When I first joined Srila Prabhupada in 1969, it was very easy to engage in Krsna consciousness. All you had to do was be at the temple. All hours of the day there were devotional activities going on and all you needed to do was join in.
We understood from Srila Prabhupada that Krsna consciousness is comparable to a light. When you engaged in hearing or chanting, the light of Krsna consciousness was on, like when you come into a room and flick on the switch. But when you stopped chanting or hearing attentively, then immediately maya would rush in, filling the void just as darkness rushes in filling the room when the light switch is again turned off.
So we were always trying to fill up our whole day with regulative devotional service, while all the time chanting continuously. All the devotees carried schedules outlining every minute of their days and were constantly trying to find the time to fit in another hour of reading, etc.
We were convinced that a devotee, even a neophyte, could be engaged 24 hours a day in transcendental activities through this practice of regulated devotional practice. This was shown by Srila Prabhupada when he organized the temples in America and implemented the regulative devotional principles to be followed by his disciples within the temples.
We rose at 4 AM. and immediately after offering obeisances to Lord Krsna and Srila Prabhupada, we would clean our body (a regulative principle) because we were going to visit the Deities. Therefore, our showering was for the purpose of pleasing Krsna and during our bath we would chant the Holy Name.
After bathing, we would apply tilak all over our body, and while doing so would chant the different names of Krsna. Then we would dress ourselves nicely in clean devotional dress, wanting to satisfy the Deities by a sincere effort to please Them by appearing before Them with freshly cleaned clothing This devotional attitude and following of different regulative principles helped the neophyte devotee keep his mind always on Krsna.
Next, the devotee would travel to the temple for the purpose of worshipping the Lord and, upon arriving, would offer his humble obeisances to his guru, to Krsna, and to all of the assembled Vaisnavas there. When the curtains would open, the devotee would bow down and recite various prayers to please Krsna and to beg His mercy.
During aroti, the devotee would look at the Deity and dance for Him and watch the different things being offered to the Lord by the pujari. All these activities fixed his mind on Krsna for the whole duration of the aroti, and after aroti there were more devotional prayers and there was Tulasi worship. This was all performed under the direction of the devotional regulative principles, and all these activities were purifying for the bhakta.
Between these different activities there would sometimes be a slight pause, and the devotee would chant the Holy Name constantly to keep his mind fixed on Krsna. After Tulasi puja, there were more prayers and worship, followed by two hours of japa, or the chanting of the Holy Name. During this time, there was no socializing with others and the devotee attentively concentrated his mind on hearing and training the mind to stay fixed on the transcendental sound vibration.
And this was just the beginning of the day. It hadn’t even become daylight yet. The whole day was like that—every minute filled with devotional activities with no time for maya. All the devotees had a single purpose. Everyone just wanted to help Srila Prabhupada push on this movement.
But nowadays it is not so easy. There are so many factions fighting relentlessly and there is corruption in some of the leadership. Some older devotees are claiming our books are sexist or contain teachings that are based on quaint traditions and outdated principles, which causes much confusion. In much of the communication between the devotees, especially on the Internet, the ideals of Vaisnava respect and etiquette are fading into obscurity. Most of the day the temples are empty, and the glories of spending our days on Sankirtan is virtually unknown by new bhaktas.
Without so many organized activities to inspire us to engage in devotional service, our idle minds become fertile ground for frivolity, or worse. Surrounded by many subtle forms of maya we again can fall prey to material consciousness. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna explains that because we are too much attracted to sense gratification and material opulence, we are becoming bewildered and are not resolving with determination to surrender to Krsna in full devotional service.
If we gradually fall asleep again and forget about this proposal of surrendering to Krsna, the Supreme Personality, by complete surrender, humility, and submissiveness to the bona fide pure devotee, and remain on the mental platform, then we will again be subjected to birth, death, disease, and the awful miseries of growing old. If we foolishly abandon the shelter of Srila Prabhupada and again rely on our own abilities of speculative analysis for gaining “knowledge”, and the false renunciations of impersonalism, or seek shelter of non-devotional processes of counseling, relationship training, etc., then we are going to gradually disqualify ourselves from achieving our goal of love of God.