In this purport, Srila Prabhupada described the Bhakti-sandarbha in these words: The fifth Sandarbha is called Bhakti-sandarbha, and in this book there is a discussion of how devotional service can be directly executed, and how such service can be adjusted, either directly indirectly.
In the course of this discussion it is emphatically and repeatedly explained that devotional service to the Lord must be executed under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. The qualifications of such a spiritual master are discussed at great length and indeed, association with such an advance devotee is explained as the actual cause of engagement in devotional service.
This third volume begins with a discussion of how association with devotee is the best means for advancement in spiritual life. Although other practices are prescribed for making advancement on the path back home, back to Godhead, the association of devotees is described as the best means for quickly attaining the mercy of the lord. The mercy of the lord is easily attained when one develops love for him, and such love is quickly aroused in the association of devotees. Although the lord is fully independent, He comes under the control of a devotee who has unalloyed love for him.
From his childhood Jiva Gosvami was greatly fond of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He later came to Navadvipa to study Sanskrit, and, following in the footsteps of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, he circumambulated the entire Navadvipa-dhama. After visiting Navadvipa-dhama he went to Benares to study Sanskrit under Madhusudana Vacaspati, and after finishing his studies in Benares he went to Vrndavana and took shelter of his uncles, Sri Rupa and Sanatana.
In a purport of the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada talks about Srila Jiva Gosvami and his literature: "In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (195) it is said that Srila Jiva Gosvami was formerly Vilasa-manjari gopi. From his very childhood Jiva Gosvami was greatly fond of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He later came to Navadvipa to study Sanskrit, and, following in the footsteps of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, he circumambulated the entire Navadvipa-dhama. After visiting Navadvipa-dhama he went to Benares to study Sanskrit under Madhusudana Vacaspati, and after finishing his studies in Benares he went to Vrndavana and took shelter of his uncles, Sri Rupa and Sanatana. This is described in the Bhakti-ratnakara.
"As far as our information goes, Srila Jiva Gosvami composed and edited at least twenty-five books. They are all very much celebrated and they are listed as follows: (1) Hari-namamrta-vyakarana, (2) Sutra-malika, (3) Dhatu-sangraha, (4) Krsnarca-dipika, (5) Gopala-virudavali, (6) Rasamrta-sesa, (7) Sri Madhava-mahotsava, (8) Sri Sankalpa-kalpavrksa, (9) Bhavartha-sucaka-campu, (10) Gopala-tapani-tika, (11) a commentary on the Brahma-samhita, (12) a commentary on the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, (13) a commentary on the Ujjvala-nilamani, (14) a commentary on the Yogasara-stava, (15) a commentary on the Gayatri-mantra, as described in the Agni Purana, (16) a description of the Lords lotus feet derived from the Padma Purana, (17) a description of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharni (18) Gopala-campu (in two parts) and (19-25) seven sandarbhas: the Krama-, Tattva-, Bhagavat-, Paramatma-, Krsna-, Bhakti- and Priti-sandarbha.
"After the disappearance of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami in Vrndanana, Srila Jiva Gosvami became the acarya of all the Vaisnavas in Bengal, Orissa and the rest of the world, and it is he who used to guide them in their devotional service. In Vrndavana he established the Radha-Damodara temple.
"When Jiva Gosvami was still present, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami compiled his famous Caitanya-caritamrta. Later, Srila Jiva Gosvami inspired Srinivasa Acarya, Narottama dasa Thakura and Duhkhi Krsnadas to preach Krsna consciousness in Bengal. Jiva Gosvami was informed that all the manuscripts that had been collected from Vrndanava and sent to Bengal for preaching purposes were plundered near Visnupura, in Bengal, but later he received the information that the book had been recovered.
"Sri Jiva Gosvami awarded the designation Kaviraja to Ramacandra Sena, a disciple of Srinivasa Acarya's and to Ramacandra's younger brother Govinda. While Jiva Gosvami was alive, Srimati Jahnava-devi, the peasure potency of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, went to Vrndavana with a few devotes. Jiva Gosvami was very kind to the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Whoever went to Vrndavana he provided with a residence and prasadam."
In the Caitanay-caritamrta Madhya-lila (1.42-43) it is written: "Sri Rupa Gosvami's nephew, Srila Jiva Gosvami, has compiled so many books on devotional service that there is no counting so many books on devotional service that there is no counting them. In Sri Bhagavata-sandarbha, Srila Jiva Gosvami has written conclusively about the ultimate end to devotional service.
