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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Jaiva Dharma > Chapter-21

Chapter Twenty-one

Nitya-dharma O Sambandhabhidheya-prayojana (Prameyantar-gata Abhidheya-vicara Raganuga-sadhana-bhakti)

Eternal Religion and Sambandha, Abhidheya, and Prayojana (Abhidheya: Raganuga-sadhana-bhakti)



     The same wonderful thought rose in the hearts of Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha. With one mind they decided that they must accept initiation (diksha) from the saintly babaji. When he was a child, Vijaya-kumara was initiated by his family guru. Vrajanatha has received gayatri initiation but not initiation into any other mantras. From the saintly babaji they had learned that by chanting a mantra given by an impersonalist guru one goes to hell. Therefore they decided to be properly re-initiated by a Vaishnava spiritual master. If he is initiated by a perfect pure devotee, the disciple very quickly attains perfection by chanting the sacred mantras. Therefore they both decided, “Tomorrow morning we will first bathe in the Ganges and then accept initiation from the worshipable and saintly babaji." Their hearts fixed in that decision, the next morning they bathed in the Ganges, decorated their bodies with twelve tilaka markings as previously described, and then offered dandavat obeisances to the feet of Shrila Raghunatha dasa babaji. The saintly babaji was a perfect devotee. Aware of what they were thinking, he asked them, "Why have you come this morning?" The two of them replied, "O master, we are fallen and worthless. Please be merciful to us." The saintly babaji took them separately to his cottage and gave them the eighteen-syllable mantra. Again and again chanting the mantra, the two disciples became maddened with spiritual love. Calling out "Jaya Gauranga!", they danced. Seeing the tulasi beads on their necks, their splendid sacred threads, their twelve tilaka marks, their bright faces, some beginning symptoms of sattvika-bhava ecstasy on their bodies, and streams of tears flowing from their eyes, the saintly babaji embraced them and said, "Today you have purified me." Again and again the two disciples took the dust of the saintly babaji's feet and placed it on their heads. Vrajanatha had arranged that many excellent foods would be offered to Lord Mahaprabhu. By his arrangement, two servants from his house brought a great abundance of palatable foods. Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha said to the Shri Vaishnavas, "We have brought these foods. Please offer them to Lord Mahaprabhu." The leader of the devotees at Shrivasa's courtyard had the pujari cook the foods and offer them to the Panca-tattva Deities.

     The conchshell sounded. Playing karatalas and mridangas, the Vaishnavas sang as the bhoga-arati was offered to Lord Mahaprabhu. Gradually many Vaishnavas came. They were all filled with happiness. The arati ended gloriously. A place was arranged before the temple for the Vaishnavas to honor the prasadam. Loudly chanting the holy names of Lord Hari, each Vaishnava brought his bowl. At the time of honoring prasadam, poetry was read. The Vaishnavas sat down to honor the prasadam. Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara would not sit down and place the prasadam in their mouths. The leaders of the babajis forced them to sit. The babajis said, You are householders who have become Vaishnavas. Therefore, by offering dandavat obeisances to your feet, we become fortunate." Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha said, “You are great sannyasi Vaishnavas. Therefore, by accepting the nectar remnants of the prasadam that has touched your lips, we become most fortunate. If we associate with you as equals, it will be an offense on our part." The Vaishnava babajis said, “Vaishnava who are householders or sannyasis are not different. It is devotion to the Lord that makes one a great Vaishnava." Conversing in this way, all the Vaishnavas honored the prasadam. Hoping to get the remnants of the prasadam eaten by their spiritual master, Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha hesitated to honor the prasadam. Seeing that they were reluctant to honor the prasadam, the Vaishnavas said to Shrila Raghunatha dasa Babaji, "O best of the Vaishnavas, please be merciful to your disciples. They will not honor the prasadam." Hearing this, the elderly babaji placed the remnants of his prasadam in his disciples' hands. They accepted them as very valuable things. They said, "We offer obeisances to our spiritual master", and then they began to honor the prasadam. As the prasadam was honored many descriptions of the glories of prasadam were spoken, as also was the advice, "O devotees, please be careful". Ah! The area before Shrivasa's courtyard was so beautiful then. Then suddenly the devotees saw Lord Mahaprabhu and His personal associates honoring the prasadam with them, and Shri Shaci, Sita, and Malini-devi were themselves distributing the prasadam. The devotees remembered these lines of Shri Jagadananda Pandita's Prema-vivarta:



mayapure nitya-lila kare gaura-ray

sukritir bale bhakta dekhibare pay



     "Lord Gaura enjoys pastimes in Mayapura eternally. The power of their transcendental pious deeds enables the Lord's devotees to see these pastimes directly."


     As long as these pastimes were present before their eyes the Vaishnavas were stunned and motionless, like a row of columns. No one was honoring the prasadam. After a short while these pastimes again became invisible. The devotees looked at each other and burst into tears. No one could describe the the unprecedented wonderful delicious taste the prasadam now had. Everyone said, "These two young brahmanas have attained the mercy of Lord Mahaprabhu. Lord Gaura again revealed His pastimes at their festival. Weeping and weeping, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara said, "We are poor and worthless. One think we know: It is because of the mercy of our spiritual master and the mercy of the Vaishnavas that we have seen these things."

     After honoring prasadam and taking permission from the Vaishnavas, Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha returned home. From that day forward, every day they would bathe in the Ganges, offer obeisances to the feet of their spiritual master, see the Deity form of the Lord, circumambulate Tulasi, and perform many other devotional activities. This they did every day. A day did not pass where they did not learn something new. On the fourth or fifth evening, after concluding their evening duties at Shrivasa's courtyard, seeing the arati and chanting the holy names in sankirtana, the two of them went to the saintly elderly babaji in his cottage and asked him, "O master, by your mercy we have been able to understand sadhana-bhakti. Now we request you, please be merciful and explain raganuga-bhakti to these two lowest of persons." The saintly babaji happily replied, "Lord Gauranga has accepted you two as His devotees. Therefore I cannot withhold anything from you. Please listen carefully, and I will explain raganuga-bhakti to you. Again and again I offer my respectful obeisances to Shrila Rupa Gosvami, whom the Supreme Personality of Godhead rescued from the clutches of the yavanas, and whom, at Prayaga-kshetra, the Lord taught the science of transcendental mellows. I surrender to the feet of Shrila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, whom the merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead rescued from the abyss of material life, placed in the hand of Shrila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, and gave the gift of all spiritual perfections.

     "However, before I describe raganuga-bhakti, I shall first describe the nature of ragatmika-bhakti.


     Vrajanatha: Please tell what the word "raga" means. I wish to understand that first.

     Babaji: Materialists fall in love with the objects of the material senses. This love may be called "raga". In this way the eyes become excited when they see beauty and other attractive qualities. In this way one is attracted to the material sense objects and the mind develops "raga", or love for them. When that love (raga) is placed in the Lord Krishna as its only object, that is called "raga-bhakti". Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains that when love is focused on a single object of desire, that is called "raga". When this kind of love exists in devotional service, then the devotional service is called "ragatmika-bhakti". In brief, when there is a love-filled thirst to attain Lord Krishna, that is called ragatmika-bhakti. As long as this raga has not manifested itself, one is enjoined to follow vidhi-bhakti, following the rules and regulations of scripture. Awe, fear, and faith are the three aspects of vaidhi-bhakti. An intense desire to meet Lord Krishna and associate with Him in His pastimes is the main feature of ragatmika-bhakti.

     Vrajanatha: Who is qualified to perform raga-bhakti?

     Babaji: A person whose faith rests in the rules of the scriptures is qualified to engage in vaidhi-bhakti. A person whose faith rests in an intense desire to attain Lord Krishna is qualified to engage in ragatmika-bhakti. Manifested according to their different rasas (relationships with Lord Krishna), Lord Krishna's personal associates in the spiritual world of Vraja with strong faith engage in ragatmika-bhakti. A person who has a strong desire to love Lord Krishna as the residents of Vraja in the spiritual world do, is qualified to engage in raganuga-bhakti.

     Vrajanatha: What are the qualities of this strong desire?

     Babaji: One quality is that when one hears about the sweetness of the love and other emotions manifested by the residents of Vraja in the spiritual world, one yearns to go there. When a person qualified to engage in vaidhi-bhakti hears the descriptions of Lord Krishna, he calmly thinks about these descriptions, using his intelligence, logic, and the evidence of scripture. However, when a person following the path of raganuga-bhakti hears these descriptions, he does not carefully consider them in terms of intelligence, logic, and scripture. Instead, he is overcome with the desire to love Krishna as the residents of Vraja do.

     Vrajanatha: What are the activities of raganuga-bhakti?

     Babaji: The devotee engaged in raganuga-bhakti yearns to become one of the residents of Vraja in the spiritual world and there serve Lord Krishna directly. He always thinks of that desire. He likes to talk with other devotees about the pastimes of his beloved Krishna. He resides in Vraja, either with his external body, or within his thoughts. Yearning to attain the spiritual love that they possess, he becomes a follower of the people of Vraja. He always serves the Lord in two ways. Externally he performs sadhana-bhakti. Internally he thinks of his original spiritual form and in that form he serves the Lord.

     Vrajanatha: What is the connection between raganuga-bhakti and the different limbs of vaidhi-bhakti?

     Babaji: A person engaged in raganuga-bhakti also performs the different activities of sadhana-bhakti, such as hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord. However, within his heart he is a follower of the people of Vraja. In this way he tastes the nectar of always serving the Lord. At the same time he serves in this way within his heart, he engages in the activities of sadhana-bhakti with his external body.

     Vrajanatha: How is raganuga-bhakti glorious?

     Babaji: By engaging in raganuga-bhakti one quickly attains what takes a long time to attain by performing sadhana-bhakti. vaidhi-bhakti is weak, but raganuga-bhakti is both independent and very powerful. By following in the footsteps of the people of Vraja, one attains raga. That raga naturally pushes one to engage in the devotional activities of hearing, chanting, and remembering the Lord's glories, serving His lotus feet, bowing down before Him, and surrendering everything to Him. When the heart is free of the three material modes, one naturally desires to follow in the footsteps of the people of Vraja. Therefore the attraction to raganuga-bhakti, or the intense desire to attain raganuga-bhakti is the inspiration that pushes one to true spiritual life. As there are many different kinds of ragatmika-bhakti, so there are also many different kinds of raganuga-bhakti.

     Vrajanatha: What are the different kinds of ragatmika-bhakti?

     Babaji: Ragatmika-bhakti is of two kinds: 1. kama-rupa (devotion born from desire), and 2. sambandha-rupa (devotion born of a relationship).

     Vrajanatha: Please explain the difference between kama-rupa and sambandha-rupa.

     Babaji: In the Seventh Canto (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.30-31) it is written:



kamad dveshad bhayat snehad

     yatha bhaktyeshvare manah

aveshya tad-agham hitva

     bahavas tad-gatim gatah



     "many, many persons have attained liberation simply by thinking of Krishna with great attention and giving up sinful activities. This great attention may be due to lusty desires, inimical feelings, fear, affection, or devotional service. I shall now explain how one receives Krishna's mercy simply by concentrating one's mind upon Him.*



gopyah kamad bhayat kamso

     dveshyac caidyadayo nripah

sambandhad vrishnayah snehad

     yuyam bhaktya vayam vibho



     "My dear King Yudhishthira, the gopis, by their lusty desires, Kamsa by his fear, Shishupala and other kings by envy, the Yadus by their familial relationship with Krishna, you Pandavas by your great affection for Krishna, and we, the general devotees, by our devotional service, have obtained the mercy of Krishna."*


     Here six items are mentioned: lusty desires, inimical feelings, fear, familial relationships, affection, and devotional service. Among these, inimical feelings and fear are are not appropriate sentiments for devotees of the Lord. When it becomes the idea that the Lord is a friend, affection is appropriate in vaidhi-bhakti. However, when affection becomes pure love (prema) it is no longer within the realm of sadhana-bhakti. That kind of love belongs in the path of raga. It has no place in sadhana-bhakti. The word "bhaktya" in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.135 refers to vaidhi-bhakti. In some situations the word “bhakti" refers to the vaidhi-bhakti performed by the great sages, and in other situations the word "bhakti" refers to "jnana-mishra-bhakti" (devotional service mixed with impersonal speculation). Here the words "many attained Him"  mean that because Lord Krishna is identical with the impersonal Brahman in the same way the rays of sunlight are identical with the sun planet, when the impersonalists merge into Brahman, or when Krishna's enemies merge into Brahman, they certainly attain Krishna. In this way they become plunged into the happiness of Brahman liberation, which is a perverted reflection of sarupya liberation. In the Brahmanda Purana it is said that they attain Siddhaloka, which is on the farther shore of the ocean of maya. Two different kinds of beings reside in Siddhaloka. They are the impersonalists, who are plunged into Brahman happiness and the demons killed by Krishna. Among those liberated impersonalists, some attain a faints scent of love for Krishna (raga). By worshiping Lord Krishna's lotus feet, these impersonalists eventually become dear devotees of the Lord. In this way they attain love (prema) for Lord Krishna. As the sun is not different from the rays of sunlight, so Lord Krishna is not different from His Brahman effulgence. Therefore the word “tad-gati" (that attainment) here means "Krishna-gati" (the attainment of Lord Krishna). Therefore the impersonalists and demons who attain sayujya (impersonal) liberation attain Lord Krishna's Brahman effulgence. On the other hand, the devotees, who love the Lord, attain direct service to Lord Krishna, who is like the sun-planet from whom the sunlight that is the impersonal Brahman has come. I  this way we have described four of these emotions: inimical feelings, fear, affection, and devotional service. Only lusty desires and familial relationships remain to be described. In the path of raga-bhakti lusty desires and familial relationships are both very important. Thus raga-bhakti is of two kinds: 1. lusty desires (kama) and 2. familial relationships (sambandha).


     Vrajanatha: What is the nature of devotional service with lusty desires?

     Babaji: The word "lust" means "the thirst to enjoy". When it is manifested in ragatmika-bhakti, that thirst to enjoy becomes causeless love for Lord Krishna. Thus it becomes the thirst to enjoy the association of Lord Krishna. In this situation the devotee acts only to please Lord Krishna. The devotee does not act for his own happiness. The devotee accepts his own happiness only if it leads to Krishna's happiness. This very wonderful unprecedented love is perfectly manifested in the gopis of Vraja. Because it possesses the qualities of wonderful sweetness and playfulness, panditas use the word "lusty desires" (kama) to describe the gopis' love (prema). However, the truth is that the gopis' "lusty desires" are spiritual and free from the slightest scent of any fault. On the other hand, the lusty desires felt by the souls in Maya's prison are wretched, lowly, and filled with faults. When they saw it, Uddhava and other dear devotees of the Lord yearned to attain the "lusty desires" felt by the gopis of Vraja. The gopis' lusty desire cannot be compared to anything else. It can be compared only to itself. These "lusty desires" in ragatmika-bhakti exist only in Vraja and not in any other place. The "lusty desires" that Kubja manifested in Mathura are called "kama-praya" (resembling lusty desires). Although they bear some resemblance to the gopis' lusty desires, they are different.

     Vrajanatha: What is the nature of raga-bhakti with familial relationships?

     Babaji: Raga-bhakti in the rasa of familial relationships is manifested when one identifies himself as Krishna's parent or other relative. When one thinks, "I am Krishna's father", or "I am Krishna's mother", or when one thinks of oneself as another kind of relative of Krishna, that is called devotional service in the mood of familial relationships. In the Vrishni dynasty there are also devotees who identify as Krishna's father and mother. Still, devotional service in familial relationships is first manifested in Vraja: in Nanda, in Yashoda, and in others also. Pure love for Krishna is manifested in these kinds of “lusty desires" and "familial relationships". That is why the eternally liberated souls take shelter of them. In raganuga-bhakti these two sentiments are mentioned only briefly. In the practice of devotional service, these two sentiments take two forms: 1. kamanuga (following lusty desires), and 2. sambandhanuga (following familial relationships).

     Vrajanatha: What are the qualities of kamanuga-bhakti in the practice of raganuga-bhakti?

     Babaji: When a devotee thirsts to follow the path of kama devotional service, that is called "kamanuga". Kamanuga-bhakti is of two kinds: 1. sambhogecchamayi (yearning to enjoy), and 2. tat-tad-bhavecchamayi (yearning to love).

     Vrajanatha: What is the nature of sambhogecchamayi?

     Babaji: Sambhogecchamayi means "the desire to participate in Lord Krishna's pastimes (keli) with the gopis".

     Vrajanatha: What is the nature of tat-tad-bhavecchamayi?

     Babaji: Tat-tad-bhavecchamayi means "the desire to attain the sweetness of love that the Vraja-gopis felt for Lord Krishna".

     Vrajanatha: How are these two sentiments manifested in the practice of raganuga-bhakti?

     Babaji: By seeing the sweetness of Lord Krishna's Deity form and by hearing the descriptions of Lord Krishna's pastimes, one develops a desire to fall in love with Krishna. Devotees who have that desire practice raganuga-bhakti that is either kamanuga or sambandhanuga.

     Vrajanatha: Lord Krishna is male, and the Vraja-gopis are all female. Therefore I can see that only women are qualified to practice this kind of raganuga-bhakti. How can men can be qualified to attain it?

     Babaji: Each individual soul residing in the material world has an original spiritual form that manifests one of the five rasas (relationships with Lord Krishna). Four of these rasas, namely dasya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parental love), and madhura (conjugal love), are present among the people of Vraja. In Vraja, males participate in the rasas of dasya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship) and the fatherhood portion of vatsalya (parental love). In these three rasas males engage in direct service to Lord Krishna. However, it is only females who serve the Lord in madhura (conjugal love) and in the motherhood portion of vatsalya. Among both liberated souls and beginners engaged in sadhana-bhakti, many souls with external male material bodies have original spiritual forms that are female.

     Vrajanatha: How do souls with male external material bodies follow in the footsteps of the Vraja-gopis?

     Babaji: In different ways, as they are qualified, they become attracted to the rasa of conjugal love (shrngara-rasa). Even though their external material form is male, their original spiritual form, which is female, is always present. According to one's inclination and one's original spiritual form, one is qualified to become the follower of a particular Vraja-gopi. By following that gopi, one's original spiritual form is again openly manifested and in that original form one serves Lord Krishna directly. In the Padma Purana an example is given of souls who, although their external material bodies were male, eventually became gopis. There it is said that when they saw the handsomeness of Lord Ramacandra, the sages of Dandakaranya forest yearned to attain Him as their husband. When Lord Krishna manifested His Gokula pastimes, these same sages were born as women. In those forms they served Lord Krishna in the rasa of conjugal love.

     Vrajanatha: I have heard that the women of Gokula are eternally liberated souls in the spiritual world who descended to the material world to help Lord Krishna's pastimes. Why, then, does the Padma Purana say that these sages were born as gopis ion Gokula?

     Babaji: Many eternally liberated souls came to this world to participate in Lord Krishna's pastimes. In addition to them, many souls from the material world, who by engaging in devotional service became qualified to do so, also participated in Lord Krishna's pastimes. Worshiping Lord Krishna in kamanuga-bhakti, they took birth in Gokula. These gopis are described in Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.29.8-11, where it is said that by serving Lord Krishna in meditation they abandoned their external material bodies and regained their original spiritual forms. Many of these gopis had previously been the sages of Dandakaranya.

     Vrajanatha: Which gopis were eternally liberated and which became liberated by engaging in devotional service?

     Babaji: Shrimati Radhika is Lord Krishna's internal potency (svarupa-shakti). She expands into the forms of Her eight close friends (ashta-sakhi), and they expand into the forms of other gopis (sakhis). These gopis are all eternally liberated (nitya-siddha). These gopis are not manifested by the jiva-shakti. Rather, they are manifested by the Lord's internal potency (svarupa-shakti). In addition to these gopis, there are other gopis (also sakhis), who attained liberation by engaging in devotional service (sadhana-siddha), and were thus allowed to join Shrimati Radhika's entourage. These gopis are individual souls (jiva) who attained liberation by engaging in devotional service (sadhana-siddha). By the power of the Lord's hladini-shakti they attained salokya liberation are were allowed to associate with Shri Radha, the queen of Vraja. Devotees who follow the path of raganuga-bhakti and aspire for shringara-rasa eventually attain liberation as a result of their devotional service. Thus they are able to join the company of gopis (sakhis). Devotees who follow the path of vidhi-bhakti and desire to enjoy (riramsa) Krishna, which means they desire that Lord Krishna will become their husband, become the Lord's queens at Dvaraka. Devotees who follow the path of vidhi-bhakti do not become followers of Shri Radha, the goddess of Vraja. Only devotees who follow the path of vidhi-bhakti externally and the path of raganuga-bhakti internally attain devotional service in the land of Vraja.

     Vrajanatha: How does one become purified of the desire to enjoy (riramsa) Krishna, which means the desire that Lord Krishna will become one's husband?

     Babaji: These devotees who have accepted the role of Lord Krishna's queens should renounce all pride and humbly serve Lord Krishna as a wife serves her husband. However, even if they do this, these devotees may not attain the desire to become one of the gopis of Vraja.

     Vrajanatha: Please explain more clearly.

     Babaji: Devotees who aspire to attain Lord Krishna as their husband (svakiya) become the Lord's queens (mahishi-bhava). These devotees cannot taste the rasa where Krishna is one's paramour (parakiya), a rasa relished by the Vraja-gopis. For this reason these devotees cannot follow in the footsteps of the gopis. Only by following the path of raganuga-bhakti and cherishing the idea that Lord Krishna is one's paramour (parakiya) can one attain the rasa of a gopi in Vraja.

     Vrajanatha: By your mercy, I have understood all this. Now please kindly explain one thing: What is the difference between "lust" (kama) and "love" (prema)? If there is no difference, why did you use the word "prema-rupa" (the nature of love)? When I hear it, the word "lust" (kama) brings pain to my ears.

     Babaji: There is a difference between lust and love. When we say "love" we mean an emotion like what is felt in raga-bhakti when the devotee considers Krishna a relative in his family (sambandha). In that devotional service as a family member, there is no idea of trying to exploit Krishna for one's own enjoyment. In devotional service where one relates to Lord Krishna as a family member, there is no scope for an amorous relationship. Still, that relationship is undoubtedly based on love (prema). However, when this love for Krishna is gracefully mixed with the desire to enjoy Krishna, the result is devotional service (bhakti) performed in the spirit of lust (kama). In the other rasas lust and devotional service are not mixed together in this way. This combination is present only in the rasa of conjugal love. Aside from the Vraja-gopis, no one practices this kind of devotional service mixed with lust. In this material world the word “lust" means to desire material sense pleasures. However, the "lust" felt by the gopis is very different from material lust. The lust felt by the gopis is completely pure and faultless. Material lust is a perverted reflection of the gopis' lust. Thought it was directed to Lord Krishna, the lust felt by Kubja cannot be said to be like the gopis' lust (sakshat-kama). Lust to enjoy with the material senses is an emotion that is worthless, wretched, and degraded. On the other hand, lust that is a feature of pure love for Krishna is exalted and full of bliss. Because material lust is wretched and degraded, what shall stop you from using the word "spiritual lust" (aprakrita-kama) to describe the emotion felt by the gopis?

     Vrajanatha: Now please explain the aspect of raganuga-bhakti where one thinks of Krishna as one's family member?

     Babaji: Devotional service where one has a family or other kind of relationship with Krishna is called "sambandhanuga-bhakti". This kind of relationship is present in three rasas: dasya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship), and vatsalya (parenthood). In this relationship one thinks, "I am a servant. Krishna is my master", or one thinks, "I am Krishna's friend", or one thinks, "I am Krishna's father", or one thinks, "I am Krishna's mother". These are the thoughts of one in sambandha. This sambandhanuga-bhakti is manifested in its pure form among the residents of Vraja.

     Vrajanatha: How is raganuga-bhakti cultivated in the dasya, sakhya, and vatsalya rasas?

     Babaji: A devotee attracted to dasya-rasa (servitorship) should follow in the footsteps of Raktaka, Patraka, and other eternally liberated servitors of the Lord. By emulating the sweetness of their love for the Lord, he will eventually serve Lord Krishna directly. A devotee attracted to sakhya-rasa (friendship) should follow in the footsteps of Subala and the other friends of the Lord. In this way he will eventually serve Lord Krishna directly. A devotee attracted to vatsalya-rasa (parenthood) should follow in the footsteps of Nanda and Yashoda. In this way he will eventually serve Lord Krishna directly.

     Vrajanatha: How does one follow in their footsteps?

     Babaji: The soul's eternal nature gives rise to certain actions. These actions are called "mudra". For example, Nanda Maharaja has a certain eternal nature, and because of that nature he deals with Krishna in a specific way. One should following the footsteps of those activities. However, one should not think, "I am Nanda", "I am Subala", or “I am Raktaka". One should only follow in the footsteps of their activities. In that way one will not commit an offense.

     Vrajanatha: What rasa should I cultivate in raganuga-bhakti?

     Babaji: Baba, look at your own nature. Because of that nature you have a certain inclination. According to that inclination you naturally accept a particular rasa. You should follow the footsteps of an eternally liberated soul who serves the Lord in that rasa. You should closely examine your own inclination. If you are inclined to the path of raga-bhakti, the  you should follow your inclination. If you are not inclined to the path of raga-bhakti, then you should follow the path of vaidhi-bhakti.

     Vijaya-kumara: master, I have studied Shrimad-Bhagavatam for many days. Whenever I hear or read of Lord Krishna's pastimes, in my heart I yearn to serve the divine couple as Shrimati Lalita does.

     Babaji: Don't say anything more. You are a manjari follower of Shri Lalita-devi. What service do you think is appropriate for you?

     Vijaya-kumara: In my heart I think Shri Lalita has ordered me to string garlands of flowers. I gather many beautiful flowers, make them into garlands, and place them in her beautiful hand. She gives me a smile of mercy, and then she places them around the necks of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna.

     Babaji: May you attain that service. I give you my blessings.


     At that moment Vijaya-kumara fell, weeping, at his spiritual master's lotus feet. Seeing his emotional state, the saintly babaji said to him, "Baba, within your heart you should always practice raganuga-bhakti, and externally you should engage in vaidhi-bhakti." Seeing Vijaya-kumara's good fortune, Vrajanatha placed these words before his spiritual master's feet: "O master, when I think of Lord Krishna's pastimes I desire to become a follower of Subala."


     Babaji: To what kind of activities do you feel attracted?

     Vrajanatha: Subala and I will fetch the calves that have strayed far away. As Krishna sits down and plays the flute, by Subala's mercy I will let the calves drink water, and after I will bring them again to our brother Krishna. That is my desire.

     Babaji: I give you my blessings. May you become a follower of Subala and in that way serve Lord Krishna. You are qualified for sakhya-rasa.


     This was all a great wonder. From that day on, in his heart Vijaya-kumara began to think of himself as a maidservant of Shrimati Lalita. Then he began to see the elderly babaji as an incarnation of Shri Lalita. Vijaya-kumara said, "O master, what more need by done by your mercy?" The saintly babaji replied, "Nothing more need be done. Only you should know the name, form, and garments of your spiritual body. Come to me in private and I will tell you of them." Saying, "As you order", Vijaya-kumara offered dandavat obeisances.

     From that day one Vrajanatha saw the elderly babaji as an incarnation of Subala. The babaji said to him, "Come to me all alone and I will tell you the name, form, and garments of your spiritual body." Saying, "As you order", Vrajanatha offered dandavat obeisances.

     Thinking that their lives had not become perfect, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara happily followed the path of raganuga-bhakti. Externally everything was as before. Externally Vijaya-kumara was a male, but within his heart he had become a gopi. Meanwhile within his heart, Vrajanatha had become a cowherd boy.


     A good part of the night had already passed. Chanting on japa beads the mantra:


Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

     Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

     Rama Rama Hare Hare


that their spiritual master had given them, the two of them walked toward Bilva-pushkarini. Almost half the night had passed. The moon rose. The season placed a pleasant situation in every direction. When they came to Lakshmana-tila, the two men sat under an amalika tree. Vijaya-kumara asked Vrajanatha, "O Vrajanatha, the desires in our hearts are now fulfilled. Because we have attained the mercy of a great Vaishnava, we will now attain the mercy of Lord Krishna. Now we should consider what will happen in the future. Vrajanatha, with an honest heart please tell me: What will you do? Will you marry, or will you take parivrajaka sannyasa? This request does not come from me. I only ask so I can tell your grandmother."


     Vrajanatha: Uncle, I am devoted to you. You are a pandita and a Vaishnava. In the absence of my father, you are my guardian. The path that you order, I will follow. I do not wish to become attached to material things, and thus forget the spiritual goal of life. Therefore I do not wish to marry. What do you think?

     Vijaya-kumara: I will not force you. You decide yourself and tell me.

     Vrajanatha: I will ask our spiritual master. I will do whatever he says.

     Vijaya-kumara: Good. Tomorrow we will go and hear what Prabhupada says about this.

     Vrajanatha: Saintly uncle, what do you think? Should I become a householder? Should I not become a parivrajaka sannyasi?

     Vijaya-kumara: Baba, my conclusion is the same as yours. We are of one mind. Accept parivrajaka sannyasa and extinguish the fire of household life. If you accept household life your heart will dry up. You will be cheated of the nectar of devotional service. My wish is that you follow whatever Shri Prabhupada says about this.


     A large part of the night had passed. It was right that they return home. Again and again singing the glories of Lord Hari, the uncle and nephew returned home, honored prasadam, and went to sleep.