In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.107) it is said:Kṛṣṇa-prema is an eternally perfected reality; it does not come about by any sādhana. It automatically appears in the heart of a purified devotee by the execution of the various limbs of devotion such as hearing and chanting and so on.
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, (Pūrva-vibhāga 2.2) it states:
kṛti-sādhyā bhavet sādhya-bhāvā sā sādhanābhidhā
nitya-siddhasya bhāvasya prākaṭyaṁ hṛdi sādhyatā
Sādhana-bhakti is the practice by the senses of śuddha-bhakti by which bhāva is attained. The final goal, or sādhya-bhāva, is eternally present in the heart and is therefore nitya-siddha. In other words, it is an eternal reality, but sādhana is that means by which it can be manifested from within the heart.
Therefore it is inconsistent to think that the svarūpa of the jīva manifests according to the type of sādhu-saṅga one has. One cannot achieve svarūpa-siddhi by speculative meditation. Real progression and perfection of the soul cannot be attained by these duplicitous methods. Growth of the soul will only take place in the association of rāgatmikā-vrajavāsīs. Sādhana-bhakti, śravaṇa and kīrtana in their association is called rāga-sādhana and only by this sādhana will the svarūpa of the sādhaka be manifest. Vaidhi-sādhana-bhakti performed outside the association of Vrajavāsīs will not touch the soul.
Here it is said, ‘nitya-siddha-prema’ meaning that this relation of love to Śrī Kṛṣṇa within the jīva’s heart is eternal and fixed, it is and was always present and it cannot change at any time. During the stage of bondage and sādhana it is not manifest, but once a sādhaka is under the shelter of and following rāgātmikā bhaktas, then from their hearts that flow of anurāgamayi–sevā will touch the soul of the sādhaka. Then through the sweet relation with that bhakta, one’s own siddha-svarūpa and siddha-bhāvamayi–sevā will quickly manifest.
The svarūpa of the jīva will not change. When perfection is achieved that eternal form will be revealed. When the sun rises all darkness disappears and everything can clearly be seen. Other forms of light can never be compared to the light of the sun. If one uses a blue or red light to see in the darkness then everything he sees will seem to be blue or red. But this is an illusion; it is caused by a temporary artificial light. Once the sun arises the true color and nature of this world will automatically be seen. A sādhaka attaining svarūpa-siddhi is like the rising of the sun—prema suryaṁsu samyabhak. At that time everything, including the spiritual form and identity of the soul can be witnessed clearly. Yet before the sun of svarūpa-siddhi arises in the heart of the sādhaka, he may, according to his association, develop many attractions and identify himself with these attachments. But these attachments and identities are temporary and stem from mundane conditioning. They are not the true identity of the soul, for that is fixed and can never change. This is seen in the life of Gopa Kumāra. He went to so many places and took shelter of many different personalities, being attracted and impressed by all of them. But these attractions were eventually transcended when he finally attained his eternal identity as a sakhā of Kṛṣṇa. At that time he became fully and eternally satisfied.
Before svarūpa-siddhi all identities are temporary and incomplete. According to karma of the jīva, he is born into one of the eighty-four lakhs species of life. Life after life he thus continues to change his body and be thrown about in this cycle of birth and death. These bodies and the identities that accompany them are not eternal. In Bhagavad–gītā (8.6) it is described:
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ
Whatever state of mind one is in when he quits his body he will attain that state in his next birth. This is illustrated in the life of Mahārāja Bharata. He became excessively attached to a baby deer. At the time of death he only thought of that deer. As a result he received the body of a deer in his next life. But this vicāra is only valid in this realm of birth and death. It can never be applicable in the realm of transcendence. In this material world, regardless of which birth one receives in his next life, it is simply a temporary covering over the eternal soul. Therefore this vicāra of Ṭhākura Mahāśaya should not be misunderstood, “bhajana bhāvibe jāhā siddha-deha pāibe tāhā”, one should not parallel this with the statement of Gītā: yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ. One should understand very clearly that the svarūpa of the jīva can never change, it is not created and cannot be given or received. Just as the jīva himself is eternal without beginning or end, in the same way his siddha-svarūpa is also eternal and constitutionally invested within him. The jīvas eternal form is always present, yet due to conditioning it becomes covered. The process of uncovering this identity is called sādhana. Therefore, understand that the svarūpa is revealed, it is not given or changed.
