In India, there are many festivals held for the worship of Lord Krishna. There the year is divided into six seasons, each lasting two months. Among the six seasons, the most glorious is Vasanta, Spring. The Vasanta season is very pleasant, for the weather is neither too hot nor too cold at that time. An abundance of fragrant flowers, like beli, cameli, jui and others bloom everywhere, and flowers such as rat-ki-rani (‘night queen’) bloom even at night.
Rivers like Ganges and Yamuna are especially clean and pure at that time, looking as though they are simply waiting for Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, and the lands in many places look like yellow carpets because they are full with varieties of yellow flowers. Krishna’s garments are also yellow, because his most beloved Srimati Radhika has a yellowish-golden complexion and he wants to be always embraced by her.
Today is Vasanta Panchami, the beginning of the Vasanta season, at which time the Rasa Dance of Krishna was performed in Govardhana, in the village of Parsauli, by the lake known as Chandra Sarovar.
At that time the gopis were dancing with Krishna for the duration of a night that became billions of years; it became as long as one entire day of Brahma. On that night the moon stood still, not moving from its best view of the sight of the dancing of Radhika and all her sakhis with Lord Krishna. Such beautiful pastimes were born from an ocean of rasas (sweet, transcendental mellow tastes), saturated with unlimited happiness.
In Saradiya, the autumn season, the Rasa Dance was performed in Vrndavana, under the shade of the Vamsivata tree, in the beginning of Kartika month. All classes of gopis participated in that Saradiya rasa-yatra, whereas in this Govardhana Vasanti-rasa, only the highest class of gopis were allowed to participate. In this Spring Rasa Dance, Lord Krishna openly demonstrated the prominence and superiority of Srimati Radhika.
Krishna disappeared in the midst of this Vasanti Rasa Dance, and all the gopis were bitterly crying, “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” The gopis searched for him everywhere, and after some time they saw him in his four-handed form, standing like a statue. Coming nearer, they said, “Oh, he looks like Krishna, but at the same time he is not Krishna. Our Krishna is not four-handed. Where is his flute, his peacock feather, and all his other apparel gone? He now carries a conch shell, disc, club, and lotus flower – in four hands!” They prayed to him, “We are very attached to Krishna, and we are searching for him. We will die without him. If you are Narayana, please be merciful and tell us which way he went. Be merciful so that we may find him.” Then, after praying in this way, they left and went on their way.
When Srimati Radhika was arriving after the other gopis had left that place, the breeze that had just touched her veil carried so much fragrance from her body that it entered the nostril of Krishna and he thought, “Oh, my most beloved is near.” He forgot that he was supposed to maintain his four-handed form, and he could no longer hide his original form. Two hands disappeared at once, entering his body, and his original two-armed form reappeared – with his flute in his hands and his peacock feather atop his head.
rasarambha-vidhau niliya vasata kunje mrgaksi-ganair
drstam gopayitum svam uddhura-dhiya ya susthu sandarsita
adhayah pranayasya hanta mahima yasya sriya raksitu
sa sakya prabhavisnunapi harina nasic catur-bahuta
["At the beginning of the Rasa Dance, Lord Krishna hid himself in a grove just to have fun. When the gopis came, their eyes resembling those of deer, by his sharp intelligence he exhibited his beautiful four-armed form to hide himself. But when Srimati Radharani came there, he could not maintain his four arms. This is the wonderful glory of her love." (a quotation from the Ujjvala-nilamani by Srila Rupa Goswami, as quoted in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita 1.17.293)]
When Krishna sees Radhika, his most beloved and the embodiment of all love and affection, he forgets everything else. She is no one other than Krishna. She is Krishna himself, but in the body of Radhika.
In this way, Krishna returned to his own form and quickly embraced her. This occurred in vasanti-rasa-lila.
In the chapter of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita called Raya Ramananda Samvad, Srila Chaitanya Mahaprabhu questioned Sri Raya Ramananda Prabhu, “What is our sadhya (perfection) and our sadhana (the process to achieve that perfection)?” Raya Ramananda replied, beginning from varnasrama-dharma. He told Mahaprabhu, “According to the adherents of varnashrama-dharma, to be in family life and pursue varnashrama-dharma (the execution of the religious duties of the different castes and statuses of life), in order to please Krishna, is the best process to please him.”
Mahaprabhu rejected this and said, “In varnasrama there is no pure relationship between the soul and Krishna.” After that, Raya Ramananda suggested, “One should offer the fruits of all his activities to the lotus feet of Krishna,” but Mahaprabhu rejected this also, and said, “This is external; go further.”
After that Raya Ramananda said, “One should take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna,” and he quoted a verse from Bhagavad-gita: “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.66)] Krishna is saying here, “If you take the shelter of my lotus feet, you will be happy forever.” People all over the world think that this is the essence of the Bhagavad-gita, but Mahaprabhu rejected it as external and therefore not the ultimate goal of life, and he told Raya Ramananda, “Go on; continue further.
Raya Ramananda then suggested karma-jnana-misra-bhakti (devotion contaminated by mental speculation and the desire to enjoy the fruits of one’s actions), and he uttered the verse: “One who is transcendentally situated by realizing the impersonal brahma never laments or desires to have anything. he is equally disposed toward every living entity. He has the opportunity to realize the Supreme Brahman and become fully joyful if he attains pure devotional service unto me.”(Bhagavad-gita 18.54)]
Sriman Mahaprabhu also rejected both concepts – karma-jnana-misra-bhakti and brahma-bhutah – because they are devoid of pure devotion, and after that Raya Ramananda gradually came to the topic of prema-bhakti. Mahaprabhu replied to this, “This may be the stage of perfection, but please go further.” Raya Ramananda then discussed dasya, sakya, and vatsalya-prema (love for Krishna in the moods of servant, friend, and parent) and Mahaprabhu said, “Oh, very good, very good! But please continue further.”
In bhakti-rasa (intimate devotion to Krishna while thinking oneself in a relationship with him as an ordinary cowherd boy), Krishna is not anyone’s father or mother. In the understanding of pure bhakti, the Supreme Lord cannot be anyone’s father or a mother – he may only be a son. We can serve Krishna in any of four relationships, but if we think that he is our father or mother, we cannot serve him, because fathers and mothers serve their children.
After hearing about these relationships, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Raya Ramananda, “Please speak further,” and Raya Ramananda then said, “Gopi-prema (serving Krishna as a beloved) is the highest attainment, and among the gopis Srimati Radhika is the best. When Mahaprabhu asked Raya Ramananda to give an example of a pastime that reveals Radhika’s supremacy, Raya Ramananda first gave the example of Saradiya rasa-lila.
He said, “All the gopis were dancing with Krishna, and it appeared that one gopi danced between each two Krishna’s and one Krishna danced between each two gopis. Billions of gopis were dancing together with Krishna, but all of a sudden he disappeared. Why did he disappear? He did so to please Radhika. He took her with him, and no one knew where he or his beloved had gone.”
Mahaprabhu then expressed his doubt: “Because Krishna met with Radhika after his disappearance from the Rasa Dance, it seems that he was fearing all the other gopis. If he openly gives up all the gopis, leaving with Radhika in front of them all, then only it will be shown that the love of Radhika is the highest.”
Sri Raya Ramananda then explained about this vasanti-rasa. He said, “Krishna was dancing with billions of gopis, and meanwhile Radhika thought, ‘Krishna always promises: “You are my most beloved.” But I see that he is dancing with me and all the other gopis as well; so perhaps we are all equal in his eyes.’ At that time Radhika adopted a sulky mood and became somewhat angry. She thus left the Rasa Dance in front of all the other gopis, and Krishna followed her.
“Krishna was thinking, ‘If Radhika is not here, there can be no Rasa. There can be no meaning to the Rasa. I am performing rasa-lila only for Radhika. She is my half, my whole, my guru and my servant; She is everything to me. She is my life and soul. In vasanti-rasa, Krishna declared this openly.”
Mahaprabhu then said, “Oh, this is good!” and he questioned further, “I want to know about Krishna-tattva, radha-tattva, prema-tattva, and rasa-tattva from you.” When Raya Ramananda began to deeply describe these topics, however, Mahaprabhu stopped him and said, “Don’t say anymore. These subject matters are so elevated that there is no one in this world qualified to hear them. If you continue to speak about them, I will at once enter the mood of Krishna and I will have to give up this form of Sacinandana Gaurahari.” Raya Ramananda then stopped speaking.
For us, today is the observance of the anniversary celebration of that very same vasanti-rasa, and for Krishna this rasa is going on eternally. All of his pastimes are eternally manifest in Goloka Vrndavana, and he also displays them throughout innumerable universes as he appears in one universe after another. Here in vasanti-rasa, Krishna declared openly, “My super-most beloved is Srimati Radhika.”
There is no difference between Srimati Radhika and Lord Krishna. Krishna manifested Radhika from his left side. If we can make Radhika happy, then Krishna will be happy and he will be controlled quite easily; and this is the purpose of our observance of vasanti-rasa.