Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Please read previous part one before.
On the path of Radha-Krishna bhakti bhajana, one must pass through nine steps or stages to reach the final goal, Krishna prema.
1) Beginning with faith in Sri Krishna (Shraddha); bhakti grows, deepens and progresses successively through the levels of:
2) Sadhu sanga;
3) Bhajana kriya (practicing nine limbs of Radha-Krishna hearing, chanting and remembering);
4) Anarthanivrtti (sensual, mental and emotional, purification);
5) Nishtha (firmness, strong conviction, enthusiasm and mental peace);
6) Ruchi (taste, joy and fulfillment in bhakti bhajana;
7) Asakti (strong attachment to Radha-Krishna with intense yearning to meet Them);
Bhava (experience spiritual ecstasy, and intense desire to see and intimately serve Radha-Krishna along with occasional deep visions or even darshana;
9) Krishna prema (the final stage of perfect, transcendent loving bliss eternal, and constant rapturous Vrajamadhurya-lila immersions in one’s siddha.
One should be forewarned, however, that the fourth stage, anarthanivrtti (cessation of offenses and all bad habits), is the most difficult one to pass through. It may take lifetimes!
In Madhurya-kadambini (3.16,18), Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti explains exactly how aparadhas and anarthas i.e. offenses, unwanted obstacles and impediments gradually disappear from the mind and heart of the sincere sadhaka. He describes five stages in gradual cessation of all aparadhas and anarthas:
STAGES OF PERFECTION IN KRISHNA CONSCIOUNESS:
1) Partial—15% anarthas & aparadhas destroyed; Bhajankriya stage.At this stage one is 15% attached to serving and being with Krishna and 85% attached to enjoying his/her material body and senses. 15% Krishna consciousness v.s. 85% MAYA!
2) Pervasive—75% anarthas & aparadhas destroyed; Nishtha stage.At this stage one is 75% attached to serving and being with Krishna and 25% attached to enjoying his/her material body and senses. 75% Krishna consciousness v.s. 25% MAYA!
3) Almost complete—95% destroyed; Bhava stage. 95% Krishna consciousness v.s. 5% MAYA!
4) Complete—100% destroyed; Prema stage. 100% Krishna consciousness v.s. .0,01% MAYA!
Even here however, there is a slight chance anarthas may reappear. Sri Rupa Gosvami confirms this: “Yes, it’s true and possible that even at the stage of bhava or prema, one may commit an aparadha if one offends a great devotee of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Krishna presthaaparadhatah.”(Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.3.54)
5) Absolute—100/100% destroyed; 100% Krishna consciousness v.s. 0,00% MAYA!
For the fully realized Krishna premibhakta, the cessation and destruction of ALL ANARTHAS AND APARADHAS IS ABSOLUTE because one has received the complete mercy Sri Krishna along with His direct seva and association (sakshad seva & sanga). There is not even the slightest chance for the appearance of anarthas or aparadhas. One has now attained the perfection of his/her human life and the final goal of Krishna consciousness.
Thus one can see that advancing in Radha-Krishna bhakti bhajana is a gradual process that may extend for many lifetimes.
In Sri Gita, Bhagavan Sri Krishna explains this point:“In the next life, one is automatically attracted to the type of sadhana bhajana one practiced in the previous life, pūrvābhyāsena tenaiva hriyate hy avaśo ’pi saḥ.”(Bhagavad Gita 6.44)
Sridhara Swami tika:“Thus struggling under the momentum of his former practice, the sadhaka gradually attains liberation in Krishna consciousness.”
Sri Krishna continues, “Unlike one’s previous life, the bhakti yogi will now strive for spiritual perfection with intense effort and become purified of his/her anarthas and aparadhas. Then after many births, one will finally attain perfection in Krishna consciousness, Krishna prema. (6.45)
prayatnād yatamānas tu, yogī saṁśuddha-kilbiṣaḥ
aneka-janma-saṁsiddhas, tato yāti parāṁ gatim
Sri Baladeva Vidya bhushana tika: “Due to fear of his previous obstacles, the sadhaka now makes even more effort in bhajana. And this additional effort purifies one of all material desires.”
Srila Prabhupada tika: “With determination, therefore, the bhakta begins his/her unfinished task, and thus one completely cleanses oneself of all material contaminations. When one is finally free from all contaminations, one attains the supreme perfection—Krishna consciousness.”
The principle of a gradual process also applies to the realization and perception of one’s Guru received or mentally conceived siddha svarupa, siddha deha. In the beginning, awareness of one’s eternal, transcendental female identity as Srimati Radharani’s loving loyal maidservant is slight, and bodily attachment is great. Gradually as one advances in meditation and receives more mercy from Sri Krishna and Sri Guru, he/she will more deeply identify with the siddha deha and Sri Radha’s seva, and simultaneously identify less with the external material body and enjoying material sense gratification.
The material body and siddha deha are like communicating vessels—more identity with body, less identity with siddha deha; or more identity with siddha deha, then less identity with one’s temporary material body.
In this regard, Srila Prabhupada said, “The more we make progress in Krishna consciousness, this ‘my consciousness and I consciousness’ will vanish. So this is a natural consequence. And as soon as you begin to eat, your weakness will disappear along with your hunger and satisfaction will come.
“Similarly, these two things cannot stand together, maya and Krishna. If I am in Krishna consciousness then there is no question of maya. It may be that I’m not fully Krishna conscious. Just like while eating it is not that immediately my hunger is satisfied; it takes a little time. Similarly, Krishna consciousness is a gradual process of advancement. That is the test. If I am still in illusion, then I should understand that my Krishna consciousness is not progressing. This is the test.” (folio: 670116CC.NYC)
Further, Srila Prabhupada said, “Material hankerings and spiritual advancement go ill together. (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.27 tika) Material attachment and taking shelter of the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Krishna go ill together. Material attachment means ignorance of transcendental happiness under the shelter of Sri Krishna (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.12.27 tika). Increasing one’s love for Krishna is a gradual process. “(folio: TLK Verse 36)
In the next wonderful quote, Srila Prabhupada perfectly and beautifully explains the gradual journey to Krishna prema:
“The development of intimacy between Bhagavan Sri Krishna and the living entity happens by a gradual process of progressive devotional activities. Such a progressive march of transcendental devotion for Sri Krishna culminates in the attainment of loving service of Krishna, which is called prema in different transcendental varietgatedness called rasas, [astonishingly tasty, loving divine mellows].” (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.37 tika)
The conclusion is that one must try his/her best to perform bhakti bhajana, all the while understanding that perfection does not come easy. One should think, “Krishna prema may come in one life, two or even ten lifetimes, but still I must attain this perfection no matter what! The joy, the peace and the fulfillment I have found so far in bhakti bhajana completely eclipses and surpasses all other pleasures I obtained by trying to enjoy my body and this mundane world.
“I am totally convinced that nothing else in this world but Krishna consciousness is so supremely beautiful, sweet, blissful, tasteful and fulfilling. I know that I am far, far away from Krishna prema perfection, yet I will keep moving on and on. I am sure that if not now then in some future life, my most loving and merciful Radha-Govinda Yugala will grant me Their sweet love, Their blissful darshana and Their tight, loving embrace!!!!
Bhakti bhajana ki jai! Radha-Govinda Yugala prema seva in Vrajanikunjas ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!