Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana
Part Eight: Abhidheya: Vaidhī Sādhana Bhakti, the Practice of Regulative Devotional Service
by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)
Vrajanātha and Vijaya-kumāra arrived home at 2 p.m. Vrajanātha’s mother had made special lunch preparations for her brother and served him personally. After lunch, the uncle and nephew withdrew to a quiet place where they could exchange their views of the scriptures and the instructions they had received from the advanced Vaiṣṇavas. They felt a warm affection for each other. Upon hearing the earlier instructions that Vrajanātha had received from Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, Vijaya-kumāra remarked, “You are very fortunate, because you have heard such wonderful philosophy from such a great soul. Actually, hearing about Śrī Kṛṣṇa and devotional topics always brings immense good fortune, but when the same is heard from the lips of a pure devotee, the beneficial results are almost immediate. My son, you are a topmost expert in the scriptures, especially in nyāya. By birth, you belong to the upper ranks of the brāhmaṇa class. You are wealthy—look at the property you have inherited. Yet, highest of all, you have now taken shelter of a pure Vaiṣṇava devotee and have developed a taste for kṛṣṇa–kathā; therefore, all these material facilities have now become added embellishments.”
While the two men were talking, Vrajanātha’s mother quietly slipped into the next room and, without being seen by Vrajanātha, caught her brother’s attention, signalling him to talk to her privately. When Vijaya-kumāra came to her, she said, “My brother, I have not seen you for such a long time. May I ask of you a favour? You must convince Vrajanātha to take a wife. I have observed him lately and it chills my heart to see that his behaviour indicates a disinterest in marriage. The family matchmaker has made several propositions, but he is unbending as a mountain. My mother-in-law has also tried her best, but in vain.”
After listening patiently to his sister, Vijaya-kumāra replied, “I am going to stay here for another two weeks, so I shall judge the situation and then advise you on what should be done. For now, let us leave things as they are and carry on with everything quite normally.” When his sister had left, Vijaya went back to Vrajanātha to continue their spiritual discussion, which took up the rest of the day and continued non-stop until noon lunch the next day. The only time they stopped was for eating, bathing and sleeping.
After lunch, Vijaya-kumāra said, “This evening, we will go to Śrīvāsāṅgana and hear from the revered Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja an elaboration upon the sixty-four limbs of bhakti as described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Vrajanātha, I am so delighted to have your association, and I pray to have your association, life after life. Without your help, I would never have received such nectarean spiritual instructions.
“Bābājī Mahārāja said that there were two paths of sādhana-bhakti—vaidhī-mārga and rāga–mārga. Everything indicates that we are on the path of vaidhī–mārga. Before we go further and onto rāga-mārga, let us acquire a proper understanding of vaidhī-mārga and how to apply this discipline in real life. Yesterday Bābājī Mahārāja explained the nine limbs of bhakti, but I am still not sure how to transform those instructions into action. Today, I want to get a concrete grasp on the subject.”
Spiritual topics never end, especially when two enthusiastic devotees are seriously discussing them. The sun eventually grew ruddy and weary, and ready to set. The two devotees, uncle and nephew, took this as a sign to prepare for their walk to Śrīvāsāṅgana. Loudly chanting hari-nāma all the way, they finally arrived at Śrīvāsāṅgana. After offering respectful obeisances to all the resident Vaiṣṇavas, they entered Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī’s simple dwelling—a small, clean kuṭīra.
Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī always felt great exultation when he saw sincere devotees with earnest questions. He stood up to greet the two seekers of knowledge and embraced them warmly, pointing out two straw-mats for them to sit upon. Vrajanātha and Vijaya-kumāra prostrated themselves reverentially before Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī and sat down quietly. After a preliminary exchange of polite remarks referring to the practice of spiritual life, Vijaya-kumāra, eager to have his questions answered, respectfully turned to Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī and said, “Śrīla Gurudeva, please excuse us for troubling you with so many questions. You are like a father to us, so kindly tolerate these torments. We are keen to understand the sixty-four limbs of devotion as enumerated by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Some of those sixty-four you have already explained to us, I believe.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī was slightly amused and a light smile played upon his lips. He began to speak, “The first ten of the sixty-four limbs form a group which may be called the ‘initial activities’ and thus prompt the positive actions of bhakti–yoga. They are (1) accepting the shelter of a bona-fide spiritual master; (2) receiving initiation and instructions in Kṛṣṇa consciousness from him; (3) obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion; (4) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas; (5) enquiring about devotional service from the spiritual master; (6) giving up sense gratification for Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s satisfaction and service; (7) living in the dhāma, a holy place of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, e.g. Navadvīpa or any other site upon the banks of the Gaṅgā or Yamunā; (8) engaging in occupational duties just to maintain body and soul together, accepting just what is necessary; (9) observing vows on religious occasions connected to Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Ekādaśī, Janmāṣṭamī); and (10) worshiping sacred trees (tulasī, dhātrī, banyan), cows, Vaiṣṇavas, and brāhmaṇas.
“The next ten are actions that must be definitely avoided: (11) associating with those who are materialistic or inimical to Kṛṣṇa and His devotees; (12) overtly endeavouring to get disciples, not instructing disciples, and initiating unworthy disciples; (13) ostentatiously displaying external pomp and celebration, over-endeavouring to construct costly temples and āśramas; (14) collecting a large number of non-devotional books, quoting and analysing extensively from many different and unauthorized literatures; (15) being miserly, neglectful and capricious in ordinary material dealings; (16) succumbing to sorrow, frustration and so on; (17) showing disrespect to the devas and devīs; (18) frightening and causing anxiety to other living entities; (19) committing sevā–aparādha, offences in devotional service, and nāmāparādha, offences to hari-nāma; and (20) tolerating blasphemy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His devotees. These twenty limbs of bhakti are compared to portals leading to the path of śuddha-bhakti. However, the first three—taking shelter, being initiated and instructed by, and obeying a bona fide guru with faith and devotion—are the most important.
“The remaining forty-four are observed to increase one’s bhakti. They are (21) decoration of the body with the Vaiṣṇava signs of tilaka and tulasī beads; (22) one may write kṛṣṇa–nāma upon the body; (23) to wear flower garlands and other objects offered to the Lord, known as nirmala, spotlessly pure; (24) to dance before the Deities of the Lord; (25) to prostrate oneself before the Deities of the Lord; (26) one stood stand up and greet the Deities and one’s guru as a mark of respect; (27) following the procession behind the Deity and guru; (28) visiting Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s temple and His sacred dhāmas; (29) circumambulating the temple, Deity, and dhāma, etc.; (30) arcana, offering worship to the Deity; (31) rendering voluntary humble service to the Deity, the Vaiṣṇavas, etc.; (32) to sing bhajanas and kīrtanas in glorification of the Lord; (33) to participate in saṅkīrtana; (34) to chant japa, e.g. the gāyatrī–mantra after ācamana, purificatory performance; (35) to submit oneself to the Lord with prayers and feelings of humility and meekness; (36) reciting choice and authorised, notable prayers from the scriptures such as the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam; (37) honouring and relishing prasādam, food offered to Kṛṣṇa; (38) to drink caraṇāmṛta, the water used to bathe the Deity; (39) one should smell the incense, flowers, etc., offered to the Lord; (40) touching the lotus feet of the Deity (by those properly initiated); (41) darśana, i.e. seeing the Deity, and taking the sight of the Deity; (42) participating in the ārati, ceremony of worship, and other celebrations of the Deity; (43) to hear about the name, beauty, qualities and pastimes of the Lord; (44) to wait patiently for the Lord to shower His mercy; (45) to practice remembrance of the Lord and His pastimes; (46) to meditate upon the service, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord; (47) to adopt a mood of constant servitorship towards the Lord; (48) to perform service in friendship; (49) to surrender oneself totally to the Lord; (50) to offer, as gifts to the Deity, items that are dear to oneself; (51) making every endeavour for Kṛṣṇa’s satisfaction, even taking great risks in the service of Kṛṣṇa; (52) in every condition, being a surrendered soul taking complete shelter in Kṛṣṇa; (53) to serve sacred trees, especially watering the tulasī tree, as she is most dear to Kṛṣṇa; (54) to respect the Bhāgavatam and other revealed scriptures—Itihāsas, Purāṇas, Upaniṣads, etc., knowing that they present the words of Kṛṣṇa; (55) to serve Kṛṣṇa’s birth-place Mathurā and other dhāmas, because of their relationship with the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa; (56) to serve the Vaiṣṇavas because they are most dear to Kṛṣṇa; (57) in accordance with one’s ability, one should perform service and observe festivals in the company of saintly souls; (58) observing vows like the Kārttika-vrata and other devotional vows; (59) to celebrate joyfully the Lord’s birthday (Janmāṣṭamī, Rāma-navamī, etc.) and other festivals; (60) serving and worshipping the Deities with faith; (61) to study and relish the discourses upon the Bhāgavatam and other scriptures given by elevated rasikā devotees steeped in the transcendental pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; (62) to associate with peaceful, elevated Vaiṣṇavas more advanced than oneself and who are of the same spiritual mellow as oneself; (63) to chant kṛṣṇa-nāma with love; and (64) to reside in the holy dhāma Mathurā, or another place where Kṛṣṇa reveals his pastimes, only for the purpose of kṛṣṇa-bhakti.
“The last five have been already described within the other limbs, but on account of their pre-eminence they have been repeated separately. All these limbs of bhakti must be introduced completely into one’s devotional practice with body, senses and inner consciousness. From the twenty-first to the forty-ninth limb, we find instructions concerning kṛṣṇa-mantra dīkṣā, initiation into the worship of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Vijaya, “Bābājī Mahārāja, kindly elaborate upon the very first limb: to take shelter of a bona fide guru.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “A prerequisite for an aspirant of śuddha–bhakti is to become fully eligible. To achieve eligibility, he has to seek, enquire and hear submissively from a Vaiṣṇava who is well versed in the science of pure devotion, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Any jīva gifted with śraddhā, created by such association, is eligible for śuddha–bhakti. Sukṛti accumulated in many lifetimes, guides a person to saintly souls who talk upon spiritual topics. Hearing these topics from the pure Vaiṣṇava will purify and create śraddhā in the heart of the aspiring jīva. With the growth of śraddhā, the jīva develops śaraṇāpatti, the spirit of surrender to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Faith and the spirit of surrender are practically the same concepts.
“Devotion to Kṛṣṇa is the topmost spiritual path and of the greatest value. The eligibility for śuddha–bhakti arises from sincere and firm faith in the Lord, which evokes the following six symptoms of surrender: (1) accepting duties and activities favourable to bhakti; (2) rejecting activities detrimental to bhakti; (3) knowing that Kṛṣṇa is the sole protector; (4) accepting Kṛṣṇa as the only maintainer; (5) regarding oneself as meek and humble and dependent upon Kṛṣṇa; and (6) not having a will separate or independent to that of Kṛṣṇa and thus wishing to perform whatever Śrī Kṛṣṇa desires. A person who thinks in this manner has firm faith. He is qualified to engage in unalloyed devotional service.
“As the jīva becomes more eligible, he becomes more eager to learn and practice śuddha-bhakti. Thus, he accepts the āśrayā, shelter, of a bona fide guru. The Vedas state in the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, 1.2.12:
tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham
“‘He, the sincere practitioner, must attach himself to the process of the science of devotion. He must humbly approach, with a gift for sacrifice, a bona fide spiritual master who is well-versed in the conclusion of the Vedas and who has realized the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.’
“The Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 6.14.2, states:
ācāryavān puruṣo veda
“‘Only the person who receives proper initiation from an ācārya, the perfect spiritual master, is realized in Brahman.’
“The Hari-bhakti-vilāsa has extensively delved into the topic of who is a bona fide guru and who is a śīṣya, sincere disciple. The main symptoms of an ideal śīṣya are that he must have a righteous character and be faithful and sincere. The model guru must be an exponent and practitioner of śuddha–bhakti, well versed in bhakti–tattva. He must have a spotless, saintly character, must be guileless, bereft of greed, simple, uncontaminated by the māyāvāda philosophy, and expert in all his spiritual duties. If a brāhmaṇa, well respected in society, is crowned with such wonderful qualities, he automatically becomes a guru for all the different varṇas. If there is not such a guru available, the disciple is directed to find a guru of a higher caste than himself from whom to take initiation.
“However, the real consideration—apart from such caste etiquette—is that one who knows Kṛṣṇa in truth, being realized in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, should be accepted by the sincere disciple as a bona fide guru. The disciple should to surrender to a guru of this primary qualification. Brāhmaṇas who are proud of their high status in this caste conscious material world may prefer to accept a spiritual master who is also a brāhmaṇa, thus finding it easier to accept such a high caste guru as superior. However, the actual truth is that any properly qualified devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a bona fide guru.
“The scriptures have also described a preliminary time of mutual testing between the guru and the disciple. The guru should see that the disciple has become eligible to enter the path of śuddha-bhakti by his sincerity, faith and respect. In addition, the disciple by his examination should develop the faith in his heart that the guru is truly a qualified pure devotee of the Lord. Seeing the faith and respectful behaviour of the sincere disciple, the bona fide spiritual master then bestows his mercy.
“There are two categories of gurus: the dīkṣā–guru, initiating guru; and the śikṣā–guru, instructing guru. The disciple accepts dīkṣā from the dīkṣā–guru and from him learns the process of arcana. The dīkṣā–guru is one and one only, but there can be numerous śikṣā–gurus. The dīkṣā–guru may also give śikṣā to his disciple as a śikṣā–guru.”
Vijaya, “The scriptures forbid giving up the dīkṣā-guru. However, if he is incapable of imparting proper knowledge of devotion and of Vaiṣṇava etiquette, how can he be in a position to teach?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Before a person accepts formal initiation from a guru, he must test the guru as to whether he is well-versed in the Vedas and in the science of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Only such a bona fide guru is indeed able to instruct his disciple in all matters. It is true that the dīkṣā-guru should not be rejected, but there are two bona fide reasons to give him up.
“First, if for some reason or another at the time of initiation the disciple did not recognize the devotional calibre of the guru and later found out that the guru was neither conversant with the conclusions of śāstra, nor a Vaiṣṇava, so that he, the disciple, could not make any spiritual progress, then he, the disciple, should reject the unqualified guru. Many scriptural sources support this course of action, for example, the Nārada Pañcarātra, as cited in Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, 1.62, states:
yo vyakti nyāya rahitam anyāyena śṛṇoti yaḥ
tāv ubhau narakaṁ ghoraṁ vrajataḥ kālam akṣayam
“‘Any person posing as an ācārya, but speaking unauthorized philosophy contrary to the teachings of the śāstra and any one who claims to be his disciple and hears such, thereby lending credibility to such nonsense, both of these are bound for Hell.’
“The Mahābhārata, Udyoga-parva, 179.25, explains in the story of Ambā:
guror apy avaliptasya kāryākāryam ajānataḥ
utpatha-pratipannasya parityāgo vidhīyate
“‘A person who is wallowing in carnal pleasures and material comforts, who is confused about the human goal of life and is devoid of bhakti, and who poses as a guru, such a depraved charlatan must be rejected.’
“Another quotation from the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, 4.144:
avaiṣṇavopadiṣṭena mantreṇa nirayaṁ vrajet
punaś ca vidhinā samyag grāhayed vaiṣṇavād guroḥ
“‘If one receives mantra–dīkṣā from a non-Vaiṣṇava who runs after women and is bereft of devotion to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one is certainly doomed to Hell. Therefore, one must immediately act according to scriptural injunctions and take re-initiation from a real, properly qualified, Vaiṣṇava guru.’
“The second reason is that if a guru who was a Vaiṣṇava and knowledgeable in Kṛṣṇa consciousness at the time of initiation becomes a māyāvādī and a Vaiṣṇava-hater as a result of bad association or otherwise, or he behaves immorally and sinfully, then the disciple must give him up.
“However, if the guru is neither inimical to Vaiṣṇavas, nor a māyāvādī, nor addicted to sinful activities, but however lacks knowledge of the scriptures, then his meagre scriptural understanding should not be a cause for rejection. In this case, the disciple may approach his guru with due deference to procure his permission to receive spiritual knowledge and instructions from an advanced, pure Vaiṣṇava, and thus engage in serving and learning from the knowledgeable Vaiṣṇava.”
Vijaya, “What are the usual procedures for the second limb of devotional service, which is receiving dīkṣā in kṛṣṇa-mantra and śikṣā in the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness from the guru.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “One must take śikṣā from his guru in arcana and śuddha–bhakti as enunciated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Thus, one should be trained to execute kṛṣṇa–sevā favourably and regularly, and with heartfelt simplicity, one should cultivate kṛṣṇa-prema. The progressive steps of arcana we will discuss in a later presentation. It is certainly indispensable that one receive śikṣā from the guru in the bhakti concepts of sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana.”
Vijaya, “Kindly explain the third limb, how to serve the guru with faith and devotion?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “One should not see the guru as an ordinary mortal human being, but as a representative of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and the best of and the embodiment of all the Devas. One should never disobey the orders of the guru, nor disrespect him in any way. Know that he is guru–tattva, an expansion of the transcendental Vaikuṇṭha principle, a resident of the spiritual world.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of the fourth limb, following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “According to the precepts of sādhana-bhakti, the devotee should use each and every means to attach his mind to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. However, one should follow the path endorsed by the previous ācāryas. Such a path is without distress; it is the source of peace and benediction and is the easy straight road of advancement.
“We learn from the Skanda Purāṇa:
sa mṛgyaḥ śreyasāṁ hetuḥ panthāḥ santāpavarjitaḥ
anavāpta-śramaṁ pūrve yena santaḥ pratasthire
“‘The path which was fiercely tread by the previous ācāryas and spiritual stalwarts is a must for all to follow, because this path alone will bring spiritual benediction and peace from the pangs of material existence.’
“The correct path cannot be properly discovered and charted by any single individual. Therefore, a succession of ācāryas has clarified the areas of difficulty, which may have been clouding the path of śuddha–bhakti. Thus, now the path of bhakti is finely defined and ready to be followed by all.
“The Brahma-yāmala describes:
aikāntikī harer bhaktir utpātāyaiva kalpate
“‘Even single-minded devotional service to the Lord that ignores the tenets of authorized Vedic literatures like the Upaniṣads, Purāṇas, Nārada Pañcarātra, etc., simply creates an unnecessary disturbance in society.’”
Vijaya, “Respected Gurujī, kindly explain how even single-minded devotion to the Supreme Lord can be the cause of disturbance.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Real, single-minded, actual devotion is possible only when one is traversing the path of śuddha–bhakti as formulated by the previous ācāryas. Any other method, or a new concocted path, simply leads to a dead end. Inexperienced and myopic preachers such as Dattātreya, Buddha, and other recent speculative thinkers could not properly comprehend the science of śuddha-bhakti. Yet, they have ventured to deviate from the authorized path, thus warping it, and have selected whimsically at random a little here and there from the original established ideas. One group has added impersonal māyāvādī thought to the path, whilst the other has practically destroyed it with voidistic atheism. Such teachers imagined that these horrible and ugly falsely established philosophies would foster single-minded devotion to the Supreme Lord. However, this is untrue and mistaken; such perversion of the truth cannot evoke śuddha–bhakti, but only chaos and disturbance.
“The cultivation of rāga-bhakti, spontaneous devotional service, does not depend upon an adherence to the regulations and stipulations as enunciated in the śruti, smṛti, purāṇas, and pañcarātra scriptures, which are especially earmarked for the practice of vaidhī-bhakti. Elevated devotees performing rāga–bhakti are required to follow the eternally liberated residents of Vraja-dhāma in the spiritual world. However, for the devotees on the level of vaidhī-bhakti, it is imperative to follow the examples of the great spiritual stalwarts like Dhruva, Prahlāda, Nārada, Vyāsadeva, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and so on. Hence, especially for the devotees following vaidhī–bhakti, the only authorized method is to follow in the footsteps of previous ācāryas.”
Vijaya, “What is the fifth limb, sad dharma-jijñāsā, enquiring from the spiritual master about how to advance in devotional service?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Persons who are very eager to understand and practice spiritual life may quickly attain all their spiritual desires. Eagerness means that the vaidhī–bhakti devotee enthusiastically asks the guru to explain the duties and practices of spiritual life in accordance with the directions of previous ācāryas.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of sixth limb, to renounce sense-gratification and material comfort for the sake of Śrī Kṛṣṇa?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Bhoga, sense-gratification, means to cater to the demands of the senses in an enjoying spirit and stands as a formidable obstacle to spiritual progress. If one renounces bhoga to advance in spiritual discipline for the attainment of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it is certainly most beneficial, making the path of one’s advancement smooth. This tendency towards bhoga is an addiction that constantly increases its hold upon the addict and is thus a great stumbling block to the execution of śuddha-bhakti. Therefore, a devotee must restrict his eating to only kṛṣṇa-prasādam and to an amount just suitable for the healthy maintenance of his body, thus allowing him to practice śuddha-bhakti enthusiastically. On spiritual festivals and Ekādaśī, he must fast and give up all sense enjoyments. In this way, he must train himself to eliminate the desire for sensual pleasure.”
Vijaya, “What is the significance of residing in the dhāma, for example, Dvārakā or Vṛndāvana, or living upon the banks of the Gaṅgā and Yamunā Rivers, the seventh limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The dhāmas are places where the Supreme Lord appears and displays His transcendental pastimes. The territories lying on either bank of the holy rivers are spiritually enlivening. Therefore, residing in these sanctified places naturally inspires a higher level of spiritual activity and devotion.”
Vijaya, “Is staying in Navadvīpa spiritually advantageous because it is situated on the Gaṅgā, or for other reasons also?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Ah yes! Taking residence anywhere in the thirty-two square mile area of Navadvīpa is equivalent to staying in the holiest of lands, Śrī Vṛndāvana. Within Navadvīpa, it is especially beneficial to live in Māyāpura. There are seven holy places, which award liberation: Ayodhyā, Mathurā, Māyāpura, Kāśī, Kāñcī, Avantī, and Dvārakā. Amongst these, Māyāpura is the most important abode.
“When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu descended to this material world, He brought His own original abode of Śvetadvīpa, that is Māyāpura, with Him. Four centuries after Śrī Caitanya’s advent, this Śvetadvīpa will gain preeminence over all other places of pilgrimage in the world. The benefit of residing in Navadvīpa is that all offences are nullified and the resident is crowned with śuddha–bhakti. Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī has accorded Navadvīpa the same spiritual status as Vṛndāvana, but actually he has given many examples to show that Navadvīpa may be considered even more elevated in some respects.”
Vijaya, “How can we understand the eighth limb: engaging in occupational duties just to maintain body and soul together, accepting just what is necessary?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Nāradīya Purāṇa states:
yāvatā syāt sva-nirvāhaḥ svī-kuryāt tāvad artha-vit
ādhikye nyūnatāyāṁ ca ‘cyavate paramārthataḥ
“‘A person who understands the real goal of human life will accept material possessions proportionate to his needs; any more or any less material wealth will divert him from his ultimate destination.’
“The sādhaka qualified for vaidhī–bhakti must pursue an honest profession in accordance with his varṇāsrama duties whilst engaging in bhakti-bhajana. One should acquire material possessions and wealth only according to one’s necessity. Accumulating in excess or eagerly striving after material possessions simply increases the elements of attachment and greed. Subsequently one’s affinity for matter will grow and neutralize one’s progress in bhajana. Similarly, if one accepts less than one needs for the convenient performance of one’s bhajana, the result will be the same, namely the retardation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore, until one is qualified for complete detachment one must lead a balanced life and accept wealth and possessions only to maintain one’s body and soul together in the pursuit of śuddha-bhakti.”
