If our English rendering of the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu will help our readers in understanding the true character of unalloyed Bhakti, the Lord will bless us. With this humble prayer, we place this book before unbiased readers of the English-knowing world.
akhila-rasamrita-murtih prasrimara-ruci-ruddha-taraka-palih |
kalita shyama-lalito radha-preyan vidhur jayati ||1||
Translation: All glory to Lord Krsna-candra,1 Who is the beauty of the moon personified and who is the embodiment of the ambrosia of
joy everlasting and immortal, called Rasa,2 and the radiance of whose body has subdued the two Gopis2a known as Taraka and Pali or Palika,
and who has owned Syama and Lalita the other two spiritual damsels3 as His own, and who is the most beloved of Radha. -1
(1)Candra means, "moon". The face of Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is here compared with the beauty of the moon.
(2) Rasa. There is no English equivalent for rasa. It is a purely spiritual ex-pression, which may be explained like this: When the heart is perfectly purified of all the possible dirts of the three gunas or attributes of Maya, the deluding energy of the Godhead,viz. sattva, rajas and tamas, and when the unalloyed soul, as distinct from the physical body of flesh and blood and the subtle body of mind-intelligence-ego, far transcends the realm of imagination and mental thought-world, the fourfold ingredients called Vibhava, Anu-Bhava, Sattvika-Bhava and Sancari-Bhava (to be explained in due course hereafter) of mellow-sweetness of the sentiment of the innate normal nature of the cit-soul combine with Sthayi-bhava or permanent and eternal as also unconditional relation that exists between God and the individual soul, in manifold shades and forms ,it gives rise to an inexplicably wondrous flow of charm, which is
Rasa. This Rasa can take twelve different forms, five primaries and seven secondary. The five primary Rasas are: Santa or tranquillity, Dasya or servitude, Sakhya or friendship, Vatsalya or paternal tenderness for the Lord, and Madhura or a feeling of womanhood of the pure self in love-sports with the Supreme Lord. The seven secondary Rasas are: Hasya or mirth, i e. the expression of sentiments of the soul which make the Lord enjoy laughter and mirth, Karuna or tenderness or pathos, Raudra or wrath, Vira or heroism, Bhayankara or terror-inspiring, Vibhatsa or the sentiment of disgust, and Adbhuta or sentiment of numinous wonder. The Sthaya-Bhava or the permanent relationships between God and the individual pure self are of five different forms, viz. indifference, servanthood, friendship, parenthood and consorthood.
Unlike the Alankarikas who use the term Rasa as the equivalent of aesthetic joy, Gaudiyas use Rasa in a different sense. For Gaudiyas, Rasa is a kind of numinous joy or delight that is possible only in the aprakrta or immaterial or supra-mundane realm of the Divine Spirit, the Godhead. What we call Bhakti or devotion of an earthly mortal is nothing but an insignificant emanation of the inexhaustible and incomparable joy of the Divine Realm. When the joy or delight of the Divine Realm overflows, as it were, and streams down from heaven to earth, as from a mountain-top to the plains below, earthly mortals who have taken to the way of Bhakti have the taste of an insignificant portion of it. But even this insignificant portion which they enjoy, in accordance with their temperamental preferences, as a servant or companion or in the way of any other relation, has no earthly parallel. Words worth speaks of the light that never was on sea or land. Gaudiyas go beyond this negative conception and hold that Rasa (if that is to be called aesthetic delight) is nothing but the divine light flowing over, in insignificant rays, into these specially fortunate mortals who are the objects of Divine Grace. What are called prakrta joys,
they never, even at their best, can rank as Rasa.
(2a). The eternal damsels of the transcendental realm of Vraja of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna.2a
(3). Who have no material bodies, either physical or mental. Each damsel in the transcendental realm of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna in Vraja has an eternal spiritual body of pure cit. Birth and death do not exist there. Every thing is eternal, spiritual, perfect and ever new.
* The translator has given his own commentary on the slokas 1-15 based on the commentary of Sri Jiva Gosvami.*
Commentary*: Sri Rupa Gosvami
received direct instructions from Sri Krsna-Caitanyadeva on the conception of
Bhakti, and it was Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva who entrusted Sri Rupa Gosvami with
the task of writing an authoritative treatise on "Unalloyed Devotion"
to the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. In the same way, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, elder
brother of Sri Rupa Gosvami, was directed by Sri Krsna-Caitanyadeva to write on
the basic principles regarding the conceptions of God, the individual soul, the
phenomenal world, and Maya, and on their inter-relationships. Both were trusted
disciples of Sri Caitanya, who were formerly prime and home ministers
respectively under Hossain Shah, the then governor of
Sri Jiva Gosvami, one of the six Gosvamins who were trusted lieutenants of Sri Caitanya, was the disciple and nephew of Sri Rupa Gosvami. As Sri Rupa wrote on Bhakti and Divine Love, and as Sri Sanatana wrote on the fundamental principles of eternal relationships between God and the individual soul, Sri Jiva Gosvami was, on the other hand, the most authoritative exponent of Sri Caitanya's philosophy. Sri Jiva's SAT-SANDHARBHA (The six Sandarbhas) are a unique contribution to the world of philosophy. The philosopher Jiva wrote a commentary, known as Durgama-Sangamani on Sri Rupa's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh. We pro-
pose to give here, along with the translation of the text, the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh, the substance of the Durgama-sangamani the commentary of Sri Jiva Gosvami, and also the substance of the two other commentaries by Sri Mukundadasa and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti, which will, we believe, throw light on some important points in the text and make it easy reading.
Sri Jiva claims that his commentary will make the contents of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh accessible to the readers, which would otherwise be inaccessible to anybody because of the transcendental nature of the conception of Bhakti as depicted by Sri Rupa. Sri Jiva says that the source of all his blessedness lies in Sri Rupa, the author of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh. Punning on the word ‘Jiva', i.e. his own name, which also means ‘the individual soul', the great philosopher-commentator asserts that the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh would be the source of eternal blessedness to all, irrespective or caste or creed, clime or country.
Sri Rupa starts writing Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh by singing the
glories of his most beloved Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, who is the SOLE RECIPIENT
of all loving devotion. This has been the usual practice with all authors of
spiritual literature in
The commentator Sri Jiva Gosvami first of all glorifies the greatness of Sri Radha and Sri Govinda-the Divine Couple (the Whole and the Counter-Whole Divine Moieties). Then he invokes the blessings of Sri Sanatana Gosvami, who is, he says, as eternal as the Supreme Lord Himself (the Sanskrta word sanatana means eternal), and who is the elder brother of Sri Rupa Gosvami, the author of this book, and whose youngest brother was Sri Vallabha, father of the commentator, Jiva Gosvami. Sri Jiva looks upon all the three elders as the source of all blessedness to him.
Sri Jiva says that the very mode of composition by Sri
Rupa Gosvami of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh the ocean of nectar of all
transcendental mellow-sweetness, just comparable with the sweetness of Srimad
Bhagavatam is indeed extraordinary and wonderful. Generally the lotus blooms at
night in moon-light on the breast of the
mankind, Sri Rupa starts describing the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna as "the Embodiment of all the 12 Rasas" (Akhila-rasamrta-murtih)!
Vidhurjayati: Vidhuh, i.e. Supreme Lord Krsna ever exists in His all-round triumph, glory and excellence. Vidhuh ordinarily means "the Godhead" with the peculiar curl of hair on the breast of Visnu as His characteristic mark; but here Sri Rupa Gosvami uses the word vidhuh in a significant sense. One who vidhunoti, i.e. cuts at the very root of all miseries and transcends all, is Vidhuh. Or vidadhati, i.e. One who gives the highest and every possible felicity and happiness to one and all without any distinction, is Vidhuh. For example, it is all too well known that the Supreme Lord Krsna by dint of His own majesty and divine prerogative granted eternal emancipation to all the demons, graciously allowing the emancipated souls of those demons to merge into His own Blessed Body. Besides freely distributing to the furthest limit even the extraordinary and most wondrous pleasures which He Himself enjoys of His own Love and His Divine Love-dalliance with Himself! His inconceivable divinity is well known.
By using Jayati in the present tense, Sri Rupa describes Lord Krsna as eternally existing in His Own glories as the Highest Divinity. This use of present tense also dispels all doubts from the minds of those who thought otherwise of His Supreme Divinity because of His Transcendental Manifestation in this world, which apparently looked similar to the birth of an ordinary human being! “Krsna Jayati” also signifies that Sri Krsna is the Highest and most Supreme Absolute Whole, in Whom all divine auspiciousness and absolute qualities exist in their fullness and perfection, and that His all other divine Names, such as Vasudeva, etc. only express the
different degrees of His divine qualities. The fullness of the Absolute Divinity is eternal in Krsna-Form alone. In support of this statement, Sri Jiva Gosvami, the commentator, cites examples form the Scriptures. For example, When His relatives were killed by Him, they attained final emancipation in His Own Form, looking at His Divine Face while expiring!4
Or, He (Krsna) is the Supreme Lord of all the three worlds and none can equal Him. Completely self-fulfilled He exists in His Own transcendental Realm, ever being served by His Own Internal Potency, Laksmi, and the Regent of innumerable ever-existing worlds the great Brahmas, bow down at His Feet by lowering crores of the crescents of their proud crowns by way of offerings to Him.5 .
Again, how wonderfully beautiful is His Face! Look! The makara shaped (shaped like a mythical sea-animal) dazzling ear-ring is swinging from his Ears and kissing His Cheeks, and the curling coil of black hair decorating His Forehead! Ah! The maddening and self-enjoying as also sportive smile on His Eyes and Lips! Such an ever-fresh and gladdening beauty all men and women would constantly and uninterruptedly drink with their wide open eager and unwinking eyes.! And if there by any twinkling in their beauty-drinking eyes, thereby interrupting the continuity of the joy of their supra-mundane and even supra-spiritual sight
of the incomparable Beauty of the Lord, they would blame the Creator who created eye-lids! 6
What wonder is there that any woman in the three worlds would be attracted by the melodies of the Flute and fascinated by the unsurpassable beauties of the Lord and would sacrifice the ordinary path of relative righteousness when even the cows, the Brahmanas, the trees, creepers and deer are thrilled with horripilation at the three-worlds-enchanting beauties of the Lord! 7
The apparantly Human but essential Spiritual Body that He manifested in this world out of His Own prerogative and with the help of His Own Internal Potency, called Yoga-maya, was wonderfully fascinating even to Himself, what to speak of others! This His Manifested Body which suited His transcendental Pastimes on earth, was the climax of the abundance of His grace, and this His Human-like Body (apparently looking like a human body, though completely spiritual in His Own Eternal Form) was so beautiful that it itself was an ornament to ornaments.8
All these innumerable Avataras (Different Manifestations or Divine Descents of the Supreme Lord) are Parts and Parts of Parts of the Divnity, while Krsna alone is the Supreme Godhead Himself.9
All glory be to Him, Who is the Refugee to all, pious beings or sinners, like the shade of a tree in the summer sun, though the tradition goes
that He was born of Devaki! 10
Now the author describes the innate nature of the Supreme
Lord as He is in accordance with the
graded superiority and excellence of the different Manifestations of the
Divinity. By describing Krsna as the Embodiment of all the twelve Rasas, Sri
Rupa Gosvami asserts that the very Form of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, as
transcendental immaterial Spirit; is the personification, as it were, of Bliss
condensed and all-compact. In His charming Body are stocked all the twelve mellow-sweet sentiments, which
generate feelings of eternal bliss. When Krsna enters the city of
Again, Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, said: Lord! This manifest Universe appears to be real, but truly its reality is nothing more than the reality in a dream! The forgetful individuals being attached to it no doubt suffer terribly. To enter into any discussion about the reality or otherwise of this manifest Universe, man s intelligence comes to an end owing to the insolubility of the true nature of the Universe. But the greatest wonder is that this Universe being created by Thy Maya appears to be real, because Thou are eternal, blissful and all-knowledge!12
Krsna, the Lord of Ecstatic Love, responds in graded super-excellence to the intensity of love of the different Associates or Entourage in accordance with their love for the Lord in the higher gradation of, service in servanthood, friendship in friendhood, filial affection in parenthood and erotic attachment in consorthood. Lord Krsna thus reciprocates as Master, Friend, Son and Consort to His Associates in these different primary Rasas. The climax is spiritually erotic love.
Again, when the Supreme Lord Krsna, along with His elder brother Sri Balarama entered the amphitheater of Kamsa, king of Mathura, He appeared as the thunderbolt to the wrestlers, to the men folk as the Best among them, to the ladies as Cupid-incarnate, to the cowherds as their playmate, to the tyrannical rulers of the earth as their chastiser, to His own parents as their dear child, to the king of Bhoja (Kamsa) as death in person, to the ignorant just an ordinary individual, to the Yogins
as the highest immanent divinity, and to the Vrsnis as Godhead-the object of worship.13
(4) Bhagavatam Canto 1, Chap. 9.Sloka 39.
(5) Ibid, Canto III,Chap.2, Sloka 21
(6)Ibid, Canto IX, Chap 24, Sloka 65
(7) Ibid. Canto X, Chap. 29, Sloka 40
(8)Ibid.Canto III,Chap 2,Sloka 12
(9)Ibid.,Canto I, Chap. 3, Sloka 28
(10)Ibid. Canto X,Chap. 90, Sloka 48.
