Practices of Rāgānugā Bhakti

Question: Eight years ago, by his mercy my guru informed me about my siddha-deha (ekādaś bhāva). Gradually I came to understand that rāgānugā bhakti is not possible to practice unless and until one receives siddha praṇāli. Many devotees take initiation but they don’t know about this fact and they mistakenly think that the path of rāgānugā can only be practiced when one is on a very higher platform and that receiving siddha praṇāli is only possible for those who reach prema or at least bhāva. So, they sometimes say that this process of receiving siddha praṇāli is sahajiyaism. Anyway, do you agree that unless and until a devotee has received ekādaś bhāva he cannot follow the process of rāgānugā bhakti?

devotee meditatingAnswer: Please read the definition of rāgānugā in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, in Bhakti Sandarbha of Jīva Gosvāmī and in Mādhurya Kādambini of Śrila Viśvanātha Cakravarti. The major distinction between rāgānugā and vaidhi lies in the inspiration to begin devotion. When pravṛitti 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 bhāva of the vrajavāsis and engages in bhakti, that is called rāgānugā. For this, smaraa is the main process.

Getting Ekādaś bhāva is one process of rāgānugā bhakti, but it is not the only way. The bhāva can also be revealed later on. It is not compulsory that the guru has to give it at the time of dikṡā, although that is the trend at present. But it is wrong to say that rāgānugā can be practiced only at the level of bhāva or prema. Those who say this have not even understood the definition of rāgānugā bhakti. Also, it is ridiculous to say that receiving siddha praṇāli is sahajism. These people do not understand the meaning of sahajiyasm. They think that to follow anything other than chanting mahāmantra is sahajiyasm. This is pure ignorance.
However even if one has received ekādaś bhāva but does not have the lobha or intense yearning, then it does not fall into rāgānugā bhakti, as per the definition. So, what will it be or how can one begin rāgānugā without the lobha? Śrī Jīva gives the solution in Bhakti Sandarbha (Anuccheda 312).

Vrindavan Research InstituteQuestion: Of course, in agreement with you, there is a misunderstanding that rāgānugā bhakti can only be practised when ones reaches bhāva or prema. In Rāga-vartma Candrikā, Ṡrila Viśvanāth Cakravarti established that the devotee on the path of rāgānugā advances from the platform of anartha nivṛitti. So, that means that even on this level one can practise it. You said:”Getting Ekādaś bhāva is one process of rāgānugā 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 sādhaka by the grace of the Holy Name. In Bhakti Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī stresses the importance of nāma-smaraṇa. Then, when the heart is purified by the grace of nāma, one is revealed guṇa, rūpa and līlā and one can do guṇa-smaraṇa, rūpa smaraṇa and līlā smaraṇa.
The point being made is that if the heart is not in sattva, līlā-smaraṇa is not possible and one may even get an adverse effect. This has been seen in many cases. Paṇḍit Ananta Dāsa Bābāji Maharaja also writes this in his commentary on Rāga-vartma-candrikā.

Question: From the verse sevā sādhaka rupeṇa siddha rupeṇa cātra hi of Bhakti-rasāmita sindhu (1.2.295) or from the verse ‘mane’ nija-siddha-deha kariyā bhāvanarātri-dine kare vraje kṛṣṇera sevana from CC (2.22.156) it is very clear that the process of rāgānugā implies to not only engage the mind in lilā smaraṇam but also to conceive in the mind one’s own spiritual form, otherwise is not possible to do mānasī sevā.
Answer: Yes, I am not denying that. I am only saying that there are other possibilities of getting ekādaś bhāva. Moreover, it is not necessary that ekādaś bhāva must be given at the time of dikśā only. They can also be given later when a sādhaka is qualified. Without the mind being in sattva predominantly, līlā smaraṇa is not possible. So nāma-smaraṇa and other physical service is recommended to clean the heart. Even Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu starts his Śikśāṣṭaka with ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam – cleaning the mirror of the heart by kīrtaṇa.

It may be noted that the BRS verse cited by you has two parts, sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa (service by the sādhaka or physical body) and sevā siddha-rupeṇa (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 qualified guru and is busy serving him in his sādhaka-rupa and thus has no time for the siddha-rupeṇa sevā, will that be rāgānugā or vaidhi or something else?

Do you think that Jīva Gosvāmi who wrote so many books, maintained a library, built a temple, did deity worship, taught to students śāstra 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 sevā siddha-rupeṇa, and not of sadhaka-rupena.

I am sorry to say that most of the old Gauḍīya temples, libraries and temple properties got lost because too much stress was given to līlā smaraṇa (sevā siddha-rupeṇa), while sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa was neglected because it was considered as a disturbance. But this is not what the Gosvāmis 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 Rāmānujācarya and Madhvācarya. How did they get their books? Please think of all this. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments on this famous verse from BRS referred by you, that sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa means following in the footsteps of Rūpa and Sanātana. 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.

 

Pearl Story / Vrindavan Art

Pearl Story / Vrindavan Art

Question: My point was that to receive ekādaś bhāva is compulsory for the following rāgānugā bhakti. Siddha Jay Kṛṣṇadās Bābāji said that the rāgānugā guru always gives the information about the ekādaś bhāva 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 doing mānasī sevā as Rupa Gosvāmi and Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja Gosvāmi said for the practice of the rāgānugā bhakti? If the main limb of rāgānugā bhakti is neglected how can we practice it?

Śrīla Narottama Dāsa said in his Prema Bhakti Candrika: “I will always think of the devotional service to the Divine Couple (mānasī sevā which requires siddha deha) and remain attached to that. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhaka should think of himself as an adolescent cowherd girl, a female associate of Rādharaṇi, the very life of the mind is smaraṇam of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, this is the practice and this is the goal.” And, “Never neglect the līlā smaraṇam (in the context of mānasī sevā), make it the soul and life of your spiritual life.”

Answer: In my first reply I had asked you to read the definition of rāgānugā bhakti. But you only refer to the siddha deha and mānasī sevā. I am not denying that but please do not overlook the other part. You are citing statements from Śrī Jīva Narottama about mānasī sevā but that is not the only thing he says. I am just trying to bring your attention to two points:

  1. Mānasī sevā needs some qualification which everyone may not have. To come to the level of mānasī sevā one must do sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa.
  2. Even while doing mānasī sevā, the sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa should not be neglected. Please read Śrī Jīva Gosvāmi on this in Bhakti Sandarbha. He says even if one has bhāva, one should do sevā sādhaka-rupeṇa for setting an example for others, and he himself is the best example of this.

The problem with Gauḍīya Math and its branches in general is that they think mānasī sevā is sahjiyaism, and on the other hand bābājis in general think that without mānasī sevā there is no rāgānugā bhakti. I am sorry, but I do not subscribe to any of these views. Gaudīya Vaiṣṇavism is a mess because hardly anyone studies the siddhānta. All these people whom you quote have studied the siddhānta and then they speak of mānasī sevā.

I am sorry to say that at present most people are not qualified for mānasī sevā. I speak from practical experience. So much degradation has come into our sampradāya because of this.
Mānasī sevā needs a sāttvic 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 Śrī Narottama Dāsa Thākur and go gaga about it. These songs have to be studied from a bona fide teacher. I use the word “study” and not “read”. These are not “do it yourself” books.

Who gave ekādaś bhāva to Jīva Gosvāmi and the other Gosvāmis for that matter? Nobody.
Even your Guru Maharaja does not give ekādaś bhāva to everybody. You may know it or may not. Rāgānugā bhakti must be understood in principle before getting into its practice, such as mānasī sevā. It is not enough to quote from śāstra, 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.

 

 

Jiva Gosvami's bhajan kutir at Radhakunda

Jiva Gosvami’s bhajan kutir at Radhakunda

 

All this said, where is there any reference of ekādaś bhāva in the Gosvāmi literature or the writings of Śrila Viśvanāth Cakravarti Thākur (I do not mean siddha-deha, antah-cinti-deha or mānasī sevā)?

Again, I would like to repeat that I am not against ekādaś bhāva or mānasī sevā. I just stress that it needs some qualification. If you study the commentary by Vyāsa on Yoga Sūtra, he very clearly says that only a sāttvic mind can meditate, and līlā-smaraṇa is not different from that.

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Comments ( 16 )
  1. scooty ram

    Jai Sri Radhe ,
    Thank you for the article.

    I have no personal knowledge on this topic except the many discussion and article on internet i have read.

    From the response, it appears sooner or later there will be revelation of siddha deha to a raganuga sadhaka and that this revelation is an important pre-requisite for lila smarana which is an important part of raganuga bhakti.

    If classification of raganuga or vaidhi is at the starting point itself (adau) – cause to perform bhakti being lobha or zastra, then to such a sadhaka there should be no delay in knowing the sidha deha. I assume bhajana kriya involves lila smarana with siddha deha and this plays an important role in removing anarthas. I am unable to know why a guru would delay longer in revealing the siddha deha to a sadhaka who has the lobha at the start.

    The reason why a Guru does not engage the disciple in lila smarana may be( as said in the article) due the current need of sampradaya – to revive the literatures and preserve goswami books and these services will verily match the activities of lila smarana. The crux is in following the instructions of Guru.

    Personally, serving Guru in sadhaka rupa or siddha rupa should be of no difference since the Guru is the same person. Therefore I do not know why importance is given to lila smarana when Guru is literally in front of eyes and when there are ample opportunities to serve Him by seeing Him with naked eye.

    If nAma reveals siddha deha, it is verily the nAma/mantra FROM the guru which has the siddha deha along with it. The disciple can not attain something different from what the Guru is or what the Guru gives through nAma. In this sense can we say by simply following what Guru wants , irrespective of service in sadhaka form or siddha form, one attains perfection ?

    Of course the problem that might arise in focusing only on sadhaka rupa is the doubt of the disciple who might think Guru does not have a siddha rupa.Also if the goswami literatures emphatically say lila smarana with siddha deha as a pre-requisite to prema, then it can never be ignored.

    Regards

    • snd

      Dear Rajgopalan ji
      I suggest that you read the relevant parts of Bhaktirasamritasindhu, Bhakti Sandarbha and the complete Raga-vartma-candrika of Visvanatha Cakravarti. Many of your doubts will be cleared by that. Unfortunately i am quite busy with visiting students. So i request you read the above stated books, and if you still have doubts you can write to me.
      Thank you

  2. Tarun Govinda das

    Dear Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji!

    I really love this article and your utterly sane approach. Thank you.

    Could I make some humble points?

    “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 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.”

    Hmmm…I could now play the devil´s (sic) advocate and say:;

    “Where is it mentioned that the Holy Name reveals one´s OWN guna, rupa and one´s OWN part in the lila?”

    I understand that the Holy Name reveals Krishna´s guna, rupa and lila…but also of the sadhaka???

    “Who gave ekadasha bhava to Jiva Gosvami and the other Gosvamis for that matter? ”

    Hmmm…IMHO not really a convincing argument, sorry to sound arrogant.

    They are eternal associates (perfect manjaris) and I guess they would not “need” the giving of ekadasha-bhava.

    In this spirit I could also “challenge” the institution of diksha…I could then ask:

    “Who gave diksha to Srila Sanatana Goswami? Did Srila Sanatana Goswami give diksha to Srila Rupa Goswami…?

    Anyway, I really love the clarity and the very sane and realistic approach to the whole matter.

    Thank you.

    ys
    Tarun Govinda das

    • malati Post author

      Reply by Babaji:

      > I really love this article and your utterly sane approach. Thank you.

      Let me clarify a little. I did not write this as an article. Otherwise
      I would have given it more thought. It was just an impromptu reply
      to a prabhu in which i made a mistake of writing one line which you
      have quoted below. There was no need to write it. What I write is not
      wrong but it was not needed to answer his question. I did not know that
      this one line will raise so many questions/doubts. So now i am caught
      because of my own carelessness.
      While commenting on the famous adau sraddha verses (BRS 1.4.15,16)
      both Sri Jiva Gosvami and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti comment that among
      various orders of attaining prema, this (described in these two verses)
      is one of them and this one is the most common one.
      This implies that there can be other ways. This has been my point in
      writing that revelation can also happen by the grace of Name. Of course
      this does not mean that one does not have a guru. But suppose one’s guru
      leaves the body and he or she was not revealed the ekadash bhav, then
      it is possible that one is revealed by the power of the name. Mahaprabhu
      has said that name has all the power of Krishna.

      > “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 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.”
      >
      > Hmmm…I could now play the devil´s (sic) advocate and say:;
      >
      You are very daring to play the devil’s advocate. Or rather, it is
      your humility.

      > “Where is it mentioned that the Holy Name reveals one´s OWN guna, rupa and
      > one´s OWN part in the lila?”
      >
      > I understand that the Holy Name reveals Krishna´s guna, rupa and lila…but
      > also of the sadhaka???

      Yes, that is implicit. If name reveals guna rupa and lila of Krsna, it
      also reveals that of the sadhaka. That is implicitly understood (vyanjana
      vritti). That revelation will happen thru guru, and in absence of guru it
      can happen directly. Otherwise how does the guru know about the
      svarupa of the disciple. It is the Lord who reveals it to him or her. Our
      philosophy is non-dualistic, i.e. there is only one ultimate tattva
      and that is Krishna. He is the supreme controller, He is the
      fountainhead of everything. Everything flows from Him. Although for
      sake of lila we have so many of His associates beginning from Srimati
      Radhika, yet He is the Ultimate Source of everything. That is why we do
      not agree with Radha-vallabhis (hit Harivamsha Gosvami) and many other
      rasikas who make Radha as the supreme.

      > “Who gave ekadasha bhava to Jiva Gosvami and the other Gosvamis for that
      > matter? ”
      >
      > Hmmm…IMHO not really a convincing argument, sorry to sound arrogant.
      >
      > They are eternal associates (perfect manjaris) and I guess they would not
      > “need” the giving of ekadasha-bhava.

      I agree with you. But where does it begin – i mean, who is the first
      one to give ekadash bhava? Is it the Gosvamis who started giving it?
      No.
      Moreover, although they are siddhas they acted as sadhakas, they took
      diksha and chanted, worshiped and engaged in other such sadhana
      practices, such as parikrama or lila smarana. We are supposed to follow in
      their footsteps. That is how Visvanatha Cakravarti writes on the seva
      sadhaka rupena part of the verse.

      > In this spirit I could also “challenge” the institution of diksha…I could
      > then ask:
      >
      > “Who gave diksha to Srila Sanatana Goswami? Did Srila Sanatana Goswami give
      > diksha to Srila Rupa Goswami…?

      FYI, Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis were intiated by Sri Gadadhara Pandita
      and Jiva Gosvami was intiated by Rupa Gosvami.
      Otherwise how could they stress so much diksha in their writings i.e.
      in HBV, BRS, and Sandarbhas, if they were not initaited?

  3. Tarun Govinda das

    THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH.

    You helped me a lot.

    I appreciate greatly…

  4. Tarun Govinda das

    “FYI, Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis were intiated by Sri Gadadhara Pandita
    and Jiva Gosvami was intiated by Rupa Gosvami.”

    Please, where can I read about this??? Thank you in advance.

    “You are very daring to play the devil’s advocate. Or rather, it is
    your humility.”

    Dear Babaji Maharaja, please don´t make fun of me…I am very arrogant and critical, but by association with genuine sadhus like you I pray to improve.

    Dandavats,
    Tarunji

  5. Tarun Govinda das

    “FYI, Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis were intiated by Sri Gadadhara Pandita
    and Jiva Gosvami was intiated by Rupa Gosvami.”

    Hmmm….I can´t find any evidence of this. I will ask my Gurudeva.

    • malati Post author

      There is more material on this topic from a previous conversation which we will publish this weekend. Please stay posted.

  6. Tarun Govinda das

    In BRS 1.1.3 Srila Rupa Gosvami clearly states that Sanatan Goswami and not Gadadhara is his Guru – visrAma mandiratayA tasya sanAtana tanor mad Ishasya. Jiva Goswami comments on this: atha nija nijeSTa-devAvatArena nija guruM stavan prArthayate. It is echoed by Visvanatha Cakravarti too.

    • Anan

      In olden days, guru’s name used to be kept very confidential. Now, after the concept of parampara, sampradaya etc have crept in, it becomes necessary to openly reveal one’s guru’s name. If one thinks that by reading books one can know everything about a person, it is not correct. That is not parampara.

    • malati Post author

      Babaji’s reply to Tarun:

      As far as Guru of Sri Sanatana Gosvami is concerned, my intention is
      in informing that he had a guru, and not so much who is the guru. The
      point was made by Tarun Prabhu that Gosvamis are nitya siddha and did
      not need ekadash bhava or diksha.
      My personal belief is that he studied from Vidya Vacaspati. This he
      writes in his commentary on tenth canto of Bhagavata, and is also
      mentioned in Bhakti Ratnakara. But after meeting Mahaprabhu he took
      Vaishnava diksha from Sri Gadadhara Pandit.
      In the past it was a custom to keep guru and mantra undisclosed. My
      guru never mentions his guru’s name. He has printed more than 70 books
      but he never mentions his guru’s name in these books directly.
      Sometimes he would refer to his Nyaya teacher from Benaras as guruji
      and I used to think he is refering to our parama guru. But then from
      the context i would realize that he is referring to his teacher from
      Benaras.So it is not unusual that Gosvamis do not mention the name of
      their diksha guru in their works.

      In India everybody (at leat the upper three classes) were initiated in
      their young age. That is the upanyana samkara (sacred thread). One who
      did this samskara was called guru. Not having guru was an abusive word
      – nigura, which is still used in the villages. I heard this abusive
      word in my childhood but never understood its meaning until i studied
      the shastra. Without having diksha one could not get married.
      In Sanskrit the word guru is also used for any senior or respectable
      person, besides for one’s teacher.

      So one’s elder brother, mother or father, etc. are also guru. Sri Rupa
      Gosvami refers to Sanatan Gosvami as guru in that sense in
      Bhakti-rasamritasindhu.

    • malati Post author

      Reply by Babaji:
      > In BRS 1.1.3 Srila Rupa Gosvami clearly states that Sanatan Goswami and not
      > Gadadhara is his Guru – visrAma mandiratayA tasya sanAtana tanor mad
      > Ishasya. Jiva Goswami comments on this: atha nija nijeSTa-devAvatArena nija
      > guruM stavan prArthayate. It is echoed by Visvanatha Cakravarti too.

      No this is not so clear as you think. Please I repeat again that word
      guru does not always mean diksha guru. If you do not believe me open
      any sanskrit dictionary and see what guru means. You will not find
      that it means intiating teacher. The closest you will find is one who
      does the upanayana samskara. Again I repeat that one has to be
      knowledgebale how the words are used by the author, not how i (the
      reader) use them. That is why one needs to study in the tradition,
      know the cultural background. Words change meaning over a period of
      time. We have to keep that in mind.

  7. Tarun Govinda das

    “But after meeting Mahaprabhu he took
    Vaishnava diksha from Sri Gadadhara Pandit.”

    Where is the scriptural evidence?

    • malati Post author

      Prabhu, please wait. This weekend I will post another discussion exactly on this topic. You may commment again if that does not satisfy you.

  8. Tarun Govinda das

    With a straw between my teeth I fall down mentally to your feet.

    Please forgive me. I feel that I went much too far.

    The fault lies entirely with me.
    Due to my arrogance and ignorance I always entangle myself in such debates where at the end I have to apologize because, out of my impatient and over-zealous heart, I always went too far.

    I really deeply regret that all this went down like it did by my stupid behaviour and I really apologize from the core of my heart.

    I have no right to talk to sadhus like you in this manner and I repent it gravely. The world is a much better place with wonderful persons like you and I am very happy to be able to read everything you published.

    I hope you forgive this fallen soul

    Dandavat pranams
    Tarun Govinda das

  9. J Edelmann

    Thank you for this! A very interesting and relevant discussion!

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