sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Special On-line Edition for the appearance day of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Posted: 2 February 2011
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
(A class on the commentaries of Rasa-pancadhyaya originally spoken in English,
July 8–9, 1993, at Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha)
When Krsna left the rasa dance the gopis sang Gopi-gita, their song of separation from Him. When He reunited with them, He accepted their worship and consoled them by explaining why He had disappeared. That explanation culminates in this verse:
na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujam
sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalah
samvrscya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna
na – not; paraye – able to; aham – I; niravadya – sacred; samyujam – meeting; sva-sadhu-krtya – own saintly activity (sadhu-krtya also means “compensation”); vibudha – demigod; ayusa – lifetime; api – even; vah – to you; yah – who; ma – Me; abhajan – adoring service; durjara – difficult to overcome; geha – house; srnkhalah – shackles; samvrscya – totally broken; tat – that; vah – of you; pratiyatu – to be returned; sadhuna – by the excellence.
My darling gopis, your meeting Me is innocent and immaculate in every respect because it is devoid of even a single iota of desire for your own happiness. It is overflowing with supremely pure love. Although the bonds of affection for the members of one’s own home are impossible to overcome, you have completely demolished them. Thus, for loving service to Me, you have transgressed the moral laws of this world. Even if I lived as long as the gods I would be unable to requite even one drop of your love, sacrifice and service. All of you may free Me from debt simply by your own gentle nature, but I am forever the debtor of your prema, and will always continue to be.
“O My dear gopis,” said Sri Krsna, “My beloved sakhis, our love-laden meeting is niravadya; it is so pure, so sacred, just like gold melted in fire. Is there any flaw in it?
“In this world,” He continued, “husbands and wives inevitably have self-interest in meeting one another. In fact, this is the case when any two people meet. Even the gurus and disciples of this world, if they are not highly advanced, have some self-interest in meeting each other. The only person who may be selfless is he who has crossed beyond external nature (maya). And yet you and I have bodies, we have eyes, we have minds.*”
* Sri Krsna puts forth their apparent physical existence as contradictory evidence that they have crossed beyond the external nature.
The Gopis Do Not Want Anything From Krsna
Everyone especially craves one thing. They crave prestige. Even if someone declares that he is in fact selfless or holy, he surely still hankers for this. We find that even brothers and sisters want something from each other: affection. But Krsna has explained that the gopis do not even want this from Him. They want nothing but to serve Him. Their mood is expressed in the final verse of Sri Siksastaka:
aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah
Sri Siksastaka (8)
Let that debauchee (Krsna) tightly embrace this maidservant, who is devoted to serving Him, and thus delight Me; or let Him trample Me under His feet, or break My heart by not giving Me His darsana. He may do whatever He desires. Even if He sports with His other beloveds directly in front of Me He is still the Lord of My life. In My heart there is none other than Him.
Krsna extolled the gopis for their selflessness, but He did not claim to be selfless like them. Bhagavan Sri Krsna is the supreme enjoyer. As such, His wishes may be self-centred or in the mood of a charming lover who wants to enjoy (ramana), and by the words “ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham – As they become devoted to Me, surely, I become similarly devoted to them” (Srimad-Bhagavad-gita 4.11), He has revealed that He indeed wants something from His devotees.* Yet the gopis do not want anything from Him.
* This verse indicates that Sri Krsna wants His devotees to surrender to Him.
You Have Broken Unbreakable Bonds
He continued, “Our mutual meeting is sacred and infinitely pure. There is not even a trace of any flaw in it.”
ya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalah
The shackles that bind one to his home, geha-srnkhalah, are durjara, impossible to break free from. And yet, going against all the moral laws of this world, you have broken them and sacrificed everything for Me.
Each of us, as sannyasis, has left our wife and children, but if our wife were to come before us, we would at once recall, “She is my wife.” The gopis on the other hand, had so utterly renounced their homes that such ideas never came to them.
Krsna told the gopis, “I have nothing to give you in return for serving Me like this. What to speak of My own lifetime, even if I lived hundreds of thousands of times longer than the gods, I would be unable to return a single drop of such service. Only you, by your graciousness and liberal character, can set Me free from that debt.
Your Saintly Activity
What the gopis have done, Krsna explained, is sadhu-krtya (saintly activity). Although it is entirely irreligious for a lady to meet with any man other than her husband, Krsna has lauded the gopis with the words sadhu-krtya for doing just this by meeting with Him. Why? Because Sri Krsna is parama-pati, the supreme husband or master of all.
Srila Jiva Gosvami explains in his commentary on this verse that Krsna told the gopis that what they have done is asadharana sadhu-krtya. The word asadharana (exceptional or unique) indicates that the saintly activities of the gopis are not possible for any one else. Srila Jiva Gosvami answers the question, “What have the gopis done that is so exceptional?” by explaining that their actions were niravadya, or sacred and pure. We should understand the implications of the word niravadya in the following way:
One with external vision may perceive fault and irreligion in the gopis tryst with Krsna, but Krsna says that the prema of both He and the gopis is so saintly (sadhu), so immaculate (nirmala) and so pure. He goes on to say, “Neither you nor I have any selfish desire (kama). I only wanted to please you and you wanted to please Me. I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead and you are My divine energy known as hladini-sakti (the transcendental pleasure potency). Our meeting is niravadya, sacred and pure.
“Although our meeting is utterly devoid of selfish lust, it appears to be the same as lust. Therefore, the people of this world will perceive self-interest in your actions as well as Mine, and they will conclude that it is the only motivation for our tryst.”
The people of this world cannot imagine that a tryst, or any action, can be free from self-interest, but liberated souls indeed act selflessly, and their sincere followers, who can at least comprehend such actions, also endeavour for selflessness.
This gopi-prema is the dharma of the gopis. In other words, it stems from their inherent nature (svabhava). Just as fire naturally burns, the gopis love Krsna. They cannot but love Him.
I Do Not Deserve Your Love
Krsna told the gopis, “You are respectable wives; the newly married wives of respectable gopas. You are from an exalted dynasty, and yet you have abandoned your social status. You have broken the unbreakable iron shackles that bound you to your homes and have easily crossed completely beyond the vast ocean of shame, or the ocean of the disapproving words of your worshipful elders. You have abandoned everything, including all the moral laws of society and, keeping nothing for yourselves, you have offered your intense and affectionate love (anuraga) entirely to Me.”
“Why have you done this?” Krsna asked the gopis, “I do not deserve your anuraga. Had my anuraga been as exalted as Yours, perhaps I would have deserved your love, but, in truth, by virtue of your superior love, I am so much lower than you. And yet, out of your great generosity and graciousness, your sadhu-krtyam, you have offered your anuraga to Me. Even after innumerable lifetimes, I cannot requite My debt to you. If I ask you, as you have suggested, what I can give you in return, you will simply ask to serve Me, and again I will be indebted to you.
“I have abandoned all hope that My debt may ever be absolved. But, if you desire, you can release Me from your debt by your own sweet will. I have not offered Myself to you, like you have offered yourselves to Me, and therefore I have broken my promise: ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham – as they become devoted to Me, surely, I become similarly devoted to them” (Srimad Bhagavad-gita 4.11).
Srila Jiva Gosvami next explains that Krsna told the gopis, “While your love is dedicated to Me alone, Mine is divided among many. I have so many loving devotees, but you have only one love – Me. Therefore, I can never serve you as you have served Me.
“I am also shackled to My home by the affection of My father and mother, but unlike you I have not broken these bonds nor have I broken the chains of proper conduct, religion or shame. I have not even abandoned My shyness in stealing away to meet with you while hiding from everyone’s sight. I have not given up My self-interest at all, nor My shame, nor My mother and father, nor anything.”
We Cannot Repay Svami
What is Srila Jiva Gosvami’s mood? “Srila Sridhara Svami has given us the sutra* containing this conception and has thus conferred upon us the immense treasure of gopi-prema.” He considers that, “Now I am indebted to ‘Svami’ (Srila Sridhara Svami) in the same way that Krsna is indebted to the gopis, and I cannot requite my debt to him. He should simply be satisfied by his own saintly acts. I offer my pranama to Srila Sridhara Svami’s lotus feet.”
* A sutra, which literally means “thread”, is a concise sentence or aphorism that runs through and holds together a particular concept or that enfolds a complex conception into a single short passage.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
It should be mentioned that when Sri Krsna reflected upon the selfless love of the gopis He thought, “I want to experience all of this Myself and truly realize it.” Later, in His pastimes as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He fulfilled this desire.
You Have Left Everything But I Have Left Nothing
According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentary on this verse, Sri Krsna said to the gopis, “O My dear priya, one thing I want to tell is that I always remember you within My heart.” For the purpose of stating this special truth, Krsna has spoken the words, “na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujam – Your meeting with Me is niravadyam; it is sacred. In it there is no lust, no fruitive work, no religiosity, no consideration of the dictates of revealed scripture regarding right and wrong, and no consideration of what people in general claim to be right and wrong. Nothing.”
The prema of the gopis is causeless and completely innocent. They have left everything, so their actions are irreproachable. Krsna continued, “Your saintly actions (sadhu-krtya) for My sake are impossible for any other man or woman. You alone could have done this. Even if I were to endeavour throughout My life to return your service I would be unable to, because you have utterly destroyed geha-srnkhalah, the very strong shackles of your homes, and have come to Me. What to speak of your other relationships, you have severed the bonds of intense possessiveness for your husbands, fathers, fathers-in-law, brothers and all those to whom you were affectionately bound.”
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura continues his explanation of Krsna’s words: “Yet I have not left anything or anyone. I have lovingly come to you without abandoning my connection to my father, mother, broth-ers and all My other relatives, but, to come to Me, you have cut off all affection and love for everyone but Me. I have failed to keep my promise: “ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham – as they become devoted to Me, surely, I similarly become devoted to them” (Srimad Bhagavad-gita 4.11) because I cannot return the devotion you have given Me, so what good are my words or promises? In fact, there is nothing I can give you in return for your service.”
You should understand that, in truth, Krsna cannot return the gopis’ service. Still, on behalf of the gopis, I think the gopis considered that Krsna had requited His debt to them by admitting this. Although He remained forever indebted to them, they thought, “By speaking these words, not only has He been relieved of His debt, but we have now become indebted to Him.” It was for these words alone that they kept their lives after Krsna left Vrndavana to go to Mathura and Dvaraka.
Krsna’s Unmatched Love
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has expressed the essence of all this:
“I know that all of you are very gracious. If you consider Me to be in your debt, then I must be. Only if you consider Me to be relieved of My debt will I be relieved of it. But even then, in truth, I am always indebted to you.”
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that upon hearing this, each of the gopis began to reflect within her heart, “Krsna is Himself the Personality of Godhead. His nature is overflowing with all auspicious qualities and He is utterly devoid of any fault. Because He is factually the knower of rasa, He truly appreciates and honours rasa. This is His highest eminence. Yet He tries to intimate to us that He is quite the opposite of great by telling us that He is lowly and that we are exalted. He admits His faults and says, ‘I have failed to keep My promise. I am now indebted to you.’ Krsna is so glorious for speaking these words of confession.
“We thought that He had left us, but now we see that He had not. We wanted to defeat Krsna, and certainly, now that He has confessed His faults, it seems we have won, but in truth Krsna has defeated us. We are glorious, but Krsna is even more glorious. We are unable to confess any of this, but He has confessed everything. Therefore, we have been defeated by Krsna’s unmatched love.”
Becoming very jovial, Krsna brought all the gopis together and re-initiated the rasa dance.
We Can Pray to Srimati Radhika
In the matters of prema, the gopis are glorious and Krsna is even more glorious. However, Srimati Radhika and some other special gopis are still more glorious than Krsna.
All glories to the prema of the gopis!
We can pray to Krsna; we can pray to all of the gopis; and especially, we can pray to Srimati Radhika that, somehow, a very small drop of greed to realize all of this may come in our hearts and we may gradually progress.
This is the effect of reading, and explaining, and hearing these topics.
Transcribed and Edited by the Rays of the Harmonist team
Originally Published in Rays of The Harmonist Number 18, Karttika 2008