Bhava-rasa in RRSN 147
Harilal Vyasa (HLV) has given a lengthy 157 verse introduction to his commentary in which he points out his principal intentions in his work. In it, he cites verse 146 (147 in the Gaudiya edition) as a case of rasa-bhāva-vivecanam, and the point he makes there is the following:
bhāvaḥ śyāme raso gaure yasya sādhāraṇo na saḥ |
[Since] bhāva is that which produces the rasa, rasa is therefore the more prominent [of the two]. One whose bhāva is in Shyam and rasa in Radha is not common. (103-104)This is meant to be a quick summary of HLV's understanding of the verse and a highlighting of its importance. Now let's look at the verse itself in a little more detail:
parāṁ vā no jānāty ahaha na satāṁ cāpi caritam |
rasaṁ rādhāyām ābhajati kila bhāvaṁ vraja-maṇau
rahasy etad yasya sthitir api na sādhāraṇa-gatiḥ ||
One who does not know the ways of the world, nor the scriptures, nor the family traditions, nor even the behavior of the saintly, if [in his heart] he reveres (ābhajati) the rasa [as being] in Radha, and the bhāva in Krishna (vraja-maṇi), then his unique and secret status is not one that is accessible to common folk.There are several ways of translating this verse and I am trying to be as literal as possible, even accepting that different nuances are possible. I have noted here that Ananta Das has two different possible versions and the Harilal Vyas edition, which has an extensive Hindi commentary along with and independent of the Sanskrit, mentions yet another from a commentary by Kripalal Goswami (KG), which is the same as one of the two interpretations given by Ananta Das (AD).
The main problem centers around the word vraja-maṇi, "jewel of Vraja," which AD and KG take to mean Radha, while HLV says it means Krishna. Since both are in the locative, it might be held that they are in apposition, with Vraja-maṇi taken as an adjective modifying Radha.
The translation following Kripalal Goswami's commentary is as follows:
One who secretly pursues rasa and bhāva in the jewel of Braj, Radha, knows not the ways of the world, nor the scriptures, nor the family traditions, nor even the behavior of the saintly. Such a person's condition is not common.Amir Chandra Goswami (ACG) examines the Kripalal interpretation but ultimately argues that even though the word maṇi is used numerous times to refer to Radha (26, 46, 50, 77, 91, 159,203), Vraja-maṇi only comes up once, in verse 97, where it clearly refers to Krishna (yā vārādhayati priyaṁ vraja-maṇiṁ). KLG thinks the verse is uniquely about Radha and that the word bhāva should be taken as an adjective (!) of rasa. There are other difficulties with HLV's interpretation, but I don't think they bear on this essential element, which is the central point of the verse, so let us look at it in more depth.
It seems rather clear to me that the author of the verse intends to make a comment on the relation of bhāva to rasa and their respective connection to Radha and Krishna. The word kila creates an effective break between the two, and so I believe that HLV has correctly assessed the author's intention. Although rasikas generally throw the word rahasya around with abandon, in this case I feel that the author is using it to point out a special insight of some importance to him. This is confirmed by the word [na] sādhāraṇa (not common), which has also been extracted in HLV's introduction. This word also has other implications, so we will look at it in more depth.
In his primary gloss, HLV first takes up the theme that one who pursues rasa and bhāva in Radha and Krishna, their destination (gati) is not that of others who abandon the regulations of dharma or even the other devotees who worship Bhagavan in some other form. This point has come up several times in RRSN, so there is no point to belabor it again here. HLV would prefer the reading rahasye yas tasya in the last line and I concur, though perhaps it does not change the meaning.
HLV first makes the point that the particular phrasing here suggests not just one who has attained a higher level of devotion, even prema, but simply is aware of this particular truth, i.e., that taste (rasa) and feeling (bhāva) should be in Radha and Krishna respectively, has attained a state (sthiti) that is extraordinary, meaning that it is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary person. So what can be said of those who have reached higher levels through sādhana, etc.?
