Human birth is very precious and very rarely achieved once in millions of births after the causeless mercy of Bhagavan, which, although temporary, affords one the opportunity to attain the highest perfection, and therefore One should make haste and strive for the liberation here itself from the ocean of transmigration in form of repeated births and deaths.
Bhagavatam says "Sense-enjoyments can be had in any body (from beast to birds to humans), but realisation can be had only with the human body. So, keeping in the mind the fact that the human body is fragile and can be lost at any moment, one should make haste and strive for liberation here itself."
Everyone should try to utilise this precious human birth to move from unreal (temporary) to real (eternal), from darkness (of ignorance) to the light (of spiritual knowledge), from fear of death to immortality! And for this one should embrace and adhere to a spiritual life.
जन्तूनां नरजन्म दुर्लभमतः पुंस्त्वं ततो विप्रता
आत्मानात्मविवेचनं स्वनुभवो ब्रह्मात्मना संस्थिति
-र्मुक्तिर्नो शतकोटिजन्मसु कृतैः पुण्यैर्विना लभ्यते॥
(विवेक चूड़ामणि - 2)
jantūnāṃ narajanma durlabhamataḥ puṃstvaṃ tatō vipratā
ātmānātmavivēcanaṃ svanubhavō brahmātmanā saṃsthiti-
rmuktirnō śatakōṭijanmasu kṛtaiḥ puṇyairvinā labhyatē
॥ vivēka cūDāmaṇi - 2 ॥
"For all living creatures, a human birth is indeed rare; and even after achieving Human-birth much more difficult it is to attain full manhood; rarer than this is the "Viprata" (Sattvic attitude in life). Even after gaining all these rare chances, to have steadfastness on the spiritual path as explained in Vedic literature is yet rarer; much more so to have a correct understanding of the deep import of the scriptures. Discrimination between the Real and the unreal, a personal realization of spiritual Glory and ultimately to get fully established in the living consciousness, and culminate in one‘s liberation. This kind of a perfect liberation cannot be obtained without the meritorious deeds of many millions of well-lived lives. Therefore one should be fully adhered to spiritual and dharmic life, should live life in accordance of scriptural injunction."
श्रेयश्च प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेतस्तौ सम्परीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः।
श्रेयो हि धीरोऽभिप्रेयसो वृणीते प्रेयो मन्दो योगक्षेमाद् वृणीते ॥
śrēyaśca prēyaśca manuṣyamētastau samparītya vivinakti dhīraḥ।
śrēyō hi dhīrō'bhiprēyasō vṛṇītē prēyō mandō yōgakṣēmād vṛṇītē ॥
"The preferable (the path leading to Bhagavan) and the pleasurable (Bhoga of the world, which is visible) these both approach man. The intelligent one examines both and separates them. Yea, the intelligent one prefers the preferable (the path favorable to achieve Bhagavan, which results into ever lasting happiness and bliss) to the pleasurable (visible worldly pleasures, but temporary and mixed with sorrows), (whereas) the ignorant and dull-witted one selects the pleasurable for the sake of Yoga (attainment of that which is not already possessed) and kshema (the preservation of that which is already in possession), and therefore he falls from the real-goal." (kaṭhōpaniṣada 1.2.2)
Three great blessings of Bhagavan
मनुष्यत्वं मुमुक्षुत्वं महापुरुषसंश्रयः ॥
(विवेक चूड़ामणि - ३)
manuṣyatvaṃ mumukṣutvaṃ mahāpuruṣasaṃśrayaḥ ॥
॥ vivēka cūDāmaṇi - 3॥
"Very rare indeed are these three things and happen only due to the utmost Grace of God — a human birth, a burning desire for liberation, and the blessed refuge of an illuminated Maha-Purusha (saint/sage/Pure devotee)."
