The limbs of bhakti

The first ten limbs of bhakti are prescriptions

We now examine the rest of the limbs of bhakti. Rupa Goswami writes about these: eṣām atra daśāṅgānāṁ bhavet prārambha-rupatā: these ten limbs are the beginning of bhakti. We list them below (starting from the fourth limb as the first three limbs are discussed elsewhere).

  1. guru-pādāśraya tasmāt = taking shelter of the guru
  2. kṛṣṇa-dīkṣādi śikṣaṇam = taking dīkṣā and studying under the guru
  3. viśrambheṇa guroḥ sevā = serving the guru with sincerity.
  4. sādhu-vartmānuvartanam  = following the path of great devotees.
  5. sad-dharma-pṛcchā = inquiring about sad-dharma. Asking questions, inquiry etc. is part of bhakti. This implies of course that one has to to study1.
  6. bhogādi-tyāgaḥ kṛṣṇasya hetave = giving up objects of material enjoyment or activities, for getting Kṛṣṇa’s grace (according to Jiva Goswami). So the sadhaka gives up activities that are not favorable for bhakti because they displease Kṛṣṇa.
  7. nivāso dvārakādau ca gaṅgāder api sannidhau  = residence in Dvārakā, Gaṅgā or other holy places.
  8. vyāvahāreṣu sarveṣu yāvad-arthānuvartitā  = in all dealings, exert oneself only as much as necessary. If one is working at a business or job, one has to keep in mind that one is a devotee, and all one’s activities are ultimately meant for bhakti.
  9. hari-vāsara-sammāno = observing Hari’s days, like ekādaśī, and also observing other days like Janmāṣṭamī. Ekādaśī is the eleventh day of the fortnight. It is Kṛṣṇa’s day because there are eleven senses, and Kṛṣṇa is the master of the senses1. Fasting and chanting can help control the senses.
  10. dhātry-aśvatthādi-gauravam = respecting trees like Amla and Aśvattha and plants like tulasi. Vaishnavas respect plants, animals, humans and indeed all life.

Reflection will show that many of the above limbs of bhakti are just natural for someone who has bhāva for Kṛṣṇa. As they are not natural for the sādhaka, they are presented as prescriptions. By practicing them, they eventually become part of one’s nature.


  1. भक्ति रसामृत सिंधु lectures, Bhakti Tirtha II, Shri Satyanarayana dasa Babaji, Jiva Institute, Vrindavan. 2017. 

 

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