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For the practitioner of devotional service, dhairya, patience, is extremely necessary. Those who possess the quality of dhairya are called dhira, sober. Due to lack of this quality, men become restless. Those who are impatient cannot do any work. By the quality of dhairya, a practitioner controls first himself and then the whole world. In the first verse of Shri Upadeshamrita the symptoms of dhairya are explained:
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
etan vegan yo vishaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prithivim sa shishyat
“A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind's demands, the actions of anger, and the urges of the tongue, belly, and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.”
There are six types of urges: namely, the urges of speech, mind, anger, belly, tongue, and genitals. With a desire to speak more, a person becomes talkative. If speech is not regulated, then enmity arises from talking about others. To speak uselessly is the business of a fool; but out of a desire to unnecessarily engage in speech the materialists always waste time and face so many distresses. Pious people observe mauna-vrata, or silence, in order to get rid of this disturbance. That is why the rishis have made provisions for observing various vows like mauna-vrata. The practitioners of devotional service should not speak unnecessarily. If you do have to speak unnecessarily, better to keep quiet. Besides topics regarding Krishna, all other topics are unnecessary. But to speak about the subjects favorable to devotional service is not unnecessary. Therefore devotees should speak only on topics about Lord Hari or those favorable to such topics. All other topics will be counted in the category of the urge to speak. One who is able to control the urge to speak is a sober person.
It is the duty of a sober person to tolerate the urge of the mind. Until one is habituated to control the urge of the mind, how can one perform devotional service with attention? A materialist sits in the chariot of the mind and never gets relief from its various urges, except during sleep. Even during sleep many thoughts such as good and bad dreams come. In order to regulate the urges of the mind, rishis have propounded ashtanga-yoga and raja-yoga. But the Lord's prescription is that one should regulate the mind from the inferior tastes by giving it a higher taste. Those who are on the path of devotional service can easily regulate the mind. The mind cannot remain without urges. If urged towards spiritual subjects, the mind is properly engaged and it will not hanker for insignificant subjects. Many people think that without ashtanga-yoga there is no alternative to regulate the mind. But Patanjali Muni has accepted that just as ashtanga-yoga regulates the mind, bhakti-yoga can also. Meditation on the Supreme Lord as propounded by Patanjali is not pure devotional service, rather it is sakama-bhakti, or motivated. If devotional service is performed for the purpose of regulating the mind, then it is certainly not devoid of material desires. Favorable cultivation of devotional service in relationship to Krishna is the real meaning of pure bhakti. Therefore whenever pure devotional service is performed, joyfulness of the mind automatically arises from amongst extraneous fruits. Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.1.32) states: tasmat kenapy upayena manah krishne niveshayet—“Somehow or other, one must consider the form of Krishna very seriously.” If one follows this instruction, then the mind will be engaged at the lotus feet of Krishna and it will not easily wander into other subjects. For the practitioner, the urge of the mind is regulated by pure cultivation of favorable devotional service in relationship to Krishna. By carefully meditating on this subject, one can know the inherent differences between yoga and bhakti.
To restrain the urge of anger is compulsory for those who are thirsty for devotional service. Anger arises when a man's lust is unfulfilled. When one is angry the result gradually leads one to ruination. It is said in Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 19.149): krishna-bhakta—nishkama, ataeva `shanta'—“Because a devotee of Lord Krishna is desireless, he is peaceful.” No insignificant lust can remain in the heart of one who relishes pure devotional service. Therefore there is no possibility of anger arising in his mind. Those whose devotional service is motivated cannot conquer anger. It is not possible to conquer anger by intelligence alone. In a very short time attachment for sense enjoyment overcomes the function of the intelligence and gives anger a place in its kingdom. It is seen in the song of the Avanti brahmana from the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.23.33-35, 37, 40) that he was able to quickly control anger.
tam vai pravayasam bhikshum avadhutam asaj-janah
drishtva paryabhavan bhadra bahvibhih paribhutibhih
“O kind Uddhava, seeing him as an old, dirty beggar, rowdy persons would dishonor him with many insults.
kecit tri-venum jagrihur eke patram kamandalum
pitham caike 'ksha-sutram ca kantham cirani kecana
pradaya ca punas tani darshitany adadur muneh
“Some of these persons would take away his sannyasi rod, and some the waterpot which he was using as a begging bowl. Some took his deerskin seat, some his chanting beads, and some would steal his torn, ragged clothing. Displaying these things before him, they would pretend to offer them back but would then hide them again.
annam ca bhaikshya-sampannam bhunjanasya sarit-tate
mutrayanti ca papishthah shthivanty asya ca murdhani
“When he was sitting on the bank of a river about to partake of the food that he had collected by his begging, such sinful rascals would come and pass urine on it, and they would dare to spit on his head.
kshipanty eke 'vajananta esha dharma-dhvajah shathah
kshina-vitta imam vrittim agrahit sva-janojjhitah
“They would criticize and insult him, saying: This man is just a hypocrite and a cheat. He makes a business of religion simply because he lost all his wealth and his family threw him out.
evam sa bhautikam duhkham daivikam daihikam ca yat
bhoktavyam atmano dishtam praptam praptam abudhyata
“The brahmana understood that all his suffering—from other living beings, from the higher forces of nature, and from his own body—was unavoidable, being allotted him by Providence.”
