The necessity for connection and its connection to rasa

A major insight of Bharata Muni in the Natya Shastra is the statement: “There is no communication of any meaning without rasa.” (na rasād ṛte kaścid arthaḥ pravartate)

This has been more or less at the bottom of my thinking over the past few days, as I have been doing a prolonged manana on the concept of the vicāra-mārga and the ruci-mārgas that Jiva Goswami talks about throughout the Bhakti-sandarbha [See esp. Anu. 202]. In fact, if anything at all, the bhakti path itself is a consequence of understanding that the sentiments are far more powerful than the intellect. If you can communicate to the sentiments, then the intellect will follow. Barely anyone is so devoted to the truth that they currently possess they will not compromise it for a reward, if it is nice and sweet.

But the point of bhakti is that it is a higher taste -- one that uplifts. It is one that has a message that makes one strive to be a better human being, according to the concept of what it is to be a Vaishnava. But the higher taste means the taste of prema, which is rasa, which is ānanda.

That is the whole point of bhakti. It is more pleasurable than anything else, much more fun than liberation.

Rasa gives life meaning. Rasa puts our everyday experiences into a universal context. Rasa means communing with a meaningful meta-narrative.

That is quite an introduction for what I have been wanting to talk about for several days. I actually wrote this in Bengali the other day for the new Bhaktivinoda Dwadash Mandir page. But I lost it due to a ill-advised click and since I am still more fluent in English, I have decided to outline my thoughts in this language.

I am considering making the site bilingual, but for the present I am trying to write in Bengali, for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that the Bhaktivinoda Goshthi is very definitely a Bengali organization in a Bengali town and its being must be communicated to a Bengali audience and community.

At any rate, as our annual festival has been going over the past nine days and after participating deeply in many of the activities, I have had numerous things to observe and meditate on. The Bhāgavata talks were especially interesting and I got to see several styles of presenting this work, Bengali style rather than Vrindavan style.

Nani Gopal Adhikari is a disciple of Sachinandan Das Bhakti Prabha, my senior godbrother. He is 81 years old, a former mathematics teacher in a high school in small-town Medinipur. I actually went to his house with Bhakti Prabha many decades ago, but there it was me who was being shown off, so I have no idea of how he delivered Bhagavata rasa back then. But he is very expert at it now. He is a dramatist and an actor.

Shrimat Nani Gopal Adhikari
Basically, he uses the trick of rasa in the way that Madhusudana Saraswati expanded on Bharata’s original ideas.

There is something of a summary of that here.

By creating rasa, i.e., an emotional response in the audience that brings them to a state of mindlessness, i.e, a temporary state of transcendence, you can lay your message down. Of course, in this case, the means is Hari kathā, the rasa is prema-bhakti-rasa, and the message is Krishna bhakti.

You can observe the modulations in Nani Gopal’s voice, over which he is master: it followed the natural rhythms of the story, which he also could recite in the original verses. But as the Bhāgavatam has a message or many messages tucked into the creases and crevices (the sandhis) of each plot, he makes sure that they are made the prizes, the reward that is reaped at the end of the ride.

His voice rises, the emotion is pity or laughter or some other, building to a crescendo until it reaches a point where the audience is obliged to spontaneously respond with cries of Haribol, tears and ulu dhvanis.

Then as the audience basks in the warmth of rasa, comes the explanation, the added examples, perhaps even building up to an echo of the first crescendo, as the meditation on the sentiment works to reproduce that sentiment.

And music and poetic mastery of the words, which are so kindly provided by the paramparā, beginning with the Bhāgavatam, are the currents on which this voyage takes place.

Jayadevananda Das (in the banner picture to this article) is also a disciple of Sachinandan Bhakti Prabha, but much younger, not yet 40. Nevertheless, he is also both very insightful and an expert story teller. We had just met for the first time earlier in the day and he told me he was going to talk on some cowherd friend themes. It did seem he was going in that direction, but he ended up going off on an impromptu tangent, talking about his guru and parama guru and about Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and his talk ended up being about the paramparā.

His entry point was the sanctity of this place, Ula Birnagar, Dwadash Mandir, where his guru used to come to see his guru.
Sriyukta Sachinandan Das Bhakti Prabha.

Sachinandan Bhakti Prabha used to be really big on Nam Tahal. Actually, he was an amazing person. For those who are old timers from ISKCON, they may remember when Guru Kripa and Yashodanandan came back from India with a rather unique style of doing kirtan, Bengali style. They used to come to Birnagar, and I really believe they picked up a lot of it from Bhakti Prabha, Sachinandan Da. He was an indomitable preacher. He loved to go to his disciples’ houses and inspire them to do sankirtan, and especially Nam Tahal.
The theme song of the Nam Tahal is this one, which is to be sung at at least five homes every day:

nadiẏā godrume nityānanda mahājana, pātiẏāche nāma haṭṭa jībera kāraṇa
śraddhābāna jana he ! śraddhābāna jana !
prabhura ājñāẏa bhāi māgi ei bhikṣā , bala kṛṣṇa bhaja kṛṣṇa kara kṛṣṇa śikṣā
kṛṣṇera saṁsāra kara chāḏi anācāra, jībe daẏā kṛṣṇa nāma sarba dharma sāra ||
Nityananda the wholesaler has set up his marketplace of the Holy Name in Nadia Godrum, for the benefit of the conditioned souls. Oh you faithful people! Oh you who have faith, listen! On the Lord's order, brothers, I beg the following alms: Chant Krishna's name, worship Krishna and learn about Krishna. Live a sinless householder life centered on Krishna. The essence of all religion is compassion on others and the chanting of the Holy Name.
It is Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s song; it is his Nam Hatta. It is his order, just as it was Mahaprabhu’s order to Nityananda and Haridas.

Sachinandan Da would also sing many of the other songs in the following post I made (no translations yet, sorry), always with great concentration, and ending with ecstatic dance, uddaṇḍa-nṛtya.

Purnananda Das leading adhivasa kirtan.
His enthusiasm for kirtan never flagged. Even now, his disciple Purnananda Das played a great role in the utsava leading kirtans. Jayadeva was also reminded of him because someone from the village remembered him -- “Your guru was the tall one who used to come and do kirtan in front of our house, with the gentle manner and brilliant smile of perfect teeth?” -- and that is what had inspired him to contemplate the paramparā. And I think he got it right. And I think he got the message across because he told the story in a way that there was bhakti-rasa.

He started by going up the disciplic chain, from his guru, to Lalita Prasad Thakur, whose energy pervades this place, to Bhaktivinoda Thakur who is our bedrock. But from there he went to Bipin Bihari Goswami, and he had not gone very far before he pedaled back to describe Bhaktivinoda Thakur in 1880, when he -- a member of the Bengali landed aristocracy who had been born into untold wealth before hitting a period of great difficulty -- at 42 would have reached an advanced status in his career, become a very important and influential person. Not only that, but he had become greatly learned in the Vaishnava literature and philosophy. Yet he took initiation from this man, who was several years his junior. If anyone could have had a well-earned sense of superiority to the point of being unable to submit to a guru, it was he. But Mahaprabhu came to him in a dream and told him to do it.

Jayadeva Das
Jayadeva did not try to tell us who Bipin Bihari Goswami was. He could have glorified him personally for his own spiritual attributes and learning, but he did not. Instead he glorified Nityananda Prabhu. He reminded us of Mahaprabhu’s order to Nitai Chand, that Nityananda by whose mercy the entire world to this day still sings the glories of Chaitanya’s avatāra :

nityānanda prasāde ye sakala saṁsāra | adyāpiha gāya śrī caitanya abatāra ||

On returning to Puri with Nitai after his first attempt to go to Vrindavan via Bengal in the spring of 1516, Mahaprabhu took him aside and said,

