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Vraja Vilasa: Krishna’s grandmother, Variyasi Devi

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priyasya naptuḥ sukhato’ti garvāt
pādau na yasyāḥ patataḥ pṛthivyām
namāmi narmārcita-naptṛ-candrāṁ
varīyasīṁ kṛṣṇa pitāmahīṁ tām

I offer my obeisances unto Variyasi, Sri Krishna’s paternal grandmother, whose feet do not touch the ground out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved grandson, and who always delights her moon-like grandson with her joking words.

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: The līlā-śakti paints delightful pictures of the Vraja-companions’ sweet love in the consciousness of Raghunath Das Goswami, who relishes these sweet feelings himself and leaves his adharāmṛta (lip-nectar, or remnants) to the practising devotees of the world. When the practising devotees hear and chant this topic, their personal feelings towards their beloved deity will awaken and the corresponding prema will be infused into their hearts.

ei amṛta anukṣaṇa, sādhu mahanta megha-gaṇa,
viśvodyāne kore variṣaṇa
tā’te phale prema-phala, bhakta khāya nirantara,
tāra śeṣe jīye jagajana

The great devotee-saints are

like clouds that always shower this nectar over the garden of the world, and prema sprouts as a result. The devotees always eat this, and the people of the world subsist on their remnants. (Caitanya Caritāmṛta)

In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami introduces us to the great love of the gopi Variyasi for her grandson Sri Krishna.

pitāmahī mahī-mānyā kusumbhābhā harit-paṭā;
varīyasīti vikhyātā kharvā kṣīrābha-kuntalā

Sri Krishna’s paternal grandmother is named Variyasi, and she is greatly respected in the Vraja-maṇḍala. Her complexion resembles the Kusumbha-flower, her dress is green, she is small and her hair is white like milk.

Out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved grandson her feet do not touch the ground, so it is said by the people. This pride is not a transformation of the mundane modes of passion and ignorance, this is a transformation of pure sattva (spirit). This pride arises from love of God.

prītiḥ khalu bhakta cittam ullāsayati mamatayā yojayati viśrambhayati, priyatvātiśayenābhimānayati, drāvayati, sva viṣayaṁ pratyabhilāṣātiśayena yojayati prati-kṣaṇam eva sva viṣayaṁ nava navatvenānubhāvayati asamordhva camatkāreṇonmādayati ca.

Love delights the hearts of the devotees, links through feelings of mine-ness, bestows confidence and, through great feelings of affection, special pride, it causes one to melt (or soften), it creates a great craving for the Lord and a resultant attachment to him, it causes the lover to experience the Lord as fresh at every moment and intoxicates the lover with unprecedented feelings of astonishment. (
Prīti Sandarbha
, 84)

In the bhakti shastras (devotional scriptures) these feelings are progressively described as rati, prema, praṇaya, māna, sneha, rāga, anurāga and mahābhāva. Taking this abhimāna or pride to heart, Sri Radharāṇī is saying: “O friend! I am proud of Your pride!”

Prema cannot leave this pride for even a moment. premera sadāi abhimāna, prema cāya ṣola ānā prāṇa. “Prema always has pride, prema wants 100% of the heart!” What can a premika be more proud of? That the Lord is his all-in-all! The experienced know how high the price of this loving pride is! Knowing this to be the soul of prema they want to embrace it from all sides.

How glorious the prema of Sri Krishna’s grandmother Variyasi is can be known from this verse. She always makes fun and jokes with Sri Krishna and Sri Krishna is also floating in an ocean of topmost bliss when he hears her jokes.

Seeing that Sri Krishna is happy with her jokes and humor grandma calls him again and again: “O rey Nāti-cāṅd (moon-like grandson)! Come here!”

The acharyas say: “Those who have realized that Krishna is the Supreme Truth cannot understand him in full. Sri Govinda, who is the embodiment of sweetness, can only be fully realized through a sweet loving attitude. One should not think, though, that the knowledge of the Lord’s prowess is thereby somewhat lost. Knowledge of the Lord’s sweetness, which is like the Triveṇī (the confluence of the Gaṅgā, Yamuna and Sarasvatī) is always inseparably mixed with awareness of the Lord’s prowess. When separation is experienced this is exposed and that knowledge saves the life of the separated devotee.”

Das Goswami bows down at the feet of Krishna’s paternal grandmother Variyasi, who is most conscious of his sweetness –

kṛṣṇa mora nāti’ boli garve buka bharā;
kṛṣṇa sukha sampad heri sukhe ātma-hārā
pautra garve pā phele nā kabhu dharaṇīte;
hāsya parihāse magna govinda sahite
kṛṣṇa pitāmahī boli yāra kautuka kathā;
ullāsete śune sabe prasaṅga hoy yathā
sei varīyasī kṛṣṇa pitāmahī yini;
kṛpā-lobhe sadā pade praṇata ye āmi

Eager for her mercy I bow down to Krishna’s paternal grandmother Variyasi, whose heart is filled with pride as she says: “Krishna is my grandson!”, whose feet don’t touch the ground out of pride of her grandson, who is always immersed in joking and laughing with Govinda and who gladly speaks of herself as Krishna’s paternal grandmother, something which is glady heard and discussed by all the others.

Commentary of Sri Radhakuṇḍa Mahānta Paṇḍita Sri Ananta Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is named
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā
(a drop of the nectar of
Stavāvalī
), and was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) from Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.

Devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Śīla.

© Translated by Advaita dāsa in 1994

The post Vraja Vilasa: Krishna’s grandmother, Variyasi Devi appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

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