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Dasha Mula Tattva
by Sarvabhavana dasa
All Rights Reserved
All glories to Shri Guru and Gauranga
The Ten Esoteric Truths of the Vedas
Om Vishnupada Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Translated by Shriman Sarvabhavana Dasa
Edited by Shriman Keshidamana Dasa
Dedicated to Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Ashtottara-shata Shri Shrimad Nitya-lila-pravishta A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who fourteen times garlanded the globe with the sparkling spiritual gems that are the Dasha-mula-tattva.
The importance of this book cannot be overstated, for herein, all the essential teachings of the Vedas are concisely expounded. These gems are revealed by the spiritual and intellectual brilliance of Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakura, illuminating all who will glance this way with the guiding light of Vedic truth.
In these pages, the devotion of the Thakura to Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is wonderfully predominant. However, at the time of writing, the start of the twentieth century, the effulgence of Vedic knowledge was all but covered. Misinterpretation, speculation and condemnation were the order of the day as a means of approach to the oldest literature of mankind—the sacred Vedas. Spirituality was outmoded; the darkness of materialism, godless economic development and sensual pursuits were the programme for the 'modern' age. But the Thakura would have none of that.
His life's mission became to re-establish and present in their original pristine purity the tenets of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whom he came to term as the "Eastern Saviour." During March 1486, as the full moon arose, Shri Mahaprabhu appeared in Shri Mayapur Dhama, Navadvipa, West Bengal, India. In the Vedic literature, His advent and activities are foretold, the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.5.32):
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah
"In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions."
An incarnation of the Supreme Absolute Truth, Shri Krishna, as a devotee, to teach and mercifully bestow loving devotion to Himself upon ailing mankind.
However, at the time of the Thakura, few knew and fewer still properly practiced the sublime transcendental tenets of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. The pure spiritual lila of the transcendental world, revealed particularly in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, had been misrepresented as equivalent to mundane condemnable activities. False imitationist gurus and devotees were guiding gullible fools on the path to Hell by their perverted practices—and all in the name of Shri Gaura Hari.
A renowned intellectual, poet, scholar, linguist, philosopher of Calcutta and, himself, a respected responsible Deputy Magistrate of the then British Government, were all the ornaments of Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakura, then know as Kedarnatha Datta. Yet, he studied humbly at the feet of his spiritual preceptors—in particular, Shrila Jagannatha dasa Babaji in whose heart the correct parampara understanding of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu shone brightly.
The Thakura started a vigorous campaign of Krishna consciousness helped, most notably, by his son, Bimala Prasada, who was to become the celebrated Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, the spiritual master of Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who was to spread the teaching of Mahaprabhu globally by founding of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
The undaunted efforts of Shrila Bhaktivinode knew no bounds and great success followed his heroic struggles and campaigns. Books, essays, magazines, poems, songs, and commentaries flowed like the unstoppable Ganges from his pen. Preaching centres for the distribution of the Holy name were founded and the lost site of Shri Gaura Hari's transcendental birth revealed. The nectarine beverage of pure devotion to Shri Krishna flooded the land and is now available worldwide by the efforts of his spiritual descendants. The debt we owe such a devout devotee of Shri Gaura Hari is beyond calculation; let us bow our heads at his feet hoping that the dust thereof will become our only treasure. To this day, reverence for his name increases throughout the world.
In the pages of this book stand proudly the ten pillars of the temple of Vedic Truth erected by the Thakura in his preaching work—the Dasha-mula-tattva. These ten esoteric essential truths were mined from the fertile fields of the Vedic shastra by Shri Nimai Pandit Mahaprabhu. They eloquently contain the whole gamut of Vedic knowledge and all are invited to study, memorise, contemplate and realize them for the successful practice and propagation of Krishna Consciousness. It is a central work of Vaishnavism and the blueprint of the Thakura's blessed teachings with which all spiritual aspirants should be deeply familiar.
In 1896, the Thakura himself predicted that the time was arriving when all philosophies and religions would flow into and find their fulfilment in pure Vaishnava Sanatana-dharma, the eternal religion of all souls toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, as per the teaching of Shri Vishvambhara Gauranga Mahaprabhu. When one attentively and without prejudice studies the Dasha-mula-tattva, one must agree.
To play a small part in the presentation of such perfection is the mercy of Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakura upon the translator, editor and the many souls involved in this first English publication. In particular, we wish to mention H.H. Vipra Mukhya Maharaj for his computer expertise and Shriman Sakshi-gopala Dasa for his assistance in layout and proofreading.
We hope the learned and respected readers will bless us and forgive any errors in our efforts.
Jai Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna
Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Yours in the service of Shri Guru and Shri Gauranga,
Five centuries after the appearance of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, numerous scholars are engaged in studies and research in scientific fields in various countries all over the world by His grace alone. As a result of these scholars' endeavours, their thoughts and concepts are spreading far and wide and dissipating darkness from the minds of students worldwide. The students in our country (India) are also assimilating this mundane knowledge in their schools and universities providing proof of alert and open minds. After wading through an ocean of debates and discussions and browsing through different religious propaganda materials, a large section of these students have arrived at the conclusion that no other teacher in the annals of history can compare to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as a preceptor, and that pure Vaishnavism has no equal as a religion anywhere in the world.
Excited and provoked by such a conclusion, millions of people are sincerely enquiring about the teachings of pure Vaishnavism given by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The conviction that man’s religion is one, and not many, has become firmly rooted into the thoughts of learned men and academics. Man’s eternal religion cannot vary according to time and place. In truth, eternal religion is but one—not many. But then, why are there many religions? The answer is that man in his pure state of consciousness has but one eternal religion. However, having become captive and conditioned by matter, man’s religion has diverged into two: temporary or sectarian; and eternal or non-sectarian. Non-sectarian eternal religion does not change according to time, place and people. Whereas the conditioned living entities, having become captive and conditioned by matter, have developed various religions according to the differences of time, place and circumstances. Thus, sectarian religions have accepted different designations and forms in different countries. As and when the conditioned soul becomes free from mundane identifications, by and by his religion becomes non-sectarian. Liberated from all mundane identities man’s religion is one and eternal.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s instructions on man’s eternal religion to the whole world are pure Vaishnavism. It is stated in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita Adi-lila (7.164-166):
mathurate pathaila rupa-sanatana
dui senapati kaila bhakti-pracarana
nityananda gosane pathaila gaudadeshe
tinho bhakti pracarila ashesha-visheshe
apani dakshina desha karila gamana
grame grame kaila krishna-nama-pracarana
"Lord Chaitanya dispatched the two generals Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami to Vrindavana to preach the bhakti cult. As Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami were sent toward Mathura, so Nityananda Prabhu was sent to Bengal to preach extensively the cult of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personally went to South India, and He broadcast the Holy Name of Lord Krishna in every village and town."
What Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught the whole world through His generals is also recorded in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita Adi-lila (9.36+41):
ataeva ami ajna dilu sabakare
yanha tanha prema phala deha’ yare tare
bharata bhumite haila manushya janma yara
janma sarthaka kari’ kara para-upakara
"Therefore, I order every man within this universe to accept love of Godhead and in turn distribute it to others. One who has taken birth as a human being in the land of India (Bharata-varsha) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people."
Dear readers! Is it then surprising that intelligent and learned men would simply abandon the bandwagons of other religious preachers and desire to follow the teachings of pure Vaishnavism as enunciated by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord of all living entities? It is our duty now to compile Shri Chaitanya’s instructions and present them to the world, as they are. Some demented persons try to exploit this opportunity to mislead the intelligentsia by propagating their own theory fabricated in the factories of their limited minds. Some victims have forfeited the straight and simple path to embrace an almost insurmountable and complicated one, thereby deluding the world and themselves. Now, we must sincerely try to benefit the learned intelligentsia and students, who are worthy of our respect. In all good and auspicious projects, there is no greater hindrance than selfish motives and exploitation. Many are able to knowingly preach a bogus and adulterated spiritual paradigm guided by self-aggrandisement.
Dear readers! We do not harbour ulterior motives of any kind. Monetary gains, fame, position, influence, and leadership—none of these are desirable to us. Our only desire and hope is that the nectar of Shri Chaitanya’s instructions, which we have been able to relish by the saintly devotees' grace, may also be available to everyone.
Recently, a new journal entitled, Shri Chaitanya-mata-bhodhini, (purports to Shri Chaitanya’s precepts) has caught our attention. The authors of this journal took upon themselves the task of globally propagating the creed of Shri Chaitanya in its pristine form. In itself, their resolve stands above stricture. However, the methodology for compiling Shri Chaitanya’s instructions they suggest is, to say the least, alarming. The authors are determined to compile Lord Chaitanya’s precepts from the Sanskrit writings of the Gosvamis. They seem to forget that the essence of the Gosvamis’ books is contained in an unaberrated form in the Bengali treatise—Lord Chaitanya’s biography by Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita. It would more than suffice if Shri Chaitanya’s teachings based on the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita were to be broadcast worldwide.
An erudite scholar and pure devotee of Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s stature is rarely found, especially at the present time. And if anyone proudly assumes he can crystallise the essence of Shri Chaitanya’s philosophy from the Gosvami’s writings better than Shrila Kaviraja Gosvami then he is indeed an upstart and a pretender. Our limited intelligence prompts us to believe that when the truths contained in Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita can be delineated and broadcast universally then there can be no lack of knowledge—especially of Shri Chaitanya’s tenets. It is true, however, Shrila Kaviraja Gosvami has presented some parts of the esoteric theology in a cryptic fashion. Then, such Gosvamis treatises as the Six Sandarbhas, Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu and so on may be studied to properly expand them. Original texts from these works must be located and elaborated upon to make the profound content of Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita unequivocal and comprehensible. It seems that the intention of the authors of ‘Shri Chaitanya-mata-bodhini’ is nothing short of trying to bite off more than they can chew.
Our humble attempt in this book will be to delineate Shri Chaitanya’s nectarine instructions from the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita. So, dear readers, I place one humble request at your feet. Shri Chaitanya’s teachings are esoteric, scientific and absolute principles. Only an attentive reading will make them comprehensible. The practice nowadays is to read a novel reclining on the bed after supper and before sleep. However, Shri Chaitanya’s teaching must not be treated or read in the same manner. The essence and profound conclusions of the entire Vedic scriptures lie encapsulated in His precepts. The transcendental truths contained in His teachings may only be grasped if and when they are read with proper faith, attentively and in the company of saintly personages, followed by discussions to mine out the gems of truth. Therefore, kindly discard previous habits of browsing and carefully delve into this book which delineates the ten esoteric principles and thereby crown our humble attempt with success.
In His instructions, Shri Chaitanya explained the three esoteric concepts from the scriptures known as: sambandha (eternal relationship), abhidheya (direct application) and prayojana (ultimate necessity). When instructing Shrila Sanatana Gosvami, Lord Chaitanya said (Cc. Madhya 20.143, 146):
veda shastre kahe, sambandha,
krishna, krishna-bhakti, prema-tina mahadhana
mukhya gauna vritti, kimva anvaya vyatireke
vedera pratijna kevala kahaye krishnake
"In the Vedic literature, Shri Krishna is the central point of attraction, and His service is our activity. To attain the platform of love of Krishna is life’s ultimate goal. Therefore, Krishna, Krishna’s service and love of Krishna are the three great riches of life. When one accepts Vedic literature by dictionary meaning or even by interpretation, i.e. directly or indirectly, the ultimate declaration of Vedic knowledge points to Lord Krishna."
The Vedic literature is indeed authentic scripture. Whatever is found in the Veda is the absolute truth. The sole aim of the Veda is to reveal Krishna, either directly or indirectly, in some places as the principal topic or in other places as the subordinate topic. Therefore, when discussing the principle of sambandha, the Veda points to Krishna alone. Similarly, devotional service to Krishna is the abhidheya principle and love of Godhead, Krishna, is the singular necessity and ultimate objective of the entire Vedic literature, prayojana. In order to delineate the three principles of sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana we must first discuss the ten esoteric principles as enunciated by Shri Chaitanya.
amnayah praha tattvam harim iha
paramam sarva-shaktim rasabdhim
tad bhinnamsamsh ca jivan prakriti-kavalitan tad-vimuktamsh ca bhavat
bhedabedha-prakasham sakalam api hareh sadhanam shuddha-bhaktim
sadhyam tat-pritim evety upadishati janan gaura-candrah svayam sah
"(1) The Vedas are the principal scriptural evidence, which in turn expound the following nine principles: (2) Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth. (3) Krishna is omnipotent. (4) He is the fountainhead of all relationships and love. (5) The living entities are His separated parts and parcels. (6) The living entity, due to his constitutional situation as the marginal energy, may come under the sway of the material energy. (7) Again, due to his marginal nature, the living entity in the liberated condition is free of the influence of material nature. (8) The living entity and everything in this material cosmos is simultaneously one and different from the Supreme Lord, Krishna. (9) Pure devotional service is the living entity’s occupation and means. (10) Pure love of Krishna is the living entity’s ultimate goal."
The first principle presents and establishes the evidence, the bona-fide source of information. The second to eighth principles are the concepts of sambandha, as discussed in the Veda. The ninth principle points out the abhidheya principle and the tenth, the prayojana principle. These ten principles are conveniently categorised into pramäna (proof, evidence) and prameya (that to be substantiated). The first, the Vedic literature, is pramäna. The following nine, i.e. the second to tenth principles, are all in the category of prameya, that to be substantiated. Of that nine, the second, third and fourth elaborate upon the supremacy of Krishna, the Absolute Truth. The fifth, sixth and seventh delineate the conditional position of the jiva. The eighth principle discusses the eternal relationship between Krishna, the Supreme Lord and the living entity, jiva. This principle of simultaneous oneness and distinction, bhedäbheda, must be understood and realized as the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Lord. The ninth principle illustrates bhakti as the activity of the jiva and the tenth gives the goal of such activity, krishna-prema. Now each of these principles will be dealt with in detail.
The following karika, Explanatory Verse, gives the definition of amnaya, the Veda:
amnayah shrutayah saksad
guru-parampara praptah vishva kartuh hi brahmanah
"Knowledge in the form of scriptural conclusions spoken from guru to disciple in an unbroken disciplic chain beginning from Lord Brahma, the creator of this universe, known also as brahma-vidya, transcendental knowledge, is called amnaya."
This is substantiated in the Mundaka Upanishad (M.Up. 1.1.1; 1.2.13):
brahma devanam prathamah sambabhuva
vishvasya karta bhuvanasya gopta
sa brahma-vidyam sarva-vidya-pratishtham atharvaya jyeshtha-putraya praha
yenaksharam purusham veda satyam provaca tam tattvato brahma-vidyam
"The creator, maintainer and first-born demigod Lord Brahma tutored his eldest son, Atharva, in the essence of all knowledge known as brahma-vidya, transcendental Absolute Truth. By this knowledge the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is realised."
The Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad (Br.Up. 2.4.10) states:
asya mahato bhutasya nihshvasitam
etad rigvedo yajur
vedah sama vedatharvangirasa itihasah puranam vidya
upanishadah shlokah sutrany anuvyakhyanani sarvani nihshvasitani
"The four Vedas, the Itihasas, Puranas, Upanishads, aphorisms, purports and so on have all emanated from the breath of the Infinite Supreme Controller. The Mahabharata, Ramayana and similar literatures are Itihasas, histories. There are eighteen principal Puranas, headed by Shrimad Bhagavatam and eighteen subordinate Puranas. Out of the prominent one hundred and eight, the principal Upanishads are eleven: the Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brihad-aranyaka and Shvetashvatara. Shlokas are poetic compositions, with specific meters, composed by rishis, philosophers. Sutras are concise aphorisms written by the principal spiritual preceptors, acaryas. And anuvyakhyas are written by the acaryas as purports to the sutras. However, the principal meaning of the word amnaya is Veda."
Thus, Chaitanya-caritamrita declares (Cc. Adi. 7.132):
svatah pramana veda-pramanasiromani
lakshana haite svatah pramanata hani
"The self-evident Vedic literature is the highest evidence of all, but if this literature is interpreted, its self-evident nature is lost."
Further, (Cc. Madhya 6.135, 137):
pramanera madhye shruti pramana
shruti ye mukhyartha kahe sei se pramana
svatah pramana veda yei satya kahe
lakshana karile svatah pramanya hani haye
"Although there is other evidence, the evidence given in the Vedic version must be taken as foremost. The Vedic version understood directly is first-class evidence. The Vedic statements are self-evident. Whatever is stated there must be accepted. If we interpret according to our own imagination, the authority of the Veda is immediately lost."
The writings of the Gosvamis and the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, for example, are anuvyakhayas. Thus, the Veda, Puranas, Ithihasas, Upanishads, shlokas, sutras, and acaryas’ purports are all amnaya, Vedic literature. The Vedic literature has been duly glorified throughout the Shrimad Bhagavatam e.g. (SB 11.14.3, 4, 7, 8):
kalena nashta pralaye vaniyam veda samjnita
mayadau brahmane prokta yasyam dharmo mad atmakah
tena prokta svaputraya manave
yabhir bhutani bhidyante bhutanam patayas tatha
evam prakriti-vaicitryad bidyante matayo nrinam
parasparyena keshamcit pashanda-matayo’pare
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: By the influence of time, the transcendental sound of the Vedic knowledge was lost at the time of annihilation. Therefore, when the subsequent creation took place, I spoke the Vedic knowledge to Brahma because I, Myself, am the religious principles as enunciated in the Veda."
Lord Brahma spoke this Vedic knowledge to his eldest son Manu, and the seven great sages headed by Bhrigu Muni then accepted the same knowledge from Manu.
All of the many universal species, along with their respective leaders, appeared with different natures and desires generated from the three modes of material nature. Therefore, because of the different characteristics of the living entities within the universe, there are a great many Vedic rituals, mantras and rewards.
Thus, due to the great variety of
desires and natures among human beings, there are many different theistic
philosophies of life, which are handed down through tradition, custom and
disciplic succession. On the other hand, other teachers directly support
The Brahma-sampradaya is
the Maintainer of the Vedic Religion
From this statement, we can clearly understand that the disciplic succession (parampara) called the Brahma-sampradaya has been flowing down to the present time from the very dawn of creation. The feature of this sampradaya is that the unadulterated knowledge of the Veda has been handed down in an unbroken chain of spiritual preceptors and has thus sustained religious principles—devotion to the Supreme Lord. This unadulterated knowledge is amnaya. Those persons who do not accept the bona-fide nature of the Brahma-sampradaya disciplic succession cannot inspire faith in the evidences of the scriptures. Brahma, the creator of the universe, is a disciple of the Lord of the spiritual sky. Persons who do not accept this are referred to in the Shrimad Bhagavatam as teachers of atheistic viewpoints. Furthermore, those who accept the Shri Krishna Chaitanya sampradaya from Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, but secretly deny the self-perfected process of guru-parampara, disciplic succession, are certainly no better than the followers of Kali-yuga—the age of degradation. In truth, only the most fortunate of souls recognise the unadulterated Vedic knowledge flowing down to us through an unbroken chain of spiritual masters as the best of all evidences. This is Shri Chaitanya's first lesson.
Shrila Jiva Gosvami writes in the Tattva-sandarbha (verses 9, 10):
prayojanakhyanam arthanam nirnayaya pramanam tavad
vinirniyatetatra purushasya bhramadi-dosha-catushtayatvat sutaram
acintyalaukika-vastu-sparshayogyatvac ca tat-pratyakshadinyapi
sadoshani tatas tani na pramananity anadi-siddha-sarva- purusha
paramparasu sarvalaukikalaukika-jnana-nidanatvad aprakrita-
vacana-lakshano veda evasmakam sarvatita- sarvashraya-
sarvacintyashcarya-svabhavam vastu vividishatam pramanam
"The following evidences are presented to ascertain the symptoms of: sambandha, relationship with Krishna as the central figure; abhidheya, the direct process of achieving Him—devotional service; and prayojana, the indispensable necessity—krishna-prema. By nature and construction, human beings are controlled by four inherent shortcomings—illusion, mistakes, cheating, and falsehood. This limits them from experiencing the inconceivable and extraordinary transcendental phenomena. The methods of knowledge they have access to and offer, such as direct sensual perceptions and subsequent theorization, are automatically faulty. Thus, direct perceptions (pratyaksha) and inference (anumana) cannot be included as perfectly authentic evidences. However, for the scientifically minded seekers of the truth, the only substantive source of evidence is the Veda because it has been transmitted, since time immemorial, through an unbroken chain of self-realised and eternally perfected spiritual masters who are the repositories of both material and spiritual knowledge. Their words are supramundane and transcendental to mundane scrutiny, providing shelter to all seekers, and their knowledge possesses an inconceivably extraordinary nature and influence."
After establishing the substantive proofs of the Veda as the singular source of evidence, Shrila Jiva Gosvami ascertains that the Puranas uphold the Vedic religious principles—and that the Shrimad Bhagavatam is the best source of evidence. The arguments he uses to assert the pre-eminence of the Shrimad Bhagavatam lend support to the writings of the spiritual preceptors who are the authorities on spiritual conclusions—masters such as Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Shukadeva Gosvami, Vijayadhvaja, Brahmatirtha, Vyasatirtha, Shri Madhvacarya and so on. All the statements regarding these points clearly establish that the disciplic line (sampradaya), beginning with Brahma, is, for the servitors of Shri Krishna Chaitanya, the bona-fide disciplic succession, (guru-parampara). Shri Kavi Karnapura supports this view by reiterating the guru-parampara in his book Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika. The commentator on the Vedanta-sutra, Shri Baladeva Vidyabhushana has fixed and authenticated this disciple succession. Those who deny this disciplic succession are indeed inimical to the followers of Shri Krishna Chaitanya.
In regard to accepting the words of the Veda, it is imperative that one understands they are eternally self-perfected. No interpolation or interpretation is required. The words are direct and unequivocal. For example: Shri Gauranga, the son of mother Saci, is none other than Shri Krishna, the son of Shri Nanda—the meaning is unambiguous. However, the statement: "gangayam ghosah,"—the cowherd village, Ghoshapalli, is in the Ganga—does not communicate a clear meaning, only by surmising can we conclude that the village of Ghoshapalli is situated on the banks of the river Ganga. In Vedic statements, one should not resort to interpretation unless it is clearly necessary.
The Chandogya Upanishad states:
shyamac chavalam prapadye
shavalac chyamam prapadye
"Through the mercy of Shyama, I seek the shelter of His internal potency, the hladini-shakti. And through the mercy of this potency I seek the shelter of Shyama."
The direct meaning of this Vedic statement is unequivocal. Then, why must one be cajoled into accepting Shri Shankaracarya’s interpretation that shyama (Krishna) indicates harda brahmatva, inner impersonal Brahman-ness? The liberated souls usually engage in worshipping the Divine Couple, Shri Shyamasundra and Shrimati Radhika. This is the obvious and direct meaning of this Vedic statement. Hence, Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita’s declaration—the authority of the Veda is lost by imaginary interpretation—becomes applicable here. Many ways can be adopted to ascertain or surmise the meaning of words. In this regard, Shri Jagadisha has written in his philological compilation, Sabda-shakti-prakasika:
jahat svarthajahat svartha
lakshana vividhas tabhir lakshakam syad anekadha
"There are many formulas for interpretation, such as jahatsvartha, ajahatsvartha, nirudha and anika, etc., but all these systems are ineffectual in ascertaining transcendental subject matters. In fact, when they are applied, they create confusion by misconstruing the real meaning."
Shri Shankaracarya postulates that as one is researching the imperceptible, impersonal truth of the Veda, the direct meaning is ineffectual; hence, extrapolations and interpretations are imperative. To this view, the illustrious acarya, Shri Madhvacarya, has posted his rebuttal in his famous philosophical treatise, Tattva-muktavali (Tm. 22):
nangikritabhidha yasya lakshana tasya
nasti gramah kutah sima na putro janakam vina
"In ascertaining the pre-eminent meaning of a word, if the direct meaning is not obvious, where is the provision for interpretation? When there is no town, what is the use of arguing about its border? Without a father, how can a son be conceived?"
When the imperceptible object is not to be discovered by the direct meanings of words, the extrapolations, which are merely backup and assisting methods, are impotent. Therefore, an intelligent person discards the effete process of interpretative extrapolation to understand the transcendental Vedic truth and simply depends on the direct and unequivocal meaning of the Vedic words.
Karika, Explanatory Verse
ya adikavaye tene hrida
sa chaitanyah kalau saksad amarjit tam matam shubham
vipralipsa pramadash ca karanapatavam bhramah
manushanam vicareshu syad dhi dosha catushtayam
tad-adhokshaja-tattveshu durnivaryam budhair api
apaurusheya-vakhyani pramanam tatra kevalam
pratyaksham anumanam ca tad adhinataya kvacit
"The Supreme Lord Chaitanya, who impregnated the heart of the first poet and philosopher, Lord Brahma, with the eternal knowledge of the Veda, appeared in Kali-yuga in Navadvipa. He purified the all-auspicious knowledge of the Veda from the contaminating influence of the age and enthroned them in their pristine glory. The four faults inherit in all humans—imperfect senses, falling into illusion, making mistakes and the propensity to cheat—always creep into their conclusions. In ascertaining transcendental subject matters, even the most erudite pandits are not able to free themselves from these four faults. Therefore, especially in regard to supramundane topics, only the superhuman and divine words of the Veda are the sole evidences. Other proofs like direct sensual perception, inference, comparison, tradition etc. are sometimes pressed into service but only as subordinate evidences to the authority of the Veda."
shShnriiThe Çré Chaitanya-caritamåta (20.146) states this Vedic truth:
mukhya gauëa våtti kimva anvaya
vedera pratijna kevala kahaye kåñëake
"When one accepts the Vedic literature by dictionary meaning or even by interpretation, i.e. directly or indirectly, the ultimate declaration of Vedic knowledge points to Kåñëa."
The entire Vedic literature in different places, primarily or secondarily, directly or indirectly, in purports or explanations, through innuendoes or inferences, always describes Çré Kåñëa as the Supreme, and no one else. In Chaitanya-caritamåta (Cc. Adi. 2.106) it is stated:
svayam bhagavan kåñëa, kåñëa
parama éshvara kåñëa sarva shastre kaya
"The Personality of Godhead Çré Kåñëa is the original primeval Lord, the source of all other expansions. All the revealed scriptures accept Çré Kåñëa as the Supreme Lord."
And further (Cc. Adi. 2. 65):
advaya jnana tattva vastu kåñëera
brahma atma, bhagavan, tin tanra rupa
"Lord Kåñëa Himself is the one undivided Absolute Truth, the ultimate reality. He manifests Himself in three features—as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan."
And furthermore (Cc. Adi 2.24-26):
veda bhagavata upaniñad agama
purëa tattva yanre, kahe, nahi yanra sama
bhakti yoge bhakta paya yanra darashana
surya tena savigraha dekhe deva gaëa
jnana yoga marge tanre bhaje yei saba
brahma atma rupe tanre kare anubhava
"Thus, the Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, is the original primeval Lord, the source of all other expansions. All the revealed scriptures accept Çré Kåñëa as the Supreme Lord. Lord Çré Kåñëa as the Supreme Lord is the undivided one Absolute Truth, the ultimate reality. He manifests in three features—as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. The Personality of Godhead is He who is described as the Absolute Whole in the Veda, Bhagavatam, Upaniñads and other transcendental literature. No one is equal to Him. Through their service, devotees perceive the Personality of Godhead, just as the denizens of heaven see the personality of the Sun. Those who walk the path of knowledge and yoga worship only Him, for it is Him they perceive as the impersonal Brahman and localised Paramatma."
Similarly, in the Çvetashvatara Upaniñad (5.4) we find:
eko devo bhagavan vareëyo yoni svabhavan adhitiñthaty ekah
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, is worshipable by everyone; for he is eternally present in every living entity."
In defining who is Bhagavan, God, the Çrémad Bhagavatam (SB. 1.3.28) declares:
ete camsha kalah pumsah kåñëas tu bhagavan svayam
"All of these incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but only Lord Çré Kåñëa is the original Personality of Godhead."
Lord Kåñëa, Himself declares in the Bhagavad-géta (Bg. 7.7):
mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya
"O Conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me."
Also, Bhagavad-géta (Bg. 15.15):
vedaish ca sarvair aham eva vedyah
"By all the Veda, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Veda."
It is further stated in the Gopala-tapané Upaniñad (Go.Up. 21):
tasmat kåñëa eva paro devas tam
tam raset tam bhajet tam yajet
eko vashé sarvagah kåñëa édya
ekopi san bahudha yo vibhati
tam péthastham ye tu bhajanti dhéras
teñam sukham shashvatam netareñam
"Thus, Çré Kåñëa is the Supreme controller. Meditate on Him, glorify loudly His name, serve Him and worship only Him. Çré Kåñëa is the all-pervasive, omnipresent Being who brings everyone under His sway—He alone is worthy of everyone’s worship. Although He is one, yet He manifests and expands Himself in countless forms like Matsya, Kurma, Vasudeva, Sankarñaëa, Karaëodakashayé Viñëu, Garbhodakashayé Viñëu and so on. Equipoised and saintly devotees like Çréla Çukadeva Gosvamé, who worship the transcendental Deity form of the Lord on the altar, are alone eligible to attain eternal bliss. Others, who worship the impersonal Brahman or the Supersoul Paramatma features of the Lord, are not fit to experience this unlimited transcendental bliss."
Paramatma is Çré Kåñëa’s Partial Expansion: a Karika, Explanatory Verse
kåñëamñah paramatma vai brahma taj
jyotir eva ca
paravyomadhipas tasyaishvarya murtir na samshayah
"Çré Kåñëa is the only Lord. Paramatma is His part and Brahman His effulgence. Çré Narayaëa in Vaikuëtha is the majestic manifestation of Çré Kåñëa. The Veda and other scriptures clearly show this, clearing all doubt."
The Taittiréya Upaniñad states (Tat.Up. 2.1):
satyam jnanam anantam brahma yo veda
parame vyoman so’shnute sarvan kaman saha brahmaëa vipashcita
"The transcendental, eternal and Absolute Truth is Brahman. He is situated within the hearts of all beings as the Paramatma, the Supersoul. The Supreme Truth residing in the Vaikuëtha planets of the spiritual sky as the Lord of all being is Çré Narayaëa. The one who knows this truth attains all transcendental qualities in his communion with the Supreme Brahman—Çré Kåñëa."
In this verse vipashcit Brahman, the erudite Brahman, refers to Lord Kåñëa. In many parts of the Veda, Lord Kåñëa has been described as that Supreme Brahman.
The Çrémad Bhagavatam (SB. 7.10.48) states:
gudham param brahma manuñya-lingam
yan-mitram paramanandam purëam brahma sanatanam
"The Supreme Brahman accepts a human form and takes birth; this is the confidential truth. However, He maintains His transcendental position of eternality and bliss."
The Viñëu Puraëa says:
yatravatérëam kåñëakhyam param brahma narakåtim
"Wherever the Supreme Lord appears in His human form incarnation, He is Kåñëa, the Supreme Brahman."
In the Bhagavad-géta (Bg. 14.27), Lord Kåñëa, Himself, declares:
brahmaëo hi pratiñthaham
"I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman."
Like this, there are hundreds and thousands of scriptural quotes confirming that Çré Kåñëa is vipashcit Brahman, the Supreme Brahman. Vipashcit, erudite scholar, certainly defines Çré Kåñëa, as erudition is one of the principal qualities among His sixty-four transcendental qualities.
The Bhakti-rasamåta-sindhu enumerates sixty-four transcendental qualities of Çré Kåñëa (Brs.1.11-17):
ruciras tejasa yukto baléyan vayasanvitah
"Kåñëa, the Supreme Hero, has the most beautiful transcendental body. This body possesses all good features. It is radiant and very pleasing to the eyes. His body is powerful, strong and youthful."
The extraordinary hero, Kåñëa, possesses these transcendental qualities: (1) beautiful features of the entire body; (2) marked with all auspicious characteristics; (3) extremely pleasing; (4) effulgent; (5) strong; (6) ever youthful; (7) wonderful linguist; (8) truthful; (9) talks pleasingly; (10) fluent; (11) highly learned; (12) highly intelligent; (13) a genius; (14) artistic; (15) extremely clever; (16) expert; (17) grateful; (18) firmly determined; (19) an expert judge of time and circumstances; (20) sees and speaks on the authority of the scriptures—the Veda; (21) pure; (22) self-controlled; (23) steadfast, (24) forbearing; (25) forgiving; (26) grave; (27) self-satisfied; (28) possessing equilibrium; (29) magnanimous; (30) religious; (31) heroic; (32) compassionate; (33) respectful; (34) gentle; (35) liberal; (36) shy; (37) the protector of surrendered souls; (38) happy; (39) the well-wisher of devotees; (40) controlled by love; (41) all-auspicious; (42) most powerful; (43) all-famous; (44) popular; (45) partial to devotees; (46) very attractive to all women; (47) all-worshipable; (48) all-opulent; (49) all-honourable; (50) the Supreme controller; (51) changeless; (52) all-cognizant; (53) ever-fresh; (54) sac-cid-ananda-vigrah—possessing a transcendental form of eternality, full of knowledge and absolute bliss; (55) possessing all mystic perfection; (56) has inconceivable potency; (57) uncountable universes are generated from His body; (58) the original source of all incarnations; (59) the giver of salvation to the enemies He kills; (60) the attractor of liberated souls; (61) the performer of wonderful pastimes (especially his childhood pastimes); (62) surrounded by devotees endowed with unsurpassed love of Godhead; (63) the attractor of all living entities in all universes by the expert playing of His flute; (64) possesses unexcelled beauty without rival.
Of these sixty-four qualities, the first fifty are present in the jévas, the living entities, in minute degrees; however, in Lord Kåñëa they are present to an absolute unlimited degree. Again, the first fifty plus the next five qualities are partially manifested in Lord Çiva and the demigods. That fifty-five and the following five, i.e. the first sixty qualities, embellish the character of the Lord of the Vaikuëtha, Çré Narayaëa, in absolute quantity. However, in Çré Kåñëa these sixty qualities are exhibited with extraordinary splendour. Beside these, Çré Kåñëa possesses a further four unsurpassable transcendental traits: (1) léla-madhurya (the performer of wonderful varieties of pastimes, especially in childhood); (2) prema-madhurya (surrounded by devotees endowed with wonderful love of Godhead); (3) rupa-madhurya (possessed of unparalleled beauty); and (4) veëu-madhurya (the most expert flute player). These last four qualities are found only in Kåñëa. Hence, the adjective 'vipashcit' Brahman, supremely erudite Brahman, can only apply to Çré Kåñëa—no one else.
The Supreme Lord Kåñëa’s fame and qualities emanate as the brilliant illumination known as the brahmajyoti, which is also called Brahman. Thus, the Vedas have described Brahman as having three qualities: eternality, absolute knowledge, and unlimited bliss (sac-cid-ananda). When the Absolute Truth is ensconced in the core of the heart, He is known as Paramatma, the Supersoul. After bringing this entire creation into existence, the Supreme Lord pervades it with His partial expansion. Hence, the Personality who enters the shell of the material creation and the core of the hearts of all living beings is the partial expansion of Çré Kåñëa, called Paramatma. He has many thousands of names like; éshvara (controller); niyantå (administrator); jagat-karta (creator of the universe); jagat-éshvara (lord of the universe); pata (maintainer); palayita (sustainer); and so on. He also accepts incarnations like Rama, Nåsimha, Vamana, etc. to maintain the affairs of the universe.
In the Vaikuëtha paramvyoma, the spiritual sky, Lord Narayaëa resides eternally, a vilasa expansion of Çré Kåñëa. One who is a paëdit in the esoteric science of devotional relish, rasa, will analytically study the different aspects of the Absolute Truth such as Brahman, Paramatma and the Lord of Vaikuëtha, Çré Narayaëa. Finally, he will conclude that the Supreme Lord, Çré Kåñëa, is the source and shelter of all these aspects of the Absolute Truth. And it is Çré Kåñëa, the erudite embodiment of rasa, the supreme vipashcit Brahman, the fountainhead of all relishable spiritual loving relationships such as servitorship, fraternity, parenthood and conjugal love, who is the object of all devotional service. In the Bhagavad-géta, Çré Kåñëa has Himself declared (Bg. 10.42) that the Paramatma is His partial aspect:
athava bahunaitena kim jnatena
viñtabhyaham idam kåtsnam ekamsena sthito jagat
"But what need is there, Arjuna, for all such detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself, I pervade and support this entire universe."
That Brahman is Çré Kåñëa’s physical brilliance is described in the Brahma-samhita (Bs. 5.40):
yasya prabha prabhavato
kotiñv asheña-vasudhadi vibhuti-bhinnam
tad brahma niñkalam anantam asheña-bhutam
govindam adi-puruñam tam aham bhajami
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord who is endowed with great power. The glowing effulgence of His transcendental form is the impersonal Brahman, which is absolute, complete and unlimited and which displays the varieties of countless planets with their different opulences in millions and millions of universes."
shré kåñëa svarupe purëo’ dvaya-jnanatmake kila
"Lord Çré Kåñëa’s original form of transcendence is the embodiment of non-duality. Unlike the jéva, He is never affected by distinctions between the spiritual self, the body and qualities. His spiritual form is His Self and His qualities are non-different from Himself. Although He is located in one place and possesses a body resembling that of a human being, He is simultaneously omnipresent with unlimited potency."
Båhad-araëyaka Puraëa (Bå ar. 5) confirms:
purëam adah purëam idam purëat purëam
purëasya purëam adaya purëam evavashiñyate
"Complete whole incarnations of the Supreme Lord (avataras) emanate from the complete whole source of all incarnations (avataré). Even though for manifesting transcendental pastimes the complete whole avataras expand out of the complete whole avataré, the avataré remains complete and whole without the slightest reduction. Again, after the withdrawal of the manifest pastimes of the complete whole avataras, the complete wholeness of the avataré does not expand."
The Narada-pancarata states:
nirdoña purëa guëa grahatma tantre
nishcetanatmaka-sharéra-guëais ca hénah
sarvatra ca svagata-bheda-vivarjitatma
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead possesses a perfect, omniscient, transcendental form. The Lord’s body is not material, without consciousness, experiencing the three stages of birth, maintenance and destruction. In fact, His body is saturated with divine consciousness, devoid of mundane qualities, supramundane, and infused with spiritual bliss; all the parts and limbs of His body are blissful. His body is free from the duality that distinguishes the body from the self, the qualities from the person—it is fully spiritual, non-different from Him."
Lord Çré Kåñëa possesses a transcendental form of eternality, absolute knowledge and unlimited bliss. He is the mainstay of Brahman and Paramatma. He is the Supreme Lord of all Lords. It is important to learn the manner in which the Vedas describe Him, directly or indirectly, through innuendoes, inferences, etc. Çré Kåñëa is described pre-eminently and directly in the Chandogya Upaniñad (8.13.1) as follows:
shyamac chavalam prapadye
shavalac chyamam prapadye
"Çré Kåñëa’s (shyama's) variegated internal spiritual potency is called shambala. In the process of surrendering to Kåñëa, I take shelter of the embodiment of His hladiné, pleasure-giving potency. And under the shelter of the spiritual sentiments of the hladiné-shakti, I offer myself to Çré Kåñëa."
shIn the Rig-Ved (Rig. 1.22.23):
tad viñëoh paramam padam sada
divéva cakñur atatam viñëor yat paramam padam
"The Personality of Godhead, Viñëu, is the Absolute Truth whose lotus feet all the demigods are always eager to see. His lotus-feet are only visible to those endowed with spiritual vision, for they are completely transcendental and supreme like Çré Kåñëa, Himself."
Again, in the Rig-Veda (1.22.164 sukta 31) we find this verse:
apaçyam gopam anipadyamana ma ca para
ca pathibhiç carantam
sa sadhrécéh sa viñucér vasana avarérvati bhuvaneñv antah
"I saw a young cowherd boy, who never falls from His position. Sometimes He is near, sometimes He is far away; in this manner, He moves in various ways. Sometimes, He is clothed in many robes and at other times differently dressed; in this way, He is repeatedly appearing and disappearing in this universe."
The next verse establishes the eternal aspect of Çré Kåñëa’s transcendental pastimes as found in the Rig Veda (1.54.6):
ta vam vastuny uçmasi gamadhyai yatra
gavo bhuri sånga ayasah
atraha tad urugayasya viñëoh parama-padam avabhati bhuri
"I desire to attain Your (Çré Radhika and Çré Kåñëa's) abode where the wish-fulfilling cows, known as kamadhenu, are decorated with gracefully long horns. The eternal residence of Çré Kåñëa, the fulfiller of His devotees' desires, is pre-eminently exhibiting itself in all grandeur."
Thus, in this Vedic verse, the hero of Gokula, Kåñëa, is glorified with the choicest of words. Such direct descriptions about Çré Kåñëa are given in many places throughout the Vedic literature. The following verses, from the Veda, describe Çré Kåñëa indirectly through inference.
In the Çvetaçvatara Upaniñad (1.54.6):
yasmat param naparam asti kincid
yasman naëéyo na jyayo’sti kaçcit
våkña iva stabho divi tiñthaty ekas
tenedam purëam puruñeëa sarvam
"No one is superior to Him, nothing is smaller or larger than Him. He is the one Supreme Being (puruña), who has created everything complete. On His planet, He is situated like a steadfast tree emanating great effulgence."
In Kathopaniñad (2.2.9) He is described in this manner:
agnir yathaiko bhuvanam praviñto
rupam rupam pratirupo babhuva
ekas tatha sarva-bhutantaratma
rupam rupam prati rupo bahiç ca
"As with fire—the one original flame expands itself throughout the world by producing many more separate flames; similarly, the one Supreme Soul, who resides within every jéva, enters this cosmos and expands Himself in replica images known as pratibimba, the jévas."
An image and reflection of an object, remaining dependent and subservient to the original object, is called pratibimba. Thus, the jéva is a reflection, replica image, of the original bimba—Paramatma, the Supersoul. However, the jéva can never come to the category of bimba, the Supersoul; he will always remain outside and separate from Paramatma, the Supersoul. The jéva is the light particle that is comprised of the rays of the Paramatma sun.
The Içopaniñad (Iso. 15) states:
tat tvam puñann apavåëu
"O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee."
Without pure devotion, one cannot meet the Supreme Lord and without receiving the Supreme Lord’s mercy, it is impossible to attain pure devotion to the Lord. Therefore, in this verse, the devotee supplicates the Lord.
The Båhad-araëyaka Upaniñad (Br.ar.up. 2.5.14-15) also states:
ayam atma sarveñam bhutanam madhu
ayam atma sarveñam
bhutanam adhipatih sarveñam bhutanam raja
"Referring to Çré Kåñëa indirectly by way of describing His qualities, the Veda are postulating that the Supreme Soul, Kåñëa, is the essence, controller, and king of all living entities."
The word ‘atma' used in this text refers to Lord Kåñëa, this is substantiated by the Çrémad Bhagavatam (SB. 10.14.55):
kåñëam enam avehi tvam
"You should know Çré Kåñëa to be the original Soul of all living entities."
Çré Kåñëa's realm has been described in the Chandogya Upaniñad:
idam asmin brahma-pure daharam puëdarékam veçma
"In the transcendental abode of Brahmapura is a beautiful realm surrounded by flower gardens, it is an eternal spiritual realm."
The Brahma-samhita (Brs. 5.2) further describes this lotus-shaped transcendental abode in this way:
gokulakhyam mahat padam
"The abode of Gokula in the spiritual sky is replete with the nectar of immortality. It is eternally manifest by the potency of Lord Ananta, Balarama, and is free from the influence of time and death. All the infinitesimal jéva residents and those jévas who go there are untouched by old age, death, lamentation, hunger, and thirst. They are absorbed in the absolute reality, always engaged in executing transcendental desires and resolves."
In the Chandogya Upaniñad (8.1.2-1):
eña atma ‘pahata-papa vijaro vimåtyu
vijaghatso’pipasah satya-kamah satya-sankalpah
"That soul is without sin, without old age, without death, without lamentation, without hunger, without thirst, fully truthful and whose wish is always fulfilled."
Also Chandogya Upaniñad (8.2.9):
sa yadi sakhiloka kamo bhavati
sakhayah samuttiñtanti tena sakhilokena sampanno mahéyate
"If he desires friendship, by his wish, friends appear and with them he obtains satisfaction."
Then Chandogya Upaniñad (8.13):
çyamac chavalam prapadye
çavalac chyamam prapadye
"I surrender to the energy of Shyama through Shyama; and I surrender to Shyama through His energy."
That supreme place, Gokula, is the shelter of immortality. The jévas residing there are free of sin, without old age, without death, without lamentation, without hunger or thirst. Their desires are pure. All their desires are fulfilled. Such liberated pure souls are endowed with these eight spiritual qualities. They are engrossed in relishing spiritual relationships, rasa, according to their individual tastes in this eternal abode. The bluish-hued moon, Shyamacandra, who is adorned with the highest spiritual ecstasy in relishing pleasure, is eternally worshipped there.
In the above verses, the Vedas show by positive statements the eternal abode and pastimes of Çré Kåñëa. Also, however, the Vedas indicate Çré Kåñëa by negative or contrary statements (vyatireka) in many places. In the Kathopaniñad (2.2.15):
na tatra suryo bhati na
nema vidyuto bhanti kuto ’yam agnih
tam eva bhantam anu bhati sarvam
tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati
"That Brahman cannot be revealed by the illumination of the sun, moon, and stars, nor by lightning, electricity and fire for He is transcendental and unlimited. Rather, He, the self-manifest Lord, reveals the sun, moon, stars and everything in the creation. Unlimited words cannot fully describe Him.
The Çvetaçvatara Upaniñad (3.8,16) states:
vedaham etam puruñam mahantam
aditya-varëam tamasah parastat
"I know this Supreme Person as transcendental to the self-manifest material nature. Jéva attains immortality only through knowing Him. Besides this, there is no other method to overcome death. His hands and feet are all pervading. His eyes, head, mouth and ears are omnipresent. His existence covers everything."
Also Çvetaçvatara Upaniñad (4.20):
na sandåçe tiñthati rupam asya
na cakñuña paçyati kaçcanainam
håda hådi stham manasa ya enam
evam vidur amåtas te bhavanti
"His form of beauty is imperceptible to mundane senses. No one can see Him with material eyes. Only those who realize, through deep pure-hearted meditation, this Supreme Personality, who resides in everyone's heart, can attain liberation."
Throughout the Vedas, Çré Kåñëa is described both directly and through inference. However, these literal (mukhya) and supporting (anvaya) statements may be understood properly only by the grace of His internal spiritual potency—the cit çakti.
Thus, in the Çrémad Bhagavatam (10.87.14), He is supplicated by the prayers of the Personified Vedas:
jaya jaya jahy ajam ajita doña-gåbhéta-guëam
tvam asi yad atmana samavaruddha-samasta-bhagah
aga-jagad-okasam akhila-çakty-avabodhaka te
kvacid ajayatmana ca carato ’nucaren nigamah
"The Personified Vedas said: O Kåñëa! Victory, victory to You, O unconquerable one! Kindly destroy that unborn illusory energy called maya, who assumes control over the modes of nature to create difficulties for the conditioned souls. You are always the Lord and master of all opulence by the influence of Your internal spiritual potency. In both the moving and non-moving beings, You awaken their own energy. The Vedic literature describes You in two features: Your direct illusory potency maya and, when You perform Your Vraja pastimes in conjunction with Your internal spiritual potency."
This Karika, Explanatory Verse, Summarizes
brahma-rudra-mahendradi damane rasa-
guru-putra-pradanadav aiçvaryam yat prakaçitam
nanya-prakaça-bahulye tad-dåñtam çastra- varëane
atah kåñëa-paratamyam svatah siddham satam mate
"Çré Kåñëa’s pastimes are narrated in scriptures like the Çrémad Bhagavatam. There is the chastisement of Lord Brahma, Lord Çiva, Lord Indra, the rasa dance and the uniting of the guru with his son. In these pastimes, a reverential mood of majesty and awe is exhibited toward Çré Kåñëa that is not seen towards anyone else. On this basis, the spiritual preceptors declare that Çré Kåñëa is the unsurpassable Supreme Person."
This truth is substantiated in the Çvetaçvatara Upaniñad (6.7):
tam éçvaraëam paramam maheçvaram
tam daivatanam paramam ca daivatam
patim paténam paramam parastad
vidama devam bhuvaneñam édyam
"You are the Supreme Lord, controlling even other Lords like Brahma, Çiva and so on. You are the Highest Divinity, even the king of the demigods, Indra, is subservient to Your will. You are the maintainer of powerful kings and progenitors. You are superior to all superlative truths. We know You as the ultimate object of all prayers and eulogies; the Supreme Personality who is keen on performing wonderful pastimes."
The topic of energy and the source of energy, the energetic, has been a subject of debate for a long time. Many are of the opinion that all we perceive in this creation is simply energy and it is doubtful whether an energetic source exists at all. They are of the opinion that energy reveals and defines all substances. Hence, one does not perceive or experience the substance per se but the energy that defines it. Of the many examples and analogies they proffer, one is submitted here. They assert: In this world are visible certain properties like shape, form, expansion and the like and what we perceive as the universe is merely a sum and composition of these properties. And if these properties were to separate from one another, it is then doubtful whether the universe would remain. One can only surely say that the universe exists because its qualities in the form of energy are manifest. Properties and their inherent natures are all energy. Therefore, energy is the one and only truth.
The anti-group to this school of thought poses a strong counterargument. They expostulate that energy is nothing but an intrinsic characteristic of substance. Energy is but an emanation, the manifestation of a substance.
The stalwart preceptors of esoteric science have taken the essence of this debate and concluded that energy is an essential factor as is also the energetic, which, importantly, is seen as a separate independent truth. Further, they say that although these two truths are separate and independent, yet, they are non-different. Since the human mind is always limited, it cannot fully conceive of the intimate connection between the energetic and the energy. Thus, though being distinct from each other, they are simultaneously non-different. This simultaneous oneness and difference exhibits their inherent inconceivable nature.
The Chaitanya-caritamrita states (Cc. Adi. 4.96-98):
radha purna shakti, krishna purna
dui vastu bheda nahi, shastra paramana
mriga mada ta’ra gandha yaiche aviccheda
agni, jvalate, yaiche kabhu nahi bheda
radha krishna aiche sada ekai svarupa
lilarasa asvadite dhare dui rupa
"Shri Radha is the full potency and Lord Krishna is the possessor of full potency. As evidenced by the revealed scriptures, the two are not different. They are indeed the same. Just as musk and its scent are inseparable, or as fire and its heat are non-different. Thus, Shri Radha and Lord Krishna are one, yet They have taken two forms to enjoy the relish of pastimes."
Furthermore, throughout the entire Vedic literature this conclusion is supported: the energy and the energetic are non-different. On analysing what is substance (vastu), only Shri Krishna is vastu. It is for this reason that the revealed scriptures have pinpointed Shri Krishna as the non-differentiated, non-dual Truth. Those who are fixed on the Brahman or the Paramatma will generally not be able to accept Shri Krishna as the Supreme Absolute Truth. Although the truth (vastu) is one, yet due to the differences in the levels of the observers, the Absolute Truth appears in three phases or features. For example, three persons from three different places observe a mountain. The peak is enveloped in mist on the northern side and the observer on this side mistakes the dark billowing misty clouds as the mountain itself. The observer who is on the southern side sees the sun shining on a part of the mountainside and thinks that this sunny portion is the entire mountain itself. But the third observer, who has a clear unobstructed view of the mountain, actually sees the mountain as it really is.
The same principle operates in ascertaining the Supreme Absolute Truth; the seekers of knowledge, according to their different levels of understanding, perceive the one Absolute Truth differently. Those jnanis, empiricists who follow the path of deductive knowledge, search and find that feature of the Absolute Truth which possesses traits opposite to the mundane nature, a substantive truth without qualities, formless, impersonal, inactive, impotent—they find Brahman. In Brahman realization, the Absolute Truth’s real identity is not fully revealed. Similarly, those who search for the vastu through the process of buddhi-yoga, mystic yoga meditation, partially perceive the Absolute Truth within their hearts as the Supersoul—the constant companion of the living entity. However, those who engage in bhakti-yoga—the direct and devotional process of attaining the Supreme Truth—are able to realize the fullest feature of the vastu as Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is endowed with all opulence, all attractiveness, and all potency.
The Katha Upanishad (Ka.up. 1.2.23) declares:
nayam atma pravacanena labhyo
na medhaya na bahuna shrutena
yam evaisha vrinute tena labhyas
tasyaisha atma vivrinute tanum svam
"The Supreme Soul can neither be attained by studying the Veda, nor by sharp intelligence, nor by hearing many discourses on the scriptures. However, the Lord reveals His original transcendental form to the soul who embraces Him within the heart as the only Lord and Master. That soul alone can attain Him—the Supreme Soul, the Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the heart."
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB. 10.14.29) confirms this statement:
athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-
prasada-leshanugrihita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno
na canya eko ’pi ciram vicinvan
"My Lord, if one is favoured by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, one can understand the greatness of Your Personality. But those who speculate to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years."
Brahman realisation and Paramatma realisation are sequential realisations. Brahman realisation is to perceive a nature opposite to that of the mundane and Paramatma realisation is to perceive the Absolute as localised within material form. However, if one perceives the Absolute Truth with transcendental vision devoid of any material conception, then only, the fully spiritual, supramundane form of the Supreme Lord, Bhagavan, will become manifest—as He is. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the vastu, substantive Absolute Truth, and His effulgence supports the manifest energy. Realisation of the Supreme Lord minus His potencies is called impersonal Brahman realisation. Prompted by one’s inclination, one may say that Brahman realisation is the ultimate realisation of the Absolute Truth. Factually, the impersonal, impotent and formless aspect of the Supreme Person is Brahman and, concomitantly, Supreme Brahman endowed with all potencies, personality and form is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, Bhagavan is the original Absolute Truth and Brahman is His impersonal, transcendental bodily effulgence. The Paramatma feature of the Supreme is His partial expansion in the material world. Although to the purview of the impersonalists, the Supreme Lord manifests His Brahman feature, yet, in His original spiritual form, He remains eternally distinct from this material world and the jivas that populate it.
Thus, declares the Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB 1.2.11):
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti shabdyate
"Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this non-dual substance Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan."
The dry and impotent aspect of the non-dual Truth is Brahman. When He pervades the material sphere as the Supreme Soul, subtle in nature, the non-dual Truth is Paramatma. The complete and full-fledged manifestation of the Absolute non-dual Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. The opulent and majestic manifestation of Bhagavan is Lord Narayana, the husband of Shri Lakshmi Devi. On the other hand, Shri Krishna is the sweet and loving manifestation of Bhagavan, the Lord of Shrimati Radhika. Thus, Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s verse in the Chaitanya-caritamrita, “Radha is the complete energy, Krishna is the complete possessor of energy,” is substantiated.
Endowed with unlimited transcendental potencies, Shri Krishna is the non-dual Absolute Truth. He contains within Himself His other features—Brahman and Paramatma. With just a little of His sweetness, He covers the awe and majesty of Lord Narayana.
Thus, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6.8) describes the Absolute Truth:
na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate
na tat samash cabhyadhikash ca drishyate
parasya shaktir vividhaiva shruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
"The Supreme Lord has nothing to do, and no one is found to be equal to or greater than Him, for everything is done naturally and systematically by His multifarious energies, providing Him full knowledge, power and pastimes."
The Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, never performs any act with mundane senses; His body is not material fitted with mundane sense organs. His personal form is fully transcendental, unlike the mundane mortal frame that makes it impossible to be present everywhere at the same time. The transcendental form of Shri Krishna can be present, simultaneously, at any number of places. Each of those manifestations maintains full youthful beauty and potency while the Lords sports, unhindered, in the supramundane realm of Goloka Shri Vrindavana.
