That which cleanses the mirror of the mind,
Which extinguishes the forest fire of the heat worldly life,
Which spreads the radiance of the moonlight of auspiciousness,
Which is the life of the bride of knowledge,
Which expands the ocean of joy,
Which even on the first day of waxing gives nectar of the full moon,
Bathing the souls of all, that Krishna-nama-samkirtana (singing of Divine Names) conquers all with its excellence. 1
You have propagated your many names,
By them you have delegated all your own power,
You have established no time for the remembering of them.
O Bhagavan (The Absolute), such is your mercy.
But such is my misfortune that there has not been born in me any profound attachment to them. 2
More humble than a blade of grass,
As forbearing as a tree,
Having no conceit,
Always respecting others,
One should always praise (sing) the Hari. 3
O Jagadisa (The Lord of Universe),
I do not desire wealth,
or a beautiful women,
nor poetic genius,
But that from birth to birth spontaneous bhakti (loving devotion) be in me towards you. 4
O Krishna, the son of Nanda, be merciful to me, your servant,
Fallen into the sea of this vicious world,
And consider me as the dust on your lotus feet. 5
When, in taking your name,
Will the streams of tears from my eyes wet my cheeks,
And my voice choke,
And my body be thrilled? 6
In viraha (pang of separation) for the Lord of My Senses — Govind
An instant is for me an age,
And my eyes are rainclouds, and the whole world is empty. 7
He may crush my breasts in embracing me, a slave to his feet,
He may destroy my heart by not appearing to me,
He may be a libertine wherever he wants,
But still he is the lord of my heart, and there is no other. 8
Hindu spiritual tradition is unanimous about its goal: the unique, non-dual, absolute reality. Their difference is about the pathway to its realization, which are many. Why many? The understanding is that the emotional psychological make up of the seeker entering the spiritual path determines the nature of path. A Cognitively predominant person moves ahead on the path of knowledge, jnana a conative attitude leads to the path of action, karma and an emotive seeker shall be happy on the path of love and service, bhakti. The Bhagavad Gita convincingly analyses these various paths in detail.
The path of bhakti is based on the metaphysics of reality being related. The absolute is Being, Consciousness and Bliss. Analysing bliss or happiness we find that the relation is the cause of happiness. Relation presupposes two relata and that bond is sustained through service, which should not be out of compulsion, fear or a show off. Only the service out of love can deliver true relation ship delivering happiness. In the spiritual realm the relata are a seeker, the human and a sought, the divine. Relationship is the spiritual experience. What kind?
The clue comes from our own mundane reality. Relation is either professional, or as it is between parents and a child, or between two friends or as it is between husband and wife or just two lovers. The intimacy and immediacy is the key to the intensity of relationships, in which we find a hierarchy — from professional to the love relation.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1533) a great mystic and a philosopher, gives us the discipline and the outline of the mystic experience in these Eight Teachings for the novice on the path of bhakti.
Caitanya (verses 1, 2) was vindicating the traditional view that chanting the divine name is most efficacious in the present age of Kali and tells about the gains.
Bhakti though innate to humanity, needs to be cultivated as a proper spiritual discipline where loss of ego is the gain of love (verse 3, 4).
The seeker though initially desirous of freedom from suffering (verse 5), and when in embrace of love, would not mind any suffering so long as that pleases the beloved Lord (verses 6, 8). In that final union, separation is an unwelcome maya, illusion (verse 7).
The moment of entry into spiritual life depends upon the psychological/spiritual make up of a seeker. Those who are cognitive (jnani) in nature, will follow on the path of knowledge. There the turning point comes when they realize the un-reality of all else except the Brahman, the Absolute indeterminate Being. Some being conatively (where will — samkalpa is predominant) oriented follow the path of action (karma, tapas). There subjective-will takes the proportions of a Cosmic Ego (parama ahanta) and anything objective is void of being-in-itself.
But for a bhakta who travels on the path of feeling realizes that negating the subjective or the objective is not the freedom from suffering and realization of the Real. Instead, the freedom from suffering lies in a ‘bond’ between the finite and the infinite, seeker and sought, human and the divine—two ends of the spiritual experience. The bond or the relation is the key to happiness, whereas separation or the alienation of the two is suffering in both the realms of experience–mundane and spiritual.
For the coming together in the emotive way, the spiritual discipline is elaborate. Faithfully following those injections, the seeker turns more natural and spontaneous in his/her practices of service and love for the human and divine both. The turning point is the journey from ritualistic toaesthetic. This is a journey of the unrelated suffering seeker to a blissfully fulfilling embrace with the infinite. Caitanya leads as a teacher.
[i] Quoted in Caitanya Caritamrta 3.20 by Krsnadasa Kaviraja. English Translation by E C Dimock and T K Stewart. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999, pp. 993-995. Harvard Oriental Series, 56.