The Transcendence of Exclusive Devotion

Oct 10 2022 - Krishna Talk 244

During the Rājasūya-yajña of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, Kṛṣṇa mentioned that when the yajña will be finished then a particular bell will ring automatically. In this way everyone would know that the yajña had been completed. However, when everything was finished, the bell did not ring.

Then Bhīma spoke to Kṛṣṇa, “The bell is not ringing, although the whole yajña has ended.”

“No, one thing is still remaining,” Kṛṣṇa replied. 

“What is that?” 

“The Vaiṣṇava-seva, the service of the Vaiṣṇava has not been done.” 

“What do you say? So many munīs, ṛṣīs, Nārada, Vyāsa-deva, and Yourself have eaten and are satisfied, and yet You say that Vaiṣṇava seva has not been done?” 


“Where is that Vaiṣṇava?”

Then Kṛṣṇa indicated, “Go to the outskirts of the town. There you will find one man of the low caste. He does not go anywhere. He is satisfied with taking the name of the Lord. Going on in his own way, he does not care for the passing of the world. His eyes are always full with devotion.”

They went with their chariots to bring that man, and they found an ordinary poor man of the lower class. They wanted to take him to the Rājasūya, and they approached him with folded palms. The man was perplexed: “Oh, so many big men have come to my cottage. What is the matter?”

He was informed, “We have come for you. You must go and take some food there.” What could he do? He could not avoid the situation; so he had to go. Draupadi cooked many palatable dishes. She was thinking that so many rṣīs, munīs, even Lord Kṛṣṇa have been fed, but Vaiṣṇava-seva has not been done. With all her heart’s might she prepared various kinds of cooked food. The man was served, and he took. But still the bell wasn’t ringing.

“What is the matter?” Bhīma asked. “It is finished, but the bell did not ring.” Kṛṣṇa explained, “There must be some kind of offence committed against the Vaiṣṇava seva. So the bell did not ring.”

“What are you saying?”

“Do you have some doubts about something, some misconception against him?”

Then they asked one another if anyone had thought any evil about the man. At last, Draupadi admitted, “I had something in my mind that the man is low-born. I prepared so many curries with utmost skill, but the man mixed all the curries together and ate them. He does not know how to eat because he comes from a very low caste. I had that in my mind.”

Kṛṣṇa said, “Because there is some contempt for the Vaiṣṇava, the bell is not ringing.”

So they had to go to the man once again, and again he was brought. This time all were waiting with great respect when he was taking prasādam, and the bell was ringing with each and every morsel.

A niṣkiñcana does not want anything. No name, no fame, nothing of the kind. Such a person does not aspire for anything, but is fully dedicated to the Lord. He may be found anywhere, without any show of external grandeur. The richness is of the heart. No knowledge, education, elevated birth, power, or opulence is necessary. Kṛṣṇā consciousness is so full, so self-sufficient and absolute, that even a particle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness contains all opulence, all education everything. Service, self-dedication, śaraṇāgati (surrender)—that’s what is necessary.

api cet sudurācaro,
bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
(BG 9.30)

Api cet sudurācaro — he may be considered most disqualified from the standpoint of purity of this world, but, bhajate mām ananya bhāk – he has an exclusive tendency towards Me, a spontaneous flow towards Me, avoiding any other direction. Sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ – he should be considered a sādhu because the nirguṇa flow is to be considered. Other things may be there now, but they will vanish the next moment.

You may fail to understand, but he is all right. He must be considered a sādhu, a real honest man and nothing else. He has no obligation to name, fame, or the things which attract us. He has self-contentment. Contentment does not require anything; it can stand alone, that is contentment, fulfilment. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so self-sufficient that it does not depend on anything to establish itself, being self-established.

The Nirguṇa Plane

In a dream, good or bad, both are ultimately false. Similarly, in this illusory misconceived world, good or bad has got no value. Amongst the Paṇḍavas and other pārśadas of Kṛṣṇa, someone is begging, someone is enraged, someone is killing etc., but this is somewhat worldly and all just to show to the people that these things have got no value. This is all māyā. Sattva-guṇa, raja-guṇa, tama-guṇa — all māyā

A sacred life, according to the standard of this world is sattva-guṇa. But that is also false. And Ratnākara Dasyu’s life was was very much in tama-guṇa in the beginning. That is also false. When light comes, darkness of any density may disappear in a moment. The sattva-guṇa takes us to the highest position of Brahma, but the next moment we will come back here. The concocted good or bad — this is only moving in a circle, sometimes holding the highest position and the next moment coming back down.

ābrahma-bhuvanal lokāḥ
punar āvartino ‘rjuna
(BG 8.16)

Therefore, any development in the misconceived area is no development. But in the consideration of the nirguṇa, even a little improvement is of infinite value. That won’t be destroyed. When we draw a comparison between nirguṇa and saguṇa, it is almost ludicrous to attempt to do so. Still, since we are in the midst of the saguṇa plane, we cannot exhaustively avoid it. The law of that world and the law of this world are completely different.

Morality stands upon only this conception — this is mine, this is yours. But all this is false. The deepest plane of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is moving and with it so many particles and so many jivas are dancing. And that dance is the absolute dance. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. So everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa and for His satisfaction anything and everything can be done. That is nirguṇa.

Parāśara-ṛṣi was crossing a river by boat. A lady was incharge of the boat. When the boat came in the middle of the river perhaps, Parāśara developed a charm for the lady and he proposed to her. He accepted that lady and united with her. Vedavyāsa was born of their union. Now how to understand this attitude of Parāśara who is a man of higher sense control. Vyāsa-janma, the birth of Vyāsadeva created a necessity in a particular stage in him and suddenly he was caught by the lust for the time being and united with that lady and therefrom came Vedavyāsa. So Universal Will, Parāśara is not to be accused. He is not a party to that. He is an instrument. We should not consider this an event of lustfulness and accuse Parāśara for his immoral action. He was inspired by some inner will and overpowered by the force of the nirguṇa, the will of Kṛṣṇa. So Kṛṣṇa says in Gītā, not the action but the background of the action, that is to be considered, that is to be examined; not the action. The motive underlying the action, whether a friend or a foe, the motive is to be considered - not the karma, but the purpose. That is the culprit.

One who is participating in nirguṇa-līlā, can never be condemned. That is reality itself. That is the original and absolute flow of līlā. That can never be disturbed or challenged. Somehow we are to enter into that. To have participation in that current we must discover a connection. That is invincible and nourishing to the extreme, that is Kṛṣṇa-līlā. Somehow we are to connect with it through śāstra and sādhussādhu-śastra krpāya yadi kṛṣṇonmukha haya (Cc. Madhya 20.120). And with the sukṛti of different lives. Only in this way we connect with that absolute plane, the undercurrent, which is the sweetest of the sweet — madhuraṁ madhuram.

The Exclusive Devotee

devaṛṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṛṇām
na kiṅkaro nāyaṁ ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā ye śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyam
gato mukundam parihṛtya kartum
(SB. 11.5.41)

A man who is exclusively devoted to Kṛṣṇa, he is not indebted to anyone. One who has given up all other duties and taken up refuge under the holy feet of the Lord, he is not liable to any debt to anyone. Otherwise when we are living, we are awake in the social position. The jivātmā has an obligation to so many. But when one has dived deep to see that Kṛṣṇa is all in all and all others are His servants, then whole energy he devotes to the master, and he won’t care for any devatas or others. He does not feel obligated to anyone, other than to Kṛṣṇa.

This is one thing. And there are two sections in the plane of duty — vidhi and niṣedha. Vidhi means we should do all these duties, and niṣedha means what we must not do. Generally we should follow this, but if the ananya-bhakta of Kṛṣṇa does not do his duties as per vidhi, then he is not to be blamed. No charge can come on him.

sva-pāda-mūlaṁ bhajataḥ priyasya
tyaktānya bhāvasya hariḥ pareśaḥ
vikarma yac cotpatitaṁ kathāncid
dhunoti sarvaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭaḥ
(SB. 11.5.42)

And on the other side if an ananya-bhakta commits some prohibited action outwardly, he cannot be punished. Sva-pāda-mūlaṁ bhajataḥ priyasya tyaktānya bhāvasya — The ananya-bhakta has given up everything (sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja). Vikarma yac cotpatitaṁ kathāncid – but if anyhow some wrong is found in him, he is not to be punished because his jurisdiction changes. Whatever punishment that is to be given is in the hand of the Absolute. The society, the king and the law of the country must not interfere with him. 

