|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Madhurya Kadambini > 2. Bhajana Kriya|
2. The Second Shower of Nectar
The Madhurya-Kadambini eliminates the need to discuss dualism and monism, but if a reader feels that such a discussion is necessary then he should read the Aisvarya-Kadambini, also by Visvanatha, Cakravarti Thakura.
Now we shall discuss bhakti and the symptoms of bhakti. There are two kinds of bhakti: sraddha (devotional service performed with faith) and misra (mixed devotional service). Pure devotional service, or suddha-bhakti is free from any traces of empirical knowledge or fruitive activity. Pure devotion is like a desire tree or creeper, eternal and unfettered by the concepts of the dualities of birth and death. Yet Bhakti-devi. appears on the sensual plane so that those who have embraced this path may perceive her. Those devotees who seek only the sublime nectar of spiritual life and who have denounced any desire outside of the service to the Supreme Lord, accept the shelter of the creeper of devotion.
Bhakti-devi is the inspiration for all activities favorable to the process of surrender to the Supreme Lord. Like the touchstone, Bhakti-devi gradually converts the iron of material sense perception to the gold of spiritual understanding merely by the power of her association.
The Two Types of Bhakti
From this creeper of devotion burgeons two fresh leaves both representing sadhana bhakti or regulated devotional service. The first leaf is called klesaghni (destroyer of distresses), and the second leaf is known as subhada (bestower of good fortune.) (These two leaves may also be described as vaidhi-bhakti, regulated devotional service, and raga-bhakti spontaneous devotional service. Their difference of mood depends entirely on the practitioner's level of realization). The soft inner core of these two leaves represents the devotee's mood of constant hankering for a loving relationship with the Lord and His eternal associates, When he attains this loving relationship, the devotee feels that he belongs to the beloved Lord and His associates. This elevated stage is known as raga-bhakti, or spontaneous love.
The outer portion of the leaves represents the devotee's dutiful attitude towards Krishna—his spontaneous feelings are curbed by scriptural edicts, his mood borders on formality, and lacks cozy familiarity, tenderness, and open expression of his intention and feelings. His relationship is on the platform of vaidhi-bhakti or regulated devotional service, and it is not as pure as a relationship in raga-bhakti. In actual fact, there is very little difference between these two stages of devotion as far as their ability to destroy distresses and bestow good fortune is concerned.
The Causes of Distress and the Means to Neutralize Them
Distress is caused by five things: nescience, false ego, material attachments, envy, and mundane engrossment, all of which essentially represent different aspects of the mode of ignorance. Sinful reactions, which are also part of klesa (distress), go through four stages:
prarabdha (already mature)
aprarabdha (not yet mature)
kuta (the stage before the seed)
bijam (the seed stage) .
Sins are abominable and they add only partly to man's material distress. The godly traits in man are his aversion towards the temporary, attraction for the divine that is connected to the Supreme, acceptance of that which is favorable to devotional service, mercy, forgiveness, truthfulness, simplicity, impartiality, patience, gravity, respectfulness, humility, and good fortune. The scriptures (SB. 5.18.12) also confirm that the Lord's devotees are automatically embellished with all the excellent qualities that are found in the demigods.
The Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.42) declares, bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra caisha trika eka-kalah, that along with devotional surrender and direct perception of the Supreme Lord, aversion to, and detachment from, matter occur simultaneously. This supports the principles discussed earlier that sadhana-bhakti destroys distress and bestows good fortune. Now, although both these leaves of sadhana-bhakti sprout at the same time there is still a slight difference in their growth. The time lapse between distress being destroyed and good fortune being bestowed is so indistinct that the appearance of the two appear to happen simultaneously. Yet by the subtle symptoms of these two actions, the learned have been able to distinguish the difference.
Bhakti Begins with Faith
The pilgrim undertaking a journey on the path of devotion must have faith (sraddha), a faith synonymous with the firm conviction to act on the words and the instructions of devotional scriptures. Faith is of two kinds: svabhaviki (natural) and balotpadika (inspired by an external force). Faith gives birth to the desire to surrender to a bona fide spiritual master and to learn from him the proper rules and etiquette of the devotional science. Sincerely following the spiritual master's instructions bestows upon a disciple the good fortune of wanting to associate with an elevated saint experienced and absorbed in the same devotional mood as the disciple himself aspires for-min other words, a like-minded saintly instructor. At this point begins the stage of bhajana-kriya, the platform of serious devotional activities.
Bhajana kriya is divided into two parts anishthita (unsteady) and nishthita (steady). When devotional activities are performed on the anishthita platform, there is no fear of deviation or lethargy. Anishthita (unsteady devotional service) is further divided into six gradations:
utsahamayi (sudden enthusiasm)
ghana-tarald (sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes lethargic)
vyudha- vikalpa (a stage when doubts assail one's resolve)
visaya-sangara (a stage of internal tug-of-war with material sense enjoyment)
niyamaksama (although one practises regularly, full justice is still not done to the process)
taranga-rangini (attachment to wealth, adoration, distinction, and so on).