Three greatest blessings one gets by the utmost grace of Bhagavan Shri Rama in context of pure-devotion
1. Human Birth
2. Burning desire for liberation to attain the lotus feet of Shri Raghunath to serve in him with loving-devotion
3. The refuge and guidance of a pure devotee of Raghava
यस्ति॒त्याज॑ सचि॒विदं॒ सखा॑यं॒ न तस्य॑ वा॒च्यपि॑ भा॒गो अ॑स्ति।
यदीं॑ शृ॒णोत्यल॑कं शृणोति न॒हि प्र॒वेद॑ सुकृ॒तस्य॒ पन्था॑म्॥
yastityaja sacividam sakhayam na tasya vacyapi bhago asti ।
yadim srnotyalakam nahi praveda sukrtasya pantham ॥ (rg-veda, 10.71.6)
“He who gives up his eternal companion (Bhagavan Shri Rama), his speech/exposition is unsound; whatever he hears, he hears amiss; he is certainly not on the path of virtue."
बड़े भाग मानुष तनु पावा। सुर दुर्लभ सब ग्रंथन्हि गावा॥
साधन धाम मोक्ष कर द्वारा। पाइ न जेहिं परलोक सँवारा॥
(श्रीरामचरितमानस ७ .४३ .७)
baḍa़ē bhāga mānuṣa tanu pāvā। sura durlabha saba graṃthanhi gāvā॥
sādhana dhāma mōkṣa kara dvārā। pāi na jēhiṃ paralōka sam̐vārā॥
(Śrīrāmacaritamānasa 7 .43 .7)
“It is by a great fortune one has secured a human body, which — as declared by all the scriptures — is difficult even for the gods to attain. It is a tabernacle suitable for spiritual endeavours, gateway to liberation. He who fails to achieve the supreme abode hereafter even on attaining it (then none is so unfortunate like him).
सो परत्र दुख पावइ सिर धुनि धुनि पछिताई।
कालहि कर्महि ईस्वरहि मिथ्या दोष लगाइ॥
(श्रीरामचरितमानस ७ .४३)
sō paratra dukha pāvai sira dhuni dhuni pachitāī।
kālahi karmahi īsvarahi mithyā dōṣa lagāi॥
(śrīrāmacaritamānasa 7 .43)
“He reaps sufferings in the other world and beats his head in remorse, wrongly attributing the blame to Time, Fate and God.”
एहि तन कर फल बिषय न भाई। स्वर्गउ स्वल्प अंत दुखदाई॥
नर तनु पाइ बिषयँ मन देहीं। पलटि सुधा ते सठ बिष लेहीं॥
(श्रीरामचरितमानस ७ .४४.१)
ēhi tana kara phala biṣaya na bhāī। svargau svalpa aṃta dukhadāī॥
nara tanu pāi biṣayam̐ mana dēhīṃ। palaṭi sudhā tē saṭha biṣa lēhīṃ॥
(śrīrāmacaritamānasa 7 .44.1)
“Sensuous enjoyment, brethren, is not the be-all and end-all of human existence; even heavenly enjoyment is short-lived and ends in sorrow. The fools who devote their mind to the pleasures of sense even after attaining the human-birth take poison in exchange for nectar.”
Same things are repeated in other scriptures :
दुर्लभो मानुषो देहो देहिनां क्षणभङ्गुरः ।
तत्रापि दुर्लभं मन्ये वैकुण्ठप्रियदर्शनम्॥
( श्रीमद्भागवतम् ११ .२.२९)
durlabhō mānuṣō dēhō dēhināṃ kṣaṇabhaṅguraḥ ।
tatrāpi durlabhaṃ manyē vaikuṇṭhapriyadarśanam॥
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11 .2.29)
“For the conditioned souls, the human body is most difficult to attain, it is attained after utmost grace of Bhagavan, however such precious Human-life can be lost at any moment. But, I think that even those who have achieved human life rarely gain the association of pure devotees, who are dear to the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha.”
लब्ध्वा सुदुर्लभमिदं बहुसम्भवान्ते मानुष्यमर्थदमनित्यमपीह धीरः ।
तूर्णं यतेत न पतेदनुमृत्यु यावन्निःश्रेयसाय विषयः खलु सर्वतः स्यात् ॥
( श्रीमद्भागवतम् ११ .९ .२९)
labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte
mānuṣyam artha-dam anityam apīha dhīraḥ
tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anu-mṛtyu yāvan
niḥśreyasāya viṣayaḥ khalu sarvataḥ syāt
“After many, many births and deaths one achieves the rare human form of life, which, although temporary, affords one the opportunity to attain the highest perfection. Thus a sober human being should quickly endeavor for the ultimate perfection of life as long as his body, which is always subject to death, has not fallen down and died. After all, sense gratification is available even in the most abominable species of life, whereas consciousness of Bhagavan is possible only for a human-being.”
1. Always follow Dharma
Dharma is essence of the pious-pure-sacred life, it makes us near to the divine. Dharma is the path preached by scriptures so that a jiva could tread and make itself liberated.
Shri Rama is the supreme Lord of entire cosmos, still he requests in most humble manner to all future generations of kings and administrators of the earth to protect the Vedic-dharm setu in the form of the bridge of dharmic conduct established by him!
भूयो भूयो भाविनो भूमिपाला नत्वा नत्वा याचते रामचंद्रः ।
सामान्योऽयं धर्मसेतुर्नराणां काले काले पालनीयो भवद्भिः ॥
(स्कन्द पुराण ब्राह्म-खंड धर्मारण्य 34-4)
bhūyō bhūyō bhāvinō bhūmipālā natvā natvā yācatē rāmacaṃdraḥ ।
sāmānyō'yaṃ dharmasēturnarāṇāṃ kālē kālē pālanīyō bhavadbhiḥ ॥
(skanda purāṇa brāhma-khaṃḍa dharmāraṇya 34-4)
“O' future generations of kings, and administrators and people of this earth! I, Ramachandra, by bowing down again and again, I seek from you all just one thing; this Vedic dharma-setu, this bridge of dharmic conduct established for the common man is ought to be protected by your better-self from time to time.”
धर्मका परित्याग किसी भी हालतमें नही करना चाहिये - In no condition one should leave dharma
सहि कुबोल साँसति सकल अँगइ अनट अपमान ।
तुलसी धरम न परिहरिअ कहि करि गए सुजान ॥ (दोहावली)
sahi kubōla sām̐sati sakala am̐gai anaṭa apamāna ।
tulasī dharama na pariharia kahi kari gaē sujāna ॥ (Dōhāvalī)
“One must accept all the insults and humiliations, and must tolerate all the offensive words, and all types of sufferings,. But never ever, under no circumstances one should deviate from the principles of Dharma" — says Tulasidas.”
True worship of Bhagavan is following the Dharma which is illuminated by Vedas in this world in the beginning of the every cycle of creation. Everyone should follow his divine wish and instructions present in scripture.
यः शास्त्रविधिमुत्सृज्य वर्तते कामकारतः।
न स सिद्धिमवाप्नोति न सुखं न परां गतिम्॥
yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya vartate kāma-kārataḥ।
na sa siddhim avāpnoti na sukhaṁ na parāṁ gatim॥
“He who, abandoning the injunctions (ordinances) of the Sastras, acts under the influence of his/her own desire, attains neither perfection nor pleasure, nor the supreme state.”
तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ।
ज्ञात्वा शास्त्रविधानोक्तं कर्म कर्तुमिहार्हसि॥
tasmāc chāstraṁ pramāṇaṁ te kāryākārya-vyavasthitau।
jñātvā śāstra-vidhānoktaṁ karma kartum ihārhasi॥
“Therefore, let the Sastra be your authority for determining what should be done and what should not be done. Knowing what is enjoined in the injunctions of the Sastra, you should perform work here.”
Therefore, let the Shastra be the guidance authority for your actions and dharma.
