Śrī Rūpa Goswami defines bhāva, part II

We now take up the qualifiers in the definition of bhāva. The svarūpa lakṣaṇam of bhāva is:

śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā [asau bhāva ucyate]

Śrī Jīva Goswami explains that śuddha-sattva-viśeṣa = śuddha-sattva + śuddha-sattva-viśeṣa.

The word śuddha-sattva refers to a state (vṛtti) of Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti called samvit. This samvit is self-luminous (sva-prakāśikā). It is not some special state of māyā (na tu māyā-vṛtti-viśeṣa).

Commentators like Madhusudana Sarasvati equate śuddha-sattva with sattva-udreka; Madhusudana Sarasvati does this in his famous book Bhagavad-bhakti-rasāyana. The word udreka means excess. sattva-udreka means excess of sattva. What Madhusudana Sarasvati means by sattva-udreka is a predominance of prakṛti’s sattva guṇa; predominance because sattva is never pure, being always present with rajas and tamas. Under predominance of material sattva, the heart (citta) melts like wax and takes shape (vṛtti) of the person one is in love with. That is, one’s heart is soft toward that person and wishes to please him or her. This is material love, a product of material nature.

But this meaning is not what Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Jīva have in mind. The śuddha-sattva here is not a quality of the heart or citta.  It is not a state of mind when sattva is predominant, because such a state is a māyā-vṛtti. For Śrī Rūpa Goswami, śuddha-sattva is a vṛtti of Bhagavān’s very own svarūpa śakti. This śakti is self-luminous unlike the states of the mind which require the infusion of the ātmā’s consciousness to function, and are therefore not self-revealing. Because this bhāva is Bhagavān’s own svarūpa śakti, it can never become dormant. It is independently self-luminous and it is eternally that way.

If one is skeptical about these concepts, Śrī Jīva Goswami suggests reading Bhagavat Sandarbha and Vaisṇava tosaṇi where they are discussed in more depth.

In the Alankāra Kaustubha, Kavi Karṇapura accepts that śuddha-sattva means an absence of rajas and tamas (rajas tamobhyām hinasya) and in this way he rejects its meaning as ‘an excess of material sattva’. But following Mammata-bhatta’s Kāvya-prakaśa, he considers it a state of the heart (citta). Visvanatha Cakravarti disagrees, and clarifies that sthāyi bhāva is cid-rupam; it is transcendental.

Now we turn to śuddha-sattva-viśeṣa. Śrī Jīva Goswami cites a famous verse from the Visṇu purāṇa:

hlādinī sandhinī samvit tvayy ekā sarva-saṁśraye

hlāda-tāpa-karī miśrā tvayi no guṇa-varjite

The energy of bliss (hlādinī), the energy of being (sandhinī), and the energy of awareness (samvit) exist without any deviation only in You, the support of everything. You are completely free from the material guṇas and thus the energies that give rise to material happiness, distress, and a mixture of both, are non-existent in You.

Śrī Jīva Goswami explains that the word viśeṣa refers to the essence of hlādinī which exists in hladini energy (tadiya sāra vṛtti samveta). The essence of hlādinī śakti is the very special (viśeṣa) part of śuddha-sattva.


śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā = samvit + essence of hlādinī śakti

Therefore bhakti has two potencies: it gives pleasure to Kṛṣṇa and to the devotees (hlādinī śakti) and it gives knowledge to Kṛṣṇa and his devotees (samvit).

When one has bhāva bhakti, one is naturally in this state of happiness and one is situated in knowledge of oneself and of Kṛṣṇa. Conversely, one who does not have bhāva is in ignorance and suffering.

Śrī Jīva Goswami adds, that being Kṛṣṇa’s internal energy, this bhāva is situated only in Kṛṣṇa’s eternal, dear associates (nitya priya jana), and its nature is that it is nitya siddha- eternally existing. It is not manufactured, but it is existing in the heart of His dear devotees.

Śrī Jīva Goswami further adds, that when this sthāyi bhāva comes to a particular devotee in the material world, it appropriates the citta of that devotee (ātma-sātkṛtya), that is, it becomes one with the citta (tādātmyāpanna). It is as if the devotee’s body becomes possessed by this energy. Such a heart loses the ability to think of material pleasures, and it is naturally inclined toward Kṛṣṇa (ānukulya lakṣaṇā), and no effort is needed. Therefore sādhanā bhakti, conscious effort, comes to an end. This sthāyi bhāva is the goal of sādhanā bhakti.

In the next article, we will look at the remaining qualifiers of bhāva.

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