Bhakti is Simply Wonderful
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.02.42(B) - Bhakti is Simply Wonderful (download mp3)
by Purushottam Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir
anyatra caisa trika eka-kalah
prapadyamanasya yathasnatah syus
tustih pustih ksud-apayo ’nu-ghasam
Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from other things — these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the same way that pleasure, nourishment and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating.
Srila Jiva Gosvami has explained this analogy as follows: Bhakti, or devotion, may be compared to tusti (satisfaction) because they both take the form of pleasure. Paresanubhava (experience of the Supreme Lord) and pusti (nourishment) are analogous because both sustain one’s life. Finally, virakti (detachment) and ksud-apaya (cessation of hunger) may be compared because both free one from further hankering so that one may experience santi, or peace.
A person who is eating not only becomes uninterested in other activities but increasingly becomes uninterested in the food itself, according to his satisfaction. On the other hand, according to Srila Jiva Gosvami, although one who is experiencing the blissful Personality of Godhead, Krsna, becomes uninterested in anything other than Krsna, his attachment to Krsna increases at every moment. Therefore it is to be understood that the transcendental beauty and qualities of the Supreme Lord are not material, since one never becomes satiated by relishing the bliss of the Supreme Lord.
The word viraktih is very significant in this verse. Virakti means “detachment,” whereas tyaga means “renunciation.” According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the word renunciation can be used in a situation in which one considers giving up an enjoyable object. But by considering everything to be potential paraphernalia in the service of Lord Krsna, as described in the previous verse, one need not give thought to renunciation, for one uses everything in the proper way in the service of the Lord. Yukta-vairagyam ucyate.
The very pleasant analogy of a good meal is given in this verse. A hungry man busily consuming a sumptuous plate of food is not interested in anything else happening around him. In fact, he considers any other topic or activity a disturbance to his concentration on the delicious meal. Similarly, as one advances in Krsna consciousness one considers anything unrelated to the devotional service of Krsna an obnoxious disturbance. Such concentrated love of Godhead has been described in the Second Canto of the Bhagavatam by the words tivrena bhakti-yogena yajeta purusam param (Bhag. 2.3.10). One should not make an artificial show of renouncing the material world; rather, one should systematically train the mind to see everything as an expansion of the opulence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as a hungry materialistic man, upon seeing sumptuous food, immediately desires to put it in his mouth, an advanced devotee of Krsna, upon seeing a material object, immediately becomes eager to use it for the pleasure of Krsna. Without the spontaneous hunger to engage everything in the service of Krsna and to dive deeper and deeper into the ocean of love of Krsna, so-called realization of God or loose talk about so-called religious life is irrelevant to the actual experience of entering the kingdom of God.
According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the path of bhakti-yoga is so joyful and practical that even in the stage of sadhana-bhakti, in which one follows rules and regulations without an advanced understanding, one can perceive the ultimate result. As stated by Srila Rupa Gosvami (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.187):
iha yasya harer dasye
karmana manasa gira
nikhilasv apy avasthasu
jivan-muktah sa ucyate
As soon as one surrenders to the Supreme Lord, Krsna (prapadyamanasya), giving up all other activities (viraktir anyatra ca), one is immediately to be considered a liberated soul (jivan-muktah). The Supreme Lord, Krsna, is so merciful that when a living entity understands that the personality Krsna is the source of everything and surrenders to the Lord, Krsna personally takes charge of him and reveals to him within his heart that he is under the Lord’s full protection. Thus devotion, direct experience of the Personality of Godhead, and detachment from other objects become manifest even in the beginning stage of bhakti-yoga, since bhakti-yoga begins at the point of liberation. Other processes have as their final goal salvation or liberation, but according to Bhagavad-gita (18.66):
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
If one surrenders to Krsna one is immediately liberated and thus begins his career as a transcendental devotee with complete confidence in the Lord’s protection.