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Vraja Vilasa 76: Haristhala

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With great love I worship Haristhala, the place at the peak of Sri Girirāja Govardhana, where enchanting Hari always blissfully enjoys himself like a king.



girīndra-varyopari hāra-rūpī
hariḥ svayaṁ yatra vihāra-kārī
sadā mudā rājati rāja-bhogair
hari-sthalaṁ tat tu bhaje’nurāgaiḥ

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Haristhala is praised. Haristhala is the place where Hari assumes an enchanting form and enjoys himself like a king.

Because he steals everyone’s mind, one of the Lord’s names is “Hari.” Sri Hari assumes many other forms, and they are all enchanting, but there is no Hari that is not as naturally mind-stealing as Vrajendranandana. Not only is he able to steal others’ minds, he has the nature to enchant even his own mind! vismāpanaṁ svasya ca (Bhāgavata). rūpa dekhi āpanāra, kṛṣṇera hoy camatkāra (Caitanya-caritāmṛta) No one else but Krishna has such a nature.

The sweetness and beauty of Madana Mohana Vraja Vihārī is incomparable! Anyone who takes shelter of the sacred words of those who perceive this extraordinary form of Madana Mohana with the eyes of passionate divine love will also be able to see it.

There is no comparison to the passionate love of Sri Bilvamangal Thakur. He describes Vrajendranandana exactly in the way in which he saw him with such eyes of sacred passion:

māraḥ svayaṁ nu madhura dyuti-maṇḍalaṁ nu
mādhuryam eva nu mano nayanāmṛtaṁ nu
veṇī-mṛjo nu mama jīvito vallabho nu
kṛṣṇo’yam abhyudayate mama locanāya

Is this Cupid himself? If not, then how can he create such lusty feelings (of pure love) in my heart when he appears?

No, no, it can’t be, for Cupid may be able to stir the mind, but he does not have so much splendor, and this one here has literally waves of splendor!
Then is it some halo?
But how could that be? There is light in a halo of course, but not so much sweetness!
Then is this sweetness personified?
No, for that does not have this nectar, which is relishable for the mind and the eyes!
Then is it some fresh nectar for the eyes and mind?
No, no, for this is an indescribable ocean of relish that far transcends all that!
Is it then my Mādhava, the one who loosens my braid? Is it my Prāṇa-vallabha Sri Krishna who has come to delight my eyes? (Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, 68)

Śrīman Mahāprabhu, the avatar who came to sanctify the age of Kali, said while relishing the mellows of this verse:

kibā ei sākṣāt kāma, dyuti bimba mūrtimān,
ki mādhurya svayaṁ mūrtimanta
kibā mano netrotsava, kibā prāṇa vallabha,
satya kṛṣṇa āilā netrānanda

Is this Cupid, a personified halo or the embodiment of sweetness? Or is it a festival for the eyes and mind, or the lover of my heart? Truly, Krishna has come to delight my eyes! (Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.2.75)

Experienced people can immediately see that: Is there any other form of the Godhead that maddens the heart and mind with this kind of beauty or nature, that has been described in such an ecstatic language?

Not only that, there is another extraordinary nature that maddens the mind of a person that experienced this form, that enchants Cupid. Those who have experienced this form sometimes think there is no limit to their bliss and sometimes they think that there is no limit to this misery. Sometimes they think they are scorched by a forest fire and sometimes they think they are residing in the cool water of the river Yamuna. In this way the hearts and minds of persons who have experienced this blend of poison and nectar, or of bliss and anguish are not just taken away, but they go beyond themselves in all respects by some amazing condition that is inconceivable to body, mind and words.

A ray of this experience is also found in the descriptions of Līlāśuka:

adhīra-bimbādhara-vibhrameṇa harṣādra-veṇu-svara-sampadā ca
anena kenāpi manohareṇa hā hanta hā hanta mano dūnoṣi

Alas! With the indescribable movements of your cherry-like lips and with your blissful flute-playing you are afflicting my mind! (Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, 36)

Śrīpāda Krishna dāsa Kavirāja Goswamipāda writes in his Sāraṅga-Raṅgadā commentary on this verse: ato manohareṇa mano mātraṁ harati kāryaṁ na siddhyati indrajālavad yat tena “He steals the mind with his form and qualities, but does not reach perfection. Therefore this work of attracting the mind is illusory like a magic trick.”

This mind-stealing Hari is very blissfully enjoying himself like a great king on the peak of Girirāja Govardhana at the place called Haristhala, and Raghunath Das Goswami yearns passionately to worship this Haristhala for the fulfillment of his sacred aspirations.

girīndra-govardhanera śikhara pradeśe;
hari yathā cittahārī divya rūpa veśe
vividha vihāra sukhe prīti anurāge;
virāja korena mahārājocita bhoge
sei ‘haristhala’ āmi bhaji anurāge;
satata rahibo paḍi giri taṭa-bhāge

I passionately worship the place called Haristhala on the peak of Girirāja Govardhana, where Hari stands in a divine form, wearing a mind-stealing dress and blissfully enjoying different pastimes with passionate love, just like a great king. For this I always fall in prostration at the base of Girirāja.


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