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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

sāttvika, vyābhicārī and sthāyi bhāvas

Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: sāttvika, vyābhicārī and sthāyi bhāvas

In this final installment of the review of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu's first volume (the 2nd, southern sector), the last 3 chapters, dealing with sāttvika, vyābhicārī and sthāyi bhāvas.

At this stage Bhānu Swāmi starts skipping ṭīkās but I am fairly confident that he has incorporated them into the flowing verse translation. I have not checked it, frankly. The ṭīkās he skips are very short. Jīva's  ṭīkā  to the verse on stambha (2.3.21) is interesting. Stambha, or ecstatic paralysis means: "There is inactivity of the action senses and there is also inaction of the functioning of knowledge-gathering senses as well. There is, however, operation of the mind. This state differs from pralaya or fainting, in which there is no operation even of the mind because of disappearance of all functions."

In his ṭīkā to verse 2.3.30, Jīva Goswāmī says of the gopīs' husbands (quoting SB 10.33.37 nāsūyan khalu kṛṣṇāya): māyā-nirmita-tat-pratikṛter eva patir  'According to this hint, it should be accepted that Abhimanyu was a creation of the Lord's māyā, in the likeness of a husband."

I always felt it a bit awkward to read descriptions of Abhimanyu actually playing any role at all in the direct līlā though such a description is there too in Rūpa Gosvāmī's Vidagdha Mādhava. A bit mysterious.

Verse 54 is also quoted in Caitanya Caritāmṛta, and describes Rukmiṇī condemning the bliss that caused her eyes to fill with tears so that she could not see Kṛṣṇa. Jīva Goswāmī comments: "Here, ānanda is criticised because of the flow of her tears arising from bliss. However, it should be understood that ānanda itself is not actually criticised."

Verse 89 is sometimes quoted to describe sahajiyās (cheap sentimentalists). I am used to the word picchila in the verse being translated as 'slippery', as in sentimental, and that is also how Monier-Williams and Capeller translate it, but Bhānu Swāmī translates it as 'hard'. Habermann calls it 'insensitive' and Jīva calls it upari ślatham antaḥ kaṭhinam picchilam.... 'picchila means externally soft or slimy but internally hard."A similar glossary-confusion exists over the word sañcārī, the subject of the following, fourth, chapter: Bhānu Swāmī says:"Since they set in motion (sañcārayanti) the course of the sthāyi bhāva, they are called sañcārī bhāva." Habermann says:"they cause Foundational Emotions to vary". Viśvanātha Cakravartī should, among them, get the final word. He writes in his ṭīkā:" stands for viśeṣa (special), abhi for abhimukhya and cāra for caranti. Thus it means those bhāvas which move (caranti) against the sthāyi bhāva while nourishing it in a special way (viśeṣena abhimukhyena) and are known by words, bodily movements and qualities of the mind (sattva). These bhāvas are also called sañcārī bhāvas....."

About moha, defined by Rūpa Gosvāmī in verse 2.4.98, Jīva comments: "When the devotees of the Lord develop moha they are still conscious of Kṛṣṇa, because without Him as their shelter, their various emotional states cannot exist." He then quotes SB 10.12.44: tat smāritānanta hṛtākhilendriyaḥ 'Śukadeva, immediately remembering subject matters about Kṛṣṇa within the core of his heart, externally lost contact with the actions of his senses." Jīva continues: "When the lack of external awareness becomes most prominent the state is called pralaya (sāttvika bhāva). When the lack of internal functions becomes prominent it is called moha. Thus in the definition of moha it was said hṛn-mūḍhatā, lack of awareness internally. mūḍha means a swoon or lack of consciousness. hṛt means internal. The meaning of this state of moha can be derived from the meaning of the roots."

A similar fascinating swap of consciousness is explained further on, in verse 2.4.176: "The state just previous to extinguishing of consciousness, in which there is the appearance of Kṛṣṇa without particular pastimes, is called nidrā for the devotees." Jīva Gosvāmī comments: "nidrā has been described as absence of external consciousness. This is normally the state of consciousness under the influence of the mode of ignorance, which is not possible for the highest devotees, since their consciousness is beyond the modes of nature. Why then do they have this state of nidrā? This verse answers. This state of nidrā is a state of concentration on the Lord found in the highest devotees of Kṛṣṇa (it reminds me of the phrase 'svapne rādhā-kṛṣṇa dekhe', in a Bengali song, "the Gosvāmīs saw Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa even in dreams.") It is not a material state of sleep. This is a state beyond the modes. The Garuda Purāna says:

jāgrat svapna suṣupteṣu yogasthasya ca yoginaḥ
yā kācin manaso vṛttiḥ sā bhaved acyutāśrayā 

"All the states of mind - waking, sleeping and dreaming - of the practising yogī take shelter of Acyuta."

Thus the state previous to extinguishing external consciousness in which there is a vision of Kṛṣṇa is called nidrā, not simply extinguishing consciousness....."

In the end of the chapter on vyābhicārī bhāvas (2.4), Rūpa Gosvāmī discusses receptiveness of the individual, saying: "Softness is of three degrees: like bee's wax, butter and nectar. In relation to these, bhāva is like the heat of the sun."The last paragraph of Jīva Gosvāmī's lengthy comment is fascinating: "Thunderbolt, gold and lac are used to explain the phenomenon of becoming liquid (receptive) to various degrees. The person hard like a thunderbolt is completely hostile to Kṛṣṇa. The person who is hard like gold has equal amounts of hostility and affection for the Lord. The person who is hard like lac is affectionate with a slight tinge of hostility. On the other hand, bee's wax, butter and nectar indicate three degrees of softness in affectionate devotees, who are respectively immature, moderate or advanced in their devotion....."

The fifth and last chapter of the first volume, and of the southern section, deals with sthāyi bhāva. In his commentary to verse 97, Jīva asks: "So, is there then no necessity of relishing poetic works for realising these bhāvas?" This verse answers. The taste will develop simply by a little hearing. Joy and sorrow arise invariably in people who are capable of experiencing joy and sorrow. Poetry and drama are easily appreciated by all. Spiritual taste with deep realisation can thus arise through poetry and drama. There are famous examples, such as Hanumān constantly hearing Rāmāyāna, Parīkṣit's testimony etc. Parīkṣit said: "Because of my vow on the verge of death, I have given up even drinking water, yet because I am drinking the nectar of topics about Kṛṣṇa, which is flowing from the lotus-mouth of your Lordship, my hunger and thirst, which are extremely difficult to bear, cannot hinder me." (SB 10.1.13) He also quotes the famous tava kathāmṛtam verse spoken by the gopīs in the Gopī Gīta (S.B. 10.31.9). One may rhetorically ask: "Then, without hearing poetic works, one cannot develop realization of the elements of rasa?" The answer is given. Among the causes, the strength of rati previously described is the real cause of attaining realization of vibhāva and other elements."

Further on in the chapter we find the fascinating description of sādhāranīkaraṇa, identification of the audience with the players of a drama. Verse 2.5.101 says: "Since the activities of rasa are by nature non-material, they are difficult to understand. The various ratis and other elements create a complete identity between the emotions of the contemporary devotee with previous devotees depicted in scripture." Śrī Jīva quotes Sāhitya darpan-verses in his comment to illustrate this point: "The actions of the elements such as vibhāva create total identity of the present devotee with the ancient devotee. By that identification the devotee plunges into the ocean experienced by previous devotees and there is an awakening of utsāha and other bhāvas with an experience identical to that of the ancient devotees. No man at all is condemned for entering that ocean. rati and other elements appear identical to those of the previous devotees. In tasting rati there is no distinction of vibhāva and the other elements of the previous persons and persons of the present time." The example of plunging in the ocean is given to show, from the normal perspective, that there should be no fear or shame at accruing for oneself rati and the other elements, and there should be no joy in identifiying with others' material emotions."

Viśvanātha Cakravartī's comment to this verse is famous: "Hearing during a recitation of Rāmāyana how Hanumān jumped over the ocean, sometimes a sympathetic devotee, absorbed in that mood, giving up all shyness, jumps up amidst the hearers in order to cross the ocean. Or in a drama, sometimes an actor taking the role of Daśaratha, on hearing that Rāma went to the forest, absorbed in the mood of Daśaratha, also gave up his life."

Verse 2.5.107: "However, it is correct when the literary experts say that rati depicted in characters through literary works will not in itself produce rasa, since mundane aspects are involved." Jīva Gosvāmī writes a long tīkā to this, saying that rasa is caused by the audience. the end of the tīkā is interesting: kintu lokātītānanta gunāḥ śrī rāma-sītādayo'pi yan nijānukāryādiṣu praveśyante tattva-yuktam eveti bhāvaḥ. tayoḥ kartṛ vaktrer yadi savāsanatvam syāt tadā teṣāṁ vā kathaṁ na syād... "This does not apply however to depicting characters such as Rāma and Sītā, who are full of unlimited qualities and who enter into the depicted characters. If the actors or reciters also have full sympathy with the portrayed character, they can also cause rasa."

This does hint that a good Rāsa-līlā performance, like the ones they perform in Vṛndāvan in Phālgun and Śrāvaṇa, should create rasa.

Sanātan Gosvāmī's point of separation being a higher bliss than union is also found in BRS 2.5.109 - "In separation, this rati develops its full form of rasa in astonishing bliss, and since it does not give up this form at all, any sufferings is an appearance only."

Jīva Gosvāmī comments: But how will these devotees experience rasa in the pain of separation, since rasa should be most blissful? This verse answers. It is a transformation of astonishing bliss because it is the essence of the highest bliss, and because it has its cause in Bhagavān who is the source of all bliss. It is called only an appearance of the greatest suffering because there is a superimposition of suffering on rati, caused by awareness of separation from the Lord. This suffering acts as a cause for further rati. As well, it disappears with the hope of attaining Kṛṣṇa permanently. vivarta (transformation) here means that the rasa develops its full form.The cause of rati not giving up its nature is mentioned: it is ūrjitā (strong). Because the rati (attraction for the Lord) is strong, it does not give up hope of attaining Kṛṣṇa. It is not possible for it to do so." Jīva then quotes SB 11.8.44 and 10.47.47 to illustrate his point.

Verse 2.5.118 gives a fascinating list of colours that match with the twelve rasas, especially Bhānu Swāmī's translations of the colours: śyāma colour he translates as 'indigo'. That I could never think of that in all the books I have translated!! Indigo by the way is almost the same word as Indīvara, a lotus flower with the same śyāma-colour as Kṛṣṇa. Coincidence? śyāma is the colour of madhura rasa. aruṇa is translated as 'orange', which also sounds similar to aruṇa. Problem is that no dictionary gives such a translation of aruṇa. It is mostly translated as tawny, red or brown. Jīva Gosvāmī comments: "In this verse the colours are assigned according to poetic conventions such as assigning the colour white to fame."

The following verse then ascribes different avatāras to the 12 rasas, of which surprisingly Narasiṁha is not the deity of bhayānaka (fear) but of vātsalya (parental love).

Then finally there is the famous verse about bhāvollāsa rati, 2.5.128, on which Jīva Gosvāmī comments that, despite it all, rati directed towards Rādhā is still a sañcārī bhāva. To my knowledge Kunjabihāri dās Bābājī came to the conclusion in his 'Manjari svarūpa nirupana' that mañjarī bhāva is actually a sthāyi bhāva.... Jīva in Bhanu's words: "This statement has been written here at the end of the topic of sañcārī bhāvas or vyabhicārī bhāvas, since it belongs to the same topic." ....tatrāpi puṣyamānā santatābhiniveśena saṁvarddhamānā syāt tadā sañcāritve'pivaiśiṣṭyāpekṣayā bhāvollāsākhyo bhāva īrṣyata iti; tad idam tvatrānusmṛtya likhitam api sañcārinām ante yojanīyaṁ tatraiva sajātīyatvāt

Thus ends the review of chapters 3, 4 and 5 of the southern sector of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, dealing with sāttvika, vyābhicārī and sthāyi bhāvas.


  1. Radhe Radhe

    Such a long review ! We are reading, ok !

    BTW, technically, indigo, is the sixth colour of the rainbow, a shade lying between blue and violet.

  2. "To my knowledge Kunjabihāri dās Babaji came to the conclusion in his 'Manjari svarūpa nirupana' that manjarī bhāva was actually a sthāyi bhāva...."

    Is this your standpoint also?

  3. I have the original Sanskrit text of Jīva Gosvāmī's tīkā here and two differing translations - a Bengali one by the Gaudiya Math and the English one of Bhānu Swāmi. I tend to side with the former, who writes: madhura rase kintu yadi uhā krsna visayinī rati hoite-o adhikā evam tāhāte santata abhinivesa-vasatah samyak prakāre vrddhi-sīla hoy, tabe sancāri hoile-o sarvabhāvāpeksā paramotkrsta boliyā tāhāke
    bhāvollāsa bolā hoibe. e sthale mantavya ei ye bhāvollāsa sakhi-snehādhikā sakhī-ganera sthāyi-bhāve boliyā dhartavya......
    "In madhura rasa, however, if the love for the sakhi is greater than the love for Krishna and this is constantly increasing due to a deep
    and constant absorption in it, then, though it may be a sancāri bhāva, since it strongly prevails over all other feelings it is called bhāvollāsa. At this point it should be considered a sthāyi-bhāva for the sakhīs who love the sakhīs more (than Krishna)." We must also remember that the verse does appear in the sthāyi bhāva-chapter of BRS. The Sanskrit text of this part of Jiva Gosvami's tika runs as follows: evam madhurākhye rase sa yadi kvacit krsna-visayāyā api ratyā adhikā tatrāpi pusyamānā santatābhinivesena samvarddhamānā
    syāt tadā sancāritve'pi vaisistyāpeksayā bhavollāsākhyo bhāva īrsyata iti.
    The Gaudiya Math translation of the tika is very accurate, though its added verdict that bhāvollāsa is a sthāyibhāva is not literally mentioned in Jīva's tīkā. It also wouldnt make sense that the ācāryas
    would have spent so much time and attention on preaching a mere sancārī bhāva in the tradition's major works like Vilāpa Kusumānjali, Rādhā Rasa Sudhānidhi, Sankalpa Kalpadruma, Utkalikā Vallari, Prema Bhakti Candrikā, Vrindavan Mahimāmrita and what have you.

  4. "It also wouldnt make sense that the ācāryas
    would have spent so much time and attention on preaching a mere sancārī bhāva in the tradition's major works"

    Whether it makes sense or not, is it not inappropriate to put words in Jiva Goswami's mouth that aren't literally there?

  5. I have already replied to your original question in the long comment and declared where I stand. About putting words into acaryas' mouths, this is unfortunately a widespread practise within our Sampradaya, and I have already made it clear often before on these pages that this blog is not meant as an affront to anyone. Whoever earnestly studies the Gosvamis books will come to the right siddhanta, by their grace...

  6. Please excuse me. My comment was really meant to be a criticism of the GM translation's addition of that particular conclusion, making it appear as if it were literally there in the original Sanskrit. I would argue that such a comment would be better expressed as a footnote. My apologies.