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Radhastami 2016

October 1st, 2016 | 8 Comments

By Swami B. V. Tripurari

Radhastami has come and passed. I spent it at Audarya; the festivities were well attended. We discussed the Puranic evolution of Sukadeva over lifetimes that resulted in his role as the principle speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam and his dilemma at the climax of the text with regard to uttering the name of Radha, the transcendental parakiya heroine. In rasa-sastra a paramour lover cannot be the shelter or asraya-alambana of srngara-rasa, romantic love. Thus, such a heroine’s name should not be mentioned. The reason for this is that she typically plays a fleeting temporal and immoral role in the drama. But the Bhagavata is not an ordinary rasa-sastra, it is saturated with transcendental bhakti-rasa, and Radha’s role is not fleeting and is supra moral. She is mahabhava-svarupini, the form of the highest ecstasy that gives the greatest pleasure to Krsna, and the extent to which Krsna is pleased is the extent to which dharma is achieved, samsiddhir hari tosanam. She is also central to the entire text, as is parakiya-bhava.  Should her name be mentioned? Sukadeva had to navigate this course as the lila manifested play by play within his heart. He opted for the grey area, saying and not saying her name—aradhana, the best worshipper.

In Sukadeva’s heart Rupa-manjari spoke these words—anayaradhito nunam bhagavan harir isvarah. She knew what the footprints of Radha looked like because she worshiped her lotus feet. At this point in the Bhagavatam we are awestruck by Radha’s seva and driven to acknowledge her as our Deity and ideal of devotion. To be her kinkara/kinkari, that is Gaudiya Vaisnavism. While we may idealize a friendly relationship with Krsna, his closest friends and Radha’s maidservants see her in a different light. Krnsa’s sakhas like Subala, Ujjvala, and Madhumangala are her kinkaras, and Raghunatha das as Rati-manjari dismisses the idea of being her friend like Lalita, Visakha, and their priya-sakhis, giving preference to Radha dasyam. This to me is a sobering point. When Gaura appeared to Nitai as Radha during the Puri Ratha-yatra, the Avadhuta bowed down at a distance. I bow down to him.

Following Radhastami I was ushered off to Los Angeles—the City of Angels—to discuss the Gita with yoga students graduating from a teacher-training course that included the study of my commentary on the text. The Dharma Yoga Center was focused on reaching out to the underserved sector of the city, something that I deeply appreciated. By Sri Nityananda’s grace I was able to bring the audience into the heart of the text, from having, to knowing, to loving—to Radha.

At the moment I am back at Audarya preparing to depart for Saragrahi. I have moved my bed into the narrow windowed section of my upstairs room and it affords me quite a gaze at the stars above on the many clear nights of northern California this time of year. So much aisvarya—innumerable bright stars on a background of dark, mysterious space. What does it all mean? Where does it lead to? Somehow the stars appear knowable, the space remaining mysterious and known only to some extent through the starry light. And so it goes from a moment of aisvarya to madhurya, as the starry night turns to Radha and Krsna, all questions answered. Rest in peace—and love.

 

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Comments

8 Responses

  • Aradhana

    10.01.2016

    Beautifully moving as always, Gurudeva.

  • I really like those first couple of paragraphs. What a nice way to start the day! Thank you once again for sharing your heart like this.

  • As always, thanks for sharing, Guru Maharaja. By the way, nice setup!

  • Thank you Guru Maharaja. It is indeed nice way to start the day! I hope to visit your Audarya one day.

  • What a beautiful Rādhāstami festival! I will remember it always. Thank you Guru Maharaja for all that you are.

    Your affectionate servant,
    Madhava Dasa
    Jaya Sri Rādhe!

  • As one advances in one’s practice the entire natural world becomes and uddipana for rasa and the literal details of the lila descriptions are understood more as tools for meditation rather than inflexible literal/physical truths. Thus the Deity lies not only within but also without—everywhere/universal.

    This is also one explanation for the differing details in the lila descriptions in the Goswamis’ works, which are considerable. The details seek to bring out the rasa and are subordinate to it.

  • These regular views of the inner life are truly relishable. What the world must look like when the seemingly common becomes a stimulus to remember our dearest friend.

  • Dear Guru-Maharaja,
    In your description of the starry night turning into Radha and Krishna, do you mean that Radharani is like the illuminating stars by which we can know something about the dark space which is like Krishna?
    And that the aisvarya of Godhead should lead us to his madhurya (sweetness)?
    Thanks.

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