Book excerptsSri Bhajana RahasyaAṢṬAMA-YĀMA-SĀDHANA. Rātri-līlā. Prema-bhajana sambhoga. Verses 11 - 15

AṢṬAMA-YĀMA-SĀDHANA. Rātri-līlā. Prema-bhajana sambhoga. Verses 11 – 15


Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes of meeting (sambhoga-līlā) are described in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (15.222–4):

te tu sandarśanaṁ jalpaḥ
sparśanaṁ vartma-rodhanam
nau-khelā-līlayā cauryaṁ
madhu-pānaṁ vadhū-veśa-
dhṛtiḥ kapaṭa-suptatā
samprayogādayo matāḥ


The anubhāvas of meeting (sambhoga) are: seeing each other (sandarśana); talking (jalpa); touching (sparśana); blocking each other’s way in a contrary mood (vartma-rodhana); the rāsa-līlā; enjoying pleasure pastimes in Vṛndāvana (vṛndāvana-krīḍā); playing water-sports in the Yamunā and Mānasī-gaṅgā (jala-keli); enjoying boat pastimes (nau-khelā); stealing flowers, clothes and the flute (līlā-caurya); enjoying pastimes of demanding taxes (ghaṭṭa); playing hide-and-seek in the kuñjas (kuñjādi-līnatā); drinking honey (madhu-pāna); Kṛṣṇa dressing in female attire (vadhū-veśa-dhṛti); pretending to sleep (kapaṭa-suptatā); playing dice (dyūta-krīḍā); pulling off each other’s garments (paṭākṛṣti); kissing (cumba); embracing (āśleṣa); making nail-marks on each other (nakha-arpaṇa); relishing the nectar of each other’s lips, which are like bimba fruit (bimba-adhara-sudhā-pāna); and enjoying amorous union (samprayoga).

sandarśana, jalpa, sparśa, vartma-nirodhana
rāsa, vṛndāvana-krīḍā, yamunā-khelana
naukā-khelā, puṣpa-curi, ghaṭṭa, saṅgopana
madhupāna, vadhū-veśa, kapaṭa-svapana
dyūta-krīḍā, vastra-ṭānā, surata-vyāpāra
bimbādhara sudhāpāna, sambhoga prakāra


Decorating Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa is described in Stavāvalī (Sva-saṅkalpa-prakāśa-stotra (9)):

sphuran-muktā guñjā maṇi sumanasāṁ hāra-racane
mudendor lekhā me racayatu tathā śikṣaṇa-vidhim
yatha taiḥ saṅkḷptair dayita-sarasī madhya-sadane
sphuṭaṁ rādhā-kṛṣṇāv ayam api jano bhūṣayati tau


May Indulekhā Sakhī, as guru, mercifully teach me the art of stringing very beautiful necklaces and garlands composed of pearls, jewels, guñjā berries and flowers. With these necklaces and garlands, I can decorate Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa for Their pleasure as They are seated on the jewelled throne in the middle of Rādhā-kuṇḍa.

muktā-guñjā-maṇi-puṣpa-hāra viracane
indulekhā-guru-kṛpā labhiba yatane
rādhā-kuṇḍa ratnamaya mandire duṅhāre
bhūṣita kariba āmi sulalita hāre


In this Text, Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, who is totally absorbed in his identity as a mañjarī, is drawing a delightful picture of his desire to serve Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava by decorating Them suitably in the nikuñja situated in the middle of Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Śrī Rādhā’s sakhīs have a variety of natures with which they nourish many kinds of mellows (rasas). These sakhīs are proficient in knowledge of their own rasa, and sometimes they learn different arts from other sakhīs. By teaching all the pālyadāsīs Herself, Śrī Rādhā makes them expert in Her service.

Here Śrīla Dāsa Gosvāmī, in the mood of Rati Mañjarī, is praying to Śrīmatī Indulekhā, one of Śrī Rādhā’s aṣṭa-sakhīs, to teach her the art of stringing necklaces of pearls, jewels and guñjā berries and making garlands of flowers, as well as other delightful arts. According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Śrī Rādhā-kṛṣṇa-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā, Indulekhā is learned in scriptures dealing with snake-charming mantras and in the sāmudrika-śāstra. She is expert in stringing necklaces and garlands, drawing pictures, decorating the teeth, gemmology, weaving various kinds of cloth and writing auspicious mantras. She is also expert in generating the mutual attraction between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.

As Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava perform amorous sports (rasa-vilāsa-krīḍā) in the vilāsa-kuñja known as Madana-vāṭikā situated in the middle of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Their necklaces of pearls, jewels and guñjā berries and Their garlands of flowers break and scatter. The prāṇa-sakhīs do not hesitate to enter the kuñja in order to rearrange Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava’s clothes and ornaments. Śrīla Dāsa Gosvāmī is praying to Śrī Indulekhā, who is expert in all these arts, to impart knowledge about how to skilfully accomplish all these services. By their skill in stringing necklaces and garlands, the pālyadāsī-mañjarīs have their desires to please Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava fulfilled.


For an understanding of vipralambha-rasa one should read Gopī-gīta (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Chapter 31). Only those who distribute bhagavat-kathā are most munificent. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.31.9) states:

tava kathāmṛtaṁ tapta-jīvanaṁ
kavibhir īḍitaṁ kalmaṣāpaham
śravaṇa-maṅgalaṁ śrīmad ātataṁ
bhuvi gṛṇanti te bhūri-dā janāḥ


O Kṛṣṇa, nectar-filled narrations about You are the life and soul of persons suffering in separation from You, and they are sung by great, realised poets who are Your devotees. Just by hearing the all-auspicious narrations about You, all kinds of sins, such as prārabdha and aprārabdha, are removed, and all prosperity, in the form of prema-bhakti, arises in the heart. Therefore no one is equal to or more generous than he who chants and propagates narrations about You.

tava kathāmṛta kṛṣṇa! jīvanera sukha
kavi-gaṇa gāya yāte yāya pāpa-duḥkha
śravaṇa-maṅgala sadā saundarya-pūrita
sukṛta-janera mukhe nirantara gīta


At the time of Ratha-yātrā, Gaurasundara, endowed with the mood of Śrī Rādhā, became tired and lay down to rest beneath a tree, extending His lotus feet. Within His mind, He relished the vraja-devīs’ various moods. Mahārāja Pratāparudra came to Him dressed as an insignificant and lowly person and, in a humble mood, massaged Mahāprabhu’s feet while gently singing this śloka.

In the previous verse of Gopī-gīta, which begins with the words madhurayā girā, the gopīs who were suffering in separation from Kṛṣṇa pray for the nectar of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lips to cure their disease. In reply Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, “O gopīs, I cannot understand how you can remain alive in such a diseased condition.”

The gopīs reply, “Śyāmasundara, we are alive only due to the nectar of narrations about You, which do not allow us to die. If You ask what this nectar is like, we will answer that it can even bring peace to someone who is afflicted with the intractable disease of suffering the threefold material miseries. The nectar of descriptions of You even calms a forest fire of miseries.”

Kṛṣṇa may say, “O gopīs, I will bring you nectar from heaven. You can take that!”

The gopīs answer, “Dear Śyāmasundara, nectar from heaven will make the body healthy, but it will increase lust (kāma) and so forth, which cause much misfortune. Indra and the other demigods of Svarga have so much lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride and envy.”

If Kṛṣṇa says, “O gopīs, take the nectar of liberation!” then the gopīs will reply, “Even if You offer liberation, Your devotees will not accept it because it is unfavourable for prema-bhakti. Where are the loving exchanges in liberation? Dhruva, Prahlāda, Brahmā, Nārada, Catuḥsana, Vyāsa, Śuka and other great devotees and poets glorify hari-kathā, descriptions of You. For those who aspire for liberation, this kathā is the immediately effective medicine to cure the disease of material existence. And for materialists, it gives pleasure to the ears and minds. Great personalities who are liberated within this world praise such narrations as nectar.

Hearing them removes all the living entity’s sins and offences and bestows auspiciousness. Just as with the arrival of the autumn season the water in rivers and ponds automatically becomes clean, similarly, by hearing descriptions of You, the dirt in the living entity’s heart is removed. Such narrations give new life to the devotees who are burning in separation from You, and it bestows all kinds of beauty and wealth. One who distributes kṛṣṇa-kathā throughout the world is a truly benevolent person.”


When the gopīs think of Kṛṣṇa wandering in the forest, they experience great sorrow. A description of their deep love for Him at this time is given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.31.11):

calasi yad vrajāc cārayan paśūn
nalina-sundaraṁ nātha te padam
śila-tṛṇāṅkuraiḥ sīdatīti naḥ
kalilatāṁ manaḥ kānta gacchati


O Prāṇa-vallabha! O Kānta! When You go to the forests of Vraja to herd the cows, the soles of Your soft lotus feet, which are like beautiful blue lotuses, must suffer as they are pricked by small stones and dry straw. Thought of this disturbs our hearts and minds.

dhenu la’ye vraja ha’te yabe yāo vane
nalina-sundara tava kamala-caraṇe
śilāṅkure kaṣṭa ha’be manete vicāri’
mahā-duḥkha pāi morā ohe cittahāri


In the verse of Gopī-gīta that precedes this one and begins with the words prahasitaṁ priya, the vraja-sundarīs felt pain when they remembered pūrva-rāga – the loving glances of their prāṇakānta Śrī Kṛṣṇa, His gentle smile, His joking and talking with them in a secluded place, and so forth – and their hearts became disturbed. Now, they direct their words towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa, saying, “O deceiver of the heart, how we will ever attain peace, we do not know! Our hearts are anxious both when we meet with You and when we are separated from You; they are anxious in all conditions. O Kṛṣṇa, in the morning, You are surrounded by countless sakhās as You take innumerable cows to graze in the forest, and the Vrajavāsīs, deprived of Your darśana, are plunged into a deep ocean of separation from You. When we think of Your lotus feet, which are softer than a thousand-petalled lotus, being pierced by dry straw, thorns, sharp grass and so forth, we sink in unlimited anxiety. How can we tolerate pain to Your lotus feet, which we consider non-different from our hearts? First, we suffer in separation from You, and then, on top of that, we suffer the pain caused to Your crimson lotus feet. How can we tolerate this? Both types of pain break the barrier of our endurance. O Prāṇakānta, please do not abuse Your lotus feet. We remember that while roaming throughout the forest with You, You would ask us to remove the thorns that pricked Your feet. We would put Your feet on our body and remove the thorns gently and slowly. But when Your feet are pricked now, who will remove the thorns?”

Kānta kalilatāṁ mano gacchati – “We think, ‘O Kānta, surely Your soft, tender, lotus feet will be pierced by thorns, sharp grass and stone chips.’ By such thoughts, our minds begin to dispute with us.

“Our minds tell us, ‘Doesn’t Kṛṣṇa have eyes? He can see the thorns, sharp grass and stone chips as He walks, and He will avoid them.’

“To this we reply, ‘O cruel mind, the foolish cows gallop off into rough places that are full of thorns, sharp grass and stones. They do not feel them because they have hooves. But when Śyāmasundara runs after these galloping cows, will He see these things and tread carefully? His soft lotus feet will surely be pierced by thorns.’

“The mind argues, ‘O ignorant milkmaids, don’t you know that Vṛndāvana’s thorns and stones are also very soft?’

“Then we say, ‘O mind, we do not believe this. We used to remove thorns and sharp grass from Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet ourselves.’”

In this way, the gopīs quarrel with their minds. Finally, their minds say, “You can remain in such anxiety – I am going to Kṛṣṇa.”

If Kṛṣṇa says, “O gopīs, why are you so worried about Me?” the gopīs will answer, “O Kānta, You make our minds restless and disturbed with transcendental lust, so our intelligence has become dull. O Prāṇanātha, please do not roam here and there in the forest. Quickly return and give us Your darśana.”


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.31.15) describes that for the gopīs, even one moment seems like a hundred yugas when they do not have darśana of that beautiful face adorned with curling locks:

aṭati yad bhavān ahni kānanaṁ
truṭir yugāyate tvām apaśyatām
kuṭila-kuntalaṁ śrī-mukhaṁ ca te
jaḍa udīkṣatāṁ pakṣma-kṛd dṛśam


O Śyāmasundara, when You go to the forest to herd the cows during the day, the Vrajavāsīs are unable to see You and thus they feel one moment to be like a yuga. And in the evening, when You return and we see Your beautiful lotus face covered with curling locks, the blinking of our eyelids becomes painful because it obstructs our darśana. Is the Creator, who made these eyelids, ignorant, or is he foolish?

pūrvāhne kānane tumi yāo go-cāraṇe
truṭi yuga-sama haya tava adarśane
kuṭila-kuntala tava śrī-candra-vadana
darśane nimeṣa-dātā vidhira nindana


Even a fraction of a second seems like a yuga for the gopīs when they are afflicted by separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and when they meet Him, one yuga seems like a moment. This condition is called mahābhāva.

In this Text, the gopīs address Śrī Kṛṣṇa as bhavān. Bhavān is a term of honour, but here, the gopīs address Kṛṣṇa as such due to their jealous love.

Aṭati yad bhavān – The gopīs say, “O Kṛṣṇa! You are arasajña, ignorant of mellows. Even though we, who are rasajña, well-versed in mellows, are correct here, You continue to roam the forest. By roaming here and there with foolish cows, Your intelligence has become as dull as theirs. This is the effect of faulty association. By Your grazing animals all day, Your intelligence has become like that of an animal.” The gopīs, who have been separated from Kṛṣṇa all day, eagerly await His return to Vraja so that they can have darśana of His beautiful lotus face. Upon hearing the gopīs, Śrī Kṛṣṇa may say, “O vraja-devīs, you are always seeing My face. What is so special about My face when I return from cowherding?”

The vraja-devīs reply, “Kuṭila-kuntalaṁ śrī-mukhaṁ ca – Your beautiful lotus face is decorated by curly locks, but because these locks of hair are scattered all over Your face, we cannot see it.” With anger born of affection, the vraja-devīs are saying, “When this curly hair covers Your face, You are the only one to relish its sweetness. This further torments our minds, which are already burning in separation from You.”

Udīkṣatām – The gopīs say, “Furthermore, we open our eyes wide and raise our faces in an endeavour to see You, but because the Creator, who fashioned our eyelids, is foolish (dṛśāṁ pakṣma-kṛd jaḍaḥ), we cannot take complete darśana of You. This Creator, being irrational and of meagre intelligence, has created eyelids for the eyes. For darśana of such a beautiful lotus face, he has only given two eyes, and on top of that, he has covered them with eyelids that constantly close and obstruct darśana of You.”

Adhirūḍha-mahābhāva is characterised by the feeling that each moment is like a kalpa when one is separated from Kṛṣṇa, and the feeling that a kalpa is like a moment when one is meeting Him. In this Text, this bhāva is clearly visible in the vraja-devīs.

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