Swami Sivanada on RasaKreeda
Gopis’ love for Krishna was not a physical passion. It was supreme love. For them Lord Krishna was the living God. He was the moving image of the Supreme Lord. Their faith was intense. When they thought of Lord Krishna they forgot their worldly activities. They were merged in the love of Krishna.
Lord Krishna attracted their hearts from His very boyhood. He was a very beautiful child. He was beauty incarnate. So the Gopis began to love Krishna from His very birth. They caressed and loved Krishna as they would do their own children. The Gopa girls of Brindavan loved Krishna as their own brother. A sister loves her younger brother. She fondles him and plays with him. Such was the relationship between the Gopis and Krishna.
Gradually the love for Krishna assumed the shape of intense Prema (divine love). They thought of Krishna alone when they churned the curd, when they took water from the well. They sang His praises when they took bath. They remembered Him when they took food and at all times. Their minds became Krishnamaya by incessant practice of Smarana (remembrance) of the Lord.
It is possible that when the Gopis grew of age they might have been moved by physical love also, as it is the case with every animated being. Sleep, food and sex are common to all living beings.
But Lord Krishna knew the hearts of the Gopis. He turned the hearts of the Gopis to the proper direction by completely eradicating lust from their minds. It is with this purpose in view that Lord Krishna played the Rasa Lila with the Gopis.
At the time of Rasa Lila, He multiplied Himself into so many Krishnas. The Gopis were struck with wonder and amazement. All their idea of physical love entirely vanished due to this miracle. They witnessed the showers of flowers poured from the skies by the Devas. They saw the Vidyadharas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Charanas, etc., singing the praise of the Lord. They enjoyed the blissful company of the Lord at the time of Rasa Lila, a bliss millions of times greater than the bliss they would enjoy through sense objects. They enjoyed the bliss of Samadhi or union with God.
‘This is this, this is that’—this conception of difference is only the delusion of a man whose mind is distracted and uncontrolled and is not united to the Lord. The man of uncontrolled mind falls into the error that there is plurality of objects. This error leads to merit and demerit, or right and wrong, good and evil. The uncontrolled Jiva, who is bewildered and deluded by this diversity created by the natural outward tendency of the senses, fancies himself as a separate unit in the world and begins to entertain desires and enjoys sensual objects. Duty, non-performance of duty and the performance of forbidden acts (Karma, Akarma and Vikarma) result from this delusion of diversity caused by the mind, senses and intellect. The differences of action, inaction and evil action pertain only to the man who has notions of merit and demerit, right and wrong, good and bad. It is the delusion born of the conception of differences, that causes the experiences or notions of right and wrong, good and bad, merit and demerit. The Vedas speak of the performance of prescribed work, the non-performance of prescribed work, and the performance of prohibited work, for those only who have got the ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, merit and demerit. One should abandon the sense of egoism, control the mind and the senses and behold everything in the universe as Brahman. One should realise the essence of one’s own nature, bliss and harmony with the universe and behold the wide-spread universe in the Self and the Self in the Supreme Lord.
He who has risen above good and bad does not refrain from doing what is prohibited from a sense of fear of evil consequences nor does he do the prescribed duty in the hope that it will conduce to merit; but he acts only like a child. The sense of right and wrong will be natural in him independently of scriptural teachings. He has destroyed all egoism. The laws of the world do not affect him. He has no more duties to perform. He is above Karma and Karmas cannot touch him. He may, for the instruction of the world, perform works or refrain from forbidden acts. He will exceed the limits of both right and wrong.
This wonderful and unprecedented experience made the Gopis firmly believe that Krishna was not an ordinary mortal. They had firm conviction that Krishna was the Lord Himself, though sometimes they saw Him as the son of Nanda and Yasoda only. The idea of Lord Krishna as God was not strong in them till the time of Rasa Lila due to the Yoga Maya of the Lord.
The song of the Gopis (Gopi Gitam) in Bhagavata (Skanda X-Ch. 31) bears ample proof of the fact that they regarded Krishna as the Supreme Lord. They got rid of the least tinge of sex-passion in them and were attached to the Lord by the bonds of intense Prema (divine love).
The superhuman miracles of Krishna in his childhood made them believe in his Omniscience and Omnipotence. Would there be a worse fool in this world who would have lower passion towards the Lord who is the bestower of all desires of men? The Lord is the supreme cause for all happiness that men experience. Having seen Him face to face, what greater fool is there who could crave for lower pleasures. Would anybody crave for black sugar (Gur) when sugarcandy is available in plenty?
From this it is clear that the love of Gopis towards Krishna was of a divine nature. They had Ananya Bhakti and they were free from all lower and base desires for sexual enjoyment.
Secret of Rasa Lila
Rasa Lila is divine sport (Kreeda) with the devotees for bringing about their union with the Lord through Prema or pure divine love. Rasa is the sweetest juice of Prema. It is the manifestation of divine love or higher emotion which takes the devotee to the magnanimous height of holy communion with the Lord.
Lord Krishna’s Rasa Lila is the mystery of mysteries. It is the secret of secrets. It is not a matter for intellectual discussion. It is a holy matter for silent meditation for devotees. It should not be divulged to insincere critics or those who have no devotion to the Lord. It should be studied with reverence and faith. It contains Madhurya Rasa, the crowning glory of Bhakti, which leads to absolute self-surrender and absorption in the Lord.
Sri Krishna performed the Rasa Lila to destroy carnality by means of pure love or Prema. He taught humanity through the Rasa Lila how to convert passion into dispassion and pure love, and how to wean the mind from the sexual Vasanas and instincts. He showed that through Madhurya Rasa one can effect total self-surrender or Atma-Nivedan, and attain Sayujya or absorption in the Lord or husband of our hearts.
Rasa Lila was a sport (Kreeda) which was meant to build up the faith, to strengthen spirituality towards holiness, to improve the minds of the Gopis in particular and humanity in general.
Krishna was ten years old when he performed the Rasa Lila. During the dance, the Gopis saw Krishna only, within, without, around and everywhere. They forgot all about their homes, husbands, children and parents. Their hearts melted in Lord Krishna, the Supreme Soul. The fire of devotion brought about a fusion of hearts. The glue of Prema cemented their hearts with Krishna. The Gopis were not ordinary women. They were exalted personages.
The five chapters of the Bhagavata which describe the Rasa Lila are the 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd and 33rd of the tenth Skanda. When Rasa Kreeda commenced, Krishna disappeared in the course of it to put down the pride of Gopis. Gopis went in search of Sri Krishna. They assembled on the sands of the Yamuna expecting His return. Gopis sang song (Gopi Gitam). Sri Krishna suddenly appeared in the midst of complaining Gopis. Sri Krishna danced with Gopis.
The tenth Skanda of the Bhagavata is regarded as the quintessence of the whole of the Bhagavata. The five chapters on Rasa Lila are rightly considered to be the very quintessence of the whole of the tenth Skanda. You cannot find in the whole range of the vast Sanskrit literature a treatise like the Rasa-panchadhyayi of Srimad Bhagavata. These chapters are soul-stirring, sublime and mystical. They are extremely profound and subtle in their philosophical contents.
He who has perfect faith in the Sastras and the existence of God, who is devoted to his Guru, who has controlled his passions and the senses, who is endowed with purity, dispassion, discrimination, who yearns for the Darshan of the Lord and communion with Him, and who lives in the midst of devotees and sages is a proper Adhikari or qualified person to study Rasa Lila. For him alone the mysteries of Rasa Lila and its divine significance and import will be truly revealed, like the Amalaka fruit in the palm of the hand.
For a passionate man, whose heart is surcharged with carnality and sexual Vasanas, who has allowed his senses to run riot, who does not wish to rise above the life in the senses, who does not believe in supersensuous things and higher superconscious divine life of bliss and ecstasy, these five chapters which deal with the divine Lilas of Lord Krishna are nothing but some kind of profane literature. He will not be benefited in the least by the study of this portion of Bhagavata.
MUTUAKL DEPENDENCE BETWEEN BHAKTI AND JNANA
by Swami Sivananda
We are often confronted with the puzzling question: "Are Jnana and Bhakti conflicting with each other?" My answer is emphatically "No. " There is in fact, an inter-relationship between these two, the one supplementing the other. Bhakti is not at all antagonistic to Jnana. There is undoubtedly a mutual dependence between the two. Both lead to the same destination.
Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga are not incompatibles like acid and alkali. One can combine Ananya Bhakti (one-pointed devotion) with Jnana Yoga. The fruit of Bhakti Yoga is Jnana. Highest Love (Para Bhakti) and Jnana are one. Perfect knowledge is love. Perfect love is knowledge. Sri Sankara, the Advaita Kevala Jnani, was a great Bhakta of Lord Hari, Hara and Devi. Jnanadev of Alandi, another great Yogi-Jnani, was a Bhakta of Lord Krishna. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa worshipped Kaali and obtained Jnana through Swami Totapuri, his Advaita Guru. Gouranga Maha Prabhu (Lord Chaitanya) of Bengal was a fine Advaita-Vedantic scholar and yet he danced in the streets singing Hari's Names. It behoves therefore that Bhakti and Jnana can be combined with much advantage.
Action, emotion and intelligence are the three horses that are linked to this body-chariot. They should work in perfect harmony or unison. Then only the chariot will run smoothly. There must be integral development. You must have the head of Sankara, the heart of Buddha and the hand of Janaka. Vedanta without devotion is quite dry. Jnana without Bhakti is not perfect. How can one, who has realised his oneness with Atman remain without serving the world which is Atman only? Devotion is not divorced from Jnana but Jnana is rather exceedingly helpful to its perfect attainment.
What is the real relationship between Gopis and Shri Krishna ? The Nature of Gopis' Love There is a great philosophy in this. He taught them: "O Gopis! Have no attachment for anything. Give up the body-idea and sex-idea and attain to the bodiless and sexless Immortal Atman." In the love of the Gopis, there is no absence of passion; of course, that passion has withdrawn itself from all other objects of worldly attraction, and crossing the barriers of all allurements in the shape of liberation and worldly enjoyments, which are so difficult to surmount, has centered round Sri Krishna alone. The mind, the senses, the vital energy—all that the Gopis possessed—belonged to Sri Krishna. Whether in this world or in the next, the Gopis knew no one else than Sri Krishna. Whether awake or asleep, at work or at recreation, whether engaged in dressing, toilet, in music, or in conversation, they thought of nothing else but making Sri Krishna happy. It is only when they found Sri Krishna pleased and gratified that these Gopis, who had no personal desires, enjoyed a delight whose sweep was almost infinite. The Lord Himself said:
O Arjuna, the Gopis take care of their bodies simply becase they regard them as instruments of service to Me. Besides the Gopis there is none who is the object of My secret and profound Love.
The question may be raised here—"What is the meaning of rendering happiness to God, who is Himself the ocean of happiness, who is solidified Knowledge and Bliss? Does God derive His happiness only through the Gopis? Is not God Himself the source and fountainhead of all happiness? No doubt He is. And Sri Radha is nothing else than the embodiment of the Bliss aspect of the All-powerful God, who through the music of His flute draws that Aspect of His own, separated for sport, towards Himself. This aspect (Bliss) of God attended by Her subordinate forces is constantly being drawn towards the Lord, who tasting that Bliss distributes the same among those very forces—His beloved devotees. When the music of the flute—the Master's Call—enters the ears of the devotee, he forgets his hearth and home, and sacrificing every interest that may bind him runs like one possessed and intoxicated to make his beloved Lord happy. The Lord accepts this offering of his Love, and sanctifying it with His Divine touch returns it to the devotee. When a person goes before a mirror after beautifying his person, the beauty reflected in the mirror is not retained by the mirror but always comes back to the person, and he himself becomes the enjoyer of that beauty. In a similar way the All-Beautiful Lord accepts the offering of beauty of the Gopis and gives satisfaction to their desire, namely that He should accept their physical service and make Himself happy through sports of Love with them. God enjoys that bliss Himself and returns it to them as His own offering after augmenting it to an enormous extent. The Love of the Gopis had the distinction that they possessed not the slightest desire for self-gratification. They did not entertain the thought of personal happiness even in imagination. Finding Sri Krishna happy through their association they remained merged in the ocean of bliss, whether awake or in sleep. There was not stain of lust in this pure Love of the Gopis; it was as spotless as the sun in a cloudless sky; it was purely Divine and supernatural. Bringing out this difference between Kama (lust) and Prema (Love) Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita says:
The object of Kama is enjoyment through gratification of the senses, while Prema has the pleasre of Sri Krishna for its object. Social conventions, scriptural injunctions, and other Karma (activity), sense of decorum, patience, comfort of body and happiness of mind, renouncing all these, they take to the worship of Sri Krishna. They (the Gopis) pursue this Prema for the pleasures of Sri Krishna (not for their own gratification). Therefore, there is a world of difference between Kama and Prema. Kama is pitch darkness, Prema is the brilliance of the sun in a cloudless sky. ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; This difference between Kama and Prema is very wide and vital. We mortals, deluded by the attraction of the senses, forget this vital difference and, mistaking Kama for Prema, fall an easy prey to our propensities. Kama is honey mixed with poison, while Prema is Divine, celestial nectar. While Kama gives place immediately to pain, Prema through every experience of its pang gives the taste of nectarean bliss. In Kama there is satisfaction and gratification of the senses, whereas in Prema there is absorption of Self, and an evergrowing desire for seeing the beloved happy. The gratification of senses through satisfaction of Kama (lust), though appearing sweet in the beginning, is painful in consequence; whereas Prema (Love), though it knows no satiety, is the source of eternal and Supreme Bliss. Kama is intermittent and spasmodic, while Prema is continuous and uninterrupted. Kama has a tendency to subside, but Prema grows eternally. There is thirst for sense-enjoyment in Kama, while in Prema the senses and their enjoyments are entirely forgotten. The object of Kama is gratification of.the lower self through sense-enjoyment, while in Prema there is complete renunciation of the world and complete forgetfulness of self.
True Love itself kills the lustful propensity. Although the devotee who has realized this Love would look upon his eagerness to see the Beloved happy as an expression of desire—and the senses, mind, and intellect being all directed towards Love, such eagerness naturally goes by the name of desire—yet this type of pure and unadulterated Love has no tinge of carnality about it. The Gautamiya Tantra says:
Although the love of the Gopis goes by the name of Kama (lust), in reality it is not so. Great devotees and Mahatmas like Uddhava yearn for this Love, miscalled Lust.
For the Gopis had absolutely no desire for gratification of their own senses. Knowing Sri Krishna to be God Himself, they sought to make Him happy by offering their entire being to Him. Referring to these Gopis, who had absolutely no attraction for worldly enjoyments and who had merged their very existence in Sri Krishna, Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita says:
The object of Kama is to gratify one's senses. To render happiness to Krishna is the object of the adorable sentiment of the Gopis. The Gopis have no desire of happiness through gratification of senses; it is for the happiness of Krishna that they engage themselves in sports. The consideration of their own happiness or suffering does not weigh with the Gopis at all; what they do, they do for the sake of happiness of Sri Krishna. Renouncing everything else, they cherish stainless Love for the happiness of Sri Krishna.
One who entertains pure love for Sri Krishna for the sake of His happiness—regarding his body, mind, wealth, beauty, youth and all that is enjoyable in this world and the next as objects of Sri Krishna's enjoyment—is said to have attained Gopi-consciousness. ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; The sentiment of sweetness is predominant in this Gopi-consciousness. The Rasas (sentiments) are five in number—(1) the sentiment of quietism, (2) the sentiment of service, (3) the sentiment of friendship, (4) the sentiment of parental affection, and (5) the sentiment of wifely love. Each of these is of two kinds—worldly or Divine. That is to say, worldly sentiments are five in number, as stated above, and Divine sentiments are likewise five. Among these, the sentiment of wifely love is the highest; for the four other sentiments, namely, those of quietism, service, friendship and parental affection, are covered by this. Inasmuch as it is the noblest of all sentiments, it is the most delicious, hence it is called "sweet." Even so, among Divine sentiments the sentiment of wifely love is the foremost of all. In the sentiments of quietism and service, the prevailing idea of the devotee is, "God is great and glorious, while I am humble and poor. God is the Lord and Master, and I am His slave." There is some amount of aloofness in this sentiment as well as an element of shyness and fear. But in the sentiments of friendship, parental affection, and wifely love, our relation with the Divine is progressively more and more intimate. He is our darling, our most beloved Lord. The Lord here forgets His supreme greatness, casts a veil over his Divinity and is always present before the devotee either as friend, son, or the beloved Lord. In these sentiments there is no place for prayer, no expectation of return. How can there be any prayer before one who is dearest and nearest to us? All that belongs to Him is our own. Even among these, the sentiment of wifely love is supreme. The two other sentiments of friendship and parenthood are fully represented therein. Here there is unremitting service of the Lord, so unremitting that the devotee never feels tired of it; for that service is not rendered to the Lord and Master, but to the dearest object of one's heart. In the happiness of the beloved the wife feels infinite joy. She never feels that she has rendered enough service to her Lord; for the greater the happiness of the beloved, the greater becomes the joy of the devoted wife who contributes to that happiness.
This sentiment of feminine love that one bears towards the Lord has two varieties—(1) the love of the wedded wife, and (2) that of the paramour. In the worldly sphere the love of the paramour is deprecable, detestable; for the same is contaminated by lust or a craving for physical union and gratification of the senses, and the object of love is an erring human being. But in the Divine sphere, i.e., when the object of love is the Divine Himself, that type of love is not only worth cultivating but it is considered even superior to the love of the wedded wife. There is no grossness in this love, no craving for physical union or gratification of the senses. The object of love in this case is no human being transgressing the moral code, but the soul of the Universe, God Himself, the Oversoul, who is the soul alike of the devotee's husband and children, and even of the devotee herself. It is in this sense that the love of the Gopis is regarded as belonging to the latter type, the love of the paramour. Although a devoted wife surrenders her all—her personal and family names, her wealth, her life, nay, her very faith to her husband, and does everything for the sake of the husband, there are three points of exceptional merit in the love of a paramour. These are: (1) constant thought of the beloved, (2) an insatiable longing to meet the beloved, and (3) complete blindness to the faults of the beloved. Since the wedded wife remains under the same roof with her husband all the twenty-four hours, none of these things is present in her. No doubt the Gopis used to see the Lord every day; yet since the sentiment of a paramour was predominant in their love, a moment's separation would appear unbearable to them. They would curse the Creator for covering their eyes with eyelids; for had there been no eyelids at all, the eyes could remain eternally open and drink the nectarean beauty of the Lord without any interruption. They said to their beloved Lord:
Dring the daytime when You go to the forest (to tend the cows), Your alsence maker each moment appear to us as long as an aeon. And when You return from the forest in the evening and we see Your blessed countenance adorned with the side-locks of curly hair, the Creator Brahma, who created the eyelids to cover the eyes with, appears to us no better than an awkward fool. That is to say, our failure to see You even for a moment makes us uneasy.
To have their minds constantly fixed on the Lord, to feel great agony on their failure to see Him even for a moment, and to have surrendered themselves completely to the Lord without the least grudge—these were the natural characteristics of the Gopis. In comparison with the service of their dearest Lord, they attached no importance to any other duty. In their Love for Sri Krishna they had set at naught the restrictions imposed by society and the scriptures. Worldly enjoyments and salvation appeared to them as trivial and worthy of being rejected. The Lord Himself said: O Uddhava, the Gopis have dedicated their heart and soul to Me, snapping for My sake all their physical ties. I sustain those who renounce for My sake all worldly enjoyments and their means. A devotee who has thus surrendered his whole being to Me covets not the position of Brahma, the position of lndra, the position of an Emperor, sovereignty over the nether regions, the eight Siddhis (mystic powers) of Yoga, nay, not even salvation, in which there is no return to this world, apart from Me.
The Jnani, having established his identity with Knowledge, is absorbed in Brahma, whereas the devotee in the path of love withesses the sweet sports of the Lord. To the Jnani, Sri Hari is unfathomalle, an embodiment of Truth, Knowledge, and Bliss; With the loving devotee He constantly plays as the sportive Lord, the embodiment of Love and Bliss. The Jnani is always replete with the Bliss of God-consciosness, whereas the loving devotee beholds the rare beauty of Sri Hari, possessed only of stainless wisdom. The enlightened sage, renouncing the pride of his position, aspires for the enviable state of the loving devotee, which is not difficult to attain.