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Chapter 16—The Nature of Divine Love
Shrila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami Inquires
One day Raghunatha dasa Gosvami inquired from Svarupa Damodara, "Please instruct me! Give me some inkling of the nature of divine love. I am unable to fathom the descriptions of love so sublimely sung by Candidasa and Vidyapati.
"I extract only the external mundane meanings of love from their songs, which pertain to feelings of attraction between a man and a woman. How can such emotions be considered spiritual? How can mundane lust be called spiritual love?"
"Lord Chaitanya is always singing these songs and relishing it's mood with you, but I have no access into such intimate exchanges. The Lord has placed me in your hands to be under your spiritual tutelage.Please, therefore, guide me in comprehending these confidential truths."
"Please be gracious and explain to me the concept of spiritual love. With my doubts dispelled, I will remain ever grateful to you."
Svarupa Damodara Gosvami replied, "My dear Raghunatha dasa, I will reveal its esoteric truth to you in a solitary place. Neither Ramananda Raya, Gadadhara Pandita nor I fully comprehend this spiritual truth which the Lord Himself embodies. But if Lord Gaurachandra presides on the tip of my tongue and Himself reveals this highest transcendental truth about Himself by His causeless mercy, then you can be convinced that all that was narrated to you was the actual truth. Raghunatha dasa, you will experience unmitigated bliss upon hearing this.
"Know without a doubt that the songs by Candidasa and Vidyapati; the subject matter of the book Krishna-karnamrta; Ramananda Raya's play are all peerless scriptures. The topics described in them are completely devoid of material lust. They are, in fact, transcendental compositions that contain and foster pure love of Godhead. Descriptions of men and women in these pages are simply used as substitutes. You must perceive their transcendental significance, because one cannot perceive Krishna in mundane literature which deals with erotic lust.
"Whether man or woman, as long as one is attached to the bodily concept of life and interested only in enjoying the senses he or she, will never be able to grasp spiritual truth. The spiritual master who claims to be a representative of Lord Krishna, but does not understand the Lord's pure loving exchanges, is not fit to be in that position. His show of devotion is deceptive. He is in the clutches of maya and is, therefore, an instrument of maya.
Love of Godhead, Krishna
"Spiritual love of Krishna is untainted and pure like the sacred waters of the Ganges. That love is like an unlimited ocean of nectar. The devotee's spiritual attachment for such loving relationships is totally free from the slightest material contamination, like spotless white linen.
"Pure love of Godhead is like an ocean of bliss. If I could have just one drop from there, it could inundate the entire universe. I am so wretched that I am a hundred percent attached to my material body and controlled by lust, so my original form of pure spirit is never manifest. When one is blinded by carnal love and rejects pure spiritual love, then Lord Krishna will never respond to his deceitful approach. But one who sincerely and earnestly implores Krishna for His mercy will certainly be crowned with success.
"The spiritual exchanges and emotions of one experiencing love of Krishna are transcendental; all the symptoms of transcendental loving mellows find expression in his person. The ecstatic symptoms of the conjugal mellow are of the super mundane nature. They are always experienced on the spiritual platform between Krishna and the purely spiritual beings.
"Oh! How fortunate Lilasuka, Bilvamangala Thakura, is! Lord Krishna appeared before him in person and elevated him to relish loving exchanges with Him in the transcendental mood of Vraja-dhama. Lilasuka became detached from the demands of physical pleasure and developed aversion for mundane sentiments. This pleased Krishna very much.
"Vidyapati and Candidasa developed distaste for non-scriptural, spurious 'spiritual' mellows which they had previously accepted as true devotional sentiments.They had imposed mundane concepts on the spiritual exchanges between Krishna and His beloved devotees. By the Lord's mercy they became purified to understand the transcendental mellows. They rejected their immature sentiments and emotions and surrendered themselves to Krishna, always engaging in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
"One who is too engrossed in the pleasures of the flesh never tastes transcendental loving exchanges with Krishna. Even the beautiful form of the boy Krishna playing His flute cannot evoke in him ecstatic emotions and spiritual sentiments. That unfortunate person identified the self with his body and is busy decorating it. When the thunderbolt of death strikes him down, then who knows what his next birth is? —perhaps an insect or worse.
"On the other hand, if one can subdue the urge for material pleasures and develop real taste for loving devotional service at the lotus feet of Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, then he can see the exquisite face of Lord Krishna directly. He swiftly returns to his eternal home to sport in the forests of Goloka in his spiritual body, disassociating himself forever from previous identity and material association.
The sloka composed by Lord Chaitanya
"I have not the slightest tinge of love of Godhead within my heart. When you see Me crying in separation, this merely indicates that I am conceited enough to try and demonstrate My great fortune. Indeed, not having a glimpse of that beautiful face of Krishna playing on His flute, I still continue to live my life like a moth, whose life is without purpose, except, at best, to rush into the flames and die.'
Only the gopis understand transcendental conjugal love
"Everyone is talking about love, love; but who really understands what love is? One who realises spiritual amorous exchanges with the Supreme Lord is truly fit to become a damsel in the bowers of Vrndavana.
"The word piriti, or love, consisting of three syllables, is famous throughout the universe, and whoever is touched by love, becomes totally obsessed by it, oblivious to shame or disrepute of this world.
"Gradually one develops the mood of the gopis, he begins to recollect his original identity in the spiritual world and cuts asunder all material attachments. Lord Krishna becomes the only object of love, and the soul becomes the repository of that love. He approaches the Lord through an intermediary who constantly reminds him of his beloved Krishna. In this way, the conjugal exchanges in the mood of a paramour go on increasing.
"Parakiya-bhava, or conjugal mellows in the relationship of a paramour, is available in Vraja alone. Whereas this same relationship in Vaikuntha is absent between Lord Narayana and Laksmi-devi and is considered immoral.
The 'sahajiyas' mundane sentimental love
"In the material world a man's lust for a woman and vice verse, is misinterpreted as spiritual love by a certain group of people known as sahajiyas.They will surely suffer eternal hell, because they artificially attempt to impose transcendental emotions on a mundane relationship.
"But when the sahajiyas tread the proper path of devotional service and receive the mercy of Lord Krishna,, they become disgusted with this body, the material senses, and the sense pleasures derived from them. They then begin to aspire for the transcendental nectarean mellows of devotional service.
Raya Ramananda's love
"Shri Ramananda Raya's devotional service is pure and simple and strictly follows religious principles. He is perfectly detached from matter and uses everything in the service of the Lord, although he is apparently situated in a physical form.
"His body is spiritual, and he is always serving the Lord in the Vrndavana mood. This is due to the fact that he has received Lord Chaitanya's mercy. He writes and directs plays utilising beautiful actresses, yet he remains unaffected by such intimate contact with women, and he is always transcendentally situated.
"No one other than Shri Ramananda Raya is eligible to teach and understand the subject of divine love. One whose mind is always eager to see, touch, and enjoy a woman is never pure enough to learn the confidential truths of divine love.
Pure devotion is impossible to attain for one who identifies someone as man or woman.
"One can never attain the priceless gift of living devotional service if his consciousness is polluted by association with women or materialistic men who are lusty for the opposite sex. The pleasures of the flesh are invariably transient and can never transport us to the transcendental realm.
"One who acts on the transcendental platform of rendering devotional service in the mood of the damsels of Vrndavana can alone cultivate real spiritual life. Through living in the mood of the gopis of Vraja, he is no longer attracted to the mundane exchanges between man and woman.
One whose external social dealings and conduct are perfect, like a gentleman following the path of true religion who never deviates from scriptural injunction, and internally he intensely cultivates the mood of the gopis of Vrndavana, serving the lotus feet of Lord Krishna with all his heart, is truly eligible for attaining love of Krishna.
"The poem which begins with yah kaumara harah - 'the one who stole my heart in my youth' — is really used as an analogy by Lord Chaitanya. One has to transcend the physical plane, and then the charming Krishna becomes his life's hero, and Krishna's consort becomes the heroine in all Their transcendental pastimes. He then serves Them with the purest love.
Sahajiyas are fit for hell deluded by Kali-yuga
"If someone claims that by some artificial process the spiritual nature can be projected into this material world, that ordinary men can be worshipped as the Supreme Lord Krishna and that by this method the supreme goal can be attained, then he is wrong. According to the instructions of Lord Chaitanya, such a proposition is unacceptable. I know such perverted intelligence will lead to hell.
"One should always avoid the association of those persons who consider that the material body can be artificially spiritualised. To enlighten such a person with Krishna consciousness is almost impossible. This idea has gained prominence due to Kali-yuga's evil influence, but such thinking will certainly lead to the degradation of the pure precepts of the Vaishnava religion.
"A person who has developed mature faith in God will understand the purports of the use of these analogies of material loving affairs, not taking them literally. Such an elevated saint worships the Supreme Lord Krishna in his original, spiritual body. Great spiritual personalities like Candidasa and Vidyapati are perfect examples of liberated souls who discarded their previous misconceptions and cultivated the pure devotional process.
"The highest concept in pure devotional service is The unalloyed worship of the transcendental loving exchanges of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Yet the nature of the mischievous, materialistic mind is to be reluctant to accept these facts. Dear Raghunatha, consider well these points carefully, because you are the devotee who will have to propagate the high standards of proper Vaishnava conduct in the near future.
"Reveal your mind to Lord Chaitanya about your desire to worship the Supreme Lord in this confidential and intimate mood and take His permission to do so. Become steadfast and determined, set your heart on achieving this end."
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami then approached Lord Chaitanya, and he very humbly begged for His permission to execute devotional service in this mood. Lord Chaitanya consented to it in my presence, and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami now serves Lord Krishna with a very satisfied mind.
Lord Chaitanya's instructions to Raghunatha dasa Gosvami
"Do not listen to mundane prattle and do not waste your time in frivolous discussions. Why eat to titillate the palate and maintain the body lavishly with luxurious amenities? Do not hanker for esteem and respect, but offer respects to everyone. Take shelter of the holy name of Krishna and chant constantly. Serve Shrimati Radharani and Shri Krishna in the mood of Vraja in the core of your heart."
The Lord's unequivocal instructions opened Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's eyes of knowledge, and he understood that pure love of Godhead can never be cultivated without first being freed from all material illusions.
Lord Chaitanya continued: "Through pure chanting and in meditation develop your pure, perfected, spiritual form, and worship Krishna, the Lord of Shrimati Radharani. Free yourself from the desire for distinction and adoration. Always offering respect to others, cultivate complete detachment from material life and become as tolerant as a tree.
"Externally, your devotional service is to always chant the name of Lord Krishna, and internally, constantly engage in serving Shri Shri Radha-Krishna with your spiritual body. Control your rapacious palate and give up luxury and comfort. Do only what is essential for maintaining your body."
Markata-vairagya or monkey renunciation
Do not try to artificially impose the transcendence on the mundane by imagining some mortal couple to be the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna. This self-deception destroys all religious principles.
Lord Chaitanya has warned us, "A false renunciant is a person who is externally renounced, but who is actually always trying to enjoy, the material world. He is like a monkey who appears detached due to his natural habits but is excessively attached to sex life.
The pure renunciant
A pure renunciant is always engaged in chanting the holy name. He begs only what he needs to maintain his body. If one practices renunciation, not depending on Krishna but on others for his maintenance, then he will not achieve spiritual success. Krishna will also reject him. and if a renunciant submits to the urges of his tongue, he becomes a prisoner of his sensual urges and loses the chance of achieving the transcendental realm.
A real renunciant is always chanting Lord Krishna's name. His diet is simple, consisting of leafy vegetables, fruits and roots, etc. But a lusty person who makes social calls on people's houses to gratify his tongue will never receive the shelter of Lord Krishna's lotus feet.