Understanding the relationship between vidhi-marga and raga-marga.

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj


After the disappearance of Srila Guru Maharaj difficulty must come, and we are facing that now. But when Guru Maharaj was present, it was not even necessary for us to maintain vidhi-marga. Now, it is necessary sometimes.

Question: We are raganuga-bhaktas, and yourself and Guru Maharaj say we should stay away from too much vaidhi-bhakti. But in the beginning it is necessary, yes? I always understood that by practising sadhana-bhakti, vidhi, one comes to the spontaneous or raga platform. But I’ve heard here that our line is raga-marga from the beginning.

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, from the beginning. There are two margas [paths]: one is raga, and the other is vidhi. But there is also some vidhi in raga-marga. I cannot say to my father, “You are my brother-in-law.” My father is my father, and I shall give honour to my father as my father, not as my brother-in-law. That is one type of vidhi. Vidhi-marga and raga-marga are different, no doubt, but first it is necessary to know what raga-marga is: in raga-marga there is great hankering to do service. The raga-marga bhakta tries to maintain vidhi-marga, but sometimes through their hankering to serve Krishna they overtake the vidhi. Do you understand? Raga-marga does not mean that the devotee always wants to break the vidhi. The raga-marga devotee also tries to maintain vidhi-marga.

There is only one route going to Vaikuntha, and that is the mood of service. Through service, we can go to Vaikunthaloka, and beyond that to Goloka, where there is only service, and nothing else, to Krishna.

When great hankering comes to the devotee of raga-marga, they cannot wait to purchase a ticket to Kolkata. If they have seen the train waiting on the platform and they know that if they go to purchase a ticket the train will go, then they will not purchase a ticket; they will immediately go to the train. There must be an inspector, and he can check and give them a fine, but that is not a problem for them: they needs to go to Kolkata at nine o’clock. This type of hankering is called raga-marga. Sometimes they break the rules, and sometimes they suffer for that also, but they do not care about that. A reaction may come, but they do not care. And sometimes a reaction will not come: Krishna may willingly release them from all their difficulties. The ticket collector may not come to that compartment. But if he comes, then they are not fearful. They need to go. This is their position.

When we break the vidhi, then we must suffer something for that, but if we have hankering, we will not care for that suffering, “Yes, I must suffer no doubt.” The gopis gave their foot dust to Krishna. They know to whom they are giving it, and they know the result. What is the result? It may be ananta narak, unending hell. Krishna is God, so if we give our feet dust to Him, that is not proper vidhi, and it must be harmful for us. But the Vraja-gopis do not care about that. They are thinking, “If Krishna will get this dust, He will be okay. That is enough for us.”

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ
krīyatāṁ yadi kuto ‘pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate

[“Purchase ecstatic devotion to Krishna wherever it is available! The only price is hankering. It is not attainable by acting piously (practising vidhi-bhakti) for ten million lifetimes.”]

This is the raga-marga of Vraja, and that type of hankering does not come easily. If you see that type of mentality in anyone, you must co-operate with them and take from them for your future benefit.

These are examples for vidhi- and raga-marga. Vidhi is always running in its own way, and raga is always overtaking it out of hankering for service. It is necessary that the devotee is fully satisfied with their service, otherwise they will suffer; if that hankering has not fully conquered their heart, then they must suffer if they overtake vidhi.

If we have not cleaned our mouth or body or anything, our lover may still embrace us at that time. That may be his wish, but I must be shy about that. I must clean myself and try to give some happiness to my lover, but if my lover does not care for that, then what shall I do? He can take me nasty or clean; that is his will. But my will is always to satisfy him in a very clean way. Do you understand?

This is the difference between raga-marga and vidhi-marga, but we must all try to follow the vidhi-marga in this line. The Western devotees are very quick to think that they have crossed over vidhi and attained raga-marga. We have got the seeds, but it is necessary to plant and grow those seeds properly. When that bhakti-lata has fully grown, she must be fruitful, but we cannot immediately expect fruit from a baby creeper.


Spoken on 8 August 1989.

Listen to the original audio recording of this talk here.

A part of this talk was previously published as the article Hankering for Service.