The Simultaneous Inherency and Bestowal of Bhakti—Part 18: Concluding Words

By Vrindaranya dasi

Additional articles in this series

Over the last seventeen articles, I have shown how Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī establishes both the inherency and bestowal of bhakti. This teaching is in line with all the major schools of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta. Each school of Vedānta has to reconcile the apparent difference between the world—with all its variety—and the Vedāntic understanding of advaya-jñāna-tattva (one nondual Absolute Truth). The way that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism explains this apparent contradiction is through śakti—the Lord is one and different with his śaktis:

advaya-jñāna-tattva kṛṣṇa — svayaṁ bhagavān
‘svarūpa-śakti’ rūpe tāṅra haya avasthāna

Kṛṣṇa is the nondual Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although He is one, He maintains different personal expansions and energies for His pastimes.1

No other school of Vedānta puts as much emphasis on śakti as Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. It is not surprising, then, that śakti is the key to understanding how bhakti is both inherent and bestowed. The soul is endowed with twenty-one intrinsic attributes, and many of these attributes cannot manifest without śakti. In fact, the covering of the soul by māyā is only possible because the śakti of the soul is not manifest. Because the soul is covered by māyā, the soul requires mercy to realize his true nature—to manifest his inherent śakti

Based on his extensive study of the Sandarbhas and other core Gauḍīya literature, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura established both inherency and bestowal throughout his books. As I wrote in my opening article, Sundara Gopāla provided extensive evidence to establish that Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s statement that bhakti is the dharma of the soul (jaiva-dharma) was not a provisional concept but rather a foundational aspect of his teachings. He also gave historical evidence that Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura had studied Jīva Gosvāmī’s Sandarbhas extensively, as well as the writings of Śrī Jāmātṛ Muni, whose verses form the basis of Jīva Gosvāmī’s explanation of the characteristics of the jīva.

Although other parivāras may have other valid interpretations, those of us in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra have good reason to put our faith in Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s understanding of Gauḍīya siddhānta. He edited and published over one hundred books—creating a resurgence of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism—and was appropriately hailed the seventh Gosvāmī. Furthermore, we should not be bewildered by the fact that other parivāras may have different understandings. After all, look how many different interpretations there are of the Vedānta-sūtras

Moreover, it is not only those in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra who accept the inherence and bestowal of bhakti. As we saw in the last chapter, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa came to the same conclusion. In a similar vein, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kaviraja Gosvāmī writes:

jīvera svabhāva—kṛṣṇa-‘dāsa’-abhimāna
dehe ātma-jñāne ācchādita sei ‘jñāna’

The jīva’s intrinsic nature is to have the conception of being a servant of Kṛṣṇa. That knowledge is covered by the misconception of the body being the self.2

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’

It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.”3

I’m sure that some devotees will insist that only their interpretation of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī is correct, quite likely on the basis of my not being a Sanskritist. Moreover, I have no doubt that my arguments can be improved. I see my articles as a first attempt, and I look forward to further discussion and refinement. However, for those of us in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra, I believe that the jury is no longer out on why Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura stressed both inherency and bestowal. As such, any refinements to our understanding should be in keeping with his vision. A prolonged debate with those in other parivāras is unlikely to be particularly fruitful. My own inspiration in writing these articles was not to convince those in other parivāras, but rather to defend the validity of my own parivāra against specific arguments that had not been made in the time of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, or Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda and had therefore not been previously addressed. 

I would like to draw to a close by saying that if we were merely units of being with only a potential through an outside influence to know and love, we would have no real inherent reason or necessity to be at all. Unless we have an inherent necessity to love, there is no meaning to our existence, and we are purposeless. Sādhu-saṅga does not give us a purpose that we did not already have. It sheds light on our inherent purpose. This is what Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda referred to when coining the phrase jaiva-dharma. May his parivāra continue to bless the world with its insight

That said, interpretations of core Gauḍīya texts that reach a different conclusion, insisting that bhakti is in no way inherent in the jīvātmā, will no doubt continue to resonate with some practitioners, and we do for that matter find spiritually advanced devotees on either side of the debate. Thus, no one has a monopoly on the siddhānta concerning this topic and hopefully all parties are well served by robust sādhu-saṅga and as such will meet one another on the other side.

Let me conclude with some quotations about the inherency and bestowal of bhakti from our ācāryas in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura:

Prema is the jīva’s eternal dharma. The jīva is not dull matter. It is an object beyond matter. Consciousness is its constitution. Prema is its dharma. Being the servant of Kṛṣṇa is pure prema. Thus prema, in the form of being Kṛṣṇa’s servant, is the jīva’s innate dharma.” (Jaiva Dharma, ch. 2)4

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura:

“Bhakti is the natural impulse of the soul.” (The Harmonist, Vol. 28)

“Śrīmad Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written all the books following the scriptural conclusions of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. All his books are supplements to Śrīla Jīva and Śrī Baladeva’s books. Our current endeavor is also to follow Śrīla Jīva.” (Prabhupader Samlap)

Śrīla B. R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja:

Sannyasi: How is it that one develops his innate nature? Is it developed?

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: It is not developed but discovered. What is already there is only to be discovered, to remove the covering. Sādhana means that. It is there. It is there in a very germinal form. Inactive, covered. Inactive. So, remove the cover, and then it will assert itself.

Svarūpa-śakti is within. Only that should be discovered. That is within, the inner wealth, and only the outer cover has checked the activities of svarūpa-śakti—that of distributing this divine message to one and all.” (Encounters with Divinity)

“When analyzed, then, it is found that our svarūpa is more suitable for such and such service—in Vaikuṇṭha or Goloka. So, we have our fixed svarūpa, some in Vaikuṇṭha, some in Goloka. In Goloka also, there are different rasas, so it is within.”

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda:

“Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind; this consciousness is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived.” [The Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 5]5

“Love of God is dormant in everyone, and if one is given a chance to hear about the Lord, certainly that love develops. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement acts on this principle.”  [Cc. 1.7.141, Purport]6

Śrīla Prabhupada, emphasizing bestowed and inherence within the same passage, shows clearly that he intends both together:

“The fact is that devotional service is bestowed by the blessings of a pure devotee (sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ). A pure devotee is the supreme transcendentalist, and one has to receive his mercy for one’s dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness to be awakened. One has to associate with pure devotees. If one has firm faith in the words of a great soul, pure devotional service will awaken.” (Cc. 2.22, Introduction)7

Additional articles in this series: Part 1: The History of a Debate, Part 2: A Road Map, Part 3: The Swan, Part 4: Vaiṣṇava Vedānta, Part 5: The Twenty-One Intrinsic Characteristics of the Jīva, Part 6: The Search for Bliss, Part 7: The Soul is a Servant of Bhagavān Hari, Part 8: A Servant of God (Śeṣatva), Part 9: Unmanifest Qualities of the Soul, Part 10: Intrinsically of the Nature of Knowledge and Bliss, Part 11: Jīva Gosvāmī on Taṭasthā-Śakti, Part 12: Understanding Śakti, Part 13: The Bliss of the Jīva, Part 14: The Soul Is Not Subject to Transformation, Part 15: Identity/Oneness (Tādātmya), Part 16: The Manifestation of Śakti, Part 17: Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa’s Govinda-Bhāṣya, Part 18: Concluding Words.

  1. Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 22.7 []
  2. Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 24.201 []
  3. Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.108 []
  4. Swami, HH Bhanu; Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda. Jaiva Dharma: Two Tales of Spiritual Seekers (p. 19). Tattva Cintāmaṇi Publishing. Kindle Edition. []
  5. []
  6. []
  7. []

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9 Responses to The Simultaneous Inherency and Bestowal of Bhakti—Part 18: Concluding Words

  1. Madhav Singh Sodhi

    Hare Krishna mataji 🙏
    One question

    “Unless we have an inherent necessity to love, there is no meaning to our existence, and we are purposeless.”

    Isn’t Being “Eternally Unaware” of ones Purpose as good as being Purposeless? The purpose would still be in mere potential waiting for a Sadhu kripa so that one can actually know one has a purpose and fulfil it, so how does it differ much from non Inherence Perspective in this particular context?

    • Dear Madhav,

      Hare Krishna 🙏
      If you have a purpose, then you can’t help but pursue it. Unfortunately, we pursue our purpose in a perverted way and therefore don’t find fulfillment. Part 3: The Swan discusses this concept. Feeling unfulfilled and the drive to find fulfillment shows that we have a purpose. If we had no purpose, we would not look for one. Thus, there is quite a difference between having a purpose and not having one.
      In service,

  2. According to your conclusions in this series, how do you then harmonize the following statements from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, explained in the following article?:

    • Dear James,

      Thanks so much for your question. I have limited time to answer questions due to other seva obligations. As such, it is too time consuming for me to answer questions that refer me to other articles and ask how I would refute them. If you have a question about a specific point or if there is a particular quotation from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura that seems to contradict something that I have said, I would be happy to answer. If you could give the quotation from VCT and a quotation of something that I said, that would be ideal.

      In service,

      • This comes from Visvanatha Cakravarti´s commentary to SB 6.15.56-57. There he says:

        [First, Śrī Viśvanātha raises the question of how, someone who is in deep sleep, can remember experiencing it in the morning.]

        “Objection: how does the witness of deep sleep, recall the experience upon waking, that “I slept happily”? It is not that one person can recall something experienced by another.

        (reply:) The person, who experiences deep sleep and wakefulness, is distinct from what he experiences in either of these states, because he is unchanging even as the states change from one to another. The word jñānaṁ refers to the jīva. Therefore, just as one remembers what one has seen in childhood in youth, recall of the happiness of deep sleep is possible even when the state changes (to wakefulness).

        Brahman is different from the jīva, and not that the jīva itself is Brahman. This is because although the jīva is the same as Brahman (tad-rūpatve’pi) owing to being its taṭasthā śakti [i.e. there is abheda between them], it is not Brahman because it is not its svarūpa śakti. Therefore, the meaning is that Brahman is definitely different from the jīva [i.e. there is bheda between them].

        Therefore, considering that the svarūpa of Brahman (Bhagavān) and the jīva to be the same (svarūpaikya-bhāvanam) is in itself a cause of offense. This is expressed in this verse.

        My (Bhagavān’s) svarūpa [mad-bhāva in the verse] is indeed different from the jīva [there is bheda between the two]. If this principle is forgotten, that is, only abheda or non-difference is considered to exist between the jīva and Bhagavān, such a person who has only such a concept of ‘abheda’ remains in saṁsāra. This is expressed in the verse with the word ‘dehāt’.

        Therefore, the jīva’s being the same as Bhagavān (aikyam) [i.e. abheda], as expressed in tat tvam asi, is only to be conceived as the jīva’s being the same as Him (tād-rūpya) due to being His taṭasthā śakti, just as the ray of the sun is considered the same as the sun.

        Likewise, the insubstantial material world is the same as Bhagavān (tādrūpya) due to being an effect of His śakti. tādrūpya here implies that because the world does not have the same svarūpa as Bhagavān, it is indeed different(tadrupya=tātsvarūpya-abhavat bhinnam), and a cause of temporality.

        However, although the pure jīva is imperishable and therefore included within the real substantive, it only possesses identity with Bhagavān (tādrūpya) due to being His taṭasthā śakti, and does not have the same svarūpa as Him (tātsvarūpya).

        In contrast, Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are real substantives, and are one entity (aikyam), in that they have the same svarūpa.

