Home > Spiritual discourses > A glimpse into the Art of Sadhana

Let me first offer my heartfelt obeisances to all the devotees involved in producing this wonderful book.

granthera arambh e kari mangalacarana,
guru, vaishnava, bhagavan,—tin era smarana,
tinera smarane haya vighna-vinasana,
anayase jaha nija vanchita-purana  

"I meditate on the Guru, the Vaishnavas and the Lord, by remembering them all obstacles are destroyed and one quickly attains the fulfillment of all desires" CC-Adi Chapter 1, Text 20

We have been waiting for this book (The Art of Sadhana by Srila B.P. Puri Maharaja) for a long time. Actually the author, Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja wrote inuberable pages, articles over the eighty seven years of being editor of different spiritual magazines and newspapers. The amount of his writings in this perios is very difficult to even calculate, you can imagine. He was a trusted devotee of his Gurudeva and was put always in charge of the different publication departments. As such he was also the editor of the Nadiya Prakash, the daily newspaper, and he wrote so many articles for the Gaudiya and edited many books. His scholarship combined with his devotion, combined with his humility, was the most incredible demonstration of love to the service of Sri Guru. Therefore, since the great majority of his writings were done in Bengali, it took some time for his young disciples to become qualified and to have his writings translated into English, specifically making it a very nice quality standard. Now, this Art of Sadhana had been anounced since Srila Puri Maharaja is very keen that the devotees live their spiritual life properly. So specifically in the days where it is highly in vogue to attempt to jump to the raganuga platform, and all of a sudden devotees who have not even been very keen on practicing anything for a substantial period, all of a sudden proclaim statements such as "Now we have to practice raganuga because we never did that before, because Srila Prabhupada didnt show this to us" or declarations of that type.

Srila Puri Maharaja was very keen to show what is sadhana-bhakti really. This book is in one way the answer to this jumping into spontaneous self-delusion. Why do I say self-delusion ? Because spontaneouty is really something which is yours, which grows from you, there is nothing wrong about it, on the contrary, all glories and victory against maya when the spontaneous devotional service is arising in the devotee—Meaning, he is really 24 hours concerned that what he is doing is service, that he is really always happy to make others happy, etc. Unless one has come to that platform to get into this level of raganuga competition, I just had an experience of that, I wont mention any names, but today I met a person who for years had come to the temple in Vrinda-kunja and had been pushing us: "You must join Narayan Maharaja, only he can give you rasika bhava mood", Now this is not any critic of Srila Narayan Maharaja and his preaching, it is a critique of that person and how he presented it. And I said: "Why do you bother me ? leave me alone doing my devotional service to my spiritual master" But the person was so overzealous, and today the person came back to me and said: "No, I gave up Narayan Maharaja, now I went to Radha-kunda and got siddha-pranali there, oh it is so nice, now I am trying to connect all of them". So, in this self-delusion where one thinks himself to be very advanced and thinks that he can simply intelectually understand these things, neglecting the very basics of spiritual life, like for example hard work under the guidance of Sri Guru, that you could call the basic of spiritual life, I repeat it: Hard work under the guidance of Sri Guru, that is a basic thing. If you ever want to talk about ragatmika devotees, then you can make sure that they are beyond that, means they already and still are hardworking under the guidance of Sri Guru. Not that in order to become a ragatmika, or a raganuga-bhakta, we give up the hard work under the guidance of Sri Guru. Whoever comes up with that idea, he is not very bright. Often these types of persons take advantage of the departure of an acharya in order to push that line. We should be very cautious about that because unfortunately this is very often used as an recruiting technique, talking to somebody: "You got to come here because here we have something your Guru does not have". Now that is being dealt with by Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja in the very most important explanation of the guru-tattva, in the Search for the Ultimate Goal of Life by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and of course Sri Guru and His Grace by Srila B.R. Sridhar-Dev Goswami Maharaja. Really what comes down to is, it is totally according to your surrender.

ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante
manusyah partha sarvasah

"As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha."

