Praveśikā to Kāntā-bhāva bhajana

A praveśikā is an introduction, in this case an introduction to an article that I will publish tomorrow by Gadadhar Pran Das called Kāntā-bhāva bhajana. As many of you may know, my Godbrother Gadadhar Pran Das is a longtime sādhaka of the rāgānugā mārga, who has written numerous books on various aspects of this rāgānugā bhajana. He has lived for over 35 years continuously in Gadai Gauranga Kunj, serving his Gaura-Gadadhar deities and practicing svārasikī līlā-smaraṇa.

In this essay, he will discuss in a forthright manner the sambhogecchātmikā branch of kāmānugā bhakti practice. Although most Gaudiya rāgānugā sādhakas today emphasize mañjarī-bhāva to almost absolute exclusivity, even going so far as to blaspheme the kāntā mood, anyone who studies the principal descriptions of madhura-rasa as found in texts like Caitanya-caritāmṛta and Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi will immediately recognize that they deal primarily with the kāntā. In fact, it was not until the 20th century that Kunja Bihari Dasji of Radha Kund compiled a book of texts specifically relevant to the mañjarī-bhāva sādhakas.

Gadadhar Pran Dasji points out that a discomfort with the erotic in general is a big part of this resistance to the kāntā-bhāva, without which madhura-rasa actually has no standing. In fact, without an unabashed recognition of the explicitly erotic nature of this sādhana, rāgānugā bhajana in mañjarī-bhāva has no foundation. This short essay approaches this issue in a direct, straightforward manner.

Gadadhar boldly says that it is a kusaṁskāra, or negative conditioning that makes it impossible to understand the spiritual nature of Vrindavan's divine Eros. The same thing is stated by Rupa Goswami at the beginning of the madhura-rasa section of the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.

Sri Rupa there explains why his chapter is so short. Being only 37 verses long it is the shortest of the five chapters on the five primary rasas, or kinds of love relationships. This is especially curious since he has already indicated (in BRS 2.5.38) that the madhura-rasa is the tastiest of all the rasas.
There are three reasons for it, which Sri Rupa says are:

nivṛttānupayogitvād durūhatvād ayaṁ rasaḥ |
rahasyatvāc ca saṁkṣipya vitatāṅgo vilikhyate ||
This rasa is presented here in abbreviated form, despite being extremely extensive in its parts, because it is (1) unsuitable for those who are not engaged in it (nivṛtta); (2) it is difficult to comprehend (durūha) and (3) is esoteric (rahasya). (BRS 3.5.2)
These three reasons that the madhura-rasa is not to be spoken of in detail is that there are three kinds of anadhikārī for this rasa, and for them it is too much of a mystery (atirahasya). In other words, it is not easily accessible to their intelligence and so they will not be interested in it, or worse yet they will be actively inimical to it.

The verse is discussed again at the beginning of UN, where Rupa Goswami begins by explaining why he is making this separate extensive description of the śṛṅgāra-rasa. Jiva Goswami Prabhu explains:

purā saṅkṣepeṇoditatve hetur atirahasyatvād iti nivṛttānāṁ laukikād ujjvalākhya-rasāt tat-sāmyam, anena tu bhāgavatād api tasmāt parāṅ-mukhānāṁ śānta-prīti-vātsalyānyatara-bhāvatvena vā tat-parāṅmukhānām anupayuktatvāt tebhyo gopya evāyaṁ rasaḥ. |

The first anadhikārī, according to Jiva Goswami, is the nivṛtta, or the inactive. That means those who are turned off to the spiritual ujjvala-rasa of the Bhāgavata because they think it is the same as its material version. Because they are inimical to the material śṛṅgāra-rasa they also are inimical to the spiritual version.

They will consider it dangerous for their spiritual life. They will be afraid and will make others afraid that it is dangerous for their spiritual life. "It will lead to fall-down," is the typical warning that they give and is also the reason they themselves are blocked from entering into a proper understanding of the Bhāgavata's śṛṅgāra-rasa.

These people are not just not interested, but are actively against hearing or attempting to properly understand the nature of divine erotics. Moreover, it has the effect of their committing offenses to the pure and spotless madhura rasa of Vrindavan and the devotees who are practicing rāgānugā bhakti in this mood, whom they call Sahajiyas.

This category also includes those who are committed to one of the four other rasas.

tathā bhāgavate ye kecit tasmin bahu-mānino’pi tat-paryālocanāyāṁ na caturās tair api durūho’yaṁ rasa iti tebhyo’pi gopya eva kāryaḥ, kim uta viṣayibhya iti rahasyatvam evātra mukhyo hetur iti bhāvaḥ |

The second anadhikārī is the one who has a bit of respect for the madhura rasa of the Bhāgavatam but lacks a rasika saṁskāra and are therefore not particularly equipped to discuss these topics. It is too difficult and it should therefore be kept hidden from them.

And of course, the third anadhikārī is the materialistic person, who is certainly incapable of recognizing the spiritual nature of this bhakti-rasa and sādhana. Clearly the pearls of this rasa should not be cast before such swine.

atra tu vistareṇa vacane hetuḥ—rahasyatvād ity eva | kāla-deśa-pātra-viśeṣa-sambandhena rahasyatvaṁ prāpyety arthaḥ |

Since the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi is being spoken to the adhikārī student, these conditions do not apply. When the time, place and student are right, an extensive study of the subject can be made.

tathā śānta-dāsya-vātsalyeṣu bhakti-buddhyā unmukhānām ujjvale tu sthūla-dṛṣṭyā kāma-buddhyā evārucimatāṁ nivṛttānāṁ prākṛta-nivṛtta-mārga-para-lokānām atrānupayuktatvam ||

Vishwanath Chakravarti is brief, and only speaks to the first of the above three rationales: "Those who recognize bhakti in the first four rasas, but have a gross understanding of ujjvala-rasa. Taking it as the same as material lust, they have no taste for it. This refers especially to those who are renounced, i.e., who follow the path of renunciation from material sex life. Discussion of this rasa is inappropriate for them.

nivṛttānupayogitvāt nivṛttā etad-rasāśraya-bhaktetara-śānta-bhaktādayas teṣām anupayogitvāt anarhatvāt |

Krishnadas Kaviraj disciple Vishnudas's commentary on the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi approaches the matter in a somewhat different way: He takes nivṛtta to only mean that the erotic mood is not suitable for those who are in one of the other moods of bhakti, such as śānta.

…madhura-rasa-bhaktāś ca subahutarāḥ virājanta eva ? tatrāha—teṣv api saṁskārābhāvād rasāsvādāpaṭavo ye teṣāṁ durūhatvād dustarkyatvāt |

Someone may object that there are still many devotees who do follow the madhura rasa, surely you can speak to them? In answer, the author says, they don't have the education or culture (saṁskāra) for it. Being inexpert in the matter of tasting such things, it is too difficult for them to figure it out.

bhavatu, tatrāpi rasa-carvaṇa-caturāś ca bahavo dṛśyante ? tatrāha—rahasyatvāt | vakṣyamāṇa-rāga-mārgaika-prādhānyānanusāreṇāvāntarānanta-svabhāvatvān nānā-vidha-vāsanā-vāsita-citteṣu teṣv apy aparicita-rāga-vartma-sandarbhatvena vaidhī-mārga eva gāḍha-baddhāśayeṣu prakāśanāyogyatvenātiguhyatvāt | ye punā rāga-mārgaika-jīvanā madhura-rasa-bhaktās te tu viralā eva |

So be it. But surely there are many others who are capable of relishing this rasa, no? In answer he says, It is a secret, esoteric teaching. Because the path that will primarily be taught here is for those who are exclusively committed to the rāga-mārga; those who do not follow it have many different kinds of nature and proclivity, and countless other desires and moods in their hearts, and furthermore are unfamiliar with the teachings of rāga-mārga. As a result they remain deeply committed to the vaidhī path. It should not be taught to such people, but kept well hidden.

In other words, even an understanding of the rasa texts, if one follows the vaidhī path, one is ineligible for the extended teachings of madhura-rasa. Those who are genuine devotees in madhura rasa, who make the path of the rāga-mārga their life and soul, are indeed very rare.

tatra rasāmṛta-sindhau nānā-jātīya-bhaktānām anuśīlanīyatvāt tan-madhye’tisaṅkṣepatas tad uktam | atra tu rāga-mārgaika-baddha-vratā rasa-carvaṇaika-jīvanāś ca ye madhura-rasa-bhaktās teṣām evāsvādanīyatvād vistareṇa pṛthag evocyate |

The Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu is meant as a general study for devotees of various types, but madhura-rasa, being of a specialized kind, must be dealt with separately, in the intimate surroundings of specialists only. Those specialists are the madhura-rasa-bhaktas who are completely committed to the rāga-mārga and whose lives are devoted entirely to relishing this rasa.

In today's world, information is easily shared and distributed and therefore it is difficult to keep a secret. The danger is always there that those who are unqualified will come into contact with such esoteric practices and will in one or another of the ways above misunderstand and come to incorrect conclusions about the powerful transformative nature of this kind of bhakti-sādhana (Cf. BhP 10.33.40); though the most powerful of all, few are those who are fortunate enough to take it up. The transcendental Cupid charms the mundane Cupid and turns him into a servant of the eternal pastimes of Vraja.

It is nevertheless with some trepidation that we make this material available. For if those who are against it are the only ones whose voices are heard, rāgānugā bhajana in kāntā-bhāva will never be made available to those who might wish to take it up.

In the beginning of Rupa Goswami's Vidagdha-mādhava, the actor (naṭa) gives assurance to the author and director of the play (the sūtradhara), who worries that non-rasikas [which really means all the above anadhikārīs] will be averse to his composition. The naṭa says:

udāsatāṁ nāma rasānabhijñāḥ
kṛtau tavāmī rasikāḥ sphuranti |
kramelakaiḥ kāmam upekṣite’pi
pikāḥ sukhaṁ yānti paraṁ rasāle ||
So be it! Let those who are ignorant and inexperienced in rasa be indifferent to your dramatic composition, in which the true rasikas take delight. Kokils take the greatest pleasure in the mango bud, which is completely ignored by camels. [VM 1.9]

[I have written about BRS 3.5.2 elsewhere.]


Anonymous said…
Thank you Jagadananda Das for writing this introduction, one looks forward to studying Gadadhar Pran Das' Kāntā-bhāva bhajana tommorrow.

Anonymous said…

Kāntā-bhāva bhajana

The kaula also worship in the ecstasy of the procreative force; the realisation of this ecstasy in practice, turning (rotating)the procreative force (of intercourse), reversing its flow, making it stand about and above the skull (in union). In this ecstasy, over-time-and-practice further sublimating the procreative force into light illuminating essence (to be eventually seen before the brow and entered into).

Sadly, paśu (tethered animals), bound to the senses (of the body)will never understand the truth of this.
Prem Prakash said…
Thank you, Jagananda dass, so very much for this writing. Perhaps every sensitive soul intuits the wisdom of this kanta-bhava but, most of the time, are frightened away by various social and religious pressures.

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