Q. What is a rasika?
A. Meditating on Krishna-lila from the perspective of one’s inner spiritual body, the practitioner sometimes experiences himself to be part of the lila and sometimes sees himself as a practitioner, aware of his practitioner’s body. When he experiences himself as part of the lila, his meditation becomes his reality. He no longer sees himself as a viewer of the eternal drama; the emotions of the role model he follows become his own.
From simple remembrance of Krishna (smaranam), the practitioner moves to consciously removing any other thoughts, practicing concentration (dharanam), and then meditating (dhyanam). It is at the stage of dhyanam that he can effectively envision the eternal daily lila of Krishna, become fixed in that meditation (dhruvanusmrti), and from there enter into it in samadhi, or trance of love. The advanced practitioner performs this meditation in the midst of his daily activities involving his outer sadhaka-deha, visualizing what Radha and Krishna are doing in their day from the perspective of his own aspired-for role in his siddha-deha.
The mature practitioner enters the eternal drama of Radha-Krishna while reading, hearing, or remembering the passages of rasa-pancadhyaya or other similar literature. Krishna has been called uttamasloka, the perfection of verse. Such is the verse of the Bhagavatam and the subsequent literature of the Goswamis. It is poetry that is reality, through which the connoisseur of rasa forgets his practitioner’s body and the entire material world of falsity to live within the pages of the literature.
It may be difficult to conceive of poetry as reality, for in poetry one can do and see that which one cannot in the so-called “real” world of our sense experience. Yet Srimad-Bhagavatam is not merely poetry. It is also a book of siddhanta, or conclusive knowledge, the ripened fruit of the wish-fulfilling tree known as the Vedas.
From the Vedas one can get all knowledge. Srimad-Bhagavatam represents the utmost knowledge one can get from this tree, the highest aspiration of the soul. Knowledge is as valuable as that which it affords us the capacity to do. All action requires some knowledge. That knowledge which affords us the capacity to love the absolute is the highest knowledge. That love is a prospect so high that God himself bows to it. Its attainment fully satisfies the Absolute. While most are concerned with being satisfied by the Absolute, Srimad-Bhagavatam proposes the opposite: a path whose goal is to comprehensively satisfy the Absolute. This satisfaction of the Absolute is possible through the utter selflessness of the path of passionate love.
Absolute love is the ideal of the Bhagavatam, the fruit of the highest knowledge. Its poetry is a description of the land of love, wherein all things are possible. If truth is love and beauty, it is reasonable that it be represented in poetry, wherein all things are possible. In poetry , land can turn into water and water into land, as it does in the Bhagavatam when Krishna plays his flute. Love resolves all contradictions, for in love our lover’s faults become ornaments.
While meditating upon the divine poetry of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the practitioner becomes increasingly absorbed, identifying the various constituents of rasa therein, nourishing his particular dominant emotion. Thus the verses come to life for the practitioner, and at the perfectional stage he experiences divine rasa. Imbibing the spiritual emotions embodied in his ideal within the text, the practitioner’s soul lives in that transcendental emotional reality.
From Aesthetic Vedanta: The Sacred Path of Passionate Love by Swami B. V. Tripurari.
[Swami B. V. Tripurari’s Aesthetic Vedanta is available for free download here.]