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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Question: I am a brahmacari for more than nine years and have taken a role of guiding others. I have a problem of not being able to follow the brahmacari vows very strictly. I do not go out with women directly but every few months I just break the principle on my own. I just can't control it. It is too powerful a force. Then I somehow come to my senses again and make a firm vow to never again fall prey to my crazy mind. But then again I fell victim.… Expand>
I am a brahmacari for more than nine years and have taken a role of guiding others. I have a problem of not being able to follow the brahmacari vows very strictly. I do not go out with women directly but every few months I just break the principle on my own. I just can't control it. It is too powerful a force. Then I somehow come to my senses again and make a firm vow to never again fall prey to my crazy mind. But then again I fell victim.
I am generally a very happy person and I have no desire for home, opulence, wife, kids, etc. I just have this strong sexual impulse - occasionally. All those who know me encourage me to just continue with my preaching and not to change anything. I have crossed 30 years. According to my horoscope it will be a disaster if I enter into grhasta asrama. I know it sounds like FAQ - "brahmacari or grihasta question", but in my case it seems like a "Doomed if I do, doomed if I don't" situation. I don't like to cheat myself and others. Please kindly advise me.
Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:
Tough one. Uuhh. Tough one in as much as devotees are encouraging you to go on, because how many devotees are in Germany who are taking position of spiritual leadership which you are doing. Preaching, that’s spiritual leadership, but you have a weakness which is very difficult to overcome, and don’t like to cheat others.
Well, what are the alternatives? You can go on preaching and people will be benefited by that. You can get married and it’ll be a disaster, so we learn from the horoscope. Although you could consult another astrologer, but like I say, you don’t have to consult an astrologer because in almost every case entering into the gṛhastha-āśrama is a disaster, especially in the Western world. And yeah, in Germany, as in pretty much all the Western world, there’s no idea of what married life should be like, either among the non-devotees or devotees. So entering into the gṛhastha-āśrama doesn’t sound like a good idea when no one knows what they should be doing. It’s generally a disaster. So doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t. Well, in Kṛṣṇa consciousness it’s glorious if you do and doomed if you don’t. So, despite that very severe weakness, it would seem better to take that advice just to go on. Don’t take sannyāsa. And maybe you could wear white if you don’t feel comfortable in saffron cloth. Keep strong association as far as possible. I’m assured you’re doing all the things that are required. Have to pray.
Pray to Nṛsiṁhadeva:
oṁ namo bhagavate narasiṁhāya namas tejas-tejase āvir-āvirbhava
vajra-nakha vajra-daṁṣṭra karmāśayān randhaya randhaya tamo grasa
grasa om svāhā; abhayam abhayam ātmani bhūyiṣṭhā oṁ kṣraum (SB 5.18.8)
Pray to Nṛsiṁhadeva to remove the material desires from our heart. There’s no easy solution. The easy solution is take shelter of Kṛṣṇa.^ Show less
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Question: If we are chanting the holy name of the Lord and reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily, then why are desires arising that are completely contrary to the process of pure devotional service? I know for a fact that I am suffering from weeds, how can I remove these weeds I suffer from like adoration, prestige, sense enjoyment, emancipation and so many others?… Expand>
If we are chanting the holy name of the Lord and reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily, then why are desires arising that are completely contrary to the process of pure devotional service? I know for a fact that I am suffering from weeds, how can I remove these weeds I suffer from like adoration, prestige, sense enjoyment, emancipation and so many others?
ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:
“A question in reference to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.2.30.
In purport toward the end, Prabhupāda says… This is quoting from, Śrīla Prabhupāda is quoting from and paraphrasing from, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instructions to Rūpa Gosvāmī as stated in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta about the creeper of devotional service.
By the mercy of guru and Kṛṣṇa one receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service. One has to water that creeper by giving water, figurative water, of hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa, then the creeper grows. Then Śrīla Prabhupāda writes:
3) “It so happens that by the watering process some weeds are also grown, and unless such weeds are uprooted, the nurturing of the main creeper, or the creeper of bhakti-yoga, may be hampered.
4) Actually these weeds are material enjoyment, merging of the self in the Absolute without separate individuality, and many other desires in the field of religion, economic development, sense enjoyment and emancipation.
5) There are many other weeds, like disobedience to the tenets of the revered scriptures, unnecessary engagements, killing animals, and hankering after material gain, prestige and adoration.”
So that is, more or less, a direct translation of a passage from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
PERENNIAL KIND OF QUESTION
Then the question from Kalki dāsa:
“If we are chanting the holy name of the Lord and reading Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam daily, then why are desires arising that are completely contrary to pure devotional service? I know for a fact that I am suffering from weeds. How can I remove these weeds?”
Why do the desires arise? Well, arise is just the right term because they are there, deep in the heart. They arise. It may be just like in a lake. At the bottom of the lake there is mud, and sometimes some bubble just comes up. There is some air trapped deep in the lake, or it may not even be a bubble. The air may form at the bottom of the lake and come up.
So the reason is we’ve been in this material world since time immemorial and we have so many material desires; and hearing and chanting is the cleansing process. It doesn’t mean that everyone immediately becomes clean. If we are chanting the holy name, the question is how do the desires arise. But how are we chanting? Are we chanting with full purity? So it’s a process. Therefore we have the process of sādhana-bhakti.
Actually, this kind of question I’ve answered dozens of times. Maybe hundreds of times in varieties of ways. It’s a perennial kind of question. So it’s a process.
utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt
saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ
ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati (Upadeśāmṛta 3)
By enthusiasm, determination, patience, following the proper process, giving up bad association, and following in the footsteps of great devotees, success in devotional service is guaranteed.
PATIENCE IS REQUIRED
So in purport to this verse from Śrī Upadeśāmṛta, Śrīla Prabhupāda states that patience is required also. We shouldn’t think that immediately we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and then we become totally cleansed of all material contamination.
He gives the example that after a girl gets married, she expects to get a child, but she has to wait a little time. Once she is married, it is expected that she will have a child. Of course, nowadays they don’t bother getting married. They just get a child without marriage in many cases also. That’s the normal process – marriage and then the child will come, because only after the marriage do the boy and girl unite in a manner that can produce children.
So some patience is required also. And that patience is part of the process of devotional service. If we become impatient and think that “Well, oh, too much! I want immediate Kṛṣṇa prema!” Then we become disqualified from getting it. We may say: “Why do material desires arise?” Those desires are there in the heart. They come out. See them, drop them. Don’t meditate on it. Then we can become free from it.
How can I remove these weeds?
Again, it’s by the process of sādhana. We go on with the process, with faith. rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso – with faith that Kṛṣṇa will protect me. If I stay on this path, Kṛṣṇa will help.
So what’s the answer? How do I get free from these weeds?
Go on with the process of sādhana and be careful.
Accept everything which is favorable for devotional service and reject everything that is unfavorable. We can’t expect to advance unless we do this. That means we have to have plenty of hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa in our life.
And things which are unfavorable like, so many times I say this, but it’s a common anartha, watching all kinds of nonsense things on TV, not turning off our cell phone when we come to the temple, even though we are asked to so many times; so many things. This will impede our devotional advancement. If we follow the process, then Kṛṣṇa will help. To the extent we follow, Kṛṣṇa will reciprocate.
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