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Shri Rupa Gosvami was the younger brother of Shri Sanatana Gosvami and was elder to Shri Vallabha, who was father of Shri Jiva Gosvami. Shri Vallabha was subsequently known as Anupama. They were Karnata-bramanas by birth. Shri Jiva Gosvami, nephew of Shri Rupa and Shri Sanatana, gives a genealogical tree of
their family at the end of his book Laghutosani. It is stated that one Sarvajna by name was born in the royal family of Karnata who belonged to the Bharadvaja-Gotra of the Brahamana-caste. Shri Sarvajna had a son known as Aniruddha, who had two sons known as Rupesvara and Harihara. Harihara turned out his brother
Rupesvara, who settled in the kingdom of Sikhesvara in the east. Rupesvara's son, Padmanabha, migrated to Bengal and settled at Naihati on the Ganga. Padmanabha became a minister at the court of Danujamardana Raja Ganesa, who defeated Samsuddin II in 1405. This Padmanabha had five sons, and the youngest was
known as Mukundadeva, who settled in the Jessore District. Shri Mukundadeva had three sons, known as Sanatana, Rupa and Vallabha, who used to live at Ramkeli in the District of Maldaha, then capital of Bengal. Shri Sanatana, Shri Rupa and Shri Vallabha were therefore Karnata-Brahmanas by birth and settled in Bengal since the time of their great great grand father Shri Rupesvara. King Hossain Shah, at that time Governor of Bengal, appointed Shri Sanatana as his Prime Minister and Shri Rupa as his confidential Home Minister, and gave them the titles of Sakara Mallik and Davira Khasa respectively.
Both the brothers were not only great scholars of Nyaya philosophy of wide repute, but were exceptionally devout votaries of Shri Krishna-chaitanya-deva. Ultimately both renounced the world and completely surrendered themselves at the feet of Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva. On His way back from Vrndavana, Shri Chaitanya instructed Shri Rupa on the esoteric aspects of Bhakti-Rasa at the Dasasvamedha-
ghat at Prayag (Allahabad). And inspired Shri Sanatana at Varanasi with the fundamental principles of God, Jiva-atma and the phenomenal world. Both finally settled in Vrndavana at the instance of Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva. Dr. S. Das holds, "After finishing their studies they (Sanatana and Rupa) entered the King's service which they enjoyed for many years before they finally retired from the office to join Shri Chaitanya's mission in 1516."
The Six Gosvamis, viz., Shri Rupa, Shri Sanatana, Shri Bhatta Raghunatha, Shri Jiva, Shri Gopala Bhatta, and Shri Dasa Raghunatha, were the most trusted lieutenants of Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva, all of whom lived in Vraja and lived the life of extreme asceticism and intense devotion to the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Before one can even think of prema-rasa of the supra-mundane nature in relation to Shri Radha-Krishna, one must undergo strict discipline of the body and mind, absolutely overcome all the senses, must be beyond all thoughts of sexes, and practice spiritual life. Such a life did Shri Rupa Gosvami live and the way of his life and activities immensely pleased Shri Chaitanya. So Shri Rupa was considered to be the fittest person who could undertake writing on Bhaktri-Rasa, and thus the Lord entrusted him with the task. About the way of life that Shri Rupa and Sanatana led in Vrndavana, Dr. S. Das describes like this:
"They (Shri Rupa and Sanatana) were exactly fitted for the work He (Shri Chaitanya) had imposed upon them. They were the pride of the sect. The Gaudiya Vaishnava world was struck with wonder and affection at their devotional life. They were above reproach in every respect. If Shri Chaitanya made anybody perfect it was Rupa, Sanatana and Raghunatha dasa. Their asceticism was wonderful. Sometimes they were homeless, sleeping every night under a different tree and at times in a cave. They were perfectly happy under the trees of Vraja while their palaces at Ramakeli and at Fateyabad had not given them a vestige of the bliss they experienced at Vrndavana. They lived on alms begging from door to door accepting coarse dry bread, in contrast to the luxurious and palatable dishes to which they were accustomed. They chewed the dry bread and gram forsaking all earthly pleasures. They had only a coconut-shell as a water bottle and a tattered quilt to protect them from cold. They practiced self-mortification to the extreme. Few people could have pursued unflinchingly a martyrdom as they did."
Such was the life of extreme renunciation and spiritual dedication of Shri Rupa Gosvami, who wrote Shri Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh and Ujjvala-Nilaniani! Not everybody is eligible for this type of work. If unqualified persons, given to sensualities of the flesh should venture dabble in the PREMA-RASA of Shri Radha-Krishna without the requisite spiritual practices they will only bring ruin on themselves.
Shri Rupa Gosvami understood the inner feelings of Shri Krishna Chaitanya better than many of His other intimate followers. Once it so happened that Shri Chaitanya recited a famous verse of Kavya Prakasa before Lord Jagannatha-deva's car-festival in which a love-lorn girl longed to be with her lover in the grove on the bank of the river Reva where they had first met each other and fallen in Love! Why should Shri Chaitanya sing this verse in front of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot? Shri Rupa understood the feelings of Shri Chaitanya, and he wrote on a palm-leaf the inner significance of that verse of Kavya Prakasa in relation to the feelings of Shri Chaitanya. Shri Rupa's verse meant that when Shri Radha met Lord Shri Krishna on the chariot at Kuruksetra after long separation. She addressed Herself to Her beloved: "Thou art Shri Krishna and I am that Radha, and the bliss of our meeting is just the same. Yet My heart yearns for the groves on the bank of the Yamuna where Thy Flute first sounded the music and we met for the first time!" Shri Chaitanya was imbued with the feelings of Shri Radha: even in Their meeting after long separation, She did not relish the grandeur of Shri Krishna as a king sitting on the chariot, but preferred to meet Him in His unsophisticated manner in the groves of Vraja on the banks of the Kalindi! When Shri Chaitanya read this verse on the palm-leaf, written by Shri Rupa, He affectionately called him near and told all other devotees that Shri Rupa understood His heart correctly. From this instance, it is clear that Shri Rupa was most competent to write on Bhakti-Rasa as was brought to the world by Shri Chaitanya. Shri Rupa also wrote Lalita Madhava and Vidagdha Madhava first in one volume, but they were expounded separately at the direction of Shri Chaitanya Himself.
Shri Rupa Gosvami wrote a number of valuable books in Sanskrt, on Kavya, poetics, drama, dramaturgy, poetry, philosophy. That Shri Rupa Gosvami was a scholar of great eminence there is no doubt. Indeed, his contribution to the Gaudiya literature is vast and varied. To quote again Dr. S. Das: "Shri Rupa Gosvami was deeply learned and preeminently a poet. Rasa and poetry distill the essence, which makes every piece of his writing exquisitely beautiful. Fully equipped, he launched upon the great task of creating a different kind of literature in all its branches, which is distinctive of the Gaudiya sect. Creativity is the essence of his poetic genius. He was the first to give a new interpretation to rasa and to develop it in a direction peculiar to the sect. Rasa has been interpreted and identified with Bhakti-Rasa which forms the
absorbing theme of Gaudiya Vaishnava literature and of the practical lives of its adherents. Rupa eliminated all sorts of sensuality either subtle or gross from Bhakti-Rasa, which develops itself by way of concentration to Prema in proportion to the elimination of worldliness from the heart of a devotee."
Shri Rupa Gosvami wrote, as already stated, on a variety of subjects.
But we mention here only the name of some of his important works.
Hamsa Duta, Uddhava Sandesa, Astadasa Lila Chanda, Utkalika Valli Stava, Govinda Virudavali, Premendusagara, Vidagdha Madhava Nataka, Danakeli Kaumudi, Lalita Madhava Nataka, Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh, Ujjvala-Nilamani, Mathura Mahima, Padyavali, Nataka Candrika, Laghu Bhagavatamrta, Krishna Janma tithi, Laghu Krishnaganoddesa dipika, Vrata Krishna Ganoddesa dipika, Akhyata Candrika, Stavamala, Upadesamrita, Hare Krishna Maha Mantra nirupanam and Gangastaka. Of these, Hamsa-Duta and Uddhava-Sandesa are Duta-Kavyas, while Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh is his work on the philosophy and psychology of Bhakti. Our present attempt is to translate Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh into English, so that non-Sanskrta-knowing savants may know this unique contribution on the philosophy of bhakti. But as the subject is rather difficult and uncommon, we have thought it proper to use the technical expressions of the text in the translation and give an explanatory note on such expressions in a glossary at the end of the book. From our personal experience with a wide section of scholars at various universities in Europe and America, we have come to realize how difficult it is for Europeans to follow us correctly when we try to express our philosophical and theological ideas through the commonly used English words of western philosophy and Christian theology. We mean one thing, and they understand a different thing! There are many Sanskrta words in our Hindu philosophy and religious literature, which cannot be correctly put into English equivalents. If we do, they convey a different meaning. The best thing is to try to understand western philosophy and Christian theology in their own expressions, and in the same way western scholars need to understand our technical expressions in their proper context and meaning. Almost every Sanskrta word conveys different meanings, and it is not so easy for western scholars, even with their knowledge of Sanskrta, to understand us correctly. For example, the Sanskrta word "Bhakti" can be derived from two different roots, "bhaj" and "bhanj", but the meanings will be contrary. One German scholar of repute, versed in Sanskrta, once argued with us why we should not accept "bhanj" as the root of Bhakti! He simply would not hear that it was from the root "bhaj" that Bhakti was derived and understood! Such being the difficulty, we would adhere to the original expressions. We now give here a short summary of Bhakti-Rasa, from Sradha to Mahabhava.
Shri Krishna, who is the most beloved of Shri Radha, is now manifest as Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva with three specific purposes. First, He reveals Himself in order to remove forever, out of His limitless compassion for the entire humanity, the agonies of the threefold miseries relating to the physical body and subtle mind-intelligence-ego! (Adhyatmika pains), the providential sufferings like earthquake, flood, etc. (Adhidaivika sufferings), and afflictions caused by other living beings (Adhibhautika inflictions). Secondly, He by His own personal example is desirous of teaching unalloyed devotion and loving intimate service to the Supreme Lord as the Divine Master the Divine Friend the Divine Son, and the Divine Consort, to the fallen and self-forgetful humanity so that it may have a taste of the elixir which is Bhakti-Rasa through the varied reciprocal relationships of servanthood, friendship, parenthood and consorthood. According to their temperamental predilections even though they may be utterly lacking even in the faintest idea, of a true spiritual life of unalloyed devotion and divine love; and thereby bringing to the world a flood of the waves of the hitherto untasted nectar of the vast ocean of Bhakti-Rasa and Ujjvala-Prema. Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva promulgated the Yuga-dharma, religion of the Kali age, of the chanting of the Name of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, and unrestrictedly distributed the most precious wealth of the highly brightened Ujjvala-Prema to one and all, which was so far completely unknown to the people of the world. There is also a third reason of the appearance of Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva in this world, viz. the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna manifested Himself as Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva in order, above all, to taste for Himself and to make all unalloyed and highest devotees to appreciate that super-excellence of PREMA developing into: Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga, Anu-Raga, Bhava and Mahabhava, the last culminating in Shri Radha (the Counter-Whole Divine Moiety) and Her associate Counter-Parts. The eight Sakhis in their supramundane consorthood relation with the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is the only predominating and transcendental recipient of Prema, while Shri Radha is the predominated Counter-Whole Divinity who alone can offer the supreme enjoyments to the Absolute Lord.
The stage of Prema (which must not be misidentified with 'love'), developing up to Anu-Raga and Bhava can manifest itself in the eight Sakhis, i.e. the extended Counter-Parts of Shri Radha, the Counter-Whole Divinity, the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna being the only Predominating and Original Whole-Divinity. Therefore, the climax of Prema in Mahabhava is possible in Shri Radha alone and cannot be possible in any finite self however advanced in the spiritual life. The Supreme enjoyer Shri Krishna tastes the mellow-sweetness of the consorthood-services of Shri Radha to Him, but what She experiences in return both in union and separation, the Lord does not know. Hence, Shri Krishna accepted, out of His divine prerogative and Free Will, the complexion of Shri Radha as also the feelings of Shri Radha for Him, so that He might relish Shri Radha's feelings in the brightened state of Ujjvala-Prema, and thus He became Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva.
Before Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva brought His message of Krishna-Prema to the world, Gita-Govindam, Krishnakarnamrtam, songs of Candidasa and Vidyapati, dealing with Shri Radha-Krishna-Prema had already been published. But as the subject was unfamiliar, it was grossly misunderstood by the intellectual laity, who were given to sense-experience and who were normally addicted to sensualities. So long as one’s heart is polluted by sense-egoism, so long as one's mind is darkened by a very very thick quagmire of sex-mindedness, so long as an individual misidentifies his true self with his gross body and his subtle body (mind, intelligence, ego), there is absolutely no possibility of entering into the depth of the spiritual transparency of Shri Radha-Krishna-Prema. Eligibility demands absolute effacement of man-woman-conceptions from the thoughts of an individual before he can realize the supreme beauty of the "Divine Sex". There is no short cut to it. Those who will venture to dabble in Shri-Krishna-Prema with their pre-possessed association of ideas of human or animal sex-experiences will knowingly bring utter ruin to themselves. The Super-excellence of the unsurpassable Beauty of the Divine Prema-Rasa will ever remain unaffected by their wrong attempts.
It will, therefore, be worth while to explain here in a nutshell the transcendental significance of Mahabhava, which is identified with Shri Radha alone. The conception of Shri Radha is completely misconceived by most people. From the present state of utter self-forgetfulness of an individual soul, engrossed in the physical and mental tabernacles till its final freedom and attainment of Prema-Bhakti, there are different stages of gradual unfolding of the innate dormant nature of the soul, which it must undergo by way of spiritual practices before it can aspire to understand and relish the super-excellence of Shri Radha-Krishna-Prema.
These stages are:
(I) Sraddha, (II) Sadhu-Sanga, (III) Bhajana-Kriya, (IV) Anartha-Nivrtti, (V) Nistha, (VI) Ruci, (VII) Asakti, (VIII) Bhava, and (IX) Prema.
Shri Rupa Gosvami deals in this book Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh with the subject matter of Prema staging from its lowest step of Sraddha. From (I) Sradha to (IV) Anartha-Nivrtti are steps of spiritual sadhana (practices) from utter bondage to the soul's freedom from the clutches of the threefold deviating influences of Maya, the Deluding Energy of God. After self-realization, the soul develops in his on her spiritual practices from (V) Nistha, to (IX) Prema, which is attainable even while the soul is not separated from his or her physical and mental, gross and subtle, coverings.
PREMA can develop in the siddha-deha alone, i.e. the supramundane and eternally spiritual body of the pure soul or the finite self, otherwise called Jiva-atma, as categorically different from In the physical and mental associations, into:
(X) Sneha, (XI) Mana, (XII) Pranaya, (XIII) Raga, (XIV) Anu-Raga, (XV) Bhava, (XVI) Mahabhava.
(XV) Bhava is distinct from (VIII) Bhava-Rati in the earlier stages of Bhakti and spiritual practices till Prema is attained. The individual finite self or the Jiva-atma cannot, as stated above, attain Mahabhava. The conceptions about (I) Sraddha to (IX) Prema have been dealt with in the Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh by Shri Rupa Gosvami, while Shri Rupa has elaborately explained the stages from (X) Sneha to (XVI) Mahabhava in his famous Ujjvala-Nilamani.
There has been a lot of confused thinking amongst scholars, both eastern and western, about the true nature of Bhakti in general, Prema in particular, and much more about Mahabhava, i.e. the supra-mundane Love-Sports of the Counter-Whole (Shri Radha.) with the Predominating Original Whole (Shri Krishna), in which the Absolute-Whole having projects Himself out into the second or Counter-Whole without losing the Original Whole (Cf. Upanisad). As these technical transcendental aspects of the unalloyed soul's eternal and ever-progressive relations with the Supreme Being Shri Krishna have been wrongly identified in certain quarters with mundane and sensual love-daliances, we propose to give here a short explanatory note on each of the above mentioned sixteen stages of the soul's progress to self-realization and God-realization and the reciprocal relationships that exist between God (Parama-Atma) and the individual soul or finite self (Jiva-atma). In the glossary at the end of the book, these technical terms in rasa-sastra or rasa literature will be explained, and in the text we shall retain the original Sanskrt expressions which cannot conveniently be rendered into English equivalents For example, it is absolutely wrong to translate prema as "love", or Mahabhava as "great sentiment". By such 'easy' translation, the whole purpose of the works of Shri Rupa Gosvami will be lost.
The following explanatory notes on the sixteen stages of bhakti will be, we hope, helpful to the readers of this English edition of Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh:
(I) SRADDHA: Faith in the Supreme Being Shri Krishna, i.e. the faith that by serving Him alone everything else is served wholly and completely, as by pouring water at the root of a plant all its branches, twigs and leaves are fed. Sraddha is aroused in the heart of an individual being in bondage by his association with saints and by listening to the injunctions of the scriptures. Sraddha is of two kinds, viz. (a) mundane, and (b) spiritual. The spiritual Sraddha or firm faith is the seed of Bhakti (Cf. Bhakti-Sandarbha).
(II) SADHU-SANGA: Company of sadhus or saints. This means an individual’s eager desire to be in the company of a sadhu in order to learn the methods of spiritual practices for God-realization alone and for no other purpose. But who is a sadhu?
According to Bhagavatam, Canto XI, Chap. 11, slokas 29 to 3l, the following are the qualities of a genuine sadhu or saint: a sadhu is kind, he cherishes animosity toward none and he smilingly endures even the bitterest miseries. He loves truth as the vein-blood of his life, he never allows any evil thought to pollute his mind, and he looks upon all with equal love and compassion. He does not entertain any kind of mundane desires to darken his mental quantum and he is self-controlled, amiable and pure in character. He remains farthest from any attempt to accumulate for his future subsistence and does not beg anything from anybody and he is abstemious and peaceful. He is steady in his mind, he depends absolutely on the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, and remains in constant remembrance of the Lord. He is patient, solemn, magnanimous and undisturbed even by utmost provocation and turmoils. He has control over hunger, thirst, lamentations, infatuation, birth and death. He does never aspire after respect for himself, but is always respectful to others, he is friendly to all, and his heart is full of compassion for others. He is fully conversant with the real nature of God and he is erudite. To keep company with such a one in person, thought and through discussions is Sadhu-Sanga.
(III) BHAJANA-KRIYA: Spiritual practices (in the stage of bondage). This Bhajana-Kriya is twofold, viz. (a) Nisthita, i.e. rigid following of listening to and singing the glories of the Supreme Lord, and (b) Anisthita, i.e. slackness in spiritual practices. This slackness in spiritual practices may be due to six different circumstances, viz.
(i) Utsahamayi-early zeal in Bhakti like a child's first attempt at reading the first primer, thinking that it has become a great scholar, which slowly declines.
(ii) Ghana-tarala-or thickened liquidity, i.e. sometimes progressive and sometimes retrogressive processes of spiritual practices of Bhakti like the intensity end slackness of a student in his studies.
(iii) Vyudha-Vikalpa-this is like a married man vacillating between resolutions and doubts. At times such a sadhaka resolves to remain in his householder’s life in the company of his wife and children, relatives and friends, and devote himself to spiritual practices of service to God, i.e., Bhakti, and again, the next moment, he resolves to cut off all ties with his blood-relations in order to devote himself completely to a spiritual life. Such a vacillating state of mind of a devotee is called Vyudha-Vikalpa-Anisthita-Bhajana-Kriya, which means a vacillating state resulting in slackness in spiritual practices.
(iv) Visaya-Sangara i.e. fight against the temptations of worldly enjoyments. In this state of slackness, the devotee sometimes overcomes all allurements of worldly pleasures and sometimes they dupe him.
(v) Niyama-Aksama- unstability in determination. In this state of slacked Bhakti, the sadhaka fails to stick even for his strong determinations.
(vi) Taranga-Rangini-even when a sadhaka (one in his bondage engaged in spiritual practices) is overwhelmed by a desire for spiritual advancement and is engaged in spiritual practices, he is drifted away by the powerful forces of the tide of worldly gains, name and fame, etc. Such a state is called Taranga-Rangini.
(IV) ANARTHA-NIVRITTI: Cessation of the obstacles and the defect that cloud Bhakti. These obstacles are fours:
(1) Obstacles arising out of impious thinking and wrong doings, as well as fivefold miseries, which are:
(i) Avidya-to mistake a changeable and transitory object for an eternal entity.
(ii) Asmita-to misidentify one's own self with one's gross physical body and one's subtle body (mind, intelligence, and ego).
(iii) Raga-attachment to objects of sense-experiences viz. form, (rupa), taste (rasa), smell (gandha), touch (sparsa) and sound (sabda) corresponding to fire, water, earth, air and ether.
(iv) Dvesa-anger against opposition to the enjoyment of the senses.
(v) Abhinivesa-to misconceive one as dead when the physical body and the phenomenal objects of physical enjoyments are destroyed.
(2) Obstacles arising out of pious actions done either in this life or in previous births, which offer enjoyment here in this world or hereafter in heaven (svarga). Enjoyments in this world or in heaven as a result of pious deeds are obstacles to the attainment of Bhakti. They are like deep clouds that cover the moon of Bhakti.
(3) Obstacles arising out of ten offenses done to the Name of Krishna and thirty-two offenses committed in the services of Arcana, i.e. worship of the Deities in the temples. One should know them in detail so that spiritual practices of Bhakti might not be clouded over.
(4) Obstacle arising out of Bhakti itself, that is, from a non-rigid state of sadhana of Bhakti. It is possible that one is carried away by the desire for bhukti, i.e. for enjoyment of pleasures of heaven as a minor god, or by the desire for mukti (sayujya-mukti), i.e. self-annihilation by way of a desire to merge into the Absolute Brahman. Or by desires for worldly gains, name and fame, etc. One has got to be very careful about these subtle temptations that may lead one astray from unalloyed Bhakti.
After there is a complete cessation of the above-mentioned fourfold possible obstacles, there are five impediments to the practices of elementary Bhakti for a sadhaka- a devotee in bondage, viz.
(i) Laya-to feel ever increasing drowsiness while singing, listening to and remembering the glories of the Godhead.
(ii) Viksepa-to maintain mundane associations while practicing even the external forms of Bhakti.
(iii) Apratipatti-disinclination for bhajana or spiritual endeavors even when realizing one's Laya and Viksepa.
(iv) Kasaya-instinctively prone to anger, avarice, vanity, etc.
(v) Rasasvada- to think of sensual enjoyment and worldly pleasures while engaged in bhajana or practices of Bhakti.
To be completely freed from all the above stated obstacles, which over-cloud unalloyed Bhakti, is Anartha-Nivrtti.
(V) NISTHA: Firmness in the striving for the unfolding of Bhakti.
When the obstacles of laya, viksepa, kasaya, etc. are almost removed
from the path of Bhakti of such a sadhaka, the steadiness that he then
attains is called Nistha. This Nistha or firmness in Bhakti can be of two different forms:
(1) Steadfastness that directly concerns Bhakti which is again of three forms, viz.
(i) Physical, such as worship in the temple, listening to the scriptures prostrated obeisances before the Deities in the temple and before the Guru or Spiritual Master, circumambulation of the temple of God and the sacred places of pilgrimage associated with His Divine Descents in this world.
(ii) Verbal, such as chanting of the name of God, chanting on beads and reading aloud His glories.
(iii) Mental, such as remembrance of and meditation on the Divine Name, transcendental Form and Beauty, supra-mundane limitless Qualities, spiritual Realm, Associates and Entourage, and Eternal Pastimes of the Lord.
(2) Steadiness in relation to things which are favorable to Bhakti. No desire for one's own respect, being respectful to others, friendliness, compassion, gratitude, self-control, mental tranquillity, tolerance, and such other qualities as are helpful to the development of constancy in Bhakti.
(VI) RUCI: Liking or Taste. When a strong taste for listening to the glories of the Lord becomes much more agreeable than talks on mundane things then such a mental taste of the devotee is called Ruci. This Ruci or taste for the singing of the glories of God is of two forms, viz.
(a) to pay equal attention to all aspects of Bhakti without paying any particular attention to the less important aspects of Bhakti;
(b) to feel agreeably affected by the various traits of Bhakti, keeping in view the more important and the less important aspects thereof.
(VII) ASAKTI: Attachment. When taste for services of the Supreme Lord develops into full-grown maturity and the Lord alone becomes the sole object of life, and then such an intensity of spiritual practices by a devotee creates a glue-like attachment for the Lord in his heart. This attachment for the Lord is like the foliage of the all-wish-yielding creeper of Bhakti, in the form of loving services of the Supreme Lord, the Godhead, which very soon brings forth the flower of Bhava and the fruit of Prema.
This Asakti cleanses the heart of the devotee and makes it so transparent that the Lord's reflection appears therein in such a way as if the Lord has appeared before the devotee in person. In the beginning, the sadhaka i.e. a devotee in the early stages of spiritual practices, purposely turns his mind towards the Supreme Person and soon his mind is spontaneously and constantly fixed on Him. In this stage of Asakti, if the devotee were in the midst of even worldly gossip, his mind will turn unawares to the Lord and be attached to thinking about Him. His soul now begins to relish the supreme sweetness of the incomparable Beauties of Shri Krishna, the Lord. All worldly talks and worldly affairs become boring and unbearable to him.
(VIII) BHAVA: When the above explained Asakti or attachment along with Ruci or spontaneous taste softens the heart, mind, and ego, and all reasoning faculties reach a point of melting, it is called Bhava. This Bhava is the innate nature of the self-same potency (Svarupa-Sakti) or internal potency (Antaranga-Sakti) of the all-powerful Supreme Lord, and is like the aurora immediately preceding the rise of the sun of Prema.1
When a devotee attains the stage of Bhava-Rati, the following nine traits are fully developed in him2:
(1) He wastes not his time, even for the twinkling of an eye without being constantly engaged in his bhajana i.e. intense spiritual practices.
(2) The mental quantum of such a devotee remains perfectly calm
and composed even if there be causes of extreme excitement.
(3) He develops a natural apathy for worldly objects.
(4) He is unassuming even though possessing all noble qualities.
