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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Jaiva Dharma > 5. Vaidhi-Bhakti is Nitya not Naimittika Dharma



C H A P T E R 5

Vaidhi-Bhakti is Nitya

not Naimittika Dharma


Lahiri Mahasaya had a residence in Santipura. His two sons were

both highly educated. The elder, Candranatha, who was thirtyfive

years old, was a zamindar, and managed all the household affairs.

He was also a scholar in medical science. Candranatha never

underwent any hardship for the sake of spiritual progress, but he

commanded tremendous respect in the brahmana community. He

employed servants, maids, doorkeepers, and other workers, and he

managed all the household affairs with comfort and prestige.


From childhood, the younger son, Devidasa, had studied the

sastras dealing with logic (nyaya-sastra) and that presents the codes

of religious ritual (smrti-sastra). Across the road from the family

residence, he had opened a patha-sala, a school dedicated to the

study of the four Vedas and four subjects: Sanskrit grammar, rhetoric,

logic, and philosophy. There he taught a group of ten to fifteen

students and had the title Vidyaratna (jewel of learning).


One day a rumor circulated in Santipura that Kalidasa Lahiri

Mahasaya had put on the dress of an ascetic and had become a

Vaishnava. The news spread everywhere - at the bathing ghatas, in

the market-place, and on the streets.

Someone said, "The old man has become senile. He was a man of

ideal character for so long, but now he has gone mad."


Someone else said, "What kind of disease is this? All kinds of

happiness is there in his home; he is a brahmana by birth, and his

sons and family members are all obedient to him. What suffering

could drive such a man to adopt the life of a mendicant?"


Another person said, "This is the ill fate of those who wander

here and there, shouting, "This is dharma! This is dharma!"

A virtuous man said, "Kalidasa Lahiri Mahasaya is a very pious

soul. He is materially prosperous, and now in his maturity he has

developed love for hari-nama."


As different people gossiped and spread various rumours, someone

went to Devidasa Vidyaratna and reported what he had



Vidyaratna became quite anxious and went to his elder

brother. "Brother," he said, "it looks as if we have to face great

difficulty because of Father. He is staying at Godruma in Nadiya

on the plea of maintaining good health, but he has fallen into

bad company there. It is impossible to ignore the outcry in the

village about this."


Candranatha said, "Brother, I have also heard some rumours.

Our family is highly respected, but now we can no longer show

our faces because of our father's activities. We have always belittled

the descendants of Advaita Prabhu, but now what has become of

our own house? Come, let's go inside. We shall discuss this matter

with Mother and decide what should be done."


Soon afterwards, Candranatha and Devidasa were seated on the

second-floor veranda taking their meal, which was served by a

brahmani widow. Their mother sat with them. Candranatha said,


"Mother, have you heard any news of Father?"

Mother said, "Why, he's well, isn't he? He is staying in Shri

Navadvipa, and he has become mad after hari-nama. Why don't you

bring him here?"


Devidasa said, "Mother, Father is quite well, but according to

the reports we have been hearing, we can no longer rely on him.

On the contrary, if we brought him here, we would become a social



Mother became somewhat perturbed and asked, "What has happened

to him? Just recently I went to the bank of the Ganga and

had a long talk with the wife of one of the leading Gosvamis. She

told me, 'Your husband has met with great auspiciousness. He has

earned tremendous respect among the Vaishnavas.' "


Devidasa raised his voice slightly and said, "He has certainly

gained respect, but at the cost of our heads! Would he have remained

at home in his old age, and accepted our service? No. But

see now! He's bent on defaming our prestigious family by subsisting

on the remnants of ragged mendicants of different castes. Alas!

This is the tragic effect of the age of Kali. He was such an experienced

man, but what has become of his intelligence?"


Mother said, "Bring him here now and keep him hidden until

you can persuade him to change his mind."

Candranatha said, "What other alternative do we have? Devi,

go to Godruma secretly with two or three men and bring Father



Devidasa said, "You both know very well that Father has no

regard for me because he considers me to be an atheist. I am afraid

that he may not even speak to me if I go there."


Devidasa had a maternal cousin called Sambhunatha, who was

very dear to Lahiri Mahasaya. He had stayed with him for a long

time, and had rendered much service to him. It was decided that

Devidasa and Sambhunatha would go together to Godruma so a

servant was sent that very day to a brahmana's house in Godruma,

to arrange for their residential quarters.


The next day, when Devidasa and Sambhunatha had finished

their meal, they set out for Godruma. Having reached their appointed

lodging, they got down from their palanquins and gave

the bearers permission to depart. A brahmana cook and two servants

had arrived there in advance.


At dusk, Devidasa and Sambhunatha made their way towards

Shri Pradyumna-kunja. On their arrival, they saw Lahiri Mahasaya

sitting on a mat of leaves on Surabhi Terrace with his eyes closed.

He was chanting hari-nama on his tulasi-mala and his body was

decorated in twelve places with tilaka. Devidasa and Sambhunatha

slowly climbed up onto the terrace and offered pranama at his feet.


On hearing footsteps, Lahiri Mahasaya opened his eyes and was

astonished to see the two men. "Sambhu!" he exclaimed, "What

brings you here? How are you?"

"By your blessings we are quite well," they replied politely.

"Will you take your meal here?" asked Lahiri Mahasaya.

"We have already arranged for a place to stay," they replied. "You

need not worry about us."


At that moment, loud chanting of Shri Hari's name was heard

from Shri Premadasa Babaji's madhavi-malati bower. Vaishnava dasa

Babaji came out of his kutira and asked Lahiri Mahasaya, "Why was

there such a loud sound of hari-nama from Paramahamsa Babaji's



Lahiri Mahasaya and Vaishnava dasa Babaji went ahead to investigate,

and found many Vaishnavas circumambulating Babaji

Mahasaya and chanting Shri Hari's name. The two of them also

joined in the assembly. Everyone offered dandavat-pranama to

Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja and sat down on the terrace.

Devidasa and Sambhunatha were also seated on one side of the

terrace, like crows in an assembly of swans.


In the meantime, one of the Vaishnavas said, "We have come from

Kantaka-nagara (Kattwa). Our main purpose is to take darsana of

Shri Navadvipa-Mayapura and to obtain the dust of the lotus feet

of Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja."


Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja felt embarrassed and said, "I am

a great sinner. You have simply come to purify me."


After a short time it was discovered that these Vaishnavas were

all expert in singing bhajanas (devotional songs) glorifying Shri Hari.

Mrdanga and karatalas were brought at once, and a senior member

of the assembly began to sing a bhajana from Prarthana.


"shri krishna chaitanya prabhu nityananda

gadai advaita-candra gaura-bhakta-vrnda


O Shri Krishna Chaitanyacandra! O Prabhu Nityananda! O

Gadadhara! O Advaitacandra! O Gaura's bhaktas.


apara karuna-sindhu vaishnava thakura

mo hena pamara daya karaha pracura


O Vaishnava Thakura, you are a boundless ocean of mercy. Please

bestow your profuse mercy on a sinful creature like me.


jati-vidya-dhana-jana-made matta jane

uddhara kara he natha, krpa-vitarane


O master, please be merciful and deliver this person intoxicated

with the pride of high birth, education, wealth

and attachment to wife, children and family members.


kanaka-kamini-lobha, pratistha-vasana

chadaiya sodha more, e mora prarthana


Please purify me of my lust for women and wealth and the

desire for prestige. This is my prayer.


name ruci, jive daya, vaisnave ullasa

daya kari' deha more, ohe krishna-dasa


O servant of Shri Krishna, please be merciful and give me a

taste for shri-nama and compassion for all jivas - and let me

delight in the association of Vaishnavas.


tomara carana-chaya eka-matra asa

jivane marane matra amara bharasa


The shade of your lotus feet is my only hope, my sole refuge

in life and in death."


When this bhajana came to an end, the Vaishnavas sang a prayer

composed by Kalidasa Lahiri Mahasaya, which was charming and

full of poetic sentiment.


miche maya-vase, samsara-sagare, padiya chilama ami

karuna kariya, diya pada-chaya, amare tarila tumi


I fell into the ocean of samsara and became enslaved in

futile activities by the influence of maya. You were merciful

and delivered me by giving me the shade of your lotus



suna suna vaishnava thakura

tomara carane, sampiyachi matha, mora duhkha kara dura


O Vaishnava Thakura, please hear me. I have surrendered my

head at your feet. Please dispel my misery.


jatira gaurava, kevala raurava, vidya se avidya-kala

sodhiya amaya, nitai-carane, sampahe - jauka jvala


Pride of caste is a terrible hell. Material learning is but an

aspect of ignorance. Please purify me and deliver me to the

feet of Nitai. Please extinguish my blazing agony.


tomara krpaya, amara jihvaya, sphuruka yugala-nama

kahe kalidasa, amara hrdaye, jaguka shri-radha-syama


By your mercy, may the holy names of Shri Yugala appear on

my tongue, and may Shri Radha-Syama appear in my heart.

This is the prayer of Kalidasa.


Singing this bhajana together, all of them became maddened

with joy. At the end, they repeated the line, jaguka shri-radha-syama.

"May Shri Radha-Syama appear in my heart," again and again, and

began to dance exuberantly. As they continued to dance, a few

bhavuka Vaishnavas fell unconscious. An extraordinary atmosphere

developed, and as Devidasa witnessed all this, he began to think

that his father was deeply immersed in the pursuit of spiritual truth,

and that it would be difficult to take him home.


It was about midnight when the meeting broke up. Everyone

exchanged dandavat-pranama, and returned to their respective

places. Devidasa and Sambhunatha took permission from their

father and returned to their lodgings.


The following day when they had finished their meal, Devi and

Sambhu went to the kutira of Lahiri Mahasaya. Devidasa Vidyaratna

offered pranama to Lahiri Mahasaya and said, "Dear Father, I have

one request to make of you. Please come and reside in our house at

Santipura. We will all be very happy to serve you at home. We can

also arrange for a solitary kutira for you, if you give your permission."


Lahiri Mahasaya replied, "It is a good idea, but I would not get

the type of sadhu-sanga in Santipura that I get here. Devi, you know

the people of Santipura; they are so godless and so fond of slandering

others that a man can hardly be satisfied to live there.

Granted, there are many brahmanas there, but their intelligence

has become crooked by their association with shallow-minded

materialists like the weavers. Fine garments, grandiose words,

and blasphemy of Vaishnavas are the three characteristics of the

people of Santipura. The descendants of Advaita Prabhu have

undergone so much trouble there that they have become almost

inimical to Mahaprabhu by such negative association. You

should therefore grant that I may stay here in Godruma. That is

my desire."


Devidasa said, "Dear Father, what you say is true. But why must

you have anything to do with the people of Santipura? Stay in a

solitary place and spend your days cultivating your religious practices,

such as sandhya-vandana. A brahmana's daily work is also his

nitya-dharma and it is the duty of a great soul like yourself to be

absorbed in that way."


Becoming somewhat grave Lahiri Mahasaya said, "My dear son,

those days are no more. Now that I have lived for a few months in

the association of sadhus and have heard Shri Gurudeva's instructions,

my understanding has changed dramatically. I understand

now that what you refer to as nitya-dharma is really naimittika??

dharma. The only nitya-dharma is hari-bhakti. Sandhya-vandana and

other such practices are in reality naimittika-dharma."


Devidasa said, "Father, I have never seen or heard of such an

explanation in any sastra. Is sandhya-vandana not hari-bhajana? If

it is hari-bhajana, then it is also nitya-dharma. Is there any difference

between sandhya-vandana and the practices that constitute

vaidhi-bhakti, such as sravana and kirtana?"


Lahiri Mahasaya said, "The sandhya-vandana that is included

in karma-kanda is significantly different from vaidhi-bhakti.

Sandhya-vandana and other such activities are performed in the

karma-kanda system in order to obtain liberation. However, activities

of hari-bhajana, such as sravana and kirtana, have no ulterior

motive. The sastras describe the results of hearing, chanting, and

the other limbs of vaidhi-bhakti, but this is just to interest people

who would otherwise not be inclined to perform those activities.

The worship of Shri Hari has no fruit other than the service of Shri

Hari. The principal fruit of the practice of vaidhi-bhakti is to bring

about the awakening of prema in hari-bhajana."


Devidasa: Then you do admit that the divisions or angas of haribhajana

have some secondary results.


Lahiri: Yes, but the results depend on the different types of practitioner

(sadhaka). The Vaishnavas perform sadhana-bhakti for the

sole purpose of coming to the perfectional stage of devotion known

as siddha-bhakti. When non-Vaishnavas perform the very same divisions

or angas of bhakti, they have two principal motives: the

desire for material enjoyment (bhoga) and the desire for liberation

(moksa). Externally, there is no apparent difference between the

sadhana practices of the Vaishnavas and those of non-Vaishnavas, but

there is a fundamental difference in nistha.


When one worships Krishna through the path of karma, the mind

is purified, and one may obtain material fruits, freedom from disease,

or liberation. But the same worship of Krishna through the path

of bhakti produces only prema for krishna-nama. When karmis, those

who follow the path of karma, observe Ekadashi, it eradicates their

sins; whereas when bhaktas observe Ekadashi, it enhances their haribhakti.

Just see what a world of difference there is!


The subtle difference between sadhana performed as an aspect

of karma, and sadhana performed as an aspect of bhakti may be

known only by the mercy of Bhagavan. The bhaktas obtain the

primary result, whereas the karmis are caught up in the secondary

results, which may be broadly divided into two categories, namely,

bhukti (material sense enjoyment) and mukti (liberation).


Devidasa: Then why do the sastras extol the virtues of the secondary



Lahiri: There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are

spiritually awake and those who are spiritually unconscious. The

sastras have praised secondary results for the benefit of those who

are spiritually unconscious, and who do not perform any pious activity

unless they can visualize a forthcoming result. However, the

sastras do not intend such people to remain satisfied with secondary

results; rather, their attraction to secondary results should induce

them to perform virtuous acts, which will hasten their contact

with sadhus. Then, by the mercy of the sadhus, they will come

to know of the primary results of hari-bhajana, and taste for those

results will awaken within them.


Devidasa: Then are we to understand that Raghunandana and the

other authors of the smrti-sastras are spiritually unconscious?


Lahiri: No, but the system that they have prescribed is for the spiritually

unconscious. However, they themselves seek the primary result.


Devidasa: Some sastras only describe the secondary results and

do not mention the primary results at all. Why is this?


Lahiri: There are three types of sastra, corresponding to the varieties

of adhikara (eligibility) among human beings: sattvika, of the

nature of goodness; rajasika, of the nature of passion; and tamasika,

of the nature of ignorance. The sattvika-sastras are for people who

are imbued with the nature of goodness (sattva-guna); the rajasika??

sastras are for those enveloped by the nature of passion (rajo-guna);

and the tamasika-sastras are for those engrossed in the nature of

ignorance (tamo-guna).


Devidasa: If that is the case, how should one know which directives

of the sastra to have faith in? And how may those of lower

adhikara (eligibility) attain a higher destination?


Lahiri: Human beings have different natures and faiths according

to their different levels of adhikara. People who are impelled primarily

by the mode of ignorance have natural faith in the tamasikasastras.

Those affected primarily by the mode of passion have natural

faith in the rajasika-sastras, and those in the mode of goodness

naturally have faith in the sattvika-sastras. One's belief in a particular

conclusion of the sastra is naturally in accordance with

one's faith.


As one faithfully carries out the duties for which one has the

adhikara, he may come into contact with sadhus and develop a

higher adhikara through their association. As soon as a higher

adhikara is awakened, one's nature is elevated, and one's faith in a

more elevated sastra will follow accordingly. The authors of the

sastras were infallible in their wisdom and composed the sastras

in such a way that one will gradually develop higher adhikara by

carrying out the duties for which one is eligible and in which one

naturally has faith. It is for this reason that different directives

have been given in different sastras. Faith in the sastra is the root

of all auspiciousness.


Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita is the mimamsa-sastra of all the sastras.

This siddhanta is clearly stated there.


Devidasa: I have studied many sastras since my childhood, but today,

by your grace, I have understood their purpose in an entirely

new light.


Lahiri: It is written in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.8.10):


anubhyas ca mahadbhyas ca sastrebhyah kusalo narah

sarvatah saram adadyat puspebhya iva satpadah


An intelligent person will take the essence of all the sastras,

whether they are great or small, just as a bumblebee gathers

honey from many different types of flowers.


My dear son, I used to call you an atheist. Now I don't criticize

anyone, because faith depends on adhikara. There is no question

of criticism in this regard. Everyone is working according to their

own adhikara, and they will advance gradually when the time is

appropriate. You are a scholar of the sastras dealing with logic and

fruitive action, and since your statements are in accordance with

your adhikara, there is no fault in them.


Devidasa: Until now, I believed that there were no scholars in the

Vaishnava sampradaya. I thought that the Vaishnavas were merely

fanatics who concerned themselves solely with one part of the

sastra, but what you have explained today has completely dispelled

my misconceptions. Now I have faith that some of the Vaishnavas

have truly understood the essence of the sastra. Are you studying

the sastras from any great soul these days?


Lahiri: My son, you may now call me a fanatical Vaishnava or whatever

you like. My Gurudeva performs bhajana in the kutira next

to mine. He has instructed me in the essential conclusion of all

the sastras, and I have just expressed the same thing to you. If

you would like to receive instruction at his lotus feet, you may

inquire from him in a devotional mood. Come, I will introduce

you to him.


Lahiri Mahasaya took Devidasa Vidyaratna to the kutira of Shri

Vaishnava dasa Babaji Maharaja and introduced him to his

Gurudeva. He then left Devidasa with Babaji Maharaja and returned

to his kutira to chant hari-nama.


Vaishnava dasa: My dear son, what is the extent of your education?


Devidasa: I have studied up to muktipada and siddhantakusumanjali

in the nyaya-sastra, and all the books of the smrtisastra.


Vaishnava dasa: Then you have laboured diligently in your study of

the sastra. Please give me a sample of what you have learned.



atyanta-duhkha-nivrttir eva muktih


The cessation of all material miseries is known as mukti.


One should always endeavor to obtain mukti, which is defined

in this statement from Sankhya-darsana (1.1 and 6.5). I am seeking

that liberation through faithful adherence to my prescribed duties,

known as sva-dharma.


Vaishnava dasa: Yes, I too, like yourself, once aspired for mukti after

having studied all those books.


Devidasa: Have you now given up the pursuit of mukti?


Vaishnava dasa: My dear son, tell me, what is the meaning of mukti?


Devidasa: According to the nyaya-sastra, the jiva and brahma are

eternally distinct from each other, so it is not clear from the point

of view of nyaya how the cessation of all miseries can take place.

According to the Vedanta, however, mukti refers to the attainment

of non-differentiated brahma, or in other words, the jiva's attainment

of the state of oneness with brahma. This is clear from one

point of view.


Vaishnava dasa: My dear son, I studied Sankara's Vedanta commentary

for fifteen years, and I also remained a sannyasi for several years.

I endeavored strenuously to attain mukti. I spent a long time deeply

meditating upon what Sankara considered to be the four principal

statements of the sruti (maha-vakyas). Finally, I understood that the

religious system that Sankara advocated was newly fashioned, so I

gave it up.


Devidasa: Why did you consider it to be a recent and antagonistic



Vaishnava dasa: An experienced man cannot easily convey to others

what he has realized through practical examination. How will

those who have not experienced it be able to understand it?


Devidasa could see that Vaishnava dasa was a learned scholar,

and that he was straightforward and deeply realized. Devidasa had

not studied Vedanta, and he began to think that he could do so if

Vaishnava dasa were merciful to him, so he inquired, "Am I fit to

study Vedanta?"


Vaishnava dasa: With the level of competence you have achieved

in the Sanskrit language, you can easily learn Vedanta if you get a

qualified instructor."


Devidasa: If you will kindly teach me, I will study under you.


Vaishnava dasa: The fact is that I am a servant of the Vaishnavas;

there is nothing for me besides this. Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja

has mercifully instructed me to chant hari-nama constantly, and I

am doing just that. I have so little time. Besides, jagad-guru Shri Rupa

Gosvami has specifically forbidden the Vaishnavas to read or hear

Sankara's Sariraka-bhasya commentary on Vedanta, so I no longer

read it myself or teach it to others. However, Shri Shachinandana€````@P@``€``PP@P€°`° `@```š`@°°`°°  @@P` ` P@ °P`0@````@`` P`€@ `P€PP```@`PP`°°°Ppppppp p````@@@@€p€€€€€€€pppp````````` P````    ```````€````````_›8œȰ_Ȱ_粜娈粜が粞〼粞, who

is the original preceptor of the entire world, explained the true

commentary on Vedanta-sutra to Shri Sarvabhauma. Many

Vaishnavas still have hand-written copies of that commentary. If

you want to study it, you can make a copy and I can help you understand

it. You may ask for a copy from the house of Shrimad Kavi

Karnapura in the village of Kancana-palli.


Devidasa: I will try. You are a great scholar of Vedanta. Please tell

me frankly, will I be able to ascertain the true meaning of Vedanta

by studying the Vaishnava commentary?


Vaishnava dasa: I have studied and taught the commentary of

Sankara, and I have also studied Shri Ramanuja's Shri Bhasya, and

other commentaries as well. However, I have not seen any explanation

of the sutras that is superior to Mahaprabhu's. This commentary

was recorded by Gopinatha Acarya and it is studied by

the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. There can be no doctrinal dispute in

Bhagavan's own explanation of the sutras, for His commentary

accurately represents the full import of the Upanisads. If one

presents this explanation of the sutras in proper sequence, it is

certain that his explanation will be respected in any assembly of

learned scholars.


Devidasa Vidyaratna became very pleased to hear this. He faithfully

offered dandavat-pranama to Shri Vaishnava dasa Babaji and

returned to his father's kutira, where he related to his father what

he had heard.


Lahiri Mahasaya was delighted and replied, "Devi, you have

acquired a great deal of education, but now you can try to attain

the highest destination, which is the ultimate benefit for all living



Devidasa: Actually, my sole purpose in coming was to take you

home. Please return to our house just once and everyone will become

satisfied. Mother is particularly anxious to have darsana of

your feet once more.


Lahiri: I have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas, and

I have pledged that I will never enter any house that is opposed to

bhakti. First you will have to become Vaishnavas, and then you can

take me home.


Devidasa: Father! How can you say that? We worship the Lord every

day at home. We don't disrespect the chanting of hari-nama, and

we receive guests and Vaishnavas cordially. Aren't we to be regarded

as Vaishnavas?


Lahiri: Your activities are very similar to those of the Vaishnavas,

but you are not actually Vaishnavas.


Devidasa: Then how can one become a Vaishnava?


Lahiri: You can become a Vaishnava by giving up your temporary,

naimittika duties, and adopting your eternal, spiritual dharma.


Devidasa: I have one doubt that I would ask you to resolve decisively.

The activities of the Vaishnavas consist of sravanam, kirtanam,

smaranam, pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, and

atma-nivedanam, and they are significantly connected with matter,

so why aren't they also referred to as temporary, naimittika? I

perceive some partiality in this. Activities such as the service of

the Deity, fasting, and worship with material ingredients are all

connected with gross matter, so how can they be eternal?


Lahiri: My son, I also needed a long time to understand this point.

Try to understand this very carefully. There are two types of human

beings: those whose interests are connected with this material

world (aihika); and those who aspire for superior attainments

in the future (paramarthika). Those in the first category only strive

for material happiness, reputation and material prosperity. Those

in the second category are of three types: those who are devoted

to the Isvara (isanugata), those who are fixed in the pursuit of

monistic knowledge aiming at liberation (jnana-nistha), and those

who covet mystic powers (siddhi-kami).


The siddhi-kamis are attached to the fruits of karma-kanda, and

they desire to obtain supernatural powers by their performance of

karma. The methods which they adopt to obtain such unearthly

powers are yaga (offering oblations), yajna (performing sacrifices),

and astanga-yoga (the eightfold yoga system). They accept the existence

of Isvara, but they believe that He is subordinate to the

laws of karma. This category includes the material scientists.


The jnana-nisthas try to awaken their identity with brahma by

cultivating impersonal monistic knowledge. They don't know or

care whether Isvara exists or not, but they fabricate an imaginary

form of Isvara anyway for the purpose of practicing sadhana.

The fruit of monistic knowledge is realizing one's identity with

brahma, and the monists aspire to attain this eventually by constantly

engaging in the practices of bhakti directed towards their

imaginary form of Isvara. When they obtain the result of jnana,

they have no more use for the Isvara that they have merely imagined

as a means to achieve their end. When their bhakti towards

Isvara bears its desired fruit, it is converted into jnana. According

to this doctrine, neither Bhagavan nor bhakti to Bhagavan is



The isanugatas, those who are devoted to Isvara, are the third

category of those who seek higher attainments in the future

(paramarthikas). Factually speaking, they are the only ones who

strive for paramartha, the highest goal of life. In their opinion,

there is only one Isvara, who is without beginning or end, and who

manifests the jivas and the material world by His own potencies.

The jivas are His eternal servants, and remain so, even after liberation.

The eternal dharma of the jiva is to remain eternally under

the guidance of Isvara, for he can do nothing by his own

strength. The jiva cannot obtain any eternal benefit by the performance

of karma; however, when he submits himself to Shri Krishna's

shelter, he obtains all perfection by His grace.


Those who covet mystic powers (siddhi-kamis) follow karmakanda,

and those who cultivate monistic knowledge (jnananisthas)

follow jnana-kanda. The isanugatas are the only devotees

of Isvara. The jnana-kandis and karma-kandis pride themselves on

being interested in higher attainment (paramarthika), but in reality

they are not pursuing the highest goal but seeking temporary

material gain; and whatever they say about dharma is naimittika.


The present-day worshipers of Siva, Durga, Ganesa, and Surya

are known respectively as Saivas, Saktas, Ganapatyas, and Sauras,

and they all follow jnana-kanda. They adopt the angas of bhakti

such as sravana and kirtana only to attain mukti, and ultimately

the undifferentiated, impersonal nirvisesa-brahma. Those who

engage in sravana and kirtana without any desire for bhukti or

mukti are engaged in the service of Shri Vishnu. Among these five

deities, the shri-murti of Bhagavan Shri Vishnu is eternal, transcendental,

and full of all potencies. Those who do not accept

Bhagavan as the object of worship are merely worshiping temporary



My son, the service that all of you render at home to the Deity

of Bhagavan is not paramarthika because you do not accept the eternality

of Bhagavan's form. That is why you cannot be counted

among the isanugatas. Now I hope that you have understood the

difference between nitya and naimittika upasana (worship).


Devidasa: Yes. If one worships the shri-vigraha (Deity) of Bhagavan,

but does not accept that vigraha as eternal, then it is not worship

of an eternal object. However, can't one adopt a temporary means

of worship to attain the eternal truth, which is ultimately distinct

from any such temporary forms?


Lahiri: Even if that were the case, such temporary worship cannot

be called eternal dharma. The worship of the eternal vigraha

as performed in vaishnava-dharma is nitya-dharma.


Devidasa: But shri-vigraha that is worshiped is fashioned by a human

being, so how can it be eternal?


Lahiri: The vigraha worshiped by the Vaishnavas is not like that.

Bhagavan is not formless like brahma. On the contrary, He is the

all-powerful, concentrated embodiment of eternity, knowledge, and

bliss. It is that sac-cid-ananda-ghana-vigraha that is the worshipable

Deity of the Vaishnavas. Bhagavan's transcendental form of eternity,

bliss, and knowledge is first revealed in the pure consciousness

of the jiva, and then it is reflected in the mind. The external

form of the Deity is fashioned according to this transcendental

form revealed in the mind, and by the power of bhakti-yoga, the

sac-cid-ananda form of Bhagavan then manifests in the Deity.

When the devotee takes darsana of the Deity, that Deity unites

with the transcendental form of Bhagavan that the devotee sees

in his heart.


The Deity that the jnanis worship, however, is not like that.

They think that the Deity is a statue made of material elements,

but that the state of brahma is present in it while they are conducting

their worship, and that it becomes a mere material statue

again after they have finished their worship. Now you should

consider the difference between these two conceptions of the

Deity and their respective methods of worship. When you obtain

Vaishnava diksa by the mercy of a genuine guru, you will be

able to correctly understand this difference by observing the results

of both.


Devidasa: Yes, now this all makes more sense to me. Now I see that

the Vaishnavas are not just fanatics driven by blind faith; rather, they

are endowed with subtle and discriminating insight. There is a major

difference between the worship of the shri-murti and the temporary

worship of an imaginary form of the Lord that has been imposed on

a material object. There is no difference in the external procedures

of worship, but there is a vast difference in the faith of the two worshipers.