prabhu bale -- śuna nityānanda mahāmati | satbare calaha tumi nabadbīpa prati ||
pratijñā kariẏā āchi āmi nija mukhe | mūrkha nīca daridra bhāsāba prema sukhe ||
tumio thākilā yadi munidharma kari | āpana uddāma bhāba saba parihari ||
tabe mūrkha nīca yata patita saṁsāra | bala dekhi āre ke bā karibe uddhāra ||
bhakti rasa dātā tumi, tumi sambarile | tabe abatāra bā ki nimitte karile ||
eteka āmāra bākya yadi satya cāo | tabe abilambe tumi gauḏa deśe yāo ||
mūrkha nīca patita duḥkhita yata jana | bhakti diẏā kara giẏā sabāre mocana ||
“O great soul, Nityananda, hear me. You must leave immediately for Nabadwip. I have made a promise with my own tongue that I would immerse the fools, the lowly and the poverty-stricken in the bliss of divine love. If you remain here a recluse like me, repressing your natural exuberant and extroverted personality, then tell me, who else will save all the fools, the uncultured -- all the sinners in this fallen world? You are the giver of bhakti-rasa, if you withdraw from the world, then why did you appear in it? So if you at all wish to see my promise to the world fulfilled, then leave immediately for Gauda Desh. Go and deliver all the fools, the fallen, the lowly and the suffering by giving them the gift of prema.” (Caitanya Bhāgavata, Antyakhaṇḍa 5.220, 223-230)
And, upon being so ordered, Nitai immediately left for Bengal with his group of his close followers.

ājñā pāi nityānanda candra tata kṣaṇe | calilena gauḏa deśe la.i nijagaṇe ||

And then he told the story of Nityananda’s marriage to Jahnava. Now that is in itself a story and a half, if you like. It happened not far from here, across the Ganges in Kalna. And then Jahnava’s glories, which are also quite significant. Who can underestimate the role she played in consolidating the second generation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the direct successors to the Pancha Tattva? She who played a primordial role in organizing the orthodox Vaishnava world at Kheturi and turning its eyes to the Vrindavan Goswamis.

And of course she was accompanied on her trips to Vrindavan by Ramai Thakur, her adopted son and grandson of Mahaprabhu parshad, Vamsivadanananda Thakur. Gadadhar Pran likes to say that Vamsivadana was close to Vishnupriya in Nabadwip, so our paramparā has also got an undercurrent of Vishnupriya’s mood in it also. But Ramai Thakur is primarily known as one of the two principal inheritors of Nitai-Jahnava’s mercy, Vasudha’s son Birbhadra Goswami being the other.

So Jayadevananda weaved his overall tapestry without going into too much detail due to time constraints, but finished by tying the knot between Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Bipin Bihari Goswami, who came in that line of descent from Ramai Thakur, Jahnava Mata, Nityananda and Mahaprabhu himself.

There are two kinds of rāgānugā: one is sambandhānugā and the other kāmanugā. Since we have been told the latter is superior we don’t pay much attention to the former. The first is based on relationship, the latter on attraction, or the relationship that follows attraction rather than preceding it. However, in the evolution of an individual’s capacity to love, a relationship arising from love can only come after one has undergone a lengthy apprenticeship in love-in-relationship.

The relationship of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas is to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and it is established through a paramparā, that dīkṣā is what gives the divya-jñāna, which means a specific relationship with God, a sambandha-viśeṣa. In the case of a Gaudiya Vaishnava, that in turn means being connected to the incarnation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which is simultaneously, esoterically, a relationship, a connection, with Radha and Krishna.

The only rasa is really love. The rasa in this case, the one that is created, is that of feeling a relationship to God, and by so doing, becoming a part -- an authentic part -- of His world. That through a chain of relationships of love, one is connected to the Source, and through that conduit, purely by virtue of its being such a conduit, one belongs to God and His family is yours.

This, my friends, is a universal truth with a very particular application.


Anonymous said…

There is no beginning, there is no end, there is only love; love eternal.
Anonymous said…
In regard to love eternal (outside of time), my person has re-produced part of a conversation.


One hopes the truth of these words finds you.

§ 178b of the Kumbhaka Paddhati of Raghuvīra describes the practice of letting go, the (undivided) vehicle of the conscious light-body merging as one with the great light of the primordial being (the one before all others):

“īśvara-praṇidhānena sidhyate nātra saṃśayaḥ ║179║

Claim possession of one’s own self, by going out forth in front into the bright splendour (great light) in original form (of the light body) and laying down the physical body; in this manner become perfect by ones will, attain one’s aim unloosing (like an arrow/missile) made to spring foreword (before the brow) and hit the mark (179b).”

The breath stops, a revolving circular ingress opens up before the yogin’s brow, and one’s lucid consciousness leaves the physical body springing forward through this revolving cloud fringed door and enters a torsion womb of light to become as one with the great light (there are no words thereafter to describe this).

When one leaves the light and returns re-born back into the physical body, it is to the sound of the inhalated breath (sah!).


One may also practice as the ancient Egyptians (which is far gentler on the hip and knee joints); seated upright on a chair (facing East), palms of the hands placed flat on the thighs, with half a tennis ball placed beneath the perineum (in substitute for the scarab amulet [which acted like the yogin’s left heel]).
Prem Prakash said…
Jagananda dass,
Great piece, thank you. You write, "That is the whole point of bhakti. It is more pleasurable than anything else, much more fun than liberation."
Your point is well made. The Pleasures and Fun (caps intentional) in our world are from riding the big waves. I think you can tell who is in on the scene by the smile on their face and the mischief in their eyes.
Anonymous said…

After reading your Blog Posting, my person was thinking about the word ‘Rasa’ and your words (“But the higher taste means the taste of prema, which is rasa, which is ānanda.”) again this morning.

What you say is partly true, partly true in which ‘effect is by cause’, the cause being ‘rasa’ and the effect being ānanda (bliss); ānanda is an effect, rasa is the cause.

Rasa is listed on page 869 of Monier-Williams’ Sanskrit-English dictionary:

Among many things (including the effect of “taste, flavour” [page 869, line 175507]) rasa is also defined as:

(Page 869, line 175486 ) “m. (ifc. f(A).) the sap or juice of plants , Juice of fruit , any liquid or fluid , the best or finest or prime part of anything , essence , marrow RV. &c”

(Page 869, line 175493) “nectar”

(Page 869, line 175495) “a constituent fluid or essential juice of the body”

(Page 869, line 175496) “mercury , quicksilver (sometimes regarded as a kind of quintessence of the human body , elsewhere as the seminal fluid of Siva) Sarvad.”

(Page 869, line 175497) “semen virile RV. i , 105 , 2”

(Page 869, line 175505) “resin”

So what really is rasa? If you can only define rasa by its effect of ānanda (bliss)?

When one goes beyond bliss and raises the ‘light illuminating essence, which is the ‘sublimated procreative life-force essence’, then this essence is indeed “rasa”. When one has raised the rasa and accumulated so much that it overflows and the skull drips (resin) from the sahasrāra (at the top of the skull [and also drips back down the throat for one to “taste”]), then this is rasa, when the semen virile, the “quintessence of the human body”, the “the seminal fluid of Siva” rises above the skull as a phallus of energy and impregnates the void, then this is also rasa… There are many effects, but there is only one cause, “rasa”.
Anonymous said…

When the rasa (sublimated essence of the procreative life force) is brought up to the skull and one wears its halo, then this is also an effect of rasa.
Anonymous said…

The effects are co-dependant upon the flow of rasa (and of course, its sublimation and accumulation [in, about and above the skull]).

Verse 177a of the Kumbhaka Paddhati of Raghuvīra describes rasa as "procreative life-force (Angirasa – light [illuminating] – essence)":

pūrakaṃ pūrakaṃ kuryāt-tathā kumbhaṃ kumbhakam │

Inhale through both nostrils (and in this same manner also) filling (up) with (the wind-lightning [f.] that flows like) water (the life-force which flows up the spinal canal); inhale through both nostrils and exhale through both nostrils (twenty times) until a (high-pitched) sound (like) a bee manifests, keeping the eyes focused towards the forehead in meditation, (generate this) procreative life-force (Angirasa – light [illuminating] – essence) (by) inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils (177 a)
Anonymous said…

So what is the secret?

There is no secret!


Simply, "regular-practice-over-time" and of course "brahma-cárya" (an equally consistent state of continence).
Anonymous said…

Prem Prakash said:"Great piece, thank you. You write, "That is the whole point of bhakti. It is more pleasurable than anything else, much more fun than liberation."
Your point is well made. The Pleasures and Fun (caps intentional) in our world are from riding the big waves. I think you can tell who is in on the scene by the smile on their face and the mischief in their eyes."

śrīmaccidānandanātha replied: Yes, the wide (awake) open eyes, ecstatic "smile" and subtle bodily movements of bliss always give it away (to one that knows the same).

Continued practice over-time (and immersion in this bliss) will eventually bring one to God consciousness.



See the Kuṇḍalinīvijñāna-Rahasyam:
Anonymous said…

Eventually, the bliss of sublimated rasa will further sublimate into Angirasa (light illuminating essence) if by one's will, one manages to a still the mind and fix the gaze.

yoga-dīkṣāṃ vinā kurvan vāta-granthim labhate dhruvam │
sarvajñena śivenoktaṃ pūjāṃ santyajya māmakīm ║

Meditate (concentrate [within]), (to) unite (harness, yoke) with the bright, shining (light) (which) instantly shines (out [from the darkness]) forward into view. Continually (without exhalation) holding the breath (release the knot) free the protuberance (above the skull), catch sight of this eternal star (Pole star) (and concentrate on this) fixed point (174 a).

Anonymous said…

The following texts may be of some relative interest to practicing readers:

Vijñānabhairava tantra: or Divine Consciousness

Spanda-Kārikās: The Divine Creative Pulsation

Anonymous said…

This text is also worthy of further supplemental study:

The Yoga Of The Mālinīvijayottaratantra
Chapters 1-4, 7, 11-17

Critical Edition, Translation & Notes By Somadeva Vausdeva
Anonymous said…

Malini Vijayottara Tantra

A Source Book of the Trika Sastra of Kashmir

(together with an English translation and critical notes on its philosophic and religious significance)

By Vishnu Datt Shastri

Read Online:

Adobe Pdf Download:
Anonymous said…

For the previous statement, quote:

"Continued practice over-time (and immersion in this bliss) will eventually bring one to God consciousness."

See page 13 "abhiṣeka" (अभिषेक abhiṣeka), quote: "(sprinkling of water on head)":

Relative Notes

Gorakh Bani – Śábda 49

चालत चंदवा षिसि षिसि पड़ै ।

§ 49(1) A strong stirring tremulous (up and down) motion, rising and falling in waves, surging, swelling, overflowing with passionate desire which gives a footing to stand out above, establishing one ready to ride (firmly) mounted above (as if upon a horse).

बैठा ब्रह्म अगनि परजलै ।।

§ 49(2) Seated, moving in a repeated back-and-forth motion (circulate, spin the sublimated procreative force) causes (one) to be brought near (to) the supreme fire (when) the absolute highest point of the sap springs out (of the top of the head) like a fountain.

आडै आसणि गोटिका बंध ।

§ 49(3) Remaining seated, in (this) union (work hard to) pull and draw (up the sublimated procreative force, churning it around repeatedly) to lead (the) wild horse (to) run (and rise up).

जावत प्रथिमी तावत कंध ।।४९।।

§ 49(4) In this manner, drive this on faster, pressing forwards (and backwards) quickly to excite and make (the sublimated procreative seed) flow upwards (above the skull); stretching, extending the swelling (energy upwards) sprouting above the head and spraying out (like water).
Anonymous said…

My person was this morning reading from this site (and thought of you Prem Prakash):

and so, have re-produced some of the quotes from that page here:

somasūryāgnisaṃghaṭṭaṃ tatra dhyāyed ananyadhīḥ / (22.1)
taddhyānāraṇisaṃkṣobhānmahābhairavahavyabhuk // (22.2)
hṛdayākhye mahākuṇḍe jājvalan sphītatāṃ vrajet / (23.1)
tasya śaktimataḥ sphītaśakterbhairavatejasaḥ // (23.2)
mātṛmānaprameyākhyaṃ dhāmābhedena bhāvayet / (24.1)
vahnyarkasomaśaktīnāṃ tadeva tritayaṃ bhavet // (24.2)
parā parāparā ceyamaparā ca sadoditā / (25.1)
sṛṣṭisaṃsthitisaṃhāraistāsāṃ pratyekatastridhā // (25.2)

It is in the great sacrificial site called the "heart" that the fire-of the powerful Bhairava burns profusely, as one rubs together two sticks of wood. One concentrates solely upon the friction that unifies all triplicity—moon, sun, and fire, symbols of the inhaled, exhaled and rising breaths, or of the known object, knowledge, and knowing subject. The resplendent flame of Bhairava—fire or pure Subject—is endowed with an intense energy that expands at the Centre. With its help, one recognises that all the triads of energies perpetually surging forth are fusing in a complete non-differentiation of subject, object, and knowledge." (TA 5. 22-25)

yadetadbahudhā proktamāṇavaṃ śivatāptaye |
tatrāntarantarāviśya viśrāmyetsavidhe pade || 34-1 ||
tato'pyāṇavasaṃtyāgācchāktīṃ bhūmimupāśrayet |
tato'pi śāmbhavīmevaṃ tāratamyakramātsphuṭam || 34-2 ||

"The moment has come to show how one enters into the Quintessence. (According to the individual path) having entered more and more profoundly into the divine state, one rests at peace, close to the Essence. Then, abandoning this path completely, one takes refuge in the abode of the energy. Finally, one arrives at the dwelling of Siva, where our own essence reveals itself quite clearly. Such is the nature of gradual absorption."

itthaṃ kramoditivibodhamahāmarīci-
saṃpūritaprasarabhairavabhāvabhāgī |
ante'bhyupāyanirapekṣatayaiva nityaṃ
svātmānamāviśati garbhitaviśvarūpam || 34-3 ||

"But whoever has the good fortune to enjoy the nature of Bhairava, abundant source of the great rays (of divine energies) radiating from Consciousness, it is independent of any Path that he will finally become immersed into his own eternal Self, imbued with universal Essence."

kathito'yaṃ svasvarūpapraveśaḥ parameṣṭhinā ||

"There, we have absorption into the Quintessence as the Lord has shown it to be."

satsvartheṣu sukhādiṣu sphuṭataraṃ yadbhedavandhyodayaṃ yogī tiṣṭhati pūrṇaraśmivibhavas tattattvam ācīyatām // (127.2)

"To live in the undifferentitated, even when differentiation is taking place, this is the supreme and sudden 'roar' of a yogi." (V. 127)

cakreṇānena patatā tādātmyaṃ paribhāvayet / (30.1)

anena kramayogena yatra yatra patatyadaḥ // (30.2)

"Wherever the yogi goes, all the wheels turn around him like a swarm of bees around the queen bee." (T.A. V. 30)

evaṃ pratikṣaṇaṃ viśvaṃ svasaṃvidi vilāpayan / (36.1)
visṛjaṃśca tato bhūyaḥ śaśvadbhairavatāṃ vrajet // (36.2)

"He who dissolves the universe into his own consciousness at every instant and produces it again is forever identified with Bhairava. He is free to produce and dissolve the universe. Consciousness reveals itself to him in all its glory." (V. 36)


See also notes on Chapter 34 (T.A.):

Verse 3 - "Thus, he/she who partakes of the true nature of Bhairava, who is irrigated and fertilized by the powerful rays of divine consciousness, gradually will come to rest in the true Self, thereby transcending the paths to liberation, but keeping within him/herself all the diversity of the world. This is how the supreme Lord describes the entry of the adept into his own self.

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