Bhakti Tattva VivekaBhakti Tattva Viveka - Chapter Three

An Analysis of the Qualification for Bhakti

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura

karma-jñāna virāgādiceṣṭāṁ hitvā samantataḥ
śraddhāvān bhajate yaṁ śrī-caitanyam ahaṁ bhaje

“I worship Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is always served by faithful devotees who have completely given up the pursuits of fruitive activity, impersonal knowledge and dry renunciation.”

In the first chapter we discussed the intrinsic nature of unalloyed devotion, in the second chapter we discussed the intrinsic nature of bhaktiābhāsa or that which appears to be devotion but in fact is not, and in the third chapter we discussed the natural attributes of unalloyed devotion. In this chapter we will discuss the qualification (adhikāra) for śuddhabhakti. No one acquires anything without possessing the eligibility for it. This eligibility or qualification is the very foundation of success. When a devotee fully understands this, he will no longer remain doubtful concerning his eventual achievement of the ultimate goal. Many devotees think, “For a long time now I have been fully surrendered to my guru, I have accepted the dīkṣā-mantra from him, I am also engaged in hearing and chanting, but still I am not experiencing the desired result – what is the reason for this?” Gradually they become uninterested in their bhajana and in the end they become totally faithless. Sound knowledge of the proper qualification for bhakti can easily protect one from such doubts.

It should be carefully noted that the performance of devotional activities such as hearing and chanting and the resultant appearance of symptoms like the shedding of tears and trembling should not be accepted as true bhakti for anyone and everyone. Hence, in order to take shelter of unalloyed devotion, it is compulsory to analyse the proper qualification for it. The haribhajana performed by those who are eligible to perform karma and cultivate jñāna usually becomes a part of mere karma and jñāna. Therefore such people don’t obtain the auspicious fruit that is expected from the performance of bhajana. A devotee’s haribhajana becomes pure only when he obtains the proper qualification for unalloyed devotion, and when this happens, his bhajana will very quickly bear fruit in the form of bhāva. For this reason I have undertaken an analysis of this very important topic. Scholars quote the following verse from Bhagavad-gītā (7.16):

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ sukṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: My dear Arjuna, as a result of their accumulation of pious activities in innumerable lifetimes, four types of people engage in bhajana unto Me: those who are distressed, those who are inquisitive, those who desire wealth and those who possess spiritual knowledge. These four kinds of virtuous persons are qualified to perform bhajana unto Me.”

Those who are very anxious to eradicate their distress are called ārta. Those who are inquisitive to understand the absolute truth are called jijñāsu. Those who desire to attain material happiness are called arthārthī, and those who are realising spiritual truth at every moment are called jñānī. Though one may be ārta, jijñāsu, arthārthī or jñānī, unless one has some accumulated pious merit (sukṛti), he will not be inclined towards bhajana. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has defined sukṛti as “those activities in connection with transcendental personalities that give rise to an intense desire to perform bhakti.” There may be doubts concerning the existence of sukṛti in the ārtas, jijñāsus and arthārthīs, but in relation to the jñānīs there are no such doubts. It is a fact that those who possess spiritual knowledge certainly engage in bhajana after their abundant accumulation of sukṛti. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.20–1):

tatra gītādiṣūktānāṁ caturṇām adhikāriṇām
madhye yasmin bhagavataḥ kṛpā syāt tat-priyasya vā

sa kṣīṇa-tat-tad-bhāvaḥ syāc chuddha-bhakty-adhikāravān
yathebhaḥ śaunakādiś ca dhruvaḥ sa ca catuḥ-sanaḥ

“When the four types of persons who are eligible to engage in bhakti, as mentioned in Bhagavadgītā and other scriptures, receive the mercy of Bhagavān or His devotees, they become free from their particular motivations that are, respectively, the desire for relief from distress, the desire to have their inquisitiveness satisfied, the desire to obtain wealth and the attachment to impersonal knowledge. They then become rightful candidates for unalloyed devotion. This is clearly visible from the examples of Gajendra, the sages headed by Śaunaka, Dhruva Mahārāja and the four Kumāras.”

When Gajendra was seized by the crocodile and was unable to free himself despite innumerable strenuous efforts, he fervently prayed to Bhagavān. Then Bhagavān, the saviour of the distressed, appeared and delivered Gajendra by killing the crocodile. By the mercy of Bhagavān, Gajendra’s distress was removed and he became qualified for unalloyed devotion. Śaunaka and the other sages became very fearful upon the arrival of Kali-yuga. Understanding the inability of fruitive activity to yield any benefit, they approached the great devotee Sūta Gosvāmī and enquired how the people of this age could attain the ultimate benefit. In his reply Sūta Gosvāmī instructed them on pure devotion, and as a result of receiving his mercy in this way, they attained śuddha-bhakti. Dhruva Mahārāja worshipped Bhagavān motivated by the desire to attain an opulent kingdom. But when Bhagavān appeared before him, by Bhagavān’s mercy his desire for a kingdom vanished and he became qualified for pure bhakti. Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanandana and Sanat are the four Kumāras. Previously they were impersonalists, but later on, by the mercy of Bhagavān and His devotees, they completely rejected the conception of impersonalism and attained the qualification for śuddhabhakti.

The purport is that as long as all of them harboured desires within their hearts either for relief from their distress, to satisfy their inquisitiveness or to obtain wealth, or were attached to an impersonal conception of the absolute truth, they were ineligible for unalloyed devotion. Therefore, in relation to the qualification for pure bhakti, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has written (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.14):

yaḥ kenāpy ati-bhāgyena jāta-śraddho’sya sevane
nātisakto na vairāgyabhāgasyām adhikāry asau

“When one is not too attached to or detached from this material world and by some good fortune develops faith in the service of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, he is considered to possess the eligibility for unalloyed devotion.”

The purport is that when worldly people realise the futility of material existence after being afflicted by various types of distress and by suffering in the absence of their desired objects, they begin to lead their lives in a mood of detachment from the material world. If by some good fortune at such a time they acquire the association of Bhagavān’s devotees, they enquire from them and come to understand that there is no higher destination than the attainment of Bhagavān. Gradually they develop firm faith in this and engage in bhajana. At that time it can be said that they have developed faith in kṛṣṇabhakti. This very faith is the root cause of the eligibility for pure devotion, as confirmed by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s explanation (found in Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 172) of these verses from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.27–8):

jāta-śraddho mat-kathāsu nirviṇṇaḥ sarva-karmasu
veda duḥkhātmakān kāmān parityāge ’py anīśvaraḥ

tato bhajeta māṁ prītaḥ śraddhālur dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
juṣamāṇaś ca tān kāmān duḥkhodarkāṁś ca garhayan

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: My devotees, who have developed faith in hearing the narrations of My pastimes, remain detached from fruitive activities and try to accept the objects of the senses just enough to maintain their lives, knowing well that sense enjoyment leads to a miserable result. Still enduring the reactions to their previous activities and endeavouring to become free from the cycle of the pleasant and unpleasant results that arise from such activities, they sincerely regret those fruitive activities and silently condemn them. They simply tolerate the reactions to those activities while simultaneously remaining engaged in bhajana unto Me with firm faith and resolve.”

While explaining the above verses, which describe how a faithful devotee performs bhajana, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has commented in Bhaktisandarbha, “tad evam ananya-bhakty-adhikāre hetuṁ śraddhā-mātram uktvā sa yathā bhajeta tathā śikṣayati,” which means that faith is the sole cause of the qualification to perform exclusive devotion. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī also mentions, “śraddhā hi śāstrārtha-viśvāsaḥ. śāstraṁ ca tad aśaraṇasya bhayaṁ tac charaṇāsyābhayaṁ vadati. ato jātāyāḥ śraddhāyās tat śaraṇāpattir eva liṅgam iti,” which means that faith in the words of the scriptures is called śraddhā. The scriptures mention that those who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of Bhagavān have nothing to fear, but those who have not done so remain fearful. Thus, it can be understood from the symptoms of śaraṇāpatti (surrender) whether or not faith has developed within someone. What is śaraṇāpatti? Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī writes “jātāyāṁ śraddhāyāṁ sadā tad anuvṛtticeṣtaiva syāt” and “karma-parityāgo vidhīyate,” which mean that upon the appearance of faith, the constant endeavour to serve Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇānuvṛtticeṣṭā) is always visible in a person’s behaviour and the tendency to perform fruitive activities is altogether removed. This is śaraṇāpatti. In Bhagavadgītā (18.66), after giving separate explanations of karma, jñāna and bhakti, through a most confidential statement Bhagavān has given instruction on full surrender:

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

We should understand the words sarvadharma in this verse to mean paths that are obstacles to complete surrender, such as the pursuance of one’s occupational duties within the varṇāśrama system and the worship of demigods. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is saying, “Rejecting all of these, one should surrender unto Me, meaning one should develop exclusive faith towards engaging in bhajana unto Me. Don’t be fearful of the reactions that come to those who commit the sin of rejecting their occupational duties. I assure you that I will free you from the reactions to all such sins.”

The doubt may arise that the word faith actually refers here to respect. The paths of karma, jñāna and so forth also require faith. Thus faith is not only the cause of bhakti, but of karma and jñāna also. The philosophical principle is that the word śraddhā actually means feelings of faith in the injunctions of the scriptures, and included within this feeling another sentiment certainly exists, which is called ruci, taste. Despite possessing faith, one may not desire to participate in a particular activity unless he has developed taste for it. Faith in the paths of karma and jñāna is always mixed with a particle of bhakti in the form of ruci. Only through the influence of this fraction of bhakti are the paths of karma and jñāna able to yield any result. Similarly, the faith that develops for bhakti is endowed with ruci, and this faith is none other than the seed of the creeper of devotion (bhakti-latā), which is sown in the heart of the living entity. Faith in the paths of karma and jñāna is mixed with taste for the activities of karma and jñāna respectively, but the nature of this faith is different.

Only faith that is endowed with taste for bhakti culminates in the symptoms of bhakti. This is called śaraṇāpatti, full surrender. Only when one’s taste for bhakti advances through the progressive stages of sādhusaṅga, performance of bhajana, absence of anarthas and finally assumes the form of niṣṭhā does it become pure ruci. Thus faith is a separate entity from bhakti. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī writes in Bhaktisandarbha, “tasmāc chraddhā na bhakty-aṅgaṁ kintu karmaṇy asamartha vidvat tāvad ananyatākhyāyāṁ bhaktāv adhikāri-viśeṣaṇam eva.” Hence, faith is not a limb of bhakti, but an attribute of the qualification for bhakti resulting from one’s having become indifferent to the ritualistic fruitive activities known as karmakāṇḍa. It says in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.9):

tāvat karmāṇi kurvīta na nirvidyeta yāvatā
mat-kathā-śravaṇādau vā śraddhā yāvan na jāyate

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa says: One should continue performing his occupational duties as long as he has not become indifferent to them and has not developed faith in hearing the narrations of My pastimes.”

The purport is that one is qualified to renounce his occupational duties only when he develops faith in hearing the narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. This is the conclusion of the scriptures. To clarify a possible doubt here, we must note that if faith, which is the very cause of the qualification for unalloyed devotion, is itself not a limb of bhakti, then how can spiritual knowledge and renunciation, which in some instances manifest before the appearance of faith, be limbs of bhakti? Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.248):

jñāna-vairāgyayor bhakti-praveśāyopayogitā
īṣat prathamam eveti nāṅgatvam ucitaṁ tayoḥ

“In some particular instances spiritual knowledge (jñāna) and renunciation (vairāgya) may be useful while a devotee is in the initial stages of entering into bhakti, but they can never be said to be limbs of bhakti.”

Hence, it is an established fact that only that faith which is endowed with the symptoms of complete surrender is the cause of the qualification for pure devotion. Sometimes people are heard saying that faith in hearing the narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes is developed by some through the strict performance of their occupational duties, by some through the cultivation of spiritual knowledge and by others through renunciation of the objects of the senses. But such statements are erroneous. It is possible that these processes may have been cultivated just prior to the appearance of faith, but through a more detailed analysis it becomes apparent that somehow or another there must have been some association with devotees just between the two instances; that is, between the cultivation of the above-mentioned processes and the appearance of faith. In this context the following verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.51.53) is worthy of consideration:

bhavāpavargo bhramato yadā bhavej
janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samāgamaḥ
sat-saṅgamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau
parāvareśe tvayi jāyate matiḥ

“Śrī Mucukunda said: O my dear infallible Lord, becoming opposed to You, the living entity sometimes attains worldly sense pleasure by pursuing the path of karma and sometimes attains liberation through the cultivation of jñāna. Thus he is entangled in the repeated cycle of birth and death. If while wandering in this way the living entity somehow becomes fortunate and receives the association of Your devotees, with great determination he fixes his intelligence at Your lotus feet, understanding You to be the only shelter of saintly persons, the origin of all creation, both material and spiritual, and the ultimate goal.”

Thus fruitive activity, the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, renunciation and so on can never be the cause of the appearance of faith; only the association of devotees can cause the appearance of śraddhā. In this regard Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has composed lines such as yaḥ kenāpy ati-bhāgyena jāta-śraddho ’sya sevane. Thus only persons endowed with śraddhā are the rightful candidates for unalloyed devotion.

There is another consideration here. Sādhanabhakti is of two types, vaidhīsādhanabhakti and rāgānugasādhanabhakti, as confirmed in this verse from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.5): vaidhī rāgānugā ceti sā dvidhā sādhanābhidhā. It is essential to understand the difference between vaidhīsādhanabhakti and rāgānugasādhanabhakti because without this understanding there may remain many suspicions that can harm the development of one’s bhakti. Concerning vaidhībhakti, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has written:

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

Bhakti is the living entity’s natural inclination and the inseparable occupation of his intrinsic nature. In the conditioned stage the jīva is opposed to Bhagavān and becomes attached to the worldly enjoyment presented by the illusory energy. As the living entity becomes immersed in worldly pleasure, his natural inclination to render loving devotional service unto Kṛṣṇa becomes dormant. The jīva is fully satisfied only when by some good fortune his intrinsic rāga or strong loving attachment for Kṛṣṇa reawakens, however it may happen. When prema appears, rāga naturally appears alongside it. But the rāga or attachment for material sense objects that is visible in the conditioned soul is distorted rāga, not pure rāga. In that stage the inborn rāga of the living entity remains covered or dormant. To awaken this inherent rāga, the acceptance of spiritual instruction is essential. The Vedas and their subordinate literatures are storehouses of such instructions. The bhakti that is performed within the framework of the instructions of the scriptures is called vaidhībhakti.

Now I will give a brief review of rāgānugabhakti. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī writes in Bhakti-sandarbha, “tatra viṣa-yiṇaḥ svābhāvikī viṣaya-saṁsargecchātiśaya-mayaḥ premā rāgaḥ. yathā cakṣur ādīnāṁ saundaryādau, tādṛśa evātra bhaktasya śrī-bhagavaty api rāga ity ucyate.” The powerful loving affection that naturally develops within a materialistic person by his affiliation with the objects of sense pleasure is called rāga. Just as eyes become excited upon seeing any beautiful form, the similar inclination of a devotee towards Kṛṣṇa is also called rāga. The taste that develops from following in the footsteps of a personality who possesses natural affinity for such rāga is called rāgānugabhakti. Regarding the qualification for rāgānugabhakti, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes:

rāgātmikaika-niṣṭhā ye vraja-vāsi-janādayaḥ
teṣāṁ bhāvāptaye lubdho bhaved atrādhikāravān

tat-tad-bhāvādi-mādhurye śrute dhīryad apekṣate
nātra śāstraṁ na yuktiṁ ca tal lobhotpatti-lakṣaṇam

