The Shastric process is the lowest stage of Devotional Service: We have to rise above it

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

You cannot enjoy with covered senses. Suppose I cover your tongue with some cloth and then I give you one rasagulla (a rich Bengali sweet). Can you taste it? If you cover the the real senses, and try to enjoy with that covering, what will you enjoy? That is not enjoyment. The tongue has to be uncovered. Then you’ll enjoy. That is indicated: sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. These upādhis (designations) … Because I am in bodily concept of life, therefore I am thinking, “I am American,” “I am Indian,” “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim,” “I am black,” “I am white,” “I am man,” “I am woman,” “I am tree,” “I am this,” “I am that.” This is called covering. How can you enjoy with these covered senses?

Raganuga Bhakti.jpg

So you have to uncover. You have to discover. That discovering process is devotional service. The more you are engaged in devotional service, the more your senses become pure or uncovered and when it is completely uncovered, without any designation, then you are capable to serve Krishna.

This is apprenticeship, or vaidhī-bhakti. Real bhakti, parā-bhakti, is rāgānugā-bhakti, or sponaneous loving devotion. This rāgānugā-bhakti is reached after surpassing the vaidhī-bhakti. In the material world, if we do not try to make further and further progress in devotional service, if we simply stick to the shastric regulation process and do not try to go beyond that… Shastric process, or regulation, that is required. Without shastric process you cannot go to that platform. But if we stick to the shastric process only and do not try to improve ourselves… The shastric process is kanistha-adhikāra, the lowest stage of devotional service.

arcāyām eva haraye

pūjām yah śraddhayehate

na tad-bhaktesu cānyesu

sa bhaktah prākrtah smrtah

[SB 11.2.47]

Generally, when people come to this temple, they are very devoted to the Deity. They offer their respects, flowers and other things, make the regulative process, circumambulate. This is nice beginning, but one has to go above this – one has to know who is actually a bhakta (devotee). Na tad-bhaktesu cānyesu: one who simply engages in temple worship but does not see to the interests of the mass of people or cannot recognize devotees is called a kanistha-adhikāri. One has to do good for others. That is madhyama-adhikārī (intermediate devotee). If I become satisfied only with these regulative principles for worshiping the Deity in the temple and following the regulative principles daily, but if I have no other idea, then sa bhaktah prākrtah smrtah: such a devotee is on the material platform. Prākrta means on the material platform. Such devotee can fall down at any moment, because he’s on the prākrta stage. And prākrta means this gunamayī. Prakrti – it is very strong.

So any devotee can fall down if he remains a prākrta-bhakta. So he has to raise himself above to the madhyama-adhikāra (intermediate) stage. So here it is said that sva-nirmitesu nirvisto bhunkte bhūtesu tad-gunān. So we are not enjoying actually. We are enjoying the interaction of the three modes of material nature. And we are thinking… The same thing, as my Guru Mahārāja used to say, that licking up the bottle of honey. That is not real honey. You have to open the bottle of the honey and lick up the real honey, then you’ll get taste. That is advancement of spiritual knowledge.

satām prasangān mama vīrya-samvido

bhavanti hrt-karna-rasāyanāh kathāh…

[SB 3.25.25]

Therefore, if we do not associate with the advanced devotees, uttama-adhikārī, if we simply want to remain in the lowest stage of devotional service, then we are not making progress. Then we shall simply enjoy the material field, without entering into the spiritual platform.

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.33 in Vrindavan on Nov 12, 1972]

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