Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pratah Stava: Preface

Pratah Stava: Composed by Shri Nimbarkacharyaji and interpretation by highly revered Usha Bahenji

The moment people saw the brilliant boy born to Aruna Rishi and Jayanti Devi, on the banks of the sacred Godavari in Vaiduryapattnam village, of Andhra Pradesh, they were certain he was God Incarnate in the eleventh century A.D. The avatara or incarnation of the Sudarshan Chakra, the discus of Lord Krishna and member of the parikar (attendants of the Lord), Niyamanand,was soon famed as Acharya Nimbarka. Founder of the dvaita advaita theory, he became a widely revered spiritual teacher.

Child Niyamanand had great love for Braj right from the start. Moved by their son's exquisite longing, his parents came and resided in Neem Village, nestled in the lowlands of Giriraj.

The manifestation of Shri Audumbracharyaji and sighting the Sun God behind a neem tree while attending to the needs of a sacred guest, are amazing incidents of his rare persona; that led to his being addressed as Acharya Shri Nimbarka.


The theory of dvaita advaita is based on the innate bheda abheda connection between the individual soul and Brahma, the all-pervading spirit of the universe. Both exist simultaneously, but one comes from the other. Brahma is all pervasive, and the manifest individual is its tiny fragment. Brahma and the individuated soul are simultaneously one and different;coexisting precisely like the tree and its leaf, the lamp and its light, the senses and life, each equally important for the existence of the other.

Shudha Advaita or pure non-dualism maintains that the material world is a manifestation of Brahman and as such is true, and not illusory or maya. It is possible that the ordinary life here is conceived of as a parallel with the other, cosmic life of Krishna. Dvaita or Krishna's double identity reveals him as being very much in and of this world but yet above it, a mere mortal in love with the gopis of Vrindavana but essentially divine, sensuous but also pointing to the spiritual aspect of romantic love.

For us in the Indian tradition, shringara rasa is considered the peak of human emotions; enflaming union of the soul with the divine. An outpouring of romantic love towards an intimate a and a personal god, made bhakti shringara personal and universal at the same time; taking us to the very heart of the love of Radha and Krishna.

There is no greater symbol to denote the longing of the soul in its quest for the divine than the longing of the nayika for her beloved. Radha's characterization in the literature of the Gaudiyas, embodies the highest religious rapture experienced through madhura rasa or the sentiment of sweet romance. Krishna's consort, Shri Radha, the source of all shaktis or feminine manifestations of cosmic energy, becomes the primal Goddess.

She is exalted as the blissful energy or hladini shakti of Krishna. In this position, it is Radha who is the principal idol of devotion and the symbol of divine love. In this more demonstrative Vaishnava tradition, Krishna is not an end in itself but devotion is to be expressed and experienced in the union of the lover and the beloved, Radha and Krishna.

Radha's re-configuration therefore becomes necessary, as love requires not only the self but equally the object of love for its expression. Radha and her companions represent the ideal paradigmatic personae that provide the role model for the heightened experience of devotional ecstasy.

Shri Radha-Krishna's madhura rasa or sentiment of sweet romance unfolds in idyllic and sensuous Vrindavana. The kunjas-nikunjas (bowers) and forest environs provide the perfect setting for their sweet love; fragrant sandalwood winds intoxicate the mind, bees dancing around lotus pollen sing a love song, peacocks dance in ecstasy, birds sing passionately and blossoms bloom affectionately. Romantically dallying in these verdant groves, Shyama-Shyam are constantly absorbed in amorous frolics, along with the passionate sakhis, their kayavyuhas or replications.

Even though the abundance of intimately passionate love-exchanges is not attainable for Shri Radha-Krishna. This sublimation of sensual feelings to spiritual desire in a land of highly restrictive social constraints makes them assume the guise of dvaita or double identity in advaita or non-dualism. (How can a sensually charged romantic love exist between the earthly gopis and a celestial Krishna.) Krishna's yogmaya or the shakti of his yoga helps the duo be human at one level and divine at another. Raas Karvavat Keli.

Exalting Shri Radha, Lord Krishna's hladini shakti resplendent in his left portion, Bhagwan Nimbarka endorsed the tradition of propitiating the Yugal or Shri Radha-Krishna as a sacred couple on an equal footing. Thus the Vaishnava World is indebted to him forever.

The Brahmavaivarta Purana, describes Radha as a consort of Krishna in the heavenly sphere called golok, who was destined to come to earth reborn as a milkmaid and be re-united with Krishna. But the honour of presenting Shri Radha-Krishna within dvaita advaita goes to Shri Nimbarkacharyaji Maharaj.

The Pratah Stava reveals the enthused exultation of the Acharya steeped in Shri Radha-Krishna's love: Where the romantic dalliance of these gopis, constant closeness of Priyaji (Radha) and the enchanted denizens of Vraja are madhur or sweet, serious and extraordinary. Propagating Yugal Rasupasana (worship of the most intimate transcendental exchanges of Shri Radha-Krishna) to make it easily accessible for like-minded devotees, has been the prime purpose of the manifestation of Acharya Nimbarka.

Highly revered Usha Bahenji had madhurya bhakti enrapturing her right from the start. An unprecedented great saint, whose every thought was absorbed in the rasa madhuri of Priya-Priyatam. She was exquisitely desire of union with Shri Radha-Krishna in her daily regime.

Invariably Priya-Priyatam sporting in the rippling waves of the sacred Yamuna, would manifest for her.The constant closeness of Shri Radha-Krishna and their amorous frolics in the nikunjas of river banks was her wish. An ardent longing for playful dalliances of the Braj cowherdesses tugged her. Ushaji reached the deeper ecstasies of devotion by the Yugal Madhuri (sweet romance of Shri Radha-Krishna) in the caverns of Giriraj.

An unprecedented incidence in her life was the manifestation of a sakhi belonging to the nitya parikar (attendants of the daily divine play of the Lord), urged by Shyama-Shyam. A lila related to Shri Rang Devi,out of the several bequeathed by that sakhi, is mentioned at the end of the text.. Acharya Nimbarkacharya is believed to be the avatara or incarnation of Shri Rang Devi belonging to the sakhi parikar of Nikunja Upasana (worship of Shri Radha-Krishna in nikunjas or bowers where they fix their tryst.)

Revered Bahenji was a rare persona in the new millennium of unprecedented prosperity, constantly absorbed in the romantic dalliance of Priya-Priyatam. She never imposed her thoughts but firmly grounded in the Krishna cult and path of union with the divine, gave befitting esteem to all sampradayas or sects.

Delightfully savouring the conscientious work of Shri Nimbarkacharyaji, she bestowed these dalliances to us through her verbal narration and write-ups; which eager individuals secured on the pretext of a compilation. I am striving to gather these moments of elation and ecstasy in a book form, to present her boon to dedicated devotees, bhaktas and the rasikas of Shri Radha-Krishna lilas.

In the Pratah Stava, we have the sequence of Shri Nimbarkacharyaji's sensitive perception along with Usha Bahenji's constant immersion in the same divine play of Shri Radha-Krishna, which is presented to the reader in the compiled stotras or hymns of praise.

The pivotal concept of this text is delving into madhur rasa or the sentiment of sweet romance. Ujjavala rasa or erotic love rises from mere sensuality to spirituality when rasa madhuri is percieved through the perspective of a competent guru absorbed in nitya lila. The exercise proves highly beneficial as it lifts romantic love to divine heights.

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