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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Jaiva Dharma > Chapter-20

Chapter Twenty

Nitya-dharma O Sambandhabhidheya-prayojana (Prameyantar-gata Abhidheya-vicara Vaidha-sadhana-bhakti)

Eternal Religion and Sambandha, Abhidheya, and Prayojana (Abhidheya: Vaidha-sadhana-bhakti)

 

 

     Almost six hours had passed when Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara returned home. Vrajanatha's mother carefully served a delicious lunch to her brother. After lunch, the uncle and nephew conversed very affectionately. To his uncle, Vrajanatha repeated one by one all the teachings he had heard from the saintly babaji. Hearing them, Vijaya-kumara became plunged in an ocean of bliss. He said to his nephew, "You have become very fortunate! from a great saint you have heard all these descriptions of the spiritual truth. It is always auspicious to hear descriptions of Lord Hari and devotional service, but when these descriptions come from the mouth of a saint, when they enter the ear they very quickly bring the desired result. Baba, you are learned in all the scriptures. In the nyaya-shastras you have no peer. You were born in a family of vaidika brahmanas. You are not poverty-stricken. You are wealthy. These advantages are all ornaments decorating you now that you have taken shelter of a Vaishnava's feet and you relish hearing His descriptions of Lord Krishna."

     Sitting in the house's shrine to Goddess Candi, the uncle and nephew conversed about spiritual life. In a side room Vrajanatha's mother privately said to Vijaya-kumara, “Brother, after many days you have come for a visit. Please try to turn your nephew into a householder. I am afraid to see how Vrajanatha acts. Vrajanatha may never get married. Many matchmakers have offered many matches, but Vrajanatha is stubborn. He refuses to marry. My mother-in-law tried, but she could not convince him. Hearing all that his sister had to say, Vijaya-kumara replied, "I will stay for ten or fifteen days. I will think about it and I will tell you what to do. For now please go to your own part of the house." When Vrajanatha's mother returned to her rooms, Vijaya-kumara returned to his spiritual discussions with Vrajanatha. They spent the day in those discussions. The next day, after their meal, Vijaya-kumara said to Vrajanatha, "This evening we will go to Shrivasa's courtyard. From the mouth of the saintly babaji we will hear Shrila Rupa Gosvami's description of the sixty-four limbs of devotional service. Vrajanatha, I wish that birth after birth I could associate with saintly devotees like you. If had not associated with you, I would never have heard such nectarean teachings. Look, the saintly babaji said that that path of sadhana-bhakti has two parts: 1. vaidha-marga (devotional service by following the rules and regulations), and 2. raga-marga (spontaneous devotional service). You and I are qualified to follow the path of vaidha-marga. Later we will hear about the raga-marga, but first we should hear about the vaidha-marga. Then we will be able to begin sadhana-bhakti. After hearing the saintly babaji's description of the nine processes of devotional service, I do not understand how to begin. Today I will ask him about that." The two of them spent the day discussing many things. Then, garlanded with rays of light, the sun approached the western horizon. Again and again exclaiming "Haribol! Haribol!" our two saintly devotees entered Shrivasa's courtyard, offered dandavat obeisances to the circle of Vaishnavas, and entered the elderly babaji's cottage. Seeing the two devotees eager to ask questions, the saintly babaji happily embraced them, and offered them sitting places made of banana leaves. The two devotees offered dandavat obeisances, sat down, and after a some conversation revealed their questions.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, we give you so much trouble. Still, because you are merciful to the devotees you kindly accept the inconveniences we bring. Today we would like to hear from your mouth Shrila Rupa Gosvami's description of the sixty-four limbs of devotional service. If you are inclined to be merciful to us, then please kindly describe how we may easily attain pure devotional service.

     Smiling, the saintly babaji said, "I will describe to you the sixty-four limbs of devotional service. Shrila Rupa Gosvami mentions in his book. Here are the first ten of these sixty-four: 1. accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master, 2. becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him, 3. obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion, 4. following in the footsteps of the great acaryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master, 5. inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Krishna consciousness, 6. being prepared to give up anything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna (this means that when we are engaged in the devotional service of Krishna, we must be prepared to give up something which we may not like to give up, and also we may have to accept something which we may not like to accept), 7. residing in a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dvaraka or Vrindavana, 8. accepting only what is necessary, or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary, 9. observing the fasting day on ekadashi, and 10. worshiping sacred trees like the banyan tree.*

     The next ten limbs of devotional service are prohibitions that should be carefully followed. They are:

     11. One should rigidly give up the company of non-devotees. 12. One should not instruct a person who is not desirous of accepting devotional service. 13. one should not be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples or monasteries. 14. One should not try to read too many books, nor should one develop the idea of earning his livelihood by lecturing on or professionally reciting Shrimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita. 15. One should not be neglectful in ordinary dealings. 16. One should not be under the spell of lamentation in loss or jubilation in gain. 17. One should not disrespect the demigods. 18. One should not give unnecessary trouble to any living entity. 19. One should carefully avoid the various offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the Deity in the temple. 10. One should be very intolerant toward the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, or His devotees.*

     These twenty limbs are the gateway to devotional service. Among them the first three, beginning with accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master, are the most important. The next limbs are:

     21. One should decorate the body with tilaka, which is the sign of the Vaishnavas. 22. In marking such tilaka sometimes one may write Hare Krishna on the body. 23. One should accept flowers and garlands that have been offered to the Deity and the spiritual master and put them on one's body. 24. One should learn to dance before the Deity. 25. One should learn to bow down immediately upon seeing the Deity or the spiritual master. 26. As soon as one visits a temple of Lord Krishna, one must stand up. 27. When the Deity is being borne for a stroll in the street, a devotee should immediately follow the procession. 28. A devotee must visit a Vishnu temple at least once or twice every day, morning and evening. 29. One must circumambulate the temple building at least three times. 30. One must worship the Deity in the temple according to the regulative principles. 31. One must render personal service to the Deities. 32. One must sing. 33. One must perform sankirtana. 34. One must chant. 35. One must offer prayers. 36. One must recite notable prayers. 37. One must taste maha-prasada (food from the very plate offered before the Deities). 38. One must drink caranamrita (water from the bathing of the Deities, which is offered to guests). 39. One must smell the incense and flowers offered to the Deity. 40. One must touch the lotus feet of the Deity. 41. One must see the Deity with great devotion. 42. One must offer arati at different times. 43. One must hear about the Lord and His pastimes from Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and similar books. 44. One must pray to the Deity for His mercy. 45. One should remember the Deity. 46. One should meditate upon the Deity. 47. One should render some voluntary service. 48. One should think of the Lord as one's friend. 49. One should offer everything to the Lord. 50. One should offer a favorite article (such as food or a garment). 51. One should take all kinds of risks and perform all endeavors for Krishna's benefit. 52. In every condition, one should be a surrendered soul. 53. One should pour water on the tulasi tree. 54. One should regularly hear Shrimad-Bhagavatam and similar literature. 55. One should live in a sacred place like Mathura, Vrindavana, or Dvaraka. 56. One should offer service to Vaishnavas. 57. One should arrange for one's devotional service according to one's means. 58. In the month of Karttika (October and November), one should make arrangements for special services. 59. During Janmashtami (the time of Krishna's appearance in this world) one should observe a special service. 60. One should do whatever is done with great care and devotion for the Deity. 61. One should relish the pleasure of Bhagavatam reading among devotees and not among outsiders. 62. One should associate with devotees who are considered more advanced. 63. One should chant the holy name of the Lord. 64. One should live in the jurisdiction of Mathura.*

     Although they had already been mentioned in the list, the last five items are repeated because they are very important. Please know that all these limbs describe how to worship Lord Krishna with one's body, senses, and mind. Items 21 though 49 in the second part describe initiation into the worship of Lord Krishna.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, please explain to us the first item. What does "1. accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master" mean?

     Babaji: The disciple should be qualified to engage in pure devotional service. To learn the science of Krishna, the disciple should take shelter of the spiritual master's feet. Any person who has faith is qualified to engage in devotional service. When, after many births of pious deeds, one hears the descriptions of Lord Hari from a saintly devotee's mouth, and from that hearing develops strong faith in Lord Hari, that strong faith is called "shraddha". From that shraddha (faith) comes sharanapatti (surrender). Faith and surrender are almost the same thing. Devotion to Lord Krishna is the most valuable thing in the world. One should think, "I will do whatever is favorable for devotional service to Lord Krishna. I will avoid whatever is not favorable for devotional service to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna is my only protector. I am confident that Lord Krishna will always protect me. I am very poor and worthless. It is not good that I desire to be independent. I should do whatever Lord Krishna desires." A person who thinks in this way has firm faith. He is qualified to engage in unalloyed devotional service. When a person becomes qualified in this way, he becomes very eager to learn the science of devotional service. To learn it, he accepts the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master. The Vedas (Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12) declare:

 

 

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet

     samit-panih shrotriyam brahma-nishtham

 

 

     "To learn transcendental subject matter, one must approach the spiritual master. In doing so, he should carry fuel to burn in sacrifice. The symptom of such a spiritual master is that he is expert in understanding the Vedic conclusion, and therefore he constantly engages in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead."*

 

     It is also said (Chandogya Upanishad 6.14.2):

 

 

acaryavan purusho veda

 

 

     "One who approaches a bona fide spiritual master can understand everything about spiritual realization."*

 

     The qualifications of a bona fide spiritual master and a bona fide disciple are elaborately described in Shri Hari-bhakti-vilasa. The gist of that description is this: A person who has faith and a pure character is qualified to be a disciple. A person who is engaged in pure devotional service, who knows the science of devotional service, whose character is saintly, who is honest, straightforward, and sincere, who is not greedy, who is not an impersonalist, and who is expert in performing his spiritual duties is qualified to be a bona fide spiritual master. A brahmana who has these qualities and who is honored by all others may become a spiritual master of the other castes. In the absence of such a brahmana, a person may become a spiritual master if he is superior to his disciple. The root meaning of these rules is that, regardless of his status in the varnashrama social system, any person who knows the science of Krishna can become a spiritual master. Brahmanas who are proud of their high status in the material world may like to accept a spiritual master who is a brahmana, but the truth is that any person who is a pure devotee of the Lord is qualified to be a bona fide spiritual master. The scriptures describe a time of testing, when the spiritual master and disciple examine each other. That test is to enable the spiritual master to know whether the prospective disciple is truly qualified, and also to enable the prospective disciple to know whether the spiritual master is truly a pure devotee of the Lord. When the disciple has faith that the spiritual master is qualified, the bona fide spiritual master bestows his mercy on the disciple.

     There are two kinds of spiritual master: 1. diksha-guru (initiating spiritual master), and 2. shiksha-guru (instructing spiritual master). The diksha-guru gives initiation and teaches how to worship the Lord. One may accept only one diksha-guru, but one may accept many shiksha-gurus. The diksha-guru may also perform the duties of a shiksha-guru.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: The disciple is not allowed to reject his diksha-guru. But if the diksha-guru is not qualified to teach, how can he instruct the disciple?

     Babaji: At the time of choosing the spiritual master, the prospective disciple should test to see whether the spiritual master has traveled to the farther shore of the Vedic scriptures and the science of the Supreme Lord. The spiritual master must be qualified to teach all aspects of the spiritual science. The disciple is not allowed to reject his diksha-guru. However, there are two circumstances where the disciple must reject his diksha-guru. If at the time of choosing a spiritual master the disciple did not test to see whether the spiritual master was a Vaishnava and learned in the spiritual science, the disciple may reject the spiritual master. Or, if it is seen that in the course of his activities the spiritual master does what he should not do, then the disciple may also reject the spiritual master. Again and again the scriptures give testimony to prove these points. In the Narada-pancaratra (quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa 1.101) it is said:

 

 

yo vakti nyaya-rahitam

     anyayena shrinoti yah

tav ubhau narakam ghoram

     vrajatah kalam akshayam

 

 

     "A spiritual master who speaks wrongly, without logic, and a disciple who hears wrongly, without logic, both go to a terrible hell for a long time that seems not to end."

 

     It is also said (Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva, Asvopakhyana 179.25):

 

 

guror apy avaliptasya

     karyakaryam ajanatah

utpatha-pratipannasya

     parityago vidhiyate

 

 

     "A spiritual master who is materialistic, who does not know what should and should not be done, and who follows the wrong path should be rejected."

 

     It is also said (quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa 4.144):

 

 

avaishnavopadishtena

     mantrena nirayam vrajet

punash ca vidhina samyag

     grahayed vaishnavad guroh

 

 

    "A person who accepts mantra initiation from a non-Vaishnava goes to hell. A person initiated in this way should accept initiation again, this time from a Vaishnava spiritual master."

 

     A second reason for rejecting the spiritual master is this: If at the time of choosing the spiritual master, the spiritual master was a Vaishnava and learned in the spiritual science, but by bad association the spiritual master became an impersonalist and a hater of Vaishnavas, then that spiritual master should be rejected. If one accepts a spiritual master who is neither an impersonalist, nor a hater of Vaishnavas, nor sinful, but is not very learned, then that spiritual master should not be rejected. One should honor that spiritual master. However, with the spiritual master's permission, one should approach another Vaishnava, serve him, and learn from him the spiritual science.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "2. becoming initiated (krishna-diksha) by the spiritual master and learning (krishna-shiksha how to discharge devotional service from him" mean?

     Babaji: From the spiritual master one should learn the path of devotional service to Lord Krishna and the science of understanding Lord Krishna. Applying that knowledge, one should sincerely serve Lord Krishna and cultivate Krishna consciousness in one's heart. In this way one should learn the different limbs of worshiping the Lord. At the spiritual master's feet one should learn sambandha (the soul's relationship with Lord Krishna), abhidheya (devotional service to Lord Krishna), and prayojana (love for Lord Krishna).

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "3. obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion" mean?

