Transcendental Associates in Santa-rasa

August 23, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Five moods of transcendental relationship with the Lord.

Our unique, individual relationship with the Lord is evoked by the perfection of devotional service. Unfortunately, in the present status of our conditioned life we have not only forgotten the Lord, we have forgotten our eternal relationship with the Lord. By engagine in the process of devotional service, called svarupa, we can revive that eternal relationship.

The Lord has a wide variety of different relationships with his devotees. These transcendental associates may be in relationships with Krsna in one of five different ways: in a passive state (neutrality), in an active state (servitorship), as a friend (friendship), as a parent (parental affection), or as a conjugal lover (amorous). As noted in the last few Feature articles in this series, the Cowherd Boys and the Gopis are among those in the sakhya-rasa category, enjoying friendships with the Lord. Today, we begin a look at the most fundamental relationships, those in the mood of santa-rasa, or neutrality in a passive state. Included in this category are the land and sacred places; trees, grass and flowers; animals and birds; and paraphernalia and ornaments.

“By the grace of the Lord, …the spiritual consciousness of every species of life can occupy its proper place, and these species can express their spiritual affection for the Lord in the santa-rasa, as displayed by the land, water, hills, trees, fruits, and flowers of Vrndavana during the presence of Lord Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead. The Lord reciprocated the feelings of the inhabitants of the forest of Vrndavana. When there was rainfall, the Lord took shelter at the feet of the trees or in the caves and enjoyed the taste of different fruits with his eternal associates the cowherd boys.”

When one is completely free from all doubts and material attachments, he attains the neutral position called santa-rati, or santa-rasa. The santa-rati realization of Krsna is in the neutral stage between the conception of impersonalism and personalism. This means that one is not very strongly attached to the personal feature of the Lord. An appreciation of the greatness of the Lord is called santa-rati. This is attachment not to the personal feature but to the impersonal feature. Generally, one in this stage is attached to the Paramatma feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the santa-rasa, a devotee sees the Lord’s representation everywhere.

The specific characteristics of santa-rasa – unflinching faith in Krsna and cessation of all desires which are not connected with Krsna – are common to all other rasas as well, just as sound is generally present in all other elements (air, fire, water and earth) because it is produced from the sky. Similarly, these two characteristics of santa-rasa are present in other transcendental relationships, such as dasya (servitorship), sakhya (fraternity), vatsalya (paternal affection), and the madhura-rasa (conjugal love).

Although there is attachment for Krsna in awe and veneration in the santa-rasa along with these two valuable transcendental qualities – attachment for Krsna and detachment from material desires – nonetheless the sense of intimacy is lacking. By that intimacy one thinks of Krsna as one’s only shelter and only friend. In the santa-rasa one accepts Krsna as the impersonal Param Brahma or the localized Paramatma. This is based on the speculative knowledge of the jnani. However, when this knowledge is further developed, one is convinced that Paramatma, the Supreme Lord, is master and that the living entity is His eternal servant. One then attains the platform of dasya-rasa.

Examples of santa-bhaktas, or devotees in the neutral stage, are the nine yogis named Kavi, Havi, Antariksa, Prabuddha, Pippalayana, Avirhotra, Dravida or Drumila, Camasa and Karabhajana. The four Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatana) are also examples of this stage.

“Neutrality can be further subdivided into general, transparent and peaceful. An attraction for Krsna by the people in general or by children cannot take any specific or satisfactory position. It can be manifest sometimes in trembling of the body and changing of the color of the eyes (to red, white, etc.), although there is no symptom of any particular affection.

One old man was told by a young man, “Just see how this child-only three years old-is so jubilant! Simply by seeing Krsna he is running so swiftly, making a tumultuous sound. Just see!” This is an instance of neutral ecstatic love in the heart of a child, without any specific subdivision.

Due to the different types of attraction for Krsna, there are different varieties of devotees. Their symptoms are manifested transparently, just like jewels. It is said that a great devotee brahmana would sometimes address the Supreme Personality of Godhead as master and sometimes joke with the Lord, using different kinds of familiar words. Sometimes he would protect the Lord with a filial affection, sometimes he would cry out to the Lord, addressing the Lord as his beloved, and sometimes he would meditate on the Lord as the Supersoul. This means that the brahmana expressed his ecstatic loving symptoms in different ways at different times. But in each instance, because of ecstatic love, the brahmana merged himself in the ocean of happiness and became situated in pure love. Thus he was a transparent medium, like a jewel that shows reality in varying colors according to its own nature.

When the great sage Narada was glorifying the pastimes of the Lord with his vina, the four Kumaras, headed by Sanaka, although merged in the impersonal conception of Brahman, were trembling all over. Another devotee once exclaimed, “Although I can achieve liberation simply by serving the devotees, my mind is still very much anxious to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose bodily complexion is just like a dark cloud.” When a devotee is so anxious to contact the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that can also be accepted as a symptom of neutral love.”

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 32



The Land and Sacred Places

“The holy place known as Mathura is spiritually superior to Vaikuntha, the transcendental world, because the Lord appeared there. Superior to Mathura-Puri is the transcendental forest of Vrndavana because of Krsna’s rasa-lila pastimes. And superior to the forest of Vrndavana is Govardhana Hill, for it was raised by the divine hand of Sri Krsna and was the site of His various loving pastimes. And, above all, the superexcellent Sri Radha-kunda stands supreme, for it is overflooded with the ambrosial nectarean prema of the Lord of Gokula, Sri Krsna. Where, then, is that intelligent Person who is unwilling to serve this divine Radha-kunda, which is situated at the foot of Govardhana Hill?

Purport: The spiritual world is three fourths of the total creation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and it is the most exalted region. The spiritual world is naturally superior to the material world; however, Mathura and the adjoining areas, although appearing in the material world, are considered superior to the spiritual world because the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself appeared at Mathura. The interior forests of Vrndavana are considered superior to Mathura because of the presence of the twelve forests (dvadasa-vana), such as Talavana, Madhuvana and Bahulavana, which are famous for the various pastimes of the Lord. Thus the interior Vrndavana forest is considered superior to Mathura, but superior to these forests is the divine Govardhana Hill because Krsna lifted Govardhana Hill like an umbrella, raising it with His lotus like beautiful hand to protect His associates, the denizens of Vraja, from the torrential rains sent by the angry Indra, King of the demigods. It is also at Govardhana Hill that Krsna tends the cows with His cowherd friends, and there also He had His rendezvous with His most beloved Sri Radha and engaged in loving pastimes with Her. Radha-kunda, at the foot of Govardhana, is superior to all because it is there that love of Krsna overflows. Advanced devotees prefer to reside at Radha-kunda because this place is the site of many memories of the eternal loving affairs between Krsna and Radharani (rati-vilasa).”

Nectar of Instruction, Chapter 9

The best of all places of Krsna’s pastimes is the great garden known as Vrndavana forest. Another important place of the Lord’s pastimes is the beautiful and opulent Govardhana Hill. This Hill is very appropriately named for it nourishes (vardhana) Krsna’s cows (go) with its grasses.

On Govardhana Hill is the cave known as Manikandali and the river-landing place named Nilamandapika. On the Manasa-ganga river is the famous landing place named Paranga. The boat named Suvilasatara remains at this Paranga landing place. Another important place is Nandisvara Hill, Krsna’s home, where the goddess of fortune is personally present.

On Nandisvara Hill is the splendid white stone house where Krsna grew up. This house is named Amodavardhana because it is always filled with (vardhana) the pleasant fragrance (amoda) of incense and other aromatic substances. The lake near Krsna’s home is named Pavana and on its shore there are many groves where the Lord enjoys pastimes. Also near Krsna’s home is the grove named Kama Mahatirtha and the jeweled pathway named Mandara.

The splendid kadamba trees named Kadambaraj and the king of the banyan trees named Bhandira grow in the forest of Vrndavana. On the sandy bank of the Yamuna is the pastime place named Anagaranga-bhu. On the shore of the Yamuna River is the sacred place known as Khela-tirtha, where Lord Krsna eternally enjoys pastimes with His dearmost Srimati Radharani.

Trees, Grass and Flowers

“There were various trees and creepers on all sides of the lake, and there were mad bumblebees humming all about them. The trees appeared to be very jolly due to the sweet humming of the bumblebees, and the saffron, which was contained in the lotus flowers, was being thrown into the air. These all created such an atmosphere that it appeared as though a festival were taking place there.

Purport: “Trees and creepers are also different types of living beings. When bumblebees come upon trees and creepers to collect honey, certainly such plants become very happy. On such an occasion the wind also takes advantage of the situation by throwing pollen or saffron contained in the lotus flowers. All this combines with the sweet vibration created by the swans and the calm of the water.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 4:24:22 Purport

“Accompanied by the cowherd boys and Balarama, Krsna brought forward the cows and played on His flute through the forest of Vrndavana, which was full of flowers, vegetables, and pasturing grass. The Vrndavana forest was as sanctified as the clear mind of a devotee and was full of bees, flowers and fruits. There were chirping birds and clear water lakes with waters that could relieve one of all fatigue. Sweet flavored breezes blew always, refreshing the mind and body. Krsna, with His friends and Balarama, entered the forest and, seeing the favorable situation, enjoyed the atmosphere to the fullest extent. Krsna saw all the trees, overloaded with fruits and fresh twigs, coming down to touch the ground as if welcoming Him by touching His lotus feet. He was very pleased by the behavior of the trees, fruits and flowers, and He began to smile, realizing their desires.

Krsna then spoke to His elder brother Balarama as follows: “My dear brother, You are superior to all of us, and Your lotus feet are worshiped by the demigods. Just see how these trees, full with fruits, have bent down to worship Your lotus feet. It appears that they are trying to get out of the darkness of being obliged to accept the form of trees. Actually, the trees born in the land of Vrndavana are not ordinary living entities. Having held the impersonal point of view in their past lives, they are now put into this stationary condition of life, but now they have the opportunity of seeing You in Vrndavana, and they are praying for further advancement in spiritual life through Your personal association. Generally the trees are living entities in the mode of darkness. The impersonalist philosophers are in that darkness, but they eradicate it by taking full advantage of Your presence.

“It is quite natural for these Vrndavana inhabitants to thus receive a great personality like You. The herbs, creepers and plants are also so fortunate to touch Your lotus feet. And by Your touching the twigs with Your hands, these small plants are also made glorious. As for the hills and the rivers, they too are now glorious because You are glancing at them. Above all, the damsels of Vraja, the gopis, attracted by Your beauty, are the most glorious, because You embrace them with Your strong arms.”

Krsna Book, Chapter 15

“Govinda resides eternally in Vrndavana. In the spiritual world of Vrndavana the buildings are made of touchstone, the cows are known as surabhi cows, givers of abundant milk, and the trees are known as wish-fulfilling trees, for they yield whatever one desires. In Vrndavana Krsna herds the surabhi cows, and He is worshiped by hundreds and thousands of gopis, cowherd girls, who are all goddesses of fortune. When Krsna descends to the material world, this same Vrndavana descends, just as an entourage accompanies an important personage. Because when Krsna comes His land also comes, Vrndavana is not considered to exist in the material world. Therefore devotees take shelter of the Vrndavana in India, for it is considered to be a replica of the original Vrndavana. Although one may complain that no kalpa-vrksa, wish-fulfilling trees, exist there, when the Gosvamis were there, kalpa-vrksa were present. It is not that one can simply go to such a tree and make demands; one must first become a devotee. The Gosvamis would live under a tree for one night only, and the trees would satisfy all their desires. For the common man this may all seem very wonderful, but as one makes progress in devotional service, all this can be realized.”

Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila Introduction


Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

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