Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Illuminating the Path to Ragatmika-bhakti
Discussions with the GBC on the book, Raga-Vartma-Candrika [Part 3]
Mathura, India: 1991
[Respected Harikatha Readers,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
For those of you who did not receive Part 1 and 2, you can find them on www.backtobhaki.com and www.purebhakti.com.
In 1991 Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja led several members of the ISKCON GBC discussions on Raga-vartma-candrika, a famous Sanskrit treatise written by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Below is the Part 3 in that series of discussions, and we hope to send you the rest, one after another.
Your aspiring servants, the Harikatha Team]
Burijana dasa: Dhanurdhara Maharaja and I were not here the last time you spoke, but we listened to the tape.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: But we couldn’t understand from the tape what you were doing. We couldn’t understand your hand-motions.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: The manjaris.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: It was about the manjaris. You said, “It is like this.”
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Tamal Krsna Maharaja can describe more than I.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: He already told us, but we want to hear it from your realizations.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: You told us that what you were saying was not in any book.
Burijana dasa: My understanding from that example was that the heart of Rupa Manjari is so dedicated to Srimati Radharani that she feels everything Srimati Radharani feels. I also understood by your statement at the end that one must be dedicated to his guru in the same way. Without surrender and without giving one’s heart to the guru, it doesn’t work, especially in raganuga.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: This surrender and complete dedication of the heart to guru is called tadatmya (oneness of heart) in Sanskrit. When an iron rod is placed in fire, the qualities of the fire enter the iron. When fire permeates an iron rod it is the fire that burns other objects; it is not that the iron rod burns other objects; The iron rod may ‘consider,’ “I am fire,” in the sense that the qualities of the iron have become one with the qualities of the fire; it now does the work of fire.
Similarly Sri Rupa Manjari and all the other manjaris are tadatmika (one in heart) with Radha, so the action of Radha becomes the action of all the manjaris. In other words, whatever She realizes is also realized by every manjari; nothing is hidden from them. Some things may be hidden from Her sakhis, but not from Her manjaris.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: So, today you will carry on from where you left off?
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Do you want to hear the rest?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Oh yes, very much. Just from what you have been speaking, it is already so helpful.
Burijana dasa: I would like to have the references for the first two verses.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: The verses are found in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: I told them three slokas, the first of which is this:
krsnam smaran janam casya prestham nija samihitam
tat tat katha ratas casau kuryad vasam vraje sada
["While remembering Sri Krsna and His beloved associates whom we desire to follow, being fully absorbed in discussions of their pastimes, one should always reside in Vraja. If this is not possible, then one should reside there by mind." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.294)]
Have you heard the explanation of that sloka? It refers to remembering Krsna along with His dearmost associates.
And here is the second sloka:
seva sadhaka rupena siddha rupena catra hi
tad bhava lipsuna karya vraja-lokanusaratah
["On this path of raganuga, being charmed by the intense love of Krsna’s beloved Vrajavasis, the sadhaka lives in Vraja under the guidance of those devotees who have taken shelter of the Vrajavasis (like Sri Rupa, Sanatana and Raghunatha dasa Gosvamis), always eager to serve them in his present physical body. And, in the perfected stage of his siddha-rupa, his internally conceived spiritual body suitable for performing prema-seva, he engages in the cherished service of Sri Krsna according to the mood he desires to obtain. In this regard he follows in the footsteps of the eternal residents of Vraja, such as Sri Radhika, Lalita, Visakha, and Sri Rupa Manjari."]
Seva means ‘service.’ Sadhaka-rupena refers to functioning in this world as a practitioner of raganuga-bhakti, and siddha-rupena refers to serving in one’s perfected spiritual body, which is achieved when intense greed arises. By the grace of guru and Krsna, the devotee’s siddha-sarira (spiritual form) is revealed in his inner heart. In this connection it is written in Caitanya-Caritamrta (Madhya-lila 22.157):
mane nija siddha deha koriya bhavana
ratri dine kore vraje krsnera sevana.
["With one’s siddha-sarira, revealed by the mercy of guru, one serves Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala (the Divine Couple) day and night in Vraja.”]
Each and every jiva has an individual spiritual body (siddha-sarira). We also have our own spiritual body, but it has not yet manifested; now it is in a seed stage. Just as an entire tree is contained within the seed of that tree, our full siddha-sarira with all its characteristics now exists in seed-form. However, because we are now bahirmukha, meaning that we have turned away from Krsna, that siddha-sarira is not seen. When, by the grace of guru and Gauranga our greed sprouts and subsequently fully blossoms, the siksa-guru or diksa-guru may show us our siddha-sarira. First, he will tell us what our constitutional spiritual identity is, as we see in Jaiva Dharma that the guru of Vrajanatha and Vijaya-Kumara told each of them the nature of their individual spiritual forms.
Our siddha-sarira is now in a latent condition. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura tells that in one life it can be revealed, but I see that for us it is many births away. He has simply showed the path.
When Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara took diksa, they saw Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with all His parikaras (associates) standing with Him. At the time of our diksa we were unable to see them, but they are fully visible to a realized soul. This is real diksa.
We have entered in the class of diksa, but our diksa is not complete. We are in class now. May God and guru shower their grace upon us so that we can take full diksa, meaning divya-jnana (receiving actual transcendental knowledge) and divya-darsana (receiving spiritual vision). Divya-jnana implies divya-darsana, as we see with Vijaya Kumara and Vrajanatha. They had darsana of the Lord at the time of their diksa initiation, and they at once fainted.
After that, they took all necessary siksa in Navadvipa from Sri Raghunatha dasa Babaji. Then, and on his order, they went to Puri where they met Vakresvara Pandita’s disciple Sri Gopala-guru Gosvami for further inquiries and siksa.
Gopal-guru Gosvami is a raganuga Vaisnava and is one of the eight principal sakhis. Having realized that Vrajanatha was in sakhya-bhava and that Vijaya Kumara was in gopi- or manjari-bhava, he revealed to them their identities. He was so merciful that he called them one at a time and told them, “You are a cowherd friend of Krsna,” and “You are a maidservant of Srimati Radhika.”
He gave both of them the asta-dasaksara (eighteen syllable) gopala-mantra. Dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura-bhavas are all found in this mantra; it nourishes and supports every rasa. [Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu received from His Gurudeva the dasaksara-mantra, which is “gopi-janavallabhaya svaha.” When “klim krsnaya govindaya” precedes “gopi-janavallabha svaha,” it becomes asta-dasaksara, an eighteen-syllable mantra. –ed]
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: You said that Gopala-guru Gosvami gave the mantra to both Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara, and you said that this one mantra is for all rasas: dasya, sakhya, and madhurya.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Everything is there in the mantra klim krsnaya govindaya gopi-janavallabhaya svaha, meaning that the rasas of all jivas are supported by it.
But there is one thing to consider. Krsna (krsnaya) is the Deity for one in dasya and sakhya-rasa. For that devotee, the name Gopi-janavallabha (gopi-janavallabhhaya) is the adjective describing Krsna’s qualities; i.e., it qualifies the first name.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Krsnaya.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Krsnaya. Who is Krsna? A devotee in dasya-rasa considers, “He is my master and I am His servant.” Such a devotee thinks that Krsna is Gopi-janavallabha in a general way.
Krsna is the prominent name for those in sakhya-rasa as well; such devotees stress on Krsna or Govinda. However, those who have gopi-bhava, or manjari-bhava, focus on Gopi-janavallabha, and the other two words, krsnaya and govindaya, will be adjectives of gopi-janavallabhaya.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What about those in vatsalya-rasa?
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Vatsalya follows the same principle.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: They focus on Krsna?
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: They focus on Krsna as the Deity with whom they are related. Everyone with vatsalya-bhava knows in an ordinary way that the gopis love Krsna, but they have no …
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Idea.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: They have an idea of that love, but no experience. Idea and experience are not the same. Devotees with vatsalya-bhava do not know that all the young gopis engage in intimate loving affairs with Krsna, and the sakhas also do not know the nature of those exchanges.
For one with greed like the manjaris or gopis, ‘go’ in this mantra will refer to the gopis. He meditates that “Govinda gives so much ananda (pleasure) to the gopis. Such a devotee will not contemplate other meanings. And he thinks, “By His appearance with five flower arrows (His smiling, His flute-playing, His beautiful cheeks, His eyebrows, and His side-long glances), Krsna is immensely attractive.” In this way, the two other names will support the name Gopi-janavallabha. Thus, the devotee with madhurya-bhava will see the other names as adjectives of that name with whom he is related.
Practically everyone in our sampradaya stresses on Gopi-janavallabha. By the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, those who come to this sampradaya are mainly of gopi-bhava. Some may be of other rasas, like Srivasa Thakura, Murari Gupta, Anupama, and others like them.
Thus, Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara received the same mantra, although their siddha-dehas (spiritual bodies) were in separate rasas. Vijaya Kumara saw his Gurudeva as a manifestation of Lalita, and Vrajanatha saw him as a manifestation of Baladeva Prabhu or Subala.
It can happen like this. Guru gives training for serving under the guidance of Lalita and Visakha in madhura-rasa. Rupa Manjari, who is Radhika’s prana-sakhi (in the group of Her most intimate maidservants), also gives training in all the services of Radhika’s maidservants. She does so not as a guru, but as a very intimate bosom friend. In madhura-rasa, everyone has to go to Rupa Manjari for training in order to serve as a manjari. We can see our guru as a manifestation of Rupa Manjari, not as Rupa Manjari herself. Our vision of guru should not be mayavada. You understand?
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Can you please explain that point?
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We should see our Gurudeva as a manifestation of Rupa Manjari; that is quite proper. This is what is meant by saying that Gopala Guru Gosvami was seen as Lalita and also as Subala. It means that he is their manifestation, just as one can see Narayana, Vamana, and all other incarnations in Krsna. Anyone can see his guru in this way, according to one’s inner bhava, as a manifestation. Otherwise, seeing him directly as Rupa Manjari will be mayavada (impersonalism); it is essential to always keep mayavada very far away.
Here in this verse, seva-sadhaka-rupena means that one externally performs service as Rupa Gosvami did. What did he do?
nidrahara-viharakadi-vijitau catyanta-dinau ca yau
radha-krsna-guna-smrter madhurimanandena sammohitau
vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau
(Sad Gosvamyastakam 6)
["I worship the Six Gosvamis, who passed all their time in chanting the holy names, singing songs, and offering dandavat-pranama, thereby humbly fulfilling their vow to complete a fixed number daily. In this way they utilized their valuable lives and conquered over eating, sleeping, and other such pleasures. Always very meek and humble, they became enchanted in divine rapture from remembering Sri Radha-Krsna’s sweet qualities."]
Sometimes he would go to Radha Kunda, sometimes to Govardhana, and sometimes to Nandagram. In Nandagaon he would sometimes go to Ter Kadamba, and sometimes he would spend one day at Uddhava Kyari, Nanda Baithak, Kokilavana, or Javat. He visited all these dearmost places.
He always liked to be in Javat, because Srimati Radhika, Rupa Manjari, and all of Radhika’s friends used to live there. At night they would go from there to meet with Krsna in Sanket, Seva Kunja, and many other places, and at midday they would meet at Radha Kunda. Radha Kunda holds some greater importance than all other places, because the pastimes there take place in the daytime, with only Srimati Radhika’s gana (group).
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Her gana means Her svapaksa-sakhis (the gopis of Her own party)
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Only the svapaksa gopis can come there. The vipaksa gopis (those in the rival party) and tatastha gopis (those in the neutral party and who have some inclination to the rival party) are not allowed, nor can…
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Nanda and Yasoda.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: They never come there.
In this way, sadhaka-rupena refers to following the Six Gosvamis, especially Rupa Gosvami, and siddha-rupena refers to following Rupa Gosvami in his siddha form as Rupa Manjari. As a sadhaka, Rupa Gosvami comes in a male form, as Rupa Gosvami, and in his siddha-svarupa (spiritual form in Goloka Vrndavana) he is Rupa Manjari. What services does Rupa Manjari perform?
tambularpana pada mardana payo danabhisaradhibhir
vrndaranya-mahervarim priyataya yas tosayanti priyah
prana-prestha-sakhi-kulad api kilasaíkocita bhumikah
keli-bhumisu rupa-manjari-mukhas ta dasika samsraye
(Vraja-Vilasa-Stava, verse 38, Raghunatha dasa)
["She brings Radha and Krsna tambula (a betel nut preparation) and water that has been very sweetly flavored with milk and herbs (payo-dana). Tambul arpana: She brings a golden pot when Radhika and Krsna want to spit the betel after chewing it."]
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: A spittoon.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: A golden pot is placed there.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: For Their pana.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then, abhisara (amorous tryst, or lovers’ rendevous). Do you know the meaning of abhisara? This is when Srimati Radhika meets Krsna in Sanket-sthali (a place of meeting). For example, She goes to meet with Him on Purnima.
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: The full-moon night.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: She dresses in white on the full moon night, and also during Suklapaksa, the fifteen days of the waxing moon. She dresses completely in white when She goes out for Her nocturnal meeting with Krsna on the full-moon night, and on the preceding nights she dresses in white in accordance with the gradual increase of the moon. Even though Her complexion is fair and very golden, at that time She has Her manjaris rub camphor mixed with many other ingredients on Her body.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Why?
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: In order to make Her appear white.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Why?
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: In that way, if anyone looks in Her direction they would think they are seeing only moon-rays.
Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: It is a disguise.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: This is Her disguise.
And at that time the manjaris bind Her ankle bells so that they will not make any tinkling sound.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: No noise.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: No noise should be heard; and because She must not be seen, Her sari and veil should also be white.
Conversely, on a dark-moon night (amavasya) a sakhi tells Srimati Radhika, “The night is dark, so You must train how to go there.” Srimati Radhika then practices, at midnight. At that time She has Her sakhis take kalasas (pots) full of water and pour them in Her courtyard in order to make it muddy and very slippery.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Practice.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then they place thorns here and there on that muddy ground. They have created a setting as if Radhika is walking in a forest on a cloudy night, with rain falling very heavily, making the earth extremely slippery, with many serpents and thorns as well.
So in this situation how can She go to Krsna? She practices during the night, by moving very quietly and cautiously. Like this. Do you know the word for this type of walking?
Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: Tip-toe. Very quietly. It’s called tip-toe.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: As Lalita trains Srimati Radhika in this way, Rupa Manjari watches, and our guru in this world, as sakhi-manjari in that world, also watches.
The manjaris know everything – at what time they should go and how they should go – and they very cleverly make all arrangements. This is abhisara.
Krsna is waiting at Sanketa. The night is dark, and it is raining. The manjaris come there first to find Krsna and tell Him that Srimati Radhika will not come that night. Actually, Radhika has already come and is hiding, watching to see Krsna’s reaction. In order to further increase Krsna’s desire for Srimati Radhika, the manjaris lie to Him, saying, “She will not come tonight.” Krsna practically faints at that time, and anxiously suggests a way for Radhika to meet with Him. If the manjaris see that Krsna is sincerely hankering to meet with Radhika, they at once go and tell Her, and She then comes to Him. Otherwise, She will not come.
Sometimes, when it is time for abhisara, it may be that their fathers-in-law or mothers-in-law, or all of their sisters-in-law, are present in their homes. The manjaris must be so clever that they can find a way to cheat their in-laws, telling them lies and cleverly devising a way for Radha and Krsna to meet. This is called abhisara. The manjaris perform all these activities; they know so many clever tricks.