Vaisnava Aesthetics is the central theme of the Bengal Vaisnavism as patronized by Mahaprabhu Sri Krsna Caitanya as also by his immediate followers. Sri Rupa Gosvamin is the principal architect of the Vaisnva _Rasa-sastra, epitomized in the Haribhakti Rasamrta-sindhu, the Ujjvala-nilamanih, the Natakacandrika and the like.
"Bhakti in the Vaisnava Rasa-gastra" the book is interesting and important from many counts. It seeks to underline the unity of ultimate goal of religion, philosophy and poetry through a study of the principles of literary criticism evolved on the basis by the Vaisnava school of Sanskrit poetics of Bengal.
The evolution of the concept of Bhakti in ancient Indian Religion and Philosophical literature makes an interesting study. This concept is recognised in the Vedas and the Upanisads. The Ramayana,, the Mahabharata, the Puranas and the Gitagovinda give a completest personality to it. Treatises on ancient Indian Aesthetics acknowledge it as secondary feeling unable to reach the delectable state of Rasa. The Srimadbhagavata Mahapurana sup-plies sufficient clues to the Vaisnava therotecians for arriving at their new concept of devotion to god.
Sri Rupa; Sri Jiva and the other Vrndavana Gosvamins, establish, with meticulous care the supreme excellence of the Bhakti rasa and maintain that all other poetic sentiments are but semblances of this Bhakti Rasa or the Rasa-rat. Mystico-eroticism (ujjvala or madhura) with its stable emotion of all engulfing swelling attachment develops through the right succes-sive stages of Bhava, Pre man etc. to the ultimate point of saturation in the Divine Frenzy of the Mahabhava. Herein Bhakti attains its climax of perfection and its maximum strength.
The book, in its five chapters, successfully presents a comprehensive and critical account of Devotion to god, its origin, development and detailed study of the Principal and the minor works of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra along with their original contributions on a whole range of ensuing literature etc. as also the principles of literary criticism in India.
Dr. Raghu Nath Sharma(b. Sep. 23,1938, Kohat) had his initial education under the guidance of his father, Shri Gian Chand Sharma, and uncle, Shri Pandita Nand lal ji Sharma, M.A. LL.B., Ex. M.P. (presently Svami Nandanandanananda Sarasvati .Ti - Varanasi). He studied Oriental Sanskrit in the Dharma Sangh Mahavidyalay in Delhi, and he had the rare privilage of having guidance Dharma-samrat SvarniKarapatri Ji, Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya Jyotiwithadhisvara Svami Sri Krsuabodhagrama ji and the senior Jagadguru Sankaracarya of Puri Svami Sri Niranjana Deva Tirtha ji.
Dr. Sharma passed his M.A. Sanskrit in 1963 with distinction from the Universtiy of Delhi. He was awarded his Ph.D. Degree from the same University in the year 1976. He has taught in various institutions of the university since 1964.
Dr. Sharma is a distinguished scholar of Indian Culture, Philosophy, Religion and Sanskrit. He has guided and produced several M.Phil and Ph.D. scholars. He has also authored a number of research articles which have appeared in different research journals of repute.
A versatile genious Dr. Sharma is currently heading the Department of Sanskrit, School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education, University of Delhi. He is simaltaneously associated with the All India Radio giving talks both in Hindi and English.
Long before the advent of the Natya sastra of Bharata Muni the Vaisnava Rasa-Sastra had its origin in the Vedic lore, where, among others, the Taittirtya sruti unambigously proclaims "Raso Vai Sah—He verily is the Rasa" and it is in the same Vedic dictum enshrined that the attainment of this Bhagavadrasa is the ultimate source of all the bliss.
In the doledrums of the poetry on the mundane plane this basically important celestial interjection appears to have been lost for some time. But, in due course of time, The Bengal Vaisnavism, as designed by Mahaprabhu Sri Krishna Caitanya and his immediate followers, the Vrndavana Gosvimins, under the stewardship of Sri Rupa Gosvamin, rediscoverd this pristine glory, the net result where of was the establishment of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra on firm foundations in the monumental Lalqapa.granthas of the sect. With the same scheme, as put forth by Acarya- Bharata and his followers, and with the same technical terminology, the Vaisnava Poeticians propounded the rasahood of Bhakti with a remarkable degree of success.
