Question: I understand that there are two ways to practice rāganugā-bhakti:
1) sādhaka-rupa-sevā – Chant, serve guru.
2) siddha-rupa-sevā – Serve Sri Radha, Sri Lalita, but only if and when guru wishes to give knowledge of siddha-rupa.
Rāgānugā bhakti begins at point 1) above after dikṡā. One may not ever get to point 2) in this life. Am I correct in my understanding?
Answer: Yes, but note that 2. is not compulsory. 1. is sufficient to attain the goal. There is too much hype made by some people about 2). I think the psychological reason for this is maintaining independence. But people do not understand that without sādhaka-rupa-sevā, siddha-rupa-sevā will not work.
Question: I would appreciate your perspective on whether līlā-smaraṇam destroys material desires and if so, can we practice it?
Answer: First try to grasp what bhakti is. Bhakti means changing your awareness from your body (gross and subtle) to Kṛṣṇa. This is not possible without the grace of guru. I have no doubt about it. No amount of līlā-smaraṇam can help without surrendering to guru and getting his grace. Without surrender to guru, līlā-smaraṇam or any other sādhana will fortify your ahaṅkāra. This may not be visible immediately. Māyā is very tricky. Mām eva ye prapadyante …. One may feel that one has advanced, lost desires, but the desires will strike back in a very powerful manner. Look at Saubhari Muni. I am sure he thought he has no desires. He was able to sit in the Yamunā for months. No sense pleasure. But then one day he lost it completely.
The very word “rāgānugā” has the word “anugā” in it. So if you do lilā-smaraṇam without guru, whose anugā are you? How do you think you will get prema? You are already disregarding śāstra guru-pādāsrāyas tasmāt…., tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta…. So how can this be called rāgānugā? People read śāstra selectively, pick what suits them and leave the troublesome part. It does not work that way.
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Daily Bhakti Byte
To be successful materially one needs to have faith in oneself. To be peaceful one must have faith in God. To be free of material conditioning one should have faith in shastra.