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Third Shower of Nectar
After bhajana kriya, comes anartha nivritti, or clearing of bad qualities which obstruct the progress of bhakti. Anarthas may be classified into four types, according to origin: those arising from previous sinful activity, those arising from previous pious activity, those arising from offenses and those arising from bhakti.
Anarthas arising from previous sinful activities fall in the category of the five types of klesha previously men-tioned: ignorance, false ego, attachment, hatred and fear of death. Anarthas arising from pious activities are the addictions to the enjoyments which arise from pious action. Some sages include the anarthas arising from pious activities under the categories of the kleshas mentioned above.
Anarthas which arise from offenses refers to those arising from the nama aparadhas, not seva aparadhas (such as entering the temple in a palanquin or with shoes). The acharyas have discerned that seva aparadhas do not usually have effect being nullified by chanting the Name, by recitation of stotras which have the power to cancel the effect of any seva aparadha and by constant service. Constant engagement in these activities practically nips in the bud the slightest effect of seva aparadha. However, one should not become careless and take advantage of being protected from all effect of seva aparadha by the above measures. Then his seva aparadha becomes nama aparadha, an anartha which will obstruct his progress. He is guilty of the nama aparadha of committing sin on the strength of the Holy Name, namno balad yasya hi papabuddhi. The word nama in the phrase nama aparadha is being used to represent all the angas of bhakti that destroy sin and aparadha, of which the Holy Name is the primary anga. Even according to dharma shastra (scriptures dealing with codes of karma), one should not commit sin knowing that he can be exempted from the effect by prayashchitta (remedial measures for commission of sin). Then the effect of the sin will not be destroyed but rather increased.
On the other hand, let us consider the force of these types of scriptural statements:
na hy angopakrame dhvamso
api maya vyavasitah samyan
O Uddhava, because I have personally established it, the path of devotional service is transcendental and free from any material motivation. Certainly a devotee never suffers even the slightest loss by adopting this path. (SB 11.19.20)
dasarno 'yam japa-matrena siddhidah
Simply by only reciting this ten-syllable mantra it will give perfection.
By neglecting or not completing some of the angas of bhakti does it not produce nama aparadha? Never! Committing sin on the strength of the Holy Name refers to the intentional commission of sin thinking that the power of devotional activities will nullify the bad effects. Sin refers to those actions condemned by the scriptures requiring remedial measures. Unlike the path of karma, where failure to perform the rite perfectly is condemned, on the path of bhakti, the shastra never condemns failure to perform all the angas. On this point there is no fear of an offense which will deprive one of results.
ye vai bhagavata prokta upaya hy atma-labdhaye
anjah pumsam avidusam viddhi bhagavatam hi tan
yan asthaya naro rajan na pramadyeta karhicit
dhavan nimalya va netre na skhalen na pated iha
Even ignorant persons can very easily come to know the Supreme Lord if they adopt those means spoken by the Supreme Lord Himself, the process known as bhagavata-dharma or devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. O King, in the performance of devotional service he will never be hindered on this path. Even if he intentionally closes his eyes and runs, still he will never stumble or fall. (SB 11.2.34-35)
Here the word nimilya (closing the eyes) means the person has eyes (he is not blind) but has closed them. The word dhavan (running) means proceeding rapidly placing the feet in an overstepping, unconventional manner. These are the direct meanings. This verse refers to a person who takes shelter of devotional service and is practicing the primary angas. The meaning is that such a person suffers no loss of results nor is he deprived of the goal, even if knowing all the angas of bhakti, he neglects to perform some of the secondary angas as if ignorant.
Closing the eyes does not mean ignorance of scripture (shruti and smriti, considered as one's two eyes) for that contradicts the direct meaning. One should carefully consider the meaning of closing the eyes and running (intentionally neglecting some of the angas of bhakti, and eagerly pursuing the goal). This and any actions resulting from that mode of progress, does not allow the devotee to commit the thirty-two seva aparadhas. The verse describes a person who has sincerely taken shelter of the process of bhakti as outlined by the Lord Himself. (In that case there is no question of intentional seva aparadha). The thirty-two seva aparadhas, beginning with entering the temple on a palanquin or while wearing shoes, etc., should never be intentionally committed. For in the scriptures, a person who intentionally commits a seva aparadha is condemned as a two-legged animal: harer apy aparadhan bah kuryad dvipada-pamsanah.
If the nama aparadhas either long-standing or recent, have been committed unconsciously (their presence inferred by the effect, lack of advancement), one should chant the Name constantly. By that chanting, one can attain steadiness in bhakti and gradually neutralize the offenses. If committed in full knowledge, however, there are some other procedures for their removal.
Sadhu ninda, or criticism of Vaishnavas, is the first of the ten offenses against the Holy Name. The word ninda means animosity or malice. If by chance this offense occurs, the person should repent, Oh, I am such a low class person, I have committed an offense to a saintly person! A person who has been burned by fire seeks relief in fire. According to this logic, he should nullify the offense by lamenting, resolving to come before the Vaishnava, falling at his feet, and satisfying him by offering his obeisances, praises and respects. If the Vaishnava is not satisfied, the person should render favorable services to him according to his desires for many days. Sometimes the offense is so grievous that the Vaishnava's anger does not die.
In extreme remorse, thinking himself most unfortunate and bound for millions of years in hell for his offense, he should give up everything and take full shelter of continuous nama sankirtana. By the divine power of nama kirtana, certainly, in time that person will be delivered from his offense.
However, he should not justify himself by arguing that shastra says, namaparadhayuktanam namanyeva harantyagham: The Holy Name alone is sufficient to deliver an offender. So what is the need of humbling himself by offering repeated respects and service to the Vaishnava that he has offended? This type of mentality makes him guilty of further offense. Nor should one be of the mentality to think that the offense of sadhu ninda discriminates between types of Vaishnavas. It does not refer only to one who is fully and perfectly qualified with all the qualities mentioned in scripture, such as mercifulness, never harming others, and forgiving to all living entities: krpalur akrta-drohas titiksuh sarva dehinam (SB 11.11.29). A person cannot minimize his offense by pointing out some defect in the devotee. In answer the scriptures say: sarvacara vivarjitah sathadhiyo bratya jagadvancakah, even a person who is of very bad character a cheater, devoid of proper behavior, malicious, devoid of samskaras, and full of worldly desires, if he surrenders to the Lord, must be considered a sadhu. What to speak of a pure Vaishnava.
Sometimes a serious offense has been committed against a Vaishnava, but the Vaishnava does not become angry because of his exalted nature. Still the offender should fall at that devotee's feet and seek ways of pleasing him to purify himself. Though the Vaishnava may forgive offenses, the dust of his feet does not tolerate the offenses and delivers the fruits of the offense on the guilty person. For it is said:
nirasta-tejahsu tad eva sobhanam
Those who envy exalted saints are certainly diminished by the dust of their lotus feet. (SB 4.4.13)
Conventional rules cannot be applied, however, to the powerful, spontaneous, most elevated mah-abhagavatas who may sometimes bestow fathomless mercy even to the most undeserv ing or offensive. For instance, though Jada Bharata wasmade to carry Rahugana's palanquin and the King let loose a torrent of harsh words on him, Jada Bharata bestowed his mercy. In a similar way, Chediraja, the Vasu who flew in the sky, showed mercy to the atheist heretic daityas who had come to do him violence. [In Mahabharata there is a story of how Chediraja, on taking the side of the demigods who were arguing with some brahmarishis, was cursed by them to fall from his flying chariot to Patala-loka where he continued to perform his bhajana. The story mentioned here is not found in Mahabharata and it is not known where it is from.] In the same way, Shri Nityananda showed mercy to Madhai, even though the most sinful Madhai had injured His forehead causing blood to flow.
The offense of guror avajna, or disrespect to guru, the third aparadha, may be considered in the same way as the first aparadha.
Now we'll consider the second aparadha of misunderstanding the position of Vishnu, Shiva and demigods. Conscious beings (chaitanya) are of two types: independent and dependent. The independent being is the all-pervading Lord (ishvara), and the dependent beings are the particles of consciousness (jivas), energies of the Lord, who only pervade individual bodies. Ishvara chaitanya is of two types: one is not touched at all by maya, and the other, for the Lord's pastimes, accepts the touch of maya. The first type of ishvara is called by such names as Narayana, Hari, etc.:
harir hi nirgunah saksat purusah prakrteh parah
It is Hari who is directly the non-material Lord transcendental to material nature. (SB 10.88.5)
The second type of ishvara is called by such names as Shiva.
sivah sakti-yutah sasvat
Shiva voluntarily accepts the three gunas and appears to be covered by them. (SB 10.88.3)
Though Shiva appears to be covered by the gunas, one should not think that he is in the category of jiva for Brahma-samhita says:
ksaram yatha dadhi vikara- visesa-yogat
sanjayate na hi tatah prthag asti hetoh
yah sambhutam api tatha samupaiti karyad
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
Shiva is a transformation of the Lord, just as yogurt is a transformation of milk. (Brahma-samhita 5.45)
In the Puranas and other scriptures as well, Shiva is glorified as Ishvara. In the Bhagavatam it is said:
sattvam rajas tama iti prakrter gunas tair
yuktah parah purusa eka ihasya dhatte
stity-adaye hari-virinci-hareti samjnah
sreyamsi tatra khalu sattva-tanor nrnam syuh
The transcendental Personality of Godhead is indirectly associated with the three modes of material nature, namely goodness, passion, and ignorance, and just for the material world's creation, maintenance and destruction He accepts the three qualitative forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Of these three, all human beings can derive ultimate benefit from Vishnu. (SB 1.2.23)
In this sloka it is also generally understood that Brahma may also be considered as ishvara. But Brahma's position as ishvara or lord should be understood as power invested in a jiva by the Supreme Lord (ishvara-avesha)
bhasvan yathasma-sakalesu nijesu tejah
svayam kiyat prakatayaty api tadvad atra
brahma ya esa jagad-anda-vidhana-karta
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
By the bestowal of power by the Supreme Lord, Brahma is able to create the universe, just as the sun manifests a portion of its own light in effulgent gems like suryakanta, etc. (Brahma-samhita 5.49)
parthivad daruno dhumas
tasmad agnis trayamayah
tamasas tu rajas tasmat
sattvam yad brahma-darsanam
Wood is a transformation of earth, but smoke is better than wood. Fire is still better, for by it we can perform yajna. Similarly, passion (rajas) is better than ignorance (tamas), but goodness (sattva) is best because by it one can come to realize the Truth. (SB 1.2.24)
Though the mode of passion is superior to ignorance, still as in smoke one cannot perceive fire, in in smoke-like raja-guna, the fire-like effulgent Lord cannot be realized. In the fire-like mode of goodness one can perceive the pure effulgence of the Lord almost like direct realization. As fire, though present within wood, cannot be perceived, so in the mode of ignorance, the Lord though present, is not directly manifest. Just like even in deep dreamless sleep (susupti), the characteristic of tama guna, one experiences a happiness almost similar to the happiness of realization of the Lord in His impersonal aspect (nirbheda jnana sukha). Considering the tattvas in this way, we can understand the conclusions.
The conscious beings who are dependent on the Lord, jivas, are of two types: those who are not covered by ignorance and those who are covered, devatas, men and animals. The uncovered jivas are of two types: those under the influence of the Lord's aishvarya shakti, and those uninfluenced by that shakti. Those not influenced by the Lord's aishvarya shakti are broadly two types: those practicing jnana who merge into the Lord (a lamentable
condition), and those practicing bhakti who remain differentiated from the Lord and taste nectarean bliss (a non-lamentable state).
Those who are influenced by the aishvarya shakti are of two types: those absorbed in jnana belonging to the spiritual sphere (eg. the Four Kumaras), and those absorbed in the functions of creation, etc. of the material sphere (Brahma, etc). Thus one may consider that Vishnu and Shiva are non-different, being the same ishvara chaitanya.
