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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > SG Translated and Main Scriptures > Maha Mantra Yoga > Ch 9 The Process of Chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra > Bhajana Pranali

Bhajana Pranali

Hari Nama Chintamani Chp 15:
The Bhajana of Confidential Worship

All glories to Shri Gadadhara Pandit and Lord Gauranga; all glories to Lord Nityananda; all glories to Shri Advaita Acarya, the Lord of Mother Sita; all glories to all the devotees of Lord Chaitanya. One who rejects all other processes of elevation and simply immerses himself in the chanting of the holy name is truly a magnanimous soul and is glorious in all respects.

Science of the holy name revealed

LORD CAITANYA SAID, “O Haridasa! Simply on the strength of your wonderful devotion, you are conversant with all knowledge. All the Vedic philosophical conclusions about the topics of the Absolute Godhead, the jiva, maya, the pure name of the Lord, namabhasa and namaparadha are revealed in your speech. It is terefore rightl: said of you that the Vedas gleefully prance upon your tongue.” Lord Chaitanya desired that the percepts of namarasa, the topmost spiritual science of the mellows of the holy name, be revealed through the mouth of Shrila Haridasa; and so the Lord spoke in that way.

Lord Chaitanya continued, “Now please instruct Me about namarasa. How can a jiva become eligible to receive it?” Shrila Haridasa Thakura then prayed at the Lord's lotus feet, submitting that whatever he would speak on this subject would be inspired by the Lord Himself.

The concept of rasa

Shrila Haridasa replied: “The Vedas proclaim rasa, or transcendental mellow, to be of the same spiritual substance as the Supreme Absolute Truth and the realm of pure transcendence. Worldly poets dabble in a rasa that is totally mundane; factually theirs is not rasa, but a perversion of it. The rasa that exists beyond the jurisdiction of the twenty-four elements of material nature is transcendental and ever situated in pure goodness. This in truth is real rasa. Even the atmaramas, the self-satisfied transcendentalists who have surpassed material nature, are unable to perceive this wonderful supramundane display of divine variegatedness; hence, they are bereft of rasa. Eternal rasa is the spiritual cognizance intrinsic in pure transcendence. It is ever-blissful and resides at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.

“The Supreme Absolute Truth exists distinctly as saktiman, or the Energetic, and sakti or the energy. Qualitatively, saktiman and sakti are the same, though some differences between the two are to be appreciated. Saktiman is always the Absolute Autocrat, willful and independent, and sakti always displays His full and supreme potency. The sakti potency manifests in three ways: the cit potency or the spiritual nature, the jiva or marginal potency, and maya or material nature.

The cit potency reveals the supreme object

“The cit-sakti reveals the Supreme Object, His holy name, abode, pastimes, beauty etc; and Lord Krishna is that Supreme Object. His exquisite dark complexion (syama) is His beauty. Goloka is His abode and the representation of His pastimes. His name, abode, form, qualities and pastimes are an ever-existent feature of the nondual spiritual substance. Transcendental variegatedness is the activity of the superior divine potency.

“Lord Krishna is the original form of all spiritual qualities, and His eternal nature is His para-sakti or His supreme divine potency. Therefore there is no inherent difference between the form of Krishna and His divine nature of para-sakti. Yet spiritual variety (rasa) creates an impression of difference. This is exhibited only in the spiritual world.

What is maya-sakti?

“The reflection of the para-sakti is called maya-sakti or material nature. She is also known as the external potency. Ordered by Lord Krishna, she has produced this material world, or Devi-dhama.

Two types of jiva-sakti

“The marginal region (tatastha) of the para-sakti manifests the jiva-sakti. The jiva is eternal, inconceivably and simultaneously one with, yet different from, the Supreme Lord. He is Lord Krishna's energy and is therefore counted among the paraphernalia of the Lord's service.

There are two categories of jivas: nitya-baddha and nitya-mukta, or eternally conditioned and eternally liberated souls. The eternally liberated jiva is entitled to render eternal devotional service. The eternally conditioned jiva is engrossed in material activities. He can be said to be of two types: extroverted and introspective. The introspective nitya-baddha jivas are endeavoring to reach out to Lord Krishna. The extroverted jivas are totally absorbed in gross matter and thus are far removed from Krishna; they simply want to exploit things originally meant for Lord Krishna's service for their own enjoyment. The more fortunate and pious jivas amongst the introspective ones come into contact with sadhus, and in their association take to chanting the Lord's holy name, which ultimately transports them to the portals of the spiritual sky. The less fortunate introspective jivas are attracted to the paths of karma and jnana, by which they worship many demigods or finally merge into the impersonal brahman.
Rasa and its different aspects

“The holy name of Lord Krishna is the bud of the flower of rasa. Rasa is the essence of pure transcendence, and this rasa, by the grace of Krishna, is propagated in the material world in the form of His holy name.

“With the first appearance of the bud of the holy name is invoked the enchanting Syamasundara form of Krishna in Goloka Vrindavana. The sixty-four transcendental qualities of Lord Krishna exude like an irresistible fragrance from the flower-bud, now partially blossomed. When this flower comes into full bloom, it manifests the eternal and confidential pastimes of Lord Krishna known as the asta-kaliya-lila, or the eight three-hourly pastimes. And although this manifestation is transcendental, it still appears to the devotee within the material world.

The bhakti-sakti

“Latent within the jiva are the miniscule spiritual potencies of ahlada (bliss) and samvit (knowledge). The svarupa-sakti (the internal potency of the Lord Himself) descends to contact and awaken these tiny spiritual potencies of the jiva. All this is effected by the causeless mercy and influence of the holy name. The svarupa-sakti contains the very essence of the hladini and samvit potencies. The amalgam of the svarupa-sakti with the jiva's bliss and knowledge produces a mentality conducive to pure spontaneous devotion, known as the bhakti-svarupam-sakti.

Rasa and the bhavas

(For a more complete discussion of the principles and expressions of rasa, along with numerous examples from the scriptures, please see The Nectar of Devotion [op. cit.].-Ed.)

“Thus one reaches a state of perfection known as sthayi-bhava, or permanent emotion, which is also called rati. Four bhavas combine to transform rati to rasa. The four bhavas are: vibhava, anubhava, sattvika, and vyabhicari (or sancari).
“Vibhava, the element that excites sentiment, has two subdivisions: alambana and uddipana. Alambana, or the person who is the object of sentiment, is again of two types: visaya (subject) and asraya (receptacle). The devotee of Lord Krishna is the asraya, and Lord Krishna Himself is the visaya. Uddipana or the impetus is Lord Krishna's beauty, qualities etc.
“Anubhava (the physical expression of permanent emotions) is what results from vibhava, or the activities of alambana and uddipana. Later, when these emotions become more intense, they are transformed into sattvikabhava (the eight principal ecstatic symptoms). At the same time all the sancari-bhavas (vyabhicari-bhavas, or apparently disturbing symptoms) also come into play.

“Rasa is like a machine. Rati, or permanent emotion, is the axle of this machine. Once the machine starts moving by the combined energy of the four bhavas, the permanent emotion or sthayibhava is then converted into rasa. The devotee, who is the asraya (a shelter or container of ecstatic love for Krishna), becomes the enjoyer of that rasa. And the rasa mentioned here is the vraja-rasa or the spiritual mellow of Vrindavana. That rasa is the essence of everything, and is the highest goal for the jiva. The Vedas expound four goals: dharma, artha, kama, and moksa (religious principles, economic development, regulated sense enjoyment and liberation). But beyond these goals of the Vedas, the actual acme of all perfection is rasa. Fully realized and perfected beings are entitled to taste that rasa.

Elevation via the Hare Krishna maha-mantra

“Amongst the introspective jivas, he who is attracted to pure devotional service is the most evolved. The jiva takes up the path of bhakti only after he has accrued sufficient sukrti (piety) from previous births. When he develops strong faith (sraddha), he comes into contact with a pure and saintly spiritual master. By the grace of the spiritual master, he is initiated into the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra-the holy names of the Divine Couple. (Hare is the vocative form of Hara, a name of Shrimati Radharani; Krishna is the principal name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, meaning 'the all-attractive One'; and Rama may be understood either as the name of Krishna's brother, Lord Balarama the son of Rohini, or as a name of Lord Ramacandra, the hero of the Ramayana. Ed.)

“Although in the beginning this jiva has sraddha, his desire for material success poses an obstacle on his path of progress. The spiritual master graces him with a disciplinary process suitable for overcoming this obstacle; thus he gains spiritual strength from chanting. Chanting on tulasi beads and meditating on a fixed number of holy names daily is the best form of worship, and will surely lead to success. Therefore, in the beginning, a little time should be spent in seclusion daily for full concentration upon the holy name. Gradually, as chanting increases, a more profound relationship with the holy name develops, and the material impediments fall away.

“The path of bhakti features two broad occupations: Deity worship, and chanting and meditating upon the holy name. Although both occupations are expedient, chanting and meditating on the holy name is preferred by the more deeply serious devotees. Many elevated pure devotees sometimes chant aloud the holy names on their beads, and at other times meditate upon Krishna's pastimes on the beads. The advantage of performing kirtana, or audibly chanting the maha-mantra on the beads, is that three kinds of devotional service-hearing, chanting and remembering-are accomplished simultaneously. Of course, all the nine limbs of devotional service reside in the holy name, but chanting and remembering are the two best limbs.

“Chanting automatically manifests the other aspects of devotional service, e.g. pada-sevanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma-nivedanam, and so on. With full faith that the holy name and the person Krishna are one and the same, and discarding the namaparadhas, one should chant in a lonely place with deep concentration.

Three kinds of introspective jivas

“Three kinds of jivas are captivated by the external phenomena: the gross materialists, the karmis and the jnanis. They are therefore all extroverts, chasing after false hopes for happiness. The gross materialist endeavors for sensual delights. The karmi aspires for ephemeral heavenly bliss in the hereafter. The jnani is wholly concerned with how to mitigate his existential suffering. After surpassing these stages, the jiva becomes introspective. The introspective jiva is divided into three categories: kanistha, madhyama and uttama (neophyte, intermediate and advanced).

“The introspective neophyte rejects demigod worship and worships only Krishna, though with certain material motivations. He is inexperienced in the understanding of the spiritual identities of himself, Lord Krishna, and the pure devotee of the Lord. Though he is simple and naive, he is not offensive; he is just preoccupied with himself. Therefore, the neophytes are not considered to be pure Vaishnavas, though they are certainly to be seen as vaishnava-praya or resembling Vaishnavas.
“The intermediate introspective jiva, or the madhyama, is a pure devotee and is very firmly situated in devotion. As for the uttama or advanced introspective jiva, so much can be said about him: he has reached a state of perfect equanimity. One cannot become truly introspective without first being situated in knowledge of the equal position of the holy name and Krishna Himself. The introspective jiva automatically has a single-minded faith in the Supreme Lord; hence, he is entitled to chant the holy name purely.
Advancement in hearing, chanting, and remembering

“The order of discipline or sadhana-krama is as follows: The introspective devotee must at first discard all the ten offenses and simply meditate on the holy name, trying to chant constantly. He should distinctly pronounce the holy name and meditate upon the transcendental sound vibration. When his chanting is clear, steady and blissful he should try and meditate on the Syamasundara form of the Lord. With chanting beads in hand, his chanting and meditation should seek out the transcendental form of the holy name. He will indeed see with spiritual vision the real meaning the name represents.
“Another method he may employ to see this form is to sit in front of the Deities, drink the beautiful form of the Lord with his eyes and meditate upon the holy name. Even after reaching the stage where the holy name and the form of the Lord become one, he must try to remember the transcendental qualities of Lord Krishna. The holy name and the qualities of Krishna must merge through constant chanting.

“Next, he goes on to practice the remembrance of Krishna's pastimes; generally, these will be pastimes that facilitate meditation upon the holy name. The lila-smarana or pastime meditations also gradually become one with the holy name, form, and qualities of the Lord. At this point, the first rays of namarasa, or the transcendental mellows of the holy name, dawn on the horizon of perception. Progressively, the devotee's practice of lila-smarana intensifies to the point where he begins to meditate on the most confidential pastimes of the Lord known as the asta-kaliya-lila, or the eightfold pastimes of Radha-Krishna. When his meditation reaches maturity, rasa rises in full glory.

The svarsiki process of worship

“Asta-kaliya-lila smarana is also known as svarsiki worship. In this stage of bhajana, Lord Krishna manifests Himself according to the time and place of the pastime being meditated upon. Now the devotee realizes the full grace of his spiritual master, who, in his eternal spiritual form (siddha-svarupa), guides the disciple to a sakhi or gopi, who in turn introduces him into the pastimes of the Lord. Of all the gopis, Shrimati Radharani, the daughter of King Vrsabhanu, is the acme of excellence. She embodies the highest spiritual sentiment, mahabhava; serving Krishna under Her leadership is the most sublime spiritual experience.

“The five main rasas or spiritual mellows are: Santa (neutrality), dasya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parenthood), and srngara or madhurya (conjugal love). Of these, srngara is the highest. Devotees eligible to enter the conjugal rasa are the intimate followers of Shri Krishna Chaitanya. In this rasa, Lord Krishna has many yuthesvaris or female group leaders, but everyone prefers Shrimati Radharani. She is the direct manifestation of Lord Krishna's svarupa-sakti or spiritual potency, and all the other vrajagopis are Her expansions. She is the absolute embodiment of all the rasas. It is therefore essential that the rasika devotee enrolls in Her yutha or group. Service to Lord Krishna in Vraja is impossible without first taking shelter of the vrajagopis. One should enter Shrimati Radharani's camp and serve directly under Lalitadevi.

When material coverings are removed, the spiritual goal is achieved

“In the discipline of rasa, sadhana (practice) and bhajana-siddhi (perfection of worship) move into near proximity of one another; thus the wide gap between them closes. In a short time, the servitor's spiritual form begins to take shape. By the mercy of the yuthesvari, he is quite easily overpowered by attraction to Lord Krishna. This strong spiritual attraction eliminates the gross and subtle material concept of his form that was caused by his turning away from Krishna. Thus the jiva gains entrance into Vraja in his original spiritual form. Up to this point, the jiva's progress in spiritual life can be framed in words; beyond it, his relationship with the Lord is indescribable. It can only be perceived by Your grace, Lord Chaitanya.

“Srngara-rasa is the most brilliant rasa, because in the spiritual world this rasa outshines every other relationship. By adopting the bhauma-vraja-rasa, or the vraja-rasa available on this material plane in Vrndavana-dhama, one becomes eligible to obtain the srngara-rasa.

“Shri Ramananda Raya said [as recorded in Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 8.228-230], “'Therefore one should accept the mood of the gopis in their service. In such a transcendental mood, one should always think of the pastimes of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna. After thinking of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna and Their pastimes for a long time, and after getting completely free from material contamination, one is transferred to the spiritual world. There the devotees attain an opportunity to serve Shri Shri Radha and Krishna as one of the gopis. Unless one follows in the footsteps of the gopis, he can not attain the service of the lotus feet of Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja. If one is overcome by knowledge of the Lord's opulence, he can not attain the Lord's lotus feet even though he is engaged in devotional service.'

“The devotee who is naturally inclined to cultivate the conjugal rasa must accept the superior guidance of a vraja-gopi. The jiva is not entitled to serve Krishna in conjugal mellow as a male. Pure devotional service to Lord Krishna at its best is possible only in the form of a vraja-gopi. One can become a vraja-gopi when eleven transcendental sentiments adorn the heart. They are: 1) sambandha (relationship), 2) bayasa (age), 3) nama (name), 4) rupa (form), 5) yutha-pravesa (entrance into a group), 6) vesa (attire), 7) ajna (permission), 8) basa-sthana (place of residence), 9) seva (service), 10) parakastha (excellence), 11) palya-dasi-bhava (the mood of a kept maidservant of Krishna). The devotee may be in any worldly form, but he must cultivate these eleven sentiments and perform bhajana properly.

Five stages of consciousness in bhava-sadhana

“While cultivating these eleven gopi sentiments, five stages of consciousness develop. They are 1) sravana-dasa (the stage of hearing), 2) varana-dasa (the stage of acceptance), 3) smarana-dasa (the stage of remembering), 4) apana-dasa (stage of application), and 5) sampatti-dasa (stage of inheritance). Shrila Ramananda Raya says [as quoted in Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-
lila 8.220-222],

“'One who is attracted by the ecstatic love of the gopis does not care about the regulative principles of Vedic life or popular opinion. Rather, he completely surrenders unto Krishna and renders service unto Him. In this liberated stage the devotee is attracted by one of the humors (rasas) in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As he continues to serve the Lord in that mood, he attains a spiritual body to serve Krishna in Goloka Vrndavana.'

“So saying, Shrila Ramananda Raya instructs us to first attain the form and mood of a vraja-gopi in order to obtain service in the conjugal mood.

“When a sadhaka devotee, having heard about Lord Krishna's pastimes, is attracted to the conjugal mellow, he should take further instruction on rasa from a realized, saintly spiritual master. This is called the stage of hearing or sravana-dasa. When the sadhaka devotee anxiously and eagerly accepts the conjugal mellow, varana-dasa commences.

Then, by pure remembrance of the sentiments of rasa, he desires to practice them; he then reaches the third stage, smarana-dasa. When he is able to perfectly invoke these sentiments of rasa, he attains apana-dasa or prapti-dasa. Finally, when he can separate himself from all his temporal material designations and is steadily fixed in that original spiritual identity for which he yearns, he has reached sampatti-dasa-the inheritance of his spiritual identity.

Bhajana from sravana-dasa to smarana-dasa

“If, after having tested the disciple, the spiritual master determines that he is eligible to perform bhajana and serve in the srngara-rasa, he then confidentially informs the disciple about his eternal spiritual role as a manjari in Shrimati Radharani's camp, under the supervision of Shri Lalitadevi. The spiritual master teaches the disciple how to develop the eleven sentiments of the gopis, how to meditate on the asta-kaliya-lila, and how to be properly established in both.

“So that he may fully understand them, the sadhaka is shown his siddhadeha or spiritual identity, viz. his spiritual name, form, qualities, service and so on. The spiritual master also discloses to the disciple who his parents are in the sadhaka's manjari-identity, which house she was born in, who her husband is, and so on. At this point, the disciple must spurn all Vedic religious pursuits and simply be a fully surrendered maidservant of Shrimati Radharani, the camp leader. Thereafter, the guru will reveal in detail the disciple's eternal service to Shrimati Radharani in the asta-kaliya-lila. The sadhaka (now a female sadhaki) embraces these revelations in varana-dasa. He enters into smarana-dasa when he actually remembers them on his own; and so, in this way, the sadhaka takes spiritual birth as a gopi in Vraja.

A digression on the subject of ruci

“As the spiritual master discerns the pure inclination of the disciple's heart, the disciple will also disclose his own taste for the mellow or rasa to help the spiritual master. Until the pure natural intentions and mellow tastes are clearly sorted out, the spiritual master's instructions about them will not be unequivocal. Ruci or taste is the natural propensity born out of concentrated sukrti or piety. There are two kinds of piety, past sukrti and present sukrti.

“Those who are not attracted to the srngara-rasa, but prefer dasya or sakhya, must receive pertinent instructions on these relationships in order to get the fruit of their devotion, otherwise they will return to a life of anarthas. The great soul Syamananda at first was not aware of his own siddharuci or permanent spiritual mellow, and so he was made to embrace the sakhya-rasa or the mellow of fraternity. Later, by the grace of Shrila Jiva Gosvami, he became entitled to perform bhajana in his real ruci or spiritual proclivity. This is a well-known story. O Lord Chaitanya, in Your line of teaching on this subject, spiritual acumen and eligibility count above all else.

“The sadhaka has his own svaruci or natural taste as a gopi. Other rucis (such as the acceptance of a husband) are falsely attached to this svaruci before the sadhaka finally embraces the authentic ruci. But by the grace of his spiritual master, the sadhaka nonetheless attains Krishna's service according to his natural ruci in the parakiya-rasa or paramour relationship. Rasa can never come to a full bloom other than in the parakiya-rasa. The summit of Your teachings, O Lord Gauranga, is that the parakiya attitude is permanent in the pastimes of the Lord, both in their appearance (when Krishna descends to Vrajabhumi) and their disappearance (into the invisible Vraja of the transcendental world). (Please refer to Chaitanya-charitamrita, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Los Angeles, 1974), Adi-lila 4.50 (purport), for further elaboration on this confidential topic.-Ed.)

The conjugal rasa is completely transcendental

“Srngara-rasa is totally devoid of even an iota of materialism. The transcendental jiva, in order to enjoy and exchange rasa, becomes a transcendental gopi, rendering devotional service to the transcendental personalities of Shri Radha and Shri Krishna in the transcendental realm of Vrndavana. The slightest tinge of the mundane man-woman relationship is nonexistent there. Only the purest and most ideal conception of conjugal love is manifest as the transcendental mellow. And knowledge of this is available only from a pure devotee spiritual master. Other than by his grace, this inconceivable truth cannot be discovered. It is beyond the realm of speculation and pedantic scrutiny and its understanding is extremely rare.

The transition from smarana-dasa to apana-dasa

“Complete perfection remains elusive unless one enthusiastically performs sufficient sadhana to elevate himself from the stage of smarana-dasa to apana-dasa. The confidential process of apana-dasa is ineffable and devoid of any ostentations like jnana, karma or yoga. Externally, the devotee engages himself fully in chanting the holy name and leads a simple renounced life. Internally, he keeps the splendorous flames of rasa burning with pure intensity all the time. Those sadhakas who are prone to a pompous external display of devotion, or who fail to steadily and properly direct their internal spiritual aspirations, are unable to elevate themselves from the platform of smarana to apana-dasa. Thus the sadhaka may linger, unaccomplished, through many lifetimes of devotional practice.

“This path of worship or bhajana is the simplest; but if the purity of the bhajana is in any way disfigured by a tinge of the contaminated desires for recognition, distinction or reverence, then the sadhaka is thrown off the path of vrajasadhana, or bhajana in the mood of Vraja. One must approach the spiritual master with simple humility and learn this pure process properly.

Two methods of sadhana: vaidhi and raganuga

“Here is how perfection is most easily obtained: the jiva is pure spirit soul, part and parcel of the Absolute Whole. He has a transcendental original form that is all-perfect. He has forgotten his perfect spiritual state and come under the clutches of maya. He is offensive to Lord Krishna and is inebriated with the false mundane designations of his gross body. If, by the mercy of a pure devotee spiritual master, he regains knowledge of his actual origin, then the rediscovery of his original identity can quickly be accomplished.

“There are two methods of sadhanabhakti: one is vaidhi (under rules and regulations), and the other is raganuga (spontaneous). In the beginning, these two methods appear to be contradictory, but upon comprehension of their esoteric purpose, the differences between them are dissolved. The vaidhi method of sadhana is a product of scriptural demands and concessions. Raganuga sadhana is born out of an intense attraction for the activities of the residents of Vraja. The first method is for the general mass of people, whereas the second is extremely rare and confidential.

To the stage of apana-dasa via vaidhi-sadhana

“Every mood and thought of the vaidhabhakta during his meditation and remembrance upon Krishna must be cross-checked with scriptural injunctions. Gradually, his sraddha leads to nistha (firm faith), then to ruci (taste or attraction), then asakti (attachment). When he reaches the first stage of spontaneity tinged with bhava, he discards his dependence upon scriptural logic, knowing it to be an impediment to his progress. After this, he is elevated to the stage of apana-dasa.

To apana-dasa via raganuga-sadhana

“In the smarana-dasa stage of raganuga-sadhana, the sadhaka first remembers the eleven sentiments of the gopis. These sentiments must adorn his emotions before he can remember the asta-kaliya-lila. There are five levels of development in smarana-dasa. Initially, his remembrance will not be steady; this level is called smarana.

Sometimes he remembers the sentiments, his position and his service, but at other times he forgets. But by steady practice of smarana, gradually he reaches permanency of remembrance; this state is known as dharana. As one meditates on every aspect of the subject of remembrance, part by part, minutely, dharana develops into fixed meditation-this is dhyana. When dhyana becomes continual, it is called anusmrti; following anusmrti is the fifth level of remembrance, samadhi, when the devotee has no interest in anything other than perfect absorption in the pastimes of Lord Krishna.

“From the samadhi level of smarana-dasa, the crucial ascension to apana-dasa or the stage of application takes place. For one who is not adept, elevation through the five stages of smarana-dasa to apana-dasa may require many yugas of effort. For a dexterous sadhaka, reaching apana-dasa is accomplished quickly.

“In the apana-dasa stage, identification with the psychophysical body is reduced to insignificance, and his spiritual identity becomes predominant. Intermittently, his spiritual identity or svarupa manifests, and he experiences sublime ecstasy in rendering devotional service to Shri Shri Radha-Krishna in Vraja. These experiences develop until he spends long periods of time in Vraja interacting with others in his vrajasvarupa, seeing the dhama and the transcendental pastimes within.

“In this elevated stage, constant bhajana and nama will inevitably bring about a face-to-face meeting with the blessed Lord Syamasundara. By the Lord's merciful will, all trace of the devotee's subtle body of mind, intelligence and false ego will be extinguished with the demise of the gross body of five elements.

“This is when the devotee's pure spiritual form fully manifests, minus all material coverings. In the mood of pure bhava, he takes up his eternal service to Shri Shri Radha-Krishna in the transcendental dhama. He thus becomes a sadhana-siddha or a perfected conditioned soul who is now reinstated in his svarupa through sadhana and bhajana. He now serves the Lord in the company of nitya-siddhas, the eternal associates of the Lord who were never conditioned.


“The holy name is the greatest and yet the easiest obtainable spiritual treasure. This treasure is obtained when the jiva simply chants with faith and devotion, not caring for karma, jnana and yoga. The jiva quickly and easily ascends to the highest perfection by following the method of namabhajana already described. This method is the best of methods, even better than other methods of bhakti. The basic requirement for successful accomplishment of namabhajana is that the sadhaka must totally shun bad association and engage in the practice of devotional service in the company of saintly devotees of the Lord. Pure love of Krishna is the expression of unalloyed devotional service.

Only a pure devotee's heart has the inclination and capability of receiving prema; the nondevotee's heart denies it. Prema refuses to enter the heart of one who does not keep the company of pure devotees. The jiva's decision to accept either good or bad association has a powerful and lasting influence on his destiny.

“There are three essential traits that must be cultivated to obtain success in chanting: saintly association, isolation from the disturbances of mundane life, and determined, confident enthusiasm.” After saying this, Shrila Haridasa Thakura declared himself to be very low and materially engrossed, bereft of good association and always engaged in self-deception. Although Shrila Haridasa is himself a nitya-siddha associate of the Lord, he expressed himself in this humble way. Humility is the ornament of prema.

The Lord's special favor upon Haridasa Thakura

Shrila Haridasa continued, “O Lord, kindly shower upon me Your causeless mercy (ahaituki-krpa). I pray that You grant me entry into the realm of bhakti-rasa.” Saying this, Shrila Haridasa fell unconscious in loving ecstasy, fully self-surrendered at the Lord's lotus feet.

Ahaitukikrpa means 'causeless mercy'. By saying this, Shrila Haridasa implied that he was spiritually unaccomplished and therefore had no hope for the kind of mercy Lord Krishna bestows upon His pure devotees. In his mood of utter helplessness he simply prayed for Lord Chaitanya's unconditional grace.

Shrila Haridasa Thakura is famous for namabhajana and teaching the glories of the holy name, yet he is also the recipient of Lord Chaitanya's mercy. He is such an authority on the philosophy of namarasa that once, when Lord Chaitanya was relishing the topics of Radha-Krishna lila with Shri Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya in the courtyard of Shrila Haridasa Thakura's bhajana-kutira, Shrila Haridasa repeatedly expounded at length on the glories of namarasa to the rapt attention of the other exalted persons present.
Hearing this, Lord Chaitanya was moved by divine loving emotions. He lifted Shrila Haridasa up and embraced him. The Lord then spoke in confidence to him. “O Haridasa! Listen attentively to what I have to say. The truth about the holy name will be hidden by mischievous rascals who will create a dark shroud of ignorance over the entire world. At that time, these excellent and unrivalled instructions of yours about chanting in the association of saintly persons shall be understood only by a remaining handful of devotees.”

What did Lord Chaitanya mean by 'mischievous rascals'? The prime candidates for this appellation are the various upstart sects like the sahajiyas, aulas, baulas and so on, who propagate bogus mundane doctrines disguised as Mahaprabhu's own teachings. Indeed, they conceal from the world the pure philosophy of Krishna consciousness expounded by the Lord Himself in His Shri Siksastaka.

The Lord continued, “The true path of the holy name will be followed by saintly souls who are totally detached from material life. They will chant the holy name with bhava; because of this, they will be known as rasikabhaktas. Their bhava will be that of separation. By their chanting they will relish the pastimes of Radha-Krishna and Their eight principal gopi girlfriends.

“The jiva is blessed with pure bhakti only on the strength of his sukrti, or piety and faith. Not everyone is entitled to have such devotion. In order to intensify their devotion, I have descended and propagated the chanting of the holy name as the religion for this age. The chanting of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is factually the jiva's inherent and eternal religion.

“O Haridasa! I depend upon you to accomplish this task, and thus I hear from you the glories of the holy name.”

The Harinama Cintamani, the touchstone of the Lord's holy name, is an unfathomable mine of divine nectar. Whoever tastes it is truly fortunate and is blessed by Krishna. He is a great soul and always blissfully serves Lord Krishna in spontaneous loving devotion. I am a fallen soul; I clasp his feet and humbly pray that the remnants of this nectar should be distributed profusely, thus spreading the divine bliss to everyone.

Thus Ends Shri Harinama Cintamani by
Seventh Goswami Shrila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura

This Chapter 15 has been translated and copyrighted by Sarvabhavana dasa prabhu.