Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Sri Caitanya compares bhakti to a creeper growing in a garden. Ideally, chanting Kṛṣṇa’s names should “water” this bhakti-lata (creeper of devotion), and make it grow to the mature stage of producing the “fruits” of kṛṣṇa-prema. Chanting the all-potent holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead always produces results. However, if chanting is done improperly, the results may be disastrous, and even destroy one’s chances of attaining kṛṣṇa-prema.
If one is careless in chanting and watering his bhakti creeper, some water may fall to the wayside and nourish unwanted “weeds”. These weeds (different types of anarthas) may shoot up very quickly and choke out the tiny creeper of devotion. Such improper chanting, which is called bhukti-nama or mukti-nama, waters the weeds of sense enjoyment and the desire for liberation. Thus one fails to attain the goal of suddha or prema-nama. Kṛṣṇa dasa Kaviraja describes this in Caitanya-caritamrta:
kintu yadi latāra saṅge uṭhe ‘upaśākhā’
bhukti-mukti-vāñchā, yata asaṅkhya tāra lekhā
‘niṣiddhācāra’, ‘kuṭīnāṭī’, ‘jīva-hiṁsana’
‘lābha’, ‘pūjā’, ‘pratiṣṭhādi’ yata upaśākhā-gaṇa
Lord Caitanya said, ‘Sometimes unwanted creepers, such as the creepers of desires for material enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti) from the material world, grow along with the creeper of devotional service (bhakti-lata). The varieties of such unwanted creepers are unlimited.’
‘Some unnecessary creepers growing with the bhakti creeper are the creepers of behavior unacceptable for those trying to attain perfection (niṣiddhācāra), diplomatic behavior (kuṭīnāṭī), animal killing (jīva-hiṁsana), mundane profiteering (lābha), mundane adoration (pūjā) and mundane importance (pratiṣṭhādi). All these are unwanted creepers.’ (Chaitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 19.158-9)
“These unwanted creepers present obstacles for the real creeper, the bhakti-latā. One should be very careful to avoid all these unwanted things. Sometimes these unwanted creepers look exactly like the bhakti creeper. They appear to be of the same size and the same species when they are packed together with the bhakti creeper, but in spite of this, the creepers are called upaśākhā. A pure devotee can distinguish between the bhakti creeper and a mundane creeper, and he is very alert to distinguish them and keep them separate.” (Chaitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 19.159 p.)
Do not succumb to the tendency to chant bhukti-nama, which is chanting with a heart full of material desires; or mukti-nama, which is chanting with desires for liberation. One must not allow his garden of devotion to become infested with weeds. Become an expert gardener, trained in identifying and immediately uprooting any weeds that may appear in the garden of the heart. Always maintain a pure motivation free from desires. Keep the goal of Radha-Govinda’s prema-seva in the kunjas of Vrndavana first and foremost in the mind.
The following six anarthas are the most dangerous weeds in the garden of bhakti. Uproot immediately! Do not let even the slightest sprout grow anywhere near the tender creeper of devotion.
1. Niṣiddhācāra: Forbidden actions, which are against sastra. (e.g. illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, gambling)
2. Kuṭīnāṭī: Fault finding, duplicity and diplomacy.
3. Jīva-hiṁsa: Killing animals or any living entity, and envy of others.
4. Lābha: Greed for material gain.
5. Pūjā: Desire for worship, popularity, admiration, and honor from others.
6. Pratiṣṭhā: Desire for name, fame and high position.
An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting.