NBS 4: Pure and Mixed Devotion
Although Nārada has been expertly analyzing
It is not only immature young
To say that
A Vaiṣṇava compares the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa or Lord Caitanya to the unlimited sky. Many birds fly in the sky, but some fly higher according to their abilities. In the society of devotees, realized souls share their realizations, but no one presumes to describe
Even a qualified devotee may not be able to put his exact experience of love of God into words. Language has its limits for conveying experience, but it may function like the branch of the tree that helps us locate the moon in the sky. In describing the gradual development of
Lord Caitanya went on to describe the combination of devotional ecstasies known as
Nārada does not say that the subject matter of
And yet learning the science of
The sages at Naimiṣāraṇya praised the speaker Sūta Gosvāmī in a similar way:
For realization of the most advanced spiritual knowledge, such as the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, the devotee has to be extremely well qualified. As Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja says, "Unto one who is able to understand, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has shown mercy by giving him the association of the servant of His own servant" (Cc
In his later years, when Lord Caitanya exhibited His pastimes of entering intensely into the mood of Rādhārāṇī in separation from Kṛṣṇa, He shared this
Nārada Muni's point in this
We should not think that only a fixed number of intimate devotees can receive the
namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāyate
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, who is more magnanimous than any other
What passes for love in the material world often sounds and appears like
Unlike the pleasure that comes from exchanges of material so-called love, the pleasure of
Unlike mortal love affairs, in
Lord Kṛṣṇa describes this stage of perfection in the
yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi sa ca me na praṇaśyati
"For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me." Śrīla Prabhupāda writes,
To help us understand pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
yaṁ śyāmasundaram acintya-guṇa-svarūpaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Śyāmasundara, Kṛṣṇa Himself, with inconceivable, innumerable attributes, and whom the pure devotees see in their heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love."
In his purport, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī writes,
What prevents most of us from seeing Kṛṣṇa with eyes of love? We have a "cataract" on our eyes that consists of our material attachments. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa states,
nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yoga-māyā-samāvṛtaḥ
mūḍho 'yaṁ nābhijānāti loko mām ajam avyayam
"I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible" (
Nārada is describing the ultimate stage of
It may seem as if we have been suddenly dropped from the heights. Nārada has been describing the highest stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and now he is discussing secondary devotion. But Nārada's course of instruction is well planned, practical, and realistic. He wants us to attain the higher stages, but, as Lord Kṛṣṇa says,
The preparatory stages of
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janā sukṛtino 'rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
"O best among the Bhāratas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me: the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute."
akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā mokṣa-kāma udāra-dhīḥ
tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param
"A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead."
The devotees who serve Kṛṣṇa in order to satisfy selfish desires are called
Lord Kṛṣṇa substitutes the nectar of His service for one's attraction to petty things. Who else could do this but the merciful and all-knowing Personality of Godhead? The stage of secondary devotion, therefore, is not meant for permanent residence; rather, it is an auspicious stage from which to go forward. Since any progress the conditioned soul makes toward the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord is favorable for him, secondary devotional service is not unimportant, just as the first steps a baby takes as he attempts to walk are crucial for his development.
Worship of the Lord in the mode of goodness (
In his purport to this passage, Śrīla Prabhupāda explains the key word
Still, despite their separatist mentality, such mixed devotees are blessed, for if they begin executing devotional service under the guidance of teachers who are in pure goodness (
Nārada assures us that everyone can speedily advance by practicing
prāyeṇālpāyuṣaḥ sabhya kalāv asmin yuge janāḥ
mandāḥ su-manda-matayo manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ
"O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky, and, above all, always disturbed."
The characteristics of the people of this age are all disqualifications for spiritual life. In previous millennia the human condition was much more favorable for spiritual advancement. In the Satya-yuga almost all people were in the mode of goodness, and society was peaceful and religious. At that time the recommended form of religion was meditation. The sage Vālmīki is said to have meditated sixty thousand years before writing the
Even in former ages, when more difficult processes were recommended, the goal was always
kaler doṣa-nidhe rājan asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet
"My dear king, although Kali-yuga is full of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa
In ignorance and defiance of the recommended
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te
"This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it" (Bg.
Aside from the proof of
The potency of
Nondevotees may ask for empirical proof: "Show us your Kṛṣṇa. Prove that He is God. We want to see Him lift Govardhana Hill." But their demand for proof cannot be satisfied in that way. Lord Kṛṣṇa reveals Himself in His original form only to His devotees:
nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yoga-māyā-samāvṛtaḥ
mūḍho 'yaṁ nābhijānāti loko mām ajam avyayam
"I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible" (Bg.
