After taking his meal, Vrajanatha retired to bed with various conflicting views about acintya-bhedabheda (the doctrine of inconceivable oneness and difference) arising in his heart. Sometimes he thought that acintya-bhedabheda-tattva was just another kind of Mayavada philosophy, but when he reconsidered the teaching seriously, he realized that there was no objection in sastra to it. On the contrary, it contained the essence of all sastras. “Srimad Gaura Kisora is the complete manifestation of Bhagavan Himself, and His profound teachings cannot possibly be faulty in any way,” he said to himself. “I will never give up the lotus feet of that extremely kind and affectionate Gaura Kisora. But alas! What have I attained so far? I have come to understand that acintya-bhedabhedatattva is the ultimate truth, but what have I gained through this knowledge? Sri Raghunatha dasa Babaji has said that priti (love) is the sadhya of life for all jivas. Karmis and jnanis are also searching for love, but they are ignorant about suddha-priti. That is why I must reach the stage of unadulterated love, but my only concern is, how may I achieve it? I will inquire from Babaji Mahasaya about this subject, and adopt his principles.” Thinking like this, Vrajanatha fell asleep.
Since Vrajanatha went to sleep quite late, he also awoke late the next morning. The sun had already risen when he rose from his bed, and he had hardly finished his morning ablutions when his maternal uncle Vijaya Kumara Bhattacarya Mahasaya arrived from Sri Modadruma. Vrajanatha was very pleased to see his uncle after so many days. He offered him dandavat-pranama, and respectfully offered him a seat.
Vijaya Kumara was a great scholar and orator of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and he would travel considerable distances to give Bhagavatam discourses. By the mercy of Sri Narayana, he had developed staunch faith in his heart in Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Some days previously, he had the good fortune of obtaining darsana of Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura in a village by the name of Denuda. Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura had ordered him to visit the inconceivable Yoga-pitha of Sridhama Mayapura, where Sri Sacinandana Gaura Hari’s acintya-lila eternally takes place. He also informed him that soon most of the holy places of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s pastimes would soon disappear, and would reappear after four hundred years. He said that the places of Sri Gaura’s pastimes were essentially non-different from Sri Vrndavana, the holy place of Krsna’s lila; and that only those who can perceive the transcendental nature of Sri Mayapura can truly have darsana of Sri Vrndavana. Hearing these words of Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura, the incarnation of Sri Vyasadeva, Vijaya Kumara became very eager to take darsana of Sridhama Mayapura, and decided to go there after visiting his sister and nephew in Bilva-puskarini.
These days, the villages of Bilva-puskarini and Brahma-puskarini are somewhat distant from each other, but in those days, they were immediately adjacent, and the boundary of Bilva-puskarini was within a mile of Sridhama Mayapura Yoga-pitha. The old village of Bilva-puskarini is abandoned these days, and is known by the names Tota and Taranvasa.
When uncle and nephew had exchanged pleasantries, Vijaya Kumara said, “Tell Grandmother that I am going to take darsana of Sridhama Mayapura, and that I will be back soon and take my afternoon meal here.”
“Uncle, why do you want to visit Mayapura?” asked Vrajanatha. Vijaya Kumara was at that time unaware of Vrajanatha’s present condition – he had only heard that Vrajanatha had given up his study of nyaya-sastra, and was now studying Vedanta-sutra – so he did not consider it appropriate to describe his devotional sentiments to him. Instead, he hid his real motive, and said, “I have to meet someone in Mayapura.”
Vrajanatha was aware that his uncle was not only a great scholar of Srimad-Bhagavatam, but also a devotee of Sri Gaura, so he guessed that he must have some spiritual purpose in visiting Sridhama Mayapura. “Uncle,” he said, “a very faithful and elevated Vaisnava called Srila Raghunatha dasa Babaji resides in Mayapura. You must have some discussion with him.”
Encouraged by Vrajanatha’s words Vijaya Kumara said, “Are you developing faith in the Vaisnavas these days? I heard that you have given up the study of nyaya-sastra and were studying Vedanta, but now I see that you are entering into the path of bhakti, so I need not hide anything from you. The fact is that Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura Mahasaya has ordered me to have darsana of Sri Yoga-pitha at Sri Mayapura, so I have decided to take bath in the waters of Sri Ganga-devi, and then circumambulate and take darsana of Sri Yoga-pitha. Then at Srivasangana, I shall roll to my heart’s content in the dust of the Vaisnavas’ lotus feet.”
Vrajanatha said,” Uncle! Please take me along with you. Let’s meet with mother, and then leave for Mayapura.”
Deciding thus, they informed Vrajanatha’s mother, and left for Mayapura. First they took bath in the Ganga, and Vijaya Kumara exclaimed, “Aha! Today my life has become successful. At this ghata Sri Sacinandana Gaurahari bestowed unlimited mercy upon Jahnavi-devi by performing His water pastimes here for twentyfour years. While bathing in these sacred waters today I am feeling paramananda.” When Vrajanatha heard Vijaya Kumara speak these words in an inspired mood, he spoke with a melted heart: “Uncle, today I am also blessed by your mercy.”
After Ganga snana, they visited Mahaprabhu’s birthplace at the home of Jagannatha Misra. There, by the mercy of Sri Dhama, they became completely immersed in a mood of deep spiritual love and their bodies became drenched with tears. Vijaya Kumara said, “If one takes birth in this land of Gaura, but does not visit this Maha Yoga-pitha, one’s life is useless. Just see how this holy place seems to material eyes to appear as any ordinary piece of land, covered by straw huts, but by Gauranga’s mercy see what beauty and opulence is visible to us! Look! How high and splendid are these bejeweled mansions! How inviting are these lovely gardens! How attractive to the eyes are these places of worship! Look, here Sri Gauranga and Visnu-priya are standing inside the house. O What an enchanting form! What an enchanting form!”
As he said this, they both fell down and lost consciousness. After quite some time, they recovered with the help of some other devotees, and entered Srivasangana. Tears flowed from their eyes, and they rolled on the ground, exclaiming, “Ha Srivasa! Ha Advaita! Ha Nityananda! Ha Gadadhara-Gauranga! Please give us Your mercy! Free us from false pride, and give us the shelter of Your lotus feet!”
All the Vaisnavas there became very joyful when they saw such emotions in the two brahmanas. They began to dance, chanting loudly, “Mayapura Candra ki jaya! Ajita Gauranga ki jaya! Sri Nityananda Prabhu ki jaya!” Vrajanatha immediately offered his body at the lotus feet of his worshipable spiritual master, Sri Raghunatha dasa Babaji Maharaja. The elderly Babaji picked him up and embraced him, asking, “Baba! What brings you here at this time today? And who is this respectable mahajana with you?”
Vrajanatha humbly told him everything, and the Vaisnavas
seated them with utmost respect. Vijaya Kumara then inquired
submissively from Srimad Raghunatha dasa Babaji Maharaja,
“Prabhu, by what means can the ultimate aim (prayojana) for all
jivas be achieved? Please be merciful, and tell us how we can attain
Babaji: You are suddha-bhaktas, and everything is within your grasp. Still, since you have mercifully asked, I will explain whatever little I know. Krsna-bhakti which is free from any trace of jnana and karma is the prayojana (ultimate aim) for all jivas, and it is also the means of attainment. During the stage of spiritual practice (sadhana-avastha) it is called sadhana-bhakti, and in the liberated stage (siddha-avastha), it is called devotional service performed in prema-bhakti (pure love).
Vijaya: What are the intrinsic characteristics (svarupa-laksana) of bhakti?
Babaji: By the order of Sriman Mahaprabhu, Sri Rupa Gosvami has described the intrinsic characteristics of bhakti in Sri Bhaktirasamrta-sindhu (1.1.11) as follows:
anukulyena krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama
Uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service, is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the benefit of Sri Krsna, in other words, the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krsna, performed through all endeavors of body, mind, and speech, and through expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas). It is not covered by jnana (knowledge of nirvisesa-brahma, aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), yoga or austerities; and it is completely free from all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krsna.
This sutra very clearly describes both the svarupa-laksana (intrinsic characteristics) and the tatastha-laksana (extrinsic symptoms) of bhakti. The word uttama-bhakti refers to pure devotional service. Devotional service mixed with fruitive activity (karma- misra bhakti) and devotional service mixed with speculative knowledge (jnana-misra bhakti) are not pure devotional service. The aim of devotional service mixed with fruitive activity (karma-misra bhakti) is sense gratification, and the aim of devotional service mixed with speculative knowledge (jnana-misra bhakti) is liberation. Only such devotional service free from any trace of desire for fruitive results or liberation is uttama-bhakti (pure devotional service).
The fruit of bhakti is prema. The svarupa-laksana of bhakti is endeavors favorable for Krsna (krsnanusilanam) performed with body, mind and speech, and loving attitude of mind (pritimaya-manasa). Such endeavors (cesta) and spiritual sentiments (bhavas) are both favorable (anukulya) and constantly dynamic. By the mercy of Krsna and His bhaktas, when the special function of the internal energy of Bhagavan manifests upon the jiva’s own spiritual strength, then the true form (svarupa) of bhakti takes birth.
In the present state, the jiva’s body, mind and speech are all materially afflicted. When the jiva directs them by his own discrimination, the result is only dry speculation and renunciation, and the true nature of bhakti does not manifest through them. However, when Krsna’s svarupa-sakti becomes active in the jiva’s body, mind and speech, the nature of pure bhakti immediately becomes manifest. The ultimate aim of all spiritual activities is Sri Krsna, and that is why real devotional activity must be favorable towards Krsna. Endeavors performed for realization of brahma and Paramatma are not accepted as pure bhakti. Rather, they are aspects of speculative knowledge (jnana) and fruitive activities (karma) respectively. There are two types of endeavors: those that are favorable, and those that are unfavorable. Only favorable activities are considered to be devotional service.
The word anukulyena means the tendency to be favorably disposed towards Krsna. This tendency has some connection with the material world during the period of devotional practices. (sadhana-kala), but in the liberated stage (siddha-kala) it is utterly pure, free from any connection with the material world. The characteristics of bhakti are the same in both these stages. Therefore, the intrinsic characteristics of bhakti are endeavors for the cultivation of Krsna consciousness performed with favorable sentiments. While we are discussing the intrinsic characteristics (svarupalaksana) of bhakti, it is also necessary to describe its extrinsic characteristics (tatastha-laksana). Srila Rupa Gosvami has explained that there are two tatastha-laksana. The first is having no other desires, and the second is freedom from the covering of jnana, karma and other such endeavors. Any ambition other than the desire for progress in bhakti goes against bhakti, and comes in the category of other desires. Jnana, karma, yoga and renunciation are said to be antagonistic to bhakti when they are strong enough to cover the heart. Therefore, pure bhakti may be described as the cultivation of activities that are favorably disposed to Sri Krsna, free from both the above antagonistic characteristics.
Vijaya: What are the various distinctive characteristics of bhakti?
Babaji: In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.1.17), Srila Rupa Gosvami has described the following six special characteristics of bhakti:
klesa-ghni subhada moksa-laghuta-krt sudurlabha
sandrananda-visesatma sri-krsnakarsini ca sa
1. klesa-ghni – She destroys all kinds of distress.
2. subhada – She awards all kinds of good fortune.
3. moksa-laghuta-krt – She makes krt, the pleasure of impersonal liberation appear laghuta – insignificant.
4. sudurlabha – She is rarely achieved.
5. sandrananda-visesatma – Her nature is embued with the most intense and superlative pleasure.
6. sri-krsna-akarsini – She is the sole means to attract Sri Krsna.
Vijaya: How does bhakti destroy distress?
Babaji: There are three kinds of klesa (distress): sin itself (papa), sin in its seed-form (papa-bija), and ignorance (avidya). Sinful activity is classified as pataka (sinful), maha-pataka (very sinful) and atipataka (extremely sinful). All these are considered papa. People in whose hearts suddha-bhakti has manifested are naturally not inclined to become involved in sinful activities (papa). The desire to commit sins, which is called papa-bija, cannot remain in a heart filled with bhakti. Avidya means ignorance of one’s spiritual identity. When suddha-bhakti first dawns within the heart, the jiva understands very clearly, “I am a servant of Krsna,” and ignorance disappears altogether. This means that as Bhakti-devi, the goddess of bhakti, spreads her effulgence, the darkness of papa, papa-bija and avidya are expelled from one’s heart. On the auspicious arrival of bhakti, all sorts of distress go far away. That is why bhakti is klesa-ghni. Vijaya: How is bhakti subha da?
Babaji: In this world, all types of affection, all good qualities, and all the different types of pleasures are considered subha (auspicious). One in whose heart pure bhakti has manifested is endowed with four qualities; humility, compassion, freedom from pride, and giving honor to others. For this reason the whole world bestows affection upon him. All kinds of sad-gunas are automatically manifested in suddha-bhaktas. Bhakti is capable of giving all kinds of pleasure. If one desires, she can give material enjoyment, the happiness of merging into the impersonal brahma (nirvisesabrahma-sukha), all kinds of mystical powers (siddhis), sense gratification and liberation.
Vijaya: How does bhakti make even the pleasure of impersonal liberation
seem insignificant (moksa-laghuta-krt)?
Babaji: If even a little love for the Supreme (bhagavad-rati) has manifested in one’s heart, dharma (religion), artha (economic development), kama (sense gratification) and moksa (liberation) naturally appear insignificant.
Vijaya: And why is it said that bhakti is rarely achieved (sudurlabha)?
Babaji: This matter should be understood carefully. Bhakti will remain elusive so long as one performs devotional service improperly, even if one engages in millions of different spiritual practices (sadhana). Apart from that, Bhakti-devi satisfies the majority of people with only impersonal liberation; she does not give bhakti unless she sees that the practitioner is highly qualified. It is for these two reasons that bhakti is rarely achieved. The sadhana of cultivating jnana definitely leads one to liberation in the form of merging into the non-dual brahma, which is the very form of knowledge. It is also easy to get material sense gratification by performing pious deeds like yajna and other such activities. However, if one does not practice bhakti-yoga, one cannot achieve bhakti to Sri Hari, even by performing millions of spiritual practices.
Vijaya: Why has bhakti been described as the superlative form of
Babaji: Bhakti is eternal spiritual happiness, and that is why the performance of bhakti places one in an ocean of bliss. If one combines all the different types of worldly material pleasure, adds the pleasure of merging into brahma (which is the negation of this material world), and multiplies it all tens of millions of times, the resultant pleasure still cannot compare to a single drop of the ocean of the bliss of devotional service. Material pleasures are utterly trivial, and the pleasure that appears by negating material pleasure (mukti) is very dry. Both these pleasures are different in nature from the bliss of the spiritual world. One cannot compare two things that are altogether different in character. Therefore, those who have developed some taste for the bliss of performing bhakti find the pleasure of merging into nirvisesa-brahma to be as insignificant as the water in a cow’s hoof-print. Only those who have experienced this pleasure can understand it; others cannot grasp or discuss it.
Vijaya: How does bhakti attract the all-attractive Sri Krsna (srikrsna-akarsini)?
Babaji: Sri Krsna, together with all His loved ones, becomes forcibly attracted and controlled by a person within whose heart Bhakti-devi has appeared. Krsna cannot be controlled or attracted
Vijaya: If bhakti is so sublimely potent, why do those who study many sastras not try to achieve her?
Babaji: Bhakti and Sri Krsna are beyond all material boundaries, so human intelligence cannot reach Them, because it is gross and limited. However, one can easily understand the essence of devotional service (bhakti-tattva) if he has developed even a slight taste by the influence of pious deeds accumulated in the past. No one but the most fortunate jivas can understand bhakti-tattva. Vijaya: Why does material logic carry no weight?
Babaji: Logic does not have the qualities necessary for understanding spiritual pleasures. It is said,
naisa tarkena matir apaneya / proktanyenaiva su-jnanaya prestha
Katha Upanisad (1.2.9)
My dearest Naciketa, it is not proper to use argument to destroy the wisdom of the Absolute Truth that you have received.
Then it is also said, tarkapratisthanat (Vedanta-sutra 2.1.11):
“Logic is useless for establishing any vastu (real substance), because what one person establishes by logic and argument today, a more expert logician will refute tomorrow.” That is why it is said that logic carries no respect. All these statements of the Vedanta establish that logic cannot explain spiritual matters.
Vrajanatha: Is there any stage of bhakti between sadhana-bhakti and
Babaji: Yes, certainly. There are three stages of development of
bhakti: sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti, and prema-bhakti.
Vrajanatha: What are the characteristics of sadhana-bhakti?
Babaji: Bhakti is one; the differences are between the different stages of development. As long as bhakti is performed by the conditioned jiva by means of his senses, it is called sadhana-bhakti. Vrajanatha: You have explained that prema-bhakti is an eternally perfect mood (nitya-siddha-bhava), so why is it necessary to practice in order to attain a sentiment that is eternally perfect? Babaji: Nitya-siddha-bhava is not actually something to be gained from elsewhere (sadhya); that is, it cannot be produced by sadhana. Sadhana is a name given to the practice of manifesting bhava in the heart.1 As long as it is not manifested in the heart (due to being covered), one will have to perform sadhana. In reality, this bhava is nitya-siddha (eternally present in the heart).
1 krti-sadhya bhavet sadhya-bhava sa sadhanabhidha
nitya-siddhasya bhavasya prakatyam hrdi sadhyata
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu,Purva Lahiri (2.2)
Sadhana-bhakti, or the regulative discharge of devotional service, is the practice performed with the present senses, by which bhava (transcendental loving service for Krsna) is attained. This bhava exists eternally within the heart of every jiva, and it is the potentiality of sadhana-bhakti to awaken it.
sravanadi kriya tara svarupa-laksana
tatastha-laksane upajaya prema-dhana
nitya-siddha krsna-prema ‘sadhya’ kabhu naya sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya Lila (22.106,107)
The intrinsic characteristics of bhajana are the spiritual activities of hearing, chanting, remembering and so on. Its marginal characteristic is that it awakens krsna-prema.
Krsna-prema is eternally established in the hearts of all jivas. It is not something to be gained from another source. This love naturally awakens when the heart is purified by hearing and chanting.
Vrajanatha: Will you please explain this principle more elaborately?
Babaji: Certainly prema-bhakti is nitya-siddha (eternally perfect), because it is a manifestation of Bhagavan’s internal sakti, but it is not evident in the heart of the conditioned jiva. Spiritual practice (sadhana) consists of the efforts of body, mind, and speech to make it appear in the heart. As long as bhava is not actually attained during the period of sadhana, it is considered a sentiment that is achieved by practice, but its eternal perfection becomes evident as soon as it manifests itself in the heart.
Vrajanatha: What is the distinguishing characteristic feature of
Babaji: Sadhana-bhakti is any method that trains the mind to become Krsna conscious.
Vrajanatha: How many kinds of sadhana-bhakti are there?
Babaji: There are two kinds: vaidhi and raganuga.
Vrajanatha: What is vaidhi-bhakti?
Babaji: The jiva’s spiritual propensity is manifest in two ways. The regulations found in the codes of sastra are called vidhi, and the inclination that has its origin in this vidhi is called vaidhi-pravrtti (the tendency to follow sastra), and bhakti that is caused by the discipline of sastra is called vaidhi-bhakti, because it has its origin in vaidhi-pravrtti.
Vrajanatha: I will inquire about the characteristics of spontaneous attraction (raga) a little later. Now will you kindly describe the characteristics of vidhi?
Babaji: The sastras have prescribed regulative duties called vidhi, and have prohibited certain forbidden activities (nisedha). The prescribed duty (vaidha-dharma) for the jivas is to follow all the regulations and to avoid all the prohibited activities.
Vrajanatha: From your explanation, it seems as if vaidha-dharma consists of the rules and regulations of all the sastras, but the jivas of Kali-yuga are weak and short-lived, so they cannot study the prescriptions and prohibitions of all the sastras, and then ascertain vaidha-dharma. Do the sastras indicate how we can determine vidhinisedha briefly and practically?
Babaji: It is written in Padma Purana (42.103) and Naradapancaratra (4.2.23):
smarttavyah satatam visnur vismarttavyo na jatucit
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah
Always remember Visnu, and never forget Him. All the other prohibitions and recommendations are servitors of these two instructions.
The purport is that the arrangement of all the various kinds of vidhi and nisedha within the sastras are based on these two basic sentences. Duty (vidhi) is ascertained to be that which makes one constantly remember Bhagavan, and forbidden activities (nisedha) are those that make one forget Him. “Remember Bhagavan Sri Visnu constantly throughout your life,” this is the basic prescription (vidhi), and the arrangements of varnasrama and so on for the maintenance of the jivas are subject to it. “Never forget Krsna,” this (nisedha) is the basic prohibition. Everything else – such as abandoning sinful activities, avoiding the tendency to divert one’s attention from Krsna (krsna-bahirmukhata), and atoning for sinful activities – are all subordinate to this basic vidhi-nisedha. Therefore, all the rules and prohibitions described in the sastras are eternal servants of the rule to remember Krsna constantly, and the prohibition is to never forget Him. It follows that the regulation to remember Krsna is the fundamental principle amongst all the regulations of varnasrama and other such institutions.
mukha-bahuru-padebhyah purusasyasramaih saha
catvaro jajnire varna gunair vipradayah prthak
ya esam purusam saksad atma-prabhavam isvaram
na bhajanty avajananti sthanad bhrastah patanty adhah
Sri Camasa said, “The brahmanas came into existence from the mouth of the primordial Sri Visnu, the ksatriyas from His arms, the vaisyas from His thighs, and the sudras from His feet. These four varnas were born along with their particular characteristics, as were the four specific asramas. A person living amongst these varnas and asramas becomes intoxicated by his high social position (varna) and spiritual position (asrama), and fails to worship his istadeva, Bhagavan Sri Visnu, or even disrespects Him. Such a person falls down from his position in the system of varna and asrama, loses all his prestige, and takes birth in the lower species.”
Vrajanatha: Why doesn’t everyone who follows the regulations of varnasrama practice krsna-bhakti?
Babaji: Srila Rupa Gosvami explains that amongst all those who follow the regulations of sastra, only those who develop faith in bhakti are eligible to engage in bhakti. They are not attracted towards the regulations of material life, nor do they renounce material life. Rather, they follow the ways of ordinary civilized life to maintain their livelihood, and at the same time practice the sadhana of suddha-bhakti with faith. A civilized jiva becomes qualified to engage in bhakti as a result of sukrti accumulated in the course of many lives. There are three types of such faithful people: the kanistha (neophyte), the madhyama (intermediate bhakta), and the uttama (highly exalted bhakta).
Vrajanatha: It is said in Bhagavad-gita that four kinds of people perform bhakti: artta (those who are distressed), jijnasu (the inquisitive), artharthi (those who desire wealth), and jnanis (those who are searching for knowledge of the Absolute). What kind of bhakti are they qualified for?
Babaji: When they associate with saintly sadhus, their distress, their inquisitiveness, their desire for wealth, and their desire for knowledge are removed, and they develop faith in unalloyed devotional service. Then they immediately become qualified for engaging in bhakti. The prominent examples of this are Gajendra, Saunaka and the other rsis in Naimisaranya, Dhruva, and the four Kumaras respectively.
Vrajanatha: Do devotees attain liberation at all?
