Hari-katha Articles Bhakti and the Devotional Actor

Bhakti and the Devotional Actor

Krsna-bhakti-rasa is in the Bhakta’s heart. Even though Bhagavan has the capacity to do anything, still, because He is controlled by the love of the devotees, He does not act independently of them. When even Bhagavan does not act independently of His bhaktas or try to control them, why do people come to Guru and Vaisnavas and try to make them their subordinates? Those who try to control Guru and Vaisnavas may look like bhaktas, but really they are cheaters and hypocrites. They are not following either Vaidhi-bhakti or Raganuga-bhakti.

When you take shelter of Guru and Vaisnavas, you surrender and pray for their mercy. If you are independent and trying to control them, you will be bound to make offenses—to the dhama, to bhakti, to the bhaktas. And you will become overwhelmed by distress and delusion. On the other hand, when you humbly surrender, faith will develop in bhakti, the dhama, maha-prasada, and the Vaisnavas. You will realize that they are transcendental and in due course, their true forms and nature will be revealed to you. You will become established in atma-dharma, the true nature of the self, by their mercy.

How will the creeper of devotion reach Bhagavan’s lotus feet? Only by staying in Vraja you will not get vraja-rasa. By externally being in sadhu-sanga, you are not truly associating with the sadhus. By taking maha-prasada, you are not really getting maha-prasada. Maha-prasada is far away from you. Why? By eating poison, poison acts, even if you don’t have faith in it or the knowledge that it is poison. Is it the same with nirguna-prasada? Those who are tamasika or rajasika are always acting for the gratification of their senses. Unless they respect and surrender to the dhama, to Vaisnavas, or to maha-prasada, they will not receive the real fruit of their good fortune. While still bound in material desires, they consider themselves the equals or superiors of Vaisnavas and try to control them. Therefore, instead of residing in the dhama (holy abode), they are in the grama (maya’s abode), where they are only collecting things for their sense gratification. Because they are not properly motivated and situated, the benefit of prasada, sadhu-sanga, and the external bhakti activities they perform is misdirected and goes in vain. Instead of nourishing the creeper of devotion, helping it grow towards Bhagavan, the nectar of the navadha-bhakti performed waters the weeds that choke the devotional creeper.

In the same way as many fish live in the Ganga and Yamuna, many people make their homes in the dhama. And there they enjoy with their families. They claim they are exalted souls doing bhajana, but in reality are mostly just engaged in sense enjoyment. They do not get the fruit of bhakti, just like the fish do not get the benefit of living in the Ganga or Yamuna, because of their lack of spiritual connection to Ganga and Yamuna. Because they are always following their material senses, they cannot enter atma-dharma, the reality and dharma of the soul. By the causeless mercy of a Vaisnava, their samskaras and nature may change. If they become aware of their duplicitousness and endeavor to truly come under guidance, at that time, they will start receiving the real benefit of taking maha-prasada, staying in the dhama, chanting harinama, and the company of sadhus. In this way, their bondage to maya will gradually be severed. The covering of illusion will lift.

Only by the bhakta’s mercy can you see the bhakta, only by nama’s mercy can you chant nama, and only by maha-prasada’s mercy can you take maha-prasada. On the surface, bhakti appears easy. But it is not so simple. Why? One thing is done by the senses, for the purpose of maintaining the body and senses, and one is done for Krsna. That bhakta is therefore not accepted as a bhakta who acts for his sense indulgence. Such a person will not accept maha-prasada that is not pleasing to him, and will not have faith in the dhama if it is not favorable to his senses. While externally in sadhu-sanga in the dhama, the hypocrite or cheater of his own self, will in time become involved in materialistic activities. And soon, leaving the dhama, leaving sadhu-sanga, he will again enter samsara and destroy himself. Overwhelmed by anyabhilasa, desires unfavorable to bhakti, he will give up all devotional activities.

We must realize this danger is there for all practicing sadhakas. To protect yourself from this calamity, you should always stay as a humble servant in sva-jatiya-asraya-snigdha-sadhu-sanga—association that is more advanced than you, that has the same cherished mood, and is supportive. Such Vaisnavas may chastise you for your own benefit. Danger is also there that you may give up your Vaisnava guardian, who is like a mother, when they are trying to help you advance, and instead go to someone who makes you feel good, but does not have your best interest at heart. Others may show many symptoms of devotion, but this is easy to fake for the devotional actor.

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