NoD--Assignment 7

Babhru Das - November 26, 2005 6:51 am

We have apparently done what we're going to with Chapter 4, so here's the assignment for Chapter 5:

Exploring the Ocean of The Nectar of Devotion

Assignment 7


Read Chapter 5 of The Nectar of Devotion, “The Purity of Devotional Service.” This chapter covers verses 30-59 of the second wave (chapter) of the Eastern Division of Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu. The main thrust of this chapter is that executing and perfecting devotional service does not depend on any material consideration. Srsila Rupa Gosvamsi mentions that endeavors for self realization ordinarily depend on prerequisites such as good birth, class purity, or properly carrying out the duties of varnasrama-dharma. Devotional service to Krishna, however, is, as Srila Prabhupada says, “not limited to any particular country, class, society, or circumstance,” but “is open for all, without any distinction, and it is the constitutional occupation of the living entities.” One interesting thing to note is how Srila Prabhupada weaves realizations born of his own experience into the chapter, taking the instructions beyond the 16th century to the 20th. As you read, please write down any points that seem important, interesting, puzzling, or in any way significant to you. Also, make notes about any connections you see between what you read in this chapter and what we’ve read and discussed in the previous assignments, as well as any connections with anything else you’ve heard from our acaryas. Write down any questions that arise, as well as any understanding you may gain as you read. I think it may be useful as well to write any responses you have to any of the supporting verses given in the chapter. Are there any that you wonder about, or that you find particularly meaningful? If the latter, why do they seem especially significant to you?


Write about how much this aspect of Lord Chaitanya’s mission affects our own lives as individuals. It may also be helpful to explore whether we see any individual, and even institutionalized, deviations from these values, i.e., the extent to which we see any negative discrimination based on bodily designations. This may be seen as a sort of “mission drift.” How can we deal with such issues? What can we do to more profoundly assimilate Srila Prabhupada’s mood and correct or minimize such deviation? You may also want to write about the opposite problem—inappropriate or overly rigid attempts to prevent mission drift, through, for example, stifling personal initiative and independent thought, fundamentalist behavior, etc.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - November 29, 2005 9:48 pm

I like the discussion of falldown. "He simply has to execute the rules and regulations for discharging devotional service, and this is sufficient for his reinstatement." How merciful Krsna is! Reminds me about a story of Putana, she was only dressed as a devotee, but got her place in the eternal lila in vatsalya-bhakti-rasa. Amazing.


I have a question about this verse:

Similarly, in the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Fifth Chapter, verse 42, Karabhajana Muni addresses King Nimi and says, "My dear King, a person who has given up the worship of the demigods and has completely concentrated his energy in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has become very, very dear to the Lord. As such, if by chance or mistake he does something which is forbidden, there is no need for him to perform any purificatory ceremonies. Because the Lord is situated within his heart, He takes compassion for the devotee's accidental mistake and corrects him from within."

What does "corrects him from within" actually mean? By awaking reason, remorse?

Bhrigu - December 1, 2005 4:48 pm

I have a question about this verse:


What does "corrects him from within" actually mean? By awaking reason, remorse?



More exactly, the verse says that the Lord "takes away (dhunoti) whatever sin he has performed". "Corrects" thus refers to the Lord's correcting the sinful situation of the servant. Several commentators state that this is because the Lord is by nature a remover of all faults (svabhaavata eva sarva-do.sahara.h). The commentary of Sripad Hridayananda Dasa Goswami summarises those of Srila Sridhara Swami, Jiva Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti:




