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?
Answer: 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, smaraṇa 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).
Question: 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-rasāmṛita 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.
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:
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.
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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