Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Mathura, India: 1991
Discussions with the ISKCON GBC on Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's book, Raga-Vartma-Candrika [Part 7] (parts 1,2,3,4,5,6, part 7 audio)

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: 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 their sadhana, and they will do so in 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 1:] With such thoughts in mind such sadhakas may utter the prayers of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami in Vilapa Kusumanjali, and in siddha-seva (service rendered at the time of perfection, performed with one's spiritual body) 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.
Now let us consider the second principle, abhista-bhava-sambandhi.

Everything has two causes: upadhana-karana [the eminent, or prominent, or ingredient cause] and nimitta-karana , Do you know the meaning of these two words?

Dhanurdhara Svami: The material cause...

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: And the efficient cause. The material and efficient causes.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: What is the meaning of efficient?

Dhanurdhara Svami: The doer and the...

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Let us take the example of an earthen pot. The earth, both raw and baked, is upadhana; and the man himself is nimitta.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: The potter.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We can also take the example of the thread, or other materials. They are upadhana-karana.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: The immediate cause?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: In the matter of cosmic creation, Karanadakasaiyi-Visnu is nimitta-karana, and Advaita Acarya is upadhana-karana. Do you understand? *[See endnote 2].

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: We were recently teaching this in Brahma-Samhita class.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: The creation of the material world has two causes – nimitta and upadhana – of which upadhana is more important. The ingredient, or eminent, cause (upadana) is prakrti, and the instrumental cause (nimitta) is Karanadakasayi-Visnu.
Here in Raga-vartma-candrika, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura tells us about the upadhana-karana (eminent, or prominent, cause) of greed. One eminent cause is sravanam, hearing from our diksa- or siksa-gurudeva about Krsna: that Krsna who is a beautiful teenage youth, who looks extremely sweet as He holds His flute to His lips, and who inspires gopi-prema. Guru will also tell us about those particular gopis, namely Rupa Manjari and all of Srimati Radhika's other manjaris, who are the asraya (abode) of that gopi-prema for which we aspire. We should remember them and talk about all of their activities, and we should also go to all the places of their pastimes.

Burijana dasa: Lila-sthana.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We should go to the lila-sthana, the places of their pastimes, such as Radha-kunda, Syama-kunda, Giriraja Govardhana, Vrndavana, and Vamsivata. Such devotional services are upadhana-karana, essential practices, which will hastily bring us to our goal.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: And nimitta?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: I was just about to say; some practices are nimitta-karana, such as putting on tilaka, wearing...

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Kanti-mala.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Wearing kanti-mala, and taking sannyasa and wearing saffron cloth. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is gradually clarifying the subject matter.
Some practices are upakarak. Do you know the meaning of upakarak?

Burijana dasa: Primary. Is 'primary' the proper translation for this word? Primary means 'completely necessary.'

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Upakarak means that if you engage in those practices your bhakti will progress, you will gain; and if you don't, you will be the loser. Such practices include reading Srimad-Bhagavatam and similar Vaisnava literature. [Upakarak means 'beneficial,' and therefore it refers to both upadhana-karana, and nimitta-karana practices.]
Gurupadasraya (taking shelter of the bona fide guru), mantra-japa (chanting mantras), dhyana (meditation), hearing and remembering – these practices are bhava-sambandhi upadhana-karana.
These practices are necessary, and in all such practices it is essential to always keep in the center the root bhava for which we have greed – dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhurya. In sadhana (the stage of practice), that bhava (abhista-bhava) is unripe, and in the siddha stage (the stage of perfection) it is ripe.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Still, the idea of upadhana and nimitta is not clear yet.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: First is bhava-mayi, actual greed for that particular mood: manjari-bhava. Second is bhava-sambandhi, which is upadhana-karana – engaging in those essential practices which quickly give that mood. Without gurupadasraya, one cannot attain this greed. Hearing from Sri Guru and serving him are essential practices, and are therefore called upadhana-karana bhava-sambandhi.
To remember the gopala-mantra, kama-gayatri, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mantra are all bhava-sambandhi. When remembering klim gauraya svaha, will we utter words only? Something should come in our hearts; that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, and that His kindness is causeless. He is always in a mood to give krsna-prema through His mantra, klim gauraya svaha. To that Gauranga, in order to attain His service, we offer ourselves by the word svaha. We are therefore advised to chant all these gayatri mantras given to us by guru – three times every day. This is also upadhana-karana. We must do this.

nijabhista krsna-prestha pacheta' lagiya
nirantara seva kare antarmana hana

"Actually, the inhabitants of Vrndavana are very dear to Krsna. If one wants to engage in spontaneous loving service, he must follow the inhabitants of Vrndavana and constantly engage in devotional service within his mind." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.159)

Following one of Krsna's beloved associates according to his inner desire, the sadhaka always chants the maha-mantra. This is upadhana-karana – not only chanting, but remembering the qualities of krsna-nama. What qualities? The qualities of Rama [meaning Radha-Ramana] in "Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare." In "Hare Krsna," "Hare" is Srimati Radhika. Harati kunje itik hare krsnam harati. This means that Krsna is attractive to all, but Srimati Radhika attracts Krsna and enchants Him in the nikunja. She is therefore Madana-mohana Mohini, the enchantress of the enchanter of Cupid. Meditating in this way, we chant harinama.

The Hare Krsna maha-mantra is a siddha-mantra, and therefore no anusthana (ceremony) of purascarana (preliminary purificatory procedures) need be performed along with its utterance. Chanting the mantra in this way is a practice of bhava-sambandhi (that practice which quickly gives its performer his cherished goal), and therefore such chanting is upadhana-karana (essential practice). Nimitta-karana practices are not bhava-sambandhi.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains about the asta-dasaksya (eighteen-syllable) mantra, and the dasaksya (ten-syllable) mantra that Caitanya Mahaprabhu received from his Gurudeva. With the addition of klim krsnaya govindaya, the mantra is asta-dasaksya, and with only gopijana vallabhaya svaha it is a dasaksya mantra.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: The last thing you just said – can you clarify that further please?

Burijana dasa: The mantra that Mahaprabhu received?

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What does dasaksya mean?

Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja: Gopijana-vallabhaya svaha is the dasakshya mantra.

Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Ten-syllable mantra.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Without klim.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What is the mantra?

Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja: Your Guru has given this to you, and I have also given it: gopijana-vallabhaya svaha.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: But no klim.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Klim is not counted within the ten syllables; it is separate. It is the bija-mantra; The bija itself is a mantra, and it has combined with the other syllables.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What happened to krsnaya govindaya?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: With the addition of these two words and klim, the mantra becomes an eighteen-syllable mantra.
Some persons say that there are twenty-four syllables in the kama-gayatri, and others say there are twenty-six, but when Radhika gave the correct information in the svapna (dream)...

Burijana dasa: In a dream to Visvanatha Cakravati...

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then he knew...

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Twenty-four and a half syllables. He knew what that half syllable is.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: These mantras are also bhava-sambandhi, and hearing and telling about Krsna with His dear ones are also bhava-sambandhi.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that in raganuga there are two primary activities – smarana (remembering) and kirtana (chanting). In this regard which is superior, kirtana or smarana?

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Smarana.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You say that smarana is superior?

Burijana dasa: Brhat-Bhagavatamrta clearly says that kirtana is superior.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that smarana seems to be superior., but for Kali-yuga it has been declared, "Hare nama, hare nama, hare nama eva kevalam." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has come only for kirtana, and those who engage in kirtana-yajna (harinama sankirtana) are called sumedhasah.

krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair
yajanti hi su-medhasah

"In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.5.32)
In this sloka, the word sumedhasa means very....

Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Intelligent.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Here, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that what Caitanya Mahaprabhu has decided is the decided fact. Therefore smarana is not superior; rather it is in the anugatya of kirtana (it follows kirtana).
Srila Sanatana Gosvami has explained in his Brhat-Bhagavatamrta why this is so; but sahajiya babajis do not follow his idea. He has especially written that smarana should be executed under the supervision of sankirtana. When a person is engaged in remembering the pastimes of Krsna, if there is any noise or if we would loudly chant sankirtana, that person's concentration would be interrupted. If that person is pure, even if we loudly chant kirtana, his silent meditation would not be disturbed.

On the other hand, even if a person's mind is very chancal...

Dhanurdhara Svami: Flickering.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Even if his mind is flickering, if he performs loud kirtana, then all his senses are bound to become silent. Therefore, chanting and remembering together is bhava-sambandhi.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura refers us to Srila Rupa Gosvami's book, Sri Ujjvala-Nilamani, which discusses the rsis who performed tapasya. Do you know the meaning of tapasya?

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami and Dhanurdhara Maharaja: Austerities.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We should not think that in this regard 'austerities' means surrounding oneself by fire in the summer, taking bath in very very cold water in the winter, not eating, taking a vow of silence, or accepting any other such bodily hardships. Here, 'austerities' refers to aradhana, worship. Sixty-thousand rsis performed aradhana by mind, and by the grace of Lord Ramacandra, all of them became gopis.

So these practices are all bhava-sambandhi.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: When you mentioned before that kirtana is superior to smaranam, does this kirtana mean japa (chanting softly on beads), or does it mean congregational chanting with many people doing kirtana together?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Which one is not important. The important thing is having greed, being in the anugatya (under the guidance) of a rasika Vaisnava, remembering the pastimes of Krsna while chanting by tongue, and being in Vrndavana by body or by mind. This type of kirtana is best.
If our Guruji is performing kirtana and we have participated in that, our kirtana will not be the same as his, because we are not equal to him. He is remembering the pastimes of Krsna and weeping, but we are not doing so. We are only singing along with him; our chanting is not the same.
Chanting may be of two types: vyakti-gata and the other is samasti-gata.

Dhanurdhara Svami: Individual and congregational.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, 'individual and congregational.' Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was performing kirtana 'individually,' alone; but when he was chanting with Caitanya Mahaprabhu's kirtana party, that chanting was not individual. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke with Raya Ramananda, their discussion was 'individual.'
Nimitta-karana practices include vratas (vows, religious observances), such as Ekadasi vrata and Janmastami vrata, and performing any austerity for Krsna – while having that greed.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: But why the comparison with upadhana and nimitta? Why is he choosing these two words – upadhana and nimitta – to explain the difference between these two groups?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Upadhana-karana practices must certainly be performed. If we do not perform nimitta-karana practices at any time, it is harmful, but not as harmful as the neglect of upadhana-karana practices.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: You gave the example that upadhana is the clay and nimitta may be the potter.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Without the potter, and without earth, nothing can be done; but the earth is especially crucial, and therefore upadhana is superior. Hearing the pastimes of Krsna and serving Gurudeva are upadhana-karana, and these other practices are secondary.

Burijana dasa: 'Primary and secondary' is the proper translation. One is supportive, or secondary. Nimitta means 'it supports,' and upadhana means 'the basis,' or 'the primary.'

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: That's what it means here; but when describing creation, those two words are not used.

Dhanurdhara Svami: It is the same, though.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It is not same, but similar.

Dhanurdhara Svami: One is the ingredient. Without the ingredient, you cannot cause anything; so it is more important.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: If anyone says that we should not observe Ekadasi – like Hit Hari-Vamsa – this is not right.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What do you mean?

Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja: We must observe Ekadasi and Janmastami, even though they are nimitta-karana, and even though they are not as important as the practices which quickly induce internal absorption. Ekadasi, Janmastami and similar observances, like placing tilaka marks on the body, are beneficial for remembering the main objective. They support the practices of bhava-sambandhi, which in turn leads to abhista-bhava-mayi.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Can you repeat that one more time please?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: First is abhista-bhava-mayi, and then bhava-sambandhi. The practices of bhava-sambandhi are superior to those of nimitta-karana. The bhava-sambandhi practices are the mula-karana, the main cause, in the development of abhista-bhava-mayi, and Ekadasi, Janmastami etc. are secondary.

Dhanurdhara Svami: If the secondary practice is not present, still the primary cause is sufficient?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Suppose someone gives stress on Ekadasi, Janmastami and Rama-navami, but that person is not hearing harikatha, chanting, and remembering; the injunction that Ekadasi is secondary is for him.

What is the harm in neglecting Ekadasi? For one who has greed, and is so engaged in bhava-mayi or bhava-sambandha that he is unaware of the day, there is no harm. Vamsidasa Babaji Maharaja is an example of this. He was observing Ekadasi for three or four days, for example, on Astami (the eighth day of the moon) and Navami (the ninth day of the moon). Then, when Ekadasi (the eleventh day of the moon) came, he was completely unaware of the day. Similarly, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami would be internally absorbed in remembering his services in the pastimes of Radha and Krsna for many days, and Ekadasi would go by at that time. Because these two maha-bhagavatas were performing raganuga-bhajana, there was no harm in their missing Ekadasi. However, if one misses Ekadasi when one is externally conscious, this would be very harmful for his bhakti.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What is the difference between bhava-mayi and bhava-sambandhi? What is the distinction?

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: I have told you all these things.

Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: I know, but I got confused on the point when you went into the differences between upadhana and nimitta, and how they refer to each one.

Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: First I explained abhista-bhava-mayi, which may be in an unripe or ripe stage. In the stage of sadhana it is the absorption that "We are gopis;" and in the siddha stage we will actually become gopis. In both cases, it is abhista-bhava-mayi.
Next is bhava-sambandhi upadhana-karana. These are activities we must perform, like hearing and remembering. These practices must not be neglected for any reason. Regarding nimitta-karana practices, if we cannot follow them under certain circumstances, it is not harmful; therefore it is considered secondary.
Vamsidasa Babaji Maharaja or Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami were fully absorbed in Krsna-lila for so many days, and Ekadasi came and left during that time of absorption. For them there was no harm. On the other hand, if there are occasions that we do not follow it, this is harmful for us. That is why nimitta-karana is called 'secondary.'
[to be continued...]

[*Endnote 1: 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). From Srila Narayana Maharaja's lecture in Navadvipa, India: March 17, 2005)]
*Endnote 2: "Lord Visnu Himself is the efficient (nimitta) cause of the material world, and Narayana in the form of Sri Advaita is the material cause (upadana)." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 6.16)

"Just as the original cause of an earthen pot is the potter, so the creator of the material world is the first Purusa incarnation (Karanadakasayi-Visnu)." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 5.63)

"Lord Advaita Acarya is the incarnation of Maha-Visnu, whose main function is to create the cosmic world through the actions of maya." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 6.4)

"He (Advaita Acarya) helps in the pastimes of the Purusa, with whose material energy and by whose will He creates innumerable universes." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 6.11)]