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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Jaiva Dharma > 4. Vaisnava-Dharma is Nitya-Dharma



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

your kutira."


"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-

Bhagavatam (1.2.11):


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

not eternal.


"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

is eternal."


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

on suddha-vaishnava-dharma.


"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

of Bhagavan?"


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

of sambandha-jnana.


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

explain maya-tattva.


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

that rasa.


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

me fortunate."


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

sense enjoyment."