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Purva-vibhaga (Eastern Division)
Divisions of Bhagavad-bhakti
General Characteristics of Bhakti
Bhakti in the Stage of Cultivation
Bhakti in the Budding Stage of Ecstatic Love
Bhakti in the Mature Stage of Ecstatic Love
Shri Shri Guru-Gaurangau Jayatah
General Characteristics of Bhakti
radha-preyan vidhur jayati
The supreme benefactor of all devotees, Shri Shri Rupa Gosvami, composed the above shloka as the mangalacarana or invocation verse to his unprecedented book named Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, which manifested from the treasury of the divine lotus of his heart. This sacred book named Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu-bindu, written by Shri Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, is also begun with the same mangalacarana shloka composed by Shrila Rupa Gosvami. The meaning of this verse is as follows:
“Let there be all glory to the omnipotent Lord Shri Krishna Candra who is endowed with all excellence and who is the personification of transcendental bliss characterised by the twelve forms of rasa—five primary (mukhya rasa—shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura) and seven secondary (gauna rasa—laughter, wonder, compassion, anger, fear, heroism, and disgust). By the radiance of His limbs which is spreading in all directions, He has brought under His control the yutheshvaris or leaders of the various groups of gopis, named Taraka (vipaksha—representing a rival group to that of Shri Radha) and Pali (tatastha paksha—representing a neutral group). He has made Shyamala (suhrita paksha—representing a friendly group) and Lalita (svapaksha—belonging to Radhika’s own group) His very own, and He is the most beloved of Shrimati Radhika (Radha-preyan). That is, being under the control of the prema of Shrimati Radhika, who is the embodiment of the mahabhava of all the yutheshvaris, He is always intently absorbed in inspiring Her love.”
shilanam bhaktir uttama
asyarthah—anyabhilasha jnana-karmadi-rahita shri krishnam
uddishyanukulyena kaya-van-manobhir yavati kriya sa bhaktih
The cultivation of activities which are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Shri Krishna, or in other words the uninterrupted flow of service to Shri Krishna, performed through all endeavors of the body, mind, and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas), which is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), and which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Shri Krishna, is called uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service. (Brs 1.1.11)
Shri Cakravartipada’s Sanskrit Commentary
atha tasya lakshanam vadanneva grantham arabhate,—anyeti. yatha kriya-shabdena dhatv artha matram ucyate, tathatranu-shilana-shabdenapi dhatv artha matram ucyate. dhatva arthash ca dvividhah—pravritti-nivritty atmakah. tatra pravritty atmaka dhatv arthas tu kaya-van-manasiya tat tac ceshta rupah. nivritty atmaka-dhatva arthash ca pravritti bhinnah, priti-vishadatmako manasah tat tad bhava rupash ca, sa ca vakshyamana rati premadi sthayi bhava rupash ca, seva-namaparadhanam udbhavabhava karitety adi vacana-vyanjitah-seva-namaparadhady abhava rupash ca.
tad evam sati krishna-sambandhi krishnartham va ’nushilanam iti tat sambandha matrasya tad arthasya va vivakshitatvad guru-padashrayadau, bhava rupasyapi krodikritatvad ratyadi-sthayini vyabhicaribhaveshu ca navyaptih.
etac ca krishna-tad-bhakta kripayaiva labhyam shri bhagavatah svarupa-shakti-vritti rupam api kayadi-vritti tadatmyenavir-bhutam iti jneyam. agre tu spashti karishyate. krishna-shabdash catra svayam bhagavatah krishnasya tad rupanam canyesham avataranam grahakah. taratamyam agre vivecaniyam.
tatra bhakti svarupata siddhy artham visheshanam aha— anu-kulyeneti, pratikulye bhaktitvaprasiddheh. anukulyan-coddeshyaya shri krishnaya rocamana pravrittir ity ukte lakshane ’tivyaptir avyaptish ca. tad yatha—asura-kartrika-prahara rupanushilanam yuddha-rasah utsaha-ratih shri krishnaya rocate. yathoktam prathama skandhe (S.B. 1.13.40)—manasvinam iva san samprahara iti. tatha shri krishnam vihaya dugdha rakshartham gatayah yashodayas tadrishanushilanam shri krishnaya na rocate. yathoktam shri dashame (S.B. 10.9.6)—sanjatakopah sphurit-aruna-dharam iti. tatha ca tatra tatrativyapty avyaptesh ca varanaya-tanukulyanam pratikulya shunyatvam eva vivakshaniyam. evam satyasureshu dvesha rupa pratikulya sattvan nativyaptih. evam yashodayah pratikulyabhavan navyaptir iti bodhyam.
etena visheshanasyanukulyasyaiva bhaktitvam astu. bhakti samanyasyaiva krishnaya rocamanatvad visheshyasyanushilana-padasya vaiyarthyam ity api shanka nirasta. tadrisha pratikuly-abhava matrasya ghate ’pi sattvat.
uttamatva siddhy-artham visheshana dvayam aha—anyabhilashita-shunyam ityadi. katham bhutam anushilanam? anyasmin bhakty atirikte phalatvenabhilasha shunyam—‘bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya’ (S.B. 11.3.31) ity ekadashokter bhakty uddeshaka bhakti karanam ucitam evetyato ’nyasmin khalu bhakty atirikta iti. yathatranyabhilasha-shunyatvam vihayanyabhilashita shunyam iti svabhavarthaka-tacchilya pratyayena kasyacid bhaktasya kadacid akasmat marana sankate prapte—he bhagavan bhaktam mam etad vipatte sakashad raksheti kadacitkabhilasha sattve ’pi na kshatih. yatas tasya vaivashya hetuka-svabhava-viparyayenaiva tadrish-abhilasho na tu svabhavika iti bodhyam.
punah kidrisham? jnana karmady anavritam—jnanamatra nirbheda brahmanusandhanam na tu bhajaniya-tattvanusandhanam api tasyavashyapekshaniyatvat. karma—smarttam nitya-naimittikadi na tu bhajaniya-paricaryadi tasya tad anushilana rupatvat. adi shabdena phalgu vairagya yoga sankhyabhyasadayastair anavritam na tu shunyam ity arthah. tena ca bhakty avarakanam eva jnana karmadinam nishedho ’bhipretah. bhakty avarakatvam nama vidhi shasanan nitya karmakarane pratyavayadi bhayac-chraddhaya kriyamanatvam tatha bhaktyadi rupeshta sadhanatvac-chraddhaya kriyamanatvan ca. tena loka sangra-harthama shraddhaya pitradi shraddhangam kurvatam mahanu-bhavanam shuddha bhaktau navyaptih. atra shri krishnanushilanam krishna bhaktir iti vaktavye bhagavac-chastreshu kevalasya bhakti shabdasya tatraiva vishrantir ity abhiprayat tathoktam.
Illumination of the meaning of Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu-bindu
namah om vishnupadaya gaura-preshthaya bhutale
shri shrimad bhakti prajnana keshava iti namine
atimartya caritraya svashritananca paline
jiva-duhkhe sadarttaya shri nama-prema dayine
vishvasya natha-rupo ’sau bhakti-vartma-pradarshanat
bhakta-cakre varttitatvat cakravarty-akhyaya bhavat
shri chaitanya mano ’bhishtam sthapitam yena bhutale
svayam rupah kada mahyam dadati sva-padantikam
vancha kalpatarubhyash ca kripa sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo vaishnavebhyo namo namah
namo maha-vadanyaya krishna-prema pradaya te
krishnaya krishna-chaitanya-namne gaura tvishe namah
Let me first of all offer repeated obeisances at the lotus feet of my spiritual master, nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Shri Shrimad Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami, Shri Rupa Gosvami, who is the eternal associate of Lord Gauranga, all the spiritual masters who are following in the line of Shri Rupa Gosvami, and Shri Shri Gauranga Gandharvika Giridhari, Shri Shri Radha- Vinoda-bihari. Praying for their causeless mercy and blessings, this insignificant and lowly person is beginning the translation and commentary named Shri Bindu-vikashini-vritti of this sacred book Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu-bindu written by the supreme teacher among the followers of Shri Rupa Gosvami (rupanugas), Shri Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
Symptoms of Uttama-bhakti
We are beginning hereafter by enumerating the symptoms of uttama-bhakti. The symptoms of uttama-bhakti, as described in the above verse, are of two kinds: (1) svarupa-lakshana (intrinsic characteristics), and (2) tatastha-lakshana (extrinsic characteristics). The svarupa-lakshana is described in the second line of the verse—anukulyena krishnanushilanam bhaktir uttama: uttama-bhakti involves the cultivation of activities favorable to Shri Krishna. This is said to be the svarupa-lakshana of uttama-bhakti because it acquaints us with the inherent nature or svarupa of bhakti.
The tatastha-lakshana is described in the first line of the verse—anyabhilashita-shunyam jnana-karmady anavritam: uttama-bhakti is devoid of all desires other than to please Shri Krishna, and it is not covered by jnana and karma. This is called the tatastha-lakshana because it defines those characteristics which are not part of the nature of bhakti.
Here the svarupa-lakshana of uttama-bhakti will be described beginning with krishnanushilanam. Just as all the various meanings of the verbal roots (dhatus), or in other words the constituent parts of words, can be understood by the ideas they express when applied as verbs (kriya), all the meanings of this verbal root shilana, constant study or practice, may be known by the word anushilana, that is constant practice or cultivation.
There are two meanings of any verbal root or dhatu: ceshta-rupa (in every verbal root some activity is implied) and bhava-rupa (inherent in every action, or accompanying every action, there is some particular sentiment). The meaning of ceshta-rupa is also of two kinds: (1) sadhana-rupa—endeavors in the stage of sadhana leading to the manifestation of bhava (comprising both vaidhi and raganuga-sadhana), and (2) karya-rupa—endeavors which manifest as effects upon attainment of the stage of bhava, or in other words the anubhavas of bhava-bhakti. Included within this category are the eight sattvika-bhavas, such as crying and standing of the hairs on end, and the anubhavas such as singing and dancing. All these effects (anubhavas) are expressions arising from the mind which is constituted of vishuddha-sattva.
Sadhana-rupa is further divided into two parts: pravritti-mulaka or that which is based on performance of positive action, and nivritti-mulaka or that which is based on avoidance of negative action.
The aspect of the verbal root which deals with the performance of positive action refers to favourable endeavors undertaken with the body (kayika), mind (manasika), and speech (vacika). The aspect of the verbal root which involves the avoidance of negative action is different in meaning from that which arises from engagement in positive activity. In other words, nivritty-atmaka-ceshta-rupa involves the avoidance of all activities, also performed with body, mind and speech, which give rise to offenses in service (sevaparadha), offenses to the holy name (namaparadha), and offenses to the holy places (dhamaparadha).
The meaning of bhava-rupa is also of two kinds: priti or love and vishada, despondency. Priti refers to the manifestation of the sthayibhava, and vishada refers to the sancari-bhavas. Shrila Vishva-natha Cakravarti Thakura has explained this same thing in his commentary to Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.3.1). There he says that bhava-rupa may be divided into two aspects: (1) sthayi-bhava-rupa—the permanent sentiment in one of the five primary relationships of shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhura, and (2) sancari-bhava rupa—the internal transitory emotions which arise like waves from the ocean of the sthayibhava, enhance it and then submerge once again into the sthayibhava. There are thirty-three sancari-bhavas, such as nirveda (self-disparagement), vishada (despondency), and dainya (depression).
Sthayibhava-rupa is again divided into two forms: (1) prem-ankura-rupa—the sprout of prema, that is, rati or bhava, and (2) prema-rupa—prema which is developed through the stages of sneha, mana, pranaya, raga, anuraga, bhava, and mahabhava. All these states (bhava and so on) are completely beyond mundane worldly sentiments. They are transcendental and fully situated in unalloyed goodness, vishuddha-sattva. These will be described later.
Of the sixty-four angas of bhakti which are described in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, the first ten beginning from shri guru-padashraya, taking shelter of the lotus feet of a spiritual master, involve the cultivation of bhakti through endeavors (ceshta-rupa) arising from positive activity, pravritti-mulaka. These ten angas are the beginning forms of bhajana. After this, the next ten angas describe activities which are to be given up. These include renunciation of the association of non-devotees, avaishnava-sanga-tyaga, avoidance of seva and namaparadha, and so on. To refrain from such activities is what is meant by the cultivation of bhakti through endeavors (ceshta-rupa) arising from avoidance of negative activity (nivritti-mulaka). One should act in such a way as to exclude these negative items.
The meaning of the word anushilana has thus been defined in terms of endeavors or ceshta-rupa of two kinds, pravrittyatmaka and nivrittyatmaka, and in terms of sentiments which arise in connection with such endeavors, bhava-rupa. When such cultivation or anushilana is in relationship with Shri Krishna or when it is performed for His pleasure, it is called bhakti.
The word krishnanushilana implies two kinds of endeavors or ceshta—all varieties of anushilana which are related to Shri Krishna and all varieties of anushilana which are performed directly for Shri Krishna. This refers to the angas of bhakti such as shri guru-padashraya, accepting diksha (initiation) and shiksha (spiritual instructions) from Shri Gurudeva, vishrambha-bhava-guru-seva (serving the guru with a feeling of great intimacy), and so on. In all these angas of bhakti there is no possibility that the fault of avyapti or under-extension of a definition could occur. In other words there is no possibility that these angas of bhakti could fail to be included within the definition of krishnanushilana.
Similarly, the sthayibhava, including rati, prema, sneha, and so on, and the vyabhicari-bhavas, which both come under the heading of bhava-rupa, are included within the word krishnanushilana. Consequently, there is no possibility of the fault of avyapti occurring in their case either.
Thus anushilana which is undertaken for Krishna both as ceshta-rupa, endeavors, and as bhava-rupa (both sthayibhava and vyabhi-cari-bhava-rupa) is possible only by the mercy of Shri Krishna and the devotees of Krishna. Shri Gurudeva is a parama-bhagavad-bhakta. Therefore, the angas of bhakti known as shri gurupadashraya and so on are also within krishnanushilana. The sthayibhava and other sentiments associated with it, or in other words anubhava, sattvika-bhava, and vyabhicari-bhava are related to Shri Krishna as well. Therefore, they are also within krishnanushilana.
Krishnanushilana or bhakti is a special function (vritti) of the svarupa-shakti or internal energy of Shri Krishna. The body, mind, and senses of the baddha-jivas or conditioned souls are all unconscious. The function of svarupa-shakti can not manifest in the unconscious or inanimate body, mind, and speech of the baddha-jivas. But due to the causeless mercy of the ocean of mercy, Shri Krishna, or the parama-bhagavad-bhaktas, the function of svarupa-shakti obtains identification with (tadatma) and manifests in the body, mind, and words of the devotees (even though they are material) who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of Shri Gurudeva. This subject will be described more clearly ahead.
The meaning of the word tadatma can be understood from the following example. When fire permeates an iron rod, it burns other objects. The iron rod does not burn other objects. In this example, the fire is said to have obtained oneness with the iron rod (tadatma). Similarly, by the mercy of the Lord, the bhakti-vritti of svarupa-shakti obtains tadatma with the body, mind, and words of the devotees and then acts through them.
In the verse under discussion, the word Krishna has been used to indicate Svayam-Bhagavan Vrajendra-nandana Shri Krishna and all other avataras of Shri Krishna. However, there is a gradation in the cultivation of bhakti in accordance with its object—either svayam-avatari Krishna, the original source of all incarnations, or other avataras. This gradation in the anushilana of bhakti will be described later.
The svarupa-lakshana of bhakti has been defined as the cultivation of activities in relationship to Shri Krishna (krishnanushilana). Now in order to further qualify this definition, the word anu-kulyena will be explained. In order to establish the svarupa or inherent nature of bhakti, the qualifying adjective anukulyena (favorably disposed) has been used, because bhakti is not accomplished by unfavorable behavior.
Certain liberal-minded philosophers have defined the meaning of the word anukulya as behavior or engagement which is pleasing. In other words, they say that bhakti or the cultivation of activities in relationship to Shri Krishna should be pleasing to Him. Such engagement which is pleasing to Shri Krishna is termed as anukulya-vishishta-bhakti, or devotion which is favorable to the pleasure of Krishna. But by accepting this kind of meaning, the faults of ativyapti, over-extension of a rule, and avyapti, under-extension of a rule, may become present in the symptoms of bhakti. Ativyapti means that when a definition is too wide it encompasses things which are not to be included within the description. Avyapti means that when a definition is too narrow it excludes things which should be included within the description.
Just as when the asuras Canura, Mushtika, and others struck the limbs of Shri Krishna in the wrestling match, it gave great happiness to Him. He began to taste the vira-rasa (heroism) with great enthusiasm in the company of Canura, Mushtika, and others. In this example, the asuras’ activity of striking the Lord appears to be pleasing to Krishna. A doubt arises here as to how the activity of the asuras can be pleasing to Krishna. In response to this doubt, a portion of the verse from Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.13.30) is cited here—manasvinam iva san samprahara: although in the vision of ordinary persons, a fierce battle with an enemy is the cause of great distress, for great heroes it is very pleasing.
If the activity of the asuras of violently striking the Lord in the wrestling match, due to its being pleasing to Krishna, is accepted as bhakti, then the fault of ativyapti or over-extension enters into the definition of bhakti. In other words, the activity of the asuras of maliciously striking the Lord is completely opposed to bhakti, but because it is pleasing to Krishna, it appears to be included within the characteristics of bhakti.
Another example is when Yashoda-maiya seated Shri Krishna in her lap, and began to breast-feed Him. At that time, the milk on the stove boiled over and was falling into the fire. Yashoda-maiya left Krishna unsatisfied and went to rescue the milk. This was not pleasing to Krishna. His tiny lips began to tremble with anger—sanjata kopah sphuritaruna dharam iti (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.9.6). In this example, because the activity of Mother Yashoda was displeasing to Shri Krishna, it would seem to be excluded from the definition of bhakti. Therefore, here the fault of avyapti or under-extension appears to be present in the definition of bhakti.
The faults of ativyapti and avyapti, respectively, seem to appear in the cited examples of the activities of the asuras and those of Yashoda-maiya. The word anukulya has been used here with the intention of prohibiting these kinds of faults. The real meaning of anukulya is to be completely free of any attitude that is unfavorable or hostile to the Lord.
Without the complete absence of any attitude that is unfavor-able to the Lord, bhakti is not established. According to this principle, the fault of ativyapti cannot be applied to the asuras (in other words the definition of bhakti does not extend to them), because they are always possessed of a malicious attitude toward the Lord. Consequently, because they are not devoid of a hostile attitude, their activities are not counted as bhakti. Here the meaning of anukulya is to be devoid of any attitude unfavorable to the Lord.
On the other hand, the activity of Yashoda-maiya, from the external point of view, appeared to be unfavorable because it was seen to be displeasing to Krishna. But Yashoda-maiya has no trace of any attitude that is displeasing to Krishna. She is always permeated with an attitude that is completely agreeable toward Krishna, being constantly attentive to rearing Him and looking after His welfare. Therefore, this symptom has no contact with the fault of avyapti (in other words, the definition of bhakti does not exclude this example).
The devotees naturally display even greater love toward those things which are favorable toward the service of Krishna than toward Krishna directly. Krishna was to be nourished with the milk that was boiling on the stove. It was only with the idea of Krishna’s future benefit that Yashoda-maiya left Him aside to tend to the milk; therefore, this action is also bhakti.
Someone may raise the contention that if a favorable attitude (anukulya), or in other words, the absence of any inimical attitude (pratikulya) is defined as bhakti, and if bhakti involves some kind of activity that is favorable or pleasing to Krishna, then what need is there to further qualify bhakti by use of the word anushilana (attentive study or practice)? Why has this word been used if it is without meaning? It is with the purpose of responding to just such a doubt that the word anushilana has been employed.
The true nature of bhakti is not established by the mere absence of an inimical attitude, for even within a clay pot there is an absence of animosity. Can the pot then be said to possess bhakti? It never can. It is true that there is no animosity in the pot; however, because there is no activity of the kind implied by the word anushilana, the existence of bhakti cannot be admitted. Therefore, the use of the word anushilana is not without meaning.
Having thus described the svarupa-lakshana of bhakti, the tatastha-lakshana or extrinsic characteristics are described in order to establish the exclusivity of uttama-bhakti. The tatastha-lakshana is pointed out in the beginning of this verse by use of two qualifying terms: (1) anyabhilashita-shunyam, and (2) jnana-karmadyanavritam.
How should the cultivation of activities favorable to Krishna be undertaken? One should act only in such a way that bhakti may be augmented, giving up laukika-abhilasha (worldly desires), paralaukika-abhilasha (other worldly pursuits such as elevation to the heavenly planets and acquisition of mystic perfections in yoga), and any other kind of aspiration. This same idea has been expressed in Shrimad-Bhagavatam: bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya (S.B. 11.3.31)—bhakti is produced only by bhakti. According to this statement, bhakti (shravana, kirtana, and other forms of sadhana) is to be done only for the sake of bhakti. The meaning of this is that sadhana and bhava-bhakti should be done only with the objective of attaining prema-bhakti. Therefore, to be devoid of all desires other than bhakti is uttama-bhakti.
It is especially noteworthy here to consider why it is that the term anyabhilashita-shunyam has been used rather than anyabhi-lasha-shunyam. A very deep and confidential idea of Shrila Rupa Gosvamipada has been concealed in this statement. Shrila Rupa Gosvami has used the term anyabhilashita-shunyam after giving a great deal of consideration to this matter. The term anyabhilasha means a desire for other objects. To this word the suffix in has first been added. This suffix indicates the natural or acquired way of living or acting. When used in conjunction with the word anyabhilasha, it means the innate tendency to act under extraneous desires. To this the suffix ta is added which indicates the quality or state of being of anything. This means that in his natural condition, a sadhaka should have no desires other than for bhakti. But if on the appearance of some unexpected calamity (in an unnatural condition), a sadhaka prays, “O Bhagavan! I am Your devotee. Please protect me from this calamity,” then in spite of this desire, no damage is done to his bhakti. It is only due to some calamity that there is a reversal of his natural condition. Therefore he becomes compelled by circumstances to pray in an unnatural way. It should be understood that this desire is not his innate condition.
The second extrinsic characteristic or tatastha-lakshana is now being explained. The term jnana-karmady-anavritam means that the cultivation of bhakti should be free from the covering of jnana, karma, and so forth. There are three divisions of jnana: (1) tat-padartha-jnana, (2) tvam-padartha-jnana, and (3) jiva-brahma-aikya-jnana.
Knowledge of the Constitutional Identity of Bhagavan
Shri Krishna is the absolute truth, parama-tattva. He is the nondual Parabrahma. He is the origin of all, yet He is without origin. He is the cause of all causes. He is the supreme repository of all the qualities of aishvarya (majesty) and madhurya (sweetness). He is completely bereft of inferior material qualities (prakrita-guna). He is replete with all transcendental qualities (aprakrita-guna). He is sac-cid-anandamaya-vigraha, the embodiment of existence, cognizance, and bliss. He is acintya-sarva-shaktimana, the inconceivable possessor of all potencies. He is the very identity of both rasa and rasika. In other words, He is the abode of all rasa, and He Himself is fully adept in enjoying such rasa in the company of His devotees. He is Svayam-Bhagavan, the ultimate object to be ascertained by all the Vedas and all shastras. He alone is the person to be designated by the term Svayam-Bhagavan. This kind of knowledge is called tat-padartha-jnana.
Knowledge of the Constitutional Identity of the Jiva and his Relationship with Bhagavan
The jivas, as atomic particles of living spirit (cit-paramanu-svarupa), are but infinitesimal rays of the supreme existential spirit, Shri Krishna. Although nondifferent from Lord Hari, they are eternally distinct from Him. The jivas are infinitesimal consciousness, anu-chaitanya, whereas the Lord is the all-pervading consciousness, vibhu-chaitanya. The jivas are subjugated by maya, while the Lord is the controller of maya. Even in the liberated condition, the jiva, in accordance with his nature as the marginal potency, tatastha-shakti, is capable of falling under the sway of material nature (maya-prakriti). The jiva is represented both as knowledge (jnana-svarupa) and as the knower (jnata-svarupa). Although the potentiality for action or karttritva is present in him, he nonetheless remains atomic spirit, anucit.
He has minute independence; therefore, he is by nature the eternal servant of the supreme absolute truth, Shri Krishna. He also possesses eternal separate existence. In other words, he is both independent and dependent. On account of being a product of the tatastha-shakti of Shri Krishna, the jiva’s relationship with Shri Krishna is one of inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference, acintya-bheda-abheda. Apart from this, because he is a portion of the Lord and because the tendency to serve the Lord is inherent in his nature, the jiva’s relationship with Shri Krishna is that of the eternal servant and the served. This type of know-ledge is called tvam-padartha-jnana.
Knowledge of the Oneness of the Jiva and Brahma
There is no difference between the jiva and Brahma. When ignorance is dissipated, the jiva becomes identical with the svarupa of Brahma. At that time, the jiva has no separate existence. This kind of knowledge is called jiva-brahma-aikya-jnana.
The word jnana, which is used in the verse under discussion, refers only to this knowledge of the oneness of the jivas and Brahma. This knowledge is called nirvishesha-jnana, knowledge of non-distinction or impersonalism. Nirvishesha-jnana is opposed to bhakti. But the other two forms of knowledge mentioned before—tat-padartha-jnana and tvam-padartha-jnana—are not opposed to bhakti. When one adopts the path of bhakti, these two types of knowledge are essential. But upon entering the path of bhakti, devotion mixed with empiric speculative knowledge (jnana-mishra-bhakti) is labelled as external (bahya). This type of knowledge must also be given up.
There is no possibility that the jiva’s natural relationship with the Supreme Lord as servant and served could ever arise in jiva-brahma-aikya-jnana. This attitude of servant and served, sevya-sevaka-bhava, is the very life of bhakti. Therefore, to remain fully purified of any taint of nirvishesha-brahma-jnana is the gauna-lakshana or secondary characteristic of uttama-bhakti.
Three Types of Bhakti
One should also remember that bhakti is of three types: sva-rupa-siddha (those endeavors which are purely constituted of uttama-bhakti), sanga-siddha (those endeavors which are associated with or favorable to the development of bhakti but not of themselves purely composed of bhakti), and aropa-siddha (those activities which, although not consisting of pure bhakti, are designated as bhakti due to their being offered to the Supreme Lord).
Endeavors Indirectly Attributed with the Quality of Bhakti
Endeavors which by nature are not purely constituted of bhakti—that is, anukulya-krishnanushilana—and in which the performer, in order to fulfill his own purpose, offers his activities and their results to the Lord so that He may be pleased, is called aropa-siddha-bhakti. In other words, because his activities are assigned (aropa) to the Supreme Lord, bhakti is attributed (aropita) to them.
That bhakti in which there is a mixture of karma or desires for material enjoyment is called sakama-bhakti or saguna-bhakti. Without the assistance of bhakti, karma cannot yield any fruit. Knowing this, many persons offer their prescribed duties for the satisfaction of the Lord, in order that He might fulfill their extraneous desires. The activities of such persons are not sva-rupa-siddha-bhakti. Nonetheless, because they offer the fruit of their activity to the Lord, it is considered as a type of bhakti. Although their activities are offered for the satisfaction of the Lord, their motivation is that by pleasing Him, He may fulfill their extraneous desires. In this case their activities are attributed with the sense of bhakti. Therefore, such endeavors are known as aropa-siddha-bhakti.
Endeavors Associated with or Favorable to the Cultivation of Bhakti
There are other endeavors which, although not purely constituted of bhakti, anukulya-krishnanushilana, acquire a likeness to bhakti due to their being established as assistants to bhakti. Such endeavors are known as sanga-siddha-bhakti. An example of this is found in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.23-25) in the statement of Shri Prabuddha Muni to Maharaja Nimi.
“One should cultivate compassion toward others, friendliness, offering respect to others, cleanliness, austerity, tolerance, silence, study of the Vedas, simplicity, celibacy, non-violence, and so on. One should consider heat and cold, happiness and distress to be the same. One should perceive the presence of the Lord everywhere. One should live in a secluded place, renounce family attachments and remain satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord.”
Even though the behavior or practices of bhagavata-dharma described in this verse are not by nature purely constituted of bhakti, they are assistants to bhakti. Thus they are considered to be like associates or parikaras of bhakti. If bhagavad-bhakti is removed from the twenty-six qualities mentioned, then Bhaga-van has no direct relationship with the remaining qualities such as compassion, friendliness, tolerance, austerity, and so on. Only when theses items exist as assistants to or associates of bhakti is their likeness to bhakti effected. Therefore they are known as sanga-siddha-bhakti.
Endeavors Purely Constituted of Uttama-bhakti
All favorable endeavors or ceshta such as shravana, kirtana, smarana, and so on, as well as the manifestation of the spiritual sentiments which occur beginning from the stage of bhava, which are completely devoid of all desires separate from Shri Krishna and which are freed from the coverings of jnana and karma are known as svarupa-siddha-bhakti. In other words all endeavors of the body, words and mind which are related to Shri Krishna and which are performed exclusively and directly for His pleasure without any intervention are known as svarupa-siddha-bhakti.
Therefore in Raya Ramananda samvada, the conversation between Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Raya Ramananda, found in Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, both aropa-siddha and sanga-siddha-bhakti
*A prakrita-sahajiya is one who abandons the fundamental procedures of sadhana and imitates the symptoms of advanced devotees by a material display.
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(4) The Sixty-four Angas of Bhajana
atha bhajanasya catuh-shashtir-angani
shri-guru-padashrayah, shri krishna-diksha-shikshadi, shri-guru-seva, sadhu-marganusarah, bhajana-riti-prashnah, shri krishna-pritaye bhogadi-tyagah, tirtha-vasah, tirtha-mahatmya-shravanam ca, sva-bhakti-nirvahanurupa-bhojanadi-svikaram, ekadashi-vratam, ashvattha-tulasi-dhatri-go-brahmana-vaishnava-sammanam—purva-dasha-grahanam.
para-dasha-tyagah—asadhu-sanga-tyagah, bahu-shishya-karana-tyagah, bahvarambha tyagah, bahu-shastra-vyakhya-vivadadi tyagah, vyavahare karpanya-tyaga, shoka-krodhadi-tyagah, devatantara-ninda-tyagah, pranimatre udvega-tyagah, sevaparadha-namaparadha-tyagah, guru-krishna-bhakta-ninda sahana tyagah.
vaishnava-cihna-dharanam, harinamakshara-dharanam, nirmalya-dharanam, nrityam, dandavat-pranamam, abhyutthanam, anuvrajya, shri-murti-sthane gamanam, parikrama, puja, pari-caryya, gitam, sankirtanam, japah stavapathah, mahaprasada-seva, vijnaptih, caranamrita-panam, dhupa-malyadi-saurabha-grahanam, shri-murti-darshanam, shri-murti-sparshanam, aratrika-darshanam, shravanam, tat-kripapekshanam, smaranam, dhyanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma-nivedanam, nija-priya-vastu-samarpanam, krishnarthe samasta-karma-karanam.
sarvatha sharanapattih, tulasi-seva, vaishnava-shastra-seva, mathura-mandale vasah, vaishnava-seva, yatha-shakti doladi-mahotsava-karanam, karttika-vratam, sarvada harinama-grahanam, janmashtami-yatradi-kanca, evam unashashti bhakty-angani; atha tatra panca angani sarvatah shreshthani yatha—shri-murti-seva-kaushalam, rasikaih saha shri-bhagavatarthasvadah, sajatiya-snigdha-mahattara-sadhu-sangah, nama-sankirtanam, shri-vrindavana-vasah evam militva catuh-shashty-angani.
Shri Cakravartipada’s Sanskrit Commentary
krishna-dikshaditi—diksha-purvaka shikshanam ity arthah. shri krishneti—shri krishna prapteryo hetuh krishna-prasadas tadartham ity arthah. adi grahanalloka-vitta-putradayo grihyante. seva-namaparadheti—seva-namaparadhanam udbhavah sadhakasya prayo-bhavaty eva, kintu pashcat yatnena tesham abhavakarita.
(1) Shri Guru-padashraya
Taking shelter at the lotus feet of Shri Guru
In all the scriptures which promote bhakti, the unlimited glories of Shri Guru have been described. Without taking shelter at the lotus feet of a sad-guru, it is impossible to enter into the realm of bhagavad-bhajana. Therefore, out of all the angas of bhakti, sad-guru-padashraya has been cited first. It is the duty of all faithful persons who have a desire for bhagavad-bhakti to take shelter at the lotus feet of a spiritual master who is a genuine preceptor of the shastras expounding the glories of Bhagavan and who is expert in understanding and explaining the mantras describing Bhagavan.
All anarthas are easily removed only by the mercy of such a genuine spiritual master and thus one also obtains the supreme favor of Bhagavan. By the mercy of Shri Guru, all anarthas are easily destroyed. Shrila Jiva Gosvami has demonstrated this in his Bhakti-sandarbha (Anuccheda 237) by citing the evidence of various shastras. He has explained this by the statement of Brahmaji as well:
yo mantrah sa guruh sakshat yo guruh sa harih svayam
gurur-yasya bhavet tushtas-tasya tushto harih svayam
The mantra (which is given by the guru) is itself the guru, and the guru is directly the Supreme Lord Hari. He upon whom the spiritual master is pleased also obtains the pleasure of Shri Hari Himself.
The guru’s internal, spiritual mood of service to Shri Radhika and Krishna is conveyed to the disciple through the medium of a mantra. Everything is given in seed form within the mantra. At first the disciple will not be able to understand, but by performing sadhana and bhajana under the guidance of Shri Gurudeva and by meditating on the mantra given by him, gradually everything will be revealed. Therefore it is said here that the mantra is the direct representation of Shri Gurudeva.
In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (4.360) it is stated:
harau rushte gurus-trata, gurau rushte na kashcana
tasmat sarva-prayatnena gurum-eva prasadayet
Even if a person incurs the displeasure of the Lord, the spiritual master may still give him protection, but if the spiritual master is displeased, there is no one to give him protection. Therefore, one should please Shri Gurudeva by all endeavors of one’s body, mind, and words.
The author Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has also said: yasya prasadad-bhagavat-prasado yasyaprasadan-na gatih kuto ’pi—“For one who pleases the spiritual master the Supreme Lord is automatically pleased, but for one who displeases the spiritual master there is no means of obtaining success. I therefore meditate upon Shri Gurudeva, offer prayers to him, and bow down before him three times a day.”
What is required to be a guru? This has been stated in the eleventh canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21):
tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh shreya uttamam
shabde pare ca nishnatam brahmany-upasamashrayam
In the Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 202, Shrila Jiva Gosvami has defined the meaning of the words shabde pare ca nishnatam in the following statement: shabde brahmani vede tatparya vicarena nishnatam tathaiva nishtham praptam, pare brahmani-bhagavad-adi-rupavirbhavestu aparokshanubhavena— “One who is expert in explaining the purport of the Vedas which are shabda-brahma, who has direct experience of Parabrahma (the Supreme Brahman, Shri Krishna), and who is devoid of all material expectations and requirements should be accepted as a genuine spiritual master. One should take shelter of such a guru through the process of hearing in order to know the truth regarding sadhana, the means, and sadhya, the goal.”
Similarly, it has been stated in the Shrutis (Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12): tad-vijnanartham sa gurum-evabhigacchet samit-pani shrotriyam brahma-nishtham—“In order to obtain direct realization of the supreme absolute reality, bhagavat-tattva-vastu-vijnana, or knowledge concerning prema-bhakti, a person who is desirous of his own welfare, should approach a sad-guru who knows the purport of the Vedas and who is learned in the truths regarding Shri Krishna. Taking an offering in one’s hands, one should submit oneself to such a sad-guru with body, mind and words.”
Shrila Jiva Gosvami has here described that the instructors who disseminate knowledge of bhagavat-tattva are of two kinds—saraga, with attachments, and niraga, without attachments. Instructors who are greedy for wealth and who maintain desires for sensual enjoyment are known as speakers with material attachments or saraga-vaktas. The influence of such instructors is not enduring. An instructor who is a topmost devotee of the Lord (parama-bhagavad-bhakta), who is adept in relishing bhakti-rasa and evoking spiritual emotions in others (sarasa), and who is capable of extracting the essence of anything (saragrahi) is known as a speaker without attachments or niraga-vakta. The verse cited above refers exclusively to the instructor who is devoid of attachments (niraga-vakta).
In Bhakti-sandarbha, Shrila Jiva Gosvami, in examining guru-tattva, has cited three types of gurus: shravana-guru, shiksha-guru, and diksha-guru.
The person from whom one hears knowledge of the bhaktas, bhakti, and bhagavat-tattva is known as the shravana-guru. In the conversation between Maharaja Nimi and the Nava-Yogendras in the eleventh canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.22) it is said:
tatra bhagavatan dharman shikshed gurvatma-daivatah
amayayanuvrittya yais tushyed atmatma-do harih
A sadhaka should adopt the practice of bhakti free from all hypocrisy. He should approach a guru who knows all the truths related to Supreme Lord and who is very dear to the Lord. The sadhaka should receive instructions on bhagavat-dharma from such a spiritual master. By carrying out those instructions, Bhaga-van Shri Hari personally gives Himself to the devotee.
Such a person who gives instructions on how to execute bhajana is called a shravana-guru. There may be many shravana-gurus; nonetheless, the sadhaka should take shelter of one mahat-purusha among them who is suitable to his nature and receive instructions from him regarding how to perform bhajana.
Out of many such competent shravana-gurus, one who gives instructions in bhajana which are just suitable to the bhava of the sadhaka is called a shiksha-guru. There may be many shiksha-gurus also; however, it is advantageous to have one shiksha-guru in particular who is conducive to one’s mood. The shravana-guru and the shiksha-guru are usually one and the same person as stated in the Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 206—atha shravana-guru bhajana shiksha-gurvoh prayakam-ekatvam-iti tathaivaha: “The shravana-guru and the bhajana-shiksha-guru are usually the same person.” The verses already cited ‘tasmad gurum prapadyeta’, ‘tatra bhagavatan dharman sikshed ’, ‘tad-vijnanartham’, and so on should be understood in relationship to both the shravana-guru and the shiksha-guru.
One who gives a mantra for worship according to the rules and regulations of scripture is called a diksha-guru or mantra-guru. The diksha-guru should possess all the symptoms already described of a mahat-purusha (described in shloka four in reference to sadhu-sanga) and those described in connection with the sad-guru. The diksha-guru should be well conversant in the conclusions of the Vedas, he should be adept in expounding those conclusions, he should have direct experience and realization of Bhagavan, and he should be completely detached from material sense objects. If he is lacking in these characteristics then the faith of the disciples will waiver.
There is only one diksha-guru. The shiksha-guru should be in conformity with the diksha-guru; otherwise, impediments may arise in the practice of sadhana. Ordinarily the diksha-guru carries out the function of shiksha-guru. In his absence, one should accept an advanced devotee possessing the characteristics already describ-ed as one’s shiksha-guru.
There is no direction that permits one to renounce a sad-guru; however, a guru who has become inimical to Vaishnavas, the shastras, and bhakti, who is engrossed in sense enjoyment, who is lacking discrimination as to what is duty and what is not duty, who is foolish, or who is following a path other than shuddha-bhakti should be given up. It is directed in various places in the shastra that one should then take diksa again from a Vaishnava guru in accordance with the rules and regulations. This is the purport of the verses quoted below from Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 238:
guror apy avaliptasya karyakaryam-ajanatah
utpatha-pratipannasya parityago vidhiyate
(Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva, 178.48)
avaishnavopadishtena mantrena nirayam vrajet
punash-ca vidhina sabhyag grahayed-vaishnavad-guroh
In other words, one who accepts a mantra from a non-Vaishnava guru goes to hell. Therefore, one should again receive diksha-mantra from a Vaishnava guru in accordance with the rules and regulations.
(2) Shri Krishna-diksha-shikshadi
(Receiving initiation and spiritual instructions)
It is essential to accept diksha and shiksha from a guru in order to gain entrance into bhagavad-bhajana. In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa the following is said regarding diksha:
divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya sankshayam
tasmad-diksheti sa prokta deshikais-tattva-kovidaih
(Hari-bhakti-vilasa, 2.9; cited from the Vishnu-yamala)
That religious undertaking which bestows divya-jnana or transcendental knowledge and destroys papa (sin), papa-bija (the seed of sin), and avidya (ignorance) to the root is called diksha by learned authorities in the absolute truth.
Therefore, a faithful sadhaka will dedicate his entire self to the lotus feet of Shri Gurudeva, offer pranama unto him, and take diksha from him by receiving a Vaishnava mantra in accordance with the rules and regulations of the shastra. The meaning of divya-jnana referred to above is that the jiva is not a material phenomena; the jiva is an atomic particle of spiritual consciousness belonging to the sac-cid-ananda-svarupa of Shri Krishna. By virtue of this, the jiva is nothing other than the nitya-dasa of Bhagavan. This is also stated in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 20.108: jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krishnera ‘nitya dasa’: “the svarupa or identity of the jiva is to be an eternal servant of Shri Krishna.”
Although the jiva is by nature an eternal servant of Bhagavan, because his face has been averted from the Lord (bhagavad-vimukhata) from a time without beginning (anadi-kala), he has been wandering in various species of life. He is thus being scorched by the threefold miseries of material existence.
By the causeless mercy of the ocean of mercy Shri Bhagavan or His devotees, the jiva attains sadhu-sanga. By the potency of that sadhu-sanga, the jiva offers himself at the lotus feet of Shri Gurudeva. By bestowing the krishna-mantra, Shri Gurudeva dispels the jiva’s aversion toward the Lord (bhagavad-vimukhata) and directs his attention toward the performance of bhagavad-bhajana. He gives sambandha-jnana concerning bhagavad-tattva, jiva-tattva, and maya-tattva and awakens the dormant inclination of the jiva to serve the Lord (bhagavad-unmukhata). As a consequence of this, papa, papa-bija, and avidya of the sadhaka are all destroyed to the root. This procedure of diksha is not completed in one day; rather, it is begun from the day of diksha.
In the Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 283, Shrila Jiva Gosvami has explained the meaning of divya-jnana in the following words: divyam jnanam hy atra mantre bhagavat-svarupa jnanam, tena bhagavata sambandha-vishesha jnananca— “Divya-jnana is transcendental knowledge contained within a mantra which reveals the form and identity of the Supreme Lord (bhagavat-svarupa) as well as the knowledge of the sadhaka-jiva’s particular relationship with the Lord.”
The relationship between Bhagavan and the jiva is that of servant and served. Bhagavan is the served (sevya) and the jiva is the servant (sevaka)—this is only a general relationship. In the advanced stage, this same relationship manifests in one particular form out of the various moods of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, or madhura. Shri Gurudeva, knowing the svarupagata-bhava, or in other words the natural, inherent disposition of the sadhaka, gives nourishment to that particular mood within his heart in order to bring it clearly into view. In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.12), quoting a statement from the Tattva-sagara, it is said:
yatha kancanatam yati kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah
tatha diksha-vidhanena dvijatvam jayate nrinam
Just as bell metal is turned to gold by a particular alchemical process, a man can obtain to the state of being a dvija by the process of Vaishnava diksha.
By the word nrinam used in this verse, Shrila Sanatana Gosvami has indicated a person who has received initiation. In other words, a person who receives diksha becomes a dvija* or twice-born. By the word dvijatvam he has indicated that one attains to the state of a brahmana or one who knows the absolute truth Brahman. The word dvijatva used here does not mean the state of being a dvija by initiation into the sacred thread like that of the kshatriyas and vaishyas. By the procedure of diksha the disciple is born again. This is called birth by diksha (daiksha janma).
There are three kinds of birth: (1) shaukra-janma—seminal birth or birth by mother and father, (2) savitra-janma—a ceremony in which a boy is initiated into one of the three twice-born classes by being invested with the sacred thread, and (3) daiksha-janma—birth by the process of diksha or spiritual initiation. Even a shudra or an untouchable person (antyaja) who is born in the lowest family obtains the samskaras for being a dvija upon being initiated in accordance with the regulations of the Pancaratra. This is the purport of the following statement from the Maha-bharata, Anushasana-parva, 143.46:
etaih karma-phalair-devi nyuna jati kulodbhavah
shudro ’py agama-sampanno dvijo bhavati samskritah
As a result of these activities, O goddess, even a shudra born in a low caste family becomes twice-born and endowed with the agama (the scripture).
In a conversation between Rukmangada (a king) and Mohini quoted from the Skanda Purana it is said (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.6):
adikshitasya vamoru kritam sarvam nirarthakam
pashu-yonim-avapnoti diksha virahiti janah
O Vamoru (O woman with beautiful thighs)! All the auspicious activities of men are worthless without accepting diksha. A person who is bereft of diksha obtains birth in the animal species of life.
In the Bhakti-sandarbha, Shrila Jiva Gosvami has said that without undergoing the upanayana-samskara* even children appearing in twice-born families are unfit to study the shastras and to perform yajnas. Similarly, without diksha one is unfit to worship the mantra-devata, or presiding deity of the mantra.
It is seen in the shastras in connection with the glories of bhagavan-nama that there is so much potency in the Lord’s name that even without undergoing diksha, purificatory ceremonies (sat-kriya), or preparatory rites (purashcarya), harinama is competent to produce results as soon as it comes in contact with the tongue. This is expressed in the following statement of Shri Lakshmidhara cited from Padyavali (29):
akrishtih krita-cetasam sumahatam uccatanam cahasam
acandalam amuka-loka sulabho vashyash ca moksha shriyah
no diksham na ca dakshinam na ca purashcaryam managikshate
mantro ’yam rasanasprigeva phalati shri krishna-namatmakah
This mahamantra, composed of the names of Shri Krishna, is so astonishingly powerful and accessible that it yields fruit as soon as it touches the tongue. Because it attracts even liberated souls who are purified at heart and whose desires are fully satiated, this mantra is supreme in its power of subjugation. It eradicates great sins which could not be destroyed by yajna, yoga, tapa, dana, and other means. Because it can be chanted anywhere at any time, it is so easily available that even candalas or anyone who is not mute can chant it. By its causeless mercy, it submits itself to a person who merely desires to chant. The rare wealth of moksha runs behind to serve it. Unlike other mantras, the chanting of this mahamantra is not dependent on receiving diksha from a guru, moral conduct, or preparatory rites.
Shrila Jiva Gosvami, in discussing this topic in the Bhakti-sandarbha (283), has said that in spite of the statements in the shastras as to the autonomous potency of the holy name, the previous mahajanas such as Shri Narada and so on first accepted diksha from their gurus and then performed their sadhana and bhajana in worship of their ishtadeva (the beloved deity of their heart). Similarly, those who desire to follow in the footsteps of those mahapurushas must also accept diksha into bhagavad-mantra from Shri Gurudeva, because without accepting diksha, one’s relationship with Bhagavan as dasya, sakhya, and so on cannot be awakened. That relationship is established only by the lotus feet of Shri Guru. The custom of diksha was honored by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers, the gosvamis. It is prevalent even today in their followers.
Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has clearly said that those persons who have abandoned the pursuits of karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, japa, tapa, and other processes of sadhana, who have accepted Bhagavan as their ishtadeva and who are engaged in shravana, kirtana, and smarana of bhagavan-nama, but who have not accepted diksha from a Vaishnava guru according to the Vaishnava regulations, cannot attain the Supreme Lord. They will merely be prevented from entering hell, or in their next birth, by the influence of the bhajana performed from the previous life, they will obtain sadhu-sanga. By then taking shelter at the lotus feet of a guru, receiving diksha from him and making advancement through the different stages of bhakti, they can attain the Supreme Lord.
In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (5.450-451) quoting from the Skanda-Purana, Shrila Sanatana Gosvami has said:
evam shri bhagavan sarvaih shalagrama-shilatmakah
dvijaih stribhish-ca shudraish-ca pujyo bhagavatah paraih
brahmana-kshatriya-visham sac-chudranam-athapi va
shalagrame ’dhikaro ’sti na canyesham kadacana
In the commentary on the above verse it is stated that upon receiving diksha in accordance with the regulations of shastra, everyone, whether they be a brahmana, vaishya, kshatriya, a woman or a shudra, becomes qualified to worship Bhagavan in the form of shalagrama shila. The word sat-shudra from the verse means a shudra who has received diksha. After receiving diksha, a shudra no longer remains a shudra. In the shastras, statements are sometimes seen forbidding women and shudras from the worship of shalagrama shila. These statements, however, do not apply to persons who have taken diksha—they are intended for those who have not received diksha; “yatha-vidhi diksham grihitva bhagavat-pujaparaih sadbhir ityarthah.”
In the Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.98), the following verse is quoted from Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.22):
tatra bhagavatan dharman
shikshed gurvatma daivatah
One should know Shri Gurudeva to be one’s supreme benefactor, friend, and most worshipable deity—the direct personification of Hari. One should always follow him without duplicity and take instructions from him about bhagavata-dharma. By this practice, the Supreme Lord Hari becomes pleased and gives Himself to the disciple.
(Serving Shri Guru with love)
In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Shri Krishna Himself has declared to Uddhava: “Know the acarya to be My own very self and never disrespect him. Never find fault with him considering him to be an ordinary man, for all the devatas reside within Shri Gurudeva.” All those anarthas which cannot be removed even by very rigid practice of sadhana are easily destroyed by serving Shri Gurudeva without duplicity. “yasya prasadad-bhagavat-prasado, yasya-prasadan-na gati kuto ’pi ”—The mercy of Shri Guru is itself the mercy of Bhagavan. If one has the mercy of Shri Guru, then even if Bhagavan is displeased, the spiritual master will take responsibility to please Him. But if the spiritual master is displeased then Shri Bhagavan will never forgive such an offender. Therefore, considering the spiritual master to be one’s supreme friend, one should serve him with great love.
Some persons who are not conversant with the conclusions of the shastras serve only the spiritual master, thinking him to be Bhagavan. They think that there is no need to perform service or bhajana of the Lord separately. Such persons go as far as offering tulasi and other articles at the feet of Shri Gurudeva. This thinking is opposed to the shastras. According to the shastras, just as one possesses para-bhakti toward Shri Bhagavan, one should similarly possess bhakti toward the lotus feet of Shri Gurudeva; otherwise, all one’s efforts in sadhana and bhajana will bear no result.
yasya deve para-bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hyartha prakashante mahatmanah
(Shvetashvatara Upanishada 6.23)
For one who has para-bhakti toward the Supreme Lord and toward Shri Gurudeva, all the conclusions mentioned in the shastras regarding the supreme, ultimate reality, Shri Bhagavan, become manifest in his heart. For those who have no bhakti toward the lotus feet of the spiritual master, the conclusions of the shastra are not revealed.
(Following the path of sadhus)
The method by which the mind may be fixed at the lotus feet of Krishna can be called sadhana-bhakti. But one should pursue the very same path by which the previous mahajanas attained the Lord. The reason for this is that the path which has already been chalked out by the mahajanas is free from all distress and hardship, and it is the cause of all auspiciousness.
sa mrigyah shreyasam hetuh panthah sastapa-varjjitah
anavaptashramam purve yena santah pratasthire
(Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.100, from Skanda-Purana)
No path can be properly ascertained by any one individual. All the previous mahajanas following in consecutive succession one after another have made the path of bhakti-yoga neat and clean and free from obstruction. They have eliminated all the petty obstacles and disturbances along the path and made it very easy and free from fear. Therefore, we must take support from the specific path which they have laid. Even though one may be engaged in aikantiki-bhakti (exclusive devotion) toward Lord Hari, yet if one transgresses the regulations of the shastras like the Shruti, Smriti, Puranas or the Pancaratra, his bhakti can never produce a beneficial effect. Rather, it will simply be the cause of calamity.
aikantiki harer-bhaktir-utpatayaiva kalpate
(Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.101, from Brahma-yamala)
A question may be raised here as to how aikantiki-bhakti toward Lord Hari could ever be the cause of calamity? In response to this it is said that the exclusive or one-pointed mood (aikantika-bhava) of shuddha-bhakti is obtained only by taking support of the path of the previous mahajanas. By abandoning the path of the previous mahajanas and erecting some other path, the mood of one-pointed devotion is not obtained. Therefore, Dattatreya, Buddha and other recent teachers, not being able to comprehend shuddha-bhakti, accepted in its place a mere reflection of shuddha-bhakti and thus propagated paths which were mixed with mayavada and atheism (nastikata). Some aspect of aikantiki-hari-bhakti is attributed to these paths, but in reality the paths introduced by those persons are not hari-bhakti—they are a disturbance (utpata).
In the bhajana of those who pursue the raga-marga, there is no dependence upon the regulations of the Shruti, Smriti, Puranas and Pancaratra. It is dependent simply upon following of the Lord’s eternal associates of Vraja. But for those sadhakas who have adhikari for the vidhi-marga it is essential to take support only of the path of bhakti specified by Dhruva, Prahlada, Narada, Vyasa, Shuka and other mahajanas. In particular, it is even more beneficial to follow the path shown by Shri Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami and other associates of Shri Shacinandana Gaura Hari who is the savior of the fallen conditioned souls of the age of Kali and who is decorated with the sentiment and complexion of Shri Radha. One should also follow subsequent mahajanas following in their line. Therefore, for vaidha-bhaktas there is no method other than following the path of sadhus.
(Questions about the procedures of bhajana)
Sad-dharma means true religion or in other words the religion of true sadhus. In the association of saintly persons, sadhakas should inquire about those procedures which the sadhus have adopted to attain the Lord. To inquire with great persistence in order to understand those procedures is called inquiry about sad-dharma. This has been stated in the Narada Pancaratra:
aciradeva sarvarthah sidhyaty-esham-abhipsitah
sad-dharmasyavabodhaya yesham nirvandhini matih
Those whose minds are exceedingly anxious to know all about sad-dharma, or the procedures of bhakti, very quickly attain all their cherished goals.
(Renunciation of all enjoyment for the sake of Krishna)
To enjoy material pleasure through activities such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and mating is called bhoga (material enjoyment). This bhoga is principally opposed to bhajana. Bhajana becomes easily accessible by giving up such material enjoyments for the sake of krishna-bhajana. A person attached to sense enjoyment is like a person addicted to intoxication. He becomes so engrossed in the enjoyment of material pleasure that he can not perform pure bhajana. Therefore, he should only accept bhagavat-prasada in the mood of service. He should protect and maintain the body only to keep it fit for the service of the Lord. He should give up all types of material enjoyment, particularly on holy days such as Ekadashi, Janmashtami, Rama-navami, Phalguni-Gaura-purnima, Nrisimha-caturdashi, and so on.
(To live in a sacred place
and to hear the greatness of such places)
By living in close proximity to holy rivers like the Ganga or Yamuna connected to the Lord’s pastimes or by living in sacred places where the Lord appeared and enacted various pastimes, nishtha is awakened. In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.105-107) the following has been said about residing at a holy place:
samvatsaram va shanmasan masam masarddham-eva va
dvaraka-vasinah sarve nara naryash-caturbhujah
By living in Dvaraka for one year, six months, one month or even for fifteen days, a man or woman becomes a four-armed denizen (of Vaikuntha).
aho kshetrasya mahatmyam samantad-dasha-yojanam
divishtha yatra pashyanti sarvan-eva caturbhujan
The glories of Purushottama Dhama (Jagannatha Puri) are extraordinary. The devatas from the celestial planets look upon all living beings spread within a radius of ten yojanas (approximately eighty miles) of this sacred place as four-handed denizens of Vaikuntha.
ya vai lasac chri-tulasi-vimishra
punati seshan-ubhayatra lokan
kastam na seveta marishyamanah
The shastras have extensively proclaimed the glories of residing on the bank of sacred rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, and others. The above verse is taken from Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.19.6). “The Bhagavati (Ganga), which carries the most sacred water mixed with the dust of the Lotus feet of Shri Krishna and the beautiful, alluring tulasi, purifies everyone in this world as well as the world beyond (paraloka) including Shiva. Therefore, who is there on the verge of death who will not take up her service?” (In other words all should engage in the service of the Ganga.)
In Jaiva Dharma Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that resi-dence anywhere within the thirty-two mile radius of Shri Nava-dvipa, and in particular within Mayapura, is identical to residence within Shri Vrindavana. Of the seven holy places which yield liberation—namely, Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kashi, Kanci, Avantika, and Dvaraka—Mayapura is the chief. The reason for this is that in Mayapura Shriman Mahaprabhu has manifested His eternal abode of Shvetadvipa.
Four centuries after the appearance of Shriman Mahaprabhu, this Shvetadvipa has become the most important of all the holy tirthas on the planet earth. By living at this place, all kinds of offences are destroyed and one obtains shuddha-bhakti. Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati has described this dhama to be non-different from Shri Vrindavana and in some places he has given even greater importance to Shri Mayapura.
Those who are incapable of living at the above-mentioned holy places can hear the glories of those places, and by doing so, a strong desire will arise to live there. When the time is ripe, they may then obtain the good fortune to reside at a holy place.
(Accepting only what is required
for the sustenance of bhakti)
In the Naradiya Purana it is said:
yavata syat svanirvahah svikuryat-tavad-arthavit
adhikye nyunatayanca cyavate paramarthatah
A wise person (arthavit) or one who actually knows the value of wealth should accept only as much wealth and other things as is required in order to be steadfast in carrying out one’s obligations in the matter of bhakti. For, if one accepts more or less than one’s actual requirement, he falls down from spiritual life and thus his real wealth (paramartha) becomes spoilt.
Sadhakas who are fit for vaidhi-bhakti may earn wealth by honest means prescribed in accordance with varnashrama-dharma in order that they may sustain their existence. It is beneficial for them to accumulate wealth only in proportion to their needs. If one is anxious to seize more than what he requires, attachment will arise which will systematically destroy his bhajana. If one accepts less than what he needs, it will also be detrimental, because by doing so, one will be in scarcity and his bhajana will dwindle. Therefore, until one has earned the qualification to become completely desireless (nirapeksha), he should practice shuddha-bhakti and accept wealth only in a proportion appropriate for the maintenance of his existence.