These characteristics place Him as the Highest Divinity—unsurpassable. No other expansion or manifestation of the Absolute Truth is ever superior or equal to Him. Shri Krishna is the full embodiment of inconceivable spiritual potencies. He is inconceivable. He cannot be measured by the limited human intelligence. This inconceivable potency is called para-shakti, the internal spiritual potency. Although this inherent potency is one, it manifests in three features: bala, strength and opulence (sandhini); jnana, knowledge (samvit); and kriya, pastimes (hladini).
This is described in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Adi. 2. 96, 101-104):
krishnera svarupa, ara
yanra haya, tanra nahi krishnete ajnana
cic-chakti, svarupa-shakti, antaranga nama
tahara vaibhava ananta vaikunthadi dhama
maya-shakti, bahiranga, jagat-karana
tahara vaibhava ananta brahmandera gana
jiva-shakti tatasthakhya, nahi yara anta
mukhya tina shakti, tara vibheda ananta
e-mata svarupa-gana, ara tina shakti
sabhara ashraya krishna, krishne sabhara sthiti
"One who knows the original and real identity of Shri Krishna and His three principal energies cannot remain ignorant about Him. The cit-shakti, the spiritual energy, is also known as the svarupa-shakti and the antaranga-shakti. It displays unlimited manifestations and sustains the kingdom of God and its paraphernalia. The external energy, known as the maya shakti, is the cause of innumerable universes with varied material potencies. The marginal potency is between these two and consists of the numberless living beings. These three, the internal, external and marginal energies, have unlimited categories and subdivisions and are the primary manifestations and expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They emanate from Shri Krishna, the transcendence, and have their existence in Him."
Elsewhere in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya. 20.111) Lord Chaitanya says:
cic-chakti, jiva-shakti, ara maya-shakti
"Lord Krishna naturally has three energetic transformations. These are known as the spiritual potency, the living entity potency, and the illusory potency."
The Karika, Explanatory Verse
shaktih svabhaviki krishne tridah
sandhini tu balam samvij jnanam hladakari kriya
shakti-shaktimato bhedo nastiti sara samgrahah
tathapi bheda-vaicitryam acintya-shakti- karyatah
sandhinya sarvam evaitat nama-rupa-gunadikam
cin-maya-bhedato bhedo vishva-vaikunthayoh kila
samvida dvi-vidham jnanam cin-maya bhedatah kramat
cin-maya-bhedatah siddham hladinya dvi- vidham sukham
hladini shri svarupa ya saiva priyankari
mahabhava-svarupa sa hladini varshabhanavi
"The revealed scriptures declare that Shri Krishna posesses three natural energies: bala (sandhini); jnana (samvit); and kriya (hladini). The conclusion of all the scriptures is that the energy and the energetic are non-different. However, by the influence of the Lord’s inconceivable potency, differences and varieties are exhibited within and between these two categories. The Supreme Lord’s name, qualities, beauty and so on are under the workings of sandhini-shakti. However, when the one sandhini-shakti projects into either the transcendental or the mundane realm, different realities are produced. Hence, the material world and Vaikuntha are different. Similarly, jnana, knowledge, projected from the samvit-shakti, is different within either the mundane or the transcendental realm. The same is applicable to the hladini-shakti in producing mundane happiness and spiritual bliss, respectively. In Her original form, the hladini-shakti is the dearmost maidservant of Krishna, Shrimati Radhika."
Shri Krishna’s intrinsic potency is called the para-shakti, the superior spiritual potency. She is manifold, expansive, variegated and pleasure enhancing. However, although Her influences are innumerable, from the point of view of the jiva.
three of Her manifestations are primary. They are known as the cit-shakti (spiritual potency), the jiva-shakti (marginal living entity potency) and the maya-shakti (illusory material potency). In the Veda, these three influences of the para-shakti are described in many places.
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (4.8) describes the cit-shakti manifestation thus:
rico akshare parame vyoman yasmin
deva adhivishve nisheduh
yas tan na veda kim rica karishyati ya ittad vidus ta ime samasate
"The sacred sounds, sights and narrations of the spiritual realm are described in the Rig Veda, under which all the demigods have taken shelter. They, who do not know this truth, what benefit will they get from studying the Rig? However, those who have realised this truth revel in their great fortune."
Karika, Explanatory Verse
vishnu-shaktih para prokta purane
vaishnave tu ya
sa caivatratma shaktitve varnita tattva-nirnaye
"In the Vishnu Purana, the Supreme Lord Vishnu’s para-shakti is mentioned. After proper analysis, it is ascertained that this para-shakti is described as the svarupa-shakti, the Lord's personal internal potency."
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (1.3) also describes the maya-shakti:
te dhyana-yoganugata apashyan
devatma-shaktim sva-gunair nigudam
yah karanani nikhilani tani kalatma-yuktany adhi tishthaty ekah
"One Supremely Energetic Personality is present within the time factor and the jivas, and is the sum total cause of this material universe, which is regulated by His own desire. The Brahman realised souls meditate on the energy that is generated by the Energetic’s own will, possessing His selfsame qualities and influence. They perceive this energy as the cause of this material cosmos."
Karika, Explanatory Verse
avidyakarma samjna va vaisnave hy
mayakhyaya ca sa prokta hy amnayartha- vinirnaye
"A shakti is described in the Vishnu Purana as avidya-karma-samjna, that which influences activities in nescience. After analysing the Vedic conclusion, this shakti has been termed the maya-shakti."
A description of the jiva-shakti is also found in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (4.8):
chandamsi yajnah kratavo vratani
bhutam bhavyam yac ca veda vadanti
asman mayi srijyate vishvam etat
tasmimsh canyo mayaya sanniruddhah
"All that has been sung in the Veda—the different types of sacrifices, (agnishtoma, ashvamedha, etc), the various vows like candrayana, the time factor, and so on, are all created by the Lord and controller of maya. In this material creation, all the jivas are maya’s captive."
Karika, Explanatory Verse
kshetra-jnakhya ca ya shaktih sa
jiva-shaktir iti prokta yaya jivash canekadha
"In the Vishnu Purana (6.7.61) a shakti called the kshetrajna-shakti is described. It is ascertained as the tatastha or jiva-shakti (marginal energy). Countless jivas are generated by this shakti."
The description of the jiva-shakti in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (4.5):
ajam ekam lohita-shukla-krishnam
vahvih prajah srijamanam svarupah
ajo hy eko jushamano’ nushete
jahaty enam bhukta-bhogam ajo’nyah
“ ‘The Prakriti potency is the mother of much progeny—the three modes of material nature, (sattva, white; raja, red; and tama, black), and therefrom the twenty-four elements of this material nature. She is ‘svarupah,’ the energy of the Supreme Lord and is His unborn, eternal consort and is non-different from Him. She is being served and worshipped by another unborn personality, the conditioned jiva, who in his ignorance considers himself the purusha, enjoyer, of Her, prakriti, the material nature. Another unborn purusha, the jiva situated in knowledge, renounces this false attempt to enjoy Her and thus attains liberation.”
In this context the Bhagavad-gita states (Ch 9.8, 10—Ch 7.4, 5):
prakritim svam avashtabhya visrijami
bhuta-gramam imam kritsnam avasham prakriter vashat
mayadhyakshena prakritih suyate sacaracaram
hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate
bhumir apo’nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me bhinna prakritir ashtadha
apareyam itas tv anyam prakritim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam mahabaho yayedam dharyate jagat
"The whole cosmic order is under Me, Krishna. By My will, it is automatically manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated in the end. This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and producing all moving and non-moving beings. Under its rule, this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again. Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies. Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises of all the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material inferior nature."
By the influence of Shri Krishna, the three potencies—the material world (jada-jagat), world of living entities (jiva-jagat), and spiritual world (cit-jagat)—are maintained. In each of these realms, the three energies—sandhini, samvit and hladini—are present.
The interaction of sandhini-vritti (the uniting tendency) with the cit-shakti (the spiritual potency) produces the spiritual world, the transcendental form, the spiritual paraphernalia and all such spiritual opulence. Shri Krishna’s name, form, qualities and pastimes are all caused by sandhini vritti. The samvit-vritti (potency of cognisance) in cit-shakti brings forth the entire spectrum of transcendental loving sentiments known as bhava. The hladini-vritti (the pleasure giving potency) in cit-shakti inspires all the ecstatic loving exchanges that generate ever-increasing rasa, spiritual relish.
The sandhini-vritti in jiva-shakti manifests the living entity's transcendental existence, transcendental name and transcendental home etc. Samvit-vritti in jiva-shakti produces the impersonal knowledge of Brahman. The hladini-vritti in jiva-shakti produces the bliss of Brahman realisation and the position within it.
The bliss of samadhi (the perfection of ashtanga-yoga also known as kaivalya) is also caused by hladini-vritti in jiva-shakti.
Sandhini-vritti in the maya-shakti generates the fourteen planetary systems of this material cosmos, the gross and subtle bodies of the jivas, elevates the jiva to the higher heavenly planets and creates his material senses. It also manifests the conditioned jiva’s material name, material beauty, material qualities and his material activities. Samvit-vritti in the maya-shakti brings forth the conditioned jiva’s thoughts, hopes, imagination and judgement. The hladini-vritti in the maya-shakti creates the gross mundane pleasures and the subtle heavenly enjoyments in the higher planetary systems.
It is important to reiterate that sandhini, samvit and hladini vrittis in cit-shakti, the internal spiritual potency, are unfettered from any material design, contamination and adulteration—thus they are eternally dynamic in their absolute capacity. In the jiva-shakti, they are manifest infinitesimally. In the maya-shakti, however, they are projected in a perverted form and are mere shadows of their original statuses. For the jiva, the maya-vritti (mundane proclivities) are all very trivial. The jiva’s own nature is not insignificant, but inadequate. Without the touch of the hladini-vritti in cit-shakti (the spiritual creation), the jiva can never experience absolute, infinite bliss. And this is impossible for him to achieve without receiving the mercy of Krishna or one who is the recipient of such mercy. This is explained in the karika, explanatory verse that follows:
virodha-bhanjika shakti yuktasya saccid
vartante yugapad-dharmah paraspara-virodhinah
sarupatvam arupatvam vibhutvam murtir eva ca
nirlepatvam kripavatvam ajatvam jayamanata
sarvaradhyatvam gopatvam sarva-jnam nara bhavata
savisheshatva-sampattis tatha ca nirvisheshata
simavad yukti-yuktanam asima-tattva-vastuni
tarko hi viphalas tasmac chraddhamnaye phala prada
"Shri Krishna, the embodiment of eternality, absolute knowledge, and unlimited bliss, possesses an inconceivable potency called virodha-bhanjika-shakti (removing all contradictions). By the influence of this potency, all apparently contrary principles and natures are unified and are eternally present. Form and formlessness; omnipresence and localised beautiful physical presence; equal disposition towards all and special favour of mercy towards devotees; birthlessness and taking birth; being the supreme object of everyone’s worship and accepting the position of a cowherd boy; omniscience and accepting the position of a human being; impersonalism and personalism; and many such unlimited contradictory characteristics are wonderfully harmonised and manifest in Shri Krishna’s personality. And furthermore, they are engaged in assisting the activities of Shrimati Radhika, the embodiment of the highest spiritual emotions and pleasure giving potency. Those who doubt and contest this truth are truly deprived. Before one begins a debate, one must consider that human logic is very limited; hence, it has no jurisdiction in the realm of the unlimited, inconceivable principle. The fortunate soul discards dry rhetoric and cultivates faith in the evidence of the revealed scriptures—the Vedas. This seed of faith sprouts and gradually grows into a creeper of devotion to finally rest at Shri Krishna’s lotus feet."
There are many Vedic statements to support this truth. For a better understanding, a few may be cited. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (3.9) says:
apanipado javano grahita pashyaty
acakshuh sa shrinoty akarnah
sa vetti vedyam na ca tasyasti vetta tam ahur agryam purusham mahantam
"The Supreme Lord does not have material hands and feet yet He is able to receive anything and go everywhere. He does not possess material eyes and yet He sees the past, present and future. He does not have material ears and yet He hears. He is the knower of everything, omniscient, but Him no one can know. The self-realised and enlightened souls know Him as the Primeval Lord and Supreme Being."
The Ishopanishad (Iso. 5) states in this context:
tad ejati tan naijati tad dure tad
tad antarasya sarvasya tad u sarvasyasya bahyatah
"The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything."
The Ishopanishad further declares (Isho. 8):
sa paryagac chukram akayam avranam
asnaviram shuddham apapa-viddham
kavir manishi paribhuh svayambhur
yathatathyato ’rthan vyadadhac chashvatibhyah samabhyah
"The Supreme Soul, Paramatma, is all pervasive, pure, without material form, indestructible, without veins, without designation, transcendental to maya, a seer, omniscient, self-manifest and the Supreme Enjoyer. By the power of His own inconceivable potency, He has allocated each of the eternal substances with their individuality."
In recognition of the Lord’s inconceivable potency, the Talavkar (3.6) says:
tasmai trinam nidadhav etad daheti
tad upapreyaya sarva javena tan na
shashaka dagdhum sa tata eva nivavrite
naitad ashakam vijnatum yad etad yaksham iti
"In the fight between the devas (demigods) and the asuras (demons), the devas came out victorious. However, the Lord, in order to curb their pride placed a blade of grass in front of Agni-deva and the other demigods. Agni-deva, the god of fire tried his utmost to burn the grass with all his powers but failed. Admitting failure, he approached the other demigods and said: I am unable to know this worshipable Personality."
The Chandogya Upanishad (8.13.1) says:
shyamac cavalam prapadye
shavalac chyamam prapadye
" Through Shri Krishna, I surrender to his energy. Through his energy, I surrender to Shri Krishna."
The Gopal Upanishad (13.1) states:
dvibhujam mauna-mudratyam vana-malinam ishvaram
"We worship the son of Maharajä Nanda, Who is dressed as a cowherd boy, Whose divine eyes are like fully blossomed lotus flowers, Whose complexion is like fresh monsoon clouds, whose dress is golden yellow like lightning, and whose beautiful form is two-handed. He stands in the pose of meditative silence, decorated with a garland of wild flowers. Anyone who meditates upon this wonderful form of the Lord is immediately released from the shackles of saàsära, repeated birth and death."
In discussing the shakti principle, the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Cc. Madhya. 8.151-160) has a very important reference:
krishnera ananta shakti ta’te tina
cic cakti, maya shakti, jiva shakti nama
antaranga, bahiranga, tatastha kahi ya’re
antaranga svarupa shakti sabara upare
sac cid ananda maya krishnera svarupa
ataeva svarupa shakti haya tina rupa
anandamshe hladini, sadamshe sandhini
cidamshe samvit, ya’re jnana kari’ mani
krishnake ahlade ta’te nama ahladini
sei shakti dvare sukha asvade apani
sukha rupa krishna kare sukha asvadana
bhakta gane sukha dite hladini karana
hladinira sara amsha ta’ra prema nama
ananda chinmaya rasa premera akhyana
premera parama sara mahabhava jani
sei mahabhava rupa radha thakurani
"Krishna has unlimited potencies, which can be divided into three main parts. These are the spiritual potency, the material potency and the marginal potency, which is known as the living entities. In other words, these are all potencies of God—internal, external and marginal. However, the internal potency is the Lord’s personal energy and stands over the other two. Originally, Lord Krishna is sac-cit-ananda-vigraha, the transcendental form of eternity, knowledge and bliss. Therefore, His personal potency, the internal potency, has three different forms. Hladini is His aspect of bliss; sandhini, of eternal existence; and samvit, of cognisance—which is also accepted as knowledge. The potency called hladini gives Krishna transcendental pleasure. Through this pleasure potency, Krishna personally tastes all spiritual pleasure. He tastes all kinds of transcendental happiness, although He Himself is happiness personified. The pleasure relished by His pure devotee is also manifest by His pleasure potency. The most essential part of this pleasure potency is love of Godhead (prema). Consequently, the explanation of love of Godhead is also a transcendental mellow full of pleasure. The essential part of love of Godhead is called mahabhava, transcendental ecstasy, and Shrimati Radharani embodies that ecstasy."
By the dynamic function of this inconceivable personal potency, the wilful Lord Shri Krishna descends to this material world accompanied by His own abode, the spiritual realm and His eternal associates. By His unlimited mercy, He reveals His supramundane abode, name, beautiful form, qualities and pastimes to the vision of the conditioned souls. It is impossible for the jiva to perceive all these spiritual manifestations through his imperfect material senses; but, by Krishna’s causeless mercy and His inconceivable potency, they become manifest even to the mundane senses. The Lord sometimes performs pastimes in His partial incarnations as Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nrisimha, Vamana, Rama and so on. The esoteric truth is that Shri Krishna is the fountainhead of all incarnations and all other incarnations have emanated from Him. His personal and partial expansions are all fully spiritual and transcendental. None of them requires the assistance of the illusory potency, maya, or takes a material form. At certain times, Shri Krishna’s potency is invested in some elevated jivas to manifest as His empowered incarnations, shaktyaveshavatara.
Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 20.167, 185, 243-246) has described the different types of incarnations in this manner:
prabhava vaibhava rupe dvi vidha
prabhava vaibhava bhede vilasa dvidhakara
prakasha vilasera ei kaila vivarana
svamshera bheda eve shuna sanatana
sankarshana matsyadika dui bheda tanra
avatara haya krishnera shad vidha prakara
purushavatara eka lilavatara ara
gunavatara ara manvantara bhara ara
yugavatara ara shaktyavesha avatara
"In His original form, Krishna manifests Himself in two features—prabhava and vaibhava. He expands His one original form into many, as He did during the rasa-lila dance. Again, the vilasa forms are divided into two-fold categories—prabhava and vaibhava. Again, the pastimes of these forms are of unlimited variety. I have already described the pastime and prakasha forms. Now please hear about the different personal expansions. Sankarshana is an expansion of the Purusha, or Vishnu. The incarnations such as Matsya, the fish incarnation, appear in different yugas for specific pastimes. There are six types of incarnations (avataras) of Krishna. One is the incarnation of Vishnu (purusha-avatara) and another is the incarnation meant for the performance of pastimes (lila-avatara). There are incarnations that control the material qualities (guna-avatara), incarnations of the Manus (manvantara-avatra), incarnations in different millenniums (yuga-avatara) and incarnations of empowered entities (shaktyavesha-avatara)."
All the details regarding the different categories of incarnations are available in the 20th chapter of the All the details regarding the different categories of incarnations are available in the 20th chapter of the Madhya Lila in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita and in the Laghu-Bhagavatamrta by Shrila Rupa Gosvami.
The Absolute Truth, the embodiment of non-dual knowledge, is rasa, spiritual relish. If one is unable to perceive rasa, one cannot have the slightest understanding of the Absolute, Non-dual Truth. The Taittiriya Upanishad (2.7.1) describes rasa in the following manner:
raso vai sah
rasam hy evayam labdhvanandi bhavati
ko hy evanyat kah pranyat
yad esha akasha anando na syat
esha hy evanandayati
"The Supreme Absolute Truth is rasa. The jiva, the living entity, experiences ineffable bliss by attaining this rasa. Who would endeavour to keep the body and soul together, if it were that rasa, the embodiment of the eternal principle, were not the personification of bliss? Who could breathe without the Lord giving breath? Who could be happy without the Lord giving happiness? It is He who gives pleasure and transcendental bliss to all."
The eternal form of rasa becomes manifest as shraddha (faith), nishtha (steadiness), ruci (taste), and asakti (attachment) for the Supreme Lord are gradually converted to rati (loving attraction). It is then called sthayi-bhava, fixed loving emotions. Bhakti-rasa is experienced at the stage of rati (loving attraction) when sthayi-bhava is mixed with and fortified by: vibhava (the basis of ecstatic love), anubhava (the symptoms of ecstasy), sattvika-bhava (ecstatic manifestations), and vyabhicari (disturbing ecstatic symptoms). Thus, rati becomes relishable in a wonderful way. The transformations and interactions of mundane exchanges (rasa) and the transcendental spiritual rasa are more or less the same.
When spiritual inclination in relationship to God reaches fixed steadiness, bhakti-rasa is generated. When the spirit of enjoyment for objects unconnected to Krishna reaches a fixed steadiness, an insignificant semblance of rasa, called mundane rasa is produced. When the inclination towards the non-dual Brahman by empirical pursuit reaches fixed steadiness, brahman-rasa is experienced. Similarly, when the inclination to yoga meditation on the Supersoul reaches fixed steadiness, paramatma-rasa is created. However, shraddha, devoid of vibhava, anubhava, sattvika and vyabhicari prior to the stage of sthayi-bhava, produces a disjointed, interrupted and incomplete rasa known as khanda-rasa.
Mundane rasa is indeed a very banal and paltry rasa, hence let the mundane poets gambol in it and the seekers of materialistic pleasure relish it. We do not have any connection with it. We shall adhere to delineating the spiritual rasa. Later, we shall discuss the differences in the afore-mentioned brahman-rasa and paramatma-rasa. However now we shall delve further into the subject of rasa by analysing the symptoms and supports of spiritual rasa.
Rasa is created when rati has matured and produced sthayi-bhava. When the four ingredients of bhava (vibhava, anubhava, sattvika bhava and vyabhicari bhava) are added, rasa is churned up. Vibhava (the basis of ecstatic love) is of two kinds: alambana (the support—the person) and uddipana (the stimuli—the characteristics of the person). Alambana is further divided into two: ashraya (the shelter) and visaya (the object). The devotee, in whom the sthayi-bhava reposes, is the ashraya (the shelter) of rasa. The Person towards whom the sthayi-bhava is directed is the vishaya, (the object of rasa). In the realm of spiritual rasa, the object of worship is the vishaya and the worshiper is the shelter, ashraya. The qualities and characteristics of the object of worship are known as uddipanas (stimuli).
The following is a list of the twelve different anubhavas (external bodily symptoms of ectacsy): dancing, rolling on the ground, singing loudly, stretching the body, crying out loudly, yawning, breathing heavily, disregarding the presence of others, drooling, laughing madly, reeling in the head and belching.
Next is a list of the eight sattvika bhavas (transformations in the body arising from the internal disturbance of the heart and prana): becoming stunned, perspiration, horripilation, faltering of the voice, trembling, pallor, tears and devastation (fainting).
There are, in all, thirty-three symptoms of vyabhicari bhava (overwhelming ecstatic love): disappointment, lamentation, humility, guilt, fatigue, intoxication, pride, doubt, apprehension, intense emotion, madness, forgetfulness, disease, confusion, death, laziness, inertness, bashfulness, concealment, remembrance, argumentativeness, anxiety, thoughtfulness, endurance, happiness, eagerness, violence, haughtiness, envy, impudence, dizziness, sleepiness and alertness.
All these ecstatic symptoms rise like the sun and create waves in the ocean of bhava to further nurture the devotee's sthayi-bhava.
Rasa, spiritual relish, is of two types: mukhya (principal) and gauna (subordinate). The principal mukhya-rasas are five: neutrality, servitorship, fraternity, parental and conjugal.
The subordinate gauna-rasas are seven: humour, astonishment, chivalry, compassion, anger, dread and ghastliness. The five principal rasas manifest individually in different devotees according to their intensity of loving attraction for Krishna—known as rati. Of the five rasas, when shanta-rasa, neutrality, is of medium intensity it focuses on Brahman or Paramatma as its vishaya, object. However, when shanta-rasa thickens, the Lord of Vaikuntha, Narayana, becomes its vishaya. When dasya-rasa, servitorship, is mixed with awe and majesty, Lord Naryana is its vishaya but, when this rasa is unadulterated, then Shri Krishna becomes the vishaya, the object of love. Sakhya-rasa (fraternal), vatsalya-rasa (parental), and madhurya-rasa (conjugal) do not accept anyone other than Shri Krishna as their vishaya.
This is described in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya. 19.177-184):
sadhana bhakti haite haya ratira
rati gadha haile ta’ra prema nama kaya
prema vriddhi krame nama-sneha, mana, pranaya
raga, anuraga, bhava, mahabhava haya
yaiche bija, ikshu, rasa, guda khanda sara
sharkara, sita-michari, uttama michari ara
ei saba krishna bhakti rase sthayibhava
sthayibhave mile yadi vibhava anubhava
sattvika, vyabhicari bhavera milane
krishna bhakti rasa haya amrita asvadane
bhakti bhede rati bheda panca parakara
shanta rati, dasya rati, sakhya rati ara
vatsalya rati, madhura rati e panca vibheda
rati bhede krishna bhakti rase panca bheda
"By regularly rendering devotional service, one gradually becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When that attachment is intensified, it becomes, prema, love of Godhead. The basic aspects of prema, when gradually increasing to different levels, are affection, rejection, love, attachment, deeper attachment, ecstasy and great ecstasy. The gradual development of prema may be compared to the different states of sugar. First, there is the seed of the sugarcane, then sugarcane, and then the juice is extracted from the cane. When this juice is boiled, it forms liquid molasses, then solid molasses, then raw sugar, crystal sugar, rock candy and finally lozenges. All these stages illustrate the development of sthayi-bhava, continuous love of Godhead in devotional service. In addition to these stages, there are vibhava and anubhava. When the higher standard of ecstatic love is mixed with symptoms of sattvika and vyabhicari bhava, the devotee relishes the transcendental bliss of loving Krishna in a variety of nectarine tastes. According to the devotee, attachment falls within the five categories of shanta-rati, dasya-rati, sakhya-rati, vatsalya-rati and madhurya-rati. These five categories arise from the devotees' different attachments to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The transcendental mellows, rasas, derived from devotional service are therefore of five divisions."
Those who desire to understand this esoteric science of rasa more comprehensively may read the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu and Ujjvala-nilamani under the tutelage of an advanced Vaishnava devotee. These topics have been discussed in Chaitanya-caritamrita concisely in the sections where Shri Chaitanya instructs Shrila Rupa Gosvami and Shrila Sanatana Gosvami.
Now we shall discuss how Shri Krishna is the ocean of unlimited nectarine rasa. It has already been established that Shri Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Omnipotent Energetic Principle.
The following verse by Shrila Rupa Gosvami (B.r.s Purva-vibhaga 32) gives a more complete understanding of Krishna:
siddhantatas tv abhede’pi
rasenotkrishyate krishna-rupam esa rasa-sthitih
"In essence there is no difference between the forms of Lord Narayana and Shri Krishna. Yet, in the consideration of shringara-rasa, conjugal rasa, the beautiful form of Krishna, being saturated with rasa, has acquired pre-eminence over all others. In this way, the paradigm of rasa is established."
shaBrahman and Paramätmä are both features of the Supreme Absolute Truth yet they are without a form made of rasa. However, the feature of Bhagavän presupposes form. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavän, manifests in two features: aiçvarya-prakäça (opulent manifestation) and mädhurya-prakäça (sweet and intimate manifestation). The çänta-rasa manifested toward the Brahman and Paramätmä features is sparse. The only relationship the worshiper is able to establish with the Supreme Lord when He manifests His form of opulence (aiçvarya) is däsya-rasa, servitorship. The Lord’s opulence is so infinite and the jiva’s minuteness so infinitesimal that an awe and reverential mood is unavoidable in the jiva’s approach to the Lord. However, as long as the jiva is controlled by his preference for awe and majesty, he cannot develop a taste for the higher rasas. Thus, the Supreme Lord, out of His causeless mercy towards the jiva, manifests His beautiful form of Krishna to enable the jiva to relate with Him in His mädhurya-prakäça (sweet and intimate manifestation).
The Chaitanya-caritämrita (Cc. Adi. 4.17-27) states:
aiçvarya-jnänete saba jagat miçrita
aiçvarya çithila preme häni mora prita
ämäre içvara mäne äpanake hina
tä’ra preme vaça ämi, na hai adhina
ämäke ta’ ye ye bhakta bhaje yei bhäve
täre se se bhäve bhaji-e mora svabhäve
mora putra, mora sakhä, mora präna pati
ei bhäve yei mora kare çuddha bhakti
äpanake bada mäne, ämäre sama hina
sei bhäve hai ämi tähära adhina
mätä more putra bhäve karena bandana
ati hina jnäne kare lälana pälana
sakhä çuddha sakhye kare skandhe arohana
tumi kon bada loka, tumi ämi sama
priya yadi mäna kari’ karaye bhartsana
veda stuti haite hare sei mora mana
ei çuddha bhakti lana karimu avatära
kariba vividha vidha abdhuta vihära
"The entire universe is filled with the conception of My majesty, but love weakened by that sense of majesty does not satisfy Me (Krishna). If one regards Me as the Supreme Lord and oneself as a subordinate; I do not become subservient to that love, nor can it control Me. In whatever transcendental humour, rasa, My devotee worships Me, I reciprocate. That is my natural behaviour. If one cherishes pure loving devotion to Me, thinking of Me as a son, a friend or the beloved, regarding oneself as superior and considering Me equal or even inferior, I become subordinate. Mother sometimes binds Me as her son. She nourishes and protects Me, thinking of Me as utterly helpless. My friends climb on My shoulders in pure friendship, saying, 'What kind of big man are You? You and I are equal.' If my beloved consort reproaches Me in a sulky mood, that steals My mind from the reverential mood of the hymns of the Veda. Taking such pure devotees with Me, I shall descend and sport in various wonderful ways."
Dear, respected readers! If Lord Shri Krishna’s form were not manifest to us, then the object of lofty love in fraternal, parental and conjugal spiritual exchanges (rasa) would not be available to the jiva. Actually, in this world, bhäva, spiritual emotion, should be recognised as the primary pursuit and necessity of humanity. On the material platform, the jivas' knowledge about the Supreme Absolute Truth is naturally limited and exiguous. Following the path of empirical knowledge the jiva advances only slightly and cannot have a proper understanding about the Supreme Controller. Therefore, empirical pursuit is futile for realising the Supreme Lord’s form and leads to the personal path being abandoned in favour of a formless, non-qualitative, impersonal God. The Supreme is unattainable by the process of jnäna (empirical knowledge); the only possible way to attain Him is through bhäva, devotional love. To the level a jiva is advanced in God-consciousness, his bliss is to that degree relishable. Advancement in material consciousness through education and intellect is not spiritual advancement. Gradual elevation in spiritual consciousness is attainable only through pure devotional emotions and love.
Even an illiterate fool can obtain in large measure the Lord’s mercy. Whereas, a very erudite and sophisticated pandit, by cultivating an atheistic attitude, ends up developing an animalistic consciousness and is bereft of any mercy from the Lord. Thus, in the matter of obtaining the Supreme Lord’s mercy, one’s caste, education, wealth, strength, good looks and mundane expertise are ineffectual. It is often observed that great scholars and famous personalities, due to their arrogance, are being herded into hellish life; while, on the other hand, illiterate simpletons, weak and poor, by serving the Supreme Lord are attaining lasting peace. Thus, bhäva, devotional emotion, is dependent on faith and not scholarship for its development and transformation to çänta and däsya rasa. And some, rarely, can even attain sakhya, vätsalya and madhura-rasa. The pure devotee in madhura-rasa is the best of all the rasikä-bhaktas, devotees who are relishing a spiritual relationship.
The Chaitanya-caritämrita (Madhya 19.222, 228, 232, 233) describes in this regard:
shantera guna, dasyera sevana-sakhya
dasye sambhrama gaurava seva, sakhye vishvasa maya
apanake palaka jnana krishne palya jnana
cari rasera gune vatsalya amrita samana
kanta bhave nijanga diya karena sevana
ata eva madhura rasa haya panca guna
akashadi guna yena para para bhute
eka dui tina krama panca prithivite
"The qualities of shanta-rasa (neutrality) and dasya-rasa (servitude) are both present on the platform of sakhya-rasa (fraternity). On this platform of sakhya-rasa (fraternity), the quality of dasya-rasa (servitude) is mixed with the mood of friendship instead of awe and veneration. On the platform of vatsalya rasa (parental love), the devotee considers himself the Lord’s maintainer. Thus, the Lord is the object of maintenance, like a son, and therefore this spiritual relish is full of the four qualities of shanta-rasa (neutrality), dasya-rasa (servitude), sakhya-rasa (fraternity), and vatsalya rasa (parental love). This is greater transcendental nectar. On the platform of madhura rasa (conjugal love), the devotee offers his body in the service of the Lord. Thus on this platform all five transcendental qualities are present. All the material qualities evolve one after another in the material elements, beginning from ether. By gradual evolution, first one quality develops, then two qualities, then three and then four, until all five qualities are found in earth."
shnriiDevotees who are able to relish only minuscule drops of spiritual humour (rasa) have a difficult time believing in madhura-rasa when they hear about it—in fact, they are afraid of committing offences. All the other religious beliefs that are propagated in this world are at best almost close to dasya-rasa. Therefore, when the learned preceptors of these different religions hear the mention of madhura-rasa, they are somewhat apprehensive and fear the possibility of a fall-down so they feel obliged to reject it. Instead, they may even misconstrue the process of madhura-rasa worship and paint a distorted image.
In every aspect of human life, persons on a lower level of understanding invariably criticise the actions of persons on a higher level, thinking them to be mistaken. But when they themselves rise to the platform of the higher level, they then realise their own mistake and repent, "How foolish I was to have censured the actions of those on the higher level." Therefore, we humbly request the followers of other religious paths to consider this topic with reverence, for it is very profound. Without proper and sincere analysis, they should not draw wrong conclusions based on bigoted views and superstitions. An honest attempt may be made to enthrone the Lord in the core of the heart and to worship Him in the spiritual mood of madhura-rasa (conjugal love). If one relishes this, then one should seek guidance from a spiritual preceptor steeped in this rasa. If, however, such worship is not pleasurable then one must reject it as a level of worship beyond his reach—but never commit the offence of belittling or blaspheming it.
At this juncture, more space and words cannot be allocated to this topic. Suffice it to mention that a devotee eligible to obtain madhura-rasa (conjugal love), does not obtain as the object of worship and love (visaya) the form and expansions of Çré Narayaëa. The beautiful form of Çré Kåñëa is alone the only visaya of this highest of spiritual humours (rasas). If one calmly considers without any bias and with freedom from the clutches of superstitious, preconceived notions, then one can easily arrive at the conclusion that within the paradigm of rasa, the form of Çré Kåñëa is the purest and the best—higher than any other form of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Çré Kåñëa’s tendency is to act on a platform of equality with His devotees, but this does not imply that He is inferior to His other manifestations. In fact, it is due to this quality that Çré Kåñëa is superior to all other expansions.
Çré Kåñëa’s characteristics are the same as the other manifestations of Godhead—transcendental characteristics such as absolute supramundane spirituality, which is endowed with complete wholeness and controllership over maya. An additional superlative characteristic of Çré Kåñëa is that He manifests, on the mundane plane, His transcendental pastimes, by the agency of His internal spiritual potency, for perception by the mundane senses. Although he descends to the earthly planet and simulates mundane behaviour, He and His activities are all perfect, omnipotent and transcendental. To His young friends, He was a bosom friend, to His parents and elders, He was a helpless and obedient child, to His devotees in conjugal love, He was the most beloved of lovers; yet, in all of these relationships and exchanges, Kåñëa always maintained the highest degree of Divinity. Even whilst performing His human pastimes in the midst of human beings, He acted with supreme authority so as to let the officiating demigods know that He was still their controller and Lord, thus amazing the scholars and philosophers.
If, by His causeless mercy, Çré Kåñëa had not revealed His world enchanting pastimes as the young, beautiful cowherd boy, then, could anyone have known Him as the highest viñaya (object of love) in madhura-rasa? Lord Kåñëa’s pastimes are neither the fabrications of a fertile human imagination, nor the perverted and blind faith of deprived and dissatisfied men—only persons who understand the highest values and ultimate goal of life can comprehend them. In Kåñëa’s pastimes, His Vraja-léla, pastimes in Våndavana, are the best because in regards to rasa, the jéva benefits the most from them. Intellects tempered by rhetoric and logic cannot grasp the magnitude of Çré Kåñëa’s pastimes. The devotee who has relished the rasa, the humour of Kåñëa’s pastimes, can alone know its sweetness. To comprehend and heartily appreciate the Vraja pastimes is a matter of great fortune.
Debates and analyses on what is religion and irreligion, arguments, logic, empirical knowledge and yoga lie in a small insignificant pile on one side, while on the other side the brilliant gems of the Vraja pastimes illuminate the hearts of highly intellectual transcendentalists and spread their spiritual brilliance all around.
A Karika, Explanatory Verse, Elucidates
vibhavadyair jadodbhutair raso’yam
aprakritair vibhavadyair raso’yam paramarthikah
paramartha rasah krishnas tanmaya chayaya prithak
jadoditam rasam vishve vitanoti bahir mukhe
bhagyavams tam parityajya brahmanandadikam svakam
cid vishesham samashritya krishna rasabdhim apnuyat
tam tv aopanishadam saksat purusham krishnam eva hi
atma shabdena vedanta vadanti priti purvakam
"When rati (attraction) for material persons and objects is nurtured by mundane vibhava, anubhava, sattvika and vyabhicari symptoms, then, mundane rasa is produced. It may be used only for social interaction on the material plane. But when the transcendental ingredients of bhava—vibhava, anubhava, sattvika and vyabhicari—nurture spiritual rati (attraction) and convert it to spiritual rasa (mellow) then that is perfection on the absolute plane. The sole vishaya, object of love, in transcendental rasa is Shri Krishna. The material rasa, when projected into the plane of maya, the illusory energy, is only an ignoble shadow image of the spiritual reality. Thus, it is distinct from the spiritual rasa. In the material world, which is the realm of sensuality in forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord, only mundane rasa is rampant. The most fortunate souls reject even the happiness derived from Brahman realisation, take shelter of the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord, and become immersed in the nectarine ocean of krishna-prema.
Rasa is of two kinds: social (vyavaharika) and spiritual (pramarthika). When mundane ingredients (vibhava, anubhava, sattvika and vyabhicari) of mundane emotions (bhava) bring mundane love (rati) to the level of rasa (mellow); then a mundane rasa for social interaction (vyavaharika) is generated creating the physical attraction between man and woman. This is a very meagre, temporary and distorted rasa—it is simply a perverted reflection of the spiritual, transcendental rasa principle. The pure spirit soul when unfettered by his gross and subtle bodies is spiritual and transcendental. His natural love and affection is also transcendental.
When this rati (love) reaches fixed steadiness (sthayi-bhava) and is supported by the four bhava ingredients: spiritual vibhava, spiritual anubhava, spiritual sattvika and spiritual vyabhacari, then it becomes very relishable and at this stage is converted into spiritual rasa, humour. Especially when the spiritual alambana of Shri Krishna’s transcendental form becomes the transcendental vishaya, object of love, the mellow of krishna-bhakti is generated. Shri Krishna is the embodiment of spiritual rasa. His maya potency, in the form of a shadow representation (chaya-svarupa), is spread throughout the whole universe to facilitate the enjoyment of the mundane rasa by the materialistic population that has turned away from Krshna.
However, the most fortunate souls reject this ignoble rasa and also overcome the temptation of the exiguous rasa known as brahmananda, the bliss of Brahman realisation, to finally take shelter of the pure, dynamic, variegated, and transcendental rasa. They become submerged in the unlimited nectar ocean of Shri Krishna’s beauty.
Lest anyone ignorantly debases the transcendental rasa from its supreme status down to the mundane level, the Ujjvala-nilamani, Nayaka-bheda (16) instructs:
laghutvam atra yat proktam tat tu
na krishne rasa niryasa svadartham avatarini
"Everything about the conjugal rasa (shringara-rasa) if pulled down to the level of the material plane becomes minimised and contemptible. However, in its original transcendental plane, it is worshipable, majestic and a priceless treasure of the spiritual realm. There is not a shadow of the mundane in shringara-rasa. Its vibhava (basis of ecstatic love) has nothing to do with the gross and subtle material bodies within which there is only a faint presence of anubhava, sattvika and vyabhicari bhavas. The Supreme Lord Krishna descends to the material world simply to relish the spiritual concentrated rasa. He is not an incarnation but is the source of all incarnations, the avatari."
For the transcendental Supreme Lord and Hero of all living entities, the ultimate source of all divinities and incarnations, the variety He exhibits in His pastimes as a paramour in the supramundane shringara-rasa, conjugal humour, is never reprehensible or condemnable. The more one approaches this topic objectively, without bias, the more one is introduced to its wonderful philosophical conclusion. If one attempts to apply the censure of mundane morality upon the supramundane rasa, then, at best, it can only be described as prejudice and bigotry. Thus vitiated by prejudice, the unfortunate moralists condemn the transcendental rasa-lila pastimes between the supramundane Supreme Lord and His pure devotees, not understanding its spiritual status. Their only gain from such an attitude is self-deception and self-denial. As mentioned in the Upanishads, Lord Shri Krishna is the only Supreme Enjoyer.
The Vedas all describe Him respectfully as atma (Chandogya Upanishad: 7.25.2):
atmaivedam sarvam iti sa va esha evam
pashyann evam manvan evam
vijanan atma ratir atma krida atma mithuna atmanandah sa svarad bhavati
"Shri Krishna, the Supreme Soul, is for all of us the sum total aggregate. By observing, meditating upon and realising this truth the jiva attains self-contentment, self-accomplishment and self-union, which ultimately liberates him."
In the Mundakopanishad (Mu.Up 1.2) is stated:
sarvam hy etad brahmayam atma brahma so’yam atma catushpat
"Everything is an expansion from Brahman. The Supersoul, Krishna, is the Supreme Brahman. Although He is one, yet by the power of His inconceivable potencies He is eternally manifest as four—all embodiments of transcendental rasa."
Shrila Jiva Gosvami has concisely delineated the foursome manifestation of the Supreme Brahman in his classic treatise Bhagavad Sandarbha (16):
ekam eva tat paramam tattvam
caturdhavatishthate suryantara-mandala-sthita-tejo iva
"The Supreme Absolute Truth is one. Inconceivable potency is His inherent characteristic. Through the agency of this potency, He is eternally manifest in four forms, named svarupa (His original form), tad-rupa-vaibhava (His non-different expansion), jiva (His separated energy) and pradhana (the material aggregate—maya). An example to explain this principle is the analogy of the Sun’s internal energy, the Sun planet, the emanating rays of the Sun and their reflection at a distance."
A Karika, Explanatory Verse, delineates this point
vedartha brimhanam yatra tatra sarve
anveshayanti shastreshu shuddham krishnashritam rasam
shastreshu varnayanti sma krishna lilatmakam rasam
labdham samadhina saksat krishna-kripoditam shubham
aprakritam ca jive hi jada-bhava-vivarjite
"In scriptures like the Shrimad Bhagavatam, which is the essence of Vedic knowledge, the mahajanas, pure devotees, search for ecstatic relationship, rasa, with Shri Krishna. Self-realised sages such as the four Kumaras, Shiva, Vyasa, Narada and so on have described in their treatises the most elevated rasa of Shri Krishna’s supramundane pastimes. By Shri Krishna’s mercy alone, these transcendental pastimes are manifest to unalloyed transcendental devotees in their deepest meditations."
Thus, this rasa, which is of the purest quality, has been brought to this universe by the universal guru, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This nectarine Shri Krishna rasa has never been given before. In order to broadcast this truth, Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati has composed this verse in his Shri Chaitanya-candramrita (130):
gatah kasya namnam mahimnah
ko vetta kasya vrindavana-vipina-maha madhurishu praveshah
ko va janati radham parama-rasa-camatkara-madhurya-simam
ekash chaitanya-candrah parama-karunaya sarvam avishcakara
"Dear brother! Who had ever heard of prema, love of Godhead, as the highest spiritual destination? Who had ever known the esoteric significance of the Holy Name of God? Who had ever achieved the divine nectar of Vrindavana? And who could have ever known Shrimati Radharani, the most wonderful and unsurpassable embodiment of madhurya-rasa—the transcendental ecstatic potency of the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna? This is simply the mercy of Shri Chaitanyacandra, the most munificent incarnation of Godhead. Being compassionate upon humanity, He has revealed all these secrets."
The world opinion on the jiva principle, the truth about the living souls, is very much divided. Each person, according to his individual nature, has his personal opinion about the jiva (spirit soul). Persons whose natures are influenced by the material mode of ignorance (tamas) conclude that the jiva is born of matter and thereby endowed with the material qualities. Natures influenced by a combination of tamas and rajas (ignorance and passion) conclude that human beings alone belong to the category of jiva. They conclude that other species, such as animals, are lower than jiva and thereby fit objects of human exploitation. Further, they opine that the eternal associates of the Supreme Godhead are a distinct more elevated principle than human beings. Neither they accept that humans had previous lives nor that there is life after this body. They are unable to solve the mystery of why some are born with good fortune and others with misfortune. Persons influenced by the material mode of passion (rajas) believe that all living entities—humans, beasts, aquatics, birds etc. are jivas (spirit souls). They understand that there is rebirth, but they have no faith that the jiva can attain a state of pure transcendental spirituality. For them, jiva can attain only a higher state of material happiness. Those with natures of mixed rajas (passion) and sattva (goodness) believe that the jivas may be elevated to higher material states of existence by rebirth. However, they have weak faith that the jiva may transcend material nature and attain a pure spiritual existence. Persons in the mode of goodness (sattva) accept only impersonal Brahman realisation as the jiva’s ultimate destination.
Being thus deluded by the three modes of material energy, maya, in the form of goodness, passion and ignorance, the materially covered obtain their respective illusory opinions about the jiva (spirit soul). However, those who have succeeded in penetrating the three modes of material nature, maya (illusion), and can therefore reason without bias and on the basis of transcendental knowledge, are encouraged to study the following statements from Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila (6.162-163):
mayadisha, mayavasha ishvare jive
hena jive ishvara-saha kaha ta’abheda
gita-shastre jiva rupa shakti kari’ mane
hena jiva bheda kara ishvarera sane
jivera ‘svarupa’ haya-krishnera
krishnera ‘tatastha-shakti’ ‘bhedabheda-prakasha
suryamsha-kirana, yaiche agni-jvala-caya
svabhavika krishnera tina-prakara ‘shakti’ haya
krishna bhuli’sei jiva anadi bahir
ataeva maya tare deya samshara duhkha
maya sanga vikare rudra-bhinnabhinna
jiva tattva haya, nahe krishnera svarupa
dugdha yena amla yoge dadhi rupa dhare
dugdhantara vastu nahe, dugdha haite nare
svanga visheshabhasa rupe prakriti
jiva rupa bija tate kaila samarpana
svamsha vistara-caturvyuha, avatara
vibhinnamsha jiva tanra shaktite ganana
sei vibhinnamsha jiva dui ta’prakara
eka nityamukta eka nitya samshara
"The Lord is the master of potencies, and the living entity is the servant of them; that is the difference between the Lord and the living entity. However, you declare that the Lord and the living are one and the same. In the Bhagavad-Gita, the living entity is established as the marginal potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yet, you say that the living entity is completely non-different from the Lord.
"It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire. Krishna has three varieties of energy.
"Forgetting Krishna, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore, the illusory energy (maya) gives him all kinds of miseries in his material existence.
"Rudra, Lord Shiva, has various forms, which are transformations brought about by association with maya. Although Rudra is above the level of the jiva-tattva, he still cannot be considered a personal expansion of Lord Krishna. Milk is transformed into yoghurt when it associates with yoghurt culture. Thus, yoghurt is nothing but milk, but still it is not milk.
"To impregnate with the seeds of the living entities, the Lord Himself does not directly touch the material energy, but by His specific functional expansion He touches the material energy, and thus the living entities, who are His parts and parcels, are impregnated into material nature.
"Expansions of His personal self—like the quadruple manifestation of Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha—descend as incarnations from Vaikunthaloka to this material world. The separated expansions are the living entities. Although they are expansions of Krishna, they are counted among His different potencies. The living entities (jivas) are divided into two categories. Some are eternally liberated and others are eternally conditioned."
Unenlightened persons endowed with intelligence inspired by the platform of material goodness (sattva-guna) after analysing material knowledge and discussing transcendence, erroneously conclude that there is no difference between the jéva and Brahman. They assert that the differences that are apparently to be seen between them (jéva and Brahman) are external and not essential. There are three such philosophical schools that have differing proposals on this subject. One school opines that the concept of difference is false—it appears only by maya’s illusory influence. Illusion, created by ignorance, wedges a distinction between the all-pervasive sky (maha-aksha) and its reflection upon water in a pot. Similarly, illusion creates a distinction between Brahman and jéva. When ignorance is nullified, illusion dissipates and then only the maha-aksha (Brahman) remains. At this moment, the false division that produced the jéva is removed, who then ceases to exist. This school is known as: removing differences. The second school’s theory is that Brahman is factual, substance, while the jéva, under the spell of ignorance, is a mere reflection of it. In truth, at no point does the jiva ever exist. He is merely a manifestation of maya, the illusory potency. When the delusion, stemming from ignorance, is dissipated, the jéva’s apparent existence is released. The third school believes that in reality nothing actually happened. A disturbance caused by the great illusion of maya created all the differences and distinctions.
When all these varieties of opinions are discussed thoroughly then it becomes crystal clear that they are merely grandiose verbiage and that their foundations are so much speculation that can easily be refuted by better arguments and rhetoric. These opinions are formulated on the basis of unsophisticated interpretations of the Veda, used out of context. They do not present the actual conclusion of the Vedic knowledge. The Vedas conclude that the Supreme Lord is by nature the controller of maya while the jéva by constitution is fit to be controlled by maya.
Thus, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (4, 9-10) declares:
chandamsi yajnah kratavo vratani
bhutam bhavyam yac ca veda vadanti
yasman mayé shrijate vishvam etat
tasmimsh canyo mayaya sanniruddhah
mayam tu prakritim vidyan mayinam tu mahesvaram
"The Supreme Lord has created this universe through the agency of maya. The living entity, jéva, imprisoned by maya, is a different principle from the Lord and the material universe. Maya is an energy of the Supreme Controller and Enjoyer, Purusha, who is the controller of maya."
Thus, jéva is never, in any condition, non-different from the Supreme Lord. The Bhagavad-Géta (7. 4-5) proclaims the jéva is an energy—hence he is not non-different from the Lord:
bhumir apo’nalo vayuh kham mano
buddhir eva ca
ahankara itéyam me bhinna prakritir ashtadha
apareyam itas tv anyam prakritim viddhi me param
jéva bhutam mahabaho yayedam dharyate jagat
"Earth, water, fire air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies. Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of mine, that is all the living entities who are struggling with the material energy and sustaining the universe."
Jéva’s constitutional position is that he is an eternal servant of Krishna. He is the marginal potency of Shré Krishna, simultaneously one and different from Him. That energy which is eligible for both the spiritual and material worlds is called tatastha, marginal. Further, it means that he is simultaneously both different and non-different from Krishna—not just different or just non-different.
Therefore, the Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad (4.3.9) declares:
tasya va etasya purushasya dve eva
idam ca paraloka-sthanam ca sandhyam tritéyam
svapna-sthanam tasmin sandhye sthane tishthan ete
ubhe sthane pashyati idam ca paraloka-sthanam ca
"Jéva, the enjoyer, has the possibility of two residences—the material world and the spiritual realm—both of which he may seek. However, jéva finds himself at the junction of these two places—a third realm made of a dream state. From this junction he is able to observe both the material and the spiritual worlds."
The nature of the marginal position is further described in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (4.3.18)
tad yatha maha matsya ubhe kule’
nusancarati purvam ca param caivam
evayam purusha etav ubhav antav
anusancarati svapnantam ca buddhantam ca
"Just as a large fish swims from one bank of a river to the other, similarly, the jéva, who is eligible to swim in the currents of the casual ocean separating the material and spiritual worlds, swims to both banks of this ocean—the dream land of material existence and the spiritual land of the eternal awakened consciousness."
Although the jéva was generated from the Supreme Lord’s marginal energy (tatastha-shakti), yet he is a separate category from the Lord. The Sun and its rays, the fire and its sparks are used as analogies to define this phenomenon.
As stated in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.1.20):
yathagne kshudra visphulinga
evasmad atmanah sarvani bhutani vyuccaranti
"Just as small sparks are born out of a flame, similarly the jévas emanate from Krishna, the Universal Soul."
Thus, it can be established that the jévas, the minute separated parts and parcels of Shré Krishna, are fit to reside under both conditions—material and transcendental. They have emanated from the fountainhead Shré Krishna and are therefore constitutionally subservient to Him. However, the jéva is in a position to observe both the material and spiritual worlds. When the jéva develops the desire to enjoy, he then turns his back to his source of existence, Shré Krishna, and becomes enticed by maya to enjoy. Due to his forgetfulness of Shré Krishna, the jéva becomes eternally materialistic and conditioned. This unfortunate condition is brought upon himself by the misuse of his independence. Shré Krishna cannot be accused of prejudice or whimsical action for the jéva’s adverse state, since Shré Krishna is the impartial observer and does not accept any responsibility for the jéva’s misapplication of the spiritual independence inherent to his soul. Thus, Maha-Vishnu lying on the causal ocean impregnates material nature with the seeds of the errant jévas through the agency of His functional expansion. He does not have to directly contact material nature but impregnates maya with His glance (Cc. Madhya 20.273). Thus, the jéva, by the misuse of his minute independence, is punished by maya to suffer material existence.
The Supreme Lord’s partial expansions are of two kinds: svamsha (His personal expansions) and vibhinnamsha (His separated parts and parcels). Krishna's personal expansions are known as svamsha. Jéva is His vibhinnamsha, separated expansion. The primary difference between svamsha and vibhinnamsha is that Shré Krishna’s svamsha are in principle all non-different from Shré Krishna being complete Divinities endowed with full and absolute potencies (sarva-shakti-sampanna), but they acquiesce to Shré Krishna’s wishes—they have no independent wishes. The jéva, Krishna’s separated part and parcel, is eternally distinct from Krishna and His expansions. In keeping with his minuscule size, the jéva is endowed with minute potency and his desires and wishes are separate from those of Krishna.
Countless millions of jivas emanate from Shri Krishna and yet He remains unchanged—His completeness is not reduced in the least. The jivas, before they enter into maya's realm, are already guilty of the offence of turning their backs to Shri Krishna. Since this offence is the root cause of all the offences and exists even before the illusory time, the jiva can be described as being eternally conditioned by this offence. Due to contamination by contact with maya, even Lord Shiva, Rudra, who is simultaneously one and different from Shri Krishna, is not in the same category of divinity as Shri Krishna. When milk is converted to yoghurt through yoghurt culture, it develops new properties and cannot be called milk anymore (Cc. Madhya 20.309-310).
Shrila Jiva Gosvami has quoted this verse, spoken by Shri Jamatri Muni, from the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, in his Paramatma Sandarbha (19):
jnanashrayo jnana-gunash cetanah
na jato nirvikarash ca eka-rupa-svarupa-bhak
anur nityo vyapti-shilash cid anandatmakas tatha
aham-artho’vyayah kshetri bhinna-rupah sanatanah
adahyo’yam acchedyo’ kledyo’ sosyakshara eva ca
evam adi gunair yuktah shesha-bhutah parasya vai
"The living entities, jivas, are the shelter of knowledge, have the quality of knowledge, are conscious, transcendental, birthless, and immutable. In their original identity, all jivas are equal, infinitesimal, eternal, able to disperse themselves over their bodies, natural relishers of spiritual bliss, conscious of the self, inexhaustible, knowers of the body, distinct from the Lord, ever existent, non-combustible, indestructible, cannot be dried up, non-divisible. Although they are the possessors of all these qualities, yet, in their original constitution, they are servants of the Supreme Lord."
Shri Narada, in his Pancaratra, has professed that the jiva is the Lord's marginal potency:
yat tatastham tu cid rupam svakam vedyad vinirgatam
"The infinitesimal jiva, emanating from the Lord’s internal transcendental potency is the tatastha, marginal potency."
On the same subject, Shrila Jiva Gosvami elaborates upon the marginality of jiva in his Pramatma-sandarbha (37):
tatasthatvam ca maya-shakty atitatvat
paramatmano lepabhavac ca ubhaya kotav
apravishtes tasya tac caktitve saty api
paramatmanas tal lepabhavas ca yatha kvacid
eka-desha-sthe rashmau chayaya tiraskrite’pi
"The marginal potency, jiva, is distinct from maya, hence he cannot be categorised with the Lord’s illusory potency. However, jiva is prone to come under the sway of nescience and because of this fault, and because Paramatma never becomes influenced by nescience, maya, jiva is also not in the category of Paramatma. Although nescience is an energy of Paramatma, He never becomes bewildered by maya’s wiles. The sun is, in one place, covered by clouds, but the entire sun can never be completely shrouded."
Jiva is of two kinds: nitya-baddha (eternally imprisoned in maya) and nitya-mukta (eternally liberated from material conditioning).
Thus, Shrila Jiva Gosvami writes:
tad evam ananta eva jivakhyas
tatra tajivassam varga-dvayam eko vargo’ nadita
eva bhagavad-unmukhah anyas tv anadita eva
bhagavat-paranmukhah svabhavatas tadiya-jnana-bhavat
tadiya-jnanabhavat ca tatra prathamo’ ntaranga- shakti-vilasanugrihito
nitya-bhagavat-parikara rupo garudadikah
asya ca tatasthatvam jivatva-prasiddher ishvaratva-kotav
apraveshat aparam tu tat paranmukhatva-doshen
labdha-chidraya mayaya paribhutah samshari
"Jivas are eternal and innumerable. They are of two kinds. One group has always been subservient to the Supreme Lord, while the other group has been since time immemorial apathetic towards Him. Full understanding of the eternal relationship between jiva, shakti and Bhagavan (sambandha-jnana) is the reason for certain jivas’ beginningless subservience to the Lord, while lack of sambandha-jnana is the cause of other jivas’ eternal forgetfulness of the Lord. The surrendered jivas are the recipients of the Lord’s mercy. He gives them the status of eternal associates like Garuda in His pastimes that are carried out by His internal transcendental potency. They enter into the ranks of divinity, supreme controllers, as is sufficiently substantiated in the revealed scriptures, even though they are tatastha shakti, marginal. The second group of jivas, who are apathetic to the Supreme Lord, are without the shelter of the Lord’s internal potency. Thus exploiting the weakness of these jivas, maya has captured them and cast them into the prison of material existence for repeated birth and death."
Further, Shrila Jiva Gosvami in his Paramatma-sandarbha (47):
cit suryah paramatma vai jivas cit
tat kirana-kanah shuddhash cinmad arthah svarupatah
tu bhedo jivasya sarvada
bhedabheda prakasho’yam yugapaj jiva eva hi
maya-vashatva-dharmena mayavado na sambhavet
yato maya’para shaktih paraya jiva nirmitah
maya-vrittir ahankaro jivas tad atiricyate
maya-sanga vihino’pi jivo na hi vinashyati
mayavada-bhramartanam sarvam hasyas- padam matam
advaitasya nishkalasya nirliptasya ca brahmanah
pratibimba-paricchedau katham syatam ca kutracit
advaita siddha labhe’pi katham nirbhayata bhavet
advaita-hanir evasyad yathodahriteshu vai
brahma-lina yada maya tada tasyah kriya katham
kasya va sprihaya tasyah pravrittir upajayate
brahmeccha yadi tad dhetuh kutas tan nirvikarata
mayeccha yadi va hetur durbhagyam brahmano’hi tat
mayavadam asac chastram sarvam veda- viruddhakam
prakritam yuktim ashtritya prakritartha- vidambanam
acintya-shakti-vishvasat jnanam sunirmalam bhavet
brahmani nirvikare syad iccha-shakt-visheshatah
tad iccha sambhava shristis tridha tad ikshana- shruteh
mayika jaiviki shuddha katham yuktih pravartate
naham manye suvedeti no na vedeti veda ca
shruti-vakyam idam labdhva’ cintya-shaktim vicaraya
bheda-vakyani lakshyani dva suparnadi suktishu
tattvam asyadi vakyeshu cabhedatvam pradarshitam
sarvajna-veda-vakyanam virodho nasti kutracit
bhedabhedatmakam tattvam saytam nityam ca sarthakam
eka-deshatham ashritya canya-deshartha- kalpanam
karma-mimamsakanam yad vijnanam shruti- nindanam
murkhatvam eva tesham tat na grahyam tattvavij janaih
vibhinnamso hi jivo’yam tatastha-shakti- karyatah
sva-svarupa-bhramad asya maya-karagriha-sthitih
Paramatma is the transcendental sun. The jivas, the living entities, are His rays. The jiva’s original identity is pure spirit soul and by nature, he is self-aware. The marginal energy, jiva, has emanated from the Supreme Lord by His inconceivable potency and is of the same spiritual quality. However, due to his minute stature, he is prone to come under maya’s sway. In the Bhagavad-Gita verse beginning with apareyam, Shri Krishna teaches that the jiva is transcendental to maya and is of the superior, spiritual energy. Hence, he is neither different nor the same as the Supreme Lord. The Vedas expound that the jiva is fit to be controlled by maya, while; on the other hand, the Supreme Lord is the controller of maya. Thus, it is true that the jiva is simultaneously one in quality with the Supreme Lord yet different in quantity and potency. The theory of pure oneness is not Vedic.
"To say that the jiva becomes maya’s captive is not tantamount to mayavadi philosophy. According to the mayavadi philosophy, the jiva is temporary and made into a reflection by maya. In truth, the jiva is an eternal spiritual spark devoid of maya and only becomes maya’s captive due to his infinitesimal size. Maya is material energy, but the jiva is made of spiritual energy. False-ego, whereby the spiritual jiva considers himself a material product, is material and a quality of maya. The jiva is of a superior energy; he is made of spiritual substance. Although the jiva is bound by maya, he never looses his identity as jiva. "Mayavadi philosophy is an aberration. Persons subscribing to this philosophy are verily laughing stocks. In their opinion, Brahman is non-dual, indivisible and completely detached. In that case, how is it possible that Brahman becomes covered or produces a shadow representation? Examples proffered of the rope and the snake, of the sky and the pot, of the mother of pearl and silver, to substantiate that Brahman is non-dual are not corroborating—they actually nullify Brahman’s non-duality. If one acquiesces to the theory that maya merges with Brahman this also refutes His absolute non-dual character. And even if one was to agree to this, the question remains, how and why is maya active? By whose wish does maya become active? If it is Brahman’s wish that awards maya the desire to act then how does Brahman remain untransformed (nirvikara)? If, however, Brahman is allowed to maintain His non-transformable character and it is agreed that only maya possesses desire, then a new second principle, which confronts Brahman, the non-doer, and becomes His competitor is introduced. Maya covers, divides, and creates a shadow representation of a desire-less Brahman—which is terribly tragic for Brahman. And if Brahman, as the Supreme Controller (ishvara) engages in the work of creation by the promptings of maya and not by His independent will, then He comes under the control of His energy (shakti). How then may He be known as Brahman—the Supreme? And again, non-duality is contradicted.
"Thus, the mayavadi treatises are all at variance with the conclusions of Vedic scriptures. By presenting mundane logic, they have burdened the supramundane conclusions of the Veda with aberrations. One’s knowledge and intellect becomes free from mundane contamination by developing firm faith in the Supreme Lord’s inconceivable potency. The mayavadis ascribe non-duality, indivisibility and non-transformability to Brahman. However, if the truth that the Lord possesses inconceivable potency is accepted, then both characteristics, non-transformability (nirvikara), and wilfulness (iccehamayata) can wonderfully reside simultaneously and act harmoniously, without conflict, in Brahman.
"The Vedic aphorism sa-aikshata removes all doubts regarding the Lord’s inconceivable potency. By His will, this potency manifests the maya-shakti, jiva-shakti and cit-shakti. In the Vedic statement, "naham manye" the truth of the Lord’s inconceivable potency has been established. In the words "dva suparna" from the Veda, the eternal differences within Brahman have been expounded; while in the words "tat tvam asi" eternal oneness has been expounded. Being the transcendental fountainhead of all knowledge, there are no discrepancies and contradictions in the Veda. Thus, the Vedic conclusion is that the Supreme Lord embodies the inconceivable principle of simultaneous oneness and difference, which is the absolute reality, the truth eternal. To take statements out of context from one part of the Veda and in attempting to give one’s own interpretation to them, interpolate the meanings from another section to support one's fabricated idea is to misconstrue the Vedic conclusion. Similarly, those who are karma-mimamsaka, i.e. those trying to interpret everything in terms of fruitive activity as the highest goal of the Vedas, blatantly exhibit their disrespect for the Veda. This is their foolishness and perversion. Real scholars do not accept their views. The Vedic conclusion is that the jiva is not in the category of Divinity, but is Shri Krishna’s separated part and parcel belonging to His marginal energy—tatastha-shakti. Jiva is pure spirit soul, completely spiritual, and is always, by nature, Krishna’s subordinate follower, but, because of forgetting his original identity and developing another consciousness by turning away from the Lord, he becomes imprisoned by maya."
Jiva’s marginal nature and position has already been discussed in the previous chapter of this book. Due to his marginal constitution and the knowledge of God having forsaken him, the jiva has been imprisoned by maya, who is always lying in wait nearby.
The Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya. 22.12-15) has described this condition:
nityabaddha-krishna haite nitya
nitya samshara bhunje nakadi duhkha
sei doshe maya-pishaci danda kare ta’re
adhyatmikadi tapa traya ta’re jari’ mare
kama krodhera dasa hana ta’ra lathi khaya
bhramite bhramite yadi sadhu-vaidya paya
ta’ra upadesha mantre pishaci palaya
krishna bhakti paya, tabe krishna nikate yaya
"Apart from the ever-liberated devotees, there are the conditioned souls, who always turn away from the service of the Lord. They are perpetually conditioned in this material world and are subjected to material tribulations brought about by different bodily forms in hellish conditions. As he is opposed to Krishna consciousness, the conditioned soul is punished by the witch maya, the Lord’s external energy. He is thus ready to suffer the threefold miseries: miseries brought by the body and mind, the inimical behaviour of other living entities and natural disturbances caused by the demigods. In this way, the conditioned soul becomes the servant of lusty desires, and when these are not fulfilled, he becomes a servant of anger and continues to be kicked by the external energy, maya. Wandering and wandering throughout the universe, he may by chance get the association of a devotee physician, whose instructions and incantations makes the witch of the external energy flee. The conditioned soul thus gets in touch with the devotional service of Lord Krishna, and in this way, he can approach nearer and nearer to the Lord."
The Shvetashvatara Upanisad's comments about conditioned soul (Svet.Up. 5.9):
balagra shata-bhagasya shatadha
bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa canantyaya kalpate
"Although the jiva sojourns in a material body, he is nonetheless extremely subtle and a transcendental principle. Even if one were to split up the tip of a hair into a thousand parts, it would still not be as subtle or as minute as the soul. Although the jiva is very minuscule compared to matter, yet he is spiritual, supramundane and eligible to serve the infinite, unlimited Lord." (Svet.Up. 5.10)
naiva stri puman esha na caivayam
yad yac chariram adatte tena tena sa yujyate
"Jiva’s gross body alone is differentiated by symptoms of manhood and womanhood. Jiva sojourns in the body he receives as a result his karma. In truth, jiva is spirit soul. Although his external identity categorises him as man or woman, his physical identification is not his real self." (Svet. Up. 5.11)
grasambu-vrishthyatma vivriddha janma
karmanugany anukramena dehi sthaneshu rupany abhisamprapadyate
"Gradually and by the impetus of desire, touch, sight, illusion, eating, water, and rain the jiva advances from one material body to another in countless species, according to his karma." (Svet.Up. 5.12)
sthulani sukshmani bahuni caiva
rupani deho svagunair vrinoti
kriya gunair atma gunais ca tesham samyoga-hetur aparo’pi drishtah
"Jiva acquires many gross and subtle forms by the action of the particular material qualities to which he becomes attached. He, then, repeatedly, becomes covered over by changing forms, created by the qualities of activity and desire." (Svet.Up. 5.13)
anady anantam kalilasya madhye
vishvasya srastaram aneka-rupam
jnatva devam mucyate sarva-pashaih
"Thus are maya’s captive jivas, thrown into the dungeon of material existence. If, by chance, the association of saintly souls awakens their faith, then gradually their devotional attitudes are enhanced. This endows them with knowledge of the Supersoul, (Paramatma), who is beginningless, endless, the seed of all incarnations, the creator of the cosmic manifestation and who resides within it. Thus enlightened, the jiva becomes liberated from maya’s bond."
The jivas have been described in the Vedanta-sutra (35-38) in various ways:
sthula-lingabhimana-janita-samshara kleshash ca
"By turning away from the Supreme Lord, they, the jivas, have become absorbed in the Lord’s separated energy—matter. Because of this, they are bewildered and deluded about their real identity. Due to this delusion, they are critically bound up in the terrible snare of lust and karmic activities. Their false identification with the gross and subtle bodies as their real self is the cause of their distress in material existence."
The jiva is a spiritual, conscious, and cognisant being. As a product of the Lord’s tatastha shakti, marginal energy, the jiva was placed at the confluence of the material and spiritual worlds, from whence he observed both realms. Those souls who became slightly attracted by the knowledge of God-consciousness, and due to contact with such knowledge, aspired for transcendence and received spiritual strength from the hladini-sakti, the Lord’s internal pleasure giving potency. Inspired in this way, they developed eternal favourable attraction for the Lord, and were admitted as eternal associates of Lord Krishna in the spiritual world.
While others, by their own free choice, became enchanted by maya lying on the opposite side and became greedy for her. They were invited by maya and developed attachment for the material world. Thus Mahavishnu, the Lord of Maya-Devi, who lies in the causal ocean, threw them into this mundane realm. This is the result of their not having any attraction for the Supreme Lord’s service, but rather for material sense objects. As soon as they entered maya’s abode, she covered them with her avidya, nescience potency. Entangled in nescience, their material absorption further dragged them down into the whirlpool of karmic reactions. Hence, these jivas are compared to birds that are trying to enjoy the fruits of the tree of karma.
(Mund. 3.1.1; Svet. 4.6)
dva suparna sayuja sakhaya
samanam vriksham parisasvajate
tayor anyah pippalam svadvatti
anashnan anyo abhicakashiti
"Kshirodakashayi Vishnu and jiva, residents of the same ashvattha tree, which represents this material world, are like two friends. One of them (jiva) relishes the pippal fruits according to his karma. The other bird (Paramatma), without eating the fruits, is simply the witness to the other's action."
(Mund. 3.1.2; Svet. 4.7)
samane vrikshe purusho nimagno’nishaya shocati muhyamanah
"Jiva, the co-resident of that same tree, being completely charmed by maya, became afflicted with intense lamentation and fell down."
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.2.37) states:
bhayam dvitiyabhiniveshatah syad ishad apetasya viparyayo’smritih
"Fear arises when the jiva misidentifies himself with the material body by absorption in the external, illusory energy. When the jiva thus turns his back to the Lord, he also forgets his constitutional position as the eternal servant of God."
iMisidentification means to forget one’s constitutional position. For the jéva, this is the first consequence of his contact with nescience. Forgetting his spiritual identity, jéva deepens his loss of memory of being an eternal servant of Krishna by donning the mantle of false ego in his material identity. The illusory energy maya wraps jéva’s spiritual identity in two layers of covering: the subtle body and, over that, the gross body. The subtle material coverings comprise of mundane false ego, mundane consciousness, mundane intelligence and mundane mind. The subtle body is the home of lust, greed, anger, illusion, madness and envy. Depending on the pious or sinful utilisation of these six human drives, a jéva develops either higher or baser desires. The false ego covers the jéva’s pure and spiritual ego. The jéva is unable to enjoy matter or act on the material plane with its subtle body. Thus, a gross body consisting of seven layers: skin, flesh, blood, bones, fluids, fat and semen, covers his subtle body—which is subjected to six transformations: birth, growth, existence, procreation, decay and death.
After receiving the gross body, the jéva’s false ego becomes more pronounced. He then begins to accept the gross body as the self. This misidentification creates much bewilderment. For example, the terrible chains of lust and concomitant actions; the classifications of fruitive activity; forbidden activities and karma-free activities according to the codes of the varnashrama divisions; the obligatory and mandatory duties and their concomitant results; pious and impious deeds—all these bind up the jéva more and more strongly to maya. A plethora of unwanted detriments in relation to the jéva’s gross and subtle bodies piles up on him.
This has been aptly described in the Veda:
sa va ayam atma yathakaré yathacaré
sadhukaré sadhur bhavati papakaré papo bhavati
punyah punyena karmana bhavati papah papena
"As the atma—the proprietor of the gross and the subtle bodies—acts, so thereby he obtains the different conditions. By acting in a saintly fashion, he becomes a saint; by acting immorally, he becomes a sinner. He accrues the piety of pious deeds and the sinful burden of impious deeds." (SB 3.30.7)
karoty aviratam mudho duritani durashayah
"Although he is always burning with anxiety, such a fool performs all kinds of mischievous activities, with a hope that is never to be fulfilled, in order to maintain his so-called family and society."
Both these quotes are clear enough in their meanings. The jéva, identifying falsely with his gross and subtle bodies, is continuously suffering the results of pious and impious deeds, while bound to material existence.
The Sarvajna Sukta, quoted in the Bhagavat-sandarbha by Shréla Jéva Gosvamé, also explains this:
hladinya samvidashlishtah sac cid
svavidya samvrito jévah samklesha-nikarakara
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the embodiment of eternity, absolute knowledge and unlimited bliss is embraced by His transcendental internal potencies, hladiné (pleasure giving) and samvit (omniscience). However the jéva, covered over by ignorance, experiences innumerable distresses and pains."
Shréla Jéva Gosvamé writes in Paramatma-sandarbha (54):
athavidyakhyasya dve vritti
avaranatmika vikshepatmika ca
tatra purva jéva eva tishthanté tadéyam svabhavikam jnanam avrinvana
uttara ca tam tad-anyatha-jnanena sanjayanté vartate
"The illusory energy maya possesses two characteristics: vidya (knowledge) and avidya (nescience). Vidya is a manifestation of maya’s unreserved mercy. The avidya characteristic is meted out as a punishment for offences. The avidya characteristic has two features: avaranatmika (covering the Absolute Truth) and vikshepatmika (demoting potency). The avaranatmika potency acts by veiling the jéva’s natural knowledge about his eternal relationship with Shré Krishna and His multifarious energies, (sambandha-jnana). The vikshepatmika potency generates another kind of material knowledge (separate from sambandha-jnana), which plunges the jéva into ignorance and nescience."
A Karika, Explanatory Verse
sattvam rajas tamash ceti gunah
ity ady upanishad-vakyan nirguno jéva eva hi
cetanah krishna daso’ham iti jnane gate pare
prakriter guna-samyogat karma-bandho’sya sidhyati
karma-cakra-gatasyasya sukha-duhkhadikam bhavet
"The Vedas state that there are three material modes—sattva (goodness), rajah (passion) and tamah (ignorance). By nature, the jéva is without any material qualities—above the three material modes. However, due to his infinitesimal size, when the jéva becomes weak by turning away from the Supreme Lord, only then do the material modes and qualities overpower and enthral him. At that moment, the jéva’s knowledge of his own spiritual identity and eternal constitutional position as Shré Krishna’s servitor becomes clouded. Because of intimate contact with matter and the modes of material nature, the karmic entanglement gradually binds him. Caught in the vicious cycle of karma, the jéva is submerged into the material ocean of the six adversaries by the gross and subtle bodies. Thus, happiness and distress are experienced."
This condition is described as the drudgery of maya’s captivity. This is an inevitable consequence of the jéva's misuse of independence and his constitutional nature as the Lord’s marginal potency. The jéva is a spiritual being, pure and transcendental. Maya’s avidya, nescience potency, is his temporary and superficial designation. And the adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika distresses (distresses caused by one’s body and mind, by natural catastrophes, by other living entities) are a result of this condition.
Even though the jiva, enchanted by maya, is chained by endless desires for fruitive activities, yet he never forfeits his inherent nature and constitution as marginal energy. In this condition, his materialistic habits, which have turned into his second nature, grow stronger, but his spiritual consciousness—eternal servitorship to Shri Krishna, which is almost extinguished—nevertheless continues to exist. The slightest provocation or opportunity will immediately trigger off his original spiritual nature, which then begins to assert itself. The contact with saintly souls is the only provocation or opportunity.
Thus, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6.23) states:
yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve
tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakashante mahatmanah
"Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both, the Lord and the spiritual master, are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed."
The Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.43, 45, 54, 33) states:
samshara bhramite kona bhagya keha
nadira prabhave yena kashtha lage tére
kona bhagya karo samshara kshayonmukha haya
sadhu sanga kare, krishne rati upajaya
sadhu sanga sadhu sanga sarva shastre kaya
lava matra sadhu sange sarva siddhi haya
krishna tomara hau’ yadi bale ekabara
mayabandha haite krishna tare kare para
"There are unlimited conditioned souls who are bereft of Krishna’s service. Not knowing how to cross the ocean of nescience, they are scattered by the waves of time and tide. However, some are fortunate to contact devotees and, by this contact, they are delivered from the ocean of nescience—just as a log, floating down a river, is sometimes accidentally washed up on the bank. By good fortune, one becomes eligible to cross the ocean of nescience, and when one’s term of material existence decreases, one may get an opportunity to associate with pure devotees. Such association awakens one's attraction to Krishna. The verdict of the revealed scriptures is that by even a moment's association with a pure devotee one can attain all perfection and success. One is immediately freed from the clutches of maya if he seriously and sincerely says: 'My dear Lord Krishna, although I have forgotten You, for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your property. Please engage me in Your service.'"
What is meant by good fortune? If good fortune is the cause of mitigation of our attachment to family and material existence, then why is saintly association or resolute faith expounded as being the real cause? Good fortune is a matter of luck i.e. blind, inexplicable phenomena. If this is the only source of the jéva’s ultimate benediction, then he becomes disinclined and unmotivated to act on his own. Though this topic is ostensibly simple, explicit formulations are required and hence it calls for serious attention. To properly delineate this esoteric concept, one must study the jéva principle.
When the jéva’s inherent nature and character were being formulated, none other than the Supreme Lord was the sole active principle. Intrinsic to the Supreme Lord's spiritual nature is independence. Therefore, the supremacy of the Creator over His creation is automatically infused into the constitution of His created souls. Later, all the activities performed by the created souls will not be authoritatively dictated by the original creator (the Supreme Lord). In the free exercise of his decision-making, the first action for the independent jéva was to either turn towards the Supreme Lord in devotion, or turn away from Him and contemplate material energy. In this choice, the jéva utilises to the maximum his full independence: his controlling power.
Once the jéva enters the gloom of nescience, his controlling power becomes divided threefold. One, in the activities the jéva performs, he always remains the main controller. Two, material nature assists him in his activities, becoming the subordinate controller. And three, at the time of rewarding the jéva the results of his actions, the Supreme Lord is the controller of mercy. The jévas wilful acceptance of maya’s enslavement is not tantamount to the loss of his original independence. After the jéva enters the jurisdiction of maya, the time when the results of all the activities, he has performed, are ripe for fruition is known as bhagya, fortune.
aUnlike the atheists, the theists understand that bhägyä, fortune, is not accidental. The jéva’s bhägyä is the result of his actions—and there are two types of results: material and spiritual. Material results beget mundane fortune. Spiritual results reward spiritual fortune. All those activities which were executed with spiritual goals in mind, like serving a Vaishnava saint, chanting the Lord’s name, and worshiping the Supreme Lord, are all spiritual. Whatever the attitude may have been while these services were being executed, they will generate a devotional fervour that will in turn inspire a sincere tendency to devotional service. This taste will gradually intensify and become the jéva’s sanbhägyä, good fortune. As the jéva’s spiritual good fortune (sanbhägyä) increases, his mundane material proclivity becomes gradually weakened. When it is very weak, then spiritual good fortune, being properly nurtured produces shraddhä, faith and respect for saintly companionship—which goes on to endow the jéva with all spiritual perfection and success.
This gradual growth of jiva’s spiritual good fortune is charted in Shri Narada Muni’s life, as mentioned in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (SB. 1.5.23, 25, 26):
aham puratita bhave’bhavam mune
dasyash ca kasyashcana vedavadinam
nirupito balaka eva yoginam
shushrushane pravrishi nirvivakshatam
ucchishta lepan anumodito dvijaih
sakrit sma bhunje tad apasta kilbishah
evam pravritasya vishuddha-cetasas
tad dharma evatma rucih prajayate
tatranvaham krishna-kathah prajayatam
tah shraddhaya me’nupadam visrinvatah
priya-shravasy anga mamabhavad ratih
"O Muni, in the last millennium I was born as the son of a certain maidservant engaged in the service of brahmanas who were following the principles of Vedanta. When they were living together during the four months of the rainy season, I was engaged in their personal service. Once only, by their permission, I took the remnants of their food, and by so doing all my sins were at once eradicated. Thus being engaged, I became purified in heart, and at that time, the very nature of the transcendentalists became attractive to me. O Vyasadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedantists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Krishna. And thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step."
Shri Narada Muni continued (SB. 1.6.27-28):
evam krishna mater brahman
kalah pradur abhut kale tadit saudamini yatha
prayujyamane mayi tam shuddham bhagavaiim tanum
arabdha-karma-nirvano nyapatat pashca- bhautikah
"And so, O brahmana Vyasadeva, in due course of time I, who was fully absorbed in thinking of Krishna and who therefore had no attachments, being completely freed from all material taints, met with death, as lighting and illumination occur simultaneously. Having been awarded a transcendental body befitting an associate of the Personality of Godhead, I quit the body made of five material elements, and thus all acquired fruitive results of work (karma) stopped."
The conclusion is that the accumulation of many lifetimes of pious activities (sukriti) rewards one with good fortune (bhagya), which imbues the heart with faith (shraddha) and respect for saintly souls and their association. This shraddha, faith, gradually produces faith in devotional service and chanting, eradication of unwanted material desires in the heart, steadfastness in devotional service, taste for it, single minded attachment and finally, attraction and love for Krishna. In the lifetime when good fortune shines on the jiva, he is endowed with shraddha, faith. Thus, shraddha and saintly association are glorified as the root cause of all benedictions.
Thus the Karika, Explanatory Verses
evam panjara-bandho’yam jivah shocati
kadacit satprasangena tasya moksho vidhiyate
"The subtle and gross material bodies have encaged the spirit soul, jiva, and subordinated him under stringent laws. In this condition, the jiva always laments. By some good fortune, he seeks the association of saintly devotees, and in this association, he gradually liberates himself from maya’s captivity."
muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih
atyanta-duhkha hanau sa cit-sukhaptir na samshayah
"The jiva finds himself in two conditions: liberated and conditioned. To give up the contrary condition and be situated in his original identity is called liberation. There is no doubt that liberation awards the complete cessation of suffering and the experience of transcendental bliss."
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (4.7) states in this regard:
jushtam yada pashyaty anyam isham
asya mahimanam iti vita shokah
"When the jiva beholds the object of his worship, the Supreme Godhead, his distress is dissipated and he is enlightened with the glory of his eternal identity as Krishna’s servitor."
The liberated souls are of two kinds: eternally liberated (nitya-mukta) and liberated from maya (maya-mukta). The nitya-mukta liberated souls never come under the sway of maya. While the maya-mukta jivas after being in maya’s captivity become liberated by the potent association of saintly devotees and enter the transcendental realm.
