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Eastern Division First Wave contd.:


  Text 2:


hrdi yasya preranaya pravartito ‘ham varaka-rupo 'pi |

tasya hareh pada-kamalam vande caitanya-devasya ||2||


       Translation: I offer my obeisances to the lotus-like beautiful Feet of the Supreme Lord Hari, who is Sri Caitanyadeva, inspired by whom in my heart, I am induced to write this book even though I myself am most unworthy to undertake the great task. –2-


       Commentary: After invoking and glorifying the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, Sri Rupa Gosvami now bows before Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva, who is identical with the Godhead Sri Krsna, at whose Feet he had taken complete shelter, and who by promulgating his own Bhakti or devotional services to the Supreme Being, made His Divine Descent in this world to save the fallen souls of the Kali yuga-the age of vices. Sri Rupa Gosvami expresses his humbleness of heart when he says: Unworthy though I am to venture to write on the most difficult and incomprehensible subject of Bhakti-Rasa, Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva has been graciously pleased to inspire my heart to take up this insurmountable task. I therefore prostrate myself before His feet.

       The word Varaka means small or humble, being an expression of humbleness of the heart of a great and genuine devotee like Sri Rupa Gosvami. But the word also means one who is able to express most perfectly the supremest subject by employing the science of words and grammar. Thus the word ‘Varaka’ can be explained in both the senses of most insignificant and most capable. Sri Rupa intends to say that though this rhetorical book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh has been written by him, it was possible only because he was inspired by Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva to undertake the work.

       The use of the compound word varaka-rupa further signifies, according to Visva-Kosa, humbleness as an embellishment of one's character one whose very nature is humbleness! The suffix “Rupa” is used in the sense of resemblance. Thus, ‘varaka-rupa’ means one who appears to be indigent. On the other hand, if varaka is taken in the sense of one who is most competent to describe the supreme subject matter through a rhetorical composition, then Sri Rupa Gosvami as the writer (varaka-rupa) may also be said to introduce himself! When Sri Rupa Gosvami calls himself Varaka, i.e. most insignificant, he confesses that no credit could be given to him for writing on the subject of Bhakti-Rasa, which was difficult even for Brahma, Siva and other gods! But the possibility must be ascribed to the inspiration that had been infused in his heart by the Supreme Lord Himself. Thus is expressed here the modesty of the poet and the glories of Bhagavan, the Godhead.

       In his commentary Sri Mukundadasa Gosvami establishes the identity of Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva with theSupreme Lord Sri Krsna by quoting copiously from the different scriptures. (The translator quotes these texts in his preface.)Sri Mukundadasa Gosvami raises a pertinent question: Why should Sri Rupa Gosvami again make his obeisances to Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva when he had already invoked the glories of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna in his first sloka? In reply he points out that Sri Krsna, who is the Most Beloved of Sri Radha,is now manifest as Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva.

       The present book, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh deals with the subject matter of Prema starting from its lowest ladder of Sraddha. (I) Sraddha to (IV) Anartha-nivrtti are steps of spiritual sadhana (practices) from utter bondage to the soul's freedom from the clutches of the threefold deviating influences.

       The most supreme conception of Prema as Madana-Mahabhava is possible in Sri Radha alone. This is the supreme climax of Divine Prema. Commentator Sri Mukundadasa says in his commentary that as Sri Krsna Himself could not relish the super-excellence of Sri Radha's Mahabhava Prema for Him, He entered into the Mahabhava of Sri Radha in the form of Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva in order to relish this supreme Prema. It is, therefore, quite in order that Sri Rupa Gosvami should make his obeisances to Krsna Caitanyadeva even after glorifying Sri Krsna in the first sloka of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh. -2-



Text 3:


vishrama-mandiratya tasya sanatana-tanor mad ishasya |

bhakti-rasamrta-sindhur-bhavatau sadayam promodaya ||3||


       Translation: May this ocean of the nectar of Bhakti-Rasa (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh) be the pleasure-bed of rest of my Supreme Lord Sri Krsna (i.e. Sri Narayana), who posses an All-animate Eternal Body, and may it give Him constant pleasures. -3-




May this Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh be the temple of rest for the supreme satisfaction of my Spiritual  Master who is known as Sri Sanatana Gosvami. -3-



       Commentary: In this sloka Sri Rupa Gosvami explains the purpose of his writing this classical work. He does not think in terms of acceptance or rejection of the worth of his book by anybody of this world. The author's one and only object is that the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna as, well as his Spiritual Master (Guru) Sri Sanatana Gosvami, may taste the ambrosia of the transcendental pleasures by drinking its contents. The author's highest satisfaction lies in the satisfaction of the Lord alone.

       In this sloka Sri Rupa Gosvami describes his book as an Ocean of Nectar and as the tradition goes, at the time of total dissolution of the universe the Supreme Lord Sri Narayana (the Lord who accepts water as His bed), who possesses an eternal, i.e. Sanatana Body of His own, makes the Ocean His bed for rest, so also Sri Rupa prays that his book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindbuh which is like an Ocean of Bhakti-Rasa, may be a soft and comfortable bed of rest of highest pleasures to the Eternal (Sanatana)Lord Sri Krsna. The contention is that the subject matter of this book, which is Bhakti-Rasa, will give immense pleasure to the Supreme Divinity. Punning on the word Sanatana, Sri Rupa also prays that this book dealing with the highest conception of Bhakti may as well superbly please his own Spiritual Master Sri Sanatana Gosvami, who is well-known for his great qualities of knowledge (jnana), renunciation (viraga) and Bhakti (soul's loving services to God for His pleasures). -3-



Text 4:


bhakti-rasamrta-sindhau caratah paribhuta-kala-jalabhiyah |

bhakta-makaranashilita mukti-nandIkanna-masami ||4||


       Translation: I respectfully bow to those superior devotees, who have overcome the cobwebs of time, which is the cause of births and deaths, and who like the Makara (the mythical sea-animal) freely swim, in the Ocean of the Nectar of Bhakti-Rasa (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh), after discarding all the rivers of Mukti that ultimately merge and disappear in the Ocean of Bhakti. –4-


       Commentary: Sri Rupa Gosvami first makes obeisance at the feet of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna and Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva, his spiritual master Sri Sanatana Gosvami, and now bows before the genuine devotees of Sri Krsna. In this sloka, Sri Rupa compares a genuine devotee with a Makara, the king of fishes; Bhakti-Rasa with an Ocean of Nectar; the different forms of  Mukti with various rivers that lose themselves in the ocean and in which they flow and thereby find their final rest  therein.  Sri Rupa invites genuine devotees to swim in the Ocean of Nectar of Bhakti-Rasa (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh) by discarding the rivers of Mukti, which ultimately find their rest in the Ocean of Bhakti only, like a Makara that will always discard all rivers and will only live in the ocean, for all rivers end in the ocean. Sri Rupa further says that genuine devotees have cut asunder cobwebs of time, and have mastered births and deaths. In the comparison of a devotee with a Makara, Sri Rupa Gosvami has three common grounds before his mind. Firstly, Bhakti-Rasa is the Ocean of Nectar in which a genuine devotee will swim and which he will taste and drink as a Makara swims and lives in the ocean only. Secondly, as a Makara being the  king amongst fishes, discards all rivers that fall into the ocean, so also a genuine and superior devotee of Sri Krsna discards all the five forms of Mukti even when they merge in Bhakti; thirdly, as a Makara cannot be caught in the net of a fisherman as it lives in the deep ocean, so also a genuine devotee of Sri Krsna cannot be bound by the cobwebs of time and hence has no fear of births and deaths. Sri Rupa bows down before such a devotee.

       Sri Jiva Gosvami in his commentary on this sloka says that a devotee has overcome all miseries of births and deaths,which are the cobwebs of time. Time cannot throw its net of births and deaths to catch a devotee as a fisherman cannot throw his net in the deep waters of the ocean to catch a Makara, so both are free from such fear of death. Further, though there are nice currents of water in rivers, a Makara does not care to swim or live in them; it does not want a river for its stay, so also a genuine and superior devotee of Sri Krsna discards, even if offered, all the five forms of Mukti or emancipation from mundane bondage, viz. (1) Salokya-mukti, i.e. liberation as a co-denizen of the Realm of God, (2) Sarsti-mukti, i.e. liberation in the sense of possessing special powers or majesty similar to those of God, (3) Samipya-mukti, i.e. liberation in the sense of living in the presence of God, (4) Sarupya-mukti, i.e. liberation in possessing the form of God., and (5) Sayujya-mukti or liberation as being merged in God. A devotee in short wants nothing else but the service of the Lord for His pleasures only.17

       Again, Sri Jiva quotes from the Bhagavatam where Sri Narayana speaks to Sri Durvasa Rsi: "When My devotees who are fully engaged in My service do not desire even the four forms of mukti, viz. salokya, sarsti, samipya, sarupya, which are attainable by serving Me, why speak of their asking for passing perishable objects of the mundane world?"18 Indeed, even though devotees whose Bhakti is tinged by karma and jnana, may attain to the first four forms of mukti by serving the Lord, yet a superior devotee of unalloyed devotion without any tinge of karma and jnana will decline these four forms of Mukti even if offered to him. But sayuja-mukti or merging into God Himself is completely discarded by devotees, being considered incompatible with Bhakti in any form, alloyed or unalloyed. The highest and superior devotees of Sri Krsna, who practice pure and unalloyed Bhakti, do not, therefore, even know of any sufferings from births and deaths, as they are constantly engaged in the services of the Lord and are ever engaged in tasting the sweetness of Krsna-Prema. To such devotees does Sri Rupa bow his head in reverence. –4-


17 Bhagavatam, Canto III, Chap. 29, sloka 13, where Sri Kapiladeva speaks to Devahuti.

18 Ibid, Canto IX,Chap. 4, sloka 67



Text 5:


mimamsakava-davagneh kathinamapi kunthayannasau |

jihvam sphurantu sanatana suciram tava bhakti-rasamrtam-bhodhih ||5||


       Translation: Oh Sanatana! (Sri Krsna! or Sri Sanatana!) may this Thy Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh glow or be manifest in all its brightness and luster in my heart for all time by extinguishing the flame-like tongue of the Mimamsakas.-5-


       Commentary: Here the author invokes the blessings of both Sri Krsna the Lord and Sri Sanatana Gosvami the Guru for completely refuting the possible counter-arguments of the two sections of the Mimamsa philosophy (Mimamsakas) so that they might be given a smashing defeat. The Mimamsakas are divided into two groups according to the Purva-Mimamsa and Uttara-Mimamsa. The Purva-Mimamsa deals with the ritualistic aspects of the Vedas, while the Uttara-Mimamsa, otherwise known as Vedanta-sutras, the aphorisms of the Vedas, deals with some aspects of knowledge of Impersonal Brahman. The Purva-Mimamsa and Uttara-Mimamsa are also known as Karma-Mimamsa and Jnana-Mimamsa respectively. Sri Rupa contends that in case these two schools of philosophers or Mimamsakas belonging to Vedic ritualism and undifferentiated knowledge, that is, with fruit-earning Karma and impersonal pure experience of Jnana, should raise any burning arguments against the contents of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh, like the seven-tongued submarine fires in an ocean, the very sweetness, i.e. the evidential value, and validity of the Ocean of the Nectar of Bhakti-Rasa (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh) will be able to refute and silence them completely. Bhakti-Rasa will certainly be able with ease to pull out the rind of fruit-bearing karma of the Karma-Mimamsakas and throw out as useless the seed of dry wisdom of the impersonalists or Jnana-Mimamsakas, as the  natural coolness of the ocean easily extinguishes the seven tongues of the submarine fires in its  bosom. Rather, there is always a submarine-fire in an ocean, while in the case of Bhakti-rasamrta- sindhuh, the Ocean, which brims with the Nectar of Bhakti-Rasa, there may or may not be the  submarine-fires, like Mimamsakas, and hence the difficulties in this case are fewer. Again, the ocean-fires have seven tongues, as the tradition goes, which is hard for the coolness of the ocean water to extinguish, while in case of the Ocean of Bhakti-Rasa, the flame of  Mimamsakas has only two tongues, i.e. the two groups of mimamsakas, and hence it is very easy to silence them by the soothing, sweetness of the Rasa of the Ocean of Bhakti! So Sri Rupa holds that his problem is not so difficult, and that by the Grace of the Lord and the Spiritual Master it will be very easy for him to establish the incomparable superiority of Bhakti-Rasa over Vedic fruit-bearing Karma of the Purva-Mimamsa and the dry wisdom of the impersonalists of the Uttara-Mimamsa. Hence he tells his Lord and Guru that this Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh belong to Them for Their pleasures, and that by Their Grace it may  remain ever manifest in his heart. – 5-



Text 6:


bhakti-rasya prastutir-akhila-jagan-mangala-prasangasya |

agyenapi mayasya kriyate suhrdam pramodaya ||6||


       Translation: For the delight of the intimate friends this Bhakti-Rasa, dealing with Sri Krsna, who is the Personification of all-auspiciousness of all the worlds, is being prepared or written even by this incompetent (most competent) person. -6-


       Commentary: After praying for the blessings of the Lord and the Spiritual Master that this book may completely refute the sophistries of the Purva and Uttara-Mimamamsa, i.e. of the karmavadins and the impersonalists, Sri Rupa now humbly says that though he does not cherish any vanity that he can offer effective rejoinders to all forms of arguments of both favorable or antagonistic empiricists, he would certainly write on Bhakti-Rasa for the delight of genuine devotees and intimate friends. The author knows that dry empiricists whose hearts have not been watered by Bhakti-Rasa cannot find delight in it; nor does he care for their acceptance or rejection. But he knows that friends will find limitless delight in Bhakti-Rasa that deals with the All-auspiciousness of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna in whom rests the highest bliss for all the worlds. So ignoring the empiricists, Sri Rupa attempts to write the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh for the genuine and benevolent friends who are free from ordinary limitations and prejudices and who are ardent followers of Bhakti-Rasa and who will find immense delight in it. As before, the author expresses humbleness by saying that he is not worthy of the task without the Grace of the Lord and the Master. The word ajna means incompetent; it also means most wise, i.e. Sri Rupa is the most competent person to write on this subject of Bhakti-Rasa. Sri Jiva says that Sri Rupa did not need writing this book for any purpose of his own as he was deeply merged in Bhakti-Rasa, but his eagerness to write on the subject was due to his desire, out of the kindness of his heart, to offer supreme delight to his friends, i.e. genuine and highest devotees. –6-



Text 7-9:


etasyah bhagavad-bhakti rasamrta-payonidheh |

catvarah khalu vaksyante bhagah purvadayah kramat ||7||

tatra purve vibhage 'smin bhakti-bhedanirupake |

anukramena vaktavyam laharinam catustayam ||8||

adya samanya-bhaktadhya dvitiya sadhananvita |

bhavashrita trtiya caturya prema-nirupika ||9||


       Translation: Four divisions of this Bhakti-rasamrta-sIndhuh in relation to the Supreme Lord will now be described in the order of EAST, SOUTH, WEST and NORTH (7) and the different determinate aspects of Bhakti will be expounded in the FOUR WAVES of the EAST DIVISION. (8) In the FIRST WAVE, the generic character of Bhakti; in the SECOND WAVE, Bhakti attained by sadhana or spiritual practices according to scriptural injunctions, i.e. SADHANA-BHAKTI; in the THIRD WAVE, Bhakti based on Bhava, i.e. –BHAVA-BHAKTI; and in the FOURTH WAVE, PREMA-BHAKTI will be established. -9-



Text 10:


tatradau susthu vaishistya-masyah kathayitum sphutam |

laksanam kriyate bhakter-uttamayah satam matam ||10||


       Translation: In order to explain explicitly the obvious characteristics of Bhakti (i.e. Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhava-Bhakti and Prema-Bhakti in the Second, Third and Fourth Waves of the East-Division respectively), the intrinsic nature (definition) of Uttama-Bhakti (unalloyed Bhakti of the highest quality), as accepted by saints, is first stated in the First Wave. -10-


       Commentary: Sri Rupa Gosvami here argues that before he can take up the distinctive and different characteristics of unalloyed Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhava-Bhakti and Prema-Bhakti, it is essential first to define Uttama-Bhakti, or unalloyed pure Bhakti, as distinguished from Bhakti tinged by karma and jnana. Without a precise definition and accurate description of a subject, its different species or varieties cannot be ascertained. A definition of an object gives its distinctive character. For example, the dewlap defines an ox, as its dewlap distinguishes it from other animals. Hence an ox can be defined as an animal that possesses a dewlap. Dewlap thus distinguishes an ox from other animals. So Sri Rupa will now define Uttama-Bhakti,  i.e. pure Bhakti of the highest quality, as distinct from Mixed Bhakti. Sri Rupa further states that the definition that he will be giving of  Uttama-Bhakti will not be anything from his personal imagination, but it will certainly be based on the authentic declarations of saints like Narada and others. In the FIRST WAVE of the EAST-DIVISION of the Ocean of the Nectar of Bhakti-Rasa, Sri Rupa will simply define Uttama-Bhakti, but without going into details about its different varieties so that pure bhakti may be differentiated from Mixed Bhakti, such as is tinged by karma and jnana, and also that the ground may be prepared for the appreciation of the special characteristics of Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhava-Bhakti and Prema-Bhakti in the following THREE WAVES of the EAST-DIVISION. Bhakti that is tinged by desires for worldly pleasures, wealth, heavenly enjoyments, etc. cannot be the highest and pure. As Uttama-Bhakti is completely free from desires, a devotee practicing unalloyed devotion or Bhakti is naturally superior to all others. So it is said in the Bhagavatam: "One who possesses unmixed and desireless Bhakti in the Supreme Lord, all gods with all their attributes dwell in him; what quality can there be in a non-devotee of God who is carried in a mental-chariot as it were to the world's pleasure-gardens? That is, a non-devotee possesses no excellence whatsoever!"19


 19 Bhagavatam, Canto V, Chap. 18, sloka 12.



Definition of Uttama-Bhakti:


Text 11:


anyabhilasita-shunyam jsana-karmady-anavritam |

anukulyena krisnanu-shilanam bhaktir-uttama ||11||


       Translation: Actively serving Krsna and all that is related to Krsna with real liking and relish and in a way that is agreeable or pleasing also to Krsna, and serving Krsna in the above manner without any desires of the usual extraneous motives other than the desire for Bhakti itself, and without any adulteration by the ways of karma (as expounded in the Purva-Mimamsa) or the way of knowledge or Jnana (as expounded in Uttara-Mimamsa) or the way of yogic realization (as expounded in Patanjali's yoga-philosophy) is pure, unadulterated Uttama-Bhakti, i.e. Bhakti of the highest quality. – 11-


       Commentary: After the preliminary obeisances to God, Guru and genuine devotees, and after further mentioning how he would discuss the subject of Bhakti-Rasa in FOUR DIVISION, Sri Rupa Gosvami now takes up the central of this book, i.e. Uttama-Bhakti.

       In defining Bhakti, Sri Rupa Gosvami mentions both the Svarupa-Laksana, i.e. direct and intrinsic character, and the Tatastha-Laksana, i.e. indirect and extrinsic character of the subject.

       In defining the Svarupa-Laksana of Bhakti, Sri Rupa establishes three things, viz. {1) the Supreme Lord, (2) Anusilanam or culture, i.e. service of Krsna and (3) Anukulyena or in a manner that will be agreeable to Krsna's taste.

       In the indirect or extrinsic aspects of the definition, Sri Rupa mentions two things, viz.

(a) non-existence of ordinary human motives for objects other than Bhakti (anyabhilasitasunyam), and (b) unconcealed by jnana-karma-yoga, etc. (Jnana-Karmadyanavrtam).

       The positive part of the definition establishes pure Bhakti, and the negative part of the definition brings out the distinctive super-excellence of Bhakti, i.e. Uttama-Bhakti, as pure and  unadulterated, and therefore autonomous and self-shining.

       In the Svarupa-Laksana, the positive characteristics include:

       (1) KRSNA The SUBJECT of Bhakti is the Supreme Godhead alone and nothing else. No mundane entity can be the subject of Bhakti. When Sri Rupa Gosvami mentions Krsna as the Supreme Subject of Bhakti, he means the Lord in all His aspects: as Krsna in Braja, as Krsna in Mathura and Dwaraka, as Narayana in Vaikuntha, and as all other forms and manifestations or divine descents of the Godhead. The different distinctive characteristics of these forms of the Supreme Lord Krsna will be discussed in detail hereafter, i.e. in slokas 220 to 224 in the First Wave of the North Division of the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh. Anyway, Sri Rupa Gosvami first establishes that the Supreme and the highest Godhead, who is termed Krsna, is the sole and only Subject of Bhakti.

       (2) ANUSILANAM: The most important thing in the conception of Bhakti is the active i.e. service of Krsna and all that is related to Krsna. The true meaning of anusilanam must be understood from its root verb. The meaning of a verb is derived from its root. Here also the root meaning of anusilanam must be ascertained and accepted. Every verb derives its meaning from its root, which may be both positive and negative. The positive aspect can be physical, verbal and mental. Verbs predicate action; that is to say, action is implied in every verb. So anusilanam will active endeavors by body, words and deeds. Actions other than the positive will be negative, such as endeavors not to commit offenses to the Name of God while chanting, or offenses in services in temples, etc. This negative anusilanam in relation to Krsna Nama (chanting of the Name of and Krsna Seva (worship in temples etc.) can also be physical, verbal and mental.

       Now a question may be raised: Do all verbs in their root meaning imply action, such as roots stha and bhu? Even here the doubt may be removed. The root stha means to exist, which does not, of course, explicitly indicate any action, but certainly implies that it removes nonexistence, so also though bhu means to be, it also eliminates not to be. So every root meaning of a verb does indicate action. So ANUSILANAM of Krsna definitely means endeavors for the culture of Krsna and all that is related to Krsna.

       Besides the positive and negative aspects: physical, verbal and mental, in respect of the active cultural endeavors about Krsna, there can also be emotional activities arising out of the Sthayi-Bhava-Rati  (attachment of a permanent relationship) and rising through Prema to Maha-Bhava. (Please see Introduction). Thus Krsna-Anusilanam means all forms of active culture about Krsna and in relation to Krsna. If, in this sense, Sraddha or faith in Scriptures, submission to the Spiritual Master or Guru, association with genuine saints or devotees of Krsna, services of the Associates of Krsna, as well as all other forms of spiritual practices that will liberate an individual from mundane bondage till Nistha, Ruci, Asakti, Bhava and Prema (please see Introduction) are attained, be included in the meaning of anusilanam, i.e. endeavors in relation to Krsna, the definition cannot be said to be too wide, as all these endeavors relate to Krsna.

       KRSNA-ANUSILANAM can be possible only by the Grace of Krsna and His devotees. This active culture about Krsna (anusilanam) is inherent in the Intrinsic Potency or Svarupa-Sakti of the Supreme Lord Himself. Hence this anusilanam is supra-mundane (aprakrta). In other words, it is a function that descends from the Realm of the Supreme Lord to earth, as it were, when it functions in the pure soul or finite Jiva-atma. It is infused in the limited faculty of the finite self by the Lord's Svarupa-Sakti (The intrinsic potency of God) out of Her innate faculty, whereby the limited faculty of the Jiva-atma or finite self functions fully and wholly in reciprocity to the Lord. Thus inflamed, as it were, by the Svarupa-Sakti the aprakrta or supra-mundane endeavors of the soul's faculties can become manifest in the faculties of the body and the mental quantum of the individual. For a fettered person has the nature of fondling a dear one in this world; but the intrinsic nature of fondness of the Svarupa-Sakti, or the Intrinsic Potency of Sri Krsna can, manifest itself in the mundane fondness of the individual and be identified with it. This has been further developed in the second sloka of the THIRD WAVE in the EAST DIVISION of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh.

       ANUKULYENA: Mere active culture or endeavors in relation to Krsna and all that is related to Krsna by itself cannot be said to be Bhakti, because these endeavors can be both agreeable as well as unpalatable and even positively inimical or hostile. If the anusilanam be hostile or antagonistic, it cannot be Bhakti. Hence, Sri Rupa Gosvami here qualifies anusilanam by anukulyena, i.e. endeavors in relation to Krsna must be agreeable to the taste of Krsna. Such endeavors alone can define the intrinsic character of Bhakti. Anukulya here means congenial to the taste of Krsna, that is to say, if the endeavors or anusilanam about Krsna be agreeable to Krsna's innate propensities of tastes, it will be said to be anukula anusilanam. Such endeavors must necessarily be delight-giving to Krsna. Sri Rupa Gosvami has used the word anukulyena as an adjective (visesanam) of anusilanam in the instrumental case, and not in upalaksana. There are two different forms of the use of the instrumental case in Sanskrta grammar, viz. as an adjective (Visesana) and as conveying an implied sense (upalaksana). When an adjective is used the instrumental case, it remains inseparable from the qualifying noun. Hence when anukulyena has been used here as an adjective in the instrumental case, it follows that anusilanam in Bhakti cannot be separated from anukulata or agreeableness. For example, when the king asks someone to call the sentry, it means that the sentry is asked to come properly dressed with his weapons. So also anukulata or agreeableness must accompany Krsna-anusilanam. But the meaning must not be carried too far in the sense that when the king orders the sentries to be fed, he means that weapons should also be fed, but that the sentries will keep aside the weapons and then eat. In the same manner, anukulata or agreeableness or delight of Krsna cannot be excluded frown the anusilanam or endeavors in relation to Krsna. The contention is that both anusilanam and anukulata (endeavors about Krsna and delight of Krsna) are inseparable, just as when the king goes, it means that the king goes accompanied by his retinues. A question may be raised: If agreeableness anukulata characterizes Bhakti, what is the need of anusilanam or active culture? The reason is that as all verbs in their meaning signify action (followed by Kr root), it is for the purpose of giving an explicit meaning to the expression anukulyena that anusilanam has been used, and this is not redundant. Again, a further question may be raised: Why anu has been prefixed to silanam, and why not silanam only? The reason is that once agreeableness is aroused (anukulata) in the heart of Krsna, then there can be no cessation of the same. Hence the prefix ' ' is appropriately used, as it signifies continuity of the endeavors in relation to Krsna.

       Now, if the definition of Bhakti be such that it should connote only the agreeable or delight-giving endeavors in relation to the taste of Krsna and all that is related to Krsna, i.e. if anukulata or agreeableness to the taste of Krsna or delight of the Subject be the criterion of Bhakti, independent of the favorable or antagonistic attitude of the devotee, then the definition will be either too wide or too narrow. Mere delight on the part of Krsna, the Subject, alone cannot be a precise definition of Bhakti unless it simultaneously excludes hostile endeavors on the part of the devotee (Object) inspired by hostility or antagonism. If the delight of Krsna be the only

criterion of Bhakti, i.e. anukula anusilanam only, the definition will be too wide. Again, if non-hostility on the part of the devotee be the only criterion of Bhakti independent of the delight or otherwise of Krsna, the definition will be too narrow. Commentator Sri Visvanatha gives two examples. When the demons like Kamsa, Jarasandha, Sisupala, Dantavakra and eighteen other demons challenged Sri Krsna into mortal combats with terrible feelings of enmity against Him, the Lord immensely enjoyed the fight and had a taste of Vira-Rasa i.e. heroism.20  Here was Anukula anusilanam or endeavors by the demons, which immensely delighted the Lord; but the demons that fought Krsna were actuated by feelings of hostility towards the Lord, which cannot be Bhakti. In this case, the definition of Bhakti as mere delight-giving endeavors becomes too wide (ativyapti). On the other hand, when Sri Yasoda (the Personification of Vatsalya-Rati or parental relation with the Godhead) put Sri Krsna down on the ground from her affectionate lap and went running to the nearby oven to take down the overflowing hot milk, lest it be burnt and become useless for Krsna, for whose drink it was being boiled, the action of Sri Yasoda did not delight Krsna and He began to weep and expressed seeming anger.21 Though the endeavor of Sri Yasoda was full of affection for the Divine Child, the definition of anukula-anusilanam becomes too narrow (avyapti). Therefore, anukulata or agree- ableness on the part of the Subject (the Lord) implies also non-hostility on the part of the Object (devotee).

       Now there appears to be some difference of opinion amongst the commentators regarding the exact significance of the word “Anukulyena.” Sri Jiva Gosvami interprets Anukulata in a comprehensive sense to include both its negative and positive aspects, viz. the absence of an attitude of hostility towards Krsna and the presence of delight in Krsna. Or in other words, those behaviors alone can be regarded as anukula (i.e. favorable) which are both marked by a non hostile attitude towards Krsna and also conducive to the actual delight of Krsna. The contention of the commentator is that in case of Bhakti there must be reciprocity of feelings between Lord Krsna and the devotee. The activities must be undertaken from an attitude of friendliness, i.e. non-hostility and at the same time these must arouse reciprocal feelings in the Lord Krsna.

       Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti, however, points out that if Anukula Anusilanam means such culture as is conducive only to the pleasure of Sri Krsna, then the definition is both too wide and too narrow. It is too wide, since it will lead to the recognition of the war like hostile activities of Kamsa, Sisupala, Dantavakra and others delight in Krsna, as a genuine case of Bhakti. And it will be too narrow, since it will exclude the efforts of Yasoda to take down the pot of milk from the fire by leaving Krsna alone, even at the cost of the latter's discomfort, from the category of genuine Bhakti. Hence according to Sri Visvanatha, the meaning of Anukula Anusilanam should be taken in the sense of absence of hostility on the part of the devotee. In such a case, the war like activities of Kamsa and others cannot be regarded as Bhakti though they caused pleasure to Krsna, since they are done from a hostile attitude. And the activities of Yasoda will be regarded as a case of Bhakti even though they did not give rise to the pleasure of Krsna, since they were marked by not only an absence of hostility towards Krsna but by an intense feeling of parental affection for Krsna.

       Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti seems to have gone too far in neglecting the positive side altogether. His contention that the behavior of a devotee must be marked by an attitude of non-hostility towards the Lord, and it is immaterial whether or not such behavior conduces to the pleasure of the Lord at the same time, is wide of the mark. For Bhakti, if anything is for the pleasure and delight of Sri Krsna, and it must always exclude such behaviors which cause definite displeasure to the Lord. As far as we can see, the whole difficulty has arisen out of the example of Yasoda, which he could not otherwise explain except from the point of view of Bhakti as marked by an attitude of non-hostility only. The difficulty may be cleared up, if we only consider the fact that in Vatsalya Rasa there is complete scope for apparent displeasure as is shown by such behavior of Krsna as weeping and remonstrating with His Mother Yasoda. In fact such weeping or crying on the part of Krsna as the Beloved Child did not mean that Krsna was unhappy at heart; on the contrary He was extremely delighted though His overt behavior was something very different. Besides, it may be pointed out that the illustration of Yasoda, given by Sri Cakravarti, was not quite appropriate in this case. For when we are discussing about Bhakti we must choose our illustration from the behavior of a Sadhaka and not from that of a Nitya-Lila-Parikara, i.e. an Eternal Associate of the Divine Sports of the Lord, as Sri Yasoda is. It will be the height of folly to imagine that in course of the Divine Sport either the Lord or His Associates did not fully enjoy the Sport, or any of them actually hurt, as it has been imagined here in the case of the Lord Himself. If, however, any instance be taken from a Sadhakas it will be easily realized that both the attitude of non-hostility on the part of the Sadhaka as also the delight of Krsna are both involved in any case of genuine Bhakti.

       Hence a correct definition of Bhakti, as given by Sri Rupa Gosvami in this sloka, means that the endeavors or active culture regarding Krsna and all that is related to Krsna is not only agreeable (anukula) to Krsna, but is also completely free from hostility or the feeling of antagonism (pratikulata) on the part of the devotee. Therefore, anukula anusilanam should not be one-sided; i.e. delight to Krsna only, but it should also mean non-hostility on the part of those who are to cultivate the giving of delight to Krsna. So, anukulata or agreeableness excludes pratikulata or feelings of antagonism and hostility. Mere absence of pratikulata or malicious hostility alone also cannot be Bhakti unless it causes delight to Krsna. Thus the correct definition stands like this: Any active endeavor in relation to Krsna that gives delight to Him and which is free from any malicious hostility, is Bhakti. This is the svarupalaksana or intrinsic and directly positive nature of Bhakti.

       Now, in order to define Uttama-Bhakti as distinct from alloyed Bhakti, Sri Rupa Gosvami explains the tatasthalaksana or indirect and extrinsic character of Bhakti. Uttama-Bhakti or unalloyed Bhakti of the highest quality has TWO EXTRINSIC ASPECTS, which distinguish it from ordinary Bhakti, viz. (1) Anyabhilasita-Sunyam, and (2) Jnana-Karmadyanavrtam.

       ANYABHILASITA-SUNYAM: This means complete freedom from any desire whatsoever other than the desire for Bhakti itself. How this can be cultured? Acting for the pleasures of Krsna without the least tinge of any desire for any self-benefit in any form, i.e. practicing Bhakti for no other purpose than the purpose of Bhakti itself, is called Bhakti that is ‘absolutely void of any desire'. It means that Bhakti is both Means and End, i.e. Bhakti alone is the Means to the End of Bhakti, and nothing else. Compare here Bhagavatam.22.   Prabuddha tells King Nimi: "Oh King! Genuine and pure devotees constantly remembering and mutually making others remember the All-sin-destroying Lord Hari gain Prema-Bhakti by practicing Sadhana-Bhakti and their bodies become overwhelmed with horripilation." Thus Uttama-Bhakti does not aspire after anything but the pleasures of the Lord. It is absolutely void of any desire excepting the desire for Bhakti alone.

       The word used here is anyabhilasita and not anyabhilasa. Anyabhilasa means ‘desires for

objects,' while anyabhilasita means ‘the habit of acting under extraneous desires'-desires that have become semi-nature with the person concerned, i.e. one cannot do without such desires. So, Uttama-Bhakti means not only ‘absence of extraneous desires', but also complete absence of the very nature that acts from such extraneous desires. A pure devotee's normal nature is not to desire anything. But if accidentally a devotee is heard to say at a critical moment like death: "Oh Lord! Save this Thy humble devotee from the clutches of imminent death!" there is no harm in such a prayer because is not normal with him, but only a temporary upset due to circumstances beyond his control. So this cannot be an argument against Bhakti, as there is no innate desire in the very nature of the devotee.

       Now in order to explain the Uttama-Bhakti or Bhakti of superior excellence, Sri Rupa Gosvami further states that when pure Bhakti, as already defined, is unobscured by jnana, karma, etc., it becomes Uttama-Bhakti. Sri Rupa does not exclude jnana and karma as such from Bhakti, but holds that jnana, karma, yoga, etc. must not conceal the true nature of Bhakti. When jnana is decried, it refers either to empirical knowledge or knowledge of the Impersonal Brahman only, and not knowledge of Sri Krsna. In Uttama-Bhakti, knowledge or Jnana of Sri Krsna is of course necessary-only empirical knowledge and knowledge of impersonalists like Sankarites are discarded here. What Sri Rupa Gosvami means by “Anavrta”, i.e. being not hid or obscured, is that Brahma-jnana should not hide the true nature of Bhakti. Karma here refers to both ritual that are unconditionally obligatory and those conditionally binding according to the injunctions of the Smrti-Sastras. Such karma must note hide the true nature of pure Bhakti. Services in the temple, worship of the Deities of the Lord, etc. should not be discarded as being of the nature of karma. What unalloyed Bhakti does not permit is fruit giving Vedic or Smarta ritualistic karma. Such fruit bearing karma as well as dry jnana or knowledge do conceal the unalloyed nature of Uttama Bhakti. They are, however, not completely void of Bhakti as in the case of ‘desires for other things'.

       By the use of the word adi, Sri Rupa contends that not only Smarta- Karma and Impersonal-Jnana should not be permitted to hide the nature of pure Bhakti, but also Vedic sacrifices (Yyajna), non-attachment (Vairagya), Astanga-Yoga (i.e. restraint of passions, regulations and self-control, practice of different postures, control of breath, restraint of the senses from being directed to sense objects, concentration of mind, meditation, practice of mystical trance), etc. also should not be allowed to conceal the true nature of pure Bhakti. Then the question is: How and where does Karmaconceal Bhakti? The answer is that when a person thinks that if he does not perform the various rituals according to the injunctions of the Karma-Mimamsa, Dharma-Sastras and Smrti-Sastras, he or she will be doing harm to himself or herself. Hence if out of fear of such injunctions or excessive regard therefore one follows the path of karma, it will blur the true nature of Bhakti; or if one performs duly and with proper regard all such rituals as are described in Smrti, as a means to Bhakti, i.e. if the idea be that Bhakti cannot be attained without them, then also such karma will be an obstacle to Bhakti. It will be merely like a patch of cloud overshadowing Bhakti because Bhakti is not dependent on anything. But on the other hand, if a genuine devotee shall perform the obsequial rites in honor of his deceased father as laid down in Vedic or smarta ritualism, with no regard for them excepting the desire not to disturb the local social sentiments, such an action will not envelop or hide the true nature of Bhakti.

       A further question may be raised: When Sri Rupa Gosvami defines Bhakti as active endeavor for the delight of Krsna, why does he not say “Krsna-Bhakti” instead of “Bhakti” only? The reply is that Bhakti has always been used in regard to the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna in all the scriptures; hence by the use of the word “Bhakti,” Sri Rupa means Krsna-Bhakti only. –11-


Having defined Uttama-Bhakti, Sri Rupa Gosvami now cites supporting authorities:


20 Bhagavatam, Canto I, Chap. 13, sloka 26.

21 Ibid., Canto X, Chap. 9, sloka 6.

22 Bhagavatam, Canto XI, Chap. 3, s1oka 31.



Text 12:


yatha shri narada-pancaratre

savopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratevena nirmalam |

hrsIkena hrsikesha-sevanam bhaktir-ucyate ||12||


       Translation: So it is said in Sri Narada-Pancaratra:


       Completely freed from the defect of all Upadhis or adjuncts (i.e. free from all desires), to be

devoted to God (i.e. serving, God with agreeable endeavors for the delight of God), and being pure (free from the clouds of jnana-karma-yoga, etc.) to serve the Lord of all the senses with all one's senses is called Bhakti. -12-


       Commentary: In order to justify the correctness of his definition of Uttama-Bhakti, Sri Rupa Gosvami now cites references from authentic scriptures. In defining Bhakti, the Narada-Pancaratra says that the Supreme Lord, who is the subject of Bhakti, is the Lord of all senses. The word “Hrsika “ means senses and “Isa” means the Lord. The word Hrsikesa really means “Lord Sri Krsna.” To serve the Supreme Lord and all His senses by the complete application of the reciprocal cit or spiritual organs of the pure soul is called Bhakti. But this Bhakti must be free from all possible extraneous desires, must be subservient to the delight of the Lord, and must not be clouded by jnana, karma, yoga, etc. –12-


Further references:


Text 13:


Shri bhagavatasya trtiyaskhandhe ca

laksanam bhakti-yogasya nirgunasya hy udahrtam |

ahaituky avyavahita ya bhaktih purusottame 23 ||13||



       Translation: So also it is said in the third Canto of the Bhagavatam:


       When Lord Kapiladeva (not the founder of the Sankya system of  philosophy, but the Divine Descent or Avatara of Visnu, the son of Devahuti and Kardama Rsi) explained the 24 creative principles of the Sankhya philosophy of Kapila the philosopher. Sri Devahuti prayed to the Lord Kapiladeva to tell her about the conception of Unalloyed Bhakti by which alone those 24 principles could be truly understood. In reply to the query of His mother Devahuti about the true nature of Bhakti, Lord Kapiladeva says:

       It has been said that the definition of unalloyed (i.e. untouched by the three gunas of Maya) Bhakti-Yoga in the Supreme Lord is that it is uncaused and incapable of being frustrated by anything. -13-


23 Bhagavatam, Canto III, Chap. 29, sloka  12.33




Text 14:


salokya-sarsti-samipya-sarupyaikatvam apy uta |

diyamanam na grhnanti vina mat-sevanam jnanah ||14||


       Translation: Lord Kapiladeva further tells Mother Devahuti: My genuine devotees besides serving Me alone for My delight do not accept Salokya-Mukti, i.e. liberation in the sense of living together with Me in My own Realm, Sarsti-Mukti, i.e. liberation as possessing of majesties and powers equal to Mine, Samipya-Mukti, i.e. mukti as close proximity to Me, Sarupya-Mukti, i.e. liberation as possession of beauty equal to My Beauty, nor Ekatva or Sayujya-Mukti, i.e. liberation as identity with Me, even if I offer all these to them; what to speak of their asking for them? The contention is that a pure devotee never asks for any such salvation or anything else whatsoever . He finds his delight in serving Me alone for My delight.24


       Commentary: In quoting this sloka from the Bhagavatam which describe the character of a pure devotee, Sri Rupa Gosvami wants to establish the spontaneity and irresistibility of Uttama-Bhakti, which are the signs of an unalloyed devotee as well. So, though this reference from the Bhagavatam does not directly support the correctness of the definition of highest Bhakti, Sri Rupa shows that the character of a pure devotee is also the characteristic of pure Bhakti. The reference is not, therefore, out of place here.

       The sloka on the fivefold Mukti, i.e. (1) Salokya, (2) Sarsti, (3) Samipya, (4) Sarupya, and (5) Ekatva or Sayujya, has purposely been quoted to establish the super-excellence of Uttama-Bhakti over mukti or salvation, though in defining Bhakti, Mukti has nothing directly to do with it. The total rejection of all the forms of Mukti by an unalloyed devotee is an inherent

characteristic of Uttama-Bhakti itself. -14-


24 Bhagavatam, Canto III, Chap. 29, sloka 13.34 –14.



Still further reference from the Bhagavatam-


Text 15:


sa eva bhakti-yagakhya atyantika udahrtah |

yenativrajnya trigunam mad-bhavayopapadyate ||15||


       Translation: This is said to be the supreme conception of Bhakti by which one can cut asunder the bondage of the  three-fold Gunas of Maya and be eligible to attain My Prema (says the Lord to His mother Devahuti).25


25 Bhagavatam, Canto III, Chap. 29, sloka 13


       Commentary: By citing this sloka in continuation of the previous one, Sri Rupa Gosvami wants to say that Uttama-Bhakti far transcends the aspirations for the various forms of Mukti and even Moksa. What for then a devotee takes recourse to Bhakti? Bhakti is itself the supreme End of Bhakti. The word atyantika means the end. Does it then mean that Ekatva or Sayujya-Mukti, i.e. identification or merging of the finite self with the Infinite Godhead, which is the “end” in the

previous sloka, is the “End”  of Bhakti? No. It means that Bhakti is much more than Sayujya. So, in certain places in the Scriptures, the word Apavarga or Brahma-nirvana-sukha has been used in the sense of “Bhakti” only. For example, in the Fifth Canto of the Bhagavatam in Chapter 19,slokas 19-20, it is stated by Sri Sukadeva Gosvami to King Pariksita: "Oh King! According to one's Sattva-RajasTamas Karma an individual is born in this Bharatavarsa (India) and attains heavenly, earthly and hellish ends respectively. And when an individual performs his or her duties according to one's Varna and Asrama as enunciated by the Scriptures, he or she attains Apavarga, i.e. moksa (final emancipation of the soul, or salvation, or final beatitude). But, Oh King! This Apavarga is the uncaused, spontaneous Bhakti in the Paramatma- Vasudeva, who is Immanent in everything and Indweller of all finite selves, who is beyond expressions or any language or mundane words, who is Nondependent on any object, and who is supremely Beautiful and Full of All-auspiciousness." Hence, the word Apavarga here in the Bhagavatam has been used in the sense of Bhakti as the supreme End or Value, which  is attainable in the company of unalloyed or genuine devotees of God.

