Sadhana Bhakti Steps:
#3 - Remember Radha Krishna With
Feelings of Relational Love
In the sadhana bhakti we start to build a feeling of relational love with God. Most teachings about God's personality refer to Him as the supreme being, omniscient, almighty, powerful, righteous, etc. In comparison we are powerless, insignificant, incapable, needy and helpless. It is difficult to feel related to such a personality.
To develop love, Rasik Saints have stressed to forming a close personal relationship with Radha Krishna through a bhava -- a particular quality of love, expressed in a style of relationship. These are:
- Shant bhava -- loving God as a supreme governor
- Dasya bhava -- loving God as a master
- Sakhya bhava -- loving God as your close friend
- Vatsalya bhava --loving God as your child
- Madhurya bhava -- tloving God as your beloved
Each of these loving sentiments have their own quality of divine love bliss. For example, you know the feeling of closeness that a dear friend inspires. But the love you have for your mother is different and more intimate, but in its own style. The love of two beloveds can only be compared to itself. Each has its own special quality of intimacy that you can use in sadhana bhakti.
The relational bhavas or feelings that relate to Radha Krishna are described in the writings of Rasik Saints and in the scriptures, particularly in leelas or pastimes that Radha Krisna enacted 5,000 years ago when They appeared on this earth.
Therefore, most of the examples that Saints give for these loving bhavas relate to these Divine leelas. However you have complete freedom to use your own modern version of these relational feelings in your sadhana bhakti meditation. Cultivate that sense of closeness in your devotional imagination the same way you would develop a similar style of relationship in the world.
The highest class of Rasik Saints do not give special importance to feelings of shant bhava, because in this relationship there is no loving intimacy or any particular manifestation of divine love bliss.
Divine love bliss starts from dasya bhava - feelings of servitude. A devotee with deep feelings of servitude towards his beloved Master says,
"Oh Lord! When I die, may the material elements that comprise my body still be used in Your service. May the water element mix in the well where you go to bathe. May the fire element enter the mirror where you see your reflection. May the space element merge in the space in which you walk. May the earth element mix with the ground upon which you place Your lotus feet. May the air element mix with the breeze that is created when you are fanned."
This humble sentiment is so strong that such a servant desires to serve his Master even after death.
In sakhya bhava, the bliss of Divine love is more unique and closer. This example is seen in the Gwalbals or childhood friends of Krishna. Although these young boys were illiterate villagers, when they called Krishna the nickname 'Kanua', Krishna would become absorbed in love.
If Krishna saw them offended or annoyed, He would also feel unhappy. He would tease them on picnics by snatching morsels of half-eaten food from their mouths. If the Gwalbals defeated Krishna in their childhood games, they would make Krishna become a horse and they would climb on his back and ride Him.
If these friends had even the slightest idea that Krishna was almighty supreme God, the sweetness of their love and feeling of intimacy would have instantly vanished.
In vatsalya bhava -- feelings of maternal love, the bliss of Divine love is even more intimate. This is represented through the love of Krishna's mother, Yashoda.
Once Yashoda tied Krishna to a heavy mortar to punish him for eating earth. She approached him with a thin stick in her hand to spank him. Krishna cried, trembled and tearfully begged, "Mother, let me go this time! I promise I won't eat earth again!" Seeing his tears, Yashoda felt emotions only a mother could understand.
If she knew that she had bound supreme almighty God, who has unlimited powers, her love would have disappeared immediately.
In madhurya bhava, the bliss of Divine love is the most intimate. Madhurya bhava incorporates all the bhavas within itself. In your sadhana you can think of Krishna as your beloved, son, friend, lord or king whenever you wish. The madhurya bhav of the Gopis is well known. Under the influence of the Gopis love, Krishna forgets all his almighty majesty
A glimpse of such feelings is expressed by a Gopi in the Bhagwatam (10/30/40):
"Oh Lord! (Feeling of servitude) Oh my Sweet One! (Feeling of maternal love) Oh darling! (Feeling of beloved relationship) I am yearning to see You. Oh, my only companion, Krishna! We, the Gopis, are Your eternal servants. Please come before us and show us Your beautiful face."
You will also find inspiration in the writings and teachings of Rasik Saints for developing these loving sentiments in your sadhana bhakti.