A story behind this post.
In 2012 book "Realization and Manifestation of Your Eternal Identity: Identity Transformation Through Raganuga-Bhakti" by Uttamasloka dasa was published.
Some parts of the book are gravely offensive (for example, the unneccessary considerations about Manjari-Bhava and cites from Rasa-Granthas, which do not imply public discussion at all - see "Ramananda-Samvad" for details).
The book had caused mixed reviews. At first Shree Shreemad Tripurari Swami had published a review (and I knew about the book from His site harmonist.us), where He mentions famous words “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread" by Shree Shreemad B.R. Shreedhara Maharaja.
Then the review from Shree Shreemad Satya Narayana followed (actually, it is not the review, but a reply to one of the questions and following considerations about the tenebrous future of E-book publishing in the iPad Age).
The main theme of "Realization and Manifestation of Your Eternal Identity" is Raganuga-Sadhana, but the book completely fails to tell what the real Raganuga-Sadhana is.
The main message of the book is "Teach yourself Raganuga-Sadhana from the books", but it is completely impossible to implement in real life, because LIVE Guru-Guidance
is always needed and special initiation in Gaudiya-Tradition is required also.
is always needed and special initiation in Gaudiya-Tradition is required also.
The book claims to be practical, but it lacks references to the main Sattvika-Tantra of Gaudiya-Sampradaya, that is to "Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" by Shree Shreemad Sanatana Goswami.
The book turned out to be a reflection of the following problem: weak adhikar of Western people for Raganuga-Sadhana (telling "Western" I mean "not native Hindu") and shallowy-perfunctory-cartoonish and consumerism-tinged along with modern psychology-tinged attitude of Westerners to Rasa-Leela and siddha-deha questions.
The lack of proper Sanskrit, Vedantic and Upanishadic education is also an aspect of problem to blame.
Actually the book by Uttamashloka is not exceptional case.
In a temporal gap 2010-2013 I have encountered about 10 people, who claimed to be Raganuga-Bhaktas, but all of them turned out to be "bookish sadhakas".
Some of them tried to refute Manjari-Bhava (using the the same proof base as Uttamashloka did), some of them still believe that it is possible to develop Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya Bhava in Gaudiya-Sampradaya (it is not possible to do, I will explain why further).
The following review was published by me on the book's forum and I am also reposting it to my blog.
Review by Vishnudut 1926.
I found the book "Realization and Manifestation of Your Eternal Identity: Identity Transformation Through Raganuga-Bhakti" by Uttamasloka dasa more than strange.
1) Unpractical (due to serious contradictions with "Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" and the system of initiations, accepted in Raganuga-oriented parivars),
2) Not 100% siddhantic (due to the attempt to refute Manjari-Acaryas and etc.),
3) offensive (due to "cartoonish" attitude),
4) too Western and too AHANKAR-ish (yes, simply egoistic) with Disneyland-consumerism attitude in "I want to dance with Krishna alone" style.
The target audience is also obscure, because such Rasika-Acaryas as Shree Shreemad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaj and Shree Shreemad Ananta Das Babaji have already granted to the West the knowledge about Raganuga.
First of all, it should be noted that before studying "Ujjvala-Nilamani" and other Rasa-Granthas a person must obtain very extensive knowledge of Sanskrit and Indian Theory of Aesthetics.
Rupa Goswami has based all His Granthas on His own Aesthetic Theory, which He has based mainly on "Natya-Shastra" by Bharata Muni.
The knowledge of "Sahitya-Darpana" is also required for analyzing Sanskrit Poetic Granthas of Gaudiya-Acharyas as well.
Not all shlokas in Gaudiya-Granthas have literal meaning. You can refer to "Citra-kavitvani" by Rupa Goswami, which illustrates some poetic (sometimes decrypting) tricks of Rupa Goswami:
Link 02 - http://min.us/lztHYuiIQxkCZ
There are such words as laukika (material - लौकिक) and adhyatmika (आध्यात्मिक - spiritual) in Sanskrit.
Both Aesthetic Systems (of Rupa Goswami and Bharata Muni) based on such notions as Bhava and Rasa, but spiritual (adhyatmika) Rasas and Bhavas of Rupa Goswami are 100000000000000000% different from material (laukika)of Bharata Muni.
Why you have decided that Manjari-Bhava can't be the highest one?
I will reply for you. You have have confused material Rasa with spiritual Rasa.
In terms of material world, yes Manjari-Bhava seems to be not the highest one. But with adhyatmik (spiritual) point of view the state of affairs will be completely different.
That's the formidable problem of all the second part of your book: you just confuse material Rasas with Spiritual Rasas.
Therefore out-of-context shlokas from Rasa-Granthas in the second part of your book sound really gravely offensive (and your considerations about the level of enjoynment of manjaris are very offensive, because actually Manjari never think about their own enjoyment, because we are speaking about NISHKAMA-Prema-Bhakti).
I will name the other formidable mistakes as following:
1. There are no references to "Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa".
You mention "Gaura-Paddhati", but there is no mention of "Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa", to which "Gaura-Paddhati" is supplement, in your book.
In "Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" Sanatana Goswami says, that Mantras from "Gaura-Paddhati" HAVE TO BE granted only to the exceptional shishyas.
That's why Sanatana Goswami has devoted first 3 Vilasas of "Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" to the topic of Mantra-Diskha.
"Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" (1.73-76 and further) states that Guru must test a shishya for 1 year before granting Mantras.
"Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" (1.125-127 and further) states the rules for Mantras repeating and these rules are impossible for Western people to follow.
"Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" (2.2) states that according to "Krama-Dipika" Mantras' initiation is requried.
"Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa" (2.147) states that it is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN to share Mantras with others.
So, all the Mantras should be granted by Guru, not by book.
2. "Manjari" (मञ्जरी) actually translates like "bud" from Sanskrit and....
And it symbolizes a totally new life of jiva in Goloka. It means that jiva will be nourished in Goloka from "bud" state up to the higher states of Prema (it is stated in "Ragavartma-Chandrika" jiva must go through more advanced stages of prema in Goloka).
And your idea is opposite and WRONG: you suppose that jiva can "jump" right into one of 4 Rasas (with choice!!!!) which is impossible for baddha-jiva to do.
"Manjari" also translates as pearl and in this sense it symbolizes that Manjari-Bhava is indeed the highest possible degree for baddha-jiva.
You have to check Sanskrit meanings of the words before trying to refute the statements of Gaudiya-MANJARI-Acaryas about the highest position of Manjari-Bhava.
All Acaryas in our Lineage were Manjaris and they wrote only about Manjari-Bhava.
And of course it is impossible to develop Dasya, Sakhya and Vatsalya Rasas in Gaudiya-Sampradaya. Totally impossible, because all our Mantras and all Granthas are all about Madhurya-Rasa.
If for example, it was possible to develop Sakhya-Rasa in Gaudiya-Sampradaya, than in addition to "Ujjvala-Nilamani" Rupa Goswami have compiled a special Grantha, devoted to Sakhya-Rasa (or Dasya, or Vatsalya).
But there are no Sakhya-Granthas or Dasya-Granthas in Gaudiya-Sampradaya.
And there no Mantras for the development of such Rasas.
3. Blunder with Sankalpa-Kalpadruma and Vilapa-Kusumanjali on page 27.
On page 27 you have included the above mentioned Granthas in Prayers column, but they actually from our Sadhana-Granthas and they describe a meditation for Manjari-Sadhakas.
By the way, if you try to find Sadhana-Granthas describing sadhana for other Rasas you will fail to do it, because as it was stated above all our Granthas are written by Manjari-Acaryas for Manjari-Sadhakas.
You can also refer to Babaji Satya Narayana Dasa article - http://jiva.org/gradations-of-prema/
4. You have understood everything in too literal sense.
Gaudiya-Rasa-Granthas describe the Leelas of Muktika-Jivas.
For example, if you ever turn to the explanations of Rasa-Leela from Acharyas of Ramanuja and Vallabha-Sampradaya, you will find, that They usually describe Rasa-Leela in such terms as cetana, Mukti, Samadhi and etc.
So, the completely adhyatmika nature of Rasa-Leela is always stressed.
And adhyatmika side of Rasa-Leela is always stressed in Granthas of Gaudiya-Acaryas, especially if you read originals in Sanskrit.
As I said in the introduction, many verses have double meaning, some verses are decrypted and the thourough reading and explanations of Acaryas are required.
Your explanations instead are too literal and, I am sorry, too infantile.
You make the typical blunder of all Western devotees, who usually think that Goloka resembles cartoonish Disneyland with dances, friendship and etc.
But it is not. It is Param-Pada for Muktika-Jivas.
And Rasa-Leela means Samadhi-Leela beyond Turya-State, which means that is totally indescribable with material (laukika) point of view.
If for example Rupa Goswami writes that there are multi-coloured cows in Goloka, it does not mean that there are multi-coloured cows indeed.
Gaudiya-Acaryas have tried to represent Muktika-experience (which is actually Acintya for baddha-jivas) in Granthas using Aesthetics Theory of Bhavas, but none of Gaudiya-Acharyas has ever told, that the descriptions must be understood in literal sense.
That's why in "Vraja-Riti-Cintamani", for example, in Verse 1.13 it is stated by Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakur: "Vrindavana cannot be understood (Acintya)".
"Acintya" is one of the main terms of Vedanta and Upanishads. Goloka-Dham is actually Acintya for baddha-jiva, so there is no place for literal, infantile purports in "friendship, love and dances with Krishna" style.
"Jaiva-Dharma", Chapter 15: "Krishna’s pastimes are completely spiritual, and there is not even the slightest scent of a material mood in them.
The Vraja-Leela described in Shreema-Bhagavatam is transcendental, but when the descriptions are read in an assembly, the fruits of hearing
them are different according to the respective qualifications of the various listeners.
Appreciating the ornamental figures of speech from the mundane perspective, those who are absorbed in material sense gratification hear it as a story of an ordinary hero and heroine.
The madhyama-adhikaris take shelter of arundhati-darshana-nyaya, and experience the transcendental pastimes, which are similar to mundane descriptions.
And when the uttama-adhikari bhaktas hear the descriptions of those pastimes, they become absorbed in the rasa of pure transcendental cid-vilasa, which is above all mundane qualities".
The lack of Vedanta and Upanishads' knowledge and cartoonish Disneyland attitude is a huge problem for the majority of Western devotees.
5. Practically, who do you think is the target audience of your book?
I will explain, why I have asked.
The matter is that those jivas who are really qualified for Raganuga-Bhakti don't need instructions at all, because they are usually born in very noble families and practice Vishnu-Bhakti from the childhood.
Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakur writes in "Ragavartma-Chandrika" that Raganuga-Bhakti is rare and hard to be attained even by demigods.
So there is no need for "Raganuga-Sadhana for Dummies" books.
There are no dummies on Raganuga-Bhakti Path at all. It is only for very advanced jivas.
And advanced jivas perfectly know everything without manuals in English, because they read in Sanskrit.
So, who is in remainder? A very few noble, advanced Western people, who have adhikar for Raganuga-Sadhana.
As for Raganuga-Sadhana in the West, Shree Shreemad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaj and Shree Shreemad Ananta Das Babaji are Raganuga-Acharyas in the West.
The Mantras (and other angas) from "Gaura-Paddhati" are practised in both parivaras.
But it is not something you can learn from the books. A Guru must explain a lot.
As for "Gaura-Paddhati" not everything is explained in the book. Some manasa-seva details are missing and there is nothing to surprise at, because Guru must explain them to shishya personally.