Sadharanikarana and Manjari Bhava

I realize that I went on and on about ahaṅgrahopāsanā and āropa and concluded by identifying the latter with sādhāraṇīkaraṇa and mañjarī-bhāva. I realize now that it might not have been so clear. So I am going to try to explain mañjarī-bhāva in the light of this concept of sādhāraṇīkaraṇa.

Sādhāraṇīkaraṇa is generally defined as the "universalization" or "generalization" of emotions, but I think that this terminology is obscure, when the perfectly good concept of "identification" comes closer to our understanding. The word "identification," which is useful in understanding both ahaṅgrahopāsanā and āropa, is here a term particular to psychology, "to regard oneself as sharing characteristics with another person." Unfortunately, this definition from the Oxford dictionary does not do credit to the unconsciousness of such a process, which is in fact what happens when one reads a novel or watches a film and identifies with one or more characters in it. This process of identification may take place on a visceral level, where one does not share any characteristics with the person other than his emotions, which is of course the intent of an author.

In the rasa shastra tradition, sādhāraṇīkaraṇa plays a central role in the experiencing of rasa. For instance, Jiva says:

atha tādṛśī ratir eva prācīna-bhaktānāṁ bhāvaiḥ
sahārvācīnānāṁ bhāvān sādhāraṇyam ānayati
yena sādhāraṇya-prāpakeṇa bhāvena rasa-sthitir api tādṛśī syāt
"Such rati brings about a commonality of the emotions of the previous devotees with those of the present-day ones. This commonality-causing emotion brings about such an experience of rasa." (Commentary to BRS 2.5.101)
In other words, when one has internalized the sthāyi-bhāva, then the experiences of the previous devotees, i.e., the devotees in the lila, etc., and those of the present-day devotee, become one.

The BRS verses being commented on are as follows:

alaukikyā prakṛtyeyaṁ sudurūhā rasa-sthitiḥ
yatra sādhāraṇatayā bhāvāḥ sādhu sphuranty amī
eṣāṁ sva-para-sambandha-niyamānirṇayo hi yaḥ
sādhāraṇyaṁ tad evoktaṁ bhāvānāṁ pūrva-sūribhiḥ
śaktir asti vibhāvādeḥ kāpi sādhāraṇī-kṛtau
pramātā tad-abhedena svaṁ yayā pratipadyate
The rasa situation (i.e., the state in which one can relish rasa) is extremely difficult to attain, due to its transcendent nature ( alaukikī prakṛti). There, emotions clearly manifest themselves through the process of identification. The commonality of emotions (i.e., identification) is where one is unable to distinguish whether the emotions are one's own or those of the devotee being described or portrayed (or indeed being remembered). [Here quoting Bharata]: "There is a certain power in the commonality of the various component elements like the vibhāvas, etc., through which the audience becomes one with the emotion and makes it his own."
And again, from the Sāhitya-darpaṇa, quoted by Jiva and Vishwanath Chakravarti:

parasya na parasyeti mameti na mameti ca
tad-āsvāde vibhāvādeḥ paricchedo na vidyate
In the relishing of the vibhāvas, etc., no distinction remains and one can no longer tell whether they are one's own or not, or whether they are the other's or not. (SD 3.12)
Because of this process of sādhāraṇīkaraṇa, even apparently unhappy feelings in the person being portrayed in a work of literature, including the devotees in the nitya-līlā being described in the Bhāgavatam or elsewhere, brings about an experience of extraordinary, powerfully wondrous joy (prauḍhānanda-camatkāra). And joyous feelings, even though present in another person (āśraya) are gathered up in one's own heart as supreme happiness (paramānanda-sandoham).

The reason that all these verses are quoted is because this concept of "identification" (as I have chosen to translate it) is central to the idea of the experience of rasa, and thus central to most of the ideas that have been presented here previously.

Now the essence of sakhī-bhāva is said in UN 7.70, 8.1 to be trust, or viśrambhā. Rupa Goswami defines viśrambhā as a particular kind of profound belief (gāḍha-viśvāsa-viśeṣaḥ, BRS 3.3.106) and Jiva glosses that as parasparaṁ sarvathā svābheda-pratītiḥ, a sense of total mutual non-difference, i.e., identification.


