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C H A P T E R 4
Vaishnava-Dharma is Nitya-Dharma
Lahiri Mahasaya's kutira was adjacent to that of Vaishnava dasa.
A few mango and jackfruit trees stood nearby, and the entire
area was adorned with small betel plants. In the courtyard there
was a large circular platform, which had been there for many years,
since the time of Pradyumna Brahmacari. The Vaishnavas had since
called it the Surabhi Terrace, and would circumambulate it, offering
dandavat-pranama with faith.
The evening twilight had just yielded to dusk. Shri Vaishnava dasa
was sitting in his cottage on a mat of leaves, chanting hari-nama. It
was the dark fortnight of the moon, and the night gradually settled
into darkness. A lamp was flickering in Lahiri Mahasaya's kutira,
and by its light, he suddenly noticed what appeared to be a snake
by his doorway. He quickly adjusted the lamp and took up a stick
to kill the snake, but it had already vanished.
"Be careful!" he told Vaishnava dasa. "A snake may have just entered
"Lahiri Mahasaya, why are you so disturbed about a snake?" replied
Vaishnava dasa. "Come and sit inside my kutira with me, and
don't be afraid."
Lahiri Mahasaya entered Vaishnava dasa's kutira and sat on a mat
of leaves, but he still felt some mental anxiety about the snake. "O
great soul," he said, "our Santipura is good in this respect, for there
is no fear of snakes, scorpions and other such creatures there. In
Nadiya, there is always danger from snakes. It is especially difficult
for a refined gentleman to live in a forested area like Godruma."
Shri Vaishnava dasa Babaji explained, "Lahiri Mahasaya, it is senseless
to agitate the mind over such matters. You must have heard
the story of Maharaja Pariksit in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. He gave
up all fear of his impending death by snake-bite, and with an unflinching
heart drank the nectar of hari-katha from Shri Sukadeva's
mouth. Thus he tasted supreme transcendental bliss. A snake can
never bite the citta-deha; the only snake that can wound the spiritual
body is the snake of separation from topics of Shri Hari.
"The material body is not eternal, and one will certainly have
to give it up some day. As far as the body is concerned, we should
simply perform the karma that is necessary to maintain it, and
nothing more. When the body collapses by the will of Krishna, it
cannot be saved by any kind of effort, but until the designated time
for the demise of the body has arrived, a snake cannot harm a person,
even if he is sleeping right next to it. Therefore, one may not
introduce himself as a Vaishnava until he gets rid of his fear of snakes
and all such things. If the mind is agitated by such fears, how will
one be able to fix it upon the lotus feet of Shri Hari? So one should
certainly stop being afraid of snakes and trying to kill them out of
Lahiri Mahasaya said with some faith, "As a result of hearing
your words, which are just befitting a sadhu, my heart has become
free from all kinds of fear. Now I have understood that one can
obtain the highest benefit only when the heart becomes elevated.
Many great souls who are engaged in the worship of Bhagavan live
in mountain caves, and they are never afraid of the wild animals
that live there. Rather, out of fear of materialistic association, they
have given up living with other human beings, and they live among
the wild animals instead."
Babaji Mahasaya said, "When Bhakti-devi, the goddess of devotion,
makes her appearance in a person's heart, that heart auto
matically becomes elevated. He then becomes dear to all jivas.
Everyone, devotees and non-devotees alike, feels affection for the
Vaishnavas, and that is why every human being should become a
As soon as Lahiri Mahasaya heard this he said, "You have awakened
my faith in nitya-dharma. It seems to me that there is a close
connection between nitya-dharma and vaishnava-dharma, but so far
I have not been able to understand how they are identical."
