The very first division of Sharanagati is to accept whatever is favourable for the practice of Bhakti, anukulasya sankalpa. It is said that association makes us who we are, therefore, we should always strive to do things and be in the association of people who inspire us to make advancement on the path of Bhakti. Srila Rupa Goswami, in his ‘Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu’, has prescribed 64 limbs of bhakti, performing which are favourable for one’s bhakti. Taking shelter of a bona-fide spiritual master, taking initiation, serving the Guru, submissively asking questions regarding bhakti, applying tilak, accepting prasad flowers from the deity, singing the glories of the Lord, dancing in front of the deity, offering prayers, honouring Mahaprasada, worshiping the tulasi planet and other such limbs of bhakti should be adopted by a sincere sadhaka, for following these gives one the opportunity to engage all of one’s senses in the service of the Lord.
Navadha Bhakti as preached by Prahlad maharaj and found in the Srimad Bhagwatam also gives instructions on favourable activities to be performed by the aspiring devotees. These nine forms of devotional service are śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanams. One must hear about the glories of the Lord, chant and sing his holy names, remember him, serve his lotus feet, serve the deity form of the Lord, offer beautiful prayers, becoming the Lord’s servant, considering him to be one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto him.
Srila Rupa Goswami also gives the five best angas of Bhakti as Naam kirtan, Bhagwat sravan, preeti poorvak murti seva, sadhu sanga, and mathura vaas. Further, in his Upadeshamrita, he gives the following six practices which can grant Krishna bhakti unto a sincere devotee:
utsahan niscayad dhairyat
sanga-tyagat sato vrtteh
sadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati
Progress in bhakti may be obtained by the following six practices: (1) enthusiasm to carry out the rules which enhance bhakti, (2) firm faith in the statements of the sastra and the guru whose words are fully in line with the sastra, (3) fortitude in the practice of bhakti, even in the midst of obstacles, or patience during the practice stage of bhakti, even when there is delay in attaining one’s desired goal, (4) following the limbs of bhakti such as hearing (sravana) and chanting (kirtana) and giving up one’s material sense enjoyment for the pleasure of Sri Krishna, (5) giving up illicit connection with women, the association of those who are overly attached to women and the association of mayavadis, atheists and pseudo-religionists, and (6) adopting the good behaviour and character of pure devotees.”
One should always take inspiration from the by-gone great Vaishnavas and endeavour to follow in their footsteps to be able to make rapid advancement on the path of devotion. A shining example of utilising all of one’s senses in the service of the Lord is Sri Ambarish Maharaj, who was a great devotee of the Lord and a very exemplary Vaishnava. He would use his eyes to take darshan of the beautiful deity of the Lord, his hands to clean the temple of the Lord and perform worship to the Lord, his nose to smell the fragrance of the tulasi leaves and flowers which had been offered to the Lord, his feet to walk to the temple of the Lord, his mouth to sing the glories of the Lord and his ears to hear about the unlimited glories and pastimes of the Lord. In this way, he was completely absorbed in the service and remembrance of the Lord. Taking inspiration from his example, we must endeavour to engage our mind, speech and activities in the service of the Lord, and for this we should adopt all that is favourable for bhakti.