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The Discussion of Rasa Begins
Vijaya-kumara did not come for almost a month. Knowing the desire of Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara, Vrajanatha's grandmother arranged, with the help of a matchmaker, for a suitable bride. Hearing this news, Vijaya-kumara sent his brother to Bilva-pushkarini to perform his nephew's auspicious wedding ceremony. the auspicious day of the auspicious ceremony came. Hearing all about the wedding, one day Vijaya-kumara came there. His heart was restless for spiritual advancement. He would not talk of material things. Vrajanatha said to him, "Uncle, why is your heart not peaceful today? tell me confidentially. By your order I now wear the shackles of household life. Please tell me what you are thinking about your own self." Vijaya-kumara replied, "Baba, I have decided that at least once I should see Jagannatha Puri. In a few days I will leave with a group of pilgrims for Jagannatha Puri. Come, let us go to our spiritual master and I will ask his permission. After lunch, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara went to Shri Mayapura, told everything to saintly Raghunatha dasa Babaji, and asked his permission to go on pilgrimage to Jagannatha Puri. With great happiness the saintly babaji said that nowadays in Jagannatha Puri, at Jagannatha Mishra's home, where Lord Mahaprabhu stayed, resides Shri Vakreshvara Pandita's disciple Shri Gopala-guru Gosvami, whose saintly feet Vijaya-kumara should see, and whose teachings he should devotedly hear, and around whose neck now rest the teachings of Shri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. When Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara returned, Vrajanatha declared that he also wished to go to Jagannatha Puri. Vijaya-kumara was very glad to hear this. When they both explained all this, it was finally decided that Vrajanatha's grandmother would accompany them.
The month of Jyaishtha (May-June) had not yet come when the pilgrims left their homes and entered the path to Jagannatha Puri. Walking and walking, after some days they came to Dantana and then Jaleshvara. Eventually they saw the Deity Shri Kshiracora Gopinatha. Then they came to Shri Viraja-kshetra, After performing the nabhigaya-kriya ritual, they bathed in the Vaitarani River, and then went to Cuttack, where they saw the Deity of Shri Gopala. Then they saw a Deity of Lord Shiva in a mango grove. Finally they came to Jagannatha Puri. There the panditas arranged lodgings for each of the pilgrims. Vijaya-kumara, Vrajanatha, and Vrajanatha's grandmother all stayed at the home of Haracandi-sahi. They circumambulated the holy place, bathed in the sea, saw the five famous holy places, and honored the prasadam foods offered to the Lord. Three or four days passed in this way. Then, in the temple Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha saw a picture of Lord Mahaprabhu as well as His footprints and fingerprints. Overcome with love, that very day they went to the home of Kashi Mishra. In Kashi Mishra's home they saw the stone Gambhira room and they also saw Lord Mahaprabhu's sandals and other things. On one side was the temple of Shri Radha-kanta, and on the other side was the room of Shri Gopala-guru Gosvami. Their voices choked with the happiness of spiritual love, Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha feel, before Gopala-guru Gosvami's feet. Gopala-guru Gosvami mercifully glanced at them, embraced them, and asked, "Who are you?" When Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha told about themselves, tears flowed from the eyes of Gopala-guru Gosvami. When he heard the word “Shri Navadvipa", he said, "I am fortunate, for today I have seen two residents of the holy abode. Please tell me: How are Raghunatha dasa and Gauracanda dasa and the other Vaishnavas in Shri Mayapura these days? Ah! Whenever i think of Raghunatha dasa Babaji I also remember my shiksha-guru, Shrila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. Then Gopala-guru Gosvami called for his disciple Shri Dhyanacandra and said to him, "These two great souls should be given prasadam." Going to Dhyanacandra's room, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara honored maha-prasadam. After honoring maha-prasadam, the three devotees talked about many things. Learning that Vijaya-kumara was a scholar of Shrimad-Bhagavatam and Vrajanatha was a scholar of many scriptures, Dhyanacandra Gosvami became very happy. He approached Gopala-guru Gosvami and told him all about it. Gopala-guru Gosvami mercifully said, "These two persons are the great treasure of my heart. Please bring them to see me every day that they stay in Jagannatha Puri. At that time Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha said, "O master, Raghunatha dasa Babaji Mahashaya of Shri Mayapura has been very merciful to us. He ordered us to take instruction at your feet." Gopala-guru Gosvami said, “Raghunatha dasa Babaji is very learned. You should carefully follow whatever advice he gives. If you wish to study something he has not yet taught you, then you may come tomorrow at midday, honor the Lord's lunch prasadam, and then ask questions. After accepting Gopala-guru's invitation, the two devotees returned to Haracandi-sahi's home.
