What is The Nectar of Devotion?
The Nectar of Devotion is a summary study of the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, which was written in Sanskrit by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. He was the chief of the Six Gosvāmīs, who were the direct disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When he first met Lord Caitanya, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda was engaged as a minister in the Muslim government of Bengal, India. He and his brother Sanātana were then named Dabira Khāsa and Sākara Mallika respectively, and they held responsible posts as ministers of Nawab Hussain Shah. At that time, five hundred years ago, the Hindu society was very rigid, and if a member of the brāhmaṇa caste accepted a position of service under a Muslim ruler he was at once rejected from brāhmaṇa society. That was the position of the two brothers, Dabira Khāsa and Sākara Mallika. They belonged to the highly situated sārasvata-brāhmaṇa community, but they were ostracized due to their acceptance of ministerial posts in the government of Hussain Shah. It is the grace of Lord Caitanya that He accepted these two exalted personalities as His disciples and raised them to the position of gosvāmīs, the highest position of brahminical culture. Similarly, Lord Caitanya accepted Haridāsa Ṭhākura as His disciple, although Haridāsa happened to be born of a Muslim family, and Lord Caitanya later on made him the ācārya of the chanting of the holy name of the Lord: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
Lord Caitanya’s principle is universal. Anyone who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and is engaged in the service of the Lord is accepted as being in a higher position than a person born in the family of a brāhmaṇa. That is the original principle accepted by all Vedic literatures, especially by the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The principle of Lord Caitanya’s movement in educating and elevating everyone to the exalted post of a gosvāmī is taught in The Nectar of Devotion.
Lord Caitanya met the two brothers Dabira Khāsa and Sākara Mallika in a village known as Rāmakeli in the district of Maldah, and after that meeting the brothers decided to retire from government service and join Lord Caitanya. Dabira Khāsa, who was later to become Rūpa Gosvāmī, retired from his post and collected all the money he had accumulated during his service. It is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta that his accumulated savings in gold coins equaled millions of dollars and filled a large boat. He divided the money in a very exemplary manner, which should be followed by devotees in particular and by humanity in general. Fifty percent of his accumulated wealth was distributed to the Kṛṣṇa conscious persons, namely the brāhmaṇas and the Vaiṣṇavas; twenty-five percent was distributed to relatives; and twenty-five percent was kept against emergency expenditures and personal difficulties. Later on, when Sākara Mallika also proposed to retire, the Nawab was very much agitated and put him into jail. But Sākara Mallika, who was later to become Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, took advantage of his brother’s personal money, which had been deposited with a village banker, and escaped from the prison of Hussain Shah. In this way both brothers joined Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Rūpa Gosvāmī later met Lord Caitanya at Prayāga (Allahabad, India), and on the Daśāśvamedha bathing ghāṭa of that holy city the Lord instructed him continually for ten days. The Lord particularly instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī on the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. These teachings of Lord Caitanya to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda are narrated in our book Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
Later, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda elaborated the teachings of the Lord with profound knowledge of revealed scriptures and authoritative references from various Vedic literatures. Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya describes in his prayers to the Six Gosvāmīs that they were all highly learned scholars, not only in Sanskrit but also in foreign languages such as Persian and Arabic. They very scrutinizingly studied all the Vedic scriptures in order to establish the movement of Caitanya Mahāprabhu on the authorized principles of Vedic knowledge. The present Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is also based on the authority of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. We are therefore generally known as rūpānugas, or followers in the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. It is only for our guidance that Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī prepared his book Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, which is now presented in the form of The Nectar of Devotion.