The Nectar of Devotion is a summary study of Srila Rupa Gosvami's Bhakti- rasamrta-sindhu, or "the nectar that is derived from the ocean of devotion (bhakti)." It fully contains the complete science of bhakti-yoga, or linking with the Supreme by transcendental loving devotion. Bhakti-yoga is the highest path of attaining God consciousness, and it is simultaneously simple and sublime. It is recommended for everyone in this age.
His Divine Grace .A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in this world in 1896 m Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhakti- siddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent religious scholar and the founder of sixty-four Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad he became his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, 5rila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita, assisted the Gaudiya Matha in its work and, in 1944, without assistance, started Back to God- head, an English fortnightly magazine, edited it, typed the manuscripts and checked the galley proofs. He even distributed the individual copies and struggled to maintain the publication. Once begun, the magazine never stopped; it is now being continued by his disciples in the West and is published in over thirty languages.
In just twelve years, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.
The Nectar of Devotion is a summary study of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, which was written in Sanskrit by Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada. He was the chief of the six Gosvamis, who were the direct disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When he first met Lord Caitanya, Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada was engaged as a minister in the Muhammadan government of Bengal. He and his brother Sanatana were then named Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika respectively, and they held responsible posts as ministers of Nawab Hussain Shah. At that time, five hundred years ago, the Hindu society was very rigid, and if a member of the brahmana caste accepted the service of a Muhammadan ruler he was at once rejected from brahmana society. That was the position of the two brothers, Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika. They belonged to the highly situated sarasvata-brahmana community, but they were ostracized due to their acceptance of ministerial posts in the government of Hussain Shah. It is the grace of Lord Caitanya that He accepted these two exalted personalities as His disciples and raised them to the position of gosvamis, the highest position of brahminical culture. Similarly, Lord Caitanya accepted Haridasa Thakura as His disciple, although Haridasa happened to be born of a Muhammadan family, and Lord Caitanya later on made him the acarya of the chanting of the holy name of the Lord: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Lord Caitanya's principle is universal. Anyone who knows the science of Krsna and is engaged in the service of the Lord is accepted as being in a higher position than a person born in the family of a brahmana. That is the original principle accepted by all Vedic literatures, especially by Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. The principle of Lord Caitanya's movement in educating and elevating everyone to the exalted post of a gosvami is taught in The Nectar of Devotion.
Lord Caitanya met the two brothers Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika in a village known as Ramakeli in the district of Maldah, and after that meeting the brothers decided to retire from government service and join Lord Caitanya. Dabira Khasa, who was later to become Rupa Gosvami, retired from his post and collected all the money he had accumulated during his service. It is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta that his accumulated savings in gold coins equaled millions of dollars and filled a large boat. He divided the money in a very exemplary manner, which should be followed by devotees in particular and by humanity in general. Fifty percent of his accumulated wealth was distributed to the Krsna conscious persons, namely the brahmanas and the Vaisnavas; twenty-five percent was distributed to relatives; and twenty-five percent was kept against emergency expenditures and personal difficulties. Later on, when Sakara Mallika also proposed to retire, the Nawab was very much agitated and put him into jail. But Sakara Mallika, who was later to become Srila Sanataria Gosvami, took advantage of his brother's personal money, which had been deposited with a village banker, and escaped from the prison of Hussain Shah. In this way both brothers joined Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Rupa Gosvami first met Lord Caitanya at Prayaga (Allahabad, India), and on the Dasasvamedha bathing ghata of that holy city the Lord instructed him continually for ten days. The Lord particularly instructed Rupa Gosvami on the science of Krsna consciousness. These teachings of Lord Caitanya to Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada are narrated in our book Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
Invoking auspiciousness: Lord Sri Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, the reservoir of all rasas, or relationships, which are called neutrality (passive adoration), servitorship, friendship, parenthood, conjugal love, comedy, compassion, fear, chivalry, ghastliness, wonder and devastation. He is the supreme attractive form, and by His universal and transcendental attractive features He has captivated all the gopis, headed by Taraka, Palika, Syama, Lalita, and ultimately Srimati Radharani, Let His Lordship's grace be on us so that there may not be any hindrance in the execution of this duty of writing The Nectar of Devotion, impelled by His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhakti- siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada.
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada and of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, by whose inspiration I have been engaged in the matter of compiling this summary study of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. This is the sublime science of devotional service as propounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared five hundred years ago in West Bengal, India, to propagate the movement of Krsna consciousness.
Srila Rupa Gosvami begins his great book by offering his respectful obeisances unto Sri Sanatana Gosvami, who is his elder brother and spiritual master, and he prays that Bhaki-rasamrta-sindhu may be very pleasing to him. He further prays that by residing in that ocean of nectar, Sri Sanatana Gosvami may always feel transcendental pleasure in the service of Radha and Krsna.
Let us offer our respectful obeisances to all the great devotees and acaryas (holy teachers), who are compared to sharks in the great ocean of nectar and who do not care for the various rivers of liberation. Impersonalists are very fond of merging into the Supreme, like rivers that come down and merge into the ocean. The ocean can be compared to liberation, and the rivers to all the different paths of liberation. The impersonalists are dwelling in the river water, which eventually comes to mix with the ocean. They have no information, however, that within the ocean, as within the river, there are innumerable aquatic living entities. The sharks who dwell in the ocean do not care for the rivers which are gliding down into it. The devotees eternally live in the ocean of devotional service, and they do not care for the rivers. In other words, those who are pure devotees always remain in the ocean of transcendental loving. service to the Lord and have no business with the other processes, which are compared to the rivers that only gradually come to the ocean. Srila Rupa Gosvami prays to his spiritual master, Srila Sanataria Gosvami, for the protection of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-"The Ocean of the Pure Nectar of Devotional Service" -from the argumentative logicians who unnecessarily meddle in the science of service to the Lord. He compares their arguments and logic to volcanic eruptions in the midst of the ocean. In the midst of the ocean, volcanic eruptions can do very little harm, and similarly, those who are against devotional service to the Lord and who put forward many philosophical theses about the ultimate transcendental realization cannot disturb this great ocean of devotional service.
The author of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, very humbly submits that he just trying to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acaryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu is divided into four parts, just as the ocean is sometimes divided into four parts, and there are different sections within each of these four divisions. Originally, in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, the ocean is divided like the watery ocean into east, south, west and north, while the subsections within these different divisions are called waves. As in the ocean there are always different waves, either on the eastern side, the southern side, the western side or the northern side, Bhakti- rasamrta-sindhu similarly has different waves. In the first part there are four waves, the first being a general description of devotional service. The second concerns the regulative principles for executing devotional service, and the third wave, devotional service in ecstasy. In the fourth is the ultimate goal, love of God. These will be explicitly described along with their different symptoms.
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