In his spiritual body (siddha-deha) the living entity is a transcendental servant of Kṛṣṇa. When attachment to service (dāsya-rati) arises, the jīva deems his material designations insignificant. The following statement of Śrīman Mahāprabhu is found in Padyāvalī (74):
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
I am not a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, nor am I a brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha or sannyāsī. My sole nature is that of a servant of the servants of the Vaiṣṇavas who are the servants of the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā-vallabha, the maintainer of the gopīs. He is naturally effulgent and the complete ocean of bliss.
vipra, kṣatra, vaiśya, śūdra kabhu nāhi āmi
gṛhī, brahmacārī, vānaprastha, yati, svāmī
The living entity is actually a servant of the transcendental Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, the ocean of all nectarean mellows. This is confirmed in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 5.142):
ekala īśvara kṛṣṇa āra saba bhṛtya
yāre yaiche nācāya, se taiche kare nṛtya
Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone is Īśvara, the supreme controller, and all others are His servants. They dance as He makes them do so.
The living entity who is bound by māyā identifies himself with the temporary material body of a woman or man and various other designations. However, with His own lotus mouth, Śrī Gaurasundara, the incarnation in Kali-yuga and saviour of all fallen souls, instructed the human beings tormented by Kali. He said, “We are not bound by social classes (varṇas), such as brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or sūdra, nor by brahmacārya or other stages of life (āśramas). Our pure identity is gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ, that of the servant of the servant of the servant of the maintainer of the gopīs.”
Because the living entity is conditioned, he receives a new body according to his previous life’s desires and impressions (saṁskāras), and thus takes birth in one of the varṇas. The destination he attains after death is in accordance with his karma. This is called karma-cakra, the cycle of action and reaction. The living entity realises his pure form (śuddha-svarūpa) by taking shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide guru and thereby following the path of bhajana as established by the previous mahājanas. His material identification is removed by his constant performance of nāma-bhajana. A pure spiritual mood then manifests, and he attains a pure, transcendental body with which he can serve Kṛṣṇa. This body is also endowed with hands, legs and so forth just like the material body.
In pure, transcendental nature, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the only male and all jīvas are female. Actually, in the structure of the jīva’s heart, male and female characteristics do not exist; yet when embodied the living entity naturally conceives of himself as being male or female. The jīva attains a pure body through the medium of sādhana-bhajana. A person who is inclined towards the amorous mellow (mādhurya-rasa) will perform sādhana-bhajana under the guidance of rasika-bhaktas and, according to his own desire and constitutional nature, he will attain his spiritual form, which will be the body of a gopī. Yogamāyā makes all arrangements for the devotee’s service in a specific rasa by the potency that makes the impossible possible (aghaṭana-ghaṭana-paṭīyasī-śakti). Prema-bhakti-candrikā states:
sādhane bhāviba yāhā siddha-dehe pāba tāhā
Whatever one contemplates in sādhana, one will attain at perfection.
pakvāpakva mātra se vicāra
The only difference is that in sādhana it is unripe, and at perfection, ripe.
Dāsānudāsa – No one has the qualification to enter mādhurya-sevā to Śrī Yugala-kiśora unless he is under the guidance of the vraja-gopīs. By performing bhajana under the guidance of the maṣjarī-sakhīs who are following those gopīs, one can attain the post of a maidservant. At the time of sādhana, one desires to have a mood of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa according to the moods of the vraja-gopīs. Then, when bhāva arises he considers himself to be a maidservant of a vraja-gopī like Lalitā Sakhī and serves Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa under her guidance. In śṛṅgāra-rasa-upāsana, worship through the amorous mellow, one conceives of oneself as a paramour (parakīya or paroḍhā).
Some persons, although males, consider themselves to be Lalitā or Viśākhā. They adopt feminine attire, pose as sakhīs, and thus perform “bhajana”. By such actions, they only destroy themselves and others. To think, “I am Lalitā” or “I am Viśākhā” is the ahaṅgrahopāsanā of the māyāvādīs, a type of worship in which one considers himself to be identical with the object of worship. Those who think like this are offenders at the lotus feet of Lalitā, Viśākhā and others, and they descend into the most dreadful hell. The living entity can never become Rūpa Maṣjarī, Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s eternal kiṅkarī, nor can he become Lalitā or any other sakhī. These sakhīs are not living entities; they are Śrī Rādhā’s direct expansions (kāya-vyūha-svarūpa).