A devotee who is without material motivation (nishkama) must discern who is worthy of worship or not on the basis of nirguna and saguna, that is, with no material qualities (Vishnu) and with a touch of material qualities (Shiva, Brahma, etc.). Being different types of chaitanya, Brahma and Vishnu are completely distinct, Brahma is jiva and Vishnu is ishvara. Sometimes, Brahma and Vishnu are described as identical in the Puranas. One should, however, understand this statement by the example of the sun (Vishnu) and the jewel suryakanta (Brahma) which is invested with the light of the sun. Suryakanta is like a magnifying glass which takes the rays of the sun and manifests the heat of the sun by burning paper, etc. In this way only, Brahma is considered non-different. In some mahakalpas, even Shiva is a jiva like Brahma invested with power by the Lord:
kvacij java visesatvam harasyoktam vidher iveti
As in Brahma's case, sometimes a particular jiva takes the role of Shiva. Thus, Shiva is sometimes classed with Brahma in such statements as:
yas tu narayanam devam
brahma rudradi daivataih
samat venaiva manyeta sa
pasanha bhaved dhruvam
A person who considers Narayana as equivalent to Brahma, Shiva and the other devatas is a low rascal. (Hari Bhakti Vilasa 1.73)
Those who have not thoroughly researched in the matter say that Vishnu is the Lord, not Shiva; or that Shiva is the Lord, not Vishnu. That since I am a devotee of Vishnu, I will not give regard to Shiva, or visa versa. Such people, deliberately involving themselves in such arguments, also commit nama aparadha. If such offenders can become enlightened by a devotee with thorough knowledge of the matter, then they can realize in what way Shiva and Vishnu are non-different. With this realization, and by performing nama kirtana, the person can nullify his offense.
Shruti shastra ninda is the fourth offense of disrespect for shruti scriptures (vedas), considering that they do not mention anything about bhakti and are thus only glorified by worldly-minded people. If one commits this offense, one obtains relief when one has the fortune to understand the subject properly from a knowledgeable devotee. The shrutis very mercifully help the most unqualified people, not following any vedic rules or regulations and blinded by material desires to come to the path of bhakti. Commission of the fourth offense is nullified by using the same mouth that criticized the shastra (such as the shrutis, propounding karma and jnana). One should praise the same scriptures, as well as the practitioners of those scriptures (eg. performers of karma and jnana), and perform loud chanting of the Holy Name. In the same way one should understand the commission and nullification of the other six offenses.
Next are the anarthas arising from bhakti. As many weeds grow along with the main plant, along with bhakti there appears acquisition of material wealth and other facilities, worship and respect by others, a comfortable position and fame (labha, puja, pratishtha). By their nature, they have the power to influence the heart of the devotee, expand, and retard the growth of the main plant intended for cultivation (bhakti).
Stages in Nullification of the Anarthas
Four types of anarthas have been mentioned, namely, those arising from previous sinful activity, from previous pious activity, from nama aparadha, and from cultivation of bhakti. They have five grades of anartha nivritti (nullification): limited to one anartha (ekadeshavartini), affecting many anarthas (bahudeshavartini), almost complete (prayiki), complete (purna), and absolute (atyantiki). Thus immediately after starting performance of devotional activities (bhajana kriya), there is nullification but it is limited, according to the famous logic: The town burned, the cloth is torn. In other words, when we hear that a town burned, we can imagine that some of it must still be existing, or if a cloth is torn, the pieces are still existing. By continued practice, with the appearance of nishtha, the eradication is pervasive (affecting many anarthas). With the appearance of rati or bhava, the eradication is almost complete. With the appearance of prema, the eradication is complete. With the attainment of the Lord's association, the eradication is absolute, with no possibility of their reappearance. Thus if one thinks that the following occasional episodes demon-strate anartha arising even after attaining the lotus feet of the Lord, by one's intelligence he should throw out that thought from his mind.
In the case of Chitraketu's who had already attained the lotus feet of the Lord, his accidental maha aparadha to Shiva was apparent, not real, for there was no ill effect from his mistake. Both as an associate of the Lord, and assuming the form of a demon (Vritrasura) his wealth of prema was still evident.
The cause of the apparent offense of Jaya and Vijaya was a manifestation of their personal desire stimulated by prema. The two desired in this way: O Prabhu! O Lord of Lords! O Narayana! You desire to fight but we do not see a suitable opponent for You. All those available are too weak. Though we are strong, we are not inimical to You. Somehow or other, make us inimical to You, and realize Your desire to fight. We, being Your faithful servants, cannot tolerate to see any lack whatever in Your perfection. Diminish Your quality of affection for your devotees and fulfill our prayer.
The eradication of the anarthas arising from previous sin is as follows. With the performance of bhajana kriya, the eradication is almost complete, with the appearance of nishtha eradication is complete, and with the appearance of asakti it is absolute.
The eradication of anarthas arising from bhakti is as follows. With the performance of bhajana kriya, eradication is limited. With the appearance of nishtha it is complete, and with the appearance of ruchi it is absolute. The wise self-realized souls have concluded this by thoroughly considering all matters.
One may raise the objection that these stages of extinguishing anarthas do not apply to devotees, quoting hundreds of verses from shastra such as:
amhah samharad akhilam sakrd
daya deva sakala lokasya taranir
iva timirajarlamdha jayati
jagat mangalam harer nama
As with the sunrise, all darkness is destroyed, in the same way, with one utterance of the Holy Name all sins are destroyed. All glories to the Holy Name who bestows such auspiciousness on the whole universe! (Shri Shridhar Swami)
na hi bhagavann aghatitam idam
tvad-darsanan nrnam akhila-papa-ksayah
yan-nama sakrc chravanat
pukaso 'pi vimucyate samsarat
O My Lord, simply by seeing You, one is immediately freed from all material contamination. This is not impossible because, what to speak of seeing You personally, merely by hearing Your Holy Name once only, even a candala can obtain liberation from the material world. (SB 6.16.44)
Or citing Ajamila's case, where simply by his uttering the Lord's name once in nama-abhasa, all anarthas, even up to avidya (ignorance, the root cause of material bondage), were removed and he attained the lotus feet of the Lord.
This is all true. One should have no doubt that the Holy Name has in all cases such inestimable power. However, the Holy Name, being unhappy with offenses committed against it, does not manifest its complete power in the offender. This is indeed the reason sinful tendencies continue in the offender. Still, the servants of death have no power to attack such a person (as in Ajamila's case).
sakrn manah krishna-padaravindayor
nivesitam tad-guna-ragi yair iha
na te yamam pasa-bhrtas ca tad-bhatan
vapne 'pi pasyanti hi carna-niskrtah
Although not having fully realized Krishna, persons who have even once surrendered completely unto His lotus feet being somewhat attracted by His name, form, qualities, and pastimes have thus performed the true method of atonement. Even in dreams, such persons do not see Yama or his servants carrying nooses. (SB 6.1.19)
Though this is true, they have no means of purification other than becoming free from nama-aparadha. Citing the Padma Purana in the discussion on the ten offenses the Hari Bhakti Vilasa says:
namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhir
na vidyate tasya yamair hi suddhih
Committing sin on the strength of the Holy Name, one cannot be purified even by practicing the regulations of yoga, etc. for thousands of years. (HBV 11.284)
In this verse the word yama (yamair) refers to the rules and regulations (yama, niyama, etc.) of yoga shastra. In other words, though the aparadhi is free from Yama, the lord of death, yama (other means of purification) cannot free him of anartha.
The case of the offender losing the mercy of the Name is similar to a subordinate who is offensive to his vastly wealthy and capable master (the Holy Name). He is denied proper care, and is treated indifferently by the master. As a result that person comes to suffer poverty and distresses of all sorts. It should be known that a master neglects a servant who is offensive and no one else is capable of helping him (karma, jnana, yoga, etc.). If the offending servant again puts himself at the beck and call of his master, the master gradually shows mercy, and that person's sufferings are step by step eliminated. In the same way, the offending devotee will at first suffer some miseries. As he performs sincere service to the devotees, the scriptures, and spiritual master, the Name will again gradually manifest mercy and gradually eliminate his evil tendencies. Thus one cannot argue against the gradual elimination of anartha.
