The Vrajavasis’ Special Love for Krishna

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Question: After the Govardhana episode, the Bhāgavatam makes several statements that the Vrajavāsīs (vrajaukasaḥ) were aware of Kṛṣṇa as Īśvara:

  • “They worshipped Kṛṣṇa with great respect”ānarcuḥ kṛṣṇaṁ ca gata-vismayāḥ (SB 10.26.24);
  • The cowherd men desired to see the abode of Kṛṣṇanaḥ sva-gatiṁ sūkṣmām upādhāsyad adhīśvaraḥ (SB 10.28.11).

Gauḍīya ācāryas in their commentaries mention that the Vrajavāsīs did identify Kṛṣṇa as Īśvara but that did not diminish their relationship with Him as a lover, son, or friendna tu vasudevārjunādaya iva aiśvarya-jñānoparāgāt sva-sambandha-śaithilyavanto babhūvur and adhīśvaratā-jñāne’pi svābhāvika-putratādi-vijñānānupamardāt.

Is such cognition of Kṛṣṇa as Īśvara intermittent as per Kṛṣṇa’s will or was it totally absent in the Vrajavāsīs? I’m assuming that such cognition could never diminish the love they have for Him.

Answer: Yes, it is by Kṛṣṇa’s will, and this further increases their love for Kṛṣṇa. The real intention of these types of descriptions however is for us to understand this pointthat their love is so great that even if they cognize Kṛṣṇa as Iśvara, their mood does not change. As you know, Kṛṣṇa has two sides to His personality—aiśvarya and mādhurya. Aiśvarya refers to His super-human activities such as lifting Govardhana Hill. Such an act cannot be performed by any human being. Mādhurya refers to His human-like behavior such as tending cows. What we have to keep in mind is that His mādhurya exists based on His aiśvarya but it remains concealed. However, at times it may manifest because it is needed to protect His devotees. When that happens, the devotees of Vraja appreciate it and do not lose their prema for Him. Rather, they think, “How wonderful it is that our Kṛṣṇa is so majestic that He is honored by great devas like Indra and Varuṇa. He is the master of the universe.” This is the supremacy of their prema. Kṛṣṇa does not use His aiśvarya to impress the Vrajavāsīs but to protect them. This increases their prema. Kṛṣṇa loves the Vrajavāsīs as much as they love Him. Therefore, when the need arises, His aiśvarya becomes manifest. Without aiśvarya, He would not be able to give protection.

One may raise a doubt—then why did He manifest His aiśvarya when mother Yaśodā asked Him to open His mouth to see if He has eaten clay, or when she wanted to bind Him. This was not done to protect His devotees. The reply is that in these instances, Yogamāyā made Kṛṣṇa’s aiśvarya become manifest to protect Kṛṣṇa.    

Question: The superior position of the Vrajavāsīs was depicted in Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta as those who never aspired “to attain something different than what/who they were,” in contrast to devotees who may aspire to be like another devotee or to attain a specific place for performing bhakti. Even the sixteen thousand queens of Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā aspired for the dust of Vrajabhūmi; hence Vraja is extraordinary. However, the commentators mention that the gopas experienced more bliss in seeing Kṛṣṇaloka, after the pastime where Varuṇa kidnapped Nanda Mahārāja. How are we to understand their bliss at seeing the spiritual world?

Answer: The bliss of the gopas was not so much from seeing Kṛṣṇaloka but from knowing that in their next lives, they will all be together with Kṛṣṇa. That is the implied sense. The only reason they asked Kṛṣṇa to show them their destination in the next life was to make sure they would not be separated from Him. Once they realized that they will be together, they were joyous.

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Question: Are the secondary rasas experienced in Goloka Vṛndavana? For example, with whom does Kṛṣṇa experience chivalry, wonder, and ghastliness? Could it be understood that a primary reason for the material world is to facilitate Kṛṣṇa’s experience of these secondary rasas, as opposed to the idea that the material realm is a ‘prison house’ for baddha jīvas?

Answer: Yes, that is right. 

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Question: There are many cows, trees, and plants in Goloka. Are there jīvas in such bodies? My understanding was that upon liberation, we would obtain spiritual bodies in one of the five primary rasas, not animal or plant bodies.

Answer: They are eternal residents of eternal Goloka. If we accept that this Vṛndāvana is non-different from Goloka Vṛndāvana, then it is proper to think that the cows etc. here are also residents of Goloka.

On another note, it is also described that if a sādhaka in Vṛndāvana commits an offense, then he may be born as a plant etc. in Vṛndāvan as an outcome of the offense.

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