Question: What are the qualifications for someone to do this līlā-smaraṇam?
Answer: The qualification for smaraṇam is that one should be free from the identification with the body and the senses. If one identifies with these things and does līlā-smaraṇam, then he will enjoy them materially, because he is not free from the ego of enjoyership.
If you are following the path of yoga, then you have to practice yama, niyama etc., so that you become free from the bodily concept. Otherwise, when you sit down to meditate, your permanent temperament, which is bound to be material, will become excited. The līlās of Bhagavān will become like a catalyst to excite your material temperament. If you are not free from identification with the body, then you will just enjoy kṛṣṇa-līlā materially. This has nothing to do with līlā-smaraṇam.
Kīrtana does not require this qualification. Therefore, all can do kīrtana. However, smaraṇam needs some qualification, including being free from the material identification with this material body. That is why there are various steps to follow. The first step is to take shelter of the guru, do service, and then your anarthas will go away and you will attain the permanent mood (sthāyī-bhāva), or bhāva of devotion. Then only, it is possible to do smaraṇam.
Question: Is the practice of līlā-smaraṇam in manjarī-bhāva siddhantic or concocted?
Answer: Manjarī-bhāva meditation is part of līlā-smaraṇam. It is one of the nine types of devotion, being part of smaraṇam, but it is for qualified people, and it cannot be given to anybody and everybody. It is for those at least have śraddhā as described in the śāstra. This means transcendental śraddhā, not material śraddhā in the guṇas. This process of līlā-smaraṇam is taught to a person who is free from material motives. It is not given for the purpose of business.
It is a bhāva, consciousness, and not anything physical. The spiritual body comes later, first it is a bhāva. Therefore it is called manjarī-bhāva. It is not called manjarī body, but bhāva. And consciousness is not something you can preach – rather it has to be learned first.
Previously there were people who were qualified and they studied, understood, and practiced it. Now people have no idea. Some one comes from the West and has absolutely no idea, and you tell him, “Your svarūpa is like a young girl of fourteen years, and you have to meditate on that!” So what is he going to meditate upon? He can only meditate on what he knows, which is a young girl meeting a young boy. What is he going to think of? Whatever he has experienced in this or in the past life, which is nothing but sex. What does this have to do with bhakti?
Theoretically such meditation exists, but the way it is practiced now is not the way it was practiced in the past. The reason is that unqualified people are misusing it. They have made a business of it. Originally it was not given by the Goswamis for the sake of making money or attracting followers. But now that has become the purpose. The modern gurus print it on a piece of paper and give it to the disciple at the time of initiation. That was not done before. The svarūpa is something which is revealed when a person becomes qualified.
There is a temple here of one bābā. Once, one of his disciples came to me and said, “I went to my guru and he explained to me that I am a 12-year old manjarī, and he described my appearance in my eternal svarūpa.” So he asked me what this all means, because his guru did not explain anything to him about the process. What is the use of such revelation? It has been made very cheap these days.
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu itself, Rupa Goswami says that you do service with your physical body and also with your bhāva-deha:
sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi tad-bhāva-lipsunā kāryā vraja-lokānusārataḥ
A person desiring to get the bhāva of rāgānuga-bhakti should execute bhakti both with his physical body and with his perfected body, following in the footsteps of the residents of Vraja (BRS 1.2.295)
That kind of meditation exists, but there is a qualification for it.