Vaishnava dasa Babaji replied, "In this world there are two different
dharmas that go by the name of vaishnava-dharma. The first
is suddha (pure) vaishnava-dharma, and the second is viddha (adulterated)
vaishnava-dharma. Although suddha-vaishnava-dharma is
one in principle, it has four divisions according to rasa, or taste
for serving Bhagavan in a specific loving mood: dasya (servitude),
sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parental affection), and madhurya
(conjugal love). In reality, suddha-vaishnava-dharma is one without
a second, and it is known as nitya-dharma or para-dharma (the supreme
"In the sruti-sastra, Mundaka Upanisad (1.1.3), we find the following
yad vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati
Everything becomes known when one understands that
supreme truth clearly.
"This statement pertains to suddha-vaishnava-dharma. The full
import of this will gradually be revealed to you.
"There are two types of adulterated vaishnava-dharma: one is
adulterated with karma (karma-viddha) and the other with jnana
(jnana-viddha). All the practices that the orthodox brahmanas
(smartas) uphold as vaishnava-dharma are actually vaishnava-dharma
adulterated with karma. This type of vaishnava-dharma entails initiation
into a Vaishnava mantra, but Vishnu, the all-pervading Lord
of the universe, is only treated as a constituent part of the process
of karma. Vishnu is actually the superintendent of all the devatas,
but in this system, He is regarded as being only an aspect of karma,
and subject to its laws. In other words, the conception is that karma
is not subordinate to the will of Vishnu, but that Vishnu is subordinate
to the will of karma.
"According to this theory, all varieties of worship and spiritual
practice, such as upasana, bhajana, and sadhana are merely parts of
karma, because there is no truth higher than karma. This type of
vaishnava-dharma was professed by the ancient mimamsaka philosophers
and has been prevalent for a very long time. Many people in
India who adhere to this doctrine pride themselves on being
Vaishnavas but do not care to accept pure Vaishnavas as Vaishnavas
at all. This is their great misfortune.
"Vaishnava-dharma adulterated with jnana is also widespread
throughout India. According to this school of thought, the supreme
truth is the incomprehensible, all-pervading brahma; and
in order to attain this nirvisesa (featureless) brahma, one should
worship Surya, Ganesa, Sakti, Siva, and Vishnu, who all possess
forms. When one's knowledge becomes complete, one can give
up the worship of forms and ultimately attain the state of
nirvisesa-brahma. Many people accept this doctrine and disrespect
the pure Vaishnavas. When followers of this pancopasana system
worship Vishnu, they perform diksa, puja and all their activities
for Vishnu, and they may also worship Radha-Krishna. Still, it is not
"The suddha-vaishnava-dharma that comes to light when one
eliminates the adulterated forms is the true vaishnava-dharma. Due
to the influence of the age of Kali, most people cannot understand
what pure vaishnava-dharma is, and they therefore accept the various
adulterated forms as true vaishnava-dharma.
"According to the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, human beings display
three different tendencies with regard to the Absolute Truth: the
tendency towards the all-pervading brahma (brahma-pravrtti); the
tendency towards the Supreme atma in the heart known as
Paramatma (paramatma-pravrtti); and the tendency towards the Supreme
Person, Bhagavan (bhagavata-pravrtti). By the brahmapravrtti
some people aquire a taste for the indefinite, featureless
nirvisesa-brahma as the ultimate principle. The method they adopt
in order to attain this indeterminate state is known as pancopasana.
"By the paramatma-pravrtti, some people acquire a taste for that
yoga principle which establishes contact with the subtle form of
Paramatma. The methods they adopt to try to attain the trance of
absorption in Paramatma (samadhi) are known as karma-yoga and
astanga-yoga. This doctrine holds that karma includes initiation
into the chanting of visnu-mantras, worship of Shri Vishnu, meditation,
and other such practices. Vaishnava dharma adulterated with
karma is present in this system.
