“Lord Chaitanya taught people in general the method of vipralambha, which is the method of rendering service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the feeling of separation. The six Gosvamis also taught worship of Krishna in the feeling of the gopis in separation.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 46)
“Within the bhakti-yoga division of philosophy that descends from Shri Krishna Chaitanya, I often here the importance of worship in separation. That if you miss Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is actually the best feeling in the world. It follows the mood of Shrimati Radharani, who is the complete and full pleasure potency of the Divine, representing also the ideal position of the sparks of spirit emanating from the Supreme Spirit.
“That is to say our best approach is to follow Radharani. More specifically, we get the example of the gopis of Vrindavana, who experience intense feelings of separation from Krishna throughout the day. If we develop the same kinds of feelings, we have made advancement in spiritual life.
“At the same time, you teach that the living entity, the jiva, has forgotten the eternal relationship with the Almighty since time immemorial. This makes logical sense, at least to me. It explains why we jump from one activity to another, show faith towards one particular path only to renounce it at a later date.
“We are obviously looking for that which we had originally. We are trying to settle into one place, extracting enjoyment from it, in defiance of the laws of science which dictate that there must be change. If we turn towards dharma, which is real religion, we find something eternal, sanatana.
“Are not these two teachings incompatible? We are supposed to learn about Krishna since we have forgotten Him since time immemorial. Then we are supposed to relish the separation from Him, almost inviting that feeling. If separation and meeting are on opposite sides, how can they both be good? How is up the same as down, in the bhakti sense? Do you see what I mean?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the separation is simply another feature of meeting. We indeed require the meeting. That must take place. Otherwise, how would we ever feel the ecstasy of separation?
In ignorance, I miss the television shows from the past, the ones I used to watch as a child. I somehow stumble upon them online, where people upload to the internet what they have in their tape archive. One night I spend hours watching these videos, reminiscing of times gone by. I remember where I was, who was with me, and I think that life was great in those simpler times.
The issue is that I cannot dip into the well of nostalgia too much. In truth, the times weren’t so great. I was searching for a higher taste, as I am today. Unless and until I find a truly transcendental experience, I will keep jumping from one place to another.
Separation is a feature of the meeting. If I get to know God the person, who is described as Krishna in Sanskrit because of His all-attractiveness, I will desire association. In the same way that initiation with the spiritual master, the guru, is moving closer to him, upanayana, worship of the Almighty has the same connotation, upasana.
We can also look at separation as remembering the meeting. We are remembering the Supreme Lord and His features. This is just as good as the meeting because of the Absolute Nature of both the subject individual and the interaction.
This is the principle behind the potency of the routine of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. We chant these names to get closer to God, and when we feel that we know Him, we miss Him dearly.
As another example, I learn about Krishna through reading sacred texts like Bhagavata Purana and Mahabharata. I previously knew nothing about Him. With a steady routine in bhakti-yoga, after further progressing in the purification of consciousness, it feels as if I know Krishna better than anyone else. I always desire His association, and through separation it is as though He is always by my side, in the way that He guided Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Like with Arjuna word abiding,
Because there on chariot guiding.
Same influence with me,
Supreme Lord always to see.
Since first discovering,
Shastra knowledge uncovering.
So that separation another feature just,
But first to know Him a must.