Festival of Śrī Nanda Mahārāja

BY: ISVARA DASA - 14.9 2023

From the book Vaktrtavali, by His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada.

The conceptions of viśaya and āśraya in spiritual rasa:

Of all the devotees who express happiness at the appearance of Lord Krishna, who is the embodiment of complete bliss and transcendental rasa (raso vai saḥ) , Śrī Nanda is principal. The word nanda means "happiness."

The āśraya of śānta-rasa:

Lord Krishna is worshiped in His eternal abode as the object of the five kinds of rasas, or relationships. When He is the viśaya of śānta-rasa, His āśrayas are the cows, stick, horn, flute, the banks of the Yamunā, and so on. These objects worship Krishna unknowingly, meaning, they do not know who they are serving. Lord Krishna is tending the cows, milking them, and driving them with a stick. Sometimes He plays His flute and sometimes He walks in the sand on the banks of the Yamunā River. All these sticks and cows and sandy banks help satisfy Krishna's senses, but they do not understand what they are doing.

Kṛṣṇa niṣṭhā tṛṣṇā tyāga śāntera dui gune: the two qualities of śānta-rasa are attachment to Krishna and the renunciation of the thirst for material enjoyment. When a living being becomes free from his thirst for material enjoyment and realizes that Krishna exists, but nothing more, he is in śānta-rasa. The sages worship śānta-rasa. They study books like the Upaniṣads and become brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā.

But when they become fixed on the Superconscious by relinquishing their absorption in matter, and as a result, in their pure spiritual feelings they realize that their nature is similar to the Supreme Lord's, they consider themselves equal to the Lord to some extent. Since at that time they do not develop affection for the Supreme Lord, they think themselves one with the eternal āśraya or the viśaya. When someone sees a person entering a hillside forest filled with different kinds of trees, he may imagine that person merging with the forest rather than understanding what has actually happened – the person remaining an individual and enjoying the beauty of the individual trees. The actual truth is invisible to the observer: the seer, the process of seeing, and the object being seen have remained intact. Similarly, because people who follow the path of dry argument and see only from the world below Brahmaloka don't understand the varieties present in Vaikuṇṭha, they imagine the nondual substance as formless. Therefore śānta-rasa is the first stage of relationship with the Supreme Lord, the platform the living beings attain after their material miseries are destroyed. Those on this platform have no independence or anything similar to independence, but they are happy because they are untouched by matter. Still, on that platform there is no direct relationship between the sādhaka and the Supreme Lord.

The āśraya of dāsya-rasa:

The second rasa is dāsya-rasa. One experiencing this rasa feels affection for the Lord. He says, "I am a servant, and the Supreme Lord is my eternal master. It is the natural propensity of a spirit soul is to gratify the Lord's senses." These are the symptoms of dāsya-rasa. The shelter of dāsya-rasa is the group of servants headed by Raktaka, Patraka, Citraka, Bakula, and so on.

The shelter of sakhya-rasa:

The third rasa is sakhya-rasa. This rasa is of two kinds: sakhya with awe and reverence and sakhya with love and affection. The thorn of awe and reverence is present in both dāsya-rasa and the first form of sakhya-rasa. The nature of awe and reverence is that it distances the viśaya from the āśraya. Krishna's cowherd boyfriends belong to the platform of sakhya-rasa with love and devotion, and they climb on Krishna's shoulders, feed Krishna food they have already tasted, and don't hesitate to fight with Krishna. They have a mood of superiority toward Krishna.

The shelter of vātsala-rasa:

Again, as sakhya-rasa is superior to dāsya-rasa, so vātsalya-rasa is superior to sakhya-rasa. In the world it seems that for parents, their child is dearer and more pleasing to them than all their child's friends. Nanda and Yaśodā enjoy this rasa.

Aiśvarya and mādhurya-rasa:

The object of aiśvarya-rasa is Lord Nārāyaṇa, husband of Lakṣmīdevī, and the supreme object of mādhurya-rasa is Lord Krishna. In the thin love of aiśvarya Krishna feels no satisfaction. The followers of aiśvarya-rasa think that if they have a mood of love and affection toward the Lord, their service will slacken. This is not a fact. Service with love and affection is more intense and brings one closer to the object of one's love.

The desire for liberation is insignificant compared to love of God:

But some people, without understanding these high subjects about the kingdom of the self, think that freedom from the three kinds of excessive distress, liberation from matter, or searching after impersonal Brahman are the goal of life. By seeing the abomination of material variegatedness they imagine spiritual variegatedness similarly lacking or incomplete. Some of them even imagine that rasas like dāsya and sakhya are stages before attaining impersonal realization. Śrīman Mahāprabhu has referred to these people as fools. What to speak of freedom from the material world, which is like begging a morsel of food from an emperor, thousands of goddesses of liberation fall at the devotees' feet, begging to serve them, but the devotees don't even bother to look at them.

The condition and destination of those who desire material enjoyment and liberation:

The whole world is full of people who desire material enjoyment and liberation. The goal of the living beings under the spell of mental speculation is either enjoyment or liberation. But Śrī Gaurasundara said,

jīvera 'svarūpa' haya—kṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa'
kṛṣṇera 'taṭasthā-śakti' 'bhedābheda-prakāśa'

kṛṣṇa bhuli' sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha
ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha

"It is the living entity's constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord.

"By forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the living entity has become materialistic since time immemorial. Therefore the illusory energy of Kṛṣṇa is giving him different types of miseries in material existence." (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.116-117)

Renunciates hate material enjoyers. But although the goal of renunciants and material enjoyers appears diametrically opposed, they are actually the same. Sense enjoyers cannot control their greed to enjoy an apparently delicious fried rice mixed with poison, so they eat it and fall into the lap of death. The renunciates bring about their ruination by abstaining from eating that rice.

For example, two persons have boils and approach different doctors. One doctor fans the boil, providing temporary relief, and then sends his patient home. The other tells his patient, "If I operate and remove the boil, it may return, but if I kill you, then you will never again suffer from another boil." Saying this the doctor slits his patient's throat and destroys him forever. Similarly, karmīs want to indulge in material enjoyment both in this life and the next, and impersonalist jñānīs aim for nirvāṇa or to merge into Brahman. Their nirvāṇa is of two kinds: a nirvāṇa with feelings and a nirvāṇa without feelings. Nirvāṇa without feelings means becoming inert, like matter, and this is the aim of Śākhya Siṁha. Nirvāṇa with feelings, or realization of only the spirit, is the aim of the Māyāvādīs who follow Śaṅkara. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.32–33) says,

ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ
tathā na te mādhava tāvakāḥ kvacid
bhraśyanti mārgāt tvayi baddha-sauhṛdāḥ
tvayābhiguptā vicaranti nirbhayā
vināyakānīkapa-mūrdhasu prabho

"O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet. O Mādhava, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord of the goddess of fortune, if devotees completely in love with You sometimes fall from the path of devotion, they do not fall like nondevotees, for You still protect them. Thus they fearlessly traverse the heads of their opponents and continue to progress in devotional service."

The devotee never perishes. Bhagavad-gīta (9.31) tells us, na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: "My devotee never perishes."

Today is the day for the king of devotees, Nanda Mahārāja, to express his happiness. Because the Supreme Lord, who is fully sac-cid-ānanda, always resides in Nanda's body, he is also full of bliss, and that is why his name is Nanda.

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