First Wave: Qualities of Pure Bhakti


First Wave: Qualities of Pure Bhakti



First Translation:

“Kṛṣṇa, the destroyer of all sin and the bestower of all bliss, the very form of the highest bliss, filled with all rasas, excels all others in glory. He brings Tārakā and Pālikā under His control by the diffusion of His beauty; He accepts Śyāmalā and Lālitā as His equals; and gives pleasure to Rādhā with His excellent qualities.”

Second Translation:

“The full moon, which destroys suffering and creates happiness by its cooling rays, shines everywhere by its excellent qualities and beauty. It is the very form of nectar, filled with all tastes. It eclipses the host of stars by its light, accepts the playful gestures of the night, and fondly enters the nakṣatra Śākhā in the spring season.”


“I offer my respects unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Though I am a vile person by nature, I have undertaken this work by His inspiration within my heart.”


“May this work named ‘the ocean of nectar composed of bhakti-rasa’ always serve as the recreation hall of my Lord manifested in the form called Sanātana (Gosvāmī) for His pleasure.”


“I offer my respects to the devotees who are like makaras, kings among fishes, frolicking in the sweet ocean of devotional rasa;who disregard the insignificant rivers of liberation, and who are free from fear caused by the net of time.”


“O Sanātana, may your ocean of bhakti-rasa remain for a long time, restricting the harsh arguments of the proponents of karma and jñāna, just as the ocean restricts the flame of the vaḍabā fire.”


“Although I am ignorant, I have undertaken this work concerning bhakti-rasa related to Kṛṣṇa, who is auspicious for the whole world, for the joy of my friends.”


“In this sweet ocean of bhakti-rasa offered to the Lord, four sections will be expounded one at a time, starting with the eastern section.”


“The Eastern Ocean defines the different types of bhakti. This will be discussed in four successive waves (chapters).”


“The First Wave of the Eastern Ocean is concerned with bhakti in general. The Second Wave describes sādhana-bhakti. The Third Wave describes bhāva-bhakti. The Fourth Wave describes prema-bhakti.”


“In the First Wave, to clearly describe the superiority of bhakti to other processes, the unique characteristics of uttama-bhakti, as approved by the ācāryas, will be related.”


“The highest bhakti is defined as continuous service or emotions directed towards Kṛṣṇa, His expansion forms or others related to Him, with a pleasing attitude towards Kṛṣṇa. It should be devoid of desires other than the desire to please the Lord, and unobstructed by impersonal jñāna, the materialistic rituals of karma or other unfavorable acts.”


Thus, the Nārada-pañcarātra says:

Bhakti is defined as service to the Lord using the senses. It should be done with the intention of pleasing the Lord, free from other desires, and unobstructed by other processes.”


This is also stated in the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [3.29.12-14]:

“These are the characteristics of transcendental loving service to Puruṣottama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is without other desires, and it is not contaminated by karma or jñāna. In this type of bhakti, My devotees do not accept sālokya, sārṣṭi, sārūpya, sāmipya or oneness with Me—even if I offer these liberations—in preference to serving Me. This is called bhakti-yoga, and it is declared as the highest object of human pursuit.”


“The description of the excellence of the devotee in the above verse amounts to describing the characteristics of bhakti by revealing its purity.”


“The unique characteristics of bhakti are: its ability to destroy suffering; its bestowal of auspiciousness; its disregard for liberation; its rarity of attainment; its manifestation of concentrated bliss; and its ability to attract Kṛṣṇa.”


“Now we will discuss the first characteristic, its ability to destroy suffering. Suffering is threefold: sinful reaction, the seed of sin and ignorance.”


“First we will discuss sinful reactions. There are two types of sinful reactions (effects of sinful acts): effects that are experienced in this lifetime (prārabdham) and effects that will be experienced in future lives (aprārabdham).”


Here is an example of destroying all aprārabdha reactions from the 11th
Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [11.14.19]:
“My dear Uddhava, devotional service in relationship with Me is like a blazing fire that can burn to ashes all the fuel of sinful activities supplied to it.”


Here is proof of destroying prārabdha reactions from the Third Canto of

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [3.33.6]:

“To say nothing of the spiritual advancement of persons who see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face-to-face, even a person born in a family of dog- eaters immediately becomes eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices if he once utters the Holy Name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or chants about Him, hears about His pastimes, offers Him obeisances or even remembers Him.”


“It is understood that his low birth as a dog-eater is the cause of his disqualification from performing sacrifices. The sinful reaction by which he attains such low birth in this life is called prārabdha sin.”


Also in the Padma Purāṇa it is said:
“For those engaged in bhakti to Viṣṇu, the aprārabdha, kūṭa, bīja and prārabdha-karmas are destroyed step-by-step.”


An illumination of bhakti destroying the seed of sin, namely material desires, is found in the Sixth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [6.2.17]:
“Although one may neutralize the reactions of sinful life through austerity, charity, vows and other such methods, these pious activities cannot uproot the material desires in one's heart. However, if one serves the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, he is immediately freed from all such contaminations.”


Next bhakti’s ability to destroy avidyā (ignorance) is illustrated [in Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam 4.22.39]:
“The devotees, who are always engaged in the service of the toes of the lotus feet of the Lord, can very easily overcome hard-knotted desires for fruitive activities. Because this is very difficult, the nondevotees—the jñānīs and yogīs—although trying to stop the waves of sense gratification, cannot do so. Therefore you are advised to engage in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, the son of Vasudeva.”


Padma Purāṇa says the following:

“As the forest fire burns up the female snake demon, supreme devotion to the Lord quickly burns up avidyā completely by the knowledge (vidyā) which accompanies it.”


“Next, the second unique characteristic of uttama-bhakti, namely its bestowal of auspiciousness, is discussed. The wise explain that there are four kinds of śubha (auspiciousness): affection for all living entities, being attractive to all living entities, possession of good qualities, and happiness, as well as other items.”


The first two types of auspiciousness are illustrated in the Padma Purāṇa: “He who worships the Lord is pleasing to all living entities; and all the inhabitants of the world, both moving and non-moving, are pleasing to him.”


That bhakti bestows good qualities and other things is discussed in the Fifth
Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [5.18.12]:
“One who has unflinching devotion for the Personality of Godhead has all the good qualities of the demigods. But one who is not a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications, that are of little value. This is because he is hovering on the mental plane and is certain to be attracted by the glaring material energy.”


Bhakti bestows happiness. There are three types of happiness: from material things, from realization of brahman and from the Lord.”


Thus it is said in the Tantras:
“Astounding mystic powers, material enjoyment, eternal happiness in the realization of brahman, and eternal bliss from service to the Lord all appear from bhakti to Govinda.”


It also says in the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya:

 “O Lord of the devas! I again pray to You that I may have firm devotion to You. That bhakti is a creeper that bestows artha, dharma, kāma, mokṣa and also the happiness of realization of the Lord.”


Bhakti causes total disregard for liberation:

“When even a little attraction for the Lord grows in the heart, the four objects of human attainment—artha, dharma, kāma and mokṣa—become like grass, shameful to appear before bhakti.”


Thus the Nārada-pañcarātra says:

“All the siddhis headed by liberation and all astonishing material pleasures follow after the great goddess called Hari-bhakti like fearful maidservants.”


Bhakti is rarely attained. Bhakti is difficult to attain in two ways: if undertaken in great quantity but without attachment (āsakti), bhakti cannot attained even after a long time; and even if practiced with attachment, Kṛṣṇa does not give bhakti to the practitioner immediately.”


The first type of rarity is illustrated in one of the Tantras:
“Liberation is easily attained by jñāna and material enjoyment is easily attained by puṇyas such as sacrifice, after attaining dedication to those goals by thousands of attempts. But bhāva-bhakti to the Lord cannot be attained if one practices thousands of different sādhanas (because āsakti will not appear).”


The second type of rarity is described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [5.6.18]: “My dear King, the Supreme Person, Mukunda, is actually the maintainer of all the members of the Pāṇḍava and Yadu dynasties. He is your spiritual master, worshipable Deity, friend, and the director of your activities. To say nothing of this, He sometimes serves your family as a messenger or servant. This means He worked just as ordinary servants do. Those engaged in getting the Lord's favor attain liberation from the Lord very easily, but He does not very easily give the opportunity to render direct service unto Him.”


Bhakti is composed of a special condensed bliss. The bliss of brahman realization accumulated by samādhi lasting half a lifetime of Brahmā cannot be compared to one drop of the ocean of happiness of bhakti.”


Therefore the Hari-bhakti-sudhodayasays:
“O guru of the universe, on seeing You directly, I am situated in a pure ocean of bliss. All the happiness of impersonal brahman is as insignificant as the water in the hoofprint of a cow.”


Also, it is said in the Bhāvātha-dīpikā [10.88.11]:
“Some fortunate people play in the sweet ocean of Your topics and enjoy the greatest bliss. They consider the happiness from artha, dharma, kāma and mokṣa to be as insignificant as grass.”


Bhakti attracts Kṛṣṇa and His associates. Bhakti is called śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī because it makes the Lord addicted to prema and brings Him under control, along with His associates.”


Thus Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says in the Eleventh Canto [11.14.20]:

“My dear Uddhava, the unalloyed devotional service rendered to Me by My devotees brings Me under their control. I cannot be thus controlled by those engaged in mystic yoga, Sāṅkhya philosophy, pious work, Vedic study, austerity or renunciation.”


Similarly Nārada says in the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [7.10.48]: “My dear Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, all of you [the Pāṇḍavas] are extremely fortunate, for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, lives in your
palace just like a human being. Great saintly persons know this very well, and therefore they constantly visit this house.”


“The three types of bhakti will be explained later, one after the other. The greatness of bhakti is uniquely glorified by the six qualities just mentioned, two qualities appearing in each type of bhakti.”


“Furthermore it should be stated that even if one has just a little taste for the topic of bhakti, he can understand it. He who tries to understand bhakti by dry logic cannot understand it, because logic is insubstantial.”


“Concerning this topic it is said by the ancient authorities: ‘A person more skillful at logic can bring about a conclusion different from what was carefully proven previously by another skillful logician.’ ”

iti śrī śrī bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhau
pūrva-bhāge bhakti-sāmānya laharī prathama

“Thus ends the First Wave in the Eastern Ocean of Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta- sindhu, concerning the general overview of bhakti.”