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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Retraction on Vṛṣṇis

On page 14 of my essay ‘Qualification for raganuga bhakti’ on my website , linktab 'Articles', I rejected the following notion of Sripad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, in his book The Nectar of Devotion:

“Spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa as exhibited by the Vṛṣṇis and the denizens of Vṛndāvana is eternally existing in them.”

“Persons desiring to follow in the footsteps of such eternal devotees of the Lord as the Vṛṣṇis and Vṛndāvana denizens are called rāgānugā-devotees, which means that they are trying to attain to the perfection of those devotees.”

I have, however, learned from Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu that Swāmiji was actually correct. BRS 1.2.275 (BRS 1.2.270-309 deal exclusively with rāgānugā bhakti) mentions the Vṛṣṇis in sambandhānuga rāgānugā bhakti, quoting SB 7.1.30:

sambandhād vṛṣṇayaḥ snehād yūyaṁ bhaktyā vayaṁ vibho

“The Yādavas attained Kṛṣṇa through their relationship with him.”

śrī-jīvaḥ: gopya iti—pūrva-rāgāvasthā jñeyaḥ evaṁ vṛṣṇādayo’pi 275

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī’s ṭīkā: “So also with the Vṛṣṇis”

Again the same in verse 288 of the same chapter:

sambandha-rūpa govinde pitṛtvādy-abhimānita atropalakṣaṇatayā vṛṣṇīnāṁ vallava mataḥ yadaiśya-jñāna-śūnyatvād eṣāṁ rāge pradhānata

„It is not only the Vṛṣṇis but also the cowherds who have sambandha bhakti, on account of their parental self-esteem. On account of their predominance of rāga (as they consider Him his relative) they are devoid of the knowledge of Kṛṣṇa's aiśvarya."

And in verse 307

tathā hi śrūyate śāstre kaścit kurupuri-sthitaḥ
nanda-sūnor adhiṣṭhānaṁ tatra putratayā bhajan
nāradasyopadeśena siddho’bhūd vṛddha-vārdhakiḥ

"It is heard in scripture that an old man in Hastināpura attained perfection by considering Nanda’s son to be his son and being instructed in this by Nārada.”

The refutation is deleted from the essay.


  1. Advaitadas, I have never heard of other devotees besides the Vrajabasis (and Nabadwip residents) being raganuga bhaktas. Which Vrishnis? Is Uddhava a Vrishni? Are some of the residents of Dwaraka engaged in raganuga bhakti? Wow!

  2. Jiva Gosvami echoes the same in Bhakti-sandarbha, anucchedas 320-325. He cites the kAmAd dveSAt bhayAt snehAt verse and the subsequent text (BhP 7.1.30-31) as an example of raganuga. The end of anuccheda 321 mentions Vrishnis and Pandavas. Indeed, the Bhagavata text notes, sambandhAd vRSNayaH snehAd yUyaM bhaktyA vayaM vibho - through sambandha the Vrishnis, and through devotion "you" (the Pandavas).

    He also notes (beginning of 325) that in raganuga, Krishna is the main object (tad evaM rAgAnugA sAdhitA, sA ca zrI-kRSNa eva mukhyA) - leaving open the possibility of other forms of god also being objects of raganuga. Indeed, he even notes: kintv anyatra caturbhujAkAra eva - Sometimes the four-armed form may also be an object of raganuga!

    If memory serves, this is featured in the works of some of the Alvars. That is, assuming the license for becoming attracted to four-armed forms applies all the way to Vaikuntha, which I am assuming it is, since Krishna was noted as the main object, not the sole object of raga.

    Jiva is quick to add, though, that suddha-raga only exists in Gokula (tatra ca zuddhasya rAgasya zrI-gokula eva darzanAt tatra tu rAgAnugA mukhyatamA yatra khalu svayaM bhagavAn api teSAM putrAdi-bhAvenaiva vilasati) -- something he notes again towards the end of the chapter.