Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

How Krishna saves devotees

Although Sri Krishna is equal and fair to all, He especially blesses, elevates, and delivers those who follow the laws of dharma, and those who worship Him in devotion. But Krishna is so supremely compassionate that He even helps those who act whimsically and selfishly (adharmically), hurt others, and live without any regard for the laws and rules of shastra. 

With fifteen different terms the shastras describe the merciful qualities of Bhagavan Sri Krishna by which He save the jivas trapped in the material world. They include the following:

sarva-bhuta-suhrt: Krishna is the friend of all beings.

parama-udara: Krishna is unlimitedly broad minded and munificent toward all.

sulabha: Krishna is easy to attain if anyone just tries.

gambhira: The depth of Krishna’s mercy is unfathomable.

saumya: Since Krishna is simple and gentle, all can easily approach Him irrespective of their social, mental or physical position.

saulabhya: Although Krishna is infinite Godhead, He becomes intimate with an infinitesimal jiva.

ashrita para tantra: Krishna gives up His independence to be bound by His bhaktas, and live under their shelter in His murti form depending on their seva and maintenance.

mardava: Due the softness of His sweetheart, Krishna cannot bear being separated His beloved parts and parcels, the jivatmas.

vatsalya: Sri Krishna is especially known as “bhakta-vatsala” because Krishna exhibits the greatest amount of “motherly affection” toward His devotee, and the non-devotees in His form as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

sthairya: Krishna and His representatives act relentlessly to save the deluded ones despite their hopeless attachment to maya.

karunya: Radha mixes Her compassionate heart with Krishna’s to inspire Krishna to save us, gives us bhakti and deliver us to His lotus feet.

madhurya: With His irresistible sweetness, charm, beauty and love Krishna attracts the minds and hearts of the jivas, and fills them with anand, ultimate bliss and satisfaction.

audarya: Waterfalls of generosity continually cascade from Krishna’s loving heart to repeatedly shower the jivas with boundless grace.

arjava: Krishna is absolutely straight forward and freely gives grace to all without restriction.

sauharda: As a friend to all living entities, Krishna’s heart is melting with desires to help everyone become free suffering.

The Karma Free

Shastra describe the jivan-mukta as an enlightened soul who is liberated but still embodied. Although free from all sanchit and kriyman karmas, the enlightened one still experiences the karma that has already begun to fructify called prarabdha-karma. The jivanmukta yogi or devotee does not return to samsar after death.

Why does the liberated one continue to live if all karmas i.e sanchit and kriyaman are destroyed? The liberated soul stays in a particular material body because of the force of the already activated prarabdha karmas related to that physical body.

Consider this analogy. If you turn off the electric fan, it will keep moving even though no electricity is connected to it. Likewise, even though the pure, liberated devotee is not producing any more karma, and all one’s latent residual karmas i.e. sanchit and kriyam are destroyed, the karma already activated for this life i.e. prarabdha has to run its course.

For example, one devotee, due to performing intense bhakti bhajan and receiving the full krpa of Guru and Bhagavan, may become a jivan-mukta, a liberated, karma-free pure devotee, when one is sixty-years old. But still that devotee may live thirty more years, and during that time undergo various physical ailments and diseases due to the already in motion force of the present prarabdha karma. But that liberated one will not feel any suffering due to the purity of mind and heart. 

Jivanmukta bhaktas ki jai! Karma free life ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Eager to know more about karma? Please read our articles from serie “Bhakti, Karma and Falldown” part one, part two, part three, part four.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Three Karmas

Sruti describes three forms of karma; sanchit, kriyaman and prarabdha i.e. the stored collection, present experience good or bad, and new actions.

Sanchit karma is the complete collection of the results (punya:papa karma-phal) of all our actions done in past lives lying latent in our chitta to fructify in future births.

Kriyaman (syn. aagami) means the punya:papa karma being done in ignorance in the present life which will be added to the existing collection of sanchita karma stored our chitta. Kriyaman actions are under our control and must be performed with the utmost awareness and transcendental wisdom. Krishna explains the science of karma-free living in Gita chapters 4-6.

Each one of us is the architect of our own destiny. No matter how trivial it may seem, every act we do will produce an effect. For devotees, all actions are performed simply for the satisfaction of Guru and Krishna without motivation or attachment. Thus even mundane actions like eating and sleeping become seva leading to liberation because they are performed without desire for results. Thus no further karma is produced.

Prarabdha (syn. arabdha) is acting on us right now! When the chitta is transferred from one body to another at death, it brings all one’s residual karma with it. Only some of it will give its fruit in that birth. Once the next life begins, the portion of karma relevant to this birth is called the prarabdha-karma.

It’s a portion of our punya papa karma from the stockpile of sanchita which is now fructifying and giving us good or bad results. It manifests our present body, desires, mentality, feelings and actions. Prarabdha karma is beyond our control and producing our present conditions which we must bear with patience. It is like a flowering tree from the seeds of prior planting.

Kriyaman is compared to grains growing in a field. Sanchit is grains stored in the house. And prarabdha is rotis in the belly being digested and exhausted in some time.

The Upanisads, Gita and Gaudiya granthas say that the jivas and karma are beginning less i.e., without a beginning and without a prior non-existence. Therefore, questions such as how did my karma begin, what caused my first birth, how can people have different fortunes unless there was preceding karma; and how can we have karma without a previous birth are all meaningless because the jiva and karma are beginning less. It’s all the divine arrangement of Bhagavan Sri Krishna as He wants it. There is no other cause or explanation.

Suffering and Bad Karma

Besides being three poisons in the mind that block spiritual advancement, Gita says lust, anger and greed are three gates to HELL. The source of all three is delusion (moha), thinking that the body/mind complex is me, and that I am special, unique and different from every other living entity.

The grand illusion of I and Mine causes rebirth and bondage in samsar. Until we attain spiritual knowledge and understand our true eternal identity as spiritual parts of Sri Krishna meant to submit to, love and serve Him, we will remain bound in maya forever.

Let’s examine these terrible ghosts that harass all of us, lust anger and greed.

LUST means amorous passions and selfish desires which engage us in all kinds of reactionary material activities. Lifetimes of misery can pass paying the debt of desire.

ANGER is the psychological and emotional reaction arising from unfulfilled desires, frustrated attempts to do something, or the unfilled expectations one has of others. Anger causes one to hurt others whom one blames for their own shortcomings or failures. This in turn creates bad karma which produces pain now and more in the future. A moment of anger can create millenniums of misery.

GREED means being attached to your money and not giving charity (dana-dharm). If Krishna gives one more than required, that wealth should be distributed to the needy. The sages say that the attachment to money which binds one in samsara can be renounced by acts of charity, vitta -ishanam –danair (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.84.38).

Sri Krishna directs us to give charity to the right person for the right cause. Failing to do so brings many miseries now and in the future, vittam –tv –atirthi –krtam –duhkha -duhkhi (Srimad Bhagavatam11.11.19). The miser will be poverty-stricken in the next life. Thus, giving charity is a very important aspect of human life especially for householders.

Besides the suffering caused by lust, anger and greed, shastra describes three factors in suffering: the person suffering, the degree of suffering, and the agent or cause of suffering i.e. a person (self or others), thing or condition.

When we clearly realize our true identity as eternal, blissful spiritual beings, and understand the laws of action/reaction (karma), then the agent of suffering becomes incidental and secondary. We no longer become angry or resentful toward the person or thing that we take be causing our suffering because they are merely agents of our own karma. When one acquires divine wisdom, one gets the vision to see enemies as friends, and radiates love and compassion toward those who hurt, abused or offended one.

Through wisdom, humility, tolerance, devotion, and surrender to Krishna one will use suffering to transform, transcend and transport oneself to the spiritual platform of inner peace and contentment reached by experiencing Krishna’s love and compassion within one’s heart.

