(The below is an excerpt from Srila Jagadananda Pandita’s ‘Sri Prema Vivarta‘ that explains the meaning of divine love and its exalted characteristics)
Enquiries of Sri Raghunatha Das Goswami
One day Sri Raghunatha asked Swaroop Damodara,” What is Divine Love? Please give me a general perception of it. I cannot comprehend the ecstatic divine love described by Vidyapati and Chandidasa.
Their words externally come across as nothing more than the ordinary love between a man and a woman.
Why is that love recognized as being spiritual? And why do they refer to this mundane lust as divine?
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu continually sings their songs with you, but I do not comprehend them.
The Lord has entrusted me in your hands and instructed you,’ Teach him (Raghunatha) the precious confidential truths’ “.
What is the truth of divine Love ?
(Raghunatha continued) “Please help me realize the nature of divine Love. My doubts shall be dispelled and I shall remain ever thankful to you”.
Swaroop Damodara replied ,”O brother Raghunatha Das! I shall confidentially reveal this truth to you.
Neither I nor Ramananda Raya nor Gadadhara Pandita fully comprehend the divine truth that Lord Gauranga embodies.
However, if Lord Gaurachandra, being merciful, controls my tongue and makes me reveal the confidential truths about Himself ,only then can you be convinced that the highest truth has been unveiled to you. And then you shall experience unalloyed bliss.
Know without any doubts that the songs of Chandidasa, Vidyapati ,Krishna Karnamrita and the works of Ramananda Raya as well, are peerless scriptures containing no traces of lust. They are storehouses of love and by nature are divine.
All the descriptions of men and women contained within them are mere analogies. Krishna can never be found within the descriptions of mundane lust; hence know these descriptions to be transcendental to the material world.
If anyone – be it a man or a woman – if that person takes pleasure in enjoying their material body, they can never understand this truth of divine love. A so-called Guru who professes to be Krishna and who does not understand these truths of divine love, his worship is merely a trick of Maya (illusory potency of the Lord).
Love for Krishna
Swaroop Damodara continued, “Love for Krishna is perfectly pure, just like the stainless Ganges water. This love is like an ocean of nectar. Within such pure love, there does not exist even the most trivial touch of mundanity. It is just like white linen which is free from even a single drop of ink.
Pure love of Krishna is an ocean of bliss. I have but received only one drop of it and this drop is capable of inundating the entire world. Loving the material body is only a form of lust and this does not unveil one’s pure spiritual form.
Those who are blinded by carnal desires are far from pure spiritual love. Know for certain that those who still cast their tears are only making a show of their fortune.
One who has received love for Krishna, experiences sensations that are completely spiritual. Their gestures, delights, emotions have spiritual forms and manifest within their spiritual bodies.
All glories to Lilasuka, Bilvamangala Thakura. Lord Krishna appeared before him and bestowed upon him the divine mellows of Vrindavana. Krishna was greatly satisfied when he gave up his bodily desires and developed an aversion towards material belongings.
Sri Vidyapati and Chandidasa abandoned their previously distorted notions about transcendental mellows and thereafter gained an understanding of divine love. Rejecting the trivial pleasures of their past life and becoming captivated by divine love, they achieved loving service unto Krishna.
Those who are enamored by crude material pleasures, do not achieve the essence of devotion unto Krishna and the sight of Krishna, playing upon His flute, does not become the objective of their lives. Let lightning strike upon the heads of those who are always busy decorating and pampering their body. They live like insects.
One who discards these trivial crude pleasures and instead worships Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaj, and meditates upon the form of Krishna playing upon His flute – such great souls eventually obtain the bodies of Vraja Gopis who swiftly rush towards the forests of Vrindavana, forsaking all their previous associations”.
Mahaprabhu confirms this in His shloka (verse)
“ ‘I do not possess even a trace of love for Sri Krishna. Yet I only cry to make a show of great fortune. Not catching a glimpse of Krishna, playing upon His flute, I continue with my meaningless insect-like life (that is only waiting to rush into the flames and die)’ ”.
No one understands divine love except the Gopis of Vrindavana
(Swaroop Damodara continued) “Everyone says ‘Love, Love, Love’, but who really knows what love is? One who really understands love becomes a damsel in Vrindavana.
The word ‘piriti’ consisting of three syllables (pi,ri,ti) is celebrated throughout the world. Whoever is affected by it becomes completely obsessed with it and grows oblivious to shame or disrepute in this world.
Becoming a Vraja Gopi (damsel of Vrindavana) and contemplating upon their spiritual bodies, they forsake all connections with the mundane. Paramour love fosters when the lover and the beloved are pure.
Paramour love is absent anywhere but in Vrindavana. Paramour relationship is even incompatible with Lakshmi devi (between Lakshmi and Narayana) in Vaikuntha”.
The love of the Sahajiyas
“There are men and women in this world (sahajiyas) who misinterpret their lust for each other as divine love. They suffer perpetually in hell for associating the divine love to their bodies of flesh and blood.
However, when these souls attain Krishna’s mercy treading the natural path of devotion, they grow disgusted with their material body, their mundane senses and instead rush towards achieving the nectarean mellows of ecstatic spiritual service”.
Ramananda Raya’s love
(Swaroop Damodara continued) “Ramananda Raya practices natural and authentic devotion unto Krishna. His service is perfectly regulated. Though he owns a material body, yet he is perfectly withdrawn from matter.
Having received the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he worships Lord Krishna in Vrindavana in his pure spiritual body. And he teaches the maidservants of Jagannatha to enact plays but he remains free from any intimate association with them”.
Who is qualified to be educated in divine love ?
“No one has this qualification to teach the subject of divine love other than Ramananda Raya. Know for certain that one who yearns at heart to see, touch or serve another’s wife is never qualified to learn the confidential truths of divine love”.
Developing divine love is impossible for one who identifies a person as a man or a woman
The wealth of divine love never exists in the affairs of men and women in this world. The pleasures of the flesh are temporary and transient and have no relation to eternity.
One who cultivates the mood of the Gopis (damsels) of Vrindavana and acts according to his/her spiritual nature, is eligible to cultivate divine love. That person is no longer involved in the exchanges between men and women and lives privately in the mood of the gopis of Vrindavana.
Externally they act virtuously and adhere to scriptural regulative injunctions while they live. Internally they cultivate the mood of gopis and always serve Krishna within their heart. Their love is only reserved for Krishna.
Verses such as ‘yah-Kaumarah-harah’ within poems are simply used as analogies. The hero and heroine mentioned in these poems exist on a spiritual platform. They serve Krishna purely and unreservedly.
Considering this divine love to be mundane is a deception by Kali Yuga and a certain way to hell
“If one says that loving another man is a way to serve Krishna, then on the strength of the instructions of Sri Chaitanya I do not accept their statement. I consider such a worldly notion to be hellish.
Spirit and the material body make a very bad combination and associating love for Krishna with the material body is very wicked.
Know for certain that this is simply a deception by Kali-yuga and it leads to the degradation of the pure concepts of Vaishnava religion.
Only a fortunate soul understands these analogies presented in the scriptures (not taking them literally) and worships Krishna in their pure spiritual bodies.
Chandidasa, Vidyapati, and the other great souls had rejected their previous misconceptions and had taken to the practice of devotional service.
These great souls conclude that the highest realization is divine love that exists in the realm of transcendence. Yet the miscreants and the offenders never realize it.
O Raghunatha! Please consider this subject carefully. Devotees, such as yourself, should preach the correct means of practice and propagate the proper codes of conduct.
You should ask the Lord about this matter and fix your mind and heart on achieving this end”.
Then Raghunatha das approached the holy feet of the Lord and asked Him about the matter.
Lord Chaitanya then awarded Raghunatha permission (to practice and propagate the proper codes of conduct while executing devotional service) and this happened in front of me (Jagadananda Pandita). Having obtained the permission of the Lord, Raghunatha engaged in devotion with a joyful heart.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s instructions to Raghunatha das Goswami
Sri Chaitanya instructed Raghunatha, “Do not attend mundane talks, do not engage in frivolous discussions. Do not eat fancy food or wear fancy clothes.
Staying humble and offering respect unto others, constantly chant Krishna’s holy names. Always contemplate serving Radha and Krishna in the mood of Vrindavana, in the core of your heart”.
Receiving these instructions, Sri Raghunatha das realized that pure love of God can never be cultivated without transcending the realm of matter.
(Sri Chaitanya continued) “Contemplate on your spiritual form in your heart. In that spiritual body, serve the worshipable Lord of Radharani.
Don’t expect any respect for yourself but offer your respect unto others. Be humble and tolerant like a tree.
In your external self, always chant the holy name of Krishna. Internally, always engage yourself in the service of Radha and Krishna.
Let go of sumptuous food and lavish clothes. Only maintain your body with the bare necessities of life”.
Markata Vairagya (False renunciation)
A false renunciant imposes transcendence on the mundane by imagining some mortal couple to be the divine couple, Sri Radha and Krishna. Such self-deception disregards all religious principles.
The Lord has said, ”A false renunciant is one who seems detached but takes pleasure in conversing with women”.
The Pure Renunciant
The Pure renunciant engages himself in constantly chanting the holy name of the Lord. He survives by begging and eating.
One who practices renunciation but instead of depending on Krishna depends on others, then such a person does not attain spiritual success. Krishna also disregards him.
Despite becoming renunciants, those who yield to the urges of their tongue, they lose their spiritual course and become a hostage to their sensual tastes.
A real renunciant always occupies himself in chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord. He fills his belly with a very modest diet consisting of leafy vegetables, fruits, and roots.
But those who wander about in the society to satisfy the cravings of their tongue become preoccupied with their genitals and belly. They do not attain Krishna.