Rupa Goswami defines bhāva, part I

We now examine the definition of bhāva by Sri Rupa Goswami. As a reminder, bhāva is the sādhya or goal of sādhanā bhakti. Sri Rupa Goswami defines bhāva as follows:

śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā prema-sūryāṁśu-sāmya-bhāk |

rucibhiś citta-māsṛṇya-kṛd asau bhāva ucyate ||

Before we translate this definition, lets examine Sri Jiva Goswami’s commentary on it1. Sri Jiva, in the first chapter of BRS, had described two types of bhakti (पूर्वं तावद् भक्ति-सामान्य लक्षण चेष्टा-रुपा भाव रूपा चेति द्विधा भक्तिर् दर्शिता।):

1)ceṣṭā-rūpā bhakti (conscious effort or action)

2) bhāva-rūpā bhakti (feeling or emotion)

In the first chapter, the words meant sādhana and bhāva bhakti — one may engage in action but have no feeling or one may have feeling but engage in no action respectively.

Now Sri Jiva divides ceṣṭā-rūpa bhakti in another way- he classifies it into sādhana-rūpā and kārya-rūpā (भाव-भक्तेः साधना-रूपा कार्य-रूपा च।).  sādhana-rūpā would be the normal meaning and this was discussed in the first two chapters of BRS. Kārya-rūpā indicates the actions after one has attained bhāva. Such actions are discussed later in BRS in chapters on rasa (उत्तरा रस-प्रसंगे दर्शयिश्यते।).

Next, Sri Jiva divides bhāva-rūpā bhakti into two further sub-types (अत्र भाव-रूपा च द्विविधा- रसावस्थायाम् स्थायि-नाम्नि, सञ्चारि-रूपा च।):

1) sthāyi-rūpā

2) sañcāri-rūpā

Of these, sañcāri-rūpā is discussed in later chapters. Sri Jiva further divides sthāyi-rūpā bhakti into two types:

1) bhāva, also called rati (रति-अपर-पर्याय), which is the sprout of sthāyi-bhāva (स्थायि-भाव-अंकुर-रूपम्), that is, of prema itself (प्रेम अंकुर रूपा), and

2) when this same bhāva, takes on different states like prema. Here the word prema includes praṇaya, māna and so on (क्रोडिकृतप्रणयादि प्रेम नाम्नि).

According to Sri Jiva, the definition written above is of this bhāva. Note that this bhāva excludes actions- it refers only to the devotee’s mood. To recap,

bhāva is a sub-type of sthāyi-rūpā bhakti, which is itself a sub-type of bhāva-rūpā bhakti. This bhāva is also called rati, and is defined above.

The word ‘sthāyi’ means permanent. Once achieved, bhāva is permanent, and therefore it is a sub-type of sthāyi-rūpā bhakti. This rati or bhāva becomes prema, which will happen upon death. The material body is not built to handle the emotions generated at the level of prema.

The words sthāyi-rūpā bhakti also mean that once it is achieved, it is not lost. Those who argue that the bhaktas reject Kṛṣṇa and ‘fall’ from Goloka have not understood or studied Sri Rupa’s definition. This mood is permanent by definition. One cannot hope to be successful in bhakti harboring pratikula concepts.

Now Jiva Goswami comments on the different parts of the definition. Before we dive into that, let us examine the structure of the definition.

asau bhāva ucyate : that is called bhāva, [which has the following attributes], [It is]:

1) śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā

2) prema-sūryāṁśu-sāmya-bhāk |

3) rucibhiś citta-māsṛṇya-kṛd

These terms are qualifiers for the word bhāva. When Sri Rupa use the word bhāva,  he means all of the above by it. A crucial part of this definition, and a much misunderstood part, is śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā. This misunderstanding is because of the word śuddha-sattva. Sri Jiva Goswami’s explanation of these terms (and also Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’s comments) are invaluable because they clear the confusion. We will examine the problems of interpretation of this term in the next article, but suffice it to say that these two words distinguish the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu’s Bhakti rasa from Bharat muni’s laukika rasa (material rasa) and from all other books on kāvya, like Mammata-bhata’s kāvya-prakaśa. This point is not clearly grasped even by other writers in the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition like Kavi Karṇapura who follows Mammata-bhatta’s Kāvya-prakaśa in the Alankara Kaustubha. Sri Visvanatha observes this in his commentary on Alankara Kaustubha.

This is why Rupa Goswami is the founder of Caitanya Vaisnavism. Not even his own contemporaries like Kavi Karṇapura who were devotees of Sri Caitanya correctly understood Sri Caitanya’s heart. It is Rupa Goswami who understood and established what Sri Caitanya wished to teach (श्री चैतन्य मनोभिष्टम् स्थापितम् येन भूतले). Sri Jiva understood Sri Rupa’s heart, and therefore was able to firmly establish the theology in his Sandarbhas.

We will examine the terms in the definition in the next two articles.

  1. भक्ति रसामृत सिंधु lectures, Bhakti Tirtha II, Shri Satyanarayana dasa Babaji, Jiva Institute, Vrindavan. 2017. 


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