Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Translation of Sankaradeva's Bhakti Ratnakara: Chapter on the Characteristics of the Saintly Pure Devotee

After this, listen all men, I tell the distinguishing characteristic (laksana) of the saint (santa).
In the eleventh chapter of the eleventh  book
is the word of Lord Krsna.
Madhava says, “Hear me, O Uddhava, I am now going to tell you the characteristics of the saintly.
That one is said to be of saintly disposition (sadhu) that cannot bear to witness the sorrow of any creature. 92
According to capacity, the saintly person does good to all.
He is of greatly forgiving nature. Disciplining his mind,
towards nobody ill-feeling he nurtures.
Extremely soft-hearted, nor does he ever oppose any creature.
Free from all mental transformations (vikara), he never leaves the path of ‘good conduct ’ (sadacara).
He is fixed in his own assigned dharma (svadharma). 93

All the organs of sense and action he has controlled
and he is equanimous in both happiness and misery.
No desire can ever defraud his conscience.
Only truth is his great strength.
All worldly efforts and exertions (loka cesta) he has abandoned;
small is the size of his meal.
There is no accumulation of wealth and property for the saint,
this I tell you most certainly. 94
He has taken only me as his shelter
and has become extremely careful in mind.
He is not at all desirous of receiving honor from others
but himself honors others.
In times of distress, miserly habit
is not the sadhus.
He has conquered the six heats of material existence—sorrow, delusion, etc.—without a break. 95
They are supremely tolerant, the saintly,
greatly knowledgeable and wise.
Greatly compassionate, leaving greed for material objects,
they subsist in compassion.
Never are they, the sadhus, the deceivers of people.
They, the saintly ones, are capable of giving knowledge and counsel to the people. 96
Now listen, O beloved friend! In the form of the Vedas, I
am telling all the dharmas;
knowing that in their performance lies merit (guna) and in non-performance, sin (dosa), the one who,
firmly resolving in mind that
through pure devotion (bhakti), every dharma will be accomplished,
forsaking completely those dharmas, engages solely in my pure devotion, know only that one to be the [real] saint, O high-minded one! 97

This best one is of extremely exalted status like that
saint endowed with the twenty-eight signs about whom I have just now spoken.
Listen again to the characteristic of the devotee of the extremely great and best kind.
Only I, know in reality, am the sole inner controller of all.
Impartite in time and space,
I am of the form of blissful consciousness (cidananda rupa). 98
In this form, to me the supreme Lord,
knowingly or unknowingly,
whosoever soul does worship only through unadulterated (vyabhicara sunya) devotion,
that one only is my best devotee,
I have told you this verdict of mine.
The characteristics of the true devotee, in this manner, God Himself
revealed before Uddhava. 99

The Bhagavata scripture, in the words of Krsna,
tells the characteristics of the saint.
Now listen all people, to the saint’s characteristic,
as told in other puranas.
‘Rama, Krsna, Hari, Ananta, Murari, Jagannatha, Narayana,
Madhava, Mukunda, Gopala, Govinda, Vasudeva, Janarddana—’ 100
These names of the Lord the man who sings always, at all times,
know it for sure, without doubt, that one is venerable in the eyes of all.
In the Vaisnavananda, before Arjuna,
Krsna says these words,
“My ‘Krsna’ name, supremely auspicious,
the saintly ones always sing. 101
For these great ones (mahanta), there is always auspiciousness, never anything unpropitious.
Apart from the name, they do not offer any other interpretation,
they who are the real sadhus.
Moreover, the person who, with my devotees,
is always in conversation,
that one also is the devotee of mine,
I tell you this for certain. 102

Further, the man who is always engaged in doing
devotion to my devotee,
that one is my most beloved friend,
I tell you this definitely and most emphatically.
That great-minded one who, even without conquering the matter-induced lust, anger and greed;
considering my name to be his friend,
sings only it, always; 103
O beloved mate Arjuna, the way in which that one shows his affection
for me,
it can never be excelled
even by the one conquering
the six material qualities (gunas).
In the Mine of the Gem of Pure Devotion, the distinguishing signs of the pure devotees
I have told in careful detail.
O men in the assembly! Krsna’s voice
you have heard; therefore without fail, 104

heeding it in mind, making eka sarana at Krsna’s feet the essential thing,
take the company of the sadhus, the pure devotees; sing the qualities of Krsna
and cross this terrible samsara.
In this entire creation, there is no other essential thing
apart from the name of the Lord of Primal Nature.
Therefore, leaving aside all other things,
please utter always ‘Rama,’ ‘Rama.’ 105

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