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When bhava or rati attains depth or thickness it is called prema.1 When prema appears, the heart becomes tender or soft, and moreover there arises exclusive possessiveness of the Lord. When rati develops qualification for enjoying pastimes with the Lord, it can be called prema. At the stage of rati there is also possessiveness, but this possessiveness does not have the mood of exclusiveness.2 Pure rati also has the Lord as the subject, but it is not reached the stage where only the Lord and nothing else is the subject. When such a condition arises, that rati takes on a form suitable for enjoying Krishna's pastimes. Rati which is suitable for rasa is prema. The rati previously mentioned is the seedling of prema, but it is not suitable for rasa because it does not have exclusive possessiveness of Krishna.3 Rati when it matures as prema becomes a fixed mood (sthayi bhava). Without sthayi bhava, rasa is not possible. If rasa is called prema, it is only the beginning stage of prema.
Prema has two types. When bhava, by constant internal service using various angas of bhakti ascends to the highest level, is called prema generated from bhava.4 The internal elements of bhava were previously shown. When prema arises simply from associating with the Lord's form, it is called prema due to mercy. Prema derived from bhava has two types: prema from vaidha bhava5 and prema from raganuga bhava.6 Prema due to mercy has two sources: from the association of the Lord, and from association with a devotee fixed in prema, which brings the person to bhava, after which he achieves the association of Krishna or serves the different angas of bhakti to achieve prema. The prema that results from mercy has two types: prema endowed with the awareness of the majesty of God (mahatmya jnana yukta prema), and unalloyed prema (kevala prema).
Prema which arises by following the path of rules and regulations is endowed with awareness of the majesty of God (mahima jnana yukta prema).7 Some people called it sneha bhakti.8 By this prema, the soul attains sarsti, sarupya, samipya and salokya, types of liberation. But even being liberated, the soul serves the Lord in those particular states. The prema arising from sadhana of raganuga usuallly brings about exclusiveness to the Lord (kevala prema),9 but if during practice of raganuga, there is still some attachment to the vaidha (rules) it does not become kevala prema. However, if during practice of raganuga a tinge of vaidha remains due to habit rather than attachment, then that develops into kevala prema.
When the soul attains prema, he has fulfilled his full potential, and has full satisfaction.10 All contamination of evil is finished. There is no higher attainment than prema for the soul. Compared to prema, liberation is small and temporary. Amongst all the various by-products of prema, liberation is one of them. Though prema arises after being in contact with matter for so long, there is no longer any consciousness of matter. The life of the prema bhakta is devoid of material contamination and fully Krishna conscious. Rules, like glowworms when the sun arises, become hidden with the daybreak of prema. For the prema bhakta, even the material world appears as Vaikuntha, the spiritual world.
2 An exclusive attachment to Vishnu,, a mixture of possessiveness and love, is called bhakti by Bhisma, Prahlada, uddhava and Narada. Pancaratra
3 B.R.S. 1.4.3-4
5 By chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord, one comes to the stage of love of Godhead. Then the devotee is fixed in his vow as an eternal servant of the Lord, and he gradually becomes very much attached to a particular name and form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As his heart melts with ecstatic love, he laughs very loudly or cries or shouts. Sometimes he sings and dances like a madman, for he is indifferent to public opinion. S.B.11.2.40
6 Padma Purana
Stages in the Development of Prema
It is necessary to know the stages of development from practice to the final achievement of human life. The gradual development has nine stages: faith, association, devotional action, purification, steadiness, taste, attachment, bhava and prema.1
A life without morality is animal life. Life which increases sense happiness by progress in material science and mechanics through intellectual power is demonic. All is temporary and insignificant. Though the moral people follow rules for controlling body and mind, because it is devoid of thoughts of future life and devotion to God, their life is worthless and unfulfiling for the soul. In moral life with theism, though there are thoughts of after life and worship of God, those activities are impure, minor and unsatisfying. The soul cannot remain bound to that stage of existence. The life of the impersonalist is very repulsive and misdirected. Devotional life is the only life.2
The Supreme Lord is everything, the creator of all, and controller of all. It is beneficial to have an attachment to Him. Whatever else is beneficial is dependent on this attachment. Independent efforts or knowledge are very small and limited. They do not make the Lord satisfied. Selfless devotion to the Lord is necessary. The soul is the eternal servant of the Lord. Association with matter is the degradation of the soul. This association has arisen because of incompetence. The cause of this misfortune is disrespect for the Lord. The soul himself is the maker of this bondage. The Lord is the soul's creator. The world is not false; though true it is not eternal. The world serves as a prison for punishing the incompetent souls. But the Lord is kind. To deliver the soul from the suffering he experiences, the Lord repeated tries to take him out of his miserable condition. He is anxious to see the soul make personal efforts to qualify himself, so that He can bestow to Him the sweet nectar of His eternal pastimes. If the Lord desired, He could deliver everyone, but, as His inconceivable pastime, He desires and wills that the soul strives for devotion. The father can give the undeserving son all his wealth, but he derives more pleasure from making the son qualified and then giving him the wealth. This is the result of the Lord's affection. To be the servant of the Lord is most beneficial for the soul. It is the best.
This conviction is called sraddha or faith. When there appears firm faith in the Lord and devotion, and faith in the individual's weakness, such statements as mentioned above flow from the mouth of the faithful person. In analyzing faith, it will be apparent that all other types of faith discussed before are included within resolute faith in the Lord. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has called this faith the seed of the creeper of bhakti. Examining the lives of devotees, it will be found that some have developed faith by studying the scriptures impartially. Many have developed faith by association with devotees and hearing their teachings. Others have developed faith in bhakti after performing duties according to varnasrama and developing a repulsion to taking material results. Others have developed faith through disgust for speculative knowledge. Others have developed faith suddenly. There is no specific rule for the development of faith. Faith, the seed of the creeper of bhakti, is above the rules. Therefore it was said that faith develops in the fortunate soul. The end of action according to varnasrama duties (karma) and the appearance of faith are simultaneous.3
When faith has arisen, the person becomes anxious. By habit he is controlled by evil. Thinking of how to dissipate the evil, he takes shelter of the feet of the devotees. He begins to search out devotees with great longing, and by Krishna's mercy he attains their association. This is the first sign of development of prema. 4
In that association he beings to carry out devotional activities such as hearing and singing the glories of the Lord, and remembering the form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord. With practice of bhakti according the five divisions mentioned previously, the root of the problem, sense pleasure and desire, becomes submissive to bhakti. Though the sins still remain in the body, desire is given up. This is the second stage in attaining prema.5 By cultivating devotion, gradually attachment to material pleasure, sinful conduct, violence, greed and other material habits decrease; he becomes free of material desire. This the third stage, clearing the sins (anartha nivrtti).
In this state all other attachments cease. Faith becomes faith in the Lord. As long as the sins remain, faith cannot be steady. To the extent that sins are extinguished, faith turns into steadiness (nistha). This is the fourth stage in attaining prema.
Attaining steadiness, he performs his devotional activities and takes association with more care. By this, the sins are further reduced and steadiness turns to joy. This is called taste or ruci.6 This is the fifth step. With taste for Krishna established, everything else becomes tasteless.
When ruci becomes more intense, along with greater destruction of sin, asakti appears. Asakti is still within sadhana bhakti. Sadhana has become perfect. The person feels successful. This is the sixth stage.
When asakti becomes full it is called bhava, rati or the seedling of prema. The heart becomes soft. This is the seventh stage. 7
When bhava attains exclusive possessiveness of Krishna it is called prema. It is a state of permanent emotion suitable for rasa.8
The devotees performing sadhana bhakti should always be attentive to the condition of their devotion, perceiving the state yesterday and the improvement made today. If he perceives that after some days no progress has been made according to the stages given above, he must understand that some offense must have been committed. Having diagnosed that offense, he should give up that offense and correct the harm done by association of devotees. Continuously cultivating bhakti and praying to Krishna , he should be careful that the offense does not occur again. Those who do not care to examine their progress will advance very slowly due to the unseen obstacles they have created. Devotees, take special precaution in this matter!
2 And when the hogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, achieving perfection after many, many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal. A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi. And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me--he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion. B.G.6.45-47
I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him. Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. 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. 29-33
A person who executes his occupational duty properly for one hundred births becomes qualified to occupy the post of Brahma, and if he becomes more qualified, he can approach Lord Siva. A person who is directly surrendered to Lord Krishna, or Vishnu, in unalloyed devotional service is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets. Lord Siva and other demigods attain these planets after the destruction of this material world. S.B.4.24.29
My dear Uddhava, the unalloyed devotional service rendered to Me by My devotees brings Me under their control. I cannot be thus controlled by those engaged in mystic yoga, Sankhya philosophy, pious work, Vedic study, austerity or renunciation. S.B.11.14.20
3 As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for devotional service by sravanam kirtanam visnoh, one has to act according to the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions. S.B.11.20.9
4 In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.S.B.3.25.25
5 O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vasudeva. Shri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses, desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted. S.B.1.2.16-17
6 ..Thus being engaged, I became purified in heart, and at that time the very nature of the transcendentalist became attractive to me. O Vyasadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedantists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Krishna. And thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step. S.B.1.5.25-26
7 Thus during two seasons--the rainy season and autumn--I had the opportunity to hear these great-souled sages constantly chant the unadulterated glories of the Lord Hari. As the flow of my devotional service began, the coverings of the modes of passion and ignorance vanished. S.B.1.5.28
As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature's modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy. S.B. 1.2.19
8 raso vai sah rasam hy evayam labdhanandi bhavati
The Lord is rasa. Attaining the rasa, the jiva becomes blissful.
Chanting the name in aspiring for Prema
Prema is the goal of the soul. By nourishing bhava, prema manifests. The soul, fixed in favorable attitude towards Krishna, elevates himself gradually and finally approaches the temple of prema. Prema has two stages: aspiring for prema and attainment of prema. Having attained prema there is no further attainment. There is only Krishna rasa, and nothing else at that stage. In the aspiring stage there are two types of devotees: those who derive bliss from following the proper conduct and those who derive bliss from preaching. Some derive bliss from both activities.1 Proper conduct refers to listening about the Lord; preaching prefers to glorifying the Lord's name.
In the aspiring stage, the prema bhakta is dedicated solely to Krishna. His general symptom is complete surrender (saranagati).2 In the Bhagavatam and the Gita there is profuse glorification of the surrendered soul. Without such exclusive surrender, what to speak of prema, even bhava does not appear. This surrender accepts only those things favorable to prema bhakti. The devotee avoids those things unfavorable for prema. The devotee thinks of Krishna as his only protector. He does not seek protection by any other means, or through any other person. He has faith nowhere else. Krishna is his sole maintainer. Of that he has no doubt. He also sincerely feels himself to be very fallen. He is convinced that he can do nothing; no one can do anything except if Krishna desires.3
The fully surrendered devotee exclusively takes shelter of the Lord's name, though there are many other angas of bhakti. He derives satisfaction from hearing and remembering the name. No type of worship is so pure and directly spiritual as the name. In the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, among all the devotional activities, there is most glorification of the chanting and remembering the Lord's name. It is stated in scriptures that there is no difference between Krishna and His name, for the name is spiritual by nature. The full spiritual form of Krishna endowed with all rasa appears in the name.4
Whoever wants to receive realization of Krishna's form and the name's form, must strive to understand their spiritual nature. As long as he does not understand their spiritual nature, he cannot become expert in worship of the Lord. Then how can he attain the goal of his sadhana? Realization of spiritual nature (svarupa) of Krishna and his energies is the only cause of advancement in worship.5 Let us consider at little.
It has already been explained, and supported with scriptural evidence, that the soul is a spiritual particle, the abode of Krishna is spiritual, and Krishna is the spiritual sun, Krishna bhakti is the spiritual nature of the soul, and Krishna's name is spiritual rasa incarnate. Here will be discussed the spiritual realities in relation to the aspirants of prema. By performance of devotional activities, spiritual bliss will appear in the heart. Brahma jnana, a realization of pure spirit, has no attraction because there is absence of pleasure derived from spiritual entities and spiritual activities. 6
The Vedas, the incarnation of the Lord for delivering the fallen people of Kali yuga, are considered to be proof (pramana). In the Vedas nine topics are presented as fact (prameya). This subject has been elaborated on in the Bhagavatam. It is stated conclusively in the Vedas that the soul is a spiritual particle, like a particle of sunlight in relation to the sun, the Supreme Lord.7 Krishna and the soul are both spiritual but Krishna is the independent being, like the sun, and the soul is his dependent, like the particle of light. Krishna is the Supreme Lord. The soul is his eternal servant. Krishna lives in the spiritual world, Goloka, which is purely spiritual. This spiritual world is called Vaikuntha.8 In the Vajasaneya Upanisad, the pure spiritual quality of Krishna's form is shown.9 That the Supreme Lord or Supreme Brahman Krishna is endowed with energies or powers (sakti) is described in the Svetasvatara Upanisad.10 Bhakti as spiritual taste has been described in the Mundaka Upanisad. There it states that those who understand Krishna as the life of all entities give up dry speculation and pursuit of knowledge and enjoy the pastimes of God (atmakrida).11
Knowing the Lord by pure knowledge, the wise man cultivates pure bhakti (prajnam). Whoever acts in this manner is called brahmana. Whoever does not know this and dies is worthy of lamentation. Whoever knows this is a brahmana, or in other words, a Krishna bhakta or vaishnava.12 The real nature of bhakti has been described in this way.
Oh Maitreya, the atma is to be seen, heard, meditated on, concentrated on. When the atma is seen, heard, meditated on and realized, all else is known. This atma or Krishna, is dearer that sons and wealth because this Lord is dwelling within all beings. However attached we are to material objects, whatever they may be, we do not hold affection for them in themselves. All objects are dear only because of attachment to the spirit, the Lord, within them.13
Brhad Aranyaka 4.5.6,8
The eternal relationship of the soul with atma, Krishna, is called prema, love. Prema is a pure spiritual reality.
What is the relation between the phenomenal world and spiritual reality? If there is proper knowledge, then true devotional wisdom prevails. But often, by trying to search out the true nature of spirit, man goes astray. By a particular process of logic one may conclude that the spiritual realm must be exactly opposite of the material world. By further use of logic, rejecting spiritual form, one may imagine that the supreme is some ambiguous, imperfect semi-spiritual substance. This brahman, without form, without change, without motion, without qualities, without love, is an indescribable substance, like a flower in the sky. Unable to know the name, form, activities and qualities of this spiritual thing, a person becomes inactive. In this way, dry speculative knowledge has created a great obstacle for the souls. This is known from the discussion between Vyasa and Narada in the Bhagavatam.14
Limited by a realization of the supreme as a shining spiritual substance which is but a dim shadow of pure spiritual reality, it is certain that a person cannot know the enjoyable spiritual pastimes of the Supreme Spirit. Brother, please advance further! Pierce the spiritual effulgence and enter the spiritual world! There you can see the Supreme Brahman and his spiritual activities. Taste the sweetness of the indivisible Lord. Do not treat spirit like a dry piece of wood. Mundaka Upanisad says that people knowledgeable of spirit know that the pure Supreme Brahman, untouched by the mode of passion, resides in a pure spiritual (golden) abode.15 By transcendental light, surpassing the material light, the Lord's name, form, qualities and activities are revealed. The sun, moon, stars, lightening and fire of this world are not suitable for that world. A spiritual light reveals that spiritual world. Though we think of the sun and moon as illuminators, they are only dull reflections of the spiritual light. This is extensively explained the description of Brahmapura in the Chandogya Upanisad. The spiritual world illumined by spiritual light is the model for the material world. It is not an inferior model, it is a pure ideal. Everything there excels in giving happiness. The inferior reflection of the spiritual world is the material world. The spiritual light is reflected grossly as the material illuminators like the sun and subtly as the light of material knowledge of the mind, intelligence and false ego. The material sun is perceived by the gross senses as light. And the material knowledge is appreciated by the astanga yoga process, revealed through the subtle mind, intellectual and false ego purified through astanga yoga. All these are the instinctive acts of vision by the soul in bondage.
By Narada's instruction, Vyasa adopted spiritual vision through his soul and was able to see perfectly the name , form, qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord.16 He could understand as well the shadow of the superior energy, maya. He could understand how maya throws the soul into illusion, and thereby corrupts the intrinsic spiritual nature of the soul. He understood that the soul could achieve his own pure identity by direct spiritual vision developed through bhakti. Then he wrote the Shrimad Bhagavatam to reveal the spiritual activities of the Lord. The corruption of the soul is twofold: mistaken identity of the soul and mistaken identity of Krishna. By these mistakes, the soul becomes adverse to Krishna and enters the path of action and reaction in the endless cycle of illusion. This produces a world of happiness and distress. When all the material attempts of logic born from material knowledge, through practice of astanga yoga (karma marga) and sankhya yoga (jnana marga) cease and the soul takes shelter of pure bhakti yoga, all truths become illumined by the light of pure knowledge revealed through the spiritual vision of the soul. The soul then regards all material happiness as useless, and Krishna prema appears. Krishna, the spiritual sun, bestows his mercy. Except for this mercy, there is no way to destroy the misconceptions and attain elevation of the soul.17
Faith is the root cause of spiritual vision on the path of pure bhakti. At the proper auspicious time, Vyasa began to doubt the efficacy of karma kanda and dry speculative knowledge. Vyasa then asked his guru, "I have understood all the knowledge given by you, but why is my soul still unsatisfied? Son of Brahma, please tell me what is the cause of this condition? In great anxiety I am asking you this question."18
Narada replied, "Oh Vyasa, with the same clarity that you have explained the four goals of artha, dharma, kama and moksa in the Puranas, Vedanta Sutra, and Mahabharata, you have not attempted to explain the spotless spiritual pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Because of this you are not feeling satisfaction. You have made a great mistake in overemphasizing varnasrama dharma as the duty of the conditioned soul. If a person gives up his material dharma and worships the Lord in devotion, and then falls from that position, what is the loss? If a person stays steady in his dharma but does not worship the Lord, what does he really gain?"19 From this instruction it may be understood that there is no other method than worshipping the Supreme Lord in devotion. By worshipping the Lord who is the shelter of the name, the soul achieves everything. 20
Vyasadeva attained spiritual perception through bhakti yoga. This samadhi is called "natural" because for the spirit soul devotion to Krishna is very easy and natural. Because it is the eternal nature of the soul, it is called the soul's natural dharma. The process is as follows.
The individual finally realizes that he can never attain service to Krishna, his real nature, by following the path of karma, either through the eighteen types of sacrifice or through the subtle sacrifice of astanga yoga. And he realizes that he cannot attain it through either the feeble knowledge which aims at a vague spiritual substance or material knowledge gained by efforts of the mind.21 Seeing no alternative, he cries for the mercy of the devotees, "Oh Krishna, deliverer of the fallen souls! I am your eternal servant, I have fallen in the material ocean, and am suffering. Oh Lord, be merciful and give me the shelter of the dust of your lotus feet." At that moment the merciful Lord places him at his feet and comforts him.
Constantly hearing, chanting and remembering the Lord's name, with tears in his eyes, he attains the stage of bhava. Krishna, sitting in the heart, removes all obstacles and material desires, purifies the heart, and then mercifully offers the devotee his own prema. At this point if the person has no mood of surrender (saranagati), he may proudly make his own attempts to attain the goal and in the process dry up his heart. In this way he is deprived of prema. The devotee should be careful to bring Krishna into his heart with humility and full surrender. At that time, attempts at material logic become wiped out completely, the spiritual eye opens, and he sees the Lord as He is. If he avoids bad association and takes good association by further devotional activities his mind becomes fixed, and following the progression from steadiness (nistha) he attains bhava. The person of crooked heart will go the opposite way.22
The person in the stage of attaining prema with a sincere heart constantly chants Krishna's name in the association of devotees. He does not have any taste for any other anga of bhakti. Because the name quickly produces an intense concentration of the mind, all the results of yama, niyama, pranayama, dhyana , dharana and pratyahara are achieved. Without performing the stages of astanga yoga, by the mercy of the name, the mind achieves complete stillness, which is the goal of yoga. As the mind becomes purified, the splendors of the spiritual world gradually being to appear. He experiences such happiness that all other happiness achieved by any other process becomes just a drop in comparison with the ocean of prema. He desires no other wealth than the mercy of Krishna. 23
The name of Krishna is a spiritual substance. There is no knowledge, austerity, meditation, fruit, renunciation, sense control, pious act, or goal as great as that of the name. The name is the supreme liberation. The name is the supreme destination. The name is supreme peace. The name is the supreme situation. The name is supreme devotion. The name is supreme intelligence. The name is supreme love. The name is the supreme remembrance. This the devotee believes with conviction. The name is the soul's reason for existence. The name is the Lord of the soul. The name is the most worshipable object. The name is the supreme guru.24
In the Vedic scriptures the spiritual nature of the name and its supreme position is described.
Oh Lord, we worship you, knowing your name is supreme. In worshipping the name, there is no rules. The name is superior to all ritualistic activities. It is a spiritual substance. It is self-illuminating. From the name of the Lord arose all the Vedas. We can perform expert worship of the name, which is none other than the supreme brahman. The name is easier to understand than the soul. The name is the excellence of knowledge. It is practice (sadhana) and the goal of practice (sadhya). You and your lotus feet are worshipable. We bow down to your lotus feet. For attaining the highest benefit the devotees take up the name, discuss it and glorify it loudly. They know your name is completely spiritual. On hearing your name being glorified, the devotees take up the singing your name, and become purified. The name is eternal. The name is the mother of the Vedas, a concentration of eternity, bliss and knowledge. Oh Vishnu, as we are able to glorify you by the mercy of the name, we will worship only the name. 25
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has glorified the name in his Sistastaka. The progressive steps in chanting the name are given in those verses. When the devotee gives up offenses and chants the name, he has the symptoms described in the third verse. Chanting the name with unmotivated devotion is described in the next verse. Confession to the Lord is presented in the next verse. The last two verses indicate how the devotee as a resident of Vraja must worship as a follower of Radha in the mood of meeting and separation. There is so much glorification of the name in the scriptures that if they were all to be included in this book, it would expand to the size of Hari Bhakti Vilasa. Therefore with out saying more about the glories of the name, the procedure for intensive chanting the name will be described.
However the persons on the stage of aspiring for prema should remember a few things before engaging in intensive chanting. He should be convinced that Krishna's form, his name, his service, and his associates are all eternally pure and spiritual. Krishna, his abode, his associates for pastimes are all free of material energy and spiritual. There is nothing material in performing service to Krishna. Krishna's throne, house, garden, forest, the Yamuna, and all other objects are spiritual, non-material. They should know that this faith is not the blind faith of the material world, but the supreme, eternal truth. The true identity of all these things do not actually appear in this world, but rather reside in the heart of the pure devotee.
In this world, the result of sadhana of the name is realization of the real nature of the spiritual world (svarupa siddhi). Whoever realizes this quickly gives up the body and attains the spiritual world (vastu siddhi) by the grace of Krishna. In this world, only a shadow of that stage of existence can be experienced. The preliminary stage is liberation,26 and the final stage is prema.
1 Some behave very well but do not preach the cult of Krishna consciousness, whereas others preach but do not behave properly. You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and by your preaching. Therefore you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world. C.C.Antya 4.102-103
2 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
Simply take shelter of Me alone, for I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead, situated within the heart of all conditioned souls. Take shelter of me wholeheartedly, and by My grace be free from fear in all circumstances. S.B.11.12.15
3 anukulasya sankalpah pratikulya vivarjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma niksepa karpanye sad vidah saranagatih.
