Bhakti Sandarba Lesson 12

Lesson 12, Texts 149-164: Participation once in Bhakti leads onto perfection. PPT and recordings of this class are available at 

High lights:
Texts 149-157: The power of a single act of devotion – It bears fruit in the offense less heart
And what is that fruit? The Supreme Lord awards such a person complete freedom from fear. Jiva Goswami exemplifies this fact by citing numerous scriptural references.

Texts 158-164: Sometimes the Lord provokes one through desires
This is to intensify the normal prarabdha-karma of such devotees just to increase their hankering to attain Him. Jiva Goswami illustrates this fact by citing examples of bharata maharaja and Narada muni.

Texts 149-150: The power of a single act of devotion
SB 2.3.17: Saunaka Rishi: One’s entire life becomes successful merely by once serving the Lord.

Any sort of bhakti destroys all sins and the devotee attains liberation [Laghu Bhagavata, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Skanda Purana, Brahma Naradiya Purana, Padma Purana].

Devahuti: “A person who casts off lethargy and chants the name of Lord Näräyaëaeven once, becomes pure in heart and attains liberation.” [Padma Purana]

“If one surrenders to the Lord just once, entreating the Lord with the words, ‘I am Yours,’ the Lord awards such a person complete freedom from fear.” [Garuda Purana]

Saunaka Rishi: “If a person, who has fallen into this fearful material existence, helplessly chants the names of the Lord, which is feared by fear personified, he is immediately delivered by the power of the name.” [SB 1.1.14]

Chitraketu to Lord Sankarshana: “O Lord, it is not at all astonishing that those who see You become free from all sins, because even an outcaste person becomes liberated from material existence simply by hearing Your name just once.” [SB 6.16.44]

Texts 151-152: Bhakti remains potent under all circumstances – even indirect or a semblance of devotion [Bhakti-Abhas] = > destroys all sins, liberates from material existence, and then transports one to the supreme abode – the glories of bhakti are thus real indeed!

“It is better to live for 5 days as a devotee of Lord Vishnu than to live for millions of years devoid of bhakti to Lord Kesava.” [Vishnu-dharmottara Purana]

How does Jiva Goswami resolve an apparent contradiction?
On one hand, the devotee is freed off his sinful reactions—liberation, and then attainment of the supreme abode—overwhelming scriptural evidence

On the other hand, however, the same scriptures also says that the Jiva, while offering prayers in the womb of his mother, becomes bound to material existence as soon as takes birth [SB 3.31.12-21]

Explanation: The experience of the Jiva’s praying in the womb is not necessarily universal—knowledge of the Lord does not manifest to all the Jivas within the womb, unless those who whose knowledge had been awakened by the association of devotees in his/her past life => get to pray to the Lord within the womb, while a vast majorities of the Jivas remain bound in material existence. Therefore, bhakti remains potent under all circumstances.

Even indirect or a semblance of devotion [Bhakti-abhas] => destroys all sins, liberates from material existence, and then transports one to the supreme abode.

“Even sinners attain the supreme goal merely by being glanced upon by those who are dedicated to the service of the unattached devotees of Lord Vishnu.” [Brahma-Naradiya Purana]

Yama to his servants: “If one has installed a deity of Lord Krishna with devotion, then 90,000 of his future generations are outside your rule.” [SB 7.10.18]

Lord Narasimha deva to Prahlada: “O, sinless saint, your father has been cleansed along with 21 generations of forefathers because of you, the purifier of the dynasty, have taken birth in his family.” [SB 7.10.18]

Even Bhakti-abhas => transports one to the supreme abode
Illustrated in two stories from Brahma-Naradiya Purana: i) Because of under the influence of intoxication with wine, they imagined that they’d become cuckoo birds, they danced in an old temple of the Lord while holding a strip of worn cloth tied to a pole => this action was resembling to one installing a flag on a temple => attained the abode of the Lord. ii) A bird was shot by a hunter, but then before the hunter could get hold of it, the bird was snatched by a dog in his mouth, and then circumambulated around the temple => attained the abode of the Lord.

Another story of Prahlada’s pervious life when he was an ordinary person who had a relationship with a prostitute, but once had a fight with her. As a result of being so upset that he was unable to eat or sleep the whole day and night. By coincidence that day was the appearance day of Lord Narisimha deva => in the next life, received the mercy of Narada and then became a great devotee of the Lord.

Texts 153-157: The glories of bhakti are real, but offenses obstruct devotion
Bhakti performed just once with slight effort is instrumental in bringing the Supreme Lord under one’s control.

Lord Shva: “O best of the dvijas, when a person looks upon the form of the Lord, the Lord also looks at that person every day. When a person takes shelter of the Lord, the Lord reciprocally takes refuge in that person, and when one worships the Lord, the Lord eternally worships her or him in return.” [Brahma-Purana]

Numerous such scriptural descriptions shouldn’t be taken as trivial, because these types of results are renowned in the pastimes of Ajamila and several others.

Offenses, however, obstructs devotion:
At present, it is generally the case that people don’t experience the result of chanting due to offenses.

A representative illustration is the story of King Nrga, who said: “O Kesava, because I was devoted to the brahmanas, munificent in  offering charity, devoted to You and anxious to obtain a direct vision of You, the memory of my past life has not been lost, right up to the present.” [SB 10.64.25]

King Nrga had to accept the body of a chameleon due to his offense of inadvertently offering the same cow in charity to two different brahmanas. Besides, he was guilty of considering the glories of bhakti as exaggeration, otherwise he would not have been transferred to the abode of Yama, in spite of having performed bhakti. In fact, his being sent to Yama contradicted his own order to his servants.

There is a story of King Satadhanu in Vishnu-Purana, who had to be born as a dog, although he was dedicated to the worship of the Lord, just because he had a brief conversation with a critic of the Vedas and Vaishnavas.

Repetition of devotional practices, such as hearing and chanting, is prescribed in bona fide scriptures to eliminate offenses
“Repetition [of the practices to obtain the Absolute] is necessary because the Upanisads repeatedly instruct one to do so.” [SB 4.1.1]

This is because it produces unprecedented bliss at every step. This is especially recommended to neophyte devotees, who have yet to attain perfection, as offenses must still be present that are causing obstacles.

Among many, the following five are most prominent effects of offenses
i. Crookedness—mere show of their own devotion, but would criticize sincere devotees

ii. Faithlessness

iii. Absorption in objects that erode one’s faith in the Lord—distraction

iv. Slackness in devotion

v. Pride arising from one’s own bhakti

Texts 158-164: Sometimes the Lord provokes one through desires
Text 158: The Lord personally intensifies the normal prarbdha karma of such devotees just to increase their hankering to attain Him.

The intensification of Bharata’s desire to attain the Lord in his next life, when he had to accept a deer’s body in his next life, and thereafter in his 3rd life as Jada-Bharata.

Another example is the past life of Narada as the young son of a maidservant. Although he had attained the love of God, the Lord preserved a trace of material desire in him to magnify his efforts to attain Him. [SB 1.6.22]

Texts 159-160: Slacking of devotion
The elephant Gajendra [formerly a great king and devotee named Indradumna, but due to his offense to the sage Agastya Muni, he was cursed to take birth as an elephant], during his stage of sensual engagement, is an example of a devotee who became absorbed in objects that hindered his devotion because of an offense.

Despite knowing well, how does a devotee end up committing an offense?Despite possessing sufficient discrimination, the devotee is unable to check his slackness => Continues to periodically engage in devotional service of his liking => profound insincerity of heart => constitute an offense.

A single act of devotion bears fruit in the offenseless heart
The principle stated earlier that bhakti performed even once bring forth the fruit of devotion is certainly true, provided there are no offenses, past or present.

Exception, however, at the time of death if somehow the devotee manages to perform any type of devotional service even once, it is sufficient regardless of the circumstances.

Nonetheless, at the time of death only a person who has perfected his or her worship of the Lord, either in this or past life, manages to chant and remember the holy name [Anthe-Naraya-Smruthi]

After giving up the body, he is rewarded with direct vision of the Lord.

Ajamila: “Although I am most unfortunate, I must have performed some pious actions in the past by which I have been blessed with the vision of these exalted devotees. By seeing them, my heart has become filled with joy.” [SB 6.2.32]

Texts 161-162: Direct vision of the Lord is positive attainment of His abode
Why was it that in his birth as a deer, although Bharata chanted the name of the Lord while giving up his deer body, he did not go directly to the abode of the Lord, but obtained another body?

It should be understood that, despite taking another body, he attained direct vision of the Lord in that very same body, because the Lord is always manifest in the heart of such devotees. The same is true with Ajamila.

All of Ajamila’s sins were eradicated from the very first utterance of the name as Devahuti proclaims: “I offer obeisances unto the Lord who is the embodiment of pure consciousness. Simply by remembering His name, whether at the time of death or while living, all sins of human beings are immediately destroyed.” [Padma-Purana]

Texts 163-164: Bhakti manifests in proportion to a devotee’s qualification
Uddhava: “O Lord Krishna, human beings who have tasted Your extraordinary pastimes, which are like nectar for the ears and which are the peak of auspiciousness, give up the craving for all other objects.” [SB 11.6.44]

Parikshit: “Although I have even given up drinking water, I am not at all afflicted by the hunger that is excruciatingly difficult to bear, because I am drinking the ambrosia of Lord Krsna’s pastimes flowing from your lotus mouth.” [SB 10.1.13]

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