What comes down to you is according to your surrender. If something wonderful will descend upon you, it will be because you are surrendering to Krishna, you are bringing Krishna so close to you because you are thirsting so much for Him. Now lets talk about the basics of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Sridhar Maharaja, Srila Puri Maharaja, what is the basics of them ? The basics are all the same: Chant Hare Krishna, follow principles, lead a pure life, don't give unnecessary pain to others, always try to think of Krishna and never forget Krishna, read the scriptures given by your spiritual masters, chant the Holy Name from the core of your heart, chant it really and never offend other Vaishnavas—this is the root. If we want to build up on top of that then undoubtedly there are unlimited spheres coming towards us, but those spheres come when we are maintaining our stable service and our stable development and go further. Therefore raganuga-bhakti, when that comes into the life of a devotee, it will be something like an inner happy surprise and not something which will make him publish a newspaper or hang a sign on a street: "I just switched from vaidhi-bhakti to raganuga-bhakti, please publish in the paper", thats not the process. As you progress, as you take up spiritual life more and more serious, you will definetely be able to embrace the wonderful guidance of higher spiritual revelations. Because Lord Krishna is very eager to guide us and to reveal further truth to us along the path. If anything is required for us, if anything is required on our spiritual path, do not think please that Krishna is stinchy, that he will withhold that from you, just because you maybe simpleminded or being under the guidance of a particular devotee. Like when you come to Vrindavan it is a little bit confusing because there are some 30, 40 different Vaishnava schools here, and each one of them says: "Yes, we have this special thing", and the other one will say: "and we have this special thing" and one may think: "Oh my God, am I getting the most special thing or am I not getting it ?" and one may get even worried about it. Ok, thats about a person (who may think like that) in Vrindavan, but what about a person in Lapatagonya or in Tukuman (South America), what happens to them ? If they have any association with any Vaishnava which came to them in their life, that would be a magic in it'self. So are they deprived of anything just because it may be a different school, or only because they dress a little different, or because they may not shave up like the group of Siddhaswarupananda Paramahansa is doing. So what does it really matter ? Does that deprive a devotee from something ? No. Krishna says, "ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajamy aham". And the Holy Name of Krishna is coming to guide us and to protect us, otherwise we will always be in anxiety, and we are supposed to go to Vaikuntha, the land of no anxiety (laugher). Of course, maybe due to some special circumstances we may be alerted about something, our temple president may not behave properly and we may have to search help from a sannyasi to find out. Anything may happen, even our Guru may have some trouble as we have seen in the past. If such a thing happens, of course we will search out guidance of other Vaishnavas. But in general we should not forget: brahmanda brahmite kono bhagyavan jiva, guru krsna krpa paya bhakti lata bija—if you are desperate in your heart and you want to find the truth, then the Supreme Lord, feeling pity upon you, will guide you to the lotus feet of your spiritual father. And that spiritual father will be understood by Krishna giving you that inspiration and then with the help of Krishna in your heart and the spiritual master you will reach the lotus feet of Krishna.
So the Art of Sadhana is a book which has many different subjects, but they all circulate about the foundation of Krishna-consciousness. First let us go through the table of contents:

