If I can invest one hour daily for bhakti, which bhakti practices should I do?
Question- If somebody can devote one hour daily to bhakti, which devotional service should they do?
Answer- On a daily basis most important activity is – chanting the holy names.
Holy name is the most accessible and portable form of Krishna. For darshan of the Deities, we have to come to the temple, but for holy name we can chant anywhere, anytime. Chanting of holy names is the yuga dharma, i.e. it is the recommended means to attain God realization in this present age.
Now, to do chanting regularly with inspiration, we need intellectual conviction. That intellectual conviction comes by studying scriptures like Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagvatam. Studying is same as hearing (shravanam). If one stops studying or hearing, after sometime, the person would start losing motivation to chant. Chanting will slowly start becoming boring, then burdensome, and then the person will eventually give it up.
Although chanting alone is potent enough to purify and liberate us, but if we are not able to absorb ourselves in chanting, then the potency is lost. That is why we need intellectual conviction which comes by scriptural study.
In addition to that, I would say, that most important form of bhakti is regular association of devotees, which can come through by for example a weekly Sunday feast program, home program etc. Without regular association, we will not be able to sustain anything else.
As far as distribution of time to these various forms is concerned, if we have 1 hour per day i.e. 7 hours per week, then we should try to come in the association of devotees at least 2-3 hours per week. Remaining time, we can decide how much to chant, study scripture etc.
On association, please understand that we are social beings and we need to see others who are also practicing bhakti. Our desires are not only linear, they are triangular. Linear means, that I see an object, I develop desire for it, and I get it. However, sometimes, I may not get the desire just by seeing the object, I might reject it in the first instance. However, when I see someone using that object and finding it very nice, I will develop that desire. So desire being triangular means that it is between me, the object, and someone who is using/relishing the object.
In bhakti, our desires develop triangularly. For example, when we see devotees who are eager to chant, who are finding taste in chanting, then that has a big impact on our motivation for bhakti. Similarly, if we see a devotee reading Bhagvad-Gita every day, he is enjoying reading it every day, then we also find motivation to do the same.
To summarize, chanting is most potent form of bhakti, but in order to sustain chanting, we need to regularly do scriptural study, and most importantly keep a regular strong devotee association.