Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Deliberation on Śuddha-bhakti

Deliberation on Śuddha-bhakti

We have already mentioned that according to the scriptures, bhakti is the only means of attaining Bhagavān. Only bhakti can cause the jīvas to have the vision of Bhagavān and bring them into His presence. Only bhakti can control Bhagavān, the Supreme Person. We shall now deliberate upon the intrinsic nature of bhakti.

In determining the definition of bhakti, Maharṣi Śāṇḍilya has stated: “sā parānuraktir īśvare – transcendental attachment to Īśvara is devotional service” (Śāṇḍilya-sūtra 1.2). Śrī Nārada-pañcarātra (quoted in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.12) states: “sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam / hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate – Bhakti is service rendered by the transcendental senses to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the transcendental senses. Such bhakti, in which all endeavours are undertaken for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa, is free from obstructions arising from the nature of the body and mind. It is also pure; it is not covered by the creepers of karma, reward-seeking activity, or jñāna, knowledge in pursuit of impersonal liberation.”

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.29.11–12) defines bhakti thus:

mad-guṇa-śruti-mātreṇa
mayi sarva-guhāśaye
mano-gatir avicchinnā
yathā gaṅgāmbhaso ’mbudhau
lakṣaṇaṁ bhakti-yogasya
nirguṇasya hyudāhṛtam
ahaituky avyavahitā
yā bhaktiḥ puruṣottame

I am the Supreme Enjoyer, the Lord who dwells within the hearts of all. When there is unmotivated and unimpeded natural affection for Me, and when simply upon hearing My qualities, the mind flows towards Me, like an unbroken stream of oil, just as the Gaṅgā flows without interruption towards the ocean. It is called nirguṇa bhakti-yoga, transcendental devotional service.

Although such definitions of bhakti have been given in the scriptures, Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s dear associate Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has combined all previous definitions of bhakti, and has given in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.11) a beautiful, new definition, which is the life and treasured aspiration of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas:

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ
jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ
bhaktir uttamā

Uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service, is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. It is the uninterrupted flow of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, performed through all endeavours of body, mind and speech, as well as through expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhāvas). It is not covered by jñāna (speculative knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation), karma (reward-seeking activity), yoga or austerities; and it is completely free from all desires other than for Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s happiness.

In this verse, both the intrinsic (svarūpa) and marginal (taṭasthā) characteristics of bhakti have been lucidly presented. The purport of the words uttama-bhakti is pure bhakti. Karma-miśra-bhakti and jñāna-miśra-bhakti are not pure. The goal of karma-miśra-bhakti is material enjoyment, and the goal of jñāna-miśra-bhakti is liberation. Only bhakti that is devoid of the desires for material enjoyment and liberation is called uttama-bhakti – this is the means to attain prema for Bhagavān.

What is this bhakti? We shall describe its intrinsic characteristic (svarūpa-lakṣaṇa) and its marginal characteristics (taṭasthā-lakṣaṇa). Its intrinsic characteristic is the full endeavour, by body, mind and speech, and the cultivation of loving sentiments (bhāva) for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa. Endeavours and bhāvas – these two remain ever-active to bring Kṛṣṇa delight. The svarūpa-lakṣaṇa, or intrinsic nature, of bhakti arises when the special function of Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti (the function of the essence of hlādinī and saṁvit) appears in the svarūpa of the jīva by the mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa or His devotee.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described the two marginal characteristics, or taṭasthā-lakṣaṇas, of bhakti. The first is that bhakti is completely devoid of all desires other than to serve Kṛṣṇa. All types of aspirations other than to advance one’s devotion are opposed to bhakti, and they are included within anyabhilāṣitā. The second marginal characteristic is that it is not covered by jñāna, karma and so on. Knowledge of the oneness of jīva and brahma, the smārta’s daily and occasional performances of prescribed duties for the sake of material self-interest, activities filled with indifference to Bhagavān such as atonement (prāyāścitta), knowledge of atheistic sāṅkhya philosophy, dry renunciation and so on – these are all opposed to bhakti. Only when the cultivation of activities for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa is free from these two types of unfavourable marginal characteristics is it called śuddha-bhakti.

Sādhana-bhakti is the practice of śuddha-bhakti, which is performed under the guidance of śuddha-bhaktas, after one has received initiation and instructions from a bona fide spiritual master. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.17, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described the six special characteristics of bhakti:

kleśaghnī śubhadā mokṣa-
laghutākṛt sudurlabhā
sāndrānanda-viśeṣātmā
śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī ca sā

Śuddha-bhakti has six characteristics: (1) kleśaghnī – it destroys all types of distress, (2) śubhadā – it bestows complete auspiciousness, (3) mokṣa-laghutākṛtā – it makes the attainment of liberation insignificant, (4) sudurlabhā – it is extremely rare, (5) sāndrānanda-viśeṣātmā – it is the embodiment of condensed bliss, and (6) śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī – it attracts Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

In the very beginning of sādhana-bhakti, the first two symptoms, kleśaghnī and śubhadā, become visible. Mokṣa-laghutākṛtā and sudurlabhā are then manifest in the stage of bhāva, and in the stage of ultimate attainment, or sādhya (prema), sāndrānanda-viśeṣātmā and śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī are observed in addition to the previously mentioned four symptoms.

Sin, the desire to sin, the seed of sin, pious activity, the desire to perform pious activity and the seed of pious activity – the destruction of all these afflictions (kleśas) is the first symptom of bhakti. The second symptom of bhakti, called śubhadā, includes the following four qualities: bhakti makes one pleasing to all, affectionate towards all living entities and the abode of all good qualities, and it also bestows pure happiness. These first two symptoms are observed at the time of sādhana-bhakti.

The third characteristic is that bhakti renders even the attainment of liberation insignificant or worthless. The quality of sudurlabhā, being extremely rarely attained, is the fourth characteristic of pure bhakti. Although one may be detached from sense gratification and may have practised the limbs of bhakti for a long time, still one may not attain it. These two characteristics are the symptoms of bhāva-bhakti.

The fifth characteristic is that bhakti is the embodiment of condensed blissfulness, and the sixth is that it attracts Śrī Kṛṣṇa. These last two features are the symptoms of the ultimate goal of life (sādhya), or prema-bhakti. The first four symptoms are also observed in the stage of perfection (sādhya-bhakti ). The first stage of sādhya-bhakti is called bhāva-bhakti and its highest stage is called prema.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has defined sādhana-bhakti thus:

kṛti-sādhyā bhavet sādhya-
bhāvā sā sādhanābhidhā
nitya-siddhasya bhāvasya
prākaṭyaṁ hṛdi sādhyatā
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.2)

Sādhana-bhakti is the engagement of the mind and senses in the limbs of bhakti for the purpose of attaining bhāva-bhakti. This bhāva is a potentiality which eternally exists in the heart of the jīva and is manifested in the heart purified by sādhana.

This sādhana-bhakti is of two types, vaidhī and rāgānuga. In vaidhī-bhakti, śravaṇa, kīrtana and the limbs of bhakti are not undertaken out of a natural affection and inclination; rather they are performed solely out of fear of scriptural rules. The duties the śāstras prescribe for the jīva are called vidhi, and the prohibitions are called niṣeda. To comply with these is to follow the discipline of the scriptures. When the jīva’s engagement in bhakti is out of fear of this scriptural discipline it is called vaidhī-bhakti:

yatra rāgānavāptatvāt
pravṛttir upajāyate
śāsanenaiva śāstrasya sā
vaidhī-bhaktir ucyate
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.6)

That bhakti in which the cause of engagement is not greed (lobha), but rather the command of scriptures, is called vaidhī-bhakti.

There are many limbs of sādhana-bhakti, but in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu sixty-four limbs have been described in particular, beginning with accepting the shelter of a spiritual master (guru-padāśraya), accepting initiation and instructions from one’s spiritual master (dīkṣā-śikṣā), serving one’s spiritual master (guru-sevā), and so on. Those sixty-four limbs are naturally included within the nine prominent practices mentioned in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.5.23). These nine limbs are known as navadhā-bhakti:

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁsakhyam ātma-nivedanam

Some attain perfection even by practising just one limb from among these nine. Some also practise many at once. In fact, the chief result of all the practices of sādhana-bhakti is one – rati for the transcendental Reality.

The second type of sādhana-bhakti is rāgānuga-bhakti. This is the method of bhakti performed by sādhakas who practise the limbs of bhakti such as śravaṇa and kīrtana out of greed to attain the service of their worshipful deity, Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Rāga is the quality of natural, excessive absorption in the object of one’s devotion and attachment to it. Kṛṣṇa-bhakti endowed with such rāga is called rāgātmika-bhakti, and that bhakti which follows in the wake of such rāgātmika-bhakti is called rāgānuga-bhakti.

In conclusion, vaidhī-bhakti is subordinate to the regulative principles and disciplines of the scriptures, and rāgānuga-bhakti follows in the wake of rāgātmika-bhakti. Neither of these two are sādhya-bhakti; they are both sādhana-bhakti. Only rāgātmika-bhakti, the devotion of the eternal residents of Vraja, Mathurā and Dvārakā, is sādhya-bhakti. When one reads or hears about their devotion, and greed, or lobha, arises in the heart to attain it, one becomes an eligible candidate for rāgānuga-sādhana-bhakti. Eligibility for vaidhī-bhakti comes from faith in the scriptures; eligibility for rāgānuga-bhakti is attained by greed for the loving sentiments of the rāgātmika devotees.

tat-tad-bhāvādi-mādhurye
śrute dhīryadapekṣate
nātra śāstraṁ na yuktiñca
tal lobhotpatti-lakṣaṇam
kṛṣṇaṁ smaran janaṁ cāsya
preṣṭhaṁ nija-samīhitam
tat-tat-kathā-rataś cāsau
kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā
sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa
siddha-rupeṇa cātra hi
tad-bhāva-lipsunā kāryā
vraja-lokānusārataḥ
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.291, 293, 294)

The cause of rāgānuga-bhakti is greed (lobha) for the sentiments of the rāgātmika devotees. This greed is not aroused by the arguments of the scriptures. Rather, pure greed is the aspiration to become immersed in the moods of the rāgātmika devotees, and it arises on hearing about the sweetness of their feelings for Kṛṣṇa. Those who have developed a greed to attain the moods of Kṛṣṇa’s intimate associates of their own choice will always reside in Vraja in their sādhaka forms, their present bodies, and with their siddha forms, their internally conceived, perfected bodies, they will render service following Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s most dear Vraja associates and those who are under their guidance. Thus they will hear, chant and remember the narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. This is the method of practice, or sādhana-praṇālī, for rāgānuga-bhakti in connection with Vraja.

Rāgānuga-bhakti is of two types, namely kāmānuga and sambandhānuga. Kāmānuga is also of two types: sambhoga-icchāmayī and tat-tad-bhāva-icchamayī. Sambhoga-icchāmayī-bhakti means the desire to engage in amorous meeting with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Tat-tad-bhāva-icchāmayī-bhakti is the longing to experience the sweetness of the moods of the Vraja gopīs.

