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Discussions on the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Please place practical questions under the Miscellaneous forum and set this aside for the more theoretical side of it.

Priti - from Priti-sandarbha

Jagat - Sat, 17 Jul 2004 05:13:48 +0530
I've been struggling with a particular passage from Priti-sandarbha (61), part of which (in bold) is quoted in Madhurya Kadambini.

tad evaM bhagavat-prIter eva parama-puruSArthatA sthApitA | atha tasyAH svarUpa-lakSaNaM zrI-viSNu-purANe prahlAdenAtideza-dvArA darzitam—

yA prItir avivekAnAM viSayeSv anapAyinI |
tvAm anusmarataH sA me hRdayAn nApasarpatu || [vi.pu. 1.20.19] iti |

yA yal-lakSaNA sA tal-lakSaNA ity arthaH | na tu yA saiveti vakSyamANa-lakSaNaikyAt | tathApi—pUrvasyA mAyA-zakti-vRttimayatvena uttarasyAH svarUpa-zakti-mayatvena bhedAt | etad uktaM bhavati—prIti-zabdena khalu mut-pramoda-harsAnandAdi-paryAyaM sukham ucyate | bhAva-hArda-sauhRdAdi-paryAyA priyatA cocyate | tatra ullAsAtmako jJAna-vizeSaH sukham | tathA viSayAnukUlyAtmakas tad-AnukUlyAnugata-tat-spRhA-tad-anubhava-hetukollAsa-maya-jJAna-vizeSaH priyatA | ata evAsyAM sukhatve’pi pUrvato vaiziSTyam | tayoH pratiyogiNau ca krameNa duHkha-dveSau | ataH sukhasya ullAsa-mAtrAtmakatvAd Azraya eva vidyate, na tu viSayaH |

We have thus established that priti (love) for Krishna is the supreme goal of life. The essential or intrinsic characteristic (svarUpa-lakSaNa) is given in the Vishnu Purana:

"I think constantly of you, and so I pray that the priti I feel for you, the same constant priti that the indiscriminate feel for the sense objects, may never leave my heart."

Here, the idea is that the same characteristics found in the priti of those lacking awareness are also found in the priti for Krishna, but not that they are exactly the same, as will be clarified here. The former is a manifestation of the functions of the illusory material nature, the latter of the internal potency.

The following must be said: The word priti is generally considered to be a synonym for happiness, joy, delight or pleasure. On the other hand, the word priyatA, which is derived from the same root, is a synonym of "affection, closeness, friendship, dearness, etc." So, priyatA is taken to mean a state of consciousness (ullAsa-maya-jJAna-vizeSaH) that is made up of a favorable attitude toward its object (viSayAnukUlyAtmakaH), and which is made particularly joyful due to the hope of attaining this object (tat-spRhA), as well as from experiencing it (tad-anubhava). So although this priti is also a state of happiness, it is distinct from happiness as such. The opposite of happiness is sadness, whereas the opposite of love is hate. So whereas happiness only has a subject, but not an object as such, love has both a subject and an object. [i.e., ordinarily happiness does not take into consideration the pleasure of another.]

In other words, devotion or love for Krishna means acting favourably toward him, or seeking his pleasure. Following this, the wish to attain Krishna’s association awakens in the devotee. Then, as a consequence of this desire, the devotee experiences the object of his devotion. The combination of these three produces a joyful state of consciousness that is known as prIti.

Ananta Dasji explains: “The purport of this [highlighted] passage is as follows: the pure devotion that gives rise to prema has three postures: First, the desire to give pleasure to Krishna, or the object of devotion, is the essence or life of bhakti. In other words, a devotee seeks nothing other than service to Krishna, by which is meant the effort to bring him pleasure. Now this gives rise to a question: Does a devotee then not desire to attain Krishna? In answer to this, Jiva names bhakti's second posture: The desire to attain Krishna does indeed appear in the devotee’s heart, but only to give pleasure to the Lord, not himself.

"One may object: If the devotee does not seek bliss, he will not attain it; and since bliss is the goal of human life, bhakti cannot be called a puruSArtha. The response to this objection is given in priti's third aspect. Even though a devotee does not seek his own happiness, through serving Krishna's lotus feet, he experiences the Lord's sweetness, and thus attains a spontaneous, incomparable bliss, for Krishna is the personification of joy. All this takes place as a result of bhagavat-prIti, or prema-bhakti."