I will think about this for some days. Father, today my greatest

doubt has been dispelled. Now I can say emphatically that the

jnanis' worship is merely an attempt to cheat Shri Bhagavan. I will

submit this topic at your feet again at a later time.


After saying this, Devi Vidyaratna and Sambhu departed for

their residential quarters. They returned to Lahiri Mahasaya's

kutira in the late afternoon, but there was no opportunity to discuss

these topics further, for at that time everyone was immersed

in hari-nama-sankirtana.


The following afternoon, everyone seated themselves in

Paramahamsa Babaji's bower, Devi Vidyaratna and Sambhu sat

next to Lahiri Mahasaya. Just then, the Kazi from the village of

Brahmana-Puskarini arrived. When the Vaishnavas saw him, they

all stood up to offer him respect, and the Kazi also greeted the

Vaishnavas with great pleasure and then sat in the assembly.


Paramahamsa Babaji said, "You are blessed, for you are a descendant

of Chand Kazi‚ who was an object of the mercy of Shri

Mahaprabhu. Please kindly bestow your mercy upon us."

The Kazi said, "By the mercy of Shri Mahaprabhu, we have become

the objects of mercy of the Vaishnavas. Gauranga is the Lord

of our life. We do not do anything without first offering our

dandavat-pranama to Him."


Lahiri Mahasaya was a learned scholar of the Farsi language, and

he had studied the thirty sepharas of the Qur'an, and many books

of the Sufis. He asked the Kazi, "According to your ideology, what

is meant by mukti?"


The Kazi replied, "What you refer to as the jiva, individual soul,

we call ruh. This ruh is found in two conditions: ruh-mujarrad, the

conscious or liberated soul; and ruh-tarkibi, the conditioned soul.

What you refer to as spirit (cit) we call mujarrad, and what you

refer to as matter (acit) we call jism. Mujarrad is beyond the limitations

of time and space, whereas jism is subordinate to time and

space. The ruh-tarkibi, or baddha-jiva, has a material mind and is

full of ignorance (malphut) and desires. The ruh-mujarrad are pure

and aloof from all these contaminations, and they reside in the

spiritual abode, which is known as alam al-mashal.


"The ruh becomes pure through the gradual development of ishqh

or prema. There is no influence of jism, or matter, in that abode

where Khoda (God) brought the prophet Paigambar Sahib. Yet

even there, the ruh remains as a servitor (banda), and the Lord is

the master. Therefore the relationship between the banda and

Khoda is eternal, and mukti is actually the attainment of this relationship

in its pure form. The Qur'an and the literature of the Sufis

explain these conclusions, but not everyone can understand them.

Gauranga Mahaprabhu mercifully taught Chand Kazi all these

points, and since that time we have become His unalloyed bhaktas."


Lahiri: What is the primary teaching of the Qur'an?


Kazi: According to the Qur'an, the Lord's personal abode, which

is the highest attainment in the spiritual world, is known as

behesht. It is a fact that there is no formal worship there, yet life

itself is worship (ibada). The residents of that abode are immersed

in transcendental bliss simply by seeing the Lord. This is the very

same teaching that has been presented by Shri Gaurangadeva.


Lahiri: Does the Qur'an accept that the Lord has a transcendental



Kazi: The Qur'an states that the Lord has no form. But Shri

Gaurangadeva told Chand Kazi that this teaching of the Qur'an

means that the Lord cannot have a material form. It does not preclude

the existence of His pure spiritual form. Paigambar Sahib saw

the divine loving form of the Lord in accordance with his level of

eligibility. The transcendental moods and sentiments that are characteristic

of the other rasas remained hidden from him.


Lahiri: What is the opinion of the Sufis in this regard?


Kazi: They adhere to the doctrine of ana al-haqq, which means "I

am Khoda." The Sufi (aswaph) doctrine of Islam is exactly the same

as the advaita-vada doctrine.


Lahiri: Are you a Sufi?


Kazi: No, we are unadulterated devotees. Gauranga is our very life.


The discussion went on for a long time, and finally Kazi Sahib

offered his respects to the Vaishnavas and departed. Hari-namasankirtana

followed, after which the assembly dispersed.