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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

To progress nicely in Radha-Krishna bhakti -bhajan, we offer the following ideas for your daily remembrance and practice, sadhana -abhyasa. For most Gaudiya Vaisnavas this is the essence of SAMBANDHA and PRAYOJANA i.e. the foundation and goal of Radha-Krishna bhakti bhajan.

Our Eternal Identity

** By nature every jivatma (you) is an eternal servant, part and parcel of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

** As Gaudiya Vaisnavas we are Radha-Govinda Yugala -upasakas, which means that here every day, and forever in Vraja Gokula, we will worship Radha and Krishna in the keli -kunjas, divine play groves of Sridhama Vrndavana in Goloka—the spiritual sky.

** My Sthayi-rati (permanent mood of loving attachment to Bhagavan Sri Krishna.)

Of the five Vraja rasas or ratis, we possess and serve Sri Krishna in the topmost form of madhurya-rati (divinely ecstatic amorous love), with the same parakiya bhava that Srimati Radharani and all Her confidential sakhis like Lalita, Visakha and Tulasi-manjari feel toward Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

** We are eternal loving maidservants (manjaris/dasis/kinkaris) of Srimati Radharani, following the moods and sevas of Her other manjaris like Sri Rupa and Tulasi manjaris.

** For Sri Radhika’s happiness, in our daily reading and meditation, we offer one specific seva (which we cherish most), and a variety of other tasteful services to please Swamini Radha throughout the day and night, asta-kaliya lila.

** Upon attaining Radha-Govinda prema, we will leave this maya jagat, samsara, once and for all, and go directly to Radha-Govinda Yugala’s pastimes in Bhauma Vrndavana.

** Then Srimati Herself and Her dearest companions like Visakha sakhi, Tulasi-manjari, Guru manjari and param-guru manjari will personally train us in perfect sevas, and all the nuances and advanced feelings beyond Krishna prema i.e sneha, maan, pranaya, raga, anuraga, bhava and MAHABHAVA.

** Our hearts and bodies have now become perfect (siddha-deha/siddha-bhava)—complete and immaculate divine spiritual beings.

** Upon concluding Their prakata lila in Bhauma Vrndavana, Radha-Govinda Yugala, all Their eternal associates (nitya-siddhas), and all Their sadhana-siddha dasi manjaris (us) will go directly to Goloka Vrndavana in the spiritual sky to eternally serve Radha-Krishna in the ever-fresh, beautiful and natural play land of loving happiness—Sridhama Vrndavana.

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Sri Vraja Dhama ki jai!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Abhimana means the mentality, attitude, thought, self-conception, inner feeling, or the innate sense of knowing who or what I am and what I want. Abhimana can be either material or spiritual.

Possessing the right attitude (abhimana), mentality and heart is the foundation of success in bhakti sadhana. It’s not about numbers, fasts, vratas and big quantities, it’s about QUALITY. Bhakti means being pure-minded, tender-hearted, and doing everything to please Radha and Krishna. Having the right abhimana (mentality, self-esteem) is so important and powerful that just by this one attains spiritual perfection!

Sri Jiva Goswami confirms: “Even without any spiritual practice, by this attitude (abhimana) alone [that I am Krishna’s eternal servant] one attains spiritual perfection, astu tavad bhajana prayasah kevala tadrshatv abhimanenapi siddhir bhavati. (Bhakti S. 304.2) The Upanisads say, “The soul is neither male, female, nor neuter. It attains a body according to its absorption in a particular thought, naiva stri na puman esa, na caivayam napumsakah, yad yac chariram adatte, tena tena sah rakshyate.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 5.9.10)

A basic spiritual abhimana is having the self-conceit and feeling that I am Krishna’s eternal servant. A more developed sense of abhimana will give one the idea that I am an eternal maidservant of Srimati Radharani.

For example, a genuine devotee with shishya-abhimana, the attitude of a disciple, will think, “In this world, Gurudeva is my only true friend, wisdom guide, companion and ever-well wisher. And for time eternal I will lovingly serve my Gurudeva. Gurudeva is very dear to Sri Sri Radha Govinda and Their sakhis and manjaris. I pray to be eternally engaged in the seva of my Guru’s lotus feet.”

For a raganuga bhakta the best example of spiritual abhimana is Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami who was fully immersed in the abhimana or self-conceit of identifying as Radhika’s manjari.

Wetting the vraja-dhuli with his tears of separation, Dasa Goswami continually lamented in separation from his Swamini while praying, “O Radhika, I have nothing and no one but You. You are my everything and I am Your dasi. Although I am totally insignificant, please know it clearly that I am Yours, I am Yours!”

Here’s a wonderful example of transcendental abhimana in the kingdom of Vrindavana. One day after Krishna left Vraja, a clever sakhi, noticing the blossoming beauty of her younger sister, spoke to her in a private place just to test her: “O sakhi, our Krishna has now left Vrindavana. I see that your youthful beauty and other qualities are now developing. And Vraja is full of handsome dashing young lads. So if you want to marry one, just whisper your preference and I’ll make all arrangements.”

“What are you saying?” said the youthful kishori. “Surely there are millions of talented and qualified young men in this world. But I don’t care! If a young man does not have a mor mukuta, a murali, and mineral powders adorning his form then he is as insignificant as a piece of straw, and I could care less.” This is the abhimana of a kishori gopi.

The bhava and thoughts we cultivate and the sevas we meditate upon during sadhana will be attained at the stage of perfection. A raganuga bhakta should continually meditate on being Radha’s kinkari, loyal loving servant.

The following prayer of Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati shows the intimacy and sweetness of having sakhi abhimana and being close to Priyaji: “When will I eternally live with Kishori jeu and serve Her in various clever ways while wearing Radha’s cloth and bodice that She lovingly gave me with Her own hands, prasadam svaminyah svakara-tala-dattam pranayatah?” (Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi 53)

In this regard, Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura gives very clear advice on how to cultivate spiritual abhimana in raganuga bhakti.

One aspiring for manjari bhava on the path of raga should think, feel and hanker like this: “I will follow the manjaris of Radhika, and by their mercy I will blissfully serve Radha-Krishna in the kunjas of Vrindavana. Just by seeing the gestures of my guru sakhi or Tulasi-manjari, I will understand what seva is required for the pleasure of Lila Yugala.

“I will immerse my mind and heart in the beauty, charm and sweetness of Radha Govinda Yugala. I will live amongst Their intimate sakhis and serve Radha and Krishna with all my heart throughout the day and night. No matter what happens to me, I will always meditate upon and serve Radha-Krishna.

“By Their mercy, I will eventually realize and see the siddha deha upon which I was meditating on during my sadhana. It is only a matter of time. For what is now unripe during my sadhana will fully ripen when I attain the stage of prema. This is the way of bhajana for those treading the path of raga. (Prema-bhakti-candrika 53-58)

By the grace of Sri Guru a mature sadhaka will be introduced to his/her eternal identity (nitya-abhimana). Then that fortunate sadhaka will start identifying with that siddha svarupa, one’s eternal, seva-saturated spiritual form.

By regularly contemplating that siddha deha and mentally serving Radha and Krishna in that form, the sadhaka will one day have the crystal clear realization that, “I am nothing but a servant of the servants of the servants of Srimati Radharani, radha dasi dasi anudasi!

What could be more fascinating and wonderful than thinking that someday I will become a most trusted, confidential serving girl of Srimati Radharani? May everyone someday receive this great treasure of possessing the pure abhimana of a being Radha’s eternal servant.

Gopi abhimana ki jai! Sri Radha’s eternal seva ki jai!

Mahanidhi Swami

For the last thirty years, we have often heard the following false statements and misconceptions regarding the topic of raganuga-bhakti from the leaders and followers of various spiritual missions.

By quoting Gaudiya Vaisnava shastra, this post will remove these misconceptions and establish the truth and real facts about the practice of raganuga-bhakti. The misconceptions will be followed by the truth and correct conception.

LIST OF POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS ON RAGANUGA BHAKTI

  1. MISCONCEPTION: “You have to be a pure devotee or be a very advanced devotee to practice raganuga-bhakti.”

TRUTH: Wrong! Vaidhi bhakti and raganuga-bhakti are two parallel paths of sadhana bhakti. Practice of either path can begin at the stage of anartha nivrtti. Both paths progress through the stages of anartha nivrtti, nishtha, ruchi, asakti and culminate in prema. However, the prema perfection of vaidhi sadhana takes one to Vaikuntha or to the majestic, formal realm of Goloka, a vaibhava expansion Goloka Vrindavana. Whereas, the prema perfection of raganuga sadhana immerses one in the intimately sweet madhurya-lila seva of Radha-Govinda Yugala in Gokula Vrindavana, the topmost plane of spiritual attainment.

Shastra Proof: Vaidhi bhakti and raganuga-bhakti are two parallel paths of sadhana bhakti. (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.5) Vaidhi sadhakas attain Goloka not Gokula Vrindavana. (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.303, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti tika; and Raga Vartma Chandrika 1.12)

yeṣāṁ tu vṛndāvane rādhā-kṛṣṇayor mādhuryāsvādane ‘bhilāṣaḥ athaca nyāsa mudrādi vaidhī mārgānusāreṇa bhajanaṁ teṣāṁ dvārakāyāṁ na rukmiṇī-kāntasya prāptis tatrābhilāṣābhāvāt. na vā vṛndāvane śrī rādhā-kṛṣṇayoḥ prāptiḥ rāga mārgeṇa bhajanābhāvāt. tasmāt teṣāṁ vidhi mārgeṇa bhajana kāryasya aiśvarya-jnānasya prādhānyaṁ yatra yathābhūtasya śrī vṛndā-vanasyāṁśe goloke śrī rādhā-kṛṣṇayoḥ prāptiḥ na tu śuddha mādhuryamaye vṛndāvane iti jneyam.

  1. MISCONCEPTION: “O, Prabhu, You are not qualified for practicing raganuga-bhakti sadhana.”

In this regard, we once heard a Guru address an audience of 100 disciples: “None of you are qualified to practice raganuga-bhakti. So don’t even think about it or reading anything about this. Just do your service!”

TRUTH: First of all, such statements are made because of personal interest or mission maintenance considerations. Secondly, how can anyone generically judge the content of another devotee’s attraction to Krishna, or the sweetness one feels in his/her heart regarding Radha-Govinda Yugala? The practice of raganuga-bhakti sadhana has nothing to do with age, gender, ashram, spiritual experience, titles or posts.

According to Sri Rupa Gosvami, if one’s mind and senses become even slightly attracted to and interested in seeing the beautiful murtis of the stunningly gorgeous Radhe-Shyama or Sri Sri Radha Raman or, or if one feels a sweet feeling of loving attraction in his/her heart after hearing the astonishing Vraja madhurya lila katha of Radha-Krishna and Their sakhi manjaris—then one is qualified to begin and to practice raganuga-bhakti sadhana.

In other words, qualification is based on one’s individual taste, attraction and the sweetness one experiences by living in Sri Vraja Dhama, worshiping and seeing Radhe-Shyama, and hearing/reading the Vraja lilas (especially asta-kaliya-lila) of Radha-Madhava and the gopis.

Shastra Proof: “Those who develop longing for the bhāva of the gopīs after seeing the sweetness in the deity of Krishna and the gopīs, or after hearing about His pastimes with the gopīs, are qualified for sādhana of either of these types of kāmānuga-bhakti [i.e. raganuga-bhakti sadhana following the gopis and manjari of Vraja]. The Padma Purāṇa says gender does not matter, so even men can attain the bhakti of the Vraja gopis.” (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.300)

śrī-mūrter mādhurīṁ prekṣya, tat-tal-līlāṁ niśamya vā
tad-bhāv ākāṇkṣiṇo ye syus, teṣu sādhana tānayoḥ
purāṇe śruyate pādme, puṁsam api bhaved iyam

Sri Jiva Goswamipada said, “When one REALIZES TO SOME DEGREE the sweetness of the love and activities of Sri Krishna’s eternal Vrajavasi associates through hearing from the scriptures such as Bhāgavatam, which describe these siddha devotees, his/her intelligence may develop disregard for the injunctions of scripture (śāstram) and logic (yuktim), though logic is certainly employed.” (tika Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.292)

  1. MISCONCEPTION: “In raganuga-bhakti sadhana there are no rules, so you just follow your ‘bhava’ and serve Radha and Krishna according to your liking.”

TRUTH: Again, totally wrong! A raganuga-bhakti sadhaka FOLLOWS ALL THE RULES AND REGULATIONS of vaidhi sadhana plus more. Yes, a raganuga sadhaka rises by 4 a.m; attends mangala aratika; chants 16 rounds minimum; studies Srimad Bhagavatam and Goswami granthas; travels and preaches; distributes audios, videos, posts and books; follows the 4 regulative principles; daily bathes twice/thrice; only eats Krishna prasadam; wears devotional clothes…and so on.

In Raga Vartma Chandrika, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti has clarified this point by saying, “A raganuga-bhakti sadhaka follows all the rules of vaidhi bhakti except the following [which today practically no one does anyway]:

1) Read & Meditate upon Sri Krishna’s Dvaraka lila (dvaraka-dhyana);

2) Worship the Dvaraka Queens (mahishi-puja);

3) Use mudras in puja;

4) Do nyasa to purify body;

5) Think, “I am Krishna” “Radha” or such and such istadevata (ahamgrahopasana)

Shastra Proof: (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.296 tika of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti; and Raga Vartma Chandrika)

  1. MISCONCEPTION: “If the members of the mission start practicing raganuga-bhakti, no one will preach anymore and the mission will collapse.”

TRUTH: Again, wrong! As previously said, many famous raganuga sadhakas are also preaching worldwide, printing and distributing books and lecturing on Krishna consciousness.

Raganuga bhakti is a private, internal practice based one’s raga or personal attraction toward Sri Krishna and His eternal Vrindavana associates in a particular way. Just like a husband externally works hard to maintain his family while simultaneously internally deepening his love and commitment to his wife and children. The outreach practices of preaching, traveling and training disciples can easily go on side by side with raganuga-bhakti sadhana.

Shastra Proof: Raganuga-bhakti like vaidhi bhakti is a sadhana, a daily practice leading to spiritual perfection. (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.5)

Raganuga-bhakti sadhana ki jai! Manjari bhava ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

You and I, and all the fortunate GaudiyaVaisnavas are worshipers of Prema Purusottama Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Gauranga’s mission on earth was to give pure love of God, Krishna prema, and all the bliss it brings to one and all without discrimination.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada states most the coveted goal of love divine can easily be achieved by mercy, meditation, singing, sanga, residence and humility:

  1. Mercy: the main cause of attaining prema is Krishna’s mercy (nidanam param Krishna karuna)
  2. Meditation: on Radha-Krishna’s Vraja pastimes (vraja krida dhyana).
  3. Singing: about Radha-Krishna’s Vraja pastimes (vraja krida gana).
  4. Association: with premi-bhaktas (rasa loka sanga).
  5. Residence: alone in a Vrindavana Radha-Krishna pastime place (priya krida vana, rahah nivasa).
  6. Humility: always cultivate the utmost humility in thoughts, words and actions.
    (Brhad-Bhagavatamrta II 5.215-223)

Krishna prema ki jai! Radha-Krishna ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

There are two distinct paths of sadhana bhakti: vidhi-marga and raga-marga, the paths of rules and passionate drive. Externally both observe the same practices i.e. hearing, chanting, remembering and worshiping Sri Krishna. Since both paths follow the same external practices, it is hard to differentiate between a vaidhi bhakta and a raganugiya bhakta. The difference is in the inner drive to act and practice sadhana. Thus it is the impetus that determines the path: vaidhi or raganuga.

On the path of raga, passionate drive, one’s spiritual greed creates a great inner hankering that propels one toward to the goal of attaining the same loving feelings and services as Krishna beloveds in Vraja. In vidhi-marga, one acts because of the fear of punishment or the sense of duty and acceptance of scriptural edict.

Perfection in vidhi-marga means attaining Vaikuntha and serving Sri Krishna in a mood of formality and majesty. Perfection in raga-marga takes one to Vraja-dhama and the intimate sweet personal service of Radha Govinda Yugala with the mood (manjari bhava), form and seva of a handmaiden of Srimati Radharani.

Beside the shared practices with vidhi-marga, raga-marga features a unique internal world of practice—mental service and meditation. Internally, one cultivates a specific divine loving emotion that ultimately gives realization and vision of one’s eternal spiritual body (siddha-svarupa) suited for Radha-Govinda’s direct service in Vraja.

The path of raganuga bhakti has two stages: unborn taste and awakened taste, ajata-ruci and jata-ruci. Unborn taste is the beginning stage when one is keenly interested in reading and hearing about Radha-Krishna and the gopis in Vraja. However, a mature, burning desire to serve Radha-Krishna as a gopi has not yet appeared. At this stage, one’s practice of raganuga-sadhana is a mixture of raganuga and vaidhi as far as one’s impetus is concerned.

In the second stage, jata-ruci, one feels a deep, overwhelming taste for both the practice and the goal of raganuga sadhana bhakti. This is raganuga proper in the sense that one is following (anuga) his powerful desires (raga) to attain gopi-bhava and Sri Radha’s eternal service. Besides a keen interest to read and hear Radha-Krishna topics, the jata-ruci sadhaka is spontaneously and constantly pushed forward simply by the power of his intense desire: “I must attain gopi-bhava and the eternal service of Srimati Radharani in this very lifetime!”

Manjari Bhava Upasakas ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By:Mahanidhi Swami

Just imagine how spiritually advanced we would be if every day we utilized just one-fourth of the energy we expend to maintain our families, to engage in spiritual practices? By doing this we would surely attain a solid foundation in pure devotion to Radha-Krishna. But as married folks where do we get the power to be determined and push on forcefully in sadhana?

Super strength comes from one’s daily personal bhajana and sadhu-sanga. By this combination you will attain two freedoms. You’ll get free from the illusion that “I am the doer”, and you’ll get free from the stranglehold of household attachments.

And by this, something very special called “Vraja Vision” will also gradually arise in your heart to give you a totally new outlook to life. “Vraja Vision” means to start seeing your wife, children and family members as persons meant for Sri Krishna’s pleasure, and to stop seeing them as objects for your personal enjoyment.

Turn your “home sweet home” into Krishna’s sweet serving temple by keeping Sri Krishna in the center of your heart, mind and actions. When you come home at night, you should think you’re entering your temple to serve your beloved Thakurji Sri Krishna. Then engage all and arrange everything for the Lord’s happiness and see the result!

Lastly, here’s a reminder of some essential DAILY TEACHINGS for family folks or anyone desiring spiritual perfection in this lifetime:

1) Continually cultivate DEP: determination, enthusiasm, and patience

in your daily sadhana of hearing and chanting about Gaura Radha Govinda Yugala.

2) Always avoid gossip and bad folks.

3) Heartfully serve Sri Hari, Sri Guru and Vaisnavas.

4) Chant Sri Harinama with purity of purpose and intensity of feelings.

5) Associate with saintly people.

6) Hear the sweet pastimes of Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Radha-Shyamasundara.

Gaura-Vishnupriya ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

This is the last article in our series of articles on Sri Guru and Mantra Tattva, offered in glorification of Srila Vyasadeva and all divine preceptors on the most auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima.

Here we will discuss the meaning of attaining siddhi, or perfection in chanting one’s diksha mantras. Of course, we should always try our best in all our sadhana practices. And at the same time, we must always remember that ultimately the desirable result and perfection will come only by the mercy of Sri Guru and Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

There is no restriction regarding the number of times one can chant his diksa mantras. Vedic scriptures suggest chanting the Gopala or Krishna mantra and Kama Gayatri 108 times to get the best result. Some Gurus prescribe chanting each mantra thirty-two times, twenty eight, ten times each, or even many rounds of special mantras like Kama Gayatri.

The main point is to regularly, without fail, chant your diksa mantras the number of times requested by your spiritual master. There is no bar, however, to chanting more if time permits. In this regard, Srila Prabhupada once said we should chant a minimum of sixteen rounds on the japa beads and unlimited rounds off the beads. Kirtaniya sada harih!

According to mantra sastras, mantra-siddhi (perfection in a particular Vedic or pancaratrika mantra) can be attained by chanting it one thousand times the number of syllables in the mantra. For example, you can attain perfection in the eighteen-syllable Gopala-mantra by chanting it 18,000 times; the twenty-four syllable Kama-gayatri by chanting it 24,000 times, and so on. The Hare Krishna maha-mantra, however, is independent of this concept, for even one pure recitation of Hare Krishna can give the highest perfection of pure love of God.

What does it mean to attain mantra-siddhi? It means one gets perfection in that particular mantra, and quickly receive the benefits or fruits of that mantra. Generally, siddhi means obtaining whatever the mantra offers. For example, Hanuman mantra-siddhi gives darshana of Hanuman and benedictions such as strength.

The Brahmanda Purana provides another example of mantra-siddhi: “Reciting the Nrsimha Kavaca 32,000 times with a purified heart grants the most auspicious of all auspicious things. Material enjoyment and liberation are understood to be already available to such a person.”

Lord Brahma himself achieved mantra-siddhi after chanting the Gopala-mantra thousands of times. He attained the perfection of hearing Krishna’s transcendental flute. Then in his trance of meditation, Brahma saw Lord Govinda and the spiritual world of Goloka Vrndavana.

Mantras are extremely powerful and can award desired boons, benedictions, powers and perfections. But such attainments are not appreciated by devotees aspiring for the unalloyed service of Radha and Krishna in the pleasure groves of Vrindavana.

Our beloved prema avatara, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, taught us to desire only one perfection, namely Radha-Madhava’s nitya-seva birth after birth.

Setting the direction and perfection for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Gauranga Mahaprabhu prayed, “O My beloved Lord Sri Krishna! I only want to serve You birth after birth without any motivation or cessation.”

This is the final perfection to be attained by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and one’s diksa mantras. Krishna’s devotees are always eager to chant, meditate upon and serve Their sweet and merciful Radha and Krishna.

Thus we continually chant and serve the Divine Playful Pair, Radha Govinda Yugala, knowing that Sri Guru and Sri Krishna will arrange everything we need to attain Vraja prema bhakti. Indeed, there is no greater perfection or mantra siddhi then this attainable in all the three worlds!

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Radha-Shyamasundara nitya prema seva ki jai!

Om tat sat!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!