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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!

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.

WHAT ABOUT SIDDHA PRANALI?

Srila Prabhupada says, “In this connection, we should be careful about the so-called siddha-pranali. The siddha-pranali process is followed by a class of men who are not very authorized and who have manufactured their own way of devotional service.”

Comment: Does this include Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whom Srila Prabhupada himself has made world-famous as an acarya? Bhaktivinoda personally took siddha-pranali from his guru, Sri Bipin Bihari Goswami, and described it in his books Hari-nama cintamani and Jaiva-dharma.

Srila Prabhupada says, “They imagine that they have become associates of the Lord simply by thinking of themselves like that.”

Clarification:  Yet, this is exactly what the acaryas say. Sri Jiva Goswamipada says in Bhakti Sandarbha 286, “Bhuta-shuddhi means that one meditates on one’s own desired siddha deha which is fit for serving Bhagavan Sri Krishna.”

Sri Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami says in Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.22.155-6): “Think of your own desired siddha deha as a sadhana.”

In that very same Nectar of Devotion, Sri Rupa Goswamipada says the same thing (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.295), plus its tikas by Sri Jiva Goswamipada and Visvanatha Cakravartipada.

Narottama Dasa Thakur says, “Whatever siddha deha one thinks of during one’s sadhana is what one attains in siddha stage.” (Prema Bhakti Candrika)

In Saranga-rangada tika of Krishna Karnamrita (3), Sri Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami says:

raganuga -marge -anutpanna -rati sadhaka -bhaktair -api -svepsita -siddha -deham -manasi -parikalpya

“On the raganuga-path even sadhaka bhaktas who have no bhava [rati] yet can think of one’s own desired siddha deha.” 

Srila Prabhupada says, “The so-called siddha-pranali process is followed by the prakrta-sahajiya, a pseudo sect of so-called Vaishnavas. In the opinion of Rupa Gosvami, such activities are simply disturbances to the standard way of devotional service.”

Comment: Where does Rupa Gosvami say this in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu?

Srila Prabhupada: “Sri Rupa Gosvami says that learned acaryas recommend that we follow the regulative principles even after the development of spontaneous love for Krishna.”

CLARIFICATION: Here Srila Prabhupada contradicts himself (see above): “These raganuga devotees do not follow the regulative principles of devotional service very strictly.”

In their tikas to Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.292), both Sri Jiva Goswamipada and Visvanatha Cakravartipada say: “When one has got even a slight feeling [kinchit anubhuti] for the sweet moods of Krishna and His devotees through hearing their descriptions in texts i.e Srimad Bhagavatam describing the ultimate spiritual goal, the raganuga sadhaka no longer waits for the injunctions of scripture or for logical reasons to do so, but simply takes up the raganuga devotional path. This is the characteristic of sacred greed, lobha.”

The words yat kinchit [slight, little] in their tikas prove that the initial lobha, sacred greed, to start raganuga-bhakti is not an all-consuming fire.

NO RULES IN RAGANUGA-BHAKTI?

In Nectar of Devotion, chapter 16 – “Eligibility for Spontaneous Devotional Service”, Srila Prabhupada says: “Persons desiring to follow in the footsteps of such eternal devotees of the Lord as the Vrsnis and Vrindavan denizens are called raganuga devotees, which means that they are trying to attain to the perfection of those devotees. These raganuga devotees do not follow the regulative principles of devotional service very strictly…”

Clarification: This has turned out to be a disastrous statement when preaching to a modern audience. People now think that raganuga bhakti means one need not follow the principles of chastity and restraint. Believe it or not, today there are some who preach that a life of illicit amorous relations, drugs and rock music is raganuga bhakti.

But Sri Rupa Goswamipada never said that raganuga bhakti means one need not follow the rules. Rather, Visvanatha Cakravartipada has written a book, ‘Raga Vartma Candrika’ specially to warn against such a conception.

He ends that book with: “Those who say that raganuga bhakti totally surpasses all scriptural injunctions in all respects have always caused disturbance, are causing disturbance and will cause disturbance.”

WHY ALWAYS GOPI-BHAVA?
“Why it has to be always gopi-bhava, why can’t one become a cowherd boy?”

Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita is the gist of the Gaudiya Vaishnava dharma, the ultimate statement, and it opens with this verse of Sri Rupa Goswamipada, stating the purpose of Sri Chaitanya’s advent:

“May Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is known as the son of Srimati Saci-devi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, Mahaprabhu has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no avatara has ever offered before: the elevated divine erotic flavor relished by Radha-Krishna [unnatojjvala-rasam]. (Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita 1.1.4)

Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (1.4.44-45) says: “But if we compare the sentiments in an impartial mood, we find that the conjugal sentiment is superior to all others in sweetness.

“Increasing love is experienced in various tastes, one above another. But that love which has the highest taste in the gradual succession of desire manifests itself in the form of conjugal love.”

The standard songs in the entire Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, including ISKCON, all point at gopi-bhava and madhura rasa upasana. The “Tulasi-arati” for instance:

ei -nivedana -dharo, sakhira -anugata -koro
seva -adhikara -diye -koro -nija -dasi

“O Tulsi-devi, I submit to you to please make me a follower of the sakhis, and make me your maidservant by giving me to right to serve you.”

And the Gurvastakam (6):

nikunja-yuno -rati-keli-siddhyai
ya -yalibhir -yuktir -apeksaniya
tatrati-daksyad -ati-vallabhasya
vande -guroh -sri-caranaravindam

“The spiritual master is very dear, because he is expert in assisting the gopis, who at different times make different tasteful arrangements for the perfection of Radha-Krishna’s amorous affairs within the groves of Vrindavan. I offer my most humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master. “

It should be noted that most of the acaryas in ISKCON’s parampara are all manjari maidservants of Radharani in the spiritual realm.

Furthermore, at diksha the Kama-Gayatri is given to all Gaudiya Vaishnava, indicating that Krishna needs to be worshipped as the transcendental Cupid of Vrindavan. How does this fit in with being a cowherd boy, parent or male servant of Krishna? There is also not a single Vaishnava community in the world which practices cowherdboy, parent, or servant rasa. [content courtesy Sri Advaita Dasji]

Raganuga-bhakti ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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.

FREEDOM FROM IMPURITY?

Srila Prabhupada’s Nectar of Devotion: “We must always remember, however, that such eagerness to follow in the footsteps of the denizens of Vraja is not possible unless one is freed from material contamination.  In following the regulative principles of devotional service, there is a stage called anartha-nivrtti, which means the disappearance of all material contamination. 

“Sometimes someone is found imitating such devotional love, but factually he is not freed from anarthas or unwanted habits…When one is actually spontaneously attracted to the loving principles of the gopis, there will be found no trace of any mundane contamination in him.”

Clarification: In Raga-vartma-candrika (1.8) however, Visvanatha Cakravartipada explains that lobha, sacred greed, is not a black-and-white matter, that it is either absolute and complete, or there is none. Lobha is not necessarily a burning, all-consuming passion.

Visvanatha Cakravartipada: “It is described that the devotees on the raga-path gradually progress from the initial surrender to the feet of Sri Guru up to the stage of directly attaining the object of their desires.     

‘When the eye is smeared with medicinal ointment, its ability of perception becomes more and more refined, and accordingly it is able to perceive more and more subtle objects. Similarly, according to the degree of the mind’s having become purified by hearing and chanting of My purifying pastimes, all the subtle truths of reality become manifest in the heart of the sadhaka.’ (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.14.26)

“From these words of Sri Krishna, it is known that through sadhana-bhakti the consciousness of the sadhaka becomes more purified every day, and one gradually becomes more and more greedy.”

Srila Prabhupada: “In the stage of devotional service where regulative principles are followed, there is no necessity of discussing this love, for it must develop of itself at a more advanced stage.”

Clarification:  This is not stated by Sri Rupa Goswamipada.

Srila Prabhupada: “Therefore, in the beginning, everyone should strictly follow the regulative principles of devotional service, according to the injunctions of the scriptures and the spiritual master. Only after the stage of liberation from material contamination can one actually aspire to follow in the footsteps of the devotees in Vrindavan.”

Clarification: In Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.5), Sri Rupa Goswamipada says there are two kinds of sadhana, practice with the senses by souls that are still conditioned: vaidhi and raganuga. And nowhere it is said that raganuga bhakti is a post graduate state of vaidhi bhakti, or that it cannot be practiced until after liberation.

Visvanatha Cakravartipada states in his Raga Vartma Candrika (2.7): “Then it will be described how one, who has progressed on the path of raganuga-bhakti through the cessation of the evils (anartha-nivrtti), firmness (nistha), taste (ruci), and attachment (asakti) all the way to the attainment of ecstatic love (prema), will directly come to attain his desired object.”

RAGANUGA-BHAKTI BEGINS AT NISHTHA: TRUE OR FALSE?

Different acharyas following Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati claim that raganuga-bhakti sadhana commences at the stage of nistha, ruci or even bhava, but there is not a word of evidence for that in the authorized scriptures on the topic, like Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu or its commentaries, Bhakti Sandarbha, Madhurya Kadambini or Raga Vartma Candrika.

In his book “Sri Guru Parampara- Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Heir to the Esoteric Life of Kedaranatha Bhaktivinoda”, Tripurari Swami says that “In Bhakti-sara-pradarshini (his commentary on Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu), Visvanatha Cakravartipada tells us that in order to practice raganuga bhakti one must have attained the stage of nistha.”

CLARIFICATION: This is the verse referred to above quoted from Visvanatha Cakravartipada:

ragatmikaika -nistha -ye -vrajavasi  -janadayah
tesham -bhavaptaye -lubdho bhaved -atradhikaravan (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.291):

“This is the definition of the ragatmika bhakti of the nitya siddha Vrajavasis.”

The words eka nistha (exclusively fixed, loyal) has been mistranslated by Tripurari Swami to refer to the adhikaravan, the jiva-candidate, and have been confused for the high stage of bhakti called nistha.

But this verse refers instead to the nitya siddha role models, the Vrajvasis, and means ‘exclusive fixation’ and not the stage of nistha that sadhakas must go through.

THE SIDDHA DEHA

In his translations of Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.8.229; 2.22.155-158) Srila Prabhupada says to meditate on the siddha deha one needs to be ‘self-realized’, while such a word cannot be found in the original verses.

Narottama Dasa Thakur explains that meditation on the siddha deha is a regular sadhana: “Whatever you think of during your sadhana, you will attain in your siddhi-body. These are the ways of raga marga.” (Prema Bhakti Candrika 57)

“The treasure I covet during my sadhana I will receive in my siddha body. The only difference between the two is being ripe and unripe.” (Prema Bhakti Candrika 56)

This means that the difference between the struggling practitioner and the siddha is only in quantity and not in quality.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das: Quality means way of bhajan for new rag bhakta and siddha is same both do Asta Kaliya Lila  smaran and seva in their manjari swarups. But amount of prem and absorption which means quantity is vastly different for siddha and beginner in raga bhakti.

Bhagavad Gita (8.6): “Whatever one contemplates throughout life is what one attains when one leaves the body.”

Srimad Bhagavatam (7.1.27): “The caterpillar imprisoned by a wasp in (its nest on) a wall, and constantly thinking of the latter through intense hate and fear, attains the form of the wasp.”

Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.295): “A person who desires loving attraction to His beloved Sri Krishna in Vraja must serve in allegiance to the Vrajvasis, both in the current practitioner’s body as well as in the spiritual, mentally conceived body, which is fit for serving Sri Krishna, seva -sadhaka -rupena -siddha -rupena -catra -hi.

Visvanatha Cakravartipada tika: “Mental service must be rendered in the spiritual body, siddha-deha, in allegiance to Sri Radha, Lalita,  Visakha-sakhi, Sri Rupa Manjari and service in the current physical body must be rendered in allegiance to Vraja-people like Sri Rupa and Sanatana.

Srila Prabhupada translates Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.22.154-155) as follows: “There are two processes by which one may execute this raganuga bhakti: external and internal. When self-realized, the advanced devotee externally remains like a neophyte and executes all the shāstric injunctions, especially those concerning hearing and chanting. But within his mind, in his original, purified, self-realized position, he serves Krishna in Vrindavan day and night.”

Clarification: The actual Bengali verse of Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita (2..22.154-155) says: “There are two kinds of devotion in practice — external and internal. In the external practitioner’s body devotional practices of hearing and chanting Krishna’s glories are performed, and internally, in the mentally conceived spiritual body, one renders mental service to Krishna in Vraja day and night.”

The term ‘self-realized’ mentioned in Srila Prabhupada’s translation is not in the original Bengali sloka. Besides, it is a bit too extreme for a description of raganuga-bhakti sadhana because this verse appears in the sadhana bhakti chapter of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. Nevertheless, one indeed needs to be fairly advanced to meditate on one’s siddha deha.

In Bhakti Sandarbha (276), Sri Jiva Goswamipada says, “Smaranam requires a pure heart, smaranam -tu shuddha -antah -karanatam -apeksate.”

All the elaborations of Visvanatha Cakravartipada in Madhurya Kadambini on how far up anarthas persist (up to the stage of prema) are nicely summarized by Sri Rupa Goswamipada in a single verse of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (2.1.276):

“Sadhakas who have developed rati [bhava] for Krishna but have not completely extinguished the anarthas are qualified to see Krishna directly.”

Clarification: This verse obviously refers to subtle anarthas. It also dismisses claims that one is unqualified to meditate, what to speak of realize the spiritual body, while anarthas are still there. [content courtesy Sri Advaita Dasji]

Raganuga-bhakti ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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.

WHAT IS RAGATMIKA AND WHAT IS RAGANUGA?

In order to have a clear understanding about raganuga it is important to understand raga and ragatmika. For various reasons these terms have been somewhat conflated and confused in ISKCON.

Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.272) says:

Raga is complete absorption in one’s beloved ishta-devata. Bhakti that is impelled exclusively by such a thirst is called ragatmika-bhakti.”

“The absorption described above as ragatmika bhakti is only found in Krishna’s eternal associates in Vraja. Raganuga-bhakti is defined as that bhakti which follows after the ragatmika-bhakti which manifests distinctively in the inhabitants of Vraja. (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.270)

Here are of some of the unclear translations in Nectar of Devotion Ch. 15, entitled “Spontaneous Devotional Service” that have led to much confusion:

“The examples of spontaneous devotional service can be easily seen in Krishna’s direct associates in Vrindavan. The spontaneous dealings of the residents of Vrindavan in relationship with Krishna are called raganuga.”

CLARIFICATION: The proper term here should be ragatmika, rather than raganuga.

In the next paragraph Srila Prabhupada says, “Srila Rupa Goswami has defined raganuga bhakti as spontaneous attraction for something while completely absorbed in thoughts of it.” 

CLARIFICATION: The word here should be raga, not raganuga bhakti.

The terms ragatmika and raganuga have been translated identically and even used interchangeably in Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Thus, it is not surprising that most ISKCON devotees mistakenly think that raganuga-bhakti sadhana is a highly elevated stage of bhakti which is only achieved in a completely purified stage.

DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN Srila Prabhupada’s ‘NECTAR OF DEVOTION’ AND THE TEACHINGS OF THE PREVIOUS ACARYAS:

Srila Prabhupada gives his own definition of rasa in the preface of the Nectar of Devotion: “That force which drives the philanthropist, the householder and the nationalist is called rasa.”

Clarification: This definition of rasa has nothing to do with what Sri Rupa Goswamipada says in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. He says rasa is produced by combining a sthayi bhava, then vibhava, anubhava, sancari bhava and sattvik-bhava.

QUALIFICATION FOR RAGANUGA-BHAKTI

Raganuga bhakti means allegiance to the eternally perfect ragatmika-devotees of Vraja. This is the teaching of Sri Rupa Goswamipada in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.271-272):

“Before we speak of ragatmika bhakti and raganuga bhakti we must first know what is raga. Raga is that deep natural loving thirst which causes one to become completely absorbed in one’s beloved Thakurji.”

Sri Jiva Goswamipada has defined raga and raganuga as follows (Bhakti Sandarbha 310):  Raga means the strong and natural desire of a sense-enjoyer for his beloved sense-objects. The senses, like the eyes, are naturally attracted to their objects, such as beautiful forms, and they need no encouragement in this.

In the same way, when a devotee’s heart is naturally attracted to Sri Krishna and one has a deep thirst for Sri Krishna then this is called raga.

When a mere ray of the nectar-moon of such raga falls on the crystal-like hearts of those devotees who only have some taste for a particular raga but do not possess that raga itself yet, then the heart rejoices and as a result of hearing from the scriptures and saints taste will be born within the heart of such a devotee for the devotional expertise of a ragatmika bhakta.

This means that ruci (taste) will be born within the heart when we hear about the loving devotional expertise of a ragatmika Vraja-bhakta from the scriptures or from the mouth of a saint whose heart is pure, that is, free from lust, anger and envy. The devotion which follows the raga of a ragatmika Vraja-devotee along with ruci is called raganuga bhakti.”

Both the vaidhi-devotee and the raga-devotee may begin the path of devotion from the stage of anartha nivrtti, cessation of unwanted habits, progressing through the stages that have been described by Sri Rupa Goswamipada in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.4.15-16) : adau –shraddha -tatha -sadhu -sango’tha –bhajana -kriya.

The difference between them lies not in personal purity, but in their mood.  Sri Rupa Goswamipada writes in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu  (1.2.291): “Those who are anxious (‘greedy’) to attain the mood of the eternal, exclusively fixed-up  ragatmika Vrajavasis are eligible to enter into raganuga-bhakti.”

YOU CAN’T LEARN RAGA BHAKTI FROM BOOKS

One cannot learn vaidhi bhakti from the guru, and then just learn raganuga-bhakti from books because your guru did not teach you raganuga bhakti.

Sri Raghunatha Das Goswamipada  says (Sva-sankalpaprakash-stotra 1):  “How can one enter into the Shyam ocean without having conversed with a devotee whose heart is steeped in love for Radha  [a raganuga-bhakta]?”

Visvanatha Cakravartipada writes in his Raga Vartma Candrika (1.6). “There are two causes for the appearance of sacred greed necessary to practice raganuga-bhakti: The mercy of Bhagavan Sri Krishna or the mercy of an anuragi devotee. There are again two kinds of mercy bestowed by a devotee: praktana and adhunika.

Praktana means mercy bestowed by a raganuga bhakta in a previous life, and adhunika is mercy bestowed in the present birth. The praktana-devotee takes shelter of the lotus feet of a raganuga guru after the sacred greed has arisen in him, the adhunika will get that sacred greed after surrendering to the feet of such a guru.”

[content courtesy Sri Advaita Dasji]

Raganuga-bhakti ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

This series of posts will present facts (tattva) regarding the identity, moods (gopi-bhava), intimacy and sevas of Srimati Radharani’s beautiful and talented handmaidens known as manjaris, kinkaris, or dasis.

Also, we will present many astonishing and wonderful lilas to highlight the manjaris most personal and confidential sevas to Srimati Radhika and Her dearest Priyatama Shyamasundara.

The information here is based on the commentaries of Advaitavamsa Acharya 108 Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami and 108 Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja taken from “Vilapa Kusumanjali” and “Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi” translated by Sri Advaita Dasji.

Ma Yashoda Feeds Sri Radha

“Anxiously mother Yashoda sits Radhika Rai on her lap and says: “O my beautiful girl! Please eat something before You go home!” Mother Yashoda then affectionately touches Swamini and makes Her sit down to eat.

“Don’t think that I’m different from Your own mother. You can laugh, joke, sleep and eat in my house just as You do at home! Why are You so shy?” Mother Yashoda sits beside Radha and personally feeds Her.

While eating Krishna’s nectarine remnants Sri Radhika is overwhelmed in bliss. The manjaris and sakhis really enjoy seeing mother Yashoda feeding Srimati. Tulasi-manjari is beside herself of ecstasy beholding the sweet mutual love of Yashoda and Radhika

Tulasi stands close by Swamini, silently hoping that Radha will give her some of Her remnants. Understanding what’s on Her mind, Radha secretly drops some of Her chewed food in Tulasi’s hand. Blessed is Radha’s loving maidservant!

Sadhakas in manjari bhava will meditate that they are sitting right next to Tulasi-manjari observing this sweet exchange between Yashoda, Radhika and Her loving maidservant, or standing beside Srimati fanning Her as She eats. And one fine day during lila smarana, you may see Radhika dropping Her remnants into your eager loving hand! Jai Jai Sri Radhe! 

Priyaji’s Prema Binds Priyatama Shyam

Radha does know anything else but loving Krishna. Radha’s divine body, senses and mind are all made of love for Krishna. So Krishna surrenders completely to Radha’s service by applying red lac to Her lotus feet, putting tilaka on Her forehead, combing Her hair, massaging Her feet and so on.

In the mood of an independent lady-love (svadhina bhartrka) Srimati can order Shyam to do these things without any hesitation! This is not the service of Krishna, it is prema itself serving Radha. The sweetness of Shyam’s love manifests in Radha’s face, eyes and smile. Prema becomes tasteful because of Radha-Krishna’s mutual love. Their relationship is completely free from awe and reverence.

Radharani’s maidservants ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

This series of posts will present facts (tattva)  regarding the identity, moods (gopi-bhava), intimacy and sevas of Srimati Radharani’s beautiful and talented handmaidens known as manjaris, kinkaris, or dasis.

Also, we will present many astonishing and wonderful lilas to highlight the manjaris most personal and confidential sevas to Srimati Radhika and Her dearest Priyatama Shyamasundara.

The information here is based on the commentaries of Advaitavamsa Acharya 108 Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami and 108 Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja taken from “Vilapa Kusumanjali” and “Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi” translated by Sri Advaita Dasji.

Seeing Swamini’s Eager Face

Ayi Madhuri Radha! How beautiful You are when Madhava looks at You while eating His breakfast! Just by a glance Shyam can understand Radharani’s blissful eagerness. Swamini’s face is marked with eagerness. The sadhaka manjari should also relish that blissful eagerness of Madhuri’s beautiful face.

Narottama Dasa Thakur prays,

“My eyes desire to see the golden form of Radhika and I am crying out of that desire!” (Prem Bhakti Candrika)

Reality of Manjari Meditations

In Radha Kunda, Sri Raghunatha Das Goswamipada was anxiously crying out of the pain of separation from Srimati Radharani. At the stage of bhava-bhakti, a sadhaka can see Radha-Krishna through the eyes in sphurtis, vivid visions. Before attaining bhava however, a fortunate sadhaka may “see” Radha-Krishna in meditation or dreams.

When sadhakas follow in the footsteps of acharyas like Sri Rupa Goswamipada, Sri Raghunatha Das Goswamipada, Sri Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami, and Visvanatha Cakravartipada by praying to them, studying their books and trying to imbibe their moods, meditations and sevas, they too can relish the sweetness of Srimati’s face in their meditations.

As one repeatedly practices deep meditation on Radha Madhava’a asta-kaliya-lila one will feel that Radha-Krishna are very near. When one experiences this, one will think, “I am not practicing lila smarana, I am there!”

When one’s meditation ends one will feel great anxiety to directly meet Radha Govinda Yugal. The more one enjoys lila smarana, the more anxious one will become for more. As thirst and eagerness for direct darshan of Radha-Krishna increases, the sooner one will attain it.

Radha-Krishna Asta-kaliya-lila smarana bhajan will make a new life for a sadhaka.

Sri Radha will certainly respond to one’s humility, enthusiasm, and determination to practice bhajan in manjari svarupa.

Karunamayi Radha is a boundless ocean of compassion, endowed with a lovely nature.

Thus, Kishori will come close to you and accept your sevas. Radhika is a wish-fulfilling vine for devotees.

Manjari bhava sadhana ki jai!  Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

This series of posts will present facts (tattva) regarding the identity, moods (gopi-bhava)Manjaris, RaganugaBhakti, Gopis, Radharani, RadhasSeva, VrajaPrema, intimacy and sevas of Srimati Radharani’s beautiful and talented handmaidens known as manjaris, kinkaris, or dasis.

Also, we will present many astonishing and wonderful lilas to highlight the manjaris most personal and confidential sevas to Srimati Radhika and Her dearest Priyatama Shyamasundara.

The information here is based on the commentaries of Advaitavamsa Acharya 108 Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami and 108 Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja taken from “Vilapa Kusumanjali” and “Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi” translated by Sri Advaita Dasji.

Selfless Mood of Manjaris

Most devotees think: “I want to become happy by serving Krishna.” 

Radha’s maidservants, being the exemplars of selflessness, are completely free from this. Serious  manjari-bhava upasakas should always be thinking: “What seva can I do to please Priya-Priyatama?”

Bhajan is impossible in the presence of personal desire. Maintaining personal agendas keep one from tasting the bliss in selfless worship.

Manjaris Sevas After Radha’s Cooking

After Swamini finishes cooking Krishna ‘s breakfast She takes rest. The kinkaris change Radha’s clothes, wipe Her hands, feet and body with a wet towel and fan Radha while Dhanishtha brings a nectar drink. While Swamini  enjoys the drink She closes Her beautiful eyes.

Radha Serves Bhoga 

Shyam peeks at Radha in the kitchen without being noticed by others. Swamini casts a furtive glance back toward Her Nagar while handing food to Rohini. A little later, Yashoda tells Radha to serve sandesh to Krishna. Just as Swamini shyly tries to put the sweet on His plate, Krishna opens His hand to receive it. Seeing this sign of affection, Srimati blushes of shyness. How beautiful is Radha’s shyly blushing, blooming face at that time!

The manjaris relish this sweetness and intensely desire to see Radha’s blossoming lotus face again and again.

Radharani’s manjaris ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Srimati Radharani’s personal maidservants (aka manjaris, kinkaris or dasis) have divine, transcendental bodies that are sweetly saturated with gopi seva/bhava from head to toe.
Radhika’s beautiful, playful and most trusted friendly servants, Her manjaris, have so much love and attachment for Sri Radha that, “if even for a moment, the manjaris can’t see Radhika, they practically die, radha kshana adarshana mriyante!” [Vraja Vilasa Stava 40]
During asta-kaliya-lila, Radha-Madhava and all the sakhis take rest at about 2 a.m. every night. While the sakhis are resting, Radhika’s manjaris are busy busy busy with sevas! However, there is an example of a manjari who “falls asleep on the job” which shows that even Radharani’s serving girls get tired too.
Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati describes one manjari who was massaging Radha-Krishna’s lotus feet as They slept. But while doing that seva, the manjari felt so tired that, “she fell asleep at the end of the bed, padambhoja samvahanani shayyante kim, kim api patita prapta tandra bhaveyam!” (Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi 213)
But factually there is just no time or necessity for Radha’s servants to sleep. While Yugala and the sakhis pass the time in peaceful and ecstatic lila “dreams”, Radha’s loving serving girls are collecting flowers, stringing fresh garlands, grinding sandalwood paste, gathering juicy forest fruits, and a host of other the services for the blissful pleasure of Radha and Krishna when They arise from Their flower bed at 4:30 a.m. or so.
To give some idea of the bliss-busy seva day of a Sri Radha’s seva-nishta handmaidens, the manjaris, we offer you the following list of about 150 DAILY SERVICES collected from the books of our Gaudiya Vaisnava acharyas.
Manjari bhava sadhakas may use this outline for meditation and internal seva within their individual siddha svarupas, transcendental eternal forms. The sadhaka should focus on the particular time of the day, and deeply think, “I am right next to Srimati Radharani, personally performing each one of these many sevas for the divine happiness of my most worshipable Ishvari Sri Radha.” Now we’’ begin describing 150 daily sevas of Sri Radhika dearest maidservants, the manjaris.

Radha-Govinda Yugala Asta-kaliya-lila & Manjari Sevas

I. Nisanta Lila 3:36—6:00 a.m. Pre Sunrise Sevas
1. WAKING SEVA: During Brahma-muhurta time [2 hrs. before sunrise], on Vrinda’s order, the male and female mynas, parrots, peacocks, cuckoos and doves start sweetly singing to arouse Radha-Madhava. Hearing the birds, I, in my beautiful, transcendental, spiritual body as Srimati Radharani’s loyal maidservant, quickly get up and prepare for Priyaji’s personal services.
2. DARSHANA SEVA: Going to the nearby groves, I wake up Gaurangi’s gopis. Bringing them to Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, I show them the charming vision of the disheveled Sporting Pair sleeping on Their flower bed.
3. RADHA’S HAIR SEVA: Sri Radhika becomes startled, however, by the ecstatic whispering of all the sakhis peeping inside the kunja. Waking up suddenly, Sundari tries to rise from the flower bed. But She can’t because Her hair, necklaces and other ornaments are entangled with Krishna’s. Tip-toeing into the kunja, I quickly and expertly untie all the knots.
4. PAINTING SEVA: When Radha-Madhava want to paint pictures on each other, I hand Them paint brushes, and stand beside Them holding a small golden tray containing freshly prepared, sandalwood pulp, musk, kunkum etc.
5. ORNAMENTS SEVA: When Yugala Kishora want to decorate each other, I present Them pearl necklaces, jeweled ornaments, flower garlands, etc.
6. MANGALA ARATIKA SEVA: After Radha-Govinda Yugala dress, I devotedly offer mangala-arati by waving various auspicious presentations before Them.
7. GOING HOME SEVA: When Gandharvika leaves the garden grove to return home, I walk behind Her carrying nicely prepared betel nuts and a golden water jug.
8. PRASADI SEVA: When the pearl necklaces and other ornaments break off and fall from Radha’s neck as She rushes home, I pick them up, tie them in my sari, and later repair them to share that rasa-laden Radha prasadi with Her sakhis.
9. PRASADI SEVA: With Her beautiful golden hand, Pranapriya lovingly rewards me with Her pan prasadi, which I then later share with the other sundari sakhis.
10. RESTING SEVA: As soon as Radha arrives in Yavata or Varshana just before sunrise, I immediately and affectionately lay Lajjavati in Her bed. Then I go to rest in a special bedroom set aside for Devi’s dasis.

II. Pratah Lila 6:00—8:24 a.m. Morning Sevas
1. CLEANING SEVA: At sunrise, I wash Vinodini’s clothes from the previous night. Then I clean the trays, dishes, bowls, brushes, and other items previously used in the kunja.
2. UNGUENTS SEVA: To decorate Swamini’s gorgeous divine body, I grind together saffron and sandalwood pulp.
3. WAKING SEVA: Hearing the voices of the palace ladies approaching Her bedroom, I lovingly waken Srimati by gently touching Her lotus feet. Then I sit Bhanu-tanya on Her bathing platform.
4. BATHING SEVA: I offer scented water to wash Radha’s face, and hand Kishori Her tooth-powder, golden tongue-scraper, and other items.
5. COSMETICS SEVA: While Kalyani brushes Her teeth, I prepare a fine powder of kunkum, musk, saffron and scented sandalwood, for cleaning Kunda-danti’s body. I make mascara for Madhuri’s beautiful blue eyes and prepare other body ointments.
6. MASSAGE SEVA: With great care and attention, I affectionately rub invigorating, scented oil all over Radhika Sundari’s beautiful divine form.
7. CLEANING SEVA: I then remove the massage oil from Rai’s body by using a special cleansing powder.
8. SHAMPOO SEVA: I wash Priyaji’s long, silky black hair with a mixture of tamarind juice and scented oil.
9. BATH SEVA: Using golden jugs of scented cool water in summer or warm in winter, I bathe Vrishabhanu-nandini.
10. DRYING SEVA: I dry Sundari’s lovely body and hair with fine cloth towels.
11. DRESSING SEVA: I dress Nagarimani in a jewel-embroidered blue silk sari.
12. HAIR SEVA: I dry and scent Swamini’s hair with smoke of fragrant aloe-wood.
13. SRNGARA SEVA: I dress and decorate Radha Ji with 16 kinds of ornaments, including tying Priya’s braid, attaching flower-earrings, weaving flowers into Her hair, applying eye mascara, painting creepers upon Radha’s limbs, tilaka on Her forehead, and finally giving Navina Kishori a play lotus to twirl.
14. FOOT SEVA: I paint red lac dye on Radhika’s divine foot soles.
15. MIRROR SEVA: After dressing Her, I show Sriji a mirror and notice how happy Hemangi is with Her radiant beauty, knowing it will give great joy to Her Gokulendu.
16. PUJA SEVA: I prepare the trays and paraphernalia for Shyama-jivani’s upcoming Surya puja.
17. INTIMATE SEVAS: On Ramani’s request, I return to the keli-kunja to retrieve Rai’s forgotten corset, pearl necklaces and other ornaments.
18. WALKING SEVA: When Nikunja-jivani goes to Nandagrama to cook Priyatama’s breakfast, I walk behind Bhanunandini carrying Her water jug and betel nut tray.
19. HEARING SEVA: I relish the joking and laughing of Sriji and Her sakhis as they walk to Nandagrama.
20. ADMIRING SEVA: Sri Radhika, the sakhis and I too bow down to Mother Yashoda upon arriving in Krishna’s palace. While listening to Yashoda praising Priyaji, I admire how Yashoda lovingly embraces Lajjeshvari, smells Her head and kisses Kalavati again and again.
21. DRESSING SEVA: I help Harinakshi change into Her cooking robe, and then prepare different items for Kishori’s cooking.
22. FANNING SEVA: I fan Kishori-mani with refreshing breezes while She cooks or serves the food.
23. FOOD SEVA: I help Rasavati Rai and Mother Rohini display the cooked items for Yashoda Ma’s approval and then bring the serving pots.
24. SERVING SEVA: I help Haripriya hand trays and pots of food to Yashoda.
25. DARSHANA SEVA: Standing beside Radhika, I watch Sri Krishna enjoying His meal as He laughs and jokes with the sakhas.
21. FANNING SEVA: I continually fan Chanchakshi as She relishes Krishna’s prasadi.
22. WATER SEVA: I offer Kunkumangi cool, rose-scented drinking water.
23. WASHING SEVA: I offer Sarvanga-sundari scented water to wash Her mouth and hands.
24. RESTING SEVA: I lay Radha down on a comfy bed, and offer Her betel nuts mixed with camphor and cardamom.
25. CLOTHES SEVA: I meet Subala Sakha and trade Krishna’s yellow shawl for Sriji’s blue one. The Playful Pair had mistakenly swapped clothes when rushing out of the kunja at daybreak.
III. PURVAHNA LILA 8:24—10.48 a.m. FORENOON SEVAS
1. ESCORT SEVA: Radha and the sakhis follow Krishna when He goes for cow herding. Praneshvari exchanges forlorn glances with Her Priyatama before returning to Yavata. I walk behind Radha holding a tray with betel nuts and a water pot.
2. FOOT SEVA: After settling Radha in Her palace, I wash and massage Her lotus feet.
3. GARLAND SEVA: I pick some flowers so Madhura-mukhi can string a mala for Murari.
4. COOKING SEVA: I assist Anuragini when She cooks Acyuta’s favorite sweets.
5. DELIVERY SEVA: I deliver Srimati’s sweets, flower malas, and Her messages to Madhavananda in the forest. I return with Radha-vallabha’s response and thus satisfy both Rai and Kanu.
6. ESCORT SEVA: On the pretext of Surya Puja, Shyama-priya and Her sakhis come to Radha-kunda to meet Govinda. Following Sriji like Her shadow, I carry Her tray with betel nuts and a water pot.
IV. MADHYAHNA LILA 10.48 a.m.—3.36 p.m. MIDDAY SEVAS
1. DARSHANA SEVA: Upon arriving in the bowers of Sri Radha-kunda, I arrange Radha Govinda’s mutual darshana.
2. DECORATING SEVA: With other manjaris, I clean the kunja and attractively decorate it with wondrous arches, pavilions and thrones made of colorful, fragrant flowers.
3. FLOWER BED SEVA: I prepare an astonishing flower bed with artistic patterns made of different colored forest flowers.
4. FOOT WASHING SEVA: I clean the beautiful lotus feet of Radha and Krishna.
5. FOOT DRYING SEVA: Using my soft, fine hair, I dry Lila Yugala’s lotus feet.
6. FANNING SEVA: I refresh Radha-Madhava with cooling breezes from a huge peacock-feather fan.
7. NECTAR SEVA: I make honey nectar from sweet forest flowers like kadamba.
8. BHOGA SEVA: I then offer full pots of honey nectar to Radha-Govinda for Their pleasure.
9. HEARING SEVA: I go mad with bliss listening to Radha-Madhava’s outrageous joking and laughter with Their sakhis.
10. BETEL SEVA: I offer delicious betel nut packets flavored with cardamom, cloves and camphor to the Divine Pair.
11. PRASADI SEVA: Out of love for me, Radhe-Shyama give me Their prasadi betel to relish.
12. DISCRETION SEVA: I discreetly exit the bower as soon as I sense that Sriji and Shyama want to be alone.
13. SMELLING SEVA: While waiting outside, my nose delights in the divine, natural bodily fragrances of Priya-Priyatama that resemble an exotic mixture of musk, kunkum, camphor, lotus flowers and sandalwood paste.
14. HEARING SEVA: My ears dance along with the excited, sweet jingling of Radha-Madhava’s bangles, waist-bells, ankle-bells and so.
15. SEEING SEVA: Gazing at ground near Gauri-Shyama’s lotus feet, I marvel at the wondrous sight of Their most auspicious and divine footprints marked with the designs of a flag, goad, cakra, chariot, conch, thunderbolt, lotus, and so on.
16. KUNJA SEVA: After Radha-Krishna finish Their amorous affairs inside the grove, I enter to render various sevas.
17. FANNING SEVA: I caress Radha-Madhava’s lotus feet and fan Them with gentle breezes.
18. WATER SEVA: I offer cool, flower-scented drinking water for Rai Kanu’s pleasure.
19. TILAKA SEVA: Using sandalwood pulp and a fine brush, I expertly repaint Thakurani’s tilaka and flower-creeper designs removed by Her perspiration.
20. COSMETICS SEVA: I anoint Sumukhi’s wonderful transcendental body with scented cosmetics like musk, saffron, camphor, and vermilion.
21. NECKLACE SEVA: I pick up the pearls scattered around the grove from Premamayi’s broken necklace and re-string them.
22. SHRNGARA SEVA: To decorate Radha-Madhava in various attractive ways, I pluck heaps of colorful fragrant flowers from the gardens surrounding the kunja.
23. ORNAMENTS SEVA: I string Vinodilala’s favorite vaijayanti-mala (five flower mix), and then use some colorful fragrant flowers to make all of Madhavi’s garlands, earrings, crown, armlets, bracelets, and chokers.
24. MALA SEVA: While Lila Yugala enjoy joking and laughing together, I offer my pearl necklaces and flower garlands to Their lotus hands.
25. DECORATING SEVA: Per Yugala’s request, I place the garlands and necklaces on Their divine necks.
26. HAIR SEVA: With a golden comb, I very carefully comb Radha’s flowing tresses.
27. VENI SEVA: I expertly tie Radha’s hair in a nice braid that hangs down Her elegant back.
28. KAJALA SEVA: I encircle Radha’s beautiful blue eyes with Shyama-black kajala
29. LIPSTICK SEVA: I apply bright red lipstick to Radha’s divine, naturally red lotus petal lips.
30. TILAKA SEVA: I paint dark musk dots on Gandharvika’s radiant golden lotus face.
31. SWEETS SEVA: I offer Krishna’s favorite sweets like Ganga-jal laddus, ananga-gutika and sidhu-vilasa to both Radha and Krishna.
32. FRUIT SEVA: I collect fresh, juicy sweet fruits from the forest orchards.
33. OFFERING SEVA: I prepare the fruits and arrange them attractively on a tray to present to Rasika Yugala.
34. HEARING SEVA: My ears drink the nectar of Madhuri-Madhava’s sweet murmuring and love-prattles during Their romantic exchanges.
35. DARSHANA SEVA: I taste great bliss in seeing and taking part in Radha-Madhava’s astonishing pleasure sports as They wander through the forest, enjoy flower-fights, steal Krishna’s flute, drench each other in Holi colors, soar on a swing, splash each with water, play hide ‘n seek, and stake ridiculous wagers during Their board game (pasha khela).
36. VINA SEVA: I walk behind Radhika carrying Her vina. I hand it to Radhika-sundari whenever She wants to play solos or duets with Her Beloved Shyama. As Radha-Damodara ramble through the forests, They sing songs, and touch the trees and creepers while looking at the colorful tropical birds and listening to their sweet chirping.
37. FOOT SEVA: Using my soft, Yamuna-black tresses, I wipe the vraja-dhuli from Radha-Gopinatha’s divine lotus feet.
38. DEFENSE SEVA: When Sri Hari and Shyamajiu fight over who owns the forest flowers, I shield Sukumari from Sundarananda’s aggression, and thereby indirectly enjoy struggling with Shyama.
39. STEALING SEVA: On Haripriya’s hint, I steal Hari’s vamshi as They struggle and secretly pass it to Srimati. Not seeing His flute, Mukunda searches me and I hint to Him that Radha has it. Govinda goes after Gandharvika, but She secretly passes the flute to another sakhi. I happily participate in all this mischief.
40. HOLI REFILL SEVA: When Radhe-Shyama play Holi to drench each other with colored dyes, I repeatedly refill the pichkaris (meter long, jeweled golden syringes) with liquid musk, saffron, camphor, sandalwood paste and powdered fragrant flowers and hand them to Sriji and Her sakhis.
41. JHULAN SEVA: When Radha Govinda sit on a swing, I push it back and forth, throw fragrant flowers over Yugala’s divine heads, play the vina and sing songs of Their glories.
42. LUK-LUKI SEVA: To play hide ‘n seek Radha and Krishna scatter throughout the woods. When Krishna asks, I lie about Hemagauri’s hiding place. But when Ananga-mohini asks, I immediately reveal Ananda-Bihari’s location.
43. CLOTHES & KUNDA SEVA: When Radha-Shyama sport in Radha-kunda, I watch Their clothes and ornaments while waiting on the bank. Sometimes, however, Radha pulls me into the kunda to enjoy the fun too.
44. DRYING SEVA:
When the Playful Pair come out of Radha-kunda, I dry Them off and offer fresh clothes, ornaments and cosmetics.
45. GAME SEVA:
When Priyaji and Prana-natha play pasha khela and wager various items, I collect the prizes Jaya Sri wins. I proudly go over to Madana Gopala’s side of the playing board, and forcibly take away His pet deer or flute lost in the match. During the game, I also participate in the sakhis’ joking ridicule of Radha-ramana and His attempts to please His Ishvari.
46. ESCORT SEVA: When Sri Radha leaves Radha-Kunda for puja at Surya-kunda, I follow Kanta-vallabha carrying items for Her service.
47. SURYA PUJA SEVAS: When Jatila asks Radha to bow to the “brahmana purohita” (Krishna in disguise), I restrain my laughter. During the puja, I hand trays, flowers, incense, and other items to Radharani. As Krishna recites various, amorously-tainted and concocted puja mantras, I cover my face with my veil to keep Jatila from my laughing.
48. DARSHANA SEVA: As Srimati returns to Yavata, I lag behind to give Her a pretext for repeatedly turning around to glance at Her beloved Shyama standing in the mandira doorway. When Priyaji can no longer see Shyama, I try to pacify Sriji’s ever-mounting feelings of separation.
V. APARAHNA LILA 3.36—6.00 p.m. AFTERNOON SEVAS
1. MASSAGE SEVA: Back in Radharani’s palace in Yavata, I see that Radhika is feeling very bad due separation from Pyariju. At that time, I very attentively care for Priya Sundari by lying Her down on a cooling flower bed, and washing and massaging Rasavilasini’s lotus feet.
2. COOKING SEVA: Responding to Yashoda’s request, Radharani cooks sweets for Krishna’s supper. I help Vidagdhi Radha by lighting the stove, grinding spices, and bringing other ingredients.
3. BATHING AND DRESSING SEVA: When Madhuri Radha goes for Her afternoon bath, I follow Srimati holding Her fresh clothes and ornaments. After Her bath, I dress and adorn Krishna priya with all these items.
4. DARSHANA SEVA: Sulochana and Her sakhis run to the rooftop to see Ramana Bihari’s uttara goshtha lila [returning with many cows and sakhas]. I offer Radha refreshing cool water to drink, and enjoy watching Govinda-nandini glancing at Her beloved Govinda Deva.
5. BEDROOM SEVAS: I follow Swamini as She descends from the roof with Her sakhis, and then tend to Rai back in Her quarters.
VI. SAYAHNA LILA 6.00—8.24 p.m. EVENING SEVAS
1. BHOGA & HEARING SEVA: At sunset, I go to Nandishvara [Nandagrama] with Tulasi manjari to deliver Radha’s bhoga offering to Krishna which includes food items, betel nuts, flower garlands, etc. I hear Sri Krishna and Tulasi fix the time and place for Lila Yugala’s rendezvous that night.
2. DELIVERY SEVA: Tulasi manjari and I bring Sri Hari’s prasadi to Sri Radha in Yavata.
3. PRASADI SEVA: I distribute Nanda Kishora’s prasadi to Shyama jivani and Her sakhis.
4. INCENSE SEVA: While the sakhis eat, I burn nice fragrant incense for their pleasure.
5. WATER SEVA: I offer cool, rose-scented drinking water to Rasa-sundari and Her sakhis.
6. RINSING SEVA: When they finish eating, I offer scented water to Smita-mukhi and Her sakhis to wash their hands and mouths.
7. SPICE & REST SEVA: I offer fresh betel nuts scented with cardamom, cloves, camphor, etc. to Sundarangi and then lay Her down for a brief rest.
8. NECTAR SEVA: In great bliss, I slowly savor Syamajeu’s nectarean prasadi.
9. WAKING & DARSHANA SEVA: When Raseshvari wakes up, I take Her to a rooftop garden to peek into the goshala to watch Govinda blissfully milking the cows.
VII. PRADOSHA LILA 8.24—10.36 p.m. LATE EVENING SEVAS
1. MOON MATCHING DRESS SEVA: During the light or dark phases of the moon, I dress and decorate Radhika-sundari in the appropriate dark or light clothes and ornaments and unguents.
2. BODY DESIGN SEVA: I anoint Rasavati-rai’s beautiful limbs with camphorated sandal paste, musk etc., and then paint creepers, leaves and flowers upon Radha’s body with tilaka.
3. ABHISARA SEVA: The sakhis and I arrange for Prema-mayi’s rendezvous with Priyatama Shyama by helping Her sneak out of the house. I follow anxious Madhavi, and carry various articles for Radha’s worship, comfort, and for Her to offer to Sri Krishna.
4. KUNJA DECORATING SEVA: I comfort Kunja-vilasini as She anxiously waits in the Sanket Kunja. When Vrinda-devi takes Sriji out to see the splendor of the groves surrounding the bower, I quickly decorate the kunja with flower garlands, scented pollen, burning incense, etc.
5. BRINGING KRISHNA SEVA: After Nandulala sneaks out of His palace in Nandishvara, I meet Him on the footpath and bring Him to Nilambari. By this seva, I enable the Playful Pair to experience the ecstatic bliss of meeting.
VIII. NISHA LILA 10.48 p.m.—3.36 a.m. LATE NIGHT SEVAS
1. DARSHANA SEVA: I lovingly behold Radha-Madhava as They meet in the forest in a most astonishing manner.
2. CHASTIZING SEVA: I chastise Manohara when He is too aggressive in dealing with Madana-mohini.
3. VANA BIHARA SEVAS: While following Them, I gently fan and sprinkle fragrant flowers on Yugala Rasika-vara as They ramble through the forest. I also entertain Lila Yugala with praises in self-composed songs. I point out the wonders of the midnight forest, and decorate Radha-Damodara with beautiful flowers when They sit down to rest.
4. DARSHANA SEVA: Upon arriving on the Yamuna bank, I marvel at how the splendorous moonlight is enhancing the beauty and sweetness of the rasa-dance as it begins so wonderfully.
5. HEARING SEVA: I relish the soothing sweetness of Rasa-vilasini’s anklets and waist-bells jingling along with the enchanting melodies of Shyama’s murali and Her own sweet playing of the vina. As Radha-Madhava sing a duet, my mind melts in the sweetness of Their melodies.
7. DARSHANA SEVA: In great amazement and appreciation, I admire the sweetness of Radha Rasabihariji’s blissful dancing in the center of the rasa-mandala.
8. FLUTE SEVA: When Muralidhara’s flute slips out His dhoti while dancing, I immediately follow Hrimati’s hint and hide under my dress.
9. STRUGGLING SEVA: I enjoy the fun as Shyama Nagara struggles with me and the sakhis while attempting to retrieve His flute. Laughing and giggling, I toss the flute from gopi to gopi as Ghanasyama searches each gopika.
10. RASA DANCE SEVA: To increase the ecstatic bliss of Rasika Yugala, I also dance, sing, and play musical instruments along with the other gopis.
11. COMFORT SEVAS: To alleviate Navina Yugala’s fatigue from rasa dancing, I serve Them rose-scented cool water, tasty betel nuts and flower garlands. Then I smear Radha-Shyama’s sweat-drenched limbs with sandalwood paste, massage Their lotus feet and fan Them with cooling breezes.
12. BHOGA SEVA: As Radha-Gopinatha rest, I join the manjaris to pick ripe, juicy forest fruits. Sitting on the veranda outside the bower house, I cut the fruits into bite-sized pieces, arrange them attractively on a golden tray and bring it inside the bower house. While serving the fruits and special sweets I made earlier with Radha, my bumblebee eyes dance with joy.
13. PRASADI SEVA: Afterwards, I happily serve Govinda-sundara’s remnants to Shyameshvari and Her sakhis. Then in great bliss, I relish Vinodini-rai’s remnants.
14. KUNJA SEVA: I thrill with joy upon seeing Radha-Gokulananda laughing and joking happily together with Their sakhis. When Radha-Vinodilala enjoy amorous delights, I serve Them fresh betel nuts and render other services. Along with other maidservants, I relish immense bliss as my ears drink the sweet nectar of Radha-Madana Gopala’s rasa-laden love talks.
15. SLEEPING SEVA: Seeing it’s time, I lay Radhika-Shyamaraya down on a beautifully designed, fragrant flower bed I prepared earlier. And then gently fan the tired Yugala Rasika, offer chilled water and other relaxing sevas.
16. RESTING SEVA: After Radha Pyare-mohana drift off to sleep, I enter a separate grove with my group of manjaris and take a brief nap. (adapted, list of Sri Dasaratha-suta Dasji)

Manjaris’ blissful asta-kaliya-lila sevas ki jai! Japa Mini Meditations ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

These amazingly sweet and charming nectar-filled verses will carry you into the realm of Srimati Radharani’s eternal seva. The original Sanskrit verses of Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi by Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati are all incomparably beautiful and worthy of remembrance.

However, since most people cannot memorize Sanskrit verses, we have presented mostly just the English translations. These verses paint wonderful lila pictures for meditation on Radha Krishna’s Vrajalilas. And most importantly, they will help a sadhaka to adopt the feelings and sentiments, gopi-bhava, of a dasi of Sri Radha. The verses have titles to facilitate their remembrance.

Verse 191 Manjari Protects Radhika
O Radhe! When will I follow You down the road and fully enchant You and Your rasika lover by pushing Krishna away from You while saying, “O most shameless boy! Don’t come anywhere near my dear friend, who becomes enchanted like a little girl whenever You simply touch the borders of Her breasts!”

Verse 208 Manjari Protects Radhika
O Radhike! When will I hide the signs of Your amorous union with Krishna from Your cruel superiors by saying, “My sakhi was picking flowers far away from here, and on the way back Radha’s breasts were scratched by the thorns, Her tilaka was washed off Her forehead from sweating, and Her lips were bruised by the cold wind!”

Verse 213 Sleeping Manjari
When will I somehow fall asleep at the end of Your flowerbed while I am softly massaging Your lotus-feet, padambhoja -samvahanani -shayyante -patita -prapta -tandra -bhaveyam?

Verse 219Manjari Helps Krishna
O Pranayini Radhe! When You are angry with Krishna, He falls at my feet, holding a straw between His teeth, and prays to me with many pitiful words. Krishna constantly follows me to ask me to arrange a meeting with You. O Radhe! I am tired of this, so now I submit Krishna’s plea to You.

Verse 224 Manjari’s Humor
O Vrshabhanu-nandini! When will I tell Your Priyatama, “O Gopendra-kumara! Don’t vainly make such proud jokes over here! With great difficulty You held one Govardhana Hill on Your hand. But as soon as You even see Sri Radha’s two golden mountains You become afraid, sri -radha -hema -shaila -yugale -drshte -bhayam!

Verse 243 Radha Teaches Manjaris
When will my Ishvari Radha engage me in serving Her Praneshvara Sri Krishna in the solitary places of Vrindavan by teaching me how to string flower garlands, grind sandal paste, make wonderful sweet-balls, and sweep the kunja?

Verse 246 Krishna’s Bewilderment
May Sri Radha’s smile protect us when Radha smiles upon seeing Hari marveling at His own form reflected in Radha’s shining golden breasts. At that time, Krishna says, “O Radha! I see two beautiful boys in Your breasts! Their luster steals the glories of hosts of blue lotus-flowers! I am completely enchanted by their forms. Please make Me Your girlfriend, so that we two girls can tightly embrace these two boys!”

Verse 247 Radha’s Bewilderment
O Radhike! When at the very beginning of Your love festival will I hear You sarcastically tell Shyam, “O Nitigya! (knower of morality) Stay away from Me!”
Then I will watch You push away Krishna’s hand before You storm out of the kunja to go angrily lament with tear-filled eyes to Your sakhi’s that You just saw Krishna with another sakhi. Although it was actually Your own sweet form seen in Krishna’s Kaustubha gem.

Verse 259 Radha: Aim of Sadhana
I always meditate on Krishna wearing a crown of peacock-feathers. I always sing Krishna’s name in sankirtana. I always serve Krishna’s murti, and repeat His best of mantras, Gopala-mantra. During all these activities, however I am holding in my heart the desire to attain the supremely cherished service of Sri Radha’s lotus-feet.

Verse 267 Manjari Darshan
When will I, in a body maddened by ecstatic love, live in Vrindavan, that purifying, effulgent, and most amazing rasika abode that witnesses Sri Radha’s artful loving pastimes? And when will I clearly see my divine spiritual form, eyes, ears and so on that is just suitable for serving Radha Krishna in the effulgent kunjas?
Manjari meditations ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

These amazingly sweet and charming nectar-filled verses will carry you into the realm of Srimati Radharani’s eternal seva. The original Sanskrit verses of Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi by Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati are all incomparably beautiful and worthy of remembrance.

However, since most people cannot memorize Sanskrit verses, we have presented mostly just the English translations. These verses paint wonderful lila pictures for meditation on Radha Krishna’s Vraja lilas. And most importantly, they will help a sadhaka to adopt the feelings and sentiments, gopi-bhava, of a dasi of Sri Radha. The verses have titles to facilitate their remembrance.

Verse 43 Assisting Radha’s First Tryst

When Vrshabhanunandini is shy and afraid of Her eternal first meeting with the king of debauchees, when will I catch Radha’s lotus hand and eagerly bring Radha to the play-bed of soft fresh sprouts in the sanket-kunja?

Verse 48 Falling in a Pool of Rasa

O Sri Radhika! When will this confidential maidservant of Yours fall into a pool of rasa as I stand by the gate of the kunja, dvara -sthita -rasa -hrade -patita kada -syam, listening to the sweet jingling of Your ornaments mixing with the sweet indistinct sounds of Your love prattles with Krishna at the beginning of Your rasa-festival?

Verse 53 Wearing Radha Prasadi Cloth

When can I see myself as Sri Radhika’s tender kishori wearing Swamini’s prasadi dress and blouse lovingly given to me with Her own hand as I always stand by Radha’s side to expertly serve Her in various ways?

Verse 56 Manjari Tastes Madhurya Rasa

O my Praneshvari Radha! Knowing that I am Your fortunate maidservant, Krishna may softly kiss me, embrace me, and intoxicate me with the wine of eros, surata- madhvya- madayati, showing a wonderful treasure of affection towards me. Even then O Radhe! My mind will always remain absorbed in the rasa-filled pastimes of Your lotus-feet, tavaiva -sri -radhe -pada -rasa -vilase -mama -manah!

Verse 59 Rasa Lila Seva

Nagari Rasikshekhara’s cheeks are moistened with sweat drops of fatigue from Their incomparable dancing during Their amazingly enchanting, laughter-filled Rasa festival. When will I joyfully serve Radha Madhava by massaging Their feet and nicely fanning Them?

Verse 61 Govinda Bows to Radha

Govinda experiences a festival of rasa by bowing down and touching the lotus feet of Radha, pada-sparsha -rasotsavam -pranatibhir -govindam, who is Krishna’s only giver of rasa, rasaikadayini.

Verse 63 Confidential Seva to Radha

When will Sri Radha order me to accompany Her and tell Nandanandan, after He repeatedly hints to Radha with His glances, which She seemingly rejects while yet indicating a beautiful trysting-place to Krishna, “O king of cheaters! My Ishvari Radha will not go alone into that solitary grove of Kadamba-trees because She is afraid of You!”

Verse 75 Radha Meditation

O Sri Radhe! In my meditation may I always see Your crooked eyebrows, widened eyes, cherry-red lips, sweet smile, full breasts, thin waist, wide hips, soft body, slow elegant steps, and the stunned condition Your rasika heart.

Verse 87 Manjaris Relish Radha’s Prasad

When will I submerge in ever-new, ecstatic blissful rasa by repeatedly chewing the sweeter than sweet remnants of Sri Radha, which are the essence of nectar?

sri -radhaya -madhura madhur -occhishta -piyusha -saram
bhojam -bhojam -nava -nava -rasananda -magnah -kada -syam

Verse 144 Siddhis Roll at Manjari’s Feet

Millions of amazing siddhis roll at the feet of Sri Radha’s maidservants, sri – radha -kinkarinam -luthati -caranayor -adbhuta -siddhi -kotih!

Verse 156 Radha’s Motherly Affection

When will Radha relish Krishna’s prasadi tambula, and then put it into my mouth to show Her motherly affection, dasi-vatsala, to me?

Verse 166 Fanning Seva

When on the terrace of a bower house of fresh creepers on the bank of the Yamuna will I fan Radha Murari in such a way that They blissfully close Their eyes while enjoying the incomparably cool breeze?

Verse 180 Nikunja Prasad

When will I enter the nikunja in the morning to sweep it, and then decorate myself with the prasadi kajal, camphor, musk, and sandalwood paste from Radha Madhava’s love bed that fell off Their divine bodies at the beginning of Their wonderful love-play? And when will I restring and wear Their broken garlands?

Manjari Meditations ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!