“The Vrajavāsīs’ sentiments for Kṛṣṇa are the most exalted and exceptional example of rāgātmikābhakti. Such sentiments cannot be seen anywhere other than Vraja. The fortunate soul who develops the greed to attain sentiments for Kṛṣṇa such as those displayed by the Vrajavāsīs is the rightful candidate for rāgānugabhakti. Despite having heard about the sweetness of such sentiments, one cannot enter into them until he becomes “greedy” for them. The sole cause of the qualification for the practice of rāgānugabhakti is this spiritual greed, not the careful study of scriptures or the skillful use of logic.”(Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.291–2)

Thus we understand that just as faith is the only cause of the qualification for vaidhībhakti, similarly greed is the only cause of the qualification for rāgānugabhakti. Here a doubt may arise concerning whether the faith that has been previously established as the cause for the eligibility for unalloyed devotion is incomplete. If that faith is the cause of the eligibility only for one type of bhakti, then why has it been said to be the cause of the eligibility for all types of bhakti? To dispel such a doubt, it is again stressed that faith is the only cause of the qualification for pure devotion. In the absence of faith, no variety of śuddhabhakti can ever appear. The conclusion is that śāstra-viśvāsamayī-śraddhā, or śraddhā derived from faith in the injunctions of the scriptures, is the only cause of the qualification for vaidhībhakti, and bhāva-mādhurya-lobhamayī-śraddhā, or faith derived from intense greed to experience the sweet sentiments of the Vrajavāsīs, is the only cause of the qualification for rāgānugabhakti.

Only faith – whether it be viśvāsamayī or lobhamayī – is the cause of the eligibility for both types of pure bhakti.

There are three types of rightful candidates for vaidhībhakti: uttama (topmost), madhyama (intermediate) and kaniṣṭha (novice), as confirmed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.16), “uttamo madhyamaś ca syāt kaniṣṭhaś ceti sa tridhā.

The symptoms of an uttamaadhikārī in vaidhībhakti are:

śāstre yuktau ca nipuṇaḥ sarvathā dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
prauḍha-śraddho ’dhikārī yaḥ sa bhaktāv uttamo mataḥ

“One who is conversant with the scriptures, expert in all types of logic and possesses unwavering determination is an uttama-adhikārī, one endowed with firm faith.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.17)

The symptoms of the madhyamaadhikārī in vaidhībhakti are:

yaḥ śāstrādiṣv anipuṇaḥ śraddhāvān sa tu madhyamaḥ

“One who is not so expert in understanding the scriptures and yet is faithful is a madhyama-adhikārī.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.19)

In other words, although when presented with difficult arguments he is unable to answer them, within his mind he remains firmly faithful to his own principle.

The symptoms of the kaniṣṭhaadhikārī are:

yo bhavet komala-śraddhaḥ sa kaniṣṭho nigadyate

“Novice devotees have very little expertise in understanding the scriptures and their faith is very delicate and immature. Their faith can be changed by others’ logic and arguments.”(Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.19)

It is to be noted here that the śraddhā visible in these three types of faithful persons is characterised by faith in the injunctions of the scriptures and by being mixed with logical evidences that are dependent on the scriptures. According to the degree of greed possessed by the rightful candidates for rāgānugabhakti, they can also be divided into the three categories of uttama, madhyama and kaniṣṭha.

The conclusion is that every human being has the right to perform bhakti. Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, śūdras and antyajas (untouchables), gṛhasthas, brahmacārīs, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs – all of them can be qualified for bhakti if they have faith in the injunctions of the scriptures and the instructions of sādhu and guru. Either an educated person through the study of the scriptures or an uneducated person through hearing the principles of the scriptures in the association of devotees is said to have developed faith when he realises the supremacy of bhakti as described in the scriptures. Alternatively, if one develops lobhamayīśraddhā by continually hearing the narrations of Bhagavān’s pastimes in the association of devotees while desiring to follow in the footsteps of the ragātmikā devotees of Vraja, then it can be said that he has acquired the qualification to perform śuddhabhakti. The qualification for pure devotion cannot be achieved by the processes of impersonal knowledge, renunciation, philosophical analysis, religious discussion, self-control or meditation. Despite receiving initiation into a bona fide disciplic succession, one cannot enter into the previously discussed uttamabhakti until he becomes an uttama-adhikārī. Until that time, one’s bhakti can be said to be a semblance of devotion.

There is great necessity to strive for the stage of uttama-adhikārī. This is possible only when one engages in hearing and chanting in the association of devotees. We should never think that one becomes an uttamaadhikārī simply by diligently practising hearing and chanting and then displaying the symptoms of shedding tears, trembling and dancing, because these symptoms can also manifest in bhaktiābhāsa. Whatever little softening of the heart and determination to realise one’s inherent identity that are visible in the beginning stages of pure bhakti are far superior to a display of symptoms such as falling unconscious and so on that arise as a result of pursuing the path of bhaktiābhāsa. Therefore we should strive to attain unalloyed devotion with the utmost care. We should make a special effort to pursue the proper method to attain the qualification for bhakti; otherwise there is no possibility of attaining the eternal association of Bhagavān. Viśva-vaiṣṇava Dāsa puts forward the following verses:

(1)
śraddhā lobhātmakā yā sā viśvāsa-rūpiṇī yadā
jāyate ’tra tadā bhaktau nṛ-mātrasyādhikāritā

(2)
nā sāṅkhyaṁ na ca vairāgyaṁ na dharmo na bahujñatā
kevalaṁ sādhu-saṅgo ’yaṁ hetuḥ śraddhodaye dhruvam

(3)
śravaṇādi-vidhānena sādhu-saṅga-balena ca
anarthāpagame śīghraṁ śraddhā niṣṭhātmikā bhavet

(4)
niṣṭhāpi ruci tāṁ prāptā śuddha-bhakty-adhikāritām
dadāti sādhake nityam eṣā prathā sanātano

(5)
asat-saṅgo ’thavā bhaktāv aparādhe kṛte sati
śraddhāpi vilayaṁ yāti kathaṁ syāc chuddha-bhaktatā

(6)
ataḥ śraddhāvatā kāryaṁ sāvadhānaṁ phalāptaye
anyathā na bhaved bhaktiḥ śraddhā prema-phalātmikā

When śraddhā that is based either on faith in the injunctions of the scriptures or on greed to follow in the footsteps of a rāgātmikā-bhakta appears in the heart, a person attains the qualification for pure devotion. The appearance of faith is not caused by renunciation, pursuing the process of enumeration, strictly adhering to the occupational duties corresponding to one’s caste and stage of life, or becoming a scholar. The sole cause of the appearance of faith is the association of a sādhu who has deep love for the narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. When faith appears, one becomes a kaniṣṭhaadhikārī. When one executes the limbs of sādhanabhakti such as hearing, and when by the influence of sādhusaṅga one becomes free from anarthas and his faith becomes dense and transforms into niṣṭhā, one develops the intermediate qualification (madhyamaadhikāra) for unalloyed devotion. By the further pursuance of the activities of sādhanabhakti such as hearing and by the influence of associating with devotees who are more advanced than oneself, one’s niṣṭhā intensifies and assumes the form of ruci. The sādhaka within whom such ruci has developed is called an uttamaadhikārī. Only such an uttamaadhikārī attains unalloyed devotion. This is the eternal process for the attainment of śuddhabhakti. But if during the execution of this gradual process of sādhana one keeps the bad association of those who are attached to sense pleasure or those attached to an impersonal conception of the absolute truth, or if one disrespects a pure devotee or commits any other offence to him, faith at the novice level as well as that at the intermediate level will dry up from its very root and the sādhaka will be unable to achieve pure bhakti. In such a condition the sādhaka is either entangled in chāyābhaktiābhāsa or, in the case of committing numerous offences, even glides down into pratibimbabhaktiābhāsa. Therefore, until one attains the stage of uttamaadhikāra, the faithful and sincere sādhaka should remain extremely careful. Otherwise it will be very difficult to achieve pure devotion, which ultimately bears the fruit of divine love.

Śrī-kṛṣṇārpaṇam astu – may this treatise be an offering unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Bhakti Tattva VivekaBhakti Tattva Viveka - Chapter Three

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