Good Qualities and Devotion
By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
All good qualities automatically appear in a devotee; there is no need to endeavor for them.
In the book Bhakti-rasamrtasindhu, auspiciousness (Subhada) has been described as one of the six glories of bhakti. The question, “How many kinds of auspiciousness are there?” is answered as follows:
sad-gunah sukham ity
adiny akhyatani manisibhih
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (Eastern Division, Sadhana-lahari 28)
Learned sages have described the meaning of auspiciousness as love for the entire creation, caring affection for all living entities, saintly character, happiness, and other such qualities. The person in whom bhakti has arisen bestows affection to the whole world and becomes the object of attachment for everyone in the world. He effortlessly becomes the recipient of all saintly qualities and attains all types of pure happiness and auspiciousness. Learned scholars have described all these attributes as symptoms of auspiciousness. All good qualities, and the demigods themselves, reside in bhagavad-bhaktas.
The following words of the Bhagavata (5.18.12) describe that devotee who possesses all good qualities:
Good Qualities and Devotion
Srila BhaktiVinoda Thakura
asyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih
“One who has unflinching devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead has all the good qualities of the demigods. But one who is not a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications that are of little value. This is because he is hovering on the mental plane and is certain to be attracted by the glaring material energy.”
All good qualities along with the devatas take shelter of that person who has akincana-bhakti for Bhagavan. How can all good qualities appear in a nondevotee whose mind always runs towards temporary worldly affairs? The Skanda Purana states:
ete na hy adbhuta vyadha
tava himsadayo gunah
hari-bhaktau pravrtta ye na
te syuh para-tapinah
“O hunter! Good qualities, like non-violence, which you have developed, are not very astonishing, for those who are engaged in Haribhakti are by nature never inclined to give pain to others.”
ami gunah prapadyante
“Internal and external purity, austerity, peacefulness and so on, take shelter of a person desiring to serve Hari.”
THE GOOD QUALITIES OF A VAISNAVA
A list of good qualities has been compiled in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.78-80):
krpalu, akrta-droha, satya-sara sama nirdosa, vadanya, mrdu, Suci, akincana
sarvopakaraka, Santa, krsnaika Sarana
akama, niriha, sthira, vijita-saò guna mita-bhuk, apramatta, manada, amani
gambhira, karuna, maitra, kavi, daksa, mauni
Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, exclusively surrendered to Krsna, and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad qualities: lust, anger, greed and so forth. They eat only as much as required, and they are not inebriated. They are respectful, grave, compassionate and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert and silent.
All these good qualities accompany bhakti. Now the following question arises: Does Bhakti Devi manifest after the appearance of all these qualities, or do all these good qualities take shelter of the bhakta in whom bhakti appears?
NO NEED FOR SEPERATE ENDEAVOR
The above question is answered as follows. According to the bhaktiSastras a jiva develops faith in bhakti on the strength of sukrti caused by a desire to perform bhakti. On attaining faith in bhakti, the jiva takes shelter at the feet of a sadhu and engages in bhajana. Immediately before engaging in bhajana, many anarthas, meaning those things that are opposed to good qualities, remain in him. By the strength of bhakti and sadhusaìga, all anarthas effortlessly melt away while performing bhajana, and in their place all good qualities naturally arise. Until anarthas are annihilated and auspicious qualities manifest, one remains on the stage of bhajanabhasa or namabhasa. As one performs Suddha-bhajanai that is, chants Suddha-namai anarthas are destroyed and simultaneously saintly qualities manifest. At this time, the sadhaka has no taste for sinful activities or anarthas. For this reason Sri Mahaprabhu said in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 15.107):
eka krsna-name kare
nava-vidha bhakti pürna
nama haite haya
Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna once, a person is relieved from all the reactions of a sinful life. One can complete the nine processes of devotional service simply by chanting the holy name. All the good qualities, such as jivedaya (mercy to all living entities), nispapata (a non-sinful nature), satyasarata (truthfulness), samadarSitva (equal vision), dainya (humility), Santi (peacefulness), gambirya (gravity), saralata (simplicity), maitri (amiability), daksata (expertise), asat-kathay audasinya (indifference to mundane talk), pavitrata (purity), tucchakama tyaga (the renunciation of useless work) and many others, naturally arise along with the appearance of Krsna bhakti. It is not for the bhakta to attempt to attain other qualities separately from performing bhajana. The cultivation of Suddhabhakti is indeed sufficient to achieve this. By cultivating Suddha-bhakti, anarthas are quickly destroyed and auspicious qualities are quickly awakened.
NO YOGA NO MORALITY
To cultivate the traditional practices of yoga such as yama, niyama, pratyahara and so on, is troublesome; and success, which only comes after a long period of practice, is checked by unwanted obstructions. As long as the jiva does not develop faith leading to bhakti, known as bhakti-unmukhi Sraddha, the determination to develop these qualities of the yoga path remains in him. Therefore only by performing bhajana in the association of a sadhu will all good qualities appear in that person in whom Sraddha has arisen. Auspicious qualities are cultivated on the paths of yoga and morality but a bhakta does not need to separately cultivate them. Persons on other paths may attain all good qualities, but in the absence of bhakti, these qualities are like many ornaments on an ugly lady, and can never actually be beautiful. On the other hand if, by the mercy of a sadhu, they fortunately gain bhaktiunmukhi Sraddha, they will undoubtedly perform sadhana immediately to achieve uttamabhakti.
ACCEPT THE SHELTER OF KRSNA BHAKTI
O brothers who are filled with good qualities! Do not waste your time uselessly. Please make your life and dharma successful by taking shelter of the lotus feet of a devotee. This is the highest fruit of whatever auspicious qualities you have attained. It is incorrect to think that just by accumulating auspicious qualities one will get bhakti. Auspicious qualities will automatically appear in a person who has bhakti. One may have all auspicious qualities other than having taken one pointed shelter of Krsna (krsnaikaSarana), but until he develops faith in bhakti, he will not attain bhakti. Without possessing Krsna bhakti, even auspicious qualities are not glorious. You should know that the life of a jiva who is endowed with all auspicious qualities but bereft of Krsna bhakti, is useless.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is a great spiritual teacher and the father of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.