Bhakti Sandarbha 325 : Rāgānugā Bhakti is Predominantly Performed to Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana

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Anuccheda 325

Rāgānugā Bhakti is Predominantly Performed to Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana

तदेवं रागानुगा साधिता। सा च श्रीकृष्ण एव मुख्या, "गोप्यः कामात्" (भा. ७.१.३०) इत्यादिना तस्मिन्नेव दर्शितत्वात्, दैत्यानामपि द्वेषेणापि तस्मिन्नेवावेशलाभदर्शनात्, सिद्धिप्राप्तेश्च। नान्यत्र तु कुत्राप्यंशिन्यंशे वा। अत एवोक्तम्, "तस्मात् केनाप्युपायेन मनः कृष्णे निवेशयेत्" (भा. ७.१.३१) इत्यादि।

We have thus established rāgānugā bhakti [as the most effective means to attain Bhagavān]. This path is directed primarily toward Śrī Kṛṣṇa [in contrast to other forms of Bhagavān], because the verse which serves as the basis of rāgānugā, i.e., “the gopīs attained Him by amorous desire,” (SB 7.1.30) has been shown to be exclusively in relation to Him alone. Furthermore, it was also shown that the asuras attained absorption in Him alone even through inimical feelings and thus attained perfection. This phenomenon does not occur with any other form of Bhagavān, whether a full or partial manifestation. For this reason Śrī Nārada said: “Therefore, by any means whatsoever one should absorb the mind in Kṛṣṇa.” (SB 7.1.31)

अतस्तादृशझटित्यावेशहेतूपासनालाभादेव स्वयमेकादशे वैधोपासना स्वस्मिन् नोक्ता, किन्त्वन्यत्र चतुर्भुजाकार एव। तत्र च शुद्धस्य रागस्य श्रीगोकुल एव दर्शनात्। तत्र तु रागानुगा मुख्यतमा, यत्र खलु स्वयं भगवान् अपि तेषां पुत्रादिभावेनैव विलसति, "ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते" (गीता ४.११) इत्यादेः, "मल्लानामशनिः" (भा. १०.४३.१४) इत्यादेः, "स्वेच्छामयस्य" (भा. १०.१४.२) इत्यस्माच्च।

So because it is specifically the adoption of rāgānugā worship that quickly leads to this absorption in Him, Kṛṣṇa has not spoken about vaidhī worship in regard to Himself in the Eleventh Canto, where the discussion of vaidhī relates only to His four-armed form. And also because there in the Bhāgavatam, pure rāga for Kṛṣṇa is found only in Gokula. In Gokula rāgānugā is supreme, where even God Himself plays exclusively like a son, friend or lover of His devotees. This understanding is in conformity with Kṛṣṇa’s statement in the Gītā:

I reciprocate with those who worship Me exactly in accordance with the specific mood in which they approach Me. (Gītā 4.11)

[An example of how Kṛṣṇa appeared differently to different people in accordance with their individual outlook is given in this verse]:

When Kṛṣṇa entered the arena of Kaṁsa with His elder brother, He appeared as a thunderbolt to the wrestlers, as the perfect man to other men, as the god of love to women, as a kinsman to the cowherds, as a chastiser to the wicked kings, as a child to His parents, as death personified to Kaṁsa, as the gross cosmic form to the ignorant, as the Absolute Truth to the yogīs, and as the supreme deity to the Vṛṣṇis. (SB 10.43.17)

Brahmā also confirmed the same in these words: “You manifest according to the will of Your devotees.” (SB 10.14.2)

ततश्च भक्तकर्तृकभोजनपायनस्नपनवीजनादिलक्षणलालनेच्छापि तस्याकृत्रिमैव जायते। साधारणभक्तिसद्भावेनैव हि—

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति।
तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः॥ (भा. १०.८१.३) इत्युक्तम्।

Thus although Bhagavān is supremely independent, His desire to be taken care of by His devotees, by eating the food and drinks they prepare for Him and by allowing them to bathe and fan Him, is also real. Bhagavān graciously accepts even that which is offered with ordinary devotion, as in this statement:

If one offers Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I accept such an offering of love from that person of purified heart. (Gītā 9.26, SB 10.81.3)

श्रीशुकदेवेन च तदेतदेवाकाङ्क्षया श्लाघितम्—

पादसंवाहनं चक्रुः केचित् तस्य महात्मनः।
अपरे हतपाप्मानो व्यजनैः समवीजयत्॥ (भा. १०.१५.१७) इत्यादिना।

To show Bhagavān’s eagerness to be cared for in these various ways by His devotees, Śrī Śukadeva praised Kṛṣṇa’s friends:

Some greatly fortunate boys massaged the feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, while other sinless boys cooled His body with fans. (SB 10.15.17)

नानेन चैश्वर्यस्य हानिः, तदानीमपि तस्यैश्वर्यस्यान्यत्र स्फुरद्रूपत्वात्, भक्तेच्छामयत्वस्य चेशितरि प्रशंसनीयस्वभावत्वादेव। यथा श्रीव्रजेश्वरीबद्ध एव यमलार्जुनमोक्षं कृतवान्। तादृशैश्वर्येऽपि तस्मिन् श्रीव्रजेश्वरीवश्यतैव श्रीशुकदेवेन वन्दिता, "एवं सन्दर्शिता ह्यङ्ग" (भा. १०.९.१९) इत्यादिना।

By this [i.e., when Bhagavān submits Himself in this way to the love of His devotees,] His supremacy is not diminished, because even at that time His supremacy manifests elsewhere [in relation with some others]. Furthermore, although Bhagavān is the supreme controller, His nature to be controlled by the will of His devotees is very praiseworthy. For example, even when He was bound with a rope by His mother, Yaśodā Devī, He liberated the Yamalārjuna trees. Although He possessed such majesty, Śrī Śukadeva also praised only the quality of His submission to the love of Mother Yaśodā:

My dear King, although Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa is fully independent, and although this entire universe along with its rulers are subject to His control, He demonstrated this nature of being controlled by His devotees. (SB 10.9.19)

तस्माद्ये चाद्यापि तदीयरागानुगापरास्तेषामपि श्रीव्रजेन्द्रनन्दनत्वादिमात्रधर्मैरुपासना युक्ता। यथा श्रीगोवर्धनोद्धरणलब्धविस्मयान् श्रीगोपान् प्रत्युक्तं स्वयं भगवतैव विष्णुपुराणे—

यदि वोऽस्ति मयि प्रीतिः श्लाघ्योऽहं भवतां यदि।
तदात्मबन्धुसदृशी बुद्धिर्वः क्रियतां मयि॥ (वि.पु. ५.१३.११) इति।

Therefore even those who are presently drawn to the path of rāgānugā directed toward Kṛṣṇa should worship Him exclusively in His feature as the son of the king of Vraja, Nanda Mahārāja. Śrī Kṛṣṇa said this Himself to the cowherd men who were struck with wonder by seeing Him lift Govardhana hill, as described in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa:

If you love Me and if you regard Me as worthy of your praise, you should think of Me as your most intimate friend and relative. (VP 5.13.11)

तदार्चा बन्धुसदृशी बान्धवाः क्रियतां मयि इति वा पाठः।

An alternate reading of the second line is also found: “O my friends, if you consider Me as such, you should worship Me as your kinsman.”

नाहं देवो न गन्धर्वो न यक्षो न च दानवः।
अहं वो बान्धवो जातो नातश्चिन्त्यमतोऽन्यथा॥ (वि.पु. ५.१३.१२) इति।

I am neither god nor Gandharva, not Yakṣa nor demon. I have been born as your kinsman, so from now on do not think of Me otherwise. (VP 5.13.12)

"युवां मां पुत्रभावेन ब्रह्मभावेन वासकृत्" (भा. १०.३.४५) इत्यत्र तु श्रीवसुदेवादीनामैश्वर्यज्ञानप्रधानत्वाद्द्व्यात्मिकैव भगवदनुमतिर्ज्ञेया। प्राग्जन्मन्यपि तयोस्तपआदिप्रधानैव भक्तिरुक्ता।

On the other hand, Kṛṣṇa offered this advice to Vasudeva and Devakī: “You should constantly think of Me either as your son or as Brahman” (SB 10.3.45). In this statement Bhagavān has permitted both conceptions of Him because knowledge of His majesty is predominant in devotees like Vasudeva. It is described that in Vasudeva and Devakī’s previous lives also, their devotion was predominated by austerity and similar reverential practices.

अतः श्रीव्रजेश्वर्याः पुनस्तन्मुखदृष्टवैभवत्वमश्लाघित्वा पुत्रस्नेहमयीं मायाद्येकपर्यायां तत्कृपामेव बहुमन्यमानस्तादृशभाग्यं च, श्रीवसुदेवादिकयोर्नास्तीति विस्पष्टयन् तस्याः श्रीव्रजेश्वरस्य च भाग्यं तादृशबाल्यलीलोच्छल्यमानपुत्रभावेन राजमानमतिश्लाघितवान् राजा—"नन्दः किमकरोद्ब्रह्मन्" (भा. १०.८.४६) इत्यादि द्वयेन।

Therefore, in two verses (SB 10.8.46-47), King Parīkṣit extolled the great fortune of Yaśodā and Nanda because they considered Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa as their son, inspired by His childhood pastimes. He did not praise Yaśodā’s mystical vision of the universal form within Kṛṣṇa’s mouth on two separate occasions. Rather, he honored Kṛṣṇa’s grace upon her, which is also called māyā, in the form of the intimacy of love she was able to share with Him as her son. In these verses, the king also made it clear that Vasudeva and Devakī did not have such fortune:

O brāhmaṇa, what meritorious deeds did Nanda perform so as to deserve such great fortune, and what did the highly blessed Yasodā do for Bhagavān Hari to drink from her breast? His parents, on the other hand, did not even get to see the charming infantile play of Kṛṣṇa, which cleanses the sins of the whole universe and which sages glorify even to this day. (SB 10.8.46-47)

श्रीमुनिराजश्च तादृशतत्प्रेमैव श्लाघितवान्—"एवं सन्दर्शिता ह्यङ्ग हरिणा" (भा. १०.९.१९) इत्यादिना।

Śrī Śukadeva, the best of munis, also glorified this pure love in the verse cited above:

My dear King, although Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa is fully independent, and although this entire universe along with its rulers are subject to His control, He demonstrated this nature of being controlled by His devotees. (SB 10.9.19)

तदेवं श्रीवसुदेवदेवक्यावुपलक्ष्य श्रीनारदोऽपि साधकान् प्रति "दर्शनालिङ्गनालापैः" (भा. ११.५.४३) इत्यादिना यदुपदिष्टवान्।

Śrī Nārada as well, using Śrī Vasudeva and Devakī as examples, instructed the sādhakas about the importance of worshiping Kṛṣṇa in pure love:

Cherishing parental love for Kṛṣṇa, you have both purified your souls by seeing Him, embracing Him and conversing with Him, as well as by sitting, sleeping and eating with Him. (SB 11.5.47)

तत्र टीका च—"यथा पुत्रोपलालनेनैव भागवतधर्मसर्वस्वनिष्पत्तेः॥" इत्येषा।

Śrīdhara Svāmī draws attention to the same instruction in his commentary on this verse: “Bhāgavata-dharma, or devotion, was fully executed by them merely by caring for their son.”