The next day, at the appointed time, the two devotees went to the temple of Shri Radha-kanta, honored prasadam, and then placed some questions before Gopala-guru Gosvami's feet. They said, "O master, we wish to understand the transcendental rasas (relationships with Lord Krishna). By hearing the description of the rasas of devotional service to Lord Krishna from your holy mouth our lives will become successful. You are the foremost spiritual master of Lord Nimai Pandita's sampradaya. You stay in Lord Mahaprabhu's home, and you have accepted the seat given by Shri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. You are the spiritual master of the entire world. When we hear from your mouth about the transcendental rasas, whatever little we have learned about the transcendental science will finally bear its proper fruit. Taking these two disciples to a secluded place, he happily said, “May Nimai Pandita, who is the son of Shri Shaci-devi, and who, descending to this world in the land of Shri Mayapura, mercifully delivered the people of Bengal and Orissa, grant transcendental bliss to us. may Shri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, who pleased Lord Mahaprabhu by describing to Him the sweet mellows of madhura-rasa, appear in our hearts. May Vakreshvara Pandita, whose dancing made Nimai Pandita into his submissive servant, and who purified Devananda Pandita, grant auspiciousness to you.
"The rasas cannot be compared to anything else. When the moon of the Supreme Lord's transcendental pastimes directly rises, then the activities of pure devotional service become “bhakti-rasa" (the mellows of devotional service).
Vrajanatha: What pious deeds must one have performed in the past in order that one may attain rasa?
Gosvami: I cannot answer this question with only a brief explanation. I will explain elaborately. Then you will understand. From your spiritual master you have heard about "krishna-rati" (attachment to Krishna), which is also called "sthayi-bhava" (steady ecstasy). When that ecstatic love increases, it becomes krishna-bhakti-rasa (the mellows of devotional service to Lord Krishna).
Vrajanatha: Please describe "sthayi-bhava" (steady ecstasy) and "samagri" (the ingredients of rasa). In have already heard my spiritual master explain what is “bhava". I did not hear from him how these things combine to become "rasa".
Gosvami: Generally, bhava-bhakti (ecstatic devotional service) and krishna-rati (attraction to Lord Krishna) appear because of transcendental pious deeds performed in this life or a previous life. In this way one attains a condition of life that is filled with bliss. There are four kinds of samagris (ingredients of rasa). They are: 1. vibhava (special symptoms or causes of ecstasy), 2. anubhava (subsequent ecstasy), 3. sattvika-bhava (constitutional or existential ecstasy), and 4. vyabhicari-bhava (aggressive ecstasy) or sancari-bhava (continuously existing ecstatic symptoms). Let me begin by explaining these different samagris (ingredients of rasa). Vibhava, which causes one to taste the sweetness of attraction to Krishna, is of two kinds: 1. alambana (basic), and 2. uddipana (impelling). Alambana is itself of two kinds: 1. vishaya (the object of love), and 2. ashraya (the reservoir of love). The object of love is the vishaya-alambana, and the person who possesses the love is the ashraya-alambana. Thus the person who is the object of attachment or love is the rati-vishaya, and the person who is attached or who loves is the rati-ashraya. Thus a devotee who in his heart loves Lord Krishna is the rati-ashraya, and Lord Krishna, who is the object of His devotee's love, is the rati-vishaya.
Vrajanatha: I have understood that vibhava is divided into alambana and uddipana. Further, alambana is of two kinds: vishaya and ashraya. Lord Krishna is the vishaya and the devotee is the ashraya. This I desire to know: Is there any situation where Lord Krishna Himself is the rati-ashraya (a person who loves someone).
Gosvami: Yes. When Lord Krishna loves His devotee, then Krishna is the rati-ashraya and the devotee is the rati-vishaya.
Vrajanatha: From my spiritual master I have heard the description of Lord Krishna's sixty-four qualities. Please tell me what more may be said about Lord Krishna.
Gosvami: Lord Krishna is perfect and complete. he has all transcendental qualities and virtues. When He is in Dvaraka He is perfect. When He is in Mathura He is more perfect. When He is in Gokula He is most perfect. His transcendental qualities are manifested in this way in different degrees. In His different pastimes Lord Krishna appears as "dhirodatta", “dhira-lalita", "dhira-prashanta", and “dhiroddhata". In these four ways Lord Krishna is a hero.
Vrajanatha: What is "dhirodatta"?
Gosvami: As a dhirodatta hero Lord Krishna is very grave, gentle, forgiving, merciful, humble, and virtuous in many ways.
