Rupa Goswami in his भक्तिरसामृत सिंधु has presented three divisions of उत्तमा भक्ति (uttamā bhakti): sādhanā, bhāva and prema.
sādhya and sādhana are only two. Jiva Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur have given two different explanations for why Rupa Goswami makes three divisions. Their explanations offer deeper insight into bhāva and prema1.
Jiva Goswami is of the view that bhāva has five parts to it: bhāva, prema, praṇaya, māna, and sneha. And if we consider the उज्ज्वल-निलमणि, then there are three more parts: anurāga, bhāva and mahābhāva. According to Jiva Goswami, Rupa Goswami intends these parts also when he uses the words ‘bhāva and prema’ (they are उपलक्षण). Therefore, Jiva Goswami suggests that there are only two divisions: sādhana and sādhya. This makes sense from a practical point of view, because one who has bhāva will naturally get prema.
Jiva Goswami’s logic is that where sādhanā ends, the sādhya begins.
And Rupa Goswami clearly considers bhāva to be the sādhya (see the definition of sādhanā). Further, Rupa Goswami himself adds that he does not wish to describe other divisions (praṇaya and so on) in the context of sādhanā because they are not relevant to sādhakas (ch. f. 1.4.19).
Visvanatha Cakravarti examines Jiva Goswami’s commentary and disagrees with him with the words इति चेत न!
First he observes that Rupa Goswami uses the word ‘three’ (त्रिधा) to describe the divisions of bhakti. Second, he quotes what Rupa Goswami says about those who have attained bhāva in 2.1.276: उत्पन्न रतयः सम्यक् नैर्विघ्न्यम् अनुपागताः कृष्णसाक्षात्कृतौ योग्याः साधकाः परिकीर्तिताः|
those with bhāva are still called sādhakas (i.e. those who do sādhanā).
And this, even though the person is qualified to see Kṛṣṇa directly as stated in the comment: कृष्णसाक्षात्कृतौ योग्याः!
Visvanatha Cakravarti quotes Rupa Goswami’s definition of a siddha (2.1.280; siddha means one who has attained the sādhya) as someone who does not experience any suffering ever and whose every activity is meant only for Krsna’s pleasure (अविज्ञाताखिल-क्लेषाः सदा कृष्णाश्रित-क्रियाः सिद्धाः स्युः).
Further, the words नैर्विघ्न्यम् अनुपागताः indicate that there can be an obstacle to bhakti even after receiving bhāva. According to Visvanatha, the obstacle is the possibility of some great offense (महत्-अपराध). He emphasizes that at the stage of prema, the possibility of any such offense does not exist. Therefore it is necessary to distinguish between bhāva and prema.
bhāva cannot be included into sādhya because the possibility of suffering in the form of aparādha exists. At the same time, bhāva cannot be included in sādhanā, because Rupa Goswami defines bhāva as the sādhya of sādhanā!
According to Visvanatha Cakravarti, this is why Rupa Goswami has put bhāva in its own category – it is neither sādhya nor sādhanā, but an intermediate stage.
We note here that the possibility of offense is only theoretical, and exists because of residing in the material body with its past samskāras. Therefore, both Jiva Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti are correct from their own angle of vision.
For practical purposes, bhāva is the sādhya [as Jiva Goswami suggests], because the possibility of offense at this stage is only theoretical.
- भक्ति रसामृत सिंधु lectures, Bhakti Tirtha II, Shri Satyanarayana dasa Babaji, Jiva Institute, Vrindavan. 2017. ↩