Question: Is ajñāta-sukṛti a real or only a psychological term?
Answer: There is no such thing as ajñāta-sukṛti. Bhakti comes by the mercy of Bhagavān and His devotee. And it is not that you make somebody do something by controlling him or tricking him and then he will become a devotee or make advancement by that act. This is just to convince people to go and preach or collect money or whatever from others.
Question: So in reality it is just a psychological fiction?
Answer: There is nothing like ajñāta-sukṛti or some other act which can bring one to devotion. Bhakti is niṣkāma. It is based on knowledge and proper understanding. You cannot make somebody do something in ignorance and that will give him bhakti. This does not happen.
Question: What does niṣkāma mean in this connection?
Answer: It means that devotion does not come by some materialistic activity or by something that you do with a material desire. Bhakti is free from all material desires. By purchasing a religious book, a person is not performing an act of devotion.
Question: In Bhakti Sandarbha, there is a description of svarūpa-siddha-bhakti that explains that a person can even do svarūpa-siddha-bhakti unknowingly, like in the example of Prahlāda Maharāja.
Answer: That is not ajñāta-sukṛti. Bhakti comes by the mercy of a devotee. Prahlāda got this mercy while he was in the womb of his mother. There is no such thing as ajñāta-sukṛti.
Question: So all these stories cited in the Bhakti Sandarbha, like the tiger eating the man who had eaten prasāda and received benefit, what are they about?
Answer: These are devotional activities. Those [other] stories are there to show the power of devotional activity. They do not form part of ajñāta-sukṛti. There is no such term as ajñāta-sukṛti.
Question: Then it is altogether an invented term?
Answer: Yes, I do not know who invented it. Bhakti is directly experienced. If there is something like ajñāta-sukṛti that leads to bhakti, then there must be examples of that also. If you just say, “He is going to get it in the next life,” then that is no evidence. How do you know?
Question: If I understand it properly, a person who does a devotional activity which is svarūpa-siddha-bhakti, experiences the effect immediately.
Answer: Yes, he does, if the effect is not covered by offense. People also say, “If you take a bath in Rādhā-kuṇḍa, you will get kṛṣṇa-prema.” But who is getting it? If you are not getting it, then there must be something wrong.
Question: In that case, is it covered by an offense?
Answer: Yes. It does not mean that you are going to get it in the next life. You should experience it now. Bhakti gives direct experience. It is not like karma where you do some pious act now and you get the result in your next life. You believe this, but have no experience of it in this life. In the case of bhakti, whatever you will get, you will realize now, in this life.