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Pure Worship of Krishna Is the Cause of Liberation
Q. What must one do to attain liberation in the form of drinking the nectar of the lotus feet of Shri Krishna?
A. One attains such nectar by engaging in the pure devotional worship of Krishna (amala-krishna-bhajan).
Q. What are you calling amala-krishna-bhajan?
A. When a soul bound up in the material world, performs worship, free from impurities, for the sole purpose of attaining attraction to Krishna, that is called amala-krishna-bhajan.
Q. What are the impurities that hinder Krishna-Bhajan?
A. The three impurities are the desire for material sense gratification, the desire for the goal of impersonal merging, and the desire for mystic powers.
Q. What are desires for material sense gratification?
A. There are three kinds: the desire for the enjoyment of worldly sensual pleasures, the desire for the enjoyment of attaining the heavenly material planets in the next life, and the desire for the enjoyment of the seeming peace that comes from dry renunciation.
Q. You say that one must give up sense gratification, give up religious principles that bring happiness in the next life, and give up renunciation as well - but how will one maintain one's body? How will one benefit the world? How will one relieve the troubles that arise due to enthusiasm for sensual affairs?
A. It is not possible to completely give up the affairs of the material senses, religious principles meant for the welfare of the world, or renunciation which brings about peace. However, the desire to enjoy these things, as well as enthusiastic endeavors to pursue them, must certainly be given up.
Q. How can that be possible?
A. Just perform all the bodily, mental and social duties that are necessary according to the varna-asrama-dharma system (the spiritual divisions of social structure). You should perform all these activities in such a way as to nicely assist you in your cultivation of devotional service to Shri Krishna. By doing this properly, you'll see that there will be no impediments to your direct cultivation of pure Krishna Consciousness. Just use whatever easily comes your way in life to nourish your direct cultivation of devotion. That will help you in your divine advancement, for such a life style automatically and simultaneously fulfills all duties, religiosity and renunciation.
Q. Material duties and activities are certainly very different than spiritual truths; how will performing such activities nourish one's eternal spiritual nature?
A. The secret is to integrate the affairs of the senses, materialistic knowledge, and all material relationships, by dovetailing them with ecstatic emotions which give rise to pure Krishna-Bhakti. Please just engage all your senses in the service of the sacred deity form of the Lord. Illumine your soul with pure attachment to Krishna by eating the remnants of His prasadam, chant about the wonderful qualities of Shri Krishna, smell the sandalwood-smeared tulasi leaves that have touched the feet of Krishna, hear and chant topics about Krishna, touch people and things that are related to Krishna, go to see Krishna in the temple, etc. Thus all of your activities will gradually be offered to Krishna, and when such things give rise to the awakening of ecstatic symptoms, then your impediments will vanish, and you will be known as a devotee (sadhaka).
Q. If I accept a simple lifestyle with only the bare necessities to maintain this body, and if I eliminate material desires by practice and regulation, then couldn't I first attain samadhi through knowledge alone, and thereby gradually attain devotion to Krishna?
A. No. Because attachment to sense and sense-objects is so firmly rooted in the consciousness, even if you endeavor in yogic practices like yama (control of the senses), niyama (regulated practice) and pratyahara (withdrawing the mind from worldly attractions), it is still very difficult to eliminate your relationship with sensual things. The nature of attachment is that unless you can experience a higher object of perception, you are not able to give up your former object. But if you keep a higher thing before you, so that your gushing flow of attachment can rush toward it, then you can very easily give up your attachment to any former objects of perception. Therefore if you perform the devotional activities that I have mentioned previously, then that alone constitutes Amala-Krishna-Bhajan (untainted devotion to Krishna).
Q. Then what do you call samala-krishna-bhajan (worship of Krishna tainted with impurities)?
A. Worship of Krishna that is performed by one who maintains the mentality of fruitive gain, endeavors in yoga practice, or hopes for impersonal liberation is called samala (tainted with impurities). These conditions make it impossible to achieve true liberation at the shelter of Krishna's lotus feet.
Q. Please summarize the condition of one whose worship is untainted?
A. Becoming righteous is simply maintaining the body sinlessly while living in the material world — just accept such a lifestyle as 'secondary devotion' of Krishna-bhakti. Whatever you easily acquire in life, just accept that as favorable for the direct cultivation of devotional service.
Q. How many types of direct cultivation are there?
A. There are nine types: 1. Sravana (hearing), 2. Kirtana (chanting), 3. Smarana (remembering), 4. Pada-sevana (serving His feet), 5. Arcana (deity worship), 6. Vandana (offering prayers), 7. Dasya (becoming His servant), 8. Sakhya (becoming His friend), and 9. Atma-nivedana (offering the totality of self).
Q. What will happen by the cultivation of all these practices?
A. By the gradual unfoldment of ecstatic emotions, you will experience the awakening of pure divine love (prema).
Q. What is prema?
A. It cannot be explained with words; it is divine mellow (rasa) - may you taste it yourself, and then you will know.
Q. During the practicing stage of devotion, what things should we be mindful of?
A. One should avoid vikarma (indecent activities), akarma (inaction), bewilderment by karma, dry renunciation, dry knowledge, and offenses.
Q. How many things constitute vikarma (indecent activities)?
A. There are numerous kinds of vikarma: the following are some of the more prominent sins:
3. Hard heartedness.
4. Violence toward all living creatures.
5. Lust for the wives of others.
7. Greed for the possessions of others.
8. Absorption in selfish benefit.
12. Mental delusion.
15. Harming others.
Q. What is akarma?
A. Atheism, ingratitude, and absence of service to great souls.
Q. What is karma?
A. Karma refers to pious, dutiful activities. There are numerous types of pious activities, and the following list represents a few prominent duties:
1. Helping others.
2. Serving one's superiors.
4. Constructive development.
10. Engagement according to one's own qualifications.
11. Appropriate renunciation.
12. Unprejudiced consideration.
Q. What is bewilderment by karma?
A. This is when material acquisitions gained from pious activities make the mind complacent, and one thereby turns away from the advancement of the soul.
Q. What is dry renunciation?
A. Renunciation that is practiced with great endeavor is called dry or subversive renunciation. When one's devotional service increases, then one is automatically situated in true renunciation; this is called pure detachment or appropriate renunciation.
Q. What is dry knowledge?
A. That knowledge which does not specifically focus on the eternal truth of divine consciousness is called dry knowledge.
Q. How many types of aparadha (offenses) are there?
A. There are two types of offense: seva aparadha (offenses committed during the performance of devotional service), and nama aparadha (offenses committed while chanting the holy names).
Q. What is a brief summary of Amala-Bhajana (untainted worship)?
A. Accepting one's course of life in a detached mood, attaining pure knowledge of the Lord, hearing and chanting His Glories in the company of saintly persons - this is untainted worship.