Maharaji Kripalu says that the Bhakti Shatak is the gem of the knowledge of the Upnishads, Gita and the Brahm Sutra called prasthan trayi which has been consolidated into one hundred couplets along with the devotional theme of the Bhagwatam which is proclaimed as the final authority on the spiritual matters by the Vaishnav acharyas and also Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhuji. Shree Maharajji has himself delineated the meanings of these couplets, and detailed the devotional philosophy contained in it. Thus, it becomes a most valuable asset for the devotees of Radha Krishn. These couplets describe the complete philosophy of soul, maya, God and the realization of Krishn love.
General meaning of the Bhakti Shaktak couplets
the Upnishads are revered and contain great Divine knowledge, but the soul of the Divinity of that knowledge is Divine love (prem tattva), which is Krishn Himself. Thus, without Krishn love, all the knowledge is despairing and keeps such scholars wandering in the vast cosmic ocean of maya. That’s why Ved Vyas, the revealer of all the scriptures including the Upnishads, says in the Bhagwatam that ‘the knowledge’ which induces affinity for your beloved God, Krishn, is the ‘true knowledge’ (“Sa vidya tanmatiryaya.)
The Vedas proclaim that God and the souls are eternally related, where God is the Soul of every soul. Thus, a devotee says, “O Beloved of my soul, Krishn, You were mine, You are mine, and You will remain mine. You are called adham udharanhar which means that You lift every fallen soul; then why have You forgotten me. Please lift me up and make me Your own forever.”
The forms of one single God, which are described in the Upnishads and the Puranas in many ways, are explained in these couplets in a very convincing manner.
Ved Vyas defines that supreme God Krishn has His three Divine forms which are called brahm, paramatma and bhagwan. Brahm is such an aspect of God where all the virtues and powers of (sachchidanand) God remain absolutely dormant. So, it is called nirgun nirakar brahm. The form of God where the absolute Blissfulness of His Divine ‘name,’ ‘form’ and ‘abode’ is revealed is called paramatma (which is the supreme Almighty power of God, and its related Divine abode is called Vaikunth).
(Bhagwan is a common word, which is generally used for all the personal forms of God, but, in this verse of the Bhagwatam, (1/2/11) it refers to the Divine love power of God, and thus:) The form of God, where the absolute charm of His loving Blissfulness, along with all of the Divine virtues, is fully revealed in the form of His intimate loving leelas of all kinds, is called bhagwan. (Its related Divine abodes are Saket, Dwarika, Golok and Vrindaban.)
Divine Vrindaban abode is the personal glory of Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani’s supreme absoluteness. Substantially, the absolute sweetness of Krishn love resides in the intoxicating absoluteness of Radha’s love, called madan mahabhao by Roop Goswami (Ujjwal Neelamani, 14/219). So it is said that Radha’s other form is Krishn, and thus, They are Both one.
A brief description of devotional philosophy in Bhakti Shatak
The human mind and the world, both are the creations of maya. This is the reason that the worldly things and worldly attachments are always pleasing and appealing to the mind. The mayic energy is extremely potent. Without the Grace of Krishn its effects on the mind can never be reduced or removed, and that Grace (according to the Gita) is received by selflessly surrendering to Krishn.
There are several ways and styles of doing spiritual practice, e.g. doing good karmas, studying vedant, doing yog or austerities etc. But, all of them, without the true loving devotion (bhakti) to God, are in vain like a body without a soul. So, a person should do his devotions with true longing for God under the guidance of a Divine personality and fully purify his heart. Then, with the Grace of his Divine Spiritual Master he will receive God realization. If his Spiritual Master is a true rasik Saint only then he will receive the true Divine love of Krishn.