Bhakti Sandarbha 312.2 : Rāgānugā is Independent of Injunctions

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312.2 Rāgānugā is Independent of Injunctions

ननु, "चोदनालक्षणोऽर्थो धर्मः" (जै.सू. १.१.२) इत्यनेन पूर्वमीमांसायां विधिनैवापूर्वं जायत इति श्रूयते। तथा "श्रुतिस्मृतिपुराणादिपञ्चरात्रविधिं विना" इत्यादिना यामले श्रुत्याद्येकतरोक्तक्रमनियमं विना दोषः श्रूयते।

A question may be raised here. In the Pūrva-mīmāṁsā it is said: “Dharma is a beneficial undertaking impelled by Vedic injunctions.” (P.M . 1.1.2) From this it is understood that on the path of Pūrva-mīmāṁsā, the result of a religious ceremony known as apūrva is generated only if the activity is carried out in accordance with the Vedic injunctions. And, according to the Viṣṇu Yāmala, whatever activity is not in conformity with the rules outlined in one or the other of the revealed literature is faulty:

Even one-pointed devotion to Bhagavān Hari becomes a source of disturbance if performed without adhering to the injunctions of the Śruti, Smṛti, Purāṇas or the Pañcarātra.

तथा —
श्रुतिस्मृती ममैवाज्ञे यस्ते उल्लङ्घ्य वर्तते।
आज्ञाच्छेदी मम द्वेषी मद्भक्तोऽपि न वैष्णवः॥

इत्यत्र श्रुत्याद्युक्तावश्यकक्रियानिषेधयोरुल्लङ्घनं वैष्णवत्वव्याघातकं श्रूयते।

Furthermore, it is heard that if one transgresses the compulsory rules and regulations of śruti and smṛti, he cannot be considered a Vaiṣṇava:

The Śruti and Smṛti are My orders. One who transgresses them disobeys Me and is inimical to Me. Even if such a person is My devotee, he cannot be considered a Vaiṣṇava.

कथं तर्हि विधिनिरपेक्षया तया सिद्धिः ?

Taking all this into consideration, how can one attain perfection through rāgānugā bhakti, which is independent of any injunction?

उच्यते—श्रीभगवन्नामगुणादिषु वस्तुशक्तेः सिद्धत्वान्न धर्मवद्भक्तेश्चोदनासापेक्षत्वम्। अतो ज्ञानादिकं विनापि फललाभो बहुत्र श्रुतोऽस्ति। चोदना तु यस्य स्वतःप्रवृत्तिर्नास्ति, तद्विषयैव। तथा क्रमविधिश्च तद्विषयः। तस्मिन्नेव नानाविक्षेपवति रुच्यभावेन रागात्मिकभक्तिशैलीमनभिजानति, सत्यामपि "धावन् निमील्य वा नेत्रे" (भा. ११.२.३५) इत्यादिन्यायेन यथाकथञ्चिदनुष्ठानतः सिद्धौ, सुष्ठु वर्त्मप्रवेशाय क्रमशश्चित्ताभिनिवेशाय च मर्यादारूपः स निर्मीयते।

This is answered as follows: Because Bhagavān’s names, attributes and other characteristics are naturally endowed with their own potencies, bhakti—unlike dharma—is not dependent on injunctions. Therefore, we find many references stating that bhakti yields its result even without knowledge, etc. The ordinances of scripture [to engage in specific actions] are specifically intended for those who are not naturally inclined [to them], and the way in which such procedures are meant to be carried out is also prescribed for them. Such people experience a great deal of confusion and mental agitation, and because of the absence of taste, they do not understand the nature of rāgātmikā-bhakti. Although this is the case, we find statements such as this:

O King, having taken to the path [of devotion], a person is never deviated. Even if he were to run along the path with eyes closed, he would neither slip nor fall. (SB 11.2.35)

By this principle it is understood that the path consisting of rules and regulations has been created in order to facilitate proper entry upon the path of perfection by initiating some form of practice, as well as to lead the mind gradually to the point of absorption in devotion.

अन्यथा सन्तततद्भक्त्युन्मुखताकरतादृशरुच्यभावान्मर्यादानभिपत्तेश्चाध्यात्मिकादिभिरुत्पातैर्विहन्यते च स इति, न तु स्वयं प्रवृत्तिमत्यपि मर्यादानिर्माणम्, तस्य रुच्यैव भगवन्मनोरमरागात्मिकाक्रमविशेषाभिनिवेशात्। तदुक्तं स्वयमेव—"ज्ञात्वाज्ञात्वाथ ये वै माम्" (भा. ११.११.३३) इत्यादिना।

Otherwise, because of the absence of this taste, which makes one continuously favorable towards devotion, and because of the inability to apply oneself to the rules and regulations along the path, the practitioner is obstructed by the disturbances arising from the body and mind, from nature, and from providence. The rules and regulations are not created for one who is naturally drawn to devotion, because by taste alone such a person will be absorbed in the specific manners of rāgātmikā devotion that captivate Bhagavān. This is stated by Bhagavān Himself in verses such as this:

I consider those who worship Me with exclusive devotion to be the best of all devotees, whether or not they are aware of the extent of My being, or who I am in reality, or of what nature I am constituted. (SB 11.11.33)

रागात्मिकभक्तिमतां दुरभिसन्धिनाप्यनुकरणमात्रेण तादृशत्वप्राप्तिः श्रूयते, यथा धात्रीत्वानुकरणेन पूतनायाः। तदुक्तम्—"सद्वेषादिव पूतनापि सकुला" (भा. १०.१४.३५) इति।

It is learnt from scripture that even if one imitates the devotees who have rāgatmika-bhakti with ill-motive, he or she attains perfection, as in the case of Pūtanā, who imitated the behavior of a nurse [in order to kill Kṛṣṇa when He was just a baby]. Pūtanā’s attainment of perfection is referred to by Brahmā: “Merely by disguising herself as a devotee, Pūtanā along with her family members also attained You.” (SB 10.14.35)

किमुत तदीयरुचिमद्भिस्तादृशनिरन्तरसम्यग्भक्त्यनुष्ठानेन। तदुक्तम् (भा. १०.६.३५-३६) —

पूतना लोकबालघ्नी राक्षसी रुधिराशना।
जिघांसयापि हरये स्तनं दत्त्वाप सद्गतिम्॥
किं पुनः श्रद्धया भक्त्या कृष्णाय परमात्मने।
यच्छन् प्रियतमं किं नु रक्तास्तन्मातरो यथा॥ इति।

If such was the attainment of Pūtanā, then what must be said of those who have a natural taste for bhakti and are always fully engaged in the execution of devotion. That was stated by Śrī Śuka who said:

Pūtanā, who was a bloodsucking demon engaged in killing infants, attained a holy destiny as the devotees by offering her breast to Bhagavān Hari, even though she did so with the intention of killing Him. What then is the destination of one who offers something precious to Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Soul, with utmost reverence and devotion, as did His affectionate mothers? (SB 10.6.35-36)

अत उक्तं—"न मय्येकान्तभक्तानां गुणदोषोद्भवा गुणाः" (भा. ११.२०.३६) इति। एकान्तित्वं खलु भक्तिनिष्ठा। सा रुच्यैव वा शास्त्रविध्यादरेणैव वा जायते।

Thus Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa said:

Virtue and vice resulting from good and evil are not found in my exclusive devotees, who are saintly, even-minded, and have attained the Supreme Absolute beyond the reasoning faculty. (SB 11.20.36)

In this verse, "exclusive" (ekānta) means those who are steadily fixed in devotion (niṣṭhā). This steadiness comes about either from a liking for it (ruci) or out of a regard for scriptural injunctions.

ततो रुचेर्विरलत्वादुत्तराभावेनापि यदैकान्तिकीत्वं, तत् तस्यैकान्तिकमानिनो दम्भमात्रमित्यर्थः। ततस्तदनूद्यैव निन्दा "श्रुतिस्मृतिपुराणादि" इत्यादिना, न तु रुचिभावेऽपि तन्निन्दा युक्ता, "पूतना" (भा. १०.६.३५-३६) इत्यादेः।

Because natural taste in devotion is extremely rare, if one considers himself fixed in exclusive devotion yet is entirely without the latter [i.e., reverence for scriptural injunctions], his so-called fixity in devotion is mere pretense. Hence, the criticism of exclusive devotion that does not adhere to the injunctions of scripture, as in the śruti-smṛti-purāṇa verse cited above, is directed towards those who have not developed a taste for devotion. Such criticism is not appropriate in the case of those who have acquired taste, as was shown in the verses about Pūtanā quoted above (SB 10.6.35-36).

तथा चोक्तं पाद्मोत्तरखण्डे (६.२३५.९,७) —

स्वातन्त्र्यात् क्रियते कर्म न च वेदोदितं महत्।
विनैव भगवत्प्रीत्या ते वै पाषण्डिनः स्मृताः॥ इति।

Similarly, it is said in the Uttara-khaṇḍa of the Padma Purāṇa:

Those who are devoid of love for Bhagavān but independently undertake great works of piety without regard for the injunctions of the Vedas are certainly heretics. (PP 6.235.9a,7a)

प्रीतिरत्र तादृशरुचिः। तदेवमत्र शास्त्रानादरस्यैव निन्दा, न तु तदज्ञानस्य "धावन् निमील्य वै" (११.२.३५) इत्यादेः।

In this verse love (prīti), means that kind of taste for devotion. Consequently, it is the disrespect of scripture that is criticized here, not ignorance of it, because such ignorance has not been considered detrimental, as is implied in SB 11.2.35, quoted above ("Even if he were to run along the path with eyes closed, he would neither slip nor fall.").

गौतमीयतन्त्रे त्विदमप्युक्तम्—

न जपो नार्चनं नैव ध्यानं नापि विधिक्रमः।
केवलं सन्ततं कृष्णचरणाम्भोजभाविनाम्॥

The Gautamīya Tantra goes even a step further with this statement:

Those who continuously think only of the lotus feet of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa have no need for uttering mantras, worship of the deity, meditation or the injunctions of scripture.

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj

After introducing rāgānugā bhakti Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī anticipates a pertinent objection against it. In the past, Brāhmaṇas in India predominantly followed the Purva-mimāṁsā philosophy, which is based on the Vedas. The fundamental principles of this school are as follows: the Veda is the supreme authority for giving us knowledge. The essence of the Veda is dharma. It is the duty of every human being to follow dharma. Dharma is nothing but the beneficial injunction of the Vedas. By following the injunction of the Vedas one accumulates good fortune called apūrva (See Anuccheda 222). This apūrva is responsible for bringing one pleasure in the this life and elevating one to heaven. If one does not follow the Vedic injunctions one incurs sin that leads to misery.

Keeping this in mind, if it is accepted that rāgānugā bhakti is not based on any injunction, which is its basic distinction from vaidhī bhakti, then its performance would not give rise to any apūrva. Rather, not being rooted in the injunction of the Veda, it would be a defective act that leads to suffering.

Śrī Jīva replies that the activities prescribed in the Veda such as performance of a particular yajña do not have any potency in them. They are material actions. They generate apūrva because thay have been ordained in the Veda and a person has followed the injunction of the Veda. But the activities of devotion such as chanting Bhagavān's names have an inherent power in them. That power is not dependent upon any injunction of the Veda. That is why it is seen that sometimes even ignorant people engaged in acts of devotion are benefited by it.

The injunction of the Veda is for people who are not inclined to follow dharma naturally. Such people are troubled by numerous desires, as Kṛṣṇa says, “The intellect of a materialistic person is many-branched, seeking innumerable aims” (Gītā 2.41).

Vedic injunctions and various procedures are given for such people to restrain their turbulent mind, as sage Āvirhotra tells king Nimi:


The Vedas speak in a covert manner. Their purpose is to discipline the ignorant people and release them from the bondage of karma by engaging them in prescribed actions. It is just like giving a bitter medicine coated with sugar. (11.3.44)

The purpose of all injunction and prohibitions is to bring one to pure devotion, as is said in Padma Purāṇa,


One should always remember Bhagavān Viṣṇu and never ever forget Him. Whatever other prescriptions and prohibitions there are in the scripture are meant to serve only this one prescription and this one prohibition. (PP 6.71.100)

If one has natural inclination for devotion then such a person does not need any injunctions. Rules serve no purpose for him. Rules have meaning only if there are people who transgress them. Kṛṣṇa says on many occasions that it is not even necessary for a devotee with such a natural inclination to have knowledge about Him before beginning worship. Even if without knowledge, he is still a great devotee (11.11.33).

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī says that to imitate the acts of rāgātmikā devotees, even with ill intentions, is elevating. He gives the example of Pūtanā who dressed as a gopī but intended to kill the baby Kṛṣṇa by feeding Him her poisoned breast. Kṛṣṇa delivered her and gave her the post of a mother just because of her gopī disguise, sad-veṣa. The dress acted as an excitant for His love towards all His devotees and so He gratefully favored her despite her wicked intentions.

The characteristics of a pure devotee are not a product of the guṇas of material nature but arise out of devotion. Pure devotion comes about either as an outcome of one's natural liking for it or by following bhakti impelled by scriptural injunctions. A person who does not have either of these two cannot be considered a pure devotee or ekānta-bhakta. The frequently quote verse that says engaging in pure devotion while disregarding the injunctions of the Śruti, Smṛti and Purāṇas is a cause of disturbance is meant for people who consider themselves to be pure devotees or make a show of it while actually being devoid of bhakti. It is not making reference to the rāgānugā devotees who may neglect certain scriptural injunctions. Otherwise Putanā, who only pretended to be a gopī, would not have been awarded the elevated post of a mother.

People who have neither a natural liking for bhakti nor follow the scriptural injunctions and who act whimsically are called heretics, pāṣaṇḍī. This includes people like followers of the Buddha, the Jain Mahāvīra and Dattātreya.

It should be noted that it is only the disrespect of scriptures that is criticized, not the ignorance about their content. A person who has natural liking for bhakti even if he is ignorant about scriptures is honorable. This is because he already has achieved what the scriptures intend for one to achieve.



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