"By the bhagavata-pravrtti, fortunate jivas acquire a taste for the
bhakti principle which seeks to obtain service of the pure, personal
form of Bhagavan, savisesa-bhagavat-svarupa, who possesses all
qualities and attributes. Their activities, such as worshiping
Bhagavan, are not parts of karma or jnana, but are components of
suddha-bhakti (pure bhakti). The vaishnava-dharma that conforms
to this doctrine is suddha-vaishnava-dharma. It is said in the Shrimad-
vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj-jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate
Those who know Absolute Reality describe that ultimate
non-dual substance as the Supreme Truth. Some know this
same advaya-jnana-tattva by the name of brahma, some by
the name of Paramatma and others by the name Bhagavan.
Bhagavat-tattva is the supreme tattva, and is the basis of both
brahma and Paramatma. It is this personal conception of the truth
(bhagavat-tattva) that is the pure conception of Shri Vishnu. The jivas
who pursue this principle are pure jivas, and their inclination is
called bhakti. Devotion for Shri Hari (hari-bhakti) is celebrated by
the names suddha-vaishnava-dharma, nitya-dharma, jaiva-dharma
(the constitutional function of the jivas), bhagavata-dharma (the
religion of worshiping the Supreme Person), paramartha-dharma
(the religion that strives for the ultimate benifit), and para-dharma
(the supreme function).
"All types of dharma that arise from the tendencies toward brahma
and Paramatma are naimittika, and not nitya. The cultivation of
nirvisesa-brahma is motivated by a material purpose (nimitta), and
is therefore naimittika, not nitya. When a jiva is anxious to gain
release from his bondage to matter, his state of imprisonment becomes
the nimitta (cause) that impels him to adopt the naimittikadharma
of striving for the state in which all material qualities are
extinguished. This striving is said to be naimittika because it is
motivated by a nimitta (material cause), namely the state of material
bondage. Therefore, the dharma of striving to attain brahma is
"The jivas who adopt the dharma of seeking Paramatma with a
desire for the happiness of samadhi take shelter of naimittika-dharma
motivated by the impetus for subtle material pleasure. Therefore,
Paramatma dharma is also not eternal. Only unalloyed bhagavatadharma
On hearing all this, Lahiri Mahasaya said, "O Mahasaya, kindly
instruct me on suddha-vaishnava-dharma. I am taking shelter at your
lotus feet in my old age. Please accept me. I have heard that if one
has previously accepted diksa and siksa from an unqualified guru,
he should be initiated and receive instructions again when he
meets a genuine guru. I have been hearing your pure instructions
for several days, and my faith in vaishnava-dharma has been awakened.
Please first instruct me about vaishnava-dharma and then
sanctify me by giving me initiation."
Babaji Mahasaya became slightly ill at ease, and replied, "O
Mahasaya, I will certainly instruct you as far as I am able, but I am
not fit to be a diksa-guru. Nonetheless, you may now take instructions
"Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the original guru of the entire
world, has explained that there are three fundamental principles
in vaishnava-dharma: sambandha-tattva, knowledge of one's
relationship with Bhagavan; abhidheya-tattva, the means by which
the ultimate goal is achieved; and prayojana-tattva, the ultimate
goal of krishna-prema. A suddha-vaishnava or suddha-bhakta is one who
knows these three principles and acts in accordance with them.
"The first principle, sambandha-tattva, includes three separate
topics: The first topic is the material world (jada-jagat), or the fundamental
truth regarding the potency that creates bewilderment
(mayika-tattva); the second topic is the living beings (jivas), or the
fundamental truth regarding the predominated entities (adhinatattva);
and the third topic is Bhagavan, or the fundamental truth
regarding the predominating entity (prabhu-tattva).
"Bhagavan is one without a second and endowed with all potencies.
He is all-attractive, the exclusive abode of opulence and
sweetness, and is the sole shelter for all jivas. Athough He is the
only shelter of maya and all the jivas, still He is aloof and independent
and exisits in His own supreme, independent form which is
uncommonly beautiful. The effulgence of His limbs radiates to a
great distance, manifesting as the nirvisesa-brahma. Through His
divine potency known as aisi-sakti He manifests the jivas and the
material world, and then enters into that world as Paramatma, who
is His partial expansion. This is the fundamental truth concerning
Isvara, the supreme controller, or Paramatma, the indwelling
"In the Vaikuntha region of the spiritual sky, beyond this material
universe, He manifests as Narayana, His feature of supreme
opulence and majesty. In Goloka Vrndavana, which is beyond
Vaikuntha, He manifests as Gopijana-vallabha Shri Krishnacandra,
His feature of supreme sweetness. His various types of expansions,
such as identical manifestations (prakasa) and pastime forms
(vilasa), are eternal and unlimited. Nothing and no one is equal
to Him, what to speak of being superior to Him.
"His identical manifestations and pastime forms, prakasa and
vilasa, are manifested by His superior potency known as para-sakti.
This para-sakti displays its prowess (vikrama) in many different features,
out of which only three are known to the jivas. The first is
the internal potency, cid-vikrama, which arranges Shri Hari's
transcendental pastimes and everything related to them. The second
is the marginal potency, jiva or tatastha-vikrama, which manifests
and sustains innumerable jivas. The third is the potency that
creates bewilderment, maya-vikrama, which creates material time,
material activities, and all the insubstantial objects of this world.
"Sambandha-tattva comprises Isvara's relationship with the jivas,
the relationship of the jivas and of matter with Isvara, and the
relationship of Isvara and of the jivas with matter. One who understands
this sambandha-tattva completely is situated in
sambandha-jnana, and one who does not have sambandha-jnana
cannot become a pure Vaishnava by any means."
Lahiri Mahasaya said, "I have heard from some Vaishnavas that
one is a real Vaishnava only if he experiences the path of devotion
through bhava (emotions), so there is no need for knowledge. How
much truth is there in this statement? Up until now I have simply
tried to evoke emotions through the singing of hari-namasankirtana;
I have not made any attempt to understand sambandhajnana."
Babaji said, "The highest fruit of attainment for the Vaishnavas
is the development of bhava, the first sprout of prema, and the basis
for all transcendental emotions. However, that state of bhava must
be pure. Those who think that the highest goal is to merge their
identity into the non-differentiated brahma practice inducing
emotions while engaged in spiritual discipline to attain this goal.
However, their emotions and their endeavors are not suddha
bhava; they are merely an imitation. Even a single drop of suddhabhava
can fulfill the highest aspiration of the jiva, but the display
of emotions by those who are polluted with the jnana that is aimed
at attaining nirvisesa-brahma is a great calamity for the jivas. The
devotional sentiments of people who feel that they are one with
brahma are merely a cheating display. Therefore, sambandha-jnana
is absolutely essential for pure devotees."
Lahiri Mahasaya then inquired with faith, "Is there any truth
higher than brahma? If Bhagavan is the origin of brahma, why don't
the jnanis give up their pursuit of brahma, and engage in the worship
Babaji Mahasaya smiled mildly and said, "Brahma, the four
Kumaras, Suka, Narada, and Mahadeva, the chief of the celestials,
have all ultimately taken shelter at the lotus feet of Bhagavan."
Lahiri Mahasaya then raised a doubt: "Bhagavan has a form.
Since form is limited by spatial considerations, how can Bhagavan
be the resting place of the limitless and all-pervading brahma?"
Babaji Maharaja resolved his doubt, saying, "In the material
world, the entity known as the sky is also limitless; why should
brahma be considered to be more important, merely because it is
limitless? Bhagavan is also limitless, by virtue of the potency manifested
from the effulgence of His limbs. At the same time, He possesses
His own transcendental form. Can any other entity compare
with this? It is because of this unparalleled nature that
Bhagavan is superior to the principle of brahma.
"His transcendental form is supremely attractive, and that selfsame
form is fully and completely all-pervasive, omniscient, omnipotent,
unlimitedly merciful and supremely blissful. Which is
superior-a form such as this, which is endowed with all qualities,
or an obscure, all-pervading existence, which is devoid of
qualities and potencies? In reality, brahma is only a partial, impersonal
manifestation of Bhagavan. The impersonal and personal features
both exist simultaneously and in perfect harmony in Bhagavan.
"Brahma is only one aspect of Bhagavan. Those whose spiritual
intelligence is limited are attracted to the feature of the Supreme
that is devoid of qualities, and is formless, immutable, unknowable,
and immeasurable. But those who are all-seeing (sarva-darsi)
have no attraction for anything other than the complete Absolute
Truth. Vaishnavas have no significant faith in Shri Hari's formless,
impersonal feature, for it is opposed to their eternal function
and unalloyed prema. Bhagavan Shri Krishnacandra is the basis of both
the personal and impersonal features. He is an ocean of supreme
transcendental bliss and He attracts all pure jivas."
Lahiri: How can Shri Krishna's form be eternal, since He takes birth,
performs activities, and gives up His body?
Babaji: Shri Krishna's form is sac-cid-ananda-ever-existing, full of
knowledge, and completely blissful. His birth, activities, and leaving
the body have no connection with mundane matter.
Lahiri: Then why have such descriptions been given in
Mahabharata and other sastras?
Babaji: The eternal truth defies description, for it is beyond words.
The pure soul in his spiritual aspect sees the transcendental form
and pastimes of Shri Krishna, but when he describes that supreme
reality in words, it appears just like worldly mundane history. Those
who are eligible to extract the essence from sastras such as the
Mahabharata experience Krishna's pastimes as they are. However,
when people of mundane intelligence hear these descriptions, they
interpret them in different ways.
Lahiri: When one meditates on the form of Shri Krishna, the conception
that arises in the heart is limited by time and space. How can
one transcend such limitations and meditate on Krishna's actual
Babaji: Meditation is an action of the mind, and as long as the
mind is not fully spiritualized, one's meditation cannot be spiritual
(chinmaya). Bhakti purifies the mind so that it gradually becomes
spiritual, and when one meditates with the mind that has become
purified in that way, such meditation certainly becomes chinmaya.
When bhajananandi Vaishnavas chant Krishna's name, the material
world cannot touch them, because they are chinmaya. Internally,
they are situated in the spiritual world as they meditate on Krishna's
daily pastimes and relish the bliss of confidential service.
Lahiri: Please be merciful and grant me such spiritual realization
Babaji: When you abandon all material doubts and mundane logic,
and constantly apply yourself to shri-nama, spiritual realization will
quickly arise within you of its own accord. The more you resort to
mundane logic, the more you will subjugate your mind to material
bondage. The more you strive to initiate the flow of nama-rasa,
the more your material shackles will become loosened. The spiritual
dimension will then manifest in your heart.
Lahiri: Please be merciful and explain what that spiritual experience
Babaji: The mind is brought to a standstill when it tries to understand
that truth through words. The truth can be realized only
through culture of spiritual bliss (cid-ananda). Give up all argumentation
and simply chant shri-nama for several days. Then the
power of nama will automatically dispel all of your doubts and you
will not have to inquire further from anyone in this regard.
Lahiri Mahasaya: I have understood that one obtains supreme
spiritual benefit by drinking the liquid rasa of shri-krishna-nama with
great faith, so I will chant shri-nama when I have understood
sambandha-jnana very clearly.
Babaji: That is the best way. You must have a sound understanding
Lahiri: Bhagavat-tattva (the fundamental truth regarding
Bhagavan) has now become clear to me. Bhagavan is the one Supreme
Absolute Truth, and brahma and Paramatma are subordinate
to Him. Although all-pervading, Shri Bhagavan resides in the spiritual
world in His unique transcendental form which possesses all
potencies, and is the supreme person of concentrated existence,
knowledge, and bliss. Although the master of all potencies, He
always remains completely entranced in exuberant association
with His pleasure-giving potency (hladini-sakti). Now kindly instruct
me about jiva-tattva.
Babaji: The tatastha-sakti, or marginal potency, is one of Shri Krishna's
innumerable potencies. Issuing forth from this marginal potency
are the entities who are situated between the cit-jagat and jadajagat
and which have the potential to associate with either. These
entities are known as jiva-tattva. The jivas are cit-paramanu by composition,
which means that they are atomic entities of pure consciousness.
These jivas can be bound in the material world because
they are tiny, but since they are constituted of pure consciousness,
if they simply acquire a little spiritual power, they can also become
eternal residents of the spiritual world and obtain paramananda
(supreme transcendental pleasure).
There are two types of jivas: mukta (liberated) and baddha
(bound). The jivas who reside in the spiritual world are mukta,
whereas those who are shackled by maya and attached to this
material world are baddha. There are two types of baddha-jivas: those
who are spiritually awake (udita-viveka); and those who are spiritually
unconscious (anudita-viveka). Birds, beasts and human beings
who do not seek their supreme spiritual benefit are spiritually
unconscious, whereas human beings who have adopted the
path of Vaisnavism are spiritually awake, for no one except the
Vaishnavas genuinely endeavor to attain the supreme spiritual goal.
That is why the sastras have declared that serving Vaishnavas and
associating with them is the best of all activities.
Those who are spiritually awake develop taste for the practice
of krishna-nama on the strength of their faith in sastra, and from
this they easily develop an attraction for serving and associating
with Vaishnavas. However, those who are spiritually unconscious
cannot awaken their faith in sastra, and thus do not adopt
the practice of krishna-nama. They only worship the Deity of Krishna
as a matter of social custom. Consequently, the taste for associating
with Vaishnavas and serving them is not awakened in their
Lahiri: I have understood krishna-tattva and jiva-tattva. Now please
Babaji: Maya is the material function and is a potency of Krishna.
This potency is known as the inferior potency (apara-sakti), or the
external potency (bahiranga-sakti). Maya remains far from Krishna
and krishna-bhakti, just as a shadow remains distant from light. Maya
manifests the elements earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind and intelligence;
the fourteen divisions of planetary systems; and the egoism
by which one identifies the material body as the self. Both the
gross and subtle bodies of the baddha-jiva are products of maya.
When the jiva is liberated, his spiritual body is untainted by matter.
The more he is ensnared by maya, the more he is diverted from
Krishna; and the more he is aloof from maya, the more he is drawn
towards Krishna. The material universe is created by the will of
Krishna, just to facilitate the material enjoyment of the baddha-jivas;
it is only a jail, and not the eternal residence of the jivas.
Lahiri: Master, now please tell me about the eternal relationship
that exists between maya, the jivas, and Krishna.
Babaji: The jiva is an atomic particle of consciousness (anu-cit),
and Krishna is the complete consciousness (purna-cit); therefore, the
jiva is the eternal servant of Krishna. This material world is a prison
house for the jivas. By the strength of association with saintly
people in this world, one repeatedly practices the chanting of shrinama.
In due course of time one attains Krishna's mercy, and when
one is situated in one's own perfected spiritual form (cit-svarupa)
in the spiritual world, one drinks the rasa (liquid mellow) of service
to Shri Krishna. This is the confidential relationship that exists
between these three fundamental realities (tattvas). How can one
perform bhajana without this knowledge?
Lahiri: If knowledge is obtained by academic study, must one be a
scholar to become a Vaishnava?
Babaji: There is no specific learning nor any particular language
which one must study in order to become a Vaishnava. In order to
dispel the illusion of maya, the jiva should take shelter at the feet
of a genuine guru who is a true Vaishnava. The Vaishnava guru can
impart sambandha-jnana by his words and behavior. This is known
as diksa and siksa.
Lahiri: What should one do after receiving diksa and siksa?
Babaji: One should maintain virtuous conduct and peform krishnabhajana.
This is known as abhidheya-tattva, the means to achieve
the ultimate goal of krishna-prema. This tattva has been prominently
described in the Vedas and all the sastras. Consequently, Shriman
Mahaprabhu has referred to this fundamental truth as abhidheyatattva.
