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this month in the latest edition of

Gaudiya Vaishnava reflections


from Bhakti Tattva Viveka — Part II

An Analysis of the Semblance of Bhakti (Bhakti-abhasa)

In Bhakti-tattva-viveka, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has extracted the essence of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and presented it in simple language that is easy for all to understand. This small book’s four chapters respectively describe bhakti’s intrinsic nature, an analysis of the semblance of bhakti, bhakti’s natural attributes and the qualification for bhakti. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s grave and loving concern that we truly understand this message permeates each and every page of this wonderful book.


Offences towards bhakti

This is a very dangerous item. We execute so many limbs of bhakti, such as accepting the dīkṣā-mantra from a bona fide spiritual master, every day applying tilaka to twelve different parts of the body, performing arcana unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa, observing the vow of Ekādaśī, chanting the holy name and remembering Kṛṣṇa according to one’s ability, visiting the holy places like Vṛndāvana and so forth. But unfortunately we don’t try hard enough to avoid committing offences at the feet of Bhakti-devī. Giving the example of the activities of Mukunda, Śrīman Mahāprabhu highlighted to His devotees the various symptoms of offence towards bhakti (Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 10.185, 188–190, 192):

kṣaṇe dante tṛṇa laya, kṣaṇe jāṭhī māre
o khaḍa-jāṭhiyā – beṭā nā dekhibe more
prabhu bole – o beṭā jakhana yathā jāya
seī mata kathā kahi tathāya miśāya
vāśiṣṭha paḍaye jabe advaitera saṅge
bhakti-yoge nāce gāya tṛṇa kari dante
anya sampradāye giyā jakhana sāmbhāya
nāhi māne bhakti jāṭhi māraye sadāya
bhakti-sthāne uhāra haila aparādha
eteke uhāra haila daraśana-bādha

[Śrīman Mahāprabhu said:]
“I can never bestow mercy upon Mukunda because sometimes he displays his humility by taking straw between his teeth and at other times he attacks Me; in other words, he keeps one of his hands at My feet (displaying humility) and the other at My neck (attacking Me). According to his own convenience, sometimes he behaves as My follower and at other times he criticizes Me. Hence, I cannot reward him.
Wherever he goes, seeking his own benefit he represents himself accordingly and mixes with people. Sometimes he supports the doctrine of Mayavada by reciting from the book Yoga-vashishtha which is endowed with Advaita philosophy and at other times he shows his faith by abandoning the impersonal concept and cultivating krsna-bhakti by becoming meek and humble and dancing and performing kirtana.
When he enters the sect of the impersonalists, he rejects the eternity of bhakti and condemns the devotees with the weapon of argument and logic.
In this way he has committed an offence at the feet of Bhakti-devi.
Therefore, I cannot give him My darsana.”
Mukunda Datta is an eternal associate of the Lord, so whatever Mahaprabhu said to him in this regard is only a lila or pastime. But Mahaprabhu’s objectives are very grave, so there must be an extremely confidential reason for His statements here. His confidential instruction is that we cannot please Krsna just by accepting diksha and executing the various limbs of bhakti.
Only those who have unwavering faith in exclusive devotion can satisfy Him. Those who have developed such faith accept the path of shuddha-bhakti with great determination. They don’t visit places where doctrines which are unrelated to shuddha-bhakti are discussed. They go to places where the topic of shuddha-bhakti is being discussed and they listen with great interest.
They never approve of statements or activities which are opposed to the principles of bhakti merely to gain popularity; pure devotees always remain indifferent to such things.
These days most people don’t try to avoid the above-mentioned offences.
Just from seeing the devotees or hearing bhagavat-katha they display symptoms of apparent spiritual ecstacy such as trembling and the shedding of tears and they support spiritual philosophy in assemblies, but afterwards they are again seen becoming mad after sense gratification.
Therefore, dear readers! What can be said about the so-called nishtha of those who display these bogus sentiments? We understand that just to earn fame they display these symptoms before the devotees.
Out of greed to acquire fame or other material benefits they display varieties of this sort of conduct. It is a matter of great sorrow that these people not only commit an offence at the feet of Bhakti-devi by propagating deceitful philosophies in the name of bhakti, but also completely ruin the spiritual lives of the jivas of this world.
Dear readers! We should remain very careful not to ever commit any offence at the feet of Bhakti-devi.
First of all, we must vow to perform bhakti while remaining indifferent to all else. We must never do anything or speak anything which is contrary to bhakti just to gain popularity or collect followers. We must remain simple and straightforward in our actions. There shouldn’t be any difference between our words and our actions. We must never try to gain the favor of those who are indifferent to bhakti by displaying to them artificial symptoms of advanced devotion.
We will always remain chaste to the principles of shuddha-bhakti and will never support any other doctrine. Our external conduct and the feelings within our hearts should be one and the same.

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Some months ago, Rays of The Harmonist published a special on-line magazine containing over 18 articles by our guruvarga in honour of the 100th disappearance anniversary of Saccidānanda Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, whose unlimited compassion and unparalleled presentation of the philosophical conclusions of the Gauḍīya sampradāya have transformed the hearts of people all over the world. Here is the link to that edition.

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