Instructions on Vaisnava Etiquette and Protocol


Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

Oct 08, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of excerpts from 'Hari Vhakti Vilasa'.

The Vaisnava text Hari-bhakti-vilasa ("Performance of Devotion to Hari") was written by Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami, with commentary by Srila Sanatana Goswami. Produced on the order of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Hari-bhakti-vilasa deals with the rituals and conduct of Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

In this and the segments to follow, we present a collection of excerpts from Hari-bhakti-vilasa on several topics of Vaisnava etiquette and protocol.

    "No action is endowed with success unless performed with proper etiquette. Therefore, every action requires etiquette."

    "The heart of a saintly person is completely pure and his activities are called Vaishnava etiquette."

    "Vaishnava etiquette generates opulence, increases fame and longevity and destroys inauspiciousness like poverty and untimely death, etc."

    (Hari Bhakti Vilas)

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


1. The Brhad Naradiya Purana says that one who does not even once offer obeisances to Shri Vishnu is to be considered like a dead body; one should never converse with him.

2. The Nrsingha Purana says that to offer obeisances is like performing sacrifice; it is the greatest of all sacrifices. By offering obeisances just once, a man can become purified and achieve Shri Hari.

3. The Hari Bhakti Sudodaya mentions that when a devotee falls down to the ground to offer obeisances to Vishnu, all the sins in his body also fall down and become destroyed. When he gets up he becomes free from all sins.

4. The Padma Purana states that if, in spite of committing various sins, a person covered with ignorance offers obeisances to Shri Hari, the Lord who delivers one from all sinful reactions, that person does not need to go to hell.

5. It has been mentioned in the Agama Sastra that offering obeisances with hands, legs, knees, chest, head, eyes, mind and words is called astanga pranama or obeisances with eight limbs.

6. Offering obeisances with knees, arms, head, words and intelligence is called pancanga pranama or obeisances with five limbs. In worshipping, astanga pranama is better than pancanga pranama.

7. The Narada Pancaratra mentions that one should not offer obeisances to the deities or spiritual master, etc. when they are sleeping or eating. Otherwise, one should offer obeisances first to Shri Hari, then to his spiritual master and then to his other superiors.

8. The Vishnu Smrti mentions that one should offer obeisances to Vishnu placing Him on the left, Shiva and Durga on the right and the spiritual master in the front.


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