Haridāsa and Premadāsa Bābājī enter Paṇḍita Bābājī’s cave in Govardhana, hey go with him to the assembly stage,and a Bābājī from Birbum performs kīrtana
Fully decorated as Vaiṣṇavas, Haridāsa and Premadāsa arrived at Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī’s āśrama. Gopī-candana shone on their foreheads, and three strands of tulasī beads decorated their necks. Their right hands continuously counted the holy names on japa-mālā within their japa bags. The lower part of their bodies were covered with kaupīna and outer cloth, their heads were beautified by śikhās, and their limbs were marked with the Lord’s holy names. From their lips came the two names, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa.” They had not slept that night, as they had come almost sixteen miles, yet they did not appear tired or exhausted. They were so enthusiastic for the Vaiṣṇavas’ darśana that they hardly noticed the crowd of people at the entrance of the cave.
Although Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī usually performed bhajana in his cave, in order to discuss with other sādhus he had built some kuṭiras and a maṇḍapa, which was covered with mādhavī creepers. The two Bābājīs entered the cave and offered obeisances before Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī. Seeing the two Bābājīs, Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī became filled with bliss. After a while, when he heard that other sādhus were assembling, he went with the two Bābājīs and sat in the maṇḍapa. At that time a singer from Birbum sat facing the Vaiṣṇavas and, taking their permission, began singing from Gītāvalī (in Lalita rāga):
nā karṇayati suhṛd upadeśaṁ mādhava cāṛu paṭhanam api leśaṁ sīdati sakhi mama hṛdayam-adhīraṁ yada bhajam iha nahi gokula-vīraṁ
nā lokayam arpitam uru hāraṁ praṇamantam ca dayitam anuvāraṁ
hanta sanātana-guṇam abhiyāntaṁ kim adhārayam aham urasina-kāntaṁ
“Alas! I didn’t listen to the advice of My dear friends like Lalitā. And I didn’t listen a bit to all of Mādhava’s flattery. O Sakhī! Because I didn’t serve the hero of Gokula in this kuñja, My heart is breaking. Oh! Mādhava offered Me the best garland and repeatedly offered Me obeisances, but I didn’t even glance at Him. Alas! Why didn’t I embrace My beloved, who is decorated with eternal transcendental qualities?”
Only by serving Kṛṣṇa can one attain peace, not by yoga practices beginning with yama and niyama
Everyone was fully satisfied by hearing the kīrtana, and they embraced the singer. As the kīrtana finished many sādhus gradually came and sat and began talking on various topics. At that time Haridāsa Bābājī said, “Only the devotees of Kṛṣṇa are blessed. Wherever they may be, they are on the right path. We are servants of their servants.”
In support of this statement, Premadāsa Bābājī said, “Bābājī spoke rightly. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.6.35) it is stated:
tathātmāddhā na śāmyati
“Yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhyāna, dhāraṇā, and samādhi these are aṣṭāṅga-yoga. It is true that by these practices one may achieve peace, but sometimes in the process one may be overwhelmed by lust and greed. Then instead of attaining peace one may enjoy some yogic opulences for sometime before ultimately falling. But in the devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa, there is no fear of irrelevant fruits, for the servants of Kṛṣṇa certainly attain peace.’”
When a yogi in the assembly advocates the superiority of yoga over arcana, there was a request for a settlement on the topic
At that time there was an aṣṭāṅga-yogi present in Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī’s assembly. Although he was a Vaiṣṇava, he had achieved perfection after practicing prāṇāyāma for a long time. As a result, he gave more importance to aṣṭāṅga-yoga than to the nine-fold process of bhakti. Being slightly dissatisfied with Premadāsa Bābājī’s statement, he said, “Bābājī! Don’t disregard the yoga-śāstras. The yogis can give up eating and sleeping and live for a very long time. Can you render devotional service as seriously as they can? Therefore you should know that yoga is superior to arcana.”
Vaiṣṇavas are naturally not inclined to argue. No one, however, liked the yogi’s statement minimizing the importance of devotional service over yoga practice. Everyone remained speechless. Feeling almost insulted, the yogi requested Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī for his conclusion.
Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī establishes the superiority of devotional service over yoga
At first Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī was not inclined to enter into argument, but when the yogi repeatedly assured him that he would accept his conclusion, Bābājī began to speak.
“The only goal of all yoga practice and devotional service is Bhagavān, who is worshiped by all living entities. The living entities are basically classified in two categories—one is pure and one is conditioned. The pure living entity is one who has no material connection, and the conditioned entity is one who has material connection. The sādhaka is certainly a conditioned soul, while the pure entity has nothing to practice. The basic difference between the conditioned and pure living entities is that the latter is situated in his constitutional position. His only activity is spiritual engagement, and his nature is pure bliss. The conditioned living entity, being bound by material nature, accepts materially designated duties that are of mixed material and spiritual qualities. When one gives up materially designated duties and accepts pure duties, that is called liberation. Pure love is the constitutional activity of the soul and cannot be differentiated from liberation. The liberation sought by yoga practice is the same as love of Godhead attained by devotional service. Therefore the ultimate result of both practices is one. For this reason the scriptures portray the foremost devotee Śukadeva as a great yogi and the foremost yogi Mahādeva as a great devotee. The main difference between yoga and devotional service is this: in the strict practice of yoga, when one attains samādhi by giving up false designations, he attains his constitutional position—that is, prema is awakened. There is fear, however, that in the long process of giving up false designations the sādhaka may become captivated by insignificant by-products and fall down before attaining the ultimate goal. On the other hand, in devotional service there is only discussion of prema. Devotional service is simply the cultivation of the science of love of God. When all activities are meant for cultivating the ultimate result, there is no fear of useless results. The means are the end, and the end is the means. Therefore devotional service is easier than the practice of yoga and should be accepted in all respects.”
Showing the inferiority of the yoga path
“The domination over material nature attained in the practice of yoga is only a temporary result. In that position the ultimate result may be far off and time and again impediments are observed. In the path of yoga there are hindrances at every step. First, at the time of practicing yama and niyama, religiosity is awakened, and as a result of attaining this insignificant result one becomes known as religious-minded, even though no attempt has been made to achieve prema. Second, during the long period of practicing āsana and prāṇāyāma one achieves a long life free of disease by controlling the breathing. But if there is still no connection with prema, then one’s long life free of disease becomes a source of trouble. Third, although by the process of pratyāhāra one achieves control of the senses, if prema is lacking this is called dry or insignificant renunciation. The reason is that for attaining the ultimate goal, enjoyment and renunciation give equal results. Useless renunciation simply makes one stone-hearted. Fourth, during dhyāna, dhāraṇā, and samādhi, even if material thoughts are removed, if prema is not awakened the living entity loses his individuality. If the understanding, `I am Brahman’ does not awaken pure love, then that results in destruction of his existence. Therefore, please consider: the ultimate goal of yoga is excellent, but the path is full of difficulties. You are a Vaiṣṇava as well as a yogi, therefore you can understand my words without bias.”
Before Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī even finished his statement, all the Vaiṣṇavas exclaimed, “Sādhu! Sādhu!”
Though pleased, Yogi Bābājī advocates the usefulness of yoga over devotional service in the matter of sense control
Yogi Bābājī said, “Bābājī, your conclusive statement is excellent, but there is one thing I would like to say. I had properly practiced the nine-fold process of devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting, previous to learning yoga. But frankly I tell you that in every activity I used to look for sense gratification. I could not free my heart from false designations as described in Vaiṣṇava instructions on conjugal rasa. I was able to taste conjugal rasa only after practicing pratyāhāra, and now I have no desire for sense gratification. My nature has completely changed. There is arrangement for prāṇāyāma in the path of arcana, so I feel that pratyāhāra practice is also seen in the instructions of bhakti-yoga. Therefore I feel that yoga practice is necessary.”
By dry speculation or practice the sādhaka will certainly fall down if the limbs of bhakti are used as fruitive rituals for sense gratification
After hearing Yogi Bābājī’s statement, Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī thought for a while. Then he began to speak, “Bābājī, you are blessed because you did not forget rasa-tattva while practicing pratyāhāra. In many cases one falls down due to dry speculation and dry practices, for the soul is by nature full of bliss, it can never appreciate dryness. The soul is always in love or attached, therefore the conditioned soul who falls down from his proper position develops love or attachment for another inferior object. For this reason there is hardly any possibility of self-satisfaction, and therefore material sense gratification becomes prominent. When the soul, who is lord of the senses, realizes his eternal rasa, his natural spontaneous attraction awakens and his material affection diminishes. The path of devotional service is the discussion of love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this path as one’s attachment thickens the endeavor to gratify the senses naturally diminishes. I feel that when you began devotional service, you didn’t have the association of genuine sādhus. That is why you didn’t relish the sweetness of devotional service. You executed the nine-fold processes of bhakti as if they were dry or selfish fruitive rituals. As a result you were unable to relish even a little transcendental bliss. I think that’s why your hankering for sense gratification increased. In that case there is possibility of benefit in yoga practice. It is necessary for the practicing devotee to relish bhakti–rasa in the association of devotees. Even though a devotee enjoys all types of material sense gratification, that enjoyment does not produce hankering for more enjoyment. Sense enjoyment is the main cause of a devotee’s renouncing the desire for material enjoyment.”
After hearing this statement, the Vaiṣṇava yogi said, “I didn’t know about this, Bābājī. I will come in the evening to try to become free of whatever doubts I have. I’ve heard one gentleman will come from Calcutta today, so I’m taking leave. Please be merciful to me.”
As Yogi Bābājī went out, Paṇḍita dāsa Bābājī’s sabhā broke up.