Posts

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.

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

SRI GURU GIVES THE SIDDHA DEHA

The reception of a disciple’s eternal transcendental form, siddha deha, begins with receiving a siddha bhava from Sri Guru at the time of diksha.

The Guru’s individual siddha bhava i.e. one’s eternal fixed loving relationship with Sri Krishna (sthayi-rati) is hidden within the Gopal and Kama-gayatri mantras Sri Guru gives at the time of diksha. Sri Sanatana Goswami confirms the non-difference of Sri Guru and the diksha mantras:

yo- mantra -sa -guruh -sakshad -yo -guruh -sa -harih -svayam

Sri Brahmaji said (Vaman Kalpa), “The diksha mantra is identical to the Guru and the Guru is identical to Bhagavan Sri Hari Himself.” (Bhakti Sandarbha 237: Hari Bhakti Vilasa 4.353). Thus by chanting the diksha mantas, the sincere disciple gradually develops the same sthayi-rati, siddha bhava, as that of Sri Guru.

Right at the time of diksha, the Guru may give a siddha deha to an exceptionally qualified disciple. But usually this is done after some time. One can think that the following direct words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu indicate receiving a siddha deha from Sri Guru at the time of diksha:

diksha -kale -bhakta -kare -atma-samarpana
sei-kale –krishna -tare -kare atma-sama

“At the time diksha, when a disciple fully surrenders to Sri Guru, Sri Krishna accepts the disciple and makes one as spiritual as Himself.”

Mahaprabhu further says:

sei -deha -kare -tara –cid -ananda-maya
aprakrta-dehe -tanra -carana -bhajaya

“Krishna makes the sadhaka’s body full of transcendental bliss (cid-ananda-maya). Then in one’s spiritual body, siddha deha (aprakrta-deha), one worships the lotus feet of Sri Krishna.”
(Caitanya Caritamrta 3.4.193-4)

In the following verses, Sri Jiva Goswamipada explains how at the time of diksha, the merciful Guru gives divine knowledge of one’s constitutional nature, and special knowledge about the disciple, which many Gurus take to mean revealing the disciple’s siddha deha.

divyam -gyanam -srimati -mantre -bhagavat-svarupa-gyanam,
tena -bhagavata -sambandha-vishesha-gyanam

“At diksha, the Guru gives knowledge of Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s form within a potent mantra, and special knowledge of the disciple’s specific relationship with Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the beautiful mantra Devata.” (Bhakti Sandarbha 283)

In the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, divya gyanam means knowledge of the jiva’s particular relationship with God which is one of eternal service, jivera -svarupa -haya -krishna -nitya-dasa (Caitanya Caritamrta 2.20.108). Knowledge of a specific relationship can mean the sadhaka’s manjari form (siddha deha) with Sri Gopijanavallabha, the mantra Devata.

upasanam -sakshad -vraja-jana-visheshayaiva –mahyam
sri -guru-caranair -mad-abhishta-vishesha-siddhy-artham -upadishtam

“While worshiping the Gopal diksha mantra, I meditate to develop myself as a specific person in Vraja (my siddha deha) that Sri Guru’s lotus feet have instructed me in to attain the specific siddhi I covet.” (Bhakti Sandarbha 312)

In verse 283, Sri Jiva Goswamipada speaks in a general way about Sri Guru giving special knowledge to the disciple. But in verse 312, Sri Jiva Goswamipada tells exactly what is that special knowledge, namely the knowledge of the disciple’s individual siddha deha!

SADHANA BHAJAN IN SIDDHA DEHA

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructs how to practice raganuga bhakti sadhana in siddha deha:

ataeva -gopi-bhava -kari -angikara
ratri-dina -cinte -radha-krishnera -vihara
siddha-dehe –chinti -kare -tahanni -sevana
sakhi-bhave -paya –radha -krishnera -carana

“Certainly, one must accept gopi-bhava, and think of Radha-Krishna’s asta-kaliya lila. Also one must think of doing seva in one’s siddha deha. By this gopi-bhava one will attain the lotus feet of Radha-Krishna.” (Caitanya Caritamrta 2.8.228-9)

KRISHNA MANIFESTS THE SIDDHA DEHA OF YOUR MEDITATION

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Brahmaji describes how Bhagavan Sri Krishna reveals the siddha deha to the raganuga bhakti sadhaka.

yad -yad –dhiya -ta -urugaya -vibhavayanti,
tat -tad -vapuh -pranayase -sad -anugrahaya

Sri Brahmaji said, “O Bhagavan Sri Krishna! You are so merciful to Your devotees that You manifest Yourself in the particular eternal form of transcendence in which they always think of You.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.9.11)

The key words are tat -tad-vapuh, which mean a corresponding body. It can be Krishna’s body or one’s individual spiritual body, siddha deha. Grammatically both are possible and both are explained as such by the tikakaras. Sridhar Swami and Srinatha Chakravarti say it refers to Krishna’s showing a particular form of Himself.

However, in his tika, Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada says that Sri Krishna gives the sadhaka the siddha deha that one has been continually meditating upon.

sva-bhavanurupam -yad-yad-dhiya -bhavayanti,
tat -tad -eva -vapus tesham -siddha-deham,
pranayase –prakarshena -tan –prapayasi

“The sadhaka bhaktas, according to their bhava, meditate on their siddha dehas which Bhagavan Sri Krishna will give them.”

In His final personal teaching to Sri Rupa Goswamipada, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:

bhavite -bhavite -krishna -sphuraye -antare
krishna-kripaya -agya -paya -rasa-sindhu-pare

“Krishna will manifest whatever siddha deha one continually thinks of. And by Krishna’s mercy one will attain the ocean of rasa.” (Caitanya Caritamrta 2.19.236)

Based on the Shastra praman of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Caitanya Caritamrta and the teachings of the Six Goswamis, this post has shown how the combined mercy of Sri Guru and Bhagavan Sri Krishna gives one a siddha deha, eternal spiritual form.

For the last 535 years, the traditional parivars within the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya have been teaching the method of raganuga bhakti sadhana as introduced and personally taught by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to His followers. That system has been presented here.

In summary, one takes diksha from Sri Guru, and receives specific information about one’s individual siddha deha, either immediately during diksha or sometime later according to the will of Sri Guru. The disciple then practices raganuga bhakti sadhana as delineated above by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Then the all-merciful Bhagavan Sri Krishna will kindly give that same siddha deha to the fortunate disciple. Thus the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Krishna work beautifully together to bring one to spiritual perfection.

(shastra insight courtesy of Sri Advaita Dasji)

Sri Krishna kripa ki jai! Sri Guru kripa ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

The following siddha deha (spiritual form) meditation is presented for the blessed few that are spiritually hankering to become loyal maidservants of Srimati Radharani in the bowers of Vrndavana (radha-pada dasis).

Regardless of how one has attained his/her siddha deha, this is an ideal meditation on manjari svarupa i.e. siddha deha. Daily meditating like this will purify one’s material existence (bhuta-suddhi), produce a dynamic divine mentality (divya abhimana), and permanently fix one in their eternal spiritual body, which will be clearly seen in this life at the stage of bhava bhakti. Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

MANJARI SVARUPA MEDITATION

Raganuga sadhakas worshiping in the mood of Madhuri Radha’s maidservants should always think as follows:

“I am a beautiful youthful Vraja kisori (12-14) with a robust form adorned with varieties of gold and jewel ornaments. I am expert in all the 64 artistic talents. When Sri Govinda perceives the secret love I cherish for Him, He becomes overwhelmed with the bliss of Eros.

I know the art of sweet speech and pleasant conversation. My brilliant golden form, adorned in dazzling blue cloth and lovely ornaments, is full of the mellows of transcendental bliss.

I delight in music and singing, and overflow with a unique form of madhura-rati called bhavollasa [special loving attachment to Sri Radhika].

Throughout the day and night my heart is filled with love for Radha-Govinda Yugala. With all my pleasant qualities and various feminine gestures, I arouse feelings of love [within Radha-Madhava].

I am formed from my Guru’s mercy, and I always follow my beloved Guru-devi. Gandharvika Radha is my group leader, and I serve within the party of Visakha-sakhi. As a follower of Srimati Radhika, I live in Yavata, and always think how to serve Radha like the other sakhis in madhura-rati.

I forever remain beside Radha-Krishna as Their graceful tender maidservant fanning Them, dressing Sri Radha, and rendering all kinds of amazing and tasteful sweet sevas for Their satisfaction.

All glories to my eternal Isvari, Swamini Sri Radha and Her infinitely gorgeous Govinda. May Radha-Govinda Yugala always astonish me with Their Vraja madhurya-lilas, and eternally engage me in Their blissful seva.” (adapted Paddhati [83-91], Sri Dhyanacandra Gosvami)

Manjari svarupa dhyana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

The practice of receiving details about one’s eternal, spiritual body or siddha deha i.e. siddha pranali from the spiritual master began 500 years ago in the beginning of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.

Sri Caitanya’s eternal associate Vakresvara Pandit gave siddha pranali to Gopala Guru Gosvami who in turn gave it to Dhyanacandra Goswami. (“Dhyanacandra Paddhati”) Sri Gopal Bhatta Gosvami gave siddha pranali to the famous padakarta, Srinivasa Acarya (“Prema Vilasa” chapter 6)

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada also accepted siddha-pranali from his Guru. In his book, “Sankalpa Kalpadruma”, Cakravartipada mentions the siddha dehas of his Guru and the other members of his lineage as Tulasi-manjari, Ranga-manjari and Prema-manjari.

The three most prominent acarya Gurus in the parampara of IGM (Iskcon/Gaudiya Math)—Jagannatha das Babaji, Sri Gaura Kishora das Babaji, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and also Sri Vamsi das Babaji—ALL RECEIVED SIDDHA PRANALI from their Gurus.

In fact, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura fully endorsed the system of siddha pranali diksa. He gave it to his youngest son, Sri Lalita Prasada Thakura, who in turn gave it to several western disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura clearly describes the practice of receiving siddha pranali diksa from Guru in three of his most famous books, “Harinama Cintamani”, “Jaiva Dharma, and Gitavali, which are very popular with members of IGM.

So how can anyone say receiving siddha pranali from one’s Guru is “bogus” “unauthorized” or “a practice of sahajiyas”?

The phrase siddha-pranali means “siddha” i.e. the spiritual body or siddha deha, and “pranali” means a lineage, channel or line. Siddha-pranali means the line or list of the Gurus in one’s lineage, along with their siddha dehas in Radha-Krishna’s eternal pastimes in Goloka Vrndavana, beginning with the patriarch or founder of one’s individual parivara, which means family or branch of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya like Nityananda Parivara, Advaita Parivara, Gadadhara Parivara, Lokanatha (Narottama), Syamananda etc.

For example, in Krishna lila, Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s eternal transcendental form is Srimati Ananga Manjari, the younger sister of Srimati Radharani. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is Kamala Manjari. In a letter to a disciple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said his manjari siddha deha name in Krishna lila is Nayana-mani manjari.

In the siddha-pranali system, the Guru privately tells a qualified disciple the 11 aspects of his siddha deha known as ekadasa-bhava, which include the disciple’s eternal spiritual name in Krishna lila, age, dress, seva, kunja, mood, sakhi group leader like Laltia or Visakha, and so on. As learned from his own Guru, Sri Guru then teaches the disciple the same method to realize his/her eternal spiritual identity, siddha deha.

One’s pranali includes the siddha deha identities of each Guru in one’s individual parivara. The disciple then meditates on one’s own and their forms while mentally serving Radha-Krishna’s eternal asta-kaliya-lilas in Vraja Dhama.

In “Nectar of Devotion” (chapter 16), Srila Prabhupada says, “The so-called siddha-pranali process is followed by the prakrta sahajiya, a pseudo-sect of so-called Vaisnavas.”

However, if one examines all the evidence given above, one might wonder who are these “sahajiyas” that Srila Prabhupada is talking about? Surely, it can’t mean Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada or any of the famous Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas mentioned above. In fact, the following conversation downloaded from I-net seems to prove that Srila Prabhupada actually approved of the siddha-pranali system, wherein the Guru gives the siddha deha to a qualified disciple.

In 1974, Mayapur ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada had the following most revealing talk with Sri Hrishikesananda das, a scholarly disciple of his who studied Gaudiya Vaisnavism in Vrndavana in the 70s. Today, he lives in Thailand sincerely practicing Krishna consciousness, and lovingly caring for his devotee family.

Srila Prabhupada: What you have learned in Vrndavana?

Hrishikesananda das: Gurudeva, I learned about Krishna’s nitya Vraja lila, siddha-pranali, and asta-kaliya-lila smaranam. Is this alright, Gurudeva?

Srila Prabhupada: YES, but who is siddha?

HD: So, Srila Prabhupada, what about siddha-pranali? How to qualify? Who will give it?

Srila Prabhupada: GURU WILL GIVE [siddha-pranali]. You just chant Hare Krishna.

HD: So how will your disciples receive this eternal information, Gurudeva?

Srila Prabhupada: [repeats] GURU WILL GIVE! There is no material consideration about whether one’s Guru is here or there [in the spiritual sky]. When you reach that level, GURU WILL GIVE.

HD: Gurudeva, manasi-seva, mentally meditating on serving Krishna, is this also bhakti bhajan?

Srila Prabhupada: Krishna makes no distinction [whether you serve in your mind or with your body]. But if you serve Krishna by mind—He will accept. That is sure!

HD: Gurudev, whenever I mention anything about these things to my God brothers, they get angry and say that you never taught that!

Srila Prabhupada: [That’s ok] Everything is coming; they will also know it.

So this is the exact and clear truth about the siddha-pranali process along with supporting facts describing its origin, authenticity and acceptance by all the leading mahajanas of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya beginning with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s eternal associates, the six Gosvamis and contempory Gurus like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Prabhupada.

It is hoped that this knowledge will enlighten everyone regarding the truth about siddha-pranali. Henceforward, may no one malign those sincere devotees practicing this traditional method of sadhana bhajan.

It is certainly unbecoming, unfair, immature, and offensive to wrongly tag or label sincere devotees as “sahajiyas” or “bogus” for following a completely bonafide system of spiritual advancement within the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.

Gaudiya Vaisnava harmony ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

After becoming established in one’s siddha svarupa by the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Krishna, a sadhaka will contemplate his/her personal form, qualities and seva while mentally remembering and serving within Radha-Madhava’s asta-kaliya-lila.

The young girls (12-13 yrs) who personally and very intimately serve Srimati Radharani are called Radha’s dasis, kinkaris, manjaris or simply maidservants. The following description is generic and refers to “You” or anyone among the unlimited handmaidens of Srimati Radhika.

The following passages, taken from Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada’s Vrindavana Mahimamrita, which describe a manjari’s form, feelings, movements and services are very helpful in deepening and culturing the persona of a maidservant of Srimati Radharani.

By reading these, one will see how dynamic, beautiful and exciting it will be when one attains prema, and enters Radha-Krishna pastimes to lovingly serve Them eternally in one’s siddha svarupa as Radhika’s kinkari.

To attain success in manjari meditation, one must completely forget once and for all one’s external body and all false material attachments. By the mercy of Sri Hari and Sri Guru, I have received a spiritual form, siddha svarupa/deha so that I may affectionately and intimately serve Sri Sri Radha-Govinda Yugala in the eternally blissful realm of Sri Vraja Dhama.

Thus to permanently fix my eternal and REAL spiritual identity, I will deeply concentrate, meditate upon and internally visualize my true self as follows. Hear/read the passages very attentively while thinking: “This is the REAL ME—the ETERNAL ME—the EVER BLISSFUL ME!” Try to think of your eternal, individual, transcendental, sac-cid-ananda siddha svarupa as being like this…

“I am a lovely kinkari maidservant of Ishvari Radha, and I have a glistening, pleasing golden complexion and I abound in honey sweetness. I am a fresh maiden adorned with jeweled necklaces and a multicolored blouse.

My arms are beautifully shaped like lotus stems and glorified with bracelets and jeweled armlets. Like a dangling vine, my hair shiny black braid hangs down to My captivating buttocks, and its swinging movements enhance My beauty.

As Radhika’s kinkari (manjari), I have an enchantingly thin waist. A divine silk garment with artistic folds hangs down to My ankles. A fine cloth embroidered with flowers and leaves covers My hair and the sides of My face.

A sweet shy smile plays upon My reddish lips. My glances are light and playful, and My movements are extremely attractive. The amorous affairs of Radha-Madhava Yugala always excite My pure tender heart.

Among my unlimited good qualities, humility and sweet behavior are foremost. Having been personally taught by Radharani, I am now expert in all arts.

I appear especially attractive due to wearing the Playful Pair’s prasadi malas, clothes and ornaments. I regularly relish Radha and Krishna’s astonishingly tasty prasadi pan and betel nut. Being an expert manjari, I immediately know what Radha wants just by a hint or a glance. Radha and Krishna are always very affectionate to me.

I carry whatever is needed for seva i.e. scents, water, garlands, kunkum, pan, cosmetics etc. for Radhe-Shyama’s nightly meetings. As a Radhika kinkari, I constantly taste the sweet madhura rasa arising from Sri Radha’s beautiful form, qualities and pastimes. I remain forever thrilled by remembering Radhika’s intimate affairs with Shyama.

Because I have intense loving affection for Radharani, I am always submerged in an ocean of happiness. In all times, whether I am awake, dreaming or deeply asleep, I desire nothing but Radha’s seva. I know absolutely nothing but Sri Radha sweet lotus feet.

As rivers rush to the sea, I immediately run toward anything even remotely connected with Radha. And I practically die if even a moment passes without Radha. As a shadow follows an object, I am always beside Sri Radha throughout the day and night. My deep attachment to Radha immerses me in the boundless ocean of ecstatic love for Radha.

Sometimes when Kunjeshvari enjoys with Priyatama in a keli-kunja, Radha pulls me onto the flower bed and under the sheets with Her. Ah ha! Just see the intimacy that Srimati showers upon me, Her most fortunate maidservant!

Tasting the bliss of serving Kishori Jeu, I thrill and tremble in ecstasy. My brilliant bodily luster and loveliness enchant everyone as I run from place to place in My anxiety to nicely serve Priya Sundari.

My soothing bodily effulgence beautifies and enriches all ten directions. When I sometimes hear Priya-Priyatama’s secret love talks, I experience inconceivable joy, the utmost happiness and FULL satisfaction. The soothing, nectar-sweet words flowing from the lovely lotus mouth of Srimati Radhika continually dance in waves of joy in My heart. (Vrindavana Mahimamrta 8.17-42)

Sri Radha’s manjari ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe! Manjari Bhava Upasana ki jai! Manjari Sadhana ki jai! Sri Guru ki jai!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

The sadhaka jiva’s eternal spiritual identity, the siddha svarupa or spiritual body is not an imagination because it exists eternally in the spiritual realm, Vaikuntha/Vrndavana. As the material sky is unlimited and has unlimited residents, the spiritual sky is also unlimited with unlimited spiritual bodies.

There are unlimited siddha-dehas suitable to the unlimited types of moods of would-be sadhana siddha devotees. And that spiritual body i.e. siddha dehais revealed to a qualified sadhaka by a qualified guru. Or the siddha dehais given by Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself as the Bhagavata describes regarding Narada Muni, Dhruva Maharaja, Ajamila, Gajendra and Putanarasasi.

Srimad Bhagavatam (3.15.14) says:

vasanti yatra purusah, sarve vaikuntha murtayah,
ye’ nimitta nimittena, dharmen aradhayan harim

“The great liberated persons [sarupya muktas] are residing there eternally [in the spiritual sky]. They all have transcendental Vaikuntha forms [like Visnu], and they worship Hari causelessly.”

In the Krama Sandarbha tika on Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.14, Sri Jiva Goswamipada says:

vaikunthas yeva nitya ananda rupa murtir yesam, te yatra vasanti,

“The liberated souls living in the spiritual world all have eternal, blissful forms like that of Bhagavan Sri Visnu/Krishna in Vaikuntha.”

In the Priti Sandarbha (10) tika on Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.14, Sri Jiva Goswamipada says, “Illuminating the spiritual world, Bhagavan Visnu/Krishna has unlimited spiritual forms that ARE ALL ETERNALLY EXISTING THERE (murtir yas tatra vartante) as expansions of Himself. From these unlimited murtis or transcendental forms, Bhagavan gives or awards one murti i.e. siddha svarupa to each liberated soul. This murti or transcendental form resembles that of Bhagavan Visnu/Krishna.

The siddha deha is not within one’s heart or lying dormant inside of one waiting to rise or wake up. In his tika on Vedanta Sutra (4.4.1),Baladeva Vidyabhusana says that by Bhagavan’s mercy the jiva attains its own, eternally existing svarupa (spiritual body) which is not inherent in it.

Unlike the material body inhabited by the atma, that spiritual body i.e. siddha svarupa is not created at some point in time, nor is it external or different from the atma.

Basically, what happens is that at the devotional stage of bhava or prema, one’s eternally existing spiritual body i.e. siddha deha becomes one with the atma or self. For the liberated soul, sadhana-siddha, there is no longer any duality between the self (atma) and the body. In other words, the atma, self, is the siddha deha and the siddha deha is the atma.

But you may ask, ‘Exactly how is the siddha deha non-different from the jivatma, since the jiva is tatastha-shakti, and spiritual bodies are made of svarupa-shakti i.e. antaranga-sakti i.e. Sri Krishna’s eternal internal energy?’

This is a fine point that exceeds the limits of ordinary material logic. The liberated jiva as tatastha-sakti does not change into svarupa-sakti. The siddha deha is not like the physical body of our experience; it’s a body made of bhava, prema—gopi bhava. Similarly, the divine, transcendental form of Srimati Radharani is made of maha-bhava.

The sadhana siddha or liberated tatastha-saktijiva does not become svarupa-sakti. But it is something like an iron rod made red hot by contact of the fire of svarupa-sakti in the form of prema or gopi-bhava that now constitutes one’s siddha deha or bhava deha.

Imagine if you wear a dress made of flame, would you feel different or one with the flame? Similarly, the liberated tatastha-saktijiva experiences a sense of oneness with Sri Krishna’s svarupa-sakti because of it’s possessing a transcendental body, siddha deha, made of gopi-bhava (hladini-sakti).

WHAT ARE SPIRITUAL BODIES DOING NOW?

What are all those spiritual bodies doing right now in the spiritual sky, Vaikuntha/Vrndavana? Unfortunately, other than the evidence given above, there is NO CLEAR objective answer to this question given either in sastra nor by our Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya acaryas like the six Goswamis, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana or Visvanatha Cakravartipada.

In the absence of adequate sastrapramana, therefore one must resort to yukti i.e. logic, reason and “common sense” to draw one’s own conclusion.

Or one may select what one considers to be the most reasonable answer to this question from among the various subjective views propounded by different spiritual teachers.

Subjective Answers from Transcendental Teachers:

  1. “The spiritual body i.e. siddha deha is in an ‘in inactive state’, because when talking about transcendental things like this, we are severely limited by our language and our experience to clearly convey the situation there.”
  2. “The spiritual body i.e. siddha deha of the liberated soul exists in Vaikunthalike a 3D picture. And it’s activated when it is awarded to a sadhana siddha devotee.”
  3. “Presently, the siddha dehas of the sadhana siddhas are lying dormant in Vaikuntha like statues, clothes hanging on hangers in a closet, or shiny new cars waiting in showroom for the buyer to purchase, put in the key and drive away.”
  4. “Pramana or spiritual truth, siddhanta is based on sastra and also yukti, common sense. The idea of the siddha deha in Vaikuntha being inactive, dormant, frozen in time and “waiting for the right time to be activated” does not make sense to me.

“The Srimad Bhagavatam statement, na ca kala vikramah (2.9.10), and the acaryas’ tikas establish the fact that unlike here in the material world of our experience, there is no linear time in spiritual world.”

“In his tika to Brahma Samhita (56), Sri Jiva Goswamipada says “Very great time periods of billions of years, or even split seconds of time do not exist in the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha or Vrndavana.”

“In the Krama Sandarbha tika on Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.14, quoted above, Sri Jiva Goswamipada uses the word NITYA which means the spiritual body exists eternally in the past, present and future. If the spiritual body is ‘activated’ at some point of time, that would mean it has beginning and thus is not nitya.”

“The idea of the dormant, inactive or still siddha deha is nowhere in sastra, and nor does it make sense (yukti). Presently and eternally in Vaikuntha/Vrndavana the siddha dehas or spiritual bodies of the liberated souls are active. It’s a seamless transfer from death as a perfected premi sadhaka to one’s eternal siddha deha in the spiritual sky, Vaikuntha/Vrndavana.”

“What happens is this: Right here right now on earth, the perfected premi sadhaka is meditating upon and serving in his/her siddha deha, eternal spiritual body. Then at death, that premi bhakta is immediately transferred to Vaikuntha or Vrndavana, and continues serving in that same spiritual body, siddha deha, there in the spiritual realm.”

“Just imagine right here in Radha Kunda, a premi bhakti enters a deep state of meditative samadhi fanning Srimati Radharani in his/her manjari svarupa. Suddenly death comes, then in a flash that premi bhakta, now a sadhana-siddha, continues fanning Srimati Radhika in the spiritual realm in his/her nityasvarupa or eternal siddha deha. Jai Radhe!”

“The Srimad Bhagavatam (1.6.28-29) story of Narada Muni’s death, the immediate attainment of his siddha deha, and his transfer to Vaikuntha gives the proof or praman for this fact. The eternality of the soul’s Vaikuntha/Vrndavana spiritual deha is proven in the vasantiyatrapurusasloka of Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.14.”

“To repeat, no sastras describe closets in Vaikuntha with dormant siddha dehas hanging on hangers; or still not yet inhabited siddha dehas. Sastra clearly say that the sadhakajiva’s siddha deha is eternal, already in the spiritual realm and actively serving Bhagavan Sri Krishna/Visnu.”

“It’s common sense that a fully Krishna conscious, blissful spiritual entity in a spiritual body, i.e. siddha deha, would be lovingly serving Bhagavan. He or she would not just besitting alone in cave of Govardhana Hill—still, inactive, dormant—and hanging around doing nothing.”

“The spiritual world and everyone in it is fully active, dynamic, and eternally blissful. The idea of a “dormant, inactive, not-yet-inhabited eternal body” or siddha deha in Vaikuntha/Vrndavana does not make any sense at all. The only non-inhabited body is a dead material body!”

We have presented the available sastra praman on the topic of “Your Spiritual Body”, and the subjective views of various spiritual wisdom teachers. Now each reader can choose the answer that seems most reasonable and satisfying to his/her intellect. Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

(concept adapted: Sri Satyanarayana Das Babaji, Sri Advaita Dasji, Sri Krishna Dasji)

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

The eternal constitutional nature of every single jiva is to be an eternal servant of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, jivera svarupa haya krishnera nitya dasa (Caitanya-caritamrta 2.22.108). A transcendental body, siddha deha, fit for serving Bhagavan Sri Visnu/Krishna is being kept in the spiritual sky for each jiva.

When by the mercy of Sri Krishna, Sri Guru and pure devotion one becomes qualified for Krishna’s direct seva, Bhagavan Sri Krishna will give one of those spiritual bodies to the sadhaka. The spiritual body, which is called the siddha-svarupa i.e. siddha deha, is given to a qualified sadhaka to practice raganuga bhakti in order to attain Vraja prema and the eternal seva of Radha Govinda Yugala in Goloka Dhama.

While living in the physical body, a raganuga sadhaka concentrates on nama japa and Radha-Krishna asta-kaliya lila smaran. Externally one follows all the rules of vaidhi-bhakti. But internally, in one’s private mental/heart world, the raga bhakta visualizes his/her siddha deha, and meditates upon serving Radha Govinda Yugala with the feelings and bhava of a gopi/manjari.

In the desired spiritual form, one tries to reach the ideal of mentally serving Radha Govinda Yugala throughout the day and night, asta-kaliya lila smarana bhajana. By continual meditation one gradually enters and experiences Krishna’s Vraja lila as it floods one’s inner being with its eternal presence, tasty bliss and fulfillment.

The internally visualized siddha deha is real. It’s a mental reflection of the transcendental body [siddha-svarupa/deha], which Sri Krishna will reveal and one will directly see and experience at the stage of bhava, prema, or at death as in the case of Narada Muni (SB 1.6.28), Dhruva Maharaja, Ajamila, Gajendra and Putana raksasi.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (3.9.11), Sri Brahma says:

yad yad dhiya ta urugaya, vibhava yanti,
tat tad vapuh pranayase, sad anugrahaya

“Bhagavan Sri Krishna is so merciful to His devotees that He gives them the particular spiritual bodies [siddha dehas] upon which they are meditating upon along with the mood of love [bhava; gopi-bhava] that they are cultivating during sadhana.”

In Sri Gita (4.11), Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself promises reciprocation: ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajam yaham, “I respond to persons according to the manner and mood in which they surrender to Me.” In Priti Sandarbha (50), Sri Jiva Goswami confirms this point by quoting Chandogya Upanisad (3.14.1): yatha kratur asmin loke puruso bhavati tathetah pretya bhavati, “According to the way one is determined to worship the Bhagavan Sri Visnu/Krishna in this life, a person attains an appropriate reward after death.”

Your eternal, individual spiritual body can be attained either by assignment as a precious gift from Sri Guru, or by revelation from Bhagavan Sri Krishna via His omnipotent pure Divine Names.

One teacher described the manifestation of the siddha deha that the sadhaka continually meditates upon thus: “One’s eternally existing siddha deha in Vaikuntha/Vrndavana descends into the mind of the meditative raganuga bhakta in a “shadow” form. That siddha deha is eternally existing spiritual realm, but it clearly and fully manifests in the mind at the particular time when a sadhaka attains bhava or prema.”

Bhakta O.B.L Kapoor explains how the raganuga sadhaka attains the spiritual body, siddha deha thus: “The siddha deha or transcendental body of the sadhaka first appears in the mind of the guru, who then reveals its details i.e. name, color, dress, age, personal seva to Radha-Govinda, and so on to the disciple.

“The disciple then forms a mental picture of this siddha deha, identifies fully with it as being one’s eternal spiritual body, and in that form always serves Radha-Govinda in his meditation, lila smarana. This type of meditation will bring success because it’s the nature of the mind is to assume the shape of any object upon which it always dwells. And the Gita (8.6) says; sada tad bhava bhavita, “as you think, so you become.” (adapted “Raganuga Bhakti”)

The Srimad Bhagavatam (11.9.23) confirms the powerful effect of form meditation as in contemplating one’s eternal spiritual body or siddha deha. The Bhagavata describes how a small insect, trapped alive inside a hole by a larger insect, out of fear continually meditated on the form of its predator. Due to this absorption, after death that small insect got the same type of body as the bigger one which it was constantly meditating upon.

In Uddhava-gita (11.15.26), Sri Krishna says, “A sadhaka who has faith in Me (mat parah puman) will obtain whatever he/she desires by devotion to Me, and by fixing the mind on Me because My wish is always fulfilled (satya-sankalpa).”

Pandita Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji describes the process for attaining the spiritual body, siddha deha thus: “While meditating on Krishna’s pastimes, the sadhaka will especially contemplate one’s personal eternal seva to Radha-Krishna as revealed by Sri Guru, and eagerly perform that seva within one’s mind. In addition, one will serve in ALLEGIANCE to the nitya-siddha sakhis and manjaris like Visakha-sakhi and Tulasi-manjari (aka Dasa Gosvami).

“ALLEGIANCE means aligning, identifying and mixing one’s mind and heart, thoughts and feelings, with those of one’s role models i.e. Visakha sakhi or Tulasi manjari. By this method the sadhaka’s bhava i.e. gopi/manjari bhava will develop, deepen and eventually become one with theirs.

“The raganuga sadhaka will surely attain success in his manjari svarupa bhajan because he/she has taken full shelter of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the Absolute Truth personified. Furthermore, the sadhaka gets transcendental power, support and compassionate blessings from bhakti, which is composed of Krishna’s own internal potency, hladini-sakti.

“In this world, the sadhaka will attain siddhi or success in bhajan by receiving the mercy of Sri Guru gained by sincere service. Then in the spiritual realm, by the mercy of one’s guru-rupa manjari, the sadhana siddha will obtain his/her cherished direct seva to Radha-Govinda Yugala in one’s manjari svarupa in the bowers of Vrajadhama. In raganuga bhajan pursuing manjari bhava, this is the way to attain one’s eternal spiritual body, siddha deha.” (adapted “Prema Bhakti Candrika” tikas 55-56)

Obtaining siddha deha ki jai! Sri Guru krpa ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!