The Essence of Bhakti Principles

Question: In Paramātmā Sandarbha 93, Śrī Jīva states that the seed of bhakti is imperishable, which seems to contradict what Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, where he describes how bhakti can be totally uprooted by aparādha. I personally take the latter as implying that the creeper may be uprooted, but the seed remains. Any thoughts?

Answer: If we understand that bhakti is given by the grace of guru, then it is easy to understand that it can also be taken away. It is imperishable because it is not destroyed. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says bhāvo’piyabhāvamāyāti kṛṣṇa-preṣṭḥāparādhataḥ (BRS 1.3.54)—by offending a dear devotee of Kṛṣṇa, bhāva can become abhāva, or nonexistent. He did not use the word naṣṭa, destroyed. So it comes by grace and can go away by offense. Bhakti is not something material but a conscious entity. It cannot be destroyed.

Question: What is your opinion on Sanātana Gosvāmī’s description of the aprakaṭa-līlā in Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta? By this I refer to certain aspects that differ from other acaryas’ descriptions, such as Kṛṣṇa going out of Vraja, or chastising asuras, etc. The reference is verses 2.6.220—363, including Sanātana Gosvāmī’s ṭīkā towards the end.

Answer: My understanding is that Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī is primarily focused on explaining the essence of bhakti principles. In other words, his aim is to establish the superiority of Vraja-prema and not subtleties such as Kṛṣṇa killing or not killing asuras in aprakaṭa-līlā. This understanding is based on verse 1.1.11, and the verses and his commentary to 2.6.218—219, in which he speaks of the difference between the prema of the vaikuṇṭha-pāriṣada and the vrajavāsīs. The supreme characteristic of vraja-prema cannot be established without showing the separation between the vrajavāsīs and Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, in 2.6.220, he begins narrating the kāliya-damana-līlā and after that, Kṛṣṇa’s departure for Mathurā. In between, in just a few verses, he describes the killing of Keśī, Vṛṣabha, etc., and then gives a very extensive description of Kṛṣṇa moving to Mathurā. In this regard, verse 2.6.238 is very pertinent, which compares the vrajavāsīs with the rest of the devotees. So, this is the real intent of Sanātana Gosvāmī in describing these pastimes, and not so much the distinction between the prakaṭa- and aprakaṭa-līlā. Thus I see no contradiction.

Question: I have an inquiry in connection to Anuccheda 84 of Prīti Sandarbha, the section concerning mixed rasas. There, without using the term saṅkula-rati, Jīva Gosvāmī writes about the saṅkula of Yudhiṣṭhira, Uddhava, and Balarāma. Then he writes about the queens and gopīs in a way that Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī does not in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Śrī Rūpa does not acknowledge a saṅkula-rati that includes mādhurya; he only mentions dāsya, sakhya, and vātsalya as combining in this way, and this despite the fact that they are either incompatible with one another or neutral. But he does acknowledge rasas mixing temporarily and the temporary influences in effect serving like sañcāri-bhāvas, which is different from saṅkula-bhāva. I would be grateful for your feedback.

Answer: The exact statement of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī is: evaṁ paṭṭa-mahīṣīṣu dāsya-miśraḥ kānta-bhāvaḥ, śrīmadvraja-devīṣu sakhya-miśra ityādikaṁ jñeyam – “Similarly the chief queens of Kṛṣṇa have kānta-bhāva mixed with dāsya and the Vraja Devīs have kānta-bhāva mixed with sakhya.”

In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.5.24, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī makes two divisions of dasya, sakhya, and vatsalya, namely kevala and saṅkula. Somehow, he does not include madhura here. My comment is that although he does not mention the two divisions of madhura-rati, he also does not categorically deny it. His reason to exclude madhura is not known.  

My guess is that he wanted to keep madhura as separate to show its importance, and he elaborates on it in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi. In Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, in the chapter of sthāyi-bhāva, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī includes sakhya and praṇaya as part of the sthāyi-bhāva of the gopīs. He even gives an example from SB 10.32.4.  

From SB, it can be seen that the queens have kānta-bhāva mixed with dāsya. This can be seen in verses such as 10.52.43 (yasyāṅghri…), 10.60.34, 10.83.41—43.

As far as the gopīs’ rati mixed with sakhya, this can be known from 10.31.4, 6, wherein they address Kṛṣṇa as their sakha. Kṛṣṇa also addresses the gopīs as sakhaya (friends) in 10.32.17, 20.

Question: Your opinion seems to be that the gopis’ bhava is saṅkulamādhurya mixed with sakhya. If that is the case, how do you accommodate the fact that Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī speaks of kevala-mādhurya also? If we accept that the gopīs’ mādhurya is mixed with sakhya, and that the Dvārakā mahiṣīs’ mādhurya is mixed with dāsya, then we only have examples of saṅkula-mādhurya, but no example of kevala-mādhurya.

Answer: Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī is not analyzing only the gopīs’ bhāva but bhāva in general. Just because the gopīs have saṅkula-mādhurya does not mean that kevala-mādhurya does not exist.

Question: Yes, but still the question remains: If we accept that there is kevala-madhurya but also accept that the gopīs’ mādhurya is saṅkula due to being mixed with friendship, and the mahiṣīs’ mādhurya is also saṅkula due to being mixed with dāsya, then what would be the example of kevala-mādhurya? If it exists, then there should be an example of it. Again, if we only take what Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī wrote, then we can declare that the gopīs are that example, but if we include what Śrī Jīva mentions about the gopīs’ mādhurya being mixed with sakhya, then I have difficulty in harmonizing their views.

Answer: It depends on whether you want to limit your examples to the few given in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. There may be some gopīs who are kevala-mādhurya and similarly some queens too. All gopīs and queens do not have exactly the same mood. Kṛṣṇa is rasarāja. He must have all varieties—kevala, saṅkula. This needs to be studied thoroughly from the rasa point of view. Moreover, there are other forms of Bhagavān, such as Rāma.

 

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