4 nama cintamani krishna chaitanya rasavigrahah
purnah suddho nitya mukto'bhinnatvan nama naminoh
5 Liberation is easily attainable by knowledge and enjoyment is easily available by performance of pious activities like sacrifice. However bhakti is very difficult to achieve by thousands of such practices. Padma Purana
6 My Lord, the transcendental bliss derived from meditating upon Your lotus feet or hearing about Your glories from pure devotees is so unlimited that it is far beyond the stage of brahmananda, wherein one thinks himself merged in the impersonal Brahmana as one with the Supreme. Since brahmananda is also defeated by the transcendental bliss derived from devotional service, then what to speak of the temporary blissfulness of elevating oneself to the heavenly planets, which is ended by the separating sword of time? Although one may be elevated to the heavenly planets, he falls down in due course of time. S.B.4.9.10
7 yathagneh ksudra visphlinga vyuccaranti evam evasmad atmanah sarvani bhutani vyucccaranti. tasya va etasya purusasya dve eva sthane bhavatah, idam ca paraloka sthanam ca sandhyam tritiyam svapna sthanam.
As small sparks emanate from a fire, so all the souls emanate from the Supreme Soul. The souls have two places, this world and the spiritual world, and a third place the border between them.
Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad 2.1.20
8 divye pure hy esa samvyomny atma pratisthatah
The Lord is situated in a spiritual city in the sky.
Mundaka Upanisad 2.7
9 Such a person must factually know the greatest of all, who is unembodied, omniscient, beyond reproach, without veins, pure and uncontaminated, the self-sufficient philosopher who has been fulfilling everyone's desire since time immemorial. Isopanisad 8
nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman
He is the eternal among all eternals; he is the chief consciousness among all consciousnesses. He is the chief among many, who fulfills the desires of the living entities. Katha Upanisad
10 parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate svabhaviki jnana bala kriya ca
There are various natural energies of the Supreme Lord such as jnana, bala and kriya.
Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.8
11 prano hy esa yah sarva bhutair vibhati vijanan vidvan bhavate nativadi
atma krida atma ratih kriyavan esu brahma vidam varisthah
The Lord is the life of all living beings. The wise man who knows this Lord does not speak of other things. he is absorbed in the pastimes of the Lord. He is the best among the knowers of Brahman.
Mundaka Upanisad 3.1.4
12 tam eva dhiro vijnaya prajnam kurvita brahmanah etad aksaram gargy avidiva'smal lokat praiti sa krpano' tha ya etad aksaram gargi viditva'smal lokat praiti sa brahmanah
The wise man, having this prajnam is a brahmanah. Not knowing the indestructible Lord, if a person passes from this world, he is a miser. If he passes from the world knowing this, he is a brahmana.
Brhad Aranyaka 3.8.4
13 atma va are drastavyah srotavya mantavyo nididhyasitavyo maitreyyatmani khandare drste srute mate vijnate idam sarvam viditam.
tad etat preyah putrat sreyo vittat preyo' dyasmat sarvasmat antarataram yad ayam atma
na va are sarvasya kamaya sarvam priyam bhavati. atamanas tu kamaya sarvam priyah bhavati
Brhad Aranyaka 4.5.6,8
14 Knowledge of self-realization, even though free from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception of the Infallible. What, then is the use of fruitive activities, which are naturally painful from the very beginning and transient by nature, if they are not utilized for the devotional service of the Lord? S.B.1.5.12
15 hiranmaye pare kose virajam brahma niskalam
taccubhram jyotisam jyotis tadvad atma vido viduh
na tatra suryo bhati na candra tarakam na vidyuto bhanti kuto'yam agnih
tam eva bhantam anubhati sarvam tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati
That place is situated in a golden covering. It is the most efffulgent of all shining things. Those who know the Lord know this. In that place there is no sun, no moon, no stars, no lightening and no fire. Everything shines because of the light of brahman.
16 Thus he fixed him mind, perfectly engaging it by linking it in devotional service, without any tinge of materialism, and thus he saw the Absolute Personality of Godhead along with His external energy, which was under full control. Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries. The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth. S.B.1.7.4-6
17 nayam atma pravacanena labhyo na bahuna srutena
yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas tasyaiva atma vivrnute tanum svam
The Lord cannot be understood by speaking, nor by hearing. One can attain Him when the Lord himself chooses. He chooses him as his own person. Mundaka 3.2.3
18 All you have said about me is perfectly correct. Despite all this, I am not pacified. I therefore question you about the root cause of my dissatisfaction, for you are a man of unlimited knowledge due to your being the offspring of one who is self-born. S.B.1.5.5
19 One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his begin unsuccessful. On the other hand, a nondevotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything. S.B.1.5.17
20 O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge. S.B.2.1.11
Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society. S.B.6.3.24
21 tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet samit panih srotriyam brahma nistham
Carrying fuel wood in ones hands, one must approach a guru fixed in the Lord, conversant with the scriptures and well behaved, in order to gain knowledge of God.
Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12
22 ..The Lord can be easily pleased by spotless devotees who resort exclusively to Him for protection, though the unrighteous man finds it difficult to propitiate Him. S.B. 3.19.36
Those of crooked heart cannot continue the course of bhakti, whereas those who have imperfect worship but are sincere cannot have success. Bhakti Sandarbha 153
23 Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet down to the lowest planet. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them. S.B. 1.5.18
24 Agni Purana
25 om asysa jananto nama cid viviktena mahas te visno sumatim bhajamahe om tat sat
om padam devasya namasa vyastah sravasyavasrava apannamrttam namani cid dadhire yajniyani bhadrayas te ranayas tam samdrstau
om tam ustotarah purvam yathav ida rtasya gartam manusa pipartan asya jananto nama cid vivktena mahas te visno sumatim bhajamahe sruti
26 Liberation is the permanent situation of the form of the living entity after he gives up the changeable gross and subtle material bodies. S.B.2.10.6
System for cultivating the name
Understanding the real nature of the complete spiritual realm is called svarupa siddhi, or realization of relationship, sambandha jnana. If the relationship is realized, the process of cultivating prema and goal, prema itself, can be obtained. Krishna's spiritual abode, name, qualities, and pastimes are all particular aspects of realization within prema. In the Prasna Upanisad the process of cultivating the name is described.1 Krishna appears in this world through his name. Though the name is made of a serious of syllables, by the power of the name, the syllables become Krishna himself.2 The name and the person designated by the name being non-different, Krishna descends from Goloka Vrndavana in the form of the name. Thus the name of Krishna is the first knowledge that a person can have of Krishna. If a person is determined to attain Krishna, he should then take shelter of the name. Gopala Guru Goswami, the dear disciple of Svarupa Damodara Goswami, has written concerning the name in Hari Namartha Nirnaya.
In the Agni Purana it says:
Whoever chants the words "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare" even negligently will achieve the goal without doubt.
In the Brahmanda Purana it says:
Whoever chants "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Hare Hare" is free from all sin.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has combined these together. Issuing from his lips the words "hare krishna" drown the world in prema. By the Lord's order, may those words be ever victorious.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavat has taught his followers to chant these sixteen words "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare." Gopal Guru Goswami has also explained the meaning of these sixteen words.
By chanting the name Hari all the sins are destroyed (harati). Just as fire burns even if touched by accident, if by accident a person chants the name "Hari" all sin is burned up. This name reveals the real form of the Lord with all his bliss and knowledge, and destroys ignorance and its effects. This is the meaning of the word "Hari". Or the word "Hari" can mean he who takes away (harati) the three miseries of material existence from all living entities. Or it can mean he who attracts (harati) the minds of all living entities through hearing and speaking about his transcendental qualities. Or it can mean he who attracts the minds of all the avataras and people by his sweetness and beauty which is greater than that of a million cupids. The word "Hari" becomes "Hare" in the vocative case, the form of address. Or according to Brahma Samhita, the person who attracts the mind of the Lord by ideal love, Radha, is called "Hara". In the vocative case this also becomes "hare". According the agamas the root 'krs" and the suffix "na" form the word "krishna", which means the person who attracts, who is personification of bliss. He is the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Lord. "Krishna" has the same form "Krishna" in the vocative case. In the agamas it is also stated that by the utterance of the syllable "ra" all sins are driven away and in order to prevent them from returning the syllable "ma" is added, as if closing the door. Also the puranas it is stated that the person who enjoys with Radha eternally is called Rama. This refers to Krishna. The meanings of these names will be discussed again later.
The devotee at the stage of aspiring for prema performs chanting and remembering, while counting. He cultivates the spiritual form in the name through the meaning of the words while chanting. By constant chanting, very quickly all sins will disappear and the heart will become spotless. By constant chanting in namabhasa the transcendental name will appear naturally in the purified heart.3
There are two types of chanters, those practicing (sadhaka) and those who have attained perfection (siddha). The practitioners are again of two types, the preliminary and continuous. The preliminary practitioner starts to increase his chanting, until he constantly chants without break. When that is attained, it is called continuous. The preliminary devotee does not have a taste for chanting because of the bitter contamination of ignorance, but by constantly chanting rounds on tulasi beads, the devotee attains the continuous stage, where respect for the name grows. At that stage, the person does not want to give up chanting the name. By constantly chanting with respect, a taste for the name is born. At that time, sin, the seed of sin or desire, and the root, ignorance, are destroyed.
During the preliminary stage the devotee must eagerly strive to chant without offenses. It is absolutely necessary. This will happen only by avoiding bad association and taking instructions from the devotees.4 When the prelimiary stage is past, with constant chanting, taste for the name and compassion for the living entities increases. There is no need of assistance from karma, jnana or yoga. If their effects are still strong, they help the practitioner in maintaining his bodily existence. By chanting the name with concentrated mind in association of devotees, in a short time the heart becomes pure and ignorance is destroyed. As much as ignorance is destroyed, yukta vairagya and sambandha jnana make their appearance, and make the heart even more pure. This has been verified again and again by the learned devotees.
By chanting the name while understanding its meaning and praying to Krishna with tears in the eyes, gradually, by Krishna's mercy, the chanting will advance. If this method is not followed, it will take many lifetimes to reach perfection, as with karma and jnana.
Those who chant are of two types: bhara vahi (load bearer) and sara grahi (essence drinker). Those who are attached to the material world, to bhukti and mukti, become taxed with the heavy burden of trying to attain dharma, artha, kama, and moksa. They do not know about the essence which is prema. Thus these people, though they labor hard, do not become spiritual elevated by the chanting. Those who understand the essence aim for prema and very quickly attain their desired end. These are the devotees aspiring for prema. They will very quickly attain prema and become natural paramahamsas, drinking the nectar continuously. If the load-bearer learns to appreciate the essence, then he too can quickly become an aspirant of prema.5
On the strength of performing many actions favorable to devotion over many lifetimes, faith in the process of bhakti eventually arises. This faith, through association of devotees, yields taste (ruci). By chanting in the association of pure devotees, sadhana bhakti directed towards prema arises. If, by the mercy of those pure devotees, he accepts the correct practice of chanting, very quickly he comes to the stage of aspiring for prema.
If however, he takes instruction from a mixed devotee or a semi-devotee, it will be difficult for him to attain prema. He cannot become a fully surrendered devotee. As sinful impressions still influence him, he does not appreciate the pure devotees; crookedness appears and his heart becomes deceptive. In this condition the practitioner must spend many births as a neophyte, a kanisthadhikari. Though the kanisthadhikari has faith, it is very tender, swayed often by temptations. The devotees and guru with whom he associates are of the same type. In order to remove the fickleness from the heart he must learn the process of deity worship from an authorized guru. By performing this deity worship a long time, faith in the name will develop. When faith in the name develops, he starts chanting the name in good association.6
There is a different process for those fortunate souls who have exclusive faith in the name of Krishna from the beginning of life. By Krishna's mercy they take shelter of a guru fully experienced with the potencies of the name.7 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has defined the qualities of such as guru.8 Although there is no absolute necessity of a diksa guru for learning about the name,9 having some one who can teach the name is also natural. The syllables of the name can be obtained from anywhere, but the deep truths about the name are revealed by the mercy of a pure devotee guru. By the mercy of guru, a devotee can surpass the stage of namabhasa and protect himself from offenses.
He who take up chanting seriously is, from the beginning, a madhyamadhikari, as he has understood the real spiritual nature of the name. He practically has no namabhasa, and may be considered an aspirant from prema. He expresses prema to Krishna, friendship with the pure devotees, mercy to the new devotees, and indifference to those who are inimical to the Lord or his deity form. Because the kanisthadhikari cannot judge the comparative qualification of devotees, he is in a pitiable condition. The madhyama adhikari aspiring for prema, by treating three types of vaishnavas in three different ways, very quickly comes to the stage of having achieved prema (premarudha).10 The madhyamadhikari is worthy of association.
The madhyamadhikari increases his chanting day and night till he chants 174 rounds a day. The chanting gives him such bliss that he cannot exist without it. Though he cannot count his rounds while sleeping and performing other bodily functions, he chants at those times without counting. He mediates on the meaning of the names as described by Gopala Guru Goswami, and gradually all the sinful tendencies of man become subdued. Then he experiences the name's true nature, filled with supreme bliss.11 When the name's nature becomes clear, Krishna's spiritual form appears along with the name. With the presence of the pure name in his chanting, along with Krishna's presence, the material modes are vanquished and pure sattva, that is, all Krishna's non-material qualities appear. According to the purity of the chanting, and the appearance Krishna's form, and qualities together with the name, the Lord's pastimes will appear by the Lord's mercy in the pure heart of the devotee who has awakened his natural spiritual vision. When the tongue glorifies the Lord with counted or uncounted names, the mind sees Krishna's form, the heart perceives Krishna's qualities and the soul in trance sees Krishna's pastimes.12
There are five states of advancement for the practitioner of the name: sravana dasa, varana dasa, smarana dasa, apana dasa and prapana dasa.13 Sravana dasa is that blissful stage when a person hears from a qualified guru about sadhana and sadhya. At that time the devotee hears about how to chant without offense,14 how to chant for achieving perfection, and how to become qualified for the name. At this stage the devotee develops continuous chanting of the name.
When the devotee becomes qualified to receive the set of beads strung with prema derived from chanting the name, when the disciple with great satisfaction receives from the lotus feet of the guru the pure process of chanting and worshipping, and when the guru imparts his spiritual energy into him, he is said to have come to the varana dasa.
The activities of remembering the name are five: smarana (remembering, dhyana (concentration), dharana (meditation), dhruvanusmrti (absorption) and samadhi (trance). This constitutes smarana dasa. When remembrance of the name, concentration on the form, meditation on the qualities, absorption in the pastimes and finally entrance into the pastimes with taste of Krishna rasa in a trance-like state, are all accomplished the person reaches apana dasa. In the stages of smarana and apana the devotee practices remembrance of Krishna's pastimes which recur daily in eight parts of the day. When he becomes deeply absorbed in this, he attains svarupa siddhi, attainment of his spiritual form.15 These devotees are called natural paramahamsas.
By the mercy of Krishna when the devotee leaves his material body he becomes an associate in Vraja pastimes in his spiritual body. That is called vastu siddhi. This is the final result of chanting the name. It is called prapana dasa.
Should all the aspirants for prema (premaruruksu) leave family life and take sannyasa? A person should accept whatever asrama he judges as favorable for practice leading to prema_it may grhastha, vanaprastha or sannaysa asrama. If one asrama is unfavorable he should give that up.16 Examples of householders among Lord Chaitanya's associates are Shrivas Pandita, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, and Ramananda Raya. At the same time they were natural paramahamsas. In more ancient times also, there are many examples of householders, such as Rbhu, who were paramahamsas. However, Ramanuja Acarya, Svarupa Damodara Goswami, Madhavendra Puri, Hari Dasa Thakura, Sanatana Goswami and Raghunatha dasa Goswami, finding grhastha asrama unfavorable for chanting, gave it up and accepted sannyasa asrama.
rgbhir etam yajurbhir antariksam
samabhir yat tat kavayo vedayante
tam omkarenaivayatanenanveti vidvan
yat tac cantam ajaram amrtam abhayam param ceti
tesu satyam pratisthitam brahmano nama satyam
The wise men know the Lord through the rg, yajur and sama verses. The learned man attains the Supreme Lord, the abode of peace, without old age, death or fear, by syllable "om", which is a the base and shelter of the Lord. The absolute truth is situated in these things. The name of brahman is identical to the absolute truth. Prasnopanisad 5.7.
2 Omkara is everything. Omkara pervades everything. Meditating on omkara the wise man does not lament. He is a muni who knows omkara, not others.
Omkara is the avatara of the Supreme Lord in the form of sound. This means that the name of the Lord and the Lord are non-different. in the :surety is says: The name "om" is nearest to the Lord. Since the person who chants this name surpasses fear of material existence it is called "tara".
Bhagavat Sandarbha 48
3 The holy name, character, pastimes and activities of Krishna are all transcendentally sweet like sugar candy. Although the tongue of one afflicted by the jaundice of avidya cannot taste anything sweet, it is wonderful that simply by carefully chanting these sweet names every day, a natural relish awakens within his tongue, and his disease is gradually destroyed at the root. Upadesamrta 7
4 Nevertheless, until by firmly practicing devotional service to Me one has completely eliminated from his mind all contamination of material passion, one must very carefully avoid associating with the material modes, which are produced by My illusory energy. S.B.11.28.27
Self-controlled persons who are attached to the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna can all of a sudden give up the world of material attachment, including the gross body and subtle mind, and go away to attain the highest perfection of the renounced order of life, by which nonviolence and renunciation are consequential. S.B.1.18.22
5 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
6 Mantras are actually composed of the names of the Supreme Lord. Mantras are distinct from the name because they include the word 'namah' and have special powers which are given by the rsis and the Lord Himself. However, the names of the Lord in themselves, being independent, are even able to bestow the highest goal of existence, Krishna prema. Thus the names are more suitable than mantras.
Bhakti Sandarbha 284
7 The devotee of Vishnu or Krishna who bestows knowledge is guru. He is worthy of worship like Vishnu Himself. Being knowledgeable of scripture, he should be worshipped by body mind and words. If he teaches just one verse about the Lord, His spiritual name, qualities and pastimes, he is worshipable. Narada Pancaratra, Bhakti Sandarbha 710
8 Whether one is a brahmana, sannyasi or a sudra--regardless of what he is--he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna. C.C.Madhya 8.127
9 na diksam na ca satkriyam na ca purascaryam manag iksate
mantro'yam rasanaspg eva phalati shri krishna namatmakah
Mantras composed of Krishna's names give results without diksa, and other purificatory rites required for receiving mantras.
10 A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prakrta bhakta, a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position. S.B.11.2.47
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
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 undeviating devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others. Upadesamrta 5
11 Yat tattvam shri vigraha rupena caksuradav udayate tad eva nama rupena vagadav iti sthitam tasman nama naminoh svarupabhedena tat saksatkare tat saksatkara eva
The devotee realizes through the name by the voice etc. whatever he realizes of the Lord in the form of the deity with his eyes. The name and Krishna are understood to be the same.
Bhakti Sandarbha 101
12 First one must purify the heart by hearing the name. After purification, there will arise the form of the Lord by hearing of the form of Krishna. When the form manifests itself, then qualities of Krishna manifest. After the name, form and qualities have manifested, the pastimes of the Lord also manifest.
Bhakti Sandarbha 256
14 When a diseased eye is treated with medicinal ointment it gradually recovers its power to see. Similarly, as a conscious living entity cleanses himself of material contamination by hearing and chanting the pious narrations of My glories, he regains his ability to see Me, the Absolute Truth, in My subtle spiritual form. S.B.11.14.26
15 A person who gives up all fruitive activities and offers himself entirely unto Me, eagerly desiring to render service unto Me, achieves liberation from birth and death and is promoted to the status of sharing My own opulences. S.B.11.29.34
Unalloyed devotees, who have no desire other than to serve the Lord, worship Him in full surrender and always hear and chant about His activities, which are most wonderful and auspicious. S.B.8.3.20
16 Even if one is liberated, he nevertheless accepts the body he has received according to his past karma. Without misconceptions, however, he regards his enjoyment and suffering due to that karma the way an awakened person regards a dream he had while sleeping. He thus remains steadfast and never works to achieve another material body under the influence of the three modes of material nature. S.B.5.1.16
The goal of the devotee aspiring for Prema
When the devotee, by the mercy of guru and Krishna, obtains the seed of the devotional creeper, or faith in the principles of bhakti, he should with great care see that the creeper bears fruit. Mahaprabhu used one simile to teach this to Rupa Goswami at Prayaga.1 The person performing sadhana or practice plants the seed of bhakti in his own heart. His heart is described as a field. Before planting a seed in the field, it is necessary first plough the field to make suitable for sowing and raising the plant. The fortunate soul receives from the true guru instructions to give up the quest for material enjoyment, liberation and yogic powers. By following the instructions carefully the devotee cleans the field. This is the result of association of devotees. He will consider himself lower than a blade of grass and become more tolerant than a tree. Without pride, he gives respect to all living entities. Having developed this nature, he is qualified for the name.2 This practice is like preparing the field for planting. As if subduing a wild horse, the devotee must trick the mind into submission.3 This is called yukta vairagya. This is helpful in gaining advancement in chanting; dry renunciation is not useful.
The creeper of devotion gradually grows by the watering process of hearing, chanting, remembering and other devotional activities. The spiritual nature of the creeper is that it cannot be limited to the material world. In an instant, the creeper transcends the fourteen material realms, crosses the Viraja, pierces the effulgence of brahman and arrives in the spiritual world. The nature of a spiritual substance is that it transcends the material realm. When the devotee achieves real knowledge of the spiritual world and his own identity by overall effort and eagerness, that knowledge leads the soul and the creeper to the spiritual realm beyond matter, and then to Goloka Vrndavana, in the upper portion of the spiritual sky. Attaining the desire tree of Krishna's lotus feet, the creeper spreads out and bears the fruits of prema. In this place the gardener continuously waters the plant with hearing and chanting. Once the creeper has crossed over the Viraja there is no fear of it decaying. As long as the creeper is bound in the material world made of prakrti, mahattattva, ahankara, form, taste, smell, touch, sound, the five knowledge gathering senses, the five senses of action , the mind, earth, water, fire air ether, goodness, passion and ignorance, there are obstacles to its growth. When it attains the spiritual world, by the strength of its own nature, it cannot be broken or cut, and it ascend higher.
As long as it is in the material realm, the gardener must be careful of two things. Firstly he must be careful to avoid offense to vaishnavas, for, like an elephant in the garden, it will squash the creeper.4 To prevent this he must build a wall built of strong chanting apart from the worldly people and shelter of devotees. This menace will be prevented by a association of pure devotees. Secondly, the bigger the plant grows, the more the likelihood that weeds will spring up along with the creeper due to bad association. Desire for enjoyment, desire for liberation, committing sinful activities, duplicity, deceit, cheating, violence, self acquisition, desire for respect, desire for position and many other weeds may grow in the garden.5 By the water of hearing and chanting, these weeds may grow in size and stunt the growth of the creeper of devotion. All these weeds start from association with people inclined to material enjoyment and liberation. It is commonly seen that the devotee falls from his position due to bad association. Therefore the gardener according to the instructions of the guru, must cut down all such weeds as soon as they grow up. By doing this the main plant, the creeper of bhakti will quickly grow and enter the spiritual world Vrndavana. There the fruit of prema ripens and there the gardener remains and relishes the fruit. Taking support of this creeper the particle spirit soul gardener attains the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna. Serving that desire tree, the gardener tastes the fruit of prema, the goal of human life.
The aspirant for prema following the above method of chanting, hearing and remembering the name, becomes pure in heart and attains bhava. Along with the appearance of bhava, the devotee becomes qualified for rasa. In Krishna's pastimes all rasas are supremely sweet. Santa, dasya, sakhya and vatsalya all have their particular excellence. Corresponding to their different qualities, the devotees enter a particular rasa. According to Mahaprabhu, madhura rasa is most worshipable. For this rasa, there must be loyalty to Radha, otherwise there will be no taste. The form of eternity, knowledge and bliss is the supreme entity. Krishna is the form of eternity and knowledge and Radha is the form bliss. Radha and Krishna are thus one entity, but to distribute rasa they take two forms. Radha and Candravali are the best among all the gopis and Radha is the best of all.6
It was observed in the discussion about raganuga sadhana bhakti that the person who is greedy for the mood of the inhabitants of Vraja performs his sadhana following after them with devotion. Thus the aspirant for prema must learn the process for gaining entrance to the eternal pastimes of Radha and Krishna by the mercy of his guru. The devotee aspiring for madhura rasa , by meditating on his identity as a gopi, attains entrance to the entourage of Radha. One should not think that it is impossible that a person performing sadhana with a male body can be a gopi in his meditation. All souls are the marginal energy of Krishna. Male and female of the gross body are illusory conceptions, which originate in the subtle body. The eternal pure body of the soul is spiritual, without a distinction of male or female.7 This spiritual body has free will, and is impelled by pure desire. When a particular spiritual sentiment arises in relation to Krishna, it produces a male or female body for the soul. In santa rasa, the body is neuter. In madhura rasa all the souls have pure female forms, who worship one male, Krishna.
Which rasa the soul has is determined by the soul's innermost tendency of taste. When faith in the chanting process arises, according to his taste he will gravitate to his own rasa. Determining that rasa, the guru will give him suitable initiation for carrying out his worship.
Prema predominated by madhura rasa is described in the Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad.8 Krishna is the all in all of madhura rasa, but only by the mercy of Radha can a person attain relationship with Krishna in this rasa. Having attained the mercy of guru, if the devotee remembers the pastimes of Radha and Krishna while recollecting the mood of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the feeling of madhurya will appear. Even though the continuous sadhaka dwells in a material body in the material world, by internal process he will meditate on his eternal spiritual body by the mercy of guru. Through continuous meditation on serving Radha Krishna in their daily eightfold pastimes, he will finally identify completely with that spiritual body.9 That is called svarupa siddhi, attainment of spiritual body.
The aspirant should meditate as follows: I am a follower of Lalita in the entourage of Radha; I am the follower of Rupa Manjari; I live in Yavat grama, with a wonderful body full of knowledge and bliss, impelled by strong desire, overflowing with rasa; my complexion is bright gold; a youthful servant of Radha and Krishna. For practicing this meditation on spiritual form there are eleven items of identity: name, form, age, cloth, relationship, entourage, order, service, parakastha, palyadasi and abode.10 The devotee should continuously meditate on his spiritual form endowed with these eleven particular details, until he achieves complete identity with it. From this identity will arise a clear realization of his eternal service. Living in the material world continues only by habit, and only until death. He will consider protection, maintenance and nourishment of his body only insofar as they are favorable for his practice.
When the devotee has a greed for practicing raganuga, he should request his guru. The guru, after examining the devotee's taste, will determine his particular type of worship and instruct him all about his spiritual body. According to this revelation, the devotee aspiring for prema, should live near the guru in order to obtain all knowledge of the subject, and then, residing in his own place, he should with great effort and eagerness, practice his worship. By continuously remembering the identity equipped with name and form given by the guru, he will attain identity with it. This identity is called svarupa siddhi or atma jnana. The stages of glorifying and remembering Krishna's name, form, qualities and pastimes which were mentioned becomes at this time fully manifest. The purpose of all these practices is enter into the eternal name, form, qualities and pastimes of Radha and Krishna by forming a relationship with them, through meditation on ones own spiritual identity.
When the creeper of devotion crosses the Viraja, pierces the brahman and ascends to the lotus feet of Krishna in Goloka Vrndavana at the top of the spiritual world, the devotee, gardener, climbing that creeper of bhakti also enters into the spiritual world. Some devotee writers have said that svarupa siddhi means taking birth in the house of a cowherd in Vraja, before the completion of sadhana. This is not untrue. This is understood to be the second birth before the final attainment of vastu siddhi by the devotee. Attaining in this way a body of a gopi, the devotee attains pure second birth, or apana dasa. When the devotee at this stage gives up the material body, the devotee progresses from svarupa siddhi to vastu siddhi. With the full blossoming of remembrance of Krishna's name, form, qualities and pastimes, the devotee attains eternal Vrndavana. The subtle difference between the manifest Vrndavan on earth and Goloka Vrndavana,11 can be understood from Sanatana Gosvami's Brhad Bhagavatamrta.
It has been described that in the transcendental world there are no modes of passion or ignorance, or goodness mixed with them. There is no passage of time. There is no influence of maya.12 Krishna and his associates live there eternally. How can this be? We see that though Krishna's abode is situated above brahman, it is the place of eternal pastimes taking place during eight parts of the day. Distinctions, place and time are present there. How astounding! From the Vedas and Puranas, it is understood that whatever exists in the material world exists as well eternally in the spiritual world, but without any blemish. The material world is but a reflection of the spiritual world. In this world everything is contaminated by the touch of maya. But in the spiritual world, because maya and the modes of nature do not exists, everything is faultless. Everything there is in the pure mode of goodness. Time and place have this quality. Krishna's activities are beyond maya, beyond the three modes of nature, nirguna. To nourish the rasa of the pastimes there is faultless time, place, space, water and other elements. Thus in that spiritual time, without the influence of material time, Krishna performs pastimes in eight periods of the day: at the end of night, in the early morning, in late morning, at noon, in the afternoon, at dusk, in the evening, and in the night. The succession of Krishna's pastimes taking place during periods of day and night nourish the unbroken rasa.
Whatever pastimes occur by Krishna's eternal will in Gokula Vrndavana (on earth) also occur in Goloka Vrndavana. In the Padma Purana it is written that Narada asked his guru Sadasiva, "Oh Lord, I have heard everything that I wanted to know, but now I wish to hear about the supreme path of bhava." Lord Siva said, "Oh Narada, all of Krishna's servants, friends, mother and father, and his beloved gopis possess all good qualities. They are all eternal. Whatever pastimes of the spiritual world have been described in the Puranas are also present eternally in Vrndavana on earth within the cycle of material time. Going to and coming from the forests or pastures and herding cows with his friends are the same in both places. But the killing of demons that occurs in the earthly pastimes is present in the spiritual world only as a conception for nourishing the rasas. That thought takes an active form of killing demons in the pastimes of the material world. Krishna's gopis give pleasure to Krishna in secret with the belief that they are the wives of someone else. Those who want to serve Krishna as the gopis do must think of themselves as having similar form and qualities.
Narada said, " How do those who have not realized the spiritual pastimes serve the Lord in that way?" Sadasiva replied, " Oh Narada, in truth, I do not know those pastimes. My conception of having a male body is an obstacle. If you go to Vrnda devi, she will tell you Vrnda devi lives near Kesi tirtha along with many gopi servants of Krishna." Narada went to her and asked, "Oh Devi, If I am qualified, please tell me about Krishna's daily pastimes."
Siva has here taught how the practitioner should meditate.
1 C.C.Madhya 19.151-168
2 Sistastaka 3, Upadesamrta 1
3 Whenever the mind, being concentrated on the spiritual platform, is suddenly deviated from its spiritual position, one should carefully bring it under the control of the self by following the prescribed means. S.B.11.20.19
4 Being situated in his original Krishna conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee's having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming effects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes drought in the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water. Upadesamrta 6
(It is vaishnava aparadha if a person sees fault in the pure devotee due to low birth, previous mistakes, accidental mistakes, bodily disfigurement, the influence of previous mistakes, conduct contrary to smarta rules, improper conduct, old age or sickness.)
5 Mana siksa, Raghunatha Gosvami
6 tatrapi sarvatha sresthe radha candravality ubhe
tayor api ubhayor madhye radhika sarvathadhika
7 balagra sata bhagasya satadha kalpitasya ca
bhago jivah sah vijneyah sa canantaya kalpate
naiva stri na puman esa na caivayam napumsaka
yad yac chariram adatte tena tena sa raksyate
If one divides a tip of hair into a hundred parts and again into a hundred parts he can understand the size of the jiva. The jiva is not woman, nor man, nor neuter, but covered by various material bodies.
Svetasvatara Upanisad 5.9.10
Covered by the mode of ignorance in material nature, the living entity is sometimes a male, sometimes a female, sometimes a eunuch, sometimes a human being, sometimes a demigod, sometimes a bird, an animal and so on. In this way he is wandering within the material world. His acceptance of different types of bodies is brought about by his activities under the influence of the modes of nature. S.B.4.29.29
8 tad yatha priyaya striya samparisvakto na bahyam kincana veda nantaram evayam purusah
prajnanenatmana samparisvakto na bahyam kinca veda nantaram
As a man embraced by a woman loses consciousness of outside and inside, so a person embraced by the Lord loses consciousness of outside and inside.
9 B.R.S. 1.22.93, Bhajana Paddhati by Dhyanacandra
10 One should take the name of a manjari. One should take a form which is suitable for serving Radha, that is an attractive body of a gopi. The age may vary, but the gopis during the kaisora age, thirteen years, is famous. According the body, the gopi should have attractive colored cloth such as blue and various ornaments. The relationship is that of the served and the servitor. The gopi is always subservient to the group she identifies with. the orders are those given by the leader of the group. The service may be waving camara, fan etc.
Bhajana Paddhati Dhyanacandra
11 yatha kridati tad bhumau goloke'pi tathaiva sah
adah urdhvataya bhedor anayoh kalpita kevalam
The Lord enacts his pastimes on this earth as He does in Goloka. The differences of the two pastimes are due to the natures of the material and spiritual worlds.
12 In that personal abode of the Lord, the material modes of ignorance and passion do not prevail, nor is there any of their influence in goodness. There is no predominance of the influence of time, so what to speak of the illusory, external energy; it cannot enter that region. Without discrimination, both the demigods and the demons worship the Lord as devotees. S.B.2.9.10
Description of the 8 fold pastimes
(The proper faith in these activities mentioned in the scriptures cannot be created through modern translation. As the words of the Purana are simple, the reader will not have difficulty in understanding. By reading them regularly the devotee will derive great benefit. Therefore the descriptions from the Padma Purana Patala Khanda are given here in sanskrt. For many reasons translation is not given.)
Not everyone is qualified to read the daily pastimes of Radha and Krishna. It is esoteric knowledge of great wonder which must be kept secret. The devotee should not let those who are not qualified hear these topics. As long as the soul has not attained greed for the spiritual world on the path of raga, the description of these pastimes must be kept hidden from him. As long as the person has no realization of the pure spiritual nature of the transcendental name, form, qualities and pastimes of Krishna, he has no qualification for hearing these pastimes.
Hearing these pastimes, the unqualified person will simply meditate on material relationships of male and female, under the influence of maya, and by this he will become degraded. The reader, with great care should attain initiation into the srngara rasa like Narada, and then he can enter the pastimes. Otherwise material logic will cast the heart into darkness. Those who are qualified should read and meditate on the descriptions of the pastimes daily. This will remove all sin and bestow the spiritual mood. The pastimes are human-like, but though they appear worldly, they are amazingly spiritual for the person possessing all power and all good qualities.
Using these pastimes, Govinda Lilamrta and many other works have been written. The qualified person, on reading them, experiences bliss. By understand the srngara rasa which is discussed in the next chapter the raganuga devotee, meditating on the excellent pastimes, performs his eternal service to the Lord. This constitutes his daily worship. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed that the devotee should consider carefully the following verse from five chapters on rasa lila from the Bhagavatam. The word faith here means faith in non-material objects.
Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord's playful affairs with the young gopis of Vrndavana will attain the Lord's pure devotional service. Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart.
Krishna's activities are of two types: daily and occasional. In Goloka all the eightfold pastimes unfold daily. In the earthly pastimes, occasional pastimes are joined to the eightfold pastimes. Krishna's coming to and going from Vraja and his killing of the demons are occasional pastimes. They are unavoidable for the devotee still living in the material world. Those occasional pastimes are present in Goloka in an indirect way, but are actually present only in the material world. These occasional pastimes, which are unfavorable for the practice of meditating on the daily pastimes, are given a symbolic significance . By remembering those pastimes the devotee aspires to destroy his own sinful conduct.
Putana represents the fake guru who teaches bhukti and mukti, material enjoyment and liberation. Devotees attached to bhukti and mukti are like Putana. Being merciful to the pure devotees, Krishna as a baby, killed Putana to protect the devotees' newly appearing affection for him.
The cart represents the load produced by old and recently acquired bad habits, by laxity and by pride. The mood created by thinking of baby Krishna breaks the cart, or removes this evil.
The whirlwind demon represents pride in being learned, and the consequent use of faulty arguments and dry logic, the quest for liberation, and association with such people. This includes all types atheists believing in material causality. Being merciful on seeing the affection for the devotee to Him baby Krishna kills that whirlwind and removes the obstacles to worship.
Pride stemming from intoxication with wealth, which breeds violence, illicit sex and addiction to wine, and finally loose speaking and shameless brutality to other living beings, is represented by the Yamala Arjuna trees. Krishna, being merciful, removes this sin in breaking the Yamala Arjuna trees.
Being controlled by greed and the sinful activities caused by it are represented by Vatsasura. By Krishna's mercy this fault is vanquished.
False dealing due to deceit and cheating are represented by Bakasura. Without eliminating this, pure bhakti does not appear.
The sinful mentality to do violence to others is represented by Aghasura. This tendency must be removed. It is one of the offenses.
Skepticism due to practicing jnana and karma and disregard for the sweetness of Krishna from attachment to the Lord's majestic aspect are presented by Brahma when he was put into illusion by Krishna.
Complete ignorance of spiritual truth, originating from material intelligence, lack of spiritual intuition and foolishness, which is contrary to spiritual knowledge, is represented by Dhenuka.
Pride, deceit, harming others, cruelty, represented by Kaliya must be given up by the devotee.
Any type of conflict such as argument, disagreement with other sampradayas, malice to devatas, fighting are represented by the forest fire.
Pralambasura represents lust for women, greed, desire for worship and position. These must also be given up.
The forest fire which Krishna swallowed represents the obstacles that atheists create against dharma and preachers of dharma.
The brahmanas performing yajna represent indifference to Krishna caused by identity with varnasrama or absorption in karma khanda.
Worship of Indra signifies worship of many gods, or worship of self as God.
Varuna symbolizes intoxicants. Some people mistakenly think that liquor will increase spiritual bliss. Such thinking must be given up.
The snake which attempted to swallow Nanda Maharaja represents Mayavada and similar philosophies which try to swallow up the real nature of bhakti. Mayavada association must be avoided.
Sankhacuda symbolizes desire for fame and desire for women.
Aristasura the bull demon symbolizes disregard for bhakti and attraction for cheating religion.
The illusion of being a great devotee or acarya, is represented by Kesi. Lording it over others and material pride must be given up.
Vyomasura represents thieves and fake devotees.
In the Eighth Chapter of Shri Krishna Samhita from the thirteenth verse to the end of the chapter, the eighteen anarthas which are obstacles to Vraja bhajana have been mentioned. Adding to this the pride of wealth represented by the Yamala arjuna trees and the pride of performance of karma represented by the brahmanas, it becomes twenty obstacles. These twenty are unfavorable for Vraja bhajana. The serious chanter should first address the Lord and pray to him for the power to give up these unfavorable items. By doing this the heart becomes purified. If the devotee prays humbly to Krishna to remove all the obstacles in the heart which are represented by the demons He killed, He will certainly do so. All the obstacles represented by the demons whom Balarama killed can be removed by the efforts of the devotee himself.
Here is the secret of Vraja bhajana. Dhenukasura represents the bad mentality which carries heavy loads. Pralamba represents lust for women, greed and desire for worship and position. The devotee must remove these obstacles by his own efforts with the mercy of Krishna. Dhenukasura means ignorance of ones own spiritual identity (svarupa), the identity of the Name and the identity of Krishna. With great endeavor the devotee himself removes these obstacles. Pralamba represents lust for man or woman, greed for material objects, endeavor for material enjoyment, pride, desire for worship and position. Understanding these to be very detrimental to progress, the devotee should make great effort to remove them. If his humility is true, certainly Krishna will be merciful. Then Baladeva will make his appearance, and all the obstacles will be destroyed in a second. Then, step by step, progress in cultivation of bhakti will take place. As this process is by nature very esoteric, the devotee, being spotless in character, should learn it from a qualified guru.