Let us first discuss the beginning stage of bhajana-kriya—the stage of utsahamayi. When a young student begins higher education he is very proud, thinking himself to be a praiseworthy scholar. Such thoughts encourage the student to apply himself and to perform well. Similarly, when a novice commences spiritual life he takes to it so enthusiastically, thinking himself to be somebody special.
The example of the same young scholar explains the stage of ghanataral. At times the student concentrates deeply on his studies, but sometimes, because of his inability to understand something, he becomes apathetic. In devotional activities the neophyte goes through similar spells of opposing attitudes sometimes enthusiasm, other times lethargy.
Vyudha-vikalpa is an interesting stage on the path of spiritual life. sometimes the devotee thinks “I shall convince my wife and family to become Vaishnavas and serve the Supreme Lord. I shall convert my house into a temple and remain there happily practicing devotional service.” At other times he thinks, “I shall leave my family, home, and the rest of my worries behind me and go to Vrindavana. I shall reside there, for it is the holiest of places, and I shall cultivate devotional surrender through the nine practices of devotion.” Or he will say, 'Ultimately, I have to give up my home and all my other attachments, then should I not first plunge into the pool of sensual pleasures until I am satisfied?”
Or he may think, The scriptures speak of family and wife being like a dark and dismal well. Should I not leave home this very moment? Sometimes the scriptures encourage me to perceive that this material life, family connections, wife, children are abominable and to renounce them. Yet how can I do that? My parents are old and infirm, who will take care of them? Besides, if I should leave home prematurely, with my material desires to enjoy still unfulfilled, my mind will continue to dwell on sense pleasures until my final days. This would be a disaster! Therefore, I can understand from my own thoughts that I am too weak to follow the Lord's instructions and renounce family life. For now I shall live simply. When the proper time comes I shall hasten to Vrindavana and spend my days and nights in deep meditation on the pastimes of the Supreme Lord.”
The scriptures (SB. 11.20.31) say that neither knowledge nor renunciation is helpful in performing devotional service; since renunciation cannot give birth to bhakti, practicing renunciation separately is unnecessary. After one is situated in devotional service, however, renunciation is an asset because then renunciation proves not only the effectiveness of bhakti but also its superiority. it is both wrong and foolish to cultivate knowledge and renunciation separately once a person enters the path of devotional service.
A famous aphorism in logic is, “When the renunciate goes begging from door-to-door, he finds all the family larders full with grains because he is given charity.” Basing his argument on this logic the aspiring devotee thinks, “I must take up renunciation”. Next moment he comes across another scriptural maxim (SB.10.14.36) stating that unless one develops loving devotion to the Lord his home is a prison. So he says to himself, “Must I remain in household life and try to develop devotional surrender to the Lord? Maybe I should practice hearing about Krishna or chanting Krishna's name and fame. Should I emulate Ambarisa Maharaja and simultaneously perform all the nine devotional activities?” When bhajana-kriya goes through this state of doubt and vacillating resolve it is known as vyudha-vikalpa.
Visaya-sangara is the stage when conflicting doubts and arguments are resolved in the devotee's heart and he is convinced about the path of renunciation. Scripture states that just as an object lost in the west cannot be found in the east, similarly, a person engrossed in materialistic activities will never become attached to Krishna. The devotee feels that his desires for sensual enjoyment are forcing him towards fulfilling them, and so his attraction for chanting and devotional service becomes weak. Therefore he thinks he should immediately discard those desires and wholeheartedly chant the holy name, although even in the process he may sometimes fall victim to sense gratification. The devotee still remains convinced of the scriptural truth that perfection can be achieved through devotional service. And although he may fall prey to sense enjoyment, he rebukes himself and feels remorseful, always continuing his devotional practices. Thus the devotee wages a war against his desire for sense gratification: sometimes the victor, sometimes the defeated. When he does fall victim, the devotee at this stage of unsteady devotional service still feels regret and revulsion at his weakness.
The next stage of unsteady devotional service is niyamaksama, where the devotee vows to increase his devotional activities. He resolves to chant sixty-four rounds daily, offer one hundred prostrated obeisances to the Deities and the Vaishnavas; serve the senior devotees; avoid talking about mundane topics; shun the company of materialistic minded people, and so on. Daily he makes these vows, but at the last moment he is unable to honor them. The difference between visayasangara and niyamaksama is that in the former the devotee is helpless to give up material sense pleasures, and in the latter he is unable to increase and improve his devotional activities.
Now let us discuss taranga-rangini the last stage of anishthita devotional service. In describing the nature of bhakti it is said that everyone is attracted towards the reservoir of bhakti, the devotee. The devotee himself becomes a treasure-house of good qualities and mercy. These characteristics attract people who, in turn, crown the devotee with wealth, adoration, distinction and position. Although these accolades come to him as by-products of bhakti they nevertheless may stunt the spontaneous growth of the creeper of devotion if he uses them for his self-aggrandizement. Taranga means “waves” and rangini means “play”. Therefore, in the vast unlimited ocean of bhakti these by-products are waves that create tempests in devotional life. The devotee aspiring for pure devotion sees these waves to be harmless,-only gleefully playing and cresting.