As I recall, one of the features of ISKCON culture in the mid-’70s was to
offer obeisances to the other devotees first thing in the morning. I’ve
always understood that this came from Srila Prabhupada, and I vaguely
remember seeing an instruction from him. Does anyone have a reference?
Mahadyuti (das) ACBSP
It is a Vedic custom that the junior members of the family should offer
respects to the elders every morning.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => KB 85: Spiritual Instruction for Vasudeva, and the
Return of the Six Dead Sons of Devaki by Lord Krsna
Tosana Krsna: Anyone who was a member of that Frederick Street temple will
tell you it was very special. Although we all experienced it, we didn’t
realize at the time that the main reason was Jayananda. Even though we all
knew he was special, we just took him for granted. He was so dedicated, so
willing to do anything, that he was a great example. He was always very
humble, always very willing to do the most simple service. Everybody was
attracted to do nice service because he had such a good attitude, and he
kind of intoxicated them into the mood.
I remember everybody would pay obeisances to each other in the
morning. Jayananda was the temple president, and this was the standard
thing. He was so sweet, kind, considerate, and obviously dedicated. Every
morning, I would come into the kitchen with a bunch of flowers. I was a new
devotee then, and he would explain what I was to do with them. Although I
was not even initiated and he was temple president, there was no sense of
position. That was extremely attractive. He was very attractive, Jayananda,
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Tosana Krsna:
So don’t be reactionary. That is personally motivated. Think always of the
details of devotional service and if someone criticizes you for not carrying
it out, then you accept, “Oh Krishna, You are so kind. You are speaking to
me through my Godbrother. You are trying to help me advance towards You
through my Godbrother.” That should be the attitude. Always be in a service
attitude, that “These are all my superiors — Prabhus.” You can practice
this by bowing down. Boys have been coming up to me, I have been
recommending that they rise together and immediately pay obeisances to one
another, touch each other’s feet. Sudama Maharaja and I were older devotees,
we’ve been used to each other’s association for so many years, but still
when we rise in the morning we offer obeisances when we see each other, we
take the dust of each other’s feet. This is recommended by our spiritual
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Vishnu Jana Swami Lecture: Nectar of Devotion Chapter
Six – Los Angeles — April 30, 1973
Srila Prabhupada encouraged the devotees to greet each other in the morning
by making obeisances and by addressing each other regularly as prabhu, or
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Satsvarupa Goswmi: LS 15: Srila Prabhupada Pranati
Posted – 21/09/2008 : 13:45:39
I don’t have a direct reference but here’s a few quotes to support
the etiquette of bowing down:
Morning Walk at Marina del Rey — July 14, 1974, Los Angeles
Umapati: Srila Prabhupada? We, because of our fallen condition, do require
many mechanical means by which we can offer one another respects and to
teach one another examples of scripture. For example, we are asked to bow
our bodies down to show respects, or to call one another “prabhu,” to
understand that each person is a spiritual master to the other. How is a…
How are the boys and girls to learn these things in manners of decorum and
manners from the sannyasis, for example. How are they to offer respects to
their godbrothers. And, uh… [break]
Prabhupada: You can. You behave like that, others will learn.
Umapati: For example, I have seen many godbrothers offer one another
respects, but I very seldom see that in terms of some of our leaders.
Prabhupada: So some of you show by practical example, guide them. Then
Morning Walk — December 5, 1973, Los Angeles
Prabhupada: Our Juhu Beach is very nice.
Yasomatinandana: Yes, Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: All clean, and you can walk very nicely. In Bombay.
Yasomatinandana: And lot of people can see you. And they bow down to you?
Prabhupada: If they do not, what can I do?
Yasomatinandana: Well, no, if they do, then they will go to Vaikuntha.
Prabhupada: That is our sastric injunction, that as soon as you see a
sannyasi, you must bow down. Otherwise, you should fast one day. It doesn’t
matter, I or you. This is the injunction of the sastra, that sannyasi is
supposed to be the guru of the society. So one must bow down.
Yasomatinandana: Prabhupada, 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?
Prabhupada: If you can, of course.
Srutakirti: It wouldn’t hurt.
Letter to: Arundhati — New Vrindaban 16 June, 1969
Regarding your second question about greeting karmis, if a karmi is a
friend, you just greet him Hare Krishna, and with folded hands touch your
forehead. If 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
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