Hari-katha Articles Ekānta-bhakti: The Process of One-pointed Devotional Service

Ekānta-bhakti: The Process of One-pointed Devotional Service

mahājanera jei patha tāte habe anūrata
pūrvāpara kariyā vicāra
sādhana-smaraṇa-līlā ihāte nā kara helā
kāya mane kariyā sūsāra

I will be deeply attached to the way of the mahājanas, which harmonizes all previous and present instructions. I will not neglect līla-smaraṇa-sādhana, practice ofremembering Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, for devotionalservice should be performed with the mind as well asthe body. This is the real essence.

In the Mahābhārata (Vana-parva 131.1.17) it is said:

tarko ‘pratiṣthaḥ śrutayo vibhinnāḥ
nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ
mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ

Dry arguments lead to no conclusion. Someone who has no separate view from others is not considered a great sage. Simply studying Vedic knowledge, one cannot find the path of true religion (dharma). Pure religious principles are hidden in the heart of great personalities who are self-realized. Therefore, as the scriptures confirm, one should follow and accept the path of our previous mahājanas, and those present today.

Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.23):

ye ‘py anya-devatā-bhaktā
yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ
te ‘pi mām eva kaunteya
yajanty avidhi-pūrvakam

Whatever a man faithfully offers to the demigods, O Kaunteya,
is really meant for Me alone, but it is done so without the
proper understanding and regulation.

Śrīla Gurudeva gives an example. Once a landowner was approached by the local tax collector, who said, “This year you must pay five hundred rupees in tax to the government.”

The landowner said, “I am very poor, I do not have five hundred rupees.”

“You must pay. If you don’t, the government will seize your possessions. They will take your land and kick you out of your home.”

“I don’t have that much money,” the landowner said. “Here. Just take five rupees and go.”

The tax collector accepted the five rupees, as well as some sweets, and left. Sometime later the tax collector came back to receive the landowner’s tax. This time the landowner said, “Alright, take ten rupees and go.”

The tax collector accepted again. This continued. Time to time, the tax collector would come and the landowner would send him away with a bribe of five or ten rupees. A whole ten years passed, and finally, one day, the government informed the landowner that his house was no longer his and his land
was the government’s property. The tax collector had taken the five and ten rupees of the land­owner and had never given it to the government. He had kept it himself.

Similarly, if you give respect to the demigods and offer them worship, they will not offer your worship to God. They keep it themselves. Also, if you ever stop their worship for one day, they will become angry and turn against you. A clear example of this is seen in the instance where, on the order of Kṛṣṇa, Nanda-bābā stopped the Vrajavāsīs from performing their Indra-pūjā. Indra became enraged and tried to destroy Vraja-maṇḍala. The demigods have no patience or tolerance. They are very greedy for respect and pūjā. In this world, before we offer our love, respect, and faith to anyone, we must try to see if that person is a genuine guru-sevaka or a real servant of God. If they can offer our love, respect, and faith progressively up the line of the Guru-paramparā and ultimately to God Himself, then it is good. But many people come from far away, and with a mood of service and respect to the Vaiṣṇavas and the dhāma, they give some gifts or money to so-called Vaiṣṇavas, who then use everything for themselves.

Then these offerings won’t reach their intended object of service and they will yield no benefit. The ācārya, guru, or the mahājanas are the near and dear family members of God. How can my respect, pūjā, faith, and love go to them? If it reaches them, then that is correct. But some people try to steal this and say, “You are mine. Don’t go here and there. If you do, you will lose everything.” They give many instructions like this. The mahājanas never speak like this. If you go to a Vaiṣṇava or a senior authority and in their association your respect, faith, and desire to perform more and more bhakti increases, then this is good. There are many cheaters who try to steal and enjoy one’s love, affection, and faith. This is not bhakti. This is not bhajana.

yathā taror mūla-niṣecanena
tṛpyanti tat-skandha-bhujopaśākhāḥ
prāṇopahārāc ca yathendriyāṇāṁ
tathaiva sarvārhaṇam acyutejyā
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.31.14

By giving sufficient water to the root of a tree, its trunk, twigs, leaves, branches, flowers, and so forth all become nourished, just as by putting food into the stomach, the life air and the senses become nourished. In the same way, by worshiping Lord Acyuta, everyone, including all the demigods, are worshiped.

