nitya kriya


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  • 8/10/2019 NITYA KRIYA


    NITYA KRIYA(The obligatory rules for day to day living)


    Lord Caitanya has given the instruction that the sum and substance of life is to worship Sri Krsnain pure devotion. In order that we accomplish this, he has recommended constant engagement inthe Lord's service according to prescribed rules. In the scriptures, there are many rules for daily

    life (nitya kriyas), but the acharya have selected those rules which are favorable for the

    development of pure devotion to the lotus feet of Radha Krsna. By following these rules thedevotee may achieve the goal of life, Krsna prema. These activities are described in sequence

    from rising in the morning to taking rest at night. Following this the distinctive daily activities of

    the four ashramas are described. What is described here is strictly in accordance with scripture.

    Most of the material is derived from Hari Bhakti VilAsa, written by Srila Sanatana Goswami andGopala Bhatta Goswami, which is accepted by the followers of Lord Caitanya as the authorized

    Vaisnava Smrti, (text regarding all types of Vaisnava behavior). Hari Bhakti VilAsa is not an

    independent work, but is rather based upon commonly accepted scriptures: the smrti shastrassuch as the works of Yajnavalkya, Manu and Harita; the puranas such as Bhavisya, Siva, Skanda,Vishnu, Bhagavat Puranas; and the pancaratrika texts such as Hayasirsa and Narada Pancharatra.

    The text of Hari Bhakti VilAsa is in fact mostly quotations from these works. The rules have by

    and large been presented here just as they are written in the Hari Bhakti VilAsa, with minimumof deletions, for several reasons.

    Firstly, it is not the privilege of a fallible mortal (speaking of myself) to decide the fate ofscriptural instructions written by the great sages.

    Secondly, when the rules are stated in their entirety, they give sufficient background for the

    individual to understand the purpose of the rules.

    Thirdly, by reading the rules one can begin to understand the great regard given to physicalcleanliness and mental purity by the Aryan civilization since time immemorial, and one can

    begin to admire their sensitivity to the effects of time and place on the body.

    Fourthly, though the rules may appear cumbersome on first encounter, it is hoped that the

    scriptural rules will, through familiarity, be as natural to the people of the future as their neglect

    is at present.

    Fifthly, what may seem anachronistic today may not be in the future. Thus the scriptural rules for

    the daily activities, especially those concerning the care of the body, may seem superfluous andimpractical in the modern age, but one should not, however, underestimate the wisdom of

    scriptural injunction, as impractical or contradictory as they may seem. The injunctions are not

    whimsical decisions simply for the purpose of taxing the mind and body, but have particularphysical, mental and spiritual purposes behind them. One may view the unfamiliar rules as the

    details of the basic and necessary rules. Once having mastered the basics one can proceed to the

    details. Some of rules are definitely impractical at present, since the rules were meant for asociety which, though somewhat urbanized, was still intimately in contact with the natural

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    elements. Since the majority of people at present live in cities far removed from a natural setting,

    one has no choice but to ignore those rules at present. Most important, one should realize

    priorities. The main principle of the Gaudiya Vaisnava is surrender to Krsna by chanting theHoly Name. All those rules which favor that end physically, mentally and spiritually, should be

    implemented. Anything which obstructs that end should be discarded. The vedic ritualistic

    ceremonies and injunctions are not to be discounted; they are means of being promoted to thespiritual platform. But if one does not come to the spiritual platform, the Vedic ceremonies aresimply a waste of time. SB7.6.26.

    One must be careful, however, in the process of rejection, not to reject or minimize the

    importance of rules, including those which are essential for the development of bhakti:...

    We have to be very cautious in executing our spiritual duties by observing the rules and

    regulations and regularly chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra. If we neglect doing this, we

    will eventually fall down. We must rise early in the morning, bathe, attend mangala arati,

    worship the Deities, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, study the Vedic literatures and follow all the

    rules prescribed by the acharyas and the spiritual master. If we deviate from this process, we mayfall down, even though we may be very highly advanced. SB.5.8.8.

    Therefore no one should think of himself as a liberated person immune to the influence of maya.

    Everyone should very cautiously execute devotional service by rigidly following regulative

    principles. Thus he will remain fixed at the lotus feet of the Lord. Otherwise a little inattentionwill create havoc. SB. 5.18.4........santusto'har ahah kuryannitya naimittikih kriyah One should

    happily perform daily sacrifices (nitya kriya) and those for certain occasions (naimittika kriya).

    SB7.15.11. From the time of rising in the morning to the time of taking rest at night the body and

    senses are engaged in activity. The nitya kriya are those rules for spiritually cultivating orpurifying the senses, so that one may bring them under control and engage them in the Lord's


    Summary of the Daily Activities:1.Activities on waking:

    a. waking up during the brahma muhurta for physical, mental and spiritual benefit (jagarana). b.immediately chanting the name of Krsna (kirtana) to purify oneself c:. remembrance of guru and

    Krsna (smarana) by recitation of verses and meditation (dhyana) on Krishna's form, qualities and

    pastimes. d:. obeisances to the Lord (pranama).

    2. Removing Waste Products from the Body.

    a. passing nature (mala mutra tyaga) b:. cleaning oneself after passing nature (saucha) with dueregard for public sanitation, personal health and respect.

    3. sipping water for purification (acamana)

    4. cleaning teeth and mouth (danta dhavana), and tying sikha (sikha bandhana).

    5. bathing in cool water (snana) while chanting the Lord's names and meditating on his

    wonderful form, giving due respect to the water.
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    6. dressing properly and cleanly as a Vaisnava.

    7. applying the tilaka marks of the Vaisnava on the body

    8. chanting vedic and vaisnava gayatri.

    9. chanting Hare Krsna japa.

    10. attending the mangala aratrika of the Lord.

    11. glorifying the Lord through kirtana, songs and dancing.

    12. performing worship of the spiritual master and the Lord (puja), taking darshana of the Lord,taking his foot nectar (caranamrta), his flowers (nirmalya), performing circumambulation

    (pradaksina) and obeisances (pranama).

    13. worshipping Tulasi.

    14. serving the dhama, by remembering, seeing, praising, cleaning.

    15. hearing and studying scriptures.

    16. respect to vaisnavas.

    17. respecting other living entities and reception of guests.

    18. eating.

    19. occupational duties: during the day a person will performing his duties according to the rulesof his ashrama. These duties are described in the separate section on ashrama duties.

    20. taking rest


    Krsna himself has set the example: Lord Krsna would immediately get up from bed exactly onthe appearance of brahma muhurta. After rising from bed, Lord Krsna would wash his mouth,

    hands and feet and would immediately sit down and meditate on Himself. (This does not mean,

    however that we should also sit down and meditate on ourselves. We have to meditate upon

    Krsna, Radha Krsna. That is real meditation.) After his meditation the Lord would regularlybathe early in the morning with clear sanctified water. Then he would change into fresh clothing,

    cover himself with a wrapper and then engage himself in his daily religious functions. Out of his

    many religious duties the first was to offer oblations into the sacrificial fire and silently chant thegayatri mantra. Lord Krsna, as the ideal householder, executed all the religious functions of a

    householder without deviation. When the sunrise became visible the Lord would offer specific

    prayers to the sun god. The Lord would offer respects to the demigods. The regulative principleby which the demigods and forefathers are worshipped is called tarpana, which means pleasing.

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    One's forefathers might have to take a body on another planet, but by performance of this tarpana

    system, they become very happy wherever they may be. His next duty was to give cows in

    charity to the brahmanas. His next duty was to please all kinds of men belonging to the differentcastes, both in the city and within the palace compound. He made them happy by fulfilling their

    different desires. Krsna Book.II p.1101.

    Rising from Bed:


    The time early in the morning, one and a half hours before sunrise, is called brahma muhurta.During this brahma muhurta, spiritual activities are recommended. Spiritual activities performed

    early in the morning have a greater effect than in any other part of the day. SB3.20.46.

    According to Vedic reckoning, time is divided into dandas of 24 minutes. Two dandas make one

    muhurta, or 48 minutes. The period starting two muhurtas (96 minutes or one hour and 36minutes) before the sun appears halfway on the horizon is called arunodaya or dawn. The first

    muhurta of dawn is called brahma muhurta. The period before this time is for sleep, but

    beginning at the brahma muhurta a civilized man must rise from sleep and begin to carry out his

    daily duties (nitya kriya). Brahma muhurta is considered the most auspicious part of the day.According to all the scriptures (e.g. the Manu smrti), and as shown by Krsna Himself, one must

    rise during the brahma muhurta. Failing to do so is a commission of sin, and thereforeprayaschitta is prescribed in the traditional texts. Activities during Brahma muhurta: During thebrahma muhurta one must at least rise from bed, fix ones mind upon the spiritual master and

    Krsna, answer the calls of nature, clean the mouth and teeth, bathe the body completely in cool

    water, dress in fresh cloth in the proper manner, apply Vaisnava tilaka, have darshana of theLord, and chant the gayatri mantra (sandhya vandana) at the sunrise.

