Category: Featured

The rāsa līlā is to be understood in its व्यंजना (vyañjanā) meaning. Part 2

An example where the primary meaning of scripture can be misleading is Kṛṣṇa’s rāsa līlā described in the Bhāgavatam. Here, there are references to intimate interactions between Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs, which appear sexual in nature in their primary meaning, no different from an ordinary book of romance. And yet, at the end […]

The qualification for vaidhī sādhanā bhakti

In kārikā 1.2.9, Rupa Goswami writes that vaidhī bhakti is the duty of everyone in varṇāśrama : इति असौ स्याद् विधिर् नित्यौ सर्व-वर्णाश्रमादिषु| नित्यत्वेSपि अस्य निर्णितम् एकादश्यादिवत् फलम्|| This vidhi (vaidhī bhakti) is a compulsory or regular activity (nitya) for all varṇas and āśramas. Even though it is nitya, […]

Is the sādhya, bhāva or prema?

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 […]

bhāva: dormant or absent?

There are two opposing views on where bhāva, the sādhya of sādhanā bhakti1, exists before it manifests in the heart (heart refers to the unconscious mind). One view is that bhāva is dormant in the heart, that is, it has been eternally present. This is the view in some modern […]

The definition of साधना भक्ति (sādhanā bhakti) Part II

The second line of the definition of साधना भक्ति given by Rupa Goswami is as follows: नित्य सिद्धस्य भावस्य प्राकट्यम् हृदि साध्यता| nitya siddhasya bhāvasya prākaṭyam hṛdi sādhyatā sādhyatā means the manifestation of the nitya siddha bhāva in the heart. We will unpack each of the words here and also […]

The definition of साधना भक्ति (sādhanā bhakti) Part I

There is a method to Rupa Goswami’s presentation in the भक्तिरसामृत सिंधु which is borrowed from न्याय. It has three elements to it: उद्देश्य, लक्षण and परीक्षा. उद्देश्य means listing items, लक्षण means defining the items, and परीक्षा is testing the definition- that is explaining it in detail1. In the भक्तिरसामृत सिंधु १.२.१, […]

Other equivalent definitions of उत्तमा भक्ति (uttamā bhakti)

Rupa Goswami goes on to point out in his master piece भक्ति रसामृत सिंधु (Bhakti rasāmṛta sindhu) that उत्तमा भक्ति (uttamā bhakti) is also defined equivalently in other places in the scriptures. For example, there is the famous verse from नारद पंचरात्र: सर्वोपाधि विनिर्मुक्तम् तत्परत्वेन निर्मलम् हृषीकेन हृषिकेश […]

Rupa Goswami defines उत्तमा भक्ति (uttamā bhakti), Part III

Continuing our discussion of the तटस्थ लक्षणम् (taṭastha lakṣaṇam) from a previous post, we now explore the words ज्ञान कर्माद्यनावृतम् (jñāna karmādy anāvṛtam) in this article. The word anāvṛtam means ‘not covered’, that is, uttamā bhakti is uncovered by jñāna and karma. Because the words jñāna and karma are in common usage these […]