Saṁśaya Nivṛtti (Dispelling Doubts)

Kalikatara-Kirtana‘Kalikātāra Kīrtana’(Kīrtana in Kolkata)
Asat-SangaAsat Saṅga (Materialistic Association)

Saṁśaya Nivṛtti (Dispelling Doubts) was first published in Sajjana Toṣaṇī Vol. 4, issues 11 &12 in 1893. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura tells a story of a Vaiṣṇava who approaches a pure devotee with two doubts in relation to Kṛṣṇa giving bhakti to those who have material desires.

Saṁśaya Nivṛtti
(Dispelling Doubts)

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami B.V. Giri)

While reading Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, a Vaiṣṇava found this śloka:

rājan patir gurur alaṁ bhavatāṁ yadūnāṁ
daivaṁ priyaḥ kula-patiḥ kva ca kiṅkaro vaḥ
astv evam aṅga bhagavān bhajatāṁ mukundo
muktiṁ dadāti karhicit sma na bhakti-yogam
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.6.18)

In the Fifth Canto of the Bhāgavata, Śrī Śukadeva says that bhakti-yoga is extremely rare. “O king! You are indeed most fortunate. For you and the Yādavas, Bhagavān Mukunda has become your maintainer, guru, worshippable Deity and Master of your Dynasty. Not only that, He sometimes acts just like a servant and a messenger. He does not give bhakti-yoga so easily to those who worship Him, but He offers them mukti.”

This śloka was easy for him to understand. But after deliberating upon the following śloka and verses from Caitanya-caritāmṛta, he was surprised:

satyaṁ diśaty arthitam arthito nṛṇāṁ
naivārtha-do yat punar arthitā yataḥ
svayaṁ vidhatte bhajatām anicchatām
icchā-pidhānaṁ nija-pāda-pallavam
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.19.27)

The meaning of this śloka can be seen in the following verses from the Caritāmṛta:

anya-kāmī yadi kare kṛṣṇera bhajana
nā māgiteha kṛṣṇa tāre dena sva-caraṇa

kṛṣṇa kahe āmā bhaje māge viṣaya-sukha
amṛta chāḍi viṣa māge ei baḍa mūrkha

āmi vijña ei mūrkhe viṣaya kene diba
sva-caraṇāmṛta diyā viṣaya bhulāiba

(“If one who has various desires engages in kṛṣṇa-bhajana, without asking, Kṛṣṇa will give him shelter at His feet. Kṛṣṇa says, ‘If one worships Me and asks for mundane pleasures, then He is rejecting nectar and begging for poison. He is extremely foolish. I am clever! Why should I give this fool mundane pleasure? I shall give him the nectar of My feet and he will forget about material happiness.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.37-39)

As he read the Caritāmṛta, he saw more:

kṛṣṇa-bhakta duḥkha-hīna vāñchāntara-hīna
kṛṣṇa-prema-sevā-pūrṇānanda-pravīṇa

(“A devotee of Kṛṣṇa has no misery and is devoid of material desires. He is expert in rendering service, while experiencing the complete bliss of kṛṣṇa-prema.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 24.183)

udāra mahatī yāṅra sarvottamā buddhi
nānā kāme bhaje tabu pāya bhakti-siddhi

bhakti-prabhāva sei kāma chāḍāñā
kṛṣṇa-pade bhakti karāya guṇe ākarṣiyā

(“One who is liberal and great, who possesses superior intelligence, even if he worships Kṛṣṇa with various desires, still attains perfection in bhakti. The influence of bhakti makes one reject these desires, and one becomes attracted to qualities that engage one in bhakti at the feet of Kṛṣṇa.” Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 24. 197-198)

kāma lāgi kṛṣṇe bhaje pāya kṛṣṇa-rase
kāma chāḍi dāsa haite haya abhilāṣe

(“When one worships Kṛṣṇa to achieve some desire, he attains kṛṣṇa-rasa. He rejects that desire and only wishes to become His servant.” Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.41)

bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kāmī subuddhi yadi haya
gāḍha-bhakti-yoge tabe kṛṣṇere bhajaya

(“Desiring sense-enjoyment, liberation or mystical perfection, if one is very intelligent he will worship Kṛṣṇa with intense bhakti.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.35)

After reading all this, these two doubts arose in the mind of that Vaiṣṇava:

1) What is the meaning of such a contradictory conclusion that Kṛṣṇa does not give bhakti so easily even if one engages in bhajana, yet if one worships Kṛṣṇa harbouring other desires, He will give bhāva-bhakti, even if one does not ask for it?

2) A devotee of Kṛṣṇa has no other desires, in other words, if he is not free of other desires then he cannot engage in bhajana – so how can there be kṛṣna-bhajana when one is influenced by desire, and what is the meaning of attaining perfection in bhakti while maintaining various desires?

When he conveyed these two doubts to a pure Vaiṣṇava and prayed for the proper siddhānta, the pure Vaiṣṇava Mahāśaya gave these teachings:

“O brother! There is no contradiction in the śāstra or in the statements of the mahājanas. If you do not understand the meaning, it will simply appear as if there is a contradiction in some places. Disputes can only be resolved by understanding the meaning. There are two types of subjects in the śāstra and in the statements of the mahājanas, namely a point of discussion and a point of siddhānta (conclusion). In points of discussion, there may be many statements and some may seem to be contradictory, yet one can observe that in points of siddhānta there is only one statement. You should understand that the contradiction you have shown is a point of discussion. A point of siddhānta avoids all contradictions. Concerning the point of siddhānta, Śrīman Mahāprabhu tells Śrī Rūpa:

kṛṣṇa-bhakta niṣkāma ataeva śānta
bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kāmī sakali aśānta

(“A devotee of Kṛṣṇa has no desires, thus he is tranquil. Those that desire sense-enjoyment, liberation and mystical powers are always agitated.” Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.149)

anya-vāñchā anya-pūjā chāḍi jñāna karma
ānukūlye sarvendriye kṛṣṇānuśīlana

(“One should give up other desires, other modes of worship, jñāna and karma, and cultivate that which is favourable to attain Kṛṣṇa with all of one’s senses.”Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.168)

bhukti-mukti ādi-vāñchā yadi mane haya
sādhana karile prema utpanna nā haya

(“If one contemplates sense-enjoyment, liberation etc. even while engaged in sādhana, prema will never arise.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.175)

He told Śrī Sanātana:

aiche śāstra kahe karma jñāna, yoga tyaji
bhaktye kṛṣṇa vaśa haya bhaktye tāṅre bhaji

(“In this way, the śāstra declares that one should reject karma, jñāna and yoga. Kṛṣna becomes attracted by bhakti, thus He should be worshipped through bhakti.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.136)

kṛṣṇa-bhakti haya abhidheya-pradhāna
bhakti-mukha-nirīkṣaka karma-yoga-jñāna

ei saba sādhanera ati tuccha phala
kṛṣṇa-bhakti vinā tāhā dite nāre bala

(“Kṛṣṇa-bhakti is the primary method. Karma, yoga and jñāna look towards bhakti. All other modes of sādhana give very meagre results. Without kṛṣṇa-bhakti they are unable to give any power.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.17-18)

jñānī jīvan-mukta-daśā pāinu kari māne
vastutaḥ buddhi śuddha nahe kṛṣṇa-bhakti vine

(“The jñānī thinks that he has attained the state of jīvan-mukta [liberated while in this body]. In reality, his intelligence cannot be purified without kṛṣṇa-bhakti.”Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.29)

O brother! Speaking all these conclusive statements, Kavirāja Gosvāmī has presented these verses in regards to your doubts and given the mūla-siddhānta (foundational conclusion) on this topic in this way:

saṁsāra bhramite kona bhāgye keha tare
nadīra pravāhe yena kāṣṭha lāge tīre

(“While wandering through the world of birth and death, someone may be fortunate enough to cross that, just as in the flow of a river, a large piece of driftwood may reach the bank.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.43)

kona bhāgye kāro saṁsāra kṣayonmukha haya
sādhu-saṅge tabe kṛṣṇe rati upajaya

(“When one is fortunate and the experience of the material world begins to diminish, then by sādhu-saṅga, attraction for Kṛṣṇa arises.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.45)

kṛṣṇa yadi kṛpā kare kona bhāgyavāne
guru-antaryāmi-rūpe śikhāya āpane

(“If Kṛṣṇa is merciful to such a fortunate person, He personally instructs him, as the guru and the Supersoul.”Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.47)

sādhu-saṅge kṛṣṇa-bhaktye śraddhā yadi haya
bhakti-phala prema haya saṁsāra yāya kṣaya

(“If by sādhu-saṅga, there is śraddhā in kṛṣṇa-bhakti, then prema, the result of bhakti, appears and material existence is nullified.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.49)

mahat-kṛpā vinā kona karme bhakti naya
kṛṣṇa-bhakti dūre rahu saṁsāra nahe kṣaya

(“Without great mercy, no other activity can produce bhakti. What to say of kṛṣṇa-bhakti, one cannot remove the miseries of saṁsāra.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.51)

sādhu-saṅga sādhu-saṅga sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya

(“All the śāstra declares, ‘Sādhu-saṅga! Sādhu-saṅga!’Even accepting sādhu-saṅga for a fraction of a second can lead to all perfection.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.54)

O brother! Now you will have no doubts. There are two kinds of kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇavas, or prakṛta-bhaktas, namely the kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇava that mixes karma or jñāna with bhakti, and the other is the kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇava that engages in bhakti devoid of karma or jñāna. The kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇavas that mix bhakti with karma or jñāna are known as vaiṣṇavapraya (almost a Vaiṣnava), although in reality they cannot be said to be Vaiṣṇavas. They worship Kṛṣna with various desires, and along with these various desires they also engage in bhakti. When the desire and tendency for bhakti becomes strong, then they are situated in the other category of kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇavas, in other words, they are said to be considered as a Vaiṣṇava amongst those pure devotees who are kaniṣṭhas. Gradually, they will become qualified to be uttama-bhaktas (superior devotees).

As long as bhakti mixed with karma and jñāna remains in their hearts, their bhajana will be bhajanābhāsa (a semblance of bhajana), and the Name they chant will be chāyā-nāmābhāsa (a semblance of a shadow of the Name). When they are pure Vaiṣṇavas, then śuddha-bhajana and śuddha-nāma will arise. When he has other desires in his heart, then why isn’t his chanting of the Name pratibimba-nāmābhāsa (a semblance of a reflection of the Name), and his kṛṣṇa-bhajana not pratibimba-bhajanābhāsa (a semblance of a reflection of bhajana)? There is a subtle consideration in that matter. There are two types of people who take shelter of the Name and bhajana that foster desires for bhukti and mukti. One kind is that person who is a bhajanānandī that desires bhukti and mukti and uses bhajana as a means for that. They do not consider any part of bhajana to be eternal, in other words, they do not consider bhajana to be the result. Such arrogant scholars are mumukṣu (desirers of liberation) or bubhukṣu (desirers of enjoyment). They are counted amongst the jñānīs or karmīs. Their karma and jñāna is mixed with some bhakti. In other words, theirs is not jñāna or karma-miśra bhakti. They are offenders to bhakti. Their bhajana is pratibimba-bhajanābhāsa or nāmābhāsa. They have no connection to bhakti – they only achieve results according to their desires up to the point of liberation. This is because there is no tendency for bhakti in their hearts. They are not karma or jñāna-miśra kaniṣṭha devotees, in other words, they are not even vaiṣṇava-praya. They are purely karmīs or jñānīs. They will not achieve bhakti through their bhajanābhāsa for many births. However, if they are purified by the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa and the Vaiṣṇava, then they can rise to the platform of a kaniṣṭha vaiṣṇava-praya. Muktiṁ dadāti karhicit sma na bhakti-yogaṁ (‘He delivers mukti immediately, but not bhakti’ – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.6.18) – the meaning of this statement is only meant for them.

Just as one type of person who engages in bhajanābhāsa considered bhajana as a means to liberation, the other type considers it a means to bhakti. Their bhakti is mixed with karma and jñāna because they do not know the pure nature of bhakti. He purifies his heart only when he understands the pure nature of bhakti. For this very reason, Kṛṣṇa, considering them to be philosophically foolish, shows mercy to them through His devotees or directly Himself. By sādhu-saṅga as well as svarūpa-jñāna (knowledge of the self), foolishness is removed. Then only the desire for bhakti remains, and the desire for bhukti and mukti is no more. Amongst the kaniṣṭha devotees they engaged in resolute bhajana mixed with karma and jñāna. As soon as the connection with karma and jñāna is removed, they attain pure bhakti along with the perfectional stage of kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇavism. At the first stage (kaniṣṭha) they are inspired by the Lord. They have not acquired the three characteristics of a madhyama Vaiṣṇava. At the second stage (madhyama) they begin to have some prema for the Lord, and they make friends with the Vaiṣṇavas. However, until they achieve the stage of showing mercy to the innocent and indifference to the envious, they cannot ascend from the position of a kaniṣṭha adhikārī up to the position of a madhyama adhikārī. At the first stage, they chant chāyā-nāmābhāsa, and at the second stage, the Name manifests.

nānā kāme bhaje tabu pāya bhakti-siddhi

(“Even if he worships Kṛṣṇa with material desires, still he attains perfection in bhakti.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 24.196)

kāma lāgi kṛṣṇe bhaje pāya kṛṣṇa-rase

(“When one worships Kṛṣṇa to achieve some desire, he attains kṛṣṇa-rasa.” Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.41)

anya-kāmī yadi kare kṛṣṇera bhajana
nā māgiteha kṛṣṇa tāre dena sva-caraṇa

(“If one who has various desires engages in kṛṣṇa-bhajana, without asking, Kṛṣṇa will give him shelter at His feet. – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.37)

In all these verses, the principle concerning the kaniṣṭha class of vaiṣṇava-praya that chant chāyā-nāmābhāsa has been very beautifully described. The word bhajana that has been used in all these places specifically refers to bhajana in relation to intense sādhana. Real bhajana is to engage in activities that are favourable in cultivating service to Kṛṣṇa, devoid of other desires and unobscured by karma and jñāna.

Explaining the significance of the śloka,rājan patir gurur alaṁ etc, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, the śikṣā-guru of the Vaiṣṇavas, has written:

tasmād asaṅgenāpi kṛte sādhana-bhūte sākṣāt bhakti-yoge sati yāvat phala-bhūte bhakti-yoge gāḍhāsakti na jāyate tāvan na dadāti bhakti-yogam iti

The main explanation of this is that those karmīs and the jñānīs, who cannot easily attain bhukti or mukti through karma or jñāna, can easily attain bhukti and mukti by connecting their activities with a connection to bhakti. However there is no real bhakti in their activities, because the desire for bhakti is considerably lacking. In consideration of this, Śrī Bhāgavata says:

akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā mokṣa-kāma udāra-dhīḥ
tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.3.10)

Without any connection with bhakti, when karma and jñāna alone do not produce bhukti and mukti, then a wise man should give up his dependence on taking refuge in karma and jñāna and worship the Supreme Person with intense bhakti. Intense bhakti is that which is connected to the desire to engage in the worship of Bhagavān in order to attain particular material desires. Then the trace of that previous inclination to perform bhakti gradually becomes stronger due to sādhu-saṅga. With the rise of good fortune, this intense inclination to engage in bhakti drives away desires for material enjoyment and mokṣa, and bestows eternal auspiciousness in the form of bhakti-yoga.

O brother! Consider all this deeply. As you deliberate on this esoteric principle, you will find joy in your heart.”

The inquisitive Vaiṣnava contemplated all these specific discussions, and within a few days, his two doubts were gone from his heart.

(‘Saṁśaya Nivṛtti’ – Dispelling Doubts – was first published in Sajjana Toṣaṇī Vol. 4, issues 11 &12 in 1893, and translated into English by Swami B.V. Giri)
Kalikatara-Kirtana‘Kalikātāra Kīrtana’(Kīrtana in Kolkata)
Asat-SangaAsat Saṅga (Materialistic Association)

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