Who says Sri Sri Radha Partha-sarathi is rasa-bhasa?
By Kesava Krsna dasa
The subject of Sri Sri Radha Partha-sarathi has mystified many devotees. When one reads the Nectar Of Devotion and learns a little about contradictory mellows, one invariably thinks about it, then scours for recollections of examples of rasa-bhasa and happens upon a major question mark – Sri Sri Radha Partha-sarathi – but think “No. It cannot be.”
Many devotees are unable to explain or even answer question arising out of curiosity concerning the deities. Indeed, during Srila Prabhupada’s time some of his disciples questioned him with the inclusion of words like “isn’t it rasa-bhasa?” And today some still retain a niggling doubt, while others think this is still the case. What is the truth of the matter?
Firstly, we have to understand and be convinced that Srila Prabhupada was conversant with all facets of devotional knowledge. Any nagging uncertainty in an individual will give an impaired judgment on Srila Prabhupada’s ability to tell compatible from incompatible. It will further reduce him to the level of a moderately realized soul who misunderstood some finer points of rasa. The matter will stay unresolved and the persistent question mark will encourage bouts of why! What if? And could it be?
Here is an attempt to eliminate any trace of suspicion simply by using Srila Prabhupada’s own words. There is no resorting to conjecture either. This seemingly bold and audacious transcendental combination of Sri Sri Radha Partha-sarathi will be seen as an ingredient of Srila Prabhupada’s internal mood thus enhancing our appreciation of him even more.
Everything Srila Prabhupada did was systematic and consistent with his inner mood. The case of Sri Sri Radha Partha-sarathi certainly fits in. Unfortunately, some individuals look at certain things he did or wrote, in isolation, and extrapolate some conclusion quite contrary to his overall mood. The example of Sri Sri Krsna-Balarama in Vrndavana stands out and will be discussed in another article.
A pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada is not always understood. But his writings tell of a fully understood grasp of matters simple and arcane. He writes in [NOD page 392]: “….in the mixture of various mellows, or reciprocations of ecstatic love between Krsna and the devotees, if the results are not pure there will be incompatibility.” His purity of purpose discounts any thought Sri Sri Radha Partha-sarathi was an arbitrary combination. On the same page he says: “Srila Rupa Goswami warns devotees to not commit such incompatibilities in their writings or in their dealings. The presence of such contradictory feelings is called rasa-bhasa.”
It is known that when Sri Krsna is in Dvaraka He is Sri Dvarakadisha. All the Yadus and Pandavas with their extended family members reside there eternally. It is also known from books like Brhad-Bhagavatamrta that in spite of Lord Krsna’s loving exchanges with the Dvaraka-vasis, His optimum mood is that of the Vraja-vasis and the land of Sri Vrndavana. [NOD page 389] states: “….a rasa which is actually prominent may sometimes appear to be manifested in a subordinate way, although its actual position is as the main or prominent loving feeling of a devotee.”
As such the exclusivity of an individual’s relationship with Krsna cannot impinge on another. [TLC page 312] says: “Thus the gopis of Vrndavana do not like to see Krsna as the husband of Rukmini, nor do they address Him as Rukmini-ramana.” These distinctions need to be understood in terms of Krsna’s names and personality. On the same page we find this: “Although the husband of Rukmini and Radha’s Krsna are on the same level in the ordinary sense, still, in the spiritual world, the names indicate different understandings of various aspects of Krsna’s transcendental personality.”
If names are all important, Srila Prabhupada had to be rooted in a solid relationship with Krsna to enable him to unite Sri Partha-sarathi with Srimate Radharani, even if an overlapping of mellows helped to achieve the desired outcome. In [NOD page 383] it is said: “Very often, in addition to one’s regular rasa, there is found the presence of some other rasa, and the mixture of these loving humors is sometimes compatible, or palatable, and sometimes incompatible, or unpalatable.”
In the same context Srila Prabhupada says this: “According to the opinion of all expert devotees, anything that will arouse ecstatic love for Krsna is to be taken as an impetus for transcendental mellow.” [NOD page 399] If such mixtures can sometimes arouse spiritual emotions, we can link this with Srila Prabhupada’s action.
We have to look at the names again. Krsna outside of Vrndavana is Vasudeva Krsna who has unlimited other names befitting His innumerable activities. Srila Prabhupada does not choose any other name but Sri Partha-sarathi. Why? [BG, 1, 15] purport states: “His name is Partha-sarathi because He worked as the charioteer of His friend Arjuna.”
But still, how can Partha-sarathi mix with Radha? This same Partha-sarathi spoke the Bhagavad-gita, synchronizing all the many diverse meanings of the Vedas into a coherent unit which may give Him an aura of aloofness, grandeur, irreproachability and awe. But Srila Prabhupada considered the friendly side of Krsna, which can make unification compatible.
Here are some unyielding clues which tell us what Srila Prabhupada’s inner mood is. While in Kuruksetra the gopis feelingly implored Lord Krsna to return to V4rndavana; [Krsna book pages 702-3] says: “They [gopis] immediately invited Krsna to come back to Vrndavana. This transcendental emotional existence of the gopis is the basic principle of Lord Chaitanya’s teachings. The Ratha-yatra festival observed by Lord Chaitanya is the emotional process of taking Krsna back to Vrndavana.”
In [TLC page 117] on the subject of service to the Lord, Srila Prabhupada writes: “Lord Krsna also confirmed this in the most confidential instruction in Bhagavad-gita, wherein He tells Arjuna:
Manamana bhava mad bhakto
Mad-yaji mam namaskuru
Mam-evaisyasi satyam te
Pratijane priyo ‘si me
“Always think of me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.” [BG 18.65]
We should take special note of what Srila Prabhupada writes next. “Such a direct instruction from Krsna is more important than any Vedic instruction or even regulative principle.” Here Srila Prabhupada is hinting at spontaneous devotion in regards to this verse, giving us a direction. Where is it leading to? Srimate Radharani of course! Sri Partha-sarathi is directing us this way. Perhaps when we study Bhagavad-gita we should do likewise.
Now Srila Prabhupada’s bringing Sri Partha-sarathi to Srimate Radharani is more important than any Vedic instructions or regulative principles. He wants Partha-sarathi to relinquish His charioteer role and whatever chivalry there was and just come to Sri Vrndavana to be with Radha.
To further convince us, we read in the BG purport to the same verse: “These words stress that one should concentrate his mind upon Krsna – the very form with two hands carrying a flute, the bluish boy with a beautiful face and peacock feathers in His hair.” A little later this is said: “One should fix his mind on this original form of Godhead, Krsna. One should not even divert his attention to another form of the Lord.”
In analyzing this combination we have to conclude that there is a mixture, but a favorable one. Out of all the permutations in mixing of the various relationships, only one fits what Srila Prabhupada did. Srila Prabhupada’s inner temperament can be discerned thus: “With the ecstasy of devotion in conjugal love a mixture of laughter and fraternity is compatible.” [NOD page 384] That is, Sri Radha in Madhurya mixing with the fraternal side of Sri Partha-sarathi who advocates spontaneous devotion in verse [BG 18.65]
Furthermore, the mixture is dominated by Srila Prabhupada’s internal mood or permanent ecstasy – that of service to Sri Radha, and is taken as the whole, while the fraternal side of Sri Partha-sarathi moves to the background, or is dissolved as it were, and is considered the part.
Despite all this evidence, if one still feels that what Srila Prabhupada did was rasa-bhasa, or something out of the ordinary, he quotes Srila Jiva Goswami: “Srila Jiva Goswami comments in this connection [of perverted mellows] that such a loving state of mind is not possible for all. It is possible only in the case of the gopis of Vrndavana.” Perhaps this gives a clue to who Srila Prabhupada is. One thing is certain though, he knew these things.
Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa – GRS.
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