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Vraja Vilasa :: All the cowherd friends, the sakhas

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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

He plays on an equal level with his friends, tending the cows and enjoying freely in Vrindavan. (

With their wonderfully sweet love they delight Sri Krishna.

kecid eṣu sthirā jātyā mantrivat tam upāsate;
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

Some friends are naturally steady, and they give wise counsel to Sri Krishna; some are very naughty and lighthearted and laugh while making Krishna laugh. Others are very innocent and delight Krishna with their sincere behaviour; there are others who astonish him with their crooked nature, some boldly challenge him to debate, and some gentle and blessed friends show him their love by speaking sweet words. In this way all these friends expertly serve Krishna according to their different sweet natures, which are born from their pure fraternal love. (

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:

pāla jaḍa koro śrīdāmā, sāna deo śiṅgāya
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

“O Shridama! Collect the herd by blowing your horn! My mother is repeatedly calling me in great anxiety. I understand that my mother is weeping and looking out for me over the forest path, seeing that we are returning late from the meadows! Time is up, come on, let’s go home! How can I remain alive without seeing my mother?” Balarāma dāsa says: “Hearing Kānāi’s words all the cowherd boys made a great tumult.” (
Pada Kalpataru

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.

vikṣipta gābhīgaṇe ekatra koriyā;
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

“How many days still before I can worship Sri Krishna’s friends in Vrindavan, who collect their scattered cows, who are mad of ecstasy to be in Govinda’s association, who hold hands with him, who joke and play with him, speaking funny words, who are always famous as Krishna’s greatest friends, whose pure minds have washed the great mud of awe and reverence off with water from the ocean of pure love, who are dressed and ornamented like cowherd boys and who have offered their minds, life-airs and wealth to the lotus feet of Sri Govinda?”


anantadas_thumbCommentary 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
Source: Tarun Govinda Das, Flowing Nectar Stream blog.

The post Vraja Vilasa :: All the cowherd friends, the sakhas appeared first on Vrindavan Today.


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