Question: Eight years ago, by his mercy my guru Pandita Ananta das Babaji Maharaja informed me about my siddha deha (ekadasha bhava). Gradually I came to understand that raganuga bhakti is not possible to practice unless and until one receives siddha pranali. Many devotees take initiation but they don’t know about this fact and they mistakenly think that the path of raganuga can only be practised when one is on a very higher platform and that receiving siddha pranali is only possible for those who reach prema or at least bhava. So they sometimes say that this process of receiving siddha pranali is sahajism. Anyway, do you agree that unless and until a devotee has received ekadash bhava he cannot follow the process of raganuga bhakti?
Answer: Please read the definition of raganuga in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindu of Sri Rupa Gosvami, in Bhakti Sandarbha of Jiva Gosvami and in Madhurya Kadambini of Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti. The major distinction between raganuga and vaidhi lies in the inspiration to begin devotion. When pravritti or engagement in bhakti is only because of scriptural injunction then it is called vaidhi (BRS 1.2.6), but when one is eager to get the bhava of the vrajavasis and engages in bhakti, that is called raganuga. For this, smarana is the main process.
Getting ekadasha bhava is one process of raganuga bhakti, but it is not the only way. The bhava can also be revealed later on. It is not compulsory that the guru has to give it at the time of diksha, although that is the trend at present. But it is wrong to say that raganuga can be practiced only at the level of bhava or prema. Those who say this have not even understood the definition of raganuga bhakti. Also it is ridiculous to say that receiving siddha pranali is sahajism. These people do not understand the meaning of sahajism. They think that to follow anything other than chanting mahamantra is sahajism. This is pure ignorance.
However even if one has received ekadasha bhava but does not have the lobha or intense yearning, then it does not fall into raganuga bhakti, as per the definition. So what will it be or how can one begin raganuga without the lobha? Sri Jiva gives the solution in Bhakti sandarbha (anuccheda 312).
Question: Of course in agreement with you, there is a misunderstanding that raganuga bhakti can only be practised when ones reaches bhava or prema. In Raga Vartma Candrika, Srila Vishvanath Cakravarti established that the devotee on the path of raganuga advances from the platform of anartha nivritti. So, that means that even on this level one can practise it. You said: “Getting ekadasha bhava is one process of raganuga bhakti, but it is not the only way.” Please could you tell which other way/s you are referring to?
Answer: The other way is that it can also be revealed to the sadhaka by the grace of the Holy Name. In Bhakti Sandarbha, Sri Jiva Gosvami stresses the importance of nama-smarana. Then, when the heart is purified by the grace of nama, one is revealed guna, rupa and lila and one can do guna-smarana, rupa smarana and lila smarana.
The point being made is that if the heart is not in sattva, lila-smarana is not possible and one may even get an adverse effect. This has been seen in many cases. Pandit Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja also writes this in his commentary on Raga-vartma-candrika.
Question: From the verse seva sadhaka rupena siddha rupena catra hi of Bhakti-rasamrita sindhu (1.2.295) or from the verse ‘mane’ nija-siddha-deha kariyā bhāvana rātri-dine kare vraje kṛṣṇera sevana from CC (2.22.156) it is very clear that the process of raganuga implies to not only engage the mind in lila smaranam but also to conceive in the mind one’s own spiritual form, otherwise is not possible to do manasi seva.
Answer: Yes, I am not denying that. I am only saying that there are other possibilities of getting ekadasha bhava. Moreover it is not necessary that ekadash bhava must be given at the time of diksha only. They can also be given later when a sadhaka is qualified. Without the mind being in sattva predominantly, lila smarana is not possible. So nama-smarana and other physical service is recommended to clean the heart. Even Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu starts his Siksastaka with ceto-darpana-marjanam – cleaning the mirror of the heart by kirtana.
It may be noted that the BRS verse cited by you has two parts, seva sadhaka-rupena (service by the sadhaka or physical body) and seva siddha-rupena (service by the imagined perfected body). The second is preceded by the first. Without first, the second will be almost impossible in most cases, especially at present when people in general are very much under the influences of rajas and tamas.
I would ask you the following question. If one has a bonafide guru and is doing seva sadhaka-rupena but not by siddha-rupena, will that be raganuga bhakti or vaidhi or something else?
If someone is just busy taking care of his guru who is old and needs care, and thus has no time for the siddha-rupena seva, will that be raganuga or vaidhi or something else?
Do you think that Jiva Gosvami who wrote so many books, maintained a library, built a temple, did deity worship, taught students sastra and took care of guests from Bengal was following CC 2.22.156 cited above? In fact do you know any practical example of a devotee at present who is doing what is said in this verse? Remember that this part of CC is talking only of seva siddha-rupena, and not of sadhaka-rupena.
I am sorry to say that most of the old Gaudiya tempels, libraries and temple properties got lost because too much stress was given to lila smarana (seva siddha rupena), while seva sadhaka rupena was neglected because it was considered as a disturbance. But this is not what the Gosvamis did. Otherwise, how could they build temples and maintain them in Vrindavan, when there were no roads, no means available. They quote from hundreds of books in their writings. In those days there were no printing presses. They had to copy these books or depute people to do that. They quote from Ramanujacarya and Madhvacarya. How did they get their books? Please think of all this. Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti comments on this famous verse from BRS referred by you, that seva sadhaka-rupena means following in the footsteps of Rupa and Sanatana. Please read that part also. Yes, manasi seva has to be done but the other one should not be neglected, which is the case at present.
Question: My point was that to receive ekadash bhava is compulsory for the following raganuga bhakti. Siddha Jay Krishna das Babaji said that the raganuga guru always gives the information about the ekadash bhava to his disciples and also the siddha deha of all the guru varga. So if one never receives the information about his siddha deha, will he/she will ever have the possibility of do manasi seva as Rupa Goswami and Krishna das Kaviraja Goswami said for the practise of the raganuga bhakti ? If the main limb of raganuga bhakti is neglected how can we practice it?
Srila Narottam Das said in his PBC: “I will always think of the devotional service to the Divine Couple (manasi seva which requires sidha deha) and remain attach to that. The Gaudiya Vaishnava sadhaka should think of himself as an adolescent cowherd girl, a female associate of Radharani, the very life of the mind is smaranam of Radha and Krishna, this is the practise and this is the goal.” and “Never neglect the lila smaranam (in the context of manasi seva), make it the soul and life of your spiritual life.”
Answer: In my first reply I had asked you to read the definition of raganuga bhakti. But you only refer to the siddha deha and manasi seva. I am not denying that but please do not overlook the other part. You are citing statements from Sri Narottama about manasi seva but that is not the only thing he says. I am just trying to bring your attention to two points:
1. Manasi seva needs some qualification which everyone may not have. To come to the level of manasi seva one must do seva sadhaka rupena.
2. Even while doing manasi seva, the seva sadhaka rupena should not be neglected. Please read Sri Jiva Gosvami on this in Bhakti sandarbha. He says even if one has bhava, one should do seva sadhaka rupena for setting an example for others, and he himself is the best example of this.
The problem with Gaudiya Math and its branches in general is that they think manasi seva is sahjiasm, and on the other hand babajis in general think that without manasi seva there is no raganuga bhakti. I am sorry, but I do not subscribe to any of these views. Gaudiya Vaisnavism is a mess because hardly anyone studies the siddhanta. All these people whom you quote have studied the siddhanta and then they speak of manasi seva.
I am sorry to say that at present most people are not qualified for manasi seva. I speak from practical experience. So much degradation has come into our sampradaya because of this.
Manasi seva needs a sattvic mind, especially freedom from desire to enjoy the association of the opposite gender. This is very much missing, and repression does not work at all.
People read all these songs of Sri Narottama Dasa Thakur and go gaga about it. These songs have to be studied from a bonafide teacher. I use the word “study” and not “read”. These are not “do it yourself” books.
Who gave ekadasha bhava to Jiva Gosvami and the other Gosvamis for that matter? Nobody. Even your Guru Maharaja does not give ekadasha bhava to everybody. You may know it or may not. Raganuga bhakti must be understood in principle before getting into its practice, such as manasi seva. It is not enough to quote from sastra, but there has to be some understanding and realization. I may sound harsh and critical, but I do not mean to criticize anyone. I am pointing to the actual state of affairs.
All this said, where is there any reference of ekadash bhava in the Gosvami literature or the writings of Sri Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur ( I do not mean siddha-deha, antahcintit deha or manasi seva)?
Again I would like to repeat that I am not against ekadasha bhava or manasi seva. I just stress that it needs some qualification. If you study the commentary by Vyasa on Yoga Sutra, he very clearly says that only a sattvic mind can meditate, and lila-smarana is not different from that.