Vijaya, “How should a devotee observe hari–vāsara, the ninth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Pure Ekādaśī days are known as hari–vāsara. The impure viddha–ekādaśī days are not to be observed. When there is a viddha–ekādaśī then the following day known as Mahā-dvādaśī is to be observed. The process of observing Ekādaśī vows is as the following: one should be celibate from the day prior to Ekādaśī until the day after Ekādaśī, i.e. three days; on Ekādaśī, one should fast fully even giving up water; also on the Ekādaśī night, one should stay up to hear and chant; and the morning after Ekādaśī, one should break one’s fast during the specified time period.
“Ekādaśī fasting means that one should not take even mahā–prasāda. If someone is sick, there is anukalpa as a concession, i.e. one frugal and light meal may be taken according to the prescribed method described in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, in the passage starting at 9.27: …naktaṁ haviṣyānnaṁ… ‘After sunset, fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, etc., can be eaten in exiguous quantity, but not grains.’”
Vijaya, “Why do the dhātrī, myrobalan tree, and the peepul tree, etc., have a special worshipable status, as in the tenth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Skanda Purāṇa states:
pūjitāḥ praṇatā-dhyātāḥ kṣapayanti nṛnām agham
“‘All of one’s sins are absolved, if one worships, offers obeisances to, and meditates upon the sacred peepul, banyan, tulasī, and dhātrī trees, and the cow, brāhmaṇas, and Vaiṣṇavas.’
“As a part of maintaining household life within the varṇāsrama social system, the vaidhī-bhakti devotee must worship, respect, and meditate upon the banyan, peepul and other shade-giving trees; the dhātrī (myrobalan) and other fruit-bearing trees; tulasī and other plants inspiring devotion; the cow and other universally beneficial animals; the brāhmaṇas, who teach religion and maintain religious principles; and the Vaiṣṇavas, the devotees of the Lord who purify the whole world.”
Vijaya, “Kindly explain what is meant by avoiding the association of those who are materialistic or inimical to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His devotees, the eleventh limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The growth of bhāva intensifies one’s pure devotion to the Lord. As long as the devotee has not yet attained the stage of bhāva, he has to shun the company of atheists and non-devotees. Saṅga implies attachment. The various exchanges, which take place in the course of one’s necessary dealings with others, are not saṅga. Saṅga means to be attracted and attached to the companionship of a particular person. Thus, the company of those persons who are inimical to the Supreme Lord must be avoided strictly. Devotees embellished with bhāva never feel the urge to associate with agnostics and atheists. However, especially for the neophytes in vaidhī-bhakti such company is very dangerous. Just as a dust storm or a heat wave can shrivel and dry up a creeper, similarly the creeper of bhakti is destroyed in the company of non-believers.”
Vijaya, “What persons are considered inimical to Kṛṣṇa?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “There are he four types of inimical non-believers: persons who have no devotion for Kṛṣṇa; grossly materialistic persons overtly attached to women and wine; persons whose hearts are poisoned by atheism and impersonalistic māyāvādī thoughts; and persons who are engrossed in fruitive activities. Their company has to be rejected.”
Vijaya, “How can a devotee curb the desire to get many disciples and followers, as well as to initiate unworthy disciples, the twelfth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The insatiable greed for money drives some persons to collect many disciples. This is a serious fault. Increasing the number of disciples forces the person to initiate many unworthy and faithless candidates, thus committing a huge offence. Only sincere persons with actual śraddhā are fit to be initiated.”
Vijaya-kumara, “What is the meaning of ostentatiously displaying external pomp and celebration, over-endeavouring to construct costly temples and monasteries, the thirteenth limb?”
Bābājī, “One should live simply and engage in devotional service to the Lord. One should not become attached to great pomp, or to activities that require unnecessary endeavour. Such endeavours will distract the heart of neophytes from the worship of the Lord.”
Vijaya, “What is giving up accumulating many books, quoting from and analysing extensively from non-devotional sources, the fourteenth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The scriptures are a bottomless, shoreless expanse. However, one should focus one’s studies upon those spiritual subjects that interest one. Collect the relevant books and scrutinize them thoroughly. No one can master a subject if he reads bits and scraps haphazardly from myriads of literature. This is especially relevant in the study of bhakti. Undivided attention when reading the bhakti literature can alone produce a comprehensive grasp of sambandha, which is indispensable for one’s spiritual progress. Furthermore, one should understand and explain the straight-forward, direct meaning of a text—too much analysis and extrapolation only lead to misconception.”
Vijaya, “What is meant by not being miserly, neglectful and capricious in ordinary material dealings, the fifteenth item?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “To maintain the body, it is necessary to procure proper food, shelter and clothing. If these things are not available, one suffers. In addition, if one has acquired them and they are lost, one also suffers. When the devotee has to endure such reversals, he must not succumb to despair and anxiety, rather he should peacefully pray to the Supreme Lord and remember Him with a steady heart.”
Vijaya, “How may one overcome the numbing grip of sorrow, frustration and distress, the sixteenth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “How can the mind dominated by lamentation, fear, anger, greed, envy, etc., meditate upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa? A devotee may become afflicted by lamentation and illusion because of the death of a family member, or because a coveted desire remains unfulfilled, but he must not allow such feelings to paralyse and cripple him. It is natural to mourn the demise of a son, but one must quickly overcome such unhappiness by taking shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and praying to Him for solace and strength. In this way, a devotee must train himself to always remember the lotus feet of the Lord in all conditions.”
Vijaya, “The seventeenth limb is that one should not disrespect the Devas and Devīs. Does this imply that they should be worshiped?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The cultivation of single-minded devotion to Śrī Kṛṣṇa is most essential for the devotee. One must not worship the Devas considering them as separate and independent of the supreme control of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Yet, in the presence of other persons worshiping the Devas, the kṛṣṇa-bhakta must not denigrate the Devas. Every Deva must be regarded as an elevated devotee of Kṛṣṇa and an object of one’s reverence, but at the same time, one should remember that only Śrī Kṛṣṇa is worthy of worship by all the Devas. Thus, for the kṛṣṇa-bhakta, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the prime goal of all worship and meditation, under all conditions.
“As long as unalloyed devotion has not blossomed, the heart and consciousness of the conditioned jīva are not free from the influence of the material modes. Moreover, only persons controlled by the three material modes would consider the worship of Devas as equivalent to the worship of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Thus, the worship of different Devas may be recommended to those persons whose consciousness is overpowered by the three material modes—a different Deva according to their individual preference, which is dictated according to the particular influence of the material modes upon their consciousness. By these materially conditioned preferences, they are only eligible to worship the Devas. And, in their present condition, such worship is certainly good for them, and thus they should develop proper faith and endeavour in their particular worship. Therefore, a Kṛṣṇa devotee should not show the slightest disregard to the object of their worship. By the mercy of the Devas, these worshipers will eventually be purified of the contamination caused by the infection of the material modes.”
Vijaya, “How may one stop being the cause of anxiety and disturbance to other living beings, the eighteenth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Śrī Kṛṣṇa is quickly pleased with persons who desist from causing pain and anxiety to other living entities out of compassion for them. Dayā, compassion, is the foremost Vaiṣṇava quality.”
Vijaya, “How can we stop committing sevā-aparādha and nāma-aparādha, the nineteenth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Sevā–aparādha is connected to Deity worship, whereas nāmāparādha is related to śuddha–bhakti and spiritual life in general. Both types of offence are to be shunned very carefully. There are thirty-two sevā-aparādhas, beginning with riding a palanquin into the Lord’s temple and wearing shoes in the Lord’s temple; and ten nāmāparādhas, beginning with blaspheming the devotees who have dedicated their lives to preaching the glories of the Lord.”
Vijaya, “A devotee should not tolerate that Kṛṣṇa or the Vaiṣṇavas are criticized, the twentieth limb. Does this instruction imply that the devotee must counter immediately?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Those who blaspheme Kṛṣṇa and the Vaiṣṇavas are non-believers and inimical to Kṛṣṇa. This offensive attitude must not be tolerated for any reason; the devotee has to renounce such company strictly.”
Vijaya, “Is there a particular connection between the first twenty limbs of bhakti and the remaining forty-four limbs?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The latter forty-four limbs are contained within the first twenty limbs. They are mentioned independently to highlight their significance and to help one understand them better. The thirty limbs from the twenty-first up to the fiftieth, inclusive, may be categorized under the banner of arcanā–mārga, the process of Deity worship.
“The twenty-first limb is to place the Vaiṣṇava symbols upon the body. The symbols consist of three strands of tulasī beads upon the neck and tilaka markings on twelve places of the body. The twenty-second limb instructs the devotee to write the names of the Supreme Lord or the names of the Pañca Tattva upon the upper part of the body, or upon the forehead, with sandalwood paste or tilaka.
“The twenty-third limb is referred to in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 11.6.46:
ucchiṣṭa-bhojino dāsās tava māyāṁ jayema hi
“‘Uddhava said, “My dear Kṛṣṇa, simply by decorating ourselves with the garlands, fragrant oils, clothes and ornaments that You have already enjoyed, and by eating the remnants of Your meals, we, Your servants, will indeed conquer Your illusory energy.’
“In this śloka of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Śrī Uddhava clearly explains the efficacy of the remnants of the Lord.
“The next limbs of devotional service are as follows: The twenty-fourth, one should learn to dance devotionally before the Deities of the Lord. The twenty-fifth, upon seeing the Deity or spiritual master, one should prostrate oneself immediately with great reverence. The twenty-sixth, one should stand up and greet the Deities and one’s guru as a mark of respect, and the twenty-seventh, one should follow in procession behind the Deity and guru. The twenty-eight, one should regularly visit Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s temple and His dhāmas. The twenty-ninth, one should circumambulate the temple, Deity and dhāmas, etc., the prescribed number of times. The thirtieth, arcana, one should offer worship to the Deity with the prescribed articles. These seven limbs from the twenty-fourth up to the thirtieth inclusive are self-explanatory.
“The thirty-first limb, offering voluntary humble service to the Deity and the Vaiṣṇavas, is best explained in the words of the following śloka from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Pūrva 2.61:
paricaryā tu sevopakaraṇādi-pariṣkriyā
tathā prakīrṇaka-cchatra-vāditrādyair upāsanā
“‘Any person who makes arrangements for serving the Lord in the same way as attendants serve their king—with parasol, cāmara, musical instruments and other such paraphernalia—is surely elevated to the abode of Śrī Kṛṣṇa after death.’
“This śloka explains the meaning of humble attendance upon the Deity and Vaiṣṇavas.
“The next fifteen limbs, the thirty-second to the forty-sixth inclusive, have straight-forward, clear meanings. The thirty-second, one should sing devotional bhajanas and kīrtanas in glorification of the Lord for His pleasure. The thirty-third, one should participate in saṅkīrtana with one’s fellow devotees. The thirty-fourth, one should practice japa meditation, i.e. chanting nāma–mantra very softly, only for one’s own hearing whilst counting upon one’s beads or fingers. The thirty-fifth, one should offer prayers with great feelings of humility and meekness, thus offering one’s very self in complete submission to the Lord. The thirty-sixth, with devotion one should recite authorised, notable and choice prayers from the devotional scriptures such as the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. The thirty-seventh, one should honour and relish kṛṣṇa–prasādam. The thirty-eight, one should drink caraṇāmṛta, the water used to bathe the Deity. The thirty-ninth, one should smell the incense, oils, flowers, etc., previously offered to the Lord. The fortieth, one should touch the lotus feet of the Deity—this limb is for those devotees who have been properly initiated. The forty-first, one should present oneself before and thus take the darśana of the Deity. The forty-second, one should joyfully participate in the āratī and other celebrations of the Deity. The forty-third, one should attentively hear about the name, beauty, qualities and unlimited pastimes of the Lord. The forty-fourth, one should wait patiently for the Lord to shower His mercy, whilst regularly pursuing one’s devotional practice. The forty-fifth, one should practice contemplation of the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord. The forty-sixth, one should practice meditation upon the service, name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord, including rendering manasi-sevā, service within the mind.
“The forty-seventh limb, dāsya, devotional service in servitude, is of two kinds: karmāpana, offering the results of one’s fruitive activities; and kaiṅkarya, to be constantly engaged in the service of the Deity with body, mind and words. The forty-eight limb, sakhya, devotional service in friendship, is of two moods: viśvāsa, as a confidential servant; and mitra-vṛtti, as a well-wishing friend. The forty-ninth limb, ātma–nivedana indicates the devotional mood of complete self-surrender. Ātmā specifies the ‘self’, but not just the jīva soul, but ātmā also indicates both deha-niṣṭha ahamta, the concept that ‘I am this material body’, and deha-niṣṭha mamatā, the concept that ‘this body and its possessions are mine’. These two concepts one should nivedana, surrender, to the lotus feet of the Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, kindly explain more about deha-niṣṭha ahamta, ‘I am this body’; and deha-niṣṭha mamatā, ‘this body and its possessions are mine’.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The occupier of deha, the material body, is called dehī. He is the jīva indicated by aham, I, which is the sense of self—the ego. When the jīva incorrectly identifies his self as being the material body, this is known as deha-niṣṭha ahamta. This then leads to the second illusory concept under which the material body and everything related to the material body are claimed as one’s own rightful possessions. This illusory concept is known as deha-niṣṭha mamatā. The self, the material body and its possessions must be purified by being offered to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. One should give up the false material identity and illusory concepts of, ‘I’ and ‘Mine’. Thus, in devotional life one should assert oneself with the real ‘I’, the identity of being the servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, subsisting on kṛṣṇa-prasādam. In addition, one’s body, mind, words, and possessions are to be surrendered to Śrī Kṛṣṇa to be utilized as instruments for His service, thus purifying oneself of the illusory concept of ‘Mine’. A devotee whose consciousness is thus immersed is on the platform of ātma–nivedana.”
Vijaya, “How shall we offer Kṛṣṇa our most exquisite and favourite objects, the fiftieth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “In this world whatever special object that has attracted our attention and attachment should be offered to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and considered as His own property. This is known as offering a favourite article to the Lord.”
Vijaya, “How does a person make a whole-hearted endeavour for Kṛṣṇa, the fifty-first limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Whether the Vedic or ordinary duties of this material world, one’s activities should be performed in the manner that is favourable for Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In this way, the activities satisfy Śrī Kṛṣṇa and are known as making all endeavours, even taking risks, for the sake of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Vijaya, “What is the meaning of in every condition one should be a surrendered soul, the fifty-second limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “When one is absorbed in the thoughts, ‘O Lord, I am Yours in all respects,’ and ‘O Lord, I surrender myself unto You completely,’ this attitude of resignation is called being a surrendered soul.”
Vijaya, “How is Tulasī Devī to be served, the fifty-third limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Tulasī Devī may be served in nine ways: seeing Tulasī, touching Tulasī, meditating upon Tulasī, glorifying Tulasī, bowing down before Tulasī, hearing the glorification of Tulasī, planting Tulasī, tasting Tulasī, and worshiping Tulasī daily. All these services to Tulasī Devī are ultimately meant for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord, thus the glories of Tulasī Devī are endless.”
Vijaya, “How can the scriptures be given proper respect, the fifty-four limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Texts which determine, analyse and establish pure devotion to the Supreme Lord are śāstra. Amongst the many śāstras, the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the foremost since it is the refined essence of the Vedānta. Those elevated saints who are steeped in the immortal ambrosia of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, i.e. the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, are not attracted to any other scriptures.”
Vijaya, “How should Mathurā, the birth-place of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, be glorified, the fifty-fifth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Hear, remember, glorify the transcendental qualities of Mathurā, have a desire to visit Mathurā on pilgrimage, smear one’s body with the dust of Mathurā, reside in Mathurā, and serve the sacred land. All these activities fulfil one’s most coveted wishes. Equally significant spiritually is Śrī Māyāpura-dhāma.”
Vijaya, “What does it mean to serve the Vaiṣṇavas, the fifty-sixth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Vaiṣṇavas are very dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. By serving them, a person attains bhakti to the Supreme Lord. The śāstras declare that the worship of Śrī Viṣṇu is supreme amongst all varieties of worship, but even higher than the worship of Śrī Viṣṇu is the worship of the servants of Viṣṇu, the Vaiṣṇavas.”
Vijaya, “How does one perform ceremonies in glorification of the Lord according to one’s financial position, the fifty-seventh limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Purchase ingredients for offerings to the Lord according to one’s means. After worshiping the Lord and offering Him delicacies, His pure devotees, the saintly Vaiṣṇavas, must be served prasādam to their full satisfaction. This is known as mahotsava, a grand celebration. It is the best form of celebration in the world.”
Vijaya, “How should one honour the month of Kārttika, the fifty-eighth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Another name for Kārttika is Ūrja. The devotees take special vows of renunciation and increase their devotional activities of hearing, chanting, remembering, circumambulation, etc., to celebrate the pastimes of Śrī Dāmodara, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This practice is also known as Ūrjadara, worship in the month of Kārttika.”
Vijaya, “How should the appearance days of the Lord be celebrated, the fifty-ninth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “For the surrendered devotees, the Supreme Lord’s appearance days—such as Kṛṣṇa-janmāṣṭamī, the eight day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhādra, and Gaura-pūrṇimā, the full moon day in the month of Phālguna—are very special and spiritually significant. They are carefully celebrated with spiritual sobriety and devotional fervour by those who are dedicated and are also known as Śrī Janma-yātrā.”
Vijaya, “How should the Deities be served and worshiped with proper faith, the sixtieth limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “When performing Deity worship service the devotee must always remain enthusiastic and maintain a loving attitude towards the Lord. A sincere soul is not bestowed the pathetic and worthless gift of impersonal liberation through Deity worship, but is rewarded with the priceless transcendental gem of bhakti by the Supreme Lord.”
Vijaya, “Mahārāja, kindly explain how we can relish the nectar of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in the exalted company of those rasika devotees who are forever steeped within its divine rasa, the sixty-first limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Vedas are a wish-fulfilling desire tree and the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the deliciously ripened fruit of this desire tree. To savour this nectar is impossible in the company of those who do not have any actual taste for it. In fact, one becomes an offender, if one tries to do so. The sincere aspirant must find a pure devotee—one who is imbued with rasa and thirsty for hearing Kṛṣṇa’s sublime pastimes—and in his association relish the succulent sweetness of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. In non-devotional assemblies and mundane social gatherings, a discussion upon and reading from the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam will have a negative, or at best no effect, upon spiritual progress.”
Vijaya, “What is meant by associating with devotees who are peaceful, elevated, and have similar spiritual sentiments to oneself, the sixty-second limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “One cannot advance spiritually if one associates with non-devotees, even if one rubber-stamps them as devotees. A sincere devotee always desires to enter and engage in the transcendental service of the eternal, supramundane pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This is the hallmark of a true bhakta, devotee. Amongst the bhaktas, those who are more elevated than oneself should be sought out, because association with them enhances one’s own quality of bhakti. Otherwise, the growth of bhakti will be arrested and one will be gradually dragged down to the same level of the persons with whom one is associating. We are warned against this danger in the Hari–bhakti–sudhodaya, 8.51:
yasya yat-saṅgatiḥ puṁso maṇivat syāt sa tad-guṇaḥ
sva-kularddhye tato dhīmān sva-yuthāny eva saṁśrayet
“‘A person gradually acquires the characteristics of the company he keeps, much like a gem stone which lends some of its own colour and sparkle to other substances in touch with it. Therefore, a person can become a pure devotee in the saintly association of devotees.’”
Vijaya, “How is nāma–kīrtana defined, the sixty-third limb?”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Nāma is a transcendental, spiritual entity without the slightest trace of materialism. Nāma voluntarily appears upon the tongue of the enthusiastic devotee whose senses have been purified by devotion. Certainly nāma is not perceivable by materially polluted senses. With the wholehearted devotional attitude, a devotee should chant hari-nāma, individually and congregationally.”
Vijaya, “Śrīla Gurudeva, by your mercy, we have already understood the purport of residing in Mathurā, the birth-place of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, or a place where Śrī Kṛṣṇa reveals his pastimes, only for the purpose of kṛṣṇa–bhakti, the sixty-four limb. Now we would like to know the essence of all these sixty-four limbs of bhakti that you have so kindly explained.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The last five of the sixty-four limbs we have just discussed constitute the topmost activities of bhakti. If any devotee can even sparingly perform these activities without offence, he is very quickly elevated to the platform of bhāva–bhakti upon the strength of their spiritual potency.”
Vijaya, “Revered Gurujī, kindly instruct us in whatever more we should know about sādhana–bhakti.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The devotional limbs described here offer certain superfluous, subsidiary, non-devotional results that are mentioned in the scriptures, but in principle those results are propounded only to attract and motivate the worldly-minded to engage in bhakti. By contact with the transcendental purity of bhakti the materialistic predilection of the worldly-minded will be gradually transformed into the real and primary consequence of bhakti—attachment to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The serious students and knowledgeable exponents of śuddha–bhakti feel that the eternal devotional results should be the goal, whilst the transient fruitive aspects are disposable.
“A person obtains some degree of eligibility to tread the path of bhakti because of his jñāna, knowledge, and vairāgya, renunciation, but it cannot be taken for granted that this jñāna and vairāgya will be transformed into actual practice of the limbs of śuddha–bhakti. Jñāna and vairāgya tend to steel and dry up the heart, whereas the effect of bhakti is soft and smooth, and thus melts the heart. However, jñāna and vairāgya resulting from the practice of bhakti are unquestionably accepted as a part of śuddha–bhakti.
“On their own, jñāna and vairāgya are inadequate to crown anyone with the delicious fruit of śuddha-bhakti—they can never be the cause of śuddha–bhakti. Moreover, what they fail to offer is given easily by bhakti. By properly executing śuddha-bhakti, a unique taste for serving and worshiping Śrī Kṛṣṇa is generated to such an extent that even the strongest material attachments are completely dissipated.
“The sādhaka must carefully practise yukta–vairāgya, and simultaneously avoid phalgu–vairāgya, false, dry renunciation. All suitable material objects may be utilized in the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, simply because they belong to Him. However, at the same time, one must be without mundane attachment for these material objects. Handling matter in such a balanced way is known as yukta–vairāgya. Everything is a part of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and has a connection to Him. Simply renouncing matter because it is supposedly non-spiritual and mundane, whilst stoking the burning desire for monistic liberation—this is called phalgu–vairāgya. Therefore, mundane knowledge and false renunciation pursued without relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa must be discarded.
“The false public exhibition of the ecstatic symptoms of bhakti by materialistic pseudo-devotees with ulterior motives for the accumulation of wealth, followers and disciples is far, far removed from śuddha-bhakti and is certainly not a limb of bhakti. Virtuous character and qualities such as viveka, intelligent discrimination, are an embellishment for those entering and practicing the path of bhakti, but should not be considered to be the necessary qualifications to engage in bhakti.
“Devotees practising bhakti are often graced by qualities such as sense control, discipline, cleanliness, etc., which appear naturally and without special effort. Nevertheless, they are not limbs of bhakti. These characteristics and more, such as internal and external purity, austerity, equipoise, and so on, automatically blossom in the personality of a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. He does not have to make a separate effort to cultivate them. Any person who sincerely endeavours to practise any one or more of the principle limbs of bhakti, as just explained, will definitely attain perfection in spiritual life, Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
“I have thus narrated everything about vaidhī–sādhana–bhakti in a nutshell. You may try to implement these instructions to the best of your ability.”
Vrajanātha and Vijaya-kumāra prostrated themselves before the lotus feet of Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, and said humbly, “O Gurudeva! Please be merciful upon us and save us from the deep well of false pride in which we are drowning.”
Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī replied, “Śrī Kṛṣṇa will certainly bestow His blessings upon you.”
Through the reassuring silence of the late night, uncle and nephew returned home, their hearts humming with elation and their minds meditating upon the teachings they had just received from Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja.
Thus ends the twentieth chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled:
Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana, Part Eight: Abhidheya: Vaidhī Sādhana Bhakti, the Practice of Regulative Devotional Service