atha śānta-rase narākṛti parabrahma caturbhujaḥ nārāyaṇaḥ paramātmā ityādi gunaḥ śrī-kṛṣṇo viṣayālambanaḥ. sanaka sanandana sanātana sanatkumārādayaḥ āśrayālambanāḥ tapasvinaḥ. jñānino ’pi mumukṣāṁ tyaktvā śrī-kṛṣṇa-bhakta-kṛpayā bhakti-vāsanā-yuktā yadi syus tadā te ’py āśrayālambanāḥ. parvata-śaila-kānanādi-vāsijana-saṅga-siddha-kṣetrādayaḥ uddīpana-vibhāvāḥ. nāsikāgra-dṛṣṭiḥ avadhūta-ceṣṭā nirmamatā bhagavad-dveṣi-jane na dveṣaḥ tad-bhakta-jane ’pi nāti-bhaktiḥ maunaṁ jñāna-śāstre ’bhiniveśaḥ ity ādayo ’nubhāvāḥ. aśru-pulaka-romāñcādyāḥ pralaya-varjītāḥ sāttvikāḥ. nirveda-mati-dhṛtyādayaḥ sañcāriṇaḥ. śāntiḥ sthāyī. iti śānta-rasaḥ.
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (3.1.4) śānta-bhakti-rasa is defined in the following way:
śamināṁ svādyatāṁ gataḥ
sthāyī śānti-ratir dhīraiḥ
If śānta-rati sthāyibhāva mixes with the elements of vibhāva, anubhāva, sāttvika-bhāva and vyabhicāri-bhāva that are appropriate for śānta-rasa and becomes very tasteful in the hearts of devotees who are predominated by śama or equanimity, it is called śānta-bhakti-rasa by the learned.
Viṣayālambana of śānta-rasa
The viṣayālambana of śānta-rasa is Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested as the personification of eternity, cognisance and bliss, the pinnacle of ātmārāmas, the Parabrahma with humanlike appearance, four-handed Nārāyaṇa and the Paramātmā.1 The qualities He exhibits are as follows: He is peaceful (śānta), He endures even intolerable distress (dānta), He is free from all sins and He purifies others of sins (śuci), He is in full control of His senses (vaśī), He is never controlled by the dictates of māyā (sadā-svarūpa-samprāpta), He bestows mukti on the enemies killed by Him (hatāri-gati-dāyaka) and He is omnipresent (vibhu).
Āśrayālambana of śānta-rasa
The śānta-bhaktas (those whose rati is predominated by śama, equanimity) are the āśrayālambana of śānta-rasa. The śānta-bhaktas are of two types: (1) ātmārāma (those who take pleasure in the self) and (2) tapasvī-gaṇa (those who undertake austerities with faith in bhakti).
Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana and Sanat Kumāra, who are devoid of mamatā or the sense of possessiveness in relation to the Lord, who are firmly focused on the Supreme Lord (bhagavan-niṣṭha) and who propound the path of bhakti, are prominent among the ātmārāma śānta-bhaktas.
Those who adopt yukta-vairāgya and practise bhagavad-bhajana, knowing that without bhakti liberation cannot be obtained, are called tāpasa śānta-bhaktas. Such persons have faith in bhakti only as a process for attaining liberation. As long as they take up the limbs of bhakti with a desire for mukti, śānta-rati, which is the basis of śānta-rasa, cannot appear in their hearts. If such jñānīs give up the desire for liberation, then by the mercy of the devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, bhakti, or in other words śānta-rati, appears in their hearts. At that time they may also become the āśrayālambana of śānta-rasa.
Uddīpana-vibhāva, or things which stimulate rati for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, are of two kinds: asādhāraṇa (uncommon or unique) and sādhāraṇa (common). The asādhāraṇa-uddīpanas are stimulants which impel devotees of one specific rasa and the sādhāraṇa-uddīpanas are those which impel devotees of other rasas as well.
Hearing the mahā Upaniṣads, living in a secluded place, apparition of Śrī Kṛṣṇa within the heart imbued with śuddha-sattva, discussing philosophical conclusions, predominance of jñāna-śakti, beholding the universal form, association of holy men who reside in the mountains and forests, discussion of the Upaniṣads with persons who are equally knowledgeable and so on, are the asādhāraṇa-uddīpanas or unique stimulants for this rasa.
The fragrance of tulasī from the lotus feet of the Lord, the sound of a conchshell, sacred mountains and holy forests, holy places (such as the Gaṅgā or Badarikāśrama), the perishability of material objects and the all-devouring quality of time, are sādhāraṇa-uddīpanas or stimulants which the śānta-bhaktas share in common with the dāsya-bhaktas.
Staring at the tip of the nose, behaving as an ascetic who is beyond all codes of social conduct (avadhūta), indifference, walking while extending the vision no more than six feet in front, exhibiting the jñāna-mudra (joining together of the thumb with the forefinger), absence of malice towards those who are adverse to the Lord, absence of excessive affection towards the devotees of the Lord, absence of proprietorship, freedom from false ego, observance of silence, deep absorption in the jñāna-śāstras, and other such items, are the asādhāraṇa-anubhāvas or the specific outward symptoms that reveal the śānta-rati situated within.
Yawning, writhing of the limbs, bowing and offering prayers before the Lord, and giving instructions on bhakti are the sādhāraṇa-anubhāvas or outward symptoms which the śānta-bhaktas share in common with the dāsya-bhaktas.
Other than pralaya (loss of consciousness or fainting), all the sāttvika-bhāvas such as tears, standing of the hairs on end, perspiration, trembling and so on are visible in śānta-bhakti-rasa. These sāttvika-bhāvas can manifest up to the stage of jvalita. Jvalita2 is the stage in which two or three sāttvika-bhāvas appear simultaneously and can be controlled only with difficulty. They cannot attain to the stage of dīpta.
The vyabhicāri-bhāvas include nirveda (self-disparagement), dhṛti (fortitude), harṣa (jubilation), mati (conviction or understanding), smṛti (remembrance), viṣāda (despondency), autsukhya (ardent desire), āvega (excitement), vitarka (deliberation) and so on.
The sthāyibhāva of śānta-rasa is śānta-rati, tranquillity. Śānta-rati is of two kinds: samā (equal) and sāndrā (condensed). When a śānta-bhakta is absorbed in samādhi and the Lord manifests in his heart, the rati that he experiences is called sama-śānta-rati. When a śānta-bhakta directly sees the form of the Lord before him, the rati that he experiences is called sāndra-śānta-rati. It is said to be condensed because the bliss of receiving the direct darśana of the Lord is far more intense than perceiving the Lord in samādhi.
It may be noted that if someone is the recipient of Nanda-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s special mercy, then even if he was previously fixed in jñāna, he attains a super-excellent quality of rati which far exceeds that of śānta-rati. When his jñāna-saṁskāras slacken, he may even become expert in the bliss of bhakti-rasa as was the case with Śrī Śukadeva Muni. An example of this is seen in the statement of Śrī Bilvamaṅgala cited in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (3.1.44):
śaṭhena kenāpi vayaṁ haṭhena
Formerly I was an object of worship for those who traverse the path of monism. The advocates of the path of impersonal brahma-jñāna used to worship me, thinking me to be very great. Being seated on the throne of brahmānanda realisation, I used to receive their adoration. But some cunning ravisher of the young wives of the cowherds, Gopījana-vallabha Nanda-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, has forcibly made me His maidservant.
It is evident from this that by the uncommon mercy of Śrī Śyāmasundara, those who attain a glimpse of the splendour of His charming lotus feet – even those established in Brahman realisation – forget all their deficiencies. They then repent their previous condition and engage in bhakti.