Now what is the process for revealing that svarūpa? Any sādhana that is not in relation to the rāgātmikā–anurāgi–jana does not have the power to reveal the svarūpa of the jīva. The purity of one’s sādhana can be determined based on what fruits are produced by that sādhana. Real sādhana will result in all favorable results. If real sādhana is performed then all bhāvas will manifest. Vibhāva, anubhāva, vyabhicārī, and sattvika-bhāva will all combine and then bhakti-rasa will be tasted. Once even one drop of this rasa is tasted, the sādhaka can never be attracted anywhere else. This is svarūpa-siddhi. It will come in this process automatically and spontaneously. There is no need to imagine anything about one’s eternal form. It is above anything material. Mental concoctions cannot touch that svarūpa.
The svarūpa is only attained by sādhana which is full of prārthanā. It is only revealed by anugatya. Dāsa Gosvāmī has shown the proper prārthanā in his Vilāpa-kusumāñjali (16) to receive an eternal position in Vraja:
pādābjayos tava vinā vara dāsyam eva
nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devī yāce
sākhyāya te mama namo ‘stu namo ‘stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso ‘stu raso ‘stu satyam
O Rādhikā! I never want anything but the best loving service unto Your lotus feet. If You want to grant me the position of your sakhī, like Lalitā and Viśākhā etc. then I offer my obeisance again and again to that position from a distance. I do not actually want that position but rather I want the humble position of becoming Your palya-dasī. I am begging only to have steady loving attachment in Your service.
Hearing this then Śrīmatī Rādhikā will situate me in that position for which I am praying. She grants this sevā adhikāra. So this siddha-deha is revealed by the process of anugatya, not by the process of imagination. Therefore the sādhaka’s sole focus is to pray for absorption in this sevā and to come under the anugatya of rāgātmikā Vrajavāsīs and to serve them. This is sādhana. When we get qualification for that sevā we are jīvana–mukta. The power of this yearning and guidance will give rise to realization of one’s svarūpa, and at this time svarūpa–anubandhi prema will come. This cannot be fully expressed through words or given as an instructional process. This is natural self-manifesting svarūpa–anubhandi prema.
It has thus been established that the svarūpa of the jīva is eternally inherent and unchangeable. It should be clearly understood then what Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is saying here. Sādhana bhāvibe jāhā siddha dehe pāibe tāhā rāga pathera ei se upāya. Here he is telling the process for those on the path of rāga–bhakti. For the rāga–bhakta, meaning that sādhaka who has attained this stage of spontaneous love, it is recommended that he meditate on his spiritual form. But this form is real, it has been gradually and naturally revealed through Guru-pāda-padma and by the strength of rāga–sādhana. Actually the activities of those who have this rāga cannot be called sādhana. The acts they perform are spontaneous and stem from natural love within their hearts. It is not practice; it is never done by force or according to rules and regulations.
This love cannot be taught. No one teaches a wife how to love her husband. This relationship is evolved naturally. If a wife were to say to her husband, “I do not know how to love you; better that I go to other men, I can learn and experience love with them then I can come back and love you properly.” This means she has no love at all for her husband and on the contrary she is quite unchaste. Similarly the siddha-deha or eternal form of the jīva is revealed automatically when one reaches this stage. There is no question of imagination in that stage.
Everything is natural and factual and attained at the appropriate time when the sādhaka matures. For example, no one teaches a mother how to show affection to her son. No one can teach a mother cow how to fill her udders with milk. This is a spontaneous phenomenon. Milk and affection will come naturally when a baby calf is present. No one can stop this or change it, nor will milk come before this time. In the same way the siddha-svarūpa will be revealed naturally when one comes to the platform of rāga–bhakti and not before. Anything before this will only be imagination and completely artificial.
When boys and girls are very young they can mix and play together freely with no sense of lust or attraction. But when they come of age then naturally there will be attraction. Lust will develop and this innocent mood will not be possible. So in the stage of sādhana-bhakti before one attains bhāva–daśā, there is no genuine connection to siddha-svarūpa. No understanding or mood has developed of that transcendental world.
