Vaishnava Etiquette (Compilation from Srila Prabhupadas teachings)

Maintenance of the Vaisnava etiquette is the ornament of a devotee.

CC Anthya Lila 4.129-130 “My dear Sanatana, although you are the deliverer of the entire universe and although even the demigods and great saints are purified by touching you, it is the characteristic of a devotee to observe and protect the Vaisnava etiquette. Maintenance of the Vaisnava etiquetteis the ornament of a devotee.

Antya 4.127 “The servants are always coming and going without interval. If I touch them, I shall be ruined.”


Herein it is very clearly indicated that priests performing Deity
worship should be careful to keep themselves completely pure and not
be touched by outsiders. Sanatana Gosvami and Haridasa Thakura,
thinking themselves mlecchas and yavanas because of their past
association with Mohammedans, did not enter the temple nor even travel on the path in front of the temple gate. It is customary for the
priests of temples in India not even to touch outsiders nor enter the
Deity room after having been touched. This is a very important item in temple worship.

Guest (1): Can we touch your feet, Swamiji?

Prabhupāda: Yes, that’s all right.

Guest (1): Can we please?

Prabhupāda: Come… You can offer your obeisances. Hm, so that is the father’s duty to see the child is grown completely spiritual, so that he may not have to come again in the mother’s womb. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti (BG 4.9). So…

Devotees: Jaya Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Prabhupāda: Thank you very much. (Indian guests leave and devotees offer obeisances.),_Swamiji%3F

Etiquette when encountering Sannyasis

Umāpati: So then the Vaiṣṇava is superior to a sannyāsī?

Prabhupāda: Yes. He’s not sannyāsī. He’s above sannyāsī.

Umāpati: Oh. But a Vaiṣṇava would always offer his respects to a sannyāsī. Is that not true?

Prabhupāda: Yes, Kṛṣṇa was offering respect to His elderly persons. That is etiquette.

Letter to Jayapataka — Los Angeles 30 April, 1970:

“Regarding your questions how to offer respects to Sannyasis. Every Sannyasi, even if you see a Mayavadi Sannyasi, offer him your respects—there will be no harm. As you have observed we shall follow Lord Caitanya’s instruction that we give all due respects to others regarding their position, but there is no need of always associating with each of them. Even if one is Vaisnava, but not of good character, we can give him the Vaisnava respect, but we cannot associate with him.

Regarding how to act when there is a choice of either attending Aratrik ceremony without bathing first or bathing and thus missing attendance at the Aratrik ceremony, the answer is that the rules should be followed as far as possible. If it becomes necessary, simply wash your feet, and when possible also wash the face, head, hands, and rinse mouth with water.”

Prabhupāda: All clean, and you can walk very nicely. In Bombay.

Yaśomatīnandana: And lot of people can see you. And they bow down to you?

Prabhupāda: If they do not, what can I do?

Yaśomatīnandana: Well, no, if they do, then they will go to Vaikuṇṭha. (laughter)

Prabhupāda: That is our śāstric injunction, that as soon as you see a sannyāsī, you must bow down. Otherwise, you should fast one day. It doesn’t matter, I or you. This is the injunction of the śāstra, that sannyāsī is supposed to be the guru of the society. So one must bow down.

Yaśomatīnandana: Prabhupāda, in our movement there are so many sannyāsīs. If we see the sannyāsī, same, so many times in one day, we should bow down every time we see him?

Prabhupāda: If you can, of course.

Śrutakīrti: It wouldn’t hurt.

Prabhupāda: Yes. (break),_in_our_movement_there_are_so_many_sannyasis._If_we_see_the_sannyasi,_same,_so_many_times_in_one_day,_we_should_bow_down_every_time_we_see_him%3F

About greeting karmis

Regarding your second question about greeting karmis, if a karmi is a friendyou just greet him Hare Krishna, and with folded hands touch your foreheadIf the karmi is a superior relative, then chant Hare Krishna and bow down down to him on the ground. That should be the etiquette in our society transactions. Whenever you have questions, you ask your husband or ask me. You should always be very sound in knowledge about Krishna Consciousness. But as you are very much attached to chanting, there will be no difficulty for you.,_USA

Offering obeisances to the spiritual master

Well, if it is possible to go to him directly, that should be taken chance. But if he’s not, it is not possible, then his picture or his idea should be offered respect.

