Questions

Based on the passage below from the teachings of Lord Caitanya, following in the footsteps of Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis, what kind of rituals or prayers can devotees do to help remove obstacles that are obstructing their engagement in devotional service?

Question:

Based on the passage below from the teachings of Lord Caitanya, following in the footsteps of Rupa and Sanatana Goswami’s, what kind of rituals or prayers can devotees do to help remove obstacles that are obstructing their engagement in devotional service?

“Upon making this decision, the two brothers at once took steps to leave their material engagements, and they appointed two learned brahmanas to perform certain Vedic religious rituals that would enable them to achieve complete freedom for the devotional service of Krsna. These preliminary ritualistic functions are known as purascarya. They require that three times a day one worship and offer respects to one’s forefathers, offer oblations to a fire, and respectfully offer food to a learned brahmana. Five items—the time, the worship, the offering of respect, the offering of oblations into the fire, and the offering of food to a brahmana—constitute purascarya. These and other rituals are mentioned in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, an authoritative book of directions for Vaisnavas.” Chapter 2, Teachings of Lord Caitanya

Answer:

This purascarya is not really recommended, although Srila Prabhupada describes a certain type of it in regard to becoming initiated in Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya Lila 15.108 purport:

The Hari-bhakti-vilasa (17.11–12), in discussing the purascarya process, quotes the following verses from the Agastya-samhitä:

“‘In the morning, afternoon and evening one should worship the Deity, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, offer oblations, perform a fire sacrifice and feed the brahmanas. These five activities constitute purascarya. To attain full success when taking initiation from the spiritual master, one should first perform these purascarya processes.’”

The word purah means “before,” and carya means “activities.” Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend arati and classes in the sastras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees. When one is actually advanced in the purascarya-vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation. It is not that anyone can be suddenly initiated without meeting the requirements. When one is further advanced by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra sixteen rounds daily, following the regulative principles and attending classes, he receives the sacred thread (brahminical recognition) after the second six months.

But in the same chapter verse 110 it is explained that it is not recommended:

“‘The holy name of Lord Krsna is an attractive feature for many saintly, liberal people. It is the annihilator of all sinful reactions and is so powerful that, save for the dumb who cannot chant it, it is readily available to everyone, including the lowest type of man, the candala. The holy name of Krsna is the controller of the opulence of liberation, and it is identical with Krsna. When a person simply chants the holy name with his tongue, immediate effects are produced. Chanting the holy name does not depend on initiation, pious activities or the purascarya regulative principles generally observed before initiation. The holy name does not wait for any of these activities. It is self-sufficient.’”

Question:

Thank you for clarifying the practice of the purascarya process. For us practicing devotees is there something within devotional service which we can do to help remove obstacles facing us?

Answer:

We should try to chant without offences as much as possible.

(Extracted from an online interaction)

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