"In this purport, Srila Prabhupada described the Bhakti-sandarbha in these words: The fifth Sandarbha is called Bhakti-sandarbha in these words: The fifth Sandarbha is called Bhakti-sandarbha, and in this book there is a discussion of how devotional service can be directly executed, and how such service can be adjusted, either directly or indirectly. There is a discussion of the knowledge of all kinds of scripture, the establishment of the Vedic institution of Varnasrama, bhakti as superior to fruitive activity, and so forth. It is also stated that without devotional service even a brahmana is condemned. There are discussions of the process of karma-tyaga (the giving of the results of karma to the supreme personality of Godhead), and the practices of mystic yoga and philosophical speculation, which are deprecated as simply hard labor.
"Worship of the demigods is discouraged, and worship of a Vaisnava is considered exalted. No respect is given to the non devotees. There are discussions of how one can be liberated even in this life (jivan-mukta), Lord Siva as a devotee, and how a bhakta and his devotional service eternally exist. It is stated that through bhakti one can attain all success because bhakti is transcendental to the material qualities. There is a discussion of how the self is manifest through bhakti. There is also a discussion of the self's bliss, as well as how bhakti, even imperfectly executed, enables one to attain the lotus feet of the Supreme personality of Godhead.
"Unmotivated devotional service is highly praised, and an explanation is given of how each devotee can achieve the platform of unmotivated service by association with other devotees. There is a discussion of the differences between the maha-bhagavata and the ordinary devotee, the symptoms of philosophical speculation, the symptoms of self-worship, or ahangrahopasana, the symptoms of devotional service, the symptoms of imaginary perfection, the acceptance of regulative principles of hearing, chanting, remembering and serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offenses is worship, offensive effects, prayers, engaging oneself as an eternal servant of the lord, making friendships with the lord and surrendering everything for his pleasure. There is also a discussion of raganuga-bhakti (spontaneous love of Godhead), of the specific purpose of becoming a devotee of Lord Krsna, and a comparative study of other perfectional stages."
This third volume begins with a discussion of how association with devotees is the best means for advancement is spiritual life. Although other practices are prescribed for making advancement on the path back home, back to Godhead, the association of devotees is described as the best means for quickly attaining the mercy of the lord. The mercy of the lord is easily attained when one develops love for him, and such love is quickly aroused in the association of devotees. Although the lord is fully independent, he comes under the control of a devotee who has unalloyed love for him.
Love for the supreme personality of Godhead cannot be attained by mere cultivation of knowledge, performing austerities, giving charity and performing other pious acts, or practicing the eightfold yoga system. Only by devotional service can love for the lord by awakened and that devotional service is attained by the association of the lord's devotees. Indeed, worship of the lord's devotees is declared by the lord himself to be superior to worship of the lord.
Next, the author describes the glories of the devotees, pointing out that a devotee of the lord is in a transcendental position, beyond the three modes of material nature. Therefore, a devotee should never be considered as low-born or possessing bodily defects. Even if a devotee fails to perform his mundane duties properly, or even if he is sometimes found to be acting in an abominable manner, he should still be considered saintly because he is situated in devotional service.
In Bhakti-sandarbha, it is conclusively shown that devotional service to the lord is life's ultimate goal and that there is no activity or path superior to or equal to devotional service. Devotional service is divided into nine categories, beginning with hearing next, form, qualities and pastimes of the supreme personality of godhead. Who should one hear from? One should always hear about the lord from the lips of a pure devotee.
Chanting of the holy names of the lord are then discussed, and in the course of this discussion, the ten offenses to chanting the holy names are explained tin detail. Many quotes from a variety of Vedic literatures are presented to confirm the fact that in this age of kali, the chanting of the holy names of the lord is the only means for attaining success in devotional service. Indeed, whatever could be attained by meditation, performance of sacrifices and worship of the Deity in the temple in other ages can be easily attained in the age of Kali simply by chanting the holy names of the lord.
The other activities of devotional service are then discussed and the great merit of residing in a holy abode of the lord, especially Mathura, is highlighted. Next, worship of the deity is discussed at great length and it is explained that for those who are still materially infected, worship of the deity is most essential for purification. In the course of this discussion, the observance of Ekadasi is talked about in great detail.
Thereafter, offering obeisance's to the lord, acting as the lord's servant, making friendship with the lord, and full self-surrender are discussed, one after another. Raganuga-bhakti, devotional service spontaneously performed with great attachment to the lord, is the final subject of this book. Raganuga-bhakti is discussed at great length and it is explained that if one is spontaneously attracted to the lord even out of lust, anger, hatred or fear, he will attain the supreme destination.
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