[ Excerpts from Sri Caitanya-shikshamrita, chapter one. First published in 1886, by Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakur. ]

Four Types of Motivated Worship

According to his condition man attempts to please the Lord for four reasons:

1) Bhaya – Out of fear.
2) Asha – For satisfying material aspirations.
3) Kartavya-buddhi – Out of a sense of duty.
4) Raga – Out of a genuine attraction to the Lord.

Persons who worship the Lord out of stimulation of fear, bhaya, include those who are afraid of hell, poverty, pain, and death. Persons who worship the Lord to satisfy their material aspirations, asha, worship and pray with great intensity for material happiness and for the gain of greater material advancement. There is so much pure joy in the process of ishvara-sadhana, worship of the Lord, that although beginning their worship out of motivations of fear or desiring material aspirations, many eventually give up such motivated worship and become attached to shuddha-bhajana, pure worship of the Lord. Then there are those who have begun to worship the Lord with feelings of gratitude arisen from conceiving of Him as God the creator. Their mode of worship is known as kartavya-buddhi. Although not impelled by bhaya, asha or kartavya-buddhi, those who approach the Lord with natural affection begin to worship Him in raga. Simply by seeing a particular object, one’s heart instinctively runs after it without any consideration. One in whose heart attraction spontaneously arises as soon as he thinks of the Lord is worshipping according to raga. Those who take to worship of the Lord out of bhaya, asha or kartavya-buddhi are not on such a pure level. Those who worship the Lord according to raga are real worshippers.

The Purity of Raga Bhajana

The living entity and the Lord have a deep relationship. When raga appears, this relationship becomes visible. The relationship is eternal, no doubt, but for the materially bound-up jiva it remains hidden. Given the right opportunity, it appears. Just as fire appears when you strike a match or a flint, by sadhana, practice, this relationship makes its appearance. Many persons have even achieved this relationship through practice based on bhaya, asha and kartavya-buddhi. Dhruva first worshipped the Lord with a desire for a kingdom, but by sadhana there appeared in his heart attraction born of a pure relationship with the Lord. Thereafter he refused to accept the benediction of material happiness.

Regulated Worship Based on a Sense of Duty Compared to Worship Based on Other Than a Sense of Duty

Bhaya and asha are extremely low class. When a devotee’s intelligence becomes clear, he gives up bhaya and asha, and kartavya-buddhi becomes his sole motive. As long as raga towards the Lord has not appeared, the devotee should not give up worship according to kartavya-buddhi. From this sense of duty, kartavya-buddhi, two considerations arise: vidhi-samana – respect for the rules, and avidhi-parityagya – avoiding those things contrary to the rules. These rules for worship of the Lord were established by great devotees long ago and recorded in the scriptures. The following of the scriptures and reverence for the rules arises from the sense of duty, kartavya-buddhi.

The Progression of Faith in and Worship of the Lord According to the Progression of Consciousness

If we examine the historical records of all types of people around the world we will find it obvious that faith in God is man’s common and constant characteristic. Uncivilized forest tribals survive, like animals, on animal flesh, but they also worship the sun, the moon, huge mountains, large rivers and tall trees as their benefactors and controllers. Why do they do this? Though the jiva soul is extremely bound up, his faith in the Lord, which is the natural quality of the soul, will manifest to the degree that the material covering is weakened. When man becomes civilized and takes to various types of knowledge and education his faith becomes more covered due to materialistic logic, kutarka. Then atheism, or even worse, nirvanavada, voidism, takes hold of his mind. It is to be understood that all of these detestable types of faith are simply symptoms of weak and unhealthy consciousness.

Atheism and its Three Varieties

There are three lesser conditions of mankind between the primitive, uncivilized condition and complete faith in the beautiful Lord. These are known as:

1) Nastikyavada- atheism.
2) Jadavada – materialism.
3) Sandehuvada or nirvanavada – skepticism or voidism.

Acting as obstacles to their progress, these three conditions bring people to a lamentable state. Of course, not everyone will be so afflicted. Those who are attacked by these diseases become bound up and do not progress to higher stages of life. By performing proper ishvara-bhakti-sadhana, worship of the Lord, while cradled within the system of varnashrama-dharma [the ideal Vedic social system], even the uncivilized people of the jungle, by the strength of civilized manners, proper conduct, and good education, very quickly attain the life of a devotee. This is the natural path of progress for mankind. But if the diseases of these three materialistic philosophies afflict one, then the soul falls into an unnatural state of existence.

