śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 12, Issue 5
Posted: 22 June 2019

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Warnings Along the Path to Pure Bhakti

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda


One may take poison and die, but one should never keep company with a viṣayī and viṣaya (an enjoyer and the objects of worldly enjoyment). He who begins hari-bhajana (absorption in devotion to Śrī Hari) but again becomes entangled with the objects of enjoyment, ruins his life.

Initially, Emperor Bharat of India practised devotion with penances and made progress therein; but later he cherished a slight desire for some object of enjoyment other than Kṛṣṇa – a desire to perform the pious actof serving a jīva (a motherless deer), instead of doing him true kindness. Consequently, he had to be reborn as a fawn (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.7–8). It is for this reason that we receive the teaching from the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva that we have no other duty to perform than doing service to Kṛṣṇa. Śrī gurudeva’s only blessing has been “May your mind rest in Kṛṣṇa.”

Śrī Mahāprabhu has given the following advice to those who seek true well-being: totally shun the company of the emancipationist seekers of oneness with non-distinct brahma; they are more insincere than those who desire worldly enjoyment. We should shun all such bad company and associate with true sādhus (saintly devotees of God), whoseonly duty is to cut through all of the evil designs the jīvas have accumulated. This is their natural, motiveless desire for all living beings (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.26–27).

Worldly people generally covet two disparate moods within their heart. In other words, they are duplicitous – they speak one thing far and wide, while concealing something very different inside. And isn’t it fun that such people are so anxious to present the duplicity of their heart to the public as though it were the expression of their liberality or their virtuous capacity for conciliation. These double-tongued men give those who are candid and do not adopt duplicity themselves, the designations of sectarian, bigoted and so forth. But we should only associate with those who are candid, not with others. We should fully abandon the company of the evil-hearted and keep it as far away as possible, for it is sensible to avoid horned beasts by staying a hundred yards away.

Decisions made by men based on popular opinion, whether the decision is made with discrimination or not, are not identical with truth. The general consensus of people who follow blindly, herded like foolish cattle, is always riddled with errors. This consensus is produced by the mental faculty. While there may be some appearance of truth in it, it will be relative truth or it will only remain true temporarily; it will not be real truth.

Human intellect is driven by rajaḥ- and tamaḥ-guṇa (the inferior modes of nature known as “passion” and “ignorance”). As such, it cannot penetrate deliberations on unmixed sattva-guṇa (the superior mode of nature known as “goodness”). A popular example illustrates this:

Suppose someone about to eat pāyasa (a type of sweet dish made from rice, milk and sugar), is given a friendly advice to mix his sweet dish with mortar of lime, brick-dust and sand in order to increase its quantity. This mixture will prevent him from getting the benefit of food and it will destroy the taste, choke his throat, burn his mouth and bring about a condition that may even prove fatal.

When someone gives the advice to complete their practice of pure bhakti – which is beyond the influence of all three modes of nature – by combining it with practices like jñāna, yoga, or karma – which are of this world, and born of the modes of nature – it is to our benefit to not accept their advice. Such advice is detrimental to our true well-being, like the sweet dish ruined by the mixture of mortar.

Practices like karma, jñāna, and yoga are the activities of fettered souls, being the functions of the body and mind; whereas bhakti is the function of the soul and the activity of the liberated being. Consequently, bhakti cannot be mixed with the result of the activities of the world of māyā, which are foreign to the transcendental soul. When these are practiced in acknowledgement of the supremacy of bhakti, however, then that bhakti, although mixed with karma and jñāna, may still help lead the practitioner along the road to pure bhakti.

When pure bhakti is attained, the mixed state no longer remains. It has therefore been said in the Pañcarātra (and cited in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.8), “Those acts that are prescribed in śāstra for service to Hari constitute ordained bhakti, and through the performance of these ordained activities, true bhakti is available.”

Adapted from The Gauḍīya, Volume 8, Number 12 (Part 2)
by the Rays of The Harmonist Team

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