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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Jaiva Dharma > Chapter-19

Chapter Nineteen

Nitya-dharma O Sambandhabhidheya Prayojana (Prameyantar-gata Abhidheya-vicara)

Eternal Religion and Sambandha, Abhidheya, and Prayojana (Abhidheya)



     After finishing his meal, Vrajanatha went to bed. Again and again in his heart he thought about simultaneous oneness and difference. He thought, "I used to think that the philosophy of inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference was only one of many competing philosophies. As he deeply thought about it he concluded that no passages of scripture refuted it. Indeed, all the scriptures supported it. Shri Gaura-kishora is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. There cannot be any fault with His profound teachings. I cannot leave the shelter of Lord Gaura-kishora's feet, which are the abode of spiritual love. Alas! What have I attained thus far? the teaching of inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference is the truth. That much I know. But by knowing it what have I attained? The saintly babaji told me that spiritual love is the final goal of life for all souls. The fruitive workers (karmis) and impersonalists (jnanis) are all searching for love, but they do not know what is the pure state of love. One must attain the pure state of love. I will ask the saintly babaji how to attain it. I will hear his conclusion." Again and again thinking in this way, he gradually fell asleep.

     It was late at night when Vrajanatha finally fell asleep and it was late in the morning when he finally awakened. He got up from bed. When he had washed and performed his morning duties, his uncle Vijaya-kumara Bhattacarya Mahashaya arrived for a visit. Seeing that he had come after may days in Shri Modadruma, Vrajanatha at once offered dandavat obeisances to his uncle.

     Vijaya-kumara was especially learned in Shrimad-Bhagavatam. By the mercy of Shrimati Narayani-devi, he had attained great love for Lord Gauranga. Nowadays he went from place to place reading aloud from Shrimad-Bhagavatam. At the village of Denuda-grama he personally met Shri Vrindavana dasa Thakura, who advised him to visit Shri Mayapura, the inconceivable spiritual abode of the Lord. Vrindavana dasa Thakura told him that soon all the places of Lord Mahaprabhu's pastimes would become hidden, and only after four hundred years would they again be openly manifested. He also said that the places of Lord Chaitanya's pastimes are not different from Shri Vrindavana, and that only a person who can see the spiritual nature of Shri Mayapura and the other places of Lord Chaitanya's pastimes has the power to see Vrindavana as it truly is. Hearing these words of Shri Vrindavana dasa Thakura, who is an incarnation of Shrila Vyasadeva, Vijaya-kumara became very eager to see Shri Mayapura. In his mind he decided to visit his sister and nephew in Bilva-pushkarini, and then visit Shri Mayapura. In those days Bilva-pushkarini and Brahmana-pushkarini touched each other. Nowadays they are far apart. In those days the boundary of Bilva-pushkarini was within a mile of holy Shri Mayapura. That abandoned village of Bilva-pushkarini now goes by the names "Tota" and “Taranabasa".

