|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Madhurya Kadambini > 8. Prema Rasa and Pure Love|
8. The Eighth Shower of Nectar
In the Second Chapter we discussed the two leaves of sadhana-bhakti that unfolded from the creeper of devotion. Later, the creeper burgeoned forth flowers of bhava, and now shiny and delicate leaves known as anubhava have unfurled around those flowers. Those leaves are pretty and have been nurtured by hearing and chanting. Every so often the leaves infuse the buds to ripen into the nectarean fruits of prema. What is more wonderful is that the leaves, clusters, flowers, and fruits of the creeper of devotion, even after maturity, do not relinquish their innate nature. They flourish perennially in everfresh ways to lend beauty to the complete creeper.
Prema Inspires the Devotee's Consciousness
Alongside the blossoming
of prema, marvellous changes occur. The devotee's consciousness, previously
entrapped by materialistic attachments for home and family, is now inspired by
prema to disdainfully discard them and set itself free. Just as the touchstone
jewel transforms ordinary objects to, gems by touching them, by its potency
prema also miraculously transforms earthly attachments and makes them shine
with sublime resplendence like its own self. Prema enfolds these attachments
and bathes them in the nectar of the Supreme Lord's transcendental name,
beauty, qualities, and so on.
Rasa Attracts Krishna
Prema has appeared like the radiant sun in the sky to overshadow the dim glow of the four purusartha, or Vedic goals. Prema is relishable only by tasting the rasa flowing from it. The intrinsic nature of this rasa is to inebriate the taster with immeasurable bliss. And the Sakti, or energy, who completely nourishes this rasa is described as one who attracts even Lord Krishna to Herself. Thus when the devotee begins to experience this rasa he does not care for any obstacles or consider anything as a hindrance. He turns into a fearless knight clad in the strongest of armour, confident of his victory at all times. His mind becomes so absorbed like that of an avaricious thief coveting an immense treasure somewhere that devours his every moment and robs him of all reason.
The devotee's eagerness for the Lord is like an insatiable hunger that is still unsatisfied even after being supplied with unlimited varieties and amounts of sweet milk preparations. (The devotee's eagerness, on one hand, is like the burning sun and on the other hand, like the cooling rays of a million moons.)"rhe raw power generated by the quality and degree of eagerness is contrary in nature to its soothing peacefulness. Although it seems impossible for these opposites to coexist in a person, the marvellous ways of prema chooses the pure devotee in whom to manifest this wonder.
The pure devotee thus begins to desire at every moment a direct audience with the Lord. The burning arrow of extreme eagerness lacerates him, it's intensity causing him dissatisfaction despite his exulting in the Supreme Lord's sublime beauty and arnbrosial pastimes. His desire fuels his frustration toward everything in general. Relations with friends, family, and other relatives lose meaning and resemble dried-up wells. His home looms ominously before him like a forest of thorny bushes and to even eat becomes a punishment. Praise pains like the bite from the poisonous fangs of a snake, and his daily chores and duties take on a deathly pallor. He carries the limbs of his body like unbearable weights. His well-wisher's consolations are like cloudbursts of noxious rains. His waking hours drown him in an ocean of repentance, and the rare moments of sleep become an intolerable torment. Living becomes a burden of guilt, a censure from providence. Like scorched paddy, meditations are devoid of substance, and activities, which had earlier given him satisfaction, now lack purpose. Even remembering the Lord's lotus feet becomes an excruciating effort and he feels as if someone was tearing him limb from limb.
Through Prema One can See the Lord
At a later stage prema assumes the character of a strong magnet drawing to itself even Lord Krishna, the all-attractive iron, and one day prema arranges for the pure devotee a direct audience with the Lord. And the Supreme Lord reciprocates by revealing to the pure devotee His intimate., divine, and auspicious attributes such as His ravishing beauty; physical fragrance; melodious voice; everfresh youthfulness; versatile love; magnanimity, and compassion, which the pure devotees directly perceive with their senses. As these attributes are nectarean and dynamic, prema produces in the devotee's heart an ever-increasing, powerful desire to fully relish the Lord's transcendental qualities. The devotee finds himself swimming in an unlimited ocean of bliss that no words can adequately describe.
The exultation of a devotee experiencing prema is likened to traveller who, after painfully traversing the burning desert sand in the middle of summer, finds an oasis cooled by a fresh stream gurgling under the shade of a huge banyan tree. The bliss of prema is further likened to the happiness a wild elephant feels after being trapped for days in a smouldering forest fire and then suddenly drenched in torrential rains; or like a gourmet, who after many days of sickness and being fed medicines and a bland, frugal diet becomes well and is given a feast. Of course, these descriptions offer merely an idea of the devotee's state of joy because it cannot be compared to any material happiness. Material happiness and spiritual happiness are totally different from each other by nature-material happiness is a product of maya-sakti, or the illusory potency, whereas the devotee's bliss directly comes from the Lord's internal spiritual potency, or svarapa-sakti.
How the Lord Reveals Himself to the Prema-bhakta
When prema blossoms, the Lord reveals first His form of matchless beauty to the enraptured devotee. The devotee's senses and mind become one and he beholds with all his senses the Lord's exquisite beauty. At the sight of the Lord's unparalleled beauty, the devotee feels ecstatic symptoms (asta-sattvic vikara) like being paralyzed, quivering, weeping, and so on. These ecstatic symptoms begin to hinder his vision of the Lord; not only that, but the exhilaration renders him unconscious.
