Sunday, February 27, 2011

Piriti and Chandidas's humanism

I had a break yesterday and plunged back into Chandidas. I was reading Biman Bihari Majumdar's edition, which has much to say for it, as he has gone deeply into the Chandidas mystery, sorting out which Chandidas is which.

There are so many Chandidasas -- minimum four, probably five or more. Majumdar divides his book into four sections: definitely Chandidas, not so sure, definitely Baru Chandidas and Dina Chandidas, and ones that though ascribed or attributed are definitely not the original Chandidas. Many of the latter are signed Dvija Chandidas, who is definitely post-Chaitanya, though he shows no direct knowledge of or devotion to Chaitanya.

The rāgātmikā-padas of the Sahajiya Chandidas are left out entirely, since everyone seems to agree that they are post-Chaitanya. Majumdar also thinks Baru Chandidas is at least contemporary with Chaitanya, which I don't agree with.

Basically all the students of early Bengali literature pick over each pada and choose which author it belongs to. Majumdar is pretty good and I agree with most of his selection, but the problems are too many: the fluidity of the song tradition in Bengal is the main one. There were no printing presses, no copyright laws. A lot of it was oral transmission. The telephone game was in full throttle. Singers updated language and ideas as they incorporated songs into their own performances.

What is immediately noticeable about the 120 padas Majumdar has chosen as being genuinely the genuine original Chandidas that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu listened to in the Gambhira, is the frequent use of the word piriti (পিরিতি), which clearly is one of the signposts of a Chandidas song, and even his imitators follow by speaking of it.

Something had possessed me to try to find a song related to piriti that I had a faint memory of, but I started at the beginning and read song by song through the section of those Majumdar considers genuine.

Though there is some variety in the nature of the songs, it soon becomes apparent that there is one overriding theme: Radha's love is not bringing her much happiness. Most significant of her troubles is that it is bringing public opprobrium and much harassment from her in-laws, especially the sister-in-law (nanadi). Sometimes Radha is defiant, sometimes desperate, but she is always alone without anyone with whom she can share her feelings.

She rushed into love on the basis of an attraction she barely understood, convinced it would bring her happiness, but it seems that the opposite has happened. The nectar has turned to poison that burns her entire body. Love is a disease (piriti beyādhi), her only prayer is to be rid of it.

Radha's pessimism about love is unadulterated. Krishna himself plays only a small role; his principal action appears to be inaction or absence. Only one or two verses mention his flute or physical beauty. Though most songs belong to the pūrva-rāga, a few verses mention Radha's disappointment with Krishna's behavior later, even after they have met. Krishna as a person is barely present. The feeling of love itself seems to be dominant. The emphasis is entirely on Radha's mood.

As even this short description shows, the theme of love as suffering carries familiar elements and themes that are reflected in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, especially Chapter 2 of the Madhya-līlā.

sonāra gāgari yena biṣa bhari dudhera purila mukha
vicāra kariẏā ye jana nā khāya pariṇāme pāẏa dukha 
As though she had filled her mouth with milk that contained poison from a golden jug. One who thinks too much about it and refuses such a drink suffers even more. (62)
kānura pirīti baḍi biṣam chāḍile nā yāẏa chāḍā
āmi se chāḍile piriti nā chāḍe e dukha haẏeche bāḍā 
Love for Krishna increased to such intensity that even wanting to give it up, she couldn't. And her misery only increased to know when thinking, "I am giving up love, but Love won't go away." (112)
bahuta pirīti bahuta dukha alapa pirīti bhāla
hāsite hāsite piriti kariẏā kāndite janama gela
A lot of love means a lot of pain. It is better to love less. I laughed and laughed when I fell in love, but now my life has been wasted in tears.
parera mana dukha pare nāhi jāne śuni kare upahāsa
āpanā baliẏā piriti kariluṁ jāti kula haila nāśa
One person cannot know the misery in another's mind. And if they hear about it, they only joke and make fun [of the one in love]. I fell in love thinking that it was natural to me, and so brought destruction to my [connections to] family and clan.
It is only in the bhaṇitā verse at the end of each song, when the author himself speaks to Radha directly that there is some relief and hope given for love's ultimate beneficence.

kahe caṇḍīdāse biraha dekhiẏā śuna go rājāra jhi
rādhā rādhā bali baṁśīṭī bājāya, bicchede ṭhekyācha ki
Chandidas says, seeing Radha's distress in separation, "O listen to me, princess! Krishna is playing his flute, which sings 'Radha Radha,' why are you fixated on separation?"
caṇḍīdāsa kahe manera ānande śuna adabhuta kathā
se bandhu nāgara tomā chāḍā nahe antare nā bhāba bethā
 
With a joyful heart, Chandidas says, "Listen to this amazing matter! Your lover and friend is never far from you. So don't be unhappy inside." (104)
nagara mājhāre loka bole more
ai āila śyāmera rāi
caṇḍīdāsa bole kāliẏā ratana
tomāri galāra hāra
When they see me coming, people in the town mock me saying, "Here comes Krishna's girlfriend Radha." Chandidas says, "Krishna is a a black jewel, an emerald, that hangs like a pendant around your neck."
caṇḍīdāsa kahe śuna binodini, nāme nā bhābiha āna
tumi se śyāmera sarabasa dhana, śyāma se tomāra prāṇa
Chandidas says, "Listen, my beauty, don't go making any mistake. You are Shyam's life and soul, his treasure, just as he is your life."
kichu kichu sudhā biṣa guna ādhā nehā cirañjīvī kaila
Meanwhile, in Vrindavan, Hit Harivams portrays Radha in a much different light:

देखौ मा अबला के बल रासि ।
अति गज मत्त निरंकुस मोंहन, निरखि बंधे लट पासि ॥
अबहीं पंगु मन की गति, बिनु उद्दिम अनियास ।
तबकी कहा कहौं जब प्रिय प्रति, चाहति भृकुटि बिलास ॥
कच संजमन ब्याज भुज दरसति, मुसकनि वदन विकास ।
हा हरिवंश अनीति रीति हित, कत डारति तन त्रास ॥

dekhau māī abalā ke bala rāsi
ati gaja matta niraṁkusa moṁhana, nirakhi baṁdhe laṭa pāsi
abahīṁ paṁgu mana kī gati, binu uddima aniyāsa
tabakī kahā kahauṁ jaba priya prati, cāhati bhṛkuṭi bilāsa
kaca saṁjamana byāja bhuja darasati, musakani vadana vikāsa
hā harivaṁśa anīti rīti hita, kata ḍārati tana trāsa
Oh look, Ma, at the heaps of power this “powerless” girl possesses! Mohan Krishna is a drunken elephant that no one can control, but she ties him down with one braid of her hair.

Tied down, his mind’s movements have become like those of a cripple—and she has not even made any conscious effort of any kind! So tell me what will happen if she decides to look at him, to give him one of her playful glances?

Pretending to fix her hair, she lifts her arms, with a knowing smile spreading across her face. Harivamsa says, “It’s not fair! This love business does not follow the rules. You should not beat a man when he is down.”
The contrast of this Radha to the Radha of Chandidas is striking. None of Chandidas' padas (nor those of Badu Chandidas as far as I know) paint her as the svādhīna-bhartṛkā like the Sanskrit poets, including (especially) Jayadeva.

It is my feeling, however, that Radha is a "complex" archetype and tying her down to one poet's mood would be foolish. Radha is an open-ended complex of mahābhāva. She is our ārādhya devatā.

Let me put that another way: Like the blind men and the elephant, poets and devotees are projecting their ideal of love on Radha, and it is their personality and mood that gives their Radha form. As the perception of Radha's multifarious dimensions increases with the input of those who meditate on her, the concept of love itself is expanded and purified.

Some persons may think Radha is irrelevant to the understanding of love, or outdated, or in need of serious reform, etc. A devotee understands that Radha cannot be understood without the culture of bhakti/love. Love is for those who are devotees of Love.



Nevertheless, our "original" Chandidas does not give up his adoration of love (piriti) itself. The song I was looking for was probably this one:

পিরিতির্ রীতি, শুন রসৱতি, পিরিতি করহ সার
পিরিতি সাগরে, যেবা না সাংতারে, কি ছার জীৱন তার ।
পিরিতি নগরে, বসতি করহ, থাকহ পিরিতি মাঝে
সকল তেজিয়া, পিরিতে মজহ, কি করে লোকের লাজে ।
পিরিতি বলিয়া, নিশান তুলিয়া, দাও না ভুবন ভরি
পিরিতি রসের, কলঙ্ক পাইলে, বিলম্ব নাহিক করি ।
কহে চণ্ডীদাসে, বাশুলী আদেশে, পিরিতি সুগম ভাল
সুজন জানিয়া, পিরিতি করহ, পিরিতে গোঙাও কাল ।

piritir rīti, śuna rasavati, piriti karaha sāra
piriti sāgare, yebā nā sāṁtāre, ki chāra jīvana tāra |
piriti nagare, basati karaha, thākaha piriti mājhe
sakala tejiẏā, pirite majaha, ki kare lokera lāje |
piriti baliẏā, niśāna tuliẏā, dāo nā bhubana bhari
piriti rasera, kalaṅka pāile, bilamba nāhika kari |
kahe caṇḍīdāse, bāśulī ādeśe, piriti sugama bhāla
sujana jāniẏā, piriti karaha, pirite goṅāo kāla |
Listen, my dear, to the ways of love.
Make love the essence [of your life].
How insignificant is the life of one
who does not swim in the ocean of love!
Take up residence in the city of love,
remain in the midst of love.
Give up everything and immerse yourself in love;
don't hold back for fear of shame or public repudiation!
Proclaim love and raise the banner of love!
Fill the world with love!
If you have been stained by the taste of love,
there will be no delay.
Chandidas says, on the order of Basuli,
"Love is very easy to understand:
Know Krishna to be a good and virtuous man
and so love him. Live your life in love."
(Chandidaser Padavali, B.B. Majumdar, song 120)
This song has the signature appeal to Basuli that is everywhere in Badu Chandidas's Sri Krishna Kirtan, even though Majumdar takes it as being of the "original" Chandidas. I think that this song gives the right understanding. It is not conditional on finding the right partner, but assumes that the right partner has already been found. The word sujana ("good and virtuous man") comes up in other songs where Chandi Das assuages Radha's doubts about Krishna's character or glorifies the benefits of loving him. This is called bhāva sādhanā. It is the essence of rāgānugā sādhanā. Its locus is in the heart and not the head or the senses.

sakala upara, piriti sādhana, ye jana sādhite pāre
kahe caṇḍīdāsa sei se durlabha e tina bhubana sāre
Above all else is the sādhanā of love. The person who is able to cultivate this practice, says Chandidas, is so hard to find anywhere in the three worlds. (115)
Is this Chandidas a Sahajiya? That probably depends on where you draw the line on Sahajiyaism. If you are including "sexo-yogic" practices, then there is nothing, not even hinted at, in the verses Majumdar has selected. If a kind of humanism is what you mean, then the entire picture of Radha provided by them is very human, and ties the culture of human love into the culture of divine love. This humanism is definitely an aṅga of all Sahajiya sects, including (or especially) the Bauls, and even a subtle undercurrent in popular (as opposed to strictly orthodox and renounced) Vaishnavism.

We personally favor this humanistic approach. I was a little surprised to see that the line "Human existence is highest above all, there is nothing superior to it" (sarvopari manuṣya sattva tār upari nāi) that is usually [and popularly] attributed to the original Chandidas is nowhere to be found in Majumdar's collection. That line is rarely quoted with the rest of the song (don't know where I would find it either), but is often pointed to as the beginning of a humanism that is said to have influenced the Chaitanya Vaishnava view of Krishna (kṛṣṇera yateka khelā sarvottama nara-līlā).

Jai Radhe!


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Surata Sukha from Mahāvāṇī





In November, I got a nice present from Brahmachari Brajvihari Sharan at Golok Dham Ashram in Delhi: An annotated copy of Harivyas Devacharya’s Mahāvāṇī (ca. 1573 CE).

Of late, there has been a rather unappetizing scandal surrounding the sex tapes of a popular Bhagavata speaker, which raises doubts again about the appropriateness of discussing or repeating Radha and Krishna’s “confidential”, i.e., erotic, pastimes.

It seems that such worries are well-founded when such prurient interest in what appear to be mundane sexuality is dressed up in Vrindavan garb and then marketed for profit to those who have little or no appreciation for Braja rasa in its purest and most transcendental form.

Nevertheless, we must, against all criticism, reaffirm our own faith in madhura-rasa, the erotic mood of love, as the king of the “mellows” and in Radha and Krishna, the divine embodiment of that mood, in two moieties as Rasarāj and Mahābhāva.

Vrindavan is unique in that it is the land of the Rasika-sampradayas, all of whom pledge allegiance to shringara rasa, and there is no use in avoiding that truth. All the other rasas are subservient to madhura, just as the four purusharthas are all subservient to prema, the fifth and unsurpassable goal of human life, love. Each of these sampradayas have their own way of relishing these pastimes and answering the questions about desire, eroticism, love and transcendence.

So to honor this commitment to the purest form of divine love, which in reality only exists in the Yugala Sarkar, Shri Shri Radha Madana Mohan, we offer the Vrindavan Today community a taste of Ratanlal Beriwala’s introduction to the Surata Sukh chapter of Mahāvāṇī.

Mahāvāṇī is one of the great texts of Braj Vaishnavism. It is a pure rasika work and each word of the text exudes the sweetness of shringara rasa. It has five chapters: sevā-sukha, utsāha-sukha, surata-sukha, sahaja-sukha and siddhānta-sukha, all of which are devoted to one aspect or another of the madhura pastimes. Surata-sukha, as the discussion that follows explains, is about the Divine Couple’s erotic dalliances.

The commentator Ratanlal Beriwala (1889-1971) has drawn heavily on the works of the Gaudiyas, and I believe that this is much a result of the ishtagoshtis which took place in Dauji Bagicha in the early and middle years of the last century. The society of scholars and bhajananandis who surrounded Ramakrishna Pandit Baba came from all the Vrindavan rasika sampradayas, one of the most significant of whom was Priya Sharan Baba. This resulted in debate and a new sharing of ideas, as well as friendship between the different schools.

Another big influence on Ratanlal's commentary is the exceptional Nimbarki devotee-scholar Bhagirath Jha Mahodaya, whose many Sanskrit works on Nimbarka siddhānta include Yugala-rasa-tattva-samīkṣā. Jha had wide knowledge of the works of the Gaudiya school and though he debated many of the ideas, particularly those related to Parakīyā-svakīyā and the nitya-vihāra, he made tremendous contributions to the storehouse of understanding.

Of course, differences between the different Vaishnava schools, but we should remember that wherever such debates exist, it implies the necessity for a deeper level of understanding.


What is meant by surata-sukha? The word surata according to the dictionary means “(sporting , playful) amorous or sexual pleasure or intercourse , coition.” It is mentioned by Vātsyāyana in the Kāma-sūtra in connection with a number of other synonyms: samprayoga, rata, rahaḥ-śāyanaṁ, mohanaṁ (samprayogo rataṁ rahaḥ-śāyanaṁ mohanaṁ surata-paryāyāḥ, KS 2.1.32) .

Sukham or happiness is similarly defined according to synonyms by Jiva Goswami in Priti-sandarbha (61). mut-pramoda-harṣānandādi-paryāyayaḥ sukham ucyate. In the same place he also gives a more standard definition: ullāsātmako jñāna-viśeṣaḥ sukhaṁ, “Happiness is a particular state of consciousness characterized by gaiety, ebullience, jubilation, exuberance, exhilaration, exultation, or exaltation (ullāsa).

So the term surata-sukham can simply be reduced to “the exhilarating joy that the Divine Couple feels in their erotic love play.”

The author of Mahāvāṇī states the following at the end of this chapter:
nema prema teṁ pare jo ati durlabha adhikāra
rījhi deta jihiṁ yugala jū sumarita surata vihāra ||1||
dohā—
śrī śyāmā śrī śyāma ko yaha sukha surata vihāra |
basahu sadā hiya sadana meṁ sakala sāra ko sāra ||2||
kuṇḍaliyā—

mahā mṛdula mahā madhura madhu mahā rahasi rasa rāsi |
mahā sukhada sarvesa ko mahā manubhava bhāsi ||3||

Whatever qualified individual dwells on the poems on Priya-Pritam’s delight in erotic love dalliance in this chapter receives their blessings, for they bestow upon him the taste for desire (kāma), which is beyond both sadhana or vidhi bhakti, as well as beyond prema bhakti.

Doha: May Shyama-Shyam’s delight in erotic dalliances, the essence of all essences, always reside in the abode of my heart.

Kundaliya: So soft, so sweet and relishable, that secret ocean of delight which brings the highest happiness to the Lord of All, which is the explanation of the great manifestation of the God of Love. (Surata-sukha, 100-101)

Nearly all Vaishnava sampradayas accept the idea that prema is the fifth aim of life or puruṣārtha, greater than dharma, artha, kama or moksha, and they all make this their sadhya, or goal of spiritual practices. The author of Mahāvāṇī uses the word nema, prema or prema-lakṣaṇā bhakti to designate the goal of sādhana-bhakti, and yet he says that there is something within prema-bhakti that is an even higher goal to achieve.

This too has been repeated in several places in the Mahāvāṇī,e.g. :
nigama nigama āgama agama lahi na sakeṁ guna grantha
and
nigama ko nigama aru agama āgama kau
nāhi samarattha guna ganana meṁ grantha

Books are unable to seize [Radha and Krishna’s] qualities [in the Nitya Vihara]. The Veda cannot go there, they cannot be found in the Agamas. … Books are unable to count the qualities, as stated by the Shrutis themselves: yac chrutayas tvayi hi phalanty atan-nirasanena bhavan-nidhanāḥ (BhP 10.87.41).
[Obviously, a proper understanding of the three terms niyama bhakti, prema-bhakti and parā bhakti are needed. Ratanlal Beriwala has given extensive explanations in other parts of the text, based on primarily Gaudiya sources like Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and Bhakti-sandarbha. For parā bhakti, he points especially to the vikrīḍitaṁ verse which ends the Rasa Panchadhyaya.
nema prema teṁ para balyau parama parā kau pantha
rahi gayo māraga ure nema aura prema ko
para calyo parā kau parama para pantha

So if this supreme truth is not attainable through the Vedas, Puranas and other shastras, then how can it be attained? In order to counter this doubt, the author writes: I say that beyond nema (niyama) and prema lies (parā bhakti) the path to the highest truth. There is the path which lies beyond those of nema and prema. I walk on the topmost path to the Supreme, that of parā bhakti. (Siddhānta-sukha 11)
Another quote, also from Siddhānta-sukha:
nema prema teṁ pare pantha jahāṁ,
turata pahuṁci hai ali akalesa

There where lies the path of parā bhakti, beyond both nema and prema, there the sakhi arrives quickly without any afflictions. (Siddhānta-sukha 13)
Now, to specify exactly what he means by a state of love that is beyond nema and prema, Harivyasa Devacharyaji says, “May this happiness of Shri Shri Shyāmā Shyāma’s erotic dalliances, the essence of all essences, remain fixed forever in my heart.”

Having stated that Radha and Krishna’s erotic dalliances are the essence of all essences, Harivyasaji goes on to say, " So soft, so sweet and relishable, that secret ocean of delight which brings the highest happiness to the Lord of All, which is the explanation of the great manifestation of the God of Love."

[The word bhāsi is explained here as meaning bhāṣya, an exposition or explanatory work. Those who are rasikas or connoisseurs of the rasas, says that of all the rasas, dāsya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhura, the madhura rasa is the topmost. The author of Mahāvāṇī here says that the ultimate state of the madhura-rasa, which is described here as "so soft, so sweet and relishable, a secret ocean of delight," gives the Divine Couple, the best of the rasikas the greatest pleasure, mahā-sukha, is this erotic dalliance, known as kāma-keli or surata-sukha. This is the highest stage of prema. It is also called by the various synonyms sambhoga, kāma-keli, maithuna, saṁyoga, samprayoga, rati-bandha, kāma-krīḍā, etc.

The Bhagavata says sākṣāt manmatha-manmatha, Krishna is Madan Mohan, the one who bewilders the mind of even Cupid. That mahā manobhava or Supreme Cupid is being exposed here in these intimate pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Just understanding the concept of madana-mohana is the essence of understanding the Rāsa Lilā and all these most intimate pastimes of Radha and Krishna. As Shridhar Swami says at the beginning of the Rāsa.
brahmādi-jaya-saṁrūḍha-darpa-kandarpa-darpahā |
jayati śrī-patir gopī-rāsa-maṇḍala-maṇḍanaḥ ||b||

Krishna destroyed the pride of Cupid, which had become so acute after conquering over the gods like Brahma. May the Lord of Shri, ornamenting the Rāsa circle with the gopis, be ever glorious.
The essence of all essences means that prema, the fifth goal of life is the essence of all the other purusharthas, namely dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa. But divya-kāma is the essence of that essence. The essence of all spiritual practices and goals.

The name sarveśa or sarveśvara is typically used to designate Radha's lover in the Nimbarka sampradaya. The explanation is sarveṣāṁ rasānām īśaḥ sarveśaḥ, the same idea as the Gaudiya akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti]

Now someone may ask, "Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajoguṇa-samudbhavaḥ, kāma is a product of the material rajo-guṇa. So how can that be the highest of the highest stages of spiritual perfection?"

In fact, the above terms, sākṣāt manmatha-manmatha and mahā manobhava bhāsa both indicate that we are talking about something that is beyond even the Advaita doctrine's tūrīya state (the fourth state of consciousness which is completely transcendental).

In the Prīti-sandarbha, Shrila Jiva Goswami quotes from the Brihad Gautamiya Tantra a series of verses, the essence of [which is here conflated to]:
pūrṇāhantā-mayī bhaktis turyātītā nigadyate

Bhakti is the full manifestation of the sense of self and is said to be beyond even the fourth stage of consciousness.
Mahāvāṇī also says, jai namo pragalabha bhaktidā, jai namo tūrya viraktadā: "The rasika Divine Couple give the most mature form of bhakti, which makes one indifferent to even transcendental consciousness." (Sevā-sukha, 38.60) So how can the kāma of the Divine Couple possibly be a product of the material rajo-guṇa?

Moreover, Rupa Goswamipada writes in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi
vyatītya turyām api saṁśritānāṁ
tāṁ pañcamīṁ prema-mayīm avasthām |
na sambhavaty eva hari-priyāṇāṁ
svapno rajo-vṛtti-vijṛmbhito yaḥ ||

Krishna's divine mistresses are situated in prema, the fifth state beyond even the fourth state of transcendental consciousness (which is beyond waking, dream and deep sleep). Then how could the dream visions that they have of Krishna possibly be the products of the material mode of passion? (Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi 15.219)
But, one may ask, how can you say that this surata-sukha or kāma-keli is higher than prema?

In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Rupa Goswamipada describes the symptoms of prema, which are the anubhāvas or sāttvika bhavas.
te stambha-sveda-romāñcāḥ svara-bhedo’tha vepathuḥ |
vaivarṇyam aśru pralaya ity aṣṭau sāttvikāḥ smṛtāḥ ||

The eight sāttvikas are transfixation, transpiration, horripilation, breaking of the voice, trembling, losing color, tears, and fainting. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.3.16)
Now the anubhāvas or symptoms of kāma are given in the Kāma-sūtra by Vātsyāyana:
āliṅgana-cumbana-nakha-cchedya-daśana-cchedya-saṁveśana-sītkṛta-puruṣāyita-aupariṣṭakānām aṣṭānām aṣṭadhā vikalpa-bhedād aṣṭāv aṣṭakāś catuḥṣaṣṭir iti bābhravīyāḥ//
The eight features of lovemaking are embracing, kissing, scratching, biting, penetration, moaning, changing roles, and reversing positions. These can be multiplied by combination to 64. (2.2.4)
So since the anubhāvas are of a completely different nature, we can separate the two and see why the author of Mahāvāṇī has placed the kāma-keli on a higher platform. The symptoms of prema, the sāttvikas , can create a disturbance in the experience of kāma-keli, for if tears, trembling or becoming transfixed should take place, then the full relishing of union cannot take place. Therefore the symptoms ascribed to kāma are more pleasing to the Rasika Couple.

The second difference is that in prema, there is mental union of the lovers. In the happiness of erotic union, surata-sukha, there is a union of bodies. Therefore Ramananda Ray says,
nā so ramaṇa, nā hāma ramaṇī
duṅhu mana manobhava peṣala jāni
He is no longer the lover, nor I the beloved. It is as though Eros had merged our minds [and bodies]. (CC 2.8.194)

That has been rendered in Sanskrit by Pt. Bhagiratha Jha.
sakhi na sa ramaṇo nāhaṁ ramaṇīti bhidāvayor āste |
prema-rasenobhaya-mana iva madano niṣpipeṣa balāt ||

Oh friend, there is no more distinction between us: he is not the lover, nor I the beloved. Through the juices of prema, it is as though Cupid has forcefully ground both our minds together. (Yugma-tattva-samīkṣā 154)
In other words, in erotic love, one body merges with the other, such that the lovers feel themselves to have become one entity. This state is called prema-vilāsa-vivarta. For this reason, surata-sukha is called the ultimate happiness. The Radhavallabhi poet Dhruva Das says,
rasa ko avadhi jahāṁ loṁ māī |
vivi tana mila ekahiṁ ho jāī ||

The rasika couple comes together in all respects in surata-keli, and so for this reason it is called the ultimate experience of rasa.
At the end of the section called utsāha-sukha, Harivyasaji said,
niścai ura dharilehu ehu sarvopari hoī
yā teṁ para je kahaiṁ mahā prativāī soī

Be certain that this is the highest state of the rasa. Anyone who says that there is anything beyond this is a great impediment.
Finally, Beriwal cites following important verse from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and its commentary by Sanatan Goswami as highlighted by 108 Dina Sharan Das Babaji Maharaj, who indicated it had particular significance in understanding the use of the word kāma in relation to the lila of the Divine Couple:
jayati jananivāso devakī-janma-vādo
yadu-vara-pariṣat svair dorbhir asyann adharmam
sthira-cara-vrijina-ghnam susmita-śrī-mukhena
vraja-pura-vanitānāṁ vardhayan kāma-devam

May that Krishna who resides in the hearts of all living beings be ever victorious; for though he is their resting place, he becomes incarnate in the womb of Devakī. [This is thus generally accepted as being the truth although it is only an appearance.] That Lord is served by the best of the members of the Yadu dynasty; he removed the influence of the irreligious with the help of the Pāṇḍavas and others who are like his own arms, killing all the demons through them. He removed the sufferings of all the moving and non-moving creatures and, by the glances from his softly smiling, beautiful face, caused the quickening of desire (kāma) in the hearts and minds of the womenfolk of the pastures [of Vraja] and the city [of Dvārakā], who thus desired for romantic intrigues with him.
This verse has been elucidated in Sanātana’s commentary on his Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta (2.7.154). He particularly elaborates at length on the use of the word kāma-devam found in the fourth line.
[This verse makes three apparently self-contradictory statements. The first of these is that] he who resides as the Supersoul in the hearts of all living beings has appeared in the womb of Devakī as her son; for others he remains within, unseen. Though he likewise remains within Devakī also, he externalizes himself and walks and talks with her.

[The next apparent contradiction is that though] the great powerful heroes of the House of Yadu were all fully dedicated servitors of his and were competent to destroy any number of unruly opponents, he himself removed the oppressive irreligious elements by the strength of his own arms.

[The third such statement is that] even though he removes the sins of all creatures, stationary or moving, he still acts as the paramour of the gopīs, increasing their lusty desires (kāma), i.e., their “sin.”

Despite this appearance of contradiction, there is actually none: there is no offence on Krishna’s part because it is the nature of his sweetly smiling beautiful face to set the minds of others aflame. Even so, the gopīs count the glories of his world-enchanting smile, which destroys the effects of material desire (kāma) in the life of family attachments.

This last portion of the verse (vardhayan kāma-devam) can also be taken in this way: “He has become victorious by manifesting in the hearts of the gopīs all those manifold desires that will bring about his own personal pleasure” or “He becomes victorious over material desire (kāma) by increasing the gopis’ celestial love (kāma) for him.”

Lust or material desire (kāma) is said to be the destroyer of all honorable intentions in life, yet for the gopīs this lust is the destroyer of the cycle of material existence (saṁsāra). This is because it is in fact love (prema); it brings Krishna under their control and thus becomes the fruit of devotion as well as liberation. It became newer and fresher at every moment until it reached its transcendental climax. In other words, Śrī Krishna manifested himself in the hearts of the gopīs in an uninterrupted series of ever-new blossoming appearances, enkindling this love-lust of theirs to ever newer and greater heights. This is the way in which he establishes his glories.

Furthermore, because kāma or lust when related to Krishna becomes elevated to the highest and most perfect type of love, the word deva used in the verse in composition with kāma indicates its divine nature. On the other hand, the word deva is derived from the root div which has the meaning “to play,” implying that this kāma is not nocuous like the destructive desire of this material world, but is full of sportive amusements.

Thus the meaning reached here is that the Lord is ever glorious because, by manifesting unlimited amounts of beauty and sweetness, he produces the different erotic sports and dalliances in the gopīs. That devotion which has such amorous amusements as its external form causes the experience of the specific joy that arises from the direct vision of Krishna’s glowing lotus-like face. That joy is the bliss-giving potency (hlādinī śakti) emanating from his personal form, which causes all the other achievements of human life to dwindle into insignificance.

For this reason, this lust-love of the gopīs is the ultimate perfection of all kinds of devotion and should be recognized as the highest wealth of divine love. The vision of Krishna’s glowing lotus face, etc., here implies all the glories of his beauty, sweetness, charm, etc., in short, all of his opulences in their most intense aspect.

The fullness of ānanda



sevā vṛndāvana-stha-/
sthira-cara-nikareṣv astu me hanta ke vā
devā brahmādayaḥ syus /
tata uru-mahitā vallabhā ye vrajendoḥ |
ete hy advaita-sac-cid-/
ghana-vapuṣo dūra-dūrātidūra-
sphūrjan-māhātmya-vṛndā /
bṛhad-upaniṣad-ānandajānanda-kandāḥ ||


May I always render service to the creatures of Vrindavan, moving or still. Ah! What are great gods like Brahma to me? Those dear to the Moon of Braj are far greater in glory than they! All have non-dual bodies of condensed spiritual being and consciousness and their wonders have burst forth to the far, far corners of the universe! They are the roots of the joy born of the joy of the great Upanishads. (Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta 1.61)

The words bṛhad-upaniṣad-ānandajānanda-kandāḥ are probably a reference to Bṛhad-āranyaka Upanishad 3.9.28(7), where Shankara goes into a prolonged discussion of the word ānanda and how it means Brahman. Prabodhananda is here saying that the joy spoken of in the "Brihad Upanishad" is thus Brahman, and the joy born of Brahman realization is rooted in the parikaras of the Divine Couple in Vrindavan. And all parikaras have their original in Radha.

QUESTION: Do you interpret the ānanda in Upanishads to reflect the bliss of Divine Couple? Is this because we always try to interpret all verses of anything we read in terms of what we believe in, though there is no way to know which one is true?

I found this discussion online with Patrick Olivelle where he discusses his views on these topics. The portion after 20 minutes (continuing into part 2) was particularly interesting to me. He denies that the Upanishads have one single philosophy as Balaji said, and he denies that Shankara's advaita can be derived just from the Upanishads or that the Upanishads can be called as being advaitic. Let me know what you think of it. Obviously to interpret any verse as Gaudiya also will be problematic.

I like Radhakrishnan's statement that just as all of Western philosophy can be called footnotes to Plato, all of Indian philosophy can be called footnotes to the Upanishads.

The Upanishads are ecstatic revealed utterances, first glimpses of revelation that have a "numinous" quality. This gave them the authority of Veda. Of course there is no consistency in the Upanishads which come from a variety of times and places over a period of several hundred years. There are really only the seeds of a consistent philosophy.

Later writers, especially like Badarayana in the Vedanta Sutra, tried to find patterns of consistency and applied a certain vision to the interpretation of those revelations. Clearly, not everyone thought the same way subsequently.

But certain themes have been persistent throughout. Atma, Brahman, sac-cid-ānanda, etc. It is the delving into the potential that these words have that the different schools and practices of Hinduism have developed.

So, when a statement like raso vai saḥ, yam hy evāyam labdhvānandi bhavati is taken seriously and meditated upon (srotavyaḥ, mantavyaḥ, nididhyāsitavyaḥ), then its potential is realized gradually, over time.

So, yes, of course, I believe that Radha and Krishna represent the fullness of ananda. Radhe Radhe!