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Six Faults that destroy Bhakti



Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur

 1. Atyahara

   Overeating or too much collecting

In his Sri Upadesamrta, Srila Rupa Gosvami has written the following :

 atyaharah prayasas ca       

prajalpo niyamagrahah      

jana-sangas ca laulyam ca

sadbhir bhaktir vinasyati

 TRANSLATION   Ones devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) atyahara, eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) prayasa, overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) prajalpa, talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) niyamagraha, practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) jana-sanga, associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Krsna consciousness; and (6) laulyam, being greedy for mundane achievements.

It is most important to consider the deep  of this

. For anyone who wants to engage in pure devotional service, it is especially necessary to follow the instructions of this

. For one who neglects to follow these instructions, attaining devotion to Lord Hari is extremely rare. We are hereby elaborating the  of this

 for the benefit of those who have a strong desire to attain pure devotional service. In this

 six impediments to devotional service are mentioned atyahara, prayasa, prajalpa, niyamagraha, jana-sanga, and laulya. We will separately discuss each of these six items. In this small  only the  of the word atyahara is being discussed.

Many people may think that the word atyahara refers only to overeating, but this is not so. It is explained in the first

 of Upadesamrta

vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam       

ihva-vegam udaropastha-vegam

 etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah       

sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat 

TRANSLATION   A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the minds demands, the actions of anger, and the urges of the tongue, belly, and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.

In this regard, the urge of the tongue is the desire to taste foodstuffs. The urge of the stomach is the desire to overeat. If we understand the word atyahara in the second

 as overeating, the fault of repetition occurs in this condensed collection of essential instructions. Therefore it is the duty of the learned readers to find other s for the word atyahara as used by the most grave Rupa Gosvami.

Although bhojana, or eating, is the principle  of the word ahara        FAtyahara is a combination of ati, or much, and ahara, or eating or collecting., the word bhojana also means to enjoy the objects of the five senses. Form by the eyes, sound by the ears, smell by the nose, taste by the tongue, feeling of heat and cold, soft and hard by the touch in this way, the five senses enjoy. This type of material enjoyment is compulsory for an embodied soul. Without enjoying the sense objects, a living entity cannot survive. As soon as the living entity gives up sense enjoyment, he leaves his body. Therefore, giving up sense enjoyment is only a figment of the imagination, it can never be applied in practice.

2.  Prayasa 


If prayasa is not given up, devotion will never arise. The word prayasa means endeavor, useless labor. Spiritual life is nothing other than pure devotion unto the Supreme Lord. Devotion cannot be defined by any symptoms other than full surrender and subordination unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. Full surrender and subordination are the natural, eternal constitutional duties of the living entities. Therefore, only devotional service is the natural propensity or inherent occupation. In ones inherent occupation there is no need of prayasa; still, in the living entitys conditioned state there is need for a small amount of prayasa in order to cultivate devotional service. Except this little prayasa, all other kinds of prayasa are unfavorable for devotional service. Prayasa is of two kinds jnana-prayasa and karma-prayasa. In jnana-prayasa the feeling of oneness, or kevaladvaita, arises. This is also known as sayujya, merging, or brahma-nirvana, absorption in the Supreme. Jnana-prayasa is hostile to spiritual life; this is explained in the Vedic literature, Mundaka Upanisad (3.2.3), in the following words: 

nayam atma pravacanena labhyo     

  na medhasa na bahuna srutena  

yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas      

 tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam 

TRANSLATION   The Supreme Lord is not obtained by expert explanations, by vast intelligence, or even by much hearing. He is obtained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person, He manifests His own form.  Therefore devotion is the only way to attain the lotus feet of the Lord.


  Idle talking 

Talking with one another is called jalpana or prajalpa. Nowadays in this world godlessness is so prominent that conversing with others means godless talk. Therefore it is not profitable for a practicing devotee to engage in jalpana. There can, however, be many kinds of jalpana in the cultivation of devotional service. They are all auspicious for the devotees. Srila Rupa Gosvami has written in his Karpanya-panjika-stotra

  tathapy asmin kadacid       

vamadhisau nama-jalpini       


namabhasau prasidatam

Devotees recite the purport of this  in the following words: 

  tathapi e dina-jane,       

tathapi e dina-jane,

yadi nama-uccarane,       

namabhasa karila jivane 



 prasade prasida dui jane 

 While chanting the holy name of the Lord, if a wretched person in his lifetime achieves namabhasa, or a glimpse of offenseless chanting, then all his faults are destroyed and Their Lordships become pleased with him.

