Śrī Gāyatrī Mantrārtha Dīpikā – Illuminations on the Essential Meaning of Gāyatrī
Chapter Eight – Śrī Mantrārtha Dīpikā – Revealing the Essence of Śrī Kāma Gāyatrī
by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravatī Ṭhākura
klīṁ kāma devāya vidmahe puṣpa-bāṇāya dhīmahī tan no ‘naṅga pracodayāt
“Let us meditate on the Master of the senses, Who carries five kinds of flower arrows, let us meditate on Him being thus enthused by the transcendental Cupid.”
śrī gaurāṅga prasādena bījasya hy artha-dīpikā
viśvanātha cakravartī namnāpi kriyate mayā
“By the mercy of Śrī Gaurāṅga I by the name of Viśvanātha Cakravartī am composing this torch-lamp illuminating the real meaning of the bīja-mantra.”
In the Rasollāṣa Tantra, there is a description of Śrī Śrī Rādha-Kṛṣṇa’s self-same identity with the bīja, or seed-mantra (klīṁ), as follows:
“Kṛṣṇa is the very kāma-bīja Himself, and Rādhā is the very rati-bīja Herself. By performing saṅkīrtana of both these bījas, Śrī Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa become very pleased.”
The Meaning of the kāma-bīja (klīṁ) is as follows:
“The kāma-bīja is the very seed which is one’s own desire or aspiration; or also, the kāma-bīja is the very seed which stimulates your desire; or also, the kāma-bīja is the very seed which is fulfilled by your desires.”
The Five Features of the kāma-bīja are described in the Bṛhad Gautamīya Tantra thus:
“Mantras devoid of a bīja are rendered useless. Indeed, the desired beneficial result is nullified. Being endowed with five kinds of ornaments, this kāma–bīja is supremely wonderful. These five ornaments are: the letter ka, the letter la, the letter ī, the ardha-candra (half-moon symbol in the Devanāgarī), and the candra-bindu (moon-dot above the ṁ). That which is endowed with these five things is known as the kāma–bīja.”
How the single syllable klīṁ is used by Brahmā to create the five material elements is described in the Gautamīya Tantra thus:
“From the syllable klīṁ Lord Brahmā created the material universe. This is mentioned in the chief śrutis. From the letter la, the element earth was created. From the letter ka the element water was created. From the letter ī the element fire was created. From the nāda, the ardha–candra (half-moon symbol in the Devanāgarī), and the candra–bindu (moon-dot above the ṁ) the element air and then the element of ether was created. Thus this bija–mantra is pañca–bhūtātmika, or composed of five different elements.”
How the kāma-bīja is identical with the Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Their blissful pastimes is described in the Gautamīya Tantra as follows:
“The Letter ka is the puruṣa known as Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme aggressive male, Who possesses the sac–cid–ānanda-vigraha, or the form embodying full eternity, knowledge and bliss. The letter ī is the prakṛtī known as Rādhā, the Supreme receptive female, Who is eternally the Vṛndāvaneśvarī, or the most majestic Princess of Śrī Vṛndāvana. The letter la is celebrated as constituting ānandātmaka–prema–sukha, or the happiness of Their mutual ecstatic love that is the form of pure blissful joy. By adding the nāda and bindu, this is the expression of cumban-ānanda-mādhurya, or the ecstatic sweetness of Their most blissful kiss.”
Furthermore, the form of the kāma-bīja that is identical to the śrī-vigraha of divine bodily form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is described in the Sanat Kumāra Saṁhitā as follows:
“Now the bodily form of the kāma–bīja will be described. All the letters of this bīja are non-different from the very body of Śrī Krsna. Please listen as I describe the corresponding order of this identity. The letter ka represents His head, forehead, eyebrows, nose, eyes and ears. The letter la represents His cheeks, teeth, jaw, chin, neck, throat and back. The letter ī is His shoulders, arms, elbows, fingers and fingernails. The ardha–candra is His chest, belly, two flanks, navel and waist. The candra-bindu is His thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet, heels, toes and moon-like toenails. O greatly learned Nārada! In this way, Śrī Hari’s bodily form is kāma–bījātmaka, or identical to the very kāma–bīja itself.”
The identity of the kāma-bīja with the five flower arrows of cupid is also described in the Sanat Kumāra Saṁhitā:
“The letters of this bīja are also equal to the five flower-arrows used by Cupid, the transcendental archer. Please listen to the order of these – the letter ka is amra–mukula (a mango bud), the letter la is aśoka (flamboyant), the letter ī is mallikā (jasmine), the ardha-candra is mādhavī (exotic scent), and the bindu is bakula (evergreen). Thus these five letters are the five kinds of flower arrows.”
Now I shall describe the meaning of the kāma-gāyatrī-mantra. It is said that this gāyatrī is a mahā–mantra that flows according to desire. All the sādhakas or practicing devotees who accept and use this mantra take their next birth in the spiritual planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. They attain the spiritual body of one of the Lord’s eternal associates in Vṛndāvana for the purpose of rendering eternal devotional service.
The definition of kāma-gāyatrī, and it’s object of worship is understood in the following manner. That gāyatrī which is joined with the kāma–bīja is called kāma–gāyatrī. Another way to look at it is – that gāyatrī which belongs to the kāma-bīja is called kāma-gāyatrī. The upāsya, or the object which is worshipped by this mantra is Deva, the Lord of Lords. He is sṛṅgāra-rasa-rāja-svarūpa-abhinna, or that Person who is non-different from the self-same form as the King of the śṛṅgara-rasa – the most decorative mellow of conjugal love. He is Madana, the transcendental Cupid Himself. He is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the all attractive one. He is Nandātmaja, the Son of Mahāraja Nanda; and He resides in one abode and one abode only – the realm of Śrī Vṛndāvana.
The features of the kāma-gāyatrī-mantra are listed in the Sanat Kumāra Saṁhitā as follows:
“First you should quote the word of Cupid (klīṁ), and then you should utter the word kāma-deva. This word is uttered with the suffix āya at the end of it. Then after that comes the words, vidmahe puṣpa-bāṇāya. After this, you utter the word, dhīmahi. Finally comes the words, tan no anaṅgah pracodayāt:
kliṁ kāmadevāya vidmahe puṣpa-bānāya dhīmahi tan no anaṅgah pracodayāt
Now the indications of this gāyatrī’s influence on Rādhikā and the gopīs will be described:
Due to stealing the minds of the vraja-gopīs headed by Śrī Rādhikā with the sweetness of His flute (veṇu-mādhurya), the word kliṁ is used. Due to stealing the discrimination of the vraja-gopīs headed by Śrī Rādhikā with the sweetness of His pastimes (līlā-mādhurya), the word kāmadevāya is used. Due to Kṛṣṇa stimulating the excitement of the blissful mellow of enjoyment in union with the vraja-gopīs headed by Śrī Rādhikā — stimulating this sambhoga-rasa by other things including the sweetness of His gracefully lovely qualities (lāvaṇya-guṇa-mādhurya-ādi) — the word puṣpa-bānāya is used.
Now I shall give a detailed word by word explanation of the kāma-gāyatrī-mantra as follows:
The word kāma (desire) indicates sambandha (relationship with the Lord), and also connotes anuga (following obediently). Only in the path of spontaneous devotional love known as kāmānugā is this gāyatrī used for worship (kāmānugā is that path which follows along one’s purified transcendental lusty desire for service). This mantra’s effect is that it illuminates and intensifies the manifestation of one’s most cherished desires.
Or another way to look at it is this – that Person who sports according to His own heart’s desire is known as kāma-deva, and unto this Kāmadeva, vidmahe, we are knowing. In other words, kāma-devāya vidmahe means that we are aware in consciousness only because our consciousness is for Kāmadeva, who is Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental Cupid. Or, our consciousness is cognizing only because it automatically flows unto Kāmadeva in all circumstances. We, means us who are doing this sādhana in the mādhurya-rasa, the mellow of conjugal devotion in Vraja.
Unto what type of Kāmadeva? He is puṣpa-bāṇa, or a flower archer Who uses five weapons, which are the five letters of the kāma-bīja, and by shooting them with His śāraṅga bow, these five weapons cause the bow to act in five specific qualities – unto this type of puṣpa–bāṇa, dhīmahi, we all mediate. To stress the important meaning of this meditation, the plural is used by the chanter of the mantra.
That Lord whose svarūpa or constitutional position is like this is called anaṅga, or He who is the invisible all-pervading Cupid devoid of a material body; He is situated in Vraja as the fresh young transcendental Cupid; He is the alluringly adolescent God of Love. And it is He only who is the upāsya (the worshipable object) of the upāsana (the process of worship) represented by both the kāma–bīja and the kāma-gāyatrī. This worshipable object is the attractor of the hearts and minds of all living beings (all living beings up to and including His very own self – He even attracts His own mind). He possesses a super-excellence of bodily beauty that cannot be equalled or surpassed by any other form. He is Śyāma, the dark beauty possessing the bodily luster of a fresh new monsoon cloud. He has a bodily figure of transcendence which is composed of a compressed living flow of divine luscious mellows. His stature perfectly personifies the King of śṛṅgāra-rasa (the most intimate ornamental mode of supreme mellows).
This kind of Lord – for us no / naḥ – may He be pleased with us, pracodayāt. Pra means prakarṣeṇa — with excellent superiority, and codayāt means may He be pleased – may He be pleased with us, and may He kindly engage us in His own devotional service (which is the best way of showing His pleasure). This is the meaning of the mantra known as the kāma-gāyatrī.
The kāma-gāyatrī is composed of 24 1/2 syllables. How these syllables are identical to the 24 1/2 moons in Kṛṣṇa’s body are described thus:
In this kāma-gāyatrī-mantra there are 24 syllables, and these syllables form 24 full moons. These moons arise in Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s bodily form and thereby make the three worlds kāma-māyā, or pervaded with His own transcendental lusty desire to sport. All of these 24 syllables, beginning from the first letter ka up to the final letter ta, thereby form all of Kṛṣṇa’s different bodily limbs, beginning from His face, cheeks, and forehead, etc., and ending with His hands and feet, etc. These limbs are counted systematically beginning from His right-hand side.
A List of Kṛṣṇa’s bodily features as forming the 24 1/2 full moons will now be described:
Kindly listen to the scriptural description of the moon-features displayed amongst the syllables of the kāma-gāyatrī. Please hear the description of the moon-identities amongst the syllables of this mantra. Know that in His face is one, in His cheeks are two, in His forehead is a half-moon, in the tilaka on His forehead is a full moon, on the fingernails on His hands are ten moons, and on the toenails on His feet are ten moons.
Thus, those who are very intelligent have given this kind of explanation for the gāyatrī-mantra. They have revealed that from the first letter ka to the last letter ta, all the 24 syllables systematically form the different moons which correspond to the moons of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s bodily features, beginning from His right side. This is their most authorized opinion.
In this regard, I would like to say – O my dear Vaiṣṇavas! Kindly listen attentively and I will narrate to you the story of a confusing problem I had at this point of composing my essay.
In the book Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has described in very clear language the systematic listing of letters in the kāmā-gāyatrī to be 24. And so in following his opinion, I have simply repeated the same thing in my writings. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta describes thus:
kāma-gāyatrī-mantra-rūpa, haya kṛṣṇera svarūpa,
sārdha-cabbiśa akṣara tāra haya
se akṣara ‘candra’ haya, kṛṣṇe kari’ udaya,
trijagat kailā kāmamaya
“Kṛṣṇa, the supreme Personality of Godhead, is identical with the Vedic hymn known as kāma-gāyatrī, which is composed of 24 syllables. Those syllables are compared to full moons that arise in Kṛṣṇa’s bodily features, which thereby fills the three worlds with desire for Him”. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 21.125)
Accepting this evidence as authoritative, and by honoring the opinion of the previous ācārya, I have similarly established this to be the truth. But then a great doubt confronted me – Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has somehow rejected the apparent fact that the kāma-gāyatrī-mantra contains 25 syllables; so I wondered on the basis of what scriptural proof, and with what intention did he say that the mantra has only 24 syllables? The reason for this remained beyond the comprehension of my intelligence.
Upon reviewing various scriptures that were recited and heard, I found that there was absolutely no clue to the possibility of a half-syllable existing anywhere in the mantra. Therefore I remained deeply immersed in the greatest ocean of doubt. I ask all of you to please consider this situation. Even if some say that the letter t at the end of the mantra (pracodayāt) is bereft of a vowel and is therefore counted as only half a syllable, then still this is not correct. This is because even though there is no vowel, the consonant is still present and is therefore counted as a full syllable. Then how is it possible to have half a syllable?
While referring to the scriptures on vyākarana (grammar), the Purāṇas, the Āgamas, the nāṭya (drama and dance scriptures), and the alaṅkāra (books on sophisticated Sanskrit ornamentation), etc., I still saw that according to the assembly of different vowels and consonants, the count of syllables in the kāma-gāyatrī-mantra totals exactly 25. There is no possibility of the existence of a half-syllable. In the Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyākaraṇa (the grammar composition of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī), in the chapter entitled Saṁjñā-pāda, it is stated:
nārāyaṇad-udbhūto ‘yaṁ varṇa-krama
“This sequence of the letters of the alphabet has arisen from Śrī Nārāyaṇa Himself.”
According to this; by adding up the letters beginning from the letter ka, they definitely total exactly 25. And the same thing is also confirmed by other Sanskrit grammatical systems. And furthermore, in the Bṛhad Nāradīya Purāna, in the section entitled Śrī Rādhikā Sahasra-nāma Stotra (the thousand names of Śrī Rādhikā), it is stated:
vṛndāvvaneśvarī rādhā, pañcāśad-varṇa-rūpinī
“Srī Rādhā is the Princess of Vṛndāvana-dhāma, and Her transcendental form is composed of 25 syllables.”
The same conclusion is also evident in other scriptures. Searching through all the works describing vowels and consonants, I could not find anywhere that this mantra adds up to 24 syllables. Is it possible that Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī was not aware of all these things? No, this is not possible. He is definitely in full knowledge of everything, and he is therefore completely free from the common material defects of error, illusion, etc.
Furthermore, if it is decided that the final letter t is a half-syllable, then has Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī broken the order of the moon-description in his writings? In other words, beginning from Kṛṣṇa’s face and ending up at His feet by a systematic description of the letters, we would then end up with the so-called half-syllable t being at Kṛṣṇa’s feet – but Kṛṣṇa Dāsa states that the half-moon is in Kṛṣṇa’s forehead. This is all quoted as follows from the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 21st chapter, during Śrī Sanātana-śikṣā (Śrī Caitanya’s Teachings to Sanātana Gosvāmī). During those talks of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, while elaborating on the topic of sambhandha-tattva-vicāra (the consideration of the truth of our relationship with the Lord, it is stated:
Śrī Caitanya, ranting in the love-sick mood of Rādhārāṇī, speaks to Sanātana Gosvāmī – Rati Mañjarī about Her Beloved Kṛṣṇa thus: (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 21.126-130)
sakhī he, kṛṣṇa-mukha–dvija-rāja-rāja
kṛṣṇa- vapu-siṁhāsane, vasi’ rājya-śāsane,
kare saṅge candrera samāja
“O my dear girlfriend! The face of Kṛṣṇa is the king of all moons, and the body of Kṛṣṇa is the throne. Thus the king governs a society of moons.”
dui gaṇḍa sucikkaṇa, jini’ maṇi-sudarpaṇa,
sei dui pūrṇa-candra jāni
lalāṭe aṣṭamī-indu, tāhāte candana-bindu,
sei eka pūrṇa-candra māni
“Kṛṣṇa has two cheeks that shine like glowing gems. Both are considered full moons. His forehead is considered a half moon, and His spots of sandalwood are considered full moons.”
kara-nakha-cāndera hāṭa, vaṁśī-upara kare nāṭa,
tāra gīta muralīra tāna
pada-nakha-candra-gaṇa, tale kare nartana,
nūpurera dhvani yāra gāna
“His fingernails are many full moons, and they dance on the flute on His hands. Their song is the melody of that flute. His toenails are also many full moons, and they dance on the ground. Their song is the jingling of His ankle bells.”
nāce makara-kuṇḍala, netra–līlā-kamala,
vilāsī rājā satata nācāya
bhrū–dhanu, netra–bāṇa, dhanur-guṇa–dui kāṇa,
nārī-mana-lakṣya vindhe tāya
“Kṛṣṇa’s face is the enjoyer king. That full-moon face makes His shark-shaped earrings and lotus eyes dance. His eyebrows are like bows, and His eyes are like arrows. His ears are fixed on the string of that bow, and when His eyes spread to His ears, He pierces the hearts of the gopīs.”
ei cāndera baḍa nāṭa, pasāri’ cāndera hāṭa,
vinimūle vilāya nijāmṛta
kāhoṇ smita-jyotsnāmṛte, kāṅhāre adharāmṛte,
saba loka kare āpyāyita
“The dancing features of His face surpass all other full moons and expands the marketplace of full moons. Although priceless, the nectar of Kṛṣṇa’s face is distributed to everyone. Some purchase the moon-rays of His sweet smiles, and others purchase the nectar of His lips. Thus He pleases everyone.”
In this way, after considering both of these versions exhaustively from many different points of view, I still could not come to a sound conclusion. At this point, I gave up all endeavors for finding the answer. Rejecting all eating and drinking, I became so upset in my mind that I decided to give up my body. In this sad mood, I simply sat motionless on the bank of Rādha-kuṇda. If one is not even properly aware of syllables of the mantra, then how will it ever be possible to become conscious of the Lord? Therefore it is proper to give up the body.
Thereafter, the second prahara of the night had elapsed (well after midnight), and I finally dozed off to sleep – suddenly I had seen that Śrī Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī, Śrī Rādhikā Herself, had come to me and began to speak:
“O Viśvanātha! O Hari Vallabha! Please get up! That which Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja has written is true; he is also My very dear confidential maidservant. By My mercy, he knows everything about My secret innermost moods. Please don’t have any doubt about his statement.
“This mantra is the mantra for worshipping Me – indeed, I can be known by the syllables of this mantra. Without My mercy, no one can learn anything about the mystery of these matters. The solution to the half-syllable question is found in the book known as Varṇāgama-bhāsvadi. Seeing this book, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja had written as he did. Now please listen – after you wake up, just refer to that book and then compile all this evidence for the benefit of others.”
Hearing these words of Śrī Rādhikā, I regained consciousness and quickly got up. My confusion was now gone, and I again and again lamented, “Alas! Alas!” Holding Her order in my heart, I endeavored to carry it out.
While She was describing the half-syllable to me in the vision, Śrī Rādhikā had spoken thus:
vyanta ya-kāro ‘rdhākṣam
tad-itaraṁ purṇākṣaraṁ purṇa-candra
“The letter ya which is followed by the letter vi is considered to be a half-syllable. This falls on Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s forehead, which forms the halo of a half-moon. All other letters of the mantra are full syllables and therefore full moons.”
The description of the half-syllable as according to the direct instruction of Śrī Rādhikā, is indeed found in the book Varṇāgama-bhāsvadi thus:
vi’kārānta-’ya’kareṇa cārdhākṣaraṁ prakīrtitaṁ
“The letter ya, when followed by the letter vi, is celebrated as being a half-syllable.”
gāyantam trāyate tasmāt gāyatrītvam tatah smṛtaṁ
“That which delivers the chanter is known as ‘gāyatrī.’
Thus ends my explanation of kāma-gāyatrī known as Mantrārtha Dīpikā.