Bhakti of devotional love is the way of directly encountering the rasa in human experience. The aesthetic experience of rasa which is available to human beings was somehow not fully manifested and established from the 'intellectual' point of view. A glimpse of the rasa accomplished is available in the encounter of Uddhava and Gopies. Humans by nature are rational and logical beings. They prefer logical conclusions which have universal applicability. To logically establish the path of rasa was the endeavour of the seekers and thinkers of Vrindavan, which emerged as the 16th century intellectual, cultural and spiritual center of the Vraja region. Sri Rupa Gosvamin, a direct disciple of Sri Caitanya, was a shining member of the team of six Gosvamins. For him the emotionally experienced bhakti-prema-rasa is equally knowable and communicable. The human consciousness could reach the ocean of rasa through Sri Rupa Gosvamin's unique work, Sri Bhaktirasamrtasindhu. If there is an experience, it can be expressed and for an expression to be meaningful it has to be guided by a 'grammar' or a sastra. The famous trilogy of Bhaktirasamrtasindhu, Ujjvalanilamani and Natakacandrika of Sri Rupa Gosvamin provided for the first time a total sastra of bhaktirasa.
It is felt that the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu be made available to the English-knowing world as well. Dr. David Haberman has fulfilled this need by undertaking the stupendous task of translating this definitive text on bhaktirasa into English. The present edition includes the original Sanskrit in Devanagari, Dr. Haberman's translation and exegetical notes explaining all the intricate points of the text. An exhaustive table of contents and elaborate introduction, glossary and bibliography have greatly enhanced the value of the edition.
In the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu, the bhaktirasa is totally uncovered and consecrated in its own right. The human intellect drank to its hearts content this pure, unadulterated rasathrough this text. This comprehension gets manifested in the rich poetic, musical, dramatic, ritualistic and architectural traditions of the 16th century Vraja. IGNCA has covered some of these manifestations in the following Vraja Nathadwara Prakalpa studies: Evening Blossoms - The Temple Tradition of Sanjhi in Vrndavana (1996); Govindadeva - A Dialogue in Stone (1996); In Favour of Govindadevji - Historical documents relating to a deity of Vrndavana and Eastern Rajasthan (1999).
In the Vraja Prakalpa it is a major commitment to make available this wisdom of rasa tradition, the tradition of Srimad Bhagavata and the Natyasastra of Bharat culminating in the text of Bhaktirasamrtasindhu by Sri Rupa Gosvamin. The late Dr. Premlata Sharma, an esteemed scholars of rasa-sastra, undertook the responsibility of translating this famous rasa trilogy into Hindi. Her Hindi translation of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu is being published. The English translation of the same text has been undertaken by Dr. David Haberman.
About the Author:
Dr. Haberman is currently on the faculty of College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University. His translation of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu not only shows his academic capability but also speaks his being soaken in the rasa parampara. Not only his two decade long physical journeys in the forests of Vraja-Vrndavana but also several of his well acclaimed published works on the cultural spiritual traditions of Vraja bear testimony to that.
That translation is an art and not a science is never more evident than when a translator faces the choice of the audience for whom he will translate. I have chosen to present this text in English in a style intended for general academic audience, not primarily for philologists. I assume that Sanskritists can read the text in its original language, and that most of my readers have little or no knowledge of Sanskrit. Therefore, although I have tried to make this translation as literal possible, I have also aimed to make it accessible to the nonspecialist; many of the notes were written particularly with this in mind. Consequently, I have endeavored to translate every term into English. For example, although the Sanskrit term bhakti is not necessarily well translated as "devotion", I have elected to do so in order to make the term available in a form commonly found in English translation. In this sprit, I have also sometimes added introductory phrases in square brackets (e.g., [The words of Yasoda:]) where I have deemed them necessary for clear understanding. A brief glossary is included at the end of this book to assist in understanding technical terms. Moreover, although the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu is written in verse that is often beautifully poetic, I have chosen to translate the entire text into prose for the sake of clarity.
This work was produced in response to an invitation by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, specifically for the Vraja Nathadvara Prakalpa series. A decision was made to publish a Devanagari edition and English translation of the version of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu edited by Puridasa Mahasaya and published in Vrndavana in 1946 in the Bengali script. This version was based on four published manuscripts. I have found very little disparity between the various published editions and the unpublished manuscripts of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu housed in the Vrndavana Research Institute. I have also made productive use of the edition published by Haridasa Dasa (Navadvipa: Haribola Kuthira, 1945), which includes the commentaries of Jiva Gosvamin, Visvanatha Cakravartin, and Mukundadasa Gosvamin, as well as a Bengali translation of the text by Haridasa himself, and the edition published by Syamadasa Hakima (Vrndavana: Harinama Press, 1981), which includes the commentaries of Jiva Gosvamin and Visvanatha Cakravartin, as well as a Hindi translation of the text by Syamadasa himslef. I found the Sanskrit commentaries as well as these Bengali and Hindi translation to tbe extremely useful throughout my own labors to produce a faithful translation of this text.
I had the great fortune of being able to translate most of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu while living in the Radharamana temple compound in Vrndavana. I have many fond memories of sitting at my desk after being woken by the temple bells of the first service before sunrise, and working on this project before a window that overlooked Nidhivana, as the pink light of the rising sun began to illuminate its alluring gardens. I would be pleased if some of the flavor of these scenes has found its way into this translation.
Project Director's Note:
Vraja Nathadwara Prakalpa a project undertaken by Sri Caitanya Prema Samsthana and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is dedicated to the study of the great cultural heritage of Vraja, a centre of Indian culture. We envisage the study of Vraja as an integrated unit which should consider the geographic and environmental parameters of the area, its social and economic history, as well as the artistic, ritualistic and devotional dimensions, in order to elucidate what it may be that provides the parameters of this centre. These dimensions give a body to the centre, yet at the same time, it needs a system of ideas to work as its driving spirit.
