Krishna

 

(Charm & Beauty of Sri Krishna)

By Vedanta Desikar

Translated By Dr Saroja Ramanujam

Desika, the great devotee and the composer has written devotional hymns on all the deities of all the shrines but none of the forms of Lord Narayana seems to be so dear to him as His incarnation as Krishna. Gopalavimsati, twenty verses in praise of Krishna is the most exquisite work exuding charm and beauty. Yadhavaabhyudhaya is an epic which seems to be an elongated version of Gopalavimsati as it elaborates on the subtle references to the exploits of Krishna therein but it is rich in poetic skill and intellectual excellence. The most significant fact which points out to the link between the two works is that the opening verse of both the works is the same.
The mangalasloka is :

‘vande Vrindavana charam, vallavee jana vallabham;
Jayantee sambhavam DHaama, vyjayanthee vibhooshanam. (Gopalaavimsati-1)
This verse is rich in meaning and brings out fully the glory of Krishna. It means, ‘Salutations to Him, who was born on Krishnaashtami, who used to inhabit the Vrindavan, adorned with the garland of forest flowers, self-effulgent and loved by Gopis. The four adjectives given to the Lord, namely, Vrindavanacharam, the one who roams around in Vrindavan, vallveejanavallabham, the beloved of the Gopis, jayantheesambhavam, born on the day of His avatar, vyjayantheevibhooshanam, adorned by the forest flowers are rich in meaning as they denote His love (vathsaltya), benevolence (souseelya), approachability (soulbhya) and Lordship(svamithva).
The vanamaala here is the maya of the Lord which He wears like a garland in His manifestations. This indicates that Krishna is the Parabrahman who is the cause of this universe created out of His own Maya. The Paravasudeva is referred to by this epithet.

 

The nextsloka describes the Gopalayantra.
vaacham nijanka rasikaam, prasa meekshmaaNa;
vaktraara vindha, vinivesita paanchajanya;
varNa trikoNa ruchire, vara pundareeke
badDHaa sano jayathi, vallava chakravarthee.(Gopalaimsati-2)

The Lord is seated on , a lotus shaped aasana, varapuNdareeke , which is beautiful, ruchira, and trikoNa , with three angles and contains varNa, letters of the Gopalamantra.Within a lotus of eight petals there is a triangle and the varNa, lettersrepresent Vak,Sarasvatidevi, nijaankarasika, whoenjoysthe anka , lap, meaning the center of the yantra. Krishna is looking at her, prasameekshamaaNah, His glances directed towards her to give jnana . The implication here is that the wisdom of even Sarasvati is from the Lord only.He has the Panchajanya, the conch which is the source of all sounds being praNavasvarupa, in His lotus like mouth, Vaktraaravindavinivesitha paanchajanyah. The Lord is referred to as vallavachakravarthee,the Lord of the cowherds.He is a chakravarthee , the emperor of the universe though born in the vallaveekula. The rest of the slokas are beautiful describing the leelas of Krishna which we shall see presently.

 

AmnaayaganDHirudhithasphurithaadDHaroshtam
aasraavilekshaNam anukshaNamandhahaasam
gopaladimbhavapusham kuhanaajananyaah
praanNsthananDHayam avaimi param pumaamsam.(Gopalavimsathi-3)

‘I know for certain that this child in the form of a cowherd is none other than the Supreme Purusha, whose lower lip trembling when he cries has the fragrance of the vedas, whose eyes are stained with tears but the next moment lit up with smile, who drank the life of Poothana , who came disguised as His mother.’

Krishna was crying or pretends so because even though His lower lip was trembling it gives out the fragrance of the vedas and eyes were full of tears, He gives a charming smile( perhaps when no one was looking) which belies His grief. Besides He drank the life of Poothana who came in the guise of His mother. So Desika says that he is sure that this is none else than the Lord.He uses the verb ‘avaimi’ to mean ‘I know’ to denote that it is his confirmed opinion.

The idea in saying that the trembling lip ‘sphurithaaDharoshtam, of Krishna, who is crying,’rudhitha,’ smell of vedas, is that whatever sound that came out of His lips is that is veda.Desika says in his Yadhavaabhyudhaya that Krishna’s first speech and his conversation with His friends and even the sound made by the cows around Him were nothing but the vedic sound, because He is the Paramapurusha whose nisvaasa, exhalation is the veda. The veda sabdas became the cows and the rshis of dandakaranya became the Gopis.

 

AavirbhvathyanibhrthaabharaNam purasthaath
aakunchithaikacharaNam nibhrthaanyapaadham
DHadhnaa nimanTha mukhareNanibaddhathaalam
naatTHasya nandhabhavane navaneethnaatyam (Gopalavimsati-4)

‘Let the vision of Krishna dancing in the house of Nanda, His ornaments sounding as He dances, with one foot steady and the other bent , His navaneethnaatya, danc for butter,to the thala of the churning of milk, appear in front of me’

Krishna begs for butter and dances to please His mother to persuade her to give it to Him., . His ornaments shake,anibhrthaabharaNam, as He dances making beautiful sound. He has one foot bent, aakunchithaikacharaNam and other foot steady, nibhrthaanyapaadham in dancing a step. What can be the thala to His dance Desika says the churning of curd making continous sound ,daDHinimanThamukhara,provides the thaala. Desika calls this navaneethanaatya, dance for butter.

Desika in his Yadhavabhyudhya, describes this as follows:

The lokasuthradhaara, one who is the controller or director of this world of chit and achit, danced to the wishes of the Gopis wishing to get butter. What a wonderful leela!

In gokula, keeping close to the churning pot desiring butter, the body of Krishna is splattered with drops of curd. Desika is reminded of the form of the Lord splattered with drops of nectar, or milk while churning the milky ocean. The same idea is expressed by Kulasekhara in Mukundamala where he says,

Ksheera saagara tharanga seekaraa, saarathaarakrtha charumoorthaye
Bhogi bhoga sayaneeya, saayine maadhavaaya madhvidvishe namah.

Salutations to Madhava ,the killer of Madhu, reclining on the bed of adisesha, His body charming splattered with the drops from the waves of the milky ocean, looking as though He is covered with stars.

The dance of Krishna desiring butter is described by Leelasuka also thus:
Vadhane navaneethagandDHavaaham vachane thaskarachaathuree DHureeNam
nayanaakuhanaasru asrayetTHaah charaNam komalathaandavam kumaaram

Seek the foot of the boy who is dancing gracefully,with His mouth smelling of butter,His speech showing Him to be the foremost of cheats, His eyes ( on being told off) full of false tears.

The devotees imagine that the reason the Lord left the milky ocean and came to gokula is because being milky ocean He can get only milk there and not butter.

 

Harthum kumbhe vinihithakarah svaadhu hyangaveenam
dhrshtvaa dhaamagrahaNa chatulaam maatharam jaatharoshaam
paayath eeshathprachalithapadhah nApagacchan na thishtan
mithyaa gopah sapadhi nayane meelayan visvagopthaa.(Gopalavimsathi-5)

May the saviour of the world, the pseudo cowherd, who put His hand in the pot of fresh clarified butter and seeing His mother agitated and angry with a rope on hand, closed His eyes at once ( as though afraid ), and took a step as if to go but neither moved nor stood, protect us.

Hyangaveenam is fresh ghee prepared from milk taken the day before.

Krishna wished to eat the ghee prepared from the butter taken from the curd made out of the milk milked the day before when he saw his mother, angry and agitated at his mischief, approaching him with a rope in hand to tie him up. Then he pretended as though he is angry and took a step as if to go but did not stir from the place with one step forward and one step backward.

This scene is described in Bhagavatha thus:

krthaagamamtham prarudhantham akshiNee
kashanthmajjanmashiNee svapAinaa
udhveekshamaaNam bayavihvlekshaNam
hasthe grheethvaa bhishaynthyavaagurath

Yasodha is grasping Krishna in her hand and threatens him and Krishna is seen crying and smudging the eyeliner applied to his eyes with his hand. What a delightful picture of the leela of the Lord!

Desika calls him mithyaagopah , because being visvagoptha, the protector of the whole universe he is now pretending to be a cowherd boy feigning fear. This is the scene precedent to Krishna getting bound in the mortor. The next verse serves as an elucidation of the word mithyagopah.

 

vrajyoshidhapaangaveDHaneeyam madhuraabhaagyam ananyabhogyameede
vasudevavadhoosthanandhayam thath kimapi brahma kishorabhaava dhrsyam-(Gopalavimsati-6)

I worship that Brahman, who appears as a child of Vasudeva and Devaki , who is pierced by the glances of the Gopis ( like arrows) and who is the fortune of the kingdom of Madhura and is the delight of His ardent devotees.

Desika here shows the true identity of the mithyagopa before he starts describing another leela of the Lord ,namely, the yamalaarjuna bhanga, uprooting of the twin trees to free the sons of Kubera. He also indicates in this sloka the later episode of venugana and raasakrida by the epithet vrajayoshidhapaangavedhaneeyam,the glances , apaanga of Gopis, vrajyoshid , piercehim like arrows through their love .

He is the bhaagya, blessing of madhura meaning that He is considered to be the greatest good fortune by all in Madhura. To the devotee the Lord is the best bhagya that could happen because once He is with us all the world and its wealth and enjoyment therein becomes trivial. Desika himself said this in his vairagyapanchakam when riches were offered to him., ‘ asthi me hasthisailaagre vasthu pairthaamahamadhanam, I have at the top of the hasthigiri, (meaning Varadaraja of kanchi) the wealth of my forefathers, ‘
Desika wonders at the scene where the parabrahma, the SupremeSelf appearing as a boy in the gokula , brhmakishorabhaavadhrsyamThe word kimapi used as an adjective to brahmakishora denotes the wonder. Kimapi is translated as indescribable or extraordinary in this context.

Madhusudhana sarasvathi, a great exponent of advaita philosophy, who at the same time a devotee of krishna says,
Yenaabhyaa sena vaseekrthena mansaa yannirguNama nishkriyam
jyothih kimchana yoginahyadhi param pasyanthi pasyanthu the
asmaakam thu thadheva lochanachamathkaaraaya bhooyaath chiram
kaalindhee pulineshu kimapi yanneelam maho dhaavathi

Let those yogis see that supreme light, (Brahman) which is actionless and attributeless, with their mind controlled through practice. As far as we are concerned the same Brahman, as a blue light, is running here on the banks of Yamuna to the delight of our eyes.

the next scene describes Krishna being bound in a mortar inorder to free the ons of Kubera from their curse.

 

Parivarthitha kandharam bhayena smithaphullaadharapallavam smaraami
vitapithvaniraasakam kayoschith vipulolookalakarshakam kumaaram
( Gopalavimsathi-7)

I recall the memory of the young boy, who is pulling the large mortar along with him with smiling sproutlike lips turning his head (asthough) in fear , who thus freed those (two sons of kubera) from their treehood.

Yasodha had bound Krishna in a mortar and he was pulling the mortar and went through the two twin trees in his backyard who were thw two sons of Kubera cursed to become trees by the sage Narada because they were bathing in the river and did not heed him when he came that way. they were pardoned and were told that the Lord will free them in His krishnaavathaara. So they took the form of twin trees at the house of Nandagopa waiting for their redemption. When Krishna passed through the trees the mortor got stuck between them and when Krishna pulled at it the trees fee down with great noise and the two sons of Kobera were freed from their curse and went away after bowing down to Krishna.

Bhagavatha describes the effort of Yasodha in trying to bind Krishna to the mortar thus:Yasodha found that the rope withwhich she tried to tie him up was short by two inches, dvayangulonam.She tried it with other ropes but all were found to be short by two inches due to the maya of the Lord.then seeing her tired and flustered Krishna got bound by himself out of love and pity for his mother who was laughed at by other Gopis witnessing he scene.

The scene in which Yasodha bound Krishna to the mortor has been eulogised by Desika in his yadhavabhyudhaya and by Lilasuka in krishna karnaamritha.

Desika calls the mortar ‘aatthapuNya. ‘ That is , it has done some good deed in its purvajanma to have Krishna bound to it. He says Yasodha tried ti bind Himwho is the bandhu of the good.’Bandhum sathaam bandhumiyesha maatha, ‘ with pun on the word bandhu.

Leela sukha asks those, who try to understand the Brahman by extensive study of the vedas and become fatigued by wandering in the forest of vedas, to stop their effort and come to Gokula where the essence of the upanishads is found tied to a mortor, ‘upanishadhartham ulookale baddham.’

Desika further says in his Yadhavabhyudhaya that those who meditate on the Lord thus bound to the mortar will be free from all bondage against the rule that one becomes like the object which he contemplates longingly,( thathkrathunyaya.) One who thinks of the navaneethachourya will be free from all deceitvful thoughts and thinking of His rasaleela will free the heart from all lust and other desires.

 

nikateshu nisaamayaami nithyam nigamaantharairadhunaapi mrgyamaanam
yamalaarjuna dhrshtabaalakelim yamunaasaakshikayouvanam kumaaram
(Gopalavimsathi-8)
Let me observe everywhere near me, Him, who is inquired by the vedas even now and eternal, whose childhood sport is witnessed by the twin trees and whose boyhood is wirnessed by the river Yamuna.

Desika passes on from the childhood leelas of the Lord to those of His boyhood on the banks of a Yamuna in the next verse and he mentions the transition of Krishna from the state of baala to that of kaumara in this verse.

The consequence of binding Krishna to the mortar is only hinted in this verse by mentioning that the twins, the sons of Kuerea who were in the form of twin trees were the ebservers of the baalaleela of the Lord. Being situated in the backyard of the house of Nanda, naturally they were witnessing all the leealas of the baby Krishna.

Bhagavatham desctribes the release of the curse of the sons of Kubera thus:
rsheh bhaagavathamukhyasya sathyam karthum vacho harih
jagaama sanakaisthathra yathra aasthaam yamalaarjunou ( Bh.10-10-24)

Krishna went towards the trees in oreder to prove the words of sage Narada, who was the foremost among HIs devotees.he thought, says Bhagavatham,
devarshirme priyathamah yadhimou dhanaddhaathmajou
thatthathaa saadhayishyaami yadhgeetham thanmahaathmanaa (Bh.10-10-25)
“the devarshi Narada is dear to me and these are the sons of Kubera(who is also a devotee) anf hence I will fulfill what has been promised by Narada.”

As he took the form of a lion-man to prove the words of Prahlada and the boon of Brahma, both of whom were His devotees, now he allowed HImself to be bound to the mortar in order to free the twins and to prove the words of Narada . That is the karunaa of the Lord.

May you be not deluded by HIs childish pranks, implies Desika by saying that the one who did all this is ‘nigamaanthairadhunaapi mrgyamaana’ He whom the vedas struggle to understand even now. In yadhavaabhyudhaya Desika says that the scriptures trying to describe the Lord as He is, become tired even before they finish with one of HIs gunas .’yadekaiakgunapraanthe sraanthaah nigamavandhinah’ Such is the glory of the Lord.

 

Padhaveem adhaveeyaseem vimukthEh ataveesampadham ambuvAhayantheem
aruNADHara sAbilAshavamsAm karuNAm kAraNa mAnusheem bajAmi
(Gopalavimsathi-9)

I worship HIm, who is the cause of the world and the personification of mercy in human form, thus a shortcut to salvation, who is the rainbearing cloud to Vrindavan forest and holds the flute, which looks eager to be near His red lips.

Krishna is described by means of four adfjectives :

  1. karunA kAraNa manushee — personification of mercy being the cause of the world assuming human form.He is the creator of the world and sustainer as well due to HIs mercy. He has assumed the human form as Devakinandana in order to give refuge to all creatures great and small like cowherds and cattle as well as the kings like Pandavas.That is why He is called karuna by Desika.

2.ataveesampadham ambuvahayantheem– He makes the forests of Brindhavan flourish with His very presence. Desik describes this more elaborately in his YAdhavAbhyudhaya thus:
yenoushaDHeenAm aDHipam purasthAthAhlAdha hEthum jagathAm akArsheeth
thEnaiva dhaDHyou manasA vanam thath krishnO gavAm kshEma samrddhim icchan
( Yad.4-40)
It means, just as He created the moon, the Lord of the herbs, with HIs mind (chandhramA manasO jAthah—Purushasuktham) wishing to give joy to the world, now made the forest rich with vegetation by His will for the welfare of the cattle.

3.aruNADHara sAbhilAsha vamsAm– holding the flute at His red lips which seems as though the flute is desirous of drinking the nector of HIs lips.

4.padhaveem adhaveeyaseem vimukthEh –padhavee can be taken to mean either a path or a place. The Lord is both the path and the place of salvation and that too, adhveeyasee, meaning very near. He is here and easily available for those who seek Him. He always near and hence the salvation ,mukthi is also near , says Desika, dhaveeyas meaning ‘far’ adhaveeyas is the opposite, very near. It is remarked by one devotee that vaikunta is just a call away because when gajEndhra called Him the Lord came immediately!

All the four qualifications mentioned here only denotes His karuNa, infinite mercy.

 

animEshanishevaNaNeeyam akshNoh ajahadhyouvanam Avirasthu chitthE
kalaHAyithakunthalam kalApaih karONmAdhaka vibhramam mahO mE
(gopala visathi-10)

May the brilliant form of the Lord, which should be enjoyed with unblinking eyes, the ever youthful, with HIs crown of peacock feathers always agitated by HIs tresses, thus enchanting all the senses with His playful actions, be present in my mind always.

His form is so beautiful that the onlookers are afraid even to bat their eyelids fearing that the form will be lost for that moment.So Desika says that he should be seen with animesha akshinee, unblinking eyes. His youth is eternal and gives pleasure to all the senses. The experience is compared by Desika to unmAdha or madness of the karaNa senses. On describing the returning of Krishna from the forest Desika says in his YAdhvAbhyudhaya, that in the evening at sunset, seeing Him return from the forest the Gopis felt that their minds were completely covered with peacock feathers, meaning that they were enchanted by His maya, as the peacock feathers are usually used by magicians. ‘RasO vai sah,’ says the upanishad, as the Lord is the essence of joy. He evokes all the rasas by His presence and all tthe senses are gratified at the same time.

 

Anuyaayi manojna vamsanaaLah avathu spasrsitha vallavee vimohaih
anaghasmitha sheethalairasoumaam nukampaasaridhambujairapaangaih
(Gopalavimsathi-11)
May the Lord protect me with His sidewise glances, which are the lotuses that grow in the water of mercy,followed by the stalk in the form of the flute,and which make the Gopis swoon by its touch and made cool with His pure smile.

The glance, apaanga is compared to lotus whose stalk,naala is the bamboo, vamsa with naala, reeds with holes, the music from the flute follow, anuyAyi, the eyes with their heartwarming tunes. the smile of Krishna which is pure,anagha, and not kapata, deceitful, is compared to the coolness of the lotus.The lotuses, glances, are grown in the lake of anukampa, mercy,and contacting the Gopis make them vimohitha go inta a trance, forgetting themselves and their homes.

Desika describes the playing of the flute by krishna beautifully in Yadhavabhyudhaya.

nirankusasneharasaanuviddhaan nishpandhamandhaalasa nirnimeshaan
vamsenakrishnah prathisambabhaashe varthaaharaan vaamadhrsaan kataakshaan
( Yad.4-60)
The Gopis were talking to him with their beautiful glances,vaarthaaharaanvaamadrsaankataakshaan to which Krishna answered with his flute,vamsena krishnahprathisambabhaashe. They were described as smitten with the emotion of unrestricted love and were looking at him with unbatted eyelids.

 

adharaahitha chaaruvamsanaaLaah makutaalambhimayoorapicchamaalaah
harineelasilaavibhangaleelaah prathibhaah mamaanthimaprayaaNe santhu
( (Gopalavimsathi-12)

May the appearance of the flute applied to the lowerlips, of the garland of peacock feathers at his crown, of the lustre resembling that of sapphire blue always be in front of me when I start on my last journey.

Desika entreats the Lord to appear in front of him during his last journey with all His splendour , His flute on His lower lip, peacockfeather applied to his locks as a garland and His body shining loke a blue sapphire.

In Krishnakarnaamrtha Leela suka says,

Vyathyam sapaadham avathamsitha barhibarham
saacheekrthaanananivesithavenurandhram
thejahparam paramakaaruNikam purasthaath
praanaprayaanasamaye mamasannidhatthaam

With His feet crossed with peacock feather as his head ornament, His face turned sideways with the flute, let the supreme light , full of mercy,stand before me at the time of my life going out.

 

akhilaan avalokayaamikaalaan mahilaaDHeena bujaantharasya yoonah
abhlaashapadham vrajaanganaanaam abhilaapakramadhoormaabhimukhyam
(Gopalavimsathi-13)

I am seeing at all times the youth, whose chest was appropriated by Lakshmi and whose beauty is the longing of the Gopis and who is beyond expression.

Desika relates his experience of constant perception of the beauteous form of Krishna, the chest of whom is the abode of Lakshmi , his beauty is the most cherished object of love for the Gopis.His beauty is such tht it cannot be described by words, being beyond expression.

 

hrdhimugDha sikhandamandanah likhithah kena mamaisha silpinaa
madhanaathuravallavaanganaavadhanaambhoja dhivaakaro yuvaa.
(Gopalavimsathi-14)

By which artist has this form of the youth , who is like the sun for the lotuses of the faces of love-stricken Gopis and with beautiful head ornament of peacockfeathers, been painted on my heart.!

Desika after saying that he is constantly seeing Krishna ,here gives the reason for it. It has been chisselled in his heart by some wonderful sculptor or a painter , so that he is seeing the beautiful form of Krishna always present in his heart with his head crowned with peacock feathers. Desika describes the form of the Lord as the sun that makes the faces of the Gopis, who are full of love for him, blossom like lotuses.
By which artist has this form of the youth , who is like the sun for the lotuses of the faces of love-stricken Gopis and with beautiful head ornament of peacockfeathers, been painted on my heart.!

Desika after saying that he is constantly seeing Krishna ,here gives the reason for it. It has been chisselled in his heart by some wonderful sculptor or a painter , so that he is seeing the beautiful form of Krishna always present in his heart with his head crowned with peacock feathers. Desika describes the form of the Lord as the sun that makes the faces of the Gopis, who are full of love for him, blossom like lotuses.

 

MahasE mahithAya moulinA vinathEnAnjalimanjanathvishE
kalayAmi vimugDhavallavee valayAbhAshitha manjuvENavE (Gopalavimsati-15)

Here Desika desfribes the playing of the flute by Krishna.

I bow down to that venerarble great light of dark hue whose flute converses with the brcelets of the Gopis.

Krishna is playing the flute and his brilliance is that of dark hue like that of sapphire. The Gopis are making sound with their bracelets keeping time to the music and it looks as thought the flute is conversing with the bracelets. This idea is further elaborated inYadhavabhyudhaya by Desika, where he says ‘vamSEna krishnah prathisambabhAshE vArthAharAn vAmadhrSAm katAkshAn,’ Krishna seemed to reply to the message conveyed by the glances of the Gopis by means of his venunada, play of th flute. The music that flowed from the the flute of Krishna which is compared to the sound of the vedas elsewhere by Desika, was highly communicative to the heart of His devotees.

 

Jayathi lalithavrtthim sikshithO vallaveenAm
SiThilavalayaSinjASeethalairhasthathAlAih
akhilabhuvanarakshAvEshagOpasyaVishnOh
aDHaramaNisuDHAyAm amSavAn vENunAlah (gopalavimsati-16)
The flute at the gemlike lips of Krishna, the saviour of the whole world who has assumed the disguise of a cowherd, shine well being taught of the dance of lalithavrtthi by the loose bangles worn by the coolhands of the Gopis.

The music that flowed from the lips of Krishna tthrough the flute was so lilting that the svaras seem to perform the Lalithabhinaya, which quality is attributed to the influence of the hasthathalam .beating of the hands keeping time, as described in the previous sloka , sounding the bangles, whixh seem to teach the flute the gaits of the dance. That is, the music seems to follow the thala and not viceversa. The dance of the svaras that flow out of the flute was set to the thala of the sound of the bangles.This is just to show the bhakthavAthsalya of the Lord.

 

chithrAkalpahSravasikalayan lAngaleekarNapooram
barhOtthamsasphurithachikurO banDHujeevam dhaDHAnah
gunjAbaddhAm urasi lalithAm dhArayan hAra yashtim
gopasthreeNAm jayathi kithavah kopi koumArahAree
(Gopalavimsathi-17)

Coconut flowers adorn his ears,peacock feather flutters at his crown with hibiscus flowers and he is wearing the garlands made of bandhujeeva, the red seeds called kunrimani and thus he steals the heart of the young Gopis . He is the wonderful and delightful rogue!

 

leelAyashtim karakisalayE dhakshiNE nyastha DhanyAm
amsE dhEvyAh pulakaruchirEsannivishtAnyabahuh
mEghashyAmO jayathi lalithO mEkhalA dhatthavENuh
gunjApeedasphurithachikurO gOpakanyA bhujangah
(Gopalavimsathi-18)

He is holding his staff for sport which is fortunate( for being held by him) in his sproutlike right hand, the other arm is around Radha who is thrilled at his touch , his flute is held in his waist ornament and his head is adorned by the kunrimani garlands.The dark-hued Lord of the Gopis shine thus.

 

PrathyAleeDasThithim aDHigathAmprApthagADAngapAlim
paschAdheeshanmilithanayanAm prEyseem prEkshamANah
BhasthrAyanthrapraNihithakarah bhakthjeevAthuravyAth
vAreekreedAnibidavasanah vallaveevallabhO nah (Gpopalavimsati-19)

He will protect us who, is the lover of Gopis and the very life. force of His bhakthas. He is (seen here ) holding his dear one in a tight embrace from behind and looking at her , who has her right leg in front as if to go so that she could not escape, which made her close her eyes slightly with joy, and with the basthrAyanthra( the instrument used in sprinkling water during holi)in His hand, tying up His garment ready to play with water.

PrthyaleeDa is e pose opposite to that of shooting an arrow which is AleeDa, with left leg in front.The scene describes the festival of holi when Krishna plays with the Gopis.

There are two ways to mukthi, rasAsvadha, or experiencing the joy of union with the Lord and brahmajnana, through meditation or jnanamarga.The upanishad says, ‘rasO vaisah;rasam hOvAyamlabDhva Anandhee bhavathi.’ Brahman or Narayana is the rasa and attaining Him is the bliss. Rasa, Anandha and Brahman are synonymous terms.

The rasakreeda signifies the jivas enjoying the bliss with the Lord. The sages see the leela of the Lord in the world where all the jivas are around Him holding His hand.So the whole world is the Vrindavan and the leela of the Lord in creating sustaining and annihiating is the rasakreeda. RAsa is also termed as the collection of all the five vaishnava rasas, namely,dAsya, sakhya, vAtsalya,madhura and shantha.

To those who criticise the rasleela the answer would be that Krishna was only 10 when he was in Vrindavan and where does eroticism figure? Parikshit himself was ignorant on this aspect and asked Shuka how is it justified for one who incarnated for dharmasamsthapana to play with the wives of others. And Shuka replied,
gOpeenAm thathpatheenAm cha sarvEshAmEva dhEhinAm yO anthascharathi so aDHyakshah kreedanEna iha dhEhabhavah

The one who is the indweller of the Gopis and their husbands and all beings and the witness self, is now playing in physical form.

Srimadbhagavatha says,
rEmE ramESO vrajasundareebhih
yaTHA arbakah svaprathibimba vibhramah.

The Lord of Lakshmi enjoyed the company of the cowherd damsels as a child will revel in his own reflections.

The whole of Bhagavatha is considered to be the sarira of the Lord and the five adhyayas describing rasakreeda are the prANasThAna. It is bhakthyAh parA kAshTA na sringArasya . It is the height of devotion and not of physical desire.It is said in Bhagavatha that the husbands never felt the absence of their wives during the nights of rasakreeda because their yogasariras were with Krishna while their bhogasariras were at home doing their duty. As the Gopis saw only Krishna everywhere their love for their kith and kin only increased,and for the same reason it was reciprocated.

Vedantadesika in his yadhavabhyudhaya mentions that the brahmacharya of Krishna was not in any way affected,’na brhmachryam bibhidhE thadheeyam, and Appayyadikshita , a leading exponent of advaita, writing commentary on this work says that this is because everythng is His sarira and He was embracing His own sarira. He quotes the PAdhmOttharakAnda from PadmapuraNa where Lord Siva tells Parvathi, who raised the same question, that it is like ‘svasariraparishvanga’ embracing oneself.

The one who related the story is a parivrajaka brahmajnani and the one to whom it is told is Parikshit, paramabhagavtha and those who listened were rshis. All jivas are women and He alone is the Purusha.

 

vAso hrthvA dhinakarasuthA sanniDHou vallaveenAm
leelAsmErO jayathi lalithAm AsThithah kundhaSAkhAm
savreedAsthadhanu vasanE thAbhirabhyarThamAnE
kAmee kaschith karakamalayOh anjalim yAchamAnah
(Gopalavimsati-20)
The wonderful lover of all, wins (all hearts), he who robbed the Gopis of their clothes on the bank of Yamuna and ascended the graceful branch of the kundha tree and with a playful smile demanded that they should entreat Him with folded hands when they asked for their clothes bashfully.
This has reference to the Pavainonbu undertaken in the month of Margasira. Bhagavatham mentions it that the girls in Nanda’s village observed the vratha propitiating Devi kAthyaAyani for the welfare of all , individually for their union with the Lord.
hemanthe prathamE mAsi nandavraja kumArikah
chEruh havishyam bhunjAnAh kAthyAyanyarchanvratham

Desika describes thegopivashtrApaharaNathus:
niSAthyayE snAna samudhyathAnAm
nikshiptham AbheerakumArikANAm
koolAdhupAdhAya dhukoolajAlam
kundhADHirooDO mumudhE mukundhah

When the young cowherd girls went to the river yamuna in the early morning to take bath and left their garments made of white silk on the bank, Krishna took them from there and climbed the kundha tree with delight.

Utthamur swami comments on this sloka saying that first it waskoola dhukoola sangamamthe garments, dhukoola, had the contact with the bank and then there waskundhamukundha sangamam, the contact with the branch of the kundha tree and with Mukundha.The kooladhukoolasangamam denotes leaving the old vasanas and bathe in Krishnanubhava and the kundhamukundhasangamam implies mukthi as the word Mukundha means the one who gives mukthi,mukthim dhadhAthi ithi mukundhah, Kum, sin,dhyathi, destroys ithi kundhah. So kundha -mukundha sangamam means that the Lord destroys all the sin and gives moksha.

When they requested him to give back their garments he made them come out and pray to him with folded hands. This was to make them cast off their dhEhAthmabuddhi only when they become qualified for mukthi. The Lord has already willed to give them mukthi after their present life and only wantedto create the desire in them.He says in Gita ‘vAsAmsi jeerNAni yaTHA vihAya —thaTHA sarirANI vihAya jeerNAni anYANisamyAthi navAni dhEhee,just as one casts off the old clothes and put on new ones the soul casts off the old body and takes a new one.’ But until there is total surrender this changing of bodies will go on. When the soul surrenders the Lord gives a new awareness under the pretext of giving back their garments which have undergone change on account of kundhamukundha sambandha.This is the significance behind the episode of gopivasthrApahaharaNam

The last sloka of Gopalavimsati is where Desika gives the phalasruthi, the result of this work.

 

ithyananyamanasA vinirmithAm
vEnkatESakavinA sthuthim paTan
dhivyavENu rasikam sameekshathE
dhaivatham kimapi youvathapriyam
One who reads this sthothra, which has been composed by Venakatesakavi with unswerving mind, will have the darsan of the divine form of the wonderful Lord, who is loved by the Gopis, the rasikas of His divine flute.