[The following text is quoted from Mañjarī-svarūpa-nirūpaṇam by Kunja Bihari Das Babaji Maharaj (my translation)]:

The manjaris are sakhis and most definitions of the word sakhi apply to them. Sakhī-bhāva means unqualified love for the leading lady or yūtheśvarī. That love is without limit and is free from even the slightest touch of selfishness, to the extent that the sakhi thinks that her yūtheśvarī is dearer to her than her own life or her own self.

As a result of maintaining this intimate trust, the sakhis are able to understand Radha spontaneously, without her having to say anything, or make the slightest hint or gesture.

Kavi Karnapur has also defined the sakhi in the following way:

nirupādhi-prīti-parā sadṛśī sukha-duḥkhayoḥ
vayasya-bhāvād anyonyaṁ hṛdaya-jñā sakhī bhavet
Those who are dedicated with an untainted love, who feel happiness and distress in accordance with the moods of the nāyikā, and who are similar to her in age and temperament, and are thus able to know her heart, are called sakhis. (AK 5.279)
A further special feature of the nitya-sakhis or manjaris is that just as Srimati Radharani and the other yutheshwaris are spontaneously and instinctively filled with an intense thirst to relish the flavor of Krishna’s form, taste, fragrance, touch and sound, so similarly the manjaris are spontaneously and instinctively attracted to both Radha’s and Krishna’s qualities. To what extent and how they are so attracted can be explained as follows. The nature of madhura-rasa is clear: the gopis want to please Krishna by offering their own bodies. Even Brahma prays to be able to drink “again and again from the cup of his senses the honey-like nectar of Krishna’s lotus feet.”

According to Caitanya-caritāmṛta, “the nectar of Krishna’s lotus feet” means his direct bodily contact. From this we can understand that the nāyikās serve Krishna by directly relinquishing their bodies to him—-that is their qualification for being in the madhura-rasa. The manjaris, on the other hand, are unenthusiastic about such type of service. They never contemplate such a possibility, even in their dreams. Yet, the question may be asked, if there is no possibility of madhura rasa or romance without physical intimacy, how can the platonic spirit of the manjaris be graced with the name of samarthā rati or kāma-rūpā bhakti?

In answer to this question, it should be said that the object of the manjaris’ affection is the Holy Couple of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna together. Therefore, the perfection of the manjaris’ power of sight and the thirst of their eyes is to see that couple locked in embrace. The craving of their ears is to hear the Holy Couple’s sweet murmuring conversations and that is the fulfillment of their sense of hearing. The desire of their tongues is to relish the flavor of the condiments touched by the Holy Couple’s lips, and in that way their sense of taste attains perfection. Similarly, the sweet fragrance that arises at the Holy Couple’s union is the object craved for by their nostrils and its experience is the fulfillment of their sense of smell. The tactile sense finds plenitude in massaging the Holy Couple’s feet and bodies, and this is the only object of their sense of touch.

In this way, it may be said that of the four types of sambhoga (sexual union) mentioned by Jiva Goswami (i.e., by sight, conversation, touch and the sexual act itself) the first three are present in the manjaris to some extent. The question is, how do they experience samprayoga, or intercourse? We get some light on this point from the following passage from the Govinda-līlāmṛta:
Just as the moon enlivens the lilies, so Krishna is the bright moon who enlivens the lily-like hearts of the residents of Vrindavan. His pleasure-giving potency is personified in Radha, who is like a creeper whose fruits are prema. Her girlfriends are like the unlimited branches, leaves and flowers which expand out from her self and are thus equal to her. For this reason, when that winding creeper of love is watered with the heavenly potion of Krishna’s sporting activities, then the leaves and flowers (the sakhis) find hundreds of times more pleasure than if they were themselves to be sprinkled. All this seems quite normal.

