Tuesday, May 24, 2011

DKK: Daily classes at SRSG: Verse 5

I am trying to get my translation and commentary on the Dāna-keli-kaumudī along with an update of the article I presented at JNU last year for publication. As a part of that, I have been giving evening classes on DKK here to a small audience. The ashram is nearly empty and those who are left have to be extraordinarily motivated to come to listen to me speak, quite understandably. So I am happy to get an audience of one or two persons.

We have been moving rather more slowly than originally expected, and for the last three days we have managed to do only one verse a day, from three to five, the last of which we really only just began.

Verses three and four technically belong to the prastāvanā portion of the play. They describe and explain the ecstatic symptoms of the devotees. Today, I chanted my kirtan alone, as my small audience was late, and as I was reciting my own mangalacharana, I imagined my own audience -- Sri Rupa Goswami, the other Goswamis, the other great rasika saints of Vrindavan, then the associates of Mahaprabhu, then Radha and Krishna and the sakhis. By the time I was finished, the hall was full of the most divine but invisible audience.

I realized as I was doing it that this is what Rupa Goswami himself had been doing something similar when he wrote those verses. Were there so many people who knew Sanskrit who could relish this play? Were there so many ecstatic devotees who would display ashta-sattvikas as he describes it, especially out there by Nanda Gram, which would have been isolated and sparely inhabited?

He was writing on the one hand to create the image of an ideal audience of sat-samājikas, devotees who would be uniquely qualified to relish these rarified topics of Radha-Krishna līlā. It also served the purpose of justifying the līlā itself.

The Goswamis argue that the Rāsa-līlā could not have been a mundane or material affair, since Shukadeva himself was such a pure soul, situated in transcendence, a true Brahma-jñānī, so how could he have possibly been attracted by mundane activities, on whatever level?

Similarly, after describing the audience's ecstatic transformations in verse 3, Rupa Goswami glorifies the devotees as being intoxicated with the liquor of purest prema, and says in verse 4:


gabhīro’py aśrāntaṁ duradhigama-pāro’pi nitarām
ahāryāṁ maryādāṁ dadhad api harer āspadam api |
satāṁ stomaḥ premaṇy udayati samagre sthagayituṁ
vikāraṁ na sphāraṁ jala-nidhir ivendau prabhavati ||

Though these saintly lovers of God
are deep and inscrutable like the ocean,
whose other side cannot be seen,
and which never exceed its limits,
and though both they and the ocean are the resting place of Vishnu,
they are unable to resist
the onslaught of ecstasies
when love for Krishna rises,
any more than the ocean
can resist the pull of the risen moon.
Then the sūtradhāra states after reflection,


tatrāpi viśva-vilakṣaṇā sā nirbharam atimohinī keli-caryā |

Even so, the amusements of the Lord are unique in the universe and most enchanting.
The point is that in the tasting of material rasa, one needs an external stimulus, some production with the necessary ingredients to produce the rasa. A superior product produces a superior quality of rasa in the qualified audience. In bhakti-rasa, however, prema itself is sufficient, because the constant memory of the Lord is sufficient stimulus to produce unlimited experience of rasa on its own.

Even so, the work of glorification of the Lord, when heard by someone who is pure of heart with divine love, natural creates an overwhelming stimulus for ecstatic response. Shri Rupa is pointing out that a production related to Radha and Krishna does not have to be inferior; indeed, properly composed by an expert author and devotee, it will be enjoyed by all levels of audience:


nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād
bhavauṣadhāc chrotamanobhirāmāt |
ka uttama-śloka-guṇānuvādat
pumān virajyeta vinā paśughnāt ||

The virtues of the Lord
who is glorified in the greatest poetry
are sung by those who know no thirst;
it is the medicine for the material disease
and is a joy to hear [for all];
other than the soul-killers
who then will care nothing for them? (BhP 10.1.3)
In other words, only the purest souls with the most divine insight can truly glorify God because they have no taste for anything else. Even so, a sadhaka with taste that is not yet fully developed can still recognize that this is the remedy for the material condition. But even an ordinary person will still be able to take pleasure in such accounts when they are properly presented.

In order to explain this further, the sūtradhāra says:


premorjitā narma-vivāda-goṣṭhī
gopendra-sūnoḥ saha rādhayāsau |
haṁsān api śrotra-taṭīm avāptā
śuddhāmṛtād apy abhito ruṇaddhi ||

The banter and love-quarrels
of the son of Nanda and Śrīmatī Radharāṇī,
which are empowered by Divine Love,
would stun the swans on entering their ears
and turn them off even the purest nectar.
And it would do the same to the paramahaṁsas,
making them indifferent to the joys of brahman realization.
As we have been trying to explain in the various postings on Baru Chandidas's Śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, we feel that Rupa Goswami was trying to rehabilitate the person of Krishna from the depiction made of him by Chandidas. So here he starts with the words premorjitā, "empowered by Divine Love", indicating that the point of departure for all these līlās is a most pure love that can never be tinged by material lust.

Perhaps the Śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana can be said to describe the transformation of a rather disagreeable and immature teenager through the pure love of a girl, but it is hard to find evidence of it, especially since the last pages of the manuscript are missing. But even if Krishna were to come back to reunite with Radha in the last scene of SKK, it would barely redeem the lusty and aggressive youth, whose actions seem to be quite far from divine.

So Rupa Goswami reminds us once again of Shukadeva, and the spiritual and divine nature of this love, and even these arguments, narma-vivāda-goṣṭhī, which would attract even the paramahamsas.

In one of the verses that Shri Jiva Prabhu quotes most frequently to support his contention that Krishna returns to Vrindavan, and becomes the eternal partner of the gopis in the way that they want to be united with him, Krishna says to the gopis at Kurukshetra:

mayi bhaktir hi bhūtānām
amṛtatvāya kalpate
diṣṭyā yad āsīn mat-sneho
bhavatīnāṁ mad-āpanaḥ ||
Whoever engages in my devotional service attains immortality, i.e., liberation or eternal felicity. You are especially blessed on account of the deep love you have for me, by which you will surely attain me. (SB 10.82.41)
Prema is all auspicious; it has the power to attracts God and make him present. Divine love has the inevitable result of divine reciprocation. It cannot be otherwise. Any depiction of Radha and Krishna's loves that misses this ingredient must be left by the wayside because it ultimately will not provide a door to that experience of prema in transcendence.

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