Six Qualities that Enhance Bhakti:
Following in the Footsteps of the Previous Acaryas


Nov 20, CANADA (SUN) — Six Qualities that Enhance Bhakti by HDG Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Following in the Footsteps of the Previous Acaryas

Part Three

"Out of all auspicious and beneficial activities, which is best for the living entity? Ramananda Raya replied: The only auspicious activity is association with the devotees of Krishna."

Although a Vaishnava comes from a bona fide sampradaya, his association should be considered according to the Lord's statements in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 9.276-277):

prabhu kahe,-karmi, jnani,-dui bhakti-hina
tomara sampradaye dekhi sei dui cihna
sabe, eka guna dekhi tomara sampradaye
satya-vigraha kari' isvare karaha niscaye

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: Both the fruitive worker and the speculative philosopher are considered nondevotees. We see both elements present in your sampradaya. The only qualification that I see in your sampradaya is that you accept the form of the Lord as truth."

One should not remain in a place where incompatible mixtures of mellows or contradictions in the conclusions of devotional service are presented. The Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 10.113) has the following statement:

bhakti-siddhanta-viruddha, ara rasabhasa
sunite na haya prabhura cittera ullasa

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was never pleased to hear books or verses opposed to the conclusive statements of devotional service. The Lord did not like hearing rasabhasa, the overlapping of transcendental mellows."

One should carefully gather the good qualities needed for devotional service. The nature of a devotee is described in Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 7.72) as follows:

mahanubhavera cittera svabhava ei haya
pushpa-sama komala, kathina vajra-maya

"This is the nature of the mind of an uncommon personality. Sometimes it is soft like a flower, but sometimes it is as hard as a thunderbolt."

The welfare activities of a devotee are described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 8.39) as follows:

mahanta-svabhava ei tarite pamara
nija karya nahi tabu yana tara ghara

"It is the general practice of all saintly people to deliver the fallen. Therefore they go to people's houses, although they have no personal business there."

In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 11.4) the Lord gives an example of how a devotee should pledge:

prabhu kahe,-kaha tumi, nahi kichu bhaya
yogya haile kariba, ayogya haile naya

"The Lord gave the Bhattacarya assurance that he could speak without fear, but added that if his statement was suitable He would accept it, and if it were not, He would reject it."

The benefits of dealing affectionately with a devotee are described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 11.26) as follows:

prabhu kahe,-tumi krishna-bhakata-pradhana
tomake ye priti kare, sei bhagyavan

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then said: My dear Ramananda Raya, you are the foremost of all the devotees of Krishna; therefore whoever loves you is certainly a very fortunate person."

Firm determination for one's attachment is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 12.31) as follows:

kintu anuragi lokera svabhava eka haya
ishta na paile nija prana se chadaya

"Still, isn't it the nature of an attached man to give up his life if he does not attain his desired object?"

Teaching others by one's good example is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 12.117) as follows:

tumi bhala kariyacha, sikhaha anyere
ei-mata bhala karma seho yena kare

"The Lord would say: You have done well. Please teach this to others so that they may act in the same way."

The need for care and eagerness in the execution of devotional service is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 24.171) as follows:

yatnagraha vina bhakti na janmaya preme

"Without sincere endeavor in devotional service, one cannot attain love of Godhead." The need for giving up the association of logicians is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 12.183) as follows:

tarkika-srigala-sange bheu-bheu kari
sei mukhe ebe sada kahi `krishna' `hari'

"In the association of the jackals known as logicians, I simply continued to bark a resounding `bheu bheu.' Now, from the same mouth I am chanting the holy names Krishna and Hari."

An example of unhappiness by seeing the distress of others is given in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 15.162-163) as follows:

jivera duhkha dekhi' mora hridaya bidare
sarva-jivera papa prabhu deha' mora sire
jivera papa lana muni karon naraka bhoga
sakala jivera, prabhu, ghucaha bhava-roga

"My Lord, my heart breaks to see the sufferings of all conditioned souls; therefore I request You to transfer the karma of their sinful lives upon my head. My dear Lord, let me suffer perpetually in a hellish condition, accepting all the sinful reactions of all living entities. Please finish their diseased material life."

The need for a pure heart is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 15.274) as follows:

sahaje nirmala ei `brahmana'-hridaya
krishnera vasite ei yogya-sthana haya

"The heart of a brahmana is by nature very clean; therefore it is a proper place for Krishna to sit."

One must give up envy, or the distress arising from seeing other's prosperity. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 15.275) this is described as follows:

`matsarya'-candala kene ihan vasaile
parama pavitra sthana apavitra kaile

"Why have you allowed jealousy to sit here also? Because of this, you have become like a candala, the lowest of men, and you have also contaminated a most purified place-your heart."

One must be a staunch follower of Lord Caitanya. As described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 16.148):

prabhu lagi' dharma-karma chade bhakta-gana
bhakta-dharma-hani prabhura na haya sahana

"All the devotees would abandon all kinds of duties for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sake, yet the Lord did not like the devotees' giving up their promised duties."

The need to completely abandon faults is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.91) as follows:

se kene rakhibe tomara sesha vishaya-bhoga?
roga khandi' sad-vaidya na rakhe sesha roga

"Why should Krishna allow you to maintain a last bit of material attachment? After vanquishing a disease, a good physician does not allow any of the disease to remain."

The devotee's faith in the conclusions of devotional service is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.62) as follows:

`sraddha'-sabde-visvasa kahe sudridha niscay
krishne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krita haya

"By rendering transcendental loving service to Krishna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional service, is called sraddha."

The need for total surrender is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.102) as follows:

sarana lana kare krishne atma-samarpana
krishna tare kare tat-kale atma-sama

"When a devotee thus fully surrenders unto Krishna's lotus feet, Krishna accepts him as one of His confidential associates.

One must give up atheistic philosophies with repentance as described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 25.43):

paramartha-vicara gela, kari matra `vada'
kahan mukti paba, kahan krishnera prasada

"The atheists, headed by the Mayavadi philosophers, do not care for liberation or Krishna's mercy. They simply continue to put forward false arguments and counter-theories to atheistic philosophy, not considering or engaging in spiritual matters."

A devotee should always be neutral. As described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 3.23):

`nirapeksha' nahile `dharma' na yaya rakshane
"Without being neutral one cannot protect religious principles."

The devotee should be afraid of insulting other Vaishnavas. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 3.164):

mahantera apamana ye desa-grame haya
eka janara doshe saba desa ujadaya

"Wherever an advanced devotee is insulted, for one man's fault the entire town or place is afflicted."

The devotees' duty is to practice forgiveness and show mercy. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 3.213, 237) and the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 13.182):

bhakta-svabhava,-ajna-dosha kshama karedine daya kare,-ei sadhu-svabhava haya
prabhu bole,-vipra saba danta parihari'
bhaja giya krishna, sarvabhute daya kari'

"A characteristic of a pure devotee is that he excuses any offense by an ignorant rascal. It is a characteristic of all saintly persons to be kind toward the poor and fallen. The Lord said: O brahmana! Give up all pride and serve Krishna by showing mercy to all." The devotee's duty is to preach by setting a good example. As explained in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.103):

`acara', `pracara',-namera karaha `dui' karya
tumi-sarva-guru, tumi jagatera arya

"You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and by your preaching. Therefore you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world."

The devotee's duty is to follow Vaishnava etiquette. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.130):

tathapi bhakta-svabhava-maryada-rakshana
maryada-palana haya sadhura bhushana

"Still, it is the characteristic of a devotee to observe and protect Vaishnava etiquette. Maintenance of Vaishnava etiquette is the ornament of a devotee."

One should consider a Vaishnava's body spiritual. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.191) it is said:

prabhu kahe,-vaishnava-deha `prakrita' kabhu naya
`aprakrita' deha bhaktera `cid-ananda-maya'

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: The body of a devotee is never material. It is considered to be transcendental, full of spiritual bliss."

There is a need for worshiping Krishna in a solitary place after completing one's activities of household life and sense gratification. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.214-216) it is described:

eka-vatsara rupa-gosanira gaude vilamba haila
kutumbera `sthiti'-artha vibhaga kari' dila
gaude ye artha chila, taha anaila
kutumba-brahmana-devalaye banti' dila
saba manah-katha gosani kari' nirvahana
niscinta hana sighra aila vrindavana

"Srila Rupa Gosvami was delayed in Bengal for a year because he was dividing his money among his relatives to situate them in their proper positions. He collected whatever money he had accumulated in Bengal and divided it among his relatives, the brahmanas, and the temples. Thus after finishing all the tasks he had on his mind, he returned to Vrindavana fully satisfied."

The devotee must give up the desire for fame. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 5.78):

mahanubhavera ei sahaja `svabhava' haya
apanara guna nahi apane kahaya

"This is a natural characteristic of those advanced in devotional service. They do not personally speak of their own good qualities."

A devotee should have no faith in worldly poetry. As described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 5.107):

gramya-kavira kavitva sunite haya `duhkha'
vidagdha-atmiya-vakya sunite haya `sukha'

"Hearing the poetry of a person who has no transcendental knowledge and who writes about the relationships between man and woman simply causes unhappiness, whereas hearing the words of a devotee fully absorbed in ecstatic love causes great happiness."

