by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura Mahasaya, from Chapter 10 of his book Krsna Samhita.
yeṣāḿ rāgoditaḥ kṛṣṇe śraddhā vā vimaloditā
teṣām ācaraṇaḿ śuddhaḿ sarvatra paridṛśyate
aśuddhācaraṇe teṣām aśraddhā vartate svataḥ
prapañca-viṣayād rāgo vaikuṇṭhābhimukho yataḥ
adhikāra-vicāreṇa guṇa-doṣau vivicyate
tyajanti satataḿ vādān śuṣka-tarkānanātmakān
sampradāya-vivādeṣu bāhya-lińgādiṣu kvacit
na dviṣanti na sajjante prayojana-parāyaṇāḥ
tat karma hari-toṣaḿ yat sā vidyā tan-matir yayā
smṛtvaitan niyataḿ kāryaḿ sādhayanti manīṣiṇaḥ
jīvane maraṇe vāpi buddhis teṣāḿ na muhyati
dhīrā namra-svabhāvāś ca sarva-bhūta-hite ratāḥ
ātmā śuddhaḥ kevalas tu mano jāḍyodbhavaḿ dhruvam
dehaḿ prāpañcikaḿ śaśvad etat teṣāḿ nirūpitam
jīvaś cid-bhagavad-dāsaḥ prīti-dharmātmakaḥ sadā
prākṛte vartamāno’yaḿ bhakti-yoga-samanvitaḥ
jñātvaitad vraja-bhāvāḍhyā vaikuṇṭha-sthāḥ sadātmani
bhajanti sarvadā kṛṣṇaḿ sac-cid-ānanda-vigraham
cit-sattve prema-bāhulyāl lińga-dehe mano-maye
miśra-bhāva-gatā sā tu prītir utplāvitā satī
prīti-kāryam ato baddhe mano-mayam itīkṣitam
punas tad-vyāpitaḿ dehe pratyag-bhāva-samanvitam
sāra-grāhī bhajan kṛṣṇaḿ yoṣid-bhāvāśrite’tmani
vīravat kurute bāhye śārīraḿ karma nityaśaḥ
puruṣeṣu mahā-vīro yoṣitsu puruṣas tathā
samājeṣu mahābhijño bālakeṣu suśikṣakaḥ
artha-śāstra-vidāḿ śreṣṭhaḥ paramārtha-prayojakaḥ
śānti-saḿsthāpako yuddhe pāpināḿ citta-śodhakaḥ
bāhulyāt prema-sampatteḥ sa kadācij jana-priyaḥ
antarańgaḿ bhajaty eva rahasyaḿ rahasi sthitaḥ
kadāhaḿ śrī-vrajāraṇye yamunā-taṭam āśritaḥ
bhajāmi sac-cid-ānandaḿ sāra-grāhi-janānvitaḥ
sāra-grāhi-vaiṣṇavānāḿ padāśrayaḥ sadāstu me
yat-kṛpā-leśa-mātreṇa sāra-grāhī bhaven naraḥ
vaiṣṇavāḥ komala-śraddhā madhyamāś cottamās tathā
grantham etat samāsādya modantāḿ kṛṣṇa-prītaye
na kadācid dhata-śraddhaḥ sāra-grāhi-jano bhavet
aṣṭādaśa-śate śāke bhadrake datta-vaḿśajaḥ
kedāro’racayac chāstram idaḿ sādhu-jana-priyam
1) We are now describing the characteristics of Krsna’s devotees who are in the mood of Vraja. The characteristics of those who have awakened raga, or faith in the form of purva-raga, is always pure and faultless. At this juncture we need to consider the science of raga, or attachment. The thread of bondage between the heart and its repository is called priti. The portion of the thread of bondage that binds the repository is called the sense of pleasure. The portion of the thread of bondage that binds the heart is called raga. The symptoms of a living entity’s pure spiritual attachment and a living entity’s impure mental attachment are similar in terms of the relationship between the heart and its repository. When attachment first begins to manifest, it is known as faith. The characteristics of both persons with faith and persons with attachment are pure.
2) One may ask, “What is the reason for this?” The answer is as follows: The science of the living entities’ attachment is one. Attachment is present whether the repository is the Lord or something mundane, the only difference is its repository. When attachment is turned towards Vaikuntha, then no attachment for the material world remains; one accepts only what is required for maintenance. Even the objects that are thus accepted become transcendental. Therefore all attachments become spiritualized. As soon as there is a lack of raga, asakti certainly diminishes. Due to accepting material objects with an impure motive, one naturally develops faithlessness. Therefore it is almost impossible for devotees to act sinfully. And if they do act impurely at any time, there is no need for atonement. The main purport is that sin is committed through activities or desires. Sinful activities are called sin, and sinful desires are called seeds of sin. Sinful activities are not sinful by constitution, because according to one’s desire they are sometimes sinful and sometimes not. If we try to search out the root cause of sinful desire, or the seed of sin, then we can ascertain that identifying one’s body as one’s self is the root cause of the pure living entity’s sinful desires. From this misidentification of one’s body as one’s self, both sin and piety arise. Therefore both sin and piety are relative, not constitutional. The activities or desires that relatively help a soul attain his constitutional position are called piety. The opposite are called sin. Since devotional service to Krsna is one’s constitutional position, when one cultivates this service, then nescience, which is the root cause of relative situations in the form of sin and piety, is gradually fried and abolished. Although the desire to engage in sinful activity may suddenly manifest like a fried kai fish, it is quickly subdued by the process of devotional service. The endeavor for atonement at this point is useless. There are three types of atonement—atonement through karma, atonement through jnana, and atonement through bhakti. Remembering Krsna is the atonement through bhakti. Therefore devotional service is atonement through bhakti. There is no need for devotees to separately endeavor for atonement. Atonement in jnana is through repentence. By atonement through jnana one’s sins and seeds of sin, or desires, are destroyed, but nescience is not destroyed without bhakti. By atonement through karma, such as candrayana (a kind of expiatory penance), one’s sins are checked, but the seeds of sinful desires and nescience, the root cause of sins and the desire to sin, remains. One must understand this science of atonement with careful consideration. The practice of repentance is observed in some foreign devotional processes based on paternal rasa, and since this paternal rasa is mixed with jnana and opulence, it is reasonable. In the unmotivated devotional service of the sweet Lord, however, there are no opposing rasas like fear, repentance, or liberation. Realization of one’s constitutional position and elimination of all previous sins, in the form of both fructified and unfructified sins, are both irrelevant fruits of bhakti and therefore easily attained by the devotees. As for the jnanis, they destroy their unfructified sins by the indirect process of repentance and they enjoy the results of their fructified sins in their current life. As for the karmis, their sins will be destroyed by enjoying the fruits, in the form of punishment. Therefore in the science of atonement it is extremely important to consider the qualification of the performer.
3) From animal life to human life and from regulative principles to attachment there are many levels of qualification. Performance of duties a person has according to his qualification is called piety, and deviation from those duties is called impiety. If we consider all activities according to this principle, then what is the need for separately calculating one’s piety and impiety? According to qualification, one person’s piety may be another’s impiety. When jackals and dogs steal and goats have illicit sex, can it be considered sinful? Such activities are certainly counted as sins for human beings. Those who are very attached to material objects should associate with women through marriage, as this is piety for such persons. But for one whose attachment for material objects has been totally directed towards the Supreme Lord, loving affairs through marriage are forbidden; because by great fortune he has attained love for Krsna. To divert that love for the Lord to material objects is certainly an act of degradation. On the other hand, people who are like animals may need to associate with more than one woman through marriage to become pious. From the beginning of the process of worshiping the Lord up to the attainment of the mood of Vraja there are different modes, such as ignorance, passion, goodness, and transcendence. According to the practitioner’s nature, advancement of knowledge, and absorption in the spirit of Vaikuntha, innumerable qualifications are seen. According to those qualifications, different forms of karma and jnana are seen. We do not want to increase the volume of this book by mentioning examples, because a thoughtful person can understand this himself. All dualities like sin and virtue, religion and irreligion, proper and improper actions, heaven and hell, knowledge and ignorance are all objects of dispute for persons who have perverted attachment. Actually they are neither pious nor impious. We only explain them as pious or impious due to relative consideration. If we independently consider, then we can understand that the pervertedness of the soul’s attachment is impiety and remaining in the constitutional position of the soul’s attachment is called piety. Swanlike persons accept those activities that nourish piety to be pious and those activities which nourish impiety to be impious. They do not take shelter of dry speculation or agree with biased arguments.
4) Nourishing love is the living entity’s goal of life. Knowing this, the devotees of Krsna do not like or hate external formalities and sectarian conflicts. They remain indifferent to all forms of insignificant bigotry.
5) The learned devotees of Hari know perfectly well that activities that are pleasing to Lord Krsna are called karma and activities that attract one’s mind to Krsna are called knowledge. Keeping this in mind, they engage only in the activities and cultivation of knowledge that nourishes their spiritual lives. They understand that all other activities and knowledge are useless.
6) They are naturally humble, fixed in knowledge, and always busy for the welfare of others. Their intelligence is so fixed that even if they suffer various severe pains in their present or future lives, they never deviate from spiritual life.
7 – 8) Whether their mind and body naturally change by the awakening of attachment or whether they cultivate knowledge to realize the science of attachment, the devotees of Krsna who are in the mood of Vraja come to a natural conclusion. The conclusion is that the soul is by nature pure and devoid of material qualities. What we call the mind has no existence of its own, for it is only a perversion of the soul’s contact with matter for increasing the knowledge of the conditioned soul. The soul’s original propensities are displayed in the relative world by the propensities of the mind. In the realm of Vaikuntha, a soul acts according to his constitutional propensities—there is no existence of this mind. When a soul comes in contact with matter, his pure knowledge becomes almost dormant and he accepts perverted knowledge as real. This knowledge is grasped by the interaction of the mind with matter. This is called material knowledge. Our present body is material and related with the soul only as long as the soul is conditioned. Only the Supreme Lord knows the relationship between a pure soul and his gross and subtle bodies; human beings are unable to know this. In the course of devotional service a devotee must accept whatever is required to keep body and soul together for as long as Lord Krsna desires. The living entity is spiritual by nature. He is an eternal servant of the Lord, so his only constitutional duty is to love the Lord. At the time of giving up the body, one attains, by the will of the Lord, a destination according to the state of one’s heart. Therefore a person who desires auspiciousness must accept the process of devotional service. When the Lord’s mercy is bestowed on a devotee who is following the process of devotional service, then the devotee’s connection with the material world is easily destroyed. This is never possible by one’s own endeavor—either by giving up the body, by renouncing activities, or by opposing the Lord. This supreme truth was obtained through samadhi. Human life is based on karma and jnana, but when one takes shelter of bhakti, then one’s devotion for Krsna awakens.
9) Persons who have realized this truth and are absorbed in the mood of Vraja worship Krsna, who is eternally full of knowledge and bliss, through samadhi.
10) When a living entity’s love for Krsna increases, then the waves of that love spread throughout his subtle mental body and create various mixed emotions. At that time there is an awakening of thinking, remembering, meditating, concentrating, and considering how to purify oneself—all of which help one worship through the mind. One should not abandon the process of worshiping through the mind because of mixed emotions, for these mixed emotions naturally remain until the destruction of the subtle body. The mental activities that accumulate through contact with matter demonstrate the concept of mundane idolatry, but the emotions that manifest and gradually spread throughout the mind and body in the soul’s endeavor for samadhi are all spiritually reflected truths.
11) Thus, for the conditioned souls, loving exchanges take the form of mental activities. These mental activities, which are reflections of spiritual exchanges, swell and further spread throughout the body. They appear on the tip of the tongue and glorify the spiritually reflected names and qualities of the Lord. They appear at the ears and hear the names and qualities of the Lord. They appear in the eyes and see the spiritually reflected sat-cid-ananda Deity form of the Lord in this material world. The shuddha-sattvika-bhavas, bodily transformations, swell in the body and manifest in the form of hairs standing on end, crying, perspiring, shivering, dancing, offering obeisances, falling to the ground, embracing with love, and traveling to the holy places. The soul’s inherent emotions could continue to remain active with the soul, but in the material world the mercy of the Lord is the principle force for awakening spiritual emotions and situating one in his constitutional position. With a desire to convert material attachment into spiritual attachment, all the spiritual emotions are mixed with material emotions for giving up parag-gati and practicing pratyag-gati. When a soul sits in the chariot of the mind and chases the sense objects through the gates of the senses, this is called parag-gati. When this current again flows towards the soul’s own abode, it is called pratyag-gati. The pratyag-dharma of being greedy to eat palatable foods is to eat maha-prasada. The pratyag-dharma of the eyes is to see holy places and the beautiful form of the Lord. The pratyag-dharma of the ears is to hear the pastimes of Hari and devotional songs. The pratyag-dharma of the nose has been exemplified by the four Kumaras when they smelled the tulasi and sandalwood that was offered to the feet of the Lord. The pratyag-dharma of associating with the opposite sex through marriage for the prosperity of a Vaisnava family was exemplified by Manu, Janaka, Jayadeva, and Pipaji. The pratyag-dharma of festivals is seen in the festivals celebrating the pastimes of Lord Hari. These human characteristics filled with emotions of pratyag-dharma are seen in the lives of pure swanlike personalities.
12) Does this mean that swanlike persons engage only in spiritual activities and neglect material activities? No. Swanlike persons worship Krsna in the mood of one who is enjoyed, and they valiantly take care of the external body. Eating, enjoying, exercise, industrial enterprises, walking in the open air, sleeping, riding in vehicles, protecting the body, protecting the society, and traveling are all seen in the lives of swanlike persons.
13) The swanlike Vaisnavas valiantly remain and work among men. They are the shelter of women and are respected by them. They take part in social activities and get much experience. They teach their children artha-sastra and thus become known as headmasters.
14) Books on physical and mental science, books on industry, books on the science of language, books on grammar, and books on ornamental language are all known as artha-sastra. Some kind of physical, mental, familial, and social benefits are obtained from these literatures. The name of these benefits is artha. The advantage of these literatures is that by studying books on medicine, one can get the benefit of a cure. By studying books on music, one can get the benefit of happiness to the mind and ears. By material scientific knowledge, various wonderful machines are created. By books on astrology, one can get the benefit of ascertaining subjects like proper and improper times. Those who study such artha-sastras are known as artha-vit scholars. The smriti-sastras establish varnashrama-dharma and are also known as artha-sastra. The smarta scholars are also known as artha-vit scholars, because the main purpose of their occupational duties is to protect society. The spiritual scholars, however, practice spiritual life with these arthas. Swanlike Vaisnavas are never averse to discussing these scriptures. They abstract the supreme goal of spiritual life from these artha-sastras and become worshipable among artha-vit scholars. The artha-vit scholars are happy to assist them in ascertaining the Absolute Truth. The swanlike Vaisnavas are present in the battlefield as negotiators. They do not hate or reject various sinful persons. Swanlike Vaisnavas are always engaged in purifying the hearts of sinful persons by confidential instructions, public lectures, friendly advice, chastising, setting example, and sometimes punishing sinners.
15) Although the characteristics of swanlike Vaisnavas are wonderful, sometimes they do not manifest the above-mentioned activities due to being overwhelmed with increased feelings of love. The swanlike Vaisnavas, who are very dear to all, sometimes live in secluded places and engage in the most confidential internal worship of the Lord.
16) While describing the glories of Vraja, the author’s intense greed for love of God has awakened and he therefore says, “When will I be so fortunate that I will worship the sat-cid-ananda Supreme Lord in the association of swanlike Vaisnavas in the forest of Vrndavana on the banks of the Yamuna?”
17) Let my eternal occupation be to take shelter of the lotus feet of the swanlike Vaisnavas. They are captains of the boat to cross the material ocean, and only by their mercy do karmis and jnanis become swanlike Vaisnavas.
18) There are three types of Vaisnavas—kanistha-adhikaris, whose faith is very soft, madhyama-adhikaris, and uttama-adhikaris. Those who consider karma-kanda and its results as permanent and are averse to the Absolute Truth are called mundane fruitive workers. Those who want to establish the liberation of merging in the impersonal Brahman are extremely dry and devoid of rasa. They are burnt by knowledge due to not understanding eternal varigatedness. The Vaisnavas are those who have accepted the eternal spiritual variegated nature of the living entities’ supreme destination. They are convinced that the living entities’ eternal position is to worship the Lord, who is merciful, full of sweetness and opulence, the abode of happiness, and always different from the living entities. The fruitive workers and mental speculators can become Vaisnavas and live as pure human beings by the influence of good association and good fortunate. The contamination that is found in the lives of kanistha-adhikari and madhyama-adhikari Vaisnavas is found in abundance among fruitive workers and mental speculators. Even if the fruitive workers and mental speculators become Vaisnavas, the remnants of their material conceptions and arguments remain as bad habits. Those bad habits are the contaminations that are found in the lives of kanistha-adhikaris and madhyama-adhikaris. Anyway, these contaminations are certainly the result of nescience and prejudice. Among the three types of Vaisnavas, the uttama-adhikari Vaisnavas have no prejudices or material conceptions. They may have a lack of knowledge in various material subject matters, but the swanlike Vaisnavas vigorously destroy all sorts of prejudices. The madhyama-adhikari Vaisnavas do not wish to be asslike Vaisnavas, but the swanlike tendency is not fully present in them. They have some doubts in their hearts due to previous prejudice. Although such persons accept spiritual variegated nature and natural samadhi, they cannot properly realize the science of Vaikuntha because of their argumentative nature. Although the kanistha-adhikaris are known as Vaisnavas, they are totally under the control of prejudice. They associate with fruitive work under the jurisdiction of regulative principles. Although they are not proper candidates for studying this book, if they discuss it with the assistance of uttama-adhikaris, they will also become uttama-adhikaris. Therefore all three types of Vaisnavas should study this book in order to increase their love for Krsna and achieve transcendental happiness.
19) We have discussed the Absolute Truth in this book, so please excuse any grammar or language defects. Swanlike persons should not waste any time in this way. Those who criticize such external defects while studying this book will obstruct its main purpose—accepting the essence of the Absolute Truth—and are not eligible to study this book. Arguments born of childish education are despicable in serious subject matters.
20) This book, which is dear to the devotees, was compiled by Kedaranatha, who belongs to the Bharadvaja kayastha community of the Datta family and who is a resident of Hatta Khola, Calcutta. This book was written in the year 1879 while staying in the town of Bhadraka, Orissa, for official purposes.