Raganuga Bhakti not Inspired by Injunction

Question: I am confused about Jiva Goswami’s view of raganuga bhakti. It seems somewhat different from that of Rupa Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravartipad. In Bhakti Sandarbha Anuccheda 310 he quotes SB 2.1.7,

prAyeNa munayo rajAn
nivRtta vidhi-SedhataH |
nairguNya-sthA ramante sma guNanukathane hareH

which seems to indicate that raganuga is free from rules, while Visvanatha Cakravarti denies that, and wrote a whole book against this notion, Ragavartma Candrika. After that, Jiva Goswami calls vaidhi bhakti durbala, weak and raganuga bhakti strong, prabala. Does he speak here about entry into raganuga bhakti, as Visvanatha did in Ragavartma Candrika, or the raganuga practise itself [which does depend on shastric vidhi]? I ask, because Jiva Goswami continues with ataevAsyA janma-lakSaNaM , the laksana of its birth means no taste for anything else but bhakti.

Then Jiva quotes Pingala (SB 11.8.35), or Laxmi, as an example of ragatmika bhakti - but aren’t only the Vrajabasis the ragatmika role-models? Then Pingala also shows love for Narayan, in 11.8.37, not towards Krishna. Do these verses just depict the absorption of Pingala or particular love towards Narayan? The latter would indicate vidhi bhakti instead of raga bhakti. Finally, in Anuccheda 312, Prahlada is cited as an example of ragatmika bhakti, quoting SB 7.9.24. Is Prahlad not a vaidhi bhakta?

Sringar Lila / Vrindavan Art

Sringar Lila / Vrindavan Art

Answer: Sri Jiva Gosvami is explaining raganuga and in that regard he has cited verse 2.1.7 to show that raga is not inspired by a vidhi or scriptural injunction. If this concept is clear then there will be no confusion.

There are two ways one engages in any action, religious or non-religious. One is because of some injunction/order or because it will lead to one’s goal, and the other is because one likes to do it. The first is called inspired by a vidhi and the second by raga.

In Verse 2.1.7 it is stated that these munis are beyond vidhi and nishedha, yet they do bhakti. So this cannot be inspired by injunction but by natural liking. When they do it, they will do it as per the rules, which are given by the Lord Himself and thus are pleasing to Him. This is what Visvnatha Cakravarti is explaining. To give an example—a young woman gives birth to a baby. She likes to take care of the baby. This is raga. She is not under compulsion or paid for. But she does not know how to take care of the baby. So she may consult baby-care books or go on internet and learn. She is following the vidhi to take care of the baby but vidhi is not the inspiring force. She may also hire a maid to take care of the baby. The maid is doing it because she is paid, not because of raga. Both may follow the rules of baby care, but there is difference in the consciousness and therefore in the intensity of the care.

Therefore Sri Jiva says that vaidhi is durbala. In vaidhi a person does the action without much absorption. The maid takes care of the baby but may be thinking of her own children, husband or house. The mother takes care and is fully absorbed. No other thought. That is why Sri Jiva writes—no other taste except bhakti – just like a mother – no other agenda.

The examples of Laxmi or Pingala or Prahlada are given to show their natural liking. They were not following any injunction. Prahlada was not remembering the Lord because of shastric injunction. He was fully absorbed naturally.  So he had raga, even though it may appear that he followed the path of vaidhi bhakti.

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