Kirtana, offering prayers, and reciting the scriptures are all jalpana; but when these are performed with a favorable mood and devoid of material desire, then they are all cultivation of Krsna consciousness. Therefore the conclusion is this: All prajalpas that are unfavorable to Krsnas service are ad

 to devotional service. The practitioner should carefully give up prajalpa. There is no fault in the activities of the mahajanas. The mahajanas have respectfully engaged in prajalpa (favorable to devotional service), and this is our only duty. Sometimes puffed-up devotees advise that all types of prajalpa should be given up. But we are followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami; being followers of Rupa Gosvami we will always stick to the path shown by the sadhus who are following his instructions.

4. Niyamagraha

   Too much attachment to, or too much neglect of, rules and regulations 

Niyamas, or rules, are of two kinds vidhis, or prescriptions, and nisedhas, or prohibitions. Whatever is enjoined as ones duty is a prescribed rule. Whatever is enjoined as restricted is a prohibited rule. Both kinds of rules are auspicious for the living entities.

Conditioned souls are eligible to attain a very exalted position from a very low position. Between these two positions there are many other positions. Each position is a gradual step. Each gradual step is a distinct level of advancement. Each and every gradual step has different prescriptions and prohibitions. Whenever a living entity steps to one level and stays there, he is obliged to follow the prescriptions and prohibitions of that step. By following those enjoined prescriptions and prohibitions, one becomes eligible to attain the next step. If one is unable to attain the next step, he falls down to a lower step. This is called degradation. Attaining the higher step is called advancement.

To properly follow the precepts of ones own level is called  ones prescribed duties  or steadiness in ones own position. Steadiness in ones own position is piety, and deviation from ones position is impiety. There is no other piety and impiety than this. Therefore in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.21.2-7) Lord Krsna spoke these instructions to Uddhava: 

  sve sve dhikare ya nistha       

sa gunah parikirtitah      

 viparyayas tu dosah syad

ubhayor esa niscayah 


vastunam mama sattama        

guna-dosau vidhiyete

niyamartham hi karmanam 

TRANSLATION   Steadiness in ones own position is declared to be actual piety, whereas deviation from ones position is considered impiety. In this way the two are definitely ascertained. O saintly Uddhava, in order to restrict materialistic activities, I have established that which is proper and improper among all material things, including time, space, and all physical objects.

Prescribed and prohibited rules are further divided into two categories conditional and constitutional. The living entity is pure spirit. The prescriptions and prohibitions in the living entitys constitutional position are consititutional rules. But when the living entity is separated from his transcendental position, he accepts the designations given by the illusory energy and is entangled in this world these are false designations. These designations are of many varieties, but the constitutional situation is one without second.

In the eternal state of the living entity, prema is the only prescription and envy is the only prohibition. This prescription and prohibition is subordinate to the living entitys eternal nature. The living entity imbued with prema and devoid of envy is the shelter of eternal rasa. Although rasa is of five varieties, still they are one undivided spiritual truth. The rules of that position are not to be discussed here. We must know only that this state is the eternal condition of the living entity.

Although in the conditional state the rules are of different types, still all the steps are divided into three principle categories. According to the Vedas, Bhagavad-gita, and all the smrtis, three principle divisions are found karma, jnana, and bhakti. In each division certain prescriptions and certain prohibitions are enjoined. In the karma division, the rules of varnasrama and the ten supplementary samskaras as well as regulative prayers are prescribed. Sins and bad habits are prohibited. In the jnana division, sannyasa, renunciation, detachment, and discussing matter and spirit are prescribed. Fruitive activities, forbidden activities, and attachment to sense enjoyment are prohibited. In the bhakti division, indifference, performance of activities favorable to devotion, following the prescriptions and prohibitions of the jnana division, and cultivating devotional service with the help of those prescriptions and prohibitions are prescribed. All activities opposed to the Lord, jnana, renunciation, attachment to sense enjoyment, conclusions opposed to devotional service, and giving up action are prohibited.

When the conditioned soul advances by giving up his illicit activities, or low-class character, then he attains the level of karma-kanda. Such a person should remain in varnasrama-dharma and aspire to attain the level of jnana. This is his duty. He should remain in varnasrama until he attains detachment from material activities by discussing the difference between matter and spirit and analyzing the nature of false ego, otherwise he becomes sinful. When that detachment is attained, then his higher qualification destroys his attachment to fruitive activities. But if that person still remains inclined to the rules of karma-kanda, then he cannot make advancement.

The duty of one who has attained the level of jnana-kanda is to remain fixed in knowledge. Until he attains a taste for devotional service, he should remain under the rules of jnanakanda. As soon as the qualification for devotional service manifests, he should give up his attachment for jnanakanda, otherwise he is guilty of niyamagraha and will not make advancement.


  Association with worldly-minded persons 

The word jana means both male and female human beings. Srila Rupa Gosvami has written in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: sadho sangah svato vare  a devotee should associate with devotees who are more advanced.  Generally the practicing devotees are superior to karmis and jnanis in all respects. In the Bhagavad-gita (7.28) it is said: 

  yesam tv anta-gatam papam      

jananam punya-karmanam       

 te dvandva-moha-nirmukta

bhajante mam drdha-vratah 

TRANSLATION   Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.  Therefore devotees are naturally pure. There is no possibility for them to commit sin. They are not less intelligent like the karmis and jnanis, because they have taken shelter at the lotus feet of the omniscient Supreme Lord. Faith in the devotional service of Lord Krsna is achieved as a result of many lifetimes of pious activities. So there is no doubt that the devotees activities are pure. From faith, the desire to associate with devotees naturally arises. By associating with devotees, everything is achieved. The glories of sadhu-sanga is mentioned in the Adi Purana as follows: 

  ye me bhakta-janah partha      

na me bhaktas ca te janah      

 mad-bhaktanam ca ye bhaktas

te me bhakta-tama matah  

TRANSLATION   O Partha, those who claim to be My devotees are actually not My devotees, but those who are the devotees of My devotees are actually My devotees.

Regarding the need to associate with devotees, it is said:

darsana sparsanalapa       

sahavasadibhih ksanat       

bhaktah punanti krsnasya

saksad api ca pukkasam

TRANSLATION   Even an outcaste becomes completely pure by seeing, touching, conversing with, or living with Krsnas devotee for even a moment.


   Ardent longing or greed

 The  of the word laulya is restlessness, greed, and desire. Restlessness is of two kinds restlessness of the mind and restlessness of the intelligence. The citta, or mind, has the propensity for following the dictates of the senses. When the mind follows the dictates of the senses and becomes absorbed in a particular subject, attachment or aversion arise. Therefore restlessness of the mind is of two types restlessness due to attachment and restlessness due to aversion. In Bhagavad-gita (2.67) it is said:

   indriyanam hi caratam      

yan mano nuvidhiyate    

   tad asya harati prajnam

vayur navam ivambhasi

 TRANSLATION   As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a mans intelligence.  Again in the Bhagavad-gita (3.34) it is said:


raga-dvesau vyavasthitau        

tayor na vasam agacchet

tau hy asya paripanthinau

 TRANSLATION   There are principles to regulate attachment and aversion pertaining to the senses and their objects. One should not come under the control of such attachment and aversion, because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization.  In order to regulate laulya, in the form of restlessness of the mind, one has to take shelter of goddess Bhaktidevi. The instruction of Bhaktidevi is this: When the cause of the minds restlessness is sense gratification and this restlessness is the main obstacle in the practice of devotional service, then all sensual activities should be dovetailed in the service of the Lord and the attachment to sense gratification should be transformed into attachment for the Lord. Then the mind becomes fixed in devotional service by taking shelter of that attachment. The eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, and the sense of touch are called knowledge acquiring senses. The hands, the legs, the anus, and so on are the working senses. When the objects of all these senses are associated with in a devotional mood, then the mind becomes fixed on the Lord. Taste, form, smell, touch, and sound these are the objects of the senses. One has to arouse a mood of devotion in all these objects, and enjoy them, then devotional service is cultivated. Among the objects of the senses, aversion should be applied on any that are unfavorable for devotional service and attachment should be applied on any that are favorable for devotional service. But until the restlessness of the intelligence is vanquished, how will the restlessness of the mind be checked? When the restlessness of the intelligence is vanquished, the mind can regulate attachment and aversion for sense objects by the strength of the intelligence.

The intelligence is that which discriminates between the minds good and bad propensities. That intelligence is of two types resolute and many-branched. There is one type of resolute intelligence, and there are unlimited types of many-branched intelligence.


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