Last week I participated in a seminar on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Madhurya Kadambini and another book by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur called Ragavartma-chandrika. In this seminar, the speaker seemed to be stressing raganuga-bhakti over vaidhi bhakti. Although most elements are the same, he said the destination is different. That is, the path of vaidhi gives one love of Krsna mixed with awe and reverence, and takes you to Aisvarya-goloka in the spiritual world where you serve Krsna with knowledge that He is the Supreme Lord, and therefore it’s less intimate. He explained that the process of raganuga bhakti involves externally following all the rules and regulations of sadhana-bhakti, but internally meditating on serving Krsna in Vrindavana in one’s spiritual form (siddha-deha) which is basically whichever form you choose according to your own inclination. You choose an eternal associate of Krsna and try to serve Krsna in a similar way in meditation. And by this practice of meditation, when you quit your body you are awarded that same form and service in the spiritual world in Goloka Vrindavan. Although in ISKCON, no one really talks publicly about this process, Srila Prabhupada did describe it directly in Nectar of Instruction (text 8) and Nectar of Devotion. I would just like to know what you think about it. Is it something that you would recommend to your disciples at some stage? Or is it better to just focus on preaching and have faith that by putting all our energy into trying to spread Krsna consciousness, we are definitely going to achieve the highest destination, according to our hearts’ desire?
My blessings. Jaya Prabhupada! I think I know what the speaker means, but his words can easily be misconstrued. Clearly, if a person follows rules and never comes to the point of spontaneous devotion, then the destination may be different.
But Prabhupada stressed that if we simply follow him and serve his mission, we will in fact develop spontaneous devotion. For example, you and your family are all serving with real devotion, you are not simply following rules. Therefore you are already on the raga platform. It’s not necessary to adopt some special process that Prabhupada never instituted.
People in India can be very rule-conscious and so such statements from Visvanatha and others are meant to counteract ritual “Hindu” Vaishnavism. But from the beginning, Prabhupada inspired spontaneous enthusiasm in his followers. And he said so many times that we are all going back to Krishna in Goloka, not to some “Aisvarya-goloka” that he never described.
As they say, one should not try to be more Catholic than the pope.