Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana
Part Ten: The Initial Discussion of Prayojana, the Highest Goal of Life
by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)
As it was Ekādaśī, the Vaiṣṇavas had assembled in Śrīvāsāṅgana under the bakula tree and were performing a melodious kīrtana. Many sighed loudly the names of Śrī Nityānanda and Śrī Gaurāṅga in blissful joy. Amidst all this, the elderly Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja sat pensively, steeped in meditation. After a long time, he suddenly exclaimed, “Alas! Alas!” and tears streamed down his cheeks. He sobbed, “Oh where, Oh where are my beloved Rūpa and Sanātana! And where are my Dāsa Gosvāmī and my dearest soul Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja! I am cast into the lonely well of separation and feel most despondent. When I think of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, I feel unbearable pain; my life is slipping away. O Rūpa! O Raghunātha! Have mercy! Let me see you once again; that will return me to life. How can I still live in your absence! My life is but a disgrace!”
After saying this, Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī began to roll upon the ground, finally coming to rest on his back. Rushing to the supine Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, the Vaiṣṇavas tried to placate him, “Bābājī Mahārāja, please calm down. Rūpa and Raghunātha are in your heart. And just see, Śri Śrī Nitāi Caitanya are dancing before you.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī immediately stood up with surprising alacrity, inquiring, “Where? Where?” Spotting the exquisite Deity forms of the Pañcatattva upon the altar, his distress dissipated and his composure returned. He said, “O blessed Māyāpura! You are the only place upon earth that drives away the pangs of separation felt in the absence of the Lord’s pastimes.” He then lifted his arms, swaying in gentle dancing movements.
Finally he went and sat in his kuṭīra, where Vijaya-kumāra and Vrajanātha later found him in quiet repose. They fell flat before him in humble submission. Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī was indeed happy to see them and asked, “How is your chanting and practice of bhakti?”
With folded hands, they replied, “Dear Gurudeva, your blessings mean everything to us. We must have performed innumerable pious deeds to have attained sanctuary under your lotus feet. In accordance with your instructions, we are observing Ekādaśī fasting today without drinking water and have come to receive your blessings.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “You are truly fortunate souls. Very soon you will be elevated to the platform of bhāva–bhakti.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, what does the platform of bhāva–bhakti mean? Is it something you have not yet taught us?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Whatever I have discussed with you so far belongs to sādhana–bhakti. After extended and tenacious performance of sādhana-bhakti, a devotee is promoted to siddhavasthā, the platform of perfection, whose first stages are known as bhāva–avasthā. A description is given in first part of the tenth śloka of the Daśa-mūla-śikṣā:
svarūpāvasthāne madhura-rasa-bhāvodaya iha
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-svajana-jana-bhāvaṁ hṛdi vahan
parānande prītiṁ jagad-atula-sampat-sukham atho
vilāsākhye tattve parama-paricaryāṁ sa labhate
“‘The jīva attains his svarūpa when his sādhana-bhakti matures. At this stage, the hlādinī–śakti endows him with bhāva in madhura-rasa, honey-like nectarine mellows, as he aspires to become a servant of one of the eternal associates of Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. Even whilst in this world, he is employed in the unalloyed service of the supreme embodiment of sublime bliss and experiences ineffable exultation. To attain this transcendental treasure is of unsurpassable value for the jīva.’
“The second part of the tenth Daśa-mūla-śikṣā śloka describes prema, the prayojana of humanity. As already explained, bhāva is the initial stage of prema:
prabhuḥ kaḥ ko jīvaḥ katham idam acid viśvam iti vā
vicāryaitān arthān hari-bhajana-kṛc-chāstra-caturaḥ
abhedāśāṁ dharmān sakalam aparādhaṁ pariharan
harer nāmānandaṁ pibati hari-dāso hari-janaiḥ
“‘Who is Kṛṣṇa? Who am I, the jīva? What is this inert world of matter? What is the transcendental spiritual world? The faithful devotee who is totally surrendered to the service of the Supreme Lord must review these questions thoroughly, know well the pertinent scriptural conclusions, and apply them positively. He will then completely repudiate the monistic philosophy of impersonal liberation, rise above the stipulations of pious and impious deeds, and cease committing devotional offences. He must seek only saintly association, in that company drink the immortal nectar of hari–nāma and thus experience inexplicable eternal joy as the servant of Śrī Hari.’
