Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Vraja Kishore: A Few Words about Raganuga Bhakti

[PADA: Some interesting points are made herein. ys pd]

“Raganuga Sadhana deals with Krishna’s intimate Vraja-lila and therefore is not appropriate for the general public. Thus Raganuga should not be the focus of a preaching mission.”

Krishna’s intimate Vraja-lila is not appropriate for the general public, why did the acarya who took Krishna consciousness to the general global public immediately present “The Krishna Book” – the intimate lila from the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam? Why did he also immediately publish Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and a presentation of Sri Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu (as Nectar of Devotion)?

It seems clear that this acarya did not exactly share the notion that Krishna’s Vraja-lila is not appropriate for the general public. Nor did Vyasa himself subscribe to it, for Vyasa highlighted Krishna’s intimate Vraja-lila in Srimad Bhagavatam – the Veda he wrote especially for the general public in the most morally debased epoch, kali-yuga. Quite the opposite in fact, Vyasa realized that Krishna’s intimate Vraja-lila is the only viable medicine to attract the jiva out from its useless infatuation with bhukti and mukti.

Knowing this, we might now better appreciate the point that Krishna’s intimate vraja-lila is the only real subject that should be “preached” to the public. Far from being something to hide, it is the essence of what we must distribute! But the trick is that it cannot be explained or learned effectively by an audience or speaker who does not deeply realize the spiritual form of it.

Therefore our presentation of the prayojana (Krishna’s intimate lila) must be accompanied by solid presentation of the abhidheya (the practices necessary to truly comprehend that lila) and the sambandha (the philosophical nature of the participants in this lila, the aspects of reality itself).

So, the big challenge here is that Krishna-lila has to be accessed from a real guru – a person who has deeply realized the true spiritual form of it – not from a fool who only understands it as some legendary erotica or academic novelty. To meet this challenge, the first priority of a real “preaching mission” is to produce such gurus by properly guiding the personal practice of its members on the path of Raganuga and Vaidhi.

“Raganuga Sadhana involves meditating on Krishna’s romantic activities. So, if we still have material lusts in our heart, it will excite these lusts.”

We must remember the idea of “milk touched by the lips of serpents.”

Yes, if one hears Krishna’s madhurya lila from a person who doesn’t have true spiritual realization of it – considering it merely another type of erotica, or just some academic curiosity – then one might find one’s material lusts excited by such discussions and meditations. This does not mean that we should not hear Krishna’s romantic pastimes, it means we should not hear them from fools!

If we don’t know Krishna’s romantic pastimes, we don’t know Krishna, because romantic love is the essence of his divine personality. So, avoiding Krishna’s romantic pastimes is not an option for anyone with the aspiration to become a Krishna-bhakta. The key is not to avoid hearing or meditating on these things, but to avoid learning about them from fools who do not realize what these pastimes truly express and reveal about the Divine.

If hearing about Krishna’s intimate qualities and activities will increase our lust, what is the meaning of this extremely important verse [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.33.39]?

vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca vinnoh |
sraddhanvito ’nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah |
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam |
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty acirena dhirah ||

“Anyone who carefully and deeply hears
this tale of Vinnu playing with the wives of Vraja
attains the supreme pure devotion, and conquers lust
which is a disease of the heart impossible to cure
by any other method.”

The key is to hear these lila’s carefully and deeply. To “actually hear” them. Explaining this verse in chapter 33 of Krishna Book, Srila Prabhupada writes, “If one actually hears rasa-lila, he will become completely freed from the lusty desire of sex life and elevated to the highest level of spiritual understanding.”

“Since Raganuga Sadhana involves meditating on romantic forms, it is best suited for those with no attachment for material sexuality. Thus it is best performed by celibate Sannyasis and Brahmacaris, not by householding Grhasthas.

This seems strange. If Krishna-lila is sexually dangerous, then it makes at least as much sense to say it is least appropriate for people for whom it is important to maintain absolutely strict celibacy. But this is just an argument for argument’s sake. The real truth is that Krishna-lila is not sexually dangerous unless heard from someone who doesn’t truly have any deep grasp of what that lila truly expresses.

If raganuga sadhana is mostly for absolute celibates, what is the meaning of this extremely important verse which indicates that there is no significant difference between self-realized munis and the reprobate general public when it comes to being attracted to Hari.

If raganuga sadhana and madhurya-lila is meant for pure and exalted people only, why does Sri Krishna Caitanya distribute them to the morally low and mundane masses of kali-yuga, and not to the pure and exalted spiritualists of satya-yuga???

If raganuga sadhana is mostly for absolute celibates why was Narottama das Thakur the only significant person in his entire generation who was a lifelong celibate with a shaved head? Sri Syamananda, Sri Srinivas, Sri Ramacandra Kaviraj, and Sri Rasikananda were all householders.

If raganuga sadhana is primarily for sannyasis how do you explain this: the exalted practitioner of raganuga sadhana who began the effort to bring Krishna consciousness to the general masses around the world – our acarya Sri Bhaktivinode Thakur – was the father of fourteen children and never took sannyasa or left his wife?

If raganuga sadhana is mostly for absolute celibates why didn’t Sri Rupa Goswami say so when he was defining it for us? He said that raganuga sadhana is for anyone who can become significantly attracted to the hope of attaining a specific type of love for Krishna. This is the only stipulation specified by him and by the Gaudiya acaryas following him. The idea that absolute celibacy is a requirement or a significant advantage is someone else’s opinion, not theirs. Therefore followers of acaryas need not consider this opinion very significant.

“Raganuga Sadhana may encourage people to be slack and lazy in their vows and adherence to rules.”

The idea that raganuga sadhana is something without rules and regulations is a complete misconception, held only by people who have not learned about it from the source texts, and who have no hands-on experience practicing it in its original form. Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, the original text that defines raganuga sadhana, makes this absolutely clear in 1.2.296. Therefore it is not that Raganuga Sadhana would make anyone slack and lazy in their vows and practices. Quite the contrary, it is a lack of understanding about what raganuga really is which causes people to slacken.

“There is a more advanced way to practice Bhakti-yoga, and in it you don’t follow so many rules and regulations.” As long as people have this foolish misconception about raganuga in their heads, they will be encouraged to think, “I don’t have to follow so many rules and regulations. It’s not necessarily bad.”

Therefore the best strategy is not to try and hide the facts about Raganuga sadhana from the neophyte practitioners, but to understand the true facts and teach them clearly to all practitioners, even from the earliest stages.

The fact is that Raganuga Sadhana follows as many rules as Vaidhi Sadhana, and, externally, the practice of both are largely identical. It is simply that Raganuga Sadhana follows the rules with a passion to achieve a specific kind of intimate love for Krishna (“Raga”), and Vaishi sadhana doesn’t have this passionate and specific motivation behind (and focus within) its actions.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada discouraged Raganuga Sadhana (as was being practiced by the sahajiyas).

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada discouraged the sahajiya-apasiddhanta which is based on misunderstandings of what raganuga-sadhana is and what it is for. He presented the true form of raganuga-sadhana, as taught and exemplified by the original Goswamis of Vrndavana, solidly based on sravana and kirtana as the foundation of smarana and the foundation for developing and cultivating lobha into raga and, finally rati.

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