According to modern western thought, Vaiṣṇavas are debauchees and bhakti is simply licentiousness
Naren Bābu and Anand Bābu were lying down together, but for a long time they were unable to sleep because of various thoughts. Naren Bābu said, “Anand Bābu! What do you think? For a long time we knew Vaiṣṇavism as most despicable. Some debauchees turned Kṛṣṇa, the crest jewel of debauchees, into God. Even that day Reverend Chart gave a long captivating speech on this subject. Our own head ācārya especially warned us many times about Kṛṣṇa. One day he said that the Vaiṣṇavas speak highly about devotional service, but actually they take the lusty affairs of men and women to be bhakti. He doesn’t see that there is a natural propensity which is known as bhakti. But seeing the Vaiṣṇavas’ devotional mood and listening to their instructions, so pregnant with knowledge, I no longer feel disrespect towards them. What do you say?”
Anand Bābu said, “I don’t know, for some reason I now have special faith in them. Paṇḍita Bābājī is such a saintly person! Simply seeing him awakens one’s devotion for God. His instructions are like nectar. His humility is exemplary. His knowledge is boundless. Just see, Yogi Bābājī is such a scholar and expert in yoga-śāstra, yet he still learns so much from Paṇḍita Bābājī.”
Naren Bābu’s doubt concerning Deity worship as idolatry and his speculation on this subject
Naren Bābu said, “I’ve noted a wonderful point from Paṇḍita Bābājī’s talks. The Deity worshiped by the Vaiṣṇavas is not an idol separate from the Lord, but it is just a representation which invokes devotion to the Lord. But my doubt is this: can the divinity be observed in such a token form? The Lord is the all-pervading, omnipresent person. If we put Him in a limited form, are His glories not minimized by subjugating Him into a particular time and place? Moreover, is it a sign of intelligence to imagine one thing in another?”
Anand Bābu’s more refined conception of Deity worship
Anand Bābu understood a little more. He said, “Naren Bābu! I no longer like to have such doubts. The Supreme Lord is that person who is without a second, no one is equal or superior to Him. Everything is controlled by Him. There is nothing that can arouse enviousness in Him. Whatever activity one does to attain devotion to Him, He awards the fruits according to the firm determination in one’s heart. Particularly, all formless truths have some representation. Although the representation is different from the represented object, still, it symbolizes the mood of that object. As watches represent formless time, essays represent subtle knowledge, and pictures represent acts of mercy, in the same way there is no doubt about the benefit obtained from the form of the Deity in the execution of devotional service. I don’t feel Deity worship should be despised as idolatry. Rather, the Deity may be especially adored, considering it a representation of the Supreme. If the watch and books are kept with care, then what is wrong in worshiping the Deity which invokes devotional feelings? The Lord knows that such activities are meant for Him. He will certainly be pleased as a result.”
Bābājī assures them to discuss idol worship later and advises them to sleep
Naren Bābu and Anand Bābu thought Yogi Bābājī and Mallik Mahāśaya had fallen asleep. That is why they were openly discussing all those subjects. Yogi Bābājī was always beyond sleep, therefore, after hearing all their talk he gestured and said, “It is late in the night, go to sleep. Tomorrow I will discuss all these topics.”
Naren Bābu and Anand Bābu had now become quite faithful. Apprehending Bābājī’s mercy, they respectfully said, “Bābājī! We also take shelter at your feet as Mallik Mahāśaya did. We pray for your mercy.”
Bābājī said, “I’ll try to explain tomorrow.”
In a short time everyone fell asleep. Seeing them sleep, Bābājī engaged in yoga practices which they were unable to see.
Yogi Bābājī explains rāja-yoga – the eight processes of rāja-yoga
Rising early in the morning they performed their morning duties and sat at the base of the pañcavaṭī.
Mallik Mahāśaya inquired about rāja-yoga, and Bābājī began to explain, “Samādhi is the main process of rāja-yoga. In order to attain samādhi one first practices yama, then niyama, then āsana, then prāṇāyāma, then pratyāhāra, then dhyāna, and then dhāraṇā. One must practice these processes. If the sādhaka is of good character, religious, and pure, however, he then first practices āsana. If he has faulty character or any impure mleccha habits, then he must certainly first practice yama and niyama. The philosophy of Patañjali is the śāstra of the yoga system. I will explain rāja-yoga based on Patañjali’s statements.
