Bhakti Rasas and Bhavas

The devotion felt to Lord Sri Krishna is expressed using different terms. Below, is a brief given about the various terms.

Bhakti Rasa

Rasa in Sanskrit refers to “essence’ or “juice’. In the context of Bhakti, Rasa means “mellow”. Mellow means “sweet and full flavoured from ripeness, as fruit”. Thus mellow refers to the sweet taste of a fruit, the Rasa or the juice which is the essence of sweet taste. Bhakti Rasa refers to the sweet taste savoured when the body, mind and soul of a bhakta is engaged in transcendental or devotional service of the Lord.

Bhakti Rasa refers to the different states of ecstasy which a bhakta experiences in his height of devotion to the Lord. In bhakti Rasa, the bhakta’s ego is merged with the soul, thus he enjoys the eternal, indivisible, Supreme transcendental bliss of the divine. The self or the Atman reveals itself to the devotee.

Bhakti Bhava, Rati and Prema

Bhava is the essence of Bhakti Rasa. Bhava is a feeling towards Lord Sri Krishna. Bhava is developed when the Bhakti Rasa is devoid of any selfish goals and Tamas and Rajasika thoughts.

Bhakti bhava in an advanced stage is known as Sthayi Bhava, a permanent mood where the mind thinks only about the Lord. This makes the heart pure and the mind is filled with divine thoughts. Sthayi Bhava is characterised by pure Sattva. It is compared to the rays of rising Sun. Just as the rays are part of the Sun, so also the bhava is part of bhakti at an advanced stage.

In the next stage, the devotee gets into the company of saints or fellow bhaktas. All his sins and obstacles are washed away by the single minded thought of Sri Krishna. From constant thinking of the Lord arises Rati, an intense attachment to the Lord and from Rati, Prema is developed. Rati is the deep rooted attachment to the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna. Rati is Sthayi bhava (a permanent sentiment of a particular permanent relationship with Lord Krishna). This will manifest itself as Rasa, the essence of transcendental emotions.

The Sthayi bhava gets expressed in different stages. It is the master of 49 different bhavas. Sthayi bhava is the basis of Bhakti Rasa. When the Sthayi bhava is mixed with various Rasas, it results in emotions such as, Anubhava, Sattvika and Vyabhichari.

Vyabhichari: Vyabhichari is when the various emotions are expressed in words and gestures. There are 33 such emotions also known as Sanchari Bhavas. They are Niveda (self-disparagement), Vishada (despondency), Dainya (abject humility), Glani (sorrow), Srama (exhaustion), Mada (arrogance), Garva (pride), Sanka (doubt), Trasa (fear),’ Avega (impulse), Unmada (raving), Apasmara (forgetfulness), Vyadhi (illness), Moha (loss of sensibility or consciousness), Mrityu (death), Alasya (idleness), Jadya (stupor), Vreeda (shyness), Akaragopani (cloaking one’s own’ real bearings), Smriti (remembrance), Vitarka (wrong argument), Chinta (reflection), Mata (determination), Dhriti (calmness), Harsha (delight), Autsukya (solicitude), Ugrata (ferocity), Amarsha (impatience), Asuya (jealousy), Chapalata (fickle- ness), Nidra (sleep), Supti (sleepiness) and Bodha (waking or knowing).

Sattvika: It is one of the essential ingredients of bhakti Rasas. It refers to the moods when the heart of the bhakta is overwhelmed by the emotions with respect to the relationship with Lord Sri Krishna. Sattvika bhava is characterised by pure chitta, as the mind of the devotee is filled with pure chitta, due to the constant devotion to the Lord.

There are eight Sattvika Bhavas; Stambha (paralysis), Sveda (perspiration), Romancha (horripilation), Svarabhanga (hoarseness of voice), Vepathu (trembling), Vaivarnya (change of colour), Asru (tears) and Pralaya (loss of consciousness).

Anubhava: Anubhava refers to the actions that display or reveal the spiritual emotions of the heart. Anubhava is an expression of emotions by way of dance, song, laughter etc. There are thirteen Anubhavas:

1) nritya (dancing), 2) vilunthita (rolling on the ground), 3) gita (singing), 4) krosana (loud crying), 5) tanu-motana (writhing of the body), 6) hunkara (roaring), 7) jrimbhana (yawning), 8) svasa-bhua (breathing heavily), 9) loka-anapeksita (giving up concern for public image), 10) lalasrava (salivating), 11) atta-hasa (loud laughter), 12) ghurna (staggering about), and 13) hikka (a fit of hiccups).

Raga/Ragatmika Bhakti

Raga bhakti is love of God, with passionate attachment to Him. Raga Bhakti is pure love for God for God’s sake. There is no expectation from God. Gopis of Vrindavan had developed Raga bhakti for Sri Krishna. When Sri Krishna moved to Mathura, the Gopis searched for Him everywhere and wept bitterly because of separation from Him. Bhakti filled with Raga, is called as Ragatmika Bhakti. A devotee who cultivates Ragatmika Bhakti is known as Raga- Anuraga. A Raga Anuraga bhakta has an intense longing for Lord Sri Krishna. He is absorbed in only one thought- Lord Sri Krishna. Ragatmika bhakti is profoundly found in people of Vrindavan.

Ragatmika bhakti is cultivated in two ways- external and internal. In External Ragatmika, a devotee is involved in offering puja to the Lord, reciting shlokas of his Ishta Devta and is engaged in Samarana and Satsang. In internal Ragatmika, the bhakta considers himself as identical with Lord Krishna or Radha of Vrindavan and keeps himself busy serving Lord Krishna day and night. The bhakta imagines himself to be close to his beloved Lord and spends day and night at His service. The bhakta considers Lord Krishna as his friend, God, child, father etc and constantly thinks about the Lord and considers all his acts as an act of serving the Lord. By thinking of the Lord day and night, the devotee is blessed with infinite wealth- divine bliss. The devotee quenches his thirst for the love of the Lord by drinking the Rasamritha of Lord Krishna, and by reading the pastimes of Sri Krishna and reciting shlokas.

Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga, Anuraga and Maha Bhava

Sthayi Bhava at an advanced stage makes the heart of the devotee melt for the Lord. This bhava is known as Sneha. When the Sneha Bhava advances to the next stage, it is known as Mana. Pranaya is a stage where the devotee considers himself as one with the Lord. Raga is a state when the devotee happily undergoes suffering for the sake of his beloved Lord. Anuraga is a state when the devotee feels happiness or sweetness in the thought of his beloved Lord. Maha bhava is the highest state where the individual consciousness is lost in God consciousness.

Prema or the love for God takes different forms such as Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga, Anuraga, Bhava and Maha-Bhava. When the Maha Bhava is mixed with Vibhava and Anubhava, it results in Krishna Bhakti Rasa. Sthayi Bhava when mixed with Rasa, results in four types of Bhavas: Vibhava, Anubhava, Sattvika and Vyabhichari. While Vibhava is the cause of the Rasa, Anubhava is the effect of the Rasa. Sanchari bhava is auxiliary to Rasa. Vibhava and Anubhava are the external factors which contribute to the manifestation of Rasa, or help to cultivate Sthayi bhava. Sattvika Bhavas are the result of practice of bhakti Bhava and Rasas.

Sthayi Bhava and Vibhava

Sthayi Bhava is a permanent mood of Rasa, an intense attachment to the Lord. Vibhava is the stimulus or when the Rati in a devotee is awakened or causes Rati. In other words, Vibhava is the cause for tasting Bhakti Rasa. Vibhava is of two kinds: Alambana and Uddipana. Alambana is the personal or the human object which is of two kinds: Vishaya Alambana and Asraya Alambana. Vishaya Alambana is the Lord Himself for whom the Rati is felt and Asraya Alambana is the Krishna Bhaktas or the devotees in whom the Rati dwells.

Uddipana refers to the excitants. Excitants are Sri Krishna’s qualities, deeds, His foot-marks, Tulasi etc. Uddipana are the emotions which awakens Rati for Sri Krishna. There are five kinds of Rati: Santa Rati, Dasya Rati, Sakhya Rati, Vatsalya Rati and Madhura Rati.

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