(9) Shri Ekadashi-vrata
(Observing the vow of Ekadashi)
The name of shuddha Ekadashi is Harivasara or the day of Lord Hari. Shuddha Ekadashi means pure Ekadashi. This refers to a circumstance in which there is no overlapping or mixture of tithis or lunar days. When the Ekadashi
32 Offenses to be Avoided in Service
yanairva padukair-vapi gamanam bhagavad-grihe devotsavady aseva ca apranamas tad-agratah ucchishte vapy ashauce va bhaga-vad vandanadikam eka-hasta-pranamash ca tat purastat pra-dakshinam pada-prasaranan cagre tatha paryanka-bandhanam shayanam bhakshanan capi mithya-bhashanam eva ca uccair-bhasha mitho jalpa rodanadi tad-agratah nigrahanugrahau caive nishthura-krura-bhashanam kambalavaranan caiva para-ninda para-stutih ashlila-bhashanan caiva adhovayu-vimokshanam shaktau gaunopacarash ca anivedita-bhakshanam tat-tat-kalodbhavanan ca phaladinam anarpanam viniyuktavashishtasya vyanjanadeh samarpanam prishthi krityasanan caiva paresham abhivandanam gurau maunam nija-stotram devata-nindanam tatha aparadhas tatha vishnor dvatrimshat parikirttitah.
varahe ca aparadhash ca te ’pi sankshipya likhyante yatha—“rajanna-bhakshanam, dhvantagare hareh sparshah, vidhim vina hary-upasarpanam, vadyam vina tad-dvarodghatanam, kukkuradi-dushta-bhakshya-sangrahah, arccane mauna-bhangah, puja-kale vin utsargaya gamanam, gandha-malyadikamadattva dhupanam, anarha pushpena pujanam.
akritva dantakashthan ca kritva nidhuvanam tatha sprishtva rajasvalam dipam tatha mritakam eva ca raktam nilam adhautan ca parakyam malinam patam paridhaya, mritam drishtva vimucyapanamarutam krodham kritva shmashanan ca gatva bhuktvapy ajirnabhuk bhuktva kusumbham pinyakam tailabhyagam vidhaya ca hareh sparsho hareh karma karanam patakavaham.
tatha tatraivanyatra—bhagavac-chastranadara—purvakam anya shastra—pravartanam, shri murti sammukhe tambula carvanam, erandadi—patrastha—pushpair arcanam, asura kale puja, pithe bhumau va upavishya pujanam; snapana kale vama hastena tat-sparshah, paryushitai yacitair va pushpair arcanam, pujayam nishthivanam, tasyam svagarva pratipadanam, tiryak pundra-dhritih, aprakshalita-padatve ’pi tan-mandira-praveshah, avaishnava pakva nivedanam, avaishnava drishtena pujanam, vighneshama pujayitva kapalinam drishtva va pujanam, nakhambhah snapanam, gharmambuliptatve ’pi pujanam, nirmalya langhanam, bhagavac-chapathadayo ’nye ca jneyah.
It has been previously stated that one must give up offenses in regards to service. In the Agama shastra these sevaparadhas are said to be of thirty-two types: (1) to enter the temple wearing sandals, (2) to enter the temple seated on a palanquin, (3) to disrespect or to fail to observe the festivals of one’s cherished deity (ishta-deva), (4) to not offer prostrated obeisances to one’s cherished deity although being present directly before Him, (5) to offer prayers to the Lord without washing the hands and mouth after eating, (6) to offer prayers to the Lord in an unclean condition, (7) to offer obeisances with only one hand, (8) to show one’s back to the Lord while circumambulating. (In circumambulating the Lord, one first passes along the right side of the deity, then behind the back, next along the left side and finally one comes face to face with the deity again. As one continues circumambulating, one must turn so as to avoid showing one’s back to the deity as one passes in front of Them. To fail to do so is an offense), (9) to spread one’s feet in front of the deity, (10) to sit in front of the deity with hands binding one’s raised knees, (11) to lie down in front of the deity, (12) to eat in front of the deity, (13) to tell lies in front of the deity, (14) to speak loudly before the deity, (15) to converse with one another about mundane subjects before the deity, (16) to shed tears on account of earthly matters before the Lord, (17) to show favor to or to repri-mand someone before the deity, (18) to speak harshly to others in front of the deity, (19) to wear a coarse blanket in front of the Lord or while serving the deity, (20) to blaspheme others in front of the deity, (21) to praise others, (22) to use obscene language before the Lord, (23) to pass wind before the Lord, (24) to serve the Lord by offering Him secondary or minor articles although competent to offer first-class items (i.e., at the time of worshiping the deity, if one is competent to offer all the principal paraphernalia of worship such as flowers, tulasi, incense, lamp, and food offerings, but instead offers only secondary items like water, it is an offense), (25) to eat food items that are not offered to the Lord, (26) to not offer the Lord the fruits and flowers that are in season, (27) to personally enjoy the first portion of anything or present it to someone else and then offer the remainder to the Lord, (28) to sit with one’s back to the deity, (29) to offer obeisances or salutation to others in front of the deity, (30) to remain silent in front of one’s spiritual master, that is, to not offer prayers and obeisances to him or to remain silent without responding to his questions, (31) to praise oneself, and (32) to slander the devatas. These are the thirty-two types of seva aparadha. One should strictly avoid them.
Other seva aparadhas that have been mentioned in the Varaha Purana are briefly stated here as follows: to eat grains supplied by the king or government; to touch the deity in a house or temple permeated by darkness; to approach the deity without following the scriptural regulations; to open the door of the temple without ringing a bell or making any sound; to collect items which have been left by a dog or other animals; to break one’s silence at the time of worshiping the deity; to go out in order to evacuate at the time of worship; to offer incense without first offering scents and flower garlands; to worship with forbidden flowers; to worship the Lord without cleansing one’s teeth or without bathing after sexual intercourse; to worship the deity after touching a woman in menstruation, a lamp or a dead body; to worship the Lord wearing red or blue clothes, unwashed or dirty clothes or clothes belonging to another; to worship the deity after seeing a dead body; to pass wind while worshiping the deity; to worship the Lord in anger, after visiting a cremation ground, or in a state of indigestion; and to touch and worship the deity after taking an oil massage. To commit any of these activities is an offense.
In other shastras as well there are seva aparadhas that are worthy of attention: to propagate other shastras while disregarding those that are related to the Lord; to chew betel (tambula) in front of the deity; to worship the deity with flowers kept in the leaves of castor plants or other forbidden plants; to worship at forbidden times (when demoniac influences are prominent); to worship while sitting on a four-legged wooden stool or without any sitting mat (asana); to touch the deity with the left hand at the time of bathing the Lord; to worship with stale flowers or with flowers which have already been asked for by others; to spit at the time of worship; “I am a great pujari,” to glorify oneself in such terms; to apply tilaka on the forehead in a curved manner; to enter the temple without washing one’s feet; to offer food grains to the Lord cooked by a non-Vaishnava; to worship the deity in the presence of a non-Vaishnava; to worship the deity after seeing a Kapalika* without first offering worship to Lord Shri Nrisimhadeva; to bathe the Lord with water touched with the finger nails; to worship when the body is covered with perspiration; to step over the offerings to the Lord, and to take a vow in the name of the Lord. Many other seva aparadhas have been mentioned in the scriptures.
(The Severity of Namaparadha)
sarvaparadha krid api mucyate hari samshrayat
harer apy aparadhan yah kuryad dvipada pamshanah
namasrayah kadacit syat taratyeva sa namatah
namno ’pi sarva-suhrido hy aparadhat patatyadhah
Sadhakas should remain thoroughly attentive to avoid committing all the above-mentioned offences. Even a person who has committed all kinds of offenses is redeemed by taking shelter at the lotus feet of Shri Hari. If a most wretched and fallen person (a two-legged animal) who has committed severe offenses at the feet of Shri Hari ever takes shelter of the holy name of Shri Hari, then the holy name alone mercifully delivers him from all such offenses. There is no doubt of this whatsoever. Therefore, shri harinama is the best friend of all. But if one should commit an offense at the feet of shri harinama, his falldown is inevitable. (The above two verses are quoted from Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, 1.2.119-120)
atha namaparadha dasha: yatha—vaishnava-nindadi-vaishnavaparadhah; vishnu-shivayoh prithag-ishvara-buddhih; shri gurudeve manushya-buddhih; veda-puranadi shastra-ninda; namni arthavadah; namni kuvyakhya va kashta-kalpana; nama-balena pape pravrittih; anya shubha karmabhi nama-samya-mananam; ashraddha-jane namopadeshah, nama mahatmye shrute ’pi apritih—iti dashadha.
Ten kinds of namaparadha will now be described in connection with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.
(1) To commit offenses against the Vaishnavas by slandering them, and so on (ninda adi). The word adi here refers to the six kinds of Vaishnava aparadha indicated in the following verse from the Skanda Purana quoted in the Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 265:
hanti nindati vai dveshti vaishnavan nabhinandati
krudhyate yati no harsham darshane patanani shat
To beat Vaishnavas, to slander them, to bear malice or envy against them, to fail to welcome them, to become angry with them, and to not feel happiness upon seeing them—by these six types of Vaishnava aparadha, one falls down to a degraded position.
(2) To consider Lord Shiva to be the Supreme Lord, separate and independent from Lord Vishnu.
(3) To consider Shri Gurudeva to be an ordinary human being.
(4) To slander the Vedas, Puranas and other scriptures.
(5) To consider the praises of shri harinama to be imaginary, in other words, to consider that the praises which have been described in the shastras in reference to harinama are not actually present in the holy name.
(6) To give an unauthorized and misleading explanation of shri harinama, in other words, to abandon the established and reputed meaning of the shastras and foolishly concoct some futile explanation; for example—because the Lord is incorporeal, nirakara, formless, arupa, and nameless, anama, His name is also imaginary.
(7) To engage in sinful activities again and again, knowing that there is such power in the holy name that simply by uttering shri harinama all sins are vanquished.
(8) To consider all kinds of religious or pious activities to be equal to shri harinama.
(9) To instruct faithless persons about shri harinama.
(10) To not awaken love for the name in spite of hearing the glories of shri nama.
These ten offenses must certainly be avoided. In the practice of hari-bhajana, one should first of all be very attentive to avoid all seva aparadhas and namaparadhas. One should know these aparadhas to be severe obstacles on the path of bhajana and vigorously endeavor to give them up. Without giving up these offenses, there can be no question of advancement in bhajana; rather, the sadhaka’s falldown is assured.
The sadhaka should also be vigilant not to commit any seva aparadhas in the matter of arcana or worship of the deity. Seva aparadhas which are committed unknowingly in the course of serving the deity are mitigated by wholehearted surrender unto Lord Hari, by offering prayers unto Him and, in particular, by taking shelter of shri harinama. The holy name mercifully forgives all one’s seva aparadhas. Shri harinama is even more merciful than the Shri Vigraha. But if in spite of taking shelter of shri harinama one is inattentive again in the matter of namaparadha, then his falldown is assured.
atha vaidhi lakshanam—shravana kirtanadini shastra shasana bhayena yadi kriyante tada vaidhi bhaktih.
Now the symptoms of vaidhi-bhakti are being described. If the angas of bhakti such as shravana and kirtana are performed out of fear of scriptural discipline, it is called vaidhi-bhakti.
Shri Cakravartipada’s Sanskrit Commentary
athatra sadhanadau pravritti-samanye kutracit lobhasya karanatvam kutracit shastra shasanasya. tatra ca yasyam bhaktau lobhasya karanatvam nasti kintu shastra-shasanasyaiva sa vaidhityaha yatreti. rago ’tra shri-murter-darshanad-dashama-skandhiya-tat-tal-lila shravanad-bhajane lobhas-tad-anavaptatvat-tad-anadhinatvad-dhetoh shastrasya shasanenaiva ya pravrittir-upajayate sa bhaktir-vaidhi ucyate.
Bhakti is of two kinds: vaidhi-bhakti and raganuga-bhakti. The angas of sadhana which are performed on the path of bhakti of both these types are generally considered to be one and the same. Nonetheless, there is a specific distinction between them. In some devotees intense longing or greed (lobha) is the cause of engagement in bhakti; whereas, in others the discipline of the shastras is the cause of engagement in bhakti. Sadhana-bhakti which is not inspired by intense longing, but is instigated instead by the discipline of the shastra is called vaidhi-bhakti.
yatra raganavaptatvat pravrittir upajayate
shasanenaiva shastrasya sa vaidhi bhaktir ucyate
One should understand what is meant by the discipline of the shastra. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam and all the scriptures, bhagavad-bhakti is said to be the supreme duty for the jivas. If a person fulfills all his worldly obligations but does not engage in hari-bhajana, he descends to a dreadful hell.
ya esham purusham sakshad-atma-prabhavam-ishvaram
na bhajanty-avajananti sthanad-bhrashtah patanty-adhah
The original Supreme Lord is Himself the creator of the four varnas and four ashramas. He is the Lord, the controller, and the soul of them all. Therefore, if anyone belonging to the four varnas and ashramas fails to worship the Lord and disrespects Him instead, he is deprived of his position, social status (varna), and ashrama and falls down to hell.
In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya, 22.26), Shrila Kavi-raja Gosvami has described the substance of this shloka in the verse given below:
cari varnashrami yadi krishna nahi bhaje
svakarma karite se raurave padi’ maje
The brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, and shudras may perfectly carry out their varna-dharma. The brahmacaris, grihastas, vana-prasthas, and sannyasis may thoroughly execute their ashrama-dharma. If, however, they do not worship Shri Krishna, then although they may obtain elevation due to material prestige, their piety will wane, and they will most certainly fall down to the hell known as raurava.
In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (7.1.32), Devarshi Narada has said:
tasmat kenapy upayena manah krishne niveshayet
The basic and primary aim of all types sadhana is to fix the mind on Krishna by whatever method is effective.
This is stated in the Padma Purana also:
smartavyah satatam vishnur vismartavyoh na jatucit
sarve vidhi nishedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah
That which has been ascertained in the shastras to be duty for the jivas is called vidhi, regulation, and that which has been forbidden is called nishedha, prohibition. Vaidha-dharma for the jivas or religion that is enacted in accordance with scriptural regulations involves observance of the rules and giving up prohibitions. One should remember Lord Vishnu at all times—this is the basis of all positive injunctions or vidhi. All the regulations of varna and ashrama are attendants of this primary injunction. Never forget the Lord at any time—this is the basis of all prohibitory injunctions or nishedha. All the prohibitory injunctions such as the avoidance of sins, abandonment of apathy toward the Lord, and atonement of sins, are attendants of this primary prohibition. To observe these rules and prohibitions is to accept the discipline and direction of the scriptures. When the jivas are engaged in bhakti out of fear of violating the directions of the shastras it is called vaidhi-bhakti.
By taking darshana of the Shri Vigraha of the Lord and by hearing the sweetness of the pastimes of Shri Krishna in childhood, boyhood, and youth, as described in the tenth canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, intense longing (lobha) arises for the practice of bhajana. When intense longing has not arisen (in other words, when lobha is not the cause of one’s engagement in bhakti) and the discipline of the shastra is alone the cause for such engagement, it is called vaidhi-bhakti.
atha raganuga-lakshanam—nijabhimata vraja-raja-nandanasya seva prapti-lobhena yadi tani kriyante tada raganuga bhaktih; yad uktam—
seva sadhaka-rupena siddha rupena catra hi
tad bhava lipsuna karya vraja-lokanusaratah
krishnam smaran janancasya preshtham nijasamihitam
tat-tat-katha ratashcasau kuryad vasam vraje sada
sadhaka rupena yathavasthita-dehena siddha-rupena antash-cintitabhishta-tat sevopayogi dehena. tasya vrajasthasya shri krishna preshthasya yo bhavo rati-visheshas tal-lipsuna. vrajalokas tat-tat krishna preshtha-janah shri radha-lalita-vishakha-rupa manjaryyadyas (1) tad-anugatah shri rupa gosvami-prabhritayash ca (2) tesham anusaratah. tatha ca siddha rupena manasi seva shri radha-lalita-vishakha-shri rupa manjaryyadinam anusarena karttavya. sadhaka rupena kayiky adi sevatu shri rupa-sanatanadi vraja-vasinam anusarena karttavyety arthah. etena braja-loka padena vrajastha shri radha-lalitadya eva grahyas tasam anusarenaiva sadhaka dehena kayikyadi-sevapi karttavya. evam sati tabhir guru-padashrayanaikadashi-vrata shalagrama tulasi sevadayo na kritastad anugater asmabhir api na karttavya ityadhunikanam vimatam api nirastam.
ataeva shri jiva gosvami-caranair api asya granthasya tikayam tathaivoktam. yatha—vraja-lokas tat tat krishna preshtha-janas tad anugatash ca iti. atha raganugayah paripatimaha krishnam ityadina. preshtham sva-priyatamam kishoram nandanandanam smaran evam asya krishnasya tadrisha-bhakta-janam. athaca svasya samyag-ihitam sva-samana-vasanam iti yavat. tathaca tadrisham janam smaran vraje vasam sada kuryat. samarthye sati shriman nanda-vrajavasa-sthana-vrindavanadau sharirena vasam kuryat. tad abhave manasapity arthah.
Bhakti which involves the practice of the angas of bhakti such as shravana and kirtana carried out by sadhakas with intense longing (lobha) to obtain the service of their innermost desired object, Vrajaraja-nandana, Shri Krisna, is called raganuga-bhakti.
Raganuga-bhakti is performed in two ways: (1) with the sadhaka-rupa—with the external body through execution of the angas of bhakti, and (2) with the siddha-rupa—with the internally conceived body that is suitable for carrying out the perfected service (prema-seva) for which one aspires. Residing in Vraja with an intense desire to obtain one’s cherished object Shri Krishna and the divine sentiments (bhava) of His beloved associates (that is, rati towards Shri Krishna), one should follow in the footsteps of the eternal residents of Vraja, the dear associates of Shri Krishna, such as Shri Radhika, Lalita, Vishakha, and Shri Rupa Manjari. One should also adhere to their followers such as Shri Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, and others. With one’s internally conceived body, siddha-rupa, one should execute service within the mind (manasi-seva) in accordance with the eternal associates of Vraja such as Shri Radha, Lalita, Vishakha, and Shri Rupa Manjari. With the external body, sadhaka-rupa, one should carry out bodily services following in the wake of perfectly realised devotees such as Shri Rupa and Sanatana who are also residents of Vraja.
If someone raises the objection that the word ‘vraja-loka’ refers only to Shri Radha, Lalita, and others, then with the sadhaka-deha (the external body) one should perform bodily services following in their wake. If this indeed were the case, then the followers of those eternal associates would not find it necessary to carry out the angas of bhakti such as taking shelter of a spiritual master (shri guru padashraya), observance of Ekadashi, worship of shalagrama, worship of tulasi, and so on, since it is not mentioned anywhere that Shri Radha and Lalita ever performed such activities. However, this erroneous conclusion (apasiddhanta) held by skeptics who have taken shelter of modern adverse opinions is also refuted by the word vraja-loka.
In his commentary to this shloka of Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.295), Shrila Jiva Gosvamipada has explained the same thing; namely, that the word vraja-loka refers to the dearmost associates of Shri Krishna and their followers such as Shri Rupa Gosvami and others. Therefore, one should perform internal service (manasi-seva) through the medium of the siddha-deha by following in accordance with Shri Rupa Manjari and other Vrajavasis. With the sadhaka-deha, one should perform bodily service by following Shri Rupa Gosvami and others.
According to the conclusion of the Six Gosvamis, Shrila Kaviraja Gosvami and other rasika Vaishnava acaryas, the lila-rasa of Vrajendra-nandana Shri Krishna is the object to be tasted by raganuga-sadhakas. But it is not possible to taste the lila-rasa of Shri Krishna without entering into shri gaura-lila. In other words, only through the medium of gaura-lila is it possible to taste the lila-rasa of Shri Krishna. In Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 25.271, 274), Shrila Kaviraja Gosvami has stated this as follows:
krishna-lila amrita-sara, tara shata shata dhara
dasha-dike vahe yaha haite
se chaitanya-lila haya, sarovara akshaya,
manohamsa caraha’ tahate
nana-bhavera bhakta-jana, hamsa-cakravaka-gana,
yate sabe’ karena vihara
krishna-keli sumrinala, yaha pai sarva-kala,
bhakta-hamsa karaye ahara
The pastimes of Shri Krishna are the essence of all transcendental nectar. These nectarine pastimes flow in hundreds and hundreds of streams, inundating the ten directions. The pastimes of Lord Chaitanya are an imperishable reservoir of nectar, saturated with the pastimes of Krishna. O swanlike mind! Please wander on this transcendental lake.
The devotees situated in various transcendental moods are like swans and cakravaka birds who play upon the transcendental lake of Krishna’s pastimes. The sweet bulbs of the stalks of lotus flowers are the sportive amorous pastimes of Shri Krishna. Shri Krishna eternally enacts such pastimes and, consequently, they are the foodstuff for the swanlike devotees who have taken shelter of Shri Gaurasundara who is the eternal embodiment of vipralambha-rasa and identical in form to Shri Krishna, the eternal embodiment of sambhoga-rasa.
In his book Prarthana (13), Shrila Narottama Thakura has similarly written:
gaura-prema rasarnave se tarange yeba dube
Gaura-prema is an ocean of rasa. Those who submerge themselves in the waves of that ocean, emerge in the waves of the confidential and intimate service of Radha-Madhava.
Shrila Kaviraja Gosvami and Shrila Narottama Thakura have composed the above verses for the benefit of raganuga-sadhakas. Therefore, raganuga-sadhakas should taste krishna-lila through the medium of gaura-lila. Consequently, it is essential for sadhakas to remember gaura-lila and to follow the eternal associates of Lord Chaitanya. Since it is necessary to follow the gaura-parikaras, it is certainly imperative that one observe the angas of bhakti (guru-padashraya, Ekadashi-vrata, tulasi-seva, shri shalagrama-seva and so on) which were practiced by the foremost associates such as Shrila Rupa Gosvami and others. There is no doubt about this.
Shri Rupa Gosvami, who is an eternal associate of Shri Gaurasundara, serves Shri Radha-Krishna as Shri Rupa Manjari in krishna-lila. Shri Rupa Manjari, appearing as Shrila Rupa Gosvami with the attitude of a sadhaka, weeps again and again and prays anxiously to obtain the service of Shri Yugala. Sometimes while praying in this way, he would become so deeply immersed in the emotional trance of Rupa Manjari that he would taste the happiness of direct service. Therefore, raganuga-sadhakas must certainly follow Shri Rupa-Sanatana and other gosvamis. Opposed to this are those who vainly consider themselves as rasika-sadhakas but who do not adopt the angas of bhakti, such as guru-padashraya and Ekadashi vrata. They can never obtain the service of Shri Yugala.
This subject is extremely deep. Without the mercy of Shri Gurudeva or shuddha-rasika-bhaktas, the sadhaka cannot conceive of his siddha-deha (perfected spiritual body) by himself. Therefore, the contemplation of one’s nitya-siddha-deha arises of its own accord only by the merciful indication of Shri Guru-deva. By continual remembrance of ashta-kaliya-lila (the pastimes of Krishna performed in eight divisions of the day), performed internally (manasi-seva) with the nitya-siddha-deha, one obtains svarupa-siddhi (perception of one’s eternal perfected form which occurs at the stage of bhava-bhakti) and ultimately vastu-siddhi. (Vastu-siddhi is attained after giving up this body and taking birth in Krishna’s bhauma-lila, from the womb of a gopi. After attaining the association of Krishna’s eternal associates and being purified of all final traces of material identification, when prema is intensified, one attains vastu-siddhi).
But one should always bear in mind that not everyone has the eligibility to perform Yugala-seva by meditating in this way on Their supramundane (aprakrta), daily pastimes. This practice must be concealed very diligently. One should not disclose these pastimes to ineligible persons. Until genuine greed (lobha) to enter into the raga-marga arises in the heart of the jiva bound by matter, this subject should be kept hidden from him. One remains ineligible to hear the confidential pastimes of Shri Yugala which are saturated with rasa as long as the conception of the transcendental nature of the Lord’s name, form, qualities, and pastimes has not implanted itself in the heart. In other words, one should understand that the name, form, qualities and pastimes of Shri Krishna are fully constituted of pure spiritual transcendence (shuddha-chinmaya-svarupa). When ineligible persons hear or study these pastimes they recall only the illusory and mundane association of men and women and are thus compelled to fall down. Thus they sink down into the muck of debauchery. Therefore, judicious students, proceeding cautiously, may enter into this lila, after having obtained the appropriate impressions (samskara) for aprakrita-shringara-rasa, following the example of Devarshi Narada.
The fundamental conclusion is that only upon obtaining the aforementioned eligibility can the sadhaka undertake the discipline (sadhana) of raganuga-bhakti. By following this method of sadhana while still plagued with anarthas and without the appearance of genuine greed, the opposite effect will be produced. When genuine greed for vraja-bhajana arises, one should first of all take shelter of a dear devotee of Shri Gaurasundara who is identical in every respect to Shri Vrajendra-nandana. The beloved devotees of Lord Gaura will instruct us on the path of raganuga-sadhana in accordance with our eligibility. Otherwise, if one falls into bad association and by ill advice, imitates the bhajana practices of those on the highest level of eligibility, then under the guise of adopting one’s siddha-deha one will obtain only a harmful effect.
Some persons, distorting the meaning of the instruction that one should perform bhajana according to the residents of Vraja, consider themselves as Lalita, Vishakha, or others. Although males, they adopt a female dress and perform bhajana making themselves out to be sakhis. By such practices, they destroy themselves and others. They think, “I am Lalita”, “I am Vishakha.” This attitude leads to ahangrahopasana of the mayavadis. (Ahangrahopasana is a type of worship in the course of which one considers himself to be identical with the object of worship). Such persons become offenders at the feet of Lalita and Vishakha and fall down to a most dreadful hell.
Without faithful adherence to the vraja-gopis, no one is entitled to enter into the conjugal service of Yugala-kishora. Even amongst the various types of sakhis, the manjari-sakhis are themselves followers of the sakhis. To perform bhajana in allegiance to the manjari-sakhis is the aspiration of Shriman Mahaprabhu. This is supported by Shrimad-Bhagavatam and the shastras composed by our Gosvamis. In order to pursue manjari-bhava, one must certainly follow the associates of Shri Gaurasundara such as Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis. Shrila Narottama Thakura has expressed this in his song dealing with the worship of manjari-bhava. In one verse of this song, he has indicated his own heartfelt longing (Prarthana, 39):
shri rupa manjari-pada sei mora sampada
sei mora bhajana-pujana
sei mora pranadhana sei mora abharana
sei mora jivanera-jivana
Shrila Narottama Thakura says: “The lotus feet of Shri Rupa Manjari are my supreme wealth. To meditate upon and serve those lotus feet are my topmost methods of bhajana and pujana. They are a treasure more precious to me than life itself. They are the ornament of my life. Not only that, they are the very life of my life.
He also says (Prarthana, 40):
shuni yachi sadhu-mukhe bale sarva-jana
shri rupa-kripaya mile yugala-carana
ha! ha! prabhu sanatana gaura-paribara
sabe mili vancha-purna karaha amara
shri rupera kripa yena ama prati haya
se-pada ashraya yara, sei mahashaya
prabhu lokanatha kabe sange lana yabe
shri rupera pada padme more samarpibe
I have heard from the mouth of Vaishnava sadhus that only by the mercy of Shrila Rupa Gosvami can one obtain the lotus feet of Shri Yugala. Crying out, ‘Alas! Alas!’ again and again, Shri Narottama Thakura exclaims: “O Sanatana Prabhu! O supremely merciful Vaishnava associates of Lord Gaura! All of you please fulfill my heart’s longing. I pray again and again that the mercy of Shri Rupa Gosvami may shower down upon me. O what wonder! One who has attained the shelter of the lotus feet of Shrila Rupa Gosvami is indeed most fortunate. When will my Shrila Gurudeva, Shrila Lokanatha Gosvami, take me with him to meet Shri Rupa Gosvami and offer me at his lotus feet?”
Now the methodology of raganuga-bhakti is being described. The sadhaka, continuously remembering Shri Krishna in the pastime form which is most cherished by him and the beloved associates of Shri Krishna whom he desires to follow, should always reside in Vraja with great attachment to hearing their lila-katha. One should remember Krishna as navakishora (a fresh youth) and natavara (the best of dancers) and at the same time one should remember Shri Rupa Manjari and other priya-sakhis of Shri Krishna who are deeply affected with the sentiments that one cherishes in his heart. Being intently focused on this kind of remembrance, the sadhaka should always live in Vraja. If one is capable, he should physically take up residence in Vrindavana (Vrindavana, Nandagaon, Varshana, Govardhana, Shri Radha-Kunda, and other places in Vraja). Otherwise, he should adopt residence in Vraja within his mind.
In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita the following is said in connection with the cultivation of raganuga-bhakti:
bahya, antara,—ihara dui ta’ sadhana
‘bahye’ sadhaka-dehe kare shravana-kirtana
mane nija-siddha deha kariya bhavana
ratri-dine kare vraje krishnera sevana
(Cc, Madhya 22.156-157)
nijabhishta krishna-preshtha pache ta’ lagiya
nirantara seva kare antarmana hana
dasa-sakha-pitradi preyasira gana
raga-marge nija-nija-bhavera ganana
ei mata kare yeba raganuga-bhakti
krishnera carane tanra upajaya ‘priti’
(Cc, Madhya 22.159, 161, 164)
The practice of raganuga-bhakti is undertaken in two ways: with the sadhaka-sharira, the external body, and with the siddha-sharira, the internal perfected spiritual form. With the external sadhaka-deha, one should adopt the angas of bhakti such as shravana, kirtana, and so on. With one’s siddha-sharira, revealed by the mercy of the spiritual master, one should serve Shri Radha-Krishna Yugala day and night in Vraja. Following the beloved associate of Shri Krishna that one cherishes within one’s heart (the associate towards whose service the sadhaka has developed lobha), one should constantly serve Yugala-kishora with an enraptured heart. By following the mood and sentiment (bhava) of one of Krishna’s associates among the servants, friends, parents, or lovers, corresponding to one’s own disposition, the sadhaka attains affection for the lotus feet of Shri Krishna that is exactly of the same nature as the associate whom he follows. This is the method of raganuga-bhakti.
(10) Further Discussion on Raganuga-bhakti
tatra raganugayam smaranasya mukhyatvam. tac ca smaranam nija-bhavo cit-lilavesha svabhavasya shri krishnasya tat-priya-janasya ca. tathaiva kirtanadikam api arcanadav api mudra-nyasadi-dvarakadhyanadi-rukminyadi pujadi kam-api-nija-bhava-prati-kulyadagamadi-shastra-vihitam api na kuryad iti, bhakti-marge kincit kincit anga-vaikalye ’pi doshabhava smaranat.
na hyangopakrame dhvamso mad-dharmasyoddhavanvapi
maya vyavasitah samyan nirgunatvad anashishah
angivaikalye tu astyeva doshah. yad uktam—
shruti-smriti-puranadi-pancaratra vidhim vina
ekantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate
yadi cantare rago vartate, athaca sarvam-eva vidhi drishtyaiva karoti, tada dvarakayam rukminyaditvam prapnoti
In raganuga-bhakti, referred to above, the predominant anga is smarana (remembrance). Smarana should be related to Krishna and His beloved associates who are distinguished by pastimes (lila), emotional rapture (avesha), and natures (svabhava) that are appropriate for one’s own internal spiritual mood. The other angas of bhakti such as kirtana and so on should also be related to Krishna and His dear ones who are characterized by pastimes, emotional rapture, and natures befitting one’s own internal spiri-tual mood.
In the process of arcana (worship of the deity), one is recommended to employ mudras (particular positions of intertwining the fingers), nyasa (consigning the pranas or the five life-airs to the mind, or mental assignment of various parts of the body to different deities), meditation on Dvaraka, worship of the queens of Dvaraka, and so on. Although these limbs of bhakti are prescribed in the Agama shastras, they are not to be followed in raganuga-bhakti because they are unfavorable to one’s particular spiritual mood, bhava-pratikula.
Thus on the path of bhakti, although there may be some diminution or relinquishment of certain angas, no detrimental effect will ensue. In regards to this topic, Bhagavan Shri Krishna has said to bhakta Uddhava:
na hy angopakrame dhvamso mad-dharmasyoddhavanvapi
maya vyavasitah samyan nirgunatvad anashishah
O Uddhava! Once the practice of bhakti-dharma consisting of shravana and kirtana related to Me has begun, no harm whatsoever can be done to the root of bhakti, even though there may be diminution of certain angas. This is because bhakti-dharma is beyond the jurisdiction of the material modes of nature. There is no possibility of its being destroyed by any means because I have ensured this dharma in this way for My unalloyed devotees (nishkama-bhaktas).
On the path of bhakti, no harm is done either by non-performance of the assortment of activities appropriate for varnashrama or by diminution of certain angas of bhakti. This is fine. But there is certainly great harm if there is diminution of any of the principle angas of bhakti such as taking shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, shravana, kirtana, and so on. Therefore, one should take great care that there be no decline in any of the principle angas of bhakti. This is declared in the Agama shastra as quoted in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.101):
shruti-smriti-puranadi-pancaratra vidhim vina
aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate
Although engaged in single-minded devotion to Lord Hari, if one transgresses the regulations mentioned in the Shruti, Smriti, Puranas and the Narada Pancaratra, great misgivings (anarthas) are produced.
There is one more point to be considered. A devotee who has an intense desire (lobha) within his heart to obtain the spiritual mood of the Vrajavasis and who executes all the angas of bhakti in accordance with the vidhi-marga, obtains fidelity only to Rukmini and the other principle queens of Dvaraka. In other words, he attains to the position of the queens of Dvaraka.
Because the practice of smarana is predominant in raganuga-bhakti, some persons, prior to the actual appearance of raga within the heart, make a deceitful display of solitary bhajana while still plagued with anarthas. They consider themselves as raga-nuga-bhaktas and thus begin to practice remembrance of ashta-kaliya-lila. But to display the exclusive devotion that is described in the shruti-smriti-puranadi verse is for them the cause of great disturbance. Some ineligible persons who are entangled in anarthas obtain so-called siddha-pranali by going here and there, and by imitation, they begin to consider themselves fit to conduct the practice of raganuga-bhakti. But without the appearance of genuine greed (lobha), they cannot obtain qualification by pretentious means.
Because the vidhi-marga is mixed with the mood of Dvaraka and the majestic conception (aishvarya), one cannot obtain the service of Vrajendra-nandana Shri Krishna by that means. This is confirmed in Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya, 8.226: vidhi-marge nahi paiye braje krishnacandra—“One cannot obtain Shri Krishnacandra in Vraja by following the vidhi-marga.”
(11) Five Types of Raganuga-sadhana
atrayam vivekah vraja-lila-parikarastha-shringaradi-bhava-madhurye shrute “idam mamapi bhuyat” iti lobhotpatti-kale shastra-yuktyepeksha na syat. tasyan ca satyam lobhatvasyaivasiddheh. na hi kenacit kutracit shastra drishtya lobhah kriyate. kintu lobhye vastuni shrute drishte va svata eva lobha utpadyate. tatash ca tad bhava prapty upaya-jijnasayam shastrapeksha bhavet, shastra evam prapty upaya likhanat nanyatra. tac ca shastram bhajana pratipadakam shri bhagavatam eva. teshu bhajaneshv api madhye kanicit tad bhava mayani kanicit tad bhava sambandhini kanicit tad bhavanu-kulani kanicit tad bhavaviruddhani kanicit tad bhava prati-kulaniti panca vidhani sadhanani. tatra dasya sakhyadini bhava mayanyeva. guru padashrayato mantra japadini tatha preshthasya nija samihitasya tat priya-janasya ca sama yocitanam lila-guna-rupa-namnam shravana-kirtana-smaranani vividha paricaranani ca bhava sambandhini.
tat prapty utkanthayam ekadashi janmashtami kartika-vrata bhoga-tyagadini taporupani tathashvatha tulasyadi sammananadini tad bhavanukulanyeva. namakshara-malya-nirmalyadi dharana pranamadini tad bhavaviruddhani. uktanyetani sarvani karmani karttavyani. nyasa-mudra dvarakadi dhyanadini tad bhava pratikulani raganugayam varjaniyani. evam svadhikaro-citani shastreshu vihitani karttavyani, nishiddhani tu sarvani varjaniyani.
The distinctive point to be understood in this matter is that upon hearing of the sweetness of the conjugal mood (or the mood of the other rasas) displayed by Krishna’s eternal associates in vraja-lila, one begins to think: “This mood is possible for me also.” When this type of greed arises, one is no longer dependent on the reasonings of the shastra. As long as one is dependent upon the arguments of the shastra, one has not obtained consummation of his greed. In other words, it should be understood from this that greed has not yet arisen in the sadhaka. This is so because greed is never observed in anyone who is dependent on the reasoning of the shastra. Rather, by hearing about or seeing an enticing object, greed automatically arises to acquire it.
Nonetheless, after the appearance of greed when one inquires, “How may this irresistible vraja-bhava be obtained?” there is dependence upon the shastra because it is only in the shastra and nowhere else that the method of obtaining this is written. The shastra from which this method may be known is Shrimad-Bhagavatam for it has ascertained the method of bhagavat-bhajana.
Among the angas of bhajana, some are tad-bhavamaya (composed of bhava), some are tad-bhava-sambandhi (related to bhava), some are tad-bhava-anukula (favorable to bhava), some are tad-bhava-aviruddha (not opposed to nor incompatible with bhava), and some are tad-bhava-pratikula (opposed to bhava). Thus sadhana is seen to be of five types as explained below:
The four primary relationships of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhura are known as bhavamaya-sadhana. (When shravana, kirtana and other such angas of bhakti become saturated with one of the bhavas of dasya, sakhya and so on, they nourish the future tree of the sadhaka’s prema. Therefore, dasya, sakhya, and so on are called bhavamaya-sadhana).
The angas of bhakti beginning from acceptance of the shelter of a spiritual master, mantra-japa, hearing, chanting and remembering of the name, form, qualities, and pastimes appropriate for different periods of the day of dearest Shri Krishna and the beloved associates of Krishna toward whom one has attraction, and rendering various services unto them are known as bhava-sambandhi-sadhana. (The upadana-karana, or material cause of bhava is called bhava-sambandhi. That by which bhava attains maturity is called the material cause. Bhava is shaped or molded by the various angas of bhakti such as guru-padashraya and so on. Therefore, these angas are called bhava-sambandhi-sadhana or that which is related to bhava).
The observance of Ekadashi, Janmashtami, and karttika-vrata, the renunciation of sense pleasure and other austerities performed for the pleasure of Krishna, offering respect to tulasi, the Pipala tree (the holy fig tree), and others—all of these angas of bhakti performed with great eagerness to obtain one’s cherished bhava (among the four attitudes of dasya, and so on) are favorable to bhava. In other words, they are helpful for the attainment of bhava; therefore, they are known as bhava-anukula-sadhana.
Wearing the remnants of flower garlands and other paraphernalia offered to the deity, stamping one’s body with the syllables of shri harinama, offering obeisances and other such angas of bhakti are called bhava-aviruddha-sadhana. That which is not opposed to the attainment of one’s bhava is bhava-aviruddha. It is one’s duty to carry out the previously mentioned angas of bhakti.
Mental assignment of different parts of the body to various deities (nyasa), particular positions of intertwining the fingers (mudra), meditation on Krishna’s pastimes in Dvaraka and other such angas shhould be abandoned in raganuga-bhakti because they are opposed to the attainment of one’s desired bhava (bhava-pratikula).
Thus according to one’s eligibility, one is obligated to perform the angas of bhakti prescribed in the shastra and to reject those which are forbidden.
Bhakti in the Budding Stage of Ecstatic Love
atha sadhana bhakti paripakena krishna kripaya tad bhakta kripaya va bhava bhaktir bhavati. tasya cihnani nava prity ankurah, yatha—
kshantir avyartha-kalatvam viraktir mana-shunyata
ashabandhah samutkantha nama-gane sada-rucih
asaktis tad-gunakhyane pritis-tad-vasati-sthale
ityadayo ’nubhavah syur-jata bhavankure jane
tada krishna sakshatkara yogyata bhavati. mumukshu-prabhritishu yadi bhava cihnam drisyate tada bhava-bimba eva natu bhavah. ajnajaneshu bhavac-chaya
Now bhava-bhakti is being described. This bhava-bhakti is not obtained by any means of sadhana. Rather, by continual performance of shravana, kirtana and other angas of bhakti, when bhakti attains maturity, it automatically cleanses all misgivings from the heart of the sadhaka. At that time bhava-bhakti manifests itself in the transparent heart by the mercy of Shri Krishna or His devotees.
rucibhish-citta-masrinya-krid asau bhava ucyate
Bhava-bhakti (bhava-rupa krishna-anushilana) is a special mani-festation of shuddha-sattva. In other words, the constitutional characteristic of bhava-bhakti is that it is a phenomena entirely constituted of shuddha-sattva. It is like a ray (kirana) of the sun of prema and it softens the heart by various tastes (ruci).
In his commentary on this verse, Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has written as follows:
When the previously mentioned sadhana-bhakti succeeds in softening the heart by various tastes (ruci), it is called bhava-bhakti. The word ruci here refers to three kinds of taste: (1) bhagavad-prapti-abhilasha (desire for the attainment of Shri Krishna), (2) anukulya-abhilasha (desire to do that which is favorable to Krishna), and (3) sauharda-abhilasha (desiring to serve the Lord with affection). The constitutional identity or svarupa of bhava-bhakti is that it is fully composed of shuddha-sattva (shuddha-sattva-visheshatma). The words shuddha-sattva refer to the self-manifest cognitive function (samvit-vritti) of the Lord’s own internal spiri-tual energy known as svarupa-shakti.
The addition of the word vishesha to the words shuddha-sattva indicate the second supreme potency (maha-shakti) of svarupa-shakti known as hladini. It should be understood from this that the condition known as maha-bhava, which is the highest state of development of the hladini-shakti, is also included within shuddha-sattva-vishesha. Therefore, that supreme function (parama-pravritti) which is fully possessed of desire favorable to Shri Krishna, which is the essence of the combination of the samvit and hladini potencies, and which is situated in the heart of the Lord’s eternal associates, being indistinguishably unified with the condition of their hearts (tadatma-bhava), is known as shuddha-sattva-visheshatma. In simpler language, the nitya-siddha-bhava situated in the hearts of the eternal associates of Shri Krishna is called shuddha-sattva-visheshatma. This bhava-bhakti is like the first ray of the sun of prema-bhakti. Therefore, it is also called the sprout of prema (premankura).
In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has explained this verse in simple and straightforward language. We are citing his words here for the benefit of the reader. Prema-bhakti is the fruit of sadhana-bhakti. There are two categories of prema-bhakti—the state of bhava and the state of prema. If prema is compared with the sun, then bhava can be said to be a ray of the sun of prema. Bhava, which is of the identity of vishuddha-sattva, melts the heart by various kinds of taste (ruci). At first, while describing the general symptoms of bhakti, it was said that bhakti involves the cultivation of activities in relationship to Krishna (krishna-anushilana). The state in which that cultivation becomes saturated with vishuddha-sattva and softens the heart by ruci is called bhava.
When bhava makes its appearance within the faculty of the mind, it attains the state of identification with the mental fac-ulty. In reality, bhava is a self-manifest condition, but when it makes its appearance within the mental faculty, it appears as though it was brought into manifestation by the faculty of the mind. That which is referred to here as bhava is also known as rati. Although rati is itself relishable, it is understood to be the cause of tasting Shri Krishna and various paraphernalia related to Shri Krishna.
It should be understood here that rati (the word rati also means love or affection) is that particular bhava (the word bhava also means love, affection or emotion) which is a fully spiritual reality (cit-tattva). It is not a substance belonging to the world of inert matter. The rati (mundane affection) which the baddha-jivas have toward mundane sense objects is merely a perverted reflection, arising from contact with matter, of a fragmented portion of the true spiritual bhava of the jiva. When, within the world of matter, one takes up the cultivation of activities in relationship with the Supreme Lord, then rati in its cognitive aspect (samvit-amsha), becomes the cause of tasting worthy objects which are related to the Supreme Lord. At the same time, by virtue of its pleasure-giving aspect (hladini), rati itself bestows spiritual delight.
On the appearance of bhava-bhakti, the nine following symptoms are observed:
kshantir avyartha-kalatvam viraktir mana-shunyata
ashabandhah samutkantha nama-gane sada-rucih
asaktis tad-gunakhyane pritis-tad-vasati-sthale
ityadayo ’nubhavah syur-jata-bhavankure jane
Kshanti (forbearance or tolerance), avyartha-kalatva (effectual use of one’s time), virakti (detachment from worldly enjoyment), mana-shunyata (absence of pride), asha-bandha (steadfast hope that Krishna will bestow His mercy), samutkantha (intense longing to obtain one’s goal), nama-gane sada-ruci (always possessed of taste to chant the holy name), tad-gunakhyane-asakti (attachment to hearing narrations of the Lord’s qualities), and tad-vasati-sthale-priti (affection for the transcendental residences of the Lord)—these are the nine sprouts of love of God (priti), or in other words, the symptoms of the appearance of bhava.
(1) Kshanti—When the heart remains unagitated in spite of the presence of some disturbing element, such a condition is called kshanti (forbearance, or tolerance).
(2) Avyartha-kalatva—To spend one’s time exclusively in bhagavad-bhajana avoiding all other futile material engagements is called avyartha-kalatva (effective use of one’s time).
(3) Virakti—A natural distaste for material sense enjoyment is called virakti, detachment. Upon the appearance of bhava within the heart, attraction toward the spiritual dimension (cit-jagat) becomes progressively stronger, and one’s taste for the material world gradually perishes. This is real detachment. Those who, upon the awakening of this natural detachment, adopt the external feature and dress of a renunciant in order to diminish their material necessities can be called renounced Vaishnavas. But those who adopt the external feature of a renunciant prior to the appearance of bhava do so unlawfully. By chastising Chota Haridasa, Shriman Mahaprabhu has imparted this lesson to the world.
(4) Mana-shunyata—To remain devoid of pride in spite of one’s elevated position is called mana-shunyata (absence of pride). Pride arises from high birth, social classification (varna), stage of life (ashrama), wealth, strength, beauty, high position, and so on. In spite of possessing all these qualities, the sadhakas in whose hearts bhava has manifested easily renounce all these vanities. According to the Padma Purana, King Bhagiratha, the crest-jewel among kings, having attained rati toward Shri Krishna, completely renounced the pride of kingdom and wealth. He performed bhajana and maintained his existence by begging from door to door in the cities of his enemy kings. He always offered obeisances and praise to everyone whether they were brahmanas or candalas (dog-eaters).
(5) Asha-bandha—“Shri Krishna will certainly bestow His mercy upon me,”—to apply one’s mind very diligently in bhajana with this firm faith is called asha-bandha (steadfast hope that Krishna will bestow His mercy).
(6) Samutkantha—Intense longing for one’s desired object of attainment is called samutkantha. When bhava-bhakti manifests in the heart of the sadhaka, his hankering to obtain Shri Krishna increases day by day. The desire to serve Shri Krishna becomes the obsession of his heart. This is nicely expressed in Shri Krishna-karnamrita (54) as quoted in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.3.36)
anamram asita-bhruvor upacitam akshina pakshmankure-
shvalolam anuraginor nayanayor ardram mridau jalpite
atamram adharamrite mada-kalam amlana vamshi-svane-
shvashaste mama locanam vraja-shishor-murttim jagan mohinim
My eyes are ever restless to see that vraja-kishora who enchants the entire world, whose eyebrows are dark (syama) and slightly curved, whose eyelashes are thick and dense, whose eyes are always restless to see those who are possessed of anuraga (or whose eyes always display anuraga), whose mild speech is exceedingly soft and filled with rasa, whose lips are as sweet and tasty as nectar and slightly reddish-copper in hue, and who carries a flawless flute whose inexplicably sweet and mild tones maddens all (and incites the gopis’ kama).
This kind of intense hankering to see Shri Krishna is called samutkantha. It is ever-present in the hearts of bhava-bhaktas.
(7) Nama-gane-sada-ruci—Loving thirst to always sing hari-nama is called nama-gane sada-ruci.
(8) Gunakhyane-asakti—Natural and spontaneous attachment for the descriptions of the Lord’s supremely charming qualities is called gunakhyane-asakti. The significance of this attachment is that for the devotees in whom bhava has arisen (jata-bhava-bhaktas), the thirst to hear and describe the charming pastimes of Krishna, which are decorated with all-auspicious qualities, is never satiated. The more they hear and describe the Lord’s qualities, the more their thirst increases.
(9) Tad-vasati-sthale-priti—The desire to reside in Shri Vrindavana, Shri Navadvipa and other spiritual abodes of the Lord is called tad-vasati-sthale-priti (affection for the transcendental residences of the Lord).
For instance, a devotee, in the course of circumambulating Vraja-mandala, arrives in Vrindavana and, being overwhelmed with spiritual emotion (bhava-bhakti), inquires as follows from the Vrajavasis: “O residents of Vraja! Where is Sevakunja, Nidhuvana and Vamshivata?” A Vrajavasi bhakta takes him by the hand and leads him to Sevakunja. Arriving at Sevakunja, he falls down in the courtyard and begins to roll on the ground. He exclaims, “How wonderful! At this very spot Rasika-shekhara Vrajendra-nandana served the lotus feet of our worshipable mistress Shrimati Radhika. O Sevakunja! O dust particles of this place! O creepers and trees of this place! May you kindly bestow your mercy upon us. When will we obtain the mercy of Seva-kunja.” This is called affection for the places of the Lord’s residence.
A second example is as follows. Some devotee, while performing parikrama of Navadvipa Dhama, inquired with tearful eyes and the hairs of his body standing upright due to ecstasy, “O Dhamavasis! Where is the birth sight of our Gaurasundara? Which path did He use to follow while performing kirtana with His devotees?” Being shown these places by the residents of the Dhama, his voice becomes choked up with spiritual emotion (bhava-bhakti), he begins to roll on the ground and exclaims, “How wonderful! This is Mayapura Dhama. Even though it is nondifferent in every respect from Vraja, it confers even greater mercy than Vraja. O birthplace of Gaurasundara! Please bestow your mercy upon this insignificant and worthless person.” Saying this again and again that devotee becomes deeply overwhelmed with spiritual emotion. This is called affection for the places of the Lord’s residence. To reside in these places with great love and perform bhajana also is included within this characteristic.
These nine symptoms (anubhavas) are manifest in the devotee in whose heart the sprout of bhava has arisen. It may be understood that the devotee in whom the sprout of love is visible has become eligible to receive the direct audience of Krishna. If some of these symptoms of bhava are perceived in karmis who are anxious for material sense enjoyment or jnanis who aspire for liberation, then one should know this to be but a reflection of bhava (pratibimba), or in other words, a semblance of rati (ratyabhasa). This should not be considered as a genuine manifestation of bhava. If the symptoms of bhava are seen in ignorant persons by virtue of their association with devotees, this is known as a shadow of rati (chaya ratyabhasa).
In Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, (1.3.45-51) there is the following description of ratyabhasa. Ratyabhasa is of two kinds: (1) pratibimba (reflection) and (2) chaya (shadow).
(1) Pratibimba-ratyabhasa—If ratyabhasa, which appears like genuine rati due to the presence of one or two symptoms such as tears and horripilation, is expressive of the desire for happiness in the form of bhukti and mukti, it is known as pratibimba-ratya-bhasa. This reflection of rati easily fulfills the desired aspiration for happiness in the form of bhukti and mukti without undergoing great endeavor.
In his commentary on this verse (1.3.46), Shrila Jiva Gosvami explains that the principal nature of bhagavati-rati is that it is free from all material designations or adulterations, upadhis. The presence of designations is symptomatic of the semblance of rati. Where such designations exist there is striving for some secondary or inferior inclination. In the mumukshus, or those who are desirous of liberation, there is the desire for mukti, and in the karma-kandis there is the desire for elevation to the heavenly planets. These are adulterations.
The mumukshus and the karmis know that the Lord bestows liberation and material enjoyment, and thus they engage in bhakti to the Lord directed toward the fulfilment of these two ends. Their performance of bhakti is not primary but secondary, for bhakti or bhagavati-rati is not the end desired by them. Nonetheless due to the power of performing the angas of bhakti, tears and horripilation arise in them. Because they are adulter-ated with desires for bhukti and mukti, their tears and horripilation are but a reflection of bhagavati-rati. The power of even this reflection of rati is such that without undergoing the laborious sadhana that constitutes the jnana-marga, they can easily obtain the partial happiness of bhukti and mukti. How this pratibimba-ratyabhasa arises in them is described in the next two verses.
Sometimes persons who are attached to material enjoyment and liberation adopt the angas of bhakti such as kirtana in the assembly of pure devotees in order to obtain their desired aspiration. By such performances they remain pleased at heart for a considerable time. By the influence of the association of pure devotees in whose hearts the moon of bhava has arisen, some such persons may have the extreme good fortune of having the moon of bhava reflected in their hearts.
In his commentary on these two verses (1.3.47-48), Shrila Jiva Gosvami has said that it is only due to the association of devotees in whose hearts bhava has arisen that bhava is reflected in the hearts of persons attached to bhoga and moksha. This reflection occurs during the performance of kirtana undertaken in the association of pure devotees. The tears and horripilation which are observed in such persons are not symptoms of genuine rati but of pratibimba-ratyabhasa.
Shrila Jiva Gosvami raises a question that when there is intervention of a cloud, the moon is not reflected on a reservoir of water. So when the mumukshus and those desiring material enjoyment are separated from the association of pure devotees, how can the reflection of bhava remain in their hearts? He answers this by saying that the transcendental influence of the association of jata-rati-bhaktas is so powerful that even when separated from such persons the reflection of bhava remains in the hearts of the mumukshus and bhoga-kamis for a long time in the form of subtle impressions or samskaras.
(2) Chaya-ratyabhasa—That ratyabhasa which bears some resemblance to shuddha-rati, which possesses curiosity or inquisitiveness of an insignificant nature, which is unsteady, and which relieves material distress is known as chaya-ratyabhasa. By even incidental association with activities such as kirtana, times such as Janmashtami, places like Shri Vrindavana, and persons dear to Lord Hari, chaya-rati sometimes arises even in ignorant persons. This chaya-rati can never arise without extreme good fortune. Good fortune here refers to the samskaras of bhakti acquired in a previous life or the association of devotees from this life or the previous life.
When shuddha-rati manifests to a very slight extent by virtue of the association of jata-bhava-bhaktas or at the time of performing sadhana in vaidhi-bhakti, it is called chaya-ratyabhasa (a shadow of rati). This shadow of rati is not steady. This semblance of rati is sometimes observed even in ordinary persons who are ignorant of the truth by the influence of the association of devotees. It is a great fortune for the jivas when chaya-rati, which is of the form of the lustre (kanti) of shuddha-rati, arises in them, for upon its appearance the jivas gradually obtain good fortune.
Bhakti in the Mature Stage
of Ecstatic Love
bhava-bhakti paripaka eva prema. tasya cihnam—vighnadi sambhave ’pi kincin-matrasyapi na hrasah. mamatvatishayat premna eva uparitano ’vastha visheshah snehah. tasya cihna, citta-dravibhavah tato ragah tasya lakshanam nibida-snehah. tatah pranayah. tasya lakshanam gadha vishvasah.
The mature stage of bhava-bhakti is called prema. The symptom of prema is that even when obstacles or impediments are present, there is not even the slightest diminution of affection (bhava). A superior condition of prema is marked by an increase of mamata and is known as sneha. The word mamata refers to a deep sense of attachment or possessiveness in relationship to Shri Krishna by which one thinks, “Krishna is mine.” Sneha is symptomized by the melting of the heart. Superior to this is the condition known as raga. The symptom of raga is extreme affection (sneha). Superior to this is the condition known as pranaya. The symptom of pranaya is deep faith.
In Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.4.1), the general definition of prema has been given as follows:
samyan masrinita svanto mamatvatishayankitah
bhavah sa eva sandratma budhaih prema nigadyate
Bhava-bhakti which melts the heart much more so than in its initial stage, which greatly augments the feeling of transcendental bliss, and which bestows a deep sense of mamata (possessiveness) in relationship to Shri Krishna is called prema by the learned.
Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentary to this shloka is translated as follows:
“The subject of prema is being discussed with reference to the previously described bhava-bhakti. When bhava thickens beyond its previous condition then it begins to make the inner recesses of the heart much more tender, moist and soft than before, it produces an experience of concentrated transcendental bliss, and bestows extreme mamata toward Shri Krishna. This mature stage of bhava is called prema. The following doubt may be raised here. According to sankhya philosophy, the material or immediate cause (upadana karana) abandons its previous condition and is transformed into its effect. At that time it no longer remains as a cause, or in other words, there is no more existence of its prior condition.
For instance, when guda (jaggery—a type of solid unrefined molasses) is transformed, it abandons its former state and becomes unrefined sugar (khanda). When it becomes unrefined sugar, guda can no longer be conceived as having its own separate state because the guda has been transformed into raw sugar. Similarly, unrefined sugar (khanda) becomes refined sugar (cini) and refined sugar becomes rock candy (mishri). In the condition of rock candy there is no separate existence of guda, unrefined sugar, and refined sugar. In the same way, when bhava matures into prema, why should there be any separate existence of bhava? When prema matures it gradually increases and takes the forms of sneha, mana, pranaya, raga, anuraga, bhava, and mahabhava. At that time, only mahabhava should remain. Why should there be any existence of rati, prema, sneha, mana, and the other prior conditions?
This cannot be said because rati is a distinctive and superior function of Krishna’s hladini-shakti. By the power of Shri Krishna’s inconceivable potency or acintya-shakti, rati, sneha, mana, pranaya, and so on attain successively higher states without giving up their previous conditions. The separate existence of each and every condition is certainly to be admitted.
For example, it can be said that when Shri Krishna’s childhood form (balya-deha) is imbued with a particular sweetness, then without giving up the condition of childhood, it attains to the boyhood form (pauganda-deha). Again when the pauganda-deha attains even greater sweetness and excellence, it assumes the form of fresh youth (kaishora-deha). Unlike the material body of the jivas, Krishna’s body is never subject to any transformation arising from age. Shri Krishna’s balya, pauganda, and kaishora forms, as well as the lilas connected with them, are all eternal. But when the pauganda form manifests, the balya-deha disappears from this universe and manifests in some other universe. Simultaneously, the balya-lila is also revealed in that universe. Therefore, as regards the revelation of the unmanifest pastimes (aprakata-lila) within Vrindavana of the earthly sphere (bhauma Vrindavana), where the balya-lila begins, the balya-deha also becomes manifest. In the vaivasvata-manvantara of the next kalpa (day of Brahma), when the prakata-lila of Vrindavana is manifest in this universe, then at that time the balya-deha will again be manifest in this very same universe.
Therefore, as regards eternal phenomena, it is only a matter of accepting their appearance and disappearance. In the hearts of devotees in whom rati, prema, and the other stages of the sthayibhava have been aroused, a particular aspect of the sthayibhava (rati, prema, sneha, and so on) sometimes arises due to contact with the stimulating elements known as vibhava. At that time, that particular feature of the sthayibhava becomes manifest externally, while the other bhavas remain in the unmanifest condition. In ordinary worldly-minded persons who are possessed of lust, anger, and so on, when one emotion is mani-fest the others remain dormant within in the form of latent desires and impressions (samskaras). When the appropriate opportunity comes about, the other emotions assert themselves. Similarly, rati, prema, and so on sometimes become manifest by contact with specific stimuli and at other times they remain concealed within.”