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Fifth Stage of Bhakti | Nishtha (Part 1) | Sri Vinod Babaji Maharaj

When a sadhak embarks on the path of devotion, he develops Shraddha (faith) in God, His devotees and the scriptures. Then he starts associating with devotees who are engaged in intense bhajan. Eventually, he accepts initiation from a Guru and starts doing bhajan himself.

At first, the sadhak is not able to do bhajan with determination. Sometimes he gives priority to other things in his life, resulting in no fixed time and amount of bhajan in his life. If some other work crops up, bhajan takes a backseat. Hence, he might do only few rounds of Harinaam that day, that too while worrying incessantly about the work at hand and hardly thinking of Radha Krishna at all. (This is Namabhas and it causes purification of heart gradually, but it takes a lot of time, maybe several births, to reach Prem Bhakti.) 

On reaching the stage of Nishtha (the meaning of the word is determination), the sadhak gives utmost priority to only bhajan. Then he never fails to complete his daily rounds, whatsoever the situation in his life. He realizes that all things in the world can be done by others, but his spiritual upliftment lies only in his hand. He has been given this human birth as a golden opportunity to free himself from this cycle of birth and death. Therefore, he must give his utmost priority to only bhajan, even if he incurs some worldly losses. 

If such a sadhak is unable to complete his rounds or other devotional services one day, due to various problems or disasters in life, they become very angry with themselves. They punish themselves as “I must not eat anything until I complete my rounds” or “yesterday I have not completed my rounds, but today I will complete those as well as today’s rounds. Only then I will eat.” This kind of mind-set is called Nishtha. Bhajan is their utmost priority, just like a diligent worker becomes irritated if he hasn’t completed an important work in time at the office.

A sadhak must strive to do bhajan with such determination, whether he likes it or not. Many people say that my mind wanders, I am unable to focus on Harinaam. Still, they must sit routinely and complete their rounds. This exercise will attract their mind to bhajan gradually. It will be a painful struggle at first, but one has to command his mind to obey. Gradually, they will also find happiness in chanting Harinaam. Henceforth, the yearning to chant more will only increase, taking the sadhak through Ruchi, Asakti, Bhav and Prem. 

Many people lose interest in bhajan because their mind wanders too much. They say “What is the use of sitting with the Japa mala when the mind is elsewhere?” But Bhagavat Naam (Harinaam), Bhagavat Anushthan (a devotional event like Ekadashi, Kartik vrata, etc.) and Bhagavat Karma (pooja, arati, reading scriptures) are Amogha (the results of such actions cannot be destroyed. Aparadhas can delay or put a veil on the results of such actions, but once the Aparadhas are vanquished, they will reappear). 

Suppose, you do not like your job, but you are going to work anyway. Does that mean you will be paid less? No, you will be paid all the same. Yes, it is better if you like your job and are always trying to improve your status at work. Then your boss will be happier with you and promote you to higher position.

Similarly, if you do bhajan, pooja, read devotional scriptures, etc. without actually enjoying it or your mind wandering, still they will purify your heart. Eventually, you will find happiness in them so much that all worldly matters will seem to be a misery and only hurdles in the path of devotion to Radha Krishna. Your mind will also become your servant, not your instructor.

When Krishna sees that my devotee is trying so hard to please me, but is bound in Maya hopelessly, his heart melts in compassion. He knows that this Maya of mine is too powerful for a jivatma to overcome. No scripture has said that the jivatma is able to overcome the Maya with his bhajan. Instead, they have said that this Maya cannot be overcome by a jivatma. In Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta (7.14), Krishna says to Arjuna:

|Daivi hyesha guna mayi mama maya duratyaya|
||Mam eva prapadyante mayam etam taranti te||

Meaning: My Maya is divine, made of the three modes of nature and is very difficult to overcome (by a jivatma). Only one who surrenders to me, is able to overcome this Maya.

Devotional service and Harinaam are the solution for ignorance. Therefore, whether you like it or not, make a routine of devotional services and number of rounds of Harinaam, fix a time for your bhajan so that nothing can disturb your schedule and you can be sure how much bhajan you have done today. If you find more time, then do more bhajan, but nothing should cause less bhajan. This is not easy. This is an austerity. But your determination will be appreciated and Krishna's mercy will melt and come to you. 

As sadhak engages in rigorous bhajan, mercy is attracted towards the sadhak. If the bhajan stops, mercy also stops. When the bhajan of the sadhak and mercy of Krishna meets, the sadhak is washed in true divine love of Krishna. That is called Purna Kripa (full mercy). Therefore, the sadhak must not lose hope. Krishna is Antaryami (one who resides in the heart and knows everything, including our thoughts). He will surely shower His mercy, but one needs to engage in bhajan with determination.

At first, this Nishtha will not come naturally. The sadhak must strive and toil to reach such a mind-set where he is not ready to abandon his bhajan whatever the circumstances in his life. It is only normal for the sadhak to feel disheartened when his mind does not stop wandering off. Sometimes the sadhak feels like watching television or mobile, visit his relatives or just wander around aimlessly because his mind is not ready to immerse itself in bhajan. The mind wants to do anything but bhajan! This is because the mind is full of material Samskaras and has believed that there is some happiness or 'entertainment' in watching the television or go out with your friends and family. 

It is just not accepting the fact that these are only what we think that give us happiness, but actually there is happiness only in Radha Krishna and their pastimes. The mind is not ready to accept these spiritual Samskaras. Sometimes the sadhak cries while chanting Harinaam, “Why I am not able to concentrate on Harinaam? My Samskaras are so bad! He Radharani, please shower your mercy on me!” Sometimes they feel very irritated and think that they must abandon bhajan and go somewhere else. But then again, they think “No, no, I will not go anywhere. I will cry and fight till the last breath, but I will not abandon bhajan. Whether my mind wanders or not, I will not wander off.” 

Radha Krishna see that this devotee is struggling with Maya but still trying to do bhajan. So, they shower their mercy. On practicing chanting of Harinaam and devotional services everyday, whether the mind likes it or not, you create spiritual Samskaras. Once these Samskaras are more powerful than the material ones, the mind will accept and take interest in devotion to Radha Krishna willingly and even yearn for it more and more.

There was a king in the Bankura district of Bengal. At that time, kings ruled their kingdoms and they used to fight each other to win over the other kingdom. The kings never had any peaceful life, contrary to the general belief. They were always worried about who might attack their kingdom and kill them. This was especially true for the smaller kingdoms and weaker kings.

At such a time, the king of Bankura, who was a devotee, told his ministers that he would engage in bhajan at a fixed time and nobody should call or disturb him in any way during that time. He had Nishtha in bhajan. The ministers were bound to obey him.

One enemy king sent his spy to find out when was the right time to attack his kingdom. The spy returned to report him the exact time the king would engage in bhajan and nobody could call him to retaliate against their army. Without the king, the ministers would be direction less and they could capture the kingdom easily.

So, the enemy king surrounded the kingdom and attacked. The ministers saw that their castle has been surrounded by the enemy army and they were trying to get in. Accordingly, they closed the entrances to the castle and tried to call their king once or twice. But no answer came from the locked doors of the king’s chambers. They were all very worried. What should they do? So, the sadhak must never lose hope and always try to increase his bhajan. One should make such a tight schedule of bhajan so that they don’t find any time for useless material talk or entertainment. Even if their mind wanders off, they must not find the time to engage in those activities which have nothing to do with the devotion of Radha Krishna. In this way, they will be able to ascend to the stage of Ruchi.

Just then they heard blasts from the rooftop of the castle as if someone was shooting cannonballs to destroy the enemy army. Everyone was puzzled. Who was firing the cannon? They were all clueless without the direction of the king and had not done anything. After a long time, the king emerged from his chambers. He had heard the firing of the cannon at the rooftop. He asked them “Who fought the war? Who fired the cannon?” “We don’t know, your majesty. We were all clueless and expecting your directions, when suddenly we heard the cannon firing.” the ministers said. The king saw that the ground around the castle was covered with dead bodies of the enemy army and the rest of them had run away. 

He ran to the temple of Madan Mohan in his castle and opened the inner chamber. All the Sringaar (adornment and make-up) he had done that morning was missing, the hair of Madan Mohan was dishevelled, his clothes burnt in places and his face & hands were black with soot. Madan Mohan himself had fought the war! This is the result of Nishtha. The devotee thinks of Radha Krishna and They think about the devotee. This is a true story of this Kali yuga itself. The sadhak must never abandon his Nishtha.

“Ek anga saadhe kinba saadhe bahu anga,
Nishtha hoile upjoye premer taranga.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.22.134)

Meaning: Mahaprabhu says that whether a devotee engages in only one of the nine forms of Bhakti or several of them, when the sadhak develops Nishtha in that form of Bhakti, he starts experiencing waves of the divine love of Radha Krishna.

There are nine main forms of Bhakti: 

  1. Shravan (listening to scriptures and pastimes of Radha Krishna), 
  2. Kirtan (chanting or singing of Harinaam and the divine qualities of Radha Krishna), 
  3. Smaran (contemplation of Harinaam and pastimes of Radha Krishna), 
  4. Padaseva (serving the Lotus feet of Guru and Radha Krishna), 
  5. Archana (performing pooja with flowers and tulsi leaves and arati), 
  6. Vandana (prostrating before the deity), 
  7. Dasya (serving the deity), 
  8. Sakhya (entertaining and playing with the deity), and 
  9. Atma nivedan (surrendering yourself to Radha Krishna).
So, the sadhak must never lose hope and always try to increase his bhajan. One should make such a tight schedule of bhajan so that they don’t find any time for useless material talk or entertainment. Even if their mind wanders off, they must not find the time to engage in those activities which have nothing to do with the devotion of Radha Krishna. In this way, they will be able to ascend to the stage of Ruchi.


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