There are Ten Meanings for the Word “Bhakti”

’bhakti’-śabdera artha haya daśa-vidhākāra
eka—‘sādhana’, ‘prema-bhakti’—nava prakāra

“There are ten meanings for the word ‘bhakti’ [devotional service]. One is sādhana-bhakti, execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles, and the other nine are varieties of prema-bhakti, ecstatic love of Godhead.” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 24.30]

Sādhana-bhakti is a combination of two processes, namely, pāñcarātrika-vidhi (rules and regulations for Archan and temple worship), and bhāgavata-vidhi (beginning with śravaṇaṁ (hearing) and kīrtanaṁ (chanting)). The two processes—pāñcarātrika-vidhi and bhāgavata-vidhi—are compared to the parallel rails of a train’s track, which guide and support steady progress forward.

Regarding these two processes, Śrīla Prabhupāda states:

“Lord Nārāyaṇa is worshipable by the pāñcarātrika-vidhi, or regulative principles, whereas Lord Kṛṣṇa is worshipable by the bhāgavata-vidhi. No one can worship the Lord in the bhāgavata-vidhi without going through the regulations of the pāñcarātrika-vidhi. Actually, neophyte devotees worship the Lord according to the pāñcarātrika-vidhi, or the regulative principles enjoined in the Nārada Pañcarātra. Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa cannot be approached by the neophyte devotees; therefore temple worship according to regulative principles is offered to Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa. Although there may be a Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa vigraha, or form, the worship of the neophyte devotees is acceptable as Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa worship. Worship according to the pāñcarātrika-vidhi is called vidhi-mārga, and worship according to the bhāgavata-vidhi principles is called rāga-mārga. The principles of rāga-mārga are especially meant for devotees who are elevated to the Vṛndāvana platform.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.24.45-46, Purport – Śrīla Prabhupāda]

ei ta sādhana-bhakti—dui ta’ prakāra
eka ‘vaidhī bhakti’, ‘rāgānugā-bhakti’ āra

“There are two processes of practical devotional service. One is regulative devotional service, and the other is spontaneous devotional service.” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.108][/i]

Sādhana-bhakti combines both vaidhī-bhakti and rāgānugā-bhakti; together, they cure our spiritually diseased condition. They include specific rules and regulations prescribed by the Vaiṣṇava guru and bhakti-śāstras (devotional literature) to bring us back to our original spiritually healthy condition of sat-cit-ānanda (eternity, knowledge, and bliss).

The disciples of His Divine Grace Śrīla Prabhupāda—both dīkṣā and śikṣā—are instructed to chant each day a minimum of 16 rounds of japa (soft chanting of the mahā-mantra on “japa beads ”) and follow the “four regulative principles” (i.e., no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no intoxication, and no gambling). A newcomer to bhakti may consider these principles too difficult and restrictive, but those who are advancing on the path of realizing bhakti-tattva (the truth of devotional service ), accept them as the “regulative principles of freedom.” In the beginning, we can start with a few rounds of japa—maintain them—and then gradually increase to 16 or more.

The main principle here, as stated in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.11), is that “One should accept everything which is favorable for the devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa and reject whatever is unfavorable.”

“The process of devotional service—beginning with chanting and hearing—is called sādhana-bhakti. This includes the regulative principles that are intended to awaken one to devotional service.” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 19.177, Purport – Śrīla Prabhupāda]

By adhering to these principles, simple faith in the instructions of the guru develops, the heart is gradually cleansed of material desires, firm faith in guru and śāstra becomes established, transcendental taste in devotional service is realized, and one becomes undeviatingly attached to devotional association and service. Subsequently, transcendental emotions, for the Lord and His pure devotees, begin to surface; and finally, the symptoms of pure unadulterated loving devotion (prema-bhakti) manifest.

Sādhana-bhakti is the process—prema-bhakti is the goal.

As discussed earlier, this is the sādhya-sādhana of daivī-warṇāśrama. This condition of spiritual consciousness is also known as the jaiva-dharma (intrinsic nature) of the jīva. As a result of following the process of sādhana-bhakti, the realization of one’s eternal constitution nature is awakened, and the sādhaka (a suitable candidate for liberation) returns to the blissful position of an eternal servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as stated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu:

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya—kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’

"Every living entity is constitutionally a servant of Kṛṣṇa." [Cc. Madhya 20.108]
Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Bhava dasa (ACBSP) (admin)

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