NOD - Assignment 2

Babhru Das - August 22, 2005 6:12 pm

Here's the second assignment. I think I got all the diacritics out, but if funny characters show up, just let me know. We can start reading, writing, and thinking today (8/22) and start the discussion nest Monday, 8/29. Of course, if there are any questions about the assignment itself, or corrections to errors you see, please feel free to post them any time.


Exploring the Ocean of TheNectar of Devotion

Assignment 2


Read the Introduction to Nectar of Devotion. Again, as you do so, make whatever notes seem useful to you. Write down any questions you have or that you think may open productive discussion, as well as any relevant thoughts or realizations your reading yields.


The Introduction has two main things to consider as we read and discuss. One is that it contains the book’s invocation, or mangalacharana. We see this in the opening words of the Introduction: “Invoking auspiciousness.” The first six verses of Sri Rupa’s Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu constitute its mangalacarana, and the first six paragraphs of The Nectar of Devotion present this same invocation. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja explains the threefold function of a mangalacarana:

se mangalacarana haya tri-vidha prakara

vastu-nirdesa, asirvada, namaskara

The invocation involves three processes: defining the objective, offering benedictions and offering obeisances. (Adi 1.23)


So when we read these first six paragraphs, we should see how Rupa (and, following him, Srila Prabhupada) accomplishes these three things in the invocation.

The other important feature of NoD’s Introduction is Rupa’s definition of pure devotional service, or suddha bhakti, which makes up the rest of the chapter.



Write a paragraph or two explaining in your own words Rupa Gosvami’s objective in writing bhaktirasamrita-sindhu and what benedictions he offers. Also, write about what you understand pure devotion is, according to Rupa and the rupanugas. After reading this Introduction, can you think of common misunderstandings of what constitutes pure devotional service?


There's also a supplement to this with the first verse of Brs, as well as verses 11 and 12, which consitiute Rupa's definition of suddha bhakti (and at the local devotees' request I'm including the word-for-word translation for verse 11 because, as we discussed here the other day, each word has significance). I'll post the supplement separately. Also, again at the local devotees' request, I'm putting together a digest of the most relevant material from Visvanath's Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu-bindu to help us better understand this important point.

Babhru Das - August 22, 2005 6:27 pm

Exploring the Ocean of The Nectar of Devotion

Key verses for Assignment 2


First verse of Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu:




radha-preyan vidhur jayati


akhila-rasa-amrita-murtiù—the reservoir of all pleasure, in which exist all the mellows of devotional service, namely shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya; prasrimara—spreading forth; ruci—by His bodily luster; ruddha—who has subjugated; taraka—the gopi named Taraka; palih—the gopi named Pali; kalita—who has absorbed the minds of; syama—the gopi named Syama; lalitah—and the gopi named Lalita; radha-preyan—dearmost to Srimati Radharani; vidhuù—Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; jayati—all glories to.


“‘Let Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, be glorified! By virtue of His expanding attractive features, He subjugated the gopis named Taraka and Pali and absorbed the minds of Syama and Lalita. He is the most attractive lover of Srimati Radharani and is the reservoir of pleasure for devotees in all transcendental mellows.’


Definition of devotional service:



anukulyena krsnanu-

shilanam bhaktir uttama


anya-abhilasita-shunyam—without desires other than those for the service of Lord Krishna, or without material desires (such as those for meat-eating, illicit sex, gambling and addiction to intoxicants); jnana—by the knowledge of the philosophy of the monist mayavadis; karma—by fruitive activities; adi—by artificially practicing detachment, by the mechanical practice of yoga, by studying the Sankhya philosophy, and so on; anavritam—not covered; anukulyena—favorable; krishna-anushilanam—cultivation of service in relationship to Krishna; bhaktih uttama—first-class devotional service.

When first-class devotional service develops, one must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, and fruitive action. The devotee must constantly serve Kriñhëa favorably, as Krishna desires.



tat-paratvena nirmalam

hrisikeëa hrisikesha-

sevanam bhaktir ucyate

“‘Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and one’s senses are purified simply by being employed in the service of the Lord.’

(This verse quoted from the Narada-pancaratra is found in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu [1.1.12].)

Igor - August 24, 2005 5:02 pm

Some notes…


write about what you understand pure devotion is

Well it is self explainable - pure devotion – means– not mixed devotion. When something is pure there is no trace of some other ingredient – it is 100% pure. Like 100% pure mango juice. So pure devotion means pure love. There is no trace of selfishness, karma, jnana, mystical yoga perfection, sense satisfaction – when pure devotion resides in hearth – all other things automatically become insignificant. We can see it in gopis. They had all reasons to stay in their houses, with relatives, but under influence of pure devotion all so called reasons become insignificant, and gopis went in forest of Vraja, guided by sweet tunes of Shyamasundar’s flute.

Pure devotion is anyabilasita – sunyam – there is no other reason but love. No other desire. Just to satisfy Krsna. Nothing else.

Lord Caitanya gave us formula of pure devotion in asliya va verse of Siksastaka mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah, Krsna is Lord of my hearth, whatever he do. He can tightly embrace this servant or break my hearth, he can do whatever he wants, but still he is my worshipable Lord. That is pure, selfless love, with no other component but love. That is our sublime goal – pure, selfless love for Krsna.


Latter I will try to write something about Rupa Goswamis objective for writing Brs.


Quotes from introduction

As long as one identifies himself as belonging to a certain family, a certain society or a certain person, he is said to be covered with designations. When one is fully aware that he does not belong to any family, society or country, but is eternally related to Krsna, he then realizes that his energy should be employed not in the interests of so-called family, society or country, but in the interests of Krsna. This is purity of purpose and the platform of pure devotional service in Krsna consciousness.

Prabhupada gave us here platform of pure devotional service. Swami is great example of this “he then realizes that his energy should be employed not in the interests of so-called family, society or country, but in the interests of Krsna.”

And two more quotations…

One has to learn Krsna consciousness, or pure devotional service, from the authorities by spontaneous loving service.
Without initiation by a bona fide spiritual master, the actual connection with Krsna consciousness is never performed.

Any comments…

Vrindaranya Dasi - August 25, 2005 2:29 pm



I just wanted to mention to everyone that I was planning to take part in the study group, but things have gotten crazy busy for me, so I won't be able to. I'm sorry to have to miss out on actively participating in the nectar katha, but I'll relish from the sidelines. Thanks, Babhru, for facilitating this. I really appreciate that it's going on, even though I can't directly participate.




Babhru Das - August 25, 2005 7:06 pm

Vrindaranya, please do participate to the extent you're able. My admonishment in my introuction to the activity about regular participation was intended mainly for my local meetings here in East Hawaii. We have a small house, and I think the optimal size for such discussion is 12-15 devotees, so I wanted to encourage those who take part not to behave as tourists, coming only when it was convenient. I just wanted a little commitment. I think we Tatvavivekis can cut you a little slack, considering all that you do for Swami and for us, and considering the quality of your contributions.


Besides, we have a week to read without having to make any contributions (Eager Igor is making us all seem a little laid back, perhaps), and a week for any online discussion. It's not as though you need to show up at my house at a particular time, although we would welcome your showing up just about any time. :o

Babhru Das - August 25, 2005 7:32 pm
Well it is self explainable - pure devotion –  means– not mixed devotion. When something is pure there is no trace of some other ingredient – it is 100% pure.  Like 100% pure mango juice. So pure devotion means pure love. There is no trace of selfishness, karma, jnana, mystical yoga perfection, sense satisfaction – when pure devotion resides in hearth – all other things automatically become insignificant.



WEll said, Igor, and I really appreciate the connections you've made to texts outside the introduction. I think this can be a good way to consider something carefully. And the quotations you include at the end bring us to Srila Prabhupada's discussion of the 11th verse as it's presented in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita.


However, just what pure devotion is may not be as self evident as we might think. There are some facets to examine, and the word anukulya (or, as here, anulkulyena) is a very rich word which has generated some subtle differences in understanding among our predecessors. That's why I asked how we understand the word based on Rupa's and the rupanugas' understanding. There are some differences between Rupa and Jiva, and some between Jiva and Visvanath. I'm working (along with all the other stuff I have going on) on putting those together in a way that's easy to follow.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - August 25, 2005 9:16 pm
Besides, we have a week to read without having to make any contributions, and a week for any online discussion.

Babhru, I think you should put dates into the body of the assignment, so it's clear when it's due. And one more thing, I thing you should make topic title a little more descriptive, for example “NOD - Assignment 2” instead of just “Assignment 2” because later when we will work on another book it might cause confusion.

