The following article by our Param Gurudev Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj has been excerpted from the magazine ‘Counterpoint’, Vol 1 No 6 Spring ’94, which was published by Sriman Devashis Prabhu.
Braja-rasa in Dwaraka
Sometimes there is a conception amongst the Queens of Dwārakā that, “Although we have Kṛṣṇa as our husband, we feel that somehow He is not Kṛṣṇa in His fullness. He always seems absentminded, as if His heart is not wholly with us.” Pondering the cause of this, the Queens came to know that previously Kṛṣṇa had some very sweet connection with Vṛndāvan and the Gopīs there. Thinking this to be the key to Kṛṣṇa’s absentminded mood, they began searching for an opportunity to find out how Kṛṣṇa was living in Vṛndāvan. They wanted to know about His pastimes there with the Gopīs, and to hear the descriptions from His childhood. Balarām’s mother Rohiṇī had lived in Vṛndāvan during Kṛṣṇa’s childhood, and although she is situated in vātsalya-rasa (parental relationship), she had heard many things about Kṛṣṇa’s Līlā with the Gopīs. So meeting her privately the Queens requested her, “Please describe Kṛṣṇa’s mādhurya-līlā in Vṛndāvan to us.” Rohiṇī was unable to avoid the Queens’ sincere request, and so posting Kṛṣṇa’s sister Subhadrā to keep watch, she began to narrate about His Līlā with the Milkmaids of Vraja.
It so happened that at that same time, Kṛṣṇa and Balarām were taking rest in a nearby room, and as Rohiṇī was describing the Vṛndāvan-līlā, They became aware of what was taking place. Coming to the door where Subhadrā was standing guard, Kṛṣṇa and Balarām could hear the talk of Rohiṇī, and remembering Vṛndāvan, the Gopīs and all these things, a great intensity of feeling came over Them. A great change of feeling came over Kṛṣṇa and Balarām, so great that Their bodies also began to change; just as Mahāprabhu had shown when He fell at the gate of the Jagannāth Mandir and His arms and legs entered into His body. Such a change in the body is possible according to some particular feeling of ecstasy, and feeling the ecstasy of Vṛndāvan, Kṛṣṇa and Balarām were undergoing such a transformation. And Subhadrā, although She had not lived in Vṛndāvan, seeing Her Brothers in this way, She also experienced some sort of sympathetic transformation. Internally that feeling came to Her and externally She was also transformed. The cause of Their disfiguration was the Vṛndāvan statement of Rohiṇī. Remembering that Vṛndāvan-līlā and feeling that, such change came in Their bodies.
Suddenly the group of Rohiṇī could understand that Kṛṣṇa and Balarām were there listening to their talk, and so immediately they stopped. The Līlā thus suspended, the disfigured formation of Kṛṣṇa remained, and He fell into a trance. Nothing could be done to reverse the situation, and so in desperation Kṛṣṇa was taken to the Nava-Vṛndāvan; a replica of Vṛndāvan that had been created in Dwārakā by Brahmā for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure. Although Kṛṣṇa was awake He could not come out of that mentality, that trance, until He could be taken to that Nava-Vṛndāvan. There in His trance He could only see Baladev, and all others present were eliminated from His vision. Seeing Baladev, Kṛṣṇa was happy that He was in Vṛndāvan. Then He saw Rohiṇī, “Oh yes, it is Vṛndāvan.” Mannequins of all the other residents of Vṛndāvan were also arranged there, and the Queens were following from a distance to see what will happen. After seeing Baladev, Kṛṣṇa sees His cowherd friends Śrīdām and Sudām are also there. In another part the Gopīs are there, and in one part Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is standing. Seeing Her mannequin Kṛṣṇa ran and embraced Her, and when Satyabhāmā saw this, some disfigurement also came in Her body. While Kṛṣṇa was in this temperament, Baladev was able to go to Him and gradually he was able to bring Kṛṣṇa back to the consciousness of Dwārakā. The sudden stopping of His experience of Vṛndāvan caused His condition and only by a gradual process, His mentality was again taken to Dwārakā.
This sort of tale is there, and when Dwārakā and Vṛndāvan mix, that is Jagannāth. He is mainly in Dwārakā, but the posing of Vṛndāvan is there. He has infinite forms of Līlā, so what can we trace or know with our finite capacity? In Dwārakā-Saṁhitā we find that there was an arrangement of Rāsa-līlā in Dwārakā also. The Queens had heard that in Vṛndāvan there was the Rāsa-līlā and that it is most wonderful. So when on one occasion the whole Vṛndāvan party was invited to Dwārakā, they privately approached Kṛṣṇa and petitioned Him, “The Gopīs have come, and for a long time it is our hearts’ desire that you will show Your Rāsa-līlā to us. Will You request them?” Kṛṣṇa replied, “If they will give their consent then I have no objection.” The Queens made their request to the Gopīs and the Rāsa-līlā was arranged. When it was complete, all that saw it were astonished, and the Queens went to the camp of the Gopīs to express their wonder. “What we have seen is the most wonderful thing, it is impossible to conceive even. We cannot properly express such a thing.” And Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī made this statement in reply, “What have you seen? That was nothing — an almost dead representation. Where is the Yamunā?Where is the kadamba tree, the peacock, the deer, and all these things? There in Vṛndāvan that was a natural stage, and that was performed there in our youth. What you saw, that is nothing, a sham, a mere mockery.” Then the Queens began to reflect, “If what we saw is of such lower order, then what type of superior quality Līlā must be found in the Original? It is totally inconceivable.”
So the psychology of Vṛndāvan is all-important. The attraction for that Vrndāvan-līlā — when that was suddenly stopped the result was a great change in the physical plane. Of course it is not physical, but for the purpose of explanation we can say physical. That check caused the disfigurement of the external plane. It is something like when there is an earthquake. The internal movement of the Earth disfigures the surface, so the internal disturbance that was created by the recollection of Vṛndāvan-līlā, that caused a great transformation in the superficial appearance. And when that was suddenly checked, that appearance remained. That has been pictured and shown in Jagannāthdev. When the higher prospect is suddenly checked, then the reaction comes. So Jagannāth is a reactionary stage between Vṛndāvan and Dwārakā. The conflict between the emotion of Swayaṁ-Bhagavān and the Vaibhava-vilās of Kṛṣṇa. It is something like rasābhās. In higher ecstasy also, rasābhās is possible. The clash of two different waves of rasa. The train may be proceeding in a particular motion and the carriage along with it. But if suddenly the train should brake, then the contents inside the carriage will be thrown into a great disorder. It is something like that.
ādau yad dvāro ’plavate,
sindhuḥ pārer apauruṣaṁ
This verse says that the Jagannāth mūrti has been there from the very conception, from the most ancient time. So every Līlā of the Lord is eternal. Every part of the infinite is eternal. In the beginning of Mahābhārat there is “Dhṛtarāṣṭra-vilāp”, and there Dhṛtarāṣṭra is naming the main incidents of Mahābhārat, and lamenting that, “Because of this incident and that incident I know that my party must be defeated”. But at this stage of Mahābhārata none of these incidents had taken place. So how can Dhṛtarāṣtra speak of these incidents at the beginning of the narration? It is because it is nitya, eternal. The beginning of the Līlā and the end of the Līlā cannot be differentiated. It is in a cyclic order and it is eternal. That is a very difficult thing to understand. To adjust to the eternal. Everywhere beginning, everywhere end. Everywhere there is centre and nowhere is there circumference. This is the meaning of infinite. This is Nitya-līlā. Everywhere beginning, everywhere end, and all coexistent at the same time.
Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāj Goswāmī has represented this in a particular way He has given the example that the sunrise is to be found always in one place or another. Now it is here, now there, and so on in this way. So like the sun Kṛṣṇa-līlā is moving, the birth, the childhood, being shown here and then extended to another brahmāṇḍa, another universe. That is the aspect of Bhauma-līlā. And in another aspect, in Goloka, we find that every Līlā is also nitya. It is reflected here in this world and the reflection is revolving like the sun. It may be traced here, now here, now there — a question of space, but in Goloka, in the central place it is all there simultaneously. It is also no less in the heart of the devotees. When a devotee remembers a Līlā, it may be Vraja-līlā, and now Dwārakā-līlā, but what is reflected in the heart of a devotee, that is also true. So in this way it is coexistent and it is continuing always. Every Līlā and every part of Līlā is always present, coexistent. Succession and coexistence both harmonised.
