ददाति प्रतिगृह्णाति गुह्यमाख्याति पृच्छति ।
भुङ्क्ते भोजयते चैव षड़्विधं प्रीतिलक्षणम् ॥४॥
guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva
dadāti – offering pure devotees those objects that are in accordance with their requirements; pratigṛhṇāti – accepting remnant items given by pure devotees; guhyam ākhyāti – revealing to devotees one’s confidential realisations concerning bhajana; pṛcchati – inquiring from devotees about their confidential realisations; bhuṅkte – eating with great love the prasāda remnants given by devotees; ca – and; bhojayate – lovingly serving prasāda to devotees; ca – and; ṣaḍ-vidham eva – are specifically of these six kinds; prīti-lakṣaṇam – the symptoms of loving association with devotees.
Offering pure devotees items in accordance with their requirements, accepting prasādī or remnant items given by pure devotees, revealing to devotees one’s confidential realisations concerning bhajana, inquiring from them about their confidential realisations, eating with great love the prasāda remnants given by devotees and lovingly feeding them prasāda – these are the six symptoms of loving association with devotees.
In this fourth verse, the extrinsic symptoms of loving exchanges with pure devotees are described. As the meaning of this verse is perfectly clear, it does not require elaboration.
Bad association is unfavourable to bhakti; therefore it is imperative to abandon such association. Those who are intent on progressing in bhakti should associate with pure devotees, who possess the power to free one from the tendency to fall into bad association. A description of the loving exchanges shared between devotees, which nourish one’s bhakti, is found in this fourth verse. Lovingly giving another devotee that which he requires and lovingly accepting those items that are mercifully given by other devotees, revealing one’s confidential realisations to devotees and hearing descriptions of confidential tenets (tattva) from pure devotees, lovingly serving devotees prasāda and accepting prasāda offered by devotees – these six kinds of exchanges constitute association with saintly persons (sādhu-saṅga) in its pure form. These six activities are the symptoms of love. One should serve sādhus by the performance of these activities.
Bhakti appears by the association of Bhagavān’s devotees, but since one may not know how to associate with Vaiṣṇavas, this topic is explained in this verse. By the negative effect of maintaining affectionate relationships with the jñānīs, who desire liberation from material existence, with the karmīs, who desire to enjoy the fruits of their actions, and with gross sense enjoyers, one’s bhakti is harmed. One should not give these three types of persons any advice or any item. To do so would be offensive, because describing the glories of harināma to those devoid of faith is included within the category of nāma-aparādha. Also one should never accept any advice regarding the attainment of liberation or material enjoyment from such persons, because it will lead one to develop affectionate attachment for them. One should not instruct them on how to perform kṛṣṇa-bhajana. One should not hear from them anything concerning the confidential aspects of bhakti. One should also not accept food that has been touched by them. By eating food prepared by them, their predilection for either material enjoyment or liberation will be transmitted within one’s heart.
viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 6.279)
When one eats food offered by a materialist, one’s mind becomes contaminated. When the mind is contaminated, one is unable to remember Kṛṣṇa.
Also, one should not feed these three types of persons who possess an enjoying spirit. Eating food prepared by them or feeding them increases one’s affection for them. Exchanging love with devotees who are of the same aspiration as oneself and who are affectionate to oneself enhances one’s bhakti. Offering and accepting items, revealing confidential realisations to one another, and serving and accepting food are all activities that increase affection. One should not perform these activities with those of different aspirations in life than one’s own.