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DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
In the advanced stage of bhakti-yoga when the yogi has achieved freedom from all material attachment, then the symptoms of love of God begin to manifest in the form of transcendental loving sentiments. The Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu by Shrila Rupa Goswami, says that in pure devotional service, there are five kinds of transcendental moods of reciprocation called rasas that are exchanged between the Supreme Lord and His pure devotees. The Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu defines the word ‘rasa’ as meaning. “That which is beyond imagination, heavy with wonder, and relished in the heart illumined with goodness. The sentiments by which one’s heart melts.”
These rasas are the descriptions of transcendental love of God. The five rasas are as follows:
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1) Shanta-rasa -after achieving the stage of self-realization just after liberation from material bondage that is called the stage of shanta-rasa, or the neutral stage. This is mood experienced by the four brahmachary sons of Lord Brahma the Kumaras.
2) Dasya-rasa -when there is development of transcendental knowledge of the Lord’s internal opulence’s, the devotee engages himself in the dasya-rasa, or devotional service in the mood of servitership. Lord Rama’s great devotee Hanuman is the best example of dasya-rasa.
3) Sakhya-rasa -by further development of the dasya-rasa, a respectful fraternity with the Lord develops, and above that a feeling of friendship on equal terms becomes manifest. Both these stages are called sakhya-rasa or devotional service in friendship. This was the mood of Arjuna who received the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita from Lord Krishna.
4) Vatsalya-rasa -the next stage is paternal affection toward the Lord, and this is called the vatsalya-rasa, where the Lord is seen as either a father or as the son. As exemplified in the mood as Mother Yashoda in Vraja-lila, including that of Mother Mary in Christianity where God is seen as the Heavenly Father.
5) Madhurya-rasa -the last stage is the mood of conjugal love, which is considered to be highest stage of love of God, although there is no difference in quality in any of the five stages, as each one is completely fulfilling in itself. The highest stage called madhurya-rasa, is where one experiences the mood of being the beloved of the Lord, as His wife or consort. The mood of madhurya-rasa is best exemplified by the gopis of Vrindavam headed by Radharani and the queens of Dwaraka headed by Rukmini.