    Effects of Brahma Muhurta:The body and mind carry out their functions according to the rising and setting of the sun. With

    the sunrise the functions become active and with sunset they slow down. Cleaning the body of

    impure items before the daytime functions of the body begin is an efficient aid to maintaining

    proper health and a strong mind. If one lets the impurities which gather during sleep remainwithin the body those impurities will simply re-circulate in the body with the beginning of the

    new day. Well tuned body and senses produce a controlled and determined mind, which is

    essential for carrying out efficient spiritual practices. Thus the scriptures glorify waking duringthe brahma muhurta. This is therefore the first point in effective sadhana.

    2. Nama Kirtana: Upon waking, one should immediately chant the name of the Lord. This is thegeneral injunction of the scriptures, and it is practiced by all Vaisnavas. As Sarvabhauma

    Bhattacharya arose from bed, he distinctly chanted, "Krsna, Krsna." Lord Caitanya was very

    pleased to hear him chant the holy name of Krsna. CC Madhya v.2.p.322. One should chant the

    mahamantra: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama RamaRama Hare Hare. One should not tarry in bed after waking, but should immediately rise while

    chanting. By the chanting of the Lord's name, all inauspicious influences from the night's sleep ar

    dispelled and the pure image of Krsna becomes the first impression fixed on the mind for theday.

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    Prayer to the Earth:

    Realizing that one is in all cases supported by the Lord, one should give respects to the earth, the

    consort of the Lord, and beg forgiveness for stepping upon her in order to carry out the Lord'sservice in the coming day. Placing the right foot upon the earth one should say:

    samudra vasane devi parvata stana manditevisnu patni namas tubhyam pada sparsa ksamasva me

    Oh earth, wife of Vishnu, receptacle for the oceans and decorated with mountains, I pay my

    respects to you. Please forgive me for stepping upon you.

    3. Smaranam:smartavyah satatam visnur vismartavyo na jatucitsarve vidhi nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah

    One should always remember the Lord, and one should never forget Him. All rules and

    regulations of bhakti are based upon these two injunctions. Hari Bhakti VilAsa Ch.3, V.37 fromPadma Purana. Since remembering the Lord is the principle activity of devotional service, at the

    beginning of the day one is advised remember the Lord. To If one is to perform this according tothe scriptures, one should first purify oneself of the impurities of sleep by washing ones hands,feet and mouth, and changing into fresh cloth. Cloth used for sleeping and the bed are considered

    impure. If one is using a bed roll one should fold it up and store it at this time. One should sit on

    a clean asana and perform acamana twice. One should first meditate upon the lotus feet of onesspiritual master and recite verses praising him. One should then remember the Supreme Lord SriKrsna and recite verses praising him. Reciting the Lord's glories is a form of kirtana and is an

    effective way of remembering the Lord. By the recitation of verses, the Lord's personal form,

    qualities and pastimes become fixed in the mind.

    4. Recitation of Verses:

    Hari Bhakti VilAsa quotes the following verses from Srimad Bhagavatam as suitable forrecitation at this time. By recitation of these four verses one can remove all the effects of bad


    jayati jana nivaso devaki janma vadoyaduvara parisat svair dorbhir asyann adharmamsthira cara

    vrjina ghnah susmita sri mukhenavraja pura vanitanam vardhayan kamadevamsmrte sakala

    kalyana bhajanam yatra jayatepurusam tam ajam nityam vrajami saranam harimvidagdha gopalavilasininamsambhoga cihnankita sarva gatrampavitram amnaya giram agamyambrahma

    prapadye navanita cauramudgayatinam aravinda locanamvrajangananam divam sprasad

    dhvanihdadhnas ca nirmanthana sabda mistritonirasyate yena disam amangalam

    All glories to Sri Krsna. Krsna is residing within each living entity, yet he is the shelter of all

    living entities. By his mercy he seemed to take birth from the womb of Devaki, and he played the

    role of a member of the Yadu dynasty. Fulfilling one role, he eradicated irreligiousity with hisown arms, and destroyed the pangs of material existence for the moving and non moving entities

    such as the trees and cows of Vrindavana. Yet above all, by his sweet smile, he caused the love

    of the women of Vrindavana and Mathura to increase unlimitedly. I surrender unto the eternal,unborn Lord, by the remembrance of whom one becomes the recipient of all types of

    auspiciousness. I surrender unto the Absolute Truth, who is unapproachable by the eternal

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    sounds of the Vedas, and who is completely pure, and who yet appears in the morning with the

    marks of his loving affairs with the gopis on his limbs, and who is now engaged in stealing and

    eating the butter that they have churned. In the early morning, the kirtana of the gopis, who arefilled with love for the lotus eyed Krsna, touches the very roof of the sky. Mixing with the

    sounds produced from their bangles as they laboriously churn the yoghurt into butter, that kirtana

    dispels all the inauspiciousness of the world. After remembering the Lord one should drink somecharanamrta and with a tulasi leaf sprinkle some on ones head. There are many instances ofdevotional service rendered by previous acharyas who did not care about social behavior when

    intensely absorbed in love for Krishna. Unfortunately, as long as we are within this material

    world, we must observe social customs to avoid criticism by the general populace." Cc MadhyaLila vol 3. p14.

    5. Pranama (obeisances):After waking, chanting the Lord's name, purifying oneself and remembering the spiritual master

    and the Supreme Lord by reciting appropriate verses, one should offer respects to the spiritual

    master and the Lord in the form of pranama or obeisances, accompanied by prayers. There are

    two types of pranamas (more detailed information on pranamas is given later.) Astanga pranama:One should pay obeisances with eight items: feet hands chest, knees, head, vision, mind and

    words. The two feet,, two knees, the chest and head should touch the ground, while the eyesshould be downcast and half open, the mouth should be reciting a suitable prayer and the mindshould meditate that ones head is under the Lord's lotus feet. Panchanga pranama: One should

    pay obeisances with five items: knees, arms, head, intellect and words. The chest does not touch

    the ground. Qualification: Men may perform either type of pranama, but women should performonly panchanga pranama, as it is said that their breasts should not touch the earth. Number:

    According to Hari Bhakti VilAsa one should offer pranamas at least four times. Guru Pramana

    Mantras (example): namah om visnu padaya krsna presthaya bhutale srimate bhaktivedanta

    swamin iti namine namaste sarasvati devam gaura vani pracarine nirvisesa sunyavadi paschatyadesa tarine. Gauranga Pranama Prayer: namo mahavadanyaya krsna prema pradaya te krsnaya

    krsna caitanya name gaura tvise namah. Krishna pranama Prayer: namo brahmanya devaya go

    brahmana hitaya cha jagad dhitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah. he krsna karuna sindho

    dina bandho jagat pate gopesa gopika kanta radha kanta namo'stu te. prasida bhagavan prasidabhagavan (Oh lord, be pleased with me)

    6. Offering of Service:

    pratah prabodhito visno hrsikesena yat tvayayad yat karayasisana tat karomi tavajnaya. O

    Vishnu, Isana, Hrsikesa, master of the senses, having been awakened by you, I am ready to dowhatever you wish me to do. Hari Bhakti VilAsa Ch. 3 v.91, from Vishnu Dharmottara


    1. MALA MUTRA TYAGA (evacuating): After remembering the Lord one should relieveoneself of nature. The scriptures give exact rules for urinating and stooling in order to preserve

    individual and collective health. Some of these rules are difficult to apply in modern city life,

    but, on the other hand, the rules are certainly practical and economical in a rural environment.According to the vedic mentality, there is a prescribed direction for every activity, which ensures

    the most efficient performance of the activity. Thus a particular direction is prescribed for

    passing nature. Though the rules may seem impractical in view of modern toilet systems, one can

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    at least appreciate the keen awareness of the ancient sages concerning proper hygiene. If the

    rules were still followed in India, the towns would certainly be more pleasant for living.

    The practical rules which are still commonly followed are marked *.Forbidden places:* One

    should not relieve oneself in a ploughed field, among growing grains, in a cow pasture, on a road

    or path, on the bank of a river or pond, within the water, where many people congregate, in anydark place.*

    Out of respect, one should not relieve oneself while looking at or facing a brahmana, a guru orany elder, a cow, fire, the sun, the wind, over ashes of a fire, in any sacred place, in a temple, in a

    burning ghat, in a hole where an animal lives, on an ant hill, in the shadow of a tree, or on

    someone else's shadow.

    Location: One should go more than a bowshot from the ones house in the southwest direction; a

    distance of at least three hundred yards from a village; or four times that distance from a town.

    Direction: One should face north while evacuating during the daytime or (if unavoidable) duringthe sandhyas; one should face south while relieving oneself at night.

    Forbidden times: One should avoid relieving oneself during the sandhyas (the period near sunrise

    and sunset).

    Procedure: One should cover the earth with grass, leaves or stones before beginning. One shouldnot wear shoes. One should cover ones head.*

    Kaccha should be undone. This refers to the kaupina or part of the dhoti which acts for that


    The upavita (gayatri thread) should be wound around the right ear. If one fails to do this the

    upavita becomes impure and unusable and one should change the thread. While passing nature,the whole body becomes impure but the right ear remains pure even then. It is said to be

    equivalent to all the sacred tirthas.*One should squat both while urinating or stooling, for health reasons. One should never urinate

    while standing or walking.*

    One should not talk, look here and there, gaze at the stars, the sun or moon, yawn or sneeze

    while in the process of relieving oneself.*One should finish quickly, clean oneself and leave the place promptly.

