The word rahasyam in this verse has been explained by the acaryas in several ways. Sridhar Svami states that it means bhakti. Jiva Gosvami argues that rahasyam refers to prema-bhakti. The latter explains that after being completely freed from aparadhas, the sadhaka can realize the Supreme Personality of God. Rahasya (prema-bhakti) manifests itself at that moment. Krishna, in the Catuh-sloki, states that pure devotees totally dependent on Him realize the object of eternal happiness (rahasya), known as prema. Furthermore, rahasya is so rare that it is covered with anarthas such as offenses. Ordinary people, therefore, are unable to realize the subject precisely known as rahasya.
Visvanatha Cakravarti also states that rahasya refers to prema-bhakti, which reveals itself to those perfect devotees having the right qualities to realize it. This is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.11.49):
athaitat paramam guhyam
su-gopyam api vaksyami
tvam me bhrtyah suhrt sakha
“My dear Uddhava, O beloved of the Yadu dynasty, since you are My servant, benefactor and friend, I will now reveal to you the most confidential knowledge. Please listen as I reveal these great mysteries to you.”
Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati explains rahasya in the Caitanya- candramrta (59):
kincid rahasya-pada-lobhita-dhir aham tu
caitanyacandra-caranam saranam karomi
“As for me, my mind is burning with the desire to obtain the great secret of Krishna’s pure love. For this reason, I take refuge in the lotus feet of Sri Caitanyacandra.”
Bhaktivinode Thakura, in Bhajana-rahasya, systematically exposes the different stages of devotion, starting from sraddha up to prema. He bases this elaboration on the Siksastaka, supporting his comments with references taken from the Bhagavatam and the works of the Goswamis.
He has divided this book into eight sadhanas, or practices, corresponding to the eight parts of the day. These eight parts taken together are known as asta-kala, or asta-yama, terms explained by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in the preface.
Bhaktivinode Thakura, in the first sadhana entitled Sraddha, quotes the first verse of the Siksastaka and glorifies the chanting of the holy names with various references from the scriptures.
The importance of sadhu-sanga is dealt with in the second sadhana. Whoever chants the holy name in association with devotees becomes attentive. Sri Caitanya states, in the second verse of the Siksastaka, that although the holy name possesses all potencies, due to durdaiva (in the case of namaparadha) it is not possible to obtain the fruit of prema by chanting.
The third sadhana describes the procedure and the qualities necessary to chant the holy name by referring to the third verse of the Siksastaka. A sadhaka who gradually develops the qualities necessary for chanting, gains faith in the practices of devotion.
The fourth sadhana explains that the pure devotee has no desires other than pure devotional service. He therefore serves Krishna sincerely and simultaneously achieves detachment from bhukti and mukti. Then he develops all the favorable qualities, and his false ego is completely destroyed. At this level he acquires a taste (ruci) for the practices of devotion.
It is written in the fifth sadhana that after reaching the level of attachment (asakti), a sadhaka becomes aware of his eternal form as a servant of Krishna, as described in the fifth verse of the Siksastaka. Devotees who practice raganuga-bhakti take refuge at Srimati Radharani’s lotus feet and pray to Her to become His servants.
The sixth sadhana describes the external symptoms of perfection as set forth in the sixth verse of the Siksastaka. The symptoms of sthayi bhava, or rati, are also described here, and how a sadhaka practicing raganuga-bhakti serves Krishna externally in his sadhaka form and internally in his spiritual form. Thus, after obtaining bhava, he can taste Krishna’s sweetness by following the feeling of the gopis.
The seventh sadhana describes the internal symptoms of perfection, within which the devotee enjoys the service in separation as explained in the seventh verse of the Siksastaka.
The meditation of the perfect devotee is expounded in the eighth sadhana following the sense of the eighth verse of the Siksastaka.
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura thus shows in a scientific way the various levels, from sraddha to prema. Only at the level of asakti is the sadhaka free from anarthas and can meditate on his eternal form. If with his anarthas he tries to imitate the behavior of advanced devotees, the sadhaka becomes confused before he has reached this stage.
adhikara na labhiya siddhadeha bhave
viparyaya buddhi janme saktira abhave
“If one thinks of one’s siddha-deha without having achieved adhikara, the intelligence will be confused.”
Srila Prabhupada also gives the following advice in his commentary to Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 11.195,
“There is a reference here for those who are very anxious to imitate Thakura Haridasa’s behavior in an artificial way. Before adopting this way of life, one must have received the order from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu or His representative. The duty of a pure devotee or servant of the Lord is to carry out the Lord’s instructions. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu to go to Bengal to preach to the Goswamis, and asked Rupa and Sanatana to go to Vrndavana and unearth the lost pilgrimage sites. The Lord, in this case, asks Haridasa Thakura to stay in Jagannatha Puri and constantly chant the holy names of the Lord. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave different people different instructions that one should not try to imitate Haridasa Thakura’s behavior without having received the order from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu or His representative.”
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura thus condemns such simulations:
dusta mana! tumi kisera vaisnava?
pratisthara tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava hari-nama kevala kaitava
“My dear mind, you are trying to imitate Haridasa Thakura by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra in a lonely place, but you are not worthy of the title of Vaisnava, as what you want is cheap popularity, not the true qualities of Haridasa Thakura. If you try to imitate him you will fall, because your condition as a neophyte will make you think about women and money. You will then fall into the clutches of maya and your so-called song in a lonely place will be the cause of your fall.”
It is therefore hoped that this book will help and inspire devotees to follow the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His representative, the spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada in his commentary on Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 6,241, referring to this, writes:
When Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya asked the Lord what the most important thing was, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu immediately replied that the most important activity is chanting the holy names of the Lord:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama,
Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Translation by Yamuna Devi Dasi
This is a section of the book “Bhajana Rahasya”, by Bhaktivinode Thakura.
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