(Sadguru Devchandra revealed the details of the divine plays of the Ras Leela and the joys of the A bode- Param Dham. Then he, in the guise of Prannath, has bestowed upon us the eternal wealth.)
The Supreme Lord Krishna's blissful sports and dances with the gopi souls is known as Ras. Its essence is essentially stated in the words- Rasanam Samuha Rasah, i.e. the immensity of joy is Ras. It is the consequence of the ultimate kind of love Prem Lakshana Bhakti, which always keeps overflowing.
In Shrimad Bhagavat, Ras leela has been described in the sections 29 to 34 of the 10th canto. It is said that while narrating this leela Shukdev Jee got lost in its thoughts and started telling about it as he experienced to King Prikshit. During this a doubt flashed upon the King's mind His question interrupted the description being given by the sage, the divine force describing it was withdrawn and it was left untold. Mahamati has supplied the omissions and filled up the gaps. Mahamati, having been a part of this blissfulleela in the form of a supreme soul Indravati of Param Dham, provides the true commentary of the entire episode. He has gone deep into the transcendental experiences of that night of eternal love and its joys.
Mahamati was confined to prison due to some false allegations during Vikrami Samvat 1714-15 in Jamnagar where the spiritual verses started descending upon him. His younger brother Udhav Ji began compiling them. The first section to appear was Shyamaa Mahaaraani kaa Shringaar (Embellishment of Shy am a Maharani). It was followed by sections on Yogmaya and Embellishment of Shree Raj Ji (Shree Raaj Ji kaa Shringaar) and subsequently the other sections of Ras descended. However Mahamati placed five sections on the subject of worldly attachments (moh) in the beginning of the book. He has emphasized the importance of the fact underlying this moh and its five tools namely- the senses of speech, touch, smell, taste and hearing. One must control all these to proceed on the path to attain eternal joy. In the following sections a number of dance-plays (raamats) performed by gopis with their beloved Krishna are narrated. When all of them were fully absorbed in the leela Krishna suddenly disappeared from the scene. Gopis were in utter agony without him. The purpose of this was to make the gopis realize their egoistic pride of being the beloveds of the Lord. Krishna appeared again much to their relief. Thereafter all together participated in water-sports (jheelanaa) and enjoyed delicious food.
The book Ras consists of 47 sections with 907 verses. Almost all sections bear the stamp of lndravati, as given in the last verses of the sections. Prannath had incarnated in this world with the supreme soul of Indravati of Param Dham. The language of the book is Gujarati in Devnagari script. According to Mahamati the Ras took place in Eternal Vrandavan. It was the full moon night of winter season (Sharad Poomimaa) when Krishna played on his flute and the gopis ofBraj rushed from their homes to meet him. The divine decorated appearances of Krishna and gopis was carried out by Yogrnaya herself. Mahamati has clarified that it was Akshar Brahma equipped with the zeal of Lord Supreme Krishna ofPararn Dham who took part in the Ras leela with the gopi-souls of Braj. The 24000 Ishwari Srishtees of Akshar Dham had merged with the souls of 12000 gopis (Brahma Srishtees of Par am Dham) in order to take part in the Ras leela.
Lastly it is my prime duty to express my earnest thanks to Dr. R.K. Arora for his continued interest and efforts in translating the Prannath's verses into English language. The help extended by Smt. Vimla Mehta, Sh. K.K. Mehta and Dr. Pran Gilotra in editing the manuscript and giving a number of useful suggestions in completing this work, is also acknowledged.
The dictionary meaning of Ras is 'the circular dance performed by Krishna and the cowherdesses'. It may mean the sports of Krishna and gopis. The Ras is the first book among the fourteen books of Kuljam Sarup (the Tartam Sagar) which was revealed to Prannath while he was in prison due to some misunderstanding with the local king.
In Ras the sports of Krishna and gopis have been described not in a detailed manner with fervour and divine love becoming the common bond between the adorer and the adorned. There are chapters, dealing with the flight of gopis from their homes and leaving everything to Vrindavan on hearing the sweet music of the flute of their Lord. The love is so intense and overwhelming that it melts the heart of everyone. Krishna is Ras-raj and his is the divine leela. Ras is a profound essay on the divine love.
Mahamati makes love a path of inner search for souls' transformation to one's higher being thereby making it devotion. Love of the Ras is not focussed on any particular person or object; it seems unfocussed and different in the form of loving state of mind. With this change in mind the world is transfigured and becomes the Abode of the Lord. Nothing changes outside, but with the wine of love in one's eyes we have totally different existence available to us.
Mahamati's Ras is played in different ways. He styles them as raamat, some ofthe names are:- aankh- michonee, karataalee, gadhkee, bhool- bhoolavanee etc. etc. In all these there is a dancing foot, the sound of the twinkling bells, the songs that are sung and the raging steps, all these items have a rhythm of their own. The total absorption of the dancers in the Ras, when Krishna is a partner in that, gives joy which knows no bounds. The total being is filled with love. The joy cannot be expressed with tongue. The purpose of Ras is the release of the countless souls (brahm srishtees) from the snarls of illusion.
Ras is not the subject of knowledge. It is transcendental experience that no language can express in the true sense. But we can say that it is stream of bliss consciousness, in which the Lord revels through the numerous centres of consciousness. The experience cannot be communicated with words or language. Here in this book we find the highest limit of one's love for the Lord with his whole hearted and single minded devotion. The best example of this love in the world seems to be Krishna and gopis. The example of bride and bridegroom cited in this connection, though in a different way is also applicable, because here we find a complete union of identity.
But Krishna is obliged to the gopis for their total self surrender, when he receives them and tells them that he owes them a debt that can never be paid, because they have come to him 'like a hermit who has renounced his home, neither the duties nor their possessions hindered them from taking the way to Me'. The great seducer makes them his own.
All this may be considered an allegory- the reflection of reality in the mirror of illusion. The reality is the inner life, where Krishna is the Lord; the milkmaids are the souls of mankind and Vrindavan is the field of consciousness. Ras, based on the divine love of Krishna with gopis, is a transcendental experience which cannot be pictured completely in any worldly language. It is a stream of bliss consciousness. One must know that in this connection the worldly actions of human life stand for the biological flow of energy and are an essential component of love. However these can be in several forms. For instance, when expressed lustfully and mentally it is a passion, and in literature and art it is an intellectual matter. On the other hand when expressed spiritually only then it becomes true love. Through its symbols in the Ras Mahamati takes you beyond the pleasures of body and mind and to the ethereal regions of bliss which are eternal and not temporary like physical relations. Mahamati has stated this again and again in his verses that what he has described is within the limitations and difficulties of the human capability, but if nothing is said nothing will be understood by a common person. Mahamati has said (in Prikrama 1/30.42)- "How can this mortal language speak of love's beauty. It is a heart inflamed. Love has no desire to fulfil itself. God is in its heart and it is in the heart of God. Love does not perceive the needs of the body, for love is sufficient unto love. It is also certain that by reading the book Ras with devotion the adoring devotee's fabric of worldly consciousness is promoted to the platform of transcendental level where the bliss consciousness manifests itself."
Beside this main theme of the Ras, love for the Lord, the book contains many other topics like the importance of guru, the Lord- his form, philosophy, principles, the Abode, pangs of separation, falsity of the world etc. etc. Ras is not an academic study, but it is the study of the spiritual experience of Prannath.
Ras is education in the love of the Lord.
Finally I wish to express gratitude and love to my late wife (Smt. Anand Kumari Arora) who is still acting as a source of inspiration and guidance in carrying out this pious work of translating the Tartam Vani of Mahamati Prannath.
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