To the atheists, God gives proof of His existence when He appears as death and takes everything away. But God does not manifest His internal potency to the faithless. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "Even if one is perfected by realization of impersonal Brahman or localized Paramātmā, he cannot possibly understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, without being in Kṛṣṇa consciousness" (Bg.
Furthermore, bhakti is the embodiment of peace and supreme ecstasy.
bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
"One in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries" (
Śrīla Prabhupāda calls this verse "the peace formula," the sure method for achieving both individual and collective tranquillity. When people who temporarily control some property ignore the Lord's proprietorship over all that be and claim that they themselves are the sole proprietors and enjoyers of the world, and when people in positions of leadership claim to be the best friends of their dependents but fail to give them a chance to acquire transcendental knowledge, then the result is not peace but agitation, chaos, and war. Peace comes when we recognize Lord Kṛṣṇa as the supreme ruler, proprietor, and friend.
Regarding happiness, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī defines three types: "(1) happiness derived from material enjoyment, (2) happiness derived by identifying oneself with the Supreme Brahman, and (3) happiness derived from Kṛṣṇa consciousness" (
In the beginning of his commitment, a devotee may fear that he is somehow jeopardizing his future by fully surrendering to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Arjuna worried that if he took up the meditative
tyaktvā sva-dharmaṁ caraṇāmbujaṁ harer
bhajann apakvo 'tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vābhadram abhūd amuṣya kiṁ
ko vārtha āpto 'bhajatāṁ sva-dharmataḥ
"One who has forsaken his material occupation to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a nondevotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything" (
Not only should a devotee reject the idea that he is somehow missing out on material happiness, but he should also be free of worry that he is neglecting his worldly responsibilities. It is a fact that everyone born into the material world has many obligations and moral debts. But a life of dedication to the Supreme Lord frees one—at least from the Lord's point of view—from all other duties:
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam
"Anyone who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, giving up all other obligations, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the demigods, sages, general living entities, family members, humankind, or fore-fathers" (
If a sincere devotee is accused of being irresponsible, or if his life is endangered and it seems as though the cause is his attempt to surrender to Lord Kṛṣṇa, he has no recourse but to pray for the mercy of the Lord. The devotee has surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he cannot take back that surrender in a misguided effort to "save" himself. As Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings,
mārabi rākhabi-yo icchā tohārā
nitya-dāsa prati tuā adhikārā
"Now if You like You can kill me, or if You like You can give me protection. Whatever You like You can do. I am Your eternal servitor. You have every right to deal with me in any way You please."
Lord Kṛṣṇa has strongly criticized the pseudo renunciants who live at the cost of society: "One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender" (
This does not mean, however, that ordinary work is itself the fulfillment of human life. The
How to maintain oneself and one's family and at the same time work for Kṛṣṇa is a great art, and as such it requires the guidance of the Lord's devotee. If obligations to family and society conflict with one's basic spiritual vows, then one must give first priority to the spiritual duties. One who has taken initiation into spiritual life should never give up his vow to chant a quota of holy names daily and to fulfill the basic orders of the spiritual master.
Whether a Vaiṣṇava works in the business world or lives as a renunciant, he should never be embarrassed to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness or doubt the value of preaching. Even if we consider preaching work a debt to humanity, it is a crucial social commitment. Once the mother and father of a young devotee complained to Śrīla Prabhupāda that their son was a full-time student in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. They said they wanted him to become a doctor. Prabhupāda replied that they should let the young man decide for himself, and that in any case, there were many doctors in the world but few serious devotees. Prabhupāda said that the work of the devotee was more important than the work of a physician. A doctor can repair the health of a few hundred people, but even that is temporary. Medical cures do not free the patient from his
Although he may not be an expert politician or economist, a
The preacher stays connected to the world, yet he is transcendental to worldly concerns. Although some
The surrendered devotee, therefore, does not worry about his worldly situation, nor does he support mundane welfare causes. But to satisfy Lord Caitanya and the spiritual masters descending from Him in disciplic succession, he works magnanimously on behalf of all living beings by spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
One should not find entertainment in news of women, money, and atheists.
Nārada has said that a
If we want to be free from
Mundane talks are also known as
In the modern age these injunctions have become more difficult than ever to follow. The airwaves are filled with
We cannot expect to follow Prabhupāda's advice in a vacuum. Unless we have Kṛṣṇa conscious friends to talk with and a society of devotees to live in, we might conclude, "It's impossible to avoid hearing talks of sex, money, and atheists. What am I supposed to do, live alone in a cave?" No, and this is precisely one of the reasons Śrīla Prabhupāda founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness—to give everyone an opportunity to hear
satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanā kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati
"The spiritually powerful message of Godhead can be properly discussed only in a society of devotees, and it is greatly pleasing to hear in that association. If one hears from devotees, the way of transcendental experience quickly opens to him, and gradually he attains firm faith that in due course develops into attraction and devotion."
