Sri Chaitanya and Divine Love

          

(Interactive session on 20.7.2013)

Keynote address by Mr. S. R. Das

(Other participant speakers: Mr. Asim Banerjee, Mr. Ramesh Chanda, Mr.A. K. Sengupta, Ms. Kalyani Chakraborty, Dr. Santosh Ganguly, Dr.Kalyan Chakravarthy, Ms. Mitali Ghosh,  Ms.Sharmila Bhawal, – Devotional song by Ms. Manimala Das)

Anchor & conclusive remarks: Asish K.Raha

 

INTRODUCTION

The word ‘Chaitanya’, means consciousness of the existence of God or Pure Consciousness, described in the Vedanta as Param Bramhan, or Sat-chit-ananda (eternal existence, eternal consciousness and eternal bliss), having no form. God when conceived in form is referred to as the Virat Purusha, or the Supreme Entity in whom all individual souls reside and Who resides in all. Complementary to Virat Purusha as the source of creativity is called Prakriti (nature) or Shakti (energy). Together, the Purusha and the Prakriti are the creators of this phenomenal world comprising multiple universes of matters and souls, manifest and unmanifest. The embodied souls, called Jivaatma, sourced to the Purusha, are bonded to the prakriti, by the glue of desire and attachment, called Maya (illusion).

The longing for the Supreme by the Jivaatma is called the Divine Love. In this state, Jivatma effaces his/her ego and yearns for nothing less than the Supreme only in the form he/she perceives the beloved Lord.

In Srimad Bhagwat Gita, it is stated:

“That which has been mentioned as the Unmanifest, the Immutable, they call Him the supreme Goal. That is the supreme abode of Mine, reaching which they do not return. That supreme Being in whom are included all the beings and by whom all this is pervaded, is indeed reached through unalloyed devotion” (Ch 8, verses 21- 22). 

Divine Love and its various forms

Divine love for Swami Vivekananda meant real spiritual pursuit.  We are no longer beggars, because we give up everything for the love of God. We are no longer in fear, because we feel God as our own, our closest one.  To Vivekananda, the divine love of God is its own end – the salvation and perfection. We would love God because that is our highest aim and goal of life. How to Worship God? Swami Vivekananda answered, “Worship him dearer than all your possessions, than all your relatives and all your children. Nothing must stand between me and God except love. God is only love and nothing else. Love first, love in the middle, love at the end. God is infinite love. At last, love, lover and the beloved become one. That is the goal. Our separation from God in this phenomenal world became necessary, according to Swamiji, beause God wanted to enjoy the bliss of love.

Swami Vivekananda in his Bhakti Yoga has explained the various forms of divine love. When a man gets absorbed in his/her devotion to God, it is known as the Shanta Bhav or quiet state of love. The next type is Dasya when the devotee with the untainted loyalty of a servant worships/serves God. Sakhya or friendship with God is the next type where the devotee opens his/her heart to God considering Him to be his true Friend or Playmate. Here the devotee loves God as his Friend and on equal footing.

Then there is the Vatsalya bhav, or loving God is as our child. Here we try to give our best forgetting self and do not look up to Him in awe. This relationship, like that of a mother and a child, takes us quite close to God.

Madhura Bhav in Divine Love is considered as the strongest and most intimate relation with God aiming at ultimate union with God. This Bhav results in complete self-effacement of the devotee who longs for the pleasure of complete union with God. For the worshipper God becomes the only and central focus. Intense love does not see any obstruction, barrier, customs, rules or regulation. In his intense yearning for God, the devotee is in the state of both agony and ecstasy. It can be described as the madness of the devotee for God whom he/she sees as lover. In Vrindavan, behaviour of the Gopis demonstrated how the Divine in the human form of Krishna was madly loved. On hearing the sound of His voice or his flute, the ever-blessed Gopis rushed out of their abodes to meet their beloved, forgetting the whole world, i.e. the worldly rituals and taboos, the do’s and don’ts. Gopies told Uddhava, a friend of Sri Krishna, that their minds were no longer their own as every bit of it had been given to Krishna. Their body, mind and soul were longing for Krishna.  Gopies were immersed in Krishna and no traces of self consciousness were left in them. We find a similar expression in the following couplet of Kabir.

प्रेम गली अति संकरी, तामें दाऊ न समाई |

जब में था तब हरी नहीं, अब हरी है में नाहीं ||

(The Path of love is so narrow that the lover and the beloved cannot tread together. When I was there, my beloved (God) was not. Now that my beloved (God) is here, I am not.) 

Divine Love of Radha (Gopis)

Sri Radha’s intense yearning for Sri Krishna epitomizes divine love in Madhur Bhava.  The intensity of Radha’s love toward Sri Krishna is beautifully depicted by Jayadev in Geet Govinda. Radha beheld Krishna in everything she sets her love-lit eyes upon. She was totally immersed in Krishna and effaced her own identity.  Her sole existence was for fulfilment of the wishes of her beloved Krishna. She was completely lost in the thoughts of Krishna. Hence, she is also called Krishnamoyi (absorbed in Krishna).

After the Braj leela, Krishna moved away from Vrindavan to Mathura, and never returned to his beloved. Instead, He sent Uddhava, to console the Gopis. Seeing them crying inconsolably, Uddhava was moved. They complained that they could not close their eyelids, for Krishna had invaded their eyes, body, senses, speech and thoughts. They pleaded with Uddhava for a mantra to forget Krishna, so that they could once again attend to their daily chores. Uddhava advised them to meditate on Krishna instead, and at this, the gopis sobbed,

“Uddhava, man na bhaye das bees, ek huto so gayo Shyam sung, ko aaradhe ees?”

(We do not have 10 or 20 minds; there was but one mind which Krishna stole. With what should we meditate?”)

Mind gives rise to ego, but in true love, there is no ego left. 

A Life Sketch of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

In Gita, Sri Krishna said: Whenever there is a decline of virtue and increase of vice I manifest Myself” (Chapter 4, verse 7).

Sri Chaitanya came to revive spirituality demonstrating the power of Krishna Naam Sankirtan (chanting of the name of Krishna). It is the yearning for God and not the ritualistic worship which takes you onto the path to the Divine.

It is said that Sri Chaitanya is an incarnation of Sri Krishna, manifesting Self to demonstrate to the world the depth and intensity of Divine Love.  He was the combined form of Krishna and Krishna’s consort, Srimati Radharani. He came also to experience the love Radha had for Him, and to show by example how to fully surrender to the beloved Lord. He exhibited symptoms of Divine Love to the highest degree, and emphasized that the chanting of the holy names of Krishna was the best means to unite in love with God.

Sri Chaitanya was born in 1486, in Nabadvipa, now in West Bengal. Nabadvipa was at that time famous as a centre of learning and culture. At that time, Bengal under Islamic rule was suffering from spiritual degeneration, stagnation of growth, and exploitation of lower castes by caste-conscious Brahmins and other higher castes.  The hallmark of learning was the capability of one to defeat others in open debate over interpretation of ancient philosophical texts, where logic got primacy over spiritual and mystic experiences. Socially, morally, spiritually, politically, and intellectually, contemporary India needed a change.

On the full moon night of the Bengali month of Phalguna, when there was a lunar eclipse, and amidst people’s chanting and bathing in Holy Ganga, Sri Chaitanya was born in a Brahmin family. Astrologers predicted that He would manifest super-human qualities and deliver the world. So his parents, Jagannatha Mishra and Sachi Devi, gave Him the name Vishvambhara, meaning “support of the universe.” As he was born under a Neem tree, he was given the nickname Nimai.

During his childhood he displayed mysterious powers by outwitting thieves, playing with a poisonous snake, and speaking philosophically to His mother. As He grew, his handsome look and intelligence began to attract neighbours and friends. He was a brilliant student who quickly mastered poetics, Sanskrit grammar, and the current fad, navya nyaya, a form of logic. He would often playfully defeat his fellow students in debate. While still in his teens, he opened his own school and began teaching grammar and logic.

Vishvambhara journeyed to Gaya, with a group of students in order to perform sacred rites on the anniversary of his father’s death. There, after receiving Vaishnava initiation from Ishvara Puri, he became transformed. He lost all interest in logic and argument and absorbed himself in chanting Krishna’s names in devotional ecstasy.

Back in Nabadvipa, Vishvambhara with other Vaishnavas like Advaita Acarya, Srivasa Pandit, and Haridas Thakur started the sankirtana movement by chanting the name of Lord Krishna. First, the movement was confined to the faithful. After a year, however, Vishvambhara started to spread the ecstasy of Divine Love to all the people of Nabadvipa.

Vishvambhara’s movement was not influenced by caste consideration. Nor was it meant for the ascetics or the yogis in penance or meditation for liberation from the material world. As he deviated from the conventional path in his spiritual pursuit, Vishvambhara met with stiff opposition from some sections of the local Brahmin community and from the Muslim ruler as well. But when he mobilized thousands of people in a Sankirtana procession to the Muslim magistrate’s house, he succeeded in convincing the magistrate to permit the movement.

Seeing the need to spread Krishna consciousness more widely, Vishvambhara decided to take sannyasa, at the age of twenty-four. He took the name Krishna Chaitanya from Keshava Bharati. He also became known as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. To console his mother he promised to stay in Puri, not far off from Nabadvipa.

He travelled to various parts of South India for four years and to Prayag, Vrindavana, and Varanasi for one year. 

Last 12 years in Puri in total devotion and ecstasy

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spent his last 12 years in Puri, an old and renowned Pilgrimage Centre, the seat of Lord Jagannath. He often got into trance in the temple as also outside, experiencing spiritual ecstasy while completely immersed in love with the Lord. In that state he felt the glory and divine grace of the place. Every morning he made it a point to visit the temple. Standing at a distance, he silently gazed at the Lord Jagannath and was completely lost. He was a living example of Para Bhakti, the supreme devotion.

As mentioned in the Bhagwatam, when Radha felt the agony of separation from Krishna, she used to experience ten kinds of bodily transformations like: anxiety, sleeplessness, mental agony, feebleness, un-cleanliness, incoherent utterances, affliction, frenzy, obsession and motionlessness. It is said that similar ecstatic conditions overwhelmed Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

He spent several nights in wakefulness chanting Hare Krishna. He was also listening from Srimad Bhagavatam, about Lord Krishna’s glories and actions. Many a times, he would get dead-silent or was seen crying for Krishna and at times dancing in joy.  Sometimes he was not to be found in his room and after a search, his followers would find him lying outside unconscious.

Only after hearing Krishna’s name he would gain consciousness. Sometimes he would run towards the Sea as its blue water reminded him of the Yamuna in Vrindavan, or towards a sand dune thinking it to be Giri Govardhan that was lifted by Sri Krishna. All these proved deterrent to his physical health but he was indifferent to his worldly needs. 

Shiksa ashtak: embodiment of  Divine love

Sri Chaitanya Dev’s spiritual personality, wisdom, knowledge and interpretation of ancient philosophical texts such as the Vedas and the Vedanta were a living source of inspiration to many prominent followers who have composed many verses, kirtans etc. based on his life and teaching. However, the singular composition that he left for posterity is known as Shiksha Aashtak in Sanskrit, which is a unique composition elucidating Divine Love, spirituality, glorification of Krishna and various ways of worshipping. This also speaks of the state of divinity he was in. 

  1. 1.    Divine power in  Krishna Sankirtana:  Sri Krishna Sankirtana cleanses mind of worldliness, spreads humanity among the people. It increases transcendental bliss and it enables us to fully taste the nectar in every step of life. 
  1. 2.    One God different names:Taking various names of Lord Krishna alone, which are full of transcendental energies, can render all benedictions to living beings. There are no hard and fast rules for chanting these names. One needs only to get attracted to these names. 
  1. 3.    Way of Chanting: One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble tolerant state of mind, devoid of all sense of false prestige and be respectful to others. 
  1. 4.     Devotion: O, Lord, Prayer to you is not for wealth nor to desire beautiful women, nor for praise from people. Let there be desire-less devotion birth after birth. 
  1. 5.    Dashya Bhab: Since life is plunged in the terrible ocean of the material world, pray to be in His service and stay like a dust particle in His lotus feet. 
  1. 6.    Prem Bhakti: Urge for a state when by uttering His name tears would flow down the eyes; voice would be choked with emotion and mind would be delighted. 
  1. 7.    Anxiety: In separation from Him, every moment would be like a decade, tears would flow from eyes and world would appear meaningless and void. 
  1. 8.    Gopi Prem: Krishna is the only Lord and He shall remain so even if He embraces me or makes me broken hearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always unconditionally the worshipful Lord.

His Last words

Sri Chaitanya said, “Listen Swaroopa and Ramananda Rai! The chanting of Krishna’s Name is the chief means of attaining Krishna’s feet in the Kali Yuga. Sankirtan of the Name is the supreme healer in the Iron Age. Sankirtan tantamounts to Vedic sacrifice. Sankirtan destroys sins and purifies the heart and creates Bhakti. Chant the name while sitting, standing, walking, eating, in bed and everywhere. The Name is omnipotent. You can repeat the Name at any place, at any time.

Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was last seen on the 14th June, 1533. His passing away is still a Mystery.

CONCLUSION

Divine Love, the spark of which was seen in Radha, more as the yearning of an individual soul for union with the Divine, became a mass movement in the hands of Sri Chaitanya. And this movement was not confined to Nabadvip, the place of his birth, or for that matter to the places he camped in for a number of years, like Puri, but went far beyond in an era when movement on road or river was painfully slow and time-consuming. Even in 21st century, this movement is still alive, spreading beyond the frontier of India and Sri Chaitanya continues to be the inspirational pioneer for the posterity.

Second, the Divine Love movement of Sri Chaitanya broke all barriers, i.e. the barrier of caste, religion, social, financial, intellectual, etc. Initially though women were not included in Samkirtan, subsequently they also joined the ecstatic group, singing and dancing publicly, chanting the name of Sri Krishna.

Third, Divine Love as a concept was unique in the sense that neither the Vedas, nor the Upanishads or the Vedanta advocated it. The stress all along in those philosophical and spiritual texts was on wisdom, self-realization, self-effacement or annihilation of ego, pursuit of Truth or realization of the ultimate Truth viz. Brahman That is within oneself as also without or all over. This realization of Brahman can be attained by various Yogas, namely, Bhakti or devotion, Gyana or wisdom, Dhyana or meditation, Karma or self-less work, Sannyas or renunciation of the fruits of work, Kriya or various rituals/exercises etc. None of those paths were akin to the path of Divine Love that would place the lover and the beloved (God) on the same pedestal all through.

While on the concept of Divine Love as a means to attain God as the beloved, the question that would come to mind is whether it is possible for a mortal with five senses like us to love God Who is formless, deathless and beyond all senses. In other words, the yearning for God as a lover pre-supposes the reducing of infinite God into human form as the beloved. Is such reduction valid, practical, realistic and effective? Let us address this question in the light of the prominent religions in general that recognise God.

That God is omni-potent, omni-present and omni-scient is more or less accepted as a postulate by all prominent religions, except Buddhism that avoids any reference to God. The very concept of an omni-present God would imply that God exists in the minutest particle in this phenomenal world. Some of the religions have even referred to the conversation of their Messiahs and prophets with God and the messages received by them from God. In the process, human qualities have been attributed to God. As to the question of form, it is more or less accepted that God with His infiniteness, cannot be bound within a specific form. That, however, would not prevent God from assuming any form at His will, given that He is the ultimate source of all matters, energy, souls and consciousness. The Gita talks about worshipping God in form or without. The form could be symbolic like the stone image of a deity. The form could also be one of a living being who by attaining God-consciousness is believed to have been one with God. In the cases of Radha and Sri Chaitanya, the Divine was conceived in form of Sri Krishna. Their love, therefore, had the pang of separation as also ecstasy of union, the emotions that are easily perceivable by human instinct.

As to the question whether Divine Love is realistic, or a mere fantasy, it would not be reasonable to answer such question in general terms. To Radha, Krishna being a man of flesh and blood was as real as she herself was, although she may have regarded him as the God incarnate owing to his miraculous powers. The same would not apply to Sri Chaitanya, or to Mira Bai inasmuch as in their time Sri Krishna was not in existence, but believed to have frequented them in vision. As to the question whether their visions of Sri Krishna were genuine or fantasy, such matters cannot obviously be subjected to scrutiny by any known human standard. Love, after all is not chemistry but it belongs to the domain of conscious mind which is known as our sixth sense. The love for the Divine is believed to open the door of a still higher sense by the grace of the Divine, helping the lover to have vision of the beloved Who happens to be the subtlest of the subtle and the grossest of the gross. Sri Ramakrishna looked upon the Divine as Mother Kali and often did he taste the sweets and fruits before offering the same to the Goddess. Sri Bama Khyapa of Tara Peeth considered himself as the little child of Ma Tara, the Divine Mother, and once did he urinate on the deity as if a baby on his mother’s lap. He was mercilessly beaten by the priests but later they understood their mistake and apologized when the Deity of the Divine Mother is believed to have shown her anger by turning Her face away. Narendra Nath (Swami Vivekananda), initially an agnostic, was in extreme financial hardship when, seeing his miserable state, Sri Ramakrishna advised him to pray for food and clothes from the Divine Mother at the temple of Dakshineswar. As he entered the sanctum sanctorum, he saw the idol of the Divine Mother come alive and was unable to ask for such trifle. Instead he prayed for wisdom and liberation. Sri Aurobindo, while in Alipore jail facing trial for treason against the British Raj, had a sudden vision of Sri Krishna in every living being, including the jailor, the prisoners, the guards and the judge. In our above four examples of vision of the Divine, the first two were of the advanced Yogis cum great spiritual Masters, while the latter instances were of two leading intellectuals of contemporary India at the material time, both of whom later turned into spiritual Masters cum teachers of international fame. Obviously, it would be naive to denounce their visions as mere hallucination.

Admittedly though loving God is easier said than done, we have no hesitation to conclude that the world will be a much better place to live in if we learn to love fellow beings as embodiment of the Divine in myriad forms.

        

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13 Responses to Sri Chaitanya and Divine Love

  1. RKGupta says:

    Dear Sir,
    An excellent write up. I missed the session.
    I am very much impressed by the following event in Chaitnya Mahaprabhu’slife : Nimai made a visit to Gaya. This was an important event in his life, as there he met Mahatma Ishwarpuri, who was already known to him. Mahatma Ishwarpuri through the ‘Mantra-Diksha’ stimulated the waves of love for Lord Krishna in his heart. Nimai now got deeply immersed in the love for the Lord. With the permission of his Guru he came back to Navdweep and while returning he picked up the dust at the feet of his Guru, which he tied close to his chest and said that this dust was the most valuable treasure for him.
    His heart had now been colored in the color of Krishna-bhakti. He was fully absorbed in it, forgetting about everything else. He found no interest in teaching as well. Day and night he remained engrossed in Bhajan-Kirtan. Once he fainted at the residence of one Shuklambar Brahmachari while reciting the name of Lord Krishna. He started crying repeatedly. Once after bathing in the Ganges he went straight to the school and started explaining the importance of the name of the Lord to the students. He forgot that he was to teach jurisprudence and grammar to them. With a heart deeply absorbed in the love for the Lord, he started telling them that the name of the Lord alone is true and that devotion at the feet of the Lord is the greatest thing to achieve. On being asked by the students to explain about ‘Dhatu’ (the root from which any word derives its meaning), he told them that the power of the Lord is Dhatu and then he closed the school for ever devoting all his time in seeking the Lord.
    Chaitnya Mahaprabhu was deeply absorbed in the love of Lord Krishna. The most charming period of his life was the one, which he spent in Nilachal. He laid a lot of emphasis on the importance of Hare Ram Hare Krishna Mantra (‘Hare Ram, Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare; Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.’) and said that by reciting this Mantra one could achieve liberation and reach the Lord.
    While Chaitnya Mahaprabhu was on his journey from Jaggannathpuri to South, he saw a Brahman sitting near a pond and reading Gita. The Brahman was deeply engrossed in it and tears were rolling out of his eyes. Chaitnya Mahaprabhu sat near him and waited for him to finish his reading. The Brahman did not notice his presence. When he finished the reading, Chaitnya Mahaprabhu asked him that perhaps he did not know Sanskrit as there were mistakes in his pronunciation but still what meaning did he derive from those Shlokas (verses) that he was so overwhelmed. The Brahman prostrated before Chaitnya Mahaprabhu and said that he did not understand the real meaning of those verses but when he starts reading Gita, he visualizes the army of Kauravas and Pandavas facing each other in the battle field of Kurukshetra and the chariot of Arjuna being driven by Lord Krishna and Arjun standing in the chariot with folded hands pointed towards the Lord, which fills his heart with love for the Lord. Chaitnya Mahaprabhu said that it was he (the Brahman), who in fact had understood the real meaning of Gita, as the true devotion needs pure love and nothing else.
    Chaitnya Mahaprabhu’s humility is illustrated from this incidence: In Jaggannathpuri he used to bathe in the sea and then used to visit Lord Jaggannath’s temple. He used to see the Lord from behind the Garud-Sthambha. Once an old lady leaned over his shoulders to have a glimpse of the Lord. One of his devotees tried to stop the lady from doing so but Chaitnya Mahaprabhu asked him not to do so. He told him that she is looking at the Lord charged with emotions and that she is not aware of the surroundings at all. He would have been fortunate to find himself in such a state some day.
    Chaitnya Mahaprabhu considered Srimadbhagvad-Mahapuran’ as the greatest scripture and attached a lot of importance to Geet-Govind. He also greatly liked ‘Krishnakarnamrit’ of Lilashuk. He also very much liked the Bhajans of Jaydev, Vidyapati and Chandidas. He said that the Lord is not formless; His name is His form. It is only through His grace that one garners His love in one’s heart. Through sadhana, one could acquire only Brahmagyan (the esoteric knowledge). Gopi is the beloved of Lord Krishna, an eternal Beloved and the Swaroop-Shakti of the Lord. Radha is the ultimate height of absorption in the Lord. In his ecstasy Chaitnya Mahaprabhu experienced the Presence of Radha and Krishna. It is said:
    ‘RADHIKAR BHAVKANTI KARI ADHIKAR;
    NIJ RAS ASWADITE KARIAACHAVTAR;
    TABE HASI PRABHU NIJ DEKHAL SWAROOP;
    RASRAJ MAHABHAV DUH EK ROOP.’
    As regards ‘love’, my understanding is that love is ‘the complete absorption’ in the ‘Beloved’, where all duality ceases to exist. It is said ‘you wish to love and also retain your self’, it is not possible. My Master said about love:-“Love is quenching the thirst on the physical plane. This is not love. The human being is love, and Love loves the human being. To realize Love is to realize God. If we sit before an open fire, it warms us. There is no effort on our part. Those who have realized God are like this fire. Keep in their company. God realized Himself in the Heart of hearts of the human being. Example of the ocean and the waves. They disappear and are here. When we realize, Love disappears. We cannot give shape or name to Love. The deeper we go, the more it disappears. It radiates from every part of the body. One becomes Love personified.”
    Regards,
    RKGupta

