Question: In Bhakti Rāsāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.24, Śri Rupa Gosvāmipāda quotes SB 3.25.26 about Śri Kṛṣṇa’s beauty, and how a bhakta can never desire any sort of mukti after realizing Śri Kṛṣṇa‘s sweetness.
This makes perfect sense to me. I do have a doubt about the experiences of jñāna-mārga saints, especially those from Maharashtra who had darśana of Śri Kṛṣṇa but remained jñānis. Here are a few examples:
1. Nāmadeva Mahārāja, born in the 13th century, is said to have had darshan of Lord Viṭṭhala and Rukmiṇi Devi whenever he desired. The popular story is that Lord Viṭṭhala told him that he (Nāmadeva) did not really understand Him, and that he should surrender to jñāna-mārga guru, Śri Visoba Khechar, to realize nirguṇa-nirākāra Brahman. (I personally have zero faith in this story. It is suggested that writings from this period have been lost or corrupted).
2. G. K. Pradhan talks about meeting Shankar Maharaj, a realized avadhuta from the Dattatreya sampradaya, and asking him, “Did Bhagavad Gītā really happen?” In reply, Shankar Maharaj put his hand on his head, and G. K. Pradhan suddenly found himself in the middle of a huge battlefield, seeing Śri Kṛṣṇa speaking Gītā to Arjuna. G.K. Pradhan remained a jñāni aspiring for brahma-jñāna.
3. Mama Deshpande, a saintly person in the Dattatreya sampradaya, is said to have had darśana of rāsa līlā and then fainted. But he did not become Vaiṣṇava.
One may argue that great jñāna-yogīs and brahma-jñānis had darśana of Śri Hari and remained in jñāna-mārga, thus realizing that nirguṇa-nirākāra-Brahman is higher than realization of the personal form of Śri Kṛṣṇa.
Such arguments have no support in Bhagavad Gītā; the Bhāgavata, right from the very beginning (ātmā-rāmas ca munayo), refutes them. But how am I to understand the examples cited by the jñānis about realized yogīs having darśana of Śri Kṛṣṇa and still aspiring for brahma-sāyujya? Why would Śri Kṛṣṇa manifest Himself before them? Are these lies or some form of ābhāsa? Or is the form seen an illusory form of Śri Kṛṣṇa (like the asura who created an illusion of killing Śri Kṛṣṇa’s father Vāsudeva while fighting Śri Kṛṣṇa)?
Having read Tattva Sandarbha, I am not very disturbed by this doubt, The Bhāgavata is the pramāṇa and anecdotal evidence cannot be accepted as a valid source of spiritual knowledge. But it would be helpful to resolve/reconcile these stories.
Answer: The answer lies in the verse itself: in BRS 1.2.24, Śri Rupa Goswamipāda quotes SB 3.25.26 about Śri Kṛṣṇa’s beauty and how a bhakta can never desire any sort of mukti after realizing Śri Kṛṣṇa‘s sweetness.
“Realizing Śri Kṛṣṇa‘s sweetness” is the important part of this verse. These people whom you have mentioned saw Kṛṣṇa but did not realize His sweetness. They only saw Him according to their concept in jñāna-mārga but not as love personified. Kaṁsa also saw Kṛṣṇa but he saw Him as death personified, mṛtyur bhojapateḥ (SB 10.43.17)
Many people had darśana of Kṛṣṇa but saw him as per their bhāva. The bhāva of the Maharastrian saints was that Kṛṣṇa is the personified Brahman. So they saw Him as such. Therefore, they did not give up their concept of jñāna-mārga. Rather, their bhāva was confirmed. Kṛṣṇa says—ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham: “I reciprocate according to the bhāva of persons who approach Me.”
There are two ways you can get understanding of the Tattva Sandarbha. One is that you can read the book and you will have intellectual understanding. Another way is that the book will reveal itself to you through direct experience. And then you will have direct understanding.
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