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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Jaiva Dharma > Chapter-28

Chapter Twenty-eight


The Rasas



     Vrajanatha: O master, I see that vibhava, anubhava, sattvika-bhava, and vyabhicari-bhava are all bhavas. What is sthayi-bhava?

     Gosvami: The one bhava that controls all the other bhavas, both obstructed and unobstructed, and that is the monarch even of Lord Krishna Himself, is called "sthayi-bhava". When “Krishna-rati" (attraction to Krishna) takes shelter of a devotee's heart, that attraction is called "sthayi-bhava". Look, among the samagris is vibhava, and included within vibhava is alambana. However, there is another bhava, a bhava independent of all these others, a bhava that is the origin and the helper of the rasas, a bhava that becomes both the enjoyer (asvadana) and the object of enjoyment (asvadya). Please think deeply about this and try to understand how sthayi-bhava is different from the other bhavas. Sthayi-bhava is divided in two: primary (mukhya-rati) and secondary (gauna-rati).

     Vrajanatha: What is primary sthayi-bhava?

     Gosvami: In the description of bhava-bhakti you have already heard about shuddha-sattva-rati. That is the same as mukhya-rati.

     Vrajanatha: When I read the alankara-shastras (books of rhetoric) the love that I understood there was all material. It was very different  The spiritual love that is now described is very different from that material love. Now I understand that only when a person is pure in heart will he attain the nectar (rasa) of love for the Supreme Lord. The so--called love written about by the authors of the alankara-shastras is only the love that appears in the material bodies and material minds of souls imprisoned in the material world. Now I can understand the other kind of love, the love you have described in your explanation of the rasas. This pure spiritual love is the be-all-and-end-all of the pure liberated souls. By the mercy of the hladini-shakti, this pure love is sometimes experienced even by the conditioned souls imprisoned in the material world. Now I wish to understand the different kinds of pure spiritual love (shuddha-rati).


     Seeing Vrajanatha's clear grasp of the spiritual truth, Gopala-guru Gosvami, shedding tears of happiness, embraced him and said, "I am very fortunate to have a disciple like you. Please listen. Mukhya-rati is of two kinds: svartha (for the sake of one's own self) and parartha (for the sake of the beloved).


     Vrajanatha: What is the nature of svartha-mukhya-rati?

     Gosvami: When no obstacles stop the bhava (aviruddha-bhava), then svartha-mukhya-rati increases. However, when obstacles do stop the bhava (viruddha-bhava), then svartha-mukhya-rati diminishes.

     Vrajanatha: What is the nature of parartha-mukhya-rati?

     Gosvami: Whether obstacles are present or not, parartha-mukhya-rati contracts of its own accord. Aside from these two, there is also another kind of mukhya-rati.

     Vrajanatha: What is it like? Please tell.

     Gosvami: This is shuddha-mukhya-rati (pure love). It is divided into five rasas: shanta (neutrality), dasya (servitude), sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parenthood), and madhura (conjugal love). As sunlight is divided into different colors when it passes through a prism or other like object, so sthayi-bhava assumes different features according to the different kinds of persons who contain it.

     Vrajanatha: Please describe this shuddha-rati (pure love).

     Gosvami: Shuddha-rati is of three kinds: samanya (ordinary), svaccha (clear), and shanta (peaceful). Samanya-rati is the love the people in general feel for Lord Krishna. When mukhya-rati is manifested in different ways in the different kinds of devotees, as light assumes different colors as it passes through colored glass, that kind of mukhya-rati is called “svaccha" (clear). In this way some devotees offer prayers to Krishna and call Him "master", others joke with Krishna and call HIm "friend", still other protect Krishna and call him "son", still others, overcome with bliss, call Krishna their "beloved", and still others meditate on Krishna and call Him "the Supersoul". A devotee in shanta-rati (neutrality) meditates with a peaceful mind on the unchanging Supreme. Shuddha-rati is of two kinds: "kevala" (unmixed) and "sankula" (mixed). Among the residents of Vraja, Rasala and Shridama are examples of devotees whose love for Krishna is of one kind only, unmixed with even the slightest scent of any other kind of rasa. Their pure love (shuddha-rati) is called "kevala" (unmixed). Other devotees, such as Uddhava and Bhima have love that is a mixture of different rasas. Their pure love (shuddha-rati) is called “sankula" (mixed).

