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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Nine types of rāgānugā, empowered preachers, seeing Kṛṣṇa, Mahaviṣṇu's parakīya rasa.

Madanmohan Mandir on Dwadasaditya ṭīlā, Vrindavan appr. 1789

Bhakta: "It is sometimes said that of the nine types of bhakti [śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ smaraṇaṁ pāda sevanam etc], only the last two, sakhyam and ātma nivedanam, are rāgānugā bhakti."

Advaitadas: "I do not see how. This is not what the ācāryas say in their commentaries on the famous verse. Let us go through them, one by one.

śravaṇam means hearing of the mañjarīs' service to Radharani from rasika Vaiṣṇavas,
kīrtanam means Rasa kīrtan or Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā kīrtan, 
smaranam is the very pillar of rāgānugā bhakti. Viśvanātha Cakravartī has proclaimed rāgānugā bhakti to be a mental religion par excellence.
pāda sevanam or paricarya is practical service like cleaning Radhakund,
vandanam is reciting stotras like Vilapa Kusumanjali or Radharasa Sudhanidhi.
arcanam means worshipping Giridhari, the way Sriman Mahaprabhu taught Srila Raghunath Das Goswami,
dāsya means radha dasya, or manjari bhava, 
sakhya is either gopa bhava or the friendship the manjaris cherish with Radhika, although they are maidservants, and
ātma nivedanam is glossed by the acaryas as offering one's body. This too can be done in both sadhaka- and siddha-deha in raganuga bhakti. "

Bhakta: "Great Prabhu Santānas (descendants of the Lord) like Sādhu Bābā and Madangopāl Goswāmī preached boldly and with great success, should we not do the same thing?"

Advaitadas: "About the bold preaching of our Guru-janas, please remember that 'kṛṣṇa śakti vinā iha nahi pravartan' [CC] - without empowerment by Kṛṣṇa one cannot promulgate this. What our great brahmin superiors could do we cannot imitate. Not in this lifetime, perhaps in a future lifetime. When that power is placed in your hands you must use it, as a matter of duty. That is not for us in this lifetime. I can see that clearly in my own life, as I fail to recruit even one serious bhakta for my Sādhu Bābā. This should not be seen as a 'failure' - its just not our duty for us in this lifetime. Now we just study and do nāma."

Bhakta: "Is it allright to tell people you have seen Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "It is not so easy to see Kṛṣṇa  for starters, but even if you see Him you should not make a big show of your own advancement by telling everyone. Sanātan Goswāmī was a nitya siddha, Labanga Mañjarī, and he told Śrīman Mahāprabhu: 'I do not know who Kṛṣṇa is, I only know that Your mercy saved me." As far as I am concerned, I have seen Sādhu Bābā, Śrī Rādhākund and Girirāja. I have read the Bhāgavat and the Goswāmīs' books and I have taken Harināma - this is how I have experienced Kṛṣṇa and I know for sure He is there on the other side of the veil of my mind, senses, intellect and ego. As my elder Guru-brother Nirañjan Bābu said: "I have not seen Kṛṣṇa - I have never seen Him but I have seen my Gurudeva (so I know there is Kṛṣṇa)."

Bhakta: "Is not a Guru supposed to have seen Kṛṣṇa? It says tattva darśina in the Bhagavad Gītā's Guru-verse (4.34)."

Advaitadas: "Only Śrīdhara Swāmī and Baladeva discuss this word in their ṭīkās. Śrīdhara Swāmī says 'aparokṣānubhava-sampannā', someone who has attained experiences of intangible matters.' This does seem to refer to seeing Kṛṣṇa indeed because in Bhakti Sandarbha (202) Jīva Goswāmī says: pare brahmaṇi bhagavad-ādi-rūpāvirbhāve’parokṣānubhavena niṣṇātaṁ tathaiva niṣṭhāṁ prāptam - "He has experience of intangible matters of para Brahman, in the form of the Lord and so and has become fixed in that." This is under the heading of 'śravaṇa guru', though. Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa says about tattva darśina - 'tajjñāna pracārakāḥ - preachers of spiritual knowledge'. It is, of course, impossible to see on the outside what is going on on the inside of the Guru. Ultimately only God knows if the Guru has really seen Him. Therefore the least we can do is sit at the feet of Śrī Guru and listen. If he speaks truth and is morally sound we can faithfully adopt him as a genuine teacher."

Bhakta: "It is described in the Bhāgavata that Mahāviṣṇu has a type of parakīya relationship with Māyā [Durgā] - though she is Shiva's spouse, Mahaviṣṇu impregnates her with all conditioned souls at the time of creation, using His glance."

Advaitadas: "Yes. Of course, Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.33.35 says that all living beings are anyway part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa so He owns everyone, including the gopis and Durgā. Brahma Saṁhitā seems to suggest the creation is done by Shiva, but Brahma Saṁhitā 5.10 says that Mahaviṣṇu appears in him as his glance."


  1. The idea that some of the nice processes of bhakti are concerned principly with raganuga sadhana seems to be a somewhat widespread phenomenon within Iskcon.

    Once, I attended a program in America during which a senior disciple of Bhaktivedanta Swami led a discussion about the song by Govinda dasa, "Bhajahu Re Mana…". The lecturing devotee described the lyrics "dasya", "sakhi-jana" and "atma-nivedana", mentioned in the final verse, as being reserved solely for raga-sadhana. This struck me as odd, as I didn't recall Srila Rupa Gosvamipada describing these processes as such. When I finally consulted Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, I did indeed discover that Gosvamipada first discusses all nine processes in regard to vaidhi-sadhana before stating later in the text that these processes are also conducive for raga-sadhana. Unfortunately, I do not have the book at hand to quote the appropriate verses.

    In any case, misconceptions like these appear to be considerably deep-seated in Iskcon. Perhaps its perpetuation stems from the institution's warning against premature adoption of raganuga-sadhana among the ineligible.

  2. The word "nice" in the first paragraph of the first post should read "nine." Apologies for the oversight.