The perfection of worship, how to worship, how to worship the deity, how to worship the Vaishnava, how to deal with the transcendental items and the transcendental connections. The second chapter: The purifying power of service—When we do devotional service, what that will do to us, then The beginnings of service. Next chapter: Serve the Lords devotees—do not think like a kanishta adhikari: "I go to the temple, bring a few flowers there and I become a great devotee", Serve the Lords devotees, don't jump over the devotees, that will never be helpful, Avoiding bad association—Again and again every acharya has spoken about that. Srila Rupa Goswami in his fundamental rules in the Upadeshamrita, he repeats it twice. First he says in the second verse: "Avoid association of worldy-minded people" and he repeats it in the third verse "Abandon the association of nondevotees". Any association with anybody who is not a devotee will not be good, and specifically not with those who are hypocrites, those who say something and then they do something opposite. That does not apply to those who make a mistake and rectify it. But those who incoorperate hypocritical activities in their lifestyle and they cover them up, they hide them, they should be rejected because they cannot help you. Then, Taking shelter of Krishna—this is so important, and this is the meaning of sadhana, taking shelter of Krishna, then, Guru and initiation—here we dive again into guru-tattva, very important and clear, then, The duties of an initiated disciple, Initiation should not been taken cheaply, The duty of an initiated disciple, what does that mean ? Did you take initiation just to become member of a club ? Or is it something which is supposed to transform your life ? Then we go to The second initiation, Diksha mantra and the Holy Name—what is the relationship of them, the next one is: Expertise in Bhajan—Bhajan means everything in devotional life, means expertise in doing everything, not just being a devotee so-so, mediocre. To be a devotee who is very, very much expert in his bhajan, this is our secret goal. Then he goes to the most important study: Listening to the Bhagavatam—which is our most important book to understand what Srila Vyasadeva wanted to give to us. And then he is coming to a very difficult subject, we all know to have trouble with it, it is called: Controlling the mind—controlling the mind is a very difficult job, we all know that. it's not an easy thing to control ones mind, but if we do not control the mind then the mind controls us and that will be a big, big disturbance. When our mind controls us then our spiritual life is very much in danger. So therefore we always have to make sure that the mind will be fixed. Then: Practicing and preaching—it such an important thing to know that practicing and preaching, those to processes, go together and how they connect to each other. That will be very wonderful to know how Guru Maharaja, Srila Puri Maharaja, connects it. Because he is one of the best practitioner and he is one of the greatest preachers, so he knows. When I went one time with Srila Tripurari Maharaja, to see Srila Puri Maharaja, I was so surprised to see how strict he kept with every detail of devotional service, his sadhana, his worship, his little prayer box, everything he does, it is so exemplary. Of course that is also something which we can only understand if we actually reach this level of devotion. But simultaneously his support to the preaching is also very extensive. Then: The path of passionate love—thats very confidential, the path of passionate love, here we are entering into the subject of how one falls into love with Krishna, so much that everything else in life is just becoming totally insignifican't. And finally he closes with: The disciples mentality—giving some very good inspiration that how we can maintain ourselves forever as a disciple, how we will not fall into this illusion to think: "I have become a master". Because even if you have disciples one time in your life, you should still feel yourself as a disciple. Without that mentality everything becomes bogus. So this is basically what is being dealt with in this book. Now I will just give a few samples, of course we cannot make a full review of this book today because it is very extensive with 255 pages of total nectar, but we will randomly search some nectar today starting here in: The diskha mantra and the Holy Name.

eka krsna-name kare sarva-papa ksaya
nava-vidha bhakti purna nama haite haya

"Simply by chantin the holy name of Krishna, one is relieved from all the reactions of a sinful life. One can complete the nine processes of devotional service simply by chanting the Holy Name." (CC 3.4.70-1)

/Comm.: A very, very nice verse, because if you for some reason are unable to do many other services, if you simply chant Hare Krishna you also have the perfect mercy. That you have the association of the devotees, that is so wonderful, whatever Krishna wishes is included in chanting the Holy Name, and the devotees will bless you. Now Guru Maharaja explains:/
In the twelfth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that remembering, contemplating and meditating on the Lord are dependent on inner purification and therefore not easily perfected by ordinary people. On the other hand, since sankirtana is an activity executed by the external senses, it is within the grasp of anyone, even the disturbed human beings of this age of Kali.
/Comm.: Now when I hear this I can only say Haribol, Haribol, Gaura-premanande Haribol. That is so wonderful, that even the most disturbed people can participate in the chanting. When I am hearing that some devotees are going in the street sitting down alone and chanting the Holy Name and preaching to people, my heart dances in pleasure, when I hear that, this is so wonderful. Actually when I just joined the movement we had our first sankirtana technique, it was that one person chants and one person gives out the books. So one person was chanting: "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare", and then if anybody stopped and looked at the guy, then the other devotee would approach him and say: "Here, take one of these. So it was a teamwork. And later some devotees just went out by themselves also. Just the idea of chanting and taking the Holy Name of Krishna everywhere, this is such a wonderful thing, such a great gift, such a wonderful mercy Krishna has given upon us, so we should be very, very thankful. Nevertheless, we should not take things for granted, because taking things for granted make you neglitient. /
The six can'to of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, states that bhakti, or devotional service, is primarily executed in the form of sankirtana:

etavan eva loke smin
pumsam dharmah parah smrtah
bhakti-yogo bhagavati
tan-nama-grahamadibhih

"Therefore, the supreme religious activity for people in this world is devotional service to the Lord, performed by such acts as repeating His divine names." (6.3.22)

/Comm.: So repeating the Holy Names it is an universal process of service. You repeat the Holy Name, you ask for mercy, you ask for the mercy of the Holy Name, that is so wonderful. When you come into the association of the devotees of Krishna you ask for service: "Please my Lord let me do something for you", as a matter of fact if you are surrounded by people, you live with, you have to do something. Even in family life everybody has to do something, the husband, the wife, the children. Just by living together you have to do something, right ? So if you do it with happiness, that means you are very fortunate. By serving the devotees you are really, really, really advancing in spiritual life. That is the real meaning of spiritual happiness, that you are appreciating that you can serve the devotees. When you come into contact with devotees and chant Hare Krishna, these things are connected. When you are serving devotees from your heart than you can also receive service, in other words, other people can help you in your service. For example, you are helping me so much, for what ? What do you help me ? You help me to serve other devotees, thats all. I do not need your service for myself. I do not want to take your service for myself. I do not want anything from you. But since you are coming and you are insisting that you want to participate in this philosophy, than I will be very thankful by utilizing your energy to serve the Vaishnavas. That is true, that is a practical result. Opening a new temple is a big headache, every new devotee means: "Oh my God, another headache" and you want to have more headaches. So serving the devotees is really the point, so when you serve the devotees you deserve that others help you, but you make sure that they don't serve you. So that is really the exchange of love, whereas in the material world it is going the opposite direction: you always take more and more and more and keep it for you, and even that does not work. The world is just a circulation of energies, it is just being tested how you want to take part of it, thats all it is. it's just being tested how want to take part in this plan of Sri Krishna. Are you going to be one of the top fighters for the truth ? Are you going to be the servant of the devotees, or not ? So the Holy Name is introducing us to all these gifts, to all these wonderful opportunities. Thats all it is, and then we get the mercy. By the association of the devotees we get the mercy and we can become more and more purified. Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaja goes on:/

The definition of kirtan has been given in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.145) as "the audible glorification of the Lords names, attributes and activities etc." (nama-lila-gunadinam uccair bhasanam tu kirtanam). Even so, the best type of kritana, also spoken of in the Bhagavatam and taught by the Goswamis like Sri Sanatana, Sri Rupa, and Sri Jiva, is the chanting of the Holy Name. This is the religious principle of the age of Kali as promulgated by the incarnation of Sri Krishna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

/Comm.: Srila Sridhar Maharaja takes it further, he said that there are different types of kirtan. Chanting Jappa is one, Chanting kirtan is another, speaking about Krishna is even higher, and writing about Krishna is even topmost because you have to have the topmost concentration on it and you will be tested, others will examinate: "What did he say ? is this shastra ? is this truth ?". Alone this part of Bhakti-rasamritha-sindhu confirms that preaching is the best chanting, so by preaching you are chanting, by chanting you are doing bhajan, by that you are preparing yourself for higher devotional realizations. So those who are trying to artificially separate bhajan from preaching, they are not understanding this explanation from Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, or from Srila Prabhupada, or from the teachings of Srila Sridhar Maharaja. He made that very clear, he said: "Writing is the highest, speaking about Krishna you have to concentrate. So very clearly we can understand that there is no duality between chanting and preaching. There is not such a duality, on the contrary, preaching is chanting of a very high quality. So this is very important and very encouraging as well. When you preach, sometimes you have hardly time to chant, is that because you don't want to chant ? No, it is because you have to attend to the people who want to hear about Krishna, you cannot just leave them alone. So in this way the prime concern is: Never forget Krishna, have the right inner attitude. It is not just a question of numbers. There have been so many changes about numbers. We have heard that Mahaprabhu would not eat in a house if somebody is not chanting 64 rounds. Others say you have to chant 32 rounds, Prabhupada said: "You have to chant 16 rounds", another instruction by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur is: "don't let the Jappas fast, minimum 4 rounds in case there is emergency service to be done". So we have heard so many instructions, so finally what is the truth ? Never forget Krishna, never forget your Guru, never forget the Vaishnavas, that is really the final conclusion of all that. Otherwise why have the teachers made certain adjustments under certain circumstances ? I know one Gaudiya Acarya initiating people and instructing them to chant 1 round, is he cheating people ? Of course not, he is giving them one round to chant. But the main instruction is: Never forget Krishna, always think of Him. We are trying to draw our heart in this. Of course the chanting of our rounds is very helpful, specifically if we are out all day in the street doing some service which requires a very solid spiritual foundation./

Now we will read from another chapter to get another glimpse from the Art of Sadhana: (from the Chapter: Practice and Preaching)

