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In his Upadeshamrita, Shrila Rupa Gosvami has instructed the practitioners of devotional service to be confident. Until this confidence is achieved, one will remain doubtful. Doubtful persons never have auspiciousness. For how will those who are doubtful at heart have faith in unalloyed devotional service? The Bhagavad-gita (4.40) says:
ajnash cashraddadhanash ca samshayatma vinashyati
nayam loko 'sti na paro na sukham samshayatmanah
“But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.” One who has faith is certainly without doubts, because the word faith means firm conviction. As long as doubts are there, firm conviction cannot remain in the heart. Therefore faithful living entities are always doubtless. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has ordered all Vaishnavas to first understand three truths—sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana. There are ten principle subjects in these three truths. The first is that Vedic literatures are the only authority. In order to ascertain the truth, one must accept authority. There are nine realities, which can be known only through Vedic authority. Different scriptures have defined different authorities. Some say pratyaksha, or direct understanding, some say anumana, or hypothetical understanding, and some say upamana, or analogies, are authorities. And others include other subjects as authorities. All other authorities, however, are considered auxiliary authorities by the Vaishnava literatures propounded by Shriman Mahaprabhu. Therefore the self-perfect authority received through the disciplic succession is the only principle authority to be accepted. All the natures that exist in this world are divided into two categories—some are inconceivable and some are conceivable. The material natures are conceivable because they automatically awaken in the course of thinking. Spiritual nature is inconceivable because it is not perceivable by people's poor fund of knowledge. Inconceivable natures cannot be known without self-realization. Therefore there is no entrance into inconceivable subjects for authorities like pratyaksha, which are included in the category of argument. That is why Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (as quoted from the Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva) says:
acintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet
prakritibhyah param yac ca tad acintyasya lakshanam
“The state of acintya cannot be ascertained by argument. It is that which is beyond the twenty-four elements of material nature.” There is no entrance for pratyaksha and anumana in that state. In order to know the inconceivable nature, self-realization is the only means. Self-realization is almost impossible for ordinary people. Seeing people's terrible madness, the most merciful Supreme Lord manifested the Vedic literatures. In the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.122, 124, 125) Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said:
maya-mugdha jivera nahi svatah krishna-jnana
jivere kripaya kaila krishna veda-purana
veda-shastra kahe—`sambandha' `abhidheya' `prayojana'
`krishna'—prapya sambandha, `bhakti'—praptyera sadhana
abhidheya-nama `bhakti' `prema'—prayojana
purushartha-shiromani prema maha-dhana
“The conditioned soul cannot revive his Krishna consciousness by his own effort. But out of causeless mercy, Lord Krishna compiled the Vedic literature and its supplements, the Puranas. The Vedic literatures give information about the living entity's eternal relationship with Krishna, which is called sambandha. The living entity's understanding of this relationship and acting accordingly is called abhidheya. Returning home, back to Godhead, is the ultimate goal of life and is called prayojana. Devotional service, or sense activity for the satisfaction of the Lord, is called abhidheya because it can develop one's original love of Godhead, which is the goal of life. This goal is the living entity's topmost interest and greatest wealth. Thus one attains the platform of transcendental loving service unto the Lord.”
To know the inconceivable nature, the Vedic authority alone should be accepted. There is one other consideration in this regard. The Vedic knowledge received through the guru-parampara is called amnaya. There are so many subjects in the Vedas, and there are various instructions for different qualifications. Among all qualifications, the qualification for devotional life is the topmost. By the strength of their devotional service, the previous mahajanas have awakened to self-realization and thereby separately written instructions regarding the qualifications for devotional service as mentioned in the Vedas. Therefore the Vedic statements ascertained by the previous mahajanas as relating to the qualifications for devotion are all called amnaya, and it is necessary to learn them. It is impossible to enter into the inconceivable nature without receiving the full mercy of the spiritual master. The instruction of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in this regard is given in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.127-136):
ihate drishtanta—yaiche daridrera ghare
`sarvajna' asi' duhkha dekhi' puchaye tahare
“The following example may be given. Once a learned astrologer came to the house of a poor man and, seeing his distressed condition, questioned him.
tumi kene duhkhi, tomara ache pitri-dhana
tomare na kahila, anyatra chadila jivana
“The astrologer asked: Why are you unhappy? Your father was very wealthy, but he did not disclose his wealth to you because he died elsewhere.
sarvajnera vakye kare dhanera uddeshe
aiche veda-purana jive `krishna' upadeshe
“Just as the words of the astrologer Sarvajna gave news of the poor man's treasure, Vedic literatures advise one about Krishna consciousness when one is inquisitive to know why he is in a distressed material condition.
sarvajnera vakye mula-dhana anubandha
sarva-shastre upadeshe, `shri-krishna'—sambandha
“By the words of the astrologer, the poor man's connection with the treasure was established. Similarly, Vedic literature advises us that our real connection is with Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
bapera dhana ache—jnane dhana nahi paya
tabe sarvajna kahe tare praptira upaya
“Although being assured of his father's treasure, the poor man cannot acquire this treasure by such knowledge alone. Therefore the astrologer had to inform him of the means whereby he could actually find the treasure.
ei sthane ache dhana—yadi dakshine khudibe
`bhimarula-barul' uthibe, dhana na paibe
“The astrologer said: The treasure is in this place, but if you dig toward the southern side, the wasps and drones will rise, and you will not get your treasure.
`pashcime' khudibe, taha `yaksha' eka haya
se vighna karibe,—dhane hata na padaya
“If you dig on the western side, there is a ghost who will create such a disturbance that your hands will not even touch the treasure.
`uttare' khudile ache krishna `ajagare'
dhana nahi pabe, khudite gilibe sabare
“If you dig on the northern side, there is a big black snake that will devour you if you attempt to dig up the treasure.
purva-dike tate mati alpa khudite
dhanera jhari padibeka tomara hatete
“However, if you dig up a small quantity of dirt on the eastern side, your hands will immediately touch the pot of treasure.
aiche shastra kahe,—karma, jnana, yoga tyaji'
`bhaktye' krishna vasha haya, bhaktye tanre bhaji
“Revealed scriptures conclude that one should give up fruitive activity, speculative knowledge, and the mystic yoga system and instead take to devotional service, by which Krishna can be fully satisfied.”
When a person who desires spiritual perfection hears the conclusions regarding the soul from the spiritual master, then his heart becomes pure and he proceeds towards the lotus feet of Krishna. Amnaya is the only authority regarding the goal of life. One should consider the other nine realities through this authority, and this understanding manifests in the pure heart on the strength of amnaya. This is called self-realization, and this is the basis of life's goal.
Regarding the first reality, the amnaya says the Supreme Brahman, Shri Hari, is the only worshipable Lord. His impersonal conception is called Brahman, which is nothing but His bodily effulgence. That Supreme Lord Hari in one of His expansions becomes the Supersoul or controller who creates, maintains, and destroys the universes. Lord Hari is none other than Krishna, the Supersoul is none other than Vishnu, and His bodily effulgence is none other than Brahman. By discussing the truth about the omni-potent Lord Hari, all one's doubts regarding the Supreme Lord are cleared. Until these doubts are cleared, one cultivates knowledge by discussing impersonal Brahman as opposite to material knowledge. Again, in order to understand the Supersoul, the expansion of the Lord, ashtanga-yoga is conceived. Only when one is freed from all doubts does he attain unflinching devotion to Krishna.
According to the knowledge of amnaya, the second reality is considered as follows: The Supreme Lord Hari is naturally full of inconceivable potencies. Through one of His potencies He is manifested as indistinct Brahman. This is His impersonal potency. Again, through His unlimited potencies, including Brahman and Paramatma, He manifests His supremacy as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although the impersonal and personal potencies are contained in Him, the personal potencies are predominant. As stated in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad:
parasya shaktir vividhaiva shruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
“His potencies are multifarious, and thus His deeds are automatically performed as a natural sequence.” The spiritual potencies known as sandhini, samvit, and hladini—the Lord's potencies of eternal existence, cognizance, and bliss—are known by the pure devotees.