Loving devotion into Bhagavan is the supreme dharma.. so whatever is favorable to loving devotion into Bhagavan Shri Rama is dharma!
रामहि केवल प्रेमु पिआरा। जानि लेउ जो जान निहारा॥
rāmahi kēvala prēmu piārā। jāni lēu jō jāna nihārā॥
“Shri Ram loves only love, be known to all those who want to know this!”
It means Everyone should cultivate strong loving devotion and attachment (raga) into lotus feet of Shri Rama in association and guidance of pure devotees and saints, If one wants to attain Shri Rama.
For this everyone needs to create a favorable environment in surrounding (through pious association, and leaving the bad company) as well as within our-self (through satvik aahaar (pure food), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses from worldly things), and Bhakti-Yoga etc).
2. Satsanga (Pious association)
Associate with pure devotees of Lord, and leaving the bad association
All Vedic scriptures have greatly sung the glory of Satsanga (pious association) in one voice. The association of saintly people is the supreme among all means for liberation from the ocean of nescience, of repeated birth and death. The true mission in life (of this human-birth) is to cross the ocean of nescience, of repeated birth and death. Those in the darkness of ignorance, however, do not know this mission. Instead, being carried away by the waves of material nature, they are undergoing the tribulations of mṛtyu-saḿsāra-vartmani, repeated birth and death.
मति कीरति गति भूति भलाई। जब जेहिं जतन जहाँ जेहिं पाई॥
सो जानब सतसंग प्रभाऊ। लोकहुँ बेद न आन उपाऊ॥
mati kīrati gati bhūti bhalāī। jaba jēhiṃ jatana jahām̐ jēhiṃ pāī॥
sō jānaba satasaṃga prabhāū। lōkahum̐ bēda na āna upāū॥
“Whoever has ever attained wisdom, glory, Liberation or salvation, material prosperity or welfare anywhere and by any means whatsoever, know it to be the result of pious association i.e. association with holy men; there is no other means either in the world or in the Vedas.”
बिनु सतसंग बिबेक न होई। राम कृपा बिनु सुलभ न सोई॥
सतसंगत मुद मंगल मूला। सोई फल सिधि सब साधन फूला॥
binu satasaṃga bibēka na hōī। rāma kṛpā binu sulabha na sōī॥
satasaṃgata muda maṃgala mūlā। sōī phala sidhi saba sādhana phūlā॥
“Wisdom dawns not without pious-association of holy men and such pious-association cannot be easily had without the grace of Shri RAma. Contact with noble souls is the root of joy and blessings; it constitutes the very fruit and fulfillment of all endeavors, whereas all other practices are blossoms as it were.”
binu satsaṃga viveka na hoī । rāma kṛpā binu sulabha na soī ॥
Without grace of Rama, one can't get the Satsang , and without Satsang (association of devotees), one can't get the fine intellect.
hoī viveka moha bhrama bhāgā । taba raghunātha caraṇa anurāgā ॥
It is only when right understanding comes that the error of delusion disappears and then alone one develops real love into the lotus feet of Rama.
योऽसौ भगवति सर्वभूतात्मन्यनात्म्येऽनिरुक्तेऽनिलयने
परमात्मनि वासुदेवेऽनन्य निमित्तभक्तियोगलक्षणो
नानागतिनिमित्ताविद्याग्रन्थिरन्धनद्वारेण यदा हि
yo 'sau bhagavati sarva-bhūtātmany anātmye 'nirukte 'nilayane
paramātmani vāsudeve 'nanya-nimitta-bhakti-yoga-lakṣaṇo
nānā-gati-nimittāvidyā-granthi-randhana-dvāreṇa yadā hi
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.19.20)
“After many, many births, when the results of one's pious activities mature, one gets an opportunity to associate with great devotees . Then one is able to cut the knot of bondage to ignorance, which bound him because of varied fruitive activities. As a result of associating with the great devotees, one gradually renders service to Lord Vāsudeva [the supreme aatmaa present in all Jivas], who is transcendental, free from attachment to the material world, beyond the mind and words, and independent of everything else. That bhakti-yoga, devotional service to Lord Vāsudeva, is the real path of liberation.”
Serve Vaishnavas with whole heart
निरपेक्षं मुनिं शान्तं निर्वैरं समदर्शनम्
अनुव्रजाम्यहं नित्यं पूयेयेत्यङ्घ्रिरेणुभिः ॥
nirapekṣaṁ muniṁ śāntaṁ nirvairaṁ sama-darśanam
anuvrajāmy ahaḿ nityaḿ pūyeyety ańghri-reṇubhih
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.14.16)
Supreme Lord Krishna said : “I wish to purify myself with the dust of the lotus feet of pure devotees, Therefore, I go behind the footsteps of my devotees, who are free from all personal desire, peaceful, without any feelings of enmity, and of equal disposition everywhere.”
यावन्न रामभक्तानां सततं पाद सेवनम्।
रामनाम्न: कथं तेषां मुखादुच्चारणम् भवेत्॥
yāvanna rāmabhaktānāṃ satataṃ pāda sēvanam।
rāmanāmna: kathaṃ tēṣāṃ mukhāduccāraṇam bhavēt॥
“Unless serving constantly the feet of the devotees of Shri Rama, how can the people be fortunate enough to recite the name 'Rama'? (Never!)”
तमोद्वारं योषितां सङ्गिसङ्गम्
महान्तस्ते समचित्ताः प्रशान्ता
विमन्यवः सुहृदः साधवो ये ॥
mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimuktes
tamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam
mahāntas te sama-cittāḥ praśāntā
vimanyavaḥ suhṛdaḥ sādhavo ye
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.5.2)
“The gate of (path to) liberation is said to be rendering services to a spiritually advanced devotee, a Mahatma. While the gate of darkness [hellish life] is the association of the people who are fond of sensual enjoyments with women. Sadhus are they who are advanced in spiritual understanding, very peaceful, without anger, of equal vision in living-entities and well-wisher of everyone.”
Serving Bhagavān and Bhāgavats and especially Guru with whole heart is the pious duty for everyone.
For woman-devotee (Vaishnavi), It is not possible to serve and associate with many Bhāgavats, therefore they must marry an advanced Vaishnava (Rama-Bhakta) only who could be an ideal husband for her. This way she can get the fruit of serving an advanced Vaishnava as well as the pious-association in home, and both Vaishnava couple can visit dhaam and serve saints together.
Lord Rama or Lord Shiva represents an Ideal husband. Lord Siva is the ideal husband, not in the sense of riches or sense gratification, but because he is the greatest of all devotees and he preaches Shri Rama-bhakti to his consort devi Parvati. Vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: Shambhu, or Lord Siva, is the ideal Vaishnava. He constantly meditates upon Lord Rama and chants Rama, Rama, Rama... like this. Unmarried girls worship Lord Shiva so that they can expect a husband who is as good a Vaisnava as he. The girls are not taught to select a husband who is very rich or very opulent for material sense gratification; rather, if a girl is fortunate enough to get a husband as good as Lord Shiva in devotional service, then her life becomes perfect. The wife is dependent on the husband, and if the husband is a Vaisnava, then naturally she shares the devotional service of the husband because she renders him service. This reciprocation of service and love between husband and wife is the ideal of a householder's life.
The very foundational basis of Dharma-marriage (the divine institution of Vedic-marriage) is to unite two individuals and families so that they can serve Dharm, and spiritually evolve together and could follow and attain the four Purusharthas (dharm, arth, kaam and moksh).
Both Vaishnava husband and wife would serve together Bhagavan (vishesha-dharma) and would always follow the path of righteousness and ethical life (Samanya-dharma); bring happiness in their lives through various material efforts (artha); enjoy together (kaam), and strive for the liberation from the cycle of birth and death to attain the service of the divine couple Shri SitaRama in his spiritual abode (mukti).
गुरुर्न स स्यात्स्वजनो न स स्यात्
पिता न स स्याज्जननी न सा स्यात्
दैवं न तत्स्यान्न पतिश्च स स्यान्
न मोचयेद्यः समुपेतमृत्युम् ॥
gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daivaḿ na tat syān na patiś ca sa syān
na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.5.18)
“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable god.”
Scripture says one should make and keep intimate relation with them only who gladly help us in our Bhakti towards lotus feet of Shri Rama:
जरउ सो संपति सदन सुखु सुहृद मातु पितु भाइ।
सनमुख होत जो राम पद करै न सहस सहाइ॥
(श्री रामचरितमानस २.१८५ )
jarau sō saṃpati sadana sukhu suhṛda mātu pitu bhāi।
sanamukha hōta jō rāma pada karai na sahasa sahāi॥
(śrī rāmacaritamānasa 2.185)
“Perish that property, house, happiness, Suhrid (Husband / wife / friend), father, mother or brother, who does not gladly help one turn one’s face towards Shri Rama's feet!”
3. Surrender to Guru and serve him with whole heart
For spiritual life, a guru (spiritual master) is must. Before accepting a guru, a devotee of Shri Rama should ensure self that guru (spiritual master) is a Vaishnava belonging to bonafide Parampara (lineage), and well-versed in Vedas and Vedic-scripture, so that one could get the mantra of Bhagavan Shri Rama and proper teachings coming down from Sita Ji to present Gurus in Parampara).
Though it is very difficult to find a guru in this age, however when Bhagavan becomes gracious on a soul, he sends a guru in one's life, one has to recognise him. The real guru is he alone, who doesn't come in our life as a ruling authority (master), but as a true friend, as the true-well-wisher, comes as our own true relative. Guru and Shishya relationship is most divine, No worldly relations can stand in between Guru and Shishya, Guru and Shishya are true friend, true well wisher for each other, He is the closest person for a soul.
Why should one surrender to guru.? Only Guru can make one cross the ocean of mundane existence and reach the supreme abode full of supreme nectarine bliss:
नृदेहमाद्यं सुलभं सुदुर्लभं
प्लवं सुकल्पं गुरुकर्णधारम् ।
पुमान्भवाब्धिं न तरेत्स आत्महा ॥
nṛ-deham ādyaḿ su-labhaḿ su-durlabhaḿ
plavaḿ su-kalpaḿ guru-karṇadhāram
pumān bhavābdhiḿ na taret sa ātma-hā
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.20.17)
“The best of bodies, a human body, is a great attainment, very rarely achieved, and may be compared to a boat. The guru is an expert captain for this boat, and I have sent favorable winds. Thus I have given all facilities for crossing over the ocean of material existence. Any human being who has achieved these excellent facilities of human life but does not cross over the material ocean is to be considered the killer of his own self.”
एवं लोकं परम्विद्यान्
नश्वरं कर्मनिर्मितम् ।
यथा मण्डलवर्तिनाम् ॥
evaḿ lokaḿ param vidyān
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.20)
“One cannot find permanent happiness even on the heavenly planets (temporary heavens), which one can attain in the next life by ritualistic ceremonies and sacrifices. Even in material heaven the living entity is disturbed by rivalry with his equals and envy of those superior to him. And since one's residence in heaven is finished with the exhaustion of pious fruitive activities, the denizens of heaven are afflicted by fear, anticipating the destruction of their heavenly life. Thus they resemble kings who, though enviously admired by ordinary citizens, are constantly harassed by enemy kings and who therefore never attain actual happiness.”
तस्माद्गुरुं प्रपद्येत जिज्ञासुः श्रेय उत्तमम्।
शाब्दे परे च निष्णातं ब्रह्मण्युपशमाश्रयम् ॥
tasmād guruḿ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam।
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaḿ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam॥
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.21)
“Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bonafide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bonafide spiritual masters.”
Same is told by Bhagavati Shruti:
तद्विज्ञानार्थं स गुरुमेवाभिगच्छेत् समित्पाणिः श्रोत्रियं ब्रह्मनिष्ठम्॥
(मुण्डक उपनिषद् १.२.१२)
tadvijñānārthaṁ sa gurumevābhigacchet samitpāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahmaniṣṭham॥
(muṇḍaka upaniṣad 1.2.12)
“In order to obtain the knowledge of the Brahman, a person should take sacrificial fuel (samit) in his hands and approach that Guru alone who is well-versed in the Vedas and is established in Brahman (the supreme absolute one).”
Without accepting a guru, no one can get success in spiritual path! All things done without a guru is in vain, wouldn't bring the ultimate success, never!
And after getting such guru, one should treat him as his/her own life and equal to worshipable deity:
तत्र भागवतान्धर्मान्शिक्षेद्गुर्वात्मदैवतः ।
अमाययानुवृत्त्या यैस्तुष्येदात्मात्मदो हरिः ॥
tatra bhāgavatān dharmān śikṣed gurv-ātma-daivataḥ ।
amāyayānuvṛttyā yais tuṣyed ātmātma-do hariḥ ॥
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.22)
“Accepting the bonafide spiritual master as one's life and soul and worshipable deity, the disciple should learn from him the process of pure devotional service. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, the soul of all souls, is inclined to give Himself to His pure devotees. Therefore, the disciple should learn from the spiritual master to serve the Lord without duplicity and in such a faithful and favorable way that the Supreme Lord, being satisfied, will offer Himself to the faithful disciple.”
Thus, supreme Lord offers himself if one pleases his Guru.
How to learn from such Guru?
Lord himself answers this question in Bhagavad Gita:
तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया ।
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ॥
tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā।
upadekṣyanti te jñānaḿ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ॥
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”
It means approach that guru who can answers your all questions (paripraśnena sevayā - keep submissive inquiries in front of him in order to learn the J~nana and Bhakti), Guru itself means the person who can remove all doubts and ignorance.
5) Abstaining from spiritual offenses
A Vaishnava should abstain from some very serious spiritual offenses which are very detrimental to spiritual progress such as a) Bhagavad-aparādha, b) Bhāgavata-aparādha etc.
i) Bhagavad-aparādha : Offenses towards Bhagavān himself, such as talking in offensive manner against any Svarupa or Naam or dhaam or leelā of Śrī Bhagavān.
(a) Nāmāparādha : Chanting the name of Lord and committing the spiritual offenses intentionally or keep doing sins thinking lord's name would keep destroying it. Some people keep committing spiritual offenses even after being warned by saintly persons, because they think Lord would keep destroying their offenses.
b) Dhāmāparādha : disrespecting the sanctity of dhaam (abode of Lord). One should have great love, adherence and reverance towards dhaam (of Ishta).
ii) Bhāgavat-aparādha : Committing offense(s) towards or hurting a Bhagavata or devotee of Bhagavan (Ishta). A vaishnava should never ever hurt a devotee of Bhagavan. Bhagavan Shri Rama forgives any number of sins committed towards him, however he becomes unable to forgive the sins committed towards his dear devotees.
iii) Guru-aparādha : Śrī Gurudeva is embodiment of all gods and saints for the disciple as said in scriptures, he is manifestation Śrī Hari himself, therefore any offense towards Guru, disrespecting him in any manner, diobeying his words, are the most severe offense. One mone must never commit it.
