Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Raganuga-sadhana-bhakti

definitely whether these are two separate practices of worship, as sometimes inferred, or two components of one practice. In the same chapter Gopala Guru Gosvami, the spiritual master, recommends to Vijaya, the disciple, to follow both the methods. First he asks him to understand the bhavas illustrated in Sri Vilapa Kusumanjali, written by Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, which is the internal path. He then recommends the paddhati of Sriman Dhyanachandra, which he calls “the distinguished treasure of our line”. On that basis, that both paths have been recommended to one person, it appears that the internal and external paths are two components of the process of worship in raga-marga rather than two separate paths.

6 The closest historical reference to initiation into ekadasa-bhava is found in Prema Vilasa, a biography of Sri Caitanya, written by Nityananda dasa, a disciple of Jahnava, in the early 17th century. It is described there that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami instructed Srinivasa Acarya on some aspects of ekadasabhava, such as one’s name, mood of service, and group. This text is not, however, widely accepted within the greater Gaudiya community. In fact, there are even accusations that some sections have been interpolated to promote certain doctrines.

7 According to Sri Jiva Gosvami there are five progressive stages of remembrance (Sri Bhaktisandarbha Anuccheda 278). He sets a high prerequisite of purity for smarana in general. Obviously, however, the beginning stages of remembrance such as smarana (general remembrance) and dharana (concentration) have much less rigid prerequisites of purity then dhyana (meditation), dhruvanusmriti (intense meditation) and samadhi (trance).

8 Unless otherwise noted, quotations of Sri Bhakti-sandarbha are from: Dr. Satyanarayana Dasa and Bruce Martin, trans. Sri Bhakti Sandarbha, 3 vols. (Vrndavana: JIVA institute, 2005).

9 The practices listed here are in the order of their discussion in Sri Bhakti-sandarbha. In other words, one’s devotional practice is a prerequisite for the next practice, indicating that there is a step-bystep process (sadhana-krama) to attain the level of smarana practice.

10 Some prominent contemporary members of the Gaudiya tradition outside of the line of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta suggest that one needs extraordinary contemplative and intellectual prowess to memorize and carry out the elaborate visualization techniques of such meditations above. Such qualifications are considered above and beyond one’s spiritual realization. Therefore, they claim that such meditation practices cannot be compulsory on the path of raga, citing evidence that complete accomplishment in raga-marga can be achieved by nama-sankirtana alone. Some suggest that this is indicated by Srila Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, when he claims one can achieve perfection by ekanga-bhakti (the focus on one particular practice of devotional service). For example, Manindranatha Guha, a prominent Gaudiya practitioner and scholar of the late 20th century, argues extensively for single-form bhakti focused on nama-kirtana in his book, Nectar of the Holy Name. It is noteworthy that his book includes testimonials to the authenticity of his scholarship from arguably three of the most prominent sadhakas of raganuga-bhakti in the last 50 years, Sri Kanupriya Gosvami (his diksa guru), Tin Kudi Gosvami and Sri Priyacarana Dasa Baba.

11 Although mental purity is not an absolute prerequisite to attain raganuga-bhakti, it helps one to concentrate on the Lord’s pastimes in a way to become properly inspired by them.

12 This verse is quoted in Anuccheda 3.10 of the Sri Bhakti-sandarbha to show the results of genuine lobha.

13 I have heard at times that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta did give ekadasa-bhava, but I have not yet found it reasonably substantiated. I wrote to Bhakti Vikasa Swami who has done extensive research on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in preparation for a new book about him. I directly asked him if there was any strong evidence that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati gave ekadasa-bhava. He replied, “there is no strong evidence, but apparently he may have done, clandestinely”. In other words, even if Srila Bhaktisiddhanta did give ekadasa-bhava, it would be difficult to verify. It is a very intimate revelation that in likelihood he would not make public for the sake of the tenor of his mission.

14 I am not aware of any book named Stava-Kusmanjali. Raghunatha dasa wrote Vilapa-Kusmanjali and Sri Rupa wrote Stava-mala.

15 The Gaudiya (1934) indicates that he spoke something of ashta-kaliya-lila-smarana on the Vrajamandala parikrama in that year.

16 Sri Gaudiya-Giti-Guccha (Gaudiya Vedanta Publications, p.205).