rupanuga bhajan

With this blog, I would like to focus on the importance of Srila Rupa Goswami for the bhajan of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

He truly plays a key role in our bhajan life.

In our external body, we follow him and in our spiritual body (the siddha deha), we follow his eternal identity in Vraja-lila, Sri Rupa Manjari.

Gaudiya Vaishnavas are not only raganuga bhaktas, but RUPANUGA-bhaktas, following with a dedicated heart Srila Rupa Goswami and Sri Rupa Manjari.

My beloved Gurudeva writes:

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda is the crown jewel of Vaiṣṇavas.

In order to fulfill some special desires in Vraja-līlā, the Original Personality of Godhead Śrī Vrajendra nandana, Who is the abode of matchless beauty and sweetness, has become Gaura, accepting Śrī Rādhā’s feelings and complexion. He had two desires on His mind — one for Himself and one for the world. His own desire is primary and His desire for the world is secondary or auxiliary. Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya has told Śrīman Mahāprabhu — nija gūḍha kārya tomāra prema āsvādana; ānusaṅge premodoy koile tribhuvana

“Your own secret agenda is to relish Your own love, and as a concomitant factor You filled the three worlds with prema.”

kaichana rādhā premā kaichana (mora) madhurimā, kaichana bhāve tiho bhora  -“How is Rādhā’s love for Me? How is My sweetness, and how is She absorbed in this?”

Accepting Rādhā’s feelings, Śrī Caitanya Deva fulfilled these three desires in so many ways. While relishing this mental desire after the sweetness of Rādhā’s love Himself, He had it established and preached to the world by His own dear associate Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda, in whom the desire had arisen to make the people of the world also relish it in the form of a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā.      Continue reading


Recently I was told that we are all not qualified for raganuga bhakti. And instead of going into arguments I remembered Gurudeva.

I said: “You are right. We are not qualified for anything. But you know, it is the mercy of Sri Gurudeva and only that, which MAKES us qualified. And because Gurudeva is the dearest friend of the fallen, our disqualification will attract his mercy more and thus we will become qualified.”

Raganuga bhakti is very very little, if at all, about qualification, but EVERYTHING about MERCY.


pusti-margataya kaiscid iyam raganugocyate

|| BRS 1.2.309 ||

“The mercy of Krsna and His devotees is the only cause of attaining raganuga-bhakti. Some call this type of devotion pusti-marga.”

And another raganuga blunder…

Another complete misunderstanding:

Some devotees claim that raganuga-sadhana-bhakti starts at the stage Srila Rupa Goswami called and described as NISTHA.
They base their “claim” on their understanding of the following verse from Srila Rupa Goswamipada’s Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu:

tatra adhikārī— rāgātmikāika-niṣṭhā ye vraja-vāsi-janādayaḥ | 
teṣāṁ bhāvāptaye lubdho bhaved atrādhikāravān 

Translation by HH Bhanu Swami [ISKCON]:

The qualification for rāgānuga-bhakti is as follows:

That person who is greedy for attaining a bhāva similar to that of the inhabitants of Vraja—who are fixed solely in rāgātmika-bhakti—is qualified for rāgānuga-bhakti.  

Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s Commentary

Having described the characteristics of rāgātmika-bhakti of the siddha-bhaktas, the author now describes the characteristics of rāgānuga-bhakti of the sādhakas. He who is greedy to attain a bhāva similar to that of the people of Vraja—who are fixed in rāgātmika-bhakti [rāgātmikāika-niṣṭhā ] — is qualified for rāgānuga-bhakti.    

Quite honestly, I find THEIR translation of this verse quite wrong and misleading:

Qualification for raganuga sadhana bhakti:
That person who is greedy for attaining a bhava similar to that of inhabitants of vraja – who is at nishtha in ragatmika bhakti – is qualified for raganuga bhakti.

Where does either acarya write that raganuga-sadhana-bhakti starts at the STAGE “nistha”? Actually, this verse describes a very important impetus in raganuga bhakti: greed for attaining a bhava similar to the ragatmika devotees [who are fixed in their bhava].
And again, the biggest blunder:

“who is at nishtha in ragatmika bhakti”

So, the sadhaka, who is “at nistha in RAGATMIKA bhakti, is qualified for raganuga bhakti”…really?
First of all, RAGATMIKA refers to the nitya siddhas in Vraja, like Sri Rupa Manjari, Sri Ananga Manjari, Mother Yashoda, etc…and RAGANUGA refers to those WHO FOLLOW the RAGATMIKAS…
So, it is not US who are “at nistha in ragatmika bhakti”.

Yes, here in this verse, we can find the word “nistha”. But it doesn’t refer to the stage of NISTHA the SADHAKA must pass through.
It refers to the RAGATMIKA DEVOTEES, our eternal role models, like for example Sri Rupa Manjari. It means THEIR fixation, not the sadhaka’s. Here, it just means “fixation, eternal steadiness” in regards to the bhava of the ragatmika devotees. “Nistha” here is the adjective to the noun “ragatmika”.

It certainly does not mean that raganuga-sadhana-bhakti starts at the stage “nistha”.

Let Srila Vishvanatha Cakravartipad set things straight:

Now it will be described how the raganugiya bhakta gradually advances through the stages of anartha nivritti (cessation of bad habits), nishtha (fixation), ruci (taste), and asakti (attachment to the beloved deity) upto the stage of prema (love of God) and the direct attainment of his beloved deity. 
(Raga Vartma Chandrika)

Clearly, raganuga-sadhana-bhakti starts at BHAJANA KRIYA and then the sadhaka “advances through the stages of…….”.

It starts when Sri Gurudeva engages the sadhaka in raganuga-sadhana-bhakti and the only cause for the sadhaka being able to start it is the mercy of Krishna and His devotees.

pusti-margataya kaiscid iyam raganugocyate
|| BRS 1.2.309 ||

“The mercy of Krsna and His devotees is the only cause of attaining raganuga-bhakti. Some call this type of devotion pusti-marga.”

And by the way, the sadhaka develops this sacred greed by hearing from the lips of rasika sadhus describing the bhavas of the above mentioned ragatmikas as Srila Rupa Goswamipad will explain in later verses.

Let us see what our acaryas say about RAGATMIKA:

virājantīm abhivyaktāṁ vraja-vāsī janādiṣu |
rāgātmikām anusṛtā yā sā rāgānugocyate ||
[BRS 1.2.270]

Rāgānuga-bhakti is defined as that bhakti which follows after the rāgāmika-bhakti found distinctively in the inhabitants of Vraja.

Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s Commentary

That is called rāgānuga-bhakti which follows after the rāgātmika-bhakti which manifests (virājantīm) distinctively (abhivyaktām) in the inhabitants of Vraja.

rāgātmikāyā dvaividhyād dvidhā rāgānugā ca sā |
kāmānugā ca sambandhānugā ceti nigadyate ||
[BRS 1.2.290]

From these two types of rāgātmika-bhakti (siddha-bhakti), two types of rāgānuga-bhakti (sādhana-bhakti), called kāmānuga and sambandhānuga-bhakti, are derived.

Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s Commentary

Having described the qualities of rāgātmika-bhakti as a secondary topic, the qualities of rāgānuga-sādhana, the topic of this section, are now described.


Ragatmika bhakti => siddha [perfect] bhakti
Raganuga bhakti => sadhana [practice] bhakti.

Special Guru Bhakti


“I feel that I do something wrong. I have more love and bhakti for my Gurudeva than I have for the Divine Couple…Can you help me?”


Congratulations. You can be very happy, because bhakti to Sri Gurudeva is everything and everything will come from it.
Gurudeva is not the ultimate goal, but without him and his mercy, nothing will ever happen and all realizations will come from the fixation on the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva (your siddha deha, his siddha deha, Radha Mohan, your seva, etc….)

My Gurudeva writes about this special guru bhakti:

In Bhakti Sandarbha Śrīmat Jīva Gosvāmīpāda has written — tatra yadyapi śaraṇāpattyaiva sarvaṁ siddhyati……tathāpi vaiśiṣṭhya lipsuḥ śaktaścet tataḥ bhagavacchastropadeṣṭṛṇāṁ vā śrī guru-caraṇānāṁ nityam eva viśeṣataḥ sevāṁ kuryāt –

“Although the sādhaka achieves all perfection by surrendering to the Lord’s lotus feet, still if a person wants to attain special perfection, then he must always specially serve the Guru who instructs him in the scriptures as well as the Guru who initiates into the Lord’s mantras.”

Śrīla Gosvāmīpāda uses the word viśeṣataḥ (specially) in the phrase viśeṣataḥ sevāṁ kuryāt to hint at special service to the Guru. Special service means also an ordinary service. After taking initiation, the sādhaka always engages in the worship of Śrī Hari by hearing, chanting, worshipping the deities and praising the Lord. This also includes the formal worship and praises, etc. of Śrī Guru. Therefore, wherever the chief items of bhajana are hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, the worship and praise of Śrī Guru is incorporated as a secondary item. This is then called ordinary service to the Guru.

By worshipping the Guru as an item of His worship of the Supreme Lord the sādhaka attains the fruits of love of God. It is a rule in the kingdom of sādhana that worship of the Lord will be successful when it is endowed with earnest Guru-bhakti. Then again, if a person is exclusively surrendered to Guru-bhakti and fixed in Guru-sevā, and keeps the worship and service of Śrī Guru as the main item, while practising hearing and chanting about the Lord as a auxiliary item of his bhajana, it is called special Guru-sevā. Then the service of the Guru is the priority, or the aṅgī, and the hearing and chanting of the Supreme Lord is secondary or the aṅga.

This kind of sādhaka, who is especially fixed in his service to the Guru, is called vaiśiṣṭya lipsu by Śrīmat Jīva Gosvāmīpāda. The Lord showers such a sādhaka, who is exclusively fixed in the service of his Guru, with even more mercy (than a person who worships Him personally).

In Śrī Padma Purāṇa, in the Śrī Devahūti-stava, it is seen —

bhaktir yathā harau me’sti tad variṣṭhā gurau yadi mamāsti tena satyena sandarśayatu me hariḥ

“If I have more devotion for the Guru than for Śrī Hari Himself, then through this truth Lord Hari will surely reveal Himself to me.”

When Śrī Guru is pleased, Śrī Hari is naturally pleased.

In Śrī Vāmana Kalpa it is seen —

yo mantraḥ sa guruḥ sākṣāt yo guruḥ sa hari svayam gurur yasya bhavet tuṣṭas tasya tuṣṭo hariḥ svayam

“The mantra is non different from the Guru and the Guru is non different from Śrī Hari. When the Guru is pleased with someone, Śrī Hari will automatically be pleased with that person also.”