I liked these answers so much I thought I should make it part of my blog post. If you have already read it elsewhere, you can ignore this post. Two quotes by Prabhupada come to mind related to this question, they are something like "first deserve then desire", and then "work first samadhi later". The work he was referring to was preaching Krishna consciousness.
H.H.Hridayananda Maharaja very nicely captures the elongation of vaidhi bhakti into raganuga bhakti. I like the way he categorically states his points in bullets, gives way for easy read. When we see vaidhi and raganuga as two distinct aspects of bhakti then we are missing the point. A degree in phd cannot be separated from undergraduate studies. Phd is simply a continuation of undergraduate studies and both exist symbiotically. Similarly raganuga bhakti is a natural growth of vaidhi bhakti. Therefore by strictly practicing the instructions of our spiritual master, Krishna will award us the mercy towards spontaneous devotion unto Him. Of this, there should be no doubt!!
Please continue to read the answer given by Maharaj.
Question: It is mentioned in Jaiva Dharma that without practicing raganuga bhakti (which specifically refers to following the vrajavasis in our siddha deha and not sadhaka deha) one cannot go back to Krsnaloka or Goloka Vrindavan but one can go to Dwaraka. According to my understanding from reading Srila Prabhupada’s and other devotee’s books, I believe to serve and surrender to the Guru’s mission in the sadhaka rupa is as good as performing raganuga bhakti. I do not consider it separate although Aindra Prabhu condemns this type of approach and mentions that it needs to be cultivated separately. So I would appreciate if you can please enlighten me on this subject and let me know if we can still go back to Goloka Vrindavan to assist the servants of the servants of the vrajavasis in this lifetime just by serving in the Guru’s mission in sadhaka rupa or whether we need to separately endeavor to practice raganuga bhakti.
Answer by Hridayananda das Goswami:
1. Srila Prabhupada states many times that his faithful disciples who assist his mission will go back to Vrindavana.
2. In fact, those who devote themselves to Prabhupada’s service, and seriously practice bhakti-yoga, are coming to the stage of raganuga-bhakti. I am not doing my service because there is a rule to do it. My service to Prabhupada and Krishna is my life and I desire no other life. I find that I can easily understand Krishna’s Vraja Lila, and I am realizing myself more and more as Krishna’s eternal servant.
3. Preaching itself is raganuga-bhakti, not an inferior activity as some foolishly think. In the course of preaching, we realize great spiritual bliss and gain extraordinary insight into Krishna Lila. Most preachers I know are becoming more and more attached to Vrindavan, not Mathura or Dvaraka. That attachment comes from Krishna and indicates a devotee’s future destination.
4. The Bhagavatam does not explicitly state that we must practice a separate Raga-bhakti. Lord Caitanya stated that the Bhagavatam contains all Vaishnava-siddhanta. Therefore the requirement of practicing Raga-bhakti is not a siddhanta, a fundamental principle, but rather a detail as outlined in Chapter 6 of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. And details are variable, as stated by Rupa Goswami.
5. Bhaktivinoda Thakura perfectly spoke for his time. Then Krishna sent Prabhupada to make a full presentation to the world. Are we really to believe that Krishna will deny His Vraja-dhama to those who give their lives to His pure devotee, Prabhupada? That would be a ludicrous conclusion.
6. Aindra Prabhu did great service. He also wrote a book in which he seems to insult all the preachers of the world and place himself above them as their teacher. That’s what I read. I never heard an Aindra kirtana in which he first chanted the pranama prayers to his guru, Prabhupada. It is unusual to never begin kirtan by thanking and honoring your own guru, who happens to be a nitya-siddha devotee. In his book Caitanya-Caritamrta, Krishnadasa Kaviraja offers great respect to his predecessor gurus, as does Prabhupada in his books and kirtanas. If it were the case that simply chanting in Vrinavana, one could spread the sankirtana movement, why did Prabhupada leave Vrindavana to save all of us?
7. I suggest you read the Bhagavatam 6.17.28, which states that those actually devoted to the Lord do not worry about where they are going. They simply want to serve Krishna and they know that Krishna will reciprocate with their desire. Krishna clearly states in Bhagavad-gita 4.11 that He perfectly reciprocates with all souls. So if you are serving Prabhupada and you long to go to Vrindavana, why would Krishna send you somewhere else? Why would He deprive those who are most selfless, who think only of service, and who faithfully follow the pure devotee Prabhupada, not caring for their own bliss?
8. The essence of Vrindavana is selfless service, not trying to relish Krishna Lila. The essence of Vraja is forgetting any personal desire, including the desire to relish bliss, and rather doing whatever will please Krishna. We learn about what Krishna wants from His pure devotee Prabhupada. Those who think of nothing but fulfilling Krishna’s desires, as revealed by Prabhupada, are the real Vraja-vasis.
With best wishes,
Hridayananda das Goswami