(11) Bhagavatam, Canto X,Chap . 41, Sloka 28
(12)Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chap. 14, Sloka 21
(13) Ibid., Canto X, Chap. 43, sloka 17.23
All these quotations have been cited by Jiva Gosvami to prove the authenticity of the statement made by Sri Rupa Gosvami that Sri Krsna is the Highest and the Most Supreme Godhead, who is Anandam or the Highest Bliss personified. Bliss Eternal, ever new and ever progressive, beyond all limitations of relative time and space. Jiva further quotes from Gopala-tapani: "Krsna is the Highest God. He should be meditated upon and He alone should be cherished in the heart with all emotional sweetness.
Herein again, the super-excellence of His Appearance in this world along with His Eternal Associates or Entourage who possess a supra-mundane amorous form of reciprocal relation with Him, which produces an inconceivable and ecstatic bliss, is firmly established. Thus, the supreme excellence of an eternal and ever-fresh and ever-new feeling of relation of an ever-full supra-mundane amatory sentiment of His particular Associates towards Krsna, who are His Counter-Whole Divine Moieties, marks out Krsna the Supreme Absolute Divinity from His all other relative Manifestations or Avataras.
To justify further the super-excellence of Krsna as the Supreme Godhead of supra-mundane Love, Jiva Gosvami cites still further support from
the Scriptures. The ladies of
Abode of All-majesty, All-fame, All-glory, All-knowledge and All-detachment.14
(14) Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chap. 44, Sloka 14.24
The exquisite beauty of the Person of Krsna in the midst of the Gopis in the Rasa-dance is described by Sri Sukadeva Gosvami thus: "In the Rasamandala, i.e. the circular dance of Sri Krsna surrounded by the Gopis, the eternal Damsels of the transcendental Realm of the Supreme Godhead, God Krsna, known as the Son of Devaki, looked exceedingly charming like the brightest emerald in the center of a garland of precious gems.15
(15) Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chap. 33, Sloka 7.25
It is said in the Uttara-khanda of the Bhavisya-Puranam that ten of these Gopis who joined Krsna in the Rasa-dance are of greater importance.They are known as: (1) Gopali (2) Pali or Palika, (3) Dhanya, (4) Visakha (5) Dhanisthika, (6) Radha, (7) Anu-Radha, (8) Somabha, (9) Taraka, and (10) Dasami.
Another reading is Visakha, Dhyananisthika. The name of the Gopis is Taraka, or Dasami is another
name. In the Dvaraka-mahatmya and
also in the Prahlada-samhita of the Skanda-Puranam, mention is made, in
addition to the aforesaid Gopis, of Lalita and
others, of whom the Principal Eight Gopis are: (1) Lalita, (2) Syamala, (3) Saivya, (4) Padma, (5) Bhadra,
and the previously mentioned (6) Radha, (7) Dhanya, and (8) Visakha.
Now Sri Rupa Gosvami gives a graded importance to these Gopis in pairs according to the degree of their intimacy with
Krsna. Hence, when he writes that Krsna brings Taraka
and Pali are under control
by the radiation of the glow of His effulgence, his contention is that they are
in Vrndavana is stated thus: "As Rukmini is in Dvaraka, so does Radha occupy the most important place in Vrndavana." In the Vrhad-Gautamiya Tantra, Sri Radha's mantram (spiritual incantation for worship) is like this (Sanskrta Transliteration):
devi krsnamayi prokta radhika paradevata
sarva-laksmimayi sarvakantih sammohini para.
It means: "The inside out of Goddess Radha (Radhika) is completely pervaded by Krsna. She is the Supreme Goddess. She is the Fountain-Source of all Potencies of the Supreme Godhead. All fortune and pros-perity rest in Her or emanate from Her. All beauties exist in Her person, and She is the Paragon of all enchantments."
Further, in the Rk. Parisista (the appendix to the Rg. Veda), it is stated: "God Madhava with Radha, and surely Radha with Madhava appear in glorious beauty among people." The Gopis have also said in the Bhagavatam: "This Radhika must have adored God Hari (Krsna) much more intensely than ourselves, as otherwise She would not have stealthily been carried away by Govinda (Krsna), ignoring and leaving us all behind! 16
16 Bhagavatam, Canto X, Chap. 30, sloka 28.26
In this way Sri Rupa Gosvami, author of this Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhuh, first sings the glories of his Beloved Object of intimate worship at the commencement of this unique classical work.
Sri Jiva Gosvami, the commentator, now uses an equivoque with reference to the moon and the lunar orb. In the prologue a different meaning can be read by punning on the word Vidhuh. Though Vidhuh, i.e. the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna is far beyond all mundane and supra-mundane objects, yet a comparison with a phenomenal object in certain partial aspects may be helpful for the laity for a peep into the knowledge and understanding of the Lord. Thus Vidhuh, the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, is here compared with the mundane Vidhuh, i.e. the moon! According to Mukta-pragraha Nyaya, Krsna alone has been described as Vidhuh, i.e. "One who cuts at the very root of all miseries and transcends all", or, "One who gives the highest and every possible felicity and happiness to one and all without any distinction" (explained before). So also, the mundane moon is called Vidhuh as it removes miseries of all, caused by the darkness of the night or the heat of the day, and gives happiness and pleasure to all without any distinction. Again, as Krsna alone has been described as Vidhuh and not any of His other Manifestations or Divine
Descents or Avataras, so also in the mundane comparison the Full Moon alone should here be called Vidhuh and not any part of the moon, because the full moon alone is most powerful in dispelling the intensity of the darkness of the night. Thus in these limited senses only the Supreme Sri Krsna has been compared with the full moon.
A question may be raised: Why is it that Lord Sri Krsna has not been compared with the sun? The answer is simple. The sun cannot soothe the sufferings of people from its own heat. Hence the sun does not stand any comparison with the All-soothing Lord Sri Krsna. The moon does exist in all its excellence, as the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna exists in all His glories! A further objection may be raised that while comparing Sri Krsna with the moon, the Lord has been described in the present tense as the All-glorious (Vidhurjayati) whereas the full moon does not exist permanently, hence the comparison is wrong. But this pertinent objection is refuted by the argument that Sri Krsna has not been compared with any full moon of every month in any season, but the full moon of the vernal season alone is compared with the Lord because the full moon of the spring alone possesses all the requisite qualities as described above.
Having shown the common points of comparison in the substantive, points of comparison are now shown in the attributive. Firstly, as Sri Krsna is the Personification of all the Twelve Rasas, so also the moon is the repository of never-failing taste of the soothing nectar of the rays that emanate from the halo round the disc of the springtime full moon.
As there is similarity in the sound of the word Vidhuh, meaning Sri Krsna and moon, so there are common points with reference to Rasa, its taste and agreeableness. Secondly, as Sri Krsna has subdued the two Gopis Taraka and Pali by the radiance of the luster of His Body, so also the galaxy (Pali) of stars (Taraka) are enveloped by the luster of the full moon. Thirdly, there are further common points of comparison as regards the attributive in the fact that as Sri Krsna owns Syama and Lalita as His own, so also the full moon heightens the love-dalliance (Lalita, i.e. Vilasa) in the night (Syama, i.e. night). The word Syama has, according to Visvaprakasa dictionary, several other meanings, such as, an unborn woman, Soma-creeper, a small bird, night, dark, a medicinal plant bearing fragrant seed or long pepper, trivrta, priyangu, gundra, etc. But here in this context the word Syama should mean night, i.e. Nisa. Fourthly, as Radha is most beloved of Sri Krsna, so also Visakha (also called Radha), the sixteenth of the twenty-seven lunar asterisks, is nearest to the full moon of the spring season, and comes under its influence. Here the comparison is between Lord Sri Krsna and the full moon of the spring, and between Sri Radha and the star Visakha, otherwise called Radha. As Sri Krsna is under the influence of Sri Radha, knowing fully well of Her Prema, so also the full moon of the vernal season is under the influence of the Visakha (Radha) star because of its
superior influence during this season.
The stars vanish before the scorching rays of the sun, but add to the beauty of the lunar disc because the pleasure of love-dalliance is enjoyable on a moonlit night and not in the heat of the sun; and again, the sun has any such attractive beauty as the moon has. It is thus the vernal full moon that has been compared with Lord Sri Krsna, and not with any other solar objects. The attraction and the beauty of Lord Sri Krsna excels all other entities.
Sri Jiva Gosvami says that Sri Rupa Gosvami's, Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh abounds in varied and endless metaphors, rhetoric, prosody, theories, inferences, deductions, decisions, waves of Rasas, i.e. shades of transcendental sentiments, etc., most of which have been explicitly delineated by the author himself. But he, as the commentator, will make clear and understandable those portions only which are incomprehensible (durgama), and therefore his commentary is called
Durgama-sangamani Tika. –1-