By reason alone one cannot understand bhakti. Sri Rupa writes, svalpapi rucir eva syad bhakti-tattvavabodhika. It is reason combined with taste (ruci) that enables one to engage in sastra-yukti, to reason well as to the implications of sastra. Sri Jiva comments, “… logic along with full taste for the topic of bhakti can give an understanding of it.”

And as stated by Sri Jiva in his Sarva-samvadjini (citing Purusottama-tantra), it is sastra-yukti that is the supreme pramana, not merely sastra unto itself, or sastra in the hands of one without full taste for bhakti.

Sastra-yukti is a characteristic of uttama adhikari Vaisnavas. While the term “uttama adhikari,” as used by Sri Rupa, refers to the most eligible to engage in sadhana bhakti, Jiva Goswami’s understanding of sastra-yukti requiring “full taste for bhakti” appears to refer to the svarupa laksana or principal characteristic of the stage of bhakti within sadhana-bhakti known as ruci. And the ruci bhakta is certainly most qualified to engage in sadhana bhakti.

Faith in Sastra, Guru and Sadhu

If we look closely we find that some persons’ faith is really doubt. Faith is inherently virtuous. However, according to the Gita, it is nonetheless of three kinds, sattva, rajas, or tamas. Sattvic faith is that faith that is informed by sastrasastriya sraddha. This is faith that optimally readily enables one to understand the scriptural conclusions. Tamasic faith on the other hand doubts the scriptural conclusions. In extreme forms it rejects the sastra altogether. In less extreme forms it accepts the scripture but imagines what its conclusions are and often fights with these conclusions.

In the Bhagavata Krsna speaks of transcendental faith, faith in himself. However, Sri Rupa speaks of this faith as threefold. These divisions are determined by the measure of ones’ understanding of sastra. The highest faith is informed by taste that enables one to engage in sastra-yukti, effective and conclusive reasoning as to the import of sastra on any given topic. It involves readily understanding the spirit of sastra.

On the other end of the threefold spectrum we find komala sradhha (tender faith). This faith is not well informed by sastra, and unto itself it can result in misunderstanding of its conclusions. Perhaps the most prominent example of such misunderstanding is a distrust of sadhus. Intermediate faith by contrast has an essential understanding of sastra that manifests in understanding the importance of sadhu sanga. Moving from tender faith to intermediate faith is accomplished through sadhu sanga. Such intermediate faith is focused more on the Vaisnava than it is on Krsna. It prefers hearing from the Vaisnavas more than seeing the Deity of Krsna.

Similarly this faith translates into faith in the advanced disciples of ones’ guru, as opposed to faith only in the guru and distrust of his or her dear ones. And if some of the guru’s dear most prove less than worthy, we must still consider the measure of our guru’s trust in them that he or she has consistently expressed. We may have to distance ourselves from them for some time and “wait and see.” But in the meantime in good faith we should seek out the association of others who the guru also indicated were advanced enough to warrant his or her trust in their ability to understand explain the conclusions of sastra.