The word bhakti can be used in ten different ways. Out of these ten, there is sādhana-bhakti, or occupational devotional service. The other nine are called prema-bhakti, love of Godhead. Those who are situated in the neutral position attain perfection up to love of Godhead. Similarly, those who are situated in the relationship of master and servant attain love of Godhead to the stage of attachment. Those who are related in friendship attain love of God to the point of fraternity. Those who are in love with God as His parents are elevated to the point of transcendental emotion. But only those who are related with the Supreme in conjugal love can experience the highest of ecstasies. Thus there are different meanings for the word bhakti.
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- 1 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 2 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 3 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 4 Lectures
- 5 Conversations and Morning Walks
SB Canto 1
Unalloyed devotional service of the Lord progresses in different stages. Practice of devotional service in the material field is of eighty-one different qualities, and above such activities is the transcendental practice of devotional service, which is one and is called sādhana-bhakti. When unalloyed practice of sādhana-bhakti is matured into transcendental love for the Lord, the transcendental loving service of the Lord begins gradually developing into nine progressive stages of loving service under the headings of attachment, love, affection, feelings, affinity, adherence, following, ecstasy, and intense feelings of separation.
SB Canto 3
Two different methods for controlling the material senses are recommended in the Vedic scriptural wisdom. One of them is the process of jñāna, or the path of philosophical understanding of the Supreme—Brahma, Paramātmā and Bhagavān. The other is that of direct engagement in the transcendental loving devotional service of the Lord. Of these two most popular methods, the path of devotional service is recommended here as the best because one on the path of devotional service does not have to wait for the attainment of the fruitive results of pious activities or for the results of knowledge. The two stages of executing devotional service are, first, the stage of practicing devotional service with our present senses under the regulations of the recognized scriptures and, second, attaining sincere attachment for serving the particles of the dust of the lotus feet of the Lord. The first stage is called sādhana-bhakti, or devotional service for the neophyte, which is rendered under the direction of a pure devotee, and the second stage is called rāga-bhakti, in which the mature devotee automatically takes to the various services of the Lord out of sincere attachment.
The great sage Maitreya now gives the final answer to all the questions of Vidura: devotional service to the Lord is the ultimate means to mitigate all the miserable conditions of material existence. The path of knowledge or that of mystic gymnastics may be adopted as a means for the purpose, but unless mixed with bhakti, or devotional service, they are unable to award the desired result. By practicing sādhana-bhakti one may gradually rise to the point of rāga-bhakti, and by performing rāga-bhakti in loving transcendental service one can even control the Supreme Powerful Lord.
As mentioned above, the Vedānta-sūtra consists of four chapters. The first two chapters discuss the relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is known as sambandha-jñāna, or knowledge of the relationship. The third chapter describes how one can act in his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Lord is described by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: jīvera "svarūpa" haya kṛṣṇera "nitya-dāsa". "The living entity is an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme God." (CC Madhya 20.108) Therefore, to act in that relationship one must perform sādhana-bhakti, or the prescribed duties of service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The fourth chapter describes the result of such devotional service (prayojana-jñāna). This ultimate goal of life is to go back home, back to Godhead. The words anāvṛttiḥ śabdāt in the Vedānta-sūtra indicate this ultimate goal.
A person who is advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness always feels separation from Kṛṣṇa because such a feeling of separation excels the feeling of meeting Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in His last twelve years of existence within this world at Jagannātha Purī, taught the people of the world how, with a feeling of separation, one can develop His dormant love of Kṛṣṇa. Such feelings of separation or meeting with Kṛṣṇa are different stages of love of Godhead. These feelings develop in time when a person seriously engages in devotional service. The highest stage is called prema-bhakti, but this stage is attained by executing sādhana-bhakti. One should not try to elevate himself artificially to the stage of prema-bhakti without seriously following the regulative principles of sādhana-bhakti. Prema-bhakti is the stage of relishing, whereas sādhana-bhakti is the stage of improving in devotional service. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught this cult of devotional service in full detail by practical application in His own life. It is said, therefore, āpani ācari' bhakti śikhāimu sabāre. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and in the role of a kṛṣṇa-bhakta, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, He instructed the entire world how one can execute devotional service and thus go back home, back to Godhead, in due course of time.
Devotional activities, however, sometimes appear to be impure in the neophyte stage, but in the mature stage they are completely pure, or free from material activity. Therefore Rāmānanda Rāya replied after hearing the last statement of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: prema-bhakti—sarva-sādhya-sāra. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu actually accepted this verse (jñāne prayāsam) as the basic principle of perfection. One has to practice this principle in order to make further progress. When further progress is actually made, one comes to the platform of ecstatic loving service to the Lord. This first stage is technically called sādhana-bhakti, or devotional service in practice. The result of sādhana-bhakti must be ecstatic love, attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is also called prema-bhakti. In the neophyte stage, sādhana-bhakti includes faith, association with devotees, and practicing devotional service. Thus one is freed from all unwanted things. One then becomes fixed in devotional service and increases his desire to act in devotional service. Thus one becomes attached to the Lord and His devotional service.
The Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.2) gives the following information about sādhana-bhakti:
- kṛti-sādhyā bhavet sādhya-bhāvā sā sādhanābhidhā
- nitya-siddhasya bhāvasya prākaṭyaṁ hṛdi sādhyatā
The process of devotional service—beginning with chanting and hearing—is called sādhana-bhakti. This includes the regulative principles that are intended to awaken one to devotional service.
Devotional service is always dormant in everyone's heart, and by the offenseless chanting of the holy names of the Lord, one's original dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness is awakened. This awakening to Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the beginning of sādhana-bhakti. This can be divided into many different parts, including faith, association with devotees, initiation by the spiritual master, engagement in devotional service under the instructions of a spiritual master, steadiness in devotional service and the awakening of a taste for devotional service. In this way, one can become attached to Kṛṣṇa and His service, and when this attachment is intensified, it results in ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa.
“"When transcendental devotional service, by which love for Kṛṣṇa is attained, is executed by the senses, it is called sādhana-bhakti, or the regulative discharge of devotional service. Such devotion eternally exists within the heart of every living entity. The awakening of this eternal devotion is the potentiality of devotional service in practice.""
Thus devotional life is divided into two stages—sādhana-bhakti and bhāva-bhakti. Sādhana-bhakti refers to the development of devotional service through the regulative principles. The basic principle for the execution of devotional service is faith. Above that, there is association with devotees, and after that there is initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. After initiation, when one follows the regulative principles of devotional service, one becomes freed from all unwanted things.
“"In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sādhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.""
“There are ten meanings for the word "bhakti" ("devotional service"). One is sādhana-bhakti, execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles, and the other nine are varieties of prema-bhakti, ecstatic love of Godhead."
The nine varieties of prema-bhakti are rati, prema, sneha, māna, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva and mahābhāva—attraction, love, affection, adverse feelings, intimacy, attachment, subattachment, ecstatic love and sublime ecstatic love. For the word sādhana-bhakti there is only one meaning, "the execution of devotional service according to regulative principles."
When we are on the material platform, there are different types of religions—Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and so on. These are instituted for a particular time, a particular country or a particular person. Consequently there are differences. Christian principles are different from Hindu principles, and Hindu principles are different from Muslim and Buddhist principles. These may be considered on the material platform, but when we come to the platform of transcendental devotional service, there are no such considerations. The transcendental service of the Lord (sādhana-bhakti) is above these principles. The world is anxious for religious unity, and that common platform can be achieved in transcendental devotional service. This is the verdict of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
Nectar of Devotion
There are certain prescribed methods for employing our senses and mind in such a way that our dormant consciousness for loving Kṛṣṇa will be invoked, as much as the child, with a little practice, can begin to walk. One who has no basic walking capacity cannot walk by practice. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be aroused simply by practice. Actually there is no such practice. When we wish to develop our innate capacity for devotional service, there are certain processes which, by our accepting and executing them, will cause that dormant capacity to be invoked. Such practice is called sādhana-bhakti.
Spirit soul in his original condition is joyful, blissful, eternal and full of knowledge. Only by his implication in material activities has he become miserable, temporary and full of ignorance. This is due to vikarma. Vikarma means "actions which should not be done." Therefore, we must practice sādhana-bhakti—which means to offer maṅgala-ārati (Deity worship) in the morning, to refrain from certain material activities, to offer obeisances to the spiritual master and to follow many other rules and regulations which will be discussed here one after another. These practices will help one become cured of madness. As a man's mental disease is cured by the directions of a psychiatrist, so this sādhana-bhakti cures the conditioned soul of his madness under the spell of māyā, material illusion.
Nārada Muni mentions this sādhana-bhakti in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Seventh Canto, First Chapter, verse 32. He says there to King Yudhiṣṭhira, "My dear King, one has to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa by any means." That is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is the duty of the ācārya, the spiritual master, to find the ways and means for his disciple to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa. That is the beginning of sādhana-bhakti.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given us an authorized program for this purpose, centered around the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. This chanting has so much power that it immediately attaches one to Kṛṣṇa. That is the beginning of sādhana-bhakti. Somehow or other, one has to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa. The great saint Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, although a responsible king, fixed his mind on Kṛṣṇa, and similarly anyone who tries to fix his mind in this way will very rapidly make progress in successfully reviving his original Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Now this sādhana-bhakti, or practice of devotional service, may also be divided into two parts. The first part is called service according to regulative principles: one has to follow these different regulative principles by the order of the spiritual master or on the strength of authoritative scriptures, and there can be no question of refusal. That is called vaidhi, or regulated. One has to do it without argument. Another part of sādhana-bhakti is called rāgānugā. Rāgānugā refers to the point at which, by following the regulative principles, one becomes a little more attached to Kṛṣṇa and executes devotional service out of natural love.
In the beginning, by the order of his spiritual master, one rises early in the morning and offers ārati, but then he develops real attachment. When he gets this attachment, he automatically tries to decorate the Deity and prepare different kinds of dresses and thinks of different plans to execute his devotional service nicely. Although it is within the category of practice, this offering of loving service is spontaneous. So the practice of devotional service, sādhana-bhakti, can be divided into two parts—namely, regulative and spontaneous.
Without following the above-mentioned ten principles, one cannot properly elevate himself to the platform of sādhana-bhakti, or devotional service in practice. Altogether, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī mentions twenty items, and all of them are very important. Out of the twenty, the first three—namely accepting the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, taking initiation from him and serving him with respect and reverence—are the most important.
That Prahlāda Mahārāja is like that. He did not know who is his enemy and who is friend. No, he did not know. He is uttama-adhikārī, mahā-bhāgavata. So this mahā-bhāgavata, this word is very important in this verse, mahā-bhāgavato 'rbhakaḥ. Immediately, as soon as Brahmā requested, "My dear boy, please pacify." No hesitation, immediately he fell down. Upetya bhuvi kāyena. He is always at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, and, as a child, immediately as Brahmā said, immediately he did. Kāyena upetya nanāma, as it is, he was not to be lesson, that you meant like this, fall down this, no, he knows, everything. Life after life he is doing that. Gaurāṅgera saṅgi-gaṇe, nitya-siddha kori māne. Whenever there is Kṛṣṇa's incarnation, just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu, as soon as He advented Himself, immediately there was Advaitācārya, Nityānanda, and other, many, many devotees. They are guarāṅgera saṅgi, they are not sādhana-bhakti, they are eternally associate. So similarly Prahlāda Mahārāja is also eternally associate. Whenever there is need, by the order of Kṛṣṇa, he is present there to execute the order of Kṛṣṇa. This is our position. Eternal servant.
Our position is eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa's position is eternal master. Bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram (BG 5.29). He is the enjoyer. He is the proprietor. That is eternally, He is master, and we are eternally servant. If you keep this position, that is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So mahā-bhāgavata, they know always, they never forget this position, and those who are fallen souls, conditioned souls, they do not know it, so they have to be raised to that stage. That stage, how? So he is also nitya-siddha. Nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Kṛṣṇa-bhakti, as soon as one becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious fully, he becomes nitya-siddha again. So either you come by sādhana-bhakti or naturally, the, when you come to the ultimate stage, everyone is nitya-siddha. So nitya-siddha, those who come from Vaikuntha, they are never fallen, never forgets Kṛṣṇa, that is nitya-siddha, and by the teachings of nitya-siddha mahā-bhāgavata, if one follows and then becomes by sādhana-siddha, by regulative principle, they also become nitya-siddha later on.
You cannot get the position of Prahlāda Mahārāja immediately. That is not possible. The process is, first of all, sādhana-bhakti. This Prahlāda Mahārāja's position is different. He is mahā-bhāgavata. In many places we have seen already. He is nitya-siddha. There are two kinds of devotees, three: nitya-siddha, sādhana-siddha, kṛpa-siddha. These things are described in The Nectar of Devotion. Nitya-siddha means they are eternally associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are called nitya-siddha. And sādhana-siddha means one is fallen in this material world, but by practice of devotional service according to the rules and regulation, injunction of the śāstra, direction of guru, in this way, one can reach also the same position as the nitya-siddha. This is sādhana-siddha.
