Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
What’s Favorable For Raganuga-bhakti?
Four Discussions with Iskcon GBC Members
On Raga-Vartma-Candrika [Part 8]
Mathura, India: 1991
[Respected Harikatha Readers,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
For those of you who did not receive Parts 1-7, which have been sent to the harikatha mailing list over the past few weeks, you can find them on www.backtobhakti.com and www.purebhakti.com.
Part 8 assumes that you have read the first 7 parts. For those of you who have not have done so, or those of you who would like a reminder, we have put in “fill-ins” from the English translation of Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja’s Hindi translation of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s Raga-vartma-candrika book in the indented paragraphs. This will tie together any possible loose ends.
To hear the audio files of these discussions, please log on to:
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: First I explained abhista-bhava-mayi, which may be in an unripe or ripe stage. In the stage of sadhana it is the absorption that “We are gopis;” and in the siddha stage we will actually become gopis. In both cases, it is abhista-bhava-mayi.
Next is bhava-sambandhi upadhana-karana. These are activities we must perform, like hearing and remembering. These practices must not be neglected for any reason. Regarding nimitta-karana practices, if we cannot follow them under certain circumstances, it is not harmful; therefore it is considered secondary.
Vamsidasa Babaji Maharaja and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami were fully absorbed in Krsna-lila for so many days, and Ekadasi came and left during that time of absorption. For them there was no harm. On the other hand, if there are occasions that we do not follow, this is harmful for us. That is why nimitta-karana is called secondary.
Which of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti are to be practiced in raganuga-bhakti? How many types of practices are there? What are their characteristics?
Which are essential, and which are to be disregarded? To answer these questions, sastra sets down five types of devotional practices:
abhista-bhava-mayi – saturated with one’s cherished mood
abhista-bhava-sambandhi – related to one’s cherished mood
abhista-bhava-anukula – favorable to one’s cherished mood
abhista-bhava-aviruddha – neutral to one’s cherished mood
abhista-bhava -viruddha – detrimental to one’s cherished mood.
Here, svabhista means the mood that a sadhaka aspires to attain. Some of these five categories are both the sadhana and sadhya. (That is, the nature of the practices never changes; the only difference is that in the stage of sadhana they are in an unripe state, while in the stage of sadhya they are ripe.) To achieve the goal of prema, some are direct, or ingredient, causes (upadana-karana) and others are indirect, or instrumental, causes (nimitta-karana); some are signs of bhajana (such as tilaka, tulasi-mala, dress meant for the different asramas, and so on); some are helpful; some are neutral; and some are harmful. All of these classifications will be explained.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Kartika-vrata may fall in the category of either upadhana-karana or nimitta-karana. When it is followed in accordance with the rules of renunciation, avoiding certain foods and activities, then it is in the category of nimitta-karana. When it is followed in accordance with the principles of hearing and chanting the names and glories of Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna, then it is in the category of upadana-karana and is bhava-sambandhi. If vairagya is observed during Kartika, that is good, but sravanam-kirtanam during Kartika must not be neglected.
Actually, every vrata (vow) is of two kinds: upadhana-karana and nimitta-karana. When it is upadana-karana it cannot be missed; while if under certain circumstances, if we fail to practice this or other limbs of nimitta-karana, there is no harm.
For example, I once went to Sri Govindaji Mandira in Jaipur during Kartika month. When the pujaris requested me to take maha-prasadam, I told them, “I am so lucky that you are giving me this maha-prasadam of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda,” after which they brought me rice, lauki (bottle-gourd), and eggplant. Devotees are not supposed to take lauki or eggplant during Kartika, but I accepted them as maha-prasada, placing them upon my head with great honor. At that time I was thinking, “Sri Govindaji is the established Deity of Srila Rupa Gosvami. To respect His maha-prasada is upadana-karana,” so I respected it. On the other hand, here in our mandira, we tell the devotees not to prepare lauki, eggplant, and all other foodstuffs which are restricted during Kartika.
Applying gopi-candana-tilaka and nama-mudra (stamping the names of Krsna on one’s body with tilaka), which are nimitta-karana, are in the category of bhava-anukula.
Burijana dasa: Anukula?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, this is the third. First is bhava-mayi, second is bhava-sambandhi, and now, third, is bhava-anukula.
Anukula means ‘favorable.’ Practices in the category of bhava-anukula begin with worship of Tulasi devi by offering her obeisances, watering her, and so on; and parikrama (circumambulation of Tulasi, the Deities, and the holy dhamas). These practices are favorable, and should therefore be performed.
Other practices include worship of cows, dhatri (myrobalan) trees, asvattha (pipal, or banyan) trees, and offering respect to brahmanas. *[See endnote 1] Do you understand? These are among sixty-four kinds of bhakti listed in Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu and are somewhat favorable.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Somewhat favorable.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: They are somewhat favorable and beneficial (upakari). We follow the instructions of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami in his Sri Mana-siksa: “Sujane bhusura-gane.” Bhusura refers to respecting the brahmanas. At the same time, if a raganuga Vaisnava has no time for these practices, there is no harm, because they are nimitta-karana and beneficial.
So these are bhava-anukula; they are favorable. Do you understand?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Favorable, but not essential.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, not essential.
Accepting tulasi, sandalpaste, perfume, garlands and garments which have been offered to Bhagavan is bhava-sambandhi.
Wearing a tulasi-wood mala (neck-beads) and adorning the body with Vaisnava signs such as tilaka, stamps of the holy name and of the Lord’s footprints marked in gopi-candana, and so on are bhava-anukula, or favorable to the development of one’s desired mood. Serving Tulasi, doing parikrama and offering pranama are also bhava-anukula.
Next is bhava-avirudha – not unfavorable, and not favorable.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Which things? Those you have already mentioned?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: I will mention them now.
Burijana dasa: Now comes the fourth category.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Avirudha means…
Burijana dasa: Unfavorable.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Not unfavorable, yet not necessarily favorable.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives an example: Krsna wanted to drink milk from the breast of Yasoda, and at the same time the milk she had kept on the fire was going…
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Overflowing.
Sripad Dhanudhara Maharaja: Boiling over.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yasoda forcibly put Krsna down in order to attend the milk. Although Krsna was weeping and very angry, she went to protect the milk on the stove. This indicates that we should protect the things that Krsna likes even more than protecting Krsna Himself. We should favor these things more than Krsna – because they will be used in His service.
Now the first chapter (First Illumination) will be completed.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: How many chapters are there?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: There are two chapters. The first was long, and the second can be completed in one day’s discussion.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that for the raganuga-bhakta, although sravanam, kirtanam, and smaranam are superior, the management of kirtana is not less important.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Can you explain that again please?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: For example, I may say to someone, “Oh, come here; play the mrdanga;” And to someone else I may say, “Oh, you should come and do kirtana.” One person may be making arrangements and managing in preparation for the kirtana performance, and another may be doing pracara (preaching) in order to enthuse others to attend. This is not less than that.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Not less than…?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Not less than sravanam and kirtanam.
Burijana dasa: It supports.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: At first sravanam and kirtanam are superior to managing, but ultimately management will be transferred into sravanam and kirtanam.
Burijana dasa: You mentioned preaching. Does that preaching refer to preaching about raganuga-bhakti, or any kind? Does it refer even to vaidhi-bhakti preaching?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: That devotee should have raganuga-bhakti in his heart, but he can do any kind of preaching in support of sankirtana, meaning sravanam, kirtanam, and smaranam.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Does management come in the category of…?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: For example, you are preaching, managing, and holding meetings; you are going here and there in order to promote nama-sankirtana. There is no alternative – you must perform these duties. At the same time, it is essential to internally maintain a certain mood while engaging in these activities. When that mood is present; there is no harm in such activities; they are favorable.
The fifth category for the raganuga-sadhakas is bhava-virudha. These are the activities they reject: Ahangrahopasana (considering oneself to be non-different from the object of worship), nyasa mudras (various procedures of intertwining the fingers during worship), Dvaraka and mahisi-dhyana (meditation on Sri Krsna’s Dvaraka pastimes and worship of His queens). The previously-mentioned practices, those in the category of bhava-avirudha, may be helpful, but these are directly harmful and should be rejected.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: So you are saying that the arrangement, management, and preaching for the purpose of kirtana are not less important?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: And also the preparing and sewing of Krsna’s clothes.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: These are not less than kirtana or smarana?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes. This is because they will be transferred further into that. [This is because their beautiful arrangement will prompt glorification of the Deities. -ed]
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What does ‘transferred further’ mean?
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: It means ‘in the future.’
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: In the future it will turn into kirtana and smarana.
One must respect all the limbs of bhakti, beginning with sravanam kirtanam visnu-smaranam; but among all the limbs, smaranam (rememberance, or meditation) of Krsna is superior.
It was mentioned earlier that smarana is the primary limb of raganuga-bhakti. But one should understand that smarana is dependent on kirtana. In the present age of Kali, it is the practice of kirtana that grants the eligibility to enter into bhajana, because as all the sastras proclaim, kirtana has monarchy over all the other limbs of bhakti and bestows the highest result.
Asakti (attachment) is of two kinds: asakti for the limbs of sadhana (devotional practices leading to the goal) and asakti for Krsna and His associates. Both are good, but later on asakti in sravanam, kirtanam, and all such practices of sadhana-bhakti will transfer into asakti in remembering Krsna and His associates.
In this way, asakti begins as bhava-anukula (activities that are favorable for raganuga-bhakti) and later on becomes bhava-mayi (complete absorption in one’s cherished goal).
Burijana dasa: What is the difference between practices that are neutral (bhava-avirudha, practices that are neither favorable nor unfavorable for raganuga-bhakti) and nimitta (practices that are supportive and beneficial, but not essential)?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You should read about this, and then we will discuss.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Yes, we need to see this typed out. We need to read it, because if we read it again we will be very clear. We need to see the categories.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has explained what I have just related to you, and when you attain siddha-sarira (your spiritual body) you will realize all these truths. In the preliminary stage you cannot have an exact idea.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti concludes this section by saying, “I am explaining these truths to you, and if you have not understood properly, it is my fault that I could not make you understand. May God and the suddha-bhaktas (pure devotees) forgive me for this.”
We will complete Raga-vartma-candrika after one more day’s discussion.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: I have just one or two practical questions – quick questions. I asked you this once before, but I again want to make sure.
This has happened two times in different places, regarding the small vigraha (Deity) in our temple. Normally the small murti (Deity) should be made from asta-dhatu (eight precious metals) or some brass. But the Deity we installed is made of marble. What if one of the Deities breaks?
When I asked you this before, you said to replace it; but the other one has not yet broken. So the small marble Krsna murti broke, but the Radharani marble one did not break. So, you said “Okay, you can replace the Krsna murti.” Then I said, “What about Radharani?” So you said, “She is not broken.”
But the problem is that because She is made of marble, we fear that fifty or a hundred years from now it may again happen. So, we are thinking that both should be replaced with brass murtis so that they will always be safe.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: But They have had prana-pratistha (the Vedic installation ceremony). So you should have the Krsna murti replaced with marble stone and again the installation, and then give Them to any disciple or keep Them as a vigraha (Deity in the temple).
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Give which one?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Radha and Krsna who were there originally.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: And give them to someone?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: But it is not so easy to worship Radha and Krsna at home; maybe no one will do that.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: If our father is dead and our mother is alive, should we also leave our mother and tell her, “You should go”?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: You told me that last time also. You gave the same answer – but I have a question. Because it is in the temple, bhoga is offered five times every day, and so many other things are being offered. So if we give the Deity to someone in their home, must they continue the same worship?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Two times will do, or as the devotee can do.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: So for the temple, both Radha and Krsna can be replaced with brass Deities, and the marble ones can be given to someone who is at home?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, to a home, or to any existing mandira (temple), or to a new mandira.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Then the same problem may come with breaking; better in the home, I think.
I have one other question: On a piece of property that we have in Vrndavana there is an old drumstick tree.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Kadamba?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: No, a vegetable (sabji) tree.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Sajana?
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Sajana.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: It is only giving a few sabjis, and it is a very old tree. If we want to make any building, it is in the way. But it is in Vrndavana, so can it be cut down or not?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Is it alive?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: It is alive.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Is it old? If they take it from there and plant it in another place, will it not remain alive?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: No. It has to be cut down.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You should act according to your idea.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Oh, I cannot take the responsibility for that decision; therefore I am asking you. This tree is right on the property, and it means the building cannot… and I mean, it is not a Kadamba tree; it is not... People say that the sabji tree is not very useful.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: On the other hand, we see that all things of Vrndavana are cinmaya (transcendental, spiritual). They want to do bhajana, and in fact they are doing bhajana.
It may be cut down only for building a temple.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: But if it is for somebody’s residence?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You should, and they should...
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Think about it?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Think about it. Don’t ask me.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Actually, this was not my idea. They suggested this to me and I at once thought that we do not have the right to cut down anything growing in Vrndavana. After so many thousands and millions of lives this tree has taken birth here, so we don’t have the right. So I wanted to ask you, but they said, “No, this tree is not so useful.” I thought, “It is not correct.”
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You should think about it. I will not order that you should cut it or not cut it.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: No, I will not take that responsibility.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, we should not take the responsibility. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was in the midst of constructing Krsna-kunda (next to Radha-kunda). He was planning to cut down the trees that were standing on the bank of Syama-kunda as he was constructing its shape, but those trees appeared to him in his dream and told him, “Please don’t cut us down. We are doing bhajana here” After receiving that dream, he considered, “Krsna is crooked, He is tri-bhanga (bent in three places); He doesn’t want to be straight. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami had constructed Radha-kunda in a square-shape, but decided to leave Krsna-kunda in a ‘crooked’ shape by retaining the land around those sacred trees; he did not cut them. Now, however, after five-hundred years, we see that some of them are going away by themselves.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Cutting down?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Not cutting.
Burijana dasa: Leaving.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Oh, the trees are leaving.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Svami: I have one short question. Do the husbands of the manjaris come from Javat?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: His question is that Javat is the home of Srimati Radhika’s in-laws – Abhimanyu (Radhika’s so-called husband), Jatila (Her mother-in-law), etc. When we went there, you told us that the other friends of Radhika reside with Her there. So his question is this: does this mean that their so-called husbands also live in Javat?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It may be, or may not be. For example Visakha, comes from Kamai, but she has relations in that village.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: In Javat?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: In Javat, and also in the house of...
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Jatila.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Jatila also. Visakha is related to Jatila and Kutila and so many others. Javat is a big village, and therefore so many relations of the gopis live there. By making any excuse, or by cheating, they tell their husbands, “I am going to see my sister,” or “I am going to my...” – any relation – or, “I am going to such and such place.” By telling such things, they come and serve Srimati Radhika. Somehow or other they serve Srimati Radhika.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Svami: Somehow they are there.
Sripad Giriraja Svami: You gave the example of the milk. You said that if somebody wants milk, then he will learn that he has to get a cow with a calf and do so many things. But the real purpose is that he wants the milk. In that regard, some years ago I made the resolution that I would do whatever I have to do, whatever is necessary, to get the association of Guru Maharaja (Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja) again. What category does that come in?
In other words, for the last so many years we have been doing so many services. But we are not doing those things because of the injunctions of the scriptures which say that if we don’t do them we will go to hell or something like that. We were doing those things with the idea that if we follow, we will get the association of Guru Maharaja again. So, is that comparable to greed in raganuga-bhakti?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It is in the category of vaidhi-bhakti, because he was expressing everything to you according to the orders of sastra (the Vedic scriptures). He was not instructing you in the matter of developing greed, because he didn’t want to tell these superlative subjects to ordinary persons. He was preaching to create faith in the principles of vaidhi-bhakti. This is called pracara (preaching and giving instructions according to sastra). Raganuga-bhakti cannot be preached; it is vyakti-gata, meaning…
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Individual.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: His question was a little different.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: “Is to obey and have the association of your Gurudeva raganuga or vaidhi?” Is this your question?
Sripad Giriraja Svami: Not exactly.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then what is it?
Sripad Giriraja Svami: If someone follows the injunctions of the sastra, and is convinced on the basis of the sastra, that is vaidhi-bhakti. But if somebody has greed to obtain some object...
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: What object?
Sripad Giriraja Svami: Well, that person wants to have love for Krsna in the mood of one of His associates.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: There are only three kinds of moods for which one may have greed in raganuga-bhakti [sakhya-rasa (the mood of Krsna’s cowherd friend), vatsalya-rasa (the mood of Krsna’s parent), and madhurya-rasa (the mood of Krsna’s beloved, more specifically the service of Srimati Radhika)]. Any other greed will not be accepted as raganuga.
Sripad Giriraja Svami: I will give another example to explain the question. In the beginning, one has asakti (attachment) for sravanam, kirtanam, and smaranam. Then later, that asakti becomes transferred to Krsna and His eternal associates; but both are asakti. So in the beginning we have the desire to have the association of our Guru Maharaja, but we are thinking of him as we knew him here in this world. Now it seems that the same desire can be transformed when the idea of Guru Maharaja’s identity becomes more clear – his eternal identity in Krsna’s service.
Burijana dasa: He is asking this: if we are thinking of Guru Maharaja as a manjari for instance, and we desire...
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: How will he understand when he is doing nothing and knows nothing about all the facts regarding the performance of raganuga-bhakti. It will not be raganuga.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Svami: What if one has greed to have darsana of his guru again? Is that the question?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: If one has truly received diksa, and he has had sufficient connection with his Gurudeva in his past lives and in this life, and he has sufficient samskaras (past impressions on the heart), then it may be said that he has greed. But we must consider whether or not that greed is genuine.
If you are serving and hearing from your Gurudeva and doing vaidhi-bhakti, then, after that, by your Gurudeva’s or any rasika Vaisnava’s association you may gradually come to raganuga-bhakti. However, if we see someone who, without any help, without taking proper diksa, has that greed – like…
Burijana dasa: Raya Ramananda.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Well, Raya Ramananda is Visakha devi.
Sripad Giriraja Svami: Haridas Thakura.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Srila Haridas Thakura or, more so, Bilvamangala; then we should know it is real greed and that devotee is raganuga. By one’s actions and thinking we will know whether or not a person is raganuga. We should know that one’s bhakti will be vaidhi at first, and after that, by hearing from Gurudeva or a rasika Vaisnava, greed can come.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Svami: But Giriraja Maharaja’s greed is not out of fear of the sastras. He has so much love for Prabhupada that he will do anything to get his darsana again. He will manage; he will go to any place in the world; he will do sravanam, kirtanam. He will go to all our programs. So he is asking, “What is that greed?”
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: That sort of greed is in vaidhi-bhakti. And, by guru’s mercy, if guru creates that greed, then it will become raganuga.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Svami: But that greed is out of love; it is not because “I am fearful because the sastra says,” it is out of...
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: If you truly know that your Gurudeva is Vinoda Manjari, or any manjari, and if you have genuine greed to serve him in that form, then it will be raganuga, or, more specifically, rupanuga. On the other hand, if you have greed to serve him with knowledge only of the form you have seen, his form as a sadhaka, it is not raganuga; it is vaidhi-sadhana. Is this clear?
Sripad Dhanurdhara Svami: It is very clear. Perfect.
Burijana dasa: You did answer it before, though.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You should know all these truths; but you don’t have that book, Raga-vartma-candrika, so I am explaining it to you in brief.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: But your instruction to do japa while meditating on Krsna’s pastimes was so effective; it is so much effective.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You are so lucky that in a short time you know the effect and have realized it.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: It is due to coming in your association.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: So, now we have discussed abhista-bhava-mayi, abhista-bhava-sambandhi, abhista-bhava-anukula, abhista-bhava aviruddha, and abhista-bhava-viruddha.
Absorption in dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya are called abhista-bhava-mayi (saturated with one’s cherished mood). Hearing about, glorifying and performing other limbs of bhajana in these moods nourish the sadhaka’s creeper of prema. Thus, these activities are called bhava-mayi-sadhana. Upon the manifestation of prema, such sravana, kirtana, and so on is called bhava-mayi-sadhya. Hence, these practices of bhajana are both the means and the goal.
The practices of bhajana, beginning with taking shelter of Sri Guru and including mantra-japa, meditation, and so on, are upadana-karana, the ingredient, or material, cause for attaining the goal of prema, and are called bhava-sambandhi (related to one’s desired feeling or mood). Sastra enjoins a perpetual duty in the phrase “Japen nityam ananya-dhih – one must do japa every day with one-pointed attention.”
Ganoddesa Dipika states that it is one’s duty to chant the krsna-nama maha-mantra which is associated with one’s desired relationship with Krsna. The japa or kirtana of sri krsna-nama that specifically alludes to those whom one follows in siddha-rupa should be understood to be bhava-sambandhi, because it is upadana-karana, the ingredient cause of bhava.…continuous engagement in bhava-sambandhi sadhana is obligatory…
Raganuga-sadhakas are advised not to practice ahan-grahopasana (considering oneself as non-different from the object of worship), nyasa (various elaborate practices for chanting mantras and doing arcana), meditation on the moods of Dvaraka, and worship of Rukmini and other queens, even though these are included in the limb of arcana and are mentioned in Tantra sastra.
We have discussed all these topics. Do you remember them?
Sripad Giriraja Svami: I remember that we discussed them.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Now we are beginning the Second Illumination of Raga-vartma-candrika. Here, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is expressing a concern: One may think that “Krsna is always engaged in vilasa (amorous pastimes) with the gopis, performing rasa-lila with them and sporting with them. He has forgotten everything else – His house and His duties. He is not aware of whether or not any danger or any enemy is approaching. He knows no fear and has no ‘chinta’s…”
Burijana dasa: No anxiety.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: No thoughts about this?
Burijana dasa: No worries.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes. “He has no worries. He doesn’t know at that time what is victory or defeat. He is simply engaged in relishing His loving pastimes in the association of the gopis. He is always engaged in trying to please the gopis, and the gopis are always thinking, ‘How can we make Krsna happy?’”
He remains completely unaware of anything else – any kind of loss, lamentation, household duties, calamity, fear, anxiety, defeat at the hands of His enemies, or anyone else.
So one may ask, “When Krsna has forgotten everything, who will hear the prayers of His raganuga-bhaktas? Who will give them consolation and blessings? Who will fulfill their objectives?”
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that some persons propose that Paramatma, the partial expansion of Krsna (as the Supersoul in the hearts of all living entities), will hear the raganuga-bhakta’s prayers, because He comes in the form of witness in the heart of every jiva soul.
But Srila Cakravarti Thakura says that no raganuga-bhaktas will be satisfied with Paramatma, because Paramatma is unaware of the raganuga-bhakta’s mood. Paramatma is not sufficient for them.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Why is Paramatma not sufficient?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: He is not rasika. He is only the witness of the jiva’s activities, and He gives the fruits of the jiva’s karma. He is bound in His duty. The raganuga-bhaktas will not be satisfied even by Narayana. They will not be satisfied even by Ramacandra and Dvarakadhisa, what to speak of Their partial expansions?
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that Sri Krsna – Vrajendra-nandana-Syamasundara, Gopikanta – will hear. But how? He is engaged in the enchantment of the gopis’ love and has forgotten everything else, so how will He hear? The answer is that there are two special qualities in Krsna; sarvajnata and mugdhata.
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Charmed.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Mugdhata.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Mugdha means that by the power of Sri Krsna’s prema, He is like an innocent and ignorant child.
For example when Krsna was in Dvaraka, He called Uddhava and told him that there were two very important works to be done. One would be to kill Jarasandha, and the other would be to accept the Pandavas’ invitation to come and join the rajasuya-yajna. Krsna told Uddhava, “Both are equally important. What should I do?”
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that if Krsna were only sarvajna, omniscient, knowing everything past, future, and present, why did He seek Uddhava’s advice? We can say that maybe Krsna was pretending to be ignorant, but from the subject it is seen that He was not pretending.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: It was too grave. The subject was too serious.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Uddhava replied, “You called me over and, just like an ordinary, simple-minded person, You asked me, ‘O Uddhava, what is My duty in this situation?’ Although You are full of unlimited, eternal knowledge that is undivided and unimpeded by time and space, still You questioned me, just as an innocent person approaches someone wise for advice about some weighty matter.
In order to render service, Uddhava continued, “My dear Lord, first of all I think that You should immediately go there to help the King in this great venture. At the same time, it is Your duty to give protection to the surrendered souls. Both purposes can be served if we understand the whole situation. Unless one is victorious over all kings, one cannot perform this Rajasuya sacrifice. In other words, King Yudhisthira cannot perform this great sacrifice without gaining victory over the King Jarasandha. We must first kill Jarasandha, and then all our purposes will automatically be served.”
Appreciating Uddhava’s solution, Krsna replied, “Uddhava, you are certainly very intelligent. I will do as you advise.”
We see that sarvajnata and mugdhata co-exist in each and every one of Bhagavan’s pastimes. Therefore, we must accept this as being accomplished by His inconceivable potency.
Another example: Kunti prayed to Krsna, “I remember the pastime when Yasoda was going to bind Your waist. You were crying bitterly, and that crying was not imitation. So I am astonished. Fear personified fears You, yet You were afraid of the stick in the hands of Yasoda.”
This is called mugdhata, knowing nothing – like a very innocent child knows nothing. This mugdhata occurs by the influence of Yogamaya.
If a person is overpowered by the illusory material maya of Krsna, he feels happiness and suffering for many births under that illusory energy. His happiness and sufferings are all the work of maya, meaning ‘forgetfulness of Krsna.’ Are Krsna’s mugdhata and sarva-jnata the fruits of this maya? No. Krsna is not under the influence of Brahma-maya, or even Balarama’s maya. Rather, His illusion is the result of His prema, His bhakta-vatsalya (His desire to please His devotees). He loves His devotees so much that in their association He knows nothing; that is, He forgets everything else.
Someone may propose: “One should understand that sarvajnata (omniscience) here indicates an abundance of maha-aisvarya (great opulence) devoid of madhurya (sweetness), while madhurya is simply the mugdhata (bewilderment) that results from completely setting aside aisvarya and imitating nara-lila, human-like behavior,” but only dull-headed people will speak like this.
Therefore, the conclusion regarding madhurya and related topics is that whether maha-aisvarya is exhibited or not, if the mood of human-like pastimes is not transgressed even slightly, then it is called madhurya. For example, when Sri Krsna killed the demoness Putana, He enacted the pastime of sucking her breast, behaving just like an ordinary human child. While breaking the terrifying and hard-hearted cart demon (Sakatasura) with His extremely tender lotus feet, Sri Krsna maintained His human-like behavior as a small baby of only three months, lying flat on His back…
Moreover, even though aisvarya is present when Krsna is seen performing the pastimes of stealing milk and yogurt and acting with transcendental amorous affection towards the gopa-ramanis (the enchanting young cowherd maidens), that aisvarya is not apparent. If mugdhata were to be called madhurya simply because without displaying any aisvarya, it corresponds to human activities, then the mugdhata shown by a restless and playful mundane child would also have to be called madhurya. Therefore, it is completely wrong to explain madhurya in this way.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: It’s not by Yogamaya? It’s by prema?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, prema; and that prema is Yogamaya. Yogamaya is nothing other than the personification of Krsna’s prema. There are so many functions of prema, such as Yogamaya, atmamaya (internal potency), Srimati Radhika, and hladini-sakti (internal pleasure potency). All these are specific manifestations of prema.
Due to prema, Krsna becomes sarvajna and mugdha at the same time. Thus, when He is engaged with the gopis in rasa-lila and other loving pastimes, if any raganuga-bhakta in this world worships Him and the gopis and prays to them, then, even though Krsna is mugdha in rasa-lila, He is sarvajna and will fulfill the desire of that raganuga-bhakta. For him, He hears everything.
[To be continued…]
[* Endnote 1, from Jaiva-dharma
Vijaya: Why do the dhatri, myrobalan tree, and the pipal tree, etc., have a special worshipable status, as stated in the tenth limb of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti?
Raghunatha dasa Babaji: "The Skanda Purana states:
pujitah pranata-dhyatah ksapayanti nrnam agham
"All of one's sins are absolved, if one worships, offers obeisances to, and meditates upon the sacred pipal, banyan, tulasi, and dhatri trees, and the cow, brahmanas, and Vaisnavas."
As a part of maintaining household life within the varnasrama social system, the vaidhi-bhakti devotee must worship, respect, and meditate upon the banyan, pipal and other shade-giving trees; the dhatri (myrobalan) and other fruit-bearing trees; tulasi and other plants inspiring devotion; the cow and other universally beneficial animals; the brahmanas, who teach religion and maintain religious principles; and the Vaisnavas, the devotees of the Lord who purify the whole world.]
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