Babhru Das - August 25, 2005 9:28 pm

Excellent suggestions, prabhu. Thank you. I think I mentioned a time line for the previous assignment, so I'll take care of that here (and add it to the post at the head of the thread).


My idea was that we would read and write about this assignment starting Monday, 8/22, and that we would begin discusssion on the 29th, carrying it on through the 5th of September.


Vrindaranya, are you able to change the thread's title?

Igor - August 26, 2005 2:03 pm
Eager Igor is making us all seem a little laid back

Dear Babhru,

Sorry. I completely missed post date ( or week ). :blink:

Vamsidhari Dasa - August 28, 2005 5:09 pm

I just wanted to say that I REALLY like this idea of having on line classroom and assignements. I would love to participate as much as I can although the requirements of my work and the time constrains might not allow me to complete assignments and be active. So basically, I would like to "sit-in". I think a lot of learning can occur just by following a thoughtful participation of others.

Welcome back Igor I am so pleased you are here again.

Vamsidhari d. :blink:

Babhru Das - August 28, 2005 7:01 pm
Dear Babhru,

Sorry. I completely missed post date ( or week ).  :blink:


Igor, there's certainly nothing for you to apologize for. With your nudge, we'll all be ready to start posting tomorrow or later in the week.

Babhru Das - August 28, 2005 7:03 pm

Dear Vamsidhari, please feel free to participate to the extent you're able. I know well how precious time can be for working folks. That goes for everyone. As I said, the strictures I suggested at first were meant mostly for the local devotees here on Hawaii. This is an open classroom. :blink:

Shyam Gopal Das - August 29, 2005 7:49 pm

I like it how Prabhupada summarizes devotional service as being favorable and in relation to Krishna. He not only summarizes the introduction by that, but at the same time gives us a short guideline for living our lives. Is it favorable what we do? I read this as are we adding something, are we giving? and are we doing this in relation to Krishna? Who are we serving? the devotees and Krishna, or still our ego in disguise as Krishna consciousness... just some thoughts maybe more to come when I find the time between packing and working before I'll fly out to SF.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - August 29, 2005 10:17 pm

Pure devotional service has to be cultivated. Cultivation should be done by following the predecessor teachers -- ebam parampara praptam. We cannot follow the path of artificial detachment -- we want Krsna’s service and service means action, means being alert. According to our acaryas false renunciation and artificial austerities should be rejected. Cultivation is an activity, which can be done with body or with the mind. In order to keep purity of such activities one must be freed from material desires, designations and philosophical speculations. Jnana-sunya bhakti -- sadhya-sara; we have to be free from material calculations and reasoning -- ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham -- surrender; continuously, in an ongoing way accept things favorable (anukulya) and reject things unfavorable (pratikulya), follow the spiritual master. The goal is anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam -- not being covered by material desires, fruitive activities, knowledge (not to be mixed with sambandha-jnana which we desire) or artificial detachment; only then pure devotional service can be done. All such activities must be in relationship with Krsna, they have to be favorable, pleasing with correct sentiment to Krsna -- mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah -- one should be prepared to sacrifice everything to make Him satisfied.

Babhru Das - August 30, 2005 6:57 am

Nanda-tanuja, I really like the connections you make to other, related, instructions. These help open up discussion, I think, and show how we can think about these points to make sense of them for ourselves.


Tomorrow morning I'll post a draft of most of my digest of the relevant discussion of the definition of uttama bhakti I mentioned. These points are likely to clarify some things for some of us and raise further questions for others. Both seem desirable to me. I need to strip the diacritics out before I post it, though.


And there'll be a supplement to that which I think will address the questions Shyam Gopal brings up. Again, if it raises more questions than it answers for some of us, I think that's a healthy thing.

Igor - August 30, 2005 3:38 pm

Thank you Vamsidhari on your encouragement. I am very happy that I can be here again and associate with you and other members of Tv. :blink: Babhru and others - let us continue with our swimming in the Ocean of devotion!


Further notes about Introduction to Nod


At the beginning of Introduction we can find that Krsna is addressed like reservoir of all rasas akila-rasamrta-murti and this is significant because prime subject of Nod is explanation of pure devotion, and more - explanation of relations between Supreme Lord and His devotees.


In this verse Srilla Rupa Goswami clearly states that Krsna, lover of Radha, is source of all loving mellows. Krsna is adi-purusa, but more then that He is source of all rasas and that Krsna is prime object of sublime devotional service. We can see that Srilla Rupa Goswami in this first verse of Nod explicitly state that radha-preyan, he who is dearmost to Srimati Radharani is reservoir of all pleasure and rasas. He did not mentioned Narayana or Visnu, but specifically -radha-preyan- Vrindavana Krsna.


That statement transfer us to most sacred loving playground - Vrindavana - only place where all such loving interactions are possible. That is place where only pure love for Krsna resides, in its maximum, where cowherd boys think - Krsna is my friend and I will subdue him in wrestling, where mother Yasoda want to give food to her beloved son etc. We can see that such relation exists only in Vrindavana, in land of love. Such loving relations are faraway from any other place, including Vaikuntha, and Rupa Goswami at the beginning tells us that Vrindavana Krsna is reservoir of all rasas, and further explanation of rasas is theme of Nod.


After defining Krsna like supreme goal and source of all rasas, Srilla Rupa Goswami is giving us the path - how we can attain our goal? Only by pure devotional service.

He states anyabhilasita-shunyam - such devotion is without desires other than those for the pleasure of Krsna, that is pure, self-sacrificing love and further he states that such devotion is not covered with unnecessary knowledge, fruitive activities or false detachment - there are no place for such heavy burden in pure devotion. jnana-karmady-anavritam - free from all such things.


After describing pure devotional service, Srilla Rupa Goswami states anukulyena krsnanu-shilanam. Such service must be anukulyena - favorable. And Krsnanu-shilanam cultivation of service in relationship to Krishna is what we need. Cultivation means something that we must be concerned, some activity. If we want to grow corn we must plant the seed, etc. so many things are there. That is cultivation, development.

And at the end, Srilla Rupa Goswami confirm - bhaktir uttama - such devotional service is first class devotional service.


So, we can see that Srilla Rupa Goswami specifically state that object, goal and source of all rasas is Krsna and after that he gave us definition of pure, topmost devotional service. Latter he will explain further details of such pure devotional service, stages, principles and other aspects.

Babhru Das - August 30, 2005 5:48 pm

Here's a draft of the discussion of key words in Rupa Gosvami's definition of bhakti. As always, if something is unclear or in error, please let me know. The next thing I post will be a digest of Visvanath's discussion of three types of bhakti.


Exploring the Ocean of The Nectar of Devotion

Discussion of key verses for Assignment 2


Some discussion of the words given in Brs. 1.1.11 may help us to understand the core definition of bhakti more clearly. The verse defines bhakti in two ways—indirectly and directly. The indirect definition gives marginal characteristics (tatastha laksana) of bhakti, essentially showing us what bhakti is by telling us what it is not. This is the first line of the verse, which I’ll discuss later. The direct definition tells us bhakti’s inherent, essential characteristics (svarupa laksana). These are given in two words: anukulyena krsnanusilanam.


Svarupa laksana

Anusilanam means constant, attentive practice or cultivation, so krsna-anusilanam means constant practice in relation to Krsna. So we can see that bhakti is activity, either physical, mental, or vocal. This understanding is most relevant with relation to bhakti practiced by sadhakas, those who have not yet attained bhava; there are somewhat different considerations of what constitutes anusilanam for those who have attained bhava.


Anukulyena is an adjective meaning “pleasing,” which describes the devotees’ attentive activity. However, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura cautions that we must avoid two errors in order to understand this properly. One error in understanding would be to overextend the definition of “pleasing.” For example, the blows of Canura and Mustika gave Krsna a kind of pleasure, but accepting them as bhakti would require ignoring the wrestlers’ hostile attitude. On the other hand, we may also err by under-extending the concept of pleasing Krsna. One example is Yasoda’s setting Krsna aside from nursing to attend to the pot of milk boiling over on the fire. This apparently did not please Krsna, as we see by his trembling lips and tears. Nevertheless, because she did so out of affection for Krsna and for his benefit (she was, after all, cooking the milk for Krsna), her “displeasing” Krsna is accepted as bhakti. Srila Cakravartipada makes it clear that the combination of these two words makes it clear that bhakti means active cultivation of those things that please Krsna, without any sense of enmity for Him.


Tatastha laksana

Visvanatha explains that recognizing bhakti’s marginal characteristics helps us understand just how exclusive pure devotion is by revealing what it is not.


Anyabhilasita-sunyam: The highest standard of devotional service is free from the inclination to act on desires other than the attainment of prema. This includes such pursuits as sense gratification, elevation to heavenly planes, and mystic siddhis. These desires’ presence itself is not the problem, nor would a spontaneous prayer for deliverance in the face of calamity. The real problem is the habit of trying to fulfill such desires, as if that were our nature.


Jnana-karmadyanavrtam: This means that pure devotional service is also free from the kinds of knowledge and activity that obscure or cover bhakti, but not those that nourish it. In other words, pure devotion excludes the kind of philosophical understanding that leads to the conclusion that we are not distinct in any way from the Personality of Godhead, but not knowledge of His personality, characteristics, and uncommon pastimes, or of the jiva’s eternal identity as a spark of consciousness inherently meant for pleasing the Lord. In the same way, a conviction that duties dictated by any sort of material consideration, even those apparently prescribed by Vedic culture, are excluded, but not activities that actually nurture our bhajan.

Bhrigu - September 1, 2005 5:45 pm

Excellent synopsis of the eleventh verse, Babhruji. If I may, I think that a third word should be added to the svarupa-laksana: Krishna. As Rupa Goswami will make clear later, Krishna is the only true object of devotion, and amongst all his forms, Vrajendranandana Krishna is the topmost object of devotion.


After discussing the somewhat differing viewpoints on anukula of Jiva Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti, Bon Maharaja (p. 23) offers the following paraphrase of the svarupa-laksana of bhakti: "Any active endeavour in relationship to Krishna that gives delight to Him and which is free from any malicious hostility, is bhakti."

Babhru Das - September 1, 2005 5:55 pm
Excellent synopsis of the eleventh verse, Babhruji. If I may, I think that a third word should be added to the svarupa-laksana: Krishna. As Rupa Goswami will make clear later, Krishna is the only true object of devotion, and amongst all his forms, Vrajendranandana Krishna is the topmost object of devotion.


Yes, I agree. I should have made that "Krishnanusilanam." I did mention Krishna in the discussion, but I think I didn't do justice to the idea that Krishna is the only worthy object of devotion. We could also discuss "adi" (jnana karmadyanivritam), but I think that most of us can infer from the rest that taking refuge of other activities would necessarily be excluded.


After discussing the somewhat differing viewpoints on anukula of Jiva Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti, Bon Maharaja (p. 23) offers the following paraphrase of the svarupa-laksana of bhakti: "Any active endeavour in relationship to Krishna that gives delight to Him and which is free from any malicious hostility, is bhakti."


Thanks. I like that. I was thinking of including that sentence from Bon Maharaja, but I decided against it for the sake of brevity and to give others a chance to contribute something.

Bhrigu - September 1, 2005 5:55 pm

A note on the tatastha-laksanas: Jiva Goswami glosses "adi" in "jnana-karmadi" as Vedic sacrifices, renunciation, yoga etc. These, as well as karma, obscure bhakti when one thinks that one has to perform them in order to avoid sin, or in order to help one's bhakti. As Guru Maharaja would say, it is a question of your angle of vision. These items in themselves need not be detrimental.

Audarya-lila Dasa - September 5, 2005 3:54 am

I was particularly taken by Sri Rupa's prayer that Sanatana Goswami will always reside in the 'ocean of nectar' and thus always feel transcendental happiness in service to Sri Radha Krsna. This really struck me because it shows that we should pray for our gaurdians and what that prayer should be.


On page XXIV I was hit very hard and convicted in my own meager attempt at devotion by the following statement:


(this isn't verbatim) - Described in S.B. are 9 processes of devotional service - besides which everything done is unfavorable.


This really puts the whole question of what is pure devotion in perspective and shows, me at least, just how far I am away from the goal.


My reflection:


Think about activities I perform daily and try to see connection to Krsna and whether or not any particular activity is favorable. Try to understand what activities I am performing on a routine basis or occasionally that are unfavorable and seek to reduce their occurance. Also, try to find possible ways to dovetail duties with favorable service. Always keep pure devotion as my active mission and strive in all ways to move toward this ideal way of acting.

Bhrigu - September 9, 2005 6:46 am

Here is a nice diagram of the various aspects of Krishnanushilanam, from Narayana Maharaja's edition of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu-bindu.