The base of Bhajana is firm intention. When one is attracted to Bhakti Shastras, one may conclude that it is divine will in operation for one to gravitate towards the Ultimate. It is only by the will of the one who is beyond the ken of mind and intelligence that has chosen you. No one can gravitate towards the Lord without His ultimate sanction.
However the course of journey towards manifesting the Lord in all His personified glory can be expedited by the use of free-will and intelligence. The Shastras recommend three basic processes, they are Shravanam (Hearing), Kirtanam (Glorification) and Smaranam (Remembrance) through which the Lord can be propitiated and goaded into accepting us in His service. All these three processes rest on the firm premise of “Prayojana” or the ultimate good of life and life beyond death. When one is convinced about the uselessness of worldly endeavour one will realize that it is fruitful to engage in some activity that will give one the deepest satisfaction and take us to a plane of ultimate perfection. In this context, two words of Sanskrit come to mind. They are “Tapa” and “Sadhana”. The word “Tapa” indicates undergoing austerities to attain something from the world beyond and manifesting them on this material plane. The word “Sadhana” indicates aiming at a goal which will transfer our own self from this plane of experience to another plane of experience which is all-fulfilling and perfect.
In the context of Bhakti, the word “Tapa” has no place because the intention of Bhakti is to transcend the modes of material nature and transfer us to the perfect domain. This domain is the field of perfection or the domain of service where there is perfect harmony. There is a change in consciousness at the base and the subsequent manifestation is of higher nature where the living entity progressively travels to the domain of higher existence. “Tapa” is done fundamentally in the context of gain for power and control which is the nature of material existence which belongs to the domain of exploitation. “Tapa” manifests a force from beyond which is supra-mundane but its utility is simply mundane which will not benefit the living entity in the context of ultimate good. Sadhana is done where the Prayojana is to become free of the modes of material nature. It is the intention of things that differentiates “Sadhana” from “Tapa”. When Brahma appeared in Brahma-Loka, he was inspired by the Supreme Person to perform “Tapa”, so that he could create paraphernalia for living entities to operate and at the same time decide their fate during the course of the cosmic evolution. Although Brahma is in indirect service of the Lord, he is also in a prayerful mood where he pines for the direct audience of the Lord and prays for direct service. The position of Brahma is that of power of control and hence not a perfect platform. Tapa binds whereas Sadhana relieves. The process that brings fruition to the Sadhana Tattva or Prayojana is the process of Bhajana. The Prayojana or the Sadhana Tattva will appear in the line of “Nishkama” or one that is free from the taint of self-centeredness. Yet Prayojana is guided in various levels and that is decided by the intention of the living entity who engages in Bhajana to attain one’s final destination. When Bhajana is done without any ulterior motive without fear of loss or gain, the very nature of Bhajana transcends the material nature. It is this intensity and intention of Bhajana that elevates the consciousness of a living entity. Bhajana is always accompanied with self-surrender and Prayer to the Absolute, Krishna. Unless the process of Bhajana is not accompanied with surrender and supplication of one’s self, the process itself does not fall under the category of Bhajana proper. It is the intention and the sincerity of Bhajana that makes the journey of the jeeva or living entity ride over the world canvass with disentangled ease. When Bhajana reaches a particular intensity, the living entity becomes free of all misconceptions and is able to propel oneself with innocent gait.