Saturday, October 25, 2014

Manjari Bhava is Rupa and Raghunath's heart's desire

Oh mind! Absorb yourself in the glories of the Divine Couple in Vrindavan. If it wants to ride, let it ride the noble steed of Rupa, Raghunath and Prabodhananda's poetry through the fields of divya Vrindavan! Make a lifestyle choice!

ābhīra-pallī-pati-putra-kāntā-
dāsyābhilāṣātibalāśva-vāraḥ
śrī-rūpa-cintāmala-sapti-saṁstho
mat-svānta-durdānta-hayecchur āstām
My uncontrollable mind seeks a powerful horse to ride, for it is a powerful cavalier possessing the desire for service to the beloved of the son of the cowherd king. So let it ride on the spotless steed of Rupa Goswami's thought! (Raghunath Das, Abhīṣṭa-sūcanā, 1)

I have never quite happy with my translations of this verse. If it were mat-svānto instead of mat-svānta- it would be fine and the above translation would be without problem. I think that it was a metrical necessity, but the meaning still comes through that way.

Raghunath Das is talking about a mind that is already imbued with rāgānugā sentiment, lobha. And he is following the instruction of Rupa himself--

sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi
tad-bhāva-lipsunā kāryā vraja-lokānusārataḥ
One who desires the bhāvas of the eternal līlā should certainly serve here [in this world] in both the sādhaka and siddha-dehas, following the ways of the residents of Vraja.
So the question is, if one truly follows Rupa Goswami, will one not follow in the way that Raghunath describes it? If you ride Rupa Goswami's pure thoughts and desires in the sādhaka-deha, will you not also automatically be following Rupa Manjari in the siddha-deha, and vice versa?

This horse only has one destination and that is why Raghunath wants to ride it. His mind, imbued with a strong and noble desire needs a strong and noble steed to get there. And that steed is the teaching and poetry of Rupa Goswami.

What does it mean to follow? When we talk about sajātiya Vaishnava saṅga, what do we mean? Is the transmission of desire itself not a part of the process of sādhu-saṅga? Is Rupa Goswami simply objectively describing a general process of bhakti, or does he want to transmit something specific that he has himself close to his heart? And is it not that desirable thing that Raghunath Goswami is pointing us towards in this verse?

And isn't that what the Rūpānuga-paramparā transmits? Bhakti, the viśeṣa-sambandha-mayī bhakti of the Goswamis, is transmitted by their grace. If you don't get that, can you truly say that you have received their grace? So if you cry for Rupa Goswami's grace, this is what he will give you.

And if you don't follow his internal mood, can you be truly said to be following? Isn't the internal mood the real abhīṣṭa? After all, isn't Rupa Goswami famous as the one who knew Mahaprabhu's internal mood?

So even though the general instructions of Rupa Goswami include everyone, all rasas, and this indicates that whatever mood one one is attracted to is a possibility, he has his own mood, and the purpose of all his work is to bring one to understanding and partaking of that mood. Everyone has a place at the table. But not everyone gets the chef's platter.

Mañjarī-bhāva means more than just a taste for service to Radharani. It is the mañjarīs alone who understand Radha, who understand her love for Krishna, and who experience the highest bliss. And moreover, it is the sādhana of mañjarī-bhāva that is meant for understanding madhura-prema itself, which is necessary for entering Radha's world. The mañjarīs alone understand Radha and Krishna's love, and that is why Raghunath Das says that they alone can go where even Lalita and the other prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhīs can't go.

tāmbūlārpaṇa-pāda-mardana-payodānābhisārādibhir
vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ |
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ
kelī-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjarī-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye ||

This is not some atistuti or irrelevant to the entire scheme of Rupa Goswami's thought. If we don't understand it, or desire something else, then we have simply not finished our progression in the spirit of Rūpānugā bhakti.

Is there no difference between Radha's sakhis and dasis? Then why are they differentiated? Why does Narottam Das say not to mix them up? sama snehā viṣama snehā nā koriho dui lehā. Why does he make that distinction or consider it important?

A person who wants sakhī-bhāva is one who keeps the hope that Radha will make such an arrangement for them to enjoy with Krishna.  So I say that those sādhakas who still hanker for sexual enjoyment with Krishna, for all that they are Radha's intimate friends and certainly experience deep feeling for her -- the purpose here is not to minimize the sakhis -- but they are not totally identified with her as the manjaris are. They keep something separate for themselves. And those sādhakas who think they can have sakhī-bhāva are the ones who are still keeping that modicum of enjoying spirit.

The manjaris don't know anything but Radha, even in their dreams (rādhā-pādāmbujād anyat svapne'pi na jānatīm, VMA 8.35).

So if Narottam is speaking to those who share his desire, which is the same as Rupa Goswami's desire, then get with the program. That is what he is saying. We have a bias for Rupa and Raghunath.

If you want to be a queen in Dvaraka, it is also mentioned there in Ujjvala and BRS. Is that why Rupa Goswami spent so much ink proving that Radha is superior to them? Let everyone have what they want, but why not want what Rupa and Raghunath want? I see your reluctance to wholeheartedly embrace that as a sign of being deprived of their mercy. Sorry to say.

Yes, I think so. I wrote about this here on my blog some years ago when writing about Sharan Behari Goswami's book. Maybe the Gaudiyas refine the distinctions a little more than the gopī-bhāva and sakhī-bhāva difference. Sharan Behari was trying to show the superiority of Haridas Swami, so that colors his argument throughout. Just as do the other sakhī-bhāva sampradāyas. But the fundamental principle of tat-sukha-sukhitva is everywhere the guiding light.

If I were to adopt the language of sakhī-bhāva/gopī-bhāva (if I have understood the way Sharan Behari uses it and seems to be what you are saying above), I would say that the manjaris are the purest of the sakhī-bhāva, and the other sakhis have a hint of gopī-bhāva left.

What we take as the highest mood is this one:

pādābjayos tava vinā vara-dāsyam eva
nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devi yāce
sakhyāya te mama namo'stu namo'stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso'stu raso'stu satyam
O Goddess! I pray for nothing from you at any time
other than single-minded service to your lotus feet.
If you should say, “Become my friend, my equal,”
then my answer is, “I offer eternal obeisances to such friendship.
I bow down to it, but in truth I pray
that my taste for being your hand-maid
should ever increase, yes, increase forever.
This is my prayer, and this is my vow.
So why make the distinction between sakhya and dasya? The manjaris, as Ananta Dasji likes to say, are friends, but they are also servants. They don't function as equals with Radha in the way that Lalita and Vishakha, etc., do. To desire even a purely functional equality with Radha is considered to be a kind of lèse-majesté, and even a disruption to the intimacy of identity with Radha that comes through the self-effacement of the service mood.

No comments: