Bhakti is independent and not present in swarupa of Jiva.

It is a statement from many devotees that Bhakti is inherently present in the swarupa of Jiva. But it is not like that . Bhakti is independent and is bestowed as mercy from the devotees of Lord.The topic of independence of Bhakti is elaborately described By  Srila Vishwanath Chakrabarty Thakura in Madhurya Kadambini and Srila Jiva Goswami in Priti Sandarbha as  stated below. Both are one of the most prominent acharyas of our Gaudiya Sampradaya- One of the  four authenticated sampradaya as stated in Padma Purana. The verdict given by these acharyas are fully in accordence to sastras and cannot be challanged by anyone.

Srila Vishwanath Chakrabarty Thakura in Madhurya Kadambini discusses this topic  in an elaborate manner :-
“The self-manifesting eternal energy of the Lord, bhakti, being nondifferent from the Lord‚ is not dependent on any other cause. Srimad-Bhagavata (1.2.6) describes the independent appearance of bhakti, “Devotional service to Lord Adhoksaja, who is beyond the senses of all human beings, is the best of all religions because such devotion is causeless and uninterrupted by obstacles.” Similarly, the words of the Lord, “by chance if one attains faith in hearing My glories,” “by chance if one attains bhakti,” “by chance if bhakti manifests” refer to the Lord’s independent will. The word yadriccha means independent will. The dictionary also mentions yadriccha as spontaneous or self-will.”

“Some describe the word yadriccha as by good fortune. If this is accepted, then one may ask whether this good fortune arises from pious activities or not? If we accept pious activities as the cause of such good fortune, then it is dependent on good deeds and loses its self-manifesting nature. If pious activities are not the cause of good fortune, then again the cause remains unknown. The cause of fortune being unknown, how can we accept that it causes bhakti? By logic, a fact that is itself unproven is unable to prove another fact. If the Lord’s mercy is accepted as the cause of bhakti, one may again ask about the cause of that mercy. Inquiring more and more about the cause of the Lord’s mercy, one is unable to come to a conclusion and the fact remains unproven. If, however, one says that the causeless mercy of the Lord is the cause of the bhakti, then it should be seen equally bestowed to all. Since this is not seen, it would imply the fault of partiality in the Lord. The partiality seen in the Lord in punishing the demons and maintaining His devotees is not a fault, but an ornament. The Lord’s affection for His devotees is supreme, ruling over all His other qualities like a universal emperor. This will be discussed in detail in the eighth shower of this book.”

Again he states:-
“If the causeless mercy of the devotee is accepted as the cause of bhakti, then again the question arises of partiality on the part of the devotee. Srimad-Bhagavata (11.3.46), however, accepts this partiality as the natural characteristic of the madhyama-bhakta. This verse says that he shows love for the Lord, friendship for the devotees, mercy to the ignorant, and negligence of those who hate the devotees. Partiality thus exists in the madhyama devotee. Moreover, the Lord is always under the control of His devotees. His mercy follows the mercy of His devotees. There is no impropriety in this fact. Bhakti residing in the devotee’s heart is the main cause of his bestowing mercy to others. Other than bhakti, there is no cause for the appearance of mercy. This shows the self-manifest status of bhakti.”

“In the text, “If one attains faith in the service of the Lord by some great fortune,” some great fortune specifically refers to the mercy of a devotee, which surpasses the fortune arising from pious activities. One may say that a devotee is also under the control of the Lord, then how is the appearance of devotee’s mercy possible without the Lord’s will or inspiration? The Lord Himself, by accepting the control of His devotees and by bestowing His kripa-sakti upon them, gives superiority to His devotees. Although the Lord as Paramatma, the Supersoul, oversees the activities of the jivas’ external senses according to their fate, still the Lord bestows His own mercy on the devotees under His control. The Lord says in the Gita, “By My mercy, My devotees attain supreme peace, which exists within My svarupa.” Here mercy refers to His kripa-sakti that he bestows on His devotees. This was previously explained.”

Next he states:-
“It is known from hundreds of forms of evidence like, “The Lord’s appearance and activities are completely by His own will,” that the Lord appears in this universe by His own independent will. Superficially, He appears to relieve the burden of the earth. Similarly, niskama-karma, activities without desire for any fruits can sometimes be considered as the door to bhakti. There is no harm in such consideration, but Srimad-Bhagavata (11.12.9) says: “Although one engages himself with great effort in mystic yoga, sankhya-yoga, charity, vows, chanting, sacrifices, describing sastras, studying the Vedas, or renunciation, still one cannot achieve bhakti.” Here it is clear that charity, vows, and other pious activities cannot be the cause for attaining bhakti. But in another verse (S.B. 10.42.24) it says: “Bhakti to the Lord is attained by various auspicious activities like charity, vows, austerities, sacrifices, chanting, study of the Vedas, control of the senses, and so forth.” In this text, bhakti refers to jnananga-bhuta-sattviki-bhakti, the practice of intellectual spiritual realisation to attain liberation with the help of bhakti in the mode of goodness. In this case, bhakti is considered a part of intellectual spiritual realisation. This bhakti is different from premanga-bhuta-nirguna-bhakti, the practice of pure devotion free from three modes of material nature to attain divine love. Some also explain that the word dana in this sloka refers to charity for Visnu and the Vaisnavas, vrata refers to Ekadasi, Janmastami, and others, and tapasya refers to austerities to attain the Lord. Then they are different parts of sadhana-bhakti. Thus prema-bhakti is attained by devotional practice (sadhana). It is said in Srimad-Bhagavata (11.3.31) that sadhana-bhakti is the cause of sadhya-bhakti. The causeless nature of bhakti is thus proved and all arguments are properly clarified.”

The superiority of Bhakti over other process is explained below by Srila Vishwanath Chakrabarty Thakura while referring to sastric conclusions:-

“O all-pervading Lord! Those who have left bhakti-yoga, the path for attaining all auspiciousness . . .” “What is the use of one’s engagement in dharma without devotion . . .” “In the past many yogis finally took shelter of bhakti . . .” From these references from the Bhagavata and from many other references, it can be understood that jnanis, karmis, and yogis completely depend on bhakti for attaining perfection in their respective paths. Bhakti, however, is never even minutely dependent on them to achieve its perfection, prema. Rather, the following statements say, “Jnana (intellectual spiritual realisation) and vairagya (detachment from the world) are not generally beneficial for the practice of bhakti.” (Bhagavata 10.20.31) “One who only worships Me, giving up all kinds of other activities is the best among sadhus.” (Bhagavata 11.11.32) From the above references it can be clearly understood that bhakti is completely independent. The paths of jnana, karma, yoga, however, can give perfection only with the help of bhakti. Bhakti does not depend even slightly on anything else to give the respective fruits to the path of karma, jnana, and yoga. Thus sastras say, “All the fruits attained by performing sacrifices, austerities, intellectual spiritual realisation, and detachment from the world can be easily attained by My devotee by bhakti-yoga alone.” Indeed, the scriptures say that such fruits are useless for persons not engaged in devotion, “Without any devotion to the Lord, birth in a high family, sastric knowledge, chanting mantras, and doing austerities, all become as useless as decorating a dead body with clothes and ornaments.” As the body is maintained by the soul, austerities, chanting, and so forth are also under the control of most worshipable Bhakti-devi. Moreover, the sastras state that practice of karma-yoga depends on time, place, candidate, materials, purity, and so on. This is not the case with bhakti, “O hunter! In doing nama-sankirtana there is no dependence on time or place. Even those in a state of impurity are not restricted from chanting it.” Bhakti is famous for its complete independence, “O best in the family of Bhrigu, the name of Krisna even chanted once, with either faith or negligence, can deliver any person.”

Sri Krisna also says to Uddhava:
yadricchaya mat-kathadau jata-sraddhas tu ya puman
na nirvinno nati-sakto bhakti-yogo ’sya siddhi-da
“If someone, by chance, attains faith in hearing my glories, but is neither completely detached from nor too much attached to sense gratification, then he can attain perfection by practicing bhakti-yoga.” (Srimad-Bhagavata 11.20.8).
Sri Krishna again says to Uddhava:
asmil loke vartamana sva-dharma-stho’nagha suci
jnana visuddha apnoti mad-bhakti va yadricchaya
“A sinless person with a pure heart performing actions without desiring the fruit can attain spiritual knowledge and somehow achieve my devotion.” (Srimad-Bhagavata 11.20.11) In this text and others like it, yadricchayaivopacita: “if by chance one attains bhakti,” the word yadriccha means by independent will.

Srimat Jiva Gosvami specifically describes the svarupa of bhakti in Priti-sandarbha (65):
“Srutis say bhakti brings one near to the Lord, bhakti makes one see the Lord, bhakti brings the Lord under her control, bhakti is the supreme path for attaining the Lord.” The point to be considered here is, what is the specific quality of bhakti that overwhelms even the Lord with bliss? One cannot consider bhakti to have material nature and material bliss as the sankhya philosophers do. According to the srutis the self-satisfied Lord cannot be attracted by any material object, nor can one consider bhakti as the svarupananda, or the bliss existing in the eternal form of the Lord, as accepted by the non-personalists. The Lord enjoys the bliss derived from bhakti (bhaktyananda) more than the bliss arising from his own svarupa (svarupananda). Nor can one consider bhakti as the bliss existing in the eternal form of the jiva since the bliss of jivananda is extremely minute. It is thus unable to overwhelm the Lord. The Visnu Purana (1.12.69) says, “The three eternal energies, namely, hladini, sandhini and samvit exist in the svarupa of Bhagavan, the possessor of all energies. O Lord! Being completely free from the three modes of nature, the material modes namely, happiness (sattviki), misery (tamasi), and the mixture of both (rajasi) do not exist in Your svarupa.” This text clearly suggests that bhakti is neither svarupananda nor jivananda. The only bliss which thus remains is that arising from the hladini-sakti of the Lord (svarupa-saktyananda). It is this hladini-sakti only that overwhelms the Lord with ecstasy. By this sakti the Lord Himself attains bliss and bestows bliss to his devotees. One may argue that since the svarupa-sakti always exists within the svarupa of the Lord Himself, then how can the Lord be overwhelmed by His own sakti? To clear this doubt one can take the help of arthapatti evidence, inference from the circumstances. A phenomenon appearing contradictory, though its effects are being observed, can only be proven by arthapatti. Although it is impossible for hladini to give more bliss to the Lord than the bliss existing in His own form, still He is getting more bliss from her.This contradiction can be solved by arthapatti. For instance, a man named Devadatta does not eat during daytime, still he is fat. According to arthapatti one has to accept that he may eat during the nighttime. Similarly, by arthapatti one must accept no one can give bliss to the Lord other than the hladini-sakti, but still He gets bliss that He cannot get from her. According to arthapatti pramana she is giving Him bliss in another form, just as must be assumed that Devadatta is eating at night. The supremely blissful state of hladini that exists in the devotees is known as bhagavat-priti, or divine prema. The Lord can also experience this within His devotees and thus the Lord and His devotees become attached to each other.”

Chaitanya Charitamrita is also full of similar statements :

” KrsnaBhakti janmamula haya sadhusanga ” And “Mahatkripa bina kono karme bhakti noy” (c.c)

Meaning-“Krishna bhakti is born due to associating with pure devotees” AND “There is no way to gain bhakti other than the mercy of pure devotees

“brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krishna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija” (C.C)
Meaning -“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”


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