Someone may argue that, I have never committed any offenses. One should not make such statements. Though the offense may not have been done recently, it may have been done in the past, but one can infer the existence of offenses by their effect. The effect of offense is that a person will not manifest any symptoms of prema by performance of nama kirtana.
tad asma-saram hrdayam vatedam
yad grhyamanair hari-nama-dheyaih
na vikriyetatha yada vikaro
netre jalam gatra-ruhesu harsah
One's heart is certainly steel-framed if, when chanting the Holy Name, there is no change in the heart, tears in the eyes or standing of hairs on the body. (SB 2.3.24)
Seeing the following verse from Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu another doubt arises:
ke te 'paradha viprendra
namno bhagavatah krtah
vinighnanti nrnam krtyam
prakrtam hyanayanti hi
Oh foremost of brahmanas, what are the offenses against the Nome ofr the Lord which cancel the results of all one's performances, and lead to a material conception even of transcendental topics? (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu)
In other words, repeatedly hearing and chanting the Lord'name should give prema, serving the sacred tirthas should bestow perfection, tasting repeatedly the ghee, milk and betel prasadam should destroy all desires for sense enjoyment. So what are the grave offenses which cancel these results and cause all these spiritually potent activities to appear material? This very startling and unnerving question is being raised. If this is, so does it follow that a person who commits a nama aparadha becomes averse to the Lord and Thus cannot even take shelter of guru or perform devotional activities?
This is true. As during a serious fever, losing all taste for food, a person finds it impossible to eat, so a person who commits a serious offense loses scope for hearing, chanting and performing devotional activities. There is no doubt about this. However, if the fever lessens with time, some taste for food develops. Even then, nourishing foods like milk and rice cannot give their full power of nourishment to the person suffering from chronic fever. They bestow some benefit, but cannot relieve him of his wasted condition. An invalid's diet and medicine can, however, with time, restore him to his previous healthy condition. A that time the full potency of normal food can be utilized by the body. In the same way, after a long period of suffering the effects of aparadha, the intensity reduces somewhat and the devotee develops a little taste. Again the devotee becomes qualified for bhakti. Repeated doses of hearing and chanting the Lords's Name and performance of other devotional processes, gradually everything is revealed in progression. The saints have described this progression as follows:
adau sradha tatah sadhusango 'tha bhajana-kriya
tato 'nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha rucistatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah prema bhyudancati
sadhakanamayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah
Starting with faith, followed by association, bhajana kriya, anartha nivritti, nishtha, ruchi, asakti, bhava and prema. (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.4.15-16)
Some not only suppose the presence nama aparadha due to the absence of symptoms of prema and traces of sinful activity in devotees who are practicing the devotional processes such as kirtana. But they also suppose the absence f destruction of the reactions of previous karma (prarabdha) by observing the presence of ordinary material distresses. However, Ajamila named his son Narayana and called that name many times every day in what has been ascertained to be in an inoffensive manner. Still, he did not manifest the symptoms of prema, moreover, he was also inclined to sinful relation with a prostitute. Yudhisthira had achieved the association of the Supreme Lord Himself and was thus certainly free from past karmic reactions. Still, he had to suffer many apparently ordinary material miseries. As a tree bears fruit only in the proper season, the Holy Name, though pleased with an offenseless person, will reveal its mercy to him only in due time. For the devotee, accumulated sins committed due to previous bad habits have no effect like the bite of a serpent without his poison fangs. The sickness, lamentation and other sufferings undergone by devotees are not the reactions to sins in previous life (prarabdha). The Lord Himself has said:
harisye tad-dhanam sanaih
tato 'dhanam tyajanty asya
svajana duhkha- duhkhitam
Gradually, I take away all the wealth of the person whom I favor. Being penniless and most miserable, he is rejected by his family and relatives. (SB 10.88.8)
nirdhanatva maha rogo mad anugraha laksanam
The person without the severe malady of material possessions is the object of My mercy.
Thus, the masterful Lord, who always attends to the welfare of His devotee, with the plan to increase the devotee's humility and longing for the Lord, bestows on him all sorts of suffering as His mercy. Having no results due from previous acts, he cannot be said to be suffering the effect of sinful actions from previous lives.
Thus ends the Third Shower of Nectar of Madhurya Kadambini by Mahamahopadhyaya Shrimat -Vishvanatha Chakravarti describing the mitigation of all inauspicious elements.