Accusations Against Rāgānugā Sādhana

 “Rāgānugā Sādhana deals with Krishna’s intimate Vraja-līlā and therefore is not appropriate for the general public. Thus Rāgānugā should not be the focus of a preaching mission.”

If Krishna’s intimate Vraja-līlā is not appropriate for the general public, why did the ācārya who took Krishna consciousness to the general global public immediately present “The Krishna Book” – the intimate līlā from the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam?  Why did he also immediately publish Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and a presentation of Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī’s Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (as Nectar of Devotion)?

It seems clear that this ācārya did not exactly share the notion that Krishna’s Vraja-līlā is not appropriate for the general public. Nor did Vyāsa himself subscribe to it, for Vyāsa highlighted Krishna’s intimate Vraja-līlā in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam – the Veda he wrote especially for the general public in the most morally debased epoch, kali-yuga. Quite the opposite in fact, Vyāsa realized that Krishna’s intimate Vraja-līlā is the only viable medicine to attract the jīva out from its useless infatuation with bhukti and mukti. 

Knowing this, we might now better appreciate the point that Krishna’s intimate vraja-līlā is the only real subject that should be “preached” to the public. Far from being something to hide, it is the essence of what we must distribute! But the trick is that it cannot be explained or learned effectively by an audience or speaker who does not deeply realize the spiritual form of it. Therefore our presentation of the prayojana (Krishna’s intimate līlā) must be accompanied by solid presentation of the abhidheya (the practices necessary to truly comprehend that līlā) and the sambandha (the philosophical nature of the participants in this līlā, the aspects of reality itself).

So, the big challenge here is that Krishna-līlā has to be accessed from a real guru – a person who has deeply realized the true spiritual form of it – not from a fool who only understands it as some legendary erotica or academic novelty.  To meet this challenge, the first priority of a real “preaching mission” is to produce such gurus by properly guiding the personal practice of its members on the path of Rāgānugā and Vaidhi.

“Rāgānugā Sādhana involves meditating on Krishna’s romantic activities. So, if we still have material lusts in our heart, it will excite these lusts.”

We must remember the idea of “milk touched by the lips of serpents.”

Yes, if one hears Krishna’s mādhurya līlā from a person who doesn’t have true spiritual realization of it – considering it merely another type of erotica, or just some academic curiousity – then one might find one’s material lusts excited by such discussions and meditations. This does not mean that we should not hear Krishna’s romantic pastimes, it means we should not hear them from fools!

If we don’t know Krishna’s romantic pastimes, we don’t know Krishna, because romantic love is the essence of his divine personality. So, avoiding Krishna’s romantic pastimes is not an option for anyone with the aspiration to become a Krishna-bhakta. The key is not to avoid hearing or meditating on these things, but to avoid learning about them from fools who do not realize what these pastimes truly express and reveal about the Divine.

If hearing about Krishna’s intimate qualities and activities will increase our lust, what is the meaning of this extremely important verse [Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.33.39]?

vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ |
śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ |
bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya kāmaṁ |
hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty acireṇa dhīraḥ ||

“Anyone who carefully and deeply hears
this tale of Viṣṇu playing with the wives of Vraja
attains the supreme pure devotion, and conquers lust
which is a disease of the heart impossible to cure
by any other method.”

The key is to hear these līlā’s carefully and deeply. To “actually hear” them.  Explaining this verse in chapter 33 of Krishna Book, Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, “If one actually hears rasa-lila, he will become completely freed from the lusty desire of sex life and elevated to the highest level of spiritual understanding.”

“Since Rāgānugā Sādhana involves meditating on romantic forms, it is best suited for those with no attachment for material sexuality. Thus it is best performed by celibate Sannyāsīs and Brahmacārīs, not by housholding Gṛhasthas.

This seems strange. If Krishna-līlā is sexually dangerous, then it makes at least as much sense to say it is least appropriate for people for whom it is important to maintain absolutely strict celibacy. But this is just an argument for argument’s sake. The real truth is that Krishna-līlā is not sexually dangerous unless heard from someone who doesn’t truly have any deep grasp of what that līlā truly expresses.

If rāgānugā sādhana is mostly for absolute celibates, what is the meaning of this extremely important verse which indicates that there is no significant difference between self-realized munis and the reprobate general public when it comes to being attracted to Hari  [Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.7.10]?

ātmārāmāś ca munayo nirgranthā apy urukrame |
kurvanty ahaitukīṁ bhaktim ittham-bhūta-guṇo hariḥ ||

“Hari’s wondrous qualities inspire
both the self-realized realized sages and the ordinary reprobates
to pure devotion.”

If rāgānugā sādhana and mādhurya-līlā is meant for pure and exalted people only, why does Śrī Krishna Caitanya distribute them to the morally low and mundane masses of kali-yuga, and not to the pure and exalted spiritualists of satya-yuga???

If rāgānugā sādhana is mostly for absolute celibates why was Narottama das Ṭhākur the only significant person in his entire generation who was a lifelong celibate with a shaved head? Śrī Śyāmānanda, Śrī Śrīnivās, Śrī Rāmacandra Kavirāj, and Śrī Rasikānanda were all householders.

If rāgānugā sādhana is primarily for sannyāsīs how do you explain this: the exalted practitioner of rāgānugā sādhana who began the effort to bring Krishna consciousness to the general masses around the world – our ācārya Śrī Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur – was the father of fourteen children and never took sannyāsa or left his wife?

If rāgānugā sādhana is mostly for absolute celibates why didn’t Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī say so when he was defining it for us? He said that rāgānugā sādhana is for anyone who can become significantly attracted to the hope of attaining a specific type of love for Krishna. This is the only stipulation specified by him and by the Gauḍīya ācāryas following him. The idea that absolute celibacy is a requirement or a significant advantage is someone else’s optinion, not theirs. Therefore followers of ācāryas need not consider this opinion very significant.

“Rāgānugā Sādhana may encourage people to be slack and lazy in their vows and adherence to rules.”

The idea that rāgānugā sādhana is something without rules and regulations is a complete misconception, held only by people who have not learned about it from the source texts, and who have no hands-on experience practicing it in its original form. Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, the original text that defines rāgānugā sādhana, makes this absolutely clear in 1.2.296. Therefore it is not that Rāgānugā Sādhana would make anyone slack and lazy in their vows and practices. Quite the contrary, it is a lack of understanding about what rāgānugā really is which causes people to slacken.

“There is a more advanced way to practice Bhakti-yoga, and in it you don’t follow so many rules and regulations.” As long as people have this foolish misconception about rāgānugā in their heads, they will be encouraged to think, “I don’t have to follow so many rules and regulations. It’s not necessarily bad.”

Therefore the best strategy is not to try and hide the facts about Rāgānugā sādhana from the neophyte practitioners, but to understand the true facts and teach them clearly to all practitioners, even from the earliest stages.

The fact is that Rāgānugā Sādhana follows as many rules as Vaidhi Sādhana, and, externally, the practice of both are largely identical. It is simply that Rāgānugā Sādhana follows the rules with a passion to achieve a specific kind of intimate love for Krishna (“Rāga”), and Vaishi sādhana doesn’t have this passionate and specific motivation behind (and focus within) its actions.

Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Prabhupāda discouraged Rāgānugā Sādhana.

Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Prabhupāda discouraged the sahajīya-apasiddhānta which is based on misunderstandings of what rāgānugā-sādhana is and what it is for. He presented the true form of rāgānugā-sādhana, as taught and exemplified by the original Goswāmīs of Vṛndāvana, solidly based on śravaṇa and kīrtana as the foundation of smaraṇa and the foundation for developing and cultivating lobha into rāga and, finally rati.

Vraja Kishor das

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