Are There Different Grades of Pure Devotees?
ASK BVKS | May 1, 2016 |
English; Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
Are there different grades of pure Devotees?
ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:
Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends: ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū-vargeṇa yā kalpitā: there is no better process by which to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead than that method adopted by the gopīs.
(Teachings of Queen Kuntī, Chapter 25: Unalloyed Devotion)
Kṛṣṇa Himself said that. You’ll find it in 11th canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
It doesn’t mean that other pure devotees are somehow contaminated. What they are doing is full and perfect.
Just like, for instance, in Vṛndāvana, there are so many cows. So, theirs service to Kṛṣṇa as cows is full and perfect. Kṛṣṇa is Gopāl. He couldn’t be Gopāl unless there are cows to look after.
If all the cows would say: We gonna go on strike! We want promotion. We want to become gopīs.
Then Kṛṣṇa’s līla would be incomplete. Gopī also means they are also looking after cows. So if there are no cows to milk, there is no milk to give to Kṛṣṇa.
What do cows do for Kṛṣṇa that’s full and perfect, as that of gopīs, as one consideration.
(At 1:31 starts a quote which reference couldn’t be found.
HH BVKS gives this translation: “On whatever platform one serves Kṛṣṇa…They think: For me, this is the best!”)
Just like Hanumān. He is a perfect devotee. He doesn’t want to be a gopī. He doesn’t want to serve Kṛṣṇa. Not that he is against Kṛṣṇa, but (rather let us put it another way) he wants to serve Kṛṣṇa as Rāma.
tathāpi mama sarvasvam
“Although He is not different from Lord Nārāyaṇa, lotus-eyed Lord Rāma alone is the be-all and end-all of my life.”
(Sri Premā-bhakti-candrikā, song 2.17)
There is a story in this regard, that Garuḍa was sent by Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā: You go and see Hanumān, and tell him to come to see Me!”
Because Hanumān is ciranjīvī (one of seven immortal living beings who are to remain alive on Earth until the end of the current Kali Yuga), he lives in Kimpuruṣa-loka.
So, Garuḍa came to Hanumān and invited him to come and see Kṛṣṇa.
Hanumān: No! I’m busy serving Rāma.
Garuḍa: I can take you. You can just go and come back. I’m Garuḍa. I can go quicker than anything.
Then Garuḍa went back. This is all connected with Satyabhāmā actually. Then Kṛṣṇa told him to say: Rāma is there. He wants to see you, so come.
So Garuḍa went and said: Hanumān you can go on my wings. I’ll bring you quickly.
Hanumān said: Forget your wings! Rāma is there.
He jumped there quicker than Garuḍa can go.
In the meantime Kṛṣṇa and Satyabhāmā changed to Rāma and Sītā. So, Hanumān was in ecstasy.
Hanumān is fully satisfied. And Rāma wouldn’t be satisfied if (there is no question of it, but…) Hanumān says: Well Rāma…OK, but now I’m gonna go and worship Kṛṣṇa now.
In whatever mode pure devotees serve it is full and perfect.
In this world also, there are pure devotees who are completely free from any vice, and there are those who are on the path.
Pure devotees may be called uttama-adhikārī. Adhikārī means they are qualified to perform devotional service in the topmost way. They may be not reached the topmost platform.
śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
(CC Madhya 19.167)
"One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service."
Uttama bhakti, the highest level of bhakti is one in which one doesn’t cultivate any desire for self aggrandisement on the gross material platform or on the subtle mental platform, or one does not want liberation from this world; but has made the goal of one’s life to serve Kṛṣṇa only. Nothing else! Without any desire, and cultivates that in a favourable manner. Such a person is qualified to serve Kṛṣṇa. That is the topmost level of service, but he may have not been fully situated in it.
So, in one sense, one can even be a beginner and be a pure devotee if one’s goal of life is to serve Kṛṣṇa only.
Of course, there is a great difference between great ācāryas like Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and ourselves. But they come to bring us up, to close the gap, and to bring us up to the pure platform.
So, there are grades of pure devotees, certainly.
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How do we really make a distinction between nitya siddha and sadhana siddha jivas?
Despite them being two different by definition obviously, their pastimes on the earth, their qualities and potency, is there any difference, are those things the same?
Could you say, those who are Sadhana Siddha do not exercise/expose as much spiritual potency as Nitya Siddha jivas, or that sadhana siddhas do not have as much extent of spiritual influence?
Generally, Prabhupada has said the previous acharyas (Bhaktisiddhanta, Bhaktivinode) are Nitya Siddha, therefore, is it correct to deduce only those who are acharyas are nitya, and everyone else is sadhana siddha?
Sometimes, with an acharya we know is nitya siddha, Bhaktvinode Thakur for example, it may appear he was formerly materialistic then by Sadhana became Siddha, Prabhupada has stated otherwise so we accept that as the truth, therefore it is difficult to distinguish between the two, as even if they are actually sadhana siddha they have pastimes appearing as if they were worldly.
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Is it acceptable for a girl, whose parents don’t arrange her marriage, to arrange her own marriage by meeting different men and working it out like that?
Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:
According to Manu-saṁhitā it is the duty of the father to marry a daughter before her first menstruation.
And Manu also says that after, I think it’s two menstrual periods or maybe three, if the father hasn’t done that, then the girl can arrange her own marriage.
The emphasis is very much on what they nowadays call child marriage. Śrīla Prabhupāda recounts that his eldest sister was almost 14 and she was not married, and that their mother was so upset that she told their father that: “If you don’t marry her right away I’m going to drown myself in Ganga.“
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s first child was born when his wife was 13. Nowadays it’s called child abuse.
So, it’s acceptable according to śāstra. You’ve asked according to śāstra. I’ve answered according to śāstra.
Gradually it’s become accepted within Indian culture that girls go to school, and then they have a career, but still there is idea that parents should arrange the marriage. But that’s breaking down now.
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