Bhakti Sandarbha 339 : Keep Your Realizations Secret
This is the second last installment of Bhakti Sandarbha. Remember, these are not the final version that will be published and so I ask you to be judicious in your sharing and remember to give credit to Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj when you do.
Keep Your Realizations Secret
तत्र ते भक्तिमार्गाः दर्शिताः। अत्र च श्रीगुरोः श्रीभगवतो वा प्रसादलब्धं साधनसाध्यगतं स्वीयसर्वस्वभूतं यत् किमपि रहस्यं, तत्तु न कस्मैचित् प्रकाशनीयम्,
The path of devotion has thus been outlined in this book. If by the mercy bestowed by one’s guru or Bhagavān, one has realized some confidential truth regarding the practice or the goal of devotion, and which has become one’s very existence, it should not be disclosed to anybody.
यथाह (भा. ८.१७.२०)—
नैतत् परस्मा आख्येयं पृष्टयापि कथञ्चन।
सर्वं सम्पद्यते देवि देवगुह्यं सुसंवृतम्॥
सम्पद्यते फलदं भवति॥
O goddess, never reveal this matter to anyone even if requested. All that is hidden to the gods becomes successful when properly concealed. (SB 8.17.20)
"Becomes successful" (sampadyate) here means "bears fruit."
॥ ८.१७॥ श्रीविष्णुरदितिम्॥३३९॥
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī brings his discussion on bhakti to a close with some important advice. This advice is especially important in modern times where we like to advertise everything about ourselves. Nothing is kept a secret. If we apply for a job, then we need to write about each of our achievements to impress our would-be employer. We must praise ourselves and possibly exaggerate our accomplishments.
In another time, it was considered impolite in Vedic culture to speak about oneself. To praise oneself meant one lost one’s piety. Now it is a compulsive art. One’s success depends not only on one’s qualifications but also on how well one can promote oneself. One can even make a profession out of teaching this art.
Nowadays, in this age of information technology (IT) it is not easy to keep secrets. It is hard to know who is observing and recording your actions. There may be hidden cameras around or someone spying on you from afar. Whatever one writes, says or does may be made available to millions without one’s notice or consent.
It may be necessary to flash one’s credentials in empirical life, but spiritually one should keep one’s realizations to oneself. The very meaning of the word mantra is "that which is kept secret." In this regard Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (2.147) gives the following advice: “One should keep one’s worshipable deity, one's guru, one’s dīkṣā-mantra and one’s japa-mālā as secret.”
There are similar statements found there in other places. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī says that one should keep things related to one’s sādhana and sādhya secret. It is important to know this principle because at present most people are not aware of it.
The doubt may be raised: Why should one’s mantra, guru, deity and mālā be kept secret? The reason for this is that one’s success on spiritual path very much depends upon one’s śraddhā in guru, mantra, deity and the process. In the Gītā Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that a person endowed with faith attains knowledge (4.39) and one devoid of śraddhā is lost (4.40). If one’s mantra, etc., are revealed to others then there are chances of losing faith in them because of remarks made by those who are either not following any spiritual path or belong to another.
Faithless materialists may deride or minimize the process or the goal of a sādhaka. They may give various arguments to support themselves for which a sādhaka may have no answer. We may have doubts inside us and their arguments may activate the doubts. Those who follow some other path such as the jñāna-mārga may also make negative remarks about the process of bhakti, even citing scriptures to prove their point. All this may weaken one’s śraddhā. One may feel that one’s mantra or process is not anything special.
Or, alternatively, one may feel proud of one’s mantra, process or progress. This may give rise to arguments, disrespect and offenses.
Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī says that there are four types of anarthas on the path of bhakti. One of them is the anartha arising out of bhakti itself. If one reveals one’s practice or progress to others, then some people may become impressed and start honoring the devotee, which can lead to fall-down. One’s success depends on one’s faith in one’s mantra, guru and deity. This is said in Pañcatantra: “One’s success related to a mantra, holy place, Brāhmaṇa, deity, astrologer, doctor and guru is in accordance with one’s faith in them” (Pañcatantra 5.96). Therefore, one needs to protect that faith by all means. In the same vein if one has some experience, he should not reveal it to others except to his guru.
In this regard I read a story in a Hindi commentary of the famous book called Bhakta-māla of Nābhā Dāsa. There was a king who had a very devoted queen. The queen was very religious and always spending her time in devotional activities such a worship, kīrtana and listening to devotional literature. Her only sadness was that although her husband supported and facilitated all her practices he himself never participated in them. He would not even utter the name of Kṛṣṇa. The queen tried to convince him to chant but the king would not comply. He would just smile and go away. Many years passed like this but the queen was unsuccessful in convincing the king to join her in devotional activities. This made her very sad.
Then one day in the morning the king noticed that the queen was very happy and jovial. She was buzzing around and ordering the employees of the palace to decorate the whole palace. She ordered the cooks to prepare a big feast. The musicians were called to come and sing. The king thought that it must be some festival day. But he could not think of what it might be. Being curious he asked the queen the cause of her celebrations. The queen replied that it was the most festive day of her life. The king further asked about the special occasion because he could not think of any for that date. She said that her wish had been granted. The king became even more curious to know. The queen revealed that at night during his sleep the king had recited the name of Kṛṣṇa. This is what had made her so happy. When the king heard it he collapsed on the ground while uttering, “O God, my secret is out!”