Question: How can one achieve mokṣa in the form of attaining the feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa?
Answer: Through pure kṛṣṇa-bhajana, one can attain the nectar of Kṛṣna’s feet.
Question: What is pure kṛṣṇa-bhajana?
Answer: That bhajana which is performed by a jīva bound by matter, devoid of any material contamination, with the sole purpose of becoming favorably inclined towards Kṛṣṇa, is called pure kṛṣṇa-bhajan.
Question: What are the material contaminations in kṛṣṇa-bhajana?
Answer: The desire for material sense enjoyment, the desire to attain impersonal liberation, and the thirst for mystic powers – these are the three contaminations in bhajana.
Question: What are the desires for material sense enjoyment?
Answer: The desire to enjoy the sensual pleasures of this world, the desire for enjoying Svarga in one’s next birth, and the desire to enjoy the peace that is produced from dry renunciation – these are the three types.
Question: How can one maintain the body by rejecting sense-enjoyment, giving up dharma which gives happiness in the next life, and dismissing renunciation? How will this bring auspiciousness to the world and alleviate suffering from material attachment?
Answer: One should not give up the objects of the senses, one should not reject that dharma meant for bringing auspiciousness to the world, and one should not disregard renunciation that creates peace. The enjoyment and attachment for that should be given up.
Question: Is that possible?
Answer: While one is maintaining varṇāśrama-dharma, one should follow all bodily, mental, and social duties. These duties should be done in such a way as to directly assist in the cultivation of kṛṣṇa-bhakti. There should not be any hinderance to this cultivation. In whatever situation, one should directly engage in those devotional activities that nourish attachment to bhakti. Then one’s karma, dharma, and vairāgya will lead you to the highest attainment.
Question: Our various mundane activities differ from spiritual reality, so how will engaging in them nourish our inherent eternal nature?
Answer: All material objects, all material knowledge and all material connections should be combined with a mood of kṛṣṇa-bhakti. All the senses should be engaged in service to the Deity, service to kṛṣṇa–prasāda, kīrtana of Kṛṣna’s name and qualities, smelling the tulasī and sandalwood offered to Kṛṣna’s feet, hearing and chanting kṛṣṇa-kathā, being with people and things in connection with Him and taking darśana of Kṛṣṇa etc. By all these actions, you should stimulate your ātmā’s love for Kṛṣṇa. Gradually, as you offer all your activities to Kṛṣṇa, they will not become a hinderance to the attainment of bhāva, but they will become helpful.
Question: If I perform some karma for the sake of maintaining the body, and some repeated practices to remove vāsanās (subtle material desires), then can the gradual attainment of samādhi through jñāna help me in my practice of kṛṣṇa-bhakti or not?
Answer: No. Mundane attachment that stems from the mind is related to the sense-objects, and even if one tries to withdraw from sense-objects through yama, niyama and pratyāhāra,* restricting the senses from the sense-objects is difficult. So long as the senses do not perceive anything superior to the sense-objects to become attached to, one’s attachment will not leave those things. But if some other material object is placed in front of you which is superior, then you will accept that and the former object is easily abandoned. Therefore, the method that we previously discussed, that is pure kṛṣṇa-bhajana.
* Yama (rules), niyama (regulations) and pratyāhāra (withdrawing the senses) are divisions of aṣṭāṅga–yoga.
Question: Then what do you call impure kṛṣṇa-bhajana?
Answer: When the mentality of attaining achievements through karma, endeavours in yoga, and the desire for impersonal liberation are combined with kṛṣna-bhajana, it is sa-mala (impure). Through this, one can never achieve mokṣa in the form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.
Question: Kindly give a brief explanation of pure kṛṣṇa-bhajana.
Answer: Whatever duties one performs in life, in a sinless and proper manner, to maintain the body, which assist kṛṣṇa-bhakti, are known gauṇī-bhakti (indirect devotion). Yet whenever there is an opportunity, one should cultivate direct kṛṣṇa-bhakti.
Question: How many kinds of direct devotional cultivation are there?
Answer: There are nine kinds, namely:
- śravaṇa (hearing)
- kīrtana (chanting)
- kṛṣṇa-smaraṇa (remembering Kṛṣṇa)
- pāda-sevana (serving His feet)
- arcana (worshiping His Deity)
- vandana (offering prayers)
- dāsya (becoming His servant)
- sakhya (becoming His friend) and
- ātma-nivedana (total surrender).
Question: What will be achieved through all these practices?
Answer: Gradually bhāva will arise, and then prema will appear.
Question: What is prema?
Answer: One cannot explain through words; it is rasa. So you will have become aware of it yourself.
Question: What are the things to be careful of during sādhana?
Answer: One should be careful of vikarma (vice), akarma (abstaining from proper activities), karma-jaḍata (laziness due to karma), śuṣka-vairāgya (dry renunciation), śuṣka-jñāna (dry knowledge) and aparādha (offences).
Question: How many kinds of vikarma are there, and what are they?
Answer: There are many kinds of vikarma. The following are some of the major vices:
- Dveṣa (envy)
- Niṣṭuratā (harshness)
- Krūratā (cruelty)
- Jīva-hiṁsā (violence towards other jīvas)
- Para-strī-lobha (lusting after the wives of others)
- Krodha (anger)
- Para-dravya-lobha (desire for the possessions of others)
- Svartha-paratā (selfishness)
- Mithyā (lying or falsity)
- Avamānanā (disrespect)
- Garvva (pride)
- Citta-vibhrama (mental bewilderment)
- Apavitratā (impurity)
- Jagan-nāśa-kārya (activities meant to destroy the world)
- Parera Apakāra (offending others)
Question: What is akarma?
Answer: Nāstikatā (atheism), akṛtajñatā (ingratitude) and mahat-sevāra-abhava (a reluctance to serve great personalities).
Question: What is karma?
Answer: All pious activities are called karma. There are many kinds of pious activities, and amongst them, these are some of the main ones:
(1) Paropakāra (assisting others)
(2) Guru-janera-sevā (serving elders)
(3) Dāna (charity)
(4) Jagad-vṛddhi (bringing progeny into the world)
(5) Satya (truthfulness)
(6) Pavitratā (purity)
(7) Saralatā (simplicity)
(8) Kṣamā (forgiveness)
(9) Dayā (mercy)
(10) Adhikāra anusāre kārya karā (acting according to one’s particular qualification)
(11) Yukta-vairāgya (practical renunciation)
(12) Apekṣapāta-vicāra (neutrality)
Question: What is karma-jaḍatā?
Answer: Through pious activities, one acquires material objects and thinks, “This is enough” and one becomes disinclined towards making attempts for spiritual advancement – this is called karma-jaḍatā.*
*Translators note: In other words one becomes apathetic to real spiritual practice by the acquirement and subsequent over-consumption of material gains through karma.
Question: What is śuṣka-vairāgya?
Answer: That renunciation practised by one’s own efforts is called śuṣka (dry) or phalgu-vairāgya (useless renunciation). That renunciation that automatically manifests due to the growth of bhakti is called yukta-vairāgya (proper renunciation).
Question: What is śuṣka-jñāna?
Answer: That knowledge where no cit-tattva (spiritual principles) can be observed, is called śuṣka-jñāna.
Question: How many kinds of aparādha are there?
Answer: There are two kinds of aparādha – sevāparādha (offences made during service), and nāmāparādha (offences made to the holy names).
Question: In brief, how can one’s bhajana become pure?
Answer: Pure bhajana is performed by remaining within this world with detachment, and after having attained pure knowledge, while engaging in hearing and chanting in the association of sādhus.