since Krsna's name is not contaminated by the material qualities, and there is no question of its being involved with maya, Krsna's name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are identical.
The Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu further says:
atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah (32)
Because Krsna's form, qualities pastimes, etc. are all on the absolute platform, material senses cannot therefore appreciate them. When a conditioned soul is awakened to Krsna consciousness and renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord's holy name and taste the remnants of the Lord's food, the tongue is purified and one gradually comes to understand who Krsna really is.
According to the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.21.2), one should practice chanting the holy name according to his qualification.
sve sve 'dhikare ya nistha sa gunah parikirtitah
viparyayas tu dosah syad ubhayor esa niscayah (33)
Steadiness in one's own position is declared to be actual piety, whereas deviation from one's position is considered impiety. In this way the two are definitely ascertained.
Qualifications for chanting the holy name are given in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.20.27/8):
jata-sraddho mat-kathasu nirvinnah sarva-karmasu
veda duhkhatmakan kaman parityage 'py anisvarah
tato bhajeta mam pritah sraddhalur drdha-niscayah
jusamanas ca tan kaman duhkhodarkams ca garhayan (34)
Having awakened faith in the narrations of My glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, My devotee remains happy and worships Me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, My devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities.
One should try to attain the six qualities favorable for performing bhajana. These qualities are given in the Upadesamrta (3):
utsahan niscayad dhairyat tat-tat-karma-pravartanat
sanga-tyagat sato vrtteh sadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati (35)
There are six principles favorable to the execution of
pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence,
(3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles (such
as sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam hearing, chanting, and remembering
Krsna), (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following
in the footsteps of the previous acaryas.
These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.
One must strive to achieve the association of pure devotees. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.25.25) it is said:
satam prasangan mama virya-samvido bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati (36)
In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. He then gradually attains sraddha (attachment), rati (bhava), and bhakti (prema-bhakti).
How to associate with devotees is mentioned in the Upadesamrta (5):
krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
diksasti cet pranatibhis ca bhajantam isam
susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-
nindadi-sunya-hrdam ipsita-sanga-labdhya (37)
One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation (diksa) and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others. Such a pure devotee sees everyone as the eternal servant of Krsna.
One should pass his life in the mood of yukta-vairagya and chant the holy name. As stated in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu:
anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate (38)
When one is not attached to anything, but at the same time accepts everything in relation to Krsna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness.
The Srimad Bhagavatam (7.11.32) further says:
vrttya sva-bhava-krtaya vartamanah sva-karma-krt
hitva sva-bhava-jam karma sanair nirgunatam iyat (39)
If one acts in his profession according to his position in the modes of nature and gradually gives up these activities, he attains the niskama stage.
One should live free from sin and take shelter of the holy name. This art of living is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.7.39):
prana-vrttyaiva santusyen munir naivendriya-priyaih
jnanam yatha na nasyeta navakiryeta van-manah (40)
A learned sage should take his satisfaction in the simple
maintenance of his existence and should not seek satisfaction through gratifying
the material senses.
In other words, one should care for the material body in such a way that one's higher knowledge is not destroyed and so that one's speech and mind are not deviated from self-realization. One should live in such a way that he can avoid useless activities. In this way one should give up the propensity for material sense enjoyment. One should nourish himself in such a way that the tongue and mind do not deviate from yukta-vairagya.
One should be especially careful regarding his association. The Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (2.13) gives the following reason:
yasya yat sangatih pumso manivat syat sa tad gunah
svakularddhyai tato dhiman svayuthany eva samsrayet (41)
As the qualities of a nearby object are reflected in a crystal, one similarly takes on the qualities of a person with whom he associates. Therefore, a wise person should take shelter of those sadhus who are more advanced, affectionate, and have the same temperament.
One should carefully follow the path of the mahajanas as described in the Skanda Purana:
sa mrgyah sreyasam hetuh panthah santapavarjitah
anavapta-sramam purve yena santah pratasthire (42)
One should strictly follow the easy path which the previous mahajanas have accepted. That path bestows great auspiciousness and is devoid of all misery.
The path given in the Vedas is the real path of bhakti. As stated in the Brahma-yamala:
sruti-smrti-puranadi pancaratra-vidhim vina
aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpyate (43)
Devotional service to the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanisads, Puranas, Narada-pancaratra, etc., is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society. One can easily progress by accepting the path given by the mahajanas. One who acts according to his own ideas will meet with disturbance and ruin. If one makes no effort to become free from anarthas he will meet with misfortune, being unable to receive the mercy of the holy name. Without receiving the mercy of the name, one will be unable to remove his anarthas despite repeated attempts. But, if one cries sincerely at the lotus feet of the name, then within a few days all anarthas will vanish. After giving up anarthas, one should fully engage in hearing and chanting, taking complete shelter of the holy name.
The endeavors of one performing resolute bhajana are described in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa:
evam ekantinam prayah kirtanam smaranam prabhoh
kurvatah parama-pritya krtyamanyan na rocyate
bhavena kenacit prestha sri-murter anghri sevane
syadicchaisam sva-mantrena sva-rasenaiva tad vidhih
vihitesv eva nityesu pravartante svayam hi te
sarva-tyagepy aheyayah sarvanartha-bhuvas ca te
kuryuh pratistha-visthayah yatnam asparsane varam
prabhate cardharate ca madhyahne divasaksaye
kirtayanti harim ye vai na tesam anya-sadhanam (44)
The devotees whose minds are fixed on hearing and chanting Krsna's glories in pure love have no taste for other activities. Serving their beloved Deities with their diksa mantras stimulates their taste for svarasiki bhajana (worship according to their particular rasa). The activities of such a raganuga bhakta arise out of spontaneous devotion for Krsna. Still, his activities are never contrary to sastric injunctions. Even if one can give up all material desires, the desire for fame is very difficult to give up. This desire for fame, which is compared to stool, is the root cause of all anarthas. Therefore, one should carefully avoid touching this stool in the form of desire for fame. In the early morning, at dawn, midday, and midnight, one who gives up his anarthas and engages in hearing and chanting, easily obtains the mercy of Lord Krsna. Those who chant the holy name with full faith in the association of devotees are freed from anarthas and reach the stage of nistha.
Remember Krsna's eternal pastimes in the morning, and gradually you will attain bhava. In the Govinda-lilamrta it is said:
radham snata-vibhusitam vrajapayahutam sakhibhih prage
tad-gehe vihitanna-paka-racanam krsnavasesanam
krsnam buddham avapta-dhenu-sadanam nirvyudha-go-dohanam
susnatam krta-bhojanam saha-caraistam catha tam casrye (45)
I take shelter of Srimati Radharani. After finishing Her ablutions and ornamenting Her body, Radharani is called early in the morning by Mother Yasoda. Radha, along with Her girl friends, then goes to the house of Mother Yasoda and prepares varieties of delicious foodstuffs which are offered to Krsna. Radharani then takes Krsna's remnants. During this time Radha occasionally gets the chance to meet Krsna. I also take shelter of Krsna. After awakening from His bed early in the morning, Krsna first goes to the cowshed to milk the cows. Following His daily routine, Krsna then returns home, and after taking bath, He takes His meals in the company of His cowherd friends.
Remember this pastime in the morning, and overwhelmed with love, chant the holy name in the association of devotees. Then within a short time, bhava (transcendental emotions) will be awakened.
Thus ends the Dvitiya-yama Sadhana of the Sri Bhajana-rahasya.