Also in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.21.5):
barhāpīḍaṁ naṭa-vara-vapuḥ karṇayoḥ karṇikāraṁ
bibhrad vāsaḥ kanaka-kapiśaṁ vaijayantīṁ ca mālām
randhrān veṇor adhara-sudhayāpūrayan gopa-vṛndair
vṛndāraṇyaṁ sva-pada ramaṇaṁ prāviśad gīta-kīrtiḥ
[Seeing Kṛṣṇa through the eyes of bhāva, the gopīs in pūrva-rāga described His beauty:] Śyāmasundara is entering the forest of Vṛndāvana accompanied by His cowherd boyfriends. In His turban there is a peacock feather; over His ears, a karṇikāra flower; on His body, a pītāmbara glitters like gold; and around His neck, extending down to His knees, is a heart-stealing garland strung with five kinds of fragrant forest flowers. His beautiful dress is like that of an expert dancer on a stage, and the nectar of His lips flows through the holes of His flute. Singing His glories, the cowherd boys follow from behind. In this way, this Vṛndāvana-dhāma, which is more charming than Vaikuṇṭha, has become even more beautiful by the impressions of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, which are marked with the conch, disc and other symbols.
śikhicūḍa, naṭavara, karṇe karṇikāra
veṇu-randhre adhara-pīyūṣa pūrṇa kari’
sakhā-saṅge vṛndāraṇye praveśila hari
With this verse Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the crown jewel of all paramahaṁsas, has drawn an amazing picture of the sweet form of Kṛṣṇa that manifested in the hearts of the beautiful damsels of Vraja when they heard the sound of His veṇu. The vraja-ramaṇīs, filled with deep attachment for Kṛṣṇa, became overwhelmed upon hearing the sweet sound of His flute. As they began to describe to each other the astonishing sweetness of that sound, the image of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in His very beautiful threefold-bending form (tribhaṅga-lalita), with His playful way of strolling, His crooked glances, His sweet slight smile and so on, manifested within their hearts and overwhelmed them with prema.
Barhāpīḍam – In the middle of the locks of black curly hair on Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s head there is a peacock feather crown that looks like a rainbow on a fresh raincloud. These peacock feathers were a gift from blissfully dancing peacocks. By wearing this crown on His head, the dhīra-lalita-nāyaka Kṛṣṇa reveals the hāva, bhāva and other ecstatic symptoms of His beloveds in an unprecedented way. The nakha-candrikā, the shining bluish-green centre of the peacock feather, is a seal of cleverness in the loving affairs (prema-vidagdha) that comprise the art of rasa. By wearing a peacock feather on His head, Kṛṣṇa proclaims the victory of His beloved Rādhā in the previous night’s pastimes in the pleasure groves.
Naṭa-vara-vapuḥ – Even the art of dancing (nṛtya-vilāsa) is defeated by Kṛṣṇa’s playful way of strolling. Śyāmasundara, the best of dancers, is the personification of the highest sweetness, which is beyond comparison. When, accompanied by His cowherd friends, He follows the cows into the Vṛndāvana forest, His lotus feet dance in His own natural style, which shames the art of dancing itself. At the same time, His jewelled anklebells, golden-coloured pītāmbara, waist bells and the vaijayantī-mālā on His chest also dance. His fingers, too, dance upon the holes of His flute in a unique manner. Kṛṣṇa’s two eyes, which defeat the beauty of the restless movement of khañjana birds and baby deer, also dance with various expressions. His makara-shaped earrings, His black curling tresses and the peacock feather adorning the top of His head also start to dance. Thus, He Himself is the unequalled expert dancer (naṭa-vara) and every part of His body is also a naṭa-vara.
Karṇayoh karṇikāram – The yellow kanera flower (karṇikāra) that Śyāmasundara wears on His ears as He enters the forest increases the incomparable sweetness of His fresh youth. Rasika-śekhara Śrī Kṛṣṇa wears only one kanera flower, sometimes on His right ear and sometimes on His left, thus demonstrating His carefree, intoxicated youth. He places this flower on the ear that faces the loving gopīs who stand on the roof-tops, thus showing them His great affection.
Bibhrad vāsaḥ kanaka-kapiśam – Naṭa-vara Śyāmasundara’s body, whose dark complexion defeats the colour of fresh storm clouds, is adorned with a golden-yellow garment (pītāmbara) which resembles lightning against a thundercloud. By covering His body with the pītāmbara, which is similar in colour to the vraja-gopīs’ golden complexions, He expresses how He feels when being embraced by them, thus revealing His deep love for them. On His very broad chest, a vaijayantī-mālā, made from five kinds of flowers, swings gently and sweetly. Seeing this, ever-fresh waves of emotion surge in the gopīs’ hearts. These five flowers are like five arrows released by the gopīs that pierce each and every part of Kṛṣṇa’s body.
Randrān veṇor adhara-sudhayāpūrayan – When Śrī Kṛṣṇa covers the holes of the veṇu with His fingers, puts it to His tender, bud-like lips that defeat the beauty of ripe bimba fruits, and gently blows into it, a sweet sound pours from the holes that infatuates the entire world and enchants all moving and non-moving beings. The lifeless veṇu becomes alive and stirs the gopīs’ hearts, stimulating transcendental lust (kāma) within them. Moreover, when the gopīs see that the veṇu is enjoying their wealth of the nectar of Kṛṣṇa’s lips (adhara-sudhā) right in front of them, even though the flute is male, the sañcāri-bhāva called jealousy (īrṣyā) arises in their hearts.
In this way, Śyāmasundara plays on His veṇu as He enters the most pleasant forest of Vṛndāvana. The moment a stream of the flute’s sweet nectar enters the ears of the vraja-ramaṇīs, who are endowed with mahābhāva, an amazing condition arises in their hearts. They become restless with a strong desire to meet with Kṛṣṇa, and although they try to conceal this mood, they are unsuccessful.
A sādhaka who aims to attain the gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa will gradually develop his bhāva-mādhurya by performing sādhana under the guidance of his spiritual master. When the stage of bhāva arises, Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s form manifests within the sādhaka’s heart. At this stage the sādhaka’s mood is similar to that of a gopī. He understands himself (in his svarūpa) to be a young girl (kiśorī), and he becomes absorbed in rendering service under the guidance of the nitya-siddha-gopīs.
When the holy name fully manifests, one becomes enchanted by the deity, who enchants even Himself. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.2.12) Śrī Uddhava says to Vidura:
māyā-balaṁ darśayatā gṛhītam
vismāpanaṁ svasya ca saubhagarddheḥ
paraṁ padaṁ bhūṣaṇa-bhūṣaṇāṅgam
Through His Yogamāyā potency, Bhagavān appeared in His transcendental form suitable for His pastimes as a human being. This form was so beautiful that it not only enchanted the entire world, but also amazed Bhagavān Himself. This blessed form is the ultimate summit of beauty, and His beautiful bodily lustre even embellishes His ornaments.
prakaṭila vapu kṛṣṇa cic-chakti vistāri’
subhaga-ṛddhira para-pada camatkāra
bhūṣaṇa-bhūṣaṇa-rūpa tulanāra pāra
By the influence of His cit-śakti, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifests a completely captivating form appropriate for His human-like pastimes. The unparalleled beauty of this form astonishes even Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Śrī Kṛṣṇa has unlimited pastimes as well as unlimited manifestations, such as: His svayaṁ-prakāśa (personal manifestations) like Vāsudeva and Saṅkarṣaṇa; His vilāsa-mūrti (pastime form) Śrī Nārāyaṇa; and His svāṁśa-rūpa (personal expansions), which are the puruṣa-avatāras (Lords of creative energy – Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu), guṇa-avatāras (incarnations of the three qualities of nature – Brahmā, Śiva and Viṣṇu) and āveśa-avatāras (empowered living entities). Of all these expansions, He Himself (svayaṁ-rūpa), Śrī Kṛṣṇa of Gokula – who is an ever-youthful and expert dancer, who is attired in the dress of a gopa and who holds a flute – is superior and the most attractive. A single particle of this sweetness fully submerges Gokula, Mathurā, Dvārakā and even Devī-dhāma.
By His Yogamāyā, Kṛṣṇa manifests Himself in such an unparalleled form in this material world along with His most confidential jewel, the eternal pastimes of Goloka Vṛndāvana. This astonishing nature amazes even Kṛṣṇa Himself, rendering Him helpless in His attempts to taste its sweetness. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, complete in the six opulences of wealth, beauty, fame, strength, knowledge and renunciation, is situated in His ultimate perfection. These six opulences are adorned with sweetness and assume an unprecedented divine beauty.
Ornaments usually beautify the body, but Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s body enhances the beauty of His ornaments. His threefold-bending form (tribhaṅga-lalita) enhances the amazing beauty of His limbs and attracts the hearts of all. The arrow of His crooked sidelong glance joined to the bow of His eyebrows stirs the minds of Śrī Rādhā and the other vraja-devīs. The Lakṣmīs, proclaimed in the Vedas to be virtuous and chaste, are also attracted by His beauty and desire to serve the effulgence emanating from His toenails. Even though Śrī Rādhā and Her sakhīs in Vraja worship with their lives, millions of times over, the moonbeams emanating from Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s toenails, they eternally keep His moon-like face in the caves of their hearts.
On the strength of His own cit-śakti, Bhagavān Kṛṣṇacandra manifests an extraordinary form for His pastimes in the material world. This form generates astonishment even in Nārāyaṇa, His vilāsa-vigraha. Even Kṛṣṇa Himself becomes mad to taste His own sweetness. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.158) confirms this: kṛṣṇera mādhurye kṛṣṇe upajaya lobha.
Kṛṣṇa’s beauty attracts the hearts of all. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.24.65) describes the Vrajavāsīs’ anger towards Brahmā for making eyes that blink and thus obstruct their vision of Kṛṣṇa while they drink the beauty of His form:
nityotsavaṁ na tatṛpur dṛśibhiḥ pibantyo
nāryo narāś ca muditāḥ kupitā nimeś ca
The makara-shaped earrings that swing on Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s ears play in the lake of His cheeks, and this splendour increases even further the beauty of His cheeks. When He smiles with enjoyment, the bliss that is always present on His face is augmented. With the cups of their eyes, all men and women drink the nectarean beauty of His lotus face. They are never satisfied, however, so they become angry with Brahmā for creating eyes that blink and thus obstruct their relish of this sweetness.
subhaga-kapola heri’ makara-kuṇḍala
savilāsa hāsya-mukha-candra niramala
nara-nārī-gaṇa nitya-utsave mātila
nimeṣa-kārīra prati kupita haila
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, radiant with joy, began to describe the sweetness of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beautiful form to Mahārāja Parīkṣit. When the Vrajavāsīs see this beauty, they are overwhelmed with prema and their own loving attachment (anurāga) is unlimitedly amplified, attaining a delightfulness beyond description. The vraja-sundarīs, filled with mahābhāva, relish Kṛṣṇa’s extraordinary beauty (rūpa-mādhurya) to its fullest extent due to their very thick and deep anurāga. Their sentiments are on the topmost level, and although there is no higher position, their transcendental moods keep increasing to the stage of yāvad-āśraya-vṛtti2. In this state of anurāga, which cannot be described in words, they experience nothing but rasa. They attain sva-saṁvedya-daśā2, which is the ultimate stage of mahābhāva. This condition is the wealth of the vraja-sundarīs alone.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s cheeks are surrounded by curly locks of hair and are radiant with divine earrings. An eternal festival of unprecedented beauty pervades His charming lotus face. In the centre of this eternal festival, a gentle, nectarean smile gracefully resides, like an emperor of the sweetest of all great sweetness. Because Śrī Kṛṣṇa has attained adolescence (between the ages of paugaṇḍa and kiśora), happiness, impatience, liveliness and so forth have appeared on His lotus face, revealing His restlessness. His white teeth, stained by chewing tāmbūla, and His reddish lips endowed with a charming smile, have reached the extreme limit of beauty.
It seems that on the full moon night, the moon rays remove the burning suffering of all living entities and give rise to greed in the hearts of the devotee-like cakora birds. In the same way, when the vraja-devīs see the unprecedented sweetness of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beauty, their ocean of kāma increases. Kṛṣṇa’s beauty thus destroys their consideration of family, caste, religion, patience and so forth; they become infatuated by His charm and drown in an ocean of bliss. Constantly swinging makara-shaped earrings dance on the cheeks of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s gentle, softly smiling face as they embrace and kiss His cheeks. When the gopīs see this, Śrī Kṛṣṇa appears in their hearts as dhīra-lalita, a hero expert in amorous sports. His intention to embrace the vraja-sundarīs and kiss their breasts is expressed by the kuṇḍalas’ touching and embracing His cheeks.
The gopīs, however, are not thoroughly satisfied by watching the festival of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s sweetness in this way. Angry with Brahmā for creating eyelids that momentarily interrupt their darśana, they curse him. “Brahmā is not qualified to create. To view such a beautiful scene he has given only two eyes, and they even have doors on them in the form of eyelids! After dying, we will become Brahmā in our next lives and show how creation should be done. Two eyes alone are not sufficient to behold such elegance and beauty. The entire body should have eyes with no eyelids so that we can have unlimited darśana of Kṛṣṇa without blinking!”
This Text uses the words nāryo narāś ca to indicate that all men and women drink the nectarean beauty of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus face. Nāryaḥ means Rādhā and the other gopīs, and narāḥ means Subala and other priya-narma-sakhās.
Only in Vraja are Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s four unique qualities – prema–mādhurya, līlā-mādhurya, rūpa-mādhurya and veṇu-mādhurya – present in their most complete form. For this reason there is a special importance and a distinguishing virtue that Vraja-dhāma has over other dhāmas and that Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa and the vraja-gopikās have over other incarnations.