Freedom from karma

Every thought we think, act we do or experience we have is recorded and stored in the chitta in the form of samskaras. This is the cause of strange dreams of things never experienced in this life. They arise from samskaras i.e. the mental imprints, memories, subconscious impressions formed by the experiences of our prior births now stored in the chitta of the jiva.

Thus, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s first instruction is to clean the chitta by Sri Harinam Sankirtan, ceto –darpanam –marjan (Shikshasatak 1). The endless cycle of repeated birth and death, samsar, is caused by ahankara, the false notion of our actual eternal identity. Due to ignorance, one identifies with the material body mind complex thinking oneself to be the doer, controller and enjoyer and thus stays stuck in samsar.

However, if we identify ourselves only as eternal servants of Krishna, and act only for His pleasure in bhakti, then by Krishna’s grace all our karmas are destroyed, samsar ends, and we go to the spiritual sky, Goloka Vrndavana. Brahmaji says, karmani -nirdhahati -kintu -ca -bhakti –bhajan, “Bhakti bhajan destroys karmas.” (Brahma-samhita 5.54)

Sri Krishna bhakti bhajan ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe! Karma Free life ki jai!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

In this last article, we will describe how Krishna takes everything and gives Himself, and the power of surrendering to Sri Krishna.

Most pious Bharatvasis believe, follow and say, “If you worship Durga or Siva you will get wealth, power and fortune. But if you worship Gopal Krishna…YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING! So by all means don’t worship Krishna.”

Perfect love means giving everything to that one in whom you have absolute faith, trust, confidence, dependence and hope. We will only give our heart’s treasure to that one who makes us feel completely blissful, peaceful, protected, wanted and secure without the least bit of doubt, hesitation or holding back.

For devotees, that one is the Absolute One, our beautiful, charming, sweet and playful loving master, Sri Govindadeva. Here’s the dreaded Bhagavat shloka that scares everyone away from Krishna.

yasyaham -anugrhnami,
harishye -tad-dhanam -shanaih,
tato -adhanam -tyajanty -asya,
svajana –duhkha -duhkhitam

Sri Krishna said, “O Yuddhishthira! If I especially favor someone, I gradually take away all one’s money. Then one’s family, relatives and friends reject one because one is poor. Then, one repeatedly suffers one misery after another.”

For materialists this verse is poison. But for devotees this verse is amritam; positive encouragement confirming Krishna’s reciprocation with them in love, anugraha, Krishna’s kindness on them. Devotees may have trouble advancing in bhakti, so Krishna lends a hand, takes away all the undesirables, and pulls the struggling bhakta to His sweet lotus feet. Such is the sweet kindness of a true lover, our eternal, benevolent master Shyamsundar.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada comments: “One suffers when one loses one’s money, and suffers even more when rejected by one’s family and friends. Krishna bhaktas, however, experience both happiness and distress; not as the fruits of their karma (material work), but as incidental effects of their loving reciprocation with their sweet master Sri Krishna.

“Devotional scriptures such as Sri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu explain how a Vaisnava is relieved of all karmic reactions, including the unmanifest ones (aprarabdha), those about to manifest (kuta), those barely manifesting (bija), and the full manifest present karmas (prarabdha). As a lotus gradually drops its many petals as it dries, all the karmic reactions of a bhakti sadhaka are destroyed one by one.

“Gopala Tapani Upanisad (I.14) says, ‘Krishna bhakti bhajan means concentrating one’s mind on Krishna without selfish material desires in this life or the next. This bhajan destroys all karma.’

“This verse means that by becoming freed from material desires due to Krishna taking away everything, a devotee can fix one’s mind and senses in Krishna’s seva and become free from karma. Therefore, by doing bhajana all karmas are destroyed, even though the devotee is still situated in the material body. This happens due to the inconceivable mercy of Krishna.

“It appears that the happiness and distress devotees experience resembles ordinary karmic reactions (prarabdha). However, they are actually personally given by Krishna Himself. A mature devotee recognizes the superficially good and bad conditions one encounters as signs of the direct guidance of our ever well-wishing Master Sri Krishna.

‘But if Krishna is so compassionate to His devotees, why does Krishna expose them to special suffering?’

