UpadeśāmṛtaŚrī Upadeśāmṛta Bhāṣā

Śrī Upadeśāmṛta
of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī

With the Pīyūṣa-varṣiṇī-vṛtti commentary of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami B.V. Giri)



vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ
sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt

A self-controlled person who can overcome the impulses of speech, the mind, anger, the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to instruct the whole world



śrī godruma-candrāya namaḥ

Obeisance unto the Moon of Śrī Godruma

yat kṛpā-sāgarodbhūtam upadeśāmṛtaṁ bhuvi
śrī-rūpena samānītaṁ gauracandraṁ bhajāmi tam

“I worship that ocean of mercy, Śrī Gauracandra, from whom the Upadeśāmṛta was manifest which was then obtained by Śrī Rūpa.”

natvā grantha-praṇetāraṁ ṭīkā-kāraṁ praṇamya ca
mayā viracyate vṛttiḥ pīyūṣa-pariveśanī

“I offer obeisance unto the author (Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī), and unto the commentator (Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Dāsa Gosvāmī) and write this commentary, which is an offering of nectar.”

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā

In order for the highest form of bhakti to develop, one must be devoid of all material desires, jñāna and karma etc. One must constantly serve Kṛṣṇa favourably, as He desires.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.11)

Accepting all those things described in this verse as favourable and rejecting all that is unfavourable, one engages in the cultivation of bhakti, which is the main objective of those persons performing bhajana. The acceptance of those things that are favourable and the rejection of those that are unfavourable are not direct divisions of śuddha-bhakti, but they bestow the qualification for bhakti and are both divisions of śraddhā that are symptoms of śaraṇāgati. Thus, it is said:

ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlyasya varjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
ātma-nikṣepa-kārpaṇye ṣaḍ-vidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ

“Accepting that which is favourable and rejecting everything unfavourable, having confidence that the Lord will grant protection, embracing His guardianship, offering oneself completely Him, and understanding one’s lowly position – there are the six divisions of śaraṇāgati.” (Vaiṣṇava Tantra)

In this śloka there is an instruction to abandon that which is unfavourable. The urge to speak, the urges of the mind, the urge of anger, the urges of the tongue, the urges of the belly and the urges of the genitals – one who is able to tolerate these six can instruct the whole world.

śokāmarṣādibhir bhāvair ākrāntaṁ yasya mānasam
kathaṁ tatra mukundasya sphūrti-sambhāvanā bhavet

“Within the heart of one who is overpowered by lamentation or anger, there is no possibility of Mukunda ever manifesting.” (Padma Purāṇa)

The meaning of this śloka is that lust, anger, greed, illusion, intoxication, envy and all such disturbances constantly arise within the minds of human beings, through the urge to speak, such as causing anxiety for other living beings; the urges of the mind, which means through various types of mental speculation; the impulse of anger, or by means of cruel words; the cravings of the tongue to take pleasure in the six types of taste, namely sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, salty and astringent; the urges of the belly through the desire to eat more the required, and the impulse of the genitals, through the cohabitation between women and men.

Thus, when the consciousness is such, cultivating śuddha-bhakti is not possible.

In order to make the consciousness of those striving in bhajana to become absorbed in bhakti, the tattvācārya Śrīmad Rūpa Gosvāmī has presented this verse first. The endeavours to restrict these six urges is not the means to bhakti-sādhana, but it is a way to enter the temple of bhakti.

On the paths of karma and jñāna, one is instructed to restrain these six impulses, however, this method of sādhana is not obligatory for devotees. Hearing, chanting and remembrance of Kṛṣṇa’s names, form and characteristics is actual bhakti. At the time of cultivating bhakti, these six urges come and become hindrances to the immature sādhaka. At that time, a devotee in the mood of unwavering śaraṇāgati tries to avoid the ten offences to the Holy Name, and through the power of nāma, and through the influence of association from pure devotees, he is able to overcome these obstacles. In regards to falling prey to offences, it is said:

śrutvāpi nāma-māhātmyaṁ yaḥ prīti-rahito ’dhamaḥ
ahaṁ mamādi paramo nāmni so ’py aparādha-kṛt