“yama-niyama-prāṇāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāraṇā-dhyāna-samadhayo ‘ṣṭāvaṅgāni” (Pd. 2.29)
“(1) Yama, (2) niyama, (3) āsana, (4) prāṇāyāma, (5) pratyāhāra, (6) dhāraṇā, (7) dhyāna, and (8) samādhi—these are the eight processes of rāja-yoga.”
(1) Yama – five kinds such as nonviolence and truthfulness
ahiṁsā-satyāsteya-brahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥ (Pd. 2.30)
(A) Ahiṁsā, nonviolence; (B) satya, truthfulness; (C) asteya, refraining from theft; (D) brahmacarya, celibacy; and (E) aparigraha, freedom from possessiveness—these five are yama. Those who are violent should carefully give it up.
(A) The desire to kill other living entities is called hiṁsā. Yavanas, as well as Āryans who are influenced by tamo-guṇa or rajo-guṇa, should practice ahiṁsā before taking instructions in yoga.
(B) Those who are liars should practice speaking the truth.
(C) Those who steal other’s wealth should practice asteya.
(D) Those who are fond of sex should refrain from that habit.
(E) Those who desire other’s wealth should subjugate that desire.
(2) Niyama—five kinds such as cleanliness and satisfaction
śauca-santoṣa-tapaḥ-svādhyāyeśvara-praṇidhānāni niyamāḥ (Pd. 2.32)
`Śauca, cleanliness; santoṣa, satisfaction; tapa, austerity; svādhyāya, Vedic study; and iśvara–praṇidhāna, meditation on the Supreme Lord—these five are niyama.’ The body should be kept clean. Learn to keep the mind satisfied. Learn to tolerate all kinds of difficulties. If one has committed many sins, one should learn to repent for them. One should acquire knowledge by studying the Vedic literatures. One should learn to engage his mind in the Lord.
(3) Āsana—Out of thirty-two kinds, padmāsana and svastikāsana
(tatra) sthira-sukhamāsanam (Pd. 2.46)
All the āsanas I previously mentioned in the description of haṭha-yoga are accepted in rāja-yoga also. Padmāsana and svastikāsana are famous in rāja-yoga. For example, padmāsana is described as follows:
urvoru-parivinyasya samyak pādatale ubhe aṅguṣṭhau ca nivadhnīyāt hastābhyāṁ vyutkramāt tathā
‘Placing the soles of both feet on the thighs and holding the big toes with the hands (is called padmāsana).’
And svastikāsana is described in these words:
jānūrvorantare yogī kṛtvā pādatale ubheṛjukāyaḥ samāsīnaḥ svastikaṁ tat pracakṣyate
‘Placing the soles between the knee and thigh and sitting straight is called svastikāsana.’
(4) Prāṇāyāma—Perfection by recaka, pūraka, and kumbhaka
tasmin sati śvāsa-praśvāsayor gati-vicchedaḥ prāṇāyāmaḥ (Pd. 2.49)
‘When performing āsanas, prāṇāyāma in the form of moving and stopping the incoming and outgoing airs should be practiced.’ When the air is exhaled through the nostrils, that is called recaka or svasa. When the air is inhaled through the nostrils, that is called pūraka or prasvasa. When the air is retained, that is called kumbhaka. By recaka, pūraka, and kumbhaka one becomes perfect in prāṇāyāma.
People who have perfected yama and niyama and mastered āsanas should practice prāṇāyāma. Three rules in the practice of prāṇāyāma: (A) relating to place, (B) relating to time, and(C) relating to number
(sa tu) bāhyābhyantara-stanbhavṛttir deśa-kāla-saṅkhyābhiḥ paridṛṣto dīrgha-sūkṣmaḥ (Pd. 2.50)
‘In the practice of prāṇāyāma, while inhaling, exhaling, and retaining air, there are a few rules relating to the place, time, and number.’
(A) The rules regarding place are as follows: The sādhaka should go to a sacred, level, undisturbed place where the body, mind, and intelligence can remain fixed. Sitting on a seat of kuśa grass covered with deerskin and soft cloth, the sādhaka should practice prāṇāyāma. Nearby there should be a transparent reservoir of water. The room should be clean, and the air should be healthy. Light foods which are pleasing to the sādhaka should be easily available nearby. There should be no disturbances from snakes, animals, and mosquitos. The place should not be far from one’s native land, but it should also not be one’s own house.