Vrajanatha: What is "dhira-lalita"?
Gosvami: As a dhira-lalita hero Lord Krishna is naturally very finny, always in full youthfulness, expert in joking, free from all anxieties, and domesticated and very submissive to His lovers.
Vrajanatha: What is "dhira-prashanta"?
Gosvami: As a dhira-prashanta hero Lord Krishna is very peaceful, forbearing, considerate, and obliging.
Vrajanatha: What is "dhiroddhata"?
Gosvami: As a dhiroddhata hero Lord Krishna is very envious, proud, easily angered, restless, and complacent.
Vrajanatha: Many of these qualities you have described contradict each other. How is that possible?
Gosvami: Lord Krishna possesses all powers and opulences without any limit. therefore, by His inconceivable potencies, it is entirely possible that He possess many mutually contradictory qualities. This is described in the following words of the Kurma Purana:
asthulash cananush caiva
sthulo 'nush caiva sarvatah
avarnah sarvatah proktam
"He is not great and He is not small. He is the greatest and He is the smallest. He has no color. His color is dark and the corners of His eyes are red.
tathapi dosha parame
gunaviruddha apy ete
"Because He has all powers and opulences, the Supreme Personality of Godhead possesses contradictory qualities. Even so, there is no fault in this. His contradictory qualities are glorious."
In the Maha-Varaha Purana it is said:
sarve nityah shashvatash ca
dehas tasya paramatmanah
naiva prakriti-jah kvacit
"All the forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are eternal and everlasting. Nothing can be given to improve them, for they are perfect. Nothing can be taken from them. They are not material.
jnana-matrash ca sarvatah
sarve sarva-gunaih purnah
"They are full of transcendental bliss and knowledge. They are filled with all virtues and free from all faults."
In the Vaishnava Tantra it is said:
"The form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is eternal, full of knowledge, bliss, power, and opulence, and free of the eighteen faults."
The eighteen great faults are described in these words of the Vaishnava-yamala:
mohas tandra bhramo ruksha-
rasata kama ulbanah
asatyam krodha akanksha
"The eighteen faults are: illusion, fatigue, errors, roughness, material lust, restlessness, pride, envy, violence, disgrace, exhaustion, untruth, anger, hankering, dependence, desire to lord over the universe, seeing duality, and cheating."*
The forms of the Lord's incarnations are all perfect. The form of Lord Krishna, who is the source of all incarnations is supremely perfect. Aside from what has already been said, Lord Krishna possesses the eight qualities of a great personality: 1. decorated, 2. enjoying, 3. pleasing, 4. dependable, 5.steady, 6. predominating, 7. a meticulous dresser, and 8. a magnanimous personality. It is said that a person is great if he is decorated with the qualities of being very merciful toward the unfortunate, very powerful, superior, chivalrous, enthusiastic, expert, and truthful. When a person is always happy and is accustomed to speak smilingly, he is considered to be in the mode of enjoyment. When one's characteristics are very sweet and desirable, his personality is called pleasing. Any person who is reliable in all circumstances is called dependable. A person who is not disturbed even in a situation of reverses is called steady. A person who can affect the mind of everyone is called predominating. A person who is fond of dressing himself is called lalita, or a meticulous dresser. Persons who can give themselves to anyone are called magnanimous. Although Krishna is independent of everyone, out of His causeless mercy He is dependent upon Garga Rishi for religious instruction, for learning the military art He is dependent upon Satyaki, and for good counsel He is dependent upon His friend Uddhava.*
Vrajanatha: Now I have learned how Lord Krishna is the hero of rasas. Now please describe the devotees who are qualified fro the rasas and who have attained vibhava.
Gosvami: A person who in his heart has ecstatic love (bhava) for Lord Krishna is considered a devotee situated in the rasas. The 26 qualities of Lord Krishna that begin with truthfulness and end with shyness are all present in the devotees of Lord Krishna.
Vrajanatha: What are the different kinds of devotees qualified to participate in the rasas?
Gosvami: The devotees of Krishna can be classified into two groups: 1. sadhaka (those who are cultivating devotional service in order to enter into the transcendental kingdom), and 2. siddha (those who are already in the perfectional stage of devotional service).
Vrajanatha: Who are the sadhakas?
Gosvami: A person who has attained the stage of attraction for Krishna and who is not freed from the material impasse, but who has qualified himself to enter into the kingdom of God is called sadhaka. Sadhaka means one who is cultivating devotion in Krishna consciousness. The description of such a devotee is found in the Eleventh Canto, Second Chapter, verse 46, of Shrimad-Bhagavatam.*
Vrajanatha: O master, are not the devotees described in Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.47 also qualified for the rasas?
Gosvami: If one has not obtained the mercy of a pure devotee and become a pure devotee himself, then he cannot be considered a sadhaka. An example of a sadhaka cultivating devotional service is Bilvamangala Thakura.
Vrajanatha: Who are the siddha devotees?
Gosvami: When a devotee is never tired of executing devotional service and is always engaged in Krishna conscious activities, constantly relishing the transcendental mellows in relationship with Krishna, he is called perfect (siddha). There are two kinds of perfect devotees: 1. they who attained perfection (asmprapta-siddha), and 2. they who were always perfect (nitya-siddha).
Vrajanatha: Who are the samprapta-siddha devotees?
Gosvami: The perfectional stage can be achieved (samprapta-siddha) in two ways: one may achieve this stage of perfection by gradual progress in devotional service (sadhana-siddha), or one may become perfect by the causeless mercy of Krishna, even though he has not executed all the details of devotional service (kripa-siddha).*
Vrajanatha: Who are the nitya-siddha devotees?
Gosvami: Shrila Rupa Gosvami writes (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 2.1.290):
pramanam paramam gatah
"Persons who have achieved eternal, blissful life exactly on the level of Shri Krishna and who are able to attract Lord Krishna by their transcendental loving service, and who love Lord Krishna millions of times more than they love themselves, are called eternally perfect (nitya-siddha)."
In the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda it is said:
tatha tenaiva jayante
punas tenaiva gacchanti
tat padam shashvatam param
na karma-bandhanam janma
vaishnavanam ca vidyate
"Just as Lord Ramacandra descends along with Lakshmana (and incarnation of Sankarshana) and Bharata (an expansion of Pradyumna), so the members of the Yadu dynasty and the cowherd men of Vrindavana also descend with Lord Krishna in order to join in the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. When the Supreme Lord returns to His eternal abode, His associates return with Him to their respective places. As such, these ever-liberated Vaishnavas are not bound by the material laws of birth and death."*
Vrajanatha: O master, now I can understand the alambana part of vibhava. Please explain the uddipana part.
Gosvami: Some things that give impetus (uddipana) or stimulation to ecstatic love of Krishna are His transcendental qualities, His uncommon activities, His smiling features, Hi apparel and garlands, His flute, His buffalo-horn, His leg-bells, His conchshell, His footprints, His places of pastimes (such as Vrndavana), His favorite plant (tulasi), His devotee, and the periodical occasions for remembering Him. One such occasion for remembrance is ekadashi.*
Vrajanatha: As far as Krishna's transcendental qualities are concerned, they can be divided into three groups: qualities pertaining to His transcendental body, qualities pertaining to His transcendental speech, and qualities pertaining to His transcendental mind. Krishna's age is considered in three periods: kaumara, pauganda, and kaishora. These are described in the following words (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 2.1.309):
ashodashac ca kaishoram
yauvanam syat tatha param
"Krishna's age is considered in three periods: from His appearance day to the end of His fifth year is called kaumara, from the beginning of the sixth year up to the end of the tenth year is called pauganda, and from the eleventh to the end of the fifteenth year is called kaishora. After the beginning of the sixteenth year, Krishna is called yauvana, or a youth, and this continues with no change."*
Krishna's kaishora age may be divided in three parts. Among His many transcendental qualities manifested in this age, His handsomeness is very prominent. Lord Krishna's limbs are graceful and appropriately shaped. This feature is called is called "saundarya" (handsomeness). Lord Krishna's is dressed in exquisite garments, and decorated with ornaments, and His hair is also decorated. All this is called “prasadhana" (decoration).
There are three kinds of flutes used by Krishna. One is called venu, one is called murali, and the third is called vamshi. Venu is very small, not more than six inches long, with six holes for whistling. Murali is about eighteen inches long with a hole at the end and four holes on the body of the flute. This kind of flute produces a very enchanting sound. The vamshi flute is about fifteen inches long, with nine holes on its body.* The right-turning conchshell Krishna holds in His hand is called “Pancajanya". All these uddipana's increases the devotees attraction and love for Krishna and fill the devotee with bliss. The result is that rati (attraction) and sthayi-bhava (continuous ecstasy) turn into rasa (the transcendental mellows of a personal relationship with Krishna). Come again tomorrow and I will describe anubhava and other things.
The two devotees then took their leave of the Gosvami's feet. Again and again thinking about the rasas, Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha happily saw the siddha-bakula tree and other holy places in Lord Jagannatha's temple. Finally they returned to their lodgings.