OUTLINE: PRAKRTA AND APRAKRTA RASA

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(A lecture to be delivered by Suhotra Swami at the Jakarta Seminar)

I. Introduction: read, and comment on, the following quotation from KRSNA Book, `Prayers by the Personified Vedas’–

Narayana Rsi informed Narada Muni that the essence of all Vedas and Vedic literatures (namely, the four Vedas, the Upanisads and the Puranas) teaches the rendering of transcendental loving service to the Lord. In this connection Narayana Rsi has used one particular word–rasa. In devotional service this rasa is the via medium or the basic principle for exchanging a relationship between the Lord and the living entity. Rasa is also described in the Vedas. Raso vai sah: “The Supreme Lord is the reservoir of all pleasure.” All the Vedic literatures, including the Puranas, the Vedas, the Upanisads and the Vedanta-sutras, teach the living entities how to attain the stage of rasa. The Bhagavatam also says that the statements in the Maha-purana (Srimad-Bhagavatam) contain the essence of rasas in all Vedic literatures. Nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam. The Bhagavatam is the essence of the ripened fruit of the tree of the Vedic literature.

II. Prakrta and Aprakrta Rasa (or, tri-guna-prakrti rasa and cid-prakrti rasa)

A. Prakrta rasa is the material taste or relationship; Aprakrta rasa is the transcendental taste or relationship.

B. The terms `material’ and `transcendental’ pertain to the presence or absence in rasa of the influence of the tri-gunas of prakrti (the three modes of material nature).

The following verses from Srimad Bhagavatam (3.25.15 and 3.29.10) elaborate.

1. cetah khalv asya bandhaya muktaye catmano matam gunesu saktam bandhaya ratam va pumsi muktaye

TRANSLATION

The stage in which the consciousness of the living entity is attracted by the three modes of material nature is called conditional life. But when that same consciousness is attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one is situated in the consciousness of liberation.

2. laksanam bhakti-yogasya

nirgunasya hy udahrtam ahaituky avyavahita
ya bhaktih purusottame

TRANSLATION

The manifestation of unadulterated devotional service is exhibited when one’s mind is at once attracted to hearing the transcendental name and qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is residing in everyone’s heart. Just as the water of the Ganges flows naturally down towards the ocean, such devotional ecstasy, uninterrupted by any material condition, flows towards the Supreme Lord.

C. Therefore, Prakrta-rasa may be termed Tri-guna-prakrta rasa, and Aprakrta-rasa may be termed Cid-prakrta-rasa.

D. Rasa-tattva Acarya Srila Rupa Gosvami explains pure bhakti as being devoid of the influences of karma, jnana or any other desires that divert one from Aprakrta-rasa.

anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir ucyate

Here, the words anukulyena krsnanusilanam express the pure mood of Aprakrta-rasa.

III. Examples of how karma, jnana, etc. divert the flow of bhakti to tri-guna prakrti.

A. `Dharmic’ karma (in rajas or the mode of passion): Duryodhana approaches Sri Krsna for help in the Kuruksetra War.

B. `Adharmic’ karma (in tamas or the mode of ignorance): Kubja, transformed into a beautiful woman by the grace of Sri Krsna, takes to prostitution.

C. Jnana (in sattva or the material mode of goodness): The brahmana of Sri Guruvayur (Kerala, southern India).

IV. Sudhama Vipra as an example of an Aprakrta-rasa Bhakta.

V. The bhakti-yoga sadacara is meant to bring the conditioned soul beyond the tri-guna prakrta taste and situate him in Aprakrta-rasa. How bhakti-yoga sadacara accomplishes this is explained by Srila Rupa Gosvami in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.4.15-16:

adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya tato ‘nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha rucis tatah athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah

“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krsna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.”

A. ISKCON (the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Vaisnava Sampradaya) adheres to the principles of bhakti-yoga sadacara laid down by Srila Rupa Gosvami.

B. But there are apasampradayas that divert the bhakti process to cultivate karma, jnana, mystic powers, etc. These groups do not correctly represent the true goal of the Vedas: Aprakrta-rasa.

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