(B) The rules regarding time are as follows: The best time for practicing prāṇāyāma is at the beginning or end of winter. Prāṇāyāma may be nicely practiced in the morning, midday, afternoon, and late night. Prāṇāyāma should not be done on an empty stomach or just after eating. The sādhaka must take light food. Intoxicants, meat, and fish are forbidden. Sour, dry, salty, and spicy foods are also forbidden. Slightly sweet and fatty foods, especially sweet rice should be taken from time to time. Irregular activities like early morning bath and late night eating are forbidden.
(C) Rules regarding number are as follows: Being seated, one should mentally chant bīja mantra sixteen times while inhaling through the nerves iḍā, or candra. That air should be retained while chanting upto sixty-four times. Then that air should be exhaled while chanting upto thirty-two. After that one should inhale through the nostril called sūrya, or piṅgalā, while chanting sixteen times, retain while chanting sixty-four times, and exhale through iḍā chanting thirty-two times. Again one should inhale through the iḍā and, after retaining, exhale through the piṅgalā while chanting as before. By doing this three times, one matra, or unit, of prāṇāyāma is complete. The left nostril is called iḍā, or candra, and the right is called piṅgalā, or sūrya. The retention cavity is called suṣumnā. According to other opinions recaka is done first. In either case the result is the same.
Through purification of the nerves by `matra,’ prāṇāyāma’s kumbhaka is performed
By practicing prāṇāyāma from one to twelve matras, adhama-matra is done. If one can do sixteen matras it is madhyama-matra. By practicing twenty matras, uttama-matra is accomplished. All matras are done five times—morning, midday, afternoon, after dusk, and midnight.
After three months of practice in this way the nerves are purified. After the nerves are purified, prāṇāyāma’s fourth part, kevala-kumbhaka is completed. Patañjali has stated:
bāhyābhyantara-viṣayākṣepī caturthaḥ (Pd. 2.51)
‘Prāṇāyāma is performed without recaka and pūraka in the fourth kumbhaka (called kevala).’
If kumbhaka is performed well, two great fruits are obtained. First, the mind’s covering of external perception is reduced. Second, one’s mind becomes eligible for dhāraṇā.
svaviṣayāsamprayoge cittasya svarūpānukāraivendriyāṇāṁ pratyāhāraḥ (Pd. 2.54)
‘When the senses are not fully engaged in their respective sense objects but are restrained within and simply superficially touch the sense objects, that is called pratyāhāra.’ When one practices to gradually engage the act of seeing within, that is called pratyāhāra of the eyes. Similarly, when all the senses are withdrawn, the mind is gradually controlled and hankering for sense gratification diminishes. Only a sādhaka can experience how this happens. I got special benefit by practicing this system.
deśa bandhaś cittasya dhāraṇā (Pd. 3.1)
‘When the mind is fixed on some place like the navel or nose this is called dhāraṇā.’ The ultimate result of dhāraṇā is obtained with the help of dhyāna and the awakening of samādhi. But, during the practice of dhāraṇā many powers are acquired. I don’t think it’s necessary to mention them here. It should be known that those who are seeking the ultimate truth don’t look for powers. Although many powers are present while practicing dhāraṇā, the Vaiṣṇavas don’t accept them. What the yoga philosophers call dhāraṇā is called mudrās in haṭha-yoga.
tatra pratyayaikatānatā-dhyānam (Pd. 3.2)
`In the place where dhāraṇā is executed, the harmony of jñāna is called dhyāna.’ For example, when dhāraṇā is fixed on Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, that state of harmonious knowledge or conviction is called caraṇa–dhyāna, or meditation on the Lord’s feet. If dhāraṇā is not fixed, then undisturbed dhyāna is not possible.
(8) Samādhi: In rāja-yoga one can relish prema while practicing rāja–yoga in the state of samādhi
tad evārtha mātra-nirbhāsaṁ svarūpa-śūnyam iva samādhiḥ (Pd. 3.3)
`When the object obtained by dhāraṇā remains manifest in dhyāna, but it appears devoid of identity, that state is called samādhi.’ Those impersonalists who achieve samādhi no longer note the characteristic called viśeṣa, or variety. That sort of samādhi is attained in the final stage of haṭha-yoga. In the state of samādhi in rāja-yoga, truth beyond material nature is realized. In that state one can taste unalloyed love. That subject cannot be described by words. When you attain samādhi, you can understand that state. Anything more than what I’ve instructed cannot be expressed in words.”
