Art of Pure Devotion

by His Divine Grace

Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaja


In this book, I have attempted to imprint conscientiously some basic areas of devotional conclusions, (siddhanta) which My most worshipable spiritual master, nitya lila pravista Om Vishnupada His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja, used to often stress in His various dialogues with devotees. Simple though it may seem to those who are somewhat conversant with spiritual lore, these deliberations can project manifold deeper purports and the only resort to clear the maze of such apparently opposing conclusions is solely the mercy of the spiritual master, pure devotees and the Supreme Lord by implicit obedience to them.

For example, in regard to guru-tattva the apparently simply idea of the guru-principle that was understood in initial stages by many has now seemed to take a broader spectrum. Nonetheless, as Srila Gurudev points out in his first essay on the reminiscences of his spiritual master that on the event of even a little doubt or neglect surfacing on the part of the disciple towards the bona fide guru, immediately all of the disciple's devotional practices ceases to have any effect. In other words, devotion to the spiritual master is solely the criteria for one's ability to ascertain spiritual truths. In the first topic titled reminiscences of Sri Srila Prabhupada, Srila Gurudeva had enlightened us on the mood of real separation to the spiritual master, which can only manifest if the disciple uses his mind, body and words, in the assimilation and pure practice of the spiritual master's divine instructions that would inevitably warrant the causeless mercy of the Lord. To delve into those very basic instructions is the humble origin of this book, which has been formulated to increase the mood of separation from our worshipable spiritual master.

In his essay on Lord Gaura Sundara, the truth of Sriman Mahaprabhu as the Supreme Lord Himself has been discussed. In the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, a simple outline of the principles of knowledge (sambandha), practice (abhideya) and the goal (prayojana) has been outlined. Further in connection with the basis, sambandha or linking knowledge, Sriman Mahaprabhu has clarified many intricate and fine conclusions regarding the nature of the living entity and his relationships with both the material nature and the Supreme Lord. Further, He exhorted all to accept the shelter of the bona fide guru for attaining self-realization. The Srimad Bhagavatam declares:

nrdeham adyam sulabham sudurlabham
plavam sukalpam gurukarnadharam
mayanukulyena nabasvateritam
puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atmaha
"After many births of wandering in this material universe through different bodies, by some rare good fortune one has been awarded this invaluable human body which can be compared to a boat that can take us across the ocean of transmigration. The spiritual master is compared as the captain to guide this boat across the seemingly insurmountable material ocean to the spiritual world. To combat the tempests or storms that may assail this boat on its dangerous journey is the favorable propelling wind in the form of the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord."

In short, those even having all such opportunities to cross the ocean of transmigration but are neglectful in this regard are to be considered killers of their soul.

Our worshipable spiritual master in his various essays in the defense of pure devotion would often quote from the Srimad Bhagavatam commentaries of Srila Visvnatha Cakravarti Thakura as above. He possessed an incredible memory power being able to quote from many scriptures when the occasion arose. Especially, the verses of the Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita by Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Gosvwami and Sri Bhaitanya Bhagavata were dear to Him and he would often quote from these books in the delineation of some of the esoteric pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu.

His Divine Grace had always urged al in developing an attraction for the Holy name, while at the same time cultivating the qualities of meekness and humility as exemplified in the teachings of Lord Chaitanya rather than strive to venture blindly into high confidential devotional mellows. The essay on the glories of the Holy Name is written with reference to the authorized scriptures. Regarding such glories, Srila Gurudeva often quotes from Srila Bhaktivinoda's compositions:

isat vikasi punah dekhaya nija rupa guna
citta hari laya krsna pasa
"One who performs devotion completely free from all duplicity and becomes completely surrendered to the Holy Name, gradually the Holy Name personified will award all perfections while bringing one to the highest platform."

In connection with the need of increased enthusiasm for chanting the holy name of the Lord, Srila Gurudeva narrates an excerpt of the childhood pastimes of Lord Krishna taken from the Srimad Bhagavatam. Once, mother Yasoda attempted to tie baby Krishna to a wooden mortar because of His extremely naughty childhood pranks in the vicinity. To her amazement, she found that no matter how much rope was used to bind the child, it always turned out to be short by the measure of two fingers. At last, Sri Krishna on witnessing the weary, perspiring condition of His mother gave in and allowed Himself to be bound. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti comments that initially, the internal potency yogamaya prevented mother Yasoda from tying Sri Krishna altogether, keeping the rope short by the length of two fingers to be able to continually facilitate the Lord's childhood pastimes. Finally, in the end after Sri Krishna witnessed His mother's persistent struggle, His heart softened and He allowed Himself to be bound by the action of His causeless mercy potency (krpa-sakti). In this context, the two fingers of rope that was lacking represent firstly, the necessity of the sincere endeavor of every individual devotee in his devotional practices and secondly the causeless mercy of Sri Krishna, which is surely bestowed on His witnessing the faithful, painstaking attempts of the devotee. These two factors were instrumental for Sri Krishna to allow Himself to be tied.

Srila Gurudev states that one important truth that can be ascertained from this episode is that although Sriman Mahaprabhu had instructed us all to take up chanting one lackh of Holy Names daily, if we fail to make the proper effort and simply beg for mercy in a pretentious way that will not find favor with the Supreme Lord.! At least all spiritual candidates have to make an effort to chant 25,000 names daily for their progress in spiritual life. Our worshipable divine master had always requested many inquisitive seekers to try to develop a genuine attraction to the holy name rather than trying to indulge in the unauthorized discussions on the confidential subject matters.

In every single aspect of Srila Gurudeva's life he showed the model example of carrying out the dual functions of practice and preaching. For instance, in addition to his minimum schedule of chanting one-lakh rounds he would constantly engage in writing many spiritual essays for propagating the divine message of Sriman Mahaprabhu. His innumerable nectarine essays on record is the very proof of this. He was very proficient in the art of deity worship. Being of high descent deity worship always had played an important role in his life from childhood. He was always very pain staking in every feature of such worship also having participated in installing the deities of various maths. In fact, Srila Gurudeva would laughingly tell us that at one time collecting ancient sacred books and deity forms of the Lord was his second nature.

On sacred occasions such as the appearance day of Supreme Lord Krishna or other divine incarnations, He would remain strictly fasting the whole day while performing the bathing ceremony or conducting the appropriate fire sacrifice for the occasion. He has assured all who have implicit faith in his divine instructions and were willing to undertake the life of submission and surrender to the Supreme Lord that they will surely be able to cross over the material coverings. I pray to my most worshipable spiritual master that he may bless this unqualified servant of his so that he can always remain at al times entrenched in the service of the spiritual master, the Vaishnavas and the Supreme Lord.

Sri-guru krpa hi kevalam

Our servant in the service of Sri
Guru & Gauranga
Bhakti Sarana Damodara

tad vag visargo janatagha viplavo
yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso' nkitani yat
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

The literature which describes the glories of the Supreme Lord is directed to change the impious lives of the worldly people. Even though irregularly composed, it is accepted, heard and sung by the saintly people.

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