gopate sādhile siddhi sādhana navadhā bhakti
prārthanā kariba dainye sadā
kari hari-saṅkīrtana sadāi vibhola mana
iṣṭa-lābha vinū saba bādhā
One should secretly practice sādhana for attaining perfection, siddhi, by engaging in the nine processes
of devotional service. Pray with humility and perform hari-saṅkīrtana with your mind absorbed on Kṛṣṇa. Without attaining the goal of life, everything remains an obstacle.
This sādhana is meant to be hidden and kept secret. Don’t disclose the contents of your bhajana to anyone.
To follow the nine limbs of bhakti while praying from the heart is our practice. One should externally continue performing nāma-saṅkīrtana with a joyful mood. But don’t give an announcement of your sādhana. Any realization that may be revealed should be kept confidential. Don’t show anybody. The nine activities of bhakti is the only process to get love. It bestows kṛṣṇa-prema. It has mahā-śakti. Performing nāma-saṅkīrtana without aparādha will cause prema-bhakti to appear in the heart. Kṛṣṇa’s nāma, rūpa, guṇa, and līlā together will manifest. Without nāma-saṅkīrtana everything you try to do will only create problems without a solution. In Kali-yuga the only treatment is nāma-saṅkīrtana. For attainment of spiritual health and wealth, just do nāma-saṅkīrtana.
In this easy process of nāma-kīrtana there is only one condition. During the performance of saṅkīrtana all external results and siddhis will come; the sādhaka must not accept these, for if he does he will be divided. This is a test from Kṛṣṇa to see what the true desire of the sādhaka is.
Nāma-saṅkīrtana means samyak-rūpeṇa-kīrtana. This means kīrtana in its entirety, with nāma, rūpa, guṇa, and līlā; then this is full saṅkīrtana.
saṁsāra bātojāre kāma-phāṅse bāndhi māre
phūkāra karaha haridāsa
karaha bhakata-saṅga prema-kathā-rasa-raṅga
tabe haya vipada vināśa
This material world is a plane of exploitation, where the noose of lust is ready to hang me. Call out to the servants of Hari and remain in the association of the bhaktas, engaging in hearing and discussing the topics of love of God. Then, all dangers will be destroyed.
When one starts the process of harināma-saṅkīrtana, many unfavorable elements may come. Dacoits and demigods alike will try to halt your progress. Many anarthas may become apparent. At this time one should continue to call out for the mercy of the great servants of Śrī Hari. There are three personalities who have been awarded the title Haridāsa. Yudhiṣṭhira, Uddhava, and Girirāja Govardhana have been mentioned as Haridāsa in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. But the most prominent Haridāsa’s are the Vrajavāsīs. In the Caitanya Bhāgavata Vṛndāvan dāsa Ṭhākura writes that all the Vrajavāsīs are servants.
alpa kari nā māniha dāsa hena nāma
alpa bhāgye dāsa nāhi kare bhagavān
Caitanya Bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 17.105
Do not think that servant implies someone who is unimportant. The Lord will not accept anyone as a servant if he has no good fortune.
Chant and remember them and by their influence all thieves and dacoits will run away. They will not disturb or make problems for our bhajana. The nine-fold process of sādhana-bhakti will be simple and easy. To perform navadhā-bhakti-sādhana, one should seek out followers of the mañjarīs. Sajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau saṅgaḥ svato vare—one should associate with devotees who are situated in the same mood, who are soft-hearted and affectionately disposed, and who are more advanced than oneself. This is sādhana-bhakti. I will reside with anyone who is helpful for the growth of my bhakti. Then I will never be in danger. I will remain under their impenetrable protection. All will be cool and favorable. All solutions to problems will automatically come. In their saṅga do constant śravaṇa and kīrtana. If one associates with these types of bhaktas then hari-kathā will always be running. The sādhaka will continually drink this nectar and his soul will become very strong. This is the only food for the soul.
strī-pūtra bālaka kata mari jāra śata śata
āpanāke hao sāvadhāna
mūñi se viṣaye hata nā bhajinū hari-pada
mora āra nāhi paritrāṇa
How many wife, sons, and children have died already? Countless thousands and thousands, therefore be wary! We have been slain by material sense gratification and have not served the lotus feet of Hari, apart from whom we have no deliverance.
Jīvas come to this world and receive a body in one of the eighty-four lakhs species of life. To fulfill their desire God gives the jīva friends, wife, children, parents, servants, and property of this world. Attachment to these objects immediately develops and as a result the jīva separates himself even further from God. These attachments become the most important possession for the baddha-jīva. He wastes all of his time and energy in trying to please these relatives. Because the jīva is too attached to his own enjoyment, he lacks the capacity to engage all his possessions and dependents in the service of God. Our Ācārya-varga sometimes tells a story. Once a person learned the practice of exorcism and was able to summon a ghost.
He told that spirit, “You will be my follower.”
The ghost replied, “Yes, I agree to this on one condition. You must always keep me busy and engaged in some activity. I cannot sit idle for even one second. If you fail to give me constant engagement I will use my powers to kill you.”