Our weapons in the campaign against
Nārada previously said that
Nārada has used the word
At the same time, a "holistic" approach is also recommended. That is, we should be confident that our sincere prosecution of
kecit kevalayā bhaktyā vāsudeva-parāyaṇāḥ
aghaṁ dhunvanti kārtsnyena nīhāram iva bhāskaraḥ
"Only a rare person who has adopted complete, unalloyed devotional service to Kṛṣṇa can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive. He can do this simply by discharging devotional service, just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays."
Devotional service is beyond both piety and impiety. By chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, hearing about Lord Kṛṣṇa, and performing other routine services in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one vanquishes all phases of sinful life and all unwanted habits.
The practical application of this principle is to persevere in
Nārada now advises that traits normally considered vices may be dovetailed into favorable devotional service. This does not contradict Nārada's previous statement that pride, anger, and lust should be renounced. A pure devotee is always free of vices, and the practicing
Liberated devotees often apply so-called vices in devotional service, and we can learn the art from them. Hanumān vented his anger upon Rāvaṇa, the enemy of Lord Rāma. Lord Kṛṣṇa instigated Arjuna to become angry so he would fight the Battle of Kurukṣetra. Even Lord Caitanya became angry with the drunken brothers Jagāi and Mādhāi. These are examples of properly directed anger. We cannot stop anger completely. As Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "To try to create a vacuum in the mind is artificial. The vacuum will not remain. However, if one always thinks of Kṛṣṇa and how to serve Kṛṣṇa best, one's mind will naturally be controlled" (
Even anger directed at Kṛṣṇa can be part of devotional service. The
Kaṁsa's hatred of the Lord, however, was not
We should not imitate the transcendental feelings of the pure devotees, but we may become inspired by hearing of them. We should patiently wait for the day when these feelings will naturally manifest within us. At that time we will not be able to stop them even if we want to. Meanwhile we may practice becoming greedy for chances to spread the word of Kṛṣṇa, proud that Kṛṣṇa is our Lord and that we have such an exalted spiritual master in Śrīla Prabhupāda, and angry at the māyic obstacles that prevent us from attaining
As described in Sūtra
As a spiritual master, Nārada has responsibly taught the lower stages of
Out of love, without seeking reward, a devoted servant tries to please his master, and a wife her husband. We see the perfection of servitude in the spiritual world, in Kṛṣṇa's servants like Raktaka, Dāruka, and Patrī, and we see the perfection of a wife's devotion in the queens of Dvārakā. In Lord Kṛṣṇa we find the perfect master and the perfect beloved, and so His servants and wives are eternally liberated as
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda showed an excellent example of
In all of Śrīla Prabhupāda's spontaneous conversations, he was single-mindedly Kṛṣṇa conscious. When he spoke of Kṛṣṇa, he seemed to be talking about his dearmost friend, not merely repeating something he had read. Sometimes his
Being single-pointed in devotional service does not mean shutting out reality. Exclusivity
The devotee who is fixed on Kṛṣṇa has actually attained to the complete truth.
A pure devotee who sees Kṛṣṇa in everything can maintain one-pointed concentration on the Lord, even while performing a wide variety of services for Him. By contrast, materialistic persons cannot be
vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-śākhā hy anantāś ca buddhayo 'vyavasāyinām
"Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched" (Bg.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī describes the materialist in a similar way in the
śrotavyādīni rājendra nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ
apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām
"Those persons who are materially engrossed, being blind to the knowledge of ultimate truth, have many subject matters for hearing in human society, O emperor." Absorbed in political work or scientific research or social and economic betterment, the
The best way to cultivate single-minded devotion to Kṛṣṇa is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa
In the beginning stages, the restless mind balks at the single-minded devotion required to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa for long stretches. The holy name is actually the sweetest nectar, but until we reach the spontaneous stage of devotion, one has to outsmart the mischievous mind. The mind is called
One may ask, "Does Nārada expect
The symptoms of ecstasy should not be imitated, but it is not wrong to aspire to experience them. In
The absence of warm or spontaneous feelings for the Lord may indicate that we are still committing one or more of the ten offenses against the holy name, or that we are indulging in some of the vices mentioned in the
Although the bodily transformations symptomatic of ecstatic love of God (
The influence of pure devotees of the Lord is very great. Their conversations are entirely Kṛṣṇa conscious, and that is why they purify everyone who hears them, and even the place they inhabit. When bona fide devotees perform
The practical effect of a devotee's influence is that people take up spiritual life and abandon their sinful habits. Without devotional reform in society, humanity will degrade to a barbaric species. Prabhupāda writes, "Men face each other in enmity just like cats and dogs snarling.
