Fundamental Aspects of Sankaradeva's Religion - Dāsya Bhāva

Of the different attitudes of devotion, Sankaradeva advocated dāsya or servitude. The devotee regards God as his master, serves His feet and knows none other than Him. 'mādhurya bhāva' of the Radha-Krishna cult is not acknowledged in this system of Vaisnavism.

A bhāva is basically the attitude that a devotee adopts in relation to God. Although there are many attitudes like that of shānta (peaceful adoration), sākhya (friend-sentiment), vātsalya and mādhurya, Sankaradeva considers the attitude of dāsya to be the best.

Servant of Krishna

Sankaradeva showed the way by referring to himself as Krishnara kinkara, ie Servant of Krishna:

Krishnara kinkare kahe edā āna kāma
pātaka chāroka dāki bolā Rāma-Rāma.

The entire corpus of Vaisnavite literature in Assam resonates with this feeling (bhāva) of dāsya. Many of the divine-songs or 'borgeets' are also permeated by this bhāva. Thus, dāsya-bhāva is one great distinguishing feature of Sankaradeva's Eka-Sarana Hari Nām Dharma.

The following passages from Madhavadeva's Nām Ghosā make this point more eloquently:

Nām-dhan diā mok kinā Banamāli:
Dās pāi nalawā kaman thākurāli.
Nij dās kari Hari mok kinā kinā:
Ān dhan nalāgay Nām-dhan binā.

O God, do purchase me by giving money in shape of Nām. What master is there who would not buy a slave that offers himself? Do purchase me as your own slave. There is no need of any money else than Thy Nam.

I do not belong to the four castes, nor to the four āshramas. Neither am I pious, giving gifts and visiting sacred places. But, surely do I become the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of the Lord of the Gopis, the Lord who is the Ocean of Fullness of Joy.

Madhava was the ultimate servitor. He took Krishna to be his Master and always looked upon himself as just a humble servant:

Hari guna nām bhāviyā purushe rahaya Harir pāse
Harir carana hridaye dhariyā kahaya Mādhava dāse.

Kahaya Mādhava dasa deena matiheenā
Sahaje dayālu Hari bhakati adhinā.

Madhava, in his writings, always referred to himself as dāsa, deena, dāsānudāsa, mudhamati, etc. This self-effacement has remained an integral part of Assam Vaisnavism ever since.

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