     Vijaya-kumara embraced his nephew and said, "Baba, now I will go to visit Shri Mayapura. Please tell your mother that I will return for lunch." Vrajanatha replied, "Uncle, why are you going to visit Shri Mayapura?" Vijaya-kumara was not aware of Vrajanatha's present condition, how he had abandoned the study of nyaya-shastra and become an ardent student of Vedanta. Therefore he thought it not appropriate to describe his devotional activities to Vrajanatha. He simply said, "I want to visit someone in Mayapura." Aware that his uncle was a devotee of Lord Gauranga and a scholar of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and thinking that his uncle must have a spiritual purpose in visiting Shri Mayapura, Vrajanatha said, "A very faithful Vaishnava named Shri Raghunatha dasa Babaji Mahashaya resides in Shri Mayapura. Please speak with him when you make your visit." Hearing Vrajanatha's words, Vijaya-kumara said, "Baba, now you have faith in the Vaishnavas? I heard that you had abandoned nyaya and turned to Vedanta. Now I can understand that you have entered the path of devotional service. I no longer need to conceal things from you. Vrindavana dasa Thakura has ordered me to visit the holy abode of Shri Mayapura. In my mind I have decided to bathe in the Ganges at Shri Mayapura-ghata, see and circumambulate the yoga-pitha, and once roll about in the dust from the Vaishnavas' feet at Shrivasa's courtyard." Vrajanatha said, “Uncle, please be kind and take me with you. I will take permission from mother, and we will both go to Shri Mayapura. After this conversation, Vrajanatha spoke to his mother, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara both left for Shri Mayapura. With great delight they both bathed in the Ganges. As they bathed, Vijaya-kumara said, "Nephew, today I am fortunate. Up till the age of twenty, Lord Shacinandana showed His mercy to Shri Ganga-devi by playing in the waters here. By bathing in these waters, I have become very happy." Melting with happiness to hear these encouraging words, Vrajanatha said, "Today I am fortunate, for today I am able to follow your feet." After bathing, they both went to Jagannatha Mishra's home. There they became decorated with streaming tears of great spiritual love. Vijaya-kumara said, "They who have taken birth in the land of Lord Gaura but have never touched this most sacred place have taken their birth in vain. That is not just an exaggeration. Look! With material eyes this looks like another ordinary place, a place of cottages made of leaves. By Lord Gauranga's mercy what glory do we see now! We see great jewel palaces, charming gardens, grand archways, and so many other glorious things! Look! How beautiful are the forms of Shri Gauranga-Vishnupriya in that palace! What beautiful forms!! Again and again speaking in this way, the uncle and nephew were both overwhelmed, stunned with ecstatic love. For a long time they were both overcome in this way. Finally some devotees helped them go to Shrivasa's courtyard. When they entered it, streams of tears flowed from their eyes. Rolling on the ground in Shrivasa's courtyard, they both called out, "O Shrivasa! O Advaita! O Nityananda! O Gadadhara-Gauranga! Please give Your mercy to us. Please take away our false pride. Please give us shelter of Your feet."

     Seeing the two brahmanas in this devotional mood, the Vaishnavas called out, "Glory to the moon of Mayapura! Glory to invincible Lord Gauranga! Glory to Lord Nityananda!" and danced. In a moment Vrajanatha offered his body at the feet of his worshipable master, Shri Raghunatha dasa. The elderly babaji picked him up, embraced him, and said, "Baba, why have you come at this time today? Who is the great soul accompanying you?" Vrajanatha humbly explained everything. The Vaishnavas gave them nice sitting places in the courtyard of the bakula tree. Then Vijaya-kumara humbly asked saintly Shri Raghunatha dasa Babaji, "O master, what is the real goal and need of all living entities?"


     Babaji: You are both great devotees. You have already attained the goal of life. Still, to show kindness to me, you have asked this question. As far as I know, I will speak. devotional service to Lord Krishna, devotional service that is free of any trace of fruitive work or impersonal speculation is both the final goal of life and the means to attain the goal of life. In its beginning stage it is called "sadhana-bhakti" and in its final, perfect stage, it is called "prema-bhakti".

     Vijaya-kumara: O saintly babaji, what different qualities does devotional service possess?

     Babaji: By Lord Mahaprabhu's order, Shrila Rupa Gosvami wrote the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, where the qualities of devotional service are described in these words (1.1.11):





anukulyena krishnanu-

     shilanam bhaktir uttama



     "One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Krishna favorably and without desire for material profit of gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service."*


     In this verse the direct and indirect qualities of pure d are described. Here the words "bhaktir uttama" mean “pure devotional service". Pure devotional service is never mixed with karma (fruitive activities) or jnana (impersonal speculation). When the desire for sense gratification is present, devotional service is mixed with fruitive activities. When the desire for impersonal liberation attained through philosophical speculation is present, devotional service is mixed with impersonal speculation. When the desire for sense gratification and impersonal liberation are completely absent, then devotional service is "uttama", or pure. Pure devotional service brings pure love of God as its result. What is devotional service? The direct qualities of devotional service are the endeavor to please Krishna with the activities of one's body, mind, and words, and also love for Lord Krishna within one's heart. The soul has certain powers of his own. However, when one attains the mercy of Lord Krishna and the mercy of a devotee, then Lord Krishna manifests His own internal potency (svarupa-shakti). It is then that the true nature of devotional service becomes manifested. In the present condition, the living entity's body, mind, and words are all material. If he works with the power of his own intelligence, his only attainment will be material knowledge and dry renunciation. He will not attain devotional service. However, if Lord Krishna's internal potency (svarupa-shakti) becomes manifested and is evenly slightly active, then pure devotional service is manifested also. Lord Krishna is the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (bhagavan). Activities meant to please Him are called devotional service. Jnana (impersonal speculation) and karma (fruitive work), which are meant to please Brahman and Paramatma, are not devotional service. Devotional service should be favorable (anukulya), meant to please Lord Krishna. If it is not favorable, devotional service cannot reach the perfect stage. The word "anukula" means “pleasing to Lord Krishna". In the stage of sadhana-bhakti, the activities of devotional service are to a certain extent gross and unrefined. In the stage of perfect devotional service, the activities of devotional service are freed from connection with the material world. In this way they are subtle and refined. In both stages the qualities of devotional service remain the same. Therefore that devotional service should be favorable (anukulyena) and directly to Lord Krishna (krishnanushilanam) are the direct qualities of devotional service. Now that the direct qualities have been described, we will describe the indirect qualities of devotional service. Shri Rupa Gosvami has mentioned two indirect qualities of devotional service. The first indirect quality is "anyabhilashita-shunyam (freedom from other desires), and the second indirect quality is "j{.sy 241}ana-karmady-anavritam" (freedom from impersonal speculation and fruitive work). In the heart any desire for something other than devotional service is antagonistic to devotional service. When jnana, karma, yoga, renunciation, and other things cover the heart, the situation is not favorable for devotional service. Therefore devotional service is pure when it is freed from these two obstacles and when it is favorable and directed to Lord Krishna.


     Vijaya-kumara: What is the special quality of devotional service? I mean to say, what are its specific characteristics?

     Babaji: Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains that pure devotional service has six specific characteristics. They are described in these words (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.1.13):



klesha-ghni shubhada moksha-

     laghuta-krit su-durlabha


     shri-krishnakarshani ca sa



     "There are six characteristics of pure devotional service, which are as follows: 1. Pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress, 2. Pure devotional service is the beginning of all auspiciousness, 3. Pure devotional service automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure, 4. Pure devotional service is rarely achieved, 5. Those in pure devotional service deride even the conception of liberation, and 6. Pure devotional service is the only means to attract Krishna."*


     Vijaya-kumara: How does pure devotional service bring immediate relief from all kinds of material distress?

     Babaji: Material distress has three causes: 1. papa (sins), 2. papa-bija (the seeds of sins), and 3. avidya (ignorance). The word "papa" (sins) refers to the activities that begin with "pataka" (sins), "maha-pataka" (great sins), and ati-pataka" (the greatest sins). When pure devotional service appears in the heart, sinful activities cannot remain there. The desire to commit sins is called "papa-bija" (the seeds of sins). When the heart is purified by performing devotional service, sinful desires cannot stay there. The individual soul's illusions are called "avidya". When pure devotional service is performed, the soul thinks "I am a servant of Lord Krishna." When that happens illusions about the soul's true identity cannot stay. When the effulgence of Bhakti-devi (the goddess of devotional service) enters the heart, sins, the seeds of sins, and the blinding darkness of ignorance all perish. Thus, when devotional service arrives, material distress is no longer seen. Therefore one of the characteristics of devotional service is that it brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress.

     Vijaya-kumara: How is pure devotional service is the beginning of all auspiciousness?

     Babaji: The word auspiciousness means: 1. love for all living entities, 2. all virtues, and 3. every kind of happiness. When pure devotional service arises in his heart, a person becomes decorated with these four virtues: 1. humility, 2. mercy, 3. pridelessness, and 4. giving honor to all others. The result of this is that the entire world loves him. Every virtue that exists among the living entities is spontaneously manifested within a person who is a devotee of the Lord. Devotional service also gives every kind of happiness. It gives material sense happiness, the happiness of attaining the qualityless impersonal liberation, all yogic perfections, sense gratification, liberation, and every other kind of happiness. However, the four kinds of devotees do not desire any of these kinds of happiness, for none of them can even approach the eternal bliss attained by engaging in devotional service.

     Vijaya-kumara: Why is it that persons engaged in pure devotional service deride even the conception of impersonal liberation?

     Babaji: When the happiness that comes from pleasing the Lord is even slightly manifested in one's heart, the happinesses obtained from material piety, material sense gratification, and impersonal liberation automatically become very insignificant.

     Vijaya-kumara: Why is pure devotional service rarely achieved?

     Babaji: Please try to understand this carefully. By following thousands and thousands of spiritual paths one will not easily attain devotional service. Lord Hari is not pleased by persons who strive for material sense gratification or impersonal liberation. To them He will not give devotional service. Therefore for the followers of these two paths devotional service is very rarely achieved. By following the path of impersonal speculation one may attain impersonal liberation, and by performing yajnas and other pious deeds one may easily attain material sense gratification, but by these means one will never become expert in the yoga of devotional service. One may follow thousands and thousands of such paths, but one will not attain devotional service to Lord Hari.

     Vijaya-kumara: How does pure devotional service automatically put one in transcendental pleasure?

     Babaji: Devotional service is filled with spiritual pleasure. It is an ocean of bliss. If all the material pleasures available in the troublesome material were added to its opposite, the pleasure of merging into the impersonal Brahman, and then multiplied by a hundred thousand million million, all that accumulated pleasure would not equal a single drop of the happiness of devotional service. Material senses pleasure is very insignificant, and impersonal Brahman pleasure is very dry. These two kinds of pleasure are very different from spiritual pleasure. Dissimilar things cannot be compared. The pleasure of devotional service is a deep ocean of bliss. Compared to it, the happiness of impersonal liberation is like a mud-puddle in a cow's hoofprint. Only persons who have tasted the pleasure of devotional service know what that pleasure is like. They cannot really describe that pleasure to others.

     Vijaya-kumara: How does pure devotional service attract Krishna?

     Babaji: When devotional service appears in someone's heart, Lord Krishna, who is controlled by love, becomes attracted to enter that heart along with all His associates. By no other way can Lord Krishna be brought under control.

     Vijaya-kumara: If devotional service is as you describe, then why do not all scripture scholars carefully engage in it?

     Babaji: The root of the matter is this: human intelligence and material logic are limited. Any human beings who tries with his limited intelligence to understand Lord Krishna and His devotional service, which are far beyond the boundary of the material world, will certainly fail. Lord Krishna and devotional service will remain far away from him. On the other hand, a person who because of past pious deeds now has a single drop of attraction to Krishna can easily understand devotional service. Aside from being fortunate in this way, no one can understand the truth of devotional service.

     Vijaya-kumara: Why is material logic useless in understand spiritual pleasure?

     Babaji: Material logic has no power to understand spiritual pleasure. In the Vedas (Katha Upanishad 1.2.9) it is said:



naisha tarkena



     "The Supreme cannot be understood by material logic."


     In the Vedanta-sutra (2.1.11) it is also said:






    "Transcendental topics cannot be understood by argument or logic."*


     In this way it is explained that material logic cannot be used to understand spiritual matters.


     Vrajanatha: Is there a stage in between sadhana-bhakti (devotional service in practice) and prema-bhakti (devotional service in pure love of God)?

     Babaji: Yes. There are three stages: sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti (devotional service in ecstasy), and prema-bhakti.

     Vrajanatha: What distinguishes sadhana-bhakti from the others?

     Babaji: The highest stage is prema-bhakti. As long as he remains imprisoned by the material senses, the soul's devotional activities are situated in sadhana-bhakti.

     Vrajanatha: You have explained that prema-bhakti is the eternal perfection, the highest stage. How is this highest stage attained?

     Babaji: One cannot attain that eternal perfection by his own efforts. In the beginning the stage called "sadhana" is manifested in the heart. Until the day when the eternal perfection appears of its own accord, one cannot force its presence. The eternal perfection must come of its own.

     Vrajanatha: Please explain more clearly.

     Babaji: Because it is manifested from the Lord's own internal potency (svarupa-shakti), prema-bhakti is eternally perfect. It is not manifested in the hearts of souls still imprisoned by matter. With the body, mind, and words one may endeavor to attain that eternal perfection in his heart, but as long as it is not attained, the devotee is situated in sadhana-bhakti.

     Vrajanatha: What are the qualities of sadhana-bhakti?

     Babaji: The nature of sadhana-bhakti is that it is a method of making the mind think of Lord Krishna.

     Vrajanatha: How many stages are present in sadhana-bhakti?

     Babaji: There are two stages: "vaidhi" and “raganuga".

     Vrajanatha: What is vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti?

     Babaji: Vaidhi is of two kinds. When one follows the rules given in the scriptures, his activities are called “vaidhi-pravritti". When by following the rules given in the scriptures a person attains devotional service, his activities are called "vaidhi-bhakti".

     Vrajanatha: Later I will ask about raganuga-bhakti. Now please tell me: What are the qualities of vaidhi-bhakti?

     Babaji: Activities the scriptures say should be performed are called "vidhi". Activities the scriptures say should not be performed are called "nishedha". To do what should be done and avoid what is forbidden is called “vaidha-dharma".

     Vrajanatha: From your words I have understood that “vaidha" means "following the rules of all the “dharma-shastras" (scriptures). However, it is very difficult for the living entity to determine from these scriptures exactly what should be done and what is forbidden. Therefore, please briefly summarize the scriptures rules of what should be done and what is forbidden.

     Babaji: In the Padma Purana it is said:



smartavyah satatam vishnur

     vismartavyo na jatucit

sarve vidhi-nishedhah syur

     etayor eva kinkarah



     "Krishna is the origin of Lord Vishnu. He should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the shastras (scriptures) should be the servants of these two principles."*


     One should always remember Lord Vishnu. That is the root of all rules. The duties of varnashrama-dharma are mean to follow that rule of always remembering Lord Vishnu. One should never forget Lord Vishnu. That is the root of all prohibitions.  Avoidance of sin, abandonment of materialism, penance for sins committed in the past, and other like prohibitions are meant to follow this prohibition: that one should never forget Lord Vishnu. Therefore the rules and prohibitions described in the scriptures are the servants of the rule to remember Lord Vishnu and the prohibition to never forget Him. Therefore the rules of varnashrama and other like rules are meant to enable one to always remember Lord Vishnu. This is described in the following words of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.2-3):




     purushasyashramaih saha

catvaro jajnire varna

     gunair vipradayah prithak



     "From the mouth of Brahma, the brahminical order has come into existence. Similarly, from his arms, the kshatriyas  have come, from his waist the vaishyas have come, and from his legs the shudras have come. These four orders and their spiritual counterparts (brahmacarya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa) combine to make human society complete.*



ya esham purusham sakshad-

     atma-prabhavam ishvaram

na bhajanty avajananti

     sthanad bhrashtah patanty adhah



     "If one simply maintains an official position in the four varnas and ashramas but does not worship the Supreme Lord Vishnu, he falls down from his puffed-up position into a hellish condition."*


     Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains that among the human beings who follow the rules of scripture, some have faith in devotional service. These are the persons qualified to engage in devotional service. These persons are not attracted to following rules fro their own sake, and neither are they attracted to renunciation for its own sake. Following the rules of ordinary civilized life and at the same time full of faith in devotional service, they engage in sadhana-bhakti. This engagement in sadhana-bhakti is the result of many lifetimes of pious deeds. Faithful persons thus engaged in devotional service are divided into three groups: 1. uttama (advanced), 2. madhyama (intermediate), and 3. kanishtha (neophyte).

     Vrajanatha: In Bhagavad-gita (7.16) it is said that the devotees are of four kinds: 1. arta (the distressed), 2. jijnasu (the inquisitive), 3. artharthi (the desirer of wealth), and 4. jnani (he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute). How are these persons eligible to engage in devotional service?

     Babaji: When the attain the association of saintly devotees, these four kinds of persons, the arta, jijnasu, artharthi, and jnani develop faith in unalloyed devotional service. Then they become qualified to engage in devotional service. Gajendra, Shaunaka Rishi, Dhruva, the four Kumaras, and many others may be cited here as examples of this.

     Vrajanatha: Why are the devotees not eager for liberation?

     Babaji: Of the five kinds of liberationsalokya (to live on the same planet as the Lord), sarshti (to have the same opulences as the Lord), samipya (to have constant association with the Lord), sarupya (to obtain the same bodily features as the Lord), and sayujya (to become one with the Lord)only sayujya is openly opposed to the principles of devotional service. Therefore the devotees of Lord Krishna never accept sayujya (impersonal) liberation. The other four kinds of liberationsalokya, sarshti, samipya, and sarupyaare not openly opposed to the principles of devotional service, but some aspects of them are not helpful for developing devotional service. The devotees of Lord Krishna do not accept these four kinds of liberation when they are manifested in Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Narayana. In some situations spiritual opulence is prominent in these kinds of liberation, and in other situations loving service is prominent. The devotees reject these kinds of liberation when their final goal is spiritual opulence. In those situations the devotees say, "Talk of liberation should stay far away." The devotees' hearts are attracted only to Lord Krishna. The devotees' hearts are not enchanted by the mercy of Lord Narayana. Why not? Even though Lord Narayana and Lord Krishna are in the end not different from each other, the highest nectar is present only in the form of Lord Krishna.

     Vrajanatha: Are persons born in upper-class families in varnashrama the only persons eligible to engage in devotional service?

     Babaji: Simply by being a human being one is eligible to engage in devotional service.

     Vrajanatha: Persons who follow varnashrama must follow both the rules of varnashrama and the rules of devotional service. I see they must follow both sets of rules. On the other hand, persons who do not follow varnashrama need only follow the rules of pure devotional service. From what I can see it is must be very difficult for the followers of varnashrama to follow both the rules of karma-kanda and the rules of devotional service. What is the proper understanding of all this?

     Babaji: A person engaged in pure devotional service need only follow the rules of devotional service, even though he may be living within the varnashrama social system. By following the rules of devotional service, his duty to follow the rules of karma-kanda is automatically fulfilled. In the places where they do not oppose devotional service there is no harm in following the rules of karma-kanda. A person engaged in devotional service naturally has no desire to act badly or commit sins. If by accident he commits a sin, he is not required to perform the penance described in the karma-kanda. No accidentally committed sin has the power to stay in a heart where devotional service also stays. A sin that tries to stay there will soon perish. Therefore such a devotee does not need to perform penance.

     Vrajanatha: How does a person engaged in devotional service repay his debts to the demigods and others like them?

     Babaji: Baba, please reflect on the message of this verse in the Eleventh Canto (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.41):



devarshi-bhutapta-nrinam pitrinam

     na kinkaro nayam rini ca rajan

sarvatmana yah sharanam sharanyam

     gato mukundam parihritya kartam



     "Anyone who has completely surrendered unto Krishna, Mukunda, giving up all other duties, is no longer a debtor, nor is he obliged to anyonenot the demigods, nor the sages, nor the people in general, nor kinsmen, nor humanity, nor forefathers."*


     Also, at the end of the Bhagavad-gita (18.66), the Supreme Personality of Godhead declares:


     "Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear."*


     these words of the Gita mean that a person who engages in unalloyed devotional service is no longer required to follow the rules given in the scriptures describing impersonal liberation (jnana-shastras) and fruitive work (karma-shastras). Simply by engaging in devotional service he will attain all perfection. The Supreme Lord also declares (Bhagavad-gita 9.31):



na me bhaktah pranashyati



     "My devotee never perishes."*


     This promise of the Lord stands above all other rules in the scriptures.


     After hearing these words, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara said with one voice, "In our hearts there is no doubt about devotional service. We know that jnana and karma are very insignificant and unimportant. Without Bhakti-devi's (the goddess of devotion's) mercy no one can attain auspiciousness. O master, please be kind to us and describe the different features of pure devotional service. Then our lives will become a success."


     Babaji: Vrajanatha, you have heard the Dasha-mula up to the eighth verse. At another time please relate these verses to your saintly uncle. My heart blossoms with happiness when I see him. Please listen now to the ninth verse:



shrutih krishnakhyanam smarana-nati-puja-vidhi-ganah

     tatha dasyam sakhyam paricaranam apy atmada-danam

navangany etaniha vidhi-gata-bhakter anudinam

     bhajan shraddha-yuktah su-vimala-ratim vai sa labhate



     "Hearing about Lord Krishna, chanting His glories, remembering Him, bowing down before Him, worshiping Him, serving Him, thinking of Him as a friend, serving His lotus feet, and surrendering everything unto Him are the nine limbs of devotional service. A faithful person who every day worships the Lord by performing these devotional activities attains pure love for Him."


     When Lord Krishna's spiritual holy name, and the descriptions of His form, qualities, and pastimes touch the ear, that activity is called "shravanam" (hearing). This hearing is of two kinds: Before one has attained faith in the Lord one in conversation may hear the qualities of Lord Krishna from the mouth of a saintly devotion. That is one kind of hearing. By hearing in this way one attains faith. When one attains faith, he develops a deep thirst to hear  about Lord Krishna. Then again and again he hears about Lord Krishna's holy name and other features. After that, he hears the holy name and qualities of Lord Krishna from the mouth of a Vaishnava spiritual master. That is the second kind of hearing. Hearing is one limb of pure devotional service. At the time of performing sadhana-bhakti one hears from a Vaishnava spiritual master, and when one finally attains perfection, he continues to hear. Hearing is the first limb of devotional service.

     When Lord Krishna's holy name, and the descriptions of His form, qualities, and pastimes touch the tongue, that activity is called "kirtanam" (chanting). Discussions of Lord Krishna, chanting His holy name, attracting everyone by reading aloud the descriptions of His in the scriptures and singing songs about Him, speaking humble words before Him, proclaiming His glories to others, reciting prayers, and placing humble requests before Him are all counted within the category of chanting. Of all the limbs of devotional service, chanting is said to be the most important. In Kali-yuga especially, chanting can bring auspiciousness to all souls. This is declared in the scriptures again and again. For example, it is said (Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, 72.25):



dhyayan krite yajan yajnais

     tretayam dvapare 'rcayan

yad apnoti tad apnoti

     kalau sankirtya keshavam



     "Whatever is achieved by meditation is Satya-yuga, by performance of yajna is Treta-yuga, or by the worship of Krishna's lotus feet in Dvapara-yuga, is obtained in the age of Kali simply by chanting and glorifying Lord Keshava."*


     No other method is as affective in purifying the heart as hari-kirtana (chanting the glories of Lord Hari). When many devotees chant together, that is called "sankirtana".

     Remembering Lord Krishna's name, form, qualities, and pastimes is called "smaranam" (remembering). Remembering is of five kinds: 1. when one searches fro something, that is called "smarana". 2. When one withdraws the mind from other things and fixes it on one object, that is called "dharana". 3. When one meditates on a particular form, that is called “dhyana". 4. When meditation is unbroken and becomes like a flood of nectar, that is called "dhruvanusmriti". 5. When only the object of meditation and nothing else is present in the heart, that is called "samadhi". Shravanam (hearing), kirtanam (chanting), and smaranam (remembering) are the three most important limbs of devotional service. All the other limbs are included within these three. Of the three limbs hearing, chanting, and remembering, the most important is chanting, for hearing and remembering are naturally included within it.

     In Shrimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23 it is said that "pada-seva" (serving the feet) or "paricarya (service) is the fourth limb of devotional service. Serving the Lord's feet should be performed along with hearing, chanting, and remembering. When one serves the Lord's feet one should think oneself worthless and unqualified to serve, and one should think of the object of His service is a person who is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. To think in these ways is essential. When serving the Lord's feet one should think that he is seeing the Lord's handsome face, touching Him, circumambulating Him, following Him, and seeing His temple, the Ganges, Jagannatha Puri, Dvaraka, Mathura, Navadvipa, and other holy places. Shrila Rupa Gosvami has eloquently described sixty-four limbs of devotional service. Serving Tulasi and serving the Lord's devotees are included within this limb, serving the Lord's feet.

     The fifth limb is "arcanam" (worship). Many things could be said about the qualifications of the worshiper and the activities of worship. If, after being engaged in hearing, chanting, and remembering, one becomes attracted to the path of worship, one should take shelter of the lotus feet of a bona-fide spiritual master, accept mantra-diksha initiation from him, and become engaged in the activities of worship.


     Vrajanatha: What is the difference between "nama" (the holy name) and "mantra"?

     Babaji: The holy name of the Supreme Lord is the life and soul of all mantras. By adding the word "namah" (obeisances) and other like words to the Lord's holy names, the sages have given us various mantras glorifying the Lord, mantras that each possess specific powers. The holy name of the Lord has nothing to do with the material world. To withdraw the mind from thoughts of the material body and other material things, mantras containing the Lord's holy names are given. To be able to chant mantras, materialistic persons require to accept initiation (diksha). To chant Krishna-mantras there is no need to accept the purificatory processes called "siddha", "sadhya", "susiddha", and "ari". Initiation into the chanting of Krishna-mantras is very beneficial for the living entity. Krishna-mantras are the most powerful mantras in the entire world. When he accepts a Krishna-mantra from a bona-fide spiritual master, a qualified person gets strength from Lord Krishna Himself. The spiritual master then describes the path of arcana (worship) to the inquisitive disciple. I need not describe all of that now.  In brief it may be said that the observance of Shri Krishna-janmashtami, Karttika-vrata, Ekadashi-vrata, Magha-snana, and other vows are included in this path of worship. One thing especially should be noted about the path of worshiping Lord Krishna: One must worship Lord Krishna's devotees along with Lord Krishna Himself.

     Vandana (offering obeisances) is the sixth limb of devotional service. Although it is included within pada-seva, kirtana, and the other limbs of devotional service, vandana is also considered a separate limb. Vandana means "offering obeisances". There are two ways to offer obeisances: 1. ekanga-namaskara (offering obeisances with one limb), and 2. ashtanga-namaskara (offering obeisances with eight limbs). To offer obeisances with one hand, with the body completely covered with cloth, directly before, on the left side, or behind the Lord, or very close to the Lord, are all considered offenses.

     Dasya (service) is the seventh limb of devotional service. "Dasya" means to think "I am a servant of Lord Krishna". The best kind of worship is performed when the worshiper thinks that he is a servant of Lord Krishna. Offering obeisances, reciting prayers, offering all of ones actions, serving, offering honor, remembering, hearing about the Lord, and other like activities are included within dasya.

     Sakhya (friendship) is the eighth limb of devotional service. "Sakhya" means to act as a friend to Lord Krishna. There are two kinds of such friendship: 1. vaidhanga (friendship in vaidhi-bhakti), and 2. raganga (friendship in raganuga-bhakti). Here we will only describe vaidhanga friendship. This kind of friendship is possible when the devotee engages in Deity worship. That is called "vaidha-sakhya".

     Atma-nivedana (surrendering everything) is the ninth limb of devotional service. To offer the pure soul, the material body, and everything else to Lord Krishna is called "Atma-nivedana". To act only for Lord Krishna's benefit and not for one's own benefit is the special feature of atma-nivedana. As a cow that is sold to someone does not do anything to protect or maintain herself, so the surrendered soul acts only according to Lord Krishna's desires. Such a soul desires whatever Lord Krishna desires. The activities of atma-nivedana are described in these words (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 9.4.18-20):



sa vai manah krishna-padaravindayor

     vacamsi vaikuntha-gunanuvarnane

karau harer mandira-marjanadishu

     shrutim cakaracyuta-sat-kathodaye


mukunda-lingalaya-darshane drishau

     tad-bhritya-gatra-sparshe 'nga-sangamam

ghranam ca tat-pada-saroja-saurabhe

     shrimat-tulasya rasanam tad-arpite


padau hareh kshetra-padanusarpane

     shiro hrishikesha-padabhivandane

kamam ca dasye na tu kama-kamyaya

     yathottama-shloka-janashraya ratih



     "Maharaja Ambarisha always engaged his mind in meditating upon the lotus feet of Krishna, His words in describing the glories of the Lord, his hands in cleansing the Lord's temple, and his ears in hearing the words spoken by Krishna or about Krishna. He engaged his eyes in seeing the Deity of Krishna, Krishna's temples, and Krishna's places like Mathura and Vrindavana, he engaged his sense of touch in touching the bodies of the Lord's devotees, he engaged his sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of tulasi offered to the Lord, and he engaged his tongue in tasting the Lord's prasada. He engaged his legs in walking to the holy places and temple of the Lord, his head in bowing down before the Lord, and all his desires in serving the Lord, twenty-four hours an day. Indeed, Maharaja Ambarisha never desired anything for his own sense gratification. He engaged all his senses in devotional service, in various engagements related to the Lord. This is the way to increase attachment for the Lord and be completely free from all material desires."*


     Filled with bliss to hear all this, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara offered dandavat obeisances to the saintly babaji and said, "O master, you are a personal associate of the Supreme Lord Himself. We are both very fortunate to drink the nectar of your teachings. For so many days we were uselessly proud of our caste and learning. It is only because of many many pious deeds in many past births that now we have attained the shelter of your feet." Vijaya-kumara said, "O best of the Lord's devotees, Shri Vrindavana dasa Thakura instructed me to see the Yoga-pitha in Shri Mayapura. It is by his mercy that today I have see both the Lord's transcendental abode and the Lord's personal associate. Please be merciful and allow that tomorrow evening we may again come to see you."

     Hearing the name of Vrindavana dasa Thakura, the elderly babaji at once offered dandavat obeisances. He said, “Again and again I offer my respectful obeisances to Vrindavana dasa Thakura, who is Vyasadeva himself, and who has come to this world to record Lord Chaitanya's pastimes."


     It was late. Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara returned to Vrajanatha's home.