If he is stealing some flower to offer to his deity, then how should he be dealt with? Stealing is a crime, and the society may come to accuse him for it. He will say, “I have not stolen. Everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. For the service of Kṛṣṇa I am taking it.” That is his vision. If sincerely it is so, then he is not to be punished. “One who is stealing for My purpose, that is not stealing because his vision is so deep he sees everything belongs to Me. So, he is doing the right thing.”

api cet sudurācaro
bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
(BG 9.30)

“If anything has to be done, I shall do it. He who has exclusively taken refuge under My feet and I have taken his charge. If he commits something wrong, it will be generally because of My inspiration, so none should come to interfere with him. It is My duty to look after him. Everything belongs to Me. So if he commits any wrong in the eye of the society, the society may think, ‘That thing belongs to ABCD,’ but they are wrong! He is doing all right. And that may be in two stages – one in the stage of a sādhaka, and another in siddha. When he is siddha, he is committing the perfect thing. And a sādhaka may commit wrong but that may be forgiven by Me and you have nothing to do, to come and interfere in the matter.” 

Bhajate mām ananya bhāk (exclusive devotion), that is all important. Sudurācāra (sinfulness), that is negligible, that will vanish in no time. But the aim, the ideal, that is the all-important factor. One who has attained this highest ideal, his lower defects of this mundane plane cannot tie him down. You are not to mind that. To get the highest ideal is the all-important thing in one’s life. That means to understand, “He (the Absolute) is for Himself. I am for Him, not that He is for me.” With this ideal only we can be allowed to enter into that domain. 

Kṛṣṇa Himself breaks His laws and perhaps He likes them most that are ready to break the law for Him. They are His favourites. The whole vrajalīlā is like that. One’s own local interest or consideration is sacrificed. Self sacrifice to this degree that one’s own personal interest is sacrificed into fire. Only then will one come to take birth in Vṛndāvana, and not before. “Risk all your prospects other than Myself. I cannot tolerate the presence of a second entity in your heart, that with some condition you will come to Me. My relation with you is unconditional. Sacrifice the so-called interest of yours, your prospects, and everything. Then you come to meet Me in Vṛndāvana. I can’t tolerate any other interest in the heart of My devotee. Only one interest and that is Me.” 

A Caveat

Api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk, sadhur eva sa mantavyaḥ. The underlying meaning is this, “He may be the worst debauch in his outer life, but if he is an ananya-bhāk, a surrendered soul, then he will be considered a real honest man. Who has surrendered to Me, I have accepted him as my own. And as I have got the right over everything, I am not a trespasser, and hence my own man may not be considered to be a trespasser anywhere. Ātma bhūyāya kalpate — he is My own. And the whole thing is My own. The ananya-bhāk, who works by inspiration from Me, he may not be considered a trespasser. He can enjoy anything on My behalf. If he is really a surrendered soul, he should be considered as mine. On my property he has got free access.”

To this, Yayavara Mahārāja once said that if you give an explanation in such a way then in the name of ananya-bhāk all will go on with malpractices. That is a very hidden meaning. You should not express them to the public. Then anyone may say, “Oh, I am an ananya-bhāk” and will go on with their debauchery. So, don’t express it in such a way, explicitly. Yayavara Maharaja came to put an objection, “Don’t be so wide in your meaning, otherwise the people at large will take the name of ananya bhajana and say, ‘Oh! I am a Vaiṣṇava. I am acyuta-gotra. I am amongst His own men. His property is mine too. I can enjoy everything.’ That sort of thought may come.”

Mere professing that I am ananya-bhakta won’t do. A real ananya-bhāk won’t say that I am ananya-bhāk. He’ll say, “I can’t be ananya-bhāk.” That will be his understanding and innate feeling. “Ananya-bhāk is not a small thing. I have not attained that stage. It is very difficult. Rather I am going away from it.” That will be his temperament. 

Radhārāṇī Herself says, “The people believe that I am a kalaṅkinī, that I have got illicit connection with Kṛṣṇa. But my grief is this, that I could not be so. That is my trouble. I have no objection for getting a bad name, due to connection with Kṛṣṇa. But what they say is all false. From my heart I could not be wholesale of Kṛṣṇa. That is the trouble.” That sort of opposite tendency will come. The fact is that one who has accepted Me exclusively has got no taste in other things. Therefore, he is not a durācār. Internally he is always connected with Me. In external life he is indifferent. So what he is doing, that he is not doing. Hatvāpi sa imal lokān na hanti na nibadhyate — one may destroy thousands of brahmāṇḍas, and yet he does not do anything. He is in that plane, the nirguṇa plane. 

Be Practical — Avoid Lawless Actions

Of course, such devotees (ananya-bhāk) are very rarely to be found and generally a devotee should not venture to do all these things because it will create disturbance in the society. 

Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa says in Gītā, yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janāḥ sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate. Looking at the welfare of the ordinary people, the devotee should go according to general law. Otherwise, there will be chaos in the society and they will be doomed. To save the ordinary society, we abstain from doing lawless things, for the advantage of the ordinary people.

When the exclusive devotee crosses the social law and does something wrong, taking advantage of the society, then he must also be prepared to accept the punishment, without any grudge, from the nirguṇa plane. With a smiling face he will accept the punishment. Even death! Everything accepted as coming from Kṛṣṇa. When enjoying sweetmeat we think, “That is Kṛṣṇa!” and when a bitter thing is given, “Oh no!”, then that will be hypocrisy. Everything that comes from Him is sweet, whatever the formal vibration of it may be in the misconceived world of māyā

Glorify to Qualify

One day, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was chanting the Lord’s names and wandering in the sky, at his sweet will. Suddenly he found that he was just near yamālaya where Yama, the lord of death, holds court for judging the sinners of this world. He also found there Braḥma, Nārada, Śiva, and others, discussing with Yamarāja the meaning of two slokas spoken by Sri Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā (9.30,31); but they could not solve the problem of discerning the proper meaning of the ślokas

api cet sudurācaro
bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
(BG 9.30) 

“Externally, a person may be seen to commit many sins, but if he is exclusively given to My devotion, he should be considered most pure - a saint. Whatever he does, he does cent-per-cent rightly.” 

kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
śaśvac chāntiṁ nigacchati
kaunteya pratijānīhi
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
(BG 9.31)

“Very soon, he will become religious in his behaviour, and he will be seen to acquire real peace in his life. O son of Kunti, confidently declare to the public that my devotee never meets ruination.” 

But one who is engaged in the Lord’s exclusive devotion, ananya-bhajana, has been defined by the Lord in His own words, sarva-dharmān parityajya, mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: “My exclusive devotee is he who gives up all phases of duties (sarva-dharmān) and surrenders to My feet, accepting only his duty to Me.” How, then, having already surpassed all phases of duties and surrendered to the Lord, can that exclusive devotee (ananya-bhāk) further be seen to become a ‘dutiful’ or an externally ‘pious man’ (kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā)? This is an anomaly. 

Yamarāja, Brahma, Nārada, etc., discussed this point, but could not arrive at any solution. How can one become “righteous in the near future” when he has already abandoned all kinds of duties, either righteous or unrighteous, in order to exclusively surrender to the feet of the Supreme Lord? Finding no solution, they sent for Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura who, they noticed, was moving in the sky and taking the name of the Lord: “He is a pure devotee - and not an ordinary devotee - he has deep knowledge of the scriptures, so let him come and explain these verses of Bhagavad-gītā.” 

And so, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was invited, and he went there. He gave the meaning. Api cet sudurācāro, bhajate mām ananya-bhāk - despite his outer practices, the exclusive devotee (ananya-bhāk) is to be accepted (mantavyaḥ) as a cent-per-cent saint (sādhu). Therefore, the conclusion is that he who can realize this, he who declares that an exclusive devotee of Kṛṣṇa, regardless of his outer practices, is cent-per-cent saintly - he will soon become dharmātmā — virtuous and religious. His statement and conclusion is cent-per-cent correct, and his conduct will soon become very pure and he, too, will have the chance of accepting the path towards eternal truth. 

Dharma means morals, duties, including duties to father, mother, country, society, humanity; etc. But if one neglects all these and keeps a straight relationship towards Me, he will be considered free of any fault. He is in the line of sarva-dharmān parityajya, mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. He is doing right, and one who can simply appreciate this will also very soon be converted to the same class.” This is the whole purport.

The highest quality in every part of the whole is that everyone must be dedicated towards the centre, even crossing his dutifulness in respect to any other environmental position. And one who can feel, appreciate, and assert this - he will also soon achieve such a position. His inner heart can appreciate, and that is something of a realisation on that path; it will very soon take effect, and the public will see, “Oh, he is also entering this path of ananya-bhajana, the exclusive adherence to the call of the Absolute Centre, and that is all-in-all.”