Chapter 10 - Sadhana of the Jiva, Pure Bhakti

A factual delineation of the sadhana of the jiva will be presented, through examination of the nature of pure bhakti, the qualification for bhakti, the types of bhakti and the various services of bhakti.

The nature of pure bhakti is discussed by Sri Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu purva vibhaga 1.22, as well as Caitanya Caritamrta  Madhya 19,.167:

anyabhilasita sunyam jnana-karmady anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttamam

To serve Krsna in a favorable mood by all the senses is called Krsna bhakti. Being free from all desires except the desire to increase devotion to Krsna, without worshiping any other personality or devata as another Lord; being devoted to Krsna alone, giving up all practice of jnana and karma, and serving Krsna with all the senses in a favorable mood, is called pure devotional service.

Favorable (anukulya) refers to a pleasing attitude towards Krsna. It is possible to cultivate realization of Brahman or Paramatma by following the paths of jnana or yoga. But these are not bhakti (not being pleasing to the Lord.). By the word "jnana" is meant cultivation of analytical knowledge and search for undifferentiated Brahman. However, for the perfection of the jiva, it is very necessary to have knowledge ´┐Żjnana) of the true nature of jiva, jada (matter) and Bhagavan and their relationships. This is included within the cultivation of devotional service.

By the word 'karma" is meant daily (nitya), periodic (naimittika) or personally motivated (kamya) rituals such as prayascitta or atonement ceremonies, which are directed away from the Lord. Though the acts of service to Krsna seem almost like karma, because of the distinct quality of faith in Krsna, the activities are called bhakti rather than karma. The practice of detachment (vairagya) which is practiced before taking to bhakti is also a type of karma. Only the unmotivated, direct desire of the soul to serve Krsna is seen in the activities of bhakti.

There are four qualities in the state of sadhana bhakti and two qualities in the stage of perfection of bhakti. 

klesa-ghni subhada moksa-laghuta-krt sudurlabha
sandrananda-visesatma sri-krsnakarsini ca sa

1 The first characteristic of sadhana bhakti is the destruction of miseries, constituted of ignorance (seed of sin), desire for sinful action, and sinful action (and reaction); and  ignorance (seed of punya), desire to do punya and the actions of punya.  

2 The second characteristic of sadhana bhakti is the bestowal all good qualities and pure happiness on the jiva, as well manifesting the affection from all living entities and to all living entities.

3 The third characteristic is to consider liberation as very insignificant.

4 The fourth characteristic is its rare attainment. Even after performing all the activities of bhakti for a long time if the person does not have deep attachment to the goal, he cannot attain prema.

5 The fifth quality is the intense bliss.

6 The sixth qualitiy is the ability to attract even Krsna. The last two manifest in the stage of perfection.
  (B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga 1.17)

The first four qualities are also seen in the perfect stage of bhakti. The first part of the perfect stage is called bhava bhakti. At this stage, the first four qualities appear in full. The final stage of perfect bhakti is prema. In the stage of practice, there is sadhana bhakti and in the stage of perfection (sadhya) there is bhava bhakti and prema bhakti. Pure logic can never hope to capture the essence of bhakti. However if logic is obedient to favorable inclination to Krsna, then bhakti may be understood. In this chapter only sadhana bhakti will be discussed.

The quality of sadhana bhakti is this:

krti-sadhya bhavet sadhya-bhava sa sadhanabhidha
nitya-siddhasya bhavasya prakatyam hrdi sadhyata

When a person tries to attain the goal of pure bhakti (sadhya-bhava) through utilization of his senses (krti-aadhya) it is called sadhana bhakti. The goal is eternally perfect (nitya-siddhasya), but that practice by which it becomes manifest in the heart (prakatyam hrdi) is called sadhana. ( B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga 2.2)

Types of Bhakti

The import here is that the suitable method by which a person is able to absorb his mind in Krsna is called sadhana bhakti or upaya bhakti. This sadhana bhakti is of two types: vaidhi and raganuga.

