|Chapter 3: The Means of Achievement|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 36
avyāvṛtta — uninterrupted; bhajanāt — by worship.
One achieves bhakti by worshiping the Lord ceaselessly.
Nārada has given a negative order — to restrain the mind and senses; he now gives the positive method for engaging the mind and senses in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Śrīla Prabhupāda compared Kṛṣṇa conscious activity to placing an iron rod in fire. As the rod stays steadily within the flames, it becomes hotter and hotter, until eventually it becomes fiery. In the same way, the devotee who steadily engages in Kṛṣṇa consciousness gradually becomes transformed, until eventually he becomes fully Kṛṣṇa conscious. If one is completely absorbed in Kṛṣṇa's service, there is no scope for the activities of māyā.
The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.6) also recommends uninterrupted devotional service:
sa vai puḿsāḿ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
ahaituky apratihatā yayātmā suprasīdati
"The supreme occupation for all humanity is that by which one can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendental Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self."
In this sūtra Nārada uses the word bhajana, which also appears, in a slightly different form, in the Bhagavad-gītā (6.47). In concluding His instructions on aṣṭāńga-yoga in the Sixth Chapter of the Gītā, Lord Kṛṣṇa says that one who serves Him with devotion and faith (śraddhāvān bhajate yo mām) is the highest yogī. Śrīla Prabhupāda explains that the word bhaj means "service":
Service with love and faith is especially meant for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One can avoid worshiping a respectable man or demigod and may be called discourteous, but one cannot avoid serving the Supreme Lord without being thoroughly condemned. [Bg. 6.47, purport]
This passage indicates that bhakti is not a spiritual recreation for a few people but is intended for all, and it cannot be avoided without dire consequences.
Nārada says bhakti is attained by uninterrupted loving service. But does he mean that one must be flawless, that one must never slip? No, Lord Kṛṣṇa allows for mistakes, provided one is determined to serve Him. He says in the Ninth Chapter of the Gītā,
api cet su-durācāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
"Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination" (Bg. 9.30). Śrīla Prabhupāda warns us, however, not to take advantage of this statement and think we can intentionally violate the rules of devotional life and still be a devotee. The blessing from the Lord expressed here is that if we go on serving the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa with determination — especially by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare — then Lord Kṛṣṇa will accept us as His devotee, despite our imperfections.
But exactly what does one do to always keep busy in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and avoid becoming bored or restless? Prahlāda Mahārāja taught a ninefold process of bhakti for maintaining full engagement in the Lord's service: (1) hearing about the Lord, (2) chanting His name and glories, (3) remembering Him, (4) serving His lotus feet, (5) worshiping the Deity, (6) offering prayers to the Lord, (7) becoming His servant, (8) becoming His friend, and (9) offering Him everything. While the first two of these processes are extremely important, any one of them is sufficient for achieving perfection. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes:
The nine different processes enunciated by Prahlāda Mahārāja, who learned them from Nārada Muni, may not all be required for the execution of devotional service; if a devotee performs only one of these nine without deviation, he can attain the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. [Bhāg. 7.5.24, purport]
In early 1968 I wrote a letter to Śrīla Prabhupāda saying that sometimes I couldn't decide which service I should do at a given moment. Should I wash the dishes or chant Hare Kṛṣṇa? Prabhupāda replied:
There isn't any difference between chanting the Holy Name [and] washing the dishes of the Temple. So do not be worried when you are attracted for doing other work in the Temple. There is variegatedness in transcendental activities. Sometimes we like to chant, sometimes we like to wash dishes. There is no difference on the Absolute plane.
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari