Emphasis by Srila Prabhupada:
On October 1972, at the Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple in Vrindaban, India, Śrīla Prabhupāda nicely emphasized on the importance of sādhana – the conscientious practice of the regulative principles of devotional service – in his exchanges with his disciples.
It was about 5:30 in the morning and Śrīla Prabhupāda called me into his sitting room wanting to know why Syamasundara and Pradyumna were still sleeping. “I don’t know,” I replied. Śrīla Prabhupāda told me to bring them to his room. When we returned, he told us we must conquer over sleep.
“Rising early and taking a cold shower is not austerity, but just common sense and good hygiene,”Śrīla Prabhupāda said. Then, revealing a wonderful truth, His Divine Grace told us, “By chanting 16 rounds, following the regulative principles, rising early, reducing one’s eating and sleeping, one gets spiritual energy. If one follows these guidelines for 12 years, all he speaks will be perfect!”
– From Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca by Śrutakirti dāsa.
The ISKCON Morning Program:
Sadhana, unlike monotonous actions, is filled with variety and flavor. The Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, a philosophical treatise by Śrīla Rupa Gosvami, explains sixty-four items of devotional service in detail. Out of these sixty-four, ISKCON’s Morning program itself includes about 50 of these items, such as hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, praying, serving, associating with devotees, chanting the holy name of the Lord, hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, residing at Mathurā and worshiping the Deity with faith and veneration. (for a brief summary of all sixty-four items, see Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya 22.114-129).
The sixty-four items of devotional service include all the activities of the body, mind and senses. Thus the sixty-four items engage one in devotional service in all respects.
Furthermore, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī presented a very tall order for executing unalloyed devotional service; one that requires a person to be freed from all material contamination, furtive desires and mundane association.
śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
(Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu 1.1.11)
As sadhakas (practitioners of devotional service), it may appear difficult to practice this formidable objective, nevertheless, we conscientiously try for it because only by attaining such a pure state of being, can one favorably develop love for Kṛṣṇa which is the result of pure devotional service.
“Now this sādhana-bhakti, or practice of devotional service, can also be divided into two parts. The first part is called regulative principles: one has to follow these different regulative principles by the order of the spiritual master or on the strength of authoritative scriptures, and there can be no question of refusal. That is called vaidhī, or regulated. One has to do it without any argument.”
Excerpt from The Nectar of Devotion – Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu,Chapter 2-First Stages of Devotion
In his purport to the Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 13.39, Srila Prabhupada gives the link between the highest goal of existence; pure love of Godhead (prema-bhakti) with that of practicing devotional service (sadhana-bhakti).
“These feelings develop in time when a person seriously engages in devotional service. The highest stage is called prema-bhakti, but this stage is attained by executing sadhana-bhakti. One should not try to elevate himself artificially to the stage of prema-bhakti without seriously following the regulative principles of sādhana-bhakti. Prema-bhakti is the stage of relishing, whereas sādhana-bhakti is the stage of improving in devotional service. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught this cult of devotional service in full detail by practical application in His own life. It is said, therefore, āpani ācari’ bhakti śikhāimu sabāre. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and in the role of a kṛṣṇa-bhakta, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, He instructed the entire world how one can execute devotional service and thus go back home, back to Godhead, in due course of time.”
Sadhana purifies us of our bad intentions while we approach the Lord and His energies. Sadhana is a constant endeavor to remember Lord Krishna. Sadhana is a message to the Lord that we are atlast ready to accept His mercy. Sadhana is the way of expressing our readiness and eagerness to accept Lord’s mercy and repent for our negligence towards him.
As indicated by our scriptures and as instructed by Srila Prabhupada, the students at Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha begin their day with a Krishna conscious morning schedule as mentioned below:
4.20 am – Reporting time
4.30 am – 5.10 am: Mangala arati
5.10 am – 7.00 am: Japa Period
7.00 am – 7.30 am: Darshan arati of Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban behari & Guru puja of Srila Prabhupada
7.30 am – 8.30 am: Temple Srimad Bhagavatam Class
8.30 am – 9.00 am: Breakfast
Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha ensures a rigid attendance in the morning program by all the students. The daily attendance is taken up to the reporting time at 4.00 am – absentees and late comers are given the reward of writing the Hare Krishna maha mantra 54 times and submitting it to the attendance in charge on the same day.