Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hierarchies of rasa

This could be a huge topic, but I am not going to get into it in detail. This is a followup to yesterday's post, Harilal Vyasa, a few observations.

HLV (Harilal Vyasa) quotes the following verse from VM (Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛtam), and there are many similar verses. I will probably add to this post in the course of time, and anyone who has noticed verses of the same genre can add a comment pointing me in that direction.

Anyway, the comment about Radha-vallabha and Sphuṭa-vāṇī made in the previous post shows that PS (Prabodhananda Saraswati)/HHV (Hita Harivamsa), i.e., the author of Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (RRSN), makes a distinction between Radha worship and worship of Krishna, Radha's lover. This point is made in VM as follows:

dhanyo loke mumukṣur hari-bhajana-paro
dhanya-dhanyas tato’sau
dhanyo yaḥ kṛṣṇa-pādāmbuja-rati-paramo
rukmiṇīśa-priyo’taḥ |
yāśodeya-priyo’taḥ subala-suhṛd ato
gopa-kāntā-priyo’taḥ
śrīmad-vṛndāvaneśvary-atirasa-vivaśā-
rādhakaḥ sarva-mūrdhni ||

Glorious are those persons who desire to climb out of the well of material existence and attain liberation; even more glorious are those who have dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord. More elevated again are those who have become attached to Sri Krishna’s lotus feet. Those who love the husband of the Queen Rukmini are superior again to such devotees, while more praiseworthy still are those who are dear to the son of Yashoda. More glorious again are those who have made friends with Subala’s comrade. Superior to those in the mood of friendship are those who worship the Lord as the lover of the gopis. Yet standing at the head of all devotees in the creation are those whose thoughts have been washed away by the flood of sacred rapture emanating from the daughter of King Vrishabhanu, Radha, and worship her above all. (2.34, Translation taken from Mañjarī-svarūpa-nirūpaṇam)

The obvious comparison is to the Upadeśāmṛta by Rupa Goswami, but note the difference--

karmibhyaḥ parito hareḥ priyatayā vyaktiṁ yayur jnāninas
tebhyo jnāna-vimukta-bhakti-paramāḥ premaika-niṣṭhās tataḥ |
tebhyas tāḥ paśupāla-paìkaja-drśas tābhyo'pi sā rādhikā
preṣṭhā tadvad iyaṁ tadīya-sarasī tāṁ nāśrayet kaḥ kṛtī ||

Clearly the jnanis are dearer to the Lord than the karmis, and dearer still are those who place devotion, completely void of the search for knowledge and liberation, above all else. Better again are those who are fixed in prema, and better than they are the lotus-eyed cowherd beauties of Vraja. Dearer to Krishna than all these is Radha, the dearest of all; and her pond, Radha Kund, is just as dear. So what pious person will not take shelter there? (10)

The point being that the emphasis in the VM verse is that Radha is the worshipable object and that Rādhā-dāsya is above all, independent of Krishna. Although Prabodhananda situates Rādhā-dāsya in the sequence of Krishna bhakti, he does a jump from Krishna to Radha in the last line. Rupa Goswami maintains the position of Radha as a devotee and dear to Krishna to the very end, though he intimates that taking shelter of Radha is the superior option for a sadhaka. The difference is one of nuance, but it is an important nuance to the Radha-vallabhis. The Gaudiyas, though not always explicit about it, practically follow the Radha-vallabhi siddhanta, but they express it in terms of bhāvollāsa-rati, which means having devotion for a devotee (suhṛd-rati) within the framework of Krishna devotion.

Of course, as PS's verse shows, you cannot separate Radha-tattva from Krishna-tattva. No matter how hard you try, it comes back to the historical fact that Radha-tattva comes out of gopi-tattva. And gopi-tattva develops out of the metaphor of the jiva's love for God, i.e., devotion. Radha is, and always will be, the svarūpa-śakti, the personification of the essence of love for the supreme object of love. Put another way, she is the samaṣṭi (macrocosmic) form of love for God, which the jivas must participate in in order to enter the divine world, which is created out of that essence. The jivas can at best experience a fragment of that prema but, through devotion to Radha, can become entirely drenched in it, soaked it in, inundated by it.

Whatever the ramifications of that in terms of lila, or appreciation on the part of most fortunate devotees (suhṛd-rati), that cannot change. If you cannot replace Radha-Krishna by Krishna alone, you certainly cannot replace them by Radha alone, no matter how you cut the metaphorical cake.

Just to add what might be considered a verse that goes somewhere in between the above two is the following PS verse from Caitanya-candrāmṛta--

kecid dāsyam avāpur uddhava-mukhāḥ
ślāghyaṁ pare lebhire
śrīdāmādi-padaṁ vrajāmbuja-dṛśāṁ
bhāvaṁ ca bhejuḥ pare |
anye dhanyatamā dhayanti madhuraṁ
rādhā-rasāmbhoruhaṁ
śrī-caitanya-mahāprabhoḥ karuṇayā
lokasya kāḥ sampadaḥ ||

Some headed by Uddhava, attained the mood of service, others achieved the praiseworthy position like that of Sridama; others attained the mood of the lotus-eyed damsels of Vraja. Others, most fortunate of all, came to drink the sweet lotus of Radha rasa. What wealth did the world not attain through Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy? (113)



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to follow your line of thought. How can you say that Radha-tattva springs from a metaphor, and in the very next sentence say she is eternally the svarup-shakti?

Jagat said...

Excellent question. Remember a few days ago I wrote that God communicates through symbols? This is how.

Revelation does not necessarily come in full all at once. When revelation comes as symbol, this is a form from which inexhaustible meaning keeps coming forth, like a spring in the mountains.

The eternal truth of Radha was revealed gradually over the course of history. So if you study a little of the history of Radha in myth and legend, you will see how that idea developed.

But you should not think that because these are myths, they are false. They are revelations in another form. Their potency comes from the message they carry and their truth is encountered through bhajan.

In fact, the symbol is more important than the myths or stories. The meanings revealed through the symbol are more important than the details of the story. All the various significances of Radha-tattva are more important than any literal or historical truth. And it is a good idea to remember that the next time you want to hit someone over the head with any fundamentalism.

In general, truths about God are revealed by God to individuals on a case by case basis, not wholesale.

Anonymous said...

In general, truths about God are revealed by God to individuals on a case by case basis, not wholesale

What BS, God plays hide and seek with the humans he created, why doesn't he drop all this hiding and come out and help the world he created?

Anonymous said...

No, it's a matter of being able to comprehend, to realise. This is very far away from us, and very different, much further than anything achieved by jnana.

Further than that, the reason for the situation is incomprehensible to us.

When you say "come and help the world", that is the material level, the level constrained by time and space as we perceive it. The transcendental realm is something else.

It is incomprehensible because even as eternal entities, we are still nothing more than tiny sparks. More realisation of this leads to more surrender, less attachment to this situation. Whereas the pious karmi tries to improve this situation.