Original text by Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj and translation by Advaita Das.
yatra krīḍati mādhavaḥ priyatamaiḥ snigdhaḥ sakhīnāṁ kulai-
rnityaṁ gāḍha-rasena rāma-sahito’py adyāpi go-cāraṇaiḥ |
yasyāpy adbhuta-mādhurī-rasa-vidāṁ hṛdy eva kāpi sphuret
preṣṭhaṁ tan-mathurā-purād api harer goṣṭhaṁ tad evāśraye ||6||
I take shelter of the Goṣṭha (the pasturing fields of Vraja), where even today Mādhava, His brother and Their dearest friends are performing the pastime of herding the cows with great love, whose indescribable sweetness is manifest in the hearts and minds of the sensitive rasika-devotees and which is dearer to Śrī Hari than even Mathurā City.
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā:
In the previous verse Śrīpāda Raghunātha praised the city of Śrī Mathurā and also mentioned that Mathurā is adorned with the greatest glory because it contains Vraja-maṇḍala, the most complete abode of Śrī Govinda’s sweet intimate pastimes.
As Śrī Rāghunātha thus remembers Vraja-maṇḍala, the self-manifest pastimes of Vraja appear in his mind. In this verse he praises the goṣṭha, the pasturing fields of Vraja, remembering Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s sweet pastimes there with His brother Baladeva and friends like Śrīdāma.
On the day that Śrī Nanda and the Vrajavāsīs left Gokula and entered Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala to find a safe haven, the children Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa became most happy to see this peerless pasturingland.
vṛndāvanaṁ govardhanaṁ yamunā pulināni ca;
vīkṣyāsīd uttamā prīti rāma mādhavayor nṛpa
Śrī Śukadeva told Mahārāja Parīkṣit: “O King! When Balarāma and Mādhava saw Vṛndāvana, Govardhana and the bank of the Yamunā, They felt the greatest ecstatic love!” (Bhāgavata 10.11.36)
Being attracted to these most enchanting meadows in Their childhood, Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa commenced Their goṣṭha-pastimes of tending the cows with Their friends like Subala. The attraction to this goṣṭha-krīḍā is so strong that even the affectionate laps of their mothers, fathers and relatives could not keep them at home.
Śrī Śukadeva Muni has said:
evaṁ vrajaukasāṁ prītiṁ yacchantau bāla ceṣṭitaiḥ;
kalavākyaiḥ svakālena vatsapālau vabhūvatuḥ
avidūre vrajabhuvaḥ saha gopāla bālakaiḥ;
cārayāmāsatur vatsān nānā krīḍā paricchadau
kvacid vādayato veṇuṁ kṣepaṇaiḥ kṣipataḥ kvacit;
kvacit pādaiḥ kiṅkiṇībhiḥ kvacit kṛtrima go vṛṣaiḥ
vṛṣāyamāṇau nardantau yuyudhāte parasparam;
anukṛtya rutair jantūṁś ceratuḥ prākṛtau yathā
“In this way Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa commenced Their pastimes of herding the cows and calves in Their childhood, increasing the transcendental bliss of the Vrajavāsīs with Their different sweet words. Taking the different items of Their childhood play, like Their flutes, reeds, horns and balls along, They began to herd the calves with Their friends like Śrīdāma and Subala, not far from Nanda’s abode. Sometimes the two brothers played Their flutes, sometimes They threw Bilva- and Āmalakī-fruits with bats, sometimes They sweetly danced, making the bells on Their lotus ankles jingle along in time, sometimes They appeared like cows and bulls by covering Their bodies with blankets and roared like bulls while fighting each other head-to-head, and sometimes They imitated the sounds of peacocks, swans and monkeys. In this way They enjoyed Themselves with various sweet pastimes, just like ordinary mundane boys.” (Bhāgavata 10.11.37-40)
As They gradually grew up (into the Paugaṇḍa-age-group) Their goṣṭha-vihāra also assumed sweeter forms. Then They could freely go further away from home into the goṣṭha to perform Their sweet and wonderful pastimes.
Like an expert artist Śrīpāda Śuka Muni has drawn a very enchanting picture of this goṣṭha vihāra:
phala prabāla stavaka sumanaḥ piccha dhātubhiḥ;
kāca muktā maṇi svarṇa bhūṣitā apyabhūṣayan
muṣṇanto’nyonya śikyādīn jñātānārāc ca cikṣipuḥ;
tatratyāś ca punar dūrād dhasantaś ca punar daduḥ
yadi dūraṁ gataḥ kṛṣṇo vana śobhekṣeṇāya tam;
ahaṁ pūrvaṁ ahaṁ pūrvam iti saṁspṛśya remire
kecid veṇūn vādayanto dhmantaḥ śṛṅgāṇi kecana;
kecid bhṛṅgaiḥ pragāyantaḥ kūjantaḥ kokilaiḥ pare
vicchāyābhiḥ pradhāvanto gacchantaḥ sadhu haṁsakaiḥ;
bakair upaviśantaś ca nṛtyantaś ca kalāpibhiḥ
vikarṣantaḥ kīśa bālān ārohantaś ca tair drumān;
vikurvantaś ca taiḥ sākaṁ plavantaś ca palāśiṣu
sākaṁ bhekair vilaṅghantaḥ sarit srava samplutāḥ;
vihasantaḥ praticchāyāḥ śapantaś ca pratisvanān
“Although They were already decorated at home by Their mothers with glass beads, pearls, jewels and gold, when They came into the forest They still decorated Themselves even further with fruits, leaves, bunches of flowers, peacock feathers and mineral pigments. Thus They commenced their goṣṭha-krīḍā. One hid the flute and reed of another, and when the captor was caught, he flung it far away. When the owner of the flute and reed ran to the place where they were thrown to catch them, one boy who was standing there caught them and threw them even further away. Then they all laughed and returned the things to the robbed boy.”
“Sometimes Kṛṣṇa left the cowherd boys, desiring to admire the sylvan beauty and then the cowherd boys all came running to Him, calling out: “I will be the first to touch Kṛṣṇa! I will be the first to touch Kṛṣṇa!”, everyone floating in transcendental bliss.
“Some boys were playing flutes, some were playing horns, some were humming like bees, some were cooing like cuckoos, some took delight in running fast with the shadows of birds, some were imitating the walking of the swans, some sat in the water like ducks and some joined the peacocks in dancing. Some boys pulled at the tails of the baby-monkeys who sat in the branches of the trees, and then joined them in the high branches, imitating the crazy faces they were making and climbing with them from one branch to the other. Some imitated the jumping of frogs and jumped across narrow brooks, others made fun of their own reflections and again others cursed their echoes.” (Bhāgavata 10.12.4-10)
While thus describing the various sweet activities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His cowherd boyfriends, Śrī Śuka Muni exclaimed in blissful astonishment:
itthaṁ satāṁ brahma sukhānubhūtyā
dāsyaṁ gatānāṁ paradaivatena
sārddhaṁ vijahruḥ kṛta puṇya puñjāḥ
“O King! Only because of having a great amount of pious merit could these cowherd boys play so many childhood pastimes with the Original Personality of Godhead, Who is identified with the undifferentiated bliss of brahma by wise men and mystics, Who is worshipped as the Supreme Lord by His servants, and Who is considered no more than a human child by ignorant people who are attached to sense gratification.” (Bhāgavata 10.12.11)
Although scriptures like the Śrīmad Bhāgavata describe the deeply loving goṣṭha-pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His cowherd boyfriends in their paugaṇḍa-age, the greatest aspiration of Śrīpāda Raghunātha, who is a maidservant of Śrī Rādhārāṇī, is to see Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s deeply passionate erotic goṣṭha-pastimes in His kaiśora-age (adolescence).
When adolescence appears, erotic feelings awaken and Śrī Kṛṣṇa mainly develops the desire to enjoy in solitude at Govardhana and Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa together with Śrī Rādhā, by Whose form, qualities and pastimes He has become enchanted. This He expresses through words like rākhāla loiyā vane, sadā phire dhenu sane, tuyā lāgi vane vanacārī:
“I have become a cowherder in the forest and I am wandering around with My cows there simply to see You!”
He performs His sweet goṣṭha-pastimes with Baladeva and His friends and then goes off with His dearest friends like Subala and Madhumaṅgala on the pretext of admiring the beauty of the forest just to enjoy sweet passionate pastimes on the bank of Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa with Śrī Rādhā, with the assistance of Śrī Rādhā’s girlfriends and maidservants.
The rasa of these pastimes flows into innumerable directions and inundates the fields of the sensitive rasika-devotees’ hearts. The word nityaṁ proves the eternality of all these pastimes.
Hence Śrī Raghunātha has said:
yasyāpy adbhuta-mādhurī rasa-vidāṁ hṛdy eva kāpi sphuret:
“The indescribable sweetness of this rasa is manifest in the hearts and minds of the rasika devotees. These pasturing fields are even dearer to Śrī Kṛṣṇa than Mathurā. I take shelter of this goṣṭha-pradeśa.”
śrīdāmādi sakhā saṅge kṛṣṇa baladeve;
gocāraṇe nitya khelā gāḍha anurāge
adbhuta rasa keli mādhurya viśeṣe;
satata lāgiche yāhā rasika mānase
madhupurī hoite śreṣṭha sei vrajadhāma;
śrī govinda līlābhūmi nayanābhirāma
“Vrajadhāma, Śrī Govinda’s eye-enchanting playground, where Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His brother Baladeva eternally play the pastimes of cowherding with Their friends, headed by Śrīdāma, with deep love, the special sweetness of Whose rasika-pastimes is always on the minds of the rasika-devotees, is even greater than Mathurā City.”
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