  2. akraha1948 says:

    Guptaji, your observation that in true love duality ceases to exist is no doubt a loaded statement from spiritual perspective. But the question is, did Radha’s pang and pain of separation from her beloved Krishna, as was amply demonstrated at the time of their parting, reveal her absorption or immersion in Sri Krishna? Did it not betray, on the contrary, her distinct self-identity as a forlorn lover? Doesn’t the available literature talk about re-incarnation of Sri Krishna as Sri Chaitanya to experience the depth of Radha love and her sufferings as well? If this is true, then does it not pronounce duality in their legendary love?

    Radha love was amply demonstrated in Sri Chaitanya’s yearning for Sri Krishna. We find in him ecstasy of absorption and immersion in the beloved as also pain and sufferings for missing the beloved frequently. We should not miss an important fact in this context. Sri Chaitanya,like Madhavacharya was a hard core dualist who did not believe in merger of the worshipper with the worshiped. Replace the word ‘worshipper’ with ‘lover’ and ‘worshipped’ with ‘beloved’. Obviously a dualist like Sri Chaitanya would find the concept of their becoming one as unacceptable. It is, however, true that Sri chaitanya’s love toward Sri Krishna, very much like that of Radha, was self-less. But self in both the cases did not cease to exist.

    You’ve mentioned that Sri Chaitanya liked the compositions of Jaydev (Geet Govinda), Vidyapati and Chandidas. The latter two compositions were all about Radha’s yearning for Sri Krishna and the pang of losing him. There was no non-duality in those compositions.

    In fine, Radha’s and Sri Chaitanya’s self-less love and yearning for Sri Krishna cannot be relegated as less spiritual or less divine merely because their ‘self’ did not cease to exist while experiencing ecstasy or pain. There is no contemporary literature or text to suggest that Radha or Sri Chaitanya became one with Sri Krishna in complete absorption or immersion, in which state both ecstasy and pain become irrelevant.

  3. RKGupta says:

    Sir, there are references that once Radha mentioned to one of the Gopis that in the love of Sri Krishna she might become Krishna and then how would this love continue? The Gopi replied that if you become Krishna, then Krishna in your love would become Radha and this love would continue in the same manner. In any case, we do not know their internal state of being. I presume immersed in love, they were fully absorbed in their beloved. I would also believe that the pangs of love and separation they exhibited were a part of divine leela to set an example of love for the people.
    I would also like to mention a passage that mentions that “Chaitnya Mahaprabhu used to see the Lord from behind the Garud-Sthambha. In the year 1580 Vikram Samvat, one day in the month of Asadh (July) he was looking at the Lord from behind the pillar. Suddenly he went inside the temple and the doors of the temple got shut. People were astonished. Chaitnya Mahaprabhu was absorbed in the Jyoti of Lord Jaggannath.” A similar mention is found about Sant Meera Bai that she also was absorbed in the statue of Lord Ranchod Raiji (Lord Krishna). It is mentioned “Meera left Brij for Dwarka. There she used to sing and dance before the Lord Ranchodrai. After Meera had left Chittor, it faced much turmoil, which they thought had occurred because a devotee like Meera was harassed in Chittor and she had deserted it. The Rana of Chittor, therefore, thought of taking her back to Chittor but she declined to accompany him to Chittor. Around Vikram Samvat 1630, one day she sang before Dwarkadhishi:

    SAJAN! SUDH JYAN JAANON TYAN LEEJ;
    TUM BIN MERE AUR NA KOI, KRIPA RAVARI KIJE;
    DIN NAHI BHOOKH, RAIN NAHI NIDRA, YO TAN PAL-PAL CHIJE;
    MEERA KE PRABHU GIRIDHARNAGAR MILI BICHURAN NAHI DIJE.

    And then she sang:

    AB TO NIBHAYA SAREGI, BAHN GAHE KI LAAJ;
    SAMARATH SARAN TUMHARI SAIYAN, SARAB SUDHARAN KAAJ;
    BHAVSAGAR SANSAR APARBAL, JAME TUM HO JAHAJ;
    NIRDHARAN ADHAR JAGAT GURU, TUM BIN HOY AKAJ;
    JUG-JUG MEERA HARI BHAKTAN KI, DINI MOCHA SAMAJ;
    MEERA SARAN GAHI CHARNAN KI, LAAJ RAKHO MAHARAJ.

    When she was singing and dancing before Dwarkadhishi, a divine beam of light emerged from the Lord’s image, embraced Meera and thereafter no one saw Meera, she was absorbed in her Lord. This idol of the Lord is now in Dakor in Gujarat, near Baroda and a piece of Meera’s Audhani (scarf or shawl) is seen hanging by the side of the Lord’s statue.

    NRITYAT NUPUR BANDHI KE, GAVAT KARTAR;
    DEKHAT HI HARI ME MILI, TRIN SAM GAIN SANSAR;
    MEERA KO NIJ LEEN KIYE, NAGAR NANDKISHORE;
    JAG PRATIT HIT-NATH-MUKH, RAHYO CHOONARI-CHOR.”
    Similarly, it is mentioned about Andal Rangnayaki, the Meera of South that “Once she got so frenzied in the anguish of separation that Lord Rangnath appeared in the dream of the priests and asked them to bring His beloved Aandal for her marriage with Him immediately. Simultaneously He appeared in the dream of Vishnuchitt Peri-Alawar and asked him to adorn Aandal as a bride and to bring her to the temple. Aandal at the same time saw in her dream that she was being married to the Lord with great ostentation. Next day very early in the morning devotees and priests reached the house of Vishnuchitt with a palanquin to take Lord’s bride to the temple. Conches were being blown loudly with uproar of musical instruments and ecstasy all around. Aandal, devotion personified, was welcomed in the temple amidst the enchanting of Veda-mantras and feeling of divinity all around. A divine light engulfed the temple. Aandal immediately rode over the Sheshshaiyya (couch of Sesa-the divine serpent) of Lord Rangnath. The lover and beloved united. A divine light embraced Aandal, Lord Sri Rangnath and Aandal became one. In a moment and in the presence of all Aandal left behind her physical body and forever slept in the lap of her beloved. Her soul had wedded Lord Rangnath and became one with Him. Aandal was the culmination of the love of Gopis for Lord Sri Krishna.”
    The question here is not about the historical authenticity of these events but the message they convey. The message is loud and clear that they got absorbed in the love of their Beloved and became One with the Beloved. That was the moment when they were at the most intense state of their love for the Beloved, which left no duality between them and their Beloved.
    RKGupta

  4. akraha1948 says:

    Guptaji, thanks indeed for your excellent depiction, analyses & annotation of selective but well-known anecdotes concerning Radha, Sri Chatanya, Meera & Aandal, in regard to their Divine Love toward Sri Krishna/Sri Ranganath, to drive home your point that they all lost duality in love & became one with their beloved, viz. Sri Krishna/ Sri Ranganath.

    An erudite scholar like you will surely appreciate that the same events/anecdotes/slokas are capable of being interpreted differently, depending on the personal orientation & spiritual level of the interpreter. The case in point is Vedavyas’s Brahma Sutras which have been interpreted by Shankara as essentially non-dualist, by Madhavacharya as fundamentally dualist, and by Sri Ramanuja as qualified dualist. Sri Chaitanya was an ardent believer in duality & subscribed to the postulate of Sri Madhavacharya that the Lord and His devotee could never be one.

    All the persona u’ve discussed had demonstrated in abundance one common impulse in love – their uncontrolled yearning for their beloved, which did not allow them to remain composed, calm, contented or in peace. The persons who are completely absorbed or immersed in love, like Parvati or Uma in relation to Siva, did not have the kind of yearning demonstrated by Radha or Sri Chaitanya. Yet the Siva Puran does not suggest that Parvati became one with Siva.

    As a matter of fact, union of Sri Chaitanya with Sri Jagannath, or of Meera with Ranchod Raiji, or of Aandal with Sri Ranganath need not be interpreted as becoming one or non-dual merely because they had left their mortal bodies behind while in a height of ecstasy. We should remember that the Hindus worship Radha & Krishna in dual form, just as we worship Lakshmi & Vishnu/Narayan, Siva & Parvati. In our philosophy also, duality is recognized in form of Purusha & Prakriti. Vedanta, of course, talks of evolution and involution. In the state of evolution, duality exists, while in the state of dissolution entire creation gets merged/involved in the creator, thereby putting an end to duality. I do not find any apparent justification to extend this Vedantic concept of involution/dissolution to some self-less lovers of a Divine Soul viz. Sri Krishna.

    I am not too sure whether the love of Radha, Sri Chaitanya, Meera & Aandal toward their beloved Sri Krishna/Sri Ranganath could be described as attached, unattached or detached. Therefore, we have coined the expression – Divine. But Gopalottaratapaniya Upanishad leaves us with no doubt that Sri Krishna was completely detached toward the Gopis like the lotus leaves remain unsoaked even while immersed in water. So the question of Krishna turning into Radha is doubtful, if not incredible, as a proposition. As a matter of fact, Srimat Bhagwat does not mention Radha. Nor do the Upanishads & Mahabharat. The story of Radha came in circulation much later with wide variation, from region to region.Thus the reference to a text where Radha tells the Gopis that she is becoming Krishna can be discarded outright as a figment of imagination of a romantic poet/writer. Surely such spiritually loaded statement of Radha would not have lost sight of Sri Vedavyas who did not mention her even once in his Bhagwat. Nor has Sri Krishna mentioned Radha to his myriad followers & play mates, quite a few of whom were stated to be in touch with him all through.

    I would like to make it clear that to glorify Divine Love of Radha, Sri Chaitanya, Meera & Aandal we need not necessarily subscribe to the theory that all of them lost their separate identity or duality. Their love was glorious for reason of their self-identity. Sans identity, their love would have been non est.

  5. RKGupta says:

    I would support your conclusion, in as much as the question of love arises when there is a lover and the beloved. It,therefore, has the inherent duality. In that sense the duality would remain and it does remain even for the highly realized souls, of course very very subtly. However, the yearning for the Beloved is this yearning to get absorbed and the more one is absorbed, higher the state of love. In the absolute state of absorption, the duality ceases to exist and in that state, there is neither lover nor the beloved, it is only LOVE and LOVE alone. Since most of the Lover-saints felt bliss in the sate of duality, yearning for their beloved and enjoyed the pangs of love and separation, they refused to give up this dual perception.

  6. akraha1948 says:

    Guptaji, finally we agree in essence.

    However, I put it to you for your consideration. Is it fair to assume that God is biased to the one who loves God, given the fact that all are God’s children? It is said that all those who hated Krishna, like Kamsha, Sisupal etc. and got killed by him were eventually absorbed in him. No wonder, therefore, that those who loved Sri Krishna would get absorbed in him as well. The absorption here was talked of in the sense of getting shelter in the Lord & not in the sense of losing identity and becoming one with the Lord. As for instance, Mali and Sumali opted for 3 incarnations as enemies of the Lord instead of 7 births as his friends. Each time they got killed by the Lord, they got absorbed in the Lord to be born again to fight the Lord. Obviously they did not lose their identity after so-called absorption. Finally, after they exhausted their karma, they got back their original identity as Mali & Sumali in Vishnu Loka. Likewise, it is believed that Meera was Radha incarnate & Radha in all likelihood was Lakshmi incarnate.

    Now reverting to the yearning of Radha for her Krishna, I am citing a single line from Chandidas, which is unsurpassable in simplicity, beauty & expression of love, but has been interpreted variously by scholars::

    “Prati anga laagi kande prati anga mor”
    (My every limb yearns for his every limb)

    Now was this yearning at physical level or at spiritual level? I shall of course go for the latter, given the fact that Sri Krishna was a minor during Vrindavan phase, but yet taken for God incarnate by Radha and the Gopis who were much older than him. Obviously, they did not look to his physique, age or appearance while expressing their love. What they craved for singularly was only his grace.

    As for others namely Sri Chaitanya, Meera & Aandal, Sri Krishna/ Sri Ranganath was not present in physical form. Therefore, the question of their love being physical does not arise at all.

    To conclude, the relationship in all those cases was based on intense love of Radha, Sri Chaitanya, Meera & Aandal and the grace of their beloved Sri Krishna who was/is repository of infinite love.

  7. RKGupta says:

    Most of our scriptures use allegories and the saints have also used allegories. The naked Truth is too luminous to be gazed at by naked eyes for common people like me, it is blinding and, therefore, they put it in a language understood by the commoners. As I submitted earlier, we know about Gopis and Radha from the saints and poets, who wrote about them. The bliss the Gopis would have enjoyed in the company of the Lord cannot be explained leave aside others, even by the Gopis themselves, since that would be beyond words. All the written words can at best be a reflection of the truth and the words have their own limitations. I find extremely difficult to imagine how divine love can be expressed, except the way the saint-poets have expressed? To quote an example from the life of Sant Surdas:
    Once Surdas went to Gokul to have Darshan of Lord Navnitpriya. He used to describe Lord’s adornment, as it is in his verses. Giridhar, the son of Gosai Vitthalnath, on his asking took a test of Surdas. He adorned the Lord strangely; instead of clothes, the Lord was covered with garlands of pearls. Surdas started singing:

    DEKH RI HARI NANGAM NANGA;
    JALSUT BHOOSHAN ANG BIRAJAT, BASAN HEEN CHABI UTHATH TARANGA;
    ANG ANG PRATI AMIT MADHURI, NIRAKHI LAJIT KOTI ANANGA;
    KILKAT DADHISUT MUKH LE MAN BHARI, SOOR HANSAT BRIJ JUVATIN SANGA.

    (Meaning thereby-Look at the Lord, Who is wearing nothing. He is wearing pearls and from His body waves of bliss are flowing. He is so handsome that looking at it millions of Kamdev i.e. the Lord of love(Cupid), feel ashamed.)
    One can derive meaning according to one’s own tuning of mind. The bliss in the company of saints is unexplainable and I believe it would have been so in the company of the Lord. For we the human beings the most intense feeling of love is that between a lover and beloved (Laila and Majnu in Arabic literature) and I think it is because of this that the divine bliss has been so expressed.

  8. akraha1948 says:

    Guptaji, I couldn’t have agreed more with you on the divine vision of Radha, the Gopis and the saints. This precisely explains why in their vision, Krishna was just not a small cowherd boy, but Lord Vishnu or Narayan Himself. The Lord manifested Himself before the Gopis as Lover, Protector & also Playmate. It’s this awesome, mesmerizing & over-powering vision of the Lord that drove them mad in love. Laila-Majnu love episode cannot be compared with Divine Love we are discussing here. The former, though not questionable on the ground of depth & purity, was entirely a case of sensory & physical attraction/attachment with no tinge of spirituality or extra sensory perception like in the latter case. Second, in the case of Laila-Majnu, the attachment was mutual and between the equals, while in the latter case, Radha, the Gopis, Sri Chaitanya, Meera & Aandal completely surrendered themselves to their Lord with the yearning of uncontrolled & irresistible lovers. There is thus a clear distinction. You may, however, say that selfless love between Laila & Majnu was also divine. Even then, it was not the same as Divine Love, the subject of our discussion.

  9. Sarada Ranjan Das says:

    In Ramayana we find story of Shabari and her longing for Sri Rama. Her Guru Rishi Matanga told her that by the virtue of her seva (service), Lord Ram shall give her darshan and asks her to wait for his arrival. Shabari, who lived an ascetic life in the forest, was expecting Sri Rama to pass by her hermitage. She waited for months and years to have the darshan of Sri Rama. She waited earnestly to hear his footsteps. At last Sri Rama came and Shabari’s dream was fulfilled.

    Perhaps this is a silent example of Shanta Bhav in Bhakti

  10. RKGupta says:

    Sir, we agree and are talking about the same thing in essence. Laila-Majnu anecdote is an Arabic allegory of the divine love. In fact there was no Laila, it was only Majnu, who in ecstasy of love for Laila forgot about himself and took himself to be Laila, so that when Laila was there, Majnu was not there and when Maju was there Laila was not there. In Arabic Majnu means the Sun and Laila means the night. They cannot co-exist and yearn for each other. Of course now-a-days the expression Laila-Majnu is used more in derogation. I quoted this only as an example rather than comparing.
    I also agree with you that the Almighty is all-Encompassing distinguishing not between His lovers and those who appear to have enmity towards Him. In fact one remembers more of the enemy rather than a friend and this constant remembrance of the Almighty has its own impact.
    Mr. Das is right, His lovers are answered.

  11. Manimala Das says:

    In regard to the last paragraph of the conclusion of Mr S. R. Das’s write –up, I am very much allured to refer to Swami Vivekananda’s “Lecture on Universal Love” (New York). The Swami was talking about Samashthi and Byashthi.
    God is the Samashthi and this visible universe is Byasthi, the myriad manifestations of God. Swamiji says that if we love this sum total, we love everything. If we love God then we will have the power to love everyone in this universe and do well to them. “In the blissful state of supreme divine love, the Bhakta or the devotee realises that ‘everything is His and He is my Lover: I love Him.’ In this way everything becomes sacred to the Bhakta, because all things are His. All are His children. His body. His manifestation. How then may we hurt anyone? How then may we not love anyone? With the love of God, will come, as a sure effect, the love of everyone in the universe.” (Lecture of Swami Vivekananda on Universal Love).
    Once Sri Ramakrishna told a Bhakta on his query that if one was in love with God, one would no longer be able to take a misstep in his daily dealings. His conduct, behaviour, activities all would be smeared with love and good will for those around him. So, Love of God in its true sense, makes the devotee all the more endeared and compassionate to each and every living being, and thus elevates him into a high life state. In the case of Sri Ramakrishna, Chaitanyadev and Mirabai, they remained most of the time immersed in God’s Love, oblivious of the external world, but their exemplary lives continue to inspire us. Sri Ramakrishna, through his gospels implanted valueless jewels of spirituality in our minds, Sri Chaitanya revolutionised the society by including all sorts of people in his Nam Sankirtan parikrama, regardless of their caste, creed or gender, and Mirabai by her immortal songs of devotion made our minds purer and calmer than ever.
    Regards,
    Manimala Das

    • akraha1948 says:

      Ms. Das, Your citation from Swami Vivekananda is apt & contextual. Divine Love the Swamiji has spoken of is surely in the realm of ideal and very few people can reach that stage. The logical corollary of Divine Love is the realization – Tat Tvam Asi (Thou Art That), which we find in Chhandogya Upanishad. When the lover of God realizes God, he/she discovers that there is no difference between God, the beloved, and self, the lover. And the next stage of realization is that God is in all. In that state all the yearning & maddening impulse to reach and possess God just disappears. To quote the Swamiji, “It is a very dizzy height on the pinnacle of the religion of love, and few in this world have ever climbed up to it.” And once a person has climbed up to it, the Vyasti or the phenomenal world becomes Samashti or the universal whole (God). It is, however, pertinent that the Swamiji in his conclusive remark in the very same speech under reference has described Divine Love as “attachment of love to God…. that does not bind the soul but effectively breaks all its bondages.”

      The Divine Lovers we have discussed so far were on the verge of breaking their bondages to the world so as to unite with their beloved Krishna – the Samashti personified. And when they actually did, they had no use of their mortal bodies or the yearning for their beloved any more.

  12. Sarada Ranjan Das says:

    I am not quoting any personality, just making a simple point. In Divine Love, selfishness no longer exists. All vices in human behavior are due to selfishness. And if that is not there what remains is Love and only Love without any discrimination because discrimination is primarily due to selfishness.

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