Sadhana bhakti is called vaidhi bhakti when the soul practices devotion to Krsna according to the regulation of scriptures, lacking natural attraction to Krsna. The rules of vaidhi bhakti should be practiced by brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras; by brahmacaris, grhasthas, vanaprasthas and sannyasis. This is glorified in the scriptures.  In the Narada Pancaratra this is also described:

surarse vihita sastre harim uddisya ya kriya
saiva bhaktir iti prokta taya bhaktih para bhavet 

All the activities prescribed in the scriptures to please the Lord are called sadhana bhakti, or upaya bhakti.  By that means para bhakti or sadhya bhakti (upeya bhakti) is attained. (Narada Pancaratra)

Qualificaton (devotees according to faith)

There are three types of people practicing sadhana bhakti.:

sraddhavan jana haya bhakti adhikari
uttama madhyama kanistha sraddha anusari

A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one's faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee or an inferior devotee. (C.C. Madhya 22. 64)

The meaning of faith (sraddha) is this:

sraddhah sabde visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva karma krta haya

By rendering transcendental loving service to Krsna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities.  This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional service is called sraddha. (C.C. Madhya 22.62)

To have firm faith that devotion to Krsna is the only means for the jiva, and that attempts at karma and jnana devoid of devotion are useless-such a favorable inclination of the heart is called faith or sraddha. If a person's faith is deep and unshakeable, he is called an uttama adhikari. One whose faith is moderately firm is called a madhyama adhikari. The person who as no firm faith, such that he has danger of changing faith due to opposing arguments, is called a kanistha adhikari. There are two types of kanisthas: those whose faith is mixed with karma and jnana and those whose faith is free from karma and jnana. Those free from karma and jnana can attain the uttama level through devotee association. Those whose faith is mixed with karma and jnana progress only with great difficulty and the very strong mercy of devotees.

Concerning the mixed faith of a kanistha, Srila Rupa Gosvami has written in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu:

mrdu sraddhasya kathita svalpa karmadhikarita

A person who has only tender faith has a slight tendency to karma. (B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga 2.186)

People of tender faith perform bhakti by means of the varnasrama system and offering of the results of their work (karmarpana). Their bhakti is not real bhakti but a semblance of bhakti (bhakty abhasa): their chanting of Hare Krsna is called shadow namabhasa (chaya namabhasa). If that bhakti harbors material desires or desire for liberation, it is called pratibimba namabhasa. In that case, such persons are called karmis or jnanis but not bhaktas.The kanistha adhikari offering the result of his work or knowledge to Krsna (karma-jnana arpana), without any desire other than to please Krsna (anyabhilasita sunya) is called vaisnavabhasa, or vaisnava praya, almost a vaisnava.

(Bhakti is devoid of cultivation of jnana,and vairagya and desire for mukti)

When Ramananda was defining sadhana bhakti, Mahaprabhu gave the answer "This is external, please say more." That was because this Ramananda was speaking of the vaisnava praya, on the stage of tender faith. Later, when Mahaprabhu replied "This is correct, please say more," Ramananda had begun to discuss pure bhakti. Quoting from Srimad Bhagavatam he gave a description of the devotee with firm faith, who rejects jnana:

jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti sammukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van manobhir
ye prayaso' jita jito'py asi tais trilokyam 

To attempt to understand the Lord by the ascending process, through knowledge gained by the material senses is called asrauta, but Krsna is not obtainable by mind, words and body. The devotee thus gives up the path of logic through observation of temporary external objects by the temporary senses, and hears from the mouths of the devotees devoid of the four defects of illusion, inattention, cheating and limited senses, and with direct realization of the truth. He serves by hearing about and glorifying Krsna with faith. Devoid of all false ego, he dedicates his whole life, body, mind and words, to hearing and chanting the authorized message of bhakti. Though unconquerable, the Lord becomes known and controlled by prema bhakti of this devotee, whatever status he occupies in the three worlds. (Srila Bhaktivinoda's translation) (S.B.10.14.3)

By the accumulation of devotional credits of many lifetimes, the jiva attains faith favorable for development of bhakti.  With this faith, if the devotee minimizes his material needs just to maintain his life, real bhakti will arise. This is not the practice dry renunciation aiming at liberation. 

bhukti-mukti-sprha yavat pisaci hrdi vartate
tavad bhakti sukhasyatra katham abhyudayo bhavet

As long the witches of bhukti and mukti linger in the heart, how can pure bhakti arise? (B.R.S. Purva 2.16)

The desire for mukti is quite contrary to bhakti. Among the five types of mukti (salokya, samipya, sarupya, sarsti and sayujya) sayujya mukti is extremely contrary.  But the devotees do not even aspire for the four other types of mukti. 

As Srimad Bhagavatam says:

salokya sarsti samipya sarupyaikatvam apy uta
diyamanam na grhnanti vina mat sevanam janah

A pure devotee does not accept any kind of liberation-salokya, sarsti, samipya, sarupya or ekatva-even though they are offered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. ( S.B.3.29.13)

There is no special qualification for sadhana bhakti as there is in varnasrama. Any person who develops faith (as described above) has the qualification for bhakti. Such a person, who is qualified for bhakti, (being on a higher level of qualification) is not obligated to perform karma or to indulge in vikarma. Qualified for bhakti, he has no taste for sinful activity. If a sinful act by chance takes place, its effect is destroyed by bhakti itself. One does not depend on atonements (prayascitta).

As Srimad Bhagavatam says:

svapada-mulam bhajatah priyasya
tyaktanya bhavasya harih paresah
vikarma yac chotpatitam kathancid
dhunoti sarvam hrdi sannivistah 

One who has thus given up all other engagements and has taken full shelter at the lotus feet of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is very dear to the Lord.  Indeed, if such a surrendered soul accidentally commits some sinful activity, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is seated within everyone's heart, immediately takes away the reaction to such sin. (S.B.11.5.42)

Proper determination of ones qualification is the cause of all good qualities. Performing actions not suitable to ones qualification is the cause of all faults.

sve sve'dhikare ya nista sa gunah parikirtitah
viparyayas tu dosah syad ubhayor esa nirnayah

Steadiness in one's own position (proper qualification for actions) is declared to be actual piety, whereas deviation from one's position is considered impiety. In this way the two are definitely ascertained. (S.B.11.21.2)

Performing the activities of devotion with steadiness, as mentioned in the above verse, is the direction of the scriptures. 

The activities of bhakti

Being qualified with the requisite faith, the devotee performs the activities of vaidhi bhakti according to the scriptural injunctions. There are many angas or activities of bhakti, but they may be abbreviated as sixty-four. These are: taking shelter of an authorized guru, taking initiation and teachings from guru, serving the guru, following the path of the previous devotees, inquiry about the ultimate truth, renouncing material enjoyment for Krsna, living in a devotional tirtha, accepting what is necessary to maintain the body, observing ekadasi, respect for the asvattha and dhatri trees. These ten angas are the beginning of devotional service, and must be practiced.

The next ten are: giving up material association, not making unqualified disciples, giving up big material endeavours, giving up studying of books devoid of bhakti, or superificial study of bhakti sastra, or argumentation on the same, not being miserly in dealings, not falling into lamentation, giving up disrespect to devatas, not giving agitation to other entities by ones work, giving up seva and nama aparadhas, avoiding hearing criticism of Krsna or his devotees. These ten are practiced by avoidance. The chief among all the twenty are taking shelter of guru, taking initiation and serving the guru.

Wearing the marks of a Vaisnava, wearing the names on the body, receiving the flower remnants, dancing before the Lord, offering obeisances, standing when the Lord approaches, following the procession of the Lord, going to the temple, parikrama, deity worship, service to the Deity, singing, sankirtana, japa, vijnapti, offering praise to the Lord, tasting prasadam, taking the foot wash, smelling the incense or flowers, touching the deity, seeing the deity, performing aratrika, seeing festivals, receiving the Lord's glance, offering things dear to oneself, putting forth all effort for Krsna's sake, surrender to the Lord's will in all cases, service to tulasi, Bhagavatam, Mathura and Vaisnavas, holding festivals along with the devotees, observance of Kartika vrata, celebration of Janmastami etc. serving the deity, relishing the meaning of the Bhagavatam in association of devotees, association with advanced devotees, nama sankirtana and living in Mathura.

Even with a little practice of the last five items, a person can attain bhava bhakti. Amongst the items, some are engagement for the body, some for the senses, and some for the mind. In other words, vaidhi sadhana bhakti may be defined as the method of engaging the body, mind and senses in Krsna's service. Some devotees reach perfection by practice of one item, and others practice many. The material results which these activities yield are recorded in the scriptures, but these are only meant for encouraging the materialistic person.  Actually the main result of any of the items of sadhana bhakti is one-attraction of the jiva to Krsna.

Though the items of bhakti are classified as sixty-four, they are factually only nine items.

As Srimad Bhagavatam says:

sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atmanivedanam
iti pumsarpita visnau bhaktis cen nava laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha tan manye'dhitam uttamam

Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one's best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him-these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge. (S.B.7.5.23-24)

Caitanya Caritamrta says the same in Madhya Lila. 22.118.

Those knowledgeable of bhakti do not say that the acts of karma are at any time an anga or activity of bhakti. Unless an action loses its fruitive intention and attains the form and name of causeless devotion, it does not become bhakti. Before karma transforms its very nature, it undergoes three stages: niskama karma (karma without material desire), karmarpana (offering the results to Krsna) and karma yoga. When a person passes these three stages, the very form of karma (karma svarupa) changes and becomes devotional service.

Thus Srimad Bhagavatam says:

tavat karmani kurvita na nirvidyeta yavata
mat katha sravanadau va sraddha yavan na jayate

As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for devotional service by sravanam kirtanam visnoh, one has to act according to the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions. ( S.B.11.20.9

When a person becomes indifferent to karma, karma simply becomes jnana. When real faith in topics of Krsna arises, karma changes into bhakti.

Concerning niskama karma and karmarpana, Narada says:

naiskarmyam apy acyuta bhava varjitam
na sobhate jnanam alam niranjanam
kutah punah sasvad abhadram isvare
na carpitam karma yad apy akaranam

When brahma jnana, essentially devoid of both karma and devotion to Acyuta, has no good qualities, naturally karma, which by nature is inauspicious, even if it becomes niskama, without desire, cannot attain any good qualities, as long as it is not offered the Lord. ( S.B. 1.5.12

How karma offered to the Lord  (karmarpana) becomes bhakti is described by Narada in Bhagavatam:

amayo yas ca bhutanam jayate yena suvrata
tad eva hy amayam dravyam na punati cikitsitam
evam nrnam kriya yogah sarve samsrti- hetavah
ta evatma vinasaya kalpante kalpitah pare
yad atra kriyate karma bhagavat-paritosanam
jnanam yat tad adhinam hi bhakti-yoga- samanvitam
kurvana yatra karmani bhagavac-ciksaya' sakrt
grnanti guna-namani krsnasyanusmaranti ca

If one tries to cure a sickness by the very cause of the sickness, the disease will never be cured. The cause of the disease of samsara of the jiva is karma kanda. Whether it is niskama (performed without desire for resutls), or offered to the Lord, it still does not yield destruction of samsara. Only after karma is accepted only to the extent of maintaining the body does it lose its nature as karma. Only then can it transform into bhakti. Only when those karmas alone which are favorable for pleasing the Lord are accepted, and the person accepts sambandha jnana concerning bhakti, does all karma become bhakti yoga. Making all actions in relation to Krsna, and accepting the teachings concerning the Lord, the devotee should constantly chant and remember the qualities and names of Krsna. This is the instruction of the scriptures.1 ( S.B. )

Though jnana and vairagya are somewhat favorable for entering bhakti, they are not angas of bhakti. If they become prominent, they harden the heart, and one cannot appreciate bhakti, which is by nature very tender. They are by nature obstacles in the development of relation with Krsna. Devotion is the only cause of bhakti. Rather than practice vairagya, the devotee should practice yukta-vairagya.

anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate

Relating everything in the world as much as possible to Krsna in a favorable way,without being attached, is called yukta vairagya. (B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga 2.125)

Yukta vairagya is necessary in sadhana bhakti, whereas cultivation of knoweldge and false renunciation are not angas of bhakti but contradictory elements.  The display of devotion to gain money or disciples is also far removed from true devotion and is also contradictory to true bhakti.  Qualtities such as proper discrimination are certainly necessary in practice of bhakti, but they are not angas of bhakti.  Yama niyama, ahimsa, cleanliness-the aspects of good character-become splendorous when they take shelter of an anga of bhakti.  They are not independent angas of bhakti.

jnana vairagyadi bhaktira kabhu nahe anga
ahimsa yama niyamadi bule krsna bhakta sanga

The path of speculative knowledge and renunciation is not very essential for devotional service. Indeed, good qualities such as nonviolence and mind and sense control automatically acompany a devotee of Lord Krsna. ( C.C. Madhya 22, 145

Raganuga bhakti

Up until now, vaidhi bhakti has been discussed. Now we will discuss raganuga sadhana bhakti.

isthe svarasiki ragah param avistata bhavet
tan mayi ya bhaved bhaktih satra ragatmikodita

Raga or attachment means intense and natural absorption in the object of love. When devotion to Krsna has this quality it is called ragatmika bhakti. (B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga 104)

The practice of following this mood of ragatmika bhakti is called raganuga bhakti. Just as bhakti which follows the rules of scripture is called vaidhi bhakti, so that bhakti which follows after ragatmika bhakti is called raganuga bhakti. Neither of these is the goal or perfection; both are sadhana or practice. Ragatmika bhakti has two types: kamanuga and sambandhanuga.

The ragatmika bhakti of the inhabitants of Vraja and Mathura is well known. Those who are eager to attain the mood of those devotees are qualified for raganuga sadhana bhakti. Just as the qualification for vaidhi bhakti is faith in scripture, so the qualification for raganuga bhakti is a greed to attain the mood of the ragatmika devotees.

tat tad bhavadi-madhurya-srute dhir yad apeksate
natra sastram na yuktim ca tal lobhotpatti laksanam
krsnam smaran janam casya prestham nija- samihitam
tat tat katha ratis casau kuryad vasam vraje sada
seva sadhaka-rupena siddha-rupena catra hi
tad bhava lipsuna karya vraja-lokanusaratah

Scripture and logic are not the symptoms of greed for the Lord. When the mind eagerly awaits absorption in the mood of love on hearing sweetness of the particular moods it is called pure greed. The method of practice is this: to relish topics of Krsna's pastimes while remembering Krsna and ones chosen Vraja devotee, to live in Vraja constantly, and to serve Krsna in ones body or chosen spiritual body, through service similar to that of the inhabitants of Vraja with  a greed for the mood of ones chosen ideal. (B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga 118, 150-151)

Among the angas of bhakti mentioned in vaidhi bhakti such as kirtana , those which are favorable for his service are accepted  by the practitioner of raganuga. Those aspiring for dasya rasa copy the mood and gestures of Patraka and other servants; those desirous of sakhya rasa copy the mood and gestures of Subala and other friends; those desirous of parental rasa copy the mood and gestures of Yasoda and other elders; and those desirous of madhura rasa copy the mood, service and gestures of the Vraja gopis.

There are two types of ragatmika bhakti: by kama and sambandha. Similarly there are two types of raganuga bhakti: kamanuga and sambandhanuga. Of the two, kamanuga is stronger and more prominent. In kamanuga there are also two divisions: sambhogeccha mayi and tad bhavecchamayi. In the first, the devotee of Krsna is inclined to give pleasure to Krsna; in the latter the devotee relishes the sweet relation between Radha and Krsna. That bhakti in which one indentifies with devotees of Krsna who have conventional relationships with Krsna is called sambandhanuga. In Dvaraka the queens' love is madhura rasa based on sambandha. In Vraja, only kamanuga madhura rasa exists.

Lord Caitanya taught that the tendencies of the jiva suddenly manifest through the raganuga process. Lord Caitanya has approved of worship in the raga mode (raga marga). If a soul by good fortune gets association with devotees who have the mercy of Gauranga, he will certainly become greedy for the mood of the Vraja vasis. But as long as he does not have such association, he must practice vaidhi bhakti. Just on taking shelter of the lotus feet of Gauranga he enters the path of raga. Those eager for the path of spontaneous attraction first practice raganuga bhakti. In practicing raganuga bhakti the person quickily develops an extremely high qualification. On attaining greed for the mood of the Vraja vasis, no other attraction remains. When that greed arises, the practitioner immediately becomes completely disinterested in sinful action, piety, social duty, neglect of duty, forbidden actions, speculation, and dry renunciation.

adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango'tha bhajana kriya
tato' nartha nivrttih syat tato nistha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah

In the beginning, there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krsna consciousness. (B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga, Prema bhakti lahiri,11)

In the vaidhi bhakti process following this gradually method, attainment of bhava takes a long time. However, if greed for the mood of the Vraja vasis develops, the material desires are quickly destroyed, since no other desires have a place. Along with greed for Krsna simultaneously arises bhava.

On the path of raga, however, it is necessary to avoid imitation or deception. If that occurs, it produces disturbance and obstacles, though the person may think that his corrupted raga is real raga. Finally, material association turns that raga into material attraction and causes falldown of the jiva.

The devotee of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, after having developed real greed, practices raganuga bhakti. Following the same rules as vaidhi bhakti, the devotee takes shelter of genuine guru, serves the deity, takes Vaisnava association, studies the devotional literature, lives in a place of the Lord's pastimes, and chants the Lord's name. Along with this, the devotee serves Krsna in an intense mood of love in his spiritual body (siddha deha), following the sentiments of the Vraja vasis.


The fortunate devotee, by taking shelter of the Holy Name, the supreme process, will become absorbed in service on the level of bhava. In chanting the name, diksa and purascarya rites are not necessary. By avoiding nama abhasa and nama aparadha, gradually the person will be able to chant the name continuously. By continuing to chant in this way, the devotee, trying to attain the merciful glance of the deity, will continuously realize the Lord's name and form. Gradually, he will be able to realize simultaneously the name, form and qualities of the deity. Finally, he will realize the name, form and qualities while meditating on the factual pastimes of the Lord. By participation in the pastimes, rasa arises. Rasa is the last attainment. The stage of rasa can be quickly attained if the devotee maintains an intense longing for rasa while chanting the name.

The offenses against the name are ten as mentioned in the Padma Purana:

satam ninda-namnah param aparadham vitanute
yatah khyatim yatam katham u sahate tad vigarham
sivasya sri visnor ya iha guna namadi sakalam
dhiya bhinnam pasyet sa khalu hari-namahitakarah
guror avajna sruti-sastra-nindanam
tatharthavado hari namni kalpanam
namno balad yasya hi papabuddhi
na vidyate yasya yamair hi suddhih
subha-kriya samyam api pramadah
asraddadhane vimukhe'py asrnvati
yas copadesah siva-namaparadhah
srute'pi nama-mahatmye yah priti rahito narah
aham mamadi paramo namni so'py aparadha-krt

To show envy or criticize the pure devotee.

To think that the devatas are equal to Krsna.

To disrespect or disobey the guru.

To disrespect the scriptures.

To think that the glorification of the Name is empty praise.

To imagine meanings of the Name.

To commit sin on the strength of the Name.

To consider the Name on the same level as pious actions.

To give the Name to unqualified people.

Not to have faith in the Name or taste for the Name after hearing its glories, and to accept the Name without giving up material attachment.

There are two types of namabhasa: chaya namabhasa and pratibimba namabhasa: Chanting the name without offense but devoid of proper knowledge is called chaya namabhasa. When, through devotional association, a devotee obtains proper knowledge, it becomes the pure name, suddha nama. When the chanting of the name is covered by material desires, by jnana and karma, or by dry renunciation, it is called pratibimba namabhasa. At times pratibimba namabhasa comes close to chaya nama bhasa and at times it turns to aparadha. For nama aparadha, there is no other remedy than to continually chant in the association of devotees.

Vaisnavas according to chanting

Those vaisnavas who are surrendered to the pure name are called vaisnavas following the footsteps of Sri Caitanya. Those who chant the name in this way periodically are called vaisnavas.  Those who chant in this way continuously are called better vaisnavas. Those whose proximity causes others to chant purely are called the best of vaisnavas.

ataeva yanra mukhe eka krsna nama
sei ta' vaisnava, kariha tanhara sammana
krsna nama nirantara yahara vadane
sei vaisnava srestha, bhaja tanhara carane
yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna nama
tanhare janiha tumi vaisnava pradhana
krama kari kahe prabhu vaisnava laksana
vaisnava vaisnavatara ara vaisnavatama

One who is chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is understood to be a Vaisnava; therefore you should offer all respects to Him. A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is to be considered a first-class Vaisnava, and you duty is to serve his lotus feet.  A first -class Vaisnava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Krsna. In this way Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed about different types of Vaisnavas-the Vaisnava, Vaisnavatara and Vaisnavatama. He thus successively explained all the symptoms of a Vaisnava to the inhabitants of Kulina grama.
 (C.C. Madhya 16.72, 74-75)

One should take association with all these vaisnavas. One should respect the ordinary vaisnava. One should take shelter at the feet of the better and best vaisnavas. Serving such vaisnavas, the householder vaisnava should celebrate and feel satisfied. Whether the vaisnava is a householder or renounced, according to his level, the devotee should respect him. The devotee will seek out and serve the Vaisnavas superior to himself.

sajatiyasaye snigdhe sadhau sangah svato vare
srimad bhagavatarthanam asvado rasikaih saha

One should taste the meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord. (B.R.S. Purva Vibhaga 2.40)

One should not find fault in the previous sins of the vaisnava nor the sins which have disappeared or are about to disappear, nor should he find fault in the accidental commission of sin.

na prakrtatvam iha bhaka-janasya pasyet

One should not see the devotee from the material point of view. (Upadesamrta  6)

The householder should perform only activities leading to the spiritual goal, and not involve himself in the sinful activities of the materialist. He should show appropriate compassion for all jivas. Considering himself fallen, he should give proper respect to all others, not demanding respect from others. The householder, being unattached to family life, should blend it with things related to Krsna. Accepting only what is necessary, he should practice relishing the chanting of the name. When the taste for Krsna becomes strong and the taste of material enjoyment becomes completely destroyed, a natural sense of detachment will arise due to absence of material attachment. Such a state will not appear by endeavor alone.


For practice of both types of bhakti, the bona fide guru is necessary. The guru engages the candidate of vaidhi bhakti according to his inclinations.  He teaches what rules to observe and how to eliminate the obstacles. The guru shows the candidate of raganuga bhakti how to cultivate suitable rasa corresponding to the disciple's natural taste.

There are two types of taste of greed: temporary and natural. Sometimes devotees hear about the qualities of Nanda or Subala, derive great bliss and sometimes show similar sentiments, but this bliss and the show of sentiments are short-lived. This is called temporary greed. There is no use in such a show. It is necessary for the guru to carefully examine which rasa -dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhura-gives natural greed. Detecting ones natural sentiment, the guru will give teachings according to that mood. If this is not done, then the instructed mood will not be permanent, due to the unsuitability to the disciple. It should be noted that not all seekers will be qualified for madhura rasa. If a guru finds it impossible for him to decide the rasa of the disciple, he will honestly admit his inability to the disciple and direct him to approach a suitable guru. The disciple has no alternative but to take shelter of the lotus feet of the bona fide guru.

For fear of enlarging the book, I have made a summary study of sadhana bhakti. Those who have desire to know more about this can study the Purva Vibhaga of Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu and the Bhakti Sandarbha.


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