Vaidhi Bhakti & Raganuga Bhakti – Two Types of Devotional Practices!
In THIS ANOTHER POST, we have read that the devotional service (bhakti) is of three categories:
(i) Devotional service in practice,
(ii) Devotional service in ecstasy and
(iii) Devotional service in pure love of Godhead.
Let us now see the two types of Sadhana-bhakti in detail as explained by Sri Rupa Gosvami, Srila Prabhupada and then by me:
Out of these three types of devotion, sadhana-bhakti, or devotional service in practice, may also be divided into two parts:
(i) Vaidhi Bhakti and (ii) Raganuga Bhakti.
In other words, Vaidhi Bhakti & Raganuga Bhakti means Regulative and Spontaneous.
Definitions of Vaidhi Bhakti & Raganuga Bhakti:
Vaidhi Bhakti means, service according to regulative principles. Raganuga refers to the point at which, by following the regulative principles, one becomes a little more attached to Krsna and executes devotional service out of natural love.
For example, a person engaged in devotional service may be ordered to rise early in the morning and offer arati, which is a form of Deity worship. In the beginning, by the order of his spiritual master, one rises early in the morning and offers arati, but then he develops real attachment.
When he gets this attachment, he automatically tries to decorate the Deity and prepare different kinds of dresses and thinks of different plans to execute his devotional service nicely. Although it is within the category of practice, this offering of loving service is spontaneous.
(WHY FOLLOWING DEVOTION NEGLECTING PARENTS IS WRONG? – CASE STUDIES! READ HERE!)
Rupa Gosvami defines the first part of devotional practice, or vaidhi-bhakti, as follows:
“When there is no attachment or no spontaneous loving service to the Lord, and one is engaged in the service of the Lord simply out of obedience to the order of the spiritual master or in pursuance of the scriptures, such obligatory service is called vaidhi-bhakti.”
These principles of vaidhi-bhakti are also described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Second Canto, First Chapter, verse 5, where Sukadeva Gosvami instructs the dying Maharaja Pariksit as to his course of action. Maharaja Pariksit met Sukadeva Gosvami just a week before his death, and the King was perplexed as to what should be done before he was to pass on. Many other sages also arrived there, but no one could give him the proper direction.
Sukadeva Gosvami, however, gave this direction to him as follows: “My dear King, if you want to be fearless in meeting your death next week (for actually everyone is afraid at the point of death), then you must immediately begin the process of hearing and chanting and remembering God.”
If one can chant and hear Hare Krsna and always remember Lord Krsna, then he is sure to become fearless of death, which may come at any moment.”
(FOLLOWING MULTIPLE CONCEPTS IN DEVOTION – DEMERITS! READ HERE!)
Let me elaborate further:
CAN VAIDHI BHAKTI LEAD TO RAGANUGA BHAKTI?
Vaidhi bhakti or Vidhi bhakti involves sadhanas like chanting that we are doing now.
There are two contrary opinions about this matter. Some say – No. Some say – Yes.
The voters of NO say that the the Vaidhi bhakti originates admiring the power of Lord whereas the the Raganuga bhakti originates enjoying the sweetness of Krishna.
The refutation given by the voters of YES is that Vaidhi bhakti can be TRANSFORMED into the Raganuga bhakti.
(I fear for fall down from devotion and waste of life. What to do? READ HERE!)
Though the Vaidhi bhakti has more admiration of the powers of Lord, it can be later transformed to the stage of enjoying the sweetness of Lord when the devotee continuously develops purity and ruchi to the lilas of Krishna.
What is my vote? I vote for YES because I believe in Krishna’s mercy who makes anything possible if the devotee aims.
In the devotion to Krishna, we can attain any stage if we have determination and willingness. Krishna is ready to take us even to His kingdom. Then, why can’t He help us to attain the stage of Raganuga devotees?
No devotee can be a pure devotee in the initial stage. Only because he has faith in Krishna, he follows the devotional practices like chanting. So, Krishna will have no objection if that devotee later purifies himself and come to the stage of Raganuga bhakti.
Nothing is prohibited to anyone in the devotion to Krishna. Anything can be achieved by anyone.
If we desire to advance in the devotion to Krishna, He is ready to elevate us to any stage. How can He prevent our efforts towards the perfection in devotion? He would never like to do so.
(SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF PURE DEVOTIONAL SERVICE! READ HERE!)
It is possible to attain the stage of Raganuga bhakti through Vaidhi bhakti.
It requires your serious willingness to attain that stage.
Yes. It is possible IF we follow the Vaidhi Bhaki with dedication and love to Krishna. But, Vaidhi bhakti is not a precondition to attain Raganuga bhakti. That means, raganuga bhakti can exist even without following the vaidhi bhakti. There is a process for that.
Bakthi can be identified in many forms. These are a few:
(i) Vaidhi bhakti or Sadhana bhakti
(ii) Ragatmika bhakti
(iii) Raganuga bhakti
Ragatmika bhakti means the spontaneous development of attachment to Krishna. The people of Vrindavana are the best example. They never followed any rules. The attachment to Krishna was spontaneous without any force or practice.
Raganuga bhakti means developing a spontaneous love and attachment with Krishna as followed by the people of Vrindavana.
Blind following of Vaidhi bhakti alone does not take one towards Raganuga bhakti.
Ragatmika bhakti comes naturally if the devotee is free from material contaminations. This is the only condition.
When Ragatmika bhakti of the people of Vrindavana is taken as an example to follow, our devotion becomes Raganuga bhakti.
(In Kaliyuga, How to follow Nishkam bhakti without asking help from Krishna? READ HERE!)
Raganuga bhakti is possible only if we come out of anarthas like material desires, lust, etc. Otherwise, there may be some devotion, but, it will not be the spontaneous devotion.
If one attains the stage of Raganuga bhakti, he can not think of any other thing except Krishna. That is why, the people of Vrindavana were always thinking of Krishna SPONTANEOUSLY.
Who taught them love towards Krishna?
No one did it. And, no one can teach bhaktii. Bhakti itself should be spontaneous.
We will follow the devotional rules that are also called Devotional services, since they are done to please Krishna without expectation for our benefits.
There are some devotees who say that Vaidhi bhakti is not required to attain prema or Raganuga bhakti.
(ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE, BHAKTI RASA & KRISHNA PREMA – PROCESS! READ HERE!)
It is true because rules are not the conditions to attain Raganuga bhakti. It is spontaneous.
However, following the devotional rules, ie, Vaidhi bhakti can be taken to the stage of Raganuga bhakti.
During the initial stages of Vidhi bhakti, we may not have a taste in devotion. It may appear like a mechanical process.
However, when we sincerely follow the vaidhi bhakti, with the mercy of Krishna, we will be getting purified stage by stage from material contaminations.
With the decline of material contaminations (attachments), we will develop emotions towards Krishna and then advance further in developing love to Krishna that further leads to the stage of Raganuga bhakti.
(How to love Krishna? READ HERE!)
If we are attached to materials, we can not love Krishna, because we are loving the materials also.
When we skip the attachments to materials, our only focus will be Krishna. So, we can develop love to Krishna.
When we develop emotions (this stage is called BHAWA BHAKTI) and love (this stage is called PREMA BHAKTI) towards Krishna, it will further go towards a stage of perfection in our devotion and we will always be in the thoughts of Krishna spontaneously.
At this stage, the devotional rules will not be required. Since we will always be in the spontaneous thoughts of Krishna, there will be no need for rules like chanting, going to the temples, etc.
So, Raganuga bhakti can not be attained through Vaidhi bhakti unless we develop love while following Vaidhi bhakti.
Just a mechanical following of devotional rules will not bring love towards Krishna. The purification stage will take long period.
(15 RULES FOR OFFERING OBEISANCES INSIDE THE TEMPLES! READ HERE!)
So, if we follow the Vaidhi bhakti with sincerity and love, the purification will be faster.
Once we are purified, we develop uncontaminated love towards Krishna.
When this love becomes spontaneous, we forget all the rules. We are attached towards Krishna naturally that leads to Raganuga bhakti.
Sri Caitanya Caritamruta Madhya Lila (23.14–15) says about the stages of the transformation of Vidhi bhakti or sadhana bhakti into Raganuga Bhakti:
“In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krishna consciousness.”
(How to take Diksha (Initiation) and become a disciple of a guru (spiritual master) in ISKCON? READ HERE!)
Now, we have developed the love to Krishna. When we practice to follow this love spontaneously like the people of Vrindavana, we go to the stage of Raganuga bhakti.
So, in bakthi. We can not fix any specific rules. bhakti is beyond the rules. If there are rules, they are meant to purify the devotees and to take them to the next stage of love to Krishna.
The devotional rules like chanting, worshiping, etc, are just to get purified from our contamination. Once we get rid of these contaminations, love to Krishna begins.
When this love is made spontaneous, we get raganuga bhakti that can not be contained in a description or a rule.
In a capsule form: Raganuga bhakti can be reached by gradually advancing and purifying through Vaidhi bhakti. But, Vidhi bhakti is not the pre condition to attain the stage of raganuga bhakti.
Vaidhi bhakti helps in our purification without which we can not develop love to Krishna. After purification, Vaidhi Bakthi lead one towards Raganuga bhakti.
(NINE STAGES OF BHAKTI YOGA (ADVANCEMENT IN DEVOTION) EXPLAINED! READ HERE!)