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Eighth Stage of Bhakti | Bhav Bhakti (Part 2) | Sri Vinod Babaji Maharaj

A sadhak must never lose motivation and harbour despair irrespective of any circumstances. If he thinks that “I left everything for the sake of bhajan but couldn’t find any bliss here and on the other hand, people living in samsaar are at least happy with their families or various pleasures despite facing some problems, therefore, it’s better to go back to samsaar,” then he will never find the bliss awaiting him on the purification of his heart. The sadhak must think that one day, Radha Krishna will definitely bestow Their mercy on him and he will find the bliss of serving Them with loving devotion.

For example, a magnet which is covered with dirt cannot attract a piece of iron. In order to attract iron instantly, the dirt has to be cleaned properly. Similarly, a jivatma has forgotten Sri Bhagwan due to the illusory Maya and his heart has become contaminated by worldly desires. He doesn’t realize that the bliss he seeks in worldly things and relationships is actually the blissful form of Sri Bhagwan. Since the jivatma is a part and parcel of Him and He is omnipresent everywhere, His blissful form attracts the jivatma constantly. However, he mistakenly thinks that he has found bliss in worldly things and relationships.

He is deceived constantly and he never finds the bliss he seeks. In this way, the jivatma keeps taking birth in various forms and dies again, constantly seeking bliss in illusory Maya. This continues until he realizes that the bliss, he seeks can be achieved only at the lotus feet of Sri Bhagwan. This is why we need to follow in the footsteps of the Acharyas of Bhakti. If a small child doesn’t hold his mother’s hand, he will never reach his home and fall prey to evil allurements. Similarly, we need to take shelter at the lotus feet of our Acharyas of Bhakti and follow their path. Then we will definitely reach the eternal blissful state by serving Radha Krishna with loving devotion, just like our Acharyas.

We have discussed the stages of Bhakti until Asakti Dasha, where the sadhak tries to perform devotional services (sadhan chesta) in accordance with the scriptures. But after he enters into Bhav Bhakti, he is not able to do bhajan or any devotional service through his body. This is because his mind gets so immersed in the contemplation of Radha Krishna that whenever he closes his eyes, he sees Radha Krishna standing in front of him. Whenever he walks on the road, he sees divine Kunjas and Nikunjas. He always gets glimpses of Their pastimes in Sphurti (a divine vision). Sometimes, he laughs, cries or runs for no apparent reason and at other times, he sits silently in the forest. At this stage, the sadhak’s mind is busy in divine revelations and he cannot focus on the body, he is absolutely unable to follow any rules and instructions of the scriptures.

He is neither able to do any Japa nor able to follow any rules of cleanliness. In morning, he wakes up and chants Harinaam according to his daily routine but his mind gets so immersed in Harinaam that he remains seated in the same position until evening. When he comes out of his contemplation and becomes aware of his body, he thinks that it’s still morning and takes a bath. He is not able to keep track of the time of the day.

He tries to do bhajan habitually, according to the daily routine he has been following for years with determination. But he is not able to do so. He doesn’t realize that he has reached the stage of Bhav. He thinks, “I don’t perform any devotional services or rules of cleanliness. I can’t even remember when it is Ekadashi and often eat rice on Ekadashi. I have become a fraud and a trickster.” Who will keep track of days and fasts? Maybe someone gave him Radha Krishna's prasadam on Ekadashi. He felt a little hungry. So, he partook the prasadam. Then another person enlightened him that today is Ekadashi. He starts crying and repenting, “Alas! I am such a big fraud!”

I have seen my Gurudev (Shri Tinkodi Goswami Maharaj) in this kind of state. One day at midnight, he said, “I need to go to relieve my bowels.” I said, “Let’s go, Gurudev.” I accompanied him to the forest to aid him. When he returned to his Asana, he took Mauna and signalled me to give him the Achmani (a small vessel to hold water for sanctity purposes during devotional services). I understood that Baba is thinking that it’s morning and he has come back to the Asana after bathing. That is why he took Mauna and wants to start bhajan. I said, “Baba, you want to do bhajan now? It is 12 a.m. in the middle of the night!” He was surprised. “Oh? It is 12 a.m.? Midnight? Alright, then, let me lay down.” He had no consciousness of day and night.

