What we call love in the material world is all too temporary, but in the kingdom of God the profound loving exchanges Lord Krishna enjoys with His dearest devotees are eternal. Bhakti-yoga teaches us how to enter into that realm of eternal love.
The basic principles of Bhakti-yoga are presented in this introductory book.
Love is one of the words we use most and understand
least. The problem is that there are many kinds of love.
One of the distinctions we can make between different
kinds of love has to do with time, duration—how long
love lasts. Some love lasts a few days, some lasts a
lifetime, and some lasts forever. Most lovers aspire for
the latter, but in vain.
Love between bodies is bound to be temporary,
because the lovers’ bodies are temporary. Ah, but what
about the soul? Will the lovers not meet in the eternal
spiritual world, and there enjoy deathless love?
Perhaps. But the question is, "How do we get to the
spiritual world?" That requires a special kind of love, the
love between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul,
God. Actually, we are caught in a web of temporary,
unsatisfying loving relationships because we have
forgotten how to love God. So the spiritual love between
the individual soul and the Supreme Soul is the most
important kind of love. It is the only love that is truly
eternal. Actually, every other kind of love we experience
is just a reflection of the original loving exchange
between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. This
special love is called, in Sanskrit, bhakti. And the
process for awakening that love is called bhakti-yoga,
the art of eternal love.
Bhakti involves three things: the lover, the beloved,
and the loving relationship. In bhakti, all three are
eternal. The lover, the individual soul, is eternal; the
beloved, the Supreme Soul, is eternal; and the loving
relationship, bhakti, is also eternal.
In the sixteenth century, an extremely advanced
expert in bhakti-yoga named Srila Rupa Gosvami wrote
a handbook on its theory and practice. He called his
book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, "The Ocean of the Nectar
of Divine Love." For a long time its secrets remained
locked in the ancient Sanskrit language. Fortunately for
us, a modern master of the knowledge and techniques
of bhakti-yoga, His Divine Grace Srila A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, translated the book
into English and began training his students in its
mysteries. Srila Prabhupada titled his translation The
Nectar of Devotion.
Love, in its material manifestation, is usually
associated with places—a city like Paris in the
springtime, or a beach where one walked with one’s
beloved. In the same way, spiritual love is also
associated with places. The highest such place is
Vrndavana, an earthly manifestation of the eternal
Spiritual place where God enjoys loving pastimes with
His eternal associates in the spiritual sky. In Vrndavana
there are many temples, and one of them, the
Radha-Damodara temple, is forever associated with
Rupa Gosvami because his physical form is interred
there. A small memorial to him (called a samadhi) rises
in one of the temple courtyards.
Before he came to America in 1965, Srila
Prabhupada lived in a quiet room in_ the
Radha-Damodara temple, and through his window he
could see and draw inspiration from the samadhi of
Ripa Gosvami. Seven years later, Srila Prabhupada
returned to the Radha-Damodara temple. And in the
courtyard, near Rupa Gosvami’s samadhi, he gave for
his disciples a series of lectures on The Nectar of
Devotion. Selections from those lectures, full of deep
Spiritual insight into bhakti, have been interwoven with
excerpts from The Nectar of Devotion to form the
substance of this book.
We invite you to share in Rupa Gosvami's teachings
on bhakti-yoga, the art of eternal love, as they have
come down to us from his foremost modern follower in
disciple succession. If we can learn to love God through
bhakti-yoga, then we can learn to love everything and
everyone else in the proper way, in the way that will
bring us the most happiness, the best happiness, the
happiness of eternal love.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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