On the Glory of Each Book

Bhakti-rasāyana

This compilation of verses is known as bhakti-rasāyana, the nectar-tonic of devotional mellows. When the material body becomes weakened by illness and one is unable to eat anything, by drinking a tonic the digestion and the pulse again become strong. Similarly, in the realm of bhakti, for those in whom intense hankering for spontaneous devotion (rāgānuga-bhakti) has arisen, the verses in this final chapter are like a nectar-tonic.

When sādhakas study and learn these verses, deeply meditating within themselves on their meanings while chanting the holy name, they will act as stimuli to fully experience the mood described in the verse above1. Then one’s mind will not wander here and there. We should not just walk around talking to others while chanting, but taking our chanting beads we should sit in a solitary place and give it our mind and heart. Our previous ācāryas chanted all night long, meditating on one verse after another. For half an hour the waves of the bhāva of one particular verse would be coming to them; sometimes they would be fully submerged in those waves, sometimes they would rise to the surface and float on those waves, and then they would move on to the next verse. As they did this more and more, the whole night would pass, and where it went, they wouldn’t know. This is the traditional method of performing bhajana.

Bhakti-rasāyana, Chapter 1

 


Bhakti-tattva-viveka

The unlimited glories of bhagavad-bhakti are visible in the Purāṇas, śrutis, smṛtis, Mahābhārata, and Rāmāyaṇa, as well as in the literatures of famous Vaiṣṇava ācāryas. By understanding the constitutional nature of śuddha-bhakti, or unalloyed devotion, and genuinely engaging in its practice, one can easily cross the ocean of nescience and achieve life’s ultimate goal of kṛṣṇa-prema.

What to speak of the genuine practice of śuddha-bhakti, even the attainment of a slight semblance of bhakti can award the fourfold boons of artha (economic development), dharma (religiosity), kāma (sense gratification), and mokṣa (liberation). Therefore, people in general become attracted towards the cultivation of bhakti. However, due to being ignorant of the true nature of śuddha-bhakti, they  sually come in contact with pretentious devotees who desire only wealth, women, and fame, and under their influence either practice false devotion or adopt devotional sentiments which are against the principles of pure devotion, all the while imagining them to be pure bhakti. Coming under the influence of those desiring impersonal liberation, they practice a shadow or reflection of real bhakti and deceive themselves. Thus they do not achieve the real fruit of bhakti.

Hence, the ācārya of the profound science of devotional mellows, the most merciful Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, has explained in his book Śrī  hakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, the true nature of śuddhabhakti on the basis of scriptural evidences. Moreover, he has described the nature of chala-bhakti (pretentious devotion), ābhāsa-bhakti (a semblance of devotion), pratibimba-bhakti (a reflection of devotion), karma-miśra-bhakti (devotion mixed with fruitive action), jñāna-miśra-bhakti (devotion mixed with impersonal knowledge), āropa-siddha-bhakti (endeavors which are indirectly attributed with the quality of devotion), saṅgasiddha- bhakti (endeavors associated with or favorable to the cultivation of devotion) and so on.

In the realm of devotion, the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu is unanimously accepted as the most authoritative literature. However, it was composed in the Sanskrit language. So for the benefit of people in general, in his Bhakti-tattva-viveka, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has presented the grave and deep conceptions of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu in the Bengali language, in a straightforward and easily understandable manner.

Bhakti-tattva-viveka, Preface

 


Jaiva-dharma

[On September 21, 2001, when Śrīla Gurudeva returned to Mathurā after his two-week preaching tour in Jaipur and Delhi, he received
5,000 copies of the newly-published Jaiva-dharma of Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Over forty years earlier he had translated Jaiva-dharma from the original Bengali into Hindi, and then recently, under his guidance, his disciples had translated his Hindi version into English. Now, on the evening after his return, he held a ceremony inaugurating the new publication, and the following is a transcription of his speech:]

I’m very happy and satisfied that Jaiva-dharma of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has been published and printed in English. It has come from my Hindi translation, which was approved by my gurudeva, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. It was also approved by Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Mahārāja, all my god-brothers, and several senior disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.

Guru Mahārāja ordered me to translate this book into Hindi. Therefore, in order to read and understand it well, I
studied Bengali grammar and language. Later, when Guru Mahārāja saw my translation, he wrote a preface, and in that preface he sprinkled his causeless mercy upon me.

Jaiva-dharma is a very authentic book for understanding tattva (established philosophical truths), sādhana (the process to attain the perfection of kṛṣṇa-prema), and sādhya (the goal of kṛṣṇa-prema). Those who read it under the guidance of a well-trained and qualified Vaiṣṇava will know its glories.

