Part 1 – Prema Ras
Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj has created an ocean of blissful keertans for His devotees to drown in. Every keertan in its simple words describes the true nature of devotion to God and our eternal relation with Him. Though all the keertans are very special, this particular chanting called ‘jo piya ruchi mahaṁ ruchi rākhē’ is the most incredible from a philosophic point of view. Sage Narad had described the philosophy of Bhakti in 84 sutras (aphorisms) in his writing, ‘Narad Bhakti Darshan’. However, what Devarishi Narad Muni could not say in 84 aphorisms, Kripaluji Maharaj has very effortlessly put in a few lines. So if spiritual aspirants understand the divine meaning of this keertan, there is nothing that remains to be understood on the topic of Divine Love.
Let us understand the very first line of the keertan:
jo piya ruchi mahaṁ ruchi rākhē, prēma rasa soī chakhē rē
The Bliss of Divine Love is tasted by the one who keeps his or her desire in the desire of the Beloved.
Here, Shree Maharajji explains how we can get ‘Prem Ras’. You may have noticed that this word ‘Ras’ figures repeatedly in Shree Maharaj Ji’s writings. His primary book on philosophy is ‘Prem Ras Siddhant’. His primary keertan book is ‘Prem Ras Madira’. Apart from that, he has written ‘Braj Ras Madhuri’, ‘Yugal Ras’, ‘Saras Ras’, etc.
So now the question arises, what is this ‘Ras’?
To relish bliss – that is ‘Ras’. It is the essence of Happiness.
To understand the whole spectrum of this word ‘ras’ let us start off with the example of ‘Rasgulla’. This Rasgulla is a favorite Indian sweet, because it gives the person eating it, the experience of ‘Ras’. If the same Rasgulla is made in milk, the Ras becomes greater. It becomes Rasmalai. If you add some cardamom, the Ras increases further and then throw in some saffron on top, the Ras increases even further.
In the material realm, all the Rasas can be divided into 3 categories. One is Tamasic Ras, the other is Rajasic Ras and the third is Sattvic Ras. In other words: the Ras of the mode of ignorance, the Ras of the mode of passion, and the Ras of the mode of goodness. The entire material creation is operating under the influence of these three modes and the individual souls are seeking these Rasas.
Let us take an example to better understand the meaning of Tamasic Ras. Supposing somebody irritated you or caused harm, a consequence of which you experienced the emotion of anger. Now by giving vent to your anger, you got ras. So you tell your friend, “That fellow was troubling me so much. I taught him a lesson that he will remember for life”. In giving vent to that anger, there was an experience of ras. That is exactly the reason why people get angry at each other, they are experiencing Tamasic Ras. This Ras is highly destructive to the soul as it throws the person into deep darkness.
A higher ras is the Rajasic Ras of the mode of passion. This is the ras we get when the senses come in contact with their objects. For example, when your tongue comes in contact with a sweet ‘Jalebi’ you experience the Rajasic Ras. But even this ras is not satisfying to us; rather it is very disturbing to the mind. Because first, one creates a desire with the senses, and when the object is received, the desire goes away. So to put the logic in very simple words, the experience of ras is in the release of the desire. Let’s say you’re getting an itch somewhere and it is irritating you. You scratch it and say, “Ah, what a relief.” You have released the pain, but that is not the solution because that itch is going to come back. Then you scratch again, and then it comes back again, and then you scratch again. This is the Rajasic Ras that you get by enjoying the objects of the world.
Highest amongst the 3 material rasas is the Sattvic Ras of the mode of goodness, when the mind becomes peaceful, calm, and serene. This Sattvic Ras is experienced in serving others, in acquiring knowledge, in practicing compassion, goodness, and kindness. This is elevating to the soul, but not yet liberating. Sattvic Ras is much higher than the Rajasic and Tamasic Rasas. But even Sattvic Ras cannot satisfy the soul, because the soul is Divine and is looking for the Divine Experience, or the Ras of God.
So what really is this Divine Ras that we divine souls are searching for?
Divine Ras is beyond the three rasas of material nature. Its first specialty is that it is infinite in extent. Secondly, once received, it will always remain – unlike the hangover that one gets in the morning after drinking the previous night.
The Rig Veda states:
tad vishno paramam padam, sadā pashyanti surayā (1.22.20)
That Divine Ras, once attained, will remain forever and henceforth there will never be any discontentment.
But there are many categories and varieties of Rasas even in the Divine realm. There is the bliss of the formless aspect of God (Nirakar Brahm), which is called Brahmanand. It is so amazing that great kings renounced their whole families, rejected their entire kingdoms like a piece of straw and sat in the forest to experience Brahmanand.
However even beyond the bliss of Brahmanand is the bliss of the Personal Form of God, which is infinite times greater than the bliss of the Formless. That is why the Saint Tulsidas says:
soi sukha lavalēsa, jinha bāraka sapanēhũ lahēu
tē nahiṃ ganahiṃ khagēsa, brahmasukhahi sajjana sumati
If a person experiences even one drop of the Bliss of the Personal Form of God (Prem Ras), he will get detached from Brahmanand itself.
So what do we talk about the ephemeral material bliss like the ‘Rasgulla-anand’? There is absolutely no comparison. The Bhagavatam gives us examples of such Gyanis, who were situated at the platform where they were relishing the Bliss of Brahmanand. Yet when they had the experience of Premanand, they naturally got detached from Brahmanand and got attracted to the Personal Form. We have often heard the example of Shukadev Paramhans in this regard, who worshipped the Formless aspect of God before he heard the Bhagvatam. Though he was relishing the bliss of the Formless, the moment he heard a verse from the Bhagvatam describing the beauty of the Personal Divine Form of Shree Krishna, there was no question of turning back.
What happened with Shukadev Paramhans is similar to placing a hot Gulab Jamun in front of a man who was only relishing the bliss of jaggery. The bliss of sweet Gulab jamun is much more than the bliss received from jaggery which is a crude form of molasses. Hence detachment occurs automatically from the lesser bliss.
In that Divine Love Bliss, there are other categories that will be described further, but Kripaluji Maharaj here in the keertan is talking about that Prem Ras, which is the Highest Ras. And Shree Krishna is the biggest Rasik. He is called Rasik Shiromani or the crest jewel of Rasiks. He is considered Rasik in two ways: rasayatē iti rasaha, rasyatē iti rasaha. He grants Ras to the devotees, and He Himself experiences Ras from His devotees. So in both ways He is Rasik which is just like Radha Ji.
In fact the word Radha also has two meanings:
1) She, who worships Krishna, the foremost worshipper of Krishna is Radha.
2) She, who is worshipped by Krishna Himself.
krishnēna āradhyatē, iti rādha
The One whom Krishna worships – that is Radha
(Radhikopanishad, Rig Veda)
But if you become a little philosophical, you will wonder, “Why does God need Ras from us, puny insignificant souls?” Shree Krishna is called ‘Atmaram’ which means that personality who is complete in Himself. He has no need for anything external. Then, why should that Shree Krishna become Gopiram and Goparam – do Leelas with the Gopis and the Gopas to relish Ras from them?
Understand this; the Ras that Shree Krishna gets from His own Self is called ‘Swarūpanand’ – the Bliss of His own Personality. And the Bliss that He grants His Devotees, who engage in His devotion, is called ‘Swarūpshaktyanand’ – the Bliss of His Swarūp Shakti, or His Yogamaya energy. So, He Himself experiences ‘Swarūpanand’, but to His Devotees He grants ‘Swarūpshaktyanand’. That Swarūpshaktyanand is sweeter than His own Bliss. In other words He grants His Devotees a higher level of Bliss. And then He sits inside the Devotee, and relishes that Bliss from within the Devotee. Since the Bliss that He gets from His Devotees is higher than His own Bliss, He becomes a slave of His devotees.