I take shelter of Sri Krishna’s friends, who herd the cows that have strayed here and there, who play and joke with Krishna hand in hand, who have washed off the great mud of awe and reverence with the water from the ocean of their pure fraternal love, who are decorated with all the gopa apparel like flutes, horns and reeds, and who have offered their lives, hearts and wealth to Sri Krishna’s lotus feet.
kṛtvaikatra gavāṁ kulāni paritaḥ kṛṣṇena sārddhaṁ mudā
hastāhasti vinoda narma kathanaiḥ khelanti mitrotkarāḥ
premāmbhodhi vidhauta gaurava mahā-paṅkās tad aṅkārcitās
tat pādārpita citta jīvita kalā ye tān prapadyāmahe
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Sripada Das Goswami praises all of Sri Krishna’s friends, that have taken shelter of Vraja’s pure fraternal love, and with whom he accomplishes his sweet and wonderful goṣṭha-vihāra (pasturing-pastimes), immersed in laughter and joking:
nija sama sakhā saṅge godhana cāraṇa raṅge;
vṛndāvane svacchanda vihāra
With their wonderfully sweet love they delight Sri Krishna.
taṁ hāsayanti capalāḥ kecid vaihāsikopamāḥ
kecid ārjava-sāreṇa saralāḥ śīlayanti tam;
vāmā vakrima-cakreṇa kecid vismāyayanty amuṁ
kecit pragalbhāḥ kurvanti vitaṇḍām amunā samam;
saumyāḥ sunṛtayā vācā dhanyā dhinvanti taṁ pare
evaṁ vividhayā sarve prakṛtyā madhurā amī;
pavitra maitrī vaicitrī cārutām upacinvate
In this verse Das Goswami praises the cowherd boyfriends and describes their sweet activities, remembering the time that Sri Krishna returns home with the herd of cows in the late afternoon (uttara-goṣṭha). The cowherd boys leave the cows to graze in Sri Vrindavan’s extensive pasturing fields and themselves become absorbed in playing with Sri Krishna. Then the time for the uttara goṣṭha approaches, and by addressing Shridama Sri Krishna tells his friends:
saghane viṣama khāi, nāma kore māy
āji māṭhe āmādera vilamba dekhiyā
heno bujhi kānde māya patha pāne cāiyā
beli avasāna hoilo colo yāi ghare
māye nā dekhiyā prāṇa kemon jāni kore
balarāma dāsa kohe śuni kānāira bola
sakala rākhāla mājhe paḍe utarola
Hearing Sri Krishna’s words, the cowherd boys collected the cows that were wandering here and there in the woods. Breathing deeply in and out because of the hard work, these friends play all kinds of delightful games, holding hands with Krishna, or they show great ecstasy while massaging his hands and head towards home, taking their cows along, playing and making many funny jokes.
When Krishna returns home from the meadows the greatest gods like Brahmā and Śiva daily appear before him, offer all kinds of reverential prayers and praises unto him, and return to their own abodes. While the gods offer these praises to Krishna the cowherd boys stand by and listen, and when the gods have left they come before Krishna and imitate their gestures and words, joking about them and making Krishna laugh.
These friends, who have taken shelter of feelings of pure fraternal love, think to themselves: “How well do these gods know our friend? When they see Sri Krishna killing a demon or so they mistakenly think him to be the Supreme Lord and praise him as such. But only we know the secrets about him. As a result of Vrajarāja Sri Nanda’s worship of Lord Nārāyaṇa our friend Sri Krishna has been empowered by Lord Nārāyaṇa, so that he was able to kill all those demons. Because the gods are not aware of this secret they call our friend Īśvara (God)! If our friend was really God, then why would he snatch food already eaten by us (ucchiṣṭa) from our hands? And how could he be defeated by us in play?”
Those friends, that have taken shelter of pure fraternal love, thus make Krishna laugh with their joking imitations of the gods’ prayers. Thus Das Goswami says: premāmbhodhi vidhauta gaurava mahā paṅkāḥ — “The great mud of their awe and reverence has been washed off by the ocean of pure fraternal love.”
They have given their wealth, minds, hearts and everything to Sri Krishna’s lotus feet. What to speak of wakefulness, even in dreams they do not know anything else but Sri Krishna. When he lies on his mother’s lap at night they call out Kānāi! Kānāi! and he wakes up with a startle. Das Goswami desires the shelter of the lotus feet of these friends of Sri Krishna, who are so sweetly decorated with clothes and ornaments like horns and reeds for their duty of herding the cows.
govindera saṅge yārā ānande mātiyā
hastāhasti kori yārā govinda sahite;
hāsya parihāse khele kautuka vākyete
kṛṣṇera parama mitra khyāti sarva kāle;
abhimāna mahāpaṅka premāmbhodhi jale
prakṣālana koriyāche yādera śuddha mana;
gocāraṇa veśa yādera aṅgera bhūṣaṇa
yārā nija mana, prāṇa, saravasa dhana;
śrī govinda pāda padme koreche arpaṇa
sei kṛṣṇa sahacare śrī vṛndāvane;
bhajanā koribo āmi āra koto dine
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.
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