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Govinda Lilamrita Raas : Editorial Interlude

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A108-AI

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In this following portion of the Govinda-līlāmṛta, which is the concluding part of the niśā-līlā and the entire aṣṭayāma-līlā. As one might well expect in a work such as this, in which Radha and Krishna’s madhura pastimes together are being described, that their evening of dance concludes with more erotic sports.

Now I have already been admonished by one well-wisher that such subjects are not suitable for public consumption. He told me he would read no more, and I thank him for self-selecting to be a non-reader. The point is that, for some reason or another, Vrindavan Dham is the seat of bhakti in the madhura-rasa. That is the whole point of Vrindavan. If we don’t understand this madhura-rasa properly, as being the foundational, underlying, all-pervading truth, then we will not have understood the supremacy of the Vrindavan mood of worship, the mood of worship of the Vraja gopis. ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū-vargeṇa yā kalpitā.

etāḥ parāṁ tanu-bhṛto bhuvi gopa-vadhvo
govinda eva nikhilātmani rūḍha-bhāvāḥ |
vāñchanti yad bhava-bhiyo munayo vayaṁ ca
kiṁ brahma-janmabhir ananta-kathā-rasasya ||

These cowherd wives are the most glorious
of all embodied beings on earth,
for they have the most elevated feelings of love
for Govinda, the soul of the unlimited creation.

This is something that is craved by the saints
who fear material existence — and by us, too.
Oh! Of what use are many life-times even as Brahma
for one immersed in the relish of hearing of the Infinite One?
(BhP 10.47.58)

In the Bhagavatam, no other personage, not Lakshmi, not Rukmini, not Dhruva, Prahlada or even Uddhava, merits such praise. Therefore, their love for Krishna, though given tangibility in the erotic form, is in fact the complete opposite of the mundane eros.

There may be differences in the different rasika traditions of Vrindavan, but there is fundamental agreement on this principle.

And that is why meditation on the gopis’ erotic love for Krishna, which in its essential and most perfect form is found in Radha, is considered most purifying.

vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvito yaḥ śṛṇuyād atha varṇayed vā
bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati parilabhya kāmaṁ
hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty acireṇa dhīraḥ

These games that the all-pervading Lord Vishnu
played with the wives of Braja —
should a wise one endowed with faith
listen to them
or describe them to others,
he will fully attain the highest devotion to Bhagavan
and quickly be freed of lust,
the disease of the heart.
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.33.40, BhaktiS 110)

Those who do not have faith are the ones who have no attraction. Even if one’s faith is contaminated by an inability to distinguish between the Divine Eros of Vrindavan and that of this miserable and temporary world (anityam asukham lokam), it is still better than not listening for whatever reason.

If Krishna’s name is chintamani, then how much more so are his pastimes? And how much more again are these pastimes that are so glorified by a personality as elevated and dear to the Lord as Uddhava? But if one is not interested or vimukha for any reason whatsoever, that is merely the divine Yogamaya protecting this lila from the arasikas — the Mayavadis, the materialists, and a host of other categories of arasika, including the vaidhi bhakta.

“The divine love of the gopis became popularly known as [the path of] lust.” (premaiva gopa-rāmāṇāṁ kāma ity agamat prathām).

So, one who is unable to make the distinction between the Divine Eros of Vrindavan and the mundane eros is a non-rasika, and such a person will self-select to not read or hear. The problem is when they also become moralists and censors. The poets who described Radha and Krishna’s loves never believed for a moment it was material lust. Heard reverentially it should never excite material lustful feeling.

Therefore, in the Vidagdha-mādhava, before starting the play, the fearful director is assured by his lead actor that no unworthy persons, no arasikas would touch his work:

udāsatāṁ nāma rasānabhijñāḥ
kṛtau tavāmī rasikāḥ sphuranti |
kramelakaiḥ kāmam upekṣite’pi
pikāḥ sukhaṁ yānti paraṁ rasāle ||

Let it be so!
May those who are ignorant and inexperienced in rasa
be indifferent to your compositions,
in which the true rasikas will take delight.
The kokil takes the greatest pleasure in the mango bud,
which is completely ignored by the camel. [VM 1.9]

 

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