A sadhak has to struggle a lot to reach the stage of Nishtha. There has been no sadhak ever who started doing bhajan and easily achieved the divine love of Radha Krishna without any struggle. Sometimes you see certain devotees with good spiritual samskaras. But they have also struggled in their past lives. Every jivatma has been sent to Maya world by Paramatma. They have been roaming in this Maya from time unknown, taking birth in different forms of body, dying and then again taking birth. Therefore, everyone has material samskaras. When an enlightened devotee comes their way, their association sows the seed of Bhakti. The highly charged vibrations of an enlightened devotee gradually inspires Shraddha (faith) even in the heart of an atheist. This is when the vine of Bhakti has sprouted buds. On watering it with Satsanga and nourishing it with bhajan, this vine of Bhakti grows eventually to achieve the Lotus feet of Radha Krishna. There it coils around their Lotus feet in such a way that They are never able to free them ever!

Every jivatma is hungry for happiness. People do anything in the world to get a little happiness. Yet, all these sadhus you see in Vrindavan, Ayodhya, etc, are they mad? For what do they sit for hours in a corner of a room or under a tree chanting Harinaam for years after years? Do you think they have no experience of the spiritual world and doing bhajan because they have nowhere to go? If you have intense yearning to experience the divine quality of Sri Vrindavan Dham, you will be able to see many things at the Barsana Radharani Temple, Radhakunda, Kusum sarovar, Goverdhan, etc. If only you have a little patience, faith and the required yearning. But such yearning doesn’t arise in the heart of a materialist. This Maya is absolute darkness and Bhakti is like the light of thousands of Suns. 

When a sadhak is engaged in bhajan without Nishtha, he undergoes six phases of bhajan : Utsahmayi, Ghana Tarala, Vishay Sanghara, Vyudha Vikalpa, Niyamakhyama and Tarang Rangini. (Fully explained in THE VIKARAS OF BHAJAN. See ) Utsahmayi means the sadhak, when inspired by the association of enlightened sadhus, starts doing bhajan, he experiences a boost of enthusiasm and new found vairagya from the material world. But after some time, as he encounters hurdles within (in the form of desire, anger, lust, preoccupation with worldly matters) and outside (relatives and friends shocked at your sudden change of behaviour and indifference, wanting to spend more time with you), his enthusiasm thins and a struggle between the material inclinations and the spiritual inclination begins. This is the stage of Ghana intense) Tarala (feeble). Sometimes the sadhak is unable to do much bhajan because such and such problem came in life, and sometimes he gets irritated by his daily problems and engages in bhajan adamantly. At that time, Maya devi thinks this jivatma has played in my lap from time unknown. But now, he wants to devote himself to Sri Hari. So she tries to lure the jivatma back to her servitude (this role of Maya devi has been given by Krishna himself. That is why she is called Bahiranga Maya Shakti, the delusional power of Krishna to attract a jivatma away from Him.) She sends all kinds of Vishay (material pleasures) to the sadhak. If the sadhak is not careful, his secret desires will entangle him, despite his show of bhajan. Even those who have forsaken family life and come to Braj, they will be tested with various material pleasures. Nowadays you see sadhus like me, who reside in palace like ashrams, have stores of worldly things, live in comfort and being prostrated to by thousands of people, in the name of 'Tyagi' or 'Sannyasi'. But real sadhus do not accept or even pay attention to such incentives. They want to be left alone, in the corner of a small kutiya or in the forest, contemplating only Radha Krishna and their pastimes, and accepting only some Madhukari from the Brajwasis to stay alive. (This is Shri Gurudev's humility and resolution to not offend any vaishnava. He has led an extremely austere life in Braj and has slackened some rules only to accept the repetitive prayers of his disciples for the sake of his health in his old age.) This is called Vishay Sanghara. If a sadhak takes shelter in Guru and vaishnavas, and prays for saving him from Maya, only then he may be saved. 

A jivatma enjoys pleasures through his five senses. The effect of these on bhajan are such:

1. Shabda (word/sound): Taking pleasure in gossip, finding faults or discussing worldly matters provides a sadhak a lot of Anarthas. These words get into his mind and disturb him, especially while chanting on Asana (the seat for regular bhajan). Either one must close both his ears (not listen to worldly matters) or let worldly talk pass from one ear to another (ignore it). The problem with us is that we let the talk enter through one ear and close the other, meaning it doesn’t find any way to go out and hence, reverberates inside our mind! The love of Radha Krishna cannot be developed without contemplating on them. If you observe your psychology closely, you will find that we get attracted to things we listen and think about. After thinking about it for a few days, we will want to acquire it. Similarly, we have to think about Radha Krishna and their lilas. Then, one day, your heart will yearn to go there. Therefore, we must reduce thinking about worldly affairs as much as possible.

2. Sparsha (touch): Different relations have different pleasures of touch. The pleasure of holding your child in your lap has Vatsalya related pleasure. Being hugged by a friend has a different kind of pleasure. Being touched by a lover has another kind of pleasure. These different types of touch have one thing in common, they entangle a sadhak in Maya. (You might think that the touch of a child is innocent, but it definitely increases your attraction to the child. This doesn’t mean that a sadhak in family life should never take their child in lap, but being aware of this and avoiding holding your child in your lap just to relish the pleasure, one can save himself from getting entangled in Maya.)

3. Roop (beauty/form): This is the most lethal of Maya's weapons. It inspires Moha (delusion) in the heart of a sadhak. People get attracted to beauty, even without any logic or possibility of acquiring the person. It leads to destruction of time, wealth and youth. It is the core reason of getting attracted to worldly things. (For example, we see the advertisement of something on the television and we desire to buy it, just because we were impressed by the presentation. Similarly, Maya advertises many things in life and we get deluded so that we want to acquire it, even though we don’t need it.) Bilvamangal realised that his main weakness was attraction to beauty. In his family life, he was attracted to a prostitute, though he was born a high-class Brahmin. He was so attracted to Chintamani that he could hardly mourn over his father’s demise and was sad instead for not being able to go to Chintamani during the twelve days of Shraaddh (the observance of rites after a person’s death). As soon as the rites were over, Bilvamangal set out to meet Chintamani at night, though there was a thunderstorm raging outside and the Krishnavinna river was flooded. He was so engrossed in thoughts about Chintamani that he mistook a foul-smelling dead body for a wood log and crossed the river holding it. He also mistook a snake for a rope and climbed it to get to the terrace of the prostitute's residence when he found the door locked. Chintamani, on the other hand, was pure of heart and engaged in prostitution only to earn a living. She saw that this Brahmin has come all this way in the thunderstorm and across a flooded river, just to see this body made of blood and flesh. He is so attracted to me that he doesn’t know how bad he smells. She decided to humiliate him heavily, so that his attraction for her gets destroyed. She was shocked to see him on the terrace and asked him how he had come. Bilvamangal said he had climbed a rope. Chintamani found a venomous snake hanging from the terrace. Then she asked him why he was smelling so foul and how he crossed the river. Bilvamangal said he had crossed the river on a wood log and had no idea why he smelled foul. Chintamani went to the bank of the river and found a foul smelling dead body there. Then she humiliated Bilvamangal. She said, “How disgusting you are! You were born in a high-class Brahmin family and this is what you have come down to? This body made of blood and flesh is so pleasurable to you that you have come to me in the night of your Pitri Shraaddh? You have wasted your precious human birth, you have wasted your Brahmin body! If you had been attracted to Lord Sri Krishna this much, you would have crossed this ocean of Maya! But you, instead, get attracted to a prostitute, even after reading the scriptures? Shame on you! Go away, I don’t want to see you.” Bilvamangal was shocked. He thought Chintamani would be pleased to see his love and dedication, but she was so stone hearted. He was disgusted that he had wasted his time and energy for what he thought was his love, but was just an illusion. His heart changed and soon he left family life and took initiation from a Sannyasi named Somgiri. Then he went to Vrindavan to spend his life in devotion to Krishna. But here comes Vishay Sanghara. His past samskaras were not destroyed and once he accidentally saw a very beautiful woman bathing in Yamuna. He instantly got attracted to her beauty. He followed the woman to her house and knocked on the door. The woman was married and her husband answered his call. They were vaishnavas and were happy to see a sadhu at their door. Bilvamangal was ushered inside and given seat. Then the woman’s husband asked what service he could do for the sadhu. Bilvamangal said he wanted something from him, but would he promise to give? The man said with folded hands that he would do anything that was in his power. Bilvamangal told him to send his wife to him that night. The Vaishya vaishnav agreed with folded hands. When Bilvamangal had left, he discussed with his wife that the sadhu looked genuinely full of Brahminical aura. He couldn’t be a fraud. The woman, too, agreed to visit the sadhu. She dressed up in full sringar like a married woman and went to Bilvamangal. Bilvamangal was already in a mood of great self-disgust and remorse, which cleansed his heart. When he saw the woman, he was reminded of Radharani and thought, 'See, this is the beauty of a mere mortal. Who knows how beautiful Srimati Radharani is? Even so, this woman must be my Radharani in this form. How could I see her with lustful eyes? Shame on me!’ Then he folded his hands and prayed to the woman to give two hairpins, calling her mother. The woman was confused but gave the hairpins anyway. Bilvamangal said, “O mother, these eyes are my greatest enemies. I had been attracted to beauty before, but God saved me and made me a sadhu. But my heart is so dirty that I was attracted to beauty once again. Therefore, I must destroy these enemies.” And he gouged his own eyes using the hairpins. The woman was frightened and screamed. Her husband was just outside. He came running inside and saw what had happened. The couple wanted to take care of him, but he left the place that night itself, chanting Harinaam. The message is not to become blind, but beware of this enemy. Therefore, many sadhus don't look at a woman’s face. They look down at the ground all the time and look only at men if needed.

