Hari-nama-cintamani, Chapter 15, Bhajana Pranali, Part II

For Part I, Part III

nāma-nāmī eka tattva viśvāsa kariyā |
daśa aparādha chāḍi nirjane basiyā ||42||
ati svalpa dine nāma ha-iyā sadaya |
śrī-śyāmasundara-rūpe hayena udaya ||43||

One who sits down somewhere alone to chant
with deep faith in the oneness of the Name and the Named
receives the mercy of the Holy Name in a very short time
and the Lord appears to him in His form as Shyamasundar.

Three kinds of people—the materialist, the ritualist and the philosopher— are considered “outwardly directed” (bahirmukha ), because all of them are engaged in activities based on a false understanding of their true self-interest. The materialist directs his efforts to achieving gratification of this body’s senses. The ritualist aims at sense pleasure in a future lifetime, while the philosopher seeks liberation from all worldly pain. One who overcomes these three positions is said to be “inner-directed” (antarmukha). The inner-directed devotees can be subdivided according to three degrees of advancement—neophyte, intermediate, and advanced. The neophyte rejects all demigod worship and serves only Krishna in the deity form, despite still being affected by material motivations. Nevertheless, he is unclear about his own true identity, or that of Krishna and other devotees. Though simple and naive, however, he is not offensive. One can summarize him as being self-centred in his motivation. Therefore, although the neophyte is not a pure Vaishnavas, he is still considered to be “almost a Vaishnava” (vaiṣṇava-prāya). On the other hand, the intermediate inward-looking person is a pure Vaishnava, and so of course is the fully-committed advanced introspective person . The most advanced Vaishnava is completely indifferent to material things. No one can be considered truly “inward-looking” unless he is convinced that the Name and the Named are identical. All inward-lookers have exclusive faith in Krishna and are so qualified to chant His holy name.

yabe nāma-rūpe aikya hayata sādhane |
nāma laite rūpa āise citte sarva-kṣaṇe ||44||

When the Lord’s name and form become one in a devotee’s practice,
he then sees the Lord’s form in the heart constantly as he chants.

tāra kichu dine rūpe guṇa kari yoga |
śrī-nāma smaraṇe guṇa karaya sambhoga ||45||

After some time, realization of the Lord’s virtues is added
and the devotee also relishes Krishna’s qualities while chanting the Name.

The step-by-step advancement in chanting takes place as follows. The neophyte inward-looker must in the beginning try to achieve constancy in chanting and remembering the Holy Name by rejecting the ten offenses. This chanting and remembering should be done while pronouncing the Holy Name clearly and distinctly. When one’s chanting is clear, steady, and blissful, he should meditate on the Lord’s Shyamasundar form. Engaging the hands by counting the Names on one’s beads, one should again and again direct the mind and tongue to the name of Krishna itself. Then, with his spiritual eye, the practitioner will be able to clearly visualize the Lord’s form, which is the meaning of the Holy Name. Alternatively, one may sit in front of the Lord’s deity form and drink in the beautiful sight of the Lord with the eyes while simultaneously chanting and meditating on the Holy Name.

Even after reaching the stage where the Holy Name and the form of the Lord have become one, the aspirant must practice remembering the Lord’s transcendental qualities. When one has come to experience the unity of the Lord’s name, form and qualities, then one can turn one’s attention to meditating on the Lord’s lilas in “still-picture” form (mantra-dhyāna-mayī līlā), gradually merging this meditation into that of the name, form and qualities. At this point in his practice, the devotee starts to experience rasa. This experience of rasa becomes complete when he has mastered the still-picture form of meditation on the Lord’s pastimes and turned to the “moving-picture” form, meditating on the Lord’s pastimes in the eternal world as they change over the periods of the day (svārasikī aṣṭa-kālīyā līlā).