    2. SAUCHA (cleansing oneself after evacuating):*One should not delay to clean ones private parts, hands and feet after passing nature. As relieving

    oneself is an unavoidable activity, saucha is also unavoidable. By the first activity one becomes

    unavoidably contaminated. To perform any activity one must regain purity, and thus the second

    activity, saucha, is prescribed. By proper saucha, one becomes purified. The vaidic method ofsaucha may appear impractical or fanatical. It was quite practical for the people of previous ages

    as a way of preventing disease. At present, the standard has been minimized to cleaning the

    private parts with water, and then cleaning the hands with soap. The rules regarding the water potand the sacred thread are still intact however. Cleansing Agent: Fine earth is a natural cleansing

    agent for the whole body. It is efficient, readily available, without cost and safe for the skin. One

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    should be careful to select clean earth which has not been previously used for saucha and which

    does not contain insects etc. One should not take earth from an ant hill, from beneath the water,

    or from the foundation of a house. Number of Applications: One should apply earth once to thesex organ, three times to the anus, ten times to the left hand and seven times to both hands

    according to the Vishnu Purana. One should then wash the feet at least once and the hands three

    more times, according to Kasi Khanda. The finger nails should also be cleaned. Or one maycontinue to clean until no bad odor remains. If one is only urinating, one should apply earth onceto the sex organ, three times to the left hand and two times to both hands.

    Exceptions: Saucha may be reduced to one half if at night, if one is sick, if there is some danger

    or fear, or if one is travelling. The rules given above apply to the householder. It is said that

    brahmachari should be twice as clean, the vanaprastha should be three times as clean and the

    sannyasi should be four times as clean. Saucha is considered one of the major duties of thesannyasi. Amount: One should use a quarter of a handful of earth for the first cleaning, and an

    eighth of handful for succeeding applications. The earth should be applied each time with the left

    hand only, and then washed off with plenty of water.

    Water Pot: One should not hold the water pot to be used for cleaning oneself while one is

    relieving oneself, for the water will also become impure by that act. If the container used for thewater is metal, it may be purified and used for other purposes by scrubbing with clean earth. If it

    is not purified in this way it cannot be touched during or after the bath. Otherwise one again

    becomes impure. Since containers made of other materials cannot be properly cleansed, they

    should not be touched after one performs saucha.

    Final Purification: After saucha is complete one should wash the hands with water thoroughly,

    splash water on the feet and perform acamana while remembering the Lord. In this way, after anecessary but impure act, the physical body and mind attain purity. The upavita may then be

    taken from the ear.



    Achamana means literally to sip. As a ritual of purification it means to sip water three times fromthe right hand while saying mantra, and then to touch various sense organs and parts of the body

    with water while saying more mantras. This form of purification has been practiced since time

    immemorial. In that place Srila Vyasa Deva, in his own ashrama, which was surrounded by berrytrees, sat down to meditate after touching water for purification (acamana). SB 1.7.3.

    Purpose: Water is profusely glorified in the Vedas and is used in Vedic rituals for sipping,touching to parts of the body, sprinkling over the body, and for bathing the body. Taking pure,

    cool water internally is purifying and invigorating, both physically and mentally; and, when this

    is accompanied by utterance of the names of Vishnu, one becomes filled with spiritual qualities.

    Acamana is a standard form of purification, prerequisite for meditation, puja, homa and othersacred activities. Types: Achamana may be of different types, arising from different scriptures

    (e.g.. vaidika, srauta, smarta, pauranic, tantric), according to the ceremony and the line of

    teaching one is following. The difference in these achamanas lies mainly in the mantras recited.

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    Occasion: One should perform achamana before any sacred ceremony such as worship of the

    deity, sacrifice, japa, study of scripture, sandhya rites (chanting gayatri mantra) One should

    perform achamanas after eating, drinking, rising from bed, passing stool, urine or semen,bathing, dressing, touching the lips, spitting, coughing, telling a lie, returning home from outside,

    visiting a crematorium or a place where four roads meet, seeing impure things. Often achamana

    is performed twice, as at the beginning of homa or after contacting impure items. Yajnavalkyasays that one should perform acamana twice after bathing, drinking, coughing, sleeping, eating,coming from a road or crematorium or putting on cloth.

    Dress: One should in most cases have trikaccha dhoti or kaupina. One should wear the sacred

    thread (upavita). One should have sikha tied. One should not have the head or throat covered.

    One should not have shoes on. Hands and feet should be clean. Posture: One should sit on an

    asana facing east, in padma or svastika asana. Knees and feet should not be protruding. If theplace does not allow sitting one may squat. One should not be standing. (Exception: one may

    perform acamana while standing if one is in water which is above the knees but below the navel.)

    Place: The place should be clean: free from hair, charcoals, bones, ash or any impure items.Water: The water used for sipping should be pure, and cool, without foam or stagnation bubbles,

    without foul odor or bad taste, untouched by fingernails or hair, or any impure item. HandConfiguration: The right hand should be held so that the forefinger, middle finger and ring finger

    are together and slightly bent upwards, while the little finger and the thumb are separated from

    the other three fingers. Brahma Tirtha: The hand is divided into five parts for offering water to

    different types of living entities: the tips of the fingers are called deva tirtha, for offering tarpanawater to Vishnu; the space between the thumb and forefinger is called pitri tirtha, for offering

    water to the ancestors; the part of the hand at the base of the little finger is called kaya tirtha, for

    offering water to mankind; the center of the palm is called agni tirtha, for proksana (sprinklingwater oneself); the part of the hand at the base of the thumb is called brahma tirtha, for sipping

    water for purification.

    Qualification: A brahmana becomes purified in performing acamana if the water penetrates to

    the heart (i.e. by swallowing the water completely). A kshatriya becomes purified in performing

    acamana if the water reaches his throat. A vaishya becomes purified if the water reaches hispalate (inside his mouth). A shudra or woman becomes purified if the water touches his or her


    Vaisnava Acamana Procedure:

    The following form of acamana is that given in Hari Bhakti Vilasa and Samskara Dipika. It

    includes both sipping of water with the names of Vishnu and touching parts of the body with

    names of Vishnu. Though some manuals abbreviate the acamana by omitting touching parts ofthe body, this abbreviation is not found in the above named scriptures. achamane ei name sparsi

    tat tat sthana: In acamana one says the twelve names of Vishnu while touching the various parts

    of the body. CC Madhya v.8.p.112. One touches various parts of the body because in the

    different organs of the body are located various energies and their devatas. According the thesmrti author Sankha, in the mouth, ganga and yamuna; in the nose the asvini kumaras; in the

    eyes, sun and moon; in the ears, the wind; in the shoulders, all the devatas; at the top of the head,

    paramatma. Each finger also has a deity; in the thumb, agni; in the forefinger, vayu; in the

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    middle finger, prajapati; in the ring finger, surya (associated with the eyes); and in little finger,


    The complete vaisnava achamana is as follows:

    Water, of quantity to cover a grain of urad dhal, should be poured from the left hand by spoon

    into the right palm. One should purify the water in ones palm by ones glance. One should say theappropriate mantra. One should sip the water from the brahma tirtha of the right hand without

    making any noise.

    kesavaya namah sip water from brahma tirtha of right handnarayanaya namah sip water from brahma tirtha of right hand

    madhavaya namah sip water from brahma tirtha of right hand

    govindaya namah sprinkle water on right and visnave namah left hand

    madhusudanaya namah Touch right cheektrivikramaya namah touch left cheek

    vamanaya namah wipe above upper lip with base of thumbs

    ridharaya namah wipe below lower lip with base of thumb (as touching the lips is impure, one

    should curl the fleshy part of the lips within the mouth at this point and wipe the remainingareas.)

    hrsikesaya namah sprinkle water on both handspadmanabhaya namah sprinkle water on feetdamodaraya namah sprinkle water on head

    vasudevaya namah touch near upper and lower lips with tips of three middle fingers

    sankarsanaya namah touch right nostril with thumb and fore fingerpradumnaya namah touch left nostril with thumb and fore finger

    aniruddhaya namah touch right eye with thumb and ring finger

    purusottamaya namah touch left eye with thumb and ring finger

    adhoksajaya namah touch right ear with thumb and ring fingernrsimhaya namah touch left ear with thumb and ring finger

    acyutaya namah touch navel with thumb and little finger

    janardanaya namah touch heart with palm of hand upendraya namah touch head with all fingers

    haraye namah touch right arm with tips of fingerskrsnaya namah touch left arm with tips of fingers.

    Simple Acamana: If one cannot perform the vaisnava achamana, a simple achamana employing

    both sipping water and touching parts of the body popular in North India is as follows: Sprinkle

    water on hands and feet. Sip water from the brahma tirtha three times saying:om visnu sip water

    om visnu sip water

    om visnu sip water (Those who are not initiated may say sri visnu.)

    Wash hands. Touch mouth, right and left nostrils, right and left eyes, right and left ears, the

    navel, heart, top of the head. and arms, with the fingers of the right hand.

    DANTA DHAVANA (cleaning the teeth):

    Before bathing in the morning one must clean the mouth and teeth. If one does not clean the

    teeth one is forbidden from performing deity worship, sacrifices, japa and other spiritual rites .

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    Even if one performs achamana, with uncleaned teeth one remains impure if his teeth have not

    been properly cleaned.


    Cleaning the teeth must be done before bathing because in the process of cleaning the teeth and

    mouth the body and clothing become impure from falling saliva. Thus one should brush onesteeth before the bath and before sunrise; It should be done never while bathing; and never before

    the noon bath. Women should not brush their teeth publicly. The teeth are brushed usually only

    once a day, since too much brushing wears away the teeth. After meals the teeth are usuallycleaned using water only. Those using modern tooth brushes may disregard the following

    information, but should brush their teeth, clean the tongue, and rinses the mouth thoroughly.

    Danta Kastha (twigs): Since reusable plastic tooth brushes and chemical tooth pastes have been

    universally adopted as the modern standard for cleaning teeth, the use of twigs may seem

    primitive, but is sanitary and healthy. According to the vedic tradition, for cleaning the teeth,

    certain twigs or leaves should be used, as they contain natural cleansing agents suitable for the

    health of teeth and gums. It is said that one gains long life from brushing teeth with a twig thatcomes from a tree which oozes white sap, while a bitter twig yields good health; a pungent twig

    yields strength; and an astringent yields comfortable life. Twigs from the nima tree are the mostcommonly used. The twig should be the diameter of the middle or little finger, twelve fingers

    long, with bark intact. Exceptions: Some texts state that brahmacharis and sannyasis should not

    brush their teeth using twigs. Madhvacharya says the same. They may use salt and triphala,

    according to some.

    Forbidden Twigs:

    One should not use twigs from the palasa, banyan or pippal trees for brushing the teeth or formaking shoes, as these trees are worshippable. One should also avoid using twigs from the

    malati, vilva, karavira, arka, khadira and mango trees.

    Forbidden tithis:

    One should not clean the teeth with twigs on pratipat (first day of the waxing or waning moon),

    on sasthi (sixth day), on astami (eighth day), on navami (ninth day), chaturdasi (fourteenth day),purnima (full moon), amavasya (dark moon); neither on Sundays, Saturdays or sankrantis (day

    when the sun enters a new zodiac sign); nor on fasting days (ekadasi or any day of vrata), nor on

    days of observing sraddha rites, since the body is weaker on all these days. Brushing the teethtakes energy from the body, since the gums become slightly damaged. On these days one should

    carefully clean the teeth with a leaf, not damaging the gums. On ekadasi and amavasya even a

    leaf is forbidden. On these days one should simply wash the mouth thoroughly twelve times with

    clean water. On all these forbidden days, however, one should still clean the tongue. In SadhanaDipika, Narayana Bhatta states that Vaishnavas, out of respect for the deity they are

    worshipping, should disregard the forbidden days and brush their teeth every day. The rules for

    forbidden days are not strictly observed at present.

    Procedure: One should begin by chanting:

    ayur balam yaso varcah prajah pasu vasuni cabrahma prajnam ca medham ca tvam no dhehivanaspate

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    Lord of the forest, give us long life, strength, fame, offspring, animals, wealth, spiritual wisdom,

    and intelligence. One should then wash the mouth twelve times with water, wash the twig with

    water, and chew the twig on the smaller end. Facing east or north, one should commence tobrush the teeth. After the teeth are clean, one should bend the twig and clean the tongue. In all

    cases one must clean the tongue. One should then discard the twig in a clean place and rinse the

    mouth twelve more times with water. While brushing the teeth and washing the mouth all fingersexcept the index finger may enter the mouth.

    SIKHAAccording to Vedic custom, upon cuda karanam (hair cutting ceremony) and upon upanayanam

    (Vaidic initiation) a person must shave his head, leaving a tuft of hair called a sikha. The sikha is

    considered a necessary qualification for performing all types of yajna. Therefore traditionally in

    India all the brahmanas whether Vaisnava or otherwise kept a sikha. The ayurveda authoritiesSusruta and Charaka say that shaving the head is beneficial for health, for it bestows long life,

    physical strength and purity of mind. They explain that the sikha remains on the head while the

    rest is shaved in order to protect a sensitive area of the head.

    Size of the sikha:

    The scriptures usually mention that the size and shape of the sikha is according to familytradition. Some say it should be the size and shape of a banyan leaf and others say it should be

    the size of a cow's hoof. Gaudiya Vaishnavas and people of North India usually keep small

    sikhas, maximum one and a half inches diameter. Tying the sikha: The sikha is usually kept tied

    tightly in a knot and is untied only when washing, cleaning or oiling it; when one goes to sleep;or when one attends funeral rites or is in mourning. As an untied sikha is a sign of death in ones

    family, it is considered inauspicious to go about ones daily duties with untied sikha. One who

    bathes with sikha untied is considered a shudra, according to Hari Bhakti Vilasa. It is also saidthat if one keeps the sikha untied, the body becomes weak.

    Procedure: One should not tie the sikha while facing south or while standing. According to HariBhakti Vilasa while tying the sikha one should chant "om" and the gayatri mantra.

    SHAVING:(Shaving and rubbing oil on the body are placed here for convenience, but are usually performed

    before the noon bath rather than the early morning bath.) The rules below are optional, but they

    are given for information's sake, and are commonly observed in some parts of India.


    Cutting hair is said to cause loss of energy. Certain days also put the body into a weak state.Therefore on these day shaving is not recommended, especially for sick or unhealthy people.

    Shaving at night is forbidden. It is done in the daytime, usually before the noon bath. It should

    never be done after eating. It is said that shaving on Sundays reduces ones life by one month;

    shaving on Saturdays reduces ones life by seven months; shaving on Tuesdays reduces ones lifeby eight months. Shaving on Wednesdays increases ones life by five months; shaving on

    Mondays increase life by seven months; shaving on Thursdays increases life by ten months; and

    shaving on Fridays increases life by eleven months. Other authorities say that shaving on Sundaybrings physical well-being; shaving on Monday, bright complexion; shaving on Thursday,

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    success; shaving on Friday, universal respect. Shaving on Tuesdays reduces life span; shaving on

    Saturdays causes decay of the body. Monday is good only during the waxing phase of the moon.

    However, brahmanas may shave on Sundays and kshatriyas may shave on Tuesdays. Sannyasiscustomarily shave on purnima. Of the tithis, prathipat, chaturthi, astami, chaturdasi, purnima,

    amavasya; and sasthis, navamis, dvadasis, sankrantis, and any day of fasting, such as ekadasi, are

    also unfavorable. The favorable tithis are dvitiya, tritiya, panchami, saptami dasami andtrayodasi. The moon in waxing phase is favorable and in the waning phase, particularly the latterhalf, is unfavorable.


    One should not be shaved in a public shop, but in a private place, preferably by the family

    barber. Procedure: Head and face should be shaved, then nails should be cut. Then one should

    take a full bath.


    Rubbing oil on the body, then bathing with water, is called oil bath. If one uses sesame oil, its

    use is forbidden on the same days that shaving is forbidden. This does not apply to mustard,coconut or perfumed oils. Oil bath is undertaken before the noon bath. Oil bath is particularly

    recommended on dasamis.


    Brahmanas start by applying oil to the left foot first and finish with the head. After rubbing theoil well on the body, especially on the head feet and ears, one should bathe thoroughly, for

    having oil on the body is an impure state. While one has oil on the body one is forbidden to pass


    SNANA (bathing):

    Necessity: Having risen from sleep, relieved himself of nature, cleansed himself, brushed histeeth and tied his sikha, the civilized man should then bathe. The Kurma Purana says that withouttaking the pratah snana (bath taken after the dawn but before sunrise) one remains impure, and

    subsequently one cannot perform any of the daily activities of the civilized man. This includes

    japa, homa and deity worship. If one takes his meals without having bathed, then he is said to beeating only filth, for everything he touches becomes as impure as himself. The Padma Purana

    considers the person who does not take bath in the morning to be a sinner fit to suffer in hell.

    Exceptions: It is compulsory for all people except those who are sick. Purpose: The effects ofthe early morning bath are also described in the scriptures. By taking the bath even the sinful

    person can become purified, for it has the power to wash away all external and internal

    contamination's. The bath also gives strength, beauty, good voice, good complexion, sensitivity,

    long life, good odor, effulgence, youthfulness, attractiveness to women, and purity. Taking theearly morning bath increases ones knowledge, fame determination, peace of mind and all good

    fortune and wealth. The early morning bath can remove the effects of heaps of sinful activities,

    unhappiness, lamentation, degradation, bad thoughts and bad dreams. According to Katyayana

    Smrti and Kasi Khanda, with the passage of time during the night, the nine holes of the bodybecome filled with the waste products which are continually being produced by the body. The

    early morning bath most effectively removes all of this dirt so that the body can begin its daily

    activities in a fresh state. In this way the early morning bath has physical, mental and spiritual

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    effects, and is therefore glorified in the scriptures. Because of the importance of the early

    morning bath, the act of bathing has become codified as a sacred ritual for bodily and mental

    purification since time immemorial. Accordingly there are many rules of propriety to beobserved when taking a bath. The purely Vaidic bath is a complicated affair accompanied by

    many mantras, but even the bath in its simplest form should at least be accompanied by the

    chanting of the Lord's sacred names. Types of bath: There are seven types of bath: parthiva(using earth) varuna (using water), agneya (using ashes from the sacrificial fire), vayavya(contacting air filled with dust raised by cows), divya (ethereal bath of rain falling while the sun

    is shining), mantra (chanting appropriate verses), and manasika (by meditation on Visnu). Using

    different elements, they all purify the body of contamination. However, the manasika, mantraand varuna bath are the most important of these. The daily bath is usually the varuna snana

    (water bath).

    1. Manasa Bath:

    Manasa bath consists of remembrance of Lord Vishnu. According to Manu the best of baths is

    the manasa bath, Remembrance of Vishnu is the most powerful means of eradicating all types of


    apavitrah pavitro va sarva vastham gato'pi vayah smaret pundarikaksam sa bahyabhyantarahsucih

    Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.3, V.47 from Garuda Purana. Therefore along with all types of bath onemust take the mental bath.

    2. Mantra Bath: Mantra snana consists of sprinkling water over the body while recitingappropriate verses. This is often performed directly before engaging in worship and vedic

    ceremonies. The common vaidic verse is as follows: om apo hi stha mayo bhuvahta na urje

    dadhatanamahe ranaya caksaseyo vah sivatamo rasahtasya bhajayateha nahusatir ivamatarahtasma aram gamama vahyasya kshayaya jinvathaapo janayatha ca nahOr one maysprinkle water on the body chanting the deity mula mantra (pancaratrika method).

    3. Varuna Bath (Water Bath): The early morning bath should normally be a water bath. This is

    the normal bath for purification.

    Source of Water:

    In order of preference, beginning with the best, one should bath in a holy river, a river which

    runs directly into the sea, (i.e. not a tributary), any river, canal, pond, lake, water fall, or using

    water drawn from a well or other clean source.


    If cool water bath (varuna snana) in the early morning (or at any other time) is difficult becauseof health, then a warm water bath is permitted. Though warm water is also physically purifying,

    it does not have the same value as a cool water morning bath when performing a vrata. Neither

    should one bathe in warm water on the birthday of a son, on a sankranti, or at the time of aneclipse of the sun or moon. If the warm water bath is not possible, one can take bath without

    wetting the head, or by simply rubbing the body with a clean damp cloth. If this cannot be done

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    one must at least take a mantra bath and mental bath. In the case of women, during the daily bath

    they do not have to submerge their heads in water and wet their hair. Full bath for women is

    required however after their monthly contamination period.

    Frequency of Bathing :The brahmachari is obligated to bathe only in the early morning. The

    grihastha and the vanaprastha must take early morning and noon bath. The sannyasi must takebath in the early morning, at noon and before sunset. However, if this is impossible one must at

    least take the early morning bath. Thus the early morning water bath is obligatory for all.

    Other Occasions for Varuna Bath: Besides taking water bath in the morning, noon and evening,

    one must take a varuna snana after shaving, after having sex, after going to the crematorium,

    after touching a woman in her period, or after touching a woman who has just borne a child, aftertouching a naked person, a bearer of a dead body or a person of sinful habits. One should not

    take a bathe during the middle six hours of the night, nor after having taken a meal.

    Forbidden Times for Bathing:

    Bath is forbidden directly after puja, yajna, festivals, visiting a tirtha, performance of otherauspicious ceremonies and meeting with friends. Even if one touches a chandala during a

    wedding, festival, yajna or near a temple, one does not have to bathe.

    Rules (Most of these are commonly observed in India. The most important are marked *):* Oneshould not bathe naked. (Out of respect to the water, out of sense of decency in a public placeand because bathing is a sacred act.) One should not bathe wearing one cloth. (a second cloth is

    usually tied around the waist. In this way one is properly dressed for the sacred act of bathing.)*

    One should wear a kaupina or if not, the cloth should have a tail tucked in at the back (kaccha).(This is a matter of respect to the personality of the water, as well as indicating that one should

    be properly dressed for the sacred act of bathing. This should particularly be observed when

    bathing in a river.) One should not take baths unnecessarily. (Only three times a day plus afterany occasion of impurity.)* One should not bathe in impure water.* One should not bathewithout first having passed nature. (Doing so is like the elephant who bathes very nicely in the

    river and then comes out of the water and throws dust on his body.) One should not accept or

    give greetings while bathing. One should not shake ones wet hair to dry it after bathing. Oneshould not shake water from cloth or legs after bathing.* One should not rub oil on the body after

    bathing. (Oil on the body is considered impure, and should be rubbed on the body before taking

    the water bath.) One should dry ones body with a separate, dry cloth. One should not wipe thebody with the hands, with a dirty cloth, or with the edge of the damp cloth that one is wearing. If

    one wipes oneself with ones bathing cloth one becomes impure again. One should wring ones

    wet cloth so that the water does not fall back into the body of water.


    Two procedures for taking bath are given. The first is the procedure for bathing in a river, and

    may be performed when one has the opportunity to bathe at a tirtha such as Ganga or Yamuna.Traditionally houses were conveniently located near bathing ghatas on a river or lake, or had

    their own private pond for bathing, since bathing was an important part of daily life. Thus the

    daily bath was performed according to the first procedure given. Since at present most people

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    bath in their own houses, the daily bath will be according to the second procedure given, the grha

    snana (house bath). This bath is much simpler.

    A. Tirtha Snana (bathing in a river, lake or any body of water):

    If one is bathing in a river or pond one may do as follows. The procedure for bathing may vary

    according to the tradition one is following. Thus there are different procedures according tovedic, tantric and puranic texts using different mantras. Hari Bhakti Vilasa give an example of a

    bath mixing vaidic and tantric traditions. Since the tirtha snana is not the daily bath for most

    people, only an outline is given here. Full details of all the steps are given in the PracticalManual (prayoga section). One should approach the river, pond or reservoir with fresh cloth and

    cloth for drying the body. One should wash hands and feet. One should sit and perform

    achamana. One should offer arghya (respectful offering of auspicious articles, represented by

    pure water) to the tirtha by taking water in the palms of ones hands and pouring back into thewater. One should then pay obeisances (pranamas) to the tirtha. (specific pranama prayers for

    specific tirthas may be uttered.) Folding ones hands one should beg permission (anujna) to bath

    in the holy water: One should enter into the water and face the current or towards the sun (east).

    One should perform tirtha avahana (calling the tirtha). At a famous tirtha one should glorify thatparticular tirtha and not others, and one should not call other tirthas to be present, for that is

    offensive to the tirtha. At an ordinary river or ghata however one may call ganga etc.

    gange ca yamune caiva godavari sarasvati narmade sindhu kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru

    While standing in the water one should perform pranayama while thinking of Krishna's lotus

    feet, and while repeating his name submerge oneself in water. It is customary while submerging

    oneself to cover ones mouth, eyes, nostrils, and ears with the fingers of both hands. One should

    then take earth from the river bank and apply to the body. One should submerge oneself in watertwelve times saying the twelve names of visnu: keshava, narayana, madhava, govinda, visnu,

    madhusudana, trivikrama, vamana, sridhara, hrsikesha, padmanabha, damodara. One should thenpour the foot water from guru or elders or brahmanas (if present) over ones head, and then drinkvisnu charanamrta and pour some over ones head. Cupping ones hands one should gather water

    in ones hands and pour over the head three times while reciting krsna mula mantra. Coming out

    of the water one should perform acamana again, and then wipe ones limbs with a dry cloth whilereciting the twelve names of ganga or other stotras:

    nalini nandini sita malini ca mahapagavisnu padarghya sambhuta ganga tri pathagaminibhagirathi bhogavati jahnavi tridasesvari

    The water from wringing ones wet cloth should not fall back into the river or pond. One shouldthen dress and apply tilaka.

    Ganga Snana:If one is bathing in the actual Ganga before entering one may recite:

    om gange devi jagan mata padabhyam salilam tavasprsamity aparadham me prasanna ksantumarhasi. While bathing one may recite: visnu padarghya sambhuta gane tripathagaminidharma

    draviti vikhyate papam me hara jahnavisraddhaya bhakti sampanne srimatar devi

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    jahnaviamrtenambuna devi bhagirathi punihi mamvisnu pada prasutasi vaisnavi visnu devatapahi

    nastvenasas tasmad ajanma maranantikat

    Yamuna Snana:

    Bathing in the yamuna one may say:

    kalinda tanaye devi paramananda vardhinisnami te salile sarvaparadhan mam vimocaya

    B. Grha Snana (bathing in the house):

    If one cannot go to a river or ghata one may bath in ones house as follows: One should first wash

    ones hands and feet, and then sitting, perform achamana. One should then call the tirthas intoones bath water from the sun planet by showing the ankusa mudra while reciting:

    gange ca yamune caiva godavari sarasvati narmade sindhu kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru.

    One should then remember the spiritual master and beg permission from the Lord to bathe in his

    water. One should then pour the water over ones head saying om namo narayanaya, whilemeditating on the lotus eyed Lord as effulgent as a million suns, with four arms carrying conch,lotus, club and disc; who is wearing yellow silk robes, whose dark body is covered with

    sandalwood paste; whose face is pleasing with a sweet smile, being lit by the glitter from his

    jewel-inlaid shark earrings, and who is garlanded by fresh flowers and decorated with armlets;belt and golden crown, and is surrounded by a multitude of sages headed by Narada. One should

    meditate that from the lotus feet of Narayana, who resides upon the water, is flowing a stream of

    sacred water which falls upon ones head, enters the brahma randhra, and cleanses the body of allfoul matter. This is the manasa snana the best of all baths. One may pour water from the feet of

    guru, elders, sankha and salagrama sila over ones head.

    NOTE: The most important element in this bath is remembrance of the Lord (manasa snana) andchanting the names of the Lord. Though all other elements may be overlooked, these two acts

    should always be performed while bathing. In this way the bath retains its sacred nature.

    TARPANA (satisfying obligations):

    As a rule, every human being is indebted to God, the demigods, great sages, other living entities,people in general, forefathers, etc. for various contributions received from them. Thus everyone

    is obliged to repay the debt of gratitude. SB3.3.26. A person is indebted to those who have

    contributed to his present position (devas, rsis, bhuta, men and pitrs) and one must pay the debt.

    One does this in a simply way, by means of offering water to them. By this they derivesatisfaction (trpti). The system of offering water is therefore called tarpana. As far as the servant

    of Mukunda is concerned, his act of surrender covers all debts (rni) to all living entities. If the

    Lord is satisfied, all living beings are also satisfied. Therefore the devotee of Krsna need not

    actually perform these tarpanas. devarsi bhutatma nrnam pitrnamna kinkaro nayam rni carajansarvatmana yah saranam saranyamgato mukundam pari hrtya kartam. One who giving up

    all other duties, has taken shelter of Mukunda, by body, mind, words and soul, has no obligations

    to the devas, rsis, living entities, men or forefathers. However, though such nitya kriyas are notnecessary for the devotee, sometimes they may be performed. Thus Krsna himself performed

    tarpana. There are many instances of devotional service rendered by previous acharyas who did

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    not care about social behavior when intensely absorbed in love for Krsna. Unfortunately, as long

    as we are within this material world, we must observe social customs to avoid criticism by the

    general populace. CC Madhya v.3.p.14. As the devotee does not normally perform vaidic orpuranic tarpana, the rules for its performance and the mantras are given in the prayoga section.

    VASTRA PARIDHANA (dressing):After bathing one should dress properly. If one is dressed improperly one is considered naked. to

    be naked is to be uncivilized. To cover the lower part of the body is a principle of human

    civilization, and when a man or woman forgets this principle, they become degraded. KrsnaBook I, p.70.

    Improper Cloth: Brightly colored cloth (for men), damp cloth, cloth which is too long or tooshort to be worn properly, stitched cloth, torn cloth, oil-stained or dirt-stained cloth, burned

    cloth, cloth chewed by animals or insects, and unclean cloth should not be worn.

    Unclean Cloth: Cloth which has already been worn, but has not been washed and dried again is

    considered unclean. Silk, however, is an exception. It may be worn many times, provided it doesnot contact impure items. Cloth worn while sleeping, passing urine or stool, while having sex is

    unclean. (Wool is an exception.) Cloth which touches any impure items such as wine, meat,blood, a dead body or a woman in her period of contamination is unclean. Cloth washed by a

    laundry man is unclean. Cloth which though washed, has become stale, are also unclean.

    Cleaning Cloth: Cotton becomes clean by washing with water, or water and soap, and drying.

    Silk may be cleaned using water or water and soap. Wool becomes clean by contact with air, fire,

    sun or moon light (gross contamination needs washing).

    Upper Cloth:

    One should wear an upper as well as a lower cloth. Wearing only a lower cloth is improper. Thetop cloth is properly worn over the left shoulder, in the position that the sacred thread normally

    rests. If a grihastha is wearing three upavitas (nine strands of gayatri thread) the top cloth is not

    considered obligatory, but is still usually worn out of decorum. Exception: In coming before theLord, however, the scriptures say that one should not wear a cloth covering the upper body, as a

    sign of humility: Anyone who offers respects and obeisances to the deity while wearing garments

    on the upper portion of his body is condemned to be a leper for seven births. CC Antya v.4.p.68.This rule is still observed in South India. At the Padmanabha temple in Trivandrum and the

    Madhvacharya's Krsna Temple at Udupi, men are not allowed to come before the deity without

    first taking off their shirts. The upper cloth may be worn around the waist, in the case of pujaris.

    This rule does not seem to be strictly followed in North India however.

    Lower Cloth:

    The lower cloth should be worn properly, i.e. in tri kaccha style. Tri kaccha refers to tucking inthe hem (kaccha) of the dhoti three times. This means one should wear ones cloth with the dhoti

    tail tucked in at the back. This originally served the function of kaupina. If one is wearing a

    kaupina however, this rule is not so strictly applied, though it is still commonly observed as theproper mode of dress for deity worship, sacrifice, ceremonial functions, reading scripture and

    eating. Color: According to some scriptures (Grha Sutras), a brahmana brahmachari should wear

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    earth-colored or white cloth, kshatriya brahmachari should wear reddish cloth and vaishya

    brahmachari should wear yellow cloth. At present brahmacharis often are seen wearing white,

    and reddish color is reserved for those fixed in fixed brahmacharya and for sannyasis. Accordingto Manu, brahmana householders should wear white, kshatriyas should wear red, vaishyas should

    wear yellow and shudras should wear blue. Thus it is the custom even at present for the male

    grihastha to wear clean white cloth. The prescribed colors for the other ashramas are notgenerally followed at present. Vanaprasthas if still living with their wives remain wearing whitecloth. Sannyasis should wear reddish cloth.

    Dress in Kali Yuga:

    So far as your dress is concerned, that is immaterial. But as a soldier you know that every soldier

    has got a uniform dress according to the army etiquette of regulation. Therefore, the army of

    Krsna consciousness must have at least the tilaka on the forehead in all conditions. For yourbusiness you can wear your naval service uniform; similarly, if you have tilaka on your forehead

    as a soldier of Krsna consciousness, you may not have so much objection, because it is essential.

    letter from Srila Prabhupada, Robert Hendry, Aug.3., 1969

    ASANA (seat):

    After dressing one should sit on an asana and perform achamana. The seat of a sannyasi shouldbe white and shaped like a turtle. Other persons should use a rectangular asana with four legs.

    The asana should not be made of cowdung, clay, palasa wood, asvattha (pippal) wood, or arka

    wood. It should not be trimmed with iron and should not be broken. One should sit on the asana

    in svastika or padma asana with knees and feet covered.


    AIn Kali Yuga one can hardly acquire gold or jeweled ornaments, but the twelve tilaka marks onthe body are sufficient as auspicious decorations to purify the body. SB4.12.28. Tilaka refers to

    marking the body with different substances. Urdhva pundra refers to the two vertical marksplaced on the forehead and other parts of the body in order to indicate ones surrender to Vishnu.According to the Padma Purana and Yajur Veda, these two vertical marks symbolize the lotus

    feet of Visnu. Necessity: All of you except a sannyasi may dress yourself just like a fine up-to-

    date American gentleman but one must have the tilaka etc. as I have mentioned. letter from SrilaPrabhupada Calcutta, Oct.11, 1967.

    The Padma Purana says that if one does not wear urdhva pundra one has no qualification forperforming yajna, charity, austerity, vedic study, sandhya rites or any authorized activities. The

    person without urdhva pundra is no better than a dead man, and the person who wears horizontal

    marks, having broken the temple of Vishnu (urdhva pundra), goes to hell. Seeing such a person

    one should look at the sun for purification or bathe in a river or pond with ones clothes on. Byapplying the mark of the Lord and chanting his name, the Lord becomes pleased and comes to

    reside with the devotee. In this way the material body becomes the sanctified temple of the Lord.

    The tilaka is applied to twelve parts of the body, which indicate energy centers (i.e. in the

    forehead, navel, heart, throat and top of the head, with protection on the sides and back as well)which are important for proper functioning of the body and mind. Placing tilaka and reciting

    Vishnu's names on these places sanctifies then and dedicates them to Vishnu's service. Krsna is

    actually present everywhere. ...This is a process of meditation on the Lord's situation in the

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    different parts of the body, but for those who are not Vaishnavas, great sages recommend

    meditation on the bodily concept of life-- meditation on the intestines, on the heart, on the throat,

    on the eyebrows, on the forehead and then on the top of the head. Krsna Book II, P147.


    The urdhva pundra may vary in shape, color and material according to ones sampradaya, butother features are shared. It should not be crooked, uneven, uncentered, dirty or bad smelling.

    The center portion should be open from eyebrows to the hair line, but it should be joined at the

    bottom .The solid portion may extend three quarters of the way down the nose. Visnu is said toreside in the central portion, while Brahma resides on the left and Siva on the right. It should not

    be too long or too short: Brahmanda Purana says that urdhva pundra ten fingers long is best, nine

    fingers long is mediocre and eight fingers long is the minimum length. Material: Ash being tama

    guna and red candana, being raja guna, should not be used. Earth, being sattva guna, should beused. Earth from a tirtha such as Radha Kunda or Ganga, earth from a river bank or an ant hill, or

    earth from beneath a tulasi tree may also be used. One may apply tilaka using candana which has

    been offered to the deity. Gopi candana, a special earth from Dvaraka, is especially glorified in

    the scriptures. It is so pure that a cow killer or great sinner can become purified of his sin simplyby touching it. According to the Skanda Purana, the person who has tulasi, conch, salagrama,

    dvaraka chakra, and gopichandana in his house has no fear of going to hell.

    According to the Garuda Purana if one performs his rites without proper mantra or fails to

    perform sraddha rites, by wearing gopichandana he still receives the permanent benefits of those

    activities. If all the above are unavailable one may apply tilaka using charanamrta water from thedeity.

    Procedure:One should pour some water (preferably ganga water) in the left palm and, grasping the gopi

    candana in the right hand, one should rub it in clockwise direction in the water until sufficienttilaka is made. The tilaka should be applied by the right hand, using the fingers but not the fingernails. Using the ring finger bestows whatever one desires, using the middle finger bestows long

    life, using the thumb bestows good health, and using the index finger bestows liberation.

    One should apply the tilaka reciting the names of Vishnu.

    keshavaya namah on the forehead

    narayanaya namah on the stomachmadhavaya namah on the chest

    govindaya namah on the hollow of the throat

    visnave namah on the right side

    madhusudanaya namah on the right armtrivikramaya namah above the right collar bone

    vamanaya namah on the left side

    sridharaya namah on the left arm

    hrsikesaya namah above the left collar bonepadmanabhaya namah on the back of the neck

    damodaraya namah on the back at waist level

    vasudevaya namah wash hands and touch top of head.

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    Optionally one may also recite the kirita mantra while touching the top of the head:

    om sri kirita keyura hara makara kundalacakra sankhagada padma hasta pitambara dharasri vatsankita

    vaksah sthala sri bhumisahitasvatma jyotir

    diptikaraya sahasraditya tejase namo namah

    I pay my respects to the Supreme Lord who is effulgent as a thousand suns, who is accompanied

    by his consort Sri Bhumi, whose chest is decorated with the srivatsa, who wears yellow cloth andholds the conch wheel club and lotus, and has ornaments of earrings, necklaces, armlets and

    crown. One should perform acamana once more.

    Mudras (stamps):

    Mudras are stamps of items such as conch or disc which may be applied to the body. Some

    sampradayas apply mudras permanently or periodically by pressing hot metal stamps on variousparts of the body, either at the time of initiation or on the dvadasi tithi at the beginning of

    chaturmasya vrata. Gaudiya Vaishnavas apply the mudras using gopi candana. Gautamiya Tantrasays that one should place chakra on the right arm, conch on both arms, club on the left arm,

    chakra on the left arm below the club, lotus on both arms above the conch, knife on the chest andbow and arrow on the head. On the right hand one should put matsya and on the left hand,

    kurma. The names of the Lord may also be stamped on the body with gopichandana. This is

    common amongst Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

    TULASI KANTHI MALA (tulasi neck beads):

    Like urdhva pundra, neck beads worn around the neck indicate ones surrender to the Lord, andtherefore a person wearing tulasi around his neck is dear to the Lord. However, a person who

    wears tulasi neck beads in order to look like a Vaisnava for material reasons, and who is not

    seriously endeavoring to surrender, becomes an offender. According to sampradaya, the beadsworn by the devotee may be tulasi, lotus seed or amalaki fruit. All are praised in the scriptures.Some people wear the beads only while performing puja, japa or other sacred functions, and take

    them off when bathing or leaving the house. Such persons will therefore put the beads around

    their neck after bathing and dressing and putting on tilaka. Gaudiya Vaishnavas however weartulasi neck beads permanently, on the basis of scriptural injunctions to wear the tulasi mala at all

    times. As well, the beads protect the person from bad dreams, accidents, attack by weapons, and

    from the servants of Yamaraj. Upon seeing tulasi mala the servants of Yama flee like leavesscattered by the wind.

    yajopavita badddhayam sada tulasi malikanasaucham dharane tasya yatah sa brahma rupini

    Just as the sacred thread must always be worn, even to drink water, so tulasi beads should always

    be worn. They never become impure, being spiritual substance. Padma Puranasnana kale tuyasyange drsyate tulasi subhagangadi sarva tirthesu snatam tena na samsayaah. That person who

    is seen to have tulasi on his neck when bathing has without doubt gained the benefits of bathing

    in the Ganga and all other holy tirthas. Skanda Puranayat kanthe tulasi nasti tenara mudhamanasahanna vistha jalam mutram payasam rudhira bhavet. One who does not wear tulasi beads

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    is the most fallen person; his food becomes stool, the water that he drinks becomes urine, and

    milk becomes as impure as blood.

    Mala Samskara:

    According to the scriptures, before wearing tulasi mala one should offer them to the Lord: haraye

    narpayet yas tu tulasi kastha sambhavammalam dhatte svayam mudhah sa yat narakam dhruvam.The fool who wears tulasi mala without first offering them to the Lord certainly goes to hell.

    Hari Bhakti Vilasa Ch.4, V.310, from Skanda Purana.

    The procedure is as follows:

    One should first wash the beads in pancha gavya:

    Over the cow urine one should chant: brahma gayatri.Over cow dung one should chant:

    om gandha dvaram duradharsamnitya pustam karisinimisvarim sarva bhutanamtva ahopahvaye


    Over milk one should chant; om a pyayasva sametute visvatah soma vrsnyambhava vajasyasangathe.

    Over ghee one should chant:

    om tejo'si sukram asiamrtam asi dhamanan asipriyam devanam anadhrstamdeva vajanam asi.

    Over the yoghurt one should chant:

    dadhi kravno akarisimjisnor asvasya vajinahsurabhi no mukha karatprana ayumsi tarisat.

    Over kusa water one should chant;

    om devasya tva savituhprasave'svinor bahubhyampusne hastabhyam adade.

    One should mix the substances together and chant brahma gayatri over the mixture and bathe the

    beads in the mixture.One should wash the beads in pure water. One should chant the mantra that one will chant on the

    beads, and the gayatri, eight times over the beads. One should purify the beads by passing them

    through incense smoke.

    One should chant the following mantra over the beads:

    om sadhyo jatam prapadyamisadyo jataya vai namahbhave bhave nati bhavebhajasva mambhavodbhavaya namah.

    One should place the beads around the deity's neck and then receive them, saying:

    tulasi kastha sambhute male krsna jana priyebibhrami tvam aham kanthe kuru mam krsna


    Oh tulasi mala, worshipped by the devotees of Krsna, I will now wear you around my neck.Please make me the recipient of Krishna's affection. One should then wear the beads around ones


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    NOTE: The principle here is that the devotee should accept the prasadam of the Lord. Tulasi,

    being one of the Lord's intimate associates, cannot be enjoyed independently by the ordinary

    living entity. Thus tulasi is first offered to the Lord and then received by the devotee as theLord's mercy. If the procedure mentioned above cannot be followed, at least the neck beads

    should be worn by or touched to the deity before wearing on ones own body.

    SANDHYA VANDANA (chanting the gayatri mantra)

    Qualification for Vaidic Gayatri:

    The brahma gayatri mantra is given to males who are qualified as brahmana, kshatriya andvaishya, at the initiation samskara known as upanayanam, and signifies the beginning of

    gurukula life when the child commences his spiritual education. As those of shudra qualities can

    derive no benefit from chanting this mantra and will simply waste time and commit offense,, the

    scriptures forbid giving this mantra to sudras. Since women are classed with shudras, and are notallowed to chant vedic mantras, traditionally they are not given the brahma gayatri, nor do they

    receive the sacred thread or attend gurukula. Women are allowed to chant pancaratrika mantras

    and gayatris (e.g.. gopala mantra, kama gayatri) since there are no such restrictions on

    pancaratrika mantras.

    Initiation:The upanayanam is the major samskara of life. In this ceremony the child is initiated into

    spiritual knowledge by the guru (traditionally the father) who gives the child the gayatri mantra

    and explains its meaning and the method of chanting. At this time the boy takes the dress of the

    brahmachari and the gayatri thread (upavita), and begins learning the duties of civilized man.When his spiritual education is completed the boy graduates and may take up household life.

    Procedure for Chanting:As the chanting of the gayatri mantra is a spiritual practice which will continue daily for the

    duration of life of the individual, pure offenseless chanting of the mantra is fundamental. Toencourage pure chanting, in order to purify the mind and thus, traditionally, aid concentration onthe mantra, various rituals have been prescribed along with the chanting of the mantra: acamana,

    pranayama, sankalpa, marjana (sprinkling the body with water), aghamarsana (method of

    purifying the body), offering of arghya, offering of tarpana to Vishnu, nyasa, dhyana, gayatriavahana (calling the presiding deity of the mantra), the actual japa, gayatri visarjana (dismissing

    gayatri devi), prayers to the sun, obeisances to the forms of gayatri, to the directions, to Vishnu

    and his associates, and dedication of self to the Lord. The chanting of the gayatri mantra along

    with performance of the rituals is called sandhya vandana. The procedures and prayers arestandard even today, with minor variations according to the Veda one follows (rg, yajur, or

    sama) and according to locality and sampradaya. Since the standards are well known, Hari

    Bhakti Vilasa explains the importance of performing sandhya vandana but does not give details

    on it execution. All the rites are for the purpose of pure chanting of the vedic mantra, which isdifficult to chant correctly and with effect. If one can chant the mantra without offense, and thus

    gain the benefit, the accompanying rituals may be discarded. A sample sandhya vandana

    procedure is given in the practical manual.

    Frequency of Chanting; ahar ahah sandhya upasita. According to the Vedas, one who has been

    given the mantra must chant the gayatri mantra at the sandhyas every day for the duration of his

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    life. Marici says that one who does not know the sandhyas or perform worship of them (i.e. chant

    the gayatri mantra at the proper times of day) is a sudra.

    Calculation of Sandhyas: The first sandhi(the period joining night and day) lasts from 24

    minutes before sunrise to 24 minutes after sunrise. During this time the first sandhya rites of the

    day should be performed. It is also said that chanting when the stars are still visible in the sky isthe best; chanting when the stars have disappeared but the sun has not yet risen is second class;

    and chanting when the sun is visible is third class. The second sandhioccurs at that time of day

    when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky, midway between sunrise and sunset. If onedivides the daylight hours into five equal parts, the first part is called pratah or early morning; the

    second part is called sangava or forenoon; the third part is called madhyahna or noon; the fourth

    part is called parahna or after noon; and the fifth period is called sayahna or the end of the

    daylight, twilight. One should perform the second gayatri japa during the third period of the day,madhyahna.The evening sandhyastarts 24 minutes before the sunset and lasts until 24 minutes

    after sunset. Chanting the gayatri mantra within the 24 minutes before the sunsets is best;

    chanting after the sun sets but before the stars appear in the sky is second class; chanting after

    sunset after stars have appeared in the sky is third class. The scriptures have given exact detailson the proper times to chant the gayatri mantra because these times are the most conducive parts

    of the day for meditative practices.

    Neglect of the Sandhyas: If one neglects to chant the brahma gayatri at the proper time it is

    considered a sin, an offense to Gayatri Devi, the personification of the sandhyas. One may

    overcome that sin by chanting the mantra ten extra times when one finally manages to chant.However, if the first gayatri has not been chanted by noon, one should fast from the noon meal,

    and if one has not chanted the morning gayatri by nightfall, then he should also fast from his

    second meal. If one neglects the gayatri for a complete day, one should fast on the next day. Ifone neglects the mantra for a year he loses his right to chant the mantra.

    Place: Chanting the gayatri mantra in ones house has a quality rating of one. Chanting the gayatrimantra in open area such as a field has a rating of ten. Chanting on a river bank or up to the

    knees in water has a rating of 100,000. Chanting in the proximity of the Lord has a rating of

    infinity. One should not chant in a vehicle or on a bed. One should not chant with ones back toan acharya or guru, a temple, a murti, water, fire or a pippal tree.

    Cleanliness: One should have cleaned his teeth and mouth in the morning before bath. Oneshould be bathed. One should have clean hands.

    Dress: Ones cloth should be clean, i.e. freshly washed. One should be clothed in lower and uppercloth, wearing either kaupina or tri kaccha dhoti. One should not be wearing wet or damp cloth.

    one should have tilaka on twelve parts of the body. One should have sikha tied. One should not

    be wearing shoes.

    Posture and Direction: One should stand facing east in the morning.One should stand facing the

    sun or sit facing east at noon. One should sit facing north or west in the evening.

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    Position of Hands: Ones hands should always be covered with a cloth when chanting the gayatri.

    Ones upper cloth may be used. The hands should not touch below the waist. If they do, one

    should wash them. Therefore, the dhoti or lower cloth should not be used to cover the hands.While counting the gayatri japa on the fingers, the fingers should be as straight as possible, and

    should not be open but held together with no spaces between them. According to the Vyasa

    Smrti one should chant the gayatri japa in the morning with the hands raised at nose level, withthe palms held upwards. One should perform gayatri japa at noon with the hands at chest levelwith palms facing the heart. One should perform gayatri japa in the evening with the hands at

    navel level, palms facing downwards.

    Forbidden Activities: One should not look here and there. One should not yawn, spit or doze.

    One should not talk. If an important person such as an acharya comes, one should interrupt ones

    japa, give proper reception to the person, and with his permission resume ones activities.

    Types of Japa: The best mode of chanting the brahma gayatri is manasika, or in the mind,

    silently. Yajnavalkya says that one should meditate on the syllable of the mantra, the meaning of

    each word, and the meaning of the whole mantra, without moving the lips or tongue, withoutshaking the head or neck and without showing the teeth.

    Number of Japa: The minimum number of times one should chant the gayatri mantra is ten

    times. One may chant 100 times or 1000 times.

    Knowledge: One should know the meaning of the mantra being recited; aviditartha mantra

    anustheyartha prakasana samartha na bhavatiOne who does not know the meaning of the mantra

    will not be able to accomplish the goal which is intended by the chanting of the mantra.Yajnavalkya Smrti.

    Meaning: Gayatri in the general sense refers to a type of stanza used frequently in vedic hymns,which consists of three parts of eight syllables each. The original and most famous verse in this

    form is the brahma gayatri, which was handed down by the disciplic line from Visvamitra Rsi.

    All vedic mantras, of which the brahma gayatri is one, are eternal sound vibration of spiritualimport. The Vedas are apaurseya; that is, not composed by any man at a certain point in history.

    The mantras of the Vedas are eternal representations of God in the form of sound, sabda brahma.

    Each mantra is a particular combination of sounds, words, meaning, rhythm, intonation or pitch,with a particular presiding deity and particular purpose. If one is not a shudra by nature,

    controlled by the mode of ignorance, by repetition of a particular mantra under authorized

    guidance, one can realize the spiritual purpose of the mantra. The first mantra is pranava "om".

    The Vedas glorify "om" as the origin of the whole material creation and as the origin of theVedas. For this reason it is prefixed to every Vedic mantra. "Om" expands into the vyahrtis

    (bhuh, bhuvah, svah), which indicate the whole expanse of the creation: the earth and the lower

    planetary systems, the region of sky, and the upper planetary systems. The Vyahrtis then expand

    into the brahma gayatri mantra. The gayatri mantra expands into all the Vedas. The pranava, thevyahrtis and the brahma gayatri, combined together, are considered to be the essence of the

    Vedas and the most potent of mantras. Therefore repetition of these sounds has remained the

    corner stone of spiritual upliftment (upa nayanam) in vedic culture since time immemorial,transmitted confidentially to all men of the three upper varnas of the Aryan civilization, in order

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    that they commit it to daily practice in a serious manner for the duration of their lives. The

    gayatri mantra is a verse constituted of sounds. These sounds are non different from the

    personality of Gayatri Devi, the consort of Vishnu. She is also called Laksmi, Sarasvati, Savitri,and Sandhya. After purifying oneself by acamana, pranayama, aghamarsana, nyasa and dhyana,

    one calls gayatri Devi from the sun planet into ones heart through meditation. Chanting of the

    gayatri mantra is worship of Gayatri Devi. By this worship one gains her mercy. By gaining themercy of gayatri devi, the energy of the Lord, one can approach Vishnu. Vishnu is residing in thesun planet, as the object of meditation in the gayatri mantra. Vishnu is also residing in the heart.

    By chanting the gayatri mantra (the sound representation of Gayatri Devi), at the sandhyas (the

    time representation of Gayatri Devi) one gains the mercy of the Lord's energy. By her mercy oneis able to penetrate through ignorance and realize service to Visnu. Therefore the purpose of

    chanting gayatri mantra is to lead the person to realization of the all powerful, omniscient Lord,

    and to act with that realization in daily life, in full Krsna consciousness. The mantra indicates

    Vishnu as the Supreme Lord, transcendental to the material creation, and indicates the jiva as theeternal servant of the Lord. Brahma Gayatri as explained in Agni Purana, commentary by Srila

    Jiva Goswami. The Agni Purana discusses the brahma gayatri in order to show that the object of

    worship for all people is Vishnu alone. First, there is discussion of the name of the verse, whichis called variously gayatri, savitri and sarasvati. These names also denote three consorts of the

    Lord. When these names are applied to the verse, they indicate that the verse itself is non-

    different from the energy of the Lord, a sound embodiment of his sakti.

    The word gayatri is analyzed into two parts: gaya and tri. Gaya means to reveal and tri means the

    three vedas or the essence of the three vedas. thus gaya tri means to reveal the meaning of thethree vedas. The essence of the three vedas is the cause of all life and consciousness, the ever-

    effulgent Lord Vishnu.. Thus, gayatri indicates that verse which reveals the Supreme Lord

    Vishnu; or the energy (consort) of the Lord, who reveals her Lord. The word savitr means the

    consort of savita. The word savita means that person who stimulates or inspires, and refers to theoriginal cause of all beings and things. Savitri therefore means that verse or energy of the Lord

    who reveals or bestows Savita, the Supreme Lord. The word sarasvati refers to the goddess of

    knowledge and expression. Applied to the gayatri verse, it signifies that this verse is the essence

    of all verbal and artistic expression, the culmination and source of all knowledge.

    What does the verse or energy of the Lord reveal? The words tat and bharga indicate the parabrahman. Bharga means literally that which is effulgent and full of life and energy. It signifies

    the independent, self-effulgent source, who is situated much like the sun within this universe,

    which appears to the mundane eye as the independent source of all light. According togrammarians such as Panini, bharga means the source of all light. By this reasoning, the gayatri

    verse does not indicate sun worship, which is material, but rather worship of the ultimate,

    spiritual source of all light and life, the Supreme Lord. The import of bharga is further clarified

    by its modifier, the word varenyam. This word indicates the best amongst all forces or thepersonality who is the ultimate shelter, or paramam padam. Literally it means that which should

    be sought out or chosen by all people. The words om bhur bhuvah svah also indicate Vishnu. om

    is his sound representa