PRACTICE OF DEVOTIONAL SERVICE IN MAÑJARĪ BHĀVA
NOVEMBER 21, 2018 / TARUN GOVINDA DAS
Practice of devotional service in ‘MAÑJARĪ BHĀVA’, that is, in the mode of single – minded servitude to Śrī Rādhā, the chief consort of Kṛṣṇa, is the special hitherto unoffered, generous contribution of Śrī Mahāprabhu in this dark age of Kali.
We have said that in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam there is large description of the moods of the beloved. This does not mean that there is no description of the love of a female friend (sakhi – Prem) at all.
In the purport to verses such as “apyeṇa patnyupagataḥ” (Bhāg. 10.30.11), Jīva Gosvāmī has written –
“atrākhaṇḍasya vākyasya nikhila padānām apyanumodana vyañjaka evārtha pratipadyate.
Tataḥ sakhyam evāsāṁ tan mithunam anulakṣyate tad-darśanotkaṇṭha ca tatra vākyārthaḥ”
Meaning – “All the words of this verse are suggestive of approval. We should understand that Śrī Rādhā’s friends are anxious to see both Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Hence they are inquiring about them from the does”.
Kāma-rūpā Bhakti is of two types –
“Keli-tātparyavatyeva sambhogecchāmayī bhavet,
tad-bhāvecchātmikā tāsāṁ bhava-mādhurya kāmitā”.
– [B.R.S. 1.2.299]
Meaning – “Sambhogecchāmayī is the mood of a beloved while tadbhāvecchātmikā is the mood of a sakhi.”
Sakhi is of five types, mañjarī being one of them. They are always ready to serve. Service is their soul.
THE PRESENCE OF MAÑJARĪS IN RĀSA-LĪLĀ
Whether the manjarīs were present during rāsalīlā cannot be confirmed. There is a mention of ‘attendants’ in the description of Rāsa by the poet Karṇapur in his book Ānanda Vṛndāban campu.
Rūpa Gosvāmī has written in the 42nd hymn in Śrī Utkalikā Vallarī –
rāsārambha vilasati parityajya goṣṭhāmbujākṣī
vṛndaṁ vṛndāvana bhuvi rahaḥ keśaveṇopanīya
tvāṁ svādhīna priyatama padaprāpaṇenārcitāṅgīṁ
dūre dṛṣṭvā hṛdi kimacirād arpayiṣyāmi darpam
Meaning – “Dear Śrīmati Rādhikā! When the Rāsa-sport starts in Vṛndāvana, deserting all other damsels of Vraja, Kṛṣṇa will take You to a secluded place and being submissive to You, He will decorate Your hair with various flowers. Beholding this scene from far, when will my heart overflow with transcendental bliss?”
This is suggestive of the presence of mañjarīs during Rāsalīlā.
The ones whose sole purpose of living is to relish the nectar of union of Rādhā- Govinda – they who forget themselves in the joy of bringing about the union of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa – those friends of Śrī Rādhā are classified as ‘samasneha’ (equal in affection) and ‘asama-sneha’ (not equal in affection).
Sama-snehā – Those who have equal affection for both Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa viz., Lalitā, and Viśākhā, are called ‘samasnehā’.
Asama-snehā – They are those friends who have unequal love for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. They are further classified into two types –
(1) those who have greater affection for Kṛṣṇa (Kṛṣṇasnehādhikā) and
(2) those who have greater affection for Rādhā (Rādhāsnehādhikā).
Dhaniṣṭhā etc. have greater affection for Kṛṣṇa. Hence one does not execute devotional service under their allegiance. Sakhīs such as Rūpa-mañjarī who possess more affection for Rādhā are designated as “mañjarīs”. Rūpa Gosvāmī has named their permanent mood as “bhāvollāsa rati” (passion filled with the mood of exultation).
THE PERMANENT MOOD OF MAÑJARĪS – BHĀVOLLĀSA RATI
“sañcārī syāt samonā vā kṛṣṇaratyāḥ suhṛd-ratiḥ /
adhikā puṣyamānā cedbhāvollāsa itīryate”.
Meaning – “Devotees having similar desires naturally have friendly feelings towards each other”.
Hence the rati that Sakhīs such as Lalitā possess towards Rādhā is called ‘friendly’ rati. If this friendliness to Rādhā is equal to or little less than the passion towards Kṛṣṇa, it will be called a ‘passing’ rati, meaning that this friendliness will only be like waves in the ocean of the permanent passion towards Kṛṣṇa. But if the friendliness towards Rādhā is greater than the passion for Kṛṣṇa, then it will gain supreme specialty in Madhura Rasa and will be designated as ‘bhāvollāsa rati’ (state of exultation) and this is the permanent state of the mañjarīs who have greater affection for Rādhā and their passion for Kṛṣṇa is secondary.
In relishing the nectar of joyful service to Rādhā – Govinda, their position is the highest. Although they belong to the class of Sakhīs, they are superior to the Sakhīs due to their single-minded service. They are also considered superior to the Sakhīs because unlike the Sakhīs, who sometimes on being approached by Rādhā, accept a physical relation with Kṛṣṇa, the mañjarīs never ever desire the joy of physical proximity to Kṛṣṇa, even in their dreams, their mental state being ever so pure. Even if Kṛṣṇa requests them or their chieftain Rādhārānī Herself may eagerly approach them, they do not relent.
THE MAÑJARĪS ARE SUPERIOR TO SAKHĪS
“Ananya śrī rādhā-padakamala dāsyaika Rasadhīr hareḥ sange raṅgaṁ svapana-samayenā’pi dadhati
balāt kṛṣṇe kūrpāsakabhidi kim apyācarati kāpyadaśrur me veti pralapati mamātmā ca hasati”
– (Vṛndāvan mahimāmṛta – 16.94)
Meaning – “Those who serve the lotus – feet of Rādhā – Kṛṣṇa single – mindedly, do not accept dalliance with Kṛṣṇa even in dreams, they tearfully lament and refuse if Kṛṣṇa tears their bodice etc. while my life and soul Śrī Rādhā laughingly looks on”.
From this laughter, it is understood that Rādhā approves of such behavior of Kṛṣṇa. Actually Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa show such attitude to test the feelings and loyalty of the mañjarīs. Kṛṣṇa never desires physical relation with mañjarīs. Śrī Viśvanātha has stated the reason for this in his Ānanda-candrikā purport to the 9th verse of nāyaka sahāya bheda of Ujval Nīlamaṇi –
“atra sakhībhāvam samaśrīta iti yadyapi sakhyo hi sva sva yūtheśvarīṇāṁ śrī rādhādīnām eva śrīkṛṣṇāṅga saṅga sukhena sukhinyaḥ na tu sveṣāṁ tadapi tāḥ sāmānyato dvidhā bhavanti prema-saundarya vaidagdhyādīnат ādhikyena śrī kṛṣṇasyātilobhanīya gātryaḥ teṣāṁ nyūnatvena tasyānatilobhanīya gātryaś ca. tatra pūrva śrīkṛṣṇa sukhānurodhāt tata eva sva yūtheśvarīṇām apyāgrahādhikācca kadācit śrīkṛṣṇa aṅgasaṅgo spṛhāvatyo’pi bhavanti, tāś ca lalitādyāḥ рarата preṣṭha-sakhyādayaḥ. Uttarās tu taddvayātāvāt kadāpi kṛṣṇāṅga-saṅga spṛhāvatyo na bhavanti. Tāś ca kastūryadayā nitya-sakhyaḥ”.
Meaning – “Although the Sakhīs are joyful when their group leader Rādhā enjoys bodily pleasure with Kṛṣṇa, they are classified into two types – firstly, the physical companions who are very much tempting to Kṛṣṇa due to excess love, beauty and wit. When their group-leader Rādhā eagerly approaches them to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa, sometimes they do tend to partake of such pleasure, e.g. sakhīs such as Lalitā. Secondly, those Sakhīs who are not physical companions or very much tempting to Kṛṣṇa due to slight lack in love, beauty etc. Although Kṛṣṇa and their own group-leader Rādhārānī approach them with great eagerness, they do not relent to the joy of having physical relationship with Kṛṣṇa. They are the mañjarīs such as Kasturi etc.”
Here a fine point worthy of attention is that, the Gosvāmīs such as Śrī Rūpamañjarī have thus described the physical beauty of the servants of Rādhā – “The splendor of their lotus – feet defeat even the dazzling brilliance of lightning”. Yet Śrī Viśvanātha has mentioned that the mañjarīs lack in physical beauty as compared to the Sakhis. The inner meaning, we feel is that Kṛṣṇa is tempted to accept the service of love from the devotees according to the type and extent of their love. This is the self-evident characteristic of love, the propensity of Kṛṣṇa’s original potency. On eagerly being approached by Rādhā, the Sakhīs such as Lalitā feel a longing to associate physically with Kṛṣṇa. Hence Kṛṣṇa too is tempted to accept their bodily service. But, due to some inexpressible purity of the heart, the mañjarīs never desire the physical proximity of Kṛṣṇa even in their dreams. This is the secret behind the expression “not-so- tempting”. This is the deficiency of their physical beauty. They do not lack physical beauty.
