I'd like to welcome you all to our classes on Vaishnava Etiquette. Thank you for coming. I'll begin by reading some quotes from Caitanya Caritamrta, the instructions of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Sanatana Gosvami, on Sadacara-the activities of a Vaishnava.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Sanatana Gosvami to write Vaishnava Smrti (Hari-bhakti-vilasa) in CC. Madhya-lila 24.324-344:
Folding his hands, Sanatana Gosvami said, "My Lord, You ordered me to write a directory about the activities of Vaishnavas. I am a most lowborn person. I have no knowledge of good behavior. How is it possible for me to write authorized directions about Vaishnava activities?" Sanatana Gosvami then requested the Lord, "Please personally tell me how I can write this difficult book about Vaishnava behavior. Please manifest Yourself in my heart. If You would please manifest Yourself within my heart and personally direct me in writing this book, then, although I am lowborn, I may hope to be able to write it. You can do this because You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead Yourself and whatever You direct is perfect."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "Whatever you want to do you will be able to do correctly by Lord Krsna's favor. He will manifest the real purport. Because you asked Me for a synopsis, please hear these few indications. In the beginning one must take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master. In your book there should be the characteristics of the bona fide guru and the bona fide disciple. Then, before accepting a spiritual master, one can be assured of the spiritual master's position. Similarly, the spiritual master can also be assured of the disciple's position. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, should be described as the worshipable object, and you should consider the (bija) mantra for the worship of Krsna, Rama, or any other expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
"You should discuss the qualifications necessary for receiving a mantra, the perfection of the mantra, the purification of the mantra, initiation, morning duties, remembrance of the Supreme Lord, cleanliness, and washing the mouth and other parts of the body. In the morning, one should regularly brush his teeth, take his bath, offer prayers to the Lord and offer obeisances to the spiritual master. One should render service to the spiritual master and paint one's body in twelve places with urdhva pundra (tilaka). One should stamp the holy names of the Lord on his body, or one should stamp the symbols of the Lord, such as the disc and club.
"After this, you should describe how one should decorate his body with gopicandana, wear neck beads, collect tulasi leaves from the tulasi tree, cleanse his cloth and the altar, cleanse one's own house or apartment and go to the temple and ring the bell just to draw the attention of Lord Krsna. "Also describe the Deity worship, wherein one should offer food to Krsna at least five times daily. One should in due time place Krsna on a bed. You should also describe the process for offering arati and the worship of the Lord according to the list of five, sixteen or fifty ingredients.
"The characteristics of the Deities should be discussed as well as the characteristics of the salagrama-sila. One should also discuss visiting the Deities in the temple and touring holy places like Vrndavana, Mathura, and Dvaraka.
"You should glorify the holy name and carefully give up offenses when chanting the holy name. One should know the symptoms of a Vaishnava. One must give up or nullify all kinds of seva-aparadha, offenses in Deity worship.
"The items of worship, such as water, conchshell, flowers, incense and lamp, should be described. You should also mention chanting softly, offering prayers, circumambulating, and offering obeisances. All these should be carefully studied.
"Other items to be considered are the method of performing purascarana (purification), taking krsna-prasada, giving up unoffered food and not blaspheming the Lord's devotees."
This is also a very important point that devotees should remember. A Vaishnava is not suppose to take anything that has not been offered to Krsna. We should be very careful about that. Because I have seen practically all over the world we are developing a tendency to eat things that are not offered. The only consideration has become if the food is vegetarian. But we are supposed to only take Krsna prasada.
Try to avoid it as much as possible. When you are traveling or if you are on sankirtana, then it is different. But still try to offer everything to Krsna before you take it.
One should know the symptoms of a devotee and how to associate with devotees. One should know how to satisfy the devotee by rendering services, and one should know how to give up the association of nondevotees. One should also regularly