Harmony between vidhi-marg and raga-marg.

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Srila Sanatan Goswami about raganuga-bhakti and vaidhi-bhakti. Then, after collecting the essence of the Puranas, Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, and other scriptures, Srila Sanatan Goswami recorded the process of vaidhi-bhakti. Mahaprabhu told Sanatan Goswami, “When you start to write, Krishna will help you.” This help came for the general class of devotees, and with that Sanatan Goswami composed Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa. Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur respected vaidhi-bhakti, and because of that he published Sat-kriya-sara-dipaka, which describes important parts of our practising life and gives instructions to perform particular functions.

Sriman Mahaprabhu’s main preaching is in His instructions to Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan, which we find in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya-lila, chapters 17–24. Sriman Mahaprabhu gave complete instructions to Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan. Also, the substance and summation of what Sriman Mahaprabhu gave is in His conversation with Sri Ramananda Ray. That is raganuga-bhakti and its glorification. To support this, Sriman Mahaprabhu gave us two books: Sri Krsna-karnamrta and Sri Brahma-samhita. There, everything is exposed; you will see practising life and the practitioner’s target—everything—there in sum. Mahaprabhu Himself said to Ramananda Ray, “Everything that you and I have discussed is in these books that I collected in South India. You will see it there.” Mahaprabhu then handed these books over to Ramananda Ray, Svarup Damodar, and the other devotees at that time.

We saw that our Srila Guru Maharaj followed vaidhi-bhakti as was possible in an honourable way, but sometimes when he saw that something was essential, he would change the procedure and explain his feelings to us.

In the scriptures, there are so many procedures within vaidhi-bhakti. When there are complications in the laws for vaidhi-bhakti, Srila Sanatan Goswami said that we should follow the dates observed by Lord Jagannath.

kintv idrg bhakti-sandarsi-jagannathanusaratah
dola-chandana-kilala-ratha-yatras cha karayet
(Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa: 14.327)

When we cannot settle the proper time and date for a festival, we should follow the date observed by Jagannath. This means we will observe services to the Lord such as Ratha Yatra and Chandan Yatra on the day these services are being offered to Jagannath. We are following this rule by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, but sometimes some difficulty comes on Govardhan Puja. So many discussions took place about this, and finally Srila Guru Maharaj ordered us, “We will start cooking during the period of Pratipad, and we will complete our worship (offer the bhoga) before the end of Pratipad. This means we can start cooking after Pratipad starts, and we will complete out worship before Pratipad ends. If we do this, then there is no possibility of breaking the scriptural rules.” In this way, we honour vidhi-marg.

In the Age of Kali, people cannot properly follow vidhi-marg, but some rules and regulations must still be followed. These have been given by Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur: anyone who practises Krishna consciousness must follow five directives: dyutam, panam, striyah, suna, and jata-rupa. They must be cautious about jata-rupa, money. They should not try to earn so much and not try to spend so much. As possible and as required, without so much intention, they should use money. Everyone in our society knows they should not involve themselves in the other four directives: dyutam, gambling; panam, drinking; striyah, illegal sex; and suna, killing jivas, like goats, fish, and other animals. Everyone who follows these four directives must follow them within the line of Krishna consciousness: they must be humble, they must be tolerant, and they must give honour to others. These are the fundamental directives.

In this way, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan preached Krishna consciousness in line of raganuga-bhakti, but they also established vaidhi-bhakti. When we follow this, we should not be utsrnkhal: irregular, random, whimsical. We will run, and we will follow. Srila Guru Maharaj gave the example of an elevator lift and a staircase. Vaidhi-bhakti is like going up to someplace on a staircase, and raganuga-bhakti is like going there on an elevator. In raganuga-bhakti is the power of the heart, and there the soul must be surrendered to Lord Krishna and must follow the instructions that come from Guru and Vaisnava. That style is the best for practising raganuga-bhakti. Trying otherwise to follow randomly or whimsically will not be appropriate and fruitful for practitioners.

We are following raganuga-marg as given Sriman Mahaprabhu, but we are not crossing over vaidhi-bhakti. I feel this instruction to be very glorious in my heart, and by the order of Srila Guru Maharaj I engraved this as a law:

matala hari-jana kirtane-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange

[“Intoxicated with the joy of sankirtan, souls surrendered to the Lord worship the path of love in the posture of reverence.”]

When the Bag Bazaar Gaudiya Math was established, Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur composed some verses to sing in glorification of the devotees and Deities. Previously, Sri Gaudiya Math was at #1 Ulta Danga, and when the devotees were chanting and dancing in a big precession as they brought the Deities from Ulta Danga to Bag Bazaar, Prabhupad composed this song:

matala sadhu-jana visaya-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange

Later, I changed the text a little after asking Guru Maharaj, and he accepted that very happily:

matala hari-jana kirtane-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange

I think Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur is also very happy with this change.

We engraved this verse on the main entrance of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. We are followers of raga-marg, no doubt, and in raga-marg, there are four kinds of activity and relationship between with Lord and His servitors: dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura. We are following that, but we are not breaking the rules of vaidhi-bhakti, especially those mentioned in the conversation between Pariksit Maharaj and Kali that are required to be followed in the Age of Kali:

dyutam panam striyah suna yatradharmas chatur-vidhah
punas cha yachamanaya jata-rupam adat prabhuh
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.17.38–9)

We must be very careful about these five things as we proceed in the line of Krishna consciousness. We must follow the four directives and follow the directive about money: we are to work, earn, and spend as is necessary and required to serve the Lord.

yavata syat svanirvahah svikuryat tavad artha-vit
adhikye nyunatayan cha chyavate paramarthatah
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 1.2.108)

[“The sensible accept as much as is necessary for their maintenance. By accepting more or less, one fails to attain the highest goal.”]

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu gave this advice for our progress in life. Our devotees are following this as is possible for them, but if they can carefully try to proceed in the line of raga-marg in an even more exclusive way, that is best.


Spoken on 27 November 2006.