Humility and Prema
Published on May 22nd, 2014 | by Harmonist staff79
Lesson one in the Harmonist classroom series discussing chapter six 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.
Read the full series here.
As Mahaprabhu was absorbed in rasa, feelings of separation from Krishna erupted and he raved like a madman in anxiety, remorse, and humility.1 His love intensified such that his sthayi-bhava reigned like an emperor over all other attendant bhavas, tasting them, nourishing itself, and immersing him in an ocean of bhakti-rasa. Sri Kaviraja Krishnadasa uses the word rasantaravese to describe Mahaprabhu’s condition—internally absorbed in aesthetic rapture. In doing so he highlights how this verse signals the onset of Mahaprabhu’s prema, for internal absorption in rasa indicates that one has attained prema. As we shall see, prema makes its initial appearance in the dark night of the soul’s unbearable pain of love in separation.
It is difficult to describe the depth of the emotive experience of prema. In Brhad-bhagavatamrta, Narada, while attempting to explain the nature of Radha’s love for Krishna, concludes that prema cannot be fully described. However, if we look to Radha’s dearmost, Sri Rupa, we find a wealth of words on this most esoteric subject. In the beginning of his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Sri Caitanya’s chosen spokesperson defines prema thus: “The wise say that prema is bhava intensified. It softens the heart completely and fosters a sense of possessiveness.”2 Prema’s svarupa-laksana is intensification of bhava, which as we learned from the previous Siksastakam verse is but a ray of the sun of prema. The complete softening of the heart and awakening of the sense that “Krishna is mine” are prema’s tatastha-laksana.
Intensification of bhava transports the devotee from being influenced by Krishna’s svarupa-sakti to being entirely situated within it. This is known as svarupavesa, full absorption in one’s inner spiritual identity, or svarupa-siddhi, the perfection of identifying with one’s svarupa, wherein one experiences the highest happiness. Rupa Goswami writes that this happiness exceeds the happiness of Brahman realization just as an ocean exceeds a mere drop of water.3 Higher than the eternal peace and quietude of brahmananda is the svarupananda of Bhagavan, in which he takes pleasure in his own eternal perfection. Higher still is svarupa-saktyananda, in which Bhagavan’s devotees take pleasure in him. It is this happiness, brought about by the intensification of bhava, that prema-bhaktas taste. Thus Sri Rupa refers to the happiness prema affords as sandrananda-visesatma, a condensation of happiness (sandrananda) experienced by one who is completely enveloped in Sri Krishna’s svarupa-sakti (visesatma).4
This extraordinary spiritual happiness is strengthened by prema’s power to completely charm Sri Krishna, sri-krishnakarsini.5 Only prema has this power to bring Krishna under one’s control. Prema is directed not to Krishna alone but to Krishna along with his entourage. According to Sri Jiva Goswami , this is the significance of the word sri in the phrase sri-krishnakarsini. It refers to his entourage, which is constituted of his svarupa-sakti. As prema captivates Krishna, so too does it captivate his merciful associates. As it does so, it secures the prema-bhaktas’ happiness in svarupa-saktyananda or sandrananda-visesatma.
Thus with the intensification of bhava, the nama-sankirtana that was previously a form of sadhana becomes the sadhya, as bhava becomes prema—prema-sankirtana. Prema-sankirtana is not static but a dynamic, ongoing experience of ever-escalating love that flows like an ocean of nectar, sometimes retreating as the low tide of separation, causing waves of anxiety, and sometimes returning as the high tide of union, causing waves of jubilation.
Although love in separation is a theme that runs throughout Krishna’s Vraja lila, it is highlighted in the case of Radha.6 In his Padyavali compilation of verses, Sri Rupa has placed this seventh stanza of Siksastakam in the context of illustrating Radha’s love in separation from Krishna. In doing so Sri Rupa tells us that from this verse of Siksastakam we can understand that Gaura’s sthayi-bhava is that of a lover—Radha’s love for Krishna. Thus after a six-verse preface, it is here in this verse that Krishna as Gaura begins to actually confess his act of thievery. He tried to steal Radha’s bhava, and just see what difficulty it caused him!
Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami describes Gaura’s prema in separation as being filled with anxiety (udvega), remorse (visada), and humility (dainya). Anxiety is the second of ten conditions of separation experienced by all the inhabitants of Vraja. Thus it is not exclusive to romantic love, or madhurya-rasa, although it is certainly heightened therein. Remorse is a vyabhicari-bhava that serves to augment one’s sthayi-bhava. Humility can also be experienced as a vyabhicari-bhava, but to limit our discussion of it to this particular manifestation of humility will not do justice to its overall importance in relation to prema-bhakti. Sri Sanatana Goswami writes about the relationship between humility and prema in his Brhad-bhagavatamrta:
Wise men define dainya as the state in which one always thinks oneself exceptionally incapable and low, even when endowed with all excellences. An intelligent person should carefully cultivate speech, behavior, and thinking that fix him in utter humility, and anything that stands in the way of it he should avoid. Dainya at its most exalted comes forth when prema, pure love of God, reaches full maturity, as it did in the women of Gokula when they were separated from Krishna. When dainya fully matures, prema unfolds without limit. And so we see dainya and prema acting in a relationship in which each is both cause and effect.7
True spiritual humility is found in those well endowed with spiritual excellences, for the poor are humble only out of circumstance. There is no wealth greater than prema, and when we see humility in those who have it, we witness humility’s full face. Mundane humility can be developed by human effort, but spiritual humility results only from receiving God’s blessing. The gopis exhibited this kind of humility in viraha-bhava, or the ecstasy of love in separation. It is through feelings of love augmented by separation that this intense humility is experienced. Such humility is an integral component of prema, for just as humility fosters prema, prema in turn fosters humility.
- Cc. 3.20.38. [↩]
bhavah sa eva sandratma
budhaih prema nigadyate (Brs. 3.4.1) [↩]
- Brs. 1.1.38. [↩]
- Brs. 1.1.38. [↩]
- Brs. 1.1.41. [↩]
- All of the Vrajavasis experience love in union (yoga) and separation (ayoga). Ayoga is divided into utkantha (anxiety) and viyoga (estrangement). Viyoga is further divided tenfold. [↩]
- Sanatana Goswami, Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta, trans. Gopiparanadhana Dasa (Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 2005), 2.5.222–25. [↩]
“Thus with the intensification of bhava, the nama-sankirtana that was previously a form of sadhana becomes the sadhya, as bhava becomes prema—prema-sankirtana. Prema-sankirtana is not static but a dynamic, ongoing experience of ever-escalating love that flows like an ocean of nectar, sometimes retreating as the low tide of separation, causing waves of anxiety, and sometimes returning as the high tide of union, causing waves of jubilation”.
Maharaja, could you please expound on this point?
Thank you very much.
Samkirtana is both the sadhana (means) and the sadhya (end) and this end is a dynamic “no-end-end.” That is, it is not like attaining Brahman, a static realization of eternal quietude in which there is no transformation, no movement. Its movement is mentioned here in brief: It moves between union and separation. In other words it is full of ongoing transformations of ecstasy. It is full while ever increasing.
Prema sankirtana is the creation of Mahaprabhu, “caitanyera sristi prema sankirtana.” In it we find the full measure of kirtana. It is the wealth of Goloka, “golokera prema dhana hari nama sankirtana.” Kirtana is a limb of bhakti, but the prema sankirtana of Sri Caitanya is unique in this world and unknown in Vaikuntha.
So, there are no Sankirtan parties from Goloka or Navadvip going about Vaikuntha on outreach missions to spread love of Krishna to the residents of Vaikuntha?
There is still plenty of outreach and missionary work to do in Vaikuntha as the higher souls from Goloka distribute the nectar of Sri Krishna Sankirtan to the evolving souls of Vaikuntha who haven’t yet attained Krsnaloka.
Spiritual growth does not stop upon attaining Vaikuntha.
In fact, the Vaikuntha atmosphere is the proper atmosphere for spiritual growth and in fact the Sankirtan in this material world is only a very small fraction of the Sankirtan mission of Mahaprabhu Sri Caitanya which is more expansive in Vaikuntha.
Don’t expect us to take your word for it.
There is no scriptural evidence to support your view that Vaikuntha canvassing for Goloka in Vaikuntha. Read Brihat-bhagavatamrta.There you will find how a rare soul passing through Vaikutha to Goloka evolves. It is not by coming in contact with sankirtana parties. Such would disturb the atmosphere there. Again, this is clearly established in Bb, where Gopa Kumara’s evolving interest in intimate love of God was kept hidden from the residents of Vaikuntha out of deference for their bhava. GK was advised secretly by Narada so as not to disturb the residents. He did not meet any sankirtana parties from Goloka there. Indeed, the residents there are unaware of the Goloka perspective, as confirmed in Cc. Mahaprabhu came to Earth to give something unknown in Vaikuntha. And in this world those pursuing Vaikuntha, such as the Sri and Madhva sampradays, find Mahaprabhu’s sakirtana novel. It was considered a new religion at the time he began his sankirtana.
Maharaja, you are correct. I do not have any scriptural reference to support my previous statement. However, we all know that Caitya-guru can give us insight and understanding of the things that can’t be found in someone else’s book.
We all in fact need to make our own journey as Gopa Kumar did and retrieve our own special gems of knowledge and not always depend on books for our understanding. We have to use book knowledge to learn about finding caitya-guru, but at that point we need to prepare to start receiving information from Him.
I learned from Sridhar Maharaja that “impossible” is a word in a fool’s dictionary. I don’t think that it is impossible that Mahaprabhu has unlimited Sankirtan parties going about Vaikuntha and spreading love of Krishna. It would almost be a shame if he didn’t. If the Vaikuntha residents are not fit for Krsna-bhakti, then how is?
I think for myself Maharaja. I don’t get everything from books. Some of it comes from the heart, though these things are seldom appreciated by others.
The problem I see with you idea in this particular instance is that your insight is in clear contradiction to scriptural accounts as to the nature of Vaikuntha. Nor does it make spiritual sense to me.
Vaikuntha is for reverential love. And that is a wonderful end for many. The dispensation of Mahaprabhu is a rare event through which the doors to Vraja are opened. For whom you ask? For the least qualified. When the highest thing is given to the least qualified you have the full face of magnaminity, and that is what Rupa Goswami means when he says namo maha vadanyaya krsna prema pradaya te—Sri Caitanay is he most magnanimous because he gives Krsna prema (to the jivas on Earth in Kali-yuga); anarpitam carim cirat karunayavatirna kalu . . .
Maharaja, I have given the matter some thought and it comes to me that South India is actually Vaikuntha where the reverential worship of the Lord was going on during the pastimes of Mahaprabhu.
Mahaprabhu’s tour through South India was actually a tour through Vaikuntha. On that tour he converted many devotees to the cult of Krishna prema.
Kurma the brahmana was a Vedic brahmana quite happy in his reverential worship of the Lord, yet Mahaprabhu converted him and many other Vedic followers to Krishna consciousness.
He did that by “disturbing” their Vaikuntha-rasa and revealing the higher rasas in Krishna prema.
Very good, but that is as far as it goes. And we find that during his South Indian Vaikuntha tour he did not convert everyone he met and give them Krsna prema. Those whose bhava was fully developed, prema bhaktas of Vaikuntha if you will, were left to their love, Rama bhatki, etc. So leave it at that, sankirtana in the Vaikuntha of South India. Actually I have done sankirtana there and the reaction from the inhabitants was that they had never seen or heard of such a religious expression, but they seemed to like it. It was a nice place to preach, but most people remained attached to their religion.
I do appreciate your point Maharaja and I understand what you mean. But, should we really ever consider Sri Krishna Sankirtan as a disturbance anywhere? Even in Vaikuntha?
I am not sure I can ever consider Sri Krishna Sankirtan as a disturbance to the Vaikuntha atmosphere. It just doesn’t seem correct to think that performing Sri Krishna Sankirtan in Vaikuntha for the sake of elevating the Vaikuntha-vasis to the higher level of Krishna prema is somehow a disturbance in the Vaikuntha world.
Here is a statement by Srila Prabhupada. It doesn’t prove my point perfectly, but it hints at what I am saying.
(Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 8.60 purport excerpt)
I think the point you have to embrace is that some souls like to worship in awe and reverence and that is perfection for them. They have developed a sthayi bhava for dasya bhakti in relation to Narayana. We see in this world that even given the opportunity for Vraja bhakti some choose Vaikuntha. If Mahaprabhu himself honored that, certainly we should as well. And Narada is no stranger to pushing things forward, yet in Vaikuntha he tutored Gopa Kumar privately about Goloka so as not to disturb the inhabitants bhava. Nor would they even see Krsna prema as promotion if someone tried to tell them it was such. Such is he nature of any particular kind of prema. Everything revolves around it and is seen from its perspective.
The line says “golokera prema-dhana”: Nama sankirtana is the wealth of goloka. It is not Vaikuntha prema-dhana or paravyoma prema-dhana. In Vaikuntha Narayan is offered Vedic prayers. It is only Goloka and Navadvipa that have the sankirtan of Mahaprabhu, and they are not entirely the same either.
I always assumed there was sankirtana or congregational chanting in Vaikuntha, not just the offering of Vedic prayers and hymns. If that’s true, however, Vaikuntha is even less appealing to me now as congregational chanting is one of my all-time favorite types of devotional service!
As KB has quoted, golokera prema dhana hari nama sankirtan. It is the wealth of Goloka, not Vaikuntha.
I am not sure I can ever consider Sri Krishna Sankirtan as a disturbance to the Vaikuntha atmosphere.
Why not? When Mahaprabhu was brought out of his trance he considered the kirtana of Svarupa Damodara a disturbance. In the presence of vatsalya bhaktas the gopis won’t chant openly about their affairs with Krsna because it would be a disturbance. Is it such a stretch then to conclude that kirtan about the supremacy of a different rasa would disturb the Vaikunthavasis? It’s all about the context.
It is not necessarily about proving one rasa as superior to another. It is about spreading the glories of Sri Krsna who manifests special features that Narayana does not exhibit.
I think it is a mistake to think that a devotees gets eternally locked into a rasa without the possibility of advancing on to the next level of love of Godhead.
Is it so conditioned an existence in Vaikuntha that a living being cannot evolve through the higher levels of love of Godhead, but gets locked into a particular rasa?
All living beings in the spiritual world are eternally evolving spiritually.
Spiritual growth does not end upon entering Vaikuntha. The development of love of Krishna is an eternal process. It has no limits. You don’t get to one rasa and stay there eternally. You keep evolving until the highest level is attained in love of Krishna.
Sridhar Maharaja referred to it as a subjective evolution of consciousness. As we get subjected to different stimuli, love of Krishna grows and develops based upon our subjective experience.
That growth, stimulation and development of love of Krishna goes on eternally till the living being attains the highest level of love of Krishna.
Krishna consciousness is the ultimate perfection for the Vaikuntha residents who will eventually get subjected to Krishna-katha and the awakening of Krishna prema.
Ultimately, there is no material world. That is an illusion.
Everywhere is Vaikuntha and therefore the fact that Sri Krishna Sankirtan is going on in Vaikuntha is already an established fact.
We need to move on from a coloring book conception of Vaikuntha and try to get a real understanding.
Living beings in Vaikuntha are progressive. They are not locked into a stagnant stage of existence where there love of Krishna cannot develop.
It would be unreasonable to think otherwise.
Tell that to the cowherds. Your ideas have no foundation is sastra or scriptural reasoning. Every devotee is satisfied with his or her particular rasa and subjectively thinks it is the best, and they are correct! This is the clear teaching of Cc. Therefore they do not see anything to be higher than their own relationship with Krsna/Narayana.
The idea that the material world does not exist and is an illusion is advaitvada, not Gaudiya Vedanta.
Agreed. Yet, they are satisfied with their particular rasa, but in the course of eternity might get exposed to a higher devotee with a higher developed love of Krishna much in the same way that Uddhava was exposed to the mood of the Gopis and thereafter aspired to be born as grass in Vrindavan so as to get the foot dust of the gopis and the opportunity to develop his own love to that next higher level of sacrifice and surrender to Krishna.
Uddhava was not blinded by his own bhava. He could see that the love of the gopis for Krishna was of a higher type than his.
He therefore took a future birth as grass in Vrindavan, got the foot dust of the gopis and developed his love to that standard.
Because we know that as a student of Brihaspati Uddhava was a great brahmana whose word never goes in vain. His desire to take birth as grass in Vrindavan and get the foot dust of the gopis was an invincible brahminical pronouncement.
As far as the Advaita-vada matter concerning matter, I would just like to present a teaching of Srila Prabhupada:
(Srimad Bhagavatam 4.23.29 purport excerpt)
It is a simple concept, though lost on many.
Uddhava never became a gopi, and under scrutiny with the help of the purva acaryas commentaries it is clear that what he actually aspired for was to intensify his own particular attraction for Krsna to the extent that he witnessed such attraction in the gopis. Nowhere is it mentioned that Uddhava took another birth and became a gopi.If he did who would be Krsna’s eternal advisor in Dvaraka? Uddhava is the instrument through which Krsna chose to showcase the measure of the gopi’s love. That is all. The teaching to be derived from Uddhava’s experience is that the gopis love is objectively the most intimate, not that all souls will eventually become gopis, or indeed manjaris of Radha.
