The Five Principles of Raganuga-Bhakti

Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Discussions with the GBC on the book, Raga-Vartma-Candrika [Part 6] (links for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5Audio link for part 6)
Mathura, India: 1991

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We have completed the explanations of the first two slokas quoted and discussed by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in his Raga-vartma-candrika, but in summary.

The first sloka is:

krsnam smaran janam casya prestham nija samihitam
tat tat katha ratas casau kuryad vasam vraje sada

["While remembering Sri Krsna and His beloved associates whom we desire to follow, being fully absorbed in discussions of their pastimes, one should always reside in Vraja. If this is not possible, then one should reside there by mind." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 1.294)]

We should remember Krsna and those associates for whose service mood we have greed. We should remember them, hearing and repeating their pastimes with Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. And we should live in Vrndavana, if not by body than at least by mind.

The second sloka is:

seva sadhaka rupena siddha rupena catra hi
tad bhava lipsuna karya vraja-lokanusaratah

["On this path of raganuga, being charmed by the intense love of Krsna's beloved Vrajavasis, the sadhaka should live in Vraja under the guidance of those devotees who have taken shelter of the Vrajavasis (like Sri Rupa, Sanatana and Raghunatha dasa Gosvamis), always eager to serve them in his present physical body. And, in the perfected stage of his siddha-rupa, the internally conceived spiritual body suitable for performing prema-seva, he should engage in the cherished service of Sri Krsna according to his chosen mood. In this regard he should follow in the footsteps of the eternal residents of Vraja, such as Sri Radhika, Lalita, Visakha, and Sri Rupa Manjari." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 1.295)]

Sadhaka-rupena refers to Srila Rupa Gosvami and siddha-rupena refers to Rupa Manjari. Vraja lokanusaratah refers to Sri Krsna's nara-lila (human-like pastimes) with Nanda Baba, Yasoda, and the gopis. They have 'ordinary,' human-like relations with Krsna, but neither they nor Krsna are humans.

And the third sloka is:

sravanotkirtanadini vaidhi-bhakty uditani tu
yany angani ca tanyatra vijneyani manisibhih

["In vaidhi-bhakti one should practice the limbs of bhakti like sravana, kirtana, and so on according to one's qualification. Similarly, for raganuga-bhakti also it has been advised by scholars who are well versed in the principles of bhakti to follow these practices." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 1.296)]

If a person develops sraddha (faith) by reading or hearing the order of sastra and is consequently inspired to cultivate bhakti, this is called vaidhi-bhakti. On the other hand, if a devotee has genuine greed to attain service like that of the gopis, even though he is performing the limbs of vaidhi-bhakti, he has actually developed madhurya- or raganuga-bhava. The mood of his vaidhi-bhakti performance will change; it will not be the same as the mood of vaidhi-bhakti. A raganuga-bhakta may follow all sixty-four limbs (angas) of bhakti, or nine, or five, or three (sravana, kirtana, and smarana), or only one (harinama-kirtana) – but with the mood of raganuga.

In his explanation of this sloka, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that a raganuga devotee need not follow each and every one of the sixty-four, or nine, limbs of bhakti. He adopts only those practices which are favorable for his development in raganuga-bhakti. He will not incur any offense if he neglects any one of those limbs for his mula...

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Root

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: His root bhava (constitutional mood). This is also called amsi-bhava. Amsi means...

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Essence.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: What do you mean by 'essence'?

Burijana dasa: Sara [the Hindi word for 'essence']

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Essence means 'the essential thing.'

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: What essential thing?

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: The essential thing is to get greed.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: That devotee already has greed.

Burijana dasa: To cultivate or nourish.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: To cultivate or nourish what?

Burijana dasa: His affection, his love

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: What affection?

Burijana dasa: His affection for Krsna in a particular way or mood.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: The root is gopi-bhava, or more specifically manjari-bhava – the mood of personal service to Srimati Radhika like that of the manjaris; this is the essence, the root mood (mula/amsi-bhava). In order to obtain this, the devotee executes those activities which are favorable and avoids those which are unfavorable. For example, he avoids ahangrahopasana,

Do you know the meaning of ahangrahopasana?

Sripad Giriraja Maharaja: To worship oneself as God.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: This is not the meaning here. It means to think that "I am Lalita," "I am Visakha," "I am Citra," or "I am Rupa Manjari." Sahajiya babajis meditate that "I am Lalita sakhi," rather than thinking, "I am Lalita dasi." This ahangrahopasana, considering oneself to be non-different from the object of worship, is very dangerous; be careful to escape from this.

Another unfavorable practice is mudras. Do you know the meaning of mudra?

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: All the unimportant things in relation to arcana and puja.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We do not hold kusa grass in our hand while taking sankalpa (a vow), nor do we adopt nyasa (hand-movements along with the recitation of mantras as one touches the various parts of ones own hand or body, or the various parts of the body of the Deity). We do not do Dvaraka-dhyana (meditation on Dvaraka-lila) or Rukmini and mahisi-puja (worship of the queens of Dvaraka), even though these are included within the sixty-four limbs of bhakti.

Then, regarding the worship of Ramacandra – be careful; this is for others, not for us. Even though Rama is Krsna, we should be very careful in this regard. We can offer obeisances, saying, "O Krsna! You have manifested such a beautiful form as Rama, in which You are performing many wonderful pastimes." [When such a devotee worships Rama on His appearance day, he does so with this mood. -ed] We will not address Him as Rama, but as Krsna, and we will not worship that form of Rama. Worship (puja) of Dvarakadhisa-Krsna is better than worship of Rama, but that has also been warned against.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What about Nrsimhadeva?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We can do pranama to Nrsimhadeva as the protector of bhakti. [Such a devotee worships Him on His appearance day with this mood. -ed]

Sastra presents various rules and regulations, instructing that such worship be performed; but these are for ordinary persons, for the general public, not for those sadhakas who are specifically going to serve Srimati Radhika. Raganuga means 'to serve Radhika, with Krsna,' so we should be aikantiki, single-pointed. Our guru-parampara has established so many Deities for the general public, which are not meant for those engaged in aikantiki-bhakti, one-pointed worship.

Perform your worship very carefully, in such a way that no one will think that you are against Rama or Dvarakadhisa. Others should worship them, and you should execute all your bhakti activities with greed.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: There is that verse in the Bhagavad-gita which states, "Do not disrupt the minds..."

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:

na buddhi-bhedam janayed
ajnanam karma-sanginam
jonayet sarva-karmani
vidvan yuktah samacaran

["So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities [for the gradual development of Krsna consciousness." (Bhagavad-gita 3.26)]

So, even though it is written in the bhakti-sastras that one should perform these particular practices, a raganuga devotee will not do so. Sastra says one should not commit any offence by neglecting any of the limbs of bhakti. Sastra says that one should not do avajna...

Sripad Giriraja Maharaja: Disobedience

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: One should not be disobedient to any limb of bhakti, yet, there is something to understand in this connection: Those practices which are not favorable in raganuga are not to be done.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that there may be a time when a person who is following this principle of raganuga comes to a temple of Satyabhama, Rukmini, Ramacandra, or some other Deity, and by chance he may be obliged to worship them. However, even if he does not do so, he incurs no offense. For a general person it would be an offense to avoid such worship, but in the case of a person with genuine greed, he is not avoiding this worship in a mood that would be considered offensive.

Let us take the example of Hanuman. Garuda told Hanuman, "Your worshipful Deity is calling you. Your worshipful Sri Krsna wants you to come and take His darsana."

Hanuman replied, "My health is so bad. I am sick. I cannot go. I am seriously ill."

Garuda repeated, "Krsna is calling you."

Hanuman replied, "I know, but I am so tired that I cannot do anything."

Garuda tried to take him by force, but Hanuman flicked Garuda with his tail, throwing him with such tremendous force that he at once landed near the palace of Krsna in Dvaraka.

Krsna told Garuda, "Go again, and this time tell him that Rama is calling him."

Garuda returned to Hanuman and told him, "Your worshipful Deity, Rama, is calling you."

Hanuman immediately became very joyful and said, "I will just take my bath, and as soon as I put on tilaka, I am coming. Please go ahead and tell Rama that I am coming right away."

Garuda said, "I will go very quickly, as quickly as the mind. So please come with me and ride on my back."

Hanuman said, "No, there is no need. I am coming just now. You can go ahead."

In the meantime, as Garuda reached half-way to Rama, flying so fast, he saw Hanuman coming back, jumping back, from having just seen Rama. Hanuman had already seen Krsna in the form of Rama. He had already spoken with Him and paid his respects. He was now returning, while Garuda was only half-way there.

Thus, even if we are not following the various limbs of the nine-fold practices of bhakti, namely padasevanam (parikrama of the Lord's pastime places), arcanam (temple worship), vandanam (offering prayers), dasyam (carrying out His order), sakhyam (becoming His friend), and so on, if we have that root bhava, this 'neglect' is not an offense. That root bhava will fill up all the gaps in the form of the missing practices.

sruti smrti puranadi pancaratra vidhim vina
aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate

["Devotional service to Bhagavan that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanisads, Puranas, Narada-Pancaratra, etc., is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society."]

Do you know this sloka? This is a very important sloka from Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.101). The purport is that if one is engaged in the exclusive worship of Krsna (aikantiki hari-bhakti) but he is not following the instructions of sastras like the Srutis, Smrtis, Pancaratra, and Puranas, there will be some disturbance (utpatha).

For a person with genuine greed to serve Radha and Krsna, for a person truly established in this root bhakti, that alone is sufficient. If that person does not execute whatever limbs of bhakti are unfavorable for advancement in raganuga, even though sastra instructs that all the limbs of bhakti should be observed, there is no chance of committing an offense.

One important thing to note in this connection: It is a fact that those who have actual greed and exclusively follow the principles of raganuga-bhakti will attain the service of Radha and Krsna in gopi-bhava. But Srila Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura tells us: It is sometimes said that if a sadhaka has an ambition, or greed, to serve Sri Sri Radha and Krsna with raga, and he is engaged only in the hearing, chanting, and remembering (sravanam kirtanam visnu smaranam) of vaidhi-bhakti, he will attain Dvaraka-bhava and become a maidservant of Rukmini and Satyabhama.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: If a person has...what?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It is a question, a supposition: Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has written, "If someone says..."

He writes that it is also sometimes said that if a sadhaka has greed and performs vaidhi-bhakti plus raganuga-bhakti, he will become a maid-servant of the queens (mahisis) of Mathura.

He says that these conceptions are not correct. Why not correct? The 'queen' of Mathura is Kubja [*See Endnote 1] and the queens of Dvaraka are Rukmini, Satyabhama, and others like them. It is not correct to say that a person performing vaidhi-bhakti receives the service of the queens of Dvaraka, whereas a person with greed who performs both vaidhi-bhakti and raganuga-bhakti will have the maid-service of Kubja.

Kubja's prema is not actually proper, and therefore it is naturally less than that of the queens of Dvaraka. The queens of Dvaraka are so much superior to Kubja.

Vaidhi plus raganuga is superior to vaidhi alone; do you understand? It is against the principles of bhakti that a person performing vaidhi-bhakti plus raganuga-bhakti would receive the inferior service of Kubja, whereas the performance of vaidhi-bhakti would yield more than that.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Maybe Candravali's service?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: No. It has been written in Gopala Campu that Rukmini's marriage was performed in Mathura, and therefore some persons say that Rukmini must be present there as Krsna's queen. But this is against our Vaisnava principles.

It is against our Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy to say that by following vaidhi-bhakti one will receive the same award as one who is engaged in vaidhi mixed with raganuga. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti states that the idea of Rukmini's marriage in Mathura is against sastra, and has been told only in Gopala Campu. Actually, when Gopal Campu says 'Mathura,' it means 'Dvaraka,'

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Because they (Mathura and Dvaraka) are more or less the same?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: The same.

From our study of Srimad-Bhagavatam and all other authentic bhakti scriptures, we know that the idea of Rukmini's marriage in Mathura is not authentic. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura will explain this later on, but he is mentioning it now in order to make this point clear.

Which limbs are practiced in raganuga-bhakti? Which are essential and which are disregarded? To answer this, Srila Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura has described five categories of devotional practices for a person with genuine greed:

1. Abhista-bhava-mayi: Absorption in one's siddha-bhava; the mood of a manjari.
2. Abhista-bhava-sambandhi: Those practices related to one's cherished mood. Such practices surely deliver the desired goal.
3. Abhista-bhava-anukula: Those practices which are favorable to one's cherished mood.
4. Abhista-bhava-avirudha: Those practices which are neutral, not unfavorable, not opposed.
5. Abhista-bhava-virudha: Those practices which are detrimental.

The first is abhista-bhava-mayi. Always thinking about one's siddha bhava; the bhava of a manjari. This will never be changed.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What is the meaning of abhista?

Sripad Madhava Maharaja: The object of desire.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Abhista refers to what we want. Istha means 'what we want,' and abhi means 'surely.' Absorption in this mood will surely give us the attainment of our cherished goal.

Then comes abhista-bhava sambhandi, and after that, abhista-bhava anukula. Do you know the meaning of anukula?

Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Favorable.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes. Also, we should adopt whatever practices are not unfavorable (abhista-aviruddha bhava), and those practices that are abhista-bhava viruddha, unfavorable, we should avoid. If a practice is favorable we should accept it, and those practices that are neither favorable nor unfavorable (abhista-aviruddha bhava) can be accepted or rejected according to...

Burijana dasa: Practicality.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: According to the atmosphere.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura will now further explain the five aspects of raganuga-bhakti.

Abhista-bhava-mayi: Whatever practices we execute at the time of our sadhana (the practice executed to attain our goal) will be the same at the time of sadhya (the goal of life, the stage of siddhi, perfection). Sadhakas remember Krsna, Govinda, now, at the time of sadhana, and they will do so in their siddha-sarira (spiritual form as a gopi-manjari) as well. Both remembrances are the same, but one is unripe and the other will be ripe. The subject of the mood will never change, just as kirtana will never be changed, whether in the stage of sadhana or siddha. The sadhakas' absorption in their constitutional mood is called abhista-bhava-mayi.

They think of themselves as kisori-gopis (teenaged gopis) engaged in Radhika's service. In their meditation, they see themselves as cowherd maidens making very beautiful garlands and giving them to Rupa Manjari. In turn, Rupa Manjari gives those garlands to Lalita and Visakha, who place them on the necks of Radha and Krsna. This type of meditation is called asta-kaliya-seva, or asta-yami-seva. [*See Endnote 2]

With such thoughts in mind such sadhakas may utter the prayers of Srila Raghunatha dasa in Vilapa Kusumanjali, and in siddha-seva they will actually engage in such seva. So there is no change. It is only a question of being in the unripe or ripe stage. This is called abhista-bhava-mayi.

[*Endnote 1: Kubja was a prostitute from Mathura. By only one day's association with Sri Krsna, she also became transformed into a devotee.

Kubja was a hunchbacked woman who also wanted Krsna whose desire for Krsna was almost mundane, and so her love cannot be compared to the love of the gopis.

*Endnote 2: Lord Krsna's eternal pastimes (nitya-lila) in Vrndavana are called asta-kaliya-lila. The twenty-four-hour day of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna is divided into eight parts, beginning with nisanta-lila (pre-dawn pastimes), pratah-lila (morning pastimes), purvahna-lila (forenoon pastimes), madhyana-lila (midday pastimes), aparahna-lila (afternoon pastimes), sayama-lila (dusk pastimes), pradosa-lila (evening pastimes) and ratri-lila (nighttime pastimes).]

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