Guide to new aspirants on lila smaranam

On the path of raganuga-bhakti, meditating on the divine pastimes is the main sadhana, however in the primary stage we are not qualified for lila-smaran (meditation on the pastimes).

Therefore we should concentrate more on hearing, chanting and following the other rules of bhakti. Then as our consciuosness gets more and more purified, we are drawn towards lila-smaran. Slowly our smaran becomes more intense. Ultimately when we reach the zenith of bhajan, lila-smaran naturally becomes the major part of bhajan.”…
The very nature (dharma) of the mind is rāga (attachment, passion), and hence mental worship is the root cause of rāgānugā bhajana. Still the external practice of hearing and chanting must not be neglected or given up— this is to be noted specifically. The perfection of allegiance to the Vraja-people cannot be achieved by giving up external practices like hearing and chanting. As much as the external practices like hearing and chanting nourish the internal practice of smaraṇa, that much the internal practice also awakens taste for external practices. Since they nourish each other equally, efforts to fix one’s mind on līlā smaraṇa without taking shelter of external practices will not become fruitful. And again, efforts to perform only external practices without practising līlā smaraṇa cannot be called rāgānugā mārga’s bhajana. Hence both are required.

All those new aspirants who want to meditate on their own siddha deha or on Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava’s pastimes, but rather find this difficult to do, should initially not be too eager for līlā smaraṇa. If they, along with hearing and chanting etc., practise some light and easy smaraṇa while hearing and chanting texts like Śrīla Ṭhākura Mahāśaya’s ‘Prārthanā’ and ‘Prema Bhakti Candrikā’, Śrīmat Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda’s ‘Stavamālā’, Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmīpāda’s ‘Stavāvalī’, Śrīla Kṛṣṇa dāsa Siddha Bābā’s ‘Prārthanāmṛta Taraṅginī’, that glorify gopī bhāva or rāgānugā bhajana, and at the same time try to cultivate mañjarī bhāva within the heart, the heart will easily become qualified to practise līlā smaraṇa.

———————- Srila Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj

In his commentary to Ragavartma Candrika text 13 Srila Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj says:

To ascertain who is eligible for raganuga bhakti it has been said: ragatmikaika nistha ye vrajavasi-janadaya; tesa bhavaptaye lubdho bhaved atradhikaravan (B.R.S. 1.2.291) “A devotee who becomes greedy after the exclusive love for Sri Krisna of the ragatmika Vrajavasis is eligible for raganuga bhajana.” When greed awakens taste will come for lila smarana, from this ruci comes relish of the sweet pastimes and from the experience of these sweet pastimes the sacred greed becomes again more deep. Hence lila smarana is the main item of this raganuga marga. But for entering into lila smarana purification of heart is absolutely necessary. When the heart is impure the mind cannot be steady and when the mind is restless or unsteady one cannot become absorbed in lila smarana. Hence one must take shelter of the main items of bhajana, such as hearing and chanting, and the more the heart gets purified by continuing in bhajana,the more the heart becomes attracted to lila smarana, and thus smarana also gradually becomes deeper and deeper. Therefore, although lila smarana is the main item of raganuga marga, one should not neglect or drop the external practises like hearing and chanting. Just as one’s internal sadhana becomes nourished by the external practice of hearing and chanting, similarly one awakens one’s relish for the external practices through the internal practices.If one says that the two nourish each other and then one neglects or drops the external practice, trying just to immerse the mind in lila smarana, the mind will gradually dry up and become contaminated by contemplating the sense objects. On the other hand, raganuga bhajana is also not performed simply by diligently practising the external items and dropping or neglecting lila smarana. Therefore the raga sadhaka should practice both the external and internal items.

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