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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Chaitanya Shikshamrita > Chapter-III

Chapter Three

Vaidhi Bhakti



Part One

General characteristics of  Vaidhi Bhakti



Those principles of religion which arise from the rules of scripture are divided into two types: mundane and spiritual.  The rules for artha dharma  and kama are mundane dharma.  Those rules are for well-being of body, mind, society, morality and afterlife on svarga loka, which is temporary.  After enjoying the happiness of svarga one must return to the earth planet. The varnasrama system described previously is also mundane. 1  Dharma, artha and kama come in cyclic progression, and the soul never gets release from following those rules.  The  goal of those rules is material acquisition, and thus they are all called mundane or material.2  Whatever results  are obtained by doing those activities are material.  Those material results lead to more action, which lead to more material results.  The result after which there is no more chain of action is called spiritual or apavarga.   Material religion may be either polytheistic  or monotheistic.   An example will illustrate the chain of action and result.


Marriage is an action; its goal is children, who should perform action, in the form of  offering rites when the parents die. When this goal is achieved and turns to action of offering the pindas, the goal is to satisfy the pitras. The satisfaction of the pitras leads to the satisfaction of the children.  The children then perform more actions, which give more results, which leads to more actions.   The results of all theses actions is temporary. Therefore the happiness of begetting children and even the peace arising from liberation and the bliss of brahman are all within the chain of material action and material result.      When the bliss of brahman matures to bliss of service to the Supreme Lord, the material chain ends and the final result is achieved in the form of spiritual life.  Thus apavarga has two meanings: liberation and devotion.   When a person attains liberation from material bondage he attains the eternal dharma of bhakti, devotion.


As long as dharma aims at material goals, it is called material dharma or material religion. It is also called morality or smarta dharma.   When dharma aims at spiritual goals, it is called spiritual dharma or spiritual religion. When it follows the rules of scripture it is called sadhana bhakti.  The so-called worship of the Lord observed in smarta dharma (sandhya rites, deity worship, sacrifice, and prayers) is not on the spiritual  level, because all those daily and occasional actions of worship simply result in  nourishing  the worshipper's material tendency or improving the social environment.  Such worship can be clssed as karma because the end result is material.  For those following material dharma,  worship of the Lord is only one rule amongst many.  It is not the eternal loyalty to the Lord which is found in real spiritual dharma.  Those actions which aim at the well being of body, mind and society are called naitika or moralistic.  Though actually not accepting the Lord as real, the followers of material dharma accept worship of the Lord on the naitika level, as a means of purification.  Even  Compte, an avoided atheist, accepted worship of the Lord as a means of purification of mind. On the path of mundane faith, all worship of the Lord is of this type.  The arrangements for mediating on forms of the Lord found in yoga scriptures is also of this type.  But the  prescriptions for devotion service according to rules (vaidhi bhakti) found in the devotional literatures is purely spiritual religion or apavarga dharma.


On deeply analyzing the matter, it will be found that there is  great conceptual difference between the rules of material dharma (smarta or naitika) with motivated worship, and the rules of spiritual dharma which advocate constant dedication to the Lord.  This difference is not a difference in activity or ritual,  but rather a difference in consciousness. The faithless moralists and smartas, taking ethical principles as the highest goal, limit religious life to fulfilment of dharma, artha  and kama, whereas the devotees of vaidha bhakti increase the limits of dharma, artha and kama by linking them to spiritual, totally non-material goals.  Thus the mundane, moralistic dharma is included within the spiritual dharma. When naitika dharma develops and becomes complete,  it becomes spiritual dharma.3  With the addition of dedication to the Lord to the mundane dharma, it blossoms and becomes spiritual dharma. 


Though a person situated in the world  may accept  spiritual dharma, he does not give up the rules of mundane dharma, for the rules of varnasrama  still assist him in supporting his body, mind and social environment.  Being comfortable as a result of proper body, mind and surroundings,  he is able to attain the eternal bliss of worshipping the Lord. The mundane dharma is called karma kanda and the spiritual dharma is called sadhana bhakti. It is apparent that the secondary rules of karma are one division of scripture and the principal rules of bhakti are another division. 


There are two processes in attaining devotion:  the gradual  process and the sudden process.  In the Chaitanya Charitamrita the Lord described to Shri Rupa Goswami the gradually path.


The unlimited living entities can be divided into two divisions---those that can move and those that cannot move.  Among living entities that can move, there are birds, aquatics and animals.  Although the living entities known as human beings are very small in quantity, that division may be still further subdivided, for there are many uncultured human beings like mlecchas, pulindas, bauddhas and sabaras.  Among human beings, those who are folllowers of the Vedic principles are considired civilized.  Among these, almost half simply give lip service while committing all kinds of sinful activities against these principles.  Such people do not care for the regulative principles.  Among the followers of Vedic knowledge, most are following the process of fruitive activity and distinguishing between good and bad work.  Out of many siuch sincere frutive actors, there may be one who is actually wise.  Out of many million so such wise men, one may actually become liberated and out of many millions of such liberated persons, a pure devotee of Lord Krishna is very difficult to find.   Because a devotee of Lord Krishna is desreless, he is peaceful.  Fruitive workers desire material enjoyment, jnanis desire liberation, and yogi desire material opulence; therefore they are all lusty and cannot be peaceful.

                                                          C.C.Madhya 19.144-149



The trees and other motionless entities have covered consciousness.  Reptiles, aquatics and other animals have restricted consciousness.   The primitive people and civilized people with arts and sciences, but no varnasrama dharma, are devoid of moral principles.   Buddhist and other atheistic  groups have only moral culture.  Those who accept the Vedas but do not practice strictly have morals with a material conception of God.    Those who actually practice dharma have  belief in God conditioned by moral culture.  Amongst those some  people discover the real truth, and amongst those, a few obtain liberation from material consciousness.  Amongst those,  a few attain devotion to the Lord.


Those who accept material results, liberation, and powers of yoga attain no real peace. Only the devotee is peaceful.   Thus the human being may progress from uncivilized to civilized, to ethical, to theistic dharma. Not being distracted by those results--material enjoyment, liberation and powers of yoga--a person then  progresses to devotional life. This is the process of gradual progress for the soul.  This is the prescription of all scriptures and  the path which will give certain results. 


Mahaprabhu described to Sanatana Goswami as follows:


          There are unlimited conditioned souls who are bereft of Lord Krishna's service.  Not knowing how to cross the ocean of necsience, they are scattered by waves, time and tide.  However, some are fortunate to contact devotees, and by this contact they are delivered from the ocean of nescience, just as a log, floating down a river, accidentally washes upon the bank.

                                                                             C.C.Madhya 22.43


The sudden process is caused by the mercy of Krishna, the mercy of a devotee and destruction of obstacles created to previous practice.  Where the sudden process operates, it supersedes the gradual process. Krishna,  the creator of all rules, is the cause of this. It cannot be accommodated by reasoning power. The  logical contradiction between rule and mercy, which surpasses human intellect, can be reconciled within the Lord, within whom all opposites  coexist harmoniously.  


Thus by the mercy of Narada, the lawless hunter attained devotional life without having to  take up a civilized life and basic moral principles.  By the mercy of Rama, Sabari,   a tribal, attained a high state of devotion. Such persons did not have to practice the many intervening stages of life. 4   It should be understood that when a person attains devotional life, all the good qualities of moral and civilized life automatically appear as the ornaments of his life. But as this sudden  process is rare and unpredictable, one should not rely upon it, but rather take shelter of the gradual process.  If the sudden process happens to appear, all the better.  


On the path of gradual development the person must  take care to elevate himself to a higher level, no matter  on which level he is situated. By good fortune it is the nature of the soul that gradually it elevates itself, but there are  obstacles  such that the soul may fail to reach the goal. Thus those who desire to reach a higher standard must always be conscious of  that fact. In progressing from one level of life to another two things should be  considered.  A person should be firmly fixed in his present position in order to take a firm step forward. Then, in order to advance to a higher level, when one foot gives up the previous place, that foot must fix itself firmly in the higher place  before the other foot can raise itself to the same level. Simultaneously,  the person must give up the lower level and establish himself firmly in the higher level.  If he moves too quickly, he will fall.  If he moves too slowly, the results will also come slowly.  By progressing from tribal life, civilized life, moral life, moral life with materially conceived God, moral life with acceptance of God, to devotional life in practice (sadhana bhakti), step by step, the living entity can achieve the highest end, prema.  If he hurries too quickly to progres to one step, he will fall to the lower step.  If he delays too long on one step, he will become lazy and block his own progress. Understanding that both excessively quick or slow movement is an obstacle, a person should elevate himself gradually by fixing himself firmly on one level, and then giving it up when he has attained firmness in the next higher level.  


Some people lament that they have not attained devotion to Krishna but at the same time they do not make any real attempt to raise themselves to the level of Krishna bhakti. They remain bound to one of the levels without due cause, and do not make any attempt to progress (niyamagraha).5 If a person stops at one step how can he expect to  progress to the top?   Many  devotees on the level of vaidhi bhakti make no attempt to progress to bhava bhakti, and lament that they have not attained bhava.   Many people remain attached to the rules of varnasrama and are indifferent to bhava and prema. This is an obstacle to their own advancement. 


Those who are fortunate to receive the teachings of Lord Chaitanya, however, can progress very quickly.   In a short lifespan a person can easily progress from varnasrama  to the highest level of prema.6 Those who have  taken shelter of the rules of gradual development do not have to wait for another birth to elevate themselves.  However, those who act like dead fish and simply float on the currents of  fate in the ocean of material existence,  advancing and retreating with the ebb and flow of the tide, can hardly attain the desired goal.


The general characteristic of either gradual or sudden devotion is found in vaidhi bhakti:   it is favorable cultivation of Krishna, with no desire other than the desire to nourish devotion itself,  and it is uncontaminated by jnana or karma.7  Cultivation of Krishna is the essential part of bhakti. The cultivation of God can be found  in karma marga but it is a secondary part of morality.  It is not devotion, because moral conduct is the master and worship of God is but a servant  of morality.   On the path of jnana, there is cultivation of pure knowledge of Brahman. There, knowledge is the master and worship of God is the servant.  That also is not bhakti.  In bhakti, God is the only object of cultivation.8  This cultivation of the Lord must always be in a favorable mood. Though cultivation or absorption can also be unfavorable, that is not bhakti.  One can cultivate bhakti favorably by making ones life favorable to bhakti. While existing  in this material  body, performing actions related to the bodily needs (karma) and making distinctions of material and non-material  (jnana) are unavoidable, but where that karma and jnana cover the cultivation of bhakti, bhakti no longer exists.  Where dedication to the Lord dominates karma and jnana, bhakti may be said to exist. 


Those following vaidhi bhakti should think of dedication to the Lord as their principle work in life. It is a cultivation performed , not from fear or hatred, but with affection and love.  That is the meaning of favorable.    Though it is necessary to maintain the body  by following the rules of varnasrama, the devotee never allows those rules to overpower his  devotion of the Lord.  Those rules  always remain as followers of the cultivation of the Lord.  Whatever knowledge is necessary for realizing the soul beyond the material realm of experience, it always remains as the servant of devotional cultivation, and never supersedes the position of devotion.  All actions and all knowledge are for the advancement of bhakti alone. This is how the devotee of vaidhi bhakti lives his life. 


1 Until his pious results are used up, the performer of sacrifice enjoys life in the heavenly planets. When the pious results are exhausted, however, he falls down from the pleasure gardens of, being moved against his desire by the force of eternal time. S.B.11.10.26

2 One who desires to be absorbed in the impersonal brahmajyoti effulgence should worship the master of the Vedas, one who desires powerful sex should worship the heavenly king, Indra, and one who desires good progeny should worship the great progenitors called the Prajapatis.  One who desires good fortune should worship Durgadevi, the superintendent of the material world.  One desiring to be very powerful should worship fire, and one who aspires only after money should worship the Vasus.  One should worship the Rudra incarnations of Lord Siva if he wants to be a great hero. S.B.2.3.2-5

A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead. All the different kind of worshipers of multidemigods can attain the highest perfectional benediction, which is spontaneous attraction unflinchingly fixed upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by the association of the pure devotee of the Lord. S.B.2.3.10-11

In such a degraded body, he unfortunately continues to perform inauspicious activities that greatly increase his future unhappiness, and therefore he again accepts a similar material body.  What possible happiness can there be for one who engages in activities inevitably terminating in death?  In all the planetary systems, from the heavenly to the hellish, and all of the great demigods who live for one thousand yuga cycles, there is fear of Me in My form of time.  Even Brahma, who possesses the supreme life span of 311,040,000,000,000 years, is also afraid of Me.  S.B.11.10-.29-30

3 O best among the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve by discharging the duties prescribed for one's own occupation according to caste divisions and orders of life is to please the Personality of Godhead. S.B.1.2.13

4 In every yuga many living entities entangled in the modes of passion and ignorance gained the association of My devotees.  Thus, such living entities as the Daityas, Raksasas, birds, beasts, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Nagas, Siddhas, Caranas, Guhyakas and Vidyadharas, as well as such lower-class human beings as the vaisyas, sudras, women and others, were able to achieve My supreme abode.  Vrtrasura, Prahlada Maharaja and others like them also achieved my abode by association with My devotees, as did personalities such as Vrsaparva, Bali Maharaja, Banasura, Maya, Vibhisana, Sugriva, Hanuman, Jambavan, Gajendra, Jatayu, Tuladhara, Dharma-vyadha, Kubja, the gopis in Vrndavana and the wives of the brahmanas who were performing sacrifice.  These persons I have mentioned did not undergo serious studies of the Vedic literature, nor did they worship great saintly persons, nor did they execute severe vows or austerities.  Simply by association with Me and My devotees, they achieved Me.  S.B.11.12.3-7

5 Upadesamrta 3

6 O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth--women, vaisyas and sudras--can attain the supreme destination. How much more this is so of the righteous brahmanas, the devotees and the saintly kings.  Therefore, having come to this temporary, miserable world, engage in loving service unto Me.  B.G.9.32-33

7 When first-class devotional service develops, one must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, anhd fruitive action.  The devotee must constantly serve Krishna favorably, as Krishna desires. B.S.1.1.11

8 The senses are symbolic representations of the demigods, and their natural inclination is to work under the direction of the Vedic injunctions.  As the senses are representatives of the demigods, so the mind is the representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The mind's natural duty is to serve.  When that service spirit is engaged in devotional service to the Personality of Godhead, without any motive, that is far better than salvation S.B.3.25.32


The manifestation of unadulterated devotional service is exhibited when one's mind is at once attracted to hearing the transcendental name and qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is residing in everyone's heart.  Just as the water of the Ganges flows naturally down towards the ocean, such devotional ecstasy, uninterrupted by any material condition, flows towards the Supreme Lord. S.B.3.29.11-12




Part Two

The rules for Cultivating Bhakti


Following the rules of bhakti to attract the heart to the lotus feet of Krishna while simultaneously maintaining the body through the rules of varnasrama is called bhakti yoga.1  The cultivation of the Lord is essential in this process.  There are five types of cultivation: with body, mind, soul, matter and society.


There are seven types of bodily cultivation using the external senses:2 hearing, chanting, smelling, seeing, touching, tasting and moving limbs.   Cultivation through hearing may be hearing scriptures, the name of the Lord or songs about the Lord, and lectures about the Lord.  Hearing scriptures consists of hearing topics on the philosophical status of the Lord, descriptions of the Lord's activities, stories of the lives of devotees, and puranic histories of the devotees' dynastes.  Those works written by devotees of the Lord should be heard with the proper conclusion; those which present non-devotional conclusions should be avoided. The conclusion of all scriptures is devotion to the Lord.   Understanding scriptures takes place through a sixfold process: upakrama, upasamhara, abhyasa, apurvata, phala, arthavada and upapatti.  Through this process, one can arrive at the conclusion that  devotion to the Lord  is the import of all scriptures.


The devotee will listen to those songs which cultivate devotion by description of the Lord's pastimes, rather than those songs which are merely for satisfying the senses.  He should strictly avoid those songs which increase material attachment of the mind. Prayers and instrumental music should be heard while offering service to the Lord. 


Cultivation through chanting is extremely powerful.  There are five types of  chanting: recitation of scripture, recitation of the Lord's names and pastimes, recitation of verses, submissive offerings and japa.  Recitation of the Lord's names and pastimes  may be done by song, narration, lecture or class.  Submissive offerings are of three types: prayer, admission of lowliness and longing.  Japa refers to soft chanting of mantra.


Cultivation of bhakti by using the sense of smell  is performed by smelling flowers, tulasi, sandalwood, incense, garlands, and camphor which have been offered to the Lord.  Smelling those items which have not been offered to the Lord only increase material sense attachment, and therefore must be avoided.


Cultivation of sight is performed by  seeing the deity,  the devotees, the holy places, the temple, dramatic performances and pictures depicting the Lord.  The sense of sight focusing on material forms  can throw a person into the well of material life and thus seeing material forms must be avoided. Whatever a person sees in the world, he must relate it to the Lord.


The devotee should become detached from sensation of touch related to external objects, and take joy at touching the form of the Lord.  He can get satisfaction by touching and embracing the devotees.  The sense of touch is very powerful, leading to sins such as illicit sexual activities. The devotee must vow that under no circumstances  to touch anyone except devotees.  Touch does not refer to bodily contact as such but to bodily contact which produces  sense pleasure in the heart. This principle should be applied not only the touch but to all senses.


The devotee can engage the tongue in tasting food offered to the Lord and taking the water used to wash the feet of the Lord.  The devotee does not eat anything except prasadam from the Lord.  By tasting material foods, material conviction gradually becomes stronger.  Remnants of the Lord and of the devotee may be eaten; both nourish bhakti.


Moving the limbs refers to dancing, paying respects, rising  in respect, following after the deity or devotee, going to the temple, parikrama, serving guru and vaishnava, worshipping the Lord, bathing in holy water, putting on Vaishnava markings and putting the Lord's name on the body.  The Vaishnava should pay respects by lowering eight parts of his body.  When seeing the deity or the devotee approach, the devotee should rise to his feet.  When the devotee or deity moves, the devotee should follow behind.   The devotee uses his legs to go to the temple, the holy places and the devotees' houses. Worship refers to offering items to the deity. The devotee should bathe in the water of the Ganga and Yamuna,  put on tilaka according to the directions of the guru, and decorate his body with the names of the Lord. 


In this manner the devotee on the path of vaidhi bhakti must cultivate devotion to the Lord by engaging the body.  As the conditioned soul is bound by a body, and must perform  some necessary activities of the body, he should do them in such a way that he does not become materially affected.   By mixing all those activities with devotion to the Lord, he is able to cultivate his relationship with the Lord.


In all the activities concerning the body, the mind is also acting.  However the mind also has ability to act when the body is not.  These are the activities referred to as mental cultivation, to distinguish them from bodily cultivation. The activities of the mind are memory, thought, conscience, emotion, inquiry and gathering of knowledge.   By these functions, five types of devotional cultivation take place: remembrance, meditation,3 surrender, servitude, and inquiry.


Memory is of two types: remembering the names of the Lord and remembrance of mantras of  the Lord.   Counting japa on tulasi mala is the first type. Repeating mantras using the fingers to count is remembrance of mantras.  The difference between remembrance and meditation is that in remembrance the appearance of the Lord's name, mantra, form, qualities and pastimes occurs to a slight degree, whereas in meditation the form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord are clearly conceived.  When meditation continues for a long time it is called dharana, and when it is deep it is called nididhyasana.   Meditation encompasses both these practices.


Surrendering to the Lord while giving up all other interests is a type of bhakti.  Those on the level of vaidhi do not have such qualification, but to be convinced that the Lord is the only shelter is prescribed for them.   This is called saranapatti.4  Such devotees do not have aspiration for karma or jnana.  Servitude refers to understanding that one is the servant of the lord.5 This is a mental attitude. Those on the level of  vaidhi bhakti  cannot however taste completely the servitude which is included in the five major rasas. 


Inquiry is an important   activity for the devotees. When inquiry about the Lord arises, a person surrenders to a guru,  takes initiation and then takes instruction on how to worship the Lord.  How can the conditioned souls attain the ultimate good if they do not make inquiry about the truth?  Asking about the real actions of the soul (sad-dharma prccha) is an important limb of devotion mentioned in the devotional scriptures.


Cultivation of bhakti using the soul is of six types: friendship, surrender, making full efforts for the Lord, acceptance only of material necessities, rejecting personal pleasure, and following the path of the previous devotees.   The soul of the person performing vaidhi bhakti is not liberated, but rather conditioned.  The pure soul is free of false ego.  The vaidhi bhakta is attempting to become free from the material world, and though  the bondage is somewhat loosened, traces of false ego remain.  In such a state the devotee may still cultivates  feelings involving the soul.  First, the devotee thinks of the Lord as a dear friend.  This feeling is however different from the sakhya rasa, being but a seed of the later manifestation.  The devotee, thinking of himself as soul,  also offers everything to the lotus feet of the Lord.   Thinking that he will offer all his possession he has to the Lord, he does not care about his own protection.  All his efforts, whether of body or mind, he attempts to dedicate to the Lord.   He understands that  his wife, children, house, animals, wealth, possessions, body and mind are all meant fort the service of the Lord.  Everything is the Lord's and he accepts only what is necessary as the Lord's mercy in order to make him more qualified for the Lord's service; all other things are unnecessary.  He is willing to sacrifice his enjoyment  for the Lord, and he finds out the correct process ascertained by the previous devotees and follows that to the best of his ability.  


However, the devotee is not fully satisfied with cultivating devotion with body mind and soul, because he sees around him the material world as well.  He sees his body, and within the body the mind and soul, as a small part of the universe, and thinks that the world should also be used to cultivate devotion to the Lord. Infinite time6 and space7 and all the material forms may be used as ingredients for the worship of the Lord.  Thinking  in this way he uses place, time and matter in the cultivation of the Lord.  Cultivation involving the material world is of three types: cultivation using place, time and matter.  Concerning place, the devotee may go to holy places (tirthas), to temples and to devotees' houses.  Dvaraka, Puri, Kanci, Mathura mandala, Navadvipa are examples of tirthas.  Having heard about the Lord's pastimes in those places, and becoming filled with faith, the devotees goes to the tirthas or resides there.  With faith he takes bath in the waters of  the Ganga  or Yamuna, which have washed the Lord's feet. The devotees goes to those places where the forms of the Lord are worshipped.  The  devotee should always take shelter of the houses and  villages of the great devotees.  He visits the birthplaces and residences of the associates of Lord Chaitanya with faith.  By visiting or residing in these places  and hearing  constantly topics about the Lord and his devotees, attraction for Krishna will arise.


Time should also be used to cultivate service to the Lord. After working in the material world for two weeks,  a person must cultivate the Lord by giving up eating and sleeping on the ekadashi.  The devotee should also observe the vows during Damodara month, and observe the festivals commemorating the Lord's pastimes. He should also observe the significant days in the lives of great devotees.


There are many ways of engaging matter in the service of the Lord. Thus  certain trees such as asvattha, dhatri and tulasi are used to serve the Lord.  The images of the Lord are material objects, but the devotee must worship them as non-different from the Lord, whose identical image resides in the heart of the pure devotee. Among mountains, the devotee may worship Govardhana, among rivers he may worship Ganga and Yamuna; among animals he may worship the cow and calf.  Whatever is suitable for bodies in this world is also  fit to offer to the Lord.  Thus there are rules for offering bed, cloth, scents, sandalwood and utensils to the deity.  If the devotee offers his favorite object to the Lord, his service becomes first  class.  The deities are of eight types.8


The devotee is happy that he can engage his body, mind, soul, place, time and matter in the service of he Lord, but something is lacking still.  If he can engage other people or society  in the Lord's service he will be happy.9  Thus  there are rules for cultivation of devotion utilizing social tendencies:  festive gatherings of devotees, keeping proper standards of the vaishnavas, raising a vaishnava family, and spreading vaishnava dharma to all souls.


The devotees should have festivals where they can live together, take prasada together, listen to topics about the Lord and sing the Lord's name together.  Those amongst the devotees who are knowledgeable about madhura rasa can relish the meaning of the literatures such as Bhagavatam, which contain topics of rasa.


Two things should be understood about devotee association, in order that vaishnava offenses are not committed.  Shri Chaitanya has given  warning in this regard.  The devotee should give up the association of the devotee pretender, understand him to be a materialist.10  Towards those who are sincere, the devotee should offer service and respect.   Meeting a true vaishnava, the devotee should associate with him and serve him with his heart; to the ordinary vaishnava-inclined people he should show respect.  This respect is an external service.     


These vaishnava-like people are of three types: those who fully accept the Vaishnava conclusions but are not practicing themselves; those who take up the vaishnava signs and appearance, but are not real vaishnavas, though they have respect for the vaishnavas; those who are born in the families of great  vaishnavas, and wear the signs of a vaishnava  but are not real vaishnavas.


A true vaishnava is measured by the degree of purity and depth of his devotion and his capacity to inspire others.  A person attains  the status of a real vaishnava as soon as a little pure devotion appears in his heart. If a person respects and takes association of the non-vaishnava in the way that he respects the true vaishnava or the ordinary vaishnava, his devotion will decrease.11  Thus amongst those who wear the vaishnava marks and appear to be vaishnavas, certain ones should be avoided. These people should be satisfied with the respect due to all human beings  which is part of the secondary rules, but they should not be accepted or respected as real vaishnavas.  If they happen to become pure devotees, then they are also qualified for association with other pure devotees. 


False vaishnavas are those who wear the vaishnava marks for cheating; those who identify themselves as followers of the vaishnava acaryas, for the purpose of introducing advaita philosophy to the vaishnavas; and those who advertise themselves as vaishnavas to gain money, position or some other material enjoyment.  One should not discuss topics of rasa with anyone except  highly qualified persons on the same level of spiritual advancement.12


In producing a vaishnava population the devotee should only associate with vaishnavas.  The wife should be initiated and if possible taught the vaishnava philosophy.  By great fortune a person gets a vaishnava wife.  By producing vaishnava population with a vaishnava wife, materialism cannot exist.  The children should be understood to be servants of the Lord. The parents should feel satisfaction by increasing the vaishnava population.  The difference between the materialistic and devotional family is a difference, not of external form, but of consciousness.  The materialist also gets married, earns money, builds a house, and produces offspring, but his goal is to increase the happiness of the world or his own individual happiness. Though the vaishnava performs the same activities, he does not claim the results as his own, but acts as a servant of the Lord.  The vaishnava obtains satisfaction and peace, but the materialist, under the control of desire or anger bred from high aspirations and expectation of enjoyment or freedom,  becomes disturbed.  The vaishnava progresses in his practice by the conviction that devotional cultivation will increase through raising a devotee family.   


As showing compassion to all living entities is the ornament of the devotee, the devotees devise various means of transforming the living entities into vaishnavas.  According to the object, there are four types of relationship the devotee may have with others.  Towards the Lord he shows prema; towards pure devotees he shows true friendship; towards immature devotees and ignorant people he shows mercy.13 The devotee distributes unlimited mercy  to those who have developed qualification for bhakti through good association. He gives them spiritual instruction and delivers them through his diffusion of his special energy. The devotee avoids those unfortunate people who, due to some type of incomplete reasoning, refuse to admit the principle of  elevation of the soul.


1 A sincere disciple should learn to dissociate the mind from everything material and positively cultivate association with his spiritual master and other saintly devotees. He should be merciful to those in an inferior position to him, cultivate friendship with those on a equal level and meekly serve those in a higher spiritual position.  Thus he should learn to deal properly with all living beings. To serve the spiritual master the disciple should learn cleanliness, austerity, tolerance, silence, study of Vedic knowledge, simplicity, celibacy, nonviolence and equanimity in the face of material dualities such as heat and cold, happiness and distress. One should practice meditation by constantly seeing oneself to be an eternal cognizant spirit soul and seeing the Lord to be the absolute controller of everything. To increase one's meditation, one should live in a secluded place and give up false attachment to one's home and household paraphernalia.  Giving up the decorations of the temporary material body, one should dress himself with scraps of cloth found in rejected places, or with the bark of trees.  In this way one should learn to be satisfied in any material situation. One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan.  At the same time, one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures.  One should rigidly control his mind, speech and bodily activities, always speak the truth, and bring the mind and senses under full control. One should hear, glorify and meditate upon the wonderful transcendental activities of the Lord.  One should specifically become absorbed in the appearance, activities, qualities and holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  Thus inspired, one should perform all of one's daily activities as an offering to the Lord.  One should perform sacrifice, charity and penance exclusively for the Lord's satisfaction.  Similarly, one should chant only those mantras which glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  And all one's religious activities should be performed as an offering to the Lord.  Whatever one finds pleasing or enjoyable he should immediately offer to the Supreme Lord, and even his wife, children, home and very life air he should offer at the feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. S.B.11.3.23-28

2 Firm faith in the blissful narrations of My pastimes, constant chanting of My glories, unwavering attachment to ceremonial worship of Me, praising Me through beautiful hymns, great respect for My devotional service, offering obeisances with the entire body, performing first-class worship of My devotees, consciousness of Me in all living entities, offering of ordinary, bodily activities in My devotional service, use of words to describe My qualities, offering the mind to Me, rejection of all material desires, giving up wealth for My devotional service, renouncing material sense gratification and happiness, and performing all desirable activities such as charity, sacrifice, chanting, vows and austerities with the purpose of achieving Me--these constitute actual religious principles, by which those human beings who have actually surrendered themselves to Me automatically develop love for Me. What other purpose or goal could remain for My devotee?  S.B.11.19.20-24

3 Those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Prtha--for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death. B.G.12.6-7  

4 Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.  I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions.  Do not fear. B.G.18.66

5 Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me.  Thus you will come to Me without fail.  I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. B.G.18.65

6 All of these seasonal times are considered extremely auspicious for humanity.  At such times, one should perform all auspicious activities, for by such activities a human being attains success in his short duration of life. S.B.7.14.24

7 Now I shall describe the places where religious performances may be well executed.  Any place where a Vaishnava is available is an excellent place for all auspicious activities. S.B.7.14.27

8 The deity form of the Lord is said to appear in eight varieties--stone, wood, metal, earth, paint, sand, the mind or jewels. S.B.11.27.12

9 One who desires his ultimate self-interest should cultivate friendship with those persons who have accepted Krishna as the Lord of their life.  One should further develop an attitude of service toward all living beings.  One should especially try to help those in the human form of life and, among them, especially those who accept the principles of religious behavior.  Among religious persons. One should especially render service to the pure devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  S.B.11.3.29

10 An intelligent person should therefore reject all bad association and instead take up the association of saintly devotees, whose words cut off the excessive attachment of one's mind. S.B.11.26.26

11 One should mentally honor the devotee  who chants the holy name of Lord Krishna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation and is engaged in worshipping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.  Upadesamrta 5

12 One develops qualities similar to the those with whom one associates, like a jewel picking up colors according to its surroundings. The wise man will therefore take shelter of those of superior qualitiy in order to raise his own qualities.  Hari Bhakti Sudhodoya 8.51

13 An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama adhikari, offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent and disregards those who are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. S.B.11.2.46




Part Three

Avoiding  obstacles in devotional service


The practitioner of vaidhi bhakti must perform all the five types of cultivation explained in the previous section. In performing these activities there are certain forbidden actions which create obstacles for his progress.  These must be avoided. 


There are ten types of forbidden activity:1 association with materialists,2 solicitation, attempting huge projects, spending  time studying different works and various philosophies, meanness,3 subjection to lamentation,4 disrespect to devatas,5 giving trouble to other living entities, seva and nama aparadha, and tolerating criticism of the Lord and his devotee.  


Materialists are of six types: people devoid of faith in the Lord and without moral standards; people with morals but no faith in God; people with morals and faith in God, but whose concept of God is subservient to morality; pretenders;6 impersonalists; polytheists.


Those who have no respect for God or morality engage in sinful activities. Without  moral conduct they simply do whatever they wish.  Such people, for sense pleasure and  personal gain, create havoc in the world.  Those who accept morality but do not accept God argue that moral conduct should be followed out of duty, without fear of God. They forget that faith  in God is a significant element in moral conduct.  It will be seen however, that if there is no respect for God, the moral codes cannot be followed properly. Will not such   people sacrifice moral conduct for their own benefit if an opportunity arises?  By examining their character one can discover the impractical nature of their philosophy.    Where self-interest arises, the moral codes will be violated.  


The third level of people have belief in God, but that belief is subservient to their morality.  They are of two types. One type maintains that worship of God is important, but do not believe in His actual existence.   They  believe there is no harm in imagining a God and worshipping him with faith, and  then abandoning the worship when good conduct is achieved.  The second type  believes that by performing activities of worship of the Lord  such as sandhya vandana, the heart will become purified  and   brahman  realization will be achieved.  At that point there are no more duties to anyone. This relationship with God is like a temporary meeting of travelers at an inn.  Both these types are averse to devotion.


