Tag Archives: rasa

Bhakti Principles and the Mood of the Gopis

Question: In Paramātmā Sandarbha 93, Śrī Jīva states that the seed of bhakti is imperishable, which seems to contradict what Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, where he describes how bhakti can be totally uprooted by aparādha. I personally take the latter as implying that the creeper may be uprooted, but the seed remains. Any thoughts?

Answer: If we understand that bhakti is given by the grace of guru, then it is easy to understand that it can also be taken away. It is imperishable because it is not destroyed. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says bhāvo’piyabhāvamāyāti kṛṣṇa-preṣṭḥāparādhataḥ (BRS 1.3.54)—by offending a dear devotee of Kṛṣṇa, bhāva can become abhāva, or nonexistent. He did not use the word naṣṭa, destroyed. So it comes by grace and can go away by offense. Bhakti is not something material but a conscious entity. It cannot be destroyed.

Question: What is your opinion on Sanātana Gosvāmī’s description of the aprakaṭa-līlā in Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta? By this I refer to certain aspects that differ from other acaryas’ descriptions, such as Kṛṣṇa going out of Vraja, or chastising asuras, etc. The reference is verses 2.6.220—363, including Sanātana Gosvāmī’s ṭīkā towards the end.

Answer: My understanding is that Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī is primarily focused on explaining the essence of bhakti principles. In other words, his aim is to establish the superiority of Vraja-prema and not subtleties such as Kṛṣṇa killing or not killing asuras in aprakaṭa-līlā. This understanding is based on verse 1.1.11, and the verses and his commentary to 2.6.218—219, in which he speaks of the difference between the prema of the vaikuṇṭha-pāriṣada and the vrajavāsīs. The supreme characteristic of vraja-prema cannot be established without showing the separation between the vrajavāsīs and Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, in 2.6.220, he begins narrating the kāliya-damana-līlā and after that, Kṛṣṇa’s departure for Mathurā. In between, in just a few verses, he describes the killing of Keśī, Vṛṣabha, etc., and then gives a very extensive description of Kṛṣṇa moving to Mathurā. In this regard, verse 2.6.238 is very pertinent, which compares the vrajavāsīs with the rest of the devotees. So, this is the real intent of Sanātana Gosvāmī in describing these pastimes, and not so much the distinction between the prakaṭa- and aprakaṭa-līlā. Thus I see no contradiction.

Question: I have an inquiry in connection to Anuccheda 84 of Prīti Sandarbha, the section concerning mixed rasas. There, without using the term saṅkula-rati, Jīva Gosvāmī writes about the saṅkula of Yudhiṣṭhira, Uddhava, and Balarāma. Then he writes about the queens and gopīs in a way that Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī does not in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Śrī Rūpa does not acknowledge saṅkula-rati that includes mādhurya; he only mentions dāsya, sakhya, and vātsalya to be combining in this way, and this despite the fact that they are either incompatible with one another or neutral. But he does acknowledge rasas mixing temporarily and the temporary influences in effect serving like sañcāri-bhāvas, which is different from saṅkula-bhāva. I would be grateful for your feedback.

Answer: The exact statement of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī is: evaṁ paṭṭa-mahīṣīṣu dāsya-miśraḥ kānta-bhāvaḥ, śrīmadvraja-devīṣu sakhya-miśra ityādikaṁ jñeyam – “Similarly the chief queens of Kṛṣṇa have kānta-bhāva mixed with dāsya and the Vraja Devīs have kānta-bhāva mixed with sakhya.”

In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.5.24, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī makes two divisions of dasya, sakhya, and vatsalya, namely kevala and saṅkula. Somehow, he does not include madhura here. My comment is that although he does not mention the two divisions of madhura-rati, he also does not categorically deny it. His reason to exclude madhura is not known.

My guess is that he wanted to keep madhura as separate to show its importance, and he elaborates on it in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi. In Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī includes sakhya and praṇaya as part of the sthāyi-bhāva of the gopīs in the chapter of sthāyi-bhāva. He even gives an example from SB 10.32.4.  

From SB, it can be seen that queens have kānta-bhāva mixed with dāsya. This can be seen in verses such as 10.52.43 (yasyāṅghri…), 10.60.34, 10.83.41—43.

As far as the gopīs’ rati mixed with sakhya, this can be known from 10.31.4, 6, wherein they address Kṛṣṇa as their sakha. Kṛṣṇa also addresses the gopīs as sakhya (friends) in 10.32.17, 20.

Question: Your opinion seems to be that the gopis’ bhava is saṅkulamādhurya mixed with sakhya. If that is the case, how do you accommodate the fact that Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī speaks of kevala-mādhurya also? If we accept that the gopīs’ mādhurya is mixed with sakhya, and that the Dvārakā mahiṣīs’ mādhurya is mixed with dāsya, then we only have examples of saṅkula-mādhurya, but no example of kevala-mādhurya.

Answer: Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī is not analyzing only the gopis’ bhāva but bhāva in general. Just because the gopīs have saṅkula-mādhurya does not mean that kevala-mādhurya does not exist.

Question: Yes, but still the question remains: If we accept that there is kevala-madhurya but also accept that the gopis’ mādhurya is saṅkula due to being mixed with friendship, and the mahiṣīs’ mādhurya is also saṅkula due to being mixed with dāsya, then what would be the example of kevala-mādhurya? If it exists, then there should be an example of it. Again, if we only take what Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī wrote, then we can declare that the gopis are that example, but if we include what Śrī Jīva mentions about the gopis’ mādhurya being mixed with sakhya, then I have difficulty in harmonizing their views.

Answer: It depends on whether you want to limit your examples to the few given in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. There may be some gopīs who are kevala-mādhurya and similarly some queens too. All gopīs and queens do not have exactly the same mood. Kṛṣṇa is rasarāja. He must have all varieties—kevala, saṅkula. This needs to be studied thoroughly from the rasa point of view. Moreover, there are other forms of Bhagavān such as Rāma.


Are Bhakti and Rasa Inherent in the Jiva?

The following Questions and Answers are not included in the Jiva Tattva book. 

Question: In the first prayer of the Vedas to Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.87.14, translation by Bhanu Swami), it is said—aga-jagad-okasām akhila-śakty-avabodhaka te, “You who awaken all the energies of the moving and nonmoving embodied beings …”  In this connection, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments, “You, by your mercy, awaken all the śaktis for executing jñāna and bhakti.” Similarly, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī comments, “Since matter is inert, and the operating of its śaktis is similar, to awaken them, you use your svarūpa-śakti, with spiritual form. Awaking the spiritual cit-śaktis is also caused by the svarūpa-śakti since it is the shelter of all śaktis.” All this seems to indicate that bhakti is an inherent potency in the jīva that is awakened by Bhagavān’s grace. Any comments?

Answer regarding Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s commentary: You have cited the second half of the sentence from Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s commentary. The first half of the sentence says, “After creating intellect, senses, etc. of all jīvas, just as you awaken all śaktis for performing material actions (karma-karaṇa-śaktīḥ) and also the śakti to experience the outcome of their karma (karma-phala-śaktīḥ) ….” The remaining sentence states—“… in the same way, for attaining You in the form of Brahman, Paramātmā, or Bhagavān, by Your grace, You alone awaken the śaktis to execute jñāna-yoga and bhakti …”

By this, if you conclude that bhakti is in the jīva and is awakened by Bhagavān’s grace, then by the force of the same logic, you have to accept that the material energy to perform material karma and to experience the outcome of material karma would also be within the jīva. This energy is certainly material. But I am sure that this is not acceptable to you because it goes against śastra, which states that the jīva is beyond the guṇas. I do not need to cite references for that since they are well known.

To avoid this issue, the opponent may say that in the first case, the meaning of the verb udbodhayasi (which is a gloss on the word avabodhaka in the verse) is “gives” and in second case, it is “awakens.” Then the jīva is free of the guṇas.

My reply is that such a solution has the defect of vākya-bheda or splitting the meaning. This is considered a defect as per Mīmāṁsā. It is also called ardha-kukkuṭī-nyāya. To put in simple words, it means that I accept only the back part of the hen, because it delivers eggs, and not the front part, because that needs to be fed. In other words, I accept what is convenient and reject what is troublesome.

Even if we accept such a solution, it goes against the verse itself. In the verse, the Śrutis address Bhagavān as “one who upholds all energies within Himself” (samavaruddha-samamsta-bhagaḥ). If the potencies of material action or jñāna or bhakti are accepted within jīva, then it militates against the Śruti address. But if the meaning of udbodhayasi is taken to be “gives,” then there is no contradiction. It also matches with the opponent’s view of parokṣavāda, stated later in one of the pūrvapakṣas. 

Answer regarding Jīva Gosvāmī’s comment: Here also I would like to go back one sentence and show what Jīva Gosvāmī really means. He is commenting on the third quarter of the verse—aga-jagad-okasām-akhila-śakti-avabodhaka. “Aga means “always stable,” or the Vaikuṇṭḥas; jagad means “the unstable or temporary,” or the Brahmāṇḍas. These are the residences (okasām) of the jīvas. The jīva has two types of potencies—material [constituting the material body] and spiritual. You are the avabodhaka (lit., “one who awakens”) of all the śaktis. Avabodhaka means the giver of potency even to the two śaktis, śakti-dāyaka.” Here Jiva Gosvāmī very explicitly glosses the word avabodhaka as “giver.” So I do not understand how this indicates that bhakti is inherent in the jīva.

Question: In Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.21.37, Śrī Kṛṣṇa mentions to Uddhava that He personally established the oṁkāra within every living entity, which would be another way to say that the Vedas are inherent in the jīva, since they emanate from oṁkāra. And on top of that, since oṁkāra is the Absolute Truth with all potencies (brahmaṇānanta-śaktinā), then we could say that the Absolute is in the heart of all jīvas in the form of oṁkāra, which includes all of the Absolute’s potencies, including His svarūpa-śakti. But now they lie in the jīva in a dormant condition, and are awakened when receiving the mantra from the guru.

Answer: Such types of arguments do not carry much weight because they take something out of context. In this chapter, Kṛṣṇa is explaining the principles of vice and virtue related to karma, as well as the secret meaning of the Vedas.

If we accept this argument, then we can also say that the mantra that one receives from guru “to awaken one’s dormant bhakti” is also within one’s heart. After all, all the mantras are contained within oṁkāra; then there is no need to accept a guru. Such a conclusion is very absurd and contradicts Kṛṣṇa’s own words when He says that one should accept a guru (SB 11.10.5, 11.20.17, 11.27.9).

If the opponent argues that the mantra is in the heart but is dormant; and therefore, we need the mantra from the guru to awaken the dormant mantra in the heart—then, by the same argument, we will need bhakti from the guru to awaken the dormant bhakti in the heart. 

Then the question arises, what is the use of that dormant bhakti in the heart if we need to receive bhakti from the guru? Rather, it has gaurava-doṣa, the defect of prolixity. Moreover, there is no śastric statement supporting such a view. On the other hand, there are plenty of references stating that bhakti has to be received from a devotee or Kṛṣṇa. For that, please see my book Jīva-tattva.Jiva Tattva cover page

Now coming to the exact meaning of the Bhāgavatam verse 11.21.37. The verse does not say that the oṁkāra is placed inside the ātmā. It is in the material body. Read the preceding verse, which explains how the Veda manifests in the prāṇa, manas, and indriya. Then verse 11.21.37 explains how it manifests because of Bhagavān. There is no mention that oṁkāra is inside the jīva or ātmā. This is more clearly stated earlier in verse 11.12.17. There, the word guha, or cave, is used to indicate the heart as the seat of nāda. Jiva Gosvamī and Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura have written elaborate commentaries explaining the four levels of sound called parā, paśyantī, madhyamā, and vaikharī. The first three are unmanifest and the fourth is what comes out of mouth. All these are outside the jīva in the material body. The first three are in the cakras Mulādhāra, Maṇipūra, and Viśuddhi respectively. Thus, there is no dormant oṁkāra with dormant śaktis inside the jīva.

Question: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.6.39 also says that oṁkāra automatically manifests in a purified heart, but when the senses are active externally, they cannot hear it. And this verse mentions that oṁkāra has avyakta-prabhava, or unmanifest power. In other words, all of the power of the Absolute is placed within the jīva in the form of oṁkāra, but at the present moment, such power is avyakta or unmanifest in the conditioned state.

Answer: There is no mention in the verse that oṁkāra is inside the jīva. Even you write, “oṁkāra automatically manifests in a purified heart.” It is stated that oṁkāra is avyakta-prabhava or has unmanifest power. It is svarāṭ or self-manifest. Svarāṭ means that it manifests by itself, not because of some sādhanā. This is the nature of spiritual things—the Holy Name, the Dhāma, Bhagavān, etc. But that does not mean that they are inside the jīva.

Question: A similar idea comes from the word tene in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.1.1, which is said to come from tanoti, which is translated as “expand.” In other words, this section seems to indicate that Vedic knowledge was not imparted to Brahma, but was expanded from his inner heart, thus implying that knowledge of the Vedas lies inherent in the heart of everyone and, in this regard, so does bhakti itself, since śāstra is nondifferent from Bhagavān and His potencies.

Answer: Please read the commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī on this verse. He clearly writes that Bhagavān is the giver of knowledge as well as the giver of mokṣa: tena itīti. Tadevaṁ jñāna-pradatvena mokṣa-pradatvam api darśitam. Śrīdhara Svāmī glosses tene as prakāśītavān or illuminated. Viśvanātha Cakravartī glosses tene as prakāśayāmāsa or illuminated. This means that Bhagavān illuminated Brahmā in knowledge of the Vedas. No commentator writes that Bhagavān expanded the Vedic knowledge already existing within Brahmā’s heart. In SB 2.9.30, Bhagavān Himself tells Brahmā, “Take this knowledge spoken by Me”—gṛhāṇa gaditam mayā. He did not say, “Now let me expand the knowledge lying in your heart.” Moreover, remember that the heart is not part of the ātmā. So your proposal, “thus implying that knowledge of the Vedas lies inherent in the heart of everyone,” does not prove that it is inherent in the ātmā.

Question: Bhagavad Gītā 2.16 mentions “from that which changes, there is no existence, and from that which is eternal, there is no change.” So according to this verse, it seems that if the ātmā is something now (without bhakti) and becomes something else (with bhakti), then that condition is defined here by the Gītā as nonexistent. And on the opposite side, for the svarūpa to be an eternal reality, then there cannot be any change, which would suggest that since the svarūpa of the jīva doesn’t change, then bhakti is eternally there.

Answer: You must have a different reading of this verse. There is no word for “change” in the standard reading. The words used are asat (not real), bhāva (existence), abhāva (nonexistence), and sat (real). I see no word for “change.”

Question: Also in Gītā 7.26, Śrī Kṛṣṇa mentions that He knows everything that has happened in the future, everything that is taking place in the present, and everything that will occur in the future. So, in connection to the latter statement, we could say that the svarūpa of the jīva is inherent in the sense that Kṛṣṇa knows it. If Kṛṣṇa already knows which svarūpa we will have, then how it is not fixed?

Answer: Yes, that could be one meaning, but not the only meaning. The other possible meaning is that He knows which svarūpa you will get. Then also, it can be fixed. Fixed does not mean that it is fixed inside the ātmā.

The meaning of the verse, however, is something else. You can refer to the commentaries of our ācāryas for that. The meaning given by you is totally out of context. Kṛṣṇa has a certain intention that He wants to convey to Arjuna. We should try to understand that and not impose our ideas onto His words. Misinterpreting śāstra is a major offense, because it does not please Kṛṣṇa. Twisting His words to suit your purpose cannot be pleasing to Him.

Question: Verses 2.4.190 to 2.4.192 from Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta seem to indicate that Kṛṣṇa places different tastes in the hearts of every living entity. Sanātana Gosvāmī seems to confirm this in his commentary to these three verses. So even if bhakti/prema/siddha-deha is not inherent, the subtle form of our svarūpa is a taste for a particular type of seva, which is inherently present in the jīva. And in this line, sādhusaṅga wouldn’t be the cause of the particular taste in the jīva, but rather would be the cause for that taste to become manifest.

Answer: You are contradicting yourself in your own words. First you write, “places different tastes in the hearts of every living entity.” Then you write, “taste for a particular type of seva, which is inherently present in the jīva.” Are you equating “heart” with jīva? How is that possible? The heart or citta is material and thus changes. The jīva is spiritual and unchanging. In the commentary, there is no mention that the taste is inside the jīva.

Question: Some devotees say that the reason for us accepting a particular type of sādhusaṅga and not another in our first contact with sādhus is because there is already some inherent taste in us that drives us towards a particular form of association.

Answer: I will agree if you can give some śāstric reference for this. Wherever there is mention of getting sādhusaṅga or bhakti, the most common word used is yadṛcchayā (see SB 11.20.8, 11.20.11, 11.2.24, 6.14,14). According to the context, this word is translated in different ways such as “somehow or other,” “by the will of God,” “by the will of providence,” etc. But nobody translates it as “according to inherent taste.” This word is also used in Gītā 2.32 in the sense of “by its own accord.”

Question: Some devotees will say that since Kṛṣṇa is fond of parokṣavāda, our Gosvāmīs have presented this siddhānta indirectly, and in time some contemporary Gauḍīya luminaries have shown their actual intention, by mentioning how even if bhakti or prema is not inherent, at least some particular taste for a specific rasa is already included in each jīva.

Answer: Anyone can say anything. That does not make it siddhānta. The siddhānta is already explained in śāstra and in the works of the Gosvāmīs. There is not a single statement anywhere that says that bhakti or taste is inherent in the ātmā. Parokṣavāda does not mean that it is never stated explicitly. It means that it is not stated directly to unqualified people. Moreover, even if it is never stated directly, the function of a commentator is to unpack the hidden meaning. Otherwise, no one will ever understand it and then śāstra would lose its very purpose. 

Question: Some devotees say that since the spiritual body is fully conscious, if it’s not within us, then it is another entity separate from us. So when we eventually enter the spiritual body, who of the two will “be in charge?”

Answer: They will not be two, but one. There is no duality in the spiritual world. This is the principle of acintya-bheda-abheda. The duality exists at the material level. Duality is due to the ātmā being conditioned by prakṛti.

Question: Some devotees apply the theory of “nitya-vartma-kāla” in this connection—in the spiritual world, there is a permanent “eternal present.”  They say that the moment we will enter the spiritual world is “now,” but since we are in māyā, we have no experience of what it means to live in an eternal present.

Answer: I have no idea what the argument is here. All I can say is that it is not enough that some devotees have this or that notion. Our authority is śāstratasmāt śāstram pramāṇam te (Gītā 16.24), and not somebody’s notion. Moreover, we have to have the organic meaning of śāstra. It is not enough to cite that part of śāstra which seems to suit your purpose and to reject the rest. That is called ardha-kukkuṭi-nyāya.


Please find more questions and answers on this topic in our Jiva Tattva publication. 


There Is no Upgrade for Sthayi-bhava

Question: At the end of the Caitanya Candroday Nataka Mahaprabhu tells Advaita Acarya:

dAsye kecana kecana praNayinaH sakhye ta evobhaye
rAdhA-mAdhava niSThayA katipaye zrI dvArakAdhIzituh
sakhyAdAv ubhayatra kecana pare ye vAvatArAntare
mayyAbaddha hRdo’khilAn vitanavai vRndAvanAsaGginaH

“Some devotees are in a mood of servitude, some are fixed in a fraternal mood, some are fixed in the love of Radha and Madhava, others in the Lord of Dvaraka and again others in My different descensions such as Rama and Nrisimha. I will lock you all in the chains of My love and give You attachment to Vrindavana!”

On the surface it seems from this verse that Mahaprabhu’s associates are just conditioned souls who are being redeemed by Him, though they are supposed to be nitya siddhas. Plus there seems to be the possibility of being promoted from dasya rasa, Dwaraka rati whatever, to Radha-Madhava.

Answer: Mahaprabhu failed to persuade Jiva Gosvami’s father Vallabha to switch from Rama-bhakti to Krishna-bhakti. Nrisimhananda Brahmacari was worshipping Nrisimha, but the object of his love was Gaura. It’s just like Nanda Maharaja, who loves Krishna but worships Narayana.

It is clear from Brihad Bhagavatamrita (2.4.139-140) that all apparent inanimate objects in the spiritual sky are the Lord’s nitya siddha parshadas. They are items of the sandhini shakti. Are they jivas and nitya siddhas or even sadhana siddhas?

Answer: They are nitya siddhas.

So if they speak they are sentient, conscious?

Answer: They can speak, but then there is some aisvarya, because that is superhuman.

Furthermore in this regard, in the Venu Gita the gopis pray to the clouds, trees, birds, etc. Is that just poetry or are they all also sentient beings who can respond?

Answer: Both. They see them all as sentient. It is the nature of the uttama adhikari.

So the uttama adhikari projects his own feelings on the surroundings? Should we also see it with the bhramara gIta (Radharani’s Song to the Bee) like this?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Only Radharani and the eight sakhis are svarupa sakti or all the gopis?

Answer: All the gopis.

Question: Generally, is there shanta rasa in Goloka? Mahaprabhu proclaimed He came to bestow four rasas, yet in the Gosvamis books five rasas are described.

Answer: Yes there is a description in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu of very little girls in Vrindavan who are in shAnta rasa.

What about the stop-over theory, that one graduates from Vaikuntha to Goloka upgrading one’s sthayi bhava?

Answer: sthayi bhava is sthayi bhava. If it is upgraded it was never a sthayi bhava. Vaikuntha is not a stopover. You are quite correct with the examples of Murari Gupta and Vallabha, who could not be persuaded to give up Rama for Krishna. One might go there for sight-seeing as in an excursion, but not as a stopover.

After all, whatever you meditate on is what you will attain, right?

Answer: Right. It is called tat-kratu nyAya.

Question: What is that? I thought kratu means sacrifice?

Answer: No, in this case it means sankalpa. Whatever one vows to attain and is willing to do sadhana for, that one will attain.

Pearl Story / Vrindavan Art
Pearl Story / Vrindavan Art

Sahajiyas, Tapasvis and Rasa

Question: It is said in shastra – ataeva kama prema bahut antara – kama andhatama prema nirmala bhaskara.

Prema and kama are totally different from each other. In their tikas to BRS 3.5.2, Sri Jiva and Sri Visvanatha confirm this: nivRtteSu prAkRta-zRGgAra-rasa-sama-dRSTyA bhAgavatAd apy asmAd rasAd virakteSv anupayogitvAd ayogyatvAt

Because they see it as the same as material sringar rasa, some are unqualified for transcendental sringar rasa. However, sahajiyas claim Mukunda Goswami says exactly the opposite: nivRtteSu tApasAdiSu anupayogitvAd aprayojakatvAt.

The tapasvis are unqualified [because they are bereft of the mundane sexual experience?]. What does Mukunda Goswami mean with this sentence?

Answer: How did you get that meaning of Mukunda Gosvami’s comment? He is giving the meaning of the word nivrttesu as tapasadisu, and of the word anupayogitvad as aprayojakavad.

He is saying that tapasvis have no purpose to achieve with it. What will a tapasvi do with this rasa? It does not fit in his sadhana, rather it is contrary to it.

Question: But is this not confirming that non-tapasvis like sahajiyas are helped in understanding srngara rasa with their material sexual activities? Or does tapasvi refer to non devotional ascetics like mayavadis?

Answer: Tapasvi here refers to sannyasis, which usually belong to Advaitavada. Or they could be yogis. It does not say anything about sahajiyas. To take any such meaning is too far-fetched. Sri Rupa is talking about adhikari, and he says that sannyasis have no adhikara in it because of anupyogitvat or serving no purpose, rather it is detrimental to their sadhana.

Rasa Tattva

Question: I wanted to ask you how your sect understands Brs. 2.5.128, as different Gaudiya sects hold rather different understandings of it. I will cite three different understandings, and, if you have the time and interest, I would appreciate knowing your parivara’s take on it.

1. The verse refers to a general notion of suhrt-rati that can apply to any devotee who loves another devotee more, less, or equally with Krsna. It belongs in the section on sancari-bhavas. Jiva Goswami’s example in his tika of Lalita is just that, an example of to illustrate the principle in this case for srngara rasa. At the same time the second half of the verse can be construed to be speaking of the manjari’s love for Radha in particular but it also applies in a general way to devotees who may love someone dear to Krsna more than Krsna.

2. The verse strictly deals with the sancari bhava for a friend, which is equal to or less than love for Sri Krsna. Thus the manjaris are precluded from the outset as the subjects of this verse. It is inconsistent to the suddenly change the subject of the verse from the aforementioned sancari bhava which is equal or less, to a completely different kind of suhrd-rati, alledgedly that of the manjaris, which is permanently higher than their krsna-rati.

Devotees commonly attempt to separate this verse into a description of different asrayas of the sancari-bhava, as if the first two lines refer to parama-prestha sakhis, but somehow the second two lines refer to the manjaris. This is a terribly tortured interpretation, which does not in any way correlate with any original sources. The verse refers to one asraya whose sancari bhava of suhrd-rati oscillates in accordance with the lila between being in its regular state and a state of hyper-sensitivity called bhavollasa.

“When the rati of a friend (according to Srila Jiva Gosvami, such as Lalita) for a friend (according to SJG, such as Radha) is equal or less than rati for Sri Krsna, it will be a sancari bhava, but IF THAT (SAME) SUHRD-RATI BECOMES MORE (than krsna-rati) while being nourished, it is called bhavollasa.”

References to UN 13.1 and 13.104 are cited as support.

3. The verse refers to the sakhis who have equal or less love for Radha than they do for Krsna. This love is sancari-bhava. But the second half refers to manjari-bhava and calls this bhavollasa, which is an extraordinary sancari that does not come and go but rather exceedingly nourishes the manjari’s love for Radha.

Again, I understand you may not have time or interest in this query, but again, if you do, I would appreciate knowing how your lineage understands it. Otherwise I hope my intrusion here has not been a disturbance.

Answer: We accept the first of the three explanations given above.

Question: Thank you for that. I tend to agree, but the words “evam madhurakhye rase” in the tikas seem to speak of bhavollasa occurring only in the case of madhurya. And does not bhavollasa as a an appositional noun modify rati—bhavollasa-rati—lending room for others to see it as a sthayi-bhava?

Answer: This is just an example. It does not say that it is exclusive. However it is a fact that it is seen primarily in madhurya rasa. Example is given of something which is known.

To call it as bhavollasa rati does not make it a sthayi bhava because the verse is specifically talking about one who has sthayi bhava for Krsna. Even if it is considered as a sthayi bhava it is not independent of the sthayi bhava to Krsna. It can not survive without that.

Question: Yes, I agree with you.

Others have cited UN 13.104 and VCT’s tika to say BRS 2.5.128 speaks only of nayikas and bhavollasa is not for any other devotees. They also claim that the manjari’s love is a sancari-bhava for Krsna and a shtayi-bhava for Radha, which I have very strongly disagreed with.

Answer: I am no expert on rasa-tattva. I usually avoid questions on this topic because people in general have no idea about rasa. They use the word with – I do not know in which sense, and thus I avoid such discussions.

Experience of Rasas

Question: I am trying to understand if a liberated jiva in the spiritual world is bereft of any aspect or Rasa of the Supreme lord. As per Sri Vaishnavism, a mukta jiva is all FIT to experience all rasas with the lord.  To understand the Gaudiya concept better, I came across the Govinda bhasya. Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana seems to talk about this in Govinda Bhasya  (tad-bhava-bhavitvadhikaranam, VS 3.3.56). The Adhikarana starts with a reference from Candogya and the commentator says:

“cchandata ubayavirodhad ity adibhyam darsitam

This means two features of the Lord (sweetness and opulence) are not incompatible with each other.

Answer: According to Sri Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, and to Sri Jiva Gosvami in Sat Sandarbha, before a jiva enters into the spirtual world he/she attains sthayi bhava also called bhava bhakti, which leads to prema bhakti. Sthayi bhava means the permanent mood. This does not change in the spiritual world. There are five primary and seven secondary bhavas.

They do not accept that a mukta jiva experiences all the bhavas. In fact, in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu Sri Rupa Gosvami writes that some bhavas are not compatible and just do not get along together. For example dasya bhava and madhurya bhava are incompatible. A dasa would not and can not relish the intimate relation of Bhagavan with His consort. So is also the case with vatsalya and madhurya. How can parents feel happy to hear the bedroom exploits of their son?

Yatha avesha tatha pravesha: Whatever is the absorption while living as a sadhaka that is what you enter into.  Sri Krsna also says a similar thing in the verse yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajate ante kalevaram. This is the general principle. In any case a jiva can never taste all the sweetness and bliss of the Lord because it is unlimited.

Question: Thank you for the response. However I am unable to understand or accept that rasa of a jiva is adhyatmika or integral with a soul. If so, the jiva can not express any kind of relationship than that rasa. Then how does the jiva interact with other friends and relatives than the Lord?

Answer: May be you are not clear what rasa means. A wife has a relation with husband. How does she deal with the parents, brothers, sisters or husband? In the same way a devotee has a specific rasa with the Lord and deals with everyone else in relation to the Lord. It is a big family with Lord being the center.

Question: Also, this concept of a mukta jiva being stuck or limited to one experience contradicts the very definition of moksha bhogamatra samya. A mukta jiva should experience completely all aspects of the Lord. He becomes sarvajna as well.

Answer: No, we do not accept that in our philosophy. There is no need for it. Why does Yashoda have to know that Krishna is God? If she does, her vatsaly bhava will diminish. Even Krishna does not know that He is God when He is with Yashoda. Yogamaya covers them so that they can relish pure vatsalya.

Bhogamatra samya and sarvjna are used in a limited sense, at least in Chaitanya school. No one can have bhoga equal to Krsna, or be a sarvjna like him. In fact Krishna Himself does not know Himself fully because He is unlimited. How can anything unlimited be known fully? So the meaning of the word sarvjna has to be contracted even in case of Krishna.

Question: It is however logical to indicate that in one service, the rasa is contained with one aspect, like it is the same water that takes many forms. In fact Candogya says a mukta takes multiple forms to enjoy the Lord. However as per Govinda bhasya at least, there is no difference in the enjoyment of the muktas.

Answer: No, that is not true. How can a jiva who is atomic in size enjoy like the Lord?  That is akin to Advaitavada which claims that at the time of liberation you are Brahman. I cannot refer to any book at present but in the commentaries of Bhagavata these things are explained time and again.

Question: Thank you so much for the response. I agree I am not well versed in Rasa sastra. Which one should I read?

Regarding bhogamatra samya, at least Srila Baladeva agrees that the enjoyment is same unless there are other texts where he mentions about this.

Answer: First of all, there is no concept of material enjoyment for a devotee. A devotee wants to serve. That is the basic difference between a devotee and non-devotee, and the basic qualification to go to Vaikuntha. So even if it said that there is samya it has to be understood from a devotional point of view. Why does a devotee want bhoga samya? What is indicated is that the devotee is eligible to serve the Lord in all ways and in all forms. He has paripurna brahmanubhava from nitya niravadhya kainkaryam.

Sahitya Darpana is a good book to begin.