The Line of Sri Rupa
The impersonalist transcendentalists say that once we are independent of the flesh connection, the consciousness of the human soul is the highest thing and that no finer, higher thing can exist. But the scriptures say that the Supersoul, or Paramatma, is superior in existence to the individual soul, and that the Bhagavan conception, the personal conception of God, is even higher. This begins with the Vasudev conception: Krishna alone. The Narayan conception is again higher, and the Krishna conception is the highest. And even in the Krishna conception there are divisions: Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrndavan. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the Srimad Bhagavatam assert that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead: Krishnas tu Bhagavan Svayam.
The Vrndavan conception of Krishna as the Supreme Entity is the highest because beauty is above all. Beauty is above all grandeur and power. Neither physical, mental, or intellectual power, nor any other power, but beauty and love is the ultimate controlling power. Absolute good is absolute beauty, and that is the absolute controller. Mercy is above justice. Generally, we cannot conceive that anything could be greater than justice; we think that justice must be the highest principle. But we are told that mercy is above justice.
And who can show mercy? Not an ordinary person, but only a king. One who can compensate for the loss in justice can give mercy. And the highest court is able to compensate everything. Such a realm exists. And there, the Lord is engaged in Pastimes with His paraphernalia of equal quality. There is such a law, a provision beyond the sense of justice in our puppy brain.
Uddhava is recognised as the principal devotee of the Lord, and his statement about mercy is found in the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.2.23):
aho bakiyam stana-kala-kutam
He says, "Where else should I surrender? How can I surrender to anyone more merciful than Krishna, when I find that the demoness Putanain the garb of maternal affection went to kill Krishna, but instead received such a wonderful benediction that she was given a higher post as one of Krishna's mothers? My Lord is so kind, so benevolent. Where else should I surrender? Her poisoned breast was put into the mouth of the infant child Krishna, and she was blessed with such a high and affectionate post! So, how can we measure His grace, His infinite mercy? His ways and mercy are beyond all expectations." Rather than treating her with justice, we find just the opposite. He showed magnanimous behaviour towards His greatest enemy. So, beyond justice there is mercy, and such a high degree of mercy, such a quality and intensity of mercy that it cannot be measured. Uddhava prays, "Where should I find such a standard of grace as this? I must fall flat at the divine feet of Lord Krishna. Why should any man of intelligence not run to fall flat at the feet of such a magnanimous personality as Krishna? His nature is that of the highest love."
Department of mercy
We, the finite, should approach the infinite with this spirit: "If justice is applied, I have no hope. I omit that department. I have come only to seek my fortune in the department of mercy, where there is no calculation of right or wrong, of merit or demerit. I have come to that department, my Lord, because I do not know what is within me. When I analyse and study my own heart, I find that I am unknown to my own self. I am so helpless and wretched that I don't even know my self. How then should I venture to appeal to a department where something will be granted only after a calculation of my merits and demerits? I don't want that. I don't want any decision based on justice.
"I surrender. You may do whatever you like with me. I am the worst of sinners. What to do with me now is in your hands. You, Saviour, I have come to You. If there is any possibility—save me. This is my open appeal, my one-sided appeal." This sort of self-abnegation will automatically cleanse our hearts. By this attitude of saranagati, or surrender, we invite the greatest attention from above. Saranagati, surrender, is the only way to be reinstated in our lost prospect.
At present, we are disconnected from the prospect of divine love which we cherish in the innermost quarter of our hearts. If we want to have that privilege very easily and very quickly, we must approach the Lord with plain speaking, and with a naked body and mind, with everything exposed. Srila Rupa Goswami in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.152) has written:
mat-tulyo nasti papatma naparadhi cha kaschana
"My Lord, I feel ashamed. How shall I offer You so many pure things like flowers? Generally, pure things are offered to You, but what about me? I have come with the most filthy thing to offer to You. I feel ashamed. I have come to You, with only my shame, to beg for Your mercy. There is no parallel to my sinful life, criminal life. Everything that can be conceived of as bad is found in me. It is very difficult even to speak about the characteristics of my heinous sins and crimes. Still, Your nature, existence, fame, and benevolence cannot but attract me. You can save me. You can purify me. Hoping against hope, I have come to You. And I have only one solace, that I am the real object of Your mercy. Your tendency is to purify the meanest. Those who are the most needy have some claim to Your mercy. I am the worst of the needy and the meanest of the mean. This is my only qualification, my only hope to attract Your attention and appeal to Your magnanimity."
Rupa Goswami says in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.151) that still there is some sort of subconscious element within him:
yuvatinam yatha yuni yunam cha yuvatau yatha
"Just as a young boy feels attraction for a young girl, I want that sort of attraction towards You. I want to be engrossed in You, forgetting all material paraphernalia." And by sincere surrender, at once our progress begins. And the development of that kind of attraction takes us to the topmost rank. "I want that intimate connection with You, my Lord. I am the neediest of the needy, but at the same time I have this ambition. I am so disgusted with the world outside that I want the most intense and comprehensive relationship with You." With this attitude the surrendering process begins and rises step by step. "I want that standard of divine love, of intimacy with You. I want to dive deep within You."
Appearing and disappearing scriptures
govinda-vallabhe radhe prarthaye tvam ahamsada
This prayer is found in the Archana-paddhati, which comes from Gopal Bhatta Goswami's edition of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa. From there it has sprung through him. It is there in the sastra, which is an eternal flow of a particular current of knowledge. Everything is eternal in Vaikuntha and Goloka. Just as the sun comes up and goes down, appears and disappears, the thought is eternal and sometimes appears and disappears.
In this verse, Govinda-vallabhe Radhe, there is a sudden turn. Krishna says to His devotee, "Oh, do you want an intimate relationship with Me? It is not to be found within My department. You will have to go to another department. Go then to the department of Radhika." Then at once the devotee's thought is transferred towards that side. All his energy is monopolised there. It is Her monopoly. "Your inner quest is not to be found within My department", Krishna says. "You'll have to go elsewhere and file a petition there."
And, with this inspiration, at once the devotee puts his petition to Radharani. "Govinda-vallabhe Radhe: O Sri Radhe, Your master and sustainer is Govinda. He is the Lord of Your heart." Govinda means, "He who can give fulfilment to all our senses." With our senses we can feel perception as well as knowledge. Govinda is the master who gives fulfilment to all our channels of perception. "Govinda is Your Lord. But just the opposite is also true. You are the Mistress of the heart of Govinda, the Supreme Master. Is it not? You are the Queen of the heart of Govinda. I have been directed to come to You with my petition. Please enlist my name in Your department and admit me as a servitor in Your group."
Flowing river of nectar
radhe vrndavanadhise karunamrta-vahini
"O Radhe, O Queen of Vrndavan, You are like a flowing river filled with the nectar of mercy. Please be kind upon me, and bestow upon me some small service at Your lotus feet." You are the Queen of the whole management of ecstasy (rasotsav). Rasa means ecstasy. That is an unlimited flow of ecstasy. That is the speciality of Vrndavan: adi-rasa, the original rasa, madhura-rasa, conjugal mellow. All rasas are branches of that rasa, in its peculiar developing character. If analysed, all rasas will be found within madhura-rasa. And madhura-rasa has been recognised as the highest mellow of devotion.
In his conversation with Ramananda Ray, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rejected devotion contaminated with reason. He said, "Eho bahya, age kaha ara: this is superficial; go further." Mahaprabhu accepted that real bhakti begins from the stage of pure devotion, unmixed with reason. When Ramananda suggested dasya-rasa, Mahaprabhu said, "This is good, but go further." Then Ramananda mentioned sakhya-rasa: Mahaprabhu said, "This is also good, but go further." Then he came to vatsalya-rasa, the sonhood of Godhead. "This is very good", Mahaprabhu said, "But go further." Then he came to madhura-rasa. "Yes", Mahaprabhu said, "this is best." At that stage in the development of rasa, Vrndavan is the most suitable place.
Madhura-rasa is found most extensively in Vrndavan. So, it is said, "Radhe Vrndavanadhise: You are the Queen of that sort of lilawhich is found in Vrndavan. There, the highest type of nectar is flowing. You are like a flowing river of nectar."
The very nature of Krishna has been described as "Ecstasy Himself." He is tasting the innate ecstasy of Himself. He knows His ecstasy and He feels it, but to distribute that innate ecstasy outside, a particular potency is indispensable, and that is known as hladini. The gist of hladini-sakti, or Krishna's internal ecstasy potency, is Radhika, who is drawing the innermost rasa, the ecstasy of the highest order, extracting it from within and distributing it outside.
So, it is said, "Karunamrta-vahini: ecstasy mixed with magnanimity is flowing from that great fountain, and just as a river flowing from the mountains may carry with its current many valuable minerals to the outside world, the hladinipotency carries rasa out from the abode of the rasa-svarup, Krishna Himself, ecstasy personified." The flow of that river of nectar carries ecstasy and rasa, the flow of sweetness and magnanimity, to distribute to others.
