Bhakti Sandarbha 310 : Raganuga Bhakti Introduction
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We are now beginning the final portion of the Bhakti Sandarbha (310-340), dealing with the all-important subject of Rāgānugā Bhakti.
तदेवं वैधी भक्तिर्दर्शिता। अस्याश्चोक्तानामङ्गानामनुक्तानां च कुत्रचित् कस्याप्यङ्गस्यान्यत्र तु तदितरस्य यन्महिमाधिक्यं वर्ण्यते, तत्तच्छ्रद्धाभेदेन तत्तत्प्रभावोल्लासापेक्षयेति न परस्परविरुद्धत्वम्। अधिकारिभेदेन ह्यौषधादीनामपि तादृशत्वं दृश्यते।
We have thus described vaidhī bhakti, or devotion in accordance with scriptural injunctions. Many limbs of vaidhī bhakti have been explained here, and there are still others that have not been mentioned. Of these, one particular limb of devotion may be glorified above others in some scriptural references, while elsewhere a different limb of devotion is given prominence. This emphasis of the power of specific practices is given because different people have different kinds of faith. Therefore, there is no contradiction between them. The same principle applies in the case of medicine, in which different remedies are prescribed according to the requirements of different patients.
अथ रागानुगा। तत्र विषयिणः स्वाभाविको विषयसंसर्गेच्छातिशयमयः प्रेमा रागः, यथा चक्षुरादीनां सौन्दर्यादौ। तादृश एवात्र भक्तस्य श्रीभगवत्यपि राग इत्युच्यते।
Now we will discuss rāgānugā-bhakti [i.e., devotion prompted by spontaneous attraction].
A person attached to sensual enjoyment has a natural love [prema] for sense objects that manifests as an intense desire to contact those objects, called rāga. The eyes, for example, are spontaneously drawn to beauty. When a devotee here experiences the same intense desire towards Bhagavān, it is also called rāga.
स च रागो विशेषणभेदेन बहुधा दृश्यते—"येषामहं प्रिय आत्मा सुतश्च सखा गुरुः सुहृदो दैवमिष्टम्" (भा. ३.२५.३८) इत्यादौ।
This latter rāga is seen to be of many types according to the different modifiers it is given, as shown in this statement of Bhagavān Kapila:
O Mother, I am the beloved, the Supreme Self, the son, friend, teacher or elder, the well-wisher and worshipable deity of these devotees. (SB 3.25.38)
तत्र प्रियो यथा तदीयप्रेयसीनाम्। आत्मा परब्रह्मरूपः श्रीसनकादीनाम्। सुतः श्रीव्रजेश्वरादीनाम्। सखा श्रीश्रीदामादीनाम्। गुरुः श्रीप्रद्युम्नादीनाम्। कस्यापि भ्राता, कस्यापि मातुलेयः, कस्यापि वैवाहिक इत्यादिरूपः स एक एव तेषु बहुप्रकारत्वेन सुहृदः सम्बन्धिनाम्। दैवमिष्टं तदीयसेवकानां श्रीदारुकप्रभृतीनामिति प्रसिद्धम्।
“Beloved” (priya) here refers to the rāga of Kṛṣṇa’s sweethearts; “the Supreme Self” (ātmā) to that of the sages like the four Kumāra brothers, who related to Bhagavān as the Supreme Brahman; “son” (sutaḥ) to that of Nanda Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa's father; “friend” (sakhā) refers to the rāga of devotees like Kṛṣṇa’s friend, Śrīdama; and “elder” (guru) to that of those like Kṛsṇa's son, Pradyumna. Bhagavān is somebody's brother, someone else's cousin and another's relative through marriage. In this manner, the one Bhagavān is a "well-wisher" (suhṛdaḥ) in many different ways to all those who are related to Him. To servants such as Dāruka, He is the "worshipful deity" or daivam iṣṭam. All these different relationships are widely known.
अत्र श्रीमत्यां मोहिन्यां यः खलु रुद्रस्य भावो जातः, स तु नाङ्गीकृतः, अनुक्तत्वात्, तस्य मायामोहिततयैव तादृशभावाभ्युपगमाच्च।
The feeling of attraction that arose in Rudra towards Mohinī [when Kṛṣṇa assumed the form of a beautiful woman to captivate the minds of the asuras] is not accepted as one of the legitimate forms of love for Bhagavān, since it is not referred to in the above verse, and also because such feelings arose in Rudra due to bewilderment created by Bhagavān’s deluding potency.
तदेवं तत्तदभिमानलक्षणभावविशेषणेन स्वाभाविकरागस्य वैशिष्ट्ये सति तत्तद्रागप्रयुक्ता श्रवणकीर्तनस्मरण-पादसेवनवन्दनात्मनिवेदनप्राया भक्तिस्तेषां रागात्मिका भक्तिरित्युच्यते। तस्याश्च साध्यायां रागलक्षणायां भक्तिगङ्गायां तरङ्गरूपत्वात् साध्यत्वमेवेति, न तु साधनप्रकरणेऽस्मिन् प्रवेशः। अतो रागानुगा कथ्यते।
In this way, there is a unique quality to this natural rāga, because the devotees each have a specific loving mood toward Bhagavān that is defined by their respective self-conception [whether as a lover of Kṛṣṇa, a parent, a friend, or so on]. The bhakti found in the associates of Bhagavān, consisting primarily of hearing, singing, remembering, serving Bhagavān’s feet, bowing before Bhagavān and surrendering the self, is motivated by such rāga and is called rāgātmikā-bhakti. Their devotional activities belong to the state of perfection because they arises like waves in the Gaṅgā of this devotion characterized by the rāga that is the ultimate goal to be attained. As such, it does not come under the heading of sādhana or devotion in practice. For this reason we will now discuss the practice of devotion that emulates this rāga (rāgānugā-bhakti), [which does].
यस्य पूर्वोक्ते रागविशेषे रुचिरेव जातास्ति, न तु रागविशेष एव स्वयं, तस्य तादृशरागसुधाकरकराभाससमुल्लसित-हृदयस्फटिकमणेः शास्त्रादिश्रुतासु तादृश्या रागात्मिकाया भक्तेः परिपाटीष्वपि रुचिर्जायते। ततस्तदीयं रागं रुच्यनु गच्छन्ती सा रागानुगा तस्यैव प्रवर्तते।
When a person develops a taste for the aforesaid specific rāga, even though it is not itself such a specific rāga, it is reflected like the nectarean rays of the moon shining on his crystal-like heart. Then when one hears about such rāgatmikā bhakti from scripture or from one’s teacher, they develop a taste for its techniques and activities. Such a person alone then executes devotion, called rāgānugā, by following the rāga of a particular associate of Bhagavān according to his own taste.
एषैवाविहितेति केषाञ्चित् संज्ञा, रुचिमात्रप्रवृत्त्या विधिप्रयुक्तत्वेनाप्रवृत्तत्वात्। न च वक्तव्यं विध्यनधीनस्य न सम्भवति भक्तिरिति।
Some people give this bhakti the technical term "not prescribed" (avihitā), because it is impelled only by taste and not by any scriptural injunction. One should not claim, however, that one not subservient to scriptural injunctions cannot engage in bhakti, because Śrī Śuka said:
नैर्गुण्यस्था रमन्ते स्म गुणानुकथने हरेः॥ इत्यत्र श्रूयते।
O King, those sages who are beyond the rules and regulations of scripture and situated on the nirguṇa platform, free from material influence, usually relish reciting the virtues of Bhagavān Hari. (SB 2.1.7)
ततो विधिमार्गभक्तिर्विधिसापेक्षेति सा दुर्बला। इयं तु स्वतन्त्रैव प्रवर्तते इति प्रबला च ज्ञेया। अत एवास्या जन्मलक्षणं भक्तिव्यतिरेकेणान्यत्रानभिरुचिमुपलक्ष्य
Vaidhī bhakti is thus weak because it depends on scriptural injunctions, whereas rāgānugā is very powerful, being propelled independently. Therefore, when rāgānugā appears, it is marked by an absence of taste for anything unrelated to bhakti.
(भा. ३.५.१३) —
विरक्तिमन्यत्र करोति पुंसः।
समस्तदुःखाप्ययमाशु धत्ते॥ इति।
[Śrī Vidura makes this point in the third canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in reference to the development of taste for hearing Bhagavān's pastimes]:
When this taste increases in the heart of a faithful person, it brings detachment from all other objects. Such a person becomes absorbed in the bliss of remembering Bhagavān's feet, and all his miseries are quickly dispelled. (SB 3.5.13)
सा पूर्वोक्ता कथागृहीता मतिस्तद्रुचिरित्यर्थः। विधिनिरपेक्षत्वादेव पूर्वाभ्यां दास्यसख्याभ्यामेतदीययोस्तयोर्भेदश्च ज्ञेयः। एवमेवोक्तं "तन्मन्येऽधीतमुत्तमम्" (७.५.२४) इति। अत एव विध्युक्तक्रमोऽपि नास्यामत्यादृतः। किन्तु रागात्मिकाश्रुतक्रम एव।
In this verse the pronoun sā relates back to its antecedent from the previous verse, the intellect drawn to the stories of Bhagavān Hari. In other words, it refers to the taste for such stories. Because rāgānugā is independent of any injunctions, the dāsya and sakhya of rāgānugā, are different from the dāsya and sakhya of vaidhī. This is implied in this statement of Prahlāda:
If a person surrenders unto Bhagavān Viṣṇu and then directly performs these nine types of bhakti, I consider him to have reached the pinnacle of all study. (SB 7.5.24)
[In this verse, the mention of study implies dependence on scriptural injunctions. Consequently, the dāsya or sakhya implied in this verse relates to vaidhī bhakti.]
Therefore in rāgānugā the system prescribed for vaidhī bhakti is not strictly followed, but only the methodology that relates to the rāgātmikā associates of Bhagavān.
तत्र रागात्मिकायां रुचिर्यथा (भा. ११.८.३५)—
तं विक्रीयात्मनैवाहं रमेऽनेन यथा रमा॥
Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, narrating the story of the prostitute Piṅgalā, demonstrates the nature of taste in rāgātmikā-bhakti. Piṅgalā said,
He [Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa] is the friend, the most beloved, the master and Self of all embodied beings. I shall purchase Him through the price of my self-surrender, and thus delight with Him, just like Goddess Lakṣmī. (SB 11.8.35)
अत्र स्वाभाविकसौहृद्यादिधर्मैस्तस्मिन्नेव स्वाभाविकपतित्वं स्थापयित्वा, परस्यौपाधिकपतित्वमित्यभिप्रेतम्। अन्यत्र, "पत्यावेकत्वं सा गता यस्माच्चरुमन्त्राहुतिव्रतैः" (लघुहारीतेनोक्तम्) इति छान्दोग्यपरिशिष्टानुसारेण कृत्रिममेकात्मत्वम् । तस्मिन् परमात्मनि तु स्वभावत एवेत्यात्मशब्दस्याप्यभिप्रायः।
The implication here is that Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa is the friend, the most beloved, the master and so on, by His inherent nature. Thus it is natural to select Him alone as one’s husband, whereas others are husbands in name only. According to the Chāndogya-pariśiṣṭa:
This woman has become one with her husband through vows consisting of the caru-mantra and oblations offered in the sacrificial fire.
From this statement it is clear that it is artificial to consider an ordinary husband as one’s own self, because this oneness is established through external means. But in the case of Bhagavān this oneness is natural because He is the Supreme Self by His very constitution. This is implied in the verse by use of the word ātmā, “the Self of all embodied beings.”
एवं यद्यपि तस्मिन् पतित्वमनाहार्यम् एवास्ति, तथापि आत्मनैव मूल्यभूतेनैव तं विशेषतः क्रीत्वा यथान्यापि कन्या विवाहात्मकेन स्वात्मसमर्पणेन कञ्चित् पतित्वेनोपादत्ते, तथा भावेनाश्रित्य अनेन परममनोहररूपेण तेन सह रमे रमा लक्ष्मीर्यथा। तदेवं तस्याः पिङ्गलाया रागे स्वरुचिर्द्योतिता॥
So, although the relation with Bhagavān as one’s husband is not artificially created, Piṅgalā states that she will purchase Him through the price of self-surrender. As an unmarried woman accepts a man as her husband by offering herself through marriage, Piṅgalā adopts an identical attitude in relation to Bhagavān, who has a most enchanting form, aspiring to enjoy with Him just as Goddess Lakṣmī does. In this way, Piṅgalā's personal taste in rāgānugā devotion has been indicated.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
In this anuccheda, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī concludes his discussion of vaidhī bhakti. He says that sometimes some particular limb of bhakti is glorified and in a different place another limb is glorified. For example, in Padma Purāṇa one can read the importance different devotional activities such as watering a tulasī plant or visiting a holy place like Mathurā. By reading such descriptions one may be in a dilemma what to follow and what to avoid because it is not possible to follow everything. It is to be understood that everything is not for everybody. Various benefits resulting from different devotional activities are given to inspire people to engage in them. It is like the benefits of various medicinal herbs described in books like Caraka-saṁhitā. One is not expected to consume all herbs. One should consult an expert Ayurvedic doctor about which herb to take for one’s ailment. Similarly one should follow the instructions of one’s guru regarding one’s sādhanā.
After concluding the description of vaidhī bhakti, Śrī Jīva begins describing rāgānugā-bhakti. His real intent has always been to describe rāgānugā-bhakti. Whatever has been described till now has been given as the basis to comprehend this, so it is very important to understand it first. It is very difficult to understand rāgānugā without having understood vaidhī bhakti.
A person is inclined to act in two ways, either because there is an injunction to act or because of natural liking for the action. The first one may be with a particular motive in mind or motiveless. When these actions are performed for the pleasure of Bhagavān they are called vaidhī and rāga bhakti respectively. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī defines them as follows: “When scriptural injunction alone is the cause of engaging in bhakti it called vaidhī but if greed is the cause then it is called rāgānugā” (Rāga-vartma-candrikā 3).
Our senses have natural attachment or rāga for their respective sense objects, which are pleasing to them, and aversion towards unpleasant sense objects (GĪTĀ 3.34). A similar natural attachment of a devotee towards Bhagavān is also called rāga. Such rāga is naturally found in the eternal associates of Bhagavān. If a conditioned being hears or reads about this rāga and becomes attracted to experience it, then he would make an effort to have it. Such an effort is called rāgānugā bhakti.
When a person’s heart is free of material desires, then hearing from a great devotee inspires him to engage in acts of hearing and chanting about Bhagavān. He becomes eager to have attachment like the associates of Bhagavān. Such an inspiration is not arising from any injunction of scriptures. Thus this bhakti is also called avihitā or free of any injunction. The prime difference between vaidhī and rāgānugā lies in the cause of the inspiration to engage in bhakti.
Rāgānugā is more powerful than vaidhī bhakti because it is inspired by the taste for it. It is like the difference between the intensity of desire to drink milk between a person who naturally likes to drink milk and the person who has no liking for it but drinks only because some book on health recommends it and eulogises its benefits. The first person will drink without caring about any recommendation or for its benefits. He relishes drinking it and does so with great enthusiasm. He looks forward to drinking it. The second person has no taste for milk and has to keep its benefits in mind while drinking it. He feels relieved when the act of drinking is over. If he did not have to drink it and could avoid it without losing its benefits, he would be happy. Therefore, although externally the acts of vaidhī and rāgānugā may appear exactly the same such hearing, chanting or worship, there is actually a big difference in the intensity of the performer.
It is rather strange that Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī would choose Piṅgalā, a prostitute, as an example of rāgānugā bhakti. He does so in order to stress the importance of ruci or taste because she was not morally bound by any religious principles at all, what to speak of those that tell one to engage in bhakti.
Piṅgalā lived in the city of Mithilā. One day, as was her custom, she decorated herself and sat at her door to allure prospective customers. Whenever she saw a man walking by, she would be filled with hope that he would come to her, and would feel distressed when he passed by. Then she would turn her eyes and mind to the next prospective customer. She was looking forward to getting a rich client who would give her a big sum of money, but on that day nobody came to take her services. She felt agitated and frustrated. In her impatience, she was pacing back and forth, going inside the house and then back to the door again. A good part of the night passed like this and she felt very dejected. In that state, a sense of detachment filled her mind and she started to deliberate on her demeaning profession. She realized that she was running after a mortal lover while the real lover resides in her heart. The verse cited here is part of her song.
DISCLAIMER: All the posts related to Bhakti Sandarbha are not the final product. This version will be refined by other readers and editors, including Babaji himself. Please do not use this material without reference to this disclaimer. This material is copyrighted by the Jiva Institute.
Bhakti Sandarbha 309 : Atma-nivedanam
Bhakti Sandarbha 300-303 : Offenses in Deity Worship, Vandanam
Bhakti Sandarbha 296-299 : More on Arcana and Eligibility for It
Bhakti Sandarbha 295 : Adhiṣṭhānas of the Deity
Bhakti Sandarbha 287-294 : Eligibility for Honor
Bhakti Sandarbha 286 : Other Important Aspects of Arcana
Bhakti Sandarbha 285 : The Gods Named in Āvaraṇa-pūjā are Bhagavān's Associates
Bhakti Sandarbha 284 : The Difference Between Mantra and Name
Bhakti Sandarbha 283 : Pāda-sevā (Concluded) and Arcanam