That Avanti mendicant then spoke the following verse in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.23.57):
etam sa asthaya paratma-nishtham
adhyasitam purvatamair mahadbhih
aham tarishyami duranta-param
“I shall cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Krishna. This was approved by the previous acaryas, who were fixed in firm devotion to the Lord, Paramatma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
This paratma-nishta, being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Krishna, is sometimes followed by householders like Janaka and sometimes by sannyasis like Sanaka and Sanatana. In both circumstances the paratma-nishta is the same. Without this paratma-nishta one cannot cross the insurmountable ocean of nescience. Service to Lord Mukunda is the only shelter; one will be delivered by accepting that. We can clearly see from this song of the Avanti brahmana that it is impossible to cross the material ocean by the process of yoga. By unflinching devotion to Krishna, everything is achieved. One who can control the urges of speech, mind, and anger by devotional service is called dhira.
It is everyone's duty to subdue the urge of the tongue. Materialistic persons are always busy trying to enjoy the six kinds of tastes by chewing, sucking, and so on. “Today I will enjoy spiced rice with non-veg, today I will endeavor for kitri, today I will enjoy the finest drinks.” Hankering like this, the materialist always wanders. The more the tongue eats, the more its hankering increases. For those who wander for the pleasure of the tongue, attaining Krishna is very difficult. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Antya 6.225-227):
vairagi hana kare jihvara lalasa
paramartha yaya, ara haya rasera vasha
vairagira kritya—sada nama-sankirtana
jihvara lalase yei iti-uti dhaya
shishnodara-parayana krishna nahi paya
“If a renunciate is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue. The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits, and roots are available. One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Krishna.”
One should fill his belly with whatever is easily available. By offering Krishna foods in the mode of goodness and honoring them as prasada, the tongue is satisfied and service to Krishna is cultivated. If palatable prasada is easily available, then the tongue's greed will gradually be controlled rather than increased.
The urge of the belly is a disturbance. The requirement of the stomach is to eat for the maintenance of the life and mitigation of hunger. Those who are thirsty for devotional service should maintain their life by moderate eating. Those who endeavor to overeat are called gluttons. One of the qualities of devotees is mita-bhuk, eating what is necessary. By eating less, the body remains healthy and does not disturb one's devotional service. Those who have no strength to tolerate the urge of the stomach are always greedy to eat. Those who are firmly convinced that nothing can be eaten besides krishna-prasada are especially able to tolerate the urge of the belly. Restrictions like fasting on prescribed days are also models of instruction for controlling the urge of the stomach.
The urge of the genital is formidable for persons who are averse to the Lord. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.5.11) it is said: loke vyavayamisha-madya-seva nitya hi jantor na hi tatra codana—“In this material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex, meat-eating, and intoxication. Therefore religious scriptures never actually encourage such activities.” The purport of this statement from the Shrimad Bhagavatam is confidential. Those who possess a material body made of flesh and blood are always inclined to associate with women. To minimize this inclination, the marriage ceremony is recommended. Those who wish to get free from the codes of marriage are almost like animals. But those who have crossed beyond the rules of this natural inclination by the association of devotees and the strength of their service and have thus attained attraction for spiritual subject matters, for them associating with the opposite sex is very insignificant. Persons who are filled with attachment for material enjoyment can never tolerate the urge of the genital. Many of them engage in illicit activities. Regarding this propensity, those who thirst for devotional service are divided into two groups. Those whose attraction has been purified by the strength of sadhu-sanga give up the association of women altogether and continually engage in devotional service. Persons in this group are known as renounced Vaishnavas. Those whose propensity for associating with women has not been destroyed accept the codes of marriage and remain as householders while engaging in devotional service. Associating with women as prescribed in the scriptures means to control the urge of the genitals.
When one properly tolerates the above mentioned six urges, that is favorable for his devotional service. And when those urges are strong, that is unfavorable for one's devotional service. To subdue these six urges is called dhairya. As long as one has a material body these propensities cannot be totally uprooted, but by properly engaging them in their appropriate subjects they no longer remain faulty. Therefore Shri Narottama dasa Thakura has written in his Prema-bhakti-candrika as follows:
kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya, dambha-saha
sthane sthane niyukta kariba
ananda kari' hridaya, ripu kari' parajaya,
anayase govinda bhajiba.
`kama' krishna-karmarpane, `krodha' bhakta-dveshi jane,
`lobha' sadhu-sange hari-katha
`moha' ishta-labha vine, `mada' krishna-guna-gane,
niyukta kariba yatha tatha.
“I will engage lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness, envy, and pride in appropriate ways, and by defeating these enemies I will feel happiness in my heart as I peacefully worship Govinda. I will engage lust by offering it in Krishna's service. Anger I will direct towards those who are envious of the devotees. I will be greedy to hear the topics of Hari in the association of devotees. I will feel illusioned without achieving my worshipable Lord. I will be maddened while singing the glories of Krishna. In this way I will engage these enemies in their proper places.”
The confidential meaning of this song is that the duty of an intelligent person is to direct these urges away from their respective subjects and make them favorable to devotional service. That can only be done with patience.
There is another meaning applicable to the word dhairya. Those who engage in sadhana desire to attain the results. Karmis hope to attain heavenly happiness by fruitive activities; jnanis hope to attain liberation by speculative knowledge, and devotees hope to please Krishna by their devotion. Being impatient due to prolonged sadhana, some people fall from the path to the ultimate goal; therefore a practicing devotee who desires to achieve his goal attains that result only when he becomes patient. “Krishna must be merciful to me either today or after one hundred years or in some other birth. I will take shelter of His lotus feet with determination and never leave.” This type of dhairya, patience, is most desirable for the practitioners of devotional service.