Babaji: There are five kinds of liberation: salokya, to live on the same planet as Bhagavan; sarsti, to have the same opulences as Bhagavan; samipya, to have constant association with Bhagavan; sarupya, to obtain bodily features similar to Bhagavan’s; and sayujya, to become one with Bhagavan. Bhaktas of Sri Krsna do not accept sayujya-mukti at any cost, because it is blatantly opposed to the principles of bhakti. Salokya, sarsti, samipya and sarupya are not fully opposed to bhakti, but they still retain some adverse elements. The bhaktas of Krsna also completely reject these four kinds of liberation that are manifested in Sri Narayana’s abode.
In some circumstances, these forms of liberation provide comforts and opulences, whereas in their matured stages they guide one towards prema-bhakti. If their ultimate result is only comfort and opulence, bhaktas should simply reject them. What to speak of liberation, even Narayana’s prasada does not appeal to the unalloyed bhaktas of Sri Krsna. Sri Narayana and Sri Krsna have the same fundamental form and nature (svarupa) from the point of view of siddhanta, but from the viewpoint of rasa, Sri Krsna’s superexcellent glory is an eternal fact.
Vrajanatha: Is it only those who are born in Aryan families and who follow the regulations of varnasrama who are eligible to engage in bhakti?
Babaji: The entire human race is qualified to attain eligibility for
Vrajanatha: In that case, it seems that people who are situated in varnasrama have to follow two sets of duties – the regulations of varnasrama, and the rules of suddha-bhakti – whereas those situated outside varnasrama have only one duty, which is to follow the limbs (angas) of bhakti. This means that people situated in varnasrama have to endeavor more, because they have to follow both the material regulations and the spiritual regulations. Why is this?
Babaji: A bhakta who is qualified for suddha-bhakti may be situated in varnasrama, but his only duty is to follow the anga of bhakti, and then all his worldly duties are fulfilled automatically. There is no fault in neglecting worldly duties where they are independent of bhakti, or opposed to it. A qualified bhakta is by his very nature not inclined to neglect prescribed duties or to perform forbidden activities. If in spite of this he accidentally commits some sinful activity, he does not have to perform the penances that are prescribed in the rules governing karma. When bhakti resides in the heart, sins that the bhakta commits by chance do not create a lasting impression, and they are destroyed very easily and quickly. That is why bhaktas do not need to perform any separate penance.
Vrajanatha: How can a qualified bhakta repay his debts to the devatas and others?
Babaji: It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam that those who are under the shelter of Bhagavan are not indebted to anyone.
na kinkaro nayam rni ca rajan
sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam
gato mukundam parihrtya karttam
One who completely surrenders to Bhagavan Mukunda, the affectionate protector of the surrendered souls, no longer remains indebted to the devatas, forefathers, other living beings, kinsmen, or guests. He is not subordinate to anyone, and he is not obliged to serve anyone.
The purport of the final instruction of Bhagavad-gita (18.66) is that Sri Krsna releases one from all sins if he gives up all sorts of duties and comes to His shelter. The essence of the Gita is that when a person becomes qualified for unalloyed bhakti, he is no longer obliged to follow the regulations of jnana-sastra and karmasastra. On the contrary, he attains all perfection simply by following the path of bhakti. That is why Sri Krsna declares, na me bhaktah pranasyati: “My bhakta is never vanquished.” Therefore, this promise of Sri Krsna should be held above all.
When Vijaya Kumara and Vrajanatha heard these words, they said, “We have no further doubts in our hearts concerning bhakti. We have understood that jnana and karma are of little consequence, and that without the mercy of Bhakti-devi, there is no auspiciousness for the jiva. Prabhu, now please be merciful, and make our lives successful by telling us about the angas of suddha-bhakti.”
Babaji: Vrajanatha, you have heard Dasa-mula as far as the eighth sloka. You may relate them to your uncle later. I feel very satisfied to see him. Now listen to the ninth sloka:
srutih krsnakhyanam smarana-nati-puja-vidhi-ganah
tatha dasyam sakhyam paricaranam apy atma-dadanam
navangany etaniha vidhi-gata-bhakter anudinam
bhajan sraddha-yuktah suvimala-ratim vai sa labhate
One should perform bhajana of the nine processes of vaidhibhakti, namely, hearing, chanting, remembering, offering prayers, worshiping, serving Krsna’s lotus feet, acting as Krsna’s servant, becoming Krsna’s friend, and surrendering oneself fully to Sri Krsna. One who with faith daily practices bhajana in this way certainly achieves pure krsnarati.
Sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, vandanam, pada-sevanam,arcanam, dasyam, sakhyam and atma-nivedanam: those who daily practice these nine limbs of vaidhi-bhakti with faith attain pure love of Sri Krsna. Hearing (sravana) takes place when the descriptions of Krsna’s transcendental holy name, form, qualities and pastimes come in contact with the ears. There are two stages of sravana. The first stage is hearing descriptions of Krsna’s qualities in the association of suddha-bhaktas before developing sraddha. This type of sravana creates faith so that one develops a keen desire to hear sri-krsna-nama and His qualities. After one has developed such faith, one hears Krsna’s transcendental names and qualities with great eagerness from Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas, and that is the second kind of sravana. Sravana is one of the limbs of suddha-bhakti, and sravana in the perfected stage is manifested as a result of hearing from guru and Vaisnavas in the stage of spiritual practice. Sravana is the first anga of bhakti.
Kirtana takes place when sri-hari-nama and the descriptions of His form, qualities and pastimes come in contact with the tongue. There are many different varieties of kirtana, such as discussions of Sri Krsna’s pastimes, describing sri-krsna-nama, reading from sastra to others, attracting others to Krsna by singing about Him, uttering entreaties to invoke His mercy, proclaiming His glories to others, chanting bhajanas in praise of the Deity, offering prayers, and so on. Kirtana has been described as superior to all the other nine angas of bhakti, and this is especially true in Kali-yuga, when kirtana alone can bestow auspiciousness upon everyone. This is stated in all sastras:
dhyayan krte yajan yajnais tretayam dvapare ’rcayan
yad apnoti tad apnoti kalau sankirtya kesavam
Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda (72.25)
Whatever is achieved in Satya-yuga by meditation, in Tretayuga by the performance of yajna, and in Dvapara-yuga by worshiping Krsna’s lotus feet is also obtained in the age of Kali simply by chanting and glorifying Sri Kesava.
No other method purifies the heart as effectively as hari-kirtana.When many devotees perform kirtana together, it is called sankirtana.
Remembering Krsna’s name, form, qualities and pastimes is called smaranam, of which there are five kinds. Smaranam means to contemplate some subject that has previously been heard of, or experienced. Dharana means to fix the mind on a particular subject, withdrawing it from other objects. Dhyanam means to meditate on a specific form. When dhyanam is unbroken like the continuous flow of a stream of precious oil, it is called dhruvanusmrti, and samadhi is the state in which one is oblivious to outside reality, and only aware of the objects of meditation in one’s heart. Sravanam, kirtana and smaranam are the three primary angas of bhakti, for all the other angas are included within them, and of these three angas, kirtana is the best and most important, because sravanam and smaranam can be included within it.
According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23):
sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam
Hearing and chanting about Sri Visnu’s transcendental name, form, qualities and so on; remembering them; serving His lotus feet; worshiping Him with sixteen types of paraphernalia; offering prayers to Him; becoming His servant; adopting a friendly mood towards Him; and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) – these nine are accepted as suddha-bhakti.
The fourth anga of bhakti is performing service (pada-seva or paricarya). Pada-seva must also be performed together with sravanam, kirtana and smaranam. One should perform pada-seva with a humble attitude, understanding that one is unqualified for the service. It is also essential to realize the object of service as sac-cid-ananda, the embodiment of eternity, knowledge and bliss. Pada-seva includes seeing the face of Sri Krsna’s Deity form, touching Him, circumambulating Him, following Him, and visiting holy places such as Sri Bhagavan’s temple, the Ganga, Jagannatha Puri, Dvaraka, Mathura, Navadvipa and so forth. Srila Rupa Gosvami has presented these in a very clear and vivid way in his description of the sixty-four angas of bhakti. Service to Sri Tulasi and suddhabhaktas is also included within this anga.
The fifth anga is worship (arcana). There are many considerations regarding qualification and methods of worship. If one is attracted to the path of arcana, even after being engaged in sravanam, kirtana and smaranam, then one should perform arcana after properly accepting diksa-mantra from Sri Gurudeva.
Vrajanatha: What is the difference between nama and mantra?
Babaji: Sri Hari’s name is the life and soul of mantra. The rsis have added words such as namah (‘obeisances’) to sri-hari-nama, and disclosed its specific power. Sri-hari-nama by nature has nothing to do with this material world, whereas the jiva, because of various bodily designations provided by maya, is entrapped by objects consisting of dead matter. Consequently, in order to detach the jiva’s mind from sense objects, different principles of arcana have been established on the path of regulated devotional service (maryada-marga). It is essential for materialistic people to accept diksa. When one chants the Krsna mantra, siddha-sadhya-susiddhaari are not considered.2
Initiation into the exclusive chanting of the Krsna mantra is extremely beneficial for the jiva, for of all the different mantras in the world, the krsna-mantra is the most powerful. A bona fide disciple receives strength from Krsna immediately when a bona fide spiritual master initiates him into this mantra. After initiation, Gurudeva educates the inquiring disciple concerning the performance of arcana. Briefly, arcana-marga includes the observance of Sri Krsna’s Appearance Day, fasting in Karttika month, observing Ekadasi, taking bath in the month of Magha, and other such activities. One should also understand that one must certainly worship Krsna’s bhaktas as well as Krsna Himself on the path of arcana.
2 Gurudeva will give initiation to his disciple after performing the process for purifying him of the four defects of siddha, sadhya, susiddha and ari (enemy). One may consult Hari-bhakti-vilasa, First Vilasa, Anuccheda 52- 103 regarding these four defects and their remedial measures. But in chanting the king of all mantras, the krsna-mantra of eighteen letters (gopala -mantra), there is no need to consider these four defects, because the mantra is so powerful that these four defects are very insignificant in comparison. In Trailokya Sammohana-tantra, Mahadeva has said, astadasaksara mantram adhikrtya sri-sivenoktam na catra satrava doso varnesv adi-vicarana, and in Brhad-Gautamiya it is stated: siddha-sadhya-susiddhari-rupa natra vicarana, sarvesam siddhamantranam yato brahmaksaro manuh. Every single letter of this mantra is brahma. (Also see glossary).
The sixth anga of vaidhi-bhakti is offering prayers and obeisances (vandanam). This is included as part of pada-seva and kirtana, but it is still considered a separate anga of bhakti. Namaskara itself is also called vandanam. Ekanga-namaskara and paying obeisances
with eight parts of the body touching the ground (astanganamaskara) are two types of namaskara. It is considered offensive to offer obeisances with only one hand touching the ground; to offer obeisances when the body is covered with cloth, to offer obeisances behind the Deity; to offer prostrated obeisances with the body pointing directly towards the Deity, or with the right side towards the Deity and to offer obeisances in the garbha-mandira
Performing service (dasyam) is the seventh anga of bhakti. “I am Krsna’s servant” – this ego or conception of the self is dasyam, and bhajana performed with the sentiment of a servant is the topmost bhajana. Dasyam includes offering obeisances, reciting prayers, offering all of one’s activities, serving, keeping proper conduct, remembering and obeying orders (katha-sravanam).
The eighth anga of bhakti is serving as a friend (sakhyam), which includes the mood of kinship towards Krsna with the endeavors for His well being. There are two kinds of sakhyam: friendship in vaidhi-bhakti and friendship in raganuga-bhakti, but Sri Prahlada’s sloka refers to vaidhanga-sakhyam; for example, the feeling of sakhyam while serving the Deity is vaidha-sakhyam.
The ninth anga is known as atma-nivedanam, which means offering the whole self – body, mind and pure atma – to Sri Krsna. The characteristics of atma-nivedanam are exclusive endeavor for Krsna, and lack of activity for one’s own self-interest. It is also characteristic of atma-nivedanam that one lives to serve the desire of Krsna, and keeps one’s own desire subordinate to Krsna’s desire, just as a cow that has been purchased does not care for its own maintenance.
sa vai manah krsna-padaravindayor
karau harer mandira-marjanadisu
Ambarisa Maharaja engaged his mind in serving the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, his words in describing the qualities of Sri Bhagavan, his hands in cleaning Sri Hari’s temple, and his ears in hearing Acyuta’s blissful pastimes.
ghranam ca tat-pada-saroja-saurabhe
srimat-tulasyam rasanam tad-arpite
He engaged his eyes in seeing the Deity of Mukunda, different temples, and the holy places; all his bodily limbs in touching the bodies of Krsna’s bhaktas; his nostrils in smelling the divine smell of tulasi offered to Krsna’s lotus feet; and his tongue in tasting the prasada offered to Bhagavan.
padau hareh ksetra-padanusarpane
kamam ca dasye na tu kama-kamyaya
His feet were always engaged in walking to Bhagavan’s holy places, and he would pay obeisances to Sri Krsna’s lotus feet. Ambarisa Maharaja would offer garlands, sandal, bhoga and similar paraphernalia in Bhagavan’s service, not with the desire to enjoy himself, but to receive the love for Sri Krsna that is present only in His suddha-bhaktas.
When Vijaya Kumara and Vrajanatha heard Babaji Mahasaya’s very sweet and blissful instructions, they were overwhelmed with joy, and offered obeisances to him, saying, “Prabhu, you are directly Bhagavan’s personal associate. We are both blessed today by receiving your nectarean instructions. We were wasting our days in the useless pride of caste, family and high education. By dint of the wealth of sukrti accumulated in many previous lifetimes we have obtained your mercy.”
Vijaya: O most eminent of the bhagavatas, Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura ordered me to visit the Yoga-pitha at Sri Mayapura. By his mercy today I took darsana of that holy place, and also of a personal associate of Sri Bhagavan. If you will be so kind, I will come again tomorrow evening.
When the elderly Babaji heard Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura’s name, he immediately offered prostrated dandavats, and said, “I offer my respectful obeisances again and again to the incarnation of Vyasadeva in Sri Caitanya’s pastimes.”
Since it had become quite late in the morning, Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara then departed for Vrajanatha’s home.