Comparison between vaidhī and rāgānugā bhakti

In vaidhī bhakti, we have seen that the adhikāra is śāstriya śraddhā.

Śrī Rūpa Goswami explains that in rāgānugā bhakti, the intense desire to get the bhāva like the rāgātmikā bhaktas is the adhikāra. This desire comes from hearing Kṛṣṇa kathā relating to the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees in Vraja, from a rāgānugā bhakta. The difference between vaidhī and rāgānugā is in the cause for taking it up. In vaidhī, it is because of śāstric injunctions, while in rāgānugā, it is because of an attraction for this type of bhakti.

The sixty four limbs of bhakti described for vaidhī bhaktas are also applicable for rāgānugā bhaktas. That means guru-pādāśrayas tasmāt kṛṣṇa-dīkṣādi-śikṣaṇam is not optional! Indeed, the guru is the bhakta the disciple is a follower of (anuga) in rāgānugā bhakti. This bhakti should not be performed without the guru’s guidance and permission.

Further, there is the misunderstanding that rāgānugā bhaktas do not follow śāstra. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The rāgānugā bhakta assiduously studies śāstra in order to understand how to do bhakti. Three aspects of rāgānugā bhakti sādhanā are emphasized: 1) always living in Vraja, 2) remembering Kṛṣṇa and His devotees and 3) engaging in speaking or hearing Kṛṣṇa kathā.

In one of his lectures, Śrī Babaji explains how the difference between a vaidhī bhakta and a rāgānugā bhakti can be understood by analogy. A nurse assigned to take care of a baby will get trained on how to do it by studying. Her actions are driven by the desire to take proper care of babies under her care, and not out of love for them. A mother on the other hand may also study books on child care and perform similar actions as the nurse, but her motivation is obviously very different.

Another important point Śrī Jīva makes is that the following of śāstric injunctions for vaidhī bhaktas is no longer necessary once the sādhya of bhakti, bhāva, is achieved. Once bhāva is achieved, the vaidhī bhakta will automatically do what he or she has practiced because it has become ingrained. However, for rāgānugā bhaktas, there is no point where they stop following rāgātmikā bhaktas, that is, this does not stop even after achieving bhāva.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti adds in his commentary that the final destination of vaidhī bhakta and a rāgānugā bhakta is different. Those who are pure vaidhī bhaktas attain Dwaraka, those who perform a mixture of vaidhī and rāgānugā attain Mathura, while those who perform pure rāgānugā bhakti attain Vṛndāvana.

Categories: concepts, sādhanā

4 replies »

  1. Nice article prabhu.

    Could you just also consider explaining if someone on Viadhi bhakti path can move on to practice ragatmika bhakti under the guidance of a bonafide Guru. If yes, how does one get the necessary adhikar given that the final destination for both Vaidhi and ragatmika bhaktas are mutually exclusive

  2. sadhana done by raganuga bhakta and a vaidhi bhakta is different or same? For eg can a raganuga bhakta do deity worship and other things according to panchratras.

    • Sadhana is mostly same. The adhikara is different. Some parts of vaidhi sadhana are not included in raganuga- like doing mudras during deity worship. Hear Babaji’s lectures on BRS for more

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