While performing śṛṅgāra-rasa-upāsana at the time of sādhana, the living entity should serve Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s eternal sakhīs. Conceiving oneself as a paramour, one’s aspiration should be to take birth in the home of a vraja-gopī, marry a specific gopa and remain a childless gopa-kiśorī. This kiśorī, whose mood is parakīya-bhāva, is a female sādhaka with an intense yearning to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of Śrī Rādhā. When this bhāva is perfected, one attains gopī-bhāva.
In his song Dekhite dekhite Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings: “vraja-gopī-bhāva, haibe svabhāva, āna-bhāva nā rahibe – my sole disposition and nature will be that of a vraja-gopī.”
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.295) it is described how the devotee in rāga-mārga is fixed in two kinds of service moods – one is executed with his external body (sādhaka-deha) and the other with his internally contemplated body (siddha-deha):
siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi
One who has intense longing to attain rāgātmikā-bhakti follows in the footsteps of the Vrajavāsīs [such as Rūpa Gosvāmī] who are devoted to rāga-mārga. With his external body (sādhaka-rūpa) he should chant and hear according to the practice of rāgānuga-bhakti, and with his internally contemplated body (siddha-rūpa) bestowed upon him by his guru, he should perform service.
śravaṇa-kīrtana bāhye sādhaka-śārīre
siddha-dehe vrajānuga-sevā abhyantare
Rāgānuga-bhakti is performed in two ways:
- (1) with the external body (sādhaka-rūpa) and
- (2) with the internally contemplated body (siddha-rūpa) that is suitable for carrying out the prema-sevā for which one aspires.
ith the external body one should perform service like Śrī Rūpa, Śrī Sanātana and other eminent Vrajavāsīs. With an intense desire to obtain one’s cherished object Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who resides in Vraja, and the sentiments of His beloved associates (in other words, their affection for Śrī Kṛṣṇa), one should execute service within the mind (mānasī-sevā), following eternal residents of Vraja such as Śrī Rādhā, Lalitā, Viśākhā and Rūpa Maṣjarī.
Because unqualified people are unable to understand the sādhaka’s transcendental activities and gestures, for their benefit he practises the rules and regulations of vaidhī-bhakti with his external body. If such unqualified people were to imitate the sādhaka’s transcendental activities, their process of bhajana itself would become the cause of their entanglement in material existence. Our previous ācāryas personally followed rules and regulations just to instruct the ajāta-rati-sādhakas (those not on the platform of bhāva) and to enable them to enter into pure bhakti.
The meaning of vidhi-mārga is the practice of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti, beginning with guru-padāśraya (taking shelter of the lotus feet of a genuine spiritual master). By following vidhi-mārga in this way and by the influence of associating with devotees who are practising rāga-mārga, intense longing for rāgānuga-bhakti manifests in the heart and one attains the quali-fication to enter that path. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura confirms this in Kalyāṇa-kalpataru: vidhi-mārga-rata-jane, svādhīnatā ratna-dāne, rāga-mārge karāna praveśa.
Day and night one should serve Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala in Vraja in one’s spiritual body (siddha-deha) that has been revealed by the mercy of śrī guru. The sādhaka, following Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beloved associates whom he cherishes in his heart and for whose service he has developed greed (lobha), should constantly serve the youthful Divine Couple with an enraptured heart. By following the mood of one of Kṛṣṇa’s associates who is amongst His servants, friends, parents or beloveds, and whose disposition corresponds to his own, the sādhaka attains affection for Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. This affection is of the same nature as the affection of the associate whom he follows. This is the method of rāgānuga-bhakti.
Smaraṇa (remembrance) is the primary limb of rāgānuga-bhakti. In accordance with one’s own internal mood, smaraṇa, kīrtana and the other limbs of devotion should be performed in relation to Kṛṣṇa, His pastimes, His abode, His specific natures and His beloved associates. Because smaraṇa is predominant in rāgānuga-bhakti, some persons, who still have anarthas and in whose hearts genuine attachment to Kṛṣṇa has not yet appeared, make a deceitful display of solitary bhajana, and considering themselves rāgānugā devotees, they practise what they call aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā-smaraṇa. However, Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.101) quotes from the āgama-śāstras as follows:
aikāntikī harer bhaktir
If a person violates the regulations mentioned in the Śruti, Smṛti, Purāṇas and the Nārada-paṣcarātra, great misgivings (anarthas) are produced, even though he may be engaged in unalloyed devotion to Hari (aikāntikī-hari-bhakti).
The specific point to be understood in connection with rasa is that, upon hearing of the sweetness of śṛṅgāra-rasa and the other transcendental sentiments of the eternal associates in vraja-līlā, a greed arises to obtain those same sentiments. At that point, a person is no longer dependent on the logic of the scriptures that explain vaidhī-bhakti and he inquires, “How may this irresistible vraja-bhāva be obtained?” He must then depend on śāstra, because only śāstra describes the means by which he can attain it. The scripture that establishes the method of bhagavad-bhajana is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
There are five kinds of sādhana in rāgānuga-bhakti:
- 1. Svābhīṣṭa-bhāvamaya (composed of one’s desired mood) – When śravaṇa, kīrtana and other such limbs of bhakti are saturated with one of the primary bhāvas (dāsya, sakhya, vatsālya or mādhurya), they nourish the tree of the sādhaka’s future prema. At that time they are called bhāvamaya-sādhana. When prema manifests, they are called bhāvamaya-sādhya.
- 2. Svābhīṣṭa-bhāva-sambandhī (related to one’s desired mood) – The limbs of bhakti, including śrī-guru-padāśraya, mantra-japa, smaraṇa, dhyāna and so on, are known as bhāva-sambandhī-sādhana. Because the following of vows on holy days such as Ekādaśī and Janmāṣṭamī assists the limb of smaraṇa, it is considered partial bhāva-sambandhī.
- 3. Svābhīṣṭa-bhāva-anukūla (favourable to one’s desired mood) – Wearing neckbeads made of tulasī, applying tilaka, adopting the outward signs of a Vaiṣṇava, rendering tulasī-sevā, performing parikramā, offering praṇāma and so forth are bhāva-anukūla.
- 4. Svābhīṣṭa-bhāva-aviruddha (neither opposed to nor incompatible with one’s desired mood) – Respecting cows, the banyan tree, the myrobalan tree and brāhmaṇas are conducive limbs and therefore called bhāva-aviruddha.
The above-mentioned (1–4) kinds of sādhana are all to be adopted in the performance of bhajana.
- 5. Svābhīṣṭa-bhāva-viruddha (opposed to one’s desired mood) – Nyāsa (mental assignment of different parts of the body to various deities), mudrā (particular positions of intertwining the fingers), dvārakā-dhyāna (meditation on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Dvārakā) and other such limbs should be abandoned in the performance of rāgānuga-bhakti because they are opposed to the attainment of one’s desired bhāva.
The rāga-mārga-sādhaka always follows the Vrajavāsīs; in other words, he follows Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī and Śrī Ragunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, and constantly practises the process of bhajana shown by them. A rāga-mārga-sādhaka should always reside in Vraja. If possible he should reside there physically; otherwise, mentally.
Siddha-rūpeṇa – By the mercy of the spiritual master, the sādhaka gains the ekādaśa-bhāvas and the five daśās. He then performs sevā in meditation while being internally absorbed in these sentiments; that is to say, he remains absorbed in remembrance of aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā.
The ekādaśa-bhāvas are:
- (1) sambandha, relationship;
- (2) vayasa, age;
- (3) nāma, name;
- (4) rūpa, personal form;
- (5) yūtha, group;
- (6) veśa, dress;
- (7) ājṣā, specific instruction;
- (8) vāsa, residence;
- (9) sevā, exclusive service;
- (10) parākāṣṭhā-śvāsa, the utmost summit of divine sentiment, which is the aspirant’s very life breath; and
- (11) pālyadāsī-bhāva, the sentiment of a maidservant.
The five daśās are:
- (1) śravaṇa-daśā, the stage of hearing;
- (2) varaṇa-daśā, the stage of acceptance;
- (3) smaraṇa-daśā, the stage of remembrance;
- (4) bhāvāpanna-daśā, the stage of spiritual ecstasy; and
- (5) prema-sampatti-daśā, the stage in which the highest success of prema is achieved.
By the mercy of the svarūpa-śakti, the sādhaka receives a spiri-tual body appropriate for service to Kṛṣṇa. The Sanat-kumāra-saṁhitā describes how a sādhaka in mādhurya-rasa is always absorbed in his internally contemplated body:
ātmānaṁ cintayet tatra
tāsāṁ madhye manoramām
prārthitām api kṛṣṇena,
kṛṣṇād apy adhikaṁ prema
prīty anudivasaṁ yatnāt
ity ātmānaṁ vicintyaiva
tatra sevāṁ samācaret
yāvat tuṣyān mahāniśi
[Sadāśiva said to Nārada:] O Nārada, contemplate your svarūpa in the transcendental land of Vṛndāvana amidst Kṛṣṇa’s beloved damsels, who look upon Him as their paramour, in the following way: “I am a kiśorī-ramaṇī, whose beautiful youthful form is full of happiness. I am skilled in many fine arts that please Kṛṣṇa. I am an eternal maidservant of Śrī Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa’s most beloved consort, and I will always be joyful to arrange for Her meeting with Him. Therefore, even if Kṛṣṇa prays for union with me, I will do anything to avoid that kind of meeting because it would not be for Kṛṣṇa’s sense pleasure, but my own. I am always ready to serve and attend to Kṛṣṇa’s beloved Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and I have more affection for Śrīmatī than I do for Kṛṣṇa. Every day I am devoted to affectionately and carefully arranging meetings between Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Remaining absorbed in the happiness of serving Them, I will increase Their bliss in that meeting.”
In this way, attentively contemplating one’s svarūpa, one should impeccably perform mānasī-sevā in the transcendental land of Vṛndāvana, from brāhma-muhūrta until midnight.
The word siddha-rūpeṇa in this Text 7 is defined by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī as follows: “antaś cintita tat sevopayogī deha – the internally contemplated body that is suitable for carrying out one’s desired service.” One should thus be engaged in service according to one’s mood and with a body suitable for serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa. One should serve being absorbed in the ocean of sentiments of Kṛṣṇa’s beloved associates in Vraja, who fulfil His innermost desires.
Śrī gurudeva, the desire-tree of the devotees, makes the siddha-deha appear within the heart of his dear disciple, and thereafter acquaints him with this siddha-deha. Having full faith in the guru’s words, the sādhaka performs bhajana with firm niṣṭhā, and by the mercy of the hlādinī-śakti, he fully realises his ultimate state of being. The sādhaka then completely identifies himself with his siddha-deha and in this perfected form, he intently engages in the service of his most cherished Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the skilful enjoyer of pastimes (līlā-vilāsī).
Śrīman Mahāprabhu (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 1.211)) has described the public behaviour of rāga-mārga-bhaktas with the following words:
tad evāsvādayaty antar
When a woman is attached to a man other than her husband, she continues to carry out her many household duties, but within her heart she relishes the new pleasure of her meeting with her paramour. [Similarly, a devotee may be engaged in activities within this world, but he always relishes the rasa of Kṛṣṇa that he has tasted in the association of devotees.]
para-puruṣete rata thāke ye ramaṇī
gṛhe vyasta thākiyāo divasa-rajanī
gopane antare nava-saṅga-rasāyana
parama-ullāse kare sadā āsvādana
sei rūpa bhakta vyagra thākiyāo ghare
kṛṣṇa-rasāsvāda kara niḥsaṅga antare
In this verse, by using a mundane example, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu explains both the internal and external behaviour of the rāga-mārga-sādhaka. A woman who is attached to her paramour very competently performs her household duties, but her mind and heart are with her lover. She remembers their laughing and loving exchanges, and she relishes the happiness of their recent meeting. Similarly, the rāga-mārga-sādhaka always tastes the pleasure of serving Bhagavān within his heart, even though he seems to be occupied with his various duties. The opinion of the ācāryas is that externally one should serve with the physical body, and internally one should remember Kṛṣṇa’s form, qualities, pastimes, associates and so forth.
Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings: “gṛhe vā vanete thāke, ‘hā gaurāṅga’ bole ḍāke, narottama māṅge tāra saṅga – whether a person lives in his home as a householder or in the forest as a renunciant, as long as he exclaims ‘O Gaurāṅga!’ Narottama dāsa begs for his association.”
In this state of rāga-mārga-bhajana, the devotee has affection for places that are dear to Kṛṣṇa, and he longs to stay in such places. This is described in the following verse from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.156):
nāmāni tava kīrtayan
O lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa, when, upon the banks of the Yamunā, will I chant Your holy names and dance like a madman, my eyes brimming with tears of love?
According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmipāda, this is an example of lālasāmayī-vijṣapti made by a jāta-rati-bhakta; that is, a devotee in whom bhāva has appeared. Lālasāmayī-vijṣapti is a prayer in which such a devotee prays to attain his desired sevā. Samprārthanātmikā-vijṣapti is a prayer by a sādhaka in whom rati has not yet awakened. Such a prayer is also full of longing (lālasā), but bhāva is absent. This Text 9 is a prayer by a devotee on the path of rāgānuga.
The name Puṇḍarīkākṣa (lotus-eyed) here excites the devotee’s heart with pastimes related to that name: “Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s eyes have become reddish like a lotus due to sporting with the vraja-gopīs at night in a cottage situated in a secluded grove on the bank of the Yamunā. With extreme bliss and joy, in the society of sakhīs I will describe Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s rasa, His personal beauty and so on.” This is the mood that manifests. Or, “After arranging the union of Śrī Kṛṣṇa with my beloved sakhī, I will dance in a festival of bliss. Being satisfied, my Svāminī will bless me.” Or, “When Śrīmatī Rādhikā becomes victorious in water sports (jala-keli-vihāra) in the Yamunā, I will dance like a madwoman, horripilating, shivering and with tears in my eyes.”
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings:
yamunā-salila-āharaṇe giyā, bujhiba yugala-rasa
prema-mugdha haye pāgalinī-prāya, gāiba rādhāra yaśa
As I go to draw water from the Yamunā, I will understand the confidential mellows of Yugala-kiśora’s loving affairs. Like a madwoman captivated by prema, I will sing Śrī Rādhikā’s glories.
Apart from devotees, who desire to love Kṛṣṇa, everyone else’s hearts are impure and stone-like due to offences. According to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.24), the emotions exhibited by such people are artificial:
tad aśma-sāraṁ hṛdayaṁ batedaṁ
yad gṛhyamānair hari-nāma-dheyaiḥ
na vikriyetātha yadā vikāro
netre jalaṁ gātra-ruheṣu harṣaḥ
When a sādhaka performs harināma-saṅkīrtana, the hairs of his body stand on end and tears of joy begin to flow from his eyes. But the heart of one in whom such sāttvika-bhāva transformations do not arise, is not actually a heart, but a hard thunderbolt.
harināma-saṅkīrtane roma-harṣa haya
daihika vikāra netre jala-dhārā baya
se samaye nahe yāra hṛdaya-vikāra
dhik tāra hṛdaya kaṭhina vajra-sāra
If someone has been chanting the holy name for a long time but his heart is not melting, it is certain that he is a nāma-aparādhī. The holy name is all-powerful (sarva-śaktimān), but no immediate result takes place in a heart that is hard like stone. To criticise sādhus or to commit other such offences obstructs the desired transformation of the heart. If the obstruction is ordinary, the utterance of the holy name manifests as a semblance of the name (nāma-ābhāsa). If the obstruction is deep, however, then it mani-fests as nāma-aparādha. In other words, by offences committed at the lotus feet of a great personality (mahāpuruṣa), one’s heart becomes hard like iron, and it is not melted by śravaṇa, kīrtana and so on.
The external symptoms of a heart that is melted by harināma are tears, horripilation and so forth. However, such symptoms are also seen in one whose heart is full of distress. Rūpa Gosvāmipāda says that occasionally tears, horripilation, etc. are observed in those whose hearts are naturally devious. Externally such people appear to be soft-hearted, but internally their hearts are actually hard. These symptoms can also be observed in those who believe they can acquire sāttvika-bhāvas by determined practice, even without sattva-ābhāsa (the semblance of sāttvika-bhāvas). Such emotions are never connected to bhakti.
One will definitely observe the nine symptoms of bhāva, such as forbearance (kṣānti) and not wasting time (avyartha-kālatva), in a fortunate person whose heart has been transformed by the appearance of pure harināma on his tongue, which is always engaged in service (sevonmukha). One should therefore understand that extraordinary forbearance and exceptional attachment to chanting the holy name are symptoms of a transformed heart. If an ordinary person, a so-called Vaiṣṇava who is actually envious, chants the holy name (nāma-aparādha) for a long time, his heart will not melt. He cannot perceive the sweetness of the holy name due to the offences in his heart. The nine symptoms of bhāva, beginning with kṣānti, may appear to be observed in a person whose heart is disturbed by aparādha, but his heart is actually hard like stone and he is worthy of reproach. However, if that person associates with devotees, he will gradually pass through anartha-nivṛtti and come to niṣṭhā, ruci and the other stages. Then, at the suitable time, the offences hardening his heart will be removed and his heart may melt. By receiving the mercy of Vaiṣṇavas and a pure niṣkiṣcana, mahā-bhāgavata guru and practising spiritual life under their guidance, one will become free from the influence of aparādhas and anarthas. Finally he will become fixed in vraja-bhāva, which is filled with rasa, and he will attain the supreme goal, prema.