~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

"Rasa is like a machine. Rati, or permanent emotion, is the axle of this machine. Once the machine starts moving by the combined energy of the four bhavas, the permanent emotion or sthayi-bhava is then converted into rasa. The devotee, who is the asraya (a shelter or container of ecstatic love for Krsna), becomes the enjoyer of that rasa. And the rasa mentioned here is the vraja-rasa or the spiritual mellow of Vrndavana. That rasa is the essence of everything, and is the highest goal for the jiva. The Vedas expound four goals: dharma, artha, kama, and moksa (religious principles, economic development, regulated sense enjoyment and liberation). But beyond these goals of the Vedas, the actual acme of all perfection is rasa. Fully realized and perfected beings are entitled to taste that rasa.

Elevation via the Hare Krsna maha-mantra

"Amongst the introspective jivas, he who is attracted to pure devotional service is the most evolved. The jiva takes up the path of bhakti only after he has accrued sufficient sukrti (piety) from previous births. When he develops strong faith (sraddha), he comes into contact with a pure and saintly spiritual master. By the grace of the spiritual master, he is initiated into the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra—the holy names of the Divine Couple.*

"Although in the beginning this jiva has sraddha, his desire for material success poses an obstacle on his path of progress. The spiritual master graces him with a disciplinary process suitable for overcoming this obstacle; thus he gains spiritual strength from chanting. Chanting on tulasi beads and meditating on a fixed number of holy names daily is the best form of worship, and will surely lead to success. Therefore, in the beginning, a little time should be spent in seclusion daily for full concentration upon the holy name. Gradually, as chanting increases, a more profound relationship with the holy name develops, and the material impediments fall away.

"The path of bhakti features two broad occupations: Deity worship, and chanting and meditating upon the holy name. Although both occupations are expedient, chanting and meditating on the holy name is preferred by the more deeply serious devotees. Many elevated pure devotees sometimes chant aloud the holy names on their beads, and at other times meditate upon Krsna's pastimes on the beads. The advantage of performing kirtana, or audibly chanting the maha-mantra on the beads, is that three kinds of devotional service—hearing, chanting and remembering—are accomplished simultaneously. Of course, all the nine limbs of devotional service reside in the holy name, but chanting and remembering are the two best limbs.

"Chanting automatically manifests the other aspects of devotional service, e.g. pada-sevanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma-nivedanam, and so on. With full faith that the holy name and the person Krsna are one and the same, and discarding the namaparadhas, one should chant in a lonely place with deep concentration.

Three kinds of introspective jivas

"Three kinds of jivas are captivated by the external phenomena: the gross materialists, the karmis and the jnanis. They are therefore all extroverts, chasing after, false hopes for happiness. The gross materialist endeavors for sensual delights. The karmi aspires for ephemeral heavenly bliss in the hereafter. The jnani is wholly concerned with how to mitigate his existential suffering. After surpassing these stages, the jiva becomes introspective. The introspective jiva is divided into three categories: kanistha, madhyama and uttama (neophyte, intermediate and advanced).

"The introspective neophyte rejects demigod worship and worships only Krsna, though with certain material motivations. He is inexperienced in the understanding of the spiritual identities of himself, Lord Krsna, and the pure devotee of the Lord. Though he is simple and naive, he is not offensive; he is just preoccupied with himself. Therefore, the neophytes are not considered to be pure Vaisnavas, though they are certainly to be seen as vaisnava-raya or resembling Vaisnavas.

"The intermediate introspective jiva, or the madhyama, is a pure devotee and is very firmly situated in devotion. As for the uttama or advanced introspective jiva, so much can be said about him: he has reached a state of perfect equanimity. One cannot become truly introspective without first being situated in knowledge of the equal position of the holy name and Krsna Himself. The introspective jiva automatically has a single-minded faith in the Supreme Lord; hence, he is entitled to chant the holy name purely.

* Han is the vocative form of Hara, a name of Srimati Radharani; Krsna is the principal name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, meaning 'the All-attractive One'; and Rama may be understood either as the name of Krsna's brother, Lord Balarama the son of Rohini, or as a name of Lord Ramacandra, the hero of the Ramayana. — Ed,