Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, the younger brother of Sanātana Gosvāmī, went to Prayāga, the modern city of Allahabad, with his younger brother Vallabha. When the two brothers heard that Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was staying there, they both became very happy and went to see the Lord. At that time the Lord was on His way to visit the temple Bindumādhava. On the way to the temple, the Lord was chanting and dancing, and thousands of people were following Him. Some of these people were crying, and some were laughing. Some were dancing, and some were singing, and some were falling on the ground, offering obeisances to the Lord. In all cases, all of them were roaring the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. It is said that in spite of being at the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Yamunā, Prayāga was never flooded until the appearance of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, at which time the city was overflooded by love of Kṛṣṇa.
The two brothers, Rūpa Gosvāmī and Vallabha, stayed aloof in an uncrowded place and witnessed the great crowd and wonderful scene. When the Lord danced, He raised His arms and shouted, "Haribol! Haribol!" The people all about Him were astonished to see His wonderful activities. After visiting the temple, the Lord accepted prasāda (food offered to the Deity) at the house of a Deccanist (Southern) brāhmaṇa. While at the brāhmaṇa's home, the Lord was visited by Rūpa Gosvāmī and Vallabha. From a distance the two brothers fell down on the ground to offer obeisances, and they chanted many Sanskrit verses from the scriptures. When the Lord saw Rūpa Gosvāmī offering obeisances before Him, He became very pleased and asked him to get up. The Lord then informed Rūpa Gosvāmī of the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa upon him, for Kṛṣṇa had just delivered him from a materialistic way of life based simply on pound-shilling-pence.
The Lord accepted the two brothers as His own devotees, and He cited one verse from the scriptures which stated that it is possible for a brāhmaṇa, who has studied the four Vedas, to not be accepted as a devotee of the Lord and that a pure devotee could come from a very low family and yet be accepted by Him. Then the Lord embraced the two brothers, and, out of His causeless mercy, touched their heads with His lotus feet. Being blessed in this way, the brothers offered prayers to the Lord in their own words. The prayers indicated that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu was Kṛṣṇa Himself, that He had assumed the form and fair complexion of Caitanya and was thus known as Gaurāṅga (the golden one), and that He was the most munificent incarnation of Kṛṣṇa because He was distributing love of Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī also quoted one verse which was later found in the book Govinda-līlāmṛta (1.2):
- yo 'jñāna-mattaṁ bhuvanaṁ dayālur
- ullāghayann apy akarot pramattam
- śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanyam amuṁ prapadye
"Let me surrender unto the lotus feet of Sri Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is the most merciful Personality of Godhead. He delivers those souls who are merged in ignorance and offers them the highest gift, love of Kṛṣṇa, and thus makes them mad for Kṛṣṇa consciousness."
After this incident, Vallabha Bhaṭṭa invited the Lord to go to the other side of the Ganges, and the Lord went. From that moment on, wherever the Lord went, Rūpa Gosvāmī would follow Him and stay with Him. Because the Lord felt inconvenienced in crowded places, He asked Rūpa Gosvāmī to accompany Him to a place on the banks of the Ganges known as Daśāśvamedha-ghāṭa. For ten days He instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī about the truth of Kṛṣṇa, the principles of devotional service and the transcendental relationships with Kṛṣṇa. All of this was described in full detail so that in the future Rūpa Gosvāmī could distribute this science of Kṛṣṇa in his book Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Indeed, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī described this incident in the first verse of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in which he speaks of the causeless mercy of the Lord upon him.
The Supreme Lord is cognizant and all-powerful, and by His causeless mercy He empowers a living entity to receive His mercy. Being under the spell of conditional life, people in general are averse to rendering devotional service and practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In fact, most people are unaware of the principal teachings of Kṛṣṇa consciousness regarding one's eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the ultimate goal of life, which is to return home, back to Godhead. Nor are people aware of the process by which one can return to the spiritual world. Because these important subject matters are unknown to the conditioned soul, Lord Caitanya, out of His causeless mercy, instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī in the principles of devotional service. Later, for the good of the people in general, Rūpa Gosvāmī distributed this information of the science of devotional service.
In the prologue to Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.2), Rūpa Gosvāmī wrote the following:
- hṛdi yasya preraṇayā pravartito 'haṁ varāka-rūpo 'pi
- tasya hareḥ pada-kamalaṁ vande caitanya-devasya
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, known as Lord Caitanyadeva, because due to His inspiration I feel the desire within my heart to write something about devotional service. For this reason I am engaged in writing this book on the science of devotion known as Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu."
When Lord Caitanya began His instructions to Rūpa Gosvāmī, He first told him, "My dear Rūpa, the science of devotional service is just like the great ocean, and it is not possible to show you all its length and breadth. However, I shall try to explain the nature of that ocean by taking just one drop out of it. In this way you can taste it and understand what that ocean of devotional service actually is.
The Lord then explained that within this brahmāṇḍa, or universe, there are innumerable living entities who, according to their own fruitive activities, are transmigrating from one species of life to another and from one planet to another. In this way their encagement in material existence has been continuing since time immemorial. In actuality, these living entities are atomic parts and parcels of the supreme spirit. It is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that the length and breadth of the individual soul is approximately 1/10,000th part of the tip of a hair - in other words, it is so small that it is invisible. This is also confirmed in the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad. In the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one of the four Kumāras, known as Sanandana, gave the following speech upon performing a great sacrifice: "O Supreme Truth! If the living entities were not infinitesimal sparks of the supreme spirit, each minute spark would be all-pervading and would not be controlled by a superior power. But if the living entity is accepted as a minute part and parcel of the Supreme Lord he automatically becomes controlled by a supreme energy or power. The latter is his actual constitutional position, and if he remains in this position he can attain full freedom." (SB 10.87.30) If one mistakenly considers his position to be equal to that of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he becomes contaminated by the doctrine of nonduality, and his efforts in transcendental life are rendered ineffective.
Lord Caitanya elaborated on these teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by pointing out that there are two kinds of living entities - the eternally liberated and the eternally conditioned. The eternally conditioned living entities can be divided into two types - moving and nonmoving. Those entities which cannot move - like trees, for example - remain in one place and are classified as nonmoving entities, and those that move - such as the birds and beasts - are called jaṅgama (moving entities) and are further divided into three categories: those that fly in the sky, those that swim in the water, and those that walk on land. Out of the many millions and trillions of living entities on land, human beings comprise only a small portion. Out of that small number of human beings, most are totally ignorant of spiritual life, are unclean in their habits and have no faith in the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In short, most human beings live like animals. These can actually be deducted from the number of human beings that comprise human or civilized life. It is very difficult to find a few human beings who believe in the scriptures and the existence of God, or, for that matter, in proper behavior. Those who do believe in the value of these things are known as ārya, a word denoting those who believe in advancing in spiritual life. Out of those who believe in the value of the scriptures and the advancement of human civilization, there are two classes - the righteous and the unrighteous. Those who are righteous generally execute fruitive activities in order to derive some good result for sense gratification. Out of many such persons who engage in righteous activities for sense gratification, only a few come to know about the Absolute Truth. These are called jñānīs, empiric philosophers. Out of many hundreds and thousands of such empiric philosophers, only a handful actually attain liberation. When one is liberated, he theoretically understands that the living entity is not composed of material elements but is spirit soul, distinct from matter. Simply by theoretically understanding this doctrine, one can be called liberated, but actually a mukta, or liberated soul, is he who understands his constitutional position as an eternal servant of the Lord. Such liberated souls engage with faith and devotion in the service of the Lord, and they are called kṛṣṇa-bhaktas, or Kṛṣṇa conscious persons.
Kṛṣṇa-bhaktas are free from all material desires. Those who are liberated theoretically by knowing simply that the living entity is not material may still have desires, although they may be technically classified amongst liberated souls. Their main desire is to become one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally such persons are very much attached to Vedic rituals and righteous activities, performing them in order to enjoy material prosperity. Even when some of them transcend material enjoyment, they still try to enjoy the spiritual world by merging into the existence of the Supreme Lord. Some of them are also desirous of attaining mystic powers through the execution of yoga. As long as these desires are within one's heart, he cannot understand the nature of pure devotional service. When one is constantly being agitated by such desires, he is not peaceful. Indeed, as long as there is any desire for material perfection at all, one cannot be at peace. Since the devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa do not desire anything material, they are the only peaceful persons within this material world. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
- muktānām api siddhānāṁ
- sudurlabhaḥ praśāntātmā
- koṭiṣv api mahāmune
"O great sage, out of many millions of liberated persons and persons who have achieved success in mystic yoga, one who is completely devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who is filled with peace is very hard to find." (SB 6.14.5)
In this way Lord Caitanya explained that of the many thousands and millions of living entities wandering in the material world, one who by the grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master gets the seed of devotional service is very rare and fortunate. A pious or religious man is generally inclined to worship deities in various temples, but if by chance, even without his knowledge, he offers his obeisances to Lord Viṣṇu or receives the favor of a Vaiṣṇava, a devotee of the Lord, he at that time acquires the asset necessary to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is clearly understood from the life story of the great sage Nārada, which is related in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. By serving Vaiṣṇavas in his previous life, Nārada was favored by the devotees of the Lord and became a great sage. Indeed, amongst sages Nārada Muni is considered to be the greatest.
Vaiṣṇavas, or devotees, are usually very compassionate upon conditioned souls. Without even being invited, a devotee will go from door to door to enlighten people and to bring them out of the darkness of nescience by injecting knowledge of the living entity's constitutional position as a servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees are empowered by the Lord to distribute devotional consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, to the people in general. They are known as authorized spiritual masters, and it is by their mercy that a conditioned soul gets the seed of devotional service. The causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is first appreciated when one comes in touch with a bona fide spiritual master who can bring the conditioned soul to the highest position of devotional life. Therefore Lord Caitanya said that by the mercy of the spiritual master one can achieve the causeless mercy of the Lord, and by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can attain the mercy of the bona fide spiritual master.
Thus by the mercy of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, one receives the seed of devotional service. He has only to sow the seed in the field of his heart, just as a gardener sows the seed of a valuable tree. After sowing this seed, one has to water it in the form of chanting and hearing the holy name of the Supreme Lord or by taking part in discussions about the science of devotional service in a society of pure devotees. When the plant of devotional service sprouts up from the seed of devotion, it begins to grow freely. When it is full grown, it surpasses the length and breadth of this universe and enters into the transcendental atmosphere, where everything is bathed in the effulgence of the brahmajyoti. The plant even penetrates this brahmajyoti and gradually enters the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. There the plant takes shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. That is the ultimate goal of devotional service. After attaining this position, the plant produces fruit, which is known as the fruit of love of Godhead. However, it is necessary for the devotee, or transcendental gardener, to pour water on the plant daily by chanting and hearing. Unless one waters the plant by chanting and hearing, there is every chance that it will dry up.
Lord Caitanya pointed out to Rūpa Gosvāmī that there was a certain danger to be encountered while watering the root of the devotional plant. After the plant has grown some bit, an animal may come and either eat or destroy it. When green leaves of a plant are taken by some animal, the plant generally dies. The most dangerous animal is considered a mad elephant, for if a mad elephant enters into a garden, it causes tremendous damage to plants and trees. An offense to a pure devotee of the Lord is called vaiṣṇavāparādha, the mad elephant offense. In the discharge of devotional service, an offense to the feet of a pure devotee can create havoc. Thus one has to defend the plant of bhakti by tending it properly and taking care not to commit offenses. If one is cautious, the plant can properly thrive.
There are ten principal offenses which can be committed against the holy name. The first is to blaspheme the great devotees who have tried to spread the glories of the holy name throughout the world. The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa, and one who attempts to spread the holy names throughout the world is beloved of Him. Kṛṣṇa Himself does not tolerate offenses against His pure devotees. The second offense is to deny that Lord Viṣṇu is the Absolute Truth. There is no difference between His name, quality, form, pastimes and activities, and one who sees a difference is considered an offender. The Lord is Supreme, and no one is equal to or greater than Him. Consequently if one thinks that the Lord's names are nondifferent from the names of demigods, he offends. The Supreme Lord and the demigods should never be considered on the same level.
The third offense is to consider the bona fide spiritual master to be a common man. The fourth offense is to blaspheme Vedic literature and authorized scriptures like the Purāṇas. The fifth offense is to consider the glories attributed to the holy names to be exaggerations. The sixth offense is to concoct perverted theories about the holy name. The seventh offense is to commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name. It is understood that by chanting the holy names one is free from sinful reactions, but this does not mean that one should act sinfully on the strength of chanting. That is the greatest offense. The eighth offense is to consider that religious rituals, austerity, sacrifices or other forms of renunciation are equal to chanting the holy name. Chanting the holy name is as good as associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Pious activities are only means to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they can even be performed for some material reason. The ninth offense is to preach the glories of the holy name of God to a faithless person who is not interested in hearing them. The tenth and last offense is to maintain material attachment even after hearing and chanting the holy names of God. The idea is that by chanting the holy name without offense, one can obtain elevation to the liberated platform. On the liberated platform one is freed from all material attachment. Thus if one chants the holy names and still has material attachments, he must be committing some offense.
There are also other factors which disturb the plant of devotional service. Along with this plant the weeds of material desires also grow. When a person advances in bhakti, it is natural that many persons will come to him requesting to become disciples and will offer him some material gains. If one is attracted by a large number of disciples and material conveniences offered by these disciples and forgets his duty as a bona fide master, the growth of the plant will be impeded. Simply by taking advantage of material conveniences one may become addicted to enjoying material comforts.
It is also considered to be disadvantageous to desire liberation. The only desire should be the desire to render service. Neglect of restrictions and prohibitions is also disadvantageous. The prohibitions are mentioned in the authorized scriptures: One should not indulge in illicit sex life, intoxication, meat eating or gambling. These things are forbidden to one who is attempting devotional service. If one does not follow these principles strictly, there may be a severe disturbance in the discharge of devotional service.
If one is not particularly careful, even by watering the plant of devotional service, unnecessary weeds will grow and hamper progress. The idea is that when one waters a garden, not only does the desired plant grow more rapidly, but the unwanted plants grow also. If the gardener does not see these impediments and take them out, they will overcome and choke the plant of devotion. If, however, one is careful to guard against the growth of unwanted plants, the plant of devotion grows luxuriantly and reaches the ultimate goal, Goloka Vṛndāvana. When the living entity engaged in devotional service relishes the fruit of love of Godhead, he forgets all religious ritual and improvements in his economic condition. He no longer desires to satisfy his senses, and he no longer desires to become one with the Supreme Lord by merging into His effulgence.
There are many phases of spiritual knowledge and transcendental bliss. On one platform are the ritualistic sacrifices recommended in the Vedas, the execution of austerities and pious duties, and the practice of mystic yoga. These all reward different results to their performer. The rewards of these practices, however, appear to be very glittering as long as one is not elevated to the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Love of God is dormant in everyone, and it can be awakened from its dormant position by the execution of pure devotional service, just as a person bitten by a serpent can be awakened by ammonia.
After speaking in this way about devotional service, Lord Caitanya begins to describe devotional service and its symptoms to Rūpa Gosvāmī. He explains that in pure devotional service there can be no desire other than the desire to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness there is no scope for worshiping any demigod or any other form of Kṛṣṇa, nor is there room for indulgence in speculative empiric philosophy, nor indulgence in fruitive activities. One should be free from all these contaminations. A devotee should accept only those things that are favorable to keep his body and soul together and should reject those things that increase the demands of the body. Only the bare necessities for bodily maintenance should be accepted. By minimizing bodily necessities, one can primarily devote his time to the cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness through the chanting of the holy names of God. Pure devotional service means engaging all the senses of the body in the service of the Lord. At the present moment, our senses are all designated because the body is designated. Consequently we think that this body belongs to a particular society or a particular country or a particular family. In this way the body is bound by so many designations. Similarly, the senses belong to the body, and when the body is subject to such designations, the senses are also. Thus the senses engage themselves on behalf of family, society, nation and so on. When they are so engaged, they cannot cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The senses must be purified, and this is possible when one purely understands that he belongs to Kṛṣṇa and that his life belongs to Kṛṣṇa. The devotee should see his identity as an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. In this way one can engage his senses in the service of the Lord. Such engagement is called pure devotional service.
A pure devotee accepts the transcendental loving service of the Lord but rejects all kinds of liberation for his personal sense gratification. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 3.29.11-13) Lord Kapila explains that as soon as a pure devotee hears the glories and transcendental qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is seated in everyone's heart, his mind immediately flows toward the Lord, just as the waters of the Ganges flow toward the sea. Such spontaneous attraction to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is most important to pure devotional service. Devotional service is pure when one engages in the service of the Supreme Lord without any motive and without being hampered with material impediments. The pure devotee does not desire to live on the same planet with the Supreme Lord, nor does he desire the same opulence as the Lord, nor does he desire to have the same form as the Lord, nor to live with Him side by side, nor to merge into His existence, etc. Even if the devotee were offered such rewards by the Lord, he would reject them. The point is that a devotee is so much absorbed in the transcendental loving service of the Lord that he has no time to think of any benefit beyond his immediate engagement. Just as an ordinary materialistic businessman thinks of nothing else when he is absorbed in his business, a pure devotee, when engaged in the service of the Lord, does not think of anything beyond that engagement.
If one is so absorbed in the rendering of service, he can be understood to be elevated to the highest position of bhakti. By such transcendental loving service alone can one surpass the influence of māyā and relish pure love of Godhead. As long as one desires material benefit or liberation, which are called the two witches of allurement, he cannot relish the taste of transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord.
There are three stages of devotional service: The first is the beginning stage of cultivation, the second is the realization of service, and the third, the supreme stage, is the attainment of love of Godhead. There are nine different methods of cultivating devotional service - such as hearing, chanting, remembering, etc. - and all these processes are employed in the first stage. If one is engaged in chanting and hearing with devotion and faith, his material misgivings gradually become vanquished. As his faith in devotional service gradually increases, he becomes assured of a higher perfectional position. In this way one can become firmly fixed in devotion, increase his taste for it, become attached and feel ecstasy. This ecstasy occurs in the preliminary stage of love of Godhead. Attainment of ecstasy is produced by execution of devotional service. When one continues the process of hearing and chanting, attachment grows and assumes the name of love of Godhead.
When one attains the third stage of transcendental love of God, there occur further developments known as transcendental affection, emotion, ecstasy, and extreme and intense attachment. These are technically known by the terms rāga, anurāga, bhāva and mahābhāva. The progress from one stage to another can be compared to the thickening of sugar candy juice. In the first stage sugar candy juice is like a thin liquid. When, by evaporation, it becomes thicker and thicker, it turns into molasses. Finally it turns into granules and becomes sugar, rock candy and so on. Just as liquid sugar juice progresses from one stage to another, similarly transcendental love for the Supreme Lord develops by stages.
When one actually becomes situated on the transcendental platform, he becomes steady. Unless one is so situated, his position may not be steady and he may fall down. When one is actually situated transcendentally, there is no fear of falling down. This stage of understanding is technically called sthāyi-bhāva. There are even stages beyond this position, and they are known as vibhāva, anubhava, sāttvika and vyabhicārī. After one attains these, there is actually an exchange of rasa, or transcendental activity with the Supreme Lord. This exchange in loving reciprocation between the lover and the beloved is generally called kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa. It should be noted that the transcendental loving exchanges stand on the steadfast position of sthāyi-bhāva, as explained before. The basic principle of vibhāva is sthāyi-bhāva, and all other activities are auxiliary for the development of transcendental love.
The ecstasy of transcendental love has two components - the context and the cause of the excitement. The context is also divided into two parts - the subject and the object. The exchange of devotional service is the subject, and Kṛṣṇa is the object. The transcendental qualities are the causes of excitement. This means that the transcendental qualities of Kṛṣṇa excite the devotee to serve Him. The impersonal (Māyāvādī) philosophers say that the Absolute Truth has no specific qualities, but the Vaiṣṇava philosophers say that the Absolute Truth is described as nirguṇa (without qualities) because He has no material qualities. This is not to say that He does not have spiritual qualities. Indeed, the Lord's spiritual qualities are so great and so enchanting that they can even attract a liberated person. This is explained in the ātmārāma verse of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam where it is said that those who are already situated on the platform of self-realization are attracted by the transcendental qualities of Kṛṣṇa. This means that Kṛṣṇa's qualities are not material but pure and transcendental.
The higher stage of ecstasy can be characterized by the following thirteen transcendental activities: (1) dancing, (2) rolling on the floor, (3) singing, (4) clapping, (5) bristling of the hairs of the body, (6) thundering, (7) yawning, (8) breathing heavily, (9) forgetting social conventions, (10) salivating, (11) laughing, (12) aching, (13) coughing. All these symptoms are not awakened simultaneously; they act according to the exchange of transcendental relationships. Sometimes one symptom is prominent, and at another time another is prominent.
The transcendental rasas, or relationships, can be divided into five. The initial stage is called śānta-rati, wherein one who is liberated from material contamination appreciates the greatness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who attains this stage does not exactly engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, for this is a neutral stage. In the second stage, which is called dāsya-rati, a person appreciates his position as being everlastingly subordinate to the Supreme Lord, and he understands that he is eternally dependent on the causeless mercy of the Supreme Person. At that same time there is an awakening of natural affection, such as is felt by a son who grows up and begins to appreciate his father's benedictions. At this stage the living entity wants to serve the Supreme Lord instead of serving māyā, illusion. In the third stage, called sakhya-rati, transcendental love is developed, and one associates with the Supreme on an equal level of love and respect. As this stage is further developed, there is joking and such relaxed exchanges as laughing and so on. On this level there are fraternal exchanges with the Supreme Person, and one is free from all bondage. At this stage one practically forgets his inferior position as a living entity, but at the same time he has the greatest respect for the Supreme Person.
In the fourth stage, called vātsalya-rati, the fraternal affection evinced in the preceding stage develops into paternal affection. At this time the living entity tries to be the parent of God. Instead of worshiping the Lord, the living entity, as a parent of the Supreme, becomes an object of worship for the Supreme Person. At this stage the Lord depends on the mercy of His pure devotee and puts Himself under the control of the devotee to be raised. The devotee in this stage attains the position wherein he can embrace the Supreme Lord and even kiss His head. In the fifth stage, called madhura-rati, there is an actual transcendental exchange of conjugal love between the lover and the beloved. It is at this stage that Kṛṣṇa and the damsels of Vraja glanced at one another, for on this platform there is an exchange of loving glances, motions of the eyes, pleasant words, attractive smiles, etc.
Besides these five primary rasas, or relationships, there are seven secondary rasas which consist of laughing, having wonderful visions, entering into a chivalrous relationship, experiencing pity, feeling anger and experiencing ghastliness and devastation. For example, Bhīṣma related to Kṛṣṇa as a warrior in the chivalrous rasa. Hiraṇyakaśipu, however, experienced an exchange of the ghastly and devastating rasa. The five primary rasas constantly remain within the heart of the pure devotee, and the seven secondary rasas sometimes appear and disappear to enrich the flavors and tastes of the primary ones. After enriching the primary rasas, they disappear.
Examples of śānta-bhaktas, or devotees in the neutral stage, are the nine yogīs named Kavi, Havi, Antarīkṣa, Prabuddha, Pippalāyana, Avirhotra, Draviḍa or Drumila, Camasa and Karabhājana. The four Kumāras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumāra and Sanātana) are also examples of this stage. Examples of devotees in the second stage, the dāsya stage of servitorship, are Raktaka, Citraka and Patraka in the Gokula rasa. These all function as servants of Kṛṣṇa. In Dvārakā there is Dāruka, and in the Vaikuṇṭha planets there are Hanumān and others. Devotees in the third stage, the stage of friendship, are Śrīdāmā in Vṛndāvana and Bhīma and Arjuna in Dvārakā and on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. There are many others also. As far as those relating to Kṛṣṇa in paternal love, they include devotees like Yaśodā and Mahārāja Nanda - that is, Kṛṣṇa's mother, father, uncle and similar relatives. In conjugal love there are the damsels of Vraja, Vṛndāvana, and the queens and goddesses of fortune in Dvārakā. No one can count the vast number of devotees in this rasa.
Attachment to Kṛṣṇa can also be broken down into two categories. On one platform there is attachment with awe and veneration. This type of attachment might be characterized by a certain lack of freedom, and it is exhibited in Mathurā and in the Vaikuṇṭha planets. In these abodes of the Lord, the spirit of transcendental loving service is restricted. However, in Gokula Vṛndāvana, love is freely exchanged, and although the cowherd boys and damsels of Vṛndāvana know that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they do not show awe and veneration because of the great intimacy of their relationship with Him. In the five principal transcendental relationships, awe and veneration are sometimes impediments obscuring the Lord's actual greatness and sometimes they actually impede one's service to the Lord. When there is friendship, paternal affection and conjugal love, however such awe and veneration are reduced. For instance, when Kṛṣṇa appeared as the son of Vasudeva and Devakī, His parents prayed to the Lord with awe and veneration because they understood that the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu had appeared before them as their little child. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 10.44.51). Although the Supreme Lord was present as their child, Devakī and Vasudeva began to pray to Him. Similarly, when Arjuna saw the universal form of the Lord, he was so afraid that he begged pardon for his dealings with Kṛṣṇa as an intimate friend. As a friend, Arjuna often behaved unceremoniously with the Lord, and upon seeing the awesome universal form, Arjuna said:
- sakheti matvā prasabhaṁ yad uktaṁ
- he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti
- ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ
- mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi
- yac cāvahāsārtham asatkṛto 'si
- eko 'thavāpy acyuta tat-samakṣaṁ
- tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam
"I have in the past addressed You as 'O Kṛṣṇa,' 'O Yādava,' 'O my friend,' without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times while relaxing or while lying on the same bed or eating together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. Please excuse me for all my offenses." (BG 11.41-42)
Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa was playing jokes on Rukmiṇī, she feared that Kṛṣṇa might leave her and became so perturbed that she dropped the fan with which she was fanning Him and fainted, falling unconscious on the floor. As far as Yaśodā, Kṛṣṇa's mother in Vṛndāvana, is concerned, it is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 10.8.45):
- trayyā copaniṣadbhiś ca
- sāṅkhya-yogaiś ca sātvataiḥ
- hariṁ sāmanyatātmajam
The Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped by all the Vedas and Upaniṣads, as well as by the sāṅkhya system of philosophy and all authorized scriptures, was considered to be born in her womb. It is also stated (SB 10.9.12) that Mother Yaśodā bound the child Kṛṣṇa with a rope, as if He were an ordinary son born of her body. Similarly, there are other descriptions of Kṛṣṇa's being treated as an ordinary person (SB 10.18.24). Indeed, when He was defeated in games with His friends, the cowherd boys, Kṛṣṇa would carry them - notably Śrīdāmā - on His shoulders.
Regarding the dealings of the gopīs with Sri Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, it is described (SB 10.30.36-40) that when Sri Kṛṣṇa took Śrīmatī Rādhikā alone from the rāsa dance, She thought that Kṛṣṇa had left all the other gopīs. Although they were all equally beautiful, He satisfied Her in this way, and She began to think proudly, "My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa has left the beautiful gopīs, and He is satisfied with Me alone." In the forest, She told Kṛṣṇa, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, I am unable to move anymore. Now if You like You can take Me wherever You desire." Kṛṣṇa replied, "Come lean against My shoulder," and as soon as He said this, He disappeared, whereupon Śrīmatī Rādhikā repined greatly.
When Kṛṣṇa disappeared from the scene of the rāsa dance, all the gopīs began to repent, saying, "Dear Kṛṣṇa! We have come here and have left aside our husbands, sons, relatives, brothers and friends! Neglecting their advice, we have come to You, and You best know the reason for our coming here. You know that we have come because we are captivated by the sweet sound of Your flute. But You are so cunning that in the dead of night You have left girls and women like us! This is not very good for You."
The word śama means controlling the mind and keeping it from being diverted in various ways by fixing it on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When one's mind is fixed on the Supreme Lord, he is known to be situated on the śama platform. On that platform the devotee understands that Kṛṣṇa is the basic principle behind everything that is within one's experience. This is also explained in Bhagavad-gītā (BG 7.19). Such a person can understand that Kṛṣṇa is present in everything and is distributed all over the cosmic manifestation. Although everything is under the control of the Supreme Lord and is situated in His energy, everything is nonetheless different from Kṛṣṇa in His personal form. It is also stated in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu that one who understands this, whose intelligence is fixed on Kṛṣṇa, has attained the platform of śama. Moreover, the Supreme Personality of Godhead says: śamo manniṣṭhatā buddheḥ: Unless one is elevated to the platform of śānta-rati, he cannot be fixed in knowledge of the greatness of Kṛṣṇa or of the diffusion of His different energies, which are the cause of all manifestations. This same point is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam ((SB 11.19.36):
- śamo manniṣṭhatā buddher
- dama indriya-saṁyamaḥ
- titikṣā duḥkha-sammarṣo
- jihvopastha jayo dhrtiḥ
Stability of mind can be achieved by one who has concluded that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original source of everything. And when one can control his senses, that is called śama. When one is ready to tolerate all kinds of sufferings in order to control the senses and keep the mind steady, that is called titikṣā, or tolerance. And when one can control the urges of the tongue and genitals, that is called dhṛtiḥ. From dhṛtiḥ, one becomes dhīra, pacified. A pacified person is never disturbed by the urges of the tongue and the genitals.
If one can fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa without deviation, he can attain a steadfast position in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, śānta-rasa. When one attains śānta-rasa, unflinching faith in Kṛṣṇa is established, and all material desires cease. These specific characteristics of śānta-rasa - unflinching faith in Kṛṣṇa and cessation of all desires which are not connected with Kṛṣṇa - are common to all other rasas as well, just as sound is generally present in all other elements (air, fire, water and earth) because it is produced from the sky. Similarly, these two characteristics of śānta-rasa are present in other transcendental relationships, such as dāsya (servitorship), sakhya (fraternity), vātsalya (paternal affection), and the madhura-rasa (conjugal love).
When we speak of non-Kṛṣṇa, or desire which has no connection with Kṛṣṇa, this does not mean that anything exists without Kṛṣṇa. Actually there cannot be anything "non-Kṛṣṇa" because everything is a product of the energy of Kṛṣṇa. Since Kṛṣṇa and His energies are identical, everything is Kṛṣṇa indirectly. For example, consciousness is common to every living entity, but when consciousness is purely centered on Kṛṣṇa (Kṛṣṇa consciousness), it is pure, and when consciousness is centered on something other than Kṛṣṇa, or when it is directed to sense gratification, it may be called non-Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Thus it is in the polluted state that the conception of non-Kṛṣṇa comes. In the pure state, however, there is nothing but Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Active interest in Kṛṣṇa - the understanding that Kṛṣṇa is mine or that I am Kṛṣṇa's, and that therefore my business is to satisfy the senses of Kṛṣṇa - is typical of a higher stage than the neutrality of the śānta-rasa. Simply by understanding the greatness of Kṛṣṇa, one can achieve the status of śānta-rasa, in which the worshipable object may be the impersonal Brahman or Paramātmā. Worship of the impersonal Brahman and the Paramātmā is conducted by those engaged in empiric philosophical speculation and mystic yoga. However, when one develops even further in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or spiritual understanding, he can appreciate that the Paramātmā, the Supersoul, is the eternal worshipable object, and he surrenders unto Him. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate (BG 7.19): "After many, many births of worshiping Brahman and Paramātmā, when one surrenders unto Vāsudeva as the supreme master and accepts himself as the eternal servitor of Vāsudeva, he becomes a great transcendentally realized soul." At that time, due to his thick and thin relationship with the Supreme Absolute Truth, one begins to render some sort of transcendental loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus the neutral relationship known as śānta-rasa is transformed into dāsya-rasa, servitorship.
On the platform of dāsya-rasa, the greatest quantity of awe and veneration of the Supreme Lord is exhibited. That is, in the dāsya-rasa, the greatness of the Supreme Lord is appreciated. It should be noted here that on the platform of śānta-rasa there is no spiritual activity, but on the platform of dāsya-rasa, service begins. Thus in the dāsya-rasa the quality of the śānta-rasa is exhibited, and, in addition, there is consciousness of the transcendental taste of service.
Transcendental qualities are certainly present in the śānta-rasa and dāsya-rasa, but beyond these there is another quality, confidential attachment, which is pure transcendental love. This loving confidence in the Supreme Personality is technically known as viśrambha. On the platform of viśrambha, fraternity, there is no sense of awe or veneration towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus in the transcendental fraternal relationship known as sakhya-rasa, there are three transcendental characteristics: the sense of greatness, the sense of service, and the sense of intimacy without awe or veneration. Thus in the sakhya-rasa, the relationship of fraternity, the transcendental qualities are further increased.
Similarly, on the platform of paternal affection (vātsalya-rasa) there are four qualities. In addition to the three qualities already mentioned, there is the sense that the Supreme Lord is dependent on the mercy of the devotee. As a parent of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotee sometimes chastises the Lord and considers himself to be the Lord's maintainer. This transcendental sense of being the maintainer of the supreme maintainer is very pleasing both to the devotee and to the Supreme Lord.
The Lord instructed Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī to write the transcendental literature named Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, the science of devotional service, and indicate therein the substance of these five transcendental relationships. It is explained in that great literature how the transcendental relationship of śānta-rasa, taking the shape of unflinching faith in Kṛṣṇa, is further developed into dāsya-rasa with the spirit of service, and then to sakhya-rasa or undeterred fraternity, and further to the transcendental platform of paternal love, wherein one feels himself to be maintaining the Lord. All these relationships culminate on the highest platform of conjugal love (madhura-rasa), wherein all these transcendental relationships exist simultaneously.