     Babaji: Don't think your spiritual master is an ordinary human being. Know that he is the embodiment of all the demigods. Never disrespect him. Know that he is a resident of the spiritual world.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "4. following the footsteps of great acaryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master" mean?

     Babaji: Anything at all that makes the mind think of Lord Krishna may be considered sadhana-bhakti. However, one should follow the path traversed by the great devotees. That path will always be free from sufferings, the cause of all auspiciousness, and free from obstacles. In the Skanda Purana it is said:

 

 

sa mrigyah shreyasam hetuh

     panthah santapa-varjitah

anavapta-shramam purve

     yena santah pratasthire

 

 

     "One should follow the path of the great devotees, for that path is free of sufferings and obstacles."

 

     One person by himself cannot determine what is the best path. Therefore one should follow the devotional path that was walked by the great devotees. In the Brahma-yamala it is said:

 

 

shruti-smriti-puranadi-

     pancaratra-vidhim vina

aikantiki harer bhaktir

     utpatayaiva kalpate

 

 

     "Devotional service to the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanishads, Puranas, Narada-pancaratra, etc., is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society."*

 

     Vijaya-kumara: How is it that unalloyed devotional service can become an unnecessary disturbance in society? Please explain clearly.

     Babaji: Unalloyed devotional service can by attained only by following the path walked by the previous great devotees. If one creates a new path he expect to follow it to unalloyed devotional service. Dattatreya, Buddha, and other recent thinkers were not able to understand the truth of pure devotional service. Some taught a philosophy mixed with impersonalism and others a philosophy mixed with atheism. They taught horrible and ugly philosophies they imagined would lead to unalloyed devotional service to Lord Hari, but in truth did not at all lead to devotional service. Their philosophies became a disturbance to society. On the other hand, The path of raga-marga (spontaneous love) does not depend on the rules presented in the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanishads, Puranas, Narada-pancaratra, etc. Rather, it follows the path walked by the people of Vraja. However, the devotees qualified only to follow the path of vidhi-marga (performing devotional service according to the rules and regulations) must follow the devotional path walked by Dhruva, Prahlada, Narada, Vyasa, Shukadeva, and other great souls. For the devotees on the path of vidhi-bhakti there is no alternative but to follow the path of the great devotees.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "5. inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Krishna consciousness" mean?

     Babaji: Persons who are very eager to understand the spiritual truth quickly attain all they desire. "Very eager" here means that they ask saintly devotees to explain the truth of spiritual life.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "6. being prepared to give up anything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna" mean?

     Babaji: The pleasures attained by eating palatable foods, the pleasures of marriage, and other like pleasures are called "material sense pleasures". These pleasures are all obstacles on the path of devotional service. One who renounces them for the sake of worshiping Lord Krishna makes easy progress in devotional service. A person attached to material sense pleasures becomes addicted to them in the same way an alcoholic becomes addicted to liquor. Overcome by powerful material desires, he cannot attain pure devotional service. Therefore one should eat only prasadam offered to the Supreme Lord, and then only enough to keep the body fit to engage in devotional service, and one should also fast on ekadashi. In this way one can completely renounce material sense pleasures.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "7. Residing at a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dvaraka or Vrindavana" mean?

     Babaji: When one lives at the holy places where the Supreme Lord was born or enjoyed pastimes, or at places by the Ganges or other sacred rivers, one naturally attains faith in devotional service.

     Vijaya-kumara: Is living at Shri Navadvipa purifying only because it is by the Ganges, or is there another reason?

     Babaji: Ah! Living within the thirty-two mile area of Shri Navadvipa is exactly like living in Shri Vrindavana. This is especially true for Shri Mayapura. Seven holy cities are famous for granting liberation. They are: Ayodhya, Mathura, Mayapura, Varanasi, Kanci, Avantipura, and Dvaraka. Of them, Mayapura is the most important. Shri Mahaprabhu brought the spiritual world of Shvetadvipa to Mayapura. Four hundred years after Lord Mahaprabhu's appearance, this land of Mayapura-Shvetadvipa will be the most important of all holy places. A person who lives in this places throws all offenses far away and easily attains pure devotional service. Shri Prabodhananda Sarasvati said that this abode of Navadvipa is not different from Shri Vrindavana. Indeed, he said it was more glorious than Vrindavana.

     Vijaya-kumara: what does "8. Accepting only what is necessary, or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary" mean?

     Babaji: In the Narada Purana it is written:

 

 

yavata syat sva-nirvahah

     svi-kuryat tavad artha-vid

adhikye nyunatayam ca

     cyavate paramarthatah

 

 

     "One should earn and spend money only as far as he truly needs. If one does it too much or too little, he will fall from the spiritual goal."

 

     A person eligible to perform vaidhi-bhakti should earn his livelihood by honest means according to varnashrama. In that way he will attain auspiciousness. If he becomes greedy for more than he needs, his devotional life will become stunted. If he accepts less than he truly needs, he will gradually become unable to perform his devotional activities, and in that way he will also be at fault. As long as one is not able to completely renounce everything, he should collect only as much money as he truly needs for his spiritual life. In this way he will be able to properly cultivate his Krishna consciousness.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "9. observing the fasting day on ekadashi" mean?

     Babaji: Pure ekadashi is called "Hari-vasara". One should not observe ekadashi when it is interrupted (viddha) by another tithi. When there is a maha-dvadashi, that should be observed and not the ekadashi. On the day before ekadashi one should observe celibacy, on the day of ekadashi one should fast completely, avoiding even water, and one should also worship Lord Hari during an all-night vigil. On the day after ekadashi one should continue his observance of celibacy and one should also break his fast at the appropriate time. In this way one should observe ekadashi. During ekadashi one should also fast from maha-prasadam, for otherwise fasting from even water has no meaning. For persons unable to fast completely, certain specific foods may be taken during ekadashi. This is described in Hari-bhakti-vilasa in the passage beginning with verse 12.97.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "10. worshiping sacred trees like the banyan tree" mean?

     Babaji: In the Skanda Purana it is written:

 

 

ashvattha-tulasi-dhatri-

     go-bhumi-sura-vaishnavah

pujitah pranata dhyatah

     kshapayanti nrinam agham

 

 

     "When they are worshiped, meditated on, or bowed down before, the banyan tree, the tulasi tree, the dhatri tree, the cows, the earth, the demigods, and the Vaishnavas destroy the sins of the people."

 

     A householder eligible to perform vaidhi-bhakti should in the course of his life worship, meditate on, and bow down before

the ashvattha and other shade-giving trees, the dhatri and other fruit-giving trees, tulasi and other sacred trees, the cows and other animals that do good to the people of the world, the brahmanas, who are the teachers of religion and the protectors of true civilization, and the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord. In this way they should live in this world.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "11. One should rigidly give up the company of nondevotees" mean?

     Babaji: When spiritual love rises in the heart, one's devotion to the Lord becomes intense. As long as love does not arise in that way, one must avoid the association of persons opposed to devotional service. Here the word "association" means "attachment". When in the course of ordinary activities one causally comes into contact with other people that is not "association" as meant here. When by contact with others one develops a desire to associate with them, that is “association". Therefore association with persons averse to the Supreme Lord should be carefully avoided. When love for the Lord rises within the heart, it is not possible that one will desire to associate with persons averse to the Lord. Therefore persons who are situated in the stage of vaidhi-bhakti should carefully avoid association with persons averse to the Lord. As a very hot summer breeze can wilt vines growing on trees, so association with persons averse to Lord Krishna can wilt the vine of devotional service.

     Vijaya-kumara: Who are the nondevotees?

     Babaji: Four kinds of people are averse to Lord Krishna. They are: 1. persons who have no devotion to Lord Krishna, 2. persons addicted to material sense gratification and association with women, 3. persons whose hearts are polluted by atheism and impersonalism, and 4. persons dulled by working for material gain. One should stay far away from the company of these four kinds of persons.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "12. One should not instruct a person who is not desirous of accepting devotional service" mean?

     Babaji: If, greedy to accumulate money, a spiritual master accepts many disciples, he is greatly at fault. If a spiritual master accepts many disciples, then some of them will likely be unqualified persons who do not have faith in devotional service. To accept such persons as disciples is an offense. Only a person who has faith is fit to be a disciple.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "13. One should not be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples or monasteries" mean?

     Babaji: Live simply and engage in devotional service to the Lord. Don't be attached to great pomp or activities that require unnecessary endeavor. They will net push the heart to worship the Lord.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "14. One should not try to read too many books, not should one develop the idea of earning his livelihood by lecturing on or professionally reciting Shrimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita" mean?

     Babaji: The scriptures are like an ocean. If one wants to learn a particular subject, he should carefully study, from beginning to end, the books describing that subject. If one merely reads a little from one book and a little from another, he will not learn the subject properly. Thus if one does not study them carefully and completely one will not properly understand the scriptures describing devotional service. One should accept the straightforward, obvious interpretations of the scriptures. One should not struggle to construe obscure, contradictory, opposite meanings from them.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "15. One should not be neglectful in ordinary dealings" mean?

     Babaji: To maintain the material body one requires food and clothing. If one cannot get these things he is troubled, and if he loses them he is also troubled. If he is troubled in these ways, a devotee of the Lord should not become agitated at heart. Rather, he should continue to fix his thoughts on Lord Hari.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "16. One should not be under the spell of lamentation in loss or jubilation in gain" mean?

     Babaji: How is it possible that Lord Krishna's spiritual form could appear in a heart overpowered by lamentation, fear, anger, greed, envy, and other vices. A person engaged in sadhana-bhakti may feel lamentation, bewilderment, or other inauspicious sentiments because of being separated from relatives, thwarted in desires, or other problems. However, it is not good to be overpowered by lamentation, bewilderment, and other like inauspicious things. Separation from one's children and other unhappy events inevitably lead to lamentation. However, one should fix his thoughts on Lord Hari and in this way quickly throw these inauspicious emotions far away. In this way one should fix his mind on the lotus feet of Lord Hari.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "17. One should not disrespect the demigods" mean? Does this mean it is right to worship the demigods?

     Babaji: One should have unalloyed devotion to Lord Krishna. One should not worship the demigods thinking them independent of Lord Krishna. However, when you see other people worshiping the demigods, you should not be disrespectful to the demigods. You should honor the demigods, but always remember that all the demigods worship Lord Krishna. As long as the heart remains in the grip of the three material modes, one cannot attain unalloyed devotion to Lord Krishna. Only persons overpowered by goodness, passion, and ignorance worship the demigods with the idea that the demigods are equal to Lord Krishna. These persons are qualified only to have faith in the demigods. Therefore one should not disrespect their method of worship. By the mercy of the demigods, these persons will gradually become elevated. Eventually their hearts will become free of the three material modes.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "18. One should not give unnecessary trouble to any living entity" mean?

     Babaji: Lord Krishna is quickly pleased by merciful persons who refrain from bringing suffering to others. Mercy is one of the most important virtues of a Vaishnava.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "19. One should carefully avoid the various offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the Deity in the temple" mean?

     Babaji: One should avoid offenses in worshiping the Lord and one should especially avoid offenses to the holy name. beginning with riding a palanquin into the Lord's temple and wearing shoes in the Lord's temple, there are thirty-two offenses in worshiping the Lord. beginning with blaspheming the devotees who have dedicated their lives to preaching the glories of the Lord, there are ten offenses to the holy name. All these offenses should be avoided.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "20. One should be very intolerant toward the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, or His devotees" mean? Does this teaching mean that one should at once verbally attack the blasphemer?

     Babaji: A person who blasphemes Lord Krishna or a Vaishnava must be averse to Lord Krishna. One should not tolerate their blasphemies. One should react by casting the willingness to associate with them far away.

     Vijaya-kumara: What is the relationship between these first twenty limbs of devotional service with the other limbs?

     Babaji: The next forty-four limbs are actually included in these first twenty limbs. They are described separately in order to give a more detailed explanation. Thirty limbs, beginning with "One should decorate the body with tilaka which is the sign of the Vaishnavas" and culminating in "One should offer a favorite article (such as food or a garment)" are included within the path of Deity worship (arcana-marga). These limbs are: 21. One should wear three strands of tulasi beads around his neck and decorate his body with twelve tilaka markings. These is called "the sign of the Vaishnavas". 22. To write "Hare Krishna", other names of Lord Krishna, or the names of the Panca-tattva on the upper part of the body with sandalwood paste is called "marking the holy name on the body". 23. That one should accept flowers and garlands that have been offered to the Deity and the spiritual master and put them on one's body is described in these words of Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.6.31), where Uddhava tells Lord Krishna:

 

 

tvayopabhukta-srag-gandha-

     vaso 'lankara-carcitah

ucchishta-bhojino dasah

     tava mayam jayema hi

 

 

     "My dear Lord, the garlands, scented substances, garments, ornaments, and other such things that have been offered to You may later be used by Your servants. By partaking of these things and eating the remnants of food You have left, we will be able to conquer the illusory energy."*

 

     The next limbs of devotional service are: 24. One should learn to dance before the Deity. 25. One should learn to bow down immediately upon seeing the Deity or the spiritual master. 26. As soon as one visits a temple of Lord Krishna one must stand up. 27. When the Deity is being borne for a stroll in the street a devotee should immediately follow the procession. 28. A devotee must visit a Vishnu temple at least once or twice every day morning and evening. 29. One must circumambulate the temple building at least three times. 30. One must worship the Deity in the temple according to the regulative principles. For these items no separate explanation is needed. 31. One must render personal service to the Deities is explained in this verse (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.61):

 

 

paricarya tu sevopa-

     karanadi-parikriya

tatha prakirna-kacchatra-

     vaditradyair upasana

 

 

     "One should serve the Deity with a parasol, camara, instrumental music, and many other offerings. This is called `worship'."

