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Maintaining Devotion during Unsteady Practice: Conclusion

By highlighting the mentalities of unsteady devotional practice in his Madhurya Kadambini, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has provided great assistance to the devotional neophyte. Direct experience or observance of the six specific stages, and other lingering materialistic mentalities and emotions not mentioned, that arises during initial devotional practice affords a spiritual perspective whereby detachment from their consequence can be successfully cultivated. Additionally, well-informed practice during the difficult stage of anartha-nivritti (removal of the false values unfavorable to bhakti), helps in the avoidance of aparadhas to the holy name that can greatly hamper steady progress. Such knowledgable practice also leads to a truthful regard for one’s actual level of spiritual advancement and experienced benefits are not over estimated at the expense of focus on the important practice at hand.

Seeing our determined effort to attain steady devotion, free of contrary mentalities, bhakti quickly dissipates impediments and one is placed on the platform of nistha, steady devotional practice. Then one’s spiritual practice that was ofttimes experienced as bitter medicine is transformed to a nourishing meal, which gradually transforms into an eloquent banquet as transcendental loving emotion becomes manifest at the stage of bhava bhakti. But this wondrous feast is ultimately abandoned with complete disregard, as one becomes completely overwhelmed with loving sentiment for Krishna both in meeting and separation, at the stage of prema bhakti.

Having taken shelter at the feet of the loving sadhu with whose association I have been blessed and attentively hearing his instructions, a renewed confidence and enthusiasm to successfully navigate the path of sadhana-bhakti has flooded my consciousness. Lying in prostrate obeisance and overcome with deep gratitude, I realize there is no renumeration sufficient with which I could even begin to retire my transcendental indebtedness to my newfound guru. In him there exists such a depth of knowledge in bhakti that I realize my transcendental voyage under his tutelage has just begun; to ever leave his association would result only in the loss of my full spiritual potential. 

Looking upon his effulgent face through tear-drenched eyes, I see a compassionate smile emerge – acknowledging my aspiration for eternal shelter at his lotus feet. 

Articles in Series:

Introduction

Stage 1: Enthusiasm in Prideful Practice – utsaha-mayi

Stage 2: Productive and inattentive service – ghana-tarala

Stage 3: Parading possibilities – vyudha vikalpa

Stage 4: A battle with the senses – viṣaya sangaraḥ

Stage 5: Unfulfilled commitment – niyamakṣamaḥ

Stage 6: Exploiting bhakti’s benedictions – taranga rangiṇi

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