Welcome to the Bhakti Roots Course! Bhakti means loving devotional service to the Lord, and to attain such a rare state of consciousness requires careful training.
The phrase Bhakti Roots derives from the inspired language of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the latest incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna. Lord Caitanya (pronounced Chaitanya) appeared 500 years ago in Bengal, India, to inaugurate the chief spiritual practice for this age – sankirtan, the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. While teaching His disciple Rupa Gosvami, Lord Caitanya used a garden metaphor to describe growth in spiritual life:
Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”(Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya-lila 19.151) [Cc is an authorized spiritual biography detailing the life and teachings of Lord CaitanyaMahäprabhu)
WHAT IS A CREEPER?
We all understand what a seed is, but not everyone may know what a creeper is.
A creeper is a small delicate vine (lata) that often grows close to the ground. It makes an excellent ground cover in gardens. But if you provide a strong vertical structure, you can “train” the creeper to climb it.
That’s the image Mahaprabhu uses to instruct his disciple Rupa Gosvami. Devotional service is a supernatural creeper (bhakti-lata) that can climb its way back home, back to Godhead, with proper cultivation by a skilled master gardener (guru).
What exactly is the seed? Who can receive the bhakti-lata-bija?
Our Founder- Acharya Srila Prabhupada defines the seed of the creeper of devotional service (bhakti-lata-bija) as the methods, rules, and regulations by which one is perfectly trained in loving service. Through this process, one gradually attains the perfection of spiritual life: freedom from material anxiety, and eventually pure love of God.
The seed of the creeper of devotional service is available to the fortunate soul (jeva) who has received the human form of life.
HOW DO WE RECEIVE THE SEED?
In the material world, educated and experienced gardeners carefully “source” their seeds from bona fide suppliers.
The best seeds are called “heirloom” seeds. These seeds have been hand-selected by master gardeners, carefully preserved, and passed down from generation to generation. They are neither hybrids nor genetically engineered (GMO) – in a word, they are “pure.”
Similarly, the seed of pure devotional service is given by the causeless mercy of Krsna and a bona fide guru (guru-Krsna-prasada).
Such a guru comes in an unbroken chain of authorized spiritual masters who have carefully and faithfully handed down this gift, unaltered and unchanged. This is called disciplic succession (parampara).
Krsna guides the soul from within to meet a guru or spiritual master (the heirloom master gardener) who is authorized to give the seed and help the individual soul (now an apprentice gardener) to cultivate it. Through God’s mercy and grace, the dormant love of God (Krsna-bhakti) is reawakened. We can then begin the process of becoming free from material bondage.
CARING FOR THE CREEPER OF LOVE
So the fact that you are a human being taking this course is evidence that you are very fortunate – that the merciful Lord has awakened faith in your heart.
Now you must carefully cultivate this precious gift and water it by hearing and chanting so that your faith may grow luxuriantly.
Once that seed is planted in the heart, a devotional creeper begins to grow. That creeper flourishes as one nourishes it with the water of hearing and chanting the holy names and the revealed scriptures, follows the instructions of the spiritual master, and protects the sprouting seed by carefully weeding the garden of devotion. What the weeds are you will learn in this course.
When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of sravanam and kirtanam [hearing and chanting], the seed will begin to sprout. (Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya-lila 19.152)
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This course will help you gather a deep appreciation and understanding of select verses from the Bhagavad-gita. These slokas have become the standard verses memorized by Srila Prabhupada's disciples world-wide.
This course is designed to familiarize you with the teachings of our Founder-Acaraya , A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The course consists of listening to lectures and completing essay questions.
This is an introductory course on Vaisnava Etiquette and lifestyle. Topics include temple etiquette, instructional videos for dhotis and saris, tilak application, and devotional tasks, such as garland making.
This is an introduction course on the topics of initiation designed to help you prepare for the acceptance of your spiritual master, establishing solid sadhana practices, and keeping your feelings of bhakti.