Bhakti means loving service. Bhakti immerses us in the love and joyfulness of living in eternal Vrindavan with the divine couple, but, sometimes we stop feeling this joy and cannot understand why. When this happens, Ragunatha Das Goswami’s amazing work, Manah Siksa (Instructions to the mind) is there to guide us and remind our recalcitrant minds how to stay away from distractions and become more open to the joy that naturally flows from absorption in loving service.
In verse 6, Sri Ragunatha Das Goswami chastises his mind, telling it,
are cetaḥ prodyat-kapaṭa-kuṭināṭī-bhara-khara
kṣaran-mūtre snātvā dahasi katham ātmānam api mām
sadā tvaṁ gāndharvā-giridhara-pada-prema-vilasat
sudhāmbhodhau snātvā svam api nitarāṁ māṁ ca sukhaya
Oh ruffian mind! Why do you burn yourself and me [the soul] by bathing in the trickling urine of the great donkey of full-blown hypocrisy and duplicity? Instead, you should always bathe in the ocean of love emanating from the lotus feet of Shri Shri Gandharvika-Giridhari, thereby delighting yourself and me.
In his commentary of Verse 6, Bhaktivinoda Thakur describes both the gross and subtle mistakes that instead of being an enjoyable bath in water (as they may seem to be), are actually a bath in donkey urine.
The six gross enemies are:
While these may be easily recognizable, there are other subtle mistakes that creep into the thinking and practices of devotees. In his commentary to Manah Siksa, Bhaktivinoda Thakur describes how different types of mistakes are commonly made by different categories of spiritual practitioners.
The three types of spiritual practitioners and the subtle forms of deceit that destroy the benefits of service are:
|Devotee category||Typical forms of subtle hypocrisy|
|1)Sva-Nistha-Sadhaka-Grihasta (householders who are trying to please the Lord but are not following the prescribed rules and regulations)
|1) Indulging in sense gratification with the pretext of satisfying the Supreme.
2) Serving rich, influential materialists instead of renounced devotees
3) Accumulating more wealth than would ever be needed.
4) Enthusiasm for meaningless, temporary gains, even at the cost of envying and harming others.
5) Teaching twisted logic and self-motivated speculation in the name of giving education 6) Wearing the dress of a renunciate in order to gain material prestige.
|2)Parinistha-Sadhaka-Grihasta (householders who follow rites and rituals)
|1) Making an external show of strictly following rules and prohibitions while inwardly being very attached to material pleasures.
2) Preferring the association of materialistic persons.
|3)Nirapeksha-Sadhaka (renounced devotee)
|1) Thinking of oneself as an advanced Vaishnava.
2) Thinking of oneself as superior to others
3) Collecting more than is required
4) Improperly associating with the opposite sex in the name of spiritual practices.
5) Spending more time collecting donations than engaging in spiritual practices.
6) Worrying too much about collecting donations
7) Being overly concerned with rules and regulations and neglecting the cultivation of devotion
8) Forgetting that the main purpose of (spiritual) life is the cultivation of love for the Supreme.
In 2016, a beautifully illustrated version of Manah Siksa was released. Compiled by Urmila Devi Dasi and produced by Padma Inc, it includes Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s commentaries and songs, as well as commentaries by contemporary vaishnavas, Jayadvaita Swami, Sivarama Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Bhaktivijnana Goswami and Urmila Devi Dasi.
The 2016 illustrated edition is available at http://urmiladevidasi.org/publications/ or, in India from http://www.goldenagemedia.org/products/sri-manah-shiksha-10466.html and in Vrindavan from Ras Biharilal Bookshop. Proceeds help to fund Radha Kund Seva’s work.
In the 12th and final verse, Ragunatha Das Goswami advises practitioners of bhakti to chant the verses loudly. After understanding the meaning of the verses and commentary, take the opportunity to bathe the mind in this musical rendition of Ragunatha Das Goswami’s instructions to the mind (below).