Yoga VicharChapter 7 - The Laws of Karma
Yoga VicharChapter 9 - Conclusion

Yoga Vichar

Chapter 8 – Bhakti-Yoga – The Topmost Yoga System

To say that bhakti-yoga is the topmost yoga system may seem to be a biased statement, but this is indeed a fact. The complete study of yoga reveals that devotion must be present in all systems of yoga if one is to have any success at all. In yoga one must persevere and be determined:

संकल्पप्रभवान्कामंस्त्यक्त्वा सर्वानशेषत: ।
मनसैवेन्द्रियग्रामं विनियम्य समन्तत: ॥

“One should practice yoga with determination and an unwavering mind. In order to practice yoga, one must reject all thoughts that create material desires and withdraw the senses from the sense objects using the mind.” (Bhagavad-gita 6.24)

Such determination necessitates that one must be devoted. However, when the spirit of devotion (bhakti) completely dominates, it becomes a system within itself – the system of bhakti-yoga. This is the complete science of how to devote oneself fully to the highest attainment of self-realisation.

The two quintessential processes in bhakti are known as shravana and kirtana. Kirtana is the chanting of mantras in a group which has been practiced in India for centuries and has most recently become popular in some western countries. The most prominent of all mantras is the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, which was popularised by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the avatara of Sri Krishna, who appeared in India in the 15th Century:

हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे
हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

However, the process of kirtana should be preceded by the process of shravana. Shravana means to hear or receive the Hare Krishna mantra from a genuine guru.

As previously mentioned, this and all other divisions of the yoga system are not to be sold to the student. This knowledge must come through the proper system of guru and disciple and not passed on from one unqualified student to another. A kirtana performance without connection to the authorised system of yoga is simply entertainment and self-deception. Mantras are bestowed to the sincere student by the guru for the purpose of purification. In Sanskrit, the word mantrameans ‘to deliver the mind’ (manah-trayate). The mind is the centre of material desires, bewilderment, anxiety, frustration, lust, anger and greed:

कामोमन्युर्मदोलोभ: शोकमोहभयादय: ।
कर्मबन्धश्च यन्मूल: स्वीकुर्यात्को नु तद्बुध: ॥

“Which intelligent person would trust the mind, which is the root cause of lust, anger, pride, greed, lamentation, illusion and fear? All of these create the bondage of karma.” (Bhagavata 5.6.5)

One who has received mantras for kirtana and meditation from a genuine guru quickly becomes free from all material desires and advances spiritually. The system of meditation in bhakti-yoga is twofold – the chanting of mantras and activities performed in devotion. Devotional activities are in themselves a meditation and this enables the bhakti-yogi to engage in meditation throughout the day. Other systems of meditation are generally limited to a few minutes or an hour or so. Therefore, to absorb oneself fully in meditation, the bhakti-yoga system is the best.

Self-realisation through bhakti-yoga is both revelation and achievement. Those who have realised the Absolute Truth through bhakti-yoga do not only have something spiritual within themselves while in this bodily existence – after giving up the present material body at the time of death, the self-realised bhakti-yogi attains a spiritual body in the spiritual universe on one of the spiritual planets known as Vaikuntha or Goloka. The followers of lesser yoga systems may attain the realisation of Brahman or Paramatma, but realisation of Sri Krishna as Bhagavan can only be achieved in the system of bhakti-yoga. This is also corroborated by the authority on ashtanga-yoga, Patanjali Muni:

ईश्वरप्रणिधानाद् वा ।

“One must be devoted to Ishvara.” (Yoga-sutras 1.23)

That Ishvara is indeed Bhagavan Sri Krishna, which is also stated in the Brahma-samhita composed by Brahma (the first living being to perform yoga in the universe) as follows:

ईश्वर: परम: कृष्ण: सच्चिदानन्दविग्रह: ।
अनादिरादिर्गोविन्द: सर्वकारणकारणम् ॥

“Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Controller (ishvara) who possesses a form of eternity, knowledge and bliss. He has no beginning and is the cause of all causes.” (Brahma-samhita 5.1)

Those who realise Brahman and Paramatma will enter Brahman. However, only the yogis in bhakti-yoga have the qualification and realisation to enter Vaikuntha and Goloka. Those who enter Brahman, either thru Brahman or Paramatma realisation, will have to return to the material worlds of birth and death because eternal existence is incomplete without transcendental bliss (ananda). Complete ananda is only truly found in Vaikuntha and Goloka. The ananda of Brahman is a negative bliss based upon the euphoria of momentary freedom from the clutches of birth and death. This ananda is compared to the water found in the hoof-print of a cow, whereas the ananda of Vaikuntha and Goloka is compared to that of an infinitely vast ocean. Those who attain such ananda, realising Sri Krishna as the Supreme Absolute Truth, under the guidance of a bona-fide guru, are considered to be the greatest of yogis:

