Introduction
Invoking auspiciousness: Lord Sri Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, the reservoir of all rasas, or relationships, which are called neutrality (passive adoration), servitorship, friendship, parenthood, conjugal love, comedy, compassion, fear, chivalry, ghastliness, wonder and devastation. He is the supreme attractive form, and by His universal and transcendental attractive features He has captivated all the gopis, headed by Taraka, Palika, Syama, Lalita, and ultimately, Srimati Radharani. Let His Lordship's grace be on us so that there may not be any hindrance in the execution of this duty of writing The Nectar of Devotion, impelled by His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada.
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada and of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, by whose inspiration I have been engaged in the matter of compiling this summary study of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. This is the sublime science of devotional service as propounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared 500 years ago in West Bengal, India, to propagate the movement of Krsna consciousness.
Srila Rupa Gosvami begins his great book by offering his respectful obeisances unto Sri Sanatana Gosvami, who is his elder brother and spiritual master, and he prays that Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu may be very pleasing to him. He further prays that by residing in that ocean of nectar he may always feel transcendental pleasure in the service of Radha and Krsna.
Let us offer our respectful obeisances to all the great devotees and acaryas (holy teachers), who are compared with sharks in the great ocean of nectar and who do not care for the various rivers of liberation. Impersonalists are very fond of merging into the Supreme, like rivers that come down and merge into the ocean. The ocean can be compared with liberation, and the rivers with all the different paths of liberation. The impersonalists are dwelling in the river water, which eventually comes to mix with the ocean. They have no information, however, that within the ocean, as within the river, there are innumerable aquatic living entities. The sharks who dwell in the ocean do not care for the rivers which are gliding down into it. The devotees eternally live in the ocean of devotional service, and they do not care for the rivers. In other words, those who are pure devotees always remain in the ocean of transcendental loving service to the Lord and have no business with the other processes, which are compared to the rivers that only gradually come to the ocean.
Srila Rupa Gosvami prays to his spiritual master, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, for the protection of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-The Ocean of the Pure Nectar of Devotional Service-from the argumentative logicians who unnecessarily meddle in the science of service to the Lord. He compares their arguments and logic to volcanic eruptions in the midst of the ocean. In the midst of the ocean such volcanic eruptions can do very little harm, and similarly, those who are against devotional service to the Lord and who put forward many philosophical theses about the ultimate transcendental realization cannot disturb this great ocean of devotional service.
The author of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acaryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu is divided into four parts, just as the ocean is sometimes divided into four parts, and there are different sections within each of these four divisions. Originally in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, the ocean is divided like the watery ocean into east, west, north and south, while the sub-sections within these different divisions are called waves. As in the ocean there are always different waves, either on the eastern side, the western side, the northern side or the southern side, so similarly Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu has different waves. In the first part there are four waves, the first being a general description of devotional service. The second concerns the regulative principles for executing devotional service, and the third wave devotional service in ecstasy. In the fourth is the ultimate goal, love of God. These will be explicitly described along with their different symptoms.
The authorized descriptions of bhakti, or devotional service, following in the footsteps of previous acaryas, can be summarized in the following statement by Srila Rupa Gosvami: "First-class devotional service is known by one's tendency to be fully engaged in Krsna consciousness, serving the Lord favorably." The purport is that one may also be in Krsna consciousness unfavorably, but that cannot be counted as pure devotional service. Pure devotional service should be free from the desire for any material benefit or for sense gratification, as these desires are cultivated through fruitive activities and philosophical speculation. Generally, people are engaged in different activities to get some material profit, while most philosophers are engaged in proposing transcendental realization through volumes of word jugglery and speculation. Pure devotional service must always be free from such fruitive activities and philosophical speculations. One has to learn Krsna consciousness or pure devotional service from the authorities by spontaneous loving service.
This devotional service is a sort of cultivation. It is not simply inaction for people who like to be inactive or devote their time to silent meditation. There are many different methods for people who want this, but cultivation of Krsna consciousness is different. The particular word used by Srila Rupa Gosvami in this connection is anusilana, or cultivation by following the predecessor teachers (acaryas). As soon as we say "cultivation," we must refer to activity. Without activity, consciousness alone cannot help us. All activities may be divided into two classes: one class may be for achieving a certain goal, and the other may be for avoiding some unfavorable circumstance. In Sanskrit, these activities are called pravrtti and nivrtti-positive and negative action. There are many examples of negative action. For instance, a diseased person has to be cautious and take medicine in order to avoid some unfavorable illness.
Those who are cultivating spiritual life and executing devotional service are always engaged in activity. Such activity can be performed with the body or with the mind. Thinking, feeling and willing are all activities of the mind, and when we will to do something, the activity comes to be manifest by the gross bodily senses. Thus, in our mental activities we should always try to think of Krsna and try to plan how to please Him, following in the footsteps of the great acaryas and the personal spiritual master. There are activities of the body, activities of the different senses and activities of speech. A Krsna conscious person engages his words in preaching the glories of the Lord. This is called kirtana. And by his mind a Krsna conscious person always thinks of the activities of the Lord-as He is speaking on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra or engaging in His various pastimes in Vrndavana with His devotees. In this way one can always think of the activities and pastimes of the Lord. This is the mental culture of Krsna consciousness.
Similarly, we can offer many services with our bodily activities. But all such activities must be in relationship with Krsna. This relationship is established by connecting oneself with the bona fide spiritual master who is the direct representative of Krsna in disciplic succession. Therefore, the execution of Krsna conscious activities with the body should be directed by the spiritual master and then performed with faith. The connection with the spiritual master is called initiation. From the date of initiation by the spiritual master, the connection between Krsna and a person cultivating Krsna consciousness is established. Without initiation by a bona fide spiritual master, the actual connection with Krsna consciousness is never performed.
This cultivation of Krsna consciousness is not material. The Lord has generally three energies-namely, the external energy, the internal energy, and the marginal energy. The living entities are called marginal energy, and the material cosmic manifestation is the action of the external or material energy. Then there is the spiritual world, which is a manifestation of the internal energy. The living entities, who are called marginal energy, perform material activities when acting under the inferior external energy. And when they engage in activities under the internal spiritual energy, their activities are called Krsna conscious. This means that those who are great souls or great devotees do not act under the spell of material energy, but act instead under the protection of the spiritual energy. Any activities done in devotional service or in Krsna consciousness are directly under the control of spiritual energy. In other words, energy is a sort of strength, and this strength can be spiritualized by the mercy of both the bona fide spiritual master and Krsna.
In the Caitanya-caritamrta, by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Lord Caitanya states that it is a fortunate person who comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. One who is serious about spiritual life is given by Krsna the intelligence to come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, and then by the grace of the spiritual master one becomes advanced in Krsna consciousness. In this way the whole jurisdiction of Krsna consciousness is directly under the spiritual energy-Krsna and the spiritual master. This has nothing to do with the material world. When we speak of Krsna we refer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His many expansions. He is expanded by His plenary parts and parcels, His differentiated parts and parcels and His different energies. Krsna, in other words, means everything and includes everything. Generally, however, we should understand Krsna to mean Krsna and His personal expansions. Krsna expands Himself as Baladeva, Sankarsana, Vasudeva, Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Rama, Nrsimha and Varaha, as well as many other incarnations and innumerable Visnu expansions. These are described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam to be as numerous as the uncountable waves. So Krsna includes all such expansions, as well as His pure devotees. In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that Krsna's expansions are all complete in eternity, blissfulness and cognizance.
Devotional service means to prosecute Krsna conscious activities which are favorable to the transcendental pleasure of the Supreme Lord Krsna, and any activities which are not favorable to the transcendental favor of the Lord cannot be accepted as devotional service. For example, great demons like Ravana, Kamsa and Hiranyakasipu were always thinking of Krsna, but they were thinking of Him as their enemy. This sort of thinking cannot be accepted as bhakti, or Krsna consciousness.
The impersonalists sometimes misunderstand devotional service in such a way that they divide Krsna from His paraphernalia and pastimes. For example, the Bhagavad-gita is spoken on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, and the impersonalists say that although Krsna is of interest, the battlefield of Kuruksetra isn't. The devotees, however, also know that the battlefield of Kuruksetra by itself has nothing to do with their business, but in addition they know that "Krsna" does not mean just Krsna alone. He is always with His associates and paraphernalia. For instance, if someone says, "Give something to eat to the man with the weapons," the eating process is done by the man and not by the weapons. Similarly, in Krsna consciousness, a devotee may be interested in the paraphernalia and locations-such as the battlefield of Kuruksetra-which are associated with Krsna, but he is not concerned with simply any battlefield. He is concerned with Krsna-His speech, His instructions, etc. It is because Krsna is there that the battlefield is so important.
This is the summary understanding of what Krsna consciousness is. Without this understanding one is sure to misunderstand why the devotees are interested in the battlefield of Kuruksetra. One who is interested in Krsna becomes interested in His different pastimes and activities.
The definition of a pure devotee, as given by Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, can be summarized thus: his service is favorable and is always in relation to Krsna. In order to keep the purity of such Krsna conscious activities, one must be freed from all material desires and philosophical speculation. Any desire except for the service of the Lord is called material desire. And philosophical speculation refers to the sort of speculation which ultimately arrives at a conclusion of voidism or impersonalism. This conclusion is useless for a Krsna conscious person. Only rarely by philosophical speculation can one reach the conclusion of worshiping Vasudeva, Krsna. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita itself. The ultimate end of philosophical speculation, then, must be Krsna, with the understanding that Krsna is everything, the cause of all causes, and that one should therefore surrender unto Him. If this ultimate goal is reached, then philosophical advancement is favorable, but if the conclusion of philosophical speculation is voidism or impersonalism, that is not bhakti.
Karma or fruitive activities are sometimes understood to be ritualistic activities. There are many persons who are very much attracted by the ritualistic activities described in the Vedas. But if one becomes attracted simply to ritualistic activities without understanding Krsna, his activities are unfavorable to Krsna consciousness. Actually, Krsna consciousness can be based simply on hearing, chanting, remembering, etc. Described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam are nine different processes, besides which everything done is unfavorable to Krsna consciousness. Thus, one should always be guarding against falldowns.
Srila Rupa Gosvami has also mentioned in this definition of bhakti the word jnana-karmadi. This karmadi (fruitive work) consists of activities which are unable to help one attain to pure devotional service. Many forms of so-called renunciation are also not favorable to Krsna conscious devotional service.
Srila Rupa Gosvami has also quoted a definition from the Narada-pancaratra, as follows: "One should be free from all material designations and must be cleansed of all material contamination by Krsna consciousness. He should be restored to his pure identity, where he engages his senses in the service of the proprietor of the senses." So when our senses are engaged for the actual proprietor of the senses, that is called devotional service. In our conditional state, our senses are engaged in serving these bodily demands. When the same senses are engaged in executing the order of Krsna, it is called bhakti.
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.

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