Qualification for raganuga sadhana

Some Vaishnavas claim that the sadhaka has to be on Srila Rupa Goswami´s mentioned stage “RUCI” in order to practice raganuga-bhakti.

This is completely wrong understanding. Awakening of spiritual greed is the only qualification and the spiritual greed is not linked with any of the stages of bhakti.

Srila Jiva Goswami has cleared this in his Bhakti Sandarbha

yasya purvoktam raga-viseshe rucir eva jatasti na tu raga-visesha eva svayam, tasya tadrisa-raga-sudhakara-karabhasa-samullasita-hridaya-sphatika-maneh sastradi-srutasu tadrisya ragatmikaya bhakteh paripatishv api rucir jayate | tatas tadiyam ragam rucy-anugacchanti sa raganuga tasyaiva pravartate || (Bhakti-sandarbha 310)

“When the splendour of the moonrays of raga shines upon the crystal-like heart of a person in whom a taste for the aforementioned specific raga has awakened, but who himself does not possess distinct raga, his heart rejoices. He then hears from the scriptures about such ragatmika-bhakti and consequently develops a taste for the same. Following his taste for such raga, he engages in raganuga-bhakti.”

Two verse later he says:-

ajata-tadrisa-rucina tu sad-viseshadara-matradrita raganugapi vaidhi-samvalitaivanushtheya |
tatha loka-samgrahartham pratishthitena jata-tadrisa-rucina ca |
atra misratve ca yatha-yogyam raganugayaiki krityaiva vaidhi kartavya || (Bhakti-sandarbha 312)

Those in whom such taste (ruci) has not awakened, but who have a special interest for it, should engage in a mixture of raganuga and vaidhi. For the sake of establishing an example for the people of the world, the one in whom such ruci has awakened will do the same. Therefore, as appropriate, raganuga should be performed together with vaidhi.”

Here Jiva Goswami has never said that one has to begin raganuga bhajan at higher stages of RUCI . What he said is quiet the contrary that raganuga bhakti has to be practiced with mixture of vaidhi bhakti. Raganuga bhakti has to be practiced as it is the only means to attain Goloka not vaidhi bhakti as will be proved later. If one practices only vaidhi bhakti he will attain bhava and prema of Krishna in his Aiswarya gyana which does not lead to goloka. That is why Jiva Goswami recommended raganuga bhakti is to be added with vaidhi bhakti.


 

In a blog Sri  Tarun Govinda Das has nicely explained the above statement

Now, here we have to consider the use of the word “RUCI” here. “RUCI” simply means taste. Now, Srila Rupa Goswami categorized the stages within bhakti from sraddha (faith) to prema (pure love) and he gave each consequent stage a meaningful word.
In Srila Rupa Goswami´s ascending stages within bhakti, “RUCI” is the stage after “NISTHA” (firm faith), when nearly all unwanted desires are gone (anarthas). So Srila Rupa Goswami´s used the word “RUCI” (taste) to explain a VERY HIGH stage within bhakti. But this is not what Srila Jiva Goswami writes about here. “RUCI” means “TASTE” here in these verses and Srila Vishvanatha Chakravartipada confirms too that a slight taste (ruci) is sufficient to start practicing raganuga-bhakti.

We don´t practice ONLY vaidhi-bhakti until we qualify for raganuga-bhakti. It may be like a mixture, but when taste (ruci) awakens in our heart to follow the Vrajavasis, we start with raganuga-bhakti.
Like the word “BHAVA”. Srila Rupa Goswami uses this word, bhava, in describing the very stage before PREMA, purest love of God. But actually BHAVA means literally “MOOD, EMOTION, FEELING”.
There are material bhavas and spiritual bhavas. Same with the word “RATI”. It means “DEEP AFFECTION”. I can have RATI for my children, but this has nothing to do with the stage Srila Rupa Goswami is describing as “RATI”.


 

Śrīla Krsnadās Kavirāja Gosvāmī commenting on Krishna Karnamritam, verse 2 says: ,

raganuga marge anutpanna rati sadhaka bhaktair api svepsita siddha-deham manasi parikalpya bhagavat sevadikam kriyate. jata ratinam tu svayam eva tad deha sphurteh.

On the raganuga marga the practicing devotee in whom rati has not yet arised can even mentally assume to serve Bhagavan in his own desired siddha deha . When rati arises, then that body will be automatically realized.

Although we may not be in the stage of rati (passion), the Raganuga sadhaka has to perform bhajan by meditating on his siddha-deha. When we reach the rati stage, we do not have to meditate consciously on our siddha-deha; it becomes spontaneous. This statement is purely in sync with Sri Jiva’s statement.


 

In Ragavrtama Chandrika Second diffusion text 7 Srila Vishvanatha Chakravartipad has mentioned:

“Now it will be described how the raganugiya bhakta gradually advances through the stages of anartha nivritti (cessation of bad habits), nistha (fixation), ruci (taste), and asakti (attachment to the beloved deity) upto the stage of prema (love of God) and the direct attainment of his beloved deity.In the Ujjvala Nilamani it is said that ‘those who are specially attracted to the ecstasy of the Vrajavasis and thus perform raganuga bhajana will attain that abundance of eagerness that is fit for performing raganuga bhajana and will take birth in Vraja in groups of one, two or three in their own time, according to their eagerness.’ Here the word anuragaugha means ‘that eagerness that makes one qualified for doing raganuga bhajana’.

Clearly indicating that Raganuga bhakta  progress from the lower stages of devotion like anartha nivritti  thus removing all misconceptions that raganuga bhakti stsrts at higher stages of ruchi. He clearly mentioned that eagerness(lobha) is the only qualification.


 

In another place in Ragavrtama Chandrika Srila Vishvanatha Chakravartipad has something interesting to say:

“bhaktes tu ‘vikriditam vrajavadhubhih’ ityadau— bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam hrid rogam asvapahinotyacirena dhirah (bhag. 10.33.39) ityatra ‘ktva’ pratyayena hrid rogavatyevadhikarini paramaya api tasyah prathamam eva pravesas tatas tayaiva parama svatantraya kamadinam apagamas ca. tesham kadacit sattve’pi ‘api cet suduracaro bhajate mam’ iti ‘badhyamano’pi mad bhakta’ ityadibhis ca tadvatam na kvapi sastreshu ninda leso’pi. ajamilasya bhaktatvam vishnudutair nirupitam. ‘sanketa bhagavannama putra snehanushangajam ityadi drishtya tad abhasavatam apyajamiladinam bhaktatvam sarvaih sangitam eva’ tad evam karma yogadinam antah karana suddhi dravya desa suddhyadayah sadhakas tad vaigunyadayo badhaka bhaktis tu prana dayinyeveti. sarvatha paratantryam eva tesham. nahi svatantrah kenapi sadhyante badhyante veti.

TRANSLATION: “Although lust is also considered a fault on the path of bhakti, one can still enter the devotional path, despite being still afflicted by lust and other material desires. Srimad-Bhagavata (10.33.39) says: “A person who faithfully hears or describes the Lord’s pastimes of rasa-lila with the gopis of Vraja attains supreme devotion of the Lord. He quickly becomes steady and conquers over the senses, giving up lust, the disease of the heart.” In this text “after attaining supreme devotion” is an unfinished act showing that bhakti can be attained even though one has lusty desires. This shows the most independent nature and power of bhakti to destroy lusty desires. Sometimes lusty desires exist even while practicing devotion. From verses like, “If the most sinful person worships Me exclusively…” and “Though my devotee is afflicted by lusty desires…” it is clear that though lusty desires may exist in a devotee, still he is not condemned even slightly.”


The symptoms of the awakening of greed for attaining feelings akin to the Lord’s eternal associates is described as follows:

tat tad bhavadi madhurye srute dhir yad apekshate |
natra sastram na yuktim ca tal lobhotpatti lakshanam || (brs. 1.2.292)

“When one hears about the sweetness of their feelings and so forth, and a desire for attaining the same awakens in the consciousness without dependence on scripture and logic, this is a symptom of the awakening of greed (lobha).”


 

Srimat Rupa Gosvami has given definitions of both these kinds of candidates, for vaidhi and raganuga bhakti. The definition of the vaidhi-marga’s candidate is as follows:

yah kenapyati bhagyena jata sraddho’sya sevane
natisakto na vairagya bhagasyam adhikaryasau (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.14)

“When, by a stroke of inconceivable luck, a person develops faith and liking for serving Krishna (bhakti marga) due to having associated with great saints, but has not yet attained firm attachment to the Lord and is only slightly averse to bodily attachments – such a person is eligible for sadhana bhakti.”

The candidate for raganuga is described as follows:
ragatmikaika nishtha ye vrajavasi janadayah
tesham bhavaptaye lubdho bhaved atradhikaravan (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.291)
“A person who is simply greedy after the unalloyed, ecstatic ragatmika bhakti-love for Krishna of the Vrajavasis, is a candidate for raganuga bhakti.”


 

People may question:
“Perhaps it means that when those devotees whose hearts are clear from lust, anger, greed and envy hear from the scriptures and the mouths of the saints about the devotional service of the ragatmika bhaktas their taste will awaken.”

Nowhere is it written in any shastra that the heart must be completely pure so that taste will awaken, nor is it written that the heart must be pure to start raganuga-bhakti.

Taste will awaken in the heart of a sadhaka only by the mercy of the Vaishnavas and Sri Gurudeva. And when that taste has awakened, the heart will become pure like a cystal. Not the other way round.


 

However, the impetus of the vaidhi-bhakta remains dependent on the commandments of the scripture.

vaidha-bhakty-adhikari tu bhavavirbhavanavadhi |
atra sastram tatha tarkam anukulam apekshate || (brs 1.2.293)

“However, until bhava arises within the one eligible for vaidhi-bhakti, he remains dependent on scriptures and logical considerations.”
The greed for attaining Vraja-bhava only awakens in rare and fortunate souls.

ragamayi-bhaktira haya ‘ragatmika’ nama |
taha suni lubdha haya kona bhagyavan || (cc 2.22.152)

“That devotion which consists of deep attachment is called ragatmika. One who becomes greedy upon hearing about this is fortunate.”

lobhe vrajavasi-bhave kore anugati |
sastra-yukti nahi mane – raganugara prakriti || (cc 2.22.153)

“Greedily following in the wake of the feelings of the residents of Vraja, without considering scriptures or logic – such is the nature of raganuga.”
In such a person, the attraction for attaining particular loving feelings for the Lord overrules all other considerations.

This greed is not developed artificially but naturally.


 

vrajalila parikarastha sringaradi bhava madhurye srute dhir idam mama bhuyat iti lobhotpattikale sastra yukty apeksha na syat satyam ca tasyam lobhatvasyaivasiddheh | nahi kenacit sastra drishtya lobhah kriyate napi lobhaniya vastu praptau svasya yogyayogyatva vicarah ko’py udbhavati. kintu lobhaniya vastuni srute drishte va svata eva lobha utpadyate || (rvc 1.5)

“If, upon hearing of the sweetness of the feelings, headed by passion, of Sri Krsna’s associates in the Vraja-lila, one thinks, ‘Let me also attain such feelings,’ then at this time one need not depend either on the revealed scriptures or on favorable logical considerations. If such dependence remains, it cannot be said that greed has appeared. Greed never arises in anyone because of scriptural considerations, and in anyone who is desirous to attain the object of the greed, no considerations of qualification or lack of qualification arise. Rather, greed arises only by hearing about the object of greed or by seeing it.”
As love cannot arise due to commandments or as the outcome of a certain pattern of reasoning, it is not possible that eligibility for raganuga-bhakti would arise on account of scriptural commandments or the subsequent logical considerations. Indeed, one who becomes greedy for Vraja-bhava hastens to attain it wherever it is available.


 

krishna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita-matih |
kriyatam yadi kuto’pi labhyate ||
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam |
janma-koti-sukritair na labhyate || (Padyavali 14)

“Wherever that consciousness laden with rapturous loving feelings for Sri Krishna is available, from there it must be acquired. For that there is indeed only one price, greed, which cannot be attained through pious deeds even in millions of births.”


 

Though the direct cause for the awakening of greed is the hearing of narrations about the Vraja-pastimes of Sri Krishna, one must also give due consideration to the foundational cause of the phenomena.

krishna tad bhakta karunya matra lobhaika hetuka |
pushti margataya kaiscid iyam raganugocyate || (brs 1.2.309)

“The only causes of the appearance of sacred greed are the mercy of Sri Krishna or the mercy of His devotee. Therefore some also call the path of raganuga-bhakti with the name pushti-marga (the path of grace).”

Commenting on this verse, Sri Jiva Gosvami states:

krishneti – matra padasya vidhi marge kutracit karmadi samarpanam api dvaram bhavatiti tad vicchedarthah prayoga iti bhava ||

“The word matra is used in the above because sometimes the offering of fruitive activities can lead to entry into vaidhi-bhakti, whereas raganuga-bhakti is only (matra) attained through grace.”


 

karma, tapa, yoga, jnana, vidhi-bhakti, japa, dhyana |
iha haite madhurya durlabha ||
kevala ye raga-marge, bhaje krishne anurage |
tare krishna-madhurya sulabha || (cc 2.21.119)

“Sweetness is very difficult to attain through fruitive activities, austerity, yoga, intellectual speculation, vidhi-bhakti, recitation of mantras or meditation. The sweetness of Sri Krishna is easily attainable only for the one who affectionately worships Him on the path of raga.”


 

sakala jagate more kare vidhi-bhakti |
vidhi-bhaktye vraja-bhava paite nahi sakti ||
aisvarya-jnanete saba jagat misrita |
aisvarya-sithila-preme nahi mora prita || (cc 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. I do not delight in love diluted with prowess.”


Necessity of following favourable rules of vaidhi bhakti

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 his loving faculty in relationship with God. There is no other means for tasting the ambrosial sweetness of the Vraja-pastimes of the Lord!
Srila Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj  writes: True, 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 leela-smaran. Therefore we should concentrate more on hearing, chanting and following the other rules of bhakti. Then as our chitta 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. We should note that all the parts of bhakti mentioned in vaidhi-bhakti are useful in Raganuga bhajan also. Srila Rupa Goswamipad mentions this in the verse –

“shravanot-kirtanadini vaidha-bhaktyuditani tu,
yanyangani cha tanyatra vigneyani manishibhih.” – (B.R.S.)

Here hearing and chanting also includes accepting the shelter of Sri Gurudeva’s lotus feet and other fundamentals of bhakti as well. We should realize that all the rules of bhakti that we have already mentioned, and they are the parts of vaidhi-bhakti – we should stick to them in Raganuga bhajan also.

If we do not obey the instructions of the Brijwasi Goswamis such as Sri Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami etc., how can we say we are surrendered unto them? Then how can we follow in their footsteps? The serious devotees should practice only those rules that are in accordance with their bhava and never do what is contrary to it – such as aham-grahopasana, mudra, nyas, meditating on Dwaraka, worshiping Sri Rukmini etc. Although the agam-shastras mention these processes of bhakti, a Raganuga sadhaka should not perform them.


 

Raganuga practice has two limbs – external and internal.

External practice is done with our sadhaka-body, while we perform internal sadhana by meditating on our siddha-deha. In the sadhaka-body we should hear, chant, forsake material pleasures, and serve The Deities with actual ingredients. We should meditate on our siddha-deha and serve Sri Krishna Who is our Beloved with this body for only the siddha-deha is worthy of serving the divine Couple. We should seek refuge of Srimati Radharani Who is the object of our love and surrender unto Her and Her dear ones. It is our duty to strive for that brilliant rasa and following the instructions of Sri Rupa-manjari we should collect objects in meditation for internal seva and serve the divine couple as the time and situation demands.

“bahya antar ihar dui to sadhan, bahya –
sadhak-dehe kore shraban kirtan.
mone – nija siddha-deha koriya bhabon,
ratridine kore braje radha-krishner seban.”

Meaning – “Raganuga bhajan comprises of two practices – external and internal. Externally, we should hear and chant, while we should meditate on our siddha deha and serve Sri Radha-Krishna in Vraja-dham all day and night.” – (C.C. Madhya.22.89-90)


 

Srila Jiva Goswami also states the importance of meditating in an associate form which is the basis of raganuga bhajan

tatra bhuta-suddhir nijabhilashita-bhagavat-sevopayika-tat-parshada-deha- bhavana-paryantaiva tat-sevaika-purusharthibhih karya nijanukulyat | evam yatra yatratmano nijabhishta-devata-rupatvena cintanam vidhiyate tatra tatraiva parshadatve grahanam bhavyam || Bhakti-sandarbha 286

“Thereupon one purifies his existence by contemplating on his own desired bhagavat-seva (service to the Lord) and a parshada-deha (associate-form) suitable for such service; thus one engages in the desired service for his own auspiciousness. Thus, wherever one is, he should engage in meditating on the form of his own desired devata and in the future attain the status of an associate of his.”


 

Conclusion

Srila Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj in his purport of RVC explains:

The difference between the candidates for vaidhi and raganuga bhakti is that eligibility for vaidhi bhakti is caused by ‘sraddha’ (faith) and eligibility for raganuga bhakti is caused by ‘lobha’ (sacred greed). The candidate for vaidhi bhakti gradually advances in his sadhana by keeping his faith in the purports of the scriptures and some ruci gradually awakens as a result of his reverential attitude towards the Lord, and meets with his sraddha. But this ruci remains a secondary factor, and his bhajana continues mainly on the basis of his sraddha. And the candidates for raganuga bhakti are prompted by greed after the sweet feelings of the nitya siddha Vrajavasis.Their practice of ruci-sadhana gradually develops and meets with deep sraddha; but here sraddha remains the secondary factor and ruci the primary. He remains engaged in bhajana that bears the shape of sraddha, but in which ruci is primary. This is definitely different in kind from the sraddha that prompts vaidhi bhakti and much more powerful also, because the absorption that raganuga bhakti causes within the consciousness is never created on purpose, since ruci is the innate function of the heart. This is the difference between eligibility for vaidhi and raganuga bhakti.
However, there is no difference in the course of devotion or bhajana itself. In other words, all the items that are named as the items of vaidhi bhakti, such as hearing and chanting, are also to be practised in raganuga bhakti.

 

 

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