Seeing the devotee's condition, the Lord consolingly manifests His second ambrosial attribute-His physical fragrance-which immediately arrests the devotee's sense of smell. Now all the devotee's senses withdraw from the sense of sight and rush to centre on the sense of smell. This overpowers him, and once again intense joy causes him to lose consciousness.
Krishna once again rescues the devotee, and this time the Lord revives him with His melodious voice. The Lord speaks to him saying, “My dear devotee! I am now your captive, fully under your control. Do not be overwhelmed, just perceive Me and fulfil the desire of your heart”. The devotee's senses become surcharged and they seek to hear and absorb the sweet melody of his beloved Lord's voice. Again he is unable to contain his ecstacy and he becomes bereft of consciousness. Then the Lord, full of compassion, embraces the devotee with His body, displaying His fourth nectarean opulence of tender youthfulness To the dasya denotee (mellow of servitorship) He places His lotus feet on his head; to the sakhya devotee (mellow of friendship) He entwines His lotus fingers with his fingers; to the vatsala devotee (parental mellow) the Lord wipes away his tears with His lotus hands; and to the madhuiya devotee (conjugal mellow) He draws him to His chest and wraps His arms around him in a tender embrace. From this we understand that the Lord reciprocates appropriately with the different mellows of each devotee's love.
Just as before, when the devotee swoons in indescribable joy, the Lord shows His fifth opulence, that of versatile loving exchanges. Krishna offers the devotee sublime ambrosia in the form of chewed remnants from His mouth and lips. As the bhakia fully relishes it, his sense of taste becomes satiated. At this stage the Lord appears to His devotee who is now absorbed in the conjugal mellow, and initiates him into a transcendental emotional exchange of intense loving intimacy, long coveted by him. Of course, the Lord never divulges such a confidential mood to any other devotee except one who is in madhurya-rasa (congugal mellow).
Once again the devotee is drawn into an overwhelming mood of divine bliss from this intimate encounter with the Lord, and again he swoons. The Lord's succor to him this time is in the form of showers of audarya, or magnanimity-His sixth transcendental attribute. In this condition the devotee will not respond to any consoling. Audarya in this instance means when all the transcendental attributes of the Lord are at one. time forced onto the devotee's conglomerate senses: sight, hearing, mind. Prema now responds almost as if to the Lord's bidding. It waxes by leaps and bounds, and the devotee's thirst for it increases proportionately. Gradually, like the waxing moon, these transcendental attributes combine together to mature fully. Uncountable like the waves in the ocean of unlimited bliss, a plethora of transcendental pastimes helps prema to stir and shatter the devotee's heart. Prema then installs itself in the devotee's mind as its guardian deity, repairing and rebuilding his inner being. Prema radiates its energy, audarya, in such a way that the devotee is able to relish unhindered all of the Lord's transcendental qualities.
Thus it cannot be refuted that the devotee can taste to his complete satisfaction all the different qualifies of the Lord, nor can it be argued that he relishes full bliss at this stage. This is possible owing to the Lord's wonderful and inconceivable potency that helps the devotee concurrently perceive all of the Lord's attributes with his five senses and the mind. This naturally inspires the devotee beyond imagination.
These transcendental topics are outside the jurisdiction of mundane logic. The Upanishad confirms this: acintydh bhava ye bhava na tamstarkena-yojayeta. “Spiritual subject matter is inconceivable to the mind hence beyond the realm of mundane thoughts and arguments.”
The pure devotee is eager to relish altogether each of the Lord's sublime attributes such as His exquisite beauty. Butjust as a swallow with its beak shut tight is unable to slake its thirst even when it rains, so the devotee isalso helpless on. his own against the Lord's opulences inundating his senses. Seeing the devotee's predicament the Lord thinks, “Is this confusion the purpose of My matchless beauty?” So the Lord offers to the devotee His seventh opulence, compassion. This opulence is the headmistress of all the other attributes. It is she who is enthroned in the corolla of the eight-petalled lotus constituting the eight potencies like Vimala, Utkarsini, and so on, known collectively as svarupa-sakti (the Lord's internal potency).
The Lord's Compassion is the Crown Jewel of His Attributes
This seventh opulence of the Lord is also known as anugraha, or mercy. She manifests herself in the Lord's lotus eyes in varied splendour. To the dasya-bhakta she is compassion, to the vatsalya-bhakta she is filial fondness, and to the madhurya-bhakta she is heart-melting magnetic power. In this way she appears in different loving moods of the devotees.
The Lord's krpa-sakti (mercy potency) induces the all-pervasive iccha-sakti, or independent will, to reach out to the sinful souls and create in them emotional variety (raga). The influence of icchi-sakti fills the great atmaramas or self-satisfied enlightened persons, with wonder and takes them to great heights of spiritual splendour. In fact, it is once again Krishna's krpa-sakti that brings to light the Lord's magnanimous attribute of bakta-vatsalya, or protective feelings and affection towards His surrendered devotees. Mother Earth's speech in the First Canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (SB 1.16.26-29) is very enlightening, and reveals that the Lord's excellences (such as His truthfulness, purity, and so on) are all-auspicious and transcendental, and they act on the directive received from krpa-sakti. Krpa-sakti, the regal queen, directs Krishna's bakta-vatsalya potency. This bhakta-vatsalya potency, in turn, reigns supreme over all the other qualities of the Lord.