The subject (consciousness) evolves and mater (object) does as well, but its evolution is driven by consciousness. So there is a subjective evolution, or an evolution of consciousness going on, but that does not mean that alls souls evolve to taste gopi bhava. All evolve and find their eternal place. Do you think that Ramanuja and his followers will all become gopis? That’s just a silly idea and I think you know that. But you like to argue.
Despite what Prabhupada has written, he has also clearly taught in following the Guadiya siddhanta that there is an objective reality to the bahiranga-sakti and thus the material world. What he is saying is that if you change your consciousness there will be no material world for you for all intents and purposes.
Its a simple concept though lost on a few.
So, Uddhava’s internal aspiration to get the foot dust of the gopis for the sake of developing his prema in the same way is a hope of his that will never be fulfilled?
Was Uddhava just patronizing the gopis or were his words and statements about his internal aspiration just a hollow platitude?
I don’t accept the words of Uddhava as anything less than a sincere realization that he wanted to amp up his prema to the standard of the gopis and was aspiring for their foot dust for that explicit purpose.
I think it is wrong to discard the words of Uddhava as anything less than his true and sincere realization after having associated so closely with the gopis.
It is obvious that Uddhava wanted to develop his love for Krishna in madhurya-rasa after having been given this opportunity by Krishna by delivering a letter to the gopis.
Krishna says in the gita that he has been fulfilling the desires of everyone since time immemorial. There is no reason to think that Uddhavas desire to ascend to madhurya-rasa from his lower rank in sakhya-rasa will go unfulfilled by Sri Krishna.
In fact Uddhava’s wish was an infallible aspiration for advancement in Krishna consciousness.
First of all Uddhava never desired to become a gopi himself. He sang songs in praise of the gopis, offering respect to them namasyann idam jagau . He desired to be blessed by the gopis with the dust of their feet. Thus as a way of showing respect for the gopis and pointing out the exalted nature of their love, despite the fact that they were mere village girls, he said that he desired to take birth as a bush in Vrindavana and be touched by the dust from their feet. Indeed he was careful not to pray while praising them to become a gopi himself—to be equal to the object of his glorification. He merely prayed to be blessed by the gopis, as one should when in association with those higher on the scale of love of God. Again, the purpose of his going to Vrindavana was to showcase the exalted nature of the Vrajvasis love and to learn about it himself. He was specificaly chosen becasue he is a tattvavit, being Krsna’s own personal advisor. The idea being that if he says the gopis love is most exalted, others will listen.
Uddhava returned to Dvaraka and continued his service. He never took up he means to become a gopi, a very specific sadhana. Your argument is baseless and illustrates a basic misunderstanding of the nature of spiritual perfection as explained by the Goswamis and their actual followers. It is an example of apasiddhanta. Those interested in this subject can also read Bb where Uddhava speaks of his experience in Vraja to Narada.
Maharaja, my thinking is based upon the principle of the fluidity of the spirit soul. I don’t believe that any devotee gets locked or frozen into a rasa with Krishna and blinded of the ability to recognize higher types of devotees than himself and aspire to be like them. Such ego is material not spiritual.
The Uddhava we know of from the pastimes of Krishna on Earth 5000 years ago was not the original Uddhava from Goloka. He was just a spiritual being incarnating in Krishna lila on Earth to actualize his present position in love of Krishna. That Uddhava passed away and more than likely took birth as a gopi in another Galaxy on a planet where Krishna is manifesting Earthly pastimes.
Uddhava was not a stagnant soul blind to the super-excellent love of the gopis. When he got their close association his eyes were opened and he realized that their love for Krishna was more sweet and intense and he was wise enough to himself aspire for that perfection.
There are many philosophical problems with your ideas here. I will try to address them later in the day.
You misunderstand what it means to love Krsna or Narayana in a particular sentiment and make it appear to be limiting with terms like “locked in” as opposed to “fluidity.” And where does Krsna explain the nature of the soul to include fluidity in his dissertation on the nature of the atma in the Gita? If there is any blinding in the soul’s attraction to Krsna in a particular sentiment it is the blindness of love. Love is blinding in a positive sense, not a negative one. While devotees may be able to recognize that others are more intimately associated with Krsna then themselves, this requires stepping back form their subjective experience for the sake of outreach and for discussion of siddhanta. But they never aspire to change their own position during such analysis, and furthermore such analysis is in the least uncommon in the lila. Uddhava is an exception and for the specific purpose of clarifying the siddhanta for us. Sri Krsna used him for this purpose.
There is not reason whatsoever to accept your wild speculation that
Indeed, the teaching is that Krsna comes with his eternal associates. Nor would a sadhana siddha enter Krsna lila in a form and sentiment other than the one he or she cultivated during sadhana. It is not that one cultivates one ideal in sadhana and attains it only to develop another ideal. No, all the ideals are available to choose from at the time of sadhana. And that which one cultivates in sadhana is that which one will attain. Furthermore the reason a sadhana siddha takes birth in the earthly lila first is that it is there in the association of the nitya siddhas that he or she will further develop the particular sentiment cultivated during sadhana to the point of being fit to enter the unmnanifest lila.
Maharaja, when I study such teachings of Srila Prabhupada as found in the quote below, I can’t help but persist with my own theory based on such teachings of Srila Prabhupada.
TLC ch. 29 – Pure Love for Krishna
You are misunderstanding what Prabhupaa has said. However, it is easy to see how one might do that from the above paragraph taken out of the context of the entire Ramananda samvada. And the wording in the paragraph lends itself to being misunderstood in terms of what the the siddhanta is and what Prabhupada teaches throughout his books. Nowhere in Ramanada Samvad is it taught that one first attains dasya rasa and then advances to sakhya, etc. But what is taught is that sakhya is successively more complete than dasya, etc.
This is the siddhanta (above) I have been stressing. When Prabhupada goes on to say that first comes brahma-bhuta, etc., he is merely explaining that there is a gradation of possible relationships with Krsna when viewed objectively. First comes brahma-bhuta then the next highest one is dasya . . . and so on. This is also clearly the siddhanta and the clear teaching drawn from Ramananda samvad.
Yes Maharaja, I am quite aware of such interpretation as yours and I have considered it myself, but I think that it is more for the neophytes understanding and not the real truth from the absolute consideration.
Both ideas have been alluded to, but I think the “fixed rasa” concept is for neophytes who want to hear it that way.
Clearly, there is something for both conceptions in these references as quoted.
I think the idea of a fixed and frozen rasa with Krishna is what neophytes want to hear, so the teachings provide that indeed they can have it that way, though in the course of eternity his rasa might evolve to a higher level.
One can certainly stay in whatever rasa he prefers.
But, if a bhakta aspires for higher rasas, Krishna has a process by which that can occur through incarnations at Vrajabhumi.
Just for the record, I am in complete disagreement with you ideas above. And I can support my disagreement all day and night with scriptural references and cross references and sastra-yukti, and I think I have already done that to the satisfaction of the well informed, objective reader. But I will stop here. Best wishes.
I am surprised that you call this understanding neophyte. I thought your interpretation is better for neophytes who speak of their conception as the best and only thing for all souls.
First of all Murari gupta and anuttama were praised by Mahaprabhu for their attachment to Ramachandra and he honored their sentiments. Is it a stretch for us to do the same.
But, as I referred to earlier, Lord Caitanya in fact toured through the Vaikuntha realm of South India where the worship of Lord Narayana in reverential submission was already existing.
Mahaprabhu did not neglect South India where the worship of Vishnu in reverential mood is quite pervasive. He, in fact, made an effort to convert many of them to Krishna-prema and was quite successful especially with Kurma Brahmana and the movement he stirred around his native vicinity.
It is said that the Demigods see the residents of Puri as being four-armed. This is because Puri is in Vaikuntha and the residents there all imperceptibly liberated.
South India, with all the Vishnu temples, Siva temples etc. is most certainly within a Vaikuntha plane.
That did not stop Mahaprabhu from trying to convert them to love of Krishna through Nama-Sankirtan.
Kurma Brahmana was a Vedic Brahmana worshiping Kurmadeva in reverential submission. He was a liberated soul fixed in the Aisvarya rasa, but Mahaprabhu elevated him to the highest plane in Krishna consciousness.
The notion that Mahaprabhu was not trying to convert the Vaikuntha-vasis of South India to Krishna bhakti is quite novel.
South India and Viakuntha are not synonymous in that souls they are pursuing Vaikuntha (some of them) but have not attained it. But I state the obvious.
Regarding the Vedic brahmin Kurma, Sri Krsnadas writes that Mahaprabhu’s instruction to him was typical of the kind of preaching he did in South India:
ataeva ihan kahilan kariya vistara
ei-mata janibe prabhura sarvatra vyavahara
What was that instruction? “Teach the instructions of Krishna (krsna upadesa) to others.” He did not instruct him to forego an orientation towards reverential love of God in favor of Vraja-bhava. So for the most part while in South India Mahaprabhu preached that chanting the name of God in sankirtana is the yuga dharma for Kali-yuga and that such sadhana gives devotional mukti, the prayojana being attainment of Vaikuntha. In other words he taught taraka brahma nama, not paraka brahma nama—getting to the other side of the ocean of material existence, not all that is available there. Indeed, for the most part it is the yuga dharma side of Mahaprabhu we find in South India, not his Radha-bhava.
Maharaja, maybe you can help me understand these verses better, because I seem to be misunderstanding them.
These verses are an example of hyperbole to an extent. We know this because the details of Mahaprabhu’s South Indian tour that follows tell a slightly different tale. For example, the tattvavadis did not give up their ideal after hearing from Mahaprabhu. Their leader accepted that Mahaprabhu’s emphasis on suddha bhakti was correct but concluded ““Still, whatever Madhväcärya has established as the formula for our party we practice as a party policy.” And for that matter they were already worshipers of Krsna.
However, the verses you cite also tell us just what I said in my previous post: Mahaprabhu taught the people of South India the yuga dharma and thus they incorporated the chanting of Krsna nama into their lives and spiritual practice, a spiritual practice aimed at attaining Vaikuntha. After all many devotees chant the name of Krsna to attain Vaikuntha. But such chanting is taraka brahma nama.
This verse speaks to me differently.
To me this says that the name of Krishna as understood in relationship to the two-armed Syamasundara always delivers prema-dana as the highest gift.
Mahaprabhu did not come to distribute Vaikuntha-rasa but Vraja-rasa. Whoever received the Holy Name of Krishna from him will eventually develop ecstatic love of Krishna as stated in the verse above.
There really is not much difference between “taraka” or “baraka” as far as I can see.
Colgne Digital Sanskrit Dictionary
You mean “paraka.” But Cc does make a significant distinction. Gernerally the Hare Krsna mantra is referred to as taraka brahma nama. And it is largely understood in this light in South India, where devotional mukti and attainment of Vaikuntha is the goal of the Vaisnavas. Mahaprabhu has two sides. He is the yuga avatara, and accordingly he preached the yuga dharma of nama kirtana. He also appeared to pursue Radha bhava. When the Hare Krsna mantra is understood in terms of being the great mantra of deliverance (taraka brahma nama), the name Rama in the mantra is most often considered to be a reference to Rama avatara, Rama Ragahava. When it is understood in pursuit of Radha bhava, the name Rama is understood to refer to Ramana, Krsna the lover of Radha.
When Sri Caitanya left for South India he chanted
Krsna Kesava Krsna Kesava Krsna Kesava pahi mam
Rama Raghava Rama Raghava Rama Raghava raksa mam
Thus it is generally considered that Mahaprabhu’s side as the yuga avatara was expressed for the most part in South India. Whereas elsewhere he pursued Radha bhava with his intimate associates. The lesson of his South Indian tour is also that by preaching and doing kirtana to spread the yuga dharma one can qualify oneself for inner contemplation and bhajana. At the same time we do not find the residents of South India doing so, and the inner aspect of Mahaprabhu’s life and its cultivation on the part of his followers is prominent elsewhere. What Mahaprabhu has given is the best means to attain one’s spiritual ideal and at the same time it offers the highest opportunity for those who so desire it. Obviously despite contact with Mahaprabhu, everyone does not desire it. Not the Madhva acarya, not Murari Gupta, not Anupama, not the Rama bhakta in the south that he brought the Kurma Purana to that explained how Sita was not kidnapped by Ravana, etc.
But that is not what the verse says. It is simply differentiating between Rama nama in reference to Rama Raghava and Krsna name in reference to Vrajendranandana Krsna. The former can give devotional mukti and the latter Vraja prema. But Krsna himself says elsewhere that he gives mukti to many but prema to only a few.
Here is the secret Maharaja. We all need to know it. Srila Prabhupada explained it.
The KRISHNA in the Maha-mantra is actually Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the RAMA is actually Lord Nityananda Balarama.
To chant the Maha-mantra without offense, the followers of Mahaprabhu always consider the KRISHNA nama in the Mahamantra as Lord Krishna Chaitanya and the RAMA as Lord Nityananda.
Chanting the Maha-mantra with this understanding as taught by Srila Prabhupada, the Maha-mantra always delivers Vraja-rasa of Vrindavan.
As well, the devotees in South India could understand this so when they chanted Hare Krishna Maha-mantra with this understanding they all effortlessly attained Krishna-prema.
I am quite sure that the flood subsided fairly quickly in South India and then returned to basically the same after some time.
We certainly can see today that the flood of Krishna-prema that swept South India during Mahaprabhu’s pastimes did not persist into modern time, but I am quite sure that many of the South Indian Vaishnavas ascended to Krishna-prema in the magic of Mahaprabhu’s lila in South India.
Because we know that Mahaprabhu was said to have disappeared right in front of everybody after finishing his episode with the Buddhist teacher and his students.
Maybe Mahaprabhu sort of vanished from South India after his pastimes.
However, his work was done and Krishna-prema was distributed to many people.
Well, good luck with your understanding. I hope others have benefited from my understanding of the sastra on this topic.
Your participation was much appreciated, but I am sure you are not interested to belabor the topic any longer.
I apologize for being somewhat of a free-thinker that rebels a little against orthodox framework. I have never been much for formality and orthodoxy and maybe that has lead me to be too much of a Free-thinker.
But, I am a versatile person. I am willing to change my views when presented with solid proof. But, at this point it just seems that it is your interpretation vs. mine and I am not fully convinced.
Let me make one thing clear which I am sure you already know.
I am not a finished professor. I am not even a member of the faculty. Please excuse me if I arrogantly come off as a finished professor who knows all and sees all.
A few months ago I didn’t believe in Christ, but recently found out about the real Christ and now I am a believer.
So, I can change when I am wrong.
You insult me here, but yes of course.
As for your free thinking, rupanuga-viruddha apasiddhanta dhvanta harine. Your main point has been that all souls evolve to gopi bhava. Tell it to Krsna’s mothers, Yasoda and Devaki. Tell it to Sridama-sakha. Tell it to his cows. Tell it to Rukmini. Tell it to Krsnadasa Kaviraja and Rupa Goswami. It’s nice to know that you can admit when you are wrong, but its sad to know that you have such a hard time understanding when you are wrong.
Please excuse my offenses Maharaja.
I mainly depend on Srila Prabhupada for my understanding.
In his books I learned about 35 years ago this simple truth from Srila Prabhupada.
NOD ch. 4 – Devotional Service Passes All Liberation
Again Maharaja, I humbly ask that you please excuse me if I have offended you.
Ok, I forgive you.
In the paragraph you cited Srila Prabhupada is referring to those like Gopa Kumara of Bb who progress through krama vikrama mukti, going step by step such that they experience all the spiritual possibilities along the way to their ideal. Gopa Kumara attained Vaikuntha, and from there his attraction for Krsna took him onward to Ayodhya and then to Goloka, etc. Such an example has already been referenced and explained in this discussion. Gopa Kumara is an example of, not only one who having attained Vaikuntha goes onward from there, but also how that deeper attraction for Krsna is attained and how it plays out in Vaikuntha. As discussed earlier, it is not a result of sankirtana parties canvassing among the servitors of Narayana and secretly selling books in his palace telling devotees to leave him and Vaikuntha to serve Krsna. This was your position. Do not pretend that it was Prabhupada’s position. Nor does the paragraph from his book above validate your other misconception arrived at through “free thinking,” that all souls eventually develop gopi-bhava. Nothing you have cited support these two misconceptions. Your “free thinking” and citing verses, the purport and context to which you either do not understand or mistakenly think supports your points is a road less travelled for sure. One thing it is not is Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta.
So do you really believe that sankirtana parties are preaching in Vaikuntha and recruiting devotees away from Narayana to Krsna and that all souls will eventually develop gopi-bhava? Hanuman as well?
I believe that the quote I posted above by Srila Prabhupada said :
I have never said that it is routine or absolute that a devotee must proceed on to next level. If he is content on his current level, then he is not required to ascend to a higher rasa.
The key word here is “MAY”.
Murari Gupta, the incarnation of Hanuman resisted Maharpabhu’s encouragement to adopt Krishna-bhakti and ascend to Krishna-prema. That however does not cinch the conclusion that a liberated devotee in the spiritual world can never advance to the next level of Krishna-prema.
The philosophy that once you attain siddhi in a particular rasa you are locked into that rasa for eternity flies in the face of infinite possibilities in love of God. I can never buy into such a rigid, orthodox dogma that proclaims that “You had better pick your rasa right the first time, because there is no second chance”
There is not an iota of shastric support for the proposal that the rasa with Krishna has built in limitations that came with our soul since eternity and that we already have a rasa with Krishna that we have forgotten about and it is fixed. That is the old school ISKCON misconception that still lingers today.
Yes, we fell from Goloka, our rasa is fixed and all we need to do is realize that. (bull pucky)
I believe in the concept of infinite possibilities in bhakti-rasa. The gopis are also friends of Krishna. They possess sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa, dasya-rasa and shanta-rasa since madhurya-rasa is the complete and full attainment of all rasas in love of Krishna.
All souls come equipped with the capacity to ascend to the highest rasa. Some get satisfied on lower levels of prema and stay there eternally. I cannot deny that.
Maharaja, I have come to adopt a Quantum Theory in regards to this matter.
In Quantum Physics our discussion can be analyzed in this way.
1. You are right and I am wrong.
2. I am right and you are wrong.
3. We are both right.
4. We are both wrong
5. Winnie the Pooh doesn’t know what to do, has got a honey jar stuck on his nose.
My position is the position that is inferred though not directly stated.
Sure, it is not directly stated in shastra in so many words. It is most certainly inferred though not blatant so as not to confuse the neophytes.
As far as your position, I don’t see that it is directly and explicitly stated in shastra, but again is an extrapolation that comes out of our own preconceived notions that we imbibed as neophytes in ISKCON.
If you can present to us readers a solid shastric statement to prove that Bhakti-rasa is fixed and absolute and cannot be changed, then I would be glad to see it and humbly apologize to your holiness and all the readers of this topic.
The problem is that such shastric evidence does not exist.
If it does, then please share it with us or admit that there are in fact unlimited possibilities in bhakti-rasa and that love of Krishna is eternally on the increase for the pure devotees.
Why would you consider it to be so bad, unspeakable or impossible that a devotee on a lower bhakti-rasa would ever want to ascend to a higher type of Krishna-prema?
Is advancement in Krishna-prema forbidden on Krishnaloka?
You are changing the deck. It is you positions that are in question. You have taken two positions that I have identified. Both of them have been shown to be wrong. Ignoring that, you now take a new position, as of it were your position all along. What is that position? That one’s rasa can change. Then you challenge me to prove otherwise. Nonetheless, if Krsna wants to change one’s rasa, he can. But otherwise one’s sthai-bhava is eternal and permanent.
krsne rati gadha haile ‘prema’-abhidhana
krsna-bhakti-rasera ei ‘sthayi-bhava’-nama
“When affection for Krsna becomes deeper, one attains love of Godhead in devotional service. Such a position is called sthayi-bhava, permanent enjoyment of the mellow of devotional service to Krsna.” (Prabhupada’s transaltion)
By the way, here is what Sri Rupa and Sri Jiva Goswamis say about Uddhava:
And, because it (gopi-bhava) is a form of exalted prema, persons such as Uddhava, dear to the Lord, desire that aspect of it.
Jiva Gosvami’s Commentary
The word iti indicates the reason why kama-rupa-bhakti (gopi-bhava) is well known as prema. Uddhava, by expressing his desire in the following verse, makes that kama-rupa- bhakti famous as prema.
“Among all persons on earth, these cowherd women,
alone, have actually perfected their embodied lives, for
they have achieved the perfection of unalloyed love for
Lord Govinda. Their pure love is hankered after by those
who fear material existence, by great sages, and by ourselves as well. For one who has tasted the narrations of the infinite Lord, what is the use of taking birth as a high class brahmana, or even as Lord Brahma himself?”
The word etam indicates prema similar to theirs, similar to their intense prema, characterized by emotions, by which they identify themselves as conjugal lovers of Govinda. However, it should be understood that he actually did not desire the gopis’ particular type of prema, because such a desire would suggest that he is forcing conformity to the goal of kama-rupa bhakti (gopi-bhava) on the desirers of liberation, the liberated and the devotees. Thus, there would no existence of other sthayi-bhavas such as sakhya or dasya. Uddhava desired the intensity of their prema but not their kama-rupa bhava (gopi-bhava), which causes the intensity. Thus, when Uddhava says, he desires their prema, he does not desire the kama-rupa-bhava (gopi-bhava).
So, as I mentioned earlier you got that wrong, very wrong.
Yes, that means that Uddhava was not gay but was desiring another birth as grass in Vrindavan so as to get the foot dust of the gopis and then get the benefit of that blessing which is madhurya-rasa.
Uddhava’s own words stand on their own.
There is no need to psychoanalyze him and pretend that any other devotee can speak perfectly to express the heart of Uddhava.
The Goswamis did great work.
Unfortunately, an orthodox dogma has been evolved out of their writings that doesn’t do their work justice.
Love of Krishna does not conform to any dogma.
There are unlimited possibilities in Krishna-prema.
Thank you for making your position on the Goswamis clear. I have nothing more to say to you.
‘The KRISHNA in the Maha-mantra is actually Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the RAMA is actually Lord Nityananda Balarama.‘
The closest to this interpretation I have come across is a commentary to the Maha-mantra given in the Pada Kalpataru, although no specific mention of Nityananda Prabhu is made. Still, I’m not dismissing this explanation of Srila Prabhupada’s which you cite, even though from my perusal of the latter’s teachings, it is quite clear that he did not lay much stress upon it by any stretch of the imagination.
However, the other expositions that I am aware of concerning the meaning of the Hare Krsna mantra are those of Srila Jiva Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Gopala Guru Gosvami and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. All of these are invariably oriented toward Radha and Krsna alone, with the exception of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s insight, which focuses on Hari solely. As such, there is no obscure ’secret’ to be unravelled here. Each acarya has his own realisations and individual service in the lila, and an informed reader should and can gauge the relevance of a particular conception, especially as it relates to his own sadhana, based on his knowledge and understanding of the overall teachings of the Sampradaya.
Otherwise, as Tripurari Maharaja says, the general view outside of the Caitanya Vaisnava line is that Rama in this mantra refers to Bhagavan Sri Rama, the son of Maharaja Dasaratha.
Just to revert to a previous point made in this discussion, I’d hold that South India can hardly be equated with Vaikuntha, because though the two oldest Vaishnavite sects find their primary bases of following in that part of the world, Advaita-vada and Saivism are each arguably more influential there than Visistadvaita and Dvaita put together. After all, anyone who has had any dealings with Tamils (I sure have), and/or is cognizant of the main aspects of religious life in Tamil Nadu, knows for certain that Skanda, or Kartikeya, i.e. the son of Lord Siva, is by far the most popular and worshipped deity in the far south of the Indian peninsula. That is so, despite the presence of India’s largest temple complex in that state – one that is a Vaisnava shrine, that of Sri Ranganatha Swami at Sri Rangam, in the town of Trichy.
Thank you, Maharaja, for this explanation. It sure makes much sense.
I rather understand these words as saying that for one who is spiritually advanced the difference between spiritual and material world disappeares since consciousness of such a person is already in spiritual world. But I am not native English speaker…
That’s correct, and neither was Prabhupada and English speaker in the sense that you mean (first language).
“I think it is a mistake to think that a devotees gets eternally locked into a rasa without the possibility of advancing on to the next level of love of Godhead.”
It may be that in extremely rare circumstances that the Lord chooses to change a devotee’s rasa, like for example Syamananda Prabhu. For the most part this is not the case, otherwise the term stayi-bhava would be meaningless: one’s particular way of relating to one’s ista-devata is eternally fixed and one does not want to move from that. Rupa and Sanatana tried to convince Anupama to give up his Rama bhakti and embrace Vraja bhakti but Anupama was unable to do it–he is fixed in that and no amount of knowledge of other rasas can change that.
Yes, what Citta Hari has said is true. Furthermore, there are two sides to the relationship between Bhagavan and his devotee, and just as the devotee does not want to change his sthayi-bhava neither does Bhagavan want let his devotee go from their relationship! Regarding Anupama, Mahaprabhu said “Glorious is that devotee who does not give up his Lord and glorious is that Lord who does not give up his devote.” Jaya Rama.
But even in the case of Syamananda I do not think that it is clear the Syamananda had first developed a sthayi-bhava for sakhya rasa. I believe he was only initiated by a guru in sakhya rasa and expected to develop along these lines.
Fascinating thread! I love reading Swami BV Tripurari’s comments and therefore thank KB das for provoking them!
