Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Due to unclear verse translations and purports in Srila Prabhupada’s books like “Nectar of Devotion” and “Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita”, many ISKCON members misunderstand and misrepresent the authorized practice of raganuga-bhakti sadhana.
This post will cite these confusing translations and purports, and give clear explanations of the subject of raganuga-bhakti.
RAGANUGA BHAKTI DOES NOT FOLLOW VAIDHI
It is not a fact that raganuga bhakti comes after the stage of vaidhi sadhana-bhakti.
First of all, what is sadhana bhakti? Sri Rupa Goswamipada says (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.2, 5): “The goal of bhava bhakti can be attained through practice with the senses (krti). This is called sadhana.” “There are two kinds of sadhana; vaidhi and raganuga.”
Nowhere it is said that raganuga bhakti is a post graduate state of vaidhi bhakti.
Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.22.108) confirms this: “There are two kinds of devotion in practice. One is called vaidhi bhakti and the other raganuga bhakti.”
As one desires to approach Bhagavan Sri Krishna, so Krishna will approach the aspirant: ye -yatha -mam -prapadyante -tams -tathaiva -bhajamyahan (Bhagavad-Gita 4.11). Reflecting on these famous words of the Bhagavad Gita, one can easily understand that varieties of goals are attained in accordance with one’s desires. It is not that all paths lead to the same goal.
Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.3.7), says, “The paths of vaidhi and raganuga are known to be separate from each other. Engagement in these two forms of practice certainly awakens two distinct varieties of bhava.”
This automatically shows that raganuga bhakti is not per se a post graduate phase of vaidhi bhakti. In the realm of Vraja, the sweet and intimate human-like pastimes of Krishna prevail. Only in such an atmosphere love can attain its pinnacle. Love which is filled with awareness of Krishna’s almighty is of an inferior quality.
As stated by Sri Krishna Himself (Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita 1.3.15-16): “Everyone in this world worships Me through vidhi-bhakti. Vidhi-bhakti has no power for attaining the feelings of Vraja. The devotion of the world is mixed with knowledge of My divine prowess. But I do not delight in love diluted with prowess.”
It is thus evident that there is a need to deeply reflect on the nature and practice of raganuga-bhakti for anyone who desires to perfect one’s loving faculty in relationship with Krishna. There is no other means for tasting the ambrosial sweetness of the Vraja-pastimes of Krishna!
There is no guarantee that someone who practices vaidhi bhakti is automatically promoted to raganuga bhakti, rather Sri Rupa Goswamipada says in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.309): “Only by the grace of Krishna and His devotees this path of raganuga bhakti is attained.”
Sri Rupa Goswamipada says in Padyavali:
“Ten million lifetimes of following regulative principles [vaidhi-bhakti] not give you taste for Krishna-bhakti. The only price is greed! Purchase it wherever it is available!”
It is on sale where the rasika bhaktas speak about Radha-Krishna.
Visvanatha Cakravartipada teaches in Raga Vartma Candrika (1.5): “A candidate never considers whether one is qualified for this path of raganuga bhakti or not.”
DOING BHAJANA IS NOT SELFISH OR ACTING ONLY FOR ONE’S OWN LIBERATION
Srila Prabhupada says, “The word jiva-himsa (envy of other living entities) actually means stopping the preaching of Krishna consciousness. If one stops preaching and simply sits down in a solitary place, he is engaging in material activity.” (Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.12.135 purport)
Srila Prabhupada said: “Bhajananandi is interested for his own welfare…therefore he does not go for preaching work. Sva-vimukti-kama: ‘Let me look after my own affairs.’” (Lecture n S.B.7.9.44, New Delhi, March 26, 1976.)
Comment: To understand what is selfish, one first must understand what is the self. Srimad Bhagavatam (10.14.55) says: “Krishna is the Self of the selves.” In other words, bhajana is done to please Krishna, who is our highest Self, and not to reach personal salvation.
To think that doing bhajana is selfish is superimposing social morality and a material conception of what is the self on absolute surrender to the Objective Absolute. Sri Krishna says, bhajatam -priti -purvakam, “Devotees do My bhajan with love.” (Bhagavad Gita 10.10)
In Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.16.64), Mahaprabhu said, “Do not come to Jagannatha Puri every year, but stay in Bengal and fulfill My desire.”
Srila Prabhupada purport: “In other words, it is a greater fortune to carry out Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s order than to satisfy one’s senses by seeing Lord Jagannatha. Preaching Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s cult throughout the world is more important than staying in Vrindavan or Jagannaha Puri for one’s own personal satisfaction.
Clarification: Mahaprabhu did not say in this verse or any other verse that it is sense gratification to see Lord Jagannatha or one stays in the dhama for personal satisfaction. He just said, ‘Don’t come every year to Nilacala. Stay in Bengal and make My desire there a success.’
PREACHING IS NOT A GREATER SERVICE TO KRISHNA THAN CONTEMPLATION (BHAJAN).
This verse from Bhagavad Gita (18.68) is often quoted to prove that one preaching is the dearest to Krishna: “For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.”
Clarification: This verse contains the words mad bhaktesu, proving that this verse describes having Krishna-katha amongst the devotees, not disturbing of the minds of the ignorant, which is rejected earlier in the Bhagavad Gita (3.29): “Those bewildered by the senses made of prakrti are attached to the actions of the body and senses. But one who knows the atma should not disturb the foolish persons who do not know atma.”
Most people who do bhajan also do some preaching as well anyway, it is rarely purely this way or the other. The fact that bhajan is higher than preaching makes it also less accessible. In other words, preaching is an easier practice than bhajan and therefore it is a more advisable service for the restless and passionate souls of the age of Kali. However, everything is spoiled if the “preacher” claims to be superior to other Vaishnavas by doing this.
Preaching is certainly a great service, but still Sri Ramananda Raya said to Mahaprabhu in Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.8.280): “Your own confidential activity is to relish prema; filling the universe with prema is a concomitant act for You.”
Tamal Krishna told Prabhupāda that one of the symptoms he has noticed about these people [who are reading and discussing Radha-Krishna lila in Vrindavan] is that they don’t go out on sankirtana.
As soon as he said that Srila Prabhupada cut in: “Then everything will be finished. Preaching will be finished.” (Los Angeles, June, 1976)
Comment: From this it is clear that the policy of blocking raganuga bhajan in ISKCON is just meant to serve the preaching organization. Precious manpower will be lost if devotees start doing bhajan. They will not be productive anymore.
RAGANUGA BHAKTI DOES NOT HAMPER A PREACHING MISSION
(Commenting on the last quote above (Los Angeles, June, 1976)
A raganuga sadhaka’s value is a matter of attitude, of quality, not of quantity. Vaidhi bhaktas worship Krishna in awe and reverence and raganuga bhaktas worship Krishna in intimate love.
Raganuga sadhakas are also preaching worldwide, printing and distributing books and lecturing on Krishna consciousness.
The outreach practices of preaching, traveling and training disciples can easily go on side by side with raganuga-bhakti sadhana.
Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.5) says that raganuga is a sadhana, simple!
DOES ONE HAVE TO CROSS DIFFERENT PLANES LIKE GOPA KUMAR IN BRHAD BHAGAVATMRITA and in CHAITANYA CARITAMRITA?
“As one waters the devotional creeper, the seed sprouts, and it gradually grows until it penetrates the walls of this material universe and goes beyond the Viraja River, which divides the spiritual world and the material world. It attains brahma-loka, and then reaches the paravyoma, the spiritual sky, and then reaches the foremost spiritual planet Goloka Vrndavana. Rooted in the heart and watered by sravana-kirtana, the bhakti creeper grows until it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna in the topmost region of the spiritual sky.” (Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita 2.19.153-4)
Clarification: This going through all the planes is an objective observation, not a personal course, “Higher than this plane is that plane etc.” The Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu says nothing about each sadhaka having to go through all these phases. This is a description of the ascension of bhakti, not the journey of the individual soul. It is just a general map to show how high Vraja-bhakti goes and IS.
Is there devotee who first wants to go to heaven, then wants to do yoga, then become a cowherd boy, and then a gopi?
Shastras says there is one direct attainment for each path:
“Through vaidhi-bhakti, one will attain the form of an associate in Vaikuṇṭha. Through raga-bhakti, one will attain Krishna Himself in Vraja.” (Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita 2.24.87) [content courtesy Sri Advaita Dasji]
Raganuga-bhakti ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!