Calcutta, India — Sunday, March 21st

Service life

Devashish Prabhu, the secretary of the London branch of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, has compiled and published a very nice little book, Service Life, which is full of "reflections, reminders and guidelines of Vaishnava standards, behavior and etiquette."

Service Life is divided into four sections: the basics of sadhana (daily devotional duties), the higher standard of behavior expected from devotees living in our temples and ashrams, the significance of ekadasi and other Vaishnava holy days, and "important texts of instruction" from our guru-varga.

The cover of this timely eighty-page book is elegantly decorated by Rasa-Mayi Pandita Devi Dasi. (Who says you can't design nice book covers using only santa rasa objects? :)

Although newer devotees can benefit tremendously from this book, it is not just for beginners; even we 'veterans' sometimes need to be reminded of some of the finer points of proper Vaishnava etiquette, and we might even learn something. Did you know that you should not offer obeisances while holding your japa mala (or anything else) in your hands? I didn't.

The book is chock-full of pointers and tips on things like not only how to properly honor prasadam (be punctual — don't make prasadam wait; don't serve yourself) but how to serve prasadam as well (devotees should be seated when served — don't make devotees queue up, plate in hand; the order in which different preparations are served), and has an extensive section with practical advice on chanting the maha-mantra (how to chant, best time to chant, what to think of when chanting, proper care of japa mala).

What did Srila Sridhar Maharaj call the "trade secret of devotion" and Srila Govinda Maharaj say was "the only means to success in service life"? If you don't know the answer, then you need to read this book.

Devashish Prabhu was trained in India by the best, and here he shares some of the "trade secrets" that he learned at the feet of our masters and their disciples. All our devotees should have this handy reference book in their library.

Tags: Books & Reviews

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Layout by iMonk — March 21st, 2010.