तथा, "मापत्यबुद्धिमकृथाः कृष्णे सर्वेश्वरेश्वरे" (भा. ११.५.४९) इति। एतदपि तदविरोधेन टीकायामेवमवतारितम्, यथा—"ननु, पुत्रस्नेहश्चेन् मोक्षहेतुस्तर्हि सर्वेऽपि मुच्येरन् ? तत्राह—मापत्यबुद्धिमिति॥" इत्येतत्।

And in regard to this verse:

Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Universal Soul, the Supreme Bhagavān, the imperishable, beyond everything. Yet, by appearing as a human being through His māyā potency, He has concealed His supreme majesty. Therefore, you should not consider Him as your son. (SB 11.5.49)

Śrīdhara Svāmī’s commentary on this verse shows that there is no contradiction between this statement and the previous one. He reasons as follows: “The question may be raised that if affection for one’s child is the cause of liberation, why doesn’t every parent attain liberation? The answer to this is given in this verse.”

तस्मिन्नपत्यत्वं प्राप्तेऽपि तस्मिंस्तादृशभावनावशं गतेऽप्यस्ति स्वाभाविकं पारमैश्वर्यमधिकमिति भावः।

The sense is that although Kṛṣṇa became the son of Vasudeva and Devakī and although He came under the influence of such feelings, His natural, supreme majesty was exhibited to a greater extent.

[Therefore parental feelings in general are not the cause of liberation—only parental feelings towards Bhagavān, who possesses such extraordinary power.]

यद्वा, पूर्ववन्नार्षोऽडागमः, किन्त्वकारो निषेधे, "अभावे नहि-अ-नो-न" इति शब्दकोषात्। ततो निषेधद्वयादपत्यबुद्धिमेव कुरु इत्यर्थः।

An alternative explanation to the verse is as follows. The augment “a” in akṛthāḥ cannot be used in conjunction with the negative particle mā, “do not.” Yet this is not permissible [as Śrīdhara Svāmī states] in the archaic language (ārṣa). The a prefixed to kṛthāḥ is rather being used in the sense of prohibition, as stated in Sanskrit dictionaries: “The particles nahi, a, no and na are used in the sense of negation.” The result is a double negation, which becomes an affirmation: “Consider Him to be your son.”

अत एव ज्ञानाज्ञानयोरनादरेण केवलरागानुगाया एवानुष्ठितिः प्रशस्ता, "ज्ञात्वाज्ञात्वाथ ये वै माम्" (भा. ११.११.३३) इत्यादिना।

Therefore, the best course is to disregard both knowledge and ignorance of Bhagavān’s supremacy and simply engage in pure rāgānugā devotion, as stated in this verse:

I consider them to be the best of all devotees who worship Me with pure devotion, whether or not they know the extent of My being, or who I really am, or of what My nature is constituted. (SB 11.11.33)

तस्मात् श्रीगोकुल एव रागात्मिकायाः शुद्धत्वात् तदनुगा भक्तिरेव मुख्यतमा इति साध्वेवोक्तम्। तदेवमन्यत्रासम्भवतया रागानुगामाहात्म्यदृष्ट्या पूर्णभगवत्तादृष्ट्या च श्रीकृष्णभजनस्य माहात्म्यं महदेव सिद्धम्। तत्रापि गोकुललीलात्मकस्य।

Thus, because rāgātmikā devotion exists in its pure form only in Gokula, it was rightly said that only the rāgānugā bhakti that follows Kr̥ṣṇa's rāgātmika associates in Gokula is supreme. So from the point of view of the greatness of rāgānugā, which is determined by the impossibility of rāgātmikā devotion existing outside of Gokula, and from the point of view that the complete opulence of Godhood is manifest only in Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it has been proven that the glory of worshiping Kṛṣṇa is greatest of all. This applies even more so to Kṛṣṇa in the midst of His Gokula līlā.

अथ तद्भजनमात्रस्य माहात्म्यमुपक्रमत एव यथा—

मुनयः साधु पृष्टोऽहं भवद्भिर्लोकमङ्गल।
यत् कृतः कृष्णसम्प्रश्नो येनात्मा सुप्रसीदति॥ (भा. १.२.५) इति।

The greatness of worshiping Śrī Kṛṣṇa was stated by Śrī Sūta Muni at the very beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam,:

O sages, the questions you have asked me, which are intended for the benefit of all, are glorious, because the questions put forth by you about Śrī Kṛṣṇa are a delight to one’s essential being . (SB 1.2.5)

तत्रैतद्वक्तव्यं—पूर्वं मनसः सुप्रसादहेतुः पृष्टः। अनेन तु श्रीकृष्णप्रश्नमात्रस्य तद्धेतुनोक्ता।

The intention of Śrī Sūta’s words is as follows: Earlier (SB 1.1.11) the sages, headed by Śaunaka, had asked what it is that brings delight to the mind, but here Sūta says that questions about Kṛṣṇa, in and of themselves, are the cause of such satisfaction.

न तु "स वै पुंसां परो धर्मः" (भा. १.२.६) इत्यादिना तदीयानन्तरप्रकरणे यथा महता प्रयत्नेन कर्मार्पणमारभ्य भक्तिनिष्ठापर्यन्त एव जाते, प्रादुर्भावान्तरभजनस्य तद्धेतुतोक्ता, तथेति।

He did not answer that satisfaction of the self is the end result of following any sort of process. That procedure is described in the next verse:

That is indeed the supreme duty of humanity which leads to causeless, unobstructed bhakti to Adhokṣaja [Kṛṣṇa], by which the self is fully satisfied. (SB 1.2.6)

In the section immediately following this, Sūta describes a progression that begins with offering one’s karma to Bhagavān through painstaking work and culminates in the development of fixity in devotion. After this, love of God manifests in the heart and the worship that one then performs becomes the cause of that satisfaction.

[Because Sūta has declared that the merely inquiring into Kṛṣṇa brings about such satisfaction to the essential self, the soul, a further implication is that the progression leading to satisfaction of the self applies only in the case of the worship of other avatāras of forms of Bhagavān but not in the case of Kṛṣṇa,.]

अत एवावतारान्तरकथाया अपि तदभिनिवेश एव फलमित्याह (भा. २.८.२-३) —

हरेरद्भुतवीर्यस्य कथा लोकसुमङ्गलाः॥
कथयस्व महाभाग यथाहमखिलात्मनि।
कृष्णे निवेश्य निःसङ्गं मनस्त्यक्ष्ये कलेवरम्॥ इति।

Therefore the descriptions of other avatāras also culminate in absorption in Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone, as indicated by King Parīkṣit:

The stories of Bhagavān Hari, who has inconceivable potencies, are auspicious for all people. O most blessed Śukadeva, please instruct me in such a way that I may give up this body while fixing my purified mind on Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Soul of everyone. (SB 2.8.2-3)

हरेस्तदवताररूपस्य। अखिलात्मनि सर्वांशिनि कृष्णे श्रीमदर्जुनसखे॥

In this verse the word hareḥ, “of Hari,” refers to the various avatāras who originate from Kṛṣṇa, and “the Soul of everyone” (akhilātmani) refers to Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, the friend of Arjuna , who is the original source of all avatāras.

[Thus Parīkṣit’s statement implies that hearing about other incarnations avatāras is absorption in Śrī Kṛṣṇa.]

॥२.८॥ राजा॥३२५॥

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji

In Anucchedas 310 to 324 Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has established rāgānugā bhakti as the supreme abhidheya and has depicted it as more efficacious than vaidhī bhakti. Now he gives more details about it.

Although in theory rāgānugā can be directed towards any manifestation of Bhagavān, it is primarily practiced in relation with Kṛṣṇa, and that too the Kṛṣṇa who resides in Gokula or Vṛndāvana. The reason for this is that other manifestations of Bhagavān are not complete and only appear in this world to fulfill some specific purpose. They thus have their limitations.

For example, although Bhagavān Rāma is human with two hands, He is a royal person dedicated to varṇāśrama principles. Thus it would not be possible for a sādhaka to relate with Him in a way that does not suit His demeanor because Rāma would not be able to reciprocate with the sādhaka. He is bound by social rules and customs. That is why Rāma is popularly called Maryādā Puruṣottama, "the Supreme Person who accepts limits."

Kṛṣṇa in Mathurā and Dvārakā also has some similar limitations. He is a royal person; He has to follow the regal protocol. But in Vṛndāvana He has no such restriction. He is a free person. He can accept everyone’s love. Thus He is called Pūrṇa Purusottama ("the complete Supreme Person") or Līlā Purusottama ("the Supreme Person at play").

He is the complete person who accepts all phases of life. He is the lover of the cowherd damsels and friend of the cowherds, yet He is also a killer of demons. He is the protector of dharma and yet He dances at night with the gopīs, runs away with their dresses while they bathe in Yamunā, and steals butter from the neighboring houses.

He is afraid of His mother Yaśodā and yet Brahmā prostrates in front of Him asking for His grace. He is Himself bound by ropes as a punishment for breaking a clay pot and yet He liberates Nala and Kūbara from their bondage in the form of arjuna trees.

The verse from Gītā (4.11) hints at this nature of Kṛṣṇa. He can reciprocate with the loving temperament of His devotees. This was seen when Kṛṣṇa entered the arena of Kaṁsa in Mathurā. Although Kṛṣṇa was only one, He was seen differently by different types of devotees. To some He appeared like a child and to others as a grown man. To some He appeared very tender in body and yet He simultaneously appeared as hard and impenetrable as a rock to others. To some He appeared very beautiful, but to others He had a very harsh aspect, like a big controller or even as death personified. He manifests Himself according to the perception of His devotees .

Although He is ātmārāma, satisfied with Himself, He feels hungry and thirsty. It is not that He makes a show of hunger and thirst, but He actually feels them. This way He gives His devotees the opportunity to serve Him. If He were only pretending and did not actually feel hungry, thirsty or tired, then the devotees would not get much pleasure from feeding Him or giving Him a massage. It is the love of the devotees that makes Him feel hungry, thirsty or tired or other such emotions. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa says that He accepts even a leaf, flower, fruit or water offered to Him with devotion.

Even when He acts like a human being without manifesting His divinity, His majesty is not lost. It only remains subdued because of the love of His devotees. But if there is any need for Him to manifest His divine power, it rises to the surfaces to fulfill His desire.

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī gives the example of Dāma-bandhana Līlā. Kṛṣṇa once broke a clay pot out of anger at His mother. Mother Yaśodā was upset and considered how to punish Him lest He grow up into a delinquent. She tied Him to a mortar with ropes around His belly. This is a purely human pastime. Kṛṣṇa was a small child and very helpless, full of fear of His mother. But even in that state He uprooted two huge arjuna trees while trying to pass through them with the heavy mortar dragging behind Him.

Despite this show of majestic power, Śukadeva and King Parīkṣit only praised His human-like behavior because it is more full of love than is to be found in such majesty. He Himself also relishes it more when His devotees treat Him like a human being and not like the almighty God. The love of His rāgātmika devotees is so supreme that it even makes Him forget that He is God. He does not want to be worshiped as God but loved. Thus He keeps His majesty covered even when He performs His human-like pastimes .

This also establishes the superiority of Nanda and Yaśodā over Devakī and Vasudeva. Nanda and Yaśodā did not consider Kṛṣṇa to be God. For them He was just their little child. It is because of their superior love that Kṛṣṇa moved from Mathurā to Gokula right after His birth.

Thus in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, from its very beginning, it is only rāgānugā bhakti to the Supreme Person at play, Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, that has been recommended.


Anonymous said…

गोवर्धन (Govardhana) → गो (gó) + व (va) + र (ra) + ध (dha) + न (na)


गो (gó):

व (va) see 2:

र (ra) see 3:

ध (dha) see 2:

न (na) see 3:

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