Just as the all-pervading, omnipotent Supreme God Almighty needs his majestic spiritual potencies to become fulfilled, similarly, the love of Radha and Krishna, though very elevated, self-manifest and joyful by nature, does not find fulfillment for even a moment without the presence of her girlfriends, the sakhis and manjaris. What person, genuinely learned in the science of sacred rapture, would not therefore take shelter of them?
Prabodhananda Saraswati also states in the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta,
The pleasure felt by the eyes of the sakhi alone in seeing Radha merged in the ocean of love for Krishna makes all the Supreme Lord’s festive arrangements for his own happiness seem insignificant by comparison.
Another quote from the Govinda-līlāmṛta (11.137) of Krishnadas Kaviraj illustrates the power of the vicarious pleasure of the manjaris:
If Krishna should touch Srimati Radharani,
then lo and behold! her sakhis start to tremble
they sweat and their body hairs stand on end
and tears well in their eyes.
And if Krishna should carefully sip
the spirituous liquor of Radha’s lips,
it is they who become intoxicated!
This is truly something wonderful.
In his commentary on this verse, Vrindavan Chakravarti observes that this verse contains the rhetorical embellishment (alaṅkāra) known as asaṅgati or “non sequitur.” Asaṅgati is defined as arising when causes are described as being inflicted on one entity have their effects reproduced in a completely distinct one. Here, the Lord is touching and kissing Radha, but the effects of trembling and intoxication are described taking place in the bodies of the sakhis.

Another verse can be quoted here from the Āhnika-kaumudī of Kavi Karnapur where Krishna says:
O doe-eyed beauties!
When your girlfriends are absent,
you may have to look at a mirror
before you can say whether you are happy or sad.
They reflect every mood of yours
they perform all the services of a looking glass!
When tears fall from your eyes they also cry;
when you are excited, their hairs stand on end;
when you laugh they also do so;
and when you become depressed,
they also look down-hearted.
In the Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, there is yet another verse which illustrates the point:
Radha’s handmaids are unable to maintain their lives if they cannot see the pastimes of the beautiful Divine Couple; with great eagerness they had gathered about the window of the forest cottage in which Radha and Krishna were locked in embrace and one of them said, “Friends, what an amazing and wonderful situation is this they have gotten themselves into.”
If the sakhis can feel intoxicated when Krishna kisses Radharani, then it is not altogether surprising if they get an even greater pleasure by watching the intimate activities of the Lord and his mistress than they would from their own. The reason for this is that they are not lovers in the mundane sense, but are supreme, the transcendental Lord and his celestial mistress.

Krishna is romantic love personified. He has appeared in his form as the king of sacred rapture (rasa-raja) and thus he attracts all the minds of everyone in the universe, including his very self. Srimati Radharani is the supremely worshipable personification of maha-bhāva, the ultimate achievement in the domain of prema. Verily she is the embodiment of prema herself, for her entire body is vibrant with pure devotional love for Krishna.

Not only are Radha and Krishna transcendental, but so also are the sakhis and manjaris. In the Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta they are described in the following way:
These handmaidens of Radharani are unexcelled in this universe for their beauty is without bounds. The rays coming from the nails of their toes defeats the glory of the lightning bolt. Each one of them is an incarnation of Radharani’s expertise in loving dalliance and thus competent to herself become a competitor for Krishna’s affections. Yet such desires do not enter their minds for even a moment because they are completely desireless. In this way, they are eligible to eternally dive into the ambrosial sea of service to her.
Without bhāva or feeling, the ecstasies of sacred rapture cannot be experienced. Without feeling, the ecstasies of love cannot be appreciated. To relish Krishna’s sweetness, one must become similar to him in quality, otherwise it will not be possible. Just as Radharani’s competent affection is not separable from her identity, eternal and self-manifest, so too the sakhis and manjaris have love for the Divine Couple which is similarly uncaused, self-manifest and directly produced from their own identities. This is beyond normal experience and thus inconceivable. “Those things that are inconceivable are not accessible by mental speculation.” (acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet)

The actions of the Lord are supra-mundane, its ways and means are all transcendental; thus the unfortunate hear about them and even so develop no faith in him.

