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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Chaitanya Shikshamrita > Chapter-IV

Chapter four

Raganuga Bhakti


There is another type of sadhana bhakti besides vaidhi bhakti.  It is called raganuga bhakti.  Previously it was said that there are two ways of pleasing the Lord--by following rules and by attraction.  It is necessary to differentiate between these two.  That  system of worship of the Lord which is executed through a sense of duty is called vaidhi bhakti.  Rules which are executed through consideration of a sense of duty are called "vidhi".  The tendency which operates through a natural taste is called "raga".  To be completely and spontaneously absorbed in some  object is called "raga".1   The object pursued by raga is called the desired object.   In the activities of raga there is no necessity of  consideration nor deliberation of what to do or not do.  Raga is a natural propensity.   The raga exhibited by the soul in a conditioned state is a perversion due to the false bodily identification and accepts material things as  its desired objects.  Directing this raga towards flowers, food, drink, intoxicants, clothing, shelter, or lover, the living entities end up in a world of illusions.  For this reason the conditioned souls are situated far apart from raga directed to the Lord.  Bhakti instigated by raga is thus very rare.  It is then necessary to consider carefully what is beneficial and detrimental in worshipping the Lord. From this consideration arises rules or vidhi.  The rules monitor the state of raga.  Rules are not an opposing party to raga.  Rules may be called ritual and raga may be called spontaneous attachment. Though they are different conceptions,  in the pure state they are one. Rules in their pure state are assistant to raga. Pure raga follows the rules which are the will of the Lord.  For the Lord, the rules predominate, and for the jivas, raga predominates. The opposition of raga and vidhi seen in the material world is due to the unhealthy condition of raga.  When raga recuperates, vidhi, having fulfilled its function, retreats.  Therefore in the healthy state, raga predominates for the jiva.  As much as raga for material things leads to degradation, so raga for the Lord becomes the highest condition of existence.   The relation of raga with vidhi is like the relation of body to medicine.  Raga has many functions, but vidhi's function is to protect and nourish raga.  When  raga is thoroughly nourished, it does not depend on vidhi any longer.


Pure raga for the Lord takes shelter of only the pure soul, a soul  which has been liberated from material contamination.  That pure raga is called ragatmika bhakti. Only pure souls, who participate in the Lord's pastimes, are qualified for ragatmika bhakti;  none except the inhabitants of Vraja are qualified. When conditioned souls, by hearing the descriptions in the scriptures, develop a desire  to follow after the inhabitants of Vraja who offer ragatmika bhakti to Krishna, the bhakti which results is called raganuga.2   The inspiration for this bhakti is greed for its object, not rules or scriptural guidelines.3  The rules, by various methods, attempt to stimulate the nature of the soul.   When  greed becomes the impetus for those rules, it is no longer called vaidhi bhakti, but raganuga bhakti. Thus there are two types of sadhana bhakti, vaidhi and raganuga.  Vaidhi sadhana was discussed previously.  Now raganuga will be discussed.


That person who becomes greedy to attain the emotional state in which the ragatmika devotees  serve Krishna is qualified for raganuga bhakti.  Raganuga bhakti  includes all the same angas as vaidhi bhakti, but the devotee of raganuga bhakti performs those activities with a spontaneous mood rather than by  rule.4 The conditioned soul living in the world must necessarily carry out physical, mental and social activities to maintain his body.  Those rules mentioned in the discussion of vaidhi bhakti, which serve to keep the devotee on the path  of devotion and prevent him from becoming materially contaminated,  must also be followed by  the practitioners of raganuga bhakti.  The practice of raganuga is internal, so what external rules should the person follow?  If the person does not accept all the necessary rules of vaidhi bhakti which serve to make him fit for practicing internally, he will finish his life untimely or revert to material life, and reduce his propensity for raga.   If the manner of cultivating devotion is not accepted in full,  internal practice cannot be maintained or grow.  Though interest in raganuga may grow, the angas of bhakti, such as hearing and chanting should not be given up.   Just as, in vaidhi bhakti, the rules of naitika dharma mature and change shape, so also,  in raganuga bhakti,   the rules of vaidhi bhakti change slightly in emotional content and display some independent qualities. In some circumstances the rules change slightly, and in other cases, they transform entirely. This will be apparent from observing the conduct of the devotee.  These changes do not arise from scripture, but according to the taste of the individual, and thus examples are hard to give.  Examples can only be given for vaidhi bhakti.


The divisions and relations of ragatmika bhakti apply equally to raganuga bhakti.  These will be discussed later.  Here it should only be mentioned that, like ragatmika bhakti, raganuga bhakti has two types:  kamarupa5 and sambandha rupa.6  Kama signifies a thirst to enjoy an object.    For the conditioned soul this means objects of the senses.  Thus, kama means thirst for material enjoyment.  When The Lord becomes the object, this is called prema.   Kama and prema are essentially not different; only the object differs. The prema of the Vraja gopis, eternally perfected souls, having no object other  that Krishna, is called kama, because there  is no difference between the two in the spiritual world.  Their ragatmika bhakti is called kama rupa.  The  bhakti of  raganuga bhaktas who follow after them is also called kama rupa.  Where there is no other  relationship between  the   devotee and Krishna except one of thirst for the object, like thirst for water, it is not called sambandha, but kama rupa.  In kama rupa raganuga bhakti there is no interest except Krishna's pleasure.7  Sambandha rupa ragatmika bhakti is based on four chief relationships: master-servant, father-son, friend-friend,  and husband-wife.   In sadhana bhakti,  similar sambandha rupa bhakti is found in the raganuga bhaktas who are following after the respective ragatmika devotees.8


A sadhana bhakta who develops  a greed for the emotions like those of a particular inhabitant of Vraja, he should fix himself as a servant of that person and with complete dedication to him or her,  internally perform service in a suitable spiritual body.  He should practice  all the agreeable angas of vaidhi bhakti externally as long as he has not reached the beginning stages of prema. He should follow the rules of scripture which are favorable to his mood; he should serve with faith Krishna and his devotees; he should discuss about Krishna and the devotees; and he should live in a place where the Lord performed his pastimes, or live in Vraja mentally.


The cause for vaidhi bhakti is scripture and the rules  for performance of bhakti.  The cause of raganuga bhakti is Krishna and the devotees of Krishna. As vaidhi bhakti is the reverential form of prema bhakti, it is sometimes called the path of maryada (respect).  As raganuga bhakti nourishes prema bhakti it is also called the path of pusti (nourishment). Vaidhi bhakti is always filled with knowledge of the Lord's power, whereas raganuga bhakti is devoid of this.9  Sometimes however the raganuga bhaktas will resort to vaidhi consciousness.  The qualities of the devotees following raga will be discussed in the next chapter.


1 B.R.S.1.2.272

2 B.R.S.1.2.147

3 B.R.S.1.2.148

4 B.R.S.1.2.149-152

5 B.R.S.1.2.183-187

6 B.R.S.1.2.188

7 B.R.S.1.2.297-302

8 B.R.S.1.2.303, 305-306

9 B.R.S.1.2.288