The Taste of Ruci

srila-prabhupada-japaLesson one in our classroom series discussing chapter four of Swami Tripurari’s Siksastakam of Sri Caitanya. San Rafael: Mandala, 2005. Swami will be responding to comments and questions while guiding readers through the text. Reader participation is encouraged.

Siksastakam of Sri Caitanya is available here.

Read the full series here.

The venerable Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes that after Mahaprabhu spoke the third verse of his Siksastakam, his humility grew and he prayed for pure devotion.1 Gaura Krishna’s love increased his humility, and his humility increased his love. Kaviraja Mahasaya comments that this is the nature of love: the devotee who has love feels that he or she doesn’t have even a scent of it.((CC. 3.20.28.))

After the heart is cleansed of the principal anarthas and sadhana becomes undeterred, the sadhaka develops a natural liking for nama-sankirtana. What was previously medicine now becomes food. Undeterred (apratihata) devotion becomes unmotivated (ahaituki) as well. This stage is known as ruci (taste), in which the sadhaka becomes attached to devotion itself unadulterated by fruitive desires or the desire for liberation. Thus the sadhaka has no interest in anything other than continued hearing and chanting in pure devotion, suddha-bhakti. The sadhaka’s prayerful attitude begins to turn from submission in pursuit of spiritual emotion to an emotional life of spiritual longing.2

In this fourth verse Mahaprabhu describes ruci in terms of its tatastha-laksana (marginal characteristics) and svarupa-laksana (principal characteristics). Its tatastha-laksana is freedom from ulterior motive, and its svarupa-laksana is attachment to bhakti. Thus it is practically synonymous with suddha-bhakti as defined by Srila Rupa Goswami.3 Sri Rupa explains that suddha-bhakti is characterized marginally as being unencumbered by desire for liberation, worldly achievement, or anything other than the pleasure of Krishna. Its principal characteristic is a spirit of devotion favorable to Krishna.4

Mahaprabhu describes ruci-bhakti’s marginal characteristics when he says that he has no desire for wealth (na dhanam). This means that he has no desire for economic development (artha) and by extension no desire for the wealth of religiosity (dharma).5 When Mahaprabhu says he has no desire for followers (na janam), this includes attachment to husband or wife, children, friends, and the like, on which one spends one’s money for sense enjoyment (kama). Sense enjoyment is also underscored here by the word sundarim, which literally means “beautiful” and thus represents the most formidable sense desire, the desire for companionship. As with artha and dharma, Mahaprabhu says he has no desire for kama (na janam na sundarim). Nor does he have any desire for material knowledge or the arts (kavitam va). All this falls within the realm of karma. As Mahaprabhu has no interest in the realm of karma, similarly he has no interest in the knowledge that leads to liberation from this realm. The word kavitam in this verse can refer either to material knowledge or to knowledge that leads to liberation from material existence. The words janmani janmani refer to freedom from birth and death and therefore indicate moksa, or liberation.

Thus we find the four goals of humanity—dharma, artha, kama, and moksa—represented in this verse. These four values, the so-called four purusarthas, or human (purusa) necessities/ideals (artha), include the entire range of human activities as well as transcendence of the human experience. Gaura Krishna and the sadhaka who has attained the stage of ruci have no desire for any of them.

  1. CC. 3.20.27. []
  2. Sri Jiva Goswami divides prayer into prayers of submission (samprarthanamayi) and prayers of longing (lalasamayi). He writes that prayers of submission belong to sadhana-bhakti and prayers of longing belong to bhavabhakti. Although spiritual longing applies more to bhava-bhakti than to sadhana-bhakti, such prayers are not entirely inappropriate in sadhana-bhakti, especially in the advanced stages of ruci and asakti. []
  3. Thakura Bhaktivinoda has also made this connection between the stage of ruci and attainment of suddha-bhakti. In his Bhakti-tattva-viveka, the Thakura identifies the devotee in the stage of ruci as one who has attained suddha-bhakti, referring to such a devotee as an uttama-adhikari. See the conclusion of Bhakti-tattva-viveka. []
  4. 5 anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtamanukulyena krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama (Brs. 1.1.11) []
  5. Thakura Bhaktivinoda includes the wealth of religiosity (dharma) within dhana. []

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