When Vraja-dhāma is at its most complete, Śri Kṛṣna’s aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā (eightfold daily pastimes) are the most radiant. Pure devotees take shelter of madhura–rasa and experience it with their spiritual bodies (aprākṛta–deha). In that aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā the two kinds of rasa are sambhoga (union) and vipralambha (separation). Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Her servants relish these. There is no pleasure in sambhoga without vipralambha, and for this reason, during the aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā, there are feelings of pūrva-rāga, virāha etc.* That sweetness is manifest in newer and newer ways, and not all these feelings manifest at the same time. When a devotee becomes devoted to śuddha–nāma, then at that time he floats in the current of bhakti, relishing the Name, and in his aprākṛta–deha, all these tattvas appear and are developed.
*Translator’s Note: Pūrva-rāga is the initial stage of divine love. It is attachment lovers have after seeing each other for the first time, before they actually meet. Virāha is another word for separation.
When Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are in Vraja-dhāma, Their līlā cannot be revealed through the logical conclusions of śāstra. One should take shelter of a sad–guru (genuine guru) and the Holy Name while avoiding offences, and in this way one engages in anartha-nivṛtti, and through such devotion to śrī-nāma, one attains all perfection. If nāmāparādha is present, the results of the Holy Name will not arise. If hṛdaya-daurbalya and asat-tṛṣṇa are not curbed, one’s bhakti will not be firm.*
*Translator’s Note: Hṛdaya-daurbalya (‘weakness of heart’) means the heart becomes agitated when there is material loss or gain. Asat-tṛṣṇa (‘thirst for material things’) refers to the hankering for mundane objects.
Those who seek to attain pure bhakti-tattva must, first and foremost, do whatever it takes to completely destroy their multitude of anarthas. Anarthas do not go away in one day! By endeavouring to chant the Name without offences, gradually they will be eliminated. Such anarthas are unfavourable for bhajana. If anarthas remain, there can be no improvement in one’s bhajana. If the four kinds of anarthas are removed all at once,* then Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s nāma, guṇa, rūpa and līlā (Name, qualities, form and pastimes) will eventually develop according to one’s progress, if śuddha-nāma manifests. Then, kṛṣṇa-nāma gives darśana of His form which is of a dark hue (śyāma-varṇa).
*Translator’s Note: The four kinds of anarthas are svarūpa–bhrama (identifying with the material body), asat-tṛṣṇa, hṛdaya-daurbalya and aparādha.
Gradually, as one’s own qualities arise, the extraordinary qualities of Śrī Gopī-vallabha (Kṛṣṇa, the Lover of the gopīs) also manifest. When one achieves siddhi (perfection), then the result is that one attains darśana of the līlā, and is counted amongst the maidservants of the gopīs of Vraja. Then one experiences the bliss of service to Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa during the eight times of the day, in a mood of sambhoga. If one sincerely receives śrī-nāma from a sad-guru and takes exclusive refuge in the Holy Name, then in a very short time, everything becomes perfect and there is no waiting for another birth. Immersed in the divine bliss of the Name, an extraordinary feeling arises in the heart. The meditation of karma-yoga is nothing compared to this pure bliss. There is no object greater than the Holy Name. Śrī-hari-nāma is most superior to all spiritual truths, and it is the very basis of the life of a pure devotee. In the Śrī Caritāmṛta it is said:
kali-yuge yuga-dharma nāmera pracāra
tathi lāgi pīta-varṇa caitanyāvatāra
(“The yuga–dharma of Kali-yuga is the propagation of the Holy Name. In order to do this, the avatāra of Śrī Caitanya descended in a golden colour.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 3.40)
The mystical mood concerning the qualities of this avatāra are both internal and external. Internally, He is in the rasa of Vraja, in particular pārakīya-rasa, He is the best of youthful dancers, dressed as a cowherd boy, wearing a garland of forest flowers around His neck, dressed in yellow garments, holding the muralī flute to His lips etc. Externally, He has the mood and effulgence of Rādhā, relishing prema–bhakti, instructing the jīvas and propagating śrī-nāma in the form of an ācārya. From that Holy Name, His internal bhāva manifests and He then distributes that sweet Name and that Sweet rasa. This has been described by those mahājanas who are pure devotees who have seen it with the eyes of prema. The ocean of vraja-rasa is extraordinary. One drop from there and the jīva forgets himself. Even while remaining in the material world, he relishes the sweetness of Vraja and becomes aware of the mystical mood of that hidden avatāra in his spiritual body, through which he experiences all types of bliss. It is said in the Śrīdhāma Māhātmya:
dāsya paripakke yabe jīvera hṛdaye
śrī madhura-rasa ude mūrtimāna haye
se samaya bhajanīya tattva gaura-hari
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-rūpa haye vraje avatari
nitya-līlā rase sei bhakta-ke ḍubāya
rādhā-kṛṣṇa nitya-līlā vraja-dhāma pāya
(“When servitorship fully matures within the heart of a jīva, then the form of śrī-madhura-rasa arises. At that time, the worshippable Reality, Śrī Gaurahari, descends in the form of Rādha-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. They submerge the devotee in the rasa of Their nitya-līlā, and thus he attains Rādha-Kṛṣṇa’s nitya-līlā in Vraja-dhāma.” – Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma Māhātmya 18.31-33)
Those who follow the teachings of Śrī Mahāprabhu and take shelter of the Holy Name, soon see that kṛṣṇa-nāma manifests in the form of supreme prema. Pārakīya madhura-rasa is the topmost amongst all other types of rasa. Due to the intense sweetness of this rasa, it has been expressed by the name ‘mādhurya-rasa’.