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NINE FOLD DEVOTION
WHFN compared to the sixty-four modes of devotional practices, the ninefold ways1"'of devotion are highly powerful. In fact, all the above ideas are included in the ninefold ways of devotion. Each method in this subsequent gr'Oup is independently potent enough to procure us the loving devotion to Shri Krishna and even Shri Krishna Himself.
shrinvanti gaayanti grinanty abhikshnashah smaranti nandanti tavehitam janaah,
ta eva pashyanty acirena taavakam bhava-pravaahoparamam padaambujam..161
tasmaad bhaarata sarvaatmaa bhagavaan ishvaro harih,
shrotavyah kirtitavyash ca smartavyash cecchataabhayam..162
"Those who constantly listen to your Glorious Topics again and again, sing Them with spontaneous love, utter Them before others, contemplate on Them, and rejoice with great delight when spoken by others, alone behold Your Lotus Feet that put an end to the re¬peated cycle of births and deaths, before long."161 "Therefore, O descendant of Bharata! He who is desirous of attaining the eternal fearless state, the abode of peipetual happiness, should listen to. re¬cite, and meditate upon the Transcendental (dories of the Supreme Lord Shri Hari, the Lord of all Jivas, the Sole Shelter of the entire universe."162
Sravana means the act of listening the Names, Divine Pastimes, Attributes, etc., of the Supreme Lord Shri
Krishna. The scrupulous observance of any one form of the ninefold ways of devotion brings success to its aspirant. Yet, for the purification of one's heart, it is desirable to follow the laid-out course. Accord¬ingly the first procedure is to hear the Holy Name. On hearing the marvels of the Name, when the mind is purified, the next stage of hearing the topics relating to the Transcendental Form of the Lord is to be followed. This renders the aspirant eligible to realise the nature of the Form of the Lord. When he is fortunate enough to have a full realisation of the Form, he is spontaneously favoured with the expe¬rience of the various Transcendental Qualities, Similarly, the other effects of hearing in succession bring gradually the realisations of the Entourage and finally the Transcendental Pastimes. This is the proper order for hearing. Tlie same course is effective and prescribed for Kirtan, and Smarana as well. If the exposition of the Sastras on the Name, Form, Qualities, Pastimes, and Entourage of the Lord is heard from a genuine Bhakta, it is far more effective than having the same from a Sadhak. Hearing from one who is a disbeliever and who does the same, influenced by various worldly desires, often brings a detrimental effect. Lifeless and mercenary explanations may be no doubt, charming, learned, humorous, and even sometimes, rationally convincing, but they fail to stir up the dormant feelings in the hearers and awaken in them any sense of detachment from the wordly ob¬jects or devotion to Godhead. Their words do not touch the heart or leave any permanent impression there, since they do not originate from the depth of their hearts. These expositions of Sastras can only attract the admirations of the public towards these mercenary speak-ers, and that too, of a superficial nature, resulting in their sympa¬thetic outlook and lavish presents.
Sastras caution us to hear only such spiritual topics as are nar¬rated, composed, or approved by great realised Bhaktas, ancient or modern (Mohat Kirtita or Mahat Prakatita). Any composition- may be on Godhead-from the pen of worldly-minded people, does not provide us with the desired result. They shape things in their mental mould, and give often an entirely new form or even worng shapes. As such, it is beneficial, preferable-nay, compulsory- to hear spiri¬tual discourses from persons who have realised what they preach and whose lives are living examples of the same valuable teachings.
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam shuka-mukhaad amrita-drava-samyutam,
pibata bhaagavatam rasam aalayam muhur aho rasikaa bhuvi bhaavukaah..163
Of all kinds sacred books prescribed for the purpose of hearing (Sravana), the act of listening to Shrimad Bhagavata is spoken of as the best. In it we get the combination of both the aforesaid qualifica¬tions. It is composed by the great Krishna Dvaipayan Vedavyas, one of Lord's Manifestations, and narrated by great Bhaktas like Sukadev, etc. In addition, it contains the quintessence of all the Sastras of the world. "O Rasikas (devotees belonging to any of the five important spiritual Rasas of Santa, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya, andMadhur), and Bhavukas (in whom the spontaneous love for Bhagavan has made its manifestation)! drink deep this Nectarine Rasa till you are completely saturated with the ocean-like Everlasting Bliss. Shrimad Bhagavata is the fully ripened fruit of the wish-yielding tree-like Vedas. This fruit has dropped down from the tree to the earth from the holy mouth of the great sage Sukadev and this fruit is unlike other fruits, in that, this is free from any waste substance, such as the skin, fibre, seed, etc., and is condensed Rasa itself (the most marvellous and captivat¬ing Transcendental Pastimes of the Name, Qualities, etc., from the nectarine contents of this Incomparable fruit)."163"
If is imperatively necessary to verify the authenticity of what we have heard and get fully convinced of it. Before starting with any course of spiritual procedure, we must be thorough with its theoreti¬cal side. Hence. Sravana occupies the first place in the list of devotional practices. The act of listening is prayed for by many devotees even after realising Bhagavan. They have prayed to Bhagavan to bless them incessantly with the benefits of hearing His Transcendental Glories. Some of the Bhaktas, like Prithu Maharaj, etc., went a step further in their demands influenced by this buring ardour for hear¬ing. They have accepted the inadequacy of having only two ears and appealed to the Lord to provide them with a thousand ears to do full justice to the act of listening the Divine Topics, wherever They are told.
samsaara-sindhum ati-dustaram uttitirshor naanyah plavo bhagavatah purushottamasya,
lilaa-kathaa-rasa-nishevanam antarena pumso bhaved vividha-duhkha-davaarditasya..164
shrinvataam sva-kathaah krishnah punya-shravana-kirtanah,
hridy antah-stho hy abhadraani vidhunoti suhrit sataam..165
pibanti ye bhagavata aatmanah sataam kathaamritam shravana-puteshu sambhritam,
punanti te vishaya-vidushitaashayam vrajanti tac-carana-saroruhaantikam..166
srabane nebo mangalon namadheyon yasya
tava kathaamritam tapta-jivanam kavibhir iditam kalmashaapaham,
shravana-mangalam shrimad aatatam bhuvi grinanti ye bhuri-daa janaah..167
"Those who are desirous of crossing this terrible ocean of triple afflictions extremely difficult to cross over, have no other vessel than hearing, i.e., enjoying the Nectarine Narratives of the Glorious Deeds of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna."164
"Shri Krishna, the Eternal Bene¬factor of those Sadhus, the hearing and chanting of Whose Name are great purifying factors, manifesting in the hearts of those who listen with rapt attention His Transcendental Glories, uproots the evil pro¬pensities of their hearts as their Indwelling Guide."165 "Those who drink in the narration of the nectar-like Glorious Deeds of the Lord, Who is the Delight of the devotees, poured into the cavities of their ears by the Bhaktas, purify their-hearts which are awfully contami¬nated by the thoughts of the senses and sense-objects and attain his Lotus Feet."166 "The Elixir of Thy Narratives is life itself to those who are distressed by the pangs of Thy separation. Great devotees like Prahlada, Dhruv, etc., too sing Thy Glories, the best remedy to strike at the very root of all sins, most auspicious to hear, capable of imparting all prosperity and above all the sublime gift of Divine Love.As such he who spreads it in this world is the best and the most munificenet of all the generous-hearted persons."167
namalilagunadi namusche varso tu kirtnam..168
(vakti rasamruta sindhu,1.2.145)
shrinvan su-bhadraani rathaanga-paaner janmaani karmaani ca yaani loke,
gitaani naamaani tad-arthakaani gaayan vilajjo vicared asangah..169
aapannah samshritim ghoraam yan-naama vivasho grinan,
tatah sadyo vimucyeta yad bibheti svayam bhayam..170
hanting aloud the Names, Form, Qualities, Entourage, Lilas,etc.168 All the instructions that we have so far heard in Sravana are equally applicable to Kirtan. The order of performing Kirtan also is the same. "After hearing
the blissful and auspicious Glories relating to the Divine Births and Deeds of Shri Krishna mani¬fested in the world, one must chant Them unabashed, moving in the world undisturbed by the ups and downs, and unattached to the senseobjects and its evil temptations."169 "Anyone who has Mien into this stormy ocean of worldliness and is caught in its eddies of births and deaths, can get deliverance from it in no time, by uttering His Name, even helplessly, of whom even Mahakal, the personification of fear itself, is awfully afraid.170
yata keecheeda anu sandhanam..171
swartasicha tnamakarsya samanya karena manodharanam..172
viseswate rupadee cheentam..173
amruta dharavataa aveenchi tat..174
Remembering the Name, Form, Qualities, and Sportive Activities of the Supreme Ford is known as Smarana. Smarana is fivefold,according to its stages of development:- (1) Tlie primary stage of Smarana171 consists in recall-ing to one's mind the Holy Name, Form, At¬tributes, etc., of the Lord, as in a flash, the chief aim being the purification of the heart. As this is inferior to Kirtan, no specific instances are quoted. (2) Dharana 172
- This is a hard stage reached after regular struggle by the striven A regular tug-of-war between him on one side and his mind with all its senses as the other is in progress. The mind running mad like a mad horse escaping from its keeper, is to be restricted from its wanderings. Withdrawing the mind from all its diverse objectives, and fixing it in remembering the Lord is the meaning of this state of mental pursuit. (3) Dhyanm173
Special concentration of the mind on the Form, Activities, etc., of the Lord is meant by Dhyan. In this, the striver has succeeded in his attempts to control the mind. Free from outside distractions and the mad influence of the fickle mind, he can concentrate it upon the Lord. (4) Dhruvanu Smriti174 -The incessant flow of the mind (like a con¬tinuous stream of nectar towards the Lord like the unbroken flow of oil-to bring the simile nearer to us). (5) Samadhi175 -The spontaneous manifestation of the Lord in the heart. This stage of Samadhi is dif¬ferent from the one that is attained by the Jnanis generally known by the Asam-Prajnata-Samadhi or Brahma-Samadhi. In the case of Bhaktas, they get an uninterrupted realisation of the Transcendental Sports of the Supreme Lord. Their heart is converted into a stadium for the Lord to play and the various alluring sports take place in their hearts like the surging waves of a rough sea.
asmin pravishte ’sura-kuta-karmajaa maayaa vineshur mahinaa mahiyasah,
svapno yathaa hi pratibodha aagate hari-smritih sarva-vipad-vimokshanam..176
drishtam tavaanghri-yugalam janataapavargam brahmaadibhir hridi vicintyam agaadha-bodhaih ,
samsaara-kupa-patitottaranaavalambam dhyaayamsh caraamy anugrihaana yathaa smritih syaat..177
aahush ca te nalina-naabha padaaravindam yogeshvarair hridi vicintyam agaadha-bodhaih ,
samsaara-kupa-patitottaranaavalambam geham jushaam api manasy udiyaat sadaa nah..178
There is also the act of remembrance both in the process of chant¬ing the Name (Name Smriti), and in muttering the Mantra (Mantra Smriti). The remembrance that automatically materialises while chant¬ing the Divine Name, keeping the number on a rosary of Tulsasi beads is known as Nama Smriti. The remembrance that takes place while muttering the Mantra keeping its number on one's finger, is the process of Mantra Smriti. "Just as we do not dream when we attain the waking state, even so, by the mere entrance of the Supreme Lord into the heart by His inconceivable power, all the illusions displayed by the Asurik forces are completely dispelled. Because remembrance of the Lord is the remedy for all our calamities."176 "O Lord! I am extremely fortunate to behold Your Lotus Feet today. The purpose of my birth is fulfilled by beholding Your Feet that are being constantly meditated on in their hearts by Brahma and others of incomprehen¬sible learning; Your Feet are highly blissful and are the eternal resort of all devoted souls, and the only recourse to those fallen souls strug¬gling in the deep well of worldly sufferings. Have mercy upon me so that the memory of Your Lotus Feet may remain incessantly in me and I may be able to roam about in this world, constantly meditating upon Them."177 "O Nalinanabh (Shri Krishna)! Your Lotus Feet are being constantly meditated on in their hearts by Brahma and other masters of Yoga and vast learning. They are the only support for deliverance of all Jivas from the depths of this well of worldly exist¬ence. May the remembrance of Your Lotus Feet continuously mani¬fest in our hearts, enmeshed, as we are, in domestic life."178
This mode of devotion is the act of seeing, touching,circumambulating the Holy Image and the sacred temple, sacred
abodes like Vrindavan, Mathura, Jagannatha,Dvaraka, Ayodhya, etc., going on pilgrimages,bathing in the holy rivers like the Ganges, Yamuna, etc. Taking shelter in any of the sacred abodes of the Lord, or a holy temple for life, also comes under the category of Padasevan. The service of the sacred Tulasi, the most favorite of Bhagavan Shri Hari is also included in this mode of devo¬tion.