        Nitya preyasīs, pārṣadas and abodes of Bhagavān have the same svarūpa as Him (tāt-svarūpya) due to being a manifestation of His cit-śakti.

        Some others, despite being nitya-siddha [jīvas] (nitya-siddhatvād api) possess the quality of being real substantives and having the same svarūpa as Bhagavān.

        Some [jīvas] have the same svarūpa as Him (tāt-svarūpya) only (eva) due to being imbued with His svarūpa śakti (svarūpa-śaktyāviṣṭatvād) either because of 1) being siddhas due to being eternally liberated devotees, 2) being siddhas due to having attained pure bhakti, or 3) or because of their being included in the group of the eternal servants of Bhagavān due to their desire for servitorship.

        Because some jīvas, who became siddhas due to having attained mixed bhakti, are śānta bhaktas, they are not included in the group of eternal servants. As such, they are not endowed with Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti, and therefore they are the same as Bhagavān (tādrūpya), and are real substantives (but do not have the same svarūpa as Him i.e. not tāt-svarūpya). In this way, it is concluded that Bhagavān, being characterized by many śaktis, is non-dual reality and Vaiṣṇava siddhānta has been demonstrated incidentally.”

        That´s basically it. In summary, the points made above indicate the following:

        The pure jīva is the same as Bhagavān (abheda) because it is Bhagavān’s taṭasthā śakti. It has tādrūpya with Him.

        The pure jīva is different from Bhagavān (bheda) because it is not Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti. It does not have tāt-svarūpya with Him.

        Nitya preyasīs, pārṣadas and abodes of Bhagavān have svarūpa śakti as their very essence; i.e. they are Bhagavān Himself. Needless to say, they have tāt-svarūpya with Him.

        Some jīvas in Vaikuṇṭha exist as the ātmā (taṭasthā śakti) imbued with Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti. It is only for this reason that they are said to have the sameness of svarūpa (tāt-svarūpya) with Bhagavān.

        There are jīvas in Vaikuṇṭha who are not imbued with the svarūpa śakti. They continue to only have tādrūpya with Bhagavān.

        Thinking that the jīva’s svarūpa and Bhagavān’s svarūpa are the same is an offense to Bhagavān.

        • Dear James,

          The point that Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura is making is that those who think that the jīva is Brahman are wrong and offensive. The oneness of the jīva and Brahman is the oneness of the sun and its rays, but VCT is emphasizing that the difference should not be forgotten. He says the difference is that the jīva is only one with the Lord in terms of tād-rūpya and not tāt-svarūpya (since the svarūpa-śakti is not manifest in the jīva).

          However, we should be very clear that the twenty-one characteristics of the jīva are only fully manifest when the pure jīva is tāt-svarūpya. In other words, being tāt-svarūpya is the soul’s intrinsic state. The jīva is only tād-rūpya because the svarūpa-śakti is unmanifest.

          Thus, the idea that the pure jīva is necessarily tād-rūpya is a misunderstanding of VCT’s commentary. This point is clear if you look at how Jīva Gosvāmī uses the term “pure jīva” in the Sandarbhas. The main way that Jīva Gosvāmī uses pure jīva is in the sense of tāt-svarūpya:

          “Antaraṅga-śakti (internal śakti) is also called the cit-śakti and is used in relation to the pure jīva and the Lord’s knowledge and power.” [Paramātmā Sandarbha 56. Swami, HH Bhanu; Gosvāmī, Jīva. Paramātmā Sandarbha: With commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī (Ṣaṭ-sandarbha Book 3). Tattva Cintāmaṇi Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

          “Being a doer does not in itself mean suffering. Action related to prakṛti brings suffering. Thus instigation to act from the pure Lord and being a doer related to the pure Lord does not contaminate the pure jīva, since that action is predominated by the cit-śakti.” [Swami, HH Bhanu; Gosvāmī, Jīva. Paramātmā Sandarbha.]

          In other words, the jīva is only tād-rūpya because of being covered by māyā, and the pure jīva is only tād-rūpya if he is identified with Brahman:

          “When the pure jīva merges into Brahman, the jīva, though capable of acting, is covered by the bliss of Brahman and is no longer connected with action.” [Paramātmā Sandarbha 36. Swami, HH Bhanu; Gosvāmī, Jīva. Paramātmā Sandarbha: With commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī (Ṣaṭ-sandarbha Book 3). Tattva Cintāmaṇi Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

          Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura makes it very clear that three kinds of jīvas can be tāt-svarūpya, those who: 1) are siddhas due to being eternally liberated devotees, 2) are siddhas due to having attained pure bhakti, or 3) or are included in the group of the eternal servants of Bhagavān due to their desire for servitorship.

          Thus, the only jīvas who are not tāt-svarūpya are those who are misidentified with the material world or those who are identified with Brahman.

          Jīva Gosvāmī writes that it is only when the jīva does spiritual action—action that is predominated by cit-śakti (another name for svarūpa-śakti)—that the jīva is directly the doer. The significance of this point is that the jīva only experiences this intrinsic characteristic of his nature when he is tāt-svarūpya:

          “The jīva who is absorbed in the material body is a doer through the body’s senses. The pure jīva is inspired to act by Paramātmā. However, when prakṛti predominates, matter or upādhis are said to be the doer. But since it was already explained that the jīva outside the body is without [material] senses, ultimately it is the jīva himself who is the doer… the śruti describes that in the liberated state the jīva is a doer, playing in the spiritual world… In the spiritual world the jīva moves, laughs, plays, and enjoys (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.12.3). Being a doer does not in itself mean suffering. Action related to prakṛti brings suffering. Agency in relation to that which is pure does not contaminate the pure self due to the supremacy of cit-śakti. [ Paramātmā Sandarbha 34, commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī. Swami, HH Bhanu]

          Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says that śānta-bhaktas are not endowed with Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti, and therefore they are tād-rūpya rather than tāt-svarūpya. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 3.1.5, in the section about śanta-rasa, Rūpa Gosvāmī says:

          “Generally, these practitioners possess the happiness of impersonal Brahman, realizing it as the cause of everything. However, such impersonal happiness is dilute, whereas the happiness related to the Lord with form and qualities is intense.” [Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rūpa. Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: Volume Two. Kindle Edition.]

          It would make sense that such śānta-bhaktas would be tād-rūpya rather than tāt-svarūpya since śakti is not manifest in Brahman. VCT does say the following in his commentary on Śrī Rūpa’s verse:

          “Those who are śānta-bhaktas (yoginām) previously experienced the bliss of brahman in samādhi as jñānīs, which has the nature of bliss for the self. Now, at the time of experiencing rati, they will have intense happiness through the appearance of the Lord’s form as sac-cid-ānanda (īśa-mayam). They will not attain the type of unlimited happiness of the devotees with dāsya and other rasas. However, their bliss is greater than that of the impersonalists, since the bliss of realizing the Lord with qualities is more concentrated than the bliss from realizing the ātmā.” [Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rūpa. Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: Volume Two. Kindle Edition.]

          It would seem that VCT’s comment about śānta-bhaktas not being endowed with Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti is referring to the first type of śānta-bhaktas (those who realized impersonal Brahman) because his comment in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu makes it clear that the śānta-bhaktas experiencing śānta-bhakti-rasa are endowed with svarūpa-śakti:

          “If śānta-rati sthāyibhāva mixes with the elements of vibhāva, anubhāva, sāttvika-bhāva and vyabhicāri-bhāva that are appropriate for śānta-rasa and becomes very tasteful in the hearts of devotees who are predominated by śama or equanimity, it is called śānta-bhakti-rasa by the learned.” [Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja; Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindu: A Drop of the Nectarean Ocean of Devotional Mellows. Gaudiya Vedanta Publications. Kindle Edition.]

          Another possibility is that since śanta-rati doesn’t heighten/condense into prema, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura doesn’t consider such bhaktas to be tāt-svarūpya.

          Thus, in conclusion, although Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura uses different terms, he is essentially saying the same thing as Jīva Gosvāmī and there is not any contradiction with what I have written in my articles.

          In service,

        • There are two types of vibhinamsa jivas that are manifest from the tatastha sakti. One type is eternally liberated and the other is conditioned by the influence of material nature. The difference between the two is not a difference in their internal make up or constitution. The difference is one of turning toward or away from Bhagavan. The eternally liberated tatastha jiva does not require bhakti to be bestowed. Its svarupa sakti is eternally manifest and as such is part of its constitution. Whereas the materially covered tatastha jiva does require bhakti to be bestowed in order for its unmanifest svarupa sakti to become manifest. If svarupa sakti is part of the constitution of the eternally liberated tatastha jiva, as it must be, then it must also be part of the constitution of the materially conditioned tatastha jiva that is covered by the influence of material nature due to the fact that its svarupa sakti is unmanifest.

          How can this covering take place? Srimad Bhagavatam 3.7.9-10 replies that the maya sakti of Bhagavan does not conform to logic. She has magical powers. Otherwise it would not be possible for her to cover or bewilder that which is inherently superior to her. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains,

          “Although the jīva has the capacity (īṣvarasya) for realizing his form of knowledge and bliss, and thus can be called free of contamination (vimuktasya), he is in a condition of deprivation (kārpaṇyam) or durbhagatvam. Thus the jīva is in a state of bondage. This is because of māyā, which here means avidyā or ignorance, a function of māyā. These two, ignorance and bondage are mentioned as the cause.

          “The meaning is this. You have asked how the jīva loses knowledge because of māyā . . . One may forget that one has a jewel locket hanging over one’s chest, and lament that one has lost the jewel. . . . Because of jīva’s association with beginningless ignorance, the jīva forgets his knowledge and bliss, identifies with the body and the body’s qualities, and thus becomes durbhagatvam.”

          Clouds arise by the power of the sun and in doing so may cover its rays but not itself. Bhagavan is behind everything and has acintya sakti.

  3. It has come to our attention that a devotee we are familar with, who is currently staying in North Carolina, is trolling the Harmonist site under various false names, such as James B, JIVA, Madan Mohan prabhu, and others. As such, we have stopped approving his comments. Several of them refer to the site “James B” mentions in this post.

    I am aware of all of the articles that James B refers to. In an often supercilious tone, the author of the articles repeatedly misrepresents my position. I am not impressed with his arguments, and I will answer them in my upcoming book.

    I would encourage the devotee who is trolling the Harmonist to give up his deceptive tactics.

  4. I agree that Bhakti is both inherent and bestowed. Not that I have any position to weigh in other than that Krishna, God, bestows. It’s inherent because, as you say, it’s the constitutional position of the soul, according to Gaudiya Vaishnavism, and that’s apparent to me as a casual reader of Bhaktivinode and Srila Prabhupada. However, it’s potency is so great that, how could we realize it without the mercy of a Vaishnava of real standing such as your Guru Maharaja! The Swarup Shakti is so pure that without the connection to Bhakti through parimpara, maybe we’d never even remember it…. The love of self realization is altogether another divine shakti, albeit more naturalistic or material consciousness. Without a connection to Sri Chaitanya’s lineage there is no smaranam unless you are truly lucky. Then you seek the connection anyway because Bhakti breeds desire for Bhakti. Christianity is similar, and though it does not require a guru it does require a connection to Apostolic succession and continuity of theological training. God is One, and reconnecting to one’s supreme destiny, which is outside of time, seems to be the way in which God showers love and true catharsis/forgiveness on His worshipper.

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