When I first published it in Hindi, I considered that it must also be translated into English for the benefit of the entire world, for it will bring about a revolution of new thought. Surely now, when it will be distributed throughout the world, that revolution will come about. At that time everyone will have the opportunity to realize that what I am telling about tattva, bhakti, sādhana, and bhajana is true to the highest extent. The wrong impressions about jīva-tattva, bhakti-tattva, and all other important truths are clarified by this book.

The siddhānta of Jaiva-dharma is very deep, and those who have spent time with me were able to untie the knots which bound those deep meanings. There are so many English editions of Jaiva-dharma, but most of them have not presented the philosophy clearly. They contain many mistaken ideas, and I think those errors will be corrected by this book.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura adopted the same process accepted by Vyāsadeva in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In Jaiva-dharma he presented tattva in such an interesting way that it appears like a novel. It is not a novel, however; everything in it is true history.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura saw this in his samādhi trance and then wrote down his realizations. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura realized all of the written documents of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the teachings of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and the teachings of all the ācāryas in His line. He was very expert in rasa-tattva (the science of the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and His devotees); the entire Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi are present in Jaiva-dharma. We cannot understand the mahābhāva (the pinnacle of devotion found only in the gopīs) described in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi and other books of that nature. They are too difficult for common devotees to comprehend. Here in Jaiva-dharma, therefore, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has put the contents of all such books into very simple language. He has put the ocean in a jar.

If anyone wants to enter into the spiritual realm, they should read this book thoroughly ‒ not once, but one hundred times ‒ under the guidance of a highly qualified, realized Vaiṣṇava. Otherwise, it is not possible to enter its deep meanings. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta  Antya-līlā 5.131) it is stated that one should read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam under the guidance of the bona fide Vaiṣṇava, and this fact is also true in relation to Jaiva-dharma. In that way one can realize its truths.

I am therefore very happy and satisfied by the publication of this book. To those who have helped with its publication, as chief editors, translators, advisors, English and Sanskrit editors, proofreaders, layout persons, computer specialists, and those who have helped with finances, I want to give my heartly blessings. I pray to Kṛṣṇa, and I pray to Gadādhara Paṇḍita Prabhu, who manifested as Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. I request them to sprinkle their mercy on those who helped me in any way. I will pray that the mercy of Śrī Guru, Gaurāṅga, and Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī will fall upon them. 

 


Śrī Bhakti-rasāmrta-sindhu-bindu

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the crown prince of illustrious teachers among the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, is the author of this book. In this book there is a description of the nature of uttama-bhakti, its divisions, sādhana-bhakti, the stages in the development of prema, the limbs of bhajana, the offences committed in the performance of devotional service (sevā-aparādha), the offences against the holy name (nāmaaparādha), vaidhi- and rāgānuga-sādhana-bhakti, bhāva-bhakti, prema-bhakti, and bhakti-rasa. I have complete faith that those who are possessed of a yearning for bhakti and especially the sādhakas of rāgānugabhakti who are  captivated by vraja-rasa will receive this book with great reverence. Faithful persons who study this book will obtain qualification to enter into the wealth of prema of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu-bindu, Preface

 


Śrī Brahma-samhitā

Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā was revealed by Śrī Brahmā, the original guru of the Brahma sampradāya, and the great-grandfather of the universe. It was collected and propagated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, adorned with the sentiment and complexion of Śrī Rādhā. This scripture, which is full of brilliantly effulgent transcendental jewels in the form of many philosophical conclusions of bhakti, is an incomparable devotional scripture. Not only does it stand out among Śrī Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava literature, but also within the entire body of sacred Indian texts received through oral tradition, such as the Vedas, the Purāṇas, the Vedānta-sūtra, Bhagavad-gītā, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

It is a matter of unlimited jubilation that today we are presenting the aforementioned Brahma-saṁhitā before our readers in Hindi, the national language of India, by the causeless mercy and inspiration of our paramārādhya gurupāda- padma, oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmi Mahārāja.

I have confidence that this text will be revered among the faithful sādhakas who are thirsting for devotion, and also among the intelligentsia. It is my heartfelt aspiration that they may enter into the immaculate prema-dharma. My most worshipable śrī guru-pādapadma feels pain upon seeing the distress of others, and he is the embodiment of the Supreme Lord’s mercy. May he and Śacīnandana Śrī Gaurahari be pleased with us and bestow upon us the qualification to render the services that fulfill their innermost heart’s desire. This is our only grief-stricken prayer at their divine lotus feet. What need is there to say more?

