Anticipation (No, not the Carly Simon song)

Kanailal Das - July 24, 2013 4:39 pm

I apologize in advance if my questions/observations should be placed elsewhere within the Forum. [if so, moderators/administrators are free to move it.]


Anticipation as a state or a mood is something we live with from birth. As infants, we anticipate being suckled. As children, we await the promise of a treat for being good; we wait for holidays such as Christmas, or for our birthdays, in anticipation of gifts or recognition; we anticipate the relief of arrival after long car trips. As adults, we await purchases and return correspondence in the mail; likewise, a visit from family or close friends; sexual release after arousal; food/shelter if we are stranded or destitute, and so forth. Anticipation is so integral to the human condition.


I am wondering about the place anticipation holds as a mood in bhakti --- separate from that of yearning or spiritual desire (lobha?). The nuance is subtle but I believe there is, or I'm endeavoring to make, a distinction. Much appears to be written about aspiration, but I can't find too much commentary on anticipation as a devotional state. Yet it must play some part, if indeed not a critical one, in our tradition.


We know, for example, that Mother Yasoda eagerly awaits the return of Gopala Krsna and Balarama each afternoon after their tending to the cows. Or that the gopis wait in ever-hopeful anticipation of Krsna's return to Vrndavana from Dwaraka.


Because the wait associated with anticipation is often fraught with more excitement than actual attainment, it's almost preferable never to achieve the goal because "getting there" is better yet. This, to my thinking, seems to be a central tenet of bhakti and is even alluded to in Mahaprabhu's Siksastakam: effectively, 'I have no desires for [this or that], or even liberation --- simply permit me to serve you, causelessly, birth after birth.'


In essence the mood of the devotee becomes one of let me try 'getting it right' over and over because the anticipation of getting there is so joyful and satisfying of itself --- nearly relegating the climax of arrival to secondary importance. Similar can be drawn from Srila Bhaktivinode when the Thakur beseeches his Lord: "When O when will that day be mine?," or where he writes "When will the day come when Nimai Pandit will give up the the robes of renunciation and and again come and join us in kirtana at the house of Srivas?" (Although arguably, perhaps, these last two examples are more of yearning.) Or how about when Srila Rupa Goswami gives the example of the cataka bird to show how a devotee should always be waiting in expectation of the 'rainwater' of Krishna-love (cited from Sridhara deva Goswami's The Golden Volcano of Divine Love.)


Does anyone else find this topic curious or interesting? Can anyone point me to any sastric references, spiritual commentary or analyses that deal with the role or importance of anticipatory states in bhakti?


Madan Gopal Das - July 26, 2013 3:44 am

cool thoughts Kanailal! Very briefly, my mind kept relating anticipation in bhakti as a component/symptom/aspect of viraha bhava, separation. Like when GM discusses separation and makes the point very similar to what you've just made, that separation is so wonderful because in union there is one Krsna while in separation there are millions of Krsna's. While union is certainly not a disappointment, it can be said that the "getting there" of separation is thicker with bhava, maybe anticipation playing a key emotional role in that.


You may want to be discussing anticipation in a more general context, but it just strikes me as being integral to the play between union and separation.

Kanailal Das - July 26, 2013 2:42 pm

Thank you, Madan, for your reinforcing and helpful reply. It would seem the notion of viraha bhav plays heavily into my inquiry as to the role of anticipation in bhakti. I ask somewhat rhetorically, "Do we truly wish to go (and arrive) back to Godhead or does the anticipation of such, in perpetuity, fuel our inspiration to love and to serve guru and Gauranga -- and have that fully suffice?"

To answer you directly, I don't necessarily care to discuss anticipation in a general sense. I'm completely satisfied to entertain any sort of discussion or suggestions of reference as the mood/state of anticipation may play in bhakti-yoga. Admittedly, I am trying to parse the notion of anticipation out from that of yearning or desire. But I will take-up your lead and look further into GM's discussions of separation. Thanks again, bhai.