Raganuga Bhakti

Sri Ananta Das Babaji focused solely on the mood of being a dear maidservant (manjari) of Sri Radha and his books are drenched with this wonderful bhava.

The glorious thing about the writings of Babaji was that he could elaborate on both, rasa and siddhanta.

“The temple of rasa is built on the foundation of tattva”.

 

Oftentimes he advised not to jump ahead into the highest rasika literature but to start at the beginning, to start with tattva-siddhanta, highly recommending the masterpiece of Srila Rupa Goswamipad, Sri Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu and the Sandarbhas.

He wrote:

“The very nature (dharma) of the mind is rāga (attachment, passion), and hence mental worship is the root cause of rāgānugā bhajana. Still the external practice of hearing and chanting must not be neglected or given up - this is to be noted specifically. The perfection of allegiance to the Vrajavasis cannot be achieved by giving up external practices like hearing and chanting. As much as the external practices like hearing and chanting nourish the internal practice of smaraṇa, that much the internal practice also awakens taste for external practices. Since they nourish each other equally, efforts to fix one’s mind on līlā smaraṇa without taking shelter of external practices will not become fruitful. And again, efforts to perform only external practices without practicing līlā smaraṇa cannot be called rāgānugā mārga’s bhajana. Hence both are required.“ (commentary to Raga Vartma Chandrika)

 

He always lovingly guided his many disciples and always emphasized the proper way of doing rāgānugā-bhajan.

“When the greed of a rāgānugā aspirant leads him down the road of rāga, keeping his beloved object in the center, then it awakens a special taste for the forms and pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His associates. At first the greed of an aspirant will be scattered over many different subject matters and cannot focus on the actual beloved object, but when sādhana bhajana ripens this greed will give up all other subject matters and will focus on the beloved. In this paragraph the blessed author shows how this sacred greed gradually develops. After the rāgānugīya practitioner has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Guru the stream of his bhajana starts flowing as he engages in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord in the company of the devotees. Thus, his heart is gradually cleansed from vices like lust and becomes completely immaculate. The purer his heart gets through this cleansing-process, the stronger the sacred greed will get in his heart.” (commentary to Raga Vartma Chandika).

 

Everyone who met with Babaji left with his doubts cleared and with a heart full of bhakti. The cherished practice of manjari-bhava-sadhana was his only focus and each of his words centered around this beautiful sadhana.

“The vine of devotion, which Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave to the people of the world, yields the fruit of brilliant rasa, the amorous love of Vraja, particularly the rasa of the most confidential personal service of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, named mañjarī-bhāva-sādhanā. This great gift was not given before by any other descension of God; even the wise men who were experts in devotion to God did not know this secret fruit of the vine of devotion. They used to practice vaidhi-bhakti, regulated devotion to God, out of fear and respect for the Supreme Lord, and even if there were any rāga-bhaktas in the Vraja-bhāva before Mahāprabhu’s descension, they all would be serving Krishna in the mood of a servant or a friend. Nobody knew the secret of the sweet devotional love of the gopīs for Krishna, what to speak of the topmost mādana-mahā-bhāva of Śrī Rādhā, the crown jewel of all the gopīs! In the pre-Chaitanya era there was a cult of sakhī-bhāva (love for Krishna as a participating amorous consort) preached by great devotees like the poet Jayadeva, Chaṇḍīdāsa, Vidyāpati, Bilvamangala and others, but the mañjarī-bhāva-sādhanā, the personal and exclusive service of Śrī Rādhā, was a new gift, introduced by Śrī Gaurasundara and the ācāryas who took shelter of His lotus feet.”(introduction to Vilapa Kusumanjali)

 

Living very close to the samadhi of Srila Raghunatha Das Goswami, Babaji made it his life´s work to comment on a lot of Das Goswami`s books.

 

“Wherever we look in the world of literature, we can find that such lovely poetry, so gracious, deep with feelings and decorated with sweetness, is very rare indeed. The river of Śrīpāda’s rasika poetry is agitated with ever-fresh waves of beauty and sweetness and illuminated and enlarged by the tender rays of the moon of ever-fresh feelings, so that it has become relishable for both the loving devotee and the sensitive connoisseur of poetry! But only the one-pointed rasika devotees can perceive and relish the amazing high-tide and ebb-tide of separation and meeting that surge in a self-incited way in his heart’s outbursts of divine passion in the Ganges-river of his poetry.” (introduction to Vilapa Kusumanjali)

 

Although everyone can realize Babaji`s purity of heart and his deep immersion in manjari bhava, he remained extremely humble in his mood and character.

At the end of Sri Sri Vilapa Kusumanjali, he wrote:

“Although I am greatly unqualified I have recited and explained the hymn called ‘Vilāpa Kusumāñjali’ a number of times to the Vaiṣṇavas that reside at Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa and in Śrī Vṛndāvana, following their merciful order. Then the desire awoke within the Vaiṣṇavas’ hearts for the publication of a book with a corresponding, lengthy commentary on this hymn. Following their merciful order, I commence this difficult work, like a lame man that wants to climb a mountain, and by their merciful encouragement, remembering the lotus feet of the most worshipable Śrīmat Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmīpāda I am preparing the blueprint of my translation and ‘Parimala Kaṇā’-commentary of Vilāpa Kusumāñjali on the bank of Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa, the place where he performed his bhajana and where he composed this book. This Vilāpa Kusumāñjali is the treasure of Śrī-Śrī Dāsa Gosvāmīpāda’s worship, now appearing in the form of a book as a gift to be offered on the occasion of the celebration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the appearance of Śrī-Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, the sanctifier of the age of Kali, who was the heart’s treasure of Śrīpāda Raghunātha, who was himself the manifestation of His compassion. 

Previously an unqualified fallen wretch like me has published a commentary on Śrī-Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda, named ‘Rasa-varṣiṇī’ as an offering to the lotus-feet of Śrīman Mahāprabhu during the festival to commemorate His five-hundredth birth-anniversary. 

The merciful Vaiṣṇavas and intellectual devotees were in topmost ecstasy after reading this and offered their merciful blessings to this fallen wretch. Depending on their merciful blessing and on their encouragement this ‘Parimala Kaṇā’-commentary on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali was now published. 

Just as the predominance of Śrī Rādhā’s glories are emphasised in Śrī Rādhā-Rasasudhānidhi, in Śrī Vilāpa Kusumāñjali the heart’s eagerness of the loving devotee, the anxiousness of separation and the expertise in serving Śrī Rādhā is the main topic. 

By relishing these two sacred works the devotional practitioner will learn many valuable facts of the worship of the Divine Pair – there is no doubt about this at all.” (introduction to Vilapa Kusumanjali)

 

Srila Ananta das Babaji was an advocate of unity in diversity and he never uttered a word of a sectarian character.

 

He wrote:

“Every individual soul is qualified to become Rādhikā’s maidservant; this is the great, rare gift of Śrīman Mahāprabhu.The mahājanas say that each and every soul is eligible for the service of Śrī Rādhā, and by the power of associating with these mahājanas pure God-consciousness spontaneously manifests itself in the pure spirit soul.

sei gopī bhāvāmṛta yāra lobha hoy (C.C.) –
[Anyone who becomes greedy for that nectarean mood of the gopīs…] 

These people are the fortunate souls who have obtained the grace of like-minded great rasika devotees. 

The fullest manifestation of devotion is gopī-bhāva, for the gopīs are exclusively dedicated to the pleasure of Śrī Krishna. This gopī-bhāva is the treasure of the practice of the pure swan-like devotees, and the culmination of this sakhī-bhāva is mañjarī-bhāva. By following in the footsteps of the eternally perfect devotees, that belong to the Lord’s internal potency, one can attain the confidential nikuñja-sevā of Śrī Rādhā and Mādhava.” (commentary to Vilapa Kusumanjali)