Maybe therefore Viśvanāth Cakravartīpāda has added the word ‘love’ before beauty and wit. Factually, they are not deficient in love. That is why they can obtain some such things that are beyond the reach of even Sakhīs such as Lalitā, viz. –
THE MAÑJARĪS POSSESS THE EXTRAORDINARY FORTUNE TO SERVE
tāmbūlārpaṅa pāda-mardana payo dānābhisārādibhir
vṛndāraṇya maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ
prāṇa preṣṭha sakhī kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ
kelī bhūmiṣu rūpa mañjarī mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye
(Vrajavilāsa stava – 38)
Meaning – “I seek refuge of those maid-servants of Śrī Rādhā, headed by Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī, who constantly satisfy Śrī Vṛndāvaneśvarī (Rādhā) by offering betel-leaf, massaging the feet, offering water and arranging meetings of the two lovers, those who have obtained unrestrained rights to frequent the place of love – sports of Rādhā – Kṛṣṇa”.
Practicing devotional service in their allegiance is the teaching of Mahāprabhu and His followers such as Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī. Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī has prayed –
pādābjayos tava vinā vara dāsyam eva
nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devi yāce
akhyāya te mama namo’stu namo’stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso’stu raso’stu satyam
Meaning – “О Goddess! I seek nothing other than the mercy of Your lotus – feet.
I pay obeisance to Your friendship. But I yearn for the position of Your servant”.
This servitude to Rādhā is the special mercy of Śrī Goursundar. Sanātan Gosvāmī has called it the most extraordinary and supremely great task to be accomplished. In the realm of love, there is no higher obtainable thing than this for the conditioned soul Śrī Narottama Dās Ṭhākura has prayed –
rādhā kṛṣṇa prāṇa mora! yugala kiśora!
jīvane maraṇe gati āra nāhi mora
kālindīra kule keli kadambera vana;
ratana vedīra upore bosābo du’jana
śyāma gaurī aṅge dibo (cuyā) candanera gandha;
cāmara ḍhulābo kobe heribo mukha candra
gāṅthiyā mālatīra mālā dibo doṅhāra gale;
adhare tuliyā dibo karpūra tāmbūle
“Rādhā – Kṛṣṇa is my life and soul. I have no refuge other than them in life or death. Amidst the Kadamba trees, on the banks of Kalindi, I will seat the two of them on a gem – studded altar. I shall apply fragrant sandalwood on the dark and fair forms. When shall I fan them, my gaze being transfixed on their moon-faces? I shall garland them with Malati flowers and offer their lips betel – leaves containing camphor”.
caudike sakhīra mājhe, rādhikāra iṅgite,
ciruṇī loiyā kore kori
kuṭila kuntala sab, vithāriyā āṅca-rab,
bonāibo vicitra kabarī
mṛgamada malayaja, sab aṅge lepabo,
porāibo manohara hār
candana kuṅkume, tilaka bonāibo,
herabo mukha sudhākara
nīla paṭṭāmbara, jatane porāibo,
pāye dibo ratana mañjīre
bhṛṅgārera jale rāṅgā, caraṇa dhowāibo
muchabo āpan cikure
kusuma kamala dale, śeja bichāibo,
śayana korābo doṅhākāre
dhavala cāmara āni, mṛdu mṛdu bījabo,
charamita duhuka śarīre
(Prārthanā – Śrīla Ṭhākur Mahāśaya)
“Surrounded by Sakhīs, signaled by Rādhikā, holding a comb, I shall spread Her hair and comb Her curly locks, styling them in beautiful chignon. I shall apply musk and candan all over Her body, and adorn Her with attractive necklace; I shall draw tilaka with candan and kumkum, and behold Her nectarine face. I shall carefully drape Her with blue silk, and bedeck Her feet with bejeweled anklets; I shall wash Her rosy feet with water and wipe them with my tresses. Arranging a bed of lotus-petals I shall put them to sleep; fanning softly with a fly – brush on their love – worn bodies”.
THE SECRET OF DEVOTIONAL PRACTICE OF THE GAUḌĪYA VAIṢṆAVAS
In Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, when one takes refuge of the feet of a sadguru, the faithful devotee is introduced to his mañjarī- self who is a maid of Śrī Rādhā. Thereafter, along with hearing and chanting, he has to constantly meditate on his true self and be absorbed in rendering devotional service mentally, throughout the day according to the instructions of the Gosvāmīs. Like this, hearing chanting and following the principles of good conduct in this external material body while meditating on devotional service rendered to Rādhā – Kṛṣṇa in the spiritual form should go on simultaneously.
Bāhya antara ihāra dui to sādhana;
Bāhye sādhaka dehe kore śravaṇa-kīrtana
Mone nija siddha deha koriyā bhāvana;
Rātri-dina cinte vraje kṛṣṇera sevana
“Devotional practice is of two types – external and internal. One should hear and chant in the external material body, while one should serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja, all day and night by meditating on one’s spiritual body”.
– (C. C.)
Then there is one more secret.
The devotee is introduced to his identity of a young boy in service to Śrī Mahāprabhu in His pastimes at Nabadwīp. The same devotee renders devotional service simultaneously in both the pastimes (Nabadwīp and Vṛndāvan). He thus obtains the great fortune of relishing perfect sweetness in the realm of love. He meditates on the service rendered to Mahāprabhu. When Mahāprabhu, absorbed in the hymns sung by Svarupa Gosvāmī becomes engrossed in relishing the nectar of Vṛndāvan in the mood of Rādhārani, and His associates are also engrossed in relishing the nectar of Vraja according to their own moods, then the devotee too gets absorbed in rendering devotional service to Govinda in Vraja in his original form of a Mañjarī. In this way, devotional practice continues in two spiritual forms. Due to very deep meditation the devotee gives up paying profound attention to his material body and gradually becomes absorbed in his twin spiritual forms. On attaining success in devotional practice, the devotee is awarded the crowning glory by offering him the right to render twin devotional service in both the pastimes in his spiritual forms as meditated by him, at the time of his death. Narottama dāsa Thākur has said – “Here I shall get Gouracandra and there – Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa”. In devotional practice, this is the highest point of spiritual psychology and it is the highest mellow in the soul of a devotee. This is the maximum extent to which the marginal potency of the Lord (Jīva-śakti) can progress in the realm of spiritualism, “sā kāṣṭhā sā parāgatiḥ”.
Meaning – “It is the zenith of spiritual state”.
To practice devotion in the mood of a mañjarī is the very deep secret of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism.
To worship in the mode of a Gopī has been mentioned in ancient purāṇas, tantras and many wise saints have described it in texts that belong to the рrе-Caitanya period. Śaṭhakopācārya has mentioned worshiping in the mood of a Gopī in Pātāla Khaṇḍa of Padma Purāṇa, Rudrayāmal Tantra and Sahasragīti. ācārya Nimbark Svāmī has spoken of Rādhā – worship.
We find worshiping in the mood of sakhī in the descriptions of great saint poets such as Jayadev, Caṇḍidās, Vidyāpati etc. But from the above-mentioned texts we do not get a clear idea of the characteristics of the mañjarīs or the maids who possess more affection for Śrī Rādhā. There is no very definite layout about devotional practice in the mood of a mañjarī in these texts.
This is the novel discovery of the followers of the lotus – feet of Śrī Caitanya, such as Śrī Rūpa and Sanātana. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has endlessly and specially described the Madhura – Rasa of the Braja – beauties who are the highest resort of splendent Rasa in Ujvala – Nīlamaṇi wherein he has described those incidents that are beyond the scope of Bhakti Rasāmṛta sindhu. Here he has given clear indication of the characteristics of the Mañjarīs as well as devotional practice in the mood of mañjarī. The Gosvāmīs such as Rūpa and Sanātana are the eternal mañjarīs of Braja – “Twin splendent bodies”.
They have descended in the age of Kali as associates of Goursundar, the united form of Rādhā – Kṛṣṇa and have unraveled the secret of devotional practice in the mood of mañjarī in their texts for the welfare of mankind.
Stavamālā by Rūpa Gosvāmī, Stavāvalī by Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī, Saṅkalpa-kalpadrum by Viśvanāth Cakravartī, Prema-Bhakti Candrikā and Prārthanā by Narottam Dās Ṭhākur are overflowing with transcendental mellow of the Mañjarīs.
By relishing these texts, connoisseur devotees will find equanimity with their own Mañjarī – bhāva and they will feel blessed to relish the nectar of the Divine couple.
The practising devotee who wishes to relish Rasa and is yearning to obtain the mood of a Mañjarī should follow this process –
(1) vipralambha Rasa (the Rasa of separation) – at the end of mid – day pastime at Rādhā-kuṇḍa –
“hṛdaya – dayitalīlā – snigdha dugdhaih prapūrṇa tanu – kanakaghaṭī sa subhruvo’syah sakhīnām
nayana-mudam atānīt sāśu vairasyam āptā viraha – viṣa – vivarṇa netra – santaptaye’ bhūt”
– (Govinda Līlāmṛta 18.94)
Meaning – “Śrī Rādhā’s body resembles a golden urn filled with the cool milk of the pastimes of the darling of Her heart (Kṛṣṇa). Thus She brings joy to the fine – browed sakhī-mañjarīs. But now She becomes the cause of their grief by becoming pale and sorrowful stung by the poison of separation.”
Here the subject is Rādhā who is grief stricken due to separation from Kṛṣṇa, the object of love are the mañjarīs, the paleness of Rādhā due to separation and sorrowful looks are excitant causes. Sighs etc. are the activities. Tears and paleness are silent activities, depression and humility are the passing moods. These moods together nourish the bhavollasa rati of the devotee who possesses greater affection for Rādhā, resulting in the Rasa of separation.
Devotees practising in the mood of mañjarīs should equalize their moods with that of the sakhī- mañjarīs. Meaning, in one moment the devotee thinks in the mood of a mañjarī that he is present in the place of the pastimes in the spiritual form which is worthy of serving Rādhā- Kṛṣṇa and again he thinks that he is a devotee reading or hearing the pastime of separation. Thereafter relish occurs when he equalizes his feelings with those associates having similar moods. This means that the devotee feels the same pain of separation as Rūpa Mañjarī did.
(2) Example of Rasa of Union – (intimate Union) –
ityuktvā smita candrikārcita-mukhīr ālir vilaṅghya vrajan
rādhāyā nidadhāv urasyurumadāt pāṇiṁ yadā mādhavaḥ
kandarpaḥ sa hi kaṁ na darpa matanod āpāda-śirṣaṁ saraiś
cakre jarjaram eva tat-tanu-yugam romodgama vyājataḥ
– (Śrī Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta 9.25)
Meaning – “Hearing these humorous and witty words of Mādhava, the Sakhīs were thrilled and filled with great bliss, their blooming lips resplendent with the moon of soft smiles. The King of Wit immediately crossed over to them and as soon as he placed his hand with fierce pride on the bosom of Rādhārānī, Cupid covered the forms of the young lovers totally with arrows in the form of goose–flesh”.
Here the subject is Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. The objects of love are the mañjarīs, the humor while collecting flowers, and Kṛṣṇa touching Rādhārānī are the excitant causes; soft smiles, fluttering glances are the gestures; goose – flesh, shivering and perspiration are silent activities; joy and pride are passing moods. These moods together nourish the bhavollasa rati of the devotee who possesses greater affection for Rādhārani, resulting in the Rasa of union.
The practicing devotee should once consider himself to be a sakhī-mañjarī, an associate of the pastime and next think of himself to be a reader of nectarine pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. The resultant of this equanimity is a oneness with the mañjarī having similar feelings and hence he is able to relish the Rasa of union. In this way the devotee practice in the mood of mañjarī is able to relish the four types of Rasa in separation such as purvaraga and four types of Rasa in union such as short, narrow etc.
“tad anubhavamayaṁ Rasasāraṁ svānubhavamayena rasenaikatayā vibhāvya pivata” – (Prīti-sandarbha)
Meaning – “The devotee yearning for the mood of mañjarī should assume oneness with the relish of the eternally established mañjarīs (e.g. Rūpa Mañjarī). Then their feelings will flow through the devotee thus enabling him to gain access to the Rasa”.
In his purport to Alankāra Kaustubha, Viśvanātha Cakravartī has written –
“Atha Rasa sākṣātkāre paripāṭī yathā – ādau śravaṇa-kīrtanādi bhajanānāṁ paunaḥ punyāt ānandarūpāyā rater āvirbhāvaḥ tadanantaraṁ vibhāvādi samavadhāna daśāyāṁ rateḥ sākṣātkāraḥ. Tadanantaraṁ ratir eva rasa-svarūpā bhavati. Tad-uttaram punas tair eva vibhāvādi karaṇai Rasa-svarūpa bhavati. Tad uttaraṁ punas tair eva vibhāvādi karaṇai rasa-sākṣātkāraḥ”.
Meaning – “The method of gaining access to Rasa is – first, the appearance of extremely joyful passion due to repeatedly hearing the Divine literature that is filled with the moods akin to our own desire, and glorifying whatever we hear. This is followed by more splendid experience due to absorption in such thoughts. After this the passion transforms into Rasa. Then we again experience the moods of vibhāva, anubhāva, passing moods and silent activities, ultimately gaining access to Rasa or experiencing ‘Rasadarśan’.”
Srila Ananta das Babaji
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