“This analogy answers your question: A very affectionate father takes the responsibility of restricting a child’s play and makes them go to school. The father knows that this is a genuine expression of his love for them, even if the children cannot appreciate it.

“Similarly, Sri Krishna is mercifully strict with all His devotees, not just the immature ones struggling to become qualified. Even perfect saints like Prahlada and Dhruva were subjected to great tribulations. But in the end the Sri Krishna gave them profuse enjoyment of wealth and material happiness.

“Thus the conclusion is that only Sri Krishna Himself, being affectionate to His devotees, knows His intentions and no one else. But you may question, ‘What’s the difference between the happiness and distress caused by one’s own karma and that given directly by Krishna?’

“Material happiness and distress, arising from karma, leave a subtle residue, more seeds of material desire (karma-bija) which cause future entanglement. Such enjoyment and suffering tend toward degradation and increase the danger of falling into hellish oblivion.

“However, the happiness and distress arranged by Krishna’s will for His devotee leave no trace after their immediate purpose has been served. Moreover, Krishna’s devotees enjoy this reciprocation with Krishna and will never fall down into hell.

“Yamaraja himself confirms this point (Srimad Bahgavatam 6.3.29); ‘O Yamadutts! Bring me the non-devotees who have never served Krishna, never once bowed to Krishna, never chanted Krishna’s name and qualities, and whose minds have never remembered Krishna’s lotus feet.’

“Thus for Krishna’s devotees there is no danger of going to hell. Because devotees are objects of Krishna affection (anugraha 10.88.8), their suffering is never extreme. How can one consider the suffering arising from karma and that given personally by Krishna to be equal?

“One is like the pain arising from getting beaten by an enemy, and the other is like that caused by one’s mother; one is like poison and the other is like nectar.

‘But wait a minute. Since Krishna can do anything, can’t Krishna accomplish His purposes without giving distress to His devotees?’

“No! Although Krishna is the reservoir of unlimited pastimes, He cannot accomplish His purposes without this. But when Krishna sometimes gives suffering to His beloved devotees, that suffering gives rise to great pleasure, just as a stinging ointment cures a patient’s infected eye.

“The suffering given to devotees by Krishna increases their eagerness to call upon Krishna to appear and come to them. Moreover, if the devotees were complacently happy all the time, Sri Krishna would have no reason to appear in this world.

“And without seeing Sri Krishna in His original, human-like form, how would the devotees on earth be able to enjoy playing in the nectar ocean of the rasa-lila and Krishna’s other wonderful, sweet Vraja lilas?

“In the next verse (Srimad Bahgavatam 10.88.9) Sri Krishna elaborates more the anugraha, or compassionate mercy that He bestows upon His Hari bhaktas. Here Krishna says, ‘After I take away everything from My devotees, they become frustrated in their attempts to make money. Then if they befriend the devotees, I will give them special mercy.’

“This second special mercy (anugraha) from Krishna means Krishna is saying, ‘I will cause an extraordinary shower of sweet bhakti-rasa to rain down on My devotees. It was for this purpose that My first mercy, of taking away everything (10.88.8), bore the fruit of tormenting pain. In other words, I will give mercy by giving My very self to My devotee.’”

Salvation Through Surrender

In part one, we described how fear of maya and the fear of falling down from the path of bhakti are helpful for spiritual advancement. The following commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam verse (10.87.50) shows that simply by surrendering to Shyamsundar one will become free from all fear and achieve liberation.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada: “In this verse, Shukadev Goswami says, ‘By surrendering to Sri Krishna one can escape the embrace of illusion, just as a dreaming person forgets one’s own body. One who wants freedom from the fear of rebirth should constantly meditate upon Bhagavan Sri Hari (nirasta –yonim –abhayam, -dhyayet –ajasram –harim).’

“Shukadeva explains how the jiva can transcend material existence by devotion to Krishna: ‘By surrendering to Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the jiva, who is helplessly bound in the embrace of illusion, lies down paying dandavats again and again to Krishna. By that surrender one becomes totally free from maya.’