In the previous verse it was clearly described that a fully surrendered devotee of the Supreme Lord has no need to perform ordinary, worldly duties. Now in this verse it is revealed that devotional service is so pure and potent that a surrendered devotee of the Lord has no need to perform any other purificatory process. As described in the Sixth Canto of Zriimad-Bhaagavatam, a surrendered devotee has no need to perform praayazcitta, or atonement for an accidental falldown into sinful activity. Since devotional service is itself the most purifying process, a sincere devotee who has accidentally stumbled on the path should immediately resume his pure devotional service at the lotus feet of the Lord. And thus the Lord will protect him, as stated in Bhagavad-giitaa (9.30):


api cet su-duraacaaro

bhajate mäm ananya-bhaak

saadhur eva sa mantavya.h

samyag vyavasito hi sa.h


The word tyaktaanya-bhaavasya in this verse is very significant. As stated in the previous verse, a pure devotee realizes clearly that all living entities, including Brahmaa and Ziva, are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus have no separate or independent existence. Realizing that everything and everyone is part and parcel of the Lord, a devotee automatically is not inclined to commit sinful activities by violating the order of God. However, due to the powerful influence of material nature, even a sincere devotee may be temporarily overwhelmed by illusion and deviate from the rigid path of pure devotional service. In such a case, Lord K.r.s.na Himself, acting within the heart, removes such sinful activities. Even Yamaraaja, the lord of death, has no power to punish a surrendered devotee who has accidentally committed sinful activities.

As stated here, K.r.s.na is pareza, or the Supreme Lord, and all secondary lords such as the demigods cannot threaten the Lord's personal devotees. In his youth Ajaamila had been a pious braahma.na engaged in the service of the Lord. Then, by bad association with a prostitute, he became practically the most degraded man in the world. At the end of his life, Yamaraaja sent his Yamaduutas to drag away the soul of the sinful Ajaamila, but the Personality of Godhead immediately sent His personal associates to save Ajaamila and demonstrate to Yamaräja that no secondary personality can disturb the personal devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in Bhagavad-giitaa, kaunteya pratijaaniihi na me bhakta.h pra.nazyati [bg. 9.31].

The argument may be raised that the sm.rti-zaastra states, zruti-sm.rti mamaivaajñe: the Vedic scriptures are the direct orders of the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, one may ask, how can the Lord tolerate that His orders be occasionally neglected, even by His devotees? To answer this possible objection, the word priyasya is used in this verse. The devotees of the Lord are very dear to the Lord. Although the beloved child may accidentally commit an abominable activity, the loving father forgives the child, taking into consideration the actual good intentions of the child. Thus, although the devotee of the Lord does not try to exploit the Lord's mercy by requesting the Lord to free him from any future suffering, the Lord, by His own initiative, frees the devotee from the reactions to accidental falldowns.

This causeless mercy of the Lord upon His devotee is His paramaizvaryam, or supreme opulence. Gradually the faithful devotee becomes free, even from accidental falldown, because simply by remembering the lotus feet of the Lord, what to speak of by actively rendering service to Him, his heart is purified. Although the surrendered devotees of the Personality of Godhead may sometimes appear to be affected by mundane attitudes, they are inevitably protected by the merciful Lord and are never actually defeated in life.

Babhru Das - December 8, 2005 6:34 pm

I guess I was waiting for others to comment before I set my oar in. This is indeed a really interesting verse. Bhrigu does a great service by sharing Hridayananda Maharaja's comments, which summarize those of Srila Jiva Goswami and SRial Visvanath Chakravarti Thakura. There's another comment that I think may add something to our understanding of this verse. First, I want to add two other translations of SB 11.5.42. Here's the BBT translation:

One who has thus given up all other engagements and has taken full shelter at the lotus feet of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is very dear to the Lord. Indeed, if such a surrendered soul accidentally commits some sinful activity, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is seated within everyone's heart, immediately takes away the reaction to such sin.


Here's David Haberman's:

The Supreme Lord hari abides within the heart of his dear devotee who has given up all desire for all else and is worhipping his own feet alone; if this devoee somehow commits an unlawful act Hari destroys all negative consequences.


I find it interesting to note that the Lord is referred to in the verse as "Hari." Haberman's footnote to this verse tells us that Srila Jiva Goswami comments that a true devotee has no need to expiate sins, and that to do so would indicate a lack of faith. This is based on the understanding discussed in Ch. 1 regarding pure devotional service's power to relieve us of all material distress by removing the root of suffering, which is sin born of aversion to service to Hari. (Does this make sense?) :lol:

Babhru Das - December 8, 2005 10:37 pm

This chapter examines the "purity" (its independence of all other considerations) of pure devotional service from a couple of angles: it's independent of any considerations of birth, of ordinary considerations for purity, and of the execution of duties prescribed by varnashrama, etc. Srila Prabhupada uses these, especially birth, to show how devotional service is meant for everyone, regardless of any of these considerations. This makes it available even for those of us born in the US, Finland, Poland, or wherever, outside the Vedic conception of civilized human society.


Reading his account of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's fight to establish that principle reminds me that I have Visvambhar Goswami of Radha-raman Temple telling about that. and how his grandfather worked with Srila Sarasvati Thakura for months beforehand, to help him prepare for that meeting.


Anyone else?

Babhru Das - December 11, 2005 4:54 am

No one else? Really? Maybe it's time for me to post Assignment 8. I do wonder, though, what the steady decline in views and posts means. I'd like to know whether TV members still think this is useful. I thought about posting a poll, but any feedback would be great. If anyone has suggestions about how I might improve this project, I'd be happy to hear them, either here or my email.

Bhrigu - December 11, 2005 7:44 am

I've also been wondering about the decline in activity at Tattvaviveka generally. I especially miss Vrindaranya's participation, and hope that she'll be back as soon as her cabin is ready. But also otherwise, most of the postings seem to come from the same small group of members. I don't know whether the others feel that the discussions are irrelevant to their devotional lives, or if they feel inadequate for participation. I know that as a new devotee I was afraid to join the discussions of "senior" devotees, only to learn afterwards that they had been waiting for me to join all along!


Even though my own activity in this thread has been rather sporadic, I do feel that it is very useful, Babhruji. That's at least one vote for "yes". :lol:

Shyam Gopal Das - December 11, 2005 9:24 am

Yes keep on posting! My non-devotional life has been rather demanding lately, so I have some catching up to do with regards to the NOD assignments. I try to read all your contributions though, but since I haven't read the chapter myself I refrain from posting anything myself.

Igor - December 11, 2005 10:43 am

Yes, this is very useful!!! If we cannot find some time to talk, write and read about krsna-katha then what we are doing here? Personally I had a lot obligations recently,( sorry for not posting in few assignments) but today is Ekadasi and Sunday ( not working day) so I will try to contribute to Assignment 7 ! Krsna Katha ki jay!


Few notes


1. Devotional service is transcendental to ALL material terms and conditions. Therefore it is purist activity because it is not from this world – it is activity that is eternally present in the realm of love, Goloka. With our limited senses, we can not properly see unlimited glory and power of devotional service, but by hearing from sadhu, guru and sastra, we can have some approach to that mystery.

Pure devotional service is like fire – blazing fire – no matter how large is forest, fire have capacity to turn it into ash. No matter how sinful and pollute is material concessness, devotional service have that purity, that power to completely cleanse mind and senses and to bring joy to living entity.

Lord Krsna said – pavitram idam utamam – devotional service is ultimate purifier. In his commentary to this verse Swami wrote “ It is the magic that transforms all things by way of unveiling their connection with their spiritual origin”. So devotional service magically transcends ALL material conditions and transfers us to our spiritual origin – pure love.


2.”not limited to any particular country, class, society, or circumstance,”

How can something so pure be limit? That is nature of Krsna concessness, that is nature of love! No one can limit pure devotional service and claim – we have it and only we know ALL about it! That is nonsense.

Unfortunately we can practically see that still there are numerous examples of separatism, fanatism and so many - isms in spiritual movements. That is product of ignorance. Name, fame and glory, the same all story. So many things are going on in the name of spiritualism. Many wrong things. Why? Because persons are limiting pure devotional service – Oh you are not ISKCON, you are not brahmana, you are not this and that – all the same mistakes. You are not within my small frame. But pure devotional service have nothing with such misunderstandings. We can see it in Bhagavatam . Ajamila was very sinfull, and yet Visnudutas come! Bhakti is hearth affair and it is not limited to country, class, society etc.


3. It may also be helpful to explore whether we see any individual, and even institutionalized, deviations from these values, i.e.


There are numerous examples. Spiritual movement in which institutional structure become more important than spirituality is deviation, core of its existence is not in structure. It is not A,B,C. It is not if you go there and there, do this and that, you will become pure devotee. We have so much examples – modern Christianity, Gaudiya Math after Bhaktisidhanthas departure, ISKCON etc. Pure devotional service can not be framed!


One mataji from here was disciple of Harikesa Swami. Afrer Harikesa Swami left ISKCON, she find great inspiration in another ISKCON guru. She approached him for further instructions and he said to her – I am sorry, you are not in my zone!

That is just small example example of deviation. What about her feelings, inspiration? No she is not from my zone! Well I think that we are all in Krsna’s zone! When material boundaries are more important, structure – then essence is not there.


4.How can we deal with such issues?


We must follow sadhu, guru and sastra. We must find pure devotee and surrender to him and learn. If we are sincere Krsna will give us right understanding. Than we can talk to others about such issues. We have example of Prabhupada. He just continued with his Gurudevas mission. No politics, no quarrellings. That is wasting of time. What is use in that?. He continued with devotional service and that is how we can deal with such issues. Our Swami is great example.We can learn that from our Gurudeva.

Hari-priya Dasi - December 11, 2005 11:35 am

I would also like to thank you Babhruji for doing this Nectar of Devotion project! It has been really interesting to follow the discussion. I admire your ability to direct the discussion and find some interesting and fruitful points in all postings! I know I haven’t been participating that much myself… Sometimes (or I guess fairly often) I just get the feeling I don’t have much to say. And I hate commenting just for the sake of commenting. :(


In general I guess I just make the threshold for writing on Tattva-viveka way too high for myself. Sometimes I for instance think that it would be nice to ask some questions. But then I usually start suspecting that those questions have already been dealt with there before I joined. So I always come up with the plan that I will look through all the previous post so that people don’t have to write same things over and over again… Of course I never find the time or energy to search previous posts so questions remain… Sometimes I am also worried that I make a total fool of myself if I write about my thoughts and feelings… (Do I really think I have something to loose? :lol: )


Anyway Tattva-viveka is very important forum for me since I live alone in countryside and don’t meet the devotees very often. I think I am trying to write a bit more often from now on. Not artificially feeling a hard pressure of obligation to participate, but at least when I feel I would like to say or ask something. :D

Bhrigu - December 11, 2005 12:08 pm
(Do I really think I have something to loose? rolleyes.gif )


In the very first letter I wrote to devotees (I still have the reply somewhere), I asked for example this:


"If you guys are so much against smoking, drinking, etc, why do you then use incense!?!?!?"


So I don't think you have a lot to lose, Haripriya. And if a question has been asked before, somebody will surely post a link to that answer. Many questions also have many answers.


(The answer to my :lol: question was polite and brief: incense is used just for the fragrance)

Swami - December 11, 2005 3:39 pm

This thread is very important. I sm going to make the time to go through it from the beginning and see if I can add anything. If I can't, that will only speak louder as to its value.


(However, my computer is in the shop again. So give me some time)

Babhru Das - December 11, 2005 8:26 pm

Okay, it looks as though there's plenty of reason to keep on. I was just checking, after noticing a steady decline in the number of views and posts, to see if that indicated that interest was declining. Coming up soon will be Chapter 7, which I find a very interesting chapter, as it presents the 64 angas of bhakti, beginning with accepting a guru, etc. We discussed that chapter here in East Hawaii yesterday, and we weren't anywhere near finishing with the first 5 angas. So there's fun to come, folks.


Are we ready for Chapter 6?

Babhru Das - December 12, 2005 6:32 am

I join Bhrigu in encouraging Haripriya, and eveyone else, to post any questions they have. Keep in mind that this is not a public forum. We're family, and there's no one here whose interest is not helping each other. I hope we'll all feel safe to ask questions that help us deepen and broaden our realization, not just questions that we think may make us look cool.

Babhru Das - December 12, 2005 6:43 pm

I'm guessing we're done with Ch. 5, so I'll post Assignment 8 for Ch. 6. Still, if anyone has any questions or comments regarding Ch. 5, they're always welcome. We don't close these threads.