Does one have to practice raganuga bhakti to go BTG or is just departing in devotional circumstances enough
Transcribed by: Geetanjali Nath
Question: Many times in the devotees talk or in their books about departed vaishnavas, it is said that when they went back to God head, but it is also said in more technical books that they are…………… raganuga bhakti, only then we can go back to Krishna loka. , and there is technical analysis of various teachers and only when we come to a particular stage , only then we will attain Krishna’s abode. So how do I understand whether some devotees who have practiced basis process of Krishna consciousness, whether they have gone back to Godhead or not ?
Answer: There is the technical categorization that is meant to facilitate our intellectual conviction about the path .Now ultimately bhakti is a a matter of the heart, matter of the relationship with Krishna, and how that relationship is developed varies from person to person , in general this is the universal limitation of any kind of taxonomy, taxonomy is the system of classification, so taxonomy is good for conceptual understanding, but for practical mapping down in the world, for example , you may say this is India and this is Pakistan, but is it that all over the world wherever there are boundries in the countries it is like that , there is fence on the earth to say that , this is India and this is Pakistan ?? no it doesn’t always happen like that. So translating taxonomy into the real world is always a challenge and the taxonomy that is there in bhakti , say for example after this stage comes, that stage and that stage, etc, now there is a a broad progression that happens, along that trajectory, but to try to individually evaluate who is at that stage, and what stage one will go back to Godhead, that is , we should not over weight technicality over bhakti, so for example, there may be devotees who are very dedicated to Krishna, fully committed according to their level of practice, and they have the desire to go back to Krishna, so in general Krishna reciprocates with our desires, ………..) 8;6 Krishna says, what ever is our bhava that our disposition will determine our destination. So if our desire to serve Krishna is at the very least , stronger than our all other desires, then Krishna will not send us to a place where our strongest desire cannot be fulfilled, so that is the broad principle of reciprocation. and now specific technicality that will vary not only depending on the individual to do the ritual , but will also depend on the specific cluster of factors that are there. that means that we may be connected with one spiritual master but we may have served many devotees and mercy can come from any sources. it is not that mercy has to come only from the spiritual master, yyesya prasada na gati yatopi but that “yesya” is not one person, yesys represents the good……..and mercy can come from various sources, So in general our focus should be on the cultivating the right disposition of the heart, so we have got thtrough our acharayas through Shrila Prabhupada, through our spiritual master the process of practicing bhakti yogs, and if you keep practicing faithfully, eventually Krishna will take care of us. So we have to understand that by Krishna’s arrangement, that Prabhupada has spread Krishna consciousness and Prabhupada has clearly assures that if we practice the principles as he has given us, we will advance, and we will even go back to Krishna. So now specific technicality, as I said, are important , but ultimately beyond the technicality is the principle of bhkti. Principle of bhakti itself is beyond technicality, all the technicality can be incorporated in it, but ultimately bhakti is prima force of bhakti is mercy and mercy is beyond technicality. So therefore if we focus on that principle of cultivating bhakti according to our situation , according to our capacity, then Krishna will reciprocate and Krishna will reward. So general understanding is that we don’t necessarily have to practice raganuga bhakti in form . We can practice raganuga bhakti in principle. In form means doing a specific activity raganuga bhakti which is talked about in the Bhakti rasamrita sindhu, but in principle means, that we understand that we are all , the essential principle of raganuga bhakti is to follow ragatmika. For ISKCON devotees Prabhupada is an exalted vaishnava acharya , who is like our equivalent to ragatmika, so by following him, we are not in form practicing raganuga bhakti, but in principle we are adopting the principle of raganuga bhakti, and by that we will be delivered. Now if individually certain devotees are inspired to also practice raganuga bhakti in form, then by consulting the spiritual guides , and their spiritual master or their representative, one can do that. but that is something which is so internal that it cannot be institutionalized, and we should not make it a issue that because somebody is not doing this , one will not get elevated, at the same time we cannot just say that one should not do this also. because ultimately that is the legacy of our tradition. and if we don’t keep the legacy alive , who will keep it alive ? so certainly some devotees are inspired to practice bhakti in that way, they should be given the room for practice, but that should not be mandatory , and we should not make the idea that that is what is required, because the ultimately the principle of bhakti and mercy are …………….in terms of elevating us and taking us back to Krishna.