Radha and Krsna

Part Seven of an overview of the Sat sandarbha of Srila Jiva Gosvami

The Priti Sandarbha is the last of Srila Jiva Gosvami's six sandarbhas, or treatises. Here prayojana, or the ultimate goal of life, is defined as priti, or unalloyed love of Lord Krsna.

Srila Jiva Gosvami explains that everyone is interested in having an end to all miseries and attaining unending happiness; but happiness in this material world is always mixed with misery. Furthermore, happiness is always temporary, and we can never get as much as desired. So material happiness cannot be the supreme goal of life.

Beyond material happiness lies the ultimate spiritual bliss, described in the Vedic scriptures. That bliss is of two types the bliss of self-realization and that of God realization. Of these two, the bliss of self-realization is small compared to that of God realization, because of the infinitesimal size of the soul. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is unlimited, so the bliss of God realization is unlimited. That realization, Srila Jiva Gosvami maintains, is the ultimate goal of life.

In self-realization, which here means impersonal realization, one's motive is to have one's own bliss. But in impersonal Brahman, the impersonal Absolute, the qualities and potencies of the Lord are not manifest, and so there are no varieties in Brahman realization; there is only a state of apparent oneness between God and the living entity.

In the four types of personal liberation the Lord's form, qualities, and other features are present, but for one's own purpose. Because one still does not love the Lord, one cannot realize the loving feature of the Lord, and therefore one cannot experience the ultimate bliss of priti, love of Godhead.

The Ultimate in Love

Love is supreme. Though a person may not possess many good qualities, if he has love for others he is appreciated because his love gives pleasure to others. This means that love surpasses all other considerations. And the highest love is love for Krsna, the Supreme Lord. Jiva Gosvami says that even if a person has many wonderful qualities, if he is devoid of pure love for the Lord he is not considered very glorious. But one who loves the Lord is always glorious.

The Lord has all wonderful qualities, and when we love Him and He reciprocates our love, we derive the supreme form of bliss. Because He is eternal and unlimited and because we are also eternal, He can reciprocate our love eternally. The resultant pleasure is indescribable.

Everyone in this material world hankers for love. As the saying goes, love conquers all. For the sake of love one may sometimes sacrifice one's dearest object one's own life. So love is superior even to one's own self.

But in this material world there is no suitable object on which to repose one's love, because everything here perishes in time. No one wants to love something that will disappear. That's why people often change from one object of love to another. Jiva Gosvami concludes that ideally the object of our love must be permanent, able to reciprocate our love, and full of other attractive qualities as well. That ideal object can only be Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Earlier, in the Krsna Sandarbha,Srila Jiva Gosvami has already established that Krsna is the supreme object of love, for He is the origin of everything, sentient and insentient.

Beyond Bliss

There is a world of difference between mere happiness and the bliss of priti, or love. Happiness is a quality derived from being in the mode of goodness, whereas priti is a potency of the Lord's internal energy. Priti is the essence of the Lord's pleasure potency, mixed with His knowledge potency. Priti includes bliss, but it is not just bliss or happiness.

Happiness is one's own experience of a favorable mental state, but love means acting only for the beloved's pleasure and thereby feeling happiness. Therefore either in union or in separation, a lover feels happiness if the beloved is happy. Happiness has no object but one's self, whereas love has both subject and object.

This state of priti always exists in the eternal associates of the Lord, and it is by their mercy that a qualified practitioner can acquire it.

The experience of melting of the heart signals the appearance of priti in the person of a devotee. This manifests externally in such symptoms as tears and rising of the hairs on the body while one is hearing krsna-katha, topics about Lord Krsna. When love appears and one loses all attachment to the material body, one's heart is completely purified. This exalted state of priti, or intense love for the Lord, can grow to its full intensity only towards Krsna and no other deity, because He is the complete Personality of Godhead.

Levels and Effects of Love

God is the supreme independent being, but He becomes dependent on any finite soul who loves Him. Indeed, He is conquered by love. His bliss is of two kinds. (1) He experiences the bliss of His own nature. (2) He experiences the bliss of His potency, which is of two types bliss in the mind and bliss in His controlling potency. Of these, His experience of the bliss of devotion, which comes under the category of bliss in the mind, is the highest of all.

Love has two types of effect on the heart of a devotee: (1) It produces refinement in the heart. (2) It produces a particular type of ego.

When love produces refinement in the heart, it has these consequences: (a) That love for the Lord fills the devotee's mind with delight. (b) Out of intense love, the devotee feels the Lord to be his very own. (c) That love produces in the devotee a state of trust. (d) The devotee's love generates a type of pride, as he thinks, "The Lord is mine." (e) Love melts his heart. (f) Love generates an intense hankering for the Lord and gives great attachment to Him. (g) Love makes him feel that God is ever fresh. (h) Love intoxicates his mind with the unparalleled wonders of God's sweetness.

These states of love of God have different levels, which affect different devotees at different times. All together, there are eight levels of priti:

(1) Love in which there is an excess of delight in the loving mood of the devotee is called rati. At this stage Krsna is considered the only object of desire, and all else is insignificant.

(2) Love enriched with the feeling of possession, in which one feels "the Lord is mine," is called prema.

(3) Love of God accompanied by an abundance of trust in Him is called pranaya. At this stage one deals very intimately with Krsna and does not have reverence for Him.

(4) The conceit of excessive love that manifests itself in a crooked nature is called mana. When this type of love appears, even Krsna fears the angry mood of the devotee.

(5) Intense love that thoroughly melts the heart is called sneha. In sneha the devotee is dissatisfied even at the sight of the Lord and fears that demons may harm Him.

(6) An excessive longing in love for the Lord is called raga. Here even a moment's separation becomes unbearable. Union with the Lord makes great pain feel pleasurable, and separation from Him makes great pleasure feel like pain.

(7) That stage of love in which Krsna appears newer and newer at every moment is called anuraga. At this stage the Lord and the devotee feel dependent on each other, and even while in His presence the devotee feels the fear of separation. Hence the devotee loses his balance of mind and behaves strangely.

(8) The love that awakens a state of madness in a devotee owing to its unsurpassed wondrousness is called mahabhava. On this level even a moment's separation feels to the devotee like millions of years.

Transcendental Superexcellence

A person desiring to realize one of these stages of priti, or complete absorption in love of God, can do so by associating with and serving a devotee already situated in priti and acquire it from him. According to the level on which one's master is situated, the aspirant gets a particular kind of ego or relationship with the Lord.

Here Srila Jiva Gosvami goes into many technical details. He speaks of the criteria by which a devotee achieves a particular level of devotional service and explains how far one can progress beyond those given stages. He concludes the section by explaining that the maha-bhava of the gopis is the topmost experience of bliss of love of God and is not accessible to anyone else. Among the gopis, Srimati Radharani's love is unexcelled; She has no peer in loving Krsna.

Srila Jiva Gosvami then gives details regarding the various emotional moods (bhavas) of the experience of priti. These twelve emotional moods are called the sthayi-bhavas. The subject matter is too technical to present here.

Another point Srila Jiva Gosvami makes is that nondevotee rhetoricians say that bhakti, devotional service, is not a manifestation of rasa, a transcendental taste; they accept it only as a sentiment of the heart. Srila Jiva Gosvami refutes this idea by showing how rasa is impossible between human beings; it is possible only between the Lord and His devotees.

On the material platform, love is only a transformation of sattva guna, the material quality of goodness. It is not transcendental and has no possibility of any bhava, or emotional mood, comparable to the twelve moods in the spiritual sky. The mellow (rasa) experienced in mundane poetics, for example, is due to the expertise of the poet. It is nothing like the mellows experienced in relation to priti, which can put a devotee into a state of transcendental madness.

Thus with logic and examples from Srimad-Bhagavatam Srila Jiva Gosvami proves the superexcellent position of priti, which is nowhere better exemplified than in the gopis' love for Krsna.

Srila Jiva Gosvami concludes the Priti Sandarbha by pointing out that love of God is the desirable object for all devotees coming in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That understanding and the opportunity to realize it in full are Lord Caitanya's special gift to humanity.

Kundali Dasa and Satya Narayana Dasa are living in Vrndavana, India, working on a translation of the Sat Sandarbha.