What is sthayi-bhava?

We are talking about rasa a lot, and an understanding of the terms is important. As one progresses in knowledge and experience, such understanding is likely to undergo refinement. I was just asked to clarify some terms, so here is a short article doing so.

āgamenānumānena dhyānābhyāsa-rasena ca |
tridhā prakalpayan prajñāṁ labhate yogam uttamam ||
There are three roads to wisdom: hearing from the wise, sharpening one's reasoning skills, and relishing the taste of repeated practice of meditation. One who cultivates this threefold wisdom attains the ultimate yoga.
The jñāna-mārga (the path of philosophical knowledge) has three divisions to its practice: śravaṇam (hearing from a knowledgeable source), mananam (contemplating what one has heard), and nididhyāsanam (intense meditation on the conclusion of one's intellectual processes). There is rasa in the practice of meditation, which is called śānta-rasa, about which an article is following shortly.

The experience of rasa, which is famously difficult to translate (Cf. "mellows", "aesthetic rapture," etc.) is dependent on something called the sthāyi-bhāva, which can be translated literally as "permanent mood."

Sthāyi-bhāva is an ongoing subject that is dealt with on the blog many times because of its importance in bhakti. But because the term is derived from the millennial tradition of poetics, etc., there is a lot of discussion about various subtle points. It is the basic raw material that makes the creation of rasa possible.

Sthāyi-bhāva really means the global personality of an individual based on his or her emotional makeup, refined or unrefined. There are eight of these sthāyi-bhāva in the traditional depiction starting with Bharata's Nāṭya-śāstra. These are rati (love), hāsa (laughter), śoka (grief), krodha (anger), utsāha (enthusiasm), bhaya (fear), jugupsā (disgust), vismaya (astonishment). Each of these is related to a rasa, i.e., when the fundamental or permanent mood of an individual is excited by hearing a story, etc., then that mood is awakened and experienced directly. That is called rasa.

Let's take śoka, or grief as an example. Grief resides within us as a potential emotional state. Through life experience one experiences losses and in accordance with the intensity of the experience, one's unconscious impressions are formed and become a part of one's makeup.

Thus when one hears or watches a cultural, artistic or entertainment product (poem, novel, film, play, music, work or art, etc.) then this provokes an emotional or, more accurately, sentimental response. In this case (śoka), one experiences the rasa known as karuṇa, which is often translated as "the pathetic sentiment." Actually this translation does not convey adequately the meaning, compassion is probably better.

It just means that when you watch a sad story and you are able to identify with the situation and the characters -- partly because of natural human instinctual empathy, and partly because of personal human experience -- your eyes well up with tears, your heart feels heavy and goes out to those who suffer, indeed becomes (temporarily) a universal experience of identification that makes you sympathetic to all human suffering and inclined to alleviate it.

This is of course an ideal kind of situation, because sentiments are manipulated for propaganda purposes like crazy. You could even say that rasa theory was originally intended as propaganda, religious propaganda to make people follow the path of the straight and narrow. But "compassion" can be manipulated for political purposes and converted into one of the other sentiments -- anger, fear, disgust, heroism, the "male" rasas, are most popular in this process.

In Rupa Goswami's concept, the sthāyi-bhāva concept is a bit different. In the original description of Bharata, love or rati is the main rasa, and that is pretty much agreed upon by all the followers of the poetic tradition. But "love" starts to get subdivided into different categories, which some people try to bring into the rasa category, especially bhakti and vātsalya, which are the respectful love of a subordinate to a protector (child to parent, servant to employer, subject to ruler, etc.) and the reverse of that, respectively.

Bharata also discusses a sthāyi-bhāva called nirveda (disinterest) or śama (pacification of desire) which leads to the rasa called śānta or peace.

Rupa Goswami says that bhakti means love for the supreme object, Krishna, who is ultimately the object of all the kinds of love (akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti). He says there are five kinds of loving relationship, with numerous subdivisions of each. These are the five kinds of loving relationship -- śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and madhura. These are the customary names we are used to hearing. The technical terms Rupa Goswami uses in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu are a bit different.

But although the different kinds of love are common to human experience, it is not common to direct that kind of love towards Krishna, nor indeed to have any specific feeling to God, especially not in the form of Krishna.

This can only happen when one hears from and gets the grace of a devotee who is the seat (āśraya) of this kind of love. As a result, it is an important point in Vaishnava philosophy to say that bhakti and its mature development into the sthāyi-bhāva of love is a result of a descending process of the internal potency into the heart of a person, who then becomes a devotee. Through hearing about Krishna from a devotee, one's feelings for Krishna are aroused and one experiences rasa. The first purpose of sādhanā is thus to cultivate a particular sthāyi-bhāva or relation (sambandha) with Krishna.


Anonymous said…

"anantaś ca asmi nāgānāṁ"
Anonymous said…
Beautiful writings JagatJi. i may not agree with some of the so-called "sahajiya" concepts that you articulate, but you certainly have the clarity of mind and heart to infuse so much "juice" in your posts. Your blog-posts are never dry and cerebral, and you have "that something" that everyone on the GV path aspires for, an alive spring of inspiration which i can only assume comes from the depths of your Bhakti sadhana, and i bow down to that heart that can have such insights well up within it, and to that mind which puts it on paper.
Anonymous said…
One may wish to read the verse which straddles pages nine and ten:

Jagadananda Das said…
yatra ko'pi vyavacchedo nāsti nāsti yad viśvataḥ sphurat
yad anāhata-saṁvitti paramāmṛta-bṛṁhitam
yatrāsti bhāvanādīnāṁ na mukhyā kāpi saṅgatiḥ
tad eva jagadānandam asmabhyaṁ śambhur ūcivān

Where there is no destruction or absence of bliss
Where bliss is found shining from all sides
Where it is universally strengthened by the Supreme Consciousness,
Where the six limbs of yoga are no longer used or required
this state is jagadānanda. All this was spoken [to me] by Shambhu.

Tantraloka 5.51-52
Jagadananda Das said…
Anonymous (re. "Beautiful writings...')

I aspire to be worthy of your recognition of the few good qualities in me. Thank you very much.
Jagadananda Das said…
Anonymous (re. "Beautiful writings...')

I aspire to be worthy of your recognition of the few good qualities in me. Thank you very much.
Jagadananda Das said…
Anonymous (re. "Beautiful writings...')

I aspire to be worthy of your recognition of the few good qualities in me. Thank you very much.
Jagadananda Das said…
Anonymous (re. "Beautiful writings...')

I aspire to be worthy of your recognition of the few good qualities in me. Thank you very much.
Jagadananda Das said…
Anonymous (re. "Beautiful writings...')

I aspire to be worthy of your recognition of the few good qualities in me. Thank you very much.
Anonymous said…
"Kundalinivijnana Rahasyam"

This article is spread across the following editions:

Part II - July 1996 (Pages 6 - 11):


Part III - September 1996 (Pages 6 - 11):


Part IV - January 1997 (Pages 6 - 11) :


Part V - April 1997 (Pages 7- 13):


Part 1 seems to be missing from the Ishwar Ashram Trust website, Part II (July 1996) only starts at 3:146 of the Tantraloka; the previous verses of Swami Lakshmanjoo's translation of the Kundalinivijnana Rahasyam may be found here:


(See pages 1 - 9).
Anonymous said…
Further to the translation of the Kundalinivijnana Rahasyam published by the Ishwar Ashram Trust.


"In 1978 I began an English translation of this treatise of six pages for Swami Lakshman
Joo and left it with him when I had to leave Kashmir having reached only the fourth
line of the fifth page. This draft, which, I presume, was found among his papers, was
published as it stands, incomplete, unrevised, and, since it was unsigned, without
indication of its translator, in Bhatt 1995, pp. 27-29."

Source: Samvidullasah: Manifestation of Divine Consciousness (Page 121).

From the Vimalaprabhā kālacakratantra 4.119 onwards. said…

My person never ceases to be amazed by you, my भक्ति Guru; you are very dear to my heart.

If you have time (smile), watch this interesting lecture.

N.B.* When watching this lecture, please keep in mind Śábda 49 of the Gorakh Bani (rather than anything else physical). See readers comment dated Monday, 17 October, 2016

The very talented James Mallinson now seems to be firmly on the right path; an excellent lecture for those seeking the truth:

Alchemy and Haṭhayoga (James Mallinson)

Will you be able to unravel the alchemical metaphor in practice?


उद्घात (ud-ghāta) “raising, elevating.”


See also उद्धन् (ud-dhan) “to move or push or press upwards or out, lift up, throw away.”


Wörterbuch der mittelalterlichen Indischen Alchemie (Oliver Hellwig)

Anonymous said…

Will just put this here:


Readers may also wish to look for a copy of the Vasiṣṭhasaṃhitā.


The first lecture (listed above) by James Mallinson mentions the Vimānārcanakalpa (Vaikhānasa tradition) and Vasiṣṭhasaṃhitā (Pāñcarātra tradition).

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