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Eighth Shower of Nectar
From the creeper of bhakti, which first sprouted two leaves during sadhana bhakti, many smooth petals now suddenly appear in the form of anubhavas (the symptoms of ecstasy) attached to the flower of bhava. These anubhavas are filled with the devotional processes, such as hearing and chanting, and shine brilliantly at every moment. First forming the flower called bhava, they finally bring forth the fruit called prema. But what is most astonishing about the creeper of bhakti is, though its leaves, buds, flowers and fruits mature into the succeeding form, they do not give up their original forms. Together they shine in newer and newer ways.
The devotee's innumerable —citta vritti— thoughts were previously bound tightly by the ropes of attachment to family, relatives, house and properties. However when prema appears, it easily frees the thoughts from all those attachments. By its inherent power, prema transforms those material emotions, into spiritually blissful elements, as if submerging them all in a deep well of transforming nectar. Similarly, all the attachments become spiritualized. Then, with those roes of spiritual attachment, prema binds the spiritualized emotions to the sweetness of the Lord's name, form and qualities. Prema manifests its brilliance in this way and immediately puts all material ideals (purushhartha) to shame as the sun puts to shame all the constellations in the sky. The nectar which comes from the fruit of prema has the essential quality of concentrated bliss (sandrananda), and its outstanding nourishing property is its power to attract Krishna (krishnakarshani. When the devotee begins to taste that nectar, he does not take heed of any obstacles. Like a miser feverish for treasure, like a thief who has lost all sense of discretion out of absorption in his job, the devotee loses all sense of self-consciousness. —Sometimes, there is an impatience for obtaining the Lord, like a hunger which cannot be satisfied even by eating the most tasty foods day and night. Thedevotee burns like the sun by that anxiety. He is soothed only by tasting the form, qualities and sweetness of the Lord, which make a momentary appearance, like the coolness of a thousand moons.
The prema which exists in the devotee, the receptacle of prema, is vey astonishing in that simultaneously even its slightest increase pierces the devotee like a shaft in the form of anxiety by which the devotee at every moment longs for the direct darshan of the Lord, and at the same time, by the intense manifestation of that prema, that shaft is burned by the realization (sphurti) of the form, pastimes and sweetness of the Lord. Still he remains unsatisfied.
Simultaneously, this prema, arising from its own reservoir, increases slightly, and the devotee longs for direct contact with the Lord at every moment. This hankering burns like a conflagration and tears his body like a sharp arrow. By the intensity of his longing for the Lord he remains unsatisfied with the momentary vision of the Lord's form, qualities and sweetness.
He considers friends as useless as a dry, overgrown well, and his household becomes like a thorn-filled forest. (heavy blow) Food beomes totally distasteful. Praise from other devotees is like the biting of a snake. Daily duties become difficult to perform like death. All the limbs of his body become like an unmanageable burden.The consolation of his comrades is like poison. Even though he remains constantly awake, wakefulness is an ocean of repentance, and his sleep seems to be simply fleeing (destroying) from life. His body seems the taret of chastisement for the Lord. His life airs become as lifeless as roasted grains. What he previously took as his life's goal is abandoned as great calamity. Even thinking of the Lord tears his body asunder.
Then prema, assuming the form of a magnet, attracts black Krishna and makes Him appear to the devotee for a moment. At that time, all the senses of the devotee (eyes, nose, ears, tongue, sense of touch) become the receptacles of all the auspicious qualities of Krishna. His supreme beauty, fragrance, melody, youthfulness, tastiness, audarya and karunya. From tasting the extreme sweetness and ever-freshness of these qualities of the Lord, a greater longing, which at every momenincreases, is born in the devotee because of his prema. Poetic words are not adequate to describe the ocean of trancendental bliss which appears at this time.
A traveller on a desert path, burned by the sun's rays during the hot season, finds shelter in a cool place supplied with a hundred vessels of ice-water from a divine pool under the shade of a vast banyan tree densely tangled with branches. An elephant caught in a forest fire without escape is finally bathed by unlimited water from a bank of rain clouds. A person afflicted by mortal disease and craving satisfaction, drinks the nectar, tastes its exquisite sweetness, and experiences unbounded bliss. This cannot be compared...
Then Lord reveals first His beauty (saundarya) to the eyes of the devotee in this remarkable condition. On account of the sweetness of that beauty, all the senses and the mind take on the quality of eyes, and obstacles, such as paralysis, shaking and tears, are generated. From this the devotee swoons in bliss. To console the devotee, the Lord next reveals His fragrance to the nostrils of the devotee, and all the devotee's senses take on the quality of the nose to smell. Again the devotee swoons in bliss. The Lord then reveals His sonorous voice to the devotee's ears: Oh My devotee, I am under your control. Don't be overwhelmed, but fully satisfy your desire by relishing Me. All the senses become like ears to hear and, for the third time, the devotee faints. At the beginning of the swoon, the Lord then mercifully gives the touch of His lotus feet, His hands and His breast to the devotee, and reveals His fresh youthfulness (saukaumarya) to the devotee. To those in the mood of servitude, He bestows His lotus feet on their heads, to those in the mood of friendship, He grasps their hands with His. For those in the mood of parental affection, He wipes away their tears with His own hand. For those in conjugal mood, He rewards them with His embrace, touching them with His hands and chest. Then the devotee's senses all take on the sense of touch and the devotee faints for a fourth time in a deep swoon. At the start of the swoon, the Lord then restores him by giving the taste (saurasya) from His own lips. This, however, is revealed only to those in the conjugal mood. The devotee's senses take on the sense of taste and he faints for a fifth time. This blissful swoon is so deep that the Lord must revive him by bestowing His audarya (generosity). Audarya refers to the state in which simultaneously all of the Lord's qualities (His beauty, fragrance, sound, touch and taste) suddenly manifest themselves to the devotee's various senses.
At that time, prema, which understands the will of the Lord, increases to the exreme and there is a corresponding extreme increase in the craving.
That prema presides as a moon over the ocean of bliss and simultaneousy it increases hundreds and hundreds of waves and it agitates and creates an almost destructive friction in the devotee's heart. It then becomes the beautiful ruling deity of his mind in that condition...
This increased prema, which usually controls everything as the moon presides over the ocean, then seems to withdraw its powers. It creates in the devotee's heart an almost destructive friction andtearing amongst the simultaneous tastes, a conflict of a hundred waves in the ocean of bliss. Then again, prema assumes the role of ruler, the presiding deity, and manifests its specific power which allows the devotee to experience the different tastes simultaneously and without conflict. One should not think that the devotee will not be able to experience with fullness of all the tastes because of their multitude which may cause dilution of the very tastes. Rather, all the senses attain the inconceivable, astonishing, extraordinary quality to perform the functions of the other senses to appreciate the Lord's various qualities. In this way, they can experience more intensely the taste. In these matters, one cannot use material arguments evolved from material experiences. The inconceivable conditions of rema are not subject to mundane logic (acintya.....Even if the devotee wishes to relish all types of sweetness, of saundarya, etc., all at once, but like a chataka bird wans to drink all raindrops by his beak which is impossible. The devotee tries to experience the sweet tastes of the Lord's beauty, fragrance, sound, touch, taste and audarya all at once like the chataka bird who tries to catch all the rain drops in his beak. Then the Lord, seeing that all cannot find room in His devotee, considers, "Why am I holding so many wonderful qualities with My self." To let the devotee also partake of them all, the Lord manifests is kripa shakti (also called anugraha), the superintendent of all the shaktis, by which the devotee becomes attractive even to the Lord. This shakti is situated like an empress the middle of a lotus whose eight petals are the eight shaktis (vimala, utkarshini, jnana, kriya, yoga, prahvi, satya, and isani). This anugraha decorates itself in the eyes of the Lord and it appears in different forms as vatsalya (affection) in relation to His devotees in the mood of servant, etc. (dasa, sakha, etc.). In some cases it appears as karunya (compassion). When it appears to in relation to the devotees in conjugal mood itis known as citta-viddravini akarshani shakti (which melts the heart of Krishna and attracts Him). Sometimes according to the different moods of the different devotees it is known by other nams also. By this kripa-shakti, the all-pervading element of the Lord's free will influences the heart and causes great astonishment even in those realized souls who are fully self-satisfied atmaramas. By this energy, the one quality called bhakta vatsalya (affection for His devotees), like an emperor, rules over all auspicious, spiritual qualities such as satya, shaucha, daya and tapas mentioned in the First Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
The eighteen condemned qualities of illusion, laziness, error, intense lust, fickleness, arrogance, envy, violence, exertion, lamentation, dishonesty, anger, longing, fear, partiality, and dependency on others are not present in the body of the Lord. By the agency of this bhakta vatsalya, however, even these qualities become present at times in various avataras, such as Rama and Krishna, and are appreciated by the devotees. But now these faults become excellent qualities.
Attaining the power to taste completely the beauty, fragrance, etc. of the Lord, and tasting each one, the devotee ascends to higher and higher peaks of astonishing experience. His heart melts on incessant realization of the Lord's unheard of bhakta vatsalya. The Lord, displaying His wonderful nature, says, "Oh best of devotees, many births you have given up wife, house and wealth for the sake of My service. You endured the miseries of cold, wind, hunger, thirst and pain, tolerated the contempt of other men, taking to a life of begging. In payment for all your sacrifice, I cannot given you anything. I have become your debtor. Since lordship over the whole earth in the post of demigod and mystic powers are unsuitable for you, how can I give them to you? One cannot give grass and straw, the enjoyment of cows, to a spiritual personality such as you. Though I am unconquerable, today I have been conquered by you. I am taking shelter of the creeper of your gentleness."
Accepting the sweet, affectionate words of the Lord as the ornaments of his ears, the devotee says, "Oh my Lord, my master, oh ocean of unfathomable mercy! You glanced upon me while I was being bitten by an array of crocodiles, the infinite miseries of endless births and deaths amidst the terrifying current of material existence.Oh Lord, transcendental to all the material planets, Your butter-like heart melts as it is filled with mercy. In the form of spiritual master, You destroy ignorance and lust! By manifesting the Sudarsana Chakra of Your wonderful form, You have pierced those crocodiles and freed me from the clutches of their teeth. To fulfil my desire to serve Your lotus feet as a maidservat (dasi, You placed the syllables of Your mantra in my ears. You destroyed my suffering, You purified me by the process of constant hearing, chanting, and remembering Your qualities and name. You made me understand how to perform service to Yourself through the association of Your devotees. I am unintelligent, the lowest of the low, and even one day have not done You service. Such a miserly selfish person deserves to be punished. Contrary to this however, showing Your very self to me, You have made me drink nectar. You have mortified me by saying that You have become my debtor. Now I am thinking what to do. Would I be presumptuous to ask You to pardon all my offenses five, seven, eight, a thousand or a million? I can definitely say it must be more than a trillion. Just let all the reactions to my past activities, intense and long-standing, suffered and to be suffered in the future, remain.
Previously, I compared Your dark limbs to the monsoon cloud, to the blue water lily and to the sapphire; I compared Your effulgent face to the moon, and Your tender feet, to newly sprouted leaves. Now these analogies seem like a pile of burned mustard seeds compared to a golden mountain, or like a chick pea in comparison to a touchstone, like a jackal in comparison to a lion, or a mosquito in comparison to Garuda. By my poor intelligence, I have clearly committed offense to You. Such inapt poetry meant as praise unto Yourself is accepted by the common people. But after seeing the opulence of the Shri Murti for a while I have just become shameful and like an impatient cow my voice wordings will not defile the desire creeper of your beauty with the teeth of comparison. I am like an unsettled cow threatened by the sudden appearance of Your form. But I cannot defile the desire tree of Your beauty even with my destructive comparisons."
In this way, the devotee praises the Lord, and the Lord becomes more pleased with the devotee. Then He reveals all the favorable accoutrements necessary for the devotee's particular relation to the Lord, imbued with excellent rasa: Shri Vrindavana, the desire tree, the maha yoga pitha, the most dear daughter of Vrishabhanu, Her associates such as Lalita and her manjaris, His own friends such as Subala, the cows maintained by Him, the Yamuna River, Govardhana, forests such as Bhandira, Nandishvara Hill, all the mothers, fathers, brothers, friends and servants there, and the other vrajavasis. The Lord submerges the devotee in the enchanting tidal wave of bliss and then disappears with His entourage.
Recovering consciousness after some moments, the devotee, anxious to see the Lord again, opens his eyes, and not seeing the Lord, he begins crying. "Was I merely dreaming? No, no, I was not dreaming, because I have neither drowsiness, nor any contamination in my eyes from sleep. Was it some hallucination? No, for a hallucination could never give real bliss. Or was it from some defect in the mind? No, because all the symptoms of unsteady mind are absent. Was it the fulfillment of some material desire? No, no material fancy could ever approach what I have seen. Was it a momentary meeting with the Lord? No, because it is completely different from all previous visions of the Lord that I remember." In this way, the devotee remains in uncertainty. Lying upon the dusty earth, he prays constantly for the same experience. Not obtaining it, he laments, weeps, rolls on the ground, wounds his own body, faints, recovers, stands, sits, runs about, and wails like a madman. Sometimes he remains silent like a sage and sometimes like a social misfit, he fails to perform his daily obligatory duties. Like a person possessed of spirits, he talks incoherently. Unto a devotee friend who comes asking privately what is the matter, he explains what he has experienced. He recovers for a moment, and the friend explains, "That was, by good fortune, a direct meeting with the Lord." Satisfied with that explanation, he becomes happy.
Then again he laments, "No longer do I have that association. Was it a shower of mercy from some great devotee of the Lord upon this unlucky soul? Or was it by mere chance, or was it the result of some past honest endeavor? Or perhaps it was simply the causeless mercy of the Lord. By some indescribable fortune I have attained the Lord, but then, because of a grave offense, I have lost Him again. Without life, without intelligence, I cannot ascertain the truth. Where shall I go? What shall I do and how? Whom to ask? I am completely vacant, without soul, without shelter, scorched by a conflagration. The three worlds seem to be devouring me. Giving up this worldly association, I will live in solitude for some time."
Doing this, he laments further. "Oh lotus-faced Lord, You are possessed of streams of nectar, bedecked with fragrant garlands which scent all the forests, attracting swarms of vibrating bees! Just for a moment may I serve Your Lordship again? Having once tasted Your sweetness, I cannot aspire for anything else.”
He begins to roll on the ground, breathe heavily, faint, and lose his mind. Suddenly seeing the Lord everywhere, he rejoices, embraces, laughs, dances and sings, and when the Lord disappears again, he becomes illed with remorse, and weeps. Behaving in this way, he withdraws his very life symptoms and he loses awareness of whether he has a ody or not. Then, not aware that his material body has passed to the elements, he understands only that his desired Lord, the ocean of mercy, has manifested Himself. Engaging him in service, He is leading him to His own house. Thus the devotee reaches the final goal.
adau sraddha tatah sadhu sango'tha
bhajana kriya tato' nartha nivrttih
sya tato nistha rucis tatah athasaktis
tato bhavas tatah premabhyudacati
First appearsfaith, then association with devotees, devotional activities, clearing of obstacles, steadiness, taste, attachment, bhava and finally prema.
The stages of devotion mentioned in this verse have been described as they are. Sneha, mana pranaya, raga, anuraga, and mahabhava, successively specialized tastes, are progressively higher fruits on the creeper of bhakti. Because the material body of the devotee cannot tolerate the friction of extremes of all those tastes, they are not manifested in his body. Thus these tastes have not been described here. Ruchi, asakti, bhava and prema, which can be experienced, have already been described. The scriptural quotations have not been supplied, however, as this would create an obstacle in comprehension of those states. They are upplied now.
tasmins tada labdha rucer mahamune
priyasravasy askhalita matir mama
“O great sage, as soon as I got a taste of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, my attention to hear of the Lord was unflinching.” (SB 1.5.27)
gunesu saktam bandhaya
ratam va pumsi muktaye
“The state in which the consciousness of the living entity is attracted by the three modes of material nature is called life. But when that same consciousness is attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one is situated in the consciousness of liberation.” (SB 3.25.15)
priya sravasy anga mama bhavad ratih
“Thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step.” (SB 1.5.26)
ananda samplave lano
napasyam ubhayam mune
“O Vyasadeva, at that time, being exceedingly overpowered by feelings of happiness, every part of my body became separately enlivened. Being absorbed in an ocean of ecstasy, I could not perceive either myself or the Lord.” (SB 1.6.17)
symptoms of ruchi:
ta ye pibanty avitrso
nrpa gahha karnais
tan na sprsanty asana
trh ubhaya soka mohah
“They drink with attentive ears, without being satis-fied, O King, and they are not touched by fear, lamentation and illusion.” (SB 4.29.40)
symptoms of asakti:
srnvan subhadrani rathanga paner
janmani karmani ca yani loke
gatani namani tad arthakani
gayan vilajjo vicared asangah
“An intelligent person who has controlled his mind and conquered fear should give up all attachment to material objects such as wife, family and nation. He should wander freely without embarrassment, hearing and chanting the holy names of the Lord, the bearer of the chariot wheel.” (SB 11.2.39)
symptoms of bhava:
yatha bhramyaty ayo brahman
tatha me bhramyate cetas
“O brahmanas, as iron attracted by a magnetic stone moves automatically toward the magnet, my consciousness, having been changed by His will, is attracted by Lord Vishnu, who carries a disc in His hand. Thus I have no independence.” (SB 7.5.14)
symptoms of prema:
evam vratah sva priya nama kartya
jatanurago druta citta uccaih
hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty
unmadavan nrtyati loka bahyah
“When a person is actually advanced and takes pleasure in chanting the holy name of the Lord, who is very dear to him, he is agitated and loudly chants the holy name. He also laughs, cries, becomes agitated and chants just like a madman, not caring for outsiders.” (SB 11.2.40)
momentary vision of the Lord:
pragayatah sva varyani
tartha padah priya sravah
ahuta iva me saghram
darsanam yati cetas
“The Supreme Lord Krishna, whose glories and activities are pleasing to hear, at once appears on the seat of my heart, as if called for, as soon as I begin to chant His holy activities.” (SB 1.6.33)
association of the Lord:
pasyanti te me rucirany amba santah
prasanna vaktraruna locanani
rupani divyani vara pradani
sakam vacam sprhanayam vadanti
“O My Mother, My devotees always see the smiling face of My form, with eyes like the rising morning sun. They like to see My various transcendental forms, which are all benevolent, and they also talk favorably with Me.” (SB 3.25.35)
The devotee's reaction to associating with the Lord:
tair darsanayavayavair udara
vilasa haseksita vama suktaih
hrtatmano hrta pranams ca bhaktir
anicchato me gatim anva prayunkte
“Upon seeing the charming forms of the Lord, smiling and attractive, and hearing His very pleasing words, the pure devotee almost loses all other consciousness. His senses are freed from all other engagements, and he becomes absorbed in devotional service. Thus in spite of his unwillingness, he attains liberation without separate endeavor.” (SB 3.25.36)
vaso yatha parikrtam madiramadandhah (SB 11.13.36)
These verses taken from Bhagavatam should be considered.
The substance of this is as follows.Ahankara is of two types: ahanta (consciousness of I) and mamata (consciousness of mine). By jnana these two are destroyed and liberation is attained. By directing these two towards body (I am this body), house (this is my house), etc. bondage results.
I am the follower of the Lord. I am the servant of the Lord. The Lord with His associates, an ocean of sweetness with His form, qualities and pastimes is to be served by me. If one thinks in this way, identifying oneself as the Lord's servant and making the Lord along with His associates are the object of one's possession, it is called prema. Prema is in this way distinct from both bondage and liberation, and is properly called the crown jewel of all human goals. There is a sequence in this.
When the materialistic aspect of ahanta and mamata is extremely deep, one remains fixed in the cycle of birth and death. When a particle of faith, by good fortune is born and one thinks of becoming a Vaishnava and serving the Lord, the materialistic aspect becomes slightly spiritualized (gandha) and the jiva becomes qualified for devotional service. At the stage of sadhu sanga, the spiritualization becomes more condensed and his material attachments are atyantiki. At the stage of anishthita bhajana kriya, the spiritualization of I and mine is specific, localized in one place, whereas the material aspect is still in full force (purna).
At the stage of nistha, spiritualization becomes detectable in many places, and the materialistic influence is still prominent (prayiki). At the stage of ruchi, spiritualization of I and mine becomes dominant, nearing completion (prayiki) and the materialistic concept of I and mine becomes localized in certain issues. At the stage of asakti, the spiritual aspect of I and mine becomes complete (purna) and the material aspect becomes a trace (gandha). At the stage of bhava, the spiritual aspect becomes thorough (atyantiki) and the material aspect becomes like an empty shadow. At the stage of prema, the spiritual aspect becomes extremely intense (paramatyantiki) and the material aspect is completely absent.
At the stage of bhajana kriya, meditation on the Lord is momentary with a tinge of material topics. At the stage of nistha meditation, there is a trace (abhas) of other topics. At the stage of ruchi, other topics are absent and the meditation is long lasting. At the stage of asakti, meditation becomes very deep. During bhava, meditation is marked with the Lord. At the stage of prema, in contrast to simply seeing the Lord, there is direct association with the Lord.
madhurya varidheh krishna
chaitanya duddhatai rasaih
iyam dhinotu madhury
maya kadambana jagat
The cloud bank has lifted the rasa from the ocean of sweetness personified, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.May the sweet bank of clouds satisfy the thirsty world by distributing that rasa.
Remaining constantly with devotees, he sits with them conversing about the nectarean pastimes of the Lord relishing and glorifying them again and again, to the exclusion of all other topics. He enters the sacred dham and becomes fixed in the pure unalloyed service of the Lord (seva-nishtha). Ignorant people think he is going crazy.
He attempts to learn the new dance step of the devotees' joyful process of meditating on and serving the Lord, and ruchi, the dance instructress, takes him by the two hands to personally teach him. Thus, he begins to experience extraordinary, unimaginable bliss. Who can describe in what realm of bliss will he reside when, in time, he is made to dance by the two head mistresses of dance, bhava and prema?
Thus ends the Eighth Shower of Nectar of Madhurya Kadambini
by Mahamahopadhyaya Shrimat Vishvanath Chakravarti discussing the
attainment of taste for devotional service.