13) THE ESSENCE OF THE MADHURA BHAVA
1. The hard inward struggle of the aspirant and his goal
It is difficult for one who is not a Sadhaka to understand the biographies of Sadhakas, for Sadhana is a thing of the subtle realm of spirituality. There the gross deluding forms of sight, taste and other sense-objects are not experienced; there, the marvellous co-existence or succession of events around what appear to be external things and persons is not seen; neither is there the slightest manifestation of the frantic efforts which a man makes for the sole purpose of enjoying the monopoly of pleasures for elbowing out all others, which the ordinary people, deluded by sense-objects, extol as heroism and greatness, but which, in reality, are but products of the human mind rendered restless under the impulse of the pairs of opposites such as attachment and aversion, fame and infamy, etc. But what exist there are only the aspirant’s mind and the infinite currents of its impressions of past lives. In that realm there exists the attraction towards high ideals leading the aspirant on to the ultimate goal, attraction produced by his constantly coming in conflict with certain external things and persons. There exists his endless unflinching struggle against his adverse impressions in order to make the mind fix itself exclusively on those ideals leading on to that goal. There exists a resolute attempt at continually diving deeper into one’s own personality by turning the mind away from all external objects and withdrawing it within. There exists the effort of mining in deeper and deeper regions of the inner world and experiencing the subtler and subtler strata of ideas. And there is at last the final arrival at the deepest regions of one’s own existence, where one realizes and remains identified with that one immutable Reality without a second, which is devoid of sound, touch and form, from which, as from their substratum, all the ideas including the “I” consciousness spring and in which they eternally exist. Afterwards, unless the impressions of the mind wear away completely and its doubting nature is destroyed for ever, it comes down from Samadhi, to experience the external world again by reversing the process through which it attained the immediate knowledge of the non-dual Reality. Thus does the mind of the aspirant continue to descend from the superconscious to the normal consciousness and again ascend from it to the superconscious, over and over again.
2. The natural inclination of the minds of extraordinary Sadhakas is to remain in the Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Sri Ramakrishna is one of this class
But the history of the spiritual world has also on record the description of a few minds whose natural abode seemed to be the plane of the superconscious from the most ancient times, but who somehow kept themselves forcibly confined for some time to the plane of the external world for the good of humanity. The more we study the history of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual strivings, the more shall we understand that his mind belonged to this class. If that conviction be not produced in the minds of the readers from a study of this book, the shortcomings of the author should be held responsible for it; for the Master said to us repeatedly, “I hold forcibly to one or two trifling desires, with the help of which I keep the mind weighted down for you all; otherwise its natural inclination is to remain united and identified with the indivisible One.”
3. What are called Sunya and Puma are one and the same Reality
Some of the ancient seers have called the indivisible non-dual Reality, the “void” (Sunya, the absence of all existence) and others have called It the “all” (Puma, where all experiences meet). As a matter of fact, both of them imply the same experience. For they have described It as One from which all things come into being and in which they merge. The Reality that has been called by Buddha the “void”, in which all beings get extinguished, has been described by Sankara as the “all”, the substratum of them all. If we leave aside the opinions of the later Buddhist teachers and study Buddha and Sankara, we irresistibly come to this conclusion.
4. The nature of non-duality
The plane of the non-dual consciousness indirectly implied by the words “void” and “all” has been described in the Upanishads, the Vedanta, as the state beyond all ideation, For, perfectly established in it, the mind of the aspirant transcends the limits of all other planes of consciousness produced by God’s play of creation, preservation and dissolution, and merges in homogeneity. Therefore, the nondual state of consciousness is something non-relational, different from the five moods, such as the Santa, Dasya, etc., with the aid of which the limited human mind enters the spiritual realm and becomes bound up with God in an eternal relation. Only when the man of the world becomes absolutely indifferent to all kinds of enjoyment, whether of this world or of the next, and attains, on the strength of purity, a position higher than that of the gods, he comes to the non-dual mood. With the help of this he realizes the attributeless Brahman, in which the whole universe together with God, its creator, preserver and destroyer, has its eternal being and on the attainment of which the acme of life is reached.
5. The five moods of Santa, Dasya, etc., and the God attainable by them
Leaving aside the non-dual mood and the attributeless Brahman attainable with its help, we find the manifestation of the “five moods”, namely, Santa, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhura in the spiritual world. The object attainable through each of these is Brahman with attributes, or Isvara, who is all-controlling, all-powerful and by nature eternally pure, awakened and free. The aspirant tries to know Him by attributing one or other of these moods to himself with relation to Him And He also, who is the inner controller of all beings and the repository of all moods, sees the single-minded devotion of the aspirant’s mind and in order to help him in developing the mood, reveals Himself to him in a body conformable to it and thus blesses him It is thus that God, who is pure consciousness, assumes in different ages various forms that are the embodiments of these different moods. He, we read in the scriptures, incarnates Himself even as a man to fulfil the desires of the devotees.
6. The nature of the five moods. How they help man to progress
The five moods are the subtle and purified forms of those mundane relations by which human beings are bound up with one another in their daily lives. We are conscious of particular relations with father, mother, husband, wife, male friend, female friend, master, servant, son, daughter, king, subject, teacher, disciple and so on, and feel that we should behave towards others in a calm and respectful attitude of mind if they are not enemies. The teachers of devotion have classified those relations into five divisions of the Santa etc., and advised people to resort, according to their fitness, to one or other of these as the primary one, and attribute it to themselves with relation to God. For, it is easy for Jivas to try to know God with the help of these five moods or relations of Santa etc., with which they are always acquainted. That is not all. Those moods, which were formerly dependent on the worldly relations rooted in desires, producing aversion, attachment and other similar modifications, that impelled men to commit various evil actions, will now, when oriented towards God, help the aspirants advance towards the realization of God by their irresistible original impetus. Take for example, lust, which is a disease, so to say, of the heart and the cause of all misery. It will now keep them engaged in the desire for God-vision. Their anger will now be directed against the things and persons that are obstacles on their paths to that vision. They will now become mad after and infatuated with the enjoyment of the wonderful beauty and love of God, the object to be attained, and noticing the unique splendour of spirituality in persons who have succeeded in attaining the holy vision of God, the culmination of blessedness, they will now become anxious to have it themselves.
7. Love is the means to the Sadhana of the five spiritual moods; and the personality of God is its object
Man has not learnt to assume these five moods in his relation to God at any particular time or from any particular person. But many great souls appeared in this great hermitage of the world at different times and engaged themselves in practices for the realization of God through one, two or more of these moods, and having made the Lord their own by means of their extraordinary love, taught men to do likewise. When we study the unique lives of these teachers, it becomes clear that only the love for God is at the root of the Sadhanas of those moods and that the said love has always for its object one or other of the numerous forms of the personal God; for, as long as man does not experience the nondual Reality, so long is he bound to have the conception and experience of one or other of the forms of the personal God.
8. Love brings to an end the consciousness of power. This removal is the measure of the moods
When we study the nature of love existing between a pair of lovers, we clearly see that it removes gradually the consciousness of difference based on their knowledge of their separate powers. Similarly, it removes by degrees from the mind of the spiritual aspirant engaged in the Sadhana of any mood, his consciousness of God’s unlimited powers and teaches him to regard God as but his beloved according to his peculiar mood. Therefore the aspirant treading this path makes Him entirely his Own by means of love and does not at all hesitate to request, importune, or scold Him or otherwise show Him his feeling of wonderful love. The more the practice of one of these five moods enables the aspirant to forget the powers of God and experience nothing else but His love and sweetness, the more exalted is it regarded in this Sadhana of moods. It is only from this point of view that the teachers of devotion have ascertained the various differences between the five moods and have assigned the highest place to the Madhura Bhava; otherwise each one of them is, as those teachers have unanimously admitted, capable of making the aspirant realize God.
9. The devotional scriptures and the life of Sri Ramakrishna teach us that with the help of each one of these moods man can ultimately realize the non-dual Reality
It is known from the study of the history of religions that, with the ultimate development of each of the five moods, the aspirant forgets himself and feels happy when his beloved is happy. Absorbed in thought of Him during the time of separation from Him, he sometimes loses even the consciousness of his own existence. From the study of devotional books like the Bhagavata, it is seen that not only did the Gopis of Vraja forget in this way their own existence but actually felt on occasions identified with their beloved Krishna. It is well known from the devotional books of the Christians that, absorbed in the thought of the Passion of Christ, some mystics bore the stigmata and bled from those marks on their bodies.1Therefore we find that with the final development of each one of the five moods, the aspirant becomes absorbed in the thought of his or her Object of love and, united and identified with Him under the strong impulse of love, realizes the non-dual state of consciousness. Sri Ramakrishna’s unique life of spiritual striving has thrown wonderful light on this matter. He practised each of the five spiritual loving moods and in each of them he became merged in the Object of his love and absolutely forgetting his own existence, realized the non-dual Reality.
How, it may be asked, can the human mind experience, with the help of these moods, the Reality of non-duality, which is beyond all moods? For no mood can ever rise, exist or develop in the human mind without the consciousness of two persons.
10. The objection and answer regarding the attainment of the non-dual Reality with the help of the five moods
Quite true. But, the more a mood develops the more does it spread its own influence and remove gradually from the aspirant’s mind all contrary ideas. Again, when it is fully developed, the concentrated mind of the aspirant sometimes in meditation forgets I (the servant) and Thou (the Master) and the relation between them and remains perfectly identified through love with the Reality denoted by the word Thou. The human mind, the eminent teachers of India say, is not simultaneously conscious of I and Thou, and the loving relation between them. It knows the entity denoted by the word Thou one moment and that denoted by the word I the next moment and, because the mind oscillates quickly between the ideas of those two entities, there develops in it an idea of a relation between them It then seems to be simultaneously conscious of those two entities and the relation between them. But when the restlessness of the mind is destroyed by the influence of the matured mood of love, it gradually becomes able to detect what has been said above. The more the functioning of the mind is stilled at the time of meditation, the more does it understand by degrees that it saw the one non-dual Reality from two angles of vision and mistook it for two independent entities.
11. The prevalence of the Sadhanas of different moods in different ages
One is simply amazed to think what a vast period of time and what superhuman efforts of numberless aspirants were necessary for the full development of each of the moods through which the human mind was enabled to realize the non-dual Reality. When we study the history of religions as embodied in the scriptures, it becomes clear that a particular mood became the principal prop of the
human minds during meditation in a particular age; and with the help of it many eminent aspirants of that age realized God and a rare few gained the immediate knowledge of the non-dual reality of Brahman. We meet with the final development of the Santa mood mainly in the Vedic and Buddhistic ages, with the non-dual mood as the ultimate development of the Santa, and also the moods of the Dasya and the Apatya1in the Upanishadic age, with the moods of the Santa and the Dasya mixed with motiveless action in the Epic age, with the Apatya and the partial Madhura in the Tantric age, and with the moods of the Sakhya, the Vatsalya and the Madhura in the Vaishnava age.
12. What is seen regarding the full development of the five mood in India and in other countries
While the full manifestation of all the five moods together with the non-dual mood is thus found in the history of the religions of India, manifestations of the Santa, Dasya and Apatya only are found in the religious communities of other countries. Though the songs of King Solomon, the royal sage, expressing the friendly and sweet moods in relation to God are intact in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, the members of these communities are unable to understand the import of those songs and attribute a different meaning to them. The moods of Sakhya and Madhura are, it goes without saying, extant to a great extent in the Sufi community professing Islam, yet the generality of the Muslims regard such worship of God as contrary to the precepts of the Koran. Again, though the worship of the Mother of the universe in the image of Mary, the mother of Christ, is extant, in an obscured form, in the Catholic Christian community, it is not directly connected with the idea of God as Mother. It has, therefore, not been as fruitful as the worship of the universal Mother extant in India and has not enabled the aspirant to realize the indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and to experience the divine manifestation in all women without exception. The current of the idea of the Motherhood of God has disappeared midway like the river Phalgu.1
13. What indicates the depth of the aspirant’s mood
When the mind of the aspirant is attracted to God with the aid of some loving mood, it becomes, as we have said before, gradually absorbed in that mood, turns away from the external world and merges itself in the self. At the time of the mind’s merging, its past impressions stand in its way and try to make it swim on the surface, pushing it upwards again and again. Therefore ordinary human minds with powerful past impressions, cannot generally become absorbed even in one mood, even by a whole life’s effort. When that happens, they at first become discouraged and give up the effort and at last, losing faith in the Object to be attained, come to consider the enjoyment of sights, tastes, etc., of the external world to be the only thing worth having, and pursue it again. Aversion for outward things, absorption in the meditation of the Object of love and the ecstasy produced by one’s spiritual mood are, therefore, regarded in the sphere of the devotional Sadhana as the measure of the aspirant’s progress towards the goal.
14. What occurs to one’s mind when one sees the Master attain success in all the moods
One who has not made an attempt to be absorbed in any one of the moods and has not therein met with strong obstacles due to past impressions hidden in the mind, will not at all understand the inward struggle in the aspirant’s mind. He alone who has done it will know what sufferings have to be undergone before that merging in spiritual love takes place, and only he will be astonished to see Sri Ramakrishna attaining in a short time an extraordinary merging in all the devotional moods, one after another, and feel that it is not possible for mere human power to attain such a state.
15. A discussion on the lack of records of the spiritual practices of the spiritual heroes
Is it because the ordinary human mind was not able to understand the subtle truths of the spiritual realm that the history of the practices of the spiritual heroes, who are known as the incarnations of God, has not been adequately recorded? For, a detailed discussion on the detachment from and the renunciation of the world at the time of their undertaking discipline, and the wonderful power manifested through them after their success in it for the good of the human minds which are deluded by worldly objects, are the only things found in that history. We find given there only a slight indication of the extraordinary inward struggle in which they were engaged during the period of their striving for the purpose of destroying and uprooting the deep impressions in their minds and securing mastery over themselves. Or, that struggle has been described in that history with the help of metaphors and hyperboles in such a way that it has become quite impossible for us to find out the grain of truth in that description. The reader will understand what we mean when we give a few examples.
16. This statement is applicable equally
(1) to Krishna
Sri Krishna was engaged on many occasions in performing austerities with a view to acquiring particular powers for the purpose of doing good to humanity. But no description of the succession of the moods of his mind is found except that he remained for some time standing on one leg living on water or air alone.
(2) to Buddha
We do not get so detailed an account of Buddha’s striving as of his detachment from the world, his leaving home for the purpose of becoming an anchorite and, afterwards, his establishing Dharmachakra, the wheel of religion. But, a little of the history of his spiritual moods is available, unlike in the instance of other spiritual heroes. It is recorded that abstaining from food and drink and having the firm resolve to succeed, he was engaged in practising austerity and meditation for six long years without leaving his seat; and controlling the internal vital forces and practising the meditation he entered into Samadhi. But, while recording his struggle during that period with the past impression hidden in his mind, his biographer has, with the help of gross external events, introduced a story of his fight against Mara.1
(3) to Jesus
The history of the striving of Jesus is also not available. After recording a few events of Jesus’ life till he was twelve, his biographer has described how, in his thirtieth year, Jesus was baptised by John, a perfect holy man, and entered alone a lonely desert where he practised austerity and meditation for forty days; how, though tempted by Satan, he came out victorious and returned from there; and how at last he engaged himself in doing good to humanity. He continued to be in the gross body for three years only after that event. There are, therefore, no records whatever of how he spent his time from the twelfth to the thirtieth year of his life.
(4) to Sankara
Although a good deal of the sequence of events in Sankara’s life is found, one has very often only to infer the history of the moods of his mind.
and (5) to Chaitanya. Sri Ramakrishna on the ultimate truth of the Madhura Bhava
Many events of the Sadhana of Chaitanya are found recorded; the story of his exalted love of God, devoid of the slightest tinge of desire, has been described in a way unintelligible to the ordinary minds, in the form of metaphors with the help of the stories of the love between Radha and Krishna and their separation from each other. And it has to be admitted that Chaitanya and his chief companions have recorded in some detail, though in metaphorical language, the changes that came upon the mind of the aspirant from the inception to almost the ultimate perfected state of each of the spiritual moods of Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhura, with especial emphasis on the last. But they have not given out the ultimate truth that when the aspirant’s mind becomes completely absorbed in any of the aforesaid three moods, it experiences its oneness with the Object of its love and merges in the non-dual Reality. The unique life of Sri Ramakrishna and the extraordinary history of his Sadhana have taught us that ultimate truth very clearly in the modern age and enabled us to understand that all the religious moods of all the religious communities of the world bring the mind of the aspirant to one and the same goal. Leaving aside all the other things that may be learnt from his life, it may be said here that the whole world is undoubtedly eternally indebted to him for the wonderful width of spiritual vision indicating the universality of religion that we have gained through his grace.
17. The Madhura Bhava and the Vaishnava teachers
The Madhura Bhava is said to be the greatest contribution of the Vaishnava teachers like Chaitanya to the spiritual world. Had they not shown the way, so many people could not have resorted to it for God-realization and been endowed with peace and pure bliss. They were the first to understand that the Vrindavan Lila of Sri Krishna was not acted in vain and to make efforts to explain it to others. But for the advent of Chaitanya, Vrindavan would have been regarded as an ordinary forest.
18. An objection to the historicity of the Lila at Vrindavan and the refutation thereof
Endeavouring, in imitation of the West, to record only outward events the historians of the modern age will say, “But there is no evidence that the play of Vrindavan actually took Place as you say.
Therefore, don’t you see that so much of your joy and sorrow, and the moods including the Mahabhava, are all without a basis?” The Vaishnava teachers may say in reply, “How can you either produce sure evidence that what we cite from the Puranas did not take place? Until we get the proof that your history has undoubtedly opened the door to that very ancient age, we shall say that your doubt itself is unfounded. Moreover, even if you should ever produce such proof, no harm will touch our faith. It will not affect at all the eternal play in the eternal Vrindavan of the divine Lord. That mystery of the divine play in the ideal spiritual realm will eternally remain uniformly true. If in the realm of Consciousness you desire to witness the divine play of love between Radha and Krishna, which belongs to that same realm, become first of all free from the slightest tinge of lust in body, mind and speech and learn to perform selfless service by following in the footsteps of any one of the female friends of Srimati Radha. You will then see that Sri Vrindavan, the playground of Sri Hari, is eternally there in your heart and that the said play is being enacted with you every day.”
19. In order to understand this play at Vrindavan, it is necessary to comprehend the history of devotional moods; what the Master said about it
He who has not learnt how to be independent of external events and how to study with a pure heart the history of the devotional moods by a thorough acceptance of the ideal world as real, will never be able to enjoy the beauty and sweetness of His play at Vrindavan. While Sri Ramakrishna was describing that play of the Divine with great enthusiasm to the English-educated young men who were with him, he found that they did not relish it and he said, “Why don’t you mark and grasp the attraction of Srimati’s heart to Krishna in that divine play? When one has that kind of attraction to God, one realizes Him Just see how mad the Gopis were for Krishna, renouncing their all – husbands, children, family and propriety of conduct, honour and dishonour, shame and aversion, fear of public opinion and of society and so on! When one can be so, one realizes the divine Lord.” “If”, continued he, “one is not free from the least tinge of lust, one cannot understand the spiritual mood of Radha, the embodiment of Mahabhava. As soon as they saw Krishna, the embodiment of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, the Gopis felt a joy in their hearts, tens of millions of times greater than sexual pleasure; they then lost their body-consciousness. Ah, could the idea of the sex-enjoyment by the contemptible body cross their minds then? Divine light came out of Sri Krishna’s body and touched their bodies, producing infinitely greater pleasure, in every pore of their bodies, than that of sexual enjoyment.”
At one time Swami Vivekananda raised an objection in regard to the historicity of the play of Radha and Krishna at Vrindavan and made an attempt to prove its unauthenticity. The Master said in reply, “Very well, let us take for granted that there was never any one called Radha and that some loving Sadhaka had an imaginary conception of Radha’s personality. But while picturing that character, the Sadhaka, you must admit, had to lose himself completely in Radha’s mood, and thus he became Radha. It is therefore proved that the play at Vrindavan was thus enacted in the outer world also.”
Indeed, though innumerable objections regarding the divine Lord’s play of love at Vrindavan may be raised, the Madhura Bhava first discovered by the Vaishnava teachers led by Chaitanya and others and manifested in their pure lives, will remain eternally true. At all times, the aspirant, fit for it, will attain the hallowed vision of the divine Lord, feel blessed by looking on Him as husband and himself as wife and, with the final development of that mood, be also established in the pure, non-dual Brahman Itself.
20. The reason why Chaitanya induced man, the sterner sex, to practise the Madhura Bhava
Although for women it is easy and natural to attribute husbandship to the divine Lord and undergo the discipline accordingly, it appears to be unnatural for those who have male bodies. The question, therefore, naturally arises in one’s mind why Chaitanya introduced such an unbecoming discipline in the world. It has to be said in reply that all the actions of the incarnations of an age are done for the good of humanity. That path of Sadhana was introduced by Chaitanya for the same purpose. He made the aspirants advance on the path of the Madhura Bhava, keeping in mind the spiritual ideal which the then aspirants were for a long time eager to realize. It cannot be a fact that the eternally perfect Chaitanya, an incarnation of God, engaged himself in practising that mood for his own good and established it as a perfect ideal in society. Sri Ramakrishna said, “Just as the external teeth (tusks) of elephants are for attacking their enemies, and the internal ones for masticating food and maintaining their bodies, so two kinds of moods were manifested in Sri Chaitanya, the one inward and the other outward. He did good to humanity with the help of the outward mood of Madhura Bhava, and being himself established in Brahman Itself as the ultimate development of the love for God, enjoyed personally the immense bliss in the inward mood of non-duality.”
21. The spiritual condition of the country of that time. How Chaitanya improved it
Antiquarians say that there arose in this country the teachers of the Vajra-yana at the end of the Buddhistic Age. They preached that, having attempted to realize Nirvana, the final beatitude, and having almost been freed from the clutches of desires, the human mind went forward to merge in the great void with the help of meditation. But then “Niratma”, the goddess of non-existence, appeared before it and, instead of allowing it to do so, kept it united with her own body. Thus, though the gross body in which the aspirant enjoyed worldly objects did not then exist, she made him daily enjoy the aggregate of the essences of sensuous pleasures, inasmuch as he was even then possessed of a subtle body. Therefore it was no wonder that the doctrine preached by them of the attainment of the ultimate subtle enjoyment of the ideal world by the renunciation of the enjoyment of gross objects, should have become distorted in later ages; that the attainment of the constant enjoyment of the gross objects should have been made the goal of religion; and that it should have increased adultery in the country. At the time of the advent of Chaitanya, the uneducated people of the country adopted that distorted Buddhistic doctrine and were divided into various secret sects. The pure Vamachara, spoken of in the Tantras, became distorted even among most of the higher classes and the quest of miraculous powers and enjoyment of sensuous pleasure by the motivated worship of and meditation on the universal Mother came into vogue. And, desirous of having unlimited bliss in the spiritual world with the help of the devotional moods, the true aspirants of that age were not able to find a way. Chaitanya at first placed before those aspirants the ideals of extraordinary renunciation and detachment by practising them in his own life, and afterwards pointed out that if one became pure and holy and looked upon oneself as a woman and upon God as one’s husband, one can truly realize the unlimited divine bliss in the subtle ideal world. Moreover, he preached the glory of God’s names to the people in general and induced them to repeat continually His names and sing aloud His praise. Many Buddhistic sects that had not got corrupted and fallen from the ideal were thus placed by his grace on the true spiritual path again. Though the groups of the followers of the distorted Vamachara at first opposed him openly, they felt the extraordinary attraction of the unique ideal of his life, became self-denying and tried to have the vision of the universal Mother through motiveless worship. Therefore, while recording the events of the extraordinary life of Chaitanya, some writers wrote that the Buddhists, the upholders of the doctrine of the void, also rejoiced at the time of his birth.1
22. The main point of the Madhura Bhava
Sri Krishna, the supreme Self, the embodiment of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, is the only Purusha,2the Male principle and all the Jivas and creatures, both gross and subtle, are Parts of Prakriti, the embodiment of supreme love, and are therefore, His wives. So, if Jivas become pure and holy and whole-heartedly worship Him as their husband, they attain by His grace liberation and unlimited bliss, the goal of their lives. This is the long and short of the Madhura Bhava preached by Chaitanya. All the other devotional moods are included in the one great mood, the Mahabhava, of which the chief Gopi Radha is the embodiment. Each of the other Gopis is an embodiment of one, two or more moods comprised in the great mood. The aspirant is thus enabled to master the moods comprised within the Mahabhava by engaging himself in Sadhana in imitation of the Gopis of Vraja, and at last becomes blessed through a flash of the great bliss arising from the great mood. The ultimate aim of an aspirant on this path is to become happy in all respects at the happiness of Krishna, by giving up all desires for his or her own happiness once for all, through the contemplation of the mood of Radha, the embodiment of the Mahabhava.1
23. One should have that all devouring love for God, which a paramour has for her lover
The love between a pair of lovers, married according to the rules of society, flows restrained by external conditions such as birth, family, virtuous conduct, fear of society and public opinion. Such a pair live within the bounds of these rules and undergo sacrifices for each other’s happiness, keeping in mind various things that should or should not be done. Desirous of properly observing the hard and fast social rules, the married woman does not hesitate on many occasions to check or limit her relation of love with her husband. But the loving behaviour of a paramour is different. On account of the impulse of love, such a woman very often tramples down the bondage of those rules underfoot and does not hesitate to unite with her lover even giving up all the rights granted her by society. The Vaishnava teachers have advised the aspirants to assume for themselves that alldevouring loving relation towards God. Therefore, though Radha, the supreme lady of Vrindavan, is the married wife of Ayan Ghosh, she has been described as one who renounced her all for the love of Krishna.
24. The Madhura Bhava is the aggregate of all other moods plus something
The Vaishnava teachers have described the Madhura Bhava as the aggregate of the essences of the other four moods and something more. For the loving woman serves her lover like a slave, gives good counsel under all circumstances like a friend, feeling happy at his happiness and miserable at his afflictions, and engages herself like a mother in nourishing his body and mind and thinking of his welfare in all respects. Thus, wholly effacing her own personality, she occupies herself in entertaining her lover’s mind and in bringing all kinds of comforts to him and thus keeping him flooded with extraordinary peace and bliss. The woman who forgets herself under the influence of love and keeps a perfect eye on the welfare and the happiness of her lover is called in the devotional books the Samartha “the excellent” and her love is the best. All other kinds of love, tarnished with a tinge of selfishness, have been assigned to two other classes, viz., Samanjasa “the balanced” and Sadharani “the common”. The woman of the former class minds her own happiness to the same extent as her lover’s and she of the latter class regards her lover as dear for the sake of her own happiness only.
25. How Chaitanya did good to humanity with the help of the Madhura Bhava
Be that as it may, Chaitanya preached the glory of the names of God and taught the aspirants to guide their lives according to the ideal of austere renunciation and place themselves, in respect of love, in the position of the beloved of Krishna, and thus tried to stem the tide of adultery prevalent in the society at that time. His mode of devotion and instruction to the aspirants did endless good to humanity. It showed the right path to those who went astray, brought into the bounds of a new society those who were excommunicated and who were living outside the pale of castes, embracing them all within a new caste called the “devotees of God”, and held the high and pure ideal of renunciation and detachment before all the communities. However, that is not all. He proved beyond doubt that all the mental and physical changes called the “eight Sattvika Vikaras”1(whose Tamasika counterparts are produced by the love and union of ordinary pairs of lovers) actually came on the aspirant of pure mind in virtue of the intense meditation and contemplation on the Divine Husband, the Lover of the Universe. This converted, at that time, the Alankara Sastra, the science of Rhetoric, into a spiritual scripture; and giving the sensual poetic and dramatic literature the colour of spiritual love, made it palatable to spiritual aspirants and conducive to their progress. It thus made the path of discipline easy for them to follow by teaching them to requisition poetry and romance for the purpose of making the divine Lord their very own and to turn even the baser passions of lust, anger, etc., on to Him, passions that had by all means to be shunned during the practice of Santa Bhava, the devotional mood of calmness.
26. How a Vedantin accepts the Sadhana of the Madhura Bhava as conducive to an aspirant’s well-being
Although in the eyes of modern youths the Madhura Bhava appears to be unnatural and unbecoming for those who have male bodies, it does not take long for a Vedantin to ascertain its proper value. He knows that as the result of a very long habit, all thoughts are converted into Samskaras in the human mind and that it is owing to these impressions that man perceives a diverse universe which really is the one non-dual Brahman. If he can, by the grace of God, really look upon the universe this very moment as non-existent, it will immediately disappear into the void from before his senses. The universe exists for a man only because he thinks it exists. I am a man, only because I look upon myself as one and another is a woman because she regards herself as a woman. Again, it is a matter of daily experience that, when one mood becomes predominant in the human mind, it veils and gradually destroys all the other contrary ones. Therefore, an aspirant’s effort to veil and gradually destroy all the other moods of his mind by virtue of the prevalence of the Madhura Bhava assumed by him towards God, is looked upon by the Vedantin as similar to the effort of “removing the thorn in one’s foot with another”. The consciousness of “I am possessed of a body”, which is the basis of all other impressions of the human mind, and the firm belief, “I am a man or a woman”, on account of one’s contact with that body, are two Samskaras that are most powerful. When the male aspirant is able to forget his male nature by attributing the nature of the husband to the divine Lord and of the wife to himself, he, it is needless to say, can very easily throw off as well the mood “I am His wife” and reach the state beyond all moods. Therefore a Vedantin finds it quite reasonable that an aspirant, when perfect in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, should arrive very near the plane transcending all moods.
27. The ultimate aim of practising the Madhura Bhava is to attain the loving mood of Radha
Is the aim of the aspirant, it may be asked, the realization of the devotional mood of Radha? Although the Vaishnava teachers, it may be said in reply, deny it to begin with and say that the mood of only a, friend of Radha is attainable and that her own is not; it is inferred that the latter is the ultimate aim of the aspirant. For, the difference between the mood of Radha and that of her friends is one of degree and not of kind. Like Radha, her friends also worshipped Krishna, the embodiment of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, as their husband and tried to bring about the union between Radha and Krishna in order to make the latter happy, inasmuch as He, they saw, felt most happy when united with Her. Again, we see that, although Rupa, Sanatana, Jiva and other early Vaishnava teachers spent their lives at Vrindavan in the service of different images of Krishna, they did not try to install an image of Radha by the side of Krishna. It is inferred from this fact that they did not do so, only because they considered themselves to be in the position of Radha.
Those who want to study in detail the Madhura Bhava, spoken of in the Vaishnava books, should go through the writings of the early Vaishnava teachers like Rupa, Sanatana, and Jiva, and also the poems of the Vaishnava poets like Vidyapati and Chandidas on Purvaraga (the dawning of the divine love), Dana (offering or dedication), Mana (the affected rejection of the Beloved’s endearment due to excess of emotion), Abhimana (the wounded feeling of love) and Mathur1 (pangs of separation). We have discussed the essentials of the Madhura Bhava here, because it will make it easy to understand what wonderful zenith of excellence the Master reached in the practice of that mood.
1. Vide Life of St. Francis of Assisi, and of St. Catherine of Sienna.
1. Apatya, i.e., the mood of looking upon God as father or mother, here as father. – Tr.
1. A semi-mythical river. – Tr.
1. The Buddhistic Satan. – Tr.
2. Purusha: Existence-Knowledge-Bliss as the subject, the knower, the enjoyer; Prakriti: Existence-Knowledge-Bliss as the object, the known, the enjoyed. Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute means pure or absolute consciousness, when the will (which being a mode of consciousness, is not anything other than consciousness), is not active or is not cognized. When the will is active or is cognized, the same pure consciousness appears, or is viewed as, split in two, the subject and the object, and is talked of in terms of love, when the bliss-aspect is emphasized. – Tr.
1. The state in which one fears lest any harm should befall Krishna, even when he is happy, and hence cannot remain patient for even a moment, is the Rudha stage of the Mahabhava, i.e., the stage in which the Sattvika Vikaras have reached almost the highest point. The Adhirudha stage of the Mahabhava is the highest point of the Rudha stage; it is that stage of bliss and pain, arising respectively from the union with and separation from Krishna, of which all the happiness existing in crores of universes and also the pain produced by the biting of all the snakes and the stinging of all the scorpions are just a drop in the ocean, so to say. The last mentioned state of the Mahabhava has two characteristics; firstly,. Modana i.e., gladness to be found in the friends of Radha only. Secondly, Madana, ‘inebriation’ which is the completest efflorescence of all the Sattvika emotions and bodily changes to be found only in Radha.
– The Bhakti-granthavali of Sri Viswanath Chakravarty.
1. The Sattvika changes are those that shake the body and the mind. They are eight in number, namely, motionlessness, perspiration, horripilation, indistinctness of utterance, tremor, paleness, tears, and loss of consciousness. They are arranged in five grades, according as they give greater and greater enjoyments, taking their nomenclature from the blazing of fire, viz. smoking, smouldering, flaming, glowing and incandescing.
1. These songs on the pangs of separation are collectively named Mathur, or associated with Mathura, because the Gopis of Vrindavan experienced those intense pangs when Krishna left for Mathura, from where He never returned. – Tr.