|Chapter 14: The Ecstasy of the Lord and His Devotees|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Teachings of Lord Caitanya
Situated above these two emotions is permanent love, which is called sthayibhava. In other words, attachment to Krishna is permanent. That permanent loving attitude is sometimes mixed with different kinds of taste, called vibhava, anubhava and vyabhicari. Vibhava is a particular taste for attachment to Krishna, and it can be divided into two further categories -- alambana and uddipana. In the Agni Purana and other authoritative scriptures, that which increases one's love of Krishna is said to be vibhava, and when Krishna is the objective, vibhava is increased as alambana. Uddipana is induced by Krishna's transcendental qualities, His activities, His beautiful smiling face and the aroma of His body, the sound of His flute, the sound of His conchshell, the marks on the bottoms of His feet, His dwelling place and His paraphernalia of devotional service (such as tulasi leaves, devotees, ceremonial performances and Ekadasi). Anubhava occurs when feelings and emotions within oneself are exhibited. In the attitude of anubhava, one dances and sometimes falls down, sometimes sings loudly, shows convulsions, yawns, and sometimes breathes very heavily -- all without concern for circumstances.
The external features exhibited on the bodies of devotees are called udbhasvara. The vyabhicari symptoms are thirty-three in number, and they primarily involve words uttered by the devotee and different bodily features. These different bodily features -- such as dancing trembling and laughing -- when mixed with the vyabhicari symptoms are called sancari. When bhava, anubhava and vyabhicari symptoms are combined, they make the devotee dive into the ocean of immortality. That ocean is called the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, the ocean of the pure nectar of devotional service, and one who is merged in that ocean is always rapt in transcendental pleasure on the waves and sounds of that ocean. The particular rasas (flavors or tastes) of the devotees who merge into that ocean of bhakti-rasamrita are known as neutrality, servitorship, friendship, parenthood and conjugal love. Conjugal love is very prominent, and it is symptomized by the devotee's decorating his body to attract Krishna. The flavor of servitorship increases to include affection, anger, fraternity and attachment. The flavor of friendship increases to include affection, anger, fraternity, attachment and devotion, and in parenthood the attachment increases to include affection, anger, fraternity, attachment, and devotion. There are also special flavors experienced in friendship with the Supreme Lord, and these are manifested by friends such as Subala, whose devotion increases up to the point of bhava. The different rasas are also divided into two kinds of ecstasy, called yoga and viyoga, or meeting and separation. In friendship and parenthood, the feelings of meeting and separation are various.
The situations known as rudha and adhirudha are possible in the conjugal love relationship. Conjugal love exhibited by the queens at Dvaraka is called rudha, and conjugal love exhibited at Vrindavana by the damsels of Vraja is called adhirudha. The highest perfection of adhirudha affection in conjugal love involve meeting (madana) and separation (mohana). In the ecstasy of madana, meeting, there is kissing, and in the ecstasy of mohana, separation, there is udghurna and citrajalpa. As far as citrajalpa is concerned, in Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is a portion known as Bhramara-gita in which various kinds of citra jalpa are mentioned. Udghurna is a symptom of separation, and there is also a symptom called transcendental insanity. In that transcendental insanity one thinks that he himself has become the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In such an ecstasy, he imitates the symptoms of Krishna in different ways.
There are two kinds of dresses worn in that relationship of conjugal love, and they are called sambhoga and vipralambha. On the sambhoga platform, the dresses are unlimited, and on the vipralambha they are four in number. The ecstasy exhibited before the lover and beloved meet, the ecstasy experienced between them after meeting, the state of mind experienced by not meeting, and the state of mind experienced after meeting fearing separation are called vipralambha. That vipralambha serves as a nourishing element for future meetings. When the lover and beloved meet all of a sudden and embrace one another, they feel an ecstasy of happiness, and the state of mind they experience in that ecstasy is called sambhoga. According to the situation, sambhoga ecstasy is also known by four names: (1) sankshipta, (2) sankirna, (3) sampanna, (4) samriddhiman. Such symptoms are also visible during dreams.
The mental state experienced before meeting is called purvaraga. The obstacles which sometimes impede the meeting between lover and beloved are called mana, or anger. When the lover and beloved are separated, the mental state experienced is called pravasa. Feelings of separation which are present under certain conditions even when the lovers meet are called love anxieties (prema-vaicittya). Such love anxieties are exhibited in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.90.15) by the princesses who kept awake nights and watched Krishna sleep. They were afraid of being separated from Krishna, and they always talked amongst themselves about how they had been affected by Krishna's beautiful eyes and His smile.
The supreme lover is Krishna, and He is situated in Vrindavana, and the supreme beloved is Radharani. Krishna has sixty-four important qualifications, and His devotee takes transcendental pleasure in hearing of them. As explained in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, the characteristics are as follows: (1) His body is well constructed; (2) His body has all auspicious symptoms; (3) His body is beautiful; (4) His body is very glorious; (5) His body is very strong; (6) He always looks like a boy of sixteen; (7) He is well versed in various languages; (8) He is truthful; (9) He is decorated with pleasing words; (10) He is expert in speaking; (11) He is very learned; (12) He is very intelligent; (13) He is influential; (14) He is joyful; (15) He is cunning; (16) He is expert; (17) He is grateful; (18) He is firmly convinced; (19) He knows how to deal with different circumstances; (20) He is always conversant with scriptural injunctions; (21) He is clean; (22) He is controlled by His devotees; (23) He is steady; (24) He is self-controlled; (25) He is forgiving; (26) He is grave; (27) He is speculative; (28) He is fair in His dealings; (29) He is magnanimous; (30) He is religious; (31) He is a great hero; (32) He is merciful; (33) He is respectful; (34) He is competent; (35) He is gentle; (36) He is modest; (37) He is the protector of the souls surrendered unto Him; (38) He is the deliverer; (39) He is the friend of the devotees; (40) He is submissive to love; (41) He is all-auspicious; (42) He is most powerful; (43) He is famous; (44) He is devoted to all living entities; (45) He is worshipable by everyone; (46) He is very attractive to all women; (47) He is partial to His devotees; (48) He is full of all opulence; (49) He is the supreme controller; (50) He possesses all honor.
These fifty qualities or characteristics are fragmentally present in every living entity. When they are completely spiritually free and situated in their original condition, all these qualities can be perceived in human life in minute quantity. In Krishna, however, they exist in totality. There are five other transcendental qualities (mentioned below) which can be seen in Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, and partially in Lord Siva also, but they are not visible in ordinary living entities. These characteristics are as follows: (1) He is always situated in His original condition; (2) He is omniscient; (3) He is evergreen or always fresh; (4) He is eternally blissful; (5) He is conversant and is the master of all perfection. Besides these five transcendental characteristics, there are five others which can be seen in the spiritual sky, especially in the Vaikuntha planets where Narayana is the predominating Deity. These are: (1) He has inconceivable qualities; (2) He is able to sustain innumerable universes; (3) He is the seed of all incarnations; (4) He grants the highest perfection to those enemies whom He kills; (5) He is the most attractive of self-realized persons.
The above-mentioned qualities and characteristics, which total sixty in number, are visible up to the platform of Narayana. However, Krishna has four special qualities, which are: (1) He is able to manifest wonderful pastimes; (2) He is expert at transcendental flute playing; (3) He is surrounded by loving devotees; (4) He possesses unparalleled personal beauty.
Thus Krishna has sixty-four transcendental qualities. Srimati Radharani has twenty-five transcendental qualities, but She can control even Krishna by them. Her transcendental qualities are as follows: (1) She is sweetness personified; (2) She is a fresh young girl; (3) Her eyes are always moving; (4) She is always brightly smiling; (5) She possesses all auspicious marks on Her body; (6) She can agitate Krishna by the flavor of Her person; (7) She is expert in the art of singing; (8) She can speak very nicely and sweetly; (9) She is expert in presenting feminine attractions; (10) She is modest and gentle; (11) She is always very merciful; (12) She is transcendentally cunning; (13) She knows how to dress nicely; (14) She is always shy; (15) She is always respectful; (16) She is always patient; (17) She is very grave; (18) She is enjoyed by Krishna; (19) She is always situated on the highest devotional platform; (20) She is the abode of love of the residents of Gokula; (21) She can give shelter to all kinds of devotees; (22) She is always affectionate to superiors and inferiors; (23) She is always obliged by the dealings of Her associates, (24) She is the greatest amongst Krishna's girl friends; (25) She always keeps Krishna under Her control.
Thus Krishna and Radharani are both transcendentally qualified, and both of Them attract one another. Yet in that transcendental attraction, Radharani is greater than Krishna, for the attractiveness of Radharani is the transcendental taste in conjugal love. Similarly, there are transcendental tastes in servitude, friendship and other relationships with Krishna. These can be described with reference to the context of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.
Persons who have been thoroughly cleansed by devotional service and are always joyful, being situated in elevated consciousness, who are very much attached to the stud ies of Srimad-Bhagavatam, who are always cheerful in the association of devotees, who have accepted the lotus feet of Krishna as the ultimate shelter of their lives, and who are pleased to perform all details of devotional service, have in their pure hearts the transcendental ecstasy of attachment. When that ecstatic state of being is enriched with love of Krishna and the transcendental experience, one gradually attains to the mature oneness of spiritual life. Such spiritual life is not possible for those who are not situated in Krishna consciousness and devotional service. This fact is further corroborated in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu wherein it is said: "It is very difficult for the nondevotee to understand the taste of devotional service. Only one who has completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna and whose life is merged in the ocean of devotional service can understand this transcendental pleasure."
Lord Caitanya thus explained briefly the transcendental situation and spiritual enjoyment of life, and He taught that the first stage of perfection is to become a religious man in the ordinary sense, as known in the material world. The second stage of perfection is to become materially rich. The third stage of material perfection is the attainment of complete sense enjoyment, and in the fourth stage there is knowledge of liberation. Above this platform are those on the fifth stage who are already liberated and who are established in Krishna consciousness or devotional service to the Lord. In the highest perfection of devotional service in Krishna consciousness, one experiences the taste of the ecstasy of spiritual relish.
The Lord then told Sanatana Gosvami that He had previously taught his younger brother, Rupa Gosvami, at Prayaga (Allahabad). The Lord assured Sanatana Gosvami that He had empowered Rupa Gosvami to spread the knowledge He had given him. The Lord then similarly ordered Sanatana Gosvami to write books on the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and He authorized him to excavate the different sites of Krishna's pastimes in the district of Mathura. Sanatana Gosvami was also advised to construct temples in Vrindavana and to write books on the principles of Vaishnavism, as authorized by Lord Caitanya Himself. Sanatana Gosvami executed all these desires of the Lord -- he constructed the temple of Madana-mohana at Vrindavana, and he wrote books on the principles of devotional service, such as Hari-bhakti-vilasa. Lord Caitanya further taught Sanatana Gosvami how one can live in the material world while being in a complete relationship with Krishna, and He also taught him that there is no necessity for dry renunciation. The purport of these instructions is that in the present age there are many persons who accept the renounced order of life but who are not spiritually advanced. Lord Caitanya did not approve of one's accepting sannyasa without having perfect knowledge of Krishna consciousness. Actually it is found that there are many so-called sannyasis whose actions are below those of ordinary men but who pass themselves off as being in the renounced order of life. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not accept such hypocrisy. He taught Sanatana Gosvami to write elaborately on the subject of devotional service in his different books.
The perfectional stage of spiritual life which one can experience even while being in the material world is described in the Twelfth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita as follows: "One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement with Me -- he is very dear to Me. He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anxiety, who is steady in happiness and distress, is very dear to Me. A devotee who is not dependent on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and who does not strive for some result, is very dear to Me. One who grasps neither pleasure or grief who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things, is very dear to Me. One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contamination, always silent and satisfied with anything, who doesn't care for any residence, who is fixed in knowledge and engaged in devotional service, is very dear to Me. He who follows this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engages himself with faith, making Me the supreme goal, is very, very dear to Me." (Bg. 12.13-20)
Even if one is not situated in such a transcendental position, if he simply approves of such a transcendental life, he also becomes very dear to Krishna. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.2.5) it is stated that a devotee should always remain dependent on the mercy of the Supreme Lord and that as far as his material necessities are concerned, he should be satisfied with whatever is obtained without endeavor. In this regard, Sukadeva Gosvami advised that a devotee should never approach a materialistic person for any kind of help. As far as one's bodily necessities are concerned, one can pick up torn clothing out of the street, can take fruits offered by trees, can drink water which flows from rivers, and can live in a cave constructed by nature herself. Even if one is unable to do all these things, he should nonetheless completely depend on the Supreme Lord, understanding that the Supreme Lord provides everyone with food and shelter. One should understand that the Lord will never fail to care for His devotees who are fully surrendered unto Him. In any case, the devotee is always protected, and therefore he should not be at all anxious for his maintenance.
Sanatana Gosvami thus inquired into all phases of devotional service, and Lord Caitanya taught him most confidentially from authoritative scriptures like Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Lord referred also to the Vedic literature known as Harivamsa, which gives information about the transcendental abode of Krishna. This information was disclosed by Indra when he offered his prayers after being defeated upon challenging the potency of Krishna. In the Harivamsa it is stated that although birds and airplanes can fly, they cannot reach the higher planetary systems. The higher planetary systems begin with the sun planet, which is situated in the middle of the universe. Beyond the sun there are other planetary systems where persons who are elevated by great austerities and penances are situated. The entire material universe is called Devidhama, and above it there is Sivadhama, where Lord Siva and his wife Parvati eternally reside. Above that planetary system is the spiritual sky where innumerable spiritual planets, known as Vaikunthas, are situated. Above these Vaikuntha planets there is Krishna's planet known as Goloka Vrindavana. The word goloka means "planet of the cows." Because Krishna is very fond of cows, His abode is known as Goloka. Goloka Vrindavana is larger than all the material and spiritual planets put together. In the prayer contained in the Harivamsa, Indra admitted that he could not understand the situation of Goloka even by asking Brahma. Those who are devotees of the Narayana expansion of Krishna attain the Vaikuntha planets, but it is very difficult to reach Goloka Vrindavana. Indeed, that planet can be reached only by persons who are devotees of Lord Caitanya or Lord Sri Krishna. It was Indra who admitted to Lord Krishna: "You have descended from that Goloka planet in the spiritual world, and the disturbance which I have created was all due to my foolishness." Therefore Indra begged Lord Krishna to excuse him.
The last phase of the pastimes of Lord Krishna is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam as mausala-lila. This includes the mystery of Krishna's disappearance from this material world. In that pastime the Lord played the part of being killed by a hunter. There are many improper explanations of the last portion of Lord Krishna's pastimes (such as descriptions of the incarnation of Krishna's hair), but Lord Caitanya properly described these pastimes and gave them the right interpretation. As far as the incarnation of Krishna's hair is concerned, there is mention in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Vishnu Purana, and the Mahabharata. It is stated there that the Lord snatched a gray hair and a black hair from His head and that these two hairs entered into the wombs of two queens of the Yadu dynasty, namely Rohini and Devaki. It is also stated that Lord Krishna descends to the material world in order to vanquish all the demons, but some say that Krishna is the incarnation of Vishnu who lies in the ocean of milk within this universe. Srila Rupa Gosvami in his Laghu-bhagavatamrita and his commentator, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushana, have discussed these points fully and have established the exact truth. Sri Jiva Gosvami also discussed these points in the Krishna-sandarbha.
When Lord Caitanya finished His instructions to Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sanatana, being empowered and enlightened, was so transcendentally pleased that he at once fell at the feet of Lord Caitanya and said: "I am born of a very low family, and I have always associated with lowly people; therefore I am the lowest of sinners. Yet You are so kind that You have taught me lessons which are not even understood by Lord Brahma, the greatest being in this universe. By Your grace I have appreciated the conclusions which You have taught me, but I am so low that I cannot even touch a drop of the ocean of Your instructions. Thus if You want me, who am nothing but a lame man, to dance, then please give me Your benediction by placing Your feet on my head."
Thus Sanatana Gosvami prayed for the Lord's confirmation that His teachings would actually evolve in his heart by His grace. Otherwise Sanatana knew that there was no possibility of his being able to describe the Lord's teachings. The purport of this is that the acaryas (spiritual masters) are authorized by higher authorities. Instruction alone cannot make one an expert. Unless one is blessed by the spiritual master, or the acarya, such teachings cannot become fully manifest. Therefore one should seek the mercy of the spiritual master so that the instructions of the spiritual master can develop within oneself. After receiving the prayers of Sanatana Gosvami, Lord Caitanya placed His feet on the head of Sanatana and gave him His benedictions so that all His instructions would develop fully.
Thus the Lord described the ultimate stage of love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya said that such a description cannot be given very elaborately but that He had informed him as far as possible. The conclusion is that anyone who attentively hears these discourses and instructions of Lord Caitanya to Sanatana Gosvami very soon attains to Krishna consciousness and engages in devotional service to the Lord.
Copyright (c) The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness