Uddhava's glorification of the Gopis

I have been appreciating Babaji's morning chanting of hymns, which I happily participate in each morning. He has a teacher who has given him a number of striking tunes for these Sanskrit verses, which make my "chanting of Sanskrit mantras" in need of updating. I was also inspired to make a few spontaneous recordings, using those tunes and on my SoundCloud page I have also added a few recordings of Babaji also.

Most Gaudiya Vaishnavas tend to chant songs in Bengali or common Sanskrit hymns like Rādhā-kṛpā-kaṭākṣa-stotram, but Babaji has chosen to select notable hymns or passages from the Bhagavatam itself, which is a testament to his devotion to our main shastra.

The following verses are Uddhava's famous panegyric glorifying the gopis in 10.47. These verses are unique because there is no other such praise dedicated to any devotee by another devotee found there.

After staying in Vrindavan in the association of the cowherd folk, Uddhava is so impressed by the gopis’ devotion that he glorifies them as no other devotees have been glorified in the Bhagavatam. Though he himself has been directly told by Krishna that he is his atma, he glorifies the gopis, indicating their incomparable superior status in the spiritual realm.

In his mangala verses to the third division of the Pūrva-campū (15.3) of Gopāla-campū, Srila Jiva Goswami writes a nice verse specifically glorifying Radharani based on this hymn:

śrīr āsāṁ na tulāṁ bibharti nitarām ity uddhavaḥ kīrtayan
yāsām aṅghri-rajo nanāma hariṇā yaḥ svena tulyo mataḥ |
tāsāṁ tat-priyatā-sudhākara-tanuṁ viṣvak cakorāyite-
nānenānugatāṁ samasta-mahitāṁ vandāmahe rādhikām ||
Uddhava glorified the gopis, saying that Lakshmi
could never ever be on their level.
[Even though] he is considered by Hari to be his equal,
he made his obeisance to the dust of their feet.
Amongst these gopis, we worship Radhika,
the most glorious of them all,
whose body is like the moon of love for Krishna,
transforming him into a chakora bird
which pursues her everywhere to drink its rays.
The above citation refers to verses 60 and 61 below. Krishna states that Uddhava is his equal in BhP 3.4.31.

noddhavo’ṇv api man-nyūno yad guṇair nārditaḥ prabhuḥ |
ato mad-vayunaṁ lokaṁ grāhayann iha tiṣṭhatu ||
Uddhava is not in any way inferior to me because he is never affected by the qualities of matter. Therefore he should stay here in order to teach specific knowledge of me to the world.

etāḥ parāṁ tanu-bhṛto bhuvi gopa-vadhvo
govinda eva nikhilātmani rūḍha-bhāvāḥ |
vāñchanti yad bhava-bhiyo munayo vayaṁ ca
kiṁ brahma-janmabhir ananta-kathā-rasasya ||

Among embodied beings on this earth, these cowherd damsels alone are supreme because they have achieved the highest love exclusively for Govinda, the self of the universe. Such a love is aspired for not only by people afraid of being born again but also by sages, and even by me. What else is there to be attained by birth as a brähmaëa by someone who has developed a relish for the stories of the infinite Lord? (58)

kvemāḥ striyo vanacarīr vyabhicāra-duṣṭāḥ
kṛṣṇe kva caiṣa paramātmani rūḍha-bhāvaḥ |
nanv īśvaro'nubhajato'viduṣo'pi sākṣāc
chreyas tanoty agada-rāja ivopayuktaḥ ||

What comparison can be made between these forest-dwelling women who are tainted by their infidelity [to their worldly husbands] on the one hand, and this most elevated love for Krishna, the Paramätmä, on the other. Surely the Supreme Lord grants the highest welfare to one who constantly worships Him even without knowing His reality, just as the king of medicines, heavenly ambrosia, cures all diseases even when used unwittingly. (10.47.59)

nāyaṁ śriyo'ṅga u nitānta-rateḥ prasādaḥ
svar-yoṣitāṁ nalina-gandha-rucāṁ kuto’nyāḥ |
rāsotsave’sya bhuja-daṇḍa-gṛhīta-kaṇṭha-
labdhāśiṣāṁ ya udagād vraja-vallavīnām||

Oh, the grace which was conferred on the cowherd damsels of Vraja - who got their desire fulfilled in the form of having their necks encircled by His strong arms during the rasa festival - did not descend on to the celestial damsels possessing a fragrance and splendor like a lotus or even on Çré who is exclusively attached to His bosom. Then how could others expect such mercy? (10.47.60)

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syām
vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām
yā dustyajaṁ svajanam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā
bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

Oh, let me take birth as a shrub, creeper or herb in the forests of Vrindavan, so that I will be blessed with a dust particle from the feet of these gopis. These gopis gave up their own families as well as the principles followed by the virtuous, which are so difficult for a chaste woman to abandon, and attained Govinda, for whom even the Vedas are still searching. (10.47.61)

yā vai śriyārcitam ajādibhir āpta-kāmair
yogeśvarair api yad ātmani rāsa-goṣṭhyām
kṛṣṇasya tad-bhagavataś caraṇāravindaṁ
nyastaṁ staneṣu vijahuḥ parirabhya tāpam

At the time of the Rasa Lila, these gopis took the Supreme Lord Krishna’s lotus feet, which are worshiped by the goddess Lakshmi, by Brahma and the other gods, and by the great yogis who are free from all desire, and placed them on their breasts, embracing them, and so became free of their suffering. (10.47.62)
vande nanda-vraja-strīṇāṁ pāda-reṇum abhīkṣṇaśaḥ
yāsāṁ hari-kathodgītaṁ punāti bhuvana-trayam

I constantly glorify the dust of the feet of the women of Nanda’s cowherd pastures. Their chanting of the activities of Lord Krishna purifies the entire universe. (SB 10.47.63)

You can here the recording here:


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