The natural loves and prema

Muraliswara das said...
I'm trying to understand your conception, Jagadānanda Ji, but I'm afraid that I fail to do it. As far as I understand you make essentially one simple point: human love IS Love Divine.

Let me quote from your writings: "You should understand that the love that exists between you and your wife is the very same feeling as that which exists between Radha and Krishna."

Or, as you've said in this article, "What it does mean is that the love that you feel for the child is the same qualitatively though not quantitatively as that cosmic vātsalya-bhāva exemplified and symbolized by Yashoda."

How is it possible? I'm neither theologian nor intellectual but I've heard something about Krishna-prema from certain Vaishnavas, and I heard from them one simple thing: human love is kāma, Love Divine is prema and kāma is a PERVERTED REFLECTION of prema, and kāma and prema although looking similar are opposite in nature, they are like Southern and Northern Poles. Then how can they be "same qualitatively," as you say?

You know better than me what Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad told on this point: "As there is a difference between iron and gold, so there is a difference between material lust and Kṛṣṇa's loving affairs with the gopīs" (CC Adi 4.164).

Although such loving affairs may sometimes resemble material lust, the difference is as follows:

ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā-tāre bali 'kāma'
kṛṣṇendriya-prīti-icchā dhare 'prema' nāma
"The desire to satisfy one's own senses is called lust, while the desire to satisfy the senses of Kṛṣṇa is called prema, love of God" (CC Adi 4.165).

So, looking again at these questions, which are often repeated, I am going to try one last time to deal with them. But I have come to a rather unhappy conclusion: those who have been brought up with the conventional understanding of these questions, such as those following ISKCON or the Gaudiya Math, are unlikely to understand no matter how brilliantly I present my understanding. Their vision is in blinders, and trying to convince them is a fool's game. I would have a greater possibility with people who have no preconceived notions whatsoever.

First of all, I do not say that unreconstructed human love is "Love Divine." I say, rather, that the natural loves can be sadhanas of Divine Love within the context of bhakti-yoga.

You are correct in making the distinction between prema and kāma, and why would I, a follower of Kaviraj Goswami, reject this statement? This is exactly what we have been trying to understand and explain ever since we realized that Prema is the Prayojan and not anything else.

You may wish to watch the video and read the comments in the debate I had with Satyanarayana Dasaji.

There must be some similarity between the two kinds of love or the metaphor/allegory/example of love would be meaningless. If selfishness is at the bottom of every love relationship, then it would be meaningless to imagine such things in the spiritual world.

I am going to stick to shastra here. There are other posts that you can read, but this post will primarily focus on interpreting verses that are cited by Jiva Goswami in the Sandarbhas. Though there is some new material here, there is also a lot of repetition and referencing to earlier articles. This is by no means, however, an exhaustive discussion of the subject as there are nearly 900 articles in this archive, many of them dealing with different aspects of this sadhana.

In fact, I have come to the conclusion that it is pretty pointless to talk to people who have been indoctrinated in the nivṛtti-mārga, so I was hoping to do a once and for all final version of argumentation according to the rules of the vaidhi bhaktas -- i.e., śāstra and yukti. For the most part, our scriptures are not explicit in this matter. Though the underlying teaching is advaya-tattva, the beginner devotee gives so much emphasis to the duality of worshiped and worshiper and aiśvarya-jñāna that his intelligence is impenetrable. In some matters, indirect speech (parokṣa-vāda) dominates. See here and here.


It is easiest to understand through vātsalya, the parental mood. Krishna himself gives the example of parents' love being pure in the Rasa Lila:
bhajanty abhajato ye vai karuṇāḥ pitaro yathā
dharmo nirapavādo'tra sauhrdaṁ ca sumadhyamāḥ  
My dear slender-waisted gopīs, some people are genuinely merciful or, like parents, naturally affectionate. Such persons, who devotedly serve even those who fail to reciprocate with them, are following the true, faultless path of religion, and they are true well-wishers. (10.32.18)
Although there are self-interested parents, this example does not refer to the perversions that manifest in such love, but points to the highest selfless love in them.

Moreover, when we are devotees, we have already been imbued with the internal potency and so everything that we do can be transformed by bhakti. When we only worship the Deity on the altar (or in some other way) through regulated rituals, we are only at the beginning platform. When we learn to see Krishna in the midst of our personal relations, then we have the opportunity to experience human love in the context of devotion.

Another such verse is

ajāta-pakṣā iva mātaraṁ khagāḥ
stanyaṁ yathā vatsatarāḥ kṣudhārtāḥ |
priyaṁ priyeva vyuṣitaṁ viṣaṇṇā
mano’ravindākṣa didṛkṣate tvām ||
Just as a fledgling whose wings have not yet grown awaits its mother, or a famished small calf awaits the udder, or the way a distressed wife awaits her husband who has gone to distant lands, so Lotus-eyed One, my mind yearns to see you. (6.11.26)
In another verse, Krishna says that "chaste" wives control their "virtuous" husbands and uses it as a metaphor for his own being controlled by his devotees, as a definition of love. So clearly here the existence of love in the world is confirmed. Now if you call this "perverted" then it is meaningless to use it as a metaphor.

mayi nirbaddha-hṛdayāḥ sādhavaḥ sama-darśanāḥ |
vaśe kurvanti māṁ bhaktyā sat-striyaḥ sat-patiṁ yathā ||
The saintly devotees who have tied their hearts to me and view everyone equally, control me by their devotion just as a chaste wife controls her virtuous husband. (9.4.6)


Now perhaps the most important verse to discuss in this regard is found in Priti Sandarbha 61. The section is long but fairly clear. In the first 60 anucchedas, Jiva Goswami has established that the parama-puruṣārtha is bhagavat-prīti, love for Krishna. Now he is going to describe the intrinsic characteristic of such love, or its svarūpa-lakṣaṇa. In order to do so, he takes the help of a verse from the Viṣṇu-purāṇa in which Prahlada says to Nrisingha—

yā prītir avivekānāṁ viṣayeṣv anapāyinī |
tvām anusmarataḥ sā me hṛdayān nāpasarpatu ||
That love those without discrimination have for their love-objects never goes away. I pray to you that since I remember you always, this same love should never leave my heart. (VP 1.20.19)
Sri Jiva has selected this verse and the immediate problem is the relation between the two clauses, which are connected by the relative pronoun and the correlative . He immediately nips the confusion in the bud by saying, "What is meant here is that the love of an undiscerning person for his wife and family has the same characteristics as the devotee's love for Krishna, not that they are exactly the same. The former is a manifestation of the external energy and the latter of the Lord's svarūpa-śakti.

Now he has to explain what the characteristics of such prīti are: He begins by saying that the verb root prī from which prīti is derived has both a transitive and an intransitive form. The verse itself is not immediately clear on this point. As an intransitive verb it simply means to take pleasure in something, so if viṣaya is translated, as it often is, to mean "sense object" then it would have this sense. But as a transitive verb, the meaning includes this sense of happiness, but has an object. In the first sense, Jiva gives sukha as a synonym, in the second priyatā, which we can translate as love. (See MMW, p 710, col. 1). Sri Jiva's definition is:

viṣayānukūlyātmakas tad-ānukūlyānugata-tat-spṛhā-tad-anubhava-hetukollāsa-maya-jñāna-viśeṣaḥ priyatā |
Priyatā is a particular state of consciousness that is favorable to its object (viṣaya); it consists of a feeling of elation, which arises from an experience of the object of love, as well as a longing for it, both of which follow from this favorable mood.
Babaji's translation is somewhat different, so I will include it here for reference:
[Priyatā is] the consciousness of elation which one feels from the experience of doing favorable action to the object of love and then feeling the desire for the object of love to do favorable actions.
Sri Jiva defines ānukūlya in his commentary to BRS 1.1.11 as śrī-kṛṣṇāya rocamānā pravṛttiḥ, "conduct that is pleasing to Krishna." BRS 1.1.11 does defines bhakti as a "culture" ("constant practice or study, repeated and devoted service" - MMW, p.39, col. 3), so it may seem that this applies here also, but since Jiva's definition of priyatā is that it is a jñāna-viśeṣaḥ or "a particular state of consciousness," just as sukha was, I don't think that "favorable action" is necessarily relevant.

So, although love has the quality of sukha (ullāsa-maya-jñāna-viśeṣaḥ), it is superior to it.
After some discussion about the transitive and relational nature of priyatā, Sri Jiva concludes that in the verse under discussion prīti refers to this, not to mere pleasure. So therefore one's love for God has this same characteristic as one's love for one's sons, etc. The latter, however, is a product of Maya while the former is of the svarūpa-śakti.

iyam eva bhagavat-prītir bhakti-śabdenāpy ucyate
parameśvara-niṣṭhatvāt pitrādi-guru-viṣayaka-prītivat |
This love for God is also called bhakti due to its being directed to the Supreme Lord, just is the love for one's parents or guru.
Although the rest of the anuccheda is not directly relevant to our concern here, in his discussion of the main verse in the section (3.25.32), Jiva does make it clear that prīti is exclusive:

eva-kāreṇa netaratra, na ca tatrāpi ca, itaratrāpi ca |
 eka-manasaḥ puruṣasya yā vṛttiḥ, tad-ānukūlyātmako jñāna-viśeṣaḥ |
The word eva denies prīti toward anyone other than the Lord in any one of his forms, nor for both Vishnu and someone else simultaneously. Eka-manasaḥ vṛtti means this particular state of consciousness that is favorable to its object, i.e. prīti.
Since the definition of love given here is entirely based on the similarity of both the worldly and spiritual spheres, it would be ludicrous to argue that "there is no love in this world."


The above verse is also found quoted in Bhakti Sandarbha 217, side by side with the following:

yuvatīnāṁ yathā yūni yūnāṁ ca yuvatau yathā |
mano’bhiramate tadvan mano’bhiramatāṁ tvayi ||
Just as the minds of adolescent boys take pleasure in thinking of girls, and girls in thinking of boys, so may my mind take pleasure in you. (BRS 1.2.153, PadmaP 6.128.258)
The context here is that of offering up both legitimate and illegitimate activities. The verses are followed by the explanation:

mama sukarmaṇi duṣkarmaṇi ca yad rāga-sāmānyaṁ
tat sarvato-bhāvena bhagavad-viṣayam eva bhavatv iti samādheyam |
Whatever passion I feel whether in my good or evil deeds, may it be completely directed toward Krishna as its object. This is the way to reconcile the statements.
This is in the section on āropa-siddha bhakti.

So to summarize: the problem is not the love, it is the object of love. If you define love as "exclusive love of Krishna" and nothing else, then it is possible to say that the conditioned soul has no love. But by the definition Jiva Goswami gives above, love as the model of love for Krishna cannot be denied. In other words, if love of God is modeled on the love of human beings for other human beings, then we must accept that it exists in the material. If it is "perverted" it is primarily because of the distinction of vishaya. So if the object of love is tamasic, then one's love is tamasic, and so on.

For one who does not have love for Krishna directly, he can love the proximate and offer up that love to Krishna. That is aropa-siddha bhakti.


Now the question of ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā. From the foregoing discussion, we can see that Jiva Goswami's distinction of the two meanings of prīti becomes useful, since the desire to please one's own senses is the first kind of prīti, namely sukham, while kṛṣṇendriya-prīti icchā, being for another, is priyatā.

A further problem is the word ātmā. The Upanishads, which are really the basis of all Hindu philosophy, make many points about non-dualism that are accepted in the Bhāgavatam. In particular the discussion of the Self that is discussed in two places in the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad (2.4.5ff and 4.5.6ff). I have discussed these passages and the corresponding section from the Bhāgavatam (10.14.57) here and here. Please read before going on with this.

My understanding of the purpose of two passages is not to simply denigrate the love that one has for one's husband, wife, children, etc., but to recognize that one loves them for the sake of the self. Therefore one should know the true self in order to be able to love them truly and properly. When one knows that God is the Self of the self, then one loves them because one sees his presence in them. Indeed, because Krishna is the Self in all selves, one should properly love all. Loving Krishna is, in the final analysis, loving one's true self.

But this is not a state that is immediately accessible, therefore all paths talk about a beginning, middle and advanced stage. We are particularly interested in the middle stage where one loves those who are more closely connected to Krishna, whose association is beneficial to the culture of love for Krishna, i.e., those in whom we can recognize Krishna's presence more easily. We can thus call it a "transitional sādhana."

I have discussed these matters in the following articles in particular: Pravartaka, sadhaka and siddha, and Ahangrahopasana and aropa, Part IV.


The above-mentioned "transitional sādhana" can be better understood by reference to the following passage from Bhakti Sandarbha 106. The problem with the above, is the radical break made between the devotee and the non-devotee in this regard. I would have no problem in agreeing with the idea that the love relations of non-devotees without an ounce of devotion for Krishna or any kind of spiritual culture cannot be looked at with the same eye as those of Krishna.

The purpose of this section is to show how worshiping the demigods can be legitimized by looking at them in relation to Krishna. It also deals with the way devotees are to see and worship Krishna in all living entities.

The portion that I am particularly interested in is Sri Jiva's discussion of 3.25.21-34, which to some extent I have used previously in my argumentation, such as here and here. Jiva gives a more elaborate interpretation, so it is worth looking at again a bit more closely. I will have to do that in another post as this one is getting rather long.


Anonymous said…
Dearest Sri Jagadananda Das,

The majority will never understand what you are talking about, you must show "the way" by example.

This knowledge is gained by direct experience; the only way to explain the truth is to show them "how" to do it for themselves.

The "how" (method) is the only way, true understanding will come 'after' experiencing 'the truth'.

Few have the attention-span to completely read or remember what you are saying, even fewer of those whom do read will have the intellect to decipher what you are trying to say, and even fewer still will get past the former two linguistic hurdles and apply in every-day practice 'exactly' what you are trying to tell them...

Make YouTube videos to "show them how", paste these instructional videos into your blog and see what happens.

Anonymous said…

Jagadananda Das said: So true.

M.N. replied: My person could not decide if your brief reply was a genuine statement of experience or irony (irony is described as a statement that, when taken in context, may actually mean something different from, or the opposite of, what is written literally; the use of words expressing something other than their literal intention, often in a humorous context to deride another or stage amusement for an audience).

Perhaps this indecision is due to my person living a very simple life of yoga, away from the busy minds of society.

If it is irony, my person forgives you; if it is a statement of experience, then, "what are you going to do about it?"
Anonymous said…
Looking at your YouTube Channel, out of all your videos, the video with the highest view count is the "History and the ideas of Rupa Goswami (I)", which at the time of this writing is showing 242 people have viewed it.

In this video, your own coherent narrative, in which 'you' truly embody the teaching and give real insight into the divine nature of humanity shines through.

You undo the tangled tread of religious language and explain the simple eternal pristine truth in equally plain simple language that hungry minds can understand.

In the love of the one undivided truth, one will always rise above the corpse of the collective unconsciousness buried in the grave of the flesh.

That is why we are here:

vihāyāṣu kumbheṣu kim-artham-anudhāvanam

§ 173.2 Kumbhaka Paddhati of Raghuvīra
Anonymous said…

My apology, my person was just reminded that it is actually your YouTube video entitled "Radha Krishna bol bol o re sobai" which has the highest view count (283).

The power of 'entertainment value' seems to have propelled that video into first place (so very sad, but true).
Jagadananda Das said…
Thank you very much for your kind comments. I think "entertainment value" might also be ironic... Of course your statement reminded me of what I had been thinking. I have been so focused on responding to people from the Vaishnava orthodoxy and using their pramanas to try to legitimize my ideas that I have probably lost an entirely different audience. And it seems that many who come through the various orthodox Vaishnava schools have been well-inoculated against my ideas. I do believe it has to be done, but there are other approaches, as you say.
Anonymous said…
My person has been reading your ideas for quite some time (since approximately January 2015), and from reading your posts and subsequent readers comments, one does not know if you have had any other followers willing to learn whom through practicing your teaching have reached a state of spiritual grace.

Spiritual grace is the only legitimate proof of whether an idea works in practice or not (otherwise it becomes just another academic exercise).

If you teach 'the way' as you have truly experienced it, and its results (the sate of grace) are replicable by the practice that you are teaching, then what else is there to know?

The state of grace, is its own proof of legitimacy.
Jagadananda Das said…
Of course, MN, I am flattered that you are such a dedicated reader of my blog. I often ask myself the same questions. Whatever I say is the product of my sadhana and my reflections on it. My reading of the Shastra is colored by my own experience.

I am a beggar for Divine Grace. I cannot control how my Lord and Lady make me dance or the consequences they ordain for my dancing. All I ask is to continue on this path and to be a vehicle for their Grace, however they should wish to bestow it.

The path itself is the goal. Because it is here and now. And everything that was before led to here and now.

Thank you once again for your kind comments. I appreciate your commitment to your sadhana and your friendship. Jai Radhe.
Anonymous said…
Ādeśa – Dear Sri Jagadananda Das,

Our sādhanā is different, yet in truth the same goal (reading the genius of your work ‘Yoga-Taraṅgiṇī’ has taught my person this).

Another beggar,


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