Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
October 7, 2006
[Today is the divine disappearance day of Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. In his morning class, Srila Narayana Maharaja said that his Gurudeva has composed the deep, transcendental poetries, "Sri Radha-Vinodabihari Astakam" and "Sri Mangala Arati." Srila Narayana Maharaja commented on the eight-stanza poem in the biography he wrote about his Gurudeva, called "Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja - His Life and Teachings". Therefore, in his honor, we are posting (below) this excerpt from the book:]
Sri Sri Radha-Vinodabihariji are the presiding Deities in Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha. When They were installed, some Vaisnavas were curious to know why both the Deities have the same colour, and they respectfully asked Srila acarya Kesari, "In our Gaudiya Sampradaya and elsewhere, Srimati Radhika's vigraha is made of white marble and Sri Krsna's vigraha is made of black marble. How is it that both the vigrahas which you have manifested are of white marble?" Srila acaryadeva answered this question in a beautiful and unprecedented way by composing Sri Sri Radha-Vinodabihari-tattvastakam. In the pitcher of this tattvastakam, Paramaradhya Srila Gurudeva has wonderfully manifested the fathomless ocean of Sri Radha tattva, Sri Krsna tattva, prema-tattva, rasa-tattva and the topmost rupanuga current of thought. We will try to reveal something of his bhavas (moods) in the following explanation, using sakha-candra nyaya, the logic of the branch and the moon. *[See endnote 1]
Sri Sri Radha-Vinodabihari Tattvastakam
radha-cinta-nivesena yasya kantir vilopita
sri krsna caranam vande radhalingita-vigraham
"We pray at the lotus feet of that form of Radhalingita-Radhacihnita Sri Krsna, who is embraced and marked by Sri Radhika. When Srimati Radhika, the personification of mahabhava, displayed mana (Her mood of jealous anger), and He became thoroughly immersed in separation from Her, His own dark complexion vanished and He assumed Her bright, golden luster."
Or, "We pray at the lotus feet of Sri Krsna who is beautified by Srimati Radhika's golden luster when She embraces Him, after Her mana has broken."
(The commentary which illuminates the philosophical principles)
In this verse the word 'Radhalingita' has two meanings. The first is 'Radha-lingita': 'marked by Sri Radha.' The second meaning is 'radhaya-alingita': 'embraced by Srimati Radhika.' When Srimati Radhika exhibits mana, and dhira-lalita nayaka Sri Krsna becomes completely absorbed in feelings of separation from Her, His natural, bluish radiant luster disappears and He helplessly accepts Srimati Radhika's golden luster. In other words, His own luster becomes golden. He does not have to perform even the slightest endeavor for this; it happens automatically. It is like the strong bhrngi insect forcefully arresting the weak telacatta insect and confining it in its cave. When the weak insect hears the strange sound made by the bhrngi, it becomes afraid. Contemplating the form of the bhrngi, out of fear it assumes a bodily form exactly like that of the bhrngi insect.
We can also give the example of Maharaja Bharataji, who was thinking of a fawn at the time of his death and so accepted the body of a deer in his next life. In the same way, Sri Krsna takes on Srimati Radhika's golden luster as He becomes more and more absorbed in thoughts of Her.
One such incident is described in a conversation between Varaha-deva and Dharani in Varaha-samhita. Sri Varaha-deva told Dharani, "In Vrndavana there is a very big banyan tree on the bank of Yamuna, and its branches and sub-branches spread far and wide in all directions. Many different types of birds are always chirping on its branches. Surrounding the root of this tree is a beautiful raised platform on which Sri Sri Radha-Krsna enjoy delightful pastimes. Once Sri Krsna was relishing His rasa-lila pastimes with His sakhis on the bank of the Yamuna. Crores of gopis were dancing with Him and, He began to dance with the gopis one after another, absorbed in ecstatic love, sometimes embracing one and sometimes another. Krsna enjoyed loving pastimes in many different ways, sometimes with Srimati Radhika and sometimes with others.
"At this time, Srimati Radhika observed that Krsna was dancing with other gopis as He was with Her, and embracing them in the same way that He embraced Her. Not seeing any recognition of Her superiority over the other gopis, She became angry with Krsna. She immediately left the rasa-sthali and hid Herself in a nearby kunja. After a short time, Krsna noticed Srimati Radhika's absence and became restless. 'She for whom I perform this rasa-vilasa, who is dearer to Me than My very life, has left Me,' He thought, 'Where did She go?'
"Dancing and dallying with millions and millions of gopis could not capture Krsna's heart even for a moment. Afflicted with separation from Srimati Radhika, He left the dancing group at once and began to search in one kunja after another, calling out, 'He Radhe! Where are you?' As He searched and searched for Srimati Radhika, the crown jewel of all His beloved sakhis, He arrived at the bank of Kalindi. By now He had already become tired and hopeless from repeatedly searching for Her, so there on the bank of Kalindi, under the shade of a tamarind tree in a charming kunja, He began chanting the mantra of Radha-nama in deep anxiety. Sometimes he would call out in a melancholy way, 'Pranesvari! Alas! O Queen of My heart! You have left Me aside. Where have You gone?'
This is the first meaning of the word Radha-lingita.
Remembering this pastime, Sri Gaurasundara used to go to Imlitala, the place of that particular tamarind tree. Overwhelmed with excessive emotions, He used to chant nama-sankirtana, weeping bitterly. In the afternoon He would go to beg alms in a village near Akrura-ghata. It seems that Sri Gaurasundara came to Vraja-dhama from Nilacala only to attain and strengthen His Radha bhava, because without Radha bhava He would never fulfill His three desires.
Srila Rupa Gosvami, the crest-jewel of the dynasty of rasika Vaisnavas, wrote the verse 'harih purata-sundara-dyuti kadamba sandipitah.' Here he indicates the form of Hari which is effulgent with the radiance of gold, meaning the form of Krsna which is radiant with Radha's golden splendor when He is deeply absorbed in thoughts of Her. Sri Svarupa Damodara, who is an intimate associate of Sri Gaurasundara and is also the rasa-sastra guru, has indicated the same mood in his kadaca (notebook), Radha-bhava dyuti suvalitam naumi krsna svarupam: "I offer my obeisances again and again to that Krsna who is resplendent with the luster and intrinsic mood of Srimati Radhika."
Now we will discuss the second meaning of the word Radha-lingita. Here the poet offers prayers to Sri Krsna when He is embraced by His beloved Sri Radhika, who has assumed the mood of svadhina-bhartrka-nayika (happily controlling Her lover) after Her mana has broken. Seeing Krsna bewildered in separation from Her, Srimati Radhika's heart also became aggrieved. Her impatience and sulkiness immediately disappeared and She bound Krsna in the ropes of Her embrace. Krsna then became content and all His grief and sorrows went far away. Sri Raya Ramananda refers to this in his dialogue with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:
na so ramana, na hama ramani
dunhu-mana manobhava pesala jani'
e sakhi, se-saba prema-kahini
kanu-thame kahabi vichurala jani'
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 8.194)
In the madness of love in separation, virahini Srimati Radhika says, "Our prema attained its ultimate climax in just the briefest blink of an eye. We have met each other in such a way that We have become one; I have even forgotten that I am the beloved and You are My lover. Now I am separated from You, and this loving vilasa has become like a mere story. Is this the path that virtuous men follow in their pursuit of love?"
This poem has disclosed the ultimate stage of milana (meeting), in which Krsna is completely embraced by Radhika. Soon after this Raya Ramananda said to Sri Gaurasundara,
pahile dekhilun tomara sannyasi-svarupa
ebe toma dekhi muni syama-gopa-rupa
tomara sammukhe dekhi kancana-pancalika
tanra gaura-kantye tomara sarva anga dhaka
tahate prakata dekhon sa-vamsi vadana
nana bhave cancala tahe kamala-nayana
ei-mata toma dekhi' haya camatkara
akapate kaha, prabhu, karana ihara
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 8.268 - 271)
A doubt arose in Raya Ramananda Prabhu's heart and he enquired from Sriman Mahaprabhu, "Earlier I saw You in the dress of a sannyasi, but now I see You in the form of a bluish cowherd boy. At the same time I am witnessing another most uncommon phenomenon. It is as if a wonderful and beautiful doll (the murti of a gopi) is standing in front of You, covering all the limbs of Your body with Her golden luster. I am directly perceiving that in that form You are holding a flute to Your lips, and Your lotus eyes are dancing here and there, displaying a mood of deep hankering. Please be merciful to me and tell me without duplicity what is the reason for Your manifesting such a form."
The deep and confidential purport of these four verses is that Krsna's radiant bluish luster is covered by Srimati Radhika's radiant golden luster, because each limb of Sri Krsna's body is embraced by each limb of Srimati Radhika's body. The body of Sri Krsna who carries the flute remains unchanged; only His luster becomes golden. It is this very form of Sri Krsna, who is embraced by Srimati Radhika, which is worshipped in all the temples of our Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti.
This profoundly philosophical prayer, which is endowed with the most exalted sentiment, very clearly indicates its author's exclusive allegiance to Sri Rupa Gosvami's conceptions. To imbibe this elusive mood of the damsels of Vraja in our heart, we must first understand the principles of bhakti-tattva. Generally the practice (sadhana) and perfection (siddhi) of bhakti are divided into three categories: sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti and prema-bhakti. When sadhana-bhakti matures, the sadhaka is endowed with bhava-bhakti, and fully matured bhava-bhakti is known as prema-bhakti.
Sadhana-bhakti, which is performed during the sadhaka's stage of practice, has two divisions: vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti and raganuga-sadhana-bhakti. When the practice of bhakti bears the fruit of prema, there is still a corresponding subtle difference between prema arising from vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti and prema arising from raganuga-sadhana-bhakti. Prema which has developed from the performance of vaidhi-bhakti is imbued with reverence for Sri Bhagavan's opulence and is known as Vaikunthiya-prema. Prema which is obtained through the cultivation of raganuga-bhakti is completely free from even a scent of reverence and is known as pure sweet Vraja prema; the mood of the gopis is the most elevated stage of Vraja prema.
In order to comprehend raganuga-bhakti properly, it is essential that one first understands ragatmika-bhava. Raga is the unquenchable loving thirst arising from intense absorption in the object of one's affection, Sri Krsna. The deep and intense loving attachment which this raga produces is called ragatmika prema.
The distinctive and unique priti of the eternal inhabitants of Vraja - including cows, deer, parrots, animals, and birds - is called ragatmika-priti. This ragatmika-priti is of two types: sambandha-rupa and kama-rupa. The term 'kama-rupa' refers only to the affection of Krsna's beloved sweethearts, and the longing which follows in the wake of this kama-rupa rati is called kamanuga-bhakti. Kama-rupa ragatmika prema is also of two kinds: sambhoga-icchamayi and tat-tad-bhava-icchamayi. The rati of nayika's such as Srimati Radhika, Candravali, and Syamala, who desire to meet Krsna for His pleasure, is called sambhoga-icchamayi. Sakhis who have the rati which is called tat-tad-bhava-icchatmika do not desire to meet Krsna independently, but are keen to relish Srimati Radhika's sweet mood when She meets with Krsna.
There are five types of sakhis, known respectively as sakhi, nitya-sakhi, prana-sakhi, priya-sakhi, and priyanarma-sakhi. Sakhis who have equal sneha for Sri Radha and Krsna are known as sama-sneha, whereas those who display more sneha towards one or other of Them are called visama-sneha. Vrnda and Dhanistha are examples of sakhis; they are visama-sneha, having more affection for Sri Krsna. The nitya-sakhis, for example Kasturi-manjari and Mani-manjari, are also visama-sneha, but they have more affection for Srimati Radhika. The chief sakhis in this group are called prana-sakhis, of whom Sri Rupa-manjari is the foremost. Gopis such as Malati are priya-sakhis. They have sama-sneha (equal affection) for Radha and Krsna, but still show somewhat more favor towards Srimati Radhika. Among these priya-sakhis, the most dear and prominent such as Lalita and Visakha are called priya-narma sakhis or parama-prestha-sakhis. These nayikas are adorned with all good qualities, yet they feel more satisfied and content in arranging the meeting of the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. Sakhis such as Rupa, Rati and Lavanga, who are the chief among the nitya-sakhis and prana-sakhis, are devoted to the uninterrupted and unhesitating service of Srimati Radhika in secluded nikunjas. These sakhis do not have any desire to meet with Krsna separately, and feel completely satisfied when they relish the moods of Srimati Radhika in Her meeting with Him.
All the inhabitants of Vraja - including the gopas, gopis, cows, calves, animals and birds - are ragatmika. Sadhakas who follow the moods of these inhabitants of Vraja in order to attain their bhava are called raganuga. Amongst these raganuga sadhakas, only those who specifically follow the internal mood of Sri Rupa-manjari are Rupanuga. Thus, every rupanuga sadhaka is also a raganuga-sadhaka, but raganuga sadhakas are not necessarily rupanuga. Rupanuga sadhakas are those who with the external body follow the process of bhajana as shown by Srila Rupa Gosvami, and simultaneously with their internally conceived spiritual body (siddha-deha) follow the moods of Sri Rupa-manjari as she eternally serves Sri Radha-Krsna in Vraja. Only that sort of raganuga sadhaka is called a rupanuga Vaisnava. Rupanuga-vara Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami prays in his Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali:
tavaivasmi tavaivasmi na jivami tvaya vina
iti vijñaya devi tvam naya mam caranantikam
["He Devi Sri Radhike! I am yours! I am yours! I cannot live without You. Knowing this, please give me a place at Your lotus feet." (Vilapa-kusumanjali)]
padabjayos tava vina vara dasyam eva
nanyat kadapi samaye kila devi yace
sakhyaya te mama namo 'stu namo 'stu nityam
dasyaya te mama raso 'stu raso 'stu satyam
["He Devi Radhike! I never desire anything but the best loving service unto Your lotus feet. If You want to give me the position of a sakhi, then I offer my obeisances again and again to that position from a distance, but I do not actually want it. Taking a vow, I am begging only to have steadfast anuraga (loving attachment) in Your service." (Vilapa Kusmanjali)]
We also see the desire of Srila Narottama Thakura for Rupanugatya in the following prayer:
sri rupa manjari-pada, sei mora sampada,
sei mora bhajana-pujana
sei mora prana-dhana, sei mora abharana,
sei mora jivanera jivana
sei mora rasa-nidhi, sei mora vancha-siddhi,
sei mora vedera dharama
Sri Rupanuga acarya Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura submits the following plea in his lalasamayi prarthana (prayers of intense yearning):
sri rupa manjari sange yabo kabe
tad anuga ha'ye radha-kunda-tate
"When will Sri Rupa-manjari teach me how to perform service unto the transcendental mellows? Following her moods and instructions on the banks of Sri Radha-kunda, I will feel the greatest delight within my heart."
sri radhara sukhe, krsnera ye sukha
janiba manete ami
radha-pada chadi, sri-krsna-sangame
kabhu na haiba kami
radha paksa chadi, je jana se jana
je bhave se bhave thake
ami ta' radhika, paksa pati sada
kabhu nahi heri ta 'ke
"I will know that Radha's pleasure is Krsna's only source of joy. Therefore I will never desire to abandon Her lotus feet to meet Him. I am always in Radhika's party and I never even glance at those who have left Her group."
These moods are the life and soul of rupanuga Vaisnavas. My most revered Srila Gurupadapadma is a prominent rupanuga-acarya and his heartfelt sentiments are quite clearly manifest in this first verse of Sr iSri Radha-Vinodabihari-tattvastakam. His bhava is that Sri Krsna should be immersed in the remembrance of Radhaji, that He should search for Srimatiji, and that He should feel distressed in separation from Srimatiji. This verse expresses partiality towards Srimati Radhika and rupanugatva in the stages of both separation and union.
sevya-sevaka-sambhoge dvayo bedah kuto bhavet
vipralambhe tu sarvasya bhedah sada vivardhate
"Sri Krsna is sevya (He who always takes service from the sevaka) and bhokta (He who is always enjoying). Srimati Radhika is sevaka (She who always performs seva for sevya) and bhogya (She who is enjoyed). When They meet together and enjoy each other, how can there be any distinction between Them? At that time, bheda (distinction) vanishes and abheda (non-difference) is apparent. However, in the stage of vipralambha (separation), bheda perpetually becomes more intense."
At the time of union, no difference exists between sevya (one who is served) and sevaka (one who serves). Sri Nanda-nandana, who is the embodiment of Srngara-rasa (the mellow of amorous love), is the ultimate limit of sevya or bhokta-tattva and Srimati Radhika is the ultimate limit of sevaka-tattva or asraya-tattva. Their anuraga is known as sthayi-bhava. When this anuraga reaches its last limit it is known as yavadasrayavrtti. In that stage, Srimati Radhika's unprecedented anuraga for Krsna attains the level of svasamvedya-dasa, when the asta-sattvika bhavas (eight types of bodily transformations arising from suddha-sattva) manifest in the sudipta (blazing) condition. Only Sri Radha, Sri Krsna's special preyasi (beloved), attains this stage.
In this special situation, the sevya and sevaka both completely forget Their own identities. They also forget the distinctions, "He is the lover" and "I am the beloved." Their hearts melt and become one. In this stage it is not possible to conceive of or imagine any distinction between Them. However, in the stage of separation, They are both seen searching for each other in great distress. The dialogue between Raya Ramananda and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on the banks of the sacred river Godavari gives us insight into this glorious and unprecedented rasaraja-mahabhava.
na so ramana, na hama ramani
dunhu-mana manobhava pesala jani'
e sakhi, se-saba prema-kahini
kanu-thame kahabi vichurala jani'
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 8.194)
Sri Svarupa Damodara has also envisioned this profound and confidential bhava in his kadaca:
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
caitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam
["Srimati Radhika is Krsna's hladini-sakti (pleasure-giving potency) and the embodiment of the transformation of His pranaya (intimate love). Since They are ekatma-svarupa (one soul), She is intrinsically non-different from Krsna and is one in identity with Him. However, to enjoy the transcendental pleasure of Their loving pastimes, Radha and Krsna have eternally manifested Themselves in these two apparently separate forms. Now these two transcendental identities, sevya and sevaka, visaya-tattva and asraya-tattva, have manifested in one svarupa as Sri Caitanya tattva. I repeatedly bow down to Sacinandana, who is the svarupa of Krsna and who is adorned with the bhava and complexion of Srimati Radhika." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.5)]
In this verse, Sri Svarupa Damodaraji has used the word ekatma to establish that Sri Sri Radha and Krsna, sevaka-tattva and sevya-tattva, are not different from each other. Then he says, deha bhedam gatau tau to indicate the difference between the two tattvas. Param-rasika tattva acarya Srila Gurupadapadma has indicated these same profound and confidential sentiments in the second verse of his composition.
cil-lila-mithunam tattvam bhedabhedam acintyakam
sakti-saktimator aikyam yugapad vartate sada
"The eternal divine couple are the embodiments of the combined form of sakti and saktiman. To fulfil Their transcendental, pleasure-giving pastimes, They both become one in the stage of sambhoga (union) and yet simultaneously and inconceivably exist as different and non-different from each other. This means that para-tattva is never without sakti. Sakti and saktiman are eternally united together in that para-tattva. He is purusottama endowed with completely transcendental pastimes, the original Self in the conjugal form, the combined form of sakti and saktiman. That conjugal form is Sri Radha-Krsna as Gaura tattva. By the influence of acintya-sakti (inconceivable potency), the contrary principles of difference and non-difference simultaneously reside in Him eternally."
Sri Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna is the non-dual Absolute Truth advaya-jnana para-tattva. He is the embodiment of the nectar of all rasa and He possesses all potencies (sarva-saktiman). His natural internal potency is also one and is known as svarupa-sakti. By the desire of saktiman Sri Krsna, this singular potency manifests in various forms to accomplish different tasks. It expands itself in the form of cit-sakti to manifest cit-jagat (the spiritual world), as jiva-sakti to manifest all the jivas, and as maya-sakti to manifest the entire material creation. This potency also fulfils Krsna's various desires in the form of samvit, sandhini and hladini. Prema is the essence of hladini, maha-bhava is the essence of prema, and Srimati Radhika is the embodiment of this maha-bhava. That para-sakti, which is the essence of the essence of prema in the form of Srimati Radhika, eternally fulfils all the desires of Krsna who is the personification of srngara-rasa. At the time of sambhoga (union), Radha-Krsna are mithuna-tattva or yugala-tattva. That is to say, Sri Krsna, desiring to relish a particular type of rasa, has accepted the external bodily luster and the internal maha-bhava of Srimati Radhika, and is eternally present in the form of Gaurasundara, who is Radha-Krsna combined. Thus Sri Gaurasundara is also mithuna-tattva. Svayam Bhagavan Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas, have accepted Sri Sri Radha and Krsna's simultaneous and inconceivable difference and non-difference. This tattva has been established in the first verse.
Sri Sankara Acarya has accepted the unqualified, formless and powerless Brahman as para-tattva. This Brahman is without svagata-bheda (differences within itself), sajatiya-bheda (differences from others of the same kind or category) and vijatiya-bheda (differences from others of different kinds or categories). Many acaryas have used irrefutable logic and strong sastric evidence to cut down Sri Sankara's doctrine of nirvisesa kevaladvaita. These acaryas include Sri Krsna-dvaipayana Vedavyasa, who is the author of Vedanta-sutra; Parasara; Audulaumi and other acaryas of ancient times who had realized knowledge of the Absolute Truth; Vaisnava-acaryas such as Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, Sri Visnusvami and Sri Nimbaditya; Saivite acaryas such as Sri Nilakantha; as well as acaryas such as Sri Bhaskara acarya and others who came in a later period.
Vaisnava acaryas have accepted Parabrahman and His sakti, as well as the extremely beautiful sac-cid-ananda sri vigraha of Parabrahman who possesses all attributes (savisesa). Acaryas from the different Vaisnava sampradayas have propagated suddha-bhakti in the world. Amongst them, Sri Ramanuja's visistadvaita-vada, Sri Madhvacarya's dvaitavada, Sri Visnusvami's suddhadvaita-vada and Sri Nimbaditya's svabhavika dvaitadvaita (bhedabheda) vada are all famous. According to Sri Ramanuja, para-tattva is the savisesa Brahman who possesses cit and acit saktis. According to Sri Madhva acarya five types of differences are eternal. These are the differences between 1) Brahman and jiva, 2) jiva and jiva, 3) jiva and jada (inert matter), 4) jada and jada and 5) jada and Brahman. Sri Visnusvami has accepted that the eternal vigraha of Parabrahman, His associates, His pastimes, His abode and so on all exist in the plane of pure existence beyond the jurisdiction of maya. Similarly Sri Nimbaditya has accepted the natural difference and non-difference between savisesa Brahman, jiva and jagat.
Svayam Bhagavan Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has completed the opinions of the Vaisnava acaryas wherever they were lacking. He has embraced the universal doctrines of the Vedas and the Upanisads, and has established the relationship of eternal oneness and difference between Parabrahman, sakti, and also jiva and jagat, which are transformations of sakti. This bheda and abheda is acintya, because it is beyond the conception of human intelligence, and can be understood only by following sastra-buddhi (scriptural wisdom). The Vaisnava acaryas following in the footsteps of Sriman Mahaprabhu have accepted this bhedabheda-tattva.
No scriptures have ever referred to para-tattva as being without distinctions, without potency, formless or devoid of transcendental qualities. In Srila Vedavyasa's Brahma-sutra we find sutras such as 'janmadyasya yatah', 'arupavadeva hi tat pradhanatvat', 'api samradhane pratyaksanumanabhyam', 'anandamayo 'bhyasat' and 'sakti saktimator abhedah'. Thus, Srila Vyasadeva has openly accepted the sac-cid-ananda vigraha, sakti, name, form, qualities, pastimes and abode of the Parabrahman. Various mantras in the Upanisads also firmly establish the sakti of Parabrahman, His sac-cid-ananda vigraha and the doctrine of bheda and abheda. For example, we read,
yato va imani bhutani jayante
yena jatani jivanti
yat prayanty abhisam-visanti
tad vijijnasasva tad brahma
ityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate
We find descriptions of the transcendental form, name, qualities, pastimes and associates of Parabrahman, as well as acintya bhedabheda-tattva, throughout Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the crown jewel of all authentic evidence and proof. All these conclusions have been specifically supported by verses such as aho bhagyam aho bhagyam nanda-gopa-vrajaukasam yan-mitram paramanandam purna brahma sanatanam, gudham param brahma manusya-lingam and krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.
All these doctrines are specifically and distinctly described in the catur-sloki of Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.33 - 36. We will not give an elaborate description here for want of sufficient space.
tattvam ekam param vidyal lilaya tad dvidha sthitam
gaurah krsnah svayam hy etad ubhav ubhayam apnutah
"The non-dual Absolute Truth advaya-jnana-para-tattva is one. That Absolute Truth is eternally manifested in two forms for the sake of conducting pastimes. One form is that of Sri Gaurasundara and the other is that of Sri Krsnasundara. Both are absolute para-tattva and are non-different from each other. By tattva, Sri Gaurasundara is Krsna Himself and Sri Krsna-sundara is Sri Gaurasundara. Both manifest both forms; that is to say, Sri Krsnasundara has become Sri Gaurasundara and Sri Gaurasundara has become Sri Krsnasundara."
Sri Svarupa Damodara, who is the chief internal associate of Sri Gaurasundara, has elaborately explained the confidential siddhanta of Sri Gaura-Krsna tattva in his notebook.
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
caitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.5)
The purport is that Sri Radha-Krsna are one identity. Srimati Radhika who is the embodiment of mahabhava, and Sri Krsna, who is the embodiment of all rasa, assume one form to enjoy pleasurable pastimes in the stage of sambhoga (union). At that time They forget even the bhava of being lover and beloved, and thus it is impossible even to imagine any difference between the two. Still, in separation Sri Sri Radha and Krsna manifest two separate forms and relish vipralambha-bhava through various loving pastimes. Again, in order to enjoy some special bhavas, these two tattvas unite and manifest Themselves in the form of Sri Sacinandana Gaurahari. Actually Srimati Radhika is the transformation of Krsna's pranaya (intimate love), and She is also His svarupa-sakti. She gives pleasure to Krsna by fulfilling all His desires and that is why She is also called hladini-sakti.
Tattva-sandarbha, Srila Jiva Gosvami has quoted verses from the samhitas which reveal that Sri Gaurasundara is the combined form of Sri Krsna and Sri Radha.
antah krsnam bahir gauram darsitangadi-vaibhavam
kalau sankirtanadyaih sma krsna-caitanyam asritah
["I take shelter of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Kali-yuga through the sacrifice of sankirtana. Internally He is Sri Krsna Himself, and externally He appears in His Gaura svarupa. He has manifested Himself along with His majestic influence in the form of His anga (limbs) and upanga (subsidiary limbs), namely Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita acarya, Sri Gadadhara and His devotees headed by Srivasa." (Tattva-sandarbha, Verse 2)]
Srila Rupa Gosvami has also offered obeisances to the most munificent Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who distributes Krsna-prema and who is non-different from Sri Krsna Himself.
namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah
This siddhanta has been supported in the Markandeya Purana:
golokam ca parityajya lokanam tranakaranat
kalau gauranga rupena lila lavanya vigrahah
In many other scriptures, and especially in the books of the Gosvamis, there is plenty of evidence which proves that Sri Gaurasundara is Sri Krsna, and that Sri Krsna is Sri Gaurasundara. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta it is stated,
sei krsna avatari vrajendra-kumara
apane caitanya-rupe kaila avatara
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 2.109)
Srila Narottama Thakura has also written,
vrajendra-nandana jei, saci-suta hailo sei,
balarama hailo nitai
sarve varnah yatravistah gaura-kantir vikasate
sarve varnena hinas tu krsna-varnah prakasate
"When all the colors are mixed with each other, a golden hue is manifest. For instance, the sun is golden because all the colors are present in it. On the other hand, where all the colors are absent, a blackness beyond mundane colors is manifested."
Sri Krsna and Sri Gaura are both the ultimate limit of para-tattva and are identical abhinna-tattva (non-different from each other). The bodily luster of Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna has the distinctive hue of fresh, dark, bluish rain clouds or the effulgence of a sapphire. The bodily luster of Sri Gaurasundara defeats the splendor of lightning and molten gold. Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna and Svayam Bhagavan Sri Gaurasundara are both transcendental Absolute Truth. They are completely beyond the qualities and actions of material nature and thus They cannot compared to anything in this mundane world. Still, some comparisons have been given, following the logic of the moon and the branch, so that conditioned souls may easily come to some understanding. However, these examples only refer to the particular aspect of the transcendental bhagavata-svarupa which they illustrate. They cannot be used to explain the complete form of the Absolute Truth.
At night a small child may want to see the moon, and the parent may show it to him by indicating its position above the branch of a nearby tree. The moon appears to be just above the branch of the tree, but it is really thousands and thousands of miles away. In the same way, bhagavat-tattva is in reality completely beyond all mundane qualities. Still, it is essential in the primary stage to use examples of mundane objects to describe the Absolute, so that materially conditioned people, who are completely ignorant about the transcendental truth, can at least develop some idea of Transcendence. Both the colors black and white are mundane, yet the example of these colors has been given here to convey an idea of the bodily luster of Sri Krsnasundara and Sri Gaurasundara.
The theories of mundane scientists also support the siddhanta expressed in this verse. Scientists say that black is not a color, so the example of the color black points to the truth that Sri Krsna and His bodily luster (which resembles the color black) is nirguna, i.e. completely beyond the material qualities. Even when Sri Krsna advents in this material world, He and His bodily luster are nirguna in all respects. Moreover, all of Sri Krsna's transcendental attributes are also nirguna, including His gravity, courtesy, His lack of pride, His respectfulness, cleverness, ever-youthfulness, His incomparable beauty, His expertise in relishing rasa, His virtues, His self-control and His extreme mercy.
Conversely, Sri Gaurasundara, His bodily luster and all of His qualities are aprakrta (transcendental). That is why He is saguna-tattva, the Absolute Truth possessed of all qualities. Still, His qualities are also nirguna. Again, following the logic of the moon and the branch, a comparison is given here to illustrate saguna-tattva. Just as the sun is endowed with the combination of all the colors, so Sri Gaurasundara, who is endowed with a distinctive golden luster, embodies all transcendental qualities. Thus, He is worshipful. When all the colors are mixed together a golden hue is manifest, in which the colors are not visible separately. For instance, the rays of the sun appear white, but sometimes in the rainy season we see a rainbow opposite the sun, and we can then see the component colors separately. In English the acronym ROYGBIV is used to denote the following seven colors: R - red, O - orange, Y - yellow, G - green, B - blue, I - indigo, V - violet. Following this same logic, Sri Gaurasundara's bodily luster resembles molten gold because He embodies the combination of all transcendental qualities.
One day, when our most worshipful Srila Gurudeva was telling us some hari-katha, he related an incident which occurred when he went to Prayaga (Allahabada) after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance. He stayed there for a few days at the house of his dear friend and Godbrother Sri Abhaya-caranaravinda Prabhu, who introduced him to a well-known High Court advocate. This advocate was sharp-witted and a good logician, and he was deeply impressed on hearing the thoughts of Sri Krtiratna Prabhu, who was a profound scholar of philosophy and an instructor of instructors. One day the advocate arrived at the house with a church bishop, who was a famous philosopher and preacher of Christianity. The advocate introduced the bishop to Krtiratna Prabhu, and to have some fun initiated a dialogue which led to an interesting argument employing logic and counter-logic. As the discussion began, the Bishop turned to Krtiratna Prabhu and asked, "Why do you worship Krsna who is colored black?"
Showing his presence of mind, Srila Gurudeva immediately answered, "Black is not a color. It is beyond all colors, which means that Krsna is beyond all mundane qualities. We don't worship any worldly object or color. Nirguna-tattva is not subject to the stages of birth, growth, decay and destruction. It is beyond the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, and it is eternally existing. We worship Sri Krsna, who is the ultimate limit of the nirguna-para-tattva."
The Bishop was an expert and sportive opponent, and at once enquired, "Then why do you worship the fair-complexioned Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu?"
Srila Gurudeva answered so quickly that it seemed that he was waiting for the question with his answer already prepared. "All the qualities of the material nature are abominable and distressful. Beyond this, in the spiritual world, there is a treasure of transcendental virtuous qualities. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the unlimited treasure-house of all those transcendental qualities, and the mixture of those spiritual qualities is His bodily luster. The combination of all the colors in sunlight appears white, but in fact it is a mixture of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, blue, green, indigo, and violet. We see this in the rainy season, when the sun's light is refracted to make a rainbow in which all the seven colors are easily visible. Similarly, our worshipful Sri Gaurasundara embodies unlimited transcendental qualities."
When the honorable Bishop heard this irrefutable, scientific argument, he was struck dumb and became a little morose. Trying to conceal his discomfiture, he smiled and said, "You people worship a cowherd boy. I cannot understand this."
Srila Gurudeva replied, "Perhaps you don't understand because you worship a shepherd. If a shepherd can be worshipped, then why is it strange to worship the caretaker of cows, who nourish the whole world like mothers?"
On hearing this, both the advocate and the bishop extolled Sri Krtiratna Prabhu's eloquent speech and took their leave.
Thus, the transcendental saguna and nirguna are an identical tattva. There is no difference between the two. There is no doubt at all that Sri Krsna and Sri Gaurasundara are simultaneously saguna and nirguna-tattva.
sagunam nirgunam tattvam ekam evadvitiyakam
sarva-nitya-gunair gaurah krsnau rasas tu nirgunaih
"Constitutionally both the saguna and nirguna tattvas are non-different from each other and are one without a second. Sri Gaurasundara is saguna-tattva, the embodiment of unlimited, eternal, transcendental qualities. The omnipotent Sri Krsna, who is devoid of all kinds of mundane modes and is beyond them, and who is the embodiment of all rasas, is nirguna-tattva. Sri Krsna is described everywhere in the scriptures as rasa-svarupa (the form of rasa) and rasika-sekhara (the foremost relisher of rasa). Rasa-tattva is nirguna or transcendental. It can never come under the influence of the mundane modes."
Sri Krsna and Sri Gaura are one and the same worshipful tattva. This has been concluded here by comparing the word varna from the previous verse with the word guna in this verse. Intrinsically, nirguna Sri Krsna and saguna Sri Gaurasundara are equally worshipful para-tattva and cannot be distinguished from each other. They are both simultaneously saguna and nirguna tattva.
Mayavadis, who are ignorant of the Absolute Truth, consider saguna and nirguna to be two separate tattvas. They further conclude that these two are completely opposite to each other; that saguna-tattva is under the influence of the material modes, and thus undesirable; and that nirguna-tattva is therefore superior to saguna-tattva. According to these people, nirguna-tattva means that formless Brahman which is beyond the material world, which is devoid of attributes, unalloyed, without potency and formless. They say that this world is false and that the jiva is Brahman. According to them, saguna-tattva is the stage in which nirguna-tattva manifests itself in the material world, endowed with a material name, a material form and material qualities. They consider Svayam Bhagavan Krsna and Sri Ramacandra to be that saguna-tattva, whose appearance, disappearance and body are material and influenced by illusion.
The Gita and other authorized scriptures state that this mayavada doctrine is very offensive.
avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam
param bhavam ajananto mama bhuta-mahesvaram
moghasa mogha-karmano mogha-jnana vicetasah
raksasim asurim caiva prakrtim mohinim sritah
["Fools deride Me, the Supreme Isvara of all living entities. They fail to understand the supreme nature of My svarupa by their human intelligence, which is covered with maya. All the hopes, actions and knowledge of such fools go in vain. Their minds become agitated and, deviating from the spiritual path, they take shelter of the demoniac nature, which destroys intelligence, and they head towards the hellish planets." (Bhagavad-gita 9.11-12)]
The conclusion is that Sri Krsna is the root of all avataras and is the Supreme Absolute Truth. In the form of Krsna He is the isvara of all isvaras, of all living beings and of the entire cosmic manifestation. His determination is infallible. That is, whatever He wills must take place. He is omniscient, omnipotent and supremely compassionate. Wicked King Vena and other such fools used to disrespect Krsna when they saw Him. These fools used to abuse Sri Vasudeva-nandana or Sri Nanda-nandana Sri Krsna, considering Him a worldly man who is subject to death. These fools imagine that Paramatma is a separate atma in Krsna's body. This belief has been condemned everywhere in the scriptures, which establish that Krsna's form is sac-cid-ananda. Sastra has established that the distinction between deha (the body) and dehi (the possessor of the body) is also false in the case of the sac-cid-ananda sri vigraha of Bhagavan.
a) sac-cid-ananda-rupaya krsnaya (Gopala-tapani Upanisad 1.1)
b) tam ekam govindam sac-cid-ananda-vigraham (Gopäla-täpané Upaniñad 1.35)
c) dvi-bhujam mauna-mudradhyam vana-malinam isvaram (Gopala-tapani Upanisad, purva 12)
d) isvarah paramah krsnah saccidananda vigrahah (Brahma-samhita 5.1)
e) apasyam gopamanipadyamanama (Rg Veda 22.214.171.124)
f) gudham param brahma manusya-lingamam (Srid-Bhagavatam 7.10.48)
g) yatravatirno bhagavan paramatma narakrtih (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.23.20)
h) deha-dehi-vibhago yam nesvare vidyate kvacit(Kurma Purana)
Bhagavan Sri Krsna is unborn, yet by dint of His inconceivable potency, He is the eternal son of Sri Nanda-Yasoda. He is nirguna, yet He is ever youthful, the best of dancers, and He is dressed as a cowherd boy, carrying a flute. He is equally disposed to all, and yet He is partial to His devotees who take exclusive shelter of Him. Viruddha dharmam tasmin na citram: "All apparently contradictory and mutually exclusive qualities co-exist within Him simultaneously." Four-headed Brahma and other demigods have referred to Him as being simultaneously saguna and nirguna.
Ravana thought that Sri Ramacandra was an ordinary human being, so he kidnapped Sita-devi, His svarupa-sakti. Sri Ramacandra later killed Ravana as well as all his demon followers and rescued Sita-devi. Kamsa, Jarasandha, Sisupala and other foolish kings thought that Sri Krsna is an ordinary human being. By His causeless mercy, Sri Krsna destroyed them, either personally with His disk or through His devotees, and established His divine position as nirguna. Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna has said in the Gita, dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te: "I give them the intelligence, the divine vision, by which they can come to Me." One cannot realize bhagavat-tattva, the Absolute Truth, without the mercy of Bhagavan or His devotees. Hence, Sri Krsnacandra and Sri Gaurasundara are both equally worshipful as one and the same unparalleled and supreme tattva.
sri krsnam mithunam brahma tyaktva tu nirgunam hi tat
upasate mrsa vijnah yatha tusavaghatinah
"Sri Krsna and Sri Gaura are both the same supreme Brahman. Those who abandon Their service to worship the formless Brahman never attain factual liberation, and are precisely like those who try to extract rice by beating empty husks. All they obtain is their own fruitless, hard labor. Similarly all seekers of empirical knowledge, who give up the service of Sri Krsna to worship the nirvisesa nirguna Brahman, simply perform fruitless hard labor. All their efforts go in vain."
The Vedas, Upanisads and especially Vedanta-sutra describe only bhakti. The topic established by all these scriptures is Bhagavan and His bhakti. The word jnana has not been mentioned even once throughout the 550 aphorisms of Vedanta-sutra. The sutra 'janmadyasya yatah' clearly states that Bhagavan is the creator, maintainer, and destroyer of this cosmic manifestation. This proves the divine existence of His form, sakti and transcendental qualities. The sutra 'arupavad eva tat pradhanatvat' describes the transcendental sri vigraha of Parabrahman. The sutra 'anandamayo 'bhyasyat' confirms the pleasurable pastimes and 'anavrtti sabdad anavrtti sabdat' states that the only process to attain the supreme truth is nama-sankirtana. In the prayers of Sri Brahma in Srimad-Bhagavatam, the cultivation of nirvisesa-jnana has been forbidden.
sreyah-srtim bhaktim udasya te vibho
klisyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
tesam asau klesala eva sisyate
nanyad yatha sthula-tusavaghatinam
["O Prabhu! You are the ultimate auspiciousness and bhakti is the best and only way to obtain You. The four types of desirable goals such as moksa are easily attained by performing bhakti, just as water continuously flows from a reservoir. When one performs bhakti, one is automatically situated in knowledge, so one need not endeavor to obtain jnana separately. Those who abandon the path of bhakti and engage in distressing endeavors to achieve jnana obtain only suffering and nothing else, just as those who beat empty husks have no reward but their own fruitless hard labor. They do not obtain any rice." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.4)]
ye 'nye 'ravindaksa vimukta-maninas
tvayy asta-bhavad avisuddha-buddhayah
aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah
patanty adho 'nadrta-yusmad-anghrayah
["O lotus eyed one! Those who are not your devotees may consider themselves to be liberated by their performance of sense-control and severe sadhana, but their intelligence is not pure because they are devoid of the sentiments of unalloyed devotion towards You. As a result of neglecting Your lotus feet, which are the only shelter, they again fall down to a degraded condition." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.2.32)]
The four Kumaras and Sri Sukadeva previously worshipped the nirguna nirakara Brahman. However, by the mercy of Pitamaha (grandfather of the world) Brahma and Krsna-dvaipayana Vedavyasa, they became attracted to the worship of the mithuna-brahma Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala. The special qualities and sweetness of this conjugal Brahman are so attractive that even brahma-jnanis (seekers of empiric knowledge) give up their previous condition of being atmarama (absorbed in the pleasure of the atma) and become blissfully engaged in the worship of Sri Sri Radha Krsna mithuna-tattva.
atmaramas ca munayo nirgrantha apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukim bhaktim ittham-bhuta-guno harih
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami has personally testified in Srimad-Bhagavatam "I was firmly situated in the worship of nirguna Brahman, but by the mercy of Srila Vyasadeva I was inspired to engage in the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala, which is full of rasa."
parinisthito 'pi nairgunye uttamahsloka-lilaya
grhita-ceta rajarse akhyanam yad adhitavan
The result of worshiping nirguna Brahman is mukti. An aikantika bhakta never accepts such mukti, even if it is offered by Bhagavan. He desires to be incessantly engaged in the loving devotional service of Bhagavan forever. Great brahma-jnanis occasionally attain mukti by their hard austerities and severe sadhana, yet that same mukti is attained very easily by outright demons when they are killed by Bhagavan Himself. So who but a fool would vainly endeavor to achieve such a condemned and low class of mukti? Wise devotees never accept such undesirable mukti even if Bhagavan Himself offers it to them.
sri vinoda-bihari yo radhaya milito yada
tadaham vandanam kuryyam sarasvati-prasadatah
"By the causeless grace of my Gurudeva Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, I pray to Sri Vinoda-bihari Sri Krsna, when, upon meeting with Srimati Radhika, He becomes one with Her."
This verse reveals yet another of its author's confidential moods. The purport of 'when Sri Vinoda-bihari is in union with Srimati Radhika' has been thoroughly explained in the first verse. When Krsna is deeply absorbed in remembering Srimati Radhika, His splendor is endowed with a golden hue. Alternatively, the poet is bowing down again and again to the form of Krsna whose bluish effulgence has been covered by the golden luster of Srimati Radhika when She embraces Him in union after separation. The underlying meaning is to pray exclusively to mithuna-brahma Sri Sri Radha-Vinoda-bihari the sri vigrahah of rasaraja-mahabhava. Sarasvati prasadatah means 'by the causeless mercy of my Gurudeva.' The name of his Gurudeva is Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. The word 'Sarasvati' has two meanings:
a) the presiding deity of apara vidya (worldly knowledge)
b) the presiding deity of paravidya (transcendental knowledge).
Sri Sarasvati Thakura is non-different from the presiding deity of paravidya. Thus, without his mercy it is impossible to worship Sri Radha-lingita vigraha.
Another confidential meaning is tadaham sri vinoda-bihari vandanam kuryat: "I worship Sri Vinoda-bihari Radhalingita sri vigraha." The name Sri Vinoda-bihari has been given to the poet by his Gurudeva. In addition to this, the name of his eternal spiritual form is Sri Vinoda-manjari. This is evident from his pranama-mantra:
gaurasraya-vigrahaya krsna kamaika-carine
rupanuga-pravaraya vinodeti svarupine
Thus, in this prayer the poet aspires to be eternally engaged in his siddha-svarupa in the permanent seva of that Sri Krsna who is embraced by Srimati Radhika.
The realization of such a rarely fulfilled aspiration is impossible without the mercy of Srila Gurudeva, the condensed embodiment of mercy and compassion.
sri-guru-carane rati ei se uttama-gati
je prasade pure sarva asa
iti tattvastakam nityam yah pathet sraddhayanvitah
krsna-tattvam abhijnaya gaura-pade bhaven matih
"Whoever daily recites this tattvastakam with great faith will fully comprehend Sri Krsna tattva, and become immersed in affectionate meditation upon the lotus feet of Sri Gaurasundara."
"Sakha-candra nyaya" is the logic of the branch and the moon. Even though the moon is far away in the heavens, one may indicate its whereabouts with reference to something close at hand, for example the branch of a tree.