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What is shudha-bhakti

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Shri Shri Vinod Bihari Das Babaji Maharaj's Satsang - Shuddha bhakti aur Kashaay

Anything you do with unconditional love for Radha Krishna is called bhakti. But in Shuddha bhakti there doesn't exist any hint of pride or 'I'. A devotee of shuddha bhakti cannot think he is responsible for any deeds occurring through him. He doesn't think his body as 'I', things related to body as his belongings and has no attachment to worldly matters. The 'avidya-jaata ahankar' which means ego originating from ignorance, doesn't exist in the stage of shuddha bhakti.

There are two tendencies of ego: Jad vritti (materialistic) and chita vritti (spiritual). Jad vritti implies that the person thinks his body as himself and the things related to the body as his belongings. Chita vritti implies that the person thinks himself as servant of God and God as his only belonging. This body is not me and the actions of this body is controlled by God. I do not hold responsibility for those actions, whether good or bad. Whatever such a person does is to please God and believes that the result of the actions will be as per the desire of God. So he is content and unaffected by the result of his actions.

Shuddha bhakti is the stage where the Jad vritti of ego becomes extinct and the Chita vritti is full blown. This means till the Jad vritti is even scarcely present, shuddha bhakti cannot be attained. It is the stage of bhakti where the person has no consciousness about his body and the worldly matters, is always immersed in comtemplation of nectarine pastimes of Krishna, fully conscious as a Manjari or whatever form one has in that divine abode of Krishna.

There are four stages of Kashaay (astringent qualities of mind) : Jagrat kashaay, Supta kashaay, Murchhita kashaay and Nirdhuta kashaay. Kashaay means killer. Desires, anger, greed, envy, enmity, etc. are the killers that do not let us proceed in the path of bhakti.

In Bhagvat Gita, Arjuna asks: 
Atha kena prayuktoyam paapam charati poorushah, anicchannapi vaarshneya balaadiva niyojitaha.

He Krishna, you are telling me to surrender myself unto you but an unseen force is compelling me to sin without my desire. Prayuktoyam means compels. Anicchannapi means 'even though I don't want to'. Which force is this? It is this Kashaay.

Kaam esh krodh esh rajoguna samudbhavah, mahashano mahapapma viddhyenamih vairinam.

Krishna says, the desires (kaam) and their resultant anger (krodh) originate from rajoguna which invokes the tendencies of sin, is all-devouring and insatiable.

These are the Kashaay. Jagrat kashaay means Kashaay which is visibly present in a person. When even small attractions deter us from bhakti, slightest criticism causes anger in us, then know that we are in the stage of jagrat kashaay. Our desires attract our minds towards them. When we are unable to satisfy those desires, we get irritated and angry. This anger causes many vaishnav aparadhas and hinders our progress towards shuddha bhakti.

After fighting constantly with one's desires and anger, chanting harinaam and rendering service to vaishnavas, praying whole-heartedly to sri gurudev and Radha Krishna to constrain these desires, a sadhak may land on Supta kashaay stage. Supta means asleep. Here the killers are asleep, so they don't disturb the sadhak. But the association of materialistic people provides the necessary push the killers need to wake up again. It would seem to the sadhak as if now he doesn't have any desire other than returning to the Lord's lotus feet. But as soon as the killers get a little push, in the form of a wrong association or a little aparadh, again the desires spring up, anger, envy and enmity destroy our power to think clearly.

Chanting harinaam and progressing a little ahead comes the stage of Murchhita kashaay. Murchhita means fainted. Now the killers have fainted and require a lot of pushing, slapping, sprinkling of water on their faces, etc. to wake them up. It seems to the sadhak that they are totally bereft of desires and other kashaay but they actually exist inside the sadhak. Guru and vaishnava aparadhas or prolonged association with materialistic people can wake them up. A sadhak has to be very cautious as to not loose his footing in this complicated and narrow path of bhakti.

When the kashaay has reduced to Murchhita kashaay, a sadhak enters the Ruchi and Bhav dasha of bhakti. At this stage, he has not yet reached the shuddha bhakti but he starts realising the signs preceding the stage of shuddha bhakti. He starts being immersed in contemplation of the pastimes all the time. He gets 'Jhanki darshan' which is the sighting of an image like view of a scene of Radha Krishna's divine pastimes very briefly, almost like a flash. This causes a little introduction of 'Prem vikaras', the symptoms of prema bhakti like crying, shaking, hair raising, changing of skin color, etc. Wordly matters seem like poison and this body a burden. It is a very high stage of bhakti. But beware, even at this stage the kashaay can wake up if the sadhak commits guru and vaishnava aparadhas. And falling from this stage is very painful.

But if the sadhak is successful in progressing ahead, he finally reaches the stage of Nirdhuta kashaay. Nirdhuta means bereft. This is the stage of prema bhakti, shuddha bhakti. The killers have abandoned him and he is now free from dangers of entanglement. That is why it is called Nirapad bhoomi. Apad means danger. Nirapad bhoomi means danger less zone. Now the sadhak totally forgets his body, is ever-blissful, enjoying the nectarine pastimes of Radha Krishna. This is the ultimate stage of bhakti a sadhak can reach in this human birth. It is the ultimate purpose of a human birth. It is the peak potentiality defining the superiority of human birth over all other creatures.

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