(5) He has a firm faith in the realization of God in this very life and meeting with his Beloved Lord.
(6) He develops an intense longing for his Beloved Lord.
(7) He constantly sings the Name of his Beloved Lord.
(8) His attachment for singing the glories of the Lord remains steady.
(9) He passionately loves Vrndavana, the Eternal Realm of the Transcendental Pastimes of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna.
The Madhurya-Kadambini describes the following further characteristics of Bhava-Bhakti:
(i) This Bhava is also called Rati.
(ii) The fragrance of the flower of Bhava-Bhakli of a devotee forcibly attracts Shri Krishna the Lord, like a bee.
(iii) When the devotee reaches the stage of Bhava, he anoints the Lord with the bhava-scented oil of affection, squeezed out of the sesame of his metal quantum. The Lord is also overwhelmed by en enjoying the Bhava-Bhakti of His devotee.
(iv) Even the gods adore such a devotee in Bhava-Bhakti, however lowly the society in which he might have been born.
(v) When Bhava is awakened in the heart of a devotee, showers of tears of Prema drench his soul. Being overfilled with emotions of inexplicable joy due to his experiencing and realizing the suppleness of the dark-blue Body of Shri Krishna, the ruddiness of the Corners of His Eyes and the Ends of His Lips, the silverness of His gentle Smile and the yellowness of His Robes.
(vi) He feels, at intervals, that he has listened to the soothing music of the Lord’s flute, the sweet jingling of the tinkling anklets of His Feet, and His own charming and fascinating Voice. He remains ever eager to taste them again and again.
(vii) He feels an immensely delightful sensation, of occasional touch of the tender Hands and the Feet of the Lord, and he is thrilled to smell the gladdening Odour of His Body.
(viii) He sometimes feels His presence, and is drowned in the stream of ecstasy. Again, he feels that the Lord has forsaken him, and he is thrown into the depth of the pang of separation.
(ix) The devotee in Bhava-Bhakti experiences the above mentioned conditions not only when wide awake, but also in deep sleep as also in dreams.
(x) In the stage of Bhava, the devotee strongly identifies himself with his siddha-deha or eternal cit-body, i.e. supramundane all-spiritual and eternal body, (which is encaged in the gross and subtle physical bodies in the state of bondage of an individual), and forgets his wrong "I"-ism or egoism of the physical body. Now he has attained bhava stage of absolute freedom from the bondage of the gross physical body and the subtle mind and perverse egoism.
(xi) Though such a devotee tries to hide his spiritual experiences from worldly-minded folks, they become manifest in the company of genuine, freed and passionate devotees. To the ordinary people, expressions of such supramundane experiences appear like madness.
This Bhava, which is otherwise called Sthayi-Bhava, i.e. permanent trait of relation between the individual atma and the Parama-atma or Godhead, are Five primary and Seven secondary types. The Five primary Sthayi-Bhavas are:
(a) Santa-Rati: or indifference, i.e. when the individual self in the eternal Realm, such as the Cow, the Stick, the Flute, etc. does not take the reciprocal initiative, but is accepted by the Lord Himself out of His own prerogative. In the Realm of the Lord, nothing is inanimate; everything is Cit or animate. But the objects of Santa-Rati appear as inanimate as they allow themselves to be utilized or not by the Lord.
(b) Dasya-Rati: or servanthood. The servants like Citraka, Patraka, and others are the eternal Servants of the Lord, and they serve the Lord as their Beloved Master.
(c) Sakhya-Rati: or friendship. The friends of Shri Krishna, like Shridama, Sudama, Vasudama, Subala, Madhumangala, Ujjvala, and others always serve the Lord as their most Intimate Friend.
(d) Vatsalya-Rati: parenthood. The parents of Shri Krishna, like Nanda, Upananda, Sunanda, Yasoda, Rohini, Devaki and others eternally serve Lord Shri Krishna as their Most Affectionate Child.
(e) Madhura-Rati: Consorthood. The queens of Dwaraka, such as Rukmini,
Satyabhama, Jambavati and others, eternally serve the
Lord as their Most Beloved Husband, while the gopis of Vraja
(the Vraja-gopis) eternally serve the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna
as their Most Intimate Beloved with an unrestricted and
supremely intense dedication to the all-out satisfaction and
absolute delight of the Lord. There is absolute self-effacement
of the Vraja-gopis in Their Sthayi or permanent Madhura-Rati
for the Lord, for the Lord's absolute and unrestricted Enjoyment.
The Sthayi-Bhava combined with the four ingredients of Vibhava Anu-Bhava, Satvika and Sancari develops into an inconceivable concrete form out of the transcendental and absolutely spiritual mellow-sweetness, which is called Rasa. The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is Rasa (Cf. Sruti:Raso vai sah). All this will be explained in the text of Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh.
(IX) PREMA: When Bhava develops to such a pitch that it completely softens the mental quantum of the most advanced devotee and it creates a sense of intense "my-ness" for the Beloved Lord and gladdens the heart beyond all measure, it is called Prema.3 This Prema may manifest itself in a devotee in two different ways, viz. (a) as a development of Bhava, and (b) as, arising from the Grace of the Lord.
(a) Prema arising from Bhava: In this aspect of Prema, it be-
comes normal and spontaneous as a vow, as it were, in the life
of such a devotee to be completely and constantly engaged in
listening to, chanting and singing the endearing Name of the Lord;
he is deeply attached to his Most Beloved Lord and a profound
fondness for Him overwhelms him. All his reasoning faculties
are dissolved and melt into divine emotions; he then forgets
all social decorum and gives way like a mad person sometimes to
shrieks of loud laughter, sometimes to bitter weeping, sometimes to
shouting, sometimes he is merged in the melody of music of singing
the Lord's limitless Qualities, and sometimes to dancing in ecstasy.4
(b) Prema arising from Grace of the Lord: The damsels of Vraja
read not the Vedas, served not the saints, undertook no
religious vows, performed no austere penances, and yet they
achieved Prema for the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, because of His
causeless Grace only.5
Prema is again two different natures according to the two different Aspects of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna Himself, viz. (i) His all majestic aspect, and (ii) His all-beauteous aspect.
Prema for the all-majestic aspect of Lord Shri Krishna (as in Vaikuntha), which is called "Aisvaraya", and for the all-majestic-all beauteous aspect of the Lord Shri Krishna (as in Dwaraka and Mathura which is called "Aisvarya-Amdhurya" is restricted by a conscious knowledge of awe and reverence, and it is called Vaidhi-Bhakti. While a spontaneous attachment and fond liking for the All-beauteous, All-attractive aspect of Lord Shri Krishna in Vraja alone, which is called Madhurya is without any restriction whatsoever on the supra-mundane love-dalliance, and is called Ruci-Bhakti.
The Majestic Divinity of Shri Krishna (Aisvarya) always consists of (1) All-majesty, (2) All-prowess, (3) All-fame, (4) All-beauty, (5) All-knowledge, and (6) All-detachment. According to Vishnu-Puranam, Narada and Uddhava had this Aisvarya-Prema for Shri Krishna with their conscious knowledge of His Divinity.
The Beauteous Divinity of Shri Krishna (Madhurya) is (1) All-charming, (2) All-attracting, (3) All-beauty, (4) All-dominance, (5) All-skilfulness, and craftiness, and (6) All-desirous. Shri Krishna's associates in Vraja had this Madhurya-Prema for Him in the form either of the devoted Servant, or of the intimate Friend, or as the affectionate Son, or as the Divine Consort with the feelings of intimacy, filial affection and conjugal love or consortship without restrictions, social or any other, respectively.
Prema has two more important aspects as mentioned in Madhurya-Kadambini, viz.
(a) Prema in its intrinsic nature is itself a dense, consolidated and
ecstatic bliss or Ananda. Prema once awakened never ceases even if there be strong grounds of a break or cessation.
(b) Prema possesses the supreme power to attract even Shri Krishna, who is the All-attractor.
When the sun of Prema dawns in the perfectly cleansed and transparent heart of the Prema-Bhakta (a devotee who has attained Prema), the following characteristics become natural and normal with him:
(i) All forms of "my-ness' and attachment of a Prema-Bhakta for his body-mind-soul and those related to the body-mind are completely directed to Shri Krishna alone. His "my-ness" is attracted by Shri Krishna like a magnet drawing a clean
piece of iron.
(ii) As a greedy and hungry man’s desire for palatable dishes never ends even if he has eaten much of them, so also a prema-bhakta's burning desire and solicitude for Shri Krishna have no end when once he has attained Him, rather the longing increases all the more. To a prema-bhakta in his pangs of separation from his beloved Lord, his own dear friends appear like a dry well without water and his own home pricks him like a house of thorns. Food tastes like severe beating, praise seems like the venom of a snakebite, and the different limbs and organs of his body become a heavy burden to him. The solacing words of friends sound platitudinous and even bitter. Sleep is death to him, and existence of the body seems to him as God's punishment. What more, even meditation on the Beloved by such a Prema-Bhakta in the agonies of separation, cuts asunder, as it were his very soul.
(iii) Like a covetous thief, the Prema-Bhakta loses all powers of distinguishing between good and evil.
(iv) As the soothing rays of the moon cool the scorching heat of a thousand suns, so also the union with Shri Krishna removes all the intense pangs of separation from the heart of a Prema-Bhakta who has acquired this wealth of Prema.
(v) Overpowered by these anxieties of Prema of His devotee, Shri Krishna reveals to him His matchless Beauty, extraordinary Loveliness, incomprehensible Adolescence, soul attracting Handsomeness, limitless Magnanimity, and fathomless Compassion and such other Divine Qualities. The devotee who has ascended the ladder of Prema and has thus been blessed by the Lord, experiences such a divinely wondrous and luminous pleasure that far outweighs the pleasures that a tired traveler experiences at midday in the scorching rays of the summer sun, in the midst of hot sands of a vast desert, when he suddenly finds a densely shaded banyan tree, full of thick foliage with all its branches and twigs, or the pleasure that a wild elephant enjoys being drenched in a cool waterfall after it has escaped half-burnt from the huge forest-fire.
(vi) After an individual soul has attained Prema by his or her spiritual practices, he or she now beholds the Lord face to-face with the darsana-rati or attachment of vision, and realizes that this luminous experience far excels all the experience he or she had at the stage of Bhava-Bhakti.
This experience is of the following order:
(vii) First: With the eyes (soul's organ of visual perception);
Second: With the nose (soul's: perception through the organ of smelling);
Third: With the ears (soul's perception through the organ of hearing);
Fourth: With the tactile sense (soul's perception through the organ of touch);
Fifth: With the tongue (soul's faculty of tasting).
(viii) Out of His magnanimity Shri Krishna occasionally makes the devotee experience in his prema the beatitude of His Beauteous Sweetness all at once with all his supra-mundane and transcendental senses.
(ix) At the time of revealing His Person before His devotee in the stage of Prema, the Lord responds favorably to the devotee's nature of sadhana or spiritual practices.
So far the different stages in the gradual development of Prema, starting from Sraddha to Prema, have been dealt with by Shri Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh, and we have given here just a summary of the same. It will, however, be necessary to explain here in a nutshell how Prema further unfolds itself into Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga, Anu-Raga, Bhava and Mahabhava in relation to transcendental Love-Pastimes in Madhurya-Rati, i.e. supra-mundane wifehood and mistresshood of the freed soul (which is no more misidentified with the physical and mental bodies) in relation to the Supreme Godhead in His Husbandhood and Paramourhood respectively. There is absolutely nothing mundane and physical in it, although it may sound so.
Though Prema functions in all the twelve Sthayi-Bhavas, i.e.
permanent sentiments, viz. five primary, i.e. (1) Santa, (2) Dasya, (3) Sakhya, (4) Vatsalya, and (5) Madhurya, and seven secondary, i.e. (6) Hasya, (7) Karuna, (8) Raudra, (9) Vira, (10) Bhayankara, (11) Vibhatsa, and. (12) Adbhuta, it is essentially in Madhurya-Sthayi-Bhava-Rati only that it rolls ever more, on and on, in all the manifold fine shades and ripples. Therefore, Madhurya-Bhava has been accepted to be the highest expression of Prema in the realm of the Absolute Divinity. Shri Rupa Gosvami has, therefore, dealt with this aspect of Prema as expressed in the various shades of Madhurya-Bhava beginning from Prema and reaching up to Mahabhava, separately in his Ujjvala-Nilamani. Whereas the Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh deals up to Prema, beginning from the lowest step of Sraddha in the ladder of the spiritual sadhana of Bhakti of the highest order. Here we shall give a very short note on Madhura-Rati culminating in Mahabhava as described in the Ujjvala-Nilamani.
The Supreme Transcendental and sole enjoyer of the supramundane Erotic Sentiments finds His highest expressions in Madhura-Bhava, also called Madhura-Rati, which is a Sthayi-Bhava or permanent feeling. In this Madhura-Sthayi-Bhava, Shri Krishna is the only Subject6, and the transcendental damsels of Vraja are the Objects.7 When the Madhura-Sthayi-Bhava combines with the four ingredients of Vibhava, Anu-Bhava, Sattvika and Sancari, it is then called MADHURYA-PREMA or SRNGARA-RASA. As already stated, all these conceptions have nothing mundane about them, and they are technical expressions of the supra-mundane realm of the Supreme Godhead and can be experienced only by genuine spiritual practices. By any application of the cognitional and emotional faculties of the mind, however developed and refined, Prema can never be understood, much less realized. Here the Means and the End must be one and the same. It has to be unfolded and awakened from within the innate nature of the eternal self and cannot be got from without. These technical expressions will therefore, be explained, as far as humanly possible, in a glossary, and in the body of the book we shall use the original expressions. It will be a mistake to attempt to render these expressions in common English equivalents, which will only relate to human love, which is sensual lust. We must draw a thick line between sensual and transcendental; between sensual love, which is another name far lust, and Divine Prema.
The Divine gopis, the eternal damsels of Vraja are eternally freed souls, and are associated parts of Shri Krishna, as distinct from His separated parts, i.e. the individual finite souls. Each one of them has a supra-mundane personality, and they conceive themselves in their unmarried Maidenhood or married Wifehood or unrestricted Mistresshood in relation to the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna who is their Beloved. When Prema is discussed, it must always be remembered that it has nothing to do with any love affair between a man and a woman of this world, however noble it might appear to be. The love-relation between a man and woman in this world is sensual lust, while the Prema between
the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, the Godhead, and the supra mundane Damsels of Vraja is absolutely transcendental. Love of this world, in any form, is definitely lust in different forms and degrees and can be compared with the dense darkness of the 15th day of the dark-fortnight, while Prema of Vraja and of the Damsels of Vraja are bright like the midday sun. With this preliminary background we now proceed to discuss Prema in Madhura-Rati.
The clever and intriguing nature of the Damsels of Vraja is eternal and innate in their very existence. Though Prema is their normal characteristic, yet the under-mentioned seven causes and conditions make Prema manifest itself in them:
(1) Abhiyoga: Complaint. To make one's inner sentiments known either by oneself or thorough someone else as by way of complaint or abhiyoga to Shri Krishna in Madhura-Rati.
(2) Visaya: Subject.8 Voice, Touch, Form, Taste and Smell of Shri Krishna are the “Subjects" of Madhura-Rati and are its roots, i.e. these, viz. Voice, Touch, Form, Taste and Smell of Shri Krishna dominate the reciprocal senses of the damsels of Vraja in Madhura-Rati.
(3) Sambandha: Relation. Madhurya-Rati is aroused by-Family, Supra-mundane Body, Heroism, Civility etc., which are related to Shri Krishna.
(4) Abhimana: Feeling as their own. In spite of the presence of other beautiful objects, the Damsels of Vraja cherish a determined and sensitive decision that Shri Krishna alone is the only Subject of attainment. This feeling that Shri Krishna is their own arouses Madhura-Rati in them.
(5) Tadiya Visesa: His Specialties. Rati is awakened by the sight of the Foot-prints of Shri Krishna, His Vraja and His dear Associates and Companions, etc.
(6) Upama: Comparison. Madhura-Rati is kindled in the heart of the Damsels of Vraja at the sight of any object, which has even the slightest likeness with the Form and Beauty of Shri Krishna.
(7) Svabhava: Natural. When Rati wakes up spontaneously in the heart of the Vraja-gopis without any exterior causes, it is called svabhava or normal nature of Madhurya-Rati. This Svabhava has again two forms, viz.
(i) Nisarga: Causal. The various impressions that grow from a culture of day-and-night listening to and meditation upon the Form, Qualities, etc. of Shri Krishna.
(ii) Svarupa: Innate. A normal and spontaneous Madhura-Rati is independent of any such listening to or meditating upon Shri Krishna, and is called Svarupa-Svabhava or innate nature of Madhura-Rati, which is again of three forms, viz.
(a) Krishna-Nistha: Krishna as the Subject of Rati. When the Damsel of Vraja do not hide the character and qualities of Shri Krishna from anybody except the devils and the demons, and when they expose their Rati for Shri Krishna amongst themselves, it is called Krishna-Nistha.
(b) Lalana-Nistha: Vraja gopis as the object of rati. When the damsels of Vraja have an independent and normal rati for Shri Krishna without any previous knowledge of Him or without previously listening to anything about Him, or without previously seeing Him, it is called lalana-nistha svarupa-svabhava of Madhura-Rati. It is a specialty of the damsels of Vraja.
(c) Ubhaya-Nistha: Mutually devoted. When Bhava or Rati is aroused in the hearts of the beautiful Damsels of Vraja (Vraja-Lalana) at the sight of Shri Krishna, and similar reciprocal bhava is aroused in the heart of Shri Krishna at the sight of the Damsels of Vraja, it is called Ubhaya-Nistha Svarupa-Svabhava.
The above mentioned seven causes of Madhura-Rati have been stated only to show its super-excellence in amatory gestures, though in fact the Madhura-Bhava of the Damsels of Vraja is innate and normal, and their attachment does not depend on any cause whatsoever.
There are three forms of Madhura-Rati of an individual soul (atma), conceiving itself as inspired by the feeling of womanhood or mistresshood.
(a) SADHARANI-RATI: The rati, i.e. the permanent sentiment or sthayi-bhava that is not very much deep and that is generally aroused by the sight of Shri Krishna alone, and that is pregnant with a thirst for love-sports with the Lord is called Sadharani-Rati. Its climax is up to Prema only, as already explained under heading ix. The Rati that was aroused in Kubja's heart at the very sight of Shri Krishna when the Lord was going to the amphitheater of King Kamsa to kill him, is an example of this Sadharani-Rati, which is indeed very rare and valued like a jewel (mani).
(b) SAMANJASA-RATI: This Rati is very very rare like the fabulous gem that grants the possessor whatever maybe wished for (cinta-mani). Here the Rati is deep in the feeling of married wifehood, as in the caste of the Queens of Dvaraka, such as Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati and others, in their relation with the Supreme Lord. This Samanjasa-Rati is wakened in the heart on listening to the glories and qualities of Shri Krishna. There is also occasional desire for love-sports with the Lord. The Queens of Dvaraka are the objects of Samanjasa-Rati, and it reaches to the stage of Anu-Raga in the gradual superior order of Prema, Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga and Anu-Raga, and does not reach Bhava and Mahabhava.
(c) SAMARTHA RATI: This Rati is possible in the damsels of Vraja alone, and nowhere else. It is supremely one without a second like the Kaustubha-mani, the jewel that adorns the breast of Shri Krishna. As the Kaustubha-jewel cannot be found anywhere but on the breast of Shri Krishna alone, so also this Samartha-Rati is possible with the damsels of Vraja only. By its distinctive characteristic of an inconceivable luminous quality, which is lacking in Sadharani and Samanjasa- Rati, Samartha-Rati overwhelms and charms Shri Krishna and thereby subdues Him completely. Here there is no possible gap for any thirst for union with the Lord, because here Samarthana-Rati and the supreme union are merged into one. This Rati is exceedingly profound and deep beyond one’s imagination. From the faintest smell of this Samartha-Rati, the gopis forget all about themselves, their hearth and home, their supposed husbands and relatives. Here everything they have and all their efforts are directed to this one end, namely to increase the pleasures of Shri Krishna alone. There is not the slightest tinge of self-enjoyment. The maturity of Samartha-Rati grows into Prema, Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga, Anu-raga and Mahabhava. Here ‘Prema’ should be understood to be Madhura-Prema and not Prema in any other Sthayi-Bhava-Rati.
MADHURA-PREMA: The intense tie of attachment between the Subject of Prema, i.e. Visaya or Predominating Nayaka or Enjoyer Krishna only, and the Object of Prema, i.e. dominated Asraya Nayikas or the Enjoyed Damsels of Vraja alone and none else, is such that it never ceases, even though there be grave causes for such breach between the Subject and the Object of Sthai-Bhava in Madhura Prema. Madhura-prema is the relation between the Supreme Godhead as the transcendental and supra-mundane paramour and the Divine Damsels of Vraja, the gopis, in their All-cit, i.e. spiritual supra-mundane eternal bodies as Mistresses. This Paramourhood of Shri Krishna and the Mistresshood of the Vraja-gopis is the climax of Madhura-Prema in the transcendental Realm of the Highest Divinity Shri Krishna, and it excels the relation of the Husbandhood of the Godhead Shri Krishna and the
Wifehood of the Queens of Dvaraka.
MADHRA-PREMA has three aspects, viz.
(i) Praudha-Prema, i.e. Prema in its full maturity. In this stage, separation between the Object and the Subject of Prema becomes unbearable to the point of death.
(ii) Madhya-Prema, i.e. Prema in its middle aspect, in which separation between the Subject and the Object is painfully endured by hard penance.
(iii) Manda-Prema, i.e. Prema of an inferior nature, in which there are occasional lapses of oblivion about things related to the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna.
MADHURA PREMA unfolds itself into its successively ascending aspects of (X) Sneha, (XI) Mana, (XII) Pranaya, (XIII) Raga, (XIV) Anu-Raga, (XV) Bhava, and (XVI) Mahabhava. These we shall explain here in a few short paragraphs from Shri Rupa Gosvami's Ujjvala-Nilamani. Here we must again repeat by way of caution that the subject matter of Madhura-Prema is completely beyond phenomenal associations, gross physical actions, subtle mental emotions, and far beyond the scope of all human sense experience. It can be realized on its own level only by those freed souls who are eligible for it.
In the science of spiritual life, the stages of sadhana or spiritual practices from (I) Sraddha to (IV) Anartha-Nivrtti concern gradual progressive stages of a self-forgetful soul from its state of bondage to its stage of self-awakening. From (V) Nistha to (VIII) Bhava the individual reaches the plane of transcendence, fully realizes its own true finite self as distinct from the mundane body and the changeable mind-intelligence-ego, and transcends the thought world of sense experiences and is blessed with the first flash of the Lord's Personal appearance before him. In the stage of (IX) Prema_Bhakti, and not Madhura-Prema, the soul has attained both self-realization and God- realization. When Prema further develops, it leads one to the supra-mundane (aprakrta) Realm of Shri Krishna, who has no material body, but possesses an Eternal and Aprakrta Body of His own, which appears like a human form but is completely different from it since similarity in appearance does not necessarily mean identity.
In the supra-mundane or Aprakrta Realm of Vraja in relation to Absolute Beatitude or Madhurya-Murti of Shri Krishna, and in Mathura and Dvaraka in relation to His Majesties-cum-Beatitude, the conceptions of eternal relationships of the Counter-Wholes and the Associate Counter Parts of the Godhead with God Himself have already been described as (1) Santa, (2) Dasya, (3) Sakhya, (4) Vatsalya, and (5) Madhura. These conceptions of relation with God must not therefore be dragged down to the level of similar but perverse relationships in this mundane world. Prema has its highest unfolding in two forms, i.e. (a) in the concept of the "married wifehood", and (b) in the supra-mundane or Aprakrta concepts of "unmarried maidenhood" and “married mistresshood”. The subject has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the perverted love-relations in this world of changeable phenomena. A true conception and realization of Prema can be possible only on the plane of transcendence, and can be aroused in the heart of a freed or mukta jiva-atma only. People given to sensuality in any form, who try to understand it by sense-applications, must not dabble in Prema. As already said, from similar sounding expressions, one must not hurry to identify them. Prema and kama, or sensual love in any form, are on two different levels. Prema is possible in the transcendental realm of God alone, while kama or sensual love is on the plane of mundane senses. It will be an utter mistake to attempt to understand Prema in terms of the knowledge of mundane love or lust (be it human or animal). It is only by honest and earnest spiritual practices or sadhana that an individual may gradually climb the different steps of the ladder, from the lowest step of Sraddh to the highest step of Prema. A mere jump from the lowest to the highest, from kama or mundane love (which is only another form of mundane lust) to Prema will simply hurl one into the abyss of mundane lust, and such a person can never realize and relish the mellow-sweetness of supra mundane Krishna-Prema. With this repeated caution to the readers we now proceed to discuss the ascending stages in the development of Prema.
(X) SNEHA: When the lamp of Prema illuminates Shri Krishna and it attains a state of excellence, and makes the inner organs of the Asraya or Object of Prema melt, then such Prema is called Sneha. When Sneha is kindled in the heart, there is no quenching of the ever-new thirst for seeing the Lord. This Sneha is of two varities, (a) Ghrta-Sneha, and (b) Madhu-Sneha.
(a) Ghrta-Sneha: literally means “affection as tender as clarified butter.” When sneha becomes exceedingly endearing, and the object of Prema, i.e. the Asraya expresses her sentiments as “I am Thine”, it is called Ghrta-Sneha. Shri Candravali is the Asraya or Object of this Prema.
(b) Madhu-Sneha: literally means “affection as tender and sweet as honey.” When Sneha becomes expressive of the sentiment of.”Thou art mine", it is called Madhu-Sneha. Here is a sense of the most intense feeling of "myness", such as, "Thou art mine.', "Thou have many, but I have none but Thee". Madhu-Sneha itself a personification of bliss and charm, many aspect of Rasa are simultaneously existent in it. Shri Radha Herself is the only Object or Asraya of this Madhu-Sneha.
(XI) MANA: When Sneha overflows in super-excellent manner and a new beatitude and sweetness in the loveliness of Shri Krishna are relished which had not hitherto been felt, perceived or experienced, and when the transcendental Mistress, the Object of Prema, assumes an outward demeanor of apparent indignation arising out of love-jealousy, it is called Mana. Mana is of two kinds, viz. (i) Udatta-Mana, and (ii) Lalita-Mana.
(i) Udatta-Mana: When an inordinate endearment in Ghrta-Sneha emits, as it were, the odour of perverse reasoning and sentiment of short-lived Vamya or assumed anger or displeasure, it is called Udatta-Mana. Shri Candravali is its Object or Asraya.
(ii) Lalita-Mana: When Madhu-Sneha overflows and assumes an attitude of pique and turns into a tortuous sincerity in the form of wrath and indignation excited by jealousy, it is called Lalita-Mana. Shri Radha is its Object or Asraya.
(XII) PRANAYA: When Mana reaches the stage of free sporting, and all manners of shyness and hesitation are completely removed, it is called Pranaya. In this stage of Prema, the Asraya or the Object of Madhura-Rati, the mistress perceives no distinction between her body, mind, intelligence, heart and life and those of her beloved Shri Krishna. Here it is to be noted that in Mana, Shri Radhika (same as Radha) does not speak and assume an attitude of tortuous indignation and it is only after this Mana of Shri Radhika has been appeased by Shri Krishna that Shri Radhika (who is Counter-Whole Divinity and Hladini potency of Shri Krishna Himself), gives Herself unreservedly to the Predominating Absolute Moiety Shri Krishna with all Her Body, Mind, Heart and Everything and becomes One with Him.
Pranaya can be both (a) Maitra-Pranaya, and (b) Sakhya-Pranaya. In (a) Maitra-Pranaya, the is a slight touch of respect and importance given to the Beloved Shri Krishna. Shri Candravali is the Object of this Pranaya, while Shri Radhika, as the Asraya of (b) Sakhya-Pranaya, does not have the least feeling of any superiority in Shri Krishna, Her Best Beloved.
(XIII) RAGA: When Pranay attains its highest stage, and when even the heaviest inflictions of pinches caused by Shri Krishna gives immense pleasure to the whole "mental quantum" of the transcendental Mistress, it is called Raga. Raga is either (a) Nilima (bluish) or (b) Raktima (reddish).
(a) Nilima-Raga is again of two forms, viz. Nili and Syama.
(i) Nili-Raga: There is no possibility of loss of Prema in Nili-Raga. There is no outward expression in it; rather there is always an attempt to hide one's inner feelings. Shri Candravali is the Asraya of Nila-Raga.
(ii) Syama-raga: There is more expression, and it is moistened with a certain amount of shyness and timidity, and it is delayed in its attainment. Shri Bhadra, an intimate lady-friend of Shri Candravali, is the Asraya of Syama-Raga.
(b) Raktima-Raga: It is divided into (i) Kusumbha-Raga, and (ii) Manjistha-raga.
(i) Kusumbha-Ragatmika-Raga has in it a combination of several other Ragas, and it very quickly charms the inner organs (in the plane of Prema of sources). The Asraya of this Kusumbha-Raktima-Raga is Syama, the dear lady-friend of Shri Radha.
(ii) Manjistha-Raktima-Raga can never be lost; it is never dependent on any other aspect of Raga, and it is ever progressive in its own radiance. Shri Radhika is the Asraya or Object of this Raga.
(XIV) ANU-RAGA: When the most beloved Lord Shri Krishna is constantly present before the eyes of the Asraya, and when Raga has ripples, ever fresh and ever new in manifold forms with every the twinkling of the eye, it is called Anu-Raga. The are numerous Anu-Bhavas of Anu-Raga, the Bhavas that follow in the wake of Anu-Raga, such as, (i) desire to be born as an inanimate object, (ii) mutual victory or subjugation by mutual charm, (iii) Prema-Vaicittya, i.e. a feeling of separation even in the midst of intense union, (iv) a feeling of particular alacrity and exhilaration and erotic union in the depth of the pangs of separation from the Beloved Lord.
(XV) BHAVA and (XVI) MAHABHAVA: When in the Realm of transcendental Prema, Anu-Raga attains a stage of exhilaration and relish, which can be experienced and relished by Anu-Raga itself only and by no other Bhava, and when Anu-Raga in this stage is adorned with the inflamed and exciting Sattvika or transparent (not Sattvika quality of Maya, the deluding energy of God, but here Sattvika refers to the absolutely pure and transparent quality of the cit-entity, otherwise called Visuddha-Sattva) passions like molten gold, and when this Anu-Raga reaches its climax in the supreme Asraya Shri Radhika and becomes identical with Her very temperament and dispositions, it is called Bhava, which is otherwise called Mahabhava.
Shri Radhika’s very essence is identical with Mahabhava and Mahabhava is Shri Radhika. Shri Radhika, the Supreme Hladini potency of Shri Krishna manifests Herself in eight Sakhis as Her Projected Self, i.e. the Counter-Whole projecting out into eight associate Counter-Parts, called Asta-Sakhis or eight Inseparable Lady-friends of Shri Radhiki. Hence, Mahabhava can partially be manifest in the eight Sakhis, known as Lalita, Visakha, Citra, Indurekha, Campakalata, Rangadevl, Tungavidya and Sudevi. An individual finite self, Jiva-atma, cannot attain Maha-Bhava, Anu-Raga or Raga. The individual soul being a "separated part of Lord Shri Krishna and a marginal potency". According to the philosophy of Shri Chaitanya, such an individual self in its stage of freedom from bondage and in the stage of self-realization and God-realization, is limited by its very essential nature to be in subordination to the eternal Counter-Whole and associated Counter-Parts of the Supreme Lord, called Ragatmikas. So the stage of Prema, even Madhurya-Prema that is attainable by a Jiva-atma is called Raganuga-Bhakti, i.e. their Prema, Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga, Anu-Raga are subservient to the Asraya Vigrahas. That is the Raganuga-Bhakti of an individual soul can only be in subordination to and submissive to the Ragatmikas, the eternal Counter-Whole manifestations of the Lord. In this Raganuga-Prema the individual soul finds her highest fulfillment in the realm of Prema.
Shri Radhika possesses in Herself in fullness all the qualities of the eight Nayikas (the transcendental mistress in Her eight different moods towards Her Beloved), and at the same time She distributes Her eight aspects of Nayika in eight different moods in Her own Projected Bodies, called the eight Sakhis. Shri Radhika is the Supreme Asraya or Object of Mahabhava. Mahabhava is, therefore, not possible in others, not even in the Queens of Dvaraka or in Laksmi in Vaikuntha. Mahabhava is the essential nature of the Hladini aspect of the intrinsic potency of Shri Krishna Himself. The effect of even a drop of the bliss of Mahabhava of Shri Radhika flows not merely into every sadhaka and siddha but also inundates the entire universe. There could be no ananda or bliss even in its mundane form and no human and animal pleasure without it.
MAHABHAVA is of two kinds, viz. (i) Rudha, and (ii) Adhi-rudha.
(i) Rudha-Mahabhava: When Mahabhava glows and is brightened with the external manifestations of the eight Sattvika-Bhavas of the internal sentiments, viz. tears, horripilation or thrill, stupor or motionlessness, perspiration, hoarseness of voice or indistinctiveness of utterances, tremor or heaving of breasts, change of complexion or paleness, and swoon or loss of consciousness or syncope or a fainting-fit, and when five or six of these eight Satvika-Bhavas, are simultaneously and fully manifest and the rest partially, then it is called Rudha-Mahabhava.
The following are the Anu-Bhavas, i.e. Bhavas or feelings that follow in the wake of the Rudha-Mahabhava, which are the external expressions of the internal sentiments in appropriate symptoms, such as look, gestures, etc.:
(a) Separation even for the twinkling of the eye becomes unbearable.
(b) Even a period of a kalpa of union-pleasure appears to pass
swiftly like the twinkling of an eye.
(c) Even a moment of separation appears like a very very long period of many kalpas.
(d) Stirs the hearts of persons nearby.
(e) To have a feeling of unhappiness even when Shri Krishna is absolutely satiated, lest Shri Krishna’s desires should still remain burning.
(f) Forgetfulness of oneself and one's belongings even in a state of consciousness.
(ii) Adhi-Rudha Mahabhava: When in Mahabhava all the eight Sattvika-Bhavas, mentioned above, are completely and to the utmost extent manifest and culminate in a unique experience, it is called Adhi-Rudha Mahabhava, which has two forms, viz. (a) Modana and (b) Madana.
(a) Modana-in separation. When the conditions of Modana become uncontrolled and paralyzed in separation, and when all the eight Sattvika-Bhavas, i.e. (1) stupor or motionlessness, (2) perspiration, (3) horripilation or thrill, (4) cracking of voice or indistinctness of utterances, (5) tremor or heaving of breasts, (6) change of complexion or paleness, (7) tears, (8) swoon or loss of consciousness or syncope or a fainting-fit, are fully and all at once manifest in all their fascinating bewilderment, it is called Mohana. The following are the Anu-Bhavas, i.e. the external manifestations of internal sentiments by appropriate symptoms such as look, gesture, etc. in the Mohana aspect of the Modana Adhi-Rudha Mahabhava:
(1) When the state of Mohana is aroused in Shri Radhika in Her state of separation, then Shri Krishna Himself faints even while He is in the supra-mundane embrace of other spiritual Damsels in far off places. The Supreme Lord, who is the creator and preserver of all the three worlds and with the twinkling of whose eyes the entire universe has its dissolution, even He swoons at this extraordinary Mohana state of Shri Radhika! It is simply inconceivable to any human thought or imagination.
(2) In this state of Mohana, inspite of the agonizing pangs of separation, Shri Radhika thinks only of the happiness of Shri Krishna.
(3) When these conditions are created in Shri Radhika, the entire universe is enveloped by a thick cloud of agonizing sorrow.
(4) In this separation, even the lower animals like fishes etc. begin to weep!
(5) In this state of intense pang of love-sickness in separation, and when She is, as it were, no longer alive, Shri Radhika Herself voluntarily invokes the tenth or last condition viz., Her own Death. She desires that the five elements of Her Body might, on Her death, prove to be useful for the service of Her Beloved Lord!
(6) This Mohana is unique in Shri Radhika only, who is the Counter-Whole Divinity, and this can be possible in none else, not even in Candravali or other eight Sakhis of Shri Radhika, much less in any finite self.
(7) When Mohana reaches its climax in an inexpressible condition attaining to a surpassing mood of mistaken delusion, then it is called ‘Divya Unmad’ or divine madness.
(8) This Divya Unmad or divine intoxication is expressive in manifold forms, out of which (i) Udghurna (ii) Citrajalpa are outstanding.
(i) An inexplicable effort in an impossible state of uncontrol over a wonder-struck condition of Mohana is called Udghurna, i.e. an unthinkable whirling motion as in giddiness.
(ii) When many a conflicting emotional raving of unfair arguments is resorted to by Shri Radhika out of a concealed and incomprehensible resentment at the union of Her Beloved Lord Shri Krishna with His other transcendental darlings, and at the end of which when an inrush of extreme anxiety is aroused in Her, such a
state of Shri Radhika is called Citrajalpa.
There are ten such different ravings of Shri Radhika in Her supreme state of Mohana-Prema:
(1) PRAJALPA: This is manifest in wondrous Prema-dalliance.
In Prajalpa, the Supreme Object of Prema (Asraya), Shri Radhika, belches out, as it were, at the worthlessness of Her Beloved Lord by way of various modes of intertwining of Her fingers and sweet gesticulations out of contempt combined with calumny, envy and pride!
(2) PARIJALPA: In this condition, Shri Radhika points out and tries to establish the various shortcomings in Her Beloved Krishna, such as, heartlessness, fraudulence, insincerity, fickleness, etc., and declares Her own discreet Wisdom! This is called Parijalpa.
(3) VIJALPA: In this condition, Shri Radhika hides in Her heart Her deep love-anger, and openly makes all sorts of adverse criticism of Her Beloved Lord out of sheer malevolence! It is called Vijalpa.
(4) UJJALPA: When out of Her jealousy grown out of pride, Shri Radhika describes the various instances of insincerity of Her beloved Lord and casts aspersions against Him, it is called Ujjalpa!
(5) SANJALPA: In this condition. Shri Radhika uses imperious, harsh and slashing words, and calls Her Beloved Lord, “ungrateful”! This is Sanjalpa.
(6) AVAJALPA: In this condition of Citrajalpa, Shri Radhika, out of Her menacing envy, describes He vain attempts to withdraw Her Attachment (Asakti) from Her most Beloved Lord even after realizing His stony heart, blind passions and trickery! This is Avajulpa.
(7) ABHIJALPA: In this condition. Shri Radhika bemoans the behavior of Her Beloved Lord, which pains even the birds! This is Abhijalpa.
(8) AJALPA: In this condition, owing to absolute indifference to everything, and in self-repentance, Shri Radhika describes the insincerity and pain-giving nature of Her Beloved Lord, and She refuses by gestures of Her Limbs even to listen to the tidings of Her most Beloved Shri Krishna! This is called Ajalpa.
(9) PRATIJALPA: In this condition, Shri Radhika bemoans that when Her Beloved Lord cannot live even for a moment without the company of other Nayikas, then it will be unwise for a mistress to seek union with Him, and in the same breath She cordially welcomes the messenger from Her Beloved! It is called Pratijalpa.
(10) SUJALPA: In this condition, Shri Radhika, because of Her inherent simplicity of the heart, inquires again from the imaginary Messenger of Shri Krishna with mental composure, modesty of character and tremulousness of the whole mental quantum, about the welfare of Her most beloved Lord Shri Krishna! This is sujulpa.
All these ten conditions of Citrajalpa in the Mohana state of Adhi-Rudha-Mahabhava of Shri Radhika have been described in the famous "Bhramara-Giti" in the Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chapter 47, slokas 12-21. Shri Radhika in Her state of Citrajalpa addressed a large black bee, mistaking it to be a Messenger from Her Cruel Beloved!
(b) Madana Mahabhava: When all the sentiments starting from Rati (Sthayi-Bhava Madhura-Rati), which is the essence of the Hladini potency of Shri Krishna (the gladdening potency), and going up to Mahabhava are pleasantly and fully bloomed, and when such a state excels all the aspects of Modana and Mohana in Adhi-Rudha Mahabhava, then it is known as Madana. This is possible only in Shri Radhika.
The various movements of Madana are as complex and difficult as Shri Krishna Himself. Even Shri Bharata Muni and Shri Sukadeva Gosvami, who wrote on the Rasa, failed to explain it frilly and clearly. Madana Mahabhava appears in the Union between the transcendental and supra-mundane (aprakrta) Subject (Visaya) and Object (Asraya) Shri Krishna and Shri Radhika only. There are thousands of shades of this eternal pastime of Prema and its active functionings. The wondrous and extraordinary manifestations of Madana are impossible elsewhere. In other aspects of Madhura-Rati, the conditions of "separation" and "union" exist differently, and they are also differently and distinctly felt. For example, in ‘union’ Shri Radhika realizes and feels that She is being enjoyed by the Supreme Lord and that She is the "Object" of this Divine Union, while in the pang of “separations”, She realizes that She is a Mistress separated from Her Beloved. But in Madana-Mahabhava, there is the simultaneous feeling of manifold shades of pleasures in “union” and limitless ripples of pangs in “separation”. Even when She realizes the various expressions of Prema-dalliance, such as embrace, etc., She experiences at the same time various degrees of pangs of separation. There is simultaneous separation in union, and union in separation. This has absolutely nothing to do with mundane love or physical existence. It is incomprehensible to human imagination. It is the highest super-excellence of the Divine Love in the Realm of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna.
The Anu-Bhavas, i.e. the Bhavas or feelings that follow in the wake of Madana-Mahabhava of Shri Radhika are:
(i) To be envious of the unenviable flute and forest flower garland when they are found in the Body of Shri Krishna!
(ii) To sing the fortune of any blade of grass or any little creeper of Vraja when it may have accidentally been touched by the Feet of Shri Krishna, even though She Herself may at that moment be uninterruptedly in the close embrace of the Lord!
(iii) To feel a simultaneous pleasure at the reciprocal functioning of all the Senses of the Lord in relation to Her, i.e. all the cit Senses of the Object-Divinity relishing all the reciprocal supra-mundane Senses of the Subject-Divinity, as well as every sense possessing the capacity of every other Sense. This most supreme conception of PREMA as MADANA-MAHABHAVA is possible in Shri Radhika alone. This is the supreme climax of Divine Prema, which was never before known in this world, and it was the unique contribution that Shri Krishna Chaitanya deva made known to the people of the Kali age. It was possible for Shri Krishna Chaitanya because He was Shri Krishna Himself, appearing with the MAHABHAVA of Shri Radhika, so that the Lord Himself could relish it.
As a finite self is not eligible for Mahabhava, Shri Rupa Gosvami has dealt with the conception of Uttama-Bhakti, or Bhakti which is of the purest and highest type, in Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh for the spiritual benefit of all. Mahabhava and Ujjvala-Rasa have been discussed separately in his Ujjvala-Nilamani, so that Mukta-Jiva or freed souls could aspire after Prema-Rasa in subservience to the Ragatmikas or the Eternally Associated Parts and Counter-Whole of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna.
If our English rendering of the Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh will help our readers in understanding the true character of unalloyed Bhakti the Lord will bless us. With this humble prayer, we place this book before unbiased readers of the English knowing world.