By systematic nurturing, the creeper will grow to such an extent that it will penetrate the coverings of the universe, as we have heard in the previous verses, reach the effulgent sky
SB Canto 2
The devotee, thus surpassing the gross and the subtle forms of coverings, enters the plane of egoism. And in that status he merges the material modes of nature (ignorance and passion) in this point of neutralization and thus reaches egoism in goodness. After this, all egoism is merged in the mahat-tattva, and he comes to the point of pure self-realization.
Pure self-realization, as we have several times discussed, is the pure consciousness of admitting oneself to be the eternal servitor of the Lord. Thus one is reinstated in his original position of transcendental loving service to the Lord, as will be clearly explained in the following verse. This stage of rendering transcendental loving service to the Lord without any hopes of emolument from the Lord, or any other way, can be attained when the material senses are purified and the original pure state of the senses is revived. It is suggested herein that the process of purifying the senses is by the yogic way, namely the gross senses are merged in the mode of ignorance, and the subtle senses are merged in the mode of passion. The mind belongs to the mode of goodness and therefore is called devamaya, or Godly. Perfect purification of the mind is made possible when one is fixed in the conviction of being the eternal servitor of the Lord. Therefore simple attainment of goodness is also a material mode; one has to surpass this stage of material goodness and reach the point of purified goodness, or vasudeva-sattva. This vasudeva-sattva helps one to enter into the kingdom of God.
We may also remember in this connection that the process of gradual emancipation by the devotees in the manner mentioned above, although authoritative, is not viable in the present age because of people's being primarily unaware of yoga practice. The so-called yoga practice by the professional protagonists may be physiologically beneficial, but such small successes cannot help one in the attainment of spiritual emancipation as mentioned herein. Five thousand years ago, when the social status of human society was in perfect Vedic order, the yoga process mentioned herein was a common affair for everyone because everyone, and especially the brāhmaṇa and kṣatriya, was trained in the transcendental art under the care of the spiritual master far away from home, in the status of brahmacarya. Modern man, however, is incompetent to understand it perfectly.
Lord Śrī Caitanya, therefore, made it easier for the prospective devotee of the present age in the following specific manner. Ultimately there is no difference in the result. The first and foremost point is that one must understand the prime importance of bhakti-yoga. The living beings in different species of life are undergoing different terms of encagement according to their fruitive actions and reactions. But in the execution of different activities, one who secures some resources in bhakti-yoga can understand the importance of service to the Lord through the causeless mercy of the Lord, as well as that of the spiritual master. A sincere soul is helped by the Lord through meeting a bona fide spiritual master, the representative of the Lord. By the instruction of such a spiritual master, one gets the seed of bhakti-yoga. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends that the devotee sow the seed of bhakti-yoga in his heart and nurture it by the watering of hearing and chanting the holy name, fame, etc., of the Lord. The simple process of offenselessly chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord will gradually promote one very soon to the stage of emancipation. There are three stages in chanting the holy name of the Lord. The first stage is the offensive chanting of the holy name, and the second is the reflective stage of chanting the holy name. The third stage is the offenseless chanting of the holy name of the Lord. In the second stage only, the stage of reflection, between the offensive and offenseless stages, one automatically attains the stage of emancipation. And in the offenseless stage, one actually enters into the kingdom of God, although physically he may apparently be within the material world. To attain the offenseless stage, one must be on guard in the following manner.
When we speak of hearing and chanting, it means that not only should one chant and hear of the holy name of the Lord as Rāma, Kṛṣṇa (or systematically the sixteen names Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare), but one should also read and hear the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of devotees. The primary practice of bhakti-yoga will cause the seed already sowed in heart to sprout, and by a regular watering process, as mentioned above, the bhakti-yoga creeper will begin to grow. By systematic nurturing, the creeper will grow to such an extent that it will penetrate the coverings of the universe, as we have heard in the previous verses, reach the effulgent sky, the brahma-jyotir, and go farther and farther and reach the spiritual sky, where there are innumerable spiritual planets called Vaikuṇṭhalokas. Above all of them is Kṛṣṇaloka, or Goloka Vṛndāvana, wherein the growing creeper enters and takes repose at the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the original Personality of Godhead. When one reaches the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa at Goloka Vṛndāvana, the watering process of hearing and reading, as also chanting of the holy name in the pure devotional stage, fructifies, and the fruits grown there in the form of love of God are tangibly tasted by the devotee, even though he is here in this material world. The ripe fruits of love of God are relished only by the devotees constantly engaged in the watering process as described above. But the working devotee must always be mindful so that the creeper which has so grown will not be cut off. Therefore he should be mindful of the following considerations:
(1) Offense by one at the feet of a pure devotee may be likened to the mad elephant who devastates a very good garden if it enters.
(2) One must be very careful to guard himself against such offenses at the feet of pure devotees, just as one protects a creeper by all-around fencing.
(3) It so happens that by the watering process some weeds are also grown, and unless such weeds are uprooted, the nurturing of the main creeper, or the creeper of bhakti-yoga, may be hampered.
(4) Actually these weeds are material enjoyment, merging of the self in the Absolute without separate individuality, and many other desires in the field of religion, economic development, sense enjoyment and emancipation.
(5) There are many other weeds, like disobedience to the tenets of the revered scriptures, unnecessary engagements, killing animals, and hankering after material gain, prestige and adoration.
(6) If sufficient care is not taken, then the watering process may only help to breed the weeds, stunting the healthy growth of the main creeper and resulting in no fructification of the ultimate requirement: love of God.
(7) The devotee must therefore be very careful to uproot the different weeds in the very beginning. Only then will the healthy growth of the main creeper not be stunted.
(8) And by so doing, the devotee is able to relish the fruit of love of God and thus live practically with Lord Kṛṣṇa, even in this life, and be able to see the Lord in every step.
The highest perfection of life is to enjoy life constantly in the association of the Lord, and one who can relish this does not aspire after any temporary enjoyment of the material world via other media.