Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinode Thakura

               (from the Introduction to Sri Krishna-samhita)

         The people of India and other countries may be divided into
         two categories- the asslike and the swanlike. Of these two,
         the asslike are in the majority. The swanlike are in the
         minority. Swanlike people abstract the purport of the
         scriptures for their own advancement and thus benefit

           Everyone has the right to discuss spiritual topics. Yet
         people are divided into three categories according to their
         qualifications. Those who do not posses independent power of
         discrimination are in the first category and are called
         neophytes, or those with soft faith. They have no alternative
         to faith. If they do not accept whatever the compilers of the
         scriptures write as the order of the Lord, then they fall down.
         They are qualified only for understanding the gross meanings
         of the science of Krsna; they have no qualification for
         understanding the subtle meanings. Until they gradually
         advance by good association and instruction, they should try
         to advance under the shelter of faith. Those who have not
         yet succeeded in connecting faith with argument are second
         grade persons, or madhyama-adhikaris. And those who are
         expert in connecting these two are perfect in all respects.
         They are able to attain perfection by utilizing material
         resources in their independent endeavors. They are called
         topmost persons, or uttama-adhikaris.


           Sectarianism is a natural byproduct of the Absolute Truth.
         When acaryas first ascertain and instruct the Truth, it is not
         polluted with sectarianism. But the rules and regulations
         received through disciplic succession regarding the goal and
         the method of achieving it are changed in due course of time
         according to the mentality and locale of the people. A rule
         that is followed by one society is not necessarily accepted in
         another society. That is why one community is different from
         another. As a community gradually develops more respect for
         its own standards, it develops hatred towards other
         communities and considers their standards inferior. These
         sectarian symptoms are seen in all countries since time
         immemorial. This is prominent amongst neophytes and found
         to some extent amongst madhyama-adhikaris. Amongst
         uttama-adhikaris, however, there is no trace of sectarianism.
         Adherence to a particular standart is the prominent symptom
         of a society. There are three types of standards-alocakagata,
         alocanagata, and alocyagata. Alocakagata is when
         sectarianists accept some external signs. Examples of
         alocakagata are tilaka, neck beads, saffron robes, and the
         baptism that is practiced abroad.

           The different activities practiced in the process of worship
         are called alocanagata. Examples of alocanagata are
         sacrifices, austerities, fire sacrifices, vows, studying
         scriptures, deity worship, constructing temples, respecting
         the purity of various trees and rivers, dressing like sannyasis,
         acting like acaryas, dressing like brahmacaris or grhasthas,
         closing one s eyes, respecting particular types of books, rules
         and regulations in eating, and respecting the purity of
         particular times and places. The examples of alocyagata are
         attributing personalism or impersonalism on the Supreme Lord,
         installing deities, exhibiting the mood of an incarnation of the
         Lord, speculating on heaven and hell, and describing the
         future destination of the soul. The different forms of these
         spiritual activities create divisions of sectarianism.

           Differences that arise from places, times, languages,
         behaviors, foods, dresses, and natures of various communities
         are incorporated within people s spiritual practices and
         gradually make one community so completely different from
         another community that even the consideration that
         everyone is a human being may cease to exist. Due to these
         differences there is disagreement, cessation of social
         intercourse, and fighting, even up to the point of killing one
         another. When an asslike mentality becomes prominent within
         the kanistha-adhikaris, they certainly indulge in these things.
         But if they develop a swanlike mentality, then they do not
         take part in quarrels; rather, they endeavor to attain a higher
         level. Madhyama-adhikaris do not quarrel so much about
         external standards, but they are always attacked by
         philosophical disagreements. Sometimes they condemn the
         standards of neophytes and establish their own standards as
         superior. They condemn the neophytes deity worship in order
         to establish the worshipable Lord as formless. In such cases,
         they are also considered asslike people. Otherwise, if they
         had a swanlike mentality and a desire to attain a higher level,
         they would respect others practices and inquire about higher

           Contradictions actually arise only due to asslike mentality.
         Swanlike persons consider the necessity for different
         practices according to one‘s qualification, so they are
         naturally detached from sectarian quarrels. In this regard, it
         should be understood that both asslike and swanlike people
         are found amongst the kanistha-adhikaris and
         madhyama-adhikaris. I do not expect that asslike people will
         accept this book with respect. If neophytes and
         madhyama-adhikaris become completely indifferent in regard
         to the contradictions found in various practices and try to
         advance further, then they become swanlike persons. Then
         they are our respectable and dear friends. Although swanlike
         personalities may accept a particular practice from birth or
         childhood according to instructions they have received, they
         nevertheless remain indifferent and nonsectarian.

           The religious principles that will be explained and
         established in this book are very difficult to name. If these
         principles are given a particular sectarian name, then other
         sects will oppose them. Srimad Bhagavatam has therefore
         extablished sanatana-dharma as satvata-dharma, or religious
         principles related with the Absolute Truth. Another name for
         these religious principles is Vaisnava-dharma. Asslike
         Vaisnavas fall into the categories of Saktas (followers of
         Durga), Sauras (followers of the sun-god), Ganapatyas
         (followers of Ganesa), Saivites (followers of Siva), and
         Vaisnavas (followers of Visnu). But swanlike Vaisnavas are
         nonsectarian and, therefore, rare. These five types of
         above-mentioned spiritualists, as found in India, are named
         according to their respective qualifications. Human beings
         have two types of tendencies-arthic, or material, and
         paramarthic, or spiritual. Material tendencies include
         maintaining the body, constructing a house, marrying,
         begetting children, studying, earning wealth, material science,
         factory work, acquiring and maintaining assets, and
         accumulating piety. Although there are some similarities
         between the activities of human and animals, the material
         endeavors of humans are nevertheless superior to the natural
         tendencies of animals. If after executing their material
         activities human beings do not take shelter of their
         constitutional activities, then they are called two-legged

           The constitutional activities of a pure soul are called
         sva-dharma, or one s prescribed activities. The sva-dharma
         of a living entity is prominently manifested in his pure state of
         existence. In one s pure state of existence this sva-dharma is
         present in the form of spiritual activities. All the
         above-mentioned material tendencies become succesful when
         dovetailed with spiritulal activities, otherwise they cannot
         independently help one attain the highest goal. From
         engagement in material activities up to the awakening of
         spiritual activities is called the preliminary stage of God
         consciousness. From this preliminary stage up to the
         uttama-adhikari stage there are innumerable levels. Inquiring
         about truth of the material world is called Sakta-dharma,
         because the predominating deity of the material world is
         goddess Durga.

           All behavior and practice instructed in Sakta-dharma is
         helpful only in the preliminary stage. Such behavior and
         practice is meant to bring one closer to spiritual life, and
         materialistic people may be attracted by this only until they
         begin to inquire about the Supreme Absolute Truth.
         Sakta-dharma is the living entities initial spiritual endeavor,
         and it is extremely essential for people of that level. When
         the preliminary stage is further strengthened, one attains the
         next level. One then considers the energy of work and the
         superiority of heat over dull matter, and one therefore
         accepts the sun-god, who is the source of heat, as one s
         worshipable deity. At that time, Saura-dharma is awakened.
         Later, when one considers even heat as dull matter and
         animal consciousness as superior, one attains the third stage,
         Ganapatya-dharma. In the fourth gross stage, Lord Siva is
         worshiped as the pure consciousness of the living entities,
         and Saiva-dharma manifests. In the fifth stage, the
         consciousness of the living entity worships the supreme
         consciousness, and thus Vaisnava-dharma is manifest. By
         nature, there are five types of paramarthic dharmas, or
         spiritual duties, which have been known throughout the world
         by different names at different times. If one considers all the
         different dharmas that are current in India and abroad, one
         can see that they certainly fall within these five categories.

           The religious principles taught by Mohammed and Jesus
         Christ are similar to the religious principles thaught by
         Vaisnava sects. Buddhism and Jainism are similar to
         Saiva-dharma. This is scientific consideration of truths
         regarding religious principles. Those who consider their own
         religious principles as real dharma and others religious
         principles as irreligion or subreligion are unable to ascertain
         the truth due to being influenced by prejudice. Actually
         religious principles followed by people in general are different
         only due to the different qualifications of the practitioners,
         but the constitutional religious principles of all living entities
         are one. It is not proper for swanlike persons to reject the
         religious principles that people in general follow according to
         their situation. Therefore, with due respect to the religious
         principles followed by people in general, we will now discuss
         the living entities constitutional religious principles.

           Satvata-dharma, or nonsectarian Vaisnava-dharma, is the
         living entities constitutional, or eternal, religious principles.
         The Vaisnava principles that are found in the
         Mayavada-sampradaya are only indirect imitations of those
         principles. When such sectarian Vaisnava principles become
         transcendental, that is, when they are freed from
         impersonalism, then they become Satvata-dharma, or religious
         principles related with the Supreme Truth. The different
         sampradayas, namely dvaita (dualism) dvaitadvaita
         (simultaneous oneness and difference), suddhadvaita (purified
         oneness), and visistadvaita (specific monism) that are found
         in satvata-dharma are nothing but wonderful varieties of
         sentiments within the Vaisnava science. Actually the various
         sampradayas are not the result of differences in the basic
         truth. Impersonalism is diametrically opposite to the science
         of bhakti. Those Vaisnavas who have accepted impersonalism
         are not pure Vaisnavas.


To Love God (Reprinted from a journal of Tajpur, dated Friday, 25th August, 1871) Written By Thakur Bhaktivinoda

 It was Jesus Christ who first said “Love God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and love man as thy brother.” This is an absolute truth indeed; but different men put different interpretations to this noble expression. The expressions of all great men are nice but somewhat mysterious- when understood they bring the truth nearest to the heart otherwise they remain mere letters that “kill.” The reason of the mystery is that men, advanced in their inward approach to the Deity, are in the habit of receiving revelations which are but mysteries to those that are behind them.

 The stages of progress are very much the same as the circles of spiritualism which, though not true themselves, explain a great deal about the gradual development of the soul. We have understood some spiritualists to maintain that matter when sublimated converts itself to spirit. This theory is indeed against any inward conviction. Matter is matter, and Spirit is Spirit; one of them cannot form the other. Spirit is certainly of a superior existence; though we cannot fully understand in our present state of material imprisonment, what relation Spirit does exactly bear to matter space and time.

 Metaphysics apart, we decide that the human soul rises higher and higher and can understand things of which we have no idea at present. Subject to this important rule, Jesus Christ of Nazareth received and uttered the words quoted above. To readers who are a little above the scale of ordinary men, these expressions of Jesus teach that men should [-----missing part------] the affections of the heart perceivable in all children as apposed to hate, with all his mind, (meaning the intellect which knows as opposed to ignorance of good things) with all his soul, (meaning that principle of that human constitution which worships the almighty and feels its own immortality) and with all his strength (meaning all active work).

 To the inspired, however, more things and better sublimer meanings appear beneath theses holy words of the Inspired Jesus. He teaches man to love God and not to know, infer, hate, or think of God. He tells us that man in his absolute state is not the intellect of the body but is the pure Soul itself. The essence of the soul is wisdom and its action is love absolute. The absolute condition of man is his absolute relation to the Deity in pure love. Love then alone is the religion of the Soul and consequently of the whole man. The pupil asks here “What have I to do with the heart?- my heart loves to see the ‘sun to smile’, to eat the sweetest dish and to see a dance’. Jesus profoundly replies “yes, you must love God with all thy heart, your heart now runs to other things than God, but you must, as you train a bad horse, make your feelings run to the loving God.” This is one of the four principles of worship or what they call in Vaishnava Literature, Shanta Rasa,

 Then the pupil says “my Lord, the intellect takes me elsewhere from God, i.e., it wants to take me to Positivism; please instruct me what am I to do?” “ Yes”. Replies Jesus “you must love God with all your mind [--missing word--] and reason, you must not allow yourself to be a dry thinker but must love. Love alone can soften the dryness of the intellect; you must develop the intellect on all good and holy things by means of love of truth spiritual beauty and harmony.” This is the second phase of Vaishnava development which passes by the name of Dashya Rasa. The pupil then inquires whether the development of the affections and the intellect is quite enough for him. Then says the Lord “you must love God with thy soul also, i.e., you must perceive yourself in spiritual communication with the Deity and receive holy revelations in your sublimist hours of worship.”

 This is called the Sakhya Rasa of the Vaishnavas, - the Soul approaching the Deity in holy and fearless service. The disciple apprehends that he will be lost in such a position and will be unable to act. Then the Savior tells him these words “you must love God with all thy strength or will, - you are wrong in concluding that you will loose you active existence – you will get it the more. Work for God and work to God, proceeding from no interested views but from a holy free will (which is alone the strength of man) and identifying itself with pure love, will fully engross your attention.” This description is of Bhakti in general. Then Jesus proceeds to tell us “You must love man as thy brother.” From this is inferred to fourth phase of love which is a feeling that all men are brothers and God is their common Father. This is Baishalya Rasa in its first stage of development.

 Bhakti (love) is thus perceived in the very first development of the man in the shape of heart, then in the shape of mind, then in the shape of soul and lastly in the shape of will. These shapes do not destroy each other but beautifully harmonize themselves into a pure construction of what we call the spiritual man or the Ekanta of Vaishnava Literature.

 But there is another sublimer truth behind this fact which is revealed to a few that are prepared for it. We mean that spiritual conversion of the Soul into a woman. It is in that sublime and lofty state in which the soul can taste the sweets of an indissoluble marriage with God of love. The fifth or the highest stage of Vaishnava development is this, which we call Madura Rasa, and on this alone the most beautiful portions of the Vaishnava Literature so ably expatiates. This phase of human life, mysterious as it is, is not attainable by all, nay, we should say, by any but “Gods own”. It is so very beyond the reach of common men that the rationalists and even the ordinary theists cannot understand it, nay, they go so far as to sneer a tit as something unnatural. Oh God I reveal Thy most valuable truths to all so that Your own may not be numbered with the fanatics and the crazed and that the whole of mankind may be admitted as “Your own.”

Other Works of Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

Navadwip Dham Mahatmya

Navadwip Bhava Taranga

Tattwa Sutram - The Truth

The Songs of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur

Bhaktivinoda Thakur identifying and commenting on the Deviant sampradayas (Apasampradayas)

Further Writings of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur

Mayik World - 1896

Love over Rationalism - 1871

Moses to Mahaprabhu