“The Daśa-mūla-śikṣā is a magnificent bouquet of transcendental teachings compiled from the entire set of instructions spoken by the Supreme Lord Śrī Caitanya Himself.”
Vijaya, “Bābājī, if possible, I wish to hear concisely about the glories of the Daśa-mūla-śikṣā.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Take note of this verse from the Daśa-mūla-māhātmya:
saṁsevya daśa-mūlam vai hitvā ‘vidyām ayam janaḥ
bhāva-puṣtiṁ tathā tuṣtiṁ labhate sādhu-saṅgataḥ
“‘By assimilating and emulating the teachings of the Daśa-mūla-śikṣā, the jīva uproots the poisonous ivy of ignorance. Thereafter, in the association of saintly Vaiṣṇavas, he nourishes the creeper of bhakti with bhāva and experiences rewarding satisfaction.’”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, kindly permit us to enrich our intellect with the teachings of Daśa-mūla-śikṣā. We will study the Daśa-mūla-śikṣā daily and offer this practice in glorification of Śrī Caitanya. We wish to hear in detail about the concept of bhāva.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “If prema is compared to the sun, then bhāva is the rays of the sun. Bhāva is transcendental emotion composed of viśuddha-sattva, pure transcendental goodness, and it blossoms in the svarūpa of the jīva. This is the svarūpa–lakṣaṇa, intrinsic symptom, of bhāva. Another term for bhāva is rati; others may prefer to designate bhāva as premāṅkura, the buds of prema. The svarūpa–śakti is the all-illuminating internal potency of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. One of its prime characteristics is known as saṁvit, also known as viśuddha–sattva, which is always transcendental to the material nature. When this consciousness of viśuddha–sattva emulsifies with the hlādinī-śakti, bhāva is produced.
“With the help of saṁvit, the devotee acquires lucid comprehension of the ultimate objective of life, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and through hlādinī he is blessed with relish of that ultimate objective. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is only realized by the agency of His unlimited personal saṁvit-śakti, the svarūpa-śakti-vṛtti. He cannot be realized by the minuscule saṁvit-śakti of the individual jīva. When the saṁvit-śakti of the svarūpa-śakti of the Lord blossoms in the heart of the devotee by the mercy of the Lord or the Lord’s pure devotee, only then does the devotee become fully enlightened and enlivened with perception of the spiritual world.
“The spiritual world is the manifestation of viśuddha-sattva, whereas the material world is composed of a mixture of the three material qualities: sattva, raja, and tama. When the hlādinī-śakti appears and combines with the perception of the spiritual world bestowed by the saṁvit-śakti in the heart of the devotee, the devotee begins to relish the transcendental realm with increasing bhāva. When this enrelishment of the transcendental realm intensifies many-fold and is fully consummated, bhāva is converted into prema. If this prema is taken to be the sun, then bhāva makes up the sun-rays. The unique symptom of bhāva is that it completely cleanses the heart of impurities and softens the heart to a state where it can easily melt.
“The word ruci indicates three desires within the heart of the transcendentally aspiring jīva: prāpty–abhilāṣa, the constant desire for union with the coveted object; ānukūlya–abhilāṣa; a desire for the favour of the coveted object; and sauhārda-abhilāṣa, a feeling of affinity for the coveted object from the core of the heart. The first stirrings of bhāva are shown by a light display of ecstatic symptoms such as horripilation, etc. In nitya-siddha devotees, bhāva is constantly present, ready to manifest itself at any moment in the full splendour of the eight sattvika–bhāvas, manifestations of transcendental ecstasy. In conditioned souls, bhāva—though in nature actually self-manifest from the transcendental plane—appears as though manifested by the individual’s own temperament and personality.
“In either case, the natural function of bhāva is to independently reveal the transcendental form, identity and pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Bhāva appears to be an emotion, a part of the human psyche—which it is not—and is apparently caused by a catalyst external to itself. However, bhāva, or rati, constitutionally is a transcendental object of relishment bestowed upon the jīva and mercifully enables the souls imprisoned in the material world to relish the nectarean spiritual qualities of Kṛṣṇa and His transcendental pastimes.”
Vrajanātha, “Are there different varieties of bhāva?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Yes, according to their different sources, there are two varieties of bhāva originating from Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His pure devotees: sādhana-abhiniveśa-ja-bhāva, bhāva arising through sādhana; and prasāda-ja-bhāva, bhāva arising through mercy. Bhāva generally implies the former; the latter is extremely rare.”
Vrajanātha, “Kindly describe sādhana-abhiniveśa-ja-bhāva.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “This particular bhāva is of two kinds, corresponding to the two paths of sādhana-bhakti: vaidhī and rāgānuga. Initially, bhāva generates ruci in the heart of the devotee; later āsakti, attachment for the Lord; and finally rati, love. The scriptures and the Vedic science of the performing arts treat bhāva and rati as synonyms and so will I. In vaidhī-bhakti, bhāva is in an unmanifest state known as śraddhā. First, śraddhā matures and becomes niṣṭhā, steadfastness, which produces ruci, taste. In rāgānuga-bhakti, however, bhāva generates ruci right from the beginning.”
Vrajanātha, “What is prasāda-ja-bhāva?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “When bhāva voluntarily evokes itself without waiting for the application of either vaidhī-bhakti or rāgānuga-bhakti, it is defined either as kṛṣṇa-prasāda-ja-bhāva, or kṛṣṇa-bhakta-prasāda-ja-bhāva.”
Vrajanātha, “How may kṛṣṇa-prasāda-ja-bhāva be described?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Kṛṣṇa-prasāda, Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, is of three types: vācika, by words; āloka–dāna, by granting vision; and hārda, by grace manifest in the heart. Examples showing that Kṛṣṇa gives all three types of mercy are found in the scriptures. In vācika, Kṛṣṇa simply promises His devotee by His word, and immediately the all-blessing crest-jewel embodiment of divine bliss and transcendentally wilful bhakti that only seeks to serve Kṛṣṇa awakens as bhāva within the devotee’s heart. An example of āloka-dāna-kṛpā is the mercy given to the sages of the Daṇḍakāraṇya Forest who had never seen the Supreme Lord previously. Yet, as soon as they beheld the Lord Śrī Rāma, their hearts were flooded with bhāva and bhakti simply by the mercy of the Lord. Bhāva that spontaneously sprouts within the heart, as in the case of Śrīla Sukadeva Gosvāmī, is a result of hārda-kṛpā, the causeless mercy of the Lord.”
“In the pastimes of the Supreme Lord’s full incarnation as Śrī Caitanya, all three types of kṛṣṇa-prasāda-ja-bhāva were amply displayed. In many places where the Lord travelled, countless scores of passers-by who either just saw Him or witnessed His ecstatic dancing were surcharged with transcendental bhāva because of His āloka-dāna-kṛpā. The despicable brothers, Jagāi and Mādhāi, were showered with vācika-kṛpā. They experienced inexplicable bhāva just by hearing the pronouncement of the Lord. And, the Lord infused the heart of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī with hārda-kṛpā-bhāva.”
Vrajanātha, “Kindly describe the kṛṣṇa-bhakta-prasāda-ja-bhāva.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Dhruva Mahārāja, Prahlāda Mahārāja and many others received the mercy of the great devotee, Śrīla Nārada Muni, which filled their hearts with bhāva, finally elevating them to become crest-jewels amongst the devotees of the Lord. By the mercy of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī and other eternal associates of the Lord, innumerable persons have been inspired to engage in śuddha-bhakti.”
Vijaya, “What are the symptoms of bhāvodaya, the awakening of bhāva?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Anubhāvas are emotions that act as precursors ultimately evoking bhāva. They are nine in number: kṣānti, tolerance; avyartha kālatva, the feeling that any engagement outside the service of Kṛṣṇa is a waste of time; virakti, detachment; māna-śūnyatā, pridelessness; āśā-bandha, constant hopefulness; samutkaṇṭhā, enthusiasm; sarvadā nāma-gāne ruci, constant relishing of hari-nāma and glorification of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; kṛṣṇa-guṇākhyāne āsaktis, eagerness to hear about the qualities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; and kṛṣṇa-vasati-sthale prīti, loving and honouring those places connected with Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Vijaya, “What is kṣānti?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “A situation wherein a person exercises tolerance, although he would have every reason to become perturbed and agitated, is known as kṣānti. Another name is kṣamā, compassion, forgiveness and peacefulness.”