       Again in the Bhagavatam, Canto seven, Chapter seven, and sloka 37, Prince Prahlada uses the word Brahma-nirvana-sukha in the sense of pure Bhakti while advising the children of the demons after King Hiranyakasipu was killed by Lord Nrsimhadeva. Prince Prahlada says: "Boys! When the engrossed jivas engage their mind with one-pointedness in the Transcendent God and are freed from the wheels of the world, this very mental contact with the Adhoksaja (Transcendent) gives them immense pleasure, which the wise call Brahma-nirvana-sukha. So, friends! engage yourselves in the service of the Lord within your heart." In other Puranas also this one-pointed Bhakti in Hari has been said to be Moksa. Though Moksa is generally used in the sense of the highest amongst the four values, or Caturvargas, viz. Charma, Artha, Kama and Moksa,  yet this Moksa is insignificant as compared to Bhakti. Hence, Bhakti takes one beyond Moksa and offers Prema, which is the Highest End of Bhakti. – 15-



Text 16:


salokyetyadi-padyastha bhaktotkarsani-rupanam |

bhakter-vishuddhata-vyaktya-laksane paryavasyati ||16||


       Translation: The superiority of a genuine devotee, as shown in the previous slokas, establishes the purity of Bhakti and it is involved in the very definition of Bhakti. –16-


       Commentary: The question is raised: Why does the author bring in the delineation of a true devotee while expounding the nature of Bhakti? The commentator Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti points out that describing a true devotee as not prompted even by the desire of liberation in any of the five forms is only explicating the definition of pure Bhakti as an attitude not actuated by extraneous desires, i.e. motives for any object other than Bhakti. In other words, Bhakti is a self-justifying, self-shining experience. It shines by its own light, and does not derive its spiritual value from consideration other than devotion itself. – 16-



The Six Qualities of Uttama-Bhakti:


Text 17:


klesaghni subhada moksalaghutakrt sudurlabha |

sandrananda-visesatma sri-krsnakarsini ca sa ||17||


       Translation: Bhakti is the destroyer of all afflictions and ills of life, is beneficent, is the devaluer of Moksa or liberation as a desirable end, is extremely difficult of attainment, is the essence of the cream of delight of a special kind, and is the attractor of Krsna who is Himself the Attractor of all that is. –17-


       Commentary: Sri Visvanatha points out that here Sri Rupa Gosvami states briefly the distinguishing qualities of Uttama-Bhakti. Of these six distinguishing characteristics, the first two, viz. (1) destroyer of afflictions and ills, and (2) beneficence, belong to Bhakti as Sadhana-Bhakti; while the second two qualities, viz. (3) the devaluer of Moksa or liberation as a desirable end, and (4) extreme difficulty of attainment, are the distinguishing characteristics of Bhava-Bhakti; and the last two qualities, viz. (5) the essence of the cream of delight of a special kind, and (6) the attractor of Sri Krsna, who is the Attractor of all that is, are the distinguishing qualities of Prema-Bhakti. It is pointed out that this division is not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, just as there is a hierarchical order amongst the five elements

(Pancabhutas) in which each higher element includes the qualities of the lower elements besides its own distinctive quality, so also the Bhava-Bhakti comprises both its own distinctive qualities and also the two qualities that distinguish Sadhana-Bhakti, and Prema-Bhakti, besides comprising in own two distinctive qualities, includes in itself also all the four qualities of Bhava-Bhakti. –17-




Text 18:


tatrasyah klesaghnatvam  --

klesastu papam tad vijam avidya ceti te tridha ||18||


       Translation: Klesa or affliction and ills are of three different kinds, viz. (1) acts of sin, (2) seeds of sin, and (3) nescience (which is the root cause). –18-



Text 19:


tatra papam  --

aprarabdham bhavet papam prarabdham ceti tad dvidha ||19||


       Translation: Sin is of two kinds: sin which is not yet active in yielding its fruits (aprarabdha) and sin that has started to bear its fruits (prarabdha). -19-



Text 20:


tatra aprarabdha-haratvam yatha ekadase

yathagnih susamrddharcih karotyedhansi bhasmasat |

tatha mad-visaya-bhaktir uddhavainansi krtsnasah ||20||


       Translation: Just as fire properly lighted consumes the wood used as fuel and reduces it into ashes, so even rudiments of Bhakti in the form of occasional chanting or hearing of My Name destroys all sins (all accumulated sins that have not yet started bearing fruits), Oh Uddhava! This is what Lord Krsna tells Sri Uddhava in the 11th Canto of the Bhagavatam.26


26 Bhagavatam, Canto XI, Chap. 14, sloka 19. 



Text 21:


prarabdha-haratvam yatha trtiye

yan-namadheya sravan-anukirtanad yat-prahvanad yat-smaranad api kvacit |

svado'pi sadyah savanaya kalpate kutah punaste bhagavannu darsannat ||21||


       Translation: In her prayer to Lord Kapiladeva, Devahuti says: "When even a Candala (eater of dog's flesh, born in such a lowly stratum of society owing to sins committed in previous births) becomes eligible for performing the Soma-Yagna (a Vedic sacrifice which brahmana only is entitled to perform) only by rare and occasional listening to and then singing the Name of God under the guidance of genuine saints, by prostrated obeisances to the Lord and by meditating upon Him, what then to speak of one who has an immediate vision of God?"27


 27 Bhagavatam, Canto III, Chap. 33, sloka 6.


       Commentary: Both orthodox systems and heterodox Buddhism and Jainism believe in the law of karma as an independent autonomous principle which ensures that every good deed or its opposite works out its full effect to the sweet or the bitter end without the intervention of the gods. Such deeds, good or bad, bear their deferred fruits in subsequent either with a high respectable social status or in the lowest rung of the society as an untouchable Candala that lives on dog's flesh. It is the contention of the author that even when one is born so low as a Candala, an occasional practice of the rudiments of Bhakti will undo the effects of his past misdeeds and raise him to the status of a Brahmana eligible  for performing the ceremony of Soma and other Vedic sacrifices. Here is a difference between the two commentators Sri Jiva Gosvami and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti. According to Sri Jiva Gosvami, though this rudimentary Bhakti in a born Candala will remove the effects of his past misdeeds, yet he must wait for the next birth in a higher social status to qualify himself for the performance of the Vedic sacrifices. Jiva Gosvami, it is obvious, is reluctant to disturb the social order and tries to conform, as far as possible, to the extant practices and ideas of the Hindu society of his time. Visvanatha Cakravarti, however, considers Jiva Gosvami's view to give away the whole case for the quality of the Prarabdha-Papaharatva that claimed for Bhakti. Sri Visvanatha's view is that Bhakti, however slight, will at once remove all taints from the fallen human being and qualify him for the highest social duties of the Hindus.

       This is rather a controversial problem. The question is between eligibility and capability. A Brahmana born in a higher social order because of good deeds in previous births is eligible to perform Vedic rituals; while even a Candala born in the lowest social order owing to his misdeeds in previous births, becomes fully capable of performing such Vedic Soma-yagna when his prarabdha is wiped out by singing and listening to the Name of the Lord: in the stage of practices of Bhakti. But, as even a person born in a brahmana family has to wait till his sacred-thread-ceremony before he can actually perform such Vedic rituals in spite of his eligibility as born in a brahmana family owing to his good deeds in previous births, so also a devotee, born in a Candala family, is cleansed of his sins committed in previous births by practicing the rudiments of Bhakti and becomes eligible to perform such Vedic rites, but he does not do this as he is not interested in the fruits of Vedic karma. On the other hand, if the meaning be construed as ‘becomes worthy of such respect', then the very purpose of prarabdha-haratvam is lost in the case of a Candala. The truth is that a Candala remains no more a Candala when he embraces the path of Bhakti. He becomes eligible to worship the Lord in the temple in Arcana, what to speak of  Vedic karma? –21-




       Translator's Note: It may appear to a western reader that the conception of Aprarabdha as accumulated traces of an unending series of previous lives is a myth without any scientific foundation. But even science now recognizes not only a recapitulation of the history of the race in the growth of every individual life, that is,

recapitulation of phylogeny in ontogeny. Also modern psychology of the unconscious, especially psychology of the unconscious as expounded by Jung, recognizes not merely an individual unconscious but also a racial unconscious in every individual personality. This racial unconscious along with the individual unconscious is only the Aprarabdha of the ancient Hindus, expressed in modern terms.

       I quote here from the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol.4, page 681: "The recapitulation theory, once accepted as almost a truism, has recently met with much criticism. It has been applied to mental development most frankly and fully by Stanley Hall and his school. According to these writers, there are three ways in which the individual reveals the story of his race. (1) There is the actually observed correspondence between the stages and order of development and those of race-evolution (‘recapitulation’). (2) There is the occasional appearance, even in adult normal life, of mental forms which are echoes of primitive mental stages; these occur more especially in states of mental weakness, fatigue, exhaustion, illness, the drug-psychoses, sleep, hypnosis (‘reverberations’, ‘reminiscences). Our souls, like our bodies, represent the organised experiences of past ancestors: fears, affections, thoughts, which appear even in quite healthy stages, may be ‘rudimentary specters' (Stanley Hall) due to survivals from distant ages of man. (3) A given individual may show arrest of mental (as well as of physical) development, stopping short at a stage which the race in general has long since passed; in such a case we have a 'reversion', or an 'atavism', in which the characteristics of remote ancestors dominate, in the child's development, those derived from his parent or near ancestors. The mind, like the body, thus consists of segmentary divisions or strata derived from different periods of evolution: the older strata are naturally those which are most fixed and uniform throughout a race (e.g. the primitive instincts); the more recent strata are more variable in the different individuals (e.g. the forms of intellectual development); again, the older strata represent the foundation from which the more recent have been derived, and on which, therefore, the latter must be built up by the individual; hence not only does the individual, as a matter of fact, tend to develop along racial lines, but also parents and teachers ought to encourage and strengthen this tendency, in order to secure adequate and proportional development of all the different powers (culture-epoch theory) .

       The recapitulation theory has been defended (1) in the stages at which the different senses mature; (2) in the stages at which accurate discrimination of the different qualities within the same sensory group appears; (3) in the  appearances of the different instinctive activities; (4) in the play activities of children; (5) in the successive objects of imitation which children select for themselves; (6) in the stages of intelligent behaviour, and in the development of abstract thought; (7) in the development of emotion; (8) in language."

       Our object in quoting the above is not necessarily in justification of the knowledge of the ancient rsis of ancient India; their knowledge was self-revealed and did not depend on any other support or justification.



Text 22:


durjatir eva savanayojnatve karanam matam |

durjaty arambhakam papam yat syat prarabdham eva tat ||22||


       Translation: A low despicable birth is the cause of ineligibility for the performance of the Vedic rites. Such birth is the present fruit of the past sins of the individual concerned. – 22-



Text 23:


padma purane ca –

aprarabdha phalam papam kutam vijam phalonmukham |

kramenaiva praliyeta visnu-bhaktir atatmanam ||23||




       Translation: The following text from the Padma Puranam is quoted here as evidence in support:


       Sin is either Aprarabdha, i.e. sin which is not yet bearing fruit, or totality of such sins (Kutam), or the seed (Vijam), that is, seeds as dispositions and residual traces, or as tendencies and trends towards bearing their relevant fruits (Phalonmukham) and in those who are given to Visnu-Bhakti or devotion to and services of Visnu such sins dissolve successively in the order in which they are narrated. –23-


       Commentary: Commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami points out that in the above verse quoted from the Padma Puranam, the Visesya or substantive is papa or sin, and this substantive is described by the successive predicates, viz. (a) Prarabdham, i.e. tending towards bearing fruits; (b) Kutam is Vijonmukham or tending towards the stage of Vija or seed; (c) Vija or in the state of seed, which means existence as Vasana or psycho-physical disposition or with tendencies towards the stage of  Prarabdha. Besides these, there is (d) the aprarabdha or accumulated sins of the unending series of previous births, which lie inactive and do not even show a tendency as Kuta or Vijonmukha. All these are destroyed by Bhakti successively, commencing from Aprarabdha of the unending series of the previous births.