It is an offense to disobey the order of the spiritual master. The result is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 8.99):

guru upeksha kaile, aiche phala haya
krame isvara-paryanta aparadhe thekaya

"If one's spiritual master rejects him, one becomes so fallen that he, like Ramacandra Puri, commits offenses even to the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

A devotee should give up the desire for liberation and pride of learning. As described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 13.109-110):

ramadasa yadi prathama prabhure milila
mahaprabhu adhika tanre kripa na karila
antare mumukshu tenho, vidya-garvavan

"When Ramadasa Visvasa met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord did not show him any special mercy, although this was their first meeting. Within his heart, Ramadasa Visvasa was an impersonalist who desired to merge into the existence of the Lord, and he was very proud of his learning."

Humility is essential for a devotee. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 20.28) it is described:

premera svabhava-yahan premera sambandha
sei mane,-`krishne mora nahi prema-gandha'

"Wherever there is a relationship of love of Godhead, the natural symptoms are that the devotee does not think himself a devotee, but always thinks that he has not even a drop of love for Krishna."

A devotee should give up the desire for conquest. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 13.173):

`dig-vijaya kariba'-vidyara karya nahe
isvare bhajile, sei vidya `satya' kahe

"Conquering the world by means of material education is not desirable. If one engages himself in devotional service, his education is perfected."

A devotee should know the Lord is one without a second and understand His relationship with all living entities. In the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 16.76-78, 80-81) it is said:

suna, bapa, sabarai ekai isvara
nama-matra bheda kare hinduye yavane
paramarthe `eka' kahe korane purane
eka suddha nitya-vastu akhanda avyaya
paripurna hana vaise sabara hridaya
se prabhura nama-guna sakala jagate
balena sakale matra nija-sastra mate
ye isvara, se punah sabara bhava laya
himsa karilei se, tahana himsa haya

"My dear Sir, there is only one God for all living entities. The difference between the Moslem God and the Hindu God is in name only. According to all scriptures-Koran or Purana-God is one. He is the nondual, eternal, transcendental Absolute Truth, infallible and perfectly complete, and in that capacity He resides in everyone's heart. The Supreme Lord's transcendental name and qualities are glorified throughout the world according to the respective scriptures. The Lord accepts everyone's individual mood of surrender. By committing violence to others, you commit violence to Him."

How a devotee should be always firmly fixed on the path of devotional service is seen in the following verse from Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 16.94):

khanda khanda hai' deha yaya yadi prana
tabu ami vadane na chadi hari-nama

"Even if my body is cut into pieces and I loose my life, I will never give up chanting the Lord's holy name."

How a devotee should deal with an enemy is described in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 16.113):

e saba jivere krishna! karaha prasada
mora drohe nahu e sabara aparadha

"O Krishna! Be merciful on these living entities! Forgive their offense of torturing me." A devotee must give up the symptoms of pride such as desire for fame and cheating. In the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 16.228-229) it is said:

bada loka kari' loka januka amare
apanare prakatai dharma-karma kare
e sakala dambhikera krishne priti nai
akaitava haile se krishna-bhakti pai

"He is presenting himself as a important person by imitating some religious sentiments. Actually this arrogant and deceitful brahmana has no love for Krishna. To achieve the devotional service of Lord Krishna one has to be free from duplicity."

A devotee must reject caste consciousness in his spiritual life. In the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 16.238-239) it is stated:

adhama kulete yadi vishnu-bhakti haya
tathapi se-i se pujya-sarva-sastre kaya
uttama kulete janmi' sri krishne na bhaje
kule tara ki karibe, narakete maje

"If a devotee of the Lord is born in a low-class family, he is still worthy of worship; that is the injunction of the scriptures. And if someone is born in a high-class family but does not worship the lotus feet of Sri Krishna, then his high birth is useless and he falls to hell."

The benefits of loud congregational chanting of the holy names is described in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 16.284-286) as follows:

japa kartta haite ucca-sankirtana-kari
sata-guna adhika se puranete dhari
suna vipra! mana diya ihara karana
japi' apanare sabe karaye poshana
ucca kari' karile govinda sankirtana
jantu-matra suninai paya vimocana

"The Puranas say that a person who chants the Lord's name loudly is a hundred times more pious that the person who chants to himself. O brahmana, listen carefully to the reason behind this. One who chants softly liberates only himself, but one who loudly chants the names of Govinda liberates himself along with all living entities who hear him."

A devotee should not carry the burden of the scriptures like an ass; rather, he should understand their purport. The Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 1.158) confirms this in the following words:

sastrera na jane marma, adhyapana kare
garddabhera praya yena sastra bahi' mare

"One who teaches the scriptures without knowing their purport is like an ass carrying the load of all the scriptures."

How a devotee should give up enviousness is explained in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 1.240) as follows:

bhakti-hina karma kona phala nahi paya
sei karma bhakti-hina-parahimsa yaya

"Activities that are devoid of bhakti produce no result. Such activities result in violence to others."