Lahiri Mahasaya's eyes filled with tears and he said, "O divine
Master, I take shelter at your lotus feet. Now that I have heard your
ambrosial words, I now understand sambandha-jnana and at the
same time, to my utter amazement, all the samskaras, or deep rooted
mental impressions related to my caste identification, education,
and training have been dissolved by your mercy. Now please be
merciful and instruct me about abhidheya-tattva.
Babaji: Now there is no worry. Your development of humility is a
sure sign that Shri Chaitanyadeva has bestowed His mercy upon you.
Sadhu-sanga is the only means of deliverance for the jivas who are
entangled in this world. The sadhus and guru mercifully impart
instructions on how to perform bhajana, and on the strength of
that bhajana, one gradually obtains the supreme goal (prayojana).
Sadhana-bhakti (devotional practice) is called abhidheya.
Lahiri: Please tell me how to do bhagavad-bhajana.
Babaji: Hari-bhajana means bhakti. There are three stages of bhakti:
the stage of practice (sadhana); the first dawning of divine love
(bhava); and the mature state of divine love (prema).
Lahiri: Please instruct me. What are the different types of sadhana,
and how are they performed?
Babaji Mahasaya: Shri Rupa Gosvami has described this subject very
elaborately in his book Shri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. I will relate it
to you in brief. There are nine types of sadhana:
sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam
The nine primary limbs of devotion are hearing, chanting,
and remembering; serving His lotus feet; worshiping Him
with various types of paraphernalia; offering prayers; serving
Him in the mood of an exclusive servant; serving Him
in the mood of an intimate friend; and offering one's very
self unto Him.
These nine types of sadhana-bhakti are described in Shrimad-
Bhagavatam (7.5.23). Shri Rupa Gosvami has analysed these nine in
terms of their various parts and subdivisions, and has given an
elaborate description of sixty-four types of sadhana-bhakti.
There is one special characteristic-sadhana-bhakti is of two
types: vaidhi, sadhana impelled by the rules and regulations of
sastra, and raganuga, sadhana impelled by spontaneous love. These
nine types of bhakti refer to vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti. Raganugasadhana-
bhakti consists of internal service to Krishna in the mood
of the eternal residents of Vraja, and adhering exclusively to their
guidance. The sadhaka should practice the type of sadhana-bhakti
for which he is eligible.
Lahiri: How is adhikara (eligibility) determined in regard to
Babaji: When the spiritual master considers that a faithful sadhaka
is fit to remain under the rules and regulations of sastra, he will
first instruct him in vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti. When he considers that
a sadhaka is eligible for raganuga-bhakti, he will instruct him how
to perform bhajana according to raga-marga.
Lahiri: How is adhikara recognized?
Babaji: One is eligible for vaidhi-bhakti when one desires to worship
Bhagavan according to the rules and regulations of the sastra,
and has not yet experienced the principle of spontaneous attraction
(raga) in his atma. One is eligible for raganuga-bhakti when a
spontaneous inclination for hari-bhajana has awakened in his atma,
and he does not wish to be subservient to the rules of sastra in his
worship of Shri Hari.
Lahiri: Prabhu, please determine my adhikara, so that I may understand
the principle of eligibility. I have not yet been able to grasp
your analysis of vaidhi and raganuga-bhakti.
Babaji: If you examine your heart, you will understand your own
eligibility. Do you think that bhajana is not feasible without adhering
to the tenets of sastra?
Lahiri: I think that it would be most beneficial to engage in sadhana
and bhajana according to the rules outlined in the sastra. Nowadays,
however, it has occurred to me that hari-bhajana is an ocean
of rasa. Gradually by the power of bhajana, I will be able to taste
Babaji: You can now understand that the rules of sastra take precedence
in your heart. Therefore, you should adopt the practice
of vaidhi-bhakti. In due course, the principle of raga will be awakened
in your heart.
On hearing this, Lahiri Mahasaya touched Babaji Maharaja's
feet. With tears in his eyes he said, "Please be merciful and instruct
me in that for which I am eligible. I don't want to discuss or contemplate
anything for which I am not qualified."
Babaji Mahasaya embraced him and told him to sit down.
Lahiri then humbly said, "Please instruct me clearly as to which
type of bhajana I should perform."
"You should practice hari-nama," replied Babaji Maharaja decisively.
"Shri-nama-bhajana is more powerful than all other forms of
bhajana. There is no difference between nama, the holy name, and
nami, Bhagavan, who possesses the holy name. If you chant nama
without offense, you will very quickly attain all perfection. All nine
forms of bhajana are automatically carried out when performing
nama-bhajana. When one utters shri-nama, he is engaged in both
hearing and chanting. As one chants, one also remembers the
pastimes of Hari, and within the mind one serves His lotus feet,
worships Him, offers prayers to Him, serves Him in the mood of a
servant or friend, and offers one's very self to Him."
Lahiri: My heart has become intensely eager. O Master, please don't
delay in bestowing your mercy upon me.
Babaji told him, "You should always chant these names without
offense: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare
Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare." As he recited these
names, Babaji placed a tulasi mala in Lahiri Mahasaya's hands.
As he uttered the names and caressed the beads of the mala meditatively,
Lahiri Mahasaya wept. "Prabhu," he said, "I cannot describe
the happiness I have experienced today." Saying this, he fell
unconscious at Babaji Mahasaya's feet due to intense joy, but the
Babaji caught him carefully. After a long period, Lahiri Mahasaya
regained consciousness and said, "Today I feel myself blessed. I have
never before experienced such happiness."
Babaji Mahasaya said, "O great soul, you are indeed blessed, for
you have faithfully accepted shri-hari-nama. You have also rendered
From then on, Lahiri Mahasaya was able to stay in his kutira
without fear, and he began to chant shri-nama on his mala. A number
of days passed in this way. He now applied tilaka to the twelve
parts of his upper body and would eat nothing unoffered to Shri
Krishna. He daily chanted two lakhas (two hundred thousand) names
on his japa-mala. Whenever he saw a pure Vaishnava, he would at
once offer dandavat-pranama. Every day, before attending to other
duties, he would offer dandavat-pranama to Paramahamsa Babaji.
He always served his Gurudeva, and he no longer had any taste for
mundane talks, or for displaying his mastery in singing. He was
not the same Lahiri Mahasaya as before; he had become a Vaishnava.
One day after offering dandavat-pranama to Vaishnava dasa,
Babaji Lahiri inquired, "Prabhu, what is prayojana-tattva?"
Babaji answered, "The jiva's ultimate goal, known as prayojanatattva,
is krishna-prema. When one practices sadhana constantly, bhava
eventually manifests, and when bhava is fully developed and complete,
it is called prema. Prema is the eternal function of the jiva,
his eternal wealth, and his eternal goal. Only in the absence of
prema does the jiva undergo various sufferings in material entanglement.
There is nothing greater than prema, for Krishna is controlled
only by prema. Prema is the complete spiritual tattva. When ananda,
spiritual ecstasy, becomes extremely thick and condensed, it is
known as prema."
Lahiri: (weeping) Can I become a fit candidate for receiving
Babaji embraced Lahiri Mahasaya and said, "In only a few days
you have converted your sadhana-bhakti into bhava-bhakti, and very
soon Krishna will certainly bestow His mercy upon you."
Hearing this, Lahiri Mahasaya became choked up with bliss, and
rolled on the ground at Babaji Mahasaya's feet, exclaiming, "Ah!
There is nothing except guru. Alas! What was I doing all this time?
Gurudeva! You have mercifully rescued me from the dark well of
THUS ENDS THE FOURTH CHAPTER OF JAIVA-DHARMA,
"VAISNAVA-DHARMA IS NITYA-DHARMA"