(Another instance) Baba was sitting on his Asana. Whenever I deemed it appropriate, I used to ask him if he had any kind of discomfort or needed something. That day, Baba said, “Vinod, I can’t see anything.” I became very worried. Did Baba become blind? But when I take him for relieving his bowels or to urinate, he walks perfectly on his own and has no problem seeing the path. But sometimes, when he is sitting on the Asana, he says he can’t see anything. 

After watching Baba for a few days, I realized that Baba actually had his eyes closed while seated on the Asana. I understood that he was so immersed in the contemplation of Radha Krishna that he barely had awareness of his body and he didn’t realize that his eyes are closed. Therefore, I opened his eyelids up with my fingers and asked him whether he could see now. Smiling, Baba said, “Yes, now I can see.”

In this way, the sadhak of the stage of Bhav Bhakti is hardly aware of his body. In Sphurti, he always sees himself as a Manjari (or the respective forms of sadhaks with different moods of Vraja Prem) and serves Radha Krishna in that form. He is always immersed in that mood and is extremely detached from the body and material world. Only sometimes he becomes aware of his material existence.

One day, while visiting Navadwip Dham, many devotees came to meet him. At midnight, the devotees wanted to go home. So, they said to me, “Please ask Baba to lay down. While he is seated, we don’t feel it appropriate to get up and go.” So, I asked Baba to lay down. Baba said, indignantly, “Since when did I start sleeping in the daytime?” I said, “Baba, it is midnight. Please lay down.” Baba became surprised. “What? It is midnight? Alright, then, let me lay down.”

At the stage of Bhav, the sadhak doesn’t even remember whether he has the Japamala in his hand or not. But due to the habit of chanting on Japamala, he thinks that the Japamala is in his hand. He keeps sliding the imaginary beads of his imaginary Japamala, while his mind is immersed in Harinaam and Radha Krishna’s pastimes. My Gurudev used to do Japa like this. If I asked him to partake prasadam, he would show me his imaginary Japamala and nod – means he would partake the prasadam on completion of the round. But how will the round ever come to an end? There is no Japamala, hence no Sumeru bead (the bead in the centre of the Japamala that is never counted or crossed).

I thought, ‘This is also a problem. I am waiting since an hour, but the round will never come to an end since there is no Sumeru bead.’ I had to devise a solution. I held Baba's right hand in which he was holding his imaginary Japamala and said, “Baba, here, here. The Sumeru has come.” I took his hand to the side and acted as if I have taken the Japamala off his hand. Then, Baba was ready to partake prasadam. He could not eat himself at that time because he was barely aware of his body. I had to feed him. He would spit in all directions. Sometimes, his spit would fall on his clothes. He could not follow any rules of cleanliness in that state.

This is why most people cannot understand the behaviour of the sadhaks of the stage of Bhav Bhakti. Different people give different opinions on him. Good-natured people, who don’t try to find faults in others, say, “Someone must have tried to harm him because of enmity. They must have given him mind-altering psychoactive substances in food. He was doing bhajan perfectly well. But now, he has lost his mind.” 

Those who used to find faults in others say, “He must have committed many sins and Vaishnav Aparadhas, and hence, has lost his mind. Someone will say one day, I was passing by him and greeted him Radhe Shyam, but he didn’t even bother to reply. He walked off looking at the sky.” In reality, the sadhak was immersed in his divine mood. But people think that he is either mad or arrogant.

Some people think he has developed mental illnesses and he must be taken to a psychiatrist. Someone even takes him to the doctor forcibly, who does not understand what is wrong with him. At that time, the sadhak runs away from the locality and stays in the forest or some secluded place.

A similar instance is seen in the pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, although His level of Bhakti was much higher than Bhav Bhakti. When He returned from Gaya, He used to exhibit characteristics of divine love.  He would sing kirtan, dance, roar in ecstasy and sometimes, look towards the sky with widened eyes. Mother Sachi became very worried and called various Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor). One Vaidya asked to apply Narayan oil (herb infused oils) on His scalp, while another suggested some other oil. Yet another Vaidya said He must be given coconut water daily since His Vayu (air element in body, according to Ayurveda) has become hot.

All the Vaidyas agreed on only one thing – Nimai Pandit (Mahaprabhu) has developed symptoms of madness (called ‘Bayi’ in Bengali). They said that He should not be let out of his room or under the sun. Vaidyas gave Him many herbs and medicines but there was no improvement, whatsoever. They were unable to determine what was wrong with Him.

When a single ray of Prem touches the sadhak, he becomes totally detached from the body and the material existence. He becomes mad with ecstasy and does strange actions, while his mind remains immersed in divine mood. The eight ecstatic qualities i.e., Ashru (crying), Kampa (shivering), Pulak (goosebumps), Shwed (perspire), Vaivarnya (change of body colour), Swarabhed (faltering of voice), Stambha (hypnotized state) and Pralay (a state of unconsciousness where even the heartbeat is not found) – adorn the sadhak in Prem dasha. The sadhak rolls on ground in ecstasy. Who would not call them mad?

Mother Sachi called Shri Srivas Pandit to have a look at Nimai since he was an elderly and wise brahmin in Navadwip. He was a great Vaishnav. When he came to Nimai's house, he saw He has developed the ecstatic qualities of Krishna Prem Bhakti. Such qualities are priceless and extremely rare to find in a human being. Glories to Nimai Pandit! He is blessed!

Nimai Pandit asked him, “What do you think, Pandit?” Srivas Pandit replied, “I want such symptoms of madness as you.”

“Hasi bale Srivas-pandit ‘bhalo bayi!

Tomar je mata bayi, taha ami chayi.

Maha Bhakti yoga dekhi tomar sharire,

Sri Krishnera anugraha haila tomare.

Eteka sunila yadi Srivasera mukhe,

Srivasere alingan kaila bada sukhe.

Sabhe bale Vayu, sabe ashamsila tumi,

Aji bada krita kritya hailana ami.

Yadi tumi Vayu-hena balita amare,

Praveshitam aji muni Gangaro bhitare.”

(Chaitanya Bhagvat 3.2.113-117)

Meaning: Shri Srivas Pandit said, “Your madness is good! If I could contract this kind of madness, I would be grateful. I see the qualities of an extremely high stage of Bhakti in you. Sri Krishna has bestowed His mercy upon you.” When Nimai Pandit heard this from Srivas Pandit, He immediately embraced him with high pleasure. He said, “everyone says I have developed the symptoms of madness. Only you consoled me by recognizing these as qualities of Bhakti. I am very much grateful to you. If you too had said I am mad, I would have jumped into Ganga (to end His earthly pastimes) today itself.”

The advent of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was not to exhibit His identity as the Supreme Godhead, but rather as a devotee. His pastimes are very secretive and mysterious. Therefore, in most instances, He playfully acts like a normal human being to hide His identity. He says to Srivas Pandit that He was grievous when everyone said He had developed the symptoms of madness. He had come down from Goloka to give Prem Bhakti to all. If no one could understand the transcendental qualities of a devotee of the Prem dasha, what was the point of continuing His pastimes on Earth? He had thought that if Srivas Pandit also said the same, He would jump into the river of Ganga and go back to Goloka. But when Srivas Pandit told Him that He was not mad, but developed the ecstatic qualities of Prem Bhakti, he was grateful and relieved.

Bhav Bhakti is like the first ray of light before the Sun of Prem Bhakti fully rises. This stage of Bhakti is rarely achieved by a sadhak. So, how can laymen recognize the symptoms of Bhav dasha?! Only those who have tasted even a drop of divine bliss can understand that the sadhak of the stage of Bhav Bhakti has achieved an extremely precious and priceless feat. They praise him from the depths of their hearts and feel grateful on applying the dust of his lotus feet to their foreheads.


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