~ ruci-bhajana ~
second prahara until three-and-a-half praharas
(approximately 11:00 a.m. — 3:30 p.m.)
A nāma-sādhaka has no desire other than unadulterated devotional service to Kṛṣṇa (ahaitukī-kṛṣṇa-bhakti). The fourth verse of Śikṣāṣṭaka states:
na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ
kavitāṁ vā jagadīśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi
O Jagadīśa, I do not desire wealth, nor followers, nor do I desire beautiful poetry (here meaning “knowledge”). O Prāṇeśvara, my only desire is to have unalloyed devotion unto Your lotus feet birth after birth.
strī-putra dāsa-dāsī kuṭumbādi jana
kāvya-alaṅkāra-ādi sundarī kavitā
pārthiva-viṣaya madhye e saba vāratā
ei saba pāivāra āśā nāhi kari
śuddha-bhakti deha more, kṛṣṇa kṛpā kari’
premera svabhāva, yāhā premera sambandha
sei māne kṛṣṇa mora nāhi bhakti-gandha
Bhakti only appears in the heart when one performs harināma-kīrtana with firm faith (śraddhā). But the sādhaka’s perfected body (śuddha-svarūpa) will not arise unless he gives up all connection with sensual happiness in this material world. This renunciation of sensual happiness takes place in two ways: positive (anvaya) and negative (vyatireka). Here anvaya refers to the prominent characteristic of devotion, which is the cultivation of activities favourable to Kṛṣṇa (ānukūlya-maya-kṛṣṇānuśīlana). Vyatireka refers to the two secondary characteristics of devotion, which are: (1) the absence of desire for anything other than the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya) and (2) the absence of the coverings of karma and jñāna (jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛta).
The words na dhanaṁ na janam in this Text clearly explain the symptoms of vyatireka. The word dhana refers to wealth and articles collected for enjoyment and entertainment, and jana indicates women, children, servants, maidservants, subjects, friends and relatives. Sundarī-kavitā means ordinary knowledge expressed in mundane poetry and literature.
“O Kṛṣṇa, Lord of my life, I am not praying to You for all these things. My only prayer is that I may have unalloyed devotion unto Your lotus feet birth after birth.”
Misusing material wealth and so forth is opposed to bhakti. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.9.6) states:
tāvad bhayaṁ draviṇa-deha-suhṛn-nimittaṁ
śokaḥ spṛhā paribhavo vipulaś ca lobhaḥ
tāvan mamety asad-avagraha ārti-mūlaṁ
yāvan na te ’ṅghrim abhayaṁ pravṛṇīta lokaḥ
As long as a person does not take shelter of Your lotus feet, which remove all kinds of fear, he will be tormented by anxiety, sorrow, hankering, wretchedness, extreme greed and so forth caused by wealth, home, friends and relatives. He will maintain the misconception of “I” and “mine”, which is the sole cause of unhappiness.
dravya-deha-suhṛn-nimitta śoka bhaya
spṛhā parābhava āra lobha atiśaya
āmi mama ārti-mūla asat-āśaya
yata dina nahe tava pāda-padmāśraya
Persons who have never heard hari-kathā are not inclined to serve Hari. They use their time, wealth and strength in mundane activities and they maintain the misconception that “I am the enjoyer”. They will suffer due to their inclination to enjoy. In other words, although they are in distress, they still endeavour to obtain that which is unrelated to Kṛṣṇa. The sole cause of this is illusion. Forgetting that Kṛṣṇa is their only near and dear friend, they establish friendship with persons averse to Kṛṣṇa and remain fearful of the devotees. It is only by the merciful disposition of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas that the living entity can be delivered from these sufferings and the desire to serve Bhagavān can arise in his heart. In other words the inclination to serve Bhagavān (bhagavat-sevā-vṛtti) will manifest in his heart. The living entity then realises his own intrinsic nature, as well as the instrinsic natures of Bhagavān and the illusory energy, and engages all his senses in serving Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings in Śaraṇāgati (Ātma-nivedana, song 8):
ātma nivedana, tuyā pade kari,
hainu parama sukhī
duḥkha dūre gela, cintā nā rahila,
caudike ānanda dekhī
By surrendering myself to Your lotus feet I have become supremely happy. All suffering has gone far away and I have no more worries. Now I see happiness in all directions.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the supreme Lord of all lords, and by worshipping Him, all others are worshipped. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.31.14) states:
yathā taror mūla-niṣecanena
prāṇopahārāc ca yathendriyāṇāṁ
tathaiva sarvārhaṇam acyutejyā
By watering the root of a tree, all its parts, such as the trunk, branches and sub-branches, are nourished, and by satisfying the life-airs through eating, all of the senses are nourished. Similarly, only by worshipping Śrī Kṛṣṇa are the demigods, forefathers and so forth worshipped.
taru-mūle dile jala, bhuja-śākhā-skandha
tṛpta haya anāyāse, sahaja nirbandha
prāṇera tarpaṇe yathā indriya sabala
kṛṣṇārcane tathā sarva-devatā śītala
By watering the root of a tree, all of its parts, such as the trunk, branches, leaves and fruits, obtain nourishment. By putting food in the stomach all the different bodily limbs are satisfied and nourished. Similarly, by performing exclusive worship of Acyuta, all the demigods and goddesses are also worshipped. This is because Acyuta is the root cause of all consciousness, and all conscious and unconscious matter is dependent on Him. Svayam Bhagavān is the only one who is infallible (acyuta), and He can never become fallible (cyuta). Here someone may ask, “What harm is there in worshipping both Bhagavān and the demigods and goddesses at the same time?” The answer is that such worship signifies a lack of firm faith in Bhagavān. The demigods and goddesses are ruled by material qualities, while the process of serving Bhagavān is transcendental. It is improper to disrespect the demigods and goddesses, but it is also incorrect to elevate them to the same level as Kṛṣṇa. The scriptures state that one who gives up śrī-kṛṣṇa-bhajana to worship the demigods and goddesses is like one who gives up his mother to worship an outcaste woman, or like one who gives up nectar to drink poison.
Unalloyed devotees have no other duty than serving Kṛṣṇa. The Padma Purāṇa states:
harir eva sadārādhyaḥ
The Lord of all demigods, Śrī Hari, is always the only worshipful object, but it is improper to disrespect Brahmā, Rudra and other demigods.
ādau sarveśvara-jñāna kṛṣṇete haibe
anya deve kabhu nāhi avajñā karibe
One should not increase the number of his unqualified disciples on the pretext of spreading bhakti. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.13.8) states:
na śiṣyān anubadhnīta
granthān naivābhyased bahūn
na vyākhyām upayuñjīta
nārambhān ārabhet kvacit
One should not make many disciples for material gain, nor study many books, nor give discourses on śāstra to earn one’s livelihood. One should also give up large undertakings.
bahu-śiṣya-lobhete ayogya śiṣya kare
bhakti-śūnya śāstrābhyāse tarka kari’ mare
vyākhyāvāda-bahvārambhe vṛthā kāla yāya
nāme yāra ruci sei e saba nā cāya
While explaining the duty of a sannyāsī, Devarṣi Nārada said to Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja, “A sannyāsī should roam about, be devoted to Nārāyaṇa and be the well-wisher of all living entities. He should not engage in any occupation to maintain his life, nor should he engage in discussions only for the sake of debate. He should only accept objects that come through begging (bhikṣā). He should not be attached to literature that discusses temporary, material subject matters, nor should he, for material benefit, give mantras to unqualified persons to increase his number of disciples. He should not show his scholarly talent, but rather he should study literature on bhakti and put these teachings into practice. It is unfavourable to pure devotion, and also a waste of time, to establish and maintain large temples to make a show of opulence. Many kinds of unqualified persons will take shelter of such temples, and their devious activities will defame the society of sādhus. Saintly persons should perform bhajana under the guidance of their superiors, following the path designated by the disciplic succession (paramparā). Only a sādhaka on the platform of bhāva is qualified to make disciples, and he does so only for the welfare of society and the protection of the sampradāya. The scriptures forbid unqualified persons from making many disciples.”
Exclusive and unmotivated devotional service, known as aikāntikī-ahaitukī-bhakti, is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.14):
tasmād ekena manasā
bhagavān sātvatāṁ patiḥ
śrotavyaḥ kīrtitavyaś ca
dhyeyaḥ pūjyaś ca nityadā
With an attentive mind, one should constantly hear about, glorify, meditate upon and worship Bhagavān, who is loving towards His devotees (bhakta-vatsala). All the while, one should endeavour to remove his anarthas. Then his creeper of devotion will very quickly bestow its fruit in the form of prema.
ananya-bhāvete kara śravaṇa-kīrtana
saṅge saṅge anartha-nāśera yatna kara
bhakti-latā phala-dāna karibe satvara
All religious duties are observed for the pleasure of Śrī Hari. Therefore the living entity’s only duty is to single-mindedly engage in kṛṣṇa-bhajana while giving up the desire for karma and jñāna. For the pleasure of Śrī Hari, he should reside in the dhāma with a resolute mind and hear narrations about Hari from śrī guru and Vaiṣṇavas. The method of cultivating pure bhajana is that after hearing hari-kathā, one should perform kīrtana and smaraṇa of those narrations. By this method anarthas are nullified and pure bhajana arises. This is the essence of all instruction for sādhakas.
One should not be disturbed by the loss of acquired assets. In this regard Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.114) quotes the Padma Purāṇa:
alabdhe vā vinaṣṭe vā
harim eva dhiyā smaret
One who is devoted to hari-bhakti should remain undisturbed and continue remembering Hari, even if he is unsuccessful in obtaining food and clothing, or if what he has obtained is lost.
bhakṣya-ācchādana yadi sahaje nā pāya
athavā pāiyā kona gatike hārāya
nāmāśrita bhakta aviklava-mati haiyā
govinda śaraṇa laya āsakti chāḍiyā
When the living entity attains taste (ruci) for śrī-bhagavat-kathā and harināma, he no longer has an attachment to worldly things. He is satisfied with only the cloth and food necessary to protect and sustain the body. If he gains or loses anything, his mind remains steady. His mood is that whatever is obtained or lost is the Lord’s desire. He knows that gain, loss and so forth come according to one’s previous karma. Detached from worldly matters, he remembers Śrī Bhagavān’s name with a steady mind.
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.113), quoting from the Padma Purāṇa, mentions the necessity of giving up distress:
ākrāntaṁ yasya mānasam
kathaṁ tatra mukundasya
sphūrtiḥ sambhāvanā bhavet
How can Mukunda manifest in the heart of a person who is filled with lamentation, anger and so forth?
putra kalatrera śoka, krodha, abhimāna
ye hṛdaye tāhe kṛṣṇa sphūrti nāhi pāna
Mukunda never manifests in a heart that becomes agitated by pleasure upon obtaining something temporary or distressed upon losing it. In this way the living entity remains oblivious to Bhagavān. One should follow the character of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s devotees and, guided by their mood, remain peaceful and steady in every situation. In this regard one should follow the example of Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita. Once Śrīman Mahāprabhu and His devotees were performing kīrtana in Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita’s home when, inside the house, Śrīvāsa’s son left his body. Śrīvāsa remained calm and strictly forbade the ladies and other persons in the house to cry, to ensure that Mahāprabhu’s kīrtana would not be disturbed. He did not even relate the news of his son’s death to Mahāprabhu. With such a fixed and peaceful mind one should remember and meditate upon Bhagavān. This is the purport of śāstra.
One should accept only as much wealth as is necessary to maintain his life. The Nāradīya Purāṇa states:
yāvatā syāt sva-nirvāhaḥ
svīkuryāt tāvad arthavit
ādhikye nyūnatāyāṁ ca
A sādhaka who needs to maintain himself will collect only as much wealth and other material necessities as are required to maintain his bhakti; to accept too much or too little will surely make him deviate from his goal.
dravyādi svīkāra kare bhakta nahe bhogī
A person qualified for vaidhī-bhakti should earn money to maintain his life through prescribed virtuous means; that is, according to varṇāśrama-dharma. It is auspicious to accept assets only according to one’s needs. Craving to accept more than necessary creates attachment, which will gradually destroy one’s bhajana. Accepting less than necessary is also harmful, as this will create an insufficiency, which in turn will weaken one’s bhajana. Therefore as long as a person is not indifferent to material things, he should cultivate pure bhakti and accept only those assets that are required to maintain his life.
The symptoms of advancement in unmotivated devotional service are given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.42):
bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir
anyatra caiṣa trika eka-kālaḥ
prapadyamānasya yathāśnataḥ syus
tuṣṭiḥ puṣṭiḥ kṣud-apāyo ’nu-ghāsam
With each morsel of food that a hungry person eats, he simultaneously experiences satisfaction, nourishment and relief from hunger. Similarly a surrendered devotee, who is engaged in the performance of bhakti, simultaneously realises his worshipful deity, strengthens his relationship with that deity and becomes detached from this temporary world and material relationships.
bhakta-jane samamāne yugapad udaya
bhakti, jñāna, virakti, tina jānaha niścaya
cid-acid-īśvara sambandha-jñāne jñāna
kṛṣṇetare anāsakti virakti-pramāṇa
ye rūpa bhajane tuṣṭi puṣṭi pratigrāse
kṣudhāra nivṛtti ei tina anāyāse
The symptoms observed in a sādhaka who has directly experienced the sweetness of Bhagavān are described in this Text. In such devotees, three symptoms are simultaneously visible: attainment of service to the Lord, realisation of all knowledge related to bhakti and detachment from matters unrelated to Kṛṣṇa. The sādhaka develops detachment from those items of enjoyment that are not useful in the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but he does not develop detachment from that which can be used in His service. Because he does not consider using such objects for his own pleasure, there is no need for him to renounce them.
When, due to humility, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī resolved to give up his life by throwing his body under the wheel of Lord Jagannātha’s chariot, Śrī Gaurasundara, who resides in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul, told him that a person cannot attain Kṛṣṇa merely by giving up his body. Kṛṣṇa is only attained through bhajana; that is, through fulfilling the inner desire of one’s guru (manobhīṣṭa-sevā).
When the sādhaka surrenders to śrī guru’s lotus feet, the guru becomes the owner of the sādhaka’s body. Therefore, when one acknowledges his body to be his guru’s property, it is necessary to take care of it. In the same mood, the vraja-devīs decorate their bodies with clothes, ornaments, cosmetics and so forth – only for service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Indifference to material objects develops according to the extent of one’s realisation of Bhagavān. This indifference gives one the qualification to attain the direct service of Bhagavān. Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī states in Vilāpa-kusumāñjali (6):
vairāgya-yug bhakti-rasaṁ prayatnair
apāyayan mām anabhīpsum andham
kṛpāmbudhir yaḥ para-duḥkha-duḥkhī
sanātanaṁ taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi
I surrender to the lotus feet of my master, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, who is the bestower of sambandha-jñāna. He is an ocean of mercy and his heart always becomes distressed upon seeing the suffering of others. Although due to the darkness of ignorance I had no desire to taste bhakti-rasa imbued with renunciation, he forced me to taste it and thereby gave me knowledge of my relationship with Kṛṣṇa.
Ignorant people honour artificial renunciation and praise those who accumulate dry knowledge. Such knowledge and renunciation, being devoid of the inclination to serve, simply result in mundane talk and deception of the public. There is no pure bhakti in them.
The following verse is a petition made at the stage of humility described in the previous Texts. Prahlāda Mahārāja (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.9.39)) prays:
naitan manas tava kathāsu vikuṇṭha-nātha
samprīyate durita-duṣṭam asādhu tīvram
tasmin kathaṁ tava gatiṁ vimṛśāmi dīnaḥ
O Vaikuṇṭhanātha, my mind is polluted by the desire to sin. How can I explain to You the suffering of my mind, which is constantly afflicted by desires? My mind, strongly attached to these desires, is sometimes overpowered by happiness and sometimes by distress and fear. It is always engaged in collecting wealth and material assets, and it finds no taste in the narrations of Your pastimes. How, then, can I remember and meditate upon You?
durita-dūṣita mana asādhu mānasa
kāma-harṣa-śoka-bhaya eṣaṇāra vaśa
tava kathā-rati kise haibe āmāra?
kise kṛṣṇa tava līlā kariba vicāra?
When steady devotion arises in the heart of a sādhaka, a mood of natural humility manifests. Out of greed to constantly relish the sweetness of Bhagavān he repents, “Alas, alas, I have not performed any sādhana-bhajana. My heart is sinful and my mind is wicked, and therefore I left the merciful Lord and am drowning in the ditch of material enjoyment. How will I be able to relish the nectar of Svāminī’s lotus feet? O Lord, how can I develop affection for Your form, qualities and pastimes? How can I obtain a taste for bhajana? Firmly bound by many kinds of illicit desires, I am drowning in the ocean of material existence. Oh, how can I protect myself from all this? O Bhagavān, I have become a servant of the six enemies. How can I, who am unintelligent and devoted to material desires, understand the boundless, eternal and deep truth about You?” This kind of humility arises when bhakti is fully ripe. In reality, fully mature prema is humility. Considering himself to be extremely fallen and wretched, the sādhaka always offers Bhagavān various humble and grief-stricken prayers.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.9.40) explains how life is completely destroyed by attraction to the form, taste and so on of material objects:
jihvaikato ’cyuta vikarṣati māvitṛptā
śiśno ’nyatas tvag-udaraṁ śravaṇaṁ kutaścit
ghrāṇo ’nyataś capala-dṛk kva ca karma-śaktir
bahvyaḥ sapatnya iva geha-patiṁ lunanti
O Acyuta, my tongue is pulling me towards very relishable flavours, my genitals towards beautiful women, my stomach towards foodstuffs that are harmful, my ears towards sweet songs and useless talk, my nose towards pleasant fragrances, my eyes towards beauty and my sense of touch towards soft things. In this way all my sense organs are pulling me towards their respective sense objects. O Nanda-nandana, my situation is like that of a man with many wives, each dragging him towards her own bedroom. In such a condition how can I remember You and Your form, qualities and pastimes?
jihvā ṭāne rasa prati, upastha kadarthe
udara bhojane ṭāne viṣama anarthe
carma ṭāne śayyādite, śravaṇa kathāya
ghrāṇa ṭāne surabhite, cakṣu dṛśye yāya
karmendriya karme ṭāne, bahu-patnī yathā
gṛhapati ākarṣaya, mora mana tathā
emata avasthā mora śrī-nanda-nandana
ki rūpe tomāra līlā kariba smaraṇa?
The sādhaka is praying to Bhagavān with great humility, “O Lord, let my mind always be completely attached to Your lotus feet and engaged in glorifying You. But, O Acyuta, although I am trying to control my senses by innumerable endeavours, I have not been successful. Alas, alas, what shall I do? My unsatisfied tongue, genitals, belly, ears, nose, restless eyes and sense of touch are drawing me in the direction of their respective sense objects – sound, form, taste, smell and touch – and are thus destroying me. O Prabhu, although I have tried my best to subdue them, I have not succeeded. My condition is like that of a man who, controlled by lust, has married several wives. Now all these wives are dragging him in their own direction, each wanting her lustful desires fulfilled. He is not able to pacify the fire of their lust nor do they leave him alone. The more this lusty man tries in various ways to satisfy the desires of these ladies, the less successful he is. Similarly, I endeavoured in many ways, but all in vain. O protector of the helpless, now You are my only shelter. I have faith in You alone. By the power of Your mercy, please deliver me from the entanglement of this material existence and thus make Your name, Patita-pāvana, meaningful.”
A prayer for obtaining the association of vraja-bhaktas is spoken by Lord Brahmā in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.30):
tad astu me nātha sa bhūri-bhāgo
bhave ’tra vānyatra tu vā tiraścām
yenāham eko ’pi bhavaj-janānāṁ
bhūtvā niṣeve tava pāda-pallavam
O Bhagavān, may I be so fortunate as to attain the association of Your devotees and, under their guidance, obtain service to Your lotus feet; be it in this or any other human birth, or in a birth such as an animal, bird, worm or moth.
ei brahma janmei vā anya kona bhave
paśu-pakṣī ha’ye janmi tomāra vibhave
ei mātra āśā tava bhakta-gaṇa-saṅge
thāki’ tava pada-sevā kari nānā-raṅge
Lord Brahmā became perplexed when he saw Śrī Kṛṣṇa playing with the other cowherd boys. So, in order to see more of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, he stole the cowherd boys and calves. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, however, assumed the forms of as many cows and cowherd boys as Brahmā stole, and for one year He continued His pastimes as before. Finally, He showed Brahmā His four-armed form. Upon seeing Bhagavān’s opulence, Brahmā deeply regretted his actions. He praised Śrī Kṛṣṇa in various ways and begged forgiveness for his offence: “O Lord, I have directly received Your mercy. O fulfiller of all kinds of desires, my fortune is not in having obtained this post as Brahmā. Rather, if I take birth in Vraja from the womb of an animal, bird, worm, moth or any other sub-human species, I will consider myself most fortunate. Even the mercy available to the deer in Vraja is not easily obtained in this birth as Brahmā. The deer cleanse the dust from Your limbs with their tongues, and You caress them with Your hands. I want to take birth in any species, high or low, where I can serve Your lotus feet under the guidance of Your devotees. This is my earnest desire and will be my good fortune.”
It is useless to be anxious about attaining the four goals of life. Śrī Uddhava explains in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.4.15):
ko nv īśa te pāda-saroja-bhājāṁ
sudurlabho ’rtheṣu caturṣv apīha
tathāpi nāhaṁ pravṛṇomi bhūman
O Lord, it is not difficult for one who has taken shelter of Your lotus feet to achieve the four goals of life (religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and liberation); nevertheless, such a person does not desire them. O Great One, he is not concerned with anything other than rendering service to Your lotus feet.
kṛṣṇa! tava pāda-padme bhakti āche yāṅra
catur-varga-madhye kivā aprāpya tāṅhāra
tathāpi tomāra pada-sevā mātra cāi
anya kona arthe mora prayojana nāi
The inherent dharma of the living entity is the tendency to serve (sevā-vṛtti). The devotee therefore desires the fifth goal of human life, pañcama-puruṣārtha, which is prema-sevā. He does not accept the threefold designations of religiosity (dharma), economic development (artha) and sense gratification (kāma), nor does he accept liberation (mokṣa), which is free from material designations. The impersonalists strive for sāyujya-mukti, which the devotee always completely rejects. The Nārada-pañcarātra (1.1.34) states:
bhaktaś cādbhutās tasyāś
All kinds of liberation are automatically accomplished by devotees who perform pure devotional service to Hari. Not only are they accomplished, but they follow the devotees like maidservants, always ready to serve them.
Devotees reject the five kinds of mukti: sāyujya, sārūpya, sāmīpya, sālokya and sārṣṭi. Excluding sāyujya, however, the other four are not entirely opposed to bhakti. They are of two kinds: sukhaiśvaryottarā (liberation tainted with the desire to enjoy the Lord’s opulence) and prema-sevottarā (liberation in which the dominant desire is to serve the Lord for His pleasure). Because there is some desire for personal happiness in both of these, those who are devoted to unalloyed service to Bhagavān consider them opposed to loving service and do not accept them.
One should endeavour to attain pure unalloyed devotion (śuddha-ahaitukī-bhakti). Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.18) states:
tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatām uparyadhaḥ
tal labhyate duḥkhavad-anyataḥ sukhaṁ
kālena sarvatra gabhīra-raṁhasā
[Śrī Nārada said:] In the course of time I have been wandering from the seven higher planets to the seven lower, such as Sutalaloka, but I have not attained eternal, transcendental happiness, which wise persons endeavour to taste. Just as misery comes without endeavour, by the influence of grave, quickly-moving time, happiness also comes without any endeavour. What, therefore, is the use of endeavouring for worldly happiness?
vinā yatne duḥkhera ghaṭanā yena haya
sei rūpe kāla-krame sukhera udaya
ataeva caudda-loke durlabha ye dhana
sei bhakti-janya yatna kare budha-gaṇa
A devotee understands that any pleasure within the material universe is insignificant compared to even the slightest experience of the nectar and fragrance of Bhagavān’s lotus feet. One who has only tasted molasses will give it up when he tastes fragrant sugar candy. Similarly, before actually cultivating devotion to Bhagavān in the association of pure devotees, the living entity who is allured by the flowery words of the Vedas desires to enjoy nectar, nectarean food and the other heavenly pleasures of Svarga. Alternatively, by the influence of association with jñānīs, the living entity desires liberation. Pure devotees do not accept either of these – they only desire the happiness of loving service to Bhagavān through bhakti. This Text tells us that those who are genuinely wise search only for that constant, eternal, transcendental happiness that is only obtained in Hari-dhāma (Vaikuṇṭha). This transcendental happiness is not available to the jīva who wanders throughout the fourteen worlds searching for mundane enjoyment.
Material happiness is even obtained in the body of a hog. According to his karma the living entity sometimes tastes sorrow and difficulties, and sometimes he effortlessly tastes happiness. Therefore the scriptures unanimously instruct that one should not endeavour to obtain that which is temporary and material. The jīva’s goal is neither to prevent his material suffering nor to be successful in endeavours for happiness. Such attempts are simply childish fickleness. The wise give up searching for these temporary things and endeavour to attain service to Śrī Hari, which is the soul’s eternal dharma.
The desire for liberation is made insignificant by ahaitukī-bhakti. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.9.10) states:
yā nirvṛtis tanu-bhṛtāṁ tava pāda-padma-
dhyānād bhavaj-jana-kathā-śravaṇena vā syāt
sā brahmaṇi sva-mahimany api nātha mā bhūt
kiṁ tv antakāsi-lulitāt patatāṁ vimānāt
O Lord, a drop of the bliss received from meditating on Your lotus feet, from hearing about Your pastimes – which flow from the mouths of Your devotees who are expert in relishing vraja-rasa – and from hearing descriptions of Your devotees’ pastimes, is not available in the bliss of merging into Brahman. What to speak of being available to others, it is not even available to the demigods of the heavenly planets, who fall down again, being cut by the sword of time.
tava pada-dhyāne bhakta-mukha tava kathā
śravaṇe ye sukha tāhā māgiye sarvathā
brahma-sukha nāhi bhāla lāge mora mane
ki chāra anitya loka-sukha-saṅghaṭane
In this prayer Dhruva Mahārāja describes the happiness he experienced after receiving darśana of Bhagavān: “O Master, the happiness found in hearing narrations of Your pastimes in the association of Your devotees is not available anywhere else. In the presence of the devotees’ sun-like premānanda, the pleasure of the impersonalists’ brahmānanda is like a firefly. The demigods’ heavenly enjoyment (svargānanda) is insignificant and also temporary, subject to being ultimately cut by the sword of time. The living entity can enjoy this pleasure only as long as the accumulated credit of his pious activities is not exhausted.” This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (9.21):
te taṁ bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti
evaṁ trayī-dharmam anuprapannā
gatāgataṁ kāma-kāmā labhante
Having enjoyed immense celestial pleasures, they again return to the mortal world when their pious merit is exhausted. In this way, those who perform fruitive activities as described in the three Vedas repeatedly come and go from this world.
Therefore only devotion to Bhagavān, which is devoid of the attraction to hear about the enjoyment available on Svarga and other higher planets, is supremely beneficial for the jīva. The wise spend their lives hearing and speaking hari-kathā in the company of pure devotees.
The glory of hearing the holy name from the mouth of a sādhu is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.20.24):
na kāmaye nātha tad apy ahaṁ kvacin
na yatra yuṣmac-caraṇāmbujāsavaḥ
vidhatsva karṇāyutam eṣa me varaḥ
O Lord, I do not want liberation. I receive no pleasure in hearing any topic other than the glorious narrations of the nectar of Your lotus feet. This nectar emanates from the mouths of saintly persons from deep within their hearts. I beg only for the boon that You will give me ten thousand ears with which I can always hear the sweetness of Your pastimes.
yāhāte tomāra pada-sevā-sukha nāi
sei rūpa vara āmi nātha kabhu nāhi cāi
bhaktera hṛdaya haite tava guṇa-gāna
śunite ayuta karṇa karaha vidhāna
Pṛthu Mahārāja prays to the lotus feet of Bhagavān to be able to hear and glorify the auspicious narrations of His pastimes only in the association of devotees. He says, “I offer my obeisances from far away to the topics of liberation and any other kind of talk that does not proclaim the glories of the nectar of Your lotus feet. My only treasured wish is to drink the nectar of Your līlā-kathā, which is filled with prema and which flows from the mouths of devotees. I do not even desire to hear about Your sweet pastimes from the mouths of non-devotees. Even fragrant water mixed with honey should be abandoned if it is salty.
“O Lord, I pray to You to please give me tens of thousands of ears to hear the sweet narrations of Your pastimes from the lotus mouths of devotees who are adept at relishing vraja-rasa. In other words, I pray that I may hear descriptions of Your pastimes with intense eagerness, and that the desire for impersonal liberation never arises in my heart. Drops of nectar from Your lotus feet in the form of pollen are carried by the breeze emanating from the mouths of great personalities, thus transmitting the potency of bhakti to us and making our lives successful. I am always ready to do anything to hear this kathā. May a spark of the mood of such personalities enter my heart and submerge me in an ocean of prema.”
Residence in the heavenly planets, residence in Brahmaloka, sovereignty over the Earth and lower planetary systems, the perfections of yoga and the eighteen mystic perfections are all insignificant from the perspective of a devotee. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.11.25):
na nāka-pṛṣṭhaṁ na ca pārameṣṭhyaṁ
na sārva-bhaumaṁ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaṁ vā
samañjasa tvā virahayya kāṅkṣe
O source of all good fortune, I have no desire to have a position of great sovereignty like that of Dhruva or Brahmā, or rulership over the Earth; nor do I desire aṇimā or any other mystic perfection. I do not even want liberation, if attaining it means I would have to give You up.
svarga parameṣṭhī-sthāna, sarvabhauma-pada
rasātala-ādhipatya, yogera sampada
nirvāṇa ityādi yata chāḍi’ sevā tava
nāhi māgi, e mora pratijñā akaitava
Bhagavān prevents His devotees from endeavouring for dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa, and this infers His mercy. While His mercy is easily attained by the akiñcana-bhaktas, it is extremely difficult to attain for living entities who are absorbed in sense enjoyment.
This Text is a prayer by Vṛtrāsura. While fighting with Indra, Vṛtrāsura considered it better to choose death over either victory or defeat, so that he could quickly cut his bodily bondage. He would then be able to directly serve Bhagavān.
Directly perceiving Bhagavān, Vṛtrāsura expressed the moods of his heart. “O source of all good fortune, I do not want a position in Dhruvaloka or Brahmaloka, nor do I want sole rulership of the Earth. I have no desire for mystic perfections or even liberation – which is the goal of impersonalists, who perform severe practices to attain it – if I have to give You up. My life is leaving my body in the fire of separation from You. O Prabhu, how can I ever attain eternal service to Your lotus feet?”
Devotees long to attain the eternal service of Bhagavān. Only one who has factually realised the bliss of serving (sevānanda) knows the significance of this. By obtaining dharma, artha and kāma, the living entity does not stop his transmigration, and by sāyujya-mukti, the living entity simply remains like an inert object in the effulgent Brahman. However, devotees relish the sweetness of service in newer and newer ways in the eternal abode of Bhagavān. This is the unique characteristic of the bhakta and bhakti. Bhakti-devī disappears from the heart of that person who eagerly desires liberation, and this is confirmed in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.92):
tāra madhye mokṣa-vāñchā kaitava-pradhāna
yāhā haite kṛṣṇa-bhakti haya antardhāna
The foremost process of cheating is the desire for liberation, for this causes the disappearance of kṛṣṇa-bhakti.
The symptom of attachment (āsakti) that is developed by taking shelter of the holy name is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.29.34):
cittaṁ sukhena bhavatāpahṛtaṁ gṛheṣu
yan nirviśaty uta karāv api gṛhya-kṛtye
pādau padaṁ na calatas tava pāda-mūlād
yāmaḥ kathaṁ vrajamatho karavāma kiṁ vā
[The gopīs said to Kṛṣṇa:] O stealer of minds (cittacora), by playing on Your vaṁśī, You have stolen our minds, which were absorbed in household affairs. This was not difficult for You. However, having lost our minds, our working senses are not functioning, and our movements and intelligence have therefore become abnormal. Our feet do not want to leave You to go anywhere else. Please tell us then, how can we possibly return to our homes?
gṛhasukhe citta chila, gṛhakārye kara
hariyā layecha tumi prāṇera īśvara
tava pādamūla chāḍi’ pada nāhi yāya
yāba kothā ki kariba balaha upāya
With the sweet sound of His flute, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, the crown jewel of experts in amorous pastimes (vidagdha-śiromaṇi), called to the vraja-gopīs, who were abundantly endowed with paramour love. Forgetting everything, the gopīs assembled on the bank of the Yamunā at Vaṁśivaṭa, which was beautifully decorated by bright moonlight. Then Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, concealing His real motive (avahitthā-bhāva), joked with them by instructing them to return to their respective homes. His intention, however, was as follows: during His previous pastime of stealing the gopīs’ clothes, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, the great connoisseur of the rāsa-līlā, saw the vraja-devīs’ entire bodies, but on this day He wanted to see the inner moods of their hearts. This is one unique attribute of the ocean of prema-rasa.
The rasika-ācāryas of the amorous mellow of Vraja ascertain that when the lover (nāyaka) assumes a submissive mood (dākṣiṇya-bhāva), the beloved (nāyikā) exhibits a contrary mood (vāmya-bhāva). And when the lover assumes a contrary mood, the beloved exhibits a submissive mood. The gopīs who assembled at the rāsa-maṇḍala displayed various waves of sentiments. Some of them were pragalbhā (bold and outspoken), some mṛdvī (sweet and gentle) and some madhyā (with qualities halfway between pragalbhā and mṛdvī). In this way, through the combination of such different sentiments, the ocean of rasa was adorned with unprecedented sweetness.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa said, “A virtuous woman’s only duty is to serve her husband. It is improper for her to stay, even for a moment, with a brahmacārī in a lonely forest at night. Therefore you should all quickly return home.”
Hearing these instructions, the gopīs, who possessed great anurāga, responded with words saturated with rasa: “O emperor of thieves! We did not come here to reside in an uninhabited place, nor did we come to ask anything from You. Our minds were happily absorbed in household affairs, when You stole them away with Your flute. The wealth of our hearts is already looted, so how can we return home? O You who are expert in rendering a person powerless by means of great mantras! Please return the faculty of our minds. In their absence the activities of all our senses are disabled and also our feet will not move; so return them and we will happily go back to our homes.”
One vraja-devī began to speak sarcastically: “O Mohana, do You think that we have come to this place because we were attracted by the sound of Your flute? No, no, this is not the case! Our minds are deeply absorbed in our happy household life; You could not steal away even the smallest part of them. Do not think that we will rest here, even for a moment. Indeed, what would we do here in this desolate place? If You ask why we have come to this lonely forest, O Śyāmasundara, it is because You were so eager to have our darśana. That is the only reason we have come. Now that You have seen us, we are going.”
As described in the following verse, all virtue and peacefulness appear in the devotee. Prahlāda Mahārāja explains in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.18.12):
yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā
sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ
harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā
manorathenāsati dhāvato bahiḥ
All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religiosity and knowledge, always dwell in the heart of a person who possesses selfless devotion to Bhagavān (niṣkāma-bhakti). But how can a person who is not a devotee of Bhagavān possess these qualities of great personalities? He constantly runs after insignificant and superfluous things, even after taking many different vows to renounce them.
akiñcanā bhakti yāṅra tāṅhāra śarīre
sarva-guṇa saha sarva-devatā vihare
abhakta sarvadā mano-rathete caḍiyā
asad bāhye bhrame guṇa varjita haiyā
The ācāryas have ascertained that once the tendency arises in someone to serve Kṛṣṇa without selfish motive (niṣkāma-sevā-vṛtti), all good qualities such as religiosity, knowledge and renunciation become apparent in him. This is simply the fruit of serving Mukunda. The fifty virtuous qualities of the demigods headed by Indra reside in the hearts of devotees. They cannot manifest in a deceitful and envious heart. A person who is devoid of hari-bhakti is attached to maintaining his body and home, and to extraneous desires, jñāna, karma, yoga and so on. He always runs towards external sense enjoyment through the avenues of profit, worship, name and fame, and mental speculation. In Prema-bhakti-candrikā (8.8) Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says: “karma-kāṇḍa jñāna-kāṇḍa kevala viṣera bhāṇḍa – fruitive activities and mental speculation are simply pots of poison.” Mundane people, who are attached to material things, obtain different births according to their karma. The devotees, on the other hand, are preoccupied with performing service in the association of devotees and are thereby submerged in the ocean of supreme transcendental happiness. Thus they remain satisfied.
Bhakti destroys the egoism arising from falsely identifying the body with the self (deha-abhimāna). This is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.11.30):
tvaṁ pratyag ātmani tadā bhagavaty ananta
bhaktiṁ vidhāya paramāṁ śanakair avidyā
granthiṁ vibhetsyasi mamāham iti prarūḍham
[Manu said to Dhruva:] By searching for Bhagavān Ananta, who possesses all potencies, who is the embodiment of supreme transcendental bliss and who resides within all living entities as the Supersoul, your devotion will become very steady. On the strength of that devotion you will be able to cut the tight knot of ignorance in the form of the false conceptions of “I” and “mine”.
manu bale dhruva tumi dhṛta sarva-śakti
pratyak ānanda-rūpa kṛṣṇe kara bhakti
chedana karite krame haibe sakṣama
A sādhaka experiences his own transcendental form (svarūpa) by cultivating pure devotional service that is unobstructed and not personally motivated. Upon realising his svarūpa, he very easily cuts the knot of ignorance by which he identifies the material body as “I” and material objects as “mine”. When the living entity transcends the three modes (sattva, raja and tama), he is able to experience bhagavad-rasa, which is endowed with all potencies. This takes place by the influence of association with devotees. Since he is self-realised, he searches for Bhagavān, who is beyond the material modes, who is the non-dual Absolute Truth endowed with all transcendental qualities, and who is infallible. By cultivating bhakti in this way, he gradually becomes eternally situated in his own svarūpa.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.22.39) states:
karmāśayaṁ grathitam udgrathayanti santaḥ
tadvan na rikta-matayo yatayo ’pi ruddha-
sroto-gaṇās tam araṇaṁ bhaja vāsudevam
[Śrī Sanat Kumāra instructed Pṛthu Mahārāja:] The devotees of Bhagavān are easily able to cut the knot in the heart in the form of desires for fruitive activities by meditating upon the splendour that emanates from the toes of Bhagavān’s lotus feet. However, impersonalist yogīs, who are devoid of loving devotion, cannot do so even by controlling their senses. Therefore give up the endeavours of jñāna, yoga and so forth, and engage in bhajana of Vāsudeva-Kṛṣṇa.
pratyāhāre ruddha-mati yogeśvara-gana
kadāca karite pāre yāhā sampādana
sei karmāśaya granthi kāṭe sādhu-gaṇa
yāṅra kṛpā-bale, laha tāṅhāra śaraṇa
Impersonalists (nirviśeṣa-jñānīs) are not able to control their senses even by performing severely rigid practices, but devotees can very easily control the extremely strong senses by meditating upon the lustre of the lotus-petal-like toes of the most merciful Bhagavān. In this way they become absorbed in deep meditation. This meditation (dhyāna), and the object of meditation (dhyeya), Śrī Bhagavān, are both eternal. The followers of the theory of monism (advaitavādīs) say: “sādhakānāṁ hitārthāya brahmaṇi rūpaḥ kalpate – Brahman is formless but for the benefit of sādhakas a form has been imagined.” They say that by worshipping imaginary forms of Viṣṇu, Śiva, Durgā, Sūrya and Gaṇeśa, one’s heart is purified and one then attains sāyujya-mukti, merging into Brahman. This conception, however, is an ignorant hypothesis that is opposed to the scriptures.
The word vilāsa-bhaktyā in this Text 22 means that the sādhaka contemplates Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s body and meditates on different kinds of services, such as anointing Him with perfume, giving Him an oil-massage, bathing Him and so forth. Meditation on the toes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is clever in vraja-rasa, means remembering that His lotus toes have been coloured by kuṅkuma while He was performing intimate pastimes in the bowers of Vṛndāvana with the vraja-devīs. By meditating on this, all the knots of the disease in one’s heart are easily and naturally destroyed. How can the impersonalists, who are covered by ignorance, obtain all these transcendental sentiments? They do not even accept the eternality of Bhagavān and His transcendental form. Although they consider themselves liberated, in reality they are not. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.29) confirms this:
jñānī jīvan-mukta-daśā pāinu kari’ mane
vastutaḥ buddhi ‘śuddha’ nahe kṛṣṇa-bhakti bine
The endeavours of the offensive nirviśeṣa-jñānīs to control their senses are futile. Externally their activities may look like self-control, but internally there is a flow of dirty, lusty desires likened to the Phalgu River, a river in Gayā that has no flow of water on the river bed but flows underground. Even after thousands of years of severe austerities, Saubhari Ṛṣi was not liberated from material desires. However, by serving Bhagavān in the association of the pure devotee Mahārāja Māndhātā, he was liberated from material existence very easily. On the strength of bhakti, the devotees are able to cut ignorance at the root. All their senses remain engaged in Bhagavān’s service and they make their senses successful by relishing the nectar of Bhagavān’s beauty. Therefore give up futile endeavours to subdue the senses and perform bhajana of Śrī Vrajendra-nandana, who is eternal and full of transcendental bliss. This is the only auspicious activity.
An introduction to the midday pastimes (madhyāhna-līlā) is found in Govinda-līlāmṛta (8.1):
rādhā-kṛṣṇau satṛṣṇau parijana-ghaṭayā sevyamānau smarāmi
I meditate upon Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, who at midday enjoy each other’s company while being beautifully decorated with various bhāvas, such as aṣṭa-sāttvika-bhāvas and vyabhicāri-bhāvas. They become extremely restless due to contrariness (vāmya) and yearning (utkaṇṭhā). In Their amorous play (kandarpa-yajña) the joking words of Śrī Lalitā and the other sakhīs give Them much pleasure. They blissfully enjoy sports like swinging (jhūlā), frolicking in the forest (vana-vihāra), playing in the water (jala-keli), stealing the flute (vaṁśī-haraṇa), amorous meeting (rati-krīḍā), drinking honey (madhu-pāna), worshipping the Sun-god (sūrya-pūjā) and many other kinds of pastimes while being served by Their dear ones.
rādhā-kuṇḍe sumilana, vikārādi-vibhūṣaṇa,
sambhoga-narmādi-rīti, dolā-khelā vaṁśī-hṛti,
madhu-pāna, sūrya-pūja khelā
jala-khelā, vanyāśana, chala-supti, vanyāṭana,
bahu-līlānande dui jane
parijana suveṣṭita, rādhā-kṛṣṇa susevita,
madhyāhna-kālete smari mane
After finishing Her prasāda-sevā at Nanda-bhavana, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī returns to Jāvaṭa with Her sakhīs, where She very eagerly waits to meet Her prāṇa-priyatama, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Her mother-in-law, Jaṭilā, orders Her to worship Sūryadeva, and on this pretext she leaves Her house with Her sakhīs and secretly departs for Rādhā-kuṇḍa, where She is able to freely meet with Her beloved. There, His darśana and touch decorate Her with aṣṭa-sāttvika, kila-kiñcita and many other bhāvas. Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s contrary mood (vāmya-bhāva) enables Her prāṇeśvara to relish the mellows of pastimes to their highest extent, and it also stimulates His ever-fresh eagerness. Then many pastimes take place with the gopīs, such as meeting with Kṛṣṇa (sambhoga), joking while playing dice (pāśā-krīḍā), playing hide-and-seek (āṅkha-micaunī), stealing the flute (vaṁśī-corī), drinking honey (madhu-pāna, or prema-pāna), engaging in water-sports (jala-krīḍā), having a picnic (vanya-bhojana), feigning sleep (chala-śayana) and worshipping the Sun-god (sūrya-pūjā). Absorbed in meditating on these pastimes, the rāgānuga-sādhaka performs kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s names.
Thus ends the Caturtha-yāma-sādhana,
Madhyāhna-kālīya-bhajana, of Śrī Bhajana-rahasya.