Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
[This is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja's book, The Nectar of Govinda-lila. Please click to hear a lecture in honor of Balarama Rasa-yatra: ]
Now Jayadeva will begin describing the vasanti-rasa: "My heart is palpitating, for I desire to write such a thing which in this life I have not written before, and which is not mentioned anywhere: that Krishna will fall at the feet of Radhika. We know it well, but Krishna is the Supreme Controller, the cause of all causes, and the original bhagavat-avatara. That He falls at the feet of His own potency who is the form of His dasi" I don't know if this is proper, but my heart is saying that without Krishna putting His head at Her feet, She will not be appeased! I don't know if I am able to write it."
Jayadeva goes on to describe that on the plains of Giriraja Govardhana, at Candra-sarovara, Candra remained throughout the whole of one of Brahma's nights. What is the duration of Brahma's night? Millions of yugas. In order to witness the rasa-lila he stayed there, so it is called Candra-sarovara.
In the spring season, all of the fruits and flowers in Vrndavana come out. The she-crow starts her ...ku-ku sound, the peacock starts his ...ke-kah sound, and it is as if the pigeons are playing the conchshell, making their ...ko-ko sounds. They are all making their own sounds, and collectively it sounds as if they are playing a sahanai. In this way all of the birds and animals become happy, and there is no one who is not dancing. Forming groups, Krishna and the gopis start dancing. All young unmarried girls are present there, and they had been waiting for one year. For dancing with Krishna, for meeting Krishna"for a whole year a fire of separation had been burning inside them. Not for themselves, not for lust, but for mitigating this separation.
For really becoming immersed in Krishna's rasa, one must enter into this poetry composed by Jayadeva Gosvami. Therefore, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His heart full of rasa, at night would tell Svarupa Damodara, "Please recite Gita-govinda for Me." Hearing it, immediately His pleasure would increase. Svarupa Damodara would read precisely what Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired to hear. Sometimes it was the poetry of Jayadeva, sometimes Candidasa, sometimes Vidyapati, and sometimes he would read verses from the five chapters describing rasa in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam.
The gopis were clapping their hands as if they were karatalas, and they played drums, the vina and the sitara. It was divinely beautiful as the gopis played one raga after another. There are some melodies in which there is no rasa, so they played only the ragas that increased the rasa. Krishna sang in a very high pitch, and in different melodies. The gopis then sang one song in a higher pitch than Krishna. He wanted to sing higher, but couldn't, and He could only say, "Sadhu! Sadhu! (Very nice! Very nice!)" Krishna was dancing, and with Shrimati Radhika, He danced with such speed and dexterity that He Himself was astonished, and He chanted, "Sadhu! Sadhu!"
With one gopi Krishna was holding hands, with another He was dancing by jumping up and down, another He was embracing, and another He was kissing on the hand. Sometimes, with His eyes half-open in great prema, He would look in the direction of a particular gopi. He would follow a certain rhythm of racing behind one gopi after another, and this is how vasanti-rasa is described.
In a fraction of a second, as short as the blink of the eyes, thousands more gopis arrived and started dancing. Radhika saw that at that time Krishna's parama-aisvarya sakti was not working; He had stopped it. Here He kept the cause behind pastimes, Yogamaya, separate from Him. He placed all of these potencies far away by telling them, "At this time you will not do anything; for now you just sit quietly and watch." In this lila of Krishna, everything was forgotten. Here, because aisvarya was not manifest, Krishna didn't know that "I am Bhagavan," and the gopis didn't know that "We are svari, we are the root of Yogamaya." All was forgotten.
After a little while, Radhika saw, "Krishna is a big cheater. He is cheating Me. He seems to be dancing only with Me, but actually He is dancing with everyone. Only because of His speed and dexterity does it seem that He is alone with Me."
Then Radhika exhibited some mana, jealous anger. If we feel this emotion, there is some selfishness in it, but in the hearts of devotees there is no selfishness. In Her heart there is never any envy, but even if there is some, it is only a transformation of prema and mahabhava. Don't consider this to be a deformation, but rather an aspect of Her variegatedness, Her speciality.
There is milk: add some sugar, and it becomes sweet. Mix a little kevra, then a little camphor and other things, and it becomes more and more sweet and tasteful. Like this Radhika has Her own uniqueness, and for making Krishna even happier, She exhibited some mana. She left the rasa and went to a kunja , but then what happened? Upon arriving there She thought, "Why did I leave Krishna's association? He didn't leave Me; I left Him. If there is any unfortunate woman, it is Me. There is no one as unfortunate as Me."
Meanwhile Krishna met one sakhi and requested her, "Please go to Radha and tell Her that Krishna is saying, ...I am very unhappy for You. In the future I will never do such a thing as I did again, and You will always be happy. Now You please forgive Me.'"
The sakhi went to Radhika and seeing Her condition said, "Why are You behaving like this? Leaving Krishna You came here. He tried to please You, but You wouldn't accept it, so why are You upset?" Just then Lalita appeared there and said, "Krishna is a liar! Don't trust Him! Don't ever reveal Your simplicity to Him! Remain crooked, otherwise You won't be able to have straightforward dealings with Him! He will never understand Your value, so always remain crooked."
The sakhi tried in may ways to pacify Radhika, but She would not be appeased. When the sakhi returned to Krishna and told Him this, He said, "Somehow I must appease Her." Then Krishna thought He would play a joke to appease Her. Pretending to be very unhappy, His face became withered and saying, "Now I am going!" He left there and hid in a nearby kusja. Then some sakhis followed behind Him whispering, "Where is He going? Let us see."
He entered a kunja and laid down amongst some large rocks. Seeing Him lie down, the sakhis returned to Shrimati Radhika, Lalita, Visakha, and the others, and told them, "He has gone to a nearby kusja. Being very unhappy and in pain from Your separation, He was not able to go any further, and He has fallen asleep."
They said, "Where?" The sakhis then led Radhika and the others to the kun ja. They peered into the entrance of the kunja and saw that His face was covered. They couldn't tell if He was crying, or sleeping, or what He was doing. Then, moving closer, they saw that He was sleeping. His eyes were closed, and His face was a little covered. The gopis exchanged hand signals, because at that time, their supreme enemy, the flute, was hanging loosely in His hand! They thought that they should take it. They did not consider for a moment that they might be entering a trap, but just that they should take it.
Then Radhika said, "Yes, we should take it, but who will do it? Who will tie the bell around the cat's neck? Who will take the responsibility of snatching the flute from His hand? Friends, this is not a simple thing! His hand is like a snake. If someone approaches and tries to take the flute, the snake will bite him, give its ...poison', and it will never leave him! Therefore who will dare to try?"
All of them thought together, and concluded that it would not be possible for anyone except Shrimati Radhika, so She said, "If all of you insist, then certainly I will try."
Very, very slowly, just as a cat does, She crept closer. Walking very slowly and stealthily, smiling slightly and watching Him, She went closer. But what was Krishna doing? He had heard everything that they had discussed amongst themselves, and feeling that He should enjoy Himself a little, He thought, "If Radha is to be appeased, there must be some direct conversation between Us. But there has not been such an opportunity. Therefore I will let the flute be taken, and then I will see how I can talk to Radha. I will ask each of them, ...Where did you put My flute?' and in the course of asking all of them, I will necessarily come to Radha, and then I will get the chance. It will be a moment of great happiness!"
Understanding everything, Krishna allowed His hand to become slack. Thinking Him to be asleep, slowly Radhika crept near to Him and saw that He was apparently deeply asleep. When someone is sleeping lightly, they can be easily awakened, but when someone is in deep sleep, you cannot easily awaken them. Krishna appeared to be sleeping like that. Quickly She snatched the flute from His hand, and at once the gopis ran from the kusja. As they were all running with their long hair swinging to and fro, Krishna opened His eyes, saying, "Hari, Hari...hey, where has My flute gone?" He ran outside the kunja and said to the gopis, "You have stolen My flute!"
He said to each gopi, "Did you take it?" until He came to Radha. She replied, "What will I do with this useless piece of bamboo? Yes, I took it, and I will burn it also! It is only one piece of bamboo. In our garden we have thousands of sticks of bamboo, so what is the big deal about only one piece of bamboo? You can come and cut thousands and take them!" In this way they were mutually joking, but they didn't realise that Krishna was knowingly joking with them.
Still Radhika was not appeased, although internally She desired to meet Krishna. He had already seen that sending a messenger would not do it, so what did He do next? He Himself expanded into Syamali Sakhi. Assuming a very beautiful form, she approached the gopis with a basket of flowers in her hand, and in a sweet voice called out, "By rendering service to someone, I will mitigate all of their distress and fatigue, and they will become very happy."
At that time Radhika and the sakhis were feeling fatigued and unhappy. Seeing Syamali, really Radhika did not recognise this sakhi as Krishna Himself, and Lalita, Visakha, and the others also did not recognise Him. When Krishna assumes another form, who will recognise Him? Even when an ordinary actor changes dress, we cannot understand who it is. For this purpose He employed Yogamaya, and therefore no one could recognise Him.
Syamali pleased Radhika by giving Her a flower garland which emanated a special fragrance. Radhika thought, "Where has this fragrance come from? Whose fragrance is this?" Knowing it to be related to Krishna, She was very pleased.
Syamali began saying to Radhika, "In this world, there is no one who is as kind, who has as many good qualities, who shows respect to everyone, who is as grateful, and who is as expert in all sixty-four arts as Krishna is. What to speak of just in Vrndavana, in the entire brahmanda there is no one equal to Him. And You? You have so many good qualities and You are so beautiful, so towards Him You should not commit any offence."
Praising Krishna like this, and praising Radha like this, Syamali proved that Krishna was not at fault. Radhika was fully appeased, and in the end for Her ultimate happiness, the final weapon was in His hand. Having returned to His original form, He said to Radhika, "In Me there is a fire of separation, and only the touch of Your feet can cool it. Therefore be merciful and decorate My head with Your feet, because by doing so You will also become happy."
Being pleased, Radhika said, "Now agree to one thing. The flower bracelets on My feet are broken; please rearrange them. And My hair plait has become loose; please tie it."
Seeing that He had followed Her every order, She thought, "He has obeyed all of My orders very nicely. He will never go to another gopi. Come, let there be rasa." At that time, the rasa-lila was performed at Candra-sarovara, and this is how vasanti-rasa is described in the Gita-govinda.
Although we don't have the qualification to engage in sravana and kirtana of this topic, in brief we have tried to describe this rasa and what sentiments of love came in it. Tasting and tasting this, just see how the condition of Mahaprabhu became! It was a wonderful thing! Svarupa Damodara and Raya Ramananda would describe it to Him. I am only an ordinary person full of anarthas, but in that place where Svarupa Damodara and Raya Ramananda are describing this, Krishna Himself, full of radha-bhava, will be there as a listener in the form of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and He receives so much ananda from it. Therefore, we will silently remember this basanti-rasa, and when one day genuine spiritual greed arises in our hearts, we will be able to directly serve this rasa.