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Vraja Vilasa: Subhadra, Krishna’s cousin-brother

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I offer my loving obeisances unto Subhadra, the son of Upananda, who has a blackish complexion, who has a fine intelligence, who is young and handsome, who is the best of astrologers, who defeats even Brihaspati in learning, who stands on the left side of the Lord of Vraja, Nanda Maharaj, who protects Krishna with billions of life-airs and who is his trusted counselor.

śyāmaḥ sūkṣma-matir yuvātimadhuro jyotir-vidām agraṇīḥ
pāṇḍityair jita-gīṣpatir vrajapateḥ savye kṛtāvasthitiḥ
kṛṣṇaṁ pālayatīha yaḥ priyatayā prāṇārbudair apy alaṁ
mantreṇāpy upananda-sūnum iha taṁ prītyā subhadraṁ numaḥ

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: Vraja Dham is the great transcendental center where the Lord and his devotees relish the sweetness of each others’ love. The companions in Vraja are unrivaled relishers of Sri Govinda’s love, who is the embodiment of complete transcendental bliss. What’s more, they are the embodiments of pure love! The Lord, who is Self-satisfied, is attracted to the blissful love of the pure devotees and becomes completely engrossed in these devotees, to the point that he loses himself in it. This indicates how much ecstasy there is in loving devotion for both the devotee and the Lord. Therefore the Lord solely desires this pure love of the devotees, which is completely free from hesitation and reverence. Therefore, what to speak of the loving devotees of Vraja, even from the reverential devotees the Lord likes to hear talks that are free from hesitation and reverence. In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya we find the following words of the Lord to Prahlad:

sa-bhayaṁ sambhramaṁ vatsa mad-gaurava-kṛtaṁ tyaja;
naiṣa priyo me bhakteṣu svādhīna-praṇayī bhava
api me pūrṇa-kāmasya navaṁ navam idaṁ priyam;
niḥśaṅka-praṇayād bhakto yan māṁ paśyasi bhāṣate
sadā mukto’pi baddho’smi bhakteṣu sneha-rajjubhiḥ;
ajito’pi jito’ham tair avaśyo’pi vaśīkṛtaḥ


O child! Give up this reverence that simply causes fear and respect to awaken within you! I don’t like this kind of reverence towards me by my devotees! Please show some free feelings of love towards me! The devotees see me and speak to me with love, and without fear. Although I am self-satisfied, I experience this kind of love as ever-fresh. Although I am eternally liberated, this ties me to the ropes of my devotees’ affection; although I am invincible, I am thus defeated and although I am ever-independent, they manage to subdue me completely! (HBS 14.27-29)


In this way one can understand the great glories of the love of the Lord’s companions in Vraja. The love of the people of Vraja is the deepest because of its absence of hesitation and reverence. They are completely absorbed in loving Krishna purely as the laukika sad-bandhu, the good worldly friend. The acharyas call this rāgātmikā bhakti. Each and every Vraja-companion gets a share of this great sacrifice of rāga-bhakti.

In this verse Das Goswami praises Subhadra, the son of Upananda:

sucikkaṇau nīla-varṇaḥ subhadro dīptimān bhavet;
pīta vastra parīdhānā nānābharaṇa śobhitaḥ
upanandaḥ pitā tasya tulā mātā pativratā;
paramojjvala kaiśoraḥ patnī kundalatā bhavet


Subhadra’s complexion is glossy, blue and brilliant. He wears a yellow dhoṭī and various ornaments. His father is Upananda and his mother the greatly chaste Tulā. Subhadra glows in the age of his most brilliant adolescence, and his wife is named Kundalata. (
2, 26-27)


Subhadra’s complexion is śyāma, he is of fine intelligence, he is young and handsome and the best of astrologers. His knowledge of astrology has been fulfilled because he centers it around Krishna and his love for him.

The purport here is that the great teacher of astrology, Mahamuni Sri Gargacharya came to Gokula on the instigation of Vasudeva to perform the name-giving ceremony of Sri Krishna and Baladeva. Seeing the pure parental love of Nanda and Yashoda for Krishna, Gargacharya’s reverential attitude was stunned. During Sri Krishna’s name-giving ceremony he left the dignity of their love unaffected and showed his mastery of astrological knowledge by describing Sri Krishna’s majestic glories in an

equivocal way. But Subhadra is actually worried about Sri Krishna having some accident, so he anxiously draws charts to calculate Sri Krishna’s good or bad fortune. In this way he makes his knowledge of astrology perfect in the realm of sweet love. That is his specialty in astrology, and that is why he is called the greatest of all astrologers. He defeats even Brihaspati in learning and intelligence.

This is what the people say when they see Subhadra’s learning and sharp intelligence. Otherwise, from the natural point of view, the learning and intelligence of all the people of Vraja is peerless, because the Lord personally told Uddhava:

eṣām buddhimatāṁ buddhir manīṣā ca manīṣiṇām;
yat satyam anṛteneha martyenāpnoti māmatam


“The intelligence of the intelligent and the wisdom of the wise lies in my bhajan, because in this temporary and uncertain human birth this is real and immortal, and through this a human being can become blessed by attaining me.” (Bhāgavata 11.29.22)


Who will then doubt the intelligence of the people of Vraja?

He stands by Vrajapati Sri Nanda’s left side, always serving him with advice and ready to give his life millions of times to protect and guide Nanda’s son, Krishna. Although all transcendental and other knowledge is always serving him, Bhagavan Sri Krishna acts only according to the advice of Subhadra – this is the nature of love. Mother Yashoda also asks Subhadra every morning where her Gopāla should herd his cows that day.

Das Goswami says: “I lovingly bow down to this son of Upananda, named Subhadra!”

śyāma varṇa sūkṣma mati navīna yauvana;
jyotirvid supaṇḍita priya daraśana
bṛhaspati jini yāra pāṇḍitya pratibhā;
vrajapati nanda vāme koriteche śobhā
prāṇa priya śrī govinde koriteche rakṣā;
upadeśa chale dāna kore nānā śikṣā
sei upananda putra subhadra yāra nāma;
nirantara stava kori padete praṇāma


“I always praise Upananda’s son named Subhadra, who has a blackish complexion, who is of fine intelligence and fresh youthful beauty, who is an expert astrologer, a great scholar who defeats even Brihaspati in learning, who stands beautifully at Vrajapati Nanda’s left side and who protects Sri Govinda on the pretext of giving him different advices and teachings, by bowing down at his feet.”



Commentary of Sri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj 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 Sheel.

© Translated by Advaita dāsa in 1994

The post Vraja Vilasa: Subhadra, Krishna’s cousin-brother appeared first on Vrindavan Today.



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