 

     The next items are: 32. One must sing. 33. One must perform sankirtana. 34. One must chant. 35. One must offer prayers. 36. One must recite notable prayers. 37. One must taste maha-prasada (food from the very plate offered before the Deities). 38. One must drink caranamrita (water from the bathing of the Deities which is offered to guests). 39. One must smell the incense and flowers offered to the Deity. 40. One must touch the lotus feet of the Deity. 41. One must see the Deity with great devotion. 42. One must offer arati at different times. 43. One must hear about the Lord and His pastimes from Shrimad-Bhagavatam Bhagavad-gita and similar books. 44. One must pray to the Deity for His mercy. 45. One should remember the Deity. 46. One should meditate upon the Deity. 47. One should render some voluntary service. 48. One should think of the Lord as one's friend. 49. One should offer everything to the Lord (atma-nivedana). Here "atma" means the idea of “I" in relation to the material body and the idea of “mine" in relation to the material body. These two things one should surrender (nivedana) to Krishna.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: Please clearly explain these two things: the idea of {168}I" in relation to the material body and the idea of "mine" in relation to the material body.

     Babaji: Residing in the material body, the conditioned soul tends to think "I am this material body" or "This material body is mine". Both these ideas should be surrendered, offered to Lord Krishna. Thus renouncing the ideas "I am this material body" and "This material body is mine", one should think "I am a servant of Lord Krishna" and “I am dependent on Lord Krishna's mercy", and "this material body is a machine that I shall use in Lord Krishna's service". To spend one's time within this material body in this way is called "atma-nivedana" (offering everything to the Lord).

 

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "50. One should offer a favorite article (such as food or a garment)" mean?.

     Babaji: In this material world many things become dear to a person. To accept the relation that all these things have to Lord Krishna is called "offering a favorite article".

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "51. One should take all kinds of risks and perform all endeavors for Krishna's benefit" mean?

     Babaji: Whatever Vedic or ordinary duties there are in the material world should be performed in such a way that they advance devotional service to Lord Krishna. That is "performing all endeavors for Krishna's benefit".

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "52. In every condition one should be a surrendered soul" mean?

     Babaji: To think, "O Lord, I am Yours" and “O Lord, I surrender unto You" is called "being a surrendered soul".

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "53. One should pour water on the tulasi tree" mean?

     Babaji: there are nine kinds of service to tulasi. They are: 1. seeing tulasi, 2. touching tulasi, 3. meditating on tulasi, 4. glorifying tulasi, 5. offering obeisances to tulasi, 6. hearing the glories of tulasi, 7. planting tulasi, 8. serving tulasi, and 9. regularly worshiping tulasi. In these nine ways tulasi is glorious in the context of service to Lord Krishna.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "54. One should regularly hear Shrimad-Bhagavatam and similar literature" mean?

     Babaji: Books that explain the science of devotional service offered to Lord Krishna are called "shastras" (scriptures). Among all scriptures, Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the best, for it is the essence of the Vedas and Vedanta. A person who relishes the nectar of Shrimad-Bhagavatam is no longer attracted to other scriptures.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "55. One should live in a sacred place like Mathura Vrindavana or Dvaraka" mean?

     Babaji: One should hear about, remember, glorify, visit, touch, reside in, and serve Mathura. In this way one will attain his spiritual desires. Know that the same applies to Shri Mayapura.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "56. One should offer service to Vaishnavas" mean?

     Babaji: The Vaishnavas are very dear to the Supreme Lord. By serving the Vaishnavas one renders devotional service to the Lord. In the scriptures it is said:

 

     "Although the Vedas mention worship of demigods, the worship of Lord Vishnu is topmost and is ultimately recommended. However, above the worship of Lord Vishnu is the rendering of service to Vaishnavas, who are related to Lord Vishnu."*

 

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "57. One should arrange for one's devotional service according to one's means" mean?

     Babaji: As far as one is able, one should collect various things, offer them to the Deity of the Lord in the temple, and then offer them again to the Vaishnavas. This is called “mahotsava" (a great festival). In the entire world no festival is better than this.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "58. In the month of Karttika (October and November) one should make arrangements for special services" mean?

     Babaji: The month of Karttika is also called “Urja". To render devotional service to Lord Damodara by hearing and chanting His glories and in other ways also is called "urjadara" (worship in the month of Karttika).

     Vijaya-kumara: What does"59. During Janmashtami (the time of Krishna's appearance in this world) one should observe a special service" mean?

     Babaji: To celebrate a great festival on Lord Krishna's appearance day on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadra and again on the full-moon day of the month of Phalguna is called "Shri Janma-yatra" (the birth festivals). The surrendered souls should observe these festivals.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "60. One should do whatever is done with great care and devotion for the Deity" mean?

     Babaji: With a heart filled with love and enthusiasm one should always carefully serve the Deity of the Lord. To a devotee thus engaged the Lord does not give the pathetic and worthless gift of impersonal liberation. Rather, the Lord gives the great gift of devotional service.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "61. One should relish the pleasure of Bhagavatam reading among devotees and not among outsiders" mean?