Mahaprabhu, the gardener in the orchard of love
Krishnas Vraja pastime is one of munificence (audarya) in which sweetness (madhurya) predominates, while His Nabadwip pastime as Gaura is one of sweetness in which munificence predominates. In this spirit of munificence, the compassionate Lord Gauranga played the role of a gardener who planted an orchard of love-fruit trees in Nabadwip. Mahaprabhu is sometimes said to be the tree of ecstatic love for Krishna, but by a divine twist, He is also the one who enjoys the fruit's of this tree and distributes them. While the Lord relished the taste of these fruit's, He also gave them away with such enthusiasm that He used both hands. As He did so, He said:

ekala malakara ami kahan kahan jaba
ekala va kata phala pariya bilaba
ekala uthana dite haya parisrama
keha paya keha na paya rahe mane bhrama
ataeva ami ajna dilun sabakare
jahan tahan prema-phala deha jare tare

"As I am the only gardener, to how many different places can I go ? And since I am all alone, how many fruit's can I pick and give away ? It is extremely tiring to gather up the fruit's and distribute them alone; it disturbs Me to know that some people will receive My fruit and others will not. Therefore I order everyone to distribute these fruit's of love to everyone they see, wherever they go." (CC 1.9.34-6)

/Comm.: Now if you still have any doubt about it than either you cannot read or you can't hear. I think we got the message of our life here. Mahaprabhu is in anxiety, He wants to distribute the fruit's of the tree of love and He is very tired that he cannot, with His two hands only, distribute to enough people, and He is requesting YOU to participate. I don't know, but I guess that I am included also, so I also have a chance, I can also participate. Mahaprabhu is calling upon us, He is so kind. He gives you a chance to distribute, what the hell are you doing sitting in front of a television ? Or reading some hot-chocolate book, or doing any other nonsense. What are you doing with your life ? Go and take fruit's from the Navadvip love tree and distribute./

In this way Mahaprabhu asked those who received His mercy to help him. In this way they can render service to Him.

atma-iccamrte vrksa sinci nirantara
tahate asankhya phala vrksera upara
ataeva saba phala deha jare tare
khaiya hauk loka ajara amare

"I constantly water the tree with the nectar of My personal desire. As a result, there are countless fruit's of love upon it. Therefore, I ask all of you to distribute these fruit's to everyone everywhere so that by eating them, all can become free from old age and death."
(CC 1.9.38-9)

Mahaprabhu further specifies that it is the special duty of those who are born in India to take up this service:

bharata-bhumite haila manusya janma jara
janma sarthaka kari kara para-upakara

"Whoever has taken a human birth in the land of Bharata should make his life successful and engage in welfare work for others" (CC 1.9.41)

/Comm.: Now what to speak of them ? What to speak ? If even the people from the foreign countries are asked to participate in the distribution. I am so happy when I see a young devotee preaching. One time I went to Via vicentio and a 17 year old girl was giving the class. In the audience were many teachers from Universities of Via vicentio and they listened very attentively to hear giving the class. I also listened, she was talking everything perfectly according to our parampara. I was overjoyed in my heart, this is what is the reality. Young little girls preaching to collegue and then receiving the grace through them, now this is Mahaprabhus influence. That is His infinite scope/

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu thus so compassionately distributed the fruit's of love of God in this effort to make the world fortunate. But we are wretched that we are indifferent to this matchless gift and refuse to accept it—what to speak of participating in the service of preaching.

/Comm.: Now do you think that Srila Puri Maharaja is just doing sadhana ? Sitting there, chanting alone, when he makes such declarations and writes this ? This is the message, and the mission, and the spirit of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada, as it is. And our Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada picked up that service perfectly, that spirit, and he injects it into you if you care to. Because it's right there available by his example and by his teachings and confirmed by Srila Puri Maharaja, and confirmed by Srila Sridhar Maharaja, in case there was any doubt left about the integrity of what we already received. A hundred percent confirmation to become preachers for the rest of our lifes, and practice as well so that your bhajan will become deeper and your preaching will become more powerful. And in case that you still have any doubts we have a few more chapters here like: Mahaprabhus instructions to Kurma and Vasudeva, Preaching does not require renouncing home /Comm.: Grhastas can and shall participate/ Aquiring the authority to preach, Sanatans praise of Haridas Thakur/Taking shelter of the Lord, the life of the devotee /Comm.: Preaching is just being expounded, expanded and finally the Lords affection for His devotees is boundless, and the next chapter is:/The path of passionate love.

 
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