Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Thirty One
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Thirty Three

Chapter Thirty-two
Mādhurya-rasa, Part Two 

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)

Vrajanātha after concluding his bhajana put his japa beads aside and retired for the night. Vijaya-kumāra had also lain himself upon his bed after finishing his evening prasādam, but he found sleep elusive. He had always been under the impression that Goloka was a separate place from Gokula, but today he had heard that Goloka and Gokula were non-different—therefore parakīya-rasa was also rooted in Goloka. However, one thought kept turning in his mind, “How does Kṛṣṇa accept the role of an upapati, a paramour? Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Truth, and Śaktimān Kṛṣṇa and His śakti are non-different. Even if śakti were to be separated from śaktimān, how could śakti be considered married to another gopa and Kṛṣṇa the upapati?”

Initially he thought, “I shall ask Śrīla Gurudeva about this conundrum tomorrow,” but then reflected, “Perhaps returning to this topic would be inappropriate; yet, this irksome perplexity is better dispelled.” Eventually Vijaya’s ponderings were assuaged by the gentle caress of sleep, but all at once, he found himself before his Gurudeva in a vivid dream submitting the very mystery that had so insistently beset his mind.

Vijaya heard the reply of his guru distinctly, “Dear son! Kṛṣṇa is fully independent in all His activities; His desires are unimpeded and absolute. His eternal desire is that His mādhurya should be fully revealed and predominate over His aiśvarya. Accordingly, He has given a separate identity to His divine parāśakti, who subsequently manifests countless millions of stunningly beautiful gopīs to serve Him eternally with tender loving care. However, Kṛṣṇa is not fully satisfied by service influenced by perception of His aiśvarya. So by exhibiting a fabulous aspect of His yoga-māyā-śakti He arranges for all the gopīs to adopt the abhimāna of being the wives of gopas in the idyllic village of Vraja-vṛndāvana. As a result, the gopīs live in their individual households, identifying with their status as the married women of Vraja. In concert with this abhimāna, Kṛṣṇa joyfully assumes relationship with the gopīs in the role of upapati.

“Out of lobha for relishing parakīyarasa, Kṛṣṇa is allured into transgressing His inner ātmārāmadharma of being infinitely self-satisfied. He engages in gorgeous pastimes such as the rāsa-līlā with His beloved gopī sweethearts who aptly consider themselves married to other gopas. His vaṁśī becomes His priya-sakhī to initiate these intimate pastimes of bliss. To facilitate Kṛṣṇa’s perfect enjoyment of parakīya-rasa, parakīya-bhāva is eternally displayed in Goloka, wherein innumerable sylvan bowers, such as Keli-vṛndāvana, remain eternally in pastoral splendour as sites for His amorous play. The site of the rāsa-līlā, the Yamunā River, Giri-Govardhana, and all the places of Kṛṣṇa’s Vraja-gokula pastimes are completely available in Goloka. In this way, parakīya-bhāva and svakīyabhāva are present in Goloka as elements to churn delightful rasa from the ocean of Kṛṣṇa’s most intimate pastimes. Actually, śuddha-svakīya-bhāva, the purest form of the conjugal mood, reigns resplendently in Vaikuṇṭha. Parakīyarasa is unique to Vraja Vṛndāvana, and though viewed as illicit from the mundane platform, in essence it is non-different from svakīyarasa, because the young gopīs are the eternal śakti of Kṛṣṇa. Ultimately, the vrajagopīs must be regarded as Kṛṣṇa’s eternal conjugal consorts, immersed in the moods of svakīyatva, conjugal faithfulness, and dāmpatya, conjugal love, towards Him beginninglessly.

Parakīyabhāva is sustained in Goloka by abhimāna, spiritual conception. In Vraja-Gokula, Abhimanyu and the other gopas are avatāras of their respective abhimāna in Goloka. In Vraja-Gokula these gopas take birth and become the husbands of the gopīs in order to foster the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, making Kṛṣṇa the upapati and essential nāyaka of vrajalīlā. Similarly, far beyond the reach of the external material nature, in the transcendental abode of Goloka, all the varieties of abhimāna fully nurture rasa. In Gokula, manifest within this material universe, the abhimānas of Goloka demonstrate their individual existence when Yogamāyā arranges for them to take birth. For the gopīs, this creates the experience of being married; however, in their eternal love for Kṛṣṇa, the vrajagopīs transgress the strictures of marriage, and thus parakīya-rasa is fully nurtured in Gokula. This is all the play of Yogamāyā.”

The doubts of Vijaya-kumāra dissipated as the dream faded away. His understanding that the transcendental abode of Goloka in the spiritual sky manifests as Gokula in the material world, became a firm conviction. The ecstatic revelation of his tādātmyasvarūpa, own individual spiritual identity, in vraja-rasa began to gather momentum within his heart, and so his meditations upon the eternal aṣṭakālīya-līlā of Vraja now turned deep and resolute. Early next morning he awoke feeling overwhelmed with the mercy that his guru had showered upon him. He considered, “Gurudeva has given unlimited mercy. Now I should hear directly from him about the different elements of rasa, and so attain niṣṭhā, steadiness, in bhajana.”

Completing his noon prasādam, Vijaya-kumāra arrived at the āśrama of his guru, falling at his feet in tears of ecstasy. Śrīla Gopāla-guru Gosvāmī slowly lifted him up and sat him down with loving care.

Śrīla Gosvāmī said, “Son, I see that Kṛṣṇa has blessed you—I feel blessed just by seeing you.” As he spoke, Śrīla Gosvāmī entered the throes of divine rapture, he embraced Vijaya and began to recite a song from PremaVivarta:

prasanna haiyā kṛṣṇa yāre kṛpa kare
sei jana dhanya ei saṁsāra bhitare

“‘When Kṛṣṇa is pleased with someone and showers His mercy divine, then blessed is that soul, light of the earth.’

golokera parama-bhāva tāra citte sphūre
gokule goloka pāya māyā paḍe dūre

“‘The most sublime bhāva of Goloka stirs in the depths of his heart, Goloka manifests in Gokula, and māyā recedes into some long forgotten past.’”

After he had sung for a long time, Śrīla Gopāla-guru Gosvāmī’s ecstasy gradually subsided and he became aware of his external surrounding. Vijaya-kumāra first offered repeated obeisances to his guru and then began to speak.

Vijaya, “Gurudeva, I have no comprehension of kṛṣṇa-kṛpā, the mercy of Kṛṣṇa; yet, I am firmly convinced that your mercy is the cause of all my spiritual progress. I have stopped trying to force myself to perceive Goloka, being now very satisfied to realize Vraja-Gokula. Now I wish to understand properly the varieties of vrajarasa. Kindly explain if the unmarried gopīs of Gokula, who maintained the mood that Kṛṣṇa would be their husband, may be called svakīya or not?”

Gosvāmī, “Yes, since they maintain the firm conviction that Kṛṣṇa will be their husband, these unmarried gopīs attain at that particular time svakīyabhāva. Intrinsically, however, the gokula-gopīs are connected to Kṛṣṇa in parakīyabhāva. In this particular case, although these unmarried gopīs are not ultimately of svakīya nature their svakīyabhāva is perfectly integrated into the Gokula pastimes, because their desired marriage to Kṛṣṇa is eventually fulfilled in secret by gandharva-vivāha-rīti, the Gandharva rite of marriage by the mutual exchange of garlands.”

Vijaya, “Gurudeva, I have numerous queries, and I wish to understand your answers in the light of the philosophy delineated in the Ujjvalanīlamaṇi. First, I would like to get a clear conception of nāyaka. The text of Ujjvalanīlamaṇi says that there are four types of nāyaka: anukūla, favourable; dakṣiṇa, guileless; śaṭha, duplicitous; and dhṛṣṭa, audacious. Kindly explain the anukūlanāyaka.”

Gosvāmī, “The nāyaka who is faithfully in love with just one consort without aspiring for further romantic liaisons is called anukūla, the favourable nāyaka. Śrī Rāma epitomizes this mood towards Sītā Devī, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa does so towards Śrīmatī Rādhā.”

Vijaya, “Earlier, you spoke of four kinds of nāyaka—dhīrodātta, dhīra-lalita, dhīra-śānta, and dhīroddhata—what is the relationship between these four types of nāyaka and the second set of four nāyakas we have just mentioned? What, for example, are the characteristics of the dhīrodātta-anukūlanāyaka?”

Gosvāmī, “A dhīrodātta-anukūla-nāyaka is grave, humble, forgiving, compassionate, fixed in his resolve, not boastful of himself, modest, and is very noble and generous. However, he is also quick to forsake all these qualities and run secretly to meet His nāyikā, sweetheart heroine.”

Vijaya, “Kindly describe the dhīra-lalita-anukūla-nāyaka.”

Gosvāmī, “The qualities of the dhīra-lalita-anukūla-nāyaka are brilliant wit, ever-youthful, a relisher of rasa, self-confident, and without anxiety. When these attributes are features of his character, combined with the constant enjoyment of pleasure, he is called a dhīra-lalita-anukūla-nāyaka.”

Vijaya, “What is the nature of the dhīra-śānta-anukūla-nāyaka?”

Gosvāmī, “His nature is peaceful, tolerant, considerate, and he is guided by his conscience.”

