Newsletter: Physical Acts Can Manifest Devotion

So did you figure out how physical acts can manifest transcendental devotion? That was my teaser from the last newsletter. Here is the answer in short—no spoilers: Lord Caitanya says that by the mercy of guru and Krishna, one gets the seed of devotion, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija. What is the mercy of guru and Krishna? It is the bhakti in their hearts. Thus from their devotion, devotees receive the seed of devotion, the instructions on how to perform sadhana­, how to chant, how to understand Krishna, and so on. Seeing the effort of the sincere practitioner, by Krishna’s continued blessings the seed of eternal devotion manifests its spiritual nature throughout a devotee’s being. This is the process of spiritualisation, and the best analogy is the placing of an iron rod in the fire: the iron becomes fiery. Similarly, by the unfolding of the creeper of devotion, the activities of devotees, like mopping the temple room floor, become infused with the power of bhakti, and therefore these apparent material activities become devotional. Bhakti causes bhakti. The more assiduous, the more determined, and the more focused a devotee is in devotional acts, the more bhakti manifests its potency. Let us keep in mind that bhakti is not created, but is the eternal spiritual energy of Krishna. 

Thus, for diligent devotees, the increased manifestation of devotion keeps them enlivened and focused on their goal—prema. If devotees are slack, however, bhakti does not empower them and may even withdraw her potency. That causes despondency. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, “Some people lament that they have not attained devotion to Krishna but at the same time they do not make any real attempt to raise themselves to the level of Krishna bhakti. They do not make any attempt to progress. These devotees at the level of vaidhi bhakti make no attempt to progress to bhava bhakti but lament that they have not attained bhava.” Sound familiar? 

One may also ask, “What about someone who does not have the seed of devotion, but still does some service, like mopping the floor?” The answer is that such activity is not bhakti, but will qualify him or her to soon receive the seed of bhakti. In summary, without the grace of Vaisnavas and Krishna, no activity—even chanting Hare Krishna—will produce the desired result. That’s it! 

The purpose of this book Sadhana-sara-dipika is to draw devotees’ attention to the importance of their sadhana and to warn them of mistaking bhakti to be a mechanical activity. I hope this newsletter has been sufficient in raising awareness of that, at least until the book comes to print.