Sri Upadesamrta: Verse Nine, Part One

krishna_meets_rukmani_in_dwarka_wj62The following is an installment of our classroom series: Sri Upadesamrta, with Illuminations by Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami, published by Gosai Publishers, 2009. View past installments, here.

vaikunthaj janito vara madhu-puri tatrapi rasotsavad
vrndaranyam udara-pani-ramanat tatrapi govardhanah
radha-kundam ihapi gokula-pateh premamrtaplavanat
kuryad asya virajato giri-tate sevam viveki na kah

Because Sri Krishna appeared there, Mathura is considered to be spiritually superior to Vaikuntha. Greater than Mathura is the forest of Vrindavana because this was where the rasa-lila pastimes of the Lord took place. Govardhana Hill is considered to be superior to Vrindavana because Krishna performed wonderful pastimes there and raised it with his hand. However, Radha-kunda is superior to Govardhana because it is brimming with the nectar of divine love for the Lord of Gokula. Which intelligent person will not render service to this place which is situated at the foot of Govardhana?

Illumination by B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami

In his Upadesamrta, Rupa Goswami leaps from Vaikuntha in one stride to Mathura where everything is available in a very clear and substantial way. In one stride he comes to the Krishna conception of Godhead. But in Brhat-bhagavatamrta, Sanatana Goswami has filled in the gap for us. In Brhat-bhagavatamrta Gopa-kumara begins from the lowest stage of devotion, gradually making progress through different levels, and at last he comes to the Krishna conception. According to the gradation of consciousness in its development from provincial to universal, we may find ourselves in so many different planets or planes of existence.

Bhuloka is where we are—the world of our experience, the world of our sense perception. It is a peculiar place where we have free choice. Other places are only meant for us to enjoy or suffer our good or bad deeds. But in this human species, in Bhuloka, we can take an independent step. In other places, more or less, we have no independence. Bhuvah is the mental sphere. The effect of our mental acquisition takes us to our present position of experience. It is not by accident that we are here in this world of our experience. We have acquired such a position by our previous karma and the area of our previous karma is called Bhuvah. This physical sphere is only an outcome of that mental sphere. The present world of experience is the product of our previous mental impulses.

Svah means the plane of decision-making. What to do? What not to do? What I like; what I dislike. This is called sankalpa/ vikalpa. I like this; I don’t like that – this is the soil of the mental world of acceptance and rejection.

In this way, in this mundane world, there are different planes of existence – Bhu, Bhuvah, Svah, Mahar, Jana, Tapa, and Satyaloka. The negative side includes these seven planes of life from Bhuloka up to Satyaloka where the creator, Lord Brahma, lives. The master of the whole world of experience of the negative side lives in Satyaloka. The negative side, consisting of the combination of the three modes of material nature that produces this world, finishes in Satyaloka. Then begins Viraja, the verge of the equilibrium of the negative side – the last limit of material consciousness and the highest position aspired for by the Buddhists. And the verge of equilibrium of the positive side is Brahmaloka, the beginning of the ‘Land of Service’ – the equipoised verge of the positive world aspired for by the Sankarites.

Then next is Sivaloka. On that side there is Sada-Siva and he is as the master of the maya. Vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh—there in Sivaloka, Siva is a devotee of Narayana, representing himself as a token of service in Vaikuntha. That is the position of Sada-Siva in Sivaloka. Sada-Siva and Maha-Visnu are almost one and the same. On that side Sada-Siva is a devotee, and on this side there is Rudra. The marginal position between the serving world and the enjoying world is Siva. That aspect that is towards the enjoying side is Rudra and that which is towards the serving side is Sada-Siva. The real position of Siva is a very difficult thing to understand. It is marginal, two aspects combined – mainly tyaga, sometimes bhoga, and sometimes service. Siva-tattva means marginal. Siva-tattva, guru-tattvadhama-tattva and Sri-vigraha-tattva – these four things are very difficult to understand.

After Sivaloka we find Vaikuntha, the land made known to the world by Sri Ramanujacarya. In that area of the paravyoma, there are so many Vaikunthas in so many different phases of the pastimes of Lord Narayana, who resides in the center. Then there is Ayodhya with Ramacandra. Laksmi-Narayana are in Vaikuntha, the plane of worship with splendor and grandeur, but Ayodhya is better than Vaikuntha. Why? In Ayodhya there is the first introduction of vatsalya-rasa. The variegated nature of ananda is not to be found in Vaikuntha. In Vaikuntha there is no father or mother of either Narayana or Laksmi-devi. But vatsalya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, and madhurya-rasa in the real sense may not be found there in Ayodhya. Madhurya-rasa is not distributed there extensively. Only Sita is there, Ramacandra’s affectionate wife. And there also Ramacandra is under the pressure of niti, moral laws.

