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Seventh Stage of Bhakti | Asakti Dasha (Part 1) | Sri Vinod Babaji Maharaj


Asakti is a very high stage of Bhakti and very rare devotees are able to reach here. Normally, a sadhak needs to force his mind out of the mundane talk and focus on contemplation of Radha Krishna. But in the Asakti stage, the sadhak’s mind gets naturally immersed in the contemplation of Radha Krishna and he has to force his mind back into the material realm to take care of mundane matters. For example, the sadhak is receiving a guest and while talking, his mind gets ‘distracted’ to the contemplation of Radha Krishna. Then he has to force his mind back to the conversation and he asks some questions to the effect – “Who is he? What does he do?” But before he could listen to the answers, his mind runs back to the contemplation of Radha Krishna.

The mind is the king of all senses. We cannot process the sensations of eyes, ears, tongue, etc or function with them without the help of mind. When our mind focuses on eyes, we process what our eyes see. When our mind focuses on the ears, we process what we hear. Then by the will of the mind, we direct our body parts (hands, legs, mouth, etc) to function. When this mind truly focuses on the contemplation of Radha Krishna, then question arises that who will process the sensations of the body? Who will direct the functioning of various body parts?

At that time, the sadhak is unable to perform even devotional services like worship (pooja), chanting (japa), divine services (sewa), etc. For example – A sadhak have a habit of performing devotional services daily wherein he offers Tulasi leaves on Radha Krishna's lotus feet, but in the stage of Askati, his mind wanders off to a pastime of Radha Krishna and he offers those Tulasi leaves on Their heads. Suddenly, he notices that while worshiping he had offered Tulasi leaves mistakenly on Radha Krishna's heads instead of Their lotus feet and he repents that he is a great fool who is unable to even offer Tulasi leaves to Radha Krishna properly.

Vaishnavas usually keep a track of the amount of Harinaam which they chant on daily basis (Niyam) on their Chanting beads (Japamala). They count the number of rounds chanted with the help of a counter bead (‘Sakshi’ / ‘Sankhya’ mala). During Asakti stage, the sadhak even forgets to count the number of rounds he has completed because his Japamala remains still in his hands, while his mind gets completely immersed in the bliss of Harinaam. 

Till before this stage, he had been following a certain routine of devotional services like specific number of rounds of Japamala, services like pooja, parikrama, etc., but in this stage, he is unable to complete his daily routine and he repents miserably because of it. (In the stage of Nishtha, the sadhak does not let anything create an obstacle in his bhajan. He follows his routine by completing his number of rounds of Japamala irrespective of anything. But in the Asakti stage, he is unable to continue this habit due to the natural immersion of mind in the contemplation of Radha Krishna).

Asakti is the last stage of Sadhan Bhakti (the extent of devotion that can be achieved through sadhak's own efforts). The goal of sadhana is to achieve complete immersion in the contemplation of Radha Krishna. All the devotional practices and services we perform are to achieve this goal. In the initial stage of sadhana, due to the impure state of one's heart, the sadhak performs all devotional practices externally. Harinaam, pooja, parikrama, everything is done physically, but the mind wanders in worldly matters. Why is the sadhak not able to perform them with loving devotion to Radha Krishna?

“Chitta shuddhir vina smaranam na bhavati” (Shrimad Bhagvatam)

Meaning: One cannot contemplate God without the purification of the heart.

But we are performing all kinds of devotional practices like satsanga, kirtan, Harinaam, etc for the purification of the heart. Why is it still impure?

“Vishaya aveshita chittanam Krishna bhaktir sudurlabha”

Meaning: The heart, which is attached to material desires, can never attain Krishna Bhakti. 

Due to the samskaras of innumerable births, it is only natural for the mind to wander off to worldly matters while performing devotional practices or contemplating Radha Krishna. This is not a fault of the sadhak. But as long as the mind is attached to material things, it cannot get completely immersed in contemplation of Radha Krishna. Therefore, through chanting Harinaam, associating with good devotees (sadhu-sang), doing bhajan in solitude and forcing the mind to contemplate Radha Krishna instead of mundane matters, the heart of the sadhak gets purified. Gradually, he is able to immerse his mind in the contemplation of Radha Krishna completely.

The attachment to worldly matters is called ‘the impure state of heart' and detachment to worldly matters is called ‘the purified state of heart'. The sadhak can reach the Asakti stage of Bhakti only when his heart is completely purified. In this stage, the sadhak likes to live in seclusion and on meeting people, feels like running away to a secluded place, where he can contemplate on Radha Krishna's pastimes. Meeting and interacting with people feel like poison to him. Earlier, he used to be happy on seeing his dear ones, but now, the same people seem like poison to him and he feels like running away from them. He becomes completely detached from worldly matters.

Another characteristic of the Asakti stage of Bhakti is that the sadhak seems a little abnormal to the layman. He creates fictitious tests to predict his fortune. For example, he thinks, “If this bird sitting on the tree flies away immediately, it must mean that Radha Krishna will shower mercy by giving him darshan today. However, if the bird stays on the tree, it must mean that Radha Krishna will not give darshan today.” If the bird flies away, he starts dancing and believes Radha Krishna will give darshan today. If the bird doesn’t fly away, he becomes sad and starts crying miserably. This is due to the immense desire of seeing Radha Krishna and serving Them lovingly.

At this time, the sadhak doesn’t care much about eating or sleeping. Sometimes, they keep sitting on the Asana for long hours, without a care about eating or any worldly matter. Sometimes, they keep walking, without knowing where they are going!

Once there was an aged saint (Babaji). He had attained the Asakti stage of Bhakti, but the disciples kept requesting him to visit their homes. Babaji didn’t want to go anywhere but on repetitive requests of his disciple, he let them take himself to their home in a different village. People were gathered in the disciple's home for his darshan. But Babaji stayed in a room, immersed in contemplation of Radha Krishna. 

One morning, suddenly, Babaji disappeared and his disciples started searching for him everywhere. As Babaji was aged, he could not go anywhere without someone’s help. Everyone wondered how he disappeared. Even till afternoon, nobody could find him anywhere. At last, someone suggested to check the toilets, in case something happened in the morning while he went to the toilet. When the disciples went to search in the toilet, they saw that the door of the toilet was not locked. When they opened the door, they saw that Babaji was sitting in the toilet and singing:

“Jago he Vrishabhanu nandini Mohan yuvaraje”

Meaning: O, the daughter of Vrishabhanu, Radha and prince Mohan, please wake up!

This kirtan is sung in the early morning to wake Radha Krishna. Tears were running down his cheeks and mucus from his nose. He was lost in this single moment of the divine pastimes of Radha Krishna from dawn till afternoon, without even remembering where he was seated!

This is the Asakti stage of Bhakti. This is a very high stage of Bhakti. The stages of Bhakti have been classified as Sadhan Bhakti, Bhav Bhakti and Prem Bhakti. From Shraddha till Asakti are the stages of Sadhan Bhakti, where the sadhak does bhajan through his will. Asakti is the ambit of Sadhan Bhakti, where the will of the sadhak finally dissolves and he gets completely immersed in the contemplation of Radha Krishna. In the stages after Asakti, the sadhak is barely conscious of his body. 

Imagine the stages of Bhakti like a fruit-bearing creeper and the respective stage could be well understood in the example given below:

  • In the stage of Nishtha, the creeper bears flowers.
  • In the stage of Ruchi, the creeper of Bhakti starts bearing a tiny, green and raw fruit.
  • In the stage of Asakti, the fruit grows to its full size.
  • In the stage of Bhava, the fruit ripens and changes colour.
  • In the stage of Prem, the fruit matures completely and falls from the creeper on its own. 

When the sadhak reaches the stage of Prem Bhakti, the bond between the Soul (Atma) and material identity snaps, and the sadhak breaks free from the cycle of birth and death.

The relation of every living being with God is eternal. Even if, anyone doesn’t believe in such relation or doesn’t have faith in God, it won’t impact that eternal relationship. The reason behind that eternal relation is the ‘Soul’ which is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of God. Any material body, whether of a human being or animal etc., would be considered dead if the soul leaves that body. Therefore, in the stages before Nishtha, even though the sadhak has 100% attachment to his body, he develops some devotion to Radha Krishna. 

Krishna priti eka desha vartini, sharir priti purna". 

Meaning: Devotion to Krishna is only 25% while there is 100% attachment to body. 

Accordingly, the attachment of Sadhak with his body as well as with Krishna in different stages of Bhakti can be understood as mentioned below: 

  • In the stages before Nishtha, the attachment with one’s body is 100%, while the devotion to Krishna is 25%,
  • In Nishtha stage, the bodily attachment reduces to 75%, while devotion to Krishna increases to 50%,
  • In Ruchi stage, the bodily attachment reduces to 50%, while devotion to Krishna increases to 75%,
  • In Asakti stage, the bodily attachment further reduces to 25%, while devotion to Krishna increases to 100%. 

This means that the sadhak is completely (100%) absorbed in the contemplation of Radha Krishna but he is barely carrying out his bodily activities (say 25%).

To be continued...


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