The fourth type, also adverse to devotion, is the pretender. They may be classified as cheaters and cheated.  Though they do not accept the eternal nature of bhakti, they wear the dress and markings of a believer.  They have their own motives, which any honest person would decry. Cheating everyone, they pave the way for a world of sin. Undiscerning people, allured by their external appearance, take up the same path, and end up rejecting God.  They have beautiful tilaka and dress, chant the name of Krishna, appear detached from the world and give attractive speeches,  bit secretly they  harbor desire for wealth and women. Many such groups are visible. 


The fifth type is the impersonalist. According to these people, when the heart becomes purified by bhakti, the truth will be revealed.  The highest truth is liberation, destruction of the soul.  As the  distinction of soul is destroyed, everything becomes one undifferentiated state.  Bhakti and God are temporary.  Acting as the servant of  Lord is a only a practice, not the goal.  If the devotee does not avoid them, his faith in the ontology of bhakti will become  weak.


Those who accept many gods have no dedication to one.  By association with such people the devotee will also lose his faith in bhakti.7  The devotee must avoid the association of these six types of people.  Association does not refer to being present in the same meeting, riding in the same boat, bathing at the same place in the river or buying goods in the same store.  Association  means dealing with them in an intimate mood.8 That type of association has to be avoided.


Unhealthy relationship is also forbidden for the vaidha bhakta. There are four types of unhealthy relations: with disciples, with associates, with servants and with friends.  By taking unqualified people as disciples for wealth and power, great disturbance is created in the sampradaya.  The vaishnava will not initiate disciples if there are no qualified persons.  By taking association of those who are not devotees, many types of sinful habits will appear. Therefore such association should be given up.   It is not beneficial to take servants  unless  they are devotees.  In making friendship as well the devotee should first consider if that person is a vaishnava.


The devotee should give up enthusiasm for big endeavors in three situations.  If the person has no  funds in the beginning he should not attempt the work.  If his life is nearly  finished he should not start a big project.  If the work requires a lot of manpower and he has no way of getting assistance, then he should not attempt the work.  Such things create an obstacle in devotion. If huge projects for temple, hall , or asrama are difficult to execute, then they should not be considered.


The devotees should learn the scriptures concerning devotion and those works which conform to the conclusions, but for lack of time, to read small parts of large works and then leave them should not be done. The devotee should read a work thoroughly, otherwise he will become uselessly opinionated, a professional debater.   There are some people who take pleasure in arguing with any statement they hear, whether good or bad.  This is forbidden for the devotee.


Miserliness is very contaminating for the devotee. There is miserliness of  behavior, of wealth, and of effort.  With the vaishnava, the devotee should stand up when he approaches and care for him attentively.  He should give general respect and gifts to the brahmanas. He should properly clothe and shelter his dependents. He  should take items from others for a suitable price.  He should pay taxes to the king. He should show gratitude to benefactors, give food to the poor, medicine to the sick, and cloth to those suffering from cold weather.   If he treats anyone in the world properly, then the fault of miserliness will not arise.   It is even enough if, having nothing else, he simply  speaks nicely.  By proper speech, by wealth, by his own labor, he should behave generously with others. Lack of proper behavior is forbidden for the devotee.


The devotee should not be controlled by lamentation and other emotions, by bad habits, by intoxications or by superstition.  There are thousands of circumstances for feeling lamentation, grief, anger, fear, greed and illusion, but the devotee does not become affected when such circumstances arise. They weaken the mind and obstruct the cultivation of bhakti. The devotee should always beware!  Bad habits such as  sleeping during the day, sleeping during the morning, chewing betel, untimely eating and drinking, untimely cleaning the body, sleeping on a luxurious bed,  and eating luxurious items, eventually become a disturbance to devotion.  Taking only what is necessary to maintain life, the devotee should not become habituated to unnecessary items. 


Taking intoxicants gives rise to many faults,  for by becoming addicted to them, devotion gets contaminated.  Alcohol, marijuana, opium, and even tobacco must be avoided by the vaishnava. They are prohibited in the vaishnava scriptures.  Just by smoking  a person becomes so much addicted that he takes to sinful company to enjoy the habit.9


To be controlled by superstition causes  many problems.  From superstition arises prejudice; with prejudice, there is no respect for truth.10 Wearing the signs of the vaishnava is one of the methods of cultivating devotion, involving the body.    But to think that that is the distinguishing characteristic of a vaishnava is a superstition arising from sampradaya prejudice.  Controlled by such false beliefs, a person may not  respect a real vaishnava who is not wearing those marks.  If a devotee cannot find good association within his own organization he will not venture to find good association elsewhere if he has such prejudice.  As without good association no thing can be accomplished, the devotee falls into a dangerous position.  Those who are bound to the varnasrama system by prejudice also fail to develop a taste for the higher level of bhakti.  Sometimes hatred, which is degrades a person even more,   may also   appear.  


The devotee should not disrespect the devatas.11 There are two types of devatas, incarnations of the Lord and   jivas with special qualification.  None of the Lord's servants  should be disrespected.  Those souls who, by the mercy of the Lord have attained positions to control and protect the world, are considered to be devata, and are to be worshipped by all. The vaishnava should not out of envy disrespect them. Giving them proper respect, the vaishnava may pray to them for the boon of devotion to Krishna.  The vaishnava should not disrespect any living entity.   Respect should be  given to all the forms of the devatas which are being worshipped in various places, for by worshipping those forms, the people on a lower level of consciousness learn the preliminaries to devotional service.  By disrespecting them, the devotee's pride will grow, and humility will decrease.   In this way the heart will no longer be a suitable  dwelling place for devotion.


The devotee should not disturb other living entities.12  One type of disturbance is to kill other living beings for food. Talking about others' misdeeds, criticizing others, quarreling, scolding, bearing false witness, taking advantage at others expense, violence, theft, spending others' money, beating others, lusting after others' wives_these are all actions to disturb others.  The devotee avoids these.   


When a person takes shelter of bhakti, mercy towards all living entities is a natural quality.13  Compassion does not have separate existence from bhakti. The quality which, when  offered to the Lord, is called bhakti or prema, becomes friendship, compassion and indifference when directed towards other living beings. It is a  feeling which is inherent in the eternal nature of the soul.   In the spiritual realm  this quality manifests only as friendship but in the material world it manifests as friendship towards devotees, mercy towards the innocent and indifference towards the offenders.  These are but different aspects of the same compassion.  In the conditioned state this compassion is extremely stunted. It starts with ones own body,  then widens to include ones household, then ones varna, then ones countrymen.  Expanding, it  includes the human beings of the whole world.  Compassion becomes complete when it is directed towards all living entities.  Patriotism is but an aspect of this sentiment in relation to ones country.     Philanthropy is compassion directed towards all humanity.  The vaishnava should not be limited by these sentiments. He is compassion for all living entities, not wanting to cause harm to any of them.


The vaishnava should always be careful to avoid seva and nama aparadhas.  The seva aparadhas are of five types according to the Varaha and Padma Puranas: negligence in spite of ability , disrespect, impurity,  lack of determination, and pride.  All the different offenses mentioned in he scriptures that can be committed against the form of the Lord in the temple  fall within these five types. It is difficult to list all the offenses, but those mentioned in the Varaha and Padma Puranas will be briefly described.


Among the first type of offense are  the following: not to hold the regular festivals for the deity, though there is money to do so; to worship the Lord with inferior items, though ability is there to supply better;  not to offer the seasonal fruits to the Lord; to come before the Lord without offerings obeisances, prayers or verses of praise; to enter the Lord's temple without lighting any lamp.


Disrespectful offenses are as follows: entering the deity room with shoes or in a vehicle; not paying respects to the deity;  paying respects to the deity using one hand; pointing at the deity with a finger; circumabulating someone in front of the deity; spreading the feet before the deity; reciting prayers while sitting on a bed; sleeping or eating before the deity;  speaking loudly before the deity; gossiping with someone in front of the deity; crying because of material affairs,  quarreling, talking of others in front of the Lord;  passing air before the Lord; giving part of an item to someone before offering it to the Lord; sitting with ones back to the deity; addressing or greeting  others before the deity;   seeing the deity at the wrong time.


Offenses of impurity are as follows: going to the temple with an unclean body; to serve the deity with clothing made of animal hair; spitting while  serving the deity; thinking of material things while serving the deity.


Offenses due to lack of determination are: to drink water before worshipping the Lord; to eat unoffered food, water; not daily seeing the Lord and his worship; not offering ones favorite items, foods, and fruit to the Lord; not observing ekadashi vows.


In serving the Lord the devotee thinks of himself as the Lord's humble servant.  Otherwise the devotee will praise himself and thing that he is the best worshiper.    To think oneself great, offering many items with great pomp, is also pride.


In serving the Lord these five types of offenses should be avoided. 14   The installer of  the deity, the pujari, and the general devotees must all avoid them.


The nama aparadhas15 are: to criticize devotees; to think that the devatas are independent of the Lord; to disrespect the guru; to criticize the Vedas and other scriptures;  to think the glorification of the name are exaggerations; to interpret the name; to commit sinful activity on the strength of the Name; to think that Name is life pious activities; to teach the name to faithless people;  not to have attraction for the name in spite of hearing its glories.


Even in the scriptures of moral dharma, criticizing others is a sin.  But in considering the seriousness of sin, the scriptures dealing with devotion, the essence of dharma, consider criticizing the devotee to be the most serious  offense.  Those who commit this offense cannot advance in devotion, without the association of devotees.  By criticizing the devotee gradually  devotion will decrease in the heart day by day, like the waning of the moon.16  Though a person may be well established in varnasrama dharma, without devotional association and with the committing of this offense, devotion will disappear from the heart. It is often seen that by this offense people situated in varnasrama dharma gradually fall from their position and become atheistic moralists, and then finally become amoral, living like animals.  Therefore this offense must be avoided.


To think that the devatas are independent of the Lord, that they all have equality, is polytheism. Such people are not devotees.  Understanding that Lord is one  is the correct understanding.  Without this understanding a person is ignorant,  an offender.  In chanting the Lord's name, the names of the devatas are included.  The devotee should understand that the devatas are all servants of the Lord.  Someone  may object that Siva is the supreme and Vishnu is his avatara, that Vishnu's name is dependent on Siva's name.  Such arguments between different groups does not bear any good result.  The real goal is to worship the Supreme Lord, and to that end, it is necessary to stick to chanting the name of Vishnu or Krishna.  The highest truth is without material qualities.  All the devatas, endowed with sattva, rajas and tamas, should be regarded as the servants of the Lord,  but without being envious of them, the devotee should worship the  Lord situated in pure sattva, beyond the modes of material nature. By giving up the path shown in the Vedas and other authorized scriptures and imagining other things, great  disturbance will take place.


Those scriptures which indicate worship of devatas like Siva, Durga, Ganesa, Surya and Indra, think of that worship as a materialistic means (saguna) to attain the pure (nirguna) realization of impersonal brahman. 17   In the vaishnava  scriptures the Lord is defined as the highest form endowed with eternity, knowledge and bliss.  The vaishnava does not  serve the Lord to attain impersonal brahman.    Therefore it is improper to think that the imaginary forms of devatas (being material and therefore temporary) are the same as the highest truth. If a person then tries to argue that the devatas are eternal spiritual forms, the philosophies of both advaita and bhakti disappear. Therefore the wise person maintains that the devatas are devotees of the Lord, or gunavataras, and does not change the meaning of scripture.   Otherwise there will be offense against the Lord, the eternally perfect  form.  


Disrespect to the guru is an serious offense.  Without faith in the guru there can be no faith in his instructions.  Without faith, there can be no devotional activities.   Thus a devotee must have unshakable faith in the diksa and siksa guru.  Those who have a strong tendency to surpass the guru commit this offense and cannot develop  attachment to the Lord.


The four Vedas (Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva), the Puranas, Mahabharata, the twenty dharma sastras, and the Pancaratras, all glorify the chanting of the name of the Lord and devotional service. These are considered the real scriptures.    By criticizing them there can be no advancement in devotion.  People who do not respect the scriptures and concoct  a new form of worship become a burden on the world.18  Looking at the philosophies of theosophy, brahma samaj, Buddhism and Dattatreya, this becomes apparent.  The essence is that there is one means to attain the end.  This is seen everywhere.  In different countries, different languages and different customs, the practice may differ a little but the essence is one. With an analytical eye, one will not see difference.   The Vedic scriptures are eternal. The methods given there are also eternal.  The methods given in the works following the authority of the Vedas are approved methods.  If a person out of pride wants to invent a new process,  and offers some new philosophy,  it can only  be valued as manifestation of pride and imagination, with  no substance.   It will act as an obstacle to development of that person's devotion. 


There are many pious activities, which do not bear permanent results, but these results are glorified to encourage people with material propensity.19 By glorification of the result, people are encouraged to perform the pious activity.  Many unfortunate people say that the glorification of the holy name is similar to the empty glorification of pious activities.  But the results of chanting the Name are actual and eternal, and the scriptures cannot even enumerate the many results of chanting.  There are many directives to worship the Lord, but the essence of the worship is chanting the name.  Those who think that the glories of chanting given in the scriptures are simply exaggerated praises are offenders.


To speculate whimsically about the meaning of the name is an offense.  Hari means the personal form of  Krishna, endowed with eternity, knowledge and bliss, but a person who cannot understand that Krishna has as beautiful form will think that Hari indicates impersonal brahman.  For fear that "hari" may  indicate Krishna, some people add extra words to "hari"  such as "nirakara". This is interpreting the  name.   Those who commit this offense become  dry-hearted and gradually become devoid of rasa.


If a person dares to commit sin thinking that the power of the name will nullify the reactions, he commits grave offense.  Sin and attraction to material pleasure are extinguished along with the development of attraction for the Lord.  When a person takes shelter of the name, naturally he will not have a taste for sinful activities. But if someone always chants the name and secretly commits sins, it is cheating of the worst type. Such a person while committing sin will think that by later chanting the name he will cancel the effect of the sin. The devotee should take shelter of the name, being free from this offense.


There are many pious activities such as sacrifices, austerities, yoga, study of Vedas, following the rules of varnasrama dharma,  and serving guests.  Those engrossed in materialism will think that the chanting of the name is on the same level as these  pious activities.  This is a great offense. There is a great difference between  pious actions which yield temporary material results and the chanting of the Name which brings eternal bliss. 


Those who are atheistic, extremely bound up to moral rules or duties of karma cannot take up chanting the name unless they first purify their hearts.  To give such unqualified and faithless people the teachings of the name is as useless as sowing seeds on barren ground.   Those who give out the name motivated by receiving good donations are selling the name.  They reduce  the priceless jewel to nothing in exchange for insignificant things, and fall from the path of devotion.


A person is unfortunate if, even after hearing the glories of the Name, his sense of possessiveness and attachment are so strong that he does not develop an attachment for the name.  He is in  a hopeless position, and is considered an offender.


Being free from these ten offenses the devotee should practice his worship. The devotee should not consent to or assist in criticism of the Lord or  His devote.  If he hears such words, he should if possible counter them.  If he hears such words from his own guru, then he should humbly warn him.  If the guru becomes a hater of vaishnavas he should reject him and take shelter of a real guru. 20 


Giving up the ten detrimental activities , the vaidha bhakta  carefully tend to the development of his devotion through the five types of cultivation.


1 Literature that is a useless waste of time--in other words literature without spiritual benefit-- should be rejected.  One should not become a professional teacher as a means of earning one's livelihood, nor should one indulge in arguments and counterarguments.  Nor should one take shelter of any cause or faction.  A sannyasi must not present allurements of material benefits to gather many disciples, nor should he unnecessarily read many books or give discourses as  means of livelihood.  He must never attempt to increase material opulences unnecessarily. S.B.7.13.7-8

2 A grhastha must associate again and again with saintly persons, and with great respect he must hear the nectar of the activities of the Supreme Lord and His incarnations as these activities are described in Shrimad Bhagavatam and other Puranas.  Thus one should gradually become detached from affection for his wife and children, exactly like a man awakening from a dream. S.B.7.14.3-4

3 My dear Lord, O infallible one, my position is like that of a person who has many wives, all trying to attract him in their own way.  For example, the tongue is attracted to palatable dishes, the genitals to sex with an attractive woman, and the sense of touch to contact with soft things.  The belly, although filled, still wants to eat more, and the ear, not attempting to hear about You, is generally attracted to cinema songs.  The sense of smell is attracted to yet another side, the restless eyes are attracted to scenes of sense gratification, and the active senses are attracted elsewhere.  In this way I am certainly embarrassed. S.B.7.9.40

4 How can one whose mind is afflicted by lamentation and other material disturbances ever see Mukunda. B.R.S.1.2.115    

5 Those who are serious liberation are certainly nonenvious, and they respect all.  Yet they reject the horrible and ghastly forms of the demigods and worship only the all-blissful forms of Lord Vishnu and His plenary portions.  S.B.1.2.26

6 Hari Bhakti Sudhodaya 12.54-58

7 As pouring water on the root of a tree energizes the trunk, branches, twigs and everything else, and as supply food to the stomach enlivens the senses and limbs of the body, simply worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead through devotional service automatically satisfies the demigods, who are parts of that Supreme Personality. S.B.4.31.14

8 Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one's mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada and offering prasada are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another. Upadesamrta 4 (To carry on similar activities with a materialist is asat sanga.)

9 In this material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex, meat-eating and intoxication.  Therefore religious scriptures never actually encourage such activities.  Although the scriptural injunctions provide for sex through sacred marriage, for meat-eating through sacrificial offerings and for intoxication through the acceptance of  ritual cups of wine, such ceremonies are meant for the ultimate purpose of renunciation. S.B.11.5.11

Those sinful person who are ignorant of actual religious principles, yet consider themselves to be completely pious, without compunction commit violence against innocent animals who are fully trusting in them.  In their next lives, such sinful persons will be eaten by the same creatures they have killed in this world. S.B.11.5.14

10 The killers of the  soul are never peaceful, because they consider that human intelligence, is ultimately meant for expanding material life.  Thus neglecting their real, spiritual duties, they are always in distress. They are filled with great hopes and dreams, but unfortunately these are always destroyed by the inevitable march of time. S.B.11.5.17

11 The transcendental Personality of Godhead is indirectly associated with the three modes of material nature, namely, passion, goodness and ignorance, and just for the material world's creation, maintenance and destruction he accepts the three qualitative forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.  Of these three, all human beings can derive ultimate benefit from Vishnu, the form of the quality of goodness. S.B.1.2.23

Those who are serious about liberation are certainly nonenvious, and they respect all.  Yet they reject the horrible and ghastly forms of the demigods and worship only the all-blissful forms of Lord Vishnu and his plenary portions. Those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance worship the forefathers, other living beings and the demigods who are in charge of cosmic activities, for they are urged by a desire to be materially benefited with women, wealth, power and progeny. S.B.1.2.25-26

12 If a human being is engaged in sinful, irreligious activities, either because of bad association or because of his failure to control his senses, then such a person will certainly  develop a personality full of material desires.  He thus becomes miserly toward others, greedy and always anxious to exploit the bodies of women.  When the mind is so polluted one becomes violent and aggressive and without the authority of Vedic injunctions slaughters innocent animals for sense gratification.  Worshipping ghosts and spirits, the bewildered person falls fully into the grip of unauthorized activities and thus goes to hell, where he receives a material body infected by the darkest modes of nature. S.B.11.10.27-28

13 Therefore, my dear young friends born of demons, please act in such a way that the Supreme Lord, who is beyond the conception of material knowledge, will be satisfied.  Give up your demoniac nature and act without enmity or duality.  Show mercy to all living entities by enlightening them in devotional service, thus becoming their well-wisher. S.B.7.6.24

14 One who commits all offenses can be relieved of effects by taking shelter of Hari, but if one commits offense to Hari, that is very serious. If however, one takes shelter of the name, he can overcome the effects.  But he who commits offense against the name, which the friend of all,  must fall down. Padma Purana

15 Padma Purana

16 Due to the mercy of the devotee a person may suddenly attain a relfection of bhava. Due to offense against the devotee of the Lord, that reflection of bhava will gradually disappear like the waning of the moon.  B.R.S.

17 Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way. B.G.9.23

18Steadiness in devotion arises from either taste or respect for scriptural rules, but that arising from taste is rare. Therefore one must rely upon respect for rules in order to advance to steadiness.  A person who makes a show of steadiness, without having followed the rules is therefore a proud impostor.  This does not however apply to the person who has advanced by taste.  Bhakti Sandarbha 312

19 By executing without attachment the regulated activities prescribed in the Vedas, offering the results of such work to the Supreme Lord, one attains the perfection of freedom from the bondage of material work. The material fruitive results offered in the revealed scriptures are not the actual goal of Vedic knowledge, but are meant for stimulating the interest of the performer. S.B.11.3.46

20 One should reject a guru who has become arrogant, cannot distinguish right and wrong conduct, or who has taken up an incorrect philosophy. Anyone who hears such a guru teaching wrong principles and the guru who teaches such things both go to hell  for unlimited time.  Far from being worshipped such a guru should be given up, especially if  he becomes envious of vaishnavas.  One goes to hell with a mantra given by a non-vaishnava. Therefore, according to the rules, one should again accept a guru, who is a vaishnava. Bhakti Sandarbha 238



Part Four

Relationship between secondary and primary rules


What is the difference between karma kanda and vaidhi bhakti?   There is a great difference.  Those who develop indifference to the objects of the material world  become qualified  for jnana yoga and sannyasa.  Those who still have  material desires are qualified for karma yoga.   Those who have developed faith in the supreme position of the Lord and have developed detachment  from material life to a good degree are qualified for bhakti.1  Living life by rules  designated according to qualities,  the nine stages of transformation of the body2 and social activities are prescribed both in karma kanda and bhakti.  But in karma kanda there are also many elements which are contrary to the principles of bhakti, such as fulfilling sense desires  by worshipping many devatas, giving material respect, some types of violence to animals, and respect to persons based on birth.  Service to one Lord alone, attraction for only spiritual objects,  service to vaishnavas and brahmanas based on quality, not caste, compassion and non-violence to all creatures are some of the prominent characteristics of bhakti. 


What is the relation of varnasrama, which was previously discussed, with vaidhi bhakti?  Should a person take shelter of vaidhi bhakti and give up the rules of varnasrama dharma, or should he practice vaidhi bhakti for developing devotion, while still following the varnasrama rules and duties?  It was previously stated that the purport of varnasrama dharma is to maintain the body, develop the mind, perform good works for society and learn spiritual topics, all  with the goal of developing pure bhakti.3  In that man is bound by a material body, he must follow the varnasrama rules.  That cannot be denied, for without the development of body, mind,  society and spirit, man's life becomes degraded.  The rules of varnasrama are  suitable for this purpose , and therefore they should be followed. However  varnasrama is not the final goal.  With the assistance of varnasrama dharma, a person should cultivate bhakti.  It is also necessary to follow the rules of varnasrama in the cultivation of bhakti. 


But by following the rules of varnasrama, which are time consuming, a person may not have any time left to cultivate bhakti.4 Furthermore, where there is some conflict of principles, what should be done?  First, it should be said that without taking proper care of body, mind, society and spirit,  a person cannot perform the more elevated activities of bhakti. How can the seed of devotion, faith, awaken in the heart if a person dies prematurely, develops mental problems and never learns anything about spirit?  And if a person gives up the rules of varnasrama and acts as he pleases, his physical and mental actions will be like those of a madman.  He will be engaged in the worst sins.   No sign of bhakti will be visible.


Thus, though varnasrama dharma is somewhat engaging, it must be followed as an assistant to bhakti, and, with the cultivation of bhakti, its consumption of time will decrease. 5  Its various activities will transform into devotional actions.   First a person should practice the five types of devotional activities to the utmost, as directed by Lord Chaitanya, while simultaneously being meticulous in observance of varnasrama duties, which may take too much time. He should gradually reject those varnasrama duties which are against devotional principles.  Finally, being purified by bhakti, varnasrama duties will become the servant of sadhana bhakti.  Acting it this way,  there will be no conflict between the duties of varnasrama  and bhakti.  By the cultivation of bhakti, the life of a brahmana and the life of a sudra,  both purified by bhakti,  become equalized. The sudra, being illumined by his state of servitude to the Lord and to the devotees, becomes equal to the selfless brahmana. The purity of vaishnava  brotherhood will enlighten the lives of the four varnas so much that the world will seem to be  Vaikuntha. By removal of the obstacles arising from identification with body, real equality of the souls is possible. 6


Just as atheistic moral dharma merges with theistic moral life, varnasrama dharma, so theistic moral life transforms itself and becomes devoid of its  previous faults in the life of a devotee.  In varnasrama dharma the worship of the Lord is only one among many rules.  When this dharma is incorporated in the life of a devotee, all the rules becomes subordinate to the worship of the Lord.  Although this change may seem very general, when faith becomes strong, the whole life of the person becomes transformed.  The lives of a  varnasrama follower and a devotee are completely different.


According to the scriptures, every human being has a qualification for performing  bhakti.7 As devotion is the natural propensity of the soul, all attention should be paid to this matter.  Thus all persons in the four varnas and asramas are qualified for bhakti.   Of course, as people outside the varnas are also counted as human beings, they have a right to devotion as well, but the opportunities are less.  Because their birth, association, actions and nature are all without proper regulation,  they are extremely attached to the material modes, and live like animals.  Just to fill their stomach, they become selfish, violent towards others and devoid of compassion. Because their hearts are hard, bhakti becomes difficult for them to appreciate.8 Examples like Hari das Thakura, the hunter saved by Narada, and story of Jesus and Paul, show that such people do have qualification for devotion.  By examining their lives however, it will be found that they endured many hardships in taking up the path of devotion, so much so that their lifespans were considerably shortened. 


Though  all humans have a right to practice bhakti, those who follow the regulations of varnasrama have a much easier time. But  even though the qualification and opportunity is there, many varnasrama followers do not take to bhakti.9    The  reason is that man's life takes the form of ascending steps.  Those outside the varnasrama are on the lowest step.  Atheistic moralists are on the second step. Theistic moralists are on the third step.  Vaidha bhaktas are on the fourth step, and raganuga bhaktas are on the fifth step.  It is the nature of the soul to ascend to the next higher step, but he should not ascend prematurely or too quickly. Only after being firmly established on one step is it possible to ascend to the next step .  That is why being qualified with steadiness on each level has been emphasized. When a person is qualified to ascend to the next step, he must also give up attachment to the old step. The tendency to cling to the old stage is called niyamagraha, clinging to outmoded rules. Because of this,  the outcasts have no respect for the atheistic moralists; the atheistic moralists have no respect for the pseudo-theistic moralists; the pseudo-theists have no respect for the  theistic moralists; the theistic moralists have no respect for the vaidha bhaktas;  and the vaidha bhaktas have no respect for ragatmika bhakti.  Because of such habit, the followers of varnasrama often do not respect the vaidha bhaktas.10  This does not affect bhakti itself, but is as misfortune for those who do not take up interest in their own advancement.  Those at a higher stage naturally have compassion for those at a lower stage, but until the lower-situated people are fortunate, they cannot give up their stage and develop a taste for the higher stage.


When the consciousness of those situated in varnasrama matures  into devotional sentiment they take up the life of a devotee, but as long as they do not, they must still be said to be practicing karma. Karma is not an integral part (anga) of bhakti.  When karma matures fully,  it takes the form of devotional action, and this is called bhakti, not karma.  The moment that real faith in the Lord arises, a person transcends karma. The sandhya rites are obligatory activities arising out of the rules of moral dharma.  They are not activities of bhakti arising from faith.    When faith in the Lord arises, all the activities, being centered on the Lord, are given respect according to their contribution to the goal, bhakti. Thus, if a devotee is listening to a devotional lecture in the evening, he does not like to interrupt that  to perform his sandhya rites. The devotee understands that there is no necessity for giving up an activity which is already fulfilling the goal of sandhya rites.


Like karma, jnana and vairagya are also not integral parts of bhakti, because they make the heart hard, which is against  the principle of bhakti. Before a person takes up bhakti, jnana and vairagya may sometimes be helpful in practice.11 They may also help slightly when a person first starts bhakti. The relationship of bhakti to jnana and vairagya will be shown separately. 


In Hari Bhakti Vilasa many angas of vaidhi bhakti are discussed. In Bhakti Sandarbha all the angas are classified nicely into nine types of bhakti.  In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, sixty-four angas of vaidhi bhakti are mentioned.  Among those, five angas are considered as chief: attachment to serving the deity; relishing the meaning of Bhagavatam with devotees; affection for devotees of the same level and association (hearing and serving) with those of higher caliber; chanting the Lord's name; residing in Vraja.  The devotee should particularly perform that anga  for which he has a stronger taste, but he should be careful that this does not lead to a distaste for other angas.  The essence of these angas of bhakti is twofold:  always remember the Lord and never forget him.  Whatever activity  encourages his remembrance becomes a rule of engagement, and whatever activity  makes him forget the Lord is forbidden.    By keeping these two rules in mind, the devotee may at one time follow a rule strictly, but later may give it up, being unattached to rules for rules' sake.


The vaidha bhaktas are practitioners.  They are of  three types:  those with faith (faith); those with steadiness (nistha); those with taste (ruci).  Those who are faithful take shelter of a guru, take initiation, and perform devotional activities. Performing devotional activities in association with devotees, the anarthas disappear. When  impurities disappear,12 faith becomes steadiness;  this, intensified with spiritual desire, becomes taste. This is the limit of sadhana bhakti.  Taste becomes attachment and then bhava. This will be discussed later. 


1  Among these three paths, jnana yoga, the path of philosophical speculation, is recommended for those who are disgusted with material life and are thus detached from ordinary, fruitive activities.  Those who are not disgusted with material life, having many desires yet to fulfill, should seek perfection through the path of karma yoga. If somehow or other by good fortune one develops faith in hearing and chanting My glories, such a person, being neither very disgusted with nor attached to material life, should achieve perfection through the path of loving devotion to Me.  S.B.11.20.7-8

2 Impregnation, gestation, birth, infancy, childhood, youth, middle age, old age and death are the nine ages of the body. S.B.11.22.47

3 O Brahmana Vyasadeva, it is decided by the learned that the best remedial measure for removing all troubles and miseries is to dedicate one's activities to the service of the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead. O good soul, does not a thing, applied therapeutically, cure a disease which was caused by that very same thing?  Thus when all a man's activities are dedicated to the service of the Lord, those very activities which caused his perpetual bondage become the destroyer of the tree of work. Whatever work is done here in this life for the satisfaction of the mission of the Lord is called  bhakti-yoga, or transcendental loving service of the Lord, and what is called knowledge becomes a concomitant factor. While performing duties according to the order of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one constantly remembers Him, His names and His qualities.  S.B.1.5.32-36

4 ...There is no end to the innumerable Vedic prescriptions for executing deity worship; so I shall explain this topic to you briefly, one step at a time.  S.B.11.27.6

5 It is better to engage in one's own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another's occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one's nature are never affected by sinful reactions. B.G.18.47

6 Such a man sees equally the brahmana and the outcaste, the thief and the charitable promoter of brahminical culture, the sun and the tiny sparks of fire, the gentle and the cruel. S.B.11.29.14

The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater. B.G.5.18

7 My dear sons of demons, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, is the original Supersoul, the father of all living entities. Consequently, there are no impediments to pleasing Him or worshipping Him under any conditions, whether one be a child or an old man.  The relationship between the living entities and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is always a fact, and therefore there is no difficulty in pleasing the Lord. S.B.7.6.19

8 My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one's past fruitive activities.  Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress.  Endeavors merely for sense gratification or material happiness through economic development are not to be performed, for they result only in a loss of time and energy, with no actual profit.  If one's endeavors are directed toward Krishna consciousness, one can surely attain the spiritual platform of self-realization.  There is no such benefit from engaging oneself in economic development. S.B.7.6.3-4

9 Terrified, about to die, a man collapses on his bed.  Although his voice is faltering and he is hardly conscious of what he is saying, if he utters the holy name of the Supreme Lord he can be freed from the reactions of his fruitive work and achieve the supreme destination.  But still people in the age of Kali will not worship the Supreme Lord. S.B.12.3.44

10 If a brahmana has all twelve of the brahminical qualifications but is not a devotee and is averse to the lotus feet of the Lord, he is certainly lower than a devotee who is a dog-eater but who has dedicated everything--mind, words, activities, wealth and life--to the Supreme Lord.  Such a devotee is better than such a brahmana because the devotee can purify his whole family, whereas the so-called brahmana in a position of false prestige cannot purify even himself.  S.B.7.9.10

11 Knowledge and renunciation  are not qualifications for entering devotional service.  Though they may be of some use in the beginning , they are not considered angas of bhakti. B.R.S.

12 Surrendered souls, even from groups leading sinful lives, such as women, the laborer class, the mountaineers and the Siberians, or even the birds and beasts, can also know about the science of Godhead and become liberated from the clutches of the illusory energy by surrendering unto the pure devotees of the Lord and by following in their footsteps in devotional service. S.B.2.7.46