Lahiri Mahasaya’s kutira was adjacent to that of Vaisnava dasa. A few mango and jackfruit trees stood nearby, and the entire area was adorned with small betel plants. In the courtyard there was a large circular platform, which had been there for many years, since the time of Pradyumna Brahmacari. The Vaisnavas had since called it the Surabhi Terrace, and would circumambulate it, offering dandavat-pranama with faith.
The evening twilight had just yielded to dusk. Sri Vaisnava dasa was sitting in his cottage on a mat of leaves, chanting hari-nama. It was the dark fortnight of the moon, and the night gradually settled into darkness. A lamp was flickering in Lahiri Mahasaya’s kutira, and by its light, he suddenly noticed what appeared to be a snake by his doorway. He quickly adjusted the lamp and took up a stick to kill the snake, but it had already vanished.
“Be careful!” he told Vaisnava dasa. “A snake may have just entered your kutira.”
“Lahiri Mahasaya, why are you so disturbed about a snake?” replied Vaisnava dasa. “Come and sit inside my kutira with me, and don’t be afraid.”
Lahiri Mahasaya entered Vaisnava dasa’s kutira and sat on a mat of leaves, but he still felt some mental anxiety about the snake. “O great soul,” he said, “our Santipura is good in this respect, for there is no fear of snakes, scorpions and other such creatures there. In Nadiya, there is always danger from snakes. It is especially difficult for a refined gentleman to live in a forested area like Godruma.”
Sri Vaisnava dasa Babaji explained, “Lahiri Mahasaya, it is senseless to agitate the mind over such matters. You must have heard the story of Maharaja Pariksit in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. He gave up all fear of his impending death by snake-bite, and with an unflinching heart drank the nectar of hari-katha from Sri Sukadeva’s mouth. Thus he tasted supreme transcendental bliss. A snake can never bite the citta-deha; the only snake that can wound the spiritual body is the snake of separation from topics of Sri Hari.
“The material body is not eternal, and one will certainly have to give it up some day. As far as the body is concerned, we should simply perform the karma that is necessary to maintain it, and nothing more. When the body collapses by the will of Krsna, it cannot be saved by any kind of effort, but until the designated time for the demise of the body has arrived, a snake cannot harm a person, even if he is sleeping right next to it. Therefore, one may not introduce himself as a Vaisnava until he gets rid of his fear of snakes and all such things. If the mind is agitated by such fears, how will one be able to fix it upon the lotus feet of Sri Hari? So one should certainly stop being afraid of snakes and trying to kill them out of fear.”
Lahiri Mahasaya said with some faith, “As a result of hearing your words, which are just befitting a sadhu, my heart has become free from all kinds of fear. Now I have understood that one can obtain the highest benefit only when the heart becomes elevated. Many great souls who are engaged in the worship of Bhagavan live in mountain caves, and they are never afraid of the wild animals that live there. Rather, out of fear of materialistic association, they
have given up living with other human beings, and they live among the wild animals instead.”
Babaji Mahasaya said, “When Bhakti-devi, the goddess of devotion, makes her appearance in a person’s heart, that heart auto- matically becomes elevated. He then becomes dear to all jivas. Everyone, devotees and non-devotees alike, feels affection for the Vaisnavas, and that is why every human being should become a Vaisnava.”
As soon as Lahiri Mahasaya heard this he said, “You have awakened my faith in nitya-dharma. It seems to me that there is a close connection between nitya-dharma and vaisnava-dharma, but so far I have not been able to understand how they are identical.”
Vaisnava dasa Babaji replied, “In this world there are two different dharmas that go by the name of vaisnava-dharma. The first is suddha (pure) vaisnava-dharma, and the second is viddha (adulterated) vaisnava-dharma. Although suddha-vaisnava-dharma is one in principle, it has four divisions according to rasa, or taste for serving Bhagavan in a specific loving mood: dasya (servitude), sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parental affection), and madhurya (conjugal love). In reality, suddha-vaisnava-dharma is one without a second, and it is known as nitya-dharma or para-dharma (the supreme dharma).
“In the sruti-sastra, Mundaka Upanisad (1.1.3), we find the following statement:
yad vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati
Everything becomes known when one understands that
supreme truth clearly.
“This statement pertains to suddha-vaisnava-dharma. The full import of this will gradually be revealed to you.
