(Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das Maharaj): What is REPENTANCE IN BHAKTI BHAJAN? In part one of this series, Shri Visvanatha Cakravartipada said, “When a devotee repents like this and shows fear of material enjoyment, gradually the tendency to enjoy matter subsides.”
We will now describe something about the concept and practice of repentance, an essential aspect of bhakti bhajan. Repentance means regret, self-condemnation, feeling guilty and sorry, grieving and feelings of disappointment. Repentance is natural for a good, virtuous, basically faultless person like a devotee. It delivers one from all kinds of sins accidentally committed.
When a devotee sincerely regrets their accidental falldowns or sins, then, by Krishna’s mercy, all those sins are destroyed in the fire of repentance. However, repentance can never manifest in those intoxicated by sense enjoyment.
What causes falldown? When a devotee somehow or other neglects their devotional intelligence, i.e. the inner guide Shri Krishna or Shri Guru, one will become bewildered and perform sinful acts. Upon realizing this, a devotee will automatically feel repentant.
The Sanskrit word for ‘repentance’ is pashchat-tapa, which means “burning after the fact.” And that’s exactly what repentance means, mentally burning and feeling painful heart-pangs of guilt, regret, remorse and sorrow. And all of these together along with Krishna’s blessings are what really cleanses the tarnished heart.
In bhakti, sincerity is everything
In bhakti bhajan as well as other schools of religious practice, a most important means of atonement for sins and falldowns is repentance, a response of mind and heart, and intensifying our physical practices of bhakti i.e. hearing and chanting about Shri Krishna, and serving Shri Hari, Shri Guru and the merciful Vaisnavas. One’s heart will not be purified, however, unless it’s burnt in the fire of repentance which is a type of voluntary pain for a wrongdoing.
The best method of repentance is to establish and cultivate a strong inner will to never, never, never again repeat that evil. The reward for repentance is the destruction of sins, and being accepted once again in the shelter of Krishna’s tender and affectionate heart.
Repentance is the only recourse for regressions. Without it one becomes degraded.
The saying, “No pain, no gain!” also applies in bhakti!
Sincere repentance is also another form of pain and suffering, but such suffering is purifying, uplifting and energizing.
Forget the wrong, forgive yourself, pick up your beads, start chanting Hare Krishna again, and continue to serve Krishna once again with redoubled enthusiasm just like the joyous color festival, Holi Utsava, which follows the burning of the demoness of sin, ‘Holika’ the night before. Just take one babystep toward Krishna the beautiful, and Krishna will run ten steps forward and jump in your lap.
Thus concludes part of two of our new series discussing bhakti, karma and falldown in spiritual life. Subsequent posts will answer questions like, “Are devotees suffering due to their karma?”; “Who’s arranging a devotee’s life, one’s self, one’s karma, or is it all Krishna’s personal will and jurisdiction?”
Srimad Bhagavatam Maha Purana ki jai!
Genuine Repentance ki jai!
Gaudiya Vaisnava rasik janas ki jai!
Jai Jai Shri Radhe!
Jai Jai Shri Shyam!
Jai Jai Shri Vrndavana Dham!
Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das Maharaj (DOB 6 Feb. 1951) is a Gaudiya Vaisnava Babaji (sannyasi), and a teacher of Gaudiya spiritual truths, practices and perfection (siddhanta, sadhana, sadhya) . He has authored 25 English & 11 Hindi spiritual books about Shri Guru, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Radha-