The case for spontaneous love

Let me begin by offering my obeisances to my Prabhuji, Sri Lalita Prasad Thakur, his father and guru, Sri Bhaktivinode Thakur and all those who led me on my spiritual path. My thanks also go to Bhanu Swami for his translation work and Kesidaman Das for his editorial and publishing work in putting out such a fine edition of Sri Chaitanya-Shikshamrita by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur.

My initiator guru, who I followed for eight years, is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. He took me down the path as far as he could, but even in those days, 1967-74, I looked to the writings of Bhaktivinode as the well-spring or touchstone from whence it all comes to those of us in the West. I viewed him as a grand-father type figure. Your grand-father may tell you things your father doesn’t want you to know.

Prabhuji also was a grandfather figure to me. He told me many things Swamiji did not want me to know when he initiated me into the real disciplic succession of Bhaktivinode and the practice of developing the eleven moods of a maidservant of Sri Radha in 1974. In those days, there were very few of Bhaktivinode’s books available in English. I am very grateful that they are available now.

Prabhuji told me to preach in the West, and I follow his order to this day. I present the post-modern, thinking person’s version of Bhaktivinode’s teachings as he appealed to thinkers of his day.

“Those people who gain natural satisfaction by worshipping the Lord without the motives of fear, desire, or duty are engaging in worship with raga, natural attraction. Raga is defined as the tendency of the mind to become spontaneously attracted to an object immediately upon seeing it, without intellectual processing. Those who become attracted in their hearts as soon as they think of the Lord are worshipping the Lord according to raga. Those who take to worship of the Lord from fear, desire, or duty are not on such a pure level. Those who worship the Lord according to raga are the real worshippers.” (p 5)

Before I met Swamiji, I was spontaneously attracted to Radha Krishna through reading a book of Krishna love poetry, the Bhagavad Gita and hearing Allen Ginsburg chant. I suspect many other disciples were spontaneously attracted also. Yet Swamiji taught us to follow the rules and regulations of vaidhi bhakti and to be motivated by fear, desire or duty to do things we were not spontaneously attracted to doing.

When I lived in Vrindaban and studied with Dr. Kapoor, Gaudiya Math devotees and others, I learned more and more of the spontaneous path of devotion that most Gaudiya Vaishnavas follow. Swamiji did everything he could to dissuade me and others from following the spontaneous path. He was more concerned that we spend our time and energy developing his organization, ISKCON. As ISKCON became more successful and more corrupt, I left in December, 1974.

Since then, I relied on my spontaneous attraction to Radha Krishna to guide me. I stripped away rules, regulations and Indian cultural externals in an attempt to preserve the core spiritual truths of devotion. Today, my devotion remains strong and I endeavor to adapt these sublime teachings to my present circumstances.

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