Published on April 17th, 2023 | by Harmonist staff0
Śrī Navadvīpāṣṭakam 2
yasmai paravyoma vadanti kecit
kecic ca goloka itīrayanti vadanti
vṛndāvanam eva taj-jañās taṁ
śrī-navadvīpam ahaṁ smarāmi
In meditation I recall Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, which some devotees proclaim is Vaikuṇṭha-paravyoma. Others say it is Goloka, but knowers of tattva exclaim, “Indeed, it is Vṛndāvana!”
In his commentary on Brahma Saṁhitā 5.5, Jīva Goswāmī explains that in the yantra depicting Goloka, Śvetadvīpa is represented by a square that frames the entire yantra. Inside this square is a circle. The area outside of this circle is Goloka, where Kṛṣṇa’s līlā is majestic, whereas the līlā inside the circle is Gokula, where his līlā is intimate. And as explained by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in his commentary on this verse, the aprakaṭa Gaura līlā is included within this inner circle. In his Gopāla-campū 1.1.21, Jīva Goswāmī refers to this inner section of Śvetadvīpa as “Paraśvetadvīpa.” And referring to this realm in Caitanya-bhāgavata 2.23.290, Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura informs us that ongoing revelation will reveal that the inner realm known as Śvetadvīpa also refers to Navadvīpa—śvetadvīpa-nāma, navadvīpa-grāma, vede prakāśiba pāche. Here Śrī Rūpa says as much: those who are tattva-jñāna know Navadvīpa to be Vṛndāvana, the Paraśvetadvīpa. And in our times my gurudeva, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, depicted this aprakaṭa Gaura līlā within Gokula just behind Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in the artwork he designed for the cover of his English translation of and commentary on the first canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. And out of love for him, his disciples distributed this artwork all over the world, fulfilling the prophecy of Ṭhākura Vṛndāvana dāsa.
Gaura līlā is not separate from Kṛṣṇa līlā. It is the natural extension of Kṛṣṇa’s prakaṭa-līlā, in which he realized the limitations of his Vraja līlā unto itself in terms of its capacity to afford him the full measure of rasa-āsvādana. Thus he turned his Vraja līlā inside out—antaḥ kṛṣṇaṁ bahir gauram—in pursuance of that taste and played it out from another vantage point with himself as love itself rather than its object. If we look closely at Gaura, we will see Kṛṣṇa. And if we look closer, we will see Rādhā as well. And just as Vraja Kṛṣṇa possesses four qualities that no other manifestation of himself possesses—rūpa-mādhurya, līlā-mādhurya, prema-mādhurya, and venu-mādhurya—so also does Gaura Hari. His rūpa is sweet; his līlā is sweet; his prema is sweet; and his venu, stolen by his associates and taking the form of the khol/mṛdaṅga—is so very sweet, as it forms the instrumental base of Gaura’s prema-saṅkīrtana and in their hands answers the highest theological questions.1
Thus, just as Gaura is Kṛṣṇa, their abodes—Vṛndāvana and Navadvīpa—are one and the same.
- Sanskrit mṛt + aṅga = mṛdaṅga, literally “clay limb.” This drum used in Gaura’s saṅkīrtana is said to be the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, the latter of which the gopīs are always scheming how to steal because it causes them to depart from socioreligious behavioral norms and run after Kṛṣṇa, bringing them into question. But should such questions be raised, śrī mṛdaṅga in the hands of Gaura’s pārṣadas broadcasts the answers. [↩]