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This compelling narrative, based on spiritually developed personalities and others in cultured Bengali life a few hundred years ago, serves as the basis of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s presentation of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophy, from its basic tenets to its esoteric pinnacle. Woven into the story are penetrating philosophical questions that are commonly pondered and eternally relevant. The depth of the answers gives clarity and direction to the quest to establish ourselves in our jaiva-dharma, our soul’s constitutional function. 

“In his Jaiva Dharma, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written everything about the authentic process to become a paramahamsa. Jaiva Dharma is the essence of the Vedas, Upanishads, Srimad Bhagavatam, and the writings of Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Ragunatha das Gosvami and our guru-varga. Asta-kaliya-lila is described for those that are advanced, but how does one become qualified to understand it? One must systematically study Jaiva Dharma from beginning to end, starting with the first part where there is a description of the material world, and proceeding through a study of Dasa-mula and all the tattvas.

By following Jaiva Dharma properly, your anarthas will gradually disappear and you will be able to practice bhakti as exemplified by the two disciples, Brajanatha and Vijay Kumara. They practiced first in Nabadwipa and then in Puri, and they were completely conversant with all the teachings of the important literatures by our guru-varga, including Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Ujvala-nilamani. They had realized all the stages of prema: vibhava, anubhava, sattvika, vyabhicari, etc. Thus they received real diksa, and they were blessed with a vision of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, dancing with Lord Nityananda and all of their associates.

Brajanatha's uncle, Vijay Kumar, was a paramahamsa who had renounced his worldly life and was remembering asta-kaliya-lila on the seashore. As unlimited waves appear one after another on the seashore, so it is in the ocean of rasa. Krsna is that ocean of rasa, and the innumerable waves are the different bhavas (spiritual emotions) experienced by the devotee, such as: bhava, anubhava, sattvika, vyabhicari, uddipana, and alambana.

Anyone can become qualified to understand asta-kaliya-lila by attentively and respectfully hearingJaiva Dharma. Without this knowledge, one cannot become qualified – but one must start from the beginning. Hearing with honor will help one to develop strong faith in gurudeva and to follow his instructions. We should be eager to do so. Don't jump to the top of the rasa tree; begin from the root. Follow the process Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given in Jaiva Dharma. Serve your gurudeva; have strong faith in sad-guru and Vaisnavas; and always be in good Vaisnava association.”

Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
Vienna Sept 19 2002