At this point we must understand that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has bestowed upon the jīvas of this world instructions that awaken the desire to follow rāgānuga-bhakti. Only bhajana through rāga-mārga is approved by Him. If, by extreme good fortune, the jīvas attain the association of the dear associates of Śrī Gaurasundara, then greed for the mood of the residents of Vraja must certainly be evoked. However, the sādhaka should take shelter of vaidhī-bhakti until such association is available. One will certainly enter rāga-mārga by taking shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

The duty of those very fortunate sādhakas who have attained greed for the moods of the residents of Vraja is to practise rāgānuga-bhakti. When such greed is evoked, there no longer remains any taste for subjects other than Bhagavān. One is released from sin, pious activity, karma, akarma, vikarma, dry knowledge and renunciation; and ruci, or taste, in the practice of bhakti arises. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has written in relation to the gradual development of bhakti:

ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-
saṅgo ’tha bhajana-kriyā
tato ’nartha-nivṛttiḥ syāt
tato niṣṭhā rucis tataḥ
athāsaktis tato bhāvas
tataḥ premābhyudañcati
sādhakānām ayaṁ premṇaḥ
prādurbhāve bhavet kramaḥ
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.4.15–16)

This verse describes advancement on vaidhī-mārga, in which there is first faith (śraddhā), then the association of sādhus and then the eradication of unwanted desires (anarthas), through engagement in bhajana. Immediately after that comes niṣṭhā, ruci, āsakti and bhāva. In this process, bhāva remains the sādhya, the final goal, for a very long time.

With the appearance of transcendental greed, however, unwanted desires (anarthas) are vanquished very easily, because of a lack of greed for other subjects; bhāva also arises simultaneously along with this greed. In rāga-mārga, it is only necessary to drive away pretentiousness and duplicity. If these are not driven far away, then the mind will become highly agitated and anarthas will grow. In such a condition, debased attachment will be mistaken for pure rāga. In the end, the association of sense objects becomes very strong, and that attachment becomes the cause of the jīva’s downfall.

The sādhakas who are under the shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu take shelter of rāgānuga-bhakti through pure spiritual greed. After taking shelter of the lotus feet of a sad-guru in vaidhī-bhakti, such sādhakas serve the deity. Then, associating with Vaiṣṇavas, showing respect to bhakti literature, residing in the places of the Lord’s pastimes and continually chanting Śrī Bhagavān’s names, they render service to Kṛṣṇa within their minds by the path of bhāva. They completely follow the moods of the residents of Vraja with their siddha-deha. Among them, sādhakas who are extremely fortunate, who have remained in the association of sādhus, and who have taken shelter of harināma, which is the best of the limbs of bhakti, are appointed to the service of Bhagavān.

When taking shelter of harināma, there is no consideration of regulations such as taking formal initiation (dīkṣā) and preliminary purifying activities (puraścaryā). They avoid chanting a mere semblance of the holy name (nāmābhāsa) and chanting with offences (nāmāparādha), and gradually they come to the point of continuous chanting. While chanting incessantly and meditating on the merciful glance of the deity, they constantly meditate on the holy name and the deity’s beautiful form. Gradually they begin to review the aggregate of the qualities of the deity, His form and name all at once. Immediately thereafter they begin to reflect on all of these, as well as the pastimes in accordance with their own eternal identities (svarūpa). Gradually rasa also appears – this is the ultimate attainment. One special point worthy of attention is that the appearance of rasa occurs within a very short time if from the very beginning of the cultivation of nāma the sādhaka anxiously longs for rasa to appear.

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WHAT TO MEDITATE ON WHEN CHANTING HARE KRSNA MANTRA?

We first chant: Hare Kṛṣṇa. When chanting the first pair of holy names in the mahāmantra, the sādhaka should remember the essence of the first verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, beginning with Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam. We then pray, “O Hare! Please purify my contaminated mind and heart. Remove my sinful tendencies and prārabdha-aprārabdha-karma and bring me to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. O Kṛṣṇa! Kindly bring me into the guidance of Your associates. May this perpetual forest fire of material life cease at once.“Mercifully offer me into the shelter of Lalitā-devī. If she accepts me into her group, then surely Viśākhā-devī will think about my śreyaḥ, highest good, and will instruct me. Citrā-devī, the presiding deity of parā-vidyā, will bestow upon me all transcendental knowledge. I will then understand how to serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and will accept Them as my life and soul. Campakalatā-sakhī will happily teach me how to increase the bliss, ānanda, of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Tuṅgavidyā-sakhī will protect and look after me at every step, prati-padaṁ, and will show me how to engage at every moment in assisting the amorous pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the groves of Vraja—nikuñja-yūno rati-keli-siddhyai. Then, by the instruction of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Indulekhā, Raṅgadevī, and Sudevī will submerge me in ānanda-rasa and engage me in service. The aṣṭa-sakhīs in this way will teach me how to serve and offer myself to the lotus feet of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa will then accept me and prema-nāma-saṅkīrtana will manifest in my heart.” The sādhaka prays, “O Hare, Srimatījī, please engage me in Your service and give me the qualification to perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana.”The second verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis, corresponds to the second Hare Kṛṣṇa set in the mahāmantra. During this time of the day, in the morning after His breakfast, Kṛṣṇa goes with the sakhās and calves to the forest on go-cāraṇa. Go means the cows and also the senses. Kṛṣṇa engages the senses of that person who is absorbed in nāma-seva. He takes them out of the forest fire of material existence and brings them into the forest of Vraja. Kṛṣṇa bestows spiritual potency to the nāma-premī-jīvas and gives them acquaintance with and affection for His eternal associates. The sādhaka prays, “O Hare! Please empower me so that I can properly serve the dear associates of Kṛṣṇa with mamatā. O Kṛṣṇa! May I always improve in my services; may I become more and more enthusiastic to serve with all my senses, body, mind, and soul.”While remembering the third verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, tṛṇād-api sunīcena, we chant “Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa” and pray, “O Lord, please make me humbler than a blade of grass. May I never leave Vraja and the service of the Vrajavāsīs, harināma, and Your beloved Srimatījī. May I never be haunted by the desire for opulence or eagerness to go to Vaikuṇṭha or any other place than Vraja. May I give up all anyābhilāṣa and simply take shelter of the gopīs. Then I can achieve Your nitya-sevā. O Kṛṣṇa, please let me continually serve You. Help me to remain humble and without any possession other than attachment to the service of Your lotus feet and the association of Your dearest devotees. I pray to You that I give up all independence and false pride, which has resulted in my current fallen condition in material existence. May I develop compassion and freedom from desire for regard from others and may I honor all others according to their position. Only then will I be able to perform Your kīrtana.”As we chant the fourth pair of names ‘Hare Hare’ we remember the fourth verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam: na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīm, and pray to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, “O Hare! O dearmost beloved of Kṛṣṇa who steals His mind and heart, please let my mind and heart always serve You in the company of Your maidservants. Please don’t deprive me of Your service. Since countless lives I have accepted the gifts of māyā and, considering them to be my own, I have struggled to enjoy separately from Kṛṣṇa. Now may I give this up entirely. O Hare! May I receive the mercy of Your mañjarīs. Let them grant me entrance into kuñja-sevā.”We then chant, ‘Hare Rāma’ and, remembering the fifth verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ, pray, “O Rādhikā-Ramaṇa-Rāma, You play in the hearts of Your beloveds and dwell within all living entities. O Rādhe! May Your sweet pastimes with Kṛṣṇa appear one after the other in my heart. I have fallen in the dark well of material life. May I become free of this bondage and never again be conquered by the agents of māyā. Without Your help I cannot escape this fearsome saṁsāra. O Rādhe! Please give me adhikāra and taste for serving in Your amorous pastimes with Kṛṣṇa.”As we chant the next pair of names in the mahāmantra, ‘Hare Rāma,’ we remember the sixth verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, nayanaṁ-galad-aśru-dhārayā, and we pray, while weeping, “O Lord, You are my life and soul. I forgot You and have committed so many offenses. Please forgive me and mercifully allow me to enter Your rāsa-līlā. May I become completely absorbed in chanting Your names. At that time, I will take shelter of Your līlā-śakti and serve, imbued with rasa that is otherwise unattainable without Your mercy. I am unqualified, a great sinner, and offender. I have left You and given You so much pain. I have misused the wealth of my love and shared it with so many jīvas. Now I pray that I can offer everything, all my love, to You. Please give me a drop of spiritual emotion and thus save my life. Please play and dance in my heart. Kindly grant me entrance into vraja-rasa.”Next comes ‘Rāma Rāma’, and we now remember the seventh verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa cakṣuṣā pravṛṣāyitam: after countless lives apart from Kṛṣṇa, if we make relationship with Him once, then we become overwhelmed in divine love and at every moment desire to serve Him and see Him. If we are apart from Him for even a few moments, it seems like the greatest agony. The world appears void. Our condition becomes like the gopīs’ when Kṛṣṇa left the Rāsa dance. After one’s first time meeting with Kṛṣṇa, when there is separation, the pain of that is unsurpassed. One prays, “O Kṛṣṇa, O Rādhā-Ramaṇa, Rasika-mohana, Rāsa-rasika, Vrajendra-nandana, please accept me. Don’t forsake me. I am unqualified. I have nothing of worth. Just please give me Your darśana one more time.”While chanting the final pair of names in the mahāmantra, ‘Hare Hare’ we remember the eighth and last verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, and pray, “O Hare, O Rādhe! You may do as You like with me. I completely surrender to You. Beat me or reject me—as You wish. I am so wretched. Kṛṣṇa may scorn me in front of His beloveds, He may kick or forsake me, but I will never take shelter of any other. O Rādhe! O Kṛṣṇa! I am Yours. I am Yours. I am Yours.” Praying like this, one chants harināma with deep absorption.This description of the moods when praying and chanting the mahāmantra in relation to Śikṣāṣṭakam is only a glimpse—a distant darśana, like śākhā-candra-nyāya, the logic of pointing out the moon on the branch. By strong spiritual practice we will experience these moods and fully appreciate them. We pray to Mahāprabhu because without His mercy we will not be able to chant the mahāmantra purely with these moods. We pray to Nāma Prabhu that He manifests His eightfold daily pastimes in our hearts. Then we will understand the deep meanings of the mahāmantra in connection with aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā and will become qualified to enter kṛṣṇa-līlā. Chanting of this mahāmantra, which is composed of 16 names, or eight pairs of names, is the only method to enter Vraja. Chanting the mahāmantra qua lifies one to attain vraja-rasa and vraja-vāsa, the nectar of Vraja and residence in Vraja.We therefore pray, “Hare Kṛṣṇa! Please give me Your mercy. Please offer me to the lotus feet of a sad-guru. By his mercy my contaminated mind will be purified and I will always stay in sādhu-saṅga. Thus my anarthas will gradually be washed away, and as I follow the process of bhajana I will gradually attain the stages of niṣṭhā, ruci, āsakti, bhāva, and prema. Then truly I will understand paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṇkīrtanam—the extraordinary nature and potency of the holy names.”By chanting these names, the anurāgī-bhaktas will give us shelter and help us realize how nāma is cintāmaṇi, transcendentally wish-fulfilling, rasa-vigraha, the embodiment of nectar, pūrṇaḥ śuddho, spotlessly pure, and non-different from Kṛṣṇa Himself. When we remember these names and chant them with absorption, then Kṛṣṇa’s rasa-svarūpa will manifest in our hearts along with His līlā-rasa.All Vedic scriptures and saints have described the glories and specialty of Śrī Nāma. Śrī Tulasī Dāsa said:nāma le to bhava sindhu sukaivicār karo to sujana manomahiA supremely fortunate person comes into the association of a pure guru who grants him kṛṣṇa-nāma. Śrī Nāma appears in this world through five eternal principles, or the pañca-tattva, and with six types of śakti. Of His unlimited potencies, the Lord manifests specifically in six forms for the benefit of the fallen jīvas. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Adi-līlā 1.32, states:kṛṣṇa, guru, bhakta, śakti, avatāra, prakāśakṛṣṇa ei chaya-rūpe karena vilāsaŚrī Kṛṣṇa manifests and performs pastimes as the different gurus, the bhaktas, His incarnations, plenary portions, and divine potencies.For one who takes shelter of the harināma-mahāmantra, Mahāprabhu gives darśana of His eternal svarūpa and the qualification to serve Him in His own dhāma. This harināma-kīrtana is the supreme dharma of this age.Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 7.11, states:kali-kālera dharma kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtanakṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartanaOne cannot spread the holy name of Kṛṣṇa without being specifically empowered by Kṛṣṇa’s Divine Potency.Without Kṛṣṇa’s śakti we cannot purely chant or spread the glories of the holy names. We thus pray to svarūpa-śakti Śrīmatī Rādhikā for Her mercy. Only then will we receive the potency to easily perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana. We pray to Her, “I am Yours, whether You give me mercy or neglect me, keep me close or send me far away. Whatever You do, I am Yours and will never give up my aspiration to serve You and remain in Your shelter.”In this way, we should pray to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the Vraja-devīs with a burning desire to achieve their service. We should also pray to Nāma Prabhu. The harināma-mahāmantra composed of 32 syllables, 16 names, and eight pairs is the one and only sweet process to become connected to eternal Vraja and kṛṣṇa-līlā. By following this rasa-upāsana we can become connected to the transcendental realm and līlā-rasa. We will thus become free of the attraction to jaḍa-rasa, material tastes. For countless lives we have been bewildered and attached to material life. By continuously chanting harināma, the soul is nourished and freed of material coverings. One then becomes established in his spiritual form and achieves the opportunity to directly serve Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Their associates. Guru-pāda-padma and our Guru-varga give us this process.Herein we have only given an indication of the process of chanting and the connection between the mahāmantra and Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam. By deeply practicing bhajana, we will experience the transcendental reality directly. (click on title to see more)

No One's Master – Bhagavad Gita

If anyone accepts the side of adharma, they should not be respected or revered. This is a big test. On one side, there are so-called respected personalities, but they are against dharma, and on the other side there are the true followers of dharma. On one side, there are the senses, body and mind; they give many instructions telling one to serve and worship them. One cannot tolerate neglecting their desires. If he tries, he becomes angry having not fulfilled the lusty desires of the senses and mind. When hungry or lusty one cannot tolerate it. Meanwhile, everyone is standing by ready to enjoy and calling, "Come and enjoy with me." Everywhere he looks, there are objects waiting to be enjoyed, sumptuous dishes and enchanting women. What can one do? If the sādhaka goes to the side of māyā leaving dharma, then he will be lost. This is a very dangerous position. Māyā prepares everything and places it in front of us as gifts and tests, “What is your choice...?”

Set Fire to the House

She called an attractive widow, paid her some money, and told her, “Go to the assembly where Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa is speaking. After he completes his lecture, begin to loudly wail. Get the attention of my husband. When he asks you what is wrong, tell him, ‘This bābājī has very bad character, and has assaulted me.’ If you can convince the people, and especially my husband, that the bābājī abused you, then I will handsomely reward you...”

No Room for Hypocrisy – London 03 June 1996

What is hypocrisy? We say that we are devotees, but still we take so much nice tasty mahā-prasāda. Caitanya Mahāprabhu used to give all tasty sweets and tasty mahā-prasāda to the devotees, but He didn’t take Himself. He only used to take boiled spinach with or without salt. Rūpa Gosvāmī used to take a little spinach without salt and nothing else...

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