Then, another categorical change is effected within the mind of a devotee. In the meantime, in the course of his progress, he realises, "Oh! Krishna is of secondary concern to me. I find my primary connection with You, Sri Radhe. I want Your direct service and not the direct service of Krishna." This awakening of the heart, intimate adherence and obligation to the next nearest agent, develops in a surrendered soul. At this stage the devotee thinks, "I shall derive more benefit by giving my closest attention to the nearest agent, my Gurudev. I shall thrive thereby." And it is his concern to sanction the upper connections. Of course, our intentions should be pure and genuine, and the business of that agent is to give us a favourable, normal connection with the hierarchy of service.
All our attention should be concentrated in the service of our Guru. This should be the idea. Our first tendency is to approach Krishna. In that stage, the first thing to understand is that we are helpless. Of course, all things must be sincere. First there is the stage of helplessness, then we want the shelter of Krishna, sweetness personified, then we are attracted to sweetness of a particular type, and to approach that department. There, we pray for the final, closest connection or permanent membership as a servitor there. This has been taught by Srila Raghunath Das Goswamias the highest achievement of the living being.
Das Goswami lived for sixteen years continuously in the association of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Svarup Damodar. After they disappeared from this world, Raghunath Das, disgusted with his future prospect, went to Vrndavan to finish his life. But when he met Rupa and Sanatan there, he saw another vision, a dream of a new life. Then he found, "Although Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Svarup Damodar have disappeared from my physical eyes, they are living here in Rupa and Sanatan, within their activities, in their preaching tendency. Mahaprabhu is here, as living as anything." He had to reject the idea of finishing his life, and with new vigour he began to serve in Vrndavan.
And Das Goswami has given us the understanding of our highest aspiration. He says, "O, Radhika, I want Your service. If You are not satisfied with me, I do not want Krishna, nor His land, Vraja." This is his prayer, and he is admitted as the Prayojan-acharya, the Guru who has shown us what is the highest aim of our life, prayojan-tattva, the ultimate destination. And this sloka proves his position as the giver of our destination.
An ocean of nectar
asa-bharair amrta-sindhu-mayaih kathanchit
This sloka is a direct prayer to Radharani. It expresses a particular type of hope which is so sweet and reassuring that it is compared with an unlimited ocean of nectar. He says, "With that hope I am somehow passing my days, flagging my days, dragging my life through these tedious times only for that hope. That hope is sustaining me, the nectarean ocean of hope is attracting me and sustaining me. Somehow I am dragging my days to my only safety.
"Otherwise, I have lost the direct association of Mahaprabhu, Svarup Damodar, and so many other great souls, and still I am living. Why? I have a particular ray of hope. And the prospect and quality of my hope is very great and high. But my patience has reached its end. I can't endure it any longer. I can't wait. I am finished; I can't wait anymore. At this moment if You do not show Your grace to me, I am finished. I shall lose the chance forever. I shall have no desire to continue my life. It will all be useless.
"Without Your grace, I can't stand to live another moment. And Vrndavan, which is even dearer to me than my life itself—I am disgusted with it. It is painful; it is always pinching me. What to speak of anything else, I am even disgusted with Krishna. It is shameful to utter such words, but I can have no love even for Krishna, until and unless You take me up within Your confidential camp of service. Such charm I have come for. I have seen the clue of such charm within the service of Your camp. Without that, everything is tasteless to me. And I can't maintain my existence even in Vrndavan. And even Krishna, what to speak of others, has no charm for me." This is the prayer of Raghunath Das Goswami.
Service of Radharani
So, Radha-dasyam, the servitorship of Srimati Radharani, is said to be the highest attainment of the living being by the school established by Mahaprabhu. It is the gist of the Srimad Bhagavatam. It is Krishna's own version. He says in Srimad Bhagavatam (11.14.15):
na tatha me priyatama atma-yonir na sankarah
"O Uddhava! Neither Brahma, nor Siva, nor Baladev, nor Laksmi, nor even My own self are as dear to Me as you are." And that Uddhava glorifies Vrndavan, the Vraja-gopis, and Radharani in this way in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.47.61):
asam aho charana-renu-jusam aham syam
"The gopis of Vrndavan have given up the association of their husbands, sons, and other family members, who are very difficult to renounce, and they have sacrificed even their religious principles to take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, which are sought after even by the Vedas. Oh! Grant me the fortune to be born as a blade of grass in Vrndavan, so that I may take the dust of those great souls upon my head.