At the beginning of this cultivation of devotion, the devotee is a mere neophyte. If he finds advanced association, he quickly attains the intermediate stage and finally becomes advanced himself. In the neophyte stage, one will chant the mere semblance of the Holy Name (Nāmābhāsa), but once one’s contaminations are eradicated, one quickly becomes capable of chanting the pure Holy Name and eligible to serve the pure Vaishnavas.

The unity of the Lord’s name, form and qualities

svalpa-dine nāma rūpa guṇa eka haya |
nāma laite sarva-kṣaṇe tinera udaya ||46||

In a very short time, the Lord’s name, form and qualities are seen as one,
and as the devotee chants the Name, all three manifest themselves to him.

Worship – “still-picture” meditation

mantra dhyāna mayī ei nāma upāsanā |
prāthamika dhārā jāni’ kare vibhāvanā ||47||

This stage of worshiping the Name is called “still-picture meditation”;
one contemplates, knowing it to be the preliminary wave of Krishna’s līlā. (FN1)

(FN1) Here I have used the term “still-picture meditation” to translate mantra-dhyāna-mayī upāsanā. This term was coined by Jiva Goswami, who uses it in his Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha (153) to describe a particular kind of pastime in the spiritual world (mantropāsanā-mayī ). When he uses the word “mantra” here, Jiva is referring to the diksha mantra and not the Holy Name per se. The Pancharatra scriptures generally give specific meditations to accompany the mantras they prescribe. These mantra-meditations are a specific exercise in visualization that should be practiced at specific times during the day. These are also sometimes called Yoga Pith meditations, as described in the next verses. The arati songs are similarly descriptive of the this same Yoga Pith dhyana, jaya jaya gauracandra is descriptive of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Yoga Pith. Bhaktivinoda Thakur has also written a Yugala arati in Gītāvalī

jaya jaya rādhā kṛṣṇa yugala milana | ārati karaye lalitādi sakhī gaṇa ||
madana mohana rūpa tribhaṅga sundara | pītāmbara śikhi-puccha cū ḍā manohara ||
lalita mādhava vāme vṛṣabhānu kanyā | sunīla-vasanā gaurī rūpe guṇe dhanyā ||
nānā-vidha alaṅkāra kare jhala-mala | hari mano vimohana vadana ujjvala ||
viśākhādi sakhī gaṇa nānā rāge gāya | priya-narma-sakhī yata cāmara ḍhulāya ||
śrī -rādhā-mādhava pada sarasija āśe | bhakativinoda sakhī pada sukhe bhāse ||

Some devotees of Radha Krishna in other sampradayas worship the Divine Couple exclusively in the Yoga Pith. Gaudiyas cultivate mantra meditation as an avenue into the svārasikī līlā, but these “set piece” meditations are only moments in the Divine Couple’s day of comings and goings, or in Jiva Goswami’s metaphor, they are still lakes in the flowing river of the Divine Couple’s daily pastimes.

smṛti-kāle yoga-pīṭhe kalpa-druma-tale |
gopa-gopī-vṛte kṛṣṇe dekhe kutūhale ||48||

While meditating, the devotee visualizes the Yoga Pith under a desire tree
where Krishna is joyfully surrounded by cowherds and milkmaids.

sāttvika-vikāra saba haya prasphuṭita |
bhajanaa ānande bhakta haya pulakita ||49||

While meditating in this way, the devotee experiences ecstatic symptoms
and his body trembles all over in the joys of bhajana.

krame yabe nāma sva-saurabhe praphullita |
aṣṭa-kāla kṛṣṇa-līlā ha-ibe udita ||50||

When the Name eventually blossoms to its most fragrant fullness,
one is able to visualize the constantly changing daily activities of the Lord.

Worship – “moving-picture” meditation

svārasikī upāsanā ha-ibe udaya |
līlocita pīṭhe kṛṣṇe darśana karaya ||51||

Meditation on these pastimes is known as svārasikī or “flowing” worship;
it shows the devotee Krishna in each place according to His pastimes.

saṅge saṅge guru-kṛpā siddha-svarūpete |
līlāya praveśe bhakta sakhīra saṅgete ||52||

By the guru’s blessings, the practitioner immediately enters these pastimes
in an eternal spiritual form, accompanying one of the sakhis. (FN2)

(FN2) Strictly speaking, the cultivation of Yoga Pith meditation is accompanied by meditation on one’s siddha svarūpa, as the service mentioned in the eleven aspects of this identity described below (verse 58) is specifically associated with this meditation. In other words, when concentrating on the Yoga Pith, the sadhaka should visualize herself in her spiritual form engaging in the prescribed service.

mahābhāva svarūpiṇī vṛṣabhānu-sutā |
tāṅra anugata bhakti sadā prema-yutā ||53||

Vrishabhanu’s daughter, Radha, embodies the greatest love mahābhāva;
devotion that follows Her mood and direction is always filled with loving ecstasy.

Though there are five main rasas or spiritual mellows—śānta (neutrality), dāsya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship), vātsalya (parenthood), and śṛṅgāra or mādhurya (conjugal)—the last of these is the highest. Devotees eligible to enter this mood are recipients of Sri Krishna Chaitanya’s special mercy. Lord Krishna has many yūtheśvarīs or female group leaders who serve Him in the conjugal mood, but Srimati Radharani must be supplicated by all. She is the direct manifestation of Lord Krishna’s svarūpa-śakti or spiritual potency, and all the other Vraja gopis are simply Her expansions. It is therefore the goal of every rasika devotee to seek entry into Her yūtha or group. Service to Lord Krishna in Vraja is impossible without first taking shelter of the Vraja gopis. Thus it is necessary to enter Srimati Radharani’s camp and serve there under Lalita Devi’s direction.

sakhī ājñā mate kare yugala-sevana |
mahā-preme magna haya se rasika jana ||54||

The rasika devotee then becomes absorbed in the highest prema,
(FN3) serving the Divine Couple under the sakhis’ directions.

(FN3) Bhaktivinoda Thakur switches to the feminine gender here to describe the sadhika in the siddha form.

When the subtle body is overcome, one attains concrete perfection (vastu-siddhi)

sādhana-bhajanaa-siddhi lāgālāgi tāya |
liṅga-bhaṅge vastu-siddhi tomāra kṛpāya ||55||

At this stage, one’s practice of bhajana borders success. When, by Your grace,
all subtle identifications fall away, one attains concrete perfection.

As the devotee follows this method of cultivating rasa, the gap between his practice and perfection in bhajana narrows. Within a very short time, he realizes his spiritual identity, which is known as svarūpa siddhi. Krishna’s will to elevate the practitioner naturally follows the mercy of the yūtheśvarī. Once that comes about, the illusory subtle body that was the result of turning away from Krishna is easily destroyed and the jiva gains entrance into Vraja in her original spiritual form. This is called vastu-siddhi. (FN4)

(FN4) The linga deha is the living being’s subtle form, which is carried by the jiva from one gross body to the next. As long as one’s subtle body is intact, one has to transmigrate. The full destruction of this body means the end of such transmigration. Thus “concrete perfection” (vastu-siddhi) cannot truly take place in this world, but only after one has gone to join the eternal pastimes in an appropriate spiritual form. Svarupa siddhi means the realization of one’s spiritual form even while living in this world. That is the difference in the meaning of the two terms.

What follows is beyond description; it is only accessible to direct perception

ihāra adhika āra vākya nāhi cale |
tad uttara anubhava labhi kṛpā-bale ||56||

More than this, words are no longer effective;
what lies beyond can only be experienced by the grace of Krishna.

Up to this point, things can be effectively explained by words. Beyond it, the emotional state of devotion cannot be effectively described. Krishna’s mercy alone makes it possible to experience.

ei ta ujjvala rasa parama sādhana |
ihāte niścaya mile kṛṣṇa prema dhana ||57||

This is the practice that leads to the realization of ujjvala rasa,
through which the highest wealth of Krishna prema is attained.

