Manjari-bhava is the end of sambandha

In the debate between those who support a purely literal interpretation of scripture and those who prefer a symbolic or esoteric interpretation, I would say that the literal is literally not understood without the esoteric. Truth lies where symbol and life merge.

There are always multiple levels of interpretation, none of which are incorrect and which are probably hierarchical, but all are nevertheless anchored in real experience in the world, usually taken in an idealistic form, or as some would have it as a projected wish-fulfillment fantasy. Though that may indeed be true, it is possible to understand the literal as something that is self created, as per the verse in the Bhāgavata:

tvaṁ bhakti-yoga-paribhāvita-hṛt-saroja
āsse śrutekṣita-patho nanu nātha puṁsām|
yad-yad-dhiyā ta urugāya vibhāvayanti
tat-tad-vapuḥ praṇayase sad-anugrahāya ||
O Master! You take your seat in the lotus heart that has been made worthy of you through love. Even so, the way to reach you can be understood through hearing. Out of kindness toward your devotees, O Lord who are greatly glorified, You take the very form that they meditate on, appearing to them in that form. (3.9.11)
Like so many Bhagavata verses, this one requires a great deal of thought on several words and there is plenty of room for subtle but important differences of interpretation, for which the different commentaries are to be consulted.

Jiva Goswami is perhaps the most categorical: śruteksita-patha ity anena kalpanāyā nirastatvāt means that there is no room for pure imagining here, we are bound to accept the scriptural version, or the version of revelation in the paramparā.

I personally feel that we are bound to it in bhakti-yoga. I don't see how bhakti can function without a received tradition. In fact I don't see how humanity can operate without incorporating in good faith the received wisdom of the past. That is why the whole business of self-revelation through purification alone is rejected by Jiva Goswami, particularly in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.3.1.

If the esoteric interpretation could be divorced from the literal, then it would cease to be bhakti and would become jñāna.

With regards to options. It is true that Rupa Goswami presents many options, but only to reveal a hierarchy.

No doubt. But that relation always takes a form. And most likely that form is not exactly the one you are living in right now. sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi.

The form that has been heard from the guru and scripture, and is then seen in the mind, and which the devotee then creates through bhakti in the heart, and which is then revealed by the Lord to the devotee in both the sādhaka and siddha bodies. sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi

The end is more similar to the beginning than one may think. The beginning is not radically different from the end, like the mountain seen from afar is not different from the mountain whose pinnacle you stand on. Or like this example:

yathānalaḥ khe'nila-bandhur uṣmā
balena dāruṇy adhimathyamānaḥ |
aṇuḥ prajāto haviṣā samedhate
tathaiva me vyaktir iyaṁ hi vāṇī ||
Just as fire, the friend of air, which first manifests [in experience] as heat in the sky, then as a spark in the wood that has been repeatedly churned with force, and then growing larger blazes forth with the help of oblations poured into it, so does this teaching (vāṇī) reveal me [Krishna]. (11.12.18)
Krishna said in the verse I quoted above that the devotee chooses. But I know that we disagree here, so I won't belabor it. And I know that we don't agree on Radha and Krishna as the Divine Couple being the object of worship, even though that is Jiva Goswami's opinion at the end of the first four Sandarbhas.

ataḥ sarvato'pi sāndrānanda-camatkāra-kāra-śrīkṛṣṇa-prakāśe 
śrī-vṛndāvane'pi paramādbhuta-prakāśaḥ śrīrādhayā yugalitas tu śrīkṛṣṇa iti |...

tad evaṁ sandarbha-catuṣṭayena sambandho vyākhyātaḥ | tasminn api sambandhe śrī-rādhā-mādhava-rūpeṇaiva prādurbhāvas tasya sambandhinaḥ paramaḥ prakarṣaḥ | etad artham eva vyatāniṣamimāḥ sarvā api paripāṭīr iti pūrṇaḥ sambandhaḥ |

gaura-śyāma-rucojjvalābhir amalair akṣṇor vilāsotsavair
nṛtyantībhir aśeṣa-mādana-kalā-vaidagdhya-digdhātmabhiḥ |
anyonya-priyatā-sudhā-parimala-stomonmadābhiḥ sadā
rādhā-mādhava-mādhurībhir abhitaś cittaṁ mamākrāmyatām||

This is Satya Narayan Das Babaji's unedited translation:
Therefore, among prakash of Sri Krishna which causes most astonishing supreme bliss, in Vrindavan also, the most amazing prakash is Sri Krishna coupled with Sri Radha.

In this way, the sambandha-tattva has been explained in four Sandarbhas. Furthermore, in this sambandha, the supreme limit of the sambandhī is found in the manifestation of Sri Radha and Madhava’s form. For this reason only all these styles and ways were expanded. In this way the sambandha is complete.

Let my heart be ever overpowered from all sides by the sweetness of Sri Radha and Madhava who have the golden and blackish brilliance, manifesting the pure, festival of the movements of their eyes dancing, who are completely soaked in the expertise of the art of amorous activities, and who are supremely delighted by the fragrance of the ambrosia of mutual love.

I believe that Krishna separates the jivas for the sake of love, which is only meaningful if there is free will. And even if that free will is only an appearance, it is a necessary one that may as well be accepted as real, because without it there is no rasa.

Why? Because without free will one cannot even be a proper audience. I am saying the appearance is necessary, for the sake of experience. There are two kinds of illusion, both require the sense of independence. I am not saying it is real.

We talk about bhedābheda. We mostly emphasize bheda, that is why we glorify separation. Separation is glorified, but it can only have meaning if there is union. So this is what is going on in the latter portion of Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha, Jiva is explaining how the līlā of union and the līlā of separation exist simultaneously and interdependently.

Separation has to exist on some level for rasa to exist. Separation means the illusion of separation, if you like, but separation nevertheless. Otherwise there is no meaning to individual consciousness, separate from the Supreme Consciousness.

Whether that separation lasts a fraction of a second -- which may seem like a million years -- or more, does not matter, it is enough to confirm what I am saying.

Bheda and abheda are simultaneous and constant. The abheda is true, the tattva is advaya tattva. But the bheda also has to be true or there is no meaning to bhakti.

Even if from the siddhānta level, I emphasize my unity with God, in whatever particular understanding I have of that identity -- either as an absolute identity, or identity of will as with Paramatma consciousness, or on that of līlā where I also am a distinct consciousness in relation to It, but completely absorbed in It.

The union or oneness is experienced in the state of absorption of one in the other, but this never eliminates the separation because the līlā cannot exist without it. At any time.


Popular posts from this blog

"RadhaKrishn" TV serial under fire

Getting to asana siddhi

What is sthayi-bhava?