bhāva

The r-word

The title might be somewhat of a clickbait, but I used it for a reason.

A foundational concept in the Caitanya sampradāya is the method of rāgānugā bhakti. It is so foundational that the Caitanya-caritāmṛta says this:

vidhi-mārge nā pāiye vraje kṛṣṇa-candra

One cannot achieve Kṛṣṇa in Vraja by vaidhi-bhakti. [only by rāgānugā bhakti]

We have seen that the goal of Caitanya devotees is vraja-bhakti. The practice for that is *only* rāgānugā bhakti. It is not like there is a choice here for Caitanya bhaktas!

One would think that at least adherents of the Caitanya sampradāya would diligently practice this bhakti. Unfortunately, rāgānugā bhakti is so dreaded in some modern bhakti sects, that maybe we should only refer to it as the ‘r-word’ here; a word that is only brought up by immoral people in conversation. Sādhakas are warned to stay away from the r-word, and anyone who talks about it.

The stigma surrounding it and its rejection in modern bhakti sects seems to be a reaction to some questionable practices that may have crept in into some sub-sects. Bhaktas do not take the time to understand what it really means as enunciated by Sri Rupa Goswami, and how it was/should be actually practiced. What has replaced it is a hodge-podge of confusion, along with pious but passive-aggressive declarations of how one is not qualified for it [the concept propagated is that no moral and humble bhakta would ever feel qualified for it].

In upcoming articles, I will examine Sri Rupa Goswami’s definition of rāgānugā bhakti. I assure the reader – rāgānugā bhakti is not immoral. It is the Caitanya sampradāya’s raison dêtre. Some practices in some sub-sects may be immoral, but those are not relevant for us. I will examine this in upcoming articles.

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