Sometimes the manjaris even faint from the ecstasies they feel when they watch the intimate pastimes of the Divine Duo through the spaces between the forest vines. Rupa Goswami has described such an instance in the Nikuñja-rahasya-stava (“Praises of the secrets of the forest-bower”):
O mind! remember Radha and Krishna,
shining in the groves of Vrindavan.
Their sakhis, saturated with love,
fasten their eyes on them
through the branches of the forest grove
where they are expanding their work of love
in wondrous variety; and overwhelmed
with ecstasy, they fall to the ground in a swoon.

The point then, is this: a sādhaka and a sādhikā in this world, cultivating the identities of mañjarīs, stand aside as witnesses and servants to the pastimes that they are engaged in with their own bodies, gross and subtle, knowing that these bodies are manifesting a tiny aspect of the glorious pastimes of Mahābhāva-svarūpiṇī Srimati Radharani and Rasaraja Sri Krishna. It is by identifying the bhāva in which they are experiencing externally, by detaching themselves from any sense of possession of the pleasure itself, but offering that pleasure as the possession of the Supreme Enjoyer and his Pleasure Potency, the devotee lovers participate in their pleasure in the way that the mañjarīs participate in the pleasure of Radha and Krishna.

It is essential to understand the mechanics here. It is about identification, but not in the sense of ahaṅgrahopāsanā. Āropa is the deliberate psychic mechanism whereby one ascribes Radhahood and Krishnahood to the external bodies and merges spiritually into one's mañjarī-svarūpa. The sense of oneness and difference is in a state of constant flux as described in the verses defining sādhāraṇīkaraṇa. The fundamental difference between the experience of a devotee hearing and chanting the works of Rupa Goswami, etc., and engaging in līlā-smaraṇam, is that an added element of sensuality is added. But since this experience is being had in the same way that a devotee partakes of prasada, it becomes transcendental, an act of mystic participation in the Cosmic Union of the Supreme Lovers.

Though the sexual act itself plays a powerful role here, one should recognize that bhāva has primacy. Here again we must refer to the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu where a significant difference between mundane and spiritual rasa has been made. Here I will quote Neal Delmonico's article "Sacred Rapture" (page 167-168):
One more peculiarity of Rupa's rasa theory should be mentioned here. Since kṛṣṇa-rati is the essential element of the bhakti-rasa experience, Rupa gives greater emphasis than the classical aesthetic theorists did the sthāyi bhāvas in their theory. For Rupa, the sthāyi creates the vibhāvas and is then expanded and enriched by them. While the vibhāvas, anubhāvas and vyabhicāris are, according to the classical theory, intimately related to the sthāyi, they are not caused by the sthāyi. In the real world, they are the causes, effects and accompanying emotions of the sthāyi. When portrayed in poetry or drama, they become vibhāvas, etc., and set in motion processes of cognition that awaken dormant impressions in the mind relating to the appropriate sthāyi. It has not been argued that it is the sthāyi that empowers the vibhāvas, etc., to do such awakening, nor that the sthāyi is the cause or source of the vibhāvas, etc.

Rupa, however, says that the sthāyi imparts to the appropriate objects their vibhāva-hood,, etc., and thus brings itself to a state of enjoyment. This is possible because the sthāyi itself is present in the minds of the bhaktas and not just an impression of the sthāyi. The result is that since the sthāyi makes the appropriate objects into vibhāvas, etc., and the sthāyi is carried around in the heart of the bhakta, rasa can be experienced in any context.
This means, in effect, that for the sahajiyā sādhakas, their personal experience of love are, through the cultivation of their sthāyi-bhāva, experienced in the context of Radha and Krishna lila, as the original manifestations of the eternal archetype, indeed as though Radha and Krishna are living out their lila in these bodies.

However, the distinction is this: that by making the slight distancing of identity (bheda) that is manifest as mañjarī-bhāva, by taking an attitude of service to the union rather than seeking the union for oneself, even for one's own sādhana, experience viraha as well as sambhoga as nourishers of the bhāva, one experiences rasa (sākṣātkāra of the Divine Couple) through sādhāraṇīkaraṇa.

Thus it is correctly stated, as a warning to the pravartaka-bhakta:

bāhire nayan nā deo kokhon
bhāvākrānta citta nāhi jad-avadhi
je bhāve abhāva hoibek bhāva
nāile bhāvābhāse hobe nā tad-buddhi

mahatera bhāva bhāvite bhāvite
tad-āviṣṭe sarva hobe vismaroṇ
antar-bāhye tabe ekākāra hobe
mahad-bhāve rasa hobe āsvādon
"Don't turn your eyes outwards before your mind has been saturated with bhāva. For a mind saturated with bhāva will find Krishna's presence even in those places where others cannot find him. On the other hand, if your inner mood is but a shadow, you will never have that intelligence or vision.

"By meditating constantly on the inner moods of the Great Souls, one becomes endrenched by their attitude and all mundane considerations are forgotten. At that time, inside and out become one and one relishes the taste of the rasa just as the previous great souls did."
Mañjarī-bhāva is thus, according to Rupa Goswami, the highest manifestation of the concept of watering the root delineated in the Bhāgavatam:

yathā taror mūla-niṣecanena
tṛpyanti tat-skandha-bhujopaśākhāḥ
prāṇopahārāc ca yathendriyāṇāṁ
tathaiva sarvārhaṇam acyutejyā
As a tree’s trunk, branches, twigs and leaves are nourished by watering its roots, and as all the senses are satisfied by giving food to the stomach, so similarly, all living beings are served by worshiping the infallible Supreme Person (SB 4.31.14).


Vraja said…
Jagat you wrote:

"Manjari bhava is thus, according to Rupa Goswami, the highest manifestation of the concept of watering the root delineated in the Bhagavatam:

yathA taror mUla-niSecanena
yathA taror mUla niSecanena
tRpyanti tat skandha bhujopazAkhAH
prANopahArAc ca yathendriyANAM

As a tree’s trunk, branches, twigs and leaves are nourished by watering its roots, and as all the senses are satisfied by giving food to the stomach, so similarly, all living beings are served by worshiping the infallible Supreme Person (SB 4.31.14)."

Understanding "manjari bhava" is not possible for anyone until they come to a very advanced state of bhakti. You provided a quote that illuminates this:

""Don't look outside until your mind has been saturated with bhava. For a mind saturated with bhava will find Krishna's presence even in those places where others cannot find him. On the other hand, if your inner mood is immature, you will not have the ability to see him there. By meditating constantly on the inner moods of the Great Souls, one becomes saturated with their attitude and all mundane considerations are forgotten. At that time, inside and out become one and one relishes the taste of the rasa just as the previous great souls did."

In a previous comment I wrote something similar:

"A bhakti yogi may get a glimpse of "the Other" from the Guru or sastra or mantra or other yogis, but the ego will not become secondary to the "Divine Meaning" until the bhakti yogi sees "the Other" within himself and learns to cease self identification with the internal world. Then the external world becomes the extended reality of the internal world i.e. "the Other" is directly seen everywhere in control of everything at all times, whether it be through the Guru, the sastra, the mantra, the other yogis, or the guy selling drinks on the street or the cat scratching at your leg or the trees rustling or the cars honking. It all becomes a canvas through which "the Other" is expressing itself to the enlightened yogi."

From the above quote of yours "At that time, inside and out become one and one relishes the taste of the rasa just as the previous great souls did." What is being described is real rasa with god, real interaction with god internally and externally. Only at that stage can the truth of "manjari bhava" be realized.

Your overall sahajiya (or whatever you want to call it) presentation is a premise predicated on your belief that you can create a syncretic theology (or maybe just an esoteric theology which appears syncretic) based upon philosophical analysis and subjective experience which can illuminate a deeper esoteric message then what has been traditionally accepted by the orthodox community.

I don't think you can accomplish your goal. From my perspective your premise is faulty. I do admire the amount of scholarship that you needed to have done in order to be able to construct your theology, but in the end, for me, it falls short not just because I disagree with many of your conclusions. The premise you labor under is that you seem to believe that you can intellectually create an esoteric understanding which you can be confidant of (to whatever degree) as being an objectively true esoteric version of bhakti yoga. I do not believe that is the proper attitude when approaching the objective transcendental nature of god's intimate life.

The philosopher can only accomplish so much in the endeavor to find objective absolute truth. In the finer details beyond the more broad categories of eternal truisms, the philosophical approach will not work. That is because in trying to discern what is real from what is unreal concerning the nature of the highest most intimate aspects of god's life we are left bereft of any actual objective reality to study. There may be sign posts and travel guides, but the destination will remain unknown until you actually stand on that soil.

We are limited by our lack of connection, our lack of direct revelation through personal one-on-one illumination. It is only by the giving of the higher reality is the higher reality really understood. Otherwise anyone could attain that highest reality by their own effort regardless of their personal qualification.

In reality only the qualified are given entrance. No one can understand nor enter into the perfect realization of the highest most intimate objective reality through an ascending process. You can read what are considered by many to be descriptions of the ultimate reality, but that information serves the purpose of elevating the consciousness of the reader, it does not introduce the reader to the highest reality. If it really did introduce the reader to the highest reality then that would be experienced by the reader. Is the purpose of sastra to give you a glimpse of the highest reality or is it meant to elevate your consciousness? Voyeurism is not the purpose of what is found in the descriptions by gaudiya acaryas of Radha Krishna rasa lila. It's purpose is purely for the purpose of affecting change in consciousnesss. There is no need of describing the highest reality in it's actual form if that description does not produce an elevation of consciousnes. The highest reality may be far removed from most descriptions of it because the highest reality in and of itself is not meant to elevate consciousness, it is meant for the enjoyment of it by those who have already been elevated to the highest level. If we are not experiencing the highest reality (direct relation with god) then even though we have studied in detail the proper information we should understand that we are lacking in our understanding. Otherwise why is that highest reality not experienced directly? The very highest truths are given out directly along with elevation to the highest level, they cannot be figured out indirectly through an ascending process of study or sadhana.
Jagadananda Das said…
Once again, thank you Shivaji, for your erudite comments. What you say is cogent, and it is the risk that anyone putting forth an opinion has to deal with. I cannot say much more than repeat something Sanatan Goswami has written: siddhasya lakSaNaM yat syAt, sAdhanaM sAdhakasya tat: "The symptoms of the siddha are the practices of the aspirant."

It became apparent to me a long time ago that if you aim at madhyama adhikari status, as one used to hear in Iskcon, one ends up as a kanishtha. To hit madhyama, you are better off aiming at uttama. I believe that you are with me on this: we have to think in terms of the ultimate goal and hope for the best when whatever is in between is concerned.

So it is important to understand here what is the median stage, what the median devotee is capable of, etc. The principle characteristic of the median devotee here would be the capacity to understand, which would require a degree of experience, i.e., a fairly thorough familiarity with Gaudiya Vaishnava theology and a fairly high degree of sattva-guna. Finally, I would say that the divine mercy involved in finding the right gurus and the right sadhana partner are pretty rare. So we are not talking Britney Spears level international record sales. So I'll just bumble on and we'll see what happens. A lot depends on Krishna's mercy.

The Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu states the following:

For those whose faults have been entirely removed by the performance of devotional practices, whose minds are peaceful (making them suitable for the appearance of pure goodness’ special features) and effulgent (and thus equipped with full knowledge), who are attached to hearing the Bhagavata Purana and who find happiness in the association of devotees, for whom the joy of service to Govinda has become the raison-d’être of their existence, and who are always engaged in the most confidential processes of developing love for Krishna, the particular loving relational attitude (rati = sthayi-bhava) towards Krishna that is effulgently manifest in their hearts due to the conditioning of both past and present lives,
is brought to the status of rasa. (Brs 2.1.6-10).

So that is a set of pretty elevated requirements.

As far as my own qualifications are concerned, I don't think you can discount entirely the experiential sources of my ideas. If I did not have something particularly strong inside of me, something more than mere scholarship, pushing me to express it.

Of course I am unsure of the degree to which my life experiences are sui generis and thus relevant or irrelevant to others. Of course, it may well be argued (as you have just done) that there is no power in them--after all, I am just an insignificant blogger with no material or spiritual assets, so that certainly diminishes the seriousness with which I will be accepted. At least, these are factors that likely will have greater bearing on my destiny.

Anyway, the concepts stand on their own and will take on a life of their own, with or without me. They are the life of Radha and Krishna in me.

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