Assignment 15

Babhru Das - July 4, 2006 6:45 am

Read Chapter 13 of The Nectar of Devotion, “Five Potent Forms of Devotional Service.” The chapter covers verses 238-247of the second wave of Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu’s Eastern Division. This chapter completes discussion of the 64 angas of bhakti and discusses more fully the wonderful effects of performing the five most potent forms of devotional service described in Chapter 12. It also begins discussion of some items mistakenly considered to be angas of bhakti.


Of these five particularly potent practices, Srila Prabhupada writes, that they are “so potent that a small attachment for any of these five items can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte” (p. 109). This means that they’re so powerful that any one of them can arouse bhava-bhakti in even those of us whose attachment to Krishna is still weak. If we think about it, we can see that Srila Prabhupada made these five items the foundation of his mission by teaching us to regularly chant the Hare Krishna mantra, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam daily, worship the Deity lavishly in the temple, and associate with devotees, and by engaging us in developing expensive facilities in Mayapura and Vrindavana. As powerful as these items of devotional service are, however, they will withhold their effects as long as we commit offenses. Devotees who want to advance quickly in devotion should focus on these angas of bhakti as much as possible and carefully avoid offenses, especially against vaishnavas, as explained in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 22. 133 (which is text 238 of this second wave of Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu):

duruhadbhuta-virye ‘smin sraddha dure ‘stu pancake

yatra sv-alpo ‘pi sambandhah sad-dhiyam bhava-janmane


“The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Krishna simply by being a little connected with them.” Srila Jiva Gosvami explains that sad-dhiyam (pure hearts or pure thinking) in this text means free from offenses to devotional service, to the holy name, and to vaishnavas.


We may also note that the effects described here should be accepted at face value and not be mistaken as exaggeration or hyperbole. Srila Prabhupada writes that “there is no overestimation . . . nor are they [just] stories. They are actual facts, but are true for certain devotees and do not necessarily apply to all. These descriptions, even if considered overestimations, must be taken as they are, in order to divert our attention from the fleeting material beauty to the eternal beauty of Krishna consciousness. And for a person who is already in contact with Krishna consciousness, the described results are not unusual.”


The chapter ends by explaining that following the principles of varnasrama-dharma are not accepted as among the angas even of vaidhi-sadhana bhakti, as we see in Ramananda-samvad (Mahaprabhu’s conversation with Raya Ramananda), in Krishna’s final instruction to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita, and in Krishna’s instruction to Uddhava in Srimad-Bhagavatam.


This chapter gives us a chance to review and reconsider the 64 angas of regulated devotional practice discussed over the past several chapters. Which of them still gives us trouble, either in the matter of clear understanding or in practice? Are there question or points of consideration you’d like to see discussed further, or that we haven’t yet discussed, but should have? Which of these is/are your favorite(s), and why?

Babhru Das - July 16, 2006 6:37 am

No one? Really?


When we discussed this here in Hawaii, there was some discussion about things like honoring sacred trees and such items. We had some good favorites, too. Vidagdha Madhava said his favorite was hearing. He spent considerable time with Srila Sridhar Maharaja and really liked hearing from him. I'll need some time to remember some of the others.

Bhrigu - July 16, 2006 5:53 pm

I like murti-seva a lot, but in this chapter, Srila Prabhupada's description of Mathura-vasa was especially charming to me. Particularly how he describes arriving in Vrindavana! I'm sure all devotees who have had the fortune to visit there can identify with it. I've had some wonderful experiences. Riding a crowded 2nd class train compartment from Nizamuddin train station in Delhi, slowly rolling out through the slums, coming out into the lush countryside, arriving into incredible, chaotic Mathura, getting off, haggling with the motor-rickshaw-wallahs, bumping away North through the broken roads of Mathura, passing the Janmasthan-intersection and getting a quick gimpse of the temple, continuing away North while the sun is setting, seeing all the people, the cows, water-buffaloes, camels, horses, donkeys and mangy dogs, feeling the expectations and exitment rise and rise, chanting songs and verses glorifying the dhama under the angry sound of the diesel -- until finally arriving in sweet, magical and crazy Vrindavana.

Babhru Das - July 16, 2006 9:20 pm

This reminds me of my first visit, in 1980. Everything was just sort of exciting India until we got to the Mathura bus station. We got on the bus we were told was going to Vrindavan, with some trunks and duffle bags of stuff for the Honolulu temple, and waited as the bus loaded up, then emptied, then loaded up, then emptied again. The third load seemed to be the charm, except that the bus was so packed that I found myself bent over the corner of a trunk with two or three people on top of me. Aware of my lack of forbearance, I just chanted and occasionally reminded myself that, yes, this would be unbearable, except for getting to Vrindavan. Then, about half way to Vrindavan, the bus broke down, and they unloaded us all again. I remember sitting in the middle of the road and telling Sauri, the devotee I was travelling with, "I can't believe it! I've waited over ten years and come ten thousand miles, and she's not going to let me in." Just when I thought I was about to break down, a devotee who had lived in Honolulu a few years before came by on a riksha and offered us a ride. The rest of the way was peaceful, even blissful. When we got to the temple, I immediately got down, rolled in the dust, and shouted over and over again, "Jaya Krishna-Balaram!"


A day and a half later I came down with malaria. As everyone else went out on parikrama or engaged in hours-long kirtans, I lay on the floor of my room and cried. That was probably more purifying for me at the time than actually going on the parikramas. (But a lot less fun.)

Babhru Das - July 26, 2006 4:40 am

Well, this assignment seems to be going nowhere here, so I'll move on.