How to Discharge Devotional Service
Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé states that his elder brother (Sanätana Gosvämé) has compiled Hari-bhakti-viläsa for the guidance of the Vaiñëavas and therein has mentioned many rules and regulations to be followed by the Vaiñëavas. Some of them are very important and prominent, and he will now mention these very important items for our benefit. The purport of this statement is that Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé proposes to mention only basic principles, not details. For example, a basic principle is that one has to accept a spiritual master. Exactly how one follows the instructions of his spiritual master is considered a detail. For example, if one is following the instruction of his spiritual master and that instruction is different from the instructions of another spiritual master, this is called detailed information. But the basic principle of acceptance of a spiritual master is good everywhere, although the details may be different. Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé does not wish to enter into details here, but wants to place before us only the principles.
He mentions the basic principles as follows: 1) accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master, 2) becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him, 3) obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion, 4) following in the footsteps of great äcäryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master, 5) inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Kåñëa consciousness, 6) being prepared to give up anything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Çré Kåñëa (This means that when we are engaged in the devotional service of Kåñëa, we must be prepared to give up something which we may not like to give up, and also we have to accept something which we may not like to accept.), 7) residing in a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dvärakä or Våndävana, 8) dealing with the material world only as far as necessary, 9) observing the fasting day on Ekädaçé, and 10) worshiping sacred trees like the banyan tree.
These ten items are preliminary necessities for beginning the discharge of devotional service in regulative principles. In the beginning, if a neophyte devotee observes the above-mentioned ten principles, surely he will quickly make good advancement in Kåñëa consciousness.