~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

Five stages of consciousness in bhava-sadhana

"While cultivating these eleven gopi sentiments, five stages of consciousness develop. They are 1) sravana-dasa (the stage of hearing), 2) varna-dasa (the stage of acceptance), 3) smarana-dasa (the stage of remembering), 4) apana-dasa (stage of application), and 5) sampatti-dasa (stage of inheritance). Srila Ramananda Raya says [as quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 8.220-222],

"One who is attracted by the ecstatic love of the gopis does not care about the regulative principles of Vedic life or popular opinion. Rather, he completely surrenders unto Krsna and renders service unto Him. In this liberated stage the devotee is attracted by one of the humors (rasas) in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As he continues to serve the Lord in that mood, he attains a spiritual body to serve Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana.'

"So saying, Srila Ramananda Raya instructs us to first attain the form and mood of a vraja-gopi in order to obtain service in the conjugal mood.

"When a sadhaka devotee, having heard about Lord Krsna's pastimes, is attracted to the conjugal mellow, he should take further instruction on rasa from a realized, saintly spiritual master. This is called the stage of hearing or sravana-dasa. When the sadhaka devotee anxiously, and eagerly accepts the conjugal mellow, varana-dasa commences. Then, by pure remembrance of the sentiments of rasa, he desires to practice them; he then reaches the third stage, smarana-dasa. When he is able to perfectly invoke these sentiments of rasa, he attains anana-dasa or prapti-dasa. Finally, when he can separate himself from all his temporal material designations and is steadily fixed in that original spiritual identity for which he yearns, he has reached sampatti-dasa—the inheritance of his spiritual identity.

Bhajana from sravana-dasa to smarana-dasa

"If, after having tested the disciple, the spiritual master determines that he is eligible to perform bhajana and serve in the srngara-rasa, he then confidentially informs the disciple about his eternal spiritual role as a manjari in Srimati Radharani's camp, under the supervision of Sri Lalita-devi. The spiritual master teaches the disciple how to develop the eleven sentiments of the gopis, how to meditate on the asta-kaliya-lila, and how to be properly established in both.

"So that he may fully understand them, the sadhaka is shown his siddhadeha or spiritual identity, viz. his spiritual name, form, qualities, service and so on. The spiritual master also discloses to the disciple who his parents are in the sadhaka's manjari-identity, which house she was born in, who her husband is, and so on. At this point, the disciple must spurn all Vedic religious pursuits and simply be a fully surrendered maidservant of Srimati Radharani, the camp leader. Thereafter, the guru will reveal in detail the disciple's eternal service to Srimati Radharani in the asta-kaliya-lila. The sadhaka (now a female sadhaki) embraces these revelations in varna-dasa. He enters into smarana-dasa when he actually remembers them on his own; and so, in this way, the sadhaka takes spiritual birth as a gopi in Vraja.

A digression on the subject of ruci

"As the spiritual master discerns the pure inclination of the disciple's heart, the disciple will also disclose his own taste for the mellow or rasa to help the spiritual master. Until the pure natural intentions and mellow tastes are clearly sorted out, the spiritual master's instructions about them will not be unequivocal. Ruci or taste is the natural propensity born out of concentrated

sukrti or piety. There art two kinds of piety, past sukrti and present sukrti.

"Thoso who are not attracted to the srngara-rasa, but prefer dasya or sakhya, roust receive pertinent instructions on these relationships in order to get the fruit of their devotion, otherwise they win return to a life, of anarthas. The great soul Syamananda at first was not aware of his own siddha-ruci or permanent spiritual mellow, and so he was made to embrace the sakhya-rasa or the mellow of fraternity. Later, by the grace of Srila Jiva Gosvami, he became entitled to perform bhajana in his real ruci or spiritual proclivity. This is a well-known story. O Lord Caitanya, in Your line of teaching on this subject, spiritual acumen and eligibility count above all else.

"The sadhaka has his own sva-ruci or natural taste as a gopi. Other rucis (such as the acceptance of a husband) are falsely attached to this sva-ruci before the sadhaka finally embraces the authentic ruci. But by the grace of his spiritual master, the sadhaka nonetheless attains Krsna's service according to his natural ruci in the parakiya-rasa or paramour relationship. Rasa can never come to a full bloom other than in the parakiya-rasa. The summit of Your teachings, O Lord Caitanya, is that the parakiya attitude is permanent in the pastimes of the Lord, both in their appearance (when Krsna descends to Vrajabhumi) and their disappearance (into the invisible Vraja of the transcendental world).*

* Please refer to Caitanya-caritamrta, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Los Angeles, l974),Adi'lila 4.50 (purport), for further elaboration on this confidential topic. — Ed.