Four Dear Friends
Published on January 6th, 2022 | by Harmonist staff57
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.
- 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. [↩]