The Daily Observances of a Devotee

As soon as a person is initiated, he is expected to observe certain rules and practices, no matter whether he is a celibate or a householder, whether he resides within a satra precinct or in a village or city.

A devotee should rise from his bed before sunrise with the name of Mādhava in his lips. He should then utter the eight auspicious names of Nārāyana - Visnu, Kesava, Hari, Nārāyana, Hamsa, Acyuta, Satya, and Janārddana as soon as he sets foot on the ground.

After answering the call of nature in the morning and bathing in the mode prescribed (by uttering the names of the Lord), the devotee puts on clean clothes (dhauta vastra) and then proceeds to his private chapel for performing Guru Sevā and sits in front of the holy pedestal (thāpanā), usually in the padmāsana pose.

He should then contemplate upon the form of the Lord, and also the Guru, and mentally deliver his everything to the Lord. He should reiterate his sarana unto Him - in body, mind and spirit (kāya, mana, vākya). Then the devotee should chant one or two devotional songs or prayers by clapping hands or playing on the cymbals. The worship is now to be closed with a general prayer of the devotee to God to help him in passing the day in strict conformity to his vow to the four vastus and the seeking of forgiveness for any sin or lapse that may knowingly or unknowingly be committed in course of the day. The following Ghosā from Madhavadeva is usually repeated in this connection:

Aparādha vināsana	tayu nāma Nārāyana
	Jāni nāme pasilo sarane
	āna gati nāhike marane
Aparādha ksamā kari	tumi dayāsila Hari
	Moka raksā kariyo charane

Knowing that Thy Name is destructive of sins, O Nārāyana, I take refuge in Thy Name. In death, there is no other way of escape than the repetition of nāma. Mayest thou, O gracious Hari, keep me at Thy feet, having excused all my sins.

In the evening prayer also, the same pattern is followed. The householders, in course of their evening prayers, also read a few chapters from the Kirttana and the Nām Ghosā, if possible. In certain households, the evening prayers involve the performance of the caidhya prasanga, where fourteen types of prasanga or prayers are performed. Those residing near a Nām Ghar or within the Satra precincts, instead of chanting individually, participate in the congregational prayer-services.

In all activities, whether religious or secular, the sacred names of the deity should be uttered or remembered. Thus, a devotee should utter the name Vāsudeva when he takes his seat for meals, Janārddana when he touches meal and Kesava when he lifts the first morsel. He should go to sleep by uttering the name Padmanābha. In the process of doing every act, one of several names of Visnu should be uttered or remembered.

If the bhakta has to cook food, he should first put four handfuls of rice into water one after another, uttering to himself, Guru, Deva, Nāma and Bhakata respectively.

“To the devotee, his chosen path (of devotion) is not one out of several paths, but the path and the life of a true devotee resembles a calling in which his most routine activities gain significance by being performed for the purpose of devotion.”