Note that as opposed to Uddhava, Laxmi actually aspired to become a gopi, and thus she took up a sadhana to attain her goal. Such action is indication of one’s desire. Unfortunately she was unsuccessful. So much for the theory that all souls become gopis.
But that cannot be taken literally because Laxmi isn’t a jiva, she is Visnu-tattva, a svamsa expansion of Radha, therefore it has to be a metaphor. From Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s Vedanta Shymantaka
“Because she is not different from the Supreme Lord, Goddess Laksmi is also all pervading. In the Smrti-sastra it is said:
“Goddess Laksmi is the mother of the worlds. She is the constant companion of Lord Vishnu. As Lord Vishnu is all pervading, so is she.”
To think that Goddess Laksmi is different from Lord Vishnu, but still all-pervading, is a false, a heretical idea. In this way the idea that Goddess Laksmi is an individual spirit soul, like the many millions of other individual spirit souls is refuted. As Lord Vishnu has limitless transcendental qualities, so does Goddess Laksmi.”
Yes but the point of the story is that one cannot become a gopi unless they take up the particular sadhana required.
The only sadhana necessary for following in the footsteps of the gopis is to constantly chant, sing and remember the pastimes of Krsna in Vrindavan.
There is no other sadhana, magic or miracle necessary.
I am quite sure that after associating with the gopis and learning this technique from the gopis that Uddhava utilized that understanding to his utmost benefit and through that process was transformed into a gopi.
The gopis are like touchstones.
Uddhava got touched and was transformed.
Nobody is as deeply absorbed in Krishna as are the gopis.
I am quite sure that he was not transformed into a gopi, and, as I have pointed out, that he never aspired to be a gopi in the first place.
You said that South India was Vaikuntha during Gaura lila, and also you quoted from Prabhupada where he said that the material world doesn’t really exist, that it only exists for people who:
“forgets the service of the Lord and engages himself in the service of his senses, he is said to be living in the material world.”
How would South India be considered Vaikuntha unless everyone was a pure devotee of Narayana? The quote you brought up from Prabhupada seems to state that the “spiritual world” isn’t a place, rather he was stating that the “spiritual world” is subjective, i.e. those people who have spiritual consciousness live in the spiritual world.
What do you think of this quote from Prabhupada ( http://srimadbhagavatam.com/sb/5/23/9/ ):
“The Vaikuntha planets begin 26,200,000 yojanas (209,600,000 miles) above Satyaloka.”
According to that purport the “Vaikuntha planets” would start some 2 billion miles from Earth, which is within our solar system according to modern astronomical calculation (closer to us than Pluto). How is South India, or anywhere on this planet “Vaikuntha” if what Prabhupada said is true?
What we seem to have here are two different conceptions of the “spiritual world.” One describes Vaikuntha pbjectively, as a specific physical place which exists far away from Earth; the other describes the “spiritual world” as a subjective experience of a person, regardless of where that person physically resides.
Maharaja, you said that “bahiranga sakti” is described in Gaudiya siddhanta as an “objective reality and thus the material world.” That is true, but at the same time it is a subjective vision of reality.
Bhaktivinoda Thakure stated in his book Jaiva Dharma that sakti is not a substance, rather it is a quality of a substance. He states that there is only one sakti of Bhagavan, which is categorized as either material or spiritual according to it’s function, e.g. a banana or a piece of marble can be considered either “chit sakti” or “bahiranga sakti” dependent on it’s use or purpose. It’s a subjective vision of a substance which defines it as “spiritual” (cit sakti) or material (bahiranga sakti). There is no physical difference between a banana or a statue of Krsna before and after they are turned into prasadam or a worshipable murti through ritual consecration. But, the marble and banana are no longer considered to be bahiranga sakti after being consecrated, they become chit sakti. Cit sakti is described as the substance of the “spiritual world” and bahiranga sakti as the substance of the “mateiral world.” The physical substance is the same either way, the difference is the subjective vision of a substance by a person. A person free from delusional vision and consciousness (baddha-jiva) is fully engaged in a relationship with Radha-Krsna, and everything in their environment is part of that relationship. They live in the world of cit sakti, where everything they experience is transcendental, part of and controlled by Radha-Krsna. As well as being part of the rasa and bhava they share with Radha-Krsna. Other people may live in the same physical space as them, but because they are under the spell of maha-maya, they live in the world of bahiranga sakti, where they see the world as separate from Radha-Krsna, as mundane.
One can live in the material world in spiritual consciousness. According to Thakura Bhakivinode, The bahiranga-sakti is a distorted manifestation of the svarupa sakti. It is not merely an angle of vision, and any angle of vision, material or spiritual on the part of the jiva-sakti is a result of he influence of either the bahiranga or antaranga saktis.
Let me add to my own comment. The material world is not merely a subjective vision of the materially conditioned jiva. This is a very incorrect reading of BVT. Earth, water, fire air, . . .. all this exists in pradhana before it is activated by consciousness. Matter exists. This is clear from the Gita, etc. Let me also cite the finding of modern science in this regard as well:
“. . . it [matter] exists whether we are conscious of it or not. According to the March issue of the Economist, Kazuhiro Yokota of Osaka University, along with his colleagues, managed to do what had previously been thought impossible: they probed reality without disturbing it. Not disturbing it is the quantum-mechanical equivalent of not really looking. So they were able to demonstrate that the universe does indeed exist even when it is not being observed. (red the entire Harmonsit article “Does Cosnciusness Matter?” here https://harmonist.us/2009/05/does-consciousness-matter/)
In Krsna consciousness I see matter for what it is and thus do not try to exploit it. Another who is not in Krsna consciousness does not see it for what it is and thus looses sight of himself and tries to enjoy it, etc.
Considering the mantra as you’ve written has little to do with chanting offenselessly. Chanting without offense means chanting with no desire other than to please the Lord and with no ulterior motive–anyabhilasita sunyam jnana-karmadi anavrtam anukulyena krsnanusilanam–which is the case regardless of which rasa one ultimately aspires to.
If one considers Rama to refer to Nityananda Balarama then one may cultivate any one of the rasas other than srngara since Baladeva presides over all of them, and sakhya rasa in particular. If one considers Rama to mean, as Swami pointed out above, ramanti, then that is the means of cultivating srngara rasa.
Maharaja, I know you think me confused, but when I read the books of Srila Prabhupada I keep coming up with the same idea.
Clearly, the rasas are stages of evolution of the soul.
KB, I can agree that if one is looking for the conclusion you have reached, Srila Prabhupada’s wording sometimes seems to give some room for that. But that is as far as your case goes. As Maharaja has made clear with far more patience than I understand, your claim goes against numerous other scriptural citations and even rudimentary sastric logic. The progression of rasa is in theory from the tatastha-vicara. In practice there is not such thing.
As a side point, how do you explain those verses wherein the Gopis glorify the sakhas as the most fortunate because they can be arm in arm with Krishna in broad daylight in public? Perhaps after everyone evolves to the stage of a Gopi they begin devolving until they fall into Vaikuntha and eventually back into samsara, and then they start all over again.
And why does everybody not evolve into Radharani?
I already dealt with this section of Cc when you cited Prabhupada’s rendering of it from TLC. There is a progression of intimacy within the rasas. We all know that, but that says nothing about jivas attaining one rasa and then developing another up to gopi-bhava. And you ignored my questions.
Is the purpose of sastra to tell us in complete perfect comprehensive detail what is possible for liberated souls after they have attained the personal association of the Lord? Is that type of information necessary for those souls who have as yet not attained prema?
What is the purpose of sastra? It’s purpose is to give us the tools which we can use to enable us to become free from the conditioned state of consciousness and to transcend our cognitive limitations as baddha-jivas, and to come to realize full enlightenment.
Just like young children will not be allowed to have full knowledge of all aspects of adult life or given full freedom to act according to their desire in order that they can learn what they need to learn in order that higher things can be properly understood, similarly, what conditioned souls are taught in sastra is meant to elevate them to a higher plane of existence where the highest modes of thought and lifestyle can be experienced.
Debating the abilities or prerogatives of liberated prema-bhaktas is not going to gain a true perspective. Their lives are beyond the limited perspective or experience of everyone but them nd God. It’s like debating what the life of Brahma or Siva or Indra is like.Unless you are them you have no frame of reference for that reality.
What sastra tells us about Vaikuntha or Goloka or lila, or even Radha Krishna and the residents of Vraja, has the sole purpose of elevating us to the transcendental plane. It’s not meant as some type of complete picture of the highest reality, or voyeurism, as many bhaktas seem to think. That isn’t the purpose of sastra. It’s purpose is singular. That purpose is to elevate you to the highest level.
In grade school you are given the knowledge of reading and writing, not calculus and physics. You cannot understand the higher subjects until you are qualified by learning the basics of knowledge. Sastra teaches us how to attain the ability to comprehend the highest reality through direct experience. That’s why the descriptions of Vaikuntha or Goloka are the way they are (metaphoric and systematic) They serve a purpose. They teach about bhava and rasa, and they inspire people to try to attain that realm.
Do people in Vaikuntha really have 4 arms? Is the very highest pleasure realm of the all-powerful supreme being simply repetitive simple village life? What the highest reality is like is something which simply cannot be understood in truth by anyone but those who have experienced it. Sastra tells us how to get there. Until you are there you are factually incapable of truly knowing what it is like.
Actually sastra speaks of three things: a conceptual orientation (sambandha); the means or the way to attain what is desirable (abidheya); the goal, the ideal, the very nature of perfection (prayojana). Furthermore the nature of lila is also manifest on Earth.
Although there is more to enlightened life than words and thought can do justice to, sastra has given us the guidelines as to how to think and speak about that more. Sastra yukti is meaningful in this regard, whereas kevala-yukti is not and moreover it is harmful. Thus one can know much about liberated life from sastra and reliable persons with spiritual experience, and while there is more, that more is not something that contradicts that which has been given in sastra. Regarding rasananda, sastra gives us the table of contents. So there is more to the book of spiritual life than this but not something not found in the table of contents. Rasananda is the highest love and love knows no bounds, but nevertheless rasananda manifests within specific paramaters. Fortunately Sri Rupa Goswami has written definitively on the subject for Gaudiya Vaisnavas.
To imply that the subject discussed on this thread is not meaningful to discuss, or that the points raised cannot be decided definitively is a misunderstanding of the truth that there is more to liberated life than the words of sastra can do justice to.
I wasn’t “implying that the subject discussed on this thread is not meaningful to discuss.” It is, to a degree, but we need to be humble enough to understand the limitations of our understanding. I can describe to a person who has been blind from birth what something looks like, but no matter what, the blind person will not truly understand. Regardless of what someone who has no experience of the highest reality may think of it, in truth that person will not be able to understand it as it truly is until it is experienced. Sastra is not for the purpose of voyeurism, it is for the purpose of elevating you to be able to relate with God directly. Whatever you may think of the highest reality is going to be wrong to some degree or another just like what the blind man thinks the world to be like will be wrong to some degree. People may have faith that what sastra says about the highest reality is 100% literal truth, but in reality until they actually experience the highest reality it is impossible for them to know if they are correct or not. So arguing as if you know for a fact what the highest reality is like is simply hubris. I’m not saying you are arguing like that, but I am saying people should consider the lofty reality they are attempting to define sans experience. You may argue what you think the highest reality is like, but until you are there you simply don’t know. That is the truth. Just because sastra says Goloka is like this or that doesn’t mean it is literal truth. Sastra serves a purpose of education, not voyeurism. That education enables you to directly enter into the highest reality, which may be very different from what has been described in order to bring you to the level of consciousness necessary to enter into it. Children are told that Santa Claus is real, that makes them happy. When they get older they realize from experience the truth.
Again, while your point is an obvious truth, I question its application in this instance, at least with regard to the topic being discussed where you have made it. Furthermore, those on the path do have some experience of the nature of the highest reality and that experience, limited as it may be, conforms with sastra. It is not that the sastric description is white and the experience is black.
I am the last person to say that everything described in sastra should be taken literally. At the same time, the sastra of the Goswamis’ is an effort to put into words their experience. Short of one’s own experience, discussions of the highest realm should be with reference to that which has been said about it by persons who have been there. And while they may speak about it in ways that are primarily useful for going there, one is not at liberty to speak about it oneself in other ways without having gone there oneself.
There is a place for making the basic point you rise and I have raised it so myself many times in ways that I believe were conducive to the spiritual advancement of those who were listening, but there is also a place when making such a point will only lead to confusion, speculation, and irreverence for sastra, none of which is useful for one’s spiritual progress.
Well, you and KB have been having this long debate on very esoteric subject matter based upon many literalistic interpretations and therefore false assumptions about the nature of the “spiritual world,” bhava and rasa. The reality of the nature of the attainment of the highest level of God realization is described in metaphoric language in sastra, as is the nature of Vaikuntha, Goloka and lila. Trying to undersstand those truths through too literal of an interpretation of sastra can lead to wasting time and energy in your sadhana, especially if you are attempting to practice raganuga-sadhana. It can lead to false assumptions of how bhava and rasa in the here and now should be cultivated.
I am going to have to disagree. You are either personally experienced and conversant with those truths by dint of your having been given entrance into that reality, or you are not. It isn’t something which is a gradual attainment. The knowledge necessary to enter into the highest reality is gained gradually, but you are completely out until you are completely in. At least to the level of bhava-bhakti wherein Krsna reveals from within his presence and you begin a direct relationship person to person. It’s like having a friend or lover, you don’t gradually have a friend or lover to talk to, you either have one or you don’t.
They’re not putting in their realizations, they are writing what Mahaprabhu wants them to write. They were empowered to present Mahaprabhu’s theology. Pretty much everything about lila written by the Goswamis and other empowered acaryas is metaphor at the higher levels. Anyone who considers themselves as followers of the raga-marga will find it most difficult to advance unless they understand that fact. Neophytes can take it all literally and it is alright for them, but those who want to go deeper need to understand the esoteric nature of those teachings.
I agree. In fact no one can speak about the higher reality with real authority unless they are on that level, or unless they repeat what someone with real authority has told them.
Confusion often comes when unqualified people are left to speculate by taking esoteric teachings too literally. Often they don’t even know they are confused. It seems to be inevitable for most progressive bhaktas unless they are corrected and set straight. After moving beyond the neophyte stage devotees hunger for more intimacy with Radha Krisna, yet I see that almost all of those who seek that intimacy are not attaining it because they believe in so many speculations about the true nature of bhava, rasa and lila due to their inability to properly interpret esoterica. The main problem for them is the idea that everything you read about Krsna-lila should be taken literally. Instead of trying to delve into a real relationship and develop initmacy from within which is the sole aspect of the raga-marga, so often I see them simply get obsessed with the minutiae of lila, obsessed with learning proper rituals and Sanskrit terminology for esoteric concepts, and learning comprehensive Vaishnava history, while considering themselves to be following the raga-marga.
The raga-marga is the path Mahaprabhu mainly taught about, but it was taught using metaphors so that neophytes would also benefit by hearing about Krsna-lila and would advance to the next stage. If you have advanced beyond the neophyte stage and desire to be intimate with God and develop your eternal bhava here and now, you cannot use what is meant for neophytes as the basis for your understanding of sastra and the teachings of Mahaprabhu. It’s perfectly alright for neophytes to hear more advanced teachings, that is how they advance. The warnings about teaching unqualified people Gaudiya esoterica is meant for the general public, not for those who have taken up sadhana-bhakti sincerely.
Not much of a debate really. But you wrongly characterize the discussion above. I at least have been citing the Goswamis opinion on the subjects raised. For example, does Uddhava desire to become a gopi? I have demonstrated that the answer is “no” according to Sri Jiva and Sri Rupa. Are you trying to tell us that their explanation is only metaphorical? The question was whether or not all souls attain gopi-bhava ultimately, and Uddhava was cited as an example. According to the Goswamis the answer is “no.” No on Uddhava (he did not) and no in general, and this was also demonstrated in the text of theirs I cited from Brs. (If one knows how to read it with its reference to the necessity of other sthayi-bhavas and the prohibition against forced kama rupa bhakti). Are these teachings of the most venerable Sri Rupa and Sri Jiva also a metaphor? I will answer that for you. “No.” It’s tattva/siddhanta. From what you are saying we will be deceived by taking the statements of the Goswamis on such points as conclusive, rather they are metaphors. Well if that is what you believe you are not even clear on what a metaphor is. It’s a poetic figure of speech. The Goswamis wrote metaphorically when they described the lila itself, but not when they wrote about the tattva underlying it. You say time is only wasted in such discussions. But the discussion is about what the Goswamis have said on a particular topic. Did they also waste their time writing about such things. Shall we say, “Well they wrote that about Uddhava but we can’t take that literally so let’s interpret it (KB), or better yet let’s not discuss it at all (you)?” Talk about wasting someone’s time.
One’s ista is established at nistha, and the taste that follows from ruci is the basis of the bhava one will cultivate in bhava bhakti. Love of Krsna is the ideal and it is a cultivation that begins in sadhana bhakti. Chanting and hearing are exepressions of that love and when such is one pointed the relationship with one’s ista, one’s pran isvara, has begun. In ruci three spiritual desires appear in the heart of the sadhaka. In asakti attachment for Bhagavan in a particualr relationship awakens. And for that matter, bhava bhakti itself is a developmental stage. Sri Rupa has described bhakti as an ongoing and gradual culture of love of God.
That aside I am driven to wonder if your position stated above is based on one of the so called metaphors you think you read in the Goswami granthas, or if it is based on your having attained bhava, and it is thus something you know by experience?
Mahaprabhu chose them to write because of their realizations. They did not record Mahaprabhu and just repeat his words. Yours is a very odd idea. But overall all you are saying is that their is a higher esoteric meaning to everything they wrote and that one has to understand that. Well sounds like you have understood it. What is it? Or is it just that? That “everything is a metaphor and therefor don’t take it literally.” Is that the higher teaching itself. If so where does that leave one? You are speaking in circles. I would ask you to cite some scripture in support of your position but . . . well as you say, I’d be waisting my time. I think you are right about that. I am not finding this conversation meaningful.
One needs to understand tattva before attaining bhava. First become tattva vit then talk of bhava. As Sri Krsna says in the Gita, aham sarvasva prabhavo . . . prefaces bhajante mam raga bhava samanvitah. And the teaching that Krsna is svayam bhagavan, as pointed out in this verse, is not a metaphor either.
I wasn’t commenting on what you wrote about Uddhava. I was referring to a broader issue, specifically taking what is written on lila too literally as the basis for your raganuga sadhana.
The tattva is full of metaphor at the higher level. Not all of it, but a lot of it. For example the full true nature of the sthayi-bhavas isn’t literally spelled out, it is there though, told through metaphoric language. Take what is written there too literally on sthayi-bhavas and you will misunderstand the true nature of those bhavas. The literal understanding is not the true understanding.
You misunderstood what I wrote. I was referring to the waste of time when you attempt to follow the raga-marga with misconceptions about the nature of bhava, rasa, and lila. This is what I said:
“Trying to undersstand those truths through too literal of an interpretation of sastra can lead to wasting time and energy in your sadhana, especially if you are attempting to practice raganuga-sadhana. It can lead to false assumptions of how bhava and rasa in the here and now should be cultivated.”
Until you reach the stage of bhava-bhakti where Krsna reveals his presence in your mind and begins a relationship with you, you are on a categorically different level of bhakti until then. Before bhava-bhakti you don’t have an actual person to person reciprocal bhava, afterwards you do. You speak with each other and begin your eternal bhava and rasa at that point. Until you reach that stage all of your ideas about lila, bhava and rasa are based on faith alone and may be right or wrong to varying degrees, you have no way of knowing with absolute certainty. When you reach that higher stage the truth of everything is directly revealed to you by Krsna as Paramatma speaking to you. That was the reason I disagreed with you when you said there is no black or white dichotomy between levels of bhakti. There most certainly is. When you are a close confidant and speak with God constantly, then you are categorically in a different state of reality from previous levels of bhakti. In the previous levels you cannot imagine what the higher level is like because it is beyond your frame of reference. It can be described, as I try, but the massive transformation of it simply cannot be fully understood until attainment of that stage.
C.C. Madhya 8.132-3
raya kahe, — “ami — nata, tumi — sutra-dhara
yei mata nacao, taiche cahi nacibara
Sri Ramananda Raya said, “I am just a dancing puppet, and You pull the strings. Whichever way You make me dance, I will dance
mora jihva — vina-yantra, tumi — vina-dhari
tomara mane yei uthe, tahai uccari
“My dear Lord, my tongue is just like a stringed instrument, and You are its player. Therefore I simply vibrate whatever arises in Your mind.”
Ramananda Raya is speaking the absolute truth, it is essential we realize that truth to gain qualification for bhava-bhakti. The ontological nature of Paramatma-Tattva is absolutely essential to understand in order to delve deep into bhava.
I didn’t say the higher metaphoric understanding is simply to know there is a higher esoteric understanding. That makes no sense. I said there is a lot of metaphor in Gaudiya siddhanta and that it is essential to understand it properly to successfully follow the raga-marga. I don’t understand how you can say I’m talking in circles. I haven’t given any examples because that wasn’t part of the discussion yet. If you don’t accept the validity of metaphor in Gaudiya siddhanta then what would be the point of my pointing some out? If you would like sastric citation there is this from Mahaprabhu.
krsna-tulya bhagavata — vibhu, sarvasraya
prati-sloke prati-aksare nana artha kaya
Srimad-Bhagavatam is as great as Krsna, the Supreme Lord and shelter of everything. In each and every verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam and in each and every syllable, there are various meanings.
Also Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said:
Goloka-Vrindavana is realizable in the symbolic Vrindavana that is open to our view in this world by all persons whose Love has been perfected by the mercy of the inhabitants of Transcendental Vraja, and not other-wise. The grossest misunderstanding of the subject of the Vraja Lila of Sri Krishna is inevitable if these considerations are not kept in view.
In the form of the narrative of the Bhagavatam, the Transcendental Vraja Lila manifests its descent to the plane of our mundane vision in the symbolic shapes resembling those of the corresponding mundane events. If we are disposed, for any reason, to underestimate the transcendental symbolism of the narrative of the Bhagavatam we are unable to avoid unfavorable and hasty conclusions regarding the nature of the highest, the most perfect and the most charming form of the loving service of the Divinity to which all other forms of his service are as the avenues of approach.
The problem, or one of them, is that you have introduced another topic altogether. The discussion before you commented was not dealing with descriptions of lila and the question of how literal or non literally such descriptions should be taken with regard to raganuga sadhana. But at the same time you were commenting on the uselessness of the actual discussion. Sound confusing?
So you are saying that the discussion was a waste of time because it was based upon misconceptions about the nature of bhava, rasa and lila, and that such misconceptions arise from taking what the Goswamis have written about them at face value. Please tell us what higher knowledge of the actual non literal meaning is.
Again, please tell us what the true understanding of sthayi-bhava is. Furthermore what is the literal understanding of it given by Sri Rupa that is harmful, since it is so prone to being misunderstood?
Now that sounds like something right out of the Goswamis books: bhava bhakti is different from sadhana bhakti. How do we know that such a literal understanding is not really a metaphor for a higher one? Problem.
The citation of Ramananda Ray you quote is ironically a metaphorical one! And you have taken it literally! Furthermore you have introduced the Paramatma into raga bhakti. As he enters raga bhakti in ruci Mahaprabhu has bid farewell to Paramatma. Ray Ramanada here is speaking metaphorically and by such he is saying that his (Lalita-sakhi’s) realizations that Mahaprabhu came to take advantage of in his pursuit of Radha bhava were in fact coming from Mahaprabhu himself, meaning his earnestness to taste this bhava is the driving force behind Ramanada’s speaking about it, a subject he could find no one else to speak to about it with. Of course on a lower level he is saying that Krsna knows everything and everything really comes from him. And this you have cited to prove that the Goswamis did not share their realizations with us.
Finally, of course there are many levels of meaning in the scripture.
To the webmaster, sorry for the duplicate comments, seems like there was a glitch with my browser. If they didn’t get through let me know.
‘krsna-tulya bhagavata — vibhu, sarvasraya
prati-sloke prati-aksare nana artha kaya
Srimad-Bhagavatam is as great as Krsna, the Supreme Lord and shelter of everything. In each and every verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam and in each and every syllable, there are various meanings.’
What this verse means to me is that there are multiple valid, though maybe superficially contradictory, readings of scripture that are simultaneously possible. Coming from Lord Gauranga Himself, this statement is supremely authoritative, but my reckoning is also that it points to a fundamental principle which ought to be educible as far as any reasonably intelligent person with some knowledge of sastra is concerned.
Your expressed viewpoint all along was that a direct interpretation was necessarily wrong, or off the mark, and that much, if not most of sastra consisted of allegory and metaphor. I certainly don’t construe the above-quoted verse from the Caitanya Caritamrta as indicating or implying this. Rather, there logically should be, and to me, there surely is, room in Vaisnava Vedanta for both mukhya-vrtti and gauna-vrtti. Actually, unduly emphasising the latter at the expense of the former is a lot more the trademark of neo-Advaitins (not even orthodox monists) than that of the theistically-minded.
Evidently, the scriptures do contain a fair amount of poetry and non-literal delineations of truths, and in many instances, it is not too difficult to make out when that is so. The story of King Puranjana is a case in point, as is much of the Fifth Canto of the Bhagavatam. Notwithstanding, sastric pronouncements are in general often multi-faceted, in a manner akin to the nature of reality in fact, and it takes realisation more than anything else to comprehend this and be in a situation where one is able to delve into these mysteries.
Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.33, in the purport by Srila Prabhupada:
“A genuine relation of the living being with the Supreme Lord can take any form out of the five principal rasas, and it does not make any difference in the transcendental degree to the genuine devotee.”