December was a slow month for writing for two main reasons: the Prabhupada marathon, and the research and classification portion of the third and essential part of Sadhana-sara-dipika. I won’t elaborate on the former but will on the latter. In the school of hard knocks I learned that the train of thought in a book must be clearly formulated in a step-by-step progression, through the paragraphs and chapters. One can’t just sit down and write, be the subject poetic, like Nava-vraja-mahima, or philosophical, like this book. If an author does so, both he and his message quickly get lost in the unsystematic composition. In this instance—the third portion of Sadhana-sara-dipika—research meant that I had to scan the Brhad-bhagavatamrta,smaller works like Madhurya-kadambini, and the Bhaktivedanta Folio. From these sources I collected relevant passages that totalled seventy pages. Because most of these extracts are descriptive, I then summarised their essence into phrases and sentences. That was followed by a lengthy and exacting process of classifying summaries according to themes, sub-themes, and further subdivisions where necessary.
The result is a codified version of the points to be written, which is then classified according to a proper sequence representing the progression of devotion to be offered to the reader. It is a challenge to stay on track and not digress into some details of devotion which, while very wonderful, are not always relevant to the topics at hand. Although this kind of correlation appears to be a mechanical exercise, it is the unfolding of the truths of bhakti. Because of the confidential nature of devotional service, scriptures do not always present these truths chronologically or systematically. Rather they are scattered throughout texts, challenging students to show their sincerity and determination by making the effort to collect these spiritual jewels. Authors can astutely string these truths in sequential order upon the thread of literary presentation and thus present a necklace of bhakti-tattva for their readers to wear. If that necklace actually represents the ornaments of Vraja, then both author and reader are enriched in their devotion and are empowered to chant the names of Radha and Krsna in ever-increasing ecstasy. Hare Krsna.
If it appears that I got a little off the track in this newsletter, then that’s because I didn’t start with a sequence summary but wrote from the heart. Naughty me.