The higher sthayi bhavas and their relation to Yugala Sadhana

In an earlier article we discussed briefly how the three divisions of sādhāraṇī, samañjasā and samarthā corresponded to actual human relationships, along the axis of kāma to prema, in accordance with Rupa Goswami’s definitions. Indeed, they do constitute a bit of a mystery where the lila is concerned, since Kubjā is described as having lust for Krishna, a lust that is differentiated from that of the gopis, whose love has become undifferentiated from their sensual desire for him.

Therefore it was stated that sādhāraṇī rati's limit where the higher sthāyi-bhāvas are concerned is prema, the first rung on that ladder.

ādyā premāntimāṁ tatrānurāgāntāṁ samañjasā |
ratir bhāvāntimāṁ sīmāṁ samarthaiva prapadyate ||
The first (sādhāraṇī) only reaches as far as prema (i.e., the sthāyi-bhāva of that name), while samañjasā goes as far as anurāga. Only samarthā reaches the absolute limits of mahā-bhāva. (UN 14.232)
This verse makes it clear that there are limits to what can be achieved by these different kinds of rati, and their differences are manifest in each of the stages.

We have been discussing the sthāyi-bhāvas on and off in several articles of late. I would like today to simply point out an interesting correspondence between the stages of sādhana-bhakti given by Rupa Goswami in BRS 1.4.14-15 and the higher sthāyi-bhāvas, which form the substance of the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, chapter 14, and summarized in UN 14.59-61:

syād dṛḍheyaṁ ratiḥ premā prodyan snehaḥ kramād ayam |
syān mānaḥ praṇayo rāgo’nurāgo bhāva ity api ||
bījam ikṣuḥ sa ca rasaḥ sa guḍaḥ khaṇḍa eva saḥ |
sa śarkarā sitā sā ca sā yathā syāt sitopalā ||
ataḥ prema-vilāsāḥ syur bhāvāḥ snehādayas tu ṣaṭ |
prāyo vyavahriyante'mī prema-śabdena sūribhiḥ ||
The rati of love for Krishna as it becomes firmer is first called prema, then it develops to sneha next in sequence. Then it would become māna, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga and finally bhāva. These are compared to the development of sugar from seed, to cane, to juice, to molasses, to jaggery, to sugar, to hard sugar and then to sugar candy. These are all the play of love in six divisions from sneha and so on, but the sages generally refer to them all by the one word, prema.
The first thing to note here is that the prema spoken of here is a sthāyi-bhāva and not exactly the same thing as prema in the sequence of the sādhanā bhakti. The word is the same but being used in slightly different ways, as the above verses already make clear.

So Rupa Goswami is talking about a progression from a lower stage to a higher in both of these sequences. We often hear it said that these higher sthāyi-bhāvas can only be experienced in the līlā itself and not in the sādhaka deha. In other words, only the first list is of concern to a practitioner of bhakti, the second list belongs to something outside the realm of direct experience. It is our contention throughout this blog that such a simple bifurcation of the two realms is false. And so, in this view, the latter are indeed progressive stages of sādhana; but in the Sahajiya view, the first set of progressions belongs to the pravartaka stage, the second to the sādhanā stage as conceived in that system.

In other words, the first set of progressions is in the singular stage, the second in the dual. The two progressions can be paralleled in the following way.

mādanākhya, etc.

This is not the place to get into an exhaustive analysis of each of these stages, as there are numerous subdivisions of each.

The strongest places of correspondence are:
  1. śraddhā and prema
  2. anartha-nivṛtti and māna
  3. niṣṭhā and praṇaya
  4. bhāva and [mahā-]bhāva
Being the first stage, śraddhā corresponds to prema.

The definition of śraddhā in BRS given by Rupa and the commentaries as dṛḍha-niścaya, "firm certainty." Or, śāstrārtha-viśvāsa-rūpatvam, "belief in the purport of the scriptures." This is the only qualification (adhikāra) for the practice of bhaktiŚraddhā is experienced on three levels, which differentiates the adhikāris for bhakti. The lowest of these three has "soft" (komalā) faith. The middling adhikāri has faith, but the uttama adhikāri has faith that is prauḍhā, strong or fully developed.

According to Vishwanath, a person with soft faith means that because he is capable of being defeated by scriptural or logical arguments he momentarily becomes uncertain of his choices, but not completely. If he were completely overcome he would not be a devotee at all. So despite the inner turmoil that comes from contact with non-devotees, by his very own powers of discrimination is able to realign himself with the purpose of his guru's instructions. (komala-śraddhaḥ śāstra-yukty-antareṇa bhettuṁ śakyo, na tu sarvathā bhinnaḥ | tathātve bhaktatvānupapatteḥ | bahirmukha-kṛta-balavad-bādhe sati kṣaṇa-mātraṁ cittasya dolāyamānatvam eva komalatvam | paścāt svakṛta-vivekena gurūpadiṣṭārtham eva niścinoti; BRS 1.2.19)

Interestingly, a parallel division is found in the prema on the UN's list. The definition of prema given there is as follows:

sarvathā dhvaṁsa-rahitaḥ saty api dhvaṁsa-kāraṇe |
yad bhāva-bandhanaṁ yūnoḥ sa premā parikīrtitaḥ ||
Even though there are many reasons for it to come to an end, when the relationship between lovers does not break, then that is called prema. (UN 14.57)
Here again, Rupa Goswami subdivides into three categories: strong (prauḍha) middling (madhya), and weak (manda). Sri Rupa gives two alternatives as a description. The first describes the effect on the loved one. If the love is strong, in times of absence, the pain of the āśraya is transmitted to the viṣaya, i.e. Krishna. In the lesser levels, he can tolerate it or even ignore it.

In the second classification, if the prema is strong, separation is intolerable, tolerable only with difficulty, and in the weakest division, one can even forget.

I would like to draw attention to Rupa's words (14.77) that in the lower stage of prema, there can sometimes even be forgetfulness (kutrāpi vismṛtiḥ). In other words, momentary forgetfulness does not stop it from being prema, according to Jiva Goswami because there is regret afterwards.

For the sādhaka in a man’s body, it is crucial to note that though these descriptions are of the āśraya, i.e., the particular consorts of Krishna, that they apply equally to the male. The male, according to this scheme, is forced to respond to the particular sthāyi-bhāva of the female partner.

yasyā yādṛśa-jātīyaḥ kṛṣṇe premābhyudañcati |
tasyāṁ tādṛśa-jātīyaḥ sa kṛṣṇasyāpy udīyate ||
According to the particular love that arises in the beloved towards Krishna, the same category of prema towards the beloved arises in Krishna also. (UN 14.62)
(2) Māna, which defined by Rupa Goswami as adākṣiṇyaṁ, or uncooperativeness. And this is really the main point of this article. Māna is equivalent to anartha-nivṛtti. I don't think that I need to say much more than I did in the article on Radharani's māna in the Gīta-govinda, which I strongly recommend.

The idea here is again that of mutual guruship. The fundamental dynamic of purification in the Dual relationship is that of union and separation. Māna is found discussed in two places in the UN, once as a sthāyi-bhāva and once as an aspect of separation in the lila. Although the two are obviously connected, we are in it here as a sthāyi-bhāva. The connection is that of rati to rasa. Radharani's anger towards Krishna is meant to function as a purification for his sense of ego, "I am God." As long as the vestiges of aiśvarya are present in him, mādhurya remains inaccessible. 

On the level of the sādhaka, new levels of purification are found in the Dual relationship, new levels of anartha-nivṛtti that are almost impossible to address without directly facing practical questions of sexual behavior, desire and interaction. 

In actual fact, māna is the withholding of union, even where lovers are together or potentially together. That withholding can be intentional or unintentional. Krishna says, "Neither I nor the gopis really know what is going on. Yogamaya is in charge; she brings us together and separates us." Yogamaya here means that Love itself is in charge and Love cannot tolerate even a spot of impurity. When one has surrendered to Love, then one must expect that Love will withhold her own power, i.e., the power of pleasure that is experienced in union or communion, in order to purify one's love of any impurities.

The contract of love is basically this: "I give everything, I demand nothing. I will be satisfied with my feelings of love alone, and even in the absence of reciprocation, I will not falter."

This is the purport of Krishna's verses in the Rasa-lila chapters, where he speaks as the personification of Love, not as one subordinate to the same rules:

nāhaṁ tu sakhyo bhajato'pi jantūn
bhajāmy amīṣām anuvṛtti-vṛttaye
yathādhano labdha-dhane vinaṣṭe
tac-cintayānyan nibhṛto na veda
O friends, I am different in that I do not simply respond mechanically to the devotion of those who worship me. Rather, [I wish to see their love increase until], like the poor man who has lost a fortune and in his loneliness can think of nothing else [they can think of nothing but me]. (BhP 10.32.20)
evaṁ mad-arthojjhita-loka-veda-
svānāṁ hi vo mayy anuvṛttaye'balāḥ |
mayā parokṣaṁ bhajatā tirohitaṁ
māsūyituṁ mārhatha tat priyaṁ priyāḥ ||
Thus, because you gave up worldly happiness, religion and family in order to attain me, O weak ones! even though you could not see me, I was always there beside you, rewarding your love. So therefore, you should not be angry with me, as lovers [always forgive] their beloved. (10.32.21),
na pāraye'haṁ niravadya-saṁyujāṁ
sva-sādhu-kṛtyaṁ vibudhāyuṣāpi vaḥ |
yā mābhajan durjara-geha-śṛṅkhalāḥ
saṁvṛścya tad vaḥ pratiyātu sādhunā ||
I am left powerless, for even if were given the lifetime of the gods to try to repay you for your good deeds [in loving me], I would be unable, for you have dedicated yourselves to me completely, breaking off the powerful chains that kept you bound to home and family to do so. May you therefore be satisfied with your good deeds alone. (10.32.22)
This is obviously the stage with the most turmoil emotionally. Though all separation has the effect of purifying love, none is quite as strong as māna, because that is where the relationship, ego, etc., are all put on the line for the purification of love.

In his commentary to UN 14.59-61 Vishwanath is of the opinion that since the progression of sugar from seed to sugar candy means a transformation that is not reversible, so also the progression of sthāyi-bhāvas is non-reversible. If this is the case, then one has the hope that one can progress beyond the stage of elimination of defects, but it seems to me that as an element of lila, the purification process goes on infinitely, though in the higher reaches of prema, the smallest impurities, the tiniest separations, become increasingly intolerable.

(3) The stage after māna is praṇaya, which is characterized by viśrambha or “trust.” I am equating this with niṣṭhā first of all because of its place in the line. Māna is characterized by distrust. Even though the interactions of love and the inner commitment have taken place, there is still doubt due to the remaining impurities or anarthas. When those are cleared away, just as one can take up the path of bhajana with niṣṭhā, the lovers are once again able to trust one another.

Jiva Goswami says that viśrambha means feeling oneself to be inseparable from the beloved (viśrambhaṁ priya-janena saha svayābheda-mananam). But the usual definition is more like that given by Vishwanath: "It means belief without fear or formal reverence" (viśvāsaḥ sambhrama-rāhityaṁ). Elsewhere, the definition is given simply as gāḍha-viśvāsaḥ or intense belief. Here the parallel with niṣṭhā is clear, since niṣṭhā is often viewed as a kind of turbo-charged faith.

This is also Rupa Goswami's definition in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, where it is an important part of defining sakhya or friendship.

viśrambho gāḍha-viśvāsa-viśeṣo yantraṇojjhitaḥ 
Trust means a particular kind of deep belief, free of compulsion. (BRS 3.3.106)
So, in that other sequence of sthāyis, i.e, the principal five rasas, this is where sakhya within madhura develops and reaches full flowering. It is free of sambhrama, i.e, the sense of inequality, and the freedom from compulsion indicates the sense of oneness with the beloved. This abheda-mananam now becomes stronger and stronger until in mahā-bhāva it reaches that state of nirdhūta-bheda-bhramam.

(4) Bhāva and mahā-bhāva. This is a big subject and I will not get into it here, even though we have tried previously to disambiguate the usage of this term. Suffice it to say that mahābhāva is the archetypal mood of love from which all others arise, just like when we use the word īśvara or maheśvara it ultimately finds its meaning in bhagavān. 

bhāvas tv asyātraiva prakarṣān mukhyatayā tac-chabdas tv atraiva paryavasyati īśvara-śabdo bhagavatīvety abhiprāyaḥ | kintu mahābhāva-śabdas tv atra maheśvara-śabdavaj jñeyaḥ ||


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