So much work was given to this ghost to make sure there was not even a second of inactivity. But this ghost by his powers quickly completed all tasks assigned in a matter of seconds and immediately demanded more work. This man became very disturbed and afraid for his life. Finally after all the tasks he could possibly think of had been completed and nothing else remained he told that ghost, “Arrange a large bamboo pole. Rub oil on it to make it slick and then stick it in the ground. Then your task is to climb up and down this bamboo over and over. In the meantime if I am in need of anything else I will call you.” This man was very clever.
He protected himself in this way. Similarly, according to their desires, God gives the jīvas relatives, children, and subjects. But these relatives become like this ghost, constantly demanding attention and energy. The helpless jīva does not have the power or intelligence to engage these dependents. As long as these relatives are not engaged in the service of God they will always be a disturbance on the path of bhajana for an aspiring sādhaka. If they anyhow become engaged twenty-four hours a day in God’s service, then all will favorable. But if we accept them and try to engage them for our own enjoyment this is a big fault and we will be guilty. The result will be that these family members will arrest and control us, giving constant punishment.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has written, “Artha-lābha ei āśe kapaṭa vaiṣṇava veśe bramiya bhulaya ghare ghare—desiring wealth I took the attire of a Vaiṣṇava, disguised myself, and began moving door to door.” Laya sādhu veśa anya upadeśa. Dressed as a sādhu I wonder around and give others advice. Yet I myself cannot follow anything in my own life. I am thus a great hypocrite. I am dividing my senses and mind from God to satisfy my own selfish purposes and for the happiness of others. I will go to them acting as a teacher, but only with desire for name and fame. The end result of this deceitful practice will be that my love and energy is going to ordinary persons. Eventually that person will become my authority and guardian. He will then give me advice and instructions and by hook and crook he will enjoy me. Prahlāda says that they are dacoits and cheaters. These are not real family members. The attachment for viṣāya-bhoga is a disease for which there is no cure. This poison will affect us life after life, bringing constant lust, darkness, and hellish conditions. Anyone who is not God’s followers, who will not help me in the service of God, they are my so-called family members. I have no affiliation with them. They are of no value to me. They may die one hundred times over and over and I will not have any problem. Those who are mahat, great devotees, can connect me to greatness and are thus my real family members. I pray to God, “May I never forget my true family.”
rāmacandra kavirāja sei saṅge mora kāja
tāṅra sanga vinū saba śunya
haya janma jadi punaḥ tāṅra saṅga haya jena
tabe haya narottama dhanya
My only purpose in life is to have the association of Rāmacandra Kavirāja. Without him, everything is void and empty. If I take birth again, may I be in his association, then Narottama dāsa’s life will be blessed.
Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī prays in his Vilāpa-kusumāñjali:
vairāgya-yug bhakti-rasaṁ prayatnair
apāyayan mām anabhīpsum andham
kṛpāmbudhir yaḥ para-duḥkha-duḥkhī
sanātanaṁ taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi
I was reluctant to drink the ambrosia of bhakti-rasa infused with renunciation, but Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, being an ocean of compassion unable tolerate the sufferings of others, induced me to drink it. Therefore, I take shelter of my śikṣā-guru Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī.
In other words, Dāsa Gosvāmī is saying, “I had no desire to drink this rasa, but Sanātana Gosvāmī again and again carefully gave me this bhakti-rasa.” This is the gift that anurāgī-rāgātmikā-jana bestow. Only from them is it possible to collect this vairāgya-yuga-bhakti-rasa. Anyone who has relation with God is my real friend. If they have no relation with God then I am not related to them. They are not my friend.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is again and again praying for the saṅga of Rāmacandra Kavirāja. He is a disciple of Ācārya Śrīnivāsa, the elder brother of Govinda Dāsa and the son of Cirañjīva Sena, who was Mahāprabhu’s parikāra. Rāmacandra Kavirāja was a distributor of the nāma, rūpa, guṇa, and līlā-mādhurya of Śrī Hari. Without the saṅga of the anurāgī-jana, life is useless. Narottama Ṭhākura is saying, “I am very distant from all the Guru-varga. But Ācārya Śrīnivāsa has kindly sent his disciple Rāmacanrdra Kavirāja. He is constantly helping me on the path of spiritual life. If he is with me then I am never distant from Vṛndāvana or Rādhārānī and Her followers. Rāmacandra Kavirāja is present in the eternal world serving under the guidance of Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, Rūpa, and Rati Mañjarī.” Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is eternally serving there with him and also engaging many others in this vraja-sevā. He is praying again and again for the saṅga of rasika and bhāvuka-bhaktas. Rāmacandra Kavirāja is mahā-premi, bhāvuka, and rasika, thus Narottama Ṭhākura is again and again praying that, “Without his saṅga everything is dry and empty. The Guru-varga has kindly sent him to me, and he has accepted me and taken me with him and assisted me in understanding māna-līlā.”
During the time Lokanātha Gosvāmī was manifesting māna towards Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Rāmacandra Kavirāja helped pacify him and encouraged Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura to continue his service. He gave him more sevā-adhikāra.