tyaktvaa sva-dharmam caranaambujam harer bhajann apakvo ’tha patet tato yadi,
yatra kva vaabhadram abhud amushya kim ko vaartha aapto ’bhajataam sva-dharmatah..179
tvayy ambujaakshaakhila-sattva-dhaamni samaadhinaaveshita-cetasaike,
tvat-paada-potena mahat-kritena kurvanti govatsa-padam bhavaabdhim..180
martyo mrityu-vyaala-bhitah palaayan lokaan sarvaan nirbhayam naadhyagacchat,
tvat paadaabjam praapya yadricchayaadya susthah shete mrityur asmaad apaiti..181
athaapi te deva padaambuja-dvaya- prasaada-leshaanugrihita eva hi,
jaanaati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno na caanya eko ’pi ciram vicinvan..182
"Discarding the performance of daily routine religious rites en¬joined by the Varnasram Dharma, those who serve the Lotus Feet of Shri Krishna, need not in the least be afraid of any evil befalling them, even if they meet with a fall from their devotional practices or with a premature death, owing to the inborn indifference to past fruitive activities. In whatever circumstances they are placed or in whichever species of births they are born, no evil shall befall those who are devoted to the Lord. Because of their natural inclination to render service to the Lord, they never experience any failure. Whereas, those who regularly perform their daily routine religious rites, but lack in devotion to the Lord, achieve nothing substantial."179 "O Lotus-eyed Lord! The wise ever fix their mind in deep contemplation of You, the Abode of all goodness. Following in the footsteps of the great sages of yore, they have adopted Your Lotus Feet as an ever safe boat and find this vast ocean of worldly existence as a mere small pit of water made by the hoof of a calf."is""() Krishna (Primeval Being)! If a mortal, inhabiting this mundane world,, being scared by the serpent of death and after roaming about in all the worlds including that of Brahma and finding no safe shelter free from fear, fortunately and through the blessings of saints, happens to take shelter at Your Lotus Feet, he then rests in peace. Death itself runs away from him."m "O God! O Bhagavan! One who is fortunate enough to receive even par¬ticle of Grace from your Twin Lotus Feet, alone knows the Truth of Your inconceivable Glories, No one else is cabaple of realising It even if he devotes his whole time and energy till eternity."182
yathaa hi skandha-shaakhaanaam taror mulaavasecanam,
evam aaraadhanam vishnoh sarveshaam aatmanash ca hi..183
yathaa taror mula-nishecanena tripyanti tat-skandha-bhujopashaakhaah,
praanopahaaraac ca yathendriyaanaam tathaiva sarvaarhanam acyutejyaa..184
yat-paadayor ashatha-dhih salilam pradaaya durvaankurair api vidhaaya satim saparyaam,
apy uttamaam gatim asau bhajate tri-lokim daashvaan aviklava-manaah katham aartim ricchet..185
cittasyopashamo ’yam vai kavibhih shaastra-cakshusaa,
darshitah su-gamo yogo dharmash caatma-mud-aavahah..186
evam kriyaa-yoga-pathaih pumaan vaidika-taantrikaih,
arcann ubhayatah siddhim matto vindaty abhipsitaam..187
Ritualistic worship of the Lord is Archan. Every householder is expected to follow this process. This ultimately leads him to the Lord."Just as watering the root of a tree nourishes its branches, and twigs, so also the
worship of Shri Vishnu results in the satisfaction of all souls including him."183 "Just as water¬ing the root of a tree, nourishes its trunk, branches, sub-branches, leaves, flowers, seeds, and all its other parts and by feeding the body alone (by taking food), all its other parts including all the organs of senses are nourished, so also by worshiping Shri Krishna alone, all the other gods are as good as worshipped, without their being actually worshipped, either individually or jointly. The anal¬ogy lies in the fact that, we have to take the food through the mouth alone and not through other parts like the eyes; ears, nose, etc., which means that all the other parts of the body require to be fed through the proper channel of the mouth only. Similarly, if Shri Krishna is served, all the lesser gods are definitely served."184 "When a sin¬cere person, with a clean heart, who pours water at Your Lotus Feet and performs Their worship by offering even tender blades of Durva grass, attains the sublimest goal; how can this Bali who with a cheer¬ful mind and loving heart dedicated the three worlds to Your Lotus Feet, come to any grief?"185 "Wise men, viewing through the me¬dium of the Sastras on the eternal welfare of all human beings, have declared this worship of Shri Vishnu as the best method of attaining mental peace and the righteous course that invariably brings deliver¬ance from the thraldom of miseries and complete satisfaction of the Atma."186 "He who worships Me thus adopting the regulated pro¬cesses prescribed by the Vedas and Tantra texts, receives from Me rewards in fulfilment of all his desires here and hereafter."187
Vandan, though it forms an item in Archan, is spoken of as an independent process too. The sense of extreme humility on hearing the unparalleled Glories of the Lord is the main basis of this method- The word Namaskar indi-cates the giving up of all types of material ego. Sashtanga Namaskar means bowing down to the Lord as a mark of respect and in utter humility, utilising all the lndriyas, viz., (1) the arms, (2) the legs, (3) the knees, (4) the breast, (5) the head, (6) the eyes, (7) mind, and (8) words.188 One must bow down to the Lord with his heart and soul, with the eyes slightly opened and earnestly feeling and uttering. "O Lord! I am Thine with my body, mind, and soul." Besides this there is the other method knows as the Panchanga Namaskar, which means prostrating oneself be¬fore the Lord with (1) the knees, (2) the hands, (3) the head, (4) with words and (5) mind dedicated to Him.189
tat te 'nukampaam su-samikshamaano bhunjaana evaatma-kritam vipaakam,
hrid-vaag vapurbhir vidadhan namas te jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daaya-bhaak..190
mamaadyaamangalam nashtam phalavaamsh caiva me bhavah,
yan namasye bhagavato yogi-dhyeyaanghri-pankajam..191
kham vaayum agnim salilam mahim ca jyotimshi sattvaani disho drumaadin,
sarit-samudraamsh ca hareh shariram yat kim ca bhutam pranamed ananyah..192
patitah skhalitash caartah kshuttvaa vaa vivasho grinan,
haraye nama ity uccair mucyate sarva-paatakaat..193
'Therefore, he who beaming all the consequences of his previ¬ous actions, anticipating Thy Mercy with eagerness, and surrender¬ing himself to Thee unconditionally in body, mind, and words, lives by offering salutations to Thee, richly deserves to attain Thee (Muktipadam- Shri Krishna himself)."190 "Today, all my evils have left me, the very purpose of my birth is fulfilled; because I offer my prostrated obeisances at the Lotus Feet of Shri Krishna, which are always meditated upon by Yogis."191 '" "With single-minded devotion, one should bow down to all movable and immovable objects, such as the sky, air, fire, water, earth, stars, planets like the moon, etc., all living beings, the cardinal points, trees and the like, rivers, ocean, etc., as the limbs of Bhagavan Shri Hari."192: "He who has fallen in a well, a ditch, or a pit, etc., or has slipped from a staircase, and is afflicted in manifold ways, and utters even once loudly "I bow down toThee-Shri Hari", is freed from all his sins.""193
yan-naama-shruti-maatrena pumaan bhavati nirmalah,
tasya tirtha-padah kim vaa daasaanaam avashishyate..194
taavad raagaadayah stenaas taavat kaaraa-griham griham,
taavan moho ’nghri-nigado yaavat krishna na te janaah..195
kaayena vaacaa manasendriyair vaa buddhyaatmanaa vaanushrita-svabhaavaat,
karoti yad yat sakalam parasmai naaraayanaayeti samarpayet tat..196
kim citram acyuta tavaitad ashesha-bandho daaseshv ananya-sharanesu yad aatma-saattvam,
yo ’rocayat saha mrigaih svayam ishvaraanaam shrimat-kirita-tata-pidita-paada-pithah..197
A sincere feeling that one is the servant of the Lord and the accompanying acts of servitude are the signs of Dasya mode of devotion. Let alone the various efforts of the votary of this method in the worship of the Lord,
the very feeling itself is alone capable of lead¬ing him to the realisation of the Supreme Lord. A servant of the Lord occupies a position second to none. In all forms of devotion this feeling of rendering service to the Supreme Lord plays the most important role. In this connection our Sastras, in a single voice, emphatically declare the incomparable glories of the servants of the Lord. To attain the position of a servant of the Lord, needs Herculean efforts. "Is there in all the worlds anything yet to be attained on the part of the servants of the most auspicious Feet of the Supreme Lord, by the mere hearing of Whose Name, the fallen Jivas get rid of all their sins?"194 "O Krishna! As long as man does not become Your servant, so long alone love, etc, act as thieves (as they deprive us of our inherent knowledge and bliss), the house becomes a prison (owing to the existence of endless sufferings), and delusion as fetters on legs."195 "Whatever man does, guided either by the rules and regulations of the sacred scriptures, or inspired by natural in¬stincts, through the medium of his physical body, worlds, mind, senses, intellect, or even by inherited habits, he should dedicate them all to the Supreme Lord Shri Narayana."196 "O Achyuta! O the Bene¬factor of the universe! Though great gods like Brahma prostrate them¬selves with their splendid crowns, the tops of which brush against Your Footstool, You, in Your Descent as Shri Raghuram, accepted the alliance of friendship of the monkeys. Hence, what wonder is there, that You exhibit Your extreme addiction and subservience to Your great servants who have taken absolute shelter in You alone and none else."197
aho bhaagyam aho bhaagyam nanda-gopa-vrajaukasaam,
yan-mitram paramaanandam purnam brahma sanaatanam..198
Great confidence and friendly relationship form the features of Sakhya devotion. Attending to the various comforts and timely ser¬vice of the Lord in a Friendly way, is the char¬acteristic of a Bhakta of this order. Just as a sin¬cere friend in the world, is always eager for the welfare of his companion, so too a genuine devo¬tee of this order, puts in all his loving efforts in the interest of the Lord. This feeling of friendship is twofold:- (1) Mixed with rever¬ence (Gaurav), and (2) undiluted friendship (Visrambha). "Lo! How incomparable is their fortune! It is simply impossible to measure the luck of Shri Nanda Maharaj and other Vrajavasis, whose Dear Friend is the Eternal Lord Shri Krishna- the very Embodiment of Bliss!"198 '*
Complete self-surrender is the essence of this form of Bhakti.This consists of surrendering unconditionally one's body, mind, words,soul, and all that one feels as his own to the Lord.A devotee of this order is utterly indifferent to make efforts even for his own purposes. But, he never abstains from rendering services to the Lord. Even the very idea of maintaining himself, does not cross his mind, as he ever remains busy in the service of his Lord. Service to the Lord is the very essence of his existence. Their condition is like that of a beast that has been sold. When once it is sold to a new customer, the entire responsibility of maintaining it rests on the shoul¬ders of the new master. The beast too, is out of his hand and never renders any service to its erstwhile master. Even so, after complete self-surrender, the surrendered soul feels that he is the property of the Lord and he has nothing that he can claim as his. Accordingly, such a devotee never worries for his daily necessities, such as food, clothing, etc., or even medicine during all sorts of illness. Atmanivedan distinguishes itself from Saranagati in respect of certain special char¬acteristics. In a word, Atmanivedan is the fully developed condition of saranagati.
sa vai manah krishna-paadaaravindayor vacaamsi vaikuntha-gunaanuvarnane,
karau harer mandira-maarjanaadishu shrutim cakaaraacyuta-sat-kathodaye..199
mukunda-lingaalaya-darshane drishau tad-bhritya-gaatra-sparshe ’nga-sangamam,
ghraanam ca tat-paada-saroja-saurabhe shrimat-tulasyaa rasanaam tad-arpite..200
paadau hareh kshetra-padaanusarpaneshiro hrishikesha-padaabhivandane,
kaamam ca daasye na tu kaama-kaamyayaa yathottamashloka-janaashrayaa ratih..201
"He engaged his mind in meditating on the Lotus Feet of Shri Krishna, his words in glorifying the excellences of the Lord, his hands in cleaning the temples and performing such other necessary ser¬vices there and his ears in listening the Holy Narrations of Lord Achyuta."199 "His eyes were engaged in beholding the Holy Images of Shri Mukunda, sacred Abodes like Mathura, Puri, etc., and in see¬ing great devotees, the organ of touch in close embrace of the devo¬tees, the sense of smell in experiencing the sweet perfume of the sacred Tulasi and other flowers offered at the Feet of the Lord and his tongue in tasting what is offered to the Lord."200 "His feet were
employed in circumambulating sacred places and temples of Shri Hari, and his head in offering prostrated obeisances at the Feet of Shri Hrishikes (the Lord of the senses). He did all these, prompted solely by his love for the service of the Lord alone and not for the attain¬ment of any of the worldly prosperities. The practice of such actions enables one to derive great delight in the association of genuine devo¬tees of the Lord or to have attachment to the Lord similar to that of His favourite devotees."201
trinaad api sunicena taror api sahishnunaa,
amaaninaa maanadena kirtaniyah sadaa harih..202
As long as we are afflicted with worldliness, so long we do not feel any relish to speak of the Glories of Godhead. Because of the fact that we have not been able to develop a taste for such objects, are we to give it up completely? No, not at all. That is the only course for lis to attain our eternal good. If we give up the spiritual course of action, our next alternative, is to indulge grossly, once again in ex¬treme wordliness. Just as to a patient of biles, a piece of sugarcandy tastes bitter, so also to one who is completely lost in transitory plea¬sures of this transient world, the Glorious Excellences and Charm¬ing Deeds of Bhagavan are insipid tales. Yet, the procedure is to be continued with firm endeavour, having full faith in its results. In the chanting of the Holy Name, these two qualifications are unavoidable factors: (1) a constant endeavour, and (2) firm faith in Its marvellous results. If an adequate longing to be in the incessant service of the Lord with one's heart and soul is in the Sadhak, the Name will be perceptible to his sense-organs automatically. The third Sloka in 'Shri Sikshastak' composed by Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu throws suffi- ¦ cient light on the eligibilities necessary for chanting the Name. For experiencing the immediate effects of the Kirtan of Lord's Name, it is essential that we should equip ourselves with these qualifications. "He who feels himself humbler than a blade of grass, is more for¬bearing than a tree and without coveting any respect for himself duly aspects others, should chant the Holy Name constantly."202 Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in His above Sloka has prescribed four quali¬fications as compulsory pre-requisites for constant chanting of the Holy Name.
naaham vipro na ca nara-patir naapi vaishyo na shudro naaham varni na ca griha-patir no vanastho yatir vaa,
kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramaananda-purnaamritaabdher gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor daasa-daasaanudaasah..203
maj-janmanah phalam idam madhu-kaitabhaare mat-praarthaniya-mad-anugraha esha eva,
tvad-bhritya-bhritya-paricaaraka-bhritya-bhritya-bhrityasya bhritya iti maam smara loka-naatha..204
The first qualification is 'humility', i.e., feeling oneself humbler than a blade of grass, as 'humility is the foundation of all virtues'. A blade of grass has got its own utility in this world. It allows itself even to be trod upon without rais-ing any protest. As such, amongst the created objects of the world, grass is taken as an em¬blem of humility. As long as we are bent upon satisfying the needs of our physical body and the subtle mind, the virtue of humility lies farther than the farthest star in the heavens. Our present condition is undisputedly one of soul in bondage. It identifies itself, sometimes, with its physical body and at other times with its subtle covering, but in no case with its real and uncontaminated status. All our egoistic outbursts are due to the misidentification of the soul with the gross - body and its surroundings. This is the worst part of human nature. How wise is the saying, 'pride goeth before fall"? For enabling us to utter the Name of the Lord continuously, we are to free ourselves from this unpleasant and uncongenial trait. How to overcome this false ego? A relief from these false pretensions is possible by the understanding of one's true self and its relationship. In fact, the real T that is working in us, the one that is vital in us, due to the presence of which we function in all fields of activities, is altogether a differ¬ent entity having nothing whatsoever material in it. Unfortunately, we have erred in making a misuse of the freedom of will, a special gift to us by the Supreme Lord and this misuse has brought about this deplorable condition to us, the children of the Immortal Lord, free from false ego that is at the root of our undoing. Denouncing boldly all our egoism and its basis- the false misidentification- we can experience the charming sentiments expressed by Shri Gaurang'a Mahaprabhu in another composition of His. "I am neither a Brah¬min, nor a Kshatriya, nor a Vaisya,-iwr even a Sudra. 1 am neither a Brahmachari, a householder, a Vanaprasthi nor a Sanyasi. I am a humble seivant of the servants who serve the Lotus Feet of Shri Krishna, the Beloved of the Gopis, the most sublime and the Embodiment of an Ocean of Eternal Bliss. "203 Thus, Shriman Mahaprabhu has marvellously impressed us with our real nature. This should be our worthy feeling, diametrically opposed to the false one. This is the true natuer of our 'self. All our identifications other than this, are thrust upon us by the divine illusion as a penalty for our foolish mis¬use of our will-power: By the Mercy of the Lord, when any soul is blessed with the knowledge of his true relationship with Him that fortunate man becomes very meek. He is humbler than a blade of grass and hence a worthy aspirant for constantly chanting Shri Hari Nama. He has attained the virtue of humility, free from any tinge of material ego arising from high or noble birth, age, prosperity, etc. "O Killer of the demon Madhu and Kaitabh! O Lord of the Universe! May this be the true result of all my births, the real fruit of my long coveted desire, my only prayer and this alone be Thy favour to me, that Thou wouldst remember me as the servant of Thy servants' ser¬vant, in the long line of Thy servants ever engaged in Thy service."204 Let the essence of these expressions and their real spirit be the ideal motto of everyone of us, desiring to march along the path of constant chanting of the Name inculcated upon the people by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
vriksha yena kaatileha kichu naa bolaya,
shukaanaa maileha kaare paani naa maagaya..205
(Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita,20.25)
