Sadhana Bhakti: Rules and Regulations of Sadhana Bhakti

                                                                  Q. Can the Supreme Soul can be realized only when mind becomes pure? Does the chanting of "Hari Om" purify the mind? Is there any mantra helpful in attaining the highest goal of self-realization? What are the different phases of sadhana practiced in ISKCON?

                                                                  Yes, practical realization of the Supreme Soul is attained when one becomes fully pure, free from the effects of passion and ignorance, and lust, greed and other attendant impurities of heart.

                                                                  Q. I am following the four regulative principles for almost a year now, chanting 16 rounds daily, and have been wearing tulasi mala beads   since around December. I read in the Vaisnava Etiquette Manual that  uninitiated devotees aspiring for initiation may wear tulasi mala. I have  been wearing 3 strands and now was told I should only wear one strand until  initiation. I pray I have not created an offense. Thank you for any  standards guidance on this matter.

                                                                  Q. In responding to one question about Ekalavya you said, "Please also note that the Vedas consistently instruct us that only the bhagavata-marg is effective in Kali-yuga."

                                                                  In ISKCON, we regularly hear that the viddhi-marg is the only way for persons in the material world to attain Krishna consciousness. There is constant reference, perhaps more so in some quarters than others, to rules and regulations - yama & niyama, not this, not that. Please, Maharaja, could you clarify this apparent contradiction.

                                                                  Q. Stories abound on the origin of the Ekadasi day. Even more stories are told on the benefits and warnings given for breaking this fast. My question is why we break fast on the Dwadasi at a particular time and what might be the 'result' of breaking ones fast after the allotted time has passed, say if you are traveling or something like that or have just simply forgotten to break fast at the appropriate time.

                                                                  Q. How can one tell the difference between a devotee who is legitimately practicing raganuga sadhana and someone who may be sincere but misguidedly and inappropriately disregarding vidhi sadhana in the name of raganuga bhakti? How would one preach to a devotee of the latter type?

                                                                  I would rather have a personal discussion with you about this rather than provide an extensive reply; the subject of your question is delicate, and to treat the subject properly a cursory response is not satisfying.
                                                                  Nonetheless, I will attempt to offer a succinct to-the-point response.

                                                                  Q. Some devotees say the Caturmasya Vratas are not something that Srila Prabhupada gave much emphasis to. According to our scriptures, as followers of ISKCON and practicing Gaudiya vaisnavas are we obliged to observe Caturmasya Vrata to some extent? What are minimum standards that we should strive for? What are some additional standards that may be reasonable to strive for? What are the benefits?