Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #42 – Why Niṣṭhā Leads to Ruci

October 16th, 2023

I don’t have a job or a family and just a few disciples to guide. No management responsibilities either. I only travel one or two places to teach. I guess that’s called the life of sannyāsī, maybe a little bābājī in there. I am also blessed with good health and don’t need much sleep. That’s how my destiny has unfolded. What, then, do I do all day? Good question. I chant a lot, do some writing, occasionally entertain or counsel a guest, and do some reading. Still, I have time on my hands and must be vigilant to not waste it. Everyone one has a personal challenge; That’s mine.


I arrived a few minutes early at the gate of Brij Vasundhara (the Govardhan “resort”) on the parikramā path and sat there waiting for my parikramā partner to come when those above thoughts flooded my mind. My train of thought continued: “Ruci, real taste in devotion, comes after niṣṭhā, being always absorbed or fixed in devotion. That’s why this daily jaunt around Govardhan is important for me. It keeps my schedule tight to ensure I don’t fall prey to the distraction or idleness that compromises my fixedness and taste for bhakti. That touches on a quandary: Without being fixed in devotional service, there is no taste in Krishna consciousness, but without that taste you can’t remain fixed. Chanting under the shade of Śrī Girirāja, however, seems to help both. It sparks devotion and also gives a strong impetus to remain fixed. My original plan was to circumambulate the hill just once at the beginning of my stay to help me enter the spirit of the holy dhāma. Now I fear stopping.”


Anyway, what you just heard was my mind in a nanosecond while waiting for my parikramā partner to come. It also gives you an insight as to how my weekly Greetings are born. A fleeting thought comes, and I run with it, never knowing if and when another realization to write about will come. This week’s post: Why niṣṭhā leads to ruci.


When I came to Vrindavan, we were completely dependent on the local well water for drinking. There was no other choice. The problem was that it was salty. Great effort had to be made to find what the locals called “sweet water”, even if we had to travel some distance to find it. Still even the best water was not completely sweet, causing a lot of digestive problems. What is sweet water? It is water that’s just water, not mixed with anything else. Similarly, ruci, taste in bhakti, is when bhakti is just devotion not mixed with anything else. That’s specifically why the stage of ruci comes after the stage of niṣṭhā, being fixed in devotion without any break or distraction.


Just as a piece of paper will not burn immediately by intensifying the sun’s rays on it through a magnifying glass, but only when it is steadily focused for some time, similarly devotion will only alight in our heart if we can stay focused on the object of our devotion steadily for some time. Therefore, to get taste in devotion we must remain attentive and fixed. And what is the practice to do that? Four things: Concentration, without interruption, over a prolonged period, and in the right mood. In other words, niṣṭhā, prolonged fixedness or attentiveness, naturally leads to real taste, or ruci.


What about people who, unlike me, have many material responsibilities? How can they be fixed and gain taste in bhakti? Obviously, there are challenges, but doing our duties properly does not compromise our steadiness in bhakti because it is also Krishna’s will that we responsibly maintain our family and properly raise our children. Therefore, they do not break our devotion and do not hamper the development of our taste as long as we leave in our day a time and place for Krishna and remained fixed in our devotional practices. If done sincerely, they can also give us, Krishna willing, the realization and inspiration to change our life to make it more conducive to the practice of bhakti or inspire Krishna to do so.


Basically, my service and challenge seem to be just to live as a simple sadhu. I am not qualified. I can thus only pray:


“My Lord, I know that young girls have natural affection for young boys, and that young boys have natural affection for young girls. I am praying at Your lotus feet that my mind may become attracted unto You in the same spontaneous way.” (From Padma Purāṇa referenced in The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9)



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