- In my understanding of this process there is no fundamental difference in the sambandha or prayojana for the Orthodox and Sahajiya schools, though there are some differences in the abhidheya.
- Ahangrahopasana is, as we have shown, acceptable when interpreted according to the correct sambandha and prayojana, and only rejected when it disagrees with the metaphysics and ultimate goal of Vaishnava practice. When it agrees, it is called aropa. This aropa is similar to, but not exactly the same as the aropa in aropa-siddha bhakti that has been discussed in a previous post.
- The goal of bhakti is bhava and prema. The word bhakti does not make a clear and specific difference between external activities and internal moods; bhava and prema are clearly and specifically internal. The spiritual world is sometimes called "bhava-rajya" because it is, essentially, formed out of bhava (hladinir sar bhava). This is very important to understand and I have been returning to it again and again: the spiritual world is within and it is created out of bhava or feeling. This is the Vaishnava position, as opposed to the jnani or karmi.
- Three terms that are in need of analysis: ahangrahopasana, sadharanikarana and aropa. They all have some relation to the concept of identification with someone other than oneself. What exactly is the relationship between the three terms? Ahangrahopasana refers to identification with God; it was stated that such identification is not altogether excluded if it is understood as identification with the Godhead, i.e., God and his energies.
- Sadharanikarana is described as the natural mechanism of identification taking place on hearing a story. This is a somewhat mysterious process, but Sri Rupa Prabhu has identified it as an essential ingredient in the experience of rasa. Rupa warns against identifying with Krishna, but rather with his devotees, i.e. Radha. But when Radha and Krishna are One, how does one distinguish the Two ?
- We have looked at one definition of Aropa, as in the idea of Aropa-siddha bhakti in order to help understand its meaning. Aropa is about an apparent artificial process of attribution. It is much what is attempted when one identifies as a manjari. In the case of a devotional lovemaking, it is but one part of a somewhat complex combination of psychological procedures that are put into play. I'd like to leave that for now.
- The first thing you might notice is that I have placed svarupa siddha bhakti in with sadhana-bhakti. Svarupa siddha bhakti is not in itself bhava. It is powerful for its ability to produce bhava. Sanga siddha and aropa siddha bhakti do not have that power; indeed they are dependent on a degree of bhava to give them their devotional value. Sanga-siddha bhakti means activities that are sacralized through the accompaniment of svarupa-siddha devotional activities, including mental ones. Though aropa-siddha bhakti is the least powerful kind of bhakti, being without any real devotional essence, for a person in the most advanced stage of devotion, since he is filled with bhava and prema, he sees all things in a devotional way. Therefore, there is an "aropa" or attribution of sacredness to things that ordinarily would not be seen in that way.
- Another thing that will be noticed is that in the Sahajiya system, Raganuga bhakti is defined differently and in some respects closer to Gaudiya Math thinking on the matter. The Sahajiyas consider the orthodox practices of raganuga bhakti to fall within the vaidhi category. For them, raganuga bhakti starts on the sadhaka platform when one takes shelter of bhava (bhavashraya).
- As stated above, the spiritual world is "bhava-maya." The goal of sadhana bhakti (in general terms, not as in the Sahajiya terminology) is to achieve inner states known as bhava. The Sahajiya understanding of Raganuga bhakti is that it focuses on the inner states or moods, which being associated and identified with those of the spiritual world are transcendent and give direction to the bhava-rajya. In other words, the focus of the Sahajiya is on the bhava, rather than the technical details of asta-kaliya lila-smarana, though these should have been internalized in the pravartaka stage. (Namashraya refers to Orthodoxy's vaidhi bhakti, mantrashraya to its raganuga bhakti.)
- Evidently, in the sadhaka stage, yogic practices are added to the equation as a certain physical culture is required to aid and enhance concentration. Nevertheless, one does not altogether stop the sadhana practices of the pravartaka stage, even though these may be loosened. This is because one's ashraya is different.
- Since the Sahajiya follows the bhava rather than the scriptural details prescribed in the various smarana-paddhatis, which as I mentioned in a prior post in this series, provide primarily intellectual interest which is lost when the novelty wears off, it opens the doors to the kind of sacralizing perception that Eliade talks about and which is announced in the Bhagavatam as the goal of bhakti practice. (See BhP 11.2.55ff) But it also enriches his experience of the svarupa-siddha devotional activities in the madhura mood.