(FN1) The use of the term bhāva throughout this section is significant. Bhāva is a multivalenced term. Bhāva is said to be the first stage of love of Godhead. More significantly for our understanding of rasa, however, is that it is the basis for experiencing rasa. According to Rupa Goswami’s conception then, bhāva is self-realization in the sense of establishing one’s spiritual identity or sthāyi-bhāva. Rupa Goswami describes the sthāyi-bhāvas in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.5. He speaks there of a preliminary state of the sthāyi-bhāva, known as śuddhā, i.e., undeveloped or without any particular characteristics (2.5.8). This preliminary stage of the sthāyi-bhāva is divided into three subcategories—sāmānyā, svacchā and śānti. The first of these is the undeveloped attitude to Krishna, such as that of a child or general admirer, the second that of a devotee whose association is mixed and whose attitude to the Lord changes with the company he keeps; the third is an admiring attitude that nevertheless lacks any personalized attachment. This last attitude usually develops into śānta-rasa. These preliminary, undeveloped attitudes to Krishna must solidify through association and the cultivation of particular preferences for worshiping Him in a specific mood in order for one to be able to experience prema or rasa. The cultivation of these preferences is then deepened through the giving of a specific siddha deha that corresponds to the aspirant’s tastes. The essence of prema is possessiveness (mamatā). One who feels like an outsider may develop some sentiment for Krishna, but only the establishment of a relationship through the spiritual master makes prema possible.
bhaktir ity ucyate bhīṣma-prahlādoddhava-nāradaiḥ ||
Devotion, according to the great authorities like Bhishma, Prahlada, Uddhava and Narada, is a feeling of exclusive possessiveness toward Krishna, combined with a feeling of love for Him. (Pañcarātra).Thus an aspirant to any of the devotional relationships may cultivate them without the specific imprimatur of the spiritual master, but he will certainly not be impeded by knowing that this relationship has been recognized and approved. Even if due to some misfortune a devotee forgets or loses interest in the relationship he has been given, it remains like a seed, waiting for the water of devotional association to sprout and grow.
One should reveal one’s siddha-bhāva to the gurudeva
ei rūpe guru śiṣya saṁvāde ghaṭane |
nija-siddha-bhāva sthira ha-ibe ye kṣaṇe ||74||
śiṣya guru-pade paḍi karibe minati |
māgibe bhāvera siddhi kariyā kākuti ||75||
After the guru and disciple have thus discussed the matter,
and the disciple’s spiritual identity is finally settled,
he should fall down at his spiritual master’s feet and entreat him,
begging him for success in attaining this spiritual mood.
kṛpā kari gurudeva karibe ādeśa |
śiṣya sei bhāve tabe karibe praveśa ||76||
Then the spiritual master will mercifully give his order
and the disciple enters into that spiritual identity.
(FN1) Determined acceptance
śrī-guru-caraṇe paḍi balibe takhana |
tavādiṣṭa bhāva āmi karimu varaṇa ||77||
e bhāva kakhana āmi nā chāḍiba āra |
jīvane maraṇe ei saṅgī ye āmāra ||78||
The disciple should then fall down at the feet of his guru and say,
“I wholeheartedly accept the identity you have given me.
Never again shall I give up this mood;
it shall accompany me forevermore, in life or in death.”
Whatever identity the sādhikā may have accepted previously in opposition to her deep-seated true inclinations can be compared to the husband to whom a girl has been given in an arranged marriage. (FN1) On receiving her genuine identity in service to Krishna from a pure spiritual master, in accordance with her true preferences, then that is the “illicit relationship” (pārakīya rasa) that takes spiritual precedence. Without such an “illicit relationship,” no one can experience rasa completely. The glory of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching is that the identity of the devotee as a woman involved in an extra-marital affair is constant throughout both Krishna’s manifest and unmanifest pastimes. The śṛṅgāra-rasa is totally devoid of even a jot of materialism. The spiritual jiva, in order to enjoy and exchange pure rasa, becomes a spiritual gopi and renders devotional service to the spiritual personalities of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna in the spiritual realm of Vrindavan. There is not the slightest tinge of the mundane man-woman relationship in Vrindavan; the pure ideal or archetype of sexual love is manifest in the perfected spiritual identity of the soul. Knowledge of this identity can only be had from a pure devotee spiritual master. Without his grace, no one can discover this inscrutable truth, for it is beyond the realm of mundane speculation and extremely rare.
(FN2) The identity “in opposition to one’s true inclinations” can mean either one’s material identity in relation to this world, or a spiritual identity received from the guru. In either case, the transgression of secondary religious or legal injunctions in order to follow one's true inner spiritual inspiration is the essence of the pārakīyā-bhāva.
Ascertaining the obstacles to this bhajan
nija siddha ekādaśa bhāve vratī haye |
smaribe sudṛḍha-citte nija-bhāva-caye ||79||
Once one is committed to the eleven aspects of her spiritual identity,
she should meditate on them with a determined heart.
smaraṇe vicāra eka āche ta sundara |
āpanera yogya-smṛti kara nirantara ||80||
In the process of remembering, there is one beautiful consideration:
one should constantly meditate on that which is befitting to her.
āpanera ayogya smaraṇa yadi haya |
bahu yuga sādhile-o siddhi kabhu naya ||81||
If she meditates on things that are beyond her state of readiness,
she will never attain perfection, despite practicing for ages and ages.
The aspirant has to engage in her devotional practice in a way that her spiritual identity, upon which she meditates in the stage of remembering, can be factually assimilated in the stage of attainment. No efforts on the paths of works, philosophical speculation, yoga, or anything else can help one attain this ineffable perfection of worship. The successful devotee appears externally to be engaged in chanting the Holy Name while leading a renounced and simple life, but internally she is constantly experiencing the splendors of the greatest rasa. On the other hand, the practitioners who are externally engaged in elaborate displays of devotional activity but do not take care to stabilize their minds will never be able to take their meditation to the next level of āpana-daśā, or “the stage of attainment.” Thus they may practice for many lifetimes without success.
[FN3] The bhajan described here is a natural process, but if it becomes contaminated by false identities, it is diverted and becomes a means to something other than Vrindavan. One should approach a pure devotee spiritual master and learn from him what is pure bhajan and what are the false accretions to such service. Such discernment will equip one to perform bhajan properly.