“There are two types of adulterated vaisnava-dharma: one is adulterated with karma (karma-viddha) and the other with jnana (jnana-viddha). All the practices that the orthodox brahmanas (smartas) uphold as vaisnava-dharma are actually vaisnava-dharma adulterated with karma. This type of vaisnava-dharma entails initiation into a Vaisnava mantra, but Visnu, the all-pervading Lord of the universe, is only treated as a constituent part of the process of karma. Visnu is actually the superintendent of all the devatas, but in this system, He is regarded as being only an aspect of karma, and subject to its laws. In other words, the conception is that karma is not subordinate to the will of Visnu, but that Visnu is subordinate
to the will of karma.
“According to this theory, all varieties of worship and spiritual practice, such as upasana, bhajana, and sadhana are merely parts of karma, because there is no truth higher than karma. This type of vaisnava-dharma was professed by the ancient mimamsaka philosophers and has been prevalent for a very long time. Many people in India who adhere to this doctrine pride themselves on being Vaisnavas but do not care to accept pure Vaisnavas as Vaisnavas at all. This is their great misfortune.
“Vaisnava-dharma adulterated with jnana is also widespread throughout India. According to this school of thought, the supreme truth is the incomprehensible, all-pervading brahma; and in order to attain this nirvisesa (featureless) brahma, one should worship Surya, Ganesa, Sakti, Siva, and Visnu, who all possess forms. When one’s knowledge becomes complete, one can give up the worship of forms and ultimately attain the state of nirvisesa-brahma. Many people accept this doctrine and disrespect the pure Vaisnavas. When followers of this pancopasana system worship Visnu, they perform diksa, puja and all their activities for Visnu, and they may also worship Radha-Krsna. Still, it is not suddha-vaisnava-dharma.
“The suddha-vaisnava-dharma that comes to light when one eliminates the adulterated forms is the true vaisnava-dharma. Due to the influence of the age of Kali, most people cannot understand what pure vaisnava-dharma is, and they therefore accept the various adulterated forms as true vaisnava-dharma.
“According to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, human beings display three different tendencies with regard to the Absolute Truth: the tendency towards the all-pervading brahma (brahma-pravrtti); the tendency towards the Supreme atma in the heart known as Paramatma (paramatma-pravrtti); and the tendency towards the Supreme Person, Bhagavan (bhagavata-pravrtti). By the brahmapravrtti some people aquire a taste for the indefinite, featureless
nirvisesa-brahma as the ultimate principle. The method they adopt in order to attain this indeterminate state is known as pancopasana.
“By the paramatma-pravrtti, some people acquire a taste for that yoga principle which establishes contact with the subtle form of Paramatma. The methods they adopt to try to attain the trance of absorption in Paramatma (samadhi) are known as karma-yoga and
astanga-yoga. This doctrine holds that karma includes initiation into the chanting of visnu-mantras, worship of Sri Visnu, meditation, and other such practices. Vaisnava dharma adulterated with karma is present in this system.
“By the bhagavata-pravrtti, fortunate jivas acquire a taste for the bhakti principle which seeks to obtain service of the pure, personal form of Bhagavan, savisesa-bhagavat-svarupa, who possesses all qualities and attributes. Their activities, such as worshiping Bhagavan, are not parts of karma or jnana, but are components of suddha-bhakti (pure bhakti). The vaisnava-dharma that conforms to this doctrine is suddha-vaisnava-dharma. It is said in the Srimad- Bhagavatam (1.2.11):
vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj-jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate
Those who know Absolute Reality describe that ultimate
non-dual substance as the Supreme Truth. Some know this
same advaya-jnana-tattva by the name of brahma, some by
the name of Paramatma and others by the name Bhagavan.
Bhagavat-tattva is the supreme tattva, and is the basis of both brahma and Paramatma. It is this personal conception of the truth (bhagavat-tattva) that is the pure conception of Sri Visnu. The jivas who pursue this principle are pure jivas, and their inclination is called bhakti. Devotion for Sri Hari (hari-bhakti) is celebrated by the names suddha-vaisnava-dharma, nitya-dharma, jaiva-dharma (the constitutional function of the jivas), bhagavata-dharma (the
religion of worshiping the Supreme Person), paramartha-dharma (the religion that strives for the ultimate benifit), and para-dharma (the supreme function).
“All types of dharma that arise from the tendencies toward brahma and Paramatma are naimittika, and not nitya. The cultivation of nirvisesa-brahma is motivated by a material purpose (nimitta), and is therefore naimittika, not nitya. When a jiva is anxious to gain
release from his bondage to matter, his state of imprisonment becomes the nimitta (cause) that impels him to adopt the naimittikadharma of striving for the state in which all material qualities are extinguished. This striving is said to be naimittika because it is motivated by a nimitta (material cause), namely the state of material bondage. Therefore, the dharma of striving to attain brahma is not eternal.
“The jivas who adopt the dharma of seeking Paramatma with a desire for the happiness of samadhi take shelter of naimittika-dharma motivated by the impetus for subtle material pleasure. Therefore, Paramatma dharma is also not eternal. Only unalloyed bhagavatadharma is eternal.”
On hearing all this, Lahiri Mahasaya said, “O Mahasaya, kindly instruct me on suddha-vaisnava-dharma. I am taking shelter at your lotus feet in my old age. Please accept me. I have heard that if one has previously accepted diksa and siksa from an unqualified guru, he should be initiated and receive instructions again when he meets a genuine guru. I have been hearing your pure instructions for several days, and my faith in vaisnava-dharma has been awakened.
Please first instruct me about vaisnava-dharma and then sanctify me by giving me initiation.”
Babaji Mahasaya became slightly ill at ease, and replied, “O Mahasaya, I will certainly instruct you as far as I am able, but I am not fit to be a diksa-guru. Nonetheless, you may now take instructions on suddha-vaisnava-dharma.
“Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the original guru of the entire world, has explained that there are three fundamental principles in vaisnava-dharma: sambandha-tattva, knowledge of one’s relationship with Bhagavan; abhidheya-tattva, the means by which the ultimate goal is achieved; and prayojana-tattva, the ultimate goal of krsna-prema. A suddha-vaisnava or suddha-bhakta is one who knows these three principles and acts in accordance with them.
“The first principle, sambandha-tattva, includes three separate topics: The first topic is the material world (jada-jagat), or the fundamental truth regarding the potency that creates bewilderment (mayika-tattva); the second topic is the living beings (jivas), or the fundamental truth regarding the predominated entities (adhinatattva); and the third topic is Bhagavan, or the fundamental truth regarding the predominating entity (prabhu-tattva).
“Bhagavan is one without a second and endowed with all potencies.He is allattractive, the exclusive abode of opulence and sweetness, and is the sole shelter for all jivas. Athough He is the only shelter of maya and all the jivas, still He is aloof and independent and exisits in His own supreme, independent form which is uncommonly beautiful. The effulgence of His limbs radiates to a great distance, manifesting as the nirvisesa-brahma. Through His divine potency known as aisi-sakti He manifests the jivas and the material world, and then enters into that world as Paramatma, who is His partial expansion. This is the fundamental truth concerning Isvara, the supreme controller, or Paramatma, the indwelling Supersoul.
“In the Vaikuntha region of the spiritual sky, beyond this material universe, He manifests as Narayana, His feature of supreme opulence and majesty. In Goloka Vrndavana, which is beyond Vaikuntha, He manifests as Gopijana-vallabha Sri Krsnacandra, His feature of supreme sweetness. His various types of expansions, such as identical manifestations (prakasa) and pastime forms (vilasa), are eternal and unlimited. Nothing and no one is equal
to Him, what to speak of being superior to Him.
“His identical manifestations and pastime forms, prakasa and vilasa, are manifested by His superior potency known as para-sakti. This para-sakti displays its prowess (vikrama) in many different features, out of which only three are known to the jivas.The first is the internal potency, cid-vikrama, which arranges Sri Hari’s transcendental pastimes and everything related to them. The second is the marginal potency, jiva or tatastha-vikrama, which manifests and sustains innumerable jivas. The third is the potency that creates bewilderment, maya-vikrama, which creates material time, material activities, and all the insubstantial objects of this world.
“Sambandha-tattva comprises Isvara’s relationship with the jivas, the relationship of the jivas and of matter with Isvara, and the relationship of Isvara and of the jivas with matter. One who understands this sambandha-tattva completely is situated in sambandha-jnana, and one who does not have sambandha-jnana cannot become a pure Vaisnava by any means.”
Lahiri Mahasaya said, “I have heard from some Vaisnavas that one is a real Vaisnava only if he experiences the path of devotion through bhava (emotions), so there is no need for knowledge. How much truth is there in this statement? Up until now I have simply tried to evoke emotions through the singing of hari-namasankirtana; I have not made any attempt to understand sambandhajnana.”
Babaji said, “The highest fruit of attainment for the Vaisnavas is the development of bhava, the first sprout of prema, and the basis for all transcendental emotions. However, that state of bhava must be pure. Those who think that the highest goal is to merge their identity into the non-differentiated brahma practice inducing emotions while engaged in spiritual discipline to attain this goal. However, their emotions and their endeavors are not suddha-
bhava; they are merely an imitation. Even a single drop of suddhabhava can fulfill the highest aspiration of the jiva, but the display of emotions by those who are polluted with the jnana that is aimed at attaining nirvisesa-brahma is a great calamity for the jivas. The devotional sentiments of people who feel that they are one with brahma are merely a cheating display. Therefore, sambandha-jnana is absolutely essential for pure devotees.”
Lahiri Mahasaya then inquired with faith, “Is there any truth higher than brahma? If Bhagavan is the origin of brahma, why don’t the jnanis give up their pursuit of brahma, and engage in the worship of Bhagavan?”
Babaji Mahasaya smiled mildly and said, “Brahma, the four Kumaras, Suka, Narada, and Mahadeva, the chief of the celestials, have all ultimately taken shelter at the lotus feet of Bhagavan.”
Lahiri Mahasaya then raised a doubt: “Bhagavan has a form. Since form is limited by spatial considerations, how can Bhagavan be the resting place of the limitless and all-pervading brahma?”
Babaji Maharaja resolved his doubt, saying, “In the material world, the entity known as the sky is also limitless; why should brahma be considered to be more important, merely because it is limitless? Bhagavan is also limitless, by virtue of the potency manifested from the effulgence of His limbs. At the same time, He possesses His own transcendental form. Can any other entity compare with this? It is because of this unparalleled nature that Bhagavan is superior to the principle of brahma.
“His transcendental form is supremely attractive, and that selfsame form is fully and completely all-pervasive, omniscient, omnipotent, unlimitedly merciful and supremely blissful. Which is superior—a form such as this, which is endowed with all qualities,
or an obscure, all-pervading existence, which is devoid of qualities and potencies? In reality, brahma is only a partial, impersonal manifestation of Bhagavan. The impersonal and personal features both exist simultaneously and in perfect harmony in Bhagavan.
“Brahma is only one aspect of Bhagavan. Those whose spiritual intelligence is limited are attracted to the feature of the Supreme that is devoid of qualities, and is formless, immutable, unknowable, and immeasurable. But those who are all-seeing (sarva-darsi)
have no attraction for anything other than the complete Absolute Truth. Vaisnavas have no significant faith in Sri Hari’s formless, impersonal feature, for it is opposed to their eternal function and unalloyed prema. Bhagavan Sri Krsnacandra is the basis of both the personal and impersonal features. He is an ocean of supreme transcendental bliss and He attracts all pure jivas.”
Lahiri: How can Sri Krsna’s form be eternal, since He takes birth, performs activities, and gives up His body?
Babaji: Sri Krsna’s form is sac-cid-ananda—ever-existing, full of knowledge, and completely blissful. His birth, activities, and leaving the body have no connection with mundane matter.
Lahiri: Then why have such descriptions been given in Mahabharata and other sastras?
Babaji: The eternal truth defies description, for it is beyond words. The pure soul in his spiritual aspect sees the transcendental form and pastimes of Sri Krsna, but when he describes that supremereality in words, it appears just like worldly mundane history. Those who are eligible to extract the essence from sastras such as the Mahabharata experience Krsna’s pastimes as they are. However, when people of mundane intelligence hear these descriptions, they interpret them in different ways.
Lahiri: When one meditates on the form of Sri Krsna, the conception that arises in the heart is limited by time and space. How can one transcend such limitations and meditate on Krsna’s actual form?
Babaji: Meditation is an action of the mind, and as long as the mind is not fully spiritualized, one’s meditation cannot be spiritual (cinmaya). Bhakti purifies the mind so that it gradually becomes spiritual, and when one meditates with the mind that has become purified in that way, such meditation certainly becomes cinmaya. When bhajananandi Vaisnavas chant Krsna’s name, the material world cannot touch them, because they are cinmaya. Internally, they are situated in the spiritual world as they meditate on Krsna’s daily pastimes and relish the bliss of confidential service.
Lahiri: Please be merciful and grant me such spiritual realization (cid-anubhava).
Babaji: When you abandon all material doubts and mundane logic, and constantly apply yourself to sri-nama, spiritual realization will quickly arise within you of its own accord. The more you resort to mundane logic, the more you will subjugate your mind to material bondage. The more you strive to initiate the flow of nama-rasa, the more your material shackles will become loosened. The spiritual dimension will then manifest in your heart.
Lahiri: Please be merciful and explain what that spiritual experience is.
Babaji: The mind is brought to a standstill when it tries to understand that truth through words. The truth can be realized only through culture of spiritual bliss (cid-ananda). Give up all argumentation and simply chant sri-nama for several days. Then the power of nama will automatically dispel all of your doubts and you will not have to inquire further from anyone in this regard.
Lahiri Mahasaya: I have understood that one obtains supreme spiritual benefit by drinking the liquid rasa of sri-krsna-nama with great faith, so I will chant sri-nama when I have understood sambandha-jnana very clearly.
Babaji: That is the best way. You must have a sound understanding of sambandha-jnana.
Lahiri: Bhagavat-tattva (the fundamental truth regarding Bhagavan) has now become clear to me. Bhagavan is the one Supreme Absolute Truth, and brahma and Paramatma are subordinate
to Him. Although all-pervading, Sri Bhagavan resides in the spiritual world in His unique transcendental form which possesses all potencies, and is the supreme person of concentrated existence, knowledge, and bliss. Although the master of all potencies, He always remains completely entranced in exuberant association with His pleasure-giving potency (hladini-sakti). Now kindly instruct me about jiva-tattva.
Babaji: The tatastha-sakti, or marginal potency, is one of Sri Krsna’s innumerable potencies. Issuing forth from this marginal potency are the entities who are situated between the cit-jagat and jadajagat and which have the potential to associate with either. These entities are known as jiva-tattva. The jivas are cit-paramanu by composition, which means that they are atomic entities of pure consciousness. These jivas can be bound in the material world because they are tiny, but since they are constituted of pure consciousness, if they simply acquire a little spiritual power, they can also become eternal residents of the spiritual world and obtain paramananda (supreme transcendental pleasure).
There are two types of jivas: mukta (liberated) and baddha (bound). The jivas who reside in the spiritual world are mukta, whereas those who are shackled by maya and attached to this material world are baddha. There are two types of baddha-jivas: those who are spiritually awake (udita-viveka); and those who are spiritually unconscious (anudita-viveka). Birds, beasts and human beings who do not seek their supreme spiritual benefit are spiritually
unconscious, whereas human beings who have adopted the path of Vaisnavism are spiritually awake, for no one except the Vaisnavas genuinely endeavor to attain the supreme spiritual goal. That is why the sastras have declared that serving Vaisnavas and associating with them is the best of all activities.
Those who are spiritually awake develop taste for the practice of krsna-nama on the strength of their faith in sastra, and from this they easily develop an attraction for serving and associating with Vaisnavas. However, those who are spiritually unconscious cannot awaken their faith in sastra, and thus do not adopt the practice of krsna-nama. They only worship the Deity of Krsna as a matter of social custom. Consequently, the taste for associating with Vaisnavas and serving them is not awakened in their hearts.
Lahiri: I have understood krsna-tattva and jiva-tattva. Now please explain maya-tattva.
Babaji: Maya is the material function and is a potency of Krsna. This potency is known as the inferior potency (apara-sakti), or the external potency (bahiranga-sakti). Maya remains far from Krsna and krsna-bhakti, just as a shadow remains distant from light. Maya manifests the elements earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind and intelligence; the fourteen divisions of planetary systems; and the egoism by which one identifies the material body as the self. Both the gross and subtle bodies of the baddha-jiva are products of maya.When the jiva is liberated, his spiritual body is untainted by matter. The more he is ensnared by maya, the more he is diverted from Krsna; and the more he is aloof from maya, the more he is drawn towards Krsna. The material universe is created by the will of Krsna, just to facilitate the material enjoyment of the baddha-jivas; it is only a jail, and not the eternal residence of the jivas.
Lahiri: Master, now please tell me about the eternal relationship that exists between maya, the jivas, and Krsna.
Babaji: The jiva is an atomic particle of consciousness (anu-cit), and Krsna is the complete consciousness (purna-cit); therefore, the jiva is the eternal servant of Krsna. This material world is a prison house for the jivas. By the strength of association with saintly people in this world, one repeatedly practices the chanting of srinama. In due course of time one attains Krsna’s mercy, and when one is situated in one’s own perfected spiritual form (cit-svarupa)
in the spiritual world, one drinks the rasa (liquid mellow) of service to Sri Krsna. This is the confidential relationship that exists between these three fundamental realities (tattvas). How can one perform bhajana without this knowledge?
Lahiri: If knowledge is obtained by academic study, must one be a scholar to become a Vaisnava?
Babaji: There is no specific learning nor any particular language which one must study in order to become a Vaisnava. In order to dispel the illusion of maya, the jiva should take shelter at the feet of a genuine guru who is a true Vaisnava. The Vaisnava guru can impart sambandha-jnana by his words and behavior. This is known as diksa and siksa.
Lahiri: What should one do after receiving diksa and siksa?
Babaji: One should maintain virtuous conduct and peform krsnabhajana. This is known as abhidheya-tattva, the means to achieve the ultimate goal of krsna-prema. This tattva has been prominently described in the Vedas and all the sastras. Consequently, Sriman Mahaprabhu has referred to this fundamental truth as abhidheyatattva.
Lahiri Mahasaya’s eyes filled with tears and he said, “O divine Master, I take shelter at your lotus feet. Now that I have heard your ambrosial words, I now understand sambandha-jnana and at the same time, to my utter amazement, all the samskaras, or deep rooted mental impressions related to my caste identification, education, and training have been dissolved by your mercy. Now please be merciful and instruct me about abhidheya-tattva.
Babaji: Now there is no worry. Your development of humility is a sure sign that Sri Caitanyadeva has bestowed His mercy upon you. Sadhu-sanga is the only means of deliverance for the jivas who are entangled in this world. The sadhus and guru mercifully impart instructions on how to perform bhajana, and on the strength of that bhajana, one gradually obtains the supreme goal (prayojana). Sadhana-bhakti (devotional practice) is called abhidheya.
Lahiri: Please tell me how to do bhagavad-bhajana.
Babaji: Hari-bhajana means bhakti. There are three stages of bhakti: the stage of practice (sadhana); the first dawning of divine love (bhava); and the mature state of divine love (prema).
Lahiri: Please instruct me. What are the different types of sadhana, and how are they performed?
Babaji Mahasaya: Sri Rupa Gosvami has described this subject very elaborately in his book Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. I will relate it to you in brief. There are nine types of sadhana:
sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam
The nine primary limbs of devotion are hearing, chanting,
and remembering; serving His lotus feet; worshiping Him
with various types of paraphernalia; offering prayers; serving
Him in the mood of an exclusive servant; serving Him
in the mood of an intimate friend; and offering one’s very
self unto Him.
These nine types of sadhana-bhakti are described in Srimad- Bhagavatam (7.5.23). Sri Rupa Gosvami has analysed these nine in terms of their various parts and subdivisions, and has given an elaborate description of sixty-four types of sadhana-bhakti.
There is one special characteristic—sadhana-bhakti is of two types: vaidhi, sadhana impelled by the rules and regulations of sastra, and raganuga, sadhana impelled by spontaneous love. These nine types of bhakti refer to vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti. Raganugasadhana-
bhakti consists of internal service to Krsna in the mood of the eternal residents of Vraja, and adhering exclusively to their guidance. The sadhaka should practice the type of sadhana-bhakti
for which he is eligible.
Lahiri: How is adhikara (eligibility) determined in regard to sadhana-bhakti?
Babaji: When the spiritual master considers that a faithful sadhaka is fit to remain under the rules and regulations of sastra, he will first instruct him in vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti. When he considers that a sadhaka is eligible for raganuga-bhakti, he will instruct him how to perform bhajana according to raga-marga.
Lahiri: How is adhikara recognized?
Babaji: One is eligible for vaidhi-bhakti when one desires to worship Bhagavan according to the rules and regulations of the sastra, and has not yet experienced the principle of spontaneous attraction (raga) in his atma. One is eligible for raganuga-bhakti when a
spontaneous inclination for hari-bhajana has awakened in his atma, and he does not wish to be subservient to the rules of sastra in his worship of Sri Hari.
Lahiri: Prabhu, please determine my adhikara, so that I may understand the principle of eligibility. I have not yet been able to grasp your analysis of vaidhi and raganuga-bhakti.
Babaji: If you examine your heart, you will understand your own eligibility. Do you think that bhajana is not feasible without adhering to the tenets of sastra?
Lahiri: I think that it would be most beneficial to engage in sadhana and bhajana according to the rules outlined in the sastra. Nowadays, however, it has occurred to me that hari-bhajana is an ocean of rasa. Gradually by the power of bhajana, I will be able to taste that rasa.
Babaji: You can now understand that the rules of sastra take precedence in your heart. Therefore, you should adopt the practice of vaidhi-bhakti. In due course, the principle of raga will be awakened in your heart.
On hearing this, Lahiri Mahasaya touched Babaji Maharaja’s feet. With tears in his eyes he said, “Please be merciful and instruct me in that for which I am eligible. I don’t want to discuss or contemplate anything for which I am not qualified.”
Babaji Mahasaya embraced him and told him to sit down.
Lahiri then humbly said, “Please instruct me clearly as to which type of bhajana I should perform.”
“You should practice hari-nama,” replied Babaji Maharaja decisively. “Sri-nama
bhajana is more powerful than all other forms of bhajana. There is no difference between nama, the holy name, and nami, Bhagavan, who possesses the holy name. If you chant nama
without offense, you will very quickly attain all perfection. All nine forms of bhajana are automatically carried out when performing nama-bhajana. When one utters sri-nama, he is engaged in both hearing and chanting. As one chants, one also remembers the pastimes of Hari, and within the mind one serves His lotus feet, worships Him, offers prayers to Him, serves Him in the mood of a servant or friend, and offers one’s very self to Him.”
Lahiri: My heart has become intensely eager. O Master, please don’t delay in bestowing your mercy upon me.
Babaji told him, “You should always chant these names without offense:
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
As he recited these names, Babaji placed a tulasi mala in Lahiri Mahasaya’s hands.
As he uttered the names and caressed the beads of the mala meditatively, Lahiri Mahasaya wept. “Prabhu,” he said, “I cannot describe the happiness I have experienced today.” Saying this, he fell unconscious at Babaji Mahasaya’s feet due to intense joy, but the Babaji caught him carefully. After a long period, Lahiri Mahasaya regained consciousness and said, “Today I feel myself blessed. I have never before experienced such happiness.”
Babaji Mahasaya said, “O great soul, you are indeed blessed, for you have faithfully accepted sri-hari-nama. You have also rendered me fortunate.”
From then on, Lahiri Mahasaya was able to stay in his kutira without fear, and he began to chant sri-nama on his mala. A number of days passed in this way. He now applied tilaka to the twelve parts of his upper body and would eat nothing unoffered to Sri Krsna. He daily chanted two lakhas (two hundred thousand) names on his japa-mala. Whenever he saw a pure Vaisnava, he would at once offer dandavat-pranama. Every day, before attending to other duties, he would offer dandavat-pranama to Paramahamsa Babaji. He always served his Gurudeva, and he no longer had any taste for mundane talks, or for displaying his mastery in singing. He was not the same Lahiri Mahasaya as before; he had become a Vaisnava.
One day after offering dandavat-pranama to Vaisnava dasa, Babaji Lahiri inquired, “Prabhu, what is prayojana-tattva?”
Babaji answered, “The jiva’s ultimate goal, known as prayojanatattva, is krsna-prema. When one practices sadhana constantly, bhava eventually manifests, and when bhava is fully developed and complete, it is called prema. Prema is the eternal function of the jiva, his eternal wealth, and his eternal goal. Only in the absence of prema does the jiva undergo various sufferings in material entanglement. There is nothing greater than prema, for Krsna is controlled only by prema. Prema is the complete spiritual tattva. When ananda, spiritual ecstasy, becomes extremely thick and condensed, it is known as prema.”
Lahiri: (weeping) Can I become a fit candidate for receiving prema?”
Babaji embraced Lahiri Mahasaya and said, “In only a few days you have converted your sadhana-bhakti into bhava-bhakti, and very soon Krsna will certainly bestow His mercy upon you.”
Hearing this, Lahiri Mahasaya became choked up with bliss, and rolled on the ground at Babaji Mahasaya’s feet, exclaiming, “Ah! There is nothing except guru. Alas! What was I doing all this time? Gurudeva! You have mercifully rescued me from the dark well of
THUS ENDS THE FOURTH CHAPTER OF JAIVA-DHARMA,
“VAISNAVA-DHARMA IS NITYA-DHARMA”