Upadeshamrita Verse 3

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sańgatyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ ṣaḍbhirbhaktiḥ prasidhyati  

There are six principles favourable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavouring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles (such as sravanam kirtanam visnoḥ smaranam [SB 7.5.23] — hearing, chanting and remembering Krsna), (5) abandoning the association of non devotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous acharyas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.

In the Shastras, when giving instructions, there are always two sets of rules and regulations given, namely Vidhi and Nishedh, or do’s and dont’s, which go hand in hand. Failure to follow either one of them proves to be an obstacle on the path of progress. Similarly, after having described the six urges and the six unfavourable activities, Srila Rupa Goswami is now giving instructions in regards to what should be done so that we may achieve success in our spiritual endeavours. It is imperative that the Sadhakas who refrain from performing the prohibited activities must also engage in positive practices to progress and vice versa.

While describing the favourable principles, Srila Rupa Goswami first and foremost says that we should always be enthusiastic about your sadhana bhakti. It is undoubtedly true that the process will take time but at no point are we to lose hope and enthusiasm. We should always have the staunch faith that Krishna will certainly bestow his mercy on us. And with such faith in the heart, the sadhaka should, with great enthusiasm, perform his practice of devotional service. While thus traversing the path of bhakti, there may be times when the material nature creates obstacles or Krishna himself sends some tests to see our sincerity and resolve, at that time we must have determination and confidence that we must reach the lotus feet of the Lord, overcoming all difficulties, for that is the one and only purpose of our life. But not only during testing times, even in our everyday life, we must be very vigilant not to become complacent and to always endeavour with great enthusiasm and confidence. This is the second instruction given in this verse. However, despite our numerous endeavours, it may still take time till we actually reach our goal and ruining the entire endeavour due to impatiently giving up in the middle would be most unfortunate. Therefore, one should be very patient and understand that the goal that we are hoping to achieve is the highest goal in the entire Universe. We are desiring to associate and serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead and any amount of time that it may take to achieve this goal is actually a very short amount of time. Even if it takes a few life times, on comparing it with eternity, the time since we have been suffering in this material world, a few lifetimes is actually a very minute span of time. Thus being patient is of utmost importance.

One may then question, what is it that one is supposed to do with great enthusiasm, determination and patience in order to achieve the goal? The answer to this is tattatkarmapravartanāt, acting according to regulative principles (such as sravanam kirtanam visnoḥ smaranam [SB 7.5.23] — hearing, chanting and remembering Krsna). One should follow the various limbs of Bhakti as mentioned by Srila Prahlad Maharaj in the Srimad Bhagwatam, or as mentioned by Srila Rupa goswami in the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu. Navavidha Bhakti and the 64 limbs of Bhakti, of which 5 are most prominent, have been given by these great personalities for our benefit. With great feelings in the heart and being attached to these bhakti angas, we should practice them, each one of which is capable of delivering the desired result of Krishna Bhakti. It has been said that one may follow one of these limbs, or few of them or all of them and in either situation one can make rapid progress on the path of Bhakti. However, it is well known that Sri Hari Naam Sankirtan is the Yuga Dharma for this age of Kali and therefore the most effective practice in Sadhana Bhakti. All other limbs of devotional service should be accompanied by Hari naam kirtan and thus one can achieve the best results in the least amount of time.

Although Srila Rupa goswami has already mentioned in the previous verse that one must avoid materialistic association, but in order to stress on the impact that association can have on one, he is again instructing the sincere sadhakas to avoid association of the non devotees. It is actually very well known that our association is what makes us into who we become. Therefore, those who have taken Krishna consciousness to be their only aim and objective in life should certainly give up the association of materialistic persons who are attached to name, fame, money and the opposite sex. Giving up such association, one should remain always in the company of Vaishnavas and follow in the footsteps of the previous acharyas, which is the sixth and the last instruction of Srila Rupa goswami in this verse. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is most munificent, but his mercy comes not directly but through the agency of his pure devotees. These great devotees of the Lord are his eternal associates, enjoying pastimes in the company of the Lord in the transcendental realm, yet, just for the sake of the conditioned living entities, they come to this world and preach the principal of pure love of Godhead. These great acharyas are our only true shelter and following in their footsteps is the only path of prosperity for us. Therefore, we must certainly take all their instructions to heart and follow in their footsteps to the best of our ability, for doing so will lead us straight to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar in Golok Vrindavan.