Another side of Bhaktivinoda Thakur 3: Svarasiki Bhajan

Concerning the five stages of sadhana that come along with our receiving ekādaśa-bhāva from the guru, we have already discussed the first two in the last chapter, namely śravaṇa-daśā and varaṇa-daśā. We will now discuss the third stage, which is called smaraṇa-daśā. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur also terms this practice svarasiki bhajan. In the last chapter of Harināma-cintāmaṇi, he advises

nija siddha ekādaśa bhāve vratī haye |
smaribe sudṛḍha-citte nija-bhāva-caye ||79||
smaraṇe vicāra eka āche ta sundara |
āpanera yogya-smṛti kara nirantara ||80||
āpanera ayogya smaraṇa yadi haya |
bahu yuga sādhile-o siddhi kabhu naya ||81||
While taking up a vrata to fix your mind on lila smarana with the eleven items of your siddha gopi svarupa there is a beautiful consideration: You only need to perform the kind of smarana that you enjoy doing because if you try to meditate on the instances in the lila or the kinds of sevā that you don’t prefer, siddhi can never be attained. (Harināma-cintāmaṇi 15.79-81)
Now just how is this sadhana to be performed? Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains as follows:

svārasikī upāsanā ha-ibe udaya |
līlocita pīṭhe kṛṣṇe darśana karaya ||51||
saṅge saṅge guru-kṛpā siddha-svarūpete |
līlāya praveśe bhakta sakhīra saṅgete ||52||
mahābhāva svarūpiṇī vṛṣabhānu-sutā |
tāṅra anugata bhakti sadā prema-yutā ||53||
sakhī ājñā mate kare yugala-sevāna |
mahā-preme magna haya se rasika jana ||54||
Svarasiki smarana means to envision Krishna performing his lila according to the time and the place in the ashta kala. By guru kripa one will enter the lila and approach mahabhava svarupini Vrishabhanu Nandini Radha and Krishna to perform their Yugal sevā under the sakhi’s direction. The rasika bhaktas who steep themselves in such sadhana surely become overwhelmed in maha-prema. (Harināma-cintāmaṇi 15.51-54)
An example

To give some idea about how svārasikī smaraṇa is executed, we shall now enter the lila in our guru pradatta manjari svarupa named Paramasukhi.

It is the summer season at Radha Kund. During the midday pastimes, Radha and Krishna and the sakhis are enjoying jala-keli and various sangama vihara in the water. This is when the manjaris busily prepare for the upcoming lilas. Those belonging to Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s goshthi (his group of followers) serve under the leading sakhis and manjaris in Ananga Manjari’s group. Though because Ananga is a yutheshwari herself. She is also enjoying jala-keli with Krishna, her didi Radha, and the other sakhis in the kund.

Now as everyone comes out of the water, the manjaris will bathe and dress them, serve them a wonderful meal, and arrange for everyone’s midday nap. In Govinda-līlāmṛta these lilas take place in Ranga Devi’s kunj in the southwest corner of Radha Kund. But since we belong to Ananga Manjari’s group, these same pastimes unfold for us in her salila kamala mandir which is an island in the center of Radha Kund. This mandira appears like a 16-petaled lotus, and it is made from bright rubies that sparkle in the sun. But the inside is cooling, as the floor and the ceiling are made from moonstone, and the pillars are crafted from emeralds.

The manjaris' various sevā is awarded to them according to their respective talents. My guru-rupa sakhi, Lata Manjari, gave me anga-sevā, the task of massaging them with oil followed by udvartana and bathing. Udvartana is a scented powder that is used to remove the oil after a massage. And that is going to happen right now. When receiving ekādaśa-bhāva I asked my guru if I could be a little older for a few reasons. One of those is that I can lead a small group of my own since my sevā usually requires teamwork.

Ananga Manjari and her didi Radha have just entered a private bathing pavilion. But I distinctly noticed Krishna sneaking in there behind them. The pavilion is made of suryakanta mani (sun crystal or natural star ruby gemstone), and its lattice designed windows allow those inside to see out. But from the outside no one can see in. The crystal steps that descend into the water allow Ananga and Radha to bathe in privacy.

As I arrive there with four manjaris, who will work in pairs, we find Ananga Manjari and Radha chastizing Krishna for entering their private bathing chamber. But since there happen to be three snana vedis inside, I humbly request Radha, “Why don’t we allow your Rasika Nagara to bathe here too? After all, there is enough room for everyone.”

Ananga Manjari replies, “Then how can we bathe in peace? For as soon as we start to undress, won’t this anuragi purusha stir up trouble?”

Then I suggest, “Look here, I have brought a mallika flower blindfold . We could fasten this around Krishna’s eyes…”

Krishna protests and tries to ward it off. That is when I softly whisper, “Hey Prabhu, please be patient for a moment and then we will fulfill your desire.”

After Krishna’s blindfold is secured in place, I start to massage his body with scented oil. But oh my, that turns out to be quite difficult as his hands are so restless. Seeing how Krishna is preoccupied, Radha and Ananga smile at me. Then they recline on their snana vedis to give the manjaris a chance to perform their coveted sevā. The four manjaris are expert in massage and their sevā is so relaxing that Radha and Ananga close their eyes in rapture.

This is when I silently remove Shyama’s blindfold and observe the movement of his eyes with interest. They instantly soar like thirsty bumblebees to the unadorned beauty of his two greatest prema vallabhas. And, relishing the wonderful netrotsava of their bodily splendor, Krishna’s zeal to take up the manjari’s sevā awakens. In fact, he can’t wait to begin. So as he eagerly motions to me to give him the udvartana, I think, “Let me fulfill his desire, for this will make both my swaminis happy too!”

Clasping the udvartana container in his hand, Krishna expands himself into two murtis and quickly nudges the four manjaris aside. Although Radha and Ananga had almost been put to sleep by their relaxing massage, the two manjaris now perceive something quite different – the amorous caresses of Sri Vrindavan's Shringar Rasaraj! Their eyes open instinctively and they find themselves in a startling predicament. But it's too late, for Krishna pounces like a lion to strongly embrace them and begin madana-vilasa.

"Oh wow! Just look!" the manjaris exclaim. "Has the sobriety of our two vāmā yutheshwaris been snapped? Because to retaliate Krishna's assault they are swiftly climbing over his chest to launch a counterattack! And their amazing burst of energy has caught Krishna off guard. In fact, even though he is the one who started this terrific love battle, they might be the victors!"

The rati-keli that began over the snana vedi progresses to the pavilion's snana ghat, and there it reaches a thrilling climax in the water! Witnessing the spectacle, the rasa-pandit manjaris declare, "Oh my! Without our even having to bathe them their avabhṛtha snāna has been completed."  [The avabhṛtha snāna is the sacred bath that comes at the conclusion of a great sacrifice.]

Knowing exactly what to do, the manjaris skilfully freshen up Radha, Ananga and their rasika nagar, and put on their upper and lower garments. On Radha's cue then, as we all nonchalantly step out from the snana pavilion, it's amazing that no one amongst the sakhis can fathom what has just happened, not even Lalita.

Vesha Rachana. (Dressing and Decorating)

Escorting Radha, Krishna and Ananga to a special chamber on the padma mandir's east side, Ratna Manjari seats them on three separate shringar vedis. Today it is her desire to dress them in flower outfits that will mesmerize even Kandarpa and Rati, the god and goddess of amorous love.

[Ratna Manjari is Ramachandra Goswami (Ramai Thakur), Jahnava Thakurani's adopted son and disciple. The acharyas in the disciplic succession into which Bhaktivinoda Thakur was initiated are all Ramachandra Goswami's descendants. Rasa Manjari is Rajavallabh Goswami, Ramachandra's nephew and disciple. Kanaka Manjari is Keshava Chandra Goswami, Rajavallabh Goswami's disciple. Dana Manjari is Dayaram Goswami, and his daughter and disciple Maheshwari Goswamini is Madhu Manjari. In this way, gopī-ānugatya-sevā can be executed by following the manjari svarupas of each guru parampara member.]

Since it is the summertime lots of white flowers are available. Vilasa and Kamala Manjari direct the manjaris who are making Radha and Ananga's ghaghra and Krishna's dhoti from soft white lotus petals. An assortment of mallika, malati and juthi flowers have also been collected to make their oranas and chadar. Dana Manjari then fashions Radha and Ananga's kanchulis from pink, yellow and red lotus petals, as Kanaka and Madhu Manjari make flower crowns, bracelets and bangles.

Meanwhile back at the shringar vedis, Radha, Krishna and Ananga's hair is dried with the scented smoke of aguru incense. Ratna Manjari then ties Krishna's hair into an attractive chura topknot with a pearl string and decorates it with flowers and peacock feathers. Rasa and Kanaka Manjari fashion Radha and Ananga's hair into lovely venis [braids] that they decorate with mallika and bakul malas. Some other sevā dāsīs then smear kunkum over Radha, Krishna and Ananga Manjari's entire bodies.

This is when I use fragrant musk to paint Cupid's pañca-bāṇa [his five flower arrows] over Radha's splendid kucha yugala [breasts]. While noticing my expertise, however, Krishna insists that he can do the job better and takes the brush from my hand. But as he focuses on the exceptionally beautiful contour of Radha's breasts, his hand starts shaking, and thus he blotches up all of my wonderful patravali designs. Such audacity triggers Radha's anger and so to teach him a lesson she bops him right on the head with her lila kamal [the blue lotus (indivara) that Rai Rangini loves to twirl in her right hand], and this makes all of the sakhis laugh.

Amrita Bhojan

After shringar, Radha, Krishna and Ananga's attire is simply breathtaking to behold. That is when Vrinda escorts everyone to the padma mandir's south side and shows them the bhojan vedi. Here there is a vast assortment of sliced fruits, sweet confections and other delectable items selectively arranged on lotus leaf plates, banana leaves or in leaf cups.

In the description found in Govinda-līlāmṛta, Krishna enjoys this meal with Subal, Madhumangal and some other priya-narma sakhas, as Radha and her sakhis serve. But in Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, Vishwanath shows how Krishna's bhojanananda escalates as he expands into many murtis to sit face-to-face with each gopa kishori. Then Krishna gets to feed all of them as they lovingly feed him. In this personal version of svarasiki smarana, this same lila will unfold in Ananga Manjari's padma mandir. So as Radha-Krishna and Ananga-Krishna sit face to face on flower asanas in the center, the sakhis seat themselves in three concentric circles surrounding them. Then Yogeshwar Krishna expands into many murtis to enjoy bhojana-vilāsa with each one of his sundari vallabhas.

The manjaris first serve the white, red, yellow and green coconuts with their juice and pulp. Then Vrinda Devi brings out a large variety of ripe mangoes for everyone to savor. Next, the jackfruit is served with many other kinds of exotic fruits that are simply beyond the imagination.

Wishing to introduce me to the leading sakhis in Ananga Manjari's group, my guru manjari asks me to serve them. So I begin with her ashta sakhis, for just as Radha has her renowned eight chief sakhis, so does Ananga Manjari. Their names are: Suvada, Rasada, Rambha, Keli, Kandalika, Nanda, Jayanti and Tulasi. These eight sakhis are sitting the closest to Ananga and Krishna in the first circle. Next I go to serve the sakhis seated in the outer circles. Some of their names are Kausalya, Kamini, Ragavallika, Kaumudi, Rupavati, Rasavati, Rasalika, Rambhavati, Kalarupa, Lilarati, Ragamala, Rasabhadra, Kandarpika, Premada and Preyasipurna.

[It should be noted that all these names have been listed by Ramachandra Goswami in his Anaṅga-mañjarī-sampuṭikā.]

As I carry a golden tray filled with lots of fruits, sweets and other items. I first notice that these wonderful edibles are secondary. For it is Krishna and the gopis' rupa madhuri or incredible bodily splendor that they are really feasting on! What is more, as so many gopis dine with so many Krishnas, none of them are aware that so many other Krishna's are feasting with all of the other gopis. For each gopi thinks that Krishna is with her alone, giving special mercy to her.

Though while placing the delicious edibles on everyone's plates, I am amazed to see that no two gopis are alike. Everyone's beauty, behavior and nayika bhava is distinctly different. One gopi is too shy to feed Krishna or to directly look into his eyes. Another simply lets Krishna feed her as she goes on smiling at him. And then one overly affectionate prema-vallabha carefully holds the best items up to Krishna's mouth and very lovingly feeds every morsel to him. As the feasting goes on, a great deal of frolicking and joking carries on simultaneously.

The best confections were prepared by Radhika and Ananga which they brought from home. They include amrita-keli, karpura-keli, amrita laddus as well as chandrakanti and kshirasar. Though it's a wonder, the small amount they brought somehow expands in quantity so that everyone can sumptuously enjoy them.

Sayana (taking rest)

Hidden amongst the padma mandir'a outer petals there are countless vilasa kunjas nestled over the water's edge. Juti Manjari [Yajneshwar Goswami] and Vilasa Manjari [Vipin Vihari Goswami, Yajneshwar's disciple] direct many sevā-dasis who are decorating Radha Krishna's sayana-mandir. From the floor to the ceiling the entire mandir is profusely smothered in the most fragrantly scented flowers. In the center is a circular flower bed with flower pillows and bolsters. From here one can have a splendid view of the kund as its breeze keeps the room cool and refreshed.

On some days my guru-devi sends me to Ananga and Krishna's sayana mandir to do sevā. But today is special because I will fortune to get the chance to massage Sri Radhika's lotus feet. As she and Krishna comfortably lie upon the flowerbed, Rasaraj pulls Rai Rangini to his chest and with a soft kiss transfers the pan he was chewing into her mouth. Radha's unbounded bliss is shared by her dasis. What a tender moment! With unblinking eyes I watch Sri Yugal Kishor's amusing word play, darting eye glances and frolicksome behavior. Lata Manjari is fanning them with a fluffy chamara. Then Kamala Manjari takes Krishna's lotus feet in her hand, touches them to her head and rubs them over her breasts, then with tears streaming from her lotus eyes, begins to massage them. This is when all of my desires become fulfilled as I lovingly begin to massage Radha's sri charana kamala.

Rasa Analysis

Let's now review Thakur Bhaktivinoda's instruction from Śrī-Harināma-cintāmaṇi's last chapter:

svārasikī upāsanā ha-ibe udaya |
līlocita pīṭhe kṛṣṇe darśana karaya ||51||
saṅge saṅge guru-kṛpā siddha-svarūpete |
līlāya praveśe bhakta sakhīra saṅgete ||52||
mahābhāva svarūpiṇī vṛṣabhānu-sutā |
tāṅra anugata bhakti sadā prema-yutā ||53||
sakhī ājñā mate kare yugala-sevāna |
mahā-preme magna haya se rasika jana ||54||
Meditation on these pastimes is known as svārasikī or “flowing” worship;
it shows the devotee Krishna in each place according to His pastimes.
By the guru’s blessings, the practitioner immediately enters these pastimes
in an eternal spiritual form, accompanying the sakhis.
Vrishabhanu’s daughter, Radha, embodies the greatest love mahābhāva;
devotion that follows Her mood and direction is always filled with loving ecstasy.
The rasika devotee then becomes absorbed in the highest prema,
serving the Divine Couple under the sakhis’ directions.
In other words, to perform svārasikī smaraṇa, just envision Krishna enacting his lila according to the time and place in the ashta kala. Then by guru-kripa you can enter the lila and join in Mahabhava Svarupini Radha to perform Yugala Seva undertake such manasi sevā can even become overwhelmed in maha prema.

Now, in the svarasiki lila adventure we just concluded, haven't we done just this? Yet it was this instruction from Bhaktivinoda Thakur that has especially provided the impetus:

smaraṇe vicāra eka āche to sundara
āpanera yogya smṛti kara nirantara
In smarana sadhan, the beautiful consideration is, you only need to perform the kinds of meditation that you enjoy doing. (Harināma-cintāmaṇi 15.80)
Hence svārasikī smaraṇa means to follow the course of your personal ruchi. Because only then can we put our heart and soul into the process. So, in our example, as a sadhika manjari we have simply endeavored to uncover our svarupa identity and svarupa sevā which we may call our very own. Yet because Krishna, Radha and the sakhis' emotions are constantly changing during the ashta kala we can surely have an exciting time while pursuing our sevā to them when envisioning the lila. The deeper we can focus, our eligibility to relish transcendental emotions increases. And perfecting this art brings about siddhi, direct darshan of the lila that we behold in our mind.

Although everyone's svārasikī smaraṇa will vary to form a unique personal relish, there are some guidelines to follow. For example, the transcendental environment we enter, the mood of Krishna Radha and the sakhis we encounter and the lilas we envision should all match with the Gaudiya Mahajanas descriptions. Furthermore, our manasi sevā should submissively follow our guru manjari and her manjari parampara. Hence in his Siddhi- lālasā, Bhaktivinoda Thakur prays,

sakhīra caraṇe kabe karibe ākuti
sakhīra kṛpā kare debe svārasikī sthiti
When will I feelingly plead unto the sakhis' lotus feet, to those [in my manjari parampara] who can mercifully award my svarasiki sthiti, eternal place in the lila. (Siddhi- lālasā 6.6)
Hence, for those who desire to take up raganuga sadhana following in Bhaktivinoda Thakur's footsteps, it would surely be strategic and wise to accept Vipin Vihari Goswami (Vilasa Manjari) because by her kripa we will attain the privilege of serving Radha Krishna in Ananga Manjari's group.


Hare krsna
I envy u
U r such a blessed soul
I have no direction and I am so much in need of a guru who can make my life worth and help me come out of this miserable world
I am doing my rounds and following my principles only with my inner desires as my rudder
Can y help me
Dandavat pranaam
Jagadananda said…
Write to me privately at jankbrz at yahoo dot com.

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