So if you want to approach the same level like Prahlāda Mahārāja, we should not immediately imitate him. We must follow the sādhana-bhakti, sādhana-bhakti, for general, and kṛpa-siddha, that is special. That is incalculable. If Kṛṣṇa wants, He can make immediately somebody very important. That is kṛpa-siddha. So there are three classes of devotees: nitya-siddha and sādhana-siddha and kṛpa-siddha. Prahlāda Mahārāja is nitya-siddha. He is not ordinary sādhana-siddha or of course, ultimately there is no difference, either sādhana-siddha or kṛpa-siddha or nitya-siddha. But we should always remember that Prahlāda Mahārāja is not ordinary devotee. He is nitya-siddha. Therefore immediately he developed the transcendental symptoms, aṣṭa-siddhi. Aṣṭa-siddhi, you have read in The Nectar of Devotion.
Nectar of Devotion Lectures
Devotee: "There are certain prescribed methods for employing our senses and mind in such a way that our dormant consciousness for loving Kṛṣṇa will be invoked as much as the child, with a little practice, can begin to walk. One who has no basic walking capacity cannot walk by practice. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be aroused simply by practice. Actually there is no such practice. When we wish to develop our innate capacity for devotional service, there are certain processes which by our accepting and executing them will cause that dormant capacity to be invoked. Such practice is called sādhana-bhakti."
Prabhupāda: Sādhana-bhakti, rāga-bhakti, prema-bhakti—these three divisions. So first of all we have to accept sādhana-bhakti. Means practicing.
Those who are very much passionate, simply wants to enjoy sense enjoyment, they are in the modes of passion. And those who are lazy, very fond of sleeping, nidrālasya, he's to be understood in the modes of ignorance. These are the symptoms. And according to the modes, they act. Therefore bhakti is not prohibited to either of them. Either in goodness or passion or ignorance—it doesn't matter. Anyone can take to devotional service, sādhana-bhakti, provided he agrees to be guided by the direction of the spiritual master. Bhakti is transcendental. It doesn't matter whether one is in goodness, passion or ignorance. Anyone can take. That is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā: māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ (BG 9.32). Pāpa-yonayaḥ means the lowest part of ignorance. So Kṛṣṇa recommends that anyone, even in pāpa-yoni striya, vaiśyās tathā śūdrās... Stri, women, and vaiśya and śūdra, they're also considered not very in higher position.
Kṛṣṇa says all of them, if they take to real path of devotional service under the direction of spiritual master, then that is sādhana-bhakti. To act under the direction of spiritual master... Spiritual master directs means he knows śāstra.
According to the direction of śāstra or ācāryas, he gives direction. And if we follow, that is called sādhana-bhakti. That is called practice. In the beginning, sādhana-bhakti must be there. Then when you get attachment for Kṛṣṇa, that is called rāga-bhakti. And the more you increase your attachment for Kṛṣṇa, then it will come to the stage of prema-bhakti. You don't become kṛṣṇa-premī all of a sudden. "Now I have become kṛṣṇa-premī. Let me cry." And then, after crying, "Oh, my throat is now dried up. Give me cigarette." This kind of bhakti has no value.
Prabhupāda: One who will cry for Kṛṣṇa, he will never come down to the material platform. That crying is not so easy. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu used to cry, He also said, "I am crying for make-show." So crying automatically comes when actually if we are in prema-bhakti. But we have to go that stage gradually, not by imitating. Sādhana-bhakti, rāga-bhakti. Then prema-bhakti. Go on.
Devotee: "Nārada Muni mentions this sādhana-bhakti in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Seventh Canto, First Chapter, 30th verse. He says there to King Yudhiṣṭhira, 'My dear King, one has to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa by any means.' This is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is the duty of the ācārya, the spiritual master, to find the ways and means for his disciple to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa. That is the beginning of sādhana-bhakti."
The practice, following the rules and regulations of śāstra and ācārya, direction of the spiritual master, that is called sādhana-bhakti. That, every, anyone can do, provided he's serious. Ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-saṅga atha bhajana-kriyā (Cc. Madhya 23.14-15). This bhajana-kriyā means sādhana-bhakti. So if our bhajana-kriyā is proper and in the line, then anartha-nivṛttiḥ syāt, then all the anarthas, unwanted things, bad habits, that will be immediately vanquished. After anartha-nivṛttiḥ, tato niṣṭhā tato ruci athāsaktis tato bhāvaḥ. If this way, we shall increase our attitude of devotional service, ultimately getting shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord.
Simply you have to follow the regulative principles. Then automatically you'll become spiritualized. Very simple method. Vṛndāvana is specially meant for that purpose. Why people come to Vṛndāvana? To take the advantage. Here the atmosphere is surcharged with devotional service. We should take advantage of it. This is called sādhana-bhakti. Sādhana. Sādhana-bhakti means we have to practice it. And it does not require much education. It does not depend on your riches, that you have to become a very rich man to follow the regulative principles, rise early in the morning. Anyone can rise ea... It is simply a practice. You can take bath in the Yamunā. It is simply practice. You can visit the temples early in the morning. It is simply practice. So this is called sādhana-bhakti, practicing.
You are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If you..., I die chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, it is a great opportunity. So this practice, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ (CC Adi 17.31), this is the only sādhana. Sādhana-bhakti. Chant always Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, fix up your mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, and it will be very easily possible to make your life perfect.
So Bhāgavata means the glories of Bhagavān and bhaga, devotees. That's all. This is Bhāgavatam. So sādhu-guru-śāstra-vākya, tinete kariyā aikya. So this is sādhana-bhakti. We must take instruction from the spiritual master. Ādau gurvāśrayam, sad-dharma-pṛcchāt. Who requires a spiritual master? One who is inquisitive of sad-dharma, not asad-dharma. Sad-dharma-pṛcchāt. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21). A man requires a spiritual master when he's inquisitive to know about the transcendental subject matter. A spiritual, a spiritual master... To accept a spiritual master is not a fashion. Just like we keep a dog, pet, similarly, if we keep a spiritual master, pet spiritual master, to get sanction of all my sinful activities, that is not accepting spiritual master. Spiritual master means tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34). You should accept a spiritual master where you think that you can surrender yourself fully, and offer his, your service. That is spiritual master.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1974 Conversations and Morning Walks
Pañcadraviḍa: Śrīla Prabhupāda, you were talking that a person, he can come up to that position of nitya-mukta by either following the principles of sādhana-bhakti or causeless mercy, or you said there was also the question of kṛpā, the kṛpā-siddhi, that one can attain perfection...
Prabhupāda: No, that is sādhana-bhakti.
Pañcadraviḍa: One gets mercy by sādhana-bhakti.
Prabhupāda: Yes. In the stage of sādhana-bhakti... Sadhana-bhakti is for the conditioned soul. And siddha. Siddha means they are already mature. Siddha means nitya-siddha.
1975 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Rascal, yes. Therefore it begins in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi (SB 1.1.1). The beginning is truth. Satyam paraṁ dhīmahi. There is no question of experiment. It is not this book, Bhāgavata, is an experiment to find out. It is beginning from the truth. Satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi.
Lokanātha: What is sādhana-bhakti?
Prabhupāda: Sādhana-bhakti is practice. Truth is there, but how to be intimately connected with truth, that is sādhana.
1977 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Grace means he'll willingly give you mercy, and mercy means you ask for mercy. Kṛpa-siddha. Sādhana-siddha and kṛpa-siddha. You are trying to earn one lakh of rupees—that is sādhana. But if somebody is gracious he can give you: "Take one lakh of rupees. Don't work hard." That is grace. That is kṛpa. You are ambitious for one lakh of rupees or somebody graciously give you: "All right, take." There are many persons. So that is grace. Otherwise, you earn by your hard labor. That is sādhana. Similarly, by association, by sādhana-bhakti, you attain perfection, and by grace also, you can attain perfection. Two ways. So those who are kṛpa-siddha, they are more fortunate. (Hindi) Preach this Bhagavad-gītā as it is. People will be benefited. You'll be benefited. Don't make unnecessary interpretation, misguide others and spoil your own life. That is very unfortunate. What is the difficulty to accept Bhagavad-gītā? There is no difficulty. Unfortunately we interpret in different way and take it other way. So our little attempt is to spread Bhagavad-gītā as it is, and whatever it may be, it is being accepted in the Western countries. Not by all. But the people in general, now the... Feeling the weight, they have now began opposing.