Answers to the Rasa-tattva-exam

Bhrigu - March 24, 2005 7:15 pm

Dear devotees,


here are the correct answers to the Rasa-tattva-exam. Sorry for being late with them. The wording of your answers need not be the same as below, of course, as long as the idea is. Except for 1 & 3, all answers are the direct words of Guru Maharaja.


1. "Love for Krishna is the foundational emotion (sthayibhava) that becomes the rasa of devotion (bhakti-rasa). It is raised by means of the exitants (vibhavas), indications (anubhavas), responses (sattvikas) and transitory emotions (vyabhicaris) to a relishable state in the heart of devotees engaged in such actions as listening to stories about the Lord." (BRS 2.1.5)


2. It is the foundational emotion to one's spiritual identity. It is a the spiritual sentiment that, for example, I am a cowherder and I love Krsna like my equal in friendship. This sthayi-bhava is constituted of Krsna's internal energy, his svarupa sakti.


The sthayi-bhava dawns in bhava bhakti.


3. The primary sthayi-bhavas and their examples are:


a ) Neutrality (shanta-bhava) -- Sanatkumara

b ) Servitude (dasya-bhava) -- Raktaka

c ) Friendship (sakhya-bhava) -- Sridhama

d ) Parental Affection (vatsalya-bhava) -- Yashoda

e ) Amorous love (madhurya bhava) -- Radhika


And the secondary:


a ) Humour (hasya)

b ) Amazement (vismaya)

c ) Effort (utsaha)

d ) Sorrow (shoka)

e ) Anger (krodha)

f ) Fear (bhaya)

g ) Disgust (jugupsa) (the exitant here is the body, not Krishna)


4. Support (alambana-vibhava):


In order for there to be the experience of rasa two things are required. The object of love and love itself. These two, the object of love (visaya-alambana) and love itself or its shelter (asraya-alambana) are the support of the experience of rasa. The object of love is Krsna, the person/object to whom our love is directed. The love that is directed toward him is sheltered in a devotee, who is thus the shelter or vessel of that love. So for example in vatsalya or parental love, Krsna as a child is the object of love, and someone like Yasoda overflowing with motherly affection is the shelter or container of love. In sakhya rasa, Krsna as a chum with his flute tucked in his belt, cowherding stick in hand, etc. is the object of love, and someone like Sridama is the vessel of love.


For the sadhaka to experience one of the four sentiments of Vraja rasa, he or she follows the love of Yasoda, or Sridama, etc., ultimately internally seeing the guru as a representation of this love. At some point one’s stahyi-bhava is developed enough that the one becomes a shelter of love. Thus the asraya-alamabana-vibhava is in place, as is the visaya-alamabana-vibhava.


Excitant (uddipana-vibhava):


Vibhava as an excitant is sometimes said to be the cause of rasa. However, under scrutiny it is clear that the sthayi-bhava creates the uddipana vibhava, while the uddipana or excitant then excites the sthayi-bhava further in order that it might taste rasa. In other words, the sthayi-bhava causes one to see the world in a particular way, such that things related to Krsna—his form, qualities, and so on that would do little for others other than afford them sukriti—serve to excite one’s sthayi-bhava. In advanced stages of prema, ordinary things like monsoon rain clouds serve as such excitants, reminding one of Krsna’s dark complexion, as one’s sthayi-bhava becomes the lens through which one experiences the world.


5. In the higher stages of sadhana, one follows the bhava of one's guru. So one sees one's guru not as much as directly Hari—saksad hari—but more so as one who is dear to Hari—kintu prabhor ya priya eva tasya. That is, one sees the guru as representing a particular bhava and corresponding associate of Krsna. One sees the guru as the asraya alambana vibhava and thus one pursues the love sheltered in him. It is love of Krsna that we are after, not Krsna. Of course, one who has love of Krsna has Krsna.


6. Anu means to follow. So an anubhava is one that follows, in the case one’s stahyi-bhava that has been excited by the manifestation of alambana and uddipana vibhava, by way of expressing itself outwardly. It is not the stahyi-bhava expressing itself, for if it were there would be no need to call it something else. So an anubhava is distinct from one’s sthayi-bhava, yet it follows in its wake. It is a distinct ingredient of rasa. It manifests outwardly in the body of the devotee, whereas the stahyi-bhava is an internal mood or sentiment. Anubhavas reveal outwardly the internal presence of bhava within the heart.


7. Bhakti is expressed as what is called cesta-rupa. Cesta-rupa refers to something appearing in the form of an external activity (cesta = activities, rupa = form). This cesta-rupa manifests in both sadhana bhakti and bhava bhakti. In sadhana bhakti it is called sadhana-rupa (form of practice) and in bhava is is called karya-rupa (form of effect). Cesta-rupa in sandhana bhakti, or sadhana-rupa, manifests as devotional practices intended to awaken bhava. In bhava-bhakti this cesta-rupa or karya-rupa manifests as anubhavas that are a result of having attained bhava-bhakti. Thus chanting and dancing, for example, could be either an example of the cesta-rupa aspect of bhakti manifesting in either sadhana or bahva-bhakti. Such chanting and dancing, that is, could be a means to attain bhava or and expression of bhava. The latter is what we refer to as anubhavas. Fort the most part they appear when a devotee in bhava feels and then considers “Let me dance.”


8. Sattvika-bhavas are also independent ingredients of rasa that are expressed outwardly. Thus they are also karya-rupa. However, unlike anubhavas, there is no parallel activity to compare them with in sadhana-bhakti. Although such symptoms are sometimes imitated by sadhana-bhaktas, which is deplorable, and sometimes a semblance of bhava (bhavabhasa) appears in sincere sadhakas in the form of symptoms like shedding tears and hairs standing on end, which is a blessing. Another difference between anubhavas and sattvika bhavas is that sattvikas are not tied to intelligence as anubhavas are. They are a result of sattva (pure exisitence) affecting one’s citta, the internal organ by which one becomes conscious of oneself. This citta saturated with sattva in turn affects one’s prana. All of this is internal. When one’s prana is thus agitated it causes external bodily transformations in relation to the basic elements of the body (earth, water, fire, etc). Thus sattvika-bhavas directly express themselves without passing through one’s intellect, as anubhavas do, and they involve not only external but also some internal activity.


9. Vyabhicari bhavas are those that are transitory. The come and go. When they appear, they enhance one’s stahyi-bhava. Like waves they arise out of the ocean of one’s stahyi-bhava. The word vyabhicari means “moving toward with certainty.” Thus these bhavas a capable of influencing one’s stahyi-bhava, although they are not capable of becoming dominant themselves in an enduring sense. They merely flavor one’s sthayi-bhava. Becasue they flavor one’s sthayi-bhava, they are also called sancari-bhavas. The word sancari also indicates movement. Thus vyabhicari-bhavas move within one’s sthayi-bhava creating variation within it. They are thirty-three in number.


10. For example: "As dawn approached, Radha and Krishna went arm in arm from their forest cottage, about to step into the cow pasture on their way home. At that time, Syamasundara, the beautiful dark boy, fearing the imminent appearance of the sun and the arrival of Jatila, Radha's mother-in-law, suddenly removed Radha's arm from his shoulder. [...] When the doubts that threatened Radha and Krishna refused to allow them to continue to their homes together, their pain in separation caused their friends who were leading the way to sigh, break out in tears and become discoloured."