Q. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Sri Caitanya-siksamrta explains that in terms of world theological evolution Moses is to be understood as being in dasya rasa, Mohammed in sakhya rasa, Jesus in vatsalya rasa, and that Caitanya Mahaprabhu brought madhurya rasa. How then can we consider anything but madhurya rasa as being in Sri Caitanya Deva’s line?
A. In Caitanya-caritamrta it is stated that Mahaprabhu came to distribute the four spiritual sentiments of Vraja loka: dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and srngara: cari bhava-bhakti diya nacamu bhuvana (Cc. 1.3.19), and that these sentiments have the power to subdue Krishna: dasya sakhya vatsalya srngara—cari rasa cari bhavera bhakta yata krishna tara vasa (Cc. 1.3.11). According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu made these sentiments available to those whose intrinsic spiritual nature corresponds with any of them.
The two most prominent sentiments found in the Gaudiya sampradaya are sakhya-bhava and gopi-bhava. Within sakhya-bhava, the sentiment of the priyanarma sakha is most prominent. The priyanarma sakha is the most confidential friend of Krishna and is involved in Krishna’s romantic life. Within prema bhakti, his love develops through the stages of sneha, pranaya, mana, raga, and anuraga up to the stage of bhava: subaladyera ‘bhava’ paryanta premera mahima (Cc. 2.23.55).
However, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has commented that the priyanarma sakha’s bhava is synonymous with mahabhava. Vrajanatha of Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s Jaiva Dharma attained the status of a priyanarma sakha, and Akincana Krishnadasa Babaji, the well-known disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, also attained this mellow and wrote of this to Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami. Other examples are there as well.
The gopi bhava of our sampradaya is more commonly referred to as manjari bhava and specifically as bhavollasa rati. It extends in spiritual excellence to mahabhava and within that to adhirudha-madan-mahabhava. Devotees who attain this spiritual status identify themselves as handmaidens of Sri Radha and vicariously experience her ecstasy. This is no doubt the furthest reach of Sri Caitanya’s own experience and the most prominent sentiment found in the Gaudiya sampradaya.
Sri Caitanyadeva distributed the full feast of love of God, and each and every devotee who comes to the table will partake in accordance with the measure of his or her appetite. Otherwise, Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s statements about other religious figures and their relationship with the devotional mellows of Vraja bhakti are a generous form of propaganda with emphasis on the spiritual zenith of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s contribution to the world of spiritual experience.
Q. Is there any intrinsic relationship between the expansion of Balarama and Lord Siva?
A. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, Siva’s object of meditation is Sankarsana. Sankarsana is another name for Balarama, as well as the name of one of Balarama’s expansions. Thus the relationship between Siva and Balarama is one of devotion on the part of the former to the latter.
Q. What are the names of Candravali’s friends and their maidservants?
A. We Gaudiyas have little interest in the camp of Candravali because she is Radha’s competitor in the lila, but Padma, Saibya and other daksina gopis (right wing/submissives) serve her as Lalita, Visakha, etc, do Radha. The handmaidens of these friends of Candravali are many.
Q. Do the manjaris have Krishna completely?
A. No one has Krishna more than Radha and no devotee has Radha more than her manjaris.
Q. You wrote: “The friends of Radha take her as the object of their love and their kind of love is called bhavollasa (or radha-snehadhika, radha-dasyam). It came to be known as the dominant emotion of the manjari—manjari-bhava. Srila Jiva Goswami said that bhavollasa is still called a secondary emotion (sancari-bhava), although it is said to be a very special kind of secondary emotion (sancaritve ‘pivaisistyapeksaya).
The problem is that I understood that a secondary emotion (sancari or vyabhicari-bhava), even if it is a very special kind of secondary emotion, by definition couldn’t evolve into rasa. Only a dominant emotion (sthayi-bhava) can do so. Can you explain further?
A. Bhavollasa-rati, or manjari-bhava, is as much a special kind of sancari-bhava (transitory emotion) as it is and more so a special kind of sthayi-bhava. When Sri Jiva Goswami says that it is a special kind of sancari-bhava, he means that although it is an expression of love for the friend of Krishna (Radha) rather than for Krishna himself and in this sense a sancari-bhava, under scrutiny it becomes apparent that it involves love of for both Radha and Krishna, and therefore it is a special kind of sthayi-bhava.
All devotees of Vraja have sancari-bhavas for each other, whereas these sancari-bhavas do not overpower their sthayi-bhava (permanent emotion) in relation to Krishna. If the manjari-bhava were for Radha alone, it would truly be only a sancari bhava, but because it is actually for Radha and Krishna combined it is in fact a sthayi-bhava. The term “bhavollasa” literally means “That love that enlivens their [Radha Krishna’s] love for one another.”
You should note that the scripture concerning the love of the inhabitants of Vrindavana was written by Rupa Goswami with the assistance of Jiva Goswami. While they used the secular rasa theory as a framework to explain the Absolute, who is transcendental rasa itself (raso vai sah) and its relisher as well, their explanation need not fit entirely within the framework of secular rasa theory for it to be valid. There are a number of differences between the two systems. For example, in secular rasa theory the lover and beloved enjoy equally in their union, whereas in transcendence the beloved (Radha) far exceeds Krishna in her capacity to taste rasa. This truth and difference between secular rasa theory and Sri Rupa’s system gives rise to the entire explanation of Rupa Goswami, because it necessitates the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The problem you perceive is really a result of thinking that Sri Rupa’s explanation of the highest reality must fit in all respects with the secular theory he borrowed language from for his explanation.
Previously I wrote the following on this topic: “Bhavollasa-rati is peculiar in that it involves love for Radha in a dominant mood (sthayi-bhava). In Vraja all of the devotees have a dominant mood of love for Krishna. He is the object of their devotion in moods of servitude, friendship, paternal, and conjugal love. Devotees of Vraja also have love for one another, yet these sentiments of love are not dominant moods but represent a particular type of sancari, or transitory, bhava. This sancari-bhava never overpowers the devotee’s dominant love for Krishna, but serves to increase it.
In the case of bhavollasa-rati, however, the manjaris’ love directed towards Radha does take precedence over their feelings of love for Krishna on an ongoing basis. Thus it is not a sancari-bhava, yet because it is directed towards Radha rather than Krishna one would not expect it to be classified as a stayi-bhava either. The resolution of this dilemma is that the manjaris’ love, while more intense for Radha than Krishna, is nonetheless for Krishna as well. The manjaris love both Radha-Krishna combined with emphasis on Radha, and thus they are in a unique position in which Radha-Krishna combined become the object of their romantic love. Representing bhavollasa-rati Narottama dasa sings: jivane marane gati, radha-krishna prana pati, “In life or death my ideal is Radha-Krishna.” Prana pati means “Lord of my life” and refers to one’s lover. Here the “lover” is Radha-Krishna.