“This means that the devotee gives up ignorance by abandoning one’s false identification with the material body. In some cases, Sri Krishna may show special consideration for one He favors, regardless of whether any sadhana has been performed or not.

“Even if a jiva has not practiced solitary bhajana for attaining liberation, still merciful Sri Krishna dispels one’s illusion and liberates one just as He did even for demons like Putana, Agha, Baka and Keshi who never ever did any spiritual practices. This proves Sri Krishna’s unique position as the topmost form of the Personality of Godhead.

“Knowing this, devotees should abandon all their doubts and fears, and just incessantly meditate upon Bhagavan Sri Krishna, whose absolutely charming sweetness steals away the mind of all those who love Him.”

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada ki jai! Krishna sharanagati ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Eager to know more about karma? Please read our articles from serie “Karma Trilogy and Freedom” part one, part two.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

In parts one and two, we described the conjunction of material and spiritual in Krishna’s pastimes; its relevance in a life of sadhana; and repentance in bhakti bhajan.

Devotion means lovingly serving Krishna for His pleasure. However, at the same time devotees also “enjoy” the basic sense objects. Yet devotees know that there is a thin line between deriving bliss from pure bhakti, and just enjoying without a Krishna connection.

Feeling somewhat helpless and a little fearful about the latter and staying forever in Maya, true devotees will repent their indulgence, and feel sorry about their material attachments and weak determination.

Praying to Krishna, they will cry out, “O Krishna! Because of my selfish enjoying spirit, I will fall into the dark well of material existence. Please help me!”

Now in part three, we will discuss how Bhagavan Sri Krishna personally arranges a devotee’s KARMA and FALLDOWN if it happens, and the astonishing effects of living and doing Krishna bhakti bhajan in Sridham Vrndavana.

Krishna Karma and Falldown

In the Bhagavat, the Shrutis pray, “O Krishna! When one realizes You, one no longer cares about one’s good and bad fortune arising from past pious and sinful acts (uttha-shubha –ashubha –guna –viguna), since it is You alone who control this good and bad fortune.

“Every day, a devotee will just keep hearing and singing about Your glories as received through the guru-parampara (gita –parampara). By doing this, You will personally liberate the devotee and bring one to the transcendental realm (tvam –apavarga –gatih).” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.87.40)

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada comments: “Here the Shrutis explain how neophyte devotees, even though they may misbehave, will not suffer in this life or the next. Rather, they will attain success. Since a devotee becomes free from all karmic reactions by worshiping Krishna, the apparent good and bad events one experiences are not the result of one’s karma, but rather they are personally arranged by Krishna.

“Or sometimes these apparently auspicious and inauspicious material reactions may appear as the results of offenses against Krishna’s devotees (vaishnava-aparadha). Krishna makes these experiences appear in such a way that the devotee seems to be suffering the reactions of one’s karma.

“However, the devotee ignores the apparent good and bad reactions of the seva one does only for Krishna’s pleasure. In other words, if someone praises a devotee, ‘O, you are so merciful, tolerant and generous’. Or if someone condemns a devotee saying, ‘You are greedy, hypocritical and attached to sense enjoyment’, the devotee is not overly concerned about it. At these times, the humble devotee does not pay much attention to the words of any person, high or low, praising or denouncing one.

“A devotee thinks, ‘If these people mistakenly see good qualities in me and express praise, let them do it. And if others see my real qualities of being attached to sense gratification and criticize me, then this is perfectly appropriate.’

“The Shrutis explain that no matter what happens, a devotee will day after day (anu-aham which means ahani -ahani) just keep hearing and singing about Krishna. Thus by the mighty current of Krishna nama-sankirtana, the devotee will quickly attain Krishna prema, the ultimate goal of liberation (apavarga-gatih)”

Even in Falldown, Krishna Protects

In the Bhagavata (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.2.33), the devatas pray to Sri Krishna, “O Madhava, sometimes Your devotees fall from the path of devotion (bhrashyanti –margat). But You always protect them and help them advance in bhakti.”

