Six Qualities that Enhance Bhakti:
Following in the Footsteps of the Previous Acaryas
BY: SUN STAFF
Nov 19, CANADA (SUN) Six Qualities that Enhance Bhakti by HDG Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
Following in the Footsteps of the Previous Acaryas
A grihastha Vaishnava should model his character after that of Lord Caitanya and His followers. A householder should follow the ways of life and obtain his means of livelihood as exhibited by Lord Caitanya and His followers. If one desires Krishna in all his activities, then those activities are auspicious. By endeavoring to gratify one's senses and attain irrelevant fruits, one becomes a materialist. For a devotee, to remain a householder or to become a renunciate is the same thing. Srila Ramananda Raya, Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Sri Srivasa Pandita, Sri Sivananda Sena, Sri Satyaraja Khan, and Sri Advaita Prabhu were all grihasthas and have shown us the way of faultless living. The difference between a householder and a renunciate is due to their different means of livelihood.
If the home is favorable for a devotee's devotional service, then he should not leave. It is his duty to remain a grihastha with detachment. But when the home becomes unfavorable for his service, he then becomes eligible to leave home. At tht time the detachment he develops for his house through his devotional service is accepted. For this reason, Srivasa Pandita did not leave home. For this reason, Svarupa Damodara took sannyasa. All genuine devotees have remained either at home or in the forest due to this consideration. Whoever has left home due to this consideration is called a genuine renunciate. He is always careful not to commit offenses against the holy name. Now let us consider the occupation of a renunciate. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 6.222-227, 236-237) Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke to the renunciate Raghunatha dasa Gosvami as follows:
bhala kaila, vairagira dharma acarila
"Raghunatha dasa has done well, he has acted suitably for a person in the renounced order.
vairagi karibe sada nama-sankirtana
magiya khana kare jivana rakshana
"A person in the renounced order should always chant the holy name of the Lord. He should beg some alms to eat, and he should sustain his life in this way.
vairagi hana yeba kare parapeksa
karya-siddhi nahe, krishna karena upeksha
"A vairagi [a person in the renounced order] should not depend on others. If he does so, he will be unsuccessful, and he will be neglected by Krishna.
vairagi hana kare jihvara lalasa
paramartha yaya, ara haya rasera vasa
"If a renunciate is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue.
vairagira kritya-sada nama-sankirtana
"The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits, and roots are available.
jihvara lalase yei iti-uti dhaya
sisnodara-parayana krishna nahi paya"
"One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Krishna.
gramya-katha na sunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe
bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe
"Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely.
amani manada hana krishna-nama sada la'be
vraje radha-krishna-seva manase karibe
"Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Krishna, and within your mind render service to Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana.
A sannyasi or a renunciate should not live in his village with his relatives. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 3.177):
sannyasira dharma nahe-sannyasa karina
nija janma-sthane rahe kutumba lana
"After accepting sannyasa, it is not the duty of a sannyasi to remain at his birthplace, encircled by relatives."
A renunciate should not meet a king or woman. In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 11.7) the Lord said:
virakta sannyasi amara raja-darasana
stri-darasana-sama vishera bhakshana
"Since I am in the renounced order, it is as dangerous for Me to meet a king as to meet a woman. To meet either would be just like drinking poison."
A renunciate should remain faultless. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 12.51, 53):
sukla-vastre masi-bindu yaiche na lukaya
sannyasira alpa chidra sarva-loke gaya
prabhu kahe,-purna yaiche dugdhera kalasa
sura-bindu-pate keha na kare parasa
"As soon as the general public finds a little fault in the behavior of a sannyasi, they advertise it like wildfire. A black spot of ink cannot be hidden on a white cloth. It is always very prominent. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then said:
There may be much milk in a big pot, but if it is contaminated by a drop of liquor, it is untouchable."
The behavior of a renunciate is explained in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 17.229):
preme garagara mana ratri-divase
snana-bhikshadi-nirvaha karena abhyase
"His mind was absorbed in great ecstatic love day and night. He ate and bathed simply out of habit."
The symptoms of a pseudo-renunciate are stated by the Lord in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 2.117-118, 120, 124, 5.35-36):
prabhu kahe,-vairagi kare prakriti sambhashana
dekhite na paron ami tahara vadana
durvara indriya kare vishaya-grahana
daravi prakriti hare muner api mana
kshudra-jiva saba markata-vairagya kariya
indriya carana bule `prakriti' sambhashiya
prabhu kahe,-mora vasa nahe mora mana
prakriti-sambhashi vairagi na kare darsana
ami ta' sannyasi, apanare virakta kari' mani
darsana rahu dure, `prakritira' nama yadi suni
tabahin vikara paya mora tanu-mana
prakriti-darsane sthira haya kon jana?
"The Lord replied: I cannot tolerate seeing the face of a person who has accepted the renounced order of life but who still talks intimately with a woman. So strongly do the senses adhere to the objects of their enjoyment that indeed a wooden statue of a woman attracts the mind of even a great saintly person. There are many persons with little in their possession who accept the renounced order of life like monkeys. They go here and there engaging in sense gratification and speaking intimately with women. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: My mind is not under My control. It does not like to see anyone in the renounced order who talks intimately with women. I am a sannyasi, and I certainly consider Myself renounced.
But not to speak of seeing a woman, if I even hear the name of a woman, I feel changes in My mind and body. Therefore who could remain unmoved by the sight of a woman? It is very difficult."
Again, detachment in the heart of a householder is greatly appreciated. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 5.80) the Lord says:
`grihastha' hana nahe raya shad-vargera vase
`vishayi' hana sannyasire upadese
"Although Ramananda Raya was a householder, he was not under the control of the six kinds of bodily change. Although apparently a pounds-and-shillings man, he advised even persons in the renounced order."
A renunciate should not eat foods or accept goods from materialistic people, nor should he invite other renunciates to eat foods or accept goods from such people. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 6.274-275) Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami concludes as follows:
vishayira dravya lana kari nimantrana
prasanna na haya ihaya jani prabhura mana
mora citta dravya la-ite na haya nirmala
ei nimantrane dekhi,-`pratishtha'-matra phala
"I invite Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by accepting goods from materialistic people. I know that the Lord's mind is not satisfied by this. My consciousness is impure because I accept all these goods from people who are interested only in pounds, shillings, and pence. Therefore by this kind of invitation I only get some material reputation."
The Lord replied in Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 6.278-279):
vishayira anna khaile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe krishnera smarana
vishayira anna haya `rajasa' nimantrana
data, bhokta-dunhara malina haya mana
"When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one's mind becomes contaminated, and when the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Krishna properly. When one accepts an invitation from a person contaminated by the material mode of passion, the person who offers the food and the person who accepts it are both mentally contaminated."
It is not proper for a renunciate to expect unasked for charity. In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 6.284, 286) it says:
prabhu kahe,-bhala kaila, chadila simha-dvara
simha-dvare bhiksha-vritti-veshyara acara
chatre yai yatha-labha udara-bharana
anya katha nahi, sukhe krishna-sankirtana
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: He has done very well by no longer standing at the Simha-dvara gate. Such begging of alms resembles the behavior of a prostitute. If one goes to the booth where free food is distributed and fills his belly with whatever he obtains, there is no chance of further unwanted talk and one can very peacefully chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra."
A renunciate should not construct big temples or residences. By doing so, he becomes entangled in household activities. He should meditate on the service of worshiping govardhana-sila. In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 6.296-297) it is stated:
eka kunja jala ara tulasi-manjari
sattvika-seva ei-suddha-bhave kari
dui-dike dui-patra madhye komala manjari
ei-mata ashta-manjari dibe sraddha kari'
"For such worship, one needs a jug of water and a few flowers from a tulasi tree. This is worship in complete goodness when performed in complete purity. With faith and love, you should offer eight soft tulasi flowers, each with two tulasi leaves, one on each side of each flower."
Devotees accept the sannyasa order of life only in special situations; it is not always required. A Vaishnava born in a brahmana's family can take such sannyasa when he leaves home, but he should not accept the limbs that are averse to his devotional service. Regarding the characteristics of Svarupa Damodara Prabhu, it is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 10.107-108):
`niscinte krishna bhajiba' ei ta' karane
unmade karila tenha sannyasa grahane
sannyasa karila sikha-sutra-tyaga-rupa
yoga-patta na nila, nama haila `svarupa'
"He was very enthusiastic to worship Sri Krishna without disturbance; therefore it was almost in madness that he accepted the sannyasa order. Upon accepting sannyasa, Purushottama Acarya followed the regulative principles by giving up his tuft of hair and sacred thread, but he did not accept the saffron colored dress. Also, he did not accept a sannyasi title but remained as a naishthika-brahmacari."
Someone may accept sannyasa in the form of minimizing his needs. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.78, 81) there is the following statement regarding the character of Sri Sanatana Gosvami:
tabe misra puratana eka dhuti dila
tenho dui bahirvasa-kaupina karila
sanatana kahe,-ami madhukari kariba
brahmanera ghare kene ekatra bhiksha laba?
"When Tapana Misra gave Sanatana Gosvami a used dhoti, Sanatana immediately tore it in pieces to make two sets of outer cloth and underwear. Sanatana replied: I shall practice the process of madhukari. Why should I accept full meals in the house of a brahmana?" The Lord's response is found in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.92):
tina mudrara bhota gaya, madhukari grasa
dharma-hani haya, loka kare upahasa
"It is contradictory to practice madhukari and at the same time wear a valuable blanket. One loses his spiritual strength by doing this, and one will also become an object for jokes."
Regarding the association of a Vaishnava sannyasi, the character of Sri Madhavendra Puri is described in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Antya 4.419-421, 423-424, 426, 428):
vishnu-maya vase loka kuchui na jane
sakala jagat baddha maha tamo-gune
"People were conditioned by the mode of ignorance and had lost all knowledge due to the influence of vishnu-maya.
loka dekhi' duhkha bhave sri madhavapuri
hena nahi, tilarddha sambhasha ya're kari
"Srila Madhavendra Puri was deeply pained by the godlessness of the people, and he found no one to speak to.
sannyasira sane va karena sambhashana
seha apanare matra bale `narayana'
"Sometimes he would speak to the sannyasis, but to his dismay he found that they claimed to be Narayana.
jnani, yogi, tapasvi, sannyasi' khyati ya'ra
ka'ra mukhe nahi dasya mahima pracara
"Jnanis, yogis, tapasvis, and famous sannayis never spoke about the glories of serving the Supreme Lord.
yata adhyapaka saba tarka se vakhane
ta'ra saba krishnera vigraha nahi mane'
"All the teachers and professors were only interested in logic and argument. They refused to accept the spiritual form of Lord Krishna.
loka madhye bhrami kene vaishnava dekhite
kothao `vaishnava' nama na suni jagate
"Srila Madhavendra Puri thought: Why am I roaming amongst people searching for a Vaishnava? Wherever I go I don't even hear the word `Vaishnava'.
eteke se, vana bhala e saba haite
vane katha nahe avaishnavera sahite
"Therefore he considered it better to stay in the forest where he did not have to speak with nondevotees."
A Vaishnava sannyasi should give up the use of Mayavadi markings. Concerning the character of Sri Brahmananda Bharati, the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 10.154) says:
brahmananda pariyache mriga-carmambara
taha dekhi' prabhu duhkha paila antara
"When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees approached him, they saw that he was covered with a deerskin. Seeing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became very unhappy."
Regarding the pure grihastha Vaishnavis, the lady devotees, the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 12.42) describes the procedure for seeing a sannyasi:
purvavat prabhu kaila sabara milana
stri-saba dura ha-ite kaila prabhura darasana
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu received them all, just as He had in previous years. The women, however, saw the Lord from a distance."
A renunciate Vaishnava is prohibited from all kinds of enjoyment. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 12.108):
prabhu kahe,-sannyasira nahi taile adhikara
tahate sugandhi taila-parama dhikkara!
"The Lord replied: A sannyasi has no use for oil, especially perfumed oil such as this. Take it out immediately."
A renunciate Vaishnava is forbidden from hearing the singing of a woman. As described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 13.78, 80, 83-85):
eka-dina prabhu yamesvara-tota yaite
sei-kale deva-dasi lagila gaite
dure gana suni' prabhura ha-ila avesa
stri, purusha, ke gaya-na jane visesha
stri gaya' bali' govinda prabhure kaila kole
stri-nama suni' prabhura bahya ha-ila
prabhu kahe,-govinda, aji rakhila jivana
stri-parasa haile amara ha-ita marana
"One day when the Lord was going to the temple of Yamesvara, a female singer began to sing in the Jagannatha temple. Hearing the song from a distance, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu immediately became ecstatic. He did not know whether it was a man or a woman singing. Just then Govinda caught the Lord in his arms and cried: It is a woman singing! As soon as He heard the word `woman,' the Lord became externally conscious. My dear Govinda, He said, you have saved My life. If I had touched the body of a woman, I would certainly have died."
