Run and Follow

Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains how harmony is found between vidhi-mārg and rāga-mārg.

Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu instructed Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī about rāgānugā-bhakti and vaidhī-bhakti. Then, after collecting the essence of the Purāṇas, Vedas, Vedānta, Upaniṣads, and other scriptures, Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī recorded the process of vaidhī-bhakti. Mahāprabhu told Sanātan Goswāmī, “When you start to write, Kṛṣṇa will help you.” This help came for the general class of devotees, and with that Sanātan Goswāmī composed Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa. Prabhupād Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur respected vaidhī-bhakti, and because of that he published Sat-kriyā-sāra-dīpaka, which describes important parts of our practising life and gives instructions to perform particular functions.

Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s main preaching is in His instructions to Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Sanātan, which we find in Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, chapters 17–24. Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave complete instructions to Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Sanātan. Also, the substance and summation of what Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave is in His conversation with Śrī Rāmānanda Rāy. That is rāgānugā-bhakti and its glorification. To support this, Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave us two books: Śrī Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta and Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā. There, everything is exposed; you will see practising life and the practitioner’s target—everything—there in sum. Mahāprabhu Himself said to Rāmānanda Rāy, “Everything that you and I have discussed is in these books that I collected in South India. You will see it there.” Mahāprabhu then handed these books over to Rāmānanda Rāy, Svarūp Dāmodar, and the other devotees at that time.

We saw that our Śrīla Guru Mahārāj followed vaidhī-bhakti as was possible in an honourable way, but sometimes when he saw that something was essential, he would change the procedure and explain his feelings to us.

In the scriptures, there are so many procedures within vaidhī-bhakti. When there are complications in the laws for vaidhī-bhakti, Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī said that we should follow the dates observed by Lord Jagannāth.

kintv īdṛg bhakti-sandarśi-jagannāthānusārataḥ
dolā-chandana-kīlāla-ratha-yātrāś cha kārayet
(Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa: 13.327)

When we cannot settle the proper time and date for a festival, we should follow the date observed by Jagannāth. This means we will observe services to the Lord such as Ratha Yātrā and Chandan Yātrā on the day these services are being offered to Jagannāth. We are following this rule by the grace of Śrīla Guru Mahārāj, but sometimes some difficulty comes on Govardhan Pūjā. So many discussions took place about this, and finally Śrīla Guru Mahārāj ordered us, “We will start cooking during the period of Pratipad, and we will complete our worship (offer the bhoga) before the end of Pratipad. This means we can start cooking after Pratipad starts, and we will complete out worship before Pratipad ends. If we do this, then there is no possibility of breaking the scriptural rules.” In this way, we honour vidhi-mārg.

In the Age of Kali, people cannot properly follow vidhi-mārg, but some rules and regulations must still be followed. These have been given by Prabhupād Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur: anyone who practises Kṛṣṇa consciousness must follow five directives: dyūtam, pānam, striyaḥ, sūnā, and jāta-rūpa. They must be cautious about jāta-rūpa, money. They should not try to earn so much and not try to spend so much. As possible and as required, without so much intention, they should use money. Everyone in our society knows they should not involve themselves in the other four directives: dyūtam, gambling; pānam, drinking; striyaḥ, illegal sex; and sūnā, killing jīvas, like goats, fish, and other animals. Everyone who follows these four directives must follow them within the line of Kṛṣṇa consciousness: they must be humble, they must be tolerant, and they must give honour to others. These are the fundamental directives.

In this way, Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Sanātan preached Kṛṣṇa consciousness in line of rāgānugā-bhakti, but they also established vaidhī-bhakti. When we follow this, we should not be utśṛṅkhal: irregular, random, whimsical. We will run, and we will follow. Śrīla Guru Mahārāj gave the example of an elevator lift and a staircase. Vaidhī-bhakti is like going up to someplace on a staircase, and rāgānugā-bhakti is like going there on an elevator. In rāgānugā-bhakti is the power of the heart, and there the soul must be surrendered to Lord Kṛṣṇa and must follow the instructions that come from Guru and Vaiṣṇava. That style is the best for practising rāgānugā-bhakti. Trying otherwise to follow randomly or whimsically will not be appropriate and fruitful for practitioners.

We are following rāgānugā-mārg as given Śrīman Mahāprabhu, but we are not crossing over vaidhī-bhakti. I feel this instruction to be very glorious in my heart, and by the order of Śrīla Guru Mahārāj I engraved this as a law:

mātala hari-jana kīrtane-raṅge
pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge

[“Intoxicated with the joy of saṅkīrtan, souls surrendered to the Lord worship the path of love in the posture of reverence.”] 

When the Bag Bazaar Gauḍīya Maṭh was established, Prabhupād Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur composed some verses to sing in glorification of the devotees and Deities. Previously, Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭh was at #1 Ulta Danga, and when the devotees were chanting and dancing in a big precession as they brought the Deities from Ulta Danga to Bag Bazaar, Prabhupād composed this song:

mātala sādhu-jana viṣaya-raṅge
pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge

Later, I changed the text a little after asking Guru Mahārāj, and he accepted that very happily:

mātala hari-jana kīrtane-raṅge
pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge

I think Prabhupād Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur is also very happy with this change.

We engraved this verse on the main entrance of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh. We are followers of rāga-mārg, no doubt, and in rāga-mārg, there are four kinds of activity and relationship between with Lord and His servitors: dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, and madhura. We are following that, but we are not breaking the rules of vaidhī-bhakti, especially those mentioned in the conversation between Parīkṣit Mahārāj and Kali that are required to be followed in the Age of Kali:

dyūtaṁ pānaṁ striyaḥ sūnā yatrādharmaś chatur-vidhaḥ
punaś cha yāchamānāya jāta-rūpam adāt prabhuḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.17.38–9)

We must be very careful about these five things as we proceed in the line of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We must follow the four directives and follow the directive about money: we are to work, earn, and spend as is necessary and required to serve the Lord.

yvat syt svanirvha svkuryt tvad artha-vit
dhikye nynatyāñ cha chyavate paramrthata
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.2.108)

[“The sensible accept as much as is necessary for their maintenance. By accepting more or less, one fails to attain the highest goal.”] 

Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu gave this advice for our progress in life. Our devotees are following this as is possible for them, but if they can carefully try to proceed in the line of rāga-mārg in an even more exclusive way, that is best.


Spoken 27 Novemeber 2006

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