Physical and Mental Differences Among the Human Race

People in various countries on various continents have a wide variety of natures. Although their principal nature is only one, their secondary characteristics are many – you will not find any two people in the world who have identical secondary qualities. Since even twins born of the same womb have some difference in form and quality, can one expect that people born in different countries can ever have exactly the same qualities? Different countries have different water, air, mountains, forests, and different eatables and clothing. Because of this, the people of these places have naturally developed different physiques, complexions, customs, clothing and food. Similarly, people’s mentalities differ. Thus various people’s ideas of God, though being basically similar, will differ in secondary details. When men in different places surpass the uncivilized stage, they then step by step come to the civilized stage, then the inquisitive stage, the moral stage and finally the devotional stage. In the civilized stage differences will arise in language, in the inquisitive stage differences in dress, in the moral stage differences in food, and in the devotional stage differences in mentality. This gives rise to differences in the mode of worship of God. Considered objectively, there is no harm in secondary differences. If there is agreement concerning the essential nature of God and his worship, there should be no obstacle in attaining the same result. Thus Mahaprabhu has taught that we should instruct everyone to worship the pure form of the Lord, but at the same time we should not criticize others’ modes of worship.

Five Types of Differences Between Religions

Because of the above reasons, we see the following differences amongst the religions of different countries:

1) Differences in teachers.

2) Difference in the worshipper’s mentality and consequent expression of reverence.

3) Difference in the method of worship.

4) Difference in the conceptions and conventional actions concerning the object of worship.

5) Differences in God’s names and teachings due to linguistic differences.

Differences in Spiritual Teachers

Thus people in some places give respect to the rsis, in other places they respect preachers like Muhammad, etc. In other countries they respect Jesus and other religious souls, and in many other places of the world people give respect to other various wise men. It is imperative that the people of each country give proper respect to their native saints. Although one may believe that the teachings of a saintly person of one’s own country are superior to the teachings of the saints of all other countries, still one should not try to establish and preach such controversy in other countries. No good will come to the world from such preaching.

Differences in Procedures of Worship Which Arise from Differences in Thoughts and Feelings

Concerning different expressions of reverence, in some places the worshipper sits on an asana, and after performing nyasa and pranayama he begins his worship. Somewhere else, those persons who wear a mukta-kaccha [a lungi, a type of cloth that Muslims generally wear] perform their worship by standing and facing their holy place then falling down and prostrating themselves five times a day. Elsewhere, others kneel down, fold their hands together and expressing their own humility they sing praises of the Lord in their house or place of worship. According to different places, many varieties of considerations are seen in regards to what is pure and impure in dress, food, behavior, etc. during the time of worship.

If one examines different religions, one will see various procedures of worship. One will also observe different conceptions concerning the object of worship. Some people, overcome with devotion in their hearts, establish the shri-murti, the form of the Lord, in their hearts and also in the external world. Understanding that the form so established is non-different from the Lord within, they worship that form.

Differences in the Forms of Worship Which Arise From Differences in Conceptions and Conventional Actions

In some religions, because of greater emphasis on logic, the worshipper simply forms a conception of God in the mind and worships it. They do not accept the external form of God. In reality, however, all their conceptions are forms of the Lord.

Differences in Designation of the Lord Due to Differences in Language

According to language differences, different religions call God by different names. The religions have different names. The languages used during worship are also different.

Non-Criticism and Non-Envy of the Practices of Worship of Other Religions

Because of these five differences it is only natural that various religions will appear quite different. However, it is improper and detrimental to argue over these differences. If one goes to visit someone else’s place of worship, while there one should think, “These people are worshipping my Lord, but in a different way. Because of my different practices I cannot quite enter into this system of worship. However, through this experience I can deepen my appreciation for my own system of worship. The Lord is only one, not two. I offer respect to the form I see here and pray to the Lord in this new form that He increase my love for the form that I am accustomed to.”

Criticism or Envy are Fit to be Abandoned

Those who do not follow this procedure but instead criticize other systems of worship and show hatred, violence, and envy, are worthless and foolish. In proportion to their lack of interest in the Lord to that degree they have affection for use arguments.

The Importance of Rejecting False Religious Practices

However, one should consider the following point. It is worthless to criticize differences in types of worship, but if one sees a genuine fault one should not show any appreciation for it. It is beneficial for the jives if one attempts to correct the fault in the proper way. Thus Mahaprabhu, in discussing with the Buddhists, Jains, and impersonalists, led them to the proper path. The devotees of Lord Chaitanya should always take the Lord’s behavior as the proper example to follow.

Varieties of False Religion

The devotee does not accept as real religions those religions that are filled with atheism, skepticism, materialism, pantheism, and impersonalism. He knows them to be vidharma, anti-religious movements, chala-dharma, false religion, or dharmabhasa, mere semblances of religion. These are all adharma, atheism, and the position of their followers is regrettable. The devotees must try to protect people from these false religions.

Love for the Lord is the Eternal Religion

Pure love is the eternal function of the soul. Though the above mentioned five differences may exist, that religion which aims at true love is the real religion. We should not quarrel over external differences. If the goal of a religion is pure love, then all else is adjusted. Atheism, skepticism, polytheism, materialism, pantheism, and impersonalism are by their nature contrary to love. This will be shown later on.

Krishna-prema and its Characteristics

Such pure love is love of Krishna. The characteristic of love is that it resides in one entity and takes another as its object. Prema cannot exist without ashraya, the abode of love, and visaya, the object of love. The abode of prema is the heart of the living entity. The object of prema is Krishna alone. When completely pure prema arises, then the aspects or qualities of the Lord that one worships such as brahma-tva, the all-pervasiveness of the Lord; ishvara-tva, the aspect of the Lord as the Supreme Controller; and narayana-tva, the aspect of the Lord as the Supreme shelter of all living entities, are seen in their completeness in sri-krishnera-svarupa – the form of Krishna. On reading this book and understanding the concept of prema, this will be understood.

A person who argues just on hearing the name of Krishna is cheated of the real truth. Quarrelling about names is of no value. A person will naturally obtain a name of God suitable for his purposes.

The Srimad-Bhagavatam Speaks of Eternal, True Religion

The sweet qualities of Krishna as described in the crown jewel of scriptures, Srimad-Bhagavatam, were the personal realization of Vyasadeva through his spiritual vision. By following the instructions of Narada, Vyasadeva obtained devotional trance and saw the form of Krishna. Vyasadeva then described the sweet qualities of Krishna, for he realized that by developing devotion to the form of Krishna the living entities could drive away all forms of lamentation, illusion and fear.

Perception in Knowledge and Perception in Ignorance

Upon hearing or reading about Krishna and His sweet qualities, living entities will come to understand Him in two different ways according to their nature:

1) vidvat-pratiti – understanding in knowledge;
2) avidvat-pratiti – understanding without knowledge.

Even when Krishna is personally present and can be seen with mortal eyes, these two types of people will see Him in two different ways. The avidvat-janas see Krishna with jada-buddhi, mundane intelligence, and the vidvat-janas see Him with knowledge. If a person desires to learn more about these two types of perception, he may study the Sat-sandarbhas, Bhagavatamrita, and Sri Krishna-samhita under a competent authority. It is impossible to elaborate on this subject here. Briefly, vidvat-pratiti, realization in knowledge, may be described as realization under vidya-shakti, the knowledge potency of the Lord, and avidvat-pratiti, understanding without knowledge, may be described as an understanding of the Lord under the influence of ignorance.

The Importance of Understanding With Knowledge

If someone tries to understand Krishna through avidvat-pratiti then many controversies will arise. But if Krishna is understood through vidvat-pratiti there is no chance of any disagreement. Those interested in spiritual development should unhesitatingly accept vidvat-pratiti. What is the point of understanding through avidvat-pratiti and thereby falling into argument and confusion? In this way one will lose sight of the goal of life.

Knowledge Brings Inner Happiness Whereas Ignorance Brings an Impersonal Conception

I have given some idea about vidvat-pratiti. Vidvat-pratiti is possible for those persons who can give up material conceptions and conceive of spirit. They can then perceive Krishna with their spiritual eyes, hear His pastimes with their spiritual ears, and relish Krishna completely with their spiritual taste buds.

Krishna’s pastimes are completely non-material. Although Krishna can, by His inconceivable potency, become the object for the material eye, by nature He is not perceivable by material senses. Although during His manifest pastimes Krishna is perceived by the material senses, only those who have vidvat-pratiti obtain the genuine fruit of Krishna’s association. Normally, avidvat-pratiti operates. Thus most people understand Krishna as a temporary being, subject to birth, growth and decay. By avidvat-pratiti a person thinks that nirvisesha, the impersonal state devoid of qualities, is truth, and the savisesha, the personal state of God with qualities, is material. They conclude that since Krishna has qualities He is therefore material.

Beyond Reason and Logic

Understanding the Supreme Truth is not a matter of mundane logic. How can the limited intellect of man operate in relation to the unlimited Lord? But in addition to the logical faculty the jiva also possesses an innate devotional element, and through devotion, bhakti, the supreme truth can be understood and relished. What is known as vimala-prema, pure love, is the first fruit of this bhakti, and achieving that Krishna bestows His mercy in the form of the vidya-sakti, revealing Himself through knowledge to the jiva (vidvat-pratiti).

The Form of Krishna is the Most Suitable Object for Pure Love

Of all the modes of worshipping God in the world, that mode which is directed toward the form of Krishna is the only mode ideally suited for pure love. Pure love cannot be employed for worshipping Allah according to the Muslim scriptures. Even the Lord’s dear prophet could not see Allah’s form, for although the Lord is friendly He remains at a distance from the worshipper due to the conception of God as master. The concept of God in the Christian faith is also a distant entity, what to speak of the impersonal Brahman? Even Narayana is not a form by which the jiva can easily obtain pure love. Krishna alone, who resides in the spiritual abode of Vraja, can be the object of pure love.

The Intimacy of Krishna’s Abode

The abode of Krishna is full of bliss. Although majesty also resides there in fullness, it does not predominate. Rather, sweetness and eternal bliss predominate. The wealth in that abode is fruits, flowers and twigs. His citizens are the cows. His friends are the cowherd boys. His girl friends are the gopis. His food is butter, yogurt and milk. All the groves and forests are filled with love of Krishna. The Yamuna River is engaged in Krishna’s service. Everything in nature serves Him. Although elsewhere He is worshipped and revered by all as the Supreme Lord, here, as the life of all the inhabitants, He sometimes comes down to the worshiper’s level and sometimes even becomes subordinate.

Krishna is the Object of Sweet Love Free From Awe and Reverence
If it were not like this, then how could the low living entity have a relation of love with God? The Lord is the Supreme Truth. He performs the topmost pastimes. He is supremely independent and eager for the love of the living entities. Thus how can He hanker for man’s offering of worship or feel genuinely satisfied with it? Krishna, the reservoir of sweet pastimes, thus covers His majestic aspect with sweetness, accepts equality with or subordination to qualified living entities in transcendental Vrindavana, and feels bliss.

Krishna is Full of Sweetness and is the Object of Love

Can anyone who accepts pure love or prema as the highest goal accept anyone other than Krishna as the object of love? Due to language differences found in different cultures, a person following the path of pure love may not use the words “Krishna”, “Vrindavana”, “gopa”, “gopi”, “cows”, “Yamuna”, and “kadamba”. But such a pure practitioner will still necessarily have to adopt indirectly and through other words these same concepts of name, place, paraphernalia, form, and various pastimes. Thus, there is no other object of pure love except Krishna.

Rules to be Followed Before the Appearance of Pure Attraction

Until raga, pure attraction, arises in the heart of the jiva, the devotee with a sense of duty, kartavya-buddhi, must carefully cultivate Krishna consciousness by practicing the primary and subsidiary rules of worship.

Regulated Worship of Krishna vs. Worship of Krishna with Attachment

One will see that there are two ways of cultivating Krishna consciousness: through following rules, vidhi, and through attraction, raga. Raga is rare. When raga develops, the rules no longer have any strength. As long as raga has not developed one must take shelter of regulations. This is imperative for man. But the scriptures have outlined these two paths. The path of raga is extremely independent and there are no set rules for it. Only those who are most advanced and fortunate can practice via this path. Therefore in the scriptures only the path of vidhi has been presented systematically.

Worldly Rules are Morality

Those unfortunate persons who do not believe in God also formulate rules for maintaining their lives. Such rules are called niti, morality. Even though presented skillfully, those moral codes that do not include thought of God cannot accomplish any good for mankind. They are atheistic.

Progressive Rules are Those Based on Faith in God

Only those codes which instill faith in the Lord and give one a sense of duty towards Him should be honored by mankind. Vidhi are of two types:

1) mukhya, primary;
2) gauna, subsidiary.

Primary and Subsidiary Rules

When the only purpose in the practitioner’s life is to satisfy the Lord, the rules followed to directly achieve that goal are known as mukhya-vidhi or primary rules. The rules followed which have as their aim something a little apart from the direct satisfaction of the Lord are known as gauna-vidhi or subsidiary rules. This will become clear by giving an example. Taking an early morning bath is a rule. By doing this, the body becomes fresh and disease-free and the mind becomes steady. If the mind is steady, one can worship the Lord properly. Here the goal, worship of the Lord, is not the immediate intention of the bath. The bath’s direct result is bodily comfort. If bodily comfort is accepted as the final goal of the bath, then worship of the Lord is not achieved at all. The fruit of the activity is worship of the Lord. There is a distance between the fruit obtained by worshipping the Lord and the fruit obtained by the activities such as bathing. In whatever way the result is obtained is situated at a distance from the goal of worship of the Lord, to that extent there is a possibility of obstruction in achieving the goal.

Characteristics of Primary and Subsidiary Rules

Following the primary rules is directly worship of the Lord. There is no difference between following the rules and worshipping. Chanting and hearing the Lord’s name and glories are two mukhya-vidhis, because their direct result is worship of the Lord. Although we must always remember the mukhya-vidhis, if we don’t observe the gauna-vidhis we cannot properly maintain either our bodies or our lives. And if we cannot maintain our lives, how can we follow the primary rules of devotional service? The subsidiary rules are the ornament of a man’s life. Material education, technology, industry, civilization, order, perseverance, bodily, mental and social rules are included, in that they may be used to bring mankind to serve the feet of the Lord sincerely. Being servants of the primary rules, by the Lord’s grace the gauna-vidhis make the life of mankind blissful both during practice and perfection.

The Conditions of Different Human Beings

There are many grades of human life: primitive life, civilized life, life equipped with material sciences, atheistic moral life, theistic moral life, life endowed with vaidhi-bhakti, and life endowed with prema-bhakti. However, the real life of man begins with theistic moral life. Without belief in God, human life is no better than that of an animal, no matter how much civilized or advanced in scientific knowledge or moral principles it may be.

Life Without Devotion is Animal Life

Real human life begins when a person accepts the rules and prohibitions of theistic moral life. In this book the discussion begins from this stage of life. Civility, morality and material science are considered as ornaments to this life. How the theistic moral life culminates in devotional life will be discussed in this book. The life of the living entity is called jaiva-dharma, the living entity’s inherent nature. For the human being, jaiva-dharma is called manava (human) dharma. Man’s dharma is of two types: gauna and mukhya, subsidiary and primary, or sambandhika and svarupagata, incidental and inherent. Sambandhika, subsidiary or incidental dharma, takes shelter of matter, material qualities, and material relations. Svarupagata, primary dharma, takes shelter of the pure soul. Mukhya-dharma is the real dharma of the soul. Gauna-dharma, subsidiary dharma, is of no value, being a transformation of the mukhya-dharma under the influence of material qualities.

Subsidiary and Primary Identity

When the material qualities are removed, the primary dharma of the living entity exists in its pure state. Subsidiary dharma is also called conditioned dharma. When the material conditions are removed, primary dharma remains. Considerations of punya and papa, piety and sin, are subsidiary rules and are included in the subsidiary dharma. The subsidiary dharma does not leave the living entity, but in its maturity, when the living entity is freed of the material modes, it develops into the primary dharma. The subsidiary dharma appears in the conditioned state by an unnatural transformation of the primary dharma. By a positive transformation of the subsidiary dharma the primary dharma appears again.

The Three Names Ishvara, Bhagavan, and Krishna

In this chapter we have completed examining the distinctions between the subsidiary rules and prohibitions and the primary rules and prohibitions. In the following chapters we will discuss the perfectional stage of the living entity, prema-bhakti. In this first chapter the different words “Ishvara”, “Bhagavan”, and “Krishna” have been used. The reader should not think that these words refer to separate entities. Krishna is the only object of worship for the living entities. Krishna is the complete revelation of sweetness in God. When we consider Krishna in relation to other objects and need the emphasize His lordship, we use the word “Ishvara”. Thus in the beginning I have used the word “Ishvara” instead of “Krishna”. The meaning of “Ishvara” is nothing more than the natural control that Krishna displays towards the objects of His creation. For instance, in analyzing the objects of existence, this word “Ishvara” is used: cit, acit and ishvara or the conscious living entities, unconscious matter and the Supreme Lord.