Top 5 limbs of devotional service & topmost amongst them

sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa

mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana

In this verse from Chaitanya Caritamrta (Madhya Lila 22.128), Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is instructing Srila Santana Goswami about the process of devotional service. He states that there are 64 ways of devotional service but out of them, 5 are considered the best. He describes these five devotional services in detail.

Rasika Acharyas further describe that out of these five, one of them is most stressed in this age of Kali Yuga. We will discuss it in a short while. Let us have a glimpse of the five limbs firstly.

  1. Sadhu Sanga (Association): Associating with Premi Rasika Acharyas, serving them and taking their instructions to progress ahead in devotional life.
  2. Nama Kirtana: Congregational chanting of the holy names of Lord.
  3. Bhagavata Sravana: Hearing about the passtimes of Divine Couple Sri Radha and Sri Krishna from the vani (words & teachings) of Premi Rasika Acharyas.
  4. Mathura Vasa: Taking residence in Mathura Dham or Vrindavan Dham. One can also take residence in Mayapur Dham or Puri Dham (which are basically non-different from Vrindavan). 
  5. Murti Seva: Deity worship of Lordships.

Rasika Acharyas say that in this Kali Yuga, it is not possible to practice any limbs of devotional service without nama-sankirtana.

Association with Sadhu (Rasika Saint) is the best when one participates in shudh sankirtan with them. That rasamayi shudh sankirtan gives prema. It’s described in detail here

However, it is very difficult to find association of bonafide Rasika Sadhu, which basically depends on one’s past life karma and guru kripa. Thus, when one meets a sadhu, they should ask them for the direction and blessings to inner vraj-prema-bhakti.

In the presence of a true sadhu, one doesn’t need to really ask questions. All answers will sprout in the heart of sincere seeker with due course of time just by the glimpse of a true sadhu.

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Bhagavata Shravana (hearing) is important but without singing kirtana, one won’t be able to relish the inner meaning and main prayojana (goal) of that shravana. All reading, hearing or studying scriptures and pastimes of Divine Couple is to take their holy names in every breath. Only then the heart becomes ripe enough to embrace the rupa (form), guna (qualities), lila (pastimes) and dham (home) of Divine Couple.

Mathura Vasa, or residing in Vrindavan is itself bhajan, and when it becomes coupled with sincere sankirtan, the seeker is pulled in inner vraj-prema-bhakti exponentially.

Murti seva or deity worship is important as it helps the conditioned souls to meditate on Lordships. But opulent deity worship and scrutinising rules are not possible by Kali Yuga rejects like us in the best manner. The deities need to be decorated with gold, diamonds and opulent jewellery which is not possible in Kali Yuga. Without it being coupled with nama sankirtana, it is not really effective if one wants to dive to the inner prayojana (goal) of vraj-prema-bhakti.

But the beauty of Kali Yuga is nama-sankirtana! No rules, no nothing! One can just chant the names of Lord with full intensity, enthusiasm, and it is cent per cent sure that the seeker will be guided to prema-bhakti very very soon. Harer Nama Eva Kevalam. The inner meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra has been described here.

Jai Jai Shri Radhe!

Hare Krishna!

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