The Personification of Devotional Practices
Feb 3, CANADA (SUN) Transcendental personalities who personify the nine devotional practices.
In Easy Journey to Other Planets, Text 1, Srila Prabhupada describes the great Vaisnavas whose lives and pastimes exemplify the nine devotional activities:
"There are instances in history of great personalities, including sages and kings, who attained perfection by this process. Some of them attained success even by adhering to one single item of devotional service with faith and perseverance. Some of these personalities are listed below."
- Emperor Pariksit attained the spiritual platform simply by hearing from such an authority as Sri Sukadeva Gosvami.
- Sri Sukadeva Gosvami attained the same simply by recitation, verbatim, of the transcendental message which he received from his great father, Sri Vyasadeva.
- Emperor Prahlada attained spiritual success by remembering the Lord constantly, in pursuance of instructions given by Sri Narada Muni, the great saint and devotee.
- Laksmiji, the goddess of fortune, attained success simply by sitting and serving the lotus feet of the Lord.
- King Prthu attained success simply by worshiping the Lord.
- Akrura, the charioteer, attained success simply by chanting prayers for the Lord.
- Hanuman (Mahavira), the famous nonhuman devotee of Lord Sri Ramacandra, attained success simply by carrying out the orders of the Lord.
- Arjuna, the great warrior, attained the same perfection simply by making friends with the Lord, who delivered the message of Bhagavad-gita to enlighten Arjuna and his followers.
- Emperor Bali attained success by surrendering everything unto the Lord, including his personal body.
These are nine standard modes of devotional service to the Lord, and a candidate can choose to adopt any one, two, three, four or all, however he likes. All the services rendered to the Absolute are in themselves absolute, with none of the quantitative or qualitative differences found on the material platform. On the spiritual platform everything is identical with everything else, although there is transcendental variegatedness. Emperor Ambarisa adopted all the above nine items, and he attained perfect success. It was he who engaged his mind on the lotus feet of the Lord, his voice in describing the spiritual world, his hands in cleansing the temple of the Lord, his ears in submissively hearing the words of Lord Sri Krsna, his eyes in viewing the Deities of the Lord, his body in touching the bodies of the devotees, his nostrils in smelling the flowers offered to the Lord, his tongue in tasting the food offered to the Lord, his legs in visiting the temple of the Lord, and all the energy of his life in executing the services of the Lord without in the least desiring his own sense gratification. All these activities helped him attain the perfect stage of life which defeats all dexterities of material science."
Easy Journey to Other Planets, Text 1
"Just like Pariksit Maharaja. At the last stage of his life he was cursed by a brahmana boy to die within seven days. So within seven days he had to prepare himself for the next birth. So he was little perplexed, and all the great saintly persons, sages--because he was emperor of the world--so they came. They consulted. It was decided that "You hear Srimad-Bhagavatam the seven days." That is The Sukadeva Gosvami spoke, and he, listened from Sukadeva, and he became perfect within seven days. Therefore in India they observe this Bhagavat-saptaha. That is simply official. Actually, nobody hears very seriously.
So sravanam is so perfect also. Pariksit Maharaja attained perfection simply by hearing seven days. Similarly, Sukadeva Gosvami, he also attained perfection by speaking seven days to Pariksit Maharaja. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam. Prahlada Maharaja, he was put into so many difficulties by his atheist father, Hiranyakasipu, but he was simply remembering Narayana, Krsna. Because he was a child, five years old, how he can fight with his father? His father was the greatest demon, powerful, and he was against the child. So he used to simply think of Krsna, smaranam. Pada-sevanam: Laksmi, goddess of fortune, she simply engaged herself in massaging the lotus feet of Visnu. Pada-sevanam. Arcanam: Prthu Maharaja, he engaged himself in the arcana. Vandanam. Dasyam: Hanuman. Akrura, Akrura, he simply offered prayers to Krsna. Akrura came to Krsna Balarama to take Them to Mathura. So he got salvation simply by offering prayers. Vandanam dasyam. Hanuman, he simply offered his bodily service to Lord Ramacandra. He got perfection. So sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam, arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam... Arjuna. Arjuna simply kept friendship with Krsna. He got perfection. Sakhyam.
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
Atma-nivedanam, giving everything to Krsna. That is Bali Maharaja. He did not do anything. He simply... Whatever he possessed, he gave it to Krsna, "Take it," his everything. He promised three feet land, and by two feet land all his possession was covered. Then Krsna asking that "Where to keep the another feet?" He said, "Yes, sir, there is place. Just keep it on my head. That's all." So by three feet he lost everything. He lost not everything, but he gained everything, and Krsna agreed that "You are so sacrificing. Now I shall remain as your doorkeeper here, stand here always to save you from all dangers." So by giving to Krsna, by serving Krsna, by loving Krsna, nobody is loser. Nobody is loser. Everyone is gainer. Everyone is gainer. So therefore we should take this process."
Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 02-22-73, Auckland
"So because these activities, devotional activities, are on the spiritual platform, all of them are Absolute. It is not that if you are hearing but you are not chanting, then your result will be little less than the other who is hearing and chanting. No. It is Absolute Truth. Just like if you taste a sugar candy, lump of sugar candy, from any side you taste, the sweetness is there. There is no difference, that if you taste this side, then it is more sweet than the other side. Krsna is complete Absolute Truth. So any side. If you become expert in hearing, that is as good as one is engaged in other eight processes or nine processes. That is stated in the sastra. Just like Pariksit Maharaja. He simply listened. He did not do any other process. Sri-visnu-sravane pariksit. They got liberation simply by executing one of the nine different processes. So sri-visnoh sravane pariksid abhavad vaiyasakih kirtane. Pariksit Maharaja got liberation simply by hearing. And Sukadeva Gosvami, he got liberation simply by chanting. And similarly, Prahlada Maharaja, he got liberation simply by memorizing, smarane; Laksmiji, simply by serving the lotus feet of Narayana. So Krsna consciousness is in the absolute platform. There is no relativity. In the temple worship, as there are so many different duties--one is worshiping directly the Deity, decorating the Deity, and the other is washing the temple--it does not mean that the one who is cleansing the Deity, he is less important than the person who is in the temple room, Deity room. No. Because it is absolute. The Deity... As the Deity is important, similarly, the floor of the temple is also important, same importance, because absolute. So in executing our devotional service we are engaged in different duties. Somebody is cooking. Somebody is decorating the Deity. Somebody is cleansing the floor. Somebody is going to sell books. Somebody is doing something. Everything--nirbandhe krsna sambandhe, in relationship with Krsna. Because the relationship is there with Krsna, then every activity which you are doing, that is complete. There is no such material distinction."
Srila Prabhupada Departure Lecture, 03-12-75, London
"There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Maharaja Ambarisa execute all nine items and they also get ultimate success.
"'Maharaja Pariksit attained the highest perfection, shelter at Lord Krsna's lotus feet, simply by hearing about Lord Visnu. Sukadeva Gosvami attained perfection simply by reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam. Prahlada Maharaja attained perfection by remembering the Lord. The goddess of fortune attained perfection by massaging the transcendental legs of Maha-Visnu. Maharaja Prthu attained perfection by worshiping the Deity, and Akrura attained perfection by offering prayers unto the Lord. Vajrangaji [Hanuman] attained perfection by rendering service to Lord Ramacandra, and Arjuna attained perfection simply by being Krsna's friend. Bali Maharaja attained perfection by dedicating everything to the lotus feet of Krsna.'
"'Maharaja Ambarisa always engaged his mind at the lotus feet of Krsna, his words in describing the spiritual world and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his hands in cleansing and washing the Lord's temple, his ears in hearing topics about the Supreme Lord, his eyes in seeing the Deity of Lord Krsna in the temple, his body in touching the lotus feet of Vaisnavas and embracing them, his nostrils in smelling the aroma of the tulasi leaves offered to Krsna's lotus feet, his tongue in tasting food offered to Krsna, his legs in going to places of pilgrimage like Vrndavana and Mathura or to the Lord's temple, and his head in touching the lotus feet of the Lord and offering Him prayers. Thus Maharaja Ambarisa desired only to serve the Lord faithfully. In this way he engaged his senses in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As a result, he awakened his dormant loving propensity for the Lord's service.'"
Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 22:135-137
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.