(The obligatory rules for day to day living)

Lord Caitanya has given the instruction that the sum and substance of life is to worship Sri Krsna in pure devotion. In order that we accomplish this, he has recommended constant engagement in the Lord's service according to prescribed rules. In the scriptures, there are many rules for daily life (nitya kriyas), but the acharya have selected those rules which are favorable for the development of pure devotion to the lotus feet of Radha Krsna. By following these rules the devotee may achieve the goal of life, Krsna prema. These activities are described in sequence from rising in the morning to taking rest at night. Following this the distinctive daily activities of the four ashramas are described. What is described here is strictly in accordance with scripture. Most of the material is derived from Hari Bhakti VilAsa, written by Srila Sanatana Goswami and Gopala Bhatta Goswami, which is accepted by the followers of Lord Caitanya as the authorized Vaisnava Smrti, (text regarding all types of Vaisnava behavior). Hari Bhakti VilAsa is not an independent work, but is rather based upon commonly accepted scriptures: the smrti shastras such as the works of Yajnavalkya, Manu and Harita; the puranas such as Bhavisya, Siva, Skanda, Vishnu, Bhagavat Puranas; and the pancaratrika texts such as Hayasirsa and Narada Pancharatra. The text of Hari Bhakti VilAsa is in fact mostly quotations from these works. The rules have by and large been presented here just as they are written in the Hari Bhakti VilAsa, with minimum of deletions, for several reasons.

Firstly, it is not the privilege of a fallible mortal (speaking of myself) to decide the fate of scriptural instructions written by the great sages.

Secondly, when the rules are stated in their entirety, they give sufficient background for the individual to understand the purpose of the rules.

Thirdly, by reading the rules one can begin to understand the great regard given to physical cleanliness and mental purity by the Aryan civilization since time immemorial, and one can begin to admire their sensitivity to the effects of time and place on the body.

Fourthly, though the rules may appear cumbersome on first encounter, it is hoped that the scriptural rules will, through familiarity, be as natural to the people of the future as their neglect is at present.

Fifthly, what may seem anachronistic today may not be in the future. Thus the scriptural rules for the daily activities, especially those concerning the care of the body, may seem superfluous and impractical in the modern age, but one should not, however, underestimate the wisdom of scriptural injunctions, as impractical or contradictory as they may seem. The injunctions are not whimsical decisions simply for the purpose of taxing the mind and body, but have particular physical, mental and spiritual purposes behind them. One may view the unfamiliar rules as the details of the basic and necessary rules. Once having mastered the basics one can proceed to the details. Some of rules are definitely impractical at present, since the rules were meant for a society which, though somewhat urbanized, was still intimately in contact with the natural elements. Since the majority of people at present live in cities far removed from a natural setting, one has no choice but to ignore those rules at present. Most important, one should realize priorities. The main principle of the Gaudiya Vaisnava is surrender to Krsna by chanting the Holy Name. All those rules which favor that end physically, mentally and spiritually, should be implemented. Anything which obstructs that end should be discarded. The vedic ritualistic ceremonies and injunctions are not to be discounted; they are means of being promoted to the spiritual platform. But if one does not come to the spiritual platform, the Vedic ceremonies are simply a waste of time. SB7.6.26.

One must be careful, however, in the process of rejection, not to reject or minimize the importance of rules, including those which are essential for the development of bhakti:...

We have to be very cautious in executing our spiritual duties by observing the rules and regulations and regularly chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra. If we neglect doing this, we will eventually fall down. We must rise early in the morning, bathe, attend mangala arati, worship the Deities, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, study the Vedic literatures and follow all the rules prescribed by the acharyas and the spiritual master. If we deviate from this process, we may fall down, even though we may be very highly advanced. SB.5.8.8.

Therefore no one should think of himself as a liberated person immune to the influence of maya. Everyone should very cautiously execute devotional service by rigidly following regulative principles. Thus he will remain fixed at the lotus feet of the Lord. Otherwise a little inattention will create havoc. SB. 5.18.4........santusto'har ahah kuryannitya naimittikih kriyah  One should happily perform daily sacrifices (nitya kriya) and those for certain occasions (naimittika kriya). SB7.15.11. From the time of rising in the morning to the time of taking rest at night the body and senses are engaged in activity. The nitya kriya are those rules for spiritually cultivating or purifying the senses, so that one may bring them under control and engage them in the Lord's service.

Summary of the Daily Activities:
1. Activities on waking:
a. waking up during the brahma muhurta for physical, mental and spiritual benefit (jagarana). b. immediately chanting the name of Krsna (kirtana) to purify oneself c:. remembrance of guru and Krsna (smarana) by recitation of verses and meditation (dhyana) on Krishna's form, qualities and pastimes. d:. obeisances to the Lord (pranama).

2. Removing Waste Products from the Body.
a.  passing nature (mala mutra tyaga) b:. cleaning oneself after passing nature (saucha) with due regard for public sanitation, personal health and respect.

3. sipping water for purification (acamana)

4. cleaning teeth and mouth (danta dhavana), and tying sikha (sikha bandhana).

5. bathing in cool water (snana) while chanting the Lord's names and meditating on his wonderful form, giving due respect to the water.

6. dressing properly and cleanly as a Vaisnava.

7. applying the tilaka marks of the Vaisnava on the body

8. chanting vedic and vaisnava gayatri.

9. chanting Hare Krsna japa.

10. attending the mangala aratrika of the Lord.

11. glorifying the Lord through kirtana, songs and dancing.

12. performing worship of the spiritual master and the Lord (puja), taking darshana of the Lord, taking his foot nectar (caranamrta), his flowers (nirmalya), performing circumambulation (pradaksina) and obeisances (pranama).

13. worshipping Tulasi.

14. serving the dhama, by remembering, seeing, praising, cleaning.

15. hearing and studying scriptures.

16. respect to vaisnavas.

17. respecting other living entities and reception of guests.

18. eating.

19. occupational duties: during the day a person will performing his duties according to the rules of his ashrama. These duties are described in the separate section on ashrama duties.

20. taking rest

Krsna himself has set the example: Lord Krsna would immediately get up from bed exactly on the appearance of brahma muhurta. After rising from bed, Lord Krsna would wash his mouth, hands and feet and would immediately sit down and meditate on Himself. (This does not mean, however that we should also sit down and meditate on ourselves. We have to meditate upon Krsna, Radha Krsna. That is real meditation.) After his meditation the Lord would regularly bathe early in the morning with clear sanctified water. Then he would change into fresh clothing, cover himself with a wrapper and then engage himself in his daily religious functions. Out of his many religious duties the first was to offer oblations into the sacrificial fire and silently chant the gayatri mantra. Lord Krsna, as the ideal householder, executed all the religious functions of a householder without deviation. When the sunrise became visible the Lord would offer specific prayers to the sun god. The Lord would offer respects to the demigods. The regulative principle by which the demigods and forefathers are worshipped is called tarpana, which means pleasing. One's forefathers might have to take a body on another planet, but by performance of this tarpana system, they become very happy wherever they may be. His next duty was to give cows in charity to the brahmanas. His next duty was to please all kinds of men belonging to the different castes, both in the city and within the palace compound. He made them happy by fulfilling their different desires. Krsna Book.II p.1101.

Rising from Bed:
The time early in the morning, one and a half hours before sunrise, is called brahma muhurta. During this brahma muhurta, spiritual activities are recommended. Spiritual activities performed early in the morning have a greater effect than in any other part of the day. SB3.20.46.  According to Vedic reckoning, time is divided into dandas of 24 minutes. Two dandas make one muhurta, or 48 minutes. The period starting two muhurtas (96 minutes or one hour and 36 minutes) before the sun appears halfway on the horizon is called arunodaya or dawn. The first muhurta of dawn is called brahma muhurta. The period before this time is for sleep, but beginning at the brahma muhurta a civilized man must rise from sleep and begin to carry out his daily duties (nitya kriya). Brahma muhurta is considered the most auspicious part of the day. According to all the scriptures (e.g. the Manu smrti), and as shown by Krsna Himself, one must rise during the brahma muhurta. Failing to do so is a commission of sin, and therefore prayaschitta is prescribed in the traditional texts. Activities during Brahma muhurta: During the brahma muhurta one must at least rise from bed, fix ones mind upon the spiritual master and Krsna, answer the calls of nature, clean the mouth and teeth, bathe the body completely in cool water, dress in fresh cloth in the proper manner, apply Vaisnava tilaka, have darshana of the Lord, and chant the gayatri mantra (sandhya vandana) at the sunrise.

Effects of Brahma Muhurta:
 The body and mind carry out their functions according to the rising and setting of the sun. With the sunrise the functions become active and with sunset they slow down. Cleaning the body of impure items before the daytime functions of the body begin is an efficient aid to maintaining proper health and a strong mind. If one lets the impurities which gather during sleep remain within the body those impurities will simply re-circulate in the body with the beginning of the new day. Well tuned body and senses produce a controlled and determined mind, which is essential for carrying out efficient spiritual practices. Thus the scriptures glorify waking during the brahma muhurta. This is therefore the first point in effective sadhana.

2. Nama Kirtana: Upon waking, one should immediately chant the name of the Lord. This is the general injunction of the scriptures, and it is practiced by all Vaisnavas. As Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya arose from bed, he distinctly chanted, "Krsna, Krsna." Lord Caitanya was very pleased to hear him chant the holy name of Krsna. CC Madhya v.2.p.322. One should chant the mahamantra: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. One should not tarry in bed after waking, but should immediately rise while chanting. By the chanting of the Lord's name, all inauspicious influences from the night's sleep ar dispelled and the pure image of Krsna becomes the first impression fixed on the mind for the day.

Prayer to the Earth:
Realizing that one is in all cases supported by the Lord, one should give respects to the earth, the consort of the Lord, and beg forgiveness for stepping upon her in order to carry out the Lord's service in the coming day. Placing the right foot upon the earth one should say:

samudra vasane devi parvata stana manditevisnu patni namas tubhyam pada sparsa ksamasva me

Oh earth, wife of Vishnu, receptacle for the oceans and decorated with mountains, I pay my respects to you. Please forgive me for stepping upon you.

3. Smaranam:
smartavyah satatam visnur vismartavyo na jatucitsarve vidhi nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah

One should always remember the Lord, and one should never forget Him. All rules and regulations of bhakti are based upon these two injunctions. Hari Bhakti VilAsa Ch.3, V.37 from Padma Purana. Since remembering the Lord is the principle activity of devotional service, at the beginning of the day one is advised remember the Lord. To If one is to perform this according to the scriptures, one should first purify oneself of the impurities of sleep by washing ones hands, feet and mouth, and changing into fresh cloth. Cloth used for sleeping and the bed are considered impure. If one is using a bed roll one should fold it up and store it at this time. One should sit on a clean asana and perform acamana twice. One should first meditate upon the lotus feet of ones spiritual master and recite verses praising him. One should then remember the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna and recite verses praising him. Reciting the Lord's glories is a form of kirtana and is an effective way of remembering the Lord. By the recitation of verses, the Lord's personal form, qualities and pastimes become fixed in the mind.

4. Recitation of Verses:
Hari Bhakti VilAsa quotes the following verses from Srimad Bhagavatam as suitable for recitation at this time. By recitation of these four verses one can remove all the effects of bad dreams.

jayati jana nivaso devaki janma vadoyaduvara parisat svair dorbhir asyann adharmamsthira cara vrjina ghnah susmita sri mukhenavraja pura vanitanam vardhayan kamadevamsmrte sakala kalyana bhajanam yatra jayatepurusam tam ajam nityam vrajami saranam harimvidagdha gopala vilasininamsambhoga cihnankita sarva gatrampavitram amnaya giram agamyambrahma prapadye navanita cauramudgayatinam aravinda locanamvrajangananam divam sprasad dhvanihdadhnas ca nirmanthana sabda mistritonirasyate yena disam amangalam

All glories to Sri Krsna. Krsna is residing within each living entity, yet he is the shelter of all living entities. By his mercy he seemed to take birth from the womb of Devaki, and he played the role of a member of the Yadu dynasty. Fulfilling one role, he eradicated irreligiousity with his own arms, and destroyed the pangs of material existence for the moving and non moving entities such as the trees and cows of Vrindavana. Yet above all, by his sweet smile, he caused the love of the women of Vrindavana and Mathura to increase unlimitedly. I surrender unto the eternal, unborn Lord, by the remembrance of whom one becomes the recipient of all types of auspiciousness. I surrender unto the Absolute Truth, who is unapproachable by the eternal sounds of the Vedas, and who is completely pure, and who yet appears in the morning with the marks of his loving affairs with the gopis on his limbs, and who is now engaged in stealing and eating the butter that they have churned. In the early morning, the kirtana of the gopis, who are filled with love for the lotus eyed Krsna, touches the very roof of the sky. Mixing with the sounds produced from their bangles as they laboriously churn the yoghurt into butter, that kirtana dispels all the inauspiciousness of the world. After remembering the Lord one should drink some charanamrta and with a tulasi leaf sprinkle some on ones head. There are many instances of devotional service rendered by previous acharyas who did not care about social behavior when intensely absorbed in love for Krishna. Unfortunately, as long as we are within this material world, we must observe social customs to avoid criticism by the general populace." Cc Madhya Lila vol 3. p14.

5. Pranama (obeisances):
After waking, chanting the Lord's name, purifying oneself and remembering the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord by reciting appropriate verses, one should offer respects to the spiritual master and the Lord in the form of pranama or obeisances, accompanied by prayers. There are two types of pranamas (more detailed information on pranamas is given later.) Astanga pranama: One should pay obeisances with eight items: feet hands chest, knees, head, vision, mind and words. The two feet,, two knees, the chest and head should touch the ground, while the eyes should be downcast and half open, the mouth should be reciting a suitable prayer and the mind should meditate that ones head is under the Lord's lotus feet. Panchanga pranama: One should pay obeisances with five items: knees, arms, head, intellect and words. The chest does not touch the ground. Qualification: Men may perform either type of pranama, but women should perform only panchanga pranama, as it is said that their breasts should not touch the earth. Number: According to Hari Bhakti VilAsa one should offer pranamas at least four times. Guru Pramana Mantras (example): namah om visnu padaya krsna presthaya bhutale srimate bhaktivedanta swamin iti namine namaste sarasvati devam gaura vani pracarine nirvisesa sunyavadi paschatya desa tarine. Gauranga Pranama Prayer: namo mahavadanyaya krsna prema pradaya te krsnaya krsna caitanya name gaura tvise namah. Krishna pranama Prayer: namo brahmanya devaya go brahmana hitaya cha jagad dhitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah.  he krsna karuna sindho dina bandho jagat pate gopesa gopika kanta radha kanta namo'stu te.   prasida bhagavan prasida bhagavan (Oh lord, be pleased with me)

6. Offering of Service:
pratah prabodhito visno hrsikesena yat tvayayad yat karayasisana tat karomi tavajnaya. O Vishnu, Isana, Hrsikesa, master of the senses, having been awakened by you, I am ready to do whatever you wish me to do. Hari Bhakti VilAsa Ch. 3 v.91, from Vishnu Dharmottara

1. MALA MUTRA TYAGA (evacuating): After remembering the Lord one should relieve oneself of nature. The scriptures give exact rules for urinating and stooling in order to preserve individual and collective health. Some of these rules are difficult to apply in modern city life, but, on the other hand, the rules are certainly practical and economical in a rural environment. According to the vedic mentality, there is a prescribed direction for every activity, which ensures the most efficient performance of the activity. Thus a particular direction is prescribed for passing nature. Though the rules may seem impractical in view of modern toilet systems, one can at least appreciate the keen awareness of the ancient sages concerning proper hygiene. If the rules were still followed in India, the towns would certainly be more pleasant for living.

The practical rules which are still commonly followed are marked *.Forbidden places:* One should not relieve oneself in a ploughed field, among growing grains, in a cow pasture, on a road or path, on the bank of a river or pond, within the water, where many people congregate, in any dark place.*

Out of respect, one should not relieve oneself while looking at or facing a brahmana, a guru or any elder, a cow, fire, the sun, the wind, over ashes of a fire, in any sacred place, in a temple, in a burning ghat, in a hole where an animal lives, on an ant hill, in the shadow of a tree, or on someone else's shadow.

Location: One should go more than a bowshot from the ones house in the southwest direction; a distance of at least three hundred yards from a village; or four times that distance from a town.

Direction: One should face north while evacuating during the daytime or (if unavoidable) during the sandhyas; one should face south while relieving oneself at night.

Forbidden times: One should avoid relieving oneself during the sandhyas (the period near sunrise and sunset).

Procedure: One should cover the earth with grass, leaves or stones before beginning. One should not wear shoes. One should cover ones head.*
Kaccha should be undone. This refers to the kaupina or part of the dhoti which acts for that purpose.*
The upavita (gayatri thread) should be wound around the right ear. If one fails to do this the upavita becomes impure and unusable and one should change the thread. While passing nature, the whole body becomes impure but the right ear remains pure even then. It is said to be equivalent to all the sacred tirthas.*
One should squat both while urinating or stooling, for health reasons. One should never urinate while standing or walking.*
One should not talk, look here and there, gaze at the stars, the sun or moon, yawn or sneeze while in the process of relieving oneself.*
One should finish quickly, clean oneself and leave the place promptly.

2. SAUCHA (cleansing oneself after evacuating):*
One should not delay to clean ones private parts, hands and feet after passing nature. As relieving oneself is an unavoidable activity, saucha is also unavoidable. By the first activity one becomes unavoidably contaminated. To perform any activity one must regain purity, and thus the second activity, saucha, is prescribed. By proper saucha, one becomes purified. The vaidic method of saucha may appear impractical or fanatical. It was quite practical for the people of previous ages as a way of preventing disease. At present, the standard has been minimized to cleaning the private parts with water, and then cleaning the hands with soap. The rules regarding the water pot and the sacred thread are still intact however. Cleansing Agent: Fine earth is a natural cleansing agent for the whole body. It is efficient, readily available, without cost and safe for the skin. One should be careful to select clean earth which has not been previously used for saucha and which does not contain insects etc. One should not take earth from an ant hill, from beneath the water, or from the foundation of a house. Number of Applications: One should apply earth once to the sex organ, three times to the anus, ten times to the left hand and seven times to both hands according to the Vishnu Purana. One should then wash the feet at least once and the hands three more times, according to Kasi Khanda. The finger nails should also be cleaned. Or one may continue to clean until no bad odor remains. If one is only urinating, one should apply earth once to the sex organ, three times to the left hand and two times to both hands.

Exceptions: Saucha may be reduced to one half if at night, if one is sick, if there is some danger or fear, or if one is travelling. The rules given above apply to the householder. It is said that brahmachari should be twice as clean, the vanaprastha should be three times as clean and the sannyasi should be four times as clean. Saucha is considered one of the major duties of the sannyasi. Amount: One should use a quarter of a handful of earth for the first cleaning, and an eighth of handful for succeeding applications. The earth should be applied each time with the left hand only, and then washed off with plenty of water.

Water Pot: One should not hold the water pot to be used for cleaning oneself while one is relieving oneself, for the water will also become impure by that act. If the container used for the water is metal, it may be purified and used for other purposes by scrubbing with clean earth. If it is not purified in this way it cannot be touched during or after the bath. Otherwise one again becomes impure. Since containers made of other materials cannot be properly cleansed, they should not be touched after one performs saucha.

Final Purification: After saucha is complete one should wash the hands with water thoroughly, splash water on the feet and perform acamana while remembering the Lord. In this way, after a necessary but impure act, the physical body and mind attain purity. The upavita may then be taken from the ear.

Achamana means literally to sip. As a ritual of purification it means to sip water three times from the right hand while saying mantra, and then to touch various sense organs and parts of the body with water while saying more mantras. This form of purification has been practiced since time immemorial. In that place Srila Vyasa Deva, in his own ashrama, which was surrounded by berry trees, sat down to meditate after touching water for purification (acamana). SB 1.7.3.

Purpose: Water is profusely glorified in the Vedas and is used in Vedic rituals for sipping, touching to parts of the body, sprinkling over the body, and for bathing the body. Taking pure, cool water internally is purifying and invigorating, both physically and mentally; and, when this is accompanied by utterance of the names of Vishnu, one becomes filled with spiritual qualities. Acamana is a standard form of purification, prerequisite for meditation, puja, homa and other sacred activities. Types: Achamana may be of different types, arising from different scriptures (e.g.. vaidika, srauta, smarta, pauranic, tantric), according to the ceremony and the line of teaching one is following. The difference in these achamanas lies mainly in the mantras recited.

Occasion: One should perform achamana before any sacred ceremony such as worship of the deity, sacrifice, japa, study of scripture, sandhya rites (chanting gayatri mantra) One should perform achamanas after eating, drinking, rising from bed, passing stool, urine or semen, bathing, dressing, touching the lips, spitting, coughing, telling a lie, returning home from outside, visiting a crematorium or a place where four roads meet, seeing impure things. Often achamana is performed twice, as at the beginning of homa or after contacting impure items. Yajnavalkya says that one should perform acamana twice after bathing, drinking, coughing, sleeping, eating, coming from a road or crematorium or putting on cloth.

Dress: One should in most cases have trikaccha dhoti or kaupina. One should wear the sacred thread (upavita). One should have sikha tied. One should not have the head or throat covered. One should not have shoes on. Hands and feet should be clean. Posture: One should sit on an asana facing east, in padma or svastika asana. Knees and feet should not be protruding. If the place does not allow sitting one may squat. One should not be standing. (Exception: one may perform acamana while standing if one is in water which is above the knees but below the navel.)

Place: The place should be clean: free from hair, charcoals, bones, ash or any impure items. Water: The water used for sipping should be pure, and cool, without foam or stagnation bubbles, without foul odor or bad taste, untouched by fingernails or hair, or any impure item. Hand Configuration: The right hand should be held so that the forefinger, middle finger and ring finger are together and slightly bent upwards, while the little finger and the thumb are separated from the other three fingers. Brahma Tirtha: The hand is divided into five parts for offering water to different types of living entities: the tips of the fingers are called deva tirtha, for offering tarpana water to Vishnu; the space between the thumb and forefinger is called pitri tirtha, for offering water to the ancestors; the part of the hand at the base of the little finger is called kaya tirtha, for offering water to mankind; the center of the palm is called agni tirtha, for proksana (sprinkling water oneself); the part of the hand at the base of the thumb is called brahma tirtha, for sipping water for purification.

Qualification: A brahmana becomes purified in performing acamana if the water penetrates to the heart (i.e. by swallowing the water completely). A kshatriya becomes purified in performing acamana if the water reaches his throat. A vaishya becomes purified if the water reaches his palate (inside his mouth). A shudra or woman becomes purified if the water touches his or her lips.

Vaisnava Acamana Procedure:
The following form of acamana is that given in Hari Bhakti Vilasa and Samskara Dipika. It includes both sipping of water with the names of Vishnu and touching parts of the body with names of Vishnu. Though some manuals abbreviate the acamana by omitting touching parts of the body, this abbreviation is not found in the above named scriptures. achamane ei name sparsi tat tat sthana: In acamana one says the twelve names of Vishnu while touching the various parts of the body. CC Madhya v.8.p.112.  One touches various parts of the body because in the different organs of the body are located various energies and their devatas. According the the smrti author Sankha, in the mouth, ganga and yamuna; in the nose the asvini kumaras; in the eyes, sun and moon; in the ears, the wind; in the shoulders, all the devatas; at the top of the head, paramatma. Each finger also has a deity; in the thumb, agni; in the forefinger, vayu; in the middle finger, prajapati; in the ring finger, surya (associated with the eyes); and in little finger, Indra.

