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Vraja Vilasa: Shridama Sakha

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I always take shelter of the feet of Hari’s best friend Shridama, who is the greatest object of Krishna’s love, who is the most expert of his friends, who is of blackish complexion, who is very proud of having the same qualities, age, dress and beauty as Sri Krishna and who becomes very unsteady when he is separated from his friend for even a moment.


 

kṛṣṇasyoccaiḥ praṇaya-vasatiḥ saṁpravīnaḥ sakhīnāṁ
śyāmāṅgas tat-sama-guṇa-vayo-veśa-saundarya-darpaḥ
snehād bandhoḥ kṣaṇam akalanāj jāyate yo’vadhūtaḥ
śrīdāmānaṁ hari-sahacaraṁ sarvadā taṁ prapadye

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: With the support of the Vedic scriptures, the Goswamis have taught the most intimate spiritual truth to the world, which is this: He who always sports in His evergreen pastimes in Vrindavan is the topmost embodiment of rasa; immersed in relishing the flavours of love with his companions, He is the summit of rasa. By hearing and chanting about the various wonderful and sweet exchanges of love between rasa-ghana-vigraha Shyamasundar (“the embodiment of condensed spiritual flavours”) and his companions in Vraja, this self-manifest transcendental rasa also becomes infused into the practising devotees. This is the teaching of the Goswamis, and it becomes accomplished by hearing and chanting this Vraja-vilāsa-stava.

In this verse Das Goswami describes the great love of Krishna’s best friend Shridama.

vayas tulyāḥ priya-sakhāḥ sakhyaṁ kevalam āśritāḥ;
śrīdāmā ca sudāmā ca dāmā ca vasudāmakaḥ
kiṅkiṇī-stoka-kṛṣṇāṁśu-bhadrasena-vilāsinaḥ;
puṇḍarīka-vīṭāṅkākṣa-kalaviṅkādayo’py amī
ramayanti priya-sakhāḥ kelibhir vividhaiḥ sadā;
niyuddha-daṇḍa-yuddhādi-kautukair api keśavam

 

Those who are equal to Krishna in age and have exclusive fraternal love for him are called
priya-sakhās
. Śrīdāmā, Sudāmā, Dāmā, Vasudāma, Kiṅkiṇī, Stoka-kṛṣṇa, Aṁśu, Bhadrasena, Vilāsī, Puṇḍarīka, Viṭaṅka and Kalaviṅka are among those
priya-sakhās
that constantly delight Sri Krishna with games like arm-wrestling and stick-fighting. (
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu
3.3.36-38)

 

eṣu priya vayasyeṣu śrīdāmā pravaro mataḥ

 

The greatest of these
priya sakhās
is Shridama. (ibid. 3.3.40)

 

About Shridama’s physical appearance Srila Rupa Goswami has written:

vāsaḥ piṅgaṁ vibhrataṁ śṛṅga-pāṇiṁ
baddha-spardhaṁ sauhṛdān mādhavena
tāmroṣṇīṣaṁ śyāma-dhāmābhirāmaṁ
śrīdāmānaṁ dāma-bhājaṁ bhajāmi

 

I worship Shridama, who wears a tawny coloured (
piṅga
) dress, who holds a bugle-horn in his hand, who wears a copper-colored turban, whose complexion is blackish and very enchanting, who wears a garland of forest flowers around the neck and who lovingly exchanges challenges with Mādhava. (ibid. 41)

 

His friendship is also most extraordinary.

tvaṁ naḥ projjhva kaṭhora yāmuna taṭe kasmād akasmād gato
diṣṭyā dṛṣṭim ito’si hanta niviḍāśleṣaiḥ sakhīn prīṇaya
brūmaḥ satyam adarśane tava manāk kā dhenavaḥ ke vayaṁ
kiṁ goṣṭhaṁ kim abhīṣṭam ityacirataḥ sarvaṁ viparyasyati

 

O cruel one! Why did You abandon us so suddenly on the bank of the Yamuna? Fortunately we have now found You again ! Aho! Satisfy Your friends with a firm embrace! O Krishna! I tell You the truth – out of separation from You the cows, we ourselves, the goṣṭha and indeed all desirable objects become unattractive within a moment! (ibid. 42)

 

Therefore it is said in the verse: snehād bandhoḥ kṣaṇam akalanāj jāyate yo’vadhūtaḥ: “Out of love he feels very unsteady when he does not see his friend (Krishna) for even a moment.”

Rupa Goswamipada has described the great affection and exclusive dedication of Vraja’s friends for Krishna –

kṣaṇādarśanato dīnāḥ sadā saha vihāriṇaḥ;
tad-eka-jīvitāḥ proktā vayasyā vraja-vāsinaḥ.

 

The friends in Vraja are always enjoying with him and they are extremely upset when they are separated from him for even a moment, for Krishna is their very life.

 

“Shridama is the greatest object of Sri Krishna’s love.” (kṛṣṇasyoccaiḥ praṇaya-vasatiḥ). The advanced stage of prema called viśrambha turns into praṇaya:

viśrambhaḥ priya-janena saha svasyābheda mananam

 

Viśrambha
means that the lover feels as if he is non-different from the beloved.

 

This means that the limbs like hands and feet of the beloved are felt as non-different from one’s own hands and feet. Praṇaya is the birthplace of sakhya-rasa and Shridama is the leader of the priya-sakhās, so he also holds the chief post in praṇaya. Thus Raghunath Das says:

tat sama guṇa vayo veśa saundarya darpaḥ

 

He is proud of having the same qualities, dress, age and beauty as Krishna.

 

rūpa-veṣa-guṇādyais tu samāḥ samyag ayantritāḥ;
viśrambha-sambhṛtātmāno vayasyās tasya kīrtitāḥ

 

Actually those who are equal to Sri Hari in form, qualities and dress do not have any feeling of hesitation and reverence like the servants, and because they have deep faith they are glorified as
vayasyas
(friends).(BRS 3.3.8)

 

Although this is said about all the friends of Krishna there is a special part about Shridama; the different servants know this. Thus Krishna’s friends told him when he lifted Govardhana hill –

unnidrasya yayus tavātra viratiṁ sapta kṣapās tiṣṭhato
hanta śānta ivāsi nikṣipa sakhe śrīdāmā pāṇau girim
ādhi vidhyati nas tvam arpaya kare kiṁ vā kṣaṇaṁ dakṣiṇe
doṣṇas te karavāma kāmam adhunā savyasya samvāhanam

 

O friend! You have spent seven nights standing here without sleeping. You must be getting tired now, so hand the mountain over to Shridama. We feel distressed when we see You suffering like this. Otherwise, just hold the mount with Your right hand for a while, and we will nicely massage Your left arm. (ibid 3.3.18)

 

The purport of the sakhās’ suggestion that Sri Krishna should now hand Girirāja to Shridama is that of all the sakhās Shridama is most equal to Sri Krishna.

In the śloka the pride of Shridama is mentioned; this is a sañcārī-bhāva (transitory emotion) of fraternal love. That which moves the course of ecstatic love is called a sañcārī-bhāva. Utsāha-rati (enthusiasm) is infused in the mood of friendship, and in games like wrestling the friends make Sri Krishna, who is dearer to them than millions of lives, happy.

kālindī-taṭa-bhuvi patra-śṛṅga-vaṁśī-
nikkvāṇair iha mukharī-kṛtāmbarāyām
visphurjjann aghadamanena yoddhu-kāmaḥ
śrīdāmā parikaram udbhaṭaṁ babandha

 

On the bank of the Yamuna the sky was filled with sounds of leaves, horns and flutes as Shridama showed his pride by tightly tying his scarf around his waist and preparing to fight Sri Krishna.

 

How this pride nourishes dual fights like wrestling can be best known from the book named Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta:

 

(While playing ball Shridama spoke proudly to Krishna, so Krishna told him:) “Are Shridaman! What are you saying? Don’t you remember that the stories of my glories burst your ears and that I almost crushed your whole body with my bolt-like arms, wielding a rod? If you desire your own welfare, then you should run away as soon as you hear the words ‘arm fight’!”

 

 

Shridama said: “Shridama, who is famous as the abode of power, has been victorious, is victorious and will remain victorious.That can be seen from looking at Your shoulders (Shridama sat there after defeating Krishna in a game, see
Śrīmad Bhāgavata
10.18.24), but You still diminish Your own glories by showing Your restlessness by Your angry and proud face? You’re so proud of killing all these demons, but for no reason, because the brahmins killed Putana with their mantras.And did You enter Aghasur’s belly alone, or what? Who will even count Bakasur? And if You say: ‘I lifted Govardhan hill,’ then I’ll say it went up in the air by itself, after being pleased by our Govardhana pūjā. You only had to stand under it, touching the bottom with Your hand! Why are You so proud?”

 

 

“O sakhīs!” Candana-kalā [who has been reporting Krishna’s activities to Radha] said, “In this way Krishna became very enthusiastic to fight with his friends, who worshiped his splendid rays with millions of hearts by sprinkling him with the nectar drops of their proud words. Being love personified, Krishna spent some time with two or three of these friends on the bank of the Yamuna.” (16.5-8)

 

Das Goswami said: “I take shelter at the lotus feet of this dear friend of Sri Krishna, named Shridama!”

śrī kṛṣṇera atiśaya priya-pātra yini
vayasya-gaṇa madhye yāre supravīṇa gaṇi
saundarya, guṇa veśa vayasa samāna;
sarvadā ānande yei kore abhimāna
kṣaṇakāla śrī govinda ho’le adarśana;
snehete adhika yini vyākulita hon
śrī govinda priya-sakhā śrīdāmā nāma yāra;
sarvadā tāhāre pāi ākāṅkṣā āmāra

 

“I pray that I may always attain Sri Govinda’s dear friend named Shridama, who is the object of Sri Krishna’s great love, who is counted as the leader of all of Krishna’s friends, who is always blissfully proud of the fact that he is equal to Krishna in beauty, qualities, dressing and age, and who is very much agitated by the pangs of loving unsteadiness when he does not see Sri Govinda for even a moment.”

 


anantadas_thumb

 

Commentary of Sri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar ofStavāvalī), 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.

 

The post Vraja Vilasa: Shridama Sakha appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

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