Four Dear Friends

By Sri Nayanananda Thakura

Amongst the assembly of priya-sakhas1 four are outstanding. Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama, and Kinkini are the foremost among Krishna’s beloved boyfriends, being in full knowledge of all his secrets. They are equally aware of both types of Krishna’s lilas—those that are agopya (suitable for being revealed) as well as those that are gopya (appropriate to be concealed). All of the confidential Vraja-lilas like vastra-harana (the stealing of the gopis clothes) are fully known to these four boys.

One day the gopis assembled together and traveled to the bank of the Yamuna in order to perform puja to the Goddess Katyayani. Leaving their garments on the riverbank they immersed themselves in the water and engaged in water-sports in a playful spirit. Although situated elsewhere at the time, Yogeshvara Bhagavan could understand everything from within himself, and quickly came to that spot along with his confidential boy friends. For the purpose of fulfilling the cherished desires of the gopikas, he secretly stole all of their clothes. Collecting the garments with the help of his friends headed by Sridama, he climbed up a kadamba tree and started laughing and joking along with them. Srimad Bhagavatam 10.22.8-9 states,

Krishna, the master mysticism, was aware of what the gopis were doing, and thus he went there surrounded by his boyfriends in order to award the gopis the perfection of their endeavor. Taking the girls’ garments he quickly climbed to the top of the kadamba tree. Then, as he laughed loudly and his companions also laughed, he jokingly addressed the gopis.

In Jiva Goswami’s Laghu-tosani Bhagavatam commentary it is stated,

In the verse beginning with the words bhagavan api the use of vaysayaih (with the friends of the same age) indicates balaih (with boys) and also sakhibhih (with his cowherd boy friends). Being surrounded by them , he arrived on the scene. It should be understood that these are the supremely intimate and internal friends Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama, and Kinkini. This is also confirmed in the Gautamiya Tantra thus:

‘The greatly famous Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama, and Kinkini are the embodiments of Sri Krishna’s of antahkarana, being non-different from his very self and therefore they are equally venerable with scented flowers as is Krishna.”

“Thus being the personifications of his antahkarana feature, they represent his intelligence, egoism, heart, and mind.”

This is the authoritative statement of the Goswami. These four sakhas are not different from Krishna himself. Their dress and ornaments are impossible to describe in writing. The embodiment of Krishna’s intelligence is the gopa named Sridama; the embodiment of his egoism is Sudama; the embodiment of his heart is Vasudama; the embodiment of his mind is Kinkini. There are no confidential pastimes that Sri Krishna Chandra secretly performs in Vraja that is not witnessed by these four boys. Truly, one is never abandoned by one’s own intelligence, ego, heart, and mind; in all activities these accompany one, while always remaining in the background. All of Krishna’s lilas performed in Vraja throughout his three different ages—balya (infancy), pauganda (childhood), and kishore (adolescence)—are never enacted without these particular boys. There is not a single thing about Krishna that they are unaware of, from his relationships with parental associates up to the extent of his dealings in amorous love sports.

Other boys—the priya-narma sakhas—are accomplices in the gopis’ pastimes with Krishna, and different members of this class will participate in different portions of these lilas. The priya-narmas headed by Subala, Arjuna, and others thus continually sport in the amusements enacted between the gopas and gopis. However, the priya-sakhas can understand the internal intricacies of all these pastimes but never reveal such secrets externally for fear of causing discord in the flow of rasa. Again, among the priya-sakhas the above-mentioned boys embody the indwelling witness (antahkarana) of Sri Krishna, and they are completely full to overflowing with krishnananda.

This article is an edited excerpt of Sriman Dasarath-suta’s English translation of Nayanananda Thakura’s 18th Century Bengali text Preyo-bhakti-rasarnava. The Thakura hails from a sakhya rasa lineage in the line of Nityananda Prabhu’s associate Sundarananda, an incarnation of the dvadasa gopla Sudama of Vraja-lila. His lineage is still current to this day with its sripat in Mangala-dihi, West Bengal.

  1. Priya-sakhas are one of the four principal groups of Krishna and Balarama’s cowherd friends. The priya-sakhas are in pure fraternal love not mixed with any of the other rasas of Vraja. []

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57 Responses to Four Dear Friends

  1. gaurasundara das

    I think I remember hearing once that this is the original manifestation of the catur-vyuha. Is that correct?

  2. Hare Krsna! Wow, you’ve really blown my mind with this one! What a beautiful description of Krsna’s intimate cowherd boyfriends…I am floored!

  3. Advaita das has made the following comment about the present article:

    The Nayanananda Thakur whose booklet is quoted in this article is not the same as the Parshad of Mahaprabhu, Nayanananda Mishra. This Nayanananda Thakur is not necessarily most authoritative. He comes 3rd in the parampara from one Panuya Gopal of Beerbhoom. Panuya Gopal was a sisya of Sundarananda Gopal, who was a Parshad of Mahaprabhu. Being the 4th generation disciple of a Parshad of Mahaprabhu does not necessarily make one an infallible authority. As we all know, Advaita Prabhu Himself rejected even three of His very own sons for not being in line with His teachings.

    Indeed this comment does sound in line with the well known teaching in our tradition which states that there are certain intimate pastimes of the Divine Couple which not even sakhis such as Lalita and Vishaka witness but are the exclusive realm of the manjaris. No male is allowed in those pastimes for the reason that the service is to be rendered to the Divine Couple with special leaning towards Srimati Radharani.

    To attempt to rob Radharani of Her position does not sound in line with the teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami.

    with respects,

    Bhaktikanda dasi

    • The point of Nayanananda Thakura is simply that one’s intelligence, ego, mind, and heart go everywhere one goes. This is a beautiful and spiritual conclusion on the comments of Sri Jiva Goswami mercifully shared by one steeped in sakhya rasa. It does not mean that these sakhas participate in all of Radha Krishna’ lilas, as the article itself mentions by distinguishing them from the priyanarma sakhas. Obviously they are also distinguished and more so from the gopis/manjaris. The article is also repesentative of the Thakura’s bhava, in which he feels that sakhya rasa is the best and resons accordingly. Most would be doing exceptionally well to have as much bhava as the author.

      Your statement, “To attempt to rob Radharani of Her position does not sound in line with the teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami” sounds like a very mundane take on something very spiritual. The article represents Rupa Goswami’s teachings on sakhya rasa taken to their spiritual/emotional conclusion. Indeed the author cites Rupa Goswami’s Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu extensively. Every devotee reasons why their bhava/rasa is subjectively the best, even while knowing that objectively speaking gopi bhava affords the most intimacy.

      • Madan Gopal das

        I did not see this comment before submitting mine… Thank you Swami for emphasizing bhava here over tattva. As bhava and tattva don’t necessarily match, and their presentation may appear different, I can see that argument and logic are not the proper tools to use in discussion of this article. While I also recognize that Bhaktikanda may be challenging this article out of some type of bhava, I find it a little unbecoming and therefore challenge her comments in the realm of logic/tattva.

    • Madan Gopal das

      You seem to use two fallacies of argument in your comment here.

      First, you fault the source. Citing Advaita dasji’s commentary (which closely mirrors that which is footnoted at the end of the article) you cast doubt on Nayanananda Thakur’s placement in parampara. Then simultaneously Advaita dasji admits the fault in this logic citing the example of Sri Advaita prabhu’s sons. This doesn’t appear to do much for arguments’ sake except to cast some doubt on the article’s authenticity and therefore validity. Pretty weak attempt there. Whatever the point of the comment is, you do not address the tattva the Thakur has presented.

      Next, you utilize a straw man argument. You accuse someone (I suppose Nayanananda Thakur) of trying to “rob” Radharani of her position. Where has Thakur suggested anything of the sort in this article? You could be accused of actually reading this piece if you suggested that Thakur proposes that the priya-sakhas are “witness” to the most intimate pastimes. But to suggest that someone is arguing that these sakhas are more intimate than manjari’s, or that they experience more than manjari’s or that they might rob the svayam sakti of her sakti makes you just appear desperate to establish a sakhi-bhava agenda, what to speak of making you look like a bad reader.

      Please, without an agenda, could you give some good argument against this presentation?

      • Pardon – without an agenda? I am not sure of your meaning there but, in any case, I believe the argument already presented is as good as any, and I will repeat it: The Thakur, if indeed he presents as fact that the cowherd boys cited witness every single intimate pastime of the Divine Couple, then that is a diversion from Rupa Gosvamipada’s conclusion. Nothing more nothing less was said.

        As for the comment (not ‘accusation’) of someone “robbing Srimati Radharani of Her position”, it is a comment about and directed to whomever it may apply. Madhurya rasa is glorified for a reason. It shows the supreme position of Srimati Radharani. According Rupa Gosvamipada, from the point of view of bhava, there is indeed no need to compare rasas – the necessity simply doesn’t arise. But it is imperative that distinctions are made from the neutral point of view. If not, Rupa Gosvami would not have spoken of hierarchy of rasas. He would have not taken the trouble to elaborate on how madhurya rasa is inclusive of all other rasas. Moreover, he would not have been the designated person, by Mahaprabhu, to inform this very lucky world of the unprecedented gift of Mahaprabhu, i.e. the crowned position of madhurya rasa and every jiva’s access to it.

        • Unfortunately your comment “To attempt to rob Radharani of Her position does not sound in line with the teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami,” does seem to be more of an accusation than anything else, given the context. The context is that Nayananda Thakura is being questioned with regard to his fidelity to the siddhanta of Rupa Goswami. But, if as you say it is not and accusation, I accept that. Still it seems over the top to suggest that anyone following Rupa Goswami’s Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu would attempt this—to rob Radha of her position, even if it were possible. You say it is directed to whomever it may apply. Why write this if you don’t think it applies to someone? Even as a warning it seems unwarranted, and to me a bit militant. But then again, one cannot but appreciate a strong sentiment for Radha. Even Krishna’s sakhas have that, and much more so than most readers and writes on the internet today.

          Again I think the context of the Thakura’s statements regarding the measure of the four friends involvement in Krishna’s romantic pastimes makes it clear that he is speaking of this with regard to the esoteric standing of the four as manifestations of Radhanath’s intelligence, ego, mind, and heart. After writing that “There is no confidential pastime that Krishna-candra secretly performs in Vraja that is not witnessed by these four boys,” he clarifies this remark by stating, “Truly one is never abandoned by one’s own intelligence, ego, heart, and mind; in all activities these accompany one, while always remaining in the background.” These four are not ordinary jivas or even liberated ones. They are Krishna’s atahkarana! Is his antahkarana not aware of his actions?

          At any rate, these two groups—gopas and gopis—argue even in Goloka. Although I would score this one for the gopas if that is what is behind all of this.

          • Luke Matthewson

            At any rate, these two groups—gopas and gopis—argue even in Goloka. Although I would score this one for the gopas if that is what is behind all of this.

            One of the essential qualities of gopas is that they like to argue just for fun, or for arguing sake alone, or for what others would say ‘for no real reason at all’. This is exactly what is shown here.

            Very much similar to Srila Prabhupada’s own approach, which — if I may add — may find many people unprepared and often off guard. Gopas usually use that moment of astonishment in others to step into an assertive advance, so from a distance it seems they win the argument. However in reality, they simply showcase their boot kicking nature in the art of communication, toward a conclusion that was already set and inherently understood — but not obtained in their own way 🙂

            In every courtroom they’d be excused for wasting judge’s precious time, but in the playroom of divine lila they’re rather charming fellows no one can live without.

          • Actually some of the gopas are quite astute and expert presenting their case. Sri Rupa says this about Subala sakha:

            hari-dayitam harinam harid-vasanam
            subalam kuvalaya-nayanam
            naya-nandita-bandhavam vande

            “Subala’s appearance is described as follows: “I glorify Subala, so beloved of Hari, whose bodily effulgence is brighter than gold. He has a garland around his neck and wears emerald green clothes. His eyes are like lotus flowers. He brings the highest pleasure to his friends by his clever insights on life.”

            Comment: Naya means wisdom in general such as the clever maxims like those of Chanakya, which he would cite on the appropriate occasion. This is characteristic of the role of Subala in plays like Danakeli, etc. Naya also means the knowledge of a clever tactician.

          • Luke’s description sounds more like something Madhu Mangala would do. Is he one of the priya-narmas? I have also heard that he is in a category of his own.

          • Madhumangala is a vidhusakha and a priyanarma. “Vidhusaka” means “buffoon.” He is the origin of the “Farcical Narada” notion—a brahmin joker. So he is differentiated by caste and temperament.

  4. Elsewhere on the Harmonist (I believe in the comments section on Sakyam’s Razor) Advaita’s blog is cited pointing to his “review” of O My friend. Although it was proposed that the points he raised could be discussed, only his initial paragraph was addressed (by myself). Personally I did not find the rest of his points compelling enough to warrant addressing. But one of these points has been inadvertently addressed in this article’s byline.

    Advaita asked about Babhru’s reference to sakhya rasa lineages in Bengal. About which Adviata asked questioning the veracity of Babhru’s statement, “Which lineages would that be? Is Babhru Das acquainted with large communities of sakhya bhava upasakas in Bengal? Where are they located? If they do exist, why do they have no representatives in Braja, like all the other Gaudiya Vaishnava factions?”

    From what he has written on his blog in reference to the current article on sakhya rasa it appears that Advaita das was already aware of the lineage of the sakhya rasa Nayananda Thakura when he made this comment. So why challenge Babhru’s statement?

    I perceive an unnecessary militancy in all of this in the name of siddhanta. No one that I know of is challenging the objective supremacy of manjari bhava in terms of the intimacy it affords and the pleasure it gives to Sri Krishna. But some Gaudiya Vaisnavas have an affinity for sakhya rasa. Let them have their day.

    Nayanananda Thakura makes clear that his position with regard to sakhya rasa is his own, although one that he has arrived at by following the siddhanta of Rupa Goswami with regard to sakhya rasa as presented by Sri Rupa in Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu. He does not try to teach that Rupa Goswami himself says the highest reach of rasa is sakhya rasa. Again he reaches the natural and ecstatic conclusion of the teaching of Sri Rupa on this particular sentiment of aesthetic rapture.

  5. Swamiji, it has become very clear to me in my respectful hearing of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s words over the years that, although he may have suggested that Bhaktivedanta Swami was enthusiastic about sakhya lila, he nevertheless made it also clear that the line we follow is a line of acaryas whose goal it to cultivate madhurya sentiments. Thus even if the argument is that there is great glory in sakhya rasa, still the specifc culture of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is to assist the mood of Mahaprabhu which was Krishna experiencing the feelings of Radharani. Cultivating the sentiments of Subala and other friends does indeed take away one’s attention from that goal. Just as Sanatana Goswami pointed out that Vaikuntha, although transcendental and highly exalted, is not enough for Krishna bhaktas, shakhya rasa, although very close to the ultimate goal, still is not on equal foot. So, even if inadvertendly, as it seems to have been the case with Nayanananda Thakur, a bhakta chooses sakhya rasa, such sentiment does retain attention that could go a step further. The question remaining then, I suppose, is this: How much making Srimati Radharani less central does please Krishna? Or, putting it another way, who pleases Krishna the most?

    • Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja made it clear that madhurya rasa is the main emphasis of the Gaudiya sampradaya, but he also made it clear that sakhya rasa is included within this sampradaya. Indeed this is a historical fact. Nayananda Thakura is a prominent member of a sakhya rasa lineage within the Gaudiya Sampradaya that is alive and well today. And such lineages existed at the time of Mahaprabhu as well. They were initially inspired by Nityananda Prabhu. Babhru refers to them in O My Friend with reference to Mans Broo’s (Bhrigupada dasa) doctoral thesis As Good as God. This book might be worth reading in this regard. At the time of Mahaprabhu such lineages existed along with madhurya rasa lineages and no one argued that they were something to be discouraged. Syamananda continued to respect his sakhya rasa guru Hridaya Caitanya after he was taken into the fold of madhurya, and this occured after the Goswamis had written their principle books. So I do not think it is accurate to say that someone here or there may embrace sakhya rasa in our sampradaya but this should not be taken as an example to follow, but rather discouraged at large. Indeed because Pujyapda Bhaktivednata Swami Prabhupda embraced sakhya rasa, you can expect that a good number of his disciples will as well. As Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja once said to me when I raised a similar point, “No harm.”

      Now there is a reason why the original sakhya rasa lineages have receded more to the background, but I do not think it is an altogether spiritual one, but rather more of a forced intellectual one and in some instances an economical one. Personally I do not believe that the jiva’s rasa is an entirely independent choice on its part. There is plenty going on in the background.

      As for assisting Mahaprabhu in his mood, this may take more than one sentiment. He is after all he is a complex personality. Kaviraja Krsnadas looks at it like this:

      subala yaiche purve krsna-sukhera sahaya
      gaura-sukha-dana-hetu taiche rama-raya
      purve yaiche radhara lalita sahaya-pradhana
      taiche svarupa-gosai rakhe mahaprabhura prana

      “Previously, when Krishna was personally present, his friend Subala made him happy (when he felt separation from Radha). Similarly, Rama Ray helped give happiness to Gaura (when in the mood of Krishna he felt separation from Radha). Similarly, just as Lalita was the chief friend of Radha (and tendered to her in her separation from Krishna) so too did Svarupa Damodara tender to and sustain the life of Mahaprabhu (when he was feeling separation from Krishna in the mood of Radha).”

      Furthermore madhurya rasa is not something unto itself, in that in order for it to flourish, the other rasas of Goloka are required. Without parental opposition and friendly assistance it does not rise to its full expression.

      As to your final question, obviously it is Radha who pleases Krishna the most. However, in certain circumstances she requires the help of sakhas like Subala, and some argue based on Radha-sahasranama strotra that it is she who eternally becomes Subala to do so in those circumstances. If some servants of Mahaprabhu develop interest in this seva, who can say that it is not inspired by Radha herself. She did send the Sarupa-sakha (Gopa Kumara) of Brihat-bhagavatamrita to enlighten the Assameese brahmana and to bring him within the fold of priyanarma-sakhas.

    • Madan Gopal das

      There is no argument here. Srimati Radharani is the queen of love. That is freely admitted and praised by all regardless of their bhava. By recognizing that there is also a kingdom and citizens with all variety of relationships with the king and queen, how is that making the queen less central? Again, you seem to be going at this with the idea that the citizenry are gathering in protest or worse, planning revolution to overthrow the queen. What about a different perspective? This is a happy kingdom wherein all the subjects find their utmost bliss in relishing the position and enjoyment the king and queen find in their unique relationship. And we can go there, assist in a variety of ways in fostering the queen’s continued conquest of the heart of her lover.

      After all, variety (of rasa) serves the mother of enjoyment (Sri Radhe) rather than taking some of her service away.

  6. Personally I think all the rasas or relationships with Krsna are beautiful and worshipable, even though within my heart I cherish one in particular. How is it possible that anyone could feel threatened by another rasa or think that only one may be cultivated within Gaudiya Vaishnavism? Rasa is a natural attraction of the heart and Srila Prabhupada was always very clear that we could aspire for any type. Please don’t make me feel like I am now in yet another disfavored minority group, based on rasa! LOL!

  7. Actually, from the point of view of bhava, each rasa is in fact in itself. This is why Rupa Gosvami recomended that no attempt at distinction be made from that point of view. Sakhya rasa is in our sampradaya just as vatsalya rasa and dasya rasa are. But they are in the sampradaya via madhurya rasa. Not the other way around. Madhurya rasa includes all other rasas, therefore the other rasas are there to support madhurya, not the other way around. That there are a variety of citizens in Goloka and not all are in madhurya relationship with Krishna is not disputed. But where these citizens remain from displaying madhurya bhava towards Radha-Krishna they do indeed cause madhurya to become a rasa in itself. Just as their particular bhava – dasya, sakhya, or vatsalya- will cause that bhava to remain in itself. There is hierarchy of rasas, from deep to deepest. By inviting Radharani to cook at her house Mother Yasoda may be a facilitator for Radha and Krishna’s mutual darshan. By delivering a message Madhumangala may facilitate a meeting between the Divine Couple. But Radharani cannot and will not confide in Mother Yasoda nor Madhumangala about her feelings of anxiety over Krishna’s delay for a meeting. Only those acquainted with the very confidential sentiments of Radha and Krishna in union as well as in separation are actual generators of the madhurya lila which includes all other rasas. We sing:
    sri-radhika-madhavayor apara-
    vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

    The spiritual master is always eager to hear and chant about the unlimited conjugal pastimes of Radhika and Madhava, and Their qualities, names, and forms. The spiritual master aspires to relish these at every moment. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

    nikunja-yuno rati-keli-siddhyai
    ya yalibhir yuktir apekshaniya
    tatrati-dakshyad ati-vallabhasya
    vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

    The spiritual master is very dear, because he is expert in assisting the gopis, who at different times make different tasteful arrangements for the perfection of Radha and Krsna’s conjugal loving affairs within the groves of Vrndavana. I offer my most humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

    These songs about the acaryas (given to us by the acaryas), don’t speak of the spiritual master being an expert at twirling a baton.

    There may be traditions genuinely connected with Mahaprabhu that cultivate the sentiment of sakhyahood. Mahaprabhu is an ocean of accomodation. However, our particular line favors madhurya lila. At the time of his departing the world Bhaksidhanta Sarasvati asked Srila Sridhara Maharaja to sing to him about Sri Rupa Manjari. Srila Sridhara Maharaja not only was expert at delivering the request, but knew why he was invited to be the singer, why the event was of the utmost importance. I am afraid the neglect of the significance of this and other facts of our sampradaya is bordering misrepresentation. Thats the concern.

    • What neglect are you talking about? Where has anyone disagreed with anything you have written above? Perhaps you perceive disagreement where there is none. I have simply pointed out that madhurya rasa thrives in conjunction with the other rasas of Vraja. In other words it is not alone. Obviously the other rasas do not produce it and are included within it and are subordinate to it.

      Otherwise, have you read O My friend!? It appears that you haven’t from what you have written above. I don’t think we have to be careful to keep Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Pabhupada’s affinity for sakhya rasa and its implications in the closet, nor any glorification of sakhya prema for fear of bordering on misrepresentation and ignoring facts of the sampradaya. You read one article on sakhya rasa and accuse someone here of neglecting obvious facts of our sampradaya bordering misrepresentation. I am sorry but I personally do not feel that your comments address mine, nor have they told me anything I don’t already know, nor do I dispute them other than your accusations, now that it is clear that you are making them in contradiction to what you said earlier. From the baton twirling remark that I take exception to you make it seems as though you know very little about the role of a priyanarma sakha in Radha Krishna’s romantic life.

      The Bhagavata teaches that one thinks others to be like oneself. No one here is offending madhurya rasa but someone might be offending sakhya rasa, something that Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja cautioned very strongly against. Please read O My Friend! and tell us in detail where Babhru has gone wrong. Otherwise your post seems rather uninformed with your quotes from Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s Gurvastakam and mini lecture on the emphasis of our sampradaya as though you are lecturing devotees who have never heard these things and do not understand their significance.

      I am also well aware of the point you raise regarding Pujyapda Sridhara Maharaja and his singing of Sri Rupa Manjari Pada at the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura’s passing. I have lectured on this point and its significance for decades. None of this says anything about the downplaying of sakhya rasa, should it surface in the heart of a member of the Gaudiya sampradaya, which in my perception is what you are doing all in the name of “protecting Radha’s position.” Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja saw cause for celebration in his perception of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s affinity for sakhya rasa. I do as well.

      Anyway, I have been trying to look at your position in a positive light, as your enthusiasm for madhurya rasa and knowledge of its central position in the sampradaya, all of which is laudable. But in your recent post you have made it harder. Please forgive me.

      • That is what the problem is people believe that by strongly belittling other conceptions one can progress in their path. Genuine spiritual sentiment or spiritual ego which pushes one to belittle others and their experience of transcendence should not be imitated as those don’t arise the bhava stage which is beyond ruci and asakti. But anyway it is impossible to judge anything conclusively but given the way GV is being preached in the above quote by bhaktiananda, I sense it is neophyte sectarianism rather than sectarianism manifesting out of bhava.

      • i am trying to find out the villages of krishnas ashtasakhas
        can anyone help
        naturally the villages will be around nandgram
        one of the villages is nonera

        • That will be difficult to ascertain. For that matter there are conflicting descriptions of the parentage and residences of the Gopalas. For example, Rupa Goswami cites Matuka and Rocana-devi as Sudama’s father and mother respectively. However, Nayananda Thakura, a follower in the Gaura Nityananda lila lineage of Sundarananda (Sudama), places Sudama in the extended family of Radhika, as one of her cousins and the son of Ratnabhanu (his father) and Sri Susila (his mother). Indeed, some devotees understand the Dvadasa Gopalas and Asta Sakhis all to be cousins of Radha as the sons and daughters of Vrsabhanu Maharaja’s four brothers with the exception of Sridama being her brother. Thus in this perspective they all hail from Vrsabhanu Maharaja’s side of Vraja.

          That said, your interest may be best served by going to West Bengal. There you can easily locate the residences of the Dvadasa Gopals in terms of their appearance in Gaura lila. And from there you have the best chance to enter Krsna-lila.

    • I realize that we are not specifically discussing O My Friend! here, but its relevance comes up for me in relation to the points you raise. Thus I have mentioned it. Below is a preview from the book relevant to the points you brought up regarding Gruvastakam. Perhaps by reading them you can understand why I take exception to your charges of neglect and misrepresentation. If you choose to extend these accusations to my gurudeva, I refer you again to the entire book, where I believe any such accusations will dissolve in the mind of an objective reader.

      From O My Friend!

      “With regard to Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s Gurvastakam, Srilla Prabhupada explained how he himself thought of these verses on at least three occasions. As Srila Prabhupada wrote to Jayapataka Maharaja in 1969 regarding the
      Maharaja’s question about Cakravarti Thakura’s sixth verse:
      ‘The prayers offered by Visvanatha Cakravarti to his Spiritual
      Master have a special significance. His Spiritual Master
      was one of the assistant gopis, so the prayer was offered
      like that. On the whole, the Spiritual Master is an agent of
      Krsna. But either He is assistant to the gopîs or assistant to
      the cowherds boys.’

      “Explaining the sixth verse in a lecture that was later included
      in Journey of Self-Discovery, he said,
      ‘The spiritual master’s ultimate goal is that he wants
      to be transferred to the planet of Krsna, where he
      can associate with the gopis to help them serve Krsna.
      Some spiritual masters are thinking of becoming assistants
      to the gopis, some are thinking of becoming
      assistants to the cowherd boys.’

      “In 1973 Srila Prabhupada discussed the symptoms of the guru
      as presented in Gurvastakam at the University of Stockholm.
      There he said of the fifth verse ‘The spiritual
      master is always thinking of the pastimes of Krsna . . . with
      His consort Srimati Radharani and the gopis. Sometimes he
      is thinking about Krsna’s pastimes with the cowherd boys.’

      “Thus each time Prabhupada is on record explaining the significance of the two verses of Gurvastakam that speak directly of gopi-bhava, he speaks of sakhya-bhava as an alternative. The obvious explanation for this is that he himself is ‘thinking about Krsna’s
      pastimes with the cowherd boys.’

      “Note that as pointed out earlier some cowherds also
      worship Radha-Madhava and assist them in their union,
      the priyanarma-sakhas. Srila Rupa Goswami says that the
      priyanarma-sakhas possess a very special bhava and engage in the most confidential pastimes. In his comments on this
      verse, Srila Jiva Goswami writes that the special bhava referred
      to involves the desire to give pleasure to Krsna by
      helping his girlfriends. A few verses later, describing the anubhavas that distinguish the priyanarma-sakhas from Krsna’s other friends, Sri Rüpa says, ‘Carrying messages among the young women of Vraja, encouraging the gopis’ love for Krsna, taking
      Krsna’s side when the gopis are present and Krsna is
      not present, showing skill at siding with the chief
      gopis when Krsna is present and they are not, and arguing
      intensely by whispering in each other’s ears are the activities of the priyanarma-sakhas.’”

      All in all, it is really a very beautiful and insightful book.

    • madan gopal das

      But Radharani cannot and will not confide in Mother Yasoda nor Madhumangala about her feelings of anxiety over Krishna’s delay for a meeting.

      Yes, she will confide in her manjari’s. What about Rasaraja Sri Krsna? Who will he confide in over his anxiety in separation of Radha’s love? His most dear and confidential friends. Again, the other rasa’s are facilitating the eternally progressive development of madhurya. If you isolate the glory of Radha’s love, you risk isolating the object of Radha’s love. How glorious all these rasa’s are!

  8. Swamiji, I wans’t trying to lecture you, in fact I am simply repeating what I heard from you back in your Aesthetic Vedanta phase when you nicely shed light on the importance of us carefully understanding the goal of our sampradaya. Now you have changed your speech, you choose to put sakhya rasa in the center. Its confusing, I can’t follow. You say that its offensive not to make sakhya rasa central (other than that I don’t know why else you would charge me of offending it). But then why stop at sakhya, why not focus on vatsalya and dasya rasas as well? You say Bhaktivedanta Swami was in sakhya rasa as per the evidence listed in a godbrother’s research of the matter. Surely you are aware that not just myself, a lower rank devotee, but loftier, experienced and in leading position devotees dispute such ‘evidence’, and are indeed scretching their heads as to what really is that you are trying to do with the sampradaya. Personally I am not convinced that Srila Sridhara Maharaja did indeed believe Bhaktivedanta Swami was in sakhya rasa. The simple logic I am following is that if you indeed understand the crucial position of madhurya and the reason Mahaprabhu came to give it, then you would naturally pick more pertinent, specific lilas and specific acaryas (such as Ragunatha Das) to showcase the point. Did not Mahaprabhu say that Rupa Goswami understood His heart? Did not Ragunatha Das understand Rupa Goswami’s heart a notch above Nayanananda Thakur? Doesn’t it make more sense that, if one is hopping to understand what goes on between Radha and Krishna or even just in Krishna’s heart, that he/she will stay closer to those who have been the closest to Radha-Krishna? Sakhas may understand very many things about the romantic affairs of Radha-Krishna. But they are also satisfied with Krishna alone. This is never the position of manjaris. Rupa Gosvami discovered such, and Mahaprabhu confirmed that this indeed was the gist of His gift.

    If all this sounds like lecture, I apologize, but I have heard it also from you.

    • Thank you for your clarification. However, I have not changed my position nor am I trying to make sakhya rasa central to the sampradaya, nor have I even hinted that those that do not try to do so are offensive. I have consistently labored to point out that madhurya rasa is central to the Gaudiya sampradaya. However, those who know me personally know that I have been influenced by the sakhya rasa exhibited in my gurudeva for as long as I can remember, which does not stop me from continuing to point out the supreme position of bhavollasa-rati/manjari-bhava in our sampradaya. Teaching siddhanta is one thing, bhajana is another.

      At the same time some have asserted that my gurudeva is situated in manjari-bhava and campaigned widely in this regard. Unfortunately this assertion does not square with Prabhupada’s own explanation of his spiritual sentiment and a mountain of supporting evidence for his embrace of sakhya rasa. Thus we have published O My Friend, which to date has not been met with any serious challenge. As for other senior devotees scratching their heads abut all of this, they are indeed confused and understandably so as all of this is new to them. They are not familiar with the evidence, but rather only the principle thrust of the sampradaya. But if they would take the time to study my points carefully and the points raised in O My Friend, I am sure they will understand. It’s not that difficult and certainly not deviant.

      In the case of Prabhupada we find that the general truth of the cenrtral position of madhurya rasa in our sampradaya has to bow to the specific evidence in support of his sakhya bhava. In other words citing evidence that madhurya rasa is central to the sampradaya in an effort to make the case that Prabupada is in madhurya rasa is not sufficient to carry the day in light of the specific evidence to the contrary, evidence such as his poem aboard the Jaladutta and his numerous statements like “My guru maharaja is a gopi manjari but I am an cowherd boy,” etc. etc. etc.—there is a lot of specific evidence. Futhermore, any and all specific evidence to the contrary in favor of a madhurya rasa conclusion is scant and weak at best and can be easily harmoninzed with the understadnng of priyanarma-sakha bhava, which is a combination of sakhya and madhurya that exceeds in intimacy all other rasas aside from madhurya rasa extending as it does to mahabhava.

      Now because of Prabhupada’s embrace of priyanarma sakhya rasa, you can expect that some of his disciples will be influenced by it and hold it as their ideal. I know of many that do. This does not make it central to the sampradaya, but it does serve as further historical evidence for this sentiment appearing sometimes in prominent ways in our sampradaya, and to me that is something beautiful, whereas to you it seems confusing. Thus I am humbly trying to clarify.

      You say that you are not convinced that Srila Prabhuapda is in sakhya rasa or that Srila Sridhara Mahraja believed that. My question to you is if you are not convinced of these things after reading O My Friend!, what would convince you? Have you read it? Again, it is quite beautiful and substantial. Jaya Radhe!

      Here is another excerpt from O My Friend regarding Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s opinion:

      I think he has given the hint in his own autobiography.
      When he was going to America, on the journey
      he expressed his feeling to play with Krsna in sakhyarasa:
      kata bane chutachuti bane khai lutaputi sei din
      kabe habe mor,
      ‘Running and frolicking in the many
      forests of Vraja, I will roll on the ground in spiritual
      ecstasy. O when will that day be mine?’ This was his
      ‘Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna.’ When he was
      passing through the Atlantic, he gave vent to feelings
      that may be the salient points in his Vraja lîlå. It
      struck me like that, Vrndavana sakhya-rasa.
      When he departed from this consciousness of
      worldly preaching propaganda, then he is there. It
      is clearly expressed in these sayings there in the Atlantic.
      He discovered the unmanifest (aprakata) pastimes
      in Vrndavana, and in Vrndavana he established
      Krsna-Balarama and Gaura-Nitai. That is indicative
      of sakhya-rasa. From this we can conclude that he
      is in sakhya-rasa, and he has entered into those pastimes.
      This is my understanding about his present

      He has expressed himself, his eternal position, the acme of his aspiration.
      He was so earnest in his prayer to Krsna that he might be able to discharge the duty
      that had been given to him by his
      Guru Maharaja that Krsna came down to help him,
      his friend helped him in this propaganda work. So
      saktyavesa-avatara. I take him; I cannot but take him
      to be so.

      Addressing Krsna he wrote, ‘You are my eternal
      friend. Forgetting You, I have come to this world
      and I have been suffering the kicking of maya, the
      goddess of misconception. If you come to help me
      in this campaign, then after finishing this I can again
      join you. When I shall be united with you again. I
      shall wander along with you the whole day in keeping
      the cows in the forest. Running this side and that
      side in the jungle, in the forest. And then, lutaputi,
      to fall on the ground in different shows of play. I aspire
      after that day. I have got this good chance to
      serve my Gurudeva. For that reason my heartfelt appeal
      to you is that you please come to help me. I am
      your eternal servitor; therefore, so much aspiration I
      have got for you. You, no other, are my only resort.’

      So after performing this service (preaching gaura-vani), he aspires after a
      life in the cow-keeping lila of Krsna, and he is appreciating
      that sort of friendly service of Krsna very
      much from the core of his heart, his aspiration after
      finishing his worldly preaching campaign.”

  9. Madan Gopal dasji,

    Krishna does not confide his sentiments to the cowerdboys. Krishna is the guilty party, the one who does not come to meet with Radharani, leaving her waiting. He goes meet with Chandravali or some other gopi, while Radha waits. What need is there for a confidant? krishna does not have the same experiences as Radharani. But suddenly He does desire to know how She feels. Hence He comes as Mahaprabhu. As Krishna, He does not need the empathy that Srimati Radharani requires. At times Krishna may need a messenger, and so He enlists some male friend for such, and that is the extent of the involvement of the sakhas. (The sakhas who witnessed the hastra varana lila were just babies.) No sakha is aware of the intimate torments of separation and elation of union the Divine Couple experience. If they were aware, Rupa Gosvami would have made it very clear.

    It is said that when Krishna was in Mathura he expressed to Udhava that he had no confidant, and wanted to make Udhava such confidant. He would go to the Yamuna gath where the waters would come rushing down from the direction of Gokula. But instead of water He would see that the river was flooded with the tears of separation of the gopis. His own pain then was so great that He made Udhava a confidant – He had to speak His heart to someone. He sent Udhava to Vrindavan with a message, but He himself would not go. Krishna wasn’t being cruel, His reason for not going back to Vrindavan was to protect the village from Ugrasena’s furious armies, who would have charged at the village with all their might, destroying everyone and everything to revenge Kamsa’s death. Krishna was protecting His beloved Gokula. Prior to this however, He had no need for much confidentiality.

    There is nothing wrong in saying that the cowherd boys twirl batons. Thats one of their expertise, and one the sakha bhavukas are surely proud of. Frolicking with Krishna is the bhava sought in that rasa. Being a confidant to hear about romantic feelings requires madhurya bhava.

    • What you fail to understand is that the priyanarma sakhas’ bhava is a mixture of sakhya and madhurya. They are intimately involved in the romantic life of the divine couple, unlike the priya-sakhas headed by Sridama. How else cold their sthayi bhava intensify up to mahabhava exceeding that of vatsalya rasa? Rupa Goswami has detailed their involvement in Radha Krishna’s romantic life. Here is something on the subject from the Goswami tika on Ujjvala-nilamani,

      On the sakhi-bhava of the priyanarma-sakha: “Out of affection for both Krishna and his beloved gopis, they desire to unite them both. Their masculine nature is then subdued.”

      On Subala’s seva Sri Rupa writes in Ujjval-nilamani:

      “Is there any service to Krishna that Subala is not entitled to perform? When Krishna’s mistress gets angry with him and runs off, it is Subala who follows her and entreats her to come back. He perpares the flower bed for their lovemaking and even fans the lovers when their perspiring bodies are locked in embrace.”

      Here is Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti in Sri Vraja-riti-cintamani:

      “Some friends are considered very confidential and some fortunate friends perform confidential services. Subala, Ujjvala, and some splendid others, who are as good as the gopis, are rich with the sight of Krsna’s splendid conjugal pastimes.”

      Don’t think that Krishna does not lament in separation from Radha and that he is not in need of solace in the form of a priyanarma sakha chanting Radhe Radhe in his ear, etc., etc. As much as Radha feels his separation so too does Krishna feel hers, and these particular friends tender to that. Indeed this is precisely what distinguishes them from the other groups of sakhas! This has already been explained in the earlier citation on this thread from Cc, where Sri Krsnadas compares Ramananda Ray to Subal in terms of his solacing Krishna when he suffers from separation from Radha.

    • madan gopal das

      No sakha is aware of the intimate torments of separation and elation of union the Divine Couple experience. If they were aware, Rupa Gosvami would have made it very clear.

      You have previously referenced Advaita dasji. I share some appreciation for his scholarship. Here is what he has previously said:

      Bhakta: “I heard that Subal and other cowherdboys also have madhurya bhava, and thus their sakhya bhava is higher than vatsalya.”

      Advaitadas: “That is correct. A small group of cowherdboys have thus superseded the devotees of vatsalya rasa, although normally vatsalya rasa is consired higher than sakhya rasa. A few members of Vatsalya rasa also have access to madhurya, though, like Mukhera and Paurnamasi, who, like Subal and other priya narma sakhas, also assist indirectly in madhurya lila as supporters. At Syamakund, the eight chief sakhas are under the command of the eight chief sakhis. Madhumangal is under the command of Lalita, although in the lila they quarrel so much. (Govinda Lilamrita 7.111-117) A boy is more likely to confide in his intimate affairs with his boyfriends than with his parents.”

      While understanding and honoring your strong feelings about the supremacy of manjari bhava, I think the discussion keeps coming back to this;
      1. No one here has stated that sakhya is superior to manjari bhava. No one has tried to bring you anywhere in terms of your particular aspirations. Only you have insinuated that the article or some of the comments have this purpose.
      2. There are examples of Rupanuga’s who are in sakhya rasa and several have been mentioned here, just to point out the fact that they indeed exist – now the question is how do you deal with that? The answer should be by honoring and glorifying them, while keeping one’s own particular aspirations close to heart. The Rupanuga’s of this world are so few, let’s not divide and limit them more by mundane views of the divine world.
      3. In bhava, everyone considers their own position to be exactly where they should be. And they are!! There is no consideration of “missing out” on something. While following siddhanta and the recognition that madhurya reaches farthest in terms of completeness of rasa, we should recognize that we are but participants in the divine drama. Let divine will assign the parts we play and leave our calculating minds out of it.

  10. I will reiterate my position which is that I am convinced cowherdboys’s speciality is baton twirling and such feats. If they take to hearing about Krishna’s romances at times, that is an option, not their main bhava. Respectfully, a couple of quotes such as the ones you are producing, Swamiji, are not yet making this ship turn around and sail towards the sakhya shore. One has to set one’s sails in the direction of a specific bhava. That is the process. Once the bhava is achieved, thats what you are. Sakhya is not a bhava to supply the elements of madhurya. For that purpose, there is manjaria bhava. The elucidation given by Rupa Goswami is that intimacy increases as the bhava is more complete. Or vice versa. The crucial point to consider here is that cowherdboys are more concerned with Krishna than with Radha. The secret of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is to see Radharani a few inches above Krishna. Hence Gaudiya Vaisnavas aspire to be manjaris, uniters of Radha-Krishna, with a slight leaning towards Radha. What to speak of cowherdboys, Gaudiya Vaisnavas don’t aspire to be even in a position of intimacy with Krishna like that of Lalita, Visakha or Tungavidya. In Vilapa Kusumanjali, Ragunatha Das Goswami, addressing Srimati Radharani, wrote, I don’t want to be Your sakhi. I offer millions of obeisances to the lotus feet of sakhis like Lalita and Visakha, but I don’t want to be a sakhi like them. I want to serve you like Rupa Manjari and the other manjaris. I want to serve You. I want to be happy in Your happiness, and in Your separation mood I will weep and think how to console and assist You. O Varoru (a girl with beautiful thighs), It is decidedly only with the hope of obtaining the nectarine ocean of service unto You and the vision of Your transcendental pastimes that I have been able to maintain my life thus far with severe difficulty. But if You are not merciful unto me even now, then of what use to me is this life, residence in Vraja-dhama or even Sri Krsna Himself?” And to Krishna, Ragunatha Das prays, O Gokulacandra, O moon of Gokula, take me to the place where Your Radhika is at the moment, and engage me in Her service. Without Her service I don’t want You, I don’t want Vraja, I don’t want anything else. If She is in Dvaraka with You, then I want to speedly get there. I never want to go to Dvaraka, but if Radhika happens to be there, then I will want to go immediately. If You are with Rukmini, Satybhama and all Your 16,000 queens I don’t want to go there. If you request me to do so I will reject Your proposal, but if I hear that Radhika, my master, my Swaminiji is there, I will very quickly fly there to serve Her.”

    Being Rupanugas does not mean to follow Rupa Gosvami without his personal bhava.

    • You have simply explained the nature of manjari-bhava, and although this is the full meaning of rupanuga, it is not the entire meaning of Gaudiya Vaisnavism or of what it means to follow Rupa Goswami. One can follow him in bhava and in siddhanta or in siddhnata but not in bhava and still be a Gaudiya Vaisnava and a follower of Rupa Goswami in his sadhaka deha. If Gaudiya Vaisnavism was only about manjari-bhava to the exclusion of an other bhava, then Nityananda Prabhu’s sakhya rasa lineages would not be Gaudiya Vaisnava lineages, yet it was he who started the worship of Gaura. Is Sanatana Goswami’s Gopa Kumara a Gaudiya Vaisnava? What about Gopa Kumara’s disciple that Radha sent him to enlighten in sakhya-bhava? Is Akincana Krsnadasa Babaji a Gaudiya Vaisnava? Is Prabhupda Bhaktivedanta Swami? If not, what sampradaya are they in?

      No one is trying to move you towards sakhya rasa or to imply that it affords more intimacy with Radha Krishna than manjari-bhava, but rather that it is included within Gaudiya Vaisnavism as a bhava that one can cultivate and that history and scripture substantiate this.

      It is ls also being pointed out that the priyanarma sakhas’ bhava is a combination of sakhya and madhurya. Do you dispute this fact? Because this is so, the priyanarma sakhas sthayi-bhava intensifies up to mahabhava, exceeding in intimacy every other rasa other than madhurya. This is all clearly pointed out in the Goswami granthas and Cc. Thus Rupa Goswami calls it sakhi-bhava to emphasize this point. Yes it favors Krsna slightly over Radha and thus differs from manjari-bhava, but each priyanarma sakha has a yuthesvari (gopi group leader) as well as a yuthesvara (gopa group leader).

      In regard to all of this you have made it clear that you are not acquainted with the extent to which these sakhas participate in the madhurya-lila. Here is some more information taken from Vridaranya’s article Sakhyam’ Razor here on the Harmonist:

      In Shyamananda Prakasa, Subala says that he always desires to be Radharani’s maidservant. Govinda-lilamrta explains that Krsna’s priya-narma-sakhas divided the groves around Radha-kunda and gave each one to a particular gopi. In the northeast is the cottage Subalanandada, which Srimati Radharani accepted. In Sri Vraja-vilasa-stava, text 22, Raghunatha dasa Goswami says, “Filled with deep love for him, and anxious that they may be separated, Subala never, even in dreams, lets go of the hand of Sri Krsna, the moon of Gokula. His heart is showered by the waterfall of devotion for Sri Radhika. I offer my respectful obeisances to Subala, whose body trembles with love for Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.” And Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja translated Raghunatha dasa Goswami’s Manah-siksa (11) thus, adding his own insight: “Oh mind! You should be in obedience to Sri Rupa Goswami in the association of Sri Lalita Devi and Subala. The transcendental servitors strive for the divine service of the transcendental couple Sri Radha-Krsna, who are always merged in the conjugal devotional mellows.”

      Still obviously the priyanarma sakha bhava is much more sakhya bhava than it is madhurya, in spite of the fact that Rupa Goswami refers to it as sakhi-bhava.

      But the simple point here is that Gauidya Vaisnavism is broad as well as deep. Where is it said that Mahaprabhu came to give only manjari-bhava? It is not said anywhere, but it is said that manjari-bhava is objectively the highest reach of his sampradaya. Why then do some pursue something like sakhya bhava. God works in mysterious ways. Ask Gopa Kumara. Ask Prabhupada. I am not making this up.

      • We can’t ask Prabhupada now can we? he has left and we must grow up as best as we can. So maybe we have been making some things up. Not that this is unprecedented, newer and newer insights must turn up, this is a living tradition. But its always recomended, on the side of caution, that at least we should consult with senior Vaishnavas. You didn’t want to do that. And now we are in a bit of a mess…

        Anyway, broad and deep does not have to mean varied and multi-tasked. It can mean focused to a point where the desire for any other feeling, any other sentiment, simply isn’t there. Where it is said that manjari bhava, if it were the sole bhava, it wouldn’t be enough? Krishna is the One in the best position to taste rasa, Raso vai sah, and His tasting of rasa requires precision more than it requires variegatedness. If Krishna were complete and full in His exchanges with the cowherdboys, then Rupa Gosvami would have said that sakhya rasa was the culmination of Krishna’s search. But Rupa Gosvami pointed out that Krishna must search for His fulfilment in the position of Radharani. Manjaris make suggestions to Srimati Radharani. And She listens, follows, and Krishna takes infinite pleasure in these things. Srila Sridhara Maharaja has said: “We must judge a thing from the universal standpoint. If we are to judge a thing, we must judge its quality on the basis of its connection with the center. That measurement may be made according to the standard of ecstasy, rasam, just as gold is the standard for measuring the value of different monetary papers. There may be many currencies – the pound, the ruble, the dollar, the rupee, the yen – but the common standard for determining their value is gold. In the same way, there may be different types of calculation of one’s relationship with the Absolute on the basis of rasa, ecstasy or divine mellow.

        It has been said that Sanatan Gosvami told the story of Gopa Kumar principally to point out the difference between the aiswarya of Vaikuntha and the sweetness of Goloka. The particular bhava of Gopa Kumar was intentional in that tale. Even a step removed in Goloka is infinetly sweeter than all the peace and order of Vaikuntha.

        As for Nityananda Prabhu’s sakhya followers, there are many more followers of Nityananda Prabhu in His full manifestation as Ananga Manjari.

        • We don’t need to ask Prabhupada if sakhya rasa is part of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. He has made it clear in his books that it is. All senior Gaudiya Vaisnavas in the line of Thakura Bhaktivinoda without exception acknowledge this fact as well. Can you cite one that does not? As for the question of Prabhupada’s personal preference, he himself said he was in sakhya rasa. Sri Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaja, B.H. Bon Maharaja, and B.R Sdirhara Maharaja, all Godbrothers of his, are of the same conclusion, and I personally discussed this with Puri Maharaja and Sridhara Maharaja So who is not consulting senior Vaisnavas? I also discussed this topic with B.V. Narayana Maharaja, a disciple of B.P Kesava Maharaja, but he had a different opinion. I have chosen to go with the more senior devotees insight, which happens to correspond with my own realization about my guru from whom I received three initiations and who has revealed some things to me within my heart.

          You ask, “where is it said that manjari bhava, if it were the sole bhava, it wouldn’t be enough?” As I have pointed out, it is not the sole bhava that Mahaprabhu came to give according to Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, but it does fully satisfy Krishna. So perhaps you need to think about that.

          The story of Gopa Kumara illustrates many things, one of which is that his gopijana-vallabhaya mantra, nama sankitana and corresponding smaranam gave him priyanarma sakhya rasa. This tells us, again, that sakya rasa is one possibility in the Gaudiya sampradaya coming from its architect Sanatana Goswami.

          Anyway it is clear that you really can’t deny that sakhya rasa is part of the Gaudiya sampradaya since you have just admitted this in relation to Nityananda Prabhu’s sakhya rasa lineages by saying that the are a minority. Small is beautiful.

        • We can’t ask Prabhupada now can we?

          We don’t have to, he has said enough himself. Certainly there is not anywhere near an equal amount of evidence for suggesting he had another aspiration.

          So maybe we have been making some things up.

          Yes, it is a living tradition that must be rooted in the siddhanta as presented by the acaryas. You can distinguish what is made up by how it differs from the siddhanta of Sri Rupa. I have seen nothing in this discussion outside of Rupa’s siddhanta, except for the possible inflexibility you have in your understanding of rasa-tattva. If madhurya rasa was complete on it’s own, why would Sri Rupa have bothered to speak of the other rasas, including (but not limited to) elaborating on the extent of priyanarma-sakhya bhava?

          at least we should consult with senior Vaishnavas. You didn’t want to do that.

          Okay, where are you going with this now? Is there a specific senior Vaisnava that you suggest Swami has not consulted with about this? As noted in “Oh My Friend”, Srila Sridhar Maharaj was consulted, Sripad B.P. Puri Maharaj was consulted about this… It may not be that your senior Vaisnava was consulted, but certainly the conclusion of “Oh My Friend” was arrived at with thorough consultation of past and present acaryas.

          • Madan Gopal,

            Madhurya rasa is complete on its own, as is each rasa, but it does not exist in a vacuum. The other rasas give support to it within the lila. But it is also complete in that it fully satisfies Krishna’s thirst for love, even to an extent that sakhya rasa does not. Still, Sri Krishna loves his gopas unlimitedly, as do they love him unlimitedly.

          • Madan Gopalji,

            Since you ask, you know very well there is a living senior vaisnava who wasn’t consulted. Swami wants to dismiss him, thats fine, he is free to do so. But look carefully and see that it is not someone to dismiss without giving at least a second thought.

            You say past acaryas were consulted. Such consultation is actually relative. As for ‘present’ acaryas, which living acaryas were consulted?

            This is a tradition not so much about Krishna as it is about devotees. Skip the devotee and your game is over, no matter how expert you may be at manipulating concepts.

      • These are very beautiful examples and expressions of sakhya- bhava, Maharaja! Thanks for sharing them. Just yesterday I was reading the pastime of Hridaya Caitanya and how he actually beat his disciple, Syamananda, for relishing a rasa different from his own. That night Mahaprabhu came to Hridaya Caitanya with a bloodied chaddar and chastised him for the beating, having accepted it Himself. In this instance the guru was chastising his disciple for relishing a rasa higher than his guru’s, so I can’t imagine any guru chastising a disciple for relishing a “lower” rasa. In fact, when I first began taking siksa from Srila Narayana Maharaja I specifically expressed to him my preferance for sakhya-rasa and he said that didn’t bother him at all. He mentioned most Gaudiya Vaishnavas prefer manjari-bhava but not everyone.

        • Luke Matthewson

          In this instance the guru was chastising his disciple for relishing a rasa higher than his guru’s, so …

          Hridaya Caitanya surely didn’t beat his disciple because he wanted to relish a higher rasa. Don’t you think there is a much better and more subtle explanation for this?

          • The pastime of Hridaya Caitanya beating Syamananda Pandit is described as follows:

            “[Hridaya Caitanya said:] ‘If you claim to be in my line, you must behave in the mood of Krishna’s friend. Do not entertain any other idea or you must go elsewhere to pursue your spiritual life.’

            “‘I cannot comply with your wishes,’ Shyamananda sadly replied. ‘One cannot change his passion for God–it is an affair of the heart. It is a question of one’s eternal relationship. Surely there is a way to reconcile this difference of opinion. You are my lord and master, and if you abandon me, I will give up this worthless life. But please do not ask me to do something that I am unable to do.’

            “At this point Hridaya Caitanya was so enraged that he picked up a branch and started to beat Syamananda, striking him repeatedly on his hands, legs, and back. Severely bruised, Syamananda fell to the ground.”

            The entire incident is viewed as a transcendental pastime, meant to instruct us that there is no harm if a disciple relishes a rasa different from that of his or her guru. The author adds a sidenote: “Actually, it should be mentioned that Hridaya Caitanya is not a mundane personality but is instead an eternal associate of the Lord. The seemingly ordinary if also harsh way in which he interacts with Syamananda is part of the Lord’s divine pastime. By closely studying these complex devotional relationships, the truths of Vaishnava philosophy can unfold for the sensitive reader.”

            (“The Lives of the Vaishnava Saints: Shrinivas Acharya, Narottam Das Thakur, Shyamananda Pandit” by Steven Rosen [Satyaraja dasa], p. 141, 143)

  11. Bhaktikand,

    You write the following to Madan Gopal:

    Since you ask, you know very well there is a living senior vaisnava who wasn’t consulted. Swami wants to dismiss him, thats fine, he is free to do so. But look carefully and see that it is not someone to dismiss without giving at least a second thought.

    You say past acaryas were consulted. Such consultation is actually relative. As for ‘present’ acaryas, which living acaryas were consulted?

    This is a tradition not so much about Krishna as it is about devotees. Skip the devotee and your game is over, no matter how expert you may be at manipulating concepts.

    So what your position is really all about is that I have a different opinion regarding the spiritual sentiment of my guru from that of B.V Narayana Maharaja, whose opinion you agree with on the basis of his being a senior Vaisnava. It would have been better to have just come out and said this to begin with.

    At any rate, I am satisfied that I have met the criterion of Vaisnava standards in reaching my conclusion. But your concern could just as well apply to B.V Narayana Maharaja. Why didn’t he consult with senior Vaisnavas like BR Sridharadeva Goswami, BP Puri Goswami, and BH Bon Maharaja before propagating his notion of my guru being in manjari-bhava? All of them are senior to him and one of them was living when he began his campaign. They all personally voiced different opinions, placing Prabhupada in sakhya rasa.

    Furthermore you have characterized my realization as “expert at manipulating concepts.” But to me this kind of accusation is what people resort to when they do not have good reasoning or scriptural support for their their position—no sastra-yukti. Unfortunately this is just an expression of religious fanaticism. You have accepted someone’s opinion as absolute, and if others do not agree, you fault them. In my opinion there is just way too much of this going around.

    And finally, since I consulted living senior Vaisnavas who are senior to Narayaan Maharaja before Narayan Maharaja began his campaign, and since I also had the courtesy to speak with him on the matter, your criticism does not hold. I reached my conclusion after considering the opinions of not only these Vaisnavas in our line, but that of others outside of our line as well, others that also saw my Guru Maharaja in sakhya rasa as I do. Incidentally, in the the most recent exchange I had with Narayana Maharaja on this subject, one that he initiated, he wrote me this after I answered his questions:

    Dear Sripad B.V. Tripurari Maharaja,

    Please accept my heartly dandavats pranams. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga, all glories to Sri Sri Radha Vinode Bihariji.

    I received your letter and became very happy to hear from you after a long, long time.

    Regarding the contents of your message, if you have strong belief that your Gurumaharaja was in sakhya mood, I have no objection.


    Swami B.V. Narayan

    To be fair, he wrote me two letters and despite his statement above he made it clear that he still believed otherwise but appreciated my position. “Still,” he wrote in his second letter, “I appreciate your belief that he was in sakhya bhava.”

    • Maharaja, I think you have presented your entire case most excellently herein. Also, I am very impressed with how you have consulted all senior Vaishnavas in this regard. It is well known that even the most exalted devotees can sometimes disagree or view things differently. Despite this, devotees should remain friendly and cooperate together as far as possible.

      In my opinion there is a dearth of transcendental reading material regarding sakhya-rasa and thus I am greatly appreciative of any small quote, article or book written on this subject. So thanks again for providing this “Four Dear friends” article!

  12. Madan Gopal Das

    Dandavat pranams to all devotees.

    Is it possible that certain, not yet fully mature followers of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, whose ultimate constitutional goal lies in madhur-ras (or just needed associaton of higher relised devotees to proceed with their Krishna-consciousness) became connected to Srila BV Narayan Maharaj by the will of Sri Krishna and Srila Narayan Maharaj is just making them confortable to stay with him by presenting Srila Swami Maharaj as also being situated in madhur-ras, for the time being, by pointing to them evidence of Srila Swami Maharaj’s tatashta (objective) highest appreciation of madhur-ras during his preaching on the order of His Guru and Mahaprabhu, by giving them “simplified siddhanta” (only madhur-ras in Gaudiya/Rupanuga line)? Srila Narayan Maharaj himself once said that realised Vaishnavas and sastra may give different “siddhantas” to different devotees on diffferent levels of advancement which will then be gradualy clarified with progress of devotees, as is with the known case of Srila Swami Maharaj using explanation of jiva “fallling from Goloka”.

    Cited from Srila Narayan Maharaj’s lecture to certain ISKCON leaders in 90’s.

    “In sastra, numerous siddhantas (philosophical conclusions) have been told, only for us. It is not that all siddhanta is for all persons at all stages of their development in bhakti. There is some siddhanta for kanistha-Vaisnavas (neophytes in bhakti), some for madhyama-Vaisnavas (those devotees in the intermediate stage), and some for uttama-Vaisnavas, those devotees who have crossed over maya. It is not that all siddhanta is in the same category. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, so many categories of siddhanta are given for various classes of persons. We should therefore try to do bhajana and realize all these transcendental or spiritual truths (cinmaya-tattva). Mundane logic and reasoning will not go there at all.

    Chant, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare,” and beg pardon. Perhaps what you previously thought about the jiva and bhakti has changed. Perhaps you are now thinking, understanding, and realizing differently. Similarly, your present understanding will also change when you will become a maha-bhagavata and cross over maya. Then you will realize everything.

    An important point to note: the idea that the anadi-baddha jiva, the conditioned soul in this world, has fallen from the spiritual abode of the Lord is not accepted by our acaryas.”

    I personaly think Srila Narayan Maharaj is giving much actual help to immature followers of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, by at least pointing them the highest outreach of their connection with Srila Swami Maharaj and giuding them towards that realisation. Also Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj was doing this.

    Dear devotees, please forgive me all my offences and kindly bless me that I may chant Harinam without ten-fold offences and also realise my highest contitutional potential in service to Sri Krishna and Gurudev.

    • Vrajendra Nandana Dasa

      I lack the scritual knowledge as well as the realization to judge the level of truth of your suggestion. But I like the harmizing spirit of it. Sounds quite possible to me.

      • Vrajendra Nandana Dasa

        Ok, one more try, this time with less mistakes, I hope: 🙂

        I lack the scriptual knowledge as well as the realization to judge the level of truth of your suggestion. But I like the harmonizing spirit of it. Sounds quite possible to me.

  13. Dandavat Maharaja by accident Sridham is Mentioned as one of the four is it not Sudhama, Sridham the elder brother of Radha would not be there as this was the day of avabrita snana the bath at the end of the Katayani Vrata so Radha was present there Both Saartha darshini and Gopal Campu confirm it was Sudhama , thanks for your preaching .

    • In the article the following is stated, citing SB 10.22.8-9:

      Krishna, the master mysticism, was aware of what the gopis were doing, and thus he went there surrounded by his boyfriends in order to award the gopis the perfection of their endeavor. Taking the girls’ garments he quickly climbed to the top of the kadamba tree. Then, as he laughed loudly and his companions also laughed, he jokingly addressed the gopis.

      In Jiva Goswami’s Laghu-tosani Bhagavatam commentary it is stated,

      In the verse beginning with the words bhagavan api the use of vaysayaih (with the friends of the same age) indicates balaih (with boys) and also sakhibhih (with his cowherd boy friends). Being surrounded by them , he arrived on the scene. It should be understood that these are the supremely intimate and internal friends Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama, and Kinkini. This is also confirmed in the Gautamiya Tantra thus:

      ‘The greatly famous Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama, and Kinkini are the embodiments of Sri Krishna’s of antahkarana, being non-different from his very self and therefore they are equally venerable with scented flowers as is Krishna.”

      “Thus being the personifications of his antahkarana feature, they represent his intelligence, egoism, heart, and mind.”

      I took the above from an English translation. But looking at the Sanskrit, “Dama” is mentioned and not Sridama. So the four that personify Krsna’s antahkarana are Dama, Sudama, Vasudama, and Kinkini. It is not Sudhama but Sudama, and not Sridama, but Dama. JG writes that these four are priya sakhas but should be considered priyanarma sakhas because of their unrestricted access to all of Krsna’s intimate lilas, being his antahkarana.

    • However, Nayananda Thakura writes that

      “In the above-quoted Sanskrit ślokas listing the four most intimate boyfriends, the name “Dāma” should be understood to indicate Śrīdāma. Due to the particular meter being used in the ślokas, the respective authors merely abbreviated his name from Śrīdāma to Dāma. After duly considering the facts, I have thus concluded that when these four names are written together in the same place there is some figurative modification of the syllables in order to fit the meter. Thus the name of Dāma was used as a convention. According to the scriptures Śrīdāma is very, very dear to the Lord. This is evidenced in many places throughout the śāstras headed by the Bhāgavatam. The name of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa’s beloved sakhā Śrīdāma is frequently written first, followed by the names of Subala, Stoka-Kṛṣṇa and others.

      śrīdāmā nāma gopālo
      rāma-keśavayoḥ sakhā
      gopāḥ premṇedam abruvan

      ‘Once, some of the cowherd boys—Śrīdāma, the very close friend of Rāma
      and Keśava, along with Subala, Stoka-Kṛṣṇa and others—thus lovingly
      spoke.’ (Bhāg. 10.15.20)

      “It is also found in the Varaha Purāṇa:

      śrīdāmā paścima ’dvāre sudāmā cottare tathā

      ‘The boy Śrīdāma is situated at the gate to the west, and Sudāma is situated
      at the gate to the north.” Everywhere it is seen that Śrīdāma is
      predominantly listed. In the nyāya philosophy of logic it is stated evaṁ
      pradhānāpradhānayor madhye and so forth—the most important of a group
      of items is listed first, followed by the lesser important.’

  14. What I have seen In Sartha Darsini is these boys were much younger and did not distinguish genders at that time whic is why Krishna allowed them to come Gopal Campu has the same tone , of course the question would be that Radhika was present by the request of Dhanya and others who had performed Katayni Vrata since this was the avabrita snana, so that her older brother is present while she is undressed before Krishna and she is married at this time does not seem to line up, I have not checked Santan Goswami tika but just by rasa vichar it seems incorrect. But I have not heard Nayana Thakur quoted much just don’t know would question this also Radha Krishna Ganodeh Dipka list Dama as a seperate person. TEXTS 30 – 31
    Krsna’s confidential friends (priya-sakha)
    Krsna’s confidential friends are Sridama, Sudama, Dama, Vasudama, Kinkini, Bhadrasena, Amsu, Stokakrsna, Vilasi, Pundarika, Vitankaksa, Kalavinka and Priyaskara. These friends are the smae age of Krsna. Their leader is Sridama, who is also known as Pithamardaka.
    ? Jai Dandavat

    • Sridama and Sudama are the same age and both of them would be quite young at the time of this prakata lila. And arguably Sudama’s sister Susila would also be present. The emphasis on their youthfulness on the part of some commentators, who at the same time appear to identify them with Krsna’s antahkarana and thus dearest priya sakhas, is purposeful yet appears contradictory. Their purpose is obvious but the apparent contradiction is that all of these boys are priya sakhas, who are described as being the same age as Krsna everywhere else. Of course Krsna is mature for his age and thus perhaps their purpose could have been achieved by raising this point and avoiding the apparent contradiction. But VCT may also be saying that certain very young boys were present and the older priya sakhas that constitute Krsna’s antahkarana were also present but only in the form of his antahkarana, which goes everywhere with him. In this way perhaps he has tried to harmonize his point concerning the youthfulness of the boys present with the statement of Sanatana Goswami, in which the four priya sakhas are mentioned as being present.

      Nayanananda Thakura’s point is at the same time salient: How can Sridama not be one of the four most intimate priya sakhas? Dama is also one of the dvadasa gopalas, but the prominence of Sridama is stated everywhere. Can he be discounted as the personification of Krsna’s intelligence simply because he is the brother of Radha? And the Thakura is also sensitive in general to the issue you raise when he states, “However, the priya-sakhas can understand the internal intricacies of all these pastimes but never reveal such secrets externally for fear of causing discord in the flow of rasa.”

      I am not sure if you noted this, but the entire article is a translation of Nayanananda’s original Bengali excerpted from his book Preyo-Bhakti Rasarnava. And so your suggestion that the inclusion of Sridama is an accident on the part of the author is not correct. He has deliberately included Sridama for the reasons stated above. And he does so while respecting Sri Jiva Goswami and does not feel he is contradicting him.

      • I should also mention that there are differing statements in sastra—Hari Vamsa Purana, Padma Purana,etc.—regarding the family members of the Vrajabasis. For example, I mentioned Susila as Sudama’s sister. This is stated in RKGD. Rupa Goswami does not identify his sources in RKGD so we don’t know where that comes from. I do not have references handy here at this time either, but in other places it is described that all of the 20 children—8 daughters and 12 sons—that constitute the asta sakis and dvadasa gopalas are related to Radha’s family. And Nayannanda and the lineage stemming from Sundarananda (Sudama) in Gaura lila envisions Susila not as the sister of Sudama, but rather his mother, while his sister is Rupa-manjari and his cousin is Radha. Suffice to say that there is scriptural support for the notion that all of the dvadasa gopalas have a sister/cousin-like relationship with Radha, while Sridama is her “real” brother.

  15. Here is a PDF of Sri Radha-krsna-ganoddesa-dipika. For more information about the priya-narma-sakhas, just search for “priya-narma”, or any names and terms without diacritics.

  16. Dandavat Pranam all of the sources VCT Saartha Darsini tika, Gopal Campu, Radha Krishna Ganodesh dipka, Bhakti rasamrta Sindhu, list Dama as a seperate person Sridham is listed as the leader of the Priya sakhas, and though it as well list Dama vasudama Sudama, and Kinkini it is mentioned these for are actually Priya narma sakhas because of their intimacy in being the expressions of Sri Krishnas antarkaran, all these sources concur the quote of their being Priya narma is taken from the tika of Jiva Goswami on BRS. This would seem to be consistent with rasa siddhanta
    Hari Bol.

    • No one is arguing that there is not a separate gopa named Dama, separate from Sridama. The fact that the priya sakhas making up Krsna’s antahkarana are in a way priyanarma sakhas, although in lila they are not involved in Krsna’s romantic life, does not mandate that Sridama is not one of them. You basis for this position is simply that Sridama is the older brother of Radha. But all of these boys have sisters involved in Krsna’s romantic life, including the vastra harana lila. Nayananada’s point is a reasonable one and he is a priya sakha. Again, his point is that the name Dama in the relevant verses refers not to Dama gopa but to Sridama, and he supports this with grammatical and other stronger arguments concerning the primacy of Sridama among the priya sakhas. Your point ignores his arguments and also ignores the fact that Sridama as the older brother of Radha is no different than other priya sakhas in this regard, since they also have younger sisters involved in Krsna’s romantic life. Furthermore you have only raised points in your most recent post that I already raised. So it does not appear that you are following the discussion very closely. If you do not have any other relevant points to make, I see no reason to continue the discussion.

  17. I’ve found all of this very interesting… I think that arguing over who’s YUTHA and who’s Bhav for the Lord is very funny. Isn’t there something about “arguing about how many angels fit on the head of a pin” that western philosophers will quote when ridiculing “spiritual” discussions…

    Well, that being said, I have to say.. I love that I have found some authoritative analysis of the Bhaiji Loving Service to the Lord that, not only challenges the presumptiousness of those arrogant enough to think that Gopi Bhav is the be all and end all of Bhavs that one minute insignificant jiva might aspire to, desire, or attain. Give me a break.

    I’ve been in and out of Krishna Consciousness PRECiSELY because of this overbearing insistence that I, a male jiva… am only really a female jiva and I can only achieve Prem if I submit to this “materials” designation that is interpreted and expounded by some sects of the Gaudiya sampradayas…

    Thank you Lord Nitayananda for bringing me to your lotus feet and to the realization that I can aspire and maybe attain to be a speck of dust on the lotus foot of Kinkini or Subrahma and one day become one of their cowherd boyfriends.

    You Gopis are cool and all that.. AND Sri Radharani is the ultimate.. but she’s not the Only way to spend time with the Lord .. get real… or continue to count devas and devis on the head of straight pins….

    Goloka is so expansive, so un imaginable, so beyond comprehension that anything and everything is possible there in the mode of goodness and bhav…

    I will read and study over these “comments” above … very interesting. All I aspire for is to be a cowherd boyfriend of Lord Sri Krishna…. There is a reason.. that the direction of the Goswamis emphasized rupanuga and looking to Radha (Krishna’s Sakti) I’m sure you are all aware of.. but other “positions” are available in Goloka and are as perfect and pure as any that a jiva who has achieved a human form can possibly aspire to..

    Well that’s my humble and non authoritarian view… I prefer the company of cowherd boys and Krishna to a bunch of silly moonstruck Gopies….. hehehe.. just joking…

    Its a trait of Krishna’s cowherd boyfriends.. teasing and joking.. LOLOLOLOL
    Hare Krishna.

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