Vijaya, “And the dhīroddhata-anukūla-nāyaka?”

Gosvāmī, “When the personality of the dhīroddhata-nāyaka—which is marked by envy, pride, deceptiveness, anger, and self-praise—becomes favourable, he is known as the dhīroddhata-anukūla-nāyaka.”

Vijaya, “How may a nāyaka become dakṣiṇa?”

Gosvāmī, “The word dakṣiṇa means honest and guileless. A dakṣiṇā-nāyaka does not lessen his respect, fear and submissive love for his first nāyikā, even when he becomes romantically attached to another nāyikā. Therefore, He maintains relationships of equal depth with many nāyikās simultaneously and is called a dakṣiṇa-nāyaka.”

Vijaya, “What are the symptoms of the śaṭhanāyaka?”

Gosvāmī, “The nāyaka who is amiable and sweet in the presence of a nāyikā but vituperative and offensive behind her back is called śaṭha, two-faced.”

Vijaya, “What are the symptoms of a dhṛṣṭa-nāyaka?”

Gosvāmī, “A nāyaka who carries signs of intimacy with another nāyikā upon his body but boldly and glibly lies in the presence of the nāyikā who is presently with him is a dhṛṣṭa-nāyaka, audacious romantic Hero.”

Vijaya, “How many types of nāyakas are there altogether?”

Gosvāmī, “As far as we are concerned, Kṛṣṇa is the only nāyaka. In Dvārakā, He is pūrṇa, complete; in Mathurā, He is pūrṇatara, more complete; and in Vraja, He is pūrṇatama, most complete. Since Kṛṣṇa is both pati and upapati in the three grades of completeness, we reach six varieties of nāyakas. Then, we compound the four kinds of nāyakas, such as dhīrodātta, etc., with that previous six, making twenty-four varieties of nāyakas. And when this twenty-four is multiplied by the second set of four nāyakas, such as anukūla, dakṣiṇā, etc., we arrive at ninety-six types of nāyaka.”

“Now you should consider that there are twenty-four nāyakas in svakīya-rasa and twenty-four in parakīya-rasa. In His vrajalīlā pastimes, Kṛṣṇa’s svakīya-rasa is in a saṅkoca, withdrawn mood; however His parakīya-rasa is eternally displayed in Vraja by the twenty-four different Vraja nāyakas. Different nāyaka types are displayed as required for the great variety of pastimes, even just for short periods. However, all of them are distinctly recognizable.”

Vijaya, “Gurudeva, I am gradually discerning the unique characteristics of the different types of nāyaka, now I am keen to learn who are the sahāyas, assistants, of Kṛṣṇa as nāyaka.”

Gosvāmī, “The nāyaka has five categories of sahāya: ceṭa, confidential messenger; viṭa, attendant; vidūṣaka, humorist; pīṭhamardda, highly qualified friend; and priya-narma-sakhā, confidential friend. The sahāyas are all proficient in sweet and pleasing conversation; they possess deep anurāga, commitment, to Kṛṣṇa; they are excellent in judging time and circumstances; they are expert and versatile; they can charm the gopīs to pacify their anger; and they also offer intimate and confidential advice to the gopīs.”

Vijaya, “What are the characteristics of the ceṭa-sahāya?”

Gosvāmī, “The ceṭasahāya are good at spying and gathering information, accomplishing secret missions, and are fearless, bold, and intelligent. Bhaṅgura and Bhṛṅgara are the leading ceṭasahāya of Kṛṣṇa in Gokula.”

Vijaya, “What are the characteristics of the viṭasahāya?”

Gosvāmī, “The viṭasahāya are talented in dressing and ornamenting Kṛṣṇa, they are cunning, skilled in conversation, and know the mystical art of casting spells and making charms to bring others under control. Kaḍāra and Bhāratī-bandha are prominent viṭa-sahāya.”

Vijaya, “What are the characteristics of the vidūṣakasahāya?”

Gosvāmī, “Gormandizing, quarrelling, making humorous bodily caricatures, making quick witty retorts, and making other people laugh by dressing funnily are the qualities of Vasanta, Madhu-maṅgala, and the other vidūṣaka-sahāya of Kṛṣṇa.”

Vijaya, “What are the characteristics of the pīṭha-mardda-sahāya?”

Gosvāmī, “Almost as qualified as the nāyaka, Kṛṣṇa Himself, the only pīṭha-mardda-sahāya, Śrīdāmā, is still content to be Kṛṣṇa’s follower and constant companion.”

Vijaya, “What are the characteristics of the priya-narma-sakhā-sahāya?”

Gosvāmī, “The priya-narma-sakhā-sahāya, amongst whom Subala and Arjuna are prominent, share extremely confidential secrets and they emulate the bhāvas of the gopīs. Therefore, they are the best of Kṛṣṇa’s friends.

“Amongst these five, the ceṭa-sahāya are in dāsyarasa, the pīṭhamardda are in vīrarasa, and the other three sahāya are all in sakhya-rasa. Further, the ceṭa-sahāya are all in the category of Kṛṣṇa’s kiṇkara, servants; whereas the other four sahāya are His sakhās.”

Vijaya, “Are there no female sahāyā of Kṛṣṇa?”

Gosvāmī, “Yes, there are, and they are known as dūtīs, messengers.”

Vijaya, “Are there many kinds of dūtīs?”

Gosvāmī, “There are two varieties of dūtī: svayaṁdūtī, messengers of one’s own self; and āptadūtī, messengers on behalf of oneself. Katākṣa, the sidelong glance, and Vaṁśīdhvani, the flute sound and song, are svayaṁdūtīs.”

Vijaya, “Who are the āptadūtīs?”

Gosvāmī, “Kṛṣṇa’s āptadūtīs are Vīrā, who is a bold, even cheeky and artful speaker, and Vṛndā, who is an expert flatterer. The svayaṁdūtī and āptadūtī are asādhāraṇī, very special, personalities. Besides these special dūtīs, Kṛṣṇa has many sādhāraṇīdūtīs, ordinary female messengers, categorised as liṅginī, daivajñā, and śilpakāriṇī. They will be discussed later under the topic of nāyikās and dūtīs, when they will be more relevant.”

Vijaya, “Gurudeva, I am steadily comprehending Kṛṣṇa as nāyaka, His mood, characteristics, etc., also that His pastimes as pati and upapati are both eternal. As pati, He performs His pastimes in Dvārakā, and as upapati, He performs His pastimes in Vraja. As our beloved Kṛṣṇa is upapati, it is indispensable to my bhajana to learn something about the vrajaramaṇīs, the gopīs of Vraja.”

Gosvāmī, “Kṛṣṇa’s consorts in Vraja are all primarily in parakīyarasa, for without parakīya, mādhuryarasa cannot fully blossom to the highest pristine splendour. The mādhurya-rasa of the queens in Dvārakā is restricted because of the formal conjugal relationship; whereas, the vrajaramaṇīs are embellished with śuddha-kāma for Kṛṣṇa, making their mādhurya-rasa unbridled and fearless, and this gives the greatest pleasure to Kṛṣṇa.”

Vijaya, “What is the purport of this philosophy?”

Gosvāmī, “Rudra, Lord Śiva, the expert preceptor of śṛṅgārarasa, says that womanly traits such as vāmatā, contrariness, and dhurlabhatā, elusiveness, etc., create an aura around the beloved, making her appear most difficult to obtain. These painful difficulties of attaining the treasured maiden are the most devastating weapons of Kandarpa Kāmadeva—the arrows of love. Viṣṇu-gupta comments that when the impediments on the path to reach the coveted doe-eyed beloved are numerous, the heart of the gallant lover naturally becomes more deeply captivated by her.

“Kṛṣṇa is ātmārāma yet in the rāsalīlā He expands into as many Kṛṣṇas as there are gopīs and individually dances with each one of them. Every sādhaka must develop attachment and devotion to the rāsa-līlā. One piece of advice could be given: If the sādhaka desires his highest benefit, then he must enter this divine rāsalīlā pastime in a mood of devoted service and never even entertain the thought of acting like Kṛṣṇa. The purport is that one must develop gopībhāva by being humbly subservient to the gopīs—this is the only entrance to these pastimes.”

Vijaya, “Kindly explain gopībhāva.”

Gosvāmī, “Kṛṣṇa, son of Nanda Maharaja, is a gopa and His most exquisite partners in mādhurya-rasa are solely the gopīs. The sādhaka who is eligible to practise mādhuryaśṛṅgārarasa must perform kṛṣṇabhajana in the same manner as the gopīs. He must assume in his mind that he is a gopī in Vraja, a maidservant under the guidance of an immensely fortunate vrajavāsinī, female resident of Vraja. His only business should be to strictly execute her instructions and lovingly serve Śrī Rādhikā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He must conceive of himself as paroḍhā, a gopī married to a gopa, who always desires Kṛṣṇa’s association. Only then, he can evoke parakīya-rasa from within his heart. This paroḍhā-abhimāna is the innate dharma of the vrajagopīs. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in verse nineteen, Śrī Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Kṛṣṇa-vallabhā prakaraṇa:

na jātu vrajadevīnāṁ patibhiḥ saha saṅgamaḥ

“‘The vrajagopīs who maintain the abhimāna of being paroḍhā become wives of gopas after a contrived marriage has been arranged by Yogamāyā. However, they never consummate their marriages with their individual husbands. When these gopīs are away from their homes on a lover’s rendezvous with Kṛṣṇa, again Yogamāyā creates their exact replicas to be present in their houses. When the husband returns and sees his wife in the house, he considers, “My wife is certainly here at home.”