The search for Sri Radha
Uddhava has shown us the high position of the gopis. And between all the gopis and Radharanithere is also a categorical difference. That was proved in the Rasa-lila. When Krishna and the gopis openly displayed their transaction of heart, with that divine rasa flowing and inundating all directions, Radharani was also there. She gave the highest contribution to the common rasa-vilas display of the parakiya-madhura-rasa, paramour mellow. Then, suddenly, dissatisfaction came in Radharani's heart. She began to think, "Am I also counted in the common flow of rasa?" Some reaction came within Her mind and suddenly She left. After displaying Her peculiar type of superexcellent dancing and singing, introducing a flow of a new type there, suddenly She departed. She left the circle of the Rasa dance. And Krishna suddenly found, "Radharani is not here. It is tasteless." The flow of rasa was there, but the gist, the quality, is a little down. He felt, "Why is it not so satisfactory to My inner heart?" He felt some ebb in the tide. And then by inspection He found that Radharani was absent. Disappointed, He left the circle of the Rasa dance and went to search after Her.
Although the parakiya-madhura-rasa, the highest mellow of conjugal love, Vrndavan, and the gopis were all there, still there is a categorical difference in quality between the other gopis and the particular camp of Radharani. In every way there is a categorical difference, both in quality and quantity. Jayadev Goswami, in his Gita-govinda (3.1) has described how Krishna left the circle of the Rasa dance:
kamsarir api samsara-vasanabaddha-srnkhalam
"Lord Krishna took Srimati Radharani within His heart, for He wanted to dance with Her. In this way, He left the arena of the Rasa dance and the company of all the other beautiful damsels of Vraja." Jayadev has described in this way that Krishna left the circle of the Rasa dance, taking Radha within His heart. Krishna departed in search of Radharani. Her position is so exalted. It is said, "Lord Krishna's transcendental desires for loving exchanges could not be satisfied even in the midst of billions of gopis. Thus He went searching after Srimati Radharani. Just imagine how transcendentally qualified She is! (sata-koti-gopite nahe kama-nirvapana)."
The other gopis numbered so many, but in quality they were a little less. Their total combination could not satisfy Krishna. The qualitative difference was there. That is found.
The Rupanuga sampradaya, the followers of the line of Sri Rupa, are those who have the unique taste of service in the camp of Radharani. In that plane, there is no entrance of any mundane exploitation or renunciation, and not even legalised sastric devotion. The highest kind of devotion is not controlled by any law. It is spontaneous and automatic. Sacrifice to the highest degree is only possible in that camp. The highest kind of divine sentiment is distributed from the camp of Srimati Radharani, and that can never be compared with any attainment hitherto known even in the eternal factor of time and space.
Then, there is another stage for which we should be prepared. Why should we try to enter into the camp of Radharani? Should we think that there, in that better atmosphere, we shall have Krishna's presence more confidentially? Should we think, "I will have contact with Krishna very intimately?" Should we want to enter into that camp? No—we want to avoid the connection of Krishna, but concentrate on the service of Radharani. Why? What more benefit is possible there in the service of Radharani? If we approach Krishna directly to give service to Him, we shall be losers. Radharani's service to Krishna is of the highest order in every way. If we devote our energy to help Radharani, our energy will be utilised in Her service. In this way She will serve Krishna with Her service more enhanced. Then the reciprocation will pass to us through Her as our reward. That will be devotion of the highest type, mahabhava.
So, the general inclination of the sakhis, the confidential maidservants of Radharani, is not to come in direct connection with Krishna. They avoid that. But still, it is the benevolent and generous nature of Radharani to connect them with Krishna on some plea at some time or other. But their innate nature is always to avoid Krishna and concentrate on the service of Radharani. This is confirmed in the Chaitanya-charitamrta (Madhya-lila, 8.208):
radhara svarupa—krsna-prema kalpa-lata
"By nature, Srimati Radharani is just like a creeper of love of Godhead, and the gopis are the twigs, flowers, and leaves of that creeper." Eternally the twigs, flowers, and leaves sprout from the creeper of Srimati Radharani. She is the trunk, and they are the branches. This is their relationship.
Yet still, there is another, higher thing. We are known as Rupanugas, or the followers of Sri Rupa. Why? The service of Srimati Radharani eliminates everything, even Narayan, to go to Krishna. There is the Krishna of Dvaraka, the Krishna of Mathura, and the Krishna of Vrndavan. Then again in Vrndavan, where there is free mixing without hesitation in other camps, Radharani's camp is the highest. Eliminating all other camps, direct service to Radharani is considered to be the highest. Still, there is another point.
