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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Is love free?

It is often heard that if we cannot freely choose, then there is no question of love. Is love actually really 'free', however?

Let us look at the ācāryas' explanations of the famous sentence muktiṁ dadāti karhicit sma na bhakti yogam ("The Lord sometimes bestows mukti but not bhakti") from Śrīmad Bhāgavata 5.6.18. It is a most important and often quoted sentence, and it shows that

1. bhakti is greater than mukti.
2. bhakti is rarer than mukti.
3. love is a gift, it is not free choice - as we will see in the following commentaries.

This makes all the difference. 'sma na bhakti yogam' literally means 'He never bestows it', but it practically means that He hardly bestows it, otherwise I would not be writing this and no one would be reading this. 

Charity begins at home, so let us start in the family and first study the ṭīkā to this important sentence by Śrīnātha Cakravartī, the famous disciple of Advaita Ācārya and Guru of Kavi Karṇapura. He writes in his Caitanya Mata Mañjuṣā:

mukundo mokṣa-prado’pi bhajatāṁ karhicit kadācid api muktiṁ na dadāti tarhi kiṁ dadāti tatrāha—bhakti-yogaṁ bhaktau yogo yasya sa bhakti-yogaḥ premā tam 

"Although Mukunda is the bestower of liberation he never gives it to those who do His bhajan. Then what does He bestow? It is said here - He gives bhakti yoga and that bhakti yoga means prema."  

Śrīla Sanātana Goswāmīpāda comments on this sentence:

evaṁ bhagavat-prasādaika-labhyatā, anyathā ca parama-daurlabhyam iti darśitam 

"Thus it is only attained by the grace of the Lord, otherwise it is seen to be very rarely attained."

Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī confirms this in his Krama Sandarbha ṭīkā -

bhakti-yogam atra premāṇam 

"Bhakti yoga here means prema (which He bestows - rarely)."

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comments -

bhavadbhyo hy abhajadbhyo’pi parama-premādhikya-dānasya 

"That he gave the highest prema even to you, who do not worship him, is the highest position."

From all these explanations of Śrīmad Bhāgavata it is clear that prema or love is a gift and not a free choice or so, though this is the popular (mis-)conception based on material experiences.


  1. About siddha-pranali, is it something that is eternally existing, our identity, or is it something that our guru gives us? Does our guru simply create the 11 points of our manjari identity and then tell us to meditate on it, and thus gradually through meditation we CREATE that identity?

    In other words, if it doesn't require a guru to meditate and "reach into the spiritual platform to find out our siddha-pranali", then couldn't any guru give us siddha-pranali, since technically it would not require a liberated guru who is capable of reaching into the spiritual realm to access that information, since it is not pre-existing?

    I hope I've made my question clear. It's a bit complex. Basically does our guru just "make up" those 11 points of manjari siddha pranali?

  2. Yes it is true what you suggest. "Making up" is not of course the attitude of the faithful disciple. It is the attitude that counts and will yield perfection. It is not pre existing.

  3. sorry i didn't mean for it to come off like that, i just meant that siddha-pranali is basically then a GIFT from our guru. Once he gives siddha-pranali, first we meditate on yogapitha, and then gradually onto other lilas? Our guru or siksa guru gives much instruction on how to do this meditation properly?

  4. No worries, I did not feel challenged in any way. According to Guru, the process will be followed and understood.

  5. one more question, what happens if our guru passes away before he gives siddha-pranali?

  6. Srīla Jīva Goswami says: śrī gurvājñayā tat sevanāvirodhena mahat saṅgaṁ kuryāt - "One must have sat sanga on the order of Sri Guru, in a way which not contradicts His service." In other words one must receive further education from a Guru-brother of Sri Guru or of one of one's own Guru brothers. Continued education must be fully compatible with the Guru's bhāva, or angle.