THE VIKARAS OF BHAJAN BY Shri Vinod Bihari Das Babaji Maharaj

The attraction to worldly pleasures is not a fault, but nature of jivatma. Through the association of elevated sadhus, when the sadhak starts realizing that there is a higher reason to take birth as humans than living for food and mating like animals, they worship God. Slowly, they rise the ladder of Bhakti : Shraddha (faith), Sadhusanga (association of elevated sadhus), Bhajan kriya (practicing the forms of Bhakti), Anartha nivritti (the emergence and winning over of obstacles of Bhakti), Nishtha (diligence in bhajan), Ruchi (the first signs of love of Krishna), Asakti (the stage when sadhak starts forgetting his identification with body due to continuous contemplation of Krishna), Bhava (the stage when the sadhak realizes his Bhava deha in spiritual world) and Prem (the full maturity of Bhava and realizing darshan of Radha Krishna in person). The sadhak must not feel disheartened at his shortcomings in this long path of Bhakti. "Krishna will definitely shower mercy on me" - this is the attitude of a sadhak who has taken shelter in Krishna's lotus feet. Persevering with his bhajan slowly but steadily, the sadhak will one day reach the blissful, outworldly and divine stage of Prem. There are various mental situations (Vikaras) a sadhak experiences in this path of Bhakti : Utsahmayi, Ghana tarala, Vishay sanghara, Vyudha vikalpa, Niyamakhyama and Tarang rangini.

Utsahmayi - when a sadhak accepts Diksha, he gets excited about bhajan. He thinks he will overcome the obstacles of Bhakti in no time and realize his mood of worshipping Krishna soon. This initial excitement for bhajan doesn't last long. The path of bhakti is so complex and difficult (due to aparadhas) , our innermost desires and longings so difficult to overcome and the play of Maya so strong that the sadhak feels defeated by it all at a point of time. The path of Bhakti is said to be the simplest way of achieving the Supreme Godhead, but that is possible only with mercy of Guru and Govinda, and not by the sadhak himself. That is why, slowly, the sadhak starts drifting back towards worldly pleasures. His initial excitement (Utsahmayi) subdues. But since he has realized that the wordly pleasures are not worth pursuing, he feels very disturbed by worldly pleasures too and springs back to persevering with bhajan. This is called Ghana tarala (the wordly meaning being "the thick and thin"). Sometimes persevering with bhajan and sometimes attracted to worldly pleasures.

Vishay Sanghara means the re-emergence of the samskaras of worldly attractions of the previous lives. This is not same as the attraction to worldly pleasures of a materialistic person. Such a person enjoys the worldly pleasures without a thought, while a sadhak feels irritated to see such inclinations of the mind and has to fight with these desires to progress in bhajan. The sadhak thinks he will never again look, touch, talk or think about worldly pleasures, but after a few days he drifts back to them. Again a little satsanga pulls him back to bhajan. By mentally fighting with these desires, he swipes off the materialistic samskaras of previous lives and the spiritual samskaras become more powerful than them. In other words, this fight with samskaras is vital for the spiritual growth of a sadhak.

Vyudha vikalpa means whimsical wills. The sadhak decides to leave his home and family to go and reside in Braj Dham for bhajan one day and then falters at the thought of living the difficult life of a renunciate the next day. In this case, the sadhak neither likes to lead a materialistic life, nor is he ready to absolutely abandon the comforts of home life. Sometimes he thinks of becoming a renunciate, then after sometime, he thinks 'Oh, shastra has said one can do bhajan in grihastha ashram also. Let's stay at home and fulfill our duties'. (Indeed, one must not leave grihastha unless he reaches a stage where he just cannot concentrate on worldly matters anymore. This mental stage of Vyudha vikalpa precedes that stage.)

