Chapter 4: Pure and Mixed Devotion

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Narada Bhakti Sutra 57

uttarasmad uttarasmat purva-purvo sreyaya bhavati

SYNONYMS

uttarasmat uttarasmat -- than each later one; purva-purvah -- each earlier one; sreyaya bhavati -- is to be considered better.

TRANSLATION

Each earlier stage should be considered better than the one following it.

PURPORT

Worship of the Lord in the mode of goodness (sattva) is better than worship in passion (rajas), and worship in the mode of passion is better than worship in ignorance (tamas). In His teachings to His mother, Lord Kapiladeva explains devotional service executed under the influence of the three modes:

O noble lady, there are multifarious paths of devotional service in terms of the different qualities of the executor. Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, hypocritical, violent, and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness. The worship of Deities in the temple by a separatist, with a motive for material enjoyment, fame, and opulence, is devotion in the mode of passion. When a devotee worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead and offers Him the results of his activities in order to free himself from the inebrieties of fruitive activities, his devotion is in the mode of goodness. [Bhag. 3.29.7-10]

In his purport to this passage, Srila Prabhupada explains the key word bhinna-drik, meaning "possessed of a separatist vision":

The word "separatist" must be understood carefully.... A separatist is one who sees his interest as separate from that of the Supreme Lord. Mixed devotees, or devotees in the modes of passion and ignorance, think that the interest of the Supreme Lord is supplying the orders of the devotee; the interest of such devotees is to draw from the Lord as much as possible for their sense gratification. This is the separatist mentality.

Still, despite their separatist mentality, such mixed devotees are blessed, for if they begin executing devotional service under the guidance of teachers who are in pure goodness (suddha-sattva), they can be gradually elevated to pure bhakti. As stated in the verse previously quoted (Bhag. 2.3.10), all classes of worshipers are encouraged to turn to the supreme father, even with their material desires. In his purport Srila Prabhupada writes, "As the unmixed sun ray is very forceful and is therefore called tivra, similarly unmixed bhakti-yoga of hearing, chanting, etc. (tivrena bhakti-yogena [SB 2.3.10]), may be performed by one and all, regardless of inner motive."

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
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Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari