The Bhakti-yoga Handbook
By Sri Nandanandana dasa
Years ago, many of our Iskcon temples would have a Bhakta Handbook, mostly with the songs that outline our morning program and a few other explanations about how we do things and why. But these were mostly for those who joined the ashrama and would then be trained by the Bhakta Leader or senior devotees in everything else. Nowadays, however, many of our devotees live in an apartment with their families and practice at home. So it was time for an updated handbook that could help provide the practices, songs, and standards to use to get started in bhakt-yoga whether the new devotee was in the ashrama or at home.
The Bhakti-yoga Handbook
A Guide for Beginning the Essentials of Devotional Yoga
This book is a guide for anyone who wants to begin the practice of bhakti-yoga in a practical and effective way. This supplies the information, the principles, the regular activities or sadhana, and how to have the right attitude in applying ourselves to attain success on the path of bhakti-yoga, which is uniting with God through love and devotion.
This outlines a general schedule for our daily spiritual activities and a typical morning program as found in most Krishna temples that are centered around devotional yoga. In this way, you will find the explanations on how to begin our day and set our mind, what meditations to do, which spiritual texts are best to study, and how we can make most everything we do as part of bhakti-yoga. All of these can be adjusted in a way that can be practiced and applied by anyone regardless of whether you are in a temple ashrama or in your own home or apartment.
Such topics include:
The secret of bhakti-yoga and its potency in this day and age,
The essential morning practice, the best time for meditation,
The standard songs and mantras that we can use, as applied in most Krishna temples,
Understanding the basics of the Vedic spiritual philosophy, such as karma, reincarnation, the Vedic description of the soul, etc.,
How Vedic culture is still as relevant today as ever,
Who is Sri Krishna,
How to chant the Hare Krishna mantra,
Standards for temple etiquette,
The nine processes of bhakti-yoga, a variety of activities from which anyone can utilize,
How to make our career a part of the yoga process,
How to turn our cooking into bhakti-yoga,
How to set up a home altar or temple room, depending on what standard you wish to establish,
How to take care of deities in our home, if we have Them,
How to perform the basic ceremonies like arati,
How to take care of the Tulasi plant if you have one,
And the spiritual results you can expect to attain through this yoga.
All of the basics and effective applications to get started and continue with your practice of bhakti-yoga are supplied so you can progress in a steady way, from beginner to advanced.
The Purpose of this Book
PART ONE: GETTING STARTED ON THE PATH OF BHAKTI-YOGA
CHAPTER ONE: THE SECRET OF BHAKTI-YOGA
CHAPTER TWO: UNDERSTANDING THE ESSENTIALS
At the Temple or at Home * The Basic Process * The Regulative Principles
CHAPTER THREE: STARTING OUR DAY
The Sacred Brahma-muhurta Hour * Offering Obeisances * Bathing * Putting on Tilaka * Going to the Temple Program or Starting our Program at Home * Hatha-yoga and Pranayama
CHAPTER FOUR: STANDARD SONGS USED IN THE KRISHNA TEMPLES
Sri Sri Gurvashtaka * Additional Songs Sung During Mangala Arati * The Pancha-Tattva Maha Mantra * The Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra * Prema-Dhvani or Pranam Prayers * Shri Nrisimha Pranam * Tulasi-Arati Kirtana * The Ten Offenses in Chanting the Holy Names * Shri Vaishnava Pranam * Sri Sri Shikshashtaka * Jaya Radha-Madhava * Mantras Chanted Before Class * Mantras Chanted Before Class Commentary * Additional Pranam Mantras * From the Brahma-Samhita * Sri Guru-Vandana * Sri Nama-Kirtana * Other Nice Songs * Prasada-Sevaya * Additional Kirtanas * Shri Shri Shad-Goswamy-Ashtaka * Nama-Sankirtana * Gaura-Arati * Shri Damodarashtaka * Saparshada-Bhagavad-Viraha-Janita-Vilapa * Shri Jagannathashtaka * Gurudeva * Savarna-Sri-Gaura-Pada-Padme Prarthana
