Bhakti-latā-bīja; “The Seed of Devotional Service”

“When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of śravaṇa and kīrtana [hearing and chanting], the seed will begin to sprout.

“As one waters the bhakti-latā-bīja, the seed sprouts, and the creeper gradually increases to the point where it penetrates the walls of this universe and goes beyond the Virajā River between the spiritual world and the material world. It attains brahma-loka, the Brahman effulgence, and, penetrating through that stratum, it reaches the spiritual sky and the spiritual planet Goloka Vṛndāvana.”

“Being situated in one’s heart and being watered by śravaṇa-kīrtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana in the topmost region of the spiritual sky.”

“The creeper greatly expands in the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet, and there it produces the fruit of love for Kṛṣṇa. Although remaining in the material world, the gardener regularly sprinkles the creeper with the water of hearing and chanting.

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Madhya-līlā, Chapter 19, Text 152-156

TEXT 152

mālī hañā kare sei bīja āropaṇa
śravaṇa-kīrtana-jale karaye secana

mālī hañā—becoming a gardener; kare—does; sei—that; bīja—seed of devotional service; āropaṇa—sowing; śravaṇa—of hearing; kīrtana—of chanting; jale—with the water; karaye—does; secana—sprinkling.

“When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of śravaṇa and kīrtana [hearing and chanting], the seed will begin to sprout.

PURPORT

To live with devotees or to live in a temple means to associate with the śravaṇa-kīrtana process. Sometimes neophyte devotees think that they can continue the śravaṇa-kīrtana process without worshiping the Deity, but the execution of śravaṇa-kīrtana is meant for highly developed devotees like Haridāsa Ṭhākura, who engaged in the śravaṇa-kīrtana process without worshiping the Deity. However, one should not falsely imitate Haridāsa Ṭhākura and abandon Deity worship just to try to engage in śravaṇa-kīrtana. This is not possible for neophyte devotees.

The word guru-prasāda indicates that the spiritual master is very merciful in bestowing the boon of devotional service upon the disciple. That is the best possible gift the spiritual master has to offer. Those with a background of pious life are eligible to receive life’s supreme benefit, and to bestow this benefit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead sends His representative to impart His mercy. Endowed with the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master distributes the mercy to those who are elevated and pious. Thus the spiritual master trains his disciples to render devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called guru-kṛpā. It is kṛṣṇa-prasāda, Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, that He sends a bona fide spiritual master to the deserving disciple. By the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, one meets the bona fide spiritual master, and by the mercy of the spiritual master, the disciple is fully trained in the devotional service of the Lord.

Bhakti-latā-bīja means “the seed of devotional service.” Everything has an original cause, or seed. For any idea, program, plan or device, there is first of all the contemplation of the plan, and that is called bīja, or the seed. The methods, rules and regulations by which one is perfectly trained in devotional service constitute the bhakti-latā-bīja, or seed of devotional service. This bhakti-latā-bīja is received from the spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. Other seeds are called anyābhilāṣa-bīja, karma-bīja and jñāna-bīja. If one is not fortunate enough to receive the bhakti-latā-bīja from the spiritual master, he instead cultivates the seeds of karma-bīja, jñāna-bīja, or political and social or philanthropic bīja. However, bhakti-latā-bīja is different from these other bījas. Bhakti-latā-bīja can be received only through the mercy of the spiritual master. Therefore one has to satisfy the spiritual master to get bhakti-latā-bīja (yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ). Bhakti-latā-bīja is the origin of devotional service. Unless one satisfies the spiritual master, he gets the bīja, or root cause, of karma, jñāna and yoga without the benefit of devotional service. However, one who is faithful to his spiritual master gets the bhakti-latā-bīja. This bhakti-latā-bīja is received when one is initiated by the bona fide spiritual master. After receiving the spiritual master’s mercy, one must repeat his instructions, and this is called śravaṇa-kīrtana-hearing and chanting. One who has not properly heard from the spiritual master or who does not follow the regulative principles is not fit for chanting (kīrtana). This is explained in Bhagavad-gītā (2.41): vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana. One who has not listened carefully to the instructions of the spiritual master is unfit to chant or preach the cult of devotional service. One has to water the bhakti-latā-bīja after receiving instructions from the spiritual master.

TEXT 153

upajiyā bāḍe latā ’brahmāṇḍa’ bhedi’ yāya
’virajā’ ’brahma-loka’ bhedi’ ’para-vyoma’ pāya

upajiyā—being cultivated; bāḍe—increases; latā—the creeper of devotional service; brahmāṇḍa—the whole universe; bhedi’-penetrating; yāya—goes; virajā—the river between the spiritual world and the material world; brahma-loka—the Brahman effulgence; bhedi’-penetrating; para-vyoma—the spiritual sky; pāya—attains.

“As one waters the bhakti-latā-bīja, the seed sprouts, and the creeper gradually increases to the point where it penetrates the walls of this universe and goes beyond the Virajā River between the spiritual world and the material world. It attains brahma-loka, the Brahman effulgence, and, penetrating through that stratum, it reaches the spiritual sky and the spiritual planet Goloka Vṛndāvana.”

PURPORT

A creeper generally takes shelter of a big tree, but the bhakti-latā, being the creeper of spiritual energy, cannot take shelter of any material planet, for there is no tree on any material planet that the bhakti-latā creeper can utilize for shelter. In other words, devotional service cannot be utilized for any material purpose. Devotional service is meant only for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sometimes men with a poor fund of knowledge maintain that bhakti can be applied to material things also. In other words, they say that devotional service can be rendered to one’s country or to the demigods, but this is not a fact. Devotional service is especially meant for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and it is beyond this material range. There is a river, or causal ocean, between the spiritual and material natures, and this river is free from the influence of the three modes of material nature; therefore it is called Virajā. The word vi means vigata (completely eradicated), and rajaḥ means “the influence of the material world.” On this platform, a living entity is completely free from material entanglement. For the jñānīs who want to merge into the Brahman effulgence, there is brahma-loka. Bhakti-latā, however, has no shelter in the material world, nor has it shelter in brahma-loka, although brahma-loka is beyond the material world. The bhakti-latā increases until it reaches the spiritual sky, where Goloka Vṛndāvana is situated.

TEXT 154
tabe yāya tad-upari ’goloka-vṛndāvana’
’kṛṣṇa-caraṇa’-kalpa-vṛkṣe kare ārohaṇa

tabe—thereafter; yāya—goes; tat-upari—to the top of that (the spiritual sky); goloka-vṛndāvana—to the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana where Kṛṣṇa lives; kṛṣṇa-caraṇa—of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa; kalpa-vṛkṣe—on the desire tree; kare ārohaṇa—climbs.

“Being situated in one’s heart and being watered by śravaṇa-kīrtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana in the topmost region of the spiritual sky.”

PURPORT

In the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.37) it is said:

ānanda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhāvitābhis
tābhir ya eva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ
goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūto
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi

“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord. He resides in His own realm, Goloka, with Rādhā, who resembles His own spiritual figure and who embodies the ecstatic potency [hlādinī]. Their companions are Her confidantes, who embody extensions of Her bodily form and who are imbued and permeated with ever-blissful spiritual rasa.” In the spiritual world, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, has expanded Himself in His spiritual potency. He has His eternal form of bliss and knowledge (sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha). Everything in the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet is a spiritual expansion of sac-cid-ānanda. Everyone there is of the same potency-ānanda-cinmaya-rasa. The relationship between the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His servitor is cinmaya-rasa. Kṛṣṇa and His entourage and paraphernalia are of the same cinmaya potency. When the cinmaya-rasa potency goes through the material potency, it becomes all-pervading. Although the Supreme Personality of Godhead exists on His own planet Goloka Vṛndāvana, He is present everywhere. Aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham. He is present within all universes, although they are innumerable. He is present within the atom. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati: He is also present within the heart of all living entities. This is His all-pervasive potency.

Goloka Vṛndāvana is the highest planet in the spiritual world. In order to go to the spiritual world after penetrating the cover of the material universe, one must penetrate brahma-loka, the spiritual effulgence. Then one can come to the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet. There are also other planets in the spiritual world called Vaikuṇṭha planets, and on these planets Lord Nārāyaṇa is worshiped with awe and veneration. On these planets the śānta-rasa is prevalent, and some of the devotees are also connected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the dāsya-rasa, the mellow of servitorship. As far as the mellow of fraternity is concerned, the Vaikuṇṭha rasa is represented by gaurava-sakhya, friendship in awe and veneration. The other fraternity rasa is exhibited as viśrambha (friendship in equality), and this is found in the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet. Above that is service to the Lord in vātsalya-rasa (paternal love), and above all is the relationship with the Lord in the mādhurya-rasa (conjugal love). These five rasas are fully exhibited in the spiritual world in one’s relationship with the Lord. Therefore in the spiritual world the bhakti-latā creeper finds its resting place at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.

TEXT 155

tāhāṅ vistārita hañā phale prema-phala
ihāṅ mālī sece nitya śravaṇādi jala

tāhāṅ—there in the spiritual world (in the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet); vistārita—expanded; hañā—becoming; phale—produces; prema-phala—the fruit known as love of Godhead; ihāṅ—in the material world, where the devotee is still present; mālī—exactly like a gardener; sece—sprinkles; nitya—regularly, without fail; śravaṇa-ādi jala—the water of śravaṇa, kīrtana and so on.

“The creeper greatly expands in the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet, and there it produces the fruit of love for Kṛṣṇa. Although remaining in the material world, the gardener regularly sprinkles the creeper with the water of hearing and chanting.

PURPORT

In Goloka Vṛndāvana the devotees have very intimate relationships with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The devotee engages in the Lord’s service in great ecstatic love. Such love was exhibited personally by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in His teachings to the people of the material world. The fruit of the devotional creeper is pure desire to serve and please the senses of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kṛṣṇendriya-prīti-icchā dhare ’prema’ nāma. (Cc. Ādi 4.165) In the spiritual world one has no desire other than to please the senses of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The conditioned soul within the material world can neither understand nor appreciate how the devotee in the material world can render confidential service to the Lord out of feelings of ecstatic love and always engage in pleasing the Supreme Lord’s senses. Although seen within this material world, the pure devotee always engages in the confidential service of the Lord. An ordinary neophyte devotee cannot realize this; therefore it is said, vaiṣṇavera kriyā-mudrā vijñāneha nā bujhaya. The activities of a pure Vaiṣṇava cannot be understood even by a learned scholar in the material world.

Every living entity is wandering within this universe in different species and on different planetary systems according to his fruitive activities. Out of many millions of living entities, one may be fortunate enough to receive the seed of bhakti-latā, the creeper of devotional service. By the grace of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, one nourishes the bhakti-latā by regularly sprinkling it with the water of śravaṇa-kīrtana, hearing and chanting. In this way the seed of bhakti-latā sprouts and grows up and up through the whole universe until it penetrates the covering of the material universe and reaches the spiritual world. The bhakti-latā continues to grow until it reaches the topmost planetary system, Goloka Vṛndāvana, where Kṛṣṇa lives. There the creeper takes shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord, and that is its final destination. At that time the creeper begins to grow the fruits of ecstatic love of God. It is the duty of the devotee who nourishes the creeper to be very careful. It is said that the watering of the creeper must continue: ihāṅ mālī sece nitya śravaṇādi jala. It is not that at a certain stage one can stop chanting and hearing and become a mature devotee. If one stops, one certainly falls down from devotional service. Although one may be very exalted in devotional service, he should not give up the watering process of śravaṇa-kīrtana. If one gives up that process, it is due to an offense. This is described in the following verse.

TEXT 156

yadi vaiṣṇava-aparādha uṭhe hātī mātā
upāḍe vā chiṇḍe, tāra śukhi’ yāya pātā

yadi—if; vaiṣṇava-aparādha—an offense at the feet of a Vaiṣṇava; uṭhe—arises; hātī—an elephant; mātā—mad; upāḍe—uproots; vā—or; chiṇḍe—breaks; tāra—of the creeper; śukhi’-shriveling up; yāya—goes; pātā—the leaf.

“If the devotee commits an offense at the feet of a Vaiṣṇava while cultivating the creeper of devotional service in the material world, his offense is compared to a mad elephant that uproots the creeper and breaks it. In this way the leaves of the creeper are dried up.

PURPORT

One’s devotional attitude increases in the association of a Vaiṣṇava.

tāṅdera caraṇa sevi bhakta-sane vāsa
janame janame haya, ei abhilāṣa

By his personal example, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura stresses that a devotee must always remember to please his predecessor ācārya. The Gosvāmīs are represented by one’s spiritual master. One cannot be an ācārya (spiritual master) without following strictly in the disciplic succession of the ācāryas. One who is actually serious in advancing in devotional service should desire only to satisfy the previous ācāryas. Ei chaya gosāñi yāra, mui tāra dāsa. One should always think of oneself as a servant of the servant of the ācāryas, and thinking this, one should live in the society of Vaiṣṇavas. However, if one thinks that he has become very mature and can live separate from the association of Vaiṣṇavas and thus gives up all the regulative principles due to offending a Vaiṣṇava, one’s position becomes very dangerous. Offenses against the holy name are explained in Ādi-līlā (Chapter Eight, verse 24). Giving up the regulative principles and living according to one’s whims are compared to a mad elephant, which by force uproots the bhakti-latā and breaks it to pieces. In this way the bhakti-latā shrivels up. Such an offense is especially created when one disobeys the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called guru-avajñā. The devotee must therefore be very careful not to commit offenses against the spiritual master. As soon as one is deviated from the spiritual master, the uprooting of the bhakti-latā begins, and gradually all the leaves dry up.

For more on the dangers of offenses to the Spiritual Master go to; https://theharekrishnamovement.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/mad-elephant-offense-vai%E1%B9%A3%E1%B9%87ava-aparadha/#more-3183

Text pasted from; Causless Mercy

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