concepts

The qualification for vaidhī sādhanā bhakti

In kārikā 1.2.9, Rupa Goswami writes that vaidhī bhakti is the duty of everyone in varṇāśrama :

इति असौ स्याद् विधिर् नित्यौ सर्व-वर्णाश्रमादिषु|

नित्यत्वेSपि अस्य निर्णितम् एकादश्यादिवत् फलम्||

This vidhi (vaidhī bhakti) is a compulsory or regular activity (nitya) for all varṇas and āśramas. Even though it is nitya, it yields a fruit, similar to ekādaśi etc.

[The fruit of nitya activities is not generally stated, but they do yield a result. For example, one possible fruit of performing nitya karma activities is svarga1. Similarly, bhakti yields a result or fruit.]

It may be surprising then to find later, that Rupa Goswami defines the qualification (अधिकार) required to execute vaidhī bhakti. If bhakti is for everyone, it seems contrary that bhakti also demands a qualification. This can be understood by analogy- if we go to a market, things for sale are for everyone. No one is barred from buying them. But if one has no money, one cannot buy anything. Similarly, bhakti is for everyone but performing bhakti requires qualification. Rupa Goswami writes:

यः केनापि अतिभाग्येन जातश्रद्धोSस्य सेवने|

नातिसक्तो न वैराग्य-भाग् अस्याम् अधिकारि असौ||

yaḥ kenāpy atibhāgyena jātaśraddho’sya sevane

nātisakto na vairāgya-bhāg asyām adhikāri asau

That person is qualified for this bhakti who, by some great good fortune, has developed faith in serving Him [Kṛṣṇa], and is neither too attached nor too detached.

Note that this qualification is specifically for vaidhī bhakti. Rupa Goswami will state a different qualification for rāgānugā bhakti later.

Jiva Goswami glosses atibhāgyena jātaśraddho = mahat-saṅgādi-jāta-saṁskāra-viśeṣeṇa. That is, the good fortune is meeting a great devotee. On account of that contact, one develops śraddhā which Jiva explains is a special type of saṁskāra- memory stored on our hard disk– the citta. The stored memory acts as a program, moving us toward performing bhakti.

We acquire saṁskāras everyday through our interactions with others, and so we have certain concepts of right and wrong, and we act in certain ways. Kṛṣṇa says this in the Gita: यो यत् श्रद्धः स एव सः| There He says that śraddhā is of three types – sattva, rajas and tamas, and people act according to their predominant guṇa.

The above verse, however, refers to a different type of śraddhā. Jiva Goswami will define śraddhā later as शास्त्रार्थे विश्वासः – faith in the meaning of scripture.

This makes sense, because vaidhī bhakti is performed only because of injunctions of scripture. If one has not come in contact with a devotee and scripture, one cannot develop śraddhā for bhakti.

Another important qualification in the above verse is that one should neither be overly attached nor overly detached. If we have extremely deep attachment to some material object or some person, then even if we have śraddhā in bhakti, we may not be able to perform bhakti because of our material distractions. Conversely, if we are too renounced, we wont be able to perform bhakti which requires articles for executing bhakti. There should be some renunciation so that we can free ourselves from material distractions, and there should be not be too much attachment.

If one is too attached, one is qualified for karma yoga, while if one is too detached, one is qualified for jñāna yoga.

Interestingly, Rupa Goswami uses the word यदृच्छया – a word which is commonly used in the Bhagavatam- to indicate that:

the qualification for bhakti comes of its own accord.

The qualification for bhakti does not develop because of some good qualities in a person- although it is common to hear such statements. The qualification occurs purely by grace of a devotee and Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, if one is qualified for vaidhī bhakti, it is not one’s own credit. Similarly, disqualification is not due to one’s own demerit.

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