Dvaraka is between Ayodhya and Mathura. There we find Krishna being worshiped in different rasas. Krishna is with many queens in Dvaraka and the devotees are serving him in different ways. Unlike Ramacandra, he is free and not controlled by the laws of this world, where he has to sacrifice even his heart and the truth to the false opinion of his subjects. He is free in Dvaraka and the prospects for his lila are also of a variegated nature. Madhurya-rasa is also there in Dvaraka, but it is not fully represented. Krishna is the son of Vasudeva and Devaki but he is aspiring after the sweet playful stage of Vrindavana. Krishna in Dvaraka is conscious of his lila in Vrindavana but he can’t go there. He has self-imposed duties and engagements. He feels in his heart that, “I was very happy when I was playing during my youth in Vrindavana, but now duty does not allow me time for this.”

From Dvaraka we come to Mathura mandala. There we find Krishna to be more comprehensive, more free, an autocrat, and free from the contamination of grandeur and politics. Krishna’s birth ceremony is found in Mathura, not in Vaikuntha or Dvaraka, so Mathura is greater because service of a higher type can be found there. By the measurement of rasa, Mathura holds a superior position because the rasa is more variegated there. The measurement of high and low is according to the rasa – the actual measurement of the ecstasy that can be felt by the servitors.

There are various conceptions of Krishna: Dvaraka Krishna is there, Mathura Krishna is there, but the highest conception of Krishna is Krishna in Vrindavana. Vrindavana Krishna does not care for Mathura and Dvaraka. Vrindavana is above Dvaraka and Mathura. In Dvaraka and Mathura Krishna is a political man. The Krishna of Mathura is different to the Krishna of Vrindavana. We must always remember this. In Vrindavana there is free love, free faith. There Krishna is in a playful mood, playing freely in a very plain place where his friends are also of a similar nature. He does not show any gorgeous, kingly style. All these Krishnas are both one and different – that is acintya-bhedabheda, distinction and non-distinction. There is a difference in function and mood. Within the Krishna conception we find so much variety according to his temperament and satisfaction. It is inconceivable. The unified and differentiated character of reality is inconceivable; its secret is in the hand of the Supreme power. It does not depend upon our whim. Still, that differentiated character of the Absolute will be seen differently according to the subjective relationship we have with Him.

mallanam asanir nrnam nara-varah strinam smaro murtiman
gopanam sva-jano ‘satam ksiti-bhujam sasta sva-pitroh sisuh
mrtyur bhoja-pater virad avidussam tattvam param yoginam
vrsninam para-devateti vidito rangam gatah sagrajah

When Sri Krishna entered the arena with his brother Balarama, he was regarded by the spectators in different ways. The wrestlers considered him to be like a thunderbolt. The men thought of him as the best of men. To the ladies, he appeared to be the god of love personified. The cowherd men looked upon Krishna as their own kinsman. The vassal kings saw him as a great chastiser. His parents saw him as their most beloved child. Kamsa, the king of the Bhoja Dynasty, perceived him as death personified. The foolish saw him as the Universal Form. To the yogis, he appeared to be the indwelling supersoul. To the members of the Vrsni Dynasty, he appeared to be their most revered Lord.1

When Krishna was entering the arena to meet with Kamsa, different persons saw him in different ways. It was the same Krishna entering, but different classes of people were looking at him, but seeing him in different ways. But they are one and the same Krishna. That is also possible. According to their adhikara they saw him differently. Some saw him as a foe, some as a friend, some as their son, some as a politician, and some as a king. In this way there were persons of different categories and according to there own position, they were seeing him differently. Krishna satisfies everyone. Even the animals in Vrindavana become ecstatic when they come in connection with Krishna.

barhapidam nata-vara-vapuh karnayoh karnikaram
bibhrad vasah kanaka-kapicam vaijayantim ca malam
randhran venor adhara-sudhayapurayan gopa-vrndair
vrndaranyam sva-pada-ramanam pravisad-gita-kirtih

With his head adorned with a peacock-feather, blue karnikara flowers on his ears, wearing yellow garments as bright as gold, and the Vaijayanti garland around his neck, that best of dancers, Sri Krishna, entered the forest of Vrindavana and beautified it with the marks of his lotus feet. He filled the holes of his flute with the nectar of his lips, as the cowherd boys sang his glories.2

Krishna in Vrindavana differs from Krishna in Govardhana. In Vrindavana there is free mixing by Krishna without any hesitation in connection with other camps of the Gopis. That is a general rasa-lila. At Govardhana there are only selected groups – both the camp of Radharani and Candravali are to be found there. But our need is the exclusive group – the group of Radharani. Radha-kunda is only for the selected group of Radharani, not for any other. Rupa Goswami has mentioned this. Radha-kunda is the highest position where only Radharani and her own confidential group approach to serve Krishna and Krsna, in his full-fledged love, comes to cooperate with her service. The highest conception of Krishna is at Radha-kunda.

  1. Bhag.10.43.17 []
  2. Bhag. 10.21.5 []


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