Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami
Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Before beginning our study of Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali, we offer our obeisances to Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Rupa Gosvami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srimati Radhika, Sri Vrajendra-nandana Syamasundara, and also to Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali.

First, we should know the identity of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. Srila Gopala-guru Gosvami has stated in his Paddhati that in his siddha-svarupa, his spiritual form in Goloka Vrindavana, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is Sri Rati-manjari, and her nickname is Sri Tulasi-manjari. All the sakhis (gopis) address her as Tulasi-manjari, although they also sometimes address her as Rati-manjari. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami came with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu from Goloka-dhama, the Lord's abode in the spiritual world, along with Rupa-manjari and all the other sakhis.

In his form as a practicing devotee, or sadhaka, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's diksa-guru and also family guru was Srila Yadunandana Acarya, and he had some association with Srila Haridasa Thakura. He also met Sri Nityananda Prabhu, and after that he came to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Since his boyhood, Raghunatha dasa wanted to join Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but Mahaprabhu advised him not to leave his home, father, and mother so early. Sriman Mahaprabhu told him, "First become mature in bhakti, and then you can leave your home. For now, return to your home. Don't be like a mad person and don't be anxious. Sometimes, seeing the activities of another person, one becomes enthusiastic and acts impulsively. Later, however, when his 'fever' subsides, he understands that he has made a mistake. Now you are a very young child in these religious affairs. Don't be over-enthusiastic or impatient. Go back and love your father and mother outwardly, yet maintain firm faith in your bhajana. God will help you one day, and you will achieve your ultimate goal."

Sri Raghunatha dasa returned to his parents' home and lived together with his wife, father, and mother. After some time he met Sri Nityananda Prabhu at Panihati, and there he received the Lord's mercy. Then, soon after his return from Panihati, his Gurudeva, Srila Yadunandana Acarya, came to his home very early one morning while the sky was still dark. He told Raghunatha dasa, "One of my disciples has left his service and my Thakura's puja has not been performed. Come with me to that disciple, and let us again engage him in Thakura's worship."

Raghunatha dasa was very glad, because now he could leave his palace without being obstructed. Many guards had been watching over him so that he would not leave home, but when they saw that he was with his guru, they did not disturb him. Coming out of the palace he told his Gurudeva, "You may go to your home. I will go alone to your disciple and send him to you." His Gurudeva left, and Raghunatha dasa gave the message to that disciple. The disciple went to his guru, and Raghunatha dasa quickly went to Jagannatha Puri.

When Raghunatha dasa arrived in Jagannatha Puri he met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who placed him in the hands of Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. Sriman Mahaprabhu instructed him thus:

gramya-katha na sunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe
bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe
amani manada hana krsna-nama sada la'be
vraje radha-krsna-seva manase karibe
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 6.236-237)

Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. Do not eat very palatable food, nor dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Sri Krsna, and within your mind render service to Srimati Radharani and Sri Krsna in Våndavana.

There are many pastimes concerning Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's renunciation in Puri, and concerning the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami upon him.

When Caitanya Mahaprabhu left this world, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami felt shelterless. He had previously been eating rice, dal, and so on, but after Sriman Mahaprabhu left he took only fruits and milk. Within three or four months Sri Svarupa Damodara also left and joined Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in aprakata-lila, His eternal pastimes in the spiritual world, and at hat time Raghunatha dasa also gave up taking even fruits and milk. He soon proceeded to Våndavana and planned to give up his life by jumping from Govardhana Hill.

Previously, while he had been living in Jagannatha Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave him two Deities: a Govardhana sila and a gunja-mala (necklace of gunja beads, representing Srimati Radhika), which Sankarananda Sarasvati had given the Lord upon returning from Våndavana. Sriman Mahaprabhu personally used to perform worship of this sila by offering the water of His tears and the flowers (moods) of His heart. Sometimes He kept it on His heart, sometimes on His head, sometimes on His eyelids, and sometimes He could not find a satisfying place.

After three months Sriman Mahaprabhu gave the sila to Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, who considered, "By doing this, Mahaprabhu has given me to Govardhana; I should serve Govardhana. And, by giving me this gunja-mala, He has offered me to the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika."

When he performed his worship, Srila ­Raghunatha dasa Gosvami would place the gunja-mala around his neck, taking shelter of Srimati Radhika. He served Govardhana as Sri Krsna, Vrajendra-nandana Syamasundara, and he always thought of himself as a palya-dasi, or maidservant, of Srimati Radhika – a manjari.

He came with these two Deities to Vrndavana, and there he met Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami. He told them about his idea of going to Govardhana, but he did not disclose his plan to give up his life by jumping from Govardhana. They could understand his intention, however, and Srila Sanatana Gosvami instructed him, "Don't do so. You are my brother, and Srila Rupa Gosvami's also."

Srila Sanatana Gosvami then told him something from his own life history. He explained that while he was traveling from Våndavana to Jagannatha Puri he had become infected with a skin disease, the moisture of which was oozing from sores all over his body. As soon as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw him He embraced him, at which time the moisture from his body touched the body of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Greatly distressed, he thought, "I should leave this body by throwing myself under the wheel of Lord Jagannatha's chariot." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew about this and told him, "You have given this body to Me, and now you are behaving independently. You give yourself verbally, but internally you do not. You have no right to this body, for you have already surrendered it to Me."

Sriman Mahaprabhu continued, "If I would have thought that by giving up My life I could receive the service of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna, I would want to give up My life hundreds of thousands of times every day. But I know that Krsna and krsna-prema cannot be attained simply by dying. They can only be achieved by krsna-bhajana."

Srila Sanatana Gosvami now told Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, "So, you can die, but you cannot receive krsna-prema by such an act. Rather than die, it is better to perform bhajana at Radha-kunòa, Govardhana, Våndavana, and other places of Srimati Radharani and Krsna's pastimes."

In addition to his association with Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami had a great deal of association with Srila Rupa Gosvami. He wholly followed Srila Rupa Gosvami, from whom he received all realization about his service to Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, and Srila Sanatana Gosvami also acted as his siksa-guru.

Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's Form in Krsna-lila

As previously mentioned, in his siddha-sarira Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is a manjari, a certain type of sakhi. There are five kinds of sakhis: sakhi, nitya-sakhi, prana-sakhi, priya-sakhi, and priya-narma-sakhi.

Sakhis are exemplified by gopis like Dhanistha, who serve and support Krsna. Although they serve both Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna, they have more sneha, affection, for Sri Krsna than for Srimati Radhika. Thus, they are called krsna-snehadhika gopis.

Priya-narma-sakhis are also called parama-prestha-sakhis, and priya-sakhis are also called narma-sakhis. The priya-sakhis and priya-narma-sakhis are sama-sneha. The word sama-sneha means that they have equal affection for Radha and Krsna, yet they are somewhat more attracted to Srimati Radhika. They sometimes rebuke Krsna when they see Him committing any fault in relation to Srimati Radhika, and they sometimes admonish Srimati Radhika when She is angry and very hard-hearted towards Sri Krsna. Generally they want that Sri Krsna will always be under the control of Srimati Radhika, and they show favoritism towards Her; yet, they are sama-sneha.

The prana-sakhis and nitya-sakhis are radhika-snehadhika, meaning they have more affection towards Srimati Radhika. They always serve Her and associate with Her, wherever She happens to be, and they render Her innumerable services. They are extremely pleased if Srimati Radhika is pleased. If She feels separation from Krsna, they also feel separation; when Krsna meets with Her, they feel in their hearts that they themselves are meeting with Him.

Their mood is appreciated by the example of a bee playing on a flower. The bee cannot play on the manjari of the flower because the manjari is not stable, yet when the bee plays on the flower, the manjari trembles with happiness. In the same way, when Krsna meets with Radhika, these manjaris become exceedingly happy.

One day Srimati Radhika told one of Her sakhis, for whom she has great affection, "Mani-manjari is My very obedient friend. Please go to her and cleverly tell her that Krsna is waiting for her in a sanketa-kunja (meeting grove). Please take her to Him by any means. It is My desire that she meet with Him."

The sakhi went to Mani-manjari and requested her in a roundabout way to meet with Krsna. She said, "Krsna is waiting for you. I also know the desire of Srimati Radhika. She has not told me to come to you, but I know Her desire. She will not be angry."

