Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada! All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I have some stories to share. When Srila Prabhupada came to Toronto ISKCON for the first time in mid 1975, I was the temple president. There was a moment when we were alone in the hallway and he enquired about the state of affairs at the temple. He asked about book distribution and I gave him the details. He smiled slightly and nodded approvingly saying, “Very good.” He asked if people were joining our movement there and I said things had slowed down, with only a few people joining every six months or so. He said, “That’s alright,” and quoted from the Bhagavad-gita: manusanam sahasresu…
Then, with a more serious and concerned look, he asked, “So, you are distributing my books, but are you reading them too?” I answered, “Oh yes Srila Prabhupada, we have four classes every day!” His eyes immediately opened wide in amazement and a glowing Cheshire Cat smile appeared on his face! He replied, “Thank you very much.” I will never forget the look of gratitude, approval and satisfaction on his face. It is forever etched into my mind and heart. A most powerful samskara for an eager disciple. I’ve included some pics from that visit.
When I became temple president of Chicago shortly thereafter, I established a similar study program. We actually studied six different books simultaneously by alternating every other day between Nectar of Devotion and Nectar of Instruction in the mornings, right before Srimad-bhagavatam class, and then alternating between Krsna book and Caitanya-caritamrta each evening before Bhagavad-gita class.
I even set up a library system with stamped cards, so all the devotees could check out Srila Prabhupada’s books for their private study. With all of this sravanam, along with singing bhajanas daily and the most explosive and musical Bengali-style kirtans you could ever imagine, what to speak of the heavenly five star prasadam, it’s no surprise the Chicago devotees led the world in distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books.
In addition to teaching Srila Prabhupada’s books to his disciples every day for six years, as a temple president in various ISKCON centers, I continued studying his books and teaching others over the course of my adult life. Then, in January of 2011, I prayed to Krsna, Srila Prabhupada, and my Deities, Sri Sri Gandharvika Giridhari, because I wanted to go deeper into the philosophy and teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I had no idea that the ensuing adventure would cause such a powerful transformation in my life.
That expedition led me through the major books of our primary Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas. I read and carefully studied over thirty of their books. I read many of the major books twice, most of which took place during 2011. As a result of this unprecedented and concentrated immersion, compelled by Krsna in my heart, and inspired by Srila Prabhupada, I began to compile my observations and realizations, which resulted in writing a book in 2012…
To explain the purposes and content in brief, here are a selection of passages directly from the book, along with the Table of Contents. The book also contains nine unique diagrams to provide clarity and to illustrate complex philosophical concepts, such as, the stages of progress in raganuga-bhakti with its many concurrent layers, the gradual process of anartha-nivrtti up to bhava, the various levels of rati and prema, the essential elements of rasa, and more.
Although there are a number of passages quoted from the writings of Srila Prabhupada and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, my book is based primarily on the knowledge and teachings found in the following books and commentaries of our Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas:
Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasadeva – Srimad-bhagavatam, with Srila Prabhupada’s commentaries
Sanatana Gosvami – Brhad-bhagavatamrta
Rüpa Gosvami – Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani, Utkalika-vallari, Radha-krsna-ganoddesa-dipika
Jiva Gosvami – Bhakti-sandarbha, Priti-sandarbha, Krsna-sandarbha, commentaries on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Ujjvala-nilamani
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami – Manah-Siksa, Sri Vilapa-kusumaïjali
Dhyanacandra Gosvami – Gaura Govindarcana-smarana-paddhati
Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami – Caitanya-caritamrta, Govinda-lilamrta
Narottama dasa Thakura – Prema-bhakti-candrika
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura – Raga-vartma-candrika, Madhurya-kadambini, Sankalpa-kalpadrumah, commentaries on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani and Srimad-bhagavatam
Bhaktivinoda Thakura – Jaiva-dharma, Harinama-cintamani, Caitanya-Siksamrta, Bhajana-rahasya
The purpose of this book
The primary focus of this book is the study of the processes involved in the realization and manifestation of a person’s eternal spiritual identity and bodily form in a relationship with Krsna in His lila. As such, in this book I have attempted to present a thorough analysis of raganuga-bhakti and its sadhana and bhajana. The specific focus is on the last five stages of development, namely, anartha-nivrtti, nistha, ruci, asakti, and bhava, leading to the goal, prema.
I have done my best to extract the essence of this knowledge and to organize, analyze and present it in a clear, systematic way, for the benefit of serious Gaudiya Vaisnava practitioners who have an interest in, or a need for, this essential esoteric and confidential knowledge.
Knowing that most devotees won’t have the time to read all of these books, especially in a condensed period of time, I have intentionally quoted many lengthy but fully relevant sections from these books. This was done to substantiate and expand upon my statements and conclusions, as well as to allow readers to hear directly from these acaryas in their own distinct writing voices, which are full of nectar and illumination. This also allows readers to get a better sense of these acaryas as the unique individual Vaisnavas they were, by hearing their personal perspective on these important details.
In that sense, this book is also a summary study of all these referenced works, insofar as they relate to the primary subject matter – raganuga-bhakti. Think of it as having private sadhu-sanga with these exalted individuals all at the same time, discussing the same subjects together. What better sources and siksa-gurus could one hope for? It is a rare and worthwhile opportunity, not to be missed, nor taken lightly.
I invite you to join me on a journey through these most prominent books of the Caitanya Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas. However, this is not an academic journey, nor a purely analytical one from an intellectual standpoint. It is a very focused journey as practitioners along a specific path toward the ultimate goal, as delineated in these writings.
Let me state for the record that my purpose in writing this book is not to make money from book sales, which is why I have made this book freely available to all Vaisnavas. I also have no intentions of using this book as a platform to establish myself as a diksa-guru and accept disciples. Nor am I trying to surpass any acaryas and their presentations, nor to improve upon them. There is no Vaisnava aparadha, guru aparadha, or ISKCON bashing in this book. It is my sincere Vaisnava seva and guru seva.
By reviewing the Table of Contents at the end of this letter, you will get a clear picture of the systematic flow of knowledge as it has been organized and presented. Although it may be tempting to jump around to various topics of interest, it will serve you better to read it from the Introduction and to progress through the stages of learning in the proper order.
I dedicate this book to Srila Prabhupada
And to all of my siksa-gurus
Begging for their compassionate mercy
I offer it humbly at their lotus feet
In continued service to the mission of Lord Caitanya
I also dedicate this book to my Godsisters and Godbrothers
I pray that my service in writing this book will be of value to them
In their pursuit of krsna-prema-bhakti-rasa
I offer my sincere respects to all Vaisnavas from all sampradayas
I pray for the constant association and generosity of genuine rasika Vaisnavas
Who are the embodiment of truth, realized knowledge and bhakti-rasa
I pray that this book will ignite an explosion of transcendental desires in the hearts of all Vaisnavas
Sri Sri Gandharvika Giridhari ki jaya!
Uttamasloka Dasa, ACBSP
The first gift is an offering of sravanam – my book
I’ve also included two other pdf files. One is a rebuttal to an article by my Godsister, Jadurani Dasi, regarding her assertions that Srila Prabhupada’s rasa is as a manjari. The other is an article about Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s relationship with his guru, Bipin Bihari Gosvami. Both articles have relevance to certain sections of my book (where I refer to them), but not enough to warrant including them in the book.
Here is the link to the book and the two articles.
The second gift is an offering of kirtana
This is a song by Bhaktivinoda Thakura that I produced – Gaya Gaura Madhu Svare. It’s a duet with me and Karnamrta Dasi, whose CD, Dasi I also produced. It can be downloaded for free at…
More kirtans here as well…
All files are iTunes Plus, high quality AAC (better than mp3). There are also some other classic kirtans from the 70s, and some that I recorded in India. Click on the names of each one to see the notes. They are free to download.
Closing remarks and how to connect for further correspondence
Please feel free to give this book to other Vaisnavas whom you think would benefit from reading it, keeping in mind that it is not meant for neophyte devotees. Please also include this cover letter whenever you pass it on to others, so they get the full story.
Devotees may correspond with me at… Uttamasloka@bmf-vias.org
I also have a public forum for discussion of the topics of my book.
Here is the forum: Raganuga Bhakti Discussion Forum
Please sign up to create an account if you want to post to threads. It’s free of course.
The forum is divided up the same as the book, ie: one sub-forum for the Introduction, each of the six chapters and the Appendix, as well as one for general discussions outside of that structure. That will keep things organized according to the book.
I look forward to mature and stimulating discussions to help us all expand our understanding of these complex but vital topics.