Param Gurudeva’s Harikatha (Adapted from Sri Gaudiya Patrika Year 1, Issue 3, 1949)
1. Srila Rupa Gosvami has revealed the symptoms of pure bhakti.
2. Pure bhakti is the continuous, unbroken cultivation of all activities exclusively for the benefit of Krishna [primary symptom], which are completely free from all other desires, and which is not covered by karma (fruitive activities), jnana (knowledge to get liberation), and other things. [secondary symptom].
3. The expression of bhakti is accomplished both through active efforts and emotional states of being (bhava).
4. Engaging in the nine limbs of bhakti through one’s body, mind and words is active engagement. Abstaining from offending Krishna’s holy name or the process of serving Krishna is active disengagement.
5. If someone aspires to perform bhakti, then his sole ambition should be to please and satisfy Krishna and he must completely expel even the slightest trace of hostility from his heart.
Example: When Krishna received repeated blows from Canura and Mustika (wrestlers), He experienced the happiness that arises from heroism. Should one then deem these two to be bhaktas? Since their endeavours were meant for Krishna’s undoing, and not at all for His enjoyment, they are not bhaktas.
Example: Once when Mother Yasoda was breastfeeding baby Krishna, the milk she had been heating began to boil over. At once, she removed Krishna from her lap, much to His displeasure, and ran to save the milk. Should one then deem her to be abhakta? In this pastime, she had thought to herself, “My breast milk alone will not fully nurture Krishna, Even if I displease Krishna for the time being, I must save this milk for Him.” Thus, Her action is bhakti.
6. Similarly, while serving sri guru we should think, “Gurudeva will be pleased by accepting my service and pleasing him gives me life.” Serving sri guru with many other motives and not exclusively with the hope of pleasing him will not be helpul for us.
7. While the prayers of some devotees may at times appear to be motivated by some desire (anyabhilasa) other than Krishna’s happiness, they are still not prone to foster these ‘other desires’ (anyabhilasita).
Example: Yudhisthira Maharaja’s motivation to become the emperor was simply to have the necessary opulence to serve Krishna in a way befitting the Lord’s position, not by a desire to achieve personal greatness.
Example: If a pure devotee is faced with some imminent disaster, he may pray to Krishna to save him. Although his prayer may appear to be other desire (anyabhilasa), it will not hinder his bhakti.
8. Here, jnana refers to the search for the impersonal brahma; karma refers to daily rituals (nitya-karma), and rituals meant for specific occasions (naimittika-karma), as outlined in the smrti-sastras; and adi (literally “and so on”) refers to futile renunciation, mystic yoga (astanga-yoga), and so forth.
9. Certain forms of jnana and karma are integral parts of bhakti. Pure jnana is present within bhakti as the search for one’s worshipful deity and as knowledge of the reality of God, bhagavat-tattva-jnana. Pure karma is present within bhakti as serving the Supreme Lord by cleaning His temple, cooking for Him and so on. These activities are included among the nine limbs of bhakti.
10. It is only possible for the vraja-gopis who are in madhura-rasa to serve Krishna with all of their senses. This is the highest form of bhakti.