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[For the readers' ease – our writing will be in bold letters; the statements of the documentary will be in italics; the references in the form of quotes, articles and discourses given in the Appreciation to the documentary statements will be in normal text.]

On Raganuga-bhakti

Documentary statement 3

"Sarasvati Thakura's caution was:

 

matala hari-jane visaya range

pujala raga patha gaurava bange

'Always worship the path of raga-marga, spontaneous devotion. Do not rush ahead. Keep yourself a little distant and below. One who transgresses these instructions will be cast down.' That was the motto of Gaudiya Matha." 

Appreciation:

It was not mentioned by the documentary narrator, but it is stated on one of Sripad Narasingha Maharaja's websites that this statement is quoted from Srila Sridhara Maharaja's explanation of a poem by Srila Sarasvati Thakura.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja did not intend his statement to be the translation of the verse. His explanation given here focuses on the phrase "pujala raga-patha," indicating that the path of raga is worthy of our worship. The implication of this idea is that one can gain a genuine entrance into raga-marga only by mercy from above. There is no other way.

Such mercy will not descend upon those who proudly think themselves qualified, but upon those who, realizing their ineligibility, humbly worship raga-marga from a lower position.

It goes without saying that in practice it is impossible to worship something that you are absolutely forbidden to hear, speak or read about. So there must also be a preliminary stage before raga-marga proper wherein one is exposed, in a limited capacity, to the tenets of raga-marga. The rate of exposure is to be determined on an individual basis by one's self-realized Guru.

 

 

A. Words of Caution by Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami

 

Self-realized Gurus awaken the utmost respect for Radha-Krsna-lila in the hearts of aspiring devotees by their cautionary statements. At the same time, they create the atmosphere for a provisional stage of hearing the higher topics, under their guidance and in their service, so that their followers may continue in the right direction. By hearing under such guidance, one develops and increases one's qualification for hearing. The overall effect of cautionary statements along with a tentative exposure to lila katha is realized by the sincere disciple.

In this regard, there is an article written about Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, the sannyasa-guru of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. The article was written by Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami's disciple, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja who, after his Guru's entrance into nitya-lila in 1968, became the revered Acarya and President of his institution, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. Srila Vamana Maharaja writes:

 

"Srila Gurupadapadma was an ideal Guru, and was expert in krsna-tattva. He forbade followers with anarthas to remember asta-kaliya-lila, imagining their siddha-deha (spiritual form). He particularly attracted the attention of everyone by quoting Jagad-guru Srila Prabhupada’s instructive words: 'Smarana will take place by the influence of kirtana, and then it is possible to perform nirjana bhajana.'

"…One day a devotee was studying the commentaries on rasa-lila, bhramara-gita and so on, and Srila Gurudeva said, 'The qualification to hear topics such as rasa-lila will come when sri nama-kirtana has freed the heart from anarthas, and suddha-sattva has appeared there. Otherwise the transcendental pastimes of Sri Radha-Govinda will appear to be the activities of a worldly hero and heroine, and will only give rise to false ideas. The conception of rasa is only possible in the siddha deha, the perfect state. It is impossible to perceive srngara-rasa in a material body. Only a person who is free from the lower types of enjoyment and is in the stage of bhava is qualified to discuss sambhoga rasa.'"

In this same article, Srila Vamana Maharaja reveals that while Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami warns disciples regarding the eligibility required to approach proper, unadulterated meditation on the Lord's confidential pastimes, he also invites those entrenched in the material world, in a provisional way, to sing about them:

 

"His ever-fresh and transcendental talent has been illuminated in his songs such as Srila Prabhupada’s arati, Sri Tulasi-arati and Mangala-arati. Following the transcendental poet Sri Jayadeva’s Gita-govinda, Srila Guru Maharaja’s Mangala-arati gives an INTRODUCTION to the supreme and unequalled, sweet  transcendental pastimes of Sri Vraja-nava-yuva-dvandva, the eternally youthful Conjugal Couple of Vraja." (Published in the book "Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, His Life and Teachings," by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, in the section called "Srila Gurupadapadma’s Supramundane Character and Guru-nistha.")

 

Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami's Mangala-arati song is a meditation on Sri Sri Radha-Krsna's nisanta-lila, Their confidential, pre-dawn pastimes. The following excerpt from chapter seven of his biography explains one of the verses:

 

"This prayer causes the auspicious arati of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala to manifest in the heart of the raganuga-sadhaka. Losing external consciousness of his body and this world, he sees with his eternal form 'mayura sukadi sari kata pikaraja mangala jagara hetu kariche viraja' (verse 5). The time of dawn is quickly approaching. In some pleasure grove such as Sanketa, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala are still asleep, bound by each others’ embrace. Afraid that everyone will soon wake up, Vrnda-devi inspires the birds such as peacocks, male and female parrots, cuckoos, and papihas to awaken Sri Yugala. At that time, all the birds in the water and on land start calling in their sweet voices: 'mayura sukadi sari kata pikaraja mangala jagara hetu kariche viraja.' "

 

Great personalities know how to foster eligibility in their disciples. They gently and tentatively introduce us and invite us to that spiritual realm. This experience is afforded only by their association. Without their association, it cannot be gleaned from the pages of a book or any other media.

Srila Narayana Maharaja, a beloved disciple of Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, addresses the topic of eligibility in the following discourse.

 

B. Words of caution from Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

Srila Narayana Maharaja fully embraces the statement of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.33.39; quoted in Appreciation "F" of Documentary statement 1), which states that if a conditioned soul hears with faith from a self-realized soul about Lord Sri Krsna's pastimes with the gopis, he will attain prema-bhakti and become free from lust. Srila Narayana Maharaja also embraces the commentaries to this verse by his worshipful superiors like Srila Jiva Gosvami and especially Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.

At the same time, he also gives classes warning followers to be careful not to imitate advanced devotees. The following discourse was given in Australia on December 3, 2002. The devotees had just sung the kirtana Sri Madhurastakam, and then Srila Narayana Maharaja began his class:

 

"Srila Vallabhacarya's bhajana, Sri Madhurastakam, tells us that everything is sweet (madhura) about Krsna, the original Lord of sweetness. His Yamuna is madhura, His nikunjas (groves wherein Radha and Krsna perform their confidential amorous pastimes) are madhura, and His flute-playing and sidelong glances are also very sweet.

"Who is actually speaking about the sweetness of Krsna here? Is it Kamsa Maharaja, Aghasura, Bakasura, or Putana? Radhika herself is telling this; She alone is qualified to speak in this way. The history behind Her words is this:

"A sakhi once told Her, 'Krsna has left Vrndavana. He now has 16,108 queens, and millions of others also want to marry Him. Why do You have so much love and affection for that crooked Krsna? He has no love for You and no love for Vrndavana. Give Him up and try to forget Him forever.' Srimati Radhika replied, 'O sakhi, what you are saying is true, but I cannot forget Him. Everything about Him is so sweet.'

"Demons like Kamsa, Jarasandha, Duryodhana, Putana, Bakasura, Aghasura, Kesi, Canura, and Mustika were seeing that very same Krsna, but they thought of Him as a very cruel, powerful and dangerous enemy. They did not see or experience His sweetness.

"Do you know why I am speaking in this way? These demons are against Krsna. Therefore, instead of experiencing His sweetness, they simply experience their own enmity. Similarly, if we imagine that we are meditating on Krsna's asta-kaliya-lila and we have not reached the stage of rati, we will also not experience His sweetness. Rather, we will experience our own lusty and other material desires. In this connection, Kamsa and other demons represent our material desires. Krsna and the realization of the sweetness of Krsna is our goal, but do not try to 'jump up to the top of the tree.' Begin from the root of the tree and climb up from there; then you can realize your goal.

"One must follow the proper process of his bhakti from the beginning: 'In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krsna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life. In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. So, by the gradual process of devotional service, under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, one can attain the highest stage.' (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.4.15–16)

"You must also be able to follow these principles: 'When the seed of ecstatic emotion for Krsna fructifies, the following nine symptoms manifest in one’s behavior: forgiveness, concern that time should not be wasted, detachment, absence of false prestige, hope, eagerness, a taste for chanting the holy name of the Lord, attachment to descriptions of the transcendental qualities of the Lord, and affection for those places where the Lord resides—that is, a temple or a holy place like Vrndavana. These are all called anubhava, subordinate signs of ecstatic emotion. They are visible in a person in whose heart the seed of love of God has begun to fructify.' (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 23.18-19)

            "If you can follow these above-mentioned two slokas, then you can realize something of the goal – otherwise not. I know, and I see, that in Western and Eastern countries, here and there, many of the devotees want to enter asta-kaliya-lila (Sri Sri Radha-Krsna's eight-fold daily pastimes, from morning to next morning), although they do not even know what it is.

"We must be very careful. Our Gosvamis have warned us not to delve very much into this subject matter. This topic is truly our goal, but we can only realize it by following the proper process for advancement in bhakti. If a person has many worldly desires and is attached to women, wine and wealth, how can he properly meditate on asta-kaliya-lila? If one misunderstands his own identity and considers himself to be his body, he will not be able to properly think about asta-kaliya-lila.

            "Suppose a man or a woman tries to think about Radha-Krsna's pastimes at midnight, for example. Suppose they try to remember how all the gopis left their homes and met Krsna alone, and moreover how Krsna left all the gopis at night and took only Srimati Radhika in a kunja, where They played together. What will he or she think about it? Moreover, if such a man and woman meet together at night 'to discuss these topics', what will be the ultimate result of their 'love'? They are bound to feel lust, and thus they will not be able to control their minds. Their characters will be ruined and they will ruin their entire spiritual lives. Do you understand what I am saying? We should not even think about this topic.

"A young – or old – person may remember the following verse: 'O Govardhana! Please grant me a dwelling near your side so that I can easily witness and serve the youthful lovers Sri Radha-Krsna as They perform newer and newer secret, amorous lilas within your many caves where They become completely maddened from drinking prema. You are present and making everything possible.' (Srimad Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's Sri Govardhana-Vasa-Prarthana-Dasakam, verse 2)

            In this verse it is suggested that Radha and Krsna are meeting together and embracing. If a devotee who is not very advanced tries to meditate on this, a worldly conception is bound to come. Therefore, always be careful. Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, who is a maha-mahabhagavata, is so detached from material consideration and possessions that he does not even wear a dor-kaupin (loincloth), nor does he even have a bhajana kutira. He is totally renounced. For him, there is no difference between the most beautiful naked lady and a dry wooden tree. He has no interest at all in the affairs of men and women. Yet, that Sukadeva Gosvami offers reverential pranama to Rasa-lila and asta-kaliya-lila. Although service to that madhura Krsna like that of the gopis is our goal, we cannot pretend to be close to it at our stage.

"Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has written: 'Bhagavan Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna and His transcendental abode Sri Vrndavana-dhama are my worshipable objects. The most excellent method of worshipping Krsna is that adopted by the gopa-ramanis, the young wives of Vraja. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the flawless and most authoritative scripture, and Krsna-prema is the fifth and highest achievement of human life beyond dharma, artha, kama and moksa. It is thus known as pancama-purusartha or parama-purusartha. This is the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We have supreme regard for this conclusion. We have no inclination or respect for any other, cheating opinions.'

            "The highest examples of love and affection in service to Krsna are the gopis – but this does not apply to all the gopis. This highest service cannot even be performed by Srimati Lalita or Srimati Visakha or by others like them. Such service can only be executed by gopis like Sri Rupa-manjari and Sri Rati-manjari. Lalita and Visakha cannot enter a kunja in which Radha and Krsna are alone and engaged in Their most intimate amorous pastimes, but the manjaris can enter without hesitation and they can serve both Radha and Krsna there.

"We must be very careful. We should not discuss the confidential matters of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna before the general public. Be careful. Otherwise, ladies, especially, will be charmed by hearing from you – they will weep, they will run after you, and your character will be lost.

            Always try to follow the teachings of the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and try to follow Srila Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's Sri Manah-Siksa. Then try to gradually come to the stage of rati, at which time all of Krsna's pastimes will automatically manifest in a very pure form. Try to follow my instructions. Follow the proper procedures delineated by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, by our guru-varga, and especially by Sri Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.

"Sri Krsna-dvaipayana Vyasa and Srila Sukadeva Gosvami have somewhat explained about the goal of our life in the descriptions of the incarnations Matsya, and Kurma, and in descriptions of Varaha, Narasimha, Rama, Parasurama, Vamana, and Kalki. They have kept all the madhura-lila in the Tenth Canto, and there they have explained our aim and object fully.

            "Krsna Himself became each of the incarnations, like Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Balarama and Kalki. They are all Him; but He is playing the role of being Them. Sri Jayadeva Gosvami sings in his Sri Dasavatara-Stotram:

 

sri-jayadeva-kaver idam uditam udaram

srnu sukha-dam subha-dam bhava-saram

kesava dhrta-dasa-vidha-rupa! jaya jagadisa! Hare

 

["O Kesava! O You who assume these ten forms! O Jagadisa! O You who remove Your devotees' material desires! All glories to You! My humble supplication at Your lotus feet is that You please hear this Dasavatara-Stotra composed by the poet Jayadeva, because it describes the essence of Your incarnations and is most excellent, bestowing happiness and auspiciousness." (Sri Dasavatara-Stotram, verse 11)]

 

"In this connection, Kesava means Vrajendranandana Sri Krsna. That same Krsna is our goal. To serve Him like the gopis is certainly our goal; but be very careful, otherwise you will follow the path of Putana, Aghasura, Bakasura and Kamsa. You will be bound to be like them. Sri Sukadeva Gosvami began speaking about the topics of bhakti from its beginning stages, as well as the processes to achieve the various stages of bhakti.

"Then, in the Eleventh Canto, they discussed Sri Narada Muni's explaining to Vasudeva about the topics instructed by the Navayogendras to Maharaja Nimi. For example, the Navayogendras explained about the 24 gurus, including the air and the Earth. From the air one can learn detachment and from the Earth one can learn tolerance. In those texts, the processes to achieve the highest goal given in the Tenth Canto have also been explained.

"The same goal of life has been expressed in a still better way in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. In the very beginning of that sastra, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami explained our ultimate aim and object as follows:

 

anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau

samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam-bhakti-sriyam

harih purata-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandipitah

sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandanah

 

["May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.4)]

 

radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad

ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau

caitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam aptam

radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam

 

["The loving affairs of Sri Radha and Krsna are transcendental manifestations of the Lord’s internal pleasure-giving potency. Although Radha and Krsna are one in Their identity, They separated Themselves eternally. Now these two transcendental identities have again united, in the form of Sri Krsna Caitanya. I bow down to Him, who has manifested Himself with the sentiment and complexion of Srimati Radharani although He is Krsna Himself." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.5)]

 

sri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva-

svadyo yenadbhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah

saukhyam casya mad-anubhavatah kidrsam veti lobhat

tad-bhavadhyah samajani saci-garbha-sindhau harinduh

 

["Desiring to understand the glory of Radharani’s love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone relishes through Her love, and the happiness She feels when She realizes the sweetness of His love, the Supreme Lord Hari, richly endowed with Her emotions, appeared from the womb of Srimati Sacidevi, as the moon appeared from the ocean." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.6)]

 

"Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami especially explained the goal and process to achieve it in the fourth chapter of Adi-lila and in Sri Raya Ramananda Samvada. Also, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed the process to Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami, in chapters 19 and 20-23, respectively.

"Be careful about being at the bottom of the tree and, from there, jumping to the top. Do not go in the direction of fire; otherwise you will be burned.

"It is not sufficient merely to speak about the proper established philosophical truths (siddhanta) and processes of bhakti. Try to be actually realized in this. If you do not follow, you cannot advance in actual Krsna consciousness.

"Suppose a disciple is always glorifying Krsna and His sweet pastimes. That disciple is always chanting, but he does not have very much faith in his guru. Suppose he is chanting a hundred-thousand names daily and is always reading about the pastimes of Krsna and glorifying Him, but he is not following his Gurudeva's orders. He sometimes follows his Guru's orders and sometimes does not. Sometimes he follows his uncontrolled mind and not the process and teachings of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and Srila Prabhupada, and he does not behave as his Guru desires. What will be the result? He will not get perfection.

 

yasya deve para bhaktir

yatha deve tatha gurau

tasyaite kathita hy arthah

prakasante mahatmanah

 

["Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed." (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23).]

 

C. Srila Sarasvati Thakura wants his followers to truly enter raga-marga 

            This one line, "Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange," teaches us the authentic process of bhajana which is suitable for all aspiring sadhakas.

            Raga-patha, the path that leads to the transcendental service of the Divine Couple under the guidance of their eternal associates, is not something one can enter on the strength of one's own qualifications. If someone thinks that he is qualified, he will be stranded without help from above as a reward for his arrogance. Therefore "pujala" – the path is to be worshiped, "a little distant, and below."

            This is not a ban on raga-marga, but the guaranteed method of entry. By considering oneself unqualified and maintaining the utmost reverence for that path, one becomes a candidate for receiving the mercy of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna and Their devotees. In Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.309), Srila Rupa Gosvami explains:

 

krsna tad bhakta karunya matra labhaika hetuka
pusti margataya kaiscid iyam raganuga ucyate

"The mercy of Sri Krsna and His devotees is the only cause of attaining the path of raga. Therefore, some refer to raganuga-bhakti as pusti-marga, the path that depends on nourishment from above."

           

At the stage of raganuga-sadhana bhakti, there is some degree of revelation of one's eternal identity. Such revelation comes by mercy. Thus, one who tries to enter the path without endorsement from the higher realm will have to resort to the fruitless technique of fanciful imagination.

           

Gaurava-bhange – awe and reverence broken:

 

The mood of awe and reverence is considered incompatible with the prema of the residents of Goloka Vrndavana, so why "pujala raga-patha"?

            It is vital not to mix up the internal and external aspects of raganuga-sadhana-bhakti. Awe and reverence is an obstacle to internal service of the sadhaka, but when the sadhaka is in external consciousness, it remains an essential expression of his intense longing. As Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has illustrated repeatedly in the prayers of Sri Stavavali:

 

yadiccher avasam vraja-bhuvi sa RAGAm prati-janur

yuva dvandvam tac cet paricaritum arad abhilaseh

svarupam sri rupam sa ganam iha tasyagrajam api

sphutam premna nityam smara nama tada tvam srnu manah

 

"My dear mind, please hear me! If you are eager to gain residence in Vraja on the platform of RAGA, and if you desire to obtain the direct service of the Divine Youthful Couple, Sri Radha-Krsna, then with great love, BIRTH AFTER BIRTH BOW DOWN and remember Sri Svarupa Damodara, Sri Rupa Gosvami and his elder brother along with their other associates." (Sri Manah Siksa verse 3)

 

            The internal mood of awe and reverence (gaurava) will abate or break (bhanga) upon the influx of mercy from above – for those who deeply revere the path of raga.

            Is this instruction only for a neophyte? Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has recommended that a sadhaka in the stage of bhava should pray "asam aho carana renu jusam aham syam" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.47.61, quoted in Bhajana Rahasya Chapter 6 Bhava-bhakti, text 24) "Alas! It would be a matter of great fortune if I could take birth as a blade of grass, a creeper or shrub in Vrndavana, and thereby receive the foot-dust of the Vraja gopis."

            The conclusion is that making an external effort to avoid awe and reverence is not the process to overcome the internal obstacle of aisvarya-jnana. In external consciousness, an understanding of the opulence of Vraja will always remain, as illustrated by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami:

 

yat kincit trna gulma kikata mukham gosthe samastam hi tat

sarvanandadayam mukunda dayitam lilanukulam param

sastrair eve muhur muhuh sphutam idam nistankitam yacnyer

brahmader api sasprhena tad idam sarvam maya vandyate

 

"With great longing I WORSHIP all the living entities of Vraja, including the grass, bushes, flies and birds, which are filled with transcendental bliss. Their fortune is so great that it is aspired for by personalities such as Brahma and Uddhava." (Vraja-vilasa-stava 102)

 

Another salient point to consider is that it is not possible to worship a path about which one is forbidden to hear. Consequently, there must be a preliminary stage in which a person who is unqualified for raganuga-bhakti is exposed, in a limited capacity, to the katha of raga-marga. The rate of exposure is to be decided by Sri Guru in accordance with the eligibility of the disciple.

Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has written a translation and commentary of Srila Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta, called Nectar of Instruction. The eighth verse contains what Srila Rupa Gosvami calls the essence of all advice. In the purport Srila Prabhupada quotes his Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who confirms that essence – one should mold one's life in such a way that he can gradually come to the platform of raganuga-bhakti under the guidance of a ragatmika-bhakta:

 

"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has commented as follows upon this verse: 'One who has not yet developed interest in Krsna consciousness should give up all material motives and train his mind by following the progressive regulative principles, namely chanting and remembering Krsna and His name, form, quality, pastimes and so forth. In this way, after developing a taste for such things, one should try to live in Vrndavana and pass his time constantly remembering Krsna's name, fame, pastimes and qualities under the direction and protection of an expert devotee. This is the sum and substance of all instruction regarding the cultivation of devotional service.

"'In the neophyte stage one should always engage in hearing krsna-katha. This is called sravana-dasa, the stage of hearing. By constantly hearing the transcendental holy name of Krsna and hearing of His transcendental form, qualities and pastimes, one can attain to the stage of acceptance called varana-dasa. When one attains this stage, he becomes attached to the hearing of krsna-katha. When one is able to chant in ecstasy, he attains the stage of smaranavastha, the stage of remembering. Recollection, absorption, meditation, constant remembrance and trance are the five items of progressive krsna-smarana. At first, remembrance of Krsna may be interrupted at intervals, but later remembrance proceeds uninterrupted. When remembrance is uninterrupted, it becomes concentrated and is called meditation. When meditation expands and becomes constant, it is called anusmrti. By uninterrupted and unceasing anusmrti one enters the stage of samadhi, or spiritual trance. After smarana-dasa or samadhi has fully developed, the soul comes to understand his original constitutional position. At that time he can perfectly and clearly understand his eternal relationship with Krsna. That is called sampatti-dasa, the perfection of life.

"'Caitanya-caritamrta advises those who are neophytes to give up all kinds of motivated desires and simply engage in the regulative devotional service of the Lord according to the directions of scripture. In this way a neophyte can gradually develop attachment for Krsna's name, fame, form, qualities and so forth. When one has developed such attachment, he can spontaneously serve the lotus feet of Krsna even without following the regulative principles.

"'This stage is called raga-bhakti or devotional service in spontaneous love. At that stage the devotee can follow in the footsteps of one of the eternal associates of Krsna in Vrndavana. This is called raganuga-bhakti. Raganuga-bhakti, or spontaneous devotional service, can be executed in the santa-rasa when one aspires to be like Krsna's cows or the stick or flute in the hand of Krsna, or the flowers around Krsna's neck. In the dasya-rasa one follows in the footsteps of servants like Citraka, Patraka or Raktaka. In the friendly sakhya-rasa one can become a friend like Baladeva, Sridama or Sudama. In the vatsalya-rasa, characterized by parental affection, one can become like Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda, and in the madhurya-rasa, characterized by conjugal love, one can become like Srimati Radharani or Her lady friends such as Lalita and Her serving maids (manjaris) like Rupa and Rati. This is the essence of all instruction in the matter of devotional service.'" (Nectar of Instruction, Purport verse 8)

 

            The following is an excerpt from chapter 14 (called Krsna-prema) of the book Sri Caitanya's Teachings, which is a collection of articles by Srila Sarasvati Thakura: 

 

"The truth is that there is a real plane for the wholesome exercise of the amorous disposition that is part and parcel of our soul. It is necessary to realize the nature of this plane in order to be relieved of our harmful errors in regard to sexual relationship. Some sort of conviction must precede the actual adoption of any proposed method. The personality of Sri Radhika supplies the solution of this problem. Sri Rupa Gosvami has offered the detailed exposition of the subject in his monumental works…

"Madhura-rati is the highest form of prema, and an individual soul even in the stage of raganuga-bhakti in the wake of the ragatmika-bhakti considers herself as a maid, called manjari, under the guidance of the way of services rendered by the dearest Rupa-manjari and Rati-manjari and others who, in their turn, are subservient to Sri Lalita-Visakha-Citra-Indulekha-Campakalata-Rangadevi-Tungavidya-Sudevi – eight sakhis, who are the counter-parts of Sri Radhika. They are all engaged in the aprakrta services of their beloved Sri Krsna for His absolute pleasures and of none else. Their cent-percent satisfaction lies in the absolute pleasure of their beloved alone.

"Hence a sadhaka in raganuga bhakti may be a man or a woman in this physical world. He or she develops the aprakrta-body of a gopi, called a manjari, if his or her raga is awakened in the wake of the Vraja-gopis. The physical body in this world can never reach the feet of the Lord.

"[That Vraja-gopi,] more technically a manjari, has a particular name, conception of her form and beauty, her particular age, her costumes, her specialized service or seva, and her grove (or kunja) where she receives and serves the Divine Couple Sri Radha-Krsna. The individual in raganuga-bhakti meditates inwardly, looking upon himself or herself as a hand-maid of Sri Rupa-manjari, who is the personification of the rupa, i.e., the beauty of Sri Radha, which beauty is, in its turn, the projected absolute beauty of the absolute Lord Sri Krsna. Sri Rupa-manjari guides the individual hand-maid in the fold of Sri Lalita-sakhi, who in turn engages the hand-maid in the specialized services of Sri Radha-Krsna.

"Preach all over the world the teachings of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha with all your might. Our highest ambition in life has been to turn ourselves into the dust of their feet..."

 

D. An interview with Sripad Madhava Maharaja

            Sripad Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja is a disciple of Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. He is a siksa disciple of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, and has been his personal servant and secretary since 1979.  In the following interview of May 4, 2006, he was asked to share his understanding regarding statement 3 of the video/documentary:

 

[Question:] "The narrator of the documentary 'The Universal Teacher' quoted Srila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada's verse, 'matala hari-jane visaya range, pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange.' Then he gave the translation, 'Always worship the path of raga-marga, spontaneous devotion. Do not rush ahead. Keep yourself a little distant and below. One who transgresses these instructions will be cast down. That was the motto of Gaudiya Matha.'

            "Can you explain the verse further?"

 

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] "The English you quoted is not the translation. It is a statement by Prapujya-carana Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja. He did not mean for his statement to be the translation."

           

[Question:] "Then what is the translation?"

 

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] "'Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange.' Raga-patha means spontaneous devotion. What is spontaneous devotion?

 

iste svarasiki ragah

paramavistata bhavet

tan-mayi ya bhaved bhaktih

satra ragatmikodita

 

["When one becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his natural inclination to love is fully absorbed in thoughts of the Lord. That is called transcendental attachment, and devotional service according to that attachment is called ragatmika, or spontaneous devotional service." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.272, and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.150)]

 

            "Raga-bhakti is the devotion situated in the hearts of the eternal associates of Krsna in Vraja. Here, the word gaurava-bhange refers to the breaking (bhange means break) of the awe and reverence mood (gaurava) by raga-bhakti. The word matala means complete absorption. Such liberated devotees have only one visaya (object of love), and that is Sri Krsna. The word range refers to Sri Krsna's many pastimes. Hari-jana means those who are the kith and kin or intimate associates of Sri Hari or Krsna. They are absorbed in visaya-range. Sri Krsna is the only visaya (the supreme Enjoyer of His devotees' devotion), and all others are asraya (the repository or container of devotion to Him). These devotees are absorbed in His pastimes.

            "Because of the raga in their hearts, they have no awe and reverence mood. In this world they worship raga-patha; that is, the path of complete absorption in and attachment to Sri Krsna. By this they also teach us how to enter and then practice raganuga-bhakti.

"Why do we want to worship this path? We are now aspiring sadhaka-jivas, and our ultimate object is to attain raga-bhakti. For that we have to go step by step. By following the correct process we will gradually enter raganuga-bhakti, and then we will attain raga-bhakti."

 

 

E. Translation of the beautiful verse

 

matala hari-jane visaya range

pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange

           

Sometimes this Bengali verse is found with the words "visaya range"; and sometimes, as in the inscription on the wall of the Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha, with "kirtana range." In either case, the deep import is the same.

           

With "visaya range":

"The servants of Hari revel in satisfying His transcendental desires.

They worship the path of spontaneous devotion, whereby awe and reverence is overthrown."


            Internally the hari-janas are absorbed in their pastimes with Sri Krsna, and externally they teach us by their example how to worship the path of raga. Raga means spontaneous devotion, the devotion of Sri Krsna's (Hari's) friends, parents and beloveds.

            Krsna is the only visaya, the only enjoyer. As the enjoyer He has unlimited transcendental desires. These desires are fulfilled by His associates, the hari-janas, who are asraya. The hari-janas revel in fulfilling His desires. They are maddened with the ambition to fulfil His desires.

Srila Narayana Maharaja explains that this verse applies to the liberated associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this world, who have come as raganuga-bhaktas. Sriman Mahaprabhu appeared in this world along with His associates. This verse refers to His associates who were with Him during His time, as well as to all those who appeared after Him.

 

         With "kirtana range":

"The servants of Hari revel in the chanting of the Holy Name.
They worship the path of spontaneous devotion, whereby awe and reverence is overthrown."

 F. The real existence of Bhaktisiddhanta

 

            Some devotees say this verse originally manifested from the lips of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and some say it manifested from the lips of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja. Either way, according to Srila Sridhara Maharaja himself, this verse is the heart of Srila Sarasvati Thakura.

            One of Sripad Narasingha Maharaja's websites has a link to a very short, fifteen second, audio statement of Srila Sridhara Maharaja referring to this verse.  We therefore had the good fortune to hear his recorded voice: "Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange. This is Bhaktisiddhanta vani. The real existence of Bhaktisiddhanta [bhakti-siddhanta] is there."  

 

 

 

 

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