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THE BHAJANA OF CONFIDENTIAL WORSHIP OF THE HOLY NAME
All glories to Shri Gadadhara Pandita and Lord Gauranga; all glories to Lord Nityananda,; all glories to Shri Advaita Acarya, the Lord of Mother Sita; all glories to all the devotees of Lord Chaitanya. One who rejects all other processes of elevation and simply immerses himself in the chanting of the holy name is truly a magnanimous soul and is glorious in all respects.
Lord Chaitanya said, "My dear Haridasa, simply on the strength of your wonderful devotion, you are conversant with all knowledge. All the Vedic philosophical conclusions about the Absolute Godhead, the jiva, maya, the pure name of the Lord, namabhasa and namaparadha are revealed in your speech. It is therefore rightly said that the Vedas gleefully dance upon your tongue." The Lord, fully satisfied with His devotee, now desired to hear the precepts of namarasa, the rare spiritual science of the sweet mellows of the holy name, from the mouth of Shrila Haridasa.
Lord Chaitanya continued, "Now please instruct Me about namarasa. How can a jiva become eligible to receive it?" Shrila Haridasa Thakur then prayed at the Lord's lotus feet, submitting with intense prema that whatever he would speak on this subject would be inspired by the Lord Himself.
The true Rasa
In the Vedas the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called Rasa. This rasa or the nectar of transcendental love permeates the spiritual Kingdom of God. Worldy poets dabble in a rasa that is totally mundane. Factually, theirs is not rasa but a perversion of it.
The rasa that is transcendental and ever situated in pure goodness, beyond the jurisdiction of the twentyfour elements of material nature, is in truth the real rasa. It is unknown even to the atmaramas, the self-satisfied mystics who have surpassed material nature but are yet unable to perceive transcendental variegatedness. Rasa is eternal, full of cognizance and ever-blissful, eversheltered at Lord Krishna's lotus feet.
The Supreme Absolute Truth exists as saktiman or the Energetic and sakti or the Energy. Qualitatively, saktiman and sakti are the same, though differences between the two are to be appreciated. Saktiman is always the Supreme Controller, willful and independent; sakti always displays His full and supreme potency. His sakti or potency manifests in three ways: the cit potency or the spiritual nature, the jiva, and maya or the material nature.
The cit potency reveals the Supreme Truth, His name, abode, pastimes and beauty. Lord Krishna is that Supreme Truth. His exquisite dark complexion, syama, is His beauty. Goloka is His abode and the place of His pastimes. His name, abode, form, qualities and pastimes are everexistent features of the nondual spiritual substance, and the display of these transcendental varieties is the function of His cit potency.
Lord Krishna is the original form of all transcendental qualities. His eternal divine nature is His spiritual potency. There is no inherent difference between the form of Krishna and His divine nature. Yet spiritual variety (rasa) creates an impression of difference, which is exhibited in the spiritual world.
Mayasakti is the external potency
The reflection of the spiritual potency is called mayasakti or material nature. She is also known as the external potency. She has produced this material world or Devidhama as ordered by Lord Krishna.
There are two types of jivasakti
The marginal region (tatastha) of the spiritual potency manifests the jiva-sakti. The jiva is eternal and inconceivably one with and yet simultaneously different from the Supreme Lord. He is Lord Krishna's spiritual energy and is therefore meant to be part of the transcendental paraphernalia of the Lord's service.
There are two categories of jivas: nitybaddha and nityamukta, or eternally conditioned and eternally liberated souls. The eternally liberated jiva is entitled to render eternal devotional service. The eternally conditioned jiva is engrossed in material activities. He can also be said to be of two types: extroverted and introspective.
The introspective nityabaddha jivas are searching for the Absolute Truth. The extroverted jivas are totally absorbed in the external features of gross matter and thus are far removed from Krishna. They simply want to exploit things meant for Lord Krishna's service for their own enjoyment. The more fortunate and pious jivas amongst the introspective ones come into contact with devotees and in their association take to the chanting the Lord's holy name, which transports them through the portals of the spiritual world. The less fortunate introspective jivas are attracted to the paths of karma and jnana by which they worship various demigods or finally merge into the impersonal Brahman.
The flowering of rasa
The holy name of Lord Krishna is the bud of the flower of rasa, which is the essence of pure transcendence. By the grace of Krishna, rasa is propagated in the material world in the form of His holy name.
With the first opening of the bud of the holy name comes the realization of the enchanting Syamasunder form of Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan. The Lord's sixty-four transcendental qualities are like the irresistible fragrance from the partially blossomed flower.
When this flower comes into full bloom, it manifests the eternal and confidential pastimes of Lord Krishna known as the asta-kaliya-lila, or the eightfold loving affairs of Shri Shri RadhaKrishna. And although this manifestation is transcendental, it still appears in the material world.
Latent within the jiva are the miniscule spiritual potencies of ahlada (bliss) and samvit (knowledge). With the flowering of rasa, the svarupasakti (the internal potency of the Lord Himself) descends to contact and revive these tiny spiritual potencies of the jiva; all this is effected by the causeless mercy of the holy name. The svarupasakti descends as Bhakti-devi, who embodies the full mixture of the hladini and samvit potencies. This mixture is called the bhaktisvarupamsakti, the potency of the form of pure devotion. When his latent bliss and knowledge are infused with this bhaktisvarupamsakti, the spontaneous loving attitude required for entering the asta-kaliyalila appears in the heart of the chanter of the holy name.
The churning of rasa
Thus one reaches a state of perfection known as sthayibhava, or permanent emotion, which is also known as rati. Four bhavas combine to transform rati to rasa. The four bhavas are: vibhava, anubhava, sattvika, and vyabhicari (or sancari).
Vibhava, the element that excites loving sentiment, has two subdivisions: alambana and uddipana. Alambana or the root is again of two parts: the visaya (subject) and the asraya (recipient). The devotee of Lord Krishna is the asraya, and Lord Krishna Himself is the visaya. Lord Krishna's transcendental beauty and qualities are known as uddipana or the impetus. Thus where there is alambana (the root relationship of the devotee and Krishna) and uddipana (the impetus of the realization of Krishna's form and qualities), lila and rasa can occur.
Anubhava (the external symptoms of the internal permanent emotion) is what results from vibhava, or the effect of alambana and uddipana. When these emotions become more intense, they are transformed into sattvikabhava (loving emotions that cannot be checked). At this same time sancaribhava (emotions that set into motion the progress of rasa) come into play.
Rasa is like a machine. Rati, or permanent emotion, is the axle of this machine. Once the machine starts moving by the combined energy of the four bhavas, the permanent emotion (sthayi-bhava) is then converted into rasa. The devotee, who is the asraya (like a shelter or container), becomes the relisher of that rasa. And that rasa is the Vraja-rasa or the spiritual mellow of Vrindavan. That rasa is the essence of everything, and is for the jiva the highest goal. The Vedas expound four goals - dharma, artha, kama, moksha; but in fact the pinnacle of all these perfections is rasa. The fully realized and perfected beings are entitled to taste that rasa.
Elevation via the Hare Krishna mahamantra
Amongst the introspective jivas, he who is attracted to pure devotional service is the most evolved. The jiva can take up the path of bhakti only after he has accrued sufficient sukriti or piety from previous births. When such a jiva develops strong faith or sraddha, he comes into contact with a pure devotee spiritual master. By the grace of the spiritual master, he is initiated into the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra -the holy names of the Divine Couple.
Though this jiva is blessed with sraddha, his desire for material gain poses an obstacle on his path of progress. The spiritual master graces the jiva with a disciplinary process suitable for overcoming this obstacle. Thus he gains spiritual strength from chanting. Chanting on Tulasi beads and meditating on a fixed number of holy names every day is the best form of worship, and will surely lead to success. Therefore, in the beginning, a little time should daily be spent in seclusion for full concentration upon the holy name. In degrees, as chanting increases, a more profound relationship with the holy name is developed, and the material impediments fall away.
The path of bhakti features two important engagements, one of which is Deity worship, the other chanting and meditating upon the holy name. Although both engagements are expedient, chanting and meditating on the holy name is preferred by the more deeply serious devotees.
Many elevated pure devotees at times chant aloud the holy names on their beads, and then at other times meditate upon Krishna's pastimes on the beads. The advantage of performing kirtan, or audibly chanting the maha-mantra on the beads, is that three kinds of devotional service hearing, chanting and remembering are accomplished simultaneously. Of course, all the nine limbs of devotional service reside in the holy name; of them, hearing, chanting and remembering are the best. Chanting automatically manifests the other limbs of devotional service, like pada-sevanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma- nivedanam, and so on. Thus the process of Deity worship is automatically accomplished by the devotee surrendered to the holy name. But the devotee attracted to Deity worship will have to acquire attraction for hearing and chanting in order to attain complete perfection in Krishna consciousness.
Who is eligible to chant the holy name?
Three kinds of jivas are captivated by external material phenomena: the gross materialists, the karmis and the jnanis. They are therefore extroverts all, chasing after false hopes for happiness in the realm of fleeting appearances. The gross materialist endeavors for sensual delights. The karmi aspires for ephemeral heavenly bliss in the hereafter. The jnani is wholly concerned with how to mitigate his existential suffering. After surpassing these stages, the jiva becomes truly introspective, seeking entrance into the realm of the internal spiritual energy. The introspective jivas are divided into three categories: kanistha, madhyama, and uttama (neophyte, intermediate, and advanced).
The neophyte devotee rejects demigod worship and worships only Krishna, but with certain material motivations due to lack of sambandhajnana. Simple and naive, he is not offensive; he is just selfpreoccupied. Therefore, although such neophytes are not considered to be pure Vaishnavas, they are certainly to be accepted as Vaishnava-praya or resembling Vaishnavas.
The intermediate or madhyama devotee is pure and is very firmly situated in faith. The uttama or advanced devotee is completely indifferent to material things and is fully surrendered to Krishna. The pure name avails Himself to those who have exclusive faith in Krishna. Stepbystep advancement in hearing, chanting, and remembering
The order of discipline (sadhanakrama) for realizing the identity of the holy name with the Lord is as follows. The devotee must in the beginning discard the ten offenses and simply absorb himself in the holy name by chanting constantly. He should distinctly pronounce the holy name and meditate upon the transcendental sound vibration. When his chanting is steady, clear and blissful, he will be able to meditate upon the Syamasundara form of the Lord. With chanting beads in hand, he should thus seek out the transcendental form of the holy name, which will appear when his vision is pure.
Another method he may employ to see this form is to sit in front of the Deities, drink the beautiful sight of the Lord with his eyes and meditate upon the holy name. After reaching the stage where the holy name and the form of the Lord become one, he must then absorb the transcendental qualities of Lord Krishna into his meditation. Thus the holy name and the qualities of Krishna merge to become one through constant chanting.
Next, he goes on to practice the remembrance of particular pastimes of the Lord. This remembrance, called mantradhyana mayi upasana, facilitates further absorbtion into the holy name. This lila-smarana or pastime meditation also gradually become one with the holy name, form, and qualities.
At this point, the first rays of namarasa, or the transcendental mellow of the holy name, dawn on the horizon of perception. Chanting the name in great delight, the devotee sees Krishna surrounded by cowherd boys and girls under a desire tree at the Yoga Pitha. Progressively, the devotee's practice of lila-smarana intensifies to the point where he begins to meditate on the most confidential pastimes of the Lord known as the asta-kaliya- lila, or the eightfold pastimes of RadhaKrishna. When he reaches maturity in this meditation, rasa rises in full glory.
The svarasiki process of worship
Asta-kaliya-lila smarana is also known as svarasiki worship. In this stage of bhajana, one is awarded the opportunity to accordingly serve Krishna in the times and places of his pastimes. Now the devotee realizes the full grace of his spiritual master, who, in his eternal spiritual form (siddha-svarupa), guides the disciple to a sakhi (confidential gopi) who in turn introduces him into the pastimes of the Lord. Of all the gopis, Shrimati Radharani, the daughter of King Vrisabhanu, is the most excellent. She embodys the highest spiritual sentiment, mahabhava. Serving Krishna under Her leadership is the supreme spiritual experience.
The five main rasas or spiritual mellows are: santa (neutrality), dasya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parenthood), and shringara or madhurya (conjugal). Of these, shringara or conjugal is the highest. Devotees eligible to enter the conjugal rasa are the recipients of the special mercy of Shri Krishna Chaitanya.
In the conjugal rasa, Lord Krishna has many yutheswaris or female group leaders; but everyone prefers Shrimati Radharani. She is the direct manifestation of Lord Krishna's svarupa-sakti or spiritual potency, and all the other vraja-gopis are Her expansions. She is the Absolute embodiment of all the rasas. It is therefore the goal of devotional service to enroll in Her yutha or group. Service to Lord Krishna in Vraja is impossible without first taking shelter of the vrajagopis. One should furthermore aspire to enter Shrimati Radharani's camp and serve directly under Lalitadevi.
When the material coverings are removed, the spiritual goal is acheived
As the devotee becomes disciplined in rasa, the gap between sadhana (practice) and bhajanasiddhi (perfection of worship) closes. Soon, the servitor's spiritual form begins to take shape. By the mercy of the yutheswari, he becomes easily overpowered by attraction to Lord Krishna. This strong spiritual attraction eradicates the gross and subtle material concepts of form that captured him when he turned away from Krishna. Thus the jiva gains entrance into Vraja in his original spiritual form.
Up to this point, the jiva's progress in spiritual life can be framed in words. Beyond it, there are even higher stages of Krishna consciousness that are indescribable. These will be revealed by the grace of Krishna. The cultivation of the conjugal loving relationship with the Lord is the highest mode of service; by this, everincreasing Krishnaprema will be experienced. By adopting the bhaumavrajarasa, or the vrajarasa revealed on this material plane in Vrindavandhama, one becomes eligible to enter such conjugal love.
Shri Ramananda Raya said, 'Therefore one should accept the mood of the gopis in their service. In such a transcendental mood, one should always think of the pastimes of Shri Radha and Krishna. After thinking of Shri Shri RadhaKrishna and Their pastimes for a long time and after getting completely free from material contamination, one is transferred to the spiritual world. There the devotees attain an opportunity to serve Shri Radha and Krishna as one of the gopis. Unless one follows in the footsteps of the gopis he can not attain the service of the lotus feet of Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja. If one is overcome by knowledge of the Lord's opulence, he can not attain the Lord's lotus feet even though he is engaged in devotional service." (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 8.228230)
Becoming a Gopi Means:
The devotee who is inclined to cultivate the conjugal rasa must accept the form of a gopi under the guidance of a superior vrajagopi. One can become a gopi when eleven transcendental sentiments adorn the heart. They are: 1) sambandha (relationship), 2) vayasa (age), 3) nama (name), 4) rupa (form), 5) yutha-pravesa (entrance into a group), 6) vesa (attire), 7) ajna (instructions), 8) vasasthana (place of residence), 9) seva (service), 10) parakastha (excellence), 11) palyadasi-bhava (the mood of a kept maidservant).
Five stages of consciousness ascended in bhavasadhana
The cultivation of these eleven gopi sentiments develops through five stages. They are: 1) sravana-dasa (the stage of hearing), 2) varana-dasa (the stage of acceptance), 3) smarana- dasa (the stage of remembering), 4) apana-dasa (stage of application), and 5) sampati-dasa (stage of inheritance).
Shrila Ramananda Raya says, 'One who is attracted by the ecstatic love of the gopis does not care about the regulative principles of Vedic life or popular opinion. Rather, he completely surrenders unto Krishna and renders service unto Him.' 'In this liberated stage the devotee is attracted by one of the five humors (rasas) in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As he continues to serve the Lord in that mood, he attains a spiritual body to serve Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan.' (Shri Chaitanyacaritamrita, Madhya 8.220, 8.222) So saying, Shrila Ramananda Raya instructs us to first attain the form and mood of a vraja- gopi in order to obtain service in the conjugal relationship.
When a sadhaka devotee, having heard about Lord Krishna's pastimes, is attracted to the conjugal mellow, he should take further instruction on rasa from a realized, saintly spiritual master. This is called the stage of hearing or sravana-dasa. When the sadhaka devotee anxiously and eagerly accepts the conjugal mellow, varana-dasa commences. Then, by pure remembrance of the sentiments of rasa, he desires to practice them: thus he reaches the third stage, smarana-dasa. When he is able to perfectly invoke these sentiments of rasa, he attains apana- dasa or prapti-dasa. Finally, when he can separate himself from all his temporary material designations and is steadily fixed in that original spiritual identity for which he yearns, he has reached sampati-dasa: the inheritance of his spiritual identity.
Bhajan from the stage of sravanadasa to smaranadasa
If, after having tested the disciple, the spiritual master determines that he is eligible to perform bhajan and serve in the shringara rasa, he then confidentially informs the disciple about his eternal spiritual form as a manjari in Shrimati Radharani's camp, under the supervision of Shri Lalitadevi. The spiritual master teaches the disciple how to develop the eleven sentiments of the gopis, how to meditate on the asta-kaliya-lila, and how to properly be established in both.
So that he may fully understand them, the sadhaka is shown his siddhadeha or spiritual identity, viz. his spiritual name, form, qualities, service and so on. The spiritual master also discloses who the parents of the sadhaka's manjariidentity are, at which house she was born, who her husband is, and so on. At this point, the disciple must spurn all Vedic religious pursuits and simply be a fully surrendered maidservant of Shrimati Radharani, the camp leader; thereafter, the guru will reveal in detail the disciple's eternal service to Shrimati Radharani in the asta-kaliya-lila. The sadhika (now a female sadhaki) embraces these revelations in varanadasa. He enters into smaranadasa when he actually remembers them for himself. In this way, the sadhaka prepares himself for spiritual birth as a gopi in Vraja.
A digression on the subject of ruci
But in the beginning the spiritual master and disciple must together sort out the disciple's natural inclination (ruci) for rasa. If the disciple finds his natural taste coincides with the identity indicated by the spiritual master, he should so inform his guru and embrace that identity as his life and soul. But if the disciple does not have a natural taste for the selected identity, he must frankly reveal this to his spiritual master, who will give him another identity. If the disciple has a taste for the new identity, he should accept it. His inherent nature will then manifest itself.
Ruci or taste is the natural devotional propensity born out of bhaktisukriti, or previous devotional service. It may therefore be long standing or only recently developed. But in either case ruci is natural to the soul. When this inclination is determined by the spiritual master, it must be confirmed by the disciple. If the inclination is not fixed, the spiritual master's instructions on rasa will not take effect.
Those who are not attracted to the shringararasa, preferring dasya, sakhya or vatsalya, must likewise receive instructions from the spiritual master on these relationships in order to get the fruit of their devotion, or else return to a life of anarthas.
The great devotee Syamananda at first was not aware of his own siddharuci or permanent devotional propensity; he was made to embrace the sakhyarasa or the mood of friendship. Later, by the grace of Shrila Jiva Goswami, he attained his real position.
If an inappropriate ruci is falsely attached to the sadhaka, it is compared to the gopi identity's acceptance of a husband. But by the grace of his spiritual master, the sadhaka at last attains Krishna's service in the parakiya rasa or paramour relationship. Rasa comes to a full bloom only in the parakiya mood. The summit of Lord Chaitanya's teachings is that the parakiya attitude is the permanent feature of the pastimes of the Lord, both in their appearance [when Krishna descends to Vrajabhumi] and their disappearance [into the invisible Vraja of the transcendental world].
The conjugal rasa is completely transcendental
Shringararasa is totally devoid of even an iota of materialism. The transcendental jiva, in order to enjoy and exchange pure rasa, becomes a transcendental gopi and renders devotional service to the transcendental personalities of Shri Radha and Shri Krishna in the transcendental realm of Vrindavana. There is not the slightest tinge of the mundane man-woman relationship in Vrndavana. Only the purest essence of conjugal love is manifested in the perfected identity of the soul. And realization of this is available only from a pure devotee spiritual master. Other than by his grace, this inconceivable truth can never be understood. It is beyond the realm of speculation and pedantic scrutiny. Its realization is extremely rare.
The transition from smaranadasa to apanadasa is crucial
Perfection eludes the disciple if he does not elevate himself from the stage of smarana-dasa to apana-dasa. The confidential process of apanadasa is most exalted, devoid of the false posturing of karma, jnana or yoga. Externally, the devotee engages himself fully in the chanting the holy name, leading a renounced and simple life. Internally, he keeps the splendorous
Editor's note: refer to C.c. Adi 4.50, purport, for further elaboration on this topic. flames of rasa burning with pure intensity all the time.
Those sadhakas who are prone to a pompous external display of devotion or who fail to steady and properly direct their internal spiritual aspirations are unable to elevate themselves from the platform of smarana to apana-dasa. Thus the sadhaka may linger, unaccomplished, through many lifetimes of devotional practice.
This path of worship or bhajana is the simplest, but if the purity of the bhajana is in any way disfigured by a tinge of the contaminated desires for recognition, distinction or preference, then the sadhaka is thrown off the path of vraja-sadhana or bhajana in the mood of Vraja. One must approach the spiritual master with simple humility and learn this pure process properly.
By always remembering that he is pure spirit soul, part and parcel of the Absolute Whole, that he has a transcendental original form that is allperfect, that He has forgotten his perfect spiritual state and come under the clutches of maya, that he is offensive to Lord Krishna, being inebriated with the false designations of his gross body, but by the mercy of his spiritual master he can regain knowledge of his real self the method for the reawakening of the disciple's original identity can be quickly accomplished.
Two methods of sadhana: vaidhi and raganuga
There are two methods of sadhanabhakti: one is vaidhi (rules and regulations) and the other is raganuga (spontaneous). In the beginning, these two methods appear to be contradictory, but upon comprehension of their real purpose, the differences between them are dissolved. The vaidhi method of sadhana arises from respect for the regulations of scripture. Raganugasadhana is born out of an intense attraction for the activities of the residents of Vraja. The first is the usual method, whereas the second is extremely rare and confidential.
To the stage of apanadasa via vaidhi sadhana
The vaidhibhakta cross checks all his activities of service to Krishna with scriptural injunction. Thus his beginning faith (sraddha) for the process of devotional service leads him step by step to nistha (firm faith), then to ruci (taste or attraction), then asakti (attachment). When he reaches the first stage of spontaneity and slight bhava, he discards his dependence upon scriptural directives as an impediment to his progress. After this, he is elevated to the stage of apana-dasa, where the difference between devotees following vaidhi and raganuga disappear.
To the stage of sampatidasa via raganugasadhana [continued from the section subtitled "Bhajana from the stage of sravanadasa to smaranadasa"]
In the smaranadasa stage of raganugasadhana, the eleven sentiments of the gopis are first remembered by the sadhaka; these sentiments must adorn his emotions before he can remember the astakaliyalila. There are five levels of remembrance in smaranadasa.
Initially, his remembrance will not be steady; this level is called smarana. Sometimes he remembers the sentiments, his position and his service, and at other times he forgets. But by steady practice of smarana, gradually he reaches permanency of remembrance, or dharana. As one meditates on every aspect of the subject of remembrance, part by part, minutely, dharana develops into fixed meditation - this is dhyana. When dhyana becomes continual, is is called anusmriti. Following anusmriti is the fifth level of remembrance, samadhi, when the devotee has no interest in anything other than perfect absorption in the pastimes of Lord Krishna.
From the samadhi level of smarana-dasa, the crucial ascension to apana-dasa or the stage of application takes place. For one who is not adept, elevation through the five stages of smarana-dasa to apana-dasa may require many yugas of effort; for a dexterous sadhaka, reaching apana-dasa is accomplished quickly. In the apana-dasa stage, identification with the psychophysical body is reduced to insignificance. His spiritual identity (svarupa) becomes more and more predominant. Intermittently, it manifests and he experiences sublime ecstasy in rendering devotional service to Shri Shri RadhaKrishna in Vraja. These experiences develop until he spends long periods of time in Vraja interacting with the residents in his vraja-svarupa, seeing the dhama and the transcendental pastimes within.
The devotee's constant namabhajana inevitably brings about a face to face meeting with Lord Syamasundera. By the Lord's merciful will, all trace of the devotee's subtle body of mind, intelligence and false ego are extinguished with the demise of the gross body of five elements. Thus he enters the sampati-dasa stage. This is when the devotee's pure spiritual form fullymanifests, free of material coverings. In the mood of pure bhava, he takes up his eternal service to Shri Shri RadhaKrishna in the transcedental dhama. He thus becomes a sadhana-siddha or a perfected soul now reinstated in his svarupa through practice of sadhana and bhajana. He now serves the Lord in the company of the nityasiddhas, the eternal associates of the Lord who were never conditioned.