       Commentator Sri Mukundadasa is, however, of the opinion that the sins are destroyed in the reverse order, i.e. starting from the last or the Phalonmukham, and not in the order given in the text as contended by Sri Jiva Gosvami. –23-




Text 24:


vija-haratvam yatha sasthe

tais tany aghani puyante tapo-dana-vratadibhih |

nadharmajam tad hrdayam tad apisanghri-sevaya ||24||


       Translation: Through austerities, penances, charities and observances of rituals these sins may be removed, but not those that spring from Adharma, i.e. Avidya or nescience that conceals the true nature of the soul; such sins can be destroyed only by the service of and subservience to the Lord (which by destroying the root, i.e. Avidya, destroys all that springs from that root). So say the Visnu-dutas or the messengers of Visnu to the Yama-dutas or messengers of  Death 28


28 Bhagavatam, Canto VI, Chap.2, sloka 17.




Text 25:


yat-pada-pankaja-palasa-vilasa-bhaktya karmasayam grathitam udgrathayanti santah |

tad van na rikta-matayo yatayo 'pi ruddha sroto-ganas tam aranam bhaja vasudevam ||25||


       Translation: While an absolutist tries in vain to stop the flow of the indriyas or senses towards objects of pleasures by mere negative effort of restraining them, a Vaisnava devotee (a true saint) cuts asunder the knots of his accumulated karma by an ever-growing self-augmenting devotion to the Lotus Feet of the Lord. Therefore, surrender thyself to Lord Vasudeva as the only proper course, says Sanatkumara to King Prthu.29


29 Bhagavatam, Canto IV, Chap. 22, sloka 39.


       Commentary: Commentators Jiva Gosvami as well as Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti point out that the absolutist proves himself to be a fool in trying to conquer the lusts of the flesh by a negative method of asceticism and self-restraint. The Bhakta or the devotee proves his superior intelligence by turning himself positively to the service of, and single-minded devotion to the Lord. This is far more effective in conquering the blandishments of senses than the mere negative way of a purely  ascetic life. The senses turn towards their respective objects as a river flows down the course. It is sheer folly to hope  to stop the current of the flowing river by negative resistance. The Santa or devotee takes to a more effective course of a  plunge into the nectar that flows out of the sweetness of the Lord's Person, and thereby allowing himself to be swept away in the current of the flowing nectar far away from the temptations of sensuous life that have their roots in Avidya or  nescience. One should, therefore, take refuge in the Lord Vasudeva. –25-




Text 26:


padme ca –

krtanuyatra-vidyabhir-hari-bhaktir-anuttama |

avidyam nidarhatyasu davajvaleva pannagim ||26||


       Translation: As a forest fire burns up all snakes in the forest, so also Uttama-Bhakti or unalloyed Bhakti, which is followed step by step by the knowledge of the true self, completely destroys all Avidya, i.e. ignorance of transcendence, or misidentification of the pure self with the gross body and the subtle mind. The contention is that Vidya or knowledge of the self as well as of the Lord normally and in proportionate degree follows Bhakti. -26-




Text 27:


subhadatvam -

subhani prinanam sarva jagatam-anuraktata |

sadgunah sukham ity-adiny akhyatani manisibhih ||27||


       Translation: The whole world is blessed by the devotee; the devotee is endeared by the whole world; possessing all good qualities like real happiness and others, the wise call these to be the all-auspiciousness of Bhakti. -27-


       Commentary: Sri Jiva Gosvami says that Sri Rupa expounds the view that Bhakti has four aspects of auspiciousness. First, the devotee (i.e. one who has attained Sadhana-Bhakti and is in the stage of spiritual practices) is a blessing to the world; secondly, the whole world is attracted by him; thirdly, such a devotee will be found to embody all good qualities; and fourthly, he will be happy and contented. Now, when it is said here that such a devotee possesses all good qualities, then the  first two qualities, viz.  that he makes the world happy and that he himself is endearing to all, are already included in the all  which qualifies the qualities. Why then have they been mentioned separately? The reason is that the first two qualities are particularly developed in a devotee at this stage even though all other good qualities are also in him in some degree or form. So it is said in the Bhagavatam that Queen Suruci, the stepmother of Prince Dhruva, who was extremely bitter with her stepson Dhruva the crown prince and banished him from the state, lovingly embraced the child and took him to her lap when Dhruva returned home after realizing the Lord by intense spiritual practices for six months only. This was possible, says Maitreya to Vidura because: "Oh Vidura! As the river always flows downwards, so also all people, even all animals, of this world bow down at the feet of a devotee with whom the Lord Himself is pleased because of his devotion and friendship."30

       By using the word “adi”, that is, et cetera, Sri Rupa Gosvami means to include not only the all-fascinating and all-auspicious character of a true devotee, but also of Bhakti as well. –27-


30 Bhagavatam, Canto IV, Chap. 9, sloka 47



Text 28:


tatra jagat-prinanadidvaya-pradatvam yatha padme

yenarcito haristena tarpitani jaganty api |

rajyanti janta-vastatra jangamah sthavara api ||28||


       Translation: One who has worshipped Lord Hari, has also pleased the whole world. Even all animate and inanimate entities also become attached to him. –28-


Text 29:


sadgunadipradatvam yatha pancame

yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah |

harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna manorathenasati dhavato bahih ||29||


       Translation: One who has uncaused, spontaneous Bhakti in the Supreme Godhead, all the gods with all their good qualities live or exist in him. What good quality can a non-devotee of the Lord possess, who runs fast in his mental chariot after worldly objects? -29-


29  Bhagavatam, Canto V, Chap. I8, sloka 12.41


       Commentary: Commentator Sri Mukundadasa Gosvami explains sadguna, i.e. ‘good qualities' as follows: Bhakti offers all forms of good qualities including Jnana (knowledge), Vairagya (detachment), Yama or restraint of the passions, Niyama or observance of rules or vows and self-control, etc. The word adi means that even the gods and rsis bow down before a devotee and become obedient to him. –29-




Text 30:



sukham vaisayikam brahmam aisvaram ceti tat-tridha ||30||


       Translation: Sukha, i.e. happiness is of three kinds, viz. (1) material happiness; (2) happiness due to the knowledge and realization of Brahman as Impersonal Divinity; and (3) happiness owing to the direct vision and realization of Isvara or Personal Divinity. –30-




Text 31:


yatha tantre

siddhayah paramascarya bhukti-muktis ca sasvati |

nityam ca paramanando bhaved govinda-bhaktitah ||31||


       Translation: So it is said in the Tantra


       Exceptionally wonderful supernatural powers, long-enduring worldly and heavenly pleasures, long and lasting experiences of  Mukti as Brahmasukha (felicity derived from knowledge and realization of impersonal Brahman), and eternal and ever-progressive and supreme flow of transcendental felicity (from realization of the Supreme Lord) are attainable by Bhakti in Lord Govinda (Krsna), who is the Lord of all the senses. –31-


       Commentary: Commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami explains the above stated authority in the following way: Siddhayah: the eighteen particular extraordinary powers and attributes attainable through Yoga, viz. (1) Anima or contracting the body so as to make it very small; (2) Mahima or expanding the body so as to become very big; (3) Laghima or superhuman power to make the body light and invisible; (4) Prapti or aquisition of all sense-enjoyments; (5) Prakamya or ability to see all enjoyments in heaven, on earth and in the subterranean regions; (6) Isita or to infuse one's own power into another; (7) Vasita or non-attachment while engaged in enjoyments; (8) Kamavasayita or to attain to the highest pitch of enjoyments that the yogi desires to enjoy (all these eight are in their fullness to be found in the Intrinsic Potency of God, while a yogi can attain them partially in a Mayika way. Refer to Bhagavatam, Canto XI, Chapter 15, slokas 4-5); (9) Anurmimatvam or to be free from hunger, thirst, sorrows, infatuation, infirmity and old age, and death; (10) Durasravana or to be able to hear from even a very long distance; (11) Duradarsana or to be able to see from a very very long distance; (12) Manojava or fast movement of the physical body, as quick as that of mind; (13) Kamarupa or to be able to take any form according to one's own wishes. (14) Parakaya-pravesa or to be able to enter into another person's body; (15) Svacchanda-mrtyu or to be able to die any time according to one's own wishes;  (16) Deva-krida-darsana or to possess the power of seeing the sportive activities of the gods; (17) Sankalpita-padartha-prapti or to attain things of one's predetermination; and (18) Apratihata-adesa or to possess such power that one's commands cannot be disobeyed by anybody. Besides these, there are five lesser attainments, viz. (19) Trikala-jnatva or to have power of knowing all about past, present and future; (20) Sitosnadidandva-sahisnuta or capable of enduring the opposites of cold and heat etc.;  (21) Paracittadi-abbijnata or to be able to know the mind of others; (22) Agni-surya-jala-visa-prabhava-stambhana or to be able to neutralize the powers of fire, sun, water, poison, etc.; and (23) Aparajaya or to be unconquerable by anybody.32

       Bhukti= worldly pleasures; Mukti= Brahma-sukham or felicity arising from knowledge of Brahman; Nityam paramanandam = according to Parisesya-nyaya, eternal felicity from Bhakti to Govinda, the Supreme Lord. All these aspects of happiness are to be experienced. –31-


32 Bhagavatam, Canto XI, Chap. 15, slokas 6-8.



Text 32:


yatha hari-bhakti-sudhodaye ca–

bhuyo 'pi yace devesa tvayi bhaktir-drdhastu me |

ya moksanta-caturvarga phalada sukhada lata ||32||


       Translation: Oh Lord of all lords! I pray again and again at Thy Feet that let that steady devotion (Bhakti) in Thee grow in me which like a creeper bears the fruits of Moksa or final emancipation, and beyond that, eternal and supreme pleasures in Thy services (happiness arising out of the feeling of realization of the Supreme Lord); so it is stated in the Haribhakti-sudhodaya. –32-




Text 33:



manageva prarudhayam hrdaye bhagavad-ratau |

purusarthastu catvaras trnayante saman-tatah ||33||


       Translation: Even with the slightest awakening of Bhava-Bhakti in the heart for the Lord, the four objects of human pursuit, viz. dharma (relative duties offering heavenly pleasures), artha (mundane wealth), kama (sensual pleasures or desires), and Moksa (final emancipation or realization of the self as identical with Brahman) become insignificant and as worthless as a straw. -33-



Text 34:


yatha sri narada-pancaratre

hari-bhakti maha-devyah sarva muktyadi-siddhayah |

bhuktyas-cadbhutas tasya cetika-vadanu-vraha ||34||


       Translation: All forms of Mukti and all extraordinary powers of yoga as also many wonderful sense enjoyments follow with reverential fear the Supreme Goddess of Bhakti like the female attendants following their heroine. –34-




Text 35:



sadhanaughair-anasangair alabhya sucirad-api |

harina casvadeyeti vidha sa syat sudurlabha ||35||


       Translation: Bhava-Bhakti is extremely difficult of attainment for two reasons, viz. even long periods of practices of al1 aspects of Sadhana-Bhakti without any Ruci and Asakti, i.e. taste and attachment, do not make Bhava-Bhakti available; and secondly, in is not easily bestowed by Lord Hari. –35-


       Commentary: Sri Mukundadasa Gosvami comments that anasangaih means without ‘attachment’ which also includes ‘ruci’ or taste, without which various forms of spiritual practices even for a very long period do not arouse Bhava-Bhakti. The various spiritual practices here include the 64 different forms of Sadhana-Bhakti, out of which if the following five aspects are ignored, then the practices of the rest will not make Bhava-Bhakti attainable. These five essential aspects of spiritual practices in the stage of Sadhana-Bhakti are: (1) worship of the Deities with reverential attachment; (2) listening to the Bhagavatam in the company of advanced saints; (3) to keep the company of such saints and devotees of Lord Hari as have devotion to and relation with Lord Hari (Ksrna) which are allied to his own nature of devotion and relation with the Lord, and who are affectionate and superior to him; (4) chanting the Name of the Lord; (5) living in Mathura-mandala.

       Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti comments that Bhava-Bhakti cannot be attained unless one has undergone the course of spiritual practices, starting from (I) Sraddha followed by (II) Sadhu-Sanga, (III) Bhajana-Kriya, (IV) Anartha-Nivrtti, (V) Nistha, (VI) Ruci, and (VII) Asakti (please see Introduction). Unless one has undergone these stages of spiritual practices, Bhava-Bhakti is not attainable. So the twofold difficulties are: firstly, Bhava-Bhakti is not awakened even if

the different stages of Sadhana-Bhakti have been undergone for a long time until the stages of Asakti or attachment and Ruci or taste are reached; secondly, even if there is attachment and taste, Lord Hari does not bestow it soon-He tests His devotee for long and then only Bhava is bestowed by the Lord and is not attained by the individual by his own efforts. -35-




Text 36:


tatra adya yatha tantre

jnanatah sulabha muktir bhuktir yajnadi-punyatah |

seyam sadhana-sahasrair hari-bhaktih sudurlabha ||36||


       Translation: The FIRST DIFFICULTY, as stated in the Tantra: Mukti (final emancipation or salvation) is comparatively easy to attain by Jnana or the path of knowledge of Impersonal Brahman. Bhukti or all forms of mundane and heavenly pleasures are easily available by pious karma like Vedic sacrifices etc, but Bhakti (Bhava-Bhakti) is extremely difficult to attain by thousands of rudiments of spiritual practices. -36-


       Commentary: It is true that Mukti by Jnana and Bhukti by Vedic Karma and Yoga, etc. are comparatively easily attainable, but even here if Jnana and Karma be devoid of attachment for the objects of attainment, such results would not be attained. It, therefore, follows that even such trifling results like Bhukti (earthly and heavenly sense enjoyments) and Mukti liberation from bondage (i.e. salvation) are indeed not easily achieved, i.e. difficult to attain. So, when the Tantra says that Bhava-Bhakti is rarely attained by thousands of practices of rudimentary Sadhana-Bhakti, it must be understood that even such merely traditional practices of Sadhana-Bhakti will not awaken Bhava-Bhakti unless it is enlivened by an intense attachment for Bhakti itself. Further, Mukti through impersonal Jnana alone is indeed a painful striving. Compare Gita,Chapter 12, sloka 5. In the same manner, Bhukti or mundane pleasure through Karma and Yoga is equally difficult to attain. Sri Sukadeva Gosvami tells King Pariksita: "Oh King! When the friends of Lord Krsna approached the brahmanas of Mathura, who were engaged in the performance of Vedic sacrifices for the useless and temporary fruits of pleasures in heaven (Svarga),and asked to offer all the ingredients of their sacrifices, such as, ghi (boiled butter), milk, curd, fruits, etc., to the Lord, the brahmanas refused to offer them to Lord Krsna. Thus they did not listen to the demands of the Lord, because, Oh King! These brahmanas, engaged in hard and austere penances of the Vedic sacrifices, were foolishly seeking only very trifling enjoyments in heaven by such painstaking karma. Though such Karmins consider themselves wise, they are indeed very unwise." 33  Thus it comes to this: To follow the path of Jnana with attachment for Mukti, i.e. liberation in Brahma-Jnana, or to follow the path of Vedic Karma or Yoga with attachment for earthly and heavenly pleasures or Bhukti, even though very hard and unwise, is not enough unless such attachments are intelligently applied. This intelligent application of Jnana and Kkarma for Mukti and Bhukti respectively should, therefore, be softened by the touch of Bhakti, without which verily even Mukti and Bhukti cannot be realized. For example, Brahma bowing in reverence to Lord Sri Krsna addresses Him thus: "Oh Unlimited! Oh Unborn! In days of yore many followers of yoga lived in this blessed land, who failed to achieve their desired results by following the path of Yoga. But by offering their individual Vedic and other karma to Thee, they attained, the superior End of Thy nearness through self-knowledge enkindled in their heart by the grace of Bhakti, i.e. by listening to and singing Thy Name and Thy glories they realized the higher end of Bhakti."34  Again, Sri Sudhama Vipra (brahmana and school friend of Lord Krsna) while on his way back home aftermeeting his Divine Friend Lord Sri Krsna at Dvaraka muses in his mind thus: "My Friend had been so endearingly friendly to me! He treated me with such deep affection! Oh! He asked me to sit on His own bed! He asked me so many affectionate questions about my life at home since we had parted from the school of our common teacher, Sandipani Muni! Oh! At the instance of my wife I went to meet my Divine Friend with the desire of asking wealth from Him, riches for relief from my poverty and want, and I failed to ask for such triflings out of a sheer feeling of shame! And My Friend also sent me back without any gifts. What shall I tell my wife? I shall tell her: Desireless service of the Feet of my Divine Friend Sri Krsna is the root cause of attainment of all wealth on earth, at the bottom of the sea, or in heaven, and also of all forms of supernatural powers as well as mukti or liberation."35

       The use of the expression “Hari-Bhakti in the Tantra, as quoted by Sri Rupa Gosvami, means, according to the Commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami, Bhava-Bhakti or Rati, which is the object of attainment by Sadhana-Bhakti. Compare Bhagavatam.

          Sadhana here definitely refers to Sadhana-Bhakti or rudimentary early practices of Bhakti in relation to Lord Hari (Godhead) only, for otherwise, no Bhava-Bhakti is possible for Lord Hari. But when the text lays down that Sadhana-Bhakti must be practiced thousands and thousands of times, and that even in spite of such thousands and thousands of rudimentary  practices of Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhava-Bhakti is not only rare, but it is very rare, one would naturally get frightened to follow this apparently most difficult path. In order to remove such possible reactions in the minds of the people, Sri Jiva Gosvami asserts that though ordinarily Bhava-Bhakti is indeed very very rare, it does not mean that it cannot be attained. As a matter of fact, it can also be attained easily, says the Bhagavatam. Thus in Canto II, Chapter 8 King Pariksit requests Sukadeva Gosvami as follows: "Master! I am desirous of listening to all about the All-auspicious Lord Hari, because those who constantly listen to and sing about the Pastimes of the Supreme Lord Hari with reverential faith make the Lord Himself very soon enter into their heart."37

       Sri Narada tells Sri Vyasadeva: "When I was a little child and my mother was working in a brahmana family for her living, several Sadhus or saint-devotees of Lord Hari came to the residence of the said brahmana and lived there for four months as required for the vow of Caturmasya which enjoins a life of austerity to be lived in one place for four successive months. During their stay, these Sadhu-devotees used to chant the sweet Name of Hari and discourse on the various events of Lord Hari's Divine Life. Listening to their chanting of the Lord's Name and their discourses on the Divine Life of Hari I had devotion to Lord Hari awakened in my heart and felt that attachment for Hari which is the essence of Bhava-Bhakti."38  Here, in Narada's case, there is an awakening of Bhava-Bhakti by the simple listening to the devotional discourses of the Sadhu-devotees of Lord Hari. Hence Bhava-Bhakti though difficult of attainment, yet it comes without the asking through very simple means, provided there is the keenness with which Narada listened to the discourses and the chanting from the lips of the Sadhus. Again, the Lord tells Uddhava: "Oh Uddhava! Sadhana-Bhakti with single-minded service to Myself and Myself alone gratifies Me in a way which neither the ways of Sankhya nor Yoga nor the performance of austerities and charities, and the various Vedic rituals can ever gratify."39

       It may be noted that Sri Jiva Gosvami in his comment here gives a somewhat different interpretation of the sadhana in sadhana-sahasraih in the above verse of the Tantra. According to him, this sadhana in Sadhana sahasraih refers to the ways laid down in Sankhya, yoga and Vedic rituals, and not Sadhana-Bhakti as may appear to a cursory reader. It is such practices repeated even thousands of times that cannot bring forth Bhava-Bhakti as their necessary fruits. And in this sense, Bhava-Bhakti is extremely difficult of attainment. If Sadhana in Sadhanasa sahasraih meant Sadhana-Bhakti then it would follow that Sadhana-Bhakti cannot be an effective means to Bhava-Bhakti. It appears to the translator, however, that Sri Jiva Gosvami's interpretation is somewhat forced and does not square with the text of the sloka of the Tantra. Sri Jiva Gosvami points out that the word Sadhana is used in the Tantra for the purpose of distinguishing it from bhajan. In sadhana there is all indirect reference of Karma and Jnana, so that the result is mixed, i.e. devotion or Bhakti mixed up with the ways laid down in Karma, Jnana and Yoga. As distinguished from this, Bhakti pure and unadulterated is concerned only with bhajana, i.e. service of the Lord alone through the direct method of chanting the Name and other practices laid down in the way of unalloyed or Uttama-Bhakti. Sri Jiva Gosvami further points out: the essence of wisdom in Misra-Bhakti, i.e. Bhakti practiced through the ways of Sankhya, Yoga and Vedic rituals, etc., consists in the practice of these ways with Bhakti and real attachment for Bhakti as the primary end. Proof of such wisdom consists in the fact that in such a devotee there is complete disappearance of all desires for heavenly or earthly pleasures and other extraneous ends. If, however, it is found that despite practices of Misra-Bhakti, the desire for extraneous objects still continues, the conclusion will be that the wisdom which characterizes such a devotee is non-existent. It follows, therefore, that combination of ways of sadhana is not desirable. The right method is to hear about the Lord, to sing the praise of the Lord, and to meditate on the Lord with single-minded devotion and attachment in complete disregard of every other way recommended in other Sastras.40  -36-


33 Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chap. 23, sloka 9.

34 Ibid., Canto X, Chap. 14, sloke 5.

35 Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chap. 81, sloka l9.

36 Ibid., Canto XI, Chap. 3, sloka 31.

37 Bhagavatam, Canto II, Chap. 8, sloka 4.

38 Ibid., Canto I, Chap. 5, sloka 26.

39 Ibid., Canto XI, Chap. 14, sloka 20.

40 Bhagavatam, Canto I, Chap. 2, sloka 14.




Text 37:


dvitiya yatha pancama-skandhe

rajan patir gurur alam bhavatam yadunam daivam priyah kula-patih kva ca kinkaro vah |

astv evam anga bhajatam bhagavan mukundo muktim dadati karhicit sma na bhakti-yoga 41 ||37|| ||  


41 Ibid. Canto V, Chap. 6, sloka I851


Translation: The SECOND DIFFICULTY, as stated in the Fifth Canto:


Sri Sukadeva Gosvami addresses King Yudhisthira. "Oh King! Sri Krsna is the Lord or protector, Guru or Adviser, Daiva or Object of worship, Dear to and Controller in respect of both the Pandavas and the Yadavas. Though He manifested Himself in the family of the Yadavas, He treated both the Yadavas and the Pandavas with equal favor. But owing to the excellence of

devotion and affection of the Pandavas to Him, the Lord even went so far as to serve the Pandavas (as their Ambassador) and also allowed Himself to be guided by the directions of His own devotees, i.e. the Pandavas. Even so, this Mukunda (literally, One who gives Mukti or liberation, i.e. Lord Sri Krsna), does not give Uttama-Bhakti in most cases to the

devotees, but gives Mukti instead, which is much inferior." –37-


       Commentary: The commentator Sri Jiva points out that the verse above- quoted is in proof of the second element in the concept of Sudurlabha, difficult to attain. In other words, it proves that the Lord Himself through comparatively liberal in the bestowal of Mukti or liberation, is very rarely disposed to bestow the prize of Bhakti to His devotees. It follows, therefore, that Bhakti is not only extremely difficult to attain by individual efforts, but is also very rarely attained as

a gift of the Lord Himself. The commentator further points out in explanation of the verse above-quoted that though Lord Krsna revealed Himself as a Member of the stock of the Yadavas, He never discriminated in His behavior between the Yadavas and the Pandavas. On the contrary, in view of the superior love of the Lord inherent amongst the Pandavas, He even condescended to serve them as their Ambassador: a condescension to which He never stooped in regard to the Yadavas to whose stock He belonged. The Lord bestowed Bhava-Bhakti on the Pandavas because of an excess of affection for them irrespective of the Pandavas practicing bhajana of the Lord or failing to do it. As regards others, the Lord usually refrains from bestowing the valuable gift of Bhava-Bhakti, though not refusing Mukti which is much inferior. He gives Bhava-Bhakti only

to such who scorn Mukti as a value worth having and desires Bhakti instead. –37-



Text 38:



brahmanando bhavedesa cet prararddha gunikrtah |

naiti bhakti-sukhambhodheh paramanu-tulam api ||38||


       Translation:  The joy of the realization of the Absolute Life that has been attained after millions of years of arduous practice of meditation is as a mere drop in the ocean as compared with the delight which is Prema-Bhakti. –38-


       Translator's Note: The delight in the realization of the Absolute Brahman, as a Sankarite conceives it, is a sort of calm unruffled state of variationless blissfulness. This is, however, not to be confounded with Lord Krsna's Svarupa-Ananda, i.e. His delight in the realization of His eternal Perfection. Svarupa-Ananda is an active realization, which is full of novelty at every moment, while Brahmananda is a tranquil state without movement and variety. Besides Svarupa-Ananda, there is a higher delight which the Vaisnavas call Svarupa-Sakti-Ananda, which is the Lord's delight in the delight which a Bhakta or devotee enjoys in the delight of Lord Krsna Himself. -38-



Text 39:


yatha hari-bhakti-sudhodaye

tvat saksat karanahlada visuddhabdhi sthitasya me |

sukhani gosoadayante brahmany api jagad-guro ||39||


       Translation: Oh Lord of the Universe! The ocean of delight in which I have been plunged as a consequence of my immediate vision of Thyself makes even Brahmananda or the delight of the Absolute Life of the Sankarite as a little pool created on the soil by the hoof-marks of cows. –39-


       Commentary: The commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami here points out that Brahmananda or delight of the Absolute Life of the Sankarite must not be confused with the delight of the god Brahma, the creator of the 14 worlds.


       Translator's Note: The delight of Brahma may be the delight of Prema Bhakti, and such delight surpasses by far the delight of the Absolute Life, which the Sankarites speak of as the essence of Moksa. Brahma in Hindu mythology is the creator of the smallest universe of ours, which consists of 14 worlds, while Brahma(n) means the Absolute Godhead. Non-Sanskrta scholar must not confound the former expression with the latter. In the same manner, a brahmana, i.e. the priest by birth is different from Brahmana, i.e. the Vedas. –39-




Text 40:


tatha bhavarthadipikayam ca –

tvat-kathamrta pathoghau viharanto mahamudah |

kurvanti krtinah kecit catur-vargam trnopamam ||40||


       Translation: So it is stated in the Bhavartha-Dipika. The Srutis in their prayers to the Lord, while invoking Him from His slumber before creation, say: "Oh Lord! A few of Thy devotees (not any devotee, but merely a few devotees who have attained Bhava-Bhakti alone) who swim the Ocean of the Nectar of Discourses on Thy Divine Pastimes and enjoy the supreme delight from drinking the nectar thereof alone do reject all the four desires for Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa considering them to be worthless as a straw."42  40-


       Commentary: Sri Jiva Gosvami raises a question: Why does Sri Rupa cite here a sloka from the Bhavarthadipika, i.e. commentary of Sridhara Svami on the Bhagavatam, when there were so many other verses in the text of the Bhagavatam itself in support of the Sandrananda-visesatma quality of Prema-Bhakti? The reason that actuates Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Jiva says, is that Sridhara Svami had understood the truly esoteric concepts of the Bhagavatam by his own realization, and hence such an authority has been cited by Sri Rupa. –40-


42 Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chap. 88, sloka 11



Text 41:



krtva harim premabhajam priya varga samanvitam |

bhaktir vasi karotiti sri-krsnakarsini mata ||41||


Translation: The Power of Drawing Krsna to oneself:


Prema-Bhakti is called Krsna-Akarsini, i.e., possessing the power of attracting Lord Krsna because such Bhakti charms Krsna into complete submission through endearing love and affection for Krsna with His Entourage. –41-


       Commentary: The commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami points out that in the text Sri-Krsna-Akarsini, the prefix  “Sri”  refers to the Entourage of the Lord, so that it is not only the Lord alone but the Lord with all His Entourage that becomes charmed into submission by Prema-Bhakti. Sri Mukundadasa points out that in Prema-Bhakti which binds ever Lord Krsna, the object of the Bhakti is not merely Lord Krsna Himself, but Krsna with His Entourage.

       Thus while Sri Jiva points out that Prema-Bhakti causes the submission both of the Lord and His Entourage, Sri Mukundadasa points out that Prema-Bhakti is directed not merely to the Lord but also to His Entourage, just as when one  speaks of the king as appearing, one means the appearance of the king with his retinue. –41-


       Translator's Note: It may be noted here that while Lord Krsna as the All-Inclusive Reality, is absolutely free in all respects not being subject to any kind of bondage, yet there is one exception. He is the Self-Elected slave of a real selfless devotee of His, who had attained Prema-Bhakti.



Text 42:



na sadhyati mam yogo na sankhyam dharma uddhava |

na svadhyayas tapas tyago yatha bhaktir mamorjita 43   ||42||


       Translation: Lord Krsna addressing Uddhava says: "Oh Uddhava! The way I am won over by Prema-Bhakti which is the most forceful, the same can never be possible by the ways of Yoga, Sankhya, Vedic ritualism, recitation of the sacred Vedas, austerities and renunciation. –42-


       Commentary: The commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami points out that it may appear on a first view that the reference to Yoga, Sankhya, etc. is appropriate only in establishing the superior excellence of Sadhana-Bhakti and is not quite in place in an exposition of the nature of Prema-Bhakti. There is, however, according to Sri Jiva, nothing inappropriate, the object being to show how Sadhana-Bhakti leads on to Saddhya-Bhakti or Prema-Bhakti,  which alone has the attribute of winning over Lord Sri Krsna. –42-


43 Bhagavatam, Canto XI, Chap. 14, sloka 20.




Text 43:


saptame ca naraoktau

yuym nrloke bata bhuribhaga lokam punana munayo'bhiyanti |

yesam grhanavasatiti saksad gudham param brahma manusya lingam  44    ||43||


       Translation: Sri Narada addresses King Yudhisthira as follows: "You are the most fortunate of human beings in this world, because even the saints whose very sight sanctifies everybody on this earth, of their own accord come to your place with a view to purify themselves, because it is your residence that the Inscrutable Absolute in His Eternal Human Form chooses as His suitable Place of Abode. –43-


       Commentary: Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti elucidates the text as follows: The sage Narada in reply to King Yudhisthira, who laments his own poor lot as compared to exceptional good luck of Prahlada who had an immediate vision of the Lord, says: "Oh King! You are far superior in your exceptional good fortune, not merely to Prahlada but also myself who am the Guru or Spiritual Preceptor of Prahlada, and also to all other devotees, as also the Yadavas, saints such as Vasista, Marici, Kasyapa, and the gods Brahma, Rudra, etc., because the saints whose mere sight purifies everybody come of their own accord and seek an access to your residence in the hope of having their hearts desires fulfilled. Because, the Inscrutable Absolute Self in His Intrinsic Form like a Human Being chooses unasked your Residence as His suitable Abode. Sri Prahlada and others had never the good fortune of having the Absolute in His Intrinsic Human Form as a Resident in their Abode. For the same reason, the sages also never care to become guests in the residence of Prahlada and others." –43-


44 Ibid., Canto VII, Chap. 10, sloka 48.



Text 44:


agrato vaksyamanayas tridha bhakter anukramat |

dvisah sadbhih padairetan mahatyam parikirtitam ||44||


       Translation: The three types of Bhakti viz. Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhava-Bhakti and Prema-Bhakti, which will be expounded in the chapters that will follow, have here been briefly described by their distinguishing traits, two for each, according to the order of the previous presentation. Thus the first two (1) Klesaghni and (2) Subhada are the distinguishing traits of Sadhana-Bhakti; the second two, viz. (3) Moksa-laghutakrt and (4) Sudurlabha are the distinguishing traits of Bhava-Bhakti, while the last two, viz. (5) Sandrananda-visesatma and (6) Sri-Krsna-akarsini are the distinguishing traits of Prema-Bhakti.The author by specifying the distinguishing traits of each type hopes to have established the mahatmya or super-excellence of Bhakti, (both as Means and End). –44-


       Commentary: The commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami points out (as has been previously explained) that just as the elements constitute a hierarchical order beginning with the earth, in which every higher element in the hierarchy includes both its own distinctive qualities and also the qualities of the elements lower in scale, so also Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhava-Bhakti and Prema-Bhakti constitute a hierarchical order starting from Sadhana-Bhakti and reaching Prema-Bhakti as the highest type. Thus the qualities of Sadhana-Bhakti characterize also Bhava-Bhakti, which has, besides, its own distinctive qualities; while to Prema-Bhakti belong not merely its own distinctive qualities, but also the qualities of the other two. –44-



Text 45:



svalpapi rucir eva syad bhakti tatvavabodhika |

yuktistu kevala naiva yadasya apratisthata ||45||


       Translation: Even a little of real taste in Bhakti is a passport to the understanding of the true nature of Bhakti, while mere argument has no sound foundation and does not conduce to the comprehension of the true nature of Bhakti. –45-


       Commentary: Sri Jiva Gosvami explains ruci as a sense of excellence in the words of the Bhagavatam and other Bhakti-Scriptures due to the residual traces of previous experience. It is only Sraddha or faith, which prepares the way to the comprehension of the true nature and ultimate realization of Bhakti. Mere argument without the support of  authoritative  Scriptures is unavailing. Any argument, however profound, is liable to be overthrown by a profounder

argument  of a keener intelligence. Therefore, the way of mere reasoning can never be decisive in its results. Arguments need not be discounted altogether, but only such arguments are helpful that expound authoritative sacred Scriptures.

       According to Sri Mukundadasa even a slight ruci or taste in the principle of Bhakti purifies the mind and thereby prepares it for a deeper insight into the reaches of Bhakti as a spiritual experience. –45-




Text 46:


tatra pracinair apy uktam

yatenapadito ‘py arthah kusalair anumatrbhih |

abhiyukta tarair anyair anyathaivopapadyate ||46||


Translation: Thus it has been said by the elders:


       Even conclusions established by experts of the theory of inference are found to be demolished by other inferences propounded by logicians of subtler intellect. –46-


       Commentary: Sri Suresvara Acarya, the reputed ‘vartikakara’,-- the elucidator of Sankarite Vedanta, has said in commenting on the Brahma-sutra, Tarka-apratisthanat (an aphorism of the Vedanta), that even the most carefully formulated inferences of expert logicians are liable to be overthrown by inferences of greater subtlety formulated by logicians of superior intellect. All of that shows that mere logic without a solid foundation of Sastras embodying the intuitive deliverance of sages leads nowhere. -46-




Thus ends "The Generic Character of Bhakti"


Of Sri Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh.



Continue to next section: Second Wave: Sadhana-Bhakti Verses 1 - 123

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