Concerning a renunciate's bedding, the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 13.5-7, 10, 12, 14-15, 17-19) states as follows:
kalara saralate, sayana, ati kshina kaya
sahite nare jagadananda, srijila upaya
sukshma vastra ani' gaurika diya rangaila
simulira tula diya taha puraila
tuli-balisa dekhi' prabhu krodhavishta ha-ila
govindere kahi' sei tuli dura kaila
prabhu kahena,-khata eka anaha padite
jagadananda cahe amaya vishaya bhunjaite
sannyasi manusha amara bhumite sayana
amare khata-tuli-balisa mastaka-mundana
svarupa-gosani tabe srijila prakara
kadalira sushka-patra anila apara
nakhe ciri' ciri' taha ati sukshma kaila
prabhura bahirvasa duite se saba bharila
ei-mata dui kaila odana-padane
angikara kaila prabhu aneka yatane
"The Lord was very thin, and He would lay down to rest on the dry bark of plantain trees. Jagadananda could not tolerate this, so he devised a remedy. He acquired some fine cloth and colored it with red oxide. Then he filled it with cotton from a simula tree. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw the quilt and pillow, He was immediately very angry. The Lord asked Govinda to put aside the quilt and pillow. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: You should bring a bedstead here for Me to lie on. Jagadananda wants Me to enjoy material happiness. I am in the renounced order, and therefore I must lie on the floor. For Me to use a bedstead, quilt, or pillow would be very shameful. Then Svarupa Damodara Gosvami devised another method. First he secured a large quantity of dry banana leaves. He then tore the leaves into very fine fibers with his nails and filled two of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's outer garments with the fibers. In this way, Svarupa Damodara made some bedding and a pillow, and after much endeavor by the devotees, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted them."
Regarding a renunciate's food, the Lord has said in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 8.84-85):
prabhu kahe,-sabe kene purire kara rosha?
`sahaja' dharma kahe tenho, tanra kiba dosha?
yati hana jihva-lampatya-atyanta anyaya
yatira dharma,-prana rakhite ahara-matra khaya
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied: Why are all of you angry at Ramacandra Puri? He is expounding the natural principles of sannyasa life. Why are you accusing him? For a sannyasi to indulge in satisfying the tongue is a great offense. The duty of a sannyasi is to eat only as much as needed to keep body and soul together."
All the above mentioned items are accepted as the proper occupations of renunciate Vaishnavas. Now the proper occupations for all Vaishnavas-householders and renunciates-will be explained. There is no duty in the age Kali other than chanting the holy names and mantras of Krishna. It is necessary for everyone to take initiation into the chanting of the holy name of Krishna. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi 7.73-74, 97 and 17.30, 75):
krishna-mantra haite habe samsara-mocana
krishna-nama haite pabe krishnera carana
"Simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord.
nama vinu kali-kale nahi ara dharma
sarva-mantra-sara nama, ei sastra-marma
"In this Age of Kali there is no religious principle other than the chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all Vedic hymns. This is the purport of all scriptures.
krishna-name ye ananda-sindhu-asvadana
brahmananda tara age khatodaka-sama
"Compared to the ocean of transcendental bliss that is tasted by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, the pleasure derived from impersonal Brahman realization [brahmananda] is like the shallow water in a canal.
sada nama la-iba, yatha-labhete santosha
eita acara kare bhakti-dharma-posha
"One should strictly follow the principle of always chanting the holy name, and one should be satisfied with whatever he gets easily. Such devotional behavior solidly maintains one's devotional service.
jnana-karma-yoga-dharme nahe krishna vasa
"By following the paths of speculative philosophical knowledge, fruitive activity, or mystic yoga to control the senses, one cannot satisfy Krishna, the Supreme Lord. Unalloyed devotional love for Krishna is the only cause for the Lord's satisfaction." The proper procedure and proper instruction for accepting a spiritual master is given in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 8.128, 221, 229) as follows:
kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
yei krishna-tattva-vetta, sei `guru' haya
raganuga-marge tanre bhaje yei jana
sei-jana paya vraje vrajendra-nandana
siddha-dehe cinti' kare tahanni sevana
sakhi-bhave paya radha-krishnera carana
"Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi, or a sudra-regardless of what he is-he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna. If one worships the Lord on the path of spontaneous love and goes to Vrindavana, he receives the shelter of Vrajendra-nandana, the son of Nanda Maharaja. After thinking of Radha and Krishna and Their pastimes for a long time and after getting completely free from material contamination, one is transferred to the spiritual world. There the devotee attains an opportunity to serve Radha and Krishna as one of the gopis."
One needs to always associate with devotees. One should associate with affectionate devotees who are more advanced, yet of the same temperament. As explained in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 8.251):
sreyo-madhye kona sreyah jivera haya sara?
krishna-bhakta-sanga vina sreyah nahi ara