The Indian tradition is the worshipper of the absolute as sat, cit and ananda or the satya, siva, sundara. The cognitive awareness (jnana), the volitional enterprise (karma) and the aesthetic experience (ananda). Although absolute and non-dual in its own nature, the ultimate experience manifests differently due to variety in the nature of seekers. The India mind had understood the human nature through the categories of cognitive, conative and emotive and predominance of one of these traits characterizes the person. The predominantly cognitive seekers travel on the path of jnana. The more active conative beings follow karma and the emotive seekers take the route of bhakti. Despite the destination is common the undifferentiated experience of ultimate; the same non-dual reality appears as absolute sat, absolute cit and absolute ananda, respectively. This sadhana or the journey is the process of uncovering the real from the unreal, via negativea; which tells us that knowledge is not not-knowledge (ajnana), consciousness is not inert (jada) and ananda is not suffering (duhkha).
The evaluation of the experience of the Absolute Knowledge, the Absolute Will and the Absolute feeling seems not possible. Logically speaking the cognitive process focusses upon the objective dimension of human experience. The experience of the Absolute Will is where the subject totally eclipses the object in the last analysis. But in the feeling mode a relational experience of subject with the object is a prerequisite, which exists even in the last analysis. Therefore, the path of felling or bhakti includes object (knowledge) and subject (will) and transcends them both in its relational category.
Bhakti or devotional love is the way of directly encountering the rasa is the human experience. The aesthetic experience of rasa which is beginninglessly and constantly available to us was somehow not fully manifest and established from the "intellectual' point of view. Whether it is the hymns of the Vedas or the deliberations of the Upanisads, whether it is the poetic tradition of Kalidasa or the Puranic tradition of Vedavyasa, the prema, bhakti and rasa never stopped flowing; however, intellectually unaccomplished it remained, A glimpse of the rasa accomplishment is available in the encounter between Uddhava and Gopis. After that encounter the wisdom of knowledge wanted to be a domicile of Vraja, the realm of prema rasa.
Humans, by nature, are rational and logical beings. They prefer logical conclusions which have universal applicability. To logically establish and communicate the path of rasa was the endeavour of the seekers and thinkers of Vrindavan which emerged as the distinguished 16th century intellectual, cultural, spiritual centre of the Vraja region. Sri Rupa Gosvamin was a shining member of the Vrindavan Gosvamin's club. For him the emotionally experienced bhakti-prema-rasa is equally knowable and communicable. The human rasa consciousness could reach the ocean of rasa through Sri Rupa Gosvamin's unique work, Sri Bhaktirasamrtasindhu.
The aesthetic experience of rasa is not only the summum bonum but also the human raison d' etre. If there is an experience it can be expressed and for an expression to be meaningful it had to be guided by a "grammar" or a sastra. The communication and application of the sastric traditions enriches the artistic creativity in media which in turn enriches the sastric process. The famous trilogy of Bhaktirasamrtasindhu, Ujjvalanilamani and Natakacandrika of Sri Rupa Gosvamin provided for the first time a total sastra of bhakti-rasa. In the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu the bhakti-rasa is totally uncovered and consecrated in its own right. The human intellect drank to its hearts content this pure, unadulterated rasa through this text. This comprehension gets manifested in the rich poetic, musical, dramatic, ritualistic and architectural traditions of the 16th century Vraja. We have covered some of these manifestations in the following Vraja Nathadwara Prakalpa studies: Evening Blossoms The temple tradition of Sanjhi in Vrndavana (1996); Govindadeva A Dialogue in Stone (1996); In Favour of Govindadevji Historical documents relating to a deity of Vrndavan and Eastern Rajasthan (1999).
The Prakalpa is aware of a peculiar transitory moment in our scholastic history where the interpreters of the sastras in Sanskrit are getting fewer by the day. Hence, it is imperative that this wisdom is made available to the future generations through translations in Indian languages and possibly also in English.
In the Vraja Nathadwara Prakalpa it is a major commitment to make available this wisdom of rasa tradition, the tradition of Srimad Bhagavata and the Natyasastra of Bharat culminating to the text of Bhaktirasamrtasindhu by Sri Rupa Gosvamin. The late Dr. Premlata Sharma, an esteemed scholar of rasa-sastra, undertook the responsibility of translating this famous rasa trilogy into Hindi. Fortunately before departing from this world Dr. Premlata Sharma had finished her work and it is being put together for press by her able successor, Dr. Urmila Sharma. Her Hindi translation of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu is being published as VNP Series No.3, the first volume of which was given a very appreciative scholarly reception. Her second and third volume of Bhaktirasamrtasindhu are in press.
It was also felt that these works of Sri Rupa Gosvamin be made available to the non-Hindi speaking world as well. We are greatful to Dr. David Haberman for following this need by undertaking the stupendous task of translating this definitive text on bhakti-rasa in to English. Any translation necessarily brings in the element of interpretation. In the realm of scholarship where interpretation is involved, differences of viewpoint will be natural and are even welcome. Hence, we have decided to included the original Sanskrit text in Devanagari for the discerning scholarly community. An exhaustive table of contents will also serve as an index to the volume. An exhaustive introduction on the author, text and methodology together with the endnotes, glossary and the bibliography will be found as useful tools.
We are pleased to present the English translation of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu by Dr. David Haberman. This translation not only shows his academic capability but also brings out his being soaked in the rasa-parampara. Not his two decade long physical journeys in the forests of Vraja-Vrindavan but several of his well acclaimed published works on the cultural-spiritual traditions of Vraja bear witness to that.
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