If you water the root of a tree, then the trunk, branches, and leaves will all be happy and the tree will be helpful and give its fruits to all. Similarly, if you offer yourself and your service to the mahājanas and follow in their footsteps, then the Vaiṣṇavas, the bhaktas, the sādhus, and Śrī Hari Himself will be very pleased and happy. If you put food into the mouth, then the rest of the body and all the senses will be strong. You may think you can nourish the body by putting nice things like milk and honey in your eyes or ears, but they do not have the same power to accept these things as the mouth does. They cannot distribute it to the other senses.

Someone may say, “Okay, I will give an elixir,” but this will only help for a short time. It can give some strength for a while, but without feeding the body from the mouth, the body cannot remain healthy and strong. Therefore, it is said here that Hari is all-in-all. If He is worshiped and respected, then that respect and worship can reach all. One will be humble, sweet, soft, and able to properly honor and respect all.

If one does not worship Hari, thinking instead to water the leaves and branches of the tree and not the root, then after some time the tree will dry up. The branches, flowers, and fruits will be finished. If you don’t worship Acyuta, Śrī Hari, Kṛṣṇa Himself, and instead you worship others, like the demigods, then all your worship is useless.

One time, Rāmacandra Kavirāja requested his younger brother, Govinda dāsa, “My dear brother, I have offered myself at the lotus feet of my guru, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya. He instructed me to worship Mahāprabhu and with the order of Mahāprabhu, worship Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā-Govinda, Rādhā-ramaṇa. You also should please follow Mahāprabhu. Chant harināma.”

“No,” Govinda dāsa said, “I won’t follow your order or hear any of your advice. I worship Kālī. She is everything. She is Mahā-māyā. She has created this world. She has created me and is very helpful to me. I won’t follow any other.”

After some time, he became very sick and was about to leave his body. Everyone requested his elder brother, Rāmacandra Kavirāja, to give him darśana one last time. Rāmacandra Kavirāja came and again requested his younger brother, “Please Govinda, I beg you now also, in your last moment, chant harināma.”

“I worship Kālī Mātā,”

“Ask your Kālī if she will liberate you from the cycle of birth and death.”

Then Govinda dāsa prayed with deep affection to Kālī Mātā, saying, “Please, give me mukti. I am suffering so much.”

Kālī Mātā appeared and said, “This is not possible. How can I give you mukti? Only Mukuṇḍa gives mukti. No one else has this power.”

“Alas,” Govinda dāsa lamented, “I have wasted my life! I never chanted harināma. I only worshiped you, and now at the end of my life you say you cannot give me mukti, and that mukti is given only by Mukuṇḍa?”

He was very disturbed. He said to his brother, “I now take shelter of you.”

“No, no. Take shelter of my Guru Mahārāja.”

Govinda dāsa then took shelter of Śrīnivāsa Ācārya. He received mantra-dīkṣā from Śrī Guru, after which he became fully cured and well again. After his realization came, he sang:

bhajahū re māna, śrī nanda-nandana,
abhaya-caraṇāravinda re
durlabha mānava-janama sat-saṅge,
taraha e bhāva-sindhu re

O my dear mind, with love, worship the lotus feet of Śrī Nanda-nandana, which grant fearlessness. This human birth is very rare. Therefore, by saintly association, cross over this ocean of birth and death.

“O my dear mind, please chant harināma. Worship Nanda-nandana. This life has been wasted in pursuance of the shelter of Devī, Durgā, and other demigods. Please now accept the shelter of Govinda.”

There is no need to worship the demigods separately from Kṛṣṇa. For example, when a girl marries a man, his family members become hers. Kṛṣṇa is all-in-all. Some say, “I offer bhoga to Kṛṣṇa and won’t give anything to His devotees or to the demigods.” Will Kṛṣṇa then be happy? First offer everything to Kṛṣṇa, then give His prasāda to others. For Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure you can care for all. Some don’t understand this. Therefore they say, “I am worshiping Kṛṣṇa and won’t respect anyone else.” He then neglects, abuses and disrespects all others. This is not appropriate.

harir eva sadārādhyaḥ sarva-deveśvareśvaraḥ
itare brahma-rudrādyā nāvajñeyāḥ kadācana
Padma Purāṇa

The Lord of lords, Śrī Hari, is always our worshipful object, but at the same time it is improper to disrespect the other demigods, headed by Brahmā and Rudra.

Hari is all-in-all, but to respect and worship Him doesn’t mean to disrespect the demigods. Brahmā, Śiva, and other demigods should not be offended. They are God’s servants. After worshiping God, the demigods can be given God’s prasāda.

Śiva Ṭhākura prays and remembers the glories of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and engages in aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā smaraṇa. Śukadeva Gosvāmī heard hari-kathā from Śiva Ṭhākura. Those with love for Hari, whether demigods, men, or women, are respectable. Brahmā is the ādi-guru of our sampradāya. He came to Varṣāṇā and carries the foot dust of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs on his four heads. He has anurāga for Kṛṣṇa. Thus it is seen that even the demigods have kṛṣṇa-bhakti.

In Dvāpara-yuga, Kṛṣṇa said to Brahmā, “Before I appear the demigods should take birth and then I will come.” The demigods serve in the pastimes of God. In the time of Rāmacandra’s pastimes, many demigods appeared in different animal species, as monkeys, birds, and so forth. They were not ordinary living entities; all were demigods having taken birth as animals. Rāvaṇa received a boon from Brahmā that he could not be killed by any supernatural being. He did not think animals or men would be able to defeat him. He never thought a monkey would be able to come and destroy his Laṅkā. Rāvaṇa was very proud; this pride was smashed by Hanumān.

Those who have kṛṣṇa-bhakti or rāma-bhakti, love and devotion for God, are respectable. They are mahājanas, great personalities. Respect for them is respect for God. However, to directly worship an ordinary person, devotee or demigod, thinking this is worship of God, is bogus! The devotee will never accept any direct worship. They offer everything first to God.

īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ yat kiñca jagatyāṁ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam
Śrī Īśopaniṣad 1.1

Everything animate and inanimate in the whole world is pervaded or enjoyed by Parameśvara, the Supreme Controller.

Everything should be offered to Śrī Guru, sarvasyaṁ gurave dadyāt (Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā 104).

Once, someone said, “I offer to Śrīla Gurudeva in my mind.”

I asked, “Do you offer to Ṭhākurajī?”

“Yes.”

“What do you do with the bhoga plate?”

“I eat it.”

“Do you not give anything to the Vaiṣṇavas?”

“I already offered to them as well.”

“You offered in your mind, but many Vaiṣṇavas are directly present near you. Why don’t you give anything to them?”

“Then what would I eat?”

“This is your question. The mahājanas don’t think like this, mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthā.”

The mahājanas offer everything by mind, as well as practically to the Vaiṣṇavas. Anything which remains is yajña-śiṣṭa, food taken after the performance of yajña.

yajña-śiṣṭāśinaḥ santo
mucyante sarva-kilbiṣaiḥ
bhuñjate te tv aghaṁ papa
ye pacanty ātma-kāraṇāt
Bhagavad-gītā 3.13

Saintly persons who partake of the remnants of yajña become free from all sins, but those who prepare grains and other foodstuffs for their own pleasure are sinful and certainly accrue sin.

The last remnants are mahā-mahā-prasāda. This is the process of Vaiṣṇavism. The demigods will not accept your direct offering either, for they are also devotees of Kṛṣṇa. Demigods like Brahmā and Śiva are also very respected, they are mahājanas. The twelve mahājanas are described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.3.20):

svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ
kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo
balir vaiyāsakir vayam

Lord Brahmā, Śrī Nārada, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras, Lord Kapila, the son of Devahūti, Svāyambhuva Manu, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Janaka Mahārāja, Grandfather Bhīṣma, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Lord Yamarāja.

Respecting the mahājanas increases bhakti, but you should not directly worship the demigods. They will not give the fifth and topmost goal of life, which is love for Kṛṣṇa. They can be respected, but not worshiped. Śāstra explains many different kinds of demigod worship according to the different qualifications of the living entities, but this is not beneficial for one-pointed devotees of Kṛṣṇa. Rāgānugas follow the teachings of the Gosvāmīs, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī and so forth.

sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi
tad-bhāva-lipsunā kāryā vraja-lokānusārataḥ
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.295

Desiring to obtain the particular bhāva of a particular associate in Vraja, you should closely follow in their footsteps. Under their guidance, you should perform service in both your external body as a sādhaka and internally with your perfected spiritual form.

With the body of a sādhaka, you should continuously serve and follow the rules of unalloyed devotion for Kṛṣṇa, while internally serving Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of the Vrajavāsīs in your eternal spiritual form. Early in the morning, the Vrajavāsīs churn yogurt and take out butter for Kṛṣṇa. If they see butter anywhere, they feel inspired to offer it for Kṛṣṇa. If they see anything nice, the Vrajavāsīs have this mood, “I will give this to Kṛṣṇa.” If they see a nice flower, they feel, “I will give this to Kṛṣṇa.” By following the Vrajavāsīs, anurāga, or loving attraction, for Kṛṣṇa will come.

Someone may see nice pooris, samosas, halava, and other preparations being cooked in a roadside shop, and think, “I will hide inside and eat to my full satisfaction all the delicious food stuffs!” With such a mentality, the Vrajavāsīs’ moods will never come. The Vrajavāsīs are not greedy for this dog food. They are not like dogs, or dog-eaters. They offer everything to God. Anything nice they see brings about uddīpana to serve Kṛṣṇa.

When rūpānuga or rāgānugā-bhaktas see anything nice, they think, “I will give that to Rūpa Mañjarī, Lavaṅga Mañjarī, Rasa Mañjarī, Rati Mañjarī, Kastūrī Mañjarī, Ramaṇa Mañjarī, and Kanaka Mañjarī. They will take that to Lalitā-devī, who will offer it to Rādhārānī to give Kṛṣṇa.”

Rāmacandra met with the sages of the Daṇḍakāraṇya forest. The sages did not request Rāmacandra for the mood of Brahma or Parabrahma. They said, “Please accept us and give us Your love! May we serve You with love!” Therefore the sages of the Daṇḍakāraṇya forest are mahājanas. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, (1.2.301–302) it is explained:

purā maharṣayaḥ sarve daṇḍakāraṇya-vāsinaḥ
dṛṣṭvā rāmaṁ hariṁ tatra bhoktum aicchat suvigraham
te sarve strītvam āpannāḥ samudbhūtās tu gokule
hariṁ samprāpya kāmena tato muktā bhavārṇavāt
Padma Purāṇa 6.245.164

The Daṇḍakāraṇya Ṛṣis met with Rāma, and seeing Him, they desired to be His beloveds. Rāmacandra could not accept them in His form of Rāma. The sages were in old bodies. They had been performing austerities for thousands and thousands of years, chanting gopāla-mantra. Then anurāga came in their hearts. Rāmacandra was surprised to see this. They were not dry after performing hard austerities. Their hearts were sweet and soft, and within they were youthful. They prayed to Rāma, “Please bestow mercy on us. May You be our beloved.” He said, “This is not possible for Me. In Dvāpara-yuga, Kṛṣṇa will be your lover. Kṛṣṇa eats go-rasa, butter and milk. His heart is therefore very soft and sweet. I eat roots and fruits of the jungle and don’t have this sweet rasa.”

The sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya are mahājanas and should be followed.

kandarpa-koṭi-lāvaṇye tvayi dṛṭṭe manāṁsi naḥ
kāminī-bhāvam āsadya smara-kṣubdhāny asaṁśayam
yathā goloka-vāsinyaḥ kāminītvena gopikāḥ
bhajanti ramaṇaṁ matvā cikīrṣājani nas tathā
Garga-saṁhitā 1.4.28–29

The personified Śrutis, Smṛtis, and Upaniṣads met with Kṛṣṇa and prayed to Him, “Your beauty bewilders Cupid. Once thinking of You, or meeting with You, one is freed from all material restlessness and lust because the mind, heart, and soul become attached to You.”

The Padma Purāṇa describes the history of Candrakānti, the daughter of a Gandharva. She heard that by worshiping Kṛṣṇa, one’s mind will never be restless and one will be very happy. She said, “Gandharvas are great enjoyers. When I become a little older, many men will torment me and try to enjoy my body.”

She asked the demigods whom she should go to for protection so that no one would disturb her, but none could give any answer. She went to many places, searching for refuge, but all the demigods only wanted to enjoy her. Many Gandharvas were ready. She went to Brahmā and asked him what to do.
He said, “Worship Kṛṣṇa by taking shelter of Vṛṣabhānu-rāja-nandinī. She is the daughter of the sun and is very powerful.”

Bhānu means sun. There are four brothers who descend from the sun, Vṛṣabhānu, Subhānu, Bṛhad-bhānu and Bhānu.

Brahmā continued, “If you take shelter of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs, you will be protected. They are very strong. They are able to please Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa left for a hundred years but they did not run after Him. They said, ‘If You like, You can come to us, then You will be happy.’ If Kṛṣṇa tries to give them anything, they do not accept because they already have everything. Worship Vṛṣabhānu-rāja-nandinī, then you will be free from all troubles.”

Candrakānti worshiped Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and after some time, Kṛṣṇa came and said, “Do you like Me?”

“Yes,” she said, “I like You, but not for my enjoyment. I worship You for Your happiness, not for my own.”

“I am happy with you and want to give you something.”

“I don’t need anything. If You give me something, that will send me far away from You. I am fine as I am, staying underguidance of Vṛṣabhānu-rāja-nandinī. If You like, I will serve and worship You, but I need nothing from You. I have no desire for anything.”

yadyapi nirmala rādhāra sat-prema-darpaṇa
tathāpi svacchatā tāra bāḍhe kṣaṇe kṣaṇa
āmāra mādhurya nāhi bāḍhite avakāśe
e-darpaṇera āge nava nava rūpe bhāse
man-mādhurya rādhāra prema—doṅhe hoḍa kari’
kṣaṇe kṣaṇe bāḍe doṅhe, keha nāhi hāri
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 4.140–142

Rādhā’s prema is pure and crystal clear. It is like a mirror, with its purity increasing at every moment. Even though there is no room for My sweetness to expand, it shines before that mirror in newer and newer ways. My sweetness and Rādhā’s prema is always increasing, but neither knows defeat.

Drinking Kṛṣṇa’s mādhurī, the heart becomes very clean, spotless and pure, with no material desire. When Kṛṣṇa sees the purity of His devotees, He becomes very pleased. The heart of Kṛṣṇa’s devotees is so clean, that if anything comes near it, it also becomes pure.

By going to a clean place, you will feel happy and clean, and by going to a dirty place, you will feel dirty. In a dirty place, all will naturally spit, throw garbage, and make that place dirtier. If you worship Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and follows in Her footsteps, your heart will automatically become clean and pure as well.

However, if you go to the devīs and devatās, who are bound in the modes of nature, your nature will not be purified. Coming before Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, Kṛṣṇa forgets He is the Supreme Lord and is very happy and clean. In Her company, His beauty and happiness increase more and more. He sings, plays, and dances hand in hand with Her. Touching Her hand, He feels supreme bliss and is completely cleansed— meaning, He forgets He is the Supreme Lord and controller.

Vṛndāvana is the abode of rādhā-dāsya, service to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Without rādhā-dāsya, it is impossible to be free of anything. How pure and exalted is Śrīmatī Rādhārānī! Mahāprabhu came to distribute and teach Her glories. Therefore, Mahāprabhu started this Gauḍīya movement. In other sampradāyas, cleansing of the heart happens after a long time and love does not come easily. But Mahaprabhu’s unique blessing is that he distributes freely the easy process of achieving purification and love. It is so rare and cannot be found anywhere else. In Vraja, all Vrajavāsīs follow Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and thus all their hearts are soft, sweet, and clean.

Excerpted from the Bhakta Bandhav Publication “Śrī Prema-bhakti-candrikā”,
Chapter 2, Text 2
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]

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...Śrī Viṣṇupriyā Devī revealed the transcendental form of Mahāprabhu through the Gītā and the Bhāgavatam, which is nondifferent from the Lord. She discussed these truths with Śacī Mātā, Śrī Mālinī Devī, Vasudhā Devī, Śrī Nārāyaṇī, Jāhnavā Ṭhākurānī, and Sītā Ṭhākurānī, and helped console them in their separation from their Lords. Śrī Viṣṇupriyā Devī thus served and spread the transcendental teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu...

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