sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year 6, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 25 December 2013
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Śrī Prema-vivarta – Love Reversed
by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Śrī Gaurāṅga’s intimate associate, Śrī Jagadānanda Paṇḍita, writes in his book, Śrī Prema-vivarta, “pīriti boliyā tina-ṭi āṅkhara, vidita bhuvana-mājhe – the three letters pī, ri, ti are of universal renown.” In other words, these three letters are the essence of everything. We often hear, “ḍāi akṣara prema-kā paḍe, so paṇḍita hoi – anyone who has realized the two and a half letters ‘p-re, ma’ is a true scholar.” Within the three letters pī, ri, ti lies the essence of the Vedas and Upaniṣads, especially Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and the books of the Gosvāmīs.
Real Love is Never Expressed
Śrī Jagadānanda Paṇḍita has written that one who is truly in love will never tell their beloved, “Oh, I love you.” Will he say that? Never! He will conceal his love. Would he open his heart to his beloved and directly explain the extent of his love? To do so would not be true love, or pīriti, but rather mundane, worldly love. One who is truly in love will never reveal it openly. For example, Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa surpasses all others, yet She never openly expresses Her love for Him. Instead, She says:
na prema-gandho ’sti darāpi me harau
krandāmi saubhāgya-bharaṁ prakāśitum
bibharmi yat prāṇa-pataṅgakān vṛthā
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 2.45)
I have not even a scent of love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. I am crying simply to flaunt whatever fortune I once obtained. If I truly loved Him, how could I endure this useless life bereft of the sight of His lotus face as He sports with His flute?
Śrīmatī Rādhikā is sobbing, “Alas! I have not even the slightest trace of love for the worshipful feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.” She is writhing in utter anxiety and crying, “The aboriginal girls of Śrī Govardhana worship the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa with profuse love. The she-deer roaming in the Vṛndāvana forest and even the clouds in the sky, have immense love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The river Yamunā has so much love for Him that she embraces His form with her rippling waves on the pretext of bowing at His lotus feet. Alas, I have no such prema.” These are the moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Śrīman Mahāprabhu would become absorbed in Her moods and, weeping bitterly, he would speak in this way.
Just see! Although such love is never expressed, Śrī Jagadānanda has revealed his heart and has described Mahāprabhu’s love.
Those truly in love – transcendental love – never say, “I love you.” Only worldly people with mundane love (jaḍa-prema) speak so openly. Such love is not true love (prema); it is lust (kāma). We must transcend this level of love, and learn to conceal our prema to protect it from contamination.
Everything Śrī Jagadānanda is writing about concerns prema-vivarta, the reversed movements of love. An ordinary person can never understand this prema-vivarta; only devotees can understand it. The word āvartana means “to move” or “to turn”; so vivarta means viśeṣa-āvarta, “a movement that is reversed in a unique manner”. It is the state of love when it turns against its natural flow.
This was portrayed when Śrīman Mahāprabhu departed from Purī to go to Vṛndāvana, leaving Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita behind. At that time, Śrī Gadādhara told Him, “Of what use is my kṣetra-sannyāsa*? I only took kṣetra-sannyāsa to be with You; it was not for any purpose of my own. I do not want it!” These contrary emotions were thus churning his heart.
* When a person vows to renounce the world by remaining in one holy place for his entire life, it is called kṣetra-sannyāsa.
We see another example of this in Śrī Jagadānanda himself. He has written, “I left Śrīman Mahāprabhu, with His permission, and set off for Vṛndāvana. Alas, who could be more insane? Why did I take His leave?” Śrī Jagadānanda initially left for Vṛndāvana, but ended up in Navadvīpa, which is the real Vṛndāvana, concealed. Śrī Jagadānanda was living very closely with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but he never stood before Him to say, “I love you!” In turn, Śrīman Mahāprabhu treated him the same way:
After carefully preparing excellent sandalwood oil, Śrī Jagadānanda underwent great trouble to bring it from Bengal for Mahāprabhu, but Mahāprabhu simply told Govinda to use it in the lamps offered to Śrī Jagannātha in the temple.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu loves all of His associates. Was Choṭā Haridāsa not His associate? Did Mahāprabhu not have affection for him? According to outsiders, He rejected him, but later He was so anxious to see him that He would inquire, “Oh, what happened to Choṭā Haridāsa?” When someone finally informed Him that Choṭā Haridāsa had committed suicide in Prayāga, He simply remarked, “Oh well, good.” But then, as a Gāndharva, that same Haridāsa would secretly come and sing for Mahāprabhu. He had not rejected him after all.
To the eyes of outsiders, Śrī Rāmacandra banished Śrī Sītā-devī, but did He really reject her? There is no question of Him rejecting her; she is not someone to reject! If you have true love (prema) for someone, you can never leave them. Lust can easily be abandoned, but no one can possibly abandon aprākṛta prema, true spiritual love. Could Śrī Rāma leave Sītā? Could she leave Him? He simply staged her exile and then He waited for Her in Their spiritual abode.
Once, Śrī Yaśodā bound Śrī Kṛṣṇa to a grinding mortar. Sometimes she brandishes a stick at Him, chastises Him and threatens to punish Him. Sometimes she even slaps Him and twists His ear. What is this? Is this prema? It is prema-vivarta, the reversed movements of love. What can be truly understood from an external perspective?
If another person sees us chastising our child, they will think we are very cruel and they will assume that we have no love for our child. But our chastisement is in fact an example of prema-vivarta. Prema is thus extremely difficult to understand. As Śrī Yaśodā sometimes threatens Kṛṣṇa with a stick or twists His ear, Śrī Śacī-maiyā also chastises Gaurahari and sometimes, she punishes Him by keeping Him home from school.
Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra left Vṛndāvana and went to Mathurā and then Dvārakā. In the eyes of all, this act was extremely cruel. The gopīs were writhing in the pain of separation from Him. They were dying as they wept and cried out to Him. Even Uddhava could not bear this sight. “How could Śrī Kṛṣṇa be so cruel?” He thought. “How could He have left this place? How could He leave those who are crying for Him?” But in truth, Kṛṣṇa did not leave, and neither Śrī Rādhā nor Śrī Kṛṣṇa ever forgot each other. This is an example of mādana-bhāva, the paramount expression of prema, manifested solely in the meeting of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
According to the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrī Kṛṣṇa left Vraja and never again returned to meet the Vrajavāsīs. This is prema-vivarta, love reversed; it is beyond the understanding of the ordinary man.
Thus prema, true love, is completely incomprehensible. And as stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.14.5) it is especially unique and rare in this world:
muktānāṁ api siddhānāṁ
kotiṣv api mahā-mune
O illustrious sage, among millions of liberated, perfected souls one may be a devotee of Śrī Nārāyaṇa. Such peaceful devotees are extremely rare.
We understand that this verse refers to one with prema-bhakti. Among thousands and even millions of such devotees, a single vraja-bhakta who is developing the moods of the gopīs, is extremely rare.
Beyond Mundane Limitation
Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s dear Jagā, Śrī Jagadānanda, says:
caṇḍī-dāsa, vidyāpati, karṇāmṛta, rāyera gīti
e-saba amūlya śāstra jana
e-sabe nāhika kāma, e-saba premera dhāma
aprākṛta tāhāte vidhāna
Śrī Prema-vivarta (16.12)
One should know all these invaluable scriptures: the songs of Caṇḍīdāsa and Vidyāpati, Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura’s Śrī Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, and Śrī Rāyā Rāmānanda’s Śrī Jagannātha-vallabha-nāṭaka and his many songs. No lust contaminates these scriptures which are abodes of immaculate prema and are of the nature of transcendence.
The words rāyera gīti refer to Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda’s many songs, one of which is as follows:
pahilehi rāga nayana-bhaṅge bhela
anudina bāḍhala, avadhi nā gela
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 8.194)
At first, we grew attached to each other through exchanges of shy glances. That attachment grew day by day, and never found an end.
Śrī Jagadānanda Paṇḍita has written, “strī-puruṣa-vivaraṇa, je kichu taṅhi varṇana, se-saba upamā-mātra sāra – Any description about ordinary men and women that may be found in these books is simply a comparison made for the sake of explanation.” Lusty people, however, will assume that these descriptions concern ordinary men and women.
The transcendental moods of Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa cannot be described in mundane language, which is crippled by its errors, boundaries, and limitations. The mundane is bound by limitations. For example, who can understand Draupadī’s relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa? She is the wife of Arjuna and his brothers, who are all Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s very dear friends and He is theirs. But Draupadī, their wife, also addresses Kṛṣṇa as her sakhā, her dear, intimate friend, and He in turn addresses her as His sakhī. Why and how can He interact with her in this way? In the eyes of the world, this is extremely difficult to reconcile. Naturally, she sees the Pāṇḍavas as her husbands, yet she sees Śrī Kṛṣṇa as her beloved. This is impossible and unacceptable from a worldly perspective.
Also, Kunti-devī as Kṛṣṇa’s aunt is a mother to Him. But what are her feelings for Him? Who is Kṛṣṇa to her? Externally, she nurtures motherly affection (vātsalya-bhāva) for Him, but internally she experiences something quite different – she loves Him as her prāṇa-vallabha, the beloved of her life.
In what way is Uttarā, Parikṣit Mahārāja’s mother, related to Śrī Kṛṣṇa? He was her father-in-law’s brother-in-law and cousin.* By age, she could be Kṛṣṇa’s grand-daughter. But her own son, Parikṣit Mahārāja, is instruct-ing her to maintain her present, external relationship with Kṛṣṇa yet to feel that He is her beloved. This is impossible in this world. Moreover, even though Parikṣit Mahārāja is a man, he also regards Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the beloved of his life! Anyone, man or woman, who chants the śrī gopāla-mantra (worshipping Śrī Kṛṣṇa as gopī-jana-vallabha) longs for the love that Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the gopīs nurture for Him. That love is pīriti, true love. Nowhere else can such love be found in its entirety.
* Because Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s younger sister was Uttarā’s mother-in-law, He was like her uncle.
The fullest expression of true love is seen in Śrīmatī Rādhikā. In comparison, Śrī Kṛṣṇa experiences only a fraction of such love. His love touches mahābhāva, but it cannot go beyond that. No matter how high His love extends, it cannot even reach the same level as Śrī Lalitā’s and Śrī Viśākhā’s love, which touch ruḍa and adhiruḍa, the highest states of mahābhava. Śrī Kṛṣṇa has no such love. In the higher stages of prema, from anurāga and up, the moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā are predominant, not the moods of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Our Gosvāmīs describe these exalted and complex moods, which are beyond the understanding of the gene-ral people. These topics are essential for those who wish to do bhajana but they are not suitable for anyone else.
Prema Cannot be Described
From the summit of prema, the stages of mahābhāva, modana and mādana, to its smallest particle – śraddhā (faith) – all are entirely transcendental. They are all elements (aṁśas) of that immaculate love. Pāramārthika śraddhā, true transcendental faith, is to be regarded as fully spiritual. The awakening of this śraddhā begins the sādhaka’s spiritual journey. And his outer and inner behaviour will develop accordingly. We must clearly understand that it is not something mundane. Although it is the smallest fraction of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s prema, it is nevertheless a particle of full cognizance, eternal existence, and pure joy (sat-cit-ānanda). It manifests in two ways: as external symptoms (taṭastha-lakṣaṇa) and as inner emotions (svarūpa-lakṣaṇa). We can describe the outer symptoms of that śraddhā to some extent, but no one can express its inner, constitutional characteristics.
We can recognize the presence of true love from the ecstatic symptoms that appear as the outward expressions of various bhāvas, or moods. These include thirteen anubhāvas (such as dancing, singing and hiccupping), thirty-three vyabhicārī-bhāvas (such as madness, jubilation and eagerness), and especially eight sāttvika-bhāvas (such as crying, horripilation and faltering of the voice).*
* Complete lists can be found in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu-bindu and the third division of Jaiva-dharmaconcerning rasa-tattva.
For example, we may see someone crying, “Alas! O Kṛṣṇa!” He may be fainting, trembling, or experiencing other transformations of ecstasy. We may be able to differentiate between the different intensities of those transformations: dhumāyita (smoldering), jvalita(burning), dīpta (blazing), uddīpta (raging), and sudīpta (blazing in all brilliance). According to various symptoms we may be able to discern the different levels of love in the devotees, we may be able to detect the presence of some true love, but in other cases what we perceive may not be love; it may merely be a show. Thus, based on external symptoms, we cannot confidently ascertain the degree of someone’s love.
On the other hand, when Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was hearing Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī’s heart-rending recitation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, he experienced many sāttvika-bhāvas, as did everyone else listening. One person was foaming at the mouth, another was weeping profusely, while someone else was crying out in anguish. Yet in Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, the sāttvika-bhāvas did not manifest externally. He just sat there quietly. It amazed some devotees that he appeared to be unaffected. But, internally, what had actually happened? There was no knowing whether he was dead or alive for he had exceeded the limits of sāttvika-bhāva. It is extremely difficult to discern the svarūpa-lakṣaṇa of prema, or even of any of its elements such as śraddhā.
Prema is defined as follows:
samyaṅ-masṛṇita-svānto mamatvā tiśayāṅkitaḥ
bhāvaḥ sa eva sāndrātmā budhaiḥ premā nigadyate
Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.4.1)
When bhāva completely melts the heart, it creates deep possessiveness for Śrī Kṛṣṇa and becomes greatly intensified. According to the learned, this signifies the appearance of prema.
How can anyone describe this intense mamatā (possessive attachment)? Who can state the extent of a person’s mamatā, or what he experiences internally? One may observe another’s outer symptoms of prema and try to describe them, without much success. If even the external symptoms of prema cannot be described, then what can be said of a love so profound that it becomes prema-vivarta?
The intrinsic nature of prema is most difficult to portray. Even the scriptures fail to describe it, and simply define it as possessive attachment to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Only Śrī Kṛṣṇa is eternally the object of such attachment. No one else, including Śrīmatī Rādhikā or any other gopī, is ever described as its object. Nevertheless, overwhelmed by prema-vivarta Śrī Kṛṣṇa expresses this same mamatā for Śrīmatī Rādhikā. That is prema-vivarta.
Śrī Jagadānanda Paṇḍita writes:
kṛṣṇa-prema su-nirmala, jena śuddha gaṅgā-jala,
sei premā amṛtera sindhu
nirmala se anurāga, nāhi tāhe jaḍa-dāga
Śrī Prema-vivarta (16.15)
Śrī kṛṣṇa-prema is immaculate like the pure waters of the Gaṅgā, and is an ocean of nectar. That anurāga is uncontaminated and untainted by mundanity; it is like a spotless white cloth.
True Faith Never Ceases
What to speak of one with prema, even a person in whom firm transcendental faith (pāramārthika śraddhā) has arisen says, “khaṇḍa khaṇḍa hoya deha jāya yadi prāṇa, tabu āmi vadane nā chāḍi harināma – My body may be cut to pieces and my life extracted from my body, but I will never stop chanting harināma.” This is an expression of pure, spiritual emotion.
On the other hand, we see that many who have taken dīkṣā and sannyāsa initiation and who have been chanting for twenty-five years, and even preaching all over the world, leave their so-called prema to enjoy with a woman. To please her, they even stoop to eating onions, garlic, meat and fish. Thus they become entangled in worldly life. They give up chanting harināma and consequently abandon their very relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. What kind of śraddhā did they have? Was it real? If one’s śraddhā is really transcendental it can never vanish. Thus, there is a great difference between true, spiritual faith (pāramārthika-śraddhā) and ordinary, mundane faith (laukika-śraddhā).
True faith can only be achieved by contact with śuddha-bhaktas. In other words, by their grace, and by the mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which is always dependent on their grace, we may attain the company of sādhus. Otherwise, without that mercy, as it is said, “saṁsāra bhramite kono sādhu-saṅga nāi – we can search the entire universe, but we will never find any sādhu-saṅga.” Thus, by sādhu-saṅga we can attain true śraddhā and eventually all perfection.
On the other hand, there are those who develop simple, mundane faith by indiscriminate hearing. They have no steady faith in their guru and they feel no desire to serve him. Their faith in bhakti is flickering day and night like a candle-flame. Do such people have pāramārthika-śraddhā? Certainly not. When pāramārthika-śraddhā appears, it remains fixed and steady forever. That śraddhā soon develops into niṣṭhā, complete steadiness. Ordinary faith (laukika śraddhā) can never mature into niṣṭhā even if a person takes sannyāsa or endeavours in various ways for a million births.
Understanding Through Bhajana
Do Śrīmatī Rādhikā, Lalitā, Viśākhā and the other gopīs ever think that their prema for Śrī Kṛṣṇa is greater than Śrī Yaśodā’s? Does this thought ever cross their minds? Never!
And yet, does Śrī Yaśodā know that Kṛṣṇa finds more satisfaction in the gopīs’ love for Him? Yes, that is why she always provides opportunities for them to serve Him. Her heart is so soft and magnanimous.
We can never grasp these conceptions with our mundane understanding. These moods will only come by performing bhajana under the guidance of Vaiṣṇavas. It is therefore stated:
smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram
Śrī Upadeśāmṛta (8)
You should utilize every moment by sequentially engaging your speech and mind in meticulously chanting and remembering Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s names, form, qualities and pastimes while residing in Vraja under the guidance of the Vrajavāsīs, who have spontaneous love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This is the essence of all instruction.
This process is the only way to understand prema. However, true realization of this topic ultimately depends on our spiritual practice (sādhana). Therefore, Śrī Jagadānanda wrote, “nirmala se anurāga, nāhi tā’he jaḍa-dāga – that intense love is immaculate; it has not the slightest taint of mundanity.”
Immersed in Anurāga
How can anurāga be defined? Each and every one of these terms has been coined with such precision after carefully examining and weighing their import that nothing can replace them. What word could possibly replace anurāga? English has no equivalent for anurāga. The word “love” lacks specificity. It is universally used for any and every expression of affection.
We must try to understand the import of anurāga in at least a general manner. With whatever little understanding I have, I will try to explain what I have gathered from Jaiva-Dharma and other places.
Prema is when there is every reason for love to cease, yet it only increases. Whenprema swells, it completely melts the heart and becomes sneha, which is also of many varieties. When that sneha fully ripens and is thus enhanced, it becomes māna. Māna then evolves into a state called praṇaya, which may also appear prior to māna. Then comes rāga, a state in which the viṣaya and āśraya are perpetually colouring the love of Their hearts in newer and newer ways.
For example, when dying a cloth red, it is submerged again and again in the dye, and each time it emerges with a deeper colour. In the same way, the āśraya’s heart is forever enriched in a single mood. This is rāga; it will increase beyond all control until it reaches the utmost limit of āśraya-prema.
Prema exists in two forms – as the loved (viṣaya) and as the lover (āśraya).viṣaya relishes love, cherishing it within His heart, while the āśraya relishes love by serving Him. When classifying these two aspects of love, all of our scriptures, especially those written by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, state that although Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the undivided ocean of all prema (akhila-rasāmṛta-sindhu) Himself, He also relishes that prema as the viṣaya by tasting the five primary moods of love, śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya,mādhurya, as well as the seven secondary varieties, hāsya, adbhuta, vīra, karuṇa, raudra,bhayānaka, and bibhatsa.
And who is the āśraya, or lover? All the devotees with these five primary moods are the āśraya, among whom the gopīs are the most exalted. And among even them, Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s eight sakhīs, or intimate friends, are foremost. But Śrīmatī Rādhikā Herself is the most exalted. The āśraya-jātīya prema in Her heart surpasses the prema in the hearts of all others. When Her love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the object of prema (viṣaya), reaches its utmost limits, it attains a state known as sva-samvedya.
In other words, when the lovers, the gopīs headed by Śrīmatī Rādhikā, become totally immersed in serving, remembering, and meditating on Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then they completely forget themselves. They forget who is relishing love and who is giving love. They even forget to perform their services. That love and the joy it creates is all that remains in their hearts, nothing else. Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya has written, “nā so ramaṇa, nā hāma ramaṇī, duṅhu mana manobhava peśala jāni – He is no longer the enjoyer, nor I the enjoyed. Our minds have merged together in our mutual love.” In this state, Śrīmatī Rādhikā knows no difference between Herself and Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
When the gopīs were writhing in separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa after He disappeared from the rāsa, their prema reached such a height that they forgot their own identities as gopīs. In their madness, they thought themselves to be Kṛṣṇa and began enacting His pastimes.
Similarly, as Śrīmatī Rādhikā serves Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the state of sva-samvedya She is conscious of only Her own delight. She forgets that She is meant to serve Him and in that state, even if She continues to serve Him, She forgets that She is doing so. She revels solely in the delight of Her own feeling. This is sva-samvedya-daśā. Sva means “personally” or “own”; therefore, only one who has love can understand this topic. Lalitā, Viśākhā and even Śrī Kṛṣṇa cannot realize these feelings of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. To do so, Śrī Kṛṣṇa must come as Śrīman Mahāprabhu because this sva-samvedya-daśā is exclusively experienced by Śrīmatī Rādhikā.
True Love is for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa
Try to understand all these topics, especially the astonishing glory of this prema. First we should strive to attain true śraddhā, true niṣṭhā, and then true ruci. Then gradually, by the mercy of Bhagavān and the Vaiṣṇavas, we may begin to understand these topics. If a person does not develop any qualification, and is simply awarded the name of a gopī, as can be so cheaply done in Rādhā-kuṇḍa, he will attain no substantial advancement.
In truth, no one in this world has true love for anyone else. For whom can a person develop real love? It is only possible to develop prīti (true love) for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and those who have this prīti will nurture feelings of service to Them. As Śrī Jagadānanda said, “nāhi tāhe jaḍā-dāga”. That service will be untainted by anything mundane.
CC-BY-SA Rays of The Harmonist No.17 Kārttika 2007.