Vijaya, “What is avyartha–kālatva?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “When a person is fully engaged in serving the Supreme Lord wishing to avoid wasting time on non-devotional activities, it is called avyartha–kālatva.”
Vijaya, “What is virakti?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Virakti is defined as the spontaneous feeling of distaste for objects of sense gratification.”
Vijaya, “Could a person who has received the bheka initiation of a renunciant be described as someone possessing virakti?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Bheka is more a social custom than anything else. When bhāva is enthroned in the heart, relish of the spiritual realm increases and the attraction for sensual pleasures diminishes until it is finally eliminated. This is known as the stage of virakti. Hence, any devotee who takes bheka after attaining virakti for the simple reason of minimizing his bodily necessities is called a virakti–vaiṣṇava. Anyone who puts on the robes of a renunciant before having reached the stage of bhāva is a charlatan and his status is not bona fide. Śrī Caitanya highlighted this principle by chastising Choṭa Haridāsa.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of māna-śūnyatā?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Pride is fuelled by one’s noble caste and creed, high social status, wealth, strength, beauty, power, etc. Therefore, a person who possesses all these attributes and remains prideless is actually māna-śūnyatā. The Padma Purāṇa narrates the story of a very powerful king who became a devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He abdicated his kingship, left his palace and opulences, and wandered over to his enemy’s kingdom, living there by begging for the bare necessities of life. Like a honeybee, he collected a little from everyone. He never reflected on his previous status, but respected the brāhmaṇas and even the caṇḍālas, dog-eaters.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of āśā–bandha?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Āśā-bandha means to be convinced that Śrī Kṛṣṇa will surely shower His mercy some day and to continue to serve and meditate upon Him with such a conviction.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of samutkaṇṭhā?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “To muster enthusiastically all means to acquire one’s coveted object is called samutkaṇṭhā.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of sarvadā nāma-gāne ruci?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, Yes, the next item is sarvadā nāma-gāne ruci, the constant taste for chanting hari-nāma. When a devotee fully comprehends that of all the various limbs of devotional practice chanting hari-nāma is the most effective, he engages his entire time in chanting with great śraddhā. Ruci for chanting is the prime cause for the topmost spiritual success. However, we will discuss the science of chanting and the truth about hari-nāma separately another day.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of kṛṣṇa-guṇākhyāne āsaktis?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “In the Śrī Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, verse 65, there is a reference to the eagerness to hear about Kṛṣṇa’s glories:
mādhuryād api madhuraṁ manmathatā tasya kimapi kaiśoram
cāpalyād api capalaṁ, ceto vata harati hanta kiṁ kurmaḥ
“‘O how exquisite is His ever-fresh youthful beauty. It is sweeter than the honeysuckle flowers. His adolescent restiveness enchants and defies definition. All these nectarean qualities of that transcendental Cupid have stolen my heart and soul. What am I to do?’
“The more a devotee hears or speaks about the wonderful qualities and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, the more he becomes attracted to them—he is never satiated and his attachment for hearing these wonders continues to expand.”
Vijaya, “What is kṛṣṇa-vasati-sthale prīti?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Kṛṣṇa-vasati-sthale prīti means to love and honour the dhāmas where the Lord performed His pastimes. While circumambulating the dhāma, a devotee may enquire from the devotees and residents, “O residents of the dhāma, where is the birthplace of the Lord? Where did Mahāprabhu dance in ecstatic saṅkīrtana? Where would Kṛṣṇa frolic with the gopas during His forenoon pūrvāhṇa–līlā?” The pilgrim is answered by the residents, “Here is Māyāpura. That raised area adorned by many tulasī plants is the Yoga-pīṭha where the Lord appeared. See these villages Gaṅgānagara, Simuliyā, Gādigāchā, Mājdīa; they are some of the places where Mahāprabhu lead His first saṅkīrtana processions.” As he hears the time-honoured glories of the dhāmas mixed with the prema from the lips of a resident of the dhāma, the devotee feels a divine ambrosia filling his ears that sends him into an ecstatic trance; he sheds profuse tears with his hair standing on end whilst immersed in ecstasy of bhāva.”
Vrajanātha, “When such a flow of ecstatic emotions is inspired, are we to conclude that rati for Kṛṣṇa is within the devotee?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Not necessarily. The independent, spontaneous effusion of feelings within the heart for Kṛṣṇa is rati, transcendental loving attachment. However, shedding tears and such emotions can be inspired by other conditions, which are not necessarily rati.”
Vrajanātha, “Gurudeva, kindly illustrate this point with a few examples.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “An aspirant for mukti chants kṛṣṇa–nāma at the stage of nāmābhāsa, the shadow of śuddha–nāma. He hears that nāmābhāsa has the power to give mukti and is provided with the relevant śāstric pramāṇa. When he hears this proof, he is stirred to profuse tears and falls down in a faint. This cannot be described as kṛṣṇa–rati, because he has no spontaneous and unalloyed attraction for Kṛṣṇa. He simply displays these emotions, which are nearly bhāva, i.e. bhāvābhāsa, only out of covetousness for his personal objective and the fact that such practices may help him to achieve the same.
“Further, a seeker of mundane pleasure worships Durgā Devī, praying for the materialistic boons of health and wealth, etc. He learns about the mystic potency of the Durgā Devī to fulfil such wishes and is moved to tears, rolls on the ground, and so on. These symptoms are not bhāva; at best, they are bhāvābhāsa, or perhaps even bhāva–daurātmya, crocodile tears with evil intent. Whatever the case may be true bhāva symptoms are never manifest or experienced without a long history of constant devotional service with unalloyed motivation to love Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
“Aspirations for bhukti and mukti—even if they happen to be related to Kṛṣṇa—sometimes invoke bhāvābhāsa symptoms that are often also bhāva-daurātmya symptoms. The emotions shown by persons who are contaminated by māyāvādī thoughts are all bhāva-daurātmya. Even if such a person has been lying unconscious before the Deity of Kṛṣṇa for days, it cannot be called bhāva.
“Even the most elevated liberated souls and sages who have categorically renounced the world intensely aspire to attain bhāva. Bhāva is the recondite treasure that Kṛṣṇa rarely discloses even to those who have been engaged in bhajana for immeasurably extended periods. So how can this divine bhāva, kṛṣṇa-rati, blossom in arid hearts devoid of śuddha–bhakti where the desire for either bhukti or mukti surges?”
Vrajanātha, “Gurudeva, sometimes while performing hari-nāma-kīrtana hedonistic men and salvationists exhibit the symptoms you have just described. What feelings are these?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Only ignorant and foolish people are impressed by such a show-bottle display of emotions. Those who are actually conversant with the philosophy of bhāva will immediately recognize them as rati–ābhāsa duplications which should be carefully avoided.”
Vijaya, “How many kinds of rati-ābhāsa are there?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “There are two varieties of rati-ābhāsa: pratibimba-rati-ābhāsa, a reflected semblance of rati; and chāyā-rati-ābhāsa, a shadow-like semblance of rati.”
Vijaya, “What is pratibimba-rati-ābhāsa?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Mukti cannot be attained without knowledge of Brahman. The process to acquire this knowledge is extremely tedious and difficult. A person may desire mukti, but does not want to embark on the strict disciplines required by this path. He learns that by chanting of Śrī Hari’s name, one is rewarded with mukti and considers that this chanting is easy to perform. When he imagines how easily Brahman realization could be thus acquired, strong emotions well up and he begins to cry, his hair stands on end, and so on. This is pratibimba-rati-ābhāsa and nothing more spectacular.”
Vrajanātha, “Why is the term pratibimba, reflection, used here?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “When kīrtana is properly performed it brings joy. Therefore, when hedonists and emancipationists, both striving for their respective goals, come by great fortune into association with saintly Vaiṣṇavas and join in kīrtana with them, the spontaneous emotion of bhāva which appears in the hearts of the Vaiṣṇavas is also slightly reflected like the soothing, sublime moon in the hearts of these non-devotees, as a result of their close proximity with the Vaiṣṇavas.
“However, the pristine form of bhāva is never manifest in the hearts of hedonists and salvationists. They are thrilled to see the bhāva symptoms displayed in the Vaiṣṇavas, which in turn inspires them to experience a mere reflected semblance. The pratibimba-rati-ābhāsa form of rati–ābhāsa is generally detrimental to most persons. It does not bring eternal good fortune, but merely awards the mundane pleasure of sensual bliss and the relief of emancipation, thereafter becoming depleted and impotent. To call this phenomenon nāmāparādha, offence against kṛṣṇa-nāma, would not be mistaken.”