Devotee: Maharaj, is Guru-paramparā also part of Līlā?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Maharaj: Of course. It is the Līlā of Kṛṣṇa. But not only that, Māyā and everything else is included in Līlā from His standpoint. It is His sweet will, His independence.
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ, jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni, na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
(Srimad Bhagavad Gita: 9.4)
“Everything is in Me, yet nothing is in Me. I am everywhere and I am nowhere.”
Everything will come within this conception. He can even interfere with the free will of the jīva, but still He doesn’t. He is within and He can control, yet He does not. He may choose not to control. He has this independence. This sort of conception we shall have to indent. This is the conception of Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu and this is what separates His conception from the Hegalian philosophy and the philosophy of Aurobindo. Māyā is not a necessary part of existence, and by Kṛṣṇa’s will Māyā may be finished, and if He so desires, again recreated.
koṭi-kāmadhenu-patira chāgī yaiche mare
ṣaḍ-aiśvarya-pati kṛṣṇera māyā kibā kare?
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: 2.15.179)
He can make or mar. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur has written in his Tattva-sūtra that by His will, even the existence of the jīva-soul may be extinguished. This is not the general case, but still Absolute Power is with Him. Everything is designed and destined by Him, that is the expression of swarūp-śakti.
kṛṣṇa-līlāmṛta-sāra, tāra śata śata dhāra’
daśa-dike vahe yāhā haite
se chaitanya-līlā haya, sarovara akṣaya,
mano-haṁsa charāha’ tāhāte
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: 2.25.271)
Chaitanya-līlā is the Infinite sweetness from Chaitanya —whatever is within and whatever is coming from Him, that is all the high nectar of Kṛṣṇa-līlā and nothing else. Chaitanya-līlā means the centre from which Kṛṣṇa-līlā flows in different forms, oozing from all sides and even from every pore. Nothing but Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa-līlā, Braja-līlā embodied in Him, and coming out to help the public. The voluntary distribution of Kṛṣṇa-līlā of different nectarine tastes; that is Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu. He has no separate existence from the Nāma, Guṇa, Rūpa, and Līlā of Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and this includes Yaśodā and all others within the relativity of Kṛṣṇa. If one is there then all others must necessarily be there. So Kṛṣṇa-līlā means Kṛṣṇa with His group. Also Vṛndāvan — the water, the forest, the animals, the birds, all are included in Kṛṣṇa-līlā, Braja-līlā. And that and nothing else is all coming from Śrī Chaitanya. That is Rādhā Kṛṣṇa in self-distributing nature. Whatever comes from Him — that is all Kṛṣṇa. Even in Śrī Chaitanya’s childhood, when one could not trace anything of Kṛṣṇa, it was there, and in different ways He was creating the background for distributing Kṛṣṇa-līlā to others.
kṛṣṇa-nāma dhare kata bala
(Śrī-Nāma-Māhātmya — Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur)
This sound “Kṛṣṇa”, what is its value? Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmi has explained that Kṛṣṇa has four unique, special qualities. Every jīva has fifty innate qualities. Certain devatās have fifty-five, the five additional qualities partially manifest in them. Śrī Nārāyaṇ has sixty qualities in full, and Kṛṣṇa has four more qualities not found in Nārāyaṇ. Those four qualities are: rūpa-mādhurya (sweet form), veṇu-mādhurya (sweet flute), līlā-mādhurya (sweet pastimes), and parikara-mādhurya (sweet associates). Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmi has established the speciality of Kṛṣṇa-līlā in this way. And this is only found in Vṛndāvan. Vāsudev-Kṛṣṇa has no flute, and it has been mentioned that even Dwārakeśa-Kṛṣṇa is charmed to search for the rūpa-mādhurya of Vṛndāvan-Kṛṣṇa, the sweet Lord of Braja, Reality the Beautiful.
Photo: By Dreamodisha – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15451254