The complete vaisnava achamana is as follows:
Water, of quantity to cover a grain of urad dhal, should be poured from the left hand by spoon into the right palm. One should purify the water in ones palm by ones glance. One should say the appropriate mantra. One should sip the water from the brahma tirtha of the right hand without making any noise.
kesavaya namah sip water from brahma tirtha of right hand
narayanaya namah sip water from brahma tirtha of right hand
madhavaya namah sip water from brahma tirtha of right hand
govindaya namah sprinkle water on right and visnave namah left hand
madhusudanaya namah Touch right cheek
trivikramaya namah touch left cheek
vamanaya namah wipe above upper lip with base of thumbs
ridharaya namah wipe below lower lip with base of thumb (as touching the lips is impure, one should curl the fleshy part of the lips within the mouth at this point and wipe the remaining areas.)
hrsikesaya namah sprinkle water on both hands
padmanabhaya namah sprinkle water on feet
damodaraya namah sprinkle water on head
vasudevaya namah touch near upper and lower lips with tips of three middle fingers
sankarsanaya namah touch right nostril with thumb and fore finger
pradumnaya namah touch left nostril with thumb and fore finger
aniruddhaya namah touch right eye with thumb and ring finger
purusottamaya namah touch left eye with thumb and ring finger
adhoksajaya namah touch right ear with thumb and ring finger
nrsimhaya namah touch left ear with thumb and ring finger
acyutaya namah touch navel with thumb and little finger
janardanaya namah touch heart with palm of hand  upendraya namah touch head with all fingers
haraye namah touch right arm with tips of fingers
krsnaya namah touch left arm with tips of fingers.

Simple Acamana:  If one cannot perform the vaisnava achamana, a simple achamana employing both sipping water and touching parts of the body popular in North India is as follows:  Sprinkle water on hands and feet. Sip water from the brahma tirtha three times saying:
om visnu sip water
om visnu sip water
om visnu sip water (Those who are not initiated may say sri visnu.)

Wash hands. Touch mouth, right and left nostrils, right and left eyes, right and left ears, the navel, heart, top of the head. and arms, with the fingers of the right hand.

DANTA DHAVANA (cleaning the teeth):
Before bathing in the morning one must clean the mouth and teeth. If one does not clean the teeth one is forbidden from performing deity worship, sacrifices, japa and other spiritual rites . Even if one performs achamana, with uncleaned teeth one remains impure if his teeth have not been properly cleaned.

Cleaning the teeth must be done before bathing because in the process of cleaning the teeth and mouth the body and clothing become impure from falling saliva. Thus one should brush ones teeth before the bath and before sunrise;  It should be done never while bathing; and never before the noon bath.  Women should not brush their teeth publicly.  The teeth are brushed usually only once a day, since too much brushing wears away the teeth. After meals the teeth are usually cleaned using water only. Those using modern tooth brushes may disregard the following information, but should brush their teeth, clean the tongue, and rinses the mouth thoroughly.

Danta Kastha (twigs):  Since reusable plastic tooth brushes and chemical tooth pastes have been universally adopted as the modern standard for cleaning teeth, the use of twigs may seem primitive, but is sanitary and healthy.  According to the vedic tradition, for cleaning the teeth, certain twigs or leaves should be used, as they contain natural cleansing agents suitable for the health of teeth and gums.  It is said that one gains long life from brushing teeth with a twig that comes from a tree which oozes white sap, while a bitter twig yields good health; a pungent twig yields strength; and an astringent yields comfortable life. Twigs from the nima tree are the most commonly used. The twig should be the diameter of the middle or little finger, twelve fingers long, with bark intact.  Exceptions: Some texts state that brahmacharis and sannyasis should not brush their teeth using twigs. Madhvacharya says the same. They may use salt and triphala, according to some.

Forbidden Twigs:
One should not use twigs from the palasa, banyan or pippal trees for brushing the teeth or for making shoes, as these trees are worshippable. One should also avoid using twigs from the malati, vilva, karavira, arka, khadira and mango trees.

Forbidden tithis:
One should not clean the teeth with twigs on pratipat (first day of the waxing or waning moon), on sasthi (sixth day), on astami (eighth day), on navami (ninth day), chaturdasi (fourteenth day), purnima (full moon), amavasya (dark moon); neither on Sundays, Saturdays or sankrantis (day when the sun enters a new zodiac sign); nor on fasting days (ekadasi or any day of vrata), nor on days of observing sraddha rites, since the body is weaker on all these days. Brushing the teeth takes energy from the body, since the gums become slightly damaged. On these days one should carefully clean the teeth with a leaf, not damaging the gums. On ekadasi and amavasya even a leaf is forbidden. On these days one should simply wash the mouth thoroughly twelve times with clean water. On all these forbidden days, however, one should still clean the tongue. In Sadhana Dipika, Narayana Bhatta states that Vaishnavas, out of respect for the deity they are worshipping, should disregard the forbidden days and brush their teeth every day. The rules for forbidden days are not strictly observed at present.

Procedure: One should begin by chanting:
ayur balam yaso varcah prajah pasu vasuni cabrahma prajnam ca medham ca tvam no dhehi vanaspate

Lord of the forest, give us long life, strength, fame, offspring, animals, wealth, spiritual wisdom, and intelligence. One should then wash the mouth twelve times with water, wash the twig with water, and chew the twig on the smaller end. Facing east or north, one should commence to brush the teeth. After the teeth are clean, one should bend the twig and clean the tongue. In all cases one must clean the tongue. One should then discard the twig in a clean place and rinse the mouth twelve more times with water. While brushing the teeth and washing the mouth all fingers except the index finger may enter the mouth.

According to Vedic custom, upon cuda karanam (hair cutting ceremony) and upon upanayanam (Vaidic initiation) a person must shave his head, leaving a tuft of hair called a sikha. The sikha is considered a necessary qualification for performing all types of yajna. Therefore traditionally in India all the brahmanas whether Vaisnava or otherwise kept a sikha.  The ayurveda authorities Susruta and Charaka say that shaving the head is beneficial for health, for it bestows long life, physical strength and purity of mind. They explain that the sikha remains on the head while the rest is shaved in order to protect a sensitive area of the head.

Size of the sikha:
The scriptures usually mention that the size and shape of the sikha is according to family tradition. Some say it should be the size and shape of a banyan leaf and others say it should be the size of a cow's hoof. Gaudiya Vaishnavas and people of North India usually keep small sikhas, maximum one and a half inches diameter.  Tying the sikha: The sikha is usually kept tied tightly in a knot and is untied only when washing, cleaning or oiling it; when one goes to sleep; or when one attends funeral rites or is in mourning. As an untied sikha is a sign of death in ones family, it is considered inauspicious to go about ones daily duties with untied sikha. One who bathes with sikha untied is considered a shudra, according to Hari Bhakti Vilasa. It is also said that if one keeps the sikha untied, the body becomes weak.

Procedure:  One should not tie the sikha while facing south or while standing. According to Hari Bhakti Vilasa while tying the sikha one should chant "om" and the gayatri mantra.

(Shaving and rubbing oil on the body are placed here for convenience, but are usually performed before the noon bath rather than the early morning bath.)  The rules below are optional, but they are given for information's sake, and are commonly observed in some parts of India.

Cutting hair is said to cause loss of energy. Certain days also put the body into a weak state. Therefore on these day shaving is not recommended, especially for sick or unhealthy people. Shaving at night is forbidden. It is done in the daytime, usually before the noon bath. It should never be done after eating. It is said that shaving on Sundays reduces ones life by one month; shaving on Saturdays reduces ones life by seven months; shaving on Tuesdays reduces ones life by eight months. Shaving on Wednesdays increases ones life by five months; shaving on Mondays increase life by seven months; shaving on Thursdays increases life by ten months; and shaving on Fridays increases life by eleven months. Other authorities say that shaving on Sunday brings physical well-being; shaving on Monday, bright complexion; shaving on Thursday, success; shaving on Friday, universal respect. Shaving on Tuesdays reduces life span; shaving on Saturdays causes decay of the body. Monday is good only during the waxing phase of the moon. However, brahmanas may shave on Sundays and kshatriyas may shave on Tuesdays. Sannyasis customarily shave on purnima. Of the tithis, prathipat, chaturthi, astami, chaturdasi, purnima, amavasya; and sasthis, navamis, dvadasis, sankrantis, and any day of fasting, such as ekadasi, are also unfavorable. The favorable tithis are dvitiya, tritiya, panchami, saptami dasami and trayodasi. The moon in waxing phase is favorable and in the waning phase, particularly the latter half, is unfavorable.

One should not be shaved in a public shop, but in a private place, preferably by the family barber. Procedure: Head and face should be shaved, then nails should be cut. Then one should take a full bath.

Rubbing oil on the body, then bathing with water, is called oil bath. If one uses sesame oil, its use is forbidden on the same days that shaving is forbidden. This does not apply to mustard, coconut or perfumed oils. Oil bath is undertaken before the noon bath. Oil bath is particularly recommended on dasamis.

Brahmanas start by applying oil to the left foot first and finish with the head. After rubbing the oil well on the body, especially on the head feet and ears, one should bathe thoroughly, for having oil on the body is an impure state. While one has oil on the body one is forbidden to pass nature.

SNANA (bathing):
Necessity: Having risen from sleep, relieved himself of nature, cleansed himself, brushed his teeth and tied his sikha, the civilized man should then bathe. The Kurma Purana says that without taking the pratah snana (bath taken after the dawn but before sunrise) one remains impure, and subsequently one cannot perform any of the daily activities of the civilized man. This includes japa, homa and deity worship. If one takes his meals without having bathed, then he is said to be eating only filth, for everything he touches becomes as impure as himself. The Padma Purana considers the person who does not take bath in the morning to be a sinner fit to suffer in hell. Exceptions:  It is compulsory for all people except those who are sick. Purpose: The effects of the early morning bath are also described in the scriptures. By taking the bath even the sinful person can become purified, for it has the power to wash away all external and internal contamination's. The bath also gives strength, beauty, good voice, good complexion, sensitivity, long life, good odor, effulgence, youthfulness, attractiveness to women, and purity. Taking the early morning bath increases ones knowledge, fame determination, peace of mind and all good fortune and wealth. The early morning bath can remove the effects of heaps of sinful activities, unhappiness, lamentation, degradation, bad thoughts and bad dreams. According to Katyayana Smrti and Kasi Khanda, with the passage of time during the night, the nine holes of the body become filled with the waste products which are continually being produced by the body. The early morning bath most effectively removes all of this dirt so that the body can begin its daily activities in a fresh state. In this way the early morning bath has physical, mental and spiritual effects, and is therefore glorified in the scriptures. Because of the importance of the early morning bath, the act of bathing has become codified as a sacred ritual for bodily and mental purification since time immemorial. Accordingly there are many rules of propriety to be observed when taking a bath. The purely Vaidic bath is a complicated affair accompanied by many mantras, but even the bath in its simplest form should at least be accompanied by the chanting of the Lord's sacred names. Types of bath: There are seven types of bath: parthiva (using earth) varuna (using water), agneya (using ashes from the sacrificial fire), vayavya (contacting air filled with dust raised by cows), divya (ethereal bath of rain falling while the sun is shining), mantra (chanting appropriate verses), and manasika (by meditation on Visnu). Using different elements, they all purify the body of contamination. However, the manasika, mantra and varuna bath are the most important of these. The daily bath is usually the varuna snana (water bath).

1. Manasa Bath:
Manasa bath consists of remembrance of Lord Vishnu. According to Manu the best of baths is the manasa bath, Remembrance of Vishnu is the most powerful means of eradicating all types of sins:

apavitrah pavitro va sarva vastham gato'pi vayah smaret pundarikaksam sa bahyabhyantarah sucih

 Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.3, V.47 from Garuda Purana.  Therefore along with all types of bath one must take the mental bath.

2. Mantra Bath: Mantra snana consists of sprinkling water over the body while reciting appropriate verses. This is often performed directly before engaging in worship and vedic ceremonies. The common vaidic verse is as follows:  om apo hi stha mayo bhuvahta na urje dadhatanamahe ranaya caksaseyo vah sivatamo rasahtasya bhajayateha nahusatir iva matarahtasma aram gamama vahyasya kshayaya jinvathaapo janayatha ca nahOr one may sprinkle water on the body chanting the deity mula mantra (pancaratrika method).

3. Varuna Bath (Water Bath): The early morning bath should normally be a water bath. This is the normal bath for purification.

Source of Water:
In order of preference, beginning with the best, one should bath in a holy river, a river which runs directly into the sea, (i.e. not a tributary), any river, canal, pond, lake, water fall, or using water drawn from a well or other clean source.

If cool water bath (varuna snana) in the early morning (or at any other time) is difficult because of health, then a warm water bath is permitted. Though warm water is also physically purifying, it does not have the same value as a cool water morning bath when performing a vrata. Neither should one bathe in warm water on the birthday of a son, on a sankranti, or at the time of an eclipse of the sun or moon. If the warm water bath is not possible, one can take bath without wetting the head, or by simply rubbing the body with a clean damp cloth. If this cannot be done one must at least take a mantra bath and mental bath. In the case of women, during the daily bath they do not have to submerge their heads in water and wet their hair. Full bath for women is required however after their monthly contamination period.

Frequency of Bathing :The brahmachari is obligated to bathe only in the early morning. The grihastha and the vanaprastha must take early morning and noon bath. The sannyasi must take bath in the early morning, at noon and before sunset. However, if this is impossible one must at least take the early morning bath. Thus the early morning water bath is obligatory for all.

Other Occasions for Varuna Bath: Besides taking water bath in the morning, noon and evening, one must take a varuna snana after shaving, after having sex, after going to the crematorium, after touching a woman in her period, or after touching a woman who has just borne a child, after touching a naked person, a bearer of a dead body or a person of sinful habits. One should not take a bathe during the middle six hours of the night, nor after having taken a meal.

Forbidden Times for Bathing:
Bath is forbidden directly after puja, yajna, festivals, visiting a tirtha, performance of other auspicious ceremonies and meeting with friends. Even if one touches a chandala during a wedding, festival, yajna or near a temple, one does not have to bathe.

Rules (Most of these are commonly observed in India. The most important are marked *):* One should not bathe naked. (Out of respect to the water, out of sense of decency in a public place and because bathing is a sacred act.) One should not bathe wearing one cloth. (a second cloth is usually tied around the waist. In this way one is properly dressed for the sacred act of bathing.)* One should wear a kaupina or if not, the cloth should have a tail tucked in at the back (kaccha). (This is a matter of respect to the personality of the water, as well as indicating that one should be properly dressed for the sacred act of bathing. This should particularly be observed when bathing in a river.) One should not take baths unnecessarily. (Only three times a day plus after any occasion of impurity.)* One should not bathe in impure water.* One should not bathe without first having passed nature. (Doing so is like the elephant who bathes very nicely in the river and then comes out of the water and throws dust on his body.) One should not accept or give greetings while bathing. One should not shake ones wet hair to dry it after bathing. One should not shake water from cloth or legs after bathing.* One should not rub oil on the body after bathing. (Oil on the body is considered impure, and should be rubbed on the body before taking the water bath.) One should dry ones body with a separate, dry cloth. One should not wipe the body with the hands, with a dirty cloth, or with the edge of the damp cloth that one is wearing. If one wipes oneself with ones bathing cloth one becomes impure again. One should wring ones wet cloth so that the water does not fall back into the body of water.

Two procedures for taking bath are given. The first is the procedure for bathing in a river, and may be performed when one has the opportunity to bathe at a tirtha such as Ganga or Yamuna. Traditionally houses were conveniently located near bathing ghatas on a river or lake, or had their own private pond for bathing, since bathing was an important part of daily life. Thus the daily bath was performed according to the first procedure given. Since at present most people bath in their own houses, the daily bath will be according to the second procedure given, the grha snana (house bath). This bath is much simpler.

A. Tirtha Snana (bathing in a river, lake or any body of water):
If one is bathing in a river or pond one may do as follows. The procedure for bathing may vary according to the tradition one is following. Thus there are different procedures according to vedic, tantric and puranic texts using different mantras. Hari Bhakti Vilasa give an example of a bath mixing vaidic and tantric traditions. Since the tirtha snana is not the daily bath for most people, only an outline is given here. Full details of all the steps are given in the Practical Manual (prayoga section). One should approach the river, pond or reservoir with fresh cloth and cloth for drying the body. One should wash hands and feet. One should sit and perform achamana. One should offer arghya (respectful offering of auspicious articles, represented by pure water) to the tirtha by taking water in the palms of ones hands and pouring back into the water. One should then pay obeisances (pranamas) to the tirtha. (specific pranama prayers for specific tirthas may be uttered.)  Folding ones hands one should beg permission (anujna) to bath in the holy water: One should enter into the water and face the current or towards the sun (east). One should perform tirtha avahana (calling the tirtha). At a famous tirtha one should glorify that particular tirtha and not others, and one should not call other tirthas to be present, for that is offensive to the tirtha. At an ordinary river or ghata however one may call ganga etc.

gange ca yamune caiva godavari sarasvati narmade sindhu kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru

While standing in the water one should perform pranayama while thinking of Krishna's lotus feet, and while repeating his name submerge oneself in water. It is customary while submerging oneself to cover ones mouth, eyes, nostrils, and ears with the fingers of both hands. One should then take earth from the river bank and apply to the body. One should submerge oneself in water twelve times saying the twelve names of visnu: keshava, narayana, madhava, govinda, visnu, madhusudana, trivikrama, vamana, sridhara, hrsikesha, padmanabha, damodara. One should then pour the foot water from guru or elders or brahmanas (if present) over ones head, and then drink visnu charanamrta and pour some over ones head. Cupping ones hands one should gather water in ones hands and pour over the head three times while reciting krsna mula mantra. Coming out of the water one should perform acamana again, and then wipe ones limbs with a dry cloth while reciting the twelve names of ganga or other stotras:

nalini nandini sita malini ca mahapagavisnu padarghya sambhuta ganga tri patha gaminibhagirathi bhogavati jahnavi tridasesvari

The water from wringing ones wet cloth should not fall back into the river or pond. One should then dress and apply tilaka.

Ganga Snana:
If one is bathing in the actual Ganga before entering one may recite:

om gange devi jagan mata padabhyam salilam tavasprsamity aparadham me prasanna ksantum arhasi. While bathing one may recite:  visnu padarghya sambhuta gane tripathagaminidharma draviti vikhyate papam me hara jahnavisraddhaya bhakti sampanne srimatar devi jahnaviamrtenambuna devi bhagirathi punihi mamvisnu pada prasutasi vaisnavi visnu devatapahi nastvenasas tasmad ajanma maranantikat

Yamuna Snana:
Bathing in the yamuna one may say:

kalinda tanaye devi paramananda vardhinisnami te salile sarvaparadhan mam vimocaya

B. Grha Snana (bathing in the house):
If one cannot go to a river or ghata one may bath in ones house as follows: One should first wash ones hands and feet, and then sitting, perform achamana. One should then call the tirthas into ones bath water from the sun planet by showing the ankusa mudra while reciting:

gange ca yamune caiva godavari sarasvati narmade sindhu kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru.

One should then remember the spiritual master and beg permission from the Lord to bathe in his water. One should then pour the water over ones head saying om namo narayanaya, while meditating on the lotus eyed Lord as effulgent as a million suns, with four arms carrying conch, lotus, club and disc; who is wearing yellow silk robes, whose dark body is covered with sandalwood paste; whose face is pleasing with a sweet smile, being lit by the glitter from his jewel-inlaid shark earrings, and who is garlanded by fresh flowers and decorated with armlets; belt and golden crown, and is surrounded by a multitude of sages headed by Narada.  One should meditate that from the lotus feet of Narayana, who resides upon the water, is flowing a stream of sacred water which falls upon ones head, enters the brahma randhra, and cleanses the body of all foul matter. This is the manasa snana the best of all baths. One may pour water from the feet of guru, elders, sankha and salagrama sila over ones head.

NOTE: The most important element in this bath is remembrance of the Lord (manasa snana) and chanting the names of the Lord. Though all other elements may be overlooked, these two acts should always be performed while bathing. In this way the bath retains its sacred nature.

TARPANA (satisfying obligations):
As a rule, every human being is indebted to God, the demigods, great sages, other living entities, people in general, forefathers, etc. for various contributions received from them. Thus everyone is obliged to repay the debt of gratitude. SB3.3.26.  A person is indebted to those who have contributed to his present position (devas, rsis, bhuta, men and pitrs) and one must pay the debt. One does this in a simply way, by means of offering water to them. By this they derive satisfaction (trpti). The system of offering water is therefore called tarpana. As far as the servant of Mukunda is concerned, his act of surrender covers all debts (rni) to all living entities. If the Lord is satisfied, all living beings are also satisfied. Therefore the devotee of Krsna need not actually perform these tarpanas.  devarsi bhutatma nrnam pitrnamna kinkaro nayam rni ca rajansarvatmana yah saranam saranyamgato mukundam pari hrtya kartam.  One who giving up all other duties, has taken shelter of Mukunda, by body, mind, words and soul, has no obligations to the devas, rsis, living entities, men or forefathers.  However, though such nitya kriyas are not necessary for the devotee, sometimes they may be performed. Thus Krsna himself performed tarpana.  There are many instances of devotional service rendered by previous acharyas who did not care about social behavior when intensely absorbed in love for Krsna. Unfortunately, as long as we are within this material world, we must observe social customs to avoid criticism by the general populace. CC Madhya v.3.p.14.  As the devotee does not normally perform vaidic or puranic tarpana, the rules for its performance and the mantras are given in the prayoga section.

After bathing one should dress properly. If one is dressed improperly one is considered naked. to be naked is to be uncivilized.  To cover the lower part of the body is a principle of human civilization, and when a man or woman forgets this principle, they become degraded. Krsna Book I, p.70.

Improper Cloth:  Brightly colored cloth (for men), damp cloth, cloth which is too long or too short to be worn properly, stitched cloth, torn cloth, oil-stained or dirt-stained cloth, burned cloth, cloth chewed by animals or insects, and unclean cloth should not be worn.

Unclean Cloth:  Cloth which has already been worn, but has not been washed and dried again is considered unclean. Silk, however, is an exception. It may be worn many times, provided it does not contact impure items.  Cloth worn while sleeping, passing urine or stool, while having sex is unclean. (Wool is an exception.)  Cloth which touches any impure items such as wine, meat, blood, a dead body or a woman in her period of contamination is unclean.  Cloth washed by a laundry man is unclean.  Cloth which though washed, has become stale, are also unclean.

Cleaning Cloth:  Cotton becomes clean by washing with water, or water and soap, and drying. Silk may be cleaned using water or water and soap. Wool becomes clean by contact with air, fire, sun or moon light (gross contamination needs washing).

Upper Cloth:
One should wear an upper as well as a lower cloth. Wearing only a lower cloth is improper.  The top cloth is properly worn over the left shoulder, in the position that the sacred thread normally rests.  If a grihastha is wearing three upavitas (nine strands of gayatri thread) the top cloth is not considered obligatory, but is still usually worn out of decorum. Exception: In coming before the Lord, however, the scriptures say that one should not wear a cloth covering the upper body, as a sign of humility: Anyone who offers respects and obeisances to the deity while wearing garments on the upper portion of his body is condemned to be a leper for seven births. CC Antya v.4.p.68.  This rule is still observed in South India. At the Padmanabha temple in Trivandrum and the Madhvacharya's Krsna Temple at Udupi, men are not allowed to come before the deity without first taking off their shirts. The upper cloth may be worn around the waist, in the case of pujaris. This rule does not seem to be strictly followed in North India however.

Lower Cloth:
The lower cloth should be worn properly, i.e. in tri kaccha style. Tri kaccha refers to tucking in the hem (kaccha) of the dhoti three times. This means one should wear ones cloth with the dhoti tail tucked in at the back. This originally served the function of kaupina. If one is wearing a kaupina however, this rule is not so strictly applied, though it is still commonly observed as the proper mode of dress for deity worship, sacrifice, ceremonial functions, reading scripture and eating. Color: According to some scriptures (Grha Sutras), a brahmana brahmachari should wear earth-colored or white cloth, kshatriya brahmachari should wear reddish cloth and vaishya brahmachari should wear yellow cloth. At present brahmacharis often are seen wearing white, and reddish color is reserved for those fixed in fixed brahmacharya and for sannyasis. According to Manu, brahmana householders should wear white, kshatriyas should wear red, vaishyas should wear yellow and shudras should wear blue. Thus it is the custom even at present for the male grihastha to wear clean white cloth. The prescribed colors for the other ashramas are not generally followed at present. Vanaprasthas if still living with their wives remain wearing white cloth. Sannyasis should wear reddish cloth.

Dress in Kali Yuga:
So far as your dress is concerned, that is immaterial. But as a soldier you know that every soldier has got a uniform dress according to the army etiquette of regulation. Therefore, the army of Krsna consciousness must have at least the tilaka on the forehead in all conditions. For your business you can wear your naval service uniform; similarly, if you have tilaka on your forehead as a soldier of Krsna consciousness, you may not have so much objection, because it is essential. letter from Srila Prabhupada, Robert Hendry, Aug.3., 1969

ASANA (seat):
After dressing one should sit on an asana and perform achamana. The seat of a sannyasi should be white and shaped like a turtle. Other persons should use a rectangular asana with four legs. The asana should not be made of cowdung, clay, palasa wood, asvattha (pippal) wood, or arka wood. It should not be trimmed with iron and should not be broken. One should sit on the asana in svastika or padma asana with knees and feet covered.

AIn Kali Yuga one can hardly acquire gold or jeweled ornaments, but the twelve tilaka marks on the body are sufficient as auspicious decorations to purify the body. SB4.12.28.  Tilaka refers to marking the body with different substances. Urdhva pundra refers to the two vertical marks placed on the forehead and other parts of the body in order to indicate ones surrender to Vishnu. According to the Padma Purana and Yajur Veda, these two vertical marks symbolize the lotus feet of Visnu. Necessity: All of you except a sannyasi may dress yourself just like a fine up-to- date American gentleman but one must have the tilaka etc. as I have mentioned. letter from Srila Prabhupada Calcutta, Oct.11, 1967.

The Padma Purana says that if one does not wear urdhva pundra one has no qualification for performing yajna, charity, austerity, vedic study, sandhya rites or any authorized activities. The person without urdhva pundra is no better than a dead man, and the person who wears horizontal marks, having broken the temple of Vishnu (urdhva pundra), goes to hell. Seeing such a person one should look at the sun for purification or bathe in a river or pond with ones clothes on. By applying the mark of the Lord and chanting his name, the Lord becomes pleased and comes to reside with the devotee. In this way the material body becomes the sanctified temple of the Lord. The tilaka is applied to twelve parts of the body, which indicate energy centers (i.e. in the forehead, navel, heart, throat and top of the head, with protection on the sides and back as well) which are important for proper functioning of the body and mind. Placing tilaka and reciting Vishnu's names on these places sanctifies then and dedicates them to Vishnu's service. Krsna is actually present everywhere. ...This is a process of meditation on the Lord's situation in the different parts of the body, but for those who are not Vaishnavas, great sages recommend meditation on the bodily concept of life-- meditation on the intestines, on the heart, on the throat, on the eyebrows, on the forehead and then on the top of the head. Krsna Book II, P147.

The urdhva pundra may vary in shape, color and material according to ones sampradaya, but other features are shared. It should not be crooked, uneven, uncentered, dirty or bad smelling. The center portion should be open from eyebrows to the hair line, but it should be joined at the bottom .The solid portion may extend three quarters of the way down the nose. Visnu is said to reside in the central portion, while Brahma resides on the left and Siva on the right. It should not be too long or too short: Brahmanda Purana says that urdhva pundra ten fingers long is best, nine fingers long is mediocre and eight fingers long is the minimum length. Material: Ash being tama guna and red candana, being raja guna, should not be used. Earth, being sattva guna, should be used. Earth from a tirtha such as Radha Kunda or Ganga, earth from a river bank or an ant hill, or earth from beneath a tulasi tree may also be used. One may apply tilaka using candana which has been offered to the deity. Gopi candana, a special earth from Dvaraka, is especially glorified in the scriptures. It is so pure that a cow killer or great sinner can become purified of his sin simply by touching it. According to the Skanda Purana, the person who has tulasi, conch, salagrama, dvaraka chakra, and gopichandana in his house has no fear of going to hell.

According to the Garuda Purana if one performs his rites without proper mantra or fails to perform sraddha rites, by wearing gopichandana he still receives the permanent benefits of those activities. If all the above are unavailable one may apply tilaka using charanamrta water from the deity.

One should pour some water (preferably ganga water) in the left palm and, grasping the gopi candana in the right hand, one should rub it in clockwise direction in the water until sufficient tilaka is made. The tilaka should be applied by the right hand, using the fingers but not the finger nails. Using the ring finger bestows whatever one desires, using the middle finger bestows long life, using the thumb bestows good health, and using the index finger bestows liberation.

One should apply the tilaka reciting the names of Vishnu.
keshavaya namah on the forehead
narayanaya namah on the stomach
madhavaya namah on the chest
govindaya namah on the hollow of the throat
visnave namah on the right side
madhusudanaya namah on the right arm
trivikramaya namah above the right collar bone
vamanaya namah on the left side
sridharaya namah on the left arm
hrsikesaya namah above the left collar bone
padmanabhaya namah on the back of the neck
damodaraya namah on the back at waist level
vasudevaya namah wash hands and touch top of head.

Optionally one may also recite the kirita mantra while touching the top of the head:

om sri kirita keyura hara makara kundalacakra sankha
gada padma hasta pitambara dharasri vatsankita
vaksah sthala sri bhumisahitasvatma jyotir
diptikaraya sahasraditya tejase namo namah

I pay my respects to the Supreme Lord who is effulgent as a thousand suns, who is accompanied by his consort Sri Bhumi, whose chest is decorated with the srivatsa, who wears yellow cloth and holds the conch wheel club and lotus, and has ornaments of earrings, necklaces, armlets and crown. One should perform acamana once more.

Mudras (stamps):
Mudras are stamps of items such as conch or disc which may be applied to the body. Some sampradayas apply mudras permanently or periodically by pressing hot metal stamps on various parts of the body, either at the time of initiation or on the dvadasi tithi at the beginning of chaturmasya vrata. Gaudiya Vaishnavas apply the mudras using gopi candana. Gautamiya Tantra says that one should place chakra on the right arm, conch on both arms, club on the left arm, chakra on the left arm below the club, lotus on both arms above the conch, knife on the chest and bow and arrow on the head. On the right hand one should put matsya and on the left hand, kurma. The names of the Lord may also be stamped on the body with gopichandana. This is common amongst Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

TULASI KANTHI MALA (tulasi neck beads):
Like urdhva pundra, neck beads worn around the neck indicate ones surrender to the Lord, and therefore a person wearing tulasi around his neck is dear to the Lord. However, a person who wears tulasi neck beads in order to look like a Vaisnava for material reasons, and who is not seriously endeavoring to surrender, becomes an offender. According to sampradaya, the beads worn by the devotee may be tulasi, lotus seed or amalaki fruit. All are praised in the scriptures. Some people wear the beads only while performing puja, japa or other sacred functions, and take them off when bathing or leaving the house. Such persons will therefore put the beads around their neck after bathing and dressing and putting on tilaka. Gaudiya Vaishnavas however wear tulasi neck beads permanently, on the basis of scriptural injunctions to wear the tulasi mala at all times. As well, the beads protect the person from bad dreams, accidents, attack by weapons, and from the servants of Yamaraj. Upon seeing tulasi mala the servants of Yama flee like leaves scattered by the wind.

yajopavita badddhayam sada tulasi malikanasaucham dharane tasya yatah sa brahma rupini

Just as the sacred thread must always be worn, even to drink water, so tulasi beads should always be worn. They never become impure, being spiritual substance. Padma Puranasnana kale tu yasyange drsyate tulasi subhagangadi sarva tirthesu snatam tena na samsayaah. That person who is seen to have tulasi on his neck when bathing has without doubt gained the benefits of bathing in the Ganga and all other holy tirthas. Skanda Puranayat kanthe tulasi nasti tenara mudha manasahanna vistha jalam mutram payasam rudhira bhavet.  One who does not wear tulasi beads is the most fallen person; his food becomes stool, the water that he drinks becomes urine, and milk becomes as impure as blood.

Mala Samskara:
According to the scriptures, before wearing tulasi mala one should offer them to the Lord: haraye narpayet yas tu tulasi kastha sambhavammalam dhatte svayam mudhah sa yat narakam dhruvam. The fool who wears tulasi mala without first offering them to the Lord certainly goes to hell. Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.4, V.310, from Skanda Purana.

The procedure is as follows:
One should first wash the beads in pancha gavya:
Over the cow urine one should chant: brahma gayatri.
Over cow dung one should chant:
om gandha dvaram duradharsamnitya pustam karisinimisvarim sarva bhutanamtva ahopahvaye sriyam.

Over milk one should chant; om a pyayasva sametute visvatah soma vrsnyambhava vajasya sangathe.

Over ghee one should chant:
om tejo'si sukram asiamrtam asi dhamanan asipriyam devanam anadhrstamdeva vajanam asi.

Over the yoghurt one should chant:
dadhi kravno akarisimjisnor asvasya vajinahsurabhi no mukha karatprana ayumsi tarisat.

Over kusa water one should chant;
om devasya tva savituhprasave'svinor bahubhyampusne hastabhyam adade.

One should mix the substances together and chant brahma gayatri over the mixture and bathe the beads in the mixture.
One should wash the beads in pure water. One should chant the mantra that one will chant on the beads, and the gayatri, eight times over the beads. One should purify the beads by passing them through incense smoke.

One should chant the following mantra over the beads:
om sadhyo jatam prapadyamisadyo jataya vai namahbhave bhave nati bhavebhajasva mam bhavodbhavaya namah.

One should place the beads around the deity's neck and then receive them, saying:

tulasi kastha sambhute male krsna jana priyebibhrami tvam aham kanthe kuru mam krsna vallabham.

Oh tulasi mala, worshipped by the devotees of Krsna, I will now wear you around my neck. Please make me the recipient of Krishna's affection. One should then wear the beads around ones neck.

NOTE: The principle here is that the devotee should accept the prasadam of the Lord. Tulasi, being one of the Lord's intimate associates, cannot be enjoyed independently by the ordinary living entity. Thus tulasi is first offered to the Lord and then received by the devotee as the Lord's mercy. If the procedure mentioned above cannot be followed, at least the neck beads should be worn by or touched to the deity before wearing on ones own body.

SANDHYA VANDANA (chanting the gayatri mantra)
Qualification for Vaidic Gayatri:
The brahma gayatri mantra is given to males who are qualified as brahmana, kshatriya and vaishya, at the initiation samskara known as upanayanam, and signifies the beginning of gurukula life when the child commences his spiritual education. As those of shudra qualities can derive no benefit from chanting this mantra and will simply waste time and commit offense,, the scriptures forbid giving this mantra to sudras. Since women are classed with shudras, and are not allowed to chant vedic mantras, traditionally they are not given the brahma gayatri, nor do they receive the sacred thread or attend gurukula. Women are allowed to chant pancaratrika mantras and gayatris (e.g.. gopala mantra, kama gayatri) since there are no such restrictions on pancaratrika mantras.

The upanayanam is the major samskara of life. In this ceremony the child is initiated into spiritual knowledge by the guru (traditionally the father) who gives the child the gayatri mantra and explains its meaning and the method of chanting. At this time the boy takes the dress of the brahmachari and the gayatri thread (upavita), and begins learning the duties of civilized man. When his spiritual education is completed the boy graduates and may take up household life.

Procedure for Chanting:
As the chanting of the gayatri mantra is a spiritual practice which will continue daily for the duration of life of the individual, pure offenseless chanting of the mantra is fundamental. To encourage pure chanting, in order to purify the mind and thus, traditionally, aid concentration on the mantra, various rituals have been prescribed along with the chanting of the mantra: acamana, pranayama, sankalpa, marjana (sprinkling the body with water), aghamarsana (method of purifying the body), offering of arghya, offering of tarpana to Vishnu, nyasa, dhyana, gayatri avahana (calling the presiding deity of the mantra), the actual japa, gayatri visarjana (dismissing gayatri devi), prayers to the sun, obeisances to the forms of gayatri, to the directions, to Vishnu and his associates, and dedication of self to the Lord. The chanting of the gayatri mantra along with performance of the rituals is called sandhya vandana. The procedures and prayers are standard even today, with minor variations according to the Veda one follows (rg, yajur, or sama) and according to locality and sampradaya. Since the standards are well known, Hari Bhakti Vilasa explains the importance of performing sandhya vandana but does not give details on it execution. All the rites are for the purpose of pure chanting of the vedic mantra, which is difficult to chant correctly and with effect. If one can chant the mantra without offense, and thus gain the benefit, the accompanying rituals may be discarded. A sample sandhya vandana procedure is given in the practical manual.

Frequency of Chanting; ahar ahah sandhya upasita.  According to the Vedas, one who has been given the mantra must chant the gayatri mantra at the sandhyas every day for the duration of his life. Marici says that one who does not know the sandhyas or perform worship of them (i.e. chant the gayatri mantra at the proper times of day) is a sudra.

Calculation of Sandhyas: The first sandhi (the period joining night and day) lasts from 24 minutes before sunrise to 24 minutes after sunrise. During this time the first sandhya rites of the day should be performed. It is also said that chanting when the stars are still visible in the sky is the best; chanting when the stars have disappeared but the sun has not yet risen is second class; and chanting when the sun is visible is third class. The second sandhi occurs at that time of day when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky, midway between sunrise and sunset. If one divides the daylight hours into five equal parts, the first part is called pratah or early morning; the second part is called sangava or forenoon; the third part is called madhyahna or noon; the fourth part is called parahna or after noon; and the fifth period is called sayahna or the end of the daylight, twilight. One should perform the second gayatri japa during the third period of the day, madhyahna. The evening sandhya starts 24 minutes before the sunset and lasts until 24 minutes after sunset. Chanting the gayatri mantra within the 24 minutes before the sunsets is best; chanting after the sun sets but before the stars appear in the sky is second class; chanting after sunset after stars have appeared in the sky is third class. The scriptures have given exact details on the proper times to chant the gayatri mantra because these times are the most conducive parts of the day for meditative practices.

Neglect of the Sandhyas: If one neglects to chant the brahma gayatri at the proper time it is considered a sin, an offense to Gayatri Devi, the personification of the sandhyas. One may overcome that sin by chanting the mantra ten extra times when one finally manages to chant. However, if the first gayatri has not been chanted by noon, one should fast from the noon meal, and if one has not chanted the morning gayatri by nightfall, then he should also fast from his second meal. If one neglects the gayatri for a complete day, one should fast on the next day. If one neglects the mantra for a year he loses his right to chant the mantra.

Place: Chanting the gayatri mantra in ones house has a quality rating of one. Chanting the gayatri mantra in open area such as a field has a rating of ten. Chanting on a river bank or up to the knees in water has a rating of 100,000.  Chanting in the proximity of the Lord has a rating of infinity.  One should not chant in a vehicle or on a bed.  One should not chant with ones back to an acharya or guru, a temple, a murti, water, fire or a pippal tree.

Cleanliness: One should have cleaned his teeth and mouth in the morning before bath. One should be bathed. One should have clean hands.

Dress: Ones cloth should be clean, i.e. freshly washed. One should be clothed in lower and upper cloth, wearing either kaupina or tri kaccha dhoti. One should not be wearing wet or damp cloth. one should have tilaka on twelve parts of the body. One should have sikha tied. One should not be wearing shoes.

Posture and Direction: One should stand facing east in the morning.One should stand facing the sun or sit facing east at noon. One should sit facing north or west in the evening.

Position of Hands: Ones hands should always be covered with a cloth when chanting the gayatri. Ones upper cloth may be used. The hands should not touch below the waist. If they do, one should wash them. Therefore, the dhoti or lower cloth should not be used to cover the hands. While counting the gayatri japa on the fingers, the fingers should be as straight as possible, and should not be open but held together with no spaces between them. According to the Vyasa Smrti one should chant the gayatri japa in the morning with the hands raised at nose level, with the palms held upwards. One should perform gayatri japa at noon with the hands at chest level with palms facing the heart. One should perform gayatri japa in the evening with the hands at navel level, palms facing downwards.

Forbidden Activities: One should not look here and there. One should not yawn, spit or doze. One should not talk. If an important person such as an acharya comes, one should interrupt ones japa, give proper reception to the person, and with his permission resume ones activities.

Types of Japa: The best mode of chanting the brahma gayatri is manasika, or in the mind, silently. Yajnavalkya says that one should meditate on the syllable of the mantra, the meaning of each word, and the meaning of the whole mantra, without moving the lips or tongue, without shaking the head or neck and without showing the teeth.

Number of Japa: The minimum number of times one should chant the gayatri mantra is ten times. One may chant 100 times or 1000 times.

Knowledge: One should know the meaning of the mantra being recited; aviditartha mantra anustheyartha prakasana samartha na bhavatiOne who does not know the meaning of the mantra will not be able to accomplish the goal which is intended by the chanting of the mantra. Yajnavalkya Smrti.

Meaning: Gayatri in the general sense refers to a type of stanza used frequently in vedic hymns, which consists of three parts of eight syllables each. The original and most famous verse in this form is the brahma gayatri, which was handed down by the disciplic line from Visvamitra Rsi.  All vedic mantras, of which the brahma gayatri is one, are eternal sound vibration of spiritual import. The Vedas are apaurseya; that is, not composed by any man at a certain point in history. The mantras of the Vedas are eternal representations of God in the form of sound, sabda brahma. Each mantra is a particular combination of sounds, words, meaning, rhythm, intonation or pitch, with a particular presiding deity and particular purpose. If one is not a shudra by nature, controlled by the mode of ignorance, by repetition of a particular mantra under authorized guidance, one can realize the spiritual purpose of the mantra. The first mantra is pranava "om". The Vedas glorify "om" as the origin of the whole material creation and as the origin of the Vedas. For this reason it is prefixed to every Vedic mantra. "Om" expands into the vyahrtis (bhuh, bhuvah, svah), which indicate the whole expanse of the creation: the earth and the lower planetary systems, the region of sky, and the upper planetary systems. The Vyahrtis then expand into the brahma gayatri mantra. The gayatri mantra expands into all the Vedas. The pranava, the vyahrtis and the brahma gayatri, combined together, are considered to be the essence of the Vedas and the most potent of mantras. Therefore repetition of these sounds has remained the corner stone of spiritual upliftment (upa nayanam) in vedic culture since time immemorial, transmitted confidentially to all men of the three upper varnas of the Aryan civilization, in order that they commit it to daily practice in a serious manner for the duration of their lives. The gayatri mantra is a verse constituted of sounds. These sounds are non different from the personality of Gayatri Devi, the consort of Vishnu. She is also called Laksmi, Sarasvati, Savitri, and Sandhya. After purifying oneself by acamana, pranayama, aghamarsana, nyasa and dhyana, one calls gayatri Devi from the sun planet into ones heart through meditation. Chanting of the gayatri mantra is worship of Gayatri Devi. By this worship one gains her mercy. By gaining the mercy of gayatri devi, the energy of the Lord, one can approach Vishnu. Vishnu is residing in the sun planet, as the object of meditation in the gayatri mantra. Vishnu is also residing in the heart. By chanting the gayatri mantra (the sound representation of Gayatri Devi), at the sandhyas (the time representation of Gayatri Devi) one gains the mercy of the Lord's energy. By her mercy one is able to penetrate through ignorance and realize service to Visnu. Therefore the purpose of chanting gayatri mantra is to lead the person to realization of the all powerful, omniscient Lord, and to act with that realization in daily life, in full Krsna consciousness. The mantra indicates Vishnu as the Supreme Lord, transcendental to the material creation, and indicates the jiva as the eternal servant of the Lord. Brahma Gayatri as explained in Agni Purana, commentary by Srila Jiva Goswami.  The Agni Purana discusses the brahma gayatri in order to show that the object of worship for all people is Vishnu alone. First, there is discussion of the name of the verse, which is called variously gayatri, savitri and sarasvati. These names also denote three consorts of the Lord. When these names are applied to the verse, they indicate that the verse itself is non-different from the energy of the Lord, a sound embodiment of his sakti.

The word gayatri is analyzed into two parts: gaya and tri. Gaya means to reveal and tri means the three vedas or the essence of the three vedas. thus gaya tri means to reveal the meaning of the three vedas. The essence of the three vedas is the cause of all life and consciousness, the ever-effulgent Lord Vishnu.. Thus, gayatri indicates that verse which reveals the Supreme Lord Vishnu; or the energy (consort) of the Lord, who reveals her Lord. The word savitr means the consort of savita. The word savita means that person who stimulates or inspires, and refers to the original cause of all beings and things. Savitri therefore means that verse or energy of the Lord who reveals or bestows Savita, the Supreme Lord. The word sarasvati refers to the goddess of knowledge and expression. Applied to the gayatri verse, it signifies that this verse is the essence of all verbal and artistic expression, the culmination and source of all knowledge.

What does the verse or energy of the Lord reveal? The words tat and bharga indicate the para brahman. Bharga means literally that which is effulgent and full of life and energy. It signifies the independent, self-effulgent source, who is situated much like the sun within this universe, which appears to the mundane eye as the independent source of all light. According to grammarians such as Panini, bharga means the source of all light. By this reasoning, the gayatri verse does not indicate sun worship, which is material, but rather worship of the ultimate, spiritual source of all light and life, the Supreme Lord. The import of bharga is further clarified by its modifier, the word varenyam. This word indicates the best amongst all forces or the personality who is the ultimate shelter, or paramam padam. Literally it means that which should be sought out or chosen by all people. The words om bhur bhuvah svah also indicate Vishnu. om is his sound representation, the root of the whole creation. Bhur, bhuvah and svah indicate the totality of all levels of existence in the universe, which is the effect of the Supreme Cause. The Agni Purana emphatically points out that savituh (the original cause) cannot refer to the sun, nor to fire, not to Siva nor to Siva sakti, but to Vishnu alone. Vishnu alone is all pervading, manifesting himself within all living beings, exhibiting his qualities through them, and yet is at the same time aloof. Thus he is known as brahma, the great source of everything. Savituh, meaning the original cause, can therefore refer only to Visnu. Devasya refers again to that personality who is divine and shining, who is transcendental to the dull material world. The verb dhimahi indicates our activity in relation to the Lord. Dhi means to hold in the mind or meditate. It is in the first person plural optative form and thus it means the we must all meditate or fix our minds on Vishnu. This is the duty of all intelligent living beings. Yah (changed by sandhi rule to yo), meaning "who" refers back to Vishnu, bharga. Nah meaning "our" refers again to all living entities. Pracodayat means 'may he inspire or impel us forwards." this indicates that Vishnu is the force who should bless us by taking us along the correct path of action in this word. the ordinary man acts and receives karma, but the Lord should impel us to act on His behalf, for His enjoyment. By His will we can go to heaven or hell, and by his wish we can become liberated from this world of samsara. Though Savita may refers to the sun, we should understand that Savita actually dwells in the sun planet; and whereas the sun planet is destructible, Savita or Vishnu is not. The sun planet is seen by the mortal eye, but Savita or Vishnu can only be seen through meditation and spiritual vision. Visnu is located in the sun planet; he is located in vaikuntha; and he is located in the heart. we may reach a transcendental vision of the Lord in the sun and the world and in his spiritual realm of vaikuntha by meditation in the heart, using the eternal sound of the gayatri mantra, the eternal consort of the Lord. Japa or repetition of the mantra constitutes worship of the consort. By the mercy of the Lord's consort we reach the Lord. With that realization we will be able to act in this world according to His will, for our duration of life, and, on giving up our bodies, we can attain his eternal abode, eternally free from birth, death, old age and disease. Summary: Let us meditate upon (dhimahi) the param brahma (tat), the cause of all causes (om) who creates, maintains and destroys all existence in the universe (bhur bhuvah svah), who is the independent source and primeval root of energy and life (bhargo), who is the shining (devasya) supersoul of the sun (savitur), who (yo) may guide (pracodayat) our intelligence (dhiyo nah) to reach the transcendental world.

