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Fourth Stage of Bhakti | Anarth Nivritti (Part 5) | Sri Vinod Babaji Maharaj

There are four types of practitioners of Bhakti: Sthula, Pravartak, Sadhak and Siddha.

1. Sthula devotee: The one who is largely attached to the body, worldly things and the material pleasures of the world is a Sthula devotee. He is attached to his wife, children and family. Accumulating worldly things for the pleasure of his family is the only definition of Dharma for him. He is happy in their happiness and sad in their sadness. He is not interested in knowing whether there is anything above and beyond this. (He performs external actions of Bhakti like Puja and Arati, but all his actions are performed for material pleasures only, and he is not interested in actual devotion to Krishna).

2. Pravartaka devotee: When this Sthula devotee gets the association of a highly enlightened Sadhu, his life changes. He understands what a big mistake he has committed. For eternity, he has been captured in the cycle of life and death, burning in the fire of material pleasures, drinking the poison of material pleasures mistaking them for nectar, mistaking pain to be happiness and doing all kinds of evil and wrong actions in search of this so-called 'happiness'. 

Who knows what kind of actions we have done through all these innumerable births? We have made a grave mistake. First, this body is temporary and second, the world is void of happiness. In Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta (9.33), Krishna says,

“O Arjun, this world is Anityam (temporary) and Asukham (void of happiness).”

The devotee realizes this through Satsanga, but is unable to detach himself from material desires. The fight between the material and the spiritual begins. The devotee sometimes performs actions of Bhakti with great enthusiasm, and sometimes procrastinates, thinking he would complete his rounds the next day. The next day he still procrastinates the daily rounds to the 'next' day. This way sometimes he does bhajan, sometimes he doesn't (because there was such and such problem in life). But he has some interest in devotion to Krishna. Such a devotee is called a Pravartaka devotee. 

In the beginning of this state of Pravartaka, the Dushkriti Jata Anarthas create hurdles in the path of the devotee. People around him feel he is not taking care of them so much as before, or they wonder why he is not excited about the material pleasures he was mad about before. The endless problems and demands of material life anger him and he deepens his bhajan as he becomes indifferent to them. Sometimes, he might lose hope and enthusiasm, and think, ‘let whoever wants to do bhajan do it. I am tired of this!’ This way the devotee gets disillusioned sometimes. But one who is devoted to the lotus feet of Sri Gurudev does not lose hope. Sri Gurudev inspires the disciple to accept all challenges and continue progressing in the path of Bhakti with all their mind, body and speech focused. 

3. Sadhak devotee: When the devotee becomes more and more indifferent to worldly matters, he realizes that this world is full of miseries and it is not possible to get into deeper bhajan or become detached from friends and relatives while living amidst materialistic people. Then he naturally starts getting irritated when people want to talk about material matters with him. The friends and relatives who seemed so near and dear once, they seem like enemies and hurdles of Bhakti now. The material things that gave pleasure once, seem like poison now. In this way, he becomes more and more detached from the world and starts praying for living in Vraja Dham, in association of Sadhus and other devotees. He yearns to forsake the materialistic way of life and live in Vraja, eating a couple of chapattis (Indian bread) as Madhukari (a practice of Sadhus in which they accept food from Vrajawasis in exchange for Harinaam kirtan) from the Vrajawasis and performing bhajan in solitude. (The yearning for living in Vraja Dham is due to his yearning for association with Krishna devotees. It doesn’t imply every sadhak leaves householder life to become a renunciate.) Such a devotee is called a Sadhak.

4. Siddha devotee: When such a Sadhak devotee progresses in bhajan and purifies his soul to achieve the divine love and eternal service of Krishna, he is called a Siddha devotee.

Different types of Anarthas come to Sthula, Pravartaka, Sadhak and Siddha devotees. Sthula and Pravartaka devotees experience Dushkriti Jata Anarthas. When the Sadhak leaves Grihastha ashram to live in Vraja Dham, he experiences Sukriti Jata Anartha. (Sukriti Jata Anarthas and Bhaktyuttha Anarthas come less in case of householder Sadhaks since their Bhakti is easy to conceal). Maya Devi thinks that this Sadhak could not be bound in worldly illusions or problems, so let's bind him in comfort and Satvik pleasures, fame and glory, money and power (like that of a Mahanta of an Ashram). Deluded by Maya, the Sadhak's body performs devotional activities but mentally, he resides in worldly pleasures. Actually, in numerous births we have done many good deeds but with the desire of receiving mundane happiness, fame and glory. Now, though you have become a devotee with the desire of achieving divine love for Radha Krishna, the fruits of those actions will come to you to enjoy, whether you want them or not. 

Since a jivatma is naturally attracted to enjoyment, he might get trapped in the snare of these comforts, fame and glory, which are only hurdles in the path of Bhakti. Only few Sadhaks, who are earnestly devoted to Guru and Radha Krishna and don't desire material pleasures at all, can overcome these Anarthas. 99.9% Sadhaks get trapped in comforts and pleasures. The mind which should be devoted to the contemplation of Radha Krishna gets trapped in worries about building religious institutions and temples, collecting money for their administration, bringing fame and glory to such institutions, etc. Eating fine preparations of food, wearing nice clothes, sleeping on soft bed, not able to endure even a mosquito bite, how can one immerse oneself in contemplation of Radha Krishna?

A Siddha bhakta is one who has attained Prem bhakti. It is the stage where the bond between Prakriti (matter made of air, water, fire, earth and space) and the Vishuddha satva (the supreme stage of purified consciousness) has broken and the qualities of Prakriti cannot manifest in the devotee anymore. But a little before the perfection of Prem Bhakti, when the devotee experiences divine manifestations of love like crying, shaking, getting goose bumps, etc, Bhaktyuttha Anarthas comes to push him off track. 

A devotee tries to hide the symptoms of Prem Bhakti from public, but overwhelming waves of love make him helpless. But the materialistic people cannot understand the storm of divine love and emotions happening in the devotee's heart. At the same time, the eight kinds of Siddhis (divine powers) and other Deva Maya (attempts by demi-gods to deter the devotee by illusive methods) come to tempt the devotee. 

So, at one hand, the devotee is offered divine powers (like whatever he says would come true, he could grant people their desires by will, etc) and on the other hand, people plead to him to save them from all kinds of problems and bless them to enjoy comforts and good health. Since it sounds like social welfare and is Satvik in nature, the devotee (who is naturally compassionate) might get trapped in this Deva Maya. Actually, everyone experiences fruits of their own actions and the devotee should not interfere with the natural system of justice created by Sri Bhagavan. Sometimes, they pray to Radharani for others' welfare and the divine powers (which really belongs to Radha Krishna) serve of themselves. But a devotee should never dare to use them according to himself.

The selfish materialistic people think if this Baba makes me his disciple, all my sorrows and problems will go away. A person with a difficult disease thinks if Baba blesses me, my health will be restored. If Baba sets foot in my factory, I will become rich. The Baba has not been worshipping Radha Krishna and facing all kinds of hurdles for this! But the selfish people don't see anything other than their selfish motives. Then some Sadhaks think that if Baba blesses me, I will be able to achieve a high stage of consciousness and Bhakti without any trouble. 

All these people are really lazy people who want to avoid trouble. They neither have real faith in Sadhus nor are earnest seekers of Prem Bhakti. If the compassionate devotee makes them his disciples, they will only harass him with pleads and prayers. He doesn't want anything from them, neither did he call anyone to show his high stage of Bhakti, but since his Bhakti became publicly known, he experiences such Bhaktyuttha Anarthas. They don't let him immerse in the contemplation of Radha Krishna or do bhajan.

This is why devotees should take great care to hide their Bhakti. They should not let anyone know how much love they feel for their Lord. Also, they must hide any manifestations of divine experiences or emergence of loving traits like crying, shaking, getting goosebumps, etc. Many sadhus act like normal materialistic people or even treacherous people to hide their Bhakti.

One such highly enlightened Sadhu was Shri Ramdas Kathiya Babaji Maharaj. He lived in Vrindavan. His disciple who later came to be known as Shri Sant Das Kathiya Babaji Maharaj, was a lawyer in the High court of Kolkata. With the mercy of Radha Krishna, he became detached from the material world and wanted to find only a Siddha Sadhu to accept him as his Guru. 

Once, he visited the Kumbha Mela at Prayag and enquired the devotees and Sadhus if there was a Siddha devotee present in the Kumbha fair. Many people told him about Shri Vijay Krishna Goswami ji. When he met Goswamiji, they developed friendship like childhood friends. Though he knew Goswamiji was a Siddha bhakta but could not think of him as his Guru. So, he asked Goswamiji who should he accept as his Guru. Goswamiji took him to Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba, who was sitting on his Mahanta seat in his tent. 

After offering him his obeisance, Sant Das Baba talked with the other disciples of Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba. They told him that Baba has now decided not to give initiation anymore. Sant Das Baba was very sad and heartbroken to hear this. He started lamenting in his mind "Who will give me initiation? Will I never find a Guru in this life? Will this life go waste? Is there nobody to give me shelter and guidance?" Suddenly, he heard Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba (who was looking straight ahead) saying, "No, no, if I find an earnest disciple, I can still give initiation. Do not worry."

Sant Das Baba was amazed. Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba seemed to answer his question. How did he know what he was thinking in his mind? Only a Siddha devotee can know another person's thoughts. Then he thought it was not the right place (other people might also ask for initiation but Baba wanted to give initiation to only a selected few), he should wait and meet him in Vrindavan.

Again, Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba (still looking straight ahead) said, "Yes, yes, come and meet me in Vrindavan. I will give initiation there. That would be best." Sant Das Baba was still more amazed. He became certain that he had reached the right person and need not look any further for a Guru.

After the Kumbh Mela, Ram Das Kathiya Babaji Maharaj went back to his ashram in Vrindavan. Sant Das Baba, still a lawyer, went to meet him there. But on reaching his ashram, he saw the scene was totally different from that of Kumbh Mela. Shri Ram Das Kathiya Baba would sit with thieves, dacoits and the most materialistic kind of people in his ashram and smoke Chillum (pipe) from dawn to dusk. He would talk only of money and criticise expressly those who didn't offer him any money. If anyone came to ask any spiritual questions, he would scare them away. He would lament, "The businessman who came today was useless. The one who came yesterday was good, at least gave me 25 paise. These disciples of mine are all useless devils. They don't earn and bring a single paisa for me, only sit and eat. Prices of things are increasing everyday. How will I run my ashram? I am so worried!"

Sant Das Baba was shocked and thought he had definitely been deceived at Kumbh Mela. This sadhu is not at all a Siddha devotee and talks nothing about Bhakti whatsoever. He even ignores the Sadhus who visit him occasionally and talks animatedly with the thieves and sinners. Heartbroken, he returned to Kolkata without meeting or talking with Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba at all. At night, lying down on a cot on his house's terrace, he thought, "It is the fault of my lack of fortune. What should I do? Will I never find my Guru?" 

At that instant, he saw two spheres of light in the sky. They were becoming bigger and bigger. After some time, two illuminated figures could be seen in their place. As they came nearer, Sant Das Baba saw Shri Vijay Krishna Goswami Ji Maharaj and Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba. On reaching near the terrace, but still standing in the space, Shri Ramdas Kathiya Baba said, "Do you believe in me, now? Do you have any more doubts? Come to Vrindavan soon. I will give you initiation." Such a Siddha devotee and such behaviour like a treacherous person to hide himself!

There was another devotee from Ranbari who acted like this. He would seldom talk or meet with anyone. I sometimes visited his kutir with a box of sweets or something to offer. Once, I was going to his kutir when a Vrajawasi mother asked me if I was going to that Baba. I said yes. She said, "Oh, he is a very dangerous Baba." I asked her why she said so. She said, "He makes the villagers quarrel with each other. The other day, one villager went to pay his obeisance to him, and the Baba told him that another villager had come to him and said many wrong things about him (the visiting villager). He was furious to hear so and immediately went to that villager to ask him why he had said such wrong things about him. The other villager was surprised and told him he hadn't said anything of the kind. Both of them went back to the Baba to ask who was saying the truth. Baba was standing at the gate of his kutir with a stick and saying, 'Don't you dare come to me. Go away!' Such is his behaviour. That's why we don't go to him anymore."

The Sadhu led a very austere life. He wore only Kaupina, whether it was summer or winter. If I offered him a cloth, it would disappear after five minutes and he would remain bare bodied with only Kaupina. He kept a broken radio and a box of cigarettes with him. If anybody came to see him thinking he was a good sadhu and ask spiritual questions, he would tell them to sit and then he would light a cigarette and smoke while searching endlessly for a radio station (it was broken, so it would only make buzzing noises). 

Most people would lose faith and leave, believing him to be a fraud. (Siddha devotees know who is an earnest seeker of the path of Bhakti. Unfortunately, many people have the habit of visiting Sadhus and asking them spiritual questions, while doing no bhajan at all. The devotees don't want to waste their time on such people who don't have respect for the time and hard-earned spiritual experience of a Sadhu. But they would certainly bless a sadhak who is hungry for spiritual enlightenment.)

This is how the four kinds of Anarthas pester the devotee in the path of Bhakti. Only one who is devoted to the Lotus feet of Guru and Radha Krishna, and is able to overcome his material desires and inclinations, progress in the path of Bhakti and attain Prem Bhakti. Most of the Dushkriti Jata Anartha are experienced in the Anartha Nivritti stage of a sadhak. The rest continue to pester him right till he attains Prem Bhakti and the bond between Prakriti and the Vishuddha satva is broken. 

Siddha devotees, sometimes, accept the difficult Anarthas of others to further hide their Bhakti. That's why we can see many Siddha devotees suffering disasters and incurable diseases, but actually these don't affect the devotees' immersion in the nectarine pastimes of Radha Krishna.


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