Continuously Hear About Rasa-lila



śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year-4, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 23 January, 2012


Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja


Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja


Continuously Hear About Rasa-lila

An explanation of the commentaries of Srila Jiva Gosvami
and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura

by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Originally spoken in English, 19 February, 1994, at Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha, Mathura 


(Portrait of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja)

vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh
sraddhanvit’nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty acirena dhirah
 

Srimad-Bhagavatam  (10.33.39)

vikriditam  – the playful pastimes; vraja-vadhubhih  – with the newly married girls of Vraja; idam  – this; ca  – and; visnoh  – by Sri Krsna, the all-pervading Lord;sraddha-anvitah  – imbued with faith; anusrnuyat  – continually hears; atha  – or;varnayet  – describes; yah  – one who; bhaktim  – devotional service; param  – supremely transcendental; bhagavati  – unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead;pratilabhya  – obtaining; kamam  – mundane lust; hrt  – of the heart; rogam  – the disease; asu  – quickly and easily; apahinoti  – sends far away; acirena  – without delay; dhirah  – sober.

A sober person who, with full faith, continuously hears or describes Bhagavan Sri Krsna’s transcendental rasa-lila  with the damsels of Vraja will first attain para-bhakti  for the lotus feet of Bhagavan. Thereafter, he will quickly conquer his senses and become forever free from the disease of the heart – worldly lust.

* * *

Vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh.  The gopis  are Krsna’s vadhus. A vadhu  is a young, newly married girl. A newly married girl will be so careful to not act shamefully. She will not talk very much, she will look very beautiful and she will have so many other qualities. The gopis  are described in this way.

If anyone listens with sraddha  (deep faith) to descriptions of the unprecedented and unparalleled rasa-lila, he will receive prema-bhakti  for Sri Krsna within his heart. The word anusrnuyat  indicates continuous hearing. The word varnaye  means “to explain”. First he will engage in continuous sravana, or hearing, and then he will engage in continuous kirtana, or singing about and describing this pastime. And after that he will be able to engage in continuous smarana, or remembrance.

The word anumodana  means “appreciation”. Even if someone cannot engage in continuous sravanakirtana  and smarana  (auditory reception, vocal explication and mental recollection) of rasa-lila, yet still feels appreciation for it, then he, too, will receive prema-bhakti, the topmost bhakti, for Sri Krsna, within the core of his heart. First prema-bhakti, the most elevated form of devotional service (para-bhakti ), will enter his heart and then, afterward, hrd-rogam asv apahinoti  – the disease of the heart will be driven out very quickly.

The term hrd-roga, or “disease of the heart”, primarily indicates lust, or kama. It also means attraction to any illusory entity (mayika-vastu ), including mundane adoration, name and fame, and every other attractive feature of this world. A man’s love for his dog, for a girl, for his father, mother, wife or anyone else, is included in the term hrd-roga. All forms of attraction to anything in this world – the attainment of residence in the heavenly sphere, sense enjoyment and so on – are included in the term hrd-roga. But hrd-roga  especially refers to lust, or kama.

So, at first, prema-bhakti, the topmost  form of devotional service (para-bhakti ), will enter a person’s heart, and then, after that, he will forever be jitendriya, the conqueror of his senses. All forms of mundane attraction will permanently go far away and he will happily and continuously engage in sravanakirtana  and smarana  of Sri Krsna’s rasa-lila. Then, at last, he will attain residence in the abode of that topmost bhakti, Goloka Vrndavana.


* * *

Sri Krsna is lila-purusottama, the supreme personality of all lila, and the gopis  are lila-purusottama. The meaning of purusottama  is lila-para-sakti, the supreme potency of all lila. And the rasa-lila  between Krsna and the gopis  is the best of all lilas, in which every other lila  may arise. For example, dola-lila, wherein Sri Krsna plays with the gopis  on beautiful swings, has so many special features of its own. In this lila, Sri Krsna wants to embrace the gopis, but they are too shy to embrace Him in front of each other. However, when the swing they are seated upon is pushed higher and higher, the gopis  become afraid and tightly embrace Him. All the special features of this pastime and all the features of hundreds of thousands of other lilas  are included within rasa-lila.

As such, rasa-lila  is known as cakravarti  – the emperor of all lila. One who hears about rasa-lila, and even one who only longs to hear about it, is to be known as the cakravarti  among all those who listen to hari-katha. One who explains this lila  and sings about it is to be known as the cakravarti  among all those who explain the pastimes of Sri-Krsna. But what is the proof of this? The proof is also cakravarti, for this explanation is given by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.

If someone longs to hear about these pastimes, his longing is also to be known as cakravarti. By continuously hearing Sri Krsna’s rasa-lila, he will become qualified to explain it. And by continuously explaining it and hearing about it, rasa-lila  will automatically appear in his heart, without any tiresome endeavour. Such proof of the efficacy of this process is the cakravarti  of all proof.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura further clarifies that by hearing about this rasa-lila  and by explaining it; by remembering it and even by anumodana, appreciating it, a man will obtain gopi-prema. First he will enter raganuga-bhakti  in gopi-bhava, then he will achieve svarupa-siddhi  in that same bhava,  and at last vastu-siddhi.  And in  gopi-bhava  he will directly join in that same rasa-lila  with Sri Krsna and the gopis. This is certain. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has stressed this point by using the affix nu  – surely.


* * *

If a person never hears rasa-lila katha, his birth is useless. He should die, for he is actually a nama-aparadhi  and a vaisnava-aparadhi. This is a very strong statement, and although it is beneficial for everyone to hear this, not all are qualified to accept it. Previously, when we were in Jagannatha Puri during the month of Purusottama, I expressed the same truth Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is explaining here. It is essential to hear all of these truths, for one who fails to understand them is bound to become a nama-aparadhi.

Srila Jiva Gosvami has also commented on this verse. In his commentary he explains that, through this verse, Srila Sukadeva Gosvami has given blessings to all srautas  (listeners) and all bhaktas  who are to come after him – to all those who will explain this rasa-lila katha, to all those who will hear it, to all those who will remember it, and also to those who will have appreciation for it. He has given blessings to all of them.

What blessings has he given? With the words bhaktim param  bhagavati pratilabhya, Srila Sukadeva has blessed all those who hear, speak, remember, and appreciate this katha  to surely attain that para bhakti. The term para-bhakti, or the topmost bhakti, refers to prema -bhakti. But which form of prema -bhakti ? Vatsalya-prema ? Sakhya-prema ? No. They will surely attain madhurya-bhava. They will become gopis, just as the personified Srutis  did. But while the personified Srutis took a very, very long time to attain the positions of gopis, those who receive Srila Sukadeva’s blessings will attain madhurya-bhava  in a very short time.

If you hear about, explain, remember and appreciate these pastimes then you will obtain the darsana  and blessings of Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, as well as Sri Jiva Gosvami and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.


* * *

In his commentary, Srila Jiva Gosvami quotes a verse from Gita :

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
 

Bhagavad-gita  (18.54)

A person thus situated in transcendence becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires anything. Being equally disposed to all beings, he attains bhakti  to Me, which is blessed with the symptoms of prema.

Those who are brahma-bhutah  constantly remember brahmabrahmabrahma. They are no longer in the grips of maya, which primarily refers to mundane lust. All their desires have been removed and all their anarthas  have disappeared. Such personalities do not desire anything. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma. They are always prasanna, or pleased, since they are atma-rama  (one who rejoices in the self) and do not crave anything in the entire world. And they never experience any regret or sorrow. If they lose something, they never hanker (kanksati ) for it.

Then, sarvesu bhutesu, they are equal to all. At that stage, mad-bhaktim labhate para, they may attain para bhakti  for Sri Krsna. Here, one’s progress toward the attainment of para -bhakti  is the opposite of what we have previously discussed, for it is in relation to brahma-jnanis. This verse describes that such brahma-jnanis  will first have to conquer lust and all of their anarthas. They will have to give up all their desires, which will take a long, long time. Only then will they attain para bhakti, as Srila Sukadeva Gosvami or Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana and Sanat-kumara did. And by this method, even if one attains prema-bhakti, it will only develop to the point of santa -rasa.

But in the verse beginning vikriditam, we find that first para-bhakti  enters the heart and then lust and all other anarthas  will automatically disappear. Those who follow the process that is described in the verse beginning brahma-bhuta prasannatma  will have to labour so much to become free from lust and all other anarthas. And they may not succeed. Among hundreds of thousands of brahma-jnanis, perhaps one will succeed. There is no guarantee. But through the process described in the verse beginning vikriditam, anyone with sraddha  is qualified, and they do not have to make any laborious endeavour. They must simply hear, anusrnuyad, and the topmost prema-bhaktigopi-prema, will enter their heart, what to speak of santa-rasa. This gives us great hope.


* * *

The words idam ca  indicate that we will not only enter rasa-lila, but also so many other varieties of vilasa  like it. That we will be so fortunate is our greatest hope. The word idam  (in this) specifically indicates rasa-lila, the apex of all lila, while ca  (also) indicates all other lilas  like it, such as holi-lila, wherein Sri Krsna and the gopis  battle each other with water that has been died all different colours; dola -lila, or swing pastimes; jala -lila, or pastimes of playing in the water; gamana-lila, wherein the gopis  wander about with Sri Krsna while holding His hands; and all others. He will enter mana-lila, the pastimes of Sri Krsna trying to counteract the angry jealousy of the gopis ; He will enter dana-lila, wherein Sri Krsna harasses the gopis  for taxes before he allows them to pass by Him; He will enter kunja-lila, wherein Sri Krsna and the gopis  play together in beautifully decorated forest gardens; He will enter every lila. What great fortune he shall attain!

Why has the name Visnu, “the all-pervasive one”,  been used in idam ca visnoh ? During rasa-lila, Sri Krsna has manifested Himself beside hundreds of thousands of gopis, expanding one form for each of them. Visnu, in this context, refers to that Krsna, that Visnu, not the Visnu who resides within each atom of the material creation.


* * *

Continuing his explanation, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives an elucidation of the term sraddhanvitah, or “imbued (anvitah ) with complete faith (sraddha )”.

‘sraddha’-sabde – visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya
 

Sri Caitanya-caritamrtaMadhya-lila  (22.62)

The word sraddha  means immovable trust that by engaging in krsna-bhakti  one will undoubtedly fulfil all of one’s duties, on every level.

In this context, sraddha  refers to the conviction that if one continuously hears rasa-lila, continuously explains it, and continuously remembers it and appreciates it, then he will attain gopi-prema  and eventually attain the position of a gopi. The words sudrdha niscaya  indicate the immovable determination that “surely it will come to pass”. If one is imbued with this kind of conviction then he is sraddha-anvitah.

In relation to a man who possesses such sraddha, the word nu  has been used which means “certainly”. In other words, those who possess this kind of sraddha  will certainly attaingopi-prema  and enter into rasa-lila  with Sri Krsna and the gopis ; of this there is no doubt. Also it is explained that if someone has faith  in his gurudeva  and faith  in sastra  then his conviction shall be called sraddha. This is the verdict of sastra, of Srimad-Bhagavatam, of Srila Sukadeva Gosvami.


* * *

If someone is deeply convinced that “surely it will come to pass” and hears rasa-lila katha  with such conviction, then he is qualified to hear it and will certainly attain prema-bhakti. He will attain a form of prema  in accordance with what the gopis  experience in relation to Sri Krsna. First he will attain krsna-prema  – bhaktim param  bhagavati pratilabhya  – and then the disease of the heart, which includes all forms of mundane attraction, especially lust for the opposite sex, will go far away.

Lastly, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says dhirah. One who is dhirah  is also described as a pandita, a deeply realized person,  or as munivara, the best of saints. Who is being referred to as dhira  in this verse? Those who proclaim, “In sastra  it has been written that we should hear hari-katha, and specifically the apex of all hari-katha. By such hearing, the disease of lust will go far away.” One who believes in this fact very firmly is called dhira  – a deeply realized, saintly personality.

On the other hand, those who hear this sloka, and other slokas  in this line, but do not believe in them, are not qualified and the disease of lust will not leave their hearts. They proclaim, “First give up lust  and only then can you hear all these topics. First become qualified and then hear about rasa-lila.” Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has referred to such people as nastika  (atheists) and nama-aparadhis  (offenders of the holy name). He explains:

Such people are not dhirah, rather they are nama-aparadhis. But those who very thoughtfully consider Srila Sukadeva Gosvami’s words and hear rasa-lila katha  with the conviction that “surely it will come to pass” are  truly dhirah. Those who do not believe in the precepts of sastra, thinking instead, “We should first become qualified by giving up lust and all other forms of mundane attraction, and only after that should we hear rasa-lila katha,” are in fact nama-aparadhis. They do not believe in the words of Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, the words of sastra, and are therefore nama-aparadhis. Those who do not depend on the words Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, with full confidence, are actually atheistic.

Those who have no faith in the precepts of sastra  cannot attain prema  because they are nama-aparadhi. But if someone has even a trace of sraddha, if he hears rasa-lila katha  he will attain full-blown sraddha  and thus become truly qualified to hear. Even for him, prema  will first enter his heart, and then lust will go, completely and permanently.

Srila Jiva Gosvami concludes his commentary on this verse by saying, “He  Prabhu! He  Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it is You who gave this idea to the world. It is You making me dance inside and outside, inspiring me to explain all of this and to realize those explanations. You are making a person like me, a mundane fool like me, dance internally and externally. Because of the impetus of love for that Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I am writing all of these things.”

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has concluded his own commentary in a similar manner.

CC-BY-SA Rays of The Harmonist  No. 20 (Kartik 2009)



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Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year-4, Issue 12 “Continuously Hear About Rasa-lila” by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.

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