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada comments:

“Devotees may sometimes veer from the divine way, but they do not fall like gyanis, yogis and other spiritualists. Even while fallen, devotees will remain firmly attached to Krishna’s lotus feet. Their falldown, as in the case of Bharata and Citraketu, results in increasing their love and attachment to Krishna.

“Devotees remain faithful to Krishna, thinking their fall was arranged by Krishna for their own benefit. Krishna promises in Gita (9.31), ‘My devotee will never perish!’ Remembering Krishna’s promise again and again, devotees gain conviction and conquer over all obstacles on the bhakti marga.”

Unique Fortune of Dhama Devotees

In his tika on (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.87.40), Sri Cakravartipada also highlights the special fortune of devotees living in Vrndavana practicing Krishna bhakti bhajan.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada: “In Gopala-tapani –Upanisad (Uttara v. 47-49), Bhagavan Sri Krishna says, ‘I am worshiped by devotees living in Mathura/Vrndavana (aham –pujaniyo – bhadra –krishna –nivasi). Even if the devotees living in Vraja Mandala do not properly follow the religious principles, still they become devoted to Me just by virtue of living there.

‘Even if Kali has them in his grip, they still get credit for living in Vrndavana. My devotee who lives in Vrndavana is just as dear to Me as Sri Lakshmidevi and My own self (shriya –abhiyukti –aham -bhakto -mama –priyah).’

Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s mercy ki jai! Vraja Dhama ki jai!

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada continues, “This verse from Gopala-tapani Upansad implies that even if one is evil, immoral and sinful but lives in that Mathura.”

In part four, we will discuss Sri Krishna special mercy for His devotees and salvation through surrender.

Krishna krpa ki jai! Vrndavana vasa ki jai! Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

There is an amazing relationship between the destruction of karma in bhakti bhajan, and the first six children of Mother Devaki who were brutally murdered at birth by the asuric King Kamsa.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada explains:

“First, I want to ask, ‘how is it possible that before the advent of Balarama and Devakinandan Sri Krishna, that six material children appeared in the divine womb of Bhagavan’s mother Devaki, who is Sri Krishna’s internal spiritual energy, chit -shakti?’

“The answer is that just as unlimited material universes exist within Sri Krishna without affecting or contaminating Him, mat-sthāni -sarva-bhūtāni, na -cāhaṁ -teṣv -avasthitaḥ (Bhagavat Gita 9.4); similarly, six material children could exist within Devaki without contaminating her.

“The conjunction of material and spiritual in Krishna’s pastimes is there to illustrate the methodical nature of bhakti. While devotees perform sadhana -bhakti in the form of hearing and chanting about Krishna, they also enjoy the six material sense objects (form, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought) which is a secondary effect of bhakti.

But at the time of “enjoying” these objects, the devotee cries out pitifully, ‘O Krishna! Because of this enjoyment I will fall into the dark well of material existence. Please help me!’

“When a devotee repents like this and shows fear of material enjoyment, gradually the tendency to enjoy matter subsides. Then pure bhakti in the form of hearing and chanting Krishna’s names, glorifying His transcendental forms, qualities and pastimes, and serving Sri Hari in various ways becomes prominent.

“Finally, Sri Krishna Himself, the ocean of all wonderful, transcendent beautiful forms and qualities, will appear within the devotee just as He did with His devotee Devakimata.

“By nature, bhakti is shuddha-sattva, pure goodness, and thus it can directly manifest Bhagavan Sri Krishna. The Sruti says: bhaktir evainam darshayati, “Devotion makes Krishna give His darshan.”

“As it is said in the lila of Krishna’s advent that Marici (a bygone demon) appeared from the mind, Marici can be considered the incarnation of the mind. And Marici’s six children (who appeared in Devaki’s womb) represent the six objects of the senses: sound, touch, form, taste, smell, and thought.

Since Devaki possesses the power to make Bhagavan Sri Krishna appear, she can be considered the incarnation of bhakti. Kamsa can be considered the incarnation of fear, as it is often said “out of fear of Kamsa.”

Just as fear of the material world removes the six sense objects from the womb of bhakti, so Kamsa destroyed the six children of Devaki. Krishna-prema, which is characterized by intense service to Sri Krishna, necessarily appears in the womb of bhakti after the desire for sense objects is extinguished.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.2.8, Sarartha Darshini tika), Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada ki jai!

Thus concludes part of one of our new series discussing bhakti, karma and falldown in spiritual life. Subsequent posts will answer questions like, “Is repentance part of bhakti?” “Are devotees suffering due to their karma?” “Why do devotees fall down from the all-purifying and blissful path of devotional bhajan?” “Who’s arranging a devotee’s life, one’s self, one’s karma, or is it all Krishna’s personal will and jurisdiction?”

Srimad Bhagavatam Maha Purana ki jai! Gaudiya Vaisnava rasik janas ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe! Jai Jai Sri Shyam! Jai Jai Sri Vrndavana Dhama!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

What is REPENTANCE IN BHAKTI BHAJAN? In part one of this series, Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada said, “When a devotee repents like this and shows fear of material enjoyment, gradually the tendency to enjoy matter subsides.”

We will now describe something about the concept and practice of repentance, an essential aspect of bhakti bhajan. Repentance means regret, self-condemnation, feeling guilty and sorry, grieving and feelings of disappointment. Repentance is natural for a good, virtuous, basically faultless person like a devotee. It delivers one from all kinds of sins accidentally committed.

When a devotee sincerely regrets one’s accidental falldowns or sins, then by Krishna’s mercy all those sins are destroyed in the fire of repentance. However, repentance can never manifest in those intoxicated by sense enjoyment.

What causes falldown? When a devotee somehow or other neglects one’s devotional intelligence i.e. the inner guide Sri Krishna or Sri Guru, one will become bewildered and perform sinful acts. Upon realizing this, a devotee will automatically feel repentant.

The Sanskrit word for ‘repentance’ is pashchat-tapa, which means “burning after the fact.” And that’s exactly what repentance means, mentally burning and feeling painful heart pangs of guilt, regret, remorse and sorrow. And all of these together along with Krishna’s blessings are what really cleanses the tarnished heart.

Sincerity in bhakti is everything.

In bhakti bhajan, the only means of atonement for sins and falldowns is repentance, a response of mind and heart, and intensifying our physical practices of bhakti i.e. hearing and chanting about Sri Krishna, and serving Sri Hari, Sri Guru and the merciful Vaisnavas. One’s heart will not be purified, however, unless it’s burnt in the fire of repentance which is a type of voluntary pain for a wrongdoing.

The best method of repentance is to establish and cultivate a strong inner will to never, never, never again repeat that evil. The reward for repentance is the destruction of sins, and being accepted once again in the shelter of Krishna’s tender and affectionate heart.

Repentance is the only recourse for regressions. Without it one becomes degraded.

The saying, “No pain, no gain!” also applies in bhakti! Sincere repentance is also another form of pain and suffering, but such suffering is purifying, uplifting and energizing.

Forget the wrong, forgive yourself, pick up your beads, start chanting Hare Krishna again, and continue to serve Krishna once again with redoubled enthusiasm just like the joyous color festival, Holi Utsava, which follows the burning of the demoness of sin, “Holika” the night before. Just take one baby step toward Krishna the beautiful, and Krishna will run ten steps forward and jump in your lap.

Thus concludes part of two of our new series discussing bhakti, karma and falldown in spiritual life. Subsequent posts will answer questions like, “Are devotees suffering due to their karma?” “Why do devotees fall down from the all-purifying and blissful path of devotional bhajan?” “Who’s arranging a devotee’s life, one’s self, one’s karma, or is it all Krishna’s personal will and jurisdiction?”

Srimad Bhagavatam Maha Purana ki jai! Genuine Repentance ki jai!

Gaudiya Vaisnava rasik janas ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe! Jai Jai Sri Shyam! Jai Jai Sri Vrndavana Dhama!