     Vrajanatha: Formerly I thought their was not shanta-rati in Vraja. Now I see it is slightly present there also. When they consider the different kinds of rati (love), books of material rhetoric (jada-alankara) do not accept shanta-rati as a genuine kind of love. Here it is seen that shanta-rati must me accepted as one kind of love for the Supreme. Now please describe dasya-rati (love in the rasa of servitorship).

     Gosvami: When the devotee thinks, "Krishna is the master, and I am His servant", he loves Krishna in the dasya-rasa. When he is attached to Krishna in this way, a devotee is not attracted to or pleased by anything outside this rasa of servitorship.

     Vrajanatha: What are the qualities of sakhya-rati (love in friendship)?

     Gosvami: When a devotee is firmly convinced that Krishna is his equal, his love for Krishna is called sakhya-rati. In sakhya-rati there are joking, laughing, and other like activities.

     Vrajanatha: Please describe the nature of vatsalya-rati (parental love).

     Gosvami: the kindly love that His elders give to Krishna is called vatsalya-rati. Embracing and fondling Krishna, performing auspicious rituals for His benefit, pronouncing blessings upon Him, and affectionately touching His chin are some of the activities of vatsalya-rati.

     Vrajanatha: Now kindly describe the qualities of madhura-rati (conjugal love for Krishna).

     Gosvami: The eight kinds of pleasing activities, beginning with remembering Krishna and gazing at Krishna, that are performed in the deer-eyed gopis' love for Krishna are called the activities of "priyata" (love) or "madhura-rati" (sweet love). Included in these activities are sidelong glances, moving the eyebrows, speaking sweet words, and speaking joking words. Beginning with shanta and extending up to madhura-rati, the devotees' love, relish, and bliss increase more and more. Thus I have briefly described the five kinds of mukhya-rati (primary rasas).

     Vrajanatha: Now please describe the secondary (gauna) spiritual rasas.

     Gosvami: The secondary rasas (gauna-bhava), which are part of alambana, are: laughter, astonishment, chivalry, lamentation, anger, dread, and ghastliness. In the first six of these rasas the devotee always meditates on Krishna. When the devotee attains pure love (shuddha-rati), then he finds the material body and material activities to be very distasteful. He is horrified by them. That is the seventh rasa, ghastliness. Although these seven rasas are different from pure love (shuddha-rati), because they are in contact with parartha-mukhya-rati (the primary rasas), therefore these seven secondary emotions are included among the rasas, and the word "rati" (love) is used to describe them. For some devotees one or more of these secondary rasas remain a permanent part of their relationship with Krishna. But these is not true for every devotee by any means. For most devotees these secondary rasas are manifested only temporarily. In some situations one or more of these secondary rasas become so strong that they eclipse the natural primary rasas.

     Vrajanatha: In material rhetoric (alankara) eight rasas, beginning with conjugal love, laughter, and compassion, are described. I can understand how these material rasas look beautiful only from the point of view of pathetic material heroes and heroines. These material rasas have no bearing on the spiritual rasas of Vraja, which are the activities of the pure spirit soul, and thus have nothing to do with the activities of the material mind. The great devotees have divided sthayi-bhava rati into five primary and seven secondary rasas. This is proper. Now please kindly describe hasya-rati (the rasa of laughter).

     Gosvami: Certain unusual words, appearances, or activities cause laughter to appear in the heart. In laughter the eyes may open wide, and the nostrils, lips, and cheeks may tremble. This laughter is produced by sankoca-bhava-rati directed toward Lord Krishna.

     Vrajanatha: What is the rasa of astonishment (vismaya-rati)?

     Gosvami: When one sees something extraordinary, astonishment is manifested in his heart. Some of the symptoms of astonishment are: opening the eyes wide, speaking words of praise, and standing up of the body's hairs.

     Vrajanatha: What is the rasa of chivalry (utsaha-rati)?

     Gosvami: When the heart is determined to perform the noble deeds that are glorified by great saints, that is called chivalry. Promptness, impatience, and enthusiasm are among the symptoms of chivalry.

     Vrajanatha: What is the rasa of anger (krodha-rati)?

     Gosvami: When actions of an enemy make the heart burst into flames, that is called anger. Harshness, knitting the eyebrows, and redness in the eyes are among the symptoms of anger.

     Vrajanatha: What is the rasa of dread?

     Gosvami: When the sight of horrible things makes the heart wish to flee, that is called dread. Hiding oneself, dryness of the heart, and fleeing away are among the symptoms of dread.

     Vrajanatha: What is the rasa of ghastliness?

     Gosvami: When one is averse to abominable things, that is called ghastliness. Spitting, curling the lips, and speaking harsh criticisms are among the symptoms of ghastliness. When this emotion is in relation to Lord Krishna, then it is considered on the the spiritual rasas. Otherwise it is merely another material emotion.

     Vrajanatha: How many bhavas (emotions) are present in bhakti-rasa (the mellows of devotional service)?

     Gosvami: Sthayi-bhava has eight bhavas, sancari-bhava has 33 bhavas, and sattvika-bhava has eight bhavas. Combined together there are 49 bhavas. When these bhavas are manifested from the three modes of nature and are thus material, they are causes of material happiness and material suffering. When these bhavas help one attain Krishna, they are spiritual, beyond the material modes, and filled with bliss, and what seems to be sorrow in them is actually spiritual happiness. Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains that Lord Krishna and Krishna's dear devotees are the two alambanas, or resting places, and therefore the causes of the rasas of spiritual love (rati). The ecstatic symptoms that begin with being stunned are counted among the effects of rati, and the ecstatic symptoms that begin with lamentation help the progress of rati. When the rasas are awakened, these ecstatic symptoms are no longer called cause, effect, and helper. Then they are called vibhava. Because these activities then have an especially sweet taste, the panditas call them “vibhava". When dancing and other activities increase the sweetness of vibhava, the vibhava is called "anubhava". Spiritual (sattvika) activities bring spiritual results. Thus these actions are called "sattvika-bhava". When these vibhavas bring renunciation and other like emotions, the bhava is called "sancari-bhava". Readers attracted to poems, plays, and other books describing Lord Krishna know that the vibhavas are causes of devotional service. In truth these activities of rati (pure love) are inconceivable. They are very great pastimes of devotional service. In Mahabharata and other scriptures it is said that these activities of devotional service are very exalted. They are beyond the touch of ordinary, material logic. In the Mahabharata it is written that these bhavas are beyond the understanding of the material mind, and therefore material logic cannot be employed to understand them. Whatever is beyond the world of matter cannot be understood by the material mind. One who attains sweet love for Lord Krishna's form and other features attains vibhava. This vibhava does not remain static. It spontaneously increases, growing greater and greater. Rati (love for Krishna) enables one to directly perceive Lord Krishna, who is the resting place of transcendental sweetness and other virtues. On the other hand, when he directly sees Lord Krishna's form and other features, the devotee loves Lord Krishna more and more. In this way vibhava, anubhava, sattvika-bhava, and vyabhicari-bhava all increase rati, and rati increases them.

     Vrajanatha: What is the difference between love for Krishna (krishna-rati) and material love (vishaya-rati)? Please kindly explain.

     Gosvami: Material love is part of the material world. Love for Krishna is beyond the material world, and it is also the origin of many wonderful things. Material love is pleasant when the beloved is present and unpleasant when the beloved is absent. When a person loves Krishna, and Krishna is present, then the lover experiences the taste of a certain kind of rasa, the rasa of sambhoga-sukha (the happiness of enjoying with Krishna). However, when Krishna is absent, the lover experiences the rasa of vipralambha (separation), which itself produces a specific kind of wonderful transcendental bliss. In answer to one of Lord Mahaprabhu's questions, Ramananda Raya described (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita Madhya 8.194) the wonderful bliss the devotee feels in separation from Krishna, a bliss he called "vivarta". Therefore what seems here to be suffering is in truth the highest spiritual bliss.

     Vrajanatha: Material logicians say that the rasas are unimportant. They are only a small portion of what exists. What is the answer to that claim?

     Gosvami: It is true that the material rasas are unimportant. And why not? In the material rasas material ingredients (samagri) may nourish the material sthayi-bhava (permanent emotions). However, these are only material rasas. They are not spiritual. In the state of spiritual perfection, the spiritual rasas are eternal, complete, and self-manifest. However, to an inexperienced devotee the spiritual rasas may seem to be material. When the lover is separated from the beloved, the material rasas of love do not remain indefinitely. The spiritual rasa of love in separation is much more beautiful and glorious than its material counterpart. The great potency hladini-shakti brings transcendental bliss to the rasa of spiritual love in separation. That is why the rasa of spiritual love in separation is blissful and why it is beyond the power of material logic to understand. Therefore it is said to be inconceivable.

     Vrajanatha: How many kinds of spiritual rasas are there?

     Gosvami: Even though the primary rasas are five, they are still considered as one. Therefore, adding the seven secondary rasas, there are eight rasas all together.

     Vrajanatha: Please recite the names of these eight rasas. The result of my hearing your words is that my desire to hear grows stronger and stronger.

     Gosvami: Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 2.5.115-116):



mukhyas tu pancadha shantah

     pritah preyash ca vatsalah

madhurash cety ami jneya

     yatha-purvam anuttamah



     "The five primary rasas, each more exalted than the preceding one, are: neutrality, servitorship, friendship, parenthood, and conjugal love.



hasyo 'dbhutas tatha virah

     karuno raudra ity api

bhayanakah sa-bibhatsa

     iti gaunash ca saptadha



     "The seven secondary rasas are: laughter, astonishment, chivalry, lamentation, anger, dread, and ghastliness."


     Vrajanatha: In the context of the spiritual rasas, what is the proper definition of the word "bhava"?

     Gosvami: Considering the truth in their spiritually purified hearts, great panditas have written many books about rasa (rasa-shastras), and in these books they have defined the word "bhava". I have already explained that rasa is of two kinds: 1. cintya-bhava (bhava that can be understood by the material mind) and 2. acintya-bhava (bhava that is inconceivable, beyond the understanding of the material mind). Material logic can be used to understand cintya-bhava. And why not? The emotions that arise in the heart of a conditioned soul imprisoned in the material world are all material in nature. The conditioned souls material ideas and emotions about the Supreme Lord are also understandable by the material mind. However, true ideas and emotions directed to the Supreme Lord are inconceivable, beyond the power of the material mind to understand. And why not? The Supreme Lord is far beyond the touch of matter. Because the Supreme Lord is inconceivable, it is not good to think there can be no bhavas (emotions) in relation to Him. All emotions are possible in relation to the Supreme Lord. But they are inconceivable, beyond the material mind's understanding. In your heart remain rapt in meditation on one of the inconceivable rasas in relation to the Lord. Meditate on the appropriate sthayi-bhava and samagris. Then the eternal and perfect spiritual rasa will be manifest to you.

     Vrajanatha: O master, what does "being rapt in meditation" mean?

     Gosvami: Baba, contaminated by matter, you have wandered in the circle of karma for many births. Meditation is of two kinds: previous meditation (praktani) and present meditation (adhunika). By staying in the material world your originally pure heart and pure thoughts have both become contaminated. However, by associating with saintly devotees and by performing spiritual pious activities, one can throw far away the contaminated material thoughts and regain his original, natural, spiritual meditation. When this spiritual meditation becomes strong, the inconceivable truth appears in his heart. That is the meaning of "being rapt in meditation".

     Vrajanatha: Who is qualified to understand the spiritual rasas? That I would like to know.

     Gosvami: A person who, by constant meditation in this way, finds that the inconceivable spiritual truth is manifested in his heart, is alone qualified to understand the spiritual rasas. No one else is qualified. Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 2.5.132):



vyatitya bhavana-vartma

     yash camatkriti-bhara-bhuh

hridi sattvojjvale badham

     svadate sa raso matah



     "When one transcends the status of ecstatic love and thus becomes situated on the highest platform of pure goodness, one is understood to have cleansed the heart of all material contamination. In that pure stage of life, one can taste this nectar, and this tasting capacity is technically called rasa, or transcendental mood."*


     Vrajanatha: Who is not qualified to thus taste the nectar of the transcendental rasa? As it is an offense to give the holy name to an unqualified person, so it must also be an offense to explain the rasas to an unqualified person. O master, please be merciful and explain this point to poor and fallen people like myself.

     Gosvami: Renunciation that has nothing to do with pure devotional service is called phalgu-vairagya (false renunciation). Persons who are in the fire of false renunciation, the dry speculative habit, and who neglect devotional service are in a lamentable situation. Persons who are attached to the ritualistic ceremonies recommended in the Vedas and to the impersonal Brahman cannot relish the transcendental pleasure of devotional service. Therefore, devotees who have already tasted the nectar of devotion should be very careful to protect devotional service from such dry speculators, formal ritual elevationists, and impersonal salvationists. Devotees should protect their valuable jewel of spiritual love from the clutches of thieves and burglars. In other words, a pure devotee should not describe devotional service and its different analytical aspects to speculators and false renouncers.*

     Vrajanatha: I have become very fortunate. I will always honor the order that comes from your saintly mouth.

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, I maintain my family by reading and lecturing on Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Shrimad-Bhagavatam is a book describing the rasas of devotional service. If man reads and explains Shrimad-Bhagavatam to the people in general in order to earn money, does he commit an offense?

     Gosvami: Ah! Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the crest jewel of all scriptures. It is the mature ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.3) it is said:



muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah



     "O expert and thoughtful men, relish Shrimad-Bhagavatam."*


     The meaning of these words is that only the expert and thoughtful, who know how to relish the transcendental rasas are qualified to taste the nectar of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. No one else is qualified. Baba, give up this profession. You are a person who likes to drink the nectar of the transcendental rasas. Don't commit an offense to the rasas. In the Vedas (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.7) it is said:



raso vai sah



     "The Supreme Lord is rasa."


     This means that the rasas are Lord Krishna Himself. There are many other books you could teach to maintain your material body. Teach some other book for that purpose. You should not read Shrimad-Bhagavatam to the people in general in order to earn money. If you find a person qualified to taste the spiritual rasas, then with great bliss you may read Shrimad-Bhagavatam to him, but do not accept any salary or any dakshina (donation).


     Vrajanatha: O master, today you have saved me from a great offense. What will come from the offense I have already committed?

     Gosvami: That offense will not stay. With an honest heart surrender to the rasas and take shelter of them. They will certainly forgive you. You need not worry.

     Vrajanatha: O master, if need be I will accept a very lowly profession. But I will not describe the rasas to an unqualified person, and I will not accept money for teaching about the rasas.

     Gosvami: Baba, you are very fortunate. Lord Krishna has accepted you as His own devotee. If this were not so, then how could you be so sincere and dedicated to devotional service? Lord Gaura has given all His potencies to you.