There are developmental stages of one’s dominant emotion, or sthayi-bhava, for Krsna. There is a development stage for the sthayi-bhava for sakhya-rati, or fraternal love and a development of the dominant and self-defining emotion of madhurya-rati, or romantic love. Or for vatsalya-rati. So there is an ankure, a sprout of this bhava, which is self-defining. It is a new identity different from one’s karmic, psychological, biological, varnasrama – or outside of varnasrama – material identity. It is cultivated in sadhana-bhakti, bhakti in practice, by way of establishing a foundation. The foundation is saranagati that corresponds with sraddha: surrender that plays out actively and corresponds with the inner faith.
In sadhana-bhakti we’re strengthening the faith by hearing the scriptural argument, from where the faith comes through revelation. We’ll strengthen the faith and in sadhu-sanga hear how the scriptural implications are churned, thought about, discussed further and so forth. This is crucial to strengthening the faith at different times and in different circumstances. All this is sadhana-bhakti where we’re learning the sambandha-jnana, the tattva, or the ground on which the bhava will arise. Getting this all in place -- theoretically and in practice -- makes one’s conviction becomes firm. Through practice taste comes for bhakti. Attachment for the object of one’s love in the last stage of sadhana.
Then one enters the stage of bhava-bhakti where the emotional aspect of bhakti manifests. Prior to that in sadhana-bhakti, was the active aspect of bhakti that involved playing out bhakti with one’s senses, like an apprentice learning. We say imitation of a good thing is a good thing. Upon entering into bhava-bhakti -- because the material identity, the mental and emotional reality has been dissolved for the most part -- this new identity comes to the fore and it has spiritual emotion to it. Now there is emotion and action, but this action arises primarily out of emotion, out of feeling, not out of duty. this is the stage of bhava-bhakti, which is the goal of sadhana-bhakti. Bhava-bhakti is the real beginning of one’s perfection because it is bhakti proper. These are the two aspects of bhakti: active and emotive. In sadhana-bhakti the emotive aspect, for the most part, is not in play.
This sprout of bhava, comes from the seed which reaches us through sadhu-sanga and the impressions that come through associating with sadhus, and mantras we receive from our guru, and so forth. The impressions of sakhya-rati or madhurya-rati come from our guru. So that particular sthayi-bhava will develop as we progress; it will sprout in bhava-bhakti.
There are two things. There is the sprout of the sthayi-bhava: the dominant, self-defining emotion which is called the bhava-ankure. Then there is the mature stage of that rati. Both the sprout and mature stage of the sthayi-bhava can be called rati like sakhya-rati or madhurya-rati. One rati refers to the sprouting and the other is in reference to the mature. For the mature stage, we tend to refer to it as rasa: sakhya-rasa rather than sakhya-rati. This is because the specific development in bhava-bhakti is to cultivate the rati through hearing and chanting and identifying the different ingredients of rasa, and so forth. The ingredients of rasa all arise out of the sthayi-bhava. Sthayi-bhava is like an ocean that rises up through the exercise of bhakti. It turns into a cloud and rains back down into the ocean in the form of other ecstatic ingredients: sattvika bhavas, anubhavas. Some bhavas that are results, or effects, and others are causes (vibhavas are causes). These emotions mature and one develops prema.
Prema is also called the svarupa-siddhi stage. From there one is thought to take birth in the lilas of Krsna wherever they are appearing in the world. When entering there then there are developments of one’s sthayi-bhava. Visvannatha Cakravarti Thakura explains, for example in the Ujjala-nilamani commentary, there are intensifications of the sthayi-bhava that cannot be developed except in the manifest lila. The implication is with the association of nitya-siddha devotees in the manifest lila, the nara-lila, the humanlike lila, the intensifications become developed. You receive their association and hands on guidance.
I’ve given an example. Just like when your drafted by the professional football team from college. So you’re sitting on the bench in the professional league. You’re there. You’ve got the uniform on. You’re practicing with them and then your number is called. You’re on. You go out onto the field. It’s quite different than watching it on TV, taking notes about it, practicing it, or watching the film. In the live situation there is something that can be learned that can’t be learned any other way. There are unique elements: the speed of the game, the tricks of the trade, and being with the mature, older veterans who know intuitively. All of that can only be experienced playing the game itself.
So there are developments of developing the sthayi-bhava that are required in order for you to perfect your perfection and go from svarupa-siddhi to vastu-siddhi and be in a position to enter into the unmanifest lila when it the manifest lila becomes unmanifest. There are some further developments in the preliminary stage of prema.
The typical order of these developments are prema to sneha, pranaya, mana, raga, anuraga, mahabhava.
Different sthayi-bhavas like sakhya, madhurya, vatsalya will develop differently these intensifications of the sthayi-bhava differently. For example, pranaya is a certain development of the sthayi-bhava that doesn’t apply to vatsalya-rasa or the dasya-rasa. Pranaya includes a sense of equality that friends and lovers have. But parents can’t have with kids, for example or that teachers can’t have with students. So pranaya is not part of the development of the sthayi-bhava for vatsalya- or dasya-rasa.
The intensification to mahabhava is exclusive for madhurya-rasa. It’s not something for vatsalya-rasa, vatsalya doesn’t reach to that limit. The sakhya-rasa extends only to raga, not anuraga. The dasya-rasa may extend to raga. In some instances it will have some pranaya because there’s a mixture of sakhya-rasa with the dasya-rasa. Sakhya-rasa tinges dasya in Raktaka and Paktraka and devotees like this.
Not all of the categories of intensification of prema applies to every rasa.
In reference to your question, the order of development in sakhya-rasa is different. The most peculiar thing is that before prema comes pranaya.
In madhurya-rasa pranaya is also a development. First you have prema, sneha, pranaya, mana, raga, anuraga, and mahabhava. In sakhya-rasa you have pranaya, prema, sneha, and raga. Pranaya develops first and for the three kinds of sakhya-rasas: the sakhas, the suhrt-sakhas, and the priya-sakhas, they can reach up to raga.
The sakhas whose sakhya-rasa is tinged with dasya; whose sakhya is tinged with vatsalya; whose sakhya-rasa is unto itself. So those types of sakhya-rasa extends only to raga, whereas as vatsalya-rasa extends to anuraga, but not to mahabhava.
There is a fourth group of Krsna’s friends: the priya-narma-sakhas, whose friendly love for Krsna is influenced by madhurya-rasa. They have a desire to serve Krsna when He’s involved with his romantic life. Those sakhas have a desire to and attraction for madhurya-rasa. The way in which the attraction for them manifests is called tad-bhava, or anumodana, which is the same way in which the madhurya-rasa of the handmaidens of Radha develop.
In other words, there are two types of madhurya-rasa in a basic sense: sambhoga and tad-bhava. Sambhoga means with the desire for direct union with Krsna. It is completely selfless and fully for His satisfaction alone. Then there is another type, which is thought to be superior. The devotee desires to develop the bhava of one who has sambhoga with Krsna. The bhakta wants to assist her who has union with Krsna. This is the type of madhurya-rasa that is prominent in Gaudiya Vaisnavism, which reaches its zenith in the handmaidens of Radha.
There are different varieties of that tad-bhava. Those girls, manjaris, sometimes are called priya-narma-sakhis. And then there are priya-narma-sakhas, the male form of the devotee aspiring for tad-bhava. The sakhas have a type of empathetic love. For example, the manjaris have as their object of worship Radha and Krsna and bringing Them together. When the Divine Couple experience purva-raga (a type of separation in madhurya-rasa), or mana (one of the developments of mana leads to separation, for example, when Radharani becomes upset with Krsna). When Radharani experiences mana the priya-narma-sakhis, the manjaris, experience mana by way of identifying with Her bhava. They experience it vicariously, so it’s an empathetic type of experience of separation.
In the case of the priya-narma-sakhas, Krsna’s friends, Rupa Gosvami says that they will experience up to mahabhava. And there are divisions of mahabhava. As we heard earlier, mahabhava is only for the gopis. So the priya-narma-sakhas experience mahabhava because they are influenced by madhurya-rasa. Unlike Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, in this Priti-sandarbha, Jiva Gosvami makes the comment -- without any further elaboration -- that those in sakhya-rasa can also experience mana. One would think that his comment applies to the priya-narma-sakhas who have an interest in assisting Krsna in His romantic life. The priya-narma-sakhas have a male group leader in their rasa, as well as a female group leader in madhurya-rasa. For instance, Madhumangala has Lalita as his female group leader. Ujjvala has Visakha. And Subala has Radha Herself as his group leader. And they are all, of course, Radha or Radha’s friends with a form of tad-bhava for Radha.
The anga-rasa, or primary rasa, is to enhance the angi-rasa. The purpose of the madhurya-rasa, an angi-rasa in the case of those in sakhya-rasa, is to enhance the sakhya-rasa. It enhances sakhya by equipping, or making those in sakhya capable of having empathetic love for Radha and Krsna and desiring to assist Them in their madhurya affairs.
It is said that among the Vrajavasis, Subala is the most expert -- of anybody in any rasa -- in dealing with the mana of Radha, which often causes separation. He gets in there and works things out; pacifies Her while also empathizing with Krsna.
So there is this empathetic experience, for you psychologists and psychiatrists out there, which is like having Krsna on the couch and you’re trying to enter into how He feels so you can give an appropriate response.
In sakhya-rasa it is in a male form. Therefore the interactions are going to play out slightly differently than in the female form of the manjari, but it’s tad-bhava and very similar. It appears, then, that there is scope for the priya-narma-sakhas of Krsna experiencing mana. And up to rudha-mahabhava though not aniruddha-mahabhava. There are divisions within mahabhava that are pertinent to the manjaris, but not to the priya-narma-sakhas.
To go back to the difference in order in the development of prema.
The pranaya in madhurya-rasa is something that results in the breaking of mana. When mana is broken, in other words the jealousy is over, then there is pranaya. They are getting back together and the barrier between the two – “Don’t touch me . . . Don’t come near me” – is broken and the feeling goes to pranaya. Pranaya can appear before mana. So pranaya then mana will come and then pranaya will come again. It’s a little different in the way it’s working.
In sakhya-rasa, pranaya is very prominent to sakhya-rasa proper. It’s visrambha, which is the pradhana, the root of the whole sakhya-bhava: a sense of equality with Krsna. Friends are equals. They share equally. If you rest your feet on your friend it’s not a big deal. His body is the same as yours. Something like that. The feeling of the friends is, We are equal with Krsna. There is absolutely no difference between us whatsoever. He’s cool, but we’re equal, we’re all friends here.
The intimacy of visrambha intensifies into this pranaya. It so much pervades sahkya-rasa, the visrambha of pranaya, that it intensifies and pranaya manifest prior to prema. Arguably, pranaya develops before entering the manifest lila. Pranaya, prema, then you enter the lila. Then for the priya-narma-sakhas there is the development of sneha, which is like the heart melting. Sneha is affection. Then, according to Rupa Gosvami, from sneha to raga, anuraga, mahabhava. And according to Jiva Gosvami, from sneha, mana, raga, anuraga, mahabhava.
This development for the priya-narma-sakhas is relative to their participation in the romantic lilas of Radha and Krsna. The implication, then, is that these emotions will not be constant. When they are participating in the madhurya lilas then their sthayi will extend to the level of intensity appropriate to the circumstances.
For the priya-narma-sakhis, or the manjaris, however, they are fully engaged in the madhurya-lila exclusively, all the time. Their participation, experience, of these developments of mana and mahabhava are more ongoing.
So there is some difference between the priya-narma-sakhas and priya-narma-sakhis.
Separation is a big thing in Gaudiya Vaisnavism. It’s thought, in one sense, to result in union, which gives union the upper hand. But careful study reveals that the separation itself contains excellences that even union does not. It’s another virtue of the nara-lila, or the manifest lila. It’s not just a lila for sadhakas to enter into, but there is something relishable for the siddhas. Therefore sadhakas wants to attain the unmanifest, aprakata, deva-lila, which has a tinge of majesty and finality in terms of their culture of bhakti. But the nitya-siddhas want to participate in the nara-lila, the humanlike lila.
Of course, once you enter into the unmanifest lila then you can appear like them in a manifest lila. You can come back and fully appreciate the manifest lila which was previously a time of growth for you. Now it will be a time of playing out the lila, on location, in ways that causes the experience to be enhanced.
For example, for sakhya-rasa, there is no pauganda-lila in the deva-lila. There is no boyhood of Krsna, which is so dear for the sakhas. There is no kumara, or the childhood of Krsna, which is so relishable for the vatsalya bhaktas. These ages don’t manifest in the deva-lila in Goloka. So they are very special. They only manifest in Vraja and only in the prakata, or manifest, humanlike lila.
And in the nara-lila, the separation found in it is very prominent. There are a number of types of separation, but in the basic sense, for all the rasas, there is the yoga and ayoga.
Within the union, yoga, there are four types. And within ayoga there are three types: before ever meeting, incidental separations at night or if Krsna goes behind a tree or something, and then there is the actual separation: Krsna leaves Vrndavana at eleven. He spends thirty-three years in Mathura and eighty-one years in Dvaraka before returning. That’s a long separation. So the fullest development of the feelings of separation and the extraordinary symptoms of it, which sound very disconcerting, manifest during this viyoga, this long-term separation.
And each of these types of separation: before meeting, incidental separation, and long-term separation have corresponding types of union. The full face of union comes after the full face of separation.The manifest lila is characterized by separation and the unmanifest lila is characterized by union (though it has incidental separation). The unmanifest lila doesn’t have any purva-raga or utkanthita (separation experienced prior to meeting), though it has some incidental separation.
The separation seen in the manifest lila is something that we pass through -- through the fire of ordeal to be able to enter into the full face of the union.
But the separation, the viraha bhava, has an excellence, that is thought to excel even union. This is another reason why the prakata, or manifest lila, is so extraordinary. It looks very disconcerting and painful. How can a painful thing bring happiness? Sanatana Gosvami gives an example. If you take ice and put it on your skin it will appear as if it’s hot and burning. But it is actually cooling. So the separation looks bad, but it actually extremely blissful. And Sanatana Prabhu says separation is always present in gopi-bhava. Elements of separation are always there, which is another one of madhurya-rasa’s excellences.
It is theologically complicated in ways but these are very extraordinary, nuanced insights into the nature of transcendental love, which is where Gaudiya Vaisnavism excels. If you want to love God, we have some books about it.
The gopis and gopas don’t say separation is blissful, but it is.
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