Vrajanātha, “What is chāyā-rati-ābhāsa?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Simple, kaniṣṭha devotees who are inexperienced in the intricacies of spiritual science curiously perceive the slight stirrings of bhāva symptoms in their hearts when they come into contact with the favoured places, holy occasions, pastimes, etc., of the Supreme Lord. These bhāva symptoms are factually the nebulous, shadow form of real spiritual emotions; hence, they are designated as chāyā, shadow. At this stage, the bhakti of the neophyte is a little more distinct, but not yet firm. The chāyā-rati-ābhāsa form of rati-ābhāsa appears particularly at this juncture.
“Chāyā-rati-ābhāsa occurs as a result of scores of pious deeds and may gradually lead the neophyte to higher realization and greater spiritual fortune. Especially, by frequent association with saintly and elevated Vaiṣṇavas, who give their mercy as a catalyst, the real and pristine form of śuddha–bhāva may easily appear from this raw ingredient called chāyā–rati, shadow attachment. Though this form of chāyā–rati is highly beneficial to the neophyte, offences to Vaiṣṇavas will trigger off reversals in spiritual practice, painfully causing the chāyā-rati to dwindle like the waning moon of the dark fortnight. Even pure śuddha-bhāva, what to speak of chāyā-bhāva, begins to wither if touched by the poisonous tentacles of offences to the Vaiṣṇavas.
“Aspiring devotees must avoid close contact with adamant and zealous salvationists, because in that association their bhāva will wilt and they may begin to aspire for mukti or even begin to consider themselves the worshipable Īśvara. Such sinister motives become obvious when ignorant neophytes dance or sing arrogantly in kīrtana, desiring mukti or thinking that they have become the Supreme Brahman. Lacking proper discrimination or knowledge, new devotees may intimately and carelessly interact with die-hard salvationists; such loose behaviour exerts a calamitous effect upon their devotional progress. Therefore, neophytes in particular must shun the company of such non-devotees.
“In certain persons—even though they are not engaged in devotional service—bhāva symptoms may suddenly appear. From such an occurrence, it may be surmised that these persons have executed śuddha–bhakti in their previous lives, but because of impediments at that time bhāva could not mature and fully manifest. As soon as these unknown impediments are removed, symptoms of śuddha–bhāva appear and are crystallized. This śuddha-bhāva is indeed kṛṣṇa-prasāda-ja, evoking reactions of wonder and amazement among the general public, and is bestowed by the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa.
“In the case where genuine śuddha-bhāva is reposed in a devotee, but certain faults and discrepancies are discernable in his character, the devotee should not be treated intemperately or intolerantly, because such a devotee imbued with śuddha–bhāva is surely and increasingly lifted by this transcendental phenomenon to sublime heights of spiritual success. Thus, such a devotee with śuddha–bhāva cannot perform evil deeds. However, if such discrepancies are noted, then there are two ways to see them: This elevated devotee has committed a sinful act by some providential arrangement, but this is not a permanent slur on his character; or the reactions of the devotee’s previous sins are still lingering on even after the advent of śuddha-bhāva, though they will very soon recede and cease. If any person insists on pinning blame and calumny on such a pure devotee, he invites the wrath of nāmāparādha upon himself.
“Thus, the Nṛsiṁha Purāṇa declares:
bhagavati ca harāv ananya-cetā bhṛṣa-malino‘pi virājate manuṣyaḥ
na hi śaśa-kaluṣa-cchavīḥ kadācit timira-paro bhavatām upaiti candraḥ
“‘Just as the moon appears to have shadows and dark patches, but its glow is not shrouded because of them; similarly, devotees who possess single-minded devotion to the Supreme Lord in spite of having faults and blemishes—even those who have committed most abominable acts—keep on radiating devotion because of their love for the Lord.’
“This injunction must not mislead us to think that it is all right if devotees become compulsive sinners. The fact is that the very desire for committing sins is expunged once the devotee becomes steadfast in bhakti. Yet, as long as the body is there, accidents may happen and thus a devotee may commit sins inadvertently. As soon as that occurs, Bhakti Devī instantly incinerates to ashes the devotee’s sins and warns the devotee against repeating them. A devotee who continuously commits sins has most certainly not developed ananya–bhakti to the Lord, because a sincere devotee can never perpetrate devotionally fatal acts shamelessly whilst relying on the absolving potency of Bhakti Devī for this is a serious offence.
“The nature of bhāva, i.e. rati, is to increase the desire of the devotee for divine love gradually and constantly. Thus, because of its restless nature, bhāva is volatile and embodies intense bliss. Although bhāva churns up the torrid sañcāri-bhāvas, impelling ecstatic emotions, still it remains more soothing than a million moon-rays.”
At this point in their discussion, Vrajanātha and Vijaya appeared to be deeply pondering over the concepts and principles of bhāva–tattva. Simultaneously Bābājī Mahārāja seemed to withdraw into himself. However the two aspirants were too excited and keen for knowledge to allow this unexpected lull to continue. They respectfully asked their next question.
Vrajanātha, “Gurudeva, your instructions are marvellous. They have opened the floodgates of the immortal ambrosia of prema within us and extinguished the flames of material entanglement in our hearts. We are inebriated by this nectar and have lost our sense of direction. Where should we go? What should we do?
“Alas! Oh Gurudeva, fie upon our brāhmaṇa birth that has poisoned the heart with pride and arrogance! We do not possess a drop of humility, so how can we expect to attain bhāva? Our only hope is attached to you, dear Gurudeva. You are an eternal associate of the Lord, if you give us just the smallest iota of divine prema, then everything will be perfect for us. On the basis of our spiritual relationship with you, a new optimism is dawning within us. Spiritually we are poverty-stricken and wretched, but you are an impressive bulwark amongst the devotees of the Lord and most compassionate. So kindly, advise us of our real responsibilities. A feeling inside me prompts me to turn my back upon family and home and surrender at your feet so that I will be able to serve you always.”
Vijaya-kumāra, patiently waiting for an opportune moment, interjected, “Gurudeva, Vrajanātha is young and his mother wants him to enter household life, but he is not prepared to do so. Kindly tell us what we should do.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “You have received Śrī Kṛṣṇa blessings. So, convert your household into Kṛṣṇa’s household and serve Him. May everyone follow the advice of Śrī Caitanya. There are two orders of devotees in the world, householders and renunciants. A person must remain in the household until he is ready to renounce that situation. In this way serve Kṛṣṇa as a householder devotee. Our dear Śrī Caitanya displayed pastimes in His first twenty-four years as a householder, which stand out as a perfect example for Vaiṣṇava householders. His pastimes in the final twenty-four years as a renunciant are examples to be emulated by renunciants and aspiring sannyāsīs.
“My recommendation to you is this: Study the householder life of the Lord and sincerely try to follow in His footsteps, at least for the present. You must not think that the highest level of kṛṣṇa–prema is beyond the reach of the householder devotees. The majority of the close associates of Mahāprabhu were householders, and they were certainly the direct recipients of His mercy. Even renunciant Vaiṣṇavas pray to be blessed by receiving the sacred dust of the lotus feet of the Lord’s householder devotees upon their heads.”
Vijaya and Vrajanātha offered their obeisances to Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and took leave. Though it was very late, they joined the other Vaiṣṇavas of Śrīvāsāṅgana and spent the rest of the night singing and chanting kṛṣṇa–nāma. Early the next morning, they completed ablutions, took a bath, and attended the spiritual programme in the temple. At noon, they honoured mahā–prasādam with the Vaiṣṇavas, soon thereafter leaving and making their way slowly back home.
At the Bilva Puṣkariṇī Lake, they sat down and—after considering all that they had heard from Bābājī Mahārāja—decided to continue in household life and serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa in that way.
Vijaya-kumāra broke the news to his sister, the mother of Vrajanātha, so she could make all the necessary arrangements for the marriage of Vrajanātha. The mother and grandmother of Vrajanātha were beside themselves with joy. Leaving for a few days to Modadruma-dvīpa, Vijaya-kumāra was sent off with a new wardrobe according to the custom. Upon reaching his destination, he immediately sent his younger brother, Harinātha, to help the mother of Vrajanātha with the preparations.
Thus ends the twenty-second chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled:
Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana, Part Ten: The Initial Discussion of Prayojana, the Highest Goal of Life.