The madhura-rasa is also known as ujjvala (“illuminated, brilliant”) rasa, because in the spiritual world it is the most brilliant state. We can understand this rasa by hearing and chanting about Krishna’s pastimes in this world.

The cultivation of eleven characteristics

sādhite ujjvala-rasa āche bhāva ekādaśa
sambandha vayasa nāma rūpa |
yūtha veśa ājñā-vāsa sevā parākāṣṭhāśvāsa
pālya-dāsī ei aparūpa ||58||

Needed to cultivate the most brilliant love for Krishna are eleven characteristics:
relationship, age, name, physical appearance, membership in a group, specific dress,
a mission, an address, a specific service, the aspiration for an ultimate goal,
and the inner identification as a protected maidservant.

Ramananda Ray said:
ata eva gopī‑bhāva kari aṅgīkāra |
rātri‑dina cinte rādhā‑kṛṣṇera vihāra ||
siddha‑dehe cinti kare tāhāṅñi sevana |
sakhī‑bhāve pāya rādhā‑kṛṣṇera caraṇa ||
gopī‑ānugatya vinā aiśvarya‑jñāne |
bhajileha nāhi pāya vrajendra‑nandane ||
One cannot obtain Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan simply by serving him according to regulative principles. Therefore one should accept the mood of the gopis and meditate on the pastimes of Sri Radha and Krishna both night and day. One should meditate on one’s eternal spiritual body and use it to serve Radha and Krishna; by so doing one will attain the direct association of their lotus feet. If one does not follow in the footsteps of the gopis and remains absorbed in the consciousness of the Lord’s majesty, he cannot attain the service of the lotus feet of the son of Nanda Maharaj, even though he may be engaged in devotional service. (CC 2.8.227-9)

One whose natural tendency is to cultivate the conjugal rasa should definitely adopt the female form and attitude of a gopi in Vrindavan. No living entity can enter the conjugal mood of Vraja in a masculine mood or body. Only when one has adopted the identity of a gopi can she truly worship Krishna. This identity is composed of eleven aspects. Thus only one who has adopted these eleven attitudes can be said to have taken a gopi identity. They are:

  • sambandha (a specific relationship with Radharani in Vrindavan),
  • vayas (age, such as 12 years, 6 months, 10 days),
  • nāma (a name, such as Kamala Manjari),
  • rūpa (bodily appearance, usually expressed in terms of bodily hue, such as the color of lightning),
  • yūtha-praveśa (entry into a particular group under the command of one of Radharani’s intimate friends, such as Lalita),
  • veśa (a dress of a particular style and color, such as a blue cloth cover ed in stars),
  • ājñā (a specific instruction),
  • vāsa-sthāna (a place of residence, such as Svananda-sukhada Kunj),
  • sevā (a specific service, such as providing the Divine Couple with camphor),
  • parākāṣṭhā (the ambition to attain a particular blessing, such as being directly asked to do something by Sri Rupa Manjari),
  • pālya-dāsī-bhāva (the mood of a completely dependent maidservant, under the tutelage of one of Radharani’s sakhis).
Whatever one’s identity in this world, one should internally adopt a spiritual identity in these eleven aspects and worship Radha and Krishna directly in that form. (FN5)

(FN5) The examples given in brackets are the ekadasa bhava of Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself.

Five stages in the cultivation of the gopi identity (FN6)

(FN6) Bhaktivinoda Thakur uses the term bhāva-sādhanā here, which I have translated as “cultivation of the gopi identity.” Bhāva has various meanings (see the glossary), but the verse makes it clear that the Thakur is talking about the cultivation of the particular mood of a gopi.

ei ekādaśa bhāva sampūrṇa sādhane |
pañca daśā lakṣya haya sādhaka jīvane ||59||

The complete realization of these eleven aspects of one’s spiritual identity
develops through five recognizable stages in the life of a practitioner.

śravaṇa varaṇa āra smaraṇa āpana |
sampatti e pañca-vidha daśāya gaṇana ||60||

These five stages are the following: (1) hearing, (2) acceptance,
(3) remembering, (4) appropriation and (5) full possession.

As one progresses in the cultivation of one’s spiritual identity, five stages are progressively crossed. These are śravaṇa-daśā “the state of hearing, varaṇa-daśā “the state of accepting,, smaraṇa-daśā “the state of remembering,” āpana-daśā “the state of appropriation, i.e., making it one’s own, sampatti-daśā “the state of full possession.”

sei gopī‑bhāvāmṛte jāṅra lobha haya |
veda‑dharma‑loka tyaji se kṛṣṇe bhajaya ||
vraja‑lokera kona bhāva lañā yei bhaje |
bhāva‑yogya deha pāñā kṛṣṇa pāya vraje ||

One who has a strong desire to taste the nectar of the gopīs’ loving mood abandons all consideration of the religious principles of the Veda. He cares not for public opinion, but simply worships Krishna... Whoever worships Krishna in any one of the moods of the residents of Vraja will attain a suitable spiritual body to serve Him there.” (CC 2.8.219, 221)
With these words, Ramananda Raya taught that any practitioner who wishes to cultivate the ujjvala rasa absolutely must take a gopi body. When one hears these pastimes of Lord Krishna and becomes attracted to this particular mood, he must approach a genuine spiritual master to learn the above-named eleven aspects of his spiritual identity. Hearing the spiritual master delineate this identity in theory is called śravaṇa-daśā (the stage of hearing). When the disciple eagerly accepts this identification, that is called varaṇa-daśā (the stage of accepting). When she cultivates this mood and identity by meditating on rasa in all its aspects, then she is situated on the stage of remembering (smaraṇa-daśā). When she has fully assimilated that identity, which has now been made fully clear, she has reached the state called āpana-daśā or prāpti-daśā. Finally, when she becomes entirely separated from this earthly existence and eternally fixed in her longed-for spiritual form, she has attained sampatti-daśā, the stage of full possession.

The first of these: the hearing stage

nijāpekṣā śreṣṭha śuddha-bhāvuka ye jana |
bhāva-mārge gurudeva sei mahājana ||61||

The spiritual master on this path of cultivating the spiritual identy
is a great ecstatic, more advanced than oneself, and pure in his mood.

tāṅhāra śrī-mukhe bhāva-tattvera śravaṇa |
ha-ile śravaṇa-daśā haya prakaṭana ||62||

On hearing from his divine lips the theoretical principles of this path,
the aspirant enters the stage of hearing or śravaṇa-daśā .

The principles of bhava marg

bhāva-tattva dvi-prakāra karaha vicāra |
nija ekādaśa bhāva kṛṣṇa-līlā āra ||63||

The theory of this bhava marg has two components—
one, the eleven aspects of the practitioner’s identity, the other, Krishna’s līlā.

Advancing to the stage of acceptance

rādhā-kṛṣṇa aṣṭa-kāla yei līlā kare |
tāhāra śravaṇe lobha haya ataḥpare ||64||

As the aspiring devotee hears about Radha and Krishna’s ashta kaliya līlā,
he starts to feel an intense desire one to join Them in Their activities.

lobha ha-ile guru-pade jijñāsā udaya |
kemane pāiba līlā kaha mahāśaya ||65||

Possessed by this desire (lobha), he asks the spiritual master,
“O great soul, what must I do to enter these pastimes?”

gurudeva kṛpā kari karibe varṇana |
līlā-tattve ekādaśa bhāva-saṅghaṭana ||66||

The spiritual master then mercifully describes to his disciple
the eleven aspects of identity and how they relate to the Lord’s līlā.

prasanna ha-iyā prabhu karibe ādeśa |
ei bhāve līlā-madhye karaha praveśa ||67||

Pleased with his disciple, the spiritual master then orders him,
“Now go and enter the Lord’s pastimes in this identity.”

When on examining the disciple’s natural tendencies, the spiritual master verifies that he truly has the qualifications for serving in the śṛṅgāra-rasa, he informs him of the eternal form that he should cultivate as a manjari in Lalita’s sub-group of Srimati Radharani’s yūtha of gopis. Then the spiritual master explains the mutual relation between the eleven components of that spiritual identity necessary for the practice and the object of that practice, the pastimes the Lord enjoys throughout the eight periods of the day (aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā). He especially shows the disciple his spiritual name, form, qualities, and principal service. Furthermore, the spiritual master tells him in which home in Vraja the practitioner will take birth and with which cowherd she will be married. He then goes on to explain how, as a gopi, she will reject the conventional morality of the Vedas and become a protected servant under the tutelage of one of the Lord’s prominent mistresses, a yūtheśvarī, whom she will serve through the daily cycle of pastimes. The aspirant then accepts this identity and enters the next stage, that of contemplation, smaraṇa-daśā. This is the aspirant’s actual birth as a gopī in Vraja. One should here remember and follow the words of the Bhagavatam: yāḥ śrutvā tat-paro bhavet— “When one hears these pastimes of the Lord, one becomes absorbed in them.” (FN7)

(FN7) Bhaktivinoda Thakur is speaking figuratively here. The sadhaka takes birth as a gopi at the time of vastu-siddhi.

śuddha rūpe siddha bhāva kariyā śravaṇa |
sei bhāva svīya citte karibe varaṇa ||68||

On hearing of his eternal spiritual identity with a pure attitude,
the aspirant accepts it and takes it into his heart.

The disciple should indicate his preferences to the guru

varaṇa kālete nija ruci vicāriyā |
guru-pade jānāibe sarala ha-iyā ||69||
prabhu tumi kṛpā kari yei paricaya |
dile more tāhe mora pūrṇa prīti haya ||70||

One should assess one’s personal preferences at the time of acceptance
and reveal them to the spiritual master in all sincerity:
“O master, you have given me my spiritual identity,
and I am completely satisfied with it.

svabhāvataḥ mora ei bhāve āche ruci |
ata eva ājñā śire dhari hye śuci ||71||

“I feel a natural attraction for this identity and therefore
accept your order with all seriousness and purity.”

If one’s preferences differ, the guru will make changes

ruci yadi nahe tabe akapaṭa mane |
nivedibe nija-ruci śrī-guru-caraṇe ||72||

If, on the other hand, the disciple does not like it,
he should sincerely tell his spiritual master what he would prefer.

vicāriyā gurudeva dibe anya-bhāva |
tāhe ruci ha-ile prakāśibe nija-bhāva ||73||

The guru will consider the matter and give him another identity
and, if the disciple likes it, also reveal to him his own .

When the spiritual master establishes the pure personal inclinations of the aspirant, the aspirant should also help the spiritual master by speaking his mind about his own preferences. As long as he does not clearly establish the inclinations of the disciple, the guru’s directions are not flawless. Ruci or taste is an inclination that has been shaped by one’s previous deeds in both this and previous lives. The inclination to a particular spiritual identity, however, is integral to the soul. Should a person have a natural aptitude for servitude or friendship rather than for śṛṅgāra-rasa, he should be instructed accordingly, otherwise there will be undesirable consequences. It is widely known in the Gaudiya tradition that the great devotee Shyamananda was at first unaware of his personal siddha-ruci or permanent devotional propensity. His guru thus advised him to take up the sakhya-rasa or the mood of friendship. Later, however, by the grace of Srila Jiva Goswami, Shyamananda recognized the kind of worship that truly attracted him. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching is that every practitioner should be assessed according to both aptitude and qualifications.

For Part I, Part III


Popular posts from this blog

Bhaktivinoda Thakur's meat eating - the complete story

Erotic sculptures on Jagannath temple

The Holy Dham is Nirguna and independent in its power