Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

“The respectful worship, like vaidhi-bhakti, is not as majestic as the spontaneous love of Godhead springing from the depths of the heart. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu considered Rupa Goswami the best person to distribute raganuga-bhakti.”[1]

What is vaidhi-bhakti? Which category it belongs to? There are different types, different levels of bhakti, what type is vaidhi? Damodar?

Damodar: Regulated devotional service.

Tirtha Maharaj: Correct. What is the Sanskrit name for that?

Damodar: Sadhana.

Tirtha Maharaj: Sadhana-bhakti, of course! Vaidhi-bhakti is sadhana-bhakti. And what about raganuga? Raganuga is a simple practice or a high type?

Damodar: High.

Tirtha Maharaj: Hm. Belonging to which category? Is this sadhana-bhakti or not?

Damodar: Not.

Tirtha Maharaj: Not? O-o! Labanga says: “Spontaneous attachment…?” never concluding the sentence. There are two schools of bhakti: one is sadhana-bhakti, i.e. following the principles; and the second is the spontaneous attachment. Sadhana-bhakti, following of certain rules and regulations, has two sub-categories. One is vaidhi-sadhana, that means really following certain rules and regulations, and the other is raganuga-bhakti, where our main principle is to follow such a person, who has raga. This should be understood: that both vaidhi – following principles, rules and regulation – plus following a good example, both categories belong to sadhana-bhakti. Of course, raganuga is a higher type, but still belongs to the same category. And the other, the high higher type – this is the ragatmika-bhakti. That means that the atman of that type of devotional service is raga, the essence. But this is very rare and we should not imitate ragatmika-bhakti.

So if somebody wants to practice ragatmika – forget it, you cannot practice ragatmika, but if somebody wants to practice raganuga-bhakti without obtaining and following the principles, then result is fall down. If you throw away the principles before accomplishing them that is total failure. But if you do not throw away the principles after accomplishing them that is total failure also. In all mystic schools they agree that after you have reached perfection you have a different duty then the process that has leading you to that position.

Here the two main schools of bhakti are mentioned – following the principles and following the good example, vaidhi and raganuga. Therefore we have to follow the rules and also the good examples, because they will bring us closer to our achievements. Somebody gave a definition about sadhu-sanga or the bhakti-process, he said that this is not a simple company of few people who follow a vegetarian diet and believe in reincarnation – this is something more. Why sadhu-sanga is more than simply company of people with stomach problems? The answer is dedication. This is what makes the principle.  Because a devotee is fully dedicated to Krishna. Just remember that story when the devotee[2] was peeling the banana, throwing away the flash and offering to Krishna the cover. Is that vaidhi or raganuga? This is banananuga. Bananatmika. But if you are cooking for the deities, please, please, when you peel the bananas, use the banana, not the skin.

I think we can agree, if you make diagram of your progress, the first steps you think: “Ah, I follow certain rules and regulations – that is a big step”, but actually this is a small little step. On the higher levels you make one little-little progress, but on the absolute platform this is very high.

So which one to choose: sadhana or sadhana? Damodar?

Damodar: Which is closer to us.

Tirtha Maharaj: Sadhana, correct. Which is closer? Most probably this is sadhana-bhakti which is more close to the practitioners. Because most of the devotees can hardly follow the very limited number of rules and regulations that are provided. What to speak of the danger of committing some spontaneous dedication? Maybe this is like a theoretical question right now, but do not forget that elementary practices are not equal to the ultimate goal.

[1] from “Shri Guru and his grace”, by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj

[2] the wife of Vidura, Mahabharata

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