prabhu kahe,—“eho haya, āge kaha āra”
Śrīman Mahāprabhu said, “This is fine, but please speak something more.” Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Loving service in servitude (dāsya–prema) – as exchanged by master and servant – is the essence of all perfection.
The bhakti of all devotees is not equal. There is a gradation. “Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya kṛṣṇa-dāsa – It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.” This dāsya–bhāva also has gradations within it. If rain falls at the time of the svāti-nakṣatra and falls upon an oyster, then that rain produces a pearl. If it falls on a banana plant it produces camphor, and if it falls on the head of an elephant it gives rise to gaja-muktā, a pearl found in the projections of an elephant’s forehead, and thus known as an elephant pearl. If that same rain falls upon the feet of a cow it makes a yellow pigment called gorocanā, and if it falls on bamboo, then vaṁśa-locana, which is a milky colored substance is formed in the hollow of the bamboo.
Different transformations take place, depending on the objects the rain falls upon. Similarly, if a variety of seeds, such as mango, neem, and tamarind, are planted in the same garden and watered with the same Ganges water, three different kinds of fruit-bearing trees will appear. In the same way, despite the fact that everyone is a servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, each person’s eternal constitutional service mood is different, and because these service moods are variegated, the happiness derived from the service, is also variegated. By performing service, worship, and sādhana under the guidance of śrī gurudeva and Vaiṣṇavas, the eternal constitutional position of the sādhaka, the nitya-svarūpa, manifests itself. Beforehand, śuddha-sattva must necessarily manifest in the heart.
The essential meaning of dāsya–bhāva is as follows: “Śrī Bhagavān is the object of service. He is my master (prabhu) and I am His servant (dāsa).” The service propensity (sevā-vāsanā) that accompanies this mood of servitorship is called dāsya–prema. Service rendered to Bhagavān that is devoid of this dāsya–bhāva and its accompanying feelings of possessiveness (mamatā), is called ordinary prema–bhakti, or śānta–prema; it cannot establish a relationship with Bhagavān.
When one’s feeling of possessiveness of the Lord gradually increases, this ordinary prema (śānta-prema) transforms into the mood of a servant (dāsya-bhāva). More complete feelings of servitorship are found within all the Lord’s associates who participate in His pastimes. This mood of servitude is present completely in the devotees in dāsya-rasa, more completely in the devotees in the mellow of friendship (sakhya-rasa), most completely in the devotees in the parental mood (vātsalya-rasa), and is totally complete in the devotees in the amorous mellow (madhura-rasa).
In the dāsya-bhakti of the devotees of Vraja, mamatā (excessive feelings of intimacy, or possessiveness) are mixed with feelings of fraternity and parental affection for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The various types of wonderment of prema, all of which consist of the desire to please Śrī Kṛṣṇa, present themselves through devotional service rendered in the mood of servitude (dāsya-sevā). For the glorification of dāsya–prema, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya quotes the following verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
yan-nāma-śruti-mātreṇa pumān bhavati nirmalaḥ
tasya tīrtha-padaḥ kiṁ vā dāsānām avaśiṣyate
“Śrī Durvāsā, the best of ṛṣis, said to Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, ‘Simply by hearing the all auspicious names of Bhagavān, the jīva becomes pure, so for those who are the servants of the lotus feet of tīrtha-pada Bhagavān, what desirable object remains to be still attained?’
bhavantam evānucaran nirantaraḥ
by Śrī Yāmuna Muni (Śrī Yāmunācārya)
“ ‘O Lord, when will I become Your eternal, one-pointed servant, renouncing all desires apart from serving You, and always feeling joyful because of having such a glorious master?’ ”
Śrī Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains that it is clear from both of these verses that there is nothing the servant of Bhagavān cannot attain. In both cases, the devotee’s only prayer is for the feeling of eternal exclusive servitorship. Service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the only success of life.
In dāsya–prema, the specialty of prema–bhakti is concealed. This dāsya–rasa flows continuously in Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā, Dvārakā, Mathurā, and Vraja; yet throughout these holy abodes, dāsya-rasa exists in special types of gradation. The feelings of awe and reverence (aiśvarya) diminish as one progresses from Vaikuṇṭha to Ayodhyā, to Dvārakā, and finally to Vraja. As one advances towards Vraja, the feelings of reverence that are present in the devotees in the mood of servitorship of Vaikuṇṭha are gradually concealed. Also, as one approaches Vraja, the sweetness of prema as well as feelings of possessiveness for the Lord increase.
In his Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī says that the minds of the dāsya-bhaktas of Vṛndāvana are attracted only to the service of Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and nothing else. On the other hand, when the dāsya–bhaktas of Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā, Dvārakā, and Mathurā see the service of the dāsya–bhaktas of Vraja, their greed awakens for that. It is not that there is no opulence in Vraja; indeed it exists in great profusion. Kṛṣṇa’s lifting Śrī Govardhana for seven days with one hand, killing demons such as Pūtanā and Aghāsura, showing Mother Yaśodā unlimited universes within His mouth – all these pastimes are full of opulence, but the Vrajavāsīs considered such displays of majesty to be the power of Nārāyaṇa, the influence of the illusory energy, or the spell of some witch.
For this reason, when Kanhaiyā (a pet name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa) displayed unlimited universes within His mouth, Mother Yaśodā thought, “Some witch has attacked my son.” In order to protect Him, the controller of all, she bathed Him in cow dung and cow urine, engaged the brāhmaṇas in chanting protective mantras and incantations for Him, and gave away charity on His behalf.
In fact, in dāsya–bhāva, one constantly ponders, “What service can I do?” Hence in this present verse, the word kiṅkara1 has been used for the devotees of dāsya–bhāva. It has already been mentioned that there is no śuddha–dāsya (feelings of pure, unmixed servitorship) in the dāsya devotees of Vraja; rather their mood of dāsya is mixed with feelings of friendship (sakhya) and parental affection (vātsalya–bhāva).
Another speciality of the dāsya–bhaktas of Vraja is that again, unlike the dāsya devotees of other places, there are no feelings of pure respect and reverence. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura reveals that devotees of dāsya–bhāva in the mood of awe and reverence have a concept that offenses can be committed in their service; therefore for them, there is no deluge of prema. In dāsya–prema, service is not fully developed.
The service of the dāsya–bhaktas Jaya and Vijaya in Vaikuṇṭha, composed of feelings of pure awe and reverence, is extraordinarily beautiful, but in those bhaktas, we cannot see the mood of viśrambha-sevā, pure service performed with intimacy and devoid of feelings of awe and reverence. In order to fulfill the desire of their Lord, during the pastimes accomplished by Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s creative internal potency (yogamāyā), they accepted three births in demonic species. By doing so they gave their Lord an opportunity to taste vīra-rasa, or happiness obtained in fighting, in its completeness. In one form they were providing Him with a taste of this chivalrous mellow (vīra-rasa), and simultaneously, in another form, or svarūpa, they were engaged in their service in Vaikuṇṭha.
Almost all the devotees in Ayodhyā are in dāsya–bhāva. Amongst all of the servants there, Śrī Hanumān is the topmost. Hanumān serves his Lord, Śrī Rāma, with his full life force. Because of his great thirst for service, he warmly welcomes any type of service to Śrī Rāma.
Rāma is present in every pore of his entire being, and his every breath contains Rāma. Rāma is his life and soul. When by trickery, Ahi-Rāvaṇa, the adopted younger brother of Rāvaṇa, took Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa to Pātāla-loka as a human sacrifice, then and there Hanumān killed him, and seating Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa upon his shoulders, he took them away from there. But he cannot serve the Lord like the dāsya–bhaktas of Vraja; he cannot take his Lord on his lap, nor can he kiss Him.
It can be accepted that the dāsya–bhaktas of Dvārakā are superior to the dāsya–bhaktas of Ayodhyā, but even within them, there is not so much as a scent of sakhya (friendship).
Śrīman Mahāprabhu, thinking that now Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya was approaching the desired sādhya, said:
1The word kiṅkara comes from kiṁ karomi, meaning, “What may I do? What service can I do?”