This is how the 'Paradise lost' was regained and the `Pilgrim's Progress' towards the Supreme Abode of Bliss was made easy and ensured. And Devotion to God, hitherto designated as a mere emotion or 'Maya', came to be regarded, once again, as the one and the only one basic rasa, capable of multiplying into various of its own kinds as also into its own semblances in the form of common poetic sentiments.
With care and pleasure I have glanced through the work entitled "Bhakti in the Vainava Rasa-Sastra" researched by Chiranjivi Dr Raghu Nath Sharma. It is pertinent to note that a comprehensive literary as also artistic handling of the Devotion to God, in its numerous aspects, was desideratum and it is a pleasure to note that the author, Dr. Raghu Nath Sharma, of the work has removed this long felt necessity. This work is an extra-ordinary presentation of the Vrndavanalilas (love sports) of Bbagavat Sri Krishna and Vrndavanesvari Sri Radh. All the details are exuberant with scholastic interpretations compelled with religion philosophical, aesthetic and philosophical points pertaing to the exculpatory nature of the otherownedship of the vraja damsels and the paramour ship of Sri Krishna.
In five chapters this work embraces all important aspects of the Bengal Vaisnavism as also of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra. The author has spared no pains to make the book interesting and full of the most relevant information. Dr. Sharma's acquaintance with source materials, after Dr. S K. De, is of a highest order. I can confidently say that the work is an original contribution in the realms of Sanskrit poetics in general and the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra in particular.
Ciranijivi Dr. Raghu Nath Sharma has been my pupil since his childhood in early forties of this century and with care and concern I have guided and seen all the stages of the development of the author as also of his work He has inherited Bhakti from his rich family tradition, in this respect, from his most revered fore-fathers, father, uncle and a host of saintly personalities. This has a visible impact on the development of his saintly personality. Basically he is a sadhaka of the Vaidhi Bhakti and the Ragatmikatva of devotion of his heart and soul is clearly evidenced in his work, the "Bhakti in the Vaisnava Rasa-Sastra." Therefore, I confidently and strongly recommend the book to scholastic researchers as also to common devout readers alike. Herein I adept the famous dictum of the author of the Gitagovinda, Jayadeva thus—“Srnu tada Raghunatha sarasvatim."
I am confident that Deity 13hakti' will always stand by the learned author and, as and when required, Bhagavat gri Krishna, the Lord Supreme, the Sum mum Bonum of all life of worship and devotion, will surely extend his unreserved and all-engulfing embrace for this Doctor devotee.
In the service of Lord Narayapa,
My very humble obeisance to the Dark-blue-jewel (Sri Krishna), the light par excellence, the Supreme Consciousness and Bliss whole from which flow the streams of consciousness and the world of the happy experiences.
I started n y research for Ph.D. in the University of Delhi, on the subject "Treatment of Bhakti in the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra" in August 1964. The present work is a revised and amended form of the same. Practically no work has been done to cover the whole range of the Vaisnava Rasa-Sastra, a very important link in the history of the Religion-Philosophical Thought as also in the field of Sanskrit Poetics. It transfused the purely religion-philosophical concept of Bhakti into the veins of the traditional poetics so successfully that Bhakti, hitherto regarded as merely a Bhava (emotion), was recognized as not simply a Rasa or Rasa-rat (the arch sentiment) but also as the only basic rasa potentially capable of manifesting itself into various kinds of Rasa’s. The traditional razes eight or nine were, as a result, regarded mere semblances of the Bhakti rasa.
A comprehensive treatment of Bhakti in the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra has not been attempted so far. Some works on the contribution of one or two of the major works or authors have been written. Still others have treated Bhakti in the historical background without making specific, detailed and perspective study of all the principal and minor works of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra in the background of traditional Sanskrit Poetics and the new developments in religion and philosophy that formed the new horizons of the mysticerotic tradition of Bengal of gri Caitanya and his followers. Present work is, therefore, based on a close study of the Bhakti Rasatrtta sindhu, the Ujjvalanilamani, the Nataka Candrika, the Sat-sandarbha, the Caitanya-caritamrta and the Alamkarakaustubha, written in Sanskrit. I have briefly dealt with the origin and development of the Vaisnava faith and Movement as also the Bengal Vaisnavism which effected a new development in Sanskrit literature and poetics.
As I have stated above, my study is mainly based on the principal and minor works of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra written in Sanskrit, I could not make use of the secondary sources in Bengali Language. That constitutes my limitation as well as a point of strength as I have written nothing without the authority of the original texts. I may adept the famous line of Mallinatha and say "Namulam likhitam kincit.
The literature on the subject is so vast that no single library in the capital or in any other part of the country could suffice to complete the task. I am thankful to the Librarians of the Benaras Hindu University, Varanasi; Sri Visvanatha (Goenka) Library, Varanasi; Ramakrishna Mission Library, New Delhi; Library of Archeological Survey of India, New Delhi; Dharmasangha Mahavidyalaya Library, Delhi: School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education Library, Delhi, and the University of Delhi Library, Delhi for the help rendered through efficient library service in procuring some of the rare works of basic importance.
The supervision and altruistic concern of my preceptor (Late) Revered Dr. R C. Dwivedi, then in the University of Delhi and later on Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit in the University of Udaipur (Rajasthan), still later Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit in the University of Rajasthan in Jaipur, is responsible for the completion of the work. The words fail me in expressing due gratitude to this great teacher whose encouraging attitude and intuits, e insight into the depths of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra alone have borne the present fruit.
Those who guided course of my journey in research include Brahma-lina Dharmasamrat Svami Karapatli ji, Brahma-lina Jagadguru garikaracarya Jyotispithadhisvara Svami Sri Krishna,, bodhasrama ji, Senior Jagadguru Sankaracarya Govardhanapitha-dhisvara Svami Niranjanadeva Tirtha ji, Svami Nandananda-nananda Sarasvati ji (Sastri Svami ji) M.A., LL.B., Ex. Member of Loka Sabha and my revered father (Late) Srl Pandita Gian Chand Sharma.
When I started my project. Dharmasamrat Svami Karapatri ji Maharaja was writing his monumental work on Bhakti-the Bhakti Rasarnava. He, very kindly, used to hand over his-manuscripts to me with the instruction, "Make use of the information contained herein for your benefit, the book the Bhakti Rasarnava) may take long time to print." Such was his kindness and affection for me.
I fail to write about my gurudeva Sri Sastri Svamiji Maharaja, Sri Svami Nandanandananand. Sarasvati ji, who as a "Light House" has been all the time dispelling darkness and had brought out all the gems of the Bhakti, the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, and the Ujjvalani-lamani as also of the whole of the Vaisnava Rasa-Sastra. Sastri Svamiji's knowledge of the theology and philosophy of the Bengal Vaisi? avism is marvelous and matchless. He, very kindly, imparted all the secrets, deep imagination and intrinsic values of the Caitanya cult to me. His knowledge of both Sanskrit and English Languages is superb. Just as Mattaprabhu Caitanya had been a combined incarnation of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna, similarly Sri Sastri Svami ji is a combined incarnation of girl Jiva Gosvamin and Sri ViSvanatha Cakravartin. His knowledge of the Paramourship of Sri Krishna and the other-ownedship of the damsels of Vraja is marvelous and matchless. He guided the course of my research ad along. Expressions fail me to write about his contribution in bringing this work to light.
My revered father, (Late) Pandit Sri Gain Chand ji Sharma, elder brother of Sri Sastri Svami Pancadhyayi ji, had been my first teacher since my childhood. He very kindly taught me, among the other things, the srimad Bhagavata Put done and its Rasa-paficadhyayi when I was preparing for my post graduation in Sanskrit (1961-63). His knowledge of the Bhagavata, Bhagavat Krsna and Bhakti was intensive. This teaching of the Bhagavata by my father to me culminated in the selection of my topic for Ph D. and like my gurudeva, Sri Sastri swami ji, my father also helped me a lot in comprehending the deep meanings of the principal as also minor works of the Vaisnava Rasa-astra. A scholar of much faceted personality, my revered father had also been my guide and prop.
All these efforts should have been crippled but for the patronizing, affectionate and timely help given to me by the then Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit in the University of Delhi, Dr. Satya Vrata Sastri, a great poet, prolific writer and an ideologists of repute and winner of twenty eight national and international awards, as at present. His ready help in numerous ways, including in procuring for me some of the rare works has propelled me to complete the task and, therefore, deserves a record of the sincerest gratitude on my part. My equal sense of gratitude is very humbly and justly due to all my guides and teachers. (Late) Dr. N. N. Choudhri, the Professor and Head of the Department in Sanskrit wanted me to write my research work in Sanskrit Language. But the next Professor and Head of the Department, Dr. R.V. Joshi, M.A., Ph.D., D. Lit (Paris), in view of a number of practical-difficulties in writing the work in Sanskrit, very kindly modified the topic, in my benefit, in the present form in English and hence this venture in English Language. In this context I also very sincerely remember my teacher Prof. (Late) Dr. Dev Raj Chennai, who always encouraged me for higher studies and research.
My sincere thanks and heartiest blessings are also due to my publisher of the book Dr. Radhey Shyam Shukla, owner of the Pratibha Prakashana Delhi who had been my dear student also. His devotion and attachment are both compound and not simple, merely in name. God bless him with all the best, long life and prosperity. God has very recently blessed bim with a son. My thanks and blessings are also due to my research students Kumari Bindiya Trivedi, Shri R.C. Vashishtha, Shri Vrajesh Pandey and Shri Dhananjaya Kumar Singh, who helped me in preparing the word-index. God bless them all with success in every walk of life.
Whatever has been achieved here is due to the grace of Bhagvat-Krisna and if I have faltered, at place, as I must have, it is exclusively due to my limitations. Who can, indeed, fathom the unfathomable ?
As the title of the work would indicate, the scope of my subject of research was limited to the treatment of Bhakti in the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra. Special treatment of the nature of Bhakti delineated in the works like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Visor Purina, the Srimadbhagavata Purana etc. did not, therefore, concern me in particular.
The Rasa-sastra here is qualified by the term Waist: lava limiting the treatment of the Rasa-sastra on the basis of the contributions made by the Vaisnavas under the inspiring leadership of Mahaprabhu Caitanya, and leaving out of our present study the glaive and the Salta understanding of the Rasa-Sastra.
The Vaisnava cult in its various ramifications touches different incarnations of Vishnu, of which Sri Rama and Sri Krishna are the most important ones. Of all these manifestations of the Ultimate Reality, as Personal God, Bhagavat-Krisna alone, according to the Bengal Vaisnavism, is regarded as the Supreme God-hood manifesting itself in different incarnations. It is for this reason that Sri Harabilasa sarada., the author of the 'Hindu Superiority' and Panclita Baladeva Upadhyaya (BVR, p. 35) regard the Greek hero Heracles for Hercules) to be a synonym of Sri Krishna--"The Hari-kula-iga.'
Sri Krisna is the object of worship in multifarious ways according to different sub-cults within the Vaisnava-fold like Madhva, Vallabha, Nimbarka, Hita etc. We have simply touched upon some of them when pertinent to the context. The Bengal Vaisnavism, developed under the inspiration of Mahaprabhu Caitanya, represents the most interesting and systematic explanation of the mystic-eroticism. This is what is technically known as the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra, which is the real concern of this study.
The term `Vaisnava Rasa-sastra' has been employed by Dr. S K. De in his monumental work, the Early History of the Vaisnava Faith and Movement in Bengal. Dr. P.V. Kane has also referred to the same in his History of Sanskrit Poetics. My classifications of the principal and the minor works of the Vaisnava Rasa-§astra is based on the authority of Dr. S.K.De. And this is the reason for my excluding the study of the Bhakti Rasa) Ana of Xcarya Madhusudana Sarasvati and the Bhakti rasarnava of Dharmasamrat Svami Karapatri ji from the present venture.
The Vaisnava Rasa-sastra is a very important extension of Sanskrit Poetics. It raised Bhakti to the level of the full-fledged sentiment. Thereafter, Bhakti came to be regarded not only as a Rasa, but the only arch sentiment that could multiply into twelve of its own types, five primaries and seven secondary, as also into the common poetic sentiments, regarded as mere semblances of the Supreme Sentiment of Devotion. The Vaisnava Rasa-Sastra influenced the course and mode of thinking, so much so, that even staunch traditionalists like Panditaraja Jagannatha and the recognised aviations like Madhusadana Sarasvati could not escape its sway.
The Bengal Vaisnavism is not merely a religious movement or a philosophical speculation; it also provides norms of literary appreciations of such mystic-religious literature which developed around the personality of Lord Sri Krishna. These new norms of literary criticism have been termed as the Vaisnava Rasa-gastra in our times. However, this term is not clearly identified for the gastra of aesthetic treatment of Bhakti by writers of the Caitanya Movement such as Rupa Gosvamin, Eva Gosvamin etc. I have, therefore, adopted it for very practical purposes, first to indicate the subject and scope of my study and secondly to use a word which has gained currency in our age.
It is Dr. S.K. De who first gave an account of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra in his work "Early History of the Vaisnava Faith and Movement in Bengal" and made a reference to it in his "History of Sanskrit Poetics." Dr. P.V. Kane similarly refers to the works in his "History of Sanskrit Poetics." Dr. V. Raghvan has dealt with the Bhakti as a Rasa in his famous book "The Number of Rasa." There are some papers and articles on the subject. However, there is no one work, so far, which gives a comprehensive and critical account of Bhakti as understood in the Caitanya Movement and makes a study of all the important, principal or minor, works of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra in the perspective of this Bhakti, devotion to God. This is what I have attempted herein which encountered many difficulties as not even critical editions and translations of these works were available till then. 1 he Bhakti Rasamrta-sindhu has been recently translated into English by Svami Bhakti - Hrdaya Bon Maharaja. This edition of the Bhakti Rasamrta-sindhu by Sri Bon Maharaja was not avail-able to me when I was attempting my research on this work of the basic importance. It was with great difficulty that I could lay my hands on a copy of the Sat-sandarbha of Jiva Gosvamin; the same was not available in any of the reputed 'thanes. The manuscript of the Kavya Candrika of Kavi Candra, one of the minor works of the Vaisnava Rasa-astra, is available only in India Office Library (London). My earnet efforts in procuring a photo-copy or a micro film of the same did not bear fruits. 1 was, therefore, compelled to exclude the same from my treatment, at present.
I have worked out a study of the Bhakti Rasamrta-sindhu, the Ujjvalanilamani, the Nataka Candrika, the Sat-sandarbha, the Caitanya Cantamrta and the Alathkara-kaustubha. Of these the first two works, because of their universally recognised importance, have been termed as the principal works; whereas the other four, because of their indirect approach to the Vaisnava Rasa-Sastra, have been designated as minor works. Wherever possible, salient features of Bhakti, through poetical technicalities, have been brought to the broad-day light through the help of commentaries, especially in case of the principal works. There are in all five chapters in the book.
The first chapter deals with Bhakti in the pre-vaisnava ages as found in the Vedas, the Upanisads, the Puranas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the 8•Tiodilya Bhakti sutras and the Mirada Bhakti-sutras as also in other scriptures. Further, it presents the treatment of Bhakti, or rather its non-acceptance, as Rasa in the works of Sanskrit Poetics, painting out a favorable attitude of Panditaraja Jagannatha, the last great luminary of Sanskrit Poetics, and origination of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra treating Bhakti as the exclusive and supreme Rasa and its gradual acceptance in some of the later developments of Indian Poetics.
The second chapter deals with the Vaisnava Faith and Movement. It traces the origin of the Vishnu-cult in the Vedic age and its gradual development in the post-Vedic era. Cultural, mainly, Religious Renaissance, with the back-ground of the alien Muslim rule, has also been discussed. A passing reference to the Vaisnava sects and a more detailed account of the advent of Caitanya and his life followed by short notes on the life and works of important leaders of the Vaisnava Faith and Movement in Bengal.
The Third chapter presents a study of the principal works of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra. Five primaries and seven secondary Bhakti-razes, based on the monumental works of Sri Rupa Gosvamin, the Bhakti Rasamrta-sindhu and the Ujjvalanilamani, have been taken up in detail. The First Section of this chapter deals with the four primary and the seven secondary razes. The Second Section is devoted to a detailed treatment of the Ujjvala (Madhura) Rasa and its accessories.
The fourth chapter attempts a review of the minor works of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra. Their number is four—the Nataka Candrika of Sri Rupa, the Sat-sandharbha of Sri Jiva, the Caitanyacaritamrta of Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja and the Alamkara-kaustubha of Kavi Karnapura. They are all treatises on the Rasa-sastra in general but their Vaisnavite mode of citations or indirect approach to the scheme of Sri Recipe, imparts them a Vaisnava character. In some of the cases only those portions of the minor works have been taken up in details that treat of the Bhakti as also the Vaisnava Rasa-§astra.
The fifth chapter deals with various contributions of the Vaisnava Rasa-Sastra and their philosophical, religious, aesthetic and literary implications.
The concluding remarks deal with Bhakti as formulated and developed by the Bengal Vaisnavism with its positive impacts on cultural, literary and social trends in contemporary India.
Thus a study of the historical perspective or the Bhakti, its new dimensions in the Vaisnava Faith and Movement and its aesthetic significance and forms as given in the works of the Vaisnava Rasa-sastra, are presented in the work.
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