Bhakti Sandarba Lesson 1

Lesson 1, Texts 1-17: The ease of devotion – Five stages of progression. PPT and recordings of this class are available at 

Discussion Highlights: Introduction and Overview Lesson 1, Texts 1-17: The ease of devotion – Five stages of progression

  • Review of the principles of Sambandha


  1. Ignorance is the cause of bondage >> The need for a methodology and goal >> Regaining remembrance of Bhagavan through bhakti alone that cuts bondage IS the methodology.
  2. Bhakti is the supreme duty of humanity as it bestows as it bestows complete realization of the Absolute.
  3. Knowledge (Jnana) and detachment (vairagya) automatically follow Bhakti.
  1. The ease of devotion – Five stages of progression
  1. A taste of hearing Krishna-katha (Vasudeva – katha – ruchi) is the 1st step of bhakti.
  2. It is the devotee association (sadhu-sanga) that leads Vasudeva – katha – ruchi.
  3. Hearing uproots unwanted desire from the heart.
  4. Steadiness in Bhakti.
  5. Spiritual awareness illuminates the heart >> Direct experience of the Absolute.

Instructions for those in Ignorance:

  • Scripture: Instructions for the enlightenment of bewildered souls in ignorance, who are in state of ignorance of the Lord.
  • Out of those Jivas, who had some realization of the Absolute through sadhu – sanga in their past lives, but remained in its latent     form + some graced by sadhu – sanga in their present lives => both of them revive their Bhagavan realization as soon as they hear His instruction in SB => immediately and simultaneously become devotees. [SB 1.1.2]

The need for a Methodology and Goal

  • Scriptural instructions about the AT


  1. What is to be done to approach the AT (Abhideya).
  2. What is the goal to be attained with respect to AT (Prayojana).

Ignorance of the Lord is the cause of our misery.

Text 2: Bhakti (Abhideya) is the methodology that cuts bondage: “With determination and joy, one should worship the unlimited Lord, who is most dear, loving, real and naturally existing in one’s heart. By doing this, the cause of material bondage is destroyed.” SB 2.2.6.

Text 3: Bhakti is the complete method of focusing on the Absolute:

  1. Hearing and deliberating on the scripture, the part of abhidheya, the path of jnana, or non-dual awareness=> instrumental in Brahman realization.
  2. Sankhya, astanga, and karma yoga => indirectly to Brahman realization => Bhakti

Bhakti is the supreme duty of humanity (SB 1.2.6, 1.2.22, 1.2.12)

Text 4: Knowledge and detachment follow in the wake of bhakti

  1. When Bhakti is performed to Lord Vasudeva, it quickly bestows detachment and causeless knowledge. [SB 1.2.7]

Text 5: Dharma is fruitful only when it leads to Bhakti

  1. “If the proper execution of prescribed duties for humans does not induce attraction for the narrations of the Lord, such performance I indeed fruitless labor.” [SB 1.2.8]
  2. Bhakti is independent, whereas knowledge and attachment depend on Bhakti, therefore Dharma or prescribed duties is fruitful only when it results in bhakti.

Text 6: Dharma is meant for ultimate liberation, known as bhakti

  1. Misconception: The object of dharma is wealth, material enjoyment, sensual pleasure.
  2. Trascendent dharma is not meant for amassing wealth. Wealth that is meant only dharma should not be caused for sensual indulgence, but only for preservation of life. The goal of life is to know the Absolute and not to acquire wealth in this world by carrying out one’s prescribed duty. [SB 1.2.9-10]

Text 7: Bhakti bestows complete realization of the Absolute

  1. The Absolute, which is manifested in Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan, can be realized only by devotion.
  2. “The sages, endowed with faith in Ultimate Reality, see the Absolute, the Supreme Soul, in their own self by bhakti invested with knowledge and renunciation, and acquired by hearing.” [SB 1.2.12]

Text 8: Bhakti is the supreme fruit of duty

  1. This Bhakti, which is so rare, can be obtained even by performing one’s prescribed duty (sva-dharma) for the satisfaction of the Lord.
  2. Therefore, O best of the twice born, the highest perfection of duty properly performed by human beings according to the divisions of varna and asrama is to satisfy Lord Hari. [SB 1.2.13]

Text 9: Suta advocated direct Bhakti

  1. Bhakti is essentially about a taste for hearing about the Lord and His pastimes.
  2. Knowledge and detachment stem from Bhakti. Therefore, why not directly engage in Bhakti?
  3. Therefore, with resolute attention one should continuously hear about, glorify, meditate on, and worship the Supreme Lord Krishna, the guardian of His devotees. [SB 1.2.14]

Texts 10 – 17: The ease of devotion: Five stages of progression

Text 10: A taste for hearing topics of Absolute –  The first step in Bhakti.

  1. There is no need for Varnasrama duties for one who inspires a taste for hearing Krishna Katha.
  2. “The wise and self – controlled slit the knot of karma with the sword of meditation on Lord Hari. Who would not feel attracted to His pastimes?” [SB 1.2.15]

Text 11: Association of devotees leads to taste in hearing

  1. For those who do not have this natural taste, Suta offers an easy method to awaken this taste. In 5 verses, he delineates the progression of bhakti, beginning from taste in Krishna – Katha [16-20]
  2. SB 1.2.16: “O learned ones, by visiting or dwelling in a holy place a person gets an opportunity to associate with great devotees and to render service to them. By such service a person awakens faith and an interest in hearing narrations about the Lord and thus develops a taste for such narrations.”

Text 12: Hearing uproots unwanted desire from the heart

  1. What happens once a taste for hearing has been awakened?

SB 1.2.17: “To hear about and glorify Lord Krishna is itself virtue. Being the benefactor of His devotees, He enters within the heart of those who hear His pastimes and destroys the inauspicious desires therein.”

Text 13: Becoming steadily fixed in devotion SB 1.2.18: “When almost all material desires have been destroyed then by regular service to the devotees and regular hearing of SB, one is endowed with unwavering bhakti onto Lord Krishna, who possesses pure fame.”

Text 14: Spiritual awareness illuminates the heart SB 1.2.19: “At that point the heart, no longer overpowered by the effects of passion and ignorance, such as lust, greed, and so on, becomes established in pure awareness and experiences delight.”

Text 15: Direct experience of the Absolute SB 1.2.20: “In this way , direct experience of the truth regarding the supreme Lord manifests to a person who is free from all material desires and delighted in min, by engaging in bhakti unto the Lord.”

Text 16: The potency of awakening of Bhagavad Tattva Vijnana, or the science of who Krishna really is SB 1.2.21: “Only after seeing the Lord, the Supreme Soul, the knot in the heart is cut into pieces, all doubts are dispelled, and the reaction to all karma is destroyed.”

Text 17: Devotion is the activity of the awakened Suta Goswami and there by Jiva Goswami concludes this section by pointing out the conduct of sages: SB 1.2.22: “Therefore, with supreme delight the thoughtful sages continuously engage in the service of Lord Vasudeva, which brings satisfaction to the self.”

“Atma Prasadanim” or “Nourishing the self” as an adjective of Bhakti, means, “That which purifies the mind.” However, this is not the only virtue of Bhakti. It is also “Paramaya Muda” or “Performing with supreme joy.” The word Nityam again reinforces the absolute necessity of the sense of regularity in virtually all phases of Bhakti.

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