Srila Rupa Goswami—Sri Rupa Manjari
Who is Rupa? Rupa Manjari. Generally the hierarchy in the spiritual world is eternal. New recruits can occupy a particular rank of manjari, assistant, in madhura-rasa. And the leader of the manjaris is Sri Rupa Manjari. What is the special feature in the manjaricamp which is not found among the sakhis, girlfriends of Krishna? First there is Radharani, then the camp of Her right-hand personal attendant, Lalita. Then, under Lalita, there is Sri Rupa Manjari. What is the unique position of the followers of Sri Rupa? The new recruits can attain to that status. Now, the privilege of this manjariclass we are to conceive most respectfully and attentively.
When Radha and Govinda are in secrecy, in a private place, the sakhis, who are well-versed in the art of that kind of play because they are a little grown-up, do not like to approach there to disturb Their confidential mixing. If the more grown-up sakhis enter there, both Radha and Govinda will feel shy. So their presence may create some disturbance. But the younger girls can enter there, and then Radha and Govinda have no hesitation in free mixing. So in that highest stage of the mixing of Radha-Govinda, the free play of Radha-Govinda, these manjaris, the younger girls, can have admission. But the grown-up sakhis cannot have admission there.
New recruits may come up to the manjari class. And the manjaris have that sort of special advantage under the leadership of Sri Rupa Manjari. So, they get the best advantage there; the most sacred type of pure service, which is not open even to the sakhis, is open to the manjaris. That is found in Radharani's camp. So, the position of the Rupanugas, the followers of Sri Rupa, is the most profitable position. That has been given out by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. That has been shown by Him, and that is fixed as the highest limit of our fortune in Krishna's concern. This is unexpectable, undesignable, and beyond hope, but our prospect lies there in that subtle camp of Sri Rupa Manjari, Rupa Goswami.
So, the camp, the sampradaya of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is known as the Rupanuga sampradaya. There our fate and our fortune are located. Now we have to conduct ourselves in such a way that naturally we can connect with that highest, purest spiritual conception from here. We must not allow ourselves to be satisfied with anything less than this highest ideal. That should be the highest goal of our life. And we must adjust our approach from our present position.
We are minors. Our father has left us with so many important documents about the properties we are to inherit. As minors, we should try to find out what properties belong to us in those documents. When we come of age, then we shall take possession of our rightful inheritance. The raganuga-sastra, the scriptures of spontaneous devotional love, has been given to us, left to us, by our Guru, our guardian, our father. And as we grow more and more in the spiritual line, we will have to detect what is our prospect, what is our real wealth. We must recover that. We must have that. It is there in the document. It is ours. This is our position. We are minors, but we must become majors and demand the service meant for us by our Guardians.
Devotee: We are putting in our claim with you. We think that in the absence of our father, the court has appointed a guardian, in order to keep us out of mischief and also to regulate our inheritance.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: This is not mine. This is the property of my Gurudev. And Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad gave you a clue. He has distributed the key widely and given a clue: "With the key come and open the iron chest and find out what valuable ornaments and gems are within the chest." Of course, no one will understand us when we say such things. Who will come to appreciate? They'll say, "Oh, this is all the product of a disorganised brain. These people are trying to take electricity from the sky, leaving aside this concrete earth. They are like the chatak bird." Rupa Goswami says that there is a class of bird known as chatak, who never take a drop of water from the earth. Their nature is that whenever they want a drop of water, they always cast their eyes to the clouds. "One drop of pure water!"—that is their cry. And so they wait, with their beaks towards the sky, towards the clouds. And they never use any water from the earth. So, our line is like that. The spirit of that bird is described in the following way by Rupa Goswami:
A drop of Your grace
virachaya mayi dandam dinabandho dayam va
"You may punish me, O cloud, You may punish me. If a thunderbolt comes, I'll be nowhere. You can throw down thunder, or You can give me water. But how much can I drink with my small beak? A flood of rain may come. O Lord of the poor, Lord of the helpless, You can give me a drop of Your devotion, or You may punish me like anything."
He is always praying for water. The cloud may satisfy him immediately or, by sending a thunderbolt, it may finish him and efface him from the earth. The bird has no other alternative by nature. So he says, "My position is also like that bird. O Krishna, You may finish me, destroy me, efface me from the world, or You may save me by only a drop of Your grace. I won't search after my satisfaction in the mud. That is finished. I will never go back to search for my fortune in the earth, in the mundane. I am already fixed to do or die. Either I must receive a drop of Your grace, or You may finish me." In this way, Srila Rupa Goswami prays that Krishna's mercy will descend like rain from the clouds, and not only quench his thirst, but bathe him, satisfy his utmost hankering, and fulfil his innermost necessity.
So, we should never search for our fortune in the mud. We must always look to the high sky and pray for Sri Guru and his grace.
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