|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhakti Tattva Viveka > Preface|
The unlimited glories of bhagavad-bhakti are visible in the Puranas, shrutis, smritis, Mahabharata, and Ramayana, as well as in the literatures of famous Vaishnava acaryas. By understanding the svarupa or constitutional nature of shuddha-bhakti or unalloyed devotion and genuinely engaging in its practice, one can easily cross the ocean of nescience and achieve life’s ultimate goal of krishna- prema.
What to speak of the genuine practice of shuddha-bhakti, even the attainment of a slight semblance of bhakti can award the fourfold boons of artha (economic development), dharma (reli- giosity), kama (sense gratification) and moksha (liberation). Therefore, people in general become attracted towards the cultivation of bhakti. But due to being ignorant of the true nature of shuddha- bhakti, they usually come in contact with pretentious devotees who desire only wealth, women and fame, and under their influence either practice false devotion or adopt devotional sentiments which are against the principles of pure devotion, all the while imagining them to be pure bhakti.
Coming under the influence of those desiring impersonal liberation, they practice a shadow or reflection of real bhakti and deceive themselves. Thus they do not achieve the real fruit of bhakti.
Hence, the most merciful bhakti-rasacarya Shrila Rupa Gosvami has explained in his book Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu the true nature of shuddha-bhakti on the basis of scriptural evidences. Moreover, he has described the nature of chala-bhakti (pretentious devotion), abhasa-bhakti (a semblance of devotion), pratibimba-bhakti (a reflection of devotion), karma-mishra-bhakti (devo- tion mixed with fruitive action), jnana-mishra-bhakti (devotion mixed with impersonal knowledge), aropa-siddha-bhakti (endeavours which are indirectly attributed with the quality of devotion), sanga-siddha-bhakti (endeavours associated with or favourable to the cultivation of devotion) and so on.
In the realm of devotion the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu is unanimously accepted as the most authoritative literature, but it was composed in the Sanskrit language. So for the benefit of people in general, in his Bhakti-tattva-viveka Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has presented the grave and deep conceptions of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu in the Bengali language in a straightforward and easily understandable manner.
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is an intimate eternal associate of the saviour of the masses in the age of Kali, Shacinandana Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. After the associates of Shri Gaurahari such as the Six Gosvamis, Shri Krishnadasa Kaviraja, Shri Narottama Thakura and Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura left this world and entered the unmanifest pastimes, the one-hundred years that followed are con- sidered a dark period for the Gaudiya Vaishnava line. This is because during this period in the Gaudiya line no powerful acarya appeared who could carry forward the teachings of Shriman Mahaprabhu in their pure form as was done previously.
As a result, in a short span of time, on the pretext of following and preaching the prema-dharma taught by Shriman Mahaprabhu many false sects like Aul, Baul, Karta-bhaja, Neda-nedi, Sai, Sahajiya, Sakhi-bhekhi, Smarta and Jati-gosai appeared and, while engaged in abundant misbehaviour, started preaching their own imaginary and materially motivated deceitful principles. They defamed Gaudiya Vaishnavism to such an extent that educated and respectable people started viewing it with abhorrence. Gradually the Gaudiya conception of devotion began disappearing.
At this time, in the year 1838, Shrila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura auspiciously appeared in a well-educated and cultured family in the village of Vira-nagara which is near Shri Navadvipa- dhama in West Bengal. By compiling approximately one-hundred authoritative books on the sci- ence of bhakti in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, English and various other languages, he ushered in a new era in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line and re-established its lost glory. For this great effort, the Gaudiya Vaishnavas will remain eternally indebted to him. In the modern age, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura set in motion once again the bhakti-bhagirathi, or flowing river of pure devotion, and for this he is well-known as the Seventh Gosvami.
This Bhakti-tattva-vivekais a collection of four essays he composed originally in Bengali on the deliberation of devotional principles. The first Hindi edition of this material was serialised in issues from the fourth and fifth years (1958-59) of Shri Bhagavat Patrika, a spiritual magazine in Hindi pub- lished monthly from Shri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura. On the request of our faithful readers and by the inspiration of the present day acarya of the Shri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja, it was presented in book form in 1990.
This present English edition is a direct translation of the Hindi edition. Shriman Prema-vilasa dasa Adhikari provided the English rendering as well as the layout and design. He also oversaw all aspects of the book’s publication. Shriman Navadvipa dasa Adhikari served as Sanskrit editor and offered many valuable suggestions which enhanced the clarity of the presentation. Finally, the book was proofread by Shrimati Yashoda-gopi dasi. I pray that the mercy of Shri Shri Guru-Gauranga and Shri Shri Radha Vinoda-bihari be upon all these devotees for their sincere efforts.
By the causeless mercy of the founder of the Shri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti and its subordinateGaudiya Matha branches throughout India, the most worshipable acarya-keshari jagad-guru om vishnupada ashtottara-shataShri Shrimad Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja, Gaudiya devotional literatures are being published by the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. On the most auspicious occasion of his appearance day, this edition is being presented as an offering placed into his lotus hands. Being the great embodiment of affection and forgiveness, may he transmit the potency of his mercy into the core of our hearts so that we can render maximum service to his innermost desire. This is our humble prayer at his lotus feet.
Lastly, I humbly request the faithful readers to deliberate upon this literature with great concen- tration. By understanding the true nature of shuddha-bhakti, one can relish the ultimate goal of all scriptures, the pure nectar of krishna-prema as exhibited and preached by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
An aspirant for a particle of mercy of
Shri Guru and the Vaishnavas,
Tridandi-bhikshu Shri Bhaktivedanta Narayana
Shri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha, Mathura
February 24, 1997