Thus, he can never develop envy towards Kṛṣṇa.’

“There is never an intimate conjugal relationship between the vrajagopīs and their so-called husbands. In truth, these contrived husbands are the avatāras in Vraja-Gokula of the paroḍhabhāva of the gopīs in Goloka. Their marriages are also māyikapratyaya, illusory notions; hence, there is no question of the vraja-gopīs being the wedded wives of these husbands, or in relationship to Kṛṣṇa another’s wife. Nevertheless, paroḍha-abhimāna is eternally present within the hearts of the vrajagopīs. Were this paroḍhaabhimāna absent, then the wondrous rasa engendered by the transgression of marriage vows, the impediments placed before the upapati, and the gopīsvāmatā, contrariness, and dhurlabhatā, elusiveness, would never be natural and spontaneous. Therefore, to attain the bhāva of a nāyikā in vrajarasa, that one should cultivate paroḍha-abhimāna is indispensable. Śrī Lakṣmī Devī in Vaikuṇṭha is an example of someone who cannot enter parakīya-rasa since she does not cultivate paroḍhaabhimāna.”

Vijaya, “What is the process of cultivating paroḍhaabhimāna?”

Gosvāmī, “One must meditate, thinking, ‘I have taken birth in the home of a gopa in Vraja and when I reached the proper age I was given in marriage to a youthful gopa.” When such meditation intensifies, then the desire to attain Kṛṣṇa’s intimate companionship gains momentum. In this way, one assumes the mood of a gopī yearning for Kṛṣṇa in an unconsummated marriage. This is the cultivation of gopībhāva.”

Vijaya, “How is it possible for a male sādhaka to assume gopībhāva?”

Gosvāmī, “The jīva thinks of himself or herself as male or female only by the influence of the māyāśakti. In the realm of spiritual nature, except for Kṛṣṇa’s eternal male associates, the inherent spiritual nature of all jīvas is female. In the transcendental nature, the material features that distinguish the different sexes of this world do not exist. Any jīva can acquire the right to become a vrajavāsinī when impelled by his innate svabhāva and the resolute cultivation of the pertinent abhimāna. Only those who possess such an unwavering desire for mādhurya-rasa are eligible to become vrajavāsinīs. When a person’s sādhana complements his ruci, he attains perfection accordingly.”

Vijaya, “How would you describe the glorious position of a paroḍhagopī?”

Gosvāmī, “When the paroḍha-vraja-gopī intensely desires to enjoy with Kṛṣṇa, her natural beauty and glorious excellences combine with the unfathomable loveliness of prema to make her a radiant, enchanting beauty in the eyes of her beloved. The paroḍha-vraja-gopī experiences a greater level of relish in rasa than that of all the śaktis of Bhagavān, headed by Śrī Lakṣmī Devī.”

Vijaya, “How many varieties of vraja-sundarī are there?”

Gosvāmī, “They are of three kinds: sādhana-parā, gopīs by sādhana; Devī, gopīs previously Devīs; and nitya-priyā, eternally dear gopīs.”

Vijaya, “Are there varieties of sādhana-parā gopīs?”

Gosvāmī, “Yes, the sādhana-para-gopīs are of two types: yauthikī, linked in yūthas, groups; and ayauthikī, not linked in groups.”

Vijaya, “Who are the yauthikī?”

Gosvāmī, “The yauthikī take birth in Vraja in groups having been immersed in the sādhana of vrajarasa. The yauthikī are further subdivided as munigaṇa and upaniṣadgaṇa.”

Vijaya, “Which munis took birth in Vraja?

Gosvāmī, “The munis who were worshiping Gopāla but could not at that time attain perfection gained great impetus in their sādhana by seeing the beauty of Śrī Rāmacandra in Tretā-yuga. After then accomplishing their sādhana in gopībhāva, they were born as gopīs in Vraja. This is substantiated in the Padma Purāṇa. The Bṛhad-vāmana Purāṇa states that some of these munis attained final spiritual perfection at the beginning of the rāsalīlā.”

Vijaya, “How did the Upaniṣads attain the status of being born as gopīs in Vraja?”

Gosvāmī, “Endowed with very subtle and fine spiritual perceptions, the highly elevated personifications of the Upaniṣads were astounded by the good fortune of the gopīs. By meditating deeply and worshiping the gopīs with profound devotion, they were finally born in Vraja as gopīs.”

