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Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura And Raganuga Bhakti - Editorial by Tripurari Swami



student - Thu, 13 Jan 2005 19:27:38 +0530
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura And Raganuga Bhakti

BY SWAMI B.V. TRIPURARI


EDITORIAL, Dec 27 (VNN) "Bhaktisiddhanta did not emphasize lila smaranam for those who had not attained nistha, based on the reasoning that dhyana (meditation) requires a pure heart, whereas kirtanam (chanting) does not. He reasoned, as has Sri Sanatana Goswami in Brhad-bhagavatamrta, that smaranam (remembering) arises naturally out of kirtanam."

Q. Some devotees are saying that gosthyanandi saints (preachers) cannot teach raganuga-bhakti and that only those who do solitary bhajana (bhajananandis) can attain the service of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in Goloka? Is this true?

A. Some devotees emphasize kirtanam (chanting) and others emphasize smaranam (remembering), while all devotees do both. Gosthyanandi saints who travel and preach in sankirtana are as much saints as those who engage in solitary bhajana. Gosthyanandis teach about raganuga-bhakti and guide their followers on this path. Without them who would know about raga bhakti?

Q. I understand that when one takes shelter of a bona fide guru in raganuga-bhakti that the guru eventually reveals the siddha pranali, or what I understand to be one's spiritual identity as a maidservant (manjari) of Sri Radha. What if the disciple's spiritual position is not a manjari? Is it possible that the disciple's eternal position is in Vaikuntha with Visnu instead of Goloka with Krsna?

A. Most devotees who take initiation in the Gaudiya sampradaya are destined to love Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana as either maidservants of Radha (manjaris) or cowherd friends of Krsna (gopas). This is what the sampradaya is really all about. Nityananda Prabhu's influence gave rise to a number of sakhya (gopa) lineages in Bengal, and later his consort Jahnava formed a manjari lineage, as did others. In the past there have been instances where a guru encourages his disciple to pursue one bhava only to find that as the disciple advances he is attracted to another bhava, as in the case of Duhkhi Krsna dasa who later became Syamananda. At such times the guru makes an appropriate adjustment.

Similarly, if due to the broad preaching campaign of some of Mahaprabhu's followers some souls destined for Vaikuntha join his movement, they will not be hampered in attaining their ideal, and a bona fide guru will guide such disciples accordingly. Anupama, the brother of Sri Rupa and Sanatana, was an example of a Vaikuntha bhakta who was a devotee of Mahaprabhu. His ista devata was Sri Ramacandra.

The term siddha pranali does not refer to manjari bhava. It refers to a lineage of siddhas, spiritually perfected gurus, and, in particular, to their siddha status in the lila. In some Gaudiya lineages, disciples are given a spiritual form to meditate on and identify with through sadhana and are taught the spiritual identity of all the initiating gurus in their lineage. Not all Gaudiya lineages do this, nor is it necessary to have received this information to attain the Gaudiya ideal of Vraja bhakti. Along with the grace of Sri Guru, the holy name of Krsna and the Gopala mantra/Kama gayatri have the power to grant this ideal. Sri Jiva Goswami says as much in Bhakti-sandarbha when he defines diksa: divyam jnanam hy atra srimati mantre bhagavat-svarupa-jnanam, tena bhagavata sambandha-visesa-jnanam ca, "Divine knowledge (diksa) means knowledge of the true nature of God and one's own special relationship with him imparted through sacred mantra." (Bhakti-sandarbha, anuccheda 283). This approach is followed by the lineage of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura.

He emphasized this approach in opposition to misrepresentation of the name of siddha pranali, involving gurus who were neither siddhas nor sincere. One's siddha deha is not something manufactured in the mind of a conditioned soul, nor is it something to dangle before disciples of the lineage of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati to say, "You cannot attain Vraja bhakti without coming to our lineage."

Q. What is the teaching of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati on raganuga-bhakti and siddha pranali?

A. The position of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati is that ajata ruci (without taste) raganuga sadhakas (practitioners) should adopt the methods of raganuga sadhana that they are qualified to adopt in proportion to their development of sacred greed (lobhamayi sraddha), while following the angas (limbs) of vaidhi bhakti (regulated devotion).

This follows Sri Jiva Goswami's Bhakti-sandarbha 311, ajata-tadrsa-rucina tu sad-visesa adaramatradrta raganugapi vaidhi-samvalitaivanus heya/ tatha loka-sangrahartam pratis hitena jata-tadrsa-rucina ca/ atra misratve ca tyatha-yogyam raganugayaikikrtyaiva vaidhi kartavya.

"One in whom this taste (ruci) has not arisen but who has come to appreciate raganuga-bhakti only on account of appreciation for a particular saint or scripture (sat), may still practice raganuga-bhakti but with an admixture of vaidhi-bhakti. In the same way, for the sake of preaching (loka-sangrahartaham) one who is advanced and in whom taste has manifested should also practice raganuga with an admixture of vaidhi. Such mixing of the two kinds of bhakti means that one practices vaidhi-bhakti by uniting it with whatever raganuga practices one is capable of."

In the opinion of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, such mixing of the two kinds of bhakti means that one embrace the angas of vaidhi-bhakti with a view to attain greater eligibility for raganuga-bhakti and its sadhya (goal) by uniting them with whatever raganuga practices one is eligible for (yatah-yogyam). In his opinion this did not include an emphasis on meditating on the pastimes of Radha-Krsna from the vantage point of one's siddha deha for those who had not attained the stage of nistha, based on the reasoning that dhyana (meditation) requires a pure heart, whereas kirtanam (chanting) does not. He reasoned, as has Sri Sanatana Goswami in Brhad-bhagavatamrta, that smaranam (remembering) arises naturally out of kirtanam. Thus he emphasized nama smaranam for beginners, stressing inoffensive chanting that would lead naturally to meditation on Krsna's form (rupa samaranam), qualities (guna smaranam), and pastimes (lila smaranam). Of course he also emphasized mantra dhyana of Gopala mantra, kama gayatri, etc., and these mantras were given to sadhakas only after they had attained a degree of steadiness in nama smaranam (japa).

In some ways his position was a reaction to what he perceived as a sleight of hand in the name of giving--or in some cases making a business out of--a type of siddha deha. In this initiation one's svarupa (spiritual identity) is thought to be revealed by the guru to the disciple for the purpose of aiding him in lila smaranam. Bhaktisiddhanta's opinion was that while sadhakas were aspiring for Vraja bhakti they should do kirtanam, and as kirtanam qualified them, they should combine it with smaranam. Furthermore, he maintained that through kirtanam one's svarupa would be glimpsed in the higher devotional stages of ruci and asakti, at which time effective and meaningful lila smaranam from the vantage point of one's svarupa could take place, thus propelling the sadhaka into bhava-bhakti. As one's svarupa arises though sadhana and the mercy of great souls, the guru helps the disciple to cultivate its realization.

The system (siddha pranali) that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura criticized, one traced to an eternal associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu (Gopala-guru Goswami), is still current, but it should be made clear that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura criticized what he considered a distortion of this system.

Today there is debate on this topic among various Gaudiya lineages as to which lineages are appropriately following this system. I have met members of the Gadadhara parivara that do not accept the system as it is applied by the current Radha Kunda lineage, and I have heard from reliable sources that members of the Syamananda parivara also differ from both of these lineages in their approach. Members of Gaudiya Matha differ from all three of these.

However, I doubt that there are many devotees from any of these lineages that have taken the time to seriously investigate each other's approach, and most base their opinions on things that they have heard from third parties. While in some cases they have heard from their superiors, they often base their present position regarding the practices of other lineages upon things that superiors in their own lineages experienced decades ago.

My position as a current representative of the Gaudiya Saraswata sampradaya is that we should not criticize unless we know something is amiss by first-hand experience. Furthermore, we should judge any approach to raganuga-bhakti by the results it brings. If someone attains bhava by any particular approach, no one can argue with that.

(edited to keep the prominent points prominent -- Jagat)
akincanakrishnadas - Thu, 13 Jan 2005 21:49:26 +0530
Will anyone comment on this last Tripurari Maharaja post? I thought it was quite fair.
Subal - Thu, 13 Jan 2005 21:58:00 +0530
QUOTE
However, I doubt that there are many devotees from any of these lineages that have taken the time to seriously investigate each other's approach, and most base their opinions on things that they have heard from third parties. While in some cases they have heard from their superiors, they often base their present position regarding the practices of other lineages upon things that superiors in their own lineages experienced decades ago.

My position as a current representative of the Gaudiya Saraswata sampradaya is that we should not criticize unless we know something is amiss by first-hand experience. Furthermore, we should judge any approach to raganuga-bhakti by the results it brings. If someone attains bhava by any particular approach, no one can argue with that.

If this is true, then why
QUOTE
True. But what I had in mind was not suggestive facial expressions, etc., but anger and downright condemnation.
?
Jagat - Thu, 13 Jan 2005 22:01:26 +0530
What Tripurari Maharaj says in public now is more important than what he said five years ago in a group of cronies.
Dhyana - Thu, 13 Jan 2005 22:28:57 +0530
QUOTE
What Tripurari Maharaj says in public now is more important than what he said five years ago in a group of cronies.

It is more important to us, who are the "public". If I were a cronie, I would consider the condemnation expressed by my guru in private to be more important than what he may say to the guests.

jijaji - Fri, 14 Jan 2005 00:04:12 +0530
I have to agree that what people say behind closed doors to 'long time friends' is to be taken seriously, especially if that person is in the status of 'Guru'. Usually we show who we are and how we really think to 'Long Time Friends' whereas we can easily be fake in public..

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Madhava - Fri, 14 Jan 2005 00:38:44 +0530
QUOTE(Swami)
He emphasized this approach in opposition to misrepresentation of the name of siddha pranali, involving gurus who were neither siddhas nor sincere. One's siddha deha is not something manufactured in the mind of a conditioned soul, nor is it something to dangle before disciples of the lineage of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati to say, "You cannot attain Vraja bhakti without coming to our lineage."

Without commenting on whether the guru should be a siddha or not, I would like to respectfully point out that siddha in siddha-pranali does not refer to siddha-guru, but rather to the siddha-deha of the guru, ie. the manjari-svarupa. The conclusion of "gurus must be siddha" does not arise from the mere usage of the term "siddha-pranali".

It is peculiar that objections to "siddha-deha being manufactured" as a matter of imagination are primarily heard from among followers of Bhaktivinoda. When presented with the idea found in Harinama-cintamani (15), that the details of guru-given siddha-deha could be adjusted as necessary, my Baba did not agree, insisting that it is a matter of revelation, something directly given by samasti-guru through the medium of the vyasti-guru, and subsequently not open to modifications. The theory presented by Bhaktivinoda seems to place less stress on the divine insight of the guru, his ability to bring forth revelation, rather leaving the matter as something that can be eventually "ironed out" even if it didn't come out just right the first time around.


QUOTE
In this initiation one's svarupa (spiritual identity) is thought to be revealed by the guru to the disciple for the purpose of aiding him in lila smaranam.

While often referred to as a kind of initiation, the giving of "siddha-pranali" falls in the realm of bhajana-siksha. kRSNa-dIkSAdi-zikSAnam | There are little ceremonies involved, unlike in the case of mantra-dIkSA. It is essentially a delineation of certain very dear parshadas of Radha-Krishna with whom you'll be spending your eternity, and such descriptions we hear just as we hear descriptions of Rupa-manjari, Radha and Krishna, of their deeds, qualities and so forth. kRSNaM smaraJ janaJcAsya preStham nija-samIhitam | Let us remember Krishna and the dear associates of his in accordance with our specific preference. Our preference is with our gurudeva in the form of guru-manjari and the predecessors in the line of spiritual inspiration. tat-tat katha-rataz cAsau | And let us be attached to narrations concerning them! With regards to the guru's ability to reveal such matters, we say - vizrambheNa guroH sevA - serve the guru with the deepest of faiths, for he is very powerful.

* * *

All in all, I'll second Akinchan in that the presentation was fair.
Gaurasundara - Fri, 14 Jan 2005 07:37:12 +0530
QUOTE(Madhava @ Jan 13 2005, 08:08 PM)
When presented with the idea found in Harinama-cintamani (15), that the details of guru-given siddha-deha could be adjusted as necessary, my Baba did not agree, insisting that it is a matter of revelation, something directly given by samasti-guru through the medium of the vyasti-guru, and subsequently not open to modifications. The theory presented by Bhaktivinoda seems to place less stress on the divine insight of the guru, his ability to bring forth revelation, rather leaving the matter as something that can be eventually "ironed out" even if it didn't come out just right the first time round.

It is interesting how Sri Ananta dasji differs from Bhaktivinoda when they are both pukka raganugiyas. I like how Sri Ananta dasji insists is was revelation, but then how do we square this with what another guru said, namely Jagat's guru Sri Lalita Prasad Thakura?

As far as I recall, LPT preferred it more when the sadhaka came to him with an idea what he wanted, rather than have LPT work out an identity for him? If LPT is working in the line of Bhaktivinoda (being his son as well as dIkSa disciple), how do we square this with what Sri Ananta dasji says? How is it that two lines of gurus in the same Nityananda-parivara have different ideas regarding the revelation/choice dichotomy of siddha-dehas?
braja - Fri, 14 Jan 2005 19:39:11 +0530
QUOTE(student @ Jan 13 2005, 08:57 AM)
"One in whom this taste (ruci) has not arisen but who has come to appreciate raganuga-bhakti only on account of appreciation for a particular saint or scripture (sat), may still practice raganuga-bhakti but with an admixture of vaidhi-bhakti... Such mixing of the two kinds of bhakti means that one practices vaidhi-bhakti by uniting it with whatever raganuga practices one is capable of."

In the opinion of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, such mixing of the two kinds of bhakti means that one embrace the angas of vaidhi-bhakti with a view to attain greater eligibility for raganuga-bhakti and its sadhya (goal) by uniting them with whatever raganuga practices one is eligible for (yatah-yogyam).


I find this twist here quite interesting. Jiva Goswami suggests "an admixture of vaidhi" but this becomes vaidhi with the goal of obtaining qualification for raganuga + any practices one is "eligible" for. They are two quite different formulas. It seems the only admixture here is the mixing of the opinions of BSST and Jiva Goswami in this manner.

What are some examples or quotes where BSST unites raganuga practices or suggests that doing so is OK for the eligible? (I've only ever seen statements in the negative--that people are unqualified.)

Did BSST actually comment on this statement of Jiva Goswami? I haven't come across a comprehensive challenge to raganuga bhakti that cited the Goswamis extensively and directly.


When I try to take an objective view I can't help but be amazed at the remarkable complexity and challenges for the followers of Sri Chaitanya: Krsna comes and sports with the gopis....Hmm, moral problem here and maybe some will become sexually agitated thinking of this. Mahaprabu comes in Radha-bhava with the intent of teaching raga-marga....Hmm, more of the same but at least he sang and danced and defeated some mayavadis. The Gowamis and Kavirajas allocate most of their writings to repeating all of the above, often elucidating in great detail on some of the more radical aspects. Hmm.

And then individually, collectively, institutionally, a juxtaposition is made: the rich textual and mythical tradition is held up next to daily reality and history. Fascinating stuff.
angrezi - Fri, 14 Jan 2005 22:10:51 +0530
Tripurari Swami writes:
QUOTE
A. The position of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati is that ajata ruci (without taste) raganuga sadhakas (practitioners) should adopt the methods of raganuga sadhana that they are qualified to adopt in proportion to their development of sacred greed (lobhamayi sraddha), while following the angas (limbs) of vaidhi bhakti (regulated devotion).


One thing that has struck me before about the BSS system which is summarized here, is that what a disciple/sadhaka is "qualified to adopt" is more or less a subjective experience for the sadhaka (unless we were to open the whole guru as God debate, which is not my intention).

What is the greater danger or impediment: giving siddha-pranali to someone who is sincere but maybe not completely fixed, or not giving it (for the sake of consistency with the former) to those who are genuinely greedy for it when it would benefit their bhajan? I currently have no stake in either school of thought (although I do have an opinion), this just seems to be one point the issue can be boiled down to.
Madhava - Sat, 15 Jan 2005 00:22:43 +0530
I suspect there may be a world of difference between the written commentaries of Bhaktisiddhanta and the practical applications he introduced in the matter of raganuga-sadhana. If you read, for example, the sections present in the GGM edition of purva-vibhaga of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, taken from his Anubhasya on CC, you won't find much, if any at all, departure from the earlier tikakaras in the relevant sections.
suryaz - Sat, 15 Jan 2005 08:55:34 +0530
[quote=student,Jan 13 2005, 01:57 PM]
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura And Raganuga Bhakti

BY SWAMI B.V. TRIPURARI


EDITORIAL, Dec 27 (VNN) In some ways his position was a reaction to what he perceived as a sleight of hand in the name of giving--or in some cases making a business out of--a type of siddha deha. In this initiation one's svarupa (spiritual identity) is thought to be revealed by the guru to the disciple for the purpose of aiding him in lila smaranam.
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Humm I understood raganuga is an imitation of raga-bhakti [ragatmika-bhakti] and the siddha-deha is an imagined persona until the bhakti svarupa is selfrealised.

it appears that Tripurari does not make this distinction.
jijaji - Sat, 15 Jan 2005 09:10:52 +0530
No he doen't make a lot of sense period..

now don't shoot me..

'I'm only the piano player'

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