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By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur

Published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)

The enlightening hymns of Chhandogya have impressed us that he who can surpass all conceptions of limitation, knowing the Indestructible Personality of the Absolute, is alone not a kripana but is a . So the Supreme Lord asked Ramananda to explain his knowledge of Transcendence in order to shake off the popular crippled view of ascertaining Him by the outward phase. We have surveyed the different aspects of knowledge that are commonly known to people who draw their decision out of their present knowledge derived through the medium of the senses. The comparative merits of pious seekers of virtue against the fallen creatures who have entangled themselves in sinful acts, have been delineated as the stepping-stone of the staircase of Religion. The second step is known as the maintainer of the neutrality of virtue and sin, practitioner of the neutral phase of distinctive temporal specification in dismissal of manifestation, and finally the rejecter of the three aspects of observer, observation and observed against the enjoying mood of the religionist. The third step inculcates the process of devotion as the medium fire from the indirect method of negation of temporary phenomena. Then comes the fourth step where the ambitious fruits desired by elevationists and salvationists are not traceable. The Supreme Teacher admits the claim of loving devotion against the non-loving substratum of clouded and unclouded gains which are in other words rapturous and void of love. We deal here with the different perspective phases of devotional love which has very little to do with the ordinary situation of the numerous shareholders of this mundane existence.

The Object of devotion has no co-sharer to dissuade the ambition of a true aspirant. The unalloyed free soul has an innate volcanic activity known as love for the One Object and he is never to be expected to pick up anything for his own which would rouse up jealousy of birds of the same feather, but to achieve the only success of directing all interests from their contending activities to the One. This One is not to be supposed to discourage any favoured servitor from his particular phases of loving service.

To determine the Object of eternal love by the eternal true servitor, no foreign element is to be tentatively introduced to create a distraction from the Absolute Truth. Love may be effected in five successively different stages by the Lover to the loved. The very Embodiment of Love has the sole Entity of inviting the eternal loved servitors through their five different Ratis innate in them. Whenever love is attempted from a lower level it has a necessary tinge of reverence. Love is the principle entity in the tie uniting the two. In mundane phenomena love is described as ephemeral and non-eternal. But when the lover and the loved are both eternally reciprocated, such love is not to be confused with our present experience of what is denominated as mundane love. The element in a subtle, gaseous form, when condensed, becomes a liquid in the language of the scientists, and the liquid can in its turn be solidified by gradual development. From transcendental non-relativity love is traced to change its subtle form, taking the shape of unalloyed loving service to loving friendship and then to confidential loving friendship. The love becomes purer to concentrate itself on the filial Object and reaches the acme in the Object of Consort. The tone is not changed, but the magnitude of service is augmented gradually step by step.

Ramananda, in describing the loving nature of devotion, cited a verse composed by him which showed the gradual increase of felicity in things which are eatable and drinkable as per the degree and quantity of hunger and thirst. This bears an analogy to adding more sauce to our serving mood of true love, which brings more enthusiasm. Ramananda went on to cite another verse which was also his composition which purported to disclose the fact that no luck arising out of our action could be compared with the intense aptitude for devoted service to Krishna and this is the exchange value to be paid to secure in return the ripe and soft relishing quality of Krishna’s Devotion and this should be secured at all costs when it could be had. Such a disposition is not to be compared with earned fortunes. This is spoken of as the base of Prema Bhakti.

The Supreme Lord expressed His Approval of this and asked him to elucidate further. Service with loving temper has got a conspicuous aspect as distinct from the mere base. In this world we invite the objects to serve us and we have got the inner inclination of approving the adaptability of being served by others, as we are quite unaccustomed to find out the All-love Who has concealed Himself from us through our sensuous activities. So Ramananda exhibited the glaring phase of the Pure Service to the Personality of Godhead as the most interesting function of the soul. The soul, now lying in a dormant condition, has delegated powers to the mind in order to take over the charge of meddling with the external world by lording it over mundane entities. But the temporal activity can have the permanent function only if the loving aptitude is directed towards the All-love Who is the One without a second. As regards the aspects they will be dealt with later on along with the ameliorating functions of love. To support his statement Ramananda culled a passage of the Bhagavatam* [1] together with a passage from the hymns of Yamunacharya: “Nothing remains unavailable to the servitors who are purified by the aural reception of the Transcendental Name of the very Entity of Holiness”. Alavandar, in his lyrics, gave expression to the same idea when he sang: -- “When will that day come when I will be in a position to please my Master, considering myself as an eternal unswerving slave, having dispelled all sorts of designs by my innate serving mood constantly.”

The Supreme Lord approved this version of unalloyed service and solicited further progressive elucidation. Ramananda’s answer was that aiming at confidential service of a friend to the Personality of Godhead is the highest aim of a devotee. The question of neutrality is amplified in associating the Integral Absolute and the Infinitesimal potency in the same line. In support of his statement Ramananda called a passage from the tenth Skanda of the Bhagavatam* [2] which discloses the comparative situation of the unexpected fortune that was received by the cowherd friends of Krishna which excelled that of the ordinary servitors of the Absolute, the Object of the Transcendental Ecstatic Felicity realized by the sojourners of the tract of knowledge.

The Supreme Lord showed His approval when He heard of the confidential loving service as superior to menial service from the lips of Ramananda. When the normal stage is exceeded it was approved not with toleration but with definite and positive assertion. But the Supreme Lord said: “The confidential service is no doubt better than that of the service-holders. Still you are to advance a little more.”

So Ramananda had to disclose his heart more in speaking about Filial love for Krishna which is higher and nobler than the confidential friendship. To bear testimony to his assertion he culled two more verses from the tenth chapter of the tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatam: “The glory achieved by the parents in serving the Absolute Personality of Godhead exhibited the two incidents of comparative fortune of the parents. What led Nanda and Yasoda to avail of the parental situation vis-à-vis the Son-God and what were the incidents that led to the unparalleled luck of Yasoda which induced the Son-God to suck her breast?” The fortune that was not available to the four-faced Brahma, five-faced Siva, the generating and the destroying entity of the Absolute, nor to His spouse Lakshmi who has such unprecedented favour, was received by the milk-maid from the Dispenser of liberation.” The Supreme Lord approved this disclosure with great sympathy, but asked him to proceed to the climax.

Ramananda in response to His query gave out that Love of Consort predominates all other aspects of devotion. He recited two verses from the tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatam to espouse the glorious cause of the milk-maids who are the best of His sub-servients. The love for the Consort excels that of all loving servitors or loving parents. The intensity of affinity is the greatest in the milk-maids serving their Consort. The ecstatic displays that are found in ladies towards their husbands, the temporal but incessant love of the goddesses towards their gods, the strongest affinity of the Lakshmis towards Narayana, cannot be compared with the ecstatic enthusiasm that was enjoyed by the milk-maids at the Rasa Pastime when every one of them was in the arms of each of the variegated Entities of Krishna, He suddenly appeared before them with a smiling Face wearing the yellow apparel, garlanded with flowers. His beautiful appearance was so over-whelmingly attractive that the most sublime beauty completely transcended the very ideal conception of aesthetic culture.

The combination of Haasya, Adbhuta and Karuna Rasas added to the delicious taste of Madhura could not be compared with any other representation of the kinds. There are various means by which the services of Krishna are attained and these variegated aspects have their respective merits. A servitor is to reach by his predilection, the acme of the function of his soul. But there is a distinction established by comparative study of different predilections without being guided by a definite principle. A comparative study scrutiny would certainly give us knowledge of additional qualities just as we find in examining ether, etc., there is augmentation by successive additional attributes to reach the climax with the association of the five in the solid representation. The Personality of Godhead can only be made to accept our unalloyed loving service through love alone and not by reverential procedure. Shri Krishna being the very Fountain-head of all resorts to Rasa, He is ever prepared to welcome every servitor wherever he may be and whatever his serving procedure.

But if the Object is distorted like our confusing Jehova with Moloch and Moloch with Jehova, we would certainly miss the kindly feelings of Krishna. This conception of scrutinizing such matters will lead us astray from the true object. Our eternal functions and activities if misdirected will give us troubles and if we fail to determine Krishna, Who is the Sole Attracter of the unalloyed entities of souls, we will certainly fail to apprehend the process inculcated by Ramananda. Our erroneous promulgation will never enable us to get the best benefit that can be had by us, if we fail to single out the loving tenor towards Krishna against Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha, i.e., against the limited propensity of limited elevation and salvation.

Ramananda, being further asked to subjoin the Fullest Reciprocity of Madhura Rasa, proceeded to delineate the Counter Reciprocal Moiety of the whole by fixing the Object in Shri Radhika. The highest step of devotion is displayed in the service of the Pair and in utilizing the full independence of the servitor to espouse the cause of the Predominating Aspect of the counter-whole by associating oneself in Her company. Ramananda was found to describe the situation of the Paraphernalia and the transcendental duties congenial to the confidential service of the attending maids of Shri Radhika which completed the full narration of the manifestive position of the Amorous Pair.

This exposition by Rai Ramananda at the behest of Sri Chaitanya deserves the highest consideration. In effect he showed that the devotees who are imbued with All-Love and Who walk in the footsteps of the spiritual maids of Braja, alone attain to the realm of Goloka. The different locations of the devotees in Goloka according to the respective differences in the nature of their rasa i.e., mellow quality, are settled by the inconceivable power of Krishna.

Ramananda belonged to the Bhagavata School; so all his activities were pure and instructive, and well worth following. He was not an instructor who taught us merely how to get rid of this mundane bondage, but served as an advance-guide to eternally unfettered liberated souls in their incessant unalloyed service of the Pastimes of Krishna, which have no connection with or reference to the mundane relative service of the Lord.


[1] Bh. ix 6/16

[2] Bh. 12/11