About the third reality, the amnaya says that the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is full of spiritual rasas, or mellows. By the power of those rasas, both the spiritual and material worlds become maddened. That is the constitution of Lord Krishna. Therefore Lord Krishna has said: “I am the source of Brahman.” Due to the power of those supreme rasas there are unlimited varieties in both the spiritual and material worlds. The rasa in the spiritual world is pure; the rasa of this material world is His shadow. Yet by the Lord's inconceivable potency the unlimited rasas of the spiritual world have been manifested in the Vrindavana pastimes of this world. The pure spirit soul is eligible for spiritual rasa. To attain that supreme rasa is the living entity's dharma, or duty. A living entity attains that on the strength of his devotional service. Attaining the Supreme Brahman is dry, or devoid of rasa. That is never to be strived for. There is no manifestation of rasa in the realization of Paramatma. Only devotional service to Krishna is full of rasa.
While considering the fourth reality, the amnaya says that the living entities are minute particles of the spiritual sun, Krishna, and they are innumerable. As the spiritual world is manifested by Krishna's cit, or spiritual, potency and as the material world is manifested by the inferior illusory energy, the living entities are similarly manifested by a portion of the spiritual energy. Krishna's spiritual form has all qualities in full, and those qualities are naturally present in the living entities in minute quantity. The independent nature of Krishna is found insignificantly in the living entities. For this reason the living entities claim to be independent. As a result, all living entities have developed different propensities. By one propensity the living entity searches for his own happiness, and by another propensity he searches for Krishna's happiness. Thus living entities are divided into two groups—those searching for their own happiness and those searching for Krishna's happiness. Those who search for Krishna's happiness are called nitya-mukta, and those who search for their own happiness are called nitya-baddha. In this regard, all inconceivable natures are under the subordination of spiritual time. The time factor of the spiritual nature is a state of eternal present. But in the inferior illusory energy there are three states of existence—past, present, and future. So whatever considerations arise in this regard, if related with the spiritual time factor, then no doubts will remain; but if seen otherwise, then doubts will remain. Why did a pure spirit soul search for his own happiness? If one puts forward such a question, then doubts arising from the material time factor will manifest. If one can give up such doubts then he can perform devotional service, otherwise there will only be a series of arguments. If arguments are related to the inconceivable nature, then anarthas arise.
The teachings of amnaya regarding the fifth reality is this: The living entities who are searching for their own happiness accept Maya, who is situated nearby, and thus enjoy happiness and distress under the grip of material time. Karma is nothing but a blind wheel created by Maya. Those who have not contacted Maya have no connection with karma. The living entities who are searching for their own pleasure receive from the wheel of Maya gross and subtle bodies as a means to enjoy. This blind wheel is found in unlimited forms, but just as it was easy for a living entity to enter, it will be easy to leave at the time of liberation.
The living entities who are under the blind wheel of Maya are called nitya-baddha. In this regard, the word nitya is applied in regard to material time. When by the touch of spiritual substance the spiritual time factor is awakened, then their conditioned nature is seen as temporary. By the mercy of sadhus, mahajanas, and Krishna, and by the strength of many lifetimes of pious activities in devotional service, the conditioned soul achieves auspiciousness. As stated in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.45) and the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.51.53):
kona bhagye karo samsara kshayonmukha haya
sadhu-sange tabe krishne rati upajaya
bhavapavargo bhramato yada bhavej
janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samagamah
sat-sangamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau
paravareshe tvayi jayate ratih
“By good fortune, one becomes eligible to cross the ocean of nescience, and when one's term of material existence decreases, one may get an opportunity to associate with pure devotees. By such association, one's attraction to Krishna is awakened. O my Lord! O infallible Supreme Person! When a person wandering throughout the universes becomes eligible for liberation from material existence, he gets an opportunity to associate with devotees. When he associates with devotees, his attraction for You is awakened. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the highest goal of the supreme devotees and the Lord of the universe.” By the association of sadhus, material distress is vanquished; by the mercy of Krishna, one attains firm faith. Then by the strength of his devotional service and Krishna's mercy, a living entity cuts the bondage of Maya and attains Krishna's service. By the mercy of Krishna, the baddha-mukta-jivas (those who achieve freedom from bondage) easily attain salokya, the abode of Krishna, with those who have never entered into Maya because of searching for Krishna's happiness.
The conclusion of amnaya regarding the sixth reality is this: Lord Krishna and all other things are connected by a relationship of acintya bhedabheda, inconceivably simultaneously one and different. That is why the Vedas have many statements supporting oneness and many supporting difference. In the conclusions of those ignorant of the truth, only a portion of the Vedas are accepted. In the conclusions of the knowers of the truth, the purport of all the Vedas is accepted. Those who have a thirst for worshiping the Lord learn from the teachings of amnaya that Lord Krishna is all-pervading and one without a second. Shri Krishna is the Absolute Truth. That Absolute Truth possesses all energies. Although the living entities and the material world are manifested by His energies, still He remains without a second. The ingredients are constitutionally nondifferent from Krishna; but in the material creation, everything other than Krishna is a transformation of His energy and therefore eternally separate from Him. This eternal oneness and difference is naturally inconceivable because it is beyond the range of the living entity's material intelligence. When the living entity's spiritual intelligence is awakened, pure knowledge of the inconceivable oneness and difference is aroused. Keeping firm faith in the statements of amnaya, by the mercy of Krishna the devotees can clearly see the truth of the inconceivable oneness and difference. If we use material consideration to understand this, it becomes theoretical. When one achieves knowledge of these seven realities through self-realization by the strength of amnaya, then it may be said that one has sambandha-jnana, knowledge of one's relationship with the Lord. In reply to Shrila Sanatana Gosvami's questions, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has elaborately spoken on the science of one's relationship with the Lord. As given in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.102):
ke ami, kene amaya jare tapa-traya
iha nahi jani, kemane hita haya
“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited?” Those persons who want the greatest benefit, in the form of achieving devotion to Krishna, should all ask these questions to their spiritual master. By hearing the proper answers to these questions from the mouth of one's guru, all one's doubts will be cleared and firm faith will awaken. Do not give up deliberation as useless. As stated in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Adi 2.117):
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
iha ha-ite krishne lage sudridha manasa
“A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one's mind becomes attached to Shri Krishna.”
Now see, among ten realities, the first eight are related with the authority and one's relationship with the Lord. One will receive all information from Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's answer to Sanatana Gosvami.
Regarding authority, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's statement is given in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.124):
veda-shastra kahe—`sambandha' `abhidheya' `prayojana'
“The Vedic literatures give information about sambandha, the conditioned soul's relationship with Krishna, abhidheya, the regulated activities of the conditioned soul for reviving that relationship, and prayojana, the ultimate goal of life.”
Regarding the second basic truth, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.152, 155, 157):
krishnera svarupa-vicara shuna, sanatana
advaya-jnana-tattva, vraje vrajendra-nandana
svayam bhagavan krishna, `govinda' para nama
sarvaishvarya-purna yanra goloka—nitya-dhama
jnana, yoga, bhakti,—tina sadhanera vashe
brahma, atma, bhagavan—trividha prakashe
“O Sanatana, please hear about the eternal form of Lord Krishna. He is the Absolute Truth, devoid of duality, but present in Vrindavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja. The original Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krishna. His original name is Govinda. He is full of all opulences, and His eternal abode is known as Goloka Vrindavana. There are three kinds of spiritual processes for understanding the Absolute Truth—the processes of speculative knowledge, mystic yoga, and bhakti-yoga. According to these three processes, the Absolute Truth is manifested as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan.”
Regarding Krishna's energies, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has stated in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.111):
krishnera svabhavika tina-shakti-parinati
cic-chakti, jiva-shakti, ara maya-shakti
“Lord Krishna naturally has three energetic transformations, and these are known as the spiritual potency, the living entity potency, and the illusory potency.”
Krishna is full of rasa. As explained by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.153):
sarva-adi, sarva-amshi, kishora-shekhara
cid-ananda-deha, sarvashraya, sarveshvara
“Krishna is the original source of everything and the sum total of everything. He appears as the supreme youth, and His whole body is composed of spiritual bliss. He is the shelter of everything and master of everyone.”
The instruction of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu regarding the constitutional position of the living entity is given in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.108-109):
jivera `svarupa'—haya krishnera `nitya-dasa'
suryamsha-kirana, yaiche agni-jvala-caya
“The living entity's constitutional position is to be an eternal servant of Krishna. He is like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire.”
Regarding conditioned living entities, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gives the following description in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.10, 20.117):
sei vibhinnamsha jiva—dui ta' prakara
krishna bhuli' sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha
ataeva maya tare deya samsara-duhkha
“The living entities [jivas] are divided into two categories. Some are eternally liberated, and others are eternally conditioned. Forgetting Krishna, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore the illusory energy [maya] gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence.”
Concerning the liberated living entities, the Lord says in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.11):
`nitya-mukta'—nitya krishna-carane unmukha
`krishna-parishada' nama, bhunje seva-sukha
“Those who are eternally liberated are always awake to Krishna consciousness, and they render transcendental loving service at the feet of Lord Krishna. They are to be considered eternal associates of Krishna, and they are eternally enjoying the transcendental bliss of serving Krishna.”
Regarding simultaneous oneness and difference, the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.108) says:
krishnera `tatastha-shakti' bhedabheda-prakasha
“The living entity is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord.”
When the living entities' relationship with the Lord is revived by the association of amnaya, then abhidheya is understood. Devotional service to Shri Krishna is that abhidheya. The purport is that whatever the scriptures specify as one's prime duty is called abhidheya. In this regard Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.17-18):
krishna-bhakti haya abhidheya-pradhana
ei saba sadhanera ati tuccha bala
krishna-bhakti vina taha dite nare phala
“Devotional service to Krishna is the chief function of the living entity. There are different methods for the liberation of the conditioned soul—karma, jnana, yoga, and bhakti—but all are dependent on bhakti. But for devotional service, all other methods for spiritual self-realization are weak and insignificant. Unless one comes to the devotional service of Lord Krishna, jnana and yoga cannot give the desired results.”
Sadhana-bhakti is called abhidheya. That sadhana-bhakti is divided into two—vaidhi and raganuga. Vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti is of many varieties. In some places sixty-four limbs are given, and in some places nine limbs are given. The preaching of ninefold devotional service is given in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.5.23):
shravanam kirtanam vishnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam
“Prahlada Maharaja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one's best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind, and words) these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service.”
When a conditioned living entity engages in service at the lotus feet of Krishna with his mind, body, and words, that is called bhakti. The differences in bhakti from karma and jnana are very subtle. The limbs of bhakti and karma often appear similar. When those limbs are connected with separate desires, they turn into limbs of karma. When those limbs are connected with dry thoughts of Brahman, they turn into limbs of jnana. In some limbs, neither karma or jnana are involved. The fruits of action that lead one to the service of Krishna alone are called limbs of bhakti. The fruits of action that lead to one's own enjoyment are called karma. The activities that lead to merging with the Lord are called impersonal jnana. Therefore Shrila Rupa Gosvami has given the symptoms of bhakti in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.1.9) as follows:
anukulyena krishnanu- shilanam bhaktir uttama
“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Krishna favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.”
To perform the limbs of devotional service according to the dictation of vidhi, or prescribed rules, is called vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti. The service performed out of spontaneous attachment to Krishna is called raga-bhakti. The devotion of the Vrajavasis is called ragatmika, and imitation of their devotional service is called raganuga-bhakti. Vaidhi-bhakti starts from shraddha and proceeds up to rati, when it becomes one with raganuga-bhakti. Raganuga-bhakti is always forceful. This is the ninth principle.
According to the statements of amnaya, the tenth principle is that prema is the prayojana, or supreme goal. The stages from sadhana-bhakti up to the attainment of prema are described in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 23.9-13) by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as follows:
kona bhagye kona jivera `shraddha' yadi haya
tabe sei jiva `sadhu-sanga' ye karaya
“If, by good fortune, a living entity develops faith in Krishna, he begins to associate with devotees.
sadhu-sanga haite haya `shravana-kirtana'
sadhana-bhaktye haya `sarvanartha-nivartana'
“When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles and chanting and hearing.
anartha-nivritti haile bhaktye `nishtha' haya
nishtha haite shravanadye `ruci' upajaya
“When one is freed from all unwanted contamination, he advances with firm faith. When firm faith in devotional service awakens, a taste for hearing and chanting also awakens.
ruci haite bhaktye haya `asakti' pracura
asakti haite citte janme krishne prity-ankura
“After taste is awakened, a deep attachment arises, and from that attachment the seed of love for Krishna grows in the heart.
sei `bhava' gadha haile dhare `prema'-nama
sei prema—`prayojana' sarvananda-dhama
“When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life's ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure.”
Those who have doubts in these ten principle teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are not qualified for devotional service. When doubts arise, one's devotional service becomes corrupted, desires are polluted, unwanted results are achieved, and thus everything is ruined. Therefore those who have a desire for pure devotional service should perform devotional service with firm confidence.