Vijaya Kumāra finished his midday meal early and as usual went to meet his guru in the house of Kāśī Miśra. Having some spare time, he went to the beachfront and strolled along by the ocean, where the sparkling waves caught his attention, bringing to his mind thoughts of the ocean of devotional rasa.
“This ocean is stirring up spiritual emotion within my heart. Though material, it is awakening and bringing to the fore hidden transcendental sentiments like those in Gurudeva’s descriptions of rasa. One day, my gross and subtle bodies will have melted into oblivion, and I will stand before the ocean of rasa relishing my mañjarī–svarūpa, spiritual identity as a beautiful young girl of Vraja.
“Kṛṣṇa whose complexion resembles the luminous dark hue of fresh monsoon clouds is the sole proprietor of my heart. Beside Him is the darling daughter of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja, Śrīmatī Rādhikā. She is my Ladyship, eternally enthroned within my heart. The amorous exchanges between Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa have metamorphosed into this ocean before me. The unbroken scrolls of waves are the gamut of bhāva rising from the ocean of rasa. Whenever a wave of bhāva peaks, the ocean heaves me, a sakhī, upon the shore, sweeping me about by its currents and anointing me with a deluge of kṛṣṇa–prema. This ocean of rasa is Kṛṣṇa Himself; therefore, the ocean’s complexion is the same as that of Kṛṣṇa. The cresting waves of divine love are Śrī Rādhā, making the colour of the waves a beautiful molten-gold. The larger waves are the sakhīs, and the smaller ones are their assistants, the mañjarīs. Myself, I am the smallest of waves, far away, wishing to be called to service of the mañjarīs.”
Enraptured by this beautiful meditation, Vijaya-kumāra’s consciousness slowly returned to his immediate external surroundings as he walked away from the ocean and headed for the Rādhā-kānta temple at the house of Kāśī Miśra. Arriving there, he offered prostrated obeisances to his guru and sat down humbly.”
Śrīla Gopāla-guru Gosvāmī received him with warm affection, saying, “Dear Vijaya, is everything well with you?”
Vijaya, “Śrīla Gurudeva, your mercy is the only cause of my good fortune. I sincerely wish to serve the sakhīs and so I would like to learn the subtle variations in personality amongst them.”
Gosvāmī, “Vijaya, you must realize that it is impossible for any jīva to describe the transcendental attributes of the sakhīs in full; however, whatever fraction we have learnt is by the mercy of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. The sakhīs are the lovely damsels of Vraja, perfectly augmenting Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental amorous pastimes, and are the reservoirs of trustworthiness towards the Divine Couple of Vṛndāvana. Only a few most fortunate and blessed souls develop the eagerness to discover all information about them.
“Yesterday, I touched upon the different types of sakhīs with you. As we have mentioned, the sakhīs in their individual yūthas are divided into three according to the status of their position and skill: adhikā, greatest fortune and dexterity; samā, intermediate position; and laghu, light in dexterity and position. In addition, they may be divided according to their temperament: prakharā, of imperious temperament; madhyā, of intermediate temperament; and mṛdvī, of soft, sweet, and compliant temperament. Here is Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s comment in the Ujjvala–nīlamaṇi, Sakhī–prakaraṇa 3-5:
prema saubhāgya-sad guṇyādy-adhikyād adhikā sakhī
samā tat sāmyato jñeyā tal-laghutvāt tathā laghuḥ
“‘The sakhīs are replete with the supramundane good fortune of prema and decorated with all-immaculate excellences. When such characteristics are abundant in certain sakhīs, they are called adhikā, when the characteristics are of moderate intensity, they are called samā, and when they are of less intensity, they are known as laghu.’
durllaṇghya-vākya-prakharā prakhyātā gauravocitā
tad-ūnatve bhaven-mṛdvī madhyā tat samyam āgatā
“‘Sakhīs whose orders nobody dares to transgress are known as prakharā; they are dignified and grave. When the gravity and dignity of personality are much less than in the prakharā–sakhīs, the sakhīs are known as mṛdvī–sakhīs, and when they are of a middling temperament, they are called madhyā–sakhīs.’
ātyantikādhikatvādi-bhedaḥ pūrvavad atra saḥ
sva-yūthe yūtha-nāthaiva syād atrātyantikādhikā
sā kvāpi prakharā yūthe kvāpi madhyā mṛduḥ kvacit
“‘The top group of sakhīs is also separated into ātyantika, very greatest, and āpekṣika, highest. Only the head personality of the yūtha is known as the ātyantika-adhikā-sakhī; and in the various yūthas, she is sometimes of prakharā temperament, sometimes of madhyā temperament, and at other times of mṛdvī temperament.’”
Vijaya, “The ātyantika-adhikā-yūtheśvārī is the leader of her group. She is one of three categories: prakharā, madhyā, and mṛdvī. We have spoken earlier about them. Kindly tell me what differentiates the numerous types of sakhīs from one another within the yūthas.”
Gosvāmī, “In a yūtha only the yūtheśvārī is ātyantika–adhikā. The other sakhīs are classified into three sections, āpekṣikā-adhikā, āpekṣikā-samā, and āpekṣikā-laghu, thus making a total of nine varieties when multiplied by the three temperaments of prakharā, madhyā, and mṛdvī. These nine varieties are: (1) āpekṣika-adhikā-prakharā; (2) āpekṣika-adhikā-madhyā; (3) āpekṣika-adhikā-mṛdvī; (4) āpekṣika-samā-prakharā; (5) āpekṣika-samā-madhyā; (6) āpekṣika-samā-mṛdvī; (7) āpekṣika-laghu-prakharā; (8) āpekṣika-laghu-madhyā; and (9) āpekṣika-laghu-mṛdvī.
“Ātyantika-sakhīs are of two more kinds: ātyantika–samā, and ātyantika–laghu. These two plus the yūtheśvārī herself, who is ātyantika-adhikā, plus the nine āpekṣika sakhīs, makes twelve types of nāyikās, or sakhīs that are found in each yūtha, camp.”
Vijaya, “How are the more prominent sakhīs classified?”
Gosvāmī, “Sakhīs like Lalitā belong to the yūtha of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and are classified as āpekṣikā–adhikā-prakharā. In the same yūtha, Viśākhā and others are in the category of āpekṣiki-adhikā-madhyā, and Citrā, Mādhurī, and others are āpekṣika–adhikā–mṛdvī. However, in comparison to Śrīmatī Rādhikā, the aṣṭa–sakhīs headed by Lalitā devī are āpekṣika–laghu, relatively of lesser status.”
Vijaya, “Are there any classifications within the apekṣiki-laghu-prakharā?”
Gosvāmī, “Yes, there are two types: vāmā, left wing, contrary; and dakṣiṇā, right wing, submissive.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, what are the characteristics of the vāmā–sakhīs.”
Gosvāmī, “The vāmā–sakhīs are imperious by nature and when they feel slighted they quickly embrace the loving sentiment of māna, withdrawn temper tantrum that does not easily wane away. Further, they do not submit easily to the wishes of the nāyaka. These are the characteristics of the vāmā–sakhīs, such as Lalitā Devī, who is a vāmā-prakharā gopī in Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s yūtha.”
Vijaya, “What are the characteristics of the dakṣiṇa-sakhīs?”
Gosvāmī, “The nāyikās who rarely exhibit mana, honestly opening their hearts to the nāyaka, and who are easily captivated by His sweet words, are known as dakṣiṇa–sakhīs. In Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s yūtha, Tuṅgavidyā is described as a dakṣiṇa-prakharā sakhī.”
Vijaya, “Who are the ātyantika-laghu sakhīs?”
Gosvāmī, “The sakhīs who are always mild, gentle, and are very junior, such as Kusumikā and many others, are called ātyantika–laghu.”
Vijaya, “In what manner do the sakhīs act as dūtīs?”
Gosvāmī, “When the sakhīs act as dūtīs, they arrange the abhisāra, tryst, of the nāyaka and nāyikā by carrying communications between the lovers, who are at that time apart from one another.”
Vijaya, “Do the sakhīs ever attain the position of a nāyikā?”
Gosvāmī, “The yūtheśvārīs are eternally nāyikās. The characteristics of the apekṣiki-adhikā-prakharā, apekṣiki-adhikā-madhyā, and apekṣiki-adhikā-mṛdvī sakhīs place them in both categories as nāyikā and sakhī. When gopīs of a relatively junior laghu status are present, they may assume the role of nāyikā; however, when a gopī of relatively superior adhikā status is present, they assume the role of sakhī. To their junior sakhīs, they are seen as nāyikās; therefore, they are allocated the unique status of being nāyikā–prāya, almost nāyikās.
“The apekṣiki-samā-prakharā, apekṣiki-samā-madhyā, and apekṣiki-samā-mṛdvī sakhīs are sakhīs in relationship to those who are adhikā, superiors, and are nāyikās in relationship to those who their laghu, juniors; thus they also play dual roles and are so known as dvi–samā.
“The gopīs in the categories of apekṣiki-laghu-prakharā, apekṣiki-laghu-madhyā, and apekṣiki-laghu-mṛdvī generally maintain the position of sakhīs.
“The ātyantika-laghu sakhīs are junior to both their yūtheśvārī and the just mentioned three categories of sakhīs; therefore, they comprise a fifth class and are called nitya-sakhīs, eternal sakhīs.
“In the presence of the yūtheśvārī, the apekṣiki group of sakhīs are both sakhīs and dūtīs, but never nāyikās.
“The ātyantika-laghu—nitya-sakhīs—are always sakhīs; from their point of view all are nāyikās and never dūtīs.”
Vijaya, “Who are the sakhīs that act as dūtīs?”
Gosvāmī, “The yūtheśvārīs are eternal nāyikās, they are everyone’s favourite and beloved, and consequently all the members of their yūtha act on their behalf. The sakhīs of the yūtha who are especially dear to the yūtheśvārī are engaged in transmitting messages on her behalf. However, sometimes the role is reversed and the yūtheśvārī herself acts as a gauṇa-dūtī, secondary messenger, for her favourite sakhīs in their amorous interplays; this she does in response to the praṇaya, intimate love, of these sakhīs for her, the yūtheśvārī. When we speak of the yūtheśvārī gracefully accepting the role of a gauṇa-dūtī, we mean that the yūtheśvarī gives indications and messages to the nāyaka but does not perform the primary activity of a dūtī that is carry messages for some distance. These messages are, in relation to Kṛṣṇa, of two types: samakṣa, directly when Kṛṣṇa is present; and parokṣa, indirectly when Kṛṣṇa is absent.”
Vijaya, “Are there different types of kṛṣṇa-samakṣa-dūtyā, messages given to Kṛṣṇa in His presence?”
Gosvāmī, “They are divided into two kinds: saṅketika, emblematic hints and signals; and vācika, direct verbal indications.”
Vijaya, “What are saṅketika-dūtyā?”
Gosvāmī, “When indication is given to Kṛṣṇa that He should go to a meeting with a nāyikā by signs such as winking, raising of eyebrows, and crooking the index finger we speak of saṅketika dūtyā.”
Vijaya, “What are vācika–dūtyā?”
Gosvāmī, “Messages that are spoken to Kṛṣṇa—whether directly and openly, or in seclusion—are known as vācika.”
Vijaya, “What is parokṣa-dūtyā, messages given when Kṛṣṇa is absent?”
Gosvāmī, “Parokṣa-dūtyā is when the sakhī is brought and offered to Kṛṣṇa by her friend, or when the sakhī is sent to meet Kṛṣṇa by her friend.”
Vijaya, “What are the nāyikā-prāya dūtyā, messages carried for the almost nāyikā?”
Gosvāmī, “When āpekṣiki-adhikā-prakharā, āpekṣiki-adhikā-madhyā, and āpekṣiki-adhikā-mṛdvī sakhīs act as dūtīs for their respectively junior laghu sakhīs, they are said to be acting as nāyikā-prāya-dūtīs, almost-heroine messengers. Amongst them the samā-sakhīs and madhyā–sakhīs are naturally friends; they are extremely affectionate to each other and are known for these mutual tender-sweet dealings. Only the most elevated pure souls realized in prema can perceive these subtleties.”
Vijaya, “What are the sakhī-prāya-dūtyā, messages carried by one who is almost a sakhī?”
Gosvāmī, “Usually the laghu-prakharā, laghu-madhyā, and laghu–mṛdvī gopīs are engaged in carrying messages; hence, when engaged in this activity, they are called sakhī-prāya-dūtī, almost sakhī messengers.”
Vijaya, “What then are the nitya-sakhīs.”
Gosvāmī, “Nitya–sakhīs desire only to be sakhīs and not nāyikās. They are of two types: ātyantika–laghu and āpekṣika–laghu.”
Vijaya, “Are traits such as prakharā, imperious nature, permanent, eternal traits in particular sakhīs—qualities that they always manifest and never abandon?”
Gosvāmī, “Although indeed certain personality traits are svabhāva, permanently possessed, by the sakhīs, however under certain circumstances, these traits may be abandoned and even the opposite manifested. Lalitā, for instance, is extremely tender and concerned when sweetly calming Śrīmatī Rādhikā to dissolve Her māna.”
Vijaya, “It appears that Śrīmatī Rādhikā carefully arranges the meeting of her sakhīs with Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Gosvāmī, “Vijaya, there is something strictly confidential about this topic. Rādhikā does arrange meetings of Her sakhīs with Kṛṣṇa, however, if any sakhī sent as a dūtī to Kṛṣṇa—even in lonely spots where Kṛṣṇa may seek romantic intimacy with her—were to succumb to Kṛṣṇa’s advances, then the trust and faith placed in her ability and uprightness as a messenger would be irreparably damaged. Therefore, in the role of acting as a dūtī for her beloved sakhī, the dūtīs never succumb to Kṛṣṇa’s romantic entreaties.”
Vijaya, “What are the primary activities of the sakhīs?”
Gosvāmī, “There are sixteen such activities: (1) to describe the wonderful qualities of the nāyikā to the nāyaka and vice versa; (2) to encourage and enhance the nāyikā and nāyaka’s attachment for each other; (3) to arrange secret rendezvous for the nāyikā and nāyaka; (4) to offer the nāyikā to Kṛṣṇa; (5) to make fun and cut jokes with the nāyikā and nāyaka; (6) to give consolation to the lovelorn nāyikā or nāyaka; (7) to beautifully decorate the nāyikā before her meeting; (8) to expertly draw out and describe the emotions and inner feelings of the nāyikā and nāyaka for each other; (9) to cover up any of the nāyikā and nāyaka’s mistakes and oversights; (10) to educate the nāyikā and nāyaka on how to bluff the husband, mother, and other relatives to facilitate Their rendezvous; (11) to bring the nāyaka and nāyikā together at the appropriate time; (12) to serve Them by fanning with cāmara and peacock fan, etc; (13) to reproach the nāyikā and nāyaka at particular instances when They may have become inimical to one another; (14) to send and carry messages between the nāyikā and nāyaka; (15) to selflessly protect the nāyikā’s life; and (16) to be attentive and diligent about even the smallest details of service.
“All these activities can be described through examples. Would you like to hear them?”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, you have given me clear ideas and guidelines in these brief descriptions; I will read the examples in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. O master, now I am eager to hear about the loving exchanges between Kṛṣṇa and the sakhīs and the affection of the sakhīs for one another.”
Gosvāmī, “The svapakṣa-sakhīs, sakhīs belonging to a friendly group, are of two kinds: asama-sneha, possessing unequal affection towards Kṛṣṇa and towards their yūtheśvārī; and sama-sneha, possessing equal affection towards Kṛṣṇa and towards their yūtheśvārī.”
Vijaya, “Kindly describe the sakhīs who have asama–sneha, unequal affection.”
Gosvāmī, “The asama-sneha sakhīs are also of two kinds: Some sakhīs are more attached and affectionate to their yūtheśvārī than to Kṛṣṇa. They consider, ‘I am the maidservant of my sakhī,’ and love their yūtheśvārī more than Kṛṣṇa. They are called sakhī snehādhika.
“Others consider, ‘I am hari-dāsī, the maidservant of Kṛṣṇa,’ and are more attached and affectionate to Kṛṣṇa than to their yūtheśvārī. They are fully loyal and affectionate to their own yūtheśvārī, and yet their love for Kṛṣṇa is greater. They are called kṛṣṇa snehādhika.
“Generally, the two types mingle with other sakhīs of similar leaning.”
Vijaya, “Which sakhīs belong to these categories?”
Gosvāmī, “Amongst the five varieties of sakhīs that we have discussed earlier, the sakhīs who are kṛṣṇa-snehādhika, more affectionate to Kṛṣṇa, are called the sakhīs. While those who are sakhī snehādhika, more affectionate to their sakhī, are the prāṇa-sakhīs and nitya-sakhīs.”
Vijaya, “Who are the sama-sneha sakhīs?”
Gosvāmī, “Sakhīs who possess equal affection for Kṛṣṇa and for their yūtheśvārī are sama-sneha sakhīs.”
Vijaya, “Which sakhīs are praised as the best?”
Gosvāmī, “The topmost sakhīs joyfully consider themselves Rādhā’s nija–jana, followers and recipients of her love, and simultaneously possess equal love for Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. They are the priya-sakhīs and parama-preṣṭha-sakhīs.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, kindly explain the rivalries between the sakhīs who take the different stances known as pakṣa, favourable; and prati–pakṣa or vipakṣa, unfavourable.”
Gosvāmī, “Relative to one another, all the vraja-sundarīs can be divided into four groups: sva-pakṣa, of one’s own yūtha; suhṛt-pakṣa, of friendly yūthas; taṭasthā-pakṣa, of neutral yūthas; and prati-pakṣa, of enemy yūthas. The various yūthas associate with other yūthas that are their suhṛt-pakṣa, friends, and taṭasthā-pakṣa, neutrals, but carefully avoid their prati-pakṣa, enemies. In this way, the differences between the groups churn the nectarean ocean of rasa.”
Vijaya, “Kindly explain the details of sva-pakṣa, one’s own; suhṛt–pakṣa, friends; taṭasthā-pakṣa, neutrals; and prati-pakṣa, enemies.”
Gosvāmī, “I have already described svapakṣa, one’s own group, in some detail. Suhṛt-pakṣa-sakhīs are of two kinds: iṣṭā-sādhikā, friends pushed together to do something favorable for their own yūthas; and aniṣṭa-sādhikā, friends pushed together to do something mischievous for the detriment of a rival yūtha. The taṭasthā-pakṣa, neutrals, are those gopīs who are friendly to both sva-pakṣa, one’s own party, and the prati-pakṣa, enemy party.”
Vijaya, “Please describe the prati-pakṣas, enemies.”
Gosvāmī, “Those who subvert and foil the welfare of another yūtha for the interest of their own yūtha are prati-pakṣas or vipakṣas. They attempt to foil the goal of the other yūtha and in the process bring anguish upon that yūtha, and because of their inimical feelings for the opposing yūtha, they are pratipakṣa or vipakṣa-sakhīs. The vipakṣa-sakhīs gradually manifest: chadma, deceit; īrṣā, jealousy and grudges; cāpalya, restlessness; asūyā, fault-finding; mātsarya, envy; amarṣa, intolerance; garva, conceit; and other such bhāvas, towards their particular vipakṣa-sakhīs, enemy camp.”
Vijaya, “How is garva exhibited?”
Gosvāmī, “Garva, pride, is expressed in six ways: ahaṅkāra, egotism; abhimāna, self-assertion; darpa, smugness; uddhasita, insolence; mada, conceit; and auddhatya, haughtiness.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, in this context, what is ahaṅkāra?”
Gosvāmī, “When svapakṣa, one’s own group, is praised, and the pratipakṣa, rival group, is reviled, this attitude is called ahaṅkāra, egotism.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, what is abhimāna in this situation?”
Gosvāmī, “To assert the wonderful excellence in prema of svapakṣa, one’s own group, with emotions and posturing, is called abhimāna, ostentatious self-assertion.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, what is darpa, here?”
Gosvāmī, “Darpa indicates the smugness that the svapakṣa–sakhīs feel from the conviction that they have superior admission into the pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, what is uddhasita?”
Gosvāmī, “The direct retorts and derisive jokes hurled at the pratipakṣa–sakhīs are called uddhasita, insolence.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, what is mada?”
Gosvāmī, “In this context, mada indicates the feeling of inner pride and superiority that impels one to accomplish one’s devotional service more expertly.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, what is auddhatya?”
Gosvāmī, “Auddhatya, haughtiness, is the tauntingly unabashed declaration of the superiority of one’s svapakṣa, own group, in everything. Similarly, the openly cryptic and critical deprecation of others is auddhatya.”
Vijaya, “Do the yūtheśvarīs also directly express jealousy?”
Gosvāmī, “No, on account of the gravity of their senior positions the yūtheśvarīs never openly or directly articulate feelings of jealousy towards the vipakṣas. In fact, even the sharp-tongued prakharā–sakhīs, who are by nature quick to chastise, will rarely speak loosely in the presence of the vipakṣa–yūtheśvarīs.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, the yūtheśvarīs in vraja–līlā are all nitya-siddha-śaktis of the Supreme Lord. What is the purpose of their emotions of jealous enmity between one another? Observing all these dealings, mundane empiricists and rhetoricians show scorn for the absolute, esoteric sublimity of vraja-līlā. Their argument is that if such jealous enmity is present in the parama-tattva, Supreme Transcendental Principle, then why should the similar worldly activities of this material plane be despised and renounced.
“Prabhu, we reside in Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, which is by the desire of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya infested with a variety of materialistic non-devotees. There are the smārta-brāhmaṇas, followers of karma–kāṇḍa; the logicians; the empiricists; and uncountable blasphemers. They all try to find fault and criticize the wonderful supramundane vraja-līlā of Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa, propounding the līlā as mundane and illusory, a product of māyā. Kindly enlighten us in this arcane knowledge so that our dedication to rasa-tattva becomes firmer and unshaken in the face of such remarks.”
Gosvāmī, “Only those who are completely devoid of any relish of transcendental rasa object to such spiritual sentiments of hostility that are present in the hearts of the confidential and beloved associates of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. To fathom this recondite knowledge, one should understand that in Vraja, Kṛṣṇa, the slayer of Aghāsura and beguiler of millions of Kāmadevas, has the embodiment of śṛṅgāra-rasa as His priya-narma-sakhā, dear friend. This priya-narma-sakhā, the embodiment of śṛṅgāra-rasa, arranges contrary spiritual emotions, such as īrṣā, jealousy, in the hearts of the different pakṣas, groups, simply to further enhance the transcendental rasa and thus satisfy Kṛṣṇa. However, such opposing bhāvas are actually transformations of sneha for Kṛṣṇa and only expressed at the times of the union with Kṛṣṇa. When they are separated from Kṛṣṇa, the opposing groups feel deep affection for each other.”
Vijaya, “Prabhu, we are unfortunate conditioned souls; hence, these arcane topics are not easy to comprehend. Graciously, kindly elaborate explicitly upon this mystical truth.”
Gosvāmī, “Prema–rasa is a vast ocean of milk. If contentious argumentation, akin to acidic cow urine, is poured into this milk ocean, the milk curdles. It is not advisable to use logic and rationality to delve deeply into the ocean of this most esoteric truth. Only those sincere sādhakas who are favoured by Bhakti Devī because of immeasurable bhakti-sukṛti will have their hearts enlightened with the beacon of cit-hlādinī-śakti and be able to comprehend this siddhānta without the use of mundane logic.
“On the other hand, those who try to grapple with this subject using logic and rationality will find that the inconceivable pure siddhānta remains latent and hidden. The resort to kutarka, false logic and argument, only uselessly provokes further kutarka. However, you are a very fortunate soul, being a recipient of the blessings of Bhakti Devī and so the esoteric essence has already been revealed to you. Since you are questioning me out of keenness to fortify yourself further in siddhānta, then I will try to reiterate and expand upon this matter. You are neither an argumentative rhetorician, nor a karma-kāṇḍī smārta-brāhmaṇa, nor an empiric philosopher, nor an agnostic, nor a neophyte devotee on the level of vaidhī-bhakti; therefore, I have no reservations about speaking to you upon any siddhānta.
“There are two types of inquisitive persons. The first type enquires on the basis of dry logic and rationality; whereas, the other type has faith in the principles of bhakti and enquires submissively in order to deepen his understanding of the eternally perfect and infallible truths. One should avoid answering the questions set by logicians and rationalists because they will never believe in genuine descriptions of the transcendental truth. Their reasoning and arguments are all mundane speculations within the realm of māyā, and therefore these speculators have no access into the transcendental realm of acintya–bhāva, inconceivable spiritual emotion. Indefatigable juggling of ideas and speculations can never bring them to spiritual perception of the acintya–tattva, inconceivable precepts. Ultimately, the path of mental speculation leads them to the quagmire of atheism, having destroyed any glimpse of faith in an Īśvara.
“According to adhikāra there are numerous divisions amongst the bhakti–pakṣa, party of devotional enquirers. Even if they have attained a sad–guru, only those bhaktas who have the adhikāra for śṛṅgāra–rasa can fully grasp this confidential tattva. The transcendental sentiments and emotions of the rasas of vṛndāvana–līlā are superexcellent. Superficially, śṛṅgāra-rasa may appear like the mundane amorous sentiments of the material world, but actually śṛṅgāra–rasa is completely opposite in quality. The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 10.33.39, states that anyone who hears the rāsa–līlā pastimes will cure the material disease of his heart, which is the cause of his material bondage.
“What is the heart disease of the conditioned soul? The disease is mundane lust. A matrix of endless mundane lust arises in those conditioned jīvas who misidentify themselves with the gross material body of the seven dhātus—flesh, bone, blood, etc—be it of male or female gender, and who take shelter of the three subtle elements—mind, intelligence, false ego—comprising the subtle material body. However, this matrix may be easily extirpated by immersion in hearing the all-purifying vraja–līlā of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In fact, nothing else contains the potency to do so. The astounding siddhānta is that the śṛṅgāra–rasa of vṛndāvana–līlā is so wonderful that by faithfully hearing about it mundane lust, so contemptible, is purified and transformed. Furthermore, the nirviśeṣa–brahma concept of the featureless Supreme that so absorbs the minds of the impersonalistic ātmārāmas is blown away like a dry leaf in a storm by the aprākṛta-śṛṅgāra-rasa, who is then regally and eternally enthroned on the throne abdicated by the impersonal concept. Moreover, śṛṅgāra–rasa shines eternally in the brilliance of its own glory, subduing the radiance of vaikuṇṭha-aiśvarya-rasa in the Paravyoma.
“Śṛṅgāra–rasa is the rasa par excellence that bestows sāndrānanda, highly condensed bliss—absent are the two forms of unsatisfactory happiness: śuṣkānanda, the dry pleasure of impersonal realization; and jaḍānanda, the pleasure derived from inert matter. In śṛṅgāra–rasa, the pleasure is not saṇkucitānanda, limited bliss, but is pūrṇānanda, fully blossomed, ever-expanding nectarean bliss. By way of producing this unlimited ocean of bliss, śṛṅgāra–rasa artfully shelters within herself the unlimited variety of bhāvas that often manifest themselves as vijātīya–bhāvā, contrary moods. In this way the rasas are augmented and find full expression. According to the circumstances, these vijātīya–bhāvas are sometimes snehātmaka, affectionate, or sometimes filled with dveṣātmaka, jealousy and enmity.
“However, the transcendental vijātīya–bhāvas of aprākṛta–rasa are by their nature diametrically opposed to their base and defective counterparts in the material world. They are variegated transformations of paramānanda, supreme bliss. They are like the sun that heats the water, thus swelling and expanding the nectarean ocean of rasa.
“According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, bhāva is wonderfully variegated. Those bhāvas that are of completely compatible textures are svapakṣa, of the same group. When there are only slight differences in bhāva texture, the bhāvas are called suhṛt–pakṣa, of a friendly group. When the differences in bhāva texture are more pronounced, those bhāvas are taṭastha, relatively neutral. And when the bhāva textures are mutually opposing, relatively having a totally alien hue, they are called vipakṣa, of the enemy group. In this last circumstance when the bhāvas are vijātīya, then the paramānanda-rasa, supreme ocean of blissful mellows, produces feelings of jealousy, enmity, etc.”
Vijaya, “Yet, why does this polarisation of pakṣa, friends, and vipakṣa, enemies, exist?”
Gosvāmī, “When two nāyikās express their particular bhāvas with equal fervour, this rivalry causes the bhāvas of pakṣa and vipakṣa to appear. Thus, one can see that the resultant camaraderie and belligerency are both inflections of rasa and that too solely for the purpose of enriching and sweetening the uninterrupted flow of śṛṅgāra–rasa.”
Vijaya, “Are the two śaktis, Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Śrī Candrāvalī, equal in tattva?”
Gosvāmī, “No, certainly not! Śrīmatī Rādhikā is mahābhāva–mayi, the very form of mahābhāva, the paramount spectrum of bhāvas, and is thus the essence of the hlādinī–śakti. Śrī Candrāvalī is Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s kāya–vyūha, bodily expansion, and of infinitely less qualification and potency. Notwithstanding, Śrī Candrāvalī has been assigned a status of apparent equality and rivalry with Śrīmatī Rādhikā solely to nurture the prema–līlā of śṛṅgāra–rasa.
“Furthermore, consider that it is not possible that two yūtheśvarīs should possess svajātīya–bhāva, completely similar textures of emotion and nature. On the rare occasions when similarities do surface, there is only a touch of similarity and this also happens by coincidence, just like the path eaten by a bookworm in the page of a book may sometimes resemble the shape of a letter. Actually, considering the great variety of nature amongst the yūtheśvarīs, it is only natural that the svapakṣa and vipakṣa bhāvas of prema–rasa are spontaneously produced.”
Vijaya, “Śrīla Gurudeva, my apprehensions have finally been allayed. Your nectarean instructions have entered my heart and terminated the bitterness of ignorance and doubt. I have now a comprehensive understanding of ālambana, the object and shelter of prema–rasa, in regard to the vibhāva, basic impetus, of mādhurya–rasa.
“Sac-cid-ānanda Kṛṣṇa, the icon of eternity, absolute knowledge and bliss, is the sole nāyaka, manifesting a variety of characteristics that are broadly headed under the personalities of dhīrodātta, dhīra-lalita, dhīra-śānta, and dhīroddhata. As the nāyaka, He enjoys the roles of pati and upapati, thus eternally churning up rasa with His prema–līlā. In these roles, He manifests the attitudes of anukūla, faithfulness; dakṣiṇa, sincerity; śaṭha, deceitfulness; and dhṛṣṭa, bold precociousness. He is always served by His dear friends in their roles as ceṭa, messengers; viṭa, personal attendants; vidūṣaka, humorists; pīṭha–mardda, constant companions; and priya-narma-sakhās, most intimate friends. Kṛṣṇa, so fond of playing upon His divine vaṁśī has today appeared in my heart, as the singular viṣaya of mādhurya-rasa.
“Simultaneously, I have realized that the āśraya of mādhurya–rasa are the vraja-sundarīs, who play the role of nāyikās. Nāyikās are of two kinds: svakīya and parakīya. In Vraja, the pārakiya-nāyikās are the āśraya of śṛṅgāra-rasa and are of three varieties: sādhana-para, devī, and nitya–priya. These exquisite vraja–sundarīs have distributed themselves over numerous yūthas, in order to serve Kṛṣṇa. In this way, millions of lovely vraja–gopīs are guided by innumerable yūtheśvarīs, amongst whom Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Candrāvalī are the most prominent. The yūtha of Śrīmatī Rādhikā features five types of sakhīs: sakhī, nitya-sakhī, prāṇa sakhī, priya-sakhī, and parama-śreṣṭha-sakhī.
“The parama-śreṣṭha-sakhīs—such as Lalitā, Viśākhā, etc—are also known as the aṣṭa–sakhīs. Although they are qualified to become yūtheśvarīs, the yearning to always remain the followers of Śrīmatī Rādhikā precludes these aṣṭa-sakhīs from leading their own separate yūthas. However, the sakhīs who like to emulate their particular mood of service are known as their gaṇa; for instance, there is the lalitā–gaṇa, the viśākhā-gaṇa, etc.
“Nāyikās are of three types: mugdhā, madhya, and pragalbhā. Of these three, the madhya and pragalbhā are both subdivided into a further three categories: dhīra, adhīra, and dhīrādhīra. Therefore, one mugdhā, plus three madhya, plus three pragalbhā makes seven categories. These seven categories are then further subdivided into the two types—svakīya and parakīya—to make fourteen types. When the separate category of kanyā-nāyikā, is added to these fourteen, then a total of fifteen categories of nāyikās is achieved. These fifteen categories of nāyikās are then found in the eight avasthā, circumstances—beginning with abhisārikā and so on—which when multiplied together—fifteen times eight—makes a total of one hundred and twenty categories of nāyikās. However, these one hundred and twenty nāyikās are further graded according to the three levels of qualification—uttama, madhyama, and kaniṣṭha—and so we arrive at a grand total of three hundred and twenty nāyikās.
“Within my enraptured heart has awakened the understanding of the vyavahāra, dealings, of the yūtheśvarī—such as their suhrd-vyavahāra, warm and affable demeanours—and their tātparya, purposes in service. I have also grasped the different services of the sakhīs and dūtīs. All this most esoteric knowledge has opened the doors of my perception and I now understand the position of the gopīs who are the āśraya-tattva of rasa. When I combine this understanding with the details of the viṣaya-tattva of rasa, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, I realize the fundamental ālambana-tattva, which finds expression as an ingredient of vibhāva. Tomorrow, I shall return to my place here at your lotus feet to learn about uddīpana, which is the other division of vibhāva, the basis for tasting kṛṣṇa-prema. The Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa has been truly merciful to lead me to a sad–guru of your sublime calibre. Your nectarean words are my only sustenance.”
Śrī Gopāla-guru Gosvāmī affectionately put his arms around Vijaya and said, “My son, I am forever grateful to Kṛṣṇa for sending me such a worthy disciple as you. Śrīla Nimānanda, Śrī Caitanya, is prompting me from within with all the right answers in concert with the esoteric questions that you ask.”
It was a touching scene. The overwhelmed and grateful disciple and the satisfied and humble sad-guru were exchanging words of deeply felt spiritual affection. The residents of the Śrī Rādhā-kānta temple were enraptured; Śrī Dhyānacandra in particular was extremely pleased to see the abundant shower of divine grace upon Vijaya. At that moment, some exalted devotees entered the temple and began to sing a song composed by the great Vaiṣṇava poet, Caṇḍīdāsa:
sai (sakhī), kebā sunāila śyāma-nāma (chorus)
“Oh my dear sakhī! Who has made me hear the name, Śyāma?”
kānera bhitara diyā, marame paśila go,
ākula karila mora prāṇa
“Entering through my ears and playing within my heart, it has overwhelmed my patience and made me feel so capricious.”
japite, japite nāma, avaśa karila go,
kemone pāibo sai, tāre
“I do not know how much sweet nectar springs from this name, Śyāma, for even just one moment my tongue can’t be restrained from such relish.”
japite, japite nāma, avaśa karila go,
kemone pāibo sai, tāre
“As I constantly chant the name, Śyāma, I am overcome by love, Oh my dear sakhī! How may I meet Him?”
nāma-paratape jāra, aichana karila go,
aṅgera paraśe kibā haya
“If I am so conquered by just His name, then by the merest touch of His body what will become of me?”
yekhāne vasati tāra, sekhāne thākhiya go,
yuvatī dharama kaiche raya
“Should my eyes dwell upon Him for just a moment, then how shall I keep my vows of chastity?”
pāśarite kari mane, pāśarā na jāya go,
ki kāribe ki habe upāya
“Long have I struggled to push Him far away from my thoughts, but alas I am held captive! What should I do?”
kahe dvija-caṇḍīdāsa, kulavatī kula-nāse,
apanāra yauvana jācāya
“Dvija Caṇḍīdāsa humbly says, ‘Oh Śyāma, this beautiful girl, who so respects the honour of her family, has yet sacrificed herself upon the altar of Your ever-fresh, blossoming youthfulness.”
Accompanied by the mṛdaṅga and karatālas, the kīrtana continued for an hour and a half, drowning everyone in waves of ecstasy. After being so absorbed, Vijaya offered his respects to all the Vaiṣṇavas, then his prostrated obeisances to the lotus feet of his guru, Śrīla Gopāla-guru Gosvāmī, and left for his quarters in Haracaṇḍi Sāhi.
Thus ends the thirty-fourth chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled:
Mādhurya-rasa, Part Four