A devotee should give up seva-aparadhas, or offenses in serving the Deity. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 5.121):

seva-vigrahera prati anadara ya `ra
vishnu-sthane aparadha sarvatha tahara

"One who has no respect for the Deity form of the Lord is constantly committing offenses at the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu."

If a person is internally situated as a Vaishnava even though externally he maintains attachment for sense gratification, then he is counted as a devotee. As described in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 7.22, 38):

vishayira praya tan 'ra paricchada saba
cinite na pare keha tinho ye vaishnava
asiya rahila navadvipe gudharupe
parama bhogira praya sarvaloke dekhe

"Pundarika Vidyanidhi dressed like a materialistic. No one was able to recognise that he was a great Vaishnava. He came to Nabadvipa and remained there incognito. Everyone saw him as a grossly materialistic person."

A devotee should not maintain false pride due to material education and so on. In the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 9.234) it is explained:

ki karibe vidya, dhana, rupa, yasa, kule
ahankara badi' saba padaye nirmule

"What is the use of education, wealth, beauty, fame, and high birth? They only increase one's pride to the point of his falldown."

A devotee should remain fixed in the principles of Vaishnavism, he should not support various opinions for social reasons. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 10.185, 188, 192):

kshane dante trina laya, kshane jathi mare
o khada jathiya veta na dekhibe more
prabhu bale,-o veta yakhana yatha yaya
sei mata katha kahi' tathai misaya
bhakti-sthane uhara haila aparadha
etake uhara haila darasana badha

"Sometimes he takes straw in his mouth, and sometimes he beats Me with a stick. Therefore he is not fit to see Me. The Lord continued: Wherever he goes, he mixes with those people and talks like them. He is an offender at the feet of Bhakti, that is why he is forbidden to see Me."

The fault of taking sides against a Vaishnava is described in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 13.160) as follows:

ye papishtha eka vaishnavera paksha haya
anya vaishnavere ninde, sei yaya kshaya

"A sinful person who takes the side of one Vaishnava and condemns another is vanquished."

A devotee should not commit sinful activities after accepting the holy name of the Lord. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 13.225):

prabhu bale,-tora ara na karis papa
jagai madhai bale,-ara nare bapa

"The Lord said: Do not commit further sins. Jagai and Madhai replied: Never again, O Lord."

How a devotee should remain aloof from the rules and regulations is explained in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 16.144, 147):

yata vidhi, nishedha-sakalai bhakti dasa
ihate yahara duhkha, sei yaya nasa
vishaya madandha saba e marma na jane
suta dhana kula-made vaishnava na cine

"All the rules and regulations are servants of Bhakti. One who has trouble accepting this is destroyed. One who is blinded by false pride can never understand this secret. Being proud of his children, wealth, and high birth, he fails to recognize a Vaishnava."

A devotee should avoid conversing with an atheist. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 17.19):

nagare haila kiba pashandi sambhasha
ei va karane nahe prema parakasa

"Did I speak with an atheist in town? Is that why love of God is not manifesting today?" Giving up relationships with nondevotees is most essential; Srila Advaita Prabhu gives the following statement in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 19.175):

yadi mora putra haya, haya va kinkara
vaishnavaparadhi muni na dekhon gocara

"Even if he is My son or servant, I will never see the face of a person who offends Vaishnavas." There is no comparison between bhakti and pious activities. As explained in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 23.54):

prabhu bale,-tapah kari na karaha bala
vishnu-bhakti sarva-sreshtha janaha kevala

"The Lord said: Don't think you have become powerful by performing austerities. Know for certain that devotion to Lord Vishnu is the highest goal."

The hypocrites and cheaters sometimes advertise themselves as incarnations and thus increase their pride. A devotee should cautiously avoid their company. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 14.82-83):

madhye madhye matra kata papi-gana giya
loka nashta kare apanare laoyaiya
udara bharana lagi' papishtha sakale
`raghunatha' kari' apanare keha bale

"Sometimes a group of evil persons would try to mislead people in general from the spiritual path with wrong advice. These sinners simply cheat people in order to fill their bellies by claiming to be Lord Rama."

Devotees should constantly take shelter of the holy names while passing their lives without duplicity or sin. Their is no greater religious principle than this. The Caitanya-bhagavata (Adi 14.139-140) gives the following conclusion:

ataeva kali-yuga nama-yajna sara
ara kona dharma kaile nahi haya para
ratri dina nama laya khaite suite
tahara mahima vede nahi pare dite

"Therefore, in Kali-yuga chanting the holy name is the essential religious principle; no other religious practice can help one cross the material ocean of nescience. Even the Vedas are unable to sufficiently glorify one who chants the Lord's holy name day and night in all situations."

Human beings should worship Krishna by considering the natural qualities and accepting the livelihoods of the previous and later mahajanas. Pure devotional service is proportionately enhanced by following a proper occupation, otherwise it is never achieved.


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