Niyamakhyama means inability to maintain a routine of bhajan. One day the sadhak thinks he will complete 3 lakhs Harinaam and then only drink water, read such and such grantha in the daytime and not go to sleep until chanting so many rounds of Harinaam. But after a few days, some illness or some preoccupations occur that disturb the whole time table. The sadhak completes 3 lakhs of Harinaam one day and only 16 rounds the other day. That day he feels very irritated and keeps on trying to find time for completing his routine rounds of Harinaam, but is unable to do so. This yearning to maintain a routine makes him mindful of how much time he gives to bhajan and how much time is wasted in worldly actions (this is not in the case of seva. Seva of vaishnavas is fruit of all one's bhajan). And the sadhak consistently tries to reduce his time for other things (cuts off worldly associations, useless talk and gossip, needless sleep or lazy time) and increase his bhajan time. More than the actual number of rounds of Harinaam, these efforts and mental engagement save the sadhak from getting distracted to useless thoughts and fault finding in others, and when he fails to maintain the routine, he prays to Guru and Govind with great humility to help him. But if a sadhak is not able to maintain a routine at all then they must not despair. They must not wait for a time when all their problems will fade away and then they will do bhajan. No. They must try to chant Harinaam by mouth, doing all the necessary works with hands. The mothers at home can chant Harinaam while cooking, those engaged in jobs can chant whenever they are not speaking. A sadhak must not waste his time, but always chant Harinaam. With every minute that passes by, every day that closes, we are nearing our death. No one knows when one will have to face death, how many days or breaths are left. Do not waste time. Chant Harinaam. There are nine main forms of Bhakti. Choose whichever you like. Worship Krishna in whichever way that suits you. But chant Harinaam by mouth. That is the most important part of Bhakti. Harinaam in the body of Bhakti, the other forms of Bhakti are body parts or organs of Bhakti. That is why along with any form of Bhakti you engage in, chant Harinaam by mouth continuously.

Tarang rangini means waves of inspiration for bhajan. The sadhak sets his routine of bhajan and engages himself vigorously in bhajan for a few months or years, even conquers the obstacles in his path, but then slowly he gets fed up of striving so hard and seemingly achieving nothing. The wave of inspiration for bhajan subsides and the sadhak, though unlikely to get attracted towards Maya, continues his routine of bhajan only mechanically. He feels very sad and lost in his heart. Then on association with elevated sadhus or other forms of mercy, he regains his hope and vigour for bhajan. The wave of hopelessness subsides and the wave of inspiration follows again. The sadhak must remember that the path of bhakti is that of humility and submission. When a traveller crosses a forest to get to his destination, from the start till end he sees only dense forest all around. It is very difficult to approximate how much of the forest path has been traversed and how much is left. Even when the forest path is about to end, the traveller sees only dense locks of trees all around. Similarly, the sadhak always finds faults within himself, since Bhakti maharani blesses him with humility. The more he progresses the more he is convinced that he is the most fallen soul on Earth. Narottam Das Thakur says,

"Mo sam patit nahi, tribhuvan dekho chahi, Narottam paban naam dharo".

Such is the state of the heart of the sadhak. But he must not feel disheartened or hopeless. Krishna has said in Shrimad Bhagvat Gita,

"Kaunteya prati janihi na me bhaktya pranashyati"

Meaning: O Arjun, know that my Bhakta never fails.

A sadhak may stagger, deviate from path for sometime or try to accumulate Maya, but once he has taken shelter in the lotus feet of Guru and Govind, through Anukul or Pratikul kripa, They will pull him to themselves and give him the nectarine fruit of Prem Bhakti. Therefore, one must never think that since I am fallen, Krishna will never accept me. The bond between Krishna and his devotees is so strong, invincible and eternal that even Krishna himself cannot break or become indifferent to it. And, the fruit of one Krishna naam is Amogha (invincible), whether shuddha or only Namabhas. So, have faith and never lose hope. One day, you WILL achieve Krishna's Prem Bhakti and the divine mood of Braj Bhav.

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