5. Follow the regulative Principles
Everyone should follow the regulative principles for leading a spiritual life such : a) No Meat eating, b) No alcohol or any Intoxication, c) No Illicit relation, and d) No theft etc... These principles are based upon Upanishad and there is subtle pure spiritual science behind these.
a) Pure Satvika Food (Always take Prasad)
आहारशुद्धौ सत्त्वशुद्धौ ध्रुवा स्मृतिः
स्मृतिलम्भे सर्वग्रन्थीनां विप्रमोक्षस्तस्मै
मृदितकषायाय तमसस्पारं दर्शयति
भगवान्सनत्कुमारस्तꣳ स्कन्द इत्याचक्षते
तꣳ स्कन्द इत्याचक्षते ॥
āhāraśuddhau sattvaśuddhau dhruvā smṛtiḥ
smṛtilambhe sarvagranthīnāṃ vipramokṣastasmai
mṛditakaṣāyāya tamasaspāraṃ darśayati
bhagavānsanatkumārastaꣳ skanda ityācakṣate
taꣳ skanda ityācakṣate॥
(chāndogya upaniṣada 7.26.2)
“When Food is Satvika (pure), our mind and intellect (understanding) become pure. When mind and understanding are pure, then remembrance (of Bhagavan) becomes firm and constant i.e. unceasing. When remembrance (of lord) becomes firm and constant, there is complete release from all the knots i.e. a Jiva gets liberation. The revered Sanatkumara showed to Narada, after his impurities had been washed off, the further shore of darkness means Narada realised the Brahman. Hence scholars call Sanatkumara as Skanda!"
So everyone should take pure satvik-food items only... in fact always take Prasada only, the food first offered to Bhagavan Shri Rama.
Never ever touch any meat and non-veg item, any alcohol or intoxication. all Vaishnavas should follow these 4 regulative principles, if they are really serious on path of spirituality.
b) No alcohol or any Intoxication, c) No Illicit relation and d) No theft
स्तेनो हिरण्यस्य सुरां पिबꣳश्च गुरोस्तल्पमावसन्ब्रह्महा
चैते पतन्ति चत्वारः पञ्चमश्चाचरꣳस्तैरिति ॥
stēnō hiraṇyasya surāṃ pibaꣳśca gurōs-talpamāvasan-brahmahā
caitē patanti catvāraḥ pañcamaścācaraꣳstairiti ॥
“One who steals precious items, one who drinks alcohol or take intoxication, one who dishonours the teacher's bed or sleeps with motherly figures, and one who injures a Brahmana - all these four fall, as also the fifth one who associates with them.
So Bhagavati Shruti clearly forbids that one shouldn't live with such people who drink or one makes illicit relation(s) violating the dharma-marriage, otherwise those who associate with such people would also fall from spirituality.
A Mood of Great Urgency
Whether One is eating, sleeping, or awake; day and night one should always think of Bhagavan. Because there is always a situation of emergency where at any moment death can take You away from your present position. So, One should consider it as an emergency and go on with cultivating Bhakti and Ramanusilana (following Shri Rama). By hook or by crook one should try to stay afloat upon Bhakti – continuously experiencing Bhagavan in all possible ways.
तुलसी स्वारथ सामुहो परमारथ तन पीठि ।
अंध कहें दुख पाइहै डिठिआरो केहि डीठि ॥
tulasī svāratha sāmuhō paramāratha tana pīṭhi ।
aṃdha kahēṃ dukha pāihai ḍiṭhiārō kēhi ḍīṭhi ॥
“Person who is disclined and apathetic from the ultimate welfare is the real blind: Tulsidas says that a person who has the eyes to see what is good for him in this material world, but who has willingly turned his back to (don't want to see) his spiritual future and true wellbeing (by turning against the principles of Dharma and against the Lord's wishes) — if such a stupid person is called ‘blind’ then he will feel offended, but what else can one call him?
बेगि विलम्ब न किजिये लिजै उपदेस ।
बीजमन्त्र जपिये सोई जो जपत महेस ॥
bēgi vilamba na kijiyē lijai upadēsa ।
bījamantra japiyē sōī jō japata mahēsa ॥
(śrī vinayapatrikā 108.12)
“So Hasten, do not delay. Take initiation from Sadguru and chant the great Bījamantra (Rāma) which the great lord Shiva chants.