Bhakti Sandarbha 311-312.1 : Rāgānugā a Mental Process
Rāgānugā bhakti is Predominately Practiced in the Mind
रागानुगायां प्रवृत्तिरपीदृशी (भा. ११.८.४०)—
सन्तुष्टा श्रद्दधत्येतद्यथालाभेन जीवती।
विहराम्यमुनैवाहमात्मना रमणेन वै॥
[Piṅgalā also describes] the manner of engaging in rāgānugā bhakti as follows:
Having full faith in Bhagavān and being content to live with whatever comes naturally, I shall enjoy with Him, my lover and my very Self. (SB 11.8.40)
अमुना इति भावगर्भरमणेन सह। आत्मना मनसैव तावद्विहरामि। रुचिप्रधानस्य मार्गस्यास्य मनःप्रधानत्वम्, तत्प्रेयसीरूपेणासिद्धायास्तादृशभजने प्रायो मनसैव युक्तत्वात्। अनेन श्रीमत्प्रतिमादौ तादृशीनामप्यौद्धत्यं परिहृतम्। एवं पितृत्वादिभावेष्वप्यनुसन्धेयम्॥
[The pronoun amunā, “with Him,” is used for a person or object that is far away.] This indicates an intention to enjoy with the lover who is present in consciousness, but not personally present. Ātmanā [translated above as "with… my very Self" should be understood to mean] “through the mind,” i.e., that the manner of enjoyment is internal. The verse is to be understood in this way because on the path inspired by taste (ruci), internal worship through the function of the mind plays a dominant role. Furthermore, Piṅgalā had not yet attained a spiritual form as a sweetheart of Bhagavān, in which case it is generally appropriate to perform such service only through the mind. From this it is understood that it is forbidden to behave in such an impudent manner with the deity form of Bhagavān, even for practitioners such as Piṅgalā. The same principles apply in regard to other relationships with Bhagavān, such as that of being a parent.
Commentary by Satyanārāyaṇadāsa Bābājī Mahārāja
After defining rāgānugā bhakti with an example and showing its superiority over vaidhī bhakti, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī gives the manner of its execution. He says that mind plays the most important role in it. This is so because attachment is the characteristic of the mind.
It is seen that some devotees who practice the mood of a sweetheart although possessing a male body dress like a cowherd girl. Śrī Jīva does not approve of it. He says that the important thing is the inner feeling or temperament and not the external dress. An actor can also dress like a sweetheart of Kṛṣṇa but will not have the corresponding consciousness. The change is to be brought about within and not without.
Rāgānugā Does Not Depend on Vedika Injunctions
312.1 Rāgānugā in other relations
एवं प्रेयसीत्वाभिमानमयी दर्शिता। एषा ब्रह्मवैवर्ते कामकलायामपि दृष्टा। सेवकत्वाद्यभिमानमय्यां रुचिभक्तिश्चान्यत्र ज्ञेया—"तस्मादमूस्तनुभृताम्" (भा. ७.९.२४) इत्यादौ, "उपनय मां निजभृत्यपार्श्वम्" इति श्रीप्रह्लादवचनवत्।
We have thus discussed rāgānugā bhakti performed with the attitude of a consort of Bhagavān. This type of devotion is also seen in a woman called Kāmakalā [described in the Brahma-Vaivarta Purāṇa]. Similarly, rāgānugā bhakti performed with a taste for rāgātmikā devotion steeped in the mood of a servant or some other temperament can be seen in other places, as in these words of Śrī Prahlāda:
I am well-acquainted with the blessings desired by embodied beings. Therefore, I do not covet a long life, opulence, social status or sense pleasure, even those available to Brahmā, since all of these are vanquished by You in the form of invincible time. Please accept me into the association of Your servants. (SB 7.9.24)
कदा गम्भीरया वाचा श्रिया युक्तो जगत्पते।
चामरव्यग्रहस्तं मामेवं कुर्विति वक्ष्यसि॥ इति।
Similarly, from the Nārada-Pañcarātra:
When will such fortune be mine, O Lord of the Universe, when I will stand expectantly with a cāmara in hand, and You, seated with Goddess Lakṣmī, will tell me in a deep voice to "do it this way." (BRS 1.2.155)
यथा स्कान्दे सनत्कुमारप्रोक्तसंहितायां प्रभाकरराजोपाख्याने—
अपुत्रोऽपि स वै नैच्छत् पुत्रं कर्मानुचिन्तयन्।
वासुदेवं जगन्नाथं सर्वात्मानं सनातनम्॥
अशेषोपनिषद्वेद्यं पुत्रीकृत्य विधानतः।
अभिषेचयितुं राजा स्वराज्य उपचक्रमे॥
न पुत्रमभ्यर्थितवान् साक्षाद्भूताज्जनार्दनात्॥
A taste for devotion in the mood of a parent is seen in the narration of King Prabhākara from the Sanat Kumāra Saṁhitā of the Skanda Purāṇa:
Although King Prabhākara was issueless, he did not desire a son, considering this to be the result of his past karma. He did not pray for a son even from Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, who had appeared directly before him. He considered Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, who is the eternal master of the universe, the Soul of everyone who is to be known by all the Upaniṣads, as his son, and made preparations to install Him duly in his kingdom.
अग्रे भगवद्दत्तवरश्च—"अहं ते भविता पुत्रः" इत्यादि।
Later on, Bhagavān offered him this boon: “I will become your son.”
अत एवोक्तं श्रीनारायणव्यूहस्तवे—
ये ध्यायन्ति सदोद्युक्तास्तेभ्योऽपीह नमो नमः॥ इति।
Thus it is said in the Nārāyaṇa-vyūha-stava:
I offer obeisance again and again also to those who always eagerly meditate on Bhagavān Hari as their husband, son, friend, brother, or like a father or mother.
अत्र पत्यादिवदिति ध्येयस्य पितृवदिति ध्यातुर्विशेषणं ज्ञेयम्। तथा मातृवदिति वतिप्रत्ययेन प्रसिद्धतन्मातृजनाभेदभावना नैवाङ्गीक्रियते, किन्तु तदनुगतभावनैव। एवं पितृभावादावपि ज्ञेयम्। अन्यथा भगवत्यहङ्ग्रहोपासनावत् तेष्वपि दोषः स्यात्।
In this verse the words “like a husband, son, friend or brother” are adjectives for Bhagavān Hari, who is to be meditated on in these different capacities by the devotees. The words “like a father or mother” are adjectives for the devotees, who meditate on themselves as parents of Bhagavān. In the compound mātṛ-vat, “like a mother,” the vati suffix (“like”) does not indicate that the devotee should meditate on him or herself as identical with Bhagavān's renowned mothers, but in the mood of following them. The same principle applies when adopting the attitude of a father or other relation. Otherwise, it would be a defect on the part of the devotees to imagine themselves as eternal associates of Bhagavān, similar to the fault of ahaṁgrahopāsanā, or worshiping oneself as Bhagavān.
तथा ध्यायन्ति इति पूर्वोक्तं मनःप्रधानत्वमेवोरीकृतम्। अपिशब्देन तत्तद्रागसिद्धानां कैमुत्यमाक्षिप्यते।
“They meditate” (dhyāyanti) confirms the prominence of the mind's role on the path of rāgānugā, as pointed out earlier. The word “also” [added to "those who meditate," etc.] implies that if even such practitioners are to be respected, then what can be said of those who have attained perfection in those particular relations of love?
Commentary by Satyanārāyaṇadāsa Bābājī Mahārāja
In the previous two anucchedas, rāgānugā bhakti in the temperament of a sweetheart was described. The same approach can also be applied in the temperaments of a servant, friend or parent by following in the footsteps of those eternal associates of Bhagavān who have those moods.
The verse Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī quotes from Nārāyaṇa-vyūha-stava has some lack of clarity that needs to be corrected. Taken literally it would mean "they meditate on Him as their husband, son, friend, brother, father or mother" (pati-putra-suhṛd-bhrātṛ-pitṛvan mātṛvat). Jīva Prabhu divides these relations in two different ways according to the referent. The words pati, putra, suhṛt and bhratṛ modify Bhagavān, while pitṛvat and matṛvat are descriptive of the devotee. He does this because it is not a custom in the Vaiṣṇava tradition to think of Bhagavān as one’s father or mother . Rāgānugā bhakti is performed to render service to Bhagavān in the specific temperament of a servant, friend, parent or sweetheart. To have the attitude of being His child does not give one the opportunity to serve Him. Rather one becomes an object of His service. Such a relation is tinged with awareness of Kṛṣṇa's majesty, therefore devotees aspiring for a relation with Him in Vraja are not keen for it .
vraja-sthānāṁ paraiśvarya-jñāna-śūnya-dhiyām api |
asty eva vallavādhīśa-putratvaiśvarya-vedanam ||
Those devotees living in Vraja are without any awareness of Kṛṣṇa's supreme majesty. The only majesty He has for them is that of being the son of the king of the cowherds, Nanda. (BRS 3.2.155 )
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī also warns that one should not identify oneself directly with the eternal associates of Bhagavān such as Nanda or Yaśoda but rather consider oneself to be their assistant. Identifying as an eternal associate would bring the same defect as in ahaṅgrahopāsanā or identifying oneself with Bhagavān.