We slap, impose, throw, and slip in opinions about everything and anything even though we know very little and realize even less. We’re subjective and conditioned, so are our opinions. Our opinions are neither perfect nor fully applicable to the situations we declare them for. Krishna, the personification of Absolute Truth, is not conditioned. On the contrary, material conditions serve Him. His subjectivity is transcendental. It’s not influenced by the modes of nature because the nature’s modes come from His external energy. So, when the Absolute Truth personified says, “That’s My opinion.” We should hear Him and follow, too. In the verse 6.47 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “And of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself and renders transcendental loving service to Me – he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.”
In Krishna’s opinion, of all types of yogis, bhakti yogi is most intimately united with Him and superior to all other yogis. A genuine bhakti yogi takes refuge in Him with unconditional love. He thinks of Krishna with an unflagging resolve and serves Him in a way that pleases Krishna. Srila Prabhupada explains that all yoga practices culminate in bhakti yoga. These yogas are a means to come to the point of bhakti. Yoga means union with the Supreme person. A complete union with Krishna is possible only by drowning oneself in His love. And, that is bhakti. Other yogas are progressions and bhakti-yoga is the destination. From the beginning of karma-yoga to the end of bhakti-yoga is a long way to self-realization. Karma yoga means offering the fruits of our activities to Krishna. When karma-yoga graduates to knowledge and renunciation, it becomes Jnana-yoga. When Jnana -yoga elevates to meditation on the Supersoul by different physical processes and mind’s focus, it is Astanga-yoga. By surpassing the Astanga yoga to devoting one’s mind, body, soul to the Krishna is bhakti-yoga. One who sticks to a particular point and does not make further progress is called by that particular name: karma yogi, Jnana yogi or Dhyana yogi, Raja yogi, Hatha yogi, etc. If one is fortunate enough to come to the point of bhakti yoga, she or he has surpassed all other yogas.
In Nectar of Devotion, Srila Rupa Goswami explains that happiness is of three types. We derive the lowest form of happiness from material pleasures. Still better is the happiness of liberation. But, we can experience the highest form of happiness only when we’re in a loving relationship with the eternally blissful Krishna. Material happiness fleets too fast and is always accompanied with its polar opposite. Suffering follows happiness as if it’s happiness’ inseparable other half. In liberation, the soul hibernates in Brahmajyoti. Although a liberated soul experiences Sat (Truth) and Chit (Consciousness) in the state of liberation, it remains deprived of Anand (Bliss). And, anand or bliss is the eternal goal of a soul. The bliss of joy is only possible in a loving relation with Krishna because He’s raso vai sah. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would often quote from Taittiriya Upanishad (2.7.1) that “Truly, the Lord is rasa” (raso vai sah).
Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and SanatKumara are the four kumaras, the sages, who roam the universe as children. Srimad Bhagavatam reveals that they are the first mind-born creations and sons of Brahma. Born from Brahma’s mind, the four Kumaras undertook lifelong vows of celibacy against the wishes of their father. They wandered throughout the materialistic and spiritualistic realms without any desire but with a purpose to teach. All four brothers studied the Vedas from their childhood, and always travelled together. These Kumaras are among the twelve Mahajanas (great devotees or bhaktas) who although were eternally liberated souls from birth, still they became attracted to the devotional service from their already enlightened state. This confirms how elevated bhakti is.
Srila Prabhupada enlightens us through his Srimad Bhagavatam lectures and purports that Srila Sukadeva Goswami was a liberated soul even when he was in his mother’s womb. So, he did not undergo any sort of spiritual training after taking birth. As a rule, no one is qualified at birth, neither in the mundane nor in the spiritual sense. But the born-liberated Sukadeva Goswami did not have to undergo an evolutionary process for spiritual realization. Although he was above the three material modes, still he became attracted to this transcendental rasa Krishna, who is adored by liberated souls who sing Vedic hymns. Srila Sukadeva Goswami spoke Srimad Bhagavatam, which is the ripened fruit of the tree of the Vedas. Srimad Bhagavatam is replete with the glories of Sri Krishna, and it is considered the topmost scripture for Kali Yuga. Saints and rishis have repeatedly said that Srimad Bhagavatam is the literary avatar of Krishna. Whoever hears Srimad Bhagavatam from a bonafide devotee receives Krishna bhakti.
Krishna is not a narcissist, nor He’s an egotist. He’s Sat-Chit-Ananda Vigraha (Brahma Samhita 5.1). He knows what’s best for us. He knows bhakti is the highest experience of bliss. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu (Nectar of Devotion), verse 1.1.17, Srila Rupa Goswami describes these six characterstics of bhakti:
- Klesa-ghni – She destroys all kind of distress.
- Subhada – She awards all kind of good fortune.
- Moksha-laghuta-krt – She makes the pleasure of impersonal liberation appear insignificant.
- Sudurlabha – She is rarely achieved.
- Sandrananda-visesatma – Her nature is imbued with the most intense and superlative pleasure.
- Sri-Krsna-Akarsini – She is the sole means to attract Sri Krsna.
The fruit of bhakti is prema. What is prema?
I know no one but Krishna as my Lord. He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally. — Chaitanya Mahaprabhu reveals the highest stage of bhakti, Krishna prema, in the 8th verse of Shikshashtakam.