At least on an individual basis every sane person should save himself by coming forward to render service and to hear from Vaiṣṇavas of the caliber Nārada describes in this
To purify the
When the sage Vidura went to the palace of the Kurus in Hastināpura, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja praised him with the same words Nārada uses here:
In a similar passage, the sage Bhagīratha praised the river Ganges and the saints who bathe in her waters: "When such pure devotees bathe in your water, the sinful reactions accumulated from other people will certainly be counteracted, for such devotees always keep in the core of their hearts the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can vanquish all sinful reactions" (
If the saints are so influential just by their presence, then we can just imagine how much their acts are worshipable and worth following. Most people's actions result in reactions (
Nārada states that the best devotees add spiritual authority even to the scriptures. A striking example of this is Śrīla Prabhupāda's fulfillment of a prediction of Lord Caitanya's recorded in the
pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi-grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma
"In every town and village of the world, My name [the holy name of Kṛṣṇa] will be preached." This statement used to puzzle Vaiṣṇava scholars; some said it was to be taken allegorically. How could
Śrīla Prabhupāda's preaching of the
Nārada will now explain why saintly persons are so auspicious and influential.
Nārada's definitions give us portraits of complete dedication, of love, and of oneness of interest between the Supreme Lord and His devotee. When we read a superb
When Sanātana Gosvāmī met Lord Caitanya, the Lord told him, "Lord Kṣṇa has saved you from life's deepest hell." Sanātana replied, "I do not know who Kṛṣṇa is. As far as I am concerned, I have been released from prison only by Your mercy" (Cc
This is why the place where great devotees reside is a
A great devotee is so dear to the Supreme Lord that his family members receive the Lord's blessings even though they may not appreciate their devotee relative. When Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva rescued His dearmost
Lord Caitanya also gave special mercy to His devotees' relatives. Amogha, the son-in-law of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, blasphemed Lord Caitanya and had to suffer cholera. But Lord Caitanya spared him and said, "You are the object of My affection because you are the son-in-law of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. Everyone in Sārvabhauma's house is very dear to Me, including his maids and servants and even his dog. And what to speak of his relatives?" (Cc
Next Nārada says
Finally Nārada states that with the appearance of a pure devotee, the earth gets a savior. Mother Earth is abused in Kali-yuga in many ways. When Kali-yuga began, Mahārāja Parīkṣit found a
The earth is not a dead mass to be exploited by the human species; rather, she is a living entity meant to be protected. When the earth is protected, she gives ample space and a peaceful and prosperous residence for all living entities. But when human beings plunder the earth, she seeks protection from a magnanimous devotee. Though a devotee may appear to work as a humble mendicant without much power, higher beings and truly learned souls know that a savior has appeared.
The devotee is especially a savior for human beings, most of whom would surely fall down into lower species in their next lives without the devotee's efforts to reform them. According to time, place, and person, every pure-devotee savior teaches the same message: "Do not rot in this material world; follow the word of God and be saved." The world still worships saviors such as Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, and Lord Caitanya. Many other pure devotees continue to appear, as the son of God or as
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not discriminate among devotees based on their birth, wealth, and so on, so why should we? Kṛṣṇa says, "O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women,
Śrīla Prabhupāda states that one should not think, "Oh, here is an American
Only one who is ignorant of the transforming power of
In her prayers to Lord Kapila, Devahūti affirmed that the Lord's holy names possess the transcendental power to transform anyone: "Oh, how glorious are they whose tongues are chanting Your holy name! Even if born in families of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable" (
Here Nārada explains why one should avoid caste-conscious prejudice toward devotees of Kṛṣṇa: because devotees are all one class—they are all His own. And because they belong to the Supreme Lord (
ārādhanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param
tasmāt parataraṁ devi tadīyānāṁ samarcanam
"Of all types of worship, worship of Lord Viṣṇu is best, and better than the worship of Lord Viṣṇu is the worship of His devotee, the Vaiṣṇava" (
In a general sense,
samo 'haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu na me dveṣyo 'sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
"I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend—is in Me—and I am also a friend to him."
During a conversation with Sanātana Gosvāmī and Haridāsa Ṭhākura in Jagannātha Purī, Lord Caitanya once elaborately explained the same truth expressed in this
vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ
"The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle
On hearing this quote, Haridāsa said, "What You have spoken deals with external formalities." Lord Caitanya then revealed His inner thoughts regarding His love for His devotees:
Lord Caitanya then further explained the glories of devotional service and how it transforms a devotee's body into spiritual existence.
In conclusion, the body of a pure devotee is never material. Even if it appears so, Kṛṣṇa still accepts the devotee as dear and embraces him as His own. By the Lord's mercy, the devotee is spiritualized, and in his transcendental body he renders service to the Lord's lotus feet.