Ragatmika

HOW TO PRACTICE RĀGĀNUGĀ-BHAKTI

1. kṛṣṇaṁ smaran janaṁ cāsya… tat-tat-kathā… [BRS 1.2.294]

“Remember Krishna with a particular Vṛndāvana devotee who exemplifies the type of love you seek.”

how?

“By always doing kīrtan of their līlā, guṇa, rūpa, nāma.”

What is the remembrance for? To provide internal relevance to external practices…

2. seva-sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi… [295]

“Execute your seva so the external actions have internal significance to the vraja-bhāva you seek.”

What external actions?…

3. śravanot-kīrtanādīni vaidha-bhakty uditāni tu… [296]

“The actions described in relation to Vaidhi-bhakti, headed by śravaṇa and kīrtana.”

These three verses are Bhakti-Rasāmṛta-Sindhu’s complete disclosure on how to practice rāgānugā-sādhana. Śrī Rūpa describes no further practices here, in his magnum opus. No ekādaśa-bhava. No siddha-praṇālī. No smaraṇa-paddhati techniques. No aṣṭha-kāla-līlā-smaraṇa. The implication is simple and clear: the other, more elaborate systems of rāgānugā-sādhana developed by subsequent ācāryas, and supporting poetry written by Śrī Rūpa and other ācāryas are indeed supra-wonderful, but they are not absolutely essential. The above three instructions are fundamental, the rest are elaborations on the fundaments — elaborating on ways to do these three items.

WHEN TO PRACTICE RĀGĀNUGĀ-BHAKTI

Śrī Rūpa identifies a common starting point for all forms of uttama-bhakti (pure devotion). He says, “adau śraddhā”  — “It starts from conviction/faith.” [BRS 1.4.15–16].

He doesn’t stipulate any exceptions, like, “adau śraddhā rāgānugas tv adau niṣṭhā.” (“It starts from conviction/faith, but Rāgānuga starts from niṣṭhā.”)

So rāgānuga has its own type of śraddhā (convictions), which comes from its own special type of kṛpā (mercy) and which results in its own special type of sādhu-saṅga (good association), from which we get advice and direction about its own special type of bhajankriyā (devotional practices), etc.

Then why is it very commonly taught (at least among ISKCON and Gauḍiya Maṭha circles) that rāgānugā begins from niṣṭhā? If we examine how Śrī Rūpa describes rāgānugā-śraddhā we will see that he does include a concept relevant to niṣṭhā.

rāgātmikāika-niṣṭhā ye vraja-vāsī-janādayaḥ |
teṣāṁ bhāvāptaye lubdho bhaved atrādhikāravān.

“The qualified person has an eager greed to obtain the bhāva (loving mood) of Vraja-vāsī, specifically fixed upon a particular Vraja-vāsī.” [BRS 1.2.291]

The qualification for practicing rāgānugā is “eager greed.”

Eager greed for what? Eager greed to obtain a certain state of being (teṣāṁ bhāvāptaye).

What state of being? The state of prema especially held by those who are residents of Vṛndāvana (vraja-vāsī-janādayaḥ).

Just any resident of Vṛndāvana? No, the eager greed is “fixed upon a specific exemplar of Rāga” (rāgātmikā-eka-niṣṭhā).

You can see the use of the word “fixed” (niṣṭhā). However this does not imply that rāgānugā begins as niṣṭhā for this would contradict BRS 1.4.15–16 explained above. In this sentence about the qualification for rāgānugā, the word “fixed” is not the main focus. The main focus in the sentence is on the word lobha (“eager greed”).

It’s good to note that “eager greed” (lobha) is a type of conviction (śraddhā), which is uniquely strong and specific.

In the next verse Śrī Rūpa explains how to measure this “eager greed.”

tat-tad-bhāvādi-mādhurye śrute dhīr yad apekṣate |
nātra śāstraṁ na yuktiṁ ca tal-lobhotpatti-lakṣaṇaṁ

“When ones mind hankers to hear about the sweetness of that loving mood, without any prodding or forethought, this is the sign that you are awakening eager greed.” [BRS 1.2.292]

Śrī Rūpa does not indicate that the arousal of this lobha has any pre-requisite (such as the attainment of niṣṭhā in vaidhi-bhakti), although in the next verse he does say, “Until this eager greed arises, you are qualified to practice vaidhi-sādhana.” [293]

In conclusion, lobha (the type of śraddhā which enables rāgānugā-sādhana) can appear at any point. The only prerequisite Śrī Rūpa identifies is:

kṛṣṇa-tad-bhakta-kāruṇya-mātra-lābhaika-hetukā

“The cause of gaining the ability to practice [and perfect] Rāgānugā is simply the kindness of a specific devotee of Krishna.” [BRS 1.2.309]

All of the above counteracts the idea that one has to first become purified by anartha-nivṛtti before one can obtain clear and specific lobha.

THEN, WHAT ABOUT NIṢṬHĀ???

So why is it sometimes said that the true qualification for rāgānugā bhakti doesn’t come until niṣṭhā, after anartha-nivṛtti?

I think this is a practical statement, and a very good one at that. Everyone is eager to rush into something that will include them in the “cool” club (or the “advanced” club), so, when dealing with new converts, it is very wise and prudent to say something like Prabhupāda sometimes said, something like, “first get rid of your anarthas, then your eager greed to follow a specific resident of Vṛndāvana will become clear.”

I also think there is practical validity to the observation that rāgānugā-sādhana and vaidhi-sādhana may not differ all that much in application until one starts to attain some medium level of advancement (like niṣṭhā) on either path.

However, to be faithful to Śrī Rūpa I believe we have to accept that anyone can begin rāgānugā-sādhana at any stage — immediate beginner, or otherwise. Practicing rāgānugā-sādhana is not a sign of “advancement,” this is a misconception that has bewildered devotees for long enough. Devotees practicing rāgānugā-sādhana still have mountains of advancement to make before they can hope to realize the goal: bhāva-bhakti. One has to begin as a fledgeling rāgānugā-sādhaka and diligently make progress by hearing about the objects of one’s spiritual attraction, and trying to apply the essence of what one learns to the practical viddhis one performs.

If it is a “sign” of anything, practicing rāgānugā-sādhana is simply a sign of extremely auspicious good fortune.

There is an awfully suffocating idea that rāgānugā-sādhana is anathema to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s line. The idea that Śrīla Prabhupāda created a society for vaidhi-bhakti is a sad mistake, held by many of his critics but even more unfortunately held by many of his disciples and followers as well. If given any chance, I would boldly and perhaps “proudly” declare that Śrīla Prabhupāda, as the empowered representative of Śrī Caitanya, created a society for rāgānugā-sādhana without being gaudy and overt about it. He created an implementation of rāgānugā-sādhana that is very realistic and practical for the audience ISKCON mainly serves: the modern globalized world (Though I think we, his followers, have done lousy at realizing and implementing his vision on this). All the viddhis adopted by Śrīla Prabhupāda for ISKCON are done so under BRS 1.2.293 & 296, cited above.

Nectar of Devotion

13 thoughts on “How and When to Practice Rāgānugā-Bhakti

  1. I have a theory as to why vaidhi bhakti is the dominant mood in ISKCON.

    Vaidhi bhakti consists of rules and regulations which lend themselves to be policed by managing authority (GBC). If someone follows vaidhi then they are promoted, and if they don’t then they are fined or banned. Thus philosophy and bhakti process are simply means to impose control.

    If on the other hand raganuga bhakti prevails, then these rules are no longer binding. They can not be leveraged by a proclaimed authority as means of influence. Without rules, law enforcement is superfluous. Therefore it is in the interest of the managing authority (GBC) to have rules for otherwise their power is drastically weakened.

    In short – raganuga bhakti is an institutional threat.

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    1. This is based on a misunderstanding of what Rāgānugā-sādhana is. Indeed perhaps it is as you say, that the leadership of ISKCON have promoted this misunderstanding because it serves their purpose at the top of a managerial hierarchy. Nonetheless I think you are also the victim of the misinformation.

      BRS 1.2.296 makes it quite clear that Rāgānugā-sādhana consists of just as many viddhi (“rules” or “procedures”) as Vaidhi-bhakti does. It is a misconception that Rāgānugā is “spontaneous” in the sense that it does whatever it wants whenever it wants. Such “bhakti” is derided and excluded in BRS 1.2.101, declared to be “nothing but a social disturbance.” Rāgānugā is “spontaneous” in the sense that it’s inspiration is a spontaneous attraction for a specific type of loving-service-relationship with Śrī Vrajendra-nandan Krishna. It is the inspiration, not the execution, which is “spontaneous.” The execution of Rāgānugā-sādhana is as (or MORE) methodical and systematic as the execution of vaidhi-sādhana.

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      1. Thanks for this illuminating article. It was shared on Facebook, with the following comment.

        “It seems like the author of this note did’ t read NOD ”

        I responded in this way, please let me know if it is a suitable response.

        Actually he read the book that NOD is based on which is Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu- all Vraja Kishor’s quotes are from this book.

        There is this quote and that counter-quote, from SP, which due to time, place and circumstance, vary considerably in content. In the context of the NOD verse, because nothing like that is written in BRS, upon which NOD is based, it is to be understood in this way…

        Basically, the principle is that Sri Krsna fulfills the desires of His devotees (everyone actually, what to speak of His devotees?). If we desire material goals from our service, such as puja, pratistha, labha, and so on, then we get that material enjoyment but not pure bhakti. If we still have desires for puja, pratistha and so on, but want to be free from them, seeing them as obstacles to KC, then Krsna will serve that desire as well and we will progress through anartha nivritti and be “free from material contamination” even though we still have anarthas. At this point we are governed by intelligence, not attraction, as we know that such anarthas will bring only temporary materal happiness, and more samsara. We avoid serving the goals they demand of us.

        But we must desire, so what do we desire for? Simply freedom from samsara is akin to the desire for liberation, which a devotee must be free from. It is another anartha. Guided by instruction from the sastra, which we have faith in as vaidhi bhaktas, we discover that evoking our loving attraction for Krsna in the mood and example of one of His beloved associates is the only path of entrance into the platform of the highest bliss, compared to which, impersonal liberation pales.It is the only door to Vraja dhama (barring krpa siddhi which is rare)

        So we start to hanker for that, and drench our minds in Vraja lila katha, sravanam, kirtanama, smaranam. This creates strong impressions in the mind which we become drawn to, and examining our hearts we find which relationship of love we are most attracted to, which associate of Krsna captures our heart and mind, and provides for us an ideal to follow. He/she becomes our role model, our guide, our preceptor and protector.

        It is described in the sastra that anarthas are not completely destroyed, with no possibility of returning, unto we reach the platform of prema. But if we develop a sincere desire to follow in the footsteps of some resident of Vraja, being very attracted t his or her mood, personality and service, then as we hanker for that, Krsna fulfuills our desire, and we become a follower of that ragatmika- a raganuga sadhaka. It is still a long way from the goal, but the process is very powerful and a sadhaka is assured that even running on this path with their eyes closed, they cannot slip or fall. Thus they progress quickly to their destination. (On the other hand, vaidhi bhakti is described as weak)

        We must come to this point, for all the instructions of sastra are unambiguous on the point- that without ragaunga sadhana there is no possibility of entering Vraja- apart from rare krpa siddhi, and that without it, even pure devotion will only bring one to vaikunktha.If we want to go back to Krsna at the end of this life, we must absorb ourselves as being a Vraja identity, leaving behind the identity of this material body, and mentally focus all our desires in relation to one of the residents of Vraja.

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        1. When a statement is obvious just asinine or argumentative, its not good to even respond to it. But in public venues sometimes we feel impelled to reply to argumentative people, because we know sincere ears are also listening.

          I like your reply.

          Maybe one point of clarification: Vaidhi is also pure devotion without ulterior motive for liberation or any material thing. It just doesn’t have the inspiration to attain an extremely intimate mood such as is available only in Vṛndāvana.

          PS – As a point of record — I studied Nectar of Devotion directly under my Gurudeva’s tutelage in Śrī Vṛndāvana Krishna Balarāma Mandīr in 1994, and as a result was able to serve as the editor for his book about Nectar of Devotion, Waves of Devotion — which is widely valued by ISKCON devotees as the most thorough and authoritative commentary on Nectar of Devotion.

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  2. Perhaps it is safe to say that raganuga-bhakti defined in polar contrast to vaidhi-bhakti is a definition in the mode of ignorance.

    Is it safe to say that as one’s bhakti-saddhana develops, and hence as one’s consciousness and relationship with the Lord develops, the degree of sophistication or attention to detail also increases? Thus in the highest expressions of bhakti we see apparently simpleton devotees.

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    1. It’s true that rāgānugā is not the opposite of vaidhi.

      I don’t see the Rāgātmikā’s of Vrindāvana as “simpletons” in any way, shape or form. They have mastered all the arts and sciences and serve Krishna with more sophistication than any other devotee anywhere else.

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  3. Very interesting article with many good points. Here are some of my thoughts…

    “VK: These three verses are Śrī Rūpa’s complete disclosure on how to practice rāgānugā-sādhana. He describes no further practices. No ekādaśa-bhava. No siddha-praṇālī. No smaraṇa-paddhati techniques. No* aṣṭha-kāla-līlā-smaraṇa*.”

    Just because RG didn’t elaborate on these details in BRS doesn’t mean they are not valid or part of the actual process. RG gave us the structural foundation without some of the clarifying details – that’s all. In fact, in Utkalika-vallari, RG does describe his meditations within asta-kaliya-lila, as does Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami in his Vilapa-kusumanjali and VCT in his Sankalpa-kalpa-druma. That is precisely what those books are.

    JG also describes the 5 stages of progressive smaranam, which are confirmed by VCT in Madhurya-kadambini and BVT in Jaiva-dharma and Harinama-cintamani, so they are most certainly valid and an absolute part of the process. And Krsnadasa Kaviraja and VCT both wrote asta-kaliya-lila books specifically for the purpose of expanded meditation on these pastimes, based on RG’s initial summary presentation of this eternal reality. Those books explicitly state that these pastimes are for our meditation in bhajana and are based on RG’s verses given for this very purpose.

    In JD, BVT indicates that Lord Caitanya gave different services to different devotees to expand upon, so it didn’t fall exclusively on RG. The smarana-paddhati of Dhyanacandra Gosvami is in the direct line from Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and BVT validates that 100% in JD, including discussing the ekadasa-bhavas and their proper implementation. That is not specifically siddha-pranali, and although it shares some of the same elements, the implementation is very different.

    “VK: The implication is simple and clear: the other, more elaborate systems of rāgānugā-sādhana developed by subsequent ācāryas may indeed be supra-wonderful, but they are not absolutely essential. They are elaborations upon the principle of how to do Item #1, mostly.”

    I disagree with this point. I have given the support above. Then how will one engage in these practices? Via speculation? What exactly will you meditate upon? Where is the guidance? And if you say from a devotee, then where did he/she get their guidance and how was that fully supported by the acaryas?

    “VK: He doesn’t stipulate any exceptions, like, “adau śraddhā rāgānugas tv adau niṣṭhā.”(“It starts from conviction/faith, but Rāgānuga starts from niṣṭhā.”)”

    True. I agree with your analysis of nistha not being the specific starting point for raganuga, but rather, a logical beginning point of focused practice for obvious reasons.

    “VK: So rāgānuga has its own type of śraddhā (convictions), which comes from its own special type of kṛpā (mercy) and which results in its own special type of sādhu-saṅga (good association), from which we get advice and direction about its own special type of bhajan-kriyā (devotional practices), etc.”

    Once again, where do these specific instructions originate?

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    1. Thank you, Prabhu, for reading and commenting on my insignificant blog post. I will reply to your inquiries for clarification:

      Just because RG didn’t elaborate on these details in BRS doesn’t mean they are not valid or part of the actual process.

      True. They are valid approaches to rāgānugā-sādhana. But they are not the only valid approaches. What is absolutely essential to all valid approaches is kṛṣṇam-smaran janam ca (remembering Krishna with his devotee by kīrtan). Poetry about Krishna and his devotees (often organized around the eight periods of the day) provide a wonderful “songbook” for such kīrtan. It’s not the only way.

      Also absolutely essential is seva sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa ca (“Executing seva with internal relevance in the external practices”). The ekadaśa-bhava is a wonderful way of getting helping “siddha-rūpeṇa” ‘internal relevance) part of that equation. It’s not the only way.

      Dhyāncandra Goswāmī’s paddhati and similar things are extremely valuable – because they give concrete direction how to do BRS 1.2.294 ~ 296. Just like Mādhurya-kādambinī gives wonderful, invaluable elaboration upon adau-śraddhā (1.4.15-16). But it is not that without adhering to the details of the paddhati one cannot execute BRS 1.2.294 ~ 296.

      [Without ekadaśa bhāva, etc.] how will one engage in these practices?

      By reading BRS 1.2.296, and then re-reading the 64 sādhanāṅgas they refer to and especially paying attention to the most powerful 5.

      1) nāma-saṁkīrtan (The First and Foremost practice of Rāga-sādhana!)
      2) Tasting the meaning of Śrī Bhāgavatam
      3) Affectionately serving Śrī Mūrti
      4) Associating with devotees who are advanced, alike to us, and kind.
      5) Residing in Mathurā Maṇḍala (or at least some “embassy” thereof)

      This is the fully authorized process given by Śrī Rūpa and very beautifully brought to us by Śrīla Prabhupāda.

      “VK: So rāgānuga has its own type of śraddhā (convictions), which comes from its own special type of kṛpā (mercy) and which results in its own special type of sādhu-saṅga (good association), from which we get advice and direction about its own special type of bhajan-kriyā (devotional practices), etc.”

      Once again, where do these specific instructions originate?

      BRS 1.4.15-16. All bhakti follows this paradigm in progressing from its seed (śraddhā) to its ripe fruit (prema)

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  4. (corrected version) A question: I was reading “Waves of Devotion | A Comprehensive Study Guide of Nectar of Devotion”, and I noticed the following curious passage on page 117:

    “After thoroughly hearing Srimad Bhagavatam and being freed from all unwanted desires, one then possesses the qualifications to practice genuine raganuga-bhakti.”

    Is this true or false?

    Is this an expansion of Srila Prabhupada’s “prudence” which should not be understood literally?

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    1. This is just representing Prabhupāda’s suggestion that first there should be some purification, and then one can obtain a true greed for love. When the heart is full of lust, how does a true, strong greed for LOVE appear there? There must be some purification to allow it to happen.

      The key is “hearing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.” It is not that first one has to do 40 pushups, or first one has to light 108 ghee whicks and do 44 fire sacrifices and be initiated three times, then one gets “purified.” One gets purified by hearing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. This implants the desire to love Krishna, because the Bhāgavatam shows us how beautiful and attractive such love is. So Śrīmad Bhāgavatam simultaneously gives the purification and the desire for a specific type of love of Krishna.

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  5. “VK: True. They are valid approaches to rāgānugā-sādhana. But they are not the only valid approaches. What is absolutely essential to all valid approaches is kṛṣṇam-smaran janam ca (remembering Krishna with his devotee by kīrtan). Poetry about Krishna and his devotees (often organized around the eight periods of the day) provide a wonderful “songbook” for such kīrtan. It’s not the only way.”

    Kirtan is not mentioned in BRS, 1.2.294 nor in the commentaries. Kirtan is part of sadhana, ie: external activities using the senses of one’s sadhaka-rupa, which can directly nourish this internal development and it is a primary “external” activity. Raganuga-bhakti is predominantly internal, ie: bhajana. In BRS, 1.2.294-295, the commentaries clearly indicate that raganuga-sadhana involves hearing to stimulate “remembering” and “manasi-seva”, ie: internal activities within the mind and heart.

    The internal progressive development of one’s siddha-deha, ie: one’s desired spiritual identity in the context of one’s desired relationship, is the primary activity of raganuga because that is directly connected to one’s desired relationship with Krsna and the prema that will arise from that. Prema is relationship specific and a relationship requires an identity.

    Narottama Dasa Thakura says that whatever we contemplate during sadhana is what we will attain at bhava. Raganuga-bhakti is performed because one desires to enter the eternal aprakata lila and take part in that lila in a particular relationship by following a ragatmika devotee. The asta-kaliya-lila IS precisely where we want to be so what else are you going to think about during your sadhana and bhajana? What other lila is there to contemplate?

    If we are supposed to absorb ourselves in all things related to the ragatmika devotee we are following, we cannot do so outside of the context of their participation in that very same lila, which was revealed to us by the purva-acaryas solely for that purpose and no other. It is not an alternative to something else – there is nothing else given by these acaryas. There is no other context for these ragatmika devotees except the asta-kaliya-lila, which is the unmanifest lila and somewhat different from the bhauma-prakata-lila.

    “VK: Also absolutely essential is seva sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa ca (“Executing seva with internal relevance in the external practices”). The ekadaśa-bhava is a wonderful way of getting helping “siddha-rūpeṇa” ‘internal relevance) part of that equation. It’s not the only way.”

    It seems you are missing the whole point of the siddha-deha. In order to contemplate participation in the lila in one’s mind, one must have an identity. You cannot meditate in the context of your external material identity (ie: sadhaka-rupa). Bhakti is simultaneous self-realization and God-realization. Realizing Krsna means realizing your “relationship” with Him and your “identity” which is part of that relationship, and all of which is directly in the context of your participation in the lila. They are two components of the same thing. One’s siddha-deha is not an arbitrary or optional “technique” that is discarded later. It is an essential part of the scientific process that underlies raganuga-bhakti.

    “VK: Dhyāncandra Goswāmī’s paddhati and similar things are extremely valuable – because they give concrete direction how to do BRS 1.2.294 ~ 296. Just like Mādhurya-kādambinī gives wonderful, invaluable elaboration upon adau-śraddhā (1.4.15-16). But it is not that without adhering to the details of the paddhati one cannot execute BRS 1.2.294 ~ 296.”

    Can you give us examples of the alternatives you are alluding to?
    The details given in DG’s smarana-paddhati are guidelines (not hard and fast rules) to be implemented according to one’s individual situation under expert guidance, as exemplified in BVT’s Jaiva-dharma and Harinama-cintamani.

    It is mandatory that one must meditate in the context of one’s desired relationship and to do that properly one must have a suitable identity, which is defined by the template of the ekadasa-bhavas. To do anything else is mental speculation and is outside of the parameters given by the acaryas, and RG says that is just a disturbance to the process (sruti, smriti…)

    Unless you internally develop your desired relationship and identity directly in the context of your participation in the lila, what will Krsna award you at the stage of bhava? What exactly are you desiring if not that?

    “VK: [Without ekadaśa bhāva, etc.] how will one engage in these practices?
    By reading BRS 1.2.296, and then re-reading the 64 sādhanāṅgas they refer to and especially paying attention to the most powerful 5.
    1) nāma-saṁkīrtan (The First and Foremost practice of Rāga-sādhana!)
    2) Tasting the meaning of Śrī Bhāgavatam
    3) Affectionately serving Śrī Mūrti
    4) Associating with devotees who are advanced, alike to us, and kind.
    5) Residing in Mathurā Maṇḍala (or at least some “embassy” thereof)
    This is the fully authorized process given by Śrī Rūpa and very beautifully brought to us by Śrīla Prabhupāda. BRS 1.4.15-16. All bhakti follows this paradigm in progressing from its seed (śraddhā) to its ripe fruit (prema).”

    These are the “external” angas only and that is just part of the package. Without following the recommended internal bhajana, how will you make progress? How is that any different from vaidhi-bhakti?

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    1. Kirtan is not mentioned in BRS, 1.2.294 nor in the commentaries

      “tat-tat-kathā” 1.2.294. Ācāryas don’t need to state the obvious. “Kīrtan” doesn’t always necessitate the banging of drums.

      Kirtan is part of sadhana

      So is Rāgānugā-sādhana.

      You’re idea that Kīrtan is external is very uninteresting and bland to me, I’m sorry.

      In BRS, 1.2.294-295, the commentaries clearly indicate that raganuga-sadhana involves hearing to stimulate “remembering” and “manasi-seva”, ie: internal activities within the mind and heart.

      What is heard (śravaṇa)? The thing that is spoken (kīrtan)! And what is the result? Contemplation (smaraṇa).

      The asta-kaliya-lila IS precisely where we want to be so what else are you going to think about during your sadhana and bhajana? What other lila is there to contemplate?

      “aṣṭa-kāliya” is just a word. It just means “eight time periods.” Why be hung up on whether or not something is arraged according to 8 time periods? The important part is to contemplate Krishna-līlā which is specifially relevant to one’s aspiration. This comes from Bhāgavatam, and the Goswāmīs have elaborated on Bhāgavatam.

      It seems you are missing the whole point of the siddha-deha. In order to contemplate participation in the lila in one’s mind, one must have an identity. You cannot meditate in the context of your external material identity (ie: sadhaka-rupa). Bhakti is simultaneous self-realization and God-realization. Realizing Krsna means realizing your “relationship” with Him and your “identity” which is part of that relationship, and all of which is directly in the context of your participation in the lila. They are two components of the same thing. One’s siddha-deha is not an arbitrary or optional “technique” that is discarded later. It is an essential part of the scientific process that underlies raganuga-bhakti.

      Since I still have no love for Krishna I am sure there are a million things I wrongly understand. But this is not one of them. I have, “by God’s grace,” a crystal clear understanding of 1.2.295. You are by no means required to learn it from he, however. I am no one special, and I am your junior.

      Can you give us examples of the alternatives you are alluding to?

      Look at a picture of the gopis on a boat with Krishna doing kīrtan.
      Take a mrdanga and karatala and dance, and do kīrtan, cherishing that image of them in your heart while doing so.
      That’s Rāgānugā Kīrtan, and its 1 zillion times more powerful than some “līlā-smarana” BVT indicates so at the introduction of Bhajan Rahasya, but it is also known from personal practice.

      These are the “external” angas only and that is just part of the package. Without following the recommended internal bhajana, how will you make progress? How is that any different from vaidhi-bhakti?

      Your idea that the pancanga sadhanas (or any sādhana) is external only, is completely contrary to Śrī Rūpa’s instruction in 1.2296. So please forgive me for completely ignoring that opinion.

      I’d don’t want to correct you in a public, or any, forum – and you certainly have no reason to want me to correct you. Nor do I have any inspiration to be corrected by your conception, since it appears to me to be incorrect. Therefore I think it best if you simply accept my obeisances, since you are a senior person, and allow the discussion to end here.

      Admiring your zeal for Rāga-mārga,
      Vraja Kishor dās

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