Śrīmatī Rādhikā – The Crest Jewel of All Potencies

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Radhakrishna dasa:

Śrīmatī Rādhikā ranks foremost among the aggregation consisting Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s potencies. In the third subsection of Śrī Bhagavat-Sandarbha of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmīpāda, the potent principle is characterized as the perpetual possessor of divine energies – “Atha tadekaṁ tattvaṁ svarūpabhūtayaiva śaktyā kamapi viśeṣaṁ dhartṛparāsāmapi śaktīnāṁ mūlāśrayarūpaṁ tadanubhavānandasandohāntarbhāvitatādṛśabrahmānandānāṁ bhāgavataparamahaṁsānāṁ tathānubhavaikasādhakatamatadīyasvarūpānandaśaktiviśeṣātmakabhaktibhāviteṣvantarbahirapīndriyeṣu parishpuradvā tadvadevaviviktatādṛśaśaktiśaktimattābhedena pratipādyamānaṁ vā bhagavāniti śabdyate //” Simpler rendition of the above quoted excerpt is as follows: “Undertaking some indescribable peculiarity, when a non-dual and felicitous Absolute Truth embraced with its internal energy, begins to illuminate as the substratum of the aggregation of transcendental potencies, by whose realization bhakti – a particular faculty of the hlādīnī-śakti, the paramount of all internal energies – instantly awakens in the hearts of brahmānandī-bhāgavata-paramahaṁsas, and through the potent impact of which bhakti, the bhāgavata-paramahaṁsas are eligible to envision within their external and internal senses permeated by bhakti – the Absolute Truth as the proprietor of its potencies and the multifarious sub-aspects of those potencies such as the divine nomenclature, countenance, attributes, exploits etc. – then the said Absolute Truth is duly known as Bhagavān or the Personality of Godhead.” Furthermore, in Śrī Bhakti-Sandarbha, the characteristics of Śrī Bhagavān are defined as: “pari-pūrṇa-sarva-śakti-viśiṣṭa-bhagavān iti” or “The complete Absolute Truth endowed with all transcendental potencies is designated as Bhagavān.” Elsewhere in the Sandarbhas, an affirmation is given: “tadevaṁ sarvvābhirmilitvā cidacicchaktirbhagavān” orŚrī Bhagavān is duly endowed with the totality of sentient and insentient energies.”

Caitanya-Caritāmṛta (1.2.96) affirms thereby: “kṛṣṇera svarūpa, āra śakti-traya-jñāna / yāṅra haya, tāṇra nāhi kṛṣṇete ajñāna //” - and the subsequent rendition is: “One who knows the real feature of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His three different energies cannot remain ignorant about Him.” Further substantiation is given thus (C.C. 1.2.101 – 103):

(i) “cic-chakti, svarūpa-śakti, antaraṅgā nāma / tāhāra vaibhava ananta vaikuṇṭhādi dhama //”

(ii) “māyā-śakti, bahiraṅgā, jagat-kāraṇa / tāhāra vaibhava ananta brahmāṇḍera gaṇa //”

(iii) “jīva-śakti taṭasthākhya, nāhi yāra anta / mukhya tina śakti, tāra vibheda ananta //”

Translation of the above verses is as follows: “The cit-śakti, which is also called svarūpa-śakti or antaraṇgā-śakti, displays many varied manifestations. It sustains the kingdom of God and its paraphernalia. The external energy, called māyā-śakti, is the cause of innumerable universes with varied material potencies. The marginal potency, which is between these two, consists of the numberless living beings. These are the three principal energies, which have unlimited categories and subdivisions.”

The Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.8) proclaims: “parāsya śaktirvividhaiva śrūyate svābhāvikī jñānabalakriyā ca” or “The innately transcendental and multifarious potency of the Absolute Truth is heard as: 1) Cognitive or Jñāna, 2) Vigorous or bala, and 3) Functional or kriyā.” Śrī Viṣṇu-Purāṇa (1.12.69) also elucidates the three-fold internal potentiality of Lord Kṛṣṇa in the following way: “hlādinī-sandhinī-samvit tvayyekā sarva-samsthitau / hlāda-tāpa-karī miśrā tvayi no guṇa-varjite //”. The same is paraphrased as: “O Lord, You are the support of everything. The three attributes hlādinī, sandhinī and samvit exist in You as one spiritual energy. But the material modes, which cause happiness, misery and mixtures of the two, do not exist in You, for You have no material qualities.” Even Śrī Rādhikopaniṣad found in Ṛg-Veda pronounces parallel: “Evaṁ hi tasya śaktayastvanekadhā. Āhlādinī-sandhinī-jñānecchā-kriyādyā bahuvidhā śaktayaḥ. Tāsvāhlādinī variyasī paramāntaraṅgabhūtā rādhā kṛṣṇena ārādhyate iti rādhā kṛṣṇam samārādhayati sadeti rādhikā gāndharveti vyapadiśyate iti. Asyāḥ eva kāyavyūharūpāḥ gopyo mahiṣyaḥ śrīśceti. Yeyaṁ rādhā yaśca kṛṣṇo rasābhdirdehenaikaḥ krīḍanārthaṁ dvidhā ‘bhūt.” Or “In this way, the energies of Lord Kṛṣṇa are diverse. These variegated potencies are headed by: 1) Felicitous or Āhlādinī, 2) Existential or Sandhinī, 3) Cognitive or Jñāna, 4) Volition or Icchā, and 5) Functional or Kriyā etc. Among these, the Āhlādinī-śakti or the Felicitous Potency is foremost. The said energy is most integrally inherent in Śrī Kṛṣṇa and is known as Śrī Rādhā. The etymological definition of the term Rādhā is twofold: 1) Since She is worshipped by Śrī Kṛṣṇa, She is renowned as Rādhā, and 2) Because Śrī Kṛṣṇa is perfectly worshipped by Her, She holds the designation – Rādhā. She is also indicated by another term: Gāndharvā (this term is found in Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad). The cowherd damsels of Vrajabhūmī, royal queens of Dvārakā, and Lakṣmīdevī of Vaikuṇṭha are the subjective bodily manifestations of Śrīmatī Rādhā only. Though Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Rādhā forming the ocean of transcendental mellows, are one in identity, still they have manifested in two separate forms for the sake of the performance of divine exploits. ” The Rādhikā-Tāpanī Upaniṣad (2, 3, 4, 5, 7, & 9) also extols the glory of Śrī Rādhā thus:

(i) “Śrutayaḥ Ūcuḥ - Sarvāṇi rādhikāyā daivatāni sarvāṇi bhūtāni rādhikāyāstāṁ namāmaḥ”

(ii) “Devatāyatanāni kampante rādhāyā hasanti nṛtyanti ca sarvāṇi rādhādaivatāni / sarvapāpakṣayāyeti vyāhṛtibhirhutvātha rādhikāyai namāmaḥ //”

(iii) “Bhāsā yasyāḥ kṛṣṇadeho ‘pi gauro jāyate devesyendranilaprabhasya / bhṛṅgāḥ kākāḥ kokilāścāpi gaurāstāṁ rādhikāṁ viśvadhātrīṁ namāmaḥ //”

(iv) “Yasyāḥ agamyatāṁ śrutayaḥ sānkhyayogāḥ vedāntāni brahmabhāvaṁ vadanti / na yāṁ purāṇāni vidanti samyak tāṁ rādhikāṁ devadhātrīṁ namāmaḥ //”

(v) “Yasyāḥ reṇuṁ pādayorviśvabharttā dharate mūrdhni rahasi premayuktaḥ / srastaveṇuḥ kabarīṁ na smaredyallīnaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ krītavattu tāṁ namāmaḥ //”

(vi) “Yasyā anke viluṇṭhan kṛṣṇadevo golokākhyaṁ naiva sasmāra dhāmapadaṁ / sāṁśā kamalā śailaputrī tāṁ rādhikāṁ śaktidhātrīṁ namāmaḥ //”

Above quotations are rendered as – “The personified Goddesses of Upaniṣads (Bhagavatayaḥ Śrutayaḥ) acclaimed: The celestial prowess found invested within the demigods and demigoddesses have certainly emanated from the Personality of Śrī Rādhikā. Indeed, all the creatures have their respective existence dependent on Her. When Śrī Rādhā tilts Her angry eyebrows, the demigods tremble in fear, and upon receiving Her grace, they laugh and dance ecstatically. We pay homage unto Her through mystical oration, so that we, the personified Upaniṣads, can remain aloof from all mundane contamination. The sportive Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s icon resembling the complexion of a sapphire, also assumes a golden hue coming into the proximity of Śrī Rādhā’s fair colour. (This indicates the form of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu who is Kṛṣṇa manifesting in a golden form by undertaking the golden complexion of Śrī Rādhā). Even inferior creatures like crows, cuckoos, wasps relinquish their physical darkness of vices and exhibit fairness upon purifying their existence in the association of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. We submit our prostration unto such Śrīmatī Rādhā, who is the maintainer of these universes as well as the Mother of all demigods, and who is the potency of the Supreme Brahman and whose full comprehension cannot be had by us i.e. the Śrutīs, accompanied by Sāṅkhya-Darśanaṁ, Yoga-Darśanaṁ and the Vedānta-Darśanaṁ. The Purāṇas also cannot wholly describe Her principle. In whose affection, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of universe, acting like a purchased slave, looses all apprehension about His personal paraphernalia such as His flute and cowherd-stick, and even smears the foot-dust of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s dual lotus-like feet on His face – unto that Cowherd Maiden, we offer our obeisance. Dangling in whose lap, Śrī Kṛṣṇa fails to recall His personal abode of Goloka Vṛndāvana, and who is the progenitor of all other predominating deities of various potencies including Lakṣmī and Pārvatī i.e. Durgā – unto that Śrī Vārṣabhānavī, we pay our venerations.”

The aforesaid Śrīmatī Rādhikā is known as ‘antaraṅgā-śakti’ and/or ‘svarūpa-śakti’ because of Her forming the integral identity of Para-Brahman Śrī Govindadeva and thus having closest ties with Him; hence, She becomes analogous to the odour of musk (here musk refers to the potent Śrī Kṛṣna and Rādhā as its odour). She is also termed as ‘cit-śakti’ due to Her complete reversal with the inanimate energy in terms of nature, and also because of Her self-illuminating propensity. Because She is par-excellent among all the potencies, the title of ‘parā-śakti’ rightfully befits Her. Again this internal potency displays three faculties of sandhinī, saṁvit, and (ā)hlādinī. Para-brahman is fully saturated with the trio of sat (eternality), cit (knowledge), and ānanda (bliss). This cit-śakti becomes chronologically renowned as sandhini, saṁvit, and hlādinī due to its coalescence with the above mentioned triple attributes of sat, etc. Therefore, Śrī Caitanya Caritamṛta (1.4.61 -62) also corroborates this theme in the following words:

(i) “sac-cid-ānanda, pūrṇa, kṛṣṇera svarūpa / eka-i cic-chakti tāṅra dhare tina rūpa //”

(ii) “ānandāṁśe hlādinī, sad-aṁśe sandhinī / cid-aṁśe samvit — yāre jñāna kari’ māni //”

Above verses are paraphrased as: “Lord Kṛṣṇa’s body is eternal [sat], full of knowledge [cit] and full of bliss [ānanda]. His one spiritual energy manifests three forms. Hlādinī is His aspect of bliss; sandhinī, of eternal existence; and samvit, of cognizance, which is also accepted as knowledge.”

In his thesis Bhagavat-sandarbha (103), Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī explains the potencies of the Lord as follows: “The transcendental potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by which He maintains His existence is called sandhinī. The transcendental potency by which He knows Himself and causes others to know Him is called samvit. The transcendental potency by which He possesses transcendental bliss and causes His devotees to have bliss is called hlādinī.”

Because Śrī Bhagavān is akhaṇḍa-tattva (or the undivided complete whole), His triple intrinsic attributes namely sat, cit, and ānanda are not prone to mutual disassociation. Likewise, the trio of internal potency is also mutually inseparable. As already elucidated, the cit-śakti of Kṛṣṇa is self-luminous which illuminates both itself and the extraneous (viz., tat-itar-padārtha or the sādhaka-bhakta who represents the separated marginal potency) and affiliated (i.e. tat-saṁśliṣṭa-padārtha or Śrī Bhagavān who is the source and shelter of cit-śakti) objects as analogous to the luminous prowess of sun. ‘Viśuddha-sattva’ is an allotted designation for the peculiar self-illuminating faculty of the three-fold internal potency, through which the svarūpa of Śrī Bhagavān and the transformations of its cit-śakti are precisely made manifest. Within viśuddha-sattva, though there is a concurrent expression of the triple sub-categories of cit-śakti (such as sandhinī etc.), still the quantitative manifestation is not in equal proportion. But elsewhere, this trio is displayed in equal order too. When there occurs a prominence of sandhinī-śakti, then the resultant particular form of viśuddha-sattva is publicized as ‘ādhāra-śakti’ – through which the supra-mundane realm of the Lord is manifest. Hence, the affirmation of this is again found in the Atharvavedīya Rādhikopanisāt as: “Sandhinī tu dhāmabhūṣaṇaśayyāsanādimitrabhṛtyādirupeṇa pariṇatā mṛtyulokāvataraṇakāle mātṛpitṛrūpeṇa cā ‘sīdityanekāvatārakāraṇā….” which is rendered as: “The resultant Sandhinī potency is displayed diversely as the transcendental abode, garments, ornaments, cushion, friends, and servitors etc. and the same exhibits itself as the guardians (such as Nanda & Yaśodā etc.) during the descent of the Lord. Indeed, this very potency is the primal cause of all the various incarnations of Godhead.” The same theme has been substantiated by the author of Caitanya-Caritāmṛta as follows (1.4.64-65):

(i) “sandhinīra sāra aṁśa — ‘śuddha-sattva’ nāma / bhagavānera sattā haya yāhāte viśrāma //”

(ii) “mātā, pitā, sthāna, gṛha, śayyāsana āra / e-saba kṛṣṇera śuddha-sattvera vikāra //”

The above passage is translated as: “The essential portion of the sandhinī potency is śuddha-sattva. Lord Kṛṣṇa’s existence rests upon it. Kṛṣṇa’s mother, father, abode, house, bedding, seats and so on are all transformations of śuddha-sattva.”

On the other hand, the particular viśuddha-sattva, which is pervaded by a great particle of cognizance i.e. śamvidaṁśa-pradhāna, is known as ‘ātma-vidyā’. This ‘ātma-vidyā’ diverges into two divisions: 1) Cognition & 2) The stimulant for the cognition. Through the latter, devotee’s knowledge becomes illuminated. C.C. (1.4.67) corroborates the same as:

kṛṣṇe bhagavattā-jñāna — samvitera sāra /brahma-jñānādika saba tāra parivāra //”

It is rendered as: “The essence of the samvit potency is knowledge that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Lord Kṛṣṇa. All other kinds of knowledge, such as the knowledge of Brahman, are its components.”

When the manifestation of hlādinī predominates viśuddha-sattva, then it advertises itself as ‘guhya-vidyā’. The said ‘guhya-vidyā’ is exhibited in double faculties: (1) Bhakti and 2) The stimulant of Bhakti. The transcendentally unadulterated affectionate devotional service viz., premā-bhakti, is highlighted via the agency of the latter faculty. C.C. (2.8.159-160) also elucidates the same as:

(i) “hlādinīra sāra aṁśa, tāra ‘prema’ nāma / ānanda-cinmaya-rasa premera ākhyāna //”

(ii) “premera parama-sāra ‘mahābhāva’ jāni / sei mahābhāva-rūpa rādhā-ṭhākurāṇi //”

The translation is: “The most essential part of this pleasure potency is love of Godhead [prema]. Consequently, the explanation of love of Godhead is also a transcendental mellow full of pleasure. The essential part of love of Godhead is called mahābhāva, transcendental ecstasy, and that ecstasy is represented by Srīmatī Rādhārānī.”

The gist of the above produced philosophical analysis is given in synopsis as follows: “Though Śrī Bhagavān is the very emblem of non-phenomenal existence, the agency through which He artistically sustains His existence, as well as that of others – is known as ‘sandhinī’. Though being the cognition embodied, the potency through which Śrī Bhagavān knows His svarūpa and causes others (i.e. His devotees) to know the same – is designated as ‘samvit’. Though Śrī Bhagavān personifies the principle of felicity, the energy via which He savours the bliss and makes others replete with the same – is duly entitled as ‘hlādinī’. Due to internal hierarchy, this trio receives its chronological three-fold name as: (1) sandhinī (the elementary level), 2) samvit (the intermediate level), and 3) hlādinī (the paramount level). However, when the aforesaid ‘viśuddha-sattva’ displays the triple variegated faculties simultaneously in equal proportion, then it is celebrated as ‘mūrti’. The transcendental deity form of the Lord manifests through the equal admixture of the trio i.e. ‘mūrti’. Lord Śrī Gaurāṅgasundara is the combination of ‘hlādinī-śakti’ i.e. Śrīmatī Rādhā and the ‘śaktimān-tattva’ i.e. Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Thus concludes the essay composed by Radhakrishna dasa (GKG) of ISKCON (aged 26 years) - on Fri. 7th Sep. 2012 A.D. corresponding to 7th Day of the waning fortnight of Puruśottama-Adhika-Māsa of 526 Gaurābda at Śrī Caitanya Sankīrtana Kuṭīra, Vallabha-Vidyānagara, Dist: Ānanda, Gujarāta, Bhārata (India).

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