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Chapter 21: On Love, the fruit of Devotion

[The Master continued]--"Listen now, Sanatan, to love, the fruit of bhakti, the hearing of which gives knowledge of the spirit of bhakti. When passion (rati) in Krishna is deepened it is called prem (love), the permanent form of bhakti in Krishna. It also has two aspects, viz., swarup and tatastha. If any man has the grace to feel shraddha, he consort with pious men, from which companionship result the hearing and chanting of Krishna's name. From the attainment of bhakti, all his troubles are removed, and as a consequence of the latter, his faith becomes constant, which gives him a taste for the listening and [hymning of Krishna's name]. From taste (ruchi) comes strong inclination (asakti), which gives birth to the sprout of passion for Krishna in the soul. When this emotion is deepened, it takes the name of love (prem). That love is the (ultimate) fruit, the source of every bliss. Vide Bhagabat, III. xxv. 22. The man in whose heart this emotion sprouts up is marked by the many qualities named in the Shastras. (Bhakti-ras-amrita-sindhu, I. Rati-bhakti, verse 11, Bhagabat I. xix. 13). No earthly affliction can disturb his mind. Such a man never wastes his time without communing with Krishna. He never fears [attack by] enjoyment, material success, or the objects of sensual gratification. (Bhagabat, V. xiv. 42). Even the noblest bhakta considers himself as lowly, and firmly believes that Krishna will take pity on him. He is ever expectant, ever passionately longing [for union with Krishna]. Ever does he relish the work of singing Krishna's names, and ever engages in it. At all times is he addicted to holding forth on Krishna's charms. Ever does he reside at the scenes of Krishna's exploits.

"So far I have described the marks of rati for Krishna. Now let me describe the characteristics of love for Krishna. Even the wise fail to comprehend the speech, acts and gestures of the man whose heart is full of love for Krishna. (Bhagabat, XI. ii. 38). As love develops, it takes the forms of sneha, man, pranaya, rag, anurag, bhab, and mahabhab, just as, from the same source of sugar-juice we have molasses, gur (khanda), black sugar, [yellow] sugar-candy, and white sugar-candy. As these grow successively purer and more delicious, so too do the above stages in the development of love. In relation to its subject, rati is of five kinds viz., shanta, dasya, sakhya, batsalya, and madhur. These five permanent emotions (bhab) have five different flavours, which delight the bhakta and over-power Krishna. The permanent emotions of love etc., on meeting with the proper ingredient, mature in the form of Krishna-bhakti ras. The permanent emotion (bhab) on being mingled with ras is changed into these four,--bibhaba, anubhaba, sativika, byabhichari;--just as curd, on being mixed with gur, black pepper, and camphor, becomes a thing of matchless deliciousness named rasal. Bibhaba is of two kinds, (i) alamban, which is kindled by Krishna, etc., and (ii) uddipan, by the notes of His flute, etc. Anubhaba is stimulated by smile, dance and song. Stupor and other sensations are included in satwika anubhaba. Byabhichari is of 33 kinds, such as delight, rapture, &c.

"Ras is of five kinds,--shanta, dasya, sakhya, batsalya, and madhur. In the shanta ras, rati advances to the stage of prem; in the dasya to rag, sakhya and batsalya attain to the limit of anurag (as was the case with Subal and others love for Krishna).

"Krishna, the darling of Braja's lord, is the chief of lovers, while the lady Radha is at the head of mistresses. Krishna's qualities are endless, even a single one of them when unfolded can soothe the ears of a bhakta.

"Countless are Radhika's qualities, of which 25 are the principal ones, which have conquered Krishna.

"The lover and his mistress are the themes of two rasas, and the foremost of the class are Radha and Krishna. Similarly, in the dasya ras, the subject is a servant, in the sakhya a comrade, in the batsalya the parents.

"This ras is tasted only by Krishna's bhaktas; those who are not devoted to Him have not the lot to enjoy it. Before this, at Allahabad I discoursed on ras and inspired with my power your brother Rup Goswami. Do you preach the lore of bhakti; do you discover the lost shrines of Mathura. At Brindaban teach the adoration of Krishna, the proper conduct of Vaishnavs, and the scriptures of the creed of bhakti."

Thus did the Master teach Sanatan all about the temperate conquest of passions (bairagya) and condemned arid bairagya which consists of (mere) knowledge. Vide the Gita, xii. 13 et seq and Bhagabat, II. ii. 5.

Then Sanatan asked about the metaphorical interpretations (siddhanta) of all the acts of Krishna's life and the Master clearly explained them. At last Sanatan clasped His feet and biting a wisp of grass in sign of abjectness prayed to Him thus: "I am a wretch, of low caste, and the servant of the unclean. And yet thou hast taught me theological expositions which even Brahma knows not! My despicable mind cannot contain even a single drop of this ocean of exposition that thou hast poured into it. Thou canst make even the lame dance, if so thou wishest. Lay thy feet on my head and pronounce on me the blessing that all that thou hast taught me may become bright within me. May I derive power from thy power!" And the Master blessed him accordingly. [Text, canto 23.]

Again did Sanatan clasp the Master's feet and ask Him, "I have heard that you explained to Sarvabhauma in eighteen different ways the following couplet of the Bhagabat, I. vii. 10:--

[Sanskrit words]

"My mind, on hearing of it, has been seized with wonder and curiosity. If thou tellest it [again] graciously, my ears will be charmed." The Master answered, "I am a mad man; Sarvabhauma took my mad words for truth. I do not remember what ravings I uttered in his house. But should your company inspire me I may possibly recollect a little of it. My mind is not naturally enlightened as to the sense of the verses; what I shall say is only the outcome of the influence of your company."

[His 61 subtle interpretations of the above stanza and the rules of Sanskrit grammar lexicography and logic appealed to by the Master in support of them, are omitted here in the 2nd edition.]

Listening to these [sixty-one diverse] explanations, Sanatan was filled with wonder, and praised the Great Master, clinging to His feet, "Thou art God incarnate, the darling of Braja's lord. Thy breath called into being all the Vedas. Thou art the speaker in the Bhagabat, and thou knowest its meaning, which none else can under stand!" The Master objected, "Why praise me? Why not consider the nature of the Bhagabat, which is like Krishna, all-embracing, the refuge of all. Every couplet, nay every letter of it breathes a variety of senses. By means of a dialogue this fact has been established in the Bhagabat itself. (I. i. 23 and iii. 42). These my interpretations of the shloka are like the ravings of a mad man. Who will accept them? If any one be mad like me, he will understand the meaning of the Bhagabat from this [specimen]."

Again did Sanatan with folded palms entreat Him, "Master, thou has bidden me write the sacred code (smriti) of Vaishnavs. I am a man of low caste, ignorant of ceremonial cleanness (achar). How can smriti be taught by me? If you teach me an outline of it in the form of sutras (aphorisms), if you yourself enter my heart, then the sketch will inspire the mind of a low man like me. Thou art God; whatever thou makest me speak will prove true". The Master replied, "Whatever you wish to do, Krishna will inspire your mind with [knowledge of it]. I, however, give you a rapid survey of the different points [which you should deal with in compiling the Vaishnav sacred code] (A long list, not translated here). In every case quote as your authority the sayings of the Purans. When you will write, Krishna will inspire you." [text, canto 24.]