PART TWO: A DEEPER LOOK INTO THE BASICS
CHAPTER FIVE: ON CHANTING HARE KRISHNA
How to Chant Hare Krishna
CHAPTER SIX: THE PANCHA-TATTVA MANTRA
Who is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
CHAPTER SEVEN: GREETING THE DEITIES IN THE TEMPLE
The Significance of Deities and Deity Worship
CHAPTER EIGHT: IMPORTANCE OF READING DEVOTIONAL TEXTS
As You Read and Study with Your Spiritual Practice
CHAPTER NINE: TULASI DEVI–THE SACRED TREE
How to Offer Tulasi Devi Worship (Puja) * The Importance of the Tulasi Plant
CHAPTER TEN: PRASADAM–THE POWER OF SACRED FOOD
CHAPTER ELEVEN: RULES FOR TEMPLE ETIQUETTE
Dancing in the Temple * Learning the Instruments
CHAPTER TWELVE: EKADASI–THE APPEARANCE AND PURPOSE OF THIS SPECIAL DAY
Additional Information * Other Special Days and Festivals we Observe * Chaturmasya
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE NINE PROCESSES OF BHAKTI-YOGA
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: A FEW ADDITIONAL POINTS TO UNDERSTAND
The Purpose of Having a Guru * What is “Namaste” * Why Red Dots are Worn on the Forehead * What is Tilaka or Forehead Marks * Why ring Bells in the Temple * The Significance of the Arati Ceremony * The Reason Lamps are Used * Why a Conch Shell is Blown * Why Coconuts are Offered * The Purpose of Circumambulating Temples or Deities * Why the Lotus is Sacred * The Purpose of Fasting * Who May Practice Sanatana-dharma * What is a Sari * What is a Dhoti * Why Many Devotees Wear White * Why Many Swamis Wear Saffron Colored Cloth * The Significance of the Shikha (Tuft of Hair) * The Meaning of the Sutra or Sacred Thread * The Purpose of Touching our Head to the Floor * What are the Vedic Texts
PART THREE: UNDERSTANDING A FEW BASICS OF THE PHILOSOPHY
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: WHO AM I? THE VEDIC DESCRIPTION OF THE SOUL
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: WHAT IS REINCARNATION
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: WHAT IS KARMA
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: WHO IS KRISHNA
CHAPTER NINETEEN: WHY BE VEGETARIAN
CHAPTER TWENTY: VEDIC CULTURE–AS RELEVANT TODAY AS EVER
PART FOUR: PRACTICING BHAKTI-YOGA AT HOME
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: ESTABLISHING AN ALTAR AT HOME
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: THE BASIC ARATI CEREMONY
Consecrating Water for Purification (Samanya-Arghya) * Establishing General Arghya Water (Samanya-Arghya-Sthapana) * Doing the Achamana Procedure * Doing the Arati Ceremony * Mantras for Obtaining Forgiveness for One’s Offenses
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: MAKING OUR COOKING PART OF OUR YOGA
Shopping * Cleanliness * Cooking * Offering
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: CARING FOR TULASI DEVI IN YOUR HOME
Techniques for Caring for Tulasi Devi * Important Points * Potting * Light * Temperature * Controlling the Enemies of Tulasi Devi * Planting * Additional Points * Prayers
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: ADDITIONAL STEPS FOR HOME DEITY WORSHIP
Bringing the Deities to Our Home * Qualifications for Doing Deity Worship * Our Deity Program * Waking the Deities * Bathing and Dressing the Deities * Putting the Deities to Rest * If You Must Leave the Deities at Home
CONCLUSION: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR PRACTICE
REFERENCES / GLOSSARY / INDEX / ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This book is 278 pages, 6″ x 9″ trim size, $14.95, ISBN-13: 978-1490302287, ISBN-10: 149030228X.
This is available at all www.amazon.com sites around the world ($11.95), in both paperback and Kindle Ebooks ($4.99), and in PDF file format ($2.99) from www.lulu.com.
More information can be found at www.stephen-knapp.com
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