Book excerpts Śrī Bhakti rasāmṛta sindhu bindu Verse 3: Stages Leading to the Appearance of Prema

Verse 3: Stages Leading to the Appearance of Prema

ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-
saṅgo ’tha bhajana-kriyā
tato ’nartha-nivṛttiḥ syāt
tato niṣṭhā rucis tataḥ

athāsaktis tato bhāvas
tataḥ premā bhyudañcati
sādhakanām ayaṁ premṇaḥ
prādurbhāve bhavet kramaḥ

Śrī Bindu-vikāśinī-vṛtti

There are many stages leading to the manifestation of prema. Among them, those which are most famous in the scriptures will be described here. The bhagavad-vimukha-jīva, or one whose face is averted from Bhagavān, has from a time without beginning fallen into the unlimited flow of the insurmountable ocean of material existence and is thus wandering here and there. When by the special mercy of Bhagavān the jīva’s material existence begins to wane, he obtains the association of the Lord’s devotees. At that time, in the company of sādhus, he obtains the extraordinary fortune of hearing from the mouths of elevated devotees the scriptures that are filled with the glories concerning the three topics of bhaktas, bhakti and Bhagavān.

The stages leading to the appearance of prema, as described in the above verses from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.4.15–16), are as follows:

  1. By hearing the śāstras, pāramārthika or transcendental śuddha-śraddhā appears. The word śraddhā here implies firm belief in the meaning of the bhakti-śāstras such as Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and so forth.
  2. Upon the appearance of such śraddhā one again obtains sādhu-saṅga and, in such company, begins to receive instructions regarding the methods for executing bhajana.
  3. Thereafter one takes up the practices of bhajana (bhajana-kriyā) beginning with śrī-guru-padāśraya and so on.
  4. By constant engagement in bhajana, anarthas gradually disappear (anartha-nivṛtti).
  5. This elimination of anarthas takes place in successive stages. As one becomes progressively freed from anarthas he attains niṣṭhā and freedom from all distractions (vikṣepa). At that stage one-pointedness (ekāgratā) characterised by incessant striving arises in the pursuit of bhajana.
  6. Thereafter ruci (taste), or in other words an intense hankering for bhajana, develops.
  7. When ruci becomes very deep it is called āsakti. The difference between niṣṭhā and āsakti is that niṣṭhā involves application of the intelligence, whereas āsakti is spontaneous. In the stage of niṣṭhā, even if the mind is not attracted, by one’s intelligence one remains devoted to the performance of bhajana. However, when one comes to the stage of āsakti, he has no more dependence on any kind of reasoning by the faculty of the intelligence. At that stage he is deeply immersed in the performance of bhajana in a spontaneous manner.
  8. After the stage of āsakti, bhāva makes its appearance.
  9. At the final stage prema manifests. This is the order of the stages leading to the appearance of prema within the heart of the sādhaka.

Comment

To elaborate further on point (4) above, anarthas are of four kinds:

  1. svarūpa-bhrama (illusion about spiritual identity),
  2. asat-tṛṣṇā (thirst for that which is unreal; that is, material enjoyment),
  3. aparādha (offences) and
  4. hṛdaya-daurbalya (weakness of heart).

Svarūpa-bhrama is of four kinds:

  1. sva-tattva- or jīva-svarūpa-bhrama (illusion about one’s own spiritual identity),
  2. para-tattva-bhrama (illusion about the spiritual identity of the supreme absolute truth),
  3. sādhya-sādhana-tattva-bhrama (illusion about sādhana-bhakti, the means of spiritual perfection, and sādhya, the object to be obtained by such sādhana, or in other words prema-bhakti) and
  4. māyā-tattva-bhrama (illusion about the Lord’s external energy, māyā).

Asat-tṛṣṇā is of four types:

  1. varieties of desires for material enjoyment in this world,
  2. desires for enjoyment in the higher planetary systems of Svargaloka,
  3. desires for the attainment of the eight mystic siddhis and the nine divine jewels of Kuvera (padma, mahāpadma, śaṅkha, makara, kacchapa, mukunda, kunda, nīla and kharva) and
  4. the desire for mukti.

Aparādha is of four kinds:

  1. offences towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa,
  2. offences towards kṛṣṇa-nāma,
  3. offences towards kṛṣna-svarūpa (the deity form of the Lord) and
  4. offences towards the tadīya-cit-kaṇa-jīvas (living entities who are infinitesimal particles of spirit belonging to the Lord).

Hṛdaya-daurbalya is of four kinds:

  1. tuccha-āsakti (attachment for useless things),
  2. kūṭī-nāṭī (deceitful behaviour – the word kūṭī-nāṭī may be broken down into the constituent parts , bad or evil, and na or nāṭī, that which is forbidden. In that case it would mean doing wicked deeds or doing that which is forbidden),
  3. mātsarya (envy) and
  4. sva-pratiṣṭhā-lālasā (desire for one’s own fame and prestige).

Aside from the above, there are four additional varieties of anartha:

  1. duṣkṛti-uttha (arising from past sins),
  2. sukṛti-uttha (arising from previous pious activities),
  3. aparādha-uttha (arising from offences) and
  4. bhakti-uttha (arising in relation to bhakti).

(1) Duṣkṛti-uttha: anarthas arising from past sinful activities refer to five types of kleśa or distress, which are

  • (i) avidyā (ignorance or forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa),
  • (ii) asmitā (the false egoism arising from the conceptions of “I” and “mine” in relation to the material body),
  • (iii) rāga (attachment for the objects of sense gratification),
  • (iv) dveṣa (hatred or aversion to unpleasant, disagreeable or adverse situations) and
  • (v) dur-abhiniveśa (attachment for or absorption in sinful activities).

(2) Sukṛti-uttha: various kinds of material enjoyment arising from the pious activities of one’s previous birth.

(3) Aparādha-uttha: suffering arising from nāmāparādha and other types of offences.

(4) Bhakti-uttha: desires for lābha (material gain), pūjā (worship) and pratiṣṭhā (prestige) arising from the performance of sakāma-bhakti or sopādhika-bhakti (conditional devotional service).

One should endeavour to uproot all these anarthas; otherwise niṣṭhā will not develop.

One further point should be clarified in regard to the appearance of prema. In the verse under consideration (ādau śraddhā…), the word ādau refers to the initial contact with devotees (sādhu-saṅga). This sādhu-saṅga is not obtained coincidentally. It is the result of sukṛti, pious activities accumulated over many, many lifetimes.

bhaktis tu bhagavad-bhakta-
saṅgena parijāyate
sat-saṅga-prāpyate pumbhiḥ
sukṛtaiḥ pūrva-sañcitaiḥ

Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa (4.33);
Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (10.279)

Bhakti becomes manifest by the association of the Lord’s devotees. The association of devotees is obtained by previous accumulated piety.

In the scriptures pious activity is called sukṛti, which is of two kinds: that which promotes bhakti and that which instigates some secondary result other than bhakti. Sukṛti that begets ordinary fruits arises from such activities as service to one’s parents or husband, material welfare work, charity, execution of nitya-naimittika-karma (one’s daily and occasional duties), cultivation of sāṅkhya and other types of jñāna, and so on.

Sukṛti that gives rise to transcendental (pāramārthika) results, or in other words bhakti, arises from contact with places such as a temple or holy place, holy times or days, or objects related to bhakti or sādhu-saṅga. When heaps and heaps of sukṛti that yields bhakti accumulate over countless lifetimes, bhakti makes its appearance through the via-medium of sādhu-saṅga.

Laukika or material sukṛti, after producing its desired fruits, is exhausted. The fruits of laukika-sukṛti extend no further than the limit of material enjoyment. Sukṛti that is rooted in brahma-jñāna produces its fruit in the form of mukti and is then dissipated. These two types of sukṛti are thoroughly incompetent to produce the fruit of bhakti.

Sukṛti that yields bhakti arises from association with Vaiṣṇavas; observance of Ekādaśī, Janmāṣṭamī, Gaura-pūrṇimā and other occasions which produce a saintly attitude; seeing or touching tulasī, the temple, Śrī Vṛndāvana and other holy places connected to the Lord, or a holy river like the Gaṅgā or Yamunā; honouring mahā-prasāda; and other such activities. When these activities are performed unknowingly it is called sukṛti. When, however, these activities are performed in the association of devotees and in full knowledge of their greatness, they become limbs of bhakti. In Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.62) it is said:

śraddhā-śabde viśvāsa kahe sudṛḍha niścaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya

Simply by performing bhakti unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa all obligations of this human form of life will be fulfilled. Such firm, decisive faith is called śraddhā.

śraddhā tv anyopāya-varjaṁ bhakty unmukhī citta-vṛtti viśeṣaḥ

Āmnāya-sūtra (57)

That particular disposition of the heart (citta-vṛtti) which remains always inclined towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone, leaving aside all other methods of sādhana such as jñāna, karma and yoga, is called śraddhā.

By the association of saintly devotees, śraddhā, which is the seed of the creeper of devotion (bhakti-latā-bīja), arises in the heart of the sādhaka. This is stated in various places in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta:

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-janma-mūla haya sādhu-saṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janme, teṅho punaḥ mukhya aṅga

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.83)

Sādhu-saṅga is the root cause of kṛṣṇa-bhakti. This sādhu-saṅga waters the creeper of kṛṣṇa-bhakti (sādhana-bhakti) through the medium of śravaṇa and kīrtana and thus transforms it into kṛṣṇa-prema. When kṛṣṇa-prema is awakened, sādhu-saṅga becomes the most essential limb once again.

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 19.151)

While continuously wandering throughout the innumerable material universes, some extremely fortunate jīvas obtain the bhakti-latā-bīja in the form of śraddhā by the causeless mercy of Śrī Śrī Guru and Kṛṣṇa.

kona bhāgye kāro saṁsāra kṣayonmukha haya
sādhu-saṅge tabe kṛṣṇe rati upajaya

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.45)

When the material entanglement of the living entity who is wandering throughout this worldly existence begins to diminish, then he obtains sādhu-saṅga by the causeless mercy of the Lord. By that sādhu-saṅga he obtains kṛṣṇa-bhakti successively in the stages of śraddhā, niṣṭhā, ruci, āsakti and rati.

kṛṣṇa yadi kṛpā kare kona bhāgyavāne
guru-antaryāmi-rūpe śikhāya āpane

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.47)

When Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is an ocean of mercy, becomes causelessly merciful towards some fortunate jīva wandering throughout material existence, then inspiring him from within as the caityaguru and from without as the elevated dīkṣā- and śikṣā-gurus, He personally gives him instructions about how to perform bhajana.

śraddhāvān jana haya bhakti-adhikārī
uttama, madhyama, kaniṣṭha – śraddhā-anusārī

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.64)

Devotees are categorised in accordance with the degree of their śraddhā. Those whose faith is the least are known as kaniṣṭha-bhaktas, those whose faith is intermediate are known as madhyama-bhaktas and those whose faith is highly developed are known as uttama-mahā-bhāgavatas.

sādhu-saṅge kṛṣṇa-bhaktye śraddhā yadi haya
bhakti-phala prema haya, saṁsāra yāya kṣaya

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.49)

When a sādhaka-bhakta obtains faith in the association of soft-hearted and affectionate rasika Vaiṣṇavas who are more advanced than himself, who are thoroughly versed in all the conclusions of the revealed scriptures, and who are of the same disposition (sajātīya), he very quickly obtains prema-bhakti and his material entanglement is easily dissipated.

mahat-kṛpā vinā kona karme bhakti naya
kṛṣṇa-bhakti dūre rahu, saṁsāre nahe kṣaya

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.51)

Without the mercy of elevated devotees, bhakti cannot be obtained by any method. To say nothing of kṛṣṇa-bhakti, one cannot even obtain freedom from material attachment and repeated birth and death.

Sādhu-saṅga is the root of bhagavad-bhakti kṛṣṇa-bhakti-janma-mūla haya sādhu-saṅga (Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.83)). In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.8) the Supreme Lord has said: “yadṛcchayā mat-kathādau jāta-śraddhas tu yaḥ pumān – by virtue of the good fortune of their previous births, those in whom śraddhā is awakened towards My līlā-kathā are eligible to take up bhakti.”

Jīva Gosvāmī, in defining the word yadṛcchayā (voluntarily, spontaneously or by their own will) used in this śloka, has said: “kenāpi parama-svatantra bhagavad-bhakta-saṅga tat-kṛpājāta parama-maṅgalodayena – by the association of the Lord’s supremely independent devotees and as a consequence of the mercy obtained from them, one obtains great fortune (saubhāgya). That saubhāgya itself becomes the eligibility for bhakti.”

The meaning of saubhāgya is that by the contact of sādhus in one’s previous life and by the mercy obtained from them, a very deep impression (saṁskāra) is formed upon the mind or heart. When it is nourished again in the present life, it arises in the form of śraddhā. This śraddhā is the cause of the awakening of bhakti. In this connection it is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.25):

satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati

In the association of pure devotees one hears descriptions of My heroic deeds, which are very pleasing to the ear and the heart. Such descriptions bestow real knowledge of My excellence. By regular hearing and contemplation of such topics one is liberated from ignorance, as a result of which one successively attains śraddhā, rati (bhāva-bhakti) and prema-bhakti towards Me.

According to the above-mentioned conclusion, sādhu-saṅga is the passageway which brings one face to face with the Lord. By the influence of sādhu-saṅga, the living entity who is averted from the Lord becomes turned towards the Lord. Furthermore, by that association, śraddhā, rati and prema arise one after another.

By the association of sādhus whose attention is not incessantly and exclusively drawn upon the Lord, and in whom śraddhā, rati and prema have not arisen, the conditioned soul cannot be turned towards the Lord, nor can śraddhā, rati or prema develop in him. By the association of sādhus who are attached only to the rituals of proper conduct that are in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Vedas, bhagavad-unmukhatā (attentiveness towards the Lord) and śraddhā, rati and prema cannot arise.

Sādhu-saṅga is of two types: the association of siddha-mahāpuruṣas, or perfected souls, who pursue the path of knowledge (jñāna-mārga) and the association of siddha-mahāpuruṣas who pursue the path of bhakti (bhakti-mārga). By the association of jñānīs, śraddhā, rati and prema cannot awaken. Although material attachments may be dissipated by the association of such persons, śraddhā, rati and prema towards the personal form of the Lord do not arise in the jīva. Therefore their association is irrelevant.

Siddha-mahāpuruṣas who pursue the path of bhakti are of three types:

  1. bhagavat-pārṣada-deha-prāpta (those who have obtained perfected spiritual bodies as eternal associates of the Lord),
  2. nirdhūta-kaṣāya (those who have thrown off all material impurities) and
  3. mūrcchita-kaṣāya (those in whom a trace of material contamination still lies dormant).

(1) Bhagavat-pārṣada-deha-prāpta
After giving up the gross material body, those who have perfected themselves through the practice of bhakti obtain sac-cid-ānanda spiritual forms, which are just suitable for the service of the Lord as associates (pārṣadas). Such persons are the best of all uttama-bhāgavatas.

(2) Nirdhūta-kaṣāya
Those who, although still residing within the gross material body made of five elements, have no trace of material desire (vāsanā) nor any material impressions (saṁskāras) within their hearts are called nirdhūta-kaṣāya (those who have thrown off all material impurities). They belong to the intermediate class of uttama-bhāgavatas.

(3) Mūrcchita-kaṣāya
Those siddha-mahāpuruṣas pursuing the path of bhakti in whose hearts there remains a trace of desire (vāsanā) and impressions (saṁskāras) based on the material mode of goodness are known as mūrcchita-kaṣāya. Due to influence of their bhakti-yoga, these desires and impressions remain in a dormant or unconscious state. As soon as there is a favourable opportunity, their worshipful object, Śrī Bhagavān, somehow causes their desire to be consumed and attracts them to His lotus feet. Such elevated souls belong to the preliminary stage (kaniṣṭha) of uttama-bhāgavatas.

Devarṣi Nārada is an example of the topmost uttama-bhāgavata. Śukadeva Gosvāmī belongs to the intermediate stage of uttama-bhāgavatas (nirdhūta-kaṣāya). Śrī Nārada in his previous birth as the son of a maidservant is an example of the preliminary stage of uttama-bhāgavatas (mūrcchita-kaṣāya). The association and mercy of these three kinds of mahā-bhāgavatas is the cause of the production of śraddhā. By discussing the gradations of the bhakti of different categories of devotees, one can automatically understand the gradations of the effect of their association.

Some people think there is no need to take shelter at the lotus feet of a spiritual master. Is there any harm in reading books by oneself and thus performing bhajana? Some persons accept dīkṣā from their mother, father or other relatives, considering that there is no need to take shelter at the lotus feet of a sad-guru. Such persons think as follows: “Some elevated personalities appeared in our dynasty and we are their descendants. Therefore we are already gosvāmīs or mahāpuruṣas. Why should we accept dīkṣā from any other person?” But Śrīman Mahāprabhu has said in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 8.128):

kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei guru haya

Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a śūdra, if he is learned in all the truths regarding Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then he is to be accepted as a guru.

It is also stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.3.21):

tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta
jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ
brahmaṇy-upaśamāśrayam

How can a person who is desirous of knowing what is duty and what is not duty obtain the topmost benefit? In order to understand this, one must approach the lotus feet of a sad-guru. One who is expert in understanding all the conclusions of the revealed scriptures such as the Vedas, who has direct experience and realisation of Bhagavān, and who is not influenced by any kind of material agitation is known as a sad-guru.

The purport of this statement is that only a person who is situated in śuddha-bhakti, who is learned in all the conclusions of the scriptures, whose actions are pure, who is simple and honest, who is free from greed, who is free from deviant conclusions such as māyāvāda, who is expert in all functions related to the service of the Lord, who is free from lethargy, and who is intently devoted to the holy name of the Lord is fit to become a guru. It does not matter what family, race, social classification (varṇa) or stage of life (āśrama) he may be in.

Another consideration is that only a person who is free from lethargy, who is faithful, whose activities are pure, and who is desirous of bhagavad-bhakti is eligible to become a disciple. When the guru considers the disciple fit and when the disciple ascertains the guru to be a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa and thus reposes his faith in him, the spiritual master will then impart instructions unto the disciple.

There are two kinds of guru: the dīkṣā-guru and the śikṣā-guru (the śravaṇa-guru and the śikṣā-guru are here considered as one). One should accept initiation from the dīkṣā-guru and take instructions regarding the process of worship (arcana). There is only one dīkṣā-guru, but there can be many śikṣā-gurus. The śikṣā-guru gives instructions on how to perform bhajana. According to Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and other scriptures, one should not discriminate between the dīkṣā- and śikṣā-guru – there is no difference between them.

The dīkṣā- and śikṣā-guru have been described respectively as bhagavad-rūpa or prakāśa (the external form or feature of the Lord) and bhagavat-svarūpa (the internal identity or form of the Lord). This is clearly mentioned in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. The dīkṣā-guru has been described in the following words:

guru kṛṣṇa-rūpa hana śāstrera pramāṇe
guru-rūpe kṛṣṇa kṛpā karena bhakta-gaṇe

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.45)

According to the evidence of the revealed scriptures, the [dīkṣā-] guru is directly the outward form of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-rūpa). Kṛṣṇa in the form of the spiritual master bestows mercy upon the devotees.

The śikṣā-guru is described as follows:

śikṣā-guruke ta’ jāni kṛṣṇera svarūpa

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.47)

One should know the śikṣā-guru to be the internal form or identity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-svarūpa).

Jagad-guru Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has given an elaborate explanation of these verses in his commentary to Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta.

Comment

There is very little difference between the words rūpa and svarūpa. The word rūpa conveys the sense of form, figure or appearance, whereas the word svarūpa conveys the sense of form, nature or condition. For example Śrī Kṛṣṇa appears very charming as He holds the flute to His lips in His threefold-bending form (tribhaṅga-lalita). This is kṛṣṇa-rūpa. The various moods He expresses as dhīrodātta, dhīra-lalita, dhīra-śānta, dhīroddhata and so on are all kṛṣṇa-svarūpa. In Kṛṣṇa there is no difference between rūpa and svarūpa. There is no difference between His external form and His internal moods. Similarly there is no difference between the dīkṣā- and śikṣā-guru. The dīkṣā-guru reveals Kṛṣṇa’s rūpa and the śikṣā-guru reveals Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa.

Without thoughtful consideration, some people take shelter at the feet of a māyāvādī sannyāsī or a prākṛta-sahajiyā[1] who is a Vaiṣṇava in name only, or a family guru (kula-guru) who is ignorant in the matter of bhajana. Having taken shelter of such persons, they think that they have obtained a genuine spiritual master or sad-guru. They think that there is no need for sādhana-bhajana or for sādhu-saṅga, but this kind of consideration is blind faith. Such a spiritual master simply hinders one’s attainment of prema.

After taking shelter of the lotus feet of a sad-guru and performing bhajana in a regular way, the disciple should discern whether or not his anarthas are going away. One can consult the book named Mādhurya-kādambinī written by the same author, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, for a detailed description of anarthas and the method to obtain freedom from them. Those who perform bhajana but make no endeavour to become free from anarthas cannot make any advancement in bhajana. Only by performing bhajana in accordance with the appropriate methods can the sādhaka make steady progress beginning from śraddhā and culminating in one’s desired goal of prema.

[1] A prākṛta-sahajiyā is one who abandons the fundamental procedures of sādhana and imitates the symptoms of advanced devotees by a material display.

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Part 1-WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP WITH VRAJA RASA?

Krsna thought, “My sadhaka may engage in spiritual practice for many millions of lifetimes, and after that he may be able to achieve perfection by taking birth in Vraja or getting the qualification to stay in Vraja. However, if he does not make a relationship with Vraja-rasa and the Vrajavasis, then he will not be able to understand Me or come near Me.” Bhagavan Himself decided to distribute this rasa through rasa-lila. Krsna was dancing, singing, playing on His flute and meeting with everyone and by this He gave rasa. PARAMATMA HELPS THE SADHAKA The Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead is present within the hearts of all living entities as Paramatma. But the Lord does not reveal His form as Paramatma, nor does He manifest His qualities and names, He is always neutral and peaceful. He is present everywhere in a neutral manner. When the practitioner begins his spiritual practice, he will gradually understand Paramatma and Visnu-tattva, ‘the indwelling witness in the heart’. Paramatma’s primary function will be to help the sadhaka make spiritual progress. If someone worships the ‘para-vasta’ avatars such as Rama, Narayana, Nrsinghadeva or Krsna, then Paramatma will personally help them progress towards their ultimate attainment. The Lord Himself will come, and through ‘rasa’, will fulfill and satisfy them, making them effulgent. He fully decorates the sadhaka, giving them all eligibility for His service. BUMBLEBEES PARTICIPATE IN THE RASA DANCE In Vrindavan the Lord Himself initiated the rasa dance. ‘Kamala’, lotus flowers, were decorating the hair and ears of the Gopis. Their braided hair was swinging back and forth and the faces of the Gopis were beautifully decorated with flowers. When Krsna was dancing in the rasa-mandala, the Gopis ankle bells were chiming, and as Krsna was beautifully dancing, so were the Gopis. Even the bumblebees were singing so sweetly, wanting to participate in the symphony of music of the rasa dance. In Vrindavan the bumblebees drink nectar from the various flowers, and when they saw the wonderful dancing of Krsna and the Gopis, they also wanted to sing and dance. They think, “I will also participate in this wonderful symphony of music.” Even though the bumblebees seem to be without rational thought, still they became maddened by the nectar of the rasa dance and wanted to participate. Sridhara Swami explains that the bumblebees made a very sweet sound like the drone of a tambura, in this way, they assisted in the rasa dance symphony. The residents of the heavenly realm also came to witness the rasa dance. Seeing the rasa dance, they became overwhelmed. Even though they could not understand anything externally, still their hearts became filled with love for Krsna. During the Rasa-dance the singers were the Gandharvas and the Kinnaras. These heavenly performers became intoxicated and senseless by the attractive performance of Sri Krsna and the Gopis. Even without an invitation, they would instinctively come. When the Vraja-devis danced, their ankle bells, waste-belts and bracelets all resounded like musical instruments. The flowers that were decorating the Gopis hair-braids would shake and fall off, when their heads shook back and forth to the sound of the music and dance. The flowers in their hair were showering down like a shower of flowers that were dancing with Krsna. The Gandharvas and Kinnaras, who were the heavenly performers and damsels, had appeared in their heavenly airplanes. They did not have a complete understanding of why the Gopis and Krsna were singing and dancing, they were still immersed in complete joy. Even the animals, birds, peacocks, bumblebees, cuckoos, and deer, all participated in the Rasa-dance and became completely intoxicated in divine love for Sri Krsna. The bumblebees were drinking the nectar from the lotus and other flowers that decorated the Gopis hair, and they also participated as singers. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains, a person while taking full shelter of the Lord’s transcendental names, forms, qualities and pastimes, chants Their glories by singing and dancing, that person will become decorated with all good qualities. QUALITIES OF GOOD PLACES AND BAD PLACES What is the nature of a place filled with good qualities, and the nature of a place filled with bad qualities? It is described here, that wherever good qualities are present, everyone’s heart will be attracted and simultaneously pleased and joyful without bad or dark moods. As long as these good qualities are being distributed, people will come participate and not be able to leave that place because there is no selfishness present there. Even if you don't know any melody, have a good tone, or know any words to a kirtan, just chant the holy names of the Lord with all sincerity and faith, and whatever you don’t know, will manifest in your heart, simultaneously. Even if you don't know anything, just start chanting the Lord’s holy names and mantras with full faith. THE MOODS OF THE GOPIS ARE ORNAMENTS AND INSTRUMENTS All the various ornaments of the Gopis, the ankle bells, waist belts with small hanging bells, and their bracelets, all participated in and manifested an effulgent beauty in the musical performance of the Rasa-dance. These ornaments all manifested a different mood and they all had a personality. Can you comprehend the qualities of a flute that is made of wood, or a mrdanga that is made of clay and leather? What love is present within them? In Krsna lila the mrdanga, flute, ankle bells, bracelets, and the waist belts, all become favorable to Krsna-rasa. They became instruments of His loving rasa, and became intoxicated in the ‘vilasa’ or loving affairs of Sri Krsna with his beloveds. The Gopis had braids that were adorned and wound with flowers and flower garlands, and when they were dancing, these flowers would begin to fall from their hair and it would appear like a shower of flower petals covering the whole area. Everyone became bewildered by their dancing, and as previous mentioned, even the bumble bees became instruments and participated in the singing. In Sri Krsna’s Rasa-lila in Vraja, there is no pollution or lust. It was like children playing together, there was no lust. Krsna was dancing and having loving affairs with his own associates who are all manifestations of His divine potency. THE NATURE OF SRNGARA-BHAVA When Krsna began His loving affairs with the Vraja-gopis, they could not control or bewilder Him. Krsna is not controlled by anything, and is completely transcendental. It is like a child playing with its shadow or reflection. Krsna was not bewildered or influenced by any trace of lust, even though He was dancing with millions and millions of Gopis, who were all more beautiful than millions of Goddesses of fortune. Krsna attracts everyone, but at the same time He is not influenced by, nor does He come under the control of anyone because of their beauty or attractive qualities. What is ‘srngara-bhava’? What is the nature of the Gopis’ srngara? They are all gifts and ornaments for Sri Krsna. With so much love Krsna gave so many gifts to the Gopis. Some He gave more gifts to, others He gave different gifts to. What were these gifts? The skills to sing, play the vina, mrdanga drum, dancing, and all the qualities through which they could perform their loving affairs, were the gifts given by Sri Krsna. Krsna was playing with them, just as a little child would play with his own reflection in the water. He was like a small boy playing with His own reflection, being attracted by His own beauty, and being satisfied within Himself by His own sweetness. The limit of Krsna’s sweetness came to its full extent amidst the Gopis, and even though His sweetness is boundless, it fully appeared amidst the Vraja-gopis. THE GOPIS ARE MORE FORTUNATE THAN LAKSMI The gifts that Krsna bestowed to the Gopis were the gifts of love. The Goddess of fortune, Laksmi, could never receive this. The Lord never danced and sang with her like He did with the Gopis. She is present with Him with all ‘maryada’, rules and regulations. The Vraja-devis therefore are more fortunate than even Laksmi-devi. Their beauty increased more and more because of Sri Krsna’s love for them, but at the same time, there was no lust. Krsna was dancing and playing with His own potencies, just as a small boy would play with His own reflection or shadow. In this way Krsna began His play. Krsna is perfected in the 64 arts that manifest through His ‘kaya-vyuha’, personal expansions. All of Krsna’s pleasure potencies and His various expansions are the Vraja-devis. They are not separate from Krsna, and we should not think they are something different. These potencies are present in other forms to facilitate His loving exchanges, and to serve Him. Krsna is the original personality that is engaged in loving affairs and wonderful pastimes, that bestow ‘ananda-cinmaya-rasa’ upon all the Vraja-gopis. (CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE)

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