prabhu kahe,—“eho uttama, āge kaha āra”
Śrīman Mahāprabhu said, “This vātsalya-prema is the topmost, but please speak something more.” Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Kāntā–prema is the essence of all perfection.
Kāntā-prema – one thinks of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as one’s beloved. In other words, considering herself to be His sweetheart to be enjoyed by Him, she abandons her own happiness. Even the desire to meet and be with Śrī Kṛṣṇa is only for His happiness. Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says that vātsalya–prema can be accepted as topmost, but superior still is one more rasa, which is said to be the essence of all perfection. This kāntā–bhāva (the mood of a ladylove) is indeed the supermost level of prema. In ordinary prema (śānta–prema) there is an absence of a sense of possessiveness (mamatā), in dāsya–rasa there is an absence of intimacy and confidence (viśrambha and viśvāsa), in sakhya-rasa there is an absence of overflowing affection, and in vātsalya–rasa there is an absence of freedom from shyness or hesitancy. Because there is an assortment of shortcomings in all these rasas, the prema in these respective rasas cannot be said to have reached completeness. When kāntā–bhāva for Śrī Kṛṣṇa awakens in the heart, then these shortcomings disappear totally. In other words all that is lacking becomes fulfilled, and the wellspring of the entire prema–tattva begins to flow continuously; thus it is the essence of the topmost goal.
Śrīla Sarasvatī Prabhupāda says that vātsalya–prema is superior to sakhya–prema, yet Mahāprabhu desires to hear still more. Therefore, Rāmānanda Rāya explains Mahāprabhu’s desired intention by explaining that the essence of all perfection is kāntā–bhāva. Actually, the real meaning of kāntā–bhāva is the extramarital mood (parakīyā–bhāva) of the vraja-gopīs, which extends from bhāva right up to mahābhāva, whereas vātsalya–prema can only develop up to the stage of anurāga. In kāntā–bhāva, the gopīs have the good fortune to engage all their limbs in the most complete mood of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The desire to perform service is developed to its ultimate extremity:
madhura-rase—kṛṣṇa-niṣṭhā, sevā atiśaya
sakhyera asaṅkoca, lālana-mamatādhikya haya
kānta-bhāve nijāṅga diyā karena sevana
ataeva madhura-rasera haya ‘pañca’ guṇa
ākāśādi guṇa yena para para bhūte
eka-dui-tina-cāri krame pañca pṛthivīte
ei-mata madhure saba bhāva-samāhāra
ataeva āsvādādhikye kare camatkāra
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā (19.231–234)
“In madhura-rasa, the qualities available in the previously mentioned relationships, such as attachment for Kṛṣṇa, rendering service unto Him, uninhibited feelings of fraternity, and the feelings of being His maintainer, all increase. The heroine serves her beloved with her entire body. Hence, all five transcendental qualities are present, just as all material qualities manifest one after another in the material elements, starting from ether. First one quality develops, then two, three and four, culminating with all five qualities being present in the earth element. This union of the moods of the other rasas in amorous love produces an intensified taste that is quite astonishing.”
nāyaṁ śriyo ’ṅga u nitānta-rateḥ prasādaḥ
svar-yoṣitāṁ nalina-gandha-rucāṁ kuto ’nyāḥ
rāsotsave ’sya bhuja-daṇḍa-gṛhīta-kaṇṭha-
labdhāśiṣāṁ ya udagād vraja-sundarīṇām
“ ‘In the rāsa festival, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa embraced the Vraja gopīs with His vine-like arms, and fulfilled all of their desires. The mercy that was given to them by Bhagavān was not even received by the most loving Lakṣmī, who is eternally present on the chest of Bhagavān. That mercy cannot be achieved by the ladies of the heavenly planets, whose complexion and bodily aroma are like that of a lotus, what to speak of other women.’
There are many different ways to explain this verse.
Rāsotsave – in the rāsa-līlā festival. The word utsava (festival) has a very special intonation here. That festival is the pastime wherein the gopīs fully blossom after giving Śrī Kṛṣṇa complete happiness. Within rāsa-līlā, all other types of līlās are also included. From rasa, rāsa (rāsa–līlā) arises; rāsa is performed on the platform made of rasa, or bliss.
Bhuja-daṇḍa-gṛhīta-kaṇṭha-labdhāśiṣāṁ – arms like sticks, which are nicely rounded and gradually increasing in beauty from the shoulders to the hands. With these arms, He embraced the beautiful necks of the gopīs and thus fulfilled their hearts’ desires.
Here our worshipable predecessor Gosvāmīs have given the understanding that rasika–śekhara Śrī Kṛṣṇa is placing His beautiful, playful, attractively decorated, delightful, extremely soft, gentle, and cooling arms around the gopīs’ conch-shaped necks, which are marked with three graceful lines. He is hanging there as if swinging with intense love and begging them to fulfill His innermost desires: “O gopīs, do not leave Me and go elsewhere, and do not let Me go anywhere else; otherwise I shall be swept far away in this nectarean ocean of prema. You are My only saviors.”
Prasāda – mercy. Here, this means the qualification the gopīs received from Śrī Kṛṣṇa by serving Him with their entire bodies. Qualification means the supreme happiness of intimate, personal association with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Not even Lakṣmī could receive this happiness, what to speak of the Apsarās, the society girls of heaven, or the wives of the demigods.
Aṅge – this refers to the golden line on Kṛṣṇa’s chest. This line is in fact none other than His most beloved Lakṣmī, who is eternally seated upon the chest of Śrī Nārāyaṇa, who is the vaibhava-svarūpa (opulent manifestation) of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Nitānta-rateḥ – She who is passionately in love with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. When Lakṣmī observed the great fortune of the gopīs with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, she too hankered to join in the rāsa–līlā festival. To attain the same good fortune, she began to perform austerities, yet still to this day, her desire remains unfulfilled.
Śriyaḥ. Even Lakṣmī could not attain the good fortune of the beautiful Vraja gopīs.
Nāyaṁ. The word ayaṁ again indicates Lakṣmī, and it can also apply to the queens of Dvārakā. Despite greatly coveting rati for Śrī Vrajendra-nandana’s lotus feet, still they could not achieve it. They could not realize the uniqueness of rasa in Śrī Kṛṣṇa which is not found in Śrī Nārāyaṇa.
tāsām āvirabhūc chauriḥ
“Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said to Parīkṣit Mahārāja, ‘After the gopīs sang their lament of separation, Bhagavān Madana-mohana, who churns and bewilders the mind of Kāmadeva (Cupid) himself, suddenly appeared in the midst of the gopīs wearing a golden yellow cloth, a garland of forest flowers, and a smile on His lotus face.’
The particular image of Bhagavān portrayed here only manifests in kāntā-rasa. This attractively sweet form constitutes the center of focus and attraction for the assembly of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beloveds, the beautiful vraja-gopīs. In separation from that astonishingly attractive form, the gopīs experienced a mere second like millions of years. In the pain of their separation, the form that Śrī Kṛṣṇa assumed pierced the core of the gopīs’ heart and seemed to only increase their suffering more and more. This type of sweetness can be experienced only in kāntā-bhāva, not in any other rasa.
kṛṣṇa-prāptira upāya bahu-vidha haya
kṛṣṇa-prāpti-tāratamya bahuta āchaya
kintu yāṅra yei rasa, sei sarvottama
taṭastha hañā vicārile, āche tara-tama
“There are various means to attain Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and they afford many levels in the degree of that attainment. Whatever relationship a particular devotee has with the Lord is the best for him. Still, when we consider all the differences from a neutral position, we can understand that there are gradations of prema.
There are many spiritual practices available to attain Śrī Kṛṣṇa, many varieties of tastes, and many devotional moods also. In accordance with the undertaking of a specific sādhana, one will achieve a particular form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. By performing devotion mixed with speculative knowledge (jñāna-miśrā-bhakti), one attains the brahmajyoti, which is the bodily effulgence of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. By performing devotion in the mood of reverence (aiśvarya-miśrā-bhakti), one achieves Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s opulent pastime expansion (vilāsa-mūrti) named Śrī Nārāyaṇa. And by the practice of pure devotion (śuddhā-bhakti) a person may attain Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself.
There is a gradation in the specialty of the form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa that manifests, depending on whether He is attained by the devotional moods of dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, or mādhurya. For those in dāsya-bhāva He is the Lord, in sakhya-bhāva He is a friend, in vātsalya-bhāva He is a son, and He is one’s most beloved to those in kāntā-bhāva. Whatever mood each person has, that particular bhāva is indeed the topmost. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is akhila-rasāmṛta–mūrti, or the complete personification of the nectar of all rasas, in whom there are five primary rasas and seven secondary rasas. Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī says:
mallānām aśanir nṛṇāṁ nara-varaḥ strīṇāṁ smaro mūrtimān
gopānāṁ sva-jano ’satāṁ kṣiti-bhujāṁ śāstā sva-pitroḥ śiśuḥ
mṛtyur bhoja-pater virāḍ aviduṣāṁ tattvaṁ paraṁ yogināṁ
vṛṣṇīnāṁ para-devateti vidito raṅgaṁ gataḥ sāgrajaḥ
“O Parīkṣit, when Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the embodiment of all rasas, entered the wrestling arena with His brother Śrī Balarāma, the various groups of people present regarded Kṛṣṇa in different ways according to the mood in which they were situated, and they also realized that particular rasa itself. The huge wrestlers witnessed Kṛṣṇa to be as hard as a lightning bolt; the young women, possessing a high degree of mādhurya-rasa, saw Him as Cupid personified, and within their heart of hearts they became absorbed in thinking of Him with amorous intentions. The ordinary men regarded Him as jewel-like among men, and the gopas recognized Him as their relative. The impious rulers considered Him to be a severe chastiser of the wicked; and the older men and ladies, who were like His father and mother, viewed Him as their most beautiful child. Kaṁsa, the king of the Bhojas, knew Him as time personified or death; the unintelligent materialists saw Him as the universal form; the yogīs as the Absolute Truth, and the Vṛṣṇis, who are devotees and lovingly disposed to the Lord, honored Him as their supreme worshipable deity.”
Thus the yogīs developed śānta-rasa (neutrality); the Vṛṣṇis developed dāsya-rasa (servitorship); the cowherd boys, who are fond of joking, developed sakhya-rasa (friendship); and hāsya-rasa (laughter); Nanda Bābā and the other cowherd men developed vātsalya-rasa (parental feelings); and karuṇa-rasa (compassion). The ladies experienced madhura–rasa (amorous feelings), the wrestlers developed vīra-rasa (chivalry), the ordinary persons felt adbhuta-rasa (astonishment), the fearful kings raudra–rasa (anger), Kaṁsa developed bhayānaka-rasa (fear), and the materialists experienced vībhatsa-rasa (disgust).
Śrī gurudeva, by means of mantra, establishes this type of relationship with Bhagavān, according to the specific taste in each individual jīva. The jīva also should then remain attentive and absorbed in executing the process of worship as given by the spiritual master until he reaches his desired goal. Of all the devotional moods, kāntā-bhāva is undoubtedly the most excellent.
yathottaram asau svāda-
ratir vāsanayā svādvī
bhāsate kāpi kasyacit
“ ‘There is an increase in degree of taste, pleasure, and intensity enjoyed in each subsequent kind of rati. The sequence culminates with the highest taste manifesting in madhura–rasa, amorous love.’
In his Amṛta-pravāha–bhāṣya on this verse Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written: Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda said, “I had previously mentioned many different types of goals and methods to attain Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but now I will describe the gradation that exists between them. According to a person’s qualification, he will follow one of these methods to achieve his ultimate goal, the kṛṣṇa-prema that is suitable for his particular level of eligibility. In every case, such prema, or rasa, will bring about his ultimate happiness.
The attainment of Kṛṣṇa is indeed the only worthwhile and auspicious achievement. Of the four highest types of rasa, namely, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, and madhura, the rasa a person is qualified will be the best for him. When someone qualifies for entering one particular rasa, he cannot understand the gradation when compared with another rasa. However, when the five types of rasas – śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, and madhura – are viewed from a neutral position, a gradation is seen; and among them madhura–rasa is considered the most excellent.
pūrva-pūrva-rasera guṇa—pare-pare haya
eka-dui gaṇane pañca paryanta bāḍaya
guṇādhikye svādādhikya bāḍe prati-rase
śānta-dāsya-sakhya-vātsalyera guṇa madhurete vaise
ākāśādira guṇa yena para-para bhūte
dui-tina gaṇane bāḍe pañca pṛthivīte
paripūrṇa-kṛṣṇa-prāpti ei ‘premā’ haite
ei premāra vaśa kṛṣṇa—kahe bhāgavate
“There is a gradual increase in transcendental mellows from the first rasa onward. Each subsequent mellow possesses the qualities of the previous ones, thus two qualities are found in the second rasa, three in the third, and finally five in the fifth. As the number of qualities increases, also the taste increases in each subsequent mellow. Therefore, the qualities found in śānta, dāsya, sakhya, and vātsalya-rasa all manifest in madhura-rasa. There is a nice example that illustrates this. The number of qualities in each of the five material elements (sky, air, fire, water, and earth) gradually increases one by one until finally, in the fifth element, earth, all five qualities are fully present. Thus, because all the qualities of the previous four rasas are present in kāntā-prema, it is considered to be the most excellent of all. Actually, this kāntā–prema completely controls Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam testifies.
The five material elements are sky, air, fire, water, and earth. From these come the five corresponding sensory qualities: sound, touch, form, taste, and fragrance. Sky (ether) possesses the single quality of sound. Two qualities – sound and touch – are present in the element air. Fire contains sound, touch, and form. Water possesses four qualities: sound, touch, form, and taste. All five qualities – sound, touch, form, taste, and fragrance – exist in the element earth. Just as sky, air, etc., are present in the element earth, simultaneous with its own natural quality of fragrance, similarly, kāntā-bhāva possesses the qualities of the other four rasas starting with śānta-rasa, but it has the additional quality of utilizing all the bodily limbs in the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, kṛṣṇa-prema has arisen most completely in madhura-rasa, because this prema, which is blossoming with rasa, accords the use of the entire body in service. Only this rasa provides the possibility of bringing Kṛṣṇa completely under one’s control.
Kāntā-bhāva includes all of the services performed by the associates of Kṛṣṇa who act as His servants, friends, and parents. The kṛṣṇa–niṣṭhā (resolute steadfastness in Kṛṣṇa) of śānta, the service mentality of dāsya, the intimate service of sakhya, and the pervasive desire in vātsalya for Kṛṣṇa’s auspiciousness and for His maintenance and the well-being of He who is subordinated by prema – all of these qualities are included in madhura-rasa. Furthermore, there is one more quality: offering one’s entire body in the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which is exclusively available in madhura-rasa. The love-struck Vraja gopīs, who are the heroines of this kāntā-bhāva, have distanced themselves from material desires and even their own family members, having completely renounced body, home, and dear friends as if insignificant dry grass.
mayi bhaktir hi bhūtānām
diṣṭyā yad āsīn mat-sneho
“ ‘O gopīs of Vraja, devotional service to Me bestows immortality upon all living entities, but it is a matter of great fortune and joy that you nurture intense affection for Me, as this is the means to attain Me.’
A discussion of the gopīs’ pain of separation is found in the account of the meeting at Kurukṣetra. Śrī Kṛṣṇa glorifies them, declaring them to be supremely fortunate, since this kāntā-prema is the only means by which He can be completely controlled. The prema of the other rasas is not able to do this.
kṛṣṇera pratijñā dṛḍha sarva-kāle ache
ye yaiche bhaje, kṛṣṇa tāre bhaje taiche
“Śrī Kṛṣṇa has taken a solemn oath that for all eternity He will reciprocate accordingly with the manner in which one serves Him.
In Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā (4.11)1, He has also mentioned:
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“O Pārtha, in whichever way a person renders service to Me, I serve him in that very same way. Everyone follows My path in all respects.”
The worshipful Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has said in his commentary on this verse that whatever a person desires as the fruit of their worship of the Lord, Bhagavān in return awards the result accordingly. The sādhaka of śuddha–bhakti worships Bhagavān only to achieve eternal service to the transcendental form of the Lord; and the Lord rewards His loving devotee according to his desire by making him His eternal associate, and giving him eternal love-filled service to Bhagavān. Bhagavān fulfills the desires of the impersonalists by bestowing upon them liberation, or nirviśeṣa–nirvāṇa, whereupon they enter into the impersonal effulgence of the Lord. As the Supreme Controller, the Lord bestows the material fruits desired by the reward-seeking workers, and in the same manner He bestows opulences or liberation upon the yogīs. Of all these various attainments, service to Śrī Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Goloka Vṛndāvana is the best.
Thus, we should understand from the commentary to this Bhagavad-gītā verse that the fruit of each individual’s worship is not identical. Depending on the type of bhajana one performs, the fruit received is indeed in accordance with one’s desires.
Some learned persons have interpreted the phrase manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ in this verse to mean that, no matter what form one’s worship takes, since all are on the path of worshiping Bhagavān, the Lord will give the same result to all. This conception is completely erroneous. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other scriptures have thoroughly refuted the foolish theory that the deluded materialists (karmīs), the speculators (jñānīs), and the pure devotees (premi-bhaktas) will ultimately all arrive at the same destination. Further on, Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā (9.25) states
yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām
“Those who worship the demigods will go to the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will come to Me.”
In this above-mentioned verse Bhagavān says, “With whatever mood one surrenders to Me, I reciprocate in a like manner. Factually, it is Me alone whom everyone is worshiping. Truly, I am the topmost and only valid goal of all conceptions. The pure devotees receive the ultimate bliss of eternal service to My transcendental person in the supreme abode. The impersonalists destroy their very selves through the attainment of nirvāṇa-mukti (liberation characterized by the cessation of material existence) in impersonal Brahman effulgence. For the śūnya-vādīs (voidists), I manifest myself as emptiness and nullify their very existence as well. For the gross materialists attached to matter, I cover their soul and make their consciousness like dull matter; and they attain Me in the form of matter. In the yogis’ case, I manifest Myself as the Supreme Lord and offer them all types of opulences [in the form of various yogic perfections] and liberation. According to the various types of faith, I sometimes give them birth in a perishable body. In this way, I manifest Myself as everything and it is only I who am attained by all these different practitioners. However, one should understand that out of all of these attainments, service to Me is supreme. Certainly, the many paths followed by humanity all lead exclusively to Me.”
ei ‘preme’ra anurūpa nā pāre bhajite
ataeva ‘ṛṇī’ haya—kahe bhāgavate
“ ‘If according to My vow I cannot fully reciprocate with someone who does bhajana of Me, then I become indebted to him.’ This is stated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Reciprocating with someone’s bhajana means that when a devotee performs devotional service with a particular motive, then Śrī Kṛṣṇa fulfills that desire. This is known as Śrī Kṛṣṇa reciprocating with His devotee’s bhajana. Another type of befitting reciprocation is where, in whatever bhāva one wishes to please Śrī Kṛṣṇa, He makes every effort to satisfy that devotee. However, Śrī Kṛṣṇa cannot reciprocate with both types of devotee. And considering that the perfected gopīs do not have even the slightest scent of desire for their own enjoyment, what is the question of Śrī Kṛṣṇa reciprocating by bestowing great happiness upon them? They only wish to give happiness and pleasure to Śrī Kṛṣṇa; if Śrī Kṛṣṇa wishes to fulfill their desire, then He alone receives happiness by doing that. The gopīs of Vraja have completely abandoned everything to offer their whole selves to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. However, Śrī Kṛṣṇa can never abandon any number of gopīs for a single gopī. What to speak of many gopīs, He cannot even abandon one of His ordinary devotees. Thus He cannot reciprocate with the service of the gopīs. Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself has accepted this fact in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.32.22):
na pāraye ’haṁ niravadya-saṁyujāṁ
sva-sādhu-kṛtyaṁ vibudhāyuṣāpi vaḥ
yā mābhajan durjara-geha-śṛṅkhalāḥ
saṁvṛścya tad vaḥ pratiyātu sādhunā
“ ‘My darling gopīs, your meeting Me is innocent and immaculate in every respect because it is devoid of even a single iota of desire for your own happiness. It is overflowing with supremely pure love. Although the bonds of affection for the members of one’s own home are impossible to overcome, you have completely demolished them. Thus, for loving service to Me, you have transgressed the moral laws of this world. Even if I lived as long as the gods I would be unable to requite even one drop of your love, sacrifice, and service. All of you may free Me from debt simply by your own gentle nature, but I am forever the debtor of your prema, and will always continue to be.’
The quality that makes this kāntā-prema the most excellent is that only in this rasa has Śrī Kṛṣṇa allowed Himself to fall into debt. This prema-mādhurya of the gopīs is the axle and Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the wheel upon that axle, resting and rotating upon that central object. If one removes the axle, or the gopīs, from the wheel, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then He becomes nirviśeṣa, or featureless (impersonal), in the sense that He can do nothing. The sentiments of the gopīs are the cause of the increase in Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beauty.
When and why did Śrī Kṛṣṇa become indebted to the gopīs? The reply is that when rāsa-līlā was going on, the other gopīs developed pride in their own good fortune, and the daughter of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja, Śrī Rādhā, became sulky. To establish in this world the super-excellence of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s mood of separation and also in order for Śrī Kṛṣṇa to directly taste and hear the nectar of Śrī Rādhā and the other gopīs’ talks in separation from Him, He disappeared from rāsa-līlā.
The gopīs, absorbed in their moods of separation from Kṛṣṇa, began inquiring about Him from the trees, creepers, tulasī, and the Yamunā, but they received no reply from them. Suddenly they saw Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s footprints, and with them the footprints of a young girl. The other gopīs began to extol the good fortune of that particular gopī, who was alone with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. They began to follow the footprints until they encountered Śrī Rādhā lying upon the ground, unconscious in separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, looking like a golden doll. The other gopīs pacified Her. After this all the gopīs gathered together on the banks of the river Yamunā in like-minded groups, and while weeping they began kīrtana. This singing of the gopīs is known as the Gopī-gīta. Upon hearing this song, Śrī Kṛṣṇa could not check Himself and came into their presence.
All the gopīs took their veils, which were covered with kuṅkuma from their breasts, and laying them upon the ground they prepared a seat for Him, on which He was seated. The gopīs, being situated in mādhurya–rasa, proceeded to ask Śrī Śyāmasundara a variety of questions, and He cleverly answered all of them. But those questions that were completely overflowing with prema, Śrī Kṛṣṇa could not answer, and He became eternally indebted to the gopīs.
Our most worshipful Gosvāmīs mention that not even the eulogies composed by Lord Brahmā can give Him the joy He experienced in becoming indebted to the gopīs. At certain opportune instances, Śrī Kṛṣṇa has released Himself from His indebtedness to the devotees of all the other rasas, but when He attempted to free Himself from His debt to the gopīs in mādhurya-rasa, He became even more indebted.
yadyapi saundarya kṛṣṇa-mādhuryera dhurya
vraja-devīra saṅge tāṅra bāḍaye mādhurya
“Although Śrī Kṛṣṇa represents the ultimate limit of unparalleled beauty and sweetness, still in the association of the Vraja gopīs His beauty and sweetness increases ad infinitum.
Although Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beauty and sweetness, upon reaching their utmost limit, have no opportunity for increasing any further, whenever the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa see one another, His beauty and sweetness repeatedly increase. This sweetness contains such inconceivable and astonishing power that when the gopīs encounter His beauty and sweetness they become filled with joy, and when Śrī Kṛṣṇa sees their joyful happiness, then He becomes exceedingly pleased. Śrī Kṛṣṇa understands that He is giving happiness to the gopīs, and the gopīs become joyful because they know that their service is giving Him happiness. In this mutual dealing of pleasing one another, there exists an eternal rivalry.
tatrātiśuśubhe tābhir bhagavān devakī-sutaḥ
madhye maṇīnāṁ haimānāṁ mahā-marakato yathā
“ ‘In the midst of the dancing gopīs, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa appears most beautiful, like an exquisite sapphire in the midst of golden ornaments.’ ”
Haimānāṁ – looking like a jewel encrusted in a golden necklace.
Mahā-marakata – a brilliant blue sapphire. The gopīs resemble golden beads, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa, due to His dark bodily effulgence, appears like a blue sapphire.
Madhye maṇīnāṁ yathā. As a blue sapphire appears beautiful when set in a golden necklace, so the sapphire-like Śrī Kṛṣṇa is exquisite when surrounded by the golden ornament-like gopīs.
Tatrātiśuśubhe. While mahā-rāsa was going on, both Śrī Kṛṣṇa, surrounded by the gopīs, and the gopīs, surrounded by Śrī Kṛṣṇa, appeared extraordinarily beautiful. In fact, Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s natural beauty and sweetness were unparalleled, but being in the presence of His special associates, His beauty and sweetness increased. Only amidst the beauty of the gopīs does He reveal the summit of His beauty and sweetness.
When Śrī Kṛṣṇa went to Dvārakā, He experienced complete absorption in the emotions of Vraja and went mad. When Lord Brahmā saw Him in this condition, he created another Vṛndāvana named Nava-vṛndāvana to revive Him from His internal state. While He was in Nava-vṛndāvana, Śrī Kṛṣṇa looked upon the statue of the daughter of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja surrounded by Her friends. At that time, His nature as the very charmer of Cupid himself was enhanced even more. When Padmā, Kaṁsa’s mother, saw this form, she could not check herself and in kāntā-bhāva, she ran towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Finally, Mother Rohiṇī caught hold of her.
vīryasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ
saṇṇāṁ bhaga itiṅgana
Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.5.47)
“Śrī Bhagavān is the Supreme Truth (parama-tattva), who is fully endowed with six inconceivable qualities: complete wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge, and renunciation.”
Regarding the incarnations, some are portions of Kāraṇābdhiśāyī Mahā-Viṣṇu (Viṣṇu lying on the Causal Ocean) and others are empowered incarnations. According to Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):
yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“O Bhārata, whenever there is a decline in religious practice, and an increase of irreligion, I personally descend.”
The incarnations of Bhagavān appear in every millenium (yuga) in order to protect the earth when it is oppressed by the demons. Even Mahā-Viṣṇu, who is the root of all these incarnations and the origin of the other puruṣa–avatāras, is but a plenary expansion of Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti yuge yuge
At this point a question may arise: When the rāsa–līlā is saturated with unlimited sweetness, why has the word bhagavān, which denotes opulence, been used here – tatrātiśuśubhe tābhir bhagavān devakī-sutaḥ? The reconciliation comes by understanding that there were many different types of listeners in the assembly of Śrī Parīkṣit Mahārāja. There were karmīs, jñānīs, yogīs, tapasvīs (ascetics or performers of various types of austerities), devotees of mixed moods, and pure devotees. In order that those seated at this gathering would not think Śrī Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary mortal, and His pastimes, associates and holy abode to be in any way mundane, the word bhagavān has been used. It is only Bhagavān Himself who may enact pastimes such as these.
Here our worshipful Gosvāmīs have presented the additional siddhānta that it is not possible for Bhagavān to perform any pastime without the foundation of aiśvarya (opulence). It is never possible for Śrī Kṛṣṇa to divest Himself of His opulence in any condition. However, because of excessive sweetness, or the profuse overflowing of that mādhurya in the pastimes of Vraja, the aiśvarya becomes integrated into mādhurya. Thus in order to temper or pacify unqualified persons, opulence is sometimes shown. But then it immediately becomes hidden once more, just as a blade of grass in a large pot of boiling milk may be seen for a moment before again being submerged in the unlimited ocean of sweetness.
Devakī-suta. It is definitely incorrect to take this word as an indication that Kṛṣṇa who is performing the rāsa-līlā is the son of Devakī and Vasudeva. Here, Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī is actually indicating the son of Yaśodā. In his commentary, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has also directly explained that another name of Yaśodā was Devakī. Evidence of this is found in Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa:
dve nāmnī nanda-bhāryāyā
yaśodā devakīti ca
ataḥ sakhyam abhūt tasya
“The wife of Nanda had two names, Yaśodā and also Devakī. Because of their natural friendship, she [the wife of Nanda] and Devakī, the wife of Śauri [Vasudeva] share the same name.”
Only one Kṛṣṇa danced with countless millions of gopīs, assuming as many forms as there were gopīs. It is also stated that Śrī Kṛṣṇa danced with such velocity that, just as the whirling of a burning torch in complete circle gives the appearance of an unbroken circle of fire, He appeared simultaneously at the side of each of the countless gopīs<