Mallik Mahāśaya’s eagerness to learn rāja-yoga
Yogi Bābājī spoke until here and then stopped. During the explanation, Mallik Mahāśaya wrote down a little summary of each topic. When the instructions came to samādhi, he fell at Bābājī’s feet and said, “Prabhu! Be kind on this servant and teach me yoga practice. I’m selling my life at your holy feet.”
Bābājī picked Mallik Mahāśaya up, embraced him, and said, “Yoga practice is done alone. You can start tonight.”
Being pleased by Bābājī’s scholarship and gravity, Naren Bābu and Anand Bābu humbly bowed their heads and offered their respectful obeisances to Bābājī.
Anand and Naren Bābu propose to take instructions from Bābājī
Anand Bābu said, “Bābājī Mahāśaya! We came like lions, now we’ve become like dogs. When we came we thought that the Hindus have given up social life for idol worship and useless vows. We were to offer them life again with our preaching of Brahmoism. We thought Vaiṣṇavas were bereft of understanding the Absolute Truth and uselessly renounce the world on the advice of others. They accept the renounced order simply as a means to get a woman. Our preaching the illuminating teachings of Brahmoism would dispel the darkness from the Vaiṣṇavas’ hearts. We have come to your holy feet for just a few days, but our misconceptions have been dispelled by seeing your behavior, scholarship, and divine love. What more can we say, we’ve decided to stay at your holy feet.”
Vaiṣṇavas are faultless, but doubting why they’re called idol worshipers, the Bābus inquire from Bābājī
Naren Bābu offered his obeisances at Bābājī’s feet and humbly said, “If you have compassion on us, then please dispel these few doubts and free us from our mental distress. I’m convinced that Vaiṣṇavism is almost faultless. Whatever appears defective in our speculative hearts, whatever misconceptions arise, are all actually not mistakes but some kind of special traditions. By these traditions unknown subjects are made known to the common people. I don’t think that such an exalted scholar as you would practice any illusory worship.”
Bābājī explains the science of Vaiṣṇavism
With a smile on his face, Bābājī said, “Bābujī! You’ve come close to the truth. The Vaiṣṇava science is actually aparokṣavāda. What is suddenly heard or seen is not necessarily true. The science of Vaiṣṇavism is completely transcendental. That’s why all the histories, descriptions, and delineations on Vaiṣṇavism are related to the spiritual world. We commonly call that world Vaikuṇṭha. The wonder and variety of that world cannot be put in words, nor can it be comprehended by the mind. The reason is that words and mind are always bound by material endeavor. The nature of Vaikuṇṭha is described and delineated in Vaiṣṇavism with the support of similar truths in respective subjects within the material world. Vaiṣṇavism is examined and scrutinised by supreme samādhi. That is why in Vaiṣṇavism more faultless, confidential truths can be attained than in religions which arise from speculative philosophies. All religions that are based on speculation are insignificant and incomplete. But when the goal of religion is found through samādhi, you should know that is the eternal religion of the living entity. Indeed, prema is the life of Vaiṣṇavism. Prema can never be attained in religion which follows the path of speculation. Most fortunately, you’re attracted by Vaiṣṇava prema. After honoring prasāda today, I will listen to your doubts and clear them as far as I’m able.”
Bābājī and the Bābus chant and dance before the Deity
At that time the conch was blown in the temple room. Bābājī said, “Pūjā is finished. Let us take darśana of the Deity.”
Everyone got up and took the Lord’s darśana with folded hands. Tears of ecstasy started flowing from Bābājī’s eyes. Bābājī began dancing and singing the following song:
jaya rādhe kṛṣṇa, jaya rādhe kṛṣṇa, jaya vṛndāvana-candra
Seeing the Bābājī’s ecstatic dance, Mallik Mahāśaya also began to dance.
Naren Bābu and Anand Bābu said, “Let us also dance. No one is here to laugh at us. If our doubts are dispelled today, then we won’t feel shy chanting Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.” Saying this the two started clapping and dancing with Bābājī. Then the pūjārī brought caraṇāmṛta and they all took.
After a while the midday bhoga offering was finished. Then Bābājī and the three Bābus took prasāda with great respect.