The Creator fashioned Śrī Kṛṣṇa in an unprecedented way, as described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.2.13):
yad dharma-sūnor bata rājasūye
nirīkṣya dṛk-svasty-ayanaṁ tri-lokaḥ
kārtsnyena cādyeha gataṁ vidhātur
arvāk-sṛtau kauśalam ity amanyata
When the people from all three worlds who were present at Dharmarāja Yudhiṣṭhira’s rājasūya-yajña beheld Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa’s form, which is so pleasing to the eye, they thought that in fashioning this form the Creator had reached the zenith of his expertise in creating human forms.
kṛṣṇa-rūpa loka-traya-nivāsī sakala
jagatera sṛṣti madhye ati camatkāra
vidhātāra kauśala e karila nirdhāra
Uddhava, overwhelmed with kṛṣṇa-prema, is describing the beautiful form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa to Vidura. “Those who personally saw Śrī Kṛṣṇa at Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja’s rājasūya-yajña praised Vidhātā’s (Brahmā’s) skill in creating by saying, ‘Even the Creator, Brahmā, becomes wonderstruck upon seeing the splendour of this graceful body, which eclipses the lustre of a blue lotus or a sapphire.’”
This Text praises Vidhātā’s creative skill, yet Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s form is eternal, without a beginning. Nevertheless, for the sake of material perspective, words like “creation” have been used. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s form is perfect, eternal, human-like and beginningless. This form is manifest in Vṛndāvana and is suitable for human-like pastimes (nara-līlā). Among all the pastimes performed by Kṛṣṇa in His different svarūpas in His various abodes, such as Vaikuṇṭha, His nara-līlā, which He performs in Vraja like an ordinary human being, is topmost. He is glorified in three ways according to the degree to which His qualities are manifest: pūrṇa (complete), pūrṇatara (more complete) and pūrṇatama (most complete). His form in which all of His qualities such as beauty, sweetness and opulence are manifest in the most complete way is called pūrṇatama, and this form is manifest in Vṛndāvana. He appears in His most complete form of Bhagavān only there, because that is where His associates express the ultimate limit of prema. In all other places He manifests as either pūrṇa or pūrṇatara, according to the level to which prema is developed in His associates of that abode.
In Vraja, Kṛṣṇa manifests as pūrṇatama. In three of the bhāvas in which He has relationships with the Vrajavāsīs (dāsya, sakhya and vātsalya), there is an expectation of only one kind of relationship (for instance, in dāsya only servitude is expected). Also, there is some etiquette (maryādā) in the service rendered to Him by the devotees in these three rasas. But the relationship the vraja-gopīs have with Śrī Kṛṣṇa is that of lover and beloved (kānta-kāntā), and their service follows solely in the wake of their desire for Him. They do not hesitate to transgress chastity and dignity for the sake of serving Him and giving Him happiness.
Therefore, kāntā-prema is supreme. Śrī Rādhā is the crown jewel of all these kāntās and Her love entirely controls Śrī Kṛṣṇa. By the influence of Śrī Rādhā’s prema, the pūrṇatama beauty and sweetness of Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra increase without cessation.
The result of having darśana of the deity with deep, loving attachment (anurāga) is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.2.14):
vraja-striyo dṛgbhir anupravṛtta-
dhiyo ’vatasthuḥ kila kṛtya-śeṣāḥ
When the young women of Vraja were honoured by Kṛṣṇa’s affectionate laughter, joking words and playful glances, their eyes would become fixed on Him. Their minds would become so absorbed in Him that they would become unaware of their bodies and homes, and they would remain standing as if lifeless – like dolls.
sarva-kṛtya-samādhāna antare māniyā
kṛṣṇa-rūpe mugdha-netre rahe dāṅḍāiyā
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is controlled by prema, casts sidelong glances at the gopīs as He laughs playfully. At that time, prema increases in the gopīs’ hearts, and their desire to enhance Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure awakens. They make Him eager to meet them by their varieties of laughing, joking and sulkiness. In response to their love for Him, Kṛṣṇa runs with an eager heart to pacify their māna. Controlled by the deeply affectionate prema of the gopīs, He announces His gratitude by accepting eternal indebtedness to them.
Unlimited waves enter the ocean of bhāva of the vraja-ramaṇīs, who are endowed with mahābhāva, and while attending to their household duties, such as cleaning, smearing cow dung over the floor and churning yoghurt, they are always absorbed in remembering Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s different pastimes. The vraja-ramaṇīs’ hearts and senses become His dedicated followers, and their minds become imprisoned within His heart. Seeing their activities, Kṛṣṇa Himself becomes astonished, what to speak of others.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is extremely attached to the gopīs in many ways. He prays to them, He spends much time trying to appease their māna, and He waits at the gate of a kuñja for permission to enter. At that time, the gopīs feel content and successful. They drink the splendour of His beauty and thus become motionless like statues.