The second qualification is 'forbearance1, greater than that of a tree. Kven when the tree is cut to pieces, not only it tolerates all our ingratitude, but it extends help to us with every part of its trunk or branches. Exposed to all extreme climates, it never asks for any help from anyone.205 A religious career in this world, in contrast to the worldly course* is often best with utterly discouraging events. A new convert has to face vehement oppositions in multitudes. The way to God-realisation is not strewn with soft and sweet smelling roses, but it is a path laid with great barriers and insurmountable difficulties. Hard tests from all corners, from the society, from relations, friends, from gods, and even by one's own body and mind, form but few of the major problems for the aspirant to tackle calmly. Merciless persecu¬tions on one side, piercing words on the other side, inhuman behaviour still to add to these, one has to experience in this world the moment he selects this noble path. If the sight of these threatening external barriers, surrounding the perennial spring of everlasting happiness kindles fear and disappointment in him, he is totally undone. If he yields to doubts and despair and falls back from his original enthusi¬asm, he will be forthwith hurled down to the vortex of utter disap¬pointments. This failure in the life of the aspirant may sometimes bring to him a grave doubt even in the existence of our Beloved Lord. He may accuse Him of cruelty, partiality, etc., and sometimes he may find fault with himself for adopting such a path. He may fall a prey to innumerable drawbacks of this nature, if he is found wanting in the one virtue, 'forbearance'. 'Patience and perseverance will over¬come mountains', is a wise and appropriate saying. How inspiring is the example of Haridas Thakur! What a glorious illustration of this sublime ideal! Let his words echo and re-echo in the heart of every aspirant who intends to chant the Name of the Lord!
All these extraneous factors, however disappointing they may be apparently, are to be treated as sympathetic expressions of kind¬ness from so many well-wishers, for our rectification arranged by the Lord Himself. With this belief, one must cast away the least sense of revenge or retaliation. He should remember the wise words, 'not by hatred is hatred stilled, but by love alone, is hatred killed'. What did the great Haridas Thakur do? Did he ever try to wreak ven¬geance on his persecutors? Never, never. On the contrary, he prayed to the Lord to forgive them. One should never be a burden to anyone in the world, but at the same time, by rendering the maximum ser¬vice even at the risk of his comforts, he must contribute to the eternal benefit of mankind.
The third qualification is 'to give up all desire for getting fame or respect'. One may be a living example of ever so many virtues, but he should be free from any pride, because 'pride goeth before a fall'. Even a slight tendency in any from for worldly gains, undoubtedly brings him a fall from his spiritual path. "If there be any good in thee, believe that there is much more in others, so that,thou mayest conserve humility within thee."206
The fourth and the last one is 'to give due respect to one and all".Feeling the presence of the Lord in every being, helps us to practise this ideal. This belief must not be guided by averbal loyalty or a mere philosophical understanding alone. It must have its basis well rooted in our vital constitution itself. Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu assures immediate success to all those who chant the Name constantly, fully equipped with the above described four quali¬fications. Rarely, we meet a soul in this world endowed with all these qualifications in him. Does this mean that people must give up the hanting of the Name before attaining these qualifications? No, not t all, they are at full liberty to utter the Name of the Lord. Everyone s humbly requested to take the Name of the Lord, but the real fruit of uch performance is assured on the attainment of these qualifica-ions.
Shree krsan gopal hare mukunda gobinda he nandakishore krasna,
ha shreeya saudatanaya prasidh shree balajivan radheekesa.
krishna krishna,gopinath,gokula nandana,
brundabana chandr,braja ramani jivana.
krishna krishna saranama e dui akhyara,
eka krishna name haya koti granthphal..20 The Names of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna are grouped under wo heads: (1) 'Specific', and (2) 'Generic'. Calling Him by His 'Specific’ Names, attracts Him and brings auto-matically in the mind His awareness, Form, Attributes, Lilas, etc. These Names are"Krishna, Hari, Govinda, Gopal, Nandakisor, Radharamana, Murari, Mukunda, etc."207 The Sastras and sages insist upon the aspirants to call Him hy His 'Specific' Names only Which attract Him surely and quickly. He has no attraction for His 'Generic' Names, such as 'Brahman, Paramatma, Bhagavan, Isvar, Jagadis Vibhu, Prabhu, etc.," denoting His Transcendental Powers, though the Latter are applicable in Their fullest significance to Him alone, in preference to His Partial Manifestations. Shri Krishna is enamoured and ensnared by His 'Specific' Names only.