Krsnacandra Dasa – Vrndavan: Rasa tattva is a very important philosophical concept to understand, in order to understand how we, as devotees, interact and relate to one another. As we know, rasa means specific relationship and tattva means the truth of the nature of each specific relationship and how it relates to other specific relationships.
** Following are my notes on this topic. When I have more time I will refine and edit them so that they are more presentable and understandable. Please forgive my haste in presenting this paper before it is finished.
Rasatattva and Relationships
To understand how devotees interact, sat sanga, with each other is to understand bhakti. As devotees we understand that bhakti is loving or devotional service to Krsna. However, we must also see that there is more to this relationship. It is not simply that we only have a relationship with Krsna and the relationships with devotees are not in bhakti.
The fullness of bhakti can be appreciated as we develop inter-relationships with other devotees in the mood of bhakti and in relationship to Krsna.
Goloka Vrndavana is not only in the mood of dasya and santa rasa as is in the Vaikuntha planets. All the rasas are present. Vrndavana is the very essence of personalism. The gopas, gopis, Krsna’s parents and elders are all interacting with each other within their own individual relationship, rasa, to Krsna. This is all based on the heart felt desire, vibhava, of Krsna’s loved ones, asraya.
So we too must try and develop these loving relationships with each other in relationship to Krsna.
In material life we place the bodies (both subtle and gross) of others and matter in general, as the object, visaya, of our affection and attachment instead of Krsna.
So we act out the perverted reflection of the various rasas, bhavas and anubhavas in relationship with the objects of our senses. We interact in accord with the various rasas and engage in activities that are based on the various bhavas and anubhavas that are actually meant for Krsna.
When we see how our activities are but a reflection of how we need to act with Krsna in relationship with His other devotees, we can begin to develop healthy relationships with others in relationship to Krsna.
The 12 rasas, five principal, mukhya rasas, are how to see the types of relationships we can have with each other. The gauna rasas, subordinate rasas, are there as well in how to properly interact with each other.
The mixing of rasas is a very important aspect of how we relate in regards to the mukhya rasa, role relationships, between us.
Most importantly we must safe guard against rasabhasa, dissonant mixing of rasas, of which there are three types.
This is where we will and do experience the most difficulty in interpersonal relationships. The most important indiscretion that we must avoid in rasabhasa is aparasa. When there is no bhava, loving emotions, between each other and there are interactions that are not appropriate to the rasa.
For example when a person who you do not have a relationship, rasa, based on bhava with chastises, teases or attempts some sadharana anubhava, general action, of a friend, relative, or lover, such as an amorous advance. Here we may feel fear, bhaya, or we even feel hostility, krodha towards that person in response to the rasabhasa, inappropriate interaction.
In cases of child sexual assault by a parent or relative we see uparasa, or a mixing of discordant rasas. That is when there is a display of sadharana anubhavas, such as kissing of the madhurya rasa mood enacted upon a child by a person the child sees in a vatsalya rasa role.
The situation where a person is in the role of a leader or management and they want everyone to see them as visaya, objects of love, and they see everyone else in the dasya rasa role.
Therefore when there is no bhava between the two parties, problems may manifest that can lead to nama aparadha being committed in the form of vaisnava aparadha.
Once bhava develops in a relationship then we can see the rasa that develops from the interaction between the individuals. Once the bhava is established and various anubhavas are enacted then the mukhya rasa develops between the individuals.
A relationship, rasa, is healthy when it is based on bhava in conjunction with its compatible gauna rasas, then displays of affection, anubhava, will be manifest to deepen and enrich the rasa.
For example the loving exchanges between a guru and disciple in the gurukula system is where the bhavas and anubhavas develop the role of guru, parental, vatsalya, and student, dasya.
The guru by his love and affection for the child will win the child’s heart and therefore increase the child’s natural learning propensity. The same is for adults. The more we interact with each other with love and affection the more our hearts will open and our relationships deepen.
The didactic or ‘preachy’ system of interaction is not only aloof and impersonal but it chiefly serves to alienate as opposed to deepening our relationships.