“That degraded person who, even after hearing the glories of the Holy Name, still feels no affection towards it and fully maintains the idea of ‘me and mine,’ makes an offense.” (Padma Purāṇa)

Devotees follow yukta-vairāgya (practical renunciation) and therefore reject dry renunciation. Thus, instructions to abandon any contact with material sense objects does not apply to them. When mental urges, or the hankering for material enjoyment, is curbed, then the impulses of the eyes, the life airs and the ears becomes pacified. Therefore, those who are victorious in conquering these six urges are able to conquer the entire world. The instruction to tolerate these impulses is meant for householder devotees, because before giving up householder life one must have already abandoned all types of urges.


atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati

Eating too much or collecting more than necessary, performing extraneous endeavours that are against devotional service, speaking about mundane subject matters, neglecting the injunctions of the scriptures or blindly following scriptural injunctions, associating with mundane people and mental restlessness – these six things destroy devotional service.



The second śloka only speaks about rejecting that which is unfavourable. Atyāhāra, prayāsa, prajalpa, niyamāgraha, jana-saṅga and laulya these six faults are opposed to bhakti. Atyāhāra means to take too much (adhika āharaṇa), or collecting or over-endeavouring. Those devotees that have renounced their homes are forbidden to collect things. Householder Vaiṣṇavas need to acquire things for their maintenance. Acquiring too much is atyāhāra and those who wish to perform bhajana should not act like materialists. Prayāsa means endeavouring for things that are opposed to bhakti or being enthusiastic for sense pleasure.

Prajalpa means to waste time engaged in useless gossip. Niyamāgraha – at the time of attaining a higher qualification, one insists on following those rules pertaining to one of a lower qualification. Also, not observing the rules that nourish bhakti – these are the two types.

Jana-saṅga means to associate with persons other than pure devotees. Laulya – to associate with various ideologies with wavering conclusions; this means that the mind is fickle and also attracted to trivial material pleasures. Prajalpa leads to criticising sādhus, and laulya leads one to become enamoured by various independent ideologies. They both lead to nāmāparādha.


utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt
saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati

Eagerness, confidence, forbearance, following the spiritual practices ordained by the scriptures, giving up the company of materialists and following in the footsteps of the pure sādhus – these six practices enhance devotion.



The third śloka speaks about those things that are favourable. Maintaining one’s existence and cultivating bhakti are two requirements for devotees. The first half of this śloka describes activities that are favourable for the cultivation of bhakti. The last half describes how a devotee should behave in life. Eagerness, confidence, forbearance, performing those activities that nourish bhakti, giving up bad association and adopting proper conduct are the means of perfection in bhakti. Utsāha – eagerness to follow the various divisions of bhakti. If there is apathy, bhakti will disappear. Utsāha means to practice with great affection. Niścaya – having firm faith. Dhairya – not to be lax in pursuit of the desired goal, even when there may be a delay. Bhakti-poṣaka-karma – the two types are rules (vidhi) and prohibitions (niṣedha). Śravaṇa, kīrtana etc. are the prescribed rules. Renouncing one’s personal pleasure etc. for Kṛṣṇa is the prohibition. Saṅga-tyāga – one should renounce the association of the wicked, women and those that are attached to women. ‘Non-devotees’ means sense enjoyers, māyāvādīs, atheists and religious hypocrites. Sad-vṛtti – one should adopt the proper conduct of sādhus, and in this way maintain one’s life. Those who have renounced their home should beg alms and do mādhukarī. Also, gṛhastha devotees should follow that which is favourable according to their rules according to varṇāśrama.


dadāti pratigṛhṇāti guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam

Offering gifts and accepting gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence and inquiring confidentially, accepting prasāda and offering prasāda –these are the six symptoms of love shared by devotees.



Bad association is unfavourable for bhakti, therefore, it must be rejected. It is necessary for those that follow the path of bhakti to associate with pure devotees. This fourth śloka specifically describes the affection found within the association of sādhus that nourishes bhakti.

