NINE STAGES OF BHAKTI YOGA (ADVANCEMENT IN DEVOTION) EXPLAINED!
In the beginning, no one can be elevated to the highest stage of devotional service.
DEVOTEE means one who is trying to be a devotee through reformation by practicing devotional recommendations (Vaidhi Bhakti). During the Vaidhi Bhakti process, chance of loving Krishna spontaneously is not usually possible. Pure Love buds only in the advanced stage of devotional development.
(I love Krishna, but, I am unable to love the people of this world. What to do? READ HERE!)
Although one may become free from the reactions of Past karma by following Vaidhi Bhakti (devotional Practices), this cannot promote a sinful man to the stage of loving service to the Lord.
We may say “I love Krishna more than anyone else”. But, Pure love with Krishna is a stage in which we have no pending karma and attachments. At that stage, we will not even say that we love Krishna. Because, we will be fully immersed in the Prema of Krishna.
Lord Krishna/Vishnu is not satisfied simply by a ritualistic adherence to Vedic instructions; He is actually pleased when one attains the stage of Pure devotional service. So, these ritualistic adherence of rules are ONLY TO TAKE A DEVOTEEE TO THE STAGE OF PURE LOVE GRADUALLY.
All the Devotional Practices such as Chanting, Fasting, Offering food to Krishna, worshiping Krishna, religious marks, etc, that are prescribed in the scriptures are meant to purify the mundane qualities of the conditioned souls to enable them to be gradually promoted to the stage of rendering transcendental loving service unto the Supreme Lord.
How it happens? This Post is to learn those stages.
One should make his progress till he attains Pure devotional service to Krishna.
Strong attachment for the transcendental service of the Lord develops and if he steadfastly proceeds in this way, he is certainly elevated to spontaneous love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead
Now, Let us see the stages in which Vaidhi Bhakti gradually develops to the stage of Pure Love to Krishna (Prema).
(TEN STEPS FORMULA TO DEVELOP LOVE WITH KRISHNA PERMANENTLY! READ HERE!)
9 STAGES OF BHAKTI YOGA (ADVANCEMENT IN DEVOTION)
(1) SRADDHA (DEVELOPING FAITH):
The first step, one begins with an interest in spiritual life with the faith that spiritual activity is superior to material life. One begins with a preliminary interest in spiritual advancement and a conviction that material pursuits will never yield true happiness or perfection.
(2) SADHU-SANGA (ASSOCIATION):
One then associates with persons advanced in Bhakti.
(3) BHAJANA-KRIYA (PERFORMANCE OF DEVOTIONAL SERVICE):
Under the instruction of an elevated spiritual master one begins to practice devotional service.
(4) ANARTHA NIVRTTI (DECREASING OF UNWANTED ATTACHMENTS):
By executing devotional service one becomes free of all material attachments.
(5) NISTHA (STEADINESS):
With regulated practice one attains unshakeable faith and steadiness.
(NINE PROCESS OF DEVOTIONAL SERVICE – READ HERE!)
(6) RUCI (TASTE):
And one acquires an insatiable thirst for hearing about and serving the Supreme Person, Sri Krishna.
(7) ASAKTI (ATTACHMENT):
Attachment to Krishna develops
(8) BHAVA (LOVE):
Gradually emotions for God intensify to the point of spiritual ecstasy.
(9) PREMA (PURE LOVE FOR KRSNA):
Finally one awakens pure love for Krishna, which enables one to see Him face to face, to speak with Him, and to live and enjoy with Him eternally. Supreme perfectional stage of bhakti.
(Can Vaidhi Bakthi lead one towards Raganuga bhakti? (ie, Can the devotional rules make us Perfect Devotees? READ HERE!)
NINE STAGES OF BHAKTI YOGA AS SAID BY SCRIPTURES
(1) THE NINE STAGES OF BHAKTI YOGA IN CAITANYA CARITAMRTA, MADHYA-LILA, AS SAID BY BY SRI CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU:
“In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is inititated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes finally fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krsna consciousness.”
(2) THE NINE STAGES OF BHAKTI YOGA IN THE BHAKTI-RASAMRTA-SINDHU:
In the beginning stage there must be a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will lead one to the platform of desiring to associate with spiritually advanced persons. The next step is to become initiated by an authorized spiritual master and to perform devotional service under his guidance. Through the execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one will become free from all material attachments, achieves steadiness in self realization and finds taste in hearing about Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This taste leads one to further attachment in Krsna consciousness which is called bhava or the preliminary stage of pure love of Godhead. Pure love to the Lord is called prema or the supreme perfectional stage in life.
(ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE, BHAKTI RASA & KRISHNA PREMA – PROCESS! READ HERE!)
(Simplified Explanation of Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatham! READ HERE!)