Devotee: Should a disciple go to his spiritual master directly to offer the respects at least three times, or offer them where he is?

Prabhupāda: Well, if it is possible to go to him directly, that should be taken chance. But if he’s not, it is not possiblethen his picture or his idea should be offered respect. Yes. But if he’s directly available, one should avail of that. Any other question? All right. Let us have kīrtana.,_or_offer_them_where_he_is%3F

Treating women rightly

Devotee: Śrīla Prabhupāda, should we call all the women “mother”?

Prabhupāda: Yes. And treat it like mother. Not only call, but treat it like mother.

Harikeśa: Actually we have not even any idea how to treat mother.

Prabhupāda: Learn it. At least mother should not be proposed for sex. This much you can learn. Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu para-dravyeṣu loṣṭravat, ātmavat sarva-bhūteṣu. (break),_should_we_call_all_the_women_%22mother%22%3F

(Seeing other men as son)

Brahmānanda: In your lecture you quoted Cāṇakya Paṇḍita that a man must see every woman other than his own wife as mother. How should a woman see other men?

Prabhupāda: As son. (laughter)

Brahmānanda: That was my idea.

Prabhupāda: Yes. If I see woman as mother, she must see me as son. That’s all. That is the system. The brahmacārī, the sannyāsī go to beg alms from door to door. “Mother, give me some bhikṣā, alms.” And it is the duty of the gṛhastha to treat brahmacārī and sannyāsī as their son. As they maintain their children with food, shelter, cloth, similarly the brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs, they are dependent on the society. They should be treated as the sons of the society. And they must supply their necessities, bare necessities. A sannyāsī, brahmacārī, does not want more than what they need. They should not collect more than what they need. Bhikṣā nirvāhana. Not collect more and enjoy at others’ cost. No. That is not the business of sannyāsī. They can collect so much as they need. That’s all.

Devotee: When you address a woman, do you…

Prabhupāda: Hm?

Devotee: When you address a woman do you use the word “Mātājī”? Is that the right, proper word for her?

Prabhupāda: Mātājī. Yes, very good. “Mother.” All right. Chant.,_proper_word_for_her%3F

About chanting

You chant slow. There is no harm. Either loud or slow, it doesn’t matter, but you chant the holy name of God.

Lecture on BG 2.13 — Public Lecture With German Translation Throughout — Hamburg, September 10, 1969:

Satsvarūpa: (for German guest or devotee:) If chanting means out loud, how can you do it all day while you’re working in so many different situations? How can you chant out loud?

Prabhupāda: You chant slow. There is no harm. Either loud or slow, it doesn’t matter, but you chant the holy name of God.,_how_can_you_do_it_all_day_while_you%27re_working_in_so_many_different_situations%3F_How_can_you_chant_out_loud%3F

How would I recognize a true follower of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement by his behavior? What would his traits be? What would his outward expressions be?

Prabhupāda: Yes. His behavior, he’s a perfect gentleman. That’s all. You cannot find any fault in him. That is perfect Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They are prohibited not to eat meat.

Interviewer: Not to eat meat?

Prabhupāda: No. They are prohibited from illicit sex life. They are prohibited to intoxication. They do not smoke even, what to speak of other intoxications. And they are prohibited not to indulge in gambling. So if they can observe these four rules and regulations, they become perfect men. Simply.

Interviewer: Or women I presume.

Prabhupāda: Woman or man. Anyone.

Interviewer: Men or women. There is place for women in the religion too isn’t…?

Prabhupāda: Woman and man have got the same right. Just like we are getting married boys and girls. They’re following the same principles. The same principles. So these are the four pillars of perfect life. And if we indulge in these things, illicit sex life, meat-eating, and intoxication, and gambling, then they become the four pillars of sinful life. And If we take them away, then they become, the prohibited portion becomes the pillars of perfect life.

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