The Eighteen Faults
The scriptures have identified eighteen human shortcomings that go against its tenets. They are as follows: illusion, sleepiness, uncivility, lust, greed, madness, envy, cruelty, lamentations, over-endeavour, deceit, anger, desire, fear, mistakes, intolerance, and dependence. The scriptures proclaim that the Lord's qualities are absolutely free from these discrepancies. Occasionally, krpa-sakti arranges the display of some of these discrepancies in the dealings of Krishna, Rama, and so on, and the devotees then perceive them. By the ingenuity of krpa-sakti, however, these same faults are transformed from banality to divine magnificance. They become converted to transcendental excellences embellishing the Lord's personality. In order to delight in the Lord's divine qualities, which the Lord Himself so explicitly exhibits, the enlightened and powerful devotees in the later stage of prema has to constantly and repeatedly relish them. Simultaneously, as these qualities blossom to their fullest possible expression, the devotee's heart floods with wonder, sweeping him to perfection. He relishes that the Lord's bhakta-vatsalya quality (protective love for His devotees) is beyond compare. Again and again he remembers the Lord's magnanimity, melting his heart with sublime emotions, The Supreme Lord acknowledges His devotee's feelings and says to him, “My dear devotee, you have sacrificed wife, children, wealth, and home countless times in many births. You have tolerated such sufferings as the ravages of scorching summers, freezing winters, hunger, thirst, pain, and disease only so you could serve Me as I had asked you to. You have disregarded a million humiliations from others and maintained your life by begging, yet so far I have been unable to reciprocate with you and offer you anything. This makes Me indebted to you. Now tell Me, what can I offer you? Lordship of the entire universe, the position of Lord Brahma, all the mystic opulences, and so on are not befitting, hence how can I offer them to you? Is it becoming of a gentleman to offer grass, straw, and other animal fodder to a human being? Considering all this, I offer Myself to you; although I am unconquerable and indomitable, I am won over by you-I am now your property. I shall simply depend on your gentle disposition.” The Lord's ambrosial words enter the devotee's ears like pearly drops of nectar.
The devotee replies, “My dear Lord! O Supreme Person! You are an ocean of mercy. Seeing me swept away by the swift currents of gross materialism and becoming the helpless prey of the cruel venomous snake of Time, You took pity on me. Your petal-soft heart melted, and to remove my lust and nescience You appeared before me as the most perfect spiritual preceptor. Your appearance is awe-inspiring, like the powerful presence of the Sudarsana Cakra is to His natural energies, You thus rescued me from the horrendous poisonous fangs and grim black coils of the snake of Time.
“Your intention is to elevate me to become Your maidservant so I can serve Your divine lotus feet, and so You have made Yourself available in the form of the most purifying of syllables-Your holy names-which are nondifferent from You. Your holy names enter my ears and alleviate my excruciating pain, allowing me to repeatedly hear, chant, and remember Your transcendental names and pastimes.
“You are reforming me. Although you have kindly placed me in the assembly of Your pure eternal associates and taught the process of surrender to You, I am so flagitious and fallen that I did not serve you even for a moment. I am fit to be severely rebuked for this atrocious act. Yet You spared me and instead made my eyes drink the most sublime vision-that of Your beatific face. And still you say, 'Now I am indebted to you'?
“These words spoken by my beloved Lord have deeply disturbed me. At thisjuncture I am thinking about my next course of action. To ask to be pardoned for the sins of a few lifetimes, nay a million lifetimes, would be audacious on my part. In fact I feel my wicked offences number more than trillions and have been accumulating since time immemorial. I have already suffered some of their consequences and whatever is left, let me face them, for I refuse to beg for them to be absolved.
“Of late, I have deeply realized the gravity of my offences. I have foolishly compared the Supreme Lord's beautiful form and complexion to the billowing monsoon clouds, or to a blushing bluish lotus flower, or even to a sparkling blue sapphire. I have drawn poetic parallels between His exquisite face and the rising full moon, or the splendour of His delicate feet and the tender leaves of spring. These analogies are as amiss as when a scorched mustard seed is compared to a mountain of glittering gold, an ordinary
chickpea to an invaluable touchstone gem, a lowly sly fox to the regal lion, and a miserable mosquito to the awe-inspiring Garuda. I sincerely regret having committed these gross blunders. These were the times when I thought that my glorifications of the Lord were indeed poetic, but in fact I shamelessly paraded my puerile learning for all to see.
“All that is past. From now onward when my eyes behold even for a moment the Lord's sublime loveliness, my words, like an untethered and restless calf, will not distort the truth in a futile attempt to describe His pristine beauty.”
The Lord Reciprocates with His Devotee's Love
These words of endless remorse and lamentation flow freely from the devotee. This pleases the Lord immensely. The Lord reciprocates with the preyasi mood, the mood of a stricken beloved for her lover, which these elevated devotees exhibit. He fulfils their yearnings and immediately manifests Vrindavana, the land immortalized for staging His transcendental pastimes. There the devotee sees Krishna with His most beloved gopi, Shrimati Radharani, daughter of King Vrsabhanu. This maha-yoga pitha is like the wish-fufilling tree. The Divine Couple is surrounded by Lallta-devi and the other girlfriends and maidservants of Radharani. Krishna's friend Subala, and others are also present. Those gopis who consider themselves the Divine Couple's maids-in-attendance and who are completely dependent on the Lord for everything, are gathered around Them. The devotee can see the river Yamuna, Govardhana Hill, Bhandira-vana, and he can also see Nandisvara-giri where Krishna's father and mother Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda-devi are. The devotee sees Krishna's brother, Baladeva and His friends, and Nanda's household servants and maid-servants as well as all the residents of Vrindavana. After revealing to the devotee scenes drenched with superexcellent divine mellows, immersing him in waves of incomparable bliss, Krishna suddenly disappears along with all His associates.
The Symptoms of Prema
Thereafter, the devotee becomes more or less aware of himself and his immediate surroundings. His eyes flutter open and, finding that his beloved Lord is nowhere to be seen, he begins to pine for Him. Unrestrained tears pour down his cheeks in streams. He ponders, “Was I in a dream? No, if it were so I would be still drowsy and my eyes would be sticky from sleep. Then was it all created by someone's mystic powers? That is also not plausible, because the bliss I experienced is not an illusion or something mundane. Maybe it was a hallucination, an error of the mind. That is also not true, otherwise I would feel restless and my heart empty. Could it be all a fabrication of a fertile imagination? No, this experience is beyond the capacity of any imagination. The other possibility is that the Lord's vision may suddenly appear in the mind's eye because of extreme happiness. This is also ruled out because on every previous occasion when I saw the Lord I can remember what they were like, but my present experience is far more unique than those.”
In this way the devotee, assailed by doubts, falls to the ground, rolling in the dust. At times he reverts to constantly entreating the Lord to show Himself again. When the Lord does not appear he is grief-stricken and renews rolling on the ground so vigorously that he causes pain to his body. Finally, the devotee loses consciousness and goes into an ecstatic coma. Some time later he awakes, jumps up, sits down, or weeps incessantly, wailing in a loud voice like a madman. Then suddenly the devotee stops all activities and retreats into a grave silence. On other occasions the afflicted devotee simply neglects all his regular religious and other duties, behaving whimsically and loosely. Again for no apparent reason he begins to speak incoherently like a lunatic. If a devotee friend approaches him with good intentions to pacify him and to make confidential enquiries about his condition, the devotee immediately reveals to his friend everything he has experienced. His friend tries to reason with him saying, “My friend, your immense good fortune has enabled you to directly rneet the Supreme Lord!"
For a while he becomes again calm and composed. Glowing with profound happiness he says, “But alas! Shall I ever behold again His exquisite face?” In the next moment he is plunged into deep despondency and he cries out, “How unfortunate I am! By the grace of a highly enlightened and pure devotee of the Lord I was able to see the Lord's divine and beautiful form. But a mountain of misfortune obstructed me from performing even the slightest devotional service to the Lord. The sudden appearance of the Lord before me was certainly due to some incalculable heaps of piety, but because of immeasurably grievous offences He is now lost from my vision.”
Or the bereft devotee thinks, “Krishna is so merciful that He awarded me His direct audience although I am an insignificant speck floating in an ocean of bad qualities. This is because His mercy is causeless, hence He appeared to me. It is because of some unimaginable good fortune that the boundless ocean was for a few moments in the palm of my hand? But alas! my terrible faults have made this ocean disappear. My ignorance prevents me from discovering what actually happened. The whole experience has dumbfounded me and turned me into a fool. Where can I go? What shall I do? To whom shall I turn to for answers? I feel the world empty and void, absent of any companions, friends, or dear ones; a planet without a sanctuary; a world aflame in a raging forest fire eager to devour me. Under these circumstances, let me go to a secluded place away from crowds so I can meditate on this subject for some time.”
But even a quiet retreat does not bring him tranquillity. He calls out to the Lord, “O my Supreme Master! My beautiful Lord! Your face is like the blossoming lotus. O reservoir of divine nectar, all of Vrndavana is intoxicated. and aroused by the fragrance of Your transcendental body. The swaying garland of wildflowers around Your neck is attracting the honey bees and making them restlessly buzz around it. How can I again have even a moment's glimpse of Your charming face? Only once have I relished the nectar of Your sublime beauty; will it be possible for- me to again taste that delectable ambrosia? I humbly beg You to reveal Yourself to me.”
In this way the devotee laments, sighing, and sometimes rolling in the dust. At times he collapses into an ecstatic state of unconsciousness or suddenly runs hither and thither like a madman. He sees Krishna in every direction and exuberantly laughs, sings, and dances simultaneously. But in the very next moment he breaks down and cries hot tears of remorse. The devotee can thus pass the rest of his life in pursuit of such transcendental symptoms of ecstasy, but never more does he pamper his body. In other words he is unconcerned about his physical wellbeing, feeling it unnecessary to enquire into its needs. After the demise of his body the devotee attains his eternal spiritual form (siddha-deha) and engages in the Lord's service. Factually, the devoteee understands he has reached that siddha-deha stage when he becomes oblivious to his body. He thus thinks, “The Supreme Lord, who is an ocean of compassion, has appeared on my plea, and He will personally engage me in His direct service and take me to His eternal abode.” With this understanding the devotee feels crowned with success.
Sraddha—the First Step to Prema
The scriptures list as follows the different stages of elevation that lead to prema :
1) Sraddha (faith in the words of the guru and the scriptures)
2) Sadhu-sanga (the urge to associate with saintly souls to gain spiritual knowledge)
3) Bhajana-kria (rendering devotional service under the guidance of the guru)
4) Anartha-nivritti (the removal of unwanted desires in the heart)
5) Nishtha (steadiness in devotional service, or using superior intelligence to develop a taste for devotional service)
6) Asakti (single-minded attachment to devotional service, performed by meditating on Lord Krishna's eternal pastimes. These eternal pastimes appear in the devotee's heart spontaneously, by their own will, svarasiki-bhava)
7) Bhava (serving the Lord with spontaneous devotional sentiments)
8) Prema (awakening of love of Godhead).
These systematic levels, beginning with sraddha to prema that Rupa Gosvami proffers in the scriptures are finely presented.
Beyond Prema—the Loftier Regions of Bhakti
Beyond these eight levels, the scriptures describe with precision further stages of advancement in the realm of spiritual realization. If a tree represents bhakti, or true devotional service, these lofty devotional exchanges with the Lord can be described as the mature fruits that ripen on the upper branches of the tree of bhakti. These devotional exchanges are defined as follows:
Sneha (when the heart melts with excessive love)
Mana (extreme sneha that uncovers new, delightful regions of loving exchanges, making the beloved externally behave in a capricious way)
Pranaya (a type of mana that induces the beloved to feel on equal terms with the lover thus bringing about quarrels of love between them)
Raga (conflicting emotions in the beloved-sometimes of unbearable lamentation and sometimes of extreme happiness-while waiting expectantly to meet her lover, Krishna)
Anuraga (love that makes the beloved experience her old lover as if meeting Him for the very first time)
Mahabhava (the highest expression of love with all its diversity and complexity. This is not found in any of the other loving exchanges).
These elevated regions of divine love are inaccessible to a (practitioner). He cannot taste the transcendental fruit. The sadhaka-bhakta is incapable of absorbing and manifesting the tempestuous and contradictory emotions generated by pure spiritual love within himself, therefore details of these topics have been deliberately excluded.
The different symptoms of ruci, asakti, bhava, and prema described in this book are meant to give one the knowledge simply of how to recognize them. Although there are sufficient sastric evidences regarding these subjects they have not been mentioned, because if one bases everything on evidences then this subtle path shown by guru and Krishna Himself may be encumbered by unnecessary and harsh deceptions. Although this section of the book precludes the abstruse, the purpose of this section was not to merely introduce if anyone is insisting on evidences then a few verses from Shrimad Bhagavatam are cited to act as a guide. The following relevant passages from the scriptures are therefore presented as a conclusion to reiterate the main themes of the book:
This verse from Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.27) describes ruci:
tasmims tada labdha-rucer maha-mate
priyasravasy askhalita matir mama
yayaham etat sad-asat sva-mayaya
pasye mayi brahmani kalpitam pare
O great sage, as soon as I got a taste of the Personality of Godhead, my attention to hear of the Lord was unflinching. And as my taste developed, I could realize that it was only in my ignorance that I had accepted gross and subtle coverings, for both the Lord and I are transcendental.
Shrimad-Bhagavatam (3.25.15) gives an example of asakti:
cetah khalv asya bandhaya
muktaye catmano matam
guneshu saktam bandhaya
ratam va pumsi muktaye
The stage in which the consciousness of the living entity is attracted by the three modes of material nature is called conditional life. But when that same consciousness is attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one is situated in the consciousness of liberation.
Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.26) further describes ruci:
tatranvaham krishna-kathah pragayatam
tah sraddhaya me 'nupadam vishrinvatah
priyasravasy anga mamabhavad rucih
O Vyasadeva, in that association and by the mercy of thole great Vedantists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Krishna. And listening attentively, my tast for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step.
This verse describes prema:
napasyam ubhayam mune
O Vyasadeva, at that time, being exceedingly overpowered by feelings of happiness, every part of my body became separately enlivened. Being absorbed in an ocean of ecstasy, I could not see both myself and the Lord.
This verse describes how ruci acts:
tasmin mahan-mukharita madhubhic-caritra-
piyusha-sesha-saritah paritah sravanti
ta ye pibanty avitrisho nripa gadha-karnais
tan na sprisanty asana-trid-bhaya-soka-mohah
My dear king! in that place (where pure devotees live) if one gets a chance to hear their constant flow of nectar which is exactly like the waves of a river, one will forget the necessities of life—hunger thirst—and will become immune to all kinds of fear, lamentation and illusion.
Shrimad Bhagavatam also describes how asakti influences a devotee.
shrinvan su-bhadrani rathanga-paner
janmani karmani ca yani loke
gitani namani tad-arthakani
gayan vilajjo vicared asangah
The transcendental appearance, activities and name of the Supreme Lord, who held up the chariot wheel, must be glorified and heard by wandering saints who have no material attachments.
The following evidence describes how one should perceive rati:
yatha bhramyaty ayo brahman
tatha me bhidyate cetas
O brahmanas! as iron attracted by a magnetic stone Moves automatically toward the magnet, my consciousness having being changed by His will, is attracted by Lord Vishnu who carries a disc in His hand. Thus I have no independence.
The symptoms of prema are described:
jatanurago druta-citta uccaih
hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty
unmada-van nrityati loka-bahyah
The devotee attains the blessed stage of prema vowing to incessantly chant the holy name of His dearmost Lord. The ecstacy of prema melts his heart and he laughs, cries, becomes restless, sings and danceslike a madman, oblivious of everything and everyone around him.
Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.6.33) describes sphurti (momentary vision of the Lord) :
ahuta iva me sighram
darsanam yati cetasi
The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna whose glories and activities are pleasing to hear, at once appears on the seat of my heart, as if called for, as soon as as I begin to chant His holy activities.
Shrimad-Bhagavatam (3.25.35) discusses the direct meetings with the Lord:
pasyanti te me rucirany amba santah
rupani divyani vara-pradani
sakam vacam sprihaniyam vadanti
O My mother, My devotees always see the smiling ace of My form, with eyes like the rising morning sun. They like to see My various transcendental forms, which are all benevolent, and they also talk favourably with Me.
Shrimad-Bhagavatam (3.25.36) describes the condition of the devotee after he sees the Lord face-to-face:
tair darsaniyavayavair udara-
hritatmano hrita-pranams ca bhaktir
anicchato me gatim anvim prayunkte
Upon seeing the charming forms of the Lord, smiling and attractive, and hearing His very pleasing words, the pure devotee almost loses all other consciousness. His senses are freed from all other engagements, and he becomes absorbed in devotional service. Thus in spite of his unwillingness, he attains liberation without separate endeavour.
A Synopsis of this Book
After analyzing these verses the relevant evidences can be clearly ascertained.
The essence of everything discussed in this book can be, presented in summary form. Ahankara, false pride, has two characteristics: ahanta (self-engrossment), and mamata (attachment). By becoming attached to the body and everything related to the body, the jiva is kept enthralled. But by cultivating knowledge these two characteristics of false pride are destroyed, and the jiva becomes liberated.
Prema is defined as the state when the jiva thinks himself a member of the Lord's family and His eternal servant, and he worships only the Supreme Lord and His eternal associates, Meditating in this way, through knowledge of the self (ahanta, the jiva desires to serve the Lord and His eternal associates, and he develops attachment (mamata) for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In truth, prema is indeed transcendental to material entanglement and more rare than liberation. It is described as being the pinnacle of all material and spiritual pursuits-the ultimate destination of all the scriptures.
A synopsis of the salient features of this book follows. it is formatted in a systematic way, tracing the gradual development of different spiritual conditions.
Good fortune transforms the false ego and gross material attachments. These are replaced by self-knowledge and attachment to the ways of a devotee; this consciousness becomes firm, and the devotee thinks, “I shall become a householder Vaishnava and worship only the Supreme Lord.” (Ultimately, the cause of such a conviction is the saintly soul's compassionate nature.)
Now paramarthiki sraddha enters his heart very slightly; he then becomes eligible to begin the process of pure devotional service. Later, by constantly associating with saintly persons his slight paramarthiki sraddha deepens, and bhajana-kriya is initiated. As long as bhajana-kriya remains anishthita. (regulative, not spontaneous) his ahanta and mamata are partially projected onto spiritual activities, but he is still fully aware of the material world.
When bhajana-kriya becomes nishthita, or concentrated and more spontaneous, then mundane engrossment is practically destroyed, and the devotee experiences the profoundity of spiritual consciousness. Ruci (taste) then increases the attachments for internal spiritual development and material life becomes distant and only a matter of utility, rather than of necessity.
This attachment for the spiritual enhances the internal spiritual experiences to an intense level, thus diminishing material experiences to insignificance.
When bhava enters, spirituality is at a stage where devotional sentiments are continuously intense and material phenomena sometimes appears faintly distant and at other times totally non-existent.
Again at the initial stages of bhajana-kriya, meditation on the Supreme Lord is in little flashes and is always intruded upon by material thoughts. In nishthita, the dhyana (meditation) is hardly interrupted. In the stage of ruci the meditation is for longer periods and without external interruptions. In asakti, the meditations are deep and profound, and in the bhava stage the Suprere Lord appears immediately in the meditation. Finally, in prema, exchanges with the Supreme are constant, direct, and personal.
Shri Bhagavatamrta-Kana -
A Drop of Nectar from the Beautiful Bhagavatam
Lord Krishna, the sweet absolute autocrat and the Supreme Personalty of Godhead, is the main subject matter of this book. Krishna's qualities of aisvarya (unsurpassable, unlimited opulence and power) and madhurya (all-attractiveness) eternally reside in Him at their most perfect, surpassing that found in all His other incarnations.
Narayana, the Lord of Vaikuntha, has potencies almost equal to Lord Krishna. He is the Lord's vilasa vigraha, or Lord Krishna's expansion for enacting His pastimes. Other incarnations of the Lord such as Matsya and Kurma are partial expansions of Lord Krishna endowed with slightly lesser potency.
When a living entity, or jiva, is invested with any one of the divine potencies such as jnana (knowledge), bhakti (devotion), and kriya (action) he is known as avesa. For example, Vyasadeva was invested with the bhakti potency, Prithu, Maharaja with the kriya potency, and the four Kumaras with the jnana potency.
The incarnations of the Supreme Lord are of three main categories: purusa avataras (incarnations that are partial expansions), guna-avataras (qualitative incarnations), and lila-avataras (incarnations for performing specific pastimes).
Purusa-avatars are of three types: The first purusa is the creator of the mahat-tattva (the aggregate of the total material energy), and He enters the mahat-tattva as the universal soul. This first purusa is known as Karanarnava-sayi Vishnu (one who lies on the causal, or karana, ocean), and He is the partial expansion of Lord Sankarsana in Vaikuntha. The second purusa, the universal father of all living entities, gives birth to Lord Brahahma. Known as Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, this second purasa is the partial expansion of Pradyumna in Vaikuntha. The third purusa, Kshirodakasayi Vishnu, is the Lord in the heart of every living entity and the partial expansion of Aniruddha in Vaikuntha.
Lord Vishnu maintains this material universe as He rests on the ocean of milk (ksira). The quality of goodness (sattva-guna) also helps maintain this universe. Lord Brahma, the secondary creator, was born from the lotus coming from Lord Garbhodakasayi Vishnu's navel. In certain kalpas (a kalpa is a complete cycle of four yugas), a highly elevated and pious jiva is selected for the position of Lord Brahma, who then creates the world. When the chosen jiva is then invested with special powers he is known as an avesa-avatara. A Lord Brahma of this type still remains in contact with the mode of passion (raja-guna), so he is not considered equal to Lord Vishnu.
In kalpas where there are no living entities pious enough to cake the post of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu Himself chooses to appear as Lord Brahma. For example, in some manvantaras (a tenure of Manu) Lord Vishnu's incarnation of Yajna appears as Lord Indra (the King of the Heavens). So when Yajna appears as Lord Indra and Lord Vishnu accepts the position of Lord Brahma, in such manvantaras and kalpas both Lord Indra and Lord Brahma are nondifferent from Lord Vishnu in every respect.
The vast material universe, including the seven lower planetary systems like Patalaloka, right up to the topmost planet Satyaloka, is described as the gross body of Lord Brahma. (It can also be described as Brahma.) Hiranyagarbha (another name for Lord Brahma that means “full of gold"), is the subtle presence, or the jiva soul, who resides in the gross form of Brahma.
Lord Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, the second purusa-avatara, is present in Hiranyagarbha's heart as the Supersoul. and the Supreme controller. Lord Siva, the lord of destruction, annihilates this material cosmos through the quality of ignorance, or tama-guna. Lord Brahma is the Vairaja purusa (the aggregate of the material world, which is also his gross body) as well as Hiranyagarbha (the total soul of the jiva). Brahma is the creator of the universe, born from the lotus emanating from Lord Vishnu's navel. (Brahma also appears as Lord Siva to conduct the work of annihilation).
In different kalpas, sometimes very elevated jivas or sometimes Lord Vishnu Himself, take up the position of Lord Siva. But the one known as Sadasiva, is beyond the reach of the modes of material nature, or gunas, he is the vilsa expansion of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu. Sadasiva is also the fountainhead of Lord Siva, one of the guna-avataras. Therefore, Sadasiva is superior to Lord Brahma, equal to Lord Vishnu, and superior to and separate from the jivas who are conditioned by the three gunas.
We shall next discuss the lila-avataras. Some examples of the lila-avataras are the four Kumaras, Narada, Varaha, Matsya, Yajna, Nara-Narayana, Kapila, Datta Hayasirsa, Hamsa, Prsnigarbha, Rsabha, Prthu, Nrsirnha, Kurma, Dhanvantari, Mohini, Parasurama, Raghunath, Vyasa, Balabhadra, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki, and so on. Sometimes described as kalpa-avataras, They appear only once in every kalpa.
The fourteen manvantara-avataras as follows are another category of the Lord's incarnations: Yajna, Vibhu, Satyasena, Hari, Vaikuntha, Ajita, Varnana, Sarvabhauma, Rsabha, Visvaksena, Dharmasetu, Sudama, Yogesvara, and Brhadbhanu.
There are four yugas, or millenniums (Satya, Treta, Dvapara, Kali), and the four yuga-avataras are respectively Sukla, Rakta, Syama, and Krishna. Some of the different varieties of avataras (kalpa-avataras, manvantara-avataras, and yuga-avataras) are prabhava incarnations, some vaibhava, and some paravastha, or shad-aisvarya-purna-avataras. Some incarnations in the avesa category are the four Kumaras, Narada, and Prthu, while Mohini, Dhanvantari, Hamsa, Vyasa, Datta, and-Sukla are some of the prabhava-avataras. The vaibhava incarnations display a more superior potency than the prabhavas, and some of Them are listed as follows: Matsya, Kurma, Nara-Narayana, Varaha, Hayasirsa, Prsnigarbha, Balabhadra, and Yajna. Even more powerful are the paravastha-avataras: Nrsimha, Rama, and Krishna who each exhibit more power than the other. Lord Krishna alone is the source of all incarnations and no other incarnation can supersede Him.
Lord Krishna's four residences, dhamas, are given in descending order of potency Vraja, Mathuna, Dvaraka, and Goloka. Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama, and Their family, along with Vrajadharna, are pamatanza (most complete). In Mathura, Krishna and His dhama are purnatara (more complete), and in Goloka, Lord Krishna and His dhama are purna-kalpa (complete excellences). Because the Lord's Goloka pastimes are on the same level as they are in Vrindavana, Krishna in Goloka is purnatama-samajati (similar in substance, but not the same). However, these peerless, varied features are expressed in purnatamarupa (to the fullest extent) in Krishna's Vrindavana pastimes alone. The element of madhurya (loving devotional sentiment) is available in an increasing order respectively in Goloka, Dvaraka, Mathura, and fully in Vrindavana. The Lord's aisvarya-sakti (opulence mixed with awe and reverence) is veiled in proportion to the manifestation of His madhura-lila. Therefore, as madhurya increases, aisvarya decreases to the same degree. So Goloka has more aisvarya and less madhurya; Dvaraka. more madhurya than Goloka and less aisvarya; Mathura more madhurya than Dvaraka and less aisvarya; and Vrindavana manifests full madhurya.
Maha-Vishnu, creating millions of universes, lies on the River Viraja, which is fashioned from the transcendental perspiration of His body. Above the Viraja River lie the vast Vaikuntha planets, the upper region of which is Goloka. Lord Krishna, the Lord of Goloka, resides here, with His associates, performing pastimes saturated with awe, reverence, and opulence. Krishna's vilasa expansion is the Lord of Vaikuntha-Narayana, and Brahman is Krishna's impersonal, formless manifestation. Lord Baladeva is the second vyuha expansion of Krishna. In Vaikuntha, Sankarsana (Lord Narayana, from the second vyuha expansion) the vilasa-avatara of Lord Baladeva, and Karanarnavasayi Maha-Vishnu (Vishnu who lies on the water of the Karana ocean) is Lord Sankarsana's partial expansion. Garbhodakasayi Vishnu is the vilasa-avatara of Maha-Vishnu, as well as the partial expansion of Pradyumna (Lord Narayana's third vyuha expansion). Kshirodakasayi Vishnu is Garbhodakasayi Vishnu's vyuha the partial expansion of Aniruddha (Lord Narayana's fourth vyuha expansion). Incarnations such as Matsya and Kurma are the vilasa forms of Garbhodakasayi Vishnu.
Lord Krishna's three dhamas—Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrindavana differ from each other according to how much the Lord manifests His nara-lila—His earthly, human pastimes—and to what degree of intensity madhurya is manifest. Lord Krishna's nara-lila is of two varieties: prakata (manifest) and aprakata (unmanifest). Performing endless pastimes with His intimate associates, Lord Krishna reveals all the varied moods of different human ages—balya-lila (childhood), pauganda (boyhood), kaisora (puberty), and vilasa (mature amorous love). When these eternal pastimes become unmanifest in the material world they are known as aprakata-lila, but when these same pastimes of the Lord and His associates are manifest in the mundane plane they are described as prakata-lila.
Lord Krishna travels between His different dhamas such as Mathura, Vrindavana, and Dvaraka only in His prakata-lila When the Lord travels we can therefore understand His activities are prakta-lila Krishna's arrivals and departures from the dhamas do not occur in His aprakata-lila. The entire prakata-lila such as His janma-lila (birth) and mausala-lila (the internecine conflict that destroyed Yadu dynasty.) are seen in the innumerable universes in an arranged sequence. In each of these universes exist a Vrndavana, Mathura, and Dvaraka visible to the residents of those planets. The Lord's pastimes may be compared to the sun: The sun is seen during the day in a specific place and time every year, while it yet remains invisible in other areas. Similarly, the Supreme Lord, Krishna, while remaining in His own abode, Vrindavana, reveals His original form in His complete pastimes in one particular universe, but He wishes out of His sweet will to shroud it in other universes.
In prakata-lila, the Lord's boyhood pastimes, for example, are con- tinuous and transcendental, enacted in His original form. But the mausala-lila and the (the pastime of kidnapping the captured queens) are like illusions conjured by magic. We must understand that the reason for exhibiting these two krttim-lila, or make believe pastimes, is to hide the truth that His pastimes are eternal. In Krishna's prakata-lila some of His associates, by His own will, do see gem studded Vrindavana dhama in all its sublime splendour, but others, also by His own will, are not given that vision.
It is worth noting that some very advanced devotees are able to directly view the Lord's pastimes even after He has concluded His Prakata-lila. This is because of their profound devotional involvement, their intense spiritual eagerness, and the divine wishes of the Lord.
In this way, it is established that of all the forms and manifestations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that of Lord Shri Krishna, son of Nanda Maharaja, is paramount, and that amongst His many dhamas Gokula, Vrindavana, is the topmost. Lord Krishna's superlative excellences of prema-madhurya (divine conjugal love), lila-madhurya (transcendental pastimes), venu-madhurya (expertise in playing the flute), and shri vigraha-madhurya (matchless beauty) solely existing in Vrindavana dhama.
The following describes the Lord's devotees. Vaishnavas like Markendeya, Ambarisha, Vasu, Vyasa, Vibhisana, Pundarika
, Bali, Uddhava, Dalbhya, Parasara, Bhisma, and Narada are pure devotees in the true sense. just as the Supreme Personality of Godhead must be served and worshipped, similarly, His be served and worshipped, otherwise one commits grave offences.
Not all pure devotees are on the same level—there are different grades of pure devotees. Prahlada Maharaja is considered the best of the pure devotees. The Pandavas are superior to Prahlada; some of the Yadavas are superior to the Pandavas, and Uddhava. is the best of the Yadavas. Superior to Uddhava are the damsels of Vraja Vrindavana, and Shrimati Radhika is the most brilliant gem amongst them .
This essay, Bhagavatamrta-kana, has been specifically composed for all those readers who have not studied Sanskrit, yet are eager to achieve deep devotion to Lord Krishna. May their devotion blossom like a golden flower embossed with the jewels of spiritual realization.