The Glory of

Exclusive Devotion

to r Ka


The deeper meaning of the verse api cet su-duracarah


by r rmad Bhaktivednta Trivikrama Gosvm Mahrja



[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here) for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English. Click here for a version without Balarama font.]


In rmad Bhgavad-gt (9.30) r Ka declares:

api cet su-durcro

bhajate mm ananya-bhk

sdhur eva sa mantavya

samyag vyavasito hi sa


If even a man of abominable character engages in

My exclusive bhajana, he is to be considered a

sdhu, due to his being properly situated in his



In his commentary to this verse, rla Vivantha Cakravart hkura quotes r Ka as saying:

It is My nature to be attached to My devotees, even that devotee who performs durcra, abominable deeds. I nevertheless elevate him. A person engaged in My bhajana is saintly, even if he happens to be attached to committing extremely detestable acts such as violence upon others, theft and illicit connection with another mans wife.


rla Vivantha Cakravart hkura continues:


What kind of bhajana must such a person perform to be regarded as saintly? In answer to this, r Ka says ananya-bhk My exclusive bhajana, in other words, bhajana directed at no demigods or other personalities besides Me.


Someone may question how a bhakta can possibly be regarded as a sdhu if some type of wickedness is to be seen in him. Anticipating this doubt, the word mantavya has been used, meaning that he nonetheless must be considered a sdhu; it is obligatory to accept him as such. The word mantavya indicates that it is imperative. If one disobeys this instruction, he will be guilty of neglect. r Ka is saying here, In this regard My order is final.


A person may have the idea that a bhakta engaged in bhajana of r Ka who has an illicit connection with another mans wife, may be regarded as only partially a sdhu. In answer to this, it is declared in this verse that such a bhakta must be considered a sdhu in every respect. One should be blind to his unsaintly behaviour, because he is samyag-vyavasita, of resolute intelligence, perfect in resolve. Such a person is endeavouring with the following kind of determination, I will never give up my exclusive bhajana of r Ka, whether I end up in hell or in the species of birds or animals due to the results of my sinful behaviour, which is very difficult

for me to give up.


The concluding opinion of rla Vivantha Cakravart hkura Mahaya on this matter is indeed extraordinary. Every man attached to having illicit relations with another mans wife will not have such exclusive faith in kabhajana. This type of resolve is possible only for those who have already reached an advanced stage of bhajana. For a devotee of such high calibre, having illicit relations with someone elses wife is a very wretched act. Unlike ordinary men, such personalities are generally not attached to others wives. Such an occurrence is certainly extremely rare.


An Apparent Contradiction


Api cet su-durcra this is r Kas statement. What liberality Ka, speaker of the Gt, has displayed through this verse. How is it, then, that this very same Absolute Truth has, as r Caitanya Mahprabhu, shown such severity and inflexibility? It is impossible for the Supreme Lord to contradict His own words.


What a terrible, heartless and uncompromising attitude Mahprabhu took towards Choa Haridsa! He ignored the humble entreaties of all types of devotees committed to helping Choa Haridsa, even the petitions of His superiors and intimate companions. Was this act of Mahprabhus meant only to make the devotees cautious in their dealings with women? Or does it have some deeper significance concealed within it?


Even if we set aside this apparent difference inmattitude between r Ka and Mahprabhu, we find that Mahprabhu Himself appears to have reacted inconsistently to a bhaktas misconduct.

Why was Mahprabhu not severe with Kl Kadsa in the same way that He

was with Choa Haridsa? Kl Kadsas error was far graver than Choa Haridsas, who merely made conversation with a woman and was not accused of cohabiting with one. Kl Kadsa,

by contrast, was found living with a woman of the Bhaathri caste.


Moreover, Choa Haridsa wasmananya-bhk, one-pointed in his devotion. He never performed bhajana of any worshipable truth other than Mahprabhu. Indeed, even after giving up his body, he would serve Mahprabhu by singing krtanas for Him while remaining invisible to others.


By contrast, Kl Kadsa, having been allured by the gypsy women, gave up Mahprabhus service and joined the Bhaathri group. Although Kl Kadsa possessed such an abominable

propensity, Mahprabhu never rejected him, nor did He suggest that he take his own life by way of atonement, by tying a big pitcher around his neck and drowning himself in the river. Rather, to rectify him, Mahprabhu handed him over to the devotees, thereby freeing Himself from His responsibility towards him.


What deeper grounds are there in these two cases for Mahprabhus seemingly inconsistent behaviour? The answer is certainly inaccessible to ordinary people.


Choa Haridsas Case


It should be noted that rla Vivantha Cakravart hkura did not accept sannysa, the renounced order of life. As such, he does not specifically discussthe circumstances of a renunciant (vairg) in his commentary to the verse api cet su-durcra. He addresses people of all social orders simply as bhaktas, without any further differentiation. Although this term includes both the householder and the renunciant, rla Vivantha Cakravart hkura does not specifically employ the word tyg, renunciant. rman Mahprabhu, however, says the following regarding Choa Haridsa:


prabhu kahe vairg kare prakti sambhaa

dekhite n pro mi thra vadana


r Caitanya-caritmta (Antya-ll 2.117)


Mahprabhu replied, I cannot tolerate seeing the

face of a person who has accepted the renounced

order of life but who still talks intimately with a



kudra-jva saba markaa-vairgya kariy

indriya car bule prakti sambhiy


r Caitanya-caritmta (Antya-ll 2.120)


There are many persons with little in their possession

who accept the renounced order of life like

monkeys. They go here and there engaging in

sense gratification and speaking intimately with



The cryas themselves observe all the regulative principles of their respective social order and never indulge in any inappropriate discussion. Since Choa Haridsa Prabhu was a renunciant in the fourth social order, Mahprabhus judgment on him was in accordance with stra and appropriate to his adhikra, level of eligibility. Unless one is not himself in the fourth social order, passing judgment on a renunciant is improper.


Kl Kadsas Case


Why did Mahprabhu apply a different standard to Kl Kadsa? Why was strict action taken in

Choa Haridsa Prabhus case but not in Kl Kadsas? In this regard, it may be observed that

stra itself lays down a different set of guidelines, excusing the householders weakness of associating with women:


str nirkaa-spara-salpa-kvelandikam

prino mithun-bhtn aghastho gratas tyajet


rmad-Bhgavatam (11.17.33)


Those who are unmarried that is, sannyss,

vnaprasthas and brahmacrs should never

associate with women by glancing, touching, conversing,

joking, flirting or cavorting. Neither

should they keep the company of anyone who

engages in sexual activity.


Renounced devotees should give up the association of those who look upon, touch, converse with, sport with or indulge in sex with a woman. By use of the word aghastha (those who are unmarried) in this verse, an exemption is implicitly provided for ghasthas. It is forbidden for a brahmacr, vnaprastha and vairg (i.e. sannys) to engage in these acts. In other words, these activities are permissible for ghasthas who are not so advanced. However, if a ghastha is nikicana, inclined towards bhajana and wants to cross over the ocean of nescience, then these prohibitions apply to him also.


This is supported by Mahprabhus distressful words in r Caitanya-candrodaya-naka:


nikicanasya bhagavad-bhajanonmukhasya

pra para jigamior bhava-sgarasya

sandarana viayim atha yoit ca

h hanta hanta via-bhakaato py asdhu


r Caitanya-candrodaya-naka (8.23)


Alas, for a person who seriously desires to cross

the ocean of nescience and engage in the transcendental

loving service of r Ka without any

material motivation, seeing a materialist engaged

in sense gratification or seeing a woman who is

similarly interested is more abominable than willingly

drinking poison.


Kl Kadsa was a householder, and therefore he was not treated severely. Choa Haridsa, however,was a vairg, who had renounced his household life. Severity was therefore appropriate in relation to him.


Two Different Approaches


Both r Ka and rla Vivantha Cakravartpda manifested ghastha pastimes in this world, and have therefore not discussed or passed judgment on renunciants such as sannyss. Being a sannys, however, rman Mahprabhu behaved appropriately in being befittingly severe with the renunciant Haridsa Prabhu.


Although the verses previously quoted evince a different approach for householders and renunciant, each is auspicious for those to whom it applies considering a persons individual qualification (adhikra); moreover, both approaches should be understood as having the same end purpose as each other. r Caitanya Mahprabhu and r Kacandra are the same Absolute Reality, but Ka was a ghastha and Mahprabhu a sannys. This difference of rama in Their pastimes is reflected in Their instructions, and does not result in any apasiddhnta, incorrect conclusions.


Indulgence in sex with a woman is unfavourable for paramrtha, the ultimate goal of life for all humans. On account of having a lower qualification, a householder is given the arrangement of marriage. The only purpose of marriage is to curtail his propensity for sense enjoyment this should be understood. This idea has been expressed in rmad-Bhgavatam (11.3.44) in the statement karma-mokya karmi material activities meant for liberation from material

pursuits. In the verse from rmad-Bhgavatam (11.5.11) beginning with the words loke vyavymiamadya- sev, the same idea is conveyed through the statement su nivttir i the cessation of these is the desired end.


There is no scope for even a scent of lust (kma) on the path of prema propagated by Mahprabhu.

Lust is darkness, while prema is the transcendental sun. The pastimes of ujjvala-rasa, the mellow of amorous love, are not like the meeting of ordinary men and women with a mood to enjoy each other. They cannot be understood by the bound jva. It is therefore forbidden to discuss such pastimes while in the conditioned state of consciousness.


Persons of Low Eligibility


It is further to be noted that the instructions of stra are generally applicable to all human beings,

whether they be male or female. Here, however, men alone appear to be restricted viz. from looking upon women, touching them and so on. Why are women not brought under similar strictures? Are we to infer that women are superior to men, or does it imply they are altogether beneath the level of even being regulated?


We see that dras, women and the uncultured members of brhmaa and other high-order families (dvija-bandhus) are not given the right to study the Vedas. Does the statement api cet su-durcra, then, contradict this injunction of the stras?


There can never by any conflict between the statements of stra. As such, this verse does not in itself discuss the status of women. Rather, it illuminates the highest glories of exclusive bhajana to r Ka by declaring that by performing such bhajana even persons of the lowest qualification (adhikra) are fit to be counted as highly worshipable and saintly.


It should be understood that it is certainly very difficult to perform ananya-bhk, one-pointed bhajana of r Ka. If this were not so, the statement strsag eka asdhu the person who associates with women for sense gratification is unsaintly in r Caitanya-caritmta (Madhya-ll 22.87) would be deprived of its truth. The Gt (9.33) goes on to describe those who are naturally eligible to perform such one-pointed devotion:


ki punar brhma puy

bhakt rjarayas tath


What doubt then can there be that pious brhmaas

and saintly kings can become bhaktas?


The Power of Exclusive Bhajana


Although there are many worshipable deities, in the verse api cet su-durcra and the verses that

follow it, the worship of r Ka is declared to be topmost, bestowing the highest results. If someone engages in one-pointed bhajana of the worshipable reality r Ka, even if he is thoroughly unqualified, r Ka very quickly dispels his greatest disqualifications and bestows upon him the quality of being a sdhu and supreme peace (par-nti).


In order to firmly and indubitably express this, Ka ordered His intimate devotee and friend Arjuna to take a vow to this effect:


kipra bhavati dharmtm

avac-chnti nigacchati

kaunteya pratijnhi

na me bhakta praayati


Bhagavad-gt (9.31)


He quickly becomes virtuous and attains eternal

peace. O son of Kunt, declare it boldly that My

devotee never perishes.


This also illustrates Kas nature of protecting the vow of His devotee, even at the expense of breaking His own vow.


Ka bestows the supreme destination and eternal peace to anyone who performs one-pointed bhajana of Him, thereby making that worshippers life successful, even if he is extremely unqualified and degraded, a wicked outcaste (mleccha), a woman of bad character, a merchant engaged in farming and trading, a dra, or a man or woman born into the lower castes.


This type of result cannot be attained by performing the bhajana of any worshipable reality other than r Ka. This is indeed expressed here. Therefore every human being is enjoined to engage his body, mind and words in the service of r Ka and thereby become blessed. For such bhajana, however, it is desirable that one possess the quality described in rmad-Bhgavatam (2.7.42) as yadi nirvyalkam surrender without pretension.


Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika, Year 50, Issue 12
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in English for the first time in Rays of The Harmonist No. 13 Karttika 2003

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