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Vraja Vilasa 14 : The prema of Sri Krishna’s grandmother, Variyasi

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VariyasiI offer my obeisances unto Variyasi, Sri Krishna’s paternal grandmother, whose feet do not touch the ground out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved grandson, and who always delights her moon-like grandson with her joking words.

priyasya naptuḥ sukhato’ti garvāt
pādau na yasyāḥ patataḥ pṛthivyām
namāmi narmārcita-naptṛ-candrāṁ
varīyasīṁ kṛṣṇa-pitāmahīṁ tām

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: The līlā-śakti paints sweet pictures of the Vraja companions’ love in the consciousness of Sripada Raghunath Das, who relishes these sweet feelings himself and leaves his adharāmṛta (lip-nectar, or remnants) to the practicing devotees of the world. When the practicing devotees hear and chant this topic, their personal feelings towards their beloved deity will awaken and the corresponding prema will be infused into their hearts.

ei amṛta anukṣaṇa, sādhu mahanta megha-gaṇa,
viśvodyāne kore variṣaṇa
tā’te phale prema-phala, bhakta khāya nirantara,
tāra śeṣe jīye jagajana

“The great devotee-saints are like clouds that always shower this nectar over the garden of the world, and prema sprouts as a result. The devotees always eat this, and the people of the world subsist on their remnants.” (Caitanya Caritāmṛta 2.25.269)

In this verse Śrīpāda Raghunātha introduces us to the great love of the gopī Varīyasī for her grandson Sri Krishna.

pitāmahī mahī-mānyā kusumbhābhā harit-paṭā;
varīyasīti vikhyātā kharvā kṣīrābha-kuntalā –

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s paternal grandmother is named Varīyasī, and she is greatly respected in the Vraja-maṇḍala. Her complexion resembles the Kusumbha-flower, her dress is green, she is small and her hair is white like milk.”

Out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved grandson her feet do not touch the ground, so it is said by the people. This pride is not a transformation of the mundane modes of passion and ignorance, this is a transformation of pure sattva (spirit). This pride arises from love of God.

prītiḥ khalu bhakta cittam ullāsayati mamatayā yojayati viśrambhayati, priyatvātiśayenābhimānayati, drāvayati, sva viṣayaṁ pratyabhilāṣātiśayena yojayati prati-kṣaṇam eva sva viṣayaṁ nava navatvenānubhāvayati asamordhva camatkāreṇonmādayati ca.

“Love delights the hearts of the devotees, links through feelings of mine-ness, bestows confidence and, through great feelings of affection, special pride, it causes one to melt (or soften), it creates a great craving for the Lord and a resultant attachment to Him, it causes the lover to experience the Lord as fresh at every moment and intoxicates the lover with unprecedented feelings of astonishment.” (Prīti Sandarbha, 84)

In the devotional scriptures, these feelings are progressively described as rati, prema, praṇaya, māna, sneha, rāga, anurāga and mahābhāva. Taking this abhimāna or pride to heart, Śrī Rādhārāṇī is saying: baṅdhu, tomāra garave garavinī hām! “O friend! I am proud of your pride!”

Prema cannot leave this pride for even a moment. premera sadāi abhimāna, prema cāya ṣola ānā prāṇa. “Prema always has pride, prema wants 100% of the heart!” What can a premika be more proud of? That the Lord is his all-in-all! The experienced know how high the price of this loving pride is! Knowing this to be the soul of prema they want to embrace it from all sides.

How glorious the prema of Sri Krishna’s grandmother Variyasi is can be known from this verse. She always makes fun and jokes with Krishna and he also floats in an ocean of topmost bliss whenever he hears her pleasantries.

Seeing that Krishna is happy with her humorous remarks, grandma calls him again and again: “Orey nāti-cāṅd (“moon-like grandson”)! Come here!”

The acharyas say: “Those who think of Krishna as the Supreme Truth cannot understand him in full. Sri Govinda, who is the embodiment of sweetness, can only be fully realized through a sweet loving attitude. One should not think, though, that the knowledge of the Lord’s prowess is thereby somewhat lost. Knowledge of the Lord’s sweetness, which is like the Triveṇī, (the confluence of the Gaṅgā, Yamunā and Sarasvatī) is always inseparably strewn together with knowledge of the Lord’s prowess. When separation is experienced this is being revealed and thus saves the life of the separated devotee.

Śrī Raghunātha bows down at the feet of Krishna’s paternal grandmother Variyasi, who is most conscious of his sweetness –

kṛṣṇa mora nāti’ boli garve buka bharā;
kṛṣṇa sukha sampad heri sukhe ātma-hārā
pautra garve pā phele nā kabhu dharaṇīte;
hāsya parihāse magna govinda sahite
kṛṣṇa pitāmahī boli yāra kautuka kathā;
ullāsete śune sabe prasaṅga hoy yathā
sei varīyasī kṛṣṇa pitāmahī yini;
kṛpā-lobhe sadā pade praṇata ye āmi

“Eager for her mercy I bow down to Kṛṣṇa’s paternal grandmother Varīyasī, whose heart is filled with pride as she says: “Kṛṣṇa is my grandson!”, whose feet don’t touch the ground out of pride of Her grandson, who is always immersed in joking and laughing with Govinda and who gladly speaks of herself as Kṛṣṇa’s paternal grandmother, something which is gladly heard and discussed by all the others.”

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