The practice that leads to becoming
a handmaiden of Radha
In this chapter, various devotional practices are examined according to the optic of raganuga bhakti and are judged in terms of their usefulness for attaining the ultimate goal of the state of manjari-hood. Specifically, the positions of Rupa Goswami, Radha Krishna Goswami and Vishwanath Chakravarti are summarized. The conclusion given is that directly hearing and chanting about the activities of the manjaris is the most effective. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the manjaris’ sacred rapture in the context of Radha and Krishna’s activities.
10.1 Varieties of moods, varieties of ecstasies
The gopis constantly relish the nectar of Krishna’s form, his qualities, his taste, his fragrance, sound and touch; coming to beg from them the remnants of their feast are my mind, the mendicant, with the senses, his five ragged disciples, in the hope that they will be able to maintain their lives.
Tasting this sacred rapture himself, the Lord taught it to all the devotees. The Lord was rich with the jewels of prema; never discriminating as to the place or recipient, he gave them freely to whomever he met. He was the greatest of all philanthropists.
The Supreme Lord, his abode and eternal associates, all lie beyond the range of our words and thoughts. The things of the transcendental realm can never be appreciated by the gross material senses. The material mode of goodness can reveal the nature of matter but not the transcendental realm; that is only revealed by the power of the internal potency or viçuddha-sattva, which has absolutely no material components. Another name of this state of pure goodness is vasudeva, from which the Supreme Lord Vasudeva makes his appearance. Until this state of pure goodness or vasudeva manifests individually in the heart of a devotee, he or she has no ability to comprehend the Lord; therefore the Lord does not appear there. The manifestation of pure goodness is possible only by the grace of an advanced devotee.
The Upanishads refer to the Lord, whose form is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss, as the embodiment of sacred rapture. This rapture or relish is manifest in his names, his form, his qualities and his pastimes. “Krishna’s name, Krishna’s form as well as all his diversions are as transcendental as his essential nature.”
If one has the fortune to come into contact with a saint who has made the Lord’s name, form, qualities and pastimes his very life and soul, and by his mercy hears all about the Lord’s glories, then just as fire acts on iron to make it gradually take on the properties of fire, so too such a person’s mind becomes gradually spiritualized by constant contact with this transcendental subject matter. It is possible to conceive the Lord along with his eternal associates in a mind thus purified. A devotee thus becomes competent to relish the ways and means of their sweet exchanges of love.
The desire to please one’s own senses is called lust, but the desire to satisfy the senses of the Supreme Lord is called prema or love. Lust is the darkness of ignorance whereas love is like the brilliant sun.The heart is to be considered impure as long as it is filled with lust or egocentricity. With an impure mind, it is impossible to appreciate the happiness of contact with the Supreme Lord. It is thus necessary for the Supreme Lord’s pleasure-giving potency or hlAdini-zakti to come and transform the living entity’s material lust into love after
which it makes him eager to always experience the happiness of contact with him. The Lord’s name, form and pastimes are like the resplendent sun freed from the veil of any clouds; it shines down on the lust-darkened heart of the conditioned soul through hearing and chanting and dispels that darkness. Then that heart becomes effulgent with the divine light of prema. “Through his hlAdini potency the Lord nourishes his devotees. He is the personification of joy and himself experiences happiness; his hlAdini zakti is the cause of the devotee’s enjoyment also.”
Prema is the essential element in this internal, pleasure-giving potency of the Lord. Devotion is Krishna’s hladini potency mixed with the essence of his consciousness energy or saàvit-çakti. This essence is the particular desire favorable to the Lord which is the essential condition for devotion—the thoughts, moods or state of mind that are favorable to the pleasures of the Supreme Lord. Devotion implies service; the word AnukUlya (“favorable”) means service.
Prema is the essential portion of the Lord’s internal potency and is therefore an item that is eternal, spiritual and full of sacred rapture. As a result, it is not possible to “produce” devotion as such in this world; rather, it makes its appearance in the heart of the fortunate soul who has been blessed by a devotee, being aided by his cooperative spirit.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja, after stating that the essential portion of the hlAdini potency is prema, goes on to say that the essence of prema is something called mahA-bhAva, “great feeling.” Here we will discuss why bhava has been indicated by the devotionally oriented scriptures as the very essence of love of God.
If the Supreme Beauty, filled with desires and exultation, is experienced through a mental inclination or sentiment favorable to him, then that is called priti or love. This favorable sentiment or love must be mixed with a particular dominant mood or taste, otherwise the execution of service will not prove successful. This is not just a vague scriptural statement, but can be seen practically in the world around us also. For example, a mother serves in the spirit of a mother and not as a wife, sister or daughter, etc., and thus her service to her child is successful.
Love is the element which gives one the authority to serve the object of his love; this is something everyone understands. Service without love is nothing more than a superficial imitation; the object of such service is never made happy by it and the servitor also never finds real happiness through it. Nevertheless, even if one does have love, that love must take a particular shape in order for him to be able to engage in that service. A father or mother must have a sense of parental affection, which gives shape to their love for their child and creates a situation favorable for serving him. If a servant has some spirit of affection other than that of servitude to his master, then the master will not derive full satisfaction from his service. If the relation of two friends is not mixed with the feeling of friendship (sakhya-bhava), then many trespasses will be committed in the course of that relationship, which is also one of service. In the same way, if the attitude of a beloved to her lover is not mixed with the proper spirit of wife-hood and mistress-hood, then however intense her love for her mate, it will prove incapable of giving him complete satisfaction. These are facts that any person knowing the world can verify from his own experience.
In the same way, loving devotion to the Lord has to take a particular form according to the major types of relation, viz., service, friendship, parental love or mistresshood, otherwise the devotee will never be able to attain service that is completely favorable to the Lord. The example given is that of Lakshmi who, wanting to attain Krishna in Vraja, performed difficult austerities, but was unable to achieve the fulfilment of her desires because she did not follow in the footsteps of the gopis of Vrindavan; she did not accept their lead in rendering service to him. “Worshipping Krishna in a sense of majesty is useless; one will never attain him unless he follows the gopis of Vrindavan.”
10.2 Raganuga bhakti in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu
As we saw above in chapter 2, Krishna and his devotees are the props of devotional rapture as the object and shelter of the love respectively. In his commentary to the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Jiva Goswami says that the person who possesses love for God, i.e., the receptacle of that love, is called the ashraya. Through contact with such a “vessel of love,” the present day devotional aspirant can also become loving and affectionate toward the Lord as the love flows from the vessel to his heart and he thus attains perfection. Because these shelters of love are its original containers, in one’s own meditative devotional practice, one should concentrate on, as an object of emulation, one of these direct associates and eternal participants in the pastimes of the Lord, each of whom is a personification of great spiritual emotion.
There are five rasas or spiritual tastes namely shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhura. The practitioner of devotional service according to a particular flavour will follow the ashraya devotee in that mood. The devotee wishing to serve the Lord in the mood of peacefulness will follow a personification of great spiritual emotion in that mood, for example, Sanat Kumar. The followers of dasya-rasa will follow the ideal presented by the ashraya devotees of that rasa, such as Uddhava. If he wants servitude in Vrindavan, then he should follow the great personifications of that mood, namely Raktaka and Patraka. One who wishes to attain the mood of the priya-narma-sakhas (those friends of Krishna who have a role in his affairs with the gopis) will follow in the mood of Subala and Ujjvala. One desiring to attain the affection of the Lord’s superiors will follow the açraya bhakta in that rasa, namely the King and Queen of Vraja, the parents of the Lord.
Those who wish to attain the direct mistress-ship of the Lord, nayika-bhava, will follow the great personifications of spiritual emotion in that mood, Srimati Radharani or Chandravali. Those who do not directly wish to become the mistresses of the Lord, but prefer the spirit of approval of that love that is personified in the manjaris who carry out the service of the Lord and his Beloved in the groves of Vrindavan, should follow the chief of those manjaris, the great incarnation of the spiritual emotion known as bhavollasa rati, namely Sri Rupa Manjari.
Following Sri Rupa Manjari means that the execution of the Holy Couple’s intimate service in the hidden groves of the Vrindavan forest will be carried out fully well. Narottam Das has prayed:
When will I stand behind Sri Rupa Manjari, filled with qualms, when the two of them will look directly at me and speak out? Laughingly the Divine Couple, whose hearts are full of compassion, will ask, “O Rupa, where did this new handmaid come from?” Hearing them, Sri Rupa Manjari will answer, “O, Maïjulali Manjari brought her here and put her in my care. She told me that she is very humble and I saw it was true; so I kept her with me and let her help me.” After telling the two of them these facts, she will engage this Narottama Das in service to their lotus feet.In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Srila Rupa Goswami writes that one must follow and serve the Lord in both his external body as well as his internally meditated-upon spiritual body, in both cases following in the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavan.
In the Chaitanya Charitamrita these ideas are expressed as follows:
There are two systems of practice, one internal, the other external. In the external practice one performs hearing and chanting, while mentally he meditates on his spiritual body and performs service in it to Radha and Krishna. Always following behind his favorite devotee who is dear to Krishna, he constantly engages in service in a meditative mood.The intent of these verses is that the practice of raganuga bhakti is to be done on two levels. In the original text it is said that the first of these is conducted in the sadhaka-deha, the external body, that is, the body in which one is presently situated. The second is conducted in a siddha-deha, or the desired form that is especially suitable for direct loving service to Krishna and which is meditated upon. In this second body, one follows the particular resident of Vraja whose quality of love for Krishna one has become ardently eager to attain. These residents of Vraja are those intimate associates of Krishna such as Radha, Lalita, Visakha, Rupa Manjari, etc., and those who follow them in this world are Rupa Goswami or Sanatan Goswami, etc.
In the spiritual or perfected body (siddha-deha), mental service (manasi seva) is to be performed in a spirit of obedience to Rupa Manjari and other such residents of Vraja, while the same spirit is to be demonstrated externally towards those devotees of Vraja such as Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami who set the standards of the practice.
Some people who comment on the words vraja-lokAnusArataH from the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu verse object that when the words “residents of Vraja” has been taken to mean Radha, Lalita and Visakha, etc., then the aspiring devotee should also perform exactly the same service to Krishna in his perfected body as they. This is not a logical proposal for this would go against the principle of adherence to the tradition in the practice of raganuga devotion as established by the great Lord Chaitanya. This attitude shows signs of the condemned ahaGgrahopAsanA, in which one identifies himself as an existing eternal associate of the Lord, or even as the Lord himself. The words “following the residents of Vraja” does not mean exact imitation. Following someone here means being obedient or subservient to or following in the tradition of that person. Thus the aspiring devotee should follow Radha, Lalita and other intimates of Krishna by awaiting their orders that will be carried out in the spiritual perfected body.
Once again, Narottama Das illustrates the principle in various songs found in the collection, Prarthana:
Lady of my life! When will you gaze upon me with mercy?In the ideal of a handmaiden to Radha as established by Chaitanya in his incarnation, one has to worship in the perfected body in obedience to Rupa Manjari. Without following her, there is no possibility of receiving orders directly from Radha or Lalita. Narottam Das sings:
Upon receiving your order, when will I bring
varieties of flowers and hear your and Krishna’s sweet words?
On the orders of Lalita, Visakha and all of your friends,
When will I serve your lotus feet?
When will Lalita give me the fan
so that I can cool you with a gentle breeze?
I have heard from the saints, everyone tells meThe devotee on the path of passion aspires to relish the sweet flavours of the activities of the son of the king of Vraja, but it must be emphasized that one cannot experience that world without first entering into the spirit of the acts of Chaitanya. In this connection, Krishna Das Kaviraj has written:
that one attains the feet of the Holy Couple
by the grace of Sri Rupa.
When will my guru and lord Lokanath take me with him
and give me to Sri Rupa? And Rupa will look at me,
saying, “So this is the new handmaiden.”
She will quickly command me, “Servant-girl! Come here!
Quickly tidy all these things needed for service.”
Afraid, I will remain standing behind Sri Rupa;
then the two of them will speak, looking upon my face.
Krishna’s actions are the ultimate nectar of the gods; their hundreds and hundreds of currents stream in every direction. Send the swan of your mind to swim on the lake of Chaitanya, the fathomless spring from which they arise. The devotees, like swans and geese, all sport in this lake in many moods. The devotee swan can always find the lotus stems of Krishna’s playful activities there, and he constantly ingests them.Prabodhananda Saraswati also writes:
One who has accumulated a great deal of merit, will findThe purport of this verse is that inasmuch as an aspirant realizes Chaitanya’s nature and his absorption in the mood of Radha, one will develop an understanding of Radha’s great love (mahA-bhAva), its extent and amazing influence. Through the Lord in his form of Chaitanya one will be able to fully understand the glory of Srimati Radharani’s love and thus he will develop true and deep attachment for her.
that as his devotion to Chaitanya’s lotus feet increases,
the ocean of nectar that is the lotus feet of Radha
manifests itself suddenly in his heart.
10.3 The conclusions expressed in the Daza-zlokI-bhASya
The following discussion is found in Radha Krishna Goswami’s comments on the first verse of the Daza-zlokI: “Brahma, Shiva and Ananta Sesha, etc., are not able to gain access to the service of the feet of the lover of Radha. That service is available only to the devotees who are dedicated to the pastimes of Vraja through intense eagerness and ardour.”
According to the Ujjvala Nilamani, the love of Radha for Krishna is exclusively of the erotic type. Thus, only devotional service following in her footsteps or in submission to her can be tad-bhAvecchAtmikA bhakti—the devotional mood of approval. Otherwise, the word gaòha or “intense,” which modifies laulya or “ardour” in this verse, becomes meaningless.
Because the love of Vrindavan’s other damsels for Krishna is somewhat less intense than that of Srimati Radharani, their love is called gauNa-kAmaika-rUpA or secondary love of the erotic type (whereas Radha’s is primary). Following in their footsteps is gauna or secondary tad-bhAvecchAtmikA bhakti. Thus the intimate service of Radha and Krishna in the groves of Vrindavan is only obtainable by those who have ardent eagerness or laulya (greed) for it. This greed is present in the manjaris alone. Only those devotees who have even greater affection for Radha than for Krishna, who are thus following the primary erotic devotional mood, whose spirit of devotion takes the name bhAvollAsA rati, are practicing devotion with “intense ardour” or lobha.
The process by which such ardour is produced is varied, but Radha Krishna Goswami gives a general outline in five divisions called
- svIya-sAdhana (“personal, individualized practice”),
- sajAtIya-sAdhana (“practice with a common base”),
- vijAtIya-sAdhana (“practice with a different basis”),
- taTastha-sAdhana (“neutral practice”),
- viruddha-sAdhana (“contradictory practices”).
10.31 SvIya-sAdhana (“personal, individualized practice”)
The mood of the manjaris is another level or division of the highest devotional sentiment that is called competent love or samartha rati. The manjaris are the friends of Srimati Radharani who follow her exclusively. The five kinds of friends were described previously. Nitya-sakhis and prana-sakhis are also known as manjaris. Sviya-sadhana means directly desiring with intense ardour to engage in a service for Radha and Krishna similar to that of these manjaris. The manjaris expertly serve them in the forest groves of Vrindavan without desiring for anything else. Amongst them Rupa Manjari is the chief. Therefore, to desire intensely for the devotional mood possessed by her is called direct or sviya-sadhana.
This sviya-sadhana is of five types:
- attachment to hearing topics of Radha Krishna and the manjaris; this is the best process for it is completely autonomous;
- viewing the beauty of the Lord and his Beloved’s forms;
- serving these forms in the external body;
- serving in the mentally conceived spiritual body. This second group of three is considered subordinate to the first because all are entirely dependent upon it;
- residing in Vraja. The effectiveness of this practice depends entirely on following one of the other processes along with it, therefore it is called lesser (kaniSTha).
The manjaris consider themselves to be the servants or handmaids of Srimati Radharani, who is the sole proprietor of their lives and hearts. Therefore, the best practice or process for achieving a mood of intense ardour for service to their Lordships in abeyance to Rupa and Rati Manjari is an enthusiasm to listen to those topics that foster that sense of identification, i.e., those in which the manjaris’ mutual affection, etc., are discussed.
Jiva Goswami has spoken of the inconceivable power of such topics in his Gopala-campu:
Krishna, the king and queen of the cowherd pasturesIn other words, whenever one thinks of that love or remembers that which one has heard about it, he is affected. By regularly hearing, chanting and meditating on the affection of the manjaris such as Rupa and Rati Manjari for one another and of their various activities filled with a great thirst for service, a desire awakens in him for service following in the same spirit. This thirst gradually increases through the practice of devotional service until it is transformed into ardent longing (gadha-laulya). The result of this longing is that the aspirant comes to directly obtain such service of Radha and Krishna in the forest gardens of Vrindavan.
and its other residents are of themselves incapable
of even slightly softening my cruel heart;
but even so, the love that they have for Krishna,
or that which he has for them, is so strong
that at every moment it turns that stone to liquid.
Hearing this, some fortunate persons become greedy.The words “hearing this” mean that over and over one must mentally cultivate the spirit of the manjaris who have the authority to participate in intimate service. As one listens constantly to their moods and the service that is conducive to their development, they become objectified in the mind of the practitioner. This again results in the greed, or ardent longing, which takes shape in the prayer, “May I desire only this kind of service.” The great teacher Sanatan Goswami called such service to Radha the most extraordinary, ultimate object of spiritual practice.The eternally perfect Rupa Manjari and her companions became Rupa, Sanatan and the other Goswamis at the time of Krishna’s incarnation as Chaitanya in Nabadwip. They churned the scriptures in order to write books on sacred rapture so that devotional aspirants would have texts that would help them quickly develop the ardent longing for intimate service to the Divine Couple. As Narottama Das wrote:
Following the mood of the gopis in greed,
one obtains the object of his practice,
service of Radha and Krishna in the forest gardens of Vrindavan.
There is no other way to obtain this object.
“These two great personalities described all the intricacies of devotional love in their books. They contain the sweet sacred rapture of the Divine Couple’s love, the hearing of which brings transcendental joy to the heart. The Divine Couple’s love is like gold that has been purified a hundred thousand times. Victory to Rupa and Sanatan who revealed this great love! Please bestow this wealth on me, and I will place it like a jewel around my neck.”
10.32 Sajatiya sadhana (“practice with a similar basis”)
Devotion in the erotic mood, i.e., that which seeks a personal erotic relation with Krishna in any of the three affections, competent, ×compromising or common, is called a “practice with a similar basis' for those who wish to attain to manjari-bhava. This is one of the categories of raganuga-bhakti as defined above.
- Primary amongst these is the desire to take up the spirit of competent affection (samartha rati). This is called kamanuga bhakti and, as previously described, has two divisions, that which seeks direct sexual relationship with Krishna and one which arises out of a desire for the feelings of the leading lady. In the latter case, there is a primary and secondary practice depending on whether one follows Radha or her rival Chandravali.
- The common affection (sadharani rati), although technically inferior, it is considered the next best practice because it has certain qualities similar to the attitude of the gopis, namely that of “otherness” (parakiyatva) and of strong sexual desire (kama).
- Due to their connection with Krishna through marriage, the compromising affection (samaïjasa rati) of the queens of Dvaraka has characteristics of relational devotion (sambandhanuga) that makes it an inferior practice in this category.
10.33 Vijatiya-sadhana (“practice with a different basis”)
Radha Krishna Goswami lists sambandhanuga-bhakti in this category. This refers to devotion in the spirit of the friends of Krishna, his servants and his parents and other seniors. Of these, the spirit of Krishna’s friends is the best because it can lead to the loving service to Krishna in his form as the lover of Radha. Following the spirit of Krishna’s servants is considered neutral, while it is considered detrimental to follow the spirit of his parents, despite its being superior to the previous two relations, if one wishes to attain to Krishna’s erotic pastimes.
10.34 Tatastha-sadhana (“neutral practice”)
Regulatory devotional service, i.e., the sixty-four practices described in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.43-152, is considered to be neutral. The sixty-four limbs of devotional service beginning with taking shelter of a spiritual master and ending with taking up residence in the abode of the Lord, Mathura, are practiced by the bodily senses as well as by the inner senses and mind. However, regulatory devotional service or vaidhi bhakti refers to the worship of the Lord according to the injunctions of scripture on the basis of a faith in his God-hood, simply with a view to fulfilling those injunctions. In short, devotional service performed without greed or ardent longing.
Single-minded devotion performed without reference to the injunctions of the scriptures, i.e, the srutis, the smritis, the Puranas, the Pancharatra, etc., is said to be disruptive. Therefore the difference between vaidhi bhakti and raganuga bhakti is that the impulse for the former is the injunction itself, while the impulse for the latter is greed (lobha) or intense ardour.
- Of the sixty-four devotional practices (vaidhi bhakti), hearing, chanting, remembering, meditating, serving, having the attitude of a servant, a spirit of friendliness, worship of the deity form by looking at it and touching it, etc., are considered to be superior. Because these devotional activities are capable of quickly awakening affection, they can easily fall into the category of raganuga bhakti. Scholars have accepted that all the sixty-four divisions of vaidhi bhakti referred to in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu are also acceptable for the practice of raganuga bhakti.
- Worship of the deity and offering praises are slower in awakening a dominant devotional mood and are thus considered less appropriate.
- Because they are even slower at awakening rati, inquiry about religious questions, showing respect to the sacred fig tree, etc., are considered to be inferior.
Those with an inclination for regulatory devotional service nearly always develop the desire for the mood of a servant to Krishna (dasya-bhava); their love is therefore tinged with knowledge of his great glories.
10.35 Viruddha-sadhana (“detrimental practices”)
Dry seeking after knowledge, false renunciation, and ritualistic activities prescribed in the Vedic literature are all practices that are detrimental to the attainment of pure love for Krishna.
- Believers in the featureless brahman are considered to be seekers of dry knowledge (jnana). They are indifferent to devotional activities and are only concerned with debate on logical and philosophical issues. By the mercy of Krishna and his devotees, such persons may occasionally become interested in pure devotion. For this reason, this is the best of the contradictory practices. When a jïanin becomes interested in the devotional path, he normally enters the peaceful mood and sometimes that of servitude. However, the practice of jïana is in radical opposition to the intimate service of the lover of Radha.
- False renunciation (phalgu-vairagya) refers to a lack of a appreciation for and abandonment of things that have a favorable relation to Krishna’s service, due to the mistaken idea that they have an illusory nature. Such renunciation is damaging to the heart of a person, making him dry and spiritless; even so, on occasion, such a person may fortuitously enter the path of devotion. For this reason, this the second best amongst contradictory practices.
- Those who are fixated on ritualistic practices are generally so attached to destructible material goals that there is no possibility of their getting the mercy of the Lord or his devotees.
10.4 The position of the Raga-vartma-candrika (1.13-14)
The discussion of the practice of raganuga bhakti in Vishwanath’s Raga-vartma-candrika is based on the three important verses of the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.294-6) that have been previously discussed in these pages:
kuryAd vAsaM vraje sadA
The aspiring devotee, fixed in hearing stories of Krishna and his intimate associates, those most dear ones who are his ideal, should live in Vraja while remembering them.
siddha-rUpeNa cAtra hi
One who desires the mood of a particular resident of Vraja, should serve Krishna both in his external physical body as well as in his perfect, spiritual body, following obediently that eternally perfect associate of the Lord.
yAny aGgAni ca tAny atra
- practices which are wholly identified with one’s desired mood (svAbhISTa-bhAva-maya-sAdhana),
- those which are related to one’s desired mood (svAbhISTa-bhAva-sambandhi),
- those which are favourable to the development of one’s desired mood svAbhISTa-bhAvAnukUla),
- those which are not unfavourable to one’s desired mood (svAbhISTa-bhAvAviruddha), and
- those which are inimical to the desired mood (svAbhISTa-bhAva-viruddha).
10.41 Practices identified with the desired mood
It is said in the Chaitanya Charitamrita:
svakiya parakiya bhede dvividha saàsthan ||
parakiya-bhave ati rasera ullasa |
vraja vina ihara anyatra nahi vas ||
The name of this sacred rapture is madhura, “the sweet.” It has two divisions, svakiya and parakiya. Sacred rapture is more exciting in the mood of the paramour; this particular variety exists nowhere but in Vraja.All of the Lord’s activities are eternal. After his activities in this world have been wound up, he continues to act as the gopis' paramour in the eternal abode. Evidence for this is found in the Bhagavata-purana (11.12.13). The love of the beauties of Vraj in this relation with Krishna as a paramour is unequalled anywhere; another name given to it is “devotion in the form of desire.” This devotion in the form of desire, kamarüpa bhakti, has a primary and secondary aspect: the love of Radha is primary, that of all the other gopis is secondary.
As previously described in this book, the desire to follow this devotion in the form of desire is called kamanuga bhakti. This is divided into devotion that “seeks erotic union” (sambhogecchamayi) and that which “approves the mood of the mistresses of Krishna” (tad-bhavecchamayi). The former of these is the mood of Krishna’s mistresses, the latter that of the friends of the mistress.
There are primary and secondary forms of this devotion also depending on which of Krishna’s mistresses is seen as the ideal. Those who are devoted to Radha, her friends, fall into five categories depending on their attitudes toward Radha and Krishna and their tendency to side with either one or the other. The prana-sakhis and nitya-sakhis are also known as manjaris. When Vishwanath talks about practices which are “identified with the desired mood” (svAbhISTa-bhAvamaya-sAdhana) he is referring to the intense eagerness or thirst to follow in the footsteps of these friends of Radha who have been identified as manjaris.
This has been expressed in Raghunatha Das’s prayer:
May my uncontrollable desires, which are like a wild horse, be reigned and subdued by the desire for service to Srimati Radharani, the beloved of Sri Krishna, which rides like the jockey on the horse of Srila Rupa Goswami’s mind. (i.e., May my mind be linked with the mind of Rupa Goswami in the desire for service to Radha.)
10.42 Practices related to one’s desired mood
Those practices which are material causes of the desired mood are called mood-related practices (bhAva-sambandhi). These include taking shelter of a guru who is engaged in the practice of devotion in that particular mood, meditating on and chanting Krishna’s or Radha’s or the Divine Couple’s ten or eighteen-syllable mantra. Rupa Goswami mentions in the Radha-krishna-ganoddesa-dipika that just as certain names of Krishna are great mantras, so too those of the eternal devotees who serve Krishna in their eternal forms can be seen as mantras that bring about the desired mood.
For example: “O lover of the gopis! Please take up residence in my heart and senses!” is a prayer with a name of Krishna which has a relation to the desired mood and is thus a “great mantra” or maha-mantra, one that is superior to any other. Hearing and remembering the names, forms, qualities and activities are material causes of the desired mood and so are to be considered obligatory activities on the path that follows passion. Though remembering is considered to be primary, it is understood to be dependent on chanting. By chanting is meant, according to the definition of the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, the loud utterance of the Lord’s names, form, virtues and activities, etc. In this age of quarrel, kirtana is the dominant form of devotional activity and has been described as such in all scriptures.
The Lord says that any vow performed in his name is austerity. Vows such as fasting on Ekadasi and Krishna’s birth ceremony (Janmashtami) are considered to be the instrumental or efficient cause of prema.
10.43 Practices favourable to the development of one’s desired mood
Wearing a necklace of tulasi beads, the tilaka markings of gopi-candana, stamping the body with the names of Krishna and the imprints of his feet, etc., are all activities that are favorable to the development of one’s desired mood, as are worship of the tulasi bush by circumambulation and prostrations, etc.
10.44 Practices not unfavourable to one’s desired mood
Offering respects to the cows, the sacred fig tree, the myrobalan tree, brahmanas can be considered helpful to the development of one’s desired goal because they are not unfavourable to it. Service to the Vaishnavas also has the same characteristics as these activities. All of these activities should be considered obligatory.
10.45 Practices inimical to the desired mood
Vishwanath Chakravarti ends his discourse on the various types of devotional practice by clarifying the question of cause and effect in devotion. He explains that since bhakti is itself eternal, conscious and blissful, it is unchanging; therefore, whenever bhakti is called the cause of prema this is simply an effort to explain a difficult subject matter. By way of example, he compares the relation between bhakti and prema to the use of the words vibhava, anubhava, sattvika and saïcari to designate rasa in the writings on aesthetics. In fact these are ingredients that combine to become delight. Similarly, when bhakti interpenetrates the devotee, it becomes prema, they are in fact one and the same thing.