The meaning of RASA by Srila Prabhupada.



“One should understand, through the transparent medium of the spiritual master, that the Supreme Lord exists everywhere in His transcendental spiritual nature and that the living entities’ relationships with the Lord are directly and indirectly existing everywhere, even in this material world. In the spiritual world there are five kinds of relationships with the Supreme Lord—shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya. The perverted reflections of these rasas are found in the material world. Land, home, furniture and other inert material objects are related in shanta, or the neutral and silent sense, whereas servants work in the dasya relationship. The reciprocation between friends is called sakhya, the affection of a parent for a child is known as vatsalya, and the affairs of conjugal love constitute madhurya. These five relationships in the material world are distorted reflections of the original, pure sentiments, which should be understood and perfected in relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. In the material world the perverted rasas bring frustration. If these rasas are reestablished with Lord Krishna, the result is eternal, blissful life.” Adi 1.56 purport. All right reserved to BBT International.


The word RASA conjures all kinds of thoughts including the apasampradaya activities of the sahajiya class. But here Srila Prabhupada explains very nicely and fully the meaning and implications of RASA. The world is full of relationships and I am related by neutrality or “shanta” to the chair which is supporting me. The company worker is related by the relationship of servitude “dasya” to the owner (s) of the company. The friend relates to the friend through friendship (sakhya). Parents love their children in the mode of “vatsalya”. And conjugal affairs are called “madhurya” rasa. These are perverted and often frustrating reflections of the original pure and blissful relationships existing in the spiritual world and centered upon Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  There are a number of other relationships as well.

We may safely conclude from this passage that the straight forward English rendition of RASA is “relationship”. Sometimes however, as in word of word and translation of Adi 1.57 for example, it is translated as “mellow”, which sounds pretty outlandish and even disturbing, especially in the view that the Macbook dictionary does not give “mellow” as a name. It is given as a adjective and verb only. Just as the original use of “Sankhya-yoga” as title for chapter 6 of the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is has baffled us for years, the use of “mellow” provoques the same impression. The former has been corrected. What about the latter? This leads us to question whether this “mellow” rendition of the word RASA is not a misunderstanding and invention of Srila Prabhupada’s editors. We look forward to their exhaustive comments on this point.

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