Here Ṭhākura Mahāśaya is saying “sādhana bhāviba jāhā”, at the time of sādhana one can meditate on their eternal form. This is referring to rāga–sādhana: “rāga pathera ei se upāya.” This is not speaking of ordinary sādhana. There are two types of sādhana, the path of vaidhī–sādhana and the path of rāga. Those who are practicing vaidhī–sādhana are bound by the rules and regulations prescribed in śāstra. They have no taste or strong relation therefore they must adhere to set rules and boundaries so they may stay in line. How can this sādhaka have any idea of his siddha-deha? He is not eligible. He cannot receive siddha-praṇālī at this stage because he has no connection, he does not have the capacity to understand or see. This is like a young boy in a kindergarten class attending and attempting to learn in the class of paṇḍitas. It is only a charade. Nothing will be retained. So meditation on siddha-deha is not recommended for neophyte sādhakas for it is only pretentious. He is only eligible once he enters the path of rāga-mārga. Then his love is spontenous and he is no longer bound by rules of vaidhī-bhakti. It has been described, vidhi-mārga rata jane svādhīnatā ratna-dāne rāga-mārga korāna praveśa. One who is bound and attached to the laws and rules of vaidhī-bhakti, may mercifully be gifted the jewel of spontenous love. That rāga frees him form the restrictions of forced practice and he becomes eligible to meditate on siddha-deha. Rāga-vaśavartī haiyā pārakīya bhāvāśraye labhe jīva kṛṣṇa-premāveśa – that person, overcome by spontaneous attachment to the Lord, takes shelter of the parakīya mood and goes on to become absorbed in love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (2.5.132), Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī has defined the word rasa in the following manner:
hṛdi sattvojjvale bāḍhaṁ
svadate sa raso mataḥ
That which has an extraordinary taste and is experienced only in the heart which is illuminated by śuddha-sattva, or the appearance of the sthāyibhāva, is called rasa.
When consciousness rises above this mundane plane and attains divine nature then one can taste rasa or begin to glimpse siddha-deha. In this stage there is no imagination for one’s consciousness is purified: Hṛdi sattvojjvale bāḍhaṁ. One is connected to śuddha-sattva. What is the source of that connection? It is coming from the hearts of rāgātmikā Vrajavāsīs. At this bhāva–daśā the sādhaka is constantly remembering and meditating on the rāgātmikā–jana. Some are meditating and worshipping Yasoda Mātā, others Śrīdāma and the sakhās and others Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Her associates. Due to the intensity of bhajana and desire of the sādhaka, these rāgātmikā–jana open their heart to the flow of rāga–bhakti. Then they will reveal everything to that sādhaka. By their mercy his form and name and service will be revealed. At this time the sādhaka will constantly meditate on this form and identity that has been revealed to him. This is, “Sādhana–bhāviba jāhā siddha-deha pāibe tāhā.” That sādhaka will then continue to meditate and perform mānasī-sevā with this identity and more and more will be revealed until vastu-siddhi is attained. Then he is no longer a sādhaka, he becomes perfected. This is Ṭhākura Mahāśaya’s description in this verse.
We can understand in a simple way that this genuine type of siddha-deha–smaraṇa will result in attainment of one’s perfected body and that imagination of one’s siddha-deha before one is eligible results only in degradation. They 0have opposite effects. So the authenticity can be determined easily by seeing the fruits of each.
iṣṭe svārasikī rāgaḥ paramāviṣṭatā bhavet
tan-mayī yā bhaved bhaktiḥ sātra rāgātmikoditā
Rāga is the quenchless loving thirst for one’s Iṣṭa-deva, the object of one’s affection, which leads to natural and extreme absorption in that object. Bhakti that is rendered with such rāga is known as rāgātmikā-bhakti.
This is absolutely natural, it cannot ever be attained by our own endeavor in sādhana, what to speak of through our imagination. The only sādhana to attain it is to never be apart from the lotus feet of anurāgi–jana. This is the best and only sādhana. This method is very simple and easy; in all situations remain tadanurāgi–janānugāmi.
Mahāprabhu tried to change the heart of Murāri Gupta, and Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmīs tried to convince their younger brother Anupama to perform kṛṣṇa-bhajana, but they were not successful. Both are considered eternal associates of Rāmacandrajī. So we can see from this that not even the association of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates could change them.
From the example of Mahāprabhu’s pastime meeting with Śrī Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa, Śrī Prabodhānanda, and so forth in Śrī Raṅgam it becomes clear that sādhu-saṅga assists in manifesting the svarūpa of the jīva, but sādhu-saṅga cannot change the svarūpa.
In Śrī Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛtam, we see that Śrī Nārada Muni, Uddhavajī, Hanumānjī and others, could not change the natural sakhya-bhāva of Gopa Kumāra, just as it is also not possible that their own svarūpa can ever be changed. It is not that by association one’s svarūpa is born or changes, but rather when māyā gradually recedes by the mercy of Gurudeva one’s svarūpa begins to manifest and become evident.
If one plants different types of seeds like a mango seed, jackfruit seed, neem seed, and so forth on the bank of the Gaṅgā and although they get the same water, air, and sunlight, they all mature differently and different fruits grow. From this we can understand that each seed has its own inherent nature and will manifest a particular tree and fruit according to its constitution. This is always the case and can be accepted as an eternal law. In the same way, the jīva has its own constitutional name, form, body, and nature. By Gurudeva’s mercy, whatever constitutional form the jīva has begins to manifest itself. A prema-anurāgi-bhakta distributes only prema–rasa, and by this rasa the soul’s svarūpa manifests.
When rain falls during the stellar constellation known as Svāti-nakṣatra, the raindrops produce different substances according to the objects it falls on. Rain drops on an oyster produce a pearl; on a banana tree, camphor; on a serpent, a precious jewel; on an elephant, the elephant pearl; on the hoof of a cow, gorocanā; on a deer, musk, and when they fall on a bamboo tree then vaṁsi–locana is produced. Also when it falls on a young boy’s head he will become a king, and on a girl’s head then she will be like Mahā-lakṣmī. The water is the same but different substances are manifested because of the different receptacles. Similarly, when different jīvas come to the shelter of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, they manifest service moods and varieties of spiritual perfection in different rasas even though they are all influenced by the same association.
We should understand that as long as there are anarthas in the heart, the svarūpa of the living being remains hidden. But when one starts to perform sādhana-bhajana and his unwanted habits begin to disappear, his inherent bhāva becomes evident in the form of some particular ruci. Śrīla Gurudeva, like a desire-tree, makes the siddha-deha appear at that time within the heart of his dear disciple. He helps the disciple realize his siddha-deha by acquainting him with it through the ekādaśa-bhāva. He then also attains the five daśās.
The ekādaśa-bhāvas, eleven moods given by Gurudeva are: (1) sambandha, relationship; (2) vayasa, age; (3) nāma, name; (4) rūpa, own form; (5) yūtha, group; (6) veśa, dress; (7) ājñā, specific order; (8) vāsa, place of residence; (9) sevā, personal service; (10) parākāṣṭhā–śvāsa, the utmost limit of spiritual sentiment, which is one’s very life breath; and (11) pālyadāsī-bhāva, the sentiment of a maidservant of Śrīmatī Rādhikā.339
The five stages, or daśās are: (1) śravaṇa-daśā, the stage of listening; (2) varaṇa-daśā, the stage of accepting and following; (3) smaraṇa-daśā, the stage of remembrance; (4) bhāvāpana-daśā, the stage of spiritual perfection; and (5) prema-sampatti-daśā, the stage where one attains prema.
After the attainment of svarūpa-siddhi, one attains vastu-siddhi, taking birth in Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Bhauma-vṛndāvana. Our Guru-varga reveal how one attains vastu-siddhi by taking birth in Vraja as a gopī.
dekhite dekhite, bhulibo vā kabe, nija-sthūla-paricoya
nayane heribo, vraja-pura-śobhā, nitya cid-ānanda-moya
vṛṣabhānu-pure, janama loibo, yāvaṭe vivāha ha’be
vraja-gopī-bhāva, hoibe svabhāva, āno bhāva nā rohibe
nija-siddha-deho, nija-siddha-nāma, nija-rūpa sva-vasana
rādhā-kṛpā-bale, lobhibo vā kabe, kṛṣṇa-prema-prakaraṇa
yamunā-salila-āharaṇe giyā, bujhibo yugala-rasa
prema-mugdha ho’ye, pāgalinī-prāya, gāibo rādhāra yaśa
When will I forget my gross physical identity and see with my own eyes the incomparable beauty of Vraja, full of everlasting transcendental ecstasy and cognizance? I will take birth in Vṛṣabhānu-pura and will marry a gopa in the village of Yāvaṭa. My eternal nature will be the bhāva of a vraja-gopī. No other mood will remain. On the strength of Rādhā’s mercy, I will receive my perfected spiritual body, my eternal name, and the dress pertaining to my own form. I will also become acquainted with and engage in expressing divine love for Kṛṣṇa. As I go to the Yamunā to collect water, I will understand the hidden mellows of Yugala-Kiśora’s love-play. Being overcome by prema, I will act like a madwoman and sing Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s glories.
Srila Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (excerpted from, “Sri Sri Prema Bhakti Candrika”, available from: [email protected] )