Prabodhananda, Hit Harivansh and the Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (Part I)

Prabodhananda Saraswati: From Benares to Braj (Part I)
Prabodhananda Saraswati: From Benares to Braj (Part II)
Prabodhananda, Hit Harivansh and the Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (Part I)
Prabodhananda, Hit Harivansh and the Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (Part II)


In the previous article,(fn1) an attempt was made to establish an authoritative biography of Prabodhänanda Sarasvaté, the author of a number of devotional poems and commentaries in Sanskrit. It was shown there that the sannyäsin Prabodhänanda's life can be divided into three parts: the first, about which we know little, in which he was a Çaìkarite monk living in Benares; a second, in which he came under the influence of Caitanya and his devotees, and a third, in which he associated closely with Hita Harivaàça, the founder of the Rädhä﷓vallabhé sect in Braj.

The purpose of this second article is to examine the Rädhä﷓rasa﷓sudhänidhi (RRSN),1 which is said by the followers of Harivaàça to be his work, while the Gauòéya Vaiñëavas are convinced that Prabodhänanda is in fact its author. Before tackling this problem, however, I feel that it may be worthwhile to discuss what is known about Hita Harivaàça's life from contemporary sources and to examine the Gauòéya claim that he was, in fact, a disciple of Gopäla Bhaööa, who in turn identified Prabodhänanda as his guru.

Hita Harivaàça: his life

The first literary attestation of Harivaàça is given by Prabodhänanda himself in his Çré-Hitaharivaàça-candräñöaka where he calls him Kåñëa's flute, paying tribute to his talents as both singer and hymnologist.2 Harivaàça's devotional qualifications are further lauded in the padas of his junior contemporary, Hariräma Vyäsa.3 Sometime after Harivaàça's death, an apotheosis of sorts was effected by his direct disciple Dämodaradäsa, otherwise known as Sevaka. This devotee gave some details of Harivaàça's essential theology and praxis in his Sevaka-väëé. The first work envisaging Harivaàça's entire career did not appear until after Bhagavat Mudita had written the hagiographical work on his disciples and descendants, Ananya Rasik Mäl. The Harivaàça Carit or Hit Carit (HC) by Uddhavadäsa was probably written as an appendix to Bhagavat Mudita's "lives of the saints", and due to often being included together in MSS with Ananya Rasik Mäl, has at times been attributed to Bhagavat Mudita. Though Uddhavadäsa's short work refers to a number of miraculous events, the dates which he gives for the major milestones of Harivaàça's life are generally considered to be historically reliable. Surprisingly, HC has never been published and the brief biography of Harivaàça given here is based on the summaries given by Lalitäcaraëa Gosvämé (1957:27ff), Vijayendra Snätaka (1968:91ff) and Rupert Snell (1984:1﷓44), all of whom have, of course, supplemented Uddhavadäsa's account with information from other historical works of the school. Of the miraculous events, only those which are relevant to the discussion are here included; the stories of Harivaàç's encounters with his many disciples have been omitted.

Hita Harivaàça was born on the 11th day of the bright moon of Vaiçäkh in the year VS 1559 (AD 1502) in Bäd, a village a few miles south of Mathurä. He was the joint form of Hari and vaàça (or flute). His father, Vyäsa Miçra, was a Gauòa brähmaëa of the Kaçyapa gotra from Deoband, an astrologer of some repute. At the age of six months, before the family returned to Deoband, the babe recited the RRSN and it was copied down by his uncle Nåsiàhäçram.4

After receiving the sacred thread at the age of seven, Harivaàça was given instruction by Rädhä in a dream to seek out a red leaf at the top of a peepul tree. Upon doing so, Harivaàça found the yugala-mantra written on it. Thus, his only guru was Rädhä herself.5 Similarly, Rädhä further instructed him to look into the well in his father's garden where he would find the deity Raìgéläl, a two﷓armed form of Kåñëa playing a flute.6

Harivaàça continued to live in peaceful harmony in his Deoband home until he was 32 years old. After the deaths of his mother and father, though married with three children and a daughter, he decided to move to Vrindavan. Because the children were young, his wife Rukmiëé preferred not to accompany him. Harivaàça's descendants continue to worship Raìgéläl in Deoband.

On his way to Braj in 1533, Harivaàça had another message from Rädhä who told him in a dream that he would be offered two girls in marriage while en route and that he should not refuse them. This indeed came to take place and Harivaàça was married to Kåñëadäsé and Manoharédäsé.

Upon his arrival in Braj he rested at Madan Öer where he encountered a rich landowner called Naravähana who gave him the land between Madan Öer and Cér Ghäö to use in the service of Rädhä-vallabha. He consecrated the image of Rädhä-vallabha there in AD 1535. [Other traditions say that Rädhä-vallabha's service was inaugurated in Seväkuïja.] Harivaàça soon established a räsa-maëòala in the area which further enhanced his reputation. In a very short time he made many disciples as well as strong friendships with Hariräma Vyäsa, who probably arrived not long after him, and Svämé Haridäsa, who was probably there before him. Like many of the other spiritual leaders of the time, he played a part in 'discovering' the old sacred spots of Braj. Harivaàça has to his credit Vaàçé Baöa and Sevä Kuïj, both important places of pilgrimage in Braj even today. He and his abovementioned associates did much to promote the räsa performances which enjoyed ever﷓increasing popularity. His death is said to have taken place at midday, the full﷓moon day of Äçvin, VS 1609 (AD 1553).

A half century after Harivaàça's death, Näbhädäsa, in his Bhaktamäla7 (c. AD 1609) gives the following synopsis of Harivaàça's contributions, a passage which is often quoted by the Rädhä-vallabhés as an encapsulation of the essential facts about him and his doctrines.

Keeping Rädhä's feet foremost, he worshipped (them) in his heart with great resolution,
He served the married couple in their dalliances in the grove as a sakhé;
His all in all was mahä-prasäda, he is well﷓known to be qualified to take it.
He did not care for the rules and restrictions, his strict vow was only to serve exclusively;
Those who follow the path established by the son of Vyäsa can well understand (its principles);
Only some rare souls can understand the ways of Harivaàça Gosvämé's religion.

The importance placed on Hita Harivaàça's lack of interest in the rules and regulations by the sampradäya is further shown by Dämodaradäsa's repeated confirmation of the point in his Sevaka-väëé.8 Uttamadäsa similarly summarizes Harivaàça's doctrinal contribution in HC with the following statement:

He rejected all orthodox precepts and prohibitions in favour of pure devotion, and renounced fast﷓days because they denied him the consumption of prasäda. He ignored the ten rites of passage (saàskära) and defeated ceremonialists, Çaivas, Çäktas and the followers of other doctrines....9

Hita Harivaàça and Gopäla Bhaööa Gosvämé

Harivaàça's miraculous initiation by Rädhä herself seems to have been the cause of some doubts even amongst his own followers during his lifetime, for in one of the two letters (Çré-mukha-patré) written by him to a disciple Béöhaladäsa, he responded to a question which apparently indicated a lack of faith in his direct disciplic relationship to Rädhä. Harivaàça wrote:10

As far as those principles of the scriptures which are true and the glory of the spiritual master which is similarly true, only those who do not have faith in the process of disciplic succession established by Çré Rädhä, the queen of all the young beauties of Vraja, are ignorant. Therefore you should abide by this principle.

Thus it appears that Hita Harivaàça insisted even during his own lifetime that he was the disciple of Rädhä herself. None of the books attributed to Harivaàça contain a guru-stuti. Nor do any of the writers of Bhaktamäla works such as Näbhädäsa, his commentator Priyädäsa, or the Rädhä-vallabhé historians Uddhavadäsa, Dämodaradäsa, Bhagavat Mudita, etc., mention the name of any other guru.

Amongst the Gauòéyas, however, there is a tradition which connects Hita Harivaàça to Gopäla Bhaööa. The first version of the story is found in the Prema-viläsa (PV) of Nityänanda Däsa. It has often been pointed out that this is a book filled with interpolations and in which too much faith cannot be placed. Nevertheless, even in its earliest stratum, which may tentatively be dated to pre﷓1650, Hita Harivaàça is stated to be one of the three disciples of Gopäla Bhaööa. To this is added that 'Harivaàça disobeyed his spiritual master; thus though he had many good qualities, they were all destroyed.'11

Further editions of PV contain interpolations which expand extensively on this theme, including allegations that Harivaàça was assassinated. Kåñëadäsa's Bengali Bhaktamäla, a rather late work (c. AD 1800) (thus again not to be considered extremely reliable), gives the following summary of this Gauòéya tradition:

The deeds of Çrémän Harivaàça Gosvämé are known the world over as most pure. He was a disciple of Çrémän Gopäla Bhaööa; greatly imbued with devotion, he bore the love of Rädhä and Kåñëa. One ekädaçé [fast] day he ate the prasäda betel, and because of this his guru pronounced him guilty. Though the Gosvämé [Gopäla Bhaööa] was not angry in his heart, he outwardly chastized [Harivaàça] as an example to others. Rädhä-vallabhé gosvämés in the lineage of Harivaàça's disciples live even now in the domain of Braj. Çrémän Gopäla Bhaööa chastized him; there was not the least fault in this ﷓- Gopäla Bhaööa was the preceptor, and moreover [this was] the system; I do not know know why he [Harivaàça?] turned [against the tradition?]. Since they [the Rädhä-vallabhés] do not agree with the various other sampradäyas in social intercourse, the partaking of food and in metaphysics, a schism occurred and there is not [now] commensality [with the other sampradäyas]; Räjä [Saväé] Jayasiàha closely consulted [the scriptures]. There is no advantage in describing all these incidents now; tens of millions of obeisances to everyone.12

There is no reason to believe that this statement was maliciously motivated. Kåñëadäsa seems rather to be faithfully reproducing a tradition which was well known within the sampradäyas but wished to avoid a prolonged discussion of the friction between them, to all intents and purposes apologizing in the last couplet for having raised the issue at all. The later, embellished version of PV also includes a tale of the unsavory death of Harivaàça as a result of his 'offences' and Gopäla Bhaööa's miraculous posthumous pardoning of his disciple. It also calls his sons 'the products of sin,' etc. Kåñëadäsa's good faith is confirmed by his avoidance of these obviously unacceptable exaggerations.13 The reference to a judgment by Räjä Saväé Jayasiàha of Jaipur in this matter, evidently supporting the Gauòéya contention, has unfortunately not been corroborated.

The only internal evidence in Harivaàça's works which can be brought to bear on the matter is the use of the epithet Rädhä-ramaëa (the name of Gopäla Bhaööa's deity) in the signature verses of no less than seven of the padas in CP. This may in itself not be so startling, were it not that the name of Rädhä-vallabha, more usually associated with Harivaàça, is not found once. Signature verses usually contain the name of the author's iñöa. To encounter the name of Gopäla Bhaööa's iñöa rather than that of Harivaàça himself naturally comes as a surprise. Furthermore, there are certain similarities in the method of worship found in the Rädhä-ramaëa temple and that in the Rädhä-vallabha, such as the absence of a deity of Rädhä who is represented by a dress (gaddé-sevä). In view of Harivaàça's fabled worship of Rädhä as supreme over even Kåñëa, these similarities point to a prior relation between the two personalities.

Rather significantly however, Priyädäsa, even though himself a disciple of the Rädhä-ramaëa house, made no mention of any such relation of Harivaàça to Gopäla Bhaööa in his commentary on Bhakta-mäla (AD 1707). Indeed, even though the contentions of the Gauòéyas have been examined here in some detail, they can be discarded quite quickly on the basis of the Rädhä-ramaëa temple's own traditions, according to which Gopäla Bhaööa did not found the service to Rädhä-ramaëa until 1543. (Gopäla Bhaööa's dates are given as 1499﷓1586.)14 Since Harivaàça came to Braj in 1533 and independently founded the service of Rädhävallabha in 1535, he could not have been a püjäré of the deity Rädhäramaëa as claimed by the Gauòéyas. Harivaàça's use of the epithet Rädhä-ramaëa does not betray any sectarian affiliation as it was popular throughout the Vaiñëava world and can be found in the writings of Süradäsa as well as those of the Gauòéyas. It may well be that Harivaàça's preference for the epithet Rädhä-ramaëa reflects an early date for the composition of the songs of CP, some of which may well have been written even before he came to live permanently in Vrindavan. The name of Harivaàça's deity, Rädhävallabha, took on a sectarian significance amongst the followers of Harivaàça, and thus later commentators on CP did seem to consider the use of Rädha-ramaëa a problem.15

Furthermore, worship of Rädhä as a consecrated deity in the company of Kåñëa was not known until a later date. It is said that the wife of Nityänanda, Jähnavä, was the first to bring idols of Rädhä for worship alongside Kåñëa in many of the Vrindavan temples.

Harivaàça and Gopäla Bhaööa's doctrinal differences

Despite the above historical data, the primary thrust of the Rädhä-vallabhé apologists’ denial of the above contention of the Gauòéyas, other than to discredit the sources, is to show that Harivaàça's doctrines differ from those of Gopäla Bhaööa. Snätaka (1968:97﷓8), for instance, marshals forth four great differences:

(1) Hita Harivaàça had faith in the primacy of Rädhä, Gopäla Bhaööa did not.

(2) Hita Harivaàça worshipped Rädhä as svakéyä (Kåñëa's own wife), Gopäla Bhaööa parakéyä (the wife of some other gopa).

(3) Hita Harivaàça worshipped Rädhä in nitya-vihära, Gopäla Bhaööa was a believer in the vipralambha, love in separation.

(4) The discipline of the Gauòéyas in terms of the external rites, the deity service and finally ekädaçé fasting etc. are not accepted by Rädhä-vallabhés.

As in the discussion of Prabodhänanda's doctrinal connexion with Harivaàça, the source for these supposed dogmas of the founder of the Rädhä-vallabhé sect are based on the RRSN and the subsequent commentatorial traditions of the sect rather than anything found in his vernacular works.16 On the other hand, in view of Prabodhänanda's ideological solidarity with Harivaàça, it is to be expected that Prabodhänanda's disciple Gopäla Bhaööa's would also share in that solidarity to some extent. Furthermore, evidence that Harivaàça, Rüpa and Sanätana were identified together beyond any sectarian distinctions is provided by Hariräma Vyäsa, who mentions them together in one song.17

(1) Unfortunately, Gopäla Bhaööa has not left much in the way of written records by which the above contentions can be proved or denied. A commentary on the KKA (Kåñëa-vallabhä) is the only work which shows any rasika credentials, but his authorship of this work is not beyond doubt. His other works (HBV, etc.) show an inclination towards ritual (vaidhé bhakti) rather than to the emotive aspects of devotion more usually connected with the medieval Vaiñëava movements. In HBV, the prescribed rituals generally show a bias to Lakñmé﷓Näräyaëa, while Rädhä is only mentioned in connection with the rituals for the month of Kärttika, in the Dämodaräñöaka.18 On the other hand, Gopäla Bhaööa's commentary on the KKA includes arguments for the supremacy of Rädhä amongst the consorts of the deity. Sanätana Gosvämé, whose contribution to the compilation of the HBV is well attested,19 also eloquently proclaims Rädhä's glories in his Båhad-bhägavatämåta. Neither of these writers, however, explicitly place Rädhä in a position above even Kåñëa.

On the other hand, Rupert Snell has shown that the clear﷓cut pre﷓eminence of Rädhä is to some extent a later development and is by no means always obvious in Harivaàça’s CP other than in the eyes of its commentators (1984: 492﷓9). Numerous verses of the Sphuöa-väëé show Kåñëa-niñöhä or exclusive devotion to Kåñëa rather than to Rädhä. There are no exhortations to worship, remember or serve Rädhä exclusively as there are to worship, remember or serve Kåñëa. Other statements by Harivaàça indicate a feeling for the equality of the two: dampati rasa samatüla 'in the conjugal pleasures the two are equal' (CP, 32), kaun kare jala-taraìgani nyäre: 'who could separate the waves from a river,' i.e. they are one life in two bodies (1); ... doü rasa-laàpaöa surata-juddha jayajuta 'the two lovers are victorious in the battle of passion' (CP 3), etc.

Historically, the root of the primacy given to Rädhä is to be found in Géta-govinda where Kåñëa's anxiety in separation from Rädhä and his supplications at Rädhä's feet indicate his dependance on her (10.8).20 The goal of the Gauòéyas is kuïja-sevä, to become the handmaiden (maïjaré, däsé or priya-narma-sakhé) of Rädhä and their traditions (coming through Gopäla Bhaööa's disciple Çréniväsa Äcärya) identify Gopäla Bhaööa as Guëa Maïjaré. It thus does not seem that there was a great difference between the two schools in this area. The Gauòéyas have, however, built on the previous scriptural traditions of Vaiñëavism and thus they arrive at Rädhä's 'supremacy' by first establishing that Kåñëa is the supreme concept of godhead. The Rädhä-vallabhés, on the other hand, dispense with the theological apparatus considering it irrelevent to the business of kuïja-sevä.21 This attitude certainly contributed to the absence of an elaborated Rädhä-vallabha theology until long after Harivaàça's death.

(2) Although the Gauòéya school is generally seen as supporting the unmarried status of Rädhä and Kåñëa (parakéyä), it does not necessarily follow that Gopäla Bhaööa similarly supported this doctrine. The helmsmen of the Gauòéya school in Vrindavan, Rüpa and Sanätana, had a somewhat ambiguous stand on this issue, theologically accepting a de facto married (svakéyä) state while displaying apreference for the parakéyä condition when it came to lélä. In his commentary on the KKA, Gopäla Bhaööa does not discuss the matter other than to identify Rädhä as the supreme Lakñmé; this is the usual point of departure for the svakéyä apologists'' argument.22 Rädhä's relative absence and the prominence of Lakñmé Näräyaëa in HBV have led at least one modern scholar to speculate that the 'minority [svakéyä] viewpoint might have been reflected in the conservative spirit of [that book].'23

Jéva Gosvämé introduces his treatise Bhägavata-sandarbha with the disclaimer that it was written on the basis of an outline provided him by Gopäla Bhaööa.24 In the fourth volume of that work, Kåñëa-sandarbha, Jéva outlines the svakéyä position which is later elaborated in the Gopäla﷓campü (finished AD 1594).25 To this day, the Gosvämés of Rädhäramaëa Gherä in Vrindavan express sympathy for Jéva Gosvämé's svakéyä-väda as outlined there.26 It is certainly true that in the period following Jéva Gosvämé's Gopäla-campü, the Gauòéyas the Braj area reacted strongly to his acceptance of the svakéyä position, which though in the ascendant in Braj, was not felt to be that of Rüpa Gosvämé.

The Gauòéyas wrote a number of treatises defending the parakéyä position, arguing essentially against Jéva Gosvämé, the only theologian of any school to have formally defended the svakéyä position. In the time of Viçvanätha Cakravarté in the late 17th century, the furore over this question reached its zenith, not only in Braj but throughout the Vaiñëava world. Ill﷓feeling between the Gauòéyas and the other Vrindavan Vaiñëavas probably became high at this point. The original differences of opinion between the Rädhä-vallabhés and the Gauòéyas were likely exacerbated by this controversy, but it is improbable that this was a source of antagonism during the lifetimes of Harivaàça and Gopäla Bhaööa.

The ambiguity of Harivaàça's own position on the svakéyä/parakéyä issue is reflected somewhat in his CP, where despite the use of terms like dampati, etc. some references to the parakéyä situation can still be found. One pada (51) is clearly about the däna-lélä which only has meaning in the parakéyä situation (despite the best efforts of certain Rädhä-vallabhé commentators to show otherwise). Another pada (63.é) about the räsa also mentions that the gopés 'forgot their homes, husbands, and relatives when they heard the sound of Kåñëa's flute.' This ambiguity is also discernable in the songs of Süradäsa, as J. S. Hawley has pointed out.27

(3) From the point of view of the devotee, the spirit of separation is reflected in prayers for service and association to the deity. This is one of the main characteristics of RRSN, where two verses are even prayers for separation itself (210, 215), an attitude which is absent from Harivaàça's Brajabhäñä works. Rädhä and Kåñëa's separation has theological implications which are closely related to the parakéyä/svakéyä question. In the manifest lélä, Kåñëa is separated from all the residents of Vrindavan when he goes to Mathura to kill Kaàsa; despite Kåñëa's promises, there is no resolution of this separation in BhP. In his Båhad﷓bhägavatämåta, Sanätana Gosvämé has eulogized the feeling of separation as especially relishable.28 Thus, in his vision of the nitya-lélä, he includes a provision for Kåñëa's departure to Mathura to take place cyclically, with Kåñëa returning after a separation of only two months.29 Most of the Gauòéya äcäryas, however, seem to have found it necessary to bring Kåñëa back to Vrindavan in the manifest lélä, despite the lack of any such a precedent in the Bhägavatapuräëa. According to Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja, Caitanya instructed Rüpa Gosvämé 'never to describe Kåñëa outside of Vrindavan.'30 Verses to that effect are found in Rüpa's Laghu-bhägavatämåta, Padyävalé and Ujjvala-nélamaëi, all insisting that there is no viraha.31

Viraha is thereforea matter for the prakaöa-lélä when Kåñëa is incarnate, but has no ultimate ontological status where all devotees are eternally reunited with their Lord. Jéva even uses the same term, nitya-vihära, as Harivaàça.32 Despite this acceptance of the nitya-vihära by one of their chief theologians, however, the Gauòéyas in general continued to demonstrate a preference for the prakaöa-lélä. This predilection can be found in the writings of Jéva's guru, Rüpa Gosvämé, for whom the activities of Kåñëa during the incarnation have a special value from the point of view of rasa. The very last verses of UN state clearly Rüpa's idea that sexual union itself is not the most joyous state of love:

The happiness felt by the clever lovers in their various dalliances together are not matched by the pleasures of love﷓making. This is the opinion of the knowers of rasa.33

Thus, though the Gauòéyas accepted philosophically the eternal unity of Kåñëa and his devotees, they also felt that separation in its various forms, including the simulation of marriage to other parties, was created by Kåñëa's yogamäyä for the increased pleasure of all. Harivaàça's idea of nitya-vihära, being opposed to this conception of higher pleasure, is distinct from what became the mainstream of the Gauòéya school. However, Jéva Gosvämé, by no means a marginal thinker of that school, clearly preferred a type of nitya-vihära in the final work of his career, Saìkalpa-kalpa-druma, where he indicates that once Kåñëa and the residents of Vrindavan were reunited in the prakaöa-lélä, they never suffered separation again.34

Where Gopäla Bhaööa stood in all this is not entirely clear, unless we accept that Jéva was indebted to him for the outline of Kåñëa-sandarbha in which he developed these ideas. This would make Gopäla Bhaööa a worshipper of a svakéyä nityalélä in Goloka. If so, he is rather closer to Harivaàça than Snätaka would have us believe.

(4) The most clearly attested point of difference between the two personalities is to be found in Snätaka's fourth point. It has already been shown above that Harivaàça considered the various scriptural injunctions to have no relevance for the devotional path. Gopäla Bhaööa's HBV is a monument to his diverging convictions. Thus, even though Rüpa Gosvämé also states that rägänugä bhakti, being practised in material body, requires that the scriptural injunctions are to be followed externally while internally one performs smaraëa, etc. (i.2.295﷓6), no other writer of the Gauòéya school went to such lengths to enumerate the external practices in a way which seems to contravene the very spirit of the devotional movement to which he belonged. It can be argued that the Gauòéyas were conscious of their preaching mission and the need to harmonize their teachings with those of the existing Hindu scriptures of the smärtas. Hita Harivaàça's main tenets, i.e. the rejection of the need for sources other than those of his own revelation as well as the rules and regulations of the Småti including the ekädaçé fast and the worship of tulasé, put him at the opposite end of the spectrum from Gopäla Bhaööa. Thus, though we may not accept the substance of the Gauòéya traditions about Harivaàça and Gopäla Bhaööa, in view of the little that we do know about these two, it seems rather likely that they would have clashed.

It should be remarked, however, that at the end of HBV, Gopäla Bhaööa makes provision for those who are 'single﷓minded' (ekäntin). The following passage, found of that book seems to match the descriptions we have of Harivaàça and Prabodhänanda:

Thus for the single﷓minded who are engaged with great love in the constant singing and remembering of the Lord, other [religious] duties do not bring pleasure.

Out of some emotion, some of them have a desire to serve the feet of the deity form (çré-mürti) with their own mantra. The rules for this service are established according to their own taste.

They engage spontaneously in the enjoined permanent duties (vihiteñu nityeñu). The glory of the single﷓minded appears thus and we have therefore written of it.35

It may well be that Gopäla Bhaööa considered the renounced condition essential to the ekäntin and rägänuga devotee, as did Rädhä Kåñëa Gosvämé (Sädhanä-dépikä). In general, however, the Gauòéyas of today, renounced or householder, do not take the elaborate prescriptions of HBV very seriously. On the other hand, ekädaçé fasting, respect for tulasé, etc. are considered to be duties incumbent upon everyone. It may be noted here that in the past, claims by representatives of the Gauòéya school based on PV have been challenged in court by the Rädhävallabhés who have won damages and apologies from those who made them.36

Hita Harivaàça, the author

Four written works are ascribed to Hita Harivaàça: two in Braja﷓bhäñä and two in Sanskrit. The two Braja﷓bhäñä works, Cauräsé﷓pada (CP), often named Hita﷓cauräsé, particularly in modern recensions, and Sphuöa﷓väëé, are accepted without debate as the writings of Harivaàça. Neither of these works are integral compositions but seem rather to be collections of disparate verses and songs written by Harivaàça and compiled after his death. Most of the padas of these two works finish with signature verses containing Harivaàça's name. Two padas (11, 12) of CP have the signature (chäpa) of Naravähana, and six other verses (13, 33, 37, 50, 54, 82) appear in the anthology of Süradäsa's songs, Süra-sägara.37 Harivaàça's language is highly Sanskritized and would indicate that the author had been educated in grammar; there is no reason to believe that he was not capable of composition in Sanskrit.

The first of Harivaàça's Sanskrit works is Rädhä-rasa-sudhä-nidhi, often called Rädhä-sudhä-nidhi in Rädhä-vallabhé circles. The Yamunäñöaka is another work in Sanskrit, containing nine verses written in the païca-cämara metre. No historical investigator seems willing to state unequivocally that this is indeed a work coming from the pen of Harivaàça.


This is the more important of the two Brajabhäñä works, both in size and influence. It consists primarily of descriptions of the erotic dalliances of the divine couple of Braj, Rädhä and Kåñëa, the nitya﷓vihära, the important exception being those padas which describe the räsa with no Rädhä in sight. Several themes find repetition and can be identified as favoured by the author. Later commentators have divided the padas into chronological categories (samayas) or situations. Though the division is not necessarily true to the original text, it does show roughly in which léläs Harivaàça was interested:36

1. erotic activities (sajjä-samaya): 1﷓3, 5, 10, 16﷓18; 29, 30, 32, 34, 42, 46, 50, 66, 72, 76, 80, 82, [Total: 20]

2. the circle dance (räsa-samaya) : 12, 19, 24﷓26; 36; 61﷓63, 67﷓69; 71, 78, 79, 81 [16]

3. Rädhä's bouderie (mäna-samaya) 37﷓41, 43﷓44, 58; 64﷓65, 73﷓75, 83 [15]

4. forest sports (vana-vihära-samaya): 45, 47﷓49; 52﷓56 [9]

5. after lovemaking (suratänta-samaya): 15, 20, 21, 23, 31, 70, 77, 84 [8]

6. descriptions of the beauty of Rädhä, Kåñëa or both (çåìgära﷓samaya: 9, 13, 22, 60 [4]

7. joking together (häsa-samaya): 4﷓6; [3]

8. springtime (vasanta-samaya): 27, 28, [2]

9. bathing (snäna-samaya): 14; [1]

10. on the swing (hiëòola-samaya): 35, [1]

11. demanding the toll (däna-samaya) 51; [1]

12. playing with the colours (horé-samaya): 57 [1]

13. enjoyment of a special taste (rasa-viçeña-samaya) 59 [1]

Padas 4﷓6 could easily be assimilated into the 'after lovemaking' category for there are described the couple in the morning after a night of lovemaking, and the various signs which are the cause of merriment. The swing pastime and Holé could be assimilated into the springtime pastime as these activities are notably events associated with that season. Indeed these verses do have a certain amount of crossing over of content. The toll pastime is noticeable as it is traditionally a parakéya-lélä, only having meaning if Rädhä and the other gopés are unmarried or married to other gopas. This and some of the statements about räsa also indicate that Rädhä is a parakéyä näyikä. This contrasts with the frequent use of the terms dampati, dulhana, dulhané, Rädhäpati etc., which support the svakéyä position for which Harivaàça is known.

Some features of Harivaàça's descriptions of Rädhä and Kåñëa's erotic dalliances are worthy of note. There is a great deal of similarity between these padas and Prabodhänanda's Nikuïja-viläsa-stava (NVS). Kåñëa is pictured on five occasions undoing Rädhä's névi-bandha or waist﷓knot (padas 7, 30, 49, 50, 72); Rädhä on four occasions refuses Kåñëa saying, 'no, no.' These words are said to be 'nectarean' ﷓ neti neti vacanämåta (7, 72); neti neti madhubola: 30)39 She is also described as pratipada-pratiküla 'uncooperative at every step.' Lalitä and the other sakhés are described as looking on (7, 30, 35), 'drinking through the chalices (cañaka) of their eyes' (50), 'looking through the window of the cottage made of vines' (72).

Compare NVS: ‘her hands eager to block the arms of her dearest' (priyatama-bhuja-rodha-vyagra-hastau ratotkau 3); 'blindly intoxicated by the broken words "enough, enough" spoken playfully' ('alam alam' iti lélä-gadgadokty-unmadändhau 3); 'she said the relishable words, "what are you doing?"' ('kim iha kuruña?' ity äsvädya-väk-kiïcanokté; 4); 'uncooperative at every step' (pratipada-pratiküla; 5); 'staying the hand of the lover dropped to touch her waist﷓knot' (namita-dayita-päëi-spåñöa-névé-nibandhau, 5); 'Lalitä and the other tremulous girlfriends looked through their eyes without blinking.' (sulalita﷓Lalitäder nirëimeñäkñi-randhraiù; 23); 'the love﷓filled girl friends looked with their eyes against the windows of the copse' (praëayamaya﷓vayasyäù kuïjarandhrärpitäkñéù; 24).

Other less notable features of NVS can be found sprinkled throughout CP, such as viparéta-rati, jingling of the ankle bells during lovemaking, the dishevelled appearance of Rädhä and Kåñëa after lovemaking (described as suratänta), etc. Rädhä's playful refusal of Kåñëa's advances is also described in RRSN, 10.

The padas listed as being about mäna fit into a pattern identical to the lélä﷓cycle found in Jayadeva's Gétagovinda.40 Harivaàça, imagining himself as a sakhé, takes the role of the go﷓between (14, 15, 20, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 44, 58), goes to Rädhä and describes Kåñëa as deeply disturbed by feelings of separation from her ('devastated by passion' 6, 37, 38, 66).

Having described Kåñëa's love for her, Rädhä is convinced and taken by the sakhé to the kuïja (abhisära 39, 40, 48, etc.) where she joins the beloved ('the lady went into the bower smiling,' 20). Two padas of Sphuöa-väëé (14, 21) also fit into this pattern. The themes of mäna and abhisära with the sakhé playing a pivotal role as a go﷓between in these situations is an oft﷓encountered theme of the prayers of RRSN (21, 23, 32, 43, etc.). However, in CP this is the only type of service to which the sakhé shows an inclination.

Harivaàça's descriptions of the circle﷓dance (räsa 12, 19, 36, 79, 82, 24, 61, 64, 65) are particularly effective. Kåñëa attracts the gopés by playing the flute from under the vaàçé-vaöa tree. Harivaàça shows a great knowledge of music and musical instruments, listing the different instruments used (11, 12, 24, 26, 27, 36, 48, 57.11, 63.éi, 65), the sounds of the mådaìga tathei tathei; dancing the sudhaìga dance. Indra is described as an observer of the dance, showing the influence of the BhP version. This evident feeling for the räsa-lélä is not found in RRSN where it only figures in a few verses (59, 90, 114, 159, 160) where the dancing and music are most often peripheral to the main theme of the verse itself. Commentaries on räsa verses of CP show the influence of ARP where Kåñëa blows the flute to calm Rädhä's bouderie.

Other than these verses about räsa, the only other pada (59) which has a clear reference to BhP is that which has been called rasa-viçeña 'something special,' perhaps because of the difficulties that commentators have had in explaining it within the context of Harivaàça's doctrines. Piìgalä, the prostitute who lost faith in her way of life, is alluded to (BhP 11.8.22-44). This entire pada seems to be a statement denouncing material life and advising single﷓minded devotion to Rädhä and Kåñëa rather than one having any direct connection with the nitya-vihära. In character, it seems somewhat out of place, and would be rather more at home in Sphuöa-väëé. The name of Piìgalä is mentioned in the Bhägavata by the gopés, too, however, in the context of their response to the message sent by Kåñëa through Uddhava (10.47.47). There is thus a slight resonance with the lélä of separation.


This work is of a somewhat different character from CP though it is also evidently a posthumous collection of verses written by Harivaàça. The difference in emphasis is quite clear in that the element of devotional practice and spiritual instruction is more clear. The first nine padas of this work are all dedicated to the rejection of material goals in life and devotion to Kåñëa. Pada 20 also fits into this category.41 Two other songs (18, 19) are äratis, also dedicated exclusively to Kåñëa, the second one in particular emphasizing devotion to Kåñëa without any mention of Rädhä. One pada describes the birth of Kåñëa (11), another that of Rädhä (16). These are, of course, prakaöa-lélä events, and therefore, strictly speaking, do not take place in the nitya-vihära.


The Rädhävallabhés' claims that Harivaàça was the author of RRSN are strongly supported by a solid tradition which contains at least sixteen commentaries on this work, mostly written in Brajabhäñä. Harivaàça's son Kåñëacandra also wrote a rather inferior pastiche of the work called Upa-sudhä-nidhi, in which he does not, however, attest to his father's authorship of the original.43 The tradition is further confirmed by manuscript evidence which overwhelmingly supports Harivaàça's authorship. Of the nine MSS found in the Vrindavan Research Institute collection, seven are ascribed to him, only two to Prabodhänanda. These two have been shown by Snell (1984:52) to bear signs of tampering: dedications to Caitanya have apparently been interpolated at the beginning and end of the work and the numbering of the verses adjusted.44 S. K. De earlier came to similar conclusions on the basis of MS descriptions found in the India Office, Bodleian and Asiatic Society of Bengal catalogues.45 He states there that 'it is obviously a case of appropriation by the Caitanya sect of a work composed by Hita Harivaàça.'

The legend that Harivaàça wrote the work when he was only six months old might have been created to counteract Gauòéya claims for Prabodhänanda's authorship. RRSN 264, a verse which reflects sentiments frequently expressed in VMA46 makes it clear that the work was written in Vrindavan.

All those who have come to this sweet Vrindavan

with its wonderful, eternal glories

possess forms which are eternal

and can bestow the concentrated sacred sentiment;

they are easily visible only to

those who are the greatest of the yogés.

When I saw them as they are --

even though some are cruel or sinners,

and others not worthy to be spoken to or even seen by the pious --

I came to consider them supremely worshipable.47

It is curious that Dämodaradäsa, the first disciple of Harivaàça to write in Brajabhäñä about the glories of his master, though making frequent references to portions of the CP, gives no indication of a knowledge of the themes of RRSN, or even its language or terminology. Though the glories of Rädhä and Kåñëa, their erotic sports, even the witnessing of the activities by Lalitä and the other sakhés (i.e., the themes of CP) are mentioned in Sevaka-väëé, there is no talk of service to Rädhä in anything resembling the manner of RRSN, or even of VMA. In view of the importance which RRSN had in forming the doctrines of the sect, this absence could not be explained on the basis of Dämodaradäsa's supposed ignorance of Sanskrit.

Surprisingly, in view of the nature of the Gauòéyas' arguments based on internal evidence demonstrating Prabodhänanda's probable authorship of the RRSN, Rädhä-vallabhé apologists have rested their case on MS evidence and the support of impartial researchers such as S. K. De. Snätaka, for instance, has only offered a comparison between CP 7 and RRSN 247 to support Harivaàça’s authorship. In both cases, Rädhä sees her reflection in Kåñëa's chest and in confusion becomes jealous, though the detail of the latter version is far more refined.

The concept itself is not altogether original for there is a verse with a similar theme in Subhäñita-ratna-koña (4.35) in which Lakñmé becomes jealous upon seeing her own reflection multiplied infinitely in the eyes of the many﷓headed serpent Çeña, taking them to be other mistresses of Viñëu. Numerous other variations on the theme have been brought forth by Vaiñëava poets.48 The brevity of the CP version itself makes it clear that the audience was expected to be familiar with the conceit. The RRSN refines the incident by adding that Rädhä leaves Kåñëa's side and goes to complain to a sakhé which the author prays to hear. Some other of the léläs found in the RRSN have echoes in CP, such as Rädhä and Kåñëa's exchanging clothes in the heat of passion. In RRSN 76, the author prays for the service of making the adjustment on Rädhä's clothing when she is thus mistakenly dressed. CP (4) contains this theme of cross﷓dressing, but without the prayer for service.

Of the other distinctive features of RRSN (see next section), Harivaàça does occasionally use a few of the terms which are encountered frequently in RRSN: e.g. the word rasa-sindhu appears twice. In one place, he hints at the inaccessibility of the loves of Rädhä and Kåñëa to Brahmä and other gods (CP, 18), and in another offers obeisance to Vrindavan (CP, 57), a feature also met with in RRSN 266.

Harivaàça's other Sanskrit work, Yamunäñöaka (the authorship of which, as we have seen, is not entirely beyond doubt), also contains some of the vocabulary which is found in the RRSN: rasaikaséman (2), mahä-rasäbdhi (3). The eighth verse also contains two ideas which are repeatedly found in RRSN as well as the works of Prabodhänanda: the object of worship also being the object of meditation of the great sages including Närada and that of a supreme goal of life.49 Generally Prabodhänanda talks about Rädhä and Kåñëa, or service to them, being beyond Närada and the sages.

These few correlations, however, do not present an overwhelming case for the identity of authorship of the CP, Sphuöa-väëé, and RRSN. Indeed, even though Harivaàça's Brajabhäñä works were collected after his death, the burning question is why did the spirit of RRSN never enter into those writings? The vernacular hymn would have been the perfect vehicle for transmitting the essential aspects of RRSN's message, exclusive devotion to Rädhä and the desire for service in the kuïja, to the Rädhä-vallabhé congregation. The absence of this spirit of RRSN in any of Harivaàça's other writings, when contrasted with its presence in those of Prabodhänanda, combined with the preponderance of stylistic, linguistic and other similarities existing between this work and Prabodhänanda's writings, would seem to justify Gauòéya claims that he was the author of that work. If we add to this the fact that certain pronounced usages in CP, such as Harivaàça's favoured epithet for Rädhä, bhäminé, are completely absent from RRSN, the case for Prabodhänanda's authorship becomes quite strong.


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