     Babaji: Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. One should not taste the sweetness of Shrimad-Bhagavatam in the company of persons who are not qualified to taste the nectar of transcendental rasas. Offenses will result. Therefore one should read the verses of Shrimad-Bhagavatam and taste their nectar only with pure devotees, who thirst to taste the nectar of Lord Krishna's pastimes, and who have the power to know the sweetness that is in Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Reciting and hearing Shrimad-Bhagavatam in the company of nondevotees does not lead to pure devotional service.

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "62. One should associate with devotees who are considered more advanced" mean?

     Babaji: One should associate with devotees. If one associates with nondevotees, he will not make progress in devotional service. Devotees yearn to directly serve Lord Krishna in His transcendental pastimes. Persons who have that desire are called "bhaktas" (devotees). If we associate with more advanced devotees, then we make progress in devotional service. If we do not our progress stops. We become like our associates. In the scriptures (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 8.51) it is written:

 

 

yasya yat-sangatih pumso

     manivat syat sa tad-gunah

sva-kulardhyai tato dhiman

     sva-yuthany eva samshrayet

 

 

     "Association is very important. It acts just like a crystal stone, which will reflect anything which is put before it."*

 

     Vijaya-kumara: What does "63. One should chant the holy name of the Lord" mean?

     Babaji: The holy name of the Lord is not material. Rather, it is spiritual, conscious, and full of nectar. It has not the slightest scent of matter. When a living entity desires to serve the Lord, and when he becomes purified by engaging in devotional service, the holy name of the Lord personally appears on his tongue. The holy name of the Lord cannot be understood by the material senses. Therefore one should always, either alone or in the company of others, chant the holy name of the Lord.

     Vijaya-kumara: By your kindness I have understood the meaning of "64. One should live in the jurisdiction of Mathura". Now please explain the essence of all these limbs of devotional service.

     Babaji: The last five limbs are the best. By remaining free of offenses and performing these last five items even slightly, one make wonderful progress in devotional service and attains ecstatic love for the Lord.

     Vijaya-kumara: Please describe whatever else I should know about sadhana-bhakti.

     Babaji: Sometimes the scriptures describe many non-devotional benefits to be attained by practicing the different activities of devotional service. These benefits are given to attract materialistic people who otherwise would have no interest in devotional service. Still, the most important result attained by performing any of the different activities of devotional service is the attainment of attraction and love for Lord Krishna. Wise persons who know the truth about devotional service value the different limbs of devotional service and reject materialistic, fruitive activities. Jnana (knowledge) and vairagya (renunciation) may give a little help in making a persona qualified to enter the temple of devotional service. But still they are not counted among the limbs of devotional service. They make the heart hard, whereas devotional service makes the hard soft and gentle. Therefore knowledge and renunciation should be accepted only when they come from devotional service. Knowledge and renunciation do not bring devotional service. Devotional service easily gives blessings that knowledge and renunciation can never give. By engaging in sadhana-bhakti and worshiping Lord Hari, one attains attraction and love for Lord Hari. At that time one's attraction for material sense objects disappears. The aspiring devotee must accept appropriate renunciation (yukta-vairagya), and he also must reject false renunciation (phalgu-vairagya). To accept, when it is appropriate and without becoming attached, material things when they have a relationship with Lord Krishna, is called "yukta-vairagya" (proper renunciation). To reject, in the hope of attaining impersonal liberation, material things when they have a relationship with Krishna is called "phalgu-vairagya" (false renunciation). One should reject impersonal speculation and false renunciation. To make a show of devotional service in order to attain wealth, disciples, and other material things is very far from genuine, pure devotional service. Such an artificial show of devotional service is not counted among the limbs of true devotional service. Material intelligence and other material good qualities are not the distinguishing features of a person qualified to engage in devotional service. Therefore these material good qualities are not among the limbs of devotional service. Control of the mind, control of the senses, purity, good conduct, and other virtues spontaneously appear in a person who is attached to Lord Krishna. Still, these virtues are not counted among the limbs of devotional service. Purity of heart, external cleanliness, austerity, peacefulness, and all other virtues voluntarily take shelter in a devotee of Lord Krishna. The devotee does not need to strive to attain them. I have now described all the limbs of devotional service. By faithfully practicing one or many of these limbs, a person will attain perfection. Thus I have briefly described vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti. Think about them in your heart, try to understand them, and try to follow them.

 

     After hearing these instructions, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara offered dandavat obeisances to the lotus feet of their spiritual master. They said, "O master, please be merciful to us. Please deliver us. For a long time we have been drowning in the abyss of false pride." The babaji said, “Lord Krishna will be merciful to you." It was late. The uncle and nephew left for home.