VMA 1.84 : The Supreme Person who wanders in Radha’s forest

Memorial to Harivansh at Madan Ter

This post came after a long hiatus -- as has often been the case with these Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta postings on VT. This one and those that followed were inspired by Premananda Baba [here also] after I went and heard one of his VMA classes at Madan Ter. I wrote in my introduction that these VMA commentaries "serve as my Vrindavan Today philosophy," which I have been developing as I actually live in Vrindavan. The idea is that there is a philosophy behind living in the Dham. You can read here and here, though some of this material is also being employed in these VMA commentaries.
This makes for an interesting reflection as I prepare to return to Vrindavan in a couple of days after two months in Gauda Mandala Bhumi. Living in Vrindavan is not an easy matter or given to everyone.

This verse follows on nicely from the previous (1.83).

mṛta-rasato’py atimādhurī-dhurīṇam|
kuvalaya-kamanīya-dhāma rādhā
pada-rasa-pūrṇa-vane bhramad bhajāmaḥ ||
We worship the Person
effulgent with the delightful light of a blue lotus,
whose nectarean beauty is sweeter
than that in all the other unlimited forms of God;
He wanders in this forest
filled with nectar of Radha's footprints.

Verses in VMA are of two kinds: some are written purely from the position of sādhakāveśa, when he is absorbed in a state of mind where he considers himself a conditioned and fallen soul, or is exhorting himself or his mind to take shelter of the external Vrindavan. Other verses, though containing a prayer of some kind, come after the description of a sphūrti, or some wondrous vision of the transcendent Vrindavan.

There are four main subjects or tattvas covered in the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta. These are Radha, Krishna, the sakhīs and Vrindavan itself. As we progress through the VMA more and more verses will deal with the sakhīs, which in Prabodhananda's terminology are not different from the kiṅkarīs, or dāsīs, or what other traditions call the mañjarīs, a term that he does not use.

In the previous verse, Saraswatipada gave a description of the splendor of the Divine Couple together, in this one he offers a meditation on Krishna’s splendor (dhāma), more delightful than a blue lotus, and on Radha’s dāsīs in the next.

Prabodhananda's Krishna is never separated from Radha, nor Radha from Krishna. And the sakhīs, who both expand and relish the Divine Lovers' pastimes, are eternally present as the participating audience, tasting the rasa in the Dham.

śrī-rādhā-mādhavayor yathā kadācin na sambhavo virahaḥ |
tad-rasa-vṛndāvanayos tathaiva paramo'vinā-bhāvaḥ ||
Just as it is impossible for Sri Sri Radha and Madhava to ever be separated, so in the very same way their rasa and Vrindavan cannot exist independently of each other. (VMA 12.2)
When Prabodhananda talks about rasa, such as in this verse, he is referring to the principal relishers of Radha and Krishna's līlā in Vrindavan. That rasa cannot exist without its āśraya and viṣaya Pair, Radha and Krishna, but without the presence of the sakhīs and kiṅkarīs, it has no fulfillment, for it requires an audience.

rādhā kṛṣṇera ei līlā ati gūḍhatara
dāsya vātsalyādi bhāve nā haya gocara
sabe eka sakhī gaṇera ihā adhikāra
sakhī haite haya ei līlāra vistāra
sakhī vinā ei līlā puṣṭa nāhi haya
sakhī līlā vistāriyā sakhī āsvādaya
These pastimes of Radha and Krishna are the most esoteric of all. Those in moods such as servitude or protectiveness cannot enter therein. Only those who have the mood of Radharani's girlfriends are authorized to enter into this realm, and it is from them that these pastimes develop. Without the sakhīs, these līlās cannot flourish, for they are the ones who both expand and relish them. (CC 2.8.200-202)
The following verse from the Sudhā-nidhi also makes the special position of the kiṅkarīs clear:

kiṁ brūmo’nyatra kuṇṭhī-kṛtaka-janapade dhāmny api śrī-vikuṇṭhe
rādhā-mādhurya-vettā madhupatir atha tan-mādhurīṁ vetti rādhā |
vṛndāraṇya-sthalīyaṁ parama-rasa-sudhā-mādhurīṇāṁ dhurīṇā
tad dvandvaṁ svādanīyaṁ sakalam api dadau rādhikā-kiṅkarīṇām||
Madhupati Krishna alone knows Radha's sweetness
and Radha alone knows his [in Vrindavan and nowhere else].
so what else can we say of other ordinary places
which are shrunk into insignificance by Vaikuntha,
the abode of the Lord [when even there this rasa is unknown]?
This abode of Vrinda's forest is richly endowed
with the supreme sweetness of Yugala rasa
and has bestowed everything related to its relishing
upon Radhika's kiṅkarīs. (RRSN 175)
Nobody in Vaikuntha, not even Lakshmi, knows the sweetness of Radha or Krishna, but by the grace of Vrindavan Dham, the kiṅkarīs have access to that prema-rasa.

The words parama-rasa-sudhā-mādhurīṇāṁ dhurīṇā mirror those of the VMA verse, rūpāmṛta-rasato’py atimādhurī-dhurīṇam in one of the many linguistic features common to these two works. The theme is also reflected: Krishna's beauty exceeds that of all other forms of the Godhead, including Narayan in Vaikuntha. Although these forms are also inseparable from Krishna in terms of bhagavat-tattva or svarūpa, Krishna alone is the Svayam Bhagavān, which means he is the supreme abode of rasa, or the akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti, the embodiment of all varieties of loving interaction, most of all in the relationship of erotic love, which exists in its most perfect and intense form only in Vrindavan and for which only the community of devotees imbued with the spirit of rādhā-dāsya has an entry pass.

The nature of the Svayam Bhagavān in Vrindavan is distinguished by four particular kinds of sweetness (mādhurī):

caturdhā mādhurī tasya vraja eva virājate |
aiśvarya-krīḍayor veṇos tathā śrī-vigrahasya ca ||
There are four kinds of intoxicating charm that exist exclusively in Braj. They are those of his (1) glorious divinity, (2) his play, (3) his flute and (4) his beautiful form. (LBh. 1.5.526)
Or, in a slightly different version given by the same Sri Rupa Goswami in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu:

līlā-premṇā priyādhikyaṁ mādhuryaṁ veṇu-rūpayoḥ |
ity asādhāraṇaṁ proktaṁ govindasya catuṣṭayam||
Govinda is said to have four unique features that other forms of the Godhead do not. They are: (1) the greater dearness of his pastimes and (2) his beloved associates, (3) the sweetness of his flute and (4) his physical form. (BRS 2.1.43)
Although Prabodhananda's verse concentrates on Krishna's physical beauty, all four of these qualities are indicated. As to Krishna's physical beauty,

asamānordha-mādhurya-taraṅgāmṛta-vāridhiḥ |
jaṅgama-sthāvarollāsi-rūpo gopendra-nandanaḥ ||
The son of the king of the cowherds is an ocean of nectar, with waves of unequalled and unexcelled sweetness, a beauty that excites both the moving and non-moving creatures. (Lbh 1.5.538)
Here are some of the pramāṇas that Rupa Goswami gives from various sources in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta to show how Krishna's beauty fits this description:

Quoted from a Tantra [an example that also uses the comparison to Cupid as seen and discussed in the previous verse]—

nīrājya-pādābja-nakhāñcalasya |
kutrāpy adṛṣṭa-śruta-ramya-kānter
dhyānaṁ paraṁ nanda-sutasya vakṣye ||
I will now describe to you the topmost meditation on the form of the son of Nanda, whose radiant beauty has never been seen or heard of anywhere, the toenails of whose lotus feet are worshiped by the form and charm of countless millions of Cupids. (LBh. 1.5.539)
kā stry aṅga te kala-padāyata-mūrcchitena
sammohitā 'rya-padavīṁ na calet trilokyām|
trailokya-saubhagam idaṁ ca nirīkṣya rūpaṁ
yad go-dvija-druma-mṛgān pulakāny abibhrat ||
O dear one! What woman is there in the three worlds who would not forsake her vows of chastity upon being enchanted by your melodious flute song? Even the cows, birds, trees and beasts become thrilled upon seeing your form, the most graceful in all the three worlds. (BhP 10.29.40, LBh 1.5.540, BRS 2.1.216)
yan martya-līlaupayikaṁ sva-yoga-
māyā-balaṁ darśayatā gṛhītam|
vismāpanaṁ svasya ca saubhagarddheḥ
paraṁ padaṁ bhūṣaṇa-bhūṣaṇāṅgam||
The Lord appeared in this mortal world through the agency of his internal potency, Yogamāyā. The form he accepted was perfectly suited for this purpose. This extraordinarily beautiful form was so exquisite that he himself was astounded by it. It was the epitome of auspiciousness and the ornament of all ornaments never previously beheld by anyone. (BhP 3.2.12, BRS 2.1.215)
aparikalita-pūrvaḥ kaś camatkāra-kārī
sphurati mama garīyān eṣa mādhurya-pūraḥ |
ayam aham api hanta prekṣya yaṁ lubdhacetāḥ
sarabhasam upabhoktuṁ kāmaye rādhikeva ||
[Krishna thinks to himself on seeing his own reflection:] "What astonishing form full of beauty is this that has appeared before me? Never before have I seen such profound beauty. Seeing it, even I am filled with greed and want to run and embrace it, as though I myself had become Radha. (Lalita-mādhava 8.34, BRS 2.1.217)
Krishna is described as being "effulgent with the delightful light of a blue lotus," (kuvalaya-kamanīya-dhāma). As we have seen already (1.83) and will see many times again, Prabodhananda loves the metaphor of effulgence to describe both Radha and Krishna.

Finally, Krishna is the one "who wanders in this forest filled with nectar of Radha's footprints" (rādhā-pada-rasa-pūrṇa-vane bhramat). From the time of the Gīta-govinda, Krishna, the all-attractive one, is depicted as subordinate to Radha's love. There, Krishna goes searching for Radha, not the other way around. And so it is with Prabodhananda Saraswati, for whom Radha's love is greater than Krishna's supreme lordship.

itas tatas tām anusṛtya rādhikām
anaṅga-bāṇa-vraṇa-khinna-mānasaḥ |
kṛtānutāpaḥ sa kalinda-nandinī
taṭānta-kuñje viṣasāda mādhavaḥ ||
His mind afflicted by the wounds inflicted by Cupid's arrows, he wandered here and there in search of Radhika. Overcome by remorse, he came to a bower by the banks of the Yamuna and there started to lament. (GG 3.2, CC 2.8.107)


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