This is sajātīyāśaye-snigdhe-sādhu-saṅgaḥ. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is humble—tṛṇād api sunīcena. He is humbly praying that Rāmacandra Kavirāja be sweet and soft to him. I pray for this type of saṅga life after life.
āpana bhajana-kathā nā kahiba jathā tathā
ihāte haiba sāvadhāna
nā kariha keha roṣa nā laiha mora doṣa
praṇāmaha bhaktera caraṇe
Do not speak about your own bhajana, the matters of your heart, simply to anybody here and there.
Be careful in this regard. Do not get angry with me or see my faults and accept offense. I respectfully offer my humble obeisance unto the lotus feet of the bhaktas.
Narottama Ṭhākura is telling his realization from his own bhajana, that during bhajana or sevā, do not discuss or talk with anyone else, otherwise one will be disconnected from this flow. One must remain very serious to truly engage in bhakti. To properly chant mantra and harināma, read śāstra, and perform arcana, or any guru-sevā, it must be one-pointed. At that time do not talk with any other persons or address anyone else. Bhajana is meant only for you and God and the Guru-varga. If I deviate slightly in this practice then to that extent that I am neglecting and disobeying God and Guru, my heart will be divided, and my mantra-devatā will be disturbed. Līlā-śakti will not enter the heart of such a person, or if she was present there before, she will disconnect herself. Therefore do bhajana in a secret hidden place. Meet with a premi-bhakta in private, serve, and speak with him in private. It is not to show all.
When a sādhaka does sādhana it should be secret. If one does not carefully follow this rule and remain serious about their sādhana then it will simply become a show or exercise.
This is not proper. So a sādhaka must be very serious and strict in this regard. As a result of this one-pointed mood others may become disturbed and not approve of this disposition. They may be upset that, “He is not talking with us, he doesn’t love us, he is always hiding and avoiding us.” But this is not a problem. Don’t worry about this. To protect one’s bhakti is more important than pleasing ordinary people. Never compromise bhakti with anything. She is most important and above all else. When the Guru-varga sees this seriousness, they will give more adhikāra. They will see that within the sādhaka’s heart is a secure and protected place and there they will store more and more confidential subject matters. If any ordinary person asks, they will never tell these secrets. Never tell anything for your own name and fame. Never be greedy for material achievements.
The Vraja-devis are always hiding their own glories and svarūpa. Their bhāvas are all hidden. Their love for Kṛṣṇa is secret. They never show anyone. Ṭhākura Mahāśaya continues: “I am a follower of the Vraja-devī’s. In their guidance I am always engaged in confidential sevā. I cannot give time to anyone else. So please forgive me and do not be angry with me. I am again and again praying that no one should see my faults. I am offering my praṇāma to all bhaktas. Please allow me now to be absorbed fully in my service. Before I was not one-pointed and my Guru Mahārāja was very disturbed. Now I have learned the proper method and I will continue to seriously serve under his guidance in Vraja-dhāma. So I pray that no one will become angry if I avoid or rebuke them.” This is called ananyataḥ, or being appointed. Our bhajana is meant for the pleasure of God and Guru.
So called bhajana performed for the purpose of receiving praise from ordinary people, or bhajana done to please one’s self, can never be called real bhajana. Bhajana is very strong, serious, and straight.
śrī-gaurāṅga prabhū more je bolāna vane
tāhā kahi bhāla manda kichūi nā jāni
Whatever Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu has said to me, I have spoken in this book, but really I do not know what is good and what is wrong.
lokanātha prabhupāda hṛdeye vilāsa
prema-bhakti-candrikā kahe narottama dāsa
Keeping the lotus feet of Śrīla Lokanātha Prabhupāda in my heart, I, Narottama dāsa, have explained Śrī Prema-bhakti-candrikā. Here in conclusion Ṭhākura Mahāśaya says, “Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu has given direct inspiration in composing this book. I have no knowledge what is right and wrong. He is the giver of prema-bhakti, it manifests directly from Him.
I have not done anything on my own. My Guru-pāda-padma, Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī, is present in my heart. My heart is his playing center. Sitting there he is decorating my heart to offer to Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārānī. He will request Rūpa and Rati to accept me. He has this power. By his prayers all will accept me. By his karuṇā-śakti I am able to maintain my life. He is my all in all, my life and soul.
.This Prema-bhakti-candrika is a priceless jewel of pure love. I am offering this compilation to my Guru-pāda-padma.
It is by his causeless mercy that this Prema-bhakti-candrika has come in my heart. This rasa-mādhurī is distributed by him, and I am drinking and tasting this nectar. And that which I am tasting, I have described in this book. This is his causeless mercy.
Vaisnava Thakur ki Jaya! Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (excerpted from ” Prema-bhakti-candrika” by Srila Narottama das Thakur, this book is for the serious practitioner and offers the most wonderful insight into perfecting ones bhajan and sadhana and bringing it to the highest levels. Please order this wonderful book from [email protected].) Don’t delay, order today!