Vijaya, “Who are the ayauthikī-sādhana-parā-gopīs?”

Gosvāmī, “The ayauthikī are extremely attracted to gopībhāva, and eagerly channel this natural ruci into their sādhana with deep anurāga, attachment. They are of two types: prācīnā, established; and navīnā, new. They take birth in Vraja, either alone, in pairs, or in threes. The prācīnā-ayauthikī-gopīs have attained sālokya with the nitya-priyā-gopīs a long time ago. The navīnā-ayauthikī-gopīs are taking their initial births as gopīs in Vraja through the species of Devas, humans, and other suitable beings. Gradually, they are converted from navīnā to prācīnā and attain sālokya, as I have described earlier.”

Vijaya, “I can grasp this description of the sādhana-para-gopīs, now kindly explain who are the Devīs?”

Gosvāmī, “When the aṁśa, partial expansion, of Kṛṣṇa incarnates in Svarga as a Deva, the nityapriyāgopīs also appear there in their aṁśas as Devīs to please Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa appears in Vraja-gokula, in His pūrṇarūpa, full expansion, then these Devīs also take birth in Gokula as the young gopīs known as the prāṇasakhīs. The prāṇasakhīs engage as assistants of the nitya-priyā-gopīs who are the aṁśanīs, fountainhead sources, from whom these Devīs originally emanated as aṁśas for service to Kṛṣṇa in His forms as particular Devas in Svarga.”

Vijaya, “At what times does Kṛṣṇa accept an aṁśa expansion in Svarga?”

Gosvāmī, “Kṛṣṇa’s svāṁśarūpa, direct partial expansion, is Śrī Vāmana, the son of Aditi, and His vibhinnāṁśas, separated partial expansions, appear as the Devas. Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā were not conceived in a mother’s womb, and although they are not on the level of the ordinary jīvas, who are endowed with meagre quantities of the first fifty qualities of Kṛṣṇa, still both Śiva and Brahmā are vibhinnāṁśas. Since, they possess the fifty qualities to a high degree, plus, in limited quantity, five additional qualities that are not normally found in ordinary jīvas, they are considered the chief Devas. Gaṇeśa and Sūrya hold similarly high positions in the material cosmos and are worshiped with respect equal to that given to Śiva and Brahmā, but all the other Devas actually belong to the jīvatattva category. Thus, all the Devas are the vibhinnāṁśas of Kṛṣṇa and their Devī wives are vibhinnāṁśa expansions of the cit-śakti of the Lord. Prior to the appearance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Brahmā instructs these Devīs to take birth in order to please the Lord. They then appear either in Vraja or in Dvārakā, according to their individual ruci and sādhana. The devīs who take birth as vrajagopīs do so because of their intense innate desire to attain Kṛṣṇa, and they become the prāṇasakhīs, assistants to the nityapriyāgopīs who are ultimately their source.”

Vijaya, “The Upaniṣads took birth as gopīs in Vraja. Did any other presiding devīs of Vedic śāstra appear in Vraja?”

Gosvāmī, “The sṛṣṭikhaṇḍa of the Padma Purāṇa states that Veda-mātā Gāyatrī Devī, the mother of the Vedas, was born in Vraja as a gopī and attained the association of Kṛṣṇa, at which point she acquired the form of kāmagāyatrī.”

Vijaya, “Yet, is it not true that kāmagāyatrī is anādi, beginningless?”

Gosvāmī, “Kāma-gāyatrī is certainly anādi. However, within the material universe, there is a time when she first manifested as Veda-mātā Gāyatrī Devī. Later in her līlā, inspired by the good fortune of the many Upaniṣads, she performed sādhana on the strength of which she took birth in Vraja along with Gopāla Upaniṣad. As kāmagāyatrī she is eternal; simultaneously, she is eternally existent as Gāyatrī Devī in a separate but eternal identity.”

Vijaya, “The personified Upaniṣads and other great devotees obtained the rare birth as gopīs in Vraja. Having acquired the gopīabhimāna, they accepted Kṛṣṇa as their pati and gopanāyaka. In fact, Kṛṣṇa became their husband by the mutual exchange of nuptial vows according to the Gandharva marriage rites. This I have understood. However, the nitya-priyā-gopīs are the consorts of Kṛṣṇa from a time without beginning, so is their love for Kṛṣṇa as an upapati constructed by the māyāśakti?”

Gosvāmī, “Yes, the upapati relationship is conceived by the influence of māyā, but not the mundane jaḍamāyā. Mahā-māyā of the material world cannot even slightly touch kṛṣṇalīlā. Although vrajalīlā is performed within this material world, vrajalīlā is nevertheless completely transcendental to the illusory material jaḍamāyā. Another definition of citśakti is Yogamāyā and in kṛṣṇalīlā, she creates a very special effect, enveloping the līlā and colouring the eyes of the mundane observers so that they see the pastimes from a very external point of view, completely different from their actual transcendental quality.

“When the nitya-priyā-gopīs descend from Goloka to Vraja, Yogamāyā accompanies them, bringing with her the paroḍhaabhimāna of Goloka. She establishes every paroḍhaabhimāna as an individual personality, for example, Abhimanyu in Vraja. Then, she arranges marriages of the nitya-priyā-gopīs with their own individual personified abhimāna, thus installing Kṛṣṇa as their upapati. The omniscient puruṣa Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His omniscient śaktis, totally absorbed in rasa, voluntarily acquiesce their sublime status and happily accept these pastime roles arranged by Yogamāyā. This underlines the pre-eminent position of rasa and the excellence of the icchāśakti in fulfilling the desires of the supremely independent Lord.

“Both Vaikuṇṭha and Dvārakā are deprived of such intensity of rasa, līlā, and so on. When the prāṇasakhīs gain sālokya in Vraja with their mistresses, the nitya-priyā-gopīs, their previous constrained patibhāva relationship with Kṛṣṇa in Svargaloka expands into the full-fledged upapati relationship. This is the ultimate fulfilment.”

Vijaya, “What an extraordinary spiritual perception! I am truly overwhelmed with joy. Kindly instruct me about the nitya-priyā-gopīs.”

Gosvāmī, “Would Śrī Gauracandra permit me to speak such esoteric realizations to you if you were not an eligible candidate? Just mark how the greatest of preceptors sarva-jñā Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has kept this subject matter extremely confidential, revealing and elaborating these truths only rarely within his commentaries and compositions such as the Kṛṣṇasandarbha. He was always apprehensive that unauthorized and non-eligible persons would pervert the meaning of these arcane topics and seek authorization therein for their practice of aberration.

“Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī was deeply concerned about the degenerate activities—such as rasābhāsa, incompatible mellows, and rasavikṛti, distorted mellows—that nowadays we see committed by bogus Vaiṣṇavas in the name of bhakti. Although he was exceedingly cautious, such damage could not be totally prevented, so you must be very careful not to disclose this philosophy to the undeserving. Let us turn back to the subject of the nitya-priyā-gopīs.”

Vijaya, “Who are the nitya-priya-gopīs? Although I have studied many scriptures in the past, I wish to learn everything from the sacred lips of my śikṣāguru whose elucidations are so nectarean.”

Gosvāmī, “Śrīmatī Rādhā and Śrīmatī Candrāvalī are the foremost of the nitya-priyā-gopīs in Vraja, and like Kṛṣṇa they are enchanting repositories of divine attributes such as exquisite beauty, versatility, and rasa. They are mentioned in the BrahmaSaṁhitā, 5.37:

tābhir ya eva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ
goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūto
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi

“‘I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, residing in His own abode, Goloka, with Rādhā, resembling His own spiritual figure, the embodiment of the hlādinīśakti possessed of the sixty-four transcendental arts in the company of Her confidantes, who are the embodied extensions of Her bodily form, permeated and vitalized by His ever-blissful spiritual rasa.’

“The BrahmaSaṁhitā is considered to contain the essence of the Vedas and within it Lord Brahmā cursorily mentions the nitya-priyā-gopīs. From the statement of Lord Brahmā it is clear that the nityapriyāgopīs are eternal, transcendental to material nature, and are manifestations of the spiritual potency. The sixty-four supramundane activities and arts are a part of their eternal pastimes. The commentaries of other ācāryas upon this verse …kalābhiḥ svāṁśa-rūpābhiḥ śaktibhiḥ… may give other interpretations, but I have adhered to the purport given by Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, which is very profound and reflects the deep insights of Śrīla Rūpa, Śrīla Sanātana, and Śrīla Jīva.”

Vijaya, “My ears want to hear the nectarean names of the nitya-priyā gopīs.”

Gosvāmī, “Scriptures like the Skanda Purāṇa and the Prahlādasaṁhitā mention names, such as Rādhā, Candrāvalī, Viśākhā, Lalitā, Śyāmā, Padmā, Śaibyā, Bhadrikā, Tārā, Vicitrā, Gopālī, Dhaniṣṭhā and Pālī.

“Candrāvalī is also known as Somātā. Śrīmatī Rādhikā is also known as Gāndharvā. Other illustrious vraja-gopīs are Khañjanākṣī, Manoramā, Maṅgalā, Vimalā, Līlā, Kṛṣṇā, Śārī, Viśāradā, Tārāvalī, Cakorākṣī, Śaṅkarī, and Kuṁkumā.”

Vijaya, “How are they related to each other?”

Gosvāmī, “The nitya-priyā gopīs are usually yūtheśvarīs, group leaders. There are hundreds of yūthas and every yūtha has millions of beautiful and qualified gopīs. All the aforementioned gopīs from Śrīmatī Rādhikā to Kuṁkumā are yūtheśvarīs. In the śāstra, the roles of Viśākhā, Lalitā, Padmā, and Śaibyā have been more elaborately portrayed than that of the other gopīs. Amongst these yūtheśvarīs, eight gopīs, headed by Śrīmatī Rādhikā, have been designated as pradhāna, most prominent and fortunate.”

Vijaya, “Viśākhā, Lalitā, Padmā, and Śaibyā are some of the leading gopīs, proficient in enhancing Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure in līlā. Why have they not been unequivocally designated as distinct yūtheśvarīs?”

Gosvāmī, “They are so highly accomplished that they are certainly worthy of being yūtheśvarīs. However, Lalitā and Viśākhā are so enchanted by Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s mood of infinite loving ecstasy that they refuse the status of being yūtheśvarīs independent of Śrī Rādhā. Amongst the yūtheśvarīs, some are obedient to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and others to Śrīmatī Candrāvalī. This has been ascertained by the scriptures.”

Vijaya, “I have read that Lalitā has her own gaṇa, sub-group of associates, could you elucidate this matter?”

Gosvāmī, “Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the yūtheśvarī par excellence. Some of the gopīs from within her yūtha are especially attracted to the special unique bhāva of Śrī Lalitā Devī, and so they call themselves lalitā-gaṇa, followers of Lalitā. In a similar way, Viśākhā Devī has her viśākhāgaṇa, followers of Viśākhā. In this way, the aṣṭasakhīgopīs, headed by Lalitā and Viśākhā, are the leaders of particular gaṇas, sub-groups, within the greater yūtha of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Only by immense good fortune can one become a member of Śrī Lalitā’s gaṇa.”

Vijaya, “Which scriptures contain the names of these gopīs?”

Gosvāmī, “Their names are mentioned in various śāstras such as the Padma Purāṇa, the Skanda Purāṇa, the Uttara-khaṇḍa of the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, as well as the sātvata-vaiṣṇava-tantra śāstras.”

Vijaya, “The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is certainly the crest jewel of all the scriptures; if these glorious names were mentioned there, that would be a matter of endless joy.”

Gosvāmī, “The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam illumines tattva, the highest philosophical truth, and, simultaneously, the unlimited ocean of nectarean rasa. The rasikābhaktas, expert in tasting rasa, verify that the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam supports all the variances of rasatattva. The name of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, the identities of the gopīs and their devotional moods have been revealed within the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in an extremely cryptic manner. If one scrutinizes the verses of the Tenth Canto in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, everything is revealed there, though Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī has purposely camouflaged these confidential topics to keep the unauthorized materialists at bay.

“My dear Vijaya, what good result will come of giving a neophyte a japamālā and then explicit instructions in the most esoteric truths? Actually, the more spiritually advanced a person becomes, the better he will understand the more profound precepts. A real paṇḍita is able to present confidential spiritual concepts cryptically so that they are revealed to the qualified, but hidden from the unqualified. And thus, the hearer’s understanding of the subject will be proportionate to his advancement in the subject. Most importantly, the highly esoteric spiritual precepts cannot be grasped without the help of a bona fide guru in śrī-guru-paramparā, the line of authorized disciplic succession. And without this connection, should anyone hear or study these subjects, his attempt at knowledge will be impotent and bear no fruit. Study Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi thoroughly and you will be able to detect all the rasas in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.”

At this point, after the many questions and answers, the day’s iṣṭagoṣṭhi ended, and Vijaya left to walk slowly towards his quarters in Haracaṇḍi Sāhi. Along the way, he became immersed in the various rasas of the nāyaka-nāyikā-tattva that are displayed in the spiritual realm. Sometimes, while considering the vidūṣaka and pīṭhamardda companions of Kṛṣṇa, the same bhāvas overwhelmed him, filling him with great exultation. At other times, thinking of Vāṁśī, Kṛṣṇa’s svayam-dūtī, incessant tears streamed down his face. The sublime bhāvas of Vraja, now visible upon the horizon of Vijaya’s heart, were becoming more and more vibrant. Once again, the ecstatic vision he had had the previous night in the sylvan woods on his way to Sundarācala flashed intensely upon his heart.

Thus ends the thirty-second chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled:
Mādhurya-rasa, Part Two

Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Thirty One
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Thirty Three

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