Śrī Brahma-samhitā, Introduction

 


Śrī Brhad-bhāgavatāmrta

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the essence of all scriptures, such as the Vedas, Vedānta, Purāṇas, Itihāsas, and so on. By churning that essence, this book, aptly named Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmrta, the Essential Nectar of the Bhāgavatam, has become manifest. Throughout this book, all topics regarding devotional service to Bhagavān have been presented.

In this Part One of the Second Canto, the author, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, has ascertained deep spiritual truths (tattvas). We request the readers to study and contemplate these confidential truths with patience and constancy.

Śrī Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmrta, Preface


Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā

Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is also known as Gītopaniṣad. It is the essence of all Vedic knowledge and the most significant Upaniṣad in Vedic literature. Those who constantly study this book with faith, under the shelter of the spiritual master, saintly persons, and Vaiṣṇavas will be able to ascertain its true import easily. As a result, they will transcend the ocean of material existence and attain transcendental devotion to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In this way, they will become eligible to attain pure love for Him. Of this there is not the slightest doubt.

Nowadays, it is observed that the great thinkers and venerated gentlemen of India revere Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā. Members of all disciplic lineages (sampradāyas) also show great honour and faith in the Gītā. Even many celebrated politicians have shown faith in his monarch of books, and philosophers from all countries of the world have lauded it profusely.

At that time the supremely compassionate Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra gave the instructions of Śrīmad Bhagavad gītā to His dear associate and friend, Arjuna, for the benefit of the living entities of the world. Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, which is an investigation into the essential import of all the Vedas, is therefore the crest jewel of all Upaniṣads. It describes the mutual relationship between the processes of karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga, and so on and expounds pure haribhakti as the supreme goal for the living entities. Karma-yoga (the path of spiritual advancement where the fruit of one’s pious action is offered to the Lord), jñāna-yoga (the path of spiritual advancement through transcendental knowledge), and bhakti-yoga (the path of loving devotion to the Supreme Lord) are not actually different systems; they are simply the first, second, and third steps of the one yoga process. The first stage of that complete yoga is called karma-yoga, the second, jñāna-yoga, and the third, bhakti-yoga. The Upaniṣads, Brahmasūtra, and Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā are completely devotional literatures. They elaborately describe karma, jñāna, mukti, and the attainment of brahma, but then  comparatively deliberate on them and ultimately establish śuddha-bhakti as supreme.

I am completely confident that readers who are hankering for bhakti will receive this book well and with all honour, and that faithful readers will enter into the realm of śuddha-bhakti after studying it. We hope that our spiritually astute readers will mercifully forgive any mistakes and discrepancies that may have occurred in the course of compiling this book in a short time, and that they will oblige us by accepting its very essence.

Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, Introduction


Śrī Manah-śiksā

Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā, written by Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, the eternal associate of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is a collection of eleven verses that offer spiritual instruction to the mind. These verses are an excerpt from the book known as Śrī Stavāvalī, a compilation of all of the author’s prayers and deep spiritual yearnings. In a very concise manner, Śrī Dāsa Gosvāmī has surcharged these eleven verses of Manaḥ-śikṣā with the essence of the teachings of Śrī Gaurasundara, the prema-intoxicated embodiment of the combined forms of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, as well as those of His intimate associate Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara, and the ācārya of the profound science of devotional mellows, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī.

While continuously residing in Vraja under the guidance of rasika devotees who are deeply immersed in the mood of Vraja, one should hear, chant, and remember the names, form, qualities, and pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This is the method of bhajana for devotees who are traversing the path of rāgānugabhakti. Out of all the limbs of devotion such as hearing and chanting that have been described in relation to vaidhibhakti, those which are favorable to the development of one’s particular disposition may also be accepted on the path of rāgānuga-sādhana.

In vaidhi-mārga one first develops faith (śraddhā). Then one acquires the association of devotees (sādhu-saṅga). Thereafter, by practice of bhajana one is released from the impediments to spiritual advancement (anarthas). Gradually one then develops resolute steadiness (niṣṭhā), strong taste (ruci), firm attachment (āsakti), and ecstatic emotion (bhāva). By this system, bhāva is obtained after a very long time. But when greed develops, all anarthas are very easily destroyed because of the absence of hankering for material sense enjoyment.

Here the meaning of rāgānuga-bhakti is rūpānuga-bhakti. Without becoming rūpānuga, a follower of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, it is impossible to enter the path of rāgātmika-bhakti. If by some great fortune a person develops an intense desire to enter the path of rāgānuga-bhakti, then one should certainly study and follow this Manaḥ-śikṣā of Śrī Dāsa Gosvāmī, the principal follower of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī.

Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā, Preface