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This Shri Bhajana Rahasya is compiled by Shrimad Bhaktivinode Thakura. In the form of this book he has given a hint of his own method of bhajana so that his sincere followers may have a guideline. A few years before, this akincana carefully observed him reciting the shlokas mentioned in this book and at the same time he was relishing overwhelming ecstatic love of Godhead.
In the kingdom of bhakti there is provision for arcana for those who have nishtha at the level of kanishtha. The difference which exists between arcana and bhajana is sometimes difficult to follow by many people. That is why they misunderstand the word arcana as bhajana. The performance of navadha-bhakti is the basis of bhajana. Arcana, being a part of navadha-bhakti, is therefore accepted as a part of bhajana. It can be concluded therefore that arcana being a part of bhajana cannot be equal to bhajana as a whole.
While worshiping the Supreme Lord by arcana one is bound by a feeling of reverence mixed with awe and submission. To serve the Supreme Personality with a mood of awe and submission along with various paraphanelia is known as arcana. On the other side, if one serves on the platform of faternity, the intensity of the rays of service in awe and submission are subdued. No one can reject the cool refreshing moonlight of the sweetness of that pure love. An abreviated arcana paddhati (rules of arcana) is included as an appendix to this work.
While revealing the secrets of bhajana it has been narrated in this book that in the process of arcana there more or less remains a connection with the gross and subtle bodies. In the realm of bhajana, the embodied soul freed from gross and subtle designations is directly engaged in the service of the Supreme Personality. One who is sincerely engaged in bhajana and is completely freed from all material designations realizes through his spiritual senses something beyond the material sphere. The realization which he achieves leads him to the proximity of the advaya-jnana tattva where he serves on a platform beyond the material senses and time.
The distinctive knowledge revealed by the guru to the completely faithful persons is known as rahasya. In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, while describing the [sixty-four] different parts of sadhana-bhakti, it is said that after receiving instuctions on Krishna consciousness from a bona fide guru the third step is to perform worship with feelings of fraternity following in the footsteps of the sadhus [sadhu vartmanuvartanam]. This is known as the performance of bhajana rahasya. Those who without possession are devoted to worship of the Supreme Lord by this method of bhajana are freed from all material bondage. They are completely freed from the association of worldly minded persons who are bound by various material desires unfavorable to Krishna consciousness. Only then the propensity to serve the Supreme Personality every moment throughout the twenty-four hours (ashta-kala) manifests. Those pure devotees who are anxious to engage in service consider the association of nondevotees—both sense enjoyers and renunciates—a great obstacle in obtaining their desired ultimate goal. Those possessed of desires other than Krishna—karmis and jnanis—have no taste for bhajana rahasya. Therefore they have no qualification to enter into the realm of ashta-kala bhajana which manifests on the platform of transcendental knowledge. This book is never very much appreciated by such persons.
When the twenty-four hour day is divided into eight parts, each part (approximately three hours) is known as a yama. Day and night each consist of three yamas, together with dawn and dusk—each one yama—total eight yamas. Only for a pure Vaishnava is it possible to perform Krishna bhajana at all time and circumstances with intense determination. Such continuous bhajana is not possible for one possessed of a sense of material egotism. For the living entity who ascribes material concepts on objects related to Hari, it is not possible to become freed from material bondage and achieve liberation. Vaishnavas devoted to bhajana who have achieved their eternal spiritual form (svarupa) are always engaged in serving Krishna.
The eight verses composed by Shri Gaurasundara in the Shikshashtika are according to ashta-yama. The eleven verses compiled by Shri Rupa Gosvami (Smarana-mangala-stotram) and following them the songs of other mahajanas, based on intense desire for ashta-kala bhajana, prescribes continuous bhajana. For the sincere servant of the spiritual master it is appropriate to always discuss this bhajana rahasya being completely freed of the concepts of time, place and recipient.
(servant of the devotees of Lord Hari)
Dasa Shri Siddhanta Sarasvati
13 November, 1927