Now HLV turns to a discussion of the meaning of the all important words rasa and bhāva. He begins by equating bhāva with bhakti, i.e. an awareness of the supreme worshipable nature of the object of devotion (sarvottama-māhātmya-jñāna-pūrvaka-pūrṇa-bhajanīyatā), citing kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayaṁ (SB 1.3.28) and the following verse from Prabodhananda Saraswati's Śataka:
dhanyo yaḥ kṛṣṇa-pādāmbuja-rati-paramo rukmiṇīśa-priyo’taḥ |
yāśodeya-priyo’taḥ subala-suhṛd ato gopakāntā-priyo’taḥ
śrīmad-vṛndāvaneśvary-atirasa-vivaśārādhakaḥ sarva-mūrdhni ||
Glorious are those persons who desire to climb out of the well of material existence and attain liberation; even more glorious are those who have dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord. More elevated again are those who have become attached to Sri Krishna’s lotus feet. Those who love the husband of the Queen Rukmini are superior again to such devotees, while more praiseworthy still are those who are dear to the son of Yashoda. More glorious again are those who have made friends with Subala’s comrade. Superior to those in the mood of friendship are those who worship the Lord as the lover of the gopis. Yet standing at the head of all devotees in the creation are those who worship him whose thoughts have been washed away by the flood of sacred rapture emanating from the daughter of King Vrishabhanu, Radha, and worship her above everything else. (VM 2.34)[This verse is interpreted in another way by Gaudiya acharyas like Kunja Bihari Dasji, who sees worship of Radha in the last line. If all the other forms and names were those of Krishna, HLV's interpretation should be seen as better, but it is debatable (gopakāntā). Anyway, this is discussed in the commentary to verse 138, and clearly the above translation reflects the sense in which the Radha-vallabhis understand it. The word atirasa here also fits in with the theme of his discussion here.]
[As another aside, the following verse from Svapnesvara's commentary to Śāṇḍilya-bhakti-sūtra, introducing the third chapter:
bhakta-tad-bhāvataś cātra bhajanīyo nirūpyate ||
Since the gradations of devotion are assessed by the relative superiority of the object of devotion, this chapter describes the object of devotion through an assessment of the devotees and their moods of devotion.This principle is also applied, it would seem, in Muktā-phala and, of course, in the works of Rupa Goswami.]
These verses thus summarize the position of the scriptures that Krishna is the supreme object of worship (paripūrṇatama). The word rasa, however, is used for "taste" (āsvādane), a taste that is the fullest sweetness and leaves one with the impression that there is no superior taste to this, inasmuch as that Krishna himself, who is known as rasa-ghana, the embodiment of rasa himself, is given the joy of taste by her.
Krishna and Radha are therefore stated here to be, respectively, the supreme objects (viṣaya) of rasa and bhāva in the heart of the sādhaka. In fact, it can be said that the Divine Couple is both, as both are equal in sweetness and worshipability, but even so, some distinction is being made in this matter. Were this not the case, and rasa was in Krishna and bhāva in Radha, then the sakhī-bhāva sādhaka would feel attraction to Krishna that took on an independent character and this would then become gopī-bhāva. [For this distinction, you will have to rummage through old blogs here.]
Similarly, if one had devotion for Radha as the ultimate object of worship, then this mood would fall into the category of Śakti-vāda. Therefore, one worships Radha according to the manner of relishing the sweetness, while one's worship of Krishna is associated with a knowledge of his glory in being associated with her as her dearmost beloved.
The rasa of the sādhaka in relation to Radha is that of friendship, sakhya-rasa. As will be said here in verse 148:
dibhir yad vai rādhā-madhupati-rahasyaṁ suviditam |
tayor dāsī bhütvā tad-upacita-kelī-rasam aye
durantā pratyāśā hari hari dṛśor gocarayitum ||
O Lord O Lord! I yearn to become the maidservant of the Divine Couple, Radha and Madhupati, and see with my own eyes their ever-expanding pastimes of delight, whose secrets are unknown to the Vedas, the gods, the devotees of Narayan, or even to Krishna's friends.And again as was said in verse 139:
rādhā-mādhavayoḥ kadā nu śṛṇuyāṁ mañjīra-kāñcī-dhvanim ||
When will I hear the tinkling of anklets and bells as Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, finally meeting after a hundred comings and goings, and now splashed by waves of amorous desires, waves created by the splendid moon of gazing at each other's faces, enjoy wonderful transcendental pastimes on a bed in a forest cottage? (Internet)In both the above verses, the erotic dalliances are those of the Divine Couple, but the rasa worship comes from the qualification to relish their ecstasy through directly witnessing it. (tad-ānanda-darśanāsvādādhikāritvena rasa-bhajanam)
This was also stated clearly in verse 138--
rādhāyā anurūpam eva paramaṁ dharmaṁ rasenācaran |
rādhāyāś caraṇāmbujaṁ paricaran nānopacārair mudā
karhi syāṁ śruti-śekharopari carann āścarya-caryāṁ caran ||
When will I walk on the pathways through the bowers where Radha plays, uttering Radha's names, following with sweetness and relish the supreme duty of devotion to Radha exclusively, joyfully serving Radha's lotus feet with all the various accoutrements? When, rising above even the teachings of the Veda and Vedanta, will I conduct myself in this most wondrous of ways?In the above verse, the word rasena indicates that devotion (paramaṁ dharmaṁ to Radha is to be done with sweetness and relish, and not in consciousness of her glories and greatness.
Moreover, such an awareness of greatness is dependent on scriptures, while rasa is entirely based in the transports of one's own heart.
On the other hand, one can look at rasa and bhāva from the point of view of the rasa scriptures. In the Alankāra-kaustubha it is said citta-drava sthāyī bhāvaḥ premākhyaḥ prathamo rasaḥ , "The first rasa is called prema, which has the melted heart as its sthāyī bhāvaḥ."
[This is not an exact quote from AK, the first half is found in 5.11 in connection with prema-rasa, an innovation of Kavi Karnapura's that never caught on. Here HLV says that this is simply a synonym for sṛṅgāra. To get to the bottom of this would require a thorough analysis of Alaṅkāra-kaustubha. Of course, for me, it is interesting that HLV even knows of Kavi Karnapura. Even though the quote is apparently inaccurate, he quotes the verse 5.11, of which this is the vṛtti, in the commentary to verse 149.]
Also, [from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.3.2, 1.4.1]—
bhāvaḥ sa eva sāndrātmā budhaiḥ premā nigadyate
The first stage of prema is called bhāva. When bhāva becomes very intense, that is called prema by the wise.And Bharata Muni says [not found in Nāṭya-śāstra. I think this is Mammaṭa.]
ratir devādi-viṣayā bhāva ity abhidhīyate ||
When bhāvas become greatly enriched, they take on the form of rasa. Affection or love for God is called a bhāva.[This is a huge topic in itself which is at the heart of whether bhakti is a rasa or not. I don't think that we could do justice to it here, especially as that is not directly the topic. Most later theorists make the distinction between the kind of devotion that is exhibited to distant and formless deities as compared to those in human form engaged in human pastimes. For instance, in Bhakti-rasāyana—
bhāvaḥ prokto raso neti yad uktaṁ rasa-kovidaiḥ ||
devāntareṣu jīvatvāt parānanda-prakāśanāt |
tad yojyaṁ paramānanda-rūpe na paramātmani ||
The argument made by the theoreticians that love for gods (gurus, sages, etc.) and such is to be considered a subordinate or transitory emotion and not capable of becoming a rasa is applicable to other gods who are jiva souls and not to the Supreme Soul, who is the very form of supreme bliss. (2.74-75)]But prakṛtam anusarāmaḥ, let us return to HLV's argument. He says that in this verse bhāva does not mean that Krishna is being looked at as God, but only as the object of service. Were it otherwise, there would be a destructive effect on the rasa. [Aiśvarya interferes with the experieince of rasa; this is why feelings for the gods are considered bhāvas.] Moreover, as bhāvas are necessary in the development of rasa, so because Krishna is necessary as an accompaniment for rasa, the sakhī-bhāva upāsaka has bhāva for him (rasodbodhako bhāvaḥ. rasa-sahacaratvena kṛṣṇe bhāvam).
Here HLV refers back to verse 141, particularly the last line:
pādau tat-pada-kāṅkitāsu caratāṁ vṛndāṭavī-vīthiṣu |
tat-karmaiva karaḥ karotu hṛdayaṁ tasyāḥ padaṁ dhyāyatāṁ
tad-bhāvotsavataḥ paraṁ bhavatu me tat-prāṇa-nāthe ratiḥ ||
May my tongue become helpless[Now we would really have to look at what is said there, because the word bhāva here is used in relation to Radha, and rati in relation to Krishna. Rati, of course, is a synonym for bhāva in the texts on rasa, including BRS, so there is no problem there. Moreover, the bhāva spoken of here is Radha's mood. The sakhi is praying for identification with Radha. Her love for Krishna is based in Radha's love for him.
as it relishes the taste of the nectar of Radha’s name;
may my feet wander over the paths of Vrinda’s forest,
which are marked with her footprints;
may my hands be engaged in her work
and my heart in meditating on her feet --
O that I may become absorbed in her festive mood (tad-bhāvotsavataḥ)
and thus have love (rati) for the Lord of her life.
In the commentary to verse 141, HLV discusses some of the same points as here and has also given a reference to this verse. He there says that the purpose of the last line is, again, to illustrate that Krishna is not being worshiped or adored separately from Radha, but only because of his relation to her. In both places, HLV quotes his own "terminological" (paribhāṣā) introduction, where he defined his terms and set the basic ground rules of his interpretation of RRSN, as given at the top of this article. (rasopasarjanī-bhūto bhāvo...): Bhāva is necessary for rasa, but rasa is preeminent.
HLV says the rasa is the erotic (śṛṅgāraḥ), and that the erotic mood exists mutually in the Divine Couple. The maidservants of Radha experience a kind of sakhya-rasa that is a combination of witnessing Radha and Krishna's śṛṅgāra, serving the Divine Couple, and experiencing ecstatic joy as a result. The experience of rasa comes from the symptom of complete loss of any other awareness other than of Radha (vigalita-vedyāntara, as found in the Sāhitya-darpaṇa definition, 3.2, vedyāntara-sparśa-śūnya). Moreover, the rasa that is based on a fundamental mood of service and friendship to Radha is the fullest manifestation of their minds' independence and possessiveness, whereas bhāva is dependent on rasa.
Bhajana that makes this hierarchical distinction between bhāva and rasa should be conducted in private because of its great confidentiality, and not in the open. Moreover, inexperienced and argumentative types will object to someone saying that rasa is incomplete in Krishna, or that bhava is dependent on rasa. So publicly you say that Radha and Krishna are to be worshiped equally, and you don't make hierarchical distinctions between bhāva and rasa. It is for this reason that this kind of bhajana and its performer are called "uncommon."
Prabodhananda Saraswati, however, has shown in the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta that this inequality produces the supreme rasa (14.55)—
tad-dhāmasv adbhuta-raha idaṁ śrīla-vṛndāvanākhyam |
āstāṁ vārtā tv iha dhṛtavatī tāratamyaṁ mamānyā-
svādya-premotsava-rasa-camatkāriṇī syāt paraṁ dhīḥ ||
Radha and Krishna are two components of a single tattva that is the essence of the Lord's form. And amongst his abodes, the wondrous mystery is this land known as Vrindavan. So be it, but when my intelligence has grasped that there is a hierarchy [in these matters] then it becomes wondrously capable of relishing the taste of a festival of love that cannot be had by anyone else.
na bhāva-hīno'sti raso na bhāvo rasa-varjitaḥ |
paraspara-kṛtā siddhir anayo rasa-bhāvayoḥ ||
Further discussion of this topic: HERE.