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Anyabhilasita-sunya - devotees
SB Canto 4
When Hiraṇyakaśipu asked immortality from Lord Brahmā, Lord Brahmā expressed his inability to offer such a benediction because he himself is not immortal; therefore immortality, or complete cessation of the chain of repeated birth and death, can be offered by the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead Himself, not by others. Hariṁ vinā na mṛtim taranti. It is said that without the blessings of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can stop the continuous chain of birth and death within this material world. Therefore the Supreme Lord is also called bhava-cchit. The Vaiṣṇava philosophy in the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness prohibits the devotee from all kinds of material aspirations. A Vaiṣṇava devotee should always be anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya, free from all material aspirations for the results of fruitive activities or empiric philosophical speculation. Dhruva Mahārāja was actually initiated by Nārada Muni, the greatest Vaiṣṇava, in the chanting of oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya. This mantra is a viṣṇu-mantra, for by practicing the chanting of this mantra one is elevated to the Viṣṇuloka. Dhruva Mahārāja regrets that although he was initiated in the viṣṇu-mantra by a Vaiṣṇava, he still aspired for material benefits. That was another cause for lamentation. Although he got the result of the viṣṇu-mantra by the causeless mercy of the Lord, he lamented how foolish he was to have strived for material benefits while practicing devotional service. In other words, every one of us who is engaged in devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should be completely free from all material aspirations. Otherwise we will have to lament like Dhruva Mahārāja.
In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that He awards benedictions to the worshiper according to his desire. The Supreme Personality of Godhead gives all living entities conditioned within this material world full freedom to act in their own way. But to His devotee He says that instead of working in that way, it is better to surrender unto Him, for He will take charge of the devotee. That is the difference between a devotee and a fruitive actor. The fruitive actor enjoys only the fruits of his own activities, but a devotee, being under the guidance of the Supreme Lord, simply advances in devotional service to achieve the ultimate goal of life—to go back home, back to Godhead. The significant word in this verse is kāmān, which means "sense gratificatory desires." A devotee is devoid of all kāmān. He is anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya: a devotee is always devoid of all desires for sense gratification. His only aim is to satisfy or gratify the senses of the Lord. That is the difference between a karmī and a devotee.
SB Canto 5
Mahārāja Nābhi was inclined to performing great sacrifices for begetting a son. The son might be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but such a material desire—be it great or insignificant—is brought about by the influence of māyā. A devotee does not at all desire anything for sense gratification. Devotion is therefore explained as devoid of material desires (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya). Everyone is subjected to the influence of māyā and entangled in all kinds of material desire, and Mahārāja Nābhi was no exception. Freedom from māyā's influence is possible when one engages in the service of the great devotees (mahac-caraṇa-sevā). Without worshiping the lotus feet of a great devotee, one cannot be freed from māyā's influence. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura therefore says, chāḍiyā vaiṣṇava-sevā nistāra pāyeche kebā: "Who has been freed from māyā's clutches without serving the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava?" Māyā is aparājita, and her influence is also aparājita. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.14):
- daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
- mama māyā duratyayā
"This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome."
Only a devotee can surpass māyā's great influence. It was no fault on Mahārāja Nābhi's part that he wanted a son. He wanted a son like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the best of all sons. By the association of the Lord's devotee, one no longer desires material opulence.
Initiation into bhakti begins when one is in a distressed condition or in want of money, or when one is inquisitive to understand the Absolute Truth. Nonetheless, people who approach the Supreme Lord in this way are not actually devotees. They are accepted as pious (sukṛtinaḥ) due to their inquiring about the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not knowing the various activities and engagements of the Lord, such people unnecessarily disturb the Lord for material gain. However, the Lord is so kind that even though disturbed, He fulfills the desires of such beggars. The pure devotee is anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya; he has no motive behind his worship. He is not conducted by the influence of māyā in the form of karma or jñāna. The pure devotee is always prepared to execute the order of the Lord without personal consideration. The ṛtvijaḥ, the priests at the sacrifice, knew very well the distinction between karma and bhakti, and because they considered themselves under the influence of karma, fruitive activity, they begged the Lord's pardon. They knew that the Lord had been invited to come for some paltry reason.
In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Madhya 19.149) it is said:
- kṛṣṇa-bhakta—niṣkāma, ataeva 'śānta'
- bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kāmī—sakali 'aśānta'
The word śānta means completely peaceful. Unless all one's desires are fulfilled, one cannot be peaceful. Everyone is trying to fulfill his aspirations and desires, be they material or spiritual. Those in the material world are aśānta (without peace) because they have so many desires to fulfill. The pure devotee, however, is without desire. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya: a pure devotee is completely free from all kinds of material desire. Karmīs, on the other hand, are simply full of desires because they try to enjoy sense gratification. They are not peaceful in this life, nor the next, during the past, present or future. Similarly, jñānīs are always aspiring after liberation and trying to become one with the Supreme. Yogīs are aspiring after many siddhis (powers)—aṇimā, laghimā, prāpti, etc. However, a devotee is not at all interested in these things because he is fully dependent on the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is yogeśvara, the possessor of all mystic powers (siddhis), and He is ātmārāma, fully self-satisfied. The yoga-siddhis are described in this verse. One can fly in outer space without the aid of a machine, and he can travel at the speed of mind. This means that as soon as a yogī desires to go somewhere within this universe or even beyond this universe, he can do so immediately. One cannot estimate the speed of mind, for within a second the mind can go many millions of miles. Sometimes yogīs enter into the bodies of other people and act as they desire when their bodies are not working properly. When the body becomes old, a perfect yogī can find a young, able body. Giving up his old body, the yogī can enter into the young body and act as he pleases. Being a plenary expansion of Lord Vāsudeva, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva possessed all these mystic yoga powers, but He was satisfied with His devotional love of Kṛṣṇa, which was evinced by the ecstatic symptoms, such as crying, laughing and shivering.
SB Canto 6
Although one may neutralize the reactions of sinful life through austerity, charity, vows and other such methods, these pious activities cannot uproot the material desires in one's heart. However, if one serves the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, he is immediately freed from all such contaminations.
As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.42), bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra ca: devotional service is so powerful that one who performs devotional service is immediately freed from all sinful desires. All desires within this material world are sinful because material desire means sense gratification, which always involves action that is more or less sinful. Pure bhakti, however, is anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya; in other words, it is free from material desires, which result from karma and jñāna. One who is situated in devotional service no longer has material desires, and therefore he is beyond sinful life. Material desires should be completely stopped. Otherwise, although one's austerities, penances and charity may free one from sin for the time being, one's desires will reappear because his heart is impure. Thus he will act sinfully and suffer.
SB Canto 7
The devotee is then freed from all material contamination because he constantly thinks of the Lord's pastimes and because his mind and body have been converted to spiritual qualities. Because of his intense devotional service, his ignorance, material consciousness and all kinds of material desires are completely burnt to ashes. This is the stage at which one can achieve the shelter of the Lord's lotus feet.
When a devotee is completely purified, he becomes anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya. In other words, all of his material desires become zero, being burnt to ashes, and he exists either as the Lord's servant, friend, father, mother or conjugal lover. Because one thinks constantly in this way, one's present material body and mind are fully spiritualized, and the needs of one's material body completely vanish from one's existence. An iron rod put into a fire becomes warmer and warmer, and when it is red hot it is no longer an iron rod but fire. Similarly, when a devotee constantly engages in devotional service and thinks of the Lord in his original Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he no longer has any material activities, for his body is spiritualized. Advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very powerful, and therefore even during this life such a devotee has achieved the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. This transcendental ecstatic existence of a devotee was completely exhibited by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
SB Canto 9
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said to the brāhmaṇa: I am completely under the control of My devotees. Indeed, I am not at all independent. Because My devotees are completely devoid of material desires, I sit only within the cores of their hearts. What to speak of My devotee, even those who are devotees of My devotee are very dear to Me.
All the great stalwart personalities in the universe, including Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, are fully under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead is fully under the control of His devotee. Why is this? Because the devotee is anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya; in other words, he has no material desires in his heart. His only desire is to think always of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and how to serve Him best. Because of this transcendental qualification, the Supreme Lord is extremely favorable to the devotees—indeed, not only the devotees, but also the devotees of the devotees. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, chāḍiyā vaiṣṇava-sevā nistāra pāyeche kebā: without being a devotee of a devotee, one cannot be released from material entanglement. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu identified Himself as gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ (CC Madhya 13.80). Thus he instructed us to become not directly servants of Kṛṣṇa but servants of the servant of Kṛṣṇa. Devotees like Brahmā, Nārada, Vyāsadeva and Śukadeva Gosvāmī are directly servants of Kṛṣṇa, and one who becomes a servant of Nārada, Vyāsadeva and Śukadeva, like the six Gosvāmīs, is still more devoted. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura therefore says, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ: ** if one very sincerely serves the spiritual master, Kṛṣṇa certainly becomes favorable to such a devotee. Following the instructions of a devotee is more valuable than following the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly.
“Giving up all desires not connected with Kṛṣṇa is the business of one who is in śānta-rasa. Only a devotee of Kṛṣṇa can be situated on that platform. He is thus called a śānta-rasa-bhakta.
In this position, one is freed from all material enjoyment. When one is not agitated or disturbed, he can immediately realize his relationship with Kṛṣṇa. A śānta-rasa devotee is therefore always fixed in realization. This instruction was given by the Lord Himself to Uddhava. The beginning of pure devotional service is called anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya. When one is situated on the platform of neutrality, he is freed from the material platform and fully situated in spiritual life. The word dama, used in verse 213, means indriya-saṁyama—curbing one's senses. The word dama can also mean curbing one's enemies. A king has to take steps to curb the criminal activities of his citizens. Great rājarṣis, devotee kings, used to control undesirable elements in their states, and this also may be called dama. However, dama here refers to the conditioned soul who must control his senses. Real dama means controlling the undesirable activities of the senses.
“Association with a devotee, the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, and the nature of devotional service help one to give up all undesirable association and gradually attain elevation to the platform of love of Godhead.
This verse refers to the association of pure devotees, the mercy of Kṛṣṇa and the rendering of devotional service. All these help one give up the association of nondevotees and the material opulence awarded by the external energy, māyā. A pure devotee is never attracted by material opulence, for he understands that wasting time to acquire material opulence is a misuse of the gift of human life. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said, śrama eva hi kevalam (SB 1.2.8). In the eyes of a devotee, politicians, social workers, philanthropists, philosophers and humanitarians are simply wasting their time, for human society is not freed from the cycle of birth and death by their activity and propaganda. These so-called philanthropists, politicians and philosophers have no knowledge because they do not know that there is life after death. Understanding that there is life after death is the beginning of spiritual knowledge. A person can understand himself and what he is simply by understanding the first lessons of the Bhagavad-gītā (2.13):
- dehino ‘smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
- tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati
"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change."
Not knowing the real science of life, a foolish person engages in the temporary activities of this life and thus becomes further entangled in the cycle of birth and death. He always desires material opulence, which can be attained by karma, jñāna and yoga. But when one is actually elevated to the devotional platform, he gives up all these desires. This is called anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya. Then one becomes a pure devotee.