Didactic or talking ‘at’ or ‘to’ another is only a very small aspect of the vatsalya rasa, parental, role, however, it can only be used effectively when there is already a relationship established. When we overly emphasise this aspect we do not leave any room for the deepening of the relationship. It places the other person in a powerlessly subordinate role, when the role of a parent is to empower the child or subordinate.
There is merit in the didactic or instructional manner of communication when it is used with love and affection and at an appropriate time. The parent may use this approach when instructing a young child on the dangers of crossing the road.
The child will only really listen and therefore take heed of the instruction when they ‘feel’ it is offered out of love and to protect the child. Otherwise the child will only ‘hear’ the instruction.
The means is the same as the end. That is to at first develop and maintain healthy loving relationships, by displaying all twelve, especially the primary five rasas, with other devotees. By doing so, we begin to see tangible evidence in our own lives, our ability to develop a loving relationship with Krsna. In other words if we cannot display in our present life quality relationships with other devotees, how can we understand that it is possible to have a relationship with Krsna?
So we need to make friends with devotees and see this as success and the success of our movement and Srila Prabhupada’s wishes.
Actually, not only do we need to show that we can develop friendships with devotees but also non-devotees as well. Of course with non-devotees, it is more giving association (and prasadam), however, these relationships can also be conducted with Bhakti.
Many of us have given up a great deal for the ‘ideal’ that is preached in our movement and when we finally begin to try and live that ideal with other devotees we find it far from our original expectations. There are many differing forms of service that Srila Prabhupada has given us, we emphasize particular ones depending on our own affiliations and realizations however, it is not so much what we prioritize that matters it is how devotees set about accomplishing it that is of consequence.
So unless we accept and speak honestly and openly about each other’s philosophical discrepancies then we will lose many intelligent devotees. It is not a fault of their sincerity so much as they are seeing just another so called attempt at a religious process go wrong due to philosophical deviation.
This is why I am pushing that we must implement and allow the implementation of the Vedic system of varnas so much. We desperately need to allow brahamanas to come to the fore front of this movement as
Prabhupada intended. Then we can have open discussion on our implementation of Prabhupada’s desires.
We must not be afraid if we have an opinion based on Scripture or Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that can stand the scrutiny of intelligent devotees. What we need precisely is to be disillusioned. Made free from any illusion that what we are doing or hearing is right or wrong. Only the brahmana’s can do this for us as they are freer of the mental anxieties and impurities than the other varnas.
Now we may not have a problem with the philosophy so preaching high philosophy will not help. What they need is someone to listen to us and be honest with us regarding any given situation. We maintain a false sense of reality when we try and cloud over the truth with falsities. It is not our position to lie and evade the truth we must speak out when asked or when it is necessary. Hiding the truth is not part of a brahmanas life what to speak of what the parampara preach. “O what a wicked web we weave, when we first practice to deceive!!!”
The immaturity that I speak of is emotional immaturity. Emotions are not ‘things’ that women have. They are in fact the basis of our consciousness. They are what we base all of our decisions on. Another way to look at it is that emotions are what drive us. They are our motivation. Prabhupada describes motivation and sincerity. So what is our sincerity but the emotions attached to what we think, will and do.
Our emotions are usually misplaced or misdirected. For a child, growing up in a healthy environment means that the environment is conducive to the development of healthy emotions. However, for many people that is not the case. In most environments you are told what to think, how to behave and so on. In this situation you should act and feel like this and in that situation you should act and feel like that. The child not only takes on the instructions of the adult or parent but they also take on the emotions behind them as well. So in the end the child develops into an adult that is not really able to understand how ‘they’ actually feel in many situations. They are so full of these ‘borrowed’ emotions that they do not know themselves really.
We come to the movement with this baggage and we try and create a movement with this same baggage. The principal that we were originally taught is ingrained in us and so we also ingrain it in others.
For example; One may be told by someone not worry about a certain negative incident that may have happened to us. That one should be humble. In order for one to be humble then one should forget about the incident and think that it was their own doing as they are a sinner and deserve much more punishment than that.
Thus even if it was a problem that may cause danger or suffering to oneself or others then to investigate and try and make sure that it will not happen again is being puffed up and rebellious. This is false logic and the incorrect application of the ‘be humble’ principal.
This is subtle but it has great ramifications. It maintains and develops this mood in our movement of blind acceptance and denial of our own intelligence and subsequently avoidance of dealing with problem situations as they arise, what to speak of being proactive.
Yes there are devotees who are critical. And maybe “” is one but maybe also he knows something’s about your Spiritual Master that may of happened in the past and he cannot let go of it.
Being real is what we all need and not denial. Krsna has given us intelligence and Prabhupada has shown us how to use that intelligence in Krsnas service. Now the onus is on us to grow up and open up and be real. Let our emotions be reflected off our friends as we develop more deeper and intimate relationships. Let our digs at each other whether constructive or destructive be revealed and with the help of our friends we can set them straight. We cannot do it by ourselves we need each other.
We must realize this. Accept that we are emotionally scarred from our past and try and develop healthy emotions that are real and true to ourselves. Let us admit that we feel in a certain way and then reflected off our friends learn how to better direct them or change them if they are inappropriate.
So let him speak his mind and as we develop closer loving relationships we can help each other. We are eternally friends now. We will always be together. So let’s work from that and build upon it and grow.
I hope that can in some way explain. There is much more but that is the basis. If we do not know how and what we are feeling then we will not know if our emotions are correct in any given situation and then how can we give and take proper advice? How can we understand the instructions that Prabhupada has given us? So this is why I say that it is the basis.
There are two types of criticism. One is negative and therefore destructive and the other positive and therefore constructive. It is all in the telling really. I can say that someone is critical and as his friend I can say it with love and understanding. On the other hand I can say it with envy and malice. The same words will be spoken. ‘Krsnacandra is critical’ but will have vastly different meaning. Now, the vitriolic one will have a huge impact on the listener. He will go away feeling very strongly that KC is so critical. Yet he may never know exactly who KC is really. He will then go on to infect the minds of others….,
When someone is criticizing in a negative way (even though they may present the criticism in an analytic or joking manner) their inner feelings are impressed on the listener. The cheaters and the cheated!!!!
So like this we are emotionally immature. We are cheated by the corrupt and misunderstood by the innocent. The cheaters are immature as well. They are using their emotions wrongly. They use them to illicit a certain (negative) response in others to get their way.
So where is ISKCON in all of this? Well we seem caught up in a ‘paradigm’. We are stuck in a sort of corrupted caste system that does not allow us to express our true identities. So in this predicament there will be no end of trouble until there is some resolution. I am seeing that we as individuals must take up the challenge. Not be guilty of ‘sins of omission’ and speak up! Speak to each other and to authorities. We must try and open up to our friends even though we may be deceived by some or our trust broken. Only then we will be able to push through this hurdle that faces us. It is really that we are facing ourselves in the end.
Yes you are right to claim to be a brahmin even if you are or not, is definitely pushed in our movement. It comes from the fact that Prabhupada said that our movement was instigated for one main reason and that was to pick up the first class person and train them up to become ‘brahmanas’!
So we falsely think: ‘Well I was picked up by the movement so that implies that I am a brahmana!’ NO it does not! It means that we are not as yet good at ascertaining who is a first class person (brahmanas), what to speak of letting the ones that we have become brahmanas.
It is my opinion that we must find out and then accept our psycho-physical make up that is termed our varna. We have sorted out or ashrams to a degree. Well at least much better than our varna’s… Once we know who we are in that respect then we can work towards ‘accepting’ who we are and then engage in service that is appropriate. Now I think what Prabhupada means when he says that it is a brahminical movement he means that our mood must be one of a brahman.
That is we still act according to our psycho/ physical nature e.g. sudra/ vaisya/ ksatriya/ brahmin etc but it is done under the ‘mood’ of a brahmana. That is clean, truthful, steady of mind etc… This whole daivi-varnasrama system is performed under this mood. It is ludicrous to think that Prabhupada intended to turn us all into Brahmana’s! Yes we may have a few examples such as Visvamrita muni but a few examples does not make it the rule!
In our movement we seemed hell bent to push ourselves what to speak about everyone else into roles that do not fit us. That is our folly…
The varnas ‘concept’ settles us into a nice situation so that we can more easily become devotees (which is the real purpose of our movement) without the hang-ups of finding suitable service that we will be happy serving in for the rest of our time in this body. That is all.
Many devotees are in illusion and suffering from all sorts of anxieties simply due to not being properly situated and not really knowing what is wrong. All of their efforts bring about discomfort and suffering to either themselves or others. This is evident by our own leaders many of whom are improperly situated. Thus they suffer and fall or make others!
The concept of service is another thing that we must try and understand. It does not mean that I will be better situated as a TP or a bottle washer. It means working according to your nature. Where our qualities may be used and recognized to their fullest potential.
Now a sudra is not a person that does all the dirty work and is a slave of the other varnas. A sudra is a person with qualities of subservience. Who looks at working to please others? Who works well and better when given direction? Now he may be a manager of a huge wholesale company but he is not the one that is calling the shots. Actually he may also work under some business plan that was formulated by another person who knows business better than he does.
Other sudras may be especially skilled at martial arts, they are strong and quick and easily become black belts or SAS soldiers. They are given instruction on how and when to act by a ksatriya who knows how and when and where to act in aggression and defense etc. The same is for the sudra that is good at working with people who are sick. They can make up medicines and treat people who are ill. These are usually working under a medical system that was designed by a brahmana. The brahmana who specializes in medicine knows how it works and why it works and understands the process of disease very well and so he can teach others to work under a specific discipline to look after others.
The Vaisya is a person who knows how to accumulate wealth. He also has a higher understanding of how and why that wealth is accumulated and so he gives some in charity. He organizes the big and small sudra managers of. He is not simply a person who engages in business activity to accumulate money for his own needs. Nor is he a person who was born into wealth.
Of course it is much more specific that this but I am just trying to give a concise study.
If we analyse how many devotees in our movement operate under the material conception of PAC (Parent / Adult / Child) we may see more clearly what is going wrong. Of course to understand it from a Vedic view point would mean that we require accepting and understanding the functions of the various varnas.
If I can explain it like this;
1) The Brahmana is functioning purely as the adult, incorporating in balance, both their parent and child aspects. The adult is not attached to the goal of any interaction and seeks to guide others to do the right thing for their betterment.
2) The Ksatryia is a step down, operating more on their parent but still using considerable adult, both their own and received from the Brahmana. Much of their own ‘adult’ function is to be able to accept the advice of a Brahmana. The parent seeks to lead and look after others.
3) The Vaisya is operating also more on the parent but less on the adult. They are more concerned with doing the right thing in order to get positive strokes from accumulation of wealth. Their use of the ‘adult’ is where they can understand Sastrally what wealth is and therefore they know how to properly utilize it in the service of the community and Krsna.
4) While the Sudra is more operating in the child and so is mainly looking for the approval of the parent and adult, hence the subservient attitude. The Sudra, when given responsibility above their qualification level, tends to act selfishly. We see many ISKCON gurus and GBC acting on this level. They seek the approval of others (peers and disciples) as they compete with their peers to gain more disciples funds and resources which they keep to themselves and don’t share with others.
This of course requires more in depth discussion and I have only provided a succinct study.
So where we are going wrong in our leadership is that we are operating more from the parent rather than the adult. The parent sees everyone else as a child to be taught and instructed. So the rank and file devotees are being suppressed by the overbearing parental guidance of our leaders to act more like the child. We are encouraged not to question the parent and accept their instructions with the gleeful willing submission of a child. When we don’t do that, we are treated like disobedient children and punished.
To cut a long story short, we have Sudras in Brahmana and Ksatriya positions developing the movement with Vaisya mode and systems. An unprotected sudra will act like a vaisya and is therefore prone to accumulate wealth for his own protection.
Prabhupada was a ‘self actualized’ adult. He draws us out of our shell of being parents and children and encourages our adult to manifest. He empowered while our present leaders dis-empower us with all the best intentions of a parent. But dis-empower is what they do. Like children we seek out their approval and even cut each other’s throats in order to achieve that end.
When the adult is drawn out then one can see how much is manifest in the individual and therefore it is possible to see what varna one is suited to. Of course there is astrology that is of great importance in ascertaining ones varna. Astrology will be the deciding factor as it is easy to present one’s self in a good light while under the process of a psycho-physical assessment.