योगिनामपि सर्वेषां मद्गतेनान्तरात्मना ।
श्रद्धावान्भजते यो मां स मे युक्ततमो मत: ॥

“I consider the best of all yogis to be the bhakti-yogi who abides in Me, who meditates upon Me and who worships Me with firm faith.” (Bhagavad-gita 6.47)

Such yogis enter the spiritual planets of Vaikuntha and Goloka and never again return to this world of birth and death:

न तद्भासयते सूर्यो न शशाङ्को न पावक: ।
यद्गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम् ॥

“My Supreme Abode (Goloka) is not illumined by sun, moon or fire. Once attaining that abode, one never returns.” (Bhagavad-gita15.6)

A description of the spiritual planet of Goloka and Sri Krishna, Reality the Beautiful, is given in the Brahma-samhita as follows:

श्रिय: कान्ता: कान्त: परमपुरुष: कल्पतरवो
द्रुमा भूमिश्चिन्तामणिगणमयी तोयममृतम् ।
कथा गानं नाट्यं गमनमपि वंशी प्रियसखी
चिदानन्दं ज्योति: परमपि तदास्वाद्यमपि च ॥
स यत्र क्षीरब्धि: स्रवति सुरभीभ्यश्च सुमहान्
निमेषार्द्धाख्यो वा व्रजति न हि यत्रापि समय: ।
भजे श्वेतद्वीपं तमहमिह गोलोकमिति यं
विदन्तस्ते सन्त: क्षितिविरलचारा: कतिपये ॥

“I worship the divine abode of Goloka, where the goddesses of fortune are the loving consorts to the Supreme Person Sri Krishna who is their only lover. In that place, every tree is a desire tree; the land is made of touchstone; all water is nectar; every word is a song; every step is a dance; the flute is the dearest friend; the light is full of spiritual bliss and all things there are most relishable; where vast oceans of milk continuously flow from millions of cows; where time does not pass away even for half a moment. That realm, Goloka Vrindavana, is only known to a very few self-realised yogis in this world.” (Brahma-samhita 5.56)

चिन्तामणिप्रकरसद्मसु कल्पवृक्ष
लक्षावृतेषु सुरभीरभिपालयन्तम् ।
गोविन्दमादिपुरुषं तमहं भजामि ॥

“I worship Krishna, the Original Person, who is tending the cows, in that divine realm where the abodes are built with touchstone, surrounded by millions of desire trees. He is constantly served with great care and attention by hundreds of thousands of goddesses of fortune.” (Brahma-samhita 5.29)

वेणुं क्वणन्तमरविन्ददलायताक्षं
वर्हावतंसमसिताम्बुदसुन्दराङ्गम् ।
गोविन्दमादिपुरुषं तमहं भजामि ॥

“I worship Krishna, Reality the Beautiful, who is playing His flute, with beautiful eyes like blooming lotus petals. His head is decorated with peacock feathers, and His charming form, tinged with the hue of rain clouds, is so alluring that it enchants millions of Cupids.” (Brahma-samhita 5.30)

रत्नाङ्गद प्रणयकेलिकलाविलासम् ।
श्यामं त्रिभङ्गललितं नियतप्रकाशं
गोविन्दमादिपुरुषं तमहं भजामि ॥

“I worship Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose neck is decorated with a garland of forest flowers that swings to and fro. His hands, that hold His flute, are adorned with jeweled bracelets. His threefold bending form as Shyamasundara is eternally manifest as He enjoys His various pastimes of divine love.” (Brahma-samhita 5.31)

सन्त: सदैव हृदयेषु विलोकयन्ति ।
यं श्यामसुन्दरमचिन्त्यगुणस्वरूपं
गोविन्दमादिपुरुषं तमहं भजामि ॥

“I worship Krishna, who is always contemplated on by those whose eyes are anointed with the salve of divine love. His eternal form as Shyamasundara, is eternally endowed with inconceivable qualities and He is always situated within the hearts of yogis devoted to Him.” (Brahma-samhita 5.38)

Yoga VicharChapter 7 - The Laws of Karma
Yoga VicharChapter 9 - Conclusion
Avatar of Śrīla Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja
Śrīla Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja (Jagat Guru Swami) appeared on Annadā Ekādaśī at Corpus Christi, USA in 1946. After studies in haṭha-yoga, he took initiation from his guru, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda in 1970 and preached in the African continent for 3 years before accepting sannyāsa in 1976. After Prabhupāda’s disappearance, Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja took śīkṣā (spiritual instruction) from Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī and Śrīla B.P Purī Gosvāmī. Although he spent most of his spiritual life preaching in India, Narasiṅgha Mahārāja also travelled to Europe, Mexico and the United States to spread the message of his spiritual masters. He penned over 200 essays and 13 books delineating Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta. He left this world in his āśrama in South India in 2020.