The definition of mukti, liberation, requires to be discussed at this point. Some are of the opinion that liberation means the complete eradication of the jiva’s suffering. Others define mukti as merging into Brahman or the Supreme Controller, Ishvara. However, the enlightened preceptors reiterate the statement of the Shrimad Bhagavatam (2.10.6):
muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih
"Liberation is the attainment of jiva’s permanent form and original eternal identity after he gives up the changeable gross and subtle material bodies."
The jiva is a spiritual entity—he is Krishna’s unalloyed servitor. To come under the influence of nescience is contrary to his original nature. To discard this contrary identity and accept his original spiritual identity is known as liberation. When the knowledge of the original identity is indistinct, it leads to the conception that liberation means to merge with Brahman (sayujya-mukti). However, when the original identity is clearly understood, the jiva attains eternal and pure servitorship to Shri Krishna. The cessation of all suffering is not a full definition of mukti, liberation. The cessation of all suffering and thereafter the attainment of transcendental bliss are symptomatic of mukti.
The symptoms of liberation have been described in Chandogya Upanishad (8.12.3):
evam evaisha samprasado’smac charirat
samutthaya param jyoti-rupa-sampadya
svena rupenabhinishpadyate sa uttamah purushah
sa tatra paryeti jakshan kridan ramamanah
"The jiva, upon attaining liberation, elevates himself out of his gross and subtle material bodies and shining with transcendental brilliance obtains his own supramundane, spiritual form. Such a liberated soul is the best among men. He relishes his presence in the spiritual realm, enjoying transcendental activities and absorbing himself in divine bliss."
According to the verdict of the Veda, the above form of liberation is the highest.
The liberated jiva experiences eight different conditions.
As enumerated in the Chandogya Upanishad (8.7.1, 3):
tama’pahata-papma vijaro vimrityur
vishoko vijighatso’pipasah satyakamah
"Atma, the pure soul, is without sin and free from all sinful reactions born of contact with nescience. He is devoid of the influence of material nature—meaning that he is ever fresh, youthful. The word vimrityu means incorruptible, deathless. He is equipoised, peaceful—bereft of material hankering, anxiety, and lamentation. The word vijighatso implies one who is free from desire for material enjoyment. He is without thirst (a-pipasah), with no desire other than to serve the Lord. He only desires to serve Shri Krishna favourably. He successfully fulfills all his spiritual desires."
These are the eight characteristics absent in a conditioned jiva—and they distinguish the conditioned jiva from the liberated, self-realised soul. Although mukti, liberation, is so highly cherished, yet, it is simply one of the boons awarded by the jiva’s highest attainment—the bliss of devotional service. If one desires the subsidiary goals, the focus on the ultimate goal is shifted. Therefore, one should not harbour the craving for mukti in the heart. Those persons who are resolved from the beginning to strive for mukti are deprived of any progress on the eternally nectarine path of devotional service. However much one may endeavour in executing fruitive activities (karma) or pursuing empirical knowledge (jnana), unless one attracts Shri Krishna’s mercy through the performance of bhakti-yoga, he cannot obtain liberation, mukti. Of the ten principles enumerated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, mukti is the ninth and the sublime bliss of taking shelter at the lotus feet of an eternally liberated associate of the Lord (ashraya) is the tenth.
Hence, it is stated in the Bhavartha-dipika (10.1)
dashame dashamam lakshyam
shri-krishnakhyam param dhama jagad dhama namami tat
"In the tenth canto of the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Shri Krishna is described as the icon of shelter for those pure devotees who are completely surrendered. I offer my obeisances to Shri Krishna who is the embodiment of the highest spiritual abode."
Those rare souls whose hearts have been flushed with the dawning of the bliss of surrender, they have within their grip the nine esoteric principles up to mukti, liberation. To elaborate on this profound concept, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu declares in the Chaitanya-Charitamrita (Madhya 23.26, 29):
cari varnashrami yadi krishna nahi
sakarma karite sei raurave padi maje
jnani jivan mukta dasha painu kari mane
vastutah buddhi shuddha nahe krishna bhakti vine
The followers of the varnashrama institution accept the regulative principles of the four social orders and four spiritual orders. However, if one carries out the regulative principles of these orders but does not render transcendental service to Krishna, he falls into the hellish condition of material life. There are many philosophical speculators belonging to the mayavada school who consider themselves liberated and call themselves Narayana. However, their intelligence is not purified unless they engage in Krishna’s devotional service."
Those in pursuit of jnana (empirical knowledge, speculative rhetoric) and the impersonalist mayavadis consider themselves on the liberated stage even though they are in an embodied condition. However, they are not on the platform of pure goodness because their intelligence and consciousness are not purified by engagement in Krishna’s devotional service.
Fruitive activities, empirical knowledge, mystic yoga, austerities etc. are not proper means to obtain liberation, and so the philosophers seek shelter in a mood of unconditional surrender to Krishna in order to become liberated. Sages steeped in pure devotional service never pray or aspire for liberation. However, mukti personified very humbly seeks to render service to them.
Thus, Shri Bilvamangal Thakura writes (Krishna-karnamrita. 107):
bhaktis tv ayi sthiratara bhagavan
daivena nah phalati divya kishora murtih
muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate’sman
"O Lord! If our devotion to You is unflinchingly steadfast then Your ever youthful divine form will always appear in our hearts, and we will require no more to pray for the four Vedic goals—sense gratification, wealth, religiosity and liberation. The reason is that liberation personified is gratefully rendering humble service to us. While personified sense gratification, wealth and religiosity await patiently in attendance with folded hands always ready to execute our wishes in serving Your lotus feet."
For the devotees of the Lord there are two types of mukti, liberation: svarupa-mukti (attaining the original spiritual form) and vastu-mukti (attaining Krishna’s lotus feet). Those highly elevated pure devotees who by dint of their unalloyed devotion have realised their original, spiritual identities while still living in the material world do not need to wait for giving up their bodies, but are already being served by mukti personified. Although their bodies are controlled and owned by maya, their souls are immersed in sublime bliss in the spiritual realm. Such rare souls have attained svarupa mukti. As soon as they give up their bodies by Krishna’s mercy, they will also attain vastu-mukti.
The form of sayujya liberation sought after by the advaita-vadis (monistic philosophers) is of two kinds, depending on their faith: brahman-sayujya (merging into the Brahman effulgence) and ishvara-sayujya (merging into the body of the Supreme). In sayujya mukti, the jiva is unable to attain his original, spiritual form, svarupa.
Brahmanda Purana states in this regard:
siddha-lokas tu tamasah pare yatra
siddha brahma sukhe magna daityash ca harina hatah
"On the periphery of the material world is the abode of Brahman, a place for perfected beings (siddha-loka). Here the impersonalist mayavadis and demons slain by Lord Hari reside absorbed in the bliss of Brahman."
Empiricists, impersonalists, yogis—though they attempt to free themselves from the material energy by meditations such as aham brahmasmi and tat tvam asmi cannot attain the highest perfection and obtain their spiritual bodies, svarupa.
Spiritual preceptors, after discussing thoroughly the Veda and Vedanta, have arrived at two opposing conclusions. Shri Shankaracarya expounded the philosophy of monism (kevaladvaita-vada) based on the conclusions of Vedic philosophers like Dattatreya, Ashtavakra, Durvasa and other risis. Whereas the Vaishnava preceptors have elaborated upon the conclusion of saintly, self-realised sages like Narada, Prahlada, Dhruva, and Manu and preached the science of pure devotional service. This second philosophy, the science of pure devotion, is of four kinds: (1) vishishtadvaita-vada propagated by Shri Ramanujacarya (2) shuddha-dvaita-vada by Shri Madhvacarya, (3) dvaitadvaita-vada by Shri Nimbarkacarya and (4) shuddhadvaita-vada by Shri Vishnu Svami. These four great acaryas were all propagators of the science of pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
According to Shri Ramanuja, the Supreme Lord is the only reality and truth (advaita), yet He accepts the distinct designations (vishishta) of cit (transcendental) and acit (material). Shri Madhva preached that the jiva is distinct and separate from the Supreme Lord (dvaita), but his inherent nature is to be subordinate to the Lord and to serve Him. Shri Nimbarka’s philosophy is that jiva and the Supreme Lord are simultaneously different and non-different (dvaita-advaita) thus confirming the eternal difference between them. Shri Vishnu Svami preached that although the Absolute Reality or Truth is one (advaita) yet Divinity and humanity are eternally different. Thus, although apparently there are variations in these four Vaishnava philosophies, yet they all unanimously propose the eternality of devotional service to the Lord, that the Supreme Lord is eternal, jivas' servitorship to the Lord is eternal, and the ultimate goal is love of Godhead, prema-bhakti.
The fundamental principles in all these teachings are unambiguously an elaboration of Vaishnava theology; yet, while there are slight variations in their individual teachings, they are all nonetheless incomplete. With the divine advent of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in person as Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, this incompleteness in the realization of Vaishnava precepts was duly removed by His profound exposition of the most esoteric tenets of pure devotion to the Supreme Lord.
His teachings, in a nutshell, appear in Chaitanya Caritamrita (Adi 7.121-126):
vyasera sutrete kahe parinama vada
vyasa bhranta bali’ ta’ra uthaila vivada
parinama vade ishvara hayena vikari
eta kahi’vivarta vada sthapana ye kari
vastutah parinama vada sei se pramana
dehe atmabuddhi haya vivartera sthana
avicintya shakti yukta shri bhagavan
icchaya jagad rupe paya parinama
tathapi acintya shaktye haya adhikari
(Adi 7.138, 140)
brihad vastu brahma kahi shri
shad vidha aishvarya purna para tattva dhama
tanre nirvishesha kahi, cic chakti na mani
ardha svarupa na manile, purnata haya hani
(Madhya 6.144, 152)
apadana, karana, adhikarana -karaka
bhagavanera savisheshe ei tina cihna
shad aishvarya purnananda vigraha yanhara
hena bhagavane tumi kaha nirakara
"In his Vedanta-sutra, Shrila Vyasadeva described that everything is but a transformation of the Lord’s energy. Shankaracarya, however, misled the world by commenting that Vyasadeva was mistaken. Thus, he raised great opposition to theism throughout the entire world. According to Shankaracarya, by accepting the theory of the Lord’s energy transformations, one creates an illusion by indirectly accepting that the Absolute Truth is transformed. Transformation of energy is a proven fact. It is the false bodily conception of the self that is an illusion. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is opulent in all respects. Therefore, by His inconceivable energies, He has transformed the material cosmic manifestation. Using the example of a touchstone, which turns iron to gold and yet remains the same, we can understand that although the Supreme Personality of Godhead transforms His innumerable energies, He remains unchanged. Although touchstone produces many varieties of valuable jewels, it nevertheless remains the same. It does not change its original form. Bhagavan, who is greater than the greatest, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is full of six opulences, and therefore He is the reservoir of ultimate truth and absolute knowledge. When we speak of the Supreme as impersonal, we deny His spiritual potencies. Logically, if you accept only half of the truth, you cannot understand the whole.
"The personal features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are categorised in three cases, namely: ablative, instrumental and locative. Are you describing as formless that Supreme Personality of Godhead whose transcendental form is complete with six transcendental opulences?"
Shrila Vyasadeva in his Vedanta-sutra established the concept of transformation of energy (parinama-vada) not the evolution of substance (vivarta-vada). But Shri Shankaracarya expounded that parinama-vada, the transformation of energy, is tantamount to the evolution of the spiritual nature and thereby is equivalent to the position that the Supreme Lord becomes transformed. In this way, he attempted to establish the false theory of vivarta-vada, the theory of illusory evolution.
Regarding the meanings of these two concepts, parinama and vivarta, the most prominent mayavadi scholar, Sadananda Yogindra has explained in his Vedanta-sara (Text 59):
satattvato’nyatha buddhir vikara ity
atattvato’nyatha buddhir vivarta ity udahritah
"When a real object evolves into a different form, this is called parinama, transformation; for example, as in the change of milk into yoghurt. Whereas, perception of an illusory, non-existent form of the original object is called vivarta, mistaken extrapolation; for example, one may mistake a rope for a snake."
Adhering to their own logic, the followers of Shri Shankaracarya misconstrue the meaning of this verse and conclude that the jiva and material phenomena could not be a transformation (parinama) of the Supreme Lord. Because, if parinama of the Lord were true then a convoluted and distorted form of the Supreme Lord would have to be accepted in the production of the jiva and the material world. Just as milk turns to yoghurt with culture, similarly, this material world is then a perverted conversion from and evolution of the Supreme Lord. This, they say, is incompatible with the Vedic position that the Supreme Brahman is non-transformable. They, the Shankarites, propose that the theory of parinama taught by Shrila Vyasadeva is therefore incorrect and disposable. They continue: The snake is non-existent, however, when one mistakes a rope for a snake, fear arises. This is due to ignorance, which then prompts certain actions and emotions. The material world is like that, the Shankarites propose. This material world is non-existent, yet due to ignorance, whatever is being perceived as the world is vivarta—a false, illusory, non-existent evolution of Brahman. Thereby, the acceptance of this theory does not compel anyone to believe that the Supreme Absolute is vikari, prone to transformation—as the trans formation is non-existent. With these arguments, the followers of Shri Shankaracarya propagate their theory of vivarta, evolution.
Lord Chaitanya’s teachings invalidate the vivarta theory. The jiva’s illusion of identifying the eternal self with the body is the instance where the rope and snake analogy is applicable—and this indeed is vivarta. However, the jiva’s body actually exists, it is not unreal (mithya), thus the theory that the Supreme Lord, through vivarta, evolution, has evolved into a non-existent material form, this material phenomenon and the embodied jiva, is truly demented.
Shrila Vyasadeva in his treatise, the Vedanta-sutra, reiterated the parinama theory as truth. If the parinama theory were to be nullified then it would undermine the credibility of Shrila Vyasadeva who is the knower of the Absolute Truth—omniscient.
Just as milk is transformed to yoghurt through yoghurt culture, in the same fashion, the Supreme Lord’s inconceivable energy, by His will, is transformed into the jiva and the material nature. However, the Supreme Lord, Brahman, does not transform. The capacity of His inconceivable energy to produce variegated transformations does not force the Supreme Lord into the process of evolution (vikari), transformation. Although material examples and analogies of spiritual and transcendental truths remain always incomplete, yet they may explicitly communicate some aspects of transcendental truth. We hear that the touchstone gem cintamani produces many priceless gems out of ordinary stones but, in itself, remains unchanged. The same example is applicable to the transcendental process of creation of this world. The unlimited material cosmos with innumerable living entities is created simply by the Lord’s will through the agency of His inconceivable potency, and yet the Supreme Lord remains unaffected and perfectly complete.
Furthermore, that the Lord remains untransformed (vikara-shunya) does not automatically imply that he is impersonal and non-qualitative. The infinite Supreme Brahman is always endowed with six types of transcendental, absolute opulence, for He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If He is simply described as impersonal then He is denied possession of His internal transcendental potencies (cit-shakti). By dint of His inconceivable potency, the Supreme Lord is, simultaneously, eternally personal and impersonal. Admission of His impersonal aspect alone is merely a partial confirmation, and an attempt to subvert His Absolute wholeness. He, the Supreme Absolute Truth, has been described in the Vedic scriptures as possessing personal features which are categorised in three cases: ablative, instrumental and locative (apadana, karana and adhikarana).
The Taitireya Upanishad (3.1) states:
yato va imani bhutani jayante yena
jatani jiva nti yat
prayanty abhisamvisanti tad vijijnasasva tad brahma
"From whom all living beings have been created, by whom all His created beings are sustained and into whom all living beings enter, is the Supreme Absolute Truth."
As the creator of all, He is ablative. As the sustainer, He is instrumental. And as the ultimate destination of all beings, the Supreme Lord is the locative principle. Thus, these three personal features declare His eternal personal form and existence. Endowed with such characteristics the Supreme Lord cannot possibly be a formless entity. Complimented by six supramundane opulences, He is the transcendental embodiment of eternality, unlimited knowledge and absolute bliss.
Shrila Jiva Gosvami in his Bhagavad-sandarbha (16) has described the Supreme Divinity:
yato va imani bhutani jayante yena
yat prayanty abhisamvisanti tad vijijnasasva tad brahma
"The Supreme Absolute Truth is one. By nature, He is the Energetic, generating inconceivable energy. Through the agency of His energy, He manifests Himself in four features: His original Supreme Self, His equally Supreme Expansions, the jiva and the sum total of the material ingredients, pradhana. To clarify this point is the division of the Sun God, the Sun planet, the Sun's rays, and the Sun's reflection in the distance."
The Supreme Lord’s transcendental form is eternal, full of knowledge and unlimited bliss. The spiritual realm, His Holy Names, Divine Expansions, paraphernalia and so on are His supremely opulent manifestation (tadrupa-vaibhava). The eternally liberated and eternally conditioned living entities are the innumerable jivas. Maya, the sum total of the subtle and gross material ingredients of this universe, is called pradhana. These four manifestations are eternally and qualitatively the same as the Supreme Lord. How is it possible for natures eternally contrary to the Lord’s own nature to exist harmoniously? This is impossible for the jiva to completely comprehend since his intelligence is limited. This phenomenon, however, is indeed a natural feature of the Supreme Lord’s inconceivable energy.
Shrila Jiva Gosvami has described this concept, in his book Sarvasamvadini, as inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference. Shri Nimbarka’s delineation of simultaneous non-duality and duality, or oneness and difference, was neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. The world of Vaishnavism, by receiving Shri Chaitanya’s teachings, has now the perfect and complete exposition of this esoteric concept. Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has accepted Shri Madhvacarya's exposition of the Supreme Lord as the embodiment of eternality, absolute knowledge and unlimited bliss. He has confirmed this as the bona-fide philosophy of the parampara where His acintya-bhedabheda tattva (inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference) finds its roots.
The previous philosophical expositions of the Absolute Truth based on the Veda by different acaryas were all incomplete and at variance with each other. As a result, different paramparas, preceptorial chains of disciplic succession, were founded. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, appeared and, by His omniscient potency, synthesised and supplemented the ideas of their philosophies. Shri Madhvacarya's concept of the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord—the embodiment of eternality, absolute knowledge and unlimited bliss; Shri Ramanuja's concept of the status of the Supreme Lord’s eternal associates and transcendental energies; Shri Vishnu Svami’s concept of purified monism; and Shri Nimbarka's concept of eternal simultaneous oneness and duality—all these esoteric concepts were purified and perfected by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He gave to this world, by His unlimited mercy, the most exact and scientific delineation of the Vedic conclusion in His teachings of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, the principle of inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference. Within a short time, a singular spiritual line—the Shri Brahma-sampradaya—has gained unexpected pre-eminence, and all the other sampradayas, spiritual lines, have become subservient to and will reach perfection by its metaphysical precepts.
The Karika, Explanatory Verse, is as follows
sarvatra shruti-vakyeshu tattvam eka
navidyakalpitam vishvam na jiva-nirmitam kila
atattvato’ nyatha buddhir vivarta ity udahritah
satattve vishva etasmin vivarto na pravartate
acintya-shakti-yuktasya pareshasyekshanat kila
maya-namny apara shaktih suyate sacaracaram
bhedabhedatmakam vishvam satyam kintu vinashvaram
na tatra jiva-jatanam nitya-sambandha eva ca
na brahma-parinamo vai shakteh parinatih kila
sthula-lingatmakam vishvam bhogayatanam atmanah
"After a thorough deliberation upon the Vedic statements, the eternal principle emerges as preponderant. This material creation is factual, not a non-existent lie which has its genesis in nescience. It has come into existence by the Lord’s transcendental will; it is not the jiva’s construction. To superimpose unreality upon truth is called vivarta. This material creation, though temporary, is a reality generated by the omnipotent Supreme Lord’s divine vision, by His will, hence there is no room for vivarta, superimposition. The Supreme Lord’s external material energy, the maya-sakti, has on his behest created this material world of non-moving and moving beings. Everything in this material creation is by the Lord’s inconceivable potency simultaneously one and different from Him. Although this world is real, it is not an eternal reality. This is substantiated by the Vedic statement nityo nityanam cetanash cetananam (Katha. 2.23; Shvet. 6.19). The concepts of only difference, only oneness, pure monism, qualified monism—are all unsophisticated assertions that are contradicted by other Vedic premises. However, the philosophy of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva is the pure essence of the Veda supported by the entire Vedic literature. It is the natural self-perfected goal of the jiva and fully subscribed to by the self-realised transcendental saintly souls. This material world does not hold for the jiva any permanent or eternal relationship. The world is merely the transformation of the Lord’s energy and not of the Lord himself. This world of subtle and gross matter is simply a stage for jiva’s forlorn attempt to enjoy."
In analysing the esoteric structure, eligibility of the practitioner, contents, and features of the science of pure devotional service, the means to attain perfection for the jiva will automatically be included. The definition and structure of pure devotional service has been cited by Shrila Rupa Gosvami in his book Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.1.11), as well as Chaitanya Caritamrita (Madhya 19.167):
anyabhilashita shunyam jnana-karmady
anukulyena krishnanushilanam bhaktir uttamam
"To serve Shri Krishna with all the senses and in a favourable mood of surrender is called krishna-bhakti, pure devotion to Krishna. Other than aspiring for advancement in devotion, all other varieties of yearnings are unfavourable. Single-minded devotion to Krishna, seeing Him as the Supreme Lord of all, not considering even demigods to be independent of Him, is favourable service. Thus, the best of bhakti is to discard any attraction for speculative knowledge and fruitive activities."
In the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 19.168) is stated:
anya-vashcha, anya-puja chadi’
‘karma’anukulye sarvendriye krishnanushilana
"A pure devotee must not cherish any other desire than to serve Krishna. He should neither worship the demigods (as the Supreme), nor mundane personalities. He should not cultivate artificial knowledge, which is devoid of Krishna-consciousness and he should not engage in anything other than Krishna-conscious activities. One must engage all one’s purified senses in the service of the Lord. This is the favourable execution of Krishna-conscious activities."
Favourable devotional service means to serve Krishna with attraction and a loving attitude. The worship of the Brahman and Paramatma is possible through the processes of jnana and mystic yoga, respectively. However, they cannot be considered as bhakti as their focus is not upon pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan Shri Krishna. Jnana in this context means the empirical Sankhya philosophy and impersonal deductive knowledge in pursuit of monistic realisation of the Absolute Truth. It is imperative for the seekers of bhakti to acquire correct knowledge on the eternal relationships between jiva, matter and the Supreme Lord, and further, their own original spiritual identity, svarupa. Such knowledge is an indigenous feature in the bhakti paradigm.
According to the smarta-brahmanas, ritualistic seminal brahmanas, the expression karma indicates rituals, which are: mandatory (nitya), obligatory (naimittika), desirable (kamya), and penances (prayashcitta). They are materialistic activities that are not directed towards the Supreme Lord in a mood of devotion. Active devotional service may seem to be like fruitive activities, karma. But by the devotional attitude and mood of unmotivated surrender, they cannot be defined as karma, but as bhakti. The mood of renunciation and abnegation that appears prior to the execution of devotional service is in fact also a feature of karma, fruitive activity. Bhakti in the jiva is recognised by the symptoms of unmotivated, uninterrupted natural attraction of the heart for service to the Supreme Lord.
On the stage of regulative devotional service, disciplined by spiritual rules, bhakti is recognised by four symptoms: (1) The removal of nescience, ignorance, which is the seed of all sinful activities and subsequent reactions; simultaneously the removal of yearning for pious deeds and the pious reactions. (2) The feeling of all round good fortune, working for the benefit of all living entities, compassion upon this world and striving for its spiritual betterment. (3) Bhakti renders liberation as insignificant and undesirable. (4) It is rarely attained, (even if one continues to diligently execute all the limbs of vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti, regulated devotional service, one cannot attain prema, love of Godhead, without first achieving deep attachment (rati) to Shri Krishna).
On the perfectional, spontaneous stage, bhakti manifests a further two recognisable symptoms: (1) permanent experience of deep and intense bliss and (2) the ability to attract even Krishna.
Thus, Shrila Rupa Gosvami (Brs.Pur. 1.17) writes:
sandrananda-visheshatma shri-krishnakarshini ca sa
"Devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting, mitigates material distress and almost simultaneously produces a sense of good fortune. Then follows the realisation that liberation is simply an insignificant side-effect, and that regulated devotional service, marked by an overt adherence to scriptural rules and regulations, will not reward the ultimate necessity of life—krishna-prema. However, raga-bhakti, spontaneous devotional service, awards krishna-prema. The two symptoms of raga-bhakti are intense, deep bliss and constant sustained attraction for Krishna, which Krishna himself finds attractive."
In sadhya-bhakti, spontaneous devotional service, all six symptoms are manifest. However, the beginning stage of sadhya-bhakti is symptomised by the manifestation of the first four features—they are present as full conviction. The ultimate stage of sadhya-bhakti is krishna-prema, love of Godhead, Krishna. Thus, bhakti in its practical beginning stage is sadhana-bhakti and in its sadhya, perfectional stage, is bhava-bhakti and prema-bhakti. Mere debate and rhetoric cannot refute the science of pure devotional service. But as soon as logic and rhetoric becomes subservient to the taste for devotional service, then they are capable of crystallising the essence of bhakti precepts. This book will strive to delineate only sadhana-bhakti, the multi-faceted regulative devotional service.
akrti-sadhya bhavet sadhya-bhava sa
nitya-siddhasya bhavasya prakatyam hridi sadhyata
"When the senses are engaged to attain the ultimate goal of spontaneous devotional surrender, this is known as sadhana bhakti. The pure devotional tendency of the jiva is eternal and self-perfected. However, the process by which this latent attitude is awakened is sadhana, practical devotional service guided by scriptural injunctions."
The real point is that any effective conducive method to direct and repose the consciousness in Krishna continuously is, in fact, sadhana-bhakti—also known as upaya-bhakti. This sadhana-bhakti is of two types: (1) vaidhi, regulative devotion adhering to scriptural rules and (2) raganuga, regulative devotion inspired by spontaneity of the heart without overt compliance to rules. Vaidhi-bhakti is symptomised by a quality of devotion that is solely ruled by scriptural injunctions, curbing the natural flow of attraction and taste for Shri Krishna. The regulative principles of vaidhi-bhakti are enjoined in the scriptures to be followed by all the four social and religious orders of the varnashrama system of society—brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra and brahmacari, grihastha, vanaprastha, sannyasa.
We find a quote from the Narada-pancaratra cited in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (Brs.Pur. 2.8):
surarishe vihita shastre harim
uddishya ya kriya
saiva bhaktir iti prokta taya bhaktih para bhavet
"All activities recommended in the scriptures are to be performed for the Supreme Lord Hari. This is called sadhana-bhakti or upaya-bhakti. By this process one can attain para bhakti, also known as sadhya bhakti."
Three types of devotees are eligible to execute vaidhi-bhakti, as stated in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.64):
shraddhah shabde vishvasa kahe
krishne bhakti kaile sarva karma krita haya
"By rendering transcendental loving service to Krishna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. This confident firm faith, favourable to the discharge of devotional service, is called shraddha."
For the jiva, there is no means other than bhakti. If the pursuits of empirical knowledge and fruitive activity are devoid of bhakti then such endeavours will bear no fruits. When one's devotional inclination is strengthened by this conviction, it is called shraddha, faith. And when this shraddha becomes undeviating, one attains the platform of uttama-adhikari, the topmost level of bhakti. One whose faith is firm, he is a madhyama-adhikari devotee, intermediate devotee. One whose faith is tender and intimidated by scriptural conclusions is called a kanishtha-adhikari, a neophyte devotee. The kanishtha-adhikari is of two types: having faith mixed with jnana and karma (empirical knowledge and fruitive activity); and faith devoid of desire for jnana and karma. The second type of kanishtha devotee quickly rises to the level of uttama-adhikari in the association of pure elevated devotees, whereas the first kind may become promoted to higher levels with much effort and a bountiful of the devotees' causeless mercy.
Shrila Rupa Gosvami comments in this regard (B.r.s.Pur 2.186):
mridu shraddhasya kathita svalpa karmadhikarita
"One who develops even a little shraddha, faith in Krishna, automatically finds his inclination towards fruitive activities (karma-kanda) greatly reducing."
Such devotees execute devotional service within the framework of the varnashrama system and offer the results of their fruitive activities. However, their devotion is not real devotion but a shadow of devotion (bhakti-abhasa). Their chanting of the Holy Name is on the level of chaya namabhasa, the shadow of the Holy Name in the clearing stage. However, if they nurture material desires, desires that have no relationship to serving Krishna, then their chanting is on the level of pratibimba-namabhasa, a mere reflection of the Holy Name at the clearing stage. They can be called jnanis (empirical philosophers) or karmis (fruitive workers) but not devotees. The kanishtha devotee who is free from desire for materialistic gains (anyabhilashita shunyam), who offers his pursuit of empirical knowledge and desire for fruitive activities as a sacrifice to the Lord is a vaishnava-abhasa, a shadow of a pure Vaishnava devotee.
In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Ramananda Raya delineated sadhana, the means to the supreme goal, in conversation with Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Shri Ramananda offered scriptural evidences concerning the gradual levels of elevation in devotional service. Ramananda Raya presented each as the ultimate human aspiration. However, Shri Chaitanya rejected some levels. These are considered the lower positions of neophyte devotees—Vaishnavas whose shraddha, faith, is tender. Later, from the level at which Shri Chaitanya accepted Shri Ramananda’s expositions, begins the platform of pure devotion.
The symptoms of a devotee with firm faith is described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB 10.14.3):
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti sammukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah shruti-gatam tanu-van manobhir
ye prayasho’ jita jito’py asi tais trilokyam
"Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social position, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and, with their body, words and mind, offer all respect to descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, are liberated by You personally and by Your pure devotees. They certainly conquer Your Lordship, although you are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds."
The attempt to realise the transcendental, Absolute Truth, lying beyond the grasp of the material, mental faculty is known as the deductive process, mental speculation—a method not supported by the Vedas. Lord Krishna is unconquerable and imperceptible to the mundane senses. The pursuit of speculative knowledge is to be rejected as it depends on the imperfect material senses—which are habituated to only gather information about the external phenomena. One should approach and hear from mature spiritually realised devotees, who are freed from the four inherent human faults: making mistakes, falling into illusion, possessing imperfect senses, and the cheating propensity. The instructions so received help the aspirants to develop sincere faith in pure devotional service, inspiring them to dedicate their lives to hearing, chanting and serving. With mind, body and words, they become dedicated to the all-purifying message of unalloyed surrender to the Supreme Lord Krishna, which destroys the malevolent effects of Kali-yuga. These devotees can remain in any spiritual or social order or upon any planet within the three worlds. And although Shri Krishna is hidden, yet to such devotee, the Lord becomes gradually revealed. Eventually, they begin serving with unalloyed loving devotion, thus bringing the Supreme Lord Krishna under their control. The living entity, after accruing heaps of devotional credits over many lifetimes, obtains shraddha, faith with an inclination for devotional service. With this blossoms the devotional attitude, which enables him to interact with matter only for the purpose of keeping body and soul together. However, this is not simple vairaga, austere dry renunciation aiming at liberation, which does not burgeon.
Thus, Shrila Rupa Gosvami states in his Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (B.r.s. 2.16):
bhukti-mukti-spriha yavat pishaci
tavad bhakti sukhasyatra katham abhyudayo bhavet
"As long as the heinous desires for liberation and sense gratification, which are likened to blood sucking witches, haunt the jiva’s heart, how is it possible for pure devotion to ever blossom?"
The desire for liberation is especially repugnant. There are five types of liberation as described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB. 3.29.13):
salokya sarshti samipya
sarupyaikatvam apy uta
diyamanam na grihnanti vina mat sevanam janah
"A pure devotee does not accept any kind of liberation, which are five in number: living on the same planet as the Lord (salokya), having the same opulence (sarshti), to be a personal associate (samipya), having the same bodily features (sarupya), or oneness (ekatvam), even if the Lord Himself offers them."
Of these, sayujya liberation, merging with the Supreme Lord in oneness, is diametrically opposed to pure bhakti. However, the Lord’s devotees never desire any kind of liberation. In sadhana-bhakti, as in the varnashrama system, eligibility is dependent upon individual qualification and endeavour. Therefore, it is not necessary to mention it separately here. As soon as a person develops faith (shraddha), he becomes eligible to practice bhakti-yoga. One who has gained eligibility in bhakti is exempted from fruitive activities. Such a bhakti-yoga practitioner has no taste for sinful non-Vedic activities (vikarma). However, if by chance, he becomes entangled in undesirable actions (vikarma) then by the potency of devotional service this accident is purified—the need for performing separate penance (prayashcitta) is thus pre-empted.
As said in the Bhagavatam (SB 11.5.42):
sva-pada-mulam bhajatah priyasya
tyaktanya-bhavasya harih pareshah
vikarma yac cotpatitam kathashcid
dhunoti sarvam hridi sannivishtah
"One who has given up everything and taken full shelter at the lotus feet of Shri Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is very dear to Krishna. If he is involved in some sinful activity by accident, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is seated within everyone’s heart, removes his sins without difficulty."
The level of a person’s spiritual eligibility and application is the source of his good qualities, when he acts beyond his eligibility then all his activities are faulty.
This is also stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB 11.21.2):
sve sve ’dhikare ya nishtha
sa gunah parikirtitah
viparyayas tu doshah syad
ubhayor esha nishcayah
"Steadiness in one’s own position is declared actual piety, whereas deviation from one’s position is considered impiety. In this way, the two are definitely ascertained."
The scriptures enjoin the practice of vaidhi-bhakti, regulated devotional service, incorporating all the above principles. The limbs of sadhana-bhakti are innumerable; hence, only sixty-four important ones are mentioned in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita. The first ten limbs constitute the initial activities of devotional life and prompt the direct actions of bhakti-yoga: (1) accepting a bona-fide spiritual master, (2) receiving initiation and instructions from him, (3) obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion, (4) following in the footsteps of previous acaryas, (5) enquiring about devotional service from the spiritual master, (6) giving up sense gratification for Krishna’s satisfaction, (7) living in a holy place of Krishna’s pastimes, (8) engaging in occupational duties just to maintain body and soul together, accepting just what is necessary, (9) observing vows on religious occasions connected to Shri Krishna (Ekadashi, Janmashtami), (10) worshiping sacred trees (tulasi, dhatri, banyan), cows, Vaishnavas, brahmanas.
A further ten delineate the avoidances of spiritual life: (1) giving up the association of non-devotees, (2) not instructing and accepting unfit disciples, or acting in such away that one becomes obliged to one's disciples, (3) one should not be overly enthusiastic about constructing costly temples and monasteries, (4) rejecting non-devotional books but the studying of devotional scriptures to enhance one's learning, (5) one should not be neglectful but straightforward in ordinary dealings, (6) learning to be equipoised in loss and gain, not succumbing to grief, (7) neither worshiping nor being disrespectful to the demigods and other religious scriptures, (8) not perpetrating distress and pain by mind, words or action to any living entity, (9) avoiding seva-aparadha, offences in devotional service and avoiding nama-aparadha, offences to the holy name, (10) one should not tolerate blasphemy of the Supreme Lord or His devotees, one should forsake such a place. Of these twenty items, taking shelter of a bona-fide spiritual master, receiving initiation and instructions from him, and serving him—these three are the most important.
After one is established in devotional service, positive actions begin: (1) the wearing of tilak and tulasi beads, (2) one may write the Lord’s name upon the body, (3) accepting the garlands offered to the Deity, (4) dancing before the Deity, (5) offering obeisances to the Deity, (6) standing up in the presence of the Deity and guru as a mark of respect, (7) following the Deity and guru on parikrama, (8) visiting holy places and temples of Lord Vishnu, (9) circumambulating the temple and dhama, (10) arcana—worshipping the Deity in the temple, (11) rendering voluntary humble service to the Deity, (12) singing in glorification of the Lord, (13) participating in congregational chanting, sankirtan, (14) chanting softly, japa, (15) submission to Krishna, (16) reciting choice notable prayers, (17) honouring prasadam, (18) one should take caranamrita—water from the bathing of the Deities, (19) smelling respectfully the incense and flowers offered to the Deity, (20) touching the lotus feet of the Deity, (by those properly initiated), (21) taking darshana—seeing the Deity, (22) observing arati and celebrations of the Lord, (23) hearing about the transcendental nature and activities of the Lord, (24) always awaiting His mercy, (25) practicing continuous remembrance of Him, (26) meditating on the service, form, qualities, pastimes of the Lord, (27) adopting constant servitorship toward the Lord, (28) performing service in friendship, (29) surrendering everything, (30) offering, as gifts to the Deity, items that are dear to one, (31) making every endeavour, even taking risks in the service of Krishna, (32) in every condition, one should be a surrendered soul, (33) serving sacred trees, especially watering the tulasi tree, (34) hearing the revealed scriptures—Itihasas, Puranas, Upanishads, (35) residing in Mathura, (36) rendering service to devotees, (37) one should arrange one’s devotional service according to one’s means, (38) observing vows like the kartika-vrata, (39) celebrating the Lord’s festivals (Janmashtami, Ramanavami) with devotees.
The next and last five, to complete the sixty-four devotional limbs, are the most important of all: (1) worshipping the Deity with faith, (2) studying and hearing the Shrimad Bhagavatam from rasika devotees, (3), associating with devotees who are more advanced and possessing a similar devotional mood, (4) chanting the holy name with love and (5) living in the holy dhama, Mathura, or a place where Krishna reveals his pastimes for the purpose of krishna-bhakti. A little and sincere application of these five activities quickly promotes one to the beginning stage of bhava-bhakti, devotional service imbued with spiritual emotion.
Of these sixty-four limbs, some are connected with physical application, others with the senses and still others with the inner self. However, the essential principle is to bring body, senses and mind under control in devotional service to Krishna. This constitutes vaidhi-bhakti, regulative devotional service. There are instances where devotees attained perfection in bhakti-yoga simply by practising any one of these limbs, and, on the other hand, by applying many of them together. The insignificant results of sense enjoyment and liberation, which are promised in the scriptures if one follows these devotional limbs, are mentioned simply to allure materialistic men. Factually, the principal result of following any of these limbs of sadhana-bhakti is only one—attachment for transcendence. Although devotional activities have been enumerated as sixty-four, there are, in fact, only nine limbs.
As stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB 7.5.23-24):
shravanam kirtanam vishnoh smaranam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atmanivedanam
iti pumsarpita vishnau bhaktish cen nava lakshana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha tan manye’dhitam uttamam
"Prahlada Maharaja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental Holy Name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words)—these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge."
The same is stated in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.118):
"The nine processes of pure devotional service consist of hearing, chanting, remembering, serving the lotus feet, worshiping, praying, serving, friendship and complete surrender to Shri Krishna—His name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, associates and pastimes."
One who has fully dedicated his mind, words and body to the service of the Supreme Lord—without interruption and abstaining from the pursuit of empirical knowledge, yogic perfection and fruitive activities, executing these nine limbs of pure devotional service—is understood to have properly studied the Veda and realised their purport.
The preceptors of bhakti-yoga do not recognise karma, fruitive activity, in any way, as a limb of pure devotional service. Till as such time karma does not discard its fruitive characteristics and take on the nature of bhakti, it cannot be counted amongst the limbs of bhakti. Prior to karma being transformed, it transits through three conditions namely, nishkarma (freedom from fruitive desire), karmapana (offering the results of karma) and karma-yoga (linking fruitive activities to Krishna). Only after karma passes through these stages does it becomes converted to devotional service, bhakti-yoga.
Hence, the Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB 11.20.9) states:
tavat karmani kurvita na nirvidyeta
mat katha shravanadau va shraddha yavan na jayate
"As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for devotional service by shravanam kirtanam vishnoh, one has to act according to the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions."
When the desire for karma, fruitive activity, is exhausted, karma changes its form to become jnana, empirical knowledge. However, when faith and attraction towards Krishna blossoms in the heart, karma transforms into the first stirring of bhakti.
Shri Narada has made the following comment about the different stages of karma in the Bhagavatam (SB 1.5.12):
naishkarmyam apy acyuta bhava
na shobhate jnanam alam niranjanam
kutah punah shashvad abhadram ishvare
na carpitam karma yad apy akaranam
"Knowledge of self-realisation, even though free from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception of the Infallible (God). What, then, is the use of fruitive activities, which are naturally painful from the very beginning and transient by nature, if they are not utilised for the devotional service of the Lord?"
Shri Narada mentions in the Bhagavatam (SB 1.5.33-36):
amayo yash ca bhutanam jayate yena
tad eva hy amayam dravyam na punati cikitshitam
evam nrinam kriya yogah sarve samshriti- hetavah
ta evatma vinashaya kalpante kalpitah pare
yad atra kriyate karma bhagavat-paritoshanam
jnanam yat tad adhinam hi bhakti-yoga- samanvitam
kurvana yatra karmani bhagavac-cikshaya’ sakrit
grinanti guna-namani krishnasyanusmaranti ca
"O good soul, does not a thing applied therapeutically, not cure a disease that was caused by that very same thing? Thus, when all a man’s activities are dedicated to the service of the Lord those very activities, which caused his perpetual bondage, become the destroyer of the tree of work. Whatever work is done here in this world for the satisfaction of the Lord’s mission is called bhakti-yoga, transcendental loving service to the Lord, and what is called knowledge becomes a concomitant factor. While performing duties according to Shri Krishna’s order, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one constantly remembers Him, His name and His qualities."
Although jnana, empirical knowledge, and vairagya, detachment, are minutely conducive to help one enter the path of bhakti-yoga, they are not limbs of bhakti. When jnana and vairagya become accentuated, they harden the heart and thus blight the relish of bhakti-yoga, which prospers only in tender freshness. Thus, bhakti is nurtured based on sambandha-jnana: knowledge of the eternal relationship between Shri Krishna, His multifarious energies and the living entities. This knowledge places one in yukta-vairagya: practising detachment through the wisdom of utilising everything in Krishna’s service.
Thus, Shrila Rupa Gosvami states in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (B.r.s. 1.2.255):
anasaktasya vishayan yatharham
nirbandhah krishna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate
"When one is materially unattached, but at the same time accepts everything in relationship to Krishna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness."
This is the responsibility of a sadhana-bhakta, a practitioner of bhakti-yoga. Fruitive activity (karma), empirical knowledge (jnana) and false renunciation (phalgun-vairagya) can never be included in the limbs of devotional service—they are detrimental to bhakti-yoga. The knowledge about the science of devotion that is revealed in order to generate funds and disciples is indeed a far cry from bhakti, rather it is contrary the precepts of pure devotional service. A good conscience is certainly an embellishment in the character of one who has gained eligibility in bhakti-yoga, but it is still not a limb of bhakti. Discipline, sense control, non-violence, cleanliness are symptoms of a good character which bask in the splendour of bhakti—but they are not the symptoms of bhakti itself.
This is also the verdict of Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.145):
jnana vairagyadi bhaktira kabhu nahe
ahimsa yama niyamadi bule krishna bhakta sanga
"The path of speculative knowledge and renunciation is not very essential for devotional service. Indeed, good qualities such as mind and sense control automatically accompany a devotee of Lord Krishna."
Thus far, we have discussed vaidhi-bhakti, regulative devotional service. Now we shall analyse the principles of raganuga-bhakti, spontaneous pure devotional service.
Shrila Rupa Gosvami describes in the Bhakti rasamrita-sindhu (B.r.s. 1.2.272)
ishthe svarasiki ragah param
tan mayi ya bhaved bhaktih satra ragatmikodita
"When one becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his natural inclination to love is fully absorbed in thoughts of the Lord. This is called raga, transcendental attachment, and devotional service according to that attachment is called ragatmika, spontaneous devotional service."
The practice (sadhana) of following in the footsteps of ragatmika bhakti is called raganuga bhakti. Devotion dictated by scriptural rules and regulations is called vaidhi-bhakti. However, when devotion is devoid of such constraints and blossoms into the spontaneous free flow of love for the Lord and follows the mood of ragatmika bhakti, it is known as raganuga-bhakti. Both these types of bhakti (vaidhi and raganuga) are sadhana-bhakti, the process by which the ultimate goal, sadhya-bhakti (prema-bhakti) is attained. Ragatmika-bhakti is of two kinds: kamanuga (devotion which is subservient to the promptings of transcendental lust) and sambandhanuga (devotion based on relationship).
The devotional moods of the residents of Vraja and Dvaraka are glowing examples of ragatmika-bhakti. The devotee who is attracted and inspired by their devotional sentiments is eligible to be elevated to the platform of raganuga-bhakti.
Just as faith and reverence for adhering to scriptural injunctions furnishes the eligibility to practice vaidhi-bhakti, so also the intense greed and attraction (lobha) for the spiritual sentiments of ragatmika pure devotees provides the eligibility to execute raganuga-bhakti.
This point has been delineated in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (172; 292, 294, 295):
natra shastram na yuktim ca tal
tat tad bhavadi-madhurya-shrute dhir yad apekshate
krishnam smaran janam casya preshtham nija-samihitam
tat tat katha ratish casau kuryad vasam vraje sada
seva sadhaka-rupena siddha-rupena catra hi
tad bhava lipsuna karya vraja-lokanusaratah
"When an advanced realised devotee hears about the affairs of the devotees in Vrindavana—in the spiritual moods of shanta (neutrality), dasya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parenthood) and madhurya (conjugal)—he becomes inclined in that way, and his intelligence becomes attracted. Indeed, he begins to covet that particular type of devotion. When such covetousness (lobha) is awakened, one’s intelligence no longer depends on the instructions of the shastra, revealed scripture, logic or argument. The devotee should always think of Krishna within himself, and one should choose a very dear devotee who is a servitor of Krishna in Vrindavana. One should constantly engage in topics about that servitor and his loving relationship to Krishna, and one should live in Vrindavana. However, if one is physically unable to go to Vrindavana, he should mentally live there. The advanced devotee who is inclined to spontaneous loving devotional service should follow the activities of a particular associate of Krishna in Vrindavana. He should execute service externally as a regulative devotee as well as internally from his self-realised position. Thus, he should perform devotional service both externally and internally."
The limbs of bhakti (hearing, chanting etc.) that were enumerated in the context of vaidhi-bhakti, regulative devotional service, amongst them, those that are conducive and suited to raganuga-bhakti are fit to be executed by the raganuga-bhakta. Raganuga devotees of different rasas, spiritual tastes, try to follow in the footsteps of the eternal associates (ragatmika bhaktas) by emulating their devotional sentiments (bhavas) and service. Those in dasya-rasa follow Citraka, Patraka or Raktaka, those in sakhya follow Baladeva, Shridama, Sudama or Subala, those in vatsalya follow Nanda-Yashoda, and those in madhurya emulate the gopis of Vrdavana; Shrimati Radharani or Her friends such as Lalita and Her serving maids (manjaris) like Rupa and Rati.
Like ragatmika-bhakti, raganuga-bhakti is also of two types having the same appellatives, kamanuga and sambandhanuga. Of them, kamanuga is the principal and preponderant. Kamanuga is further divided into: sambhogeccha-mayi (the desire to give pleasure directly) and tad bhaveccha-mayi (relishing the moods of Radha Krishna). The first type, sambhogecchamayi, is displayed mostly in erotic pastimes, while the second type is solely nurtured by the sweet transcendental sentiments of the Vraja gopis. The loving paternal emotion on the basis of a father and son relationship wherein Krishna is the father is sambandhanuga bhakti (in Dvaraka). The loving sentiment of the queens of Dvaraka towards Krishna is sambandhanuga bhakti in madhurya-rasa, the conjugal mood. However, in Vraja, madhurya-rasa is present only when tempered with kamanuga-bhakti. It is important to understand that the universal teachings of Shri Chaitanya inspire His followers to execute raganuga-bhakti. Meditation and worship on the path of spontaneous devotional service (raga-marga) is fully in tune with His instructions.
If good fortune visits a living entity and he meets a pure devotee who is a recipient of Shri Chaitanya’s boundless mercy then that fortunate soul will certainly develop attraction and greed for the spiritual sentiments that embellish the eternal residents of Vraja. Until as such time a living entity does not meet a pure devotee of this stature, he will remain on the level of vaidhi-bhakti, regulative devotional service. But, as soon as the practitioner, under superior guidance, takes shelter of Shri Chaitanya’s lotus feet, he becomes elevated to the path of raga-bhakti, spontaneous devotional service.
The practitioner who covets the spiritual sentiments of spontaneous devotional service is first promoted to raganuga-bhakti. The level of raganuga bhakti is indeed very elevated and by its practice, the sadhaka (practicioner) quickily develops extremely high qualification. With the blossoming of spiritual covetousness (lobha) for the spiritual emotions of the eternal residents of Vraja, the devotee immediately liberates himself from all inferior tastes such as the urge to perform sinful activities, pious deeds, fruitive activity, selfless unmotivated social duty, the pursuit of empirical knowledge, dry renunciation and so on.
In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Shrila Rupa Gosvami has enumerated the process of gradual elevation (B.r.s. 1.4.15-16):
adau shraddha tatah sadhu-sango’tha
tato’ nartha nivrittih syat tato nishtha rucis tatah
athashaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah
"In the beginning, there must be reverence and conviction. Then one becomes attracted to associating with pure devotees. Thereafter, he is initiated by a bona-fide spiritual master and executes regulative devotional principles under his guidance. Thus, one is freed from all unwanted material desires and habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, he develops taste and attachment for Krishna. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti—the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually spiritual emotions intensify and finally there is an awakening of spiritual love. This is the process of gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee in Krishna consciousness."
However, if lobha, spiritual greed, develops then material greed is easily overcome and all the unwanted material desires and bad habits are quickly subjugated. Bhava, the first stirrings of spiritual love, appear in tandem with intensified lobha. On the path of spontaneous devotional service, attention must be paid to eradicate duplicity and pretension—hypocrisy (kapatata). If hypocrisy persists then fatal deviations and unwanted desires vitiate one’s bhakti. One begins to misinterpret perverted spiritual sentiments as pure emotions (raga), until finally material desires become so strong and rampant that they drag the practitioner down to depths of depravity.
The sincere practitioner having taken shelter of Shri Chaitanya’s lotus feet will adhere to pure spiritual greed and gradually tread the path of raganuga-bhakti. He will execute regulative devotional service under the guidance of a bona-fide guru, serve and worship the Deity, associate only with Vaishnavas, reverentially study bhakti scriptures, live in the holy dhama where the Supreme Lord manifests His pastimes and humbly chant the holy name. In meditation, he will serve Shri Krishna in the mood of the eternal residents of Vraja in his spiritually perfected form—his original spiritual identity (siddha-deha).
Amongst the sincere practitioners (sadhakas), those who are most fortunate will take complete shelter of chanting—the most efficacious of all devotional limbs—and in the association of highly elevated Vaishnavas serve and hear the Shrimad Bhagavatam.
Initiation into the chanting of the Holy Name does not require the execution of special vows like purashcarana. Avoiding the offences to the Holy Name and the resultant namabhasa, the shadow of pure chanting, the sadhaka should embark upon incessant chanting. Continuous chanting, endeavouring to receive the Lord’s mercy, and meditating on His transcendental form will gradually manifest His beautiful form along with His transcendental qualities. Thereafter, in the sadhaka's heart, His name, form and qualities will be always present. This leads to the gradual revelation of His pastimes. Soon, the spiritual sentiments of the Lord’s pastimes begin to manifest. This rasa, spiritual taste, is the summit of spiritual realisation. Put simply, from the beginning of chanting, one should overcome nama-abhasa (semblance of pure chanting) and nama-aparadha (offensive chanting) and cultivate the sincere desire for relishing rasa; then quickly, spiritual sentiments (rasa) begin to stir within the heart.
The ten offences against the Holy Name to be avoided are enumerated in the Padma Purana:
satam ninda-namnah param aparadham
yatah khyatim yatam katham u sahate tad vigarham
shivasya shri visnor ya iha
guna namadi sakalam
dhiya bhinnam pashyet sa khalu
guror avajna shruti-shastra-nindanam
tatharthavado hari namni kalpanam
namno balad yasya hi papabuddhi
na vidyate yasya yamair hi shuddhih
subha-kriya samyam api pramadah
ashraddadhane vimukhe’py ashrinvati
yas copadeshah shiva-namaparadhah
shrute’pi nama-mahatmye yah priti rahito narah
aham mamadi paramo namni so’py aparadha-krit
"The ten offences against the Holy Name are: (1) To blaspheme saintly devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the glories of the Holy Name. (2) To consider demigods as being independent of the Supreme Lord’s control or equal to Him. (3) To disobey the orders of the spiritual master and other elevated Vaishnavas. (4) To disrespect the revealed scriptures. (5) To consider the glories of the Holy Name as exaggerated or imaginary. (6) To give some concocted interpretation on the meanings of the Holy Name. (7) To commit sinful activities on the strength of the Holy Name. (8) To think the chanting of the Holy Name is like other pious deeds. (9) To reveal the glories or give initiation into the chanting of the Holy Name to the faithless. And, (10), even after hearing the glories of the Holy Name, to not have faith in the chanting and maintain material attachments."
Namabhasa, a faint semblance of the pure name is of two kinds: chaya namabhasa, shadow resemblance, and pratibimba namabhasa, the reflection of the resemblance. When the chanting of the Holy Name is without offences, but also without the knowledge of one’s original spiritual identity (svarupa), it is called chaya namabhasa. This quality of chanting in the association of pure devotees soon brings about realisation of one’s svarupa and one, then, begins to chant the pure name of Krishna, shuddha nama. When chanting is performed with a consciousness covered by material desire for sense gratification and liberation (anyabhilasha), by the desire for empirical knowledge, fruitive activity and by the desire for severe austerities and renunciation; then, it is called pratibimba namabhasa. Whereas, this second type of namabhasa can sometimes lead to chaya namabhasa, it can also lead to the dangers of namaparadha, offensive chanting. Always chanting in the association of saintly devotees is the only means to liquidate the namaparadha—there is no other method.
The Vaishnava, who is attached to chanting the Holy Name, becomes recognised as a member of Shri Chaitanya’s family and dedicated to His lotus feet. The title of Vaishnava is awarded to one who chants the Holy Name occasionally. The devotee who chants incessantly is called a Vaishnava-tara, an elevated Vaishnava, and the Vaishnava who inspires others to chant the Holy Name simply by his presence is a Vaishnava-tama, the most elevated.
These gradations have been explained in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 15.111, 16, 72, 74, 75)
ataeva yanra mukhe eka krishna nama
sei ta’ vaishnava, kariha tanhara sammana
krishna nama nirantara yahara vadane
sei vaishnava shreshtha, bhaja tanhara carane
yanhara darshane mukhe aise krishna nama
tanhare janiha tumi Vaishnava pradhana
krama kari kahe prabhu vaishnava lakshana
vaishnava vaishnavatara ara vaishnavatama
"Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advised:
One who is chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is understood to be a Vaishnava; therefore, you should offer all respects to him. A devotee who is always chanting the Holy Name of the Lord is to be considered a first class Vaishnava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet. The most elevated Vaishnava is he whose very presence makes others chant Krishna’s name. In this way, Lord Chaitanya described the characteristics of the different levels of Vaishnava: Vaishnava, Vaishnava-tara and Vaishnava-tama."
It is the duty of every living entity to associate with all three types of saintly devotees. A Vaishnava must at all times be respected; and the Vaishnava-tara and Vaishnava-tama must be served with loving reverence. The householder Vaishnava must celebrate festivals in the company of such Vaishnavas. Whether the Vaishnava is a householder or a renunciant, the devotee should respect him according to his level. When a devotee seeks sadhu-sanga, saintly association, he must approach a more advanced Vaishnava.
As is described in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (B.r.s. 1.2. 92, 90):
sajatiyashaye snigdhe sadhau sangah
shrimad bhagavatarthanam asvado rasikaih saha
"One should associate with devotees who are more advanced than oneself and endowed with a similar type of sentiment and attraction for the Lord. One should relish the purport of Shrimad Bhagavatam in the association of pure devotees who are steeped in spiritual life and realisation."
One must be very cautious not to judge a Vaishnava based on his previous sins, residual sinful reactions, or a sudden fall-down into sinful activity. Shrila Rupa Gosvami has warned in the Upadeshamrta (Ua. 6):
na prakritatvam iha bhaka-janasya pashyet
"One must not see a Vaishnava as a mundane person."
One must never discuss others’ sinful activities except with good intentions to help. One must develop the quality of mercy towards all living entities. One is required to see oneself as meek and humble, thus enabling one to be respectful to everyone and not desire respect for oneself. The householder Vaishnavas will accept material things without attachment, but with knowledge of their utility and relationship to Krishna’s service. In this way, they will not be contaminated by materialism and they will be able to submerge themselves in the transcendental relish of chanting the Holy Name. As and when the taste for Krishna consciousness increases and correspondingly mundane attraction decreases to nil—then automatically a natural mood of renunciation develops and the anxiety of want disappears. This condition and state of consciousness cannot be achieved in any other way.
In both forms of sadhana-bhakti (vaidhi and raga) guru is required. In vaidhi-bhakti-sadhana, according to the level of spiritual taste (ruci), the guru will give the aspirant the necessary instructions on how to vanquish unwanted desires (anarthas) by follow scriptural injuctions. The guru will guide the raganuga-bhakti-sadhaka (aspirant) on the path of rasa, spiritual relish, according to the disciple’s spiritual tendency.
Taste (ruci) and greed (lobha) is of two types: kshanika (temporary) and maisargika (innate). Some devotees on hearing the characteristics of Shri Nanda Maharaja or Shri Subala feel rudimentary exhilaration to the point of experiencing the initial stirrings of spiritual sentiments, bhava. However this joy, bhava, is shortlived—such bhava, lobha, and ruci is kshanika, temporary. With this lobha and ruci not much can be done. The guru must analyse the disciple’s natural tendency and establish his innate lobha (greed) for one of the four rasas—dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhurya. Having determined his innate lobha, the guru schools him with pertinent instructions. Otherwise, left to himself, the disciple will stumble along as an unauthorised intruder into the path of rasa and his lobha and bhava will never reach steadiness. It is not that everyone must be sadhakas of madhurya rasa. The guru who is unable to determine his disciple's innate lobha, should, without duplicity, express his inability and send his disciple to an eligible bona-fide guru conversant in this science of rasa. For the disciple sadhaka, it is a spiritual catastrophe if he is without the shelter of a bona-fide qualified guru.
The paradigm of sadhana-bhakti has been presented in concise form to avoid weighing this book down with bulk. Those interested in learning more details on this subject should study Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu Purvabhaga, and the Bhakti-sandarbha by Shrila Jiva Gosvami. These texts offer a comprehensive and exhaustive treatise on sadhana-bhakti.
After composing, studying and deliberating upon the entire Vedic literature for many centuries, Lord Brahma was unable to know that most esoteric spiritual essence. This is the same treasure always sought by the omniscient master of all mystic potency and renunciation, Lord Shiva, the best of the demigods. The self-realised, liberated souls incessantly glorify with intense love this most brilliant of spiritual experiences, the singular spiritual destination, the supreme and unparalleled necessity of human aspiration, love of Godhead (prema). Now, by invoking a drop of mercy from the endless ocean of munificence, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprau, we shall attempt the exposition of love of Godhead, krishna-prema. Elaborating on the paradigm of krishna-prema, Lord Chaitanya said to Shrila Rupa Gosvami as recorded in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 19.151-164):
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan
guru krishna prasade paya bhakti lata bija
mali hana kare sei bija aropana
shravana kirtana jale karaye secana
upajiya bade lata brahmanda bhedi’ yaya
viraja brahmaloka bhedi’ paravyoma paya
tave yaya tad upari goloka vrindavana
krishna carana kalpa vrikshe kare arohana
tanha vistarita hana phale prema phala
inha mali sece nitya shravana kirtanadi jala
yadi vaishnava aparadha uthe hati mata
upare va chinde, tara shukhi’ yaya pata
ta’te mali yatna kari’ kare avarana
aparadha hastira yaiche na haya udgama
kintu yadi latara sange uthe upashakha
bhukti mukti vanca yata asankhya ta’ra lekha
nishidhacara, kutinati, jiva himsana
labha, puja, pratishthadi yata upashakha gana
seka jala pana upashakha badi’ yaya
stabdha hana mula shakha bariite na paya
prathamei upashakha karaye chedana
tave mula shakha barii’ yaya vrindavana
prema phala paki’ parie, mali asvadaya
lata avalambi’ mali kalpa vriksha paya
tanha sei kalpa vrikshera karaye secana
sukhe prema phala rasa kare asvadana
ei ta’ parama phala parama purushartha
yanra age trina tulya cari purushartha
"According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout this universe. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona-fide guru by Krishna’s grace. Then, by the mercy of both, guru and Krishna, such a fortunate person receives the seed of the creeper of pure devotional service. On receiving this seed, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he diligently waters the seed by the gradual process of hearing and chanting the seed will begin to sprout. By proper devotional care, the bhakti lata bija sprouts. The creeper then begins to grow till it penetrates the coverings of the universe and goes beyond the Viraja River, flowing between the material and spiritual worlds. The creeper first penetrates Brahma-loka. Then, through the Brahman effulgence, it reaches the spiritual sky known as paravyoma, the Vaikuntha planets. It grows further until it rests at the shade of Shri Krishna’s lotus-feet, which are like a wish-fulfilling desire tree situated in the topmost spiritual planet, Goloka Vrindavana. In Goloka Vrindavana, the creeper greatly expands and produces the fruit of love of Godhead (prema). Although the gardener remains in the material world, he regularly waters the creeper with hearing and chanting.
"However, if the gardener devotee commits vaishnava-aparadha, (blasphemes a devotee) while tending the devotional creeper in the material world, his offence is compared to a mad elephant that uproots the creeper and breaks it. The leaves all dry up and fall. The gardener attentively defends his creeper by fencing it so that the mad elephant of offences may not enter from any side. Sometimes unwanted weeds like material desires for sense enjoyment, liberation and other unlimited varieties also grow along with the devotional creeper. These weeds are immoral, illicit activities, diplomacy and duplicity, animal slaughter, mundane profiteering, yearning for recognition, distinction, position, and so on. Therefore, indiscriminate watering will not only nourish the weeds and make them sturdy, but finally they will certainly curtail the growth of the bhakti-lata.
"Hence, the intelligent devotee, recognising the growing weeds immediately uproots them, allowing the bhakti creeper to grow unimpeded all the way up to Goloka Vrindavana. When the fruit of bhakti ripens and falls down the gardener relishes it and thus taking advantage of the creeper, he climbs it until he reaches the lotus-feet of Krishna, the desire tree, in Goloka Vrindavana. There he incessantly serves the desire tree, the lotus feet of Krishna and joyfully relishes the ambrosial juice of the fruit of love to Godhead (prema) experiencing eternal bliss. To taste the sublime fruit of prema in Goloka Vrindavana is the highest perfection, in comparison to which the other Vedic perfections (sense gratification, material opulence, religiosity and liberation) are insignificant."
This wonderful analogy from Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has been presented to succinctly delineate the salient truth. It exhibits Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s erudition. If the human beings can comprehend the full import of these verses and translate them into action, they can surely attain the highest perfection of human life. What is unattainable by wading through mountains of scriptures is easily accomplished by understanding these twenty-eight lines.
The living entities are continuously transiting the different planets in the material universe since time immemorial whilst treading the paths of fruitive activity (karma) and empirical knowledge (jnana). However, in any particular lifetime, when their pious activities in the form of devotion intensify, shraddha arises, creating respect and faith in the process of devotional surrender. Shraddha guides the jiva to seek saintly company and take shelter of a bona-fide guru. Under the guidance of sadhu and guru, the jiva sows the seed of bhakti-yoga, shraddha, in his heart. The jiva then begins to water the seed with hearing and chanting like a gardener.
The seed sprouts and gradually grows larger, penetrates through the coverings of the material world, passes the Viraja river bordering the material world, crosses the brahman effulgence and enters the transcendental abode of paravyoma, Vaikuntha. At the time of penetrating the Brahman effulgence, the jiva receives an additional reward; it is called krishna-kripa, Krishna’s mercy. Jiva in his original spiritual constitution is infinitesimal and minute. Through spiritual cultivation, he endeavours to regain his spiritual identity (svarupa). In the process of relinquishing the material covering, he looses his material identity and existence thus plunging himself into a vacuum known as non-existence, where the awareness of his existence and consciousness is annihilated. At this juncture, by the causeless mercy of the devotee, the Lord’s mercy, krishna-kripa, especially comes to the jiva’s aid.
Shri Krishna’s pleasure-giving potency, the hladini-sakti, is extremely influential. At the time when jiva’s attachment to maya and thereby maya’s influence on the jiva is expelled, krishna-kripa in the form of mercy appears to protect the jiva from spiritual death where he stands to lose his transcendental designation. Hladini-sakti appears in the shape of bhava, whilst the jiva is in the process of cultivating sadhana-bhakti. On the strength of this bhava (spiritual emotion), the jiva experiences the first stirrings of spiritual love (rati) which gradually elevates him to the rarefied regions of sublime spiritual emotions.
It is impossible for the jiva to achieve the prime and ultimate necessity of life (prayojana-krishna-prema), without first receiving the mercy of the hladini-sakti. On the strength of hladini-sakti’s mercy, the jiva’s spiritual nature helps him to penetrate through the Brahman effulgence and enter the eternal spiritual sky—Vaikuntha. The devotional creeper continues to grow upwards entering the highest spiritual planet of Goloka Vrindavana, finally taking shelter of the wish-fulfilling desire tree of Krishna’s lotus feet. There the creeper spreads and expands, bringing forth the fruit of love of Godhead (prema-phala).
All the while, the gardener, the jiva, continues to water the root of the bhakti-lata by hearing and chanting. At the time when the seed sprouts and begins to grow, the gardener must focus his attention on certain aspects. For example, vaishnava-aparadha, criticising and blaspheming a saintly devotee is an offence compared to a mad elephant, which destroys and uproots the devotional creeper, drying it up. The gardener must be overtly cautious against committing this offence. Another item of caution is the springing up of different weeds all around the bhakti lata. Growing alongside, being watered by hearing and chanting these weeds are numerous: sense enjoyment, desire for liberation and mystic powers, sinful activities, fault-finding, violence, cruelty, duplicity, desiring for material gain, position and fame etc. The gardener must guard his bhakti lata from these weeds by uprooting them at the first sign of their appearance. Otherwise, the weeds will grow stronger and larger, ultimately impeding the growth of the devotional creeper. If the gardener timely tends his creeper, it grows beyond the material coverings into the highest spiritual abode of Vrindavana. His creeper bears the fruits of prema, which the gardener may relish with delight. This is the acme of human pursuit. All other human goals like material opulence, sense pleasures, religiosity and liberation are extraneous compared to love of Godhead. What, then, are the definition, form, qualities, and symptoms of prema?
Shrila Rupa Gosvami writes (B.r.s. 173.1):
rucibhish citta-masrinya-krd asau bhava ucyate
"When devotional service is situated on the transcendental platform of pure goodness, it is like a ray of the sunlight of love for Krishna. At such a time, devotional service causes the heart to be softened by various tastes that are called bhava (spiritual emotion)."
Further Shrila Rupa Gosvami writes (B.r.s. 174.1):
samyan masrinita-svanto mamatvatishayankitah
bhavah sa eva sandratma budhaih prema nigadyate
"When that bhava softens the heart completely, it becomes endowed with a great feeling of possessiveness in relationship to the Lord. When it becomes very much condensed and intensified, learned scholars call it prema, love of Godhead."
The sattva-guna, mode of goodness, which is under the jurisdiction of the maya-shakti, is not pure but mixed goodness. Intensified compressed love and possessiveness for Krishna is the innate nature of Krishna’s internal spiritual energy, the hladini-shakti, the pleasure giving potency. So, when shuddha-sattva combines with bhava it gives rise to an extraordinary and wonderful emotion in the jiva’s heart, and this is called prema, pure love of Godhead. In the material world, the combination of mundane samvit-shakti and hladini-shakti produces mundane love, which is simply a perverted reflection of spiritual love, prema.
The Chaitanya-caritamrita states (Cc. Madhya 19.177-178):
sadhana bhakti haite maya ratira
rati gadha haite ta’ra prema nama kaya
prema vriddhi krame nama-sneha, mana, pranaya
raga, anuraga, bhava, mahabhava haya
"By regularly rendering devotional service, one gradually becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When that attachment is intensified, it becomes love of Godhead. The basic aspects of prema, when gradually increasing to higher states, are affection, petulance, love, attachment, deeper attachment, ecstasy and great ecstasy."
As described in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Cc. Madhya 23.20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36):
ei nava prity-ankura yanra citte haya
prakrita-kshobhe tanra kshobha nahi haya
krishna-sambandha vina kala vyartha nahi yaya
bhukti, siddhi, indriyartha tare nahi bhaya
’sarvottama’ apanake ’hina’ kari mane
’krishna kripa karibena’-dridha kari’ jane
samutkantha haya sada lalasa-pradhana
nama-gane sada ruci, laya krishna-nama
krishna-gunakhyane haya sarvada asakti
krishna-lila-sthane kare sarvada vasati
"If love for Krishna in a seedling state has fructified in one’s heart, material things do not agitate one. Not a moment should be lost. Every moment should be utilised for Krishna and connected with Him. In the material field, people are interested in material enjoyment, mystic power and sense gratification. However, these things do not appeal to the devotee at all. Although a pure devotee’s standard is above all, he still considers himself to be in the lowest stage of life. A fully surrendered devotee always hopes that Lord Krishna will be kind to him. This hope is very firm in him. This eagerness is chiefly characterised by an ardent desire to associate with the Lord. Due to having great relish for the Holy Name, one is inclined to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra constantly. At this stage of bhava, a devotee has awakened the tendency to chant and describe the Lord’s transcendental qualities. He has attachment for this process. A devotee absorbed in ecstatic emotion for Krishna always resides in a place where Krishna’s pastimes are performed."
This bhava is called the first sprout of prema, priti, and when it appears, it shows the following characteristics.
kshantir avyartha-kalatvam viraktir
ashabandhah samutkantha nama-gane sada rucih
ashaktis tad-gunakhyane pritis tad-vasati-sthale
ity adayo’ nubhavah syur jata-bhavankure jane
"When the seed of ecstatic emotion for Krishna fructifies, the following symptoms manifest in one’s behaviour: forgiveness, concern that time should not be wasted, detachment, absence of false prestige, hope, eagerness, a taste for chanting the Holy Name, attachment to descriptions of the Lord’s transcendental qualities, and affection for those places where the Lord resides and performs His pastimes. These are all called anubhava, subordinate signs of ecstatic emotions. They are visible in a person in whose heart the seed of love of Godhead has begun to fructify."
Rati, transcendental attachment in love, is the first incipient stage of prema, and prema is the concentrated form of rati. Prema may be compared to the sun and bhava, rati, to its rays. As rati appears, the initial stirrings of sattvika bhava also manifest. Although rati appears in the consciousness of the conditioned living entity, it is fully transcendental. Thus being self-manifest, it ostensibly projects itself as that which requires an agent and cause to manifest, and subjects itself to being misidentified as an innate part of the human nature and mind. However, it appears from the soul itself.
There are two types of rati: one, is caused by the special mercy of Krishna or His devotee, and the second, is revealed by absorption in sadhana-bhakti. That rati born out of mercy is very rare. The rati generated by sadhana-bhakti is most commonly seen in the world and is of two types: from vaidhi-sadhana and from raganuga-sadhana. Rati, the priceless jewel is most rare and esoteric. The quality of rati reflected in activities of sense gratification or in the pursuit of liberation is not real rati but a mere insinuation of it—rati-abhasa. Rati-abhasa is of two varieties: pratibimba (reflected) and chaya (shadow). Only inexperienced persons lacking knowledge of this spiritual science declare rati-abhasa as real rati.
In some rare cases, it is seen that a person does not go through the complete process of sadhana-bhakti, but suddenly manifests symptoms of pure rati. In all such instances, it is to be understood that for some unknown reason the beginning stages of sadhana-bhakti had remained unarticulated but with the removal of that impediment the more mature stages are revealed, as if without the usual preceding stages.
If the behaviour and activities of a person decorated with rati come forward as incongruous and noisome, still he is very fortunate and no one should despise him. In truth, such fortunate person’s characteristics are faultless. Sometimes, certain of his activities may be in contravention to the social and moral norms, but in regard to him, they are not transgressions and iniquities. In the eyes of a neophyte, because of his overt adherence to rules and regulations, these activities may seem condemnable.
When rati reaches the stage of requiring expression, it manifests itself as anubhava (physical ecstatic symptoms) and sancari-bhava (transitory ecstatic emotions). The amalgam of these instigates prema, concentrated rati, to become converted to rasa, spiritual relish. The subject of rasa, specifically prema-rasa, has been exhaustively dealt with in the article: Krishna, The Ocean of Nectarine Spiritual Relish. Hence, here we restrict ourselves to these few words, the respected readers will hopefully sympathise with the author.
Prema, love of Godhead, is of two kinds: kevala-prema (unalloyed love) and mahim-jnana-yukta-prema (love mixed with knowledge, awe and reverential worship). The goal of raganuga-bhakti-sadhana is primarily kevala-prema. Devotees on the path of vaidhi-bhakti-sadhana attain such liberations as sarupya (equal bodily feature), salokya (equal facility to live on the same planet with the Lord), sarshti (equal possession of opulence like the Lord), and samipya (equal association with the Lord). According to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings, kevala-prema, unalloyed devotional surrender is the pinnacle of all attainments and goals. Kevala-prema is further sub-divided as: bhavottha (sprung from bhava) and prasadotha (sprung directly from mercy). Further sub-divisions of bhavottha are: vaidhi and raganuga. Prasadottha is extremely rare. Bhavottha-prema is more common and is described in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Cc. Madhya 23.9-13, 39):
kona bhagye kona jivera shraddha yadi
tave sei jiva sadhu sanga karaya
sadhu sanga haite haya shravana kirtana
sadhana bhaktye haya sarvanartha nivartana
anartha nivritti haile bhakti nishtha haya
nishtha haite shravanadye ruci upajaya
ruci bhakti haite haya ashakti pracura
ashakti haite citte janme krishne prity ankura
sei rati gadha haila dhare prema nama
sei prema prayojana sarvananda dhama
yanra citte krishna prema karaye udaya
tanra vakya, kriya, mudra vijneha na bujhaya
"If, by good fortune, a living entity develops faith in Krishna he begins to associate with devotees. Inspired by devotee association he begins the process of devotional service by hearing and chanting which cleanses his heart of all unwanted contamination. Freed from all contamination, his devotion advances to the stage of firm, undeviating faith. When firm faith awakens, taste for hearing and chanting blossoms. From taste for devotional service arises deep attachment, leading to the appearance in the heart of the seed of love Godhead, which begins to grow. When that stage of ecstasy intensifies, it is called love of Godhead, prema. It is the prime human necessity, life’s ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure. Even the most learned man could not understand the words, activities and symptoms of a person situated in love of Godhead."
The Karika, Explanatory Verse
akarsha sannidhau lauhah pravritto
anor mahati caitanye pravrittih pritir eva sa
pratiphalana-dharmatvat baddha-jive nisargatah
itareshu ca sarveshu rago’sti vishayadishu
linga-bhangottara bhaktih shuddha-pritir anuttama
tat purvam atmanikshepat bhaktih pritimayi sati
"When a magnet is placed at a proper distance from iron, the iron, acting according to its properties, is drawn to the magnet. Similarly, the infinitesimal living entity when it comes in front of Krishna, the infinite Supreme Being, exhibits its innate characteristics—the inherent symptoms of unalloyed spiritual love. This spontaneous spiritual emotion is self-perfected and self-manifesting in the transcendental realm. This material world is merely a perverted reflection of the spiritual abode. The living entity, jiva, has had to accept an alien nature in this material world, contrary to its original spiritual nature, and has developed an aberrant attachment for the base and gross material things—this becoming his second nature.
"As long as the jiva’s subtle material body (consisting of mind, intelligence and false-ego) is not purified, pure spiritual emotions, which are transcendental and self-perfected, cannot awaken. The symptoms of bhakti exhibited after the dismantling of the jiva’s subtle material form are indeed pure love of Godhead. Preceding this stage, the jiva attempts to discard his material identity. He acknowledges his transcendental nature as a rarely attained gift and offers himself in full surrender. At this point, devotion can at best be affectionate, but not profound spontaneous love."
These matters described by Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja in his immortal Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.149, 153, 156-157, 159):
ragatmika bhakti mukhya vrajavasi
ta’ra anugata bhaktira raganuga name
lobhe vrajavasira bhave kare anugati
shastrayukti nahi mane raganugara prakriti
bahya, abhyantara, ihara dui ta’sadhana
bahye sadhaka dehe kare shravana kirtana
mane nija siddha deha kariya bhavan
ratri dine kare vraje krishnera sevana
nijabishtha krishna preshtha pache ta’ lagiyan
nirantara seva kare antarmana hana
"The original inhabitants of Vrindavana are attached to Krishna spontaneously in devotional service. Nothing can compare to their devotional service, which is called ragatmika-bhakti. When a devotee follows in the footsteps of the devotees of Vrindavana his devotion is called raganuga-bhakti. If one is a follower of an eternal inhabitant of Vrindavana and develops covetousness (lobha) for his mood of surrender then he does not care for the injunctions and reasoning of the shastras. That is the way of spontaneous love. One may execute this raganuga-bhakti by two processes—external and internal. The self-realised, advanced devotee externally remains like a neophyte and executes all the shastric injunctions, especially hearing and chanting. However, within his mind, in his original purified self-realised position, he serves Krishna in Vrindavana in his particular way. He serves Krishna ceaselessly, throughout the day and night. Actually, the inhabitants of Vrindavana are very dear to Krishna. If one wants to engage in spontaneous loving service, he must follow the inhabitants of Vrindavana and constantly engage in devotional service within his mind.
The Karika, Explanatory Verse
krishna-bahirmukhe sa ca
vishaya-pritir eva hi
sa caiva krishna-sammukhyat krishna-pritih sunirmala
raty adi-bhava-paryantam svarupa-lakshanam smritam
dasya-sakhyadi-sambandhat sa caiva rasatam vrajet
"The difference between love of Godhead, Krishna, and love of matter is profound. As soon as the loving propensity is withdrawn from matter and dovetailed towards Krishna, it becomes love of Godhead (prema). On the other hand, when the jiva turns his back to Krishna and observes matter with the intent of enjoyment, he develops material attachment and love for matter. When the symptoms of the soul’s original identity begin to manifest, they start on the level of rati and can reach the heights of mahabhava. The sthayi-bhava is the steady constitutional emotion and evokes the individual spiritual moods of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya. It becomes a catalyst, helping the ecstatic symptoms to manifest, creating rasa, spiritual relish."
Shrila Jiva Gosvami writes in his Priti-sandarbha commenting on the Shri Shikshashtaka:
"Budding unblossomed love, priti, in its beginning stages is ullasamayi, primarily ecstatic. This stage is called rati. This type of rati is a symptom of shanta-rasa, the spiritual relish of neutrality. Rati elicits a mood of neglect towards anything that is not connected to Krishna. When ullasamayi rati, attachment characterised by the feelings of extreme exultation, is infused with overvaulting possessiveness (mamata), it then becomes prema, love of Godhead. It is experienced in dasya-rasa, the spiritual relish of servitorship. Upon this development, any cause for ending the relationship disappears. When prema becomes vishvasamayi, affection laced with unflinching trust and faith, it grows to the level of pranaya. At this stage, all the factors that cause the incessant flow of love to be interrupted are removed. These symptoms are the hallmarks of sakhya-rasa, spiritual relish in friendship. In pranaya, reverential awe and worship are absent even in situations where such a mood is seemingly appropriate. When love intoxicates, even making the devotee insolent towards Krishna, causing contrariness to enter the relationship, then the many-faceted loving propensity of pranaya becomes mana. Even the Supreme Lord himself, out of love, exhibits fear in response to the mana of his beloved devotee.
As the heart, filled with prema, reaches a condition where it melts with love, such pure emotion is known as sneha. In the stage of sneha, the ecstatic symptom of tears in the eyes of the beloved afflicts the heart. Although capable of pacifying and satisfying the beloved Lord, fearfully the lover refrains from doing so and succumbing to fright thinks the worst has overcome the relationship with the beloved. When sneha is infused with desire, it becomes raga. In raga, a moment's separation from the beloved is intolerable. Bliss is experienced in union and suffering in separation. However, the pain of separation is also the cause for exultation.
In anuraga, raga constantly fills the heart with ever-fresh emotions towards the beloved and bestows ever-fresh enthusiasm to the relationship. When anuraga blossoms, it spellbinds the lovers in submission to each other, and due to its variety of loving emotions, it even inspires the lover to yearn for birth as an inanimate object if it be dear so to the beloved Lord. The lovers become mutual submissive. The pangs of separation send the lovers into trembling bouts. Amidst the pain of separation, Krishna appears in response. But when anuraga soars to incomparable heights of splendour and wonder, touched with madness, then it is known as mahabhava. In this paramount stage of love, even in the union of the lovers, moments sometimes become unbearable and every aeon is gone like a flash. In separation, every moment stretches to aeons of intolerable pain. In anuraga and mahabhava, the ecstatic symptoms (sattvika bhava) are exhibited unlimitedly and with blinding brilliance."
Further Karika, Explanatory Verses, elucidate
vishaye sac-cid-anande rasa-vistarini mata
praudananda-camatkara-rasah krishne svabhavatah
krishneti namadheyas tu janakarisha-visheshatah
cid-ghanananda-sarvasvam rupam camritam priyam
ananta-guna-sampurno liladhyo gopi- vallabhah
ebhir lingair harih saksad drishyate preshtham atmanah
tena vrindavane ramye tad-vane ramate tu yah
sa dhanyah shuddha-buddho hi kenopanishadam mate
"Love, in this way becomes an unlimited ocean producing endless waves of ecstasy, embodying transcendental pastimes which continuously emanate the ambrosial relish of Krishna, the icon of eternity, absolute knowledge and bliss. By the innate nature of prema, it generates extraordinary sublimely blissful rasa, spiritual relish, for Shri Krishna. The Holy Name of Krishna is the manifestation and embodiment of his all-attractive energy. The form of His Holy Name is the dark complexioned, concentrated form of pure bliss, the ambrosia of immortality and the perennial spring of love. Krishna, the beau of all the exquisite damsels of Vrindavana, is endowed with absolute unlimited compassion that is solely for the benefit of others, and He always remains the boundless reservoir of sublime relish and wonderful pastimes. Krishna, the darling of every entity’s heart, is directly perceived through His manifestation as the Holy Name, His form, qualities and pastimes. That person who enjoys with Krishna in His forest of Vrindavana is, according to the Kena Upanishad, an extremely fortunate and super-intelligent being."
The Karika says
raga-prapteshta-dasye vraja-jana-vihite jayate laulyam addha
vedatita hi bhaktir bhavati tad-anuga krishna- sevaika-rupa
ksipram pritir vishuddha samudayati taya gaura-sikshaiva gudha
"There are five prime limbs in devotional practice: associating with pure devotees, chanting the Holy Name, relishing the Shrimad Bhagavatam, residing in Vrindavana-dhama, and worshipping the Deity. Immense good fortune accrues from offenselessly performing these limbs of devotion, bestowing the immeasurable treasure of the Lord’s causeless mercy. Within the heart, awakens greed (lobha) for the loving service of Shri Krishna following the moods of the eternal residents of Vrindavana. Thus, one enters the brilliant path of raganuga-sadhana-bhakti, which quickly awakens unalloyed love of Godhead. These are the esoteric teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu."