Many times the words Sadhana and Bhajana are interchangeably used. However we must understand that these two aspects are interdependent and do not mean the same thing!! Sadhana means “to aim”. Bhajana means the process by which Sadhana is achieved. Now let us look at the Sadhana aspect.
Usually the Gaudiya World is divided in its view of Sadhana. The general aim of Sadhaks is to achieve “Prema” or “Love of Godhead” and go back home to Godhead. Now this is where the real meaning of Prema has to be enunciated. What is the indication that one has achieved Prema. This has been explained beautifully by Narottam Thakura Mahasaya in Sri Prema Bhakti Chandrika..that by the mercy of Gurudeva one attains one’s eternal service to Sri Sri Radha Krishna in the spiritual realm..This is Prema. How does one know this while embodied? When one takes Diksha ( the next stage of Harinama Sanskaar) from a God-realized ; Seva-Prapta Spiritual Master and understands one’s Siddha Swarupa as a Manjari ( This may be a sakha or any other Ragatmika associate depending on the Sadhana of the spiritual master and disciple) and then realizes one’s eternal relationship with Srimati Radharani and serves Her by the process of Bhajana ( shravana,kirtana,smarana) so as to please the divine couple and get established in that Seva in one’s heart ; such a “jeeva” is said to be a “Seva- Prapta” or Siddha.
Sadhana is of two types..One is in the Aishwarya Paksha and one is in the Madhur Paksha. When devotees aspire to attain Prema through the chanting of the Holy name but are not conscious of the nectarine aspects of Braja Leela ; such aspirants will achieve Radha-Krishna in the Aishwarya mode or may also attain the spiritual planet of Dwarka or Mathura. However aspirants who have taken shelter under a “Rasika” … who has potentized the Diksha mantras with the nectarine mood of Madhurya Braja Leela ; such associates receive the eternal Madhurya Dhama of Braja at the centre of the Goloka Lotus.
Looking at the Bhajana aspect…
When one has the aspect of Sadhana cleared in one’s heart..The process of Bhajana becomes easy. Bhajana has two parts… one the Bhajan Kriya aspect and two the Shuddha Bhajana aspect. When one is in the bound state ; Free-Will has to be used to forcibly engage one’s mind in shravana,Kirtana and Smarana. This has to be done under the able guidance of a Shuddha Bhakta who takes the position of the Shiksha Guru who may also initiate one through the Harinama Sanskara. When one performs Bhajana Kriya and Anartha Nivritti ( purification from the six enemies of Kama,Krodha,Lobha,Moha,Mada and Matsarya) happens ..one uses one’s intelligence and accepts a Spiritual master who confers Diksha ( conferring the Gopala mantra and Radha Mantra) with the help of which the disciple engages in Bhajana; the process by which one is established in Krishna Prema. Prema has been described in the previous section. Shuddha Bhajana is different from Bhajana Kriya in this way that Bhajana kriya involves stubborn use of Free-will to engage in the Lord’s service against the dictat of the contaminated mind. Bhajana on the other hand is free-flowing and natural. Bhajana is the natural state of the liberated living entity. By the mercy of Vaishnavas, the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord Bhajana continues unabated till one realizes one’s nitya swarupa as the maid-servant of Srimati Radharani.Bhajana after this stage becomes as inseparable as one’s life-breath. This Bhajana process gets amalgamated with the persona of the sadhaka that now the Lord’s own well-being will be represented by such Bhajana!!