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Sunday, April 28, 2013

What is raganuga bhakti, how to practice raganuga bhakti, why practice it, stages of bhakti, how to be a good devotee?

Practicing the path of raganuga bhakti described by Kripalu Maharaj
Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj has rejuvenated the path of raganuga bhakti and given it a refined form that can be followed by the devotees forever

The tradition of raganuga bhakti is eternal. It comes from the Vedas. Around 3,102 BC Krishna Himself descended on the earth planet in His Divine form and Ved Vyas re-established the same knowledge through the Bhagwatam which continues until today. Five hundred years ago, the descension of Radha in the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu further revealed, rejuvenated and established this form of devotion which became the guideline for the devotees of today. This tradition is called achintya bhedabhed vad. Shree Kripalu Maharaj has further rejuvenated the path of raganuga bhakti, and given it a refined form that can be followed by the devotees, forever. A true Guru, a real spiritual master such as Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj, doesn't just show his knowledge or pride of learning. He explains and guides us in the practical steps, from beginning to end, to proceed along the path. To begin with, we need concrete answers to some basic questions:

  • What is raganuga bhakti? Difference with vaidhi bhakti?
  • Why bhakti to Radha Krishna? 
  • The 10-step procedure of raganuga bhakti
  • How to do roop dhyan, a core component of raganuga bhakti
  • Why we do kirtan
  • Benefits of practicing bhakti
  • Stages of bhakti (sadhana bhakti, bhao bhakti, prema bhakti) and how to practically attain them? 
  • The need for a true Guru? 
  • How to be a good devotee?

All these questions are beautifully, surely and simply answered by Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj and propagated via Prem Mandir Vrindavan and all the worldwide ashrams and centers of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat. They are summarized at the JKP Radha Madhav Dham website under the section Practice Raganuga Bhakti (Selfless Devotion) And Roop Dhyan (Devotional Meditation). Here we will summarize the procedure of raganuga bhakti, but visit the website for fuller instructions and guidance in all these questions and more. For any serious spiritual seeker, obtaining a copy of Prem Ras Siddhant is a must in understanding and following the path of Divine love consciousnesses or raganuga bhakti. It can be purchased via the Radha Madhav Dham online shop.

Before starting the practice, a person should remember that the goal of his devotion is to attain the Divine vision and Divine Bliss of Radha Krishna. When he is worshiping Them, he should have no other goal or desire in his mind. Also keep in mind that Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj says bhakti is not only observing a worshipping routine, as normally people do, but it is the feeling of your heart when you begin to experience the real affinity for your beloved Radha Krishna.

The practice is of two kinds:
  1. Sitting in Devotion, with no worldly activity (this is called karm sanyas); and
  2. Constant Remembrance throughout the rest of the day while engaged in worldly activities (this is called karm yoga).
Sitting in devotion – 10 Steps:
  1. Find a place where no one will disturb you. It can be in your bedroom, or in a quiet room in the house.
  2. Create a small altar or mandir, using a picture of Radha Krishna. You can decorate it according to your liking.
  3. Sit comfortably in front of the altar. You may sit on the floor or in a chair, according to your own comfort. Sit alertly so that you remain conscious during the meditation. There is no particular sitting posture or style of holding the hands for this practice – just sit comfortably.
  4. Close your eyes and begin doing roop dhyan (devotional meditation) by picturing Radha Krishna in front of you.
  5. Remember your relationship to Radha Krishna and feel Their close personal presence.
  6. Try to increase your longing for Radha Krishna and shed tears to meet Them.
  7. Do kirtan (either live or recorded). Chanting the names of Radha Krishna helps to block out distractions, focus your mind, and elevate your devotional feelings.
  8. Continue this for 15-30 minutes. You can increase the time later, as you become more accustomed to this practice of devotion.
  9. You can finish by performing the arti to Radha Krishna, if you like. The arti is done to increase your dedication and surrender.
  10. Do this every day in the morning and the evening, according to your convenience.
Constant remembrance (The Rest Of The Day):
  1. Try to remember Radha and Krishna close to you throughout the day.
  2. Never feel that you are alone.
  3. Whenever you have free time, do roop dhyan of Radha Krishna.
  4. When you are not thinking anything else, then repeat the name in your heart along with your breathing: “Ra” on the inhalation, and “dhey” on the exhalation; or “Radhey” on the inhalation and “Shyam” on the exhalation.
  5. Every hour, stop what you are doing for a few moments and remember Radha Krishna are with you. When you get used to that, reduce the time to 30 minutes, then 15 minutes, etc.

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