4. Rasa (taste): The taste buds give the sadhak diseases. We eat many things that taste good but is not good for health. Sugar, spices, oily, deep fried food are all Rajasik in nature. When this food is digested and absorbed in the body in the form of blood, flesh, bones, etc., our whole consciousness becomes Rajasik. When we eat Tamasik food, our consciousness becomes Tamasik. Then we will have Rajasik and Tamasik thoughts, desires and approach to life. That is why it is so important for a sadhak to eat Sattvik food. It won’t immediately show results because the bones and flesh made of Rajasik and Tamasik food will take time to renew (the older cells die constantly and new cells are formed. While blood cells renew everyday, bones take 10 years to renew) using the Sattvik food. But overtime, you will see a change in the personality of a person. He will become less selfish, desire everyone’s welfare, become less angry and have more patience. Sometimes we also overeat, which makes us sleepy and unhealthy. Someone who wants to be free from diseases, has to control his rasa.

5. Gandha (smell): The sense related to smell is quite subjective. We relate certain smells to temples or prayers, and therefore, are filled with Sattvik thoughts just by the smell. We also relate other smells like that of onion or meat with that of the thing itself. Like if you ate meat before and meat being Tamasik, you will be reminded of past experience and consequently, have Tamasik thoughts! Or you will be disgusted on being reminded of slaughtered animals. We cannot always control smelling something, but it’s best to keep away from Rajasik and Tamasik smells, since they remind us of the things and disturb our mind.

Therefore, when these senses are not controlled, the sadhak is doomed to remain bound in Maya. But when these senses are controlled and invested in the devotion of Radha Krishna, that is, the eyes are devoted to relish the darshan of Sri Hari vigraha and his devotees, the ears are devoted to Hari kathamrita, tongue is devoted to Harinaam and relishing the Prasad of Radha Krishna, and the skin is devoted to the touch of Sri Hari vigraha and His devotees, then they give the sadhak the nectarine fruit of the divine love of Radha Krishna. 

A sadhak must not think that since, physically, he has relinquished the family life and come to Braj Dham to do bhajan, he is now free from all obstacles. The material pleasures will come back to you in one form or the other and try to attract you towards comfort and elusive happiness. The sadhak has to struggle hard to overcome this obstacle known as Vishay Sanghara in order to reach the stage of Nishtha.

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