Sad-guëa and Bhakti
Good Qualities and Devotion
by Çréla Saccidänanda Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here)
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]
How many types of auspiciousness are there?
In the book Sri Hari-bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu auspiciousness (çubhadtva) has been described as one of the six glories of bhakti. The question, “How many kinds of auspiciousness are there?” is answered as follows:
çubhäni préëanaà sarva-jagatäm anuraktatä
sad-guëäù sukham ity ädény äkhyätäni manéñibhiù
(Eastern Division, Sädhana-lahari 28)
Learned sages have described the meaning of auspiciousness
as love for the entire creation, caring affection
for all living entities, saintly character, happiness,
and other such qualities.
The person in whom bhakti has arisen bestows affection to the whole world and becomes the object of attachment for everyone in the world. He effortlessly becomes the recipient of all saintly qualities and attains all types of pure happiness and auspiciousness. Learned scholars have described all these attributes as symptoms of auspiciousness.
All good qualities, and the demigods themselves, reside in bhagavad-bhaktas
The following words of the Bhägavata describe that devotee who possesses all good qualities:
yasyästi bhaktir bhagavaty akiïcanä
sarvair guëais tatra samäsate suräù
haräv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guëä
mano-rathenäsati dhävato bahiù
One who has unflinching devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead has all the good qualities of the demigods. But one who is not a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications that are of little value. This is because he is hovering on the mental plane and is certain to be attracted by the glaring material energy.
All good qualities along with the devatas take shelter of that person who has akincanä-bhakti for Bhagavän. How can all good qualities appear in a nondevotee whose mind always runs towards temporary worldly affairs? The Skanda Puräëa states:
ete na hy adbhutä vyädha tava hiàsädayo guëäù
hari-bhaktau pravåttä ye na te syuù para-täpinaù
O hunter! Good qualities, like non-violence, which
you have developed, are not very astonishing, for
those who are engaged in hari-bhakti are by nature
never inclined to give pain to others.
amé guëäù prapadyante
Internal and external purity, austerity, peacefulness
and so on, take shelter of a person desiring to serve
The good qualities of a Vaiñëava
A list of good qualities has been compiled in Çré Caitanya-caritämåta:
kåpälu, akåta-droha, satya-sära sama
nirdoña, vadänya, mådu, çuci, akiïcana
sarvopakäraka, çänta, kåñëaika-çaraëa
akäma, niréha, sthira, vijita-saò-guëa
mita-bhuk, apramatta, mänada, amäné
gambhéra, karuëa, maitra, kavi, dakña, mauné
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 22.78–80)
Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, exclusively surrendered to Kåñëa, and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad qualities: lust, anger, greed and so forth. They eat only as much as required, and they are not inebriated. They are respectful, grave, compassionate and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert and silent.
All these good qualities accompany bhakti. Now the following question arises: Does Bhakti-devé manifest after the appearance of all these qualities, or do all these good qualities take shelter of the bhakta in whom bhakti appears?
All good qualities automatically appear in a bhakta; there is no need to endeavour for them
The above question is answered as follows. According to the bhakti-çästras a jéva develops faith in bhakti on the strength of sukåti caused by a desire to perform bhakti. On attaining faith in bhakti, the jéva takes shelter at the feet of a sädhu and engages in bhajana. Immediately before engaging in bhajana, many anarthas, meaning those things that are opposed to good qualities, remain in him. By the strength of bhakti and sadhu-saìga, all anarthas effortlessly melt away while performing bhajana, and in their place all good qualities naturally arise. Until anarthas are annihilated and auspicious qualities manifest, one remains on the stage of bhajanäbhäsa or nämäbhäsa. As one performs çuddha-bhajana – that is, chants çuddha-näma – anarthas are destroyed and simultaneously saintly qualities manifest. At this time, the sädhaka has no taste for sinful activities or anarthas. For this reason Çré Mahäprabhu said:
eka kåñëa-näme kare sarva-päpa kñaya
nava-vidhä bhakti pürëa näma haite haya
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 15.107)
Simply by chanting the holy name of Kåñëa once, a person is relieved from all the reactions of a sinful life. One can complete the nine processes of devotional service simply by chanting the holy name.
All the good qualities, such as jéve-dayä (mercy to all living entities), niñpäpatä (a non-sinful nature), satyasäratä (truthfulness), samadarçitva (equal vision), dainya (humility), çänti (peacefulness), gämbérya (gravity), saralatä (simplicity), maitré (amiability), daksatä (expertise), asat-kathäy audasénya (indifference to mundane talk), pavitratä (purity), tucchakäma tyäga (the renunciation of useless work) and many others, naturally arise along with the appearance of kåñëa bhakti. It is not for the bhakta to attempt to attain other qualities separately from performing bhajana. The cultivation of çuddha-bhakti is indeed sufficient to achieve this. By cultivating çuddha-bhakti, anarthas are quickly destroyed and auspicious qualities are quickly awakened.
The appearance of good qualities is possible only by taking sädhu-saìga, not by following the path of yoga and morality
To cultivate the traditional practices of yoga such as yama, niyama, pratyähära and so on, is troublesome; and success, which only comes after a long period of practice, is checked by unwanted obstructions. As long as the jéva does not develop faith leading to bhakti, known as bhakti-unmukhé çraddhä, the determination to develop these qualities of the yoga path remains in him. Therefore only by performing bhajana in the association of a sädhu will all good qualities appear in that person in whom çraddhä has arisen. Auspicious qualities are cultivated on the paths of yoga and morality but a bhakta does not need to separately cultivate them. Persons on other paths may attain all good qualities, but in the absence of bhakti, these qualities are like many ornaments on an ugly lady, and can never actually be beautiful. On the other hand if, by the mercy of a sädhu, they fortunately gain bhaktiunmukhé çraddhä, they will undoubtedly perform sädhana immediately to achieve uttamä-bhakti.
The instruction to accept the shelter of kåñëabhakti in sädhu-saìga
O brothers who are filled with good qualities! Do not waste your time uselessly. Please make your life and dharma successful by taking shelter of the lotus feet of a devotee. This is the highest fruit of whatever auspicious qualities you have attained. It is incorrect to think that just by accumulating auspicious qualities one will get bhakti. Auspicious qualities will automatically appear in a person who has bhakti. One may have all auspicious qualities other than having taken one pointed shelter of Kåñëa (kåñëaikaçaraëa), but until he develops faith in bhakti, he will not attain bhakti. Without possessing kåñëa-bhakti, even auspicious qualities are not glorious. You should know that the life of a jéva who is endowed with all auspicious qualities but bereft of kåñëa bhakti, is useless.