Articles and essays on devotional topics belong to this section.
Bhaktivinoda on Siddha Pranali - some references from his writings
Madhava - Tue, 27 Aug 2002 10:39:01 +0530
A while ago I collected some references from Bhaktivinoda about guru-given ekadasa-bhava and siddha-pranali. The following passages will leave the reader without a doubt over the conception of Bhaktivinoda in this regard. Ekadasa-bhava and Siddha-pranali are not something which are to be reflected on only at the time of perfection, rather they are an essential part of raganuga-sadhana.
Madhava - Tue, 27 Aug 2002 10:54:34 +0530
Bhaktivinoda's Caitanya Siksamritam, 6.5 (p. 237-238):
- - - -
"If anybody possesses greed for the path of raganuga, he will pray to his good religious preceptor, who, after examining his relish, will determine the type of bhajana suited to him and give him acquaintance of his siddha-deha. According to this acquaintance, the aspirant or the person in the ascending stage of prema will live in the company of guru, and getting all acquaintance from him, will practice bhajana daily with utmost care and eagerness, situated in his own position.
Remembering his transcendental nama, rupa etc. bestowed by the guru again and again, he will possess identification for the same. This identification is the knowledge of his true self and is called svarupa siddhi. Qualities and lila which have been cited before is blossomed in this place.
The significance of this type of sadhana is to enter into the transcendental lila of Sri Radha Krishna and remembering Their eternal name, beauty and quality by application of the aspirant's relationship with Them in consonance with his own name and form, bestowed by Sri Guru."
- - - -
Translation by Bijoy Krishna Rarhi, published by Shree Gaudiya Math, Chennai, 1983/1998 (4th edition)
Unfortunately I don't have the original Bengali at my disposal. Nevertheless, I have taken the liberty for editing the following passages:
"...situated in his own place." replaced with "...situated in his own position." because the text obviously speaks of the aspirant's eventually becoming established in his own spiritual position instead of being situated in a particular place. Also:
"...he will possess vanity for the same." replaced with "...he will possess identification for the same.", and "This vanity is the knowledge..." replaced with "This identification is the knowledge..."
The use of the word "vanity" remained a complete mystery to me. It appears that the translator misunderstood the meaning of the word. The only dictionary meaning (from Merriam Webster) which would come close to a reasonable meaning is the word's third meaning, "inflated pride in oneself or one's appearance", which resembles the word "abhimana". Perhaps this is an old usage of the word I am not familiar with.
At any rate, the Thakura makes two noteworthy points here:
1. The first acquaintance with siddha-deha comes from the active revelation of the spiritual preceptor instead of in a realization attained at a distant future stage of advancement;
2. Acquaintance with siddha-deha precedes engagement in raganuga bhajana, and identification with it will be attained in the course of bhajan.
Madhava - Tue, 27 Aug 2002 11:05:50 +0530
Harinama Cintamani, chapter fifteen, verses 59-60 and Bhaktivinoda's footnotes:
- - - -
bhAva sAdhane paJca-dazA
ei ekAdaza bhAva sampUrNa sAdhane
paJca dazA lakSya haya sAdhaka jIvane
zravaNa varaNa Ara smaraNa Apana
sampatti e paJca-vidha dazAya gaNana
Five stages in the cultivation of the cultivation of the gopi identity
The complete realization of these eleven aspects of identity
develops through five stages experienced in the life of the practitioner.
These five stages are the following: (1) hearing, (2) acceptance,
(3) remembering, (4) attainment and (5) full possession.
NOTE: As one progresses in the cultivation of one’s spiritual identity, five stages are progressively crossed. These are shravana-dasha “the state of hearing,” varaNa-dasha “the state of accepting,”, smaraNa-dasha “the state of remembering,” Apana-dasha “the state of adoption,” sampatti-dasha “the state of full possession.”
sei gopI-bhAvAmRte jAnra lobha haya |
veda-dharma-loka tyaji se kRSNe bhajaya ||
vraja-lokera kona bhAva layA yei bhaje |
bhAva-yogya deha pAiA kRSNa pAya vraje ||
“One who has a strong desire to taste the nectar of the gopis’ loving mood abandons all consideration of the religious principles of the Vedas. He cares not for public opinion, but simply worships Krishna... Whoever worships Krishna in any one of the moods of the residents of Vraja will attain a suitable spiritual body to serve Him there.” (CC 2.8.219, 221)
With these words, Ramananda Raya taught that any practitioner who wishes to cultivate the ujjvala-rasa absolutely must take a gopi body. When one hears these pastimes of Lord Krishna and becomes attracted to this particular mood, one must approach a genuine spiritual master to learn these eleven aspects of his spiritual identity. Hearing the spiritual master delineate this identity in theory is called shravana-dasha (the stage of hearing). When the disciple eagerly accepts this identification, that is called varana-dasha (the stage of accepting). When she cultivates this mood and identity by meditating on rasa, in all its aspects, then she is situated on the stage of remembering (smarana-dasha). When she has fully assimilated that identity, which has now been made fully clear, she has reached the state called apana-dasha or prapti-dasha (the stage of attainment). Finally, when she becomes entirely separated from this earthly existence and becomes eternally fixed in her longed-for spiritual form, she has attained the sampatti-dasha (the stage of full possession).
- - - -
The above is cited from Jagadananda's translation in the Translations-section
. In the passage above, Bhaktivinoda states that for the one who becomes attracted to the mood of the gopis, he must
approach a guru to learn about his ekadasa-bhava.
The Thakura also places hearing about one's ekadasa-bhava on the first step of his theory of five-fold evolution in raganuga sadhana.
Madhava - Tue, 27 Aug 2002 11:13:05 +0530
Further notes from Bhaktivinoda's Harinama Cintamani, chapter 15, verses 64-68 with Bhaktivinoda's own footnotes.
- - - - -
krame varaNa dazA prApti
rAdhA-kRSNa aSTa-kAla yei lIlA kare
tAhAra zravaNe lobha haya ataHpare
lobha ha-ile guru-pade jijJAsA udaya
kemane pAiba lIlA kaha mahAzaya
gurudeva kRpA kari karibe varNana
lIlA-tattve ekAdaza bhAva-saGghaTana
prasanna ha-iyA prabhu karibe Adeza
ei bhAve lIlA-madhye karaha praveza
zuddha rUpe siddha bhAva kariyA zravaNa
sei bhAva svIya citte karibe varaNa
Advancing to the stage of acceptance
As the aspiring devotee hears about Radha and Krishna’s aSTa-kAliya-lIlA,
he starts to feel an intense desire one to join Them in Their activities.
Possessed by this desire, he asks the spiritual master,
“O great soul, what must I do to attain these pastimes?”
The spiritual master then mercifully describes to his disciple
the eleven aspects and how they relate to the Lord’s lila.
Pleased with his disciple, the spiritual master then orders him,
“Now go and enter the Lord’s pastimes in this identity.”
On hearing of his eternal spiritual identity with a pure attitude,
the aspirant accepts it and takes it into his heart.
NOTE: When on examining the disciple’s natural tendencies, the spiritual master verifies that he truly has the qualifications for serving in the sringara-rasa, he informs him of the eternal form that he should cultivate as a manjari in Lalita’s sub-group of Srimati Radharani’s group of gopis. Then the spiritual master explains the mutual relation between the eleven components of that spiritual identity necessary for the practice and the object of that practice, the pastimes the Lord enjoys throughout the eight periods of the day and night (aSTa-kAlIya-lIlA). He especially shows the disciple his spiritual name, form, qualities, and principle service.
Furthermore, the spiritual master tells the disciple in which home in Vraja she will take birth and with which cowherd she will be married. He then goes on to explain how, as a gopi, she will reject the conventional morality of the Vedas and become a protected servant under the tutelage of one of the Lord’s prominent mistresses, a yutheshwari, whom she will serve through the daily cycle of pastimes. The aspirant then accepts this identity and enters the next stage, that of contemplation, smaraNa-dazA.
This is the aspirant’s actual birth as a gopi in Vraja. One should here remember and follow the words of the Bhagavatam: yAH zrutvA tat-paro bhavet "When one hears these pastimes of the Lord, one becomes absorbed in them.”
- - - - -
Here Bhaktivinoda elaborates on that which is to be revealed by the guru to the disciple to help the aspirant engage in raganuga sadhana proper.
Another interesting point to be noted in the text is that contemplation of astakaliya-lila should be done with proper acquaintance with one's siddha-deha to absorb a proper mood of service during the meditation.
Madhava - Thu, 17 Oct 2002 02:22:12 +0530
From the following passage it can be clearly understood that the stage of hearing about one's spiritual identity comes prior to smarana-dasha, or the stage of remembrance. According to both Bhaktivinoda and Jiva, the stage of remembrance has five successive stages (smarana, dharana, dhyana, dhruvanusmriti and samadhi), and on the first of these stages meditation is still rather interrupted and unwholesome. However, reading from Visvanatha's Madhurya Kadambini, we know that the stage of asakti is characterized by uninterrupted meditation, which is akin to the later stages of smarana-dasha, namely dhyana (detailed meditation), dhruvanusmriti (continous meditation) and finally samadhi (full absorption) and svarupa-siddhi along with the full manifestation of bhava-bhakti.
Jaiva Dharma, Chapter Forty
Sampatti-vichar: The Greatest Good Fortune
Vijaya Kumar decided that by hearing about the Lord’s pastimes in Vraja, one gradually attains the greatest good fortune. Thinking in this way, he posed a question.
Vijaya Kumar: O master, I would like to know how many stages there are between first hearing about the Lord and finally reaching full identity with the spiritual form.
Goswami: There are five stages: 1. zravaNa-dazA (the stage of hearing), 2 varaNa-dazA (accepting), 3 smaraNa-dazA (remembering), 4 bhAvApana-dazA (full assimilation) and 5. prema-sampatti-dazA (the stage of full possession of love).
Vijaya Kumar: Please describe the stage of hearing.
Goswami: It must first be stated that as soon as a jiva develops faith in hearing about Krishna, his indifference to Krishna disappears and he yearns to hear more and more about Him. Such a soul intently hears about Krishna from a devotee more advanced than himself, as is described in Srimad Bhagavatam (4.29.40)—
tasmin mahan-mukharitA madhubhic-caritra-
pIyUSa-zeSa-saritaH paritaH sravanti
tA ye pibanty avitRSo nRpa gADha-karNais
tAn na spRzanty azana-tRD-bhaya-zoka-mohAH
“In a place where pure devotees live, the vibrations of Krishna’s pastimes flow all around like rivers of nectar. Whoever drinks of this nectar through intent ears never again feels thirst, O King, and will never again be touched by hunger, thirst, fear, lamentation or illusion.”
Vijaya Kumar: Sometimes people not interested in devotional life hear about Krishna. What is the nature of such activity?
Goswami: There is a great deal of difference between the hearing of a person who is still in the stage of indifference to spiritual life and that of one who is introspective and interested in such life. The former takes place purely accidentally, while the latter takes place as a result of faith. The accumulation of devotional piety (bhakty-unmukhI sukRti) leads to the awakening of faith after many lifetimes. One attains the stage of hearing only after listening to talk of Krishna from the mouths of great devotees. The zravaNa-dazA is of two kinds, one that follows the appropriate sequence (krama-zuddha), and that which does not (krama-hIna).
Vijaya Kumar: Tell me what is meant by the stage of hearing out of sequence.
Goswami: When one listens to Lord Krishna’s pastimes in a manner without a sense of personal connectedness (asaMlagna-bhAve), that is called hearing out of sequence. When those who have no resolute determination hear about Krishna’s pastimes, they are said to have no sense of personal connectedness. One does not see their interconnectedness of all the pastimes and so does not experience rasa.
Vijaya Kumar: What is the stage of hearing according to the proper sequence?
Goswami: When a determined individual hears Krishna’s pastimes with a sense of personal connectedness, then it is capable of eliciting the experience of rasa. Hearing according to the proper sequence means listening to Lord Krishna’s aSTa-kAliya-nitya-lIlA (regular pastimes in the eight periods of the day) and His birth pastime and other naimittika-lIlA (occasional pastimes) separately. When one reaches this particular level of spiritual advancement, it is absolutely necessary to listen to Hari katha in the proper sequence. By so doing, the beauty of Krishna’s pastimes becomes evident and the tendency to engage in raganuga bhakti arises in the heart of the hearer. He then thinks, “Oh! How wonderful is Subala’s mood of friendship with Krishna. I would like to serve Krishna in the same mood as he!” This tendency is called lobha (greed or intense desire). Worshiping Krishna by greedily following the mood of the residents of Vraja is called raganuga bhakti. The example I have given is of such devotion in the mood of friendship; however, the same raganuga tendency can be followed in each of the four rasas begining with servitude.
By the mercy of our Lord Chaitanya, you are qualified for the mood of romantic love. This means that you have developed a yearning to become like the beautiful gopis of Vraja after seeing the kind of service they perform. This yearning alone has brought you to the path that leads to the attainment of one’s spiritual identity. In fact, on this particular spiritual path, the stage of hearing really means the conversation that takes place between the spiritual master and the disciple.
Vijaya Kumar: How does one attain the perfection of the hearing stage?
Goswami: When one realizes Lord Krishna’s pastimes’ eternal nature and feels their charm arising out of their pure transcendental character, one becomes agitated with the intense desire to enter those pastimes. The spiritual master then reveals to the disciple the eleven bhavas appropriate for his practice that we spoke about previously. When the disciple’s mental state is brought into harmony with his preferences for particular pastimes, then the stage of hearing is complete. With great enthusiasm, he moves on to the accepting stage.
Vijaya Kumar: O master, what is the accepting stage?
Goswami: The eagerness of the mind is given order by the eleven aspects of the spiritual identity and fixed in the divine pastimes. Weeping, the disciple falls before his spiritual master’s feet. The spiritual master’s original form as a sakhi manifests to the disciple, as well as the disciple’s form as her maidservant. The cowherd girls are all anxious to serve Krishna, and the spiritual master is one of these beautiful ladies of Vraja who has attained her highest aspiration in that service. The disciple then speaks words that follow Srila Raghunath Das Goswami’s mood in the PremAmbhoja-marandAkhya-stava-rAja (11-12):
tvAM natvA yAcate dhRtvA tRNaM dantair ayaM janaH
sva-dAsyAmRta-sekena jIvayAmuM suduHkhitam
na muJcec charaNAyAtam api duSTaM dayAmayaH
ato gAndharvike hA hA muJcainaM naiva tAdRzam
“Please bring back to life this very unhappy person, who is bowing down before you with straw in her mouth, by sprinkling her with the nectar of your servitorship.
“O Gandharvika! A truly compassionate person will not reject even a rascal if he surrenders to him. Please, therefore, never abandon this person, who is likewise surrendered to you.
In other words, “O beloved friend of Radharani! I am a most miserable creature, yet I have fallen down before you with straw between my teeth to beg you to sprinkle me with the ambrosia of your service and bring me back to life. A merciful person does not abandon one who has taken shelter of him. Since I am surrendered to you, please do not abandon me, for I wish to serve the Divine Couple of Vraja under your direction.”
This stage of acceptance takes exactly this form. Then, in his form as a sakhi, the spiritual master bestows residence in Vraja on his disciple and orders him to take shelter of Krishna’s holy name and meditate on His pastimes. The spiritual master then encourages the disciple, saying, “Soon you will attain what your heart desires.”
The entire 40th chapter can be read here .