Found in Sanga, Sanga 2004.

Rasika Darsana

April 3rd, 2004 | No Comments

Q. We commonly hear that all the gurus in the line of Sri Rupa Goswami (the Gaudiya sampradaya) are in a type of conjugal love with Krishna known as manjari bhava. However some devotees point to the following prayer written by Srila Prabhupada as evidence that his spiritual identity in Krishna lila was that of a cowherd boy in sakhya bhava (friendly love). What are your thoughts on this?

“O my dear brother! Meeting you again I will experience great joy. Wandering about the pastures and fields, I will pass the entire day with you tending the cows. Joking with you and frolicking throughout so many forests of Vraja, I will roll upon the ground in spiritual ecstasy. When, oh when will that day be mine?” (Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krishna)

A. Most of the gurus and siddhas in our sampradaya have an affinity for manjari bhava, but there are some exceptions. Siddhas such as Vamsidasa babaji and Srila Prabhupada’s godbrother, Akincana Krishnadasa babaji are examples. The diksa guru of Syamananda dasa, Hrdaya Caitanya, was in sakhya rasa. Indeed, the Gaudiya sampradaya began when the dvadasa gopalas (twelve cowherd friends of Krishna) appeared with Nitai and Gaura and began initiating disciples. So there is no prohibition in the Gaudiya sampradaya against having a guru in sakhya rasa, and if you have a sat guru who is situated in sakhya rasa, it is not a problem.

On numerous occasions my Guru Maharaja expressed an affinity for sakhya rasa, and in my experience many of his disciples have an undeveloped but natural attraction for this spiritual sentiment. Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami considered him to be in sakhya-rati. However, to harmonize the sentiments of some of his disciples, Srila Sridhara Maharaja also said it is possible that Srila Prabhupada veiled his sentiments for manjari bhava out of deference to Nityananda Prabhu, who empowered him to preach, and while under the influence of Nityananda Prabhu expressed sentiments for sakhya bhava. Such a possibility exists, although it seems unlikely because almost the entire Nityananda parivara openly express affinity for manjari bhava.

See also:
Highest Rasa: Fools Rush In

Q. According to Rupa Gosvami, sakhya-rati is presided over by Upendra. Can you offer an explanation of this?

A. Upendra is another name for Govinda. Upendra means either one who comes after Indra, as in the case of Vamanadeva who appears as Indra’s younger brother, or one who is above Indra, as in the case of Govinda. It was Indra, chief of the gods, who crowned Krishna as the Lord of the gods and, in conjunction with Surabhi and the other gods present, gave him the name Govinda. In Sri Hari Vamsa (2.19.46) and Visnu Purana (5.12.12), Indra gives Krishna the name Upendra at the end of the Govardhana lila. In Sri Hari Vamsa, Indra says, sa mamopari yathendras tvam sthapito gobhir isvarah, upendra iti krishna tvam gasyanti divi devatah: “O Krishna, because the cows have established you as the Indra above me, the supreme controller, the devas in heaven will call you Upendra.” In the same lila described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Surabhi under Indra’s direction names Krishna “Govinda” instead of Upendra. Govinda means he who gives pleasure to or is known by the cows, or he who is the Lord of the cows. The cows are said to be the source of the gods—gobhyo devah samutthitah. Thus the name Govinda—Lord of the cows—is synonymous with the name Upendra—he who is above Indra. So it is this Upendra—Govinda—not the Upendra who is the younger brother of Indra, that is the personification of sakhya rati. Furthermore, in Gopala-tapani Upanisad it is revealed that the name Govinda in the eighteen-syllable Krishna mantra is identified with sakhya-rati. He who gives pleasure to the cows, Sri Govinda, does so in his eternal lila by taking them into the forest along with his comrades, all of whom love him as their dearest friend. This lila and this name and form of God are all about sakhya-rati.

Q. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s principal associate Sri Nityananda Prabhu is known as akrodha paramananda nityananda-raya, which means that he is always joyful in transcendental bliss and never becomes angry. However it is narrated in the book Nityananda-caritamrta that Nityananda Prabhu visited a Buddhist monastery and found the Buddhists all sitting together. The Lord then asked a question and when no one replied he became angry and kicked the Buddhists in the head. I find this quite confusing. Why did such an uncharacteristic display of anger come from Nityananda Prabhu?

A. The text you mention is originally from Caitanya Bhagavata (1.9.145). It goes on to say that the Buddhists smiled in return, paldila bauddha-gana hasiya hasiya. So Nityananda Prabhu somehow made them happy. This is his principal characteristic. Therefore Locana dasa prays to him thus, ha ha prabhu nityananda premananda sukhi, krpabalokana koro ami baro duhkhi: “My dear Lord Nityananda, you are always joyful in spiritual bliss. Since you always appear very happy, I have come to you because I am most unhappy. If you kindly cast your glance upon me, I may also become happy.” It appears that the followers of Nityananda Prabhu often speak of kicking in the head people who do not take advantage of Mahaprabhu’s mercy. This is a peculiar expression of their particular bhava (sakhya bhava/fraternal love), in which the eagerness for heroism and a good fight that is prominent in sakhya bhava is transformed into an expression of religious heroism in Caitanya lila. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura said that this is an example of their special mercy, for it immediately draws Krishna’s sympathy to those whom they insult.

However, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has cautioned that while great devotees may sometimes speak like this out of bhava, less advanced devotees should not imitate them.

Q. Souls emanating from Balarama are said to be replete with knowledge (nitya siddha), while those emanating from Maha-Visnu are lacking in knowledge (nitya-baddha). Is this due to Balarama being a greater manifestation of Krishna?

A. There are different types of souls. Souls emanating from Maha-Visnu are called tatastha-sakti (marginal energy); these souls can lose sight of themselves and become inhabitants of the material world. They are part of the Lord’s play known as srsti lila, the lila of creation. Souls emanating from Baladeva, Sri Radha, Subala, and so on are never subject to material illusion. They are not involved with the material energy because their source is not involved, as is Maha-Visnu in the case of the nitya-baddha jivas.

Q. Some saints in Krishna lila or Caitanya lila are described as combinations of different personalities; for example, Ramananda Raya, the associate of Sri Chaitanya, is said to be Arjuna and Visaka sakhi simultaneously. How are we to understand this and which Arjuna is being referred to, the cowherd friend of Krishna in Vraja lila or the warrior friend of Krishna of Bhagavad-gita fame?

A. Eternal associates (nitya parsada) of Krishna like Ramananda Raya are constituted of Krishna’s svarupa-sakti, unlike the jiva souls in the material world who are constituted of his tatastha-sakti. Nitya parsada souls often appear with the Lord in his various incarnations in appropriate forms or in more than one form. For that matter when the jiva comes under the influence of Krishna’s svarupa-sakti, it can realize more than one spiritual form in which to serve Krishna. For example, it is taught in the Gaudiya tradition that the jiva can attain a form as a young brahmana boy in Gaura lila and a corresponding form as a gopi or gopa in Krishna lila.

Sri Jiva Goswami cites a passage from the Candogya Upanisad in his Priti-sandarbha in this regard, interpreting it in an interesting way. Sri Jiva says, “By his own will a liberated soul can manifest many different forms. This is described in these words of Candogya Upanisad (7.26.2): sa ekadha bhavati, dvidha bhavati, tridha bhavati: ‘The liberated soul may manifest one form, two forms, three forms, or more forms than that.’ “

He cites this passage while speaking about the highest liberation, as described in the preceding chapter of the same Upanisad. Sri Jiva says, “The highest state of liberation is described in these words of Candogya Upanisad (7.25.2): sa va evam pasyann evam manvana evam vijanann atma-ratir atma-krida atma-mithuna, ‘In this way the liberated soul sees God, thinks of him, understands him, delights in him, and enjoys pastimes with him.’ “ Candogya 7.26.2 cited above is referring to spiritual forms and the potential of the liberated to have more than one such form for the sake of lila with Bhagavan.

Regarding Ramananda Raya in particular, various devotees have identified him differently. Kavi Karnapura identified him with the gopi Lalita and the Pandava Arjuna based upon the Ramananda-samvada’s being roughly analogous to the Bhagavad-gita. He also identifies him as the priyanarma sakha Arjuna of Vraja-lila based on his pacifying Sri Caitanya when he assumed the bhava of Krishna in separation from Radha. Priyanarma sakhas are confidential friends of Krishna who are involved in service within the romantic life of Radha-Krishna.

Others such as Bhaktivinoda Thakura have identified Ramananda Raya with Visakha gopi based on Visakha’s being so similar to Radha, having been born on the same day, and so on. Because of this similarity, she (as Ramananda Raya) is eminently qualified to help Caitanya Mahaprabhu enter Radha’s bhava. Such is the rasika darsana (visionary ecstasy) of different devotees, and such is the potential of the nitya parsadas of Sri Krishna.

See also:
The Dearmost Friend of Krishna

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