Even Untouchables Have the Right to Perform Bhakti (If They Have Shraddha)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

(From "Bhakti Tattva Viveka" - click to read more from it.
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The conclusion is that every human being has the right to perform bhakti.

Brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, shudras and antyajas (untouchables), grihastas, brahmacaris, vanaprasthas and sannyasis — all of them can be qualified for bhakti if they have shraddha in the injunctions of the scriptures and the instructions of the sadhu and guru.

Either an educated person through the study of the scriptures or an uneducated person through hearing the principles of the scriptures in the association of devotees is said to have developed shraddha when he realises the supremacy of bhakti as described in the scriptures.

Alternatively, if one develops lobhamayi-shraddha by continually hearing the narrations of Bhagavan’s pastimes in the association of devotees while desiring to follow in the footsteps of the ragatmika devotees of Vraja, then it can be said that he has acquired the adhikara to perform shuddha-bhakti.

The adhikara for shuddha-bhakti cannot be achieved by the processes of jnana, vairagya, philosophical analysis, religious discussion, self-control or meditation.

Despite receiving sampradayika-diksha or initiation into a bona fide disciplic succession one cannot enter into the previously discussed uttama-bhakti until he becomes an uttama-adhikari.

Until that time one’s bhakti can be said to be bhakti-abhasa.

There is great necessity to strive for the stage of uttama-adhikari.

This is possible only when one engages in sravana and kirtana in the association of devotees.

We should never think that one becomes an uttama-adhikari simply by diligently practicing sravana and kirtana and then displaying the symptoms of shedding tears, trembling and dancing, because these symptoms can also manifest in bhakti-abhasa.

Whatever little softening of the heart and determination to realise one’s inherent identity which are visible in the beginning stages of shuddha-bhakti are far superior to the display of symptoms such as falling unconscious and so on which arise as a result of pursuing the path of bhakti-abhasa.

Therefore, we should strive to attain shuddha-bhakti with the utmost care.

We should make a special effort to pursue the proper method to attain the qualification for bhakti; otherwise there is no possibility of attaining the eternal association of Bhagavan.

Vishva-Vaisnava dasa puts forward the following verses:

shraddha lobhatmaka ya sa vishvasa-rupini yada

jayate ’tra tada bhaktau nrimatrasyadhikarita (1)

na sankhyam na ca vairagyam na dharmo na bahujnata

kevalam sadhu-sango ’yam hetuh shraddhodaye dhruvam (2)

sravanadi-vidhanena sadhu-sanga-balena ca

anarthapagame shighram shraddha nishthatmika bhavet (3)

nishthapi rucitam prapta shuddha-bhaktyadhikaritam

dadati sadhake nityam esha pratha sanatano (4)

asat-sango ’thava bhaktav aparadhe krite sati

shraddhapi vilayam yati katham syac chuddha-bhaktata (5)

atah shraddhavata karyam savadhanam phalaptaye

anyatha na bhaved bhaktih shraddha prema-phalatmika (6)

When shraddha which is based either on faith in the injunctions of the scriptures or on greed to follow in the footsteps of a ragatmika-bhakta appears in the heart, a person attains the adhikara for shuddha-bhakti.

Sankhya, vairagya, varnasrama-dharma or becoming a scholar do not cause the appearance of shraddha.

The sole cause of the appearance of shraddha is the association of a sadhu who has deep love for the narrations of Krsna’s pastimes.

When shraddha appears, one becomes a kanishtha-adhikari.

When one executes the limbs of sadhana-bhakti such as sravana, and when by the influence of sadhu-sanga one becomes free from anarthas and his shraddha becomes dense and transforms into nishtha, one develops the madhyama-adhikara or intermediate qualification for shuddha-bhakti.

By the further pursuance of the activities of sadhana-bhakti such as sravana and by the influence of associating with devotees who are more advanced than oneself, one’s nishtha intensifies and assumes the form of ruci.

The sadhaka within whom such ruci has developed is called an uttama-adhikari.

Only such an uttama-adhikari attains shuddha-bhakti.

This is the eternal process for the attainment of shuddha-bhakti.

But if during the execution of this gradual process of sadhana one keeps the bad association of those who are attached to sense pleasure or those attached to an impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth, or if one disrespects a pure devotee or commits any other offence to him, shraddha at the kanishtha level as well as that at the madhyama level will dry up from its very root and the sadhaka will be unable to achieve shuddha-bhakti.

In such a condition the sadhaka is either entangled in chaya-bhakti-abhasa or, in the case of committing numerous offences, even glides down into pratibimba-bhakti-abhasa.

Therefore, until one attains the stage of uttama-adhikara, the faithful and sincere sadhaka should remain extremely careful.

Otherwise it will be very difficult to achieve shuddha-bhakti which ultimately bears the fruit of prema.

Sri-krsnarpanam astu — may this treatise be an offering unto Sri Krsna.

Another revelation, . Check out the previous page too: . You will benefit from reading the whole work: Bhakti Tattva Viveka.

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Natural Brotherhood (Bhaktivinoda Thakura):

BhaktiVinoda Thakura

"Gradually, when the offensive portions of the established religions are destroyed, there will be no more differences in the bhajana performed by the various Sampradayas nor any quarrel between them.

Then as brothers, the people of all castes and countries will spontaneously chant the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord together.

At that time, no one will hate anyone or consider others dogeaters; nor will anyone be overwhelmed by the pride of high birth.

The living entities will not forget the principle of natural brotherhood."

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