Love Supreme

By Prema-bhakti dasi, originally published in July 2010

Human society is hooked on love. It is this heart-driven force that propels us to move in this world and crosses all socio-economic, cultural, and political strata. Universally, we find ourselves captivated by the promise of love everlasting and all of its romantic accoutrements. There are so many web sites, books, and services to aid in our search for love, but nonetheless we usually end up looking in all the wrong places and way too many faces. Even if we are fortunate enough to find a match, the reality is that our infatuation will wane and our “love” will become dutiful or worse. Even in the best of scenarios one thing is for sure: our love relationships will come to an end.  It is this fact that is readily acknowledged at wedding nuptials with the ominous phrase “until death do us part.”  This truth of non-enduring love is echoed in Gaudiya Vedanta, which posits that humanity’s forceful urge and subsequent search for love harkens back to our spiritual origin and the soul’s inherent quest for love supreme. And it is only in this search for divine love that we will find ultimate and eternal satisfaction.

It is a natural and appropriate conclusion that we would search for enduring love in transcendence. It is Gaudiya siddhanta, however, that informs us that it is the svayam form of God, Sri Krishna, who charmingly corresponds with the highest expression of love, Vraja-bhakti. It is in his human-like form of a cow herder that God becomes most accessible to his devotees. This intimacy and the potential to attain it are at the heart of the Gaudiya Vaishnava theology.

The search for divine intimacy is illuminated by sastra, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is described as the ripened fruit of the Vedas, nigama kalpa taror galitam phalam. (SB 1.1.3) Hearing Krishna lila from sources such as Srimad-Bhagavatam will help our hearts become pure, and thus we can gradually become eligible to enter such sacred territory. It is this point that makes the bhakti-marga, the path where divinity meets humanity, supreme. In this regard, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura writes in his Sarartha Darsini commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.33.36, “By hearing about Krishna’s love dalliances with the gopis, the living entities situated in human bodies (manusam deham asthitah) will become believers in these topics.”  Sanatana Goswami explains in his Vaishnava Tosani, “The words manusam deham asthitah may also indicate that those jivas who have attained the human form of life are able to hear all these pastimes, and thus they become exclusively devoted to the Supreme Lord.” It is this human-like form of godhead and his lila that tug at the heartstrings of humanity and lead us on the path towards enduring love.

As sadhakas, our practice includes hearing Krishna’s pastimes with faith from the proper sources, but this practice must be fueled by saranagati, surrender, the foundational principle on which a metaphorical stage is erected for the divine drama of Krishna lila to eventually unfold. It is in the context of bhakti performed faithfully following guru parampara that our worldly lust will leave the heart, and gradually, prema will develop, as stated in Srimad Bhagavatam In this regard, Visvantha Cakravarti Thakura comments that one who faithfully and continuously hears the glories of Krsna’s lilas is learned (dhirah pandita) for he does not doubt how Krishna prema can appear even if material lust is present in the heart. Visvanatha goes on to establish that such power of prema demonstrates its glorious independent nature.

Vraja-prema is so powerful that it turns those with worldly desires into bhaktas simply by hearing about it. Tasting this prema turned Caitanya Mahaprabhu into a mad man, and ultimately, it is this love that has the force to topple God off his throne and enable us to experience the enduring love that we now move in search of.

  1. Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord’s playful affairs wiith the young gopis of Vrndavana will attain the Lord’s pure devotional service. Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart. []

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3 Responses to Love Supreme

  1. Prema-Bhakti…this is such a sweet, straightforward, and charming post. I think this is exactly the kind of genuinely delicious & concise presentations… perfect for new visitors to the website. Thank you…give us more!

  2. “As sadhakas, our practice includes hearing Krishna’s pastimes with faith from the proper sources”

    What is considered in un-proper source?

    Is it more about listening/reading from un-authorized accounts and texts (heterodox books), or from speakers that have less than pure spiritual purity/intentions?

    What is more ‘potent’; in achieving lasting results towards bhāva? Listening with sincerity, saranagati, or listening from an empowered sadhu?

    “…Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart.” — Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.33.39

    How can one understand that a bhakta “quickly” overcomes lust. What is meant by “quickly”?

    I ask these questions due to past negative experiences in a saṇga, that I still have interesting recollection about, but found that some devotees fell away into something less than pure devotional service while others stay firm in their conviction.

    Thank you.

    • 1. The source must know the theory very well in order to teach it. This knowing is more than intellectual knowing. It involves “taste” for the text, if you will. Sri Rupa explains that in order to reason effectively as to the implications of sastra——to engage ins sastra yukti——requires taste for the subject. Taste for the subject implies lack of taste for the subjects of the world. The Goswami is ultimately speaking about attaining the stages of ruci,asakti,bhava. One in the stage of anistha bhajana kriya is not a proper source in terms of being a recognised teacher, even while he or she may do some good (and possibly also some harm). So here I am speaking about less than spiritual purity.

      2. Both things are required. We see examples of weak teachers and strong students and strong teachers and weak students. Weak seeds can grow with good water and light and strong seeds can grow with poor light and water. But qualified teachers are emphasised more than the sincerity of the students because qualified sadhus can foster sincerity where is is lacking. Whereas sincerity unto itself cannot beget bhakti. But when you speak of saranagati, that is of course a limb of bhakti. Eventually sincerity in the context of saranagati will lead to more qualified guidance, if it is initially lacking. This guidance is essential in consideration of the goal, where it continues to play itself out in lila-seva.

      4. Quickly means more rapidly than through any other method such as jnana and yoga.

      5. Those with more sukriti will continue on.

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