Book excerptsSri Bhajana RahasyaAṢṬAMA-YĀMA-SĀDHANA. Rātri-līlā. Prema-bhajana sambhoga. Verses 6 - 10

AṢṬAMA-YĀMA-SĀDHANA. Rātri-līlā. Prema-bhajana sambhoga. Verses 6 – 10


The method of bhajana and place of residence of one who possesses the mood described in the previous Text is explained in Upadeśāmṛta (8):

smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram

While living in Vraja as a follower of those who are attached to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one should utilise all his time by gradually transferring the absorption of his tongue and mind from matters other than Kṛṣṇa to the chanting and remembering of narrations of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name, form, qualities and pastimes. This is the essence of all instruction.

anusmṛti-krame jihvā-manaḥ-saṁyojana
kuñje vāsa anurāgi-jana-dāsī haiyā
aṣṭa-kāla bhaji līlā majiyā majiyā


The essential meaning of this Text is that, in accordance with his own bhāva, the sādhaka should remember his beloved Śrī Kṛṣṇa as well as the devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa who possess the same mood as himself. One should reside in Vraja-maṇḍala while being immersed in chanting names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, such as Rādhā-ramaṇa and Rādhā-rāsa-bihārī, that are favourable to his own bhāva, and in hearing narrations of pastimes connected to those names. If it is not possible to reside in Vraja physically, one should reside there mentally.

This Text explains both the process of bhajana and the best place to perform bhajana. No place is superior to Vraja-maṇḍala for performing bhajana of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. The most exalted devotees, such as Brahmā and Uddhava, therefore pray to take birth in Vraja as a blade of grass or a plant.


The rāgānuga-bhakta’s method of bhajana is to perform his desired perfectional service (siddha-sevā) under the constant guidance of the guru. Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.294) states:

kṛṣṇaṁ smaran janaṁ cāsya
preṣṭhaṁ nija-samīhitam
tat-tat-kathā-rataś cāsau
kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā

The devotee who desires rāgānuga-bhakti should constantly remember Vṛndāvana-Kṛṣṇa, along with Kṛṣna’s beloved associates who have the same mood as himself. He should remain engrossed in hearing and speaking narrations of their pastimes and always reside in Vraja.

smari’ kṛṣṇa, nija-kṛṣṇa-preṣṭha-vraja-jana
kṛṣṇa-kathā-rata, vraja-vāsa anukṣaṇa


The process of rāgānuga-bhakti is that the sādhaka should remember his beloved and worshipful, ever-youthful Nanda-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as well as the dear sakhīs, such as Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī, who possess the mood that he cherishes. He should hear narrations about them while remaining a resident of Śrī Nandarāja’s Vraja; that is, by physically residing in Vṛndāvana, Govardhana, Rādhā-kuṇḍa and other such places if he is able to do so. Or, if not, he should reside there mentally. These places are saturated with śṛṅgāra-rasa, and in bhajana, they are stimuli (uddīpaka) for rasa and līlā. Therefore, Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura prays: “rādhā-kuṇḍa-taṭa-kuñja-kuṭīra, govardhana-parvata yāmuna-tīra – a small cottage within a kuñja on the bank of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Govardhana Hill, the banks of the Yamunā… .”
Such sādhakas should remember the narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s dear associates, the rasika devotees of Vraja who are favourable for his bhāva, such as Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī and other sakhīs, and he should serve them. In this way, their moods will be transmitted into his heart. An example of this is Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī who, under the guidance of Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, attained the summit of the rasamayī-upāsanā (devotional service in amorous love) of Vraja.


The premi-bhakta’s behaviour, characteristics and activities are expressed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.40):

evaṁ-vrataḥ sva-priya-nāma-kīrtyā
jātānurāgo druta-citta uccaiḥ
hasaty atho roditi rauti gāyaty
unmāda-van nṛtyati loka-bāhyaḥ

In the heart of one who adopts such a transcendental vow, attachment for chanting the name of his most dear Lord arises and melts his heart. Now he rises above the condition of the general mass of people, and he is beyond caring for their opinions and views. In a natural way – not out of pretence – he acts as if mad. Sometimes he bursts out laughing and sometimes he sheds floods of tears. Sometimes, in a loud voice, he calls out to Bhagavān and sometimes, with a sweet voice, he sings Bhagavān’s glories. At other times, when he perceives his beloved standing before his eyes, he even starts dancing in order to please Him.

ei vrate kṛṣṇa-nāma kīrtana kariyā
jāta-rāga drava-ccitta hāsiyā kāṅdiyā
cītkāra kariyā gāi loka-bāhya tyaji’
ei vyavahāre bhāi, preme kṛṣṇa bhaji


The devotees of the Lord always chant the auspicious names of Bhagavān. As a result of this kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana, all kinds of anarthas are removed; the heart is purified; many lifetimes of sins and their result, transmigration, are destroyed; all kinds of good fortune arise; all the sādhana one needs to attain prema-bhakti is transmitted into the heart; kṛṣṇa-prema appears; one begins to relish the nectar of prema; one attains Śrī Kṛṣṇa; and finally one attains coolness and purity through completely immersing himself in the nectarean ocean of eternal service. At this stage, through the essential function of hlādinī (hlādinī-sāra-vṛtti), śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana boundlessly increases the living entity’s natural bliss. Now the living entity is eternally fixed in one of the rasas (dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya or mādhurya), and moment by moment, he relishes complete nectar through an ever-fresh attachment for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s sweet pastimes appear in the devotee’s heart and he repeatedly relishes the sweetness of all the Lord’s qualities, such as His beauty. This ever-fresh sweetness astonishes the devotee and his heart melts.

While describing the glories of śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana to Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, Śrīman Mahāprabhu said, “When I chant the name My guru gave Me, it automatically makes My heart melt. Sometimes this name makes Me dance, sometimes it makes Me laugh and at other times it makes Me cry.” This is the nature of the mahā-mantra; it makes kṛṣṇa-prema arise within whomever chants it. Kṛṣṇa-prema is the topmost goal (parama-puruṣārtha); the other four puruṣārthas – dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa – are insignificant in its presence. The nature of prema is that it gives rise to a restless heart, and the devotee who is controlled by this nature sometimes laughs, sometimes cries and sometimes, being maddened, starts dancing.

In his commentary on this verse, Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda writes that by chanting the holy name, the sādhaka experiences a variety of pastimes as they naturally appear in his heart. He laughs when he hears Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s joking words with the vraja-devīs during the rāsa-līlā or in the pastime of stealing butter, and he weeps when his vision of a pastime (līlā-sphūrti) ceases. He thinks, “I have relished the nectar of Your sweetness only once – when will I attain it again?” Lamenting like this, he rolls on the ground and, heaving long sighs, falls unconscious. Later, when he again sees Bhagavān everywhere, he is overwhelmed by happiness and becomes maddened. The devotee who performs such transcendental activities is devoid of bodily needs.


Firm faith in vraja-līlā is found in this verse recited by Śrīman Mahāprabhu (Padyāvalī (386)):

yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ sa eva hi varas tā eva caitra-kṣapās
te conmīlita-mālatī-surabhayaḥ prauḍhāḥ kadambānilāḥ
sā caivāsmi tathāpi tatra surata-vyāpāra-līlā-vidhau
revā-rodhasi vetasī-taru-tale cetaḥ samutkaṇṭhate

O friend, that beautiful one who stole my heart in my youth is now here. These are also the same pleasant nights of the month of Caitra, with the same fragrance of blossoming mālatī flowers and the same cool, gentle, fragrant breeze from the kadamba trees. I am also the same; my beloved, too. Nonetheless, my mind is eager for amorous play at the foot of the vetasī tree on the bank of the river Revā.

kaumāre bhajinu yāre sei ebe vara
sei ta’ vasanta-niśi surabhi-pravara
sei nīpa, sei āmi, saṁyoga tāhāi
tathāpi se revā-taṭa sukha nāhi pāi


Śrīman Mahāprabhu would recite this verse while dancing in front of Śrī Jagannātha’s chariot. At that time, He was immersed in the bhāva of Śrī Rādhā, considering Himself to be Rādhā and Śrī Jagannātha to be Vrajendra-nandana Śyāmasundara. He was feeling that They were meeting each other at Kurukṣetra – this was His mood. At Kurukṣetra, Śrī Rādhā could not experience the same happiness She used to feel when meeting Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the solitary nikuñjas of Vṛndāvana. Absorbed in the mood of Rādhā, Mahāprabhu revealed the distress She felt as She spoke to Her sakhī. “O sakhī, I am that same Rādhā and He is that same Kṛṣṇa, and We are now meeting each other again; nonetheless, My mind is eager that We should meet and sport together in the secluded nikuñjas of Vṛndāvana.”

Śrīman Mahāprabhu expressed His moods through this Text, taken from Sāhitya-darpaṇa. It is described there how a young unmarried nāyikā (heroine) became strongly attached to the qualities of a nāyaka (hero) and met with him on the bank of the river Revā. There, the nāyaka took her innocence. A kumārī, a very young, unmarried girl, naturally has no desire for union. When this desire arises, youth (kaiśora) begins. After some time, that nāyikā was married to the nāyaka. Upon the arrival of the month of Caitra, memories have come to the nāyikā of that charming, moonlit night in the vetasī-kuñja on the bank of the river Revā, and how the slow, gentle breeze carrying the fragrance of mālatī flowers stimulated their lust and increased their desire for union. Now, however, in the bonds of marriage, they do not have the same eagerness as then, even though there are no obstacles in their meeting. But her mind has gone to that bank of the river Revā, and happy memories have arisen in her heart of her first meeting with the beloved of her life and their amorous play under the vetasī tree.

In this verse, a mundane poet expresses the feelings of a mundane nāyaka and a mundane nāyikā, but through it, Mahāprabhu relished the sweetness of transcendental śṛṅgāra-rasa. In mundane poetry, such a union is considered impure and rasābhāsa, an overlapping of mellows, but Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are transcendental, with the supreme sweetness of rasa flowing through them. The meeting of an ordinary nāyaka and nāyikā is controlled by lust, kāma, that arises from illusion. When their lust is fulfilled, their feelings for each other become different. On the other hand, in transcendental amorous mellow (śṛṅgāra-rasa), the nāyaka and the nāyikā have prema for each other. This prema originates from the svarūpa-śakti’s function of hlādinī and saṁvit, and its purpose is to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa. In kāma one desires one’s own enjoyment, but in prema one aims for Kṛṣṇa’s happiness. This is confirmed in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.165):

ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā – tāre bali ‘kāma’
kṛṣṇendriya-prīti-icchā dhare ‘prema’ nāma

Śrī Rādhā’s desire to serve Kṛṣṇa is causeless and perpetual. The birth of a material desire, on the other hand, is caused and is therefore destroyed. The nāyaka and nāyikā who are tied by marriage have svakīya-bhāva, wedded love. Because they are with each other constantly, the variegatedness of rasa does not manifest in their meeting and the sweetness of rasa also remains concealed. However, the sweetness of a nāyaka and nāyikā’s prema in parakīya-bhāva, paramour love, manifests in an extraordinary way because their prema is endowed with an exalted, radiant rasa (samunnata-ujjvala-rasa). The sweetness of the vraja-devīs’ parakīya-bhāva is unprecedented. Because they do not always occur, their meetings with Kṛṣṇa are precious. Owing to the paramour relationship, their mood is characterised by contrariness, prohibition and secret amorous desires. This bhāva is the wealth of the vraja-devīs only. Its only nāyaka is the crown jewel of rasikas, Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The crown jewel of all the gopīs is Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī Śrī Rādhā. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.80) states: “bahu kāntā vinā nahe rasera ullāsa – without many beloveds (kāntās), there is no rapture in rasa.” Thus, to fulfil Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s desire to taste paramour love, Śrī Rādhā manifests Herself as many beloveds. This parakīya-bhāva is manifest only in Vraja.


Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has explained the previous Text by composing this verse, which is found in Padyāvalī (387):

priyaḥ so ’yaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ sahacari kuru-kṣetra-militas
tathāhaṁ sā rādhā tad idam ubhayoḥ saṅgama-sukham
tathāpy antaḥ-khelan-madhura-muralī-pañcama-juṣe
mano me kālindī-pulina-vipināya spṛhayati

[After meeting Śrī Kṛṣṇa at Kurukṣetra, Śrī Rādhā said:] O sakhī, today at Kurukṣetra, I met My same prāṇa-priya, Kṛṣṇa. I am that same Rādhā and there is also happiness in Our meeting. But nonetheless, I deeply yearn for Vṛndāvana, for the kuñja on the bank of the Kālindī that is inundated by bliss as a result of Kṛṣṇa vibrating the fifth note on His playful muralī.

sei kṛṣṇa prāṇanātha, kurukṣetre pāinu
sei rādhā āmi, sei saṅgama labhinu
tathāpi āmāra mana vaṁśī-dhvanimaya
kālindī-puline spṛhā kare atiśaya
vṛndāvana-līlā-sama līlā nāhi āra
vaikuṇṭhādye ei līlāra nāhi paracāra
vraje yei līlā tāhe viccheda, sambhoga
dui ta’ paramānanda, sadā kara bhoga


Absorbed in the mood of Śrī Rādhā, Śrīman Mahāprabhu would recite the previous verse (Text 9) from Sāhitya-darpaṇa in front of Śrī Jagannātha at the time of Ratha-yātrā. Only Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara knew the essence of the sweet mood of that verse. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī was also present at Ratha-yātrā. By Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s mercy, he too was able to understand the mood of that verse, and he composed this Text 10 in the same mood. When Śrīman Mahāprabhu read it, He became overwhelmed with transcendental emotions.

Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa met each other at Kurukṣetra after a long separation from each other. Although this meeting was pleasurable like Their very first meeting in Vṛndāvana, the heart of Śrī Rādhā was not satisfied. She expressed this heartfelt mood to Her intimate sakhī: “O sakhī, My heart is very anxious to meet Śrī Kṛṣṇa in a kuñja on the bank of the Yamunā. When Kṛṣṇa performs sweet sports in the forests situated upon the banks of the Kālindī, He manifests an unprecedented sweetness by vibrating the fifth note on His flute. In the forest of Vṛndāvana, the heart is stimulated by the ke-kā sound of the peacocks and peahens, as well as by their captivating dance; by the cuckoos’ kuhū-kuhū sound; by the humming of bumblebees around fragrant mango buds; by the life-giving air that is filled with the fragrance of mādhavī and mālatī flowers; by the male and female swans on the ponds; and by fragrant pollen from lotuses. In that Vṛndāvana, the ever-youthful best of dancers, who has a peacock feather and flute and who is adorned with forest flowers, used to sport with Me. Here, at Kurukṣetra, there is not the slightest scent of any of this. Here I do not relish even a drop from the ocean of pleasure I received from My meetings with Him in Vṛndāvana. What’s more, here I am surrounded by persons who are not like-minded. My innermost desire is to sport with Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the nikuñjas of that place which is well known to Me, Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvana.”

[CC-by-ND GVP]

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