The upavita is given to a person at the time of the upanayanam ceremony by the father of acharya with instructions on chanting the brahma gayatri and rules for leading brahmachari life. It is a sign of qualification for study of spiritual subjects. It is retained in grihastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa life, though paramahamsas may give it up, to show their renunciation of all signs of varnasrama.

Material and Color: Brahmana: cotton, white, Ksatriya: hemp, red, Vaisya: wool, yellow or cotton for all, white or yellow (the practice at present)

Number: Brahmacari: one set of three strings.  Grhastha: two sets or more. Vanaprastha: three sets (Vaikhanasa Sutra) Sannyasi: one (Manu) or four sets (Vaikhanasa Sutra) It is recommended that the householder wear at least three:

tritiyam uttariyarthe vastrabhave tad isyate chandrika

The third set of threads of the upavita is to take the place of the upper cloth in case one must perform a ceremonial function but is lacking the upper cloth.

Length: The upavita should not extend below the navel or above the breast. (Katyayana) rg vedi: the upavita passes between the navel and the breast. yajur vedi: the upavita extends to the navel.  sama vedi: the upavita extends as far as the elbow joint of the hanging arm.

Method of Making: The thread should be spun by a young brahmana girl or a brahmana. The thread should have three strands twisted together. The upavita should be tied with a brahma granthi.

Mode of Wearing: Upaviti: the normal mode of wearing, with the upavita hanging over the left shoulder. For worshipping the Lord it remains in that position. Praciniviti: the threads are worn over the right shoulder, when worshipping the pitrs, performing pitr tarpananas, sraddha rites. Niviti: the threads are hung around the neck like a garland, when performing ceremonies such as tarpanas for humans beings.

Changing thread:
The upavita should be replaced when it becomes damaged or impure. There are many variations in procedure for changing the thread. two acamanaspranayamasankalpa:...... tithau...... ksetre sri bhagavat priyartham yajnopavita dharanam karisye.  Stretching one set of new threads between the backs of the two hands, right hand on top facing upward and left hand on bottom facing down: Facing east or north: yajnopavitam ityasya mantrasya  brahma rsihtrstup chandahparamatma devata yajnopavita dharane viniyogah yajnopavitam paramam. pavitramprajapater yat sahajam purastatayusyam agryam pratimunca subhramyajnopavitam balam astu tejah.  One should then place the new thread on over the head. One should repeat the process for each set of threads (i.e.. twice or more for grihastha, four times for sannyasi).  Performing acamana, one should shed the old upavita, placing it in pure water saying:  upavitam chinnatantu jirnam kasmala dusitamvisrjami punar brahman varco dirghayur astu me

Use of the Thread:
Some persons use the thread to count their gayatri japa when chanting a large number of times. They use right and left hands to count to one hundred, and wind the thread around the thumb to record the hundreds. In chanting gayatri in lesser numbers, this practice is not necessary. Others hold the knot while chanting because they say it represents the power of brahman. Though there is no scripture reference to wrapping the thread around the thumb while performing gayatri japa or while performing acamana or puja rites, it is a common local custom in Bengal. Thus it may be done, but is not a necessity. The thread represents upper cloth, and is a symbol of vaidic initiation, or admittance into the upper three varnas as a twice- born individual.

Respect for the Upavita:
One should not be without his upavita at any time. One should not touch the upavita with contaminated hands. One should not break another persons upavita. It is considered a great offense, for which prayaschitta must be done. One should keep the thread (it may be in niviti position) over the right ear (pure at all times) while passing nature, since the thread remains pure in that position while the rest of the body is impure. After saucha is completed, the thread may be restored to its normal position.

Just as the qualified son is given brahma gayatri at the upanayanam samskara in accordance with Vedic rites, a qualified man or woman of any background, may be given pancaratrika gayatri and mantras in accordance with pancaratrika vidhi. Just as a person must chant his Vedic gayatri mantra daily at the sandhyas according to certain rules, so one must also chant ones pancaratrika mantras at the sandhyas according to rules. One should perform tantrika sandhya after the vaidic sandhya. Procedure for tantrika sandhya is described in Hari Bhakti Vilasa and is given in the practical manual. The rules for chanting are similar to the Vedic gayatri. The pancaratrika mantras should be chanted daily at the sandhyas. One should concentrate on the mantra and not engage in other activities simultaneously. One should be properly dressed, with clean cloth, tilaka, and tied sikha. The place should be clean and quiet. The hands should be covered. The japa should be manasika. The mantra should be chanted ten times minimum. One should know the meaning of the mantra being chanted.

Meaning of Kama Bija:  Just as oµ is prefixed to all mantras from the Vedic hymns, various bijas are prefixed to different pancaratrika mantras. one of these commonly associated with Krsna mantras is the kama bija. As "om" is endowed with energy, so these bijas are also endowed with energies to invoke the deity to which is corresponds. Prabhodananda Sarasvati states that this bija represents Krsna, Radha, and their relationship of love. By chanting this bija, one can gain access to their service. According to the scriptures, Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati has analyzed the meaning of the kama bija as follows:

K gives rise to water.
L gives rise to earth.
I gives rise to fire.
M (chandrabindu) gives rise to air and ether.

This bija is called "bhutatmaka" or consisting of the elements.

Gautamiya Tantra says that this bija gives rise to the universe: klimkarat asrjat visvam iti prahuh sruter girah. The sounds also represent various shaktis of Krsna, and various parts of the body.

K represents the face, head and throat.
L represents the eyes, ears and arms.
M (chandra bindu) represents the chest, back, waist, thighs, knees and feet.

K represents the nayaka or hero, Krsna.
L represents ananda or prema.
I represents the nayika or heroine, Radha.
M (Chandra bindu) represent kiss and embrace.

Gopala mantra: It is stated in the Brahma Samhita that Lord Brahma was initiated into the eighteen letter Krsna mantra, which is generally accepted by all the devotees of Lord Krsna. We follow the same principle because we belong to the Brahma sampradaya, directly in the disciplic chain from Brahma to Narada, from Narada to Vyasa, from Vyasa to Madhva Muni, from Madhva Muni to Madhavendra Puri, from Madhavendra Puri to Isvara Puri, from Isvara Puri to Lord Caitanya and gradually to His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, our divine master. The chanting of this holy mantra is the only shelter of the desireless pure devotee of the Lord. SB 2.9.6, purport. The gopala mantra is an example of a diksa mantra which is not in gayatri rhythm, which both chanted at sandhya time and used during puja. This diksa mantra was given to Lord Caitanya by his guru Isvara Puri when he was initiated at Gaya. He had previously undergone upanayanam and received the brahma gayatri as a child. This krsna mantra is glorified in pancharatra for its extraordinary powers. It is a direct glorification and meditation on Krsna, his form, qualities, and pastimes, establishing sambandha (krsna), abhidheya (govinda) and prayojana (gopijana vallabha).

Kama gayatri: There are many gayatris mentioned in pancaratrika scriptures, such as visnu gayatri, nrsimha gayatri, krsna gayatri. Kama gayatri indicates kama deva, but in relation to Krsna, it refers to the the Lord of prema. As the seed of the brahma gayatri is oµ the seed of the kama gayatri is the kama bija klim. Whereas the brahma gayatri is a meditation on the Supreme Lord in his functional aspect as Lord of all energies and as the creator, maintainer and destroyer of the universes, the kama gayatri is a meditation on the Supreme Lord in his ultimate aspect as Krsna, with specific name, form, qualities and pastimes. Whereas the brahma gayatri purifies a person of the material modes, removing material kama, the kama gayatri impels one towards the form of Krsna in Goloka with the experience of madhurya rasa. This is the form Gayatri Devi takes in the rasa lila, according Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. As in the gopala mantra, the meditation takes place in three stages: sambandha, by acknowledgment (vid) of the transcendental Cupid; abhidheya or worship (dhi) of Krsna, by which one can develop prema; and prayojana or prema, which impels one (pracodayat) spontaneously to Krsna. We know Kamadeva, the personality who enjoys pastimes with steady desire towards the object of his love. Let us meditate upon Kamadeva, possessed of flower arrows, with which he pierces the hearts of those who become the object of his desire. May Kamadeva inspire us to meditation and service. According to Prabhodananda Sarasvati, each syllable represents one of the moons on the body of Krsna, by which he enacts his pastimes. Klim represents the Lord.  kama are his two cheeks  deva are his mouth and forehead.  ya, a half moon, is his tilaka.  vidmahe, puspa are the five moons on the right hand.  vanaya dhimahe are the five moons on the left hand.  tan no'nanga are the five moons of his right foot.  pracodayat are the five moons of his left foot.  Thus the kama gayatri is a sound representation of the all- attractive form of Krsna. By chanting this mantra one should realize Krishna's sublime beauty.

NAMA JAPA (Chanting Hare Krsna on Beads)
Japa of the Holy Name is considered to be one type of kirtana, for internal, personal purification and development of attraction to Krsna. It is the essential item of devotional service as taught by Lord Caitanya, combining hearing, chanting and remembering the Lord's name.

Necessity of chanting:  Then the Bhattacharya asked Caitanya Mahaprabhu: Which item is most important in the execution of devotional service?

The Lord replied that the most important item was the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. CC Madhya v.2.p.334  yadyapi anya bhaktih kalau kartavya, tada kirtanakhya bhakti samyogenaiva. The other eight processes should be executed, but they must be preceded and followed by kirtana, the chanting of the holy name. CC Madhya v.6.p.53 from Bhakti Sandarbha, Jiva Goswami.

Unless one has come to the platform of spontaneous love of God, he must follow the regulative principles... he first regulative principle is that one must chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra loudly enough so that he can hear himself, and one must vow to chant a fixed number of rounds. CC Antya v.4.p.12

Rules for Nama Japa (chanting Hare Krsna on beads):
The rules given in scripture for chanting japa apply to the chanting of mantras (e.g. Gopala mantra). The holy name is not dependent on such rules for its effect. However, since many of these rules are for the purpose of concentration on the mantra, in chanting the Holy Name one may utilize these rules in order that one fix ones mind on Krsna and to avoid offense to the Holy Name. The hare krsna mahamantra, ... may be chanted at any place and any time, and this will bring results very quickly. Yet even while chanting the Hare Krsna mantra one may observe regulative principles. Thus while sitting and chanting one may keep his body straight, and this will help one in the chanting process; otherwise one may feel sleepy. SB 7.15.31.

Counting Japa:
One should count ones japa. To do this one may use fingers or beads:  anguly agresu taj japtam yaj japtam meru langhaneasakhyatan ca yaj japtam tat sarvam nisphalam bhavet.  Japa done on the finger tips, japa which passes over the head bead, and japa done without counting the number of times is all useless. Vyasa Smrti, HBV Ch.17, v. 135.

Mala (Japa beads):
According to the Varaha Purana one should use beads to count his japa. One who does not do so is considered asuric, whereas one who chants his mantras using mala becomes quickly favored by the Lord. One may have mala of twenty beads, fifty beads or one hundred and eight beads. The latter is the best type. Beads may be made of different materials, each with its own benefits. Thus there are conch, silver, gold, lotus seed, rudraksa, coral, pearl, and jewel beads. But beads made of tulasi are considered the best, as they yield all results to all people.  tulasi kastha ghatitair manibhir japamalikasarva karmani sarvesam ipsitartha phala prada (Gautama) The beads should be washed in pancha gavya before stringing.  The beads should be strung on cotton thread, with knots (preferably brahma granthi) tied between each bead. There should be an extra bead, called meru over which one should not cross in ones chanting. After the beads have been strung mala samskara should be performed.

Holding the beads:
The different fingers have different qualities: The thumb gives moksa. The forefinger is used for cursing. The middle finger gives perfection of dharma. The ring finger gives peace. The little finger gives siddhi. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas should chant on the beads using the thumb and middle joint of the middle finger. One should not touch the mala with the left hand of the forefinger. One should keep the beads and the hand covered, for when one chants with the beads uncovered, the bhutas, raksasas, and gandharvas steal the effect of ones chanting. The mala should not fall from the fingers. (this is usually due to inattention or dozing.)

Types of Japa:
There are three types of japa:  vacika: pronouncing the mantra so that it is audible.  upamsu: chanting the mantra so that it is audible only to the chanter.  manasika: chanting in the mind.   Diksa mantras should be chanted in the manasika manner, but the Holy Name may be chanted in any manner.

One should have brushed his teeth in the morning, for if one does not do so one is considered asuci, unclean. Kasi Khanda, HBV ch3, v.211)  One should be bathed.   pratah snanam vina pumsam papitvam karmasu smrtam   home jape visesena tasmat snanam samacaret.  If one does not take the early morning bathe (before sun rise) all of ones activities, especially japa and homa, become impossible to execute purely. Therefore one should take the early morning bathe. Kurma Purana.  Ones hands should be clean.

One should not be naked. (Note: one is considered naked if he wears only one piece of cloth; if he does not wear his dhoti in trikaccha style, or alternatively, with kaupina;, oil stained cloth, torn cloth, cloth too long or too short; if he wears dirty cloth. cotton is considered clean if washed in water and dried.  One should dress in two pieces of clean cloth as for puja): japa homopavasesu dhauta vastra dharo bhavet (Padma Purana HBV ch4, v.150)  For japa, homa, and fasting one should were a washed piece of cloth.  One should wear vaishnava tilaka. Ones sikha should be tied. Throat should be uncovered. Head should not be covered, by cloth, hat or turban. One should not chant with too little or too much clothing on. One should not wear shoes.

One should sit decently, with legs crossed and covered, not spread out. One should sit on a asana and face east. One should not lie down to chant japa. One should not shake the head and neck while chanting. One should not show the teeth.Place: One should not make a habit of chanting in dark places. One should chant ones japa in a crematorium (an impure place), on the open road, in a vehicle, on a bed. Time of chanting: One should not chant ones japa at night, but rather in the early morning. Chanting japa should be done early in the morning with full concentration preferably during the brahma muhurta. Concentrate fully on the sound vibration of the mantra pronouncing each name distinctly and gradually your speed in chanting will increase naturally. Do not worry so much about chanting fast, most important is the hearing. letter of Srila Prabhupada, Bombay, Jan.6, 1972  Number of rounds: The sixteen rounds is just a minimum I set for my disciples so they will chant at least that much. Actually chanting should always be going on. letter from Srila Prabhupada, Jun.25, 1974

Incomplete rounds:
If one cannot complete the fixed number of rounds he is assigned, he should be considered to be in a diseased condition of spiritual life. CC Antya v.4.P.11  Everyone should strictly follow the regulations of sixteen rounds daily. If one is busy for other Krsna consciousness activities and cannot fulfill the regular routine of chanting he must compensate it the next day, curtailing his activities in the matter of sleeping or eating or any other sense gratificatory process. letter from Srila Prabhupada Oct.11, 1969

One should not chant while carrying on a conversation. One should not chant while moving here and there, while shaking the body, while lying down. One should not chant while looking here and there. One should not chant while giving and receiving gifts. One should not chant with a troubled mind, being filled with anger or while afflicted with hungry. One should not chant while possessed of yawning, sneezing or hiccupping. One should withdraw the mind from objects of the senses, exclusively concentrate on the sounds of the mantra, meditate on the meaning of the mantra (relationship to Radha and Krsna), and remain undisturbed by any other thoughts or external situations. Through devoted concentration on the syllables of the Holy Name one should step by step realize the form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord.

Negligence in chanting:
There are two types of negligence.  Negligent utterance for the sense gratification of materialistic persons is not a vibration of transcendental sound. Utterance of the holy name while one engages in sense gratification is an impediment on the path toward achieving ecstatic love for Krsna. On the other hand, if one who is eager for devotional service utters the holy name even partially or improperly, the holy name which is identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, exhibits its spiritual potency because of that person's offenseless utterance. Thus one is relieved from all unwanted practices, and one gradually awakens his dormant love for Krsna. "The letters of the holy name have so much spiritual potency that they act even when uttered improperly." CC Antya V.1.p.236  Meaning of the Mantra: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.  Meaning (as explained by Gopala Guru Goswami, disciple of Svarupa Damodara of Puri): The word "Hare":  hari harati papani dusta cittair api smrtahanicchayapi samsprsto dahaty eva hi pavakahvijnapya bhagavat tattvam cid ghanananda vigrahamharaty avidyam tat karyam ato harir iti smrtahJust as the fire, on contacting an object, automatically burns it, so the name of Hari takes away (harati) or burns up all the sins of the people with materialistic hearts. It removes (harati) all ignorance and reveals the transcendental, blissful form of the Lord. Gopal Guru Goswami also says that Hari means that personality who attracts (harati) the minds of all the people in the universe by when they hear stories of his transcendental qualities, or he who attracts the minds of people by his beautiful youthful form. "Hari" in the grammatical form of address, (vocative, calling out of a person) becomes "hare". The word "hare" has another meaning.  svarupa prema vatsalyair harer harati ya manahhara sa kathyate sadbhih sri radha vrsabhanuja.  Hara is Srimati Radhika, daughter of Vrsabhanu, who steals (harati) the mind of Hari, Krsna by her unalloyed love. Hara, in the form of address, also becomes "Hare. "The word "Krsna": krsir bhu vacakah sabdo nas cananda svarupakahtayor aikyam param brahma krsna ity abhidhiyate.  The word "krsna" is composed of the root "krsi" meaning "bhu," the shelter of all existence and the word "na" meaning "nivriti" or the form of supreme bliss. Combined they form the word "krsna" which signifies the param brahma, the supreme personality of godhead with blissful form.  Krsna in the form of address remains as "krsna". The word "Rama": ramante yogino'nante nityanande cidatmaniiti rama padenaiva param brahmabhidhiyate.  The param brahma is known as Rama because the yogis take pleasure (ramante) in meditating on his eternal, blissful form.  vaidagdhi sara sarvasva murti liladhidevatamsri radham ramayan nityam rama ity abhidhiyate.  The Supreme Lord is called Rama because he carries out pastimes of pleasure with the most beautiful Sri Radha.  Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare  Oh Radha, please attract my mind, and free me from this material world.  Oh Krsna, please attract my mind.  Oh Radha, attract my heart by showing your sweetness.  Oh Krsna, purify my mind by giving knowledge of how to perform worship of you through your pure devotee.  Oh Krsna, give me steadiness to appreciate your name, qualities and pastimes.  Oh Krsna, may I develop a taste for serving you. Oh Radha, please make me qualified for your service.  Oh Radha, please instruct me one how I can serve you. Oh Radha, let me hear of your intimate pastimes with your beloved.  Oh Rama (Krsna), let me hear of your intimate pastimes with your beloved.  Oh Radha, reveal to me your pastimes with your beloved.  Oh Rama, reveal to me your pastimes with your beloved.  Oh Rama, engage me in remembering your name, form, qualities and pastimes.  Oh Rama please make me qualified for your service.  Oh Radha be pleased with me.  Oh Radha be pleased with me.

Vaidik, Pancaratrika Mantras and Hare Krsna:
According to the pancaratrika philosophy, vaidic initiation with brahma gayatri (upanayanam) is insufficient by itself to stand as spiritual sadhana for Kali yuga. In this age, without following the regulations of pancaratrika diksa (initiation into visnu or krsna mantras), spiritual progress is very difficult. In this age, the vedic mantras will bear fruit only if chanted along with the pancaratrika mantras. Therefore in order to worship the deity one must not only have upanayanam, but pancharatrika or vaisnava diksa. Additionally, even without undergoing upanayanam, a person who has pancaratrika diksa is permitted to worship the deity.  Lord Caitanya has however emphasized that sravana and kirtana of the the Hare Krsna mantra as the principle sadhana, superceding chanting of vedic or pancharatrika diksa mantras. The Holy Name is independent of diksa.  no diksam na ca sat kripyam na ca purascaryam managa iksate.  Chanting the holy name does not depend on initiation, pious activities or the purascharya regulative principles generally observed before initiation. The holy name does not wait for all these activities. It is self-sufficient. CC Madhya V.6, p.59, verse by Srila Rupa Goswami, PadyavaliIt may be given out to and chanted by all people without restriction. Thus the Holy Name may be utilized in public chanting, sankirtana. The Holy Name therefore functions as a practical preaching instrument in Kali yuga. At the same time Lord Caitanya has also emphasized, and shown by his personal example, that those interested in spiritual progress must take Vaisnava (pancharatrika) initiation. Though the Holy Name itself is independent of diksa vidhi, the majority of serious aspirants in spiritual life need the pancharatrika process of initiation to tame the restless mind and assist in the purification process. Thus both taking up the chanting of the Holy name and receiving pancharatrika mantras from a bona fide guru have been fundamental to the movement of Lord Caitanya.

Vaidic initiation (upanayanam samskara) on the other hand has not been given a crucial role for several reasons. Over the centuries the vaidic initiation has become a formality performed by a family priest on behalf of the father, with little spiritual significance and no training under a guru in the gurukula. As well, it has also been misconceived as a ceremony based on birth right: if one is born in a brahmana family, one is entitled to be initiated as brahmana no matter what qualities one may have. As well the upanayanam rites connote the excessive rules of varnasrama, which impede bhakti on the level spontaneous love for Krsna. Lord Caitanya however never rejected the Vedas or the rules of varnasrama. Those who require those rules for their spiritual development should practice them. Thus, those on the level of sadhana bhakti should follow those rules of varnasrama which purify body and mind and thus aid the development of pure bhakti. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami has written Sat Kriya Sara Dipika as a samskara manual for Vaishnavas, and included in it the upanayanam ceremony, or Vaidic diksa. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur implemented this Vaidic diksa samskara according to the pancharatrika philosophy that the initiated Vaisnava surpasses the brahmana in qualification. Thus anyone who is qualified for pancaratrika initiation qualifies also for the Vaidic initiation, regardless of family or background. When he gave Vaisnava mantra (pancharatrika initiation), he also gave the vaidic mantra (brahma gayatri, vaidic initiation). He was of course criticized by the orthodox followers of varnasrama for superceding the conventional rules of caste by birth, and he was criticized by some Gaudiya Vaishnavas for emphasizing varnasrama vidhi over raga (spontaneous love). His act was simply a confirmation of pancaratrika theory of the superior nature of the Vaisnava, and an attack on the misconceptions of casteism. The Upanishads and Mahabharata give examples of those who, though from low family, were initiated as brahmanas. As well he restored the samskara to its original significance as a spiritual samskara, which may assist the devotee on the level of sadhana bhakti. Thus the practicing devotee chants the Hare Krsna mantra, pancaratrika mantra and vaidic mantra.

The purpose of Samashrayanam - Panch samskara diksha

Since the first sense impressions of the day leave a lasting impression on the mind, one is advised to gaze upon auspicious items and avoid looking upon inauspicious items. The following items are auspicious:  a brahmana, ones chaste wife, a cow, a sacrificial fire, rochana (yellow pigment), sandalwood paste, mrdanga, mirror, jewels, guru (elders and teachers), and the sun. The following are inauspicious: any person who is sinful, blind, disfigured, or naked; crows, rats, cats, and asses. The Lord is the most auspicious to see. Therefore it is advised that on waking in the morning, one should chant the Lord's name, meditate on his form, qualities and pastimes, and visit the temple to see the form of the Lord and His first worship of the day. This makes ones whole day Krsna conscious. One is advised to perform the mangala aratrika of the Lord after waking Him in the morning, but if that is not possible one should at least see the worship at this time.

strinam pumsam ca sarvesam etat sarvesta purakamsamasta dainya darikdrya duritady apasantikrt.

By worshipping the Lord at mangala aratrika the desires of all men and women become fulfilled, and all sorrows, poverty, and sins are destroyed. Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.3, V. 152

aradhanasamarthas ced dadyad arcana sadhanamyo datum naiva saknoti kuryad arcana darsanam.

One who can perform the worship of the deity personally should give items for worship. One who cannot give items for worship should see the worship of the Lord, Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.11, V.52 from Agastya Samhita

nirajanantvidam sarvaih kartavyam suci vigrahaihparama sraddhayotthaya drastavyam ca sada naraih.

One should always perform the early morning aratrika to the deity, and if one cannot do it personally, then at least one must rise and with devotion see it being performed. Narada Pancharatra.  Whereas one may have difficulty in meditating on the Lord's form, pastimes and qualities early in the morning, by attending mangala aratrika one can engage the eyes in seeing the wonderful forms of Radha and Krsna, one can engage the ears in hearing their names, one can engage the tongue in chanting the Lord's name, and one can engage the whole body in dancing for His pleasure. In this way, by such complete engagement of the senses, one is sure to remember the Lord early in the morning and make the whole day auspicious (mangala). Therefore attendance at mangala aratrika is a necessity for the serious devotee: Please institute these most important points of attending mangala aratrika and chanting 16 rounds. These are the most important points of Krsna consciousness process. letter from Srila Prabhupada, Calcutta, Feb.13, 1972.  All men who live in the devotee rooms must attend mangala aratrika or starve. letter from Srila Prabhupada Giriraj, Bombay.

Going to the temple, seeing the deity with great devotion and seeing the aratrika and worship of the Lord are among the angas of devotional service (direct means of developing bhakti) mentioned by Srila Rupa Goswami in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu. At the aratrika and after, one should engage in the the following angas of devotional service: singing songs before the deity, performing sankirtana before the deity, dancing before the deity, worshipping the deity, paying obeisances to the deity, circumambulation of the deity, drinking charanamrta and accepting the prasad flowers of the Lord on ones head.

NRTYA (dancing):
By dancing for the pleasure of the Lord a person can employ his whole body in devotional service. The devotee of Vishnu who dances in joy destroys all inauspiciousness in the earth by his feet, in all directions by his glance, and in svarga by his hands. Hari Bhakti Sudhodaya.  One who dances joyfully and with great attention and devotion turns hundreds of sinful births to ash. Dvaraka Mahatmya, Hari Bhakti Vilasa, Ch 8. V.287.  All the sins of those who dance before the deity while playing karatala fly from their bodies like birds. Vishnu Dharmottara Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.8, V.291.

When the devotees are dancing no one should remain sitting and watching and no one should come between the Lord and the dancers. That person who remains sitting and watches the devotees dance will be born lame birth after birth. Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.8, v. 252-3. Dancing should be done enthusiastically by raising hands. All of Lord Caitanya's followers used to dance with raised hands. If someone dances with ecstasy, that is all right, but is is better to dance with raised hands. letter from Srila Prabhupada, Kirtanananda Swami, Nov.10, 1975. While dancing, a person on the level of sadhana bhakti one should as a rule maintain reverence and avoid deity offenses, such as pointing feet disrespectfully at the deity, keeping ones back to the deity, acting or thinking irreverently etc.

GITA (singing songs for the Lord's pleasure):
One should use the voice to sing melodious tunes glorifying the Lord. The songs may be about the Lord's activities or the activities of the devotees. One should not sing unauthorized songs. The words or songs of a person not fixed in vaisnava behavior, not strictly following the rules and regulations and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra should not be accepted by pure devotees. SB6.16.33. The devotee should absorb his mind in the Lord and sing for the Lord's pleasure, but should not sing to earn his living. No one should come between the the devotee singing and the deity, who is receiving the song. The songs may be accompanied by instrumental music and dance. The songs may be according to raga suited for that part of the day and season. There may be singing at all times for the Lord but especially at the sandhyas (sunrise, noon and sunset) and on special days such as ekadasi or festivals.

Loudly proclaiming the lord's names, lilas, and qualities is called kirtana. Kirtana may also take the form of lectures, reciting scripture or explanations of Krishna's glories. When this is performed by a group of devotees it is called sankirtana. Kirtana is the main process of devotional service. Though one should perform the other eight angas of bhakti in kali yuga, one should perform them along with kirtana. As it says in Srimad Bhagavatam, yajnair sankirtanaih prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah (The intelligent men of kali yuga will worship the Lord by sankirtana). This indicates the superiority and independent nature of sankirtana. Jiva Goswami, Krama Sandarbha. Of the types of kirtana, nama kirtana, or chanting.

Hare Krsna is the best:
Then the Bhattacharya asked Caitanya Mahaprabhu: Which item is most important in the execution of devotional service? The Lord replied that the most important item was the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. CC Madhya v.2.p.334

Nama sankirtana is the best process of preaching in Kali yuga.

yagnaih sankirtana prayair yajananti hi su medhasah

In execution of nama kirtana or nama sankirtana one should chant the authorized names of Krsna: Not liking the chanting of His transcendental qualities, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chastised them as if He were angry. "What kind of chanting is this?" He asked. "Are you leaving aside the chanting of the holy name of the Lord?"
Purport: Thus Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chastised all the devotees, telling them not to show impudence and spoil the entire world by becoming independent. CC Madhya V.1. vv270-271.

Regarding kirtana during the aratrika, Srila Prabhupada has taught his disciples to chant:

sri krsna caitanya prabhu nityanandasri advaita gadadharasrivasadi gaura bhakta vrnda

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

The Hare Krsna mantra as taught by Lord Caitanya himself, should be the main element of the kirtana. All the words should be pronounced and heard distinctly in their proper order. One person should sing the mantra alone, and then the group of devotees should sing the same mantra together in response.  In addition, at the first aratrika in the early morning Gurvastakam by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti should be sung first, in the standard melody for that time of day. At the evening aratrika the Gaura Aratrika by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur should be sung.

Names of the Lord for all occasions:
One should chant the names of the Lord all day while engaging in ones activities.

The following names have specific potencies.
madhusudana: for purification.
vasudeva: when bathing, doing puja, homa, parikrama,
pranamarama, parasurama, nrsimha visnu, trivikrama: for victory over enemies.
balabhadra: at the commencement of battle
hrsikesa: for dispelling fear
narayana: when sneezing, falling, in drought and excessive rain, during eclipses or inauspicious times
nrsimha: for warding off wild animals or bandits
jalasayi, visnu: when there is a fire

sri nrsimha jaya nrsimha jaya, jaya jaya nrsimha: for destroying the effect of killing a brahmana
rama: for success
pursottama: for success in scholastic pursuits
ajita, dhipa, sarva, sarvesvara: for success in business
halayudha: when starting an agricultural venture
cakri, gadi, sarngi, khadgi: for beginning a journey
pundarikaksa, keshava: for relief to the eyes
acyuta, marta, visnu: for gaining best effect from medicine
garuda dvaja: to stop the effects of poison
visnu: when rising from bed
madhava, padmanabha: when taking rest
govinda, janardana: when eating
prajapati: at a wedding
varaha: when in the water
nrsimha: when in a forest
raghunandana: when on a mountain
madhava, vasudeva: for all activities

PUJA:  Guru Puja:
Before beginning the daily worship of the Lord the scriptures prescribe that one must worship the spiritual master. As one must respect the spiritual master in the same way that one respects the Lord, the procedure for worship follows the method of worship of the Lord, that is, by offering asana, foot water, arghya, achamana, madhuparka, bath, cloth, thread, gandha, flowers, incense, lamp and mahaprasadam. This is described in the archana section. If one does not have opportunity to personally perform guru puja he can at least perform mental worship, and participate in the guru aratrika at the conclusion of the guru puja.

Deity Puja:
One should perform worship of the deity (archana) according to pancaratrika vidhi.

Who should perform worship of the deity?
According to scripture, all initiated householders should engage in deity worship.

It should be performed by means of rightfully obtained wealth and with a pure heart: ayam svastyayanam pantha dvijater grhamedhinahyacchraddhayapta vittena suklenejyeta purusah (S B 10.84.37) This is thus a nitya kriya or daily activity prescribed for the householder to engage his body and mind in serving the Lord. As the rules for this nitya kriya are extensive, they are explained in a separate section. If one cannot maintain such worship, one should give materials for worship to one who is executing such worship, and he will gain half of the results of that worship. If one cannot give donations for worship, then one should take darshana of the deity while aratrika is being performed, and in that way one can accrue the benefits of deity worship. Thus after the morning worship has been completed by the assigned pujaris the general devotees should view the srngara aratrika being offered to the Lord.

PARIKRAMA or PRADAKSINA (circumambulation):
To walk around a person clockwise, showing ones right side to the person is a mode of showing respect. Here one utilizes the whole body to give worship to the Lord. One may circumambulate the deity, the temple or the Lord's ratha. One should not circumambulate someone else in front of the deity, as a matter of etiquette, for by doing so one will have to show ones back to the Lord. One should not circumambulate Vishnu only once. One should circumambulate Vishnu four times. Candi accepts one circumambulation, surya seven, ganesa three and siva one half (like a crescent moon). Circumambulating the whole temple only once is allowed. One should perform pradaksina while performing kirtana. After circumambulating one should pay pranamas.

PRANAMA (paying obeisances):
One should bow down immediately upon seeing the deity. Offering respect by lowering the body is called pranama. Nrsimha Purana says that prostration before the Lord is the best of yajnas. As it is a physical expression of complete surrender to the Lord and indicates offering ones head beneath the Lords lotus feet.

One should offer pranamas to the Lord out of respect on entering the Lord's temple, when having darshana of the Lord, before and after worshipping the deity (it is counted as the sixteenth upachara or item of archana), or after meditating on the Lord. One should the same form of respect to the followers (parishad such as Garuda, Hanuman) of the Lord, advanced Vaishnavas, brahmanas and sannyasis.

Types of Pranama:
Panchanga pranama (using five limbs) consists of touching the ground with two knees, two arms, head; with mind intent on surrender; and with tongue offering words of submission.
Astanga pranama (using eight limbs) consists of touching two arms, two feet, two knees, chest and head to the ground, with eyes half closed, with mind thinking that ones head is at the lotus feet of the Lord, and with tongue uttering words of submission. According to some, women should only perform the five limbed pranama, since there is an injunction that women's breasts should not touch the earth (due to their sacredness, life giving potency for feeding generations).

Men may perform either.

Before the puja, after the offering of upacharas and after the japa one may offer five limbed pranama, but at the conclusion of puja one should offer eight limbed pranama.

According the Kurma Purana, the hands should be crossed, with the thought that ones right hand is touching the right foot of the Lord and ones left hand is touching the left foot of the Lord. It is offensive to touch only one hand on the ground. Words: Words of submission may be "prasida bhagavan" (Oh Lord, please accept my service, be satisfied with me) or suitable pranama prayer. Pranama prayers usually have the word "namah" (or its derivatives "namas" and "namo") or "pranamami"

Ones head and upper body should not be covered with a cloth. Anyone who offers respects and obeisances to the deity while wearing garments on the upper portion of his body is condemned to be a leper for seven births. CC Antya v.4.p.68

One should be in a pure state when offering or accepting pranamas.

One should face different directions for offering pranamas to different personalities. One should approach from the Lord's right side and pay pranama showing ones left side to the deity. One should show ones right side in paying pranamas to Siva and Parvati, and one should directly face the spiritual master when paying pranamas to him.

One pranama is insufficient. One should offer three times or any greater uneven number of times. Not only the head, but the whole body should be lifted after each pranama.

In paying respects to many people in a gathering, one should offer pranamas only once:

sabhayam yajna salayam devatayatanesv apipratyekan tu namaskaro hanti punyam purakrtam (Brhannaradiya Purana)

One should not pay obeisances to individuals while they are in an assembly, in a yajna arena or in a temple of the Lord. One should offer ones respects once only for all of the vaishnavas. If one fails to act in this manner one will lose all his previous punya.

Out of respect, one should not pay pranamas directly in front of the deity, nor behind the deity, nor too close to the deity, nor in the deity room. The deity of the Lord and the spiritual master should be seen from a distant place. This is called maryada. Otherwise, as is said, familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes coming too near the deity or the spiritual master degrades the neophyte devotee. Personal servants of the deity and the spiritual master should therefore always be very careful, for negligence may overcome them in their duty. CC Madhya v.5.p.105  To maintain the conception and mood that the Lord is the supreme object of worship and respect according to the rules of vaidhi bhakti one should not offer respects to others in the presence of the deity. For this reason worship and pranamas to tulasi is done with deity curtains closed. According to the rules and regulations, no one should accept obeisances in the temple of the Lord before the deity. Nor is it proper for a devotee to offer obeisances and touch the feet of the spiritual master before the deity. This is considered an offense. The point is that even though one plays the part of a spiritual master, he should not accept obeisances or permit a disciple to wash his feet before the deity. This is a matter of etiquette. CC Madhya v.5.p.60

Drinking charanamrta and placing on ones head is an anga of bhakti mentioned by Srila Rupa Goswami. Charanamrta is the water which has been used to wash the body of the Lord during the daily worship. Sometimes the offered footwash, achamana, arghya (if it does not contain inedible items), madhuparka and bath water are combined and offered for drinking. Items which have not been offered to the deity should not be added to the charanamrta just to make a palatable drink. As an anga of arcana the pujari should drink charanamrta at the conclusion of the puja. It is offered to the general devotees any time after the morning puja is completed. One should accept charanamrta in ones right hand, drink some and place some on ones head saying:

akala mrtyu haranam sarva vyadhi vinasanamvisnoh padodakam pitva sirasa dharayamy aham

I drink and place on my head the foot water of visnu, which cures all diseases and prevents untimely death.

Charanamrta should not fall on the floor or feet, since it is respected as the Lord. Thus some people hold a cloth under the right hand when they receive the charanamrta. If is also offensive to wash out the mouth after drinking charanamrta.

Taking the used garlands, flowers and tulasi leaves (nirmalya) sandalwood paste from the Lord's body and touching them to the head is called nirmalya dharana. It is one of the angas of bhakti and also the concluding anga of arcana, after circumambulation, pranama and drinking charanamrta. This anga is often performed at the end of the puja when all the items used by the Lord are collected and distributed, but it may be performed independently whenever one receives the Lord's remnants. All items related to the deity are worshippable. Some items (such as clothing and ornaments) are kept for long periods for the use of the deity while other items such as sandal wood paste, tulasi leaves, charanamrta, naivedya, are enjoyed by the Lord and then distributed to the devotees. Nirmalya refers to the flowers and tulasi which have previously been worn by the deity. The nirmalya, the old flowers from the previous night, must be removed from the Lord at the dawn before the sunrises. The longer one delays the more sins and suffering one incurs. This means that one must wake the Lord and begin caring for him by removing the old garlands by the first light of dawn. This rule does not apply to tulasi. Being related to the deity, used flowers and tulasi, candana, old deity clothing and old deity ornaments are sacred and must be respected properly. Upon receiving them one should touch them to ones head and say "Mahaprasadam." By touching them to ones head one shows ones surrender to the Lord in the same manner as when giving pranamas (obeisances). That should be ones mentality at the time. One may wear the garlands or clothing on the upper part of the body, but they should not touch below the waist. Such flowers, tulasi leaves etc. should never be stepped upon or touched by ones feet, touched by contaminated items or thrown in unclean places. They may be discarded in a body of clean water after use. Lamps and incense offered to the deity should be respected in the same way. If the lamps are not distributed amongst the crowd of devotes, when the lamps are waved in the direction of the crowd one should mentally touch the lamps and then touch ones head. The lights should not be forcibly extinguished. One may rub the smoke from the incense on the upper part of ones body.

Serving the tulasi plant is one of the angas of devotional service, classified as tadiya seva (service to things dear to the Lord) along with service to scripture, the dhama And vaishnavas. Tulasi is glorified and worshiped because she is the sakti or energy of the Lord, like the gopis and Radha, by whose mercy one can gain the favor of Krsna. One serves tulasi by planting, caring for, watering, worshiping the plant and plucking leaves. Though all people may not be prepared for full worship of tulasi they can derive the benefit by observing her worship or aratrika. Worship: One may offer as many articles as possible using the system for offering upacaras saying the mantra "om tulasyai namah", as well as special prayers for some items. The items listed below are those listed in Hari Bhakti Vilasa, though one may perform worship using sixteen items. A simple tulasi puja may consist of dhupa, dipa, puspa, water, circumambulation and pranama. It should be performed while the deity is closed from view, since it is an offense to worship anyone else in front of the deity.

Puja Mantra:
nirmita tvam pura devaih arcita tvam surasuraihtulasi hara me'vidyam pujam grhna namo'stu te.

Oh tulasi, formerly you were created by the devas and now both demigods and demons worship you. Please remove my sins and accept what I offer in worship. I pay my obeisances unto you. Arghya Mantra: sriyah sriye sriyavase nityam sridhara sat krtebhaktya dattam maya devi arghyam grhna namo'stu te.  You are the shelter and abode of Laksmi, and Sridhara adores you eternally. Please accept this arghya which I have given in devotion. I pay my obeisances to you.  idam arghyam om tulasyai namah offer arghya water.

Bathing Mantra:
om govinda vallabham devim bhakta chaitanya karinimsnapayami jagad dhatrim krsna bhakti pradayinim

I now bathe tulasi, the dear most of Govinda, the giver of life to the devotees, the support of the universe, and bestower of Krsna bhakti.

idam snaniyam om tulasyai namah   - Sprinkle water on tulasi.
ete gandha puspe om tulasyai namah  - gandha and flowers
esa dhupah om tulasyai namah - offer incense.
esa dipah om tulasyai namah - offer lamps.
idam sri krsna charanamrtam om tulasyai namah -  offer Krishna's charanamrta.
idam mahaprasada-nirmalyadikam sarvam om tulasyai namah - offer Krishna's prasad, garlands, water etc.
idam achamaniyam om tulasyai namah - offer achamana.

Pranama mantras:

mahaprasada janani
sarva saubhagya varddhini
adhi vyadhi hara nityam
tulasi tvam namo'stu te.

I pay my obeisances unto tulasi, the mother of mahaprasada, the increaser of all auspiciousness and the remover of all illness.

om vrndayai tulasi devyai priyayai keshavasya ca visnu bhakti prade devi satyavatyai namo namah

I pay my obeisances unto Vrnda, Tulasi Devi, the dear devotee of Keshava, Satyavati (the most chaste woman), the bestower of devotion to Krsna.

DHAMA SEVA (Service to the Dhama):
One should serve a sacred place like Mathura, Vrindavana, Puri or Dvaraka (abodes of the Lord), and the bank of the Yamuna or Ganga. These are places where the Lord resided and performed wonderful pastimes. The Dhama is a manifestation of the sat potency or the energy manifesting eternal existence, and provides the support for the Lord's appearance and pastimes. The Dhama acts as an agent of purification for the fallen souls and is under the direction of Balarama. Dhama seva and other types of tadiya seva are included in padasevana, or serving the lotus feet of the Lord, one of the nine processes of devotion glorified by Prahlada Maharaja. One obtains the perfection of remembering when one constantly thinks of the lotus feet of the Lord. Being intensely attached to thinking of the Lord's lotus feet is called pada sevanam. When one is particularly adherent to the process of pada sevana, this process gradually includes other processes such as seeing the form of the Lord, touching the form of the Lord, circumambulating the form or temple of the Lord, visiting such places as Jagannatha Puri, Dvaraka and Mathura to see the Lord's forms, and bathing in the Ganges or Yamuna...

Services to Vaishnavas, tulasi, Ganga and Yamuna are included in pada sevanam. SB7.5.24

Types of Dhama Seva:
Serving the Dhama consists of hearing about, remembering, glorifying, desiring, observing from afar, going towards, touching, taking as ones shelter, repairing and cleaning the Dhama. Of these forms of dhama seva, Rupa Goswami considers taking shelter of the dhama, or residing in Mathura mandala as one of the five most important angas of bhakti. If one is fortunate and pure enough to reside permanently in the dhama of the Lord, many aspects of seva will be daily (nitya kriya), whereas if one does not permanently reside in the dhama, service in the form of observing from afar, going towards, taking as ones shelter, repairing and cleaning, will be more irregular. Hearing about the dhama, glorifying and desiring the dhama, however, may always be daily, even if one is not living in the dhama.

When going to a sacred place the following rules should be observed: The pilgrims take bath, worship the deity, and give in charity; they are also recommended to fast one day. They should go to a place of pilgrimage and stay there at least for three days. The first day is spent fasting, and at night they can drink a little water because water does not break the fast. Krsna book I.p.226  Those who have not attained the stage of spontaneous love for Krsna should not live in Vrindavana very long. It is better for them to make short visits. One should also avoid climbing Govardhana Hill to see the Gopala Deity. CC Antya V.4.p.137  One who intends to visit Vrindavana should follow the ideal footsteps of Akrura and always think of the pastimes and activities of the Lord. As soon as one reaches the boundary of Vrindavana, he should immediately smear the dust of Vrindavana over his body without thinking of his material position and prestige. Krsna book, I.p.248

Navadvipa pranama mantra:
navina sri bhaktim nava kanaka gaura krti patimnavaranya sreni nava sura saridvat balitamnavina sriradha hari rasa mayotkirtana vidhimnavadvipam vande nava karuna madhyan nava rucim.

Vrndavana pranama mantra:
ananda vrnda pari tundila mandirayaananda vrnda pari nandita nandaputramgovinda sundara vadhu pari nanditam tadvrndavanam madhura murttam aham namami.

 Govardhana pranama mantra:
saptaham evacyuta hasta padmake bhrngayamanam phala mula kandaraihsamsekyamanam harim atma vrndakair govarddhanam tam sirasa namami.

Srila Rupa Goswami has mentioned only the four primary types of tadiya seva. Everything related to the Lord should be respected as expansions of the Lord. Thus the Holy Name, wherever it is written, (on paper, cloth etc), should not be disrespected by touching with the feet or lower body. Similarly pictures or representations of the Lord's form should not be defiled. If we throw pictures this way and that way, that is offense. The name and picture are a good as the person in the spiritual world. In the material world, either picture or person, everything is illusion, Jadurani, Sept.4, 1972

SASTRA SEVA (service to scripture):
Service to the scriptures consists of worshipping, studying and hearing the scriptures.

Definition of Sastra:
rg yajuh samatharvam ca bharatam pancharatrakammula ramayanam caiva shastram ity abhidhiyateyac canukulam etasya ta ca sastram prakirtitamato' nya grantha vistaro naiva sastram kuvartma tat.

The four Vedas--rg, yajus, sama and atharva, Mahabharata, the original Ramayana, and Pancharatra are called sastra or scripture. As well, all those books which share the same purport (puranas, smrti sastra) are considered as sastra (that which teaches the law of God).

All other books are not scripture but false doctrines which simply lead one on the wrong path.

Madhvacharya on the Vedas:
The four Vedas are Rg, Yajur (Krsna and Sukla), Sama, Atharva. Of these the first three are considered the principal works, the Atharva containing mainly hymns for protection from disease and calamity. Among the samhita or mantra portion of the Vedas, the Rg Veda contains verses in praise (rg) of the Lord, which were intended to be recited aloud at the time of worship for the pleasure of the Lord. The Yajur veda consists of verses and prose which were to be uttered softly at the time of sacrifice (yajus). There are two versions of the text: Taittiriya Samhita or Black Yajur (in which the hymns and the Brahmana portions for practical use are merged) and Vajasaneyi Samhita or White Yajur (in which the hymns and brahmana portions are clearly defined). The Sama Veda consists of metrical verses which are to be sung at the time of sacrifice using the different notes of the musical scale. Each of the Vedas has been transmitted in disciplic succession by a number of different sages. Thus each veda may have a number of different sakhas or sampradayas who chant the hymns in a particular manner. The term "veda" often refers not only to the samhita or mantra portions containing the hymns, but also to the Brahmanas (the works utilized by brahmanas or priests during the sacrifices) and Aranyakas (composed in the forest) attached to each Veda. They contain explanations of the meanings of the hymns and rules for use during sacrifice. The word "Sruti", meaning that which is heard, in the strictest sense refers to the Mantra and Brahmana portion of the Vedas, which were simply heard as the word of God, but not composed by mortal man, and handed down by the rsis.

Attached to the Aranyakas are the Upanishads (doctrines which lead one to realization of the Lord), containing the ultimate spiritual import of the Vedic hymns. There are a hundred and eight principal upanishads. These are also sometimes accepted as sruti. Sutras: Based upon the Brahmanas are the Srauta Sutras (derived from sruti), which are concise compilations (sutras) of rules for performance of sacrifice; and based upon what was handed down in tradition are the Grha Sutras, and Dharma Sutras, concise rules for household duties (samksaras, nitya kriyas), and social duties respectively. Among the Grha Sutras, Asvalayana and Sankyayana grha sutras belong to the Rg Veda, Manava, Apasthamba, Hiranyakeshi and Vaikhanasa Grhasutras belong to the Black Yajur Veda, Katyayana Grha sutra belongs to the white Yajur Veda and Khadira, Gobhila, and Gautama Grha Sutras belong to the Sama Veda school.

Closely related to the Vedas are the works meant for preserving the Vedas, called the vedangas: siksa, for phonetics and pronunciation; chandas, for knowledge of meters; vyakarana, for knowledge of Vedic grammar; nirukti, for study of meaning of Vedic words; jyotis, for selection of proper time for ceremony; and kalpa, for practical use of the mantras in ceremony.

Smrti Sastras:
Dealing with the same subject as the Dharma Sutras (also called Smrti Sutras) are the Smrti or Dharma Shastras, which deal extensively with conduct within the varnas and ashramas. These are regarded the a codes of law for mankind. The word smrti (remembered as tradition by certain sages and recorded by them) is sometimes used in contrast to sruti (the Vedas, having no human author, but directly heard by the rsis) works other than the sruti. In that sense the smrti sometimes means all the sacred works other than the Vedas. In a more narrow sense smrti refers to the dharma sastra, the laws of conduct for mankind. A follower of such laws is called a smarta. The smrti shastras or dharma shastras are eighteen in number written by Manu, Yajnavalkya, Atri, Vishnu, Harita, Sukra (Usanas), Angiras, Yama, Apastamba, Samvarta, Katyayana, Brhaspati, Parasara, Vyasa, Sankha, Likhita, Daksa and Gautama. Some of these works are quoted in Hari Bhakti Vilasa.

ratram ca jnana vachanam jnanam pancha vidham smrtamtenedam pancharatram ca pravadanti manisinah.

Ratra means knowledge. There are five types of knowledge: satisfaction of the senses, yoga, birth and death, liberation and devotion to Krsna.

Narada Pancharatra
pancharatrasya krtsnasya vakta tu bhagavan svayam.  The Supreme Lord is the speaker of the pancharatra scriptures.

The pancharatra scriptures are accepted as authority by Sri Ramanuja, Madhvacharya and Lord Chaitanya. These scriptures explain the different expansions of Vishnu, establish the supremacy of Vishnu, explain Vaisnava diksa, Vaisnava conduct, rules for deity worship, festivals, establishing deities, and establishing and building temples. Puranas: The Puranas and the itihasas (historical records) --Mahabharata and Ramayana --are sometimes called the fifth Veda.

rg yajuh samatharvaakhya vedas chatvara uddrtahitihasa puranam ca pancamo veda ucyate SB 1.4.20.

This is confirmed by the Chandogya Upanishad and Brhad Aranyaka. Srila Jiva Goswami states in the Tattva Sandarbha that this means that the puranas and itihasas share the the same distinguishing characteristics as the other Vedas. The puranas are named as such because they make the Vedas complete (purana): "puranat puranam." As it is not possible to make the Vedas complete by anything which is also not Veda or which does not have the same goal as the Vedas, the puranas must be accepted as non-different from the Vedas, the only difference being that the Vedas have svara or intonation.

The puranas, like the Vedas must be considered apauruseya or not written by mortal man but stated by God himself, like the srutis (Vedas), and cannot be relegated to a secondary position. Though the puranas appear to have been composed by Vyasa deva (who is also avatara of the Lord), they are rather abbreviations and divisions into eighteen parts of eternal knowledge for the understanding of the common people of Kali yuga. (Matysa Purana) Srimad Bhagavatam (Twelfth Canto) lists the eighteen chief puranas: brahma, padma, visnu, siva, linga, garuda, naradiya, bhagavata, agni, skanda, bhavisya, brahma vaivarta, markandeya, vamana varaha, matsya, kurma and brahmanda.

They are classified as follows, according to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana:
Sattvika: visnu, naradiya, Bhagavata, Garuda, Padma, Varaha.
Rajasika: brahmanda brahma vaivarta, markandeya, bhavisya, vamana, brahma.
Tamasika: matsya, kurma, linga, siva, skanda, agniIn the sattvika puranas, Vishnu is the main object of glorification.

In the rajasika puranas, brahma is mainly glorified, and in the tamasika puranas, siva, durga and agni are mainly glorified. The Sattvika Puranas are predominant in spiritual knowledge. Of these, The Bhagavata Purana is recognized as the sum and substance of all the puranas and the explanation of the Brahma Sutras. This is established by Skanda, Matsya, Padma, and Garuda Puranas, as well as by the Srimad Bhagavatam itself. Thus Srila Rupa Goswami has recommended listening the Srimad Bhagavatam as one of the most important activities of devotional service.

Worship of Scripture:
One may worship Srimad Bhagavatam according to the method outlined in the puja section, or more simply offer incense, lamp, candana, flowers, mala and pranama. One should also respect the scriptures at all time, never stepping on or over them, never placing them in a low or unclean place, never criticizing or hearing criticism of them. Studying the Scriptures: After the worship of the Deity in the morning the civilized person should study from the bona fide scriptures, and if one is qualified one should teach the scriptures. This is an essential element of sad acara, the activities of a devotee of Sri Krsna.

sruti srmti ubhe netre vipranam parikirtiteekena vikalah kano dvabhyam andhah prakirtitah.

The Sruti and Smrti scriptures are the two eyes of the vipra. If one is lacking in knowledge of one of them he is like a one eyed man; if he has knowledge of neither he is no better than blind. Hari Bhakti Vilasa, Ch.9, V.247

na veda patha matrena santusyed esa vai dvijahyathoktacara hinas tu panke gaur iva sidati.

Everyone should read. I am also reading. Everyone should be engaged 24 hours. That is the sum and substance. How much you should read and how much you should do other types of service, that has to be decided by each individual devotee. Eating and sleeping should be minimized--not a single moment should be misused. letter from Srila Prabhupada to Govardhana, Feb.15,1975.  Your first job should be to make sure that everyone of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly our literature and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krsna conscious philosophy. If they are fully educated in our philosophy and if they can get all of the knowledge and study it from every viewpoint, then very easily they will perform tapasya or renunciation and that will be their advancement in Krsna consciousness. letter from Srila Prabhupada, Satsvarupa, June 16, 1972.

One who studies must ultimately act according to scripture:

yo'dhitya vidhivad vedam vedartham na vicarayetsa candhah shudra kalpas tu padartham n prapadyate.

One should not be content just to recite the scriptures. If one does not behave according to the scriptures is in the same disastrous position as a helpless cow sinking in a muddy hole. One who performs his prescribed study but does not come to the proper conclusions is equivalent to a shudra or a blind man. Hari Bhakti Vilasa, Ch.9. V.249-50

Hearing the Scriptures:
Sravana consists of hearing the Lord's glories in the form of song, mantra, and scripture, but the hearing of Srimad Bhagavatam is most glorified: Sravana consists of hearing the names, forms, qualities and pastimes of the Lord and his devotees. Hearing the Lord's name is necessary in order to purify the heart of the neophyte. When purification is accomplished, one should hear about the Lord's form. By hearing about the Lord' s form one attains suitability to realize the Lord's form. When by continued hearing one realizes the Lords form, by hearing about his qualities one should realize the Lord' variegated qualities. Finally when the Lord' s name, form, and qualities have been realized in detail, one realizes the pastimes of the Lord. Of all things to hear, Srimad Bhagavatam is the best. Krama Sandarbha, Srila Jiva Goswami

We must always remember that hearing and chanting are the basic principles of discharging devotional duties, and if they are properly performed there will follow the reactional ecstasy with signs of tears in the eyes and standing of the hairs on the body.... If the reaction does not take place, even after continuous hearing and chanting of the holy name of the Lord, it may be considered to be due to offenses only. That is the opinion of the sandarbha. SB2.3.24  The two processes of sravana and kirtana are of primary importance to progressive spiritual life. Only one who has properly grasped the transcendental knowledge from the right source by submissive hearing can properly explain the subject. SB1.1.6

Qualification for Hearing:
Ardent hearing from the bona fide master is the only way to receive transcendental knowledge, and there is no need for medical performances or occult mysticism for miraculous effects. The process is simple, but only the sincere party can achieve the desired result. SB1.12.3  Those who listen to the Bhagavatam may put questions to the speaker in order to elicit the clear meaning, but this should not be done in a challenging spirit. One must submit questions with a great regard for the speaker and the subject matter. SB 1.1.5

Effects of Hearing:
By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.  Here is the remedy for eliminating all inauspicious things within the heart which are considered to be obstacles in the path of self realization. The remedy is the association of the bhagavatas.

There are two types of Bhagavatas, namely the book bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata. Both Bhagavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles. A devotee Bhagavatam is as good as the book Bhagavata because the devotee Bhagavata leads his life in terms of the book Bhagavata.... bhagavata book and person are identical. SB1.2.18...  transcendental topics of the Lord act like injections when received by the sincere devotee from a person who is perfectly uncontaminated by material tinges. ...When a hungry man is given food to eat, he feels satiation of hunger and the pleasure of......  .simultaneously. Thus he does not have to ask whether he has actually been fed or not. The crucial test of hearing Srimad Bhagavatam is that one should get positive enlightenment by such an act. SB2.4.6  Therefore hearing Srimad Bhagavatam every day is the recommended program for spiritual advancement.

VAISNAVA SEVA (serving the Vaishnavas):
Of all types of people to whom respect, reception, service and worship should be offered, the true Vaishnava, regardless of his varna or ashrama, his age or position in society, is the most deserving, for his the most advanced in spiritual knowledge. Serving vaishnavas is an important anga of devotional service is the active element of sadhu sanga or association with devotees. Service to vaishnavas (vaisnava seva) consists of such things as giving a seat to a Vaisnava (reception), washing his feet (respect), hearing from him and assisting him in any way. Practically speaking, that vaisnava will be ones spiritual master, or any similarly spiritually advanced vaisnava.

1. The Vaisnava:
One should respect all Vaishnavas, and should associate with all true Vaishnavas, but one should perform seva or service, as mentioned above, to the advanced Vaisnava. Thus, in relating with other devotees, one must learn how to recognize devotee from non devotee, how to recognize the different standards of devotees and how to behave with the different types of devotees. In that way no offense will be committed, one will gather the fruits of true association or sadhu sanga, one of the most important factors for ones progress in devotional service.  General Character of the Vaisnava:  Sri Krsna dasa Kaviraja, the author of Chaitanya charitamrta, says that all good qualities become manifest in the body of a Vaishnava and that only by the presence of these good qualities can one distinguish a Vaishnava from a non-Vaishnava:

sarva mahaguna gana vaisnava sarirekrsna bhakte krsnera guna sakali sancare

A Vaishnava is one who has developed all good transcendental qualities. All the good qualities of Krsna gradually develop in Krishna's devotees. Cc Madhya V.8, p.369

yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincanasarvais gunais tatra samasate surahharav abhaktasya kuto mahad gunamano rathenasati dhavato bahih

In one who has unflinching devotional faith in Krsna, all the good qualities of Krsna and the demigods are consistently manifest. However, he who has no devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead has no good qualifications because he is engaged by mental concoction in material existence, which is the external feature of the Lord. SB 5.18.12

titiksavah karunikahsuhrdah sarva dehinamajata satravah santahsadhavah sadhu bhusanah.

Devotees are always tolerant, forbearing and very merciful. They are the well wishers of every living entity. They follow the scriptural injunctions, and because they have no enemies, they are very peaceful.  These are the decorations of devotees. SB 3.25.21

krpalu akrta droha satyasara, samanirdosa vadanya mrdu suci akincanasarvopakaraka

akama niriha sthira vijita sad gunamitabhuk apramatta manada amanigambhira karuna maitra, kavi, daksa mauni.

He is very kind to everyone.  He does not make anyone his enemy. He is truthful.  He is equal to everyone. No one can find any fault in him. He is magnanimous. He is mild. He is always clean. He is without possessions. He works for everyone's benefit. He is very peaceful. He is always surrendered to Krsna. He has no material desires. He is very meek. He is steady. He controls his senses. He does not eat more than required. He is not influenced by the Lord's illusory energy. He offers respect to everyone. He does not desire any respect for himself. He is very grave. He is merciful. He is friendly. He is poetic. He is expert. He is silent. CC Madhya V.8 P371  Of these characteristics, the principal characteristics (svarupa): surrendered to krsna, and the concomitant characteristics (tatastha) are all the others.

mahat seva dvaram ahur vimuktestamosvaram yositam sangi sangammahantas te samacittah prasantavimanyavah suhrdah sadhavo yeye va mayise krta sauhrdarthajanesu dehantara vartikesugrhesu jayatmaja rati matsuna priti yukta yavad arthas ca loke

Service to the great souls is the door to liberation from the material world, and association with women is the door to hell. Those who regard all as their friends, who are satisfied in worshipping the Lord, who are devoid of anger, who recognize devotion to me as the goal of life, who have no taste for the talks of those who are attached to eating and drinking, who have not affection for house, family, wealth and sons, who have no desire for accumulating more than to support their bodies are termed mahat. SB 5.2.2.-32. Three grades of Vaishnavas:  One can recognize a Vaishnava from a non vaishnava by the presence or absence of the above general characteristics. However, devotees of varying degrees of advancement will manifest these qualities in different degrees. The first class devotee will manifest all of the characteristics. The symptoms for discerning the level of advancement of the devotees are given below.

Broadly speaking there are two categories of Vaishnavas:
ordinary and real (transcendental). There is a third category, the person who appears to be a Vaisnava but is not.

The ordinary Vaishnavas are of three classes: those who believe in the philosophy but do not practice strictly; those who accept the markings of a vaisnava and respect the vaishnavas but do not practice strictly; and those who are from Vaisnava acharya families and wear the marks of a Vaisnava but do not practice strictly.

Real:  One is a real vaisnava to the extent that ones devotion is pure and genuine, and can be distributed in the same manner to others. One attains the status of a real Vaisnava when pure Krsna bhakti appears in the heart even to a very small degree.

False Vaishnava:
At the same time one should not give the respect due to a Vaishnava to a person who is not a Vaishnava of the two categories mentioned above. Such people, called fraudulent Vaishnavas, are those who wear the marks of a vaishnava for deception, such as those who disguise themselves as vaishnavas to introduce impersonalism and those who act as Vaishnavas for material enjoyment, money or position. These people should always be avoided. They are no different than materialists. They may be treated with the respect that one should offer to all men. Sri Caitanya Siksamrta Tritiya Vrsti, Dvitiya Dhara, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur

Real Vaisnavas:
The real Vaishnavas may be subdivided according to chanting of the Holy Name, according to faith and according to realization of Krsna. In relation to the chanting of the Holy Name, Sri Caitanya has described three types of Vaisnavas:

a. prabhu kahe yanra mukhe suni ekabarakrsna nama pujya sei srestha savakara.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "whoever chants the holy name of Krsna just once is worshippable and is the topmost human being." ...Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna once, a person becomes perfect. Such a person is understood to be a Vaishnava. With such faith and belief, one may begin a life of Krsna consciousness, but an ordinary person cannot chant the holy name of Krsna with such faith. .... One should understand that the name Krsna and Krsna are identical. Having such faith, one must continue to chant the holy name.

b. krsna nama nirantara yanhara vadanese vaisnava srestha bhaja tanhara carane.

A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is to be considered a first class Vaishnava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur says that a vaishnava who is constantly chanting the holy name of the Lord should be considered to have attained the second platform of Vaisnavism.

Such a devotee is superior to a neophyte vaishnava who has just learned to chant the holy name of the Lord. A neophyte devotee simply tries to chant the holy name whereas the advanced devotee is accustomed to chanting and takes pleasure in it... Generally a devotee in the intermediate stage becomes a preacher. A neophyte devotee or an ordinary person should worship the madhyama bhagavata who is a via medium...The madhyama adhikari devotees should exchange obeisances between themselves. CC Madhya v.6.p.195

c. yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna namatanhare janiha tumi vaisnava pradhana

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "A first class vaisnava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Krsna."If an observer immediately remembers the holy name of Krsna upon seeing a vaishnava that vaishnava should be considered a maha bhagavata a first class devotee. Such a vaishnava is always aware of his krsna conscious duty, and he is enlightened in self realization. He is always in love with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna and this love is without adulteration. Because of this love he is always awake to transcendental realization.

A neophyte and intermediate devotee should always be anxious to hear the mahabhagavata and serve him in every respect. CC Madhya v.6.p.197. Comparing the depth of faith of the devotees practicing sadhana bhakti, Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu has given the following classification of devotees:

a. yo bhavet kamala sraddhahsa kanistho nigadyate

One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte, but by gradually following the process, he will rise to the platform of a first class devotee. Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu 1.2.19

b. yah sastradisv anipunahsraddhavan sa tu madhyamah

One who has attained the intermediate stage is not very advanced in sastric knowledge, but he has firm faith in the Lord. Such a person is very fortunate to be situated on the intermediate platform. Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu 1.2.18

c. sastre yuktau ca nipunahsarvatha drdha niscayahpraudhu sraddho' dhikari yahsa bhaktav uttamo matah

One who is expert in logic and understanding of revealed scriptures, and who always has firm conviction and deep faith that is not blind, is to be considered a topmost devotee in devotional service. Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu 1.2.17

According to their realization of the Krsna, Srimad Bhagavatam has listed the following types of devotees:

a. arcayam eva haraye yah pujam sraddhayehatena tad bhaktesu canyesu sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah

A prakrta or materialistic devotee does not purposefully study the sastra and try to understand the actual standard of pure devotional service. Consequently he does not show proper respect to advanced devotees. He may, however, follow the regulative principles learned from his spiritual master or from his family who worships the Deity. He is to be considered on the material platform, although he is trying to advance in devotional service. Such a person is a bhakta praya or bhaktabhasa, for he is a little enlightened by Vaisnava philosophy. but does not show proper respect to the devotee and to others is known as a materialistic devotee. SB11.2.47.

This type of Vaishnava may be classed as an ordinary Vaishnava rather than a real Vaishnava, but is qualified by some faith in the Lord.

b. isvare tad adhinesu balisesu dvisatsu caprema maitri krpopeksa yah karoti sa madhyamah

An intermediate, second class devotee shows love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is friendly to all devotees and is very merciful to neophytes and ignorant people. The intermediate devotee neglects those who are envious of devotional service. SB11.2.46.

The second class devotee, even though he cannot support his position with sastric reference, can gradually become a first class devotee by studying the shastras and associating with a first class devotee. However, if the second class devotee does not advance himself by associating with a first class devotee, he makes no progress. CC Madhya V.8p.366

c. sarva bhutesu yah pasyed bhagavad bhavam atmanahbhutani bhagavaty atmany esa bhagavatottamah

A person advanced in devotional service sees within everything the soul of souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. Consequently he always sees the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of all causes and understands that all things are situated in Him. SB11.2.45

With great love and affection, the mahabhagavata observes the Supreme Personality of Godhead, devotional service and the devotee. He observes nothing beyond Krsna, Krsna consciousness and Krishna's devotees. The maha bhagavata knows that everyone is engaged in the Lord's service in different ways. He therefore descends to the middle platform to elevate everyone to the Krsna conscious position. CC Madhya V6, p.1983.

Necessity: One should associate with real Vaisnavas.

krsna bhakti janma mula haya sadhu sangakrsna prema janme tenho punah mukhya anga

The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krsna is association with advanced devotees. Even when one's dormant love for Krsna awakens, association with devotees is still most essential. CC Madhya V8, p373

The value of a moment's association with the devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which are for those who are meant for death. SB1.18.13

Srila Jiva Goswami in his thesis Bhakti Sandarbha (202) has stated that uncontaminated devotional service is the objective of pure Vaishnavas and that one has to execute such service in the association of other devotees. By associating with devotes of Lord Krsna one develops a sense of Krsna consciousness and thus becomes inclined toward the loving service of the Lord. This is the process of approaching the Supreme Lord by gradual appreciation in devotional service. If one desires unalloyed devotional service, one must associate with devotees of Sri Krsna, for by such association only can a conditioned soul achieve a taste for transcendental love and thus revive his eternal relation with Godhead in a specific manifestation .....

Consequence of avoiding association with devotees:
The living entity is a social animal, and if one gives up the society of pure devotees, he must associate with nondevotees (asat sanga). By contacting nondevotees and engaging in nondevotional activities a so-called mature devotee will fall victim to the mad elephant offense. Whatever growth has taken place is quickly uprooted by such an offense. One should therefore be very careful to defend the creeper by fencing it in; that is, by following the regulative principles and associating with pure devotees. CC Madhya v.7.p.340

Types of Association:
According to ones own level of advancement one will behave in a particular way, and according to the level of advancement of the other devotee one will behave in a particular way.The inexperienced devotee, not being able to differentiate the types of devotees, must simply take shelter of the spiritual master with faith and follow the rules and regulations to the best of his ability. He should be trained to respect all Vaishnavas, but should remain under the shelter of the spiritual master or one appointed by him . By the mercy of the spiritual master he can advance to the intermediate stage.The devotee in the highest category, as he is beyond the level of sadhana bhakti, does not depend upon following rules of respect for his advancement. However by nature he sees everyone equally as devotees of the Lord, and internally will give all respects to all. He may make distinctions only for practical purposes. The devotee on the intermediate level (madhyama adhikari) is qualified to differentiate types of devotees and as stated in the verse above from Srimad Bhagavatam, he treats them in the proper way so that he may advance in sadhana bhakti. To the less advanced devotees he should show compassion; to equals he should show friendship; and to superior devotees he should offer all respects and services, and hear his instructions with great submission. The non devotees he avoids. The pure devotee should execute devotional service by giving the greatest respect to the spiritual master and the acharyas. He should be compassionate to the poor and make friendship with persons who are his equals, but all his activities should be executed under regulation and with control of the senses. 3.29.17

It is advised that an advanced devotee should be tolerant. He should show compassion to persons who are ignorant or innocent. A preacher devotee is meant to show mercy to innocent persons who can be elevated to devotional service. Everyone by constitutional position, is an eternal servant of God. As for a devotee's treatment of other devotee who are his equals, he should maintain friendship with them. His general view should be to see every living entity as part of the Supreme Lord. It is said, therefore, that a saintly person is always tolerant and merciful, he is a friend to everyone, never an enemy to anyone, and he is peaceful. SB4.11.13

Thus with sincere but less advanced devotees the madhyama adhikari should give respectful treatment and give good instructions for advancement in devotional service. With equals he should be straightforward, respectful and friendly. He should live together with them, take prasadam together and sing the name of the Lord together and share realization of Krsna together. To the advanced category of Vaisnava he should offer all types of respect and worship with great devotion, and should offer him worship and service to the best of his ability (vaishnava seva). And most important, in the association of the advanced devotee he should practice the devotional anga of sravana, hearing from him Srimad Bhagavatam with great attention.

krsnet yasya giri tem manasadriyetadisasti cet pranatibhis ca bhajantam isamsusrusaya bhajanan vijnam ananyam anyanindadi sunya hrdam ipsita sanga labdhya

One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna (kanistha adhikari); one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation and is engaged in worshiping the deity (madhyama adhikari); 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 (uttama adhikari). Srila Rupa Goswami Nectar of Instruction

Treatment of Vaishnavas--Respect:
All vaishnavas may be shown respect. Srila Bhaktivinode says that one should give outward respect to the ordinary Vaishnava (listed above. According to the level of the devotee being received, the respect may be more elaborate. This will be according to the procedures outlined for respect and reception of guests. Thus to the lowest class of Vaishnava and to the ordinary Vaishnava one should offer at least polite words, and give outward respect, but one may avoid their association. Even if one is a vaisnava, if he is not of good character his company should be avoided, although he may be offered the respect of a Vaishnava. Anyone who accepts Vishnu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is accepted as a Vaisnava but a Vaisnava is expected to develop all the good qualities of the demigods. SB3.29.16

Necessity of Showing Respect:
To other types of Vaishnavas, at least one must offer sincere respect in the proper way and friendship.

vaisnavo vaisnavam drstva dandavat pranamed bhuviubhayor antara visnuh sankha chakra gadadharah

Vaisnavas, on seeing one another, should pay their obeisances to each other without reservations, for both should be conscious that Vishnu is residing within both of them.

Tejodravina Pancaratradrsta bhagavatam daivat sammukhe yo na yati hina grhnati haris tasya pujam dvadasa varsikim

If one sees a devotee of the Lord but does not approach and respect him properly the Lord will not accept ones puja for twelve years. Skanda Purana

A devotee of the Lord does not demand respect from anyone, but wherever he goes he is honored by everyone throughout the whole world with all respect. SB4.9.47

tatas ca vaisnavah praptah santarpya vacanamrtaihsad bandhur iva sammanyo'nyatha dosa mahan srmtah

When a vaisnava comes one should treat him as a friend and say kind words. To do otherwise is a great fault.

vaisnavam cagatam viksyabhigamyalingya vaisnavamvaidesikam prinayeyur darsayantah sva vaisnavan

When one sees a devotee coming from another locality one should go to him, embrace him, introduce him to ones fellow vaishnavas and make him feel comfortable. Brhad Naradiya Puranavipram bhagavatam drstva dinam aturam anasamna karoti paritranam kesavo na prasidati

One who sees a devotee of the Lord in great trouble and anxiety but does not relieve him of his troubles reaps the displeasure of the Lord. Hari Bhakti Vilasa

The householder should sincerely welcome the vaisnava to his house according to the rules of reception.

yo na grhnati bhupala vaisnavam grham agatamtad grham pitrbhis tyaktam smasanam iva bhisanamathavabhyagatam durat yo narcayati vaisnavamsvasaktya nrpa sardula nanyah papa ratas tatah
Skanda Purana

If one does not receive a vaisnava who has come to ones house, that house becomes like a crematorium, which the forefathers will avoid. There is no greater sinner than one who does not receive according to his means a vaisnava who has come from a distant place.

Respect must be shown to all living entities by just treatment:
That the Lord is represented in everyone's heart is a fact, and therefore the highly advanced devotee offers his respects to every living entity, considering that the body is the temple of the Lord. Krsna Book, II.P.175   In regards to human beings, one should offer respect according to the person's position. One should show respect to a person superior by wealth, relationship (father mother, uncle etc) by age, by varna (brahmana, kshatriya etc.), and by knowledge (teacher, guru).

It is a vedic custom that the junior members of the family should offer respects to the elderly persons every morning. The children or the disciples especially should offer their respects to the parents or spiritual master in the morning. Krsna book. II .p.217

As father and mother, they should be offered proper respect according to social custom, but you cannot accept their non-godly instructions. Best thing to avoid misunderstanding, is to remain silent without any affirmation or negation of their instructions. letter from Srila Prabhupada, San Fransisco, Mar.29, 1968

You must treat your father as respectfully as myself. Even if you re sometimes ill-treated, you should tolerate. That should be your policy; also that you will never agree to your father's demoniac principles, but still you will try to serve him as faithfully as a nice obedient son. letter from Srila Prabhupada, Los Angeles, Nov.22, 1968

People in general must always respectfully honor saintly persons. It is ordered that as soon as one sees a vaishnava, or even a sannyasi, one should immediately offer respects to such a holy man. If one forgets to show respect in this way, one must observe a fast for that day. This is a vedic injunction. One must be extremely careful to refrain from committing offenses at the lotus feet of a devotee or saintly person. SB9.9.6.

It is enjoined therefore, that a householder who does not bow down before a saint at once must undergo fasting for the day in order to neutralize the great offense. SB1.19.33

Most important for the Vaishnava is that he show respect to other Vaishnavas:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then finally advised, "One who is chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is understood to be a Vaishnava; therefore you should offer all respects to him."  An advanced devotee should respect a person who has been initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and who is situated on the transcendental platform of chanting the holy name with faith, and obeisances, and following the instructions of the spiritual master. ...One may be initiated and yet contaminated by the Mayavadi philosophy, but a person who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly will not be so contaminated. A properly initiated Vaishnava may be imperfect, but one who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly is all-perfect...It is the duty of the householder to offer respects to such an unalloyed Vaishnava. CC Madhya v.6.p.60, verse and purport

When a learned person stands up or offers obeisances in welcome, he offers respect to the supersoul, who is sitting within everyone's heart. It is seen, therefore, among Vaishnavas, that even when a disciple offers obeisances to his spiritual master, the spiritual master immediately returns the obeisances because they are mutually offered not to the body but to the Supersoul. SB 4.3.22

As soon as He saw Narada enter the palace, Krsna got down immediately from Rukmini's bedstead and stood up to honor him. Lord Krsna is the teacher of the whole world and in order to instruct everyone how to respect a saintly person like Narada Muni, Krsna bowed down, touching his helmet to the ground. Not only did Krsna bow down, but he also touched the feet of Narada and with folded hands requested him to sit on his chair....When therefore he washed the feet of the sage Narada and took the water on his head, Narada did not object, knowing well that the Lord did so to teach everyone how to respect saintly persons. Krsna Book II.p.101

As soon as the sages and ascetics arrived all the kings...immediately got up from their seats and offered their respects by bowing down to the universally respected sages. After this, the sages were properly welcomed by being offered seats and water for washing their feet. Palatable fruits, garlands of flowers, incense, and sandalwood pulp were presented and all the kings led by Krsna and Balarama worshiped the sages according to the Vedic rules and regulations. Krsna Book IIp.207

One should clean the reception area and decorate with auspicious items such as mango leaves, banana trunks, mangala ghatas (water pots), lamps, ranguli (floor designs made with powder or rice flour paste).As the king entered the gate of the city, all the citizens received him with many auspicious articles like lamps, flowers and yogurt. The king was also received by many beautiful unmarried girls whose bodies were bedecked with various ornaments, especially with earrings which collided with one another. SB4.21.3

One should go out to meet the exalted vaisnava.One should respect the mahabhagavata as follows:

1. pratyutthana:
rising from a sitting position when the superior approaches.
2. abhivadana: identifying oneself by name and offering greetings .aham bho ..........(his name) abhivadaye (My name is........) The superior must reply by giving blessings:ayusman bhava saumya (May you live long, Sir.)
3. pranama (namaskara): prostration on the ground, with five or eight limbs, touching the superior's feet with crossed hands.
4. puja: worship may be simple or complex in form. One should offer sandalwood and flowers or garlands. One should offer a seat to the vaishnava. One should wash his feet with cool water, and place that water on ones own head and on the heads of others present. One should offer food and water. If food is unavailable, then simply water may be offered. One should offer kind words. One should perform any other services for his comfort such as chamara and fan. One may offer worship according to the rules of archana:

Pancha Upachara:
Perform all purificatory rites (purvanga karma, such as bhuta suddhi) according to puja manual)

Acarya Dhyana Manasa Puja Mantra:
One may use guru mula mantra (for ones own guru), om parama gurave namah (for the guru of ones guru), om paratpara gurave namah (for the guru of the guru of ones guru, grand guru),om maha gurave namah (great grand guru), om paramesthi gurave namah (for the great great grand guru) if the mantras apply. Or use the name in the dative case with namah (or svaha) for other personalities.

esa gandhah + mantra
idam sa gandha puspam + mula mantra
esa dhupah + mula mantra
esa dipah + mula mantra
idam naivedyam + mantra
esa puspanjali + mantra (all assembled devotees may offer flowers and pranamas three times)

One should offer pranama using prayer of acarya:eg.

namo om visnu padaya krsna presthaya bhutalesrimate bhaktivedanta swamin iti namine

namaste sarasvati devam gaura vani pracarinenirvisesa sunyavadi pascatya desa tarine

om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakayacaksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

One may also perform aratrika with nama kirtana:

sri krsna caitanya prabhu nityanandasri advaita gadadhara sri vasadi gaura bhakta vrnda

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare harehare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

or Dasa Upacara (offering ten items):

Dhyana Manasa Puja

etat padyam + mantra
idam arghyam+ mantra
idam achamaniyam + mantra
esa madhuparkah + mantra
idam achamaniyam + mantra
esa gandhah + mantra
idam sa gandha puspam + mantra
esa dhupah + mantraesa dipah + mantra
idam naivedyam + mantra
esa puspanjali + mantra (all assembvled devotes may all offer flowers and pranamas three times)

nama om visnu padaya etc.
om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakayacaksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

Aratrika and kirtana:

sri krsna caitanya prabhu nityanandasri advaita gadadhara sri vasadi gaura bhakta vrnda

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare harehare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

or Sodasa Upacara Puja (offering sixteen items):
(items in parentheses are additional)
Dhyanam Manasa Puja

idam asanam + mantra
svagatam su svagatam + mantra
etat padyam + mantra
idam arghyam + mantra
idam achamaniyam + mantra
esa madhuparka + mantra
idam achamaniyam + mantra
idam snaniyam + mantra
idam vastram + mantra
(idam tilakam) + mantra
idam abharanam + mantra
esa gandha + mantra
idam sagandha puspam + mantra
esa dhupah + mantra
esa dipah + mantra
idam naivedyam + mantra
(idam paniyam) + mantra
(idam achamaniyam) + mantra
(idam tambulam) + mantra
esa puspanjali + mantra (all assembled Vaishnavas may participate ate this time by offering flowers and pranamas three times)

nama om visnu padaya etc.
om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakayacaksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

Aratrika and Kirtana:
sri krsna caitanya prabhu nityanandasri advaita gadadhara sri vasadi gaura bhakta vrnda
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare harehare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

One should distribute sumptuous prasadam to all present. If the worship described above is not possible then one should offer aratrika with kirtana and distribute prasadam.

5. dana: giving gifts, such as cloth, gold, money, grains.  One should then offer the guest a private place to rest.  One should accompany the guest when he leaves, at least out the premises or yard.

Pratyutthana, abhivadana, and pranama are commonly performed before elders, parents and teachers, while puja and dana are reserved for special occasions (eg. weddings, sacrifices) and for guru.

If one is in an impure state, such as eating, bathing,, or with shoes one or head covered, one should not offer or receive respects.  If a superior is in an impure state or situation where he cannot respond properly, one should delay in offering respects to him, until he can respond properly.

Reception of a Sannyasi:
If the guest is a sannyasi one may add the following elements to the welcome procedure:
One should establish a mangala ghata (see samskara manual) with water, leaves and coconut, and worship the Lord in the pot with as many articles as possible.  The mangala ghata should be presented to the sannyasi, who should touch it.

One should recite the sannyasa sukta:

na karmana na prajaya dhanenatyagenaike amrtatvam anasuh
parena nakam nihitam guhayam
vibhrajate yad yatayo visanti vedanta vijnanasuniscatarthah
sannyasa yogad yatayah suddha sattvahte
brahma loke tu paranta kaleparamrtat parimucyanti
sarvedahram vipapamam paravesma
bhutamyat pundarikam pura madhya samsthamtatrapi dahram
gaganam visokastasmin yad antas tad upasitavyamyad
vedadau svarah proktovedante ca pratisthatahtasya prakrti linasyayah parah sa mahesvarah

One can attain eternal life in association with the Lord, not by ones own pious activities (as recommended in the karma khanda section of the vedas), nor by the pious activities of ones sons, nor by accumulation of any type of wealth, but only by renunciation of all enjoyment for oneself and offering everything to the Supreme Lord. That state of perfection, which is attained by the real sannyasis, is situated far beyond this world, and is difficult to reach for the ordinary man. The sannyasis, having realized the actual conclusion of the Vedic statements, having giving up personal sense enjoyment for engagement in the Lord's service, and being completely cleansed of the material modes, at the end of their lives become freed from the material world and enter that Vaikuntha realm.  There is a lotus situated within the body, in the middle of the heart, a place free from all suffering. It is the spiritual sky, free from all material contamination and lamentation. There resides the object of our worship. Who is proclaimed at the beginning of the Vedas, and is firmly established at the end of the Vedas, who stands beyond the material world, who is second to none, He is the Vishnu, the Supreme Lord.

Reception of guests, usually at noon or evening, is the special duty of the grihastha. If the grihastha does not receive the unexpected guest warmly, no matter who he be, he is considered to have committed a great sin. Homes from which guests (uninvited) go away without having been received even with an offering of a little water are like those holes in the field which are the homes of jackals. SB8.16.7  The law of reception in the codes of the Vedic principles state that even if an enemy is received at home, he must be received with all respects. He should not be given a chance to understand that he has come into the house of an enemy. SB1.18.27 Not only the grihastha, however, but everyone in any ashrama or varna, should be in able to give the proper reception when required. Lord Caitanya himself set the example.After everyone had finished his lunch and washed his mouth and hands, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (as a sannyasi) personally decorated everyone with flower garlands and sandalwood pulp. CC Madhya v.4.p.319  According to ones ability his means of reception may differ:  Every householder, regardless of his position or economic condition, can at least receive saintly guests with great devotion and offer them drinking water, for drinking water is available always. In India the custom is that even an ordinary person is offered a glass of water if he suddenly visits and one cannot offer him foodstuff. If there is no water, then one can offer a sitting place, even if it is on straw mats. And if one has no straw mat, he can immediately cleanse the ground and ask the guest to sit there. Supposing that a householder cannot even do that, then with folded hands he can simply receive the guest, saying welcome. And if he cannot do that, then he should feel very sorry for his poor condition and shed tears and simply offer obeisances with his whole family, wife and children. SB 4.22.10

Srutadeva, being not at all rich offered only mattresses, wooden planks, straw carpets, etc to his distinguished guests, Lord Krsna and the sages, but he welcomed them to his best capacity. He began to speak very highly of the Lord and the sages and he and his wife washed the feet of each one of them. After this he took the water and sprinkled it over all the members of his family, and although it appeared that the brahmana was very poor, he was at that time most fortunate. According to his capacity he bought fruits, incense, scented water, scented clay, tulasi leaves, kusa straw and lotus flowers. They were not very costly items and could be secured very easily, but because they were offered with devotional love, Lord Krsna and his associates accepted them very gladly. The brahmana's wife cooks very simple foods like rice and dahl, and Lord Krsna and his followers were very pleased to accept then because they were offered in devotional love. Krsna Book II.p.232

One should consider reception as an extension of offering respects, and therefore the elements mentioned in the procedure for offering respect are also incorporated.One should clean the place and decorate with auspicious items such as mango leaves, banana trunks, mangala ghatas (water pots), lamps, ranguli (floor designs made with powder or rice flour paste).  As the king entered the gate of the city, all the citizens received him with many auspicious articles like lamps, flowers and yogurt. The king was also received by many beautiful unmarried girls whose bodies were bedecked with various ornaments, especially with earrings which collided with one another. SB4.21.3

One should go out to meet the guest.One should offer a seat to the guest. One should wash the feet of the guest with cool water, and place that water on ones own head and on the heads of the other members of the household.  When a saintly person comes to one's home, it is the vedic custom first to wash his feet with water and then sprinkle this water over the head of oneself and one's family. SB4.22.5

One should offer lamp to the guest.  One should offer food and water to the guest. If food is unavailable, then simply water may be offered.One should offer kind words to the guest.  One should perform any other services for the comfort of the guest, such as camara and fan.  One should offer the guest a place to rest.  One should accompany the guest when he leaves, at least out the premises or yard.  If everything is lacking, at least one should offer kind words.  To welcome a person one should perform as many of the following as possible. The more elevated the guest the more particular one should be to include the more elaborate elements.

According to the Chandogya Upanishad, when there is purity of food, the mind becomes pure; when the mind becomes pure, it remembers the Lord and by remembrance of the Lord, liberation is attained:

ahara suddhau sattva suddhihsattva suddhau dhruva smrtihsmrti lambhe sarva granthinam vipra moksah (quoted in BG Ch3. V.11 purport)

This verse mentioned "ahara suddhi" or purification of food as a crucial element in spiritual progress. For this reason also the smrti shastras proclaim that greatest of purifiers is pure food. The scriptures have therefore carefully delineated proper and improper food for the person who desires perfection in life.

Foods chosen by quality:
Different foods, due to their composition, affect the body in different ways when they are eaten by the human being. Foods may create sattvic, rajasic or tamasic influences of the body and mind. Since the quality of sattika opens the door for spiritual realization, sattvika foods are recommended for one pursuing spiritual realization.

Forbidden Food:
Since meat, wine, onions and garlic are by their inherent nature in the modes of raja and tama guna, the Vaishnava is forbidden to eat them, or even touch them.

Other untouchable items are as follows:
intoxicants, milk mixed with salt, milk from animals other than the cow, milk from a cow without calf, milk from a cow during the ten day period after bearing a calf (cholestrum), milk from a cow that has been mated, milk mixed with buttermilk, milk in a copper vessel, red spinach - kalambi sak, burned rice, white egg plant, radish, coconut water in a bell metal vessel, honey and yoghurt in a copper vessel, ucchista (someone's remnants) mixed with ghee, sesame, cornmeal, and yoghurt at night, barley during the day, burned preparations, ones own half-eaten fruit or sweets (saved and to be eaten later).

A food product, even though it is in the mode of goodness, may, due to the influence of time and weather, become stale or rotten. Such food is transformed to the mode of ignorance and is unhealthy for the body. Thus these transformed foods are also forbidden for offering to the Lord and for consumption. A food product, though in the mode of goodness and yet fresh, may, due to constant with some impure object, become contaminated. In that state the food cannot be offered or eaten.

For some types of contamination there are remedial measures of purification. After the food is purified again, it may be offered and eaten. Some types of contamination have no remedial purification method and must therefore be totally rejected.

For instance, if a dog or rat eats part of a fruit, that is not fit for human consumption.
A food product, though classed in the mode of goodness, fresh, and uncontaminated, may be of inferior quality, having bad taste, texture or color.
The same food product of superior taste and quality is preferable is possible.
A food product may be in the mode of goodness, may be fresh, uncontaminated and of superior quality, but if it is prepared by a person who is impure and sinful, that food should not be taken.

Prepared or cooked foods, particularly grains, take on the qualities of the person who has prepared them. If one eats such foods one will take on those sinful qualities as well.

Furthermore, a food product though in the mode of goodness, fresh, uncontaminated, of superior quality, and prepared by a sinless person, is filled with sin if it is not first offered to the Lord.

yajna sistasinah santomucyante sarva kilbisaihbhunjate te tv agham papaye pacanty atma karanat

The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin. BG Ch.3, V.13

When suitable foods are offered to the Lord they surpass sattva guna and become transcendental to material nature. Such food is called prasadam, the mercy of the Lord. Therefore the Vaishnava takes only those cooked foods which are prepared by another Vaishnava, who has thorough knowledge of what is acceptable for offering and consumption and what is not, who is sinless in conduct, and who offers everything to the Lord before serving it. The considerations of quality, impurity etc do not apply however to food which has been offered by bona fide devotees to the Lord without offense (who offer it to the Lord considering the proper standards mentioned above).

That food or bhoga is called mahaprasadam and is absolute like the Lord:
One should eat the mahaprasada of the Lord immediately upon receiving it, even though it is dried up, stale or brought from a distant country. One should consider neither time nor place. CC Madhya v.2.p.324

In the Brhad Vishnu Purana it is stated that one who considers mahaprasada to be equal to ordinary rice and dahl certainly commits a great offense. Ordinary edibles are touchable and untouchable, but there are no such dualistic considerations where prasada is concerned. Prasada is transcendental and there are no transformations or contamination's, just as there are no contamination's or transformations in the body of Lord Vishnu Himself. CC Madhya V.1, p.293

Source of Food:
The brahmana is forbidden to take food from a shudra, since the shudra by his inherent character is a person addicted to sinful activity. Since all of a man's sins reside in his cooked grains, if one eats the grains cooked by a shudra, one must suffer for all his sins. Therefore to avoid undue difficulties, this food is avoided.

Exceptions are made however.
One can take food from shudra after giving suitable payment. After paying one can take rice cooked in sugar and milk, items cooked in ghee or oil (not boiled items); cow milk, sweet cakes and oil cakes. One can take honey, water, fruits, and roots from a shudra if they are offered without ones asking. One can accept food from a shudra who works someone else's land and takes half the crop. One may take food from a shudra if one is well acquainted with the his family and habits. One can also accept food from a shudra who tends cows or is the family barber.

The word "shudra" must refer to a person of shudra quality, rather than of shudra ancestry, for one must always take food grains cooked by a Vaishnava, who offers the grains to the Lord, regardless of his caste.

The Skanda Purana says that there are four pure things:
ekadasi vrata, the heart of a devotee, Ganga water, and the grains cooked by Vaishnava.

As you will pay for the dinner, for the foods, you can offer them to Krsna within your mind, then eat them as Krsna prasadam. Any foods stuff when it is paid for it becomes purified...  The source of receipt of the things may be not very good, but if one pays for it, it becomes purified. So vegetable diet, when it is paid for, you can offer it in your mind to Krsna and take it. Meat is not considered an eatable... It is not to be done ordinarily--We should prepare our own foodstuff and offer-- as much as possible of course. letter from Srila Prabhupada Brahmananda, Oct. 6, 1968

Cooking should be understood to be a devotional activity, for the product must be offered to the Supreme Lord with devotion. The rules which apply to deity worship, cleanliness and devotion, also apply to cooking.

Ones body should be clean. One who cooks must have performed his morning nitya kriyas of saucha, brushing teeth, bathing, dressing properly and applying tilaka. The hands should be always clean, never touching impure objects or the holes of the body.Utensils and ingredients must be clean. Just articles for deity worship must be cleaned before performing deity worship, before cooking one must be sure that his utensils and kitchen are pure. One must know what is considered pure and impure, and how contamination spreads. One must also know how to rectify impurity if that is possible i.e. the proper method of purifying different articles. The ingredients are for offering to the Lord, and therefore one should not enjoy them first, by smelling or tasting or looking upon with lust. As well non devotees or those not familiar with the rules of cleanliness and worship, should not be allowed to cook, nor should any animals be allowed entrance in the kitchen. Nor can the unoffered preparations and ingredients be mixed with, touched to or placed in proximity to items already offered.

The place should be clean. The kitchen should be thoroughly washed before starting and garbage should not be allowed to accumulate in the kitchen. Shoes should not be worn into the kitchen. The mind should be purified by strict sadhana and constant chanting of the Holy Name. While engaged in cooking one should not discuss mundane matters, but as in deity worship maintain silence on these matters. Instead one should meditate on pleasing the Supreme Lord by ones activity, and constantly chant the Holy Name.  As far as possible non-initiated devotees may not enter the kitchen or deity area. They can help from outside. letter from Srila Prabhupada April 4, 1971

Unless one is initiated he cannot cook. One must be regular disciple then he can do deity worship. There is no question of the outsiders cooking in the New Delhi temple. letter from Srila Prabhupada Gopal Krsna das, July 11, 1976

In the kitchen you should always see that nothing is wasted. letter from Srila Prabhupada Upendra das, Nov.10, 1975

Food which has been offered should never be put back into the refrigerator or kitchen. Refrigerator should always be very clean and pure. If there is any food extra, that should be kept separately, not within the kitchen. No one should wear shoes within the kitchen. Smelling and tasting of foods being prepared for the Lord should never be done. Talking within the kitchen should be only what is necessary for preparing the prasadam or about the Lord. Dirty dishes should not be brought back into the kitchen. Hands should always be washed when preparing prasadam. Nothing should be eaten before offering to the Lord. letter from Srila Prabhupada June 6, 1968, Montreal

BHOJANA (taking meals):
One should take his meals in a clean state, with peaceful mind.
One may wear prasada garlands of the Lord and sandalwood paste.
The grihastha may wear rings on his fingers.
One should wear two pieces of cloth.
Ones cloth should not be damp.
One should not have ones head covered.
One should not be wearing shoes.
Sikha should be tied.
Five parts of the body should be damp (washed with water): two hands, two feet, and the mouth.

One should eat in a place which is clean and should not eat in a vehicle.
One should sit on an asana, but the asana should not be broken.
One should sit with legs crossed, not spread out.
One should not receive foods directly in the hands and place it in the mouth, nor place food directly on the floor, but should take his meal from a plate.
One should not eat off a broken plate.
One should not keep the plate on the lap.

One should sit facing east, or north, according to the Vishnu Purana.
E - By eating facing east, ones duration of life increases;
S - by eating while facing south one gains fame;
W - by eating facing west one gains wealth;
N - and by facing north all of ones desires are fulfilled (Kurma Purana).
Or one may face in the direction of the sun.
One should not face northeast, northwest, southeast or southwest.

One should not eat at the sandhyas: sunrise, noon and sunset.
One should not eat until food form the previous meal has digested.
One should not eat before having performed sandhya vandana (chanting gayatri at the sandhya) or daily morning puja.
One should not eat for four praharas before an eclipse of the sun or three praharas before an eclipse of the moon.

Sitting Arrangement;
Those of similar rank should sit in the same row.
According to the rules, the moment one person in a row finishes his meal and rises to go, the meal has ended, and the rest of the people in the row are forbidden to continue eating. All of the remaining food is considered ucchista (leftovers) and untouchable. Therefore, out of respect, all persons in the row should wait for the senior ranking person in the row to finish before rising to go. When the senior person rises, then all others in the same row should also rise and leave.
The senior person may sit separately, so that he is not affected by anyone else rising and leaving.

Mahaprasad is nondifferent from Krsna. Therefore instead of eating mahaprasada one should honor it. It is said here, karila vandana ...he offered prayers. When taking mahaprasada one should not consider the food ordinary preparations. One should consider mahaprasad a favor of Krsna. CC Antya v.4. p.10  Before beginning the meal, one should glance over the prasadam and pay ones respects to it remembering that it is he mercy of the Lord.  One should always seek the permission of the Lord to act or eat or speak and by the blessing of the Lord everything done by devotee is beyond the principle of the four defects typical of the conditioned soul. SB2.4.11

One should recite;

sarira avidya jal jodendriya tahe kaljihve phele visaya sagaretar madhya jihva ati lobha maya sudurmatitake jete kathina samsarekrsna boro doya moya koribare jihva jayasva prasadanna dilo bhaisei annamrta pao radha krsna guna gaoprema dako sri caitanya nitai

One may also recite jayadhvani prayers.

According to Hari Bhakti Vilasa one should chant the gayatri mantra, then chant ones mula mantra seven times over the prasadam.

Prana Ahutis:
According to the Vedic tradition, there is a prescribed way to begin the meal, which is taught to all twice born persons when they accept the sacred thread in the upanayanam ceremony. At that time the brahmachari vows to chant the gayatri mantra at the sandhyas daily for the rest of his life and offer his food to the pranas or life airs before beginning his meal. this system is still followed by brahmanas in many parts of India.

1) Wash your feet and palms and perform aachamanam.

2) After the rice and ghee are served, sprinkle little water on the food while chanting the following mantra, inorder to do nivedhanam to
Bhagawan who resides in you as an antharyAmi (paramatma - supersoul).
 Om antharyAmiNE nama:

3) In your right palm, have some water, and put it around your leaf(or plate) in clockwise direction and chant the following mantra.
 Om bhurbhuvassuva:

4) Do the following nyasam.
 prANAgnihotramanthrasya bhrahmA rushi:  (touch top of the head)
 anushtup cchandha:  (touch the tip of the nose)
 vaishvAnarAgnirdevathA  (touch the heart)
 prANAgnihotrE viniyOgha: (both the palms together do the semicircular motion starting from outside towards you)

5) In your right palm, have some water, and put it around your leaf(or plate) in clockwise direction and chant the following mantra.
 sathyam thvarthEna parishinchAmi (during the day)
 rutham thvA sathyEna  parishinchAmi  (during the night)

6) Then partially lift the top left corner of the leaf or you could touch the
plate. Use only the thumb, index finger and middle finger of the left hand.  You can skip this step if perumAL theertham is self-served.

7) Request for the perumAL theertham to be served.  First, sprinkle the theertham onto the food.  Second, hold the perumal theertham(pAdhyam).  Don't have yet, wait until the theertham is served for all.

8) Chant the following manthra and then have the theertham without noise.

9) Then perform the following prANAhoothi.  Use only the thumb, index finger and middle finger of the right hand and take a very little amount of the rice and ghee mixed and swallow it without touching the teeth.
 Om prANAya svAhA  (east)
 Om apAnAya svAhA  (south)
 Om vyAnAya svAhA  (west)
 Om udhAnAya svAhA  (north)
 Om samAnAya svAhA  (center)
 Om bhrahmaNE svAhA  (center)
 Om bhrahmaNi mama AthmamruthathvAya (center)
 SriGovindhAya nama:

10) Now, switch the one you are holding with left hand to right hand.  Request to serve water to purify your left hand at that corner.

11) Until you come to this point don't have anything other than what you had during parisEshanam.

12) Have thrupthi bhOjanam.

13) Have what you need to (food, fruits, water etc) before the utthara bhojanam.

14) utthara bhojanam.  Request for the perumAL theertham to be served.  Hold the perumal theertham(pAdhyam).  Don't have yet, wait until the theertham is served for all. Chant the following manthra and then have half what was served.

15) And pour the rest around the leaf while chanting the following.

 rauravE apuNyanilayE padmarbudha nivAsinAm |
 arththinAmudhakam dhaththam akshayyamupathishtathu ||

16) Then, gargle 16 times, wash your feet and perform the Achmanam twice.

Version 2:

First you address the food "AsmAkam nityam astu Etat"

1. Om Bhurbhuvasuvaha: Sarva sAdhArana Prokshana Mantram for purifying the food

2. Satyam tvA ruthEna ParishinchAmi:  Here the food is addressed as satyam. I encircle you with 'rutham'.  These two words are often used in vEdAs.  For
 e.g.  Brhma Yagnyam etc.,  In the evening the address is reversed.  The meaning of rutham as righteousness.
3. amruta upastaranam asi;  Be a 'lining' to the amrutam (i.e. the food)
4. amruta abhidAnam asi:  Be a 'lid or cover' to the amrutam.

I am sure learned members will be able to add more on what adiyEn has been able to provide and I will look forward to more info on this subject.

There is actually philosophical significance to the parisecana and prANAhuti mantras.

1) Parisecana

After we sit down for our meal, we say the mantra:

satyam tvartena parishincAmi

 (O Food! You are True. I encircle you with divine righteousness.)

and we circumambulate our food with a sprinkling of water. This sprinkling of water is known as "parisecana".

At night, this mantra is 'Rtam tvA satyena parishincAmi', transposing the 'Rtam' and 'satyam'.

I am not sure of the exact philosophical details as to why Vaidikas do this particular part, but I can surmise one meaning from the mantra. "Satya" means that which is real  or true. "Rta" is a notion of the Divine Law or moral principle. The term "Rta" is often found in the Rg Veda, and it is from this that the idea of "dharma" later evolved.

From this we can gather that the parisecana mantra is sort of a formulaic "protection" for the food we are about to eat.  Practically, it does also serve to ward off insects, etc., and perhaps this is another reason why the ritual developed in this particular form.

2) prANAhuti -- the offering to the vital breaths
The next step is the part of greater philosophical significance. Recall that in the Vedic tradition, every act eventually becomes an act of worship, an act of recognition of the pervasiveness of the Supreme Brahman and Its/His power.

When we eat, we nourish our bodies. Food is therefore essential  for bodily sustenance. Within our body is the "ana" or  vital breath. The "ana" has five activities or "prANa-s".  The five prANa-s represent the various bodily functions that are  critical for survival.  They are considered a manifestation of the power of the Supreme in the bodily plane.

 [ It is almost a universal cultural idiom to recognize breath as the vital force behind life.  In English, when someone dies they are said to have "breathed their last".  In Tamil, the word "ushir" or "uyir" can mean both breath or life. ]

The idea is that by first making an offering to the prANa-s, we pay homage to their life-giving power by virtue of their performing the bodily activities that are crucial to our survival.  In this way, this ritual recognizes that not only is food important to survival, but the very bodily functions that we take for granted are essential, and we owe all of this to the Supreme, who sits as the superintending power behind all bodily activity, no matter how mundane.

The vital breaths or "prANa-s" are five in number. The latter four are derived from the first. They are:

   prANa -- the principal breath
   apAna -- responsible for excretory activity
   samAna -- responsible for digestive activity
   vyAna -- responsible for circulatory activity
   udAna -- respiratory activity

This act of thanksgiving to God who through these bodily functions sustains life is done by saying the following mantras, and eating a little bit of rice and ney (ghee) without chewing it (because, after all, the food is an offering, not meant for personal consumption):

  om prANAya svAhA
  om apAnAya svAhA
  om vyAnAya svAhA
  om udAnAya svAhA
  om samAnAya svAhA
  om brahmaNi ma AtmA-amRtatvAya
The last line means, "May my self be united in Brahman (the Supreme), so that I may attain immortality."

Eating, then, is a profound act of worship which sustains the body so that we may further worship Brahman. There is also an implication that the swallowing of tasty food symbolizes the oblation of the individual self to God, so that God may, in a sense "eat" and "enjoy" us.

Before and after eating the meal, water is sipped, once again with a mantra.  The rishis of yore found this aspect of the ritual so important that they mention it in both of the largest Upanishads, the Brhadaranyaka and the Chhandogya, in virtually identical terms:

  Realized people, while eating, do as follows: before and after their meal, they "dress up" the prANa with water.  The prANa receives clothing in this manner, and is does not remain naked.

       -- Chhandogya 5.2.2 & Brhadaranyaka 6.1.15

I am not quite sure why "clothing the prANa" with water is so important, but both Sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya write that meditation on prANa having water as its garments is very important.

It does make some sense, however, from other angles. Water is a purifier, and drinking water before and after (Acamanam) is a purifier and sustainer of the body.  Furthermore, the yoga shastras recommend that we eat food to fill only half our stomach; one half of the rest, i.e., one quarter of the  stomach we should fill by drinking water. The rest should be air.  This is supposed to be the ideal proportions for spiritual and bodily health.

The mantras recited when sipping water before and after imply this as well:

  amRtopastaraNam asi -- Oh water! You are the seat of immortality.

Since water is drunk before and after the food, perhaps this is a suggestion that to approachimmortality, one should drink water to fill thestomach 1/4 way. But this is just a guess.

Rules for Eating:
People seated should not touch each other while eating.
One should eat in silence, not discussing material affairs.
One should use the five fingers of the right hand only to touch and place food in the should not make noises while eating or drinking foods or liquids.
One should tear large items with the fingers of the right hand and then place the small pieces in the mouth.
One should not tear a large item by taking it in the mouth and tearing it with the teeth.
After finishing the meal, one should take the plate (if disposable) in the right hand and discard it.

Rules for Drinking water:
One should avoid drinking water out of ones hands.
One should not sip water directly from a water source.
If one has a clean right hand (before a meal) the right hand should be used to hold the cup.
One should pour the water into the mouth so that the cup does not touch the lips.
During a meal the right hand touches the mouth.
Therefore at that time one should take the cup in the left hand and pour water into the mouth without touching the lips.
If the cup cannot pour properly, then one should use the right hand and drink using the lips.
While drinking water during a meal, no water should fall upon the food, otherwise the food becomes ucchista (leftovers).
The water cup should be kept to the right hand side of ones plate, otherwise ones food and water both becomes impure.

Amount of Food:
One should not overeat, because that is the cause of sickness, and decrease in lifespan. It stops ones spiritual advancement, generates sin, and becomes the subject of criticism for all people. In Kali yuga the duration of life is shortened not so much because of insufficient food but because of irregular habits. By keeping regular habits and eating simple food, any man can maintain his health. Overeating, too much sense gratification, over dependence on another's mercy, and artificial standards of living sap the very vitality of human energy. Therefore the duration of life is shortened. SB1.1.10

Sometimes it is found that an initiated person, in the name of prasada, eats very luxurious foodstuffs. Due to his past sinful life he becomes attracted by Cupid and eats food voraciously. It is clearly visible that when a neophyte in Krsna consciousness eats too much he falls down. SB4.26.13

One should fill half the stomach with food one quarter with water and one quarter with air.

Order of Foods:
Hari Bhakti Vilasa mentions that one should start by eating a little sweet food, then take salty and sour items, and then pungent and bitter items. Liquid foods should be taken at the beginning and end of the meal and solid foods should be taken in the middle. This system is still followed in South India.  In Bengal the custom is to take bitter foods first and end with sweet. Different styles of cooking require that the foods be eaten in different order.

Serving the Meal:
The grihastha should serve in the following order:
Guests, especially spiritually qualified persons such as sannyasis, should be treated as like the Lord himself, and should be offered the finest food first. One should then feed married daughters, pregnant women, elders, children and sick persons.  One should also feed tied up cows and horses before taking ones meal. The householder and his wife should eat last. An initiated Vaishnava should serve and initiated Vaishnava. The server should pure in mind, body, habits and dress, who can perform his duties quickly, quietly, and efficiently. Loud noises and talking should be avoided. Neither the server nor the serving utensils should ever touch the plates or hands of the people who are eating, for this will contaminate the server and the serving utensil.  If this happens, the server should wash his hands and the utensil before serving further. The prasadam should be dropped on the plate in a free area (not on the salt etc.)  Except for sweets or water, or dry items, spoons should be used to serve food.  The server should us only his right hand to offer prasadam.  The serving vessels should not touch the feet.  The server should not touch anything impure (his mouth, feet, hair, lower body) nor should he yawn, sneeze or spit.  Servings may be small, and when the guest finishes an item, the server should be alert to offer more of it. The server should br generous in giving the guest as much of an item as the guest desires. The guest should never be left with an empty plate except at the end of the meal.  The server or host may describe the wonderful qualities of an item as he offers it, to encourage the guest to eat more.  All persons in a group should be offered the same items.  The food should be hot if possible.

By eating one become contaminated. That is by putting the fingers into the mouth one becomes contaminated. Small amount of maha-prasadam may be popped in to the mouth and one may remain pure, but then after mouth will need washing.

Before performing any activity one must purify himself. After rising from ones meal, one should wash ones hands without delay. One should then wash mouth at least three times.

After the meal:
One should not take rest immediately after a meal. One should not perform strenuous labour directly after a meal. One should maintain a tranquil mind, as during the meal, by remembering the Lord, chanting his name and discussing the Lord's pastimes with ones associates.

Digestion Mantras:
One should rub the belly and chant the following verses, remembering the Supreme Lord who digests ones food so that the body becomes nourished and so that one can perform devotional service.

agastir agnir vadavanalas cabhuktam mayannam jarayan tv asesamsukha ca me tat parinama sambhavamyac chantvarogam mama castu dehevisnuh samastendriya deha dehipradhana bhuto bhagavan yathaikhahsatyena tenannam asesam etadarogya dam me parinamam etu

May Agasti the fire of digestion and the digestive salts digest the food I have eaten. May digestion, happiness and healthy body be mine. Since Vishnu presides over all the senses, the body and the soul, may he assist me so that my food will digest and so that I will remain without any sickness.

Regarding Leftovers (uncontaminated - remnants):
Regarding prasadam, leftovers should always be taken if they have not spoiled or if they have not been touched by diseased persons. We should never waste Krsna prasadam. Best thing is to cook only what is required and then give each person only what he wants. In this way nothing is wasted and everyone is satisfied. letter from Srila Prabhupada Kirtiraj Nov.27, 1971

Leftovers (contaminated):
You may not be so advanced that you will take the karmi remnants as prasad. The karmis should not be given so much that there is waste. letter from Srila Prabhupada Vedavyasa Aug.4, 1975

Cleaning the Eating Area:
Directly after the meal, the eating area must be thoroughly cleansed with water, since the area has become impure by the act of eating. One thing is that you should keep everything very clean. That is the first business. Every room should be as clean as a mirror. The prasadam room should be immediately cleaned after taking prasadam, otherwise you are inviting rats. letter from Srila Prabhupada Mukunda, Oct.20, 1973

In the evening, after finishing ones duties of worship, kirtana and study of scripture, receiving and feeding guests, and taking ones meal, one should take rest at a reasonable hour.

Rules for sleeping:
One should not sleep too much or too little. One should avoid sleeping during the daytime as much as possible. One should not sleep during the sandhyas. One should not sleep in a house by oneself. One should not sleep naked, or with oil on the head. One should not sleep under a pippal tree during the day or in a cowshed at night. The householder may sleep on a bed, while others should not. The bed should not be too high or too soft. The bed should be clean.

One should first relieve oneself of nature and clean oneself. One should then wash hands, feet and mouth with cool water, and dry the hands and feet, for one should never sleep with wet feet or hands. One should offer the results of the days activities to the Lord:

kayena vaca manasendriyair vabuddhyatmana vanusrta svabhavatkaromi yad yat sakalam parasmainarayanayeti samarpayami

Whatever I have executed with body, said by words, though by the mind, contacted with the senses or comprehended with the intelligence, I offer unto the supreme Narayana.One should resolve to correct all of ones mistakes.

One should meditate on the form of the Lord.
One should chant the names of the Lord, particularly madhava and Padmanabha.
Ones head should point east or south, for the east brings knowledge; south brings long life and strength; whereas west brings worries; and north brings death.
One should sleep on the back for long life, or the left side for good digestion, but never on the stomach.
In case of bad dreams one should chant the names of Govinda, Narayana, Sridhara, Purusottama, Vamana, Sarngadhar, and Khadgadhari



1) guru pranams

2) pratah prabodhito vishnu
hrsikeshena yat tvayaa
yad yat karayashisana
tat karomi tavajnaya

"O Visnu, O Hrsikesa, now You have awakened me and I am ready to act according to Your will today."

3) samudra vasane devi
parvata sthana mandite
visnu-patni namas tubhyam
pada-sparshang kshamasva me

"O Mother Earth, you are the resort of the oceans and you are decorated by mountains. O wife of Lord Vishnu, I offer you my obeisances. Please forgive me for stepping on you."

1) sam no devira bhistasya apo bhavantu pitaye /

sam yor abhisravantu nah

"Gracious be divine waters for our protection, be they for our drink and stream on us bliss and happiness."

2) apo hi stha mayobhuvasta na urje dadhatana /

mahe ranaya caksase

"Waters! You who are health-giving, give us energy so that we may look on great delight."

3) idam aapah pra vahata / yat kim ca duritam mayi

yad vahamabhi durdroha / yad va sepa utanrtam

"Wash away, waters, whatever sin is in me, what wrong I have done, what imprecation I have uttered, and what untruth I have spoken."

4) Purusha shuktam while offering water

VISNU SMARANAM (Cleansing the mind)
Brahma-samhita, Visnu sahasra nama, Narayana upanisad etc, Hare Krsna


bhunkshyeham pundareekaaksha
sharanang me bhavaacyuta

"O Pundarikaksa, I am going to break my fast. O Bhagavan, let you be my heaven.


om dhyeyah sada savitr mandala madhya varti
narayanah sarasijasana sannivistah
keyuravan kanaka kundalavan kiriti
harir hiranmaya vapur dhrta sankha cakrah

Lord Narayana is seated on a lotus flower asana within the sun globe. He wears a crown, golden earrings and arm bands of silver on His golden body, and in His hands He holds a white conchshell and a Sudarsana disc weapon. Because of all this He is ever enchanting and captivating to the mind. One should always medititate on the supremely effulgent Lord within the sun globe in this way.


candrama manaso jatah
caksoh suryo ajayata
mukhad Indras cagnis ca
pranad vayur ajayata

"The moon was gendered from His mind, from His eye the sun had birth; Indra and Agni from His mouth were born and Vayu from his breath."


om pranaya svaha (prana mudra)
om apanaya svaha (apana mudra)
om samanaya svaha (samana mudra)
om udanaya svaha (udana mudra)
om vyanaya svaha (vyana mudra)


Using ankusha mudra, invoke the following mantra into water three times before drinking it.

aham vaisvanaro bhutva
praninam deham asritah
pacamy annam catur-vidham

"I am the fire of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I join with the air of life, outgoing and incoming, to digest the four kinds of foodstuffs."


om punah urja nivartasva
punah vishno isha ayusha
punah nah pahi amhasah

Strength, come forth, Vishnu come forth with food and long life. Protect us from sin.


kayena vaca manansendriyair va
buddhyatmana vanusrta svabhavat
karomi yad yat sakalam parasmai
narayanayeti samarpayami

Whatever I have done, said, thought or percieved, I offer unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana.