Śrī Jīva Goswami defines rāgānugā bhakti

I have examined the definition of rāgānugā bhakti by Śrī Rūpa Goswami in a previous article. Here I examine Śrī Jīva Goswami’s definition of rāgānugā bhakti as presented in the Bhakti Sandarbha, Anuchheda 310.1. As usual, Śrī Jīva is precise in defining terms, and understanding his definition fully can help one stay clear of misunderstandings and misinterpretations surrounding rāgānugā bhakti.

First, here is the definition:

tatas tadīyaṁ rāgaṁ rucy-anu gacchantī sā rāgānugā tasyaiva pravartate

The word rāgānugā is a combination between the words rāga and anugā. Śrī Jīva Goswami explains the definition as:

rāgaṁ = rāga

tadīyaṁ = belonging to [a rāgātmikā bhakta]

anugā = anu+gā = anu+gacchantī = following

rucyā = impelled by taste (ruci)

sā rāgānugā = that rāgānugā

pravartate = proceeds as

tasya eva = of that devotee

Now this might all seem confusing, but putting it together, we get:

Thereafter (tatas),

that very devotee’s (tasyaiva) bhakti proceeds (pravartate) as rāgānugā bhakti (sā rāgānugā);

[this rāgānugā bhakti] is a follower of (anugā = anu gacchantī) of the rāga belonging to (tadīyam) [a rāgātmikā bhakta],

[and is] impelled by taste (ruci).

So line 3 above contains the heart of the definition. The bhakti is qualified further by the word ‘rucyā’, that is, this bhakti is impelled by taste.

Now the definition above obviously follows a preceding discussion of the topic. That discussion primarily has to do with a definition of the term ‘rāga’, which I did not translate above, and the term rāgātmikā bhakta. I will present relevant parts of Śrī Jīva’s presentation below, so that we have a complete definition.

First, I examine his explanation of the term rāga. Interestingly, in defining rāga, he first invokes materialists:

tatra viṣayiṇaḥ svābhāviko viṣaya-saṁsargecchātiśaya-mayaḥ premā rāgaḥ,

The natural (svābhāvika) infatuation (premā) that a person attached to sensual enjoyment ( viṣayī ) has for sense objects, which consists of an ardent desire (icchātiśaya) to contact those objects (viṣaya-saṁsarga), is called rāga.

He gives an example:

yathā cakṣur-ādīnāṁ saundaryādau

The eyes, for example, are naturally drawn to beauty.

Now he defines the term rāga in the term rāgānugā or rāgātmikā:

tādṛśa evātra bhaktasya śrī-bhagavaty api rāga ity ucyate

Correspondingly, that [svābhāvika premā] which a devotee feels for Bhagavān [consisting of an ardent desire to attain Him] is also called rāga

Here, rāga refers to natural love, prema, of a bhakta for Bhagavān. He will explain that this rāga is present in siddhas, and not sādhakas (below). The senses of the siddhas are naturally drawn to Bhagavān- there is no need for any conscious effort. In contrast, rāgānugā bhakti is sādhana-bhakti, which is consciously practiced, as we will see below.

First, the definition of rāgātmikā bhakti:

tad evaṁ tat-tad-abhimāna-lakṣaṇa-bhāva-viśeṣaṇena svābhāvika-rāgasya vaiśiṣṭye sati tat-tad-rāga-prayuktā śravaṇa-kīrtana-smaraṇa-pāda-sevana-vandanātma-nivedana-prāyā bhaktis teṣāṁ rāgātmikā bhaktir ity ucyate |

This natural (svābhāvika) rāga thus contains distinctions (vaiśiṣṭya), since the different associates of Śrī Kṛṣṇa each have a specific loving mood (bhāva – viśeṣa) toward Him that is defined by their respective self – identity (abhimāna) [whether as a beloved, a parent, a friend, or a servant]. The bhakti that inheres in these associates, which is impelled by their respective feelings of rāga and which consists primarily of hearing, singing, remembering, serving Bhagavān’s feet, bowing before Bhagavān, and surrendering the self to Him, is called rāgātmikā – bhakti.

Note that this bhakti is impelled by rāga, which was defined above as svābhāvika premā. Now he explains that this bhakti is not present in the sādhakas.

tasyāś ca sādhyāyāṁ rāga-lakṣaṇāyāṁ bhakti-gaṅgāyāṁ taraṅga-rūpatvāt sādhyatvam eveti, na tu sādhana-prakaraṇe’smin praveśaḥ |

As enacted by them, these various expressions of bhakti belong exclusively to the perfected state (sādhyatvam), because they arise like waves out of the Gaṅgā River of bhakti , which is characterized as rāga in its priorly perfected condition (sādhya). As such, bhakti of this category does not come under the present context of discussion, which is bhakti in the stage of practice ( sādhana ).

atha rāgānugā

Therefore, we will now discuss the practice of bhakti that emulates this rāga ( rāgānugā – bhakti ).

So we see that rāgātmikā bhakti belongs to the siddhas. And, rāga, is present exclusively in the siddhas, not in the sādhakas. As he writes, he next discusses rāgānugā – bhakti, which definition I examined above.

I will now conclude with another crucially important point- that rāgānugā – bhakti is impelled by ruci, taste. This taste, ruci, is not to be confused with rāga:

yasya pūrvokte rāga-viśeṣe rucir eva jātāsti, na tu rāga-viśeṣa eva svayaṁ, tasya tādṛśa-rāga-sudhākara-karābhāsa-samullasita-hṛdaya-sphaṭika-maṇeḥ śāstrādi-śrutāsu tādṛśyā rāgātmikāyā bhakteḥ paripāṭīṣv api rucir jāyate |

When a simple taste ( rucir eva ) has appeared in a devotee for a specific rāga among those previously mentioned, yet prior to the appearance of that particular rāga itself, then the devotee, whose crystal – like heart shines with the reflected rays of the moon of that rāga , develops a taste also for the methods of that type of rāgātmikā – bhakti , about which he has heard from scripture or from his teacher.

The ruci, taste, is also Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti, and not available except from a siddha-bhakta, who is the guru, by the guru’s grace. After this, Śrī Jīva gives his definition, which I discussed above.


> Rāgānugā bhakti is a follower of (anugā = anu gacchantī) of the rāga belonging to (tadīyam) [a rāgātmikā bhakta], impelled by taste (ruci).

> Rāgānugā bhakti is sadhana-bhakti.

>The bhakti that inheres in Bhagavān’s associates, which is impelled by their respective feelings of rāga, is called rāgātmikā – bhakti.

>Rāgātmikā – bhakti is the bhakti of siddhas.

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