Discussions with the GBC
On the book, Raga-Vartma-Candrika [Part 4]
Mathura, India: 1991
[Respected Harikatha Readers,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
In 1991, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja led several members of the ISKCON GBC discussions on Raga-vartma-candrika, a famous Sanskrit treatise written by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Below is the Part 4 in that series of discussions, and we hope to send you the rest, one after another (Links for Parts 1, 2, 3).
Your aspiring servants, the Harikatha Team]
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: As Lalita trains Srimati Radhika in this way [for Radhika’s nocturnal meeting with Sri Krsna], Rupa Manjari watches, and our guru in this world, as sakhi-manjari in that world, also watches.
The manjaris know everything – at what time they should go and how they should go – and they very cleverly make all arrangements. This is abhisara (the nocturnal meeting).
Krsna is waiting at Sanketa. The night is dark, and it is raining. The manjaris come there first to find Krsna and tell Him that Srimati Radhika will not come that night. Actually, Radhika has already come and is hiding, watching to see Krsna’s reaction. In order to further increase Krsna’s desire for Srimati Radhika, the manjaris lie to Him, saying, “She will not come tonight.” Krsna practically faints at that time, and anxiously suggests a way for Radhika to meet with Him. If the manjaris see that Krsna is sincerely hankering to meet with Radhika, they at once go and tell Her, and She then comes to Him. Otherwise, She will not come.
Sometimes, when it is time for abhisara, it may be that their fathers-in-law or mothers-in-law, or all of their sisters-in-law, are present in their homes. The manjaris must be so clever that they can find a way to cheat their in-laws, telling them lies and cleverly devising a way for Radha and Krsna to meet. This is called abhisara. The manjaris perform all these activities; they know so many clever tricks.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: What is the exact meaning of that word abhisara?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You should know the meaning of abhisarika. It is a Sanskrit word referring to the heroine who leaves her home and travels to meet her lover at the assigned rendezvous bower. There are eight kinds of gopis: 1) abhisarika, meaning ‘the gopi who arranges the abhisara (meeting).’
2) Vasaksajja, meaning ‘the beloved gopi who beautifies the bower with various types of decorations in the mood of preparing the bed-chamber for her dearmost lover.’ She is always thinking that “Krsna is coming just now, just now, just now.” As she makes the bed, she is always listening for any noise. If she hears a rustling sound of leaves, she thinks that Krsna is coming.
3) Utkanthita, meaning ‘the gopi who repeatedly glances down the path in great eagerness, anxiously anticipating the arrival of her beloved Sri Krsna.’ She is so eager for Krsna to come, thinking, “Krsna is just coming, just coming, just coming. When will He come? When will He come?” Then, if Krsna does not reach there, she is called khandita.
4) Khandita: When Krsna arrives late and His body bears some signs of having enjoyed with another lover, the heroine becomes extremely jealous, either chastising Him or pouting. On the occasion that the time for meeting Krsna is over and He has not yet come, she wonders why not. “Why has He not come? There must be some reason. Perhaps He has gone to another gopi, or He may have fallen into danger. There are so many demons in Vrndavana. Perhaps He had to…”
Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: Watch out?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yudha karna.
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Fight.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: “Perhaps He had to fight with some demons, or something else may have happened.”
Krsna finally comes, well after the appointed time, when it is about to be morning. Seeing some signs on Krsna’s body indicating that He has just come from another beloved, the heroine becomes so furious. She then has a lover’s quarrel with Him, and after that does not speak to Him.
5) Kalahantarita: When, due to some quarrel with Krsna the heroine sends Him away, in Her anguish she becomes even more bereaved due to dismissing Him.
On the occasion that Krsna apologizes, falls at the feet of Radhika, and at last convinces Her to give up Her anger, Srimati Radhika commands Him, “Put on My ankle-bells; braid My hair and decorate it.” and Krsna follows Her order. At this time, She is called 6) svadhina-bhartrka. There is no English equivalent for this word, but the meaning is that the lover is…
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Under her control.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: That lady who has gotten her lover under her control.
[The other two kinds of heroine are: 7) Vipralabdha: If the heroine sits waiting in the secluded bower, and her lover does not show up at all, then She feels greatly disappointed; and 8) Prosita-bhartrka, whose lover is far away in a distant place.]
In each situation that manjari has some duty – to rebuke Krsna, to make Him understand, or to give consolation to Radhika. All the qualities required for service at these times reside in the manjaris. They prepare, give sympathy, decorate, and make so many arrangements:
nikunja-yuno rati -keli-siddhyai ya yalibhir yuktir apeksaniya
tatrati-daksyad ati-vallabhasya vande guroh sri caranaravindam
["Sri Gurudeva is always present with the sakhis, planning the arrangements for the perfection of Yugala Kisora’s amorous pastimes (rati-keli) within the kunjas of Vrndavana. Because he is so expert in making these tasteful arrangements for Their pleasure, he is very dear to Sri Radha and Krsna. I offer prayers unto the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva."]
So many arrangements are required to serve Radha and Krsna when They meet in the kunja and engage in Their pleasurable amorous affairs (vilasa). The sakhis and manjaris must cheat others, meet with Krsna, rebuke Him, and so on. Rupa Manjari is highly experienced – quite fit to do all these services.
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Well-trained.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Well-trained. We should always remember what she does in her siddha-sarira (form as a gopi) as Rupa Manjari, and we should adopt her mood. However, until we receive our sthayi-bhava (our constitutional mood in one of the four rasas), which comes from hladini-sakti, we can only pray to have all these things as Raghunatha dasa Gosvami prays in Vilapa Kusumanjali.
We cannot perform these services in our present stage, and the guru warns his neophyte disciples not to try. We can only pray, “When will my good fortune come, so that I will actually be able to render service like Rupa Manjari, Ananga Manjari, and our gurus?”
Tad bhava lipsuna karya [tat means ‘of that,’ bhava means ‘the mood,’ lipsuna means ‘desiring to obtain,’ and karya means ‘to be executed.’] The devotee with genuine greed follows the mood and activities of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, and our Gurudeva in his sadhaka-rupa (his form as a practitioner of raganuga-bhaki in this world), and in his siddha-rupa (his internally conceived form of a manjari), he follows Rupa Manjari, Rati Manjari, and Labanga Manjari in their service to Radha-Krsna Yugala (the divine couple).
Vraja-lokanusaratah [vraja-loka means ‘of a particular servant of Krsna in Vrndavana, and anusaratah means ‘following in the footsteps]: Those who have genuine greed must do just as the Vrajavasis have done. Here, ‘Vrajavasis’ refers to Rupa Manjari and other manjaris in madhurya-rasa.
Krsna performs two kinds of pastimes, aisvarya-lila and madhurya-lila. What is aisvarya-lila? Krsna is always full of six opulences: jnana, vairagya, sri, and so on (full knowledge, renunciation, beauty, strength, fame, and wealth). He always exhibits these, whether He is in His form as Narayana or whether He is in His original form as Krsna.
We see that Krsna is full of these six virtues even in Vrndavana; He is never without them. When He killed Putana, He was a baby of only a few days. She tried to fly away when He took her breast in His mouth, but Krsna would not let her go: “Oh, I will take your milk, and at the same time your…”
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: “Your life.”
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: “Your life. I will keep you with Me always; I will never leave you.”
Putana had the power of 10,000 elephants, yet she could not break away from Krsna. Baby Krsna was doing nothing, only gripping her breast in His mouth, yet He took her life. This is truly aisvarya-lila,
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Full power.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: But Krsna never changed His form. He remained as a baby and simply kept hold of Putana’s breast.
The residents of Vrndavana (Vraja-loka), are all engaged with Krsna in nara-lila, His sweet human-like pastimes. This pastime of killing Putana is in the category of nara-lila, even though Putana was killed by aisvarya. There is also aisvarya in Vraja, but side by side with madhurya. Moreover, the gopis see only madhurya, not aisvarya. Aisvarya is there, but…
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Covered by madhurya.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It is covered by madhurya. It is not that in Vrndavana there is no aisvarya-lila. In fact, the aisvarya in Vraja is greater than in that of Dvaraka or even that of Vaikuntha, but it is always covered by madhurya. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has written that if there were only nara-lila and no aisvarya in Krsna, He would be simply an ordinary human child performing human activities. Without the quality of aisvarya, He cannot be God, and He would not be worshipped as the worshipful Deity of the various rasas. Without aisvarya…
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: He is not God.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: He is not God, nor would He be the gopis’ object of worship (upasya).
There is an interesting point to be noted here. We see that Nanda Baba, Yasoda, and all the gopas and gopis accept Krsna as Nanda Baba and Yasoda’s son, or as their friend; and they behave accordingly. When everyone saw seven year-old Krsna lifting Govardhana Hill on His left pinky finger, the elderly gopas told Nanda Baba, “This child is not an ordinary boy. He is just like Narayana, and perhaps He‘s even Narayana Himself.”
Nanda Baba replied, “He may be Narayana ; but He is still my son. At the time of Krsna’s name-giving ceremony, I heard this from…”
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Paurnamasi.
Burijana dasa: Garga Rsi.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, Garga Rsi. Garga Rsi had told Nanda Baba and the other Vrajavasis at the time of Krsna’s name-giving ceremony that Krsna is not less than Narayana, and that He was previously Vasudeva’s son. This is why all the elder gopas were now saying, “So, don’t treat Him as your son, and don’t rebuke Him or tie Him up. Don’t abuse Him. Don’t call Him “Little thief” or “Cheater, rascal.” *[See endnote 1]
Nanda Baba at once laughed and said, “You are saying that He is God and that He held up Govardhana on His finger. Garga Rsi has also told us this. But I see that you are over sixty. Your mind is not working correctly. Krsna comes and begs from His mother, ‘Give me bread and butter.’ And He always weeps.
If He doesn’t get what He wants when He wants it, He becomes furious with anger; and sometimes He steals. These are not the symptoms of God. So whether or not He held up Govardhana, He is my son.
Nanda Baba concluded, “But in my opinion, He did not do it; it was actually our Deity of Narayana, our grha-devata.
Burijana dasa: The worshipful Deity of our home.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, the Deity of our home. It was He who lifted Govardhana upon hearing our prayer. We prayed to Narayana, and therefore He answered our prayers. It only appears that Krsna has done this.
He is my son. If for argument’s sake we say that He is God, still He is my son. I will rebuke Him, I will discipline Him, and I will do whatever else is needed to make Him behave properly. I will keep him by my side.”
Here, Nanda Maharaja is actually seeing that all of Krsna’s virtues make Him appear like God, but even though Krsna had performed an act of God, Nanda Baba still cannot give up his belief that Krsna is his son.
Vasudeva and Devaki have a different conception. After killing Kamsa, Krsna and Balarama went to them in prison and untied their hathakari berhi
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami and Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: Shackles.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Shackles and handcuffs. The two boys wanted to offer obeisances to Their mother and father, who were standing with folded palms and praying, “Oh, You are God. We saw You…
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: In the wrestling arena?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: We saw You when You originally appeared to us in a four-handed form, and now You have also come here before us.”
Krsna thought, “My pastimes will be…”
Sripad Tamal Krsna Gosvami: Spoiled?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: “My pastimes will be spoiled by their mood of aisvarya.” He therefore called for Yogamaya to come. Yogamaya came, and at the same time Krsna climbed onto Devaki’s lap and began to weep. Then, by the effect of Yogamaya, Devaki also began to weep; and Baladeva fell at the feet of Vasudeva, who began to weep as well. But Vasudeva and Devaki never saw Krsna as their son; they always considered Him as God.
Here we see the aisvarya mood of Vasudeva and Devaki. It is accompanied with some madhurya, but so little that that madhurya cannot cover the aisvarya. But in Vraja, even if there is an abundance of aisvarya, Yasoda and Nanda do not forget that He is their son; they always remember this. For example, their breasts swell with pride as they observe, “Oh, Krsna has lifted Govardhana Hill. My son has done this? Oh, now all of Vraja can see how strong and powerful is my son.” *[See endnote 2]
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has given these good examples, as he has also given examples for madhura-rasa. Regarding the gopis, he gives the example of the occasion that Uddhava went to Vraja to give them consolation. At that time Uddhava heard Radhika telling the bumblebee, “O bee, go at once! Get out of here. We will have no sandhi with Krsna. What is the meaning of sandhi?
Burijana dasa: Connection, no connection.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: When two parties come to some agreement in court, what is that called?
Sripad Dhanurdhara Maharaja: Settlement.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Mutual settlement.
Sripad Giriraja Maharaja: I looked it up in the Brahmara-gita, and it means ‘reconciliation.’
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes. “We cannot make any reconciliation with Him. We know who He is. We know who this person is, from His many previous births; not just from this birth.”
This is the ‘aisvarya’ mood of Radhika and the gopis. This is how they ‘realize Krsna’s Godhood.’ They say, “Paurnimasi has told us about Krsna, and we have faith in her words. She told us that in His previous birth He was Rama, and He had the same blackish color as Krsna [deep green is also called ‘syama’] He loved Sita so much that He became Her servant; when He went to the forest He even took Her with Him and became her order-supplier. He cannot live alone, just as Krsna cannot live alone. Krsna always has to keep some lady with Him.
“Sita once told Him, ‘Oh, look at that golden deer! Please go and bring it to me, either dead or alive. If it is alive I will take it to Ayodhya when our time of exile is finished, and at that time I will give it to Kaikeyi Ma or Bharata. And, if it is dead, I will make a mrgachalla from it.” Do you know the meaning of mrgachala? It is used as an asana.
Burijana dasa: Deerskin
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: “‘Or, I will make a very soft deerskin asana. In either case, I want it.’
“Laksmana warned Rama, ‘I think this is the maya (illusory creation) of demons. You must not go.’
“But we know that even Lord Brahma cannot change the mind of a lady once she has determined something, and what to speak of Rama, who is a servant of that lady. So Rama went to capture the deer.
“At another time Surpanakha (a man-eating demoness) came disguised to Rama, saying, ‘I am so beautiful, and You are so handsome. I want to marry you. Your wife is not as beautiful as I. I am available for you.’ Rama replied, ‘Better to go to Laksmana. He is unmarried. My wife is here, so I cannot accept you; but He is single, so you can go to Him.’ Surpanakha then went and told this to Laksmana, who asked her, ‘Do you want to be a maidservant or do you want to be the queen?’ She answered, ‘I want to be the queen.’ Laksmana replied, ‘I am the servant of Rama. If you wed Me, you will be a maidservant. Rama can have many marriages and every wife will be a queen. So return to Rama.’ Again Surpanakha went to Ramacandra, who directed her back to Laksmana. Finally she became furious and was ready to eat Sita. At that time Rama told Laksmana, ‘Don’t joke with her. Great harm will come of this.’”
Don’t ever joke with ladies. Don’t laugh with them or make them laugh.
The gopis continued, “Rama was so cruel and lusty. Why did He cut Surpanakha’s nose and ears? He purposely marred her, just to make her ugly so that no one would ever marry her, and even her husband would not keep her. In her next birth Surpanakha came as Kubja, who was again so ugly that no one would marry her. So see what kind of person He is. See how cruel He is.
“Then, in Satya-yuga, Krsna came as Vamana, and for no good reason He cheated Bali Maharaja, telling him, ‘I will take only three steps of land.’ Bali Maharaja agreed, ‘Yes, I will give you this.’ But when Vamana began to take His steps, He became so tall that with two steps He covered all three planetary systems and pierced the covering of the universe with the toes of His left foot. He then needed somewhere to place His foot for His third step, and Bali Maharaja offered himself, but still He was not satisfied. He tied Bali up and threw him down to hell.
“That is what we know about that person, so we will not make any reconciliation with Him. Go away from here at once.”
This is what Srimati Radhika was saying to the bumble-bee.
Here, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti states that the gopis heard from Paurnamasi that Krsna is God, that He came as Rama, Vamana, and all other incarnations, but nonetheless they personally recognized Him only as their lover.
In this way, there is aisvarya in Vraja, but it is always covered with madhurya. Moreover, this aisvarya-bhava in the gopis comes only in viraha-bhava, in their mood of separation, not in meeting. Their aisvarya-bhava is like a piece of grass in three or four manas [1 mana = 40 kilos] of milk as the milk is being boiled over a very big fire. After much time, when that milk becomes very hot and begins to boil, the piece of grass comes up, but at once goes down.
So only in the heat of separation is that ‘grass’ of aisvarya-bhava seen in the gopis. It is not visible all the time. Moreover, even when there is aisvarya, the gopis love Krsna only as their lover. They never think of Him as God.
When aisvarya is anukula…
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Favorable.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: When aisvarya is favorable to nara-lila, in other words, when Krsna continues to act like an ordinary human, then it is madhurya.
Here is an example of the madhurya-bhava that is sometimes in the heart of Devaki and Arjuna. For instance, when Krsna was sitting on the chariot, Arjuna told Him, “O Krsna, take my chariot to the middle of the battlefield.” And Krsna did that. But then, when Arjuna saw the Visvarupa, Krsna’s universal form, he became very nervous and said, “I will not address You as ‘Friend.’ You are God Himself.”
Burijana dasa: Aisvarya covered him.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Aisvarya was more powerful. Arjuna was overpowered by aisvarya and forgot that Krsna was his friend. Arjuna’s mood, as well as the mood of all other associates in Dvaraka-lila, is full of aisvarya. Sometimes there is madhurya, but it is always defeated by aisvarya.
In nara-lila the devotee thinks that Krsna is the lover of the gopis, and He is Radha-kanta, the lover of Srimati Radhika. So, just as the gopis in nara-lila serve Radha and Krsna, we should also serve Them, as manjaris. This is the meaning of vraja-lokanusaratah.
Nanda Baba, Yasoda, and the gopis have a relationship with Krsna as human beings even though they are not humans – this is nara-lila.
You can see the meaning in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu.
Bhurijana dasa: The whole verse: “In this Vraja, one engaged in spiritual practices under subservience to the residents of Vraja, with an eager longing to follow in the mood of their bhavas, (the feelings, and sentiments, of one’s desired dearest one of Sri Krsna) should serve Them both – Sri Krsna and his dearest Sri Radha (or Sri Nanda-Yasoda, as the case may be). This is applicable both in the stage of a sadhaka, the stage of spiritual practices while still in bondage, and also in the stage of siddha, when one has attained the object of such spiritual practices.”
["In the transcendental realm of Vraja one should serve the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, with a feeling similar to that of His associates, and one should place himself under the direct guidance of a particular associate of Krsna and should follow in his footsteps. This method is applicable both in the stage of sadhana and in the stage of sadhya , when one is a siddha-purusa, or a spiritually perfect soul." [We have included this translation, as quoted in Srila Prabhupada’s Nectar of Instruction Verse 8, for any readers who may find this translation clearer.]
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja: I have also told this...
Bhurijana dasa: You have explained it very nicely.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: This is the second sloka quoted by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
[*Endnote 1 (Jagannatha Puri, Oct. 13, 2001)
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] But it is only in viraha (separation) that the gopis, and all the Vrajavasis, sometimes say, "Oh, He's God, the Supreme Lord." And in what context do they say this? They say, "Paurnamasi has told us this." Or, "Gargacarya has told us." Somehow they have heard this from them, but they themselves have no realization that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is always using the word 'jnana'. "They have the jnana that Krsna is Bhagavan; that He's Paramesvara."
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] They 'knew,' but 'know' in this connection means 'knowing (hearing) from others.' It does not mean, "I know; I have realization." It means they were 'hearing' that Krsna is God.
[*Endnote 2 (Holland, June 28, 2002)
[Syamarani dasi:] In the middle of your class you were explaining that none of the Vrajavasis know, or believe, that Krsna is the Supreme Lord.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes.
[Syamarani dasi:] Someone who doubted that principle once asked you, "What about the pastime in which Krsna became Visnu and Radhika became Laksmi?" You replied, "No. There's a deep meaning there…"
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This was play.
[Syamarani dasi:] Can you please explain further?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] It was only play. No associates – not even the grasses, creepers, parrots and birds, what to speak of any Vrajavasis like Nanda Baba or Yasoda Ma – ever believe that Krsna is the Supreme Lord. Krsna may be the Supreme Lord, the Lord of lords. He may be; but to the Vrajavasis Krsna is a friend, a son, or a beloved; only this.
[Syamarani dasi:] So they were playing a game?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes, it was for the recreation and entertainment (mano-ranjana) of Radha and Krsna and the gopis. Actually they do not know. They are all greater than Brahma, Sankara, and even Narada. They can teach bhakti to Narada, but still they don’t know that Krsna is the Supreme Lord. If anyone would tell them that He is God, the Vrajavasis would reply sarcastically, "Oh yes, you are right. Be right. Very good. If He is the Supreme Lord, then I want that everyone will attain bhakti to His lotus feet." Then bas [a Hindi word meaning ‘that’s the end of it’]; nothing is felt regarding Krsna's being God, and nothing is said further.