I take shelter of Krishna’s playground named Āsthānī at the base of Nandishwar Hill. It is a beautiful pavillion, lovingly made of large stones, by expert architects, set in a square shape. There Sri Krishna plays many fun games with his friends; thus it is anointed by the fragrance of Sri Hari’s lotus feet.
prītyā nandīśvara giritaṭe sphāra pāṣāṇa vṛndaiz
cātuṣkoṇye’nukṛti gurubhir nirmitā yā vidagdhaiḥ
reme kṛṣṇaḥ sakhi parivṛto yatra narmāṇi tanvann
āsthānīṁ tāṁ hari pada lasat saurabhāktāṁ prapadye
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Raghunath Das Goswami praises Sri Krishna’s playground named Āsthānī. āsthānī maṇḍapaḥ pāṇḍu-gaṇḍa-śailāsanojjvalaḥ. āmoda vardhano nāma paramāmoda vāsitaḥ (Radha Krishna Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā) “On the white slabs of stone adjoining Nandishwar Hill is Āsthānī, the place where Krishna sits with his friends. He looks very beautiful sitting at this place.” Another name of this place, which is always scented by the greatest perfumes, is ‘Āmoda Vardhana.”
Sri Nandishwar Hill is the abode of many of Sri Govinda’s pastimes, and it is most dear to Vrajendranandana. sambhrājate priyatayā vrajarāja sūnor govardhanād api gurur vraja vanditād yaḥ (Vilāpa Kusumāñjali – 60) “Nandishwar Giri is most dear to Sri Nandanandan and is even more worshipable for the people of Braj than Govardhana!” Krishna is always intoxicated by the taste of the blissful games he plays here with his friends. Sri Nand Maharaj engaged different expert artistic architects in making a square platform here out of large jewel-studded slabs of stone where his Gopāl could play with his friends. How many sweet and humorous pastimes of laughter and joking Sri Hari expands here with his friends!
Das Goswami is a maidservant who has taken shelter of Sri Radharani’s lotus feet. Sometimes she goes to Nandishwar as a messenger who carries a message of virahiṇī Srimati, and sees Sri Krishna playing here on this platform. When Mādhava sees Srimati’s maidservant, he blooms up, as if his life is fulfilled! How wonderful is the majesty of Sri Radha’s love, that ānandamaya vigraha (Krishna, the embodiment of transcendental bliss) considers himself blessed when he sees her maidservant! Krishna is completely subdued by the love of Sri Radha, who is his pleasure-potency. Sri Hari, who perspires when he is repeatedly fanned by Sri Radha’s restless eyelids, who is agitated even when he lives in the city of her beauty and who remains thirsty, even though he drinks the nectar of her smile again and again, is the bestower of our delight!
In his maidservant form, Das Goswami experiences how this wonderful playground called Āsthānī smells of Sri Hari’s lotus feet. His heart and mind are intoxicated by this wonderful bodily fragrance. This bodily fragrance has the greatest influence on the young ladies of Braj!
netra nābhi vadana, kara yuga caraṇa,
ei aṣṭa-padma kṛṣṇa aṅge
karpūra lipta kamala, tāra yaiche parimala,
sei gandha aṣṭa padma saṅge
“There are eight lotus flowers on Krishna’s body – his eyes, his navel, his face, his hands and his feet – and these eight lotus flowers smell of lotus anointed with camphor.”
hema kīlita candana, tāhā kori gharṣaṇa,
tāhe aguru kuṅkuma kastūrī
karpūra sane carcā aṅge, pūrva aṅgera gandha saṅge,
mili ḍākā yeno koilo curi
hare nārīra tanu mana, nāsā kore ghūrṇana,
khasāya nīvī chuṭāya keśa bandha.
kori āge bāurī, nācāya jagata nārī,
heno ḍākāti kṛṣṇa aṅga gandha
(Caitanya-caritamrita Antya Ch. 19)
“When golden sandalwood with aguru (Aquilaria agallocha), vermilion and musk is mixed with camphor and spread on Krishna’s body it adds to Krishna’s original bodily fragrance and merges with it as one. That combined fragrance steals the bodies and minds of the women and makes their noses dizzy. It makes the women of the world dance like madwomen. Thus Krishna’s bodily fragrance acts like a robber.”
Radha’s maidservants perceive how this fragrance maddens their mistress with feelings of ecstatic love. Das Goswami says: “I take shelter of this Āsthānī platform, which is scented by the fragrance of Sri Hari’s lotus feet!” As a result of such surrender, Raghunath Das Goswami always wishes to experience the sweet pastimes that are taking place there.
giri-taṭe nandīśvare, vidagadha kārigare,
kṛṣṇa-krīḍā kautukera tare
vistṛta pāṣāṇa-vṛnde, catuṣkoṇa kore chande,
ye ‘āsthānī’ sunirmāṇa kore
śrī govinda sakhā saṅge, madhumaya krīḍā raṅge
yathā nitya korena vihāra
hari pāda-padma gandhe, āmodita ye maṇḍape,
āśrayete lālasā āmāra
“I want to take shelter of the platform called Āsthānī at the base of Nandishwar Hill, which was constructed in a square fashion with large slabs of stone by expert architects, where Sri Govinda always enjoys his honey-sweet games with his friends and which is delightful with the fragrance of Sri Hari’s lotus feet.”