The sakhi tried in many different ways to convince her to go, but Mani-manjari said, "Please do not request me to do this. I will never go. When I see Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna meet, I feel so much pleasure, much more pleasure than if I were to personally meet with Him. If a person knows where he can achieve greater happiness, he will not purposely strive for lesser happiness. When Krsna meets with Radhika it is my gain, but if I would meet with Him it would be a very great loss. Why should I choose loss over gain?" Thus, Srimati Radhika has so much faith in the manjaris.

Radhika once wanted Sri Rupa-manjari to meet with Krsna. She looked towards Krsna and hinted for Him to catch hold of her. Krsna wanted to do so, but Rupa-manjari fell at His feet and prayed, "Please don't do this. I am Radhika's dasi. When You meet with Her I derive more pleasure than I can describe. I request You to give me that pleasure, not this lesser pleasure." Krsna agreed to her request.

The sadhana to attain this mood of devotion is called tat-tad-bhava-icchatmika. Tat-tad-bhava-icchatmika is one of the two types of kamanuga-bhakti, and the other is sambhoga-iccha-mayi. Aspiring to become an independent nayika (heroine) like Srimati Radhika and Candravali is called sambhoga-iccha-mayi, which means the desire to have a direct relationship with Krsna. Those gopis who become greatly pleased by witnessing the meeting of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna and who experience all the symptoms of directly meeting Krsna simply by seeing Sri Radha and Sri Krsna meet are called sakhi snehadhika. They experience what Radhika has experienced with Krsna, which is more than what they would have experienced by directly meeting with Him. Tat-tat-bhava means 'the specialty of the meeting of Radha and Krsna, and its bhava.' Although the manjaris have all the qualities of the nayika, or other heroines, if not more, they only want to serve Sri Radha. Sri Rupa-manjari and Sri Rati-manjari are both in this category. The sadhana to attain this devotion is therefore called tat-tad-bhava-icchatmika.

How can this type of devotion be attained? Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has come to this world only to give this bhava – not the love of Srimati Radhika or the love of a nayika.

anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
(Caitanya-caritamrata Adi-lila, 1.4)

He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge of the mellow taste of His service.

Sva-bhakti-sriyam is that unnatojjvala-rasa, or elevated conjugal mellow, which can be attained by the jiva soul. The soul cannot have what Srimati Radhika has – mahabhava [SEE ENDNOTE 1] in both madana and modana [SEE ENDNOTE 2] – in exactly the same way that She has it. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to taste radha-bhava, Radhika's transcendental ecstatic sentiments, and radhayah pranaya-mahima, the glory of Her love. He came also to distribute manjari-bhava, engagement in the service of Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna.

Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami thus advised Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, and they gave him Radha-kunòa as his place to live and perform bhajana. There he was always crying for Srimati Radhika, and always rolling in the dust of the bank of Radha-kunda.

Although he is a special sakhi of Srimati Radhika and is never separated from Her, in this lila, as Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, he has played the highest role of a jiva – a raganuga-sadhaka, a practicing devotee who desires the service of the manjaris.

He was not merely pretending. By the arrangement of Yogamaya he actually felt himself to be a sadhaka. Although Lord Krsna is God of Gods, He weeps by seeing the stick in the hand of Mother Yasoda. He is not pretending. He actually fears Mother Yasoda and therefore He genuinely weeps. Similarly, although Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is a near and dear sakhi of Srimati Radhika in his spiritual form as a manjari, he is not pretending to feel greed to achieve that service. By the influence of Yogamaya he does what he actually feels. He has two roles: one as a practicing raganuga-bhakti-sadhaka, and at the same time another, in his siddha-sarira, as Sri Rati-manjari, who is always serving Radha and Krsna.

'mane' nija-siddha-deha kariya bhavana
ratri-dine kare vraje krsnera sevana
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madya-lila, 22.157)

There are two processes by which one may execute raganuga-bhakti – external and internal. When self-realized, the advanced devotee externally remains like a neophyte and executes all the sastric injunctions, especially hearing and chanting. Within his mind, however, in his original, pure, self-realized position, he serves Krsna in Vrndavana in his particular way. He serves Krsna twenty-four hours a day, throughout the day and night.

Every jiva has a siddha-deha, or siddha-sarira (spiritual body). Without a siddha-deha one cannot serve Sri Radha and Sri Krsna. This material body is not fit for serving Them. In Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes, one can perform bhajana and sadhana with this body, but for manasa-cintana, meditating on and entering Radha and Krsna's pastimes, the siddha-deha is essential.

This can be achieved if a person has greed, if he has gone to a siddha-gurudeva, and if he is very eager to serve Radha and Krsna. Initially his Gurudeva will cause him to hear all Their pastimes. The guru will watch and see in which rasa the disciple has taste. Accordingly, he will let him hear the pastimes that will be appropriate and useful for him.

When bhava manifests in one's body, one becomes situated in the stage called svarupa-siddha (internal cognizance of one's spiritual identity). After attaining this svarupa-siddha, one can 'imagine' these pastimes, but the word imagination has a specific meaning here. There is some realization.

Suppose a devotee is hearing a verse of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami from the lips of a pure guru. In that verse Sri Rati-manjari smiles as she tells Sri Rupa-manjari, "O Rupa-manjari, I know that you are a very chaste lady in Våndavana. Everyone knows this; yet although your husband has been out of home for so many days, I see some unusual marks on your lips. Why is that? Perhaps, while you were sleeping, a parrot came; thinking your lips to be a bimba fruit, he has bitten and cut them."

In another verse Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has written:

ha modatah kanaka-gauri padaravinda-
samvahanani sanakais tava kim karisye
(Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali, text 72)

Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna are tired from wandering in Våndavana and performing Their pastimes in the kunjas. They are perspiring and their faces look very beautiful. Srimati Radhika is lying on the lap of Lord Krsna, keeping Her feet on the lap of Sri Rupa-manjari, and Rupa-manjari is massaging Her feet ever so softly. Krsna is caressing Srimati Radhika's hair and She is feeling great happiness on His lap. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, in the mood of Rati-manjari, is praying to Rupa-manjari, "Will you give me your prasadi seva?" Prasada means remnant. "Rupa-manjari is massaging. Will she give her 'remnant service' to me?"

If one remembers this pastime, is the remembrance imagination? The pastime is reality. Therefore, the meaning of 'imagination' in this connection is thinking about the pastimes performed by Sri Krsna and Srimati Radhika, but without realization. If one is first hearing the pastimes from a bona fide guru and then thinking about them without realization, is this imagination? The subject matter is true. Although there is no realization, something is there, and after this 'imagination' the devotee will have some realization. He continues to hear more and more, and he continues his practices of raganuga-bhajana. Then, gradually, his siddha-çarira will manifest by the grace of Sri Krsnacandra, Srimati Radhika, and Yogamaya.

By thinking alone, however, one cannot achieve anything. These pastimes manifest in the heart only by the grace of Bhagavan Sri Krsna. If the guru is qualified, if he is a suddha-guru (pure guru) and has realization of all the pastimes, he will also help. He will see the rasa of his disciple's siddha-sarira – as did the guru of Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara of Jaiva-dharma – and give him appropriate guidance for his spiritual development.

If a person is situated in raganuga-bhakti, spontaneous devotion following in the wake of the residents of Vrndavana, he will surely understand his spiritual form and try hard to achieve it by the grace of Lord Krsna and Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga. Without this, one cannot factually meditate upon asta-yama-lila, the pastimes that Sri Sri Radha-Krsna perform throughout the day and night. Without this, he does not know who he himself is, nor has he any idea of Krsna or Radhika – how beautiful They are and what are Their qualities. He should know his/her seva (particular service), vasana (dress), bhusana (decoration), ayu (age), husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, residence, and the place in which her marriage was performed. He will have to know all the elements of his spiritual personality, the realization of which comes at the stage of svarupa-siddhi.

When the devotee becomes matured in this practice, Yogamaya will take him, after death, to a sphere where Sri Krsna's lila is going on in the material world. The devotee will take her birth in a gopi's womb and, in the association of nitya-siddha (eternally perfect) gopis, she will completely realize and serve Srimati Radharani and Sri Krsna.

We are advised to think of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami as a raganuga-sadhaka, not as siddha (eternally perfected devotee). There is no doubt that he is siddha, a manjari, but we can only follow him if we see him as a raganuga-sadhaka. In our present stage we cannot follow Krsna or any siddha maha-purusa. We can only follow sadhakas. We therefore consider Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami as a sadhaka, and we can gradually follow the way in which he performed his sadhana, or spiritual practices.

Here, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami weeps on the bank of Radha-kunòa towards the end of his life, when he is not able to live without the darçana of Srimati Radhika for even a second. Feeling great separation, he prays to Her for service.

His prayers are flowers. Vilapa means 'weeping,' and that weeping is his palmfuls (anjali) of numerous varieties of flowers (kusuma) which he offers to Srimati Radhika's lotus feet. In each service reside unique moods, or bhavas. When Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has one kind of mood of separation and is praying for a specific service, that is one kind of flower. There are so many flowers in the form of one hundred and four verses, and all the verses are uttered only for achieving manjari-bhava. None are for achieving nayika-bhava, the mood of becoming the beloved of Sri Krsna and having a direct relationship with Him.

Mahabhava – the highest stage of prema, divine love. In Ujjvala-nilamani (14.154) mahabhava is defined thus: "When anuraga reaches a special state of intensity, it is known as bhava or mahabhava. This stage of intensity has three characteristics:
(1) anuraga reaches the state of sva-samvedya, which means that it becomes the object of its own experience; (2) it becomes prakasita, radiantly manifest, which means that all eight sattvika-bhavas become prominently displayed; and (3) it attains the state of yavad-asraya-vrtti, which means that the active ingredient of the intensified state of anuraga transmits the experience of Radha and Krsna's bhava to whomever may be present and qualified to receive it."]

Vijaya, "How many kinds of adhirudha-bhava are there?"
Gosvami, "This wonderful bhava is of two hues: modana and madana."
Vijaya, "What is modana-adhirudha-bhava?"
Gosvami, "In maha-bhava, when the entire spectrum of sattvika-bhavas being exchanged between the nayika and nayaka, Sri Radha and Sri Krsna, scintillates exceptionally, higher than even the uddipta, blazing, level, then this is called modana-adhirudha-bhava. In modana-adhirudha-bhava, both Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna are overcome with anxiety and discontent. Furthermore, in modana-adhiruòha-bhava, the love of Srimati Radhika touches heights of ecstasy unknown to all the other gopis."
Vijaya, "Gurudeva, I am eager to learn about some particulars of modana-adhirudha-bhava—for instance, in whom does this bhava reside?"
Gosvami, "Modana-bhava is only present in the yutha of Srimati Radhika, nowhere else. Modana is the favourite pleasure arena of the hladini sakti. At a certain stage, in viraha-dasa, the anguish of separation, modana converts to mohana and then, as viraha-dasa becomes all-encompassing, all the magnificent sattvika-bhavas radiate at the level of suddipta, greatest brilliance" (Jaiva-dharma, chapter 36).

Madana and mohana – highly advanced ecstasy is divided into two categories: madana and mohana. Meeting together is called madana, and separation is called mohana. On the madana platform there are kissing and many other symptoms, which are unlimited. In the mohana stage, there is divyonmada, which includes many features such as udghurëa (unsteadiness) and citra-jalpa (varieties of mad emotional talks). Citra-jalpa has ten divisions, called prajalpa and so on. An example of this is the ten verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam spoken by Srimati Radharani entitled "The Song to the Bumblebee."

In conjugal love (srngara) there are two departments: meeting and separation. On the platform of meeting, there are unlimited varieties that are beyond description. When the lover and the beloved meet, they are called yukta (connected). Previous to their meeting, they are called ayukta (not connected). Whether connected or not connected, the ecstatic emotion arising due to not being able to embrace and kiss each other as desired is called vipralambha. This vipralambha helps nourish emotions at the time of meeting. Similarly, sambhoga is described in the following verse quoted from the Vedic literature by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in his Anubhasya commentary on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta: "Meeting each other and embracing each other are aimed at bringing about the happiness of the lover and the beloved. When this stage becomes increasingly jubilant, the resultant ecstatic emotion is called sambhoga." Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 23.58–62) (part of 23.62 purport included).]