How to Become Purified

Question: How does purification work for devotees – purification of anarthas? I always hear devotees say, “this is for your purification,” but how does it work?

śṛṇvatām svakathā krishna,
punya śravana kīrtana,
hṛdyāntaḥ stho hyabhadrānī
vidhunoti suhṛt satām

This verse from Bhāgavatam (1.2.17) is the answer to your question, and there is no better answer.

Abhadra meanns impurity. hṛdi-antaḥ-stha means “in the heart.” So, the topic of the verse is about how to get rid of (“vidhunoti“) impurities in the heart – “anarthas.” The method is to hear (“śṛṇvata“) Krishna-kathā and Krishna-kīrtan.

Krishna-kathā doesn’t mean chatting about this or that das or dasi, prabhu or mātājī, or GBC or ABC rule or motion, or any other stuff somehow suppesedly remotely connected to Krishna in some way. Krishna-kathā means directly hearing Krishna-līlā, and then glorifying that same Krishna in kīrtan. If we do not hear Krishna līlā we cannot do nāma-kīrtan or nāma-japa and thus we cannot become purified.

If we do not hear Krishna līlā we cannot do nāma-kīrtan or nāma-japa and thus we cannot become purified.

Q: Example will help me to understand. I get angry easily. How will Krishna-kathā purify this? How will it purify lust or envy? 

If you try to stop your anger, lust, etc you will fail. “daivi-hy eṣa guṇa mayī, mama-māyā-durātyayā.” Our nature is our nature – prakṛti – and that is impossible to overcome. Don’t try to stop your anger, lust, or whatever. Just try to develop attraction to hearing Krishna-līlā in more and more detail. Then, automatically, you will be more able to do śuddha-nāma-japa and śuddha-nāma-kīrtan. And then – by association with śuddha-nāma – all impurity will fall away just like an empty house falls to ruin, or a forgotten book is never read. By developing taste for Krishna, we simply FORGET about anger and lust. “param dṛṣṭvā nivartante.” We don’t “overcome” our impurities – we forget about them, and they disappear gradually as a result of our neglect.

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  1. The alchemy of transformation! The Guru is like a black hole that pulls all negativity into it. In this case, Krishna is the Guru and as you say, an attraction to him will ween you from the “bad stuff”.

    A different perspective is Tantra which teaches to go through the issue with awareness. This method helped me with cigarettes. I would consciously enjoy them and eventually came to see their affect on my body and it was easy to quit.

    Kashmir Shaivism is another approach-love fearlessly.


    1. There are so many approaches, designed for so many people. Each patient has a slightly different “disease” so requires a slightly different treatment. The question here in the post, though, was regarding bhaktas. For those with adhikar for bhakti, the purification is by śravana and kīrtana of krishna katha and krishna kīrtan.


  2. I agree that this verse most closely explains the process of purification. I like how Srila Prabhupada, in his translation defines Krsna in the heart as ‘the benefactor of the truthful devotee’. When we are truthful about who we are – humble – we develop a taste for hearing. This hearing then removes the impure desires and impure consciousness in the heart. Sometimes I have seen devotees who are sick or suffering and someone will say, “Wow, you’re really getting some purification!” It’s a bit of an ISKCON cliche. Although it is possible to become purified through suffering, it is also possible to become purified through happiness – it depends on how we respond to our experience (our karma) as to whether it purifies us or not. If we get sick and as a result get angry at God – that’s contaminating rather than purifying. It’s not that suffering in itself ‘purifies us’ of karma – rather to the extent that we see that experience as God’s arrangement and an opportunity for service – then it’s purifying. And the best way to develop that consciousness? – hearing Krsna’s pastimes, becoming attracted to His personality and then chanting, crying, dancing and glorifying Him like a madman out of natural love and affection.


    1. ‘the benefactor of the truthful devotee’ = suhṛt satām

      I think a taste for hearing about Krishna has no cause. It is merely a question of love, freewill. If you want to love Krishna you develop a taste for hearing about him. If not, not. But then, realizing who we really are (a ray emanated from Krishna) goes a long way to helping us want to love Krishna, I agree.

      Being sick and saying “You’re getting purified” refers to purification of vikarma. Enjoyment exhausts karma and suffering exhausts vikarma. However, the enjoyment will create predeliction for more karma and the suffering will do the same – so merely the experience of enjoyment or suffering is not sufficient to “purify” the karma. Some detachment has to be there so that new predelictions don’t arise. You said this exactly, “it depends on how we respond to the experience.” Perfect!

      You made a nice comment, thank you.


  3. We could benefit from having a major nectar streaming portal.

    It would stream audio in form of dramatic reading of endless stories from Vraja

    Once Radha…

    Once Krišna…

    Not the lectures

    Not the bhajans

    Bhajans can go different channel.

    Only stories.

    Lots of them



    Amrita dhuni

    People could hook up from their mobile devices and do the listening from everywhere.

    Can we build such portal?

    I do not know too many stories to tell, but I could do the listening. 🙂

    I could do the story gathering and converting to audio format

    Need someone who knows a lot of stories though


    1. I agree, we need more Krishna katha. But…

      We need someone who actually LOVEs the stories. The stories themselves are just the capsule. The medicine itself is the LOVE within the story, which only becomes activated when the storyteller has such LOVE for the story.


  4. A good exposition on the extremely user-friendly nature of bhakti. We do not “defeat” our conditioning by fighting with it, we rise above our conditioning by focusing on the positive. Focusing on anartha-nivrtti alone will not yield the desired result; focusing instead on artha-pravrtti makes anarthas go away naturally. The effort involved in sadhana then is really the effort involved in cultivating sravanam-kirtanam rather than the effort of battling with our bad habits.


  5. I just came across this beautiful verse in Dana-keli-kaumudi that sums up your point:

    “Lord Krsna’s affectionate joking quarrel with Sri Radha enters the ears of the swanlike devotees and stops them from tasting anything else, even things others think to be the purest nectar.”


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