Giving with love those things that a devotee requires and accepting with love things given by devotees, revealing one’s confidential topics with devotees and inquiring confidentially from them, giving foodstuffs to devotees and lovingly accepting foodstuffs from them – these are the six symptoms of pure love. One should serve sādhus in this way.


kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyeta
dīkṣāsti cet praṇatibhiś ca bhajantam īśam
śuśrūṣayā bhajana-vijñam ananyam anya-
nindādi-śūnya-hṛdam īpsita-saṅga-labdhyā

One should mentally offer respects to that person who chants the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. One should bow down unto that devotee who has accepted initiation and is engaged in worship of the Lord, and one should desire the association of those pure devotees who are advanced in bhajana and whose hearts are totally devoid of blasphemy to others and faithfully render service unto them.



īśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
prema-maitrī-kṛpopekṣā yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ

“One who loves the Supreme Lord, is friendly to the devotees, shows mercy to people in general, and ignores the envious, is a madhyama-adhikārī.” (Bhāg.11.2.46)

Following this instruction, while a sādhaka still remains a madhyama devotee, he is obliged to offer service to devotees. The uttama-bhakta sees everything in relation to Kṛṣṇa, is a friend to all and sees no difference between devotees and non-devotees. The madhyama-bhakta endeavours to perform bhajana. This fifth śloka indicates how one should behave towards devotees. If one stays far away from non-devotees such as those who are attached to women etc. their faults will not be transferred. Knowing that kaniṣṭha-bhaktas are ignorant due to their lack of understanding of sambandhatattva, a madhyama devotee should be merciful to them.

Hearing kṛṣṇa-nāma coming from their lips, he will show them respect within his mind. If they accept dīkṣa and engage in haribhajana, they may be given respect by offering praṇāma. Knowing the association of mahā-bhāgavatas, who are free from the tendency to criticise others, to be most beneficial, one should show respect to them. This kind of service to such Vaiṣṇavas is the main cause of all perfection.


dṛṣṭaiḥ svabhāva-janitair vapuṣaś ca doṣair
na prākṛtatvam iha bhakta-janasya paśyet
gaṅgāmbhasāṁ na khalu budbuda-phena-paṅkair
brahma-dravatvam apagacchati nīra-dharmaiḥ

Devotees in this world should not be seen from a material perspective. Any imperfections found in their natures or their appearance should be overlooked for such faults are like the foam and mud in the water of the Ganges. Such things appear due to the nature of water, but the divine nature of the Ganges is never diminished.



The instruction of the sixth śloka is that it is improper to see defects within pure devotees and to have a mundane perception of them. It is not possible for pure devotees to fall prey to bad association or to commit nāmāparādha. There maybe a few imperfections in their bodies or their natures. Such characteristics as disease, deformity, old age that makes them ugly are all bodily faults. Low birth, harshness, laziness etc. are character defects. The natural form of Gaṅgā water is that it contains bubbles, foam and mud, yet its spiritual nature is not rejected.

Similarly, Vaiṣṇavas who have attained their ātmā-svarūpa (eternal spiritual form) are not contaminated in regards to the natural transformations of the material body such as birth etc.

Therefore, one who strongly desires to perform bhajana should not observe imperfections in a pure Vaiṣṇava, for by such thinking, one becomes a nāmāparādhi.


syāt kṛṣṇa-nāma-caritādi-sitāpy avidyā
pittopatapta-rasanasya na rocikā nu
kintv ādarād anudinaṁ khalu saiva juṣṭā
svādvī kramād bhavati tad-gada-mūla-hantrī

Even Kṛṣṇa’s Name, form, qualities and pastimes, which are like sweet sugar candy, are distasteful to one whose tongue is afflicted by the jaundice of ignorance. However, when one constantly and faithfully chants the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa and becomes absorbed in His divine attributes then gradually they become sweet and one’s ignorance is destroyed at the root.



In the third śloka, the qualities etc. that nourish bhakti were described, and along with that, this seventh śloka speaks about the method for cultivating the chanting of kṛṣṇanāma etc with sambandha-jñāna. A tongue which is affected by the jaundice of avidyā cannot taste Kṛṣṇa’s name, pastimes, kīrtana etc. However, by respectfully serving the name, pastimes etc. the disease of avidyā is destroyed and a supreme sweetness arises. Kṛṣṇa’s form of infinite consciousness is like the sun, and the jīvas are like ray-like particles whose spiritual nature is as an eternal servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Overpowered by the defect of forgetfulness of their position as kṛṣṇadāsa, the jīvas accept the qualities of avidyā and relinquish their natural tendency and thus become devoid of a taste for Kṛṣṇa’s name, pastimes etc. Again, by the mercy of the sādhu and guru, one is able to regularly chant and remember the Name, pastimes etc. and one eventually attains one’s svabhāva (original identity). To the extent that his original identity is revived, his taste for the Holy Name etc, increases. Ignorance is quickly destroyed. This is the basis for the comparison to sugar-candy. A tongue affected by jaundice will initially not like sugar-candy, but by taking it regularly, the jaundice will be eliminated and it will become pleasing. Therefore, with great enthusiasm, faith and patience, one should always continue to hear, chant and remember Kṛṣṇa’s names, form, pastimes and so on.


smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram

While residing in Vraja under the guidance of a resident of Vraja-dhāma, one should spend all their time engaging the mind and tongue in chanting the Holy Name and remembering the Lord’s divine form, qualities and pastimes. This is the essence of all instructions.



This eighth śloka describes the method of bhajana and the place for executing it. With the purpose of progressing in the gradual process of uninterrupted sādhana, one should engage the tongue in beautiful kīrtana of the Holy Names, pastimes etc. and the mind in smaraṇa. This should be performed while residing in Vraja, under the guidance of one who is attached to vraja-rasa (rasānurāgī) and must be executed constantly. This mānasasevā requires one to mentally reside in Vraja.


vaikuṇṭhāj janito varā madhu-purī tatrāpi rāsotsavād
vṛndāraṇyam udāra-pāṇi-ramaṇāt tatrāpi govardhanaḥ
rādhā-kuṇḍam ihāpi gokula-pateḥ premāmṛtāplāvanāt
kuryād asya virājato giri-taṭe sevāṁ vivekī na kaḥ

Because Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared there, Mathurā is considered to be spiritually superior to Vaikuṇṭha. Greater than Mathurā is the forest of Vṛndāvana because this was where the rāsa-līlā pastimes of the Lord took place. Govardhana Hill is considered to be superior to Vṛndāvana because Kṛṣṇa performed wonderful pastimes there and raised it with His hand. However, Rādhā-kuṇḍa is superior to Govardhana because it is brimming with the nectar of divine love for the Lord of Gokula. Which intelligent person will not render service to this place which is situated at the foot of Govardhana?

Pīyūṣa-varṣiṇī vṛtti

This ninth śloka reveals that Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa is the best amongst all the places of bhajana. Because Kṛṣṇa took birth in Mathurā, it is considered superior to Vaikuṇṭha, the realm of supreme opulence in the spiritual sky. Within Mathurā-maṇḍala, the place of the rasotsava (festival of rasa), Śrī Vṛndāvana forest is the considered to be the best. Within Vraja, Śrī Govardhana is considered to be best due to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose hands are most merciful (udārapāṇi), having performed various wonderful pastimes in that place. Śrīmad Rādhā-kuṇḍa is situated near to Govardhana. Due to it specifically being the place for bathing in Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s premāmṛta (ambrosial divine love), it is considered to be the best of all. Is there any person intelligent in performing bhajana who would not offer service to this Rādhā-kuṇḍa? Either in the physical body or subtle body, one should execute the aforementioned method of bhajana while constantly residing here.


karmibhyaḥ parito hareḥ priyatayā vyaktiṁ yayur jñāninas tebhyo
jñāna-vimukta-bhakti-paramāḥ premaika-niṣṭhās tataḥ
tebhyas tāḥ paśu-pāla-paṅkaja-dṛśas tābhyo ’pi sā rādhikā
preṣṭhā tadvad iyaṁ tadīya-sarasī tāṁ nāśrayet kaḥ kṛtī

The jñānīs have attained the distinction of being dearer to Lord Hari than those who follow the path of karma. Even dearer to the Lord are those who have abandoned knowledge, understanding that the path of bhakti is higher. Even more superior are those who have attained love for Kṛṣṇa. The gopīs are most exalted of all, and amongst them Śrī Rādhikā is certainly the dearmost of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. And Rādhā-kuṇḍa is as dear to Kṛṣṇa as She is. Therefore, which fortunate soul will not take shelter of Rādhā-kuṇḍa?



Amongst the various types of sādhakas in this world, those who perform bhajana on the banks of Rādhā-kuṇḍa are the best and the dearest to Kṛṣṇa. This is seen in this tenth śloka. The jñānis who search after the Supreme Consciousness are dearer to Kṛṣṇa than the different types of karmīs. Dearer to Kṛṣṇa than the various jñānīs is the devotee, who is free from dependence on knowledge. Amongst the different types of devotees, the devotee who is fixed in prema is dearer to Kṛṣṇa. Amongst the various premabhaktas, the vraja-gopīs are most dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Amongst all the gopīs, Śrī Rādhikā is the most beloved. Just as Rādhikā is most dear, so also Her kuṇḍa is most dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, one who possesses great sukṛti will certainly reside on the banks of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa and perform aṣṭa-kāliyā-līlā bhajana.


kṛṣṇasyoccaiḥ praṇaya-vasatiḥ preyasībhyo ’pi rādhā
kuṇḍaṁ cāsyā munibhir abhitas tādṛg eva vyadhāyi
yat preṣṭhair apy alam asulabhaṁ kiṁ punar bhakti-bhājāṁ
tat premedaṁ sakṛd api saraḥ snātur āviṣkaroti

It has been established by great sages that amongst all the beloved vraja-gopīs, Śrī Rādhā is Kṛṣṇa’s most treasured object of love. Similarly, Her kuṇḍa is just as dear to Him. One who bathes even once in the waters of Rādhā-kuṇḍa attains love for Kṛṣṇa which is extremely difficult to achieve even for great devotees, what to speak of ordinary devotees.



The eleventh śloka has manifest with the intention of describing the natural glories of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, and for creating steadfastness within the mind of the sādhaka. Śrī Rādhikā is the most beloved abode of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s love and greater than any of His other lovers. In the śāstra, the munis have written about Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa’s superiority in this way. If one bathes in Rādhā-kuṇḍa with bhakti, one easily attains prema which is rare to attain even for Nārada and others personalities who are dear to the Lord, what to speak of sādhanabhaktas. Rādhā-kuṇḍa is therefore the most suitable place of residence for those who wish to fully absorb themselves in bhajana. The fully transcendental jīva who has attained the divine form of a gopī in the spiritual realm of Vraja, should reside with the mood of a pālya dāsī (maidservant) at Rādhā-kuṇḍa in the kuñja of the guru who is situated in his form as a sakhī. Externally, one should take shelter of the Holy Name, while internally assisting Śrīmatī Rādhikā in the service of Kṛṣṇa throughout the eight daily periods of the day (aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā); this is the art of bhajana for those who have taken shelter at the feet of Śrī Caitanya.

ānanda-vṛddhaye śrīmad-gosvāmī-vanamālinaḥ
tathā śrī-prabhu-nāthasya sukhyātma-nivedinaḥ
svasya bhajana-saukhyasya samṛddhi-hetave punaḥ
bhakti-vinoda-dāsena śrī-godruma-nivāsinā
prabhoś cataḥ śatābdeha dvādaśābdādhike mṛge
raciteyaṁ sitāṣṭamyāṁ vṛttiḥ pīyūṣa-varṣiṇī

“To increase the bliss of Śrī Vanamāli Gosvāmī and his disciple Śrī Prabhunātha, and also to increase the happiness of my own bhajana which is the cause of great prosperity, the servant Bhaktivinoda, while residing in Śrī Godruma, has completed this Pīyūṣa-varṣiṇī commentary on the eighth day of the waxing lunar fortnight during the solar month of Mṛga (Capricorn) in the year 412 of our Lord (corresponding to January 